JVB gets Amazon mailer saying to contact himself

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Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer received one of the mailers Amazon has been sending to Western Queens residents. The latest tells him to contact himself and tell himself about the 25,000 new jobs or something. I’ve only gotten the first mailer. Of course, JVB addressed the irony in an Instagram story, now a permanent video, in which he makes it clear he won’t be calling himself to advocate for Amazon.

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Ben Carson tours QB

 

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Ben Carson, one of the most interesting characters in the story of the 2016 presidential election and who is now Pres. Trump’s head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), visited a boiler and the apartment of Geraldine Harvey at the NYCHA Queensbridge Houses yesterday. He asked Harvey if NYCHA was doing a good job responding to her concerns, and, writes the New York Daily News, she said the managers are “fairly responsive.” 

Carson was in town to meet with Mayor de Blasio about NYCHA, one month after a federal judge rejected an agreement between City Hall, NYCHA, HUD and the Manhattan U.S. attorney to have a federal monitor oversee the city’s public housing system of more than 400,000 people. The judge compared the problems at NYCHA to “the biblical plagues of Egypt.” Carson recently gave NYCHA until January 31 to come up with an action plan to address the problems with, reports the Wall Street Journal, “management, lead paint, mold, lack of heat, broken elevators and vermin issues,” which sounds like lyrics from “The Message.” 

(I didn’t have my own photo of QB on hand and my Google Maps street view wasn’t working so I used a Wikipedia pic for QB, but if you want to see my less serious concoction, look below.)

Coverage: WSJ, NYDN

Continue reading “Ben Carson tours QB”

Amazon to come to Anable Basin

The Anable Basin was controversial even before Amazon said it would show up. Less than a year ago, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, other local pols and various LIC activists were there to protest a plan to turn the strip at 44th Drive at the waterfront into a development that would somehow involve residential and industrial uses altogether. Well — no one cares about that anymore, because Amazon is coming, which is apparently the biggest business story in a while and it’s down the street from my apartment. A memorandum of understanding shows where Amazon plans to set up shop for part of it’s HQ2, and it’s the same area, just south of Con Edison. JVB and Senator Michael Gianaris were initially down with Amazon coming to LIC, but held a protest at the site today saying this was a huge $3 billion giveaway that won’t involve any public review. The mayor says the 25,000 jobs or more promised over a decade is unprecedented and the governor says the return on investment would be nine to one.  Continue reading “Amazon to come to Anable Basin”

NYT: City “Renewal” program failed at P.S. 111 and other notes…

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The New York Times highlighted P.S. 111 in upper Long Island City this week as a school Mayor de Blasio’s “Renewal” program has failed to help. The program, launched in 2014, invested millions in the city’s 94 poorest schools. The Times reports that non-public internal documents said in as early as December 2015 that a third of those schools would not likely meet the program’s goals. 

P.S. 111, or the Jacob Blackwell School, between 13th and 21st streets, 38th and 37th avenues, served as the featured school in the story. Only 8 percent of students passed the state’s math exam this year, fewer than before Renewal. Officials considered closing P.S. 111 the last few years. A memo noted that Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, education committee chair, would likely fight the closure. The Times notes city data reports the school is safer than it was when the current principal, Dionne Jaggon, took over in 2014. (Read piece here). 

Other notes…
Continue reading “NYT: City “Renewal” program failed at P.S. 111 and other notes…”

Comptroller comes to LIC to take on City Hall

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A great grandfather at the front of the line for the microphone told Comptroller Scott Stringer he’s sick of bridges and streets getting named after politicians. Stringer said he admitted he fantasized of one day telling his son that “Stringerway” was once called “Broadway.” 

Stringer, an almost-2013 candidate for mayor and thought-to-be 2021 mayoral hopeful, had the jokes at his Long Island City town hall at the CUNY School of Law. When one person insisted that City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has his eyes set on being mayor, Stringer said, don’t you hate people who want to be mayor? 

Stringer wasn’t just here to understand the needs of one region of Queens. He was here to make allies in his fight against City Hall – and probably for it. He knew that many of the complaints would be about housing and development. That’s everywhere, but in LIC, the towers are shooting up around us into the sky and the people are anxious about school space, train space, park space and sewage. Stringer is positioned as a high-level politician with views juxtaposed to the mayor’s housing strategy, setting himself as a more progressive alternative. 

“I don’t believe that this is how we should build our city,” he said in reference to Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for economic development. “We’ve got to change the system. And the way we’re building our city is, we’re doing it backwards.”   Continue reading “Comptroller comes to LIC to take on City Hall”

Speaker Corey Johnson comes to Astoria

Astoria City Councilman Costa Constantinides, middle, Speaker Corey Johnson, right.

The first thing City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wanted the crowd to know was that he is openly HIV positive and has been sober for nine years. The first thing Council Member Costa Constantinides wanted us to know was that the school we were in, P.S. 171, is getting solar panels that he allocated from the city budget.

Unlike the mayor’s town hall I went to in LIC last year, there wasn’t a line outside when I got there. I was only 15 minutes early but the auditorium did fill up eventually. Someone asked if I RSVP’d, and I wondered who actually does that.

Constantinides listed funds he brought to Mount Sainai Hospital and the library and other things which I didn’t write down. He said Johnson is not just a colleague but “really is my friend.” CoJo in return said Constantinides is “a leader who really gets it.” He said his colleague, chair of the environmental committee, brought $26 million to west of 21st Street, including the $2.5 million for the solar panels.

There was one big drama that took up a lot of the outset of the forum, which came from tenants of the Acropolis Gardens, a large condo building up on Ditmars Boulevard and 33rd Street. The 600-plus unit building is facing foreclosure as of last Monday after its board missed a payment. Continue reading “Speaker Corey Johnson comes to Astoria”

Landmarked Kaufman Astoria Studios decor was never approved by city

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Kaufman Astoria Studios plans to present this diagram to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Kaufman Astoria Studios is one of the showiest sites in lower Astoria, with its colorful lights ablaze at night, its British phone booths at its pillars, its orange-streaked iron gates and its fancy restaurant, George’s, serving as an anchor of the Kaufman Arts District. Turns out, much of the decor on the building was never approved by the city, which granted the near-century-old site landmark status in 1978.

The film and TV studio plans to ask the Landmarks Preservation Commission for permission to make a temporary outdoor portion of George’s permanent but will also address various other decor that’s been up in spite of the landmark status for, apparently, years. I don’t know if any of the added fixtures go against the letter of the landmarks preservation law, which you could read here. A representative for the studio went before a full Community Board 1 Thursday night asking for a letter of support, stirring up grievances about the iconic studio site.

“They’re like an outside entity in our neighborhood,” said Board Member Stella Nicolaou. “They just went ahead and did things,” she said, recalling also, how the studio several years ago closed a street off permanently for private use. “It’s like a dictatorship in our community.” Continue reading “Landmarked Kaufman Astoria Studios decor was never approved by city”