City Officials Address Concerns at Property Tax Workshop

Dozens of south Queens residents and business owners braved single-digit temperatures on Monday night in the hopes of getting some answers to their property-tax questions at a Town Hall in Broad Channel. Convened by City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and hosted by the Broad Channel Civic Association and VFW Post 260, the workshop featured representatives from of the Tax Commission and city Department of Finance, who sat down individually with property owners to detail the process and address their … Continue reading

Katz Celebrates Black History Month

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz hosted a celebration of Black History Month this week at York College in Jamaica. Several distinguished African Americans and organizations received citations of honor during the event, and eight high school seniors were presented with scholarships of $1000 each. The scholarship winners were based on their academic and civic achievement and on the quality of their written submission as to what Black History Month means to them.

Criminal Officials: Money is Not the Only Motive

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Sir John Dalberg-Acton’s astute observation has endured for more than 100 years. Last week, The Forum profiled a rogue’s gallery of elected officials from Queens who put faces to Dalberg-Acton’s succinct statement, illustrating impact of that corruption. The paper’s previous story told you the Who. But what about the Why? According to psychologist Dr. Ronald Riggio, leadership is all about power and influence. Leaders use their power to get things done. A simple distinction is between … Continue reading

Rockaway Parks to Get Federal Sandy-Relief Money

Elected officials last week announced more than $1 million in federal funding for eight Rockaway parks that sustained extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy. The funding—$1, 207, 961 to be exact—is being provided to the city Department of Parks and Recreation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program. The money is earmarked for Sandy-related permanent repairs at these hard-hit parks on the peninsula: Rockaway Beach 30th Street Playground, in which 12,528 square feet of safety surface lost during the … Continue reading

LI Man Indicted on Hate Crime Charges in Ozone Park Incident

A Queens grand jury has indicted a Long Island man on hate crime charges for a July, 2014 incident in which he allegedly called a Sikh man “Osama” and then intentionally rammed his pick-up truck into the victim and dragged his body along an Ozone Park street before fleeing, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Joseph Caleca, 55, was arraigned last Wednesday on a nine-count indictment charging him with one count of second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime, … Continue reading

Cops Bust Man Running Drugs Out of Daycare Facility

A Woodhaven man on Thursday was arrested and arraigned on drug, child endangerment and other charges for selling marijuana and other drugs out of the basement of his family’s residence—which also operates as a family daycare center and is less than 1,500 feet from two Catholic elementary schools, according to police and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Michael Gomez, 24, who lives in the same 88th Avenue building in which My Precious Moments, a group family daycare facility operated by … Continue reading

Editorial: Jon Stewart: Not Faking It

Last week the editorial focused on Brian Williams and his problematic, evolving recollections of time in an Iraqi helicopter during the war.  In the midst of the controversy surrounding his suspension from NBC, his good friend Jon Stewart announced he’d be retiring from The Daily Show by year’s end.  Only moments separated the two events.  For those of us who liked the guys, it was a 1-2 punch. Jon Stewart has been hosting the show since 1998.  Steve Carell, renowned … Continue reading

From the Publisher: Start All Over

Often dismissed as advisory groups with no real influence, community boards can actually greatly affect the daily quality of life of all residents and business owners. Each vote, each action, each instance of advocacy can potentially impact dozens of neighborhoods and thousands of people. Ostensibly, community boards are there to look out for you, to apply checks and balances at the grassroots level. The power the community boards wield is not lost on observers (certainly not in this space) or … Continue reading

Brave Howard Beach Girl Preps for Third Heart Surgery

The little girl with the rosy red cheeks that bookend a cherubic smile that could melt every ice-capped mound of snow along Cross Bay Boulevard seems tired. It’s understandable. Aside from the normal amount of daily rest every toddler requires, this 2-year-old has been through a lot. Valentina Allen’s third open-heart surgery since she arrived on Feb. 15, 2013, is scheduled for April 1. She was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital defect marked by a severely … Continue reading

DOT, NYPD Unveil Pedestrian Safety Plan for Queens

Parts of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sweeping Vision Zero program have yet to be completed and rolled out, but on Tuesday the administration unveiled the first of five pivotal VZ pieces: the Queens Borough Pedestrian Safety Plan—characterized by the Department of Transportation and NYPD as “a major step” toward achieving zero traffic fatalities on city streets. The Borough Plans are one of 63 VZ initiatives announced last year, and were developed by integrating detailed crash analysis with input from 28 … Continue reading

Schumer: Proposed Drone Rules “Solid First Step”

The Federal Aviation Administration’s long-awaited update to proposed regulations regarding drones was released Sunday.  U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, an outspoken advocate for amended guidelines, appeared moderately satisfied with the proposal, which focuses on commercial applications of drones as opposed to the use of drones as model or hobbyist aircraft. “These FAA rules are a solid first step but need a lot more refining. I am pleased that they require drones to fly below 500 feet and significantly outside of airport … Continue reading

Ozone Park Native Reappointed Commissioner of Mayor’s Disability Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio this week announced the reappointment of Queens native Victor Calise as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Calise, an Ozone Park product who earned degrees from St. John’s University and Queens College, has been MOPD commissioner since former Mayor Bloomberg appointed him to the post in 2012. “I am honored to be chosen by Mayor de Blasio to continue to lead this office and serve New Yorkers with disabilities,” Calise said. “It has … Continue reading

A Long Line of Cheats: Many Corrupt Officials Have Called Queens Home

  It was not too many years ago that it seemed that Malcolm Smith was a protagonist making history for all the proper reasons. In 2009, he became the first African-American majority leader of the state Senate, instantly positioning himself as one of the most powerful politicians in New York. Less than six years and one federal conviction later, Smith is a footnote of that history; the latest in a long line of unscrupulous elected officials who have at some … Continue reading

Driver Dead After Plowing Car Through Eatery Wall; Howard Beach Man’s Suicide Note Found on Passenger Seat

A Howard Beach man died last Saturday morning shortly after plowing his car through the wall of a popular Ozone Park Chinese restaurant, according to police. The unidentified man, believed to be in his early 20s, left a suicide note on the passenger seat of the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu, a police source confirmed. The incident occurred around 9:20 a.m., and he was pronounced dead about an hour later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. According to the source, a witness saw … Continue reading

Woodhaven Murder Ends City’s 12-Day Homicide Streak

Prior to last Saturday, the city had gone nearly two weeks without a single homicide; an unprecedented streak, especially for a metropolis of New York’s size and density. The 12-day record came to a violent end shortly before noon on Friday, as a 28-year-old man was shot in the head, leg and hand on 89th Street in Woodhaven, according to police and published reports. Eric Roman was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, where he remained in critical condition until he succumbed … Continue reading