Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What The Media Won't Show You About Tea Party Racism - YouTube

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Tea Party Racism - Fake grass roots (astro-turf) organization grows out of a hatred and fear of non-whites and hatred of a black president.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First Meeting of the New 38th Assembly Regular Democratic Club at The Shops at Atlas Park - March 25th, 2010...

Goal: Push Strong Democratic Voice for All People in 38th Assembly District

Club President Dolores (Dori) Capace address the audience.

Dozens of residents of the 38th Assembly District showed up for the first meeting of the 38th Assembly Regular Democratic Club last Thursday evening at the Shops at Atlas Park. Residents and Democratic Club board members talked about the importance of making sure local Democrats have a strong voice in city, state and national politics.

To start the meeting, one of the Club’s founders, Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley said, “We need to come together as a community to support Democrats that represent our values and work to make sure our neighborhood has the voice it needs in New York City, Albany and Washington. We need to make sure our voice is heard loud and clear and we fight for people who represent our neighborhood well.”

NYC Council Member Elizabeth Crowley speaks.

Democratic District Leader Frank Kotnik talked about the importance making sure everybody had a platform to express their interests and talk about what issues area Democrats should tackle. “I want this Democratic Club to be a place where everyone can be with friends. We can talk about the issues that important to us and make sure we help elect people who share our priorities.”

The President of the 38th Assembly Democratic Club, Dolores (Dori) Capace, said, “I have lived in this community for a long time and I believe we have a better hope for the future if we work together to bring about positive changes to our community.”

l. to r. President Dolores Capace, District Leader Frank Kotnik, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, Secretary Lydon Sleeper, Doris Figliola, District Leader Eleanor Errante and David Slavkin.

The 38th Assembly Regular Democratic Club will meet the last Thursday of every month at 7:30 at the Shops at Atlas Park. All Democrats are welcome. The Democratic Club plans on having a series of speakers to talk about politics in New York City, Albany and Washington and over the course of the next year they hope to have major candidates for state and federal races visit, as well.

Representatives from State Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblyman Mike Miller were also present at the meeting.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Senator Joe Addabbo Is a Grand Marshal of 21st Phagwah Parade in Richmond Hill...

NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. was a Grand Marshal of the annual Phagwah Parade held by the Indo Caribbean Hindu community, on Sunday, March 7, which began at 133rd Street and Liberty Avenue and ended at Phil Rizzuto Park (formerly Smokey Oval Field) in Richmond Hill.

Thousands of parade goers lined the route or gathered in the park for the festivities that included throwing colorful powder, water and confetti, to celebrate chasing away winter on the festival of Holi or Phagwah, and the start of the community’s new year.

State Senator Joe Addabbo & Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan Hold Free Health Fair in Ridgewood...

Co-sponsors Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (center), with health care workers and customers at Ridgewood Health Fair on Saturday, March 20, held at Trinity Reformed Church, 66-30 60th Place, corner of Palmetto Street.

On Saturday, March 20, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan co-sponsored a free Health Fair at the Trinity Reformed Church, 66-30 60th Place, Ridgewood. A vast array of free services were provided to ensure that individuals have the tools they need to lead healthy and active lives. Approximately 100 residents from the nearby area and from across Queens attended the event.

Services provided included: hearing and vision tests, blood pressure and glucose check-ups as well as a private AIDS screening. A nutritionist and cardiologist were on site to provide health counseling, as well as a licensed chiropractor. In addition, a representative from the Smoking Cessation Program at Elmhurst Hospital spoke with individuals about steps they can take to quit smoking. Community health professionals were also on hand to answer general questions and provide information on applying for Medicare, Medicaid, EPIC and Child Health Plus.

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Senator Joe Addabbo, patient getting blood pressure check-up by Wyckoff Heights Medical Center staffer at the hospital's table.

“This event benefited families and people of all ages by providing them with the vital healthcare services and information they need,” said Senator Addabbo. “It is essential that individuals have access to quality, affordable and essential healthcare services. Too often, lack of access to routine services and information can lead individuals to neglect their health. I hope this event highlighted the numerous resources in the community to help individuals and families provide for their health."

“I want to thank Senator Joe Addabbo for co-hosting and organizing this great informative Heath Fair,” said Assemblywoman Nolan. “Those that attended were able to get information and ask questions from the major health centers in and around Queens. Programs like this health fair, help residents of Queens to stay informed and get the assistance that they may need.”

Senator Addabbo and Assemblywoman Nolan with three Elmhurst Hospital staffers.

Those who helped make this event possible include: Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Elmhurst Hospital, AIDS Center of Queens County, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, The EPIC Program, Child Health Plus, AARP, Ridgewood Communicare Clinic, Neighborhood Health Providers, Queens Health Center, Pearle Vision, National Children’s Study, New York Urban League, and many more.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Queens DA Richard Brown Sets Milestone -

I bet he's also the shortest serving District Attorney in Queens history...

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District Attorney Richard A. Brown's staff congratulates him on historic milestone: becoming the longest serving district attorney in Queens County history as he surpasses the record set by District Attorney Benjamin W. Downing, who served from January 1, 1865, to October 26, 1883.

Richard Brown yesterday became the longest-serving district attorney in Queens history.

