A Queens Latin Music Artist Brings New Jazz Sounds to New York City

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By Carlotta Mohamed

TimesLedger Newspapers

Samuel Torres was only 17 years old when he left his homeland of Bogota, Colombia, to pursue a music career.

He made his way to Miami, Fla., in 1999, where he performed with renowned Latin artists and bands before settling in New York City in 2002. The window of opportunities quickly opened for him here.

Today, the versatile trained percussionist, arranger, and composer of Latin jazz, salsa and Latin pop lives in Long Island City, where he has made a name for himself at home and abroad. His new forthcoming album, “Alegria,” which means “happiness” in English, is a fusion of classic American jazz with contemporary urban Latin dance sounds such as cumbia, boogaloo, and Afro-Cuban jazz.

Music lovers can see the Samuel Torres Super Band perform at a special concert entitled “Alegria, Urban Latin Jazz Portrait” at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Aaron Davis Hall, presented by The City College Center for the Arts, located on campus at West 135th Street and Convent Avenue. The May 18 performance will include new songs such as “Raquel’s Bolero,” “Salsa, Jazz y Choke,” and “Barretto Power.”

“I’ve always been interested in the amazing music that has come out of New York City, especially the city’s history of welcoming Latin artists and giving them a base to push through new innovations in Latin music like salsa and Latin jazz,” said Torres. “This is one of the reasons I am so happy to bring these new songs to the people of Harlem.”

The Chamber Music America 2017 New Jazz Works Commissioning program with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation made it possible for “Alegria” and the “Alegria, Urban Latin Jazz Portrait” concert. Torres said he is honored to be a two-time winner of the grant in 2012 and 2017, making him the firsthand percussionist to receive the grant. The grant also funds the Boston premiere of the work in concert at Scullers Jazz Club May 24, and the upcoming Alegria album to be recorded later this spring.

Torres grew up listening to music in a household of musicians, including his uncle, Edy Martinez, a pianist-arranger who established himself in the 1970s during the New York City salsa scene. After his career took flight working with the famed American-Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, Torres joined famous Latin artists, including Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz, Shakira and Tito Puente, among others.

“It’s very important as a musician to be open and play many different styles that reach your musical language,” Torres said. “All music can be great if it’s done well. I’m always open to playing with new artists, too.”

Torres’ 2015 album, “Forced Displacement,” was influenced by the violence and political unrest affecting his native Colombia. His new album is dedicated to the people of Colombia and other Latin American nations who are resilient and able to find happiness through any given hardships. For Torres, it’s about reconciliation, peace, love and forgiveness.

“I wanted to do something positive that inspired people to move through the language and Alegria does that,” Torres said.

When Torres is not on tour, he works as a music instructor at a private school in Manhattan, where he is developing the percussion program.

He hopes that people will enjoy the upcoming concert and leave with a feeling of love for life, dance, and happiness.

The Samuel Torres Super Band includes Torres (congas and percussion); Will Vinson (alto saxophone); Joel Frahm (tenor and soprano saxophone); Ivan Renta (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet and flute); Michael Rodriguez (trumpet); Alex Norris (trumpet); Marshall Gilkes (trombone); Luis Perdomo (piano); Rubén Rodríguez (bass); and Pablo Bencid (drums).

Tickets for “Alegria, Urban Latin Jazz Portrait” are on sale now for $30, or $20 for students and seniors with ID. Tickets can be purchased online at www.citycollegecenterforthearts.org, or in person at the Aaron Davis Hall box office Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more details visit the CCCA site or call the Aaron Davis Box Hall office at (212) 650-6900.

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.

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Source: Times Ledger

Van Bramer blasts MTA for 7 train delays and blown deadlines on signal upgrades

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

The morning after the MTA announced it would begin a $45 million project for structural steel repair work and painting along the elevated 7 train line from Jackson Heights and Corona, elected officials and angry straphangers rallied in Sunnyside to demand more from the agency.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) blasted the MTA May 3 for continued poor service on the 7 line as well as its announcement that signal upgrade work, which has been underway for seven years will not be finished on time.

“We have endured horrible 7 train service for far too long,” Van Bramer said. “The MTA needs to set deadlines and stick to them. As they plan work, they need to consider this community and the repercussions of service changes. And Andy Byford needs to come to this community immediately for an emergency town hall so that he can fully understand the impact of this awful 7 train service.”

Byford is the new president of New York City Transit.

“People who live along the 7 need the train to get to work and to get home to their families and they shouldn’t be forced to dedicate additional commute time to stand on crowded platforms because the 7 train is so unreliable,” Van Bramer said. “This community deserves better”

The new technology, called Communication-based Train Control, will eventually allow the MTA to run more trains per hour on the 7 line, but that project has missed numerous deadlines. Work was supposed to be completed June 30, but it has been pushed back to November.

