Tag Archive: Council Member

Oct 31 2011

Dan Halloran Speaks Up For The Neighborhood

“I’ll park every fucking city agency down here for the rest of fucking two years.”  “I’m not fucking joking. Either these doors stay closed, top to bottom, all the fucking time or we’re gonna have a problem! This is the last time we have this conversation!” These comments were the focus of a Daily News article that lost sight of a serious quality of life issue.

An article in the The Daily News tried to pigeon hole Councilman Dan Halloran as “hot-headed.”

Sounds like a case of gotcha journalism. The article published on October 29th titled, ‘Councilman lashes out with curse-filled rant at Queens auto business’ lost sight of a serious quality of life issue behind the clever headline.

The Star Nissan Dealership on 172nd St in Auburndale has been the subject of serious concern at  civic organizations. Residents are fed up with the lack of parking, the screaming car alarms and the pneumatic air drills that pierce your eardrums at 4AM.

The sounds of labor can be refreshing and it’s good to know people are hard at work but it’s also good to be able to get a full night’s sleep.


Dan Halloran tried to negotiate with the dealership on several occasions and last week he had enough of the runaround and lip service.  The Daily News article focused the  story on Dan’s self-described “NY dressing down,” highlighting the demand for an apology for his comments in the first sentence. Elements of the story were arranged in such a way that uninformed readers could get the wrong impression. The article also used an unflattering picture of the Council Member and failed to adequately disclose the frustration of the neighborhood that manifested in Dan’s  colorful language.

Queens-Politics contacted Councilman Dan Halloran who had this to say,

“Star Nissan has abused our neighborhood for ten years, making noise 24/7 and ignoring complaints from neighbors and violations from the City.  Now I’m calling them out, and they have the gall to ask for an apology.  I don’t owe an apology to Star Nissan.  Star Nissan owes an apology to Auburndale.”

Maybe the reporter has never been to Auburndale? Hats off to the Council Member  for speaking his mind on behalf of the silent majority in the neighborhood.



Permanent link to this article: https://queens-politics.com/2011/10/dan-halloran/

Oct 27 2011

Oh No, The South Queens Insurgency Is Sinking Fast!

Credit Juniper Park Patriots Photo

Original or fried?

It will take years for the Queens GOP to recover from the recklessness of Machiavellian schemer of the year, Tom Ognibene and his gang of cohorts.

As you know, John Haggerty was sentenced to prison for stealing from Mayor Bloomberg, but readers want to know, is he in cahoots with his brother Bart, infamous political operative, and Chief of Staff to City Council Member Eric Ulrich (R-Rockaway)?

Could it be the same guy trying to steal the Queens GOP chairmanship?


Yes he is. The money John siphoned from the Mayor’s campaign war chest was used as a payoff to his brother Bart Haggerty for a fancy house on a hill where they presumably ate the fruit from the poisoned tree.

What does this mean for the Queens GOP power debacle?

Former GOP Chairman Serphin Maltese, last of the Romans, kept the Haggerty’s on a leash by keeping them hungry and feeding them tiny morsels like dogs under the kitchen table. Little did Serph know he was inadvertently feeding  their malevolent lust for power.

I had a mental picture of the courtroom. Who would stand on the Ognibene side? A few nobody’s and a pesky critter known as Eric Ulrich? Yep, according to reports, that’s all that showed up.

It was like a scene from the OK Corral, but much more like the last stand of Colonel Sanders.

Birds of a feather…

Ognibene is no stranger to controversy, he was once named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an unrelated case involving bribery. While the final decision to end the civil war is still pending, in the criminal trial of John Haggerty bail was set at $250,000 because Judge Zweibel heard that John may have an Irish passport that he could have used to skip town. It may not be true, but I wouldn’t put it past him.

Mayor gets screwed, but it’s really a drop in the bucket for him. Still doesn’t justify theft. So would Mayor Bloomberg hire one of the Haggertys, again? Doubtful. Bloomberg is almost term-limited out of office, so they won’t be needed. Will we ever see the likes of the Haggertys influencing the underworld of Queens politics? No, but we will still see Tom Ognibene’s sometimes arch-rival, Bart Haggerty pulling the strings of marionette councilmember Eric Ulrich, the warlord of South Queens.

