Friday, October 21, 2016

Build-It-Back deadline will be missed

From NBC:

The "Build it Back" program will not make its goal to rebuild Sandy-ravaged homes by the end of the year. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Willets Point businesses may get evicted from the Bronx

From NY1:

An 80,000-square-foot warehouse in the South Bronx was just renovated.

It was supposed to house a collection of 45 auto-repair businesses, but it stands empty. There is not a car in sight.

For years, the 45 businesses operated in the shadow of Shea Stadium, and then Citi Field, in Willets Point, Queens. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration wanted them out to make way for a $3 billion residential and retail development. The city paid them $7.6 million to move to the South Bronx, but their money ran out before their new home - that warehouse - was completed.

The 45 businesses operate as the Sunrise Cooperative. Their money gone, the businesses face eviction by the owner of the warehouse, but they have filed for bankruptcy hoping to prevent that. They want the city's Economic Development Corporation to provide $3 million more so they can pay their bills and finish construction.

And the auto workers aren't asking for a handout. They are willing to pay the city back to simply complete the project.

But the EDC tells NY1 the businesses should look elsewhere to borrow money.

Salamanca says it's the city's responsibility to help these mostly immigrant businesses.

"These businesses didn't ask to be put in this position," he said.

Electeds knew about Queens shelter plan in 2014 - did nothing

During a debate held in Rockaway on Wednesday evening, Joseph Addabbo revealed that Queens elected officials were told by Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Emma Wolfe at a meeting in 2014 that Queens was about to be bombarded with homeless shelters because we didn't have "our fair share" of them.

These fantastic representatives of ours strangely sat on this information and allowed the rollout to happen rather than raise holy hell in an effort to stop it. And they think they deserve re-election?

In fairness, the response of the challenger, Mike Conigliaro, is presented.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Elizabeth Crowley knew about Maspeth shelter in JUNE, told no one

Something a bit earth-shattering - at least if you live in Maspeth - happened last night at Borough Hall. As you are likely aware, DHS Commissioner Steven Banks gave a presentation to the Borough Board. He also took questions from the board members. Elizabeth Crowley got into it with him. He then responded by stating, "When I met with you in private in June and explained to you what our plan would be, I never said any of the things that you said." You can hear the exchange yourself by downloading the file from here. The exchange begins at 0:56:06.

So, despite what Crowley, Addabbo and Markey would like everyone to believe, this was known about long before that secret Maspeth Library meeting where she acted surprised and outraged in front of members of the community board and the community at large. And why would she meet with Banks privately, if not to make a deal?

John Ciafone redefines "plaza"

This property has a great history of complaints. One of the most entertaining we have come across.
Definition of plaza per Merriam Webster:

Full Definition of plaza
a : a public square in a city or town
b : an open area usually located near urban buildings and often featuring walkways, trees and shrubs, places to sit, and sometimes shops
: a place on a thoroughfare (as a turnpike) at which all traffic must temporarily stop (as to pay tolls)
: an area adjacent to an expressway which has service facilities (as a restaurant, gas station, and restrooms)
: shopping center

Preet scrutinizing campaign donors

From the NY Times:

A federal investigation into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fund-raising has zeroed in on whether donations were exchanged for beneficial city action in about a half-dozen cases, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.

The matters under scrutiny, the people said, involve, among others, a company whose soundstages are used to film television shows such as “The Good Wife” and “Blue Bloods” that wanted to expand its operations, and that depends on city permits; those connected to a lucrative development deal on the site of a former hospital that needed city approvals; a popular restaurant and wedding site that was negotiating a new lease with the city; and a garbage bag company seeking a city contract.

Some of the earliest and most generous donors to the Campaign for One New York are among those whose contributions — along with their actions and those of the mayor and members of his administration and campaign staff — are under scrutiny, several people with knowledge of the inquiry said.

The first two donations to the group, made on Jan. 24, 2014, just weeks after Mr. de Blasio was sworn in, were for $25,000 each and came from Broadway Stages, the soundstage company seeking to expand, and the company’s president, Gina Argento.

By then, Ms. Argento and her company were well known to the mayor. She was the second-largest bundler of contributions for his 2013 run — city records show she brought in over $100,000 for the campaign and transition — and even spent $250 to rent the costumes that Mr. de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, wore at a 2014 Halloween party for children at Gracie Mansion. (The company said it also paid for costumes for more than 100 children from homeless shelters who attended the party.)

One of Ms. Argento’s companies also gave $10,000 to the Putnam County Democratic Committee in October 2014, when the mayor was urging his donors to support Democratic efforts to wrest control of the State Senate.

Broadway Stages also gave $35,000 to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, a charity that is led by Ms. McCray. Ms. Argento served on the group’s advisory board until July.

John J. Ciafone, a lawyer who is married to Ms. Argento and represents her and Broadway Stages, would not confirm the existence of a federal inquiry, but said that neither she nor the company had engaged in wrongdoing. Neither, he said, had sought help from the administration for Broadway Stages’ expansion plans, which include new soundstages in Brooklyn and on Staten Island, in exchange for its contributions.

“Broadway Stages and Gina Argento has not gotten a penny from the city for any of these projects — not a penny!” he said.

Mr. Ciafone suggested that his wife and the company had been pressured to donate. Their business, he said, relied directly on the discretion of the mayor’s office, which issues film permits from the film commissioner.

“They put a lot of pressure on people like Broadway Stages and I’m sure the other film people to give money to the mayor, to give money to C.O.N.Y.,” he said, referring to the mayor’s nonprofit.

Mr. Ciafone said there could be “repercussions in terms of not contributing,” adding, “People don’t understand that.”

Mr. Ciafone said the pressure had not come from Mr. de Blasio himself, but rather “from several people — fund-raisers, staff fund-raisers, several people on behalf of the mayor” whom he could not name.

He also denied suggestions that Ms. Argento had engaged in a so-called straw donor scheme, saying Mr. de Blasio’s campaign had attributed donors to her whom he said she had not solicited.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

One night only...Steven Banks!

QUEENS, NY – The Queens Borough Board, chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz, will hear a presentation from Steven Banks, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Social Services, during the Board’s meeting on Wednesday, October 19, at 5:30 PM in Queens Borough Hall. Commissioner Banks will discuss the state of homelessness in Queens.

WHAT: Borough Board to Review the State of Homelessness in Queens with Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks
WHEN: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 5:30 PM
WHERE: Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens
WHO: MELINDA KATZ, Queens Borough President, Members of the QUEENS BOROUGH BOARD
STEVEN BANKS, Commissioner, New York City Department of Social Services

Maybe someone can ask him about this, from the NY Times, August 28, 1991:
Steve Banks, of the Legal Aid Society, called the commercial hotel alternative "poorly conceived."

"For the city to be using the Yellow Pages to find commercial hotels for families flies in the face of everything we know about how to solve this problem," said Mr. Banks.

Feds amend flood maps

From Crains:

Federal officials have agreed to amend New York City's flood maps a year after the de Blasio administration filed an appeal on the grounds the charts were too pessimistic.

The new maps will likely shrink the boundaries that dictate who must purchase flood insurance, and may prescribe lower flood elevations, which would save some building owners money in flood-insurance premiums.

"Our city needs precise flood maps that reflect real risks, both today and years from now—and we have to do that fairly," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

Flood insurance is required for any homeowner in a flood zone with a federally backed mortgage, but for decades the government subsidized premiums, which came back to haunt the National Flood Insurance Program after payouts from a series of catastrophic storms depleted its cash reserves.