Tag Archive: City Council

Feb 14 2014

Paul Vallone: Ready To Serve At A Moment’s Notice

Newly elected City Councilman Paul Vallone D-19.

Newly elected City Councilman Paul Vallone D-19.

It’s been little over a month since the new class of City Councilmembers were sworn in and while they’ve had just a short time to acclimate to their new responsibilities and duties, sometimes it’s not so easy getting a fully functioning office up and running ready to serve the community without delay, but newly elected Councilman Paul Vallone has done just that, and he’s ready to serve.

Located on a busy intersection off Bell Blvd. Councilman Vallone’s office held their first open house a few weeks ago inviting the entire community inside to see the progress. Once a dark and aging outcrop, Vallone relied on donations and volunteers, particularly Marsha Khan, Vice-President of the Clinton Democratic Club who helped design an ergonomic office by utilizing every inch of space. It’s truly impressive, yet what’s even more impressive is the work that goes on in here.

Beginning with a trained staff, Vallone hired brilliant advocates from the community that know the people and neighborhoods they are their to serve. Utilizing talent from his brother’s office, Jonathan Szott, now Chief of Staff helped ensure a smooth transition of Vallone’s neighborhood activism into a full service Council office. He’s even appointed local cultural and community liaison to get ears on the ground into every corner of the neighborhood.

In the meantime, while some candidates – even elects – disappear after an election (like his opponent Dennis Saffran who has not been seen since his loss), Vallone has been at every major event in northeast Queens, especially at the commitments he’s made before seeking election. It’s inspiring and hopefully will rub off on his colleagues in City Hall and all candidates to come in the future. Some people say he’s continuing a legacy, but we like to think he’s beginning his own.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2014/02/paul-vallone-ready-to-serve/

Nov 04 2013

GOP Leaders Say Goodbye To Dennis Saffran After Guiliani Embarrassment

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In this part of Queens, Rudy Guiliani is a hero and he just told everyone Dennis Saffran is a liar.

Over the weekend, Rudy Guiliani made a robocall denouncing Republican Dennis Saffran’s misleading literature, but what you may not know is that for many Republican voters in the district, this was the final straw.

In an office somewhere in Whitestone Village, a secret meeting was called by Republican vote-getters to discuss Saffran’s misuse of the Guiliani name. “Saffran’s finished!” claimed a top GOP operative slamming his fist down and spilling his cappuccino over a stack of important looking papers. Composing himself, the operative stood up and blotted the sticky mess. “My people won’t vote for Republicans this year,” he said after a brief pause and a sigh of regret. The room fell silent, then suddenly heads began to nod. Without hearing another word, they knew what needed to be done. And then the texts began. 

The message spread quickly, after all there’s not as many Republicans as Democrats (still, a lot compared to most districts), and the low number makes it manageable to reach them all, at least voters guaranteed to show up and, well, vote. Attempting to avoid a political embarrassment and save face, the Party would not make an official declaration, rather using other “unofficial” channels to get the word out including texts, social media, and old-fashioned telephone calls — which proved quite effective in Dan Halloran’s election. Anyway, in seconds, Republicans in northeast Queens would be voting for Paul Vallone, or at least not for Dennis Saffran.

Three strikes and you’re out.

Before the Guiliani call, at least in secret, republicans were withholding help from Saffran under the guise of limited resources. But now the message had clearly changed: Vote for the Democrat. Tensions began to strain between the Party and Saffran soon after he publicly switched his endorsement from Cats to Joe Lhota mid primary. Perhaps there was no better way to stick a needle in the eye of the local Party which were adamantly supporting Cats. To make matters worse, Saffran was meeting with Councilman Ulrich, whom the Party had been busy with fending off his attempts at a leadership coup. Promises were obviously made, and soon Saffran found himself alone and abandoned by the local Party, which despite its limited resources (they got Dan Halloran elected), could have given him an actual shot in this race.

The protest vote.

