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Click the heading above to view social issues events this month in Queens. Click the following links to go directly into one of these Queens Neighborhoods: Astoria, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Long Island City and Sunnyside.

Queens Library 'Scandal' - Where was the Beef?

Galante Seeks to Clear his Name as well as the Reputations of the Queens Library & Former Sacked Trustees

How Did Katz's, Stringer's & NY Daily News' Full Year of Accusations & Innuendo Fall So Far Short in Court?

thomas galante wins corruption case queens library scandal thomas galanteSeptember 6, 2016 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics & Media / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz.


Throughout 2014, we witnessed Billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz publicly attack President Thomas Galante and the Board of Trustees of the Queens Library. They appeared to individually and collectively insinuate that there was unforgivable malfeasance going on at the Queens Library.


In late January of 2014, only a day after Juan Gonzales published an EXCLUSIVE muckraking story about the Queens Library President's renovations to his office, in Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer announced an audit of the Queens Library.

Juan Gonzales included in the story what I believe was leaked CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION of the Queens Library, such as the Queens Library President's salary and other confidential employment agreements. Former trustee(s) told me they believed that this information was leaked by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz's ex-Officio Board of Trustees representative on the board, in violation of their fiduciary obligation to the Queens Library [to date this is an unproven allegation].


Katz, Stringer & Zuckerman's NY Daily News Accusations - Appear to Damage Queens Library Reputation - with a Year Long Barrage of, as yet Unproven, Allegations


Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News then regaled us for the rest of the year [2014] with all kinds of incredible detail about alleged wrongdoing at nyc comptroller scott stringer scandals corruption nycthe Queens Library. Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News published several editorials during the course of the year rousing Queens residents into a frenzy against Galante and the Queens Library trustees, while encouraging these two politicians / government officials to unleash their fury against the Queens Library President and Board of Trustees.


Queens Borough President Melinda Katz obliged by initiating legislation to change a state covenant with the library drafted by Andrew Carnegie over a century ago. Andrew Carnegie founded the library as part of his great philanthropic works. And NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer filed a lawsuit seeking complete access to the records of the private non-profit segment of the library, because he must not have found what he was looking for in the public portion representing 85% of the organizational budget. They appear to have done such a good job of damaging the reputation of the Queens Library, that in the following year [2015/ 2016] donations to the non-profit library fell by almost 40% or nearly $2 million.


Did NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer Break the Law & Slander Thomas Galante & the Former Queens Library Trustees?


NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer made a number of harsh statements during the course of the audit of the Queens Library alleging lies and theft. In a May 22, 2014 story published by the Queens Tribune, Stringer said,

queens library corruption scandal queens library"For them [Queens Library Board of Trustees] to mislead the public and tell the public that they are, in fact, cooperating, is nothing more than a bold-faced lie.”

In a July 8, 2015 story published in Newsday, Stringer charged Queens Library executives with using public funds as their

"personal piggy bank" ...

And later in the same story NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer says,

"As they were scaling back access to books, the Internet and vital programs and services, they were lining their own pockets."

These statements, if untrue, might constitute slander, particularly given the fact that many of the people NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer attacked are private citizens - not public officials like himself.

The title of his final audit report seems to negate his previously made assertions, as the title of the final NYC Comptroller's report is,


The operative word is possible and this is after likely one of the most intense, year and a half long audits, of any library in the city, ever.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer referred his findings to the IRS and other legal entities for follow up. This is following an investigation by the FBI, the NYC Department of Investigations, Scott Stringer's own office of the NYC Comptroller, and following the initiation of legislation by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to change a 118 year old covenant between the Queens Library and the State of New York.

Lots of Smoke, but Still No Fire

As of this writing, nearly three years later, the allegations of wrongdoing by Thomas Galante have been all smoke and no fire.

So far, we've still heard nothing more than allegations and innuendo and possibly libelous and slanderous accusations by public officials and a billionaire NYC real estate developer's paper.


thomas galante queens library corruption scandalUnder Galante the Queens Library was a Top Rated Library in the Nation with an Unblemished Financial Record


Each of the accusers rarely, if ever, mentioned that the Queens Library was considered by its peers to be one of the finest libraries in the nation. That the Queens Library had won national awards which confirmed the library's national standing. And the accusers never mentioned that in all the years that Thomas Galante had been President of the jeweled Queens Library, that it had been run fiscally responsibly with a balanced budget and never a hint of scandal ... until they came along, in their newly elected positions, ALLEGING one.


The accusers accounts did not jibe with what I personally knew about the Queens Library, so I set about drafting an alternative narrative to what appeared to be biased accounts provided by Juan Gonzales and other writers of Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News.


Court Rules Against Accusers Katz & Stringer - but You'd Never Know it by Reading Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News


On August 31, 2016, in the ruling of United States District Judge Allyne R. Ross, Thomas Galante got a first taste of what seemed to be a fair hearing. Judge Ross' ruling requires the Queens Library to pay Thomas juan gonzales ny daily news journalistGalante's legal fees to defend himself against accusations by the Queens Library regarding his stewardship of the non-profit.

The newly reconstituted Queens Library Board of Trustees had filed a suit against Galante after he had filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the library. One might interpret this as an intimidation tactic by the newly reconstituted Queens Library, as legal fees are very expensive and it will cost Galante hundreds of thousands (if not more) to enforce his rights. Galante will have to reimburse the Queens Library if the Queens Library's assertions against him hold up in court.

I wonder if the current members of the Queens Library Board of Trustees have to meet the same standard, in order to have the library pay for their legal fees.

It's worth mentioning that Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News took the lead in most or all of the stories to date about the Queens Library - crafting the storyline narrative about Queens Library 'corruption'. And yet, when I did a search for award-winning journalist Juan Gonzales' & Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News follow on story announcing Thomas Galante's recent court victory against Katz's & Stringer's Queens Library - there was none to be found. This sort of information omission / biased reporting by one of NYC's three daily newspapers is more akin to self-serving propaganda than American journalism.


If Galante Succeeds He Will Clear Not Only His Own Name, but also the Queens Library's & its Former Trustees'


melinda katz queens library reform billIf Galante succeeds in clearing his own name, he will also succeed in restoring the stellar reputation of the Queens Library and the reputations of the former trustees sacked by current Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.


Did the Queens Library Reform Act Enable Pols to Morph the Queens Library into a Political Patronage Parking Lot?


It's also worth mentioning that a couple of years ago interested observers expressed concern that the Queens Library would be morphed into a Political Patronage Parking Palace for under-employed or unemployed party apparatchiks. It's been just over two years since Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Katz-inspired legislation, entitled the Queens Library Reform Act, and it appears that this may already be happening.

Earlier this year, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz's newly reconstituted Board of Trustees appointed former NYC Schools Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, as the Queens Library President. Based on my research into Dennis Walcott's background, it appears that he has no formal higher education in library science, nor does he have any professional experience in it.

Quelle suprise.

Click here to view our complete coverage of the Queens Library 'corruption & scandals' accusing Thomas Galante of wrongdoing.

Bernie Sanders in LIC Queens NYC | presidential hopeful senator bernie sanders long island city queens nyc bernie sanders in LIC queens nyc
Bernie Sanders in LIC Queens NYC

On the Campaign Trail & 'Feeling the Bern'

Sanders Introduces Democratic Socialism to the American People

Updated April 19, 2016 from 4/15/16 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz.

If nothing else, this has been an interesting presidential election cycle. It's not 'reality TV', its televised reality.

Making America Great ... again?

The Republicans attracted most of the attention early on, thanks mostly to Donald J. Trump's shock jock presidential candidacy. A candidacy that turned presidential debates about public policy into name calling, discussions of poll numbers & penis size, and relentless barrages of vituperative insults.

The Donald has, in his campaign, essentially told us to forgeddabout the ballooning government deficit, a dated and at times crumbling infrastructure, fixing our public education system, helping the shrinking middle class and addressing global climate change.

The Donald has distracted us from an intelligent discussion about these 'loser' subjects, and told us that he's going to rip 12 million people [the equivalent of about 5% of the nation's population] away from their families by deporting them, punishing women for getting abortions, and erecting a wall along the border with Mexico which he tells us the Mexicans are going to pay for.

Does Trump really think this is how to 'make America great ... again'?

Trump Candidacy Increases Ratings Which Translates to Profits

Trump may not make America great again, but he's been good for corporate-owned, network television ratings. The Hollywood Reporter quotes CBS Chairman, Leslie Moonves telling a Morgan Stanley conference in San Francisco on February 29th, 2016 that,

"The money’s rolling in and this is fun ... this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

While Sanders Delivers Substance & Expands Public Debate

So while Donald Trump has been filling the pockets of corporate-owned mass media, Bernie Sanders - the man with the real story - has largely been ignored. Ignored by the mass media, but embraced by the social media and a signficant and growing segment of the American populace. In fact Sanders, during the past week of campaigning in New York, attracted crowds of tens of thousands, while the other candidates on both sides of the ticket did not.

