Queens Museum Hosts Panel on Night Markets

By Charlie Finnerty | [email protected]


Photo credit to Cindy Trinh

The Queens Museum hosted panelists from the Queens Night Market, Think!Chinatown, Citizens Bank and Epicenter-NYC the evening of Nov. 9 to discuss a recent study on the impact of local night markets in the economy of surrounding communities. 

According to the study, the top reasons businesses said they participated in the night markets were to launch a new business, seek community and share family recipes or culture. The study also found that 77 percent of customers said they would like to continue to shop with the night market vendors outside of the market and 62 percent of newly-established Queens Night Market businesses were already making plans to expand their footprint. Nearly half of night market businesses surveyed said they always tried to hire staff from their neighborhoods and communities they serve. 84 percent of customers surveyed also said that the night markets were the first setting where they made purchases from the specific vendors that drew them there.

John Wang, founder of Queens Night Market, and Amy Chin, board member at Think!Chinatown, spoke alongside Citizen Bank’s business banking sales head, Mike MacIntyre, about the unique ability of night markets to launch community-based food businesses on a smaller scale with less overhead cost to vendors. 

During the panel, the group discussed the unique ability of hyper-local venues like the night markets and community-level banks like Citizen to provide bespoke and individualized solutions to business owners issues, rather than trying to apply broad mandates to solve wide-scale problems that might not always be one-size-fits-all. The smaller scale, they said, also requires less overhead of emerging entrepreneurs. 

One key measure highlighted on the panel was Citizen subsidizing vendor fees, effectively cutting them in half in order to maintain Queens Night Market signature low price point for customers even as inflation adds more overhead cost for businesses.

“Affordability is foundational,” Wang said.

The event also included a vendor panel discussion in which Roseangela Arnold of Brazilicious, Wanda Chiu of Hong Kong Street Food, Hana Saber Tehra of Persian Eats NYC, Lenin Costas of Don Ceviche and Joey Batista of Joey Bats Cafe spoke about their experience as part of the night markets. According to Wang, nearly 400 businesses have seen their first transaction at the Queens Night Market, making it an overwhelming success as a breeding ground for local businesses.

In the study survey, vendors and customers both overwhelmingly said the night markets were important not only for commercial dining opportunities, but also the engagement and preservation of the cultures and cuisines involved.

“Celebrating diversity is one of the chief goals of the Queens Night Market,” Wang said in a statement before the event. “We want to make sure what you’re selling is something that you grew up eating, and has personal significance to you, your family, and your cultural heritage. So far, we’ve represented about 95 countries through our vendors and their food at the Queens Night Market.”

Chin drew attention to the aftermath of Covid leaving its mark on Asian food businesses in the form of market xenophobia, an outgrowth of the spikes in anti-Asian sentiment that emerged in the earliest days of the pandemic. She said that events like the night markets are crucial to bridge cultural gaps and expose broader consumer markets to the vast array of dishes in Asian cuisine.

Looking to the future of Queens Night Market, Wang said his vision remains local. While many other states and over a dozen countries have reached out to him asking for help launching similar programming in their own cities, Wang said his focus is on integrating the Queens Night Market into the infrastructure of the borough with more permanent installations rather than setting up and tearing down the entire market each week it’s put on.

“Queens Night Market was a love letter to New York City,” he said.

Feds raid home of mayor’s top fundraiser

Credit Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

By Matthew Fischetti, Oona Milliken, Charlie Finnerty and Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]

The Crown-Heights home of Brianna Suggs, a 25-year old fund-raiser for Mayor Eric Adams’ mayoral run, was raided on Thursday Nov. 2. Suggs, who was 23 when she took on the task of running the mayor’s fundraising campaign, has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but FBI agents removed three iPhones, two laptops, alongside other materials such as binders, papers and a manila folder labeled “Eric Adams,” according to reporting by the New York Times.

The sweep is part of a broader probe by the FBI squad into public corruption under Mayor Adams helm. The federal government is investigating whether or not Adams has worked with the north Brooklyn construction company KSK Construction to inject foreign funds from Turkey to his mayoral campaign using straw donors. Various contributors who listed the construction company as their employer gave nearly $14,000 to Adams during his campaign. Construction company employees told THE CITY that they did not donate to Eric Adams or refused to state whether they had ever donated.

Though Suggs was young and inexperienced when she took her position as the mayor’s fundraising manager in 2021, the campaign raised more than $18 million for the campaign under her helm. She has worked with the mayor since 2018 during his days as Brooklyn Borough President, where she started as an intern whilst she was still enrolled as a student at Brooklyn College, according to her Linkedin profile. After rising through the ranks at Brooklyn Borough Hall, The Times reported that Suggs was making $80,000 at the end of her time in the office in 2021. 

Online news outlet The Messenger reported that NYPD officials were sent to conduct a “wellness check” prior to the FBI raid, which was noted as unusual behavior.

