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.
Obamacare Comes To Queens
Queens Prepares For The Affordable Healthcare Act
November 13, 2013. Update - Over 197,000 New Yorkers Have Completed Applications of which over 48,000 have already selected and enrolled in a plan. Over 142,000 people were helped by the New York State of Health which runs the health plan marketplace for New York State. Note that open enrollment for the tax year 2014 ends on March 31, 2014.
November 7, 2013 / Astoria Neighborhood / Healthcare in Queens / Queens Buzz. I just returned from the United Civic Community Association [UCCA] sponsored forum on Obamacare at the Museum of the Moving Image. The forum did a nice job of providing what appeared to be a good summary look into what the federal government’s Affordable Healthcare Act [also known as Obamacare] is really all about.
The forum was moderated by Rose Marie Poveromo, President of the United Community Civic Association of Astoria and included a panel of experts. The panel included U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley, Rebecca Jackson, a NY State of Health Project Coordinator, Caryn Schwab Executive Director of Mount Sinai Queens, Judy Trilivas Chief Operating Officer of Mount Sinai Queens and Minna Elias Congresswoman Maloney’s Chief of Staff. They are shown seated from left to right in the photo above, at the UCCA hosted Obamacare Forum at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
Click here to read more about Obamacare comes to Queens.
NYC Municipal Elections 2013
NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President & Six Ballot Proposals
November 5, 2013 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Government / Queens Buzz. On Tuesday voters get to decide who will run the city for the next four years. You get to weigh in on who will be the next NYC Mayor, Queens Borough President, City Comptroller, Public Advocate and City Councilmembers.
There are also six NY State Ballot proposals some of which are changes to the Constitution: 1) whether to authorize casino gambling in NYS, 2) a credit for qualified veterans with disabilities in the civil service, 3) exclusion of sewage treatment facility investments from county and municipal constitutional debt limits, 4) proposal to have NYS give up land rights in the Adirondacks to private enterprise in an exchange deal, 5) proposal to allow a private company to conduct mining operations on forest preserve land in a trade deal and 6) extending the length of time judges may serve past the age of 70.
Click here for our coverage of the NYC Municipal Elecitons, including details of the controversial Queens Borough President debate between Melinda Katz and Tony Arcabascio at QPTV in Flushing in October.
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 historic 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.
Queens Borough President Election
Democratic Party Hierarchy & NYC Developers Back Katz & Quinn
September 9, 2013 / Queens Politics / Queens News Analysis & Issues / Queens Buzz. So after answering countless annoying and largely uninformative robocalls from those seeking to govern us [what happened to our ability to 'Opt Out' for telemarketing?], and receiving voluminous junk mailers, tomorrow we get to decide who's going to govern us.
Tomorrow matters, because about 80% of the elections in NYC are decided in the primaries.
In the photo above right, Peter Vallone takes Melinda Katz to task for sending out mailers that attempt to demonize him with distorted visuals and labels.
NYC Mayoral Candidates - Final Polls & Agendas & You Decide
There are five major candidates running for Mayor on the Democratic side [de Blasio, Quinn, Weiner, Thompson & Liu] and two on the Republican side [Lhota & Catsimatidis]. The most recent polls show DeBlasio well ahead of the pack, but he needs 40% of the vote to avoid having a runoff election later in the month. Thompson is the runner up and Quinn, once the leading candidate, is running a distant third.
Quinn, sometimes referred to as Mayor Bloomberg's lapdog because of her 'dogged' support of his agenda, failed to obtain his endorsement. But Quinn [and Katz] did win the endorsement of the Democratic Party hierachy and the monied support of NYC real estate developers.
What voters will decide in this election, is whether the agendas of the Democratic Party hierarchy and NYC real estate developers are in alignment with their own.
Runoffs Weaken Mayoral Candidates
The last time we had an open NYC Mayoral election [meaning no incumbents] it resulted in a Democratic primary runoff. Fernando Ferrer won the primary with 279,000 votes [35.5%]. Mark Green won enough votes [243,000 votes] to compete in a runoff. In the runoff Mark Green prevailed, and then went on to lose against Michael Bloomberg by 35,000 votes. A hotly contested Democratic primary runoff weakens the Democratic candidate shortly before the final election.
Queens Borough President Candidates 2013
There are three Democrats running for Queens Borough President [Vallone, Katz & Brown] and one on the Republican side [Arcabascio]. Tony Avella is on the ballot, but he has dropped out of the race.
There are also a number of City Councilmember races, which we don't have the time to discuss today.
Click For More About Queens Borough President Candidates 2013
Click here to read more about the NYC Primary Elections, with more about the backgrounds of the Queens Borough President candidates, and including a link to find your Queens polling place.
Astoria Moms Defend Children’s Rights
Madmen: NYC 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, and 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.
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.
There 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.
CB Votes Split On USTA Expansion Plan
March 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-funded 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.
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 & Social Issues in Queens - News Briefs
News Briefs About Real Estate Development, Health, Education & Social Issues in Queens
Click here for more Real Estate Development, Healthcare, Education & Social Issues in Queens News briefs.
