Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Teen, 19, Drowns In Rockaway Beach After Cutting School

Queens

A nineteen year-old drowned this afternoon at Rockaway Beach after cutting school with friends.

The tragic event occurred near Beach 67th Street shortly after 2:30 p.m.  First responders pulled him out of the water an hour later shortly after 3:30 p.m.  

NYPD harbor and aviation, FDNY and US Coast Guard participated in the search and rescue.

The teen attended Newtown High School in Elmhurst school.  

Lifeguards begin working for the season on Saturday.

Read More:

Teenager Drowns at Rockaway Beach in Queens
New York Times - May 25, 2016 - By Rick Rojas

Thursday, May 19, 2016

NYPD Target Battery Park Ticket Scammers Preying On Tourists

The NYPD and the Parks Department police have dramatically stepped up their enforcement efforts in Battery Park and Peter Minuit Plaza adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry to combat illegal ticket sales of local attractions that target tourists.  The shady business took off in the summer of 2015. Authorities have made numerous arrests and issued hundreds of summons during the crackdown. 
Manhattan
The NYPD carried out a series of raids on aggressive Battery Park ticket scammers early Wednesday, nabbing them in their homes, police officials said.
Twelve suspected scammers, most with prior criminal records, were picked up by police across the city on charges of fraudulent accosting, police said. Two others were busted for parole violations.
Seven more people were still being sought as part of “Operation Tour de Force” late Wednesday for peddling unauthorized trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The raids signaled that the NYPD is now determined to enforce the law against con artists who use misleading sales pitches to sell tickets to some of the city’s most high-profile tourist attractions.
The focus on fraudsters started in February, after Arkansas tourist Jeff White, 33, suffered a fractured skull at Battery Park when he was punched in the face by an illegal vendor irate White wouldn’t buy a Liberty Island ticket. 

“We learned that a number of complaints were coming in from citizens about aggressive ticket sellers … other acts of violence and assaults and began to dig into this,” said John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism.
Investigators learned that of the 106 vendors they identified, about half are parolees, officials said.
Eighteen of them were convicted sex offenders, about half of those on rape charges, police said. Others had been convicted on assault, drugs and robbery charges.
Typically, the aggressive dealers will claim the tours they are hawking allow people to disembark at the statue and at the famed immigration depot. In reality, the tours merely go close to the attractions but never dock.
A company that runs these tours contracts with five firms that hire the ticket sellers, police said. Those firms frequently hire parolees, Miller said.
“It's almost like a day laborer situation,” NYPD Inspector Matthew Whelan said. “If you need work, this is a place where you can go to work.”
To build their case, cops sent undercovers in to pose as tourists. State parole officials assisted by identifying the ticket sellers who had been in prison.
Miller questioned whether parolees should be in this line of work, which involves face-to-face encounters with tourists, often with children in tow.
Early Wednesday, warrant squad cops walked suspects into the 7th Precinct.
Several of them denied the allegations. “Ain't nobody scamming nobody in Battery Park,” one handcuffed man said.
Rafael Abreu, marketing director for Statue Cruises, the only licensed carrier for trips from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty, said Wednesday there’s been a marked improvement in police enforcement of illegal ticket vendors over the past month.
“There’s been much heavier enforcement throughout the area,” he said. 
Read More:
New York Daily News - May 18, 2016 - By Ryan Sit 

New York Post - May 18, 2016 - By Tina Moore

Another Ticket Vendor Arrested in Battery Park
A Walk In The Park  - June 6, 2015 

A Walk In The Park  - May 30, 2015 




Wednesday, May 18, 2016

NY State Backs Out Of Pier 6 Housing - City Plans To Move Ahead Anyway




“We’re going forward anyway,”  - Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development & Chair - Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation board.

A rendering of the proposed development of Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6.
 Rendering of the proposed development of Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6.  The Project — a partnership between RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group — would build two buildings: a 26-story market-rate tower of 116 condominiums and a smaller, approximately 12-story tower with 188 apartments.  The developer agreed to pay the city $98 million, down from $105 million, as well as a modest annual rent.  

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation is trying to justify the need to build  additional housing to help pay for the park.  In 2015 the City’s Comptroller’s office asked the corporation to explore the possibility of issuing bonds to finance future capital improvements instead.   (image: Oda/Ral DEVELOPMENT SERVICES/OLIVER



