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Save our Beacon: CB 11

City Comptroller John Liu (c.) visits Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece (l.) and board members in Bayside to check in and talk about finances. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

A guest appearance by City Comptroller John Liu and a community powwow in support of Bayside’s Beacon program led the discussions at Monday night’s Community Board 11 meeting.

The former Flushing councilman fielded questions from a packed room of community members and concentrated mostly on saving the city money and his efforts to mediate Bayside’s overcrowded schools.

“My office is consistently focused on doing what I was elected to do,” Liu said. “We’ve focused on the need to reduce the number of consultants on the city’s payroll.”

With an eye toward saving money, Liu reported a total of $660 million saved for taxpayers through his office’s efforts to take advantage of historically low interest rates and refinancing the city’s debt.

In a Q&A session, Liu was asked if he planned on running for re-election as comptroller if he decided not to run for mayor.

“I have not made clear exactly what I’ll do in next year’s election,” Liu said.

Alluding to media coverage of the recent arrest of his campaign’s finance manager on charges of fraud, Liu told the meeting not to believe everything they read.

He added that negative press he has received relied greatly on unnamed sources and should not be trusted.

“The quotes attributed to me [in city newspapers] are completely fabricated,” he said.

Disapproval over the potential elimination of the after-school Beacon program operated by Little Neck’s Samuel Field Y, at MS 158 was evident from the petition signing at the front entrance of the school, at 46-35 Oceania St., all the way to the meeting’s conclusion more than an hour later.

Four of the eight public speakers used their time to show their support for the Bayside Beacon program, which could be one of seven citywide programs to close this summer.

Community activist Mandingo Tshaka said he was appalled to hear about the program’s removal from the city budget to satisfy Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $2.1 million in proposed reductions.

“This program needs to be here,” Tshaka said.

Similar messages were delivered by several other public speakers, including Kim D’Angelo, MS 158’s Parent-Teacher Association president.

“No one using this program can afford alternative child care,” D’Angelo said. “It’s an investment in our children and our families.”

D’Angelo said there would be a rally outside MS 158 April 24 at 6 p.m. to protest the cuts.

In response, CB 11 voted unanimously to pass a resolution in full support of the Beacon program, noting that it added to the performance of Bayside’s schools and was an integral part of the community.

“This community board knows the value of the Beacon program and we’re here to support you,” CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said.

Iannece also announced there would be a new overlook built near Old Oak Pond in Douglaston to honor the late Joe Hellmann, who died at the age of 70 in 2010 and was an active member of the community. Iannece said it was a compromise, adding the board originally intended on naming the park after the former board member but received resistance from the city.

The new overlook will include benches and a historic sign to be installed in the next few months, honoring Hellmann’s legacy, Iannece said.

The CB 11 meeting also included visits from state Assemblymen Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), amid his run for Congress, and Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), who updated residents on his latest accomplishments in restoring senior services to the 2013 budget.

Both assemblymen also voiced support for maintaining the Bayside Beacon program.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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