Astoria Times

Friday, Dec. 19, 2008

Jackson Heights

Flushing Meadows wildfire worries neighbors

The second brush fire in less than a year in the Flushing Meadows Corona Park area has residents concerned future fires will not just damage wetlands, but cause nearby homes to go up in flames, too. Comment.
Astoria Times

Koliba: Central European comfort food in Astoria

In the bone−chilling weather that’s inevitably coming soon, global warming notwithstanding, Central European cuisine is the kind of comfort food that can warm you up from the inside out. Rib−sticking soups, stews, roasts and dumplings — always dumplings — are the culinary vocabulary of Bohemia. Koliba, the Astoria eatery named for a locality in Bratislava, Slovakia, situated on the foothills of the Little Carpathians, serves up some of the most authentic Czech and Slovak fare to be found. Comment.
Astoria Times

Bus driver attacked in Queens Plaza

LONG ISLAND CITY — A city bus driver was attacked by a rider in Long Island City last week in an apparent robbery attempt, police said. Comment.
Astoria Times

Far Rock man forged postage labels: DA

FAR ROCKAWAY — Even during this busy time of the year, the U.S. Postal Service has time to track down people suspected of cheating the system, like one Far Rockaway businessman accused of forging postage labels to ship hundreds of packages for free, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. Comment.
Astoria Times

Former Far Rock man posted nude photos of ex

FAR ROCKAWAY — A man accused of continuing to post nude photos of his ex−wife on the Internet after a court ordered him to stop pleaded guilty last week, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. Comment.
Astoria Times

School bus kills woman on 8th Street in Astoria

ASTORIA — An Astoria woman was struck and killed by a school bus right outside her home Friday, police said. Comment.
Astoria Times

Woodside burglar sought

WOODSIDE — Police in the 108th Precinct were trying to identify a man they said broke into two apartments earlier this month. Comment.
Astoria Times

Man flashes woman, assaults cop: Brown

ASTORIA — A Long Island City man exposed himself to a woman on the street and then assaulted a police officer at his arraignment earlier this month, the Queens district attorney’s office said. Comment.
Astoria Times

Queens, Bklyn. 7−Eleven robbers busted: Police

FLUSHING — Four men, including one from Flushing, were arrested last week in connection with 19 robberies in Brooklyn and Queens, police said. Comment.
Letters

Christmas means love, not gifts

The Christmas season is a time to reflect and be good to one another. But I am troubled by what happened at the Wal−Mart in Valley Stream, L.I., where Jamaica man Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death for the sake of a few gifts. Comment.
Letters

Bill to ban bottled water will do harm, not good

The bill co−sponsored by City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) that was reported on Dec. 4 (“Ban city bottled water use to save money: Gioia bill,” Whitestone Times) is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt on the city’s part to cut costs and try to come out smelling like a rose for doing so. Comment.
Letters

Make volunteering for seniors the best gift to give this year

The national economic downturn has caused people in Queens to rethink their spending on holiday gifts. But the greatest gift this holiday season may be time spent volunteering for an elderly neighbor or community and faith−based organizations that serve seniors throughout the borough. Comment.
Letters

Queens Library will always strive to service residents as best it can

This year was a roller coaster ride, from swings in the economy, to the historic presidential election, to the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl. Some of it was fun, but much continues to be of concern here and internationally. I am hopeful 2009 brings with it peace and prosperity for all. Comment.
Letters

Bayside will benefit from new plantings

I want to thank the city Parks Department’s Forestry Division for the great job it did in planting new street trees in my section of Bayside. A nice variety were planted for all of us to enjoy in the years to come. Comment.
Letters

MTA East River bridge toll plan unfair to residents of Queens

On Dec. 4, the Commission on MTA Financing, chaired by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch, released its proposals. It included an inefficient and inequitable toll tax that makes little sense and merits rejection. Comment.
Editorial

Watered−down Logic

One might wonder what Councilman Eric Gioia was drinking when he came up with legislation that would prohibit the city from purchasing bottled water or water coolers for city offices and agencies. He says his legislation will save money, protect the environment and reduce traffic congestion. Comment.
Astoria Times

