It has been very exciting/interesting to be in Northwest Queens these past few months as young, insurgent challengers for congress have taken on institution-incumbents of the NYC delegation in the Democratic primaries. Here in New York District 12, Carolyn Maloney kept her seat safe from Suraj Patel, whom Corner interviewed in April. But the nation will be thinking about the race in NY-14, which includes Ditmars, Woodside, Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, Corona, College Point, Throgs Neck, Parkchester, Morris Park and City Island – where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat Joe Crowley. (Below: map of NY-12, left, and NY-14, right.)
- A funeral was held at Most Precious Blood Church for the baby that was found in a garbage can at Dutch Kills Playground. The baby was given the name, Dutch James Hope.
- Flor de Azalea Cafe on 34th Avenue and 9th Street in Ravenswood is hosting an open mic on Saturday, April 28 from from 5-7pm.
- The Steinway Astoria Partnership is hosting the International Culture Fest on Steinway Street on Sunday, April 29 from 12-5pm.
- We Heart Astoria is throwing a party, which celebrates local businesses, with tickets starting at $45 on Thursday, April 26.
- Also April 26, from 7-9pm the Boundless Tales Reading Series is on at the Local NYC in Long Island City. It’s free.
- Suraj Patel gets a write-up in student paper, Washington Square News, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets featured in Salon.
- New York YIMBY has renderings for a residential project on 44th Drive in Hunters Point.
- There are free English language classes going on at the Jacob Riis Settlement.
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.
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!
A teenager pointed out to his friend on the corner: It’s spelled out on the truck, Bomb squad!
Cops taped off a section of Broadway between 21st and 23rd streets by the Bel-Aire Diner this afternoon after a bomb scare. There were NYPD cars and trucks, ambulances and I even saw a state trooper. And there was the bomb squad.
Turned out, according to the New York Post, the suspicious object was a pot of spaghetti.
For months I watched men lay bricks at 12-02 37th Avenue, creating a gray block building in the middle of the Ravenswood industrial business zone. It is so gray and blocky it looked like they were building a castle or a fort. Now with the exterior done, the building is totally more flamboyant at night, its surface illuminated by blue lights, giving it a jazzy, almost night-club like appearance in the industrial area. Most of the buildings that have gone up in the zone lately are hotels.
I’m not sure yet if this is a hotel. And guess what, this is also a hotel! Of course it is. It took me a minute to call the wrong architect to find I had the wrong address and wrong paperwork to find a proper link explaining. And that architect? Also building a hotel in the Ravenswood IBZ (at 11-02 37th Ave.) Of course. ***Another update: Google Maps has this place listed as Hotel Nirvana! Well, nevermind. I like the way New York YIMBY described the 12-02 37th Ave development plan 2.5 years ago:
“The development would rise 100 feet into the air on a vacant lot between 12th and 13th Streets, in a sleepy commercial no-man’s land near Ravenswood Generating Station and the Roosevelt Island Bridge… In fact, it seems like an odd place for a hotel. The surrounding blocks are dotted with low-slung warehouses, two-family homes, and the large Ravenwood Houses public housing project.”
But we know now that the Ravenswood IBZ, intended to preserve industrial business space, is a small forest of hotels surrounded by the tall grass of warehouses and small factories. So anyway, this hotel definitely has a stubby shape in comparison to the others. I’ll just say it again. It’s a gray block thing. But at night, that’s when it lets its freak flag fly.
(This post was adjusted to conform to learned information.)