“The extended time lines and cost overruns on the CBTC project are completely unacceptable,” founder and executive director of Access Queens Melissa Orlando said. “Not only does this cause inconvenience for riders, the associated testing, train delays and signal failures create a real quality-of-life issue here in Queens. The economic impact of not having functioning mass transit in Queens cannot be overstated — all of this has a cost attached to it.”

The MTA explained the contractor Thales is asking for more time to complete the CBTC project, and Byford is challenging the request.

“President Byford told MTA Board members that he’s very unhappy about delays and is aggressively pushing the contractor installing the brand-new signal system on the 7 line to work harder and complete the job sooner than the contractor’s new projection,” MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein said.

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) joined the rally and spoke of his constituents’ anger and frustration with frequent delays on the 7 line.

“Any 7 train rider can tell you that the only thing reliable about the 7 train is that it will inevitably be delayed,” Koo said. “At the end of the day, 7 train riders are sick and tired of being sick and tired. From Long Island City to Flushing, New Yorkers need the MTA to do better because New Yorkers deserve better.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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Source: Times Ledger

Van Bramer blasts MTA for 7 train delays and blown deadlines on signal upgrades

See this story at TimesLedger.com.

By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

The morning after the MTA announced it would begin a $45 million project for structural steel repair work and painting along the elevated 7 train line from Jackson Heights and Corona, elected officials and angry straphangers rallied in Sunnyside to demand more from the agency.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) blasted the MTA May 3 for continued poor service on the 7 line as well as its announcement that signal upgrade work, which has been underway for seven years will not be finished on time.

“We have endured horrible 7 train service for far too long,” Van Bramer said. “The MTA needs to set deadlines and stick to them. As they plan work, they need to consider this community and the repercussions of service changes. And Andy Byford needs to come to this community immediately for an emergency town hall so that he can fully understand the impact of this awful 7 train service.”

Byford is the new president of New York City Transit.

“People who live along the 7 need the train to get to work and to get home to their families and they shouldn’t be forced to dedicate additional commute time to stand on crowded platforms because the 7 train is so unreliable,” Van Bramer said. “This community deserves better”

The new technology, called Communication-based Train Control, will eventually allow the MTA to run more trains per hour on the 7 line, but that project has missed numerous deadlines. Work was supposed to be completed June 30, but it has been pushed back to November.

“The extended time lines and cost overruns on the CBTC project are completely unacceptable,” founder and executive director of Access Queens Melissa Orlando said. “Not only does this cause inconvenience for riders, the associated testing, train delays and signal failures create a real quality-of-life issue here in Queens. The economic impact of not having functioning mass transit in Queens cannot be overstated — all of this has a cost attached to it.”

The MTA explained the contractor Thales is asking for more time to complete the CBTC project, and Byford is challenging the request.

“President Byford told MTA Board members that he’s very unhappy about delays and is aggressively pushing the contractor installing the brand-new signal system on the 7 line to work harder and complete the job sooner than the contractor’s new projection,” MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein said.

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) joined the rally and spoke of his constituents’ anger and frustration with frequent delays on the 7 line.

“Any 7 train rider can tell you that the only thing reliable about the 7 train is that it will inevitably be delayed,” Koo said. “At the end of the day, 7 train riders are sick and tired of being sick and tired. From Long Island City to Flushing, New Yorkers need the MTA to do better because New Yorkers deserve better.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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Source: Times Ledger

Peralta, DenDekker push for improved safety on Northern Boulevard

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By Carlotta Mohamed

TimesLedger Newspapers

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and state Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst) were scheduled to meet with the commissioner of the city Department of Transportation Friday to discuss traffic lighting changes along Northern Boulevard after a 9-year-old boy was killed in a hit-and-run incident in Jackson Heights.

Giovanni Ampuero was crossing 70th Street and Northern Boulevard with his mother April 28 when an 86-year-old driver making a left turn struck and killed Ampuero, according to Assemblyman DenDekker. Just days after Ampuero’s death, the DOT implemented a Leading Pedestrian Interval at the intersection where he died, which gives pedestrians a seven-second head start before cars can turn.

“While that is not exactly what we wanted, it is a step in the right direction. But what about the rest of Northern Boulevard?” said DenDekker.

DenDekker said that after U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and other elected officials from the city and state representing Northern Boulevard met WHEN?DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenburg in City Hall, the DOT agreed to walk along Northern Boulevard from 58th Street to Junction Boulevard to inspect every intersection.

