Ardila prepares to serve AD37: ‘I want to give everything I have’

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

AD-37-elect, Juan Ardila.

As residents of Assembly District 37 say “goodbye” to longtime Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, they’ll say “hello” to a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomer, Juan Ardila.

The Maspeth native recently celebrated his 29th birthday after being elected to serve the neighborhoods of Hunters Point, Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth and Ridgewood.

He was victorious against fellow community advocates Brent O’Leary, Johanna Carmona and Jim Magee in the primary, garnering over 43 percent of the vote.

He ran unopposed in the general election, easily securing the win.

As Ardila and other Assemblymember-elects prepare to take office on Jan. 1, they attended an Assembly orientation up in Albany – making Ardila’s first-ever visit there one to remember.

“I loved everything about it. The vibe and the energy in the room felt like going back to college or high school, seeing old classmates after a while,” he explained. “Even though it was my first time up there, I never felt out of place by folks, and everybody was very engaging.”

Alex Bores, Assemblymember-elect for D73; Grace Lee, Assemblymember-elect for D65; Juan Ardila, Assemblymember-elect for D37; Tony Simone, Assemblymember-elect for D75 at the New York State Capitol during orientation.

Ardila said that given the fact he’s so new to state politics, he came into orientation with no expectations or assumptions, and wanted to arrive with an open mind.

However, he feels pleasantly surprised by how friendly his colleagues-to-be are, and all the positive energy that circulated throughout the room.

Ardila said he found it interesting to listen to his future colleagues, taking note of the differences in needs for various districts across the state.

“The composition of my district compared to the composition of a member in New Rochelle or Buffalo, is very different. But it’s exciting to see so many Democrats come together,” he said.

Ardila has not yet received his assignments, but said that if he could choose a committee to serve on, it would be one of the issues he campaigned on – most notably, housing.

He said that he was told to write 10 choices as to which committees he would like to serve on, and that he would also happily serve on committees related to climate, health care, education or labor.

Ardila said he already feels confident and comfortable to serve the people of his district, as the Assembly has strived to ensure that each member has the tools they need to do so.

One of the first tasks he completed to be accessible to constituents right off the bat was moving into an office located centrally in the district.

During the first week of January, Ardila will move into his district office situated on Skillman Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets in Sunnyside – just steps away from the 7 train.

In addition to being active and accessible for constituents, he’s also prepared to work with colleagues on all sides of the political spectrum in Albany.

Since his sit-down interview with the Queens Ledger in the spring, his top priority issues in the district have remained, namely, climate, housing, health care, immigration rights and public safety.

Ardila is supportive of universal healthcare and the New York Health Act, as well as the Green New Deal and shutting down peaker plants – which are highly polluting power plants that pose significant health threats to locals.

He’s also a proponent for legalizing accessory dwelling units, or independent residential units located on the same lot as a stand-alone home, and passing the Good Cause Eviction bill, which expands protections for tenants.

In regard to the overlap between climate and transportation, Ardila feels the Citi Bike expansion slated for Ridgewood and Maspeth will help alleviate many burdens for residents.

“[Citi Bike] is environmentally responsive, but it also addresses the transportation crisis in central Queens,” he said. “They’re transit deserts, and right now, we’re in that kind of phase where we’re trying to get Citi Bike to come to Maspeth and Ridgewood just to provide more interconnectivity.”

Ardila recently penned an op-ed titled, “Double Down MTA, Queens Needs More Trains,” calling on the completion and implementation of the QNS line – which would reactivate and repurpose freight rail along the Lower Montauk Branch running through central Queens, and connect Long Island City to nearby neighborhoods like Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village — all the way to Jamaica.

Back in June, Ardila admitted he’s “a little bit on the radical side” in terms of tenant rights, and plans to stay true to that through the legislation he’ll propose.

The first piece of legislation he plans to introduce has to do with the issue of housing, and would place a limitation on initial regulator rent not to exceed the average rent for a comparable rent-regulated housing accommodation.