Still this wasn’t the final straw. Prior to the Guiliani tape, the republican sentiment was to abstain from voting for a new councilmember. Their reasoning was accompanied by a sense of general disgust and outrage with the national GOP (which will certainly play a role in other citywide elections, but that’s not the point here), as well as Dan Halloran’s recent arrest. Some Republicans would naturally cross party lines, but it was never mentioned or encouraged until now.

As if Dennis Saffran’s bid for Council wasn’t already in troubled waters, the little bit of help he could have received from the Party with GOTV will now be spending their waning hours telling their people to vote for Democrat Paul Vallone. Ouch.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/11/gopleader-say-goodbye-to-dennis-saffran-after-guiliani-embarrassment-encourages-voters-to-do-the-same/

Oct 29 2013

Cheers & Jeers at Craig Caruana, Liz Crowley Debate

Sparks fly as candidates for City Council District 30 go head-to-head in a lively debate hosted by the Juniper Park Civic Association.

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/10/craig-caruana-liz-crowley-debate-jpca/

Oct 25 2013

Rising Star In Queens Council Race: Daniel Peterson

For more information or to make a contribution to Peterson 2013, kindly visit www.peterson2013.com.

For more information or to make a contribution to Peterson 2013, kindly visit www.peterson2013.com.

Noteworthy candidates are rising to the occasion and stepping up to the plate for a chance to bring fairness and independent thinking to the council chambers.

by: Raquel Okyay

 

As popular Queens’ Democrat councilman is term limited out of office, the Republican candidate, Daniel P. Peterson said he would add a much-needed pragmatic voice into a city government that needs constraint.

“Our city legislature needs common-sense conservatives who know how to balance a checkbook,” said Peterson, a real estate lease administrator who is the Republican Party candidate for New York City Council, District 22 which represents Astoria and parts of East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

Democrat Peter F. Vallone Jr. has been the district’s councilman since 2002.  There are five individuals on the ballot in the general election.  Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The city legislature primarily votes on budget matters and requests for discretionary spending,
said Peterson.  “With nearly 95% of the council advocating liberal policies, the tax payers are being fleeced.”

Being a council representative is not just about “bringing home the bacon” for district improvements, he said. “We can encourage businesses and citizens to work together to invest in Astoria.”

“As councilman, I will work with all non-profit organizations with fundraising when there are no discretionary funds available; and I will propose legislation offering tax relief to small businesses that provide financial assistance to after-school programs, events and community improvements,” he said.

The New York City council currently has just 4 Republicans and 47 Democrats, he said. “Unfortunately, the Republican Party continues its failure to communicate in an effective way causing frustration with conservative voters.”

The New York State Republican Party flounders without presenting core values, said Peterson, who has been employed in the private sector for over 25 years.  “The GOP fails to have a cohesive message that brings in new voters.”

“I pre-registered to vote when I was 17 years-old so I would be able to vote for mayor in 1989,” he said. “I have consistently voted in 3 out of every 4 year election cycles since.”

It was his disapproval of Michael Bloomberg’s actions, as mayor that sparked his interest in local politics, he said.   “The mayor increased property taxes by 18.5% and he began rolling out his anti-liberty, nanny-state policies.”

However, the worst move Bloomberg could make was to refinance the city’s debt from the 1970s, he said.  “The city was scheduled to pay off its debt in 2008, yet instead of spending cuts and shrinking government, Bloomberg struck a deal to continue making debt payments into the 2030s.”

The ability to make tough decisions in order to balance the budget is what we expect from city government, said Peterson.   “The Democrats want to raise taxes to expand the size of government even more.  I would call for an audit of all city agencies to see which ones we can consolidate and which ones we can fold.”

“As city councilman, I would advocate we sell city-owned land we do not need so we can cut property taxes,” he said.  “I would move to pass legislation that provides tax relief to small businesses that invest in the communities they operate in.”

Astoria is seeing new development over the past few years that demands careful accounting, he said.  “Some of these developers have donated to my Democrat opponent’s campaign.”

