World Artisian Market Hosts Yelp Community Event

By Britney Trachtenberg

Credit: Britney Trachtenberg

The World Artisian Market in Astoria hosted a Yelp Community Event and launch party on Thurs., May 9. The participating restaurants— Arepa Lady, Hiro Ramen, Mister Everything, Urban Vegan Roots, Sala, Sotto La Luna, and Elevenses—  handed out appetizers to members of the Yelp Elite Squad and their friends.

The Yelp Elite Squad is a special group of locals who write Yelp reviews. Elites have a special badge on their profile and receive invitations to exclusive events at restaurants in their communities.

Each restaurant handed out their own appetizers. Arepa Lady gave out cheese arepas. Hiro Ramen served takoyaki, edamame, seaweed salad, gyoza, ube fries, dumplings, and fried shrimp. Attendees at Mister Everything ate chips and guacamole, mushroom risotto balls, and veggie spring rolls. Urban Vegan Roots plated vegan fish cakes— cleverly called “the not so crabby patties— and Korean barbeque wings made with vegan chicken. Sala distributed manchego and quince, croquettes, pan tumaca con jamon, pan tumaca, and a choice between rose or red sangria. Sotto La Luna dished out fresh cacio e pepe and samplings of different pizzas, while Elevenses served morning buns.

Samantha Cillemi-Berenz, Yelp Queens Senior Community Manager, said, “We are so lucky to be part of the most diverse borough in all of New York City. The World Artisan Market is an amazing representation of Queens and our community as it showcases an array of different cuisines. As the Yelp Queens Senior Community Manager I knew I had to play a part in helping bring awareness to this space in an effort to support all these incredible local businesses.”

David Segovia, General Manager of Sala, worked with the landlord to participate in the Yelp Community Event. He said, “We are an independent restaurant and we are following the lead of the landlord of the building.”

Attendees had varying years of experience with writing for Yelp. Jamel Sweat of Jackson Heights created an account sixteen years ago when Yelp was a new company. Gerardo Aponte started writing reviews ten years ago after being inspired by his friend. Phil Harris of Sunnyside started writing reviews six years ago for fun. Nicole Karavas of Astoria began one year ago to get more involved with the community.

Karavas said, “I live in the area and I pass this block many times, but I’ve never been to any of these and I’m so glad I came. Every place is so nice. The ambiance, all the people I’ve been meeting, the owners, the managers are just so amazing.”

Alana Kadison from Astoria said, “I live close by and I always pass it and I was saying ‘oh, I want to stop there [and] and I want to try it, but I never got to before.” She loved the pasta at Sotto La Luna and the arepa from Arepa Lady. When asked if she would come back to any of the restaurants, she said, “I’m definitely going to go back to Soto and try different kinds of pastas.”

Tablao Flamenco performed dances for attendees. Peter Basal from Forest Hills and spokesperson for the group said, “Flamenco has a lot of improvisational elements as everybody saw tonight. It has different forms and it [has] a lot of poetry. It talks about life. It talks about love.”

Credit: Britney Trachtenberg

Throughout the year, people can nominate themselves for the Yelp Elite Squad on Yelp’s website. The Elite Council reviews the applications.

Big Turnout for Mother’s Day 5K at Forest Park Despite Rain

By Britney Trachtenberg

Credit: Britney Trachtenberg

Despite the rain on the morning of Sun., May 12, Run Hustle Run hosted their 4th Annual Queens in Queens Mother’s Day 5K Run/Walk at Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village. Forty people attended the event, which is their biggest total yet. This is also the first year that Run Hustle Run hosted the event at this park.

Run Hustle Run is one of the only running groups based in southeast Queens. Wil Pierce of Richmond Hill, Charlie Mercado from Richmond Hill, and Jason Nazryk from Briarwood founded the group in 2016 after they coincidentally signed up for the following year’s New York City marathon. Pierce said, “We figured we should train together and through that, we were like ‘let’s open it up and invite other people to run with us and see who comes.’ It was a cold Feb. Tues. night when we started and it was kind of beyond our wildest dreams that people showed up and we’ve been growing ever since.”

“We were founded just to offer health and wellness to the southeast Queens neighborhood,” said Erin Clarke, captain.

In previous years, the running crew gathered at Alley Pond Park and Cunningham Park for this event. The running group chose to meet at Forest Park because it is closer to where they typically run. “We heard from the people in our group that they wanted something a little closer to home so we thought it would be a little bit nicer to have it here,” said Clarke.

Attendees gathered under tents near the Forest Park Bandshell Parking Lot. Clarke checked each person’s registration and gave them a number. The adjacent table had Dunkin’ coffee, munchkins, BJ’s wholesale kosher cookies, Wellesley Farms water bottles, and Wellesley Farms black-and-white cookies.

Thanya Valdobinos of Flushing started running in June 2023 and heard about the 5K event through Instagram. She said, “I got the Brooklyn half coming up so I figured it’s a great experience.” When asked what inspired her to start running, she said, “To be honest, to keep myself healthy, but also for my mental health. It really does wonders, like, the endorphins after a run, and it brings the community together.”

The event participants gathered for a group photo at the starting line. Credit: Britney Trachtenberg

At 9:00 a.m., Pierce thanked everyone for coming out despite the rain. He said, “The flowers need water and we’re all flowers.” Mercado added, “We appreciate the women out here and the ladies and the mothers who are doing what they do.”

