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Volume 15 Issue No. 1 Jan. 3-9, 2014

PRESS Photo by Ira Cohen


New York City welcomed Bill de Blasio as its new mayor on Wednesday. Page 3.

Online at

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News Briefs City’s First Murder Of 2014 in Jamaica

NYPD Hosts Shred Event

Queens residents concerned about identity theft can take some measures of protection this weekend. The New York Police Dept. will provide free document shredding and hard drive destruction as a means of preventing identity theft from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Queens Center Mall, located at 90-15 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst. The event is meant for documents containing sensitive personal information. Police will also offer registration of electronic devices through the NYPD’s Operation ID program.

The City’s first homicide of the year took place in South Jamaica an hour into the new year. According to reports, Julio Mora, 22, was stabbed in his home, located at 113th Avenue between Sutphin Boulevard and 155th Street just after 1 a.m. Authorities responded to the home at 1:14 a.m., where responders pronounced Mora dead on the scene. He suffered from multiple stab wounds to the chest. Reports say the victim had a history of arrests on assault charges and robbery charges and was stabbed to death with a screwdriver during a fight. An investigation into the man’s murder is still ongoing and the suspect is still at large.

Ulrich Announces Participatory Budgeting

Details have been announced for Councilman Eric Ulrich’s (R-Ozone Park) Participatory Budgeting meetings in his district.

The first meetings to decide how to spend $1 million in the 32nd Council District will be held on Jan. 7. The initiative aims to get residents involved in allocating capital funds in the district. This is the second year Ulrich has done the budgeting in his district, this time including the northern part of his district. Last year, it was done only in the Rockaways and Broad Channel. The two areas will be divided into two separate projects, called “District 32 North” and “District 32 South,” using Community Boards 9 and 14 as boundaries. “I am pleased to be starting another participatory budgeting project in my district. This is something that they have been asking for and I am excited to see the projects that they will come up with. Participatory Budget has already proven itself

extremely popular in Rockaway and Broad Channel and I know that folks in the new part of my district will be just as creative,” Ulrich said in a statement. Residents in Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill can get involved in the process by attending the three upcoming meetings in January. The Jan. 7 meeting will be held at Christ Lutheran Church in Ozone Park, located at 85-20 101st Ave. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. The next meeting is on Jan. 18 at the Emanuel United Church of Christ, located at 93-12 91st Ave. in Woodhaven. That will begin at 1 p.m. The last meeting will be at the One Stop Richmond Hill Community Center, which is at 110-08 Jamaica Ave. It is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

Borough Beat

Cello Prodigy Returns From Asian Tour A seven-year-old music prodigy has returned to Queens after a successful tour of China and South Korea. Justin Yu, a cellist, spent most of December competing and appearing on various programs in the two countries, covering a wide variety of genres in his performance. Using a combination of talent, stage presence and creativity, Justin won the first prize in China’s AiXueAiXiu competition and became the youngest three-time champion in SBS Star King in South Korea. Justin’s victories should come as no surprise, given his experience. Although he is only in second grade, he has been playing the cello since he was three years old. He was directed towards the instrument by his parents, Julian and Aera. Julian is the director and Aera is the assistant director of the Herald Music School in Flushing. Justin participates in the school’s program and his father puts together the arrangements he plays on the cello. “I like the sound of the cello. It fits into a boy or man’s character very well,” Julian said. While Julian’s own musical upbringing placed a stronger emphasis on practice, he encourages his son to think and play creatively and to

Photos by Joe Marvilli


Cellist Justin Yu performed “Spanish Dance” by Isaac Albeniz at a press conference celebrating his successful tour of China and South Korea. Pictured at right, Justin stands with his parents, Julian and Aera, who are also classicallytrained musicians. explore other genres of music rather than restricting himself to classical pieces. Julian thinks these traits helped Justin stand out among the thousands of contestants he competed against in China and South Korea. Among the songs he performed during the month-long trip were “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla, the jazz standard “Fly Me To The Moon” and “The Final Countdown” by the classic rock band Europe, the

latter of which was accompanied by two guitarists. Justin even got the chance to show off his dance moves on Hunan TV-Tiantian Xiangshangto to “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” by Ylvis. “I think he was more creative. He can quickly adapt to different styles,” Julian said. “I don’t limit him. I let him listen. I let him explore.” As for Justin himself, he said he enjoyed filming some music videos

overseas and liked interacting with the hosts of the shows he appeared on. “That was so much fun,” he said about the competition shows. Justin’s success is just as notable back home. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Citi Field in the last year alone. Despite his young age, he has also been accepted to the Manhattan School of Music, his parents’ alma mater. Justin’s school, Jackson Elementary in Jericho, on Long Island, has been very supportive of his career, letting him take a month of school off for his Asian tour. Julian said Justin’s favorite cellist is Yo-Yo Ma, which Julian partially attributed to how Ma brought classical music to the mainstream by straying outside of the genres restraints and embracing all styles of music. He said Justin is similar in this regard. Next year looks to hold a couple more opportunities for Justin to perform. In June 2014, he will appear in another concert at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. He auditioned with the Joyous Music School Ensemble for “America’s Got Talent,” with the results due in February. Julian and Aera also run the Joyous Music School, which is based in Hicksville. Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@, or @Joey788.

Jan. 3-9, 2014 PRESS of Southeast Queens Page 3

Presstime BY JOE MARVILLI New York City has a new mayor. Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in as the City’s 109th mayor at midnight on New Year’s Day in his Brooklyn home. After the brief ceremony, a formal inauguration was held at noon on the steps of City Hall on Jan. 1. During the ceremony, de Blasio pushed forward his progressive agenda, promising to tackle New York’s inequality gap. The administration of the oath for mayor took place after Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer recited their oaths and gave their speeches as well. For his oath, de Blasio was assisted by his old boss, former president Bill Clinton. De Blasio started his speech by thanking his family and friends as well as his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, for his work to revitalize the City between 2002 and 2013. “Your passion on issues such as environmental protection and public health has built a noble legacy,” he said. “We pledge today to continue

the great progress you made in these critically important areas.” While he admired some of Bloomberg’s policies, de Blasio soon switched over to his own progressive agenda, which plans to address the City’s growing economic gap between the rich and the poor. “When I said we would take dead aim at the Tale of Two Cities, I meant it,” he said. “We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the City we love.” Those goals de Blasio mentioned included revising the City’s Stop and Frisk policy, expanding the Paid Sick Leave law, building more affordable housing and asking the wealthy to pay higher taxes to support full-day universal Pre-k. “Our march towards a fairer, more just, more progressive place, our march to keep the promise of New York alive for the next generation,” the City’s new mayor concluded. “It begins today.” Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125,, or @Joey788.

Photo by Ira Cohen

Bill de Blasio Sworn In As City’s New Mayor

Bill de Blasio gave a speech highlighting his progressive agenda after being sworn in by former President Bill Clinton on Jan. 1. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many elected officials attended the inaugration on the steps of City Hall.

Brown Highlights Lower Crime In Queens BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA Last week, Queens DA Richard Brown delivered his year-end address, in which he highlighted his office’s four biggest prosecution victories of 2013 and touted Queens as one of the City’s leaders in crime reduction. Brown, who will begin his 23rd year in office this week, noted that in the last two decades, overall crime in Queens is down by 77.7 percent, murders have fallen 78.1 percent, robberies are down 76.3 percent, burglaries are down 78.9 percent and felony assaults are down 40.9 percent. “It’s something I’m particularly proud of,” Brown said in an interview with the PRESS of Southeast Queens. “About 50 percent of my 300 assistants have been with me for more than 10 years, so there’s a great stability in our office.” Brown, who took office in 1991, said that when he first became DA, his office saw 361 homicide cases. This year, his office reported only 65 homicide cases. Similarly, in 1991, his office reported 52,000 stolen cars, whereas this year, his office only saw about 2,000. “We’ve seen about 72,000 arrest cases here in Queens and I’d like to