Queens GOP spokesman Robert Hornak whom in a previous interview, predicted the outcome of the trial and lends his foresight on the chairmanship struggle.

“I think this is their last hurrah, John Haggerty will be in a state-house [prison] and Tom Ognibene… he’ll find something else to do.”

He also summed up the tenure of Ulrich as the Benedict Arnold Council Member who turned his back on the party that helped get him elected in 2009.

Eric is somewhat immature and short-sighted for an elected official. It’s probably to feed his ego and personal aspirations.” 

It’s just too bad they couldn’t work things out with Chairman Phil. They really believed Ragusa was a sitting duck, according to an inside source. This squabbling is nothing new. Bart Haggerty filed the same suit challenging Ragusa in 2005, and 2007. In 2009 they played nice to win the Council seat for Eric in Howard Beach, District 32. Friends today. Enemies tomorrow. No consistency. They never trusted any of the real Queens GOP from the north.

They didn’t even trust each other. Ognibene strung Bart along, while Bart thought he strung Ognibene along. They both hated Ragusa.

Ognibene and company used to toy around with disgraced GOP City Council Member Dennis Gallagher who was arrested for raping a grandmother above his campaign office, presumably on the same desk where Ulrich ate his lunch. The charges were later dropped after Dennis pled guilty to misdemeanor sex charges for assaulting the elderly woman. Democrat Liz Crowley now holds the seat.

Political Parties Pool Their Resources

I saw Dennis Gallagher while working a poll site in Flushing for John Liu and Yen Chou. Dennis was setting up sandwich boards for now Council Member Peter Koo (R-20). He shot me a cockeyed look when I noticed he went beyond the point of electioneering setting up Peter Koo’s sandwich boards with big bold red lettering on the side that read “Property of Mike Ricatta.”  In 2008 Mike hired a giant campaign bus with “Mike Ricatto Special Election 32nd City Council District” emblazoned on the side to drive up and down Cross Bay Blvd. The bus hit and killed an innocent kid. My heart goes out to that little boy.

Ognibene never liked me and I never liked him. He took issue with my graduate degree in American Government, which Eric had not finished, my board  membership in a very liberal democratic club, and he got wind of the fact  that I tutored Eric in Graduate School in American Government. Ognibene from the start was always breathing down my neck and making me feel very uncomfortable. You could cut the tension with a knife. I had to get out of there quickly. I resigned partly because I felt Ognibene wanted to run his own campaign through Eric, and a better opportunity had arose for me elsewhere with more level headed folk. Ognibene had prior plans to install Bart as Eric’s Chief of Staff – after all the work was complete – so there was no room for me anyway. I left a few weeks before the general election and helped John Liu become Comptroller of the City of New York.

Chairman Phil was almost unanimously elected at the Flushing Reception House.

The only exception was bootlicking former State Assembly Candidate and GOP District Leader Anthony Nunziato, who is scared to death of Tom Ognibene and who once tried to stick me with the bill for his $45 T-bone and Ceasar salad at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse in Bayside. He showed up to Ragusas meeting and voted Ognibene. No surprise there.

Why so much struggle over a Chairmanship? Azi Paybarah explains in Capital New York:

“Here’s the thing: The person who takes control of the party now will be at the helm as the city enters the 2013 election cycle, where the mayor’s seat and nearly every other city office will be up for grabs. 

Candidates who have the resources to do so will presumably sprinkle lots of money around to organizations and clubs as they seek to form new bonds and underwrite campaign activities. A chairman’s organization is one good place to spend money.

The chairman of a county organization also has a powerful role to play in granting a waiver to allow non-party members to run on their ballot, granting what’s known as a Wilson-Pakula. So, being chairman does have its perks.”

Bart and Ognibene are two different people with divergent agendas. They don’t seem to match up -although they are united by their passion for cracking off color  jokes. I’ll never forget that one. You laughed. You’re all guilty of xenophobia. There’s something to be said about that. Ulrich hired, or had to hire, Tom Ognibene’s son, Guy Ognibene as Legislative Director. So the proof is in the pudding. Nepotism.

It took the prospect of unseating Phil to settle their rocky relationship and bring the ol’ South Queens gang back together.