Click here to see photos of the Bernie Sanders rally in LIC Queens, as well as a story about the contest between Sanders and Clinton.

People Power & Queens Public Schools

Group Self Organizes to Improve Neighborhood Public Schools

queens public schools jackson heightsApril 4, 2016 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Public Schools / Queens Buzz.

On the afternoon of March 12th, I attended a series of workshops organized by the Jackson Heights People for Public Schools at the Community United Methodist Church. As I entered the building there was a swirling of human activity ranging from youngsters to not-so-old parents.

The purpose of the workshops was to engage not just parents, but anyone interested in helping make Jackson Heights public schools better. The group had reached out to several municipal and state government officials for help, but I was informed that only NY City Council Member Daniel Dromm responded affirmatively to their solicitation for help.

What will follow later today is a report about some of the issues addressed at the Jackson Heights Schools workshop, as well as a deeper dive into some of the issues facing the Jackson Heights, Queens and NYC public school system including the Core Curriculum, testing and the charters versus public schools debate.

NYC Congestion Pricing - Move NY Congestion Pricing Plan

Which Queens 'Democratic' Pols Support $8 Tolls?

Several Queens Officials Support $8 Tolls on Queensborough & Other East River Bridges & at 60th Street to Raise Capital for the MTA

Queens Democratic Party Chairman Joe Crowley & NYS Governor Cuomo Supported Congestion Traffic Pricing in the Past

March 29, 2016 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz.

nyc congestion pricing move ny congestion pricing plan



The new Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan has been making its way into the legislative process over the past year. Just last week NYS Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, a Democrat from Manhattan introduced the bill on March 23, 2016. The Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan is being sold into the legislature as a means to raise revenue to fund MTA Capital projects.

Currently NYS Senator Jose Peralta, Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs Mark Weprin & CCM's Van Bramer, Richards & Reynoso publicly support installing $8 tolls on the Queensborough & other East River bridges to raise capital for the MTA.

Governor Cuomo's Words Are ...

Governor Andrew Cuomo supported the Congestion Pricing Plan put forth years ago, which wasn't popular with many of the voters in Brooklyn & Queens. The two boroughs have a combined population which rounds to 5 million or 25% of the 20 million people who live in New York State.

Cuomo was quoted as making the following statement by the Observer in an article published a year ago on March 15, 2015,

“It’s not, ‘Can I support it?’ Will the people support it? Can you get it done? Can you get a congestion plan passed and we’ve gone through this a couple of times and it was an overwhelming ‘no’ and I haven’t seen anything happen that would change my opinion,”

The Governor has essentially been repeating this position publicly ever since.

Inconsistent with Governor Cuomo's Staff Actions

move ny congestion pricing planBut while the Governor is publicly distancing himself from the measure which is unpopular in Queens and Brooklyn, former NY City Councilmember Mark Weprin, who is now Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs, has supported the Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan.


Weprin vehemently oppposed Congestion Traffic Pricing in 2008 when he was a NY City Councilmember, but in 2015 Weprin began publicly supporting the revised Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan as he transitioned from NY City Councilmember to becoming Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs. NYS Assemblyman David Weprin, Mark's brother, continues to publicly oppose the plan.

It's worth mentioning that the Weprins and the Cuomos have had close family political ties spanning two generations.


Congressman Crowley's Position Circa 2007

Queens Democratic Party Chairman, U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley, supported the Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan backed by former Mayor Bloomberg, according to a June 11, 2007 report by the New York Times which quoted Crowley as saying,

“the overall [2007] plan — and congestion pricing is just a part of it — will make this a more livable city and make it easier to attract the best and the brightest not only from around the country but from around the world.”

We've not yet seen any comments by Congressman Crowley on the current Move NY Plan which was recently introduced.


Move NY's 'New & Improved' Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan

nyc congestion pricing plan move nyWe studied the Move NY Traffic Congestion Pricing proposal by first taking a closer look at what groups are pushing the plan [follow the money]. Gridlock Sam Schwartz Consulting LLC is one of the primary promoters of the plan, and the consulting company is owned in part by a large, multi-national, transit infrastructure contractor. We also evaluated the assumptions they used to create the estimates provided in the plan, which we found to be inconsistent with fairly recent independent studies by respectable institutions, and we also looked at what happened in one of the other cities around the world that implemented the plan.


In essence the plan retrofits [re-prices] the fossil fuel infrastructure, by making a significant investment to install and operate tolling around the center of Manhattan. The remaining proceeds would then go to fund other MTA capital projects [in London this was about half the proceeds]. The pricing would require those who can't afford the $8 tolls [each way] to either use mass transit [recent NYC metro studies have shown this switching doesn't happen] or to cross the bridge at other times at which time the tolls would cost less. The proponents say this would enable those who can afford the tolls to cross the East River bridges and 60th Street more quickly and move around mid Manhattan more easily [less traffic congestion with the rest of the community priced out of their way]. How 'democratic' is this?


Previously MTA Invests Billion$ in New Subways Appearing to Accommodate Billionaire Manhattan Developer(s) & Now Pols Want Metro Residents & Employees to Fund a System to Toll Tax Them to Fund MTA Capital Budget

The MTA during the Bloomberg (Republican) Administration made approximately $8 billion in MTA capital investments for about 30 to 40 blocks of Manhattan subway lines. One line travels from Times Square to the Javits Center [$2.4 billion mostly paid by city] and the other, which was strongly supported by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, is expected to travel along Second Avenue from move ny congestion pricing planabout East 60th Street to about East 86th Street when it is completed [ran way past budget and time estimates - currently about $5.2 billion].

The latter subway line has been called the 'subway to nowhere', while the other isn't much different - as it terminates at the Javits Center and billionaire real estate developer Steven Ross' & Related Companies' new Hudson Yards development - without any other subway connections. Pundits have opined that one [new #7 Hudson Yards station] and possibly both of these multi-billion dollar investments were made to accommodate Manhattan real estate developers [such as Ross], more than to facilitate transit for commuters and residents of New York City.

When I confronted an MTA spokesperson with this perspective, they told me that the Q line extension would alleviate a considerable amount of the congestion on the north / south east side Manhattan subway line, but made no comment regarding the Hudson Yards station.

The photos above show no passengers on the Javits subway [at an admittedly random time and not long after it was installed], while the second photo shows the #6 subway along the Upper East Side, also at a random time [I have #7 photos that look the same, but didn't have time to find one]. The map to your right shows the new #7 subway line extension ending as an unconnected spur.

Perhaps if the MTA and the government officals who oversee MTA capital project spending were more judicious in their selection of multi-billion dollar projects and allocation of funds, they wouldn't need to make a huge investment of the public's money in the creation and operation of an expensive new tolling system which they plan to use to charge taxpayers $8 tolls to cross 60th Street and the East River Bridges.

This plan essentially aids the wealthy by making their lives easier, while economically discriminating against those with less wherewithal, by making their lives harder. This doesn't strike me as a solution that's 'democratic' at all. There must be less costly, more fair ways to raise additional revenue for transit that NYC commuters - not Manhattan real estate developers - really need.

Click here for the rest of our story about the Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan as we explore in greater detail a connected web of people, lobbyists and organizations behind Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan and their possible motivations. We critique the plan including a review of the assumptions, and a closer look at independent studies done with regard to motorists response to toll prices and changes.

Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2016 NYC | mayor bill de blasio's state of the city address 2016 state of nyc speech 2016 de blasio
Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2016 NYC

De Blasio's State of the City Address 2016

Moving NYC from 'Tale of Two Cities' to 'One New York'?

February 6, 2016 / Kingsbridge Heights Neighborhood Bronx / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / Queens Buzz.

I attended Mayor de Blasio’s second State of the City Address delivered at the Performing Arts Center at Lehman College in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. In spite of its northern, non-central location, the speech was well attended. About three dozen protesters also made their way north of Manhattan into the Central west Bronx, wielding placards asking the Mayor to stop gentrification and something about fair labor practices.

I took my place among the press corps where we were seated right in the middle of the auditorium. After settling in, I started photographing the slides whizzing by on the main stage, showing the accomplishments of the de Blasio Administation during its first two years. I have included a slide show a bit later in this report, which contains some of the slides that I photographed.

Unlike last year, when the Mayor and the Police Commissioner were having difficulties adjusting to each other, this year the mood seemed buoyant. In front of me was a group of students from the Laboratory School of Finance & Technology - MS 223 - at 360 East 145th Street in the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx. The school is connected with Bronx Prep and hence handles grades 6 through 12.

