You are on page 1of 8

QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS, Inc.

Queens Civic Congress


P.O. Box 670706
Flushing, NY 11367
Ashook Ramsaran, Editor

APRIL 2016 VOLUME 19 ISSUE 3

QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS


Message from the President, Harbachan Singh

QEENS Civic Congress (QCC) is essentially an organization of civic and professional leaders
united borough wide with community based families to overcome a wide range of obstacles and
challenges that affect good neighborliness and neighborhoods as well as promote progressive
development which could make our community a wonderful place to live and work. Our members
work tirelessly with our elected officials at all levels to solve some of our toughest challenges and
issues to improve the quality of life of the people of Queens.

We have seen major changes proposed by the Mayors zoning for Affordability and MIH programs
which is being pushed for passage despite large scale objections. The transport system needs
expansion. Second Ave. subway is too little too late in the current scheme of the rapid
development led by IT. Subway lines and bus routes should be extended to spread out into
communities of significant concentration to avoid overcrowding the inner city. The introduction of
new buses only saw a drop in ridership especially in Manhattan. There is no direct public transport
train from JFK to Manhattan unlike the gateway cities around the fast progressive world. Homeless
shelters are grossly inadequate and unsafe and oftentimes abuse has been reported. Yet despite
such misgivings, it is comforting to note the vibrancy of New York City and its people which
continues to make it a most favored destination where tourists love to converge.

********
Biennial Civic Luncheon on April 17, 2016
Featured Speaker: Preet Bharara
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District
and QCC Honorees

Queens Civic Congress, Inc. and Queens Civic Congress Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation, were formed in 1997, representing
more than 100 civic and other community organizations throughout the Borough of Queens in New York City, and are committed to the
protection and advancement of the Quality of Life, to provide a forum for the civic associations and neighborhood organizations, to
develop and present common policies and positions, and to furnish effective leadership and advocacy for the advancement of the welfare
and interests of Queens' neighborhoods.
QUEENS CIVIC CONGRESS OFFICIALS
COMMITTEES & CHAIRS 2016
President Harbachan Singh
Executive Vice President Kevin Forrestal
Secretary Sey Schwartz
Treasurer Jim Trent
Aviation & Noise Richard Hellenbrecht & Warren Schreiber
Coops & Condos Robert Freidrich & Warren Schreiber
Education Kevin Forrestal (Acting)
Membership Committee Kevin Forrestal & Jim Trent
Audit Committee Tyler Cassell
Health & Human Services Kevin Forrestal
Legislation Sey Schwartz
Communications Ashook Ramsaran
Parks & Cultural Affairs Barbara Larkin & Kim Ohanian
Public Safety Kim Ohanian
Transportation Jim Trent
Hospitality Rene Hill
Planning, Land Use, Zoning Tyler Cassell
& Code Enforement Paul Graciano
Ad Hoc Committee:
Elaine Young, Linda Mitchell
Bob Freidrich, Henry Euler
Congress Platform John McCaffrey
Community Board Reform Richard Hellenbrecht
Ad Hoc Committee:
Kevin Forrestal, Warren Schreiber, Kim Ohanian
Other Ad Hoc Committes may be established as required.
Members are requested to volunteer their services to the respective chairs & committees.
QCCs appreciation for Elmhurst Uniteds generous contribution towards scholarship funding
for students to attend Queens Civic Congress Biennial Civic Luncheon on April 17, 2016.
QCCs appreciation to Phil Wong for his participation in QCC and focus on Homeless Shelters:

UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR


Queens Civic Congress Biennial Civic Luncheon scheduled for:
Date & Time: Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 1:00pm
Venue: Antuns, Queens Village
Ticket: $50 in advance; $55 at the door
RSVP: Jim Trent, Treasurer at jtrent8830@aol.com
Payment: Queens Civic Congress Foundation, 242-33 90 Ave, Bellerose, NY 11426
Queens Civic Congress Biennial Civic Luncheon April 17, 2016
(Sponsored by Queens Civic Congress Foundation)
Featured Speaker: Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District

