Friday, April 18, 2014

Comptroller Stringer's Sandy Recovery Concerns: Real or Simply Politics as Usual?



NYC comptroller blowing off Superstorm Sandy relief meetings


The city comptroller says he wants answers on the slow pace of the administration’s response to Superstorm Sandy  but he’s been blowing off attempts by relief-program officials to provide those answers for months, sources told The Post.
Comptroller Scott Stringer — who in 2012 flirted with the possibility of running for mayor — announced this week he’s auditing the city’s much-maligned Build It Back program.
But program officials say they have been reaching out to Stringer since November to get a meeting and that he has repeatedly brushed them off.
A Build It Back official with knowledge of the scrapped meetings said a pow-wow with Stringer was initially set up for Dec. 11, so that he could be briefed before taking office.
But Stringer’s office canceled on short notice, the official said.
The new comptroller was too busy in January to attend any meetings, and when program officials inquired, they were told he was booked through April.
On Wednesday — a day before Stringer announced the audit — his office finally called to get the meeting on the books. Even then, Stringer wasn’t planning to attend personally, officials said.
They say the timing of his sudden interest in the program gave the appearance that he had been planning the high-profile audit all along.
“You’d think that someone who was so concerned with Build It Back would take five minutes to meet with us and be briefed about the program,” said another program source.
Stringer’s office denied there was anything underhanded about his busy schedule and that his door is always open.
They said the meeting they offered to set up this week was with four deputy comptrollers.
“Sandy recovery has been a top priority for the comptroller since day one. Our office initiated the Sandy Oversight Unit and the audit of Build It Back to help New Yorkers get back on track after the storm. As always, our door remains open to the administration,” said Eric Sumberg, Stringer’s spokesman.
The troubled program has only helped 39 households with repairs or reimbursements since the 2012 superstorm hit, and now has as many as 20,000 storm victims on a waiting list for help.
Stringer, who said the audit would be run out of his Sandy Oversight Unit, has said he’s “disturbed” that there were so many people awaiting assistance.
The former Manhattan borough president is also planning town hall-style meetings in hard-hit areas to speak to homeowners directly about the trouble.
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled an overhaul of the program that would seek to get reimbursement checks or repair work started for 1,000 households by Labor Day.
The changes also expand homeowner eligibility, and attempt to cut through the red tape that’s been blamed for the slow pace of relief.
Additional reporting by Yoav Gonen

Broad Channel Civic Association April 2014 Meeting

BROAD CHANNEL CIVIC ASSOCIATION'
APRIL 2014 MEETING

Thursday
April 24, 2014

Broad Channel Prince-Wynn Post #260
at 7:00 p.m.

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The meeting will commence with the final public presentation by the New York Rising Broad Channel Community Development Conceptual Plan Committee,

followed by...

DOT, DDC and Contractor discussions regarding the pending start of the Broad Channel Flood Mitigation Project (New Bulkheads/Street Raisings) for West 11th, 12th and 13th Roads.

***************


Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller, explains his Sandy Oversight Unit and close look at city's Build It Back Program






By Comptroller Stringer

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This week, I announced the formation of a Sandy Oversight Unit that will leverage the power of my office’s Audit, Contracts, Budget, and Policy bureaus to hold government accountable as we rebuild New York City in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. My audit staff will also take a comprehensive look at the ‘Build it Back’ program to determine whether the Housing Recovery Office has set goals and timetables for the delivery of services and established procedures to reduce the backlog of applications.
In addition, I will be holding town halls throughout the five boroughs beginning on April 30th in Breezy Point, followed by the Rockaways, Staten Island, and Coney Island, to meet with those affected by the storm to discuss upcoming Sandy audits.  In order for our audits of the City’s response to Sandy to be effective, we must listen to New Yorkers and hear their stories, ideas and recommendations about what has worked and what hasn’t.
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The fact is, Superstorm Sandy changed the lives of millions of New Yorkers and we are still grappling with the consequences today. I met with Patricia Andre this week in her home in the Rockaways and saw the devastation that still remains in her community, eighteen months after the storm.
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New Yorkers are rightly frustrated by the timetable they’re facing with the ‘Build it Back’ program which has broken ground on only 9 homes nearly 18 months after Hurricane Sandy devastated our shore-side communities. We won’t allow the victims of Sandy to get hit twice, once by the storm and then again by bureaucracy and inefficiency.
My Sandy Oversight Unit will focus on:
  • Reviewing how federal aid was spent on recovery and resiliency programs;
  • Identifying areas where controls can be strengthened to improve performance and service delivery to protect taxpayers from fraud, waste, and abuse;
  • Monitoring the budget, milestones and status of Sandy projects and
  • Proposing policy recommendations to help the City enhance its emergency preparedness capacity and streamline recovery efforts.
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As Comptroller, I believe it is critical that we take account of how government has responded to this event and think about what we can do to better prepare for the future. In order to do that, we must be in the community listening to residents. For town halls in your area, see below:
  • April 30th in Breezy Point, NY from 6-8 PM
    Bay House, 500 Bayside Drive, Breezy Point, NY
  • May 6th in Coney Island from 6-8 PM
    Coney Island Hospital, 2601 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
  • May 20th in the Rockaways from 6-8 PM
    Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 348 Beach 71st Street, Arverne, NY
  • May 28th in Staten Island from 6-8 PM
    Olympia Activity Center (OAC), 1126 Olympia Blvd. Staten Island, New York
We will be posting information about future town halls in June. Please visit my website for updates on this and and more at comptroller.nyc.gov.
Comptroller Signature
Scott M. Stringer
Comptroller of the City of New York