If elected to the city council, the Queens native said he would keep a scornful eye on quid-pro-quodeals.  “Tax payer funded projects sometimes fuel special-interest groups who expect payback in return.”

Developers continue to build without regard to congestion and safety precautions, said Peterson. “We need responsible development that does not overpopulate our town or create hazards. Improving traffic patterns, expanding bus service and proposing ferry service along the waterfront are ways to help relieve congestion.”

Providing English classes to immigrants struggling to integrate into society is a task he is willing to take-on, he said.  “Adult education is an extremely important avenue for finding employment.”

“Astoria is an immigrant community with many different languages spoken in the home,” he said.   “I would look to open more English language centers, so our newest New Yorkers can communicate with their neighbors and assist their children with homework.”

Keeping the community involved is key to operating a city as diverse as New York, said the Queens Borough Community College graduate.  “I would hold town hall meetings throughout the district discussing topics from education to jobs to home ownership.”

Peterson said liberal policies have been hurting New Yorkers and that is something he would like to see change.  “I can provide new ideas and solutions to a struggling community.”

“Astoria is a unique place to live,” he said.  “We have street fairs and block parties every summer; these events bring business, non-profits and the community together.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/10/rising-star-in-queens-race-daniel-peterson/

Aug 30 2013

AARP Presents Top Issues For Political Debate

aarp

Includes top issues and debate schedule below.

[Press Release] Top Issues for City’s Most Powerful Voting Bloc on Agenda for AARP Queens City Council Debate 

Queens 50+ Voters Concerned About Retirement, Age Discrimination, Safety, Caregivers, Health Care, AARP Survey Finds; Seek Answers From Candidates

QUEENS, New York – With a new survey showing Queens voters age 50 and above have major concerns about key issues facing older city residents – and with voters 50+ expected to account for more than half the electorate in this fall’s elections – candidates for the open 27th City Council District seat will debate the issues at an AARP-sponsored debate next week.

The debate for the seat currently held by Democrat Leroy G. Comrie Jr. will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Sept. 5 at York College, 94-20 Guy R. Blvd., Queens, 11451.

The event is one of five City Council debates AARP is sponsoring next week ahead of the primary elections Sept. 10 and general elections Nov. 5 – and following the successful mayoral town hall forum AARP co-sponsored on August 6.

recent AARP survey found about three quarters to four fifths of the 50+ Queens voters surveyed said they’re “extremely” or “very” likely to support candidates who’ll work on:

-          Cutting health care and health insurance costs (82 percent),

-          Supporting New Yorkers who provide care at home for an adult loved one who is ill, frail, elderly or disabled (79 percent),

-          Safeguarding New Yorkers against consumer scams, identify theft or fraud (79 percent),

-          Helping New Yorkers have enough money for a financially secure retirement (80 percent),

-          Ensuring work opportunities for New Yorkers as they age (75 percent),

-          Maintaining safe and independent mobility around town for New Yorkers of all ages (73 percent),

-          Ensuring New Yorkers can afford to stay in their homes  (82 percent)

-        Nearly three quarters of Queens respondents (73 percent) expressed concerns about age discrimination at work, while nearly half (48 percent) said they expect to delay their retirement for financial reasons.

The survey also showed big majorities of Queens 50+ voters think city elected officials should make it their “top” or a “high” priority to work on: 

-          Laws, regulations and policies that support older workers (70 percent),

-          Promoting age friendly living in New York City (72 percent).

-          Strengthening laws and regulations and funding services that support family caregivers (77 percent). In fact, of the 36 percent of Queens 50+ voters who have provided care to an adult relative, friend or spouse who is ill, frail, elderly or has a disability in the past five years, 58 percent said caregiving put a strain on the quality of life for themselves and their family, including financial hardship, emotional stress and stress at work.

“New Yorkers will get a new mayor next year, but many neighborhoods will also get a new City Council representative who will have an important say in the future of the city,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York. “Research shows AARP members will likely make up half the electorate, and our goal through these City Council debates is to ensure the candidates address issues of importance to older New Yorkers – through the campaign and once in office.”