If everyone played nice than maybe we would have a solid Republican voice in Queens. Stealing is very bad guys, but not all is lost. The GOP have a fresh hope on the northside, so it’s a step in the right direction for the party. I’m not going to sing Chairman Phil’s praises but he’s clearly better choice for the future. Without them, the Democratic machine would run unopposed!

Cheers to Tom Ognibene, the soon to be the exiled pariah of the Queens GOP. Maybe he’ll open a chicken stand? I don’t know, email me about it info@queens-politics.com.


Permanent link to this article: https://queens-politics.com/2011/10/tom-ognibene/

Oct 07 2011

Gennaro Puts Government Regulators In The Hot Seat

Council Member Jim Gennaro (D-24: Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Hillcrest Estates, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, Utopia Estates, & parts of Forest Hills, Flushing, Jamaica & Rego Park) is concerned about the environmental consequences of hydrofracking for all New Yorkers.

In an exclusive interview, QP speaks with Council Member James Gennaro, Chairman of the City Council Environmental Protection Committee on his mission to save our water,  thus proving that pollution does not abide by political boundaries.

Gennaro is not your ordinary Council Member, he’s also a trained geologist. What does a geologist do in the NYC Council? They offer a scientific approach to environmental public policy making. Gennaro is the Council’s point-man on environmental policy. Even though we’ve never met, I liked him immediately.

Gennaro received national acclaim in 2010 for his prominent role in Gas Land, a feature picture that examines the dangers of Hydrofracking, an issue with serious environmental consequences for the people of Queens.

Fracking, according to the Safe Water Movement is an energy and water intensive, highly toxic process whereby methane trapped in impermeable rock (shale and tight sands) is extracted from the ground by pumping chemicals into the Earth.

On September 28th, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released Hydro-Fracking regulations, which are the rules Big Energy corporations must abide by in order to operate. Gennaro said these regulations were based on a fatally flawed draft of an Environmental Impact Statement that was completed in just three weeks and escaped public scrutiny.

Oh my.

According to the press release,

“In a legitimate environmental regulatory process, the environmental impact statement (EIS) – which is supposed to inform the drafting of environmental regulations – is finalized before the drafting of regulations is commenced. During the finalization process  (Finalizing an EIS involves the submission of public comments to the DEC, written responses to the comments by the DEC, public hearings on the EIS by the DEC, etc.) In this case, these regulations are not only informed by a draft EIS, but an EIS that is, as stated above, a fatally-flawed document that does not come close to assessing properly the myriad of environmental issues and impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing.”

Gennaro’s Interview With QP:

Jim, I know you’re the EPC chair, but other than that, why is Hydrofracking a critical issue for you?

“[Hydrofracking] places the NYC water supply at risk,” said Gennaro who dedicated 21 years of his career to the protection of the NYC watershed and the water it produces for Queens residents.

What headway have you made so far?

“On Fracking — myself and Speaker Christie Quinn and the Bloomberg administration, I think the city has had some success in getting the state to recognize the precious nature of the water supply.” The Cuomo administration and the DEC under Cuomo placed bans on fracking in certain watersheds in Syracuse and other areas.  But the battle is far from over.

According to Gennaro,

“Primary aquifers have been placed off limits to fracking. If you really want to protect you need not only the 2000 square mile watershed but also an adequate buffer with regard to the city’s critical water supply tunnels.”

Policy aside, let’s talk geology. What’s so bad about hydrofracking?

“[Hydrofracking] is an inherently environmentally problematic endeavor.

How So? Tell me more.

“This is just an activity that creates abundant contamination to water supplies but also on the surface, through truck trips, erosion, and pipelines to form a network to transport this gas to the water.” But there’s more to the damage, there is subsurface damage, said Gennaro, and a lot of air quality issues.

Who’s in charge of hydrofracking regulations? Who will save us?

“There is no federal regulation of this activity. This is an industry that can go state to state.”  Energy companies seek a lax regulatory paradigm, he said.

“Although New York will be stricter in the other states to have this process. This is clearly the type of activity that cries out for federal regulation.”

Why aren’t the feds doing anything about this dangerous process?

“The federal EPA is now currently legally prohibited from regulating hydro fracking as per the 2005 energy policy act which does not allow for regulation of this activity and which is currently being studied by the EPA. They are exempt from the clean water act.”

Gennaro expressed his grief with the politics on the federal level and encourages a state solution:

“It’s an abomination. I don’t see any movement in congress to move this around, they have become more and more conservative. I don’t see any movement on the national level to regulate hydrofracking”

“Any such regs would have to pass through a pro-energy and pro-fossil fuel Republican House and they are never going to vote for this it must be fought at the state level and that’s what they’re doing.” 

See State Senator Avella’s bill to ban hydrofracking.

Gennaro thinks that the governor has said some very good things about the science but,

“there is a big disconnect between what the Governor says and what the DEC says and is doing.”

Which City Council Members from Queens are supportive of anti-fracking initiatives?

Peter Vallone issued a statement and I think, the members of the council are very united…all the other boroughs are united.  Some Council Members play a more prominent role, said Gennaro.

“There are those like myself that try to play a prominent role, [and] there are others that are generally supportive of all the time and effort the Council used to push this forward. The speaker has allocated abundant resources to press the case… [although]

“We have no control over what the state ultimately does.”

What role are you playing?

“We are playing the role of advocate. Vallone sits on the EPC he’s been active on the issue.  I don’t know any members that have not been supportive of my efforts. Lord knows there’s been a lot of brain power for the council as an institution dedicated to this issue.”

Is our drinking water really, seriously threatened or is this a game of politics?

“The regulations proposed by the state would allow fracking, immediately adjacent underneath our water supply tunnels which could lead to the direct contamination to the water transported by these tunnels by fracking fluids.” That is the threat, said Gennaro.

“This is what the scientists believe. Also as a geologist, the city’s DEP put forward  – almost two years ago – a large body of science that there should be at least a seven mile ban buffer zone with in any kind of infrastructure like a tunnel. The state DEC is offering rather than a mile buffer, but a 1000-foot buffer. Forty times less than what the city asked for. The state’s buffer is not a true buffer. The Battleground is the buffer to make sure the city can protect the water supply. There are areas upstate technically outside the watershed near our critical water supply tunnels, and that area is not protected.”

What message would you like to send to Big Energy Government Regulators?

Gennaro said the message is not meant for Energy corporations. Corporations by design are motivated by maximizing profit and therefore responsibility for the environment falls on regulators to ensure these companies are operating in a safe capacity.

“Many folks in the fracking debate have all kinds of things to say to the big energy companies, I have a lot more to say to the government regulators who set the rules to which Big energy has to play, there are many people that are involved in the anti fracking movement that have a lot of animus toward Big Energy. It is not big energy’s job to protect the groundwater. Government Regs are charged with responsibility to be good stewards of our natural resources and not putting forth regulation that would cause big problems.

I save my punches for Gov regulators, Gennaro quipped.

“If anyone thinks that big energy is going to be more environmentally protective to our natural resources than the government allows them to be, that’s just not the reality.

The health and safety of people is not at the feet of Big Energy its at the feet of Gov regulators who are blinded by short term tax revenues that comes with liquidating natural resources.

I think it’s a fool’s argument. At the end of the day it’s the people we elect to protect us.”

Council Member Jim Gennaro is doing just that. Bravo Jim.

Rally at Minisink, NY Town Hall. More than 100 protestors attended to Stop The Compressor Station.


Permanent link to this article: https://queens-politics.com/2011/10/council-member-jaems-gennaro-puts-government-regulators-in-the-hot-seat/

Sep 30 2011

Dan Halloran Demands More Busses For School Kids

City Council Member Dan Halloran says to City: Get us more busses.  My illustrious City Council Member, is one of my favorite throughout the Queens delegation. He’ works tirelessly to help community residents especially the weak and vulnerable. I don’t care much for his conservative, libertarian philosophy, Halloran gets an A+ for outstanding work in the community.

Did you know that during this year’s hurricane scare, Dan Halloran was driving around the district reporting to first responders locations of flooding and downed trees? Well, he was. I was following him on Twitter and his office was open for 24 hours. His staff bought their sleeping bags!

Permanent link to this article: https://queens-politics.com/2011/09/dccd/

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