Caucus voting twice affected U.S. presidential race

One form of voting procedure is the caucus, which originated in Iowa. In recent years, this procedure spread to other states during political parties’ presidential primaries. This type of voting is different from our state’s voting machine system. Comment.
Astoria Times

Celebrate the diverse holidays found in Queens this month

Queens is the most diverse county in the United States, so during this holiday season, let’s take a look at some observances. Comment.
Astoria Times

Van Buren HS alum Madeline Khan became famous actress

Madeline Gail Wolfson, better known by her stage name as Madeline Kahn, was born in Boston but raised in Queens. Comment.
Astoria Times

Political clubs of Queens get into the holiday spirit

Is everyone overwhelmed by the fact the one week from today is Christmas? Have you taken care of all the millions of details it requires to produce this year’s most memorable holiday? Or are you like me, when every year you swear you will start early, but at the last minute run around trying to get everything together? Comment.
Astoria Times

Postal service receives customers’ ire as well as sympathy

Messenger of sympathy and love — Servant of parted friends. Comment.
Astoria Times

Have a broker sell your home

You decided that 2009 is when you are selling your home, but realize it is more cost−efficient and time−efficient to hire a real estate broker. In my Queens networking travels, I have spoken to many real estate brokers. Let’s talk about how to find the right broker to sell your home in this tough housing market. Comment.
Astoria Times

Queens mass transit riders get vintage treat for holidays

For some Queens commuters, taking mass transit this holiday season could seem a bit like the 1950s or even the era of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Comment.
Astoria Times

Bayside union boss Ron Carey dies at 72

Ron Carey, who served as president of the Teamsters union and led a massive strike against the United Parcel Service in 1997 but was later expelled from the union after members of his campaign were found to have participated in an illegal kickback scandal, died last Thursday in Queens. The Bayside resident was 72. Comment.
Astoria Times

Loud exhausts on motorcycles endanger public safety: Vallone

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria) went hog wild last week as he called on the city to crack down on excessively loud motorcycles during a Council public safety hearing. Comment.
Astoria Times

‘We have lived beyond our means’

After announcing that the economic crisis had pushed the state’s budget deficit to an unprecedented $15.4 billion, Gov. David Paterson unveiled a drastically reduced executive budget proposal Tuesday that called for major cuts to school and health care funding and thousands of layoffs at the state level. Comment.
Astoria Times

Rhodes case declared mistrial

Queens Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak declared a mistrial last Thursday in the case of a Long Island City man accused of beating and robbing two elderly women after a jury forewoman complained she had missed too much work during the month−long trial and needed to leave Friday to visit her mother, the Queens district attorney’s office said. Comment.
Astoria Times

Gioia calls on stores to remove toxic toys for holidays

A new federal law will take toys containing a toxic plastic byproduct off shelves and heighten restrictions on other toxins, but toymakers and retailers do not plan to comply until after the Christmas shopping season, City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) and the New York Public Interest Research Group warned last week. Comment.
Astoria Times

Queens relatively safe for older pedestrians

Although 39 elderly Queens pedestrians were killed in a recent three−year period, the borough was statistically safer than Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and other several other nearby counties, according to a new survey. Comment.
Astoria Times

Elmhurst Pk. to open in 2010

Work on the new park at the former Elmhurst Gas Tanks site is moving ahead, city Parks Department officials announced last week. Phase 1 of the project is now finished, with Phase 2 expected to start next year. Comment.
Astoria Times

Meeks takes Vegas trip amid work on auto bailout

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D−Jamaica) was on the defensive this week after a published report and photos revealed that he was in Las Vegas when his fellow congressmen were working on the failed auto industry bailout plan. Comment.
Astoria Times

Astoria community centers to close

Residents and organizers at two of the largest public housing complexes in western Queens are reeling after news that their community centers will close at the beginning of next month. Comment.
Astoria Times

Boro small businesses seek better health care

A group of small business owners in Queens and Brooklyn are reminding the state’s congressional delegates that President−elect Barack Obama’s message of change includes health coverage. Comment.
Astoria Times

Qns. native busted in $50B scheme

New York Mets co−owner Fred Wilpon and the North Shore−Long Island Jewish Health System were among the victims of an alleged $50 billion investment scheme that federal prosecutors contend was run by eastern Queens native Bernard Madoff. Comment.
Astoria Times

