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Newsletter Spring 2013
Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together
Commuter Vans Continue to Conduct Business in Unauthorized Zones
Commuter vans can be seen regularly picking up passengers on 52nd Drive between 69th and 70th Streets in Maspeth. This is one of the many unauthorized stops made in Maspeth as well as in Elmhurst and Woodside/Winﬁeld.
Story on page 5.
Photo by D. Conlon
People Who Care
Comet member John Rafferty and friend Ryan Murphy traveled to Haiti on November 24th through December 1st as volunteers for Haven US, an organization which helped build homes for those who were affected by the devastating earthquake of 2010. John raised over $10,000 for himself and Ryan for travel-
ing expenses. During the trip, the men were involved in the new construction of over 100 homes. They had the opportunity to meet with the local people and saw firsthand their poor living conditions. He helped build the homes that many of these families will now be able to live in.
Irish Day of Action
unteered their time to help rebuild the homes of those affected by the devastating hurricane Sandy. We commend John and Ryan for taking the time to help those not as fortunate as us. We also want to thank those who contributed money to make their trip possible. If everyone took a minute to do just one unselfish act, this would be a much greater world to live in.
Photos provided by John Rafferty
If going to Haiti wasn’t enough, John Rafferty and Ryan Murphy also committed themselves to an Irish Day to Action here in Rockaway, Queens. They vol-
People Who Don’t Care
This photo was taken on the corner of Mazeau Street at Grand Avenue on December 31st. We can’t understand why people insist on dumping illegally and risk getting a fine when they can just dispose of the trash and recycling on their pickup days. Sisters Linda Daquaro and Shirley Warren (in photo) are fed up with inconsiderate people who are turning our community into a dump. There used to be a garbage pail on this corner but if you look at the photo you’ll notice it’s gone. Apparently bad habits are hard to break for some people and we all have to suffer as a result.
Photo by Linda Daquaro Pg. 2 Spring 2013 COMET
NYPD ATM “Skimming” Tips
ATM “Skimming” is an illegal activity that involves the installation of a device, usually undetectable by ATM users, that secretly records bank account data when the user inserts an ATM card into the machine. Criminals can then encode the stolen data onto a blank card and use it to steal money from the customer’s bank account. HOW IT WORKS: The criminal places the skimmer, which is usually made from plastic or plaster and looks very much like the original card reader, directly over the ATM card reader undetectable to the customer. As the customers insert their ATM cards into the false skimmer, their bank account information on the cards magnetic strip is “skimmed” or stolen and usually stored on some electronic device. A hidden camera is used in conjunction with the skimming device in order to record the customer’s Personal Identification Number. In lieu of a hidden camera, a keypad overlay, placed directly over the installed keypad, is sometimes used to record the user punching in their PIN. The skimmer device is placed over the ATM card reader, undetectable to the customer. HOW TO AVOID BEING SKIMMED: • Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it. Be suspicious if you see anything loose crooked or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive tape/residue. The original card reader is usually concave in shape (curving inward), while the skimmer is more convex (curving outward). • When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number. • If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals installing skimmers) • Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas - they are a popular target of skimmers • If your card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel”, immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card. • Be aware of “Money Trapping”, where the criminal attaches a device to the cash dispenser “trapping” the customer’s money and retrieves it after the customer leaves the ATM area.
Small Improvements Make a Big Difference!
Many years ago, the NYC Department of Transportation installed parking meters on the Grand Avenue overpass to provide more parking opportunities for shoppers. These parking spots were rarely used and when vehicles did park there the vehicles interrupted traffic flow, especially during rush hours. They were subsequently removed and the unsightly holes from the meters remained. Richie Polgar, a Maspeth resident who is always looking for opportunities to beautify and improve the quality of life for residents, reported the problem. Although it took quite a while, the agency addressed the problem in December. Thank you, Richie!
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Photo taken by Richie Polgar.