Though Adams is not directly implicated in the investigation, this is the second time this year that straw donor allegations have surfaced in conjunction with his 2021 mayoral run. Six people were charged on July 7, 2023 with allocating public funds to the mayoral campaign, according to reporting by the Associated Press. The Suggs raid gives new weight to charges of public corruption under Eric Adams watch due to the influence of foreign funds from Turkey. 

The news has already stirred 2025 speculation. Evan Roth Smith, from political consulting firm Slingshot Strategies, tweeted that “2025 starts today” and the New York Times has reported that there is potential interest in Broooklyn State Senator Zellnor Myrie while Politico reported that Queens State Senator Jessica Ramos was calling potential supporters.


*Turkish influence* 

The influence of money from the Turkish government and possibility of conspiracy with foreign agents adds a level of seriousness to the allegations. The warrant for the raid on Suggs’ residence included “records of travel to Turkey by any employee, officer or associate of the campaign; and documents related to interactions between the campaign and the government of Turkey.”

Adams has a long history with the country. Just days before the raid, he attended a Turkish flag raising ceremony in Manhattan where he boasted his frequent travels to the middle eastern country, saying, “I’m probably the only mayor in the history of this city that has not only visited Turkey once, but I think I’m on my sixth or seventh visit to Turkey.”

The earliest record of these trips was in August 2015, when Adams flew to Istanbul as Brooklyn borough president to visit a Syrian refugee camp and establish a sister-city relationship between Brooklyn and Istanbul’s Üsküdar district. According to Conflict of Interest Board disclosures, the trip was paid for by Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University, Turkish Airlines, the “Turkish Culture and Promotion Office in New York,” and several Turkish government offices, totaling at least $15,000. Adams was presented with an “honorary faculty” by Bahcesehir University and a scholarship was created in his name.

In December of that same year, Adams returned to the country for another $14,000 trip paid for by the World Tourism Organization and Association of Young Tourism Leaders, both of which have ties to the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, according to THE CITY. During the December trip, Adams spent time in the coastal city of Antalya where he met with Semsettin Aydin, the owner of a Turkish construction company, Baysas Construction. 

According to a report at the time from Turkish media outlet Kadınca Emlak, Adams told Aydin he wanted to connect Aydin’s company to Brooklyn’s construction industry, saying, “I would like to host you in my country at the first opportunity you get,” Adams was reported as saying.

During the December 2015 trip, Adams also met with Enver Yücel, the president of BAU Global, the organization that founded both Bahcesehir University and Bay Atlantic University, in Washington D.C. Adams’ 2021 campaign received $10,000 from Bay Atlantic University staff, including the university’s president, Sinem Vatanartiran. These donations were returned before the election and later scrutinized by the Campaign Finance Board, but the Adams’ campaign was unresponsive to that scrutiny, according to The City.

Adams returned again to Istanbul in 2017 where he was interviewed by Turkey’s Daily Sabah. In the interview, Adams said that was his fifth visit to the country and mentioned plans to purchase a home there. He also expressed a desire to establish a Turkish trade center in Brooklyn.

“We want the business community here in Turkey to see the business opportunities in Brooklyn and vice versa particularly in housing development,” Adams said in the interview. “Brooklyn, where the Turkish community has small businesses, is a place where you can expand businesses.”

Back in New York, Adams has enjoyed loyal support from the city’s Turkish-American communities, including several fundraising events hosted by Turkish-American business owners between 2018 and 2021, according to several reports from CNN and NYCITY News Service. According to NY Magazine, a 2017 Turkish rom-com movie shot in New York City, New York Masalı, features Adams seemingly playing himself as borough president who two Turkish-American men approach to ask for political favors. Adams says he cannot understand them but says, “Brooklyn loves Turkey.”

Turkey has attracted criticism for human rights abuses and widespread corruption in recent years under president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who rose to power in 2014. In the time since Erdoğan’s ascension, the country has fallen in Transparency International’s corruption index, ranking 101 out of the 180 countries scored in 2022. 

Meanwhile, crackdowns on free press, free speech and protests through rampant police violence have become the norm in Turkey under Erdoğan, according to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. The European Court of Human Rights found Turkey liable for political suppression due to its attempts to close one of the country’s major opposition parties and ban over 400 of its representatives from government. These concerns have been in the international spotlight as the European Union considers admitting Turkey as a member nation.

Adams praised Erdoğan’s wife, First Lady Emine Erdoğan of Turkey, at a United Nations climate event.

“We have two mothers. One gave birth to us and the other sustained (us), and what the first lady is doing is stating it clearly,” Adams said, according to Turkish news outlet Anadolu Agency. “I thank you for your vision, for your wisdom and understanding that we have an obligation to sustain the life of the mother.”


*Dubious Practices* 

Adams has been known to test the boundaries of campaign finance regulations without ever crossing the line into formal wrongdoing. 

