State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas tweeted a photo of herself seated at a table with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz at George’s, the restaurant that replaced or reconceptualized the Astor Room at Kaufman Astoria Studios, and wrote above it, “The Power Table.” This tweet, posted Friday afternoon, is the first to be linked to the address under the name George’s. Also, the photo shows what George’s looks like.
The other day I interviewed Suraj Patel, who is running against incumbent Representative Carolyn Maloney in the Midterm Democratic primary election for Congress on June 26. When I walked into his campaign headquarters at 64 Cooper Square, a converted East Village bar flush with young people on laptops, he was sitting by the door talking to a young woman who seemed to want to help his campaign. His website has a ‘Meet Suraj‘ feature allowing anyone to book 20 minutes with him. That’s what I did.
Patel, 34, is less than half the age of the incumbent (she’s 72) and has been described as part of a movement of Millennial challengers or “progressive insurgents” inspired by the last national election, to push out old guard Democrats. In New York, this includes Rep. Ed Crowley’s Bronx/Queens challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Yvette Clarke’s Brooklyn challenger Adem Bunkeddeko.
Patel, an East Village resident, grew up in Indiana and moved to the city 12 years ago for law school, his website says. He’s president of his family’s hotel business and teaches business ethics at NYU. His LinkedIn includes Barack Obama and the White House’s advance teams between 2008 and 2016, the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and special assistant to the chief of staff of the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 2012-2013. In this campaign, he has raised more than $1 million in contributions, close to Maloney’s $1.3 million and has spent at least $460,000. He lost the endorsement vote of the Village Independent Democrats to Maloney 20 to 17.
I let his staffer know a few hours in advance that I write a neighborhood blog and asked to be able to record audio. I’m not sure if Patel was expecting a journalist but I explained when the session started. The first few minutes of audio didn’t record well so I tried to edit it into shape. After that it’s smooth sailing. There’s also a nearly full transcript below.
Carolyn Maloney campaigners have been busy with clipboards at the Queensbridge F-train station to get signatures ensuring she’ll be on the June primary election ballot, I’ve noticed. I haven’t spotted challenger Suraj Patel campaigners in the Ravenswood-Queensbridge area by eye yet – he has visited the Ravenswood Houses and the area (as evidenced in this campaign video around the 3:35 mark) – but certain things are of note for the 34 year-old opponent.
Patel has again topped 25-year incumbent Maloney in campaign contributions, the Washington Post reported yesterday, collecting more than $525,000, Maloney less than $500,000, in the second fundraising quarter, putting Patel at close to $1.1 million. After Patel out-raised Maloney in the first quarter four to one, Maloney said, “it’s mainly from Indiana, where he’s from… mainly a huge amount of the name Patel, which is his name.” Patel later told BuzzFeed News, “I guess I didn’t realize Rep. Maloney hired Steve Bannon as her campaign strategist.” WaPo called this “the best coverage of [Patel’s] campaign.” A few weeks earlier, as BuzzFeed had noted, Politico reported that “four members of [Patel’s] immediate family, which owns SUN Hospitality, donated, as did 10 other relatives, according to his campaign.”
Patel was asked again about Maloney’s attack on a podcast posted yesterday on the site, Millennial Politics:
“I mean, how many Patels do you guys know? …I think there are about 250,000 Patels in this country alone… I find it to be offensive and race-bating to say that this guy’s last name is Patel and all these other Patels are donating to him.”
He also said of the incumbent:
“Representative Maloney is quote on quote good enough. I guess she takes the right votes and loses them time and time again… She should be leading from a place like this that’s wholly progressive… On top of that she isn’t as progressive as this district deserves.”
Patel is part of a movement of Democratic challengers described as running on Bernie Sanders-style politics, an effort to push out old-guard Dems for a Millennial new guard, along with Queens/Bronx candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who only once replied to me on Twitter. Both candidates are for eliminating ICE.
Patel, who has worked for Barack Obama campaigns, has highlighted such Maloney stances as her vote for authorizing the Iraq War. In 2002, 81 Democratic house members voted for the war, 126 house Democrats voted no. In 2005 Maloney joined the Out-of-Iraq caucus. Patel has also made note of Maloney’s prominent place in the anti-vaccination movement. Maloney has only recently announced she doesn’t believe vaccinations cause autism.
The Patel campaign is headquarted at 64 Cooper Square, the former location of an activist bar, as Racked explained:
“Until late September, 64 Cooper Square in Manhattan was home to the activist bar Coup, which sprung up in the wake of President Trump’s election and, while it was open, donated all of its proceeds to organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Coup’s wood bar, mirrored liquor shelves, and blue upholstered booths are still there, but the space is now the campaign headquarters of Suraj Patel…”
The district includes Astoria below Ditmars, Long Island City, Greenpoint, upper Williamsburg, part of the Lower East Side, the East Village and much of the East Side of Manhattan up to around East 96th Street. I have emailed the Patel campaign to see how much campaigning it has done in the Ravenswood/Queensbridge area and if any of its campaigners are from Western Queens. I haven’t heard back yet.