Boro diversity grows in new Census data

Nearly the same number of Queens residents who trace their ancestry to Italy have roots in the West Indies, according to new U.S. Census estimates released last week. Comment.
Astoria Times

Council to vote on bill to suspend parking rules during snowstorms

The City Council Transportation Committee has approved a bill that supporters said would curtail unfair parking tickets by automatically suspending alternate side of the street parking rules whenever the city stops streets cleaning during a snowstorm. Comment.
Astoria Times

Willets Pt. tenants splinter on relocation

A deepening rift has emerged between tenant businesses at Willets Point as they struggle to negotiate with the city for more funding for relocation expenses. Comment.
Astoria Times

Astoria rent center protesters arrested

Two Brooklyn men said they were arrested on civil disobedience charges earlier this month after joining City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) for a protest against an Astoria Rent−A−Center, which they allege practices “predatory lending” to Queens residents. Comment.
Astoria Times

The gift of a second chance

As winter weather descended upon the borough and many families faced shrinking gift−buying budgets, Christmas came early for part of the population facing even greater challenges. Comment.
Astoria Times

USTA opens site for indoor tennis

Casual and professional tennis players in Queens now have a place to practice their serves during the off−season. Comment.
Astoria Times

Sunnyside group pushes on

The spirit of the Muslim holiday of Eid inspired a Sunnyside−based Turkish organization to donate to its local senior center. But it may take more than the tidings of Eid to support Sunnyside Community Services, which may be facing its last holiday season in operation. Comment.
Astoria Times

Flushing packs 100s of years of history into a mile

Once home to many abolitionists and rabble rousers, including John Bowne, who successfully challenged former Gov. Peter Stuyvesant’s unpopular ban on the practice of religions other than the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam in the 17th century, Flushing is chock full of hundreds of years of history, which city residents learned about during the Flushing Freedom Mile tour Saturday. Comment.
Astoria Times

Boro colonel makes history

History was made this fall, and a major gender barrier toppled, when Forest Hills resident Stephanie Dawson became the first female in the history of the New York National Guard to become a brigade commander. Comment.
Astoria Times

Google images harmful: Gianaris

State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D−Astoria) blasted Google for continuing to make satellite images and street views of public areas available online, saying that the Internet search engine posed a threat to national security. Comment.
Astoria Times

Verve, originality, hard work among tenets of Malinism

Malini Singh McDonald is the kind of person who can make things happen. And what will be happening soon — Jan. 21 to Feb. 1 to be exact — thanks to Malini, is the revival of “Torch Song Trilogy,” the award−winning collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein. It’s been 30 years since “International Stud,” the first of the three, opened Off Off Broadway at La MaMa, E.T.C., and the theater world has not been the same since. Comment.

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

Jackson Heights

Malakov trial date set for January

A date was set last week for the long−awaited trial of the duo accused of plotting the brazen shooting of a Forest Hills dentist right in front of his young daughter. Comment.
Jackson Heights

Elmhurst gets new scanner

Patients waiting for CAT scans at Elmhurst Hospital Center have two reasons to be a little happier: The hospital has added a new, third scanner that is twice as fast as previous models. Comment.
Jackson Heights

Boro mourns Mumbai victims at ceremony in Jackson Heights

South Asian immigrants living in Queens fear the ripple effects from the terrorist attacks in Mumbai could have dire consequences for the people living in the region who have been the victims of religious persecution. Comment.
Astoria Times

Gang members attack student: Police

FRESH MEADOWS — A Queens student claimed he was assaulted by three gang members Friday morning, police said. Comment.
Astoria Times

Tax worker gets 3 to 6 years in larceny: State

RIDGEWOOD — A Ridgewood tax preparer has been sentenced after pleading guilty to filing false tax returns in an effort to get $4 million in tax refunds from the state, state Tax and Finance Commissioner Robert Megna said last week. Comment.
Astoria Times

Description of Corona bank robber released

CORONA — Police said they have a description of a man they say robbed a Washington Mutual Bank. Comment.
Astoria Times