“It’s essentially just trying to make sure that we’re able to keep affordability for as long as possible and as sustainably as possible. It’s a question of whether or not this gets to the floor, but I’ll be pushing for it,” he said.

He also supports Make the Road New York’s endeavor to try and get a state funded public assistance program that can be distributed to undocumented New Yorkers.

Rather than being nervous about taking on this new role, Ardila feels it behooves him to take things for what they are and be open to mistakes.

“It’s one of those things where it’s a learning curve for all of us. It’s a new team, it’s going to be a young team, a very engaged, passionate, high-energy, hands-on and present team,” he said. “So I want to make sure that we are delivering. I’m super grateful for people showing their support and voting, but I also want to take it very seriously and return that to the best of my ability and give everything I have.”

JPCA updates Citi Bike counterproposal

Group will negotiate with DOT before finalized plan

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Following a pause for additional community feedback on the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Citi Bike expansion plan for District 5, Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) has released an updated counterproposal.

Back in April, JPCA released their initial counterproposal in response to the DOT’s original draft plan – which sought to add 52 Citi Bike stations to Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale. Thirty-four stations were planned to go in roadbeds and 18 stations were planned to go on sidewalks.

The original proposal for the Citi Bike expansion in District 5, circulated by the DOT.

JPCA’s original proposal called for 45 total stations – all on sidewalks in the interest of preserving parking spaces for locals.

Christina Wilkinson, a member of JPCA who prepared the counterproposal, said that despite submitting the original document to the DOT in April, they did not hear back until June, and all but seven new suggestions for the 34 stations allotted for the roadbeds were rejected.

“The reasons they gave didn’t really make any sense. It was this language that maybe they would understand, but nobody outside of the DOT would,” Wilkinson said.

She along with Councilman Robert Holden also felt a great sense of disappointment when the DOT neglected to present their plan to the full Community Board and obtain feedback from local businesses.

Additionally, at Community Board 5’s monthly meeting on Dec. 14, the board voted overwhelmingly in favor of submitting a letter to the DOT requesting that they be able to play an “active role” in the implementation of the program and the placement of these stations.

After some negotiation with the DOT, JPCA’s updated counterproposal calls for 53 stations in total, with 20 in roadbeds and 33 on sidewalks or in no parking areas.

The group argues that the neighborhoods of District 5 are low-rise communities where the majority of residents already own bikes and can adequately store them, resulting in a “reduced demand.”

They also brought up that because this area is a “transit desert,” many residents own cars and thus, need the street parking.

In addition, they argue that roadbed docks “prevent adequate street cleaning,” and that only able-bodied people can enjoy the bikes.

Ridgewood Gardens Associates, Inc., a residential cooperative corporation located at 5224 65th Place in Maspeth, expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposed placement of the Citi Bike stations near their property in a letter to Holden.

“These locations make no sense for several reasons…A large part of our resident population is elderly and they along with other residents struggle to find parking,” George Mandato, board president of Ridgewood Associates, Inc., wrote in the letter. “The inability to find parking is a serious problem for them and the loss of many parking spaces will clearly prejudice the health and safety of these disabled individuals.”

Wilkinson feels that CB5 had the right idea by voting to send that letter requesting more input, and that many people most likely are not even aware of the stations that are coming.

“The more input, the better,” she said. “We didn’t know about this co-op having an objection until [Dec. 16], so I guess most people in the area don’t know that this is coming. And when they find out, they freak out.”

The installation of the stations will be delayed until at least January, but it’s not certain as to when residents will begin seeing more Citi Bikes.

Elmhurst father indicted in death of 3-year-old son

Allegedly killed his son at Pan American Hotel

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

The Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst. Photo: Google Maps.

An Elmhurst man has been indicted for murder, endangering the welfare of a child and other crimes in connection with the death of his three-year-old son, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

He has also been charged with physical abuse to a second child in an Elmhurst shelter last month.

