Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Richmond Hill South Civic Association Meeting - Thursday March 25th...

NYPD Community Affairs Officer Brenda J. Bratcher with RHSCA President Margaret Finnerty...

The Richmond Hill South Civic Association met on Thursday March 26th...The guest speakers were NYPD 106 Pct Community Affairs Officer Brenda J. Bratcher and new City Councilmember Eric Ulrich...

New City Councilmember Eric Ulrich with the RHSCA Board of Directors...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Richmond Hill Historical Society Meeting Notice April 17th 7:30 pm - Featured Speaker James L. Coll on "The Police and the Constitution"...

Richmond Hill Historical Society Meeting -

When: April 17th, 2009 - 7:30 pm

Where: Leonard Center - 112th Street and 86th Avenue

Featured Speaker: James L. Coll - "The Police and the Constitution"

Councilmembers Crowley and Yassky Issue Guide to Federal Stimulus Package for Small Businesses...

Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley and Council Member David Yassky, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Small Business, today issued a guidebook that will help small business owners navigate the benefits made available to them in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. The stimulus package provides $288 billion in tax relief to individuals and companies, but it is difficult to understand the particular programs made available in the 1,000 page law.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the City’s economy, and during these difficult economic times, it is critical that small business owners understand all of the benefits and programs that are available to them through the federal stimulus package,” Council Member Yassky said. “While I do believe that we need to do more for our small businesses, President Obama’s American Recovery & Reinvestment Act lays the groundwork for economic recovery, and we hope that this guidebook will provide the roadmap to get us there.”

“Local businesses are a necessity for economic stability,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “As we face great challenges, we must revaluate how we spend our money. The best way to contribute to our economy and to a sustainable city is to buy locally grown, produced and manufactured goods. The federal government is creating public and private partnerships with the Stimulus dollars. It is essential that we make sure that entrepreneurs and local businesses of all sizes are aware of how to bring those dollars to our neighborhood’s main streets.”

Small businesses are the backbone of this economy – about 95% of businesses in NYC are considered small businesses - and throughout this City, in every borough, these businesses are feeling the drastic effects of the credit crunch. The guidebook will bring the stimulus incentives directly to the New York City small business owner – incentives ranging from tax breaks for purchasing new equipment and hiring veterans, to training vouchers for small business owners’ employees, and special incentives for installing energy efficient windows.

They were joined by representatives of the Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Bronx Chambers of Commerce on the steps of City Hall on Sunday, where the groups applauded the Council’s efforts in this area and pledged to distribute the guidebooks to their members.

To get copies of the guidebook, please contact Council Member Crowley’s office at (718) 366-3900.

Assemblymember Mark Weprin Announces New York’s Toy Recall Law in Effect...

Assemblymember Mark S. Weprin (D-Little Neck) announced that the Children’s Product Safety and Recall Effectiveness Act of 2008 took effect this month. Over the past couple of years, millions of toys have been voluntarily recalled because of manufacturing defects. In one instance Mattel recalled over 18 million toys worldwide, including more than 9 million products in the U.S. The new law will help curb the sale of recalled toys and other children’s products. It also requires retailers to post recall notices.

“The toys we buy for our children are supposed to be fun and educational, and we shouldn’t have to worry that toys could harm our children,” said Assemblymember Weprin. “It is unacceptable that in recent years so many toys have had to be recalled because of safety issues. This law will help ensure that dangerous toys are kept off shelves and out of the hands of children.”

A recent state study proves that we need more than voluntary compliance. In June 2007, the state’s Consumer Protection Board (CPB), along with other state agencies, surveyed thousands of businesses on the effectiveness of recall notifications. Many followed the safety commission’s directives, but there were also many who didn’t receive recall notices or if they did, posted recall signs out of sight for most consumers. In addition, many people receive gifts or buy used toys at secondhand shops, where it is difficult to monitor product safety.

This legislation requires manufacturers to provide better safety and recall information for consumers by establishing a labeling and notification system that helps consumers know if the crib or toy they bought is defective, so they can return or discard the product. It also imposes civil penalties for manufacturers or retailers who don’t follow recall directives, which should result in more businesses complying.

Rep. Ed Town's Statement on Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center Layoffs...

U.S. Rep. Edolphus Ed Towns (NY-10), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, today issued the following statement, regarding the layoffs of 240 employees at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center.

Rep. Towns’ statement:

“I am outraged by the announcement made today by Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center that it will lay off 240 employees. My heart goes out to those individuals and families that must now go out and find work, but these layoffs do not just affect those individuals who lost their jobs today. Many are concerned that these layoffs will also have negative impacts on the provision of healthcare services throughout Brooklyn. Patients, employees, and residents depend on Brookdale, and are very concerned with the impact that these layoffs will have on their ability to access, quality healthcare services. I am also very concerned because the decision appears sudden – and the plan for the hospital’s future unclear.

Brookdale Hospital’s decision to reduce its workforce may be partly a result of increased costs and other economic factors, but the hospital’s struggles are due, in part, to unfocused leadership. The hospital and community deserve better and need someone who will be proactive and prepared for the challenges that cripple an institution’s foundation. Without the concentrated focus, strategic visioning and proactive planning needed to overcome challenges that many hospitals face; Brookdale is made even more vulnerable and prey to the current economic downturn.

Of dire concern to many residents is the fact that they rely on Brookdale and its emergency care services – whether it’s for a heart attack, car wreck, or gun shot wound; families seek critical services everyday. In life or death situations, people should not have to worry about if they will be seen in a timely fashion, where they should turn for help, and whether or not they will receive quality service. These are the questions asked of me today by many residents calling my office.

Today, we are reminded just how fragile and fragmented our health care system is, but I assert to my constituents that I am here with you, demanding that you do not receive the short end of the stick and that you continue to have access to the quality health services you and your families deserve.”