Participatory budgeting, where council district constituents get to vote on how to spend a million bucks, starts today in districts 26 (Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside) and 22 (Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside too).
In Astoria, items up for a vote include a hydroponic science lab at LIC High School, lighting upgrades at Astoria Houses Community Center, a tool shed at Two Coves Community Garden and road surfacing.
In LIC, items include bus countdown clocks, trees, a gym at Queensbridge Park, a soil science lab at Ravenswood Houses, tech upgrades at P.S. 112 in Dutch Kills and other schools and playground renovations at P.S. 111 in Ravenswood.
A few notes:
- That Ravenswood survey reported about here in Corner, will be online from April 4 through 30, Times Ledger reports.
- State Senator Aravella Simotas’ legislation on preserving rape kits made it into the 2019 state budget.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against Rep. Joe Crowley in the Midterm primary, wants to end ICE.
- Nas’ chicken and waffles joint will open in Hunters Point Monday with a private back room for parties.
- A $33.3 million deal was made to put up a seven story, 200-unit, mixed-use building in Dutch Kills at 37-11 30th Street, Real Estate Weekly reports.
“Dutch Kills, which sits just south of Astoria, has not seen the same level of investments as other sections of Long Island City, such as Hunters Point, Court Square and the area around Queensborough Plaza. Before Avenue and Slate bought the 37-11 30th Street, the only high-end housing project in the area was the Lightstone Group’s ARC complex, which is located two blocks to the south.”
- Rep. Carolyn Maloney spoke about the U.S. Census citizenship question, militarizing the border and gun legislation on Thirteen.
- Queensbridge is getting new roofs.
- LIC Reading Series will host its 3rd year anniversary event on April 10.
- Thrillist lists Petey’s Burger in the top 31 burger joints in America.
- A bunch of storefronts up by the Ditmars Boulevard station will be demolished to make way for a Target, Astoria Post reports.
A few notes:
- Seven year-old Astoria girl, Precise Tucker, who was put on life support after doing a prank and choking, died on Friday.
- Queensbridge-set film, Roxanne Roxanne debuted on Netflix this weekend and it is dope.
- City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will be at LaGuardia Community College tomorrow for the opening reception of “The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens,” an exhibit on the last 25 years of LGBT activism in Queens.
- Queens restaurants are getting priced out to Brooklyn due to high rents and “cheap eats” expectations, Katie Honan explains for Eater.
More notes after the jump
At this month’s Community Board 1 full meeting, members said they’d be sending out a survey for Ravenswood area residents. The idea, apparently, is to have some measure on how residents feel about changes happening in the area in regards to all the development going on. This should help the board in future land use reviews and all that kind of stuff. The same survey will go out throughout CB1 but it will start in Ravenswood because there’s so much development happening here. I think I can name some of it:
The twin Alma towers at 34-46 Vernon Boulevard. It looks finished, doesn’t it? But someone pointed out to me recently the fences weren’t on the balconies yet.
The seven-building Halletts Point development.
The site at 11-23 31st Drive which was recently bought for $8 million and holds 33,982 square feet of residential potential.
And to be honest, IDK what else, except maybe all those hotels in the IBZ.
The survey will go out to tenants association type groups CB1 members said but be on the lookout for it in local newspapers, if you guys read those things.
A few notes:
- $450,000 year-round exercise equipment at Queensbridge park, a $500,000 soil science lab at the Ravenswood Houses? These are a couple of the eight ideas that are up for a vote in the 26th council district at the 4th round of participatory budgeting.
- A 7 Train Coalition launched to fight gentrification along the 7 line but I wish they’d call it Occupy the 7 Train.
- Rep. Carolyn Maloney and other electeds are rallying for early voting in New York.
- Did you know March 20th was Queens Day? Here’s State Sen. Gianaris talking about it in Albany:
A sailboat got caught with the top of its sail against the Roosevelt Island Bridge Monday evening. No one was injured and the boat was towed, reports NBC.
A sailboat got caught on the Roosevelt Island Bridge earlier this evening https://t.co/59MRQVKewb
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) March 20, 2018
A few notes:
- The city council is investigating Jared Kushner’s company for falsely claiming that buildings it owned and sold in Astoria didn’t have rent-regulated tenants.
- Rep. Carolyn Maloney dismissed the campaign funding of her primary challenger, Suraj Patel by saying “it’s mainly from Indiana, where he’s from… mainly a huge amount of the name Patel, which is his name.” Patel told BuzzFeed that not all Patels are related, suggesting that Maloney is racist. “I guess I didn’t realize Rep. Maloney hired Steve Bannon as her campaign strategist,” he said.
More politics and news round-up after the jump!