Flooding, Spoofing and Telemarketers
On Monday, January 28th, Comet President Roe Daraio and Comet’s Vice President Dick Gundlach, who covers the Winfield section of Woodside, met with our new Congresswoman Grace Meng at Maspeth Town Hall. We were pleased to get this opportunity to call her attention to probably the three biggest issues that affect us. The issues include flooding, caller ID spoofing and the dreaded telemarketers who constantly annoy us regardless of whether or not we are on the Do Not Call Registry.
Shown in the photo, from left to right: Congresswoman Grace Meng, Eileen Reilly, Executive Director of Maspeth Town Hall, Roe Daraio, COMET President and Dick Gundlach, COMET Vice President. Photo by Greg Lavine
We discussed the flooding issue in Woodside, Maspeth and Elmhurst. We stressed the fact that our sewers and catch basins are inadequate to collect the water during heavy rain and something must be done to mandate developers to upgrade them whenever a new project is initiated. Our sewers are old and cannot keep up with the development of homes leaving little open land and trees to absorb the water.
Caller ID Spoofing
Another of COMET’s concerns is identity theft. Thousands of people each day are victimized. Sometimes they become victims as a result of “caller ID spoofing”. We believe this practice should be outlawed and only used by law enforcement agencies. The following information will explain what spoofing is. Caller ID service is susceptible to fraud. Using a practice known as “caller ID spoofing,” callers can deliberately falsify the telephone number and/or name relayed as the Caller ID information to disguise the identity of the calling party. For example, identity thieves who want to collect sensitive information such as your bank account or other financial account numbers, your social security number, your date of birth or your mother’s maiden name, sometimes use caller ID spoofing to make it appear as though they are calling from your bank, credit card company, or even a government agency. The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, which was signed into law Dec. 22, 2010, prohibits callPg. 4 Spring 2013 COMET
er ID spoofing for the purposes of defrauding or otherwise causing harm. In June 2010, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules implementing the Truth in Caller ID Act. • Prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. • Subject violators to a penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of the rules. • Exempt authorized activities by law enforcement agencies and situations where courts have authorized caller ID manipulation to occur. • Don’t give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves are clever - they often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors, or government agencies to get people to reveal their account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords and other
Tips for Consumers FCC Rules
identifying information. • If you get an inquiry from a company or government agency seeking personal information, don’t provide it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or govern-
ment agency’s website to find out if the entity that supposedly called you actually needs the requested information from you. • Please let the FCC know about ID spoofers by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC or filing a complaint at www.fcc.gov/complaints.
There’s little we can say about telemarketers that you don’t already know. They call folks incessantly regardless of whether or not they’re on the Do Not Call Registry. You can hang up on them, ask them politely not to call again or you can scream at them. The calls keep coming and even though many of them are reported. We told Congresswoman Meng that government agencies need to hire more investigators to follow up on complaints and impose stricter penalties for those who do not honor the Do Not Call Registry.