Earth Day Restoration Project at Plum Beach, Jamaica Bay - April 18th from 10am-3pm...

Join us on Saturday, April 18th from 10am-3pm for a marsh/beach/dune cleanup and planting at Plum Beach, Jamaica Bay. Volunteers needed to help remove floatable debris and plant native coastal plants ( beach plum, red cedar, pitch pine, American beachgrass ) at this National Park Service site.

Meet 10am at the parking lot just off the eastbound lane of the Belt Parkway between Knapp St. ( exit 9) and Flatbush Avenue ( exit 11 ). Bring lunch and old clothes, shoes, etc. We will provide water, bags, gloves, tools, plants and free investment advice.

This is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and the American Littoral Society, NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection, NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Bloomberg Company, NYC Audubon Society, NYC Sierra Club, Sebago Canoe & Kayak Club, Jamaica Bay EcoWatchers, as well as several school and community groups (TBA).

This project funded in part by grants from the NOAA-RAE Partnership and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation...

For more information and registration

Call: (718) 318-9344

E-mail: driepe@nyc.rr.com

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and Parents of Victim Introduce Legislation to Make NYC Safer...

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, today introduced legislation to raise the penalty for anybody who leaves their vehicle running and unattended. The bill came in response to a tragic hit and run by a drunken thief who stole an idling car and fatally struck Alex Paul of Brooklyn and Robert Ogle in Middle Village, Queens, early in February. Another similar tragedy occurred weeks before in Chinatown when an unoccupied van was left in reverse and mounted a sidewalk, ramming into a group of preschool students, killing two of the children and injuring at least eleven other people.

“A few weeks ago, a seemingly avoidable tragedy struck my district,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “Sadly, the death of the two young men, Robert Ogle and Alex Paul, may have been avoided if a man had not left his car running while shopping in a store. The current fine for leaving your car ignition on and unattended is five dollars. With this new legislation that I am proposing, the fine will be raised to two-hundred and fifty dollars to deter anyone from being careless with their vehicles. Leaving your car running and unattended seems like a minor, careless mistake but all New Yorkers must understand that it is irresponsible, dangerous and potentially deadly.”

Council Member Crowley was joined by Council Member John Liu, Chair of the Transportation Committee, as well as Mei and Brendan Ogle, in honor of their late son Robert Ogle, on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday before the bill’s introduction. Robert Ogle, 16, of Middle Village, was a junior at the elite Brooklyn Technical School, where he was a football player and an aspiring journalist. The other victim, Alex Paul, 20, of Cypress Hill, Brooklyn, had met Robert on Saturday night and the two were part of a group having fun around the neighborhood.

In partnership with the new law, Council Member Crowley is working with Council Member John Liu to implement an awareness campaign to prevent people from leaving their cars running while unattended.

PHOTO CREDIT:William Alatriste

Weiner: Use Stimulus Funds to Help Fix Queens and Brooklyn Elevators...

Representative Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn and Queens) called on the New York City Housing Authority to allocate part of the $600 million in stimulus funding to fix elevators in Pomonok and Sheepshead-Nostrand Housing.

Rep. Weiner worked to include $1 billion infusion for public housing in the House economic stimulus bill. The final stimulus packaged signed by the President provides approximately $600 million for New York City’s public housing agency to repair elevators and upkeep the aging buildings.

Pomonok Housing in Queens is home to more than 4,300 New Yorkers, including many senior citizens. With 35 buildings and 54 residential elevators, it is the City’s third largest Housing Authority development. The Sheepshead Bay Housing in Brooklyn has 18, six-story buildings with more than 2,700 residents.

Full text of the letter follows...

Mr. Douglas Apple
General Manager
New York City Housing Authority
250 Broadway
New York, NY 10007-2516

Dear Mr. Apple:

I have been contacted by several concerned constituents and community leaders regarding Pomonok and Sheeepshead-Nostrand Housing. Members of these two communities have longstanding concerns about the lack of resources made available to their buildings by the Housing Authority.

The community appreciates the fact that the Housing Authority has been trying to accomplish more with less in this difficult economic climate. It is m hope that the $600 million that the New York City delegation in Congress recently delivered to the Housing Authority will allow the Housing Authority to provide the necessary resources for Pomonok and Sheepshead-Nostrand Housing to have clean grounds, working elevators, and general upkeep befitting housing developments in New York City.

I look forward to continue working together with the Housing Authority and our Queens and Brooklyn communities.


Member of Congress

Career Day at PS 161 in Richmond Hill...Lynn Nunes Speaks to Students...

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. This premise was the motivating factor behind the coordination, by Chairperson JoAnne Franco, of the Career Day event at PS 161 in Richmond Hill. Many people selflessly took time away from their jobs and donated their time to the event. A community activist and local business owner, Lynn Nunes who took part in the event, is eager to return again next year.

Tomorrow belongs to those that prepare for it today, and we must make every effort to prepare our children”, said Nunes, “An investment in children is the wisest investment we can make, if we hope to solve the world's major problems, we must provide richer learning opportunities for the world's children. An educated and creative population is, without a doubt, the best path to global health, wealth, and peace.”

Youth Service Providers in Queens Hold Press Conference on the Devastating Impact of Budget Cuts...