Brown, who was first elected to office on June 1, 1991, completed his 6,874th day on the job, breaking a record by Benjamin Downing that dates to 1883.

Brown has a long way to go before catching recently retired Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau's 33 years.

"This historic achievement could not have been possible without the overwhelming support and confidence of the people of Queens County," Brown said.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Breaking News: Court Overturns the Closure of the 19 Schools..!

A school board vote to close 19 city schools is "null and void," according to a decision handed down by a state supreme court justice today.

The bombshell decision leaves the fate of all 19 schools and their staffs up in the air and forces the Department of Education to rewrite arguments for why they deserve to be shut down

The city received the decision at 12:30 this afternoon, two days after the deadline for high school students to be notified about which schools they'll attend in the fall. In February, the teachers union sued the city, arguing that the DOE had violated the law that governs school closures. The decision (posted below) notes:

"The court wishes to make clear, however, that this decision is not intended to prevent completion of the matching process for any students who are not directly affected by the proposed closure or phase out of the 19 schools."

The court decision is based on three, clear findings of fact:

1. The EIS's "failed to provide any meaningful information regarding the impacts on the students or the ability of the schools in the affected community to accommodate those students" in the closing schools, or where the students would be able to find" similar programs elsewhere, such as the LYFE centers, for pregnant students or those with small children.

2. Lack of public notice: the DOE failed to provide hard copies of these proposals to CECs, Community boards, Community superintendents, and SLTs.

3. The DOE failed to hold joint meetings with the SLTs and CECs; some of whose members were invited to participate but had only a minimal role.

News Stories Follow...

New York Times - Judge Voids City School Closings By Sharon Otterman

A Manhattan judge on Friday reversed a city decision to close 19 schools for poor performance, ruling that education officials engaged in “significant violations” of state education law and failed to follow proper process in closing the schools.

The ruling means the city will have to start over again in making its case to close the schools — this time including more community input. That lengthy process will delay the moment when thousands of eighth graders who applied to the closing schools learn where they will go to school in the fall. It represents a victory for the United Federation of Teachers and the N.A.A.C.P., which had filed suit to stop the closings.

The judge, Joan B. Lobis of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, said the decision is not intended to delay admissions notifications for the other 80,000 eighth graders citywide who did not apply to the schools that are affected. High school admissions letters citywide, originally due to be distributed March 24, had been delayed pending the outcome of this lawsuit. The ruling may allow them to go out shortly.

Judge Lobis ruled that the city failed to act in compliance with education law when it issued its Educational Impact Statements for the schools, providing insufficient detail of what the closings would mean to the surrounding community, her ruling said.

The city, she said, “failed to provide the detailed analysis an impact statement mandates.”

The city must reissue the statements for the 19 schools before it completes the process of finding seats for the 8,500 students who applied to those schools, she ruled. While the court realizes “this will create inconvenience” for those students, it “cannot overlook what it reluctantly concludes are significant violations of the education law by respondents.”

The January 26 votes by the Panel of Education Policy to close the schools, which followed nearly 9 hours of public comment, are “null and void,” she said.

The schools that have gotten at least a temporary reprieve include Jamaica High School and Beach Channel High School in Queens; Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx; Paul Robeson High School in Brooklyn; and Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan, along with smaller schools, including the Global Enterprise Academy in the Bronx and the high school grades of the Choir Academy in Manhattan.

We are thrilled,” said Christine Rowland, the U.F.T. representative at Columbus High School. “I think there’s a chance now. It was so hard for us to get anyone to listen in the very tight space of time we’ve had.”

The Department of Education did not have an initial comment, but a press officer said that lawyers were reviewing the decision.

Daily News - Judge sides with teachers; halts city plan to close 19 schools - By Tanyanika Samuels and Rachel Monahan

In a stunning blow to the city, a judge halted the controversial closing of 19 failing schools that some teachers and students fought to keep open.

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis's ruling Friday sided with the teachers union and the NAACP in their case against the city, which temporarily delayed the high school admissions process.

The surprising decision elated critics of the mass closures, who packed hearings to speak up for their schools.

"The principal made an announcement over the loud speaker and immediately cheers sounded throughout the school," said Christine Rowland, a teacher at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. "We are thrilled. This is very exciting."

"We're ecstatic," said James Eterno, a social studies teacher and the teachers union chapter leader at Jamaica High School, in Queens.

"The word is spreading like wildfire throughout the school. We feel like we're born again, like we got a stay of execution."

The lawsuit charged that the city had not followed the requirement under the new mayoral control of schools law that officials must provide a full explanation of how the closings would affect school communities.

Lobis found the city "failed to comply with the requirements" of the law and ruled that the middle of the night vote that approved the closing schools in January is "null and void."

"We feel vindicated about our concern that closing these schools without a real process was problematic," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, one of the elected officials who sued.

Lobis had temporarily banned the city Education Department from giving eighth-graders high school decision letters, which were slated to be handed out Wednesday.

But her judgment allows the letters to go out to all but 8,500 students who applied for admission to the closing high schools. The decision did not come in time for the letters to be given to students before spring break.

"As soon as possible, the Office of Student Enrollment will mail your child's high school admissions letter to the home address listed on his or her high school application," Chancellor Joel Klein wrote in a letter to parents.

