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Mayor opens up to Flushing

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (c.) said at a town hall meeting in Flushing that he would try to help do away with the fines Korean business owners receive for storing kimchee at room temperature. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

Mayor Michael Bloomberg received an enthusiastic reception at a town hall in Flushing last week hosted by the Korean American Community Foundation. While there, Bloomberg answered questions from the mostly Korean audience about business issues, language access and even kimchee.

“They brought City Hall to Flushing today,” said Kevin Kim, who moderated the Oct. 26 event and is on the board of the KACF.

The more than 200 seats in the auditorium of the Queens Library Flushing branch, at 41-17 Main St., were nearly full for Bloomberg’s visit. Members of the foundation and other Korean civic groups asked the mayor and representatives of numerous city agencies questions about concerns in their community.

Bloomberg may have gotten the most enthusiastic reception when he answered a complaint from a member of the foundation who said Korean restaurateurs face unfair fines from city Health Department inspectors due to the popular Korean side dish kimchee.

The fermented, often spicy vegetables need to be kept at room temperature at times during their preparation, which violates Health Department guidelines.

“Has anybody ever died from eating kimchee?” Bloomberg asked, which was met with a resounding “No!” from the audience.

He said he would talk with representatives of the department about the issue.

Other concerns also focused on business. A man from the Korean Produce Association said the city’s green carts take away customers from Flushing businesses, and another from the Korean American Business Council requested that small businesses get more tax breaks.

Elliott Marcus, of the city Health Department, said green carts are not allowed in Flushing.

Bloomberg said those who see green carts in Flushing should call 311. He added that while the administration has tried to lower taxes, due to the economy the effort has shifted to trying to make it easier to do business in other ways.

“What we’ve really focused on is fixing some of the bureaucracy,” he said.

Other questions concerned foreign language access in city departments. Bloomberg said that while he believed New York City was ahead of all other American cities in language access, the city could always be doing better.

Bloomberg said the city Department of Small Businesses Services would also soon be opening a location for Workforce 1, a service connecting job seekers with opportunities for employment, in the Flushing Library and it would have Korean speakers.

The last question of the night during Bloomberg’s visit was from Kim, who asked if the ban on 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. parking on the eastbound side of Northern Boulevard could be done away with due to its impact on local businesses.

Lori Ardito, of the city Department of Transportation, said the agency was considering it.

Bloomberg said he hoped the Korean American Community Foundation would host a similar event next year.

“This is the ninth year of this wonderful organization,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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Reader Feedback

Stephen from Flushing says:
W/R/T ending the 4-7pm ban on parking on the eastbound side of northern blvd: I don't know if Kim knows that it's due to the buses that run on Northern. Have you ever been on a bus that has to wait and wait so that it can pull back into the traffic lane? Well, it's not fun. The ban allows the parking lane to be the bus lane at that time. It allows for the efficient flow of not just bus traffic, but all traffic, since if buses have to travel in the next lane, even the car traffic will be slowed down more than it is already during rush hour.

I do not want to see the end of the ban. However, I am will to compromise. How about 4:30 to 6:30?
Nov. 6, 2011, 4:53 pm

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