Candidates will answer questions posed by a moderator.

AARP conducted the telephone survey of 1,302 registered city voters age 50 and older, including 309 in Queens, between May 17 and June 30. The total survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent.

Other AARP-sponsored City Council debates will be held in districts:

- 7, seat currently held by Robert Jackson, D-Manhattan (6:30-8:30 Sept. 4 at City College’s Aaron Davis Hall, 138 Convent Ave., Manhattan, 10031),

- 15, seat currently held by Joel Rivera, D-Bronx (10 a.m.-noon Sept. 4 at Fordham University, 441 E. Fordham Road, Bronx, N.Y., 10458),

- 34, seat currently held by Diana Reyna, D-Brooklyn (4:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 5 at United Methodist Parish In Bushwick, 1139 Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn, 11221), and,

- 35, seat currently held by Letitia James, WFP-Brooklyn (10 a.m.-Noon Sept. 6, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, 85 S. Oxford Street, Brooklyn, 11217).

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/08/aarp-presents-top-issues-for-debate/

Aug 27 2013

Paul Vallone Is The Best Choice For City Council District 19

 

Paul-Vallone2

Paul stands out from the rest. Vote Paul Vallone on Sept. 10th.

The people of northeast Queens will be best served by Paul Vallone as our next City Councilman. That’s why we’re proud to endorse him in his run for City Hall.

Paul has a long history of service to this community in a plethora of leadership roles from civic activism to parish volunteerism. His law office on Francis Lewis Blvd. is more like a community center. People in this community already know they are welcome in a place that will try it’s hardest to be your advocate and to lend a helping hand.

An attorney by trade, Vallone is soft-spoken, intelligent and humble — qualities not always on display in the City Council chambers at 260 Broadway. He’s smart, confident, and ready to lead.

Building better communities where all people — from grandparents to kids — can safely live, work and play requires elected officials who champion integrity and responsibility to the community first and foremost. Vallone, with his undeniable history of community service and commitment to neighborhood safety issues best exemplifies these qualities which were recently recognized by endorsements from the City’s top law enforcement unions including: The Patrolmen Benevolent Association, The Sergeants, The Corrections, The Captains, The Lieutenants, The Detectives, and The Fire Marshals Benevolent Associations – just to name a few.

Civic leaders from across the district have also recognized Paul Vallone as an asset to the community. Neighborhood organization presidents like Warren Schreiber and Devon O’ Connor including CB11 Chair Jerry Iannece, as well as every elected official from Congresswoman Grace Meng to District Leader Mary Ann Dorsa (including the entire Queens County Democratic Organization) have all endorsed Paul Vallone as the best choice for District 19.

Small businesses makeup the core of the economic engine in District 19. Small businesses provide jobs, and CD19 is the perfect place to incubate these businesses and help them grow. In these tough economic times we can’t afford punitive fees that hit those that can least afford them. That’s why we need a candidate with the experience of a small businesses owner to represent the interests of small businessmen in City Hall. Paul’s commitment to small businesses has already earned him the nod from The Murray Hill Business Association and The Flushing Chinese Business Association, including The Presidents Co-Op & Condo Council– just to name a few organizations that have recognized Vallone through their respective endorsements as the best of six candidates in this competitive primary election.

In less than two weeks, we have a real opportunity to influence what happens in our community, to have a say in the direction our future will collectively take. It does not get any more representative than this. Do not waste this chance because the chance becomes only more and more distant as time goes on. We hope you vote. We hope you participate. We hope you make your voice heard in your community to elect an independent voice into City Hall that will always be accountable to the people. Most importantly, we hope you make your choice based on this notion: This is not a choice between Democrats, this is a choice between bringing our community into the future or lagging behind.

On September 10th Vote Paul Vallone For City Council. Happy voting, everyone.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/08/paul-vallone-is-the-best-choice-for-council-district-19/

Aug 23 2013

Vazquez Gears Up For General Election

Martha

We’re sure Vazquez will run a spirited campaign on the issues, but for her the real fight looms next year.