think that we do them very respect- with cops in South Jamaica. The jury fully and, as a result, Queens is a saf- found the pair guilty for a number er place to live and to visit,” he said. of charges, including first-degree at“I also give police officers a great tempted murder of a police officer, deal of credit to the crime reduction. robbery, burglary, assault and grand I think more than any larceny. other agency in the City In the second case, or State government, People v. Watts, a 41the police here with us year-old Springfield have been very, very Gardens teacher was helpful in crime reducconvicted of molesting tion.” five of his students durThough he did note ing the course of three that violent crimes were years. The jury found down significantly, him guilty of abusing Brown did point out four girls and one boy that Queens has been – while he taught them seeing more economic in the third and fourth Richard Brown crimes, like identity grades at PS 15. He was theft. He attributes those spikes to sentenced to 35 years in prison. the economic climate in the United In the third case, People v. Green States. and Marshall, a Rockland County According to Brown, the four big- couple was convicted of sex traffickgest victories of the year were People ing in connection with the prostituv. Urban Fermin and Darius Lowery, tion of two young women – a 19-andPeople v. Simon Watts, People v. Hi- 20-year-old. The pair was accused of keem Green and Darcell Marshall taking the victims to a vacant St. Aland People v. Natasha Munchkin bans home, forcing the women to take Marks. drugs and work as prostitutes. Green In the first case, People v. Fermin was sentenced to up to 12 years in and Lowery, both were sentenced prison and Marshall was sentenced to 30 to life in prison for going on a up to three years. one-hour robbery spree that resulted In the last case, People v. Marks, in a high-speed chase and a shoot-out a Flushing woman was sentenced to

a term of one to three years for jumping bail shortly after pleading guilty to a hate crime statue, by stealing $850,000 from an 85-year-old Howard Beach man. Marks, dubbed the ‘sweetheart swindler,’ falsely told the elderly man that she needed the money for chemo treatments and a new business. She then fled to Oklahoma, where she stayed in hiding for nearly six years. The jumping bail prison sentence is to be served immediately following her two to six years in prison for the grand larceny charge. As he begins his new term in office, Brown is hopeful that Queens will continue to be one of the City’s leaders in crime reduction – especially under the City’s new NYPD Commissioner, Billy Bratton. “I believe that because of the talent we have here in my office, crime will continue to go down. I look forward to Commissioner Bratton’s arrival,” he said. “He is a professional I’ve worked with before and I have every reason to believe we will work very, very well with the police department.” Reach Reporter Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or or @nkozikowska.

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Queens Chamber Building awards announced Several architects and business owners in Queens will be honored later this month for projects completed within the past two years. The Queens Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Building Awards ceremony on Jan. 16, awarding 22 Borough architects for the work they have done in Queens. Among the award-winners are City Rib Restaurant in Jamaica, Flushing Town Hall and the Hunters Point Campus in Long Island City. The winners were split into five categories: New Construction, Rehabilitation, Interiors, Open or Enclosed Space and Public Structure. From there, the first three categories had sub-categories with winners chosen for commercial, mixed-use and

Photo by ira Cohen

By Luis Gronda

completed projects in the Borough and showcase their work to the chamber. “The beautiful buildings are representative of the Borough and contributed to beautifying Queens,” she said. According to Ganosis, companies interested in getting the award filled out an application to send to the Chamber. City rib in Jamaica is among the winners of the The entries were reviewed Queens Chamber Building awards. by a Chamber committee dedicated to the awards and then voted on. Out of 100 entries, public buildings. Sophia Ganosis, chief of opera- 22 were selected as winners. Other establishments who claimed tions at the Queens Chamber, said the award ceremony honors those awards this year include the Glen businesses and developers who have Oaks library, which will take a New

Construction award under the public buildings sub-category, the Forest Hills Gardens Residences, which gets an award for interiors, and three buildings at Queens College, including the Rosenthal Library, which will receive an award in the open or enclosed public space category. The Chamber will host a dinner and reception on Jan. 16 to hand out the awards at the LaGuardia Marriot Hotel in East Elmhurst, located at 102-05 Ditmars Blvd. It will begin at 6 p.m. with the awards to be given out at 7:30 p.m. For more information on the ceremony, call the Queens Chamber of Commerce at (718) 898-8500 or visit Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@ or @luisgronda.

afghan Women’s Writing To Be discussed By Luis Gronda Women from a war-torn Middle Eastern country will discuss stories about living in their native country later this month. A series of essays and poems from the Afghan Women’s Writing Project will be presented at the Richmond Hill Library on Jan. 13. The Writing Project is dedicated to giving women, who used to live or are currently living in Afghanistan, a platform to write literature about life in the war-ravaged country, or any other subject they wish to discuss. It is headed by Masha Hamilton, a former journalist who has worked in the American Embassy in Afghanistan during her career. She founded the Afghan Women’s Writing Project in 2009. Stacy Le Melle, the workshop director who helped organize the event, said attendees will get to learn that Afghan women are much more than just their outside appearance. “It’s a chance to hear about peo-

ple who are often silenced,” she said. “This is probably the greatest collection of Afghan writers in this country.” Le Melle said many of the writers submit their work online and they select the best ones to print and showcase. Identities are limited to firstname only or hidden completely to avoid any potential trouble with their native country, Le Melle said. One example of the type of writing found on the site is a recently published essay titled “In Afghanistan, the rules are twisted.” In the piece, the writer, only identified by Aysha, briefly discusses some aspects about life in her country, including education and marriage. “Education is an obligation for men and women in Islam, but we have Muslims who won’t let their daughters go to school. In marriage, the girl and boy should be the same age, but there are Muslims who give their daughters away in marriage to men old enough to be their grandfathers. There are Muslims who sell

their daughters to the Taliban,” she writes in the piece, posted on their website on Dec. 30. Le Melle said Hamilton will read the majority of the selected pieces during the workshop, but two Afghan women will also be present to read to the audience. A question and answer session is expected to follow the event.

The workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m. and run until approximately 8 p.m. The library is located at 118-14 Hillside Ave. in Richmond Hill. For more information on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, visit Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@ or @luisgronda.

in richmond Hill, a Place For Healing in 2014 By Luis Gronda A Richmond Hill resident is helping turn a vacant lot into a place for healing and to raise awareness for a disease that takes thousands of lives yearly. Anandi Premlall is among the people working to turn more than 2,000-square-feet of empty land on 124th Street between Liberty and 101 Avenues into the Love, Life and Liberty Anti-Cancer Garden. The garden would be a place for people to gather and remember loved ones who lost their battle with cancer or are currently living with the disease, Premlall said. “People are going to be bringing a little bit of themselves there,” she said. “It will create a real sense of community.” Individuals will be allowed to meditate or quietly gather in the garden, creating a relaxing atmosphere in the space. It will also allow for people facing a similar situation to openly discuss what they are going through. Premlall said even though some of that conversation may be

unpleasant, it is important to have some level of dialogue to vocalize worries they may have. The lot has been empty for more than 25 years and it would give Queens additional green space, she said. The garden was inspired by artist Beatriz Da Costa, who created an Anti-Cancer Tool Kit space in Manhattan as well as a garden similar to what will be in Richmond Hill. Premlall said she was motivated to create an area like Da Costa’s project in her neighborhood. She said they are still working with the Parks Dept. to officially transfer over the land. It is currently City-owned property, but she does not anticipate any problems in that process. The scheduled launch for the garden is March 2014. For more information or if you would like to help, log onto http:// or email Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@ or @luisgronda.

Jan. 3-9, 2014 PRESS of Southeast Queens Page 5

Editorial Hoping For More Change As the ball dropped earlier this week signifying the start of the New year, it brought to an end a year that reshaped the landscape of the Borough and the City, and the promise of even more change looms over the horizon for 2014. The New year is a time to reflect and learn from the mistakes of the past to create the possibility of a better future. We hope that our incoming elected officials take heed of both the successes and the missteps of their predecessors as they begin to shape their legacies. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Council members who have stepped aside left an indelible mark on Queens over the last 12 years. Their successors have a lot of work ahead of them to live up to those legacies. We have no doubt that Bill de Blasio, Melinda Katz and the new City Council are up to the challenge, and we look forward to covering their efforts over the next four years. To our readers, we thank you for journeying through 2013 with us and we wish you all a happy and prosperous 2014.

Letters A Time For Education

To The Editor: Which is the biggest number: the total count of stars in the solar system, the sum of grains of sand on all Atlantic beaches, the dollar deficit of

the U.S. economy, or the tally of useless re-organizations of the City’s school system since the mayor seized it a dozen years ago? If you picked the last choice, you’re off by a whisker. Come back in a few more years and who knows? How did the DOE under

Letters chancellors Klein, Black and Walcott fulfill its promise of accountability to parents enraged by hasty closings, rule-busting class sizes and disclosures of sensitive information about their children? By humoring them with prattle about “empowerment” and then slamming the door in their faces. And how have they defined the value of accountability in their dealings with teachers? By robbing them of their traditional rights, stomping on their dignity and laughing at the legacy of their profession. And what form does the evidence of accountability to principals take? A lot of hot air and tons of “CYA” e-mails. Will the current “networks” be retained, will we revert to the old district office system where people in charge of key areas such as personnel and special education were generally fairly accessible to school-based folks who needed them on the spot, will the new structure be a hybrid or mutation, or will it be a completely different house of cards aloft on swamp gas?

