Maloney challengers, libraries open for heat wave, subway flood…

Why are Millennials so ready to push out Carolyn Maloney from congress and take her seat? Last year, it was Suraj Patel, who said it was time for a new generation to take on the established MOC in the 12th NY district and push for tougher reforms such as eliminating ICE. (This worked for his peer AOC in neighboring NY-14 but couldn’t help him enough.) Now, two women are taking on Maloney – Erica Vladimir, 32, the former state senate staffer who last year accused State Sen. Jeff Klein of forcibly kissing her, and Lauren Ashcraft, 30, an LIC-based activist and comedian. Vladimir’s big thing is education policy. For Ashcraft, it’s getting money out of politics. Maloney has been in congress since 1992, when Vladimir and I were five and Ashcraft was three. 

Libraries open Sunday 

As I write this at about noon Saturday, it’s 93 degrees Fahrenheit out. By this morning, at least six deaths were recorded around the country during this record heat wave from the Midwest to the East Coast. Tomorrow, Queens Library will keep open 11 branches that are normally closed Sundays. That includes the LIC branch in Ravenswood, the Astoria Branch on west end of Astoria Boulevard and the Broadway branch. 

AG on Court Square subway flood 

The viral Subway Creatures video showing the Court Square G/7 subway station submerged in water during the epic rainstorm Wednesday night – nearly sending someone into a moving train, prompted State Sen. Michael Gianaris to write a letter asking State Attorney Gen. Letitia James to look into it. The AG then launched an inquiry into two construction companies at work at the site.

 

Maloney wins primary nom for re-election, Ocasio-Cortez takes NY-14

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.)

Continue reading “Maloney wins primary nom for re-election, Ocasio-Cortez takes NY-14”

A few notes

Azalea_OpenMic_42818.jpg

  • 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. 

Corner interviews Suraj Patel, candidate for Congress

The Suraj Patel campaign office at 64 Cooper Square

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.

Transcript below…

Continue reading “Corner interviews Suraj Patel, candidate for Congress”

Suraj Patel raises $1.1 million, defends contributions

Suraj_poster

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. 

Sailboat hits Roosevelt Island Bridge

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 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!

Continue reading “Sailboat hits Roosevelt Island Bridge”

Spaghetti crime scene shuts down Broadway near 21st Street

BombSquad

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

CautionTape

Continue reading “Spaghetti crime scene shuts down Broadway near 21st Street”