Long-time Democratic activist and District Leader Martha Flores Vazquez is once again making news.

Vasquez, who has successfully defeated the Queens County Democratic Organization and powerful political figures to maintain her district leadership, is now seeking an uphill fight in a city council race against powerful incumbent Peter Koo.

Those who know Vasquez as a savvy political operative and good government advocate know that she has little to no chance of defeating Peter Koo but Vazquez felt that all elected officials should have an election in November especially when it comes to electing candidates to a 4-year term.

Sources close to the Queens Democratic Party say Vazquez is crazy like a fox. While she knows her chances at victory are slim, Vazquez is keeping her name recognition high and campaigning to take a second bite at the apple for state assembly while maintaining her district leadership post.

Vazquez will be running on the Independent Jobs and Education ballot, line D in the general election.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/08/martha-flores-vazquez-gears-up-for-general-election/

Jul 17 2013

Eric Ulrich: The Quintessential class A narcissist (& Fake, Failed & Corrupt Councilmember) Letter to Editor

12155-s-pa-governor-ulrich-300x200[Letter to the Editor]

Dear QUEENS-POLITICS Editor:

 

I am not the least bit surprised about the recent story regarding the capricious, arbitrary and politically motivated firing of Rolaine Antoine.  Eric Ulrich belongs in a jail cell, right next to Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her demigod, Michael Bloomberg.  All three have flagrantly abused public trust, public service and breaches of honest, ethical leadership that can never redeem themselves.  As a constituent of Ulrich, I have received epic failure regarding my requested help of him to look into an incomplete investigation that the Department of Investigations claimed to have begun two decades ago last month, that his office has total purview to demand accountability.  Likewise, Christine Quinn has even more power to insist upon honest, ethical leadership in city government to answer to a constituent like me.  My New York City pension and retirement accounts have been purged, ambushed and sabotaged by official city and state misconduct (in equal measure by the New York City Transit Authority , and MTA Office of the Inspector General – State of New York, where they ignored obvious corruption and cover up, and contradicted firmly established evidence that they themselves called upon me to produce).

 No matter which agency or official I turn to for help, it’s the same hostile, confrontational reply that clearly enforces a “Delay, deny and hope that you die” stance.  The decades long corruption that continues to entrench city and state government is more insidious and destructive than organized crime.  Likewise, Assemblymen Michael Miller and Michele Titus continue to mistreat me, their former and present constituent like raw sewage, and misbehaving on public payrolls with an arrogance, hostility and dereliction of public duty that is unwavering and unprecedented.  Is this the role of New York government agencies in the 21st century, to behave with lawlessness, selective representation and taxation without representation.  I always believed that any citizen who presents their respective representatives with solid evidence of corruption, cover up, pension fraud, unfair labor practices and any and all levels of official misconduct and abuse of power would be properly heard, followed by a corrective course of action that would demand restitution, back pay, attorney fees, social security contributions and all manner of relief that reestablishes a victim as “whole.”

Not so with Ulrich and his caravan of total corruption, mismanagement, dysfunction, incompetence and deceitful practices that defy accountable leadership (that leads by example).  In fact, the  absolute corruption in Ulrich’s brief political life alone is so egregious and unconscionable, that it demands an investigation that concludes with impeachment from public service—and banished for life.  But, seriously, how likely is that to happen within a borough like Queens County, where the murky waters of cronyism, nepotism, favoritism, corruption, graft, cover up, favoritism and a reckless disregard for law, order and obeying their constituents just keep getting swampier by the minute.  The system is rigged for failure, and Ulrich brazenly (and under delusional cover) believes that he and his henchmen are exalted.