We’d better hope that City Hall gets an industrial-strength cleaning of managerial philosophy and Tweed gets a similar overhaul. De Blasio’s selection of Carmen Fariña is a promising sign and a significant cause for optimism. She has had a long career in many capacities, including classroom educator, and is likely to be a dramatic improvement over her immediate predecessors. She must act with courage, humility and insight to sweep politics and corporate flirtations aside, heed the counsel of legitimate experts and re-institutionalize a Dept. of Education as a defender and purveyor of quality education. We’ve had enough of the Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s time to get redressed. Ron Isaac, Fresh Meadows

Over the holidays, Bill de Blasio’s family released a video of their 19-year-old daughter confessing that she has struggled with depression along with drug and alcohol addiction. Chiara de Blasio is being praised as a brave young woman for revealing her demons to the world, and indeed it must have taken a lot of courage. Drug and alcohol counselors have long maintained that the first step toward recovery is acknowledging that there is a problem. Score one for Chiara. The girl’s parents have been criticized for “using this for political gain.” But Bill de Blasio had already won the election, so there was no need to exploit a family problem for any such gains. As a parent of teenagers, I cannot imagine putting my children in the spotlight for any purpose, so it is indeed commendable of the

de Blasios for biting the bullet and doing this during the holiday, when so many people are most vulnerable anyway. There are countless parents and children dealing with these issues. Depression as a disease has become widespread throughout our nation and the world and far too many people try to self-medicate with any number of substances. There have been disastrous outcomes to this practice. So when did depression become such an epidemic? The singer Tony Orlando was the first person I had ever heard speak of clinical depression. Since then, people have become more aware and the stigma has been minimized. So, for Chiara de Blasio to come forward and confess that she too is negotiating life with this issue will have served as a great public service. It is even more commendable that she has sought (and supposedly) found sobriety. This is very empowering to her and the millions of families dealing with this problem.

Chiara is someone with whom people can relate without much difficulty. This is not a spoiled Hollywood brat with money to burn and abusing drugs “to cope with fame.” She is a real person from Brooklyn who has suddenly been given a platform on the basis of her father’s election to be mayor of New York City. She has chosen to use it to try to benefit other people in her shoes. Mayor de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McRae are intelligent people, they don’t need my advice. Nonetheless, I would caution them to be careful how much more exposure they encourage their daughter to have. From everything we’ve seen and read, recovery from substance abuse is a life-long process. That is the reason addicts who have found a measure of sobriety tend to refer to themselves as “recovering” rather than “cured” or “former addict.” It is an ongoing temptation for them and they need to stay connected to their sources of sobriety.

150-50 14th Road Whitestone, NY 11357 (voice) (718) 357-7400 fax (718) 357-9417 email The PRESS of Southeast Queens Editor-in-Chief:

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Marcia Moxam Comrie Production Manager:

Shiek Mohamed Queens Today Editor

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WRITE ON: The PRESS of Southeast Queens, 150-40 14th Rd., Whitestone, NY 11357 email

New Mayor’s Children Need Privacy Too A Personal Perspective By MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE


I disagree with the old saying, “children should be seen and not heard.” However, there is also something to be said for keeping your children out of the limelight. They need to mature without everyone knowing their names, faces, problems and where they go to school. Perhaps Chiara’s revelation was just an attempt to beat the media to the punch; but let the kids finish their formative years away from the cameras as much as possible. In the meantime, here’s wishing her continued healing; our new mayor a successful term and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year to us all! Note to readers: By the time this column is published, I will have had carpal tunnel surgery and have a bandaged hand/wrist. This means I will have to suspend writing for the next few weeks, depending on doctor’s orders. I will resume my column when I get the green light from my surgeon to type again.

Reporters: Natalia Kozikowska Joe Marvilli Luis Gronda Trisha Sakhuja

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A Queens Tribune Publication © Copyright 2013 Tribco, LLC

Michael Nussbaum Publisher Ria McPherson Comptroller

Page 6 PRESS of Southeast Queens Jan. 3-9, 2014

year in Review: Change Comes To Queens By STEVEN J. FERRARI ANd NATAlIA KozIKowSKA

Much of 2013 was spent focusing on the race for New York City Mayor, with Michael Bloomberg’s time as Mayor ending after three terms at the helm. Very few people expected Bill de Blasio to emerge victorious when his campaign kicked off in earnest last year. The Public Advocate spent much of the year trailing fellow Democrats Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, all hoping to win the September primary. Backlashes against Weiner and Quinn helped de Blasio surge in the polls as the primary approached, and the future Mayor avoided a run-off with Thompson by snapping up more than 40 percent of the vote. Thompson held firm at first, declaring himself still in contention for more than a week before conceding. On the Republican side, former MTA head Joe Lhota had a much easier time, establishing a commanding lead early over his closest challenger, businessman John Catsimatidis, and taking the primary. The easy win did not translate to votes in November, however, as de Blasio was considered the favorite over his Republican challenger throughout the race. On Nov. 5, de Blasio and his family celebrated a decisive win. In Queens, the race for Borough President was a contentious one, with a Democratic primary that frequently went negative. A number of Democrats threw their hats into the ring for the position, including City Councilmen Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella and former Councilwoman Melinda Katz. In the end, only Katz and Vallone remained campaigning, although Avella dropped out too late to have his name taken off the ballot. The majority of Queens elected officials backed Katz, who spent a good chunk of her campaign attacking Vallone for what she called his more conservative tendencies. The strategy resonated with voters, a majority of whom backed Katz in September. She then went on to a decisive victory in November against Republican Tony Arcabascio, who was unopposed in the September primary.

Photo by Ira Cohen

New Mayor, BP Elected

The PRESS of Southeast Queens honored four term-limited Queens officials in November, thanking (from left) Councilman leroy Comrie, Borough President Helen Marshall and Councilmen James Gennaro and Peter Vallone Jr. for their years of service.

Cd31 Holds Special Election On Jan. 3, 2013, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a special election for the 31st Council District. The non-partisan election was held to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of James Sanders (D-Laurelton), after winning a seat in the State Senate. In less than one week, the special election was in full swing and nine candidates had surfaced – Donovan Richards, Jacques Leandre, Earnest Flowers, Selvena Brooks, Michael Duncan, Marie Adam Ovide, Saywalah Kesselly, Allan Jennings and the only white candidate – Pesach Osina, an Orthodox Jew. At a candidate’s forum on Feb. 5, things quickly heated up when an outspoken Rev. Charles Norris of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Jamaica asked each of the candidates if they would be willing to drop out of the race so a Black candidate would win. “You have one white person from Far Rockaway that’s in the race. Jews vote in a block,” he said. “They will knock every one of you out. Which one of you thinks you are best to run to beat the Jew that’s running in Far Rockaway?” Though Osina remained relatively low-key in Southeast Queens, attending not one of the forums, Norris’ prediction was right on point. On the morning after the special election, Osina and Richards had both

declared victory, but the race was still too close to call. Richards was up by just 26 votes and nearly three percent of votes were still unread. The Board of Elections resumed counting an entire week later and determined that, after the absentee ballots and affidavits were tallied, Richards had a 2,646-2,567 lead over Osina. The victory margin, just slightly larger that 0.5 percent, was big enough to avoid an automatic recount. In an effort to smooth things over and ease tensions between the two distinctly different communities, Richards announced in March that he would be hiring Osina. His decision to hire Osina sought to alleviate any remaining animosity and ensure there were no communities in D31 that were being ignored.