In support of Richmond Hill Public Library, NY Alliance for Healthcare Reform (AHR) speaks against the devastating proposed budget cuts to essential services in communities across the state. Rafael Gomez Luna and Jocelyn Bueno, outreach committee members of AHR stood in solidarity with a contingency of community-based organizations. The message sent was: "Stop Draconian cuts that will hurt the future of our youth with Fair Share Tax Reform"

Black, Latino, Filipino, and South Asian immigrant youth service providers throughout Queens gathered today at the site of the Queens Library in Richmond Hill to speak out against the massive cuts on youth services. The Queens Library is a place many youth in Queens turn to for homework help, after-school programs, yet the Queens Library stands to face over 18% in state budget cuts that will be augmented by city budget cuts. This will cut the number of hours the Library is open as well as the number of free programs to youth it can provide. Groups spoke about how the youth service cuts will cut off windows of opportunity in their communities.

The Queens Library is not just a place to keep books but a full-service community center,” said Children’s Librarian Laura Bultman from the Corona Branch. “We provide homework help to kids whose parents don’t speak English. The library is a quiet place for these kids to work if they don’t have a place to do schoolwork at home.”

Chief External Affairs Officer of the Library, James Van Bramer sent a clear message to elected officials in the Capitol: “The Queens Library serves more children in Queens County than any other organization. We implore our friends in Albany to find a more equitable way to avoid these drastic service cuts.”

The Executive Directors of South Asian Youth Action (SAYA) and Filipino-American Human Services, Inc. (FAHSI) were joined by Peter Fontanes of the League of Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) in describing how cuts in library and after-school services will affect their communities.

Fontanes warned of consequences from the Governor’s proposed cuts: “The after-school programs provided by this library open up the minds and spirits of our people. Children and immigrant families are being told that the doors of opportunity will be shut on them. I ask the Mayor and Governor not to budget out families. If our kids don’t have a library and community center to go to, they will end up on the street.”

Community member Buddha Allah had the last word: “Youth service cuts are of concern to me as a grandfather. There is an alternative. The cuts can be avoided by fairly taxing those 3 percent of New Yorkers making more than $250,000 annually. New York State already has a form of progressive taxation because a couple making $30,000 doesn’t pay income taxes. Passing Fair Share Tax Reform will be in keeping with the progressive tax philosophy we already have in New York.”


Friday, March 27, 2009

Queens State Senator Arraigned by Perry Chiarmonte - New York Post

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Kissing and making up isn't going to make Hiram Monseratte's troubles go away.

Both the shameless state senator and the gal pal whose face he is accused of slashing with a broken glass begged a judge to lift an order of protection today because they are in love and the charges are all a mistake.

A judge had ruled that Monseratte keep away from Carla Giraldo after he allegedly attacked her on Dec. 19 at his Jackson Heights leaving her with a gash over her eye that required 25 stitches.

But that didn't stop Giraldo from planting a wet one on Monseratte's cheek as he walked into Queens Supreme Court to be arraigned this afternoon.

Monseratte pleaded not guilty and was allowed to remain free on $5,000 bail. But during the hearing - which lasted over an hour - both Monseratte and Giraldo's lawyers tried to ask the judge to lift the order of protection.

But after Justice William Erlbaum was shown surveillance footage in his chambers from Monseratte's apartment building that showed him chasing a bleeding Giraldo through the hall following the incident, the requests were denied.

While Giraldo, 30, initially told cops Monseratte attacked her after finding another man's business card in her purse, she has since changed her tune and claimed it was all a mistake.

"It was an accident. I don't need an order of protection. It's unnecessary. This is an injustice. I love him," she said, flanked by supporters outside court following the hearing.

Monserrate also said he had rejected a plea bargain agreement because he is "innocent."

"From the very beginning, I have said it was an accident. Carla has said that this was an accident. What occurred on Dec. 19 is an accident. The district attorney's office, in fact, has had discussions with me about a plea -- a non-felony plea that had attached to it no jail time. I said unequivocally no to that because I am innocent."

Monseratte, 41, is due back in court on June 26.

One-Third of U.S. Bird Species Endangered, Survey Finds by Cornelia Dean - NYTimes.com

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Habitat destruction, pollution and other problems have left nearly a third of the nation’s 800 bird species endangered, threatened or in serious decline, according to a study issued on Thursday.

Described as the most comprehensive survey of American bird life, the report, "The U.S. State of the Birds," analyzed changes in the bird population over the last 40 years. “This report should be a call to action,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at a news conference in Washington.

Citing surveys by government agencies, conservation organizations and citizen volunteers, the report said that the population of grassland birds had declined by 40 percent and birds in arid lands by 30 percent. It estimated that 39 percent of bird species that depend on American coastal waters were in decline.

Many forest birds are threatened by urban sprawl, logging, wildfires and “a barrage of exotic forest pests and disease,” the study said.

In Hawaii, the home of more than a third of American bird species, the situation is particularly grim, the report said. Most of that state’s bird species are in danger.

Climate change will make things worse, and work is urgently needed to prevent “a global tragedy” of bird loss, the report added.

But there was also an upbeat side to the news conference. The study found that herons, egrets, ducks and other birds that benefit from wetlands conservation were rebounding. Findings like this “show us that conservation can really work,” Mr. Salazar said.

Other speakers agreed. The report’s gloomy assessment makes it “a key document,” said John Hoskins of the United States North American Bird Conservation Initiative, an umbrella group for public and private efforts. But its data also show that “when agencies, organizations and individual citizens work together to conserve precious resources, some really good things happen,” Mr. Hoskins said.

The report draws on data collected by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Geological Survey, organizations like the American Bird Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and volunteer participants in the Christmas Bird Count of the National Audubon Society.

John Fitzpatrick, the director of the Cornell laboratory, which also oversees citizen bird-counting, said that a wealth of data gathered in such volunteer efforts had helped scientists make major strides in assessing the health of bird populations and in drawing more general conclusions about the environment.

Beyond taking part in counting efforts, the report urged ordinary citizens to assist conservation by drinking shade-grown coffee (coffee-growing in the shade helps preserve the winter habitat of species like warblers), donating unused binoculars for distribution to biologists in the tropics, reducing pesticide use, landscaping with native plants and keeping pet cats indoors.