Do you see commuter vans in the neighborhood? Do you wonder where they go? Are you curious as to whether or not they’re even allowed to operate in your community? These are good questions and the answers are not easy to find. Unlike the MTA’s website where you can easily access train and bus information, trying to navigate the Taxi & Limousines’ (NYC TLC) website to find out this information is a dauntless task. For those of us who are not internet wizards, the task is impossible. We believe any business that provides a transportation service that is licensed by the City should provide commuters with their schedule and communities that they service. The last we heard, commuter vans are licensed to operate in Elmhurst, south of Queens Boulevard, in a specific area. They are not allowed to operate on bus routes and have not been authorized to operate in Maspeth or the Woodside/Winfield area. They are not authorized to operate on the west side of Grand Avenue in Elmhurst. Well, guess what? They’re all over the place! We’ve been spotting them in Middle Village too. The photo was taken on 52nd Drive between 69th
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Place and 69th Street. The commuter van is not only in an unauthorized zone, but it’s stopped on the wrong side of the street. Where’s the enforcement you ask? Obviously there is little to none in spite of our numerous requests to NYC TLC for ongoing enforcement in our area. The commuter vans use this as a regular route. TLC Regulations do not allow these commuter vans to pick up on bus routes, which tend to be wider streets, even though it’s done all the time. Instead, they are told to make pickups on nonbus routes which are narrow residential streets. They block intersections, stop traffic and beep their horn until their passengers get on the van. Little enforcement is being done by NYC TLC in our communities. We’ve been seeing private vans, not licensed by the City, picking up passengers. One of our members saw a driver provide a passenger with a little folding stool
to sit on as he made an illegal pickup on Grand Avenue on the Maspeth/Elmhurst border. How dangerous is that? The City and State regulations pertaining to commuter vans clearly states there has to be a need for them. It is our opinion that we have ample transportation in our area. We have never been advised that a commuter van operation wants to operate in our community, nor has anyone reached out to us when their license comes up for renewal. It seems like the City has no problem enforcing regulations when it comes to the regular motorist. We get parking summonses, summonses the second we forget to renew our inspection and sometimes get a summons for blocking our own driveway. Commuter vans? If they get a summons it’s just the cost of doing business because the fines are not high enough to send a message. There is no justice!
Important Reminders Please keep your cell phones and other electronics out of sight when on the subway or walking around. These items make you a target for a robber. As you clean up the front of your home this spring, please make the small investment of purchasing large house numbers and putting them in a visible location where they can be seen from the street. If there is a medical, fire or police emergency, you will help the responders get there faster. If you look at the homes on your block, many don’t have addresses visible! We have had quite a few burglaries in our area. Most are being done during the day when folks are at work. If you are home during the day and see something suspicious, call 911. You won’t get into trouble if you’re wrong, but you might just save a neighbor from becoming a victim!
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The 104th, 108th and 110th Precincts discussed crime and quality of life issues at our February meeting. We presented plaques to DI Cody, former Commanding Officer at 104th Precinct and Captain Terence O’Toole, former Executive Officer at 108th Precinct, for their outstanding service. Shown from left to right: Our
new Commanding Officer, Captain Christopher Manson, 104th Precinct, who accepted the plaque for DI Cody who could not attend, Captain Terrance O’Toole is pictured with Comet President Roe Daraio and Vice President Dick Gundlach, Captain Ralph Forgione, 110th Precinct.
Upcoming Meetings and Events
Monday, April 1st, 7:00 pm
*Special Guest: Congresswoman Grace Meng There will be no meeting on Monday, May 6th. Meetings are held at the Bethzatha Church of God, 85-20 57th Avenue Parking available
Monday, May 13th, 7:00 pm
Celebrate Earth Day
Maspeth Federal Savings/Council Member Elizabeth Crowley/104th Precinct/COMET
Saturday, April 20th, 1:00 to 5:00 pm
Paper shredding truck – your opportunity to discard important paperwork safely Electronics truck – discard old computers, phones, anything electronic 104th Precinct will be VIN Etching vehicles. You can save money on your theft insurance and discourage thieves from stealing your car. Bicycles and phones, etc. will be registered.
Michael Fordunski, Roe Daraio, Dick Gundlach, Christina Wilkinson, Michael Harte and Maspeth Press
This newsletter is made possible by funding from Council Members Elizabeth Crowley, Karen Koslowitz and Jimmy Van Bramer through the Department of Youth and Community Development.
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P.O.Box 780151 Maspeth, NY 11378
PRSRT STD U.S.Postage Paid Flushing NY Permit #1264
We need your support to continue our efforts in the community.
Newsletter Spring 2013
Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together
Support your community! COMET Dues for 2013 $10.00 Checks or money orders please
To find out more about C.O.M.E.T. check out our website at www.cometcivic.com
NAME ADDRESS EMAIL (optional) Existing Member New Member Mail to: COMET P.O. Box 780151 Maspeth, NY 11378
Printed by www.MaspethPress.com
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