long-Time leaders Step down After 12 years in office, Borough President Helen Marshall and Queens City Councilmen Leroy Comrie, James Gennaro and Peter Vallone Jr. were required to step down due to term limits. Marshall, who served in the City Council and the State Assembly before she occupied Borough Hall in 2002, said in an interview with the PRESS of Southeast Queens in November that she was looking forward to taking a break after decades of public service. One of her last major acts as Borough President was to in-

troduce the Forum at Borough Hall, an area that can be used for meetings and other events at the Kew Gardens building. Gennaro and Vallone continued to push through legislation in the City Council as their days in the legislative body came to an end. Gennaro was instrumental in the passage of a bill raising the legal smoking age in the City to 21, along with restrictions on e-cigarettes. Vallone worked on a bill that would punish animal abusers, creating a registry for those charged with the crime. Neither Vallone nor Gennaro have announced their plans for life after the City Council. Comrie, on the other hand, already has a new job lined up. He will join Katz’s administration as her deputy borough president. Gennaro has been replaced by former Assemblyman Rory Lancman; Comrie’s district will be represented by union leader I. Daneek Miller; Vallone’s district in Astoria went to former Gennaro staffer Costa Constantinides. Another local leader stepping down from his position was Comptroller John Liu, who chose to run for Mayor over seeking another term. His beleaguered campaign included the arrest of two campaign aides and being denied matching funds from the Campaign Finance Board because of the appearance of impropriety. He told the PRESS last month that he is still contemplating his op-

dan Halloran (left) and State Sen. Malcolm Smith were arrested in April on fraud charges. tions for the future. Liu was replaced by former Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

others Face Charges One of the more shocking incidents of 2013 came when State Sen. Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran were brought up on fraud charges, linked to Smith’s attempt to get on the ballot for Mayor as a Republican. The unlikely pair were arrested on April 2, along with four others, including Queens GOP vice chairman Vincent Tabone, Bronx Republican chair Jay Savino, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and her deputy, Joseph Desmaret. The FBI investigation alleged that Smith and Halloran were attempting to bribe officials to allow Smith to appear on the ballot as a Republican. Smith and Halloran are still waiting for a court date where, if convicted, they would face up to 45 years in prison for the alleged offenses. Both denied any wrong-doing, and neither man opted to step down from their elected office, although Halloran chose not to run for re-election and was not a prominent presence after the arrest. Halloran’s decision not to seek another term set off another contentious election cycle in his Council District, with attorney Paul Vallone emerging over several other Democratic opponents in the September primary. Vallone came under fire from a united front of his opponents, who complained of misleading mailings from Jobs For New York, a PAC supporting Vallone. The protests from his opponents were not enough, however, and Vallone went on to face – and defeat – Republican Dennis Saffran in November to take Halloran’s seat. Smith continues to serve as a State Senator, although he was stripped of any power within the legislative body, and was removed from the Independent Democratic Conference.

Continued Recovery From Sandy Parts of Queens devastated by

Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 spent the year waiting for help to arrive. And while some parts of the Borough affected by the storm were able to get back on their feet in the months after the storm, others have struggled to put the pieces back together. Homeowners and business owners in Southern Queens – especially portions of Howard Beach and the Rockaways – were still waiting for federal recovery funds to pay for repairs a year after the storm hit the area. Some leaders described the situation they were in as “uncertain,” while elected officials pushed for measures to ensure that a future storm does not cause as much damage as Sandy. Despite the economic setbacks caused by Superstorm Sandy, a recent report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli praised how strongly Queens recovered from both the storm and the economic recession that preceded it. DiNapoli said in a Dec. 13 stop to Silvercup Studios in Long Island City that employment in Queens is at a record level, with a fast-growing population that has a consistentlylow unemployment rate.

Photos by Ira Cohen

Jan. 3-9, 2014 PRESS of Southeast Queens Page 7

A memorial wall was set up to remember d’aja Robinson, a 14-year-old South Jamaica teen who was shot and killed by gunfire on a Q6 bus. He can be heard pleading with officers to “stop” and at least one other officer is seen kicking Jackson in the face. The press conference, organized by Jacques Leandre, Jackson’s attorney of record, was attended by several notable leaders in the Black community, including William Bell, the father of Sean Bell, members of the clergy, as well as reps from the National Action Network and the Queens National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. All were on board to vocalize their disappointment in the alleged misconduct of these police officers, arguing Jackson was targeted because of his race and that the violence seen in the video was excessive and unjustified.

Sean Bell Community Center Closes Just months shy of its three-year anniversary, the Sean Elijah Bell Community Center in South Jamaica closed its doors due to a lack of funds.

The news did not come as a shock to community residents, who knew the center was struggling financially. In a 2012 interview with the PRESS, the center’s executive director, Anthony Anderson, even predicted the center would eventually have to shut down. The nonprofit was opened in memory of Sean Bell, who was shot and killed by undercover police officers the day before his wedding on Nov. 25, 2006. The center first opened on May 18, 2011, Bell’s birthday, with the primary goal of helping Jamaica’s residents. The center offered a variety of free services ranging from after school programs and tutoring for children, as well as job readiness programs for residents. The Greater Springfield Community Church sponsored a benefit in a final attempt to collect enough money to prevent a closure, but it was not enough to sustain the center’s programs.

Teen Claims NyPd Brutality A month after his controversial and violent arrest on Northern Boulevard in Flushing, 19-year-old Southeast Queens resident, Robert Jackson, finally broke his silence and made his first pubic statement. At the press conference in Laurelton, reporters were shown a 55second video that appeared to show Jackson being pinned down, repeatedly punched and beaten by police of the 109th Precinct. Jackson is facing charges of resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct. A bystander captured footage of the arrest, which eventually went viral on the popular urban website, The video showed more than eight officers near the 130-lbs-teen, at least four of which were restraining Jackson, his face scrapping against the concrete.

The Sean Bell Community Center closed its doors in late November. Pictured is Sean Bell’s father, william Bell, cleaning out the property.

Page 8 PRESS of Southeast Queens Jan. 3-9, 2014

pix Sutphin BID Holiday Party

Hollywood Christmas Actor Adrien Brody, a Queens native, performed with children at a holiday celebration at the Action Center in Far Rockaway on Dec. 20. The event was presented by Bulgari and Save the Children.

Photos by Walter Karling

The Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District held its annual Adopt-A-Family holiday celebration last month at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center. The event was co-sponsored by the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., City Rib and Sangria Tapas restaurants, NSA Supermarkets and the Well-Being Fish and Deli and featured a visit from Santa Claus.

Police Blotter 103rd Precinct


The NYPD is asking the public’s assistance identifying the following individual wanted in connection to an assault in the confines of the 103rd Precinct. At 4:50 a.m. on Dec. 21, the victim, a 22-year-old male, was involved in a dispute with another man in front of the Euphoria Bar, located at 144-05 Jamaica Ave. During the dispute, the suspect stabbed the victim several times throughout the body. EMS responded and transported the victim to a local hospital, where he was listed in critical but stable condition. The suspect fled the location westbound on Jamaica Avenue in a black four-door sedan. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by visiting or texting their tips to CRIMES (274637) then enter TIPS577. All calls are strictly confidential.

106th Precinct


At 3:26 a.m. on Dec. 22, police responded to a 911 call of a male shot at Liberty Avenue and 112th Street, within the confines of the 106th Precinct. Upon arrival, police observed a 23-year-old male with gunshot wounds to the torso. EMS also responded and transported the male to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. There have been no arrests at this time and the investigation is still ongoing.

108th Precinct


At 4:36 p.m. Dec. 21, police responded to a report of a person struck at Queens Boulevard and 58th Street. Upon arrival, the investigation determined the operator of a white 2013 Suzuki motorcycle, identified as Darien Baker, 31, of Yonkers, was traveling westbound on Queens Bou-

levard when he collided with a pedestrian, a 78-year-old female, who was crossing northbound at 58th Street. Both the operator and the pedestrian were removed to Elmhurst General Hospital and pronounced dead. The identity of the pedestrian was awaiting notification. The investigation is ongoing.

109th Precinct

Grand Larceny

The NYPD is seeking the public’s assistance in locating the following suspect wanted for a grand larceny. At 12:10 p.m. on Nov. 30, inside the Good Fortune Restaurant located at 46-45 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, the vicitim, a 25-year-old female, placed her purse on her chair and went to the bathroom. Upon her return, she witnessed an unknown female suspect remove her purse, exit the establishment with her property and leave the scene in a black 2013 Mercedes Benz in an unknown direction. The suspect is described an as Asian female with brown eyes and black hair.

115th Precinct

Fatal Collision

At 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 25, in front of 103-08 Astoria Blvd. in Corona, police responded to a 911 call of a pedestrian struck. Upon arrival, officers observed the victim, a 29-year-old male, unconscious and unresponsive with severe body trauma. EMS responded and transported the victim, identified as Enrique Clemente-Ovando, 29, of Corona, to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Preliminary investigation revealed that a vehicle, possibly a beige Toyota Camry with Pennsylvania registration, was traveling eastbound on Astoria Boulevard and struck the victim, who was attempting to cross the street. The vehicle did not remain on the scene. The investigation is ongoing.