“Education is urgently needed to make the public aware of the toll of pet cats,” Darin Schroeder of the American Bird Conservancy said at the news conference.

Call Boro New Boomtown - Population Grew by Nearly 3% Since 2000, Census Data Shows by Brendan Brosh - NY Daily News

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AMERICA'S MOST diverse county is booming in the new millennium.

Queens' population increased about 2.9% between 2000 and July 2008 - meaning 63,628 more people now call the borough home, according to figures released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That far outpaces the growth projected by the city, which estimated in 2006 that Queens would grow by 50,295 people by the end of the decade.

New Yorkers who may have considered moving to Sunbelt locales such as Florida, Nevada, California and Arizona chose to stay because those areas have borne the brunt of the recession, the Census report shows.

"We're seeing something remarkable in Queens - more immigrants are coming in than domestic migrants are leaving," said Joseph Salvo of the City Planning Department. "Even though we have foreclosures and other problems, it's not as bad as in other parts of the country."

The city as a whole has 355,432 more people than it did in April 2000, the report states.

Some of the city's projections are still on pace. The Bronx is slated to grow by 68,544 people by 2010.

Some locals hope the city will use the numbers to increase infrastructure funding.

"Queens is bursting at the seams - and a lot of that has to do with infrastructural issues," said Paul Graziano, president of the Historic Districts Council and an urban planning consultant.

"It's always been 'build first, ask questions later' in New York City," he said.

The Census report notes Queens grew by some 15,000 people between July 2007 and July 2008. Much of the growth was in the Rockaways, where hundreds of homes were built.

"In the last four years, our population went up at least 10,000 people because of all the building," said Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14.

The peninsula is slated for even more construction.

"In a few years, Rockaway could have another 25,000 to 35,000 people," Gaska said.

Despite the growth, Queens recently lost two hospitals - Mary Immaculate in Jamaica and St. John's Queens in Elmhurst - which concerns local civic groups.

"Between Jamaica Bay and the Grand Central Parkway, we are extremely underserved in the number of hospitals," said Corey Bearak, head of the Queens Civic Congress, an umbrella organization for community groups.

"It's clear that we need to be focused and prioritized on infrastructure."

Plans for Reservoir Debated by Anna Gustafson - YourNabe.com

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Borough residents got to voice their ideas for plans for the Ridgewood Reservoir at a heavily attended, and sometimes contentious, meeting at Oak Ridge in Glendale Monday night.

Photo caption: Eric Mattes of Mark Morrison Associates discusses plans for the Ridgewood Reservoir Monday night. Photo by Anna Gustafson

More than 80 Queens and Brooklyn residents jammed into a room in Oak Ridge to advocate for everything from keeping the reservoir’s three basins natural to adding baseball diamonds — a move Community Board 5 members have slammed.

“We want to leave the three basins with no recreational activity,” said Tom Dowd, who sits on the Parks Committee of CB 5.

Community board members approved 26−0 a resolution in May that calls for the city to “preserve all ecosystems within all three chambers of the Ridgewood Reservoir.”

Monday’s event was the first in a series of meetings sponsored by the city Parks Department to discuss the reservoir, a 55−acre site located on the Queens⁄Brooklyn border. The reservoir is part of Highland Park, one of eight lark parks being redesigned through PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiative to create more open space for city residents.

Alongside Parks Department officials, representatives from landscape architects Mark K. Morrison Associates spoke to community members about plans for the reservoir.

Morrison Associates has signed a $1 million contract with the city to craft plans for the first phase of the reservoir project, which includes building fences, lighting, steps and benches along the perimeter of the park to increase public safety.

The plans should take about four months to design, after which they would go before the community board, said Parks Department employee Kevin Quinn.

Morrison Associates will also issue three conceptual plans for the interior of the reservoir. One plan must be entirely passive, meaning it could not include anything like sports fields, another will be active and the third will be a compromise between passive and active use, Parks Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said.

While many of the park’s users are from Brooklyn Community Board 5, much of the reservoir proper is located in Queens Community Board 5, Lewandowski said. Many of the Brooklyn residents at the meeting argued for more active use of the reservoir, while many Queens residents advocated for preservation.

“We’d like to see an underserved community get athletic facilities for their youth,” said Larry Rickert, a leader of East Brooklyn Congregations, a group that represents 31 community organizations, including churches, schools and neighborhood associations. “One basin could be set aside for human use and the others just for nature.”

Ridgewood resident Lou Widerka disagreed and said the reservoir is “not the right place to put ball fields.”

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village) said she believes plans can be made that suit a wide range of desires.

“We want to work to make sure we can preserve the reservoir and at the same time make the community happy,” Crowley said.

The three basins comprising the reservoir were last used during the drought of 1965 and were drained in 1989. Since then, a forest has taken root in the area.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

Rep Nydia Velazquez and Assemblymember Darryl Towns Endorse Councilmember John Liu for Comptroller...

March 7th Press Conference on the steps of City Hall - Us Rep Nydia Velazquez and NYS Assemblymember Darryl Towns endorse Councilmember John Liu for NYC Comptroller...

Video by Azi Paybarah....

Heres the related article in NY Politiker...Liu Runs. For Comptroller

The crowd was large. The signs – blue and green with three stars – were waved. And the message from the candidate, John Liu, was clear.

"This is an amazing day, and something I’ve prepared for for a long time," he said at his campaign kick-off yesterday on the steps of City Hall. "This is a day that has occurred in a natural sequence. And it is a job that I truly want."

Liu’s entrance to the race Sunday comes months after his opponents have already been campaigning for the job, and after he had declared an interest in seeking the public advocate job. The current field of comptroller candidates includes council members Melinda Katz, who has been campaigning for the job and announcing union endorsements since 2007, David Yassky, whose campaign has already gone through its first staff overhaul and David Weprin, who has been positioning himself for this race since becoming chair the Council’s Finance Committee in 2002. (Katz and Weprin, like Liu, are from Queens.)

But at the rally Sunday, Liu said that his work at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and later in the City Council, had all been leading up to this moment.

"I know that I can do it because of my background. I know numbers, but we also have to know and realize that it’s not just about numbers. It’s about the bigger picture, the broader package that we in government have to deliver," he said.

Also on display was the fact that unlike his opponents, Liu is an immigrant--from Taiwan--and has the support of a number of minority elected officials, including Assemblyman Darryl Towns and Representative Nydia Velazquez.

Indicators that Liu’s entrance to the race may not have been that long in the making: his campaign web site is under construction, and has not previously made reference to the comptroller office. And (OK, this is very circumstantial evidence) the signs at Sunday’s rally were hand-made.

Afterward, Towns told me that Liu isn’t in fact late to the contest, saying that most people are only figuring out now what exactly they’re doing in municipal races. Towns said part of the timing had to do with the plans of Adolfo Carrion, the Bronx borough president who had been running for comptroller before getting a job in the Obama administration.

Towns also downplayed the notion that Liu would be hurt by being the third City Council member from Queens running for comptroller this year.

"In New York City politics, geography is just one of the factors," he said.

New York Senate Leader Defends Action on Senator in Assault Case by Jeremy W. Peters - NYTimes.com

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Facing mounting criticism, Malcolm A. Smith, the State Senate majority leader, on Tuesday defended his handling of Hiram Monserrate, the Queens senator charged with assaulting his companion, saying that everyone deserves the presumption of innocence.

“We will let the court system process take its due course,” Mr. Smith said. “And when that action finalizes then we will take more action if we have to.”

Mr. Smith said that Mr. Monserrate’s decision to step down temporarily as chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, and give up the post’s $12,500 annual stipend, was the proper action to take while he awaits trial.

Mr. Smith walked away when asked by a reporter at the Capitol whether his holding a fund-raiser for Mr. Monserrate last week was appropriate. Mr. Smith held a cocktail reception for Mr. Monserrate at an Albany hotel; contributors paid up to $1,500 for a ticket.

Republicans and some women’s groups have criticized the lack of more serious censure of Mr. Monserrate, who is accused of slashing his companion in the face with a drinking glass.

His continued presence in the Legislature “is an affront to all the women who work there,” said Marcia Pappas, president of the National Organization for Women’s New York chapter.

Mr. Monserrate was indicted on Monday on three felony assault counts in a six-count indictment handed up by a Queens grand jury. If he is convicted of a felony, he would be expelled from the Senate.

The question of how to deal with Mr. Monserrate is a touchy one for Democratic leaders, who control the chamber, 32 to 30. Because 32 votes are required to pass legislation in the Senate or elect a majority leader, the departure of just one senator would leave Democrats without a functioning majority.

The party’s response to Mr. Monserrate has been generally supportive since he was arrested in December, and so far no Democrats have called for him to step down, temporarily or permanently.

Senate Democrats met behind closed doors on Monday and agreed privately that they would not discuss Mr. Monserrate’s case publicly.

The chairwoman of a Senate task force on domestic violence, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, would not comment on Mr. Monserrate’s treatment. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.

Told of the backlash from some women’s rights groups, Ms. Hassell-Thompson said, “ I’m sorry that’s their opinion, but they haven’t expressed that to me.”

Other Democrats said they stood behind Mr. Monserrate, who has said the incident with his companion was an accident.

“We’re supportive of our colleague, who has maintained his innocence,” said Senator Kevin S. Parker of Brooklyn. “It’s an ongoing legal matter, and the courts will resolve it, and we’ll move on from there.”

Davidson Goldin, a public relations consultant Mr. Monserrate has retained, issued a statement saying that the Mr. Monserrate’s colleagues’ support was not surprising. “Senator Monserrate and his girlfriend have both said all along that the incident was an accident. So it’s no surprise that his colleagues believe the two people who were there when the accident occurred.”

The case has emboldened Republicans, who have stepped up their criticism that Mr. Smith is a weak and ineffective leader.

“When you let people like Senator Monserrate stay in office,” said Senator Martin Golden, a Republican from Brooklyn, “and you do fund-raisers for them, and you pat them on the back and you say, ‘Go for it!’ you know, there’s a disgrace, a disgust, in people across this state.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ninety Years of Birdwatchers' Notes Going Online by Azadeh Ansari - CNN.com

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"Citizen scientists" jot notes about birds, like this broad-tailed hummingbird, to add to a national database.

More than 100 years ago, J.A. Loring had his eyes on the California sky and his hand on a pen.

His hand-scribbled notes, along with those of 3,000 other "citizen scientists," can be found lining the drawers of green filing cabinets in the basement of a U.S. Geological Survey building in Laurel, Maryland.

These note cards -- 6 million of them, spanning almost a century -- contain a trove of invaluable information that could help unravel the effects of climate change on bird behavior.

"This is the longest and most comprehensive legacy data set on bird migration that we know to exist," said Jessica Zelt, who coordinates the North American Bird Phenology Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

The cards include personal observations made by the birders. Their personal information, along with recorded bird data about the abundance, arrival, departure and location of certain species, is all found in these historic records.

Some of the 2-by-5-inch cards date back to the 1880s, when educator Wells W. Cooke founded the North American Bird Phenology Program (BPP), which encouraged amateur ornithologists to record bird sightings around the United States and Canada.

Now, for the first time ever, the paper files are being scanned, transcribed and converted into a digital database for online access.

"These cards, once transcribed, will provide over 90 years of data -- an unprecedented amount of information describing bird distributions, migration time and migration pathways, and how they are changing," Zelt said.

The collection contains data on about 900 bird species, some of which -- the Guadalupe storm-petrel, Labrador duck, Guadalupe caracara, great auk, Carolina parakeet and passenger pigeon -- have gone extinct.

Maintaining these records since the BPP program ended in 1970 has not been easy.

"The cards have been filed and put away and held everywhere from attics to basements to storage facilities," Zelt said. "A lot of times, they were almost thrown out."

They survived almost four decades after the program ended, thanks to the perseverance of the program's last coordinator, Chan Robbins, a retired wildlife biologist.

"Each time they would get moved and bumped around, boy, I could remember wrapping those things and wrapping string around each little batch so they would not get unsorted," Robbins said.

The BPP program, which is operating on a minimal budget, now has more than 800 online volunteers, ranging from ornithologists to amateur bird watchers to ordinary citizens looking to translate a piece of science history. They have already scanned 200,000 cards and transcribed more than 17,000.

"Anyone can do it. There is a 15-minute training video you can watch after you sign up for the program online," Zelt said. "You don't have to have a background in ornithology, you just have to have an interest."

Bird enthusiast and star volunteer Stella Walsh, a 62-year-old retiree, pecks away at her keyboard for about four hours each day. She has already transcribed more than 2,000 entries from her apartment in Yarmouth, Maine.

"It's a lot more fun fondling feathers, but, the whole point is to learn about the data and be able to do something with it that is going to have an impact," Walsh said.

Climate change already has affected bird populations. Birds use temperature as a cue for many life-cycle decisions. They are also at the mercy of weather patterns that can affect biological processes such as when and where they migrate, and when they breed.

"Warmer temperatures will lead to earlier springs, and local plants and insects will come out earlier. However, if bird arrival dates remain the same, then they are potentially at a disadvantage, as the primary food [insects] for their young may no longer be at its peak," said Sam Droege, an ornithologist at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

Habitat loss, pollution, climate change and competition from invasive species have all reduced North American bird populations.

A recent survey, "The U.S. State of Birds," conducted by government agencies, conservation organizations and citizen volunteers, found that nearly a third of the nation's 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in serious decline.

"You cannot return to the past and collect data on the status of plants and animals," Droege said. "So this data set represents one of the few windows the world has into how a group of animals react to climate change."

Because of the work of thousands of people like J.A. Loring, today's volunteers and scientists can view pieces of ornithological history and identify long-term trends while working toward solutions that could help ensure the birds' survival.

"A single bird seen on a large open flat about half a mile west of town," Loring scribbled on June 5, 1897, upon seeing a northern spotted owl in Donner Summit, California.

"It was very tame and flew from roadside to fence post where it watched me for some time," he wrote.

Amid a Lingering Recession, Small Businesses Face New Challenges - NYTimes.com

Read original...

Wayne Sosin, the president of Worksman Cycels in Ozone Park, Queens, is one of the small business owners The New York Times has been tracking during the recession. Rob Bennett for The New York Times

A butcher and a restaurant owner receive breaks on their rent as their sales continue to dwindle. A bicycle maker shifts to building more food vending carts to sell to people who have lost their jobs. To combat a post-holiday drop in bookings, a tour operator hires a manager of online marketing.

For a group of small businesses The New York Times has been tracking since October, the persistent recession keeps presenting new challenges. But on the brink of spring, a more hopeful tone was repeatedly struck in recent interviews conducted by Patrick McGeehan, Brent McDonald and Erik Olsen. (One of the businesses, a Saab auto dealer in Rochelle Park, N.J., declined to participate this month.)

Wayne Sosin

Wayne Sosin, 55, the president of Worksman Cycles in Ozone Park, Queens, is trying to shift his company’s product line away from the heavy-duty tricycles it sells to automakers and other big industrial companies. With a trimmed-down staff, Worksman is making more food vending carts for entrepreneurs and delivery bicycles for couriers and restaurants.

We’ve seen a big decline in demand for our product beginning in October, coming off a phenomenal 2008. It all came to a sort of disappointing stop as the economy crashed, because a lot of our customers are the big industrial customers like Chrysler and Ford and G.M. So, certainly, they’re not buying any industrial tricycles from us in this market, nor are their suppliers.

We haven’t gotten the final numbers for February, but I’d say January and February were down about 30 percent in our industrial cycle sales, while the rest of our business is pretty much holding its own. Definitely back in November-December, we had to make adjustments in our employment level and the hours that we work. So it’s been hard. We don’t like to see people working less hours. There’s been no overtime, and there’s been some people laid off.

We’ve seen relatively flat sales in our recreational adult trikes and recreational bicycles. And our food vending cart business has actually seen strong demand. You can get into a business that is relatively inexpensive to start — as little as $3,000 for a cart.

Everybody can picture, back in the Depression, Apple Annie standing on the street and selling her apples. In a way, that might be an extension of what’s happening today. The food vending cart offers someone the opportunity to go out and be entrepreneurial and make a living. So for us, the hot-dog cart might become for us the symbol of this current recession.

The new Yankee Stadium will be outfitted with a lot of our hot-dog carts. It’s great to get an order like that at this time. And certainly, it came at a good time for us. The initial order was for a dozen hot-dog carts, but we think there’s going to be more to follow.

If anyone was asking me what numbers we’re expecting, it would not be a reasonable forecast. I can’t really know at this point. I know we’re going to be down. If we’re not down, it would be a miracle. It’s just a matter of are we going to be down 10 percent or 30 percent.

Read complete article...

Senator Klein on CNN - Protecting Renters

Senator Jeff Klein appeared on CNN - March 24, 2009...

Landlords defaulting on mortgages - renters being evicted even though they're paying the rent on time - Senator Klein discusses the crisis and offers a solution to protect renters..

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

South Queens Democratic Club Meeting Notice - Carosello's Restaurant - March 25th - 7:30 pm....

South Queens Democratic Club Meeting

March 25th - 7:30 pm

Carosello's Restaurant - Crossbay Boulevard & 163rd Avenue Howard Beach, NY

THE PEREZ NOTES - Interview with Lois Marbach on March 25th at 6 pm...

On Wednesday, March 25th at 6PM, Roberto Perez will be interviewing Political Consultant Lois Marbach.

To listen to the interview go to:


THE PEREZ NOTES airs every Wednesday from 6-8PM so spread the news and tell a friend. A bio is below for those of you who want to know more about Lois.

LOIS MARBACH has been an active community organizer in Queens County since the early 1970's. She was a co-founder and co-coordinator of a women's center in Flushing from 1975 to 1979. From 1976 to 1983, Lois was a Consciousness-Raising Coordinator for the National Organization for Women, Queens Chapter. In 1980 she was NOW's Legislative Coordinator. In 1986 Lois was a candidate for Queens Borough President in the Democratic Primary, receiving over 25,000 votes, 38%. of the vote.

Lois was the Queens coordinator of volunteers for the presidential campaign of Mondale-Ferraro. Starting with the mayoral campaign of Carol Bellamy, Lois has been a consultant, and the Queens coordinator, for the Primary election campaigns for: Carol Bellamy, David Dinkins, Liz Holtzman, Karen Burstein. In Mark Green's race for Public Advocate, she was a consultant for both the Primary and General elections.

Lois is a member of the following: National Association of Political Consultants, NOW, National Association of Female Executives, NAACP Flushing branch, ACLU, NYPIRG and the Board of Directors of the Queens Women's Network, NYS NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League), Treasurer of the Queens Womens-Political Caucus, Chairperson of The Queens Coalition for Political Alternatives, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Queens Democratic Club, member of CB#ll, founder of the Oakland Gardens/Terrace Community Council, past Vice-Chairperson of NYS New Democratic Coalition, past Chairperson of Queens NDC, working group member of the Majority Coalition for a New New York, a founding member of Queens Women for Equality and founder of the Democratic Alliance. Mayor David Dinkins appointed Lois a Trustee to the Queens Library Board and a member of the NYC Commission on the Status of Women.

In November 1987, Lois was honored by the Korean-American Small Business Service Center of New York, Inc. for her work with new immigrants and her support of the small business community. She was the 1986 recipient of the Aaron Weiss Humanitarian Award for working with and bringing together diverse groups of people. In the spring of 1990 the National Women's Political Caucus honored her for her strong sense of fairness for all people and in particular her commitment to the goals of the women's movement. In December 1991 Lois was the recipient of a Community Leadership Award from the Flushing NAACP. In February of 1997 Lois was honored by the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, at their annual dinner, for championing equal rights for Lesbians and Gays. She is the subject of biographical record in several prominent publications, including The Marauis Who's Who of American Women; 2,000 Notable American Women, published by the American Biographical Institute; and in The Fourteenth Edition of Community Leaders Of America, also published by the ABI.

She has been a guest lecturer, at many classes and organizations on various government concerns. She has organized major city-wide conferences, such as the Spring 1993 Conference On Crime And The Elderly, which was co-sponsored by the NYC Department For The Aging and the NYC Police Department.

She is the owner of Promotional Strategies, through which she does political consulting, establishes direct mail and target marketing strategies, creates promotional videos, incentives and award campaigns and organizes special events. Promotional Strategies also develops and maintains computer mailing lists and prime voter lists.

Monday, March 23, 2009

City Council Candidate Lynn Nunes at the Indo Carribean New Year Celebration of Holi...

Last Sunday marked the first Sunday after the first full moon of the Hindu calendar. The Hindu festival of Holi is the festival of color, welcoming of the spring, and the triumph of good over evil. Richmond Hill is the host to this West Indian tradition, which happens to be the largest of its kind in all of North America. The heavily Guyanese and Trinidadian community dance in celebration as they welcome their new year.

Community Activist and City Council front runner in District 28 in Queens, Lynn Nunes, has been a long time supporter of the parade. Walking along side the Grand Marshalls this year, Mr. Nunes gladly held up the Happy Holi banner. “Thanks to the HPFC and the great people in our community, this tradition has been upheld for twenty years”, said Nunes, “the spirits are high as family and friends paint each other with dye and powder; it is a truly memorable experience”.