“A study which began today will include local elected officials walking block by block with NYC DOT to review every intersection,” DenDekker said. “The immediate study will include LPI’s, All Pedestrian Phase Lighting, Split Phase Leading Pedestrian Lighting for the left turning lanes and other traffic turning calming recommendations.”

Ampuero is the fifth child involved in a fatal hit-and-run incident in Queens in less than 6 years along Northern Boulevard. In December 2012, Miguel Torres, an 11-year-old sixth-grade student at IS 145, was killed while crossing 80th Street and Northern Boulevard. In December 2017, Noshat Nahian, an 8-year-old third-grade student at PS 152 was struck and killed while crossing 61st Street and Northern Boulevard, according to DenDekker.

“They were all crossing in the crosswalk with a green signal when they were struck by drivers failing to yield to the pedestrians in the crosswalk,” DenDekker said. “We must try to prevent these terrible incidents. One way is to hold the drivers accountable for the terrible reckless operation of their vehicles and another is to try, by design, to make our roads safer.”

Zeeshan Anis, 35, of East Tremont in the Bronx, who attends the Baitul Ateeq Muslim Center every Friday on 62-17 Northern Blvd., said it is deadly for pedestrians trying to cross the road.

“I’ve been coming here for eight years now and the road conditions have not changed,” Anis said. “There are schoolchildren that have to cross these streets and sometimes cars don’t stop.”

Anis said there should be more of a police presence along the busy intersections on Northern Boulevard to make sure the children are safe.

Peralta said now is the time for the DOT to step up and put a stop to the unnecessary deaths on Northern Boulevard.

“We cannot allow Northern Boulevard to become the new old Queens Boulevard, which was known as the Boulevard of Death,” Peralta said.

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.

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Source: Times Ledger

Queens artists featured in Long Island City exhibit

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By Merle Exit

TimesLedger Newspapers

Two Queens artists have their work on display at the Rainforest Art Foundation’s “Nature in Art By Young Artists” exhibit.

The exhibit, run by artist Marlene Yu, opened May 5 and will run through June 6 at 35-58 37th St. in Long Island City.

Midori Tanabe lives in Forest Hills and has a background in architecture. Her artwork is on display at the exhibit, including a drawing of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, which shows off the area’s submerged trees.

“Some of my work includes drawings in pastels usually about things I find in New York City. Most of my work focuses on architecture and nature,” Tanabe said. “I like drawing on the site because it makes me pay more attention to the details. Being that this is the Rainforest Art Foundation, it is all about appreciating nature through art, so my art is based on the flowers and foliage of the city. Although I prefer drawing indoors as my comfort zone, the outdoor environment gives me a further dimension and can be less suffocating.”

Jenny Liu, of Long Island City, has two copper plate etchings on display at the exhibit, “I Found the Universe in My Backyard” and “Infinity.”

“All of my work tends to come back to nature in some way,” Liu said. “My artwork served as a culmination of my interdisciplinary studies and interests in undergraduate at University of Pittsburgh.”

Liu majored in philosophy and minored in studio arts, as well as chemistry. She is inspired by nature and the world around her.

“I try to better understand the significance of living organisms and what it means to be living,” Liu said.

With “I Found the Universe in My Backyard,” Liu said she tried to show off “the awe and wonder that is universally felt when we immerse ourselves in nature.” “Infinity” is “a study of the states of infinity that can be found in nature,” Liu said.

“After seeing Marlene’s art, I was inspired and felt further connected to these questions and curiosities regarding nature that we both share,” she added. “I am excited to see more of her work and get to know her more because it seems like our artwork comes from similar ways of thinking about nature.”

There are five other artists in addition to Tanabe and Liu who have their work displayed at the exhibit.

Catherine Chang flew in from Atlanta to provide a solo show within the exhibit. The fabric pieces included in her work are naturally hand-dyed with food scraps in order to honor “nature.” The pinks are made from avocados and the yellows from lemon peels. Chang said she is inspired by the spiritual feeling of being out in a naturalistic environment.

Receptive to both her own inner nature and nature’s wisdom, Chang said that she seeks “to explore universal metaphysics and internal feeling in my artwork through line, space, and color” and uses the medium to create a visual language of what she not able to put into words. “I wish that those who connect with my art will find a quieting of the mind and an opening of heart and soul,” Chang said.

Scarlett Chang, Catherine’s sister, also contributed to the exhibit with one drawing of pen on paper. She said her focus is simple and intricate line drawings of flower forms using both pen and watercolor. “The work I create is a product of self expression and creativity used as an outlet for the mundane,” Scarlett said. “Flowers are the main focus of my work and are detailed in the most simplistic nature of pen on paper in order to highlight the work with less emphasis on the medium.”