Shaquan Butler, 26, is from Elmhurst.

According to the charges, Butler was in his apartment at the Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst  at approximately 7:40 p.m. on Nov. 13 when he struck his three-year-old son numerous times.

The son suffered lacerations to his liver and internal bleeding.

According to the charges, the child’s mother and his two younger siblings were in the apartment at the time of the alleged assault.

Responding to a 911 call, the New York Fire Department found the victim unconscious on the floor with visible bruises to the head, body and extremities.

The child was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, and the medical examiner determined that the child died from blunt force trauma to the torso.

A medical examination of a second child, age 2, revealed physical injuries consistent with child abuse.

Butler was arraigned Dec. 20 on a eleven-count indictment, charging him with murder in the second degree, two counts of manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree, assault in the second degree and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Butler has been ordered to return to court on Jan. 31. He faces up to 40 years to life in prison if convicted.

“As alleged, this parent failed his primary duty as a protector, killing one of his own children by callous force and allegedly injured another,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in a statement. “We will not forget this child. The defendant will be held fully accountable for his actions.”

‘Chanukah on The Park’ draws record crowd

Lighting the way with a vibrant Forest Hills tradition

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Rabbi Mendy & the FDNY kindles the Chanukah lights, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

“Chanukah on The Park” and its symbolic 18-foot menorah continues to beam brighter each year.

Situated in front of Yellowstone Municipal Park, a ceremony filled with diverse activities continues to grow – both logistically and in spirit.

This Forest Hills tradition originated in 2015 and was founded by Rabbi Mendy Hecht and Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht of Chabad of Forest Hills North, which also serves the greater community.

On the first of eight nights of Chanukah on Dec. 18, from 4:15 to 6:30 p.m., over 500 guests were ready to embrace the miracles of Chanukah.

Additionally, residents of Yellowstone Boulevard apartment buildings took advantage of an aerial view from their windows.

“What a beautiful sight,” Hecht said. “Being that we had a longer event this year with more entertainment, we had crowds of people at all times.”

Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht & Rabbi Mendy Hecht in front of the symbolic 18 ft menorah, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

Each night thereafter, a Chanukah menorah lighting was held on a smaller scale.

This past September marked another miracle; the 10-year anniversary of Chabad of Forest Hills North.

Chanukah descends from the Hebrew term, “chinuch,” meaning inauguration and education.

The “Festival of Lights” rejoices in the miracle of how a tiny cruse of oil, fit for a single-day supply, conveyed luster for eight days.

In addition, it recalls the Jewish victory over a tyrant king and the temple’s rededication in Jerusalem.

It is a tradition to eat fried latkes (potato pancakes), which symbolizes the miracle of the oil.

The ambiance felt traditional yet innovative. The diverse lineup of the eighth annual Chanukah festival featured many highlights, such as the FDNY Ladder 138 Menorah Lighting and Chanukah Gelt (chocolate coin) drop from a cherry picker that is over 30 feet in height, which is a Chabad of Forest Hills North novelty.

The menorah was kindled with a torch, beginning with the “Shamash,” the central candle used to light the other candles. Lighting one candle is symbolic of unity.

Chabad boys dressed up as dreidel mascots, clowns and Maccabees, choreographed their way through the multi-generational crowd.

Festive mascots, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

Hecht delivered a bold speech from his heart. “The light of the menorah is not just for us or our families, but for the people around us like the windows of the Holy Temple going outwards to bring light outwards.”

He referenced and adapted a notable quote from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address by saying, “Do not say what can my country do for me, but say what can I do for my country. Spread the light to others.”

A production featured traditional and original Chanukah tunes and Israeli songs, and the ambiance was heightened with a newly created stage.

Performers included keyboardist and singer, Michel Krohn, and Israeli singer, Itzik Weingarten, a surprise guest.

Musician Michel Krohn, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography.