Cops have description, name of bank robber

REGO PARK — Police released the name and description Tuesday of a man they are looking for in connection with a Nov. 17 robbery of a Washington Mutual Bank. Comment.
Astoria Times

Cops search for Woodside bank robbery suspect

WOODSIDE — Police were asking for the public’s help to identify a suspect involved with an armed bank robbery during Thanksgiving weekend. Comment.
Editorial

Better Than Nothing

The Ravitch Commission plan to save commuters the projected 23 percent increase in subway and bus fares is better than nothing, but not by much. The last minute offer would cap bus, subway and commuter train fare increases at 8 percent for 2009. In turn, the East River bridges would be turned over to the MTA. Comment.
Astoria Times

New York once served as favorite haunt of pirates

With the continuing presence of modern−day pirates off the coast of Somalia in Africa, I thought it timely to look back at New York in the 1690s, then a pirate port of choice. Pirates were seen on the streets wearing gaudy, colorful costumes and pistols at their hips. Comment.
Astoria Times

Boro Democratic, GOP political clubs throw holiday parties

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” to quote a line from a famous holiday song. I do not know how it looks in your neighborhood, but in mine the way some houses are decorated is enchanting. Most of the streets adjacent to local stores have holiday lights strung across the streets. The local shopping centers, malls and department stores are decorated with all sorts of enticing merchandise. Comment.
Astoria Times

Movement underway to combine Christmas and Hanukkah

In most years, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are celebrated in close proximity to one another. This year is no exception. Hanukkah starts Dec. 2l, Christmas is on Dec. 25 and Kwanzaa starts on Dec. 26. All three are joyous occasions that focus on family, children and gift−giving. Comment.
Astoria Times

Absentee ballots cause more harm than good in elections

Four years ago, a few states had formalized the concept of early voting. In this past election, early voting became an integral part of our federal voting system. It has been estimated that at least 30 percent of the electorate voted early this year, usually meaning they cast their votes weeks before the Nov. 4 general election. Comment.
Astoria Times

Eatery celebrates Dominican roots

Isabella Bensimon, the owner of one of Forest Hills’ newest Italian restaurants, Villa Isabella, is no newcomer to the food world. Comment.
Astoria Times

Create an office in your home

One of the biggest concerns relayed to me by many Queens residents is job safety in the coming year. Do not take it lightly. It is scary with not many positive signs of improvement in the near future. Comment.
Astoria Times

East River tolls could blunt fare increase

Can the city’s mass transit system be rescued from a financial abyss without crippling service cuts and imposing a 23 percent fare increase? The Ravitch Commission says yes by employing East River bridge tolls, a regionwide payroll tax and an 8 percent fare hike. Comment.
Astoria Times

As state prepares Pataki portrait, Cuomo still won’t sit for painter

It has been 13 years since he has left office. But former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who grew up in Queens, said he will not be posing for his portrait to be hung in Albany out of objection to “the principle” of the tradition. Comment.
Astoria Times

St. Michael’s Park gets new turf field

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria) helped cut the ribbon last weekend on Astoria’s first public artificial turf field, which will provide space for neighborhood children to play in community soccer and baseball leagues. Comment.
Astoria Times

More tribes interested in Kosciuszko construction

The state’s plan to replace the 69−year−old Kosciuszko Bridge linking Maspeth with Brooklyn has attracted the attention of two additional native American tribes after the Federal Highway Administration ruled input was required from two other tribes that used to call Newtown Creek home. Comment.
Astoria Times

Budget office predicts rise to $2.50 for subway, buses

Bus and subway average fares could rise to at least $2.50, average Long Island Rail Road one−way fares could jump to $7.31 and the $81 monthly unlimited ride MetroCard could go to $104, according to a financial review by the city Independent Budget Office. Comment.
Astoria Times

Bell Blvd. bar gets bullish on Bayside

Bayside residents looking for a buck or two need look no further after Bell Boulevard’s Johnny Famous bar unleashed the borough’s only mechanical bull at its opening in October. Comment.
Astoria Times

Qns College tried funny business: Suit

Jackie Mason filed a lawsuit against Queens College last week after he said the school took advantage of his goodwill while trying to fill a hole left in its schedule left by the death of his friend, George Carlin, according to his lawyer. Comment.
Astoria Times