Jan. 3-9, 2014 PRESS of Southeast Queens Page 9


Couple Featured At Rose Bowl Parade BY TRIsHA sAkHuJA A Queens married couple showed their everlasting love when they were featured on a brand new eHarmony float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day. The float is meant to inspire those looking for love in the New Year by bringing seven of the more than 600,000 married couples that have found true love on eHarmony to celebrate finding “Everlasting Love” at the annual Rose Bowl Parade. At one point, both Dyna, 33, and Nehemie Juleus, 40, never believed in “happily ever after,” but by finding one another on eHarmony, it changed their way of thinking. “Finding one another on eHarmony not only made us believe in having our own happy ending, but

and her husband is from Roselle Park, N.J., they would drive two hours each way in traffic to see each other, on average four times a week. They soon fell in love and Nehemie proposed to Dyna in Times Square about six months later. “I cried tears of joy because it is an amazing feeling to know that the man I love and adore feels the same and wants me as his wife,” Dyna said. The couple later tied the knot in April 2012. Dyna said their love is everlasting because, “When we feel like we can’t love each other more than we do at that moment in time, God reveals to us time and time again that we have so much love to give.” Reach Reporter Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, tsakhuja@, or @Tsakhuja13.

from Springfield Gardens, decided to send out one last message to a match before withdrawing from the online dating site, and that message was to Nehemie. “His profile was appealing and of course, he’s attractive,” Dyna said. “Within a week, we were on the phone constantly and within two weeks, we had our first date. During this time, we shared so much Dyna and Nehemie Juleus were featured at the of our similarities, like, our Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Haitian background, our Day. ambition to succeed and our joy of laughter.” Nehemie and Dyna’s first date also made us realize how special our bond is and that it doesn’t come eas- took place at a Thai restaurant in Manhattan. “Instantly, when we met, ily,” Dyna said. Dyna and Nehemie’s love story there was chemistry,” Dyna said. Even though Dyna is from Queens is unique, because Dyna, originally

BY JOE MARVILLI Everyone uses assistive technology in their daily lives. Whether it is a pair of glasses, a car or a phone calendar, this type of technology has become engrained in society. An exhibit at the New York Hall of Science is celebrating how innovations are blurring the line between casual use and those who use assistive tech to help with their disabilities. “Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering” is an interactive exhibit that tells the stories of the disabled and the engineers who have created products to help themselves and others live their lives and achieve their dreams. The project was conceived by Eric Siegel, director and chief content officer at NYSCI. His daughter, Lili, has cerebral palsy and uses a walker that he described as “clumsy and inadequate.” About eight years ago, he brought some designers together and asked his daughter what she would want if she could have anything, and how she would design it. This meeting got Eric thinking about how assistive technology is used. “Basically, we’re all wrapped in this ecosystem of technology that extends our abilities,” he said. “The difference between people who use technology because they have disabilities and people who use technology just on their ongoing basis is kind of a fuzzy line.” From there, he started creat-

ing “Human Plus,” after receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation and finding partners in the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Quality of Life Technology Center. The purpose of the display was to put a human face on engineering to broaden interest for young girls and women and to engage people who use assistive technology in helping design the exhibit. “We learned a bunch of things from engaging them. One was that high-tech is not necessarily best. Sometimes low-tech really works well,” Eric said. “The other thing we learned is that the stories of people who use the technology are more interesting than the technology itself.” Many of the stories found in “Human Plus” focus on ordinary people looking to make their lives with a disability a little easier. Carrie Krischke is a veteran who has worked closely with a team of researchers to improve the DEKA prosthetic arm, to replace the one she lost. Unlike older prosthetics, this arm has six different grips and a wrist that rotates. According to Krischke, the new assistive is a significant improvement to what she used to use. Outdoor adventurer Erik Weihenmayer is the only blind person to ever climb Mount Everest. In order to hike, he uses a range of items, from simple ideas like having a fellow hiker ring a bell to help him follow a trail to

advanced technology like adjustable hiking poles or a talking GPS. “Human Plus” will be on display at NYSCI until May 4. The exhibit is free with the cost of admission. Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125,, or @Joey788. Examples of assistive technology at the New York Hall of science exhibit.

Photo by Joe Marvilli

Exhibit Highlights Tech Innovations

Red storm Wins In Brooklyn St. John’s played in just its fourth game in Brooklyn since 1958, defeating Columbia 65-59 at the Barclays Center on Saturday. The Red Storm won two of three games at Barclays this season, in addition to beating St. Francis last season. Although the university is closely associated with Queens, St. John’s was founded in Brooklyn in 1870. Some of the school’s greatest success came at DeGray Gym, where the team went 156-11 from 1932-56. On Dec. 9, 1956, St. John’s beat Roanoke 89-62 in the last home game in Brooklyn, before moving to Alumni Hall (since renamed Carnesecca Arena) in 1961. In 1958, before the days of the three-point line and shot clock, the Redmen defeated Brooklyn College, in what would be the last Brooklyn appearance until 2012. The Red Storm beat St. Francis last year, and then split two games in the Barclays Center Classic earlier this season, before slipping past Co-

lumbia in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival. “This is precisely the game I expected,” Steve Lavin said of his team’s 65-59 win, explaining that “we knew we were in for a dogfight.” Columbia came back from a 14point deficit to go ahead 51-50 in the second half, but St. John’s ended the game on a 15-8 run. “It goes with having a sense of urgency,” said D’Angelo Harrison who led the Red Storm with 15 points. St. John’s helped Columbia stay around, shooting 14-26 from the free throw line, which Steve Lavin bluntly called “atrocious.” The team now enters conference play, as the coach looks to February for his squad to hit its stride. “We believe we can surprise some folks along the way but by the second half of league play we have the potential to develop into a dangerous team.” -David Russell

Page 10 PRESS of Southeast Queens Jan. 3-9, 2014

Queens today

saTURDay 1/4

Pranayama workshoP Fitness expert Nikki Lopez will host a Pranayama Workshop. The event will teach people how to increase awareness through practicing classic yoga techniques. The exercise intends to strengthen your respiratory and soothe your nervous system. The event will take place at BambooMoves at 107-40 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills. It begins at 2:30 p.m. and finishes at 4:30 p.m. It costs $20 for the class.

PineaPPle exPress

The Laughing Devil Comedy Club in Long Island City will present the movie “Pineapple Express” as part of its classic movie series at 1 and 3 p.m. Come watch the movie on the club’s 125-inch screen while enjoying food and beverages. The Laughing Devil is located at 47-38 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City. For information, visit www.

Pirate Pete’s Parrot: the seCret theatre

To start off the New Year, climb on board and get ready for adventure in The Secret Theatre’s new children’s musical, “Pirate Pete’s Parrot.” In the tradition of the first popular show produced in the 1700s, Pirate Pete’s Parrot promises music, mischief and a boatload of laughs for both children and adults. Pete embarks on a journey complete with songs, sword fights, and plenty of audience interaction, writer and star, Richard Mazda said. The theater is located at 44-02 23rd St., LIC. The play starts at 2 p.m. Adult tickets

are $15 and for children it is $10. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit trs/pe.c/9849459.

sUNDay 1/5

livinG on the Border

“Living On The Border: Taiwanese Video Works” is this week’s entry in the Queens International biennial series at The Queens Museum. Taking place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the exhibit will show a group of short films from Taiwanese artists. Among those features are “Escape From North Korea” by Chang Chien-Chi, “The Route” by Chen Chieh-jen, “Marshal Tie Jia- Turtle Island” by Hsu Chia-Wei, “The Center of the World” by Jun Yang and “Ventriloquists: Liang Mei-Lang” by Yu Cheng-Ta. For more information, call (718) 5929700.

CandleliGht toUr

Take a candlelight tour of the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood. It’s a special evening featuring music and refreshments. It runs from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Onderdonk House is located at 1820 Flushing Ave. in Ridgewood. For information, call (718) 456-1776.

Canned food drive

Chairman Will Dionisio, of Atomic Fuel Oil Company and Kiwanis AstoriaLong Island City, has organized and executed two community service events this Thanksgiving season. One of which is the Turkey Voucher program -- an annual program where Kiwanis donates 130+ 12 lb. turkeys to local charity organizations. They also helped the community this season with an Annual Food Drive program in which they collected non-perishables for the underprivileged. The giving will continue


sUNDay 1/5

little makers: Creative CirCUitry

The New York Hall of Science will present “Creative Circuitry,” the latest workshop in the Little Makers series. Attendees will explore conductivity using everyday materials in thrilling experiments. They will use copper tape, LEDs, paper and cardboard to make your own light-up creation. There is an $8 materials fee, with paid general admission. The New York Hall of Science is located at 47-01 111th St. For more information, call (718) 699-0005.

past the holidays till Jan. 5. For more information, visit node/223.

TUEsDay 1/7 Crafternoon

The Forest Hills Library will host a Tuesday afternoon event called “Tuesday Crafternoons.” Children ages five and older will do arts and crafts, which will allow them to explore their creative side and socialize with their neighbors at the same time. The event will run from 3:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. The library is located at 108-19 71st Ave. in Forest Hills.