Surprise Israeli singer Itzik Weingarten, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography.

Memorable Chanukah tunes include “Al Hanisim,” “Candlelight,” “Light Up The Nights,” “Ma’oz Tzur” and “I Have A Little Dreidel.”

The CKids of The Arts performance, consisting of Chabad of Forest Hills North’s very own Hebrew School children, made a debut. Their show-stopper was “I’ll be a neis. I will be a bright light. I will be a miracle of light.”

The Illusionist and Duo Fire Show was also an eye-opener, marked with oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Guests reminisced about earlier successful lineups, which featured DJs, a ventriloquist puppet show and a magic show. Among last year’s highlights was a BMX bike show that spanned the block.

Reflecting upon the festival’s success, Hecht said, “We had the honor to have Borough President Donovan Richards. His strong support for the Jewish community and for Israel and Jewish values was delivered. He said he doesn’t speak words, but takes action, and he will continue to fight against anti-Semitism. This was heard loud and clear, echoing from the podium. Other elected officials also expressed their support for the Jewish community.”

There is a significant message of Chanukah that everyone should understand and be compassionate about, regardless of their religion and culture. Hecht explained, “Spread goodness and kindness. Spread light. A little bit of light pushes away darkness. We all need this lesson and we all need a bit of light in this dark world, regardless of our religion.”

Chanukah serves as a model for all inaugurations, including education, which is the most significant.

“The Lubavitcher Rebbe often stressed the unique connection between Chanukah and education. It is a special time that inspires children to connect to their heritage, as can be seen by many customs, including the giving of Chanukah gelt,” he continued. Chanukah is also a time of continued spiritual growth.

Another miracle is how rabbis and rebbetzins, local residents, guest speakers, the FDNY, 112th Precinct and musicians among other creative personalities come together in the name of unity to spread much light.

112th Precinct with Law Enforcement Explorers, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

Each year, the event is noted in detail, so the following year can be grander and more accurate. Much transpires behind the scenes to ensure the festival’s success, as explained by Hecht, who says it is not a “1-2-3 job.”

“We can surely say that after eight years, next year’s will be even better than before. Every detail is looked over and there is much work for several weeks dedicated to it,” he said.

“Even an order of over 600 donuts is not an easy undertaking. Then picture the entertainment crew details and setup, the schedule and ensuring the NYPD are briefed properly for the event to run smoothly. The FDNY also has their time slot. Just the 18-foot menorah is a job within itself, and then it truly looks beautiful ‘on the park.’”

Rabbi Mendy & Rebbetzin Chaya with FDNY, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

The traditions of Chanukah in the Holy Land vary from some of those observed in America.

Hecht said, “In Israel, menorahs are displayed in glass boxes and sit outside homes unlike how in America, where you will mostly find them in windows or inside homes. It’s a truly beautiful sight to see in Jerusalem. The jelly donuts are served hot, unlike here how they are served cold.”

He also pointed out how the dreidel in Israel features the Hebrew alphabet Nun (none), Gimmel (all), Hei (half) and Pay instead of Shin (some).

“Since the Pay is the first letter representing the word Poh which means ‘here,’ it means that a great miracle happened here in Jerusalem,” he continued.

As a religious leader, it is even a continuous learning process for Hecht, for events including Chanukah on the Park.

“I have learned that it is never enough, and I have more light and more Jewish fun to bring to the masses. The community is thirsty and I have a responsibility,” he said.

He thanks G-d for the miraculous achievement of eight years of Chanukah on the Park.

“Everyone is looking forward to this annual event, so we said on such a milestone, we must boost it up,” he said.

This is also a time of additional divinity, as in eight lights on the menorah pertaining to the “Hakhel Gathering.” “In the Holy Temple, all Jews would gather in the eighth year to hear the Torah read by the king, and to learn to fear G-d and keep his laws. The Rebbe OBM asked that we actualize it just like our ancestors have in the corresponding year, and create big gatherings.”