My only hope is for Ms. Antoine to retain a bulldog lawyer (like Joseph Tacopina), and sue Ulrich and the Board of Elections with a cause of action that forces these corrupt and dysfunctional agencies and persons into a new era of accountability, integrity, maturity, self-control and for the very first time throughout the annals of Queens County history, a platform of honest, ethical leadership.  Given the flagrant abuses of power, privilege and ignoring the will of constituents like me, I don’t ever believe that there will be leadership (that was needed two decades ago), to permanently change the way corruption, misconduct and patronage destroys public trust, before the end of my natural life span.  Is anyone listening to the people whom they purportedly represent?  Certainly not any of the intensely incompetent, cradle-to-grave cronies within the corridors of staggering power at Ulrich headquarters!

 

Sincerely,

 

RICHARD C. IRITANO

107-41 107th Street

Ozone Park, New York   11417-2316

917/837-2573

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/07/eric-ulrich-the-quintessential-class-a-narcissist-and-fake-failed-and-corrupt-councilman/

Jul 15 2013

Multiple Challenges Filed Against Queens Candidates

One of the more interesting points of NYC electoral law is the ability to challenge a candidate’s designating petitions, and this year no one is above suspicion.

Following an initial set of general objections, which you can view below, ‘specs’ must be filed for the next round of challenges which include a line by line audit for compliance using an ultra complicated list of requirements.

Objections are always strategic. With the low minimum requirement of signatures for Council candidates as required by law this year, it is more feasible to stop their name from appearing on the ballot than, say, for Mayor or Borough Prez due to the volume of signatures and the small window allotted to file such objections. This is why candidates typically collect 3-4 times the minimum required because in all reality, none of them are perfect. Wise candidates will let their electoral attorney loose (along with a few good interns) to knock the opposition off the ballot.

Check out the official ledger below. Click to enlarge. More to follow.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/07/challenges-filed-against-queens-candidates/

Jun 25 2013

Senator Gianaris & Assemblywoman Simotas Endorse Paul Vallone For Council

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Paul Vallone is recognized for his commitment to seniors, schools, and public safety.

A bevy of Queens community leaders and elected officials have recognized Paul Vallone, candidate for District 19, as their pick for City Council in the northeast section of Queens.

Senator Gianaris recognized the commitment  Vallone has demonstrated to his community which includes Whitestone, College Point, Bayside Auburndale, parts of Flushing, Little Neck, and Douglaston.

“I have known Paul Vallone for many years and am confident he is the right person to serve in the City Council. Paul has represented the people of Queens as a lawyer and as a community organizer for his entire life. His dedication to community service makes him a fantastic choice for City Council and I am proud to support him,” said the Senator.

Assemblywoman Simotas also spoke highly of the candidate, “I am proud to endorse Paul Vallone for City Council. His proven track record as a community advocate will be critical in serving the needs of Northeast Queens. Paul is committed to making our schools strong and our streets safe, and under his leadership families can be assured that their voice will be represented at City Hall.”

The endorsement of Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and Senator Mike Gianaris follows Congresswoman Grace Meng and State Assemblyman Ron Kim who also gave Vallone the nod.

Don’t be surprised to see more notable leaders rise to the occasion.

gianaris, vallone, simotas pic

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/06/assemblywoman-simotas-sen-gianaris-endorse-paul-vallone-for-council/

May 01 2013

No Second Term For Troubled Councilman

 

Dan Halloran

How about an endorsement?

Say goodbye to Councilman Dan Halloran.

First tweeted by NYDN’s reporter Lisa Colangelo, City Councilman Dan Halloran will not be seeking reelection to the 19th Council District.

In the past month Halloran has faced a number of federal criminal charges as well as an ethics probe from his colleagues. In response, Halloran finally crumbled under the enormous pressure and issued a statement announcing he will not seek reelection as he continues to vindicate his honor.

“Regrettably, I must now focus my attention on clearing my name and restoring my reputation, while I continue to discharge my sworn duties as a member of the New York City Council,” according to a press release from Halloran’s office.

Halloran was one of three Republicans in City Council.