Bayside Bookworms

The Bayside-based book group will hold a discussion about “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt at the Barnes and Noble in Bay Terrace at 7 p.m. The novel is about a 13-yearold New Yorker who survives an accident that kills his mother. He is taken in by a wealthy friend, but has trouble adjusting to his new life, his schoolmates and his longing for his mother. A small painting that reminds him of her draws him into the underworld of art. The Barnes and Noble is located at Bay Terrace S.C., 23-80 Bell Blvd.

WEDNEsDay 1/8 Jazz CliniC and Jam

Flushing Town Hall will hold its monthly jazz clinic and jazz jamming

session at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively. The clinic is for high school students or older, where they can learn arrangements and curriculum from the Queens Jazz Overground. Free Metro Cards and free admission to the jam session are provided. The jazz jam is open to professional jazz musicians, graduate students studying jazz and music educators. It costs $10 for general admission, but is free for performers, students and members. Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Blvd.

ClaPton triBUte

Bell Bottom Blues, an Eric Clapton tribute band, will play Resorts World Casino. The band will cover Clapton classics such as “Motherless Children,” “Cocaine” and “Crossroads.” The show will begin at 8 p.m. Resorts World is located at 110-00 Rockaway Blvd, in South Ozone Park.

THURsDay 1/9

ers who give blood will receive a 20 percent discount on one regular price item.

“the dininG room” aUditions

Theatre Box will hold auditions at 7:30 p.m. for its production of “The Dining Room.” The tryouts will take place in the parlor of the church at 35 Verbena Ave., Floral Park. The play has around 50 different characters and only one set. It is prop- and costume-heavy. Besides the many acting positions that are open, Theatre Box is also looking for a stage manager, property master/mistress and costume master/mistress. There will be additional auditions at the same time on Jan. 10 and Jan. 14. For more information, please call (917) 863-6577 or email lenzo.kate@gmail. com.

ameriCana ConCert

Singer-songwriter DB Rielly will perform a collection of Americana music, spanning several genres, from 9-11 p.m. at Winegasm, 31-86 37th St., Astoria. Admission is free. For information, visit www. or

Got events? Blood drive

The New York Mets and the New York Blood Center will host a winter blood drive from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Caesers Club at Citi Field. Fans donating blood will receive a pair of tickets to a select Mets game in April. Season ticket hold-

send all information to or mail to: Queens Tribune 150-50 14th Rd., Whitestone, Ny 11357

Jan. 3-9, 2014 PRESS of Southeast Queens Page 11


Jamaica Man Goes From Homeless To Homework BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA

I lived in the streets and I couldn’t find my way back. I used narcotics John Wright, 59, is finishing up and I was in and out of prison, doing his last year at York College and is petty crimes.” After several stints in the penitensharing his life experiences with others as a motivational speaker. But tiary, an older and wiser Wright said that one day, while his journey back to colsitting in jail, he had lege, he said, was not an easy one. “Being an older a rude awakening and began to realize that Before he moved to he had the power to Jamaica to pursue his man in school, change his destiny. academic career for a I’m trying to “When I was incarsecond time, Wright cerated, I had time suffered from an alco- keep up. York to think about it and hol and drug addiction I decided that this is that eventually spiraled College was not where I needed him into homeless- there for me.” to be,” he said. “As I ness. “I did not have -John Wright got older, I just looked one day and saw what proper role models. was going on in my My role models were neighborhood and the degenerates from the street – drug dealers,” he said. “I part I played in it.” After he was released from jail, assimilated with them and thought that it was a right of passage – that is Wright became focused on his recovwhat I had to do in order to survive. ery and was filled with a new sense

of purpose. He eventually found a 12Step program and never looked back. After being sober for a year and getting himself back on his feet, he decided he wanted to go back to school. Inspired to help those who faced similar challenges, Wright decided to take classes at York College, majoring in community health, with the goal of one day starting up his own nonprofit. “As a community, we have a need for mentors,” he said. “Young people looked up to the guys who had the best sneakers, but that’s not a good role model. That’s how I used to look at it. I didn’t look at the guys who wake up every morning and taking care of their families.” Although Wright admits that returning to college in his 50s has not been easy, he is grateful that he has so many professors at York that have helped him and encouraged him on the way. “I have professors I call my mentors and they want the best for me,”

he said. “When I get down on myself, they’ll tell me it’s alright and to hang in there. They give me the support I really, really need. Being an older man in school, I’m trying to keep up. York College was there for me.” Last semester, Wright even enrolled in a “Drug Use and Abuse” course – a subject he was very interested in as a recovering drug addict. He had done so well in the course that his professor, Martin Colucci, gave him a final grade of A+ and asked Wright to visit Manhattan College to share his story of recovery as a paid guest speaker. As he comes to the end of his long journey, Wright said he is eager to graduate next fall and work as a certified drug and addiction counselor, using his personal experience as his motivation. Reach Reporter Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or or @nkozikowska.

People Army Reserve Pvt. Thomas Yoo has graduated from One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Leonard Wood, Waynesville, Mo., which included basic military training and advanced individual training (AIT). During basic military training, the trainee received instruction in drill and ceremony, weapons qualification, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army doctrine, history, principles and traditions. During AIT, the soldier completed the military police specialist course to acquire skills to provide combat area support, conduct battlefield circulation control, area security, prisoner of war operations, civilian internee operations, and law and order operations. Yoo is the son of Jimmy and Sharon Yoo of Little Neck and is a 2011 graduate of Queens High School for the Sciences at York College in Jamaica. Local students took part in innovative projects as part of Project: Pomfret at the Pomfret School in Connecticut. Isaiah Henderson of Jamaica was on a student-faculty team whose

project was titled “99 Problems But A Story Ain’t One of Them.” Fayoni Olusesi of Jamaica was on a student-faculty team whose project was titled “The Individual and the Community.” Army Pvt. Hassan A. Jackson has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga. During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. Jackson is the son of Kayyisa Williams and nephew of Aishah Bakee, both of Jamaica, and is a 2011 graduate of Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Jamaica. The Noguchi Museum screens a documentary on the Shanghai Animation Studio, which was effectively halted by the Cultural Revolution in 1965, from 5-8 p.m. Jan. 3. Admission is free on the first Friday of the month as part of “First Fridays,” a program that includes a guided discussion on a single work of art on view. NM, 9-01 33rd Rd., LIC, www.

Holiday Party:

Youngsters from the Police Athletic League’s Maple Academy in Jamaica enjoy the festivities at the Police Athletic League’s annual holiday party. The Greater Ridgewood Historical Society will sponsor a candlelight tour of the Onderdonk House from 6-8 p.m. on Jan. 5. The evening will include music and refreshments by candlelight. The Onderdonk House is located at 1820 Flushing Ave., Flushing. For information, call (718) 456-1776 or visit

The Queens Zoo has announced registration for its winter/spring 2014 Little Hatchlings program. The winter session will run Wednesdays, January through March. The Spring series will run Wednesdays from March 26 to June 4. Cost is $250 members, $270 for non-members. For information, call (718) 271-1500 or visit

Page 12 PRESS of Southeast Queens Jan. 3-9, 2014


Hollis Church Hosts Liturgical Conference BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA In an effort to encourage ministries in the Tri-State area to embrace song, dance and drama as a form of worship, the Hollis Presbyterian Church will host a weekend-long arts conference centered around the theme, “As It Is Written; A Journey Through the Scriptures.” Andrew Lloyd, the liturgical dance minister at the church, began the tradition three years ago after realizing there was some disconnect between parishioners and the traditional type of worship – spoken word. “I saw that there was a need, especially for people in our area, for there to be a revival,” Lloyd said. “This is a worship arts revival and it gives the opportunity for people to grow and learn, and as they’re learning, they also grow deeper in their faith. Some church circles,

unfortunately, do not embrace arts worship and this trains ministries to do that.” In his experiences, Lloyd said he feels that using song, drama and dance helps congregants build a stronger relationship with God and a better understanding of the Word. “Everyone receives the gospel in a different way and one of these forms that God gave us was the creative arts,” he said. “A lot of times, the spoken Word doesn’t reach people in the same way as when they see it visually – through dance, vocal production and drama.” The liturgical conference has been very well-received by different church groups across the Tri-State area. In many instances, Lloyd said, other ministries duplicate the conference for their worshipers. “Because of coming to our conference, many groups have in turn

started to put together their own conferences. That is the essence of all of this,” he said. “It’s about empowering and teaching people so that they can go back to their communities and develop their ministries and give back to their congregations.” The event, which is open to the public, is geared towards Christians of all ages – an aspect Lloyd said was crucially important. “I try to invite youth ministries as well as older groups, because we learn from each other,” he said. “It is a model for the younger ones to realize that we won’t be here forever and we are training you to be the leaders so you can carry on the legacy and tradition.” “A lot of the times we don’t empower our youth and we don’t give them opportunities to minister and grow in their faith and they end up

leaving the faith,” he added. “They don’t see the connection to the longevity of the ministry. I’m very key on passing on the mantle and empowering the next generation.” The conference will be held at the Hollis Presbyterian Church from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5. Workshops will take place on Friday, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets to the workshops are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. The concerts and presentations will be held on Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. and are free. The Hollis Presbyterian Church is located at 100-50 196th St., Hollis. For more information, call (718) 776-4646. Reach Reporter Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or or @nkozikowska.