Queens Civic Congress (QCC) is pleased to announce its Biennial Civic Luncheon to be held at
1:00pm on April 17, 2016 at Antuns in Queens Village. The event brings together over 200 civic
leaders representing all of Queens, as well as notable federal, state and city officials. There will be
special honors accorded to three Queens civic leaders for their oustanding community service.
Featured Speaker: Preet Bharara, prominent U.S. Attorney for the Southern District.
Preet Bharara
As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Bharara oversees the investigation and
litigation of all criminal and civil cases brought on behalf of the United
States in the Southern District of New York, which encompasses New
York, Bronx, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and
Sullivan counties. He supervises an office of more than 220 Assistant
U.S. Attorneys, who handle a high volume of cases that include
domestic and international terrorism, narcotics and arms trafficking,
white collar crime, public corruption, gang violence, organized crime,
and civil rights violations.

Queens Civic Congress (QCC) Honorees

James Gallagher, Jr Warren Schreiber Christina Wilkinson


President, Fresh Meadows . President, Bay Terrace President, Newtown
Homeowners Civic Assoc. Community Alliance Historical Society

Queens Civic Congress, Inc. and Queens Civic Congress Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation, were formed in 1997,
representing more than 100 civic and other community organizations throughout the Borough of Queens in New York City,
and are committed to the protection and advancement of the Quality of Life, to provide a forum for the civic associations
and neighborhood organizations, to develop and present common policies and positions, and to furnish effective leadership
and advocacy for the advancement of the welfare and interests of Queens' neighborhoods.