The festival is another achievement that signifies how Chabad of Forest Hills North is a beacon of light in the community, continuing to spread the message behind the Chanukah light year-round.

“We are here for the community in goodness and during the unfortunate times, but we hope we can be there for only good times,” Hecht said. “We will be a support in so many ways, whether spiritually or by physically showing up with a care package in a rehabilitation center, or to do a simple mitzvah (good deed) in other ways.”

Recycle your Christmas trees at Mulchfest

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

Trees recycled at Hunters Point Park. Photo: NYC Parks / Daniel Avila

For those who do not know what to do with their Christmas Tree after the holiday season, the New York City Parks’ Department, in partnership with DSNY, may have a solution: Mulchfest.

The Mulchfest tree chipping celebration is an annual event held by the NYC Parks’ Department to allow New Yorkers the opportunity to have their tree turned into mulch.

At the drop-off only locations, people simply leave their trees at the park.

During the final weekend of the event, “Chipping Weekend,” New Yorkers can actively mulch their holiday trees at the chipping locations.

Residents will bring their trees to a chipping site, watch their tree get “recycled” and bring a bag of mulch home with them.

Drop-offs have begun at 73 parks citywide as of Dec. 26, and will continue through Jan. 8.

However, only 34 are chipping sites. The following are nearby Mulchfest locations:

– Juniper Valley Park (chipping)

– Forest Park (chipping)

– Cunningham Park (chipping)

– Queens County Farm Museum (drop-off only)

– Roy Wilkins Park (drop-off only)

For a full list of Mulchfest locations, visit

Weather permitting, DSNY will collect and compost trees left at curbs from Jan. 6 through Jan. 14.

The mulch gained from Mulchfest — which has been held for over 20 years — will be used to nourish city trees and plants throughout the city.

Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (12/29)

CTE Shop Class: Now It’s High-Tech

Who makes the holidays happy?

By Mike Porcelli

Workers put up the first Rockefeller Christmas Tree in 1931. (Photo courtesy of Tishman Speyer)

As we celebrate our many year-end holiday traditions and enter a new year and a new chapter in our lives – let’s teach our children, and many adults, about the many skilled workers who make the holiday season possible.

“Tis the season to be jolly” …we greet each other with, “Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays.” But do we ever consider what it takes to make the holidays happy? Most people don’t think about all the things we take for granted, and the skilled trade workers who help us enjoy the holidays.

For example, the symbol of the season in this city – the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It is a brilliantly decorated emblem of the spirit of the holidays.

This tradition, originated by the construction workers who built Rockefeller Center during the Great Depression, continues to attract millions of admirers each year. How many skilled workers did it take to build Rockefeller Center, and how many more are needed to recreate this iconic attraction every Christmas? Starting with the farmers who grow the tree, to the many workers who cut it down, load it onto an oversize trailer, transport it over highways others build, and use huge cranes to lift it onto a stand built by others…not to mention those who use more cranes to install millions of lights and decorations that make it the national representation of the season. Don’t forget the electrical workers who power those lights, and countless other skilled tradesmen.

In addition to the millions of visitors admiring “The Tree” each year, millions more use every means of conveyance to travel home for the holidays. How happy would this season be without the cars, trains, and planes that transport us to holiday family dinners? Without the people who build those vehicles and keep them running, many of us would have a very lonely holiday.

As children, we believe the toys delivered by Santa come from the North Pole. As we grow older, we learn how goods and services are really produced. But for decades, many schools have misled students with another fiction – that the skilled trades are not valuable careers, and they must be college educated to become successful.

Unlike the myth of the North Pole – this one is harmful…depriving many students of rewarding careers.

Children know that without the skilled elves who build the toys and load them onto Santa’s sleigh, there would be nothing under their trees. In the real world, it’s time for schools everywhere to begin promoting the value of trade education and celebrating the work of the millions of skilled CTE graduates – by producing more of them. Schools MUST provide more CTE training, before those who make our holidays happy are gone.