Wal−Mart victim’s family files lawsuit

The family of a Jamaica man, Jdimytai Damour, who was trampled to death in Wal−Mart at Green Acres Mall on Black Friday, sued the chain store last week on the grounds that Wal−Mart advertised steep discounts that caused an unruly crowd to gather outside the store. The suit further alleges Wal−Mart was not prepared to mitigate the large crowd. Comment.
Astoria Times

Schneider kids ride jet to meet Santa

Not too many children get the chance to fly to the North Pole, let alone meet Santa Claus and his elves so for a group of ill children, Saturday was their lucky day. Comment.
Astoria Times

Boro S. Asian leaders honor Mumbai dead, push for peace

South Asians from all over the city and New Jersey convened in Rego Park Friday to consider the ramifications of the Nov. 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Comment.
Astoria Times

Ecuadorians protest hate crime outside Elmhurst Hospital Ctr.

As an Ecuadorian immigrant clung to life after falling victim to an apparent hate crime Sunday, leaders of the Ecuadorian community in the city gathered in front of Elmhurst Hospital Center Tuesday to denounce the crime and call for unity. Comment.
Astoria Times

Bayside psychic sees a boost in business

In the current economy, investors are taking losses, restaurants are struggling to attract clientele and nonprofits are finding it increasingly difficult to collect donations. Comment.
Astoria Times

SE Qns. pantries facing shortages of food, funds

As the economy continues to sour, thousands of residents are lining up at food pantries across the borough to get their daily meals, startling new statistics show. Comment.
Astoria Times

Gioia calls on retailers to remove contaminated toys before holidays

A new federal law will take toys containing a toxic plastic byproduct off shelves and heighten restrictions on other toxins, but toymakers and retailers do not plan to comply until after the Christmas shopping season, City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) and the New York Public Interest Research Group warned last week. Comment.
Astoria Times

Fed court halts FAA plans to sell JFK’s slots

The Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to auction off airline takeoff and landing slots at John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports in the last days of the Bush administration has been squelched by a federal appeals court. Comment.
Astoria Times

Diverse cultures of Queens condemn Mumbai attacks

Representatives across numerous borough faiths gathered at Bayside’s Queensborough Community College last week to condemn the late November terrorist attacks in Mumbai and commemorate the 172 victims who died, including a Brooklyn rabbi and his wife. Comment.
Astoria Times

Scores mourn Elmhurst teen killed by bus

Christmas preparations turned to sadness at the Church of the Ascension in Elmhurst as the congregation gathered Tuesday to mourn Jasmine Paragas, the 14−year−old girl killed by a school bus last week while crossing the street. Comment.
Astoria Times

Smith’s deal to win senate majority post unravels

An agreement between state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D−St. Albans) and three dissident senators that set the stage for the southeast Queens politician to become leader of the Senate in January has fallen apart. Comment.
Astoria Times

School for Global Ed ranks with nation’s best

The Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Townsend Harris High School in Flushing and the Baccalaureate School of Global Education in Astoria each appeared on the list, which is put out annually and based chiefly on Advanced Placement test scores. Comment.
Astoria Times

Joblessness up in boro: DiNapoli

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had mostly bad news last week for York College students and faculty at the Jamaica school’s executive leadership breakfast, where he said the borough’s unemployment rate had risen this fall amid a state and national economic slump. Comment.
Astoria Times

Vantage not recognizing demands: Tenants

State Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D−Jackson Heights) and other politicians threw their support behind hundreds of Queens tenants who rallied last week against Vantage Properties, which residents accuse of harassing and attempting to evict rent−stabilized residents in the borough. Comment.
Astoria Times

Moving Image screenings continue during renovations

Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image may not be fully functional until a massive renovation project currently taking place at its 35th Avenue site is completed in two years, but the museum continues to host a number of new programs, exhibits and screenings in the borough and at various Manhattan locales. Comment.
Astoria Times

Songs of holiday cheer

Winter is coming on and it’s time to mark Dec. 21 on your calendars for the annual holiday concert presented by the Oratorio Society of Queens. Conducted by Maestro David Close, this festive gathering will have you singing and clapping along with joyous Christmas carols and Chanukah favorites. Comment.

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