A New York Times review in 2021 highlighted Adams’s use of his nonprofit, One Brooklyn Fund Inc, to functionally sidestep limitations on donations: the organization enjoyed an influx of millions of dollars from supporters, some of whom had business before the city and would have been limited to giving only $400 per election cycle the straightforward way. In addition to directing resources towards charitable causes, One Brooklyn used funds to distribute promotional material about Adams, host extravagant fundraising events and bestow awards on constituent businesses (some of whom later contributed to Adams’s mayoral run, according to Politico). During a 2015 visit to Turkey as borough president, Adams stated in a press release that the trip “underscore[d] the deep importance of our own Turkish community and their contributions to our One Brooklyn family.” 

There have been a slew of cases throughout the mayor’s career where he accepted funds raised by constituents on the city’s doing-business list right around the time they were seeking a particular outcome from his office. One of many examples is the case of Slate Property Group, as covered in a 2021 New York Times analysis: during Adams’s 2021 mayoral run, David Schwartz, a real estate developer and cofounder of Slate, organized a fundraiser that yielded $20,000 for Adams, according to the New York Times article. Weeks before, Slate Property Group had filed a land use application to build a new 40-story building in downtown Brooklyn, which would require a zoning change. Adams gave his approval to the rezoning efforts months later, against the wishes of the local community board, without disclosing any financial ties to Schwartz. More recently, Adams was grazed by a case of corruption from within his administration. Eric Ulrich, a former senior advisor to the mayor and head of the buildings department, currently faces charges of bribery. Among the list of wrongdoings, Ulrich is accused of accepting a discounted apartment from a developer with business before the city, and accepting cash in exchange for favors such as a second shot at a health inspection for a restaurant, exclusive contracts and job offers to family. 

In the beginning of his mayoralty, Adams’s decision to appoint Philip Banks to the position of Deputy Mayor of Public Safety despite being an unindicted co-conspirator in a wide-ranging NYPD corruption case was highly criticized.

Mayor Adams has denied knowledge of any wrongdoing and said he would comply with investigations when asked about it during a PIX 11 interview.

“Well, first of all, where there’s smoke there’s not always fire. Listen, I make sure that we have real compliance. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure that it’s done correctly, and we are going to comply with any agency, that review, whatever we do,” he said.

“And if anyone did something that’s appropriate outside of our compliance procedures, the law enforcement agencies will determine that. This is new and evolving, and we’re going to comply 100 percent. I have not been contacted by any law enforcement agency, and no law enforcement agency has determined that anyone associated with our campaign did anything wrong.”

Rat Day of Action Bolsters Ridgewood’s War on Rodents

By Charlie Finnerty | [email protected] Ridgewood community members, business owners and city service workers from various city agencies held an event Oct. 26 to provide information and instructions on best practices to control the neighborhood’s rat population and educate about the city’s anti-rodent initiatives under the Adams administration. City employees demonstrated rat baiting methods and green space management techniques to prevent burrows from forming. The Horticultural Society of New York educated residents and community gardeners on which crops attract and repel rats.

The NYC Rat Czar speaks in Ridgewood. Credit: Charlie Finnerty

Rat Czar Kathleen Corradi, who oversees and coordinates the city’s cross-agency rat control efforts in her newly-created position, said local-level involvement is crucial to ensure the city’s aggressive new approach to rat management is successful. “They are hand in glove to me. We’re changing policies at the top level with the goal to take away rats’ access to food, water and shelter, but the acute response in these community partnerships are of the same importance to me because this is the impact New Yorkers are feeling. Building that trust with community, to me, is paramount” Corradi said. “We want to meet people where they live to make sure we’re doing that direct engagement.” Ricky Simeone, Director of Pest Control for the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, said he is hopeful that the Adams administration’s approach to pest control can make a serious difference in the city’s long history of rampant rat populations. Simeone said the city’s requirement that trash be placed in sealed containers starting next year, rather than left on the sidewalk in bags, will be a critical step to eliminate rat access to food scraps and other waste. The same requirements will soon follow for residential properties as well. “This administration gets it because its number one concern is to address the garbage and the plastic bags out on the street,” Simeone said. Caroline Bragdon, Director of Neighborhood Interventions for the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, said the Health Department has a dual role of not only enforcing health codes but also educating property owners on how to meet their requirements. Bragdon and Corradi both said mitigation starts with waste management and caring for green spaces where rodents can create burrows and nests. “What we say at the health department is everyone has a role in pest control,” Bragdon said. “We’re here to show property owners the best and safest things you can do to keep rats off your property. We don’t want people to use a lot of harmful chemicals or pesticides. We want people to take proactive steps to prevent rats.” Bragdon pointed to the city’s rat academy, a free training for property, business owners and community gardeners offered online and in person, and the rat information portal website at nyc.gov/rats as examples of resources offered by the city to educate and inform residents on mitigation strategies. “We want communities to be engaged, to be involved, to visit our website and to come to our trainings to help us find a rat-free Queens and a rat-free New York,” Bragdon said. Executive Director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District Theodore Renz, said his organization was ecstatic to work with the various city agencies to combat rat issues in Ridgewood. Renz has been working with the city since the summer to strategize Ridgewood’s rat mitigation efforts. “Right now we are exploring possible locations off-site where we can set our bins to get rid of our bags,” Renz said. “We will still have the problem of illegal dumping, but we’re on board to strategize and come up with a reasonable comprehensive plan that’s fair to all stakeholders.”