Use this holiday season to teach young children the importance of Santa’s skilled worker elves and teach adults the value of all real-world skilled trade workers. Our New Year’s resolution should be: Create more CTE programs for all students who can benefit from them.

Enjoy the happy holidays provided by our skilled trade workers. We need: many, many more – and then some!

Teach them – now and in the future…and tools make great gifts for many of us!

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. 

Op-Ed: Double down MTA, Queens needs more trains

By Juan Ardila, Assembly District 37 Elect

QNS rendering via Friends of the QNS.

Give credit where credit is due with the Interborough Express proposed by Gov. Hochul: For a governor to finally take notice of an underused freight-rail line running from Brooklyn into Queens, and pushing to convert that line to passenger rail, is an idea whose time has finally come.

The IBX, as proposed, would run 14 miles through these two boroughs without going through Manhattan. The governor and the MTA, in other words, are taking a real interest in helping all New Yorkers with their daily commute, and not just those traveling to Manhattan.

Moving away from Manhattan-centered planning is what Queens and the outer boroughs have long deserved, and addressing the mass transit needs of some of our long-marooned communities simply makes sense.

Converting this long right-of-way from freight to commuter rail, as opposed to asking the MTA to build out entirely new and expensive infrastructure, is cost-effective.

It also makes environmental sense as it helps to alleviate our city’s dependence on automobiles, which currently crowd our streets and highways.

Lastly, it makes economic sense, because the city benefits when more people have better mass-transit access to jobs, schools and other essential places like daycares and hospitals.

But I implore the governor and the MTA: Don’t stop there. Keep going and double down by revisiting the QNS plan, a recently studied proposal to reactivate and repurpose freight rail along the Lower Montauk Branch which runs through central Queens and can connect Long Island City to nearby neighborhoods like Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village — all the way to Jamaica.

The governor can help us make Queens, the MTA’s most underserved borough after Staten Island, the sort of inter-connected, environmentally friendly, economic powerhouse it was meant to be.

The IBX and the QNS lines are also remarkably similar. Both are publicly owned right-of-ways that have been used sparingly for years by freight-rail companies.

Both can be converted comparatively cheaply, by infrastructure-expense standards, to include passenger service, sharing the same space with freight.

Passenger service can run during the day and freight can run in the off-hours. The QNS would be 90 percent less expensive to build out per mile than the Second Ave. subway plan by comparison.

Moreover, both the IBX plan and the QNS both call for a planned stop at Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village, which could turn this growing neighborhood into a mass transportation hub.

If both lines are built, a 14-mile line would have 23 miles of new interconnectivity. This would be groundbreaking for those who live along these lines.

Right now, many of the areas where the unused QNS line lies are commonly referred to as transit deserts. What’s it like to live in a transit desert? I happen to know because I live in Maspeth. I can walk faster than most of the local buses through my neighborhood. People around here own cars out of necessity, not as a luxury. That’s not how New Yorkers should live.

This is no charity request either. Queens’ population has been exploding in recent decades.

Long Island City is one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in all of America, period, while neighborhoods like Ridgewood and Jamaica are only getting more populated.

Neighborhoods along the QNS line are home to thousands of workers from all trades who are looking for better ways to get around. Approximately 95,000 existing jobs and three of NYC’s most important industrial business zones lie within a half-mile of the QNS line, so if both the IBX and the QNS are built, those workers will have a real chance of finding better jobs across the entire region with greater access to mass transportation.

What’s more, the nonprofit advocacy group Friends of the QNS, which has been promoting reactivating the Lower Montauk line for more than half a decade, has spent this summer working with a bicycle advocacy group here in Queens to promote a greenway that could be added alongside the train line.

The DOT and the MTA should review these proposals, because, despite all the pressures and complaints from drivers about congestion and parking, we have to find a way to share our city with bikes and other alternative forms of transportation.