There was no immediate indication from the city on whether they will appeal the decision, which will also affect new school slated to take over space in closing schools next fall.

After a teachers union lawsuit last year, the city Department of Education backed down on closing three schools - Public Schools 194 and 241 in Manhattan and PS 150 in Brooklyn.

Those schools remained open and were not put on the closing list again.

List of the 19 schools:

1. Academy of Environmental Science

2. School for Community Research and Learning

3. Christopher Columbus High School

4. Global Enterprise High School

5. Monroe Academy for Business/Law

6. Metropolitan Corporate Academy

7. Robeson High School

8. W.H. Maxwell CTE High School

9. Beach Channel High School

10. Jamaica High School

11. Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School

12. PS 332


14. Academy of Collaborative Education

15. Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence

16. New Day Academy

17. Choir Academy of Harlem High School

18. Frederick Douglass Academy III Middle School

19. Norman Thomas High School

New York Post - Judge rules Dept. of Ed.'s bid to close 19 schools violated state law - By Yoav Gonen

The teachers union won a lawsuit today in its bid to roll back the city's plan to close 19 low-performing public schools.

The United Federation of Teachers filed the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last month, accusing the city of ramming its plan through in a way "that would have made Tammany Hall proud."

The union claimed the Department of Education plan violated state law because it failed to consider the impact of the closings on their communities.

As a result, the Department of Education has to either redo the entire student application process or revert to an old list in which kids had picked those schools.

Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have defended closing schools that they say are failing.

Among the 19 schools that had been slated for closure were six large high schools, including Jamaica and Beach Channel in Queens, Paul Robeson in Brooklyn and Columbus in The Bronx.

The judges ruling also appeared to clear the way for the Department of Education to notify all but the 8,500 students who initially applied to one of the closing schools of their high school placements -- which had been delayed since Wednesday.

A DOE spokesman said officials were reviewing the decision. - Court overturns closures of 19 city schools by Anna Phillips

A school board vote to close 19 city schools is “null and void,” according to a decision handed down by a state Supreme Court justice today.

The bombshell decision leaves the fate of all 19 schools and their staffs up in the air and forces the Department of Education to rewrite arguments for why they deserve to be shut down. The ruling is the first time a court has interpreted the new mayoral control law Albany put in place last summer.

The city received the decision at 12:30 this afternoon, two days after the deadline for high school students to be notified about which schools they’ll attend in the fall.

In February, the teachers union sued the city, arguing that the DOE had violated the law that governs school closures. The decision (posted below) notes:

The court wishes to make clear, however, that this decision is not intended to prevent completion of the matching process for any students who are not directly affected by the proposed closure or phase out of the 19 schools…”

Sen. Chuck Schumer 'really excited' after chat with NASA about getting shuttle for Intrepid museum

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Space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., in 2009. Discovery is one of the shuttles that the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum would love to have. Raoux/AP/Pool

New York has the right stuff to land a space shuttle on the Hudson.

That's the message NASA Administrator Charles Bolden delivered Wednesday to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been pushing for the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum to be the permanent hangar for one of three soon-to-be-retired shuttles.

"He said that we are on the launching pad, we haven't yet got liftoff," Schumer told the Daily News. "I think it's his view that on the merits we are in very, very good shape. But we're not there yet."

The Intrepid is competing with museums in 25 other cities to win one of the shuttles, including Washington's Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

A NASA spokesman told The News that the agency intends to award the shuttles to the sites where the most people could view them.

New York officials note the Intrepid, with its 1 million visitors a year, fits the bill.

"I am really excited," said Schumer, who has written and phoned Bolden as part of his recruiting pitch.

"This is an amazing thing for New York," he added.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she had an "encouraging" talk with Bolden last week - and her aides have been lobbying Vice President Biden, who is chairman of NASA's board.

"Landing the space shuttle in New York City would not only create a new iconic landmark on the West Side, it would generate significant new tourism dollars to help rebuild our economy and spark new educational opportunities for the largest possible audience," Gillibrand said.

Mayor Bloomberg, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn are also shuttle boosters.

"The museum is ready and equipped to accommodate such a substantial exhibit," Stringer wrote in a letter to Congress.

Officials estimate that having one of the shuttles - either the Atlantis, Endeavour or Discovery - would bring in about $100 million in revenue a year.

The shuttles, to be decommissioned next year, are expected to be ready for delivery by July 2011, after NASA scientists take apart and decontaminate the ships.

The Intrepid would have to pay $28.8 million to reassemble and transport the shuttle to Pier 86 on Manhattan's West Side.

Museum officials are also trying to raise about $40 million to build a glass enclosure to house the spacecraft.

"I think we as a city should be deeply humbled and more than excited that this may really come to fruition," said Intrepid President Bill White.

He encouraged New Yorkers to log onto to sign a petition of support or donate money.

"We need your contributions and your signature today," White said.

NASA expects to make a decision by July, but sources said it could come as soon as next month.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Is a Shinnecock-Run Racino in the Works? by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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Now that Aqueduct Entertainment Group has been disqualified from developing a racino at Aqueduct Race Track, the Shinnecock Indian Nation — with expected federal recognition just around the corner — may be setting its sights on the Ozone Park track or nearby Belmont Park in Elmont, LI.