Congresswoman AOC celebrates Halloween and connects with constituents at Queens Night Market

Credit: Charlie Finnerty

By Charlie Finnerty and Celia Bernhardt
[email protected]

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined Halloween festivities at the Queens Night Market in Corona Park Saturday Oct. 28. The congresswoman was a judge in the event’s costume contests, met dozens of community members and sampled food from vendors. After three weeks of chaos in congress following the Republican ousting of Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, Ocasio-Cortez said she was glad to be back in the district connecting with constituents.

“You’ve got to be where the people are,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “To be able to be back in the community after being stuck in DC for a while, I just want to kiss the ground when I land at LaGuardia. It’s really great to be able to be here, bring folks together and just be a person, hang out, be with our neighbors.”

The Night Market was rained out the preceding four weekends, but visitors enjoyed a bout of good weather on Saturday night — just in time for the Halloween-themed finale to the Market’s season. Competitors in the costume contest vied for prizes including a football signed by Eli Manning, tickets to Forest Hills Stadium events and round trip Delta Airlines flights. After the contest concluded, scores of attendees lined up to greet Ocasio-Cortez.

Events like the Night Market provide crucial opportunities to meet with constituents in a casual setting and have open dialogue about community needs to break away from the broadly accepted policy prescriptions of the Hill, Ocasio-Cortez said.

“There’s often such a huge disparity between Washington consensus and everyday people,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Being back on the ground — having these conversations with folks and actually hearing from our community what their thoughts and perspectives are — it’s super grounding and helps me give me a lot of confidence in being able to advocate for our community in Washington.”

The congresswoman said the recent violence in Israel and Palestine highlighted the especially rigid approach to US foreign policy in DC. An attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 killed over 1,400 Israeli civilians and ongoing mass bombing of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force which has killed over 8,000 Palestinians. Ocasio-Cortez, alongside fellow Queens representative Nydia Velasquez, is one of 18 members of congress who have called for a ceasefire. She said constituents she spoke with at the Night Market expressed gratitude for her stance on the issue.

“Usually in Washington there’s a very strong foreign policy consensus, it’s very uniform and we never hear anything outside of that. For a very long time, you couldn’t even say the word ‘Palestine’ in Washington. People were just thankful in a borough with the diversity that we have, that we can hold space for the humanity of Israelis and Palestinans,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We can do both, we can fight for everybody. This is a borough that can be safe for every single community and can advocate and protect the rights of every single community.”

Asked about the current influx of asylum seekers to New York City and Queens, Ocasio-Cortez called for a measured and humanitarian response and highlighted the city’s history as a global hub for migration. The city has welcomed over 100,000 asylum seekers in the last year, a noticeable rise from recent years but a number that pales in comparison to 20th century peaks in immigration when some years saw over a million new immigrants enter the country through the city.

“There are of course logistical and resource constraints that accompany any migratory or refugee situation the way we have now, but they will not break our city. However, the rhetoric surrounding these migrants often makes the situation worse and can be inflammatory,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We don’t need to approach this with a deficit-based point of view. This is what our city has always been built on. We have dealt with waves of migration that were far larger than this before, the actual challenge has been that it was much easier to get a job and it was much easier to get documented. That’s really the path that we should look towards now. We have to make sure that we can make this logistically as easy as possible so that people aren’t stuck in these systems.”

Ocasio-Cortez said the values and strength of Queens’ communities inspires her work in congress as she heads back to DC this week.

“Our community is important,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “If we can make this work in Queens, we can make it work anywhere in the country. I’ve always felt that way and that’s why I’m so proud to represent this borough.”

Discovery Mental Health Offers Resources for People in the Immigration Process

By Charlie Finnerty

[email protected]

Denise Valentin started Discovery Mental Health in Bushwick in 2018 after seeing a need for women and families seeking mental health and social evaluations as part of the immigration process at an affordable price. These evaluations are used as part of an immigration application to demonstrate an applicant would suffer damages or harm above and beyond the average person if they were unable to stay in the country and verify their stories. After going remote in the height of the pandemic, Valentin and Discovery Mental Health reopened in a new location on the edge of Ridgewood and Middle Village this past May.

“They’ve gone through so much to get here. Their dream is to come here, to have their family here. To be a good contribution to this country,” Valentin said.

Valentin said her goal is to provide a more long-term approach to mental healthcare for these patients going through the immigration process in contrast to an industry that conventionally prioritizes processing cases as quickly as possible.

“They would have this big story that they would share and then it would be like, ‘Alright, thanks, go home,’ and there wouldn’t be any followup,” Valentin said. “You just opened up your heart, what happens next? Do you need connections to services? Do you need food for your family? Let’s connect you to another place.”

On the wall behind Valentin as she speaks is a piece of artwork that reads “There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life, or you’re the one that will change theirs.” The sign hung in the original office and Valentin says it has been a point of inspiration since the early days of the practice.

“That’s the philosophy that I have and that we have,” Valentin said. “It’s inextricably connected. The work that I do with my patient, they change me. They do things for me. I learn about the universe, I learn about myself, I learn about where I’m lacking and I’m hopeful that in that exchange, that they are also learning. So my clinicians, they hold that and they work with that.”

Valentin said the strength of the center comes from the diversity of its staff being able to offer a clinician who each patient can feel comfortable with.

“We have a priest who is also a licensed therapist and he works with families, we have a lot of women and people of color, we have people that are from the LGBTQ community. We are so open and wanting to serve and we welcome everybody in. For me, that’s what makes it special, that’s what makes it beautiful.,” Valentin said. “You may want to connect with someone who looks like you, who sounds like, who is even maybe from your age.”

Members of Discovery Mental Health Staff. Denise Valentine, Kevin Salloon, Eunice Santiago and Maggie Rodriguez

Discovery’s role as a bilingual counseling center plays a key role in the immigration process as clients are able to convey their story in their own words without the obstacles of trying to translate to an English-speaking lawyer.

“I have so many people that come here and tell me their story and we submit it and the lawyer goes, ‘I’m sorry, what happened to this person? They did not tell me that.’ And I say yeah they couldn’t express that to you or maybe they didn’t feel comfortable,” Valentin said. “The language opens up people’s hearts, being able to connect.”

Cultural barriers can also add additional burdens for clients trying to seek help, according to Valentin, where mental health is often stigmatized particularly in older generations in the Latino community. Most client referrals at Discovery come from immigration lawyers and recommendations from previous clients.

“What I love about the practice is that a lot of the people that we see refer each other, they help each other,” Valentin said. “They send each other and I love that about the practice. That they feel like they were not just another number, but they were seen as a full human being.”

Given the nature of working with clients navigating the difficulties and often unpredictable nature of immigrating, Valentin said the extra care and sustained attention her clinicians give to clients can be crucial.

“My clinicians will call patients, ‘Where are you? What’s going on?’ Or they’ll call me to say they can’t find someone and we’ll say ‘Alright let’s find them, let’s see what’s going on,’” Valentin said.

The current staff at Discovery consists of 17 clinicians and seven interns, in addition to Valentin. Valentin said she keeps clinicians at the center to 35 clients or less in contrast to other facilities that may have up to 100 clients or more for some clinicians. This ensures that the work is manageable for her staff and the quality of care offered remains individualized to each person that walks through the door, Valentin said.

“At 100 people — even if I wanted to care for them the way I would like to — you can’t. So my rule is once you hit 35, you don’t get anybody else, that’s it,” Valentin said. “Having a slow pace allows us to take our time with patients. Even if we got full, I believe in my heart that even if everybody had a full caseload, because it’s not 100 people for each person, that we could still maintain the same vibe in the facility.”

Eunice Santiago is one of the longest-serving clinicians at Discovery. Santiago said after working in clinical settings in hospitals under corporate leadership, Valentin’s emphasis on a small and intimate space makes Discovery a special clinic.

“When we come here to work with her, it’s a pleasure because she really does care for us. She really cares for our family, she really cares for the environment. She does the best to make sure that we’re okay and our mental health is okay and we’re not burnt out so we’re able to provide our services to the community,” Santiago said. “She’s really with the community and that’s what I like about her.”

Maggie Rodriguez handles much of the administrative and marketing side of Discovery. Rodriguez has worked in several clinics in the US and Canada but said that Valentin has created a truly special environment.

“She is what you see, that is who she is with everybody. I think the clients immediately when they encounter her, they feel like, ‘Okay, you know what, things are bad but they’re not that bad. These people are going to hold us,’” Rodriguez said. “She’s like light.”

Sewer Project Leaves Maspeth Residents with Flooding Sidewalks, City Offers Repairs

Credit: Charlie Finnerty

By Charlie Finnerty | [email protected]


A $101 million Department of Design and Construction (DDC) project to overhaul Maspeth’s sewer and water infrastructure along 70th Street and prevent flooding is in its tenth year. As the DDC continues to renew the area’s sewers, some residents have raised concerns about water pooling during rainstorms after the construction in their area replaced sections of sidewalk.

Maspeth resident Ann McGee said her biggest worry is the risk of residents falling when the pools freeze over in the winter. 

“It’s the whole side of my block, every house is puddling,“ McGee said. “It’s so bad.”

McGee, who lives on 70th street between 52nd Drive and 53rd Avenue said she has been contacting various city offices for almost two years trying to get the DDC to repave the sidewalks on her street.

Ben Geremia, a constituent services officer for District 30 Councilmember Bob Holden said that when DDC construction impacts existing sidewalks, as much of the original pavement is kept intact to conserve concrete. This often results in uneven surfaces where old existing walkways meet the newly patched sections, creating water pools and tripping hazards. 

“In every case where there is a problem — if not all of them, then 95% of them — occur where they left old sidewalk and poured new sidewalk next to it,” Geremia said. “That is where the puddles occur and these puddles are large. I know they’re all concerned now because winter is coming and they’re worried about having an ice rink in front of their house.”

According to Geremia, certain pools on McGee’s street can be up to eight feet long. The risks of these iced over water pools are not just dangerous for residents themselves, but could also potentially make homeowners liable for lawsuits if pedestrians fall and hurt themselves in front of their house, according to both McGee and Geremia.

This week, McGee and her neighbors were able to secure a victory with the DDC. DDC Executive Director of Public Information Ian Michaels said project engineers agreed that sections of sidewalk on McGee’s block were incorrectly installed and will redo the sidewalks before winter.

Queens DA Race Profile: Michael Mossa

By Charlie Finnerty | [email protected]


Howard Beach resident and 20-year criminal attorney, Michael Mossa, is challenging incumbent Melinda Katz to become Queens’ District Attorney. With endorsements from both the Republican and Conservative parties of Queens County, Mossa is up against difficult odds, aiming to become the first Republican elected to the office in over 100 years while facing a popular Democratic District Attorney who herself only narrowly defeated firebrand progressive Tiffany Cabán in her 2019 primary. Mossa said he hopes to win over moderate Democrats to push him towards a successful campaign. The close vote tallies in Queens for the recent Governor and Attorney General elections suggest he may have a shot.

“People are so angry, especially in these neighborhoods with a higher Republican concentration of voters,” Mossa said. “Even if it’s 25% or 30%, that’s high in the city and the Democrats there are more likely to be conservative.”

In her June primary this year, Katz won 71%, or 37,762 votes, defeating retired judge and NYPD deputy commissioner George Grasso to her right, and progressive defense lawyer Devian Daniels to her left, who received roughly 14% of the vote each. As Queens voters — particularly in the western parts of the borough — become more progressive, Katz has staked out a brand as a moderating voice in local Democratic politics, implementing some criminal justice reforms but maintaining her mainstream appeal, bolstered by an endorsement from Mayor Eric Adams. Mossa wants to redefine that image to convince voters that Katz’s leadership is too far to the left of Queens communities.

Mossa — who previously ran for city council in Howard Beach and Rockaway in 2003 and lost to current New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo  — said he would like to see the District Attorney’s office pursue shoplifting crimes with the same fervor they prosecute domestic abuse cases with, the one area where Mossa said he feels Katz’ office is strong.

“They do a very good job in that office handling domestic violence, their top prosecutors are on it. It is important, primarily it does protect women, but they have it because it’s politically safe for them,” Mossa said. “ Why don’t they prosecute shoplifting? Because it’s not politically safe. I will deal with shoplifting in only three ways: Prosecute, prosecute, and prosecute. If you’re gonna steal, you’re gonna go to jail.”

This year, Katz has pursued initiatives herself to tackle shoplifting. Most notably, a partnership with the NYPD and local businesses to issue trespassing notices to individuals reported by business owners, along with an arrest warning if they return, is being rolled out across the borough and has recieved praise.

Mossa, who has legal experience in landlord-tenant litigation and criminal court, said he is concerned with the direction the city’s politics are changing with leftward momentum to empower tenants at the cost of landlords, allow low-level crimes like shoplifting to go unpunished and reform the criminal justice system. These broad political movements, Mossa said, are responsible for an environment more conducive to crime and repeat offenders.

“This is a DA who’s concerned about criminalizing poverty,” Mossa said. “That’s why they allow shoplifting. That’s where bail reform came from. That’s their slogan and they did a lot of damage to every major city in this country including ours. And I mean the radical left that controls the Democratic Party in the cities.”

Mossa also strongly opposed the city’s plan to close Rikers Island.

“Jail isn’t supposed to be pleasant,” Mossa said. “I’m not one to say ‘Oh a prisoner got beaten up, he got what he deserved.’ No, he deserved to be in jail, he doesn’t deserve to be beaten up by another inmate.”

Electeds, Union, Housing Advocates Rally for LLC Transparency Act

By Charlie Finnerty | [email protected]

A Carpenters Union member holds a sign at the rally // Credit: Charlie Finnerty

Elected officials, union leaders, housing advocates and government watchdog groups held a rally Sept. 27 on “Billionaires’ Row” in Midtown Manhattan urging Governor Hochul to sign the LLC Transparency Act. The bill, passed by the state assembly and senate in June, would require limited liability companies to publicly disclose their ownership.

Bill co-authors, Greenpoint Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher and Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, were joined by United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Area Standards Manager Michael Piccirillo, Executive Director of Reinvent Albany John Kaehny and several other elected officials from across the city delivering speeches below 111 W 57th street, one of the luxury condominium buildings that have populated the area in recent years and the site of an ongoing labor dispute involving an LLC-owned construction company.

Assemblymember Gallagher speaks at the rally // Credit: Charlie Finnerty

“Governor Hochul came into office promising a new era of transparency. This is her opportunity,” Gallagher said in her speech. “We need her to sign this bill, and shine a light on corruption.”

The bill has been championed by a broad coalition as a crucial tool to hold bad actors accountable, from landlords and employers to drug traffickers and money launderers, who are able to conceal their identities behind LLCs. The legislation would be the first of its kind nationwide. A federal law, the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019, requiring LLCs to disclose beneficial ownership to a closed government database goes into effect next year, but does not go as far as Gallagher and Hoylman-Sigal’s state bill which makes that information publicly available.

According to a recent study by Reinvent Albany, 37% of Manhattan’s real estate ownership is hidden behind LLC shell companies, allowing their ownership to remain unknown to tenants and workers.

“Anonymous LLCs are everywhere. They might be your landlord, your employer, your neighbor” Hoylman-Sigal said in his speech. “We’re sending a warning signal today to shady employers, wage thieves, foreign oligarchs and bad landlords, that their days of anonymity are numbered.”

Speaking in support of similar legislation on the federal level in March, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said LLC secrecy makes the United States potentially the best place to hide and launder ill-gotten gains. In her speech at the rally, State Senator Liz Krueger, whose East Side Manhattan constituency includes Billionaires’ Row, spoke about the influence of LLC property ownership in her district.

“I know for a fact that a huge number of the individual apartments bought in the buildings built right here in my district are also purchased through secretive LLCs,” Krueger said in her speech.

LLCs allow luxury real estate to be a tool of money laundering, allowing dirty money that would otherwise be rejected at American banks to be held in multi-million dollar properties in the heart of Manhattan, according to Krueger.

Los Sures Lucha demonstrators look on as Senator Krueger speaks at the rally // Credit: Charlie Finnerty

“They use real estate and apartments in Manhattan as their banks for the money that can’t come into this country legally. They’re oligarchs, they’re terrorist funders, they’re people who have committed violations of our laws in other countries,” Kruger said in her speech. “This whole system is ridiculous and it’s damaging real people everyday in our city. Governor Hochul, we’re begging you to sign this bill.”

The same LLC disclosure loopholes that allow buyers to purchase property on Billionaires’ Row anonymously are also at the center of a 2018 labor dispute at 111 W 57th Street, in which former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. alleged Parkside Construction stole over $1.7 million in wages during the construction of the luxury apartment building and hid nearly $42 million in wages from insurance officials to avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums.

“Thousands of citizens walk by this building every day, 111 W 57th Street. When they look they just see another luxury tower over here on Billionaires’ Row, but to many of us people in the know, that’s actually a crime scene,” Piccirillo said. “Parkside cheated 520 employees out of hours worked on this development site and retaliated against workers with termination if they complained. The majority of these employees were undocumented immigrants, particularly vulnerable to threats.”

According to Piccirillo, Parkside Construction used LLC shell companies to conceal their liability. In 2021, Parkside Construction was ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution to the state insurance fund as part of a plea deal but received no jail time and were not required to pay any restitution to workers.

“It’s like an onion, they’re in layers. It’s hard to peel the onion and get to all those layers they’re hiding behind in LLCs,” Piccirillo said. “All we want to know is who owns the LLC.”

A contract worker watches the rally from inside the 111 West 57th St condominium tower // Credit: Charlie Finnerty

The bill has been publicly supported by New York’s highest criminal justice officials, with Attorney General of New York Letitia James, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli upholding LLC disclosure as a necessary tool to pursue white collar crime, wage theft, landlord abuse and money laundering.

“Right now there exists a secretive system of LLCs that doesn’t require the individuals that benefit from LLCs to report themselves to the state. This allows wealthy bad actors from across the globe, foreign and domestic, to engage in hard-to-track money laundering, financial and tax fraud, and terrorism finance in the United States of America with little fear of detection,” Bragg wrote in a letter read by Hoylman-Sigal. “This behavior damages our shared concept of equal justice, destroys our city’s housing market and can threaten our national security.”

Gallagher said she is optimistic the governor will be responsive to the bill’s broad support from government officials in the state.

“I believe that hearing from these top enforcers in our state will finish the persuasion,” Gallagher said. “I think [Hochul] will see that this is vital to so many people.”

Carpenters Union members hold signs at the rally // Credit: Charlie Finnerty

Brooklyn and Queens Flooded in the Midst of the Workday

By Oona Milliken, Matthew Fischetti and Charlie Finnerty | [email protected]

From Rockaway Beach to Gowanus to Elmhurst, residents of Queens and Brooklyn faced the brunt of last week’s flooding as roadways, homes, subway stations and airports filled with water Friday in what has now been recorded as the worst storm to hit the city since Hurricane Ida.

Trash as a result of the flooding in South Williamsburg. Photo credit: Oona Milliken

Communities worked together all afternoon to clear drains and save neighbors from rising floodwaters but as the outer boroughs return to dry warm weather this week, questions remain about Mayor Eric Adam’s ability to communicate and prepare New York City residents for the historic severe storm.

Water rose to more than three feet high on the corner of Wallabout Street and Harrison Avenue in South Williamsburg on Friday Sept. 29 as New Yorkers across the city dealt with a bout of extreme flooding that prompted a city-wide state of emergency. Anthony Calderon, a Queens-based resident who works at Top Quality Management, a management company on Wallabout St, said he was cleaning up the trash from his office that the water had swept away and spread out across the area. Calderon said when the intersection flooded, he was reminded of storms such as Hurricane Ida, when New York City was shut down under a Flash Flood Emergency for the first time in recorded history and 13 people perished due to the rains. 

“Hectic. A lot of rain. It’s just kept coming, kept coming. On Wallabout and Harrison, the flood was coming up here, to your knees at least,” Calderon said. “I was afraid, like ‘Not again, what is this flood?’ I remember a couple of years ago when the hurricanes came, all the subways flooded and Queen’s Boulevard…That’s how I felt, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Not again.’”

Mayor Eric Adams was slammed by critics for not giving proper notice of the flooding when his office knew of the dangers on Thursday evening and Governor Hochul had already issued a flash flooding warning for New York City earlier in the day. Adam’s office sent out an email alert at 11 p.m. on Thursday, but did not shut down schools and hosted a public briefing around noon on Friday, hours after the worst rainfall had subsided and the governor had already declared a state of emergency across the city. 

The New York City sewer system was originally designed to maintain 1.75 inches of rain per hour, but areas such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard were hit with 2.58 inches of rain per hour, as early as 8:00 to 9:00 a.m, according to the Mayor’s office.

“And so its no surprise, unfortunately, as a result, that that part of Brooklyn and a couple of other particularly (sic) part of Brooklyn have borne the brunt of this,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commish Rohit T. Aggarwala.

Right before noon, the mayor urged New Yorker’s to stay home or “shelter in place,” while many commuters were already at work. On the Wallabout St. and Harrison Ave intersection, Calderon said the flooding became so bad that community members stepped in and dealt with the problem on their own by removing a manhole cover and letting the storm water drain into the sewer systems. 

“People from the community thought of putting gates around, and I had to go do something, and when I came back I could just see a spiral [of water] going down right in the corner. It was amazing. I mean, you could see cars floating,” Calderon said. 

Community members gather around the open manhole drain. Photo credit: Oona Milliken

Sandy Spadavecchia was driving his car through the Wallabout and Harrison intersection when the water partially submerged his car, rising up inside and stalling his vehicle. Spadavecchia said he saw a couple of construction workers and Hasidic community members attempt to deal with the problem until someone finally pulled the manhole cover to drain the water. Spadaveccia said he was lucky his car stalled when it did because he could have driven right into the manhole as the water was running into the sewer system. 

“There was flooding and the car stalled out in the middle of going through it and that was it,” Spadavecchia said. “In some ways I was lucky because I stalled out three or four feet in front of that open manhole cover, I might have gone into that.” 

Spadaveccia said he felt the city could have prevented the piles of trash spread by floodwaters throughout the area had residents been told to keep trash inside during the storm. 

“In my personal opinion, they probably should have suspended trash pickup, because I did see a lot of trash bags that hadn’t been picked up clogging [the streets],” Spadaveccia said. “I mean, they knew this was coming so they probably should have told people to keep their trash in for the day.” 

Calderon and co-worker Peter Nieves, both at Top Quality Management, were mopping other stores on the street and picking up trash that had been spread during the floods Friday. When asked for a quote on the flooding, Nieves said he just wanted some help and maybe an alcoholic beverage.  

“Can I get a beer?” Nieves said.

Across Queens, where many residents are still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Ida, floodwaters closed roads, impacted public transport and filled basements. Cars were overrun with flooding on Grand Central Parkway and in Rosedale, with a number of drivers abandoning their vehicles altogether. Waters engulfed Rockaway Beach, where nearly every home is considered to be at risk of flooding, suspending Long Island Railroad service

As early as 6 a.m. Friday, travelers at LaGuardia Airport were experiencing inclement weather delays. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop for the afternoon across the airport, stopping all departing flights due to the flooding and weather in the area, canceling or delaying nearly 40% of all flights Friday. Terminal A, the oldest section of the airport, flooded with several inches of water and shut down 11 a.m. Friday until early Saturday morning. Videos captured travelers trudging through ankle-deep water at gates across the terminal. Ongoing renovations in Terminals B and C have included flood protections that have not yet been implemented in Terminal A.

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