Ave Salzman, Jinge Xu and Alexander Yu also showed off their work at the exhibit, though they were not present at the opening reception.

Salzman considers herself to be a practicing graphic novelist, painter, and illustrator. She said that she is “deeply passionate about ecology, evolutionary biology and the conservation of species in the earth’s remaining niches of great beauty.” Her exhibit of her “Small Five” series came from volunteering in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which is in Africa.

“I aim to capture that appreciation of nature coupled with the effortless inventiveness of a child, two qualities that are fundamental to human development and happiness,” Salzman said.

Alexander Yu is the youngest of the artists whose work is featured in the exhibit. “During my art elective at school we were instructed to paint a still-life painting using acrylic paints,” he said. “My choices were limitless but I settled on one of my favorite pictures of my dog, the scene setting a sense of serenity as Ella is deep in sleep on soft covers. She embodies still life and peace in oneself.”

Jinge Xu, from the northern Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, said she is inspired by the colors found in nature, though the art she has on display shows black and white line drawings of whimsical animals.

Those interested in attending the exhibit can stop by the Rainforest Art Foundation Tuesdays through Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the foundation at (917) 682-3630.

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Source: Times Ledger

Heading to the past for a look to the future

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By Greater Astoria Historical Society

TimesLedger Newspapers

In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, TimesLedger Newspaper presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history

Welcome to May 1886.

The Star printed an article by the Hartford Times that contained prophetic thoughts about the future: “Some enthusiasts about the future say there will be a plan someday to arch over the East River, lay streets and build houses on a vast structure supported by piers and cables, as the Brooklyn Bridge is, without interfering with navigation, and make New York, Brooklyn and Long Island City a single city, the largest in the world. This may seem a bare-brained notion, but so did the Brooklyn Bridge when it was first proposed. And if a man had said 20 years ago that families would now be living on the top floors of 10-story buildings, he would have been called a fool.”

A Star reporter interviewed a Dr. Woodhull (no first name mentioned) of Brooklyn in Fischer’s Washington Park, a house which had become a pub at the foot of Webster Avenue (37th Avenue) in Ravenswood. Woodhull, the owner of the property, said that the house had been built in 1669, five years after the end of Peter Stuyvesant’s reign as governor.

During the revolution, it had been headquarters for British generals. The door of the house, which bore the crow’s foot cut by the British on all property confiscated by the Crown in the Revolutionary War, was the property of the Long Island Historical Society, as was the fireplace.

The house was built by Johannes Manning. The Blackwell family came into possession of the house through intermarriage or descent. Woodhull was not sure which. Col. Gibbs (one of the founders of Ravenswood) obtained the property from the Blackwells.

In an editorial about the house, the Star seemed to be in favor of landmark preservation. It read: “… what hallowed memories cluster around this ancient structure; what happiness and misery it has been the silent witness of… In this age of improvement, it is undoubtedly only a question of time when this building (unless something is done to prevent it) will be torn down to make way for some more imposing and modern structure. Would it not be well for some concerted action to be made to save this house—hallowed by age and associations—from such a fate?” [NOTE: The house was demolished in 1901, but the Astoria Historical Society acquired the door in 2008 and has it on display in their gallery.]

Work began on new track along Riker Avenue (19th Avenue) to the new pleasure resort (North Beach) on Bowery Bay. At the same time, the Steinway family also proposed to make some important additions to their already extensive stables on Steinway Avenue (Steinway Street). The stables were to be enlarged, additional horses purchased and orders issued for the construction of a dozen entirely new “double decker” cars of the “latest and most approved pattern.”

The contract for construction of the pavilion and bathing houses for the North Beach amusement park was awarded to Henry Schaeffer of New York. It called for completion of 104 bathhouses by June 19 at a cost of $6,000. The pavilion was to be 100 feet long by 75 feet wide. On the grounds was to be a magnificent fountain, sending a stream 150 feet high. Until the completion of the pavilion, the old Douglas mansion was to be fitted temporarily so liquid and solid refreshments could be sold there.

It was the intention of Mr. Henry A. Cassebeer, President; William H. Williams, Vice President; William Steinway, Treasurer; and George Steinway, Secretary of the Bowery Bay Land and Improvement Company, that this park be “second to none, as a place of resort of respectable people seeking recreation.”

On May 21, the Star reported that over 500 people had been seen strolling on the magnificent beach the previous Sunday.

That’s the way it was in May 1886.