For more information, please contact: Kevin Forrestal at kjforrestal@gmail.com Cell: 1-718-374-1359
James Trent at jtrent8830@aol.com Cell: 1-917-623-0456
A Lowdown on the Citys Homeless Policy Phil Wong & John Shaffer
Being the city with the greatest wealth in America, homelessness is New York's shame. As
of March 15th, NYCs shelter system has 57,821 homeless individuals, with 13,127 being
single men or women, 22,875 being children living with 17,085 parents. As of this writing
each night we have 12,184 families living in shelters, most of them in single room hotels.
These figures do not include individuals who refused to go to shelters, those sleeping in
train/bus terminals, or others sleeping in public facilities.
Homelessness has never been an isolated problem; it is tightly coupled with crime, mental health, availability of
affordable housing, the state of our economy, and implementation of public policies. This article will summarize
how the city spends its homeless budget and will recommend changes to better spend taxpayers dollars.
We are at the 3rd year of the Mayors term and the homeless population remained at the same levels as the day he
was sworn in. The Dept. of Homeless Services (DHS) had a 2015 budget of $954 million, of which $354 million
spent on adult shelters, and a whopping $566 million spent on family shelter administration. This is a total of $919
million (96.3%) spent paying the shelter landlords and operators1. Meanwhile, only $32.7 million (3.4%) was spent
on homeless prevention. Unfortunately, after the resignations of Deputy Mayor Paoli and Commissioner Gilbert
Taylor, the newly created 2016 Steven Banks budget is $1.07 billion with similar percentages allocated to the
landlords and operators. Looking at it at another level, DHS is paying an average of $105.00 per night per hotel
room for a family of 4, thats a total of $1.2 million per year for one single family. With this money one could buy
a 3-family house in many parts of Queens and they are all equipped with kitchens and homework desks for kids.
This budget shows the Mayor's policy is to warehouse the homeless and does little on prevention or population
reduction. In many events the Mayor and his staff openly blamed the homeless problem on the previous
administration, but the Mayor was Councilman from 2002 to 2009 and Public Advocate from 2010 to 2013, so its
important to point out that he was part of the problem.
The majority of shelters have residents with mental health issues, substance abuse, and domestic violence issues.
There are only 465 homeless shelter officers keeping the citys 674 shelters safe. This mismatched ratio tells us
that it is impossible for Peace Officers to cover all sites simultaneously and the best they can do is have to spot
check from shelter to shelter. These officers are ill-trained, ill-equipped, and not to disparage their courage, can
barely defend themselves against former convicts who are many of the residents. Worse, they can't make arrests.
The 2016 shows no hiring of new guards, and this poses a threat to the safety of residents living in and employees
working in shelters. The Mayors order of NYPD training with these officers do no solve the manpower problem1.
More residents would have to get stabbed, killed, or raped until we see any budget changes.
On another issue, homeless residents need help in social services. DHS cannot just give them a room and expect
them to leave the system on their own. Each family or individual need mental health counseling, substance
counseling, job referrals, and housing referrals. Staff has to be stationed on-site and provide these vital services.
Unfortunately we see no budget items paying for these social services. It's fair to say that the residents get
forgotten once they enter through those shelter doors and they either have to sink or swim.
There are immediate solutions to the homeless housing problem. Last month, Comptroller Stringer released an
audit showing that there are over 1,131 vacant lots owned by the City that could have been used to build affordable
housing. After 2 full years as Mayor there is little progress in developing these vacant properties. On a further note,
any Google search on city seized properties would yield hundreds of results, many from abandoned developments
which the city could easily finish the job, yielding thousands of units in affordable housing. Finally, in a NYCHA
audit done by Comptroller Stringer, over 2,300 empty NYCHA apartments are idle and awaiting renovations. The
Mayor's current focus is less interested in immediate housing relief solutions.
In summary, the current homeless population and budget figures show that the Mayors homeless policy is
inadequate and money is being thrown at the wrong places. More budget on homeless prevention and social
services would reduce the homeless population considerably. More security in shelters is vital to prevent
unauthorized visits and/or violent incidents, creating a safer place for residents and the staff. Finally, making peace
with Governor Cuomo also helps as the Mayor cannot solve the homeless problem by himself.
Footnotes listed elsewhere
Phil Wong is a Member of Elmhurst United and Juniper Park Civic Association.
John Shaffer is a Member of Elmhurst United
Advocating Legislation to Avoid Small Busineeses Affected by High Rent Increases
Queens Civic Congress (QCC) joined with several business and community organizations to support legislation to
assist small businesses in Queens and to draw public attention to their plight when rents are increased to exorbitant
and unbearable levels. A well attended Press Conference was held on March 24, 2016 in Flushing with emphasis
on: Queens Community and Business groups call upon Lawmakers to Achieve a real Solution to Save Queens
Small Businesses Soon debate will begin in the City Council to create legislation to stop the closing of long
established small businesses caused solely by sky high rent increases being demanded in todays market. Decades
of vigorous real estate investment in commercial property combined with spirited bidding between big banks and
franchises for prime locations on busy shopping strips has produced a volatile rental marketplace for our small
business owners. Adding pressure to this unpredictable marketplace has been the displaced businesses relocating
in Queens, landlords leaving storefronts empty, sometimes for years, thus manipulating the market to gain the
highest rent possible, and the usual speculators and profiteers who view a breakdown in the marketplace as an
opportunity to gain windfall profits.
Unlike residential tenants, in NYC commercial tenants have no rights when their leases expire. Therefore, the
outcome of an unstable and unpredictable commercial lease renewal process for all businesses has resulted in most
business owners unable to negotiate reasonable lease terms which would allow a reasonable profit. In a growing
number of our citys neighborhoods, including in Queens, long established businesses have been forced to close,
employees jobs lost, increased higher prices, lower wages, loss of valued services to customers, stoppage of
businesses growth resulting in restricted job creation and a dramatic change in the integrity and character of the
community. Many small business advocates believe left unchecked, the sky high rents and the one sided unfair
lease renewal process will slowly destroy our small businesses and once gone, will lead to a major recession.
The overwhelming consensus is: Our Queens businesses, being the largest employer of Queens residents, the
foundation of our local economy, and the primary stabilizing force of every neighborhood in Queens, must be
preserved and protected from unfair, manipulated or failed market forces. Therefore, we call upon all Queens
lawmakers to make a priority to find a real solution quickly, one which will level the playing field for our
businesses when their leases expire, and one which will allow them to again bargain in good faith to negotiate fair
lease terms and make a reasonable profit for their hard work and investment.
The small business advocates claim the real estate lobby has used its influence to not only bottle up the Small
Business Jobs Survival Act in committee but to have council members introduce legislation that would do nothing
to save small businesses and keep the status quo. We believe strongly our Queens lawmakers share our
appreciation and respect for our hard working small business owners and dont want a single one to suffer or be
treated unfairly from these sky high rents and unfair lease terms being demanded. We hope they will make a
priority of seeking only a real solution which restore stability and integrity for our entire business community and
protect our job creators. But also, will pass legislation which would prevent any long established successful
business, willing and able to pay a reasonable rent from being forced to close
Currently there are four proposals being considered by the City Council as potential solutions to stop the closings
of businesses due to exorbitant rent increases. Said Richard Hellenbrecht (QCC Vice President): There are four
different Council proposals are intended to curb this abuse and to give small business tenants some rights, which
are sadly missing at present. One of these intros stands out to QCC and we have adopted it, but we urge the City
Council to seriously and expeditiously review all the bills and pass one for the good of the City