Just a quick recap, Queens attorney Dennis Saffran (who was recently endorsed by the Queens GOP) has declared his intention, meanwhile the rest of the political world is still speculating about Rudy Guiliani’s second cousin stepping up to the plate. Halloran’s former Chief-of-Staff, Democrat Chrissy Voskerichian also filed a campaign committee.

More to follow.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/05/dan-halloran-drops-out-cd19/

May 01 2013

Shafran’s Finances Linked To Donald Manes

 

manes shafran

A chip off the ol’ block.

Generational Tweeding.

We’ve been blogging about the shady developments regarding the sudden appearance of life tweeder Austin Shafran trying to steal a council seat in a district he has never been seen or heard of (he’s also an elected District Leader outside the Council District, but that’s not the point). When we look at the numbers an interesting pattern emerges: a lifetime of tweed-like corruption and graft passed on from the previous generation vis-à-vis disgraced former Queensboro President Donald Manes.

Luckily, Queenscrap connected the dots and broke down the campaign finance report with some very interesting finds. Read the commentary below, click the links then ask yourself, is this the right man to dig our Council District out from the hole, or do we need another national embarrassment before we wake up?

 

Well, now we know how Austin Shafran got his job there [Empire State Development Corp]. The Shafrans have been hooked up since the days of Donald Manes. In fact, Austin’s campaign contribution list reads like Donald Manes’ rolodex.  Here are some of the contributors:

 

  • Lester Shafran (and wife Beth) – Uncle, ex-head of the PVB, found guilty in the scandal.
  • Sid Davidoff & Stephen Malito – Davidoff was Manes’ best friend and lawyer, pushed for the Grand Prix raceway and represented the USTA for their expansion in 1993. Davidoff and Malito are political fixers, bar none.
  • Then we have Sean Crowley working for Davidoff.  Another lobbyist involved in some not-too-civic friendly projects from another family that thrives only on nepotism.
  • Michael Nussbaum – Manes’ bagman in a bribery scandal – $250,000 to get a cable television franchise – who had his conviction reversed and now is in sole control of the Queens Tribune.

Here’s a summary of where some of Shafran’s current contributions come from (total = $58,802):
Political / Elected Officials /Candidates /Government $9,890 
Donald Manes Associates and Intermediaries $4,200
Lobbyists (they show up on the NYC Lobbyist search) $1,500
Unions $8,450
Real Estate / Developers / Construction $4,275
Lawyers $1,675
Employees of:
Epoch Times $1,850
Union Plaza Nursing Home $1,350
Parker Jewish Institute $800

This constitutes 58% of Shafran’s contributions.

Do you folks in eastern Queens want to return to the days of Donald Manes?

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/05/austin-shafrans-tweeding-linked-to-donald-manes/

Mar 29 2013

Blame Game For Contaminated Field Project

blame_game-300x239Factual inaccuracies abound when issues become overly politicized.

Why is Tony Avella so quiet on a project he approved? Because he has QueensCrap and Paul Graziano doing his dirty work spreading lies and political propaganda about the contaminated Waterpointe site in northeast Queens.

Let’s look at the facts. In the beginning, the community was enthusiastic about this multi-million dollar development project because the original plan as put forward by the Bayrock Group, a Manhattan developer, included an environmental remediation initiative plus construction of a water front park on what was widely considered an underutilized and historically contaminated barren manufacturing wasteland.

The 18-acre plot  at 151-45 Sixth Road in Whitestone served as a former industrial base, a trucking depot, as well as an asphalt plant. The land has a history of contamination and was designated a state Brown field cleanup site because of the presence of contamination, and everyone in the community wanted it cleaned up.

But before construction and environmental remediation could begin, the land needed to be rezoned. Constantinople and Vallone represented Bayrock to change the zoning of Waterpointe Landing from industrial M1-1 to R3-2 residential. The community was pleased with the rezoning, which easily passed everyone’s muster, and the project enjoyed the support of Community Board 7, and elected officials with particular support by then-Councilman Avella, now state Sen. Tony Avella.