Shinnecock spokeswoman Beverly Jensen said the Long Island tribe is interested in a casino, but the location isn’t set yet. “We are looking at any place and we are looking at all places, including Aqueduct and Belmont,” she said.

In October 2007 the Shinnecocks prepared an ambitious casino proposal for Aqueduct, a $1.4 billion project which included 490,000 feet of gambling space, 350 card tables, 10,500 slot machines, 12,000 employees and a 1,200-room hotel.

The Aqueduct proposal estimated a full-size casino would bring in $2.1 billion annually. The city and state would share 25 percent from the $1.5 billion generated annually by the casino’s slot machines, and added tax revenues.

The plan has been gathering dust on a shelf, according to Tom Shields, a spokesman for Michigan-based Gateway Casino Resorts, the Shinnecocks’ partner in the project.

But now with Aqueduct set to be re-bid, the tribe may just dust off their plan.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said he had met with representatives of the Shinnecock tribe in the summer of 2009, at which time they expressed an interest in Aqueduct and presented two plans to him. One included a casino and horse racing; the other eliminated racing entirely.

Addabbo said he does not support the Shinnecocks developing a casino at Aqueduct because, unlike the other bidders who would rent the land, the state would have to sell it to the tribe, where, as owners, they could develop it as they see fit and close the race track if they so desired.

Addabbo said that owning Aqueduct Race Track would just be a hindrance to the Shinnecocks. “They don’t want to do horse racing, they want a full-fledged casino,” Addabbo said. “Obviously, this is not what we would be looking for.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said he would reserve judgment on the Shinnecocks’ racino proposal at Aqueduct. He said promises of job creation and the generation of billions of dollars annually does not necessarily translate into revitalizing the area or the surrounding community. “There are a lot of pros but there are a lot of cons,” Ulrich said. “Any decision would have to come under extensive community review.”

If Aqueduct is not a possibility, Belmont Park would appear to be a good bet for the Shinnecocks since State Sen. Minority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) supports its redevelopment.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for Skelos, said the senator would like to have video lottery terminals at Belmont and see it turned into a first-class tourist destination.

According to Reif, Skelos sees no problem with Aqueduct and Belmont casinos successfully operating at the same time because they would each cater to different markets, with Aqueduct having just VLTs and Belmont featuring a full spectrum of gaming.

Addabbo agreed, saying the two venues could coexist if each offers different gaming.

But the Shinnecock’s road to developing a casino off the tribe’s reservation is laden with obstacles.

First, it is rare for the federal government to grant permission for an off-reservation casino. There is also a requirement that tribal gambling operations be built within 75 miles of reservation land.

The Shinnecock reservation is located on the east end of LI, a little more than 75 miles from Belmont and more than 85 miles from Aqueduct.

Although other tribes have opened casinos off-reservation by using “land trusts” arranged with the U.S. Department of the Interior, a Supreme Court decision in February 2009 bars tribes recognized after 1934 from entering into such trusts. Legislation is pending before Congress to overturn the court ruling.

The Shinnecocks would also have to negotiate an agreement with the state to develop anything other than the smaller video gaming facilities federally recognized tribes are entitled to operate.

In the meantime, the state’s lottery division is set to oversee the selection of another bidder for Aqueduct.

With AEG out of the running, the remaining bidders are SL Green Realty with Hard Rock International, the Peebles Corporation with MGM Mirage, Penn National Gaming and Aqueduct Gaming with partners Delaware North, Saratoga Gaming and McKissack and McKissack.

Cops Lauded for Arrest of Two Home Invaders by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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Police officers Shawn Phillips and Steven Betts were honored last week with the 106th Precinct’s Cop of the Month award for March for chasing down and arresting two home invasion suspects also charged with shooting at their squad car.

The action began at 8 a.m. on Feb. 2 when police received a 911 call of a home invasion near 122nd Street and 150th Avenue in South Ozone Park. The victims were leaving their house to take their children to school when two gun-toting thugs pushed them back into their residence, tied them up and proceeded to rummage through their possessions, looking for valuables, according to Deputy Inspector Joseph Courtesis, the precinct commander. The suspects took a 42-inch television and made their getaway in a white car they allegedly had stolen earlier.

Officers responded to the scene and immediately broadcast a description of the suspects and their car. While Phillips and Betts canvassed the area, a second robbery was broadcast over the police radio. The description of the suspects in that incident appeared to be the same as in the first robbery. This time a female on her way to work was robbed at gunpoint at a bus stop. Courtesis said the victim not only provided a description of the alleged perpetrators, but also told officers the type of vehicle and its license plate number. Phillips and Betts spotted the car at 130th Street and Foch Boulevard.

When the officers attempted to stop the vehicle, the suspects took off instead. While Betts drove, Phillips broadcast the progress and location of the vehicle pursuit. Courtesis said the suspects drove erratically to evade capture. The pursuit lasted for three minutes, passed through three precincts and continued for five miles. At one point in the chase the passenger in the vehicle, whom the Queens District Attorney later identified as Darius Lowery, 22, of Ozone Park, allegedly began to wave a firearm out the window in an attempt to intimidate the officers into backing off, Courtesis said.