Schools Chancellor

Bill de Blasio Names Schools Chancellor BY JOE MARVILLI

Photo by Luis Gronda

Brooklyn, de Blasio touted Fariña’s record within the City’s pubOn Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio lic school system, emphasizing her announced his pick to lead the City experience as an educator. Fariña is the first educator to be named school system. As 2013 came to a close, de Bla- Schools Chancellor since Rudy sio appointed Carmen Fariña, a life- Crew, who held the position from long veteran educator, to become the 1995 to 1999. Fariña began her career as a teachCity’s new Schools Chancellor, a position that puts her in charge of the er at PS 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. largest school system in the country, She later became the principal of with more than 1.1 million students. PS 6 in Manhattan, which rose to During a press conference in become one of the top 10 schools citywide in reading and math while she was there. She returned to Brooklyn as the superintendent for School District 15 and was then appointed Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning in 2004. While she was deputy chancellor, Fariña promoted increased interventions for middle Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Carmen Fariña to be school students, inSchools Chancellor, the first educator to hold the posi- cluding $40 million tion in more than a decade. to support Saturday

“Raising the success rate of our students is the only goal. I anticipate the entire City will aid us on this effort.” —Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña classes, organizational workshops, counseling for parents and teacher training. De Blasio worked with Fariña when they were both on the board of School District 15. Fariña indicated that she would have a much more collaborative style that considers the input of teachers and parents, a trait that the Bloomberg administration was often criticized for lacking. “True change happens not through mandates and top-down decision making, but through communication, collaboration and celebrating the successes along the way,” Fariña said. “Raising the success rate of our students is the only goal. I anticipate the entire City will aid us on this effort.” Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-

Jackson Heights), a member of the Education Committee, praised Fariña’s appointment. “With the selection of Ms. Fariña, our city is gaining a chancellor who understands that universal early childhood education, high-quality after-school programs, a de-emphasis on testing and consistent parental involvement are key to student success,” he said. Former chancellor Dennis Walcott was also pleased with his replacement’s selection. “I have known Carmen for many years, and she is a deeply committed educator with a true passion for improving our schools,” he said. “I wish her well.” Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125,, or @Joey788.

Jan. 3-9, 2014 PRESS of Southeast Queens Page 13

What’s Up JAN. 4 Winter Workout Join EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care for a cardio workout that can enhance your overall health and improve circulation and endurance. The class will help you work on building muscle with strength training. Please let your doctor know you will be taking part in an exercise class before participating. This event is free and will be held at the EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care Center in Cambria Heights. The center is located at 206-20 Linden Blvd.

JAN. 5 Urban Book Club Queens Central Library will review books from various genres, both fiction and non-fiction. Many of the books reviewed are urbanthemed. Books are voted upon by club members. Supplementary activities are also incorporated into club meetings on a regular basis. The group meets at the main floor meeting room on the first Sunday of every month. All are welcome to join. The book club is free and will be held at the Queens Central Library at 2:30 p.m.

Middle Eastern Music and Dance Singer Waleed Albakry will perform classic and modern Middle Eastern music by such celebrated artists as Abdel Wahab, Oum Kalthoum, Abdel Halim Hafez, Amr Diab and Hakim. There will also be a performance by belly dancer Jordan. The free event will be held at Queens Central Library at 3 p.m.

Sitting Exercise As part of its new health series, the EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care Center in Cambria Heights will hold a free sitting exercise class. This workout can help you improve your stability and balance. The workshop will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at the center located at 206-20 Linden Blvd. For more information, call (866) 539-0999 or visit

JAN. 7 Your Health Benefits Explained Here is a chance for EmblemHealth members and nonmembers to sit with a healthcare solutions specialist for a personalized explanation of your benefits so you can stay healthy, get well and live better. In your one-on-one session, you can expect a personal tour of your health benefits, tools to help strengthen your relationship with your doctor, connections to a nurse, program navigator, social worker or pharmacist to help you understand and follow through with your treatment plan and information on community and social service resources right in your neighborhood. All sessions are by appointment only, so reserve your session today. To RSVP, call 1-866-539-0999.

JAN. 8 Movie Night: “2 Guns” Queens Central Library will have a free screening of the movie, “2 Guns” at the library at 6 p.m. The movie, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, is Rated R.

JAN. 9 Robbi K and Friends commemo- Intro To Spanish This introductory class, led by rate the 50th anniversary of Dr.

Songs of Freedom

Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech with a performance of protest and freedom songs along with a slide presentation and stories of their personal experiences of this time in history. The event is free and will be held at the Queens Central Library from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

a certified Spanish-language instructor, focuses on practical conversational skills for non-Spanish speakers who wish to improve their Spanish. The group will be kept small and space is limited. The class is free and will be held at the Queens Central Library at 6 p.m. Preregistration is required.

JAN. 6 Low-Impact Zumba

Classic Films at Noon: “Dark Victory”

As part of its new health series, the EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care Center in Cambria Heights will hold a free low-impact zumba class for all community residents. The free program will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the center, located at 206-20 Linden Blvd. For more information, call (866) 539-0999 or visit

Queens Central Library will have a free screening of the 1939 classic movie, “Dark Victory.” The movie, starring Bette Davis and George Brent, is not rated.

JAN. 12 Open Mic Night Poet, essayist and translator

Claire Van Winkle will host a free open mic night at Queens Central Library at 2 p.m. Van Winkle received her BA from NYU and is currently completing an MFA in poetry writing and literary translation at Queens College, where she also teaches undergraduate writing and literature.

JAN. 15 eBook Publishing Workshop Katherine Garrigan, production editor for the Newtown Literary, will discuss eBooks, including new technologies for writers, resources and programs for creating eBooks and information on crafting and publishing your own e-book. This workshop is free and will be held at the Queens Central Library at 6:30 p.m.

Community Board 12 Month Meeting Join Community Board 12 for their first meeting of 2014. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center. The Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center is located at 172-12 Linden Blvd., St. Albans.

Volunteer Open House The Voelker Orth Museum will hold an open house for attendees to learn about volunteer opportunities while enjoying a cup of tea. Volunteers play an important role at the Museum, helping in the garden, getting word out about programs, participating in educational programs, working on research and offering a welcome at festivals and concerts. The open house runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call (718) 359-6227 or email info@

JAN. 16 Natural Pain-Relief Solutions Rosemarie Cartagine, founder of Cartagine Chiropractic and Wellness in Rockville Centre, will discuss natural approaches to reducing and relieving pain. This free workshop will be held at the Queens Central Library at 11:30 a.m.

ONGOING: Homework Help The Laurelton Library will provide free homework help for children in grades 1-6. The library offers after school homework assistance in math, writing and other subjects. The program runs everyday after school, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., except holidays. The library

is located at 134-26 225th St., Laurelton. Fore more information, call (718) 528-2822 or visit

Learn How To Play Chess Every Thursday, the Rochdale Village Library will offer a free program to learn chess for kids and teens. The program is open to beginners, advanced players and everyone else in between. The program is held from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Rochdale Village Library is located at 169-09 137th Ave.

Overcoming Barriers to Employment Every Friday, the Queens Central Library in Jamaica helps residents experiencing barriers to employment. A Job Information Center case manager is available on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to discuss potential problems you may have regarding child care, housing, immigration, degree evaluation, healthcare, goal and career planning, former incarceration, education and training and more. To schedule an appointment, call (718) 480-4222 or stop by the Job Information Center. No registration is required and the service is free.

Volunteer to Be a Mentor Forestdale is launching a new mentoring program called “Future Prep: Successfully Transitioning Youth to Adolescence”, or STYA. The program is designed to attract community-minded people who may not be able to commit to foster parenting, but nevertheless want to make a significant investment in the lives of children. We are looking for mentors 18 years and older to work with children ages 9-12 for one year. Teams of two mentors will each work with five mentees. Starting in January 2014 there will be four 10-week sessions throughout the year, each running for three hours on Saturdays from 10am to 1 pm. The program will take place at their new Hollis Community Center located at 203-09 Hollis Ave., Hollis. This is an excellent opportunity to truly make a difference is someone’s life, build meaningful relationship and be part of an enthusiastic, compassionate and supportive environment in addition to a great learning experience with the opportunity to learn about a multitude of issues facing underprivileged youth in New York City today. For additional information, contact Mirzya Syed, Youth Volunteer Coordinator, at Msyed@ or (718) 263.0740 Ext. 365.