Click here to read our report of Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2016. The report includes video excerpts of the Mayor's speech, as well as two other short video pieces including the harmony singing of the National Anthem by a talented Bronx choral group, and the teachers and students of MS 223.

Mayor de Blasio in Jackson Heights & Schools Chancellor Farina In Jackson Heights | nyc public schools mayor de blasio in queens schools chancellor carmen farina queens public schools testing school crowding queens universal pre k queens schools trailers queens
Mayor de Blasio in Jackson Heights & Schools Chancellor Farina In Jackson Heights

Mayor de Blasio & Chancellor Farina in Queens

Mayor & Chancellor in Queens Town Hall about Public Schools

November 16, 2015 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Public Schools / Queens Buzz.

There was a town hall at PS 69 in Jackson Heights Thursday evening where NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Public Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina talked about what they are doing to reform the NYC public school system to improve both teachers’ and students’ performance.

I arrived a bit late, following the coverage of a gig nearby. There was a small crowd of a couple dozen people waiting to get in because the auditorium had been filled to a standing room only crowd. Over the course of the evening all the folks who waited long enough were able to enter, as I confirmed this with the police contingent on my way out.

As I entered the auditorium they had just completed the presentation portion of the program [I think about a half hour, possibly less] and they were moving on to taking questions and answers from the audience.

I video recorded most of the session, and then edited down as much as I could to shorten the viewing time required to get the gist of what they’ve done and are planning for the future.

All in all it was a very interesting and very informative session. I spoke to quite a few folks after the town hall and generally they were pretty positive, including a number of folks who did not vote for de Blasio. Essentially most believed that the Mayor and Chancellor were trying to correct the failings of the system and that they were taking an intelligent approach. Several mentioned that the Mayor seemed pretty honest in his assessments of things.

For me, one of the most important things I learned tonight, was why getting universal Pre-K was so important. Essentially the thinking goes that the earlier you are able to start working with these kids, the more you will be able to prepare them for school, and hopefully reap the benefits of teaching them the joy of learning throughout their stay in the public school system.

Click here to read our full report including a segmented video about Mayor de Blasio on NYC public schools with Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina and NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm.

Transportation Alternatives Queens - TA Queens Tackles 21st Street LIC & Astoria | 21st street lic astoria safety issues traffic on 21st street astoria long island city queens nyc vision zero
Transportation Alternatives Queens - TA Queens Tackles 21st Street LIC & Astoria

TA Queens Tackles 21st Street

Working to Bring Attention & Solutions to Pedestrian-Challenged Crossings On Long Island City & Astoria Streets

October 10, 2015 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Astoria Neighborhood / Traffic Safety Issues Queens / Queens Buzz.

I was invited to attend / witness a Halloween themed street performance by volunteers of Transportation Alternatives Queens [aka TA Queens] to improve pedestrian safety along the 21s Street corridor, which connects Astoria and Long Island City. The street serves as the major conduit inside the Astoria and Long Island City neighborhoods between the RFK / Triborough Bridge and the EK Queensboro Bridge.

As I arrived at 21st Street and 31st Road, I took note that there are public housing projects along the eastern side of the street and a shopping center along the west side of the street, where the group had convened. Since I had come from the east I had to cross 21st Street to meet with the TA Queens petitioners, and making that crossing on a Saturday afternoon supported their cause as this street is challenging to cross at best, and treacherous for youngsters to cross on a simple shopping errand.

The TA Queens volunteers quickly described the problem in a couple of minutes and they made some recommendations for potential solutions - all of which is contained on the full report rendered in both print and on video on the following page. This is a snippet from their release.

"According to data from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the New York Police Department, traffic on this mere 1.8 mile stretch of 21st Street between the two bridges [EK Queensboro & RFK Triborough] caused seven deaths and left 102 people with serious injuries from 2002 to 2011. From 2012 to 2015 alone, 105 pedestrians and 34 cyclists have been injured along the corridor."

Click here to learn more about how TA Queens is trying to help the Mayor reach his Vision Zero Queens goal, by identifying safety challenged hotspots along 21st Street in the Long Island City neighborhood & Astoria. We also included several photos of the Haunted Halloween TA Queens volunteers.

LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise - LGA NYNJPA FAA | laguardia airport airplane noise lga nynjpa new york new jersey port authority lag FAA federal aviation administration queens jackson heights nyc
LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise - LGA NYNJPA FAA

LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise

Jackson Heights, Corona & Queens Voice Concerns Regarding LGA Airplane Noise

FAA Considering Extension of LaGuardia Airport Hours & Other Changes

October 19, 2015 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Issues LaGuardia Airport Noise LGA / Queens Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz.

I attended a town hall meeting about the airplane noise coming from LaGuardia Airport at PS 69 in Jackson Heights. The town hall had been organized by NYS Senator Peralta’s office and the panel of speakers included local government officials and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] and the New York New Jersey Port Authority [NYNJPA].

Standing Room Only at PS 69

The auditorium was packed and there were people lined up along the walls as well as standing in the back of the auditorium. Airplane noise has emerged as a big issue for Jackson Heights due to a couple of construction projects going on at the airport – both of which will be completed at the end of November.

Cynical Audience Member's Point of View

The timing of the town hall meeting, only six weeks before the construction was to end, led one of the local pundits to cynically suggest that this was merely political theater, rather than an effort to accomplish anything substantive.

There was an earlier town hall meeting organized about two years ago by NYC City Councilmember Dromm, to tackle the problem in its early stages, and while it was happening - not after it was all over - which is what we're close to today.

But that said, these town hall meetings are not just political theater, although inevitably that is some of it, which you will see in the video. And while the immediate problem will subside, we discovered that there a number of efforts either underway or in the planning stages, in which the community has a vested stake in the outcomes.

Not Said In Meeting: Federal Register States That Consideration Is Being Given To Extending LGA's Operational Hours & Slots

In doing follow up research I found a piece on the Federal Register government website that informed me that the FAA is considering changing the operational hours and slots for LaGuardia Airport. This was not discussed at the town hall [click into story for additional detail]. We also found other things that were either scarcely touched upon or not addressed, which we included in this report.

Click here to read the rest of this report about LaGuardia Airport Airplane Noise and the NYNJPA & FAA in Queens. The report includes video presentations, including some audience interaction, and a photo slide show and other information about FAA air traffic changes, airplane noise and what you can do about it.

A Look Inside Renaissance Charter School

One Of The Finest & One Of The First NYC Charter Schools

renaissance charter school jackson heightsFebruary 23, 2015 / Jackson Heights / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz.

I spent parts of a couple of days at the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights recently. One of the visits was to hear testimony given by the community with respect to renewing the school's NYC Department of Education charter. The second visit was to tour through the school to view the classrooms, facilities and become aquainted with the curriculums. What follows is an account of these visits, supplemented by a bit of outside research into ongoing debate and battle about the role of charter schools in the NYC public school system.

I arrived around lunchtime and met Peggy Heeney of the Development & Outreach department of the school. After a brief orientation and discussion about the tour upon which we were about to embark, we headed toward the back of the building on the first floor of the school. The Renaissance Charter School is located just off 37th Avenue at 81st Street in Jackson Heights.

Peggy told me that the building was previously a department store and that the school had moved into it several years after its founding. She informed me that the Renaissance School actually preceded the incorporation of charter schools in the NYC public school system in the 1990's.

We'll have more later this week about the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights.

Affordable Care Act Insurance Deadline

February 15th Is Final Day To Begin NYS Insurance Enrollment

Deadline For Enrollment Completion Extended To February 28th

ny state of health obamacare affordable care act queensUpdated February 15 / February 12, 2015 / Manhattan Healthcare / Gotham Buzz.

New Enrollments For ACA Health Insurance Ends February 15, 2015. Those who have begun the enrollment process by February 15th will have until February 28th to complete them. The deadline is February 15th to begin an enrollment. We received reports that many folks were having difficulty in getting through to a telephone operator, so it looks like there was a spike in demand near the deadline, which also happened in 2014.

On Saturday, NY State of Health extended the enrollment deadline by two weeks to enable those who do not complete their enrollments by Sunday, February 15th. Hence, enrollees now have until February 28th to complete enrollments in the New York State health insurance plans associated with the Affordable Care Act. It's worth mentioning that the NY State Of Health does not have operators available on Sunday and that they are only available Saturday from 9 am - 1 pm.

Enrollment On Target With Government Incentives. According to recent national news services, there were already 9.5 million enrollees in the Affordable Care Act plan as of a few weeks ago [mid / late January 2015]. The total enrollment target nationally for this year is 10.5 million. Last year the New York State of Health - which runs the NYS Affordable Care Act enrollments - signed up nearly 371,000 people. There were reports in January 2015 that the number of NY State of Health enrollees has grown this year. We also understand that the folks who enrolled last year and are currently participants in a plan will be automatically renewed in their Affordable Care Act Health insurance, so they are not required to update their enrollment with the state. But that said, they must renew their status with their health insurance provider around the time of the anniversary of their enrollment.

One news site recommended that folks already enrolled in the plan ought to review and update their enrollment to make sure they want to stay with their present insurer, and that they fully understand the tax consequences of their healthcare choices.

Tax Penalties 2015. One report noted that the majority of Affordable Care Act enrollees get some measure of monetary incentive to enroll in the plan. In 2014 the tax penalty for not having health insurance was $95 per adult or 1% of household income. In 2015 the penalty rises to $325 per adult or 2% of income.

Click here to view the New York State of Health website.

In Search Of A Civilization Lost By Mass Media

LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Uses Theater & Art To Stimulate Cross Cultural Community Conversation

queens theaterFebruary 9, 2015 / Long Island City / Queens Theater / Queens Buzz. It was nearing sunset on Saturday evening as I made my way through a beautifully quiet Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The clean white snow glistened gently in the fading light, and the leafless trees along the road provided what felt like an ancient natural cathedral.

I checked in at the admissions desk and made my way to the second floor of the Queens Museum. The Queens Museum was once the home to the United Nations and hence provided the perfect context for this community conversational performance. The floor to ceiling windows looked out onto the landmarked Unisphere which emanated a universal vibe. In the long wide hallway a crowd was engaged in clustered conversations following the conclusion of four performances shown that afternoon. I had seen the performances at an event earlier in the season.

I began talking to Tasneem, a member of the audience who is shown in the photo at right standing alongside a photo taken by a friend of hers who is shown in the photo. Tasneem came from beyond sacred laguardia performing arts centerJordan twelve years ago, only two years after 911. She said that it's important for the general populace of Muslims to stop being afraid of showing they're Muslim, because otherwise New Yorkers and the rest of America will be left with the picture of Islam as depicted by a few extremists which is amplified and continually repeated by the American mass media.

I couldn't deny it. It seems American television stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines are obsessed with providing the Islamic terrorists all the publicity they want.

But here, tonight, in the Queens Museum; I would not see any of the faces shown by our mass media. I would see only the faces of everyday Islamic New Yorkers who generally receive no publicity at all. Muslims who hail from dozens of cultures around the world. And there wasn't a single terrorist among them. Hence - and likely not coincidentally - there also wasn't a single mass medium reporter covering this event.

Tasneem told me how she, like many other American Muslims, fears showing she's Muslim because of the stereotypes created by the terrorists and perpetuated and blown up by the American mass media. The notion of a silent majority came to mind.

It occurred to me that the gore of the Islamic extremists must be good for tabloids and TV ratings. And I pondered what it must feel like to be stereotyped by this relentless, distorted depiction of one's culture and people. Andy Warhol's characterization of the mass production of images came to mind.

beyond sacred queens theatreI thought about what it would be like if I lived somewhere else in the world where the nation's media mass produced stereotypes of Americans, depicting us as murderers, rapists and thieves. That could easily be done if a nation's media decided to portray Americans by solely covering the 5.6 million violent crimes and the 17.1 million property crimes that took place in this country in 2011 alone [source: Wikipedia / Bureau of Justice Statistics]. That just wouldn't be right ... would it?

And yet, it seems that this is exactly what's been happening to Muslims in America, because of the unbalanced coverage of Islam by the big American mass media companies. The TV and newspaper tabloids make a living by sensationalizing - spinning things out of context - but aren't the real journalists supposed to provide perspective by putting things back in context?

This seems generally not to have been done.

And so the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center applied for and received a grant to begin such an effort. An effort to provide exposure to the lives and contributions of the other billion Muslims who go peacefully and productively about their lives each day, just like most of the rest of us. An effort to create a community conversant with a deeper and broader understanding of a millenial and centuries old culture that is embedded in the lives of over a billion people on the planet. People who live in dozens of nations around the globe, and none of whom are terrorists - and hence generally not represented in the American mass media.

I met American born Charles Bernett of Rego Park who had traveled to Cairo in 1979. Thirty-five years ago he was about to embark on his second trip through Africa ... [see photo at right].

Click here to learn more about the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center exploratory, year-long, theater and arts, cultural endeavor entitled Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity.

NYC Small Business Financial Aid Small Business Financial Programs NYS | lic partnership finance workshop nyc business incentives nye financial aid to businesses queens ny licl
NYC Small Business Financial Aid Small Business Financial Programs NYS

LICP Seeks To Balance Community Growth

Effort Underway To Guide Neighborhood Evolution

February 2, 2015 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Business / Queens Buzz. The LIC Partnership applied and received a grant to explore approaches through which government and business can work together to develop the LIC neighborhood in a communal way. This means somehow enabling the measured growth of multiple categories of human endeavor including residential growth, office growth, commercial growth, industrial growth and cultural growth. Based on some of the comments I heard at the workshop, I believe it may also include trying to maintain some measure of ethnic and income diversity within the community.

One of the panelists noted that generally what happens in real estate development is that everyone seeks to convert their real estate holdings to the highest price per square foot use. In NYC this is frequently the conversion of the current zoning to residential housing.

One of the problems that evolves over time is that the neighborhood loses some of its desirability as residents must start traveling longer and longer distances for basic amenities such as dry cleaning, groceries, recreational shopping and dining. Hence, to that end the LIC Partnership offered this workshop to help those working in the industrial and commercial real estate development categories to find government sponsored programs and financing designed to incent them to maintain, evolve or create space designed to maintain a diversified mix of real estate capacity within the Long Island City neighborhood.

Click here to read our report on the LIC Partnership Business Breakfast On Industrial & Commercial Incentives and Financing.

NYC Small Business Financial Aid Financial Programs NYS

Battle For Public School Budget Underway

Constitutional Right To Education & Public School Funding

queens schoolsJanuary 12, 2015 / Jackson Heights / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz News & Analyis. I attended a Town Hall Meeting entitled State Of Our Schools at PS 69 in Jackson Heights on Thursday evening. The town hall included a number of panelists who spoke about some of the top concerns and issues facing NYC and Queens public schools in the current round of budget negotiations currently underway in the NYS state capitol of Albany.

Cathy Nolan, NYS Assembly Chair of the Committee on Education, and Daniel Dromm, Chair of the NYC Council Education Committe, were joined by speakers representing The Alliance for Quality Education, Make The Road NY, Jackson Heights People For Public Schools, Community Education Council 30 and the Parent Association of PS 69.

The intent of the town hall was to inform residents about the issues currently being debated in the NYS State Capitol as the Assembly and Senate work on budget bills to fund public education in the state of New York.

Some of the issues discussed included every citizen's constitutional right to a quality public education, which was interpreted by the Courts to mean providing every citizen with the skills to compete in the 21st century economy and the capacity to function as a contributing member of society.

Other issues included discussion of the current tax cap bill - which would cap property taxes at 2.5% - and thus limit the money available for public education. Currently about 30% of NYC residents are property owners. Over the past decade an increasing percentage of city property has been acquired by large corporations known as Real Estate Investment Trusts. It's worth noting that one of the NYC tabloids, the NY Daily News, is owned by the billionaire founder of an NYC Real Estate Investment Trust.

Property owners say they already pay too much in taxes. One homeowner opined that government and school officials need to manage the funding more efficiently, and develop innovative / technological methods to achieve their educational goals. Many of the older, original charter schools were opened to do just that by exploring different approaches to educating the public.

Another initiative underway is to cap charter schools expansion. As mentioned above, many of the original charter schools were founded to explore different approaches to providing a quality public school education. In recent years some of the newer charter schools, particularly the charter school groups [Ed Note: such as Success Academy Charter Schools], have been seen as limiting the promise of an equal opportunity in public school education.

Charter School groups have been accused of targeting areas where they can attract high performing students away from the publicly run schools and then demand equivalent public funding per child. Charter school groups allegedly claim their test scores are attributable to their educational efforts, not the higher quality of their student enrollment [this alleged claim is at odds with independent studies]. As of this date only a small percentage of the charter schools have been audited as one of them - Success Academy - filed and won a lawsuit that prevented the NYS Comptroller from auditing them based on a NYS Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin ruling in June 2013. Its worth noting that Success Academy Charter Schools also reportedly receives funding from Hedge Fund b/millionaires who may also have stakes in Real Estate Investment Trusts.

Public educators note that the schools that service the broader based demographic population have higher per student funding requirements in order to assist students with special needs. They go on to note that standardized testing doesn't account for progress made with a broad based diversified student population that includes students with special needs such as: children with disabilities, children from troubled homes, children with less aptitude or less motivation, and children who need to learn English [English Language Learners ELL] in addition to the general curriculum. Additional resources are required to fund different approaches / programs designed to reach, motivate and develop these children's intrinsic abilities [eg. band students perform higher in math] and enable them to become contributing members to their families, their employers and the community.

A tax break for private education is also being debated at the state level. The tax break for private education was portrayed by one of the speakers as another tax break for those who already have the means and have chosen to send their children to non-public schools. Just as the property tax cap is expected to limit public education funding, so too the private school tax break is expected to limit the total funding available to educate those who attend public schools.

Families who send their children to private schools argue that they are reducing the strain on public school resources. They note that they are not asking for a total reimbursement [meaning total payback of private tuition] but rather a deduction, which would reduce their tax bill by some percentage of their private school tuition payments. It's worth mentioning that according to the 2012 Census update, the NYC Public School system paid over $20,000 per student per year, which is a far higher cost per student than any other public school system in the nation. The Boston public school system was a close second and the Washington DC public school system came in third.

This is just a summary of some of the challenges and issues discussed at the Town Hall related to NYS public school education funding. We'll delve into these in a bit more detail at a later date.

Air Beam: What Are You Breathing?

Adventurous Bike Ride With TA Queens ... On The Road To Find Out

air beam air quality queens nycNovember 10, 2014 / Queens Neighborhoods / Biking Queens / Queens Buzz. I just returned from a bike ride that began at the Central Park Boathouse and ended in Jackson Heights at 34th Street and the BQE Expressway. Celia Castellan, who is the organizer for Transportation Alternatives Queens [aka TA Queens] collaborated with me on this story which is about Queens & Manhattan air quality and also about biking. Celia is shown in the photo to your right, atop the Queensboro Bridge around 6 pm Monday night as we bike commuted from Manhattan to Queens.

It was a beautiful night with clear, dry air and temperatures around 60. Our mission was to test the Air Beam, a new device designed to enable people to measure the air quality, and then map the information to a public website, so that the public can begin to see what's going on with the air they breathe. The Air Beam is a blue, slightly-larger-than-a-cell-phone device, that you wear to measure the air [quality].

We began the ride in Central Park. We were on our way after receiving only a couple minutes of instruction. The device is brand-spanking new and must be sync'ed to an Android cell phone. The inventors work for a non-profit and are trying to raise a bit of money to mass produce it.

I'm going to take you on the rest of the ride, including a sampling of the air quality readings along the way, and provide some photos of the Queensboro Bridge bicycle commute a bit later this week. In the meantime, check out the Air Casting website and if you want to help, there are a few more days left on their Kickstarter campaign.

Affordable Housing In Queens - Hunters Point South | affordable housing queens hunters point south affordable housing lic sunnyside queens
Affordable Housing In Queens - Hunters Point South

Hunters Point South Opens Spring 2015

'Affordable' Housing Applications Begin Mid October

September 29, 2014 / Sunnyside NY / Sunnyside Real Estate / News & Analysis / Queens Buzz. On Monday evening I headed over to Sunnyside Community Services Center to attend the Hunters Point South Affordable Housing meeting. Several years ago the Hunters Point South development was approved by Community Board 2 and subsequently approved by the New York City Council and Mayor. Click the link above to read the earlier report.

The site has been under construction for years, and according to a Related Companies spokesperson at the meeting, the two towers containing affordable housing are to open to residents in the Spring of 2015. Naturally this assumes that all goes according to plan.

Hence on Monday evening, Related Companies representatives in tandem with Community Board Chairman Joe Conley, NY CCM Jimmy Van Bramer, NYS Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan [and NYS Senator Michael Gianaris was scheduled to appear but did not make it] - began the outreach to the community regarding the application process for the low income and affordable housing units in the two buildings.

hunters point south affordable housing aptsAttendance and interest by the community was very high and folks who arrived late were turned away as the Sunnyside Community Service Center was filled to capacity. That said there are two more of these outreach programs scheduled, the details of which you can find in our Things To Do calendar in the Business section. Click these links to gain a broader perspective of the Long Island City Neighborhood in which these units reside, as well as of the LIC real estate market for apts and condos or the Long Island City real estate market in general.

Full Report Contains Slides & Info On Qualification & Application Process For Hunters Point South Affordable Housing Units In LIC & Evaluation Of Affordability Versus Income & Apt Rents In LIC

Click here to read the rest of our report, including a photo slide show of the presentation of Affordable Housing in Hunters Point South in LIC Queens. I left out most of the presentation that dealt with how to set up a Housing Connect Profile and how to fill out the online application as it seemed pretty straightforward and you can also call the NYC Housing Authority [aka NYCHA] if you need help.

Queens Schools - NYC Public Education Issues | queens high schools queens intermediate schools jackson heights people for public schools jackson heights queens
Queens Schools - NYC Public Education Issues

People For Public Schools – In Jackson Heights

Dromm Discusses Educational Issues & What Can Parents Do To Help

May 28, 2014 / Jackson Heights / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz. I attended what was essentially a communal sit down dialogue Daniel Dromm, Chair of the NYC City Council Education Committee. He met with a six-month-old group that goes by the name of the Jackson Heights People For Public Schools. And together they discussed the plethora of issues being grappled with by educators, policymakers, parents and pupils in the wake of the Bloomberg Administration’s departure.

I consider myself to still be in the learning mode of trying to understand all of the issues faced by those managing public education so what follows is essentially a partial record of the discussion.

As background based what I do know from prior coverage in the Queens educational arena, the Bloomberg Administration embarked on an effort that appeared in some respects to favor de-unionizing and privatizing the NY Public School system via the closing of public schools which were staffed with generally experienced, unionized teachers; and opening privately run charter schools, generally run by fairly new teachers who worked for non-union wages. The Bloomberg Administration also moved toward splitting schools into smaller entities.

Click here to read more about a dialogue with Daniel Dromm, NYC City Council Chair of the Education Committee, about education & public schools in Queens.

Making Vision Zero Happen

Corona Residents Respond To Call To Action

vision zero corona jackson heights queens vision zero vision 0July 27, 2014 / Jackson Heights & Corona Neighborhood / Queens Issues / Queens Buzz. I attended a Vision Zero Workshop at the Corona Library on July 16th. The event was sponsored by Transporation Alterantives in conjunction with a host of other organizations and some local government officials, all of whom I will name at the end of this story when I complete it.

As you can see from the photo, there was no shortage of interest in the effort, as Jackson Heights and Corona are one of the 'Ground Zero' places where pedestrians are being killed or injured by motorists.

The effort had a number of components to it including education, law enforcement and untangling a road, biking and pedestrian system that was put together piecemeal instead of as a holistic approach to human movement ... like dance.

We'll post more about this at a later date including photo slide show.

Queens School Changes

Educational Infrastructure Lags Population Growth

queens schools proposed changesJanuary 28, 2014 / Jackson Heights & Woodside Neighborhood / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz. I attended a Department of Education meeting to discuss the proposed changes scheduled for Intermediate Schools 230 and 145 in Jackson Heights. The plan calls for adding new space to I.S. 230, and then redrawing the district map for the two schools, so that going forward some children who would have attended I.S. 145 will enroll in I.S. 230. The children currently attending I.S. 145 will not be affected.

The intent of the plan is to alleviate the overcrowding in I.S. 145 which is operating above capacity. The overcrowding would be addressed by redrawing the school district maps following the completion of the new building at I.S. 230, so that fewer students would enroll in I.S. 145 going forward. The meeting was well attended as the I.S. 145 auditorium was fairly full when I arrived.

About half or better of the attendees were spanish language speakers and the Department of Education had not brought enough Spanish translation headsets to conduct the meeting bilingually without having the English presentation followed by a Spanish translation by a volunteer in attendance. A couple of community leaders drew my attention to this, and one of whom - an educator himself - was very irate. He explained that by not having enough headsets, the meeting would now accomplish about half as much in the same time period because of the time consumed in explaining things first in English and then in Spanish. With the headsets, the explanations would be been communicated simultaneously. He also noted that the translator was a volunteer and there wasn't any mechanism in place to ensure that the volunteer's translations were correct.

I.S. 145 recently suffered a tragic loss, as a student was killed by a motorist only blocks away from the school. Within the past six months three school age children living in the Jackson Heights vicinity have been killed by motorists, and the safety plan for the new building was one of the many concerns on the agenda. We'll post more about the meeting, and include an update about some of the proposed changes to address overcrowding in a Woodside school as well.

It seems that Queens schools, like other aspects of Queens public infrastructure [the #7 subway line / mass transit] and affordable housing, are lagging well behind Queens population growth and private development.


Affordable Healthcare Deadline Monday

Enrollment Trending Toward 7 Million Target

affordable care act enrollment nysNew York State Of Health Surpasses 1.1 Million Applicants & 782K Enrollees

March 31, 2014 / Jackson Heights / Queens Healthcare / Queens Buzz. Get ready for an endless spin game about the enrollment numbers of the Affordable Healthcare Act aka Obamacare.

It appears the Administration is on target to achieve the first target they had set, prior to running into innumerable problems in October 2013 with the federal healthcare insurance website - healthcare.gov - when enrollments first began. Following the opening website debacle, the Administration lowered the enrollment targets from seven million to six million. They hit the six million number last week and the application and enrollment activity has spiked during the final week to submit an application.

affordable care act in queensThere are 36 states participating in the rollout of the national health insurance plan and 14 states which have opted out of the plan. New York state is one of the 36 participants and as of Sunday night, New York State had received over 1.1 million applications and nearly 800,000 people had enrolled. These numbers are up significantly versus three weeks ago, when applications were at about 900,000 and enrollment at about 500,000. As of early March, we were informed that about 70% of the enrollees were people who had not previously had health insurance. Hence by that metric the plan appears to be achieving its goal in New York State.

According to national reports, it also appears that the late applicants are skewing younger, which was another important metric for the Administration. The composition of young and older ages is needed to enable insurance company participants / healthcare plan providers make the financials work.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act [ACA] say that the enrollment numbers are inflated, as the enrollment numbers don't take into account enrollees making their first payments. Some opponents are also predicting that the enrollees are largely comprised of folks who will need government subsidies to pay their insurance premiums. Proponents have said that giving tax deductions for health insurance to people trying to maintain their health, is no different than providing tax deductions for interest on loans used to purchase a home.

We've attended a number of sessions about the Affordable Care Act and the regular folks attending these sessions have made statements saying that they are no longer locked into jobs they don't like because of health insurance, that the Affordable Care Act has significantly lowered their healthcare costs and that they are relieved to finally be covered by health insurance. Some healthcare providers we've spoken to have said that the Affordable Care Act will negatively impact their businesses, as while volume will possibly increase, the revenue per client will decrease.

Applications must be submitted no later than 11.59 pm Monday night, March 31st. We understand that national applicants will have another 7 days to provide documentation for application submissions that fail to meet the application criteria. And in New York State that deadline appears to be April 15th, but in both cases we suggest you confirm it by calling the group with which you're working.

Jackson Heights Beautification Group - JHBG | jackson heights beautification group jhbg jackson heights neighborhood
Jackson Heights Beautification Group - JHBG

JHBG Celebrates 25 Years Of Service

Jackson Heights Beautification Group Celebrates 25

September 30, 2013 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Issues / Queens Buzz News. I had the pleasure of spending some time at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group’s existence. During the course of the evening I had the opportunity to talk to a number of members, many of whom had been with the organization for decades. And during the course of these conversations I came away having learned something about their collective accomplishments, and in some senses, the early to modern history of Jackson Heights.

Some of the JHBG's Accomplishments

The Jackson Heights Beautification Group [also known as JHBG] started when a group of residents decided to 'take back the neighborhood' from vandals doing property damage [grafitti], real estate developers knocking down high quality edwin westley photo jhbg jackson heights beautification grouphistoric buildings, people breaking sanitation laws [doggie doo], and developers trying to obtain zoning variances that would downgrade the neighborhood. But the community organization was not just about participating in the governance process and ensuring that the city laws and ordinances were enforced; they also sought to enhance the quality of neighborhood life.

Hence the Jackson Heights Beautification Group sought funding for summer concerts, helped bring a farmers market to Jackson Heights, worked collaboratively to create more public parkland [78th Playstreet & the Garden School Athletic Field], and most recently helped start an orchestra. They will be the first to tell you that they didn't do these things by themselves, but however modest, they did play an important role.

In the photo above City Councilmember Daniel Dromm gives an award to Jackson Heights Beautification Group President Edwin O'Keefe Westley honoring the neighborhood group's service to the community.

And so you may click here to learn a bit about the formation and history of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, as well as a bit about the 20th century life in Jackson Heights as told by those who lived it.

1964 Worlds Fair - NYC World's Fair 1964 - 1965 | flushing meadow corona park 1964 - 1965 nyc worlds fair flushing meadow corona park developments shea stadium flushing meadows municipal stadium robert moses walter omalley brooklyn dodgers NY Mets nyc stadiums flushing meadows corona park 1964 1965 world's fair
1964 Worlds Fair - NYC World's Fair 1964 - 1965

The NYC World's Fair: 1964 - 1965 in Flushing Queens

NYC Stadiums: Battle of the Titans - PART II - Battle for the Heart of a Park & ... and the Soul of a Borough

January 21, 2013 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Issues / Queens Buzz. Click here for Part I of our report series on Developments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where we journeyed back to the Corona Ash Dump, immortalized in the Great Gatsby, and later transformed into a World’s Fair utopia by Robert Moses, Fiorello LaGuardia and the 1939 World’s Fair committee.

The 1939 World’s Fair attracted over 40 million people, but lost over $100 million, as it opened the year Nazi Germany began invading its European neighbors, and while Japan was busy invading China. Nonetheless, in spite of a financial failure for the 1939 World’s Fair bondholders, the fair had enabled NYC and Robert Moses to complete phase one of his vision to transform the Corona Ash Dump into NYC’s premier city park, and build a whole new network of highways around it.

Ebbets Field in Brooklyn & The Brooklyn Dodgers

We resume our story, after WWII, as a young lawyer in Brooklyn began working for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers played at Ebbets Field just east of Prospect Park in what was once part of the Flatbush neighborhood [now Crown Heights] of Brooklyn. The year is 1943 as a 40 year-old lawyer, Walter O’Malley, leaves the Brooklyn Trust Company where he had oversight responsibilities for troubled companies, including the Brooklyn Dodgers.

You can click here later today to read Part II of our report on proposed developments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park entitled NYC Stadiums & Battle of the Titans.

Or click this link in the meantime to view Part I of our report series about the beginnings of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the 1939 World's Fair

Development, Healthcare, Education - Queens News | education healthcare news from around queens healthcare news astoria education news lic long island city education news corona healthcare news flushing immigration news astoria education news sunnyside healthcare news woodside education news jackson heights healthcare news education news in queens
Development, Healthcare, Education - Queens News

Development, Healthcare, Education & Social Issues in Queens - News Briefs

News Briefs About Real Estate Development, Health, Education & Social Issues in Queens

October 2016 / LIC & Astoria / Queens Buzz.  This is a collection of art news briefs from Queens nieghborhoods.

Click here for more Real Estate Development, Healthcare, Education & Social Issues in Queens News briefs.

real estate development in queens

Queens Library Lawsuit Controversy Reform Bill | queens library trustees fired queens library trustees sue borough president melinda katz nye senators pass queens library reform bill
Queens Library Lawsuit Controversy Reform Bill

Queens Library - Report Series

CEO Galante & Trustees Controversy

October 2016 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Issues / Queens Buzz.  Given the ongoing importance and drama associated with the Queens Library lawsuit, controversy and Reform Bill, we decided to create a section dedicated to it so that readers interested in learning more about it, may find a public record of what is happening to the Queens Public Library system.

Click here to read our reports about the Queens Library lawsuit, controversy & Reform Bill.

CB Votes Split On USTA Expansion Plan

usta expansion plans in flushing meadows corona park fmcpMarch 14, 2013 / Flushing Corona / Issues Facing Queens / Queens Buzz. The USTA has asked the city of New York to give it .68 of an acre of Flushing Meadows Corona Park so that it can proceed with an expansion plan. The expansion plan is estimated to increase the sports complex capacity for the U.S. Open by about a third, while increasing the USTA footprint in the park by .68 of an acre. The USTA informed the audience attending the Community Board 3 meeting that this will result in more jobs in Queens. They also talked about the positive estimated annual $784 million economic impact that the USTA has had on NYC - according to a study done by a private consulting firm named AKRF, Inc.

The detractors informed the audience that this is the first step in a much larger effort toward a massive privatization of Flushing Meadows Corona Park by several large, well-flushing meadows corona parkfunded corporate interests. The opponents talked about three other proposals which were not a part of the USTA plan. These other proposals to develop private interests on public parkland include the development of a shopping mall by a private investment group in tandem with the owners of CitiField; 2) a condominium / hotel complex done by another group of private investors; and 3) a 13 acre soccer stadium by Major League Soccer, which is also a privately held corporation.

Community Board Tally & Boro Prez Candidates Positions

In the end Community Board 3 voted against the expansion plan, citing among other things, promises not kept when the USTA asked to expand its footpint in 1993. All six Community Boards have now voted on the USTA Expansion proposal, with three voting for it and three voting against it. We'll post a far more complete report on this Community Board Meeting at a later date.

While I was attending the Community Board 3 Meeting in Corona, all six Queens Borough Presidential candidates were attending a forum about the issues facing Queens at the Greater Astoria Historical Society in Astoria. The issue of turning over public parkland to private interests came up during the forum. To date only City Councilmember Tony Avella has come out against giving up public parkland to private interests. NY Senator Jose Peralta is the only other candidate to take a stance on the issue, but only on one of the proposed developments, namely the erection of the MLS Soccer Stadium on 13 acres of FMC Parkland [which he conditionally supports if MLS fulfills all of their promises]. All four other candidates have taken a wait-and-see stance on the issue.

Click here to read our past reports related to the proposed development plans for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The first report provides an early history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park I and the second report provided an intermediate history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park II which included a number of relevant historic lessons related to sports complex developments in FMCP as well as NYC.

Jackson Heights Beautification Group - JHBG | jackson heights beautification group jhbg jackson heights neighborhood
Jackson Heights Beautification Group - JHBG

JHBG Celebrates 25 Years Of Service

Jackson Heights Beautification Group Celebrates 25

September 30, 2013 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Issues / Queens Buzz News. I had the pleasure of spending some time at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group’s existence. During the course of the evening I had the opportunity to talk to a number of members, many of whom had been with the organization for decades. And during the course of these conversations I came away having learned something about their collective accomplishments, and in some senses, the early to modern history of Jackson Heights.

Some of the JHBG's Accomplishments

The Jackson Heights Beautification Group [also known as JHBG] started when a group of residents decided to 'take back the neighborhood' from vandals doing property damage [grafitti], real estate developers knocking down high quality edwin westley photo jhbg jackson heights beautification grouphistoric buildings, people breaking sanitation laws [doggie doo], and developers trying to obtain zoning variances that would downgrade the neighborhood. But the community organization was not just about participating in the governance process and ensuring that the city laws and ordinances were enforced; they also sought to enhance the quality of neighborhood life.

Hence the Jackson Heights Beautification Group sought funding for summer concerts, helped bring a farmers market to Jackson Heights, worked collaboratively to create more public parkland [78th Playstreet & the Garden School Athletic Field], and most recently helped start an orchestra. They will be the first to tell you that they didn't do these things by themselves, but however modest, they did play an important role.

In the photo above City Councilmember Daniel Dromm gives an award to Jackson Heights Beautification Group President Edwin O'Keefe Westley honoring the neighborhood group's service to the community.

And so you may click here to learn a bit about the formation and history of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, as well as a bit about the 20th century life in Jackson Heights as told by those who lived it.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park - History & Development | flushing meadows corona park history and proposed developments flushing meadows corona park
Flushing Meadows Corona Park - History & Development

Flushing Meadows Corona Park History & Development

Reports About Proposed Developments & History of Flushing Meadows Corona Park

July 14, 2013 / Flushing / Queens History / Queens Buzz. This section of the site is dedicated to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a park for all of the people of Queens & NYC.

Some public officials seem ready to trade off publicly owned open space for the promise of jobs and public housing. Promises that, as we've seen in other boroughs, are not always kept. 

There are plenty of other places in Queens and NYC that need real development.  Public parkland shouldn't be one of them - which is why there are laws protecting public parkland as if it were sacrosanct.  That said, the NYC Parks Department could use additional funding to enable them to raise the level of maintenance and security in many Queens & NYC parks, and in particular, Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Click here for our reports about the history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and about proposals and plans to develop it.

Pedestrian Malls In Queens - Newtown Plaza Astoria | newtown avenue plaza pedestrian malls in astoria pedestrian malls in queens newtown avenue pedestrian mall
Pedestrian Malls In Queens - Newtown Plaza Astoria

Pedestrian Malls In Queens

Meeting On Astoria Pedestrian Mall Tuesday

September 10, 2012 / Astoria / Queens Community Issues / Queens Buzz. On Tuesday evening September 11, there’s a Community Board 1 meeting at the Astoria World Manor on 25-22 Astoria Blvd. One of the topics on the agenda is which DOT [Department of Transportation] proposal to approve, regarding changing the traffic configuration in and around the intersection of Newtown Avenue and 30th Avenue in Astoria.

According to the Queens DOT, this intersection is the site of numerous accidents, and is more dangerous than approximately 90% of all intersections in Queens. It’s not difficult to understand why, as it is the nexus point for five roads: east & west on 30th Avenue, north & south on 33rd Street and northwest on Newtown Avenue [see map on next page]. The photo to your left was taken on August 25th when Newtown Avenue was temporarily converted into a pedestrian plaza.

Click here to read our report on the Newtown Plaza, in which we include related reports on other pedestrian malls in Queens, NYC and NYS.

Community Development in Queens

hospitals clinics dentists doctors medical professionals ophthalmologists healthcare in queens

Doctors in Queens Astoria LIC & Sunnyside | doctors in lic astoria sunnyside long island city queens doctors
Doctors in Queens Astoria LIC & Sunnyside

Finding Dr. Right - Doctors in Queens

Doctors and Healthcare in LIC, Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside & Queens

February / Long Island City / Queens Buzz. I attended a community lecture put on by Mount Sinai Queens entitled Finding Doctor Right. It was hosted at the Avalon Riverview, which is located down on 2-01 50th Avenue near the East River in LIC.

When I arrived, I took note of the audience demographics which had a female / male skew of about two to one; and the ages ranged from starting a family to planning retirement. Our speaker was Dr. Nierman, VP of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, and one of the people responsible for hiring doctors at Mount Sinai Queens.

Click here to read our report and view photos about finding Dr. Right – doctors and healthcare in LIC and Queens.

Elmhurst Hospital - Queens | elmhurst hospital queens ny public hospitals in queens ny healthcare in jackson heights elmhurst queens
Elmhurst Hospital - Queens

Elmhurst Hospital - Jackson Heights

April 19, 2010 / Elmhurst & Jackson Heights / Queens Buzz. I arranged to conduct an interview and take a tour of the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. The hospital’s Associate Executive Director of External Affairs, Dario Centorcelli made time in his schedule to accommodate my visit. I arrived mid morning and we immediately struck up a lively dialogue about Elmhurst and Queens hospitals which would last past lunchtime. During that time I found Dario had a near encyclopedic mind about the hospitals in Queens. In the photo to your left you see surgery being performed at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

Click here to read the rest of the story including numerous photos and a slide show of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens NY.

Hospitals, Clinics & Healthcare in Queens


education schools in queens

Proposed Changes For PS 122 | ps 122 astoria dept of ed planned changes for ps 122 astoria charter schools in astoria queens intermediate schools gifted and talented programs at queens schools
Proposed Changes For PS 122

Astoria Moms Defend Children’s Rights

Madmen: Bloomberg Dept of Education Does A Don Draper

March 19, 2013 / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz.  Editorial / Report.  We attended a Community Board One Meeting Tuesday evening, following up on the concerns of Astoria parents, regarding the proposed changes to PS 122, which were recently announced by the Department of Education [DOE]. 

Having spent a week in pursuit of information from the DOE about the proposed changes – statements regarding the difficulty in obtaining information from them - rang true. 

In the photo above, Anastasia Cunningham and her son talk about how the Dept of Ed hasn't put anything in writing, hasn't conducted any impact study, ps 122 queensand she talked about how the changes could possibly destroy the learning environment that contributes to the success of PS 122 in Astoria.

Click here to read the rest of our Editorial / Report on the Community Board One Meeting regarding Department of Education proposed changes to PS 122 Astoria.  Story & photos by Michael Wood.

Dept of Ed Plans Big Changes For PS 122 | ps 122 astoria dept of ed planned changes for ps 122 astoria charter schools in astoria queens intermediate schools gifted and talented programs at queens schools
Dept of Ed Plans Big Changes For PS 122

Battle For Control Of PS 122 Astoria

Dept of Ed Announces Big Changes & Few Details

Public Education Could Be Defining Issue Of NYC Mayoral Race

March 17, 2013 / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz.  The Department of Education announced its intention to make sweeping changes to PS 122 on February 28, 2013 to the PTA of the school. We were told of the general gist of these changes by PS 122 PTA members and parents.  We then followed up with the Department of Education, to be sure we understood the Department of Education’s announcement correctly.

Before we discuss the general gist of the Department of Education plans for PS 122, it helps to have a bit of background to better understand what appears to be happening. 

ps 122 astoriaThere are several important elements that seem to be at the core of the issue: 1) the Department of Education’s plans to reconfigure one of the most successful public elementary / intermediate schools in Queens and the NYC school system, 2) the Department of Education’s sudden interest in providing the school children of PS 122 grades K through 5 with the opportunity to continue matriculation within the same school [building] throughout all eight grades [6 – 8], and 3) Success Academy Charter Schools announcement that they plan to open a new charter school in Queens school district 30 in August of 2014. 