Lowery then allegedly leaned out the window and opened fire. Next, the suspects jumped out of the car and fled on foot, leaving the vehicle in gear. It crashed into multiple vehicles parked on the street.

While being chased on foot by Phillips and Betts, Lowery and the other suspect, Urban Fermin, 30, also of Ozone Park, allegedly spotted a resident outside his house and attempted to push him back into his residence. The victim, however, had already locked the door and put the keys in his pocket. The suspects then shot at the two officers, who were right behind them. Phillips and Betts returned fire and the suspects fled to hide in a nearby backyard.

Police quickly set up a perimeter. One of the suspects was apprehended in a backyard and the firearm was recovered. Police recovered a 42-inch TV from the vehicle and a handbag on the street near their car. After further investigation by the precinct’s detective squad, the second alleged perpetrator was apprehended. Courtesis said that both suspects are on parole.

In presenting the Cop of the Month Award to Phillips and Betts, Courtesis said, “These officers exemplify bravery at its highest standard.”

Prior to the Feb. 2 incident, the precinct had experienced a rash of gunpoint robberies that were similar in nature, according to Courtesis.

Since the arrest of the two suspects there is no longer such a robbery problem in the 106th Precinct, he said.

Schmidt's Candy in Woodhaven...The Sweet Lowdown by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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A visit to Schmidt's Candies in Woodhaven can be an exercise in self-restraint for anyone with even half a sweet-tooth.

There are large glass jars full of colorful jelly beans, licorice, gummy bears and fruit slices.

Old-fashioned wooden display cases at the store, on Jamaica Ave., hold trays of hand-dipped chocolates filled with fruits, nuts, jellies and marshmallows.

Visitors get a warm greeting from Margie Schmidt, whose grandfather, Frank, opened the store more than 80 years ago. Chances are she'll be dressed in work clothes decorated with splatters of chocolate.

Schmidt is in the middle of her busiest season, which stretches from Valentine's Day to Easter. Customers drop in, call or place orders on the store's Web site

But there are no machines to boost production in this mini chocolate factory. Schmidt herself, along with a small band of helpers, melts and hand-dips the chocolates.

They are placed on wooden drying racks that she estimates are almost 80 years old. "They work," she said. "Almost everything here is original."

In the basement, Schmidt makes customer favorites like butter-crunch and ribbon candy on marble-topped tables that her grandfather, better known as "Boss," used.

"We all worked here as kids," said Schmidt, who took over the business from her father - also named Frank - in the 1980s. "But, at the beginning, all I was allowed to do was clip and unclip the molds."

Those molds, some of which date back to the 1920s and 1930s, are key to shop's intricately-decorated chocolate bunnies, eggs, kewpie dolls and others.

"Look at that detail," Schmidt said, after opening up a Easter lamb mold that hours ago had been filled with gooey molten chocolate. "Isn't that beautiful?"

"White Powder" Package Sent to Congressman Weiner's Office | NBC New York

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Law enforcement officials say a package with white powder was sent to Congressman Weiner's Queens office today.

A preliminary review shows the letter in part complained about the historic health care legislation passed by Congress this week, according to the source.

Weiner's office is on the fifth floor of a building on Kew Gardens Road in Queens. Law enforcement officials said a doctor's office and a law office on the floor were among those evacuated as a precaution. Nine people were inside Weiner's office at the time.

In a statement, Weiner acknowledged that his office received a suspicious envelope and said his prime concern is the safety of his staff and others in the area.

"Earlier today an envelope containing white powder and a threatening letter was delivered to my community office in Kew Gardens. The NYPD was immediately alerted and have responded appropriately by sending a Haz-Mat team," the statement read. "Any questions related to their response should be directed to the NYPD. My first priority is the safety of my staff and neighbors, and the authorities are currently taking steps to investigate and resolve the situation."

The NYPD, the FBI and other emergency management officials are at the scene as a precaution, spokesmen for the agencies say. Weiner's Kew Gardens office will be closed pending the completion of the investigation. As is routine, preliminary field testing is underway to determine whether the substance is in any way hazardous. Then it will be sent to a lab for further detailed testing as a precaution. Officials say most often, these letters are hoaxes.

The package sent to Weiner's office may be the latest in a series of threats directed against Democratic Congress members who voted to overhaul the U.S. health care system.

At least four Democratic offices in New York, Arizona and Kansas were struck and at least 10 members of Congress have reported some sort of threats, including obscenity-laced phone messages, congressional leaders have said. No arrests have been reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday condemned vandalism and threats against members of Congress who voted to overhaul the U.S. health care system. Republicans joined in, telling people to calm down and saying they too were being targeted in an increasingly venomous political atmosphere.

"I don't want this to be a distraction" to the work of Congress, Pelosi said. But she also asserted that such violence and threats of reprisal have "no place in a civil debate in our country" and must be rejected.

Her sentiments were echoed minutes later by House Republican leader John Boehner, who said that while many are angry over the health care measure, "threats and violence should not be part of a political debate."

The House's No. 3 Republican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, said at a brief news conference Thursday that someone fired a bullet through a window of his campaign office in Richmond this week and he has received threatening e-mails.