Brooklyn
Despite a sudden reversal by New York State officials, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio is forging ahead with plans for two residential towers in a park on the Brooklyn waterfront that would include market-rate and subsidized apartments as well as a school, according to the New York Times. 
The project at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park has encountered a series of delays since it was announced in May 2014, including a lawsuit brought by some nearby residents, park advocates and elected officials.
New York City settled the suit one year ago and, in recent weeks, negotiated a new agreement for the towers with a developer and state officials.
All parties had planned to announce the agreement this week, but over the weekend, state officials abruptly pulled back, citing potential conflicts of interest. City officials say they will not be deterred.
“We’re going forward anyway,” Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said on Tuesday. “We stand by the rationale for the project. It puts the park in a better position to address its maritime and capital needs. And we have an obligation to build affordable housing, particularly in these expensive and rapidly changing neighborhoods.”
Brooklyn Bridge Park is supposed to pay for itself by allowing a limited amount of luxury residential development. After his election, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, pushed to include affordable housing.
Ms. Glen, who is also chairwoman of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, a nonprofit responsible for the park’s operation, said the project could progress solely under the authority of the corporation. But critics contend that the state has to agree to the changes that the city has made to the state-approved project plan before the developer can proceed.
Under the new agreement, the developer — a partnership between RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group — would build two buildings: a 26-story market-rate tower of 116 condominiums and a smaller, approximately 12-story tower with 188 apartments, 131 earmarked for low- and moderate-income families. The developer agreed to pay the city $98 million, down from $105 million, as well as a modest annual rent.
Whatever the merits of the project, the city’s decision will almost certainly deepen what has become a long-running feud between the mayor and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, and spur another lawsuit opposing the project.
In recent days, the state officials raised questions about the developer and a Chinese company, China Vanke, which has invested in the project. RAL, like many developers, contributed money to the Campaign for One New York, a now defunct nonprofit that Mr. de Blasio created to promote his mayoral agenda. RAL gave $10,000 in 2015, one month before it was selected for the Pier 6 project.
City officials say RAL submitted a proposal with a better financial deal than other applicants, which is why it was chosen.
Vanke is also peripherally involved in a Manhattan project currently under investigation by Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general.
“We will not move forward with any changes until we are fully confident that all newly raised concerns have been addressed,” said Jonah Bruno, a spokesman for the state’s economic development agency, Empire State Development.
But the developer and the city say that the information about RAL has been public for a year, and Vanke has been an equity partner in the deal from the beginning.
Robert A. Levine, a principal at RAL, said in a statement on Tuesday that the developer had contributed money to the campaign in support of the mayor’s work on universal pre-K.
“We’re proud of the plan we put forward,” Mr. Levine stated. “Just when we thought we’d worked to reach a positive resolution for a great project, the state called off its vote. We’re shocked and disappointed.”
Councilman Stephen Levin and State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, two Democrats whose districts include Pier 6, both oppose building any additional housing in the park.
Mr. Levin and Mr. Squadron insist that, before moving forward, the city needs state approval for the amendment to the state-approved project plan for Pier 6.

Read More:

City Pushes Ahead on Plan for Towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park
New York Times - May 17, 2016 - By Charles V. Bagli

Deal to Put Towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park Is Set Back
The Wall Street Journal - May 17, 2016 - By Josh Dawsey

Comptroller To Brooklyn Bridge Park - Explore Using Bonds To Pay For Capital Improvements
A Walk In The Park - September 17, 2015 
http://awalkintheparknyc.blogspot.com/2015/09/comptroller-to-brooklyn-bridge-park.html





Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Brooklyn Bridge Park Executive Raises As high As 50%






















Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation saw her base salary jump to $190,550 in 2014 from $165,000.   She oversees 85 acres of parkland. City Parks commissioner Mitchell Silver receives a salary of $ 208,000. He is responsible for 30,000 acres of parkland.

Brooklyn

Executive members of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. received raises as high as nearly 50% between 2013 and 2014, reigniting criticism of their insistence that residential development is needed to pay the park's expenses.

Regina Myer, president of the corporation overseeing the park, saw her base salary bumped to $190,550 in 2014 from $165,000, for example, while General Counsel Suma Mandel got a raise to $125,278 from $85,000, according to publicly available records.

The raises approved during the Bloomberg administration ranged from 11% to 47%, but were not nearly enough to have changed park managers' calculations about how to maintain the waterfront property. The base salary increase for five of the seven executive members totaled $118,990—a fraction of what the corporation predicts will be the $16 million annual operating cost.

But the board did not appear to have discussed the raises in any public meetings. And the revelation that they received a bump while pushing for residential development to fund operations and maintenance has given fresh ammunition to a community group fighting a pair of apartment towers planned for the park’s Pier 6, near the terminus of Atlantic Avenue.

“I find it hard to understand how this park can offer such employee pay increases when similar city agencies haven't awarded any pay raises at all in years, all the while this park is claiming that they don't have enough money and therefore need to build more housing,” said Todd Castilow, a nominated member of Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council, who researched the salary information in public databases.

The new salaries of the executive team are roughly in line with those of counterparts at the city Department of Parks and Recreation and other organizations. Hudson River Park Trust head Madelyn Wils, for example, earned $175,000 in total pay in 2014, according to SeeThroughNY. In other cases, executives at Brooklyn Bridge Park still made less. After her nearly 50% raise, Mandel made about $35,000 less than the general counsel at the Parks Department, a much larger agency with 5,000 properties and 2.6 million trees.