By all accounts, Avella blessed and loved this project. But in 2008, Bayrock, like many other companies, went belly up and defaulted on their loans. Financially, the project was in the toilet and the bank took back the note and eventually sold the property to the Edgestone Group in 2012.

But Barone Management, which has been the primary tenant since 2005, remained to manage the Brownfield cleanup.

Herein is the issue: fast forward six years later before Edgestone acquired the property, and years after anyone associated with Bayrock changed the zoning, contaminated soil was dumped on Waterpointe from a former Superfund site – all while under the supervision of Barone Management and EBI Consulting, according to a lawsuit by Edgestone.

After a FOIL request, the contaminated soil was traced back to an address in Brooklyn. The Times Ledger provides the background:

“That is the same address where in 1997 a company called All Plating Corp. was abandoned and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later cleaned up leaking hazardous materials under its Superfund program, according to the EPA. A Superfund site is a hazardous waste site that poses harm to surrounding communities and is cleaned up under the EPA.

“[EPA] … found an incompatible mix of heavy metals, acids, corrosives and other hazardous materials improperly stored in leaking drums and bags,” the agency said in a 1998 news release. “Several open vats and tanks containing a variety of chemicals and heavy metals are also inside the deteriorated building where fires and vandalism have occurred. Two trailers are parked outside the building that contain corrosives and acids in pails and drums.”

So let’s get the facts straight. After the much hailed rezoning was completed in 2007, Constantinople and Vallone no longer represented Bayrock’s interests in the site. But even years after the relationship was terminated, and after the land changed ownership, a few misdirected political operatives are still trying to link Paul Vallone to the dumping.

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A rendering of the proposed development.

Because of the change of ownership, Edgewater needed to apply for an extension of time for the Special Permit through the Community Board, which normally is an administrative approval, but because of the contaminated and illegal dumping, it became a bone of contention and everyone in the community wanted the place cleaned up first.

Meanwhile the heroes that hoped to transform the site from an industrial wasteland into a viable residential neighborhood project (which included a stipulation for environmental remediation) are being trashed with factual inaccuracies while a critical issue is being overly politicized and spearheaded by a recently formed syndicate of politically motivated operatives meant to misdirect the voters attention.

And now, while some blogs try to point the finger at certain candidates, the real crooks who actually did the dumping are getting away with what can only be described as a neighborhood atrocity.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/03/lets-play-blame-game-for-contaminated-field-project/

Jan 16 2013

Council Members Graded On Human Rights

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Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer is the only elect from Queens to receive an A grade.

The Queens Delegation received a C+ from a study by The Human Rights Project: City Council Watch.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer came in with an A, the highest score of the Queens delegation.

The cumulative C+ grade ranks Queens as the second lowest human rights score among the five boroughs.

“This publication is a tool for education and for action, designed to advance the use of a human rights framework in policy evaluation and advocacy. It also measures the commitment of the New York City Council to promoting human rights in our city,” according to the website.

See Grades Below. Read about their methodology here.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/01/council-graded-on-human-rights/

Jan 10 2013

WFP Backs Richards

Working Families Party endorses Donovan Richards for City Council in the upcoming special election.

Press Release: Today, leaders in the Working Families Party announced their support for Donovan Richards for New York City Council, running in a February special election to fill the vacancy created by James Sanders’ election to the State Senate.

WFP backing for Richards will earn him the support of WFP’s formidable activist base.

“A district that’s still badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy needs a champion for working families like Donovan Richards,” said Bill Lipton, Deputy Director of the Working Families Party. “Donovan has fought gun violence and protected libraries, schools and hospitals from cuts and closure. He’ll be a tremendous addition to the City Council.”

In 2009, WFP backing helped elect several progressive New York City Council Members, including Julissa Ferreras, Danny Dromm, and Jimmy van Bramer in Queens, Jumaane Williams, Brad Lander and Steve Levin in Brooklyn and Debi Rose on Staten Island, as well as Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/01/wfp-backs-donovan-richards/

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