Responding to Democrats who have accused Republicans of being too slow to condemn the attacks against lawmakers, he stressed that security threats are not a partisan issue. "To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible," he said.

The actions against Democrats have included racial slurs thrown at black lawmakers, e-mail and phone death threats and bricks thrown through regional office windows.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat and chairwoman of an influential House committee, said someone had left her a voice mail that used the word "snipers."

On the Republican side, the office of Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio released a tape of a profanity-laced phone message in which the caller said Republicans were racists and, referring to an accident two years ago when Schmidt was hit by a car while jogging, said, "you should have broke your back, b... ."

Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer told The Associated Press Thursday that there was "no evidence that annoying, harassing or threatening telephone calls or emails are coordinated. Regrettably though, bloggers and twitters seem to feed off each other, leaving little room for creativity."

At the news conference, Pelosi said it is "important for us to be able to express ourselves freely, not to diminish that in any way, but also to hit a standard that says some of the actions ... must be rejected."

But the California Democrat also said she did not "subscribe to the theory that these acts sprang from the comments of my colleagues."

The vandalism and threats surprised a researcher at a think tank that monitors extremist groups.

"I think it is astounding that we are seeing this wave of vigilantism," said Mark Potok of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Yorkers Still Like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, But Don't Want Fourth Term: Poll by Adam Lisberg - NY Daily News

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Just 22% surveyed in Tuesday's Quinnipiac University poll would support Bloomberg for another term, while 58% say he should quit while he's ahead.
Hey Mayor Bloomberg: Don't push your luck.

That's the message from New Yorkers in a new poll who say they still like Mike, but not enough to give him a fourth term in office.

Just 22% surveyed in Tuesday's Quinnipiac University poll would support Bloomberg for another term, while 58% say he should quit while he's ahead.

In every borough and demographic group, voters opposed a fourth term for him. Bloomberg won his third term in office last fall by a five-point margin after pushing the City Council to extend the old two-term limit for officeholders that had twice been approved by voters.

The new poll suggests voters haven't forgotten.

About 55% believe elected officials should be limited to two terms, but just 17% support the current three-term limit.

"Voter support for term limits in general hasn't wavered," and remains at 70%, said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"New Yorkers gave Mayor Mike a third term but now they say, 'Enough is enough!' "

A new charter revision commission empaneled this month by Bloomberg could revisit term limits and recommend restoring them to their old two-term level - or eliminating them entirely.

Bloomberg still enjoys an enviable 61-27 approval rating, among the highest surveyed by the Quinnipiac poll, which is almost a mirror opposite of Gov. Paterson's 62-23 disapproval rating among city voters.

However, a clear majority of New Yorkers want Paterson to finish his term, as he has pledged to do.

Of those surveyed, 65% want him to stay in office and just 28% want him to resign.

Meanwhile, city voters strongly disapprove 54% to 31% of Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch's plan to borrow up to $2 billion in each of the next three years to close the state's budget gap.

The survey of 819 registered New York voters was conducted Mar. 15-21 and has a 3.4-point margin of error.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

President Obama Signs Healthcare Reform Bill Into Law - MSNBC - Video

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Rep. Weiner Filled Out His Census Form. Did You?

Rep. Weiner (D – Queens and Brooklyn), seen here completing his census form at his office in Washington D.C., is encouraging constituents to participate in the census so that cNew York receives its fair share of more than $400 billion in federal funding.

With census forms arriving in mailboxes across the country, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D – Queens and Brooklyn) is reminding citizens to participate in the national count to help ensure that New York receives its fair share of more than $400 billion in federal funding. Information collected by the census helps determine the number of seats held by states in Congress, as well as how much money is spent on needed infrastructure and resources like hospitals, schools, roads and emergency services.

Properly filling out and returning your census form is quick and easy – and it will ensure that New York remains the greatest city in the world,” Weiner said. “With an accurate count, we will help guarantee that New York receives the funding it needs.”

The census is conducted once every 10 years. All information provided is confidential, and census officials are barred by law from sharing household information – including immigration status – with any other state or federal agencies.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New York City Comptroller John Liu, Assemblywoman Meng Endorse Gillibrand for Senate

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Joined by Asian American community leaders, New York City Comptroller John C. Liu and Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) formally endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. Senate this weekend, touting her work to rebuild New York’s economy by increasing lending and cutting taxes for small businesses to create thousands of new jobs immediately.

"Senator Gillibrand's vision and priorities clearly place New York families and small businesses first," said Comptroller John C. Liu. "She has the right ideas and a strong legislative strategy to rebuild our economy so it works for all New Yorkers. Within her first year, Senator Gillibrand has pushed forth proposals that promise real and wide-reaching results, like federal tax credits for small businesses who hire new workers and grow jobs.

Comptroller Liu continued, "Over the past year, the Senator has also demonstrated a strong understanding of how the broken immigration system has an enormous impact on New Yorkers. Beginning with her support for the Dream Act, Senator Gillibrand's consistent commitment to more humane, comprehensive immigration reform and creating paths to citizenship is reinvigorating and good for New York. This is why I am proud to endorse her for U.S. Senate."