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Source: Times Ledger

Two western Queens fires send multiple people to hospitals Friday morning: FDNY

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By Mark Hallum

TimesLedger Newspapers

An FDNY crew responded to two fires in Queens Friday, rescuing two victims from each blaze.

In both fires, one in Jackson Heights and the other in Corona, smoke alarms were either not present or not operational, according to the FDNY, and multiple civilians and firefighters were taken to area hospitals.

The first fire broke out at 30-46 71st St. just after midnight Friday morning that left six victims needing to be treated for injuries alongside four responders, the according to the fire department.

“During the first fire this morning, we got multiple reports of people trapped, so we knew that we were going to be arriving to a fire condition. It was a panicky scene. We made our way in, went up the stairs, and were met by fire walking in the doors. It was a heavy fire condition with a lot of smoke. I went to the left, and [Fire Fighter] Rodriguez went to the right,” Ladder 154 Lieutenant Kevin O’Hare said.

The FDNY celebrated Ladder 154, Engine 307 and Rescue 4 for their actions saving lives on the second floor of each fire.

“I heard screaming from the back bedroom. I made contact with the patient and from there, the smoke started to lift. I was then able to see that there was a rear door so I pushed it out. That’s when the patient told me there were others still inside,” Firefighter Akira Rodriguez from Ladder 154 said.

The FDNY said the fire in Corona was attributed to unattended candles, while the Jackson Heights fire was still under investigation.

“When I arrived on scene, I ran up the stairs. I made my way to the apartment as Rodriguez was making his way out with the patient. I continued the search of that room and found an unresponsive young person. I was able to carry them out by myself and moved them to the street. They were not breathing, so we began our interventions. When we passed the patient to EMS, they were breathing on their own,” Lieutenant Todd Smith of Rescue 4 said.

Although more than 100 firefighters were dispatched to the second fire at 40-46 Case St. in Corona around 5 a.m., these three crews responded to both just about five hours apart, according to FDNY.

Four civilians and seven firefighters were treated for injuries at the Case Street fire. The residence was a single family, unattached dwelling. Three civilians were listed in serious condition while one is in critical condition. All were moved to Elmhurst Hospital, FDNY said, while the seven firefighters were treated with non-life-threatening injuries.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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Source: Times Ledger

Council ignoring real problems by going after ‘segregation’

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By Bob Friedrich

TimesLedger Newspapers

Newsflash: New York City is a segregated city with “extreme levels of segregation,” and “remains more segregated than most metropolitan areas in the United States.”

At least that is what 11 City Council members, who signed on to a 32-page glossy report entitled “Desegregating NYC: Twelve Steps Toward a More Inclusive City,” would have you believe. This report was the brainchild of Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, in partnership with Queens Council members Donovan Richards and Antonio Reynoso, among others. It is a torturous analysis of cherry‑picked data that portrays New York as a city as steeped in segregation as the Deep South in the 1950s.

Rather than combatting the real problems of high property taxes, failing schools, corruption and cronyism, these elected Council members would have you believe segregation is NYC’s No. 1 challenge. It’s a time warp mindset of epic proportions and these Council members are prepared to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to radically alter housing and school policies in a social science experiment to end an imaginary problem.

In order to prove its allegations of segregation, the “Desegregating NYC” report dismisses the free will of people who often prefer to live in close proximity to others who share similar cultures and values. Is it no wonder that we have such wonderful communities such as Chinatown and Little Italy in Manhattan, Koreatown in Flushing, Little India in parts of Bellerose, Queens, and so many other niche communities around the city? The “Desegregating NYC” report would have us believe that these vibrant communities are bastions of segregation that represent the worst of New York. In reality, they are bustling communities with hardworking families of all ages who enjoy sharing common cultures and values and choose to live near each other. They are meccas of tourism and culinary delights. But to Brad Lander and other Council members who signed on to this report, these neighborhoods represent the worst of New York and are evidence of systemic segregation that must be eradicated by coercive, desegregation policies.

A common practice of the progressive movement is to cast the net of guilt and blame as wide as possible and then lecture us that we are collectively responsible for the alleged ills of society. The “Desegregating NYC” report does just that, and guilt-shames us in hopes of supporting its 12‑point plan to change NYC education and housing policies. The progressive movement has lurched so far to the left that moderate Democrats find their party almost unrecognizable. Councilman Richards, who I have worked with on other issues and is smart, knows better. He represents a diverse and integrated community from southeast Queens with many real problems that command his attention.

New Yorkers must at some point acknowledge that this progressive dogma is at odds with reality. New York, by any measure, is a city of diversity that welcomes all nationalities, all sexual orientations, citizens and non-citizens alike, and sets aside in its laws expanded discrimination protections for more than a dozