Saturday, July 31, 2010

Man Fatally Slashed While Trying to Save Brother on J Train Platform in Queens, Police Said by Kate Nocera and Jonathan Lemire - NY Daily News

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Dario Paiva, 27, (left) was fatally slashed trying to save his brother on a J train subway platform.

A 27-year-old man rushing to the aid of his brother was fatally slashed in the neck during a fight on a Queens subway platform, police said Saturday.

Dario Paiva tried to save his 20-year-old brother Khristian, who was being pummeled by a group of men at the 85th St.-Forest Pkwy. Station late Friday night, police and relatives said.

But one of the men raked a knife across Dario Paiva's neck - and the devoted brother died at Jamaica Hospital a short time later.

"You don't even know how much sadness and rage I have right now," cried David Poggi, another of the victim's brothers.

"They were trying to rob Khristian, and he called Dario for help," said Poggi, 37. "Dario ran down to help him."

"They were so close," Poggi said. "It's senseless."

Cops swarmed the above ground Woodhaven J train stop in the moments after the 11:30 p.m. stabbing, but no arrests have been made.

"I heard his brother screaming for help," said Junior Rasul, who works at Palace Fried Chicken underneath the platform. " was a really cool kid and didn't look like the kind of guy who was a troublemaker."

Khristian Paiva was treated for minor injuries, police said. Investigators were not immediately certain if the assault on the platform was a robbery attempt, police said.

Poggi said one of his other brothers was killed in a car accident a few years ago, and his heartbroken family was struggling to come to grips with losing Dario, who was taking classes at Kingsborough Community College.

"I can't believe I'm never going to hear him laugh again," said Poggi, his voice shaking. " was a wonderful kid."'

Related articles:

NY Times: Queens Man Fatally Stabbed at Subway Station

NY Post: Man Stabbed to Death in Queens Trying to Save Little Brother

Genting Malaysia Likely to Secure Aqueduct Project - BorneoPost Online - Borneo Daily News

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RETAINING OWNERSHIP: In essence, the state of New York will own the video lottery facility consisting of 4,500 video game machines (VGMs), parking facility, and improvements constructed or operated by vendors at Aqueduct.

Gaming sector expert Genting Malaysia Bhd (Genting Malaysia) was likely to secure the concession for the Aqueduct Racetrack (Aqueduct), being the sole leader left in the bid.

ECM Libra Capital Sdn Bhd (ECM Libra) in a research report yesterday stated that Genting Malaysia was likely to win this project as it would create 1,300 temporary jobs and 800 permanent jobs for the locals in New York. The locals expressed their approval during a well attended Community Board 10 meeting on July 16.

To recap, SL Green led consortium and Penn National Gaming were disqualified earlier this month for submitting non-complying bids that negotiated for terms more favourable to them, leaving Genting Malaysia as the sole surviving bidder.

The project, called a racino, would include more than 4,000 video slot machines plus a hotel and other facilities located at the racetrack for thoroughbred horses in the New York City borough of Queens.

Should the group successfully procure this project, the Aqueduct would contribute a tidy US$30 million per annum. The successful bidder would pay a US$300 million licencing fee to the New York Lottery.

Following that, US$250 million would be disbursed to the successful bidder as a construction capital grant. ECM Libra added that cost overruns would be borne by the successful bidder.

In essence, the state of New York would own the video lottery facility consisting of 4,500 video game machines (VGMs), parking facility and improvements constructed or operated by vendors at Aqueduct. It would also retain ownership of the Aqueduct land and all its property and improvements.

The successful bidder will advance US$2 million per month to the New York Racing Association (NYRA) from the securing of the concession to the opening of the Aqueduct scheduled for the first quarter of 2012 (1Q12). The NYRA would repay the advances via its seven per cent share of Aqueduct’s VGM revenues.

The Aqueduct would be the sole video gaming operator within New York City limits.

From the financial years ending March 2005 to March 2010 (FYE03/05 – FYE03/10), the VGM industry in New York experienced a 35 per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenues (net win) and 33 per cent CAGR in slot handle (credits played). This was primarily due to the opening of Empire City Casino (Empire City) at Yonkers Raceway in October 2006 at Yonkers, just outside New York City limits.

Remarkably, industry revenues grew by seven per cent on a yearly basis in FYE03/10 despite a recession due to the relatively affluence of New Yorkers and successful bus programmes.

Looking at the FYE03/10figures, Empire City recorded the highest average daily win per VGM at US$286 due to its proximity to New York City. Aqueduct, being located within New York City limits, should fare better.

It is also located in between New York City and John F Kennedy International Airport, the busiest airport in the United States which handled 45.9 million passengers back in 2009.

Pending the bid result, the research house employed a target price of RM2.78, maintaining its estimates for the moment.

St. Saviour's Backers Fight Development by Rebecca Henely -

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Maspeth Development LLC has filed plans to build warehouses on the former site of St. Saviour's Church in Maspeth, despite community activist and political support for parkland on the spot.

Despite efforts by area politicians and activists to preserve the property, Scott Kushnick, developer at Maspeth Development LLC, said he is moving forward with plans to build warehouses at the former site of St. Saviour’s Church at 57-40 58th Street in Maspeth.

“It would be a shame if there were warehouses built there,” said Maspeth resident and activist Christina Wilkinson.

The site has long held the interest of western Queens activists, who want to preserve the area as parkland. The land was sold to Maspeth Development in 2006, which formerly wanted to sell the land or develop it as apartment buildings. In 2008, Maspeth Development, LLC, donated the church building to the Juniper Park Civic Association and allowed the group to remove the 163-year-old church from the site. The Association dismantled it piece by piece to be rebuilt later.

Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said in an e-mail the church would be rebuilt either at the original site, if the city can acquire the land as the association hopes, or it would be at All Faiths Cemetery at Middle Village.

“The St. Saviour’s site is one of the last historic properties in Queens County,” Holden said. “It must be saved.”

The plan to turn the site into a parkland is supported by the area’s elected officials.

“Maspeth has been under-served when it comes to park space and we need to seize on this opportunity to invest in open space for the residents of Maspeth,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said in a statement. “That is why Borough President [Helen] Marshall and I secured $1.5 million to acquire park space in this area of Maspeth. I hope the owners of the property see this commitment and begin negotiations to sell the property to the city as soon as possible.”

Yet Kushnick said the offer from Marshall and Crowley was not a “real offer” since he paid between $7 million and $8 million for the property.

“The amount of money that they have is a fraction of the value of this property,” Kushnick said.

He has submitted plans for warehouses to the city Department of Buildings, which have not been reviewed yet.

Wilkinson said she does not see the purpose of building warehouses on the site, pointing out that the West Maspeth area already has many empty warehouses.

“I’m not a businessperson, but to me that just doesn’t seem like a very smart decision,” she said.

Wilkinson said she believed the developers should see the money raised by Crowley and Marshall as the city making a commitment to turning the area into parkland.

“The problem is he’s not negotiating with the city,” she said.

Holden also called upon Mayor Michael Bloomberg to help.

“He should make good on his promise of building more parks,” Holden said, “especially for the neighborhoods that desperately need more greenspace such as Maspeth.”

Note: This story has been corrected since publication to reflect the fact that Maspeth Development donated the church building to the Juniper Park Civic

Peter King And Anthony Weiner Get Into Shouting Match On Fox -YouTube - Talking Points Memo...

Peter King And Anthony Weiner Get Into Shouting Match On Fox

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) went on an apoplectic rant on the House floor last night, and apparently he hasn't cooled off much since then.

Earlier this morning, Weiner and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) shouted and finger-pointed their way through a Fox News interview over a bill that would provide health care to rescue workers effected by the dust from the World Trade Center, which failed in the House last night.

King accused the Democrats of orchestrating a "cruel hoax" with the bill, while Weiner called it "outrageous" that Republicans would vote against it.

Weiner was furious last night that most of the "cowardly" Republicans voted against the bill and then blamed it on "procedure." Exclaimed Weiner: "You vote yes if you believe yes! You vote in favor of something if you believe it's the right thing! If you believe it's the wrong thing, you vote no!"

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) On the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

On America's Newsroom today, King, who is the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security, said that "the bottom line is the Democrats control the House, and they pulled a procedural gimmick starting ten days ago, and they lost the nerve to bring it to the floor on a real vote."

He also called the whole situation a "cruel hoax," and accused the Democrats of "moral cowardice."

"They control the House," said King. "They could have passed this."

Anthony Weiner Explains His Fiery Outburst Towards Republicans - MSNBC

Weiner shot back: "You know for all the whining about the process, we had an up-or-down vote. Do you know what percentage of Republicans voted for it? Seven percent." Only twelve Republicans voted in favor of the bill.

"Your rant last night about the process and how bad the process was gave cover for your colleagues," said Weiner adding, "Twelve Peter? That's all you could muster?"

Insensitive Graffiti Cleaned Up by Tonia N. Cimino - The Queens Courier

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Andrew Baumann is thrilled.

After an article in last week’s Courier Sun – and a timely response by City Councilmember Eric Ulrich – the insensitive graffiti on the Bernard Fineson Center in Howard Beach has been eradicated.

On Wednesday, July 21, City Solve, the company Ulrich has hired to clean up graffiti in the area, painted over the tag that read “Dirtnikki ♥s retards.”

Pamela Baumann, who, along with her husband Andrew, founded New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC), said she was alerted to the graffiti on the Bernard Fineson Center on Monday, July 12.

She called Ulrich’s office, the 106th Precinct, Community Board 10 and others, and less than 10 days later, it was gone.

“Thank you Eric Ulrich,” said Andrew. “I’m very pleased with his responsiveness to the needs of the community. Graffiti to me is bad as it is, but when you add that word, you step over the line.”

“Eric specifically had City Solve come out, especially for that,” said Conor Greene, spokesperson. “How people would do that – it’s awful.”

In the meantime, Andrew hopes to never see those words scrawled anywhere, ever again.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Obama Cabinet Member Takes Tour of Jamaica Bay by Ivan Pereira -

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U.S. Rep. Anthony Wiener (from l.), U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Park Ranger Dandelion Dilluvio remove an invasive vine in Jamaica Bay during Salazar's visit to the ecosystem. Photo by Christina Santucci
The U.S. secretary of the Interior paid a visit to Jamaica Bay Monday and borough elected officials said they hope his trip will have a positive impact on the future of its environment.

This is the first time Ken Salazar visited the 31-square-mile ecosystem and got up close with its fauna and flora, according to U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), who accompanied the secretary during the tour.

“There are a lot of, ‘Oh, wow,’ moments when you visit Jamaica Bay,” the congressman said.

Salazar, who was touring several Gateway National Recreation Area sites, including the Statue of Liberty, walked the path of the bay’s wildlife refuge and took a boat tour of the bay along with park rangers, Weiner and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica).

Park experts explained to Salazar how Jamaica Bay’s environment is closely tied to the nearly 400 species of birds, fish and other wildlife that populate the area. The ecosystem serves as a home to many of the animals during their migratory patterns, according to Barry Sullivan, the superintendent of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

“It’s unbelievably important to the ecosystem, not just for the city ... but also for the entire Atlantic coast,” he said.

Leaders and environmentalists say the bay’s importance to the area means it should qualify for more preservation projects.

Its saltwater marshland has been dissipating for decades and more than 70 percent of the ecosystem has been lost. Over the last 10 years, city, state and federal governments have been providing funding, planning to stop the decay and restoring some of the lost marshland.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been restoring several sections of the marshland, including Elders Point West. In the winter, the city announced it was dedicating $100 million over the next decade to enhance its wastewater treatment plants around the ecosystem so the facilities discharge less nitrogen, which causes the plants to decay.

Dan Mundy Jr., a member of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, an environmental group that has been advocating for protecting the bay, said projects are coming along well.

“The results for the sites of growth are doing very good so far,” he said.

Weiner said he thinks Salazar’s visit will help bring more funding and attention to the environment since the secretary has had a hands-on experience with the bay.

“So much about the [restoration projects] is about oiling the squeaky wheel. This is not a well-known park,” he said.

Additional photos from the Rockaway Wave...

MMS' Failure Will Continue Without Real Reform - Op/Ed by Rep. Edolphus Towns - The Huffington Post

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British Petroleum's (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Gulf Coast more than 100 days ago and we have witnessed the devastation ever since. Oil has washed ashore from Texas to Florida and the lives of millions of Americans have been put on hold. The magnitude of the spill exposed the inadequacy of BP's emergency response and raised serious questions about the effectiveness of the Department of Interior's oversight of offshore drilling.

The BP oil spill was just the latest chapter in a long history of regulatory and ethical failures at the Interior Department and the Minerals Management Service (MMS). It is apparent that over the last decade, MMS essentially permitted the oil industry to police itself -- allowing BP and other companies in the industry to pick and choose which regulations they would follow. At the same time, the number of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico expanded dramatically and further into much deeper waters while the agency remained at approximately the same size.

After the oil spill, Secretary Salazar proposed a sweeping reorganization of MMS that would split the agency into three separate departments, The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental
Enforcement and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue. To get a better understanding of the proposed changes, I convened a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing recently where we were able to ask Interior Secretary Salazar and Michael Bromwich, the new director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), critical questions about the reorganization.

According to Secretary Salazar, the necessary checks and balances have been implemented to prevent unethical behavior within the three new entities. The ethics and enforcement standards for all employees were strengthened, and more rigorous safeguards were implemented to separate royalty collection from the safety and environmental oversight tasks.

We also discussed concerns related to conflicts of interest and revenue collections. Secretary Salazar explained that recommendations from the Department's Inspector General have been adopted and he highlighted the termination of the Royalty-in-Kind program that will reduce the likelihood of fraud or collusion within the oil and gas industry. He also stated that as the department evaluates new areas for oil and gas exploration, they will conduct a thorough environmental analysis and examine the potential safety and spill risks before approving plans to drill.

Michael Bromwich was chosen to lead BOEM because of his experience as an Inspector General at the Justice Department and his demonstrated ability to turn around failing institutions. After leaving the Justice Department he helped reform police departments around the country before working in private practice where he conducted several internal investigations for companies in a variety of industries. Mr. Bromwich expressed to the committee that he is determined to promptly respond to any allegations or evidence of misconduct or unethical behavior between BOEM employees and the oil and gas industry. He also made clear that he is determined to improve the bureau's ability to respond to issues and crises, like the Deepwater Horizon spill, as quickly as possible.

I am encouraged by Secretary Salazar's and Director Bromwich's dedication to put common sense reforms in place that will strengthen the oversight of the oil industry. Although the agency has much work to do, I remain optimistic reform will occur.

Judge Delays Verdict on Aqueduct Lawsuit by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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A state judge has delayed a ruling affecting bids for a proposed racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park.

State Supreme Court Judge Barry Kramer on July 23 continued the hearing regarding the lawsuit filed against the state by Aqueduct Entertainment Company for rescinding its decision to award the firm the 30-year franchise to develop and operate the video lottery terminals at the Ozone Park racetrack.

Kramer said he needed more time to review the documents that were submitted by the parties to the lawsuit.

State officials are allowed to continue to evaluate Genting New York’s bid while the court case continues, Kramer said.

The judge set the next court date for Thursday July 29, when he is expected to make a decision on the case.

On July 6, AEC sued the Lottery and several elected officials seeking a permanent halt to the bidding process and asking the court to declare the group the winner. Kramer ordered a halt to the bidding process on July 12 only to amend his temporary restraining order two days later.

Last January, AEC was declared the winner of the Aqueduct franchise, however, in March the state Lottery called the group “unlicensable,” and Gov. David Paterson cancelled the deal.

A Lottery spokeswoman said the vetting process of Genting is ongoing and the agency still intends to announce a recommendation on Aug. 3, unless it is ordered otherwise.

Earlier this month, two bidders for the Aqueduct franchise, a consortium of SL Green, Hard Rock International and Clairvest Group and Penn National Gaming were disqualified by the Lottery.

Lottery officials said the two bidders did not agree to all of the state’s terms set for the operator of the franchise.

SL Green wanted its $300 million licensing fee, required to be paid upfront, to be held in escrow until certain conditions were met by the state. The bidder also wanted a complete exemption from state and local sales taxes for construction, and wanted a cap on increases in local property taxes at 3 percent.

SL Green fired off a formal letter to the Lottery, which may be a prelude to a lawsuit, protesting the decision of the Lottery to disqualify the firm’s proposal from consideration. “This decision was itself unfounded and, more importantly, reflects a flawed Request for Proposals that was designed to inhibit competition rather than promote it,” an attorney for SL Green said in the letter.

The Lottery has not responded to SL Green’s letter.

The video lottery terminals at Aqueduct are expected to generate more than $800 million for the state.

NYPD: Man Killed by LIRR Train in Flushing - Newsday

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 Emergency vehicles respond at the Broadway stop on the LIRR in Flushing, N.Y., where a man was struck by a train according to New York City police. Photo credit: Adam Abramson

A man was struck and killed by an LIRR train in Flushing on the Port Washington line, according to New York City police.

The incident occurred at the Broadway station late in the evening rush, and at least a dozen emergency vehicles responded to the scene.

There are 10 to 15 minute delays in both directions on the line, according to the Long Island Rail Road website.

CB5 Parks Chair: Proposal for Fencing Falls Short by Patrick Clark, Times Newsweekly...

The Parks Dept has agreed to include historical replica fencing in its design for the Ridgewood Reservoir project, but the chairman of Community Board 5's Parks Committee does not think that the city agency is going far enough.

Parks' design for $7.6 million Phase 1 of the project originally called for standard 4'-high wrought iron or chain-link fencing throughout the reservoir, a fact which does not sit well with many community members, including Board 5 Parks Chair Steven Fiedler.

In a telephone interview with the Times Newsweekly, Fiedler said that the 4' fencing would do little to deter would-be trespassers, and replacing the historical fencing amounted to "throwing away our heritage."

In a letter dated May 28, City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley took up the cause, imploring Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski to preserve the architectural feel of the original fencing.

Noting that in the past, the city has used examples from the Ridgewood Reservoir to model replica fencing, Crowley asked Lewandowski to "ensure that a fence much like the one that was installed in Central Park in 2003 is placed along the main basin at the Ridgewood Reservoir."

In response, Lewandowski assured Crowley, in a letter dated July 15, that "replicated fence will be used at the overlook areas between basins 2 and 3 to maintain the historical integrity of the site."

Fiedler, however, is not satisfied.

"It's nothing," he said. "We have 3,000 ft of historical fencing. They want to throw it all out and put in a few feet of replica."

"All I'm asking them to do is give us a price assessment on taking it out," Fiedler continued, "sandblasting it, and putting it back in. If the cost turns out to be prohibitive, I can accept that."

Fiedler also expressed hope that a state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) study currently underway would prevent Parks from getting started on Phase 1 of the project.

Speaking to residents at the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood meeting on Monday, July 26, Fiedler expressed his belief that Parks would hold off on awarding the contract until the DEC had determined whether the reservoir would be designated as a wetlands.

"That changes the whole scheme of things for the city," Fiedler said. "If it's declared a wetland, the city can't design anything without state approval."

Parks spokesperson Trish Bertuccio told the Times Newsweekly that the department is currently reviewing proposals for the project, and that Phase 1 is unaffected by the State's wetlands study.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Former State Sen. Serf Maltese Launches Bid To Be New Board of Elections Executive Director by Edward-Isaac Dovere - City Hall News

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Former State Sen. Serf Maltese wants back into politics.
But instead of running himself, Maltese wants to run all city elections, in a bid to become the new executive director of the city Board of Elections.

“I am writing you to indicate that I would like to be considered for the position of Executive Director of the Board of Elections in the City of New York,” Maltese wrote in an email that was sent around to commissioners Wednesday evening. “My biography accompanies this request and I believe that my background and experience would qualify me for this position of great responsibility and importance.”

That 2,000-word biography details Maltese’s history in local politics, hitting all the highlights and many of the awards he picked up during his 20 years representing Queens in the State Senate. Maltese lost by double digits to Joe Addabbo in 2008 in one of the two seats that swung the majority to the Democrats.

And in an ironic twist, Addabbo is this year being challenged by former Council Member Anthony Como, who had been agitating for the executive director job before pulling out at the last minute to pursue the State Senate race. Como, though a former commissioner, had been unable to rally the six votes necessary to get a majority of the 10 commissioners.

In his email to the commissioners, Maltese indicated that he had a running start in getting to six.

“I can assure you that I have the confidence and backing of my Queens County Chairman, the Honorable Phil Ragusa, our Queens County Republican Commissioner the Honorable Judith Stupp and my former Senate colleague Senator Marty Golden,” Maltese wrote.

The top position at the city Board of Elections has been vacant since February, when Marcus Cederqvist resigned, and the process of picking his replacement has been stuck in a largely partisan stalemate: four Democratic commissioners and one Republican, from Staten Island are looking to promote deputy executive director George Gonzalez, but have been blocked from reaching a majority by the Staten Island Democratic commissioner, Michael Ryan, who remains undecided, and the four remaining Republicans.

The Staten Island Republican commissioner, J.P. Sipp, is said to be allying with the four Democrats thanks to the efforts of John Haggerty, the operative indicted by the Manhattan district attorney in the Independence Party probe, but also one of the leaders of the anti-Phil Ragusa faction of the Queens Republicans.

After Como’s decision to run against Addabbo, J.C. Polanco—the Bronx Republican commissioner and the secretary of the Board—had put himself forward as an alternative. But as the Board has been dealing with a budget crisis and the complicated run-up to the roll-out of new optical scan voting machines for the fall elections, the search for someone to fill the top job has remained frozen.

Reached late Wednesday, Polanco said he was focused on his duties as a commissioner fielding objections to petitions and as the director of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb’s New York City and Westchester regional office.

“I haven’t spoken to Senator Maltese as of yet regarding his interest,” Polanco wrote. “I’m in the middle of working with my colleagues on voting on specific objections to petitions for the next several days. And along with a busy special session with Assembly Republican Leader Kolb, I’m going to have my hands full. I hope to have an opportunity to discuss our views as to the direction the NYC Board of Elections in this very important year.”

Maltese could not be immediately reached for comment.

Gennaro Bill Slated to Clean Queens Air by Anna Gustafson - > Queens

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Councilman James Gennaro (l.) speaks at a biodiesel plant in Brooklyn about his bill that is expected to reduce air pollution and create green jobs. Photo courtesy of William Alatriste

A bill sponsored by City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and slated to pass the Council Thursday is expected to reduce air pollution, promote the use of alternative fuels and create green jobs in the city, Gennaro and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week.

The legislation, Intro 194-A, will require that buildings burn less No. 4 heating oil — one of the dirtiest types of fuel. Additionally, it mandates that the No. 4 oil will be phased out when buildings need to replace their heating system equipment, which city officials said will help to create environmentally friendly jobs.

“New York City consumes 1 billion gallons of heating oil annually — more than any other city in the United States,” said Gennaro, chairman of the Council Environmental Protection Committee. “Our legislation will annually replace 20 million gallons of petroleum with an equal volume of renewable, sustainable and domestically produced biodiesel. We are already home to what will be the largest biodiesel processing facility in the country, as well as a growing grease collection industry, and we expect to see more and more green-collar jobs and green economic growth as a result of our legislation.”

Intro 194-A will require the amount of sulfur in some heating oil to be capped at 1,500 parts per million, reducing the current cap by half. About 9,500 city buildings burn the dirtiest grades of heating oil, Nos. 4 and 6, according to a report by the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit. The report found that buildings burning Nos. 4 and 6 heating oils release more soot pollution than all cars and trucks on the city’s streets combined.

The pollution created by this heating oil contains heavy metals and other pollutants that damage lungs and hearts, contribute to asthma and decrease life expectancy, city officials noted.

“We all know the most cost-effective way to remove pollutants from any fuel is to never burn them in the first place,” Bloomberg said. “But the reality is that New Yorkers burn more than 1 billion gallons of heating oil each year. By changing the type of oil we use, we will reduce pollutants and spend less money on maintaining and operating our heating systems while simultaneously reducing our dependence on overseas sources of energy.”

Environmental advocates also cheered the bill.

“It’s a great day for the health of all New Yorkers, but especially for children, senior citizens and people with respiratory illnesses who are particularly vulnerable to soot pollution,” said Andy Darrell, New York regional director and deputy director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s national energy program.

Field Chronicles: Abrolhos on Vimeo by Conservation International...

Watch on Vimeo...

Field Chronicles: Abrolhos from Conservation International on Vimeo.

In Brazil, 1,000 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro, is the most divese concentration of marine life in the South Atlantic. Here, people have lived in harmony with the sea for centuries. But as in so much of the world, the balance is under pressure: from oil exploration, dredging, industrial fishing ... Despite these powerful interests, a small team of Conservation International staff have not only helped protect this area, but extend its boundaries. This is the story of their success.

Richmond Hill Economic Development Council (“RHEDC”) -- Press Release

The Richmond Hill Economic Development Council (RHEDC) was launched on 22nd July at the elegant Ultra Level Lounge on 123rd Street and Liberty Ave.

The Launch of RHEDC attracted more than 150 people, including numerous local business owners, residents, and several local faith-based, civic, educational, social and cultural organizations. Representatives from the Queens Borough President’s Office, Queens Economic Development Corporation, NYC Small Business Services, NYC Department of Transportation, Member of Assembly Mike Miller, City Council Member Eric Ulrich and representatives from Congressman Gregory Meeks and several other State Assembly and City Council offices.

RHEDC was endorsed by the QEDC, NYCSBS, Member of Assembly Mike Miller, City Council Member Eric Ulrich, the Indo-Caribbean Alliance and several other local businesses, civic, religious, cultural and social leaders.

RHEDC stated that its mission is to advocate for the urgent economic development needs of Richmond Hill by organizing the merchants, residents and other local organizations. RHEDC will work with elected officials and city agencies to better serves the vibrant “Liberty Avenue Retail Corridor”, which spans Liberty Avenue between the Van Wyck Expressway and Woodhaven Blvd.

The RHEDC was awarded a grant to organize the Merchants along the Liberty Avenue Retail Corridor. The NYCSBS also will be providing Technical Development support of a website to serve the entire Liberty Avenue Retail Corridor.

The Issues Seek to Address Immediately:
  1. Work with Local Business owners to improve their storefronts and enhance the quality of their services
  2. Promote Businesses along the “Liberty Avenue Retail Corridor” to the broader market
  3. Create a cleaner, greener and more inviting streetscape
  4. Facilitate regular dialogue between the community and the MTA / DOT regarding the Liberty Avenue Congestion Study
  5. Work with the NYCEDC/DOT to arrive at a better solution than the proposed closure of the Liberty Ave Exit of the Van Wyck Expressway
  6. Increase awareness of the Genting New York Aqueduct / Casino Proposal and to position the community to get a fair share of the final decision.
  7. To continue to advance the issues of the Richmond Hill / Ozone Park community with regards to the current US Census
These are some of the many issues/proposals that are and will continue to impact our community. We need to understand the scope and ensure these issues/proposals will be beneficial to our community.

Nathan Gray, Borough Planner – NYCDOT stated publicly during our event that the NYCEDC and DOT will put the proposal on HOLD. We are thankful for this significant announcement that will bring temporary relief to the entire community of Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and South Ozone Park. We will continue to monitor this still open proposal and again make effective representations on behalf of the entire community.

We would like to thank the many individuals and businesses that help to get our community this far. We are looking forward to your continued participation.

RHEDC contact:- Vishnu Mahadeo Tel (347) 323-6019

Stand Up New York and Speak Out at!

Stand Up and Speak Out!

Tell the New York legislature we need a drilling "time out" to protect NY water, and our public health from dirty drilling.

Stand up and speak out at!

Don't let dirty drilling frack up New York's clean water.

Drilling shouldn't occur unless and until we know it can be done safely, and we have rules and enforcement to require it.

Click here for more info:

Thanks to the folks at who made the vid, and the makers of and, without whose footage it couldn't have been made.

to give them a piece of your mind.

The Empire State Building: A Beacon for Energy Efficiency - Op/Ed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney: The Huffington Post

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The Empire State Building is a New York City Landmark, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and has also been named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. In the years to come, I wouldn't be surprised if this great structure also became known as the most energy-efficient skyscraper in the world.

Standing at 1472 feet, and with 2.8 million square feet of leasable office space, the Empire State Building currently consumes the energy equivalent of 40,000 single-family homes.

Yesterday, I convened a hearing of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) and learned more about the Empire State Building's plans to completely change this -- to substantially reduce their energy consumption and do it in a way where the retrofitting costs would be completely recouped in 3 years. My colleagues -- both Democrats and Republicans -- were impressed.
Considerable attention has been placed on making homes, utility appliances and cars more energy efficient. Making the things we rely on each and every day use less energy is undoubtedly an important initiative that will not only reduce our energy consumption, but also create jobs. In the Recovery Act, for example, $5 billion was included to weatherize homes -- money that is paying contractors and their employees to reduce homeowners' energy bills by making homes more energy efficient.

In total, the Recovery Act included over $90 billion for clean energy, the largest clean energy investment in our nation's history. The law provides a range of clean energy economy investments including innovation and job training.

These federal dollars have been instrumental in driving private sector projects and progress. For example, $46 billion of the Recovery Act's clean-energy investments are leveraged investments, which support an additional $100 billion in private sector clean energy commitments. This money will be used to fund energy technology projects that have the potential to completely reshape how we fuel our day-to-day lives. Or, as President Obama's team explains it, "Ultimately, the investments could help transform the United States into a global clean energy leader."

While these endeavors are important, in major cities across our country, it is commercial buildings that consume the most energy. As Anthony Malkin of the Empire State Building explained in Washington, D.C. yesterday during the JEC hearing, in New York City, "80% of the energy consumed is consumed by buildings. 20% of the buildings consume 80% of that energy." In simple terms, what this means is that big commercial buildings are the City's biggest energy consumers.

The Empire State Building is leading the effort to change this right now. The Empire State Building retrofit will deliver improved windows, high-efficiency light bulbs, and among many other things, renovated heating and cooling systems at a cost of $13 million after netting out other savings. By 2013, this plan will have reduced the Empire State Building's energy usage by 40%. The $4.4 million in annual energy savings will have completely paid for the costs of the retrofit project 3 years after completion.

One of the reasons I convened this hearing was to identify innovative ways to promote a clean energy economy and at the same time help create jobs. Three key points arose from the hearing.

First, energy efficiency does not have to just be a decision to save the planet, it is also makes good business sense. Business owners can save an enormous amount of money in energy costs by retrofitting.

Second, if we want to make real progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we must concentrate on the biggest energy consumers and that is big buildings that exist today.

Third, government has a role to play in shining a spotlight on the economic, environmental and consumer benefits of retrofits, but it is the private and non-profit sectors that will roll up their sleeves, nail down the economics and make these retrofits happen.

Each year, the Empire State Building attracts more than 3.5 million visitors who come to see the New York City sights from the highest point in our city. I am confident that it will attract even more visitors in the near future -- visitors interested in learning how cities and buildings like the Empire State Building can provide a beacon to a more energy-efficient future.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney represents parts of Queens and Manhattan in the U.S. House of Representatives where she is the Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.

NYLCV Backs Nunes by Andrew J. Hawkins - City Hall News

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The New York League of Conservation Voters has thrown its support behind Lynn Nunes, the Democratic primary challenger to Queens Sen. Shirley Huntley.

The announcement came in a brief press release from Nune’s campaign, which said he landed the endorsement from the NYLCV for his “commitment to protecting New York’s land, air, and water.” There’s no statement from the league as of yet.

This is a pretty interesting turn of events for several reasons.

The NYLCV, as I noted yesterday, played a role back in 2008 in helping the Democrats flip a Long Island Senate seat that had long been held by the GOP by backing now-Sen. Brian Foley against then-incumbent Sen. Caesar Trunzo.
That win helped the Democrats take control of the chamber. (The other big loss was Sen. Serf Maltese, who was toppled by Joe Addabbo, another NYLCV-endorsed candidated.

Yesterday, the league announced it would again back GOP Sen. Frank Padavan against his Democratic challenger, former NYC Councilman Tony Avella, even though Avella had received a 100 percent rating from the organization on its environmental scorecard.

Avella blamed his opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan. (It should also be noted that in 2008, the NYLCV split the baby in the Padvan race, backing both the Republican incumbent AND his Democratic challenger, NYC Councilman Jim Gennaro).

As far as I can tell, the NYLCV didn’t back Huntley in 2008.

Nunes is building support among some key special interests, including supporters of charter schools and gay marriage advocates.

Both of those groups are backing primary challengers against incumbent Democrats this September in an attempt to re-shape the majority (assuming it holds in November) into something they feel better suits their needs.

Track worker's Death in Queens to Spark $50 Million Lawsuit Against City by John Marzulli - NY Daily News

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The widow of a track worker electrocuted on a third rail in Queens is set to file a $50 million wrongful death suit against the city, the Daily News has learned.

Jackie Knell will file a notice to sue today, charging there were numerous violations at the work site April 26, when her husband slipped and fell.

Lawyer Sanford Rubenstein said the "third-rail protecting boards were removed and there was no signage or lights alerting employees of the exposed third rail."

The News reported last month that a preliminary investigation of the tragedy raised a number of safety concerns, including that Knell was lugging 90 pounds of spikes when he apparently lost his balance.

A spokeswoman for NYC Transit declined to comment.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Mr. Met Play Ball With Ravenswood Kids...

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer with  youth from Ravenwood Houses..
.Click on photo to enlarge...

On Wednesday, July 28th Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Mr. Met of the New York Mets Major League Baseball team joined children from the Ravenswood “I Have a Dream” Foundation in a game of Wiffleball at the Ravenswood Houses to celebrate their organization’s community involvement and continued success.

The "I Have a Dream" Program motivates and empowers youth from the Ravenswood Houses to realize their dreams by providing a long-term program of academic support, mentoring, and cultural enrichment, while guaranteeing the resources needed to achieve their education and career goals. "Dreamers" have volunteered at local food pantries, senior centers and various other community service projects.

The fun and games were concluded by Council Member Van Bramer and Mr. Met in a Mets Game ticket giveaway for the youngsters.

City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and kids from the Ravenwood Houses-
Click on photo to enlarge..
“Nothing means more to our communities than empowering our youth to strive for their dreams,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “I want to thank the Mets organization for their gracious donation and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation for the invaluable resources they provide in our communities.”
“These children have participated in more than 30 days of Community Service projects over the past 2 years,” said Assistant Program Director Matthew Wright. “We are honored and excited to receive recognition from Councilman Van Bramer and the New York Mets organization.

Rep Weiner Issues Correction - - Queens Gazette

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Congressmember Anthony Weiner has advised that the report issued by his office on vacant storefronts in Queens, which was released on Monday, July 19, and was reported on Page 1 of the Gazette of July 21, 2010 (“Biz Strip Vacancies”), mislabeled one of the neighborhoods his staff surveyed.

While the streets surveyed were correct, the neighborhood designation for Jamaica Avenue was imprecise. Since Woodhaven begins west of 98th Street, and only about 22 percent of the street was in this area, it should have been labeled "Richmond Hill/Woodhaven”, Weiner said in a statement.

Broad Channel Vollies Set to Get New Home by Bryan Yurcan - Queens Chronicle

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After years of jumping through beaureaucratic hoops, the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department appears to be on track to get a new firehouse.

A bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Ozone Park) and state Senator Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) that would allow the state Department of Transportation to be in charge of the project passed both houses of the Legislature this month. The project had been under the city DOT’s purview, but the city had said it wouldn’t pursue the project, deeming it unnecessary.

“With this bill giving the state control of the project, we think this is finally going to happen,” said Pheffer

This is just the latest news in the long and convoluted history of the project.

In 2005, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) and then-Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-New York) placed $2 million in the next year’s Omnibus Transportation Bill to fund a new firehouse for the department.

However, the city DOT had to approve the spending, which it never did. The agency is mandated by Federal Highway Administration rules to have complete control of such a project from start to finish.

The city told the vollies it didn’t think the project was necessary, that the fire department underestimated the cost of its project and the city didn’t have the $3.9 million in matching funds it claimed the plan required.

But with the legislation that puts the state Dormitory Authority in charge, Pheffer believes the vollies’ long quest for a new headquarters may be nearing an end.

“The city never moved on this project,” Pheffer said. “There still may be a bump here or there along the way, but at least now it looks like this thing will finally get done.”

There is no timeline as to when the project may be completed, or even started, but Pheffer said the legislation is the first step towards bringing the project out of the four-year limbo it’s been in.

The new firehouse will be an “exciting project” she said, citing among other things that it will be partially powered by solar energy.

Though the legislation is expected to finally get the project moving, Pheffer said, considering the delays that have already occurred she understands there still may be skepticism.

“I think we’ll all be happy when we see a shovel in the ground,” she said.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Visits Gateway NPS at Jamaica Bay Visitors Center with Rep Weiner and Rep Meeks...

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visits Jamaica Bay Visitor Center and walks West Pond Path with Congressman Anthony Weiner and Congressman Greg Meeks on Monday, July 26th...

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I Want to Keep Aqueduct Racetrack Op/Ed by State Senator Joe Addabbo...

When will the long-awaited redevelopment of the Big A become the "big ahhhhh"?

It could be just 18 months away, if the last bidder is finally approved by the NYS Lottery.

The VLT bidding process is now eight years along, under three different governors. Last Thursday, the general public heard from the remaining bidder, Genting New York. Could this be one of the last steps toward finally realizing the saving of Aqueduct? It better be.
I intend to continue working with whoever operates at Aqueduct on the issues that concern my constituents such as traffic patterns, jobs and public safety. Genting said they are committed to addressing the issues raised by the community and plan on being credible, long-term neighbors.

The local jobs potential and impact on local small businesses is a major issue when discussing the Aqueduct proposal.

According to Genting, upwards of 800 permanent jobs and 1,300 construction jobs are planned. They will offer employees a highly competitive wage and work with the city's unions. Genting expects to buy goods and services in excess of $30 million annually, like laundry and taxi services, office supplies, flowers and other supplies from local businesses.

These businesses like restaurants, car washes, pizzerias, gas stations, card and gift shops, florists and many more could experience an opportunity for increased business not seen in decades. Construction alone will represent more than $200 million in capital spending, a good portion targeted to local workers. Genting also pledged to donate 1 percent of net profits to worthy area projects, which could result in $350,000 the first year and up to $500,000 for each following year.

Tax revenues will generate education funding in excess of $300 million annually and home values should rise. In Queens, the spike in home foreclosures and loss of jobs during this extended recession could be relieved.

For those who don’t want the casino at Aqueduct, the alternative use of its property could be far worse for the residents of the state, city and surrounding communities.

Forget for the moment the estimated 2,000 jobs. Put aside the tremendous financial gain to the city and state. Let’s not talk about the restaurants, shops and long-term benefit to local small businesses.

In order to keep Aqueduct as a beloved racetrack and icon in Queens and keep eager developers from building practically anything as-of-right, without any community input that would have a long-term detrimental effect, the Genting proposal seems to be a necessity.

With the Aqueduct property dangerously zoned C-8, the Genting proposal is better than the negative alternative, and we need to move forward with the Lottery selection process.

No matter which operator eventually wins out, my constituents need to let out a long-held sigh of relief, because they've endured this long bidding process waiting for jobs, waiting for a small business booster, waiting for help with foreclosures, waiting for increased property values, waiting for help with school funding and for community groups.