“Kirsten is exactly the kind of fighter we need right now in the U.S. Senate,” said Assemblywoman Grace Meng. “She understands the challenges families are facing and she has shown she will never back down from a fight. Kirsten has spent time in our communities, hearing from local leaders, business owners and everyday families. She has been a leader in fighting to provide every child with the opportunities they need to succeed – from healthier school meals to better after-school programs. In these tough economic times, Kirsten is the right voice to help get our families back on track, and that’s why I am proud to endorse her for U.S. Senate.”

“I am honored to have the support of Comptroller John Liu and Assemblywoman Grace Meng,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Comptroller Liu has been a fighter for New York families his entire life, from affordable housing to access to health care he has worked tirelessly for our communities. As Comptroller, he has hit the ground running working hard to ensure that small businesses thrive. Assemblywoman Meng's commitment to change, excellence in government and providing quality education is an inspiration to all of us in elected office. I am proud to be working with Comptroller Liu, Assemblywoman Meng and all the leaders of New York City to rebuild our economy and move New York in the right direction again.”

Comptroller Liu and Assemblywoman Meng are the latest of dozens of New York City’s leaders standing with Kirsten Gillibrand. From elected officials to community leaders, to teachers, doctors, nurses, environmental leaders, pro-choice advocates and civil rights leaders, thousands of New Yorkers are supporting Kirsten’s campaign. 

Click here for the latest information about who has endorsed Kirsten’s campaign.

Rep. Weiner Statement on Passage of the Reconciliation Health Care Reform Bill by the House...


“Now We are Relying on the Senate” says Weiner

Washington, DC –Representative Anthony Weiner (D – Queens and Brooklyn), a member of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and Co-Chair of the Caucus on the Middle Class, released the following statement on the House passage of the reconciliation health care reform bill:

“Tonight’s vote is a true victory. But I’ll wait till the Senate acts before I join the victory dance in the end zone.”

“This game is only half-over.”

“We are now relying on the Senate to pass the reconciliation bill or something better, like a public option.”

“Unfortunately, the Senate has been less than reliable.”

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Statement from Rep. Towns on Passage of Historic Health Care Legislation...

Today I proudly voted for landmark health insurance reform legislation, H.R. 4872, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” This is truly an historic day. We fulfilled the sacred promise of health care for all Americans. We told 32 million Americans living without insurance that their fear of getting sick without coverage will soon be a thing of the past.

Now, Americans with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage. No longer will insurance be too expensive for individuals and their families to afford. And now, because of the bill's provisions to close the Medicare Part D "donut hole," senior citizens will no longer have to split their pills in half or go without needed medicines because their drugs are too costly.

Importantly, we did this without adding one penny to the federal deficit. In fact, this bill will reduce our federal debt by $143 billion over the next ten years, and hundreds of billions more in the years thereafter.

I look forward to President Obama signing this legislation into law.

New Monitoring At Newtown Creek by Kaitlyn Kilmetis - Queens Tribune

Queens Tribune

Last week, the Department of Environmental Protection declared it will open a new microbiology laboratory on the shores of infamously polluted Newtown Creek.

On March 9, DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway announced the creation of a new $2.3 million facility that will serve to improve operational efficiency and enhance monitoring of local waterways.

The 2,000 square-foot lab, located at Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn, will feature state-of-the-art equipment including modern incubators, sterilizers and purification systems.

Prior to the lab’s creation, water testing was performed at 14 different wastewater treatment plants; with the new lab, bacteriological analyses will be consolidated at one center so the staff will have the ability to analyze an increased number of samples on a daily basis and compare samples more efficiently.

“One of our core responsibilities is to make sure that wastewater is effectively treated, so that it has as little impact on our receiving waterways as possible,” Holloway said. “This new microbiology lab will substantially increase our monitoring and testing capacity, giving us the vital information we need to meet and exceed treatment standards, and continue the resurgence of New York City’s waterways that is central to Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC vision.”

According to Holloway, DEP will begin to take additional bacteriological samples within Jamaica Bay beginning this summer to assess water quality and also monitor several tributaries to evaluate ambient improvements resulting from combined sewer overflow retention investments.

Newtown Creek, a highly-contaminated urban waterway that traverses Queens and Brooklyn, is currently in a Superfund designation public comment review period.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mathews Flats Of Ridgewood - Are ‘Homes With Conscience’Civic Learns History Of Landmark Apts. by Robert Pozarycki - Times Newsweekly

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When Gustave Mathews began developing apartment houses in Ridgewood that would become landmarks nearly a century later, many working-class New Yorkers lived in rundown tenements devoid of light, proper ventilation and modern utilities.

Coming to a neighborhood that was then a farming village, Mathews set out to build homes “with a conscience” that were affordable, wellconstructed and instilled a sense of community among its owners, historian Debbie Van Cura told residents at last Thursday’s Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) meeting at I.S. 93.

Photo caption: Debbie Van Cura of the Greater Astoria Historical Society is shown reviewing the blueprints for apartment houses built in Ridgewood by Gustave Mathews during her presentation at the Mar. 4 meeting of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association at I.S. 93. (photo: Robert Pozarycki)

This photo taken in May 2008 shows a block of Mathews flats along Palmetto Street near Forest Avenue in Ridgewood. The apartment houses are in an area of the neighborhood recently declared a landmark district by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. (photo: Sam Goldman) Van Cura, a member of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, gave a presentation at the Mar. 4 session focused on the Mathews flats—multifamily brick apartment houses lining many Ridgewood streets which were also developed in other Queens neighborhoods during the first half of the 20th century—as well as the life of the German immigrant behind their creation.