Co-Sponsors and supporters include: MinKwon Cetner for


Community Action; Queens Civic Congress; Jetro; The Korean
Times; NY Womens Chamber of Commerce; Korean
American Small Business Service Center of NY,
Neighborhoods United; Small Business Congress;
SunnysideArtists.org; Artist Studio Affordability Project; El
Taller Latino; Americano-Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce;
Queens County Progressive Democratic Club; TenantNet.
Photo above l-r Richard Hellenbrecht Vice President, Queens Civic Congress; Grace Shim, Esq - Executive Director of MinKwon
Center for Community Action; Sung Soo Kim - Founded Korean American Small Business Service Center; Steven Barrison, Esq. -
Executive Vice President & Spokesperson for Small Business Congress NYC; Steven Null - Founder Coalition for Fair Business Rents
NEW YORK AVIATION ROUNDTABLE NYCAR UPDATE Rich Hellenbrecht
NYCAR was formed in April 2015 modeled after dozens of roundtables at major airports around the country.
NYCAR focuses on noise and environmental issues related to operations at Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia
Airport affecting Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Nassau. An interim Roundtable Coordinating Committee
was elected at the April meeting, which included QCCs Warren Schreiber as Co-Vice Chair and Rich
Hellenbrecht as Secretary. In addition, QCC Secretary Sey Schwartz is a member of the Roundtable
representing Community Board 8.

The Coordinating Committee has met through the spring and summer to draft by-laws, which were introduced at
a meeting on September 29. Following the intense discussion and mark-up session with approximately 60
representatives, the Coordinating Committee sent a second draft to the group for review prior to a meeting on
November 17. We hope to adopt the bylaws then and start election of officers.

While there are many roundtables throughout the country, none cover two major airports within one county.
Generally the bylaws will establish a Roundtable consisting of two Airport Committees, one for each of our
airports. Each committee will elect its officers and the Roundtable will be administered by the two sets of
officers as the Roundtable Coordinating Committee. The Airport Committees will be deeply involved with the
Port Authority, the airlines and others in planning operations and projects to avoid or reduce any negative
impacts on communities in the four county area.

SEN. AVELLA REQUESTS SUPPORT OF LEGISLATIVE AGENDA Rich Hellenbrecht


State Senator Tony Avella attended QCCs regular meeting on October 20 at the Union Plaza Nursing Home.
The senator, a former QCC vice president, distributed copies of a letter to the community itemizing sixty
different bills on such topics as state legislature term limits, ethics and FOIL reforms, DOB and BSA reforms.
Other bills include such items as controls on cellular antennas, illegal conversions laws, truck route violations,
precinct subdivisions in 105th and 109th, street tree inspections, and limiting property tax increases when
assessment decreases. These are just a few examples, but many of these bills could positively affect the quality
of life in our community.

Senator Avella is looking for the help of Queens civics in identifying one or many of his proposed bills and
writing letters of support he can forward to Assembly members to encourage introduction in that body. We
encourage our members to contact Senator Avellas office, get a review copy and write a letter or two before the
2016 legislative session. Call 1-718-357-3094.

********
IN MEMORIAM RECENT CIVIC LEADERS HAVE PASSED

It is with much sadness that QCC announces the November passing of Eugenia (Genie) Rudman, a
Queens Civic leader and friend who was a member of QCCs Planning, Land Use, Zoning & Code
Enforcement Ad Hoc Committee. Ms. Rudman was the president of the Hollis Park Gardens Civic
Association for many years, and was very active in the major Jamaica rezoning study a few years ago
and worked hard on protective zoning for the Hollis Park Gardens area.