"The salaries reported here are entirely appropriate and consistent with those of park staff across the city," a spokesman for the corporation said in a statement. "This is simply another attempt by a small handful of Pier 6 project opponents to distract from the real issues facing the park."

Staff salaries are proposed by Myer and approved by the board of directors, which also determines and approves the salary for the president, the corporation said, adding that the compensation was approved as part of the operating budget in a public meeting. In addition, salaries topping $100,000 are reported annually to a state budget office.

Dick Dadey, head of the good-government group Citizens Union, said that while executives who run parks should be fairly compensated, government institutions such as the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. should take care to be transparent about wages, especially when engaged in a protracted battle such as the years-long disagreement about how much development is needed to fund upkeep and operations. Dadey sits on the board of the park’s advocacy arm, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which is separate from the corporation.

“The more transparent an operation is, the less subject it is to accusations that it is hiding something,” said Dadey. “And when the park corporation is under attack as it is, it’s even more important to be as up-front about decisions that it makes.”

Opponents of housing in the park believe that the state will soon vote on the proposed development at Pier 6. It calls for two buildings to be constructed by the team of RAL Development Services and Oliver Realty Group.

Read More:

High costs of maintaining Brooklyn Bridge Park didn't stop its execs from getting big raises

Teen Shot With BB Gun During Fight in Queens Park

Queens

A fourteen-year-old was shot in a Queens park on Sunday, NYC Park Advocates has learned.  

Two groups met up in Kissena Corridor Park to fight. As they began, a male Asian wearing a black hooded sweatshirt pulled out a BB gun and fired one shot hitting the victim in the right knee. 

Six shots were fired in total according to police. 

The victim walked into NY Presbyterian seeking treatment. 

The incident occurred on May 15th at 1:50 p.m. inside the park near 45-15 Colden Street. 

-  Geoffrey Croft

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rat Bag Peddler Making A Mint As Result of $ Sit Down With Mayor


Mint-X bags being used by the Parks Department.  (click on image to enlarge)

City-Wide

By Geoffrey Croft

Price of Doing Business With the City These Days. The financial benefit for the Queens-based company that markets rat repellant bag is far higher than previously known. 

Shorty after winning a $ 15,000 Parks Department no-bid contract which lasted from March to June 2015, the city issued another contract this time seeking EPA registered rodent repellant trash bags. The JAD Corp is the only company that makes such bags. Central Poly Corp. won the contract. The company had an agreement with Joseph Dussich the owner of JAD to buy his “Mint-X” and resell them to the city.  

Central Poly Corp won the more than $ 3 million dollar contract to supply the bags to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services as part of a larger deal.  The Parks Department in turn gets the bags from DCAS. The bags can now be found in in park facilities all five boroughs.   

Originally marketed as “Repel-X” bags, the product is now called Mint-X, and advertises as the World’s First EPA-Registered Rat Repellent Trash Bags.

Joseph Dussich had been peddling his invention since at least 2007 without success with the Parks Department.  In 2008 the agency purchased $ 800 worth of the bags but not since.  That changed overnight after Mr. Dussich donated $100,000 in two separate $ 50,000 payments to Campaign for One New York, a group De Blasio’s campaign manager,   Bill Hyers helped establish in 2014 to promote the mayor’s agenda.  Ten days after the second donation, Mr. Dussich was able to arrange a meeting with Mr. de Blasio at City Hall.  One month after Dussich’s second donation, the Parks Department bought $15,000 of his garbage bags. 

The contracts are being scrutinized by investigators.

Parks Department lawyers recently prevented the FBI from interviewing parks employees involved with the deal when the feds showed up unannounced at the agencies’ Filth Avenue headquarters as part of the U.S. attorney’s office investigation into whether the mayor violated federal laws.  The Mayor’s alleged “pay to play” fundraising tactics are the subject of several investigations including the Manhattan DA, and the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, a New York State ethics panel that has been investigating the activities of the nonprofit political group tied to Mayor Bill de Blasio since May 2015.

De Blasio's Campaign for One New York accepted millions of dollars from dozens of people and businesses currently doing or wishing to do business with the city. The scheme allowed the mayor to raise money outside the regulations of the city Campaign Finance Board.


A businessman whose dealings with the de Blasio administration are already under federal investigation used a middleman to profit from a nearly $6 million city contract for rat-repellent trash bags, The Post has learned.
Joseph Dussich and his Queens-based JAD Corp. of America spent nearly a decade futilely trying to convince the Parks Department to consider using his anti-rodent “Mint-X” garbage bags.
Dussich finally convinced Parks to test them out in spring 2015 as part of a $15,000 no-bid contract with his firm — after donating $100,000 to the Campaign for One New York, which was then the nonprofit fund-raising arm for the mayor.
That contract is now being scrutinized by federal and state investigators probing the mayor’s fund-raising activities, sources have told The Post.
But the probe hasn’t stopped Dussich’s janitorial-supply company from inserting itself into a much larger five-year, $5.9 million contract for more of the bags — thanks to a tailor-made city proposal for bids.
A few months after the Parks Department’s trial run of Mint-X, city officials took steps to ensure their agencies were heavily stocked with them for years to come by issuing a request for trash bags that have been officially “registered” with the US Environmental Protection Agency “to ward off rodents.”
Mint-X, its site proclaims, is the “world’s only EPA-registered, rodent-repelling trash bag.”
So when it came to the bidding process, JAD submitted a proposal to sell those bags directly to the city, as well as to provide other trash-can liners. As it turns out, the Mint-X maker lost out to a New Jersey competitor, who submitted a slightly lower bid, records show.
But JAD still came out a big winner. That’s because the competitor, Central Poly Corp., also had an agreement with Dussich to buy his “Mint-X” bags in bulk and resell them to the city.
“It sounds like the bid language was tailor-made to guarantee Dussich’s product would be sold to the city no matter what,” said Geoffrey Croft, of the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates.
“Not everyone has $100,000 to secure a meeting with the mayor and, as a result, be awarded a small fortune in contracts.”
Although Mint-X bags aren’t the only product Central Poly is providing the Department of Citywide Administrative Services through the contract, they represent more than $3 million of the deal, records show.
Dussich’s lawyer, Roland Riopelle, declined to say what his client’s share of the profits is but insisted that the “contract is a not a very profitable one” after costs are factored in.
“There’s no evidence of collusion between Mint-X and Central Poly on this bid,’’ he added. “It was a legitimate bid. The bags work wonderfully, and that’s why the city wants them.”
Dussich spent nearly a decade unsuccessfully lobbying Parks to use the bags, whose non-toxic mint scent is supposed to keep away rats, squirrels and other rodents.
His luck changed after he donated $50,000 in December 2014 and another $50,000 in February 2015 to the Campaign for One New York, which operated outside the campaign finance system, and which the mayor this year disbanded amid scrutiny of its handling.
Ten days after the second donation, Dussich was granted a private sit-down with de Blasio at City Hall, and a month later, JAD was handed the trial contract with the Parks Department.
Sam Biederman, a Parks Department spokesman, said the agency “decided there was enough demand” for the bags following the trial run and now buys them as needed through DCAS.
DCAS, the Mayor’s Office and Central Poly did not return messages seeking comment.
Additional reporting by Yoav Gonen
Read More:
New York Post - May 16, 2016 - By Rich Calder

I-Team: Rat-Repellent Trash Bag Maker Profiting From 
City Contract After Donation to Mayor's Nonprofit 
WNBC - May 16, 2016 - By Melissa Russo
A Walk In The Park - May 11, 2016  - By Geoffrey Croft 


Thursday, May 12, 2016

18-Year Old Stabbed In Back Playing Basketball By Gang

Queens 

By Geoffrey Croft

An 18-year-old Hispanic male playing basketball in a Jackson Heights playground was stabbed in the back on Monday night, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The victim suffered a collapsed lung, multilple stab wounds, and swelling and bruising to the face. He was hit with a chain and slashed with a broken Snapple bottle above his right eye.

The teen was playing in Travers Park  with some younger friends when they were suddenly surrounded by group of  between 7 - 9 unknown males.  

He was asked if he was a member of ABK - Always Banging Kings - a vicious rival of the Latin Kings. 

“Are you ABK,” one the assailants said according to police.   

The victim answered no.

They began viciously beating him. When he tried to run they caught up to him.

"I got you," one of the assailants told the victim before stabbing him several times.

One of his friends got hit with a chain in his mouth and got chased by man with a belt and a knife.

The vicious attack occurred on May 9th, in Travers Park near Northern Blvd bet. 77 St. and 78 St. & 34th Avenue within the confines of the 115 Pct.    

EMS responded to a call at 8:27pm.  He was transported to Elmhurst Hospital and listed as serious but in stable condition.

This is part of a series of gang attacks in the area according to police. 

In March, blocks away from Monday’s park attack, a gang stabbed a 16-year-old and his dog after asking the victim if he was ABK.  He was not believed to be a member. 

An hour and a half later a 23-year-old victim was also stabbed after being asked the same gang-related question.

This Latino gang-related violence issue has plagued  the surrounding neighborhoods for more than a decade. 

Read/View More:

EXCLUSIVE: TEEN SPEAKS OUT AFTER BRUTAL ATTACK AND STABBING BY GANG MEMBERS IN QUEENS
WABC - MAy 12, 2016 - By Josh Einiger