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Leaving the county for another country

If you follow the Queens borough president on Facebook, you might have noticed that it was a busy week for Donovan Richards.
There was the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Laurelton, a visit to Rudy’s Bakery in Ridgewood for the Queens Shops Small series, the unveiling of a statue of Claire Shulman at Crystal Windows, a visit to PS 19 in Corona, extended COVID testing at Borough Hall, and a rally to urge Governor Kathy Hochul to put the proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia on the shelf.
Or rather, the people who work in the Borough President’s Office were busy, because the borough president himself spent the first week of October on a trip to Ukraine.
He was there to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar Massacre, in which 100,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II. The trip was paid for by the Assembly of Nationalities of Urkraine and facilitated by The Blue Card, the group who invited the guests.
The trip was kept hush-hush, with no mention that Richards would be leaving the country. His office has refused to comment on what expenses were covered for Richards.
The office did state that the official reason for the trip was to show solidarity with the Ukrainian and Jewish populations of Queens. Residents living in the borough who identify as Ukrainian American make up less than 1 percent of the population.
Technically, there is nothing illegal about Richards accepting a paid trip as long as there is ostensibly an official aspect to the visit. (See above paragraph.)
It just seems curious that his office wasn’t more forthcoming about the trip. You would think if the purpose of the trip was to show solidarity with the Ukrainian population in Queens, it might be nice if they knew about it.
Something seems a little off.
But don’t worry, if you live in Queens you were in good hands. The borough president’s purely ceremonial duties were in the capable hands of Franck Joseph, the borough president’s chief of staff, who stood in for Richards at all of the events we mentioned above.

Richards hosts vigil, launches donation drive for Haiti

Borough President Donovan Richards hosted a vigil in partnership with Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP) to honor the more than 2,000 people who died in a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation.
“From natural disasters to political turmoil, Haiti has been dealt blow after blow in recent years, but the resolve of the Haitian people and our Haitian American community is unmatched,” said Richards. “In the wake of this destructive earthquake, Queens stands ready to offer a helping hand to our Caribbean neighbors in their time of need.”
To assist in Haiti’s recovery, Richards launched a donation drive in support of the countless Haitian families impacted by the earthquake.
“As much as it saddens me to see Haiti go through yet another disaster in the midst of its existing challenges, I, along with my Haitian brothers and sisters, remain ever more committed to a better and stronger Haiti for generations to come,” said HAUP CEO and executive director Elsie Saint Louis. “My heartfelt gratitude to the friends and partners of the Haitian people who continue to reach out in so many big and small ways in support, empathy and collaboration.”
Until September 22, donations of bottled water, non-perishable food, personal care products, toiletries and feminine hygiene products can be dropped off at Borough Hall at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. The lobby is open 24 hours a day.
“I think the people of Haiti are not just resilient but we are strong, we are smart, we are determined,” said Saint Louis. “What we need is for you to stand by Haiti, this is not the time to give up on this country.”

BP holds vigil for Haiti, launches donation drive

Borough President Donovan Richards hosted a vigil in partnership with Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP) to honor the more than 2,000 people who died in a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation.
“From natural disasters to political turmoil, Haiti has been dealt blow after blow in recent years, but the resolve of the Haitian people and our Haitian American community is unmatched,” said Richards. “In the wake of this destructive earthquake, Queens stands ready to offer a helping hand to our Caribbean neighbors in their time of need.”
To assist in Haiti’s recovery, Richards launched a donation drive in support of the countless Haitian families impacted by the earthquake.
“As much as it saddens me to see Haiti go through yet another disaster in the midst of its existing challenges, I, along with my Haitian brothers and sisters, remain ever more committed to a better and stronger Haiti for generations to come,” said HAUP CEO and executive director Elsie Saint Louis. “My heartfelt gratitude to the friends and partners of the Haitian people who continue to reach out in so many big and small ways in support, empathy and collaboration.”
Until September 22, donations of bottled water, non-perishable food, personal care products, toiletries and feminine hygiene products can be dropped off at Borough Hall at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. The lobby is open 24 hours a day.
“I think the people of Haiti are not just resilient but we are strong, we are smart, we are determined,” said Saint Louis. “What we need is for you to stand by Haiti, this is not the time to give up on this country.”

Richards launches ‘Queens Shop Small’ program

Borough President Donovan Richards will be visiting a local small business every month as part of a new initiative to promote shopping locally.

“I want to keep supporting small businesses in underserved communities because a lot of times the aid that comes doesn’t always assist them,” said Richards.