Ridgewood Democratic Club - Meeting Notice - Friday, March 27, 2009 - 7:45 pm

Ridgewood Democratic Club Inc.
60-70 Putnam Avenue
Ridgewood, New York 11385
(718) 821-9807
NYS Assembly Member Catherine Nolan
Democratic District Leaders 37 AD, Part B - Catherine Nolan & Tom Bornemann

~~~ Meeting Notice ~~~

Regular Membership Meeting
Friday, March 27, 2009 - 7:45 pm

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chairman Towns Demands Information and Records from Merrill Lynch and Bank of America on Timing of Decision to Award Executive Bonuses


U.S. Representative Edolphus “Ed” Towns (D-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, today sent letters to Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis and Mr. Raymond Calamaro of Hogan & Hartson, outside counsel to Merrill Lynch, demanding information and records on their 2008 bonus decisions. The Committee is investigating whether there was in fact a cover up Merrill Lynch bonus decisions and whether the Committee was intentionally misled.

In the letters, Chairman Towns is requesting documents and other information to determine whether Merrill Lynch or its outside lawyers covered up the fact that Merrill’s compensation committee made their bonus decisions early in November 2008. Central to the letters is whether Merrill Lynch misled the Committee on November 24, 2008, when a Merrill Lynch lawyer told the Committee that bonus decisions for 2008 had not yet been made. The Committee later obtained evidence indicating that bonus decisions were in fact made two weeks earlier. The Committee will also be conducting formal interviews of witnesses involved in the alleged bonus cover-up, including Mr. Calamaro of Hogan & Hartson, and executives from Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.

Last week, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo alleged that Merrill Lynch provided misleading information to Congress regarding bonuses for its top executives. The filings raise the possibility that Merrill Lynch executives may have obstructed the Committee’s investigation into executive compensation practices and the awarding of bonuses at the company. Chairman Towns directed Committee investigators to begin a detailed investigation of this allegation and get to the bottom of the matter.

“We will not hesitate to exercise every means at our disposal to protect the integrity of the Congressional investigation process and to bring real transparency to the use of TARP funds. Under my direction, the Committee will get to the bottom of this matter and determine whether or not there was an obstruction of this Committee’s investigation,” Chairman Towns said.

The Committee is currently pursuing an ongoing investigation into allegations that billions of dollars of TARP funds invested in nine major banks may have been used to pay executive bonuses and other compensation. Committee attorneys are also reviewing the responses of other major financial institutions to the Committee’s October 2008 letters regarding executive compensation and the use of TARP funds.

Dave Kerpen Blasts Queens BP For Spending Taxpayer Money on Regal Perks...

Kerpen Calls On Marshall To Sell Her $85,436 Worth of Office Chairs and Give Money To Families Losing Their Homes and Jobs

Dave Kerpen almost fell out of his chair reading the shocking exposé in this morning's Daily News into Helen Marshall's lavish spending on office perks - a chair, he notes, that only cost him $100.

Just last week, Kerpen announced that if he is elected Borough President of Queens he will immediately do away with Marshall's taxpayer-funded team of chauffeurs and fancy town car and put that money into loans and grants for Queens small business owners. Now, it comes out in the News that Marshall spent $103,000 last year on luxurious furniture for her office, including $85,436 on chairs.

"The Borough President's spending isn't just fiscally irresponsible, it's insulting to Queens taxpayers," said Kerpen. "Thousands of residents of our borough have lost or are in danger of losing their jobs and Helen Marshall is spending $4,985 on drapes for her office. How can the Borough President justify spending $5,000 to refurbish her desk and cabinet when Queens has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the county? I call on Helen Marshall to immediately sell off all of this furniture and give this money to Queens families losing their homes and jobs."

Kerpen charged that among the Borough President's other egregious expenditures cited by the News exposé were $4,994 for picture frames and $2,208 for a backdrop banner.

Furniture is far from the Queens Borough President's only regal excess, reports the News. Marshall also spends $50,000 a year on a professional photographer to make sure she has plenty of shots to promote her public appearances.

According to the News article, Marshall's largest pet project, a $21.3 million glass atrium for the rear of Queens Borough Hall, is now on hold "due to the budget crunch". Dave Kerpen said he was surprised to read about the change of status in the $21.3 million glass atrium, since only last month The Astoria Times reported that Marshall was moving forward with the project and hosted a pre-bid conference on February 13th, 2009 at Borough Hall to discuss the atrium. Since then, Marshall has made no public statement indicating that she had changed her mind about moving forward with her plans.

"I am proud that our campaign to reform the wasteful ways of Borough Hall is already working," said Kerpen about Marshall's apparent sudden change of heart about her atrium. "At a time when two hospitals have just closed in Queens, we can't afford to build the Borough President a glass palace. I hope Helen Marshall continues to listen to me and sells her $103,000 in office furniture immediately to help Queens families losing their jobs and homes."

To support Borough President candidate Dave Kerpen's fight to reform Queens government, sign up on his campaign's official Facebook page: http://TinyUrl.com/DKerpen

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Towns Commemorates Conrad B. Duberstein, Renames Bankruptcy Courthouse in His Honor

U.S. Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns (NY-10) honored the late Judge Conrad B. Duberstein today at a 9:00 a.m. naming ceremony for the United States Bankruptcy Courthouse, located at 217 Cadman Plaza East in Brooklyn.

Rep. Towns passed legislation in the 110th Congress to name the courthouse after Judge Duberstein, and this event was the culmination of that effort.

Presenting the late Honorable Conrad B. Duberstein’s family with a framed copy of the law, Towns stated, “I had the honor of knowing Judge Duberstein, and I can tell you that he dedicated his life to pursuing justice. A man of great integrity and exceptional intellect, he worked tirelessly to make a difference,” said Towns.

The Honorable Conrad B. Duberstein, affectionately known as “Connie,” was born in Bronx, New York. He dropped out of school to support his family at the age of 17. He later returned to college, earning an undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College in 1938 and a Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University Law School. Admitted to the Bar of the state on New York in 1942, Judge Duberstein practiced bankruptcy law until his entry into the United States Armed Forces in 1943.

During his service in the infantry, Duberstein was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, three Battle Stars, and the Combat Infantry Badge. After leaving the Army following World War II, Duberstein joined the Brooklyn law firm of Schwartz, Rudin and Duberstein. He would later become a partner at Otterbourg, Steindler, Houston and Rosen, where he remained until his retirement until 1981.

In 1981, Duberstein was appointed to the Eastern District Bankruptcy Court of New York. Judge Duberstein was later appointed Chief Judge in 1984, a position he held for the remainder of his career.

Judge Duberstein was awarded an honorary doctorate of law from St. John’s University, and a moot bankruptcy court competition was created by the American Bankruptcy Institute to honor him. The Honorable Judge Conrad B. Duberstein is widely regarded as an important figure in bankruptcy law by many around the country.