“And they’re off!” at the racetrack means the horses have left the gate; now we need to cross the finish line with the selection process for an operator at Aqueduct.

Joseph Addabbo is the State Senator for District 15 in Queens.

Anthony Como Must Pay $13,000 Back to NYC CFB by Chris Bragg - City Hall News


The recent Campaign Finance Board decision fining Anthony Como $12,484 for violating campaign finance law is yet another example of this career politician's utter disregard for the law and New York' s overburdened taxpayers. Anthony Como only announced his candidacy for the State Senate after losing out on two patronage jobs; one with the Board of Elections and one as a commissioner of NYC Housing Authority.

The people of Queens deserve better than an opportunistic, unemployed politician as their State Senator. New Yorkers need a State Senator who cares about them, abides by the law and is truly interested in improving our schools, lowering taxes and creating jobs. Anthony Como has shown once again that he does not meet those criteria.

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Former New York City Council Member Anthony Como, a Republican who is running for State Senate in Queens against Joe Addabbo, must return nearly $13,000 in unspent and misspent funds to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, according to a July 22 audit released by the CFB.

The charges stem from his losing 2008 general election Council loss to Elizabeth Crowley. The repayment includes $6,800 that was spent impermissibly on phone and copy machine contracts for his campaign office that spanned well beyond Election Day, repayments of unspent campaign funds, and $100 spent on a newspaper ad for the Holy Child Jesus Team Drama Club that the CFB deemed not campaign related. The campaign was also assessed $500 in penalties.

Como, an attorney, and his Council campaign treasurer, Laura Schreiner, are personally liable to pay off the nearly $13,000 balance, which the Board must receive by August 25, according to the audit.

Como’s Council re-election campaign’s most recent CFB disclosure, filed in January 2010, showed only $5,200 in his account. After an inquiry from City Hall, Como said he would double check whether he had enough money in the account to pay the $13,000 balance.

“I’ve been busy with the State Senate campaign, but I’m going to find out,” he said. “I believe the money should be in the account.”

Eric Friedman, a spokesman for the New York City Campaign Finance Board, said that Como would likely be allowed to pay off his remaining debt through his State Senate campaign’s account.

But there is not yet enough money there to pay off the balance either: according his July 15 filing, Como had raised $17,600, had spent $13,700, and had only $3,900 on hand.

Update 4:44 p.m.

John Conklin, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections, confirmed that Como could transfer money, if he so desires, from his State Senate account to pay off debt from his Council campaign.

A Weprin For Avella by Lisa L. Colangelo - The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

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The gracious Lisa L. Colangelo of the DN's Queens Bureau sums up the latest dynastic endorsement for state Senate hopeful Tony Avella:

Former Democratic City Councilman Tony Avella of Queens is following up his recently-announced challenge to long-time State Sen. Frank Padavan by unveiling a series of endorsements.
Today he got the backing of his former Council colleague David Weprin.
“Tony Avella and I served together in the City Council for eight years and there was no one more independent,” Weprin said. “While we didn’t always agree on every issue, Tony was guided by principle and did what he thought was right for his constituents and for New York City.”
Although it’s no surprise that a fellow Democrat would endorse Avella over Padavan, a Republican, Weprin’s last name does carry weight in eastern Queens.
David’s brother, Mark, recently took over his City Council seat. In turn, David took Mark’s vacant state Assembly seat in a recent special election.

The Weprin political dynasty dates back to the early 1970s when their dad, Saul, was first elected to the Assembly.

Padavan was seated for his first term in the state Senate around the same time. The popular lawmaker has continued to win re-election, even though registered Democrats are the majority in the 11th district.

“It’s crucial, it’s very big in this area,” Avella said of the Weprin endorsement.
“And there’s more to come.”

Local 1500 United Food and Commercial Workers has already thrown its support behind Avella for the November election.

Surprise Move in Election Battle by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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1 of 3 Dems Withdraws

THE RACE for a western Queens Assembly seat took an abrupt turn last week, when one of three Democrats dropped out.

Jeremiah Frei-Pearson said he halted his campaign in order to avoid a messy primary battle.

That leaves Democratic Party pick Aravella Simotas and former local school board president John Ciafone to battle it out in September.

"This certainly changes the dynamics of the race," said Ciafone, a 40-year-old lawyer who touted himself as the most conservative of the candidates.
Frei-Pearson, according to Ciafone, may have been able to siphon some progressive votes from Simotas. They both support gay marriage, while he opposes it.

Ciafone, however, must first fight off charges that he doesn't live full-time in the 36th District.

Earlier this month, he told the Daily News he used his mother's home as his main residence, while his wife and children live in another part of Astoria outside district lines.

He and his family also spend time at a $1.7 million waterfront mansion in Whitestone he called a "summer place."

"This is my home, this is my neighborhood," he said of Astoria. "I was born and raised here."

The seat is currently held by Democratic Assemblyman Michael Gianaris, who is running for state Sen. George Onorato's seat in the fall. Onorato announced earlier this year that he will not seek reelection.

Ciafone admitted he faces an uphill battle against Simotas, a 31-year-old lawyer and Community Board 1 member who has the support of local Democratic elected officials, including Gianaris, Onorato and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.

But he said his conservative stance on gay marriage and support of charter schools may help him gain some votes.

Simotas, who also grew up in Astoria, downplayed any fallout from Frei-Pearson's decision to leave the race.

"I'm continuing to do what I have been doing all along, which is knocking on doors and speaking with voters about issues important to our neighborhood," said Simotas. "Nothing has really changed."

Her campaign said Simotas has support among all sectors of the community, including Onorato, who was criticized for his opposition to gay marriage.
Frei-Pearson said he was troubled by the fact that in order to win he would have had to run a "very negative race" against fellow Democrats.

The 32-year-old lawyer said he liked some of Simotas' ideas, but stopped short of saying he would endorse her.

"I will certainly do what I can to make sure we get a progressive into the seat," he said.

Public Advocate de Blasio and AQE Report: DOE Fails to Evaluate Impact of School Closings and Co-Locations on Children's Education...

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) today released a report that examines how the Department of Education (DOE) makes decisions regarding major changes in school buildings utilization. The report focuses on the DOE’s practice of having schools share building space, also known as co-locations and school closings procedures. If not well planned and coordinated, co-locations, along with school closings, can disrupt students’ education and decrease their access to school facilities such as classrooms, gymnasiums and cafeterias.

The report comes weeks after an appellate court prevented from closing 19 schools because the DOE failed to follow the law's parental engagement requirements and adequately evaluate the impact these changes have on school services. The report findings suggest that these same problems exist in the DOE's process to co-locate schools.