Facing a growing population of immigrants from Europe, New York found itself in the middle of a housing crisis in the early 1900s, Van Cura stated. Most were forced to live in overcrowded and squalid conditions within tenements in Manhattan neighborhoods.

The moldings above the front doors of each apartment building developed by Gustave Mathews have different designs reflecting, in part, the life experiences of the builder. Shown at top is a molding of a home on Palmetto Street with a cherub; the photo at bottom depicts a molding with a full cornucopia atop a Mathews flat on Woodbine Street. (photos: Robert Pozarycki)

Many of these tenements had no windows, offering no way to provide natural light or fresh air into the buildings. Bathrooms were shared among tenants. The lack of ventilation also led to the spread of contagious diseases such as tuberculosis.

The impoverished conditions of tenement life were eventually exposed by muckrakers such as Jacob Riis, spurring a movement to improve the housing stock for all New Yorkers. Gustave Mathews then came into the picture, Van Cura said, with an idea of building new apartment houses with all the proper amenities and affordable to working-class residents.

“These were homes built for typical working-class people,” Van Cura told residents, noting that Mathews marketed the six-family homes to families who would live in one of the apartments and rent out the remaining units as supplemental income. This helped making owning a Mathews apartment house affordable to the point where the company boasted in its advertisements that none of their owners had fallen into foreclosure.

Mathews came to the United States in 1886 and originally lived on the Lower East Side. After spending many years working as a salesman, he eventually got into real estate and formed his own company along with his two brothers, William and Alfred.

The development of the Mathews flats permanently altered the look of Ridgewood and transformed it from a “sleepy little haven” on the Brooklyn/ Queens border into a vibrant urban community, Van Cura said. More than 25,000 new residents came into the neighborhood to live in the new buildings, which sold for about $6,500 a piece.

A new kind of home

The first apartment houses built by Mathews were constructed along Bleecker Street between St. Nicholas and Cypress avenues. Later on, he purchased part of the former Meyerrose farm in the vicinity of Woodward and Catalpa avenues near St. Matthias Church.

Unlike the tenements of Manhattan, the Mathews flats of Ridgewood were solidly constructed with materials and fixtures produced locally, the historian noted. The gold and brown exterior bricks were produced from an area of southern Staten Island known as Kreischerville (now called Charleston); the wrought iron railings and bannisters were made by companies based in Ridgewood which no longer exist.

Every room of every Mathews flat “railroad apartment” had access to fresh air and natural sunlight, as the buildings were designed like dumbbells with air shafts running through the center of each structure. The apartments were equipped with full kitchens and bathrooms.

Working with a number of architects, Van Cura noted, Mathews designed homes that were artistically pleasing as well as sound. Bricks and cornices in contrasting colors were placed on the exteriors in a variety of patterns depending on the location of the building.

“When you put those little touches into a home, people start to feel good about where they live,” Van Cura stated. “You get a sense of place and a feeling that you belong there.”

Impact on Queens

As the years went on, Mathews build his apartment houses in other communities around Queens including Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside. By 1911, Van Cura stated, he held about 25 percent of all of the building permits in Queens.

Mathews’ influence on development in New York was so great that the “Mathews model flat” was one of three New York architectural marvels put on display at the Panamerican Pacific Expo in San Francisco in 1915; the other two exhibits were Grand Central Station and the Williamsburg Bridge.

“These homes were so important that they were sent out to represent the best that New York had to offer for its time,” Van Cura said.

Though the structures were similar in nature to those built in Ridgewood, the historian noted that Mathews made changes to the exterior designs in each neighborhood. For example, apartment houses in Astoria had different brickwork patterns and iron front doors; the Mathews flats of Ridgewood featured French doors made of glass and wood.

Changing times also altered the way Mathews flats were constructed around Queens, Van Cura observed. After World War I broke out, Mathews stopped installing cornices atop each building since the material was needed for the war effort.

As the Great Depression hit, Mathews constructed one- to two-family homes in the vicinity of 79th Street and Grand Avenue in Elmhurst. These buildings, the historian pointed out, had an “art deco feel” with light brick patterns and a sleek design.

Despite the new construction, the tough economic times made it difficult for Mathews to sell these new homes. In response, he formed the Mathews Bond and Trust Company, which held all the bonds for the homes he constructed and made them affordable for residents to own.

Following the depression, Van Cura noted, Mathews sought to develop homes in upstate New York, but the plans proved unsuccessful. He lived in his final years in a Mathews home in Sunnyside before dying in 1958; his real estate company would be dissolved 11 years later.

A century after Mathews broke ground in Ridgewood, Queens is continuing to experience development, though Van Cura lamented that the spirit of construction that Gustave Mathews brought to the borough has been lost.

“What you see in development today is the idea of developers building high rises” and constructing affordable housing elsewhere to receive tax breaks, she noted. By contrast, the historian observed, Mathews offered buildings that provided a sense of pride to all who lived in the community.