In September we were saddened to learn of the passing of North Bellerose Civic Association president
Bruno DeFranceschi. Bruno, a member Community Board 13Q and QCC, was very active in leading
his civic as well as working with local eastern Queens civics and is deeply missed by all his friends.

********
QCC Annual Legislative Reception - December 6, 2015
.

Queens Civic Congress


P.O. Box 670706
Flushing, NY 11367

Dated Material
First Class Mail

Queens Civic Congress Membership 2016


Addisleigh Park Civic Organization Flushing on the Hill Taxpayers Assn. Mitchell Linden Civic Assoc.
Arverne Civic Association Forest Hills Crescents Assoc. Neponsit Property Owners' Association, Inc.
Auburndale Improvement Association, Inc. Forest Hills - Van Court Assoc. Newtown Civic Assoc.
Bayside Clear Spring Council Fresh Meadows Homeowners Assoc. Newtown Historical Society
Bayside Hills Civic Assoc. Friends of Fort Totten Parks North Bellerose Civic Assoc.
Bayside Historical Society Georgetown Mews North East Flushing Civic Association
Bayswater Civic Association Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc. North Flushing Civic Association
Bay Terrace Community Alliance, Inc. Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Assn., Inc. North Hills Estates Civic Assoc.
Bay Terrace Cooperative Section #1 Harding Heights Civic Assoc. Northwest Bayside Civic Assn.
Bell Park Manor Terrace Harrison, Julia OaklandGardens/Terrace Community Council
/aka United Veterans Mutual Housing Co., Inc. Hillcrest Estates Civic Association Off Broadway Homeowners Association
Belle Harbor Property Owners Assn. Hilltop Village Co-Op #4 Our Neighborhood Improvement Assn.
Bellerose Commonwealth Civic Assoc. Hollis 11423 Block Association Parkway Village Historical Society
Bellerose-Hillside Civic Assoc. Hollis Hills Civic Assn. Queens Colony Civic Assoc.
Bowne Park Civic Assoc. Holliswood Civic Assn. Queens Community Civic Corporation
Briarwood Community Assoc. Hollis Park Gardens Civic Assoc. Queens Preservation Council
Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Holly Civic Assoc. Queens Village Civic Assoc.
Cambria Heights Civic Association Hyde Park Owners Corp. Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Assoc.
Central Queens Historical Association Jackson Heights Beautification Group Ramblersville-Hawtree Civic Assoc.
Clearview Gardens Jamaica Estates Assoc. Richmond Hill Historical Society
C.O.M.E.T. Jamaica Hill Community Assoc. Ridgewood Property Owners
(Communities of Maspeth-Elmhurst Together) Juniper Park Civic Assoc. Rocky Hill Civic Assoc.
Creedmoor Civic Assoc. Kew Gardens Civic Association Rosedale Civic Assoc.
Deerfield Area Civic Association Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Civic Royal Ranch Civic Assn, Inc.
Doug-Bay Manor Civic Assoc. Association St. Albans Civic Improvement Association
Douglas Manor Association Kew Gardens Improvement Association South Ozone Park Civic Association West
Douglaston Civic Assoc. Kissena Park Civic Association Utopia Estates, Civic Association of
Dutch Kills Civic Assn. Of Long Island City Little Neck Bay Civic Association Waldheim Neighborhood Assoc.
East Elmhurst/Corona Civic Association Little Neck Pines Wayanda Civic Association
Elmurst United Lost Community Civic Assoc. West Cunningham Park Civic Assoc.
Federated Block Associations of Laurelton Malba Westmoreland Assoc.
Federation of Civic Assns. of Southeast Queens, Meadowlark Gardens Owners, Inc. Woodside Community Council
Flushing Heights Civic Assoc. Middle Village Property Owners

Mail your membership info & dues to:


Annual Membership - Dues $35
Queens Civic Congress
As the city and state cut back on services in your neighborhood and raise Attn: Jim Trent, Treasurer
taxes and fees, your civic organizations need QCC more than ever to speak 242-33 90 Avenue,
out for Queens fair share of public services and to keep a lid on taxes. Bellerose, NY 11426