For his first visit, Richards stopped by The Nourish Spot in Jamaica. Dawn Kelly opened The Nourish Spot in 2017, promoting healthy living with her smoothies, wraps, and salads.

“I would like his help in making sure that we could get more needed service for some of the people in the community that are down and out on their luck,” Kelly said of Richards. “There are quite a few people who need help with homelessness, mental issues, and drug addiction.

“There’s things happening around Queens like Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium that we would like to be a part of,” she added. “We want their help to be a part of that.”

Soon after taking office, Richards worked with the city and New York Mets to create the Queens Small Business Grant program to support businesses in areas hardest-hit by COVID-19. Over $14 million in no-strings-attached grant funding was distributed among 757 approved entities, 613 of which were minority owned.

During Richards’ visit, Kelly’s was busy filling online orders.

“Business is wonderful because during the pandemic every doctor and medical professional was telling people to eat a more balanced, healthy diet,” said Kelly. “We were doing okay at first, but we got a boom of business in 2020 and had to keep up with the demand.”

Before leaving, Richards presented Kelly with a citation recognizing and Kelly for her work supporting the local community, from hiring local young people to opening the shop as a true community space.

“Our small businesses are the livelihood of Queens,” said Richards. “Where can you get a taste of the world besides Queens?” To learn more visit https://www.restaurantji.com/ny/jamaica/the-nourish-spot-/

Richards launches ‘Queens Shop Small’ program

Borough President Donovan Richards will be visiting a local small business every month as part of a new initiative to promote shopping locally.

“I want to keep supporting small businesses in underserved communities because a lot of times the aid that comes doesn’t always assist them,” said Richards.

For his first visit, Richards stopped by The Nourish Spot in Jamaica. Dawn Kelly opened The Nourish Spot in 2017, promoting healthy living with her smoothies, wraps, and salads.

“I would like his help in making sure that we could get more needed service for some of the people in the community that are down and out on their luck,” Kelly said of Richards. “There are quite a few people who need help with homelessness, mental issues, and drug addiction.

“There’s things happening around Queens like Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium that we would like to be a part of,” she added. “We want their help to be a part of that.”

Soon after taking office, Richards worked with the city and New York Mets to create the Queens Small Business Grant program to support businesses in areas hardest-hit by COVID-19. Over $14 million in no-strings-attached grant funding was distributed among 757 approved entities, 613 of which were minority owned.

During Richards’ visit, Kelly’s was busy filling online orders.

“Business is wonderful because during the pandemic every doctor and medical professional was telling people to eat a more balanced, healthy diet,” said Kelly. “We were doing okay at first, but we got a boom of business in 2020 and had to keep up with the demand.”

Before leaving, Richards presented Kelly with a citation recognizing and Kelly for her work supporting the local community, from hiring local young people to opening the shop as a true community space.

“Our small businesses are the livelihood of Queens,” said Richards. “Where can you get a taste of the world besides Queens?”

To learn more visit https://www.restaurantji.com/ny/jamaica/the-nourish-spot-/

Sore winner

Dear Editor,
Donovan Richards’ crude tweet after his apparent primary election victory makes him a sore winner. By insulting opponent Elizabeth Crowley, he played the race card and dealt it from the bottom
of the deck.
Richards attacked Crowley partly because she opposes defunding the police, a measure that he supports. Like many woke warriors, he views public safety efforts as racist, even though most violent crime victims are people of color.
Richards owes an apology to Crowley and all Queens residents, even those who voted for him. We deserve a class act, not a crass act, in Borough Hall.
Sincerely,
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

Richards leaves little doubt about his feelings

Donovan Richards bested Elizabeth Crowley in the primary for Queens borough president…again. He defeated her last year in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Melinda Katz and held down by Sharon Lee during the pandemic.
This time the contest was very close, with the two separated by approximately 1,000 votes.
The hotly contested race appears to have left Richards with strong feelings about Crowley. Rather than just thank his supporters for re-electing him to the post, he put Crowley directly in the crosshairs on Twitter, accusing her of being racist and asking him for a job as deputy borough president, both of which Crowley denies.
As you can see from the tweet, Richards used some pretty strong language, which leads us to believe he doesn’t subscribe to the “wait 24 hours before you hit send” rule. Or maybe he does.
Either way, it looks like some strong feelings about this contest will continue to linger far into the future.