The Plot Thickens Since we first reported that City Councilmembers were being promised prominent committee chair positions in order to vote a particular way on the Council Speaker race, more news continues to bubble. *While Mayor Bill de Blasio's preferred candidate, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, continues to tout her victory, rival Dan Garodnik has kept up a "waitand-see" approach. The Manhattan councilman reportedly has 20 votes backing him for speaker and is looking to add the six more needed to give him control. Sources have confirmed to QConf that a number of those who have said that some of Mark-Viverito's supporters could be willing to switch their votes to support Garodnik. These councilmembers, however, do not wish to reveal their hands too soon before the Jan. 8 vote, out of fear of pressure from the new Mayor. Last week, QConf reported on a number of potential committee chairs being handed out.

This week, sources have told us that Mayor de Blasio could name Dan Squadron as his Taxi and Limousine commissioner. Squadron took new Public Advocate Letitia James to the limit in the Sept. 10 primary, forcing a runoff in October, which James won. While debates rage behind the scenes, another player entered the fray this week. Numerous reports have stated that Queens native Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is opposed to Mark-Viverito as speaker. While Cuomo has denied these comments, it seems as though the Governor is attempting to avoid overtly going to war with the new Mayor over the Speaker issue. There is only one week left beforte the City Council votes on the new Speaker. If Gov. Cuomo exerts his power to push more votes over to Garodnik, he could be sending a message to Mayor de Blasio as to who has the real political muscle in New York State.

Semantical Call-In

Public Advocate-elect Letitia James prefers the word “blended” instead of “mixed” when it comes to multi-racial families. During a late-December episode of the Brian Lehrer Show on WYNC, the topic of discussion was “mixed” families during its two hour “family meeting” segment. All types of the challenges and advantages of having a diverse family were discussed, from race to income to religion and more. James called in, but would not speak on air to say “mixed” does not describe a multi-racial family’s dynamics as well as the

word “blended” does. Despite not wanting to appear on air, Ms. James hijacked the show, as the hosts continued to discuss her call. We here at QConf are trying to understand what the difference is, so we looked it up. According to the MerriamWebster Dictionary, the word mixed means “including or involving people of different races or religions.” The word “blended” means “to exist together as a combination.” So essentially it’s the same definition. Thanks for calling in Ms. James, but really, there was no need.

Power Of The Puppy

While college students typically party long into the night to de-stress while studying for finals, one university in the Borough offered a furry alternative. Queens College hosted a group of puppies and therapy dogs late last month, offering its students a chance to pet and hold the precious canines during the most stressful time of the semester. The College’s student association set up a private room

in the school’s library with eight dogs overall, six of which were young pups. The canines were borrowed from a doggy day care in Brooklyn. While it is unknown if this had any effect on students final grades, more universities should be creative like this when offering extracurricular activities to its student body. Besides, this idea was a lay up like Stephen Curry shooting a three-pointer. Who doesn't like puppies?



Page 14 PRESS of Southeast Queens Jan. 3-9, 2014

writers OF QUeeNs

Renee Simpson

QConf is edited by: Steven J. Ferrari Contributors: Luis Gronda, Natalia Kozikowska, Joe Marvilli, Marcia Moxom Comrie, Michael Nussbaum, Trisha Sakhuja, Michael Schenkler.

Follow us on Twitter: @QueensTrib Like us on Facebook QueensTrib

Ending the Year Right

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras had a fantastic 2013, both personally and professionally: the East Elmhurst council member who raised her profile with the battles over Willets Point and Flushing Meadows Corona Park also welcomed a new baby boy to her family hours after the polls closed for the September primary. As rumors persist that she will be named the new Majority Leader if Melissa MarkViverito is voted Council Speaker, it would be hard to make the year any better. On Christmas Day, Ferreras managed it, when her boyfriend put a ring on her finger and proposed. After announcing the engagement on Twitter, her fellow Progressive Caucus members, including Mark-Viverito and Jumaane Williams, sent out congratulatory tweets, wishing Ferreras well. Celebrating so many milestones in 2013, it will be interesting to see whether Ferreras can make 2014 an even better year. Helping Mark-Viverito become speaker could be a good start.

Renee Simpson has always been writing, even before she had the mechanics down. “As a very young child, I used to make up songs and sing them out the window,” she said. “Once a neighbor caught me, and I felt embarrassed, so I was very happy when I learned how to actually write.” Simpson’s first book, “I Can’t Swim,” is a collection of 10 fictional memoirs that look at the lives of The Applewhites family. Mostly set in 1984 in Astoria, the stories are reflections of the author’s own childhood. The idea to split the book into separate vignettes was taken from her “greatest inspiration,” David Sedaris, particularly his book “Naked.” “I liked the idea of a nonlinear story, one that would invite the reader to study the characters in pieces. It was always important to me to show the reader the characters, and let the reader form their own impressions,” she said. “The short story format allowed me to show the characters in totally different story settings, and that way I could provide different angles on their character. People are not straightforward, and I felt the short story structure of my book should reflect that.” Simpson’s childhood is also where her path as a

writer came together. In 1988, when she was 11 years old, her homeroom teacher at PS 10 unexpectedly became ill and she wrote him a get well card. Her homeroom teacher later passed away and the art teacher got a hold of the card she wrote for him. He asked her to write the In Memoriam page for the yearbook that year. By the time she got to New York University, she knew she would be an English major. As a lifelong resident of Astoria, the neighborhood has completely permeated her writing style. “It was a tough and beautiful place in which to grow up, which made it - and still makes it - a perfect study in humanity,” she said. “The families I grew up with were mostly single mother homes where survival was a bit of a struggle. The struggle, however, didn't have the effect of making families angry, but rather very funny.” Despite her experiences, Simpson still faced the challenges of writing her first book. She said the biggest difficulty was overcoming her own limitations. She was also worried about finding a publisher that would be interested in what she had to say. “The greatest challenge I had to overcome was to meet all my survival needs and still have time and energy to write," Simpson said. "I think every writer and artist faces this challenge. I managed through an unwavering determination to complete the book.” Simpson is now writing a second book about the search for God and a boyfriend. She is also working on an original television pilot. “I Can’t Swim” is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Got Talent?

If you can dance, sing, draw, write or have any other talents and live in Queens, be sure to e-mail for inclusion in a future edition.









Jan. 3-9, 2014 PRESS of Southeast Queens Page 15

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PUT CARE ON YOUR CALENDAR IN JANUARY Visit us at the Neighborhood Room 206-20 Linden Blvd. Cambria Heights

At EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care you’ll find new programs every month to help you stay healthy, get well and live better. All classes are FREE and open to the public.

2 Thursday

7 Tuesday

13 Monday

Dining Diversities for Diabetics 10:30–11:30 am Meditation Made Easy 2:00–3:00 pm

Keeping it Simple: YOUR Health Benefits Explained 11:00 am–6:00 pm (Call for your 1:1 appointment)

Low Impact Zumba 10:30–11:30 am Sitting Exercise 12:00 Noon–1:00 pm

3 Friday

8 Wednesday

14 Tuesday

Low Impact Zumba 10:30–11:30 am

Chair Yoga 11:30 am–12:30 pm

9 Thursday

15 Wednesday

EHNC Community Partnership 9:30–11:00 am Low Impact Zumba 11:30 am–12:30 pm

4 Saturday Sarcoidosis Support Group 3:00–4:00 pm Winter Workout 5:00–6:00 pm

6 Monday Low Impact Zumba 10:30–11:30 am Sitting Exercise 12:00 Noon–1:00 pm

Cell Phone Literacy For Older Adults 10:30–11:30 am

10 Friday Low Impact Zumba 11:30 am–12:30 pm

11 Saturday Healthcare Reform (Obama Care 101)

10:30–11:30 am Relaxing Massage 1:00–4:00 pm Winter Workout 5:00–6:00 pm

Group Health Incorporated (GHI), HIP Health Plan of New York (HIP), HIP Insurance Company of New York and EmblemHealth Services Company, LLC are EmblemHealth companies. EmblemHealth Services Company, LLC provides administrative services to the EmblemHealth companies. Neighborhood Care is a division of EmblemHealth. ©EmblemHealth Inc. 2013, All Rights Reserved.

For a full calendar of events and to RSVP visit us at or call 1-866-539-0999

Low Impact Zumba 10:30–11:30 am

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