Clarke led the participants in a series of stretches. She encouraged mothers and daughters to lean on each other for balance during the first exercise. They raised each leg and rotated it in both directions for five seconds each. Then, they brought each leg back and held it above the ankle for ten seconds. Next, the attendees walked for ten seconds to work out their calves. They squatted ten times to stretch their glutes and did toe touches and high knees for ten more seconds. Clarke said, “Now that we’re a little warm and we’ve stretched out, it’s time to get this run on!”

The participants split into two groups: people who ran and people who walked. Jenny Reyna from Ozone Park led the walking group. Since 2019, Reyna has participated in runs with Run Hustle Run.

The course started at the Forest Park Bandshell Parking Lot. Attendees went past the PFC Lawrence Strack Memorial Pond and turned onto Woodhaven Blvd. Then, the participants made a right on Forest Park and moved past the Ed Salvinksi Promenade and the George Suffett Bandshell Park. During the course, the walking group stopped to take a selfie on the trail. The path looped around to the Forest Park Bandshell Parking Lot for the finish.

The walking group stopped to take a selfie on the trail. Credit: Britney Trachtenberg

People who completed the 5K received a pink medal that read “Queens in Queens.” 

Attendees wore their Run Hustle Run t-shirts and medals for a group photo. Credit: Britney Trachtenberg

Cynthia Rodriguez from Jamaica attended the event with her family. Though she volunteered with Run Hustle Run, she ran part of the course with her relatives. Amy Rodriguez heard about the running crew while en route to Cynthia’s house. Amy said, “I saw a bunch of people running so I stopped by and asked them what that was about so that’s how I heard about Hustle. They told me to come to the barber shop on Tuesdays.”

Run Hustle Run meets every Tues. at 7:00 p.m. in front of the Hustle Barbershop in Richmond Hill. The running crew gathers every Sat. at 9:00 a.m. near Sweet Leaf in Long Island City and every Sun. at 8:00 a.m. at the Hustle Barbershop. Clarke said, “Our runs are open to walkers [and] runners of all fitness levels.”

Grand Marshals for Maspeth Memorial Day Parade Announced

Leonard Williams was born in 1951, the third in a family of five children. He spent his childhood in Williamsburg before the family moved to Middle Village in 1963. He attended St. John’s Preparatory High School and the New York School of Printing. 

Not a fan of school, Len decided to join the military at age 17 — although his mother and aunts didn’t want him to. He started out his service in Georgia for basic training and then worked on radio communications and repair in the Signal Corps. Following that, he did infantry training in South Carolina before volunteering to go to Vietnam. In January of 1970, a few months after turning 18, he arrived in the country and was assigned to drive convoy — even though he didn’t yet have a driver’s license. For his last year in service, Len worked in the German Black Forest at a top-secret missile depot. 

Len’s service ribbons include Expert in M16, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with 2 OS Bars. 

Len said he considers himself very lucky that he was able to drive convoy. Others in his infantry unit were involved in two different battles, one only 25 miles away from where he was working. He explained that he suffers from survivor’s guilt. 

“If I was not transferred to transportation, I should’ve been there. I should have been at that battle. But I wasn’t. And that’s when I turn around and say, but for the grace of God… I suffer from like, I should’ve been there. Not that I wanted to be there, but…” 

Len said he thinks about Vietnam all the time. 

“You wake up every day, no matter how many years, you still think about it,” he said. “We all do.”

After his service, Len kept driving. He started in 1978 as a bus driver for the Triboro Coach Bus Company (before the private bus companies in Queens were absorbed into the Department of Transportation). He worked as a driver for 20 years, then as a line supervisor for the next 15, and finally as a safety trainer for his final five years. 

After retiring, Len became active in the Vietnam Veterans of America, and was elected president of Chapter 32 in 2023. He helps lead the organization in hosting fundraisers and providing supplies for the men’s veterans shelter on Borden Ave in Long Island City and the state nursing home for veterans in St. Albans. The group also does street dedications and street fairs. They used to do indigent burials, but that paused during Covid. Len says he’s trying to bring that program back. 

“I guess we make you feel comfortable, like be proud that you’re military, instead of just falling by the wayside. That’s what we do, we connect with veterans,” Len said.

Barbara Pryor’s family has been a fixture in the Maspeth community for many years. Her father, Stanley Joseph Pryor, served in World War II before opening up a law practice in Maspeth in the 1950s. Barbara joined the practice in 1982, where she still works today as a real estate attorney. 

Barbara attended Holy Cross School, The Mary Louis Academy, Fordham University and Brooklyn Law School. She is a member of the Queens County, New York State and New York City Bar Associations and is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Barbara has served as Board president of Queens Council on the Arts. She is a member of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, member and past president of the Maspeth Kiwanis Club, and board member of Maspeth Town Hall. 

Although she no longer lives in Maspeth, Barbara cares deeply about the community. 

“Maspeth is a great community,” she said. It’s filled with people who care, people who still think about tradition — like honoring our veterans, year after year. The bank does so many great things for the community, including sponsoring this parade. It’s just a nice place to live.”

Barbara will always cherish the gift of having been chosen as a grand marshal for the Memorial Day parade. 

“I’m so honored to be [a grand marshal] with Len Williams, honoring not only our veterans past and present but the community of Maspeth.”

How to understand and improve your credit score in 2024

Credit is one of the most important aspects of a person’s financial life. This three-digit number affects nearly every facet of your financial life and makes it easier to achieve important milestones, like renting an apartment, buying a car, or getting a mortgage for your first home.

There are several components to credit that have an impact on you and your financial situation, so we’ve tapped the experts at Maspeth Federal Savings to help us become better informed.

In this article, we cover everything you need to know about building credit — even if you have no credit history whatsoever. In this month’s educational video, we explain what a credit score is, why it’s important to have good credit, how you can check your credit score, the factors that affect your credit score, and how to improve your credit score.


Q. What exactly is credit?

Technically, credit is a contract between a borrower and lender to borrow something (money, goods, or services, etc.) with the promise to pay over-time. The amount you owe is your debt to that lender. But borrowing isn’t free: It comes at cost. That cost is the interest rate the lender charges, which is the cost of borrowing.

If you want to purchase something but don’t have the cash on hand, you may be able to buy it through credit. Examples of buying through credit include:

  • “Buy now, pay later” programs like Amazon Affirm
  • Smartphone payment plans
  • Mortgage loans and rental agreements
  • Student and auto loans/leases
  • Credit cards

In essence, your credit is your capacity to borrow. That capacity is measured by your credit score—a number on a scale of 300-850 that represents how reliable you are as a borrower, i.e., how likely you are to repay what you borrow.

Think of your credit score as your financial GPA: Just as colleges use your GPA to decide on admission, lenders use your credit score to decide whether and how much they’ll let you borrow. The higher your score, the more likely they are to decide in your favor, but remember: Using credit is a privilege, not a right—no lender is ever obligated to give you credit just because you need or want to buy something.


Q. Why is it important to have good credit?

If you want to make a large purchase, rent an apartment, buy a house, buy or lease a car, apply for private student or business loans, or obtain insurance (basically, whenever you seek to acquire assets) lenders, insurance companies and landlords will look at your credit history and score to decide whether they will lend you the amount you want. Good credit increases your chances of getting not only approval but also a preferential (lower) interest rate. Conversely, bad credit may prevent you from getting approved for a loan.

What do lenders want to see? A person who is responsible enough to consistently take on debt and repay it in a timely manner. This is why “debt” isn’t necessarily a dirty word. In fact, having debt can be helpful: If you have zero credit history, meaning you’ve never taken on debt or you don’t have a credit account that’s at least six months old, then lenders cannot asses your credit worthiness. Without a way to gauge how likely you are to repay the debt, they might instantly decline your application for credit.


Q. How can I check my credit score?

Your credit score is tracked and managed by three major credit bureaus: Equifax®, TransUnion®, and Experian. You can access your report from each bureau for free once a year, which you can do easily at Check your reports once a year and look for unfamiliar entries, which may indicate fraud. You can also see your credit report for free whenever you apply for a loan. Just ask the lender to see the report they obtained from the bureau(s) they consulted.

Note there are two brands of credit scores available: A FICO® score and a VantageScore, which is just a brief summary of factors that affect your full FICO® score. Most lenders use the FICO® score to make their decisions, so go by that. Just be aware that when you’re viewing your score on sites like CreditKarma or your credit card dashboard, they’re likely showing you the VantageScore.


Q. How is my score calculated?

Each credit bureau has its own way of scoring based on different loan types and industries, and each lender has its own criteria when evaluating your credit report. But the key factors that affect your score and your approval include:

  • Payment history: Have you consistently paid off your debts in a timely manner?
  • Credit utilization: How much credit is available to you vs. how much do you borrow? Do you show restraint by borrowing a small percentage of what’s available, or are you constantly maxing out your lines of credit, which implies risky behavior?
  • Credit mix: The different types of loans you have, like credit cards, auto loans or mortgage.
  • Length of credit history: How long have you been borrowing and repaying debts? The longer your history, the more reliable you seem.
  • New inquiries: How many times has someone requested to see your credit report recently?


Q. What if I don’t have any credit history?

A long credit history increases your chances of getting a higher limit or a better loan, so start building credit as soon as possible. Here’s what I recommend (and what I did myself):

  • Become an authorized user: Starting at age 16, you can be added as an authorized user to a parent’s credit card. This can help you learn good financial habits and build credit. Please note the age requirement for being an authorized user on a credit card can vary by lender.
  • Get a student card: A special credit card designed for high school/college students. Terms may vary depending on the lender.
  • Get a “secured” credit card: You open an account with $200 and receive a credit card with that limit on it. So you’re essentially borrowing your own money but paying interest on your own money – for the sake of building credit. Make on-time payments for six months to a year until you see your score improve, then apply for a regular credit card and close this one out to get your $200 back. This is how I started.
  • Leverage your utility bills: Look into services like Experian Boost that allow you to integrate utility payments into your credit score.

Q. How do I improve my credit score?

The most important thing is to pay your bills on time. When it comes to credit cards, always pay more than the minimum amount due on your monthly statement if not the entire balance in full. If you only pay the minimum amount, you’ll still be charged high interest rates on the remaining balance.

The next thing is to aim for a credit utilization rate of about 30%. So if you have a credit limit of $1,000, cap your monthly charges at less than $300. Reaching a 90% utilization rate or maxing out your credit card implies you’re acting risky. If you absolutely must incur that extra debt due to an emergency, your score may dip temporarily but will rebound as long as you keep paying more than your monthly minimum going forward.

Additionally, don’t close out your first credit card. Use it periodically, pay it off, and keep it as long as possible. This will help increase the length of your credit history, which is the average length of each credit account you have. That also means that you shouldn’t be opening new credit cards every time a retail cashier offers you a deal at the register, because in addition to the inquiry showing up, each new account opening lowers your average length of credit history.


Q: What do I do if I have bad credit?

Access your credit report to find out why it’s low. Are there accounts you don’t recognize? If so, contact the credit bureaus to start a fraud investigation. Are there collections on your report? Reach out to the lenders for proof the debts are yours and ask to negotiate settlements in full or at a discount. This could be as simple as calling the billing department of a hospital and asking to claim hardship. Most of the time, lenders will work with you, but you have to ask nonetheless. In fact, this is part of what credit repair services do. They reach out to creditors to ask about settling on your behalf, which you can do on your own for free.

Once you’ve sorted your credit report, the most important thing is to continue paying your bills on time. It could take years to improve your score, but you’re on the right track.

Maspeth Federal Savings does not base their credit decisions only on credit scores, they also consider other important factors from the borrowers such as debt-to-income ratio.


Q. What are some common credit-related risks to watch for?

1. Fraud: Checking your credit report once a year is a good start, but if you’re not applying for credit or a loan anytime soon, contact the credit bureaus to freeze your account. When criminals try to open lines of credit on your behalf, they won’t be able to. When you’re looking to apply for credit again in the future, just unfreeze it.

2. Fine print. Whether you’re signing for a personal loan, an auto loan, a mortgage, etc., read the fine print. Take your time to ask questions and understand the final terms and numbers. You have the power to walk away at any point before you sign, even at the closing table. Trust your gut and don’t succumb to high-pressure salespeople or sketchy lenders.

3. Spending: It’s the best way to build credit and the best way to destroy it. Beware of spending money you don’t have and overborrowing. Avoid increasing your credit card limits or number of cards unless you absolutely need more borrowing capacity. Remember: Every swipe is a promise to pay with interest.

4. Balance transfers: Be careful of balance transfers as most are only for 1 year. After that, your balance will accrue interest at a high rate, upwards of 30%. Please note there is generally a fee between 3-5% charged by the creditor – please read the fine print.

5. Social media. While TikTok and Instagram shorts promise exciting financial strategies and payoffs, half of that stuff doesn’t actually exist—it’s just for content and you should always do your own research. Be wary of financial and real estate investment advice from social media.

Maspeth Federal Savings hosts regular financial literacy sessions at local schools and college campuses. Follow Maspeth Federal Savings on Instagram to find out when the next one is, or reach out to to request a seminar at your school or organization.

Maspeth Federal Savings
📍 56-18 69th St. Maspeth, NY 11378
📍 101-09 Metropolitan Ave. Forest Hills, NY 11375
📍 64-19 Woodhaven Blvd. Rego Park, NY 11374
📍 66-60 Fresh Pond Rd. Ridgewood, NY 11385
📍 185-18 Horace Harding Expy. Queens, NY 11365
📍 801 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, Queens 11040

Family of Win Rozario Speaks Out

By Celia Bernhardt |

Win Rozario’s father, brother, and mother stand in front of a crowd of supporters. Credit: Celia Bernhardt

The family of Win Rozario, a 19-year-old Bangladeshi Ozone Park resident killed by the NYPD, is speaking out. 

A well-attended press conference on Wednesday, May 8 at the steps of City Hall marked the first time Rozario’s parents and 17-year-old brother, Ushto, had spoken publicly about his death. With a crowd of activists and Bangladeshi community members standing behind them, the Rozarios called for the prosecution and immediate suspension of NYPD officers Salvatore Alongi and Matthew Cianfrocco. They also said that they were “treated like criminals” by the police in the wake of the shooting, and were locked out of their home for two days. 

“The past 22 days have been hell for us,” Ushto Rozario said to the crowd. “I’m really angry and disgusted that the people that’s supposed to serve and protect us are the ones that’s killing us.”

Win Rozario was killed on March 27 after police received a 911 call about someone in mental distress at his residence. Body camera footage released on May 3 shows a rapid escalation in officers’ interaction with Rozario and his family — Alongi and Cianfrocco were in the apartment for under three minutes before they fired at the teen. Upon seeing the officers, Rozario grabbed a pair of scissors from a kitchen drawer and moved towards them. They immediately Tased him. Win’s mother, Notan Eva Costa, held onto him as the Tasers were in effect. She restrained him and stood in front of him, telling officers not to shoot. They repeatedly shouted at her to move out of their way; when she did, they immediately deployed Tasers again on Win, who was at that point standing still. While being Tased, Win again picked up the scissors and came towards officers. The officers then fired. Eva Costa ran to shield her son’s body from the police, and Ushto held onto Eva Costo to shield her. When Win was out of their embrace and standing up in the kitchen, officers again fired at him, multiple times, from the living room. 

The Attorney General’s Office is investigating the incident. 

In a May 3 statement, the NYPD wrote that Alongi and Cianfrocco remain on modified assignment — not carrying firearms or a shield. 

At City Hall, the Rozarios all demanded the officers be immediately suspended without pay, prosecuted, and fired. 

“Modified duty isn’t enough — it’s a joke,” Ushto said. “They’re a danger to all New Yorkers and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”


Ushto Rozario, Win’s brother, speaks to the crowd. Credit: Celia Bernhardt

The family also detailed what they described as mistreatment from the police immediately following Win’s death. 

“They made us go to the police station right after they killed my brother. I had shorts on and it was freezing cold outside,” Ushto said. “They didn’t even let me put clothes on.”

Ushto went on to describe the officers talking casually about their weekends while driving the family to the precinct. He said that he and his parents were treated like “criminals” when they arrived. 

“They threw us in an interrogation room,” Ushto said, “They investigated my mother for hours, even in the state that she was in…They investigated me, a minor, without my parents’ consent.”

The Rozarios said they were barred from re-entering their house for 48 hours, and were not able to retrieve their pet cat or their medications. 

“It was a rainy day,” Francis Rozario, Win and Ushto’s father, said. “They did not offer any shelter for us. We even tried to tell them that our cat was in the house alone but they did not care.” 

Ushto said his family only gained access to their house once the Justice Committee, an activist organization, requested help from the Public Advocate’s Office. 

Win’s blood had not yet been cleaned from their home, multiple speakers said. It was Desis Rising Up and Moving, another local organization, that helped sanitize the space for the Rozarios to re-enter. 

“The family is still living in the same home where Win was murdered. Win’s mother still has to cook in that same kitchen where the NYPD shot her son in front of her,” Simran Thind, an organizer with DRUM, said. “We cannot let them live and suffer in that same home that the NYPD made hell for them.”

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

The Rozarios praised Win’s character, painting a picture of a sensitive, dedicated teen. 

“He was very smart and very curious,” Francis Rozario said. “Very organized, and he had a strong sense of right and wrong. He always wanted to do what was right but did not care about getting credit for it. When we were walking on the street, if he saw litter, he would pick it up and put it in the trash.”

Ushto said his brother was “determined and disciplined.”

“When we first moved to the country, we didn’t really know what basketball was,” Ushto said. “And when we used to play basketball, people used to make fun of us on the court. So Win spent months training himself so he could be better than the people that he played with. And in a few months, he became better than the people who played for their whole life.”

Eva Costa spoke about her son’s dreams for the future. 

“Win wanted to join the military and dreamed that afterwards, he would save up to have a farm. He was very disciplined when he took exams; he would be very focused and do very well. He told us he wanted to join the military because he wanted to do something for this country. He would cook for me and help keep everything at home neat. That is who the police stole from us,” Costa said. 

“Win was quiet and polite,” she continued. “He was always helping me. When I made new handicrafts with beads, he would help me, and his face would shine because he was happy for me and happy to be with me.”

Queens GOP Press Conference: Paul King, Yiatin Chu and Dwayne Moore on NYC Migrant Struggles

By Ledger Staff |

Paul King speaks in Jamaica.

At a Queens GOP press conference in Jamaica, three candidates delivered speeches focused on the ongoing influx of migrants into New York. About a dozen attendees listened to the candidates outline their platforms on Monday in front of a hotel functioning as a migrant shelter.

The city’s migrant crisis is a hot-button issue this election cycle, and Republicans are betting on it to garner them more votes. Two candidates at the event — Paul King, running for a House seat in the 5th District and Dwayne Moore, running for the 29th Assembly District seat inside the 5th congressional district — look to have very slim chances of winning. Candidate Yiatin Chu, though, who is running for State Senate in District 11, could be a competitive challenger to Democratic incumbent Toby Ann Stavinsky. 

Paul King, a Republican Rockaway resident challenging powerful House Democrat Gregory Meeks for the second cycle in a row, was among the speakers. King lost by a wide margin in 2022, with Meeks taking home 75.1% of the vote. 

In describing his platform, King said he would support reviving the H.R.2 “Secure the Border” Act, the bill at the heart of government shutdown threats in January. H.R.2 would impose sweeping restrictions on the asylum process, denying migrants the option to claim asylum unless the individual Customs and Border Patrol officer that processes them decides that their asylum case is likely to be accepted, and requiring those making an asylum claim to pay a $50 fee. It would also require all employers to verify their employees’ legal status, and resume Trump-era plans for a more extensive border wall. 

King also argued that the asylum process should generally be altered.

“It’s being watered down because we allow it to be used like a magic word. Abracadabra, you come to the border, you say asylum, you get to come in,” King said. “We need to bring back asylum what it’s meant to do: to help people who need protection and give them their day in court quickly, not seven years from now.”

King’s last point touched on international affairs. “The final thing we should do, immediately in early 2025, is give the President, via new laws, more power to go after the coyote cartels in Mexico,” he said to the crowd. 

The notion of direct attacks on Mexican cartels has gained significant ground in the GOP in recent years as the proliferation of fentanyl has worsened. Lawyers say such actions would not be consistent with international law, and some State Department officials have warned of potential bloody backlash on American soil. 

Yiatin Chu

Yiatin Chu, an anti-affirmative action and pro-SHSAT education activist running against  Democrat incumbent Toby Ann Stavinsky for the District 11 State Senate seat, spoke next. Stavinsky, who chairs the Committee on Higher Education, has 25 years in office under her belt. The race could be competitive: while the district re-elected Stavinsky in 2022, which was a bad year for Democrats, it’s been trending steadily more Republican in recent years and has a plurality of Asian voters. 

“Instead of budgeting an additional $2.4 billion dollars, as Albany did in April, for services for illegal migrants, we must defund all programs for illegal immigrants except the cost of a one way bus ticket to leave our state,” Chu said in her speech. 

Chu also expressed her support for Laken’s Law, a bill that would require local and state law enforcement, and some courts, to notify ICE upon the arrest or conviction of an undocumented person. 

Like King, Chu argued for restricting employers’ ability to hire undocumented workers — specifically highlighting food delivery apps, an ever-popular work option among migrant men trying to make a living.

“We need to enforce labor laws that we have on the books and start giving jobs to legal residents who want them,” Chu said. “Start by ensuring that the delivery app companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash have them audit their workers. These companies have made huge profits by allowing their business model to underpay illegal immigrants while taking away opportunities from legal residents.”

Dwayne Moore.

Dwayne Moore, a former teacher, actor and Jamaica, Queens resident who serves as a Republican County Committee member, spoke after Chu. Moore is running for an Assembly seat in the 29th District, which hasn’t seen a Republican candidate since 2015 — the year that current Democratic incumbent Alicia Hyndman won 92.8% of the vote. 

Moore, like Chu, stated his support for ending New York’s sanctuary city status. He argued that the large number of migrant children enrolling in the strained city’s public school system is “taking the future away from our kids.”

When it comes to policy, Moore said the state should pass legislation preventing undocumented immigrants from becoming homeowners — a departure from the event’s overall focus on impoverished and working class migrants who rely on strained social services. 

“How can we just flood over 170,000 people when our own citizens can’t even get homes, can’t even get apartments?” Moore said. “We should pass legislation barring anyone that is not a citizen and does not have legal status to be able to purchase property in this state.”

Wendy Li Wants to Be Your Surrogate Court Judge

By Celia Bernhardt and Charlie Finnerty |

Wendy Li. Credit: Charlie Finnerty

For many Queens voters, surrogate’s court judge elections might be easy to miss. In contrast to flashy city council campaigns and mayoral races, surrogate court candidates are restricted from speaking openly about political issues or directly soliciting donations. This year, New York City Civil Court Judge Wendy Li has made the race more interesting than ever with eye-catching fundraising numbers and a promise to challenge Queen Democratic Party politics. 

The surrogate’s court judge oversees estate proceedings to ensure the assets and property of deceased New Yorkers are distributed and managed properly in accordance with the law. These cases can often include custody decisions of dependents and children of the deceased. Whoever assumes the judgeship not only handles the individual cases relevant to the court, but also appoints lawyers and is responsible for the management of the offices of the court. Lawyers can secure huge payoffs processing estate cases — which is part of why the surrogate seat has historically been a hotbed of political patronage. 

Li — running as a Democrat against the Queen Democratic Party’s favored candidate — argues that she’s the right pick for those who want to change that. 

Li is a graduate of several elite universities with a background in international finance law. She first obtained a law degree from China’s prestigious Peking University before receiving a scholarship to move to the US and continue her studies at Southern Methodist University at age 28; following that, she studied at Oxford. Li worked at multiple big law firms from then on, including Squire Patton Boggs and Greenberg Traurig. 

“I did lots of international work, I did lots of finance work, and I did trust work for the legacy families of the United States,” Li explained. 

Judicial campaigns are, by state law, placed under higher scrutiny than the average political campaign. Among other restrictions, candidates are held to a higher standard of truthfulness in how they represent themselves, cannot endorse candidates in other races, cannot appeal to specific political policy preferences and — crucially —  cannot directly solicit donations or even know the identity of donors. A team of fundraisers manages the campaign’s finance in the candidate’s stead. 

Li’s campaign has seen very strong financial support, nearing $200,000 in donations, which she attributes to strong support from Asian communities in Queens.

“Right now, because we got a lot of support from Chinese communities, most of our fundraiser activities right now have been in the Chinese community. It’s mostly the friends, families, community members,” Li said. 

Li’s opponent, backed by powerful House Democrat Gregory Meeks, is Supreme Court Judge Cassandra Johnson. Johnson’s fundraising haul is unclear as of now due to the timing around disclosure requirements, but she’ll be able to transfer $13,938 from a previous campaign. 

Li frames herself as someone who can shake up the typical functioning of the Queens Democratic party machine. 

“Queens is due for something new,” she said. “So that’s why people are coming out to support the good cause.”

At the core of Li’s campaign is a promise to make the court more accessible to Queens’ diverse communities by ensuring the court’s officers include bilingual attorneys and translators.

“For me, I think it’s important that our panels are actually from all communities, not just from one community. That means we will have attorneys who might be able to speak multiple languages,” Li said. “The diversity of the attorneys, especially the diversity of the language, is very important. I want to make our bench and our attorney panel more inclusive.”

Li has attended at least two community board meetings to introduce herself thus far. At a January CB1 meeting, she was at first dissuaded from speaking by the board’s chair due to rules that prohibit campaigning at meetings, but continued on with the explanation that she was there to encourage bilingual community members to apply for court translator positions. She also attended a May CB5 meeting, where she spoke about the purpose of the surrogate court and said she aims to reduce case backlog if elected. 

Li said she feels that the surrogate court’s ability to appoint attorneys based on merit has been compromised by a tendency towards political patronage

“When I’m elected, I will open the attorneys panel to all communities,” Li said. “It’s based on the qualifications, not the political connection.”

An April Politico article threw the significance of Li and Johnson’s competition into sharp relief, highlighting the power that surrogate judges have and the role of the bench in Queens Democratic Party internal politics. Li winning the seat as an outsider to the party leadership would disrupt the party’s hold on a crucial tool of political power brokerage.

“The Queens County Democratic Organization would continue to exist if they lost the surrogate race — but it would be a shell of itself,” former congressman Anthony Weiner told Politico.

Li embraced this characterization of the race.

“There was a quote in the Politico article that this race — when I win the race — we will mark the end of an era of New York City machine politics. I think it’s true,” she said. “I think the surrogate’s court judge is by the people and for the people. The surrogate’s court should work for the benefit of the people.”

This race is not the first time Li’s candidacy has put her at odds with party leadership. During her 2018 Civil Court race, Li claims she was told by party leaders that she would not be a suitable candidate, in part because of her accent as an Asian immigrant.

“They said that I’m not supposed to run, I speak English with an accent, I was not born in the United States. ‘It’s not your turn, you’re not supposed to run,’” Li said. “It’s a democratic society. The individual should be given the opportunity to run.”

The Queens Eagle recently reported that Li’s name appeared on certain ballot petitions alongside that of Hiram Monseratte, a district leader running to fill the seat of longtime Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry who announced his retirement this year. Monseratte was expelled from his State Senate seat in 2009 after being convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge and later served time in prison for federal corruption charges. Monseratte, positioned as an outsider, is running against Aubry’s pick for the seat, Larinda Hooks. Li acknowledged that one of her campaign consultants appeared to be helping Monseratte’s campaign, but said she had no direct affiliation with Monseratte. 

“I do work with a political consultant who also, I believe, is helping Hiram,” Li told the Queens Ledger. 

Still, Li seemed to express some alignment with the embattled district leader. When asked what she thought of Monseratte, Li said that “everyone deserves an opportunity to run for the position they want to.” 

“Like the Politico article says, when people have choices, everybody wins,” Li said — referring to a quote from Monseratte himself in that article.

New JFK Terminal Six Passes $2.3 Billion in Contracts for Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

US Representative Gregory Meeks speaks about the important to private and public partnerships. Credit: Jean Brannum

By Jean Brannum |

On the walk from the Air Train to Terminal Five, visitors at JFK Airport can get a glimpse of the upcoming new Terminal Six. At this point, you won’t see or hear much except a steady banging sound and a dusty construction sight surrounded by a chain-link fence.

But in Building 111, a crowd of business executives, investors, and community leaders celebrated the $2.3 billion in contracts for Minority-and-Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) that are part of the new Terminal Six and the progress on construction. This project is one of five to create a new and improved JFK Airport

The Port Authority surpassed its goal of 30 percent of participating businesses being MWBEs, beating LaGuardia Airport for most MWBEs in an airport. At this point, more than 200 local businesses are part of the project to build a better terminal. 

There are upcoming opportunities for local businesses to sell their products in the new terminal. This summer, three retail or pre-packaged food businesses will have the opportunity to sell their products in the 60,000-square-foot shopping facility to open in 2026. There will be two more spots to open in 2028 as part of phase two. Many of the already-confirmed businesses are local and will be announced later, according to Steven Thody, interim CEO of JFK Millennium Partners (JMP). 

Thody said that the new terminal should give visitors, whether they are coming to the city or passing through, a taste of New York City culture. He was previously part of the revamp of Terminal B at LaGuardia, which was the first terminal in North America awarded five stars by Skytrax.

“We want people to feel like they are in New York City here,” Thody said in a separate interview.

The building of the terminal has been an effort of private companies, the Port Authority, residents of southeast Queens, and community leaders, including Congressmen Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Donovon Richards Jr. 

In his speech, Meeks highlighted the importance of private and public partnerships, saying that tasks are completed when the government works with corporations. 

Community leaders and company representatives gathered to celebrate the progress on the new Terminal Six at JFK. Credit: Jean Brannum

“Building a new airport from the ground up is a team sport, and we would not be here today without our terminal developers, without our strong partnerships with a multitude of private companies,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton recognizing the multiple elected officials and company executives standing next to him.

Residents near the airport deal with constant plane noise and traffic, the borough president said. Members of the community contributed to the terminal project, many of them crowding the room in Building 111. 

A terminal of technological and sustainable development

Thody said the terminal will be equipped with the latest technology to improve passenger experience, including AI. Terminal six will use AI to provide insight into everything from concessions to security, then use that information to improve efficiency and avoid slowdowns caused by a high passenger volume.

Technology will decrease energy use by improving automation in baggage handling. Conveyer belts that used to continuously run to funnel bags between checkpoints, will now only run when sensors recognize a bag needing transport. 

The terminal will also use solar power to decrease its carbon footprint. This project is not related to the recently-announced solar panel canopy that covers the parking lots, but there will be 6,000 solar panels powering Terminal Six. The thirty oval-shaped skylights bring much-needed natural light to the inside of the building, which cuts down the need for electrical light. The skylights will be coated in a film that keeps heat from the sun out as well to reduce the need for air conditioning in the warmer months.  JMP is pursuing several sustainability certificates, including LEED certification. 

The first resident airline will be the Lufthansa group, which includes Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Brussels Airlines. More airlines are to be announced soon. The new terminal is set to open with ten gates total. The first five gates will open in 2026. 

Throwing Around Money Won’t Guarantee Cohen Gets His Casino

Citi Field. By Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA – Citi Field, CC BY 2.0,

From his time as owner of the New York Mets, Steve Cohen can vouch for the fact that throwing a lot of money at a problem is no guarantee of success. The Mets have invested millions in superstar players to boost his team’s chances of winning the World Series and it hasn’t paid dividends.

For example, in recent years, he brought in two Cy Young Award-winning pitchers in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, only to see it fail spectacularly.

Cohen appears to be willing to take the same approach in his bid to land a retail casino to be situated next to Citi Field in Willets Point. Just a couple of months ago, Cohen sought to sweeten his bid by throwing some cash at it.

Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management put forth a proposal for a $1 billion boost that would be part of the $8 billion investment designated for the creation of Metropolitan Park on the 61 acre area.

The overall plan would include the usage of 20 acres of park space and five acres of public fields. The $1 billion is being pledged to making commitments to community investment for the area.

The community investment component would feature health care investments, legal aid for immigration and programs for both youth and senior groups.

“We have learned through three years of conversations with the people who live and work in Queens that serving the interests of the communities surrounding Citi Field must be at the center of this project,” Cohen said in a statement. “Committing over $1 billion in benefits and transit improvement is critical to achieving a shared vision for the area we can all be proud of.”

According to a report from QNS, the community investment would feature a $10 million investment into a health clinic in East Elmhurst. A similar amount would be designated for a youth and senior center in Corona. As well, the plan calls for $5 million to be spent on an addiction and mental health counseling center that would be located in Flushing.

The plan is getting the backing of both the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens.

“We’re taking input from everybody and looking for great ideas,” Cohen told Bloomberg News.

Cohen Promising Much More Than A Casino

Currently, the area upon which Cohen and his casino business partner, Florida-based Hard Rock International, the gaming partner of the Seminole Tribe, hope to build their casino is designated as parkland. It would be necessary for that designation to be removed in order for the area to be used for some other entity, such as a casino.

In reality, the land is nothing more than a parking area for Citi Field. However, Cohen’s desire to turn this parking lot into a casino paradise is facing significant opposition from the locals.

Steve Cohen. Wikipedia photo by JetSetJeri2.

Recognizing that solely looking to build a casino wasn’t going to sit well with local residents, Cohen is seeking to present a vision of upgrades to the area that would prove beneficial to residents who don’t want to be spending any time inside a casino.

These options include developing new parks and creating open green spaces for public use. Cohen also wants to see improvements made to local public transportation. He’d like to be able to create better access to the area waterfront by enhancing the availability of walking and cycling paths.

They are also promising the creation of more than 15,000 jobs in the area. “With competitive salaries and benefits and life-long careers,” Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen told

Addabbo A Backer Of Resorts World

Queen’s State Senator Joseph Addabbo, chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, is a key mover and shaker in the betting industry for the Empire State. He was a major driver in the legalization of online sports betting in the state.

However, he hasn’t been able to push the legalization of online casinos in the state, and the awarding of three licenses in the New York City area for new retail casinos is also proving to be a slow-moving project. However, there are still online options available to New York bettors such as Bookmaker USA.

Addabbo is said to favor further development of the current Queen’s retail casino, Resorts World New York City. He doesn’t represent the area upon which the Citi Field location is situated. That would be State Senator Jessica Ramos, a Democrat who isn’t viewed as being as pro casino as Addabbo. She’s stated in the past that she’s not in favor of the removal of the parkland designation from the area Cohen is seeking to develop.

Cohen’s group is among 11 different casino entities chasing the three available licenses. In October, questions from the public were submitted to the Gaming Facility Location Board. That group is controlled by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC). They have yet to publicly reveal the answers to those questions from the casino bidding groups.

From the Cohen/Hard Rock group’s point of view, the delay must be of some relief. It’s giving them time to get the parkland designation changed on the land they wish to develop for their casino site. Bally’s in the Bronx is in need of a similar change to move their bid forward.

At this stage, it appears that whichever of the bidders for the three available New York retail casino licenses are ultimately successful, their reward will be coming later rather than sooner. Industry insiders are already speculating that the process will be extended into 2025 before everything is settled.

Fueling this speculation is the fact that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2024 budget doesn’t include the potential revenue that the state would be receiving from the licensing fees the winning bidders would be paying to the state. And that budget runs through the end of March 2025, so even the finalizations of casino plans by the end of the first quarter of next year seems unlikely.

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