Adams pierced
Of course, there are other ways to celebrate winning a primary. If you’re Eric Adams, who edged out Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley to win the Democratic Primary for mayor, you get yourself a new accessory!
Fresh off his victory, Adams headed straight to Claire’s to get his ear pierced. While there is no evidence of it on Twitter, we can only assume that Adams followed that up with a mani-pedi, then a shopping spree, followed by a boozy brunch with the girls. Oh to be young and have the city at your feet!
Actually, the new earring in his left lobe was to fulfill a campaign promise to a group of young people he met while on the campaign trail with his son.
In order to prove that he isn’t just another smooth-talking politician who doesn’t keep his word, they challenged him to get his ear pierced if he won the primary, a challenge Adams accepted.
Following the piercing, Adams said “Already lived up to my first promise to that young man. So, if you see it on social media, young man, I told you I was going to do it and I just did what I promised.”
Now it’s on to tackling gun violence, the homeless crisis and the economic recovery of New York City post-pandemic. We suspect those solutions are going to be slightly more difficult than taking a trip to the mall.

Borough president race is tight and turbulent

While many races in Queens found winners on Primary Day last month, a number of competitions were too close to call after tallying first round votes.
Three weeks after the fact, ranked-choice and mail-in ballots have been counted, offering a clearer view of who won some of the more contested races in the borough.
The race for Queens Borough President was the highest profile race to go down to the wire. Current Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and ex-councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley had previously ran against each other in a special election for the position last year, and their rivalry escalated to new heights as ballots were counted this past week.
On primary day, Richards barely led with 41.7 percent of first choice votes while Crowley closely trailed with 40.4 percent. After all the ballots had been counted, Richards still led by a slim 50.3 to 49.7 percent margin.
The borough president declared victory at this point, but ruffled many feathers when he tweeted “We beat your racist a**,” implying that Crowley had previously said he only won because of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Crowley responded with her own statement: “I’m extremely disappointed by the slanderous and untruthful remarks made by one of my opponents. Politics and campaigning can be tough, and I understand that some may take legitimate policy disagreements personally on the trail. “However, I’ve always believed that leadership is about taking the high road and representing the people, not Trump-like bullying on Twitter and making unfounded accusations with no evidence whatsoever.”
Crowley is yet to concede from the race and is instead waiting for the Board of Elections to “cure” (a process by which voters can fix improperly completed ballots) votes.

Beep announces new Elmhurst Hospital funding

Borough President Donovan Richards last week announced two multi-million dollar allocations for new projects at Elmhurst Hospital. The event also served as a celebration of the borough’s healthcare workers who have spent over a year on the frontline fighting the pandemic.
“A year ago, Elmhurst Hospital was the epicenter of the epicenter of the world’s worst public health crisis in a century,” Richards said before a crowd of doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff. “The staff here at Elmhurst Hospital were working double and triple shifts to fight a virus we knew nothing about. They handled the unprecedented crisis with true grace and kindness.”
“The best thing you can do to support health and hospitals is to hire the best people and support the best people,” added Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals
The funding will be used to build a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Elmhurst Hospital. The facility will be the first of its kind in Queens and will serve children in need of immediate medical attention.
Additionally, the investment will support the conversion of two undersized operating rooms into full-service operating rooms.
“We have secured more than $5 million for projects at Elmhurst Hospital that will expand access to critical care for thousands of families,” Richards said.
He also stressed the need for a more centralized medical center for Queens.
“No family in Far Rockaway or Long Island City should have to travel more than 30 minutes by car or 90 minutes by public transportation to get the care that they need,” he said.
“Over the course of the last year we have been clapping for our healthcare heroes,” said Richards, “but one of the commitments I made when I was elected Borough President was that I would not simply clap for you but that we were gonna put our money where our mouth is.”
Richards also celebrated the over one-million people who have been vaccinated in Queens, a figure that leads all other counties in New York State.
Other elected officials, including State Senator Jessica Ramos, Councilman Fancisco Moya, and Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz also spoke at the event.
“I know that as the years continue and as you continue to be reelected, which I know we aren’t here to talk about but I just got to plug that in, I know that your commitment will always be with the people,” said Cruz, “the people that need it.”
Richards is facing a primary battle against Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and former councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley next month. He took office last year after winning a special election to fill the seat.
Councilman Danny Dromm, who chairs the Finance Committee, stated his intention to direct more money to Elmhurst Hospital in the finalized $90 billion budget proposal.
“It doesn’t matter if your documented or undocumented, rich or poor, when you come to Elmhurst Hospital you get the service that you need,” he said.

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