Click here to read the beginning of our DRAFT report about the Department of Education Plans to reconfigure PS 122 in Astoria.  Be advised that there is a Community Board One Meeting March 19, Tuesday evening beginning at 6.30 pm at the Astoria World Manor and a PEP Meeting on March 20th in Brooklyn. The large top photo above was published with permission by Nigel McKenna and the second photo was taken by Queens Buzz of NYC Comptroller and possible Mayoral candidate John Liu listening to concerned PS 122 parents at a United Community Civic Association meeting in Astoria.

Education & Schools in Queens


social issues immigration in queens

Occupy Astoria LIC | occupy astoria lic occupy queens occupy wall st occupy astoria lic
Occupy Astoria LIC

Occupy Astoria, LIC & Queens

August 20, 2012 / Astoria & LIC / Social Issues in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the Occupy the Citi rally on June 27th at Citibank to learn a bit more about the Occupy Astoria / LIC movement. As it was only a few days before a number of large Queens high schools were to be re-opened as new schools [on July 1st, 2012], I found several teachers participating who were anxious about being able to keep their jobs. There were also a number of musicians in attendance and one of them was playing a tune on his sax.

As this was a protest of sorts, I had kind of expected to see a more angry crowd, but instead I encountered more of a mellow mood. Disillusionment? To be sure, but also some good old fashioned American optimism and tenaciousness right alongside it.

Click here to become more familiar with the Occupy Astoria LIC movement in Queens, as we introduce you to some of its members and include a photo slide show.

U.S. Census Data 2010 - Queens | 2010 queens census jackson heights corona flushing woodside elmhurst 2010 u.s. census queens ny
U.S. Census Data 2010 - Queens

Queens Census 2010

For Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Flushing & Woodside

October 25, 2011 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Real Estate in Jackson Heights / Queens Buzz. I just returned from a fascinating look into the Census data for Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, Flushing and Woodside.

Fascinating? Yes, fascinating. Fascinating because there have been significant demographic shifts in these neighborhoods over the past decade. And because Steven A. Romalewski, Director of CUNY Mapping Services, gave us a demographic map presentation, the likes of which I’d never seen before. Arturo-Ignacio Sanchez of Community Board Three added quite a bit of qualitative flavor to the presentation, reminding me of some of my best college professors [because he was knowledgeable and enthusiastic]. Danny Dromm, the NYC City Councilmember of Jackson Heights was the sponsor of this presentation.

But I digress. Click here to view our report on the 2010 Queens census [with exclusive emphasis on Jackson Heights / Corona / Elmhurst & adjacent neighborhoods], including slide show with many of Steven Romalewski’s slides and a link to an interactive mapping site.

Social Issues & Immigration in Queens


laws compliance crime in queens

Queens Employment - Jobs Sectors & Employment In Queens | jobs in queens employment categories and sectors in queens astoria employment lic sunnyside woodside jackson heights employment flushing jamaica ny bayside whitestone employment unemployment
Queens Employment - Jobs Sectors & Employment In Queens

Queens County Employment Bests NYC

Queens is one of NYC’s Top Employment Performers

December 19, 2012 / Queens Neighborhoods / Employment in Queens / Queens Buzz.   Tis the season to be jolly and reflect on what’s happened economically over the past year while contemplating and planning for what lies ahead.  To that end we did a bit of research into Queens current economic trends, specifically in the employment area.

Queens Employment & Economy is Diversified

Queens has a relatively diversified employment base.  Queens County industries include: 1) transportation facilities such as JFK and LaGuardia Airports, Long Island Railroad stations, a network of MTA subways and buses, and a network of federal, state and local roadways,
2) energy infrastructure including two major power plants along the East River,
3) a growing hospitality section including hotels, a large casino, two horse race tracks, a major league baseball team, thousands of small to large retailers,
4) an array of about 2,200 restaurants,
5) a full service construction industry,
6) some light manufacturing and
7) government / social services / education as Queens is home to about a dozen hospitals [both private & public] and over three hundred public schools.

Click here to read our report on employment, unemployment & industry in Queens

Political Advertising Workshop In Astoria Queens - Museum of the Moving Image | political advertising workshops in queens teens take the city ymca program in queens teens take the city political advertising workshop at the museum of the moving image in astoria queens nyc
Political Advertising Workshop In Astoria Queens - Museum of the Moving Image

Analyzing & Creating Political Advertising

Museum of the Moving Image & The NYC / Queens YMCA

November 1, 2012 / Astoria / Film in Queens / Queens Buzz. I visited the Museum of the Moving Image Friday evening to observe a political advertising educational program, being offered to the YMCA’s Teens Take The City group.

Although New York has the second highest state population in the nation and is home to the second highest number of Electoral College votes; the state has not been the recipient [or shall I say victim] of a barrage of political advertising – as are not the inhabitants and voters of one of the 2012 swing states.

But, Christopher Wisniewski, the Museum of the Moving Image Deputy Director of Education, reminded me that in 2013 we will likely be inundated with a whole barrage of political ads, as the coming municipal elections include the selection of a new mayor and city council members.

In the photo above you can see one group of teens discussing the infamous ‘Daisy’ commercial broadcast by Lyndon Johnson during the 1964 presidential election. Click here to read more about the Museum of the Moving Image political advertising film workshops in Astoria Queens.

Lessons of a Queens Hurricane Chaser | lessons of hurricane sandy in queens ny hurricanes in queens nyc lessons of hurricane sandy damage nyc astoria lic long island city sunnyside woodside queens jackson heights flushing jamaica ny east river
Lessons of a Queens Hurricane Chaser

Lessons of a Queens Hurricane Chaser

Chasing Hurricane Sandy in Queens

October 30, 2012 / Queens NY / Queens Weather / Queens Buzz.  It was 5 pm Monday evening as I set out on my bicycle to truly experience the tropical winds of Hurricane Sandy.  I chose the evening hours because it was after the high winds would have arrived, shaking loose (hopefully) most of what was to be shaken loose, so I would not be hit in the head by any debris.

The early evening was also just a few hours ahead of the ‘tidal surge’ we had been warned about, which was supposed to peak in the East River at about 8 pm.  And since it would still be light out, I could get some photos of my journey into the tropical storm as it hit Queens.

In the photo above you can see a tree bending to the winds of Hurricane Sandy, with the new LIC skyscapers along the East River in the background. The winds were blowing fiercely along the East River.

Click here to read more about The Lessons of a Queens Hurricane Chaser - photos of Hurricane Sandy in Queens.

Elections, Laws & Compliance in Queens


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Member Opinions:
By: PeterParker on 11/17/12
Hi Carol, You can post events by clicking into the Member Events Calendar which you can find by hovering over the 'Things To Do' button on the top tool bar.

By: CarolLacks on 10/16/12
Dear Queens Buzz, I could not find where to post this community event on your website. Thanks, Carol

Adults and Children of all ages are invited to Maple Grove’s GREAT Halloween Event & Carved Pumpkin Contest on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at Maple Grove Cemetery, 83-15 Kew Gardens Road, off of Lefferts Boulevard. This spooktacular event is sponsored by the Friends of Maple Grove, www.friendsofmaplegrove.org.

Beginning at 2:00pm sharp! to 3:30pm, the day's program will be launched for adults and children 12 years of age and older. The Strange and Unusual with a Touch of the Paranormal Walking Tour is an annual Halloween favorite and Maple Grove's historian, Carl Ballenas, will lead the tour. Carl, who cares deeply about the stories of those buried at Maple Grove, will share some true tales that should only be told at Halloween!

At 3:45pm, the Children’s portion of this GREAT Halloween Event will begin with a 15-minute Costume Parade. At 4:00pm, there will be expert storytelling, face painting, holiday crafts and lots of carved pumpkins to admire.

For those who would like to participate in the Carved Pumpkin Contest (adults and children), please bring along your pre-carved pumpkin with a candle inside. Pumpkin drop off is from 3:00pm-5:00pm and viewing from 5:00pm-6:00pm, almost sundown at the cemetery. Judging and prizes will be awarded to; TOP Pumpkin, Funniest, Scariest, Cutest, Most Original or any other categories that the judges might invent. Judges will consider alternative vegetables such as eggplant, water chestnuts, endive or any carved vegetable. Anything goes! Be creative!

This year we will not be howling at the moon but we will have a very special evening program, City Skies. Using a Celestron Telescope, Astronomy specialist, Conditions permitting, Randy Baron will show you the gems of the sky; the waxing crescent moon, the Andromdeda galaxy and beautiful star clusters.

Donation: $5, Friends of Maple Grove Members and children under 12 years FREE
For more information: (917) 881-3358, info@friendsofmaplegrove.org

Mark your calendar for Maple Grove’s GREAT Halloween Event & Carved Pumpkin Contest on Saturday, October 20, 2012!

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