"We cannot improve our education system if the DOE ends up shortchanging students while it is trying to create better schools," said Public Advocate de Blasio. "This report essentially asks Chancellor Klein not to make the same mistakes he made when he tried to close 19 schools earlier this year. The DOE must conduct a meaningful information process that explains to parents how changes in school buildings will affect their children's education and gives them an opportunity to provide feedback."

“This report demonstrates why educational impacts must be the centerpiece in making decisions about school closings and co-locations. The Chancellor’s ongoing assertion that DOE’s shortcomings in these decisions were strictly ‘procedural’ is not reality based—the DOE simply did not do the required analysis of the educational impacts,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “The parent survey offers valuable insights into how to improve the process—answering parents’ questions in public meetings would be a good start.” 

"Under our co-location the therapy rooms were lost, my daughter's physical therapist was shifted from a therapy room to a locker room. Her occupational therapy was shifted to the library where she had to receive occupational therapy next to another student who was also receive occupational therapy while at the same time the library had a class or workshop going on.  She needs therapy on a one-on-one basis.  The result is that the quality of the therapy is not what it needs to be. This is not something the DOE looked at when they decided to co-locate the schools.  One-third of the students in my daughter's school are in special ed.  These students are lost in the shuffle of the co-location process."  Lydia Bellachecne, Parent Association President, PS 15, Brooklyn

 “The DOE did not notify the parents.  If the principal had not mentioned it to us we would not have known they were planning to close the school,” said Evette Chico, Vice President, Parent Association, Maxwell High School, Brooklyn.  “Last year I was the Parent Association President and I found out about the hearings after the fact. In fact I was on the School Leadership Team and nobody from DOE talked to us about co-sponsoring the hearing. There are not a lot of vocational schools in Brooklyn, the kids who graduate from Maxwell are going to have a career. My daughter is studying cosmetology, not too many schools offer that program.”

“Given the overwhelming evidence of parental dissatisfaction & lack of transparency as proven by the surveys of the Public Advocates Office & the Alliance for Quality Education, CEJ stands firmly & urgently calls for a Temporary Moratorium on School Closings and Co-locations until there is an Independent Analysis of Impact,” said Rodrick Daley, Parent Leader at the Center for Educational Justice. The courts and the surveys by the Public Advocates office have agreed that the current Educational Impact Statements upon which decisions have been made are inadequate. Our children deserve accurate and thoughtful consideration of the impact any changes will have on their future.” 


The report includes an analysis of 39 Educational Impact Statement (EIS) --the official document that is supposed to provide an assessment of the impact that a proposed change will have on student’s education— including statements for 19 schools that were slated for closure this year, and covering 25 of the 66 schools that the Panel for Educational Policy approved for co-location in the 2010-2011 school year.

The analysis shows that not one EIS articulated a clear plan for the educational improvement for the affected students.  Specifically on EIS for co-locations, 13 out of the 20 EIS analyzed asserts that the proposed change will “provide high quality school options" but they failed to explain how these schools will in fact “provide high quality education” to their districts. 

In addition to relying heavily on boilerplate language, the EIS did not address how the proposed changes would impact other educational variables, such as art and music space, afterschool programming, early education programs, physical education space and other valuable school resources.

Furthermore, the report also finds that parents were not given enough time to ask questions and comment on the EIS, with 11 of the 25 schools examined only having between two and six days to provide and receive feedback.

This report also includes the results of a survey of 874 parents from 34 affected schools.  The analysis and survey find that the DOE has not provided adequate information for members of the school community to understand and comment about how students will be affected by these decisions, and most parents surveyed said that the DOE could improve the process by making the EIS more clear, and providing more opportunities for parents to learn about and understand proposed changes in their children’s schools.

Among the main findings revealed by the survey are:

·         Parents don’t know how the programs in their school will be impacted by a co-location: 42% of parents responded that the DOE did not provide specific information on how existing education programs will be affected by school changes.
·         Parents whose children’s schools will be co-located beginning in September think this change will result in less access to gymnasiums, classrooms, cafeterias, and auditoriums. At least a third of parents surveyed reported that their children’s access to the following areas will suffer after the co-location: cluster rooms (44%), gymnasium (41%), cafeteria (43%), classroom space (41%), and auditorium (35%).
·         Educational Impact Statements, which are supposed to thoroughly evaluate and explain the impact of a co-location or closure, are not widely distributed and are deeply flawed: 62% of parents did not know about the EIS (44%) or knew about the EIS but did not see it (18 %); and 52% of parents said the DOE did not address questions about proposed school changes.
·         Parents overwhelmingly responded that the engagement process can be improved and have valuable suggestions, many of which the Public Advocate and AQE recommend the DOE adopt. 70% of parents said that process can be improved and a significant number offered a variety of suggestions including providing more specific information about changes to school programs, additional opportunities for parental comment on program changes, a more detailed EIS and informational meetings for parents at their schools before the official hearing and comment period begins.


The report offers eight viable recommendations for policy improvements by the DOE and at the State level that aim to make school changes less disruptive, including the following:

1.      Provide meaningful Educational Impact Statements. The EIS must be substantially improved to include a detailed and understandable analysis of potential effects of the co-location and closings, including: safety issues, such as ensuring sufficient access to fire exits; impact on students who are English language learners and students with disabilities; impact on existing educational programs; and specific plans to guarantee the provision of physical education and arts education programs.
2.      Create school building councils. The DOE should require all schools slated to share space to create permanent School Building Councils comprised of school administrators, staff and parents which will evaluate space decisions for co-located schools.
3.      Ensure greater transparency, access to information and opportunities for involvement. The DOE should make the EIS more widely available at schools and the process more transparent, including posting transcripts of all public hearings online, and webcasting school-based public hearings and PEP meetings.
4.      Require school-based informational meetings. Schools should conduct informational meetings with parents prior to the start of the official hearing process to discuss the EIS with members of the school community and provide parents opportunities to review and discuss the proposed changes, as well as have their questions and concerns addressed.
5.      Do not hinder school growth.  The DOE should refrain from implementing co-locations that require schools currently not slated for closure to reduce enrollment or to scale back expansion plans that are already in progress.
6.      Develop uniform standards for co-location and closure decisions.  The DOE should develop, make publicly available and utilize clear and consistent standards for its decisions regarding co-locations and closures
7.   Study the impact of closures and co-locations before proposing additional major school utilization changes.  The DOE should delay proposing new closure and co-locations for a period of up to six months to allow sufficient time for an independent analysis of the impact on students of closures and co-locations is completed.
8.      NYSED and State Legislature should monitor City’s compliance with current law and modify the law if necessary. If changes to improve the process to implement school changes are not implemented, the State Legislature and the State Education Department should act to strengthen the education law’s public engagement requirements to incorporate such changes.

The full report is available at and