April 17th: Mayor de Blasio Releases "Comprehensive Sandy Report", announces major overhaul to accelerate recovery...





  1. Looks like "Priority 2&3" still wait unless you want to sell to City so a developer can rebuild. See chart on page 20.
  2. still going through report...it's not sending any chills up my leg and it appears you don't sound all that impressed either?
  3. I'm outraged. That only 500 people out of 20,000 will be helped by the end of summer is CRIMINAL. They need to release the funds!

Chuck Schumer rips Con Ed bill spike



April 18, 2014

The price of electricity is too darn high, says Sen. Chuck Schumer.
New York’s senior senator called on the Federal Trade Commission and other federal agencies to investigate an alarming spike in energy prices this past winter.
Schumer pointed to one Brooklyn resident charged 13.82 cents per kilowatt hour in February 2013 and 20.52 cents in February 2014.
In January, Con Edison warned customers to expect a 21.6 percent rise in their February bills as compared to the previous year, blaming an increase in natural-gas costs over the bitter winter.
Schumer isn’t convinced.
“When you look at the price that natural gas went up and you look at the price many people’s electric bills went up from different utilities throughout the state, the two don’t seem to match up,” he said.
Con Edison said the company “supports the senator’s efforts” and is ­already looking into the price surge.
National Grid echoed that sentiment, saying “these costs are not controlled by the utility and are passed on without markup to our customers.”

Boyleing Points



Theater of the Absurd
By Kevin Boyle
You think the theater-Konig story on the front page last week was confusing? You weren’t alone, of course. Michael Koing seemed a tad confused when he said he didn’t know if he owned the theater. I told him over the phone that he achieved my goal in life. That’s what I want, I said. I want to own so much property I forget which is mine.
It was kinda quiet on the other end of the phone after I made that crack.
The theater is a well know eyesore but who knew there was a connection between the theater and a nonprofit on Beach 135th Street with more than $70 million in assets?
I’m still trying to figure out what this private foundation does and have requested to see the books. Although the tax returns list an address on Beach 135th, Michael Konig said “they don’t really use that as the main office.” He said hell check with his counsel and get back.
I left out one part of my research because, well because it’s ridiculous. But since ridiculous items regularly appear in this space I figured this is home for it. So…a bank gave a $128 million dollar construction loan to a condo. It was in the wild pre-crash days, of course. The group which gets the $128 million includes a guy named Michael Konig. He’s had property in New Jersey and Florida.
So the company with the $128 mil and the bank that gave it to them go bust. Along comes another group that buys the $128 million mortgage for a great bargain of $50 mil. The new group who made this great deal includes a guy named Michael Konig. He’s got property in New Jersey and Florida.
Aha, elementary my dear Watson, Mr. Konig is playing the long and short. Vetty, vetty interesting as they said on Laugh-In in 1968 – about the last time the theater on Beach 116th showed movies.
But get this. There were and are two Michael Konigs – no relation. Nobody believed it when I told them. You got one guy who forgets what property he owns and you’ve got another guy getting $128 million and making a deal with another guy with the same name. Are you suuuuuurre?
Well, if Michael “crumbling theater” Konig wasn’t sure if he owned the property on Beach 116th, I could be unsure that there were two Michael Konigs in a related business deal. After more research, a phone call, and a few emails I had to conclude that there were two guys with the same name.
I kept that whole twist out of the front page story because it seemed too much like Murder She Wrote. Everybody would’ve been saying, “Come on...”
And then there was the picture of the woman giving tours of the theater. It was either Esther, wife of Michael, or a manager from the Park Inn. Esther arranged for tours of the place even though she said she didn’t know who owns it but the photo was a little like the ownership: unclear (to some).
Another piece of trivia I left out was the fact that Esther used to manage the Chai Home on Beach 125th Street and is a great source of annoyance for people on that block.
All the intrigue and even the BS is kinda interesting. But it’s not funny. The properties have been shameful eyesores for years. The owners can’t cry poverty, that’s fir sure. And they shouldn’t cry for Sandy relief money. Not while people aren’t back in their homes.

Broad Channel Bits





By Dan Guarino
What a pleasure it is to be out and about in Broad Channel in nice weather. Well, whenever that nice weather might pop up.
But if you really want to know what spring is about, really appreciate it, watch little kids. The world is still all new to them, and everything, even walking, is amazing. Just look at their surprise as they put one foot in front of the other. We all have been doing it so long we take it completely for granted. Nothing special there.
But for little kids it is a wonder, and the whole world is brand new.
It was a great, mostly sunny weekend in Broad Channel. Just on Sunday alone you could enjoy a photo exhibit at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Photographer Liora Codor brings together the many places and views of Fort Tilden. She captures it in all seasons and even pre- and post-Sandy. It will be on view to June 6. Go enjoy it.
Then there was a great brunch at the American Legion. The food, the company, and the hard working Legion crew were terrific. The only regret was that this was the last brunch of the season.
Sunday afternoon the equally hardworking VFW volunteers put together a fun-filled Easter egg hunt and party for kids 9 and under. There were quite a few toddlers and babes in arms. The kids enjoyed hot dogs and cupcakes and even cotton candy.
And boy did they take off when they opened the gate to the VFW backyard and told them to go look for colorful plastic eggs. There were plenty of prizes, goodies and fun activities.
A very tall and well known rabbit turned up, too. (I was very relieved when I realized other people could see him, too.) The kids, and more than a few grownups, had a grand time.
By the way, I came across this message from the BC VFW to “To Our Friends at St. Albans....You stepped forward when all others stepped back. You placed yourself between us and danger. You sacrificed precious time with family and friends, missing those significant life events the rest of us take for granted. Thank you for your service.” It couldn’t be better said.
If you are reading this paper on Friday, April 18, there are a few observances happening tonight.
There will be a Good Friday Tenebre service at Christ Presbyterian Church at 8 p.m.
St. Virgilius will have a Celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 12 noon and the Stations of the Cross at 7 p.m. At St. Camillus, the Passion will be at 3 p.m. and the Stations of the Cross will be at 8.
There will no Saturday Masses at St. Camillus on Saturday. There will be a Morning Prayer service and blessing of Easter food at 9 a.m. There will be an Easter vigil at 8 p.m.
Christ Presbyterian Church by the Sea will have Easter Sunday services on April 20th at 9 a.m.
St. Virgilius will celebrate at 10 a.m. and 12 noon. St. Camillus services will be at 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Next Saturday, April 26, come for Earth Day in Jamaica Bay. The American Littoral Society, Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and the Broad Channel Civic Association will be hosting a Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Walk at 10 a.m. Starting at 12 noon there will be a community cleanup at Sunset Cove and American Park down by the Cross Bay Bridge toll plaza. All cleanup volunteers will also be eligible to win two tickets to see Jack Johnson in concert.
Need more details? Check www.facebook.com/alsnyc or e-mail the American Littoral Society atNEChapter@littoralsociety.org or call 718-474-0896.
Also coming Saturday, April 26, is the BCAC Opening Day Parade and Ceremony! The parade will start at the 17th Road park at 9:30 a.m. then proceed to the field for the Opening Day Ceremony and festivities 10:30 a.m.. Come, support, enjoy!
Let’s help one more resident find his way home. Lauren Hawk found a wandering beagle by the new YMCA on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. That was last week Thursday, April 10. He is 8-9 years old, heavy set and has a collar, but no tags. He is also very sweet, well behaved and well trained.
If you belong to this dog or know who he belongs to, contact Lauren at 516-371-3949.
Ready for some golf? The Shad Creek Association is holding it 2014 Golf Outing on Friday, June 13. There willbea3p.m.shotgunstart.It’s$75pergolfer,which will include beer, soda and water at the course and also a tee-shirt and koozie. Afterwards there will be an awards party and dinner at the Shad Creek Association at 529 Shad Creek Road in Broad Channel. There will be “closest to the pin” contests, 50/50’s and more. Even if you don’t golf, you can support and enjoy the party for $30.
Golfers, contact Mike Kelly with your foursomes right away. Call 917-868-4453 or e-mail michael_ p_kelly@yahoo.com.
The Shad Creek Association is presenting its 19th Annual “It's A Fluke” Fishing Tournament on July 6. Draw a big fish on your calendar right now. More details to come, but you can start making up your fish stories now.
New York Cares came to Broad Channel on Saturday, April 12, to clean out and around the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge/North Channel Bridge. My friend, Wendy, who volunteered for the day. At lunch she zipped over to opening reception for RAA’s two new exhibitions at Fort Tilden. Then she zipped back to BC.
Look: Saturday, May 10, BC Civics’ Beautification Committee’s Adopt-A-Tree and Spring Planting kicks off at 10 a.m. Plants will be distributed to anyone wanting to plant a tree pit. These events are always fun and a great way to come out and meet the neighbors.
You can help Christ Presbyterian Church reopen its church hall. You can sponsor a chair for $20 or a table for $80. Any donation will be helpful. You could even share a sponsorship with others.
You can drop off your greatly appreciated donation in the church mailbox at 102 Noel Road.
Got BC news? Send it to workingstories@aol.com.
Thanks for reading!

Celebrate Earth Day in Jamaica Bay



The American Littoral Society, Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and the Broad Channel Civic Association are inviting everyone to “join us for ‘Earth Day in Jamaica Bay’, a fun day of educational and community service events in Broad Channel.”
In a release about the planned Saturday, April 26, event, the three partnering groups said, “Bring your children, friends and family to help make our community spaces greener, help our salt marsh habitats thrive this year. We need you to make this day a success!”
Some of the activities will include: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Walk – 10 a.m.
Explore the natural wonders of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge with an ecology walk led by Don Riepe, noted local naturalist and Northeast Chapter Director of the American Littoral Society. Participants will hike around the West and East Pond to look for spring migrating birds such as tree swallows, warblers and egrets while learning about the ecological importance of Jamaica Bay. Sunset Cove and American Park Community Cleanup – 12 p.m.
There will be a community cleanup of Sunset Cove and American Park, which is located just west of the Cross Bay Bridge toll plaza. At 12:15 p.m. there will be a short talk about the Marsh Restoration Initiative, a multi-year Jamaica Bay project co-led by the American Littoral Society and the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, whose mission is to restore two badly degraded marsh islands, along with news about future habitat restoration initiatives that they hope to achieve with everyone’s help!
All cleanup volunteers are eligible to win two free concert tickets to see Jack Johnson, perform at Jones Beach Theatre on Saturday, June 7, courtesy of Skraptacular and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, (/allatonce.org).
To be eligible, you must register in advance for the cleanup and check-in at the registration desk on the day of the event. The ticket winner will be announced on the Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/alsnyc.”
Schedule of Events:
10 a.m. – 12 noon: Spring Migration Birdwalk at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge with Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society’s Northeast Chapter. Meet at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center onCross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel.
12 noon: Check-in for Community Cleanup of Sunset Cove and American Park. All volunteers are required to sign volunteer waivers. Meet at the American ballfields parking lot on Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel.
12:15 p.m.: Venetia Lannon, Regional Director of NYS DEC Region 2, Dan Mundy Sr. and Dan Mundy Jr. of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and Elizabeth Stoehr of the American Littoral Society will present a short talk about the Marsh Restoration Initiative.
12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Cleanup begins. Bring gloves, water, insect repellant, sunscreen and wear appropriate shoes. Long pants recommended.
For questions, please email the American Littoral Society at NEChapter@littoralsociety.org or call the office at 718-474-0896.

Broad Channel VFW Hosts Easter Egg Hunt



By Dan Guarino

Kids and adults alike had a great time at VFW Post 260’s Easter egg hunt in Broad Channel. Photos by Dan Gaurino Kids and adults alike had a great time at VFW Post 260’s Easter egg hunt in Broad Channel. Photos by Dan GaurinoBroad Channel’s Prince-Wynn VFW Post #260 hosted dozens of children for an Easter egg hunt on Sunday afternoon, April 13.
Children ages nine to newborn were welcomed to the VFW hall where they enjoyed hot dogs, juice boxes, cupcakes, cotton candy and other treats. There were games, coloring and other fun activities for them.
The highlight of the afternoon was when the children were let loose to find brightly colored plastic eggs in the Post’s backyard. The Easter Bunny made an appearance and stayed to take photos with a number of the children as well as with some adults. There were also prizes and other goodies for the kids.
As it has been rebuilding from the storm, the Prince-Wynn Post has been hosting a widening variety of activities for veterans, children and the Broad Channel community at large.