Click to quick scroll down to:
NYC World's Fair - 1939 - 1940 in Flushing Queens
Part I - Out of the Ashes Rises the Phoenix
Battle for the Heart of a Park …
... and the Soul of a Borough
January 12, 2013 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Issues / Queens Buzz. Over the past six months we’ve been watching with interest as events have been unfolding regarding the building of a 25,000 seat soccer stadium right in the heart of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. There are also a number of other proposals working their way through the political process / local government, which calls for the cessation of public lands to build private enterprises on various sections of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Currently four separate proposals are in process for planned developments in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. They include: 1) a chain store shopping mall / complex in the southwest corner of the Citifield parking lot [pink], 2) a housing / condominium / hotel complex on the lands the city acquired in its use of eminent domain to develop Willets Point [blue], 3) the expansion of the USTA facilities in the northwest section of the USTA franchise in the park [orange] and 4) the erection of a thirteen plus acre stadium / sports complex in the middle of Flushing Meadows Corona Park [yellowish green].
The graphic above was provided by one of the community groups opposed to the Flushing Meadow Corona Park developments. It's worth noting that most of the colored areas already have pavement or structures covering the land. The exception is that of the proposed Stadium & Concert venue [yellowish green], which would be a completely new development, replacing water vessels which were created for the Worlds Fair. See the map in the header of this series [top of page] where the dark red square represents the approximate acreage and location of the proposed stadium / concert venue.
Queens Buzz has put together a series of reports, which we will run in the coming days about the proposed developments in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. This report starts with a bit of the history of the park, which began around the turn of the last century when Flushing Meadows Corona Park was just an ashpile. The focus of this report is the 1939 NYC World's Fair which was held in Flushing Meadow Park as it was then called.
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
- Pedestrian Malls in Queens
- Bike Map of Queens
- Queens Economy - Economic Forecast 2012
- Queens Economic Development - Robert K. Steele in 2011
- Sunnyside / Woodside Zoning Plan
- Queens DOT Study - Jackson Heights Pedestrian Mall
- Business Loans in Queens
- Helen Marshall State of the Borough Address - 2011
- East Side Access Project in Queens
- FHA Loans in Queens - CAREA
Finding Dr. Right - Doctors in Queens
Doctors and Healthcare in LIC, Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside & Queens
February 16, 2012 / 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 - 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
- Dentists in Queens
- Chiropractors - Back Pain / Neck Pain Doctors in LIC
- Opticians, Ophthalmologists & Optometrists in Queens
- Yoga in LIC Astoria & Queens
- Beauty Spas in Sunnyside
- Organic Supermarkets in Queens
Queens High School Closings
How Are Queens High Schools Performing, Are They Being Evaluated Fairly & How Do Public Schools Perform Vs Charter Schools
April 21, 2012 / Education in Queens / Queens Buzz. Is the Mayor trying to improve NYC school system performance or is he trying to privatize the NYC public school system? When I began a journey to better understand the issues surrounding public school system performance beginning about a year ago, I had no idea I would end this segment of the journey pondering the question articulated above.
Over the course of the past year I’ve attended a number of meetings and rallies held at public high schools in Queens concerning the performance of public high schools in the Queens school districts. My last visit was on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, when I attended the public hearing at LIC High School regarding the Department of Education recommendation to close it.
As I entered the building I was surprised to see such a large turn out for the meeting. An auditorium that seats nearly a thousand people, was nearly full.
Click here to read our report about the public high school closings in Queens.
Queens College In Flushing
NYC Educators Making Things Happen
January 26, 2011 / Flushing / Queens Buzz. The following report is about a recent visit to Queens College in Flushing. The school is public, but only receives one third of its funding from the state. And so the school has sought help from alumni of the college who have supported many of the college’s efforts to enhance its facilities and programs through private donations.
The result is that Queens College provides NYC & Queens residents with a very good college education at affordable prices.
Click here to read our full report about Queens College in Flushing including a look at the Colden Auditorium, LeFrak Concert Hall and the Godwin-Ternbach Museum.
Education & Schools in Queens
- York - College Commencements in Queens - 2011
- York - Colleges in Queens - 2011
- Public High Schools in Queens - Flushing International - 2011
- St Sebastian's Catholic Grade School - 2010
- Vaughn College School of Aernautics in Queens - 2010
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.
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
- Landlord Tenant Rights in Queens - 2011
- iVote - Legal Residency For Immigrants in Queens - 2011
- Immigrant Movement - Corona Queens - 2011
- Julio of Jackson Heights - Film - 2011
- LGBT Parade & History of LGBT Rights - 2010
- Safe Space Jamaica - 2010
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,
Click here to read our report on employment, unemployment & industry in Queens.
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
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
- Debt Ceiling Deal - Opinion
- Unemployment in Queens - 2011
- TV / Film Production Tax Breaks - 2010
- Campaign Finance Ruling - Opinion
- Employment in Queens - 2009
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