I was glad to see that the QNS line was included in the MTA’s list of ideal projects in its 20-year Needs Assessment report (a 2018 DOT feasibility report has already made it clear that the proposal is feasible).

Rather than simply adding it onto a long list of to-do projects that may never get done, let’s make this one happen.

In Our Opinion: LaSalle is wrong pick for Chief Justice

Last week, Governor Hochul nominated Hector LaSalle as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Empire State. Her choice to nominate him and not seeing the coming backlash demonstrates a serious lack of political adeptness.

Back in November, The Governor published a Daily News op-ed outlining her criteria for a chief justice. Among requirements like being able to manage the large court system, Hochul wrote:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken — with decisions such as Dobbs vs. Jackson, taking away a woman’s right to choose, and New York State Rifle and Pistol Association vs. Bruen, tossing a century-old law protecting New Yorkers from the proliferation of guns. We are now relying on our state courts more than ever to protect our rights. We need our courts to defend against this Supreme Court’s rapid retreat from precedent and continue our march toward progress.”

Now, with LaSalle’s nomination, Hochul has nominated someone who curtailed investigations into crisis pregnancy centers. LaSalle also allowed Cablevision to sue union members as individuals for defamation over their criticism of the telecom company’s response to Hurricane Sandy, circumnavigating protections normally afforded to union members. 

The news created a backlash with a handful of state senators saying they would vote no or expressing skepticism. Multiple unions, including the powerful 32BJ SEIU, came out hard against the nomination, labeling him as anti-worker.

LaSalle’s nomination is historic. If confirmed, he would the first Latino Chief Justice to preside over the Court of Appeals. But his record would also help move the court more rightward.

In response to the backlash, Hochul said that “I never wanted to have a political litmus test.” This statement alone shows Hochul’s weak politics, entertaining the fantasy idea that justices are completely neutral just because they wear a robe. 

It’s a political appointment. Full Stop.

Even if his record on these issues didn’t personally bother us, the nomination shows a critical misunderstanding of current political winds. All the eyes are on the courts now, and having someone with these views is not tenable in the modern Democratic Party – where issues such as labor and abortion rights are key issues. 

Exclusive: Moya’s Moment for Queens

Sealing the Deal on Willets Point Stadium


By Matthew Fischetti 

[email protected]

In the 1920s, F. Scott Fitzgerald looked at the industrial section of Queens known as Willets Point and saw the Valley of Ashes. But when Councilman Francisco Moya looked at the cadre of auto body shops, he saw something else: an opportunity.

Moya, a 48-year-old native of Corona, was first elected to the state assembly in 2011. One of the first things he did in office — before even receiving official stationery — was compile a list of five things he wanted to accomplish with his chief of staff. Near the top of that list was bringing a soccer team to New York City.

A decade later, Moya can cross that goal off his list. On November 16, Mayor Eric Adams, Moya, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced that the New York City Football Club will privately finance a new 25,000 seat stadium with 2,500 affordable homes (with no market rate components), a 650-seat school, and a 250-room hotel to boot. The project is estimated by the mayor’s office to generate $6.1 billion in economic impact over the next 30 years, creating 14,200 construction jobs and 1,550 permanent ones. 

This hasn’t been the first time a politician has tried to redevelop the area. Bloomberg successfully passed a rezoning that would have brought a mall but the development failed after legal challenges. 

Moya is a certified football fanatic: his office is adorned with signed jerseys encased in frames, soccer balls sit on his couches and a big photo of him and his father at a Barcelona match hangs above his head. 

In an interview, Moya emphasized that having the right partners were instrumental in accomplishing such a deal. 

“We looked at just getting the right partners with NYCFC, who basically came in and shared the same idea in philosophy of, ‘we want to build a neighborhood.’ It’s just not a soccer stadium. It’s not going to be just an isolated arena somewhere where people just go in and come out of. For me, it was always about making sure that if we were going to partner up, these were the specific things that I needed to see up front from someone before we can even proceed,” he said.

Moya highlighted the impact that Manchester City, whose owners also own New York City Football Club, had on the dying coal town as a reason for the partnership.

“When City Football Club came in, they built an entire city around it. And they kind of did a similar model that I’m presenting here,” Moya said.  “I think that whenever you can find someone that says we share your vision of putting housing first, we share your vision of creating the same type of atmosphere that we have in Manchester. It made it so much easier to move this along.”

The new football stadium will have union apprentice programs and opportunities for CUNY students to use the facilities in their studies. 

Moya also emphasized that the cleaning up of contaminated soil that started last year was key to getting the deal done.

“In life, everything’s about the timing. And I think we kind of hit that moment where just everything started coming together. The new administration coming in. The advanced stages already applied what we’re doing in the development of the first part of Willets Point. The fact that they saw I had this vision, and bringing them here to the borough that lives and breathes this sport like none other,” Moya said. “You walk anywhere and if it has a patch of grass in Corona, Queens – somebody’s playing soccer.” 

The stadium is projected to open in 2027 following a ULURP process, while construction on the first housing units will begin in 2023. 

Local Podiatrist Data May Prove Link Between Hammertoe & Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you may be aware of how diabetic Neuropathy can affect your feet. Diabetic Neuropathy can cause numbness and other sensations in the feet and legs, which tends to mask any pain a person might feel from any cuts or sores they might have on their feet. If these wounds aren’t cared for properly, it can lead to infection.

This nerve damage from diabetes can increase your chances of developing certain foot problems, like hammertoe, which is a contracture deformity, or bending, of one or both joints in the little toes.

The most common cause of hammertoe is an imbalance of the muscles and tendons, which is usually due to structural or neurological changes in the foot that occur over time. “The small muscles [and] tendons in the foot can be affected by [diabetic] Neuropathy,” says local podiatrist William Spielfogel, DPM, chief of the division of podiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital. When the nerve endings in the small muscles and tendons aren’t functioning well, the imbalance can cause the toe to contract up, he says.

If the toe is contracted and rubs up against the top of the shoe, and you have a lack of sensation, you can develop a sore on that toe, which could lead to an ulceration and further complications, says Dr. Spielfogel.

How To Prevent Hammertoe When You Have Diabetes

Hammertoe is often aggravated by shoes that don’t fit you properly. If a toe is too long and is forced into a cramped position with too-tight shoes, it could cause a hammertoe. “Think about the shoes that you’re wearing. You might need bigger shoes or better fitting shoes, or maybe you don’t tie your shoelaces so tight,” says Minisha Sood, MD, an endocrinologist in New York City. Your feet can get larger with age or after certain body changes like pregnancy. So just because you’ve always worn a size 8.5 in the past doesn’t mean you should now. Different shoe brands can also vary widely in how they fit. If you have diabetes, it’s a good idea to get your feet measured and properly sized wherever you go shoe shopping. Sometimes hammertoe may also result from previous trauma to the toe.

Along with making sure you have the proper fitting shoes, managing your blood sugar and taking care of your feet regularly are the most important steps you can take to prevent any foot problems that may develop with diabetes. Take a look every day to make sure there aren’t any spots that are red, says Dr. Sood. “Address little cuts and scrapes, and cracked skin areas early, and don’t let them kind of fester and collect bacteria, because that can turn into infection.”

Contributed with help from:

Ideal Podiatrist Astoria, Foot & Ankle Doctor, DPM 31-16 30th Ave. #203, Astoria, NY 11102 (718) 626-3338

Ideal Podiatry is an award winning foot & ankle clinic in the heart of Astoria, Queens. Our medical services enjoy the highest Google rating in our are with over 250+ verified 5-star Google reviews. From Orthotics, Pain, Ingrown toenails, Bunions, Fungus, Hammertoe & Surgery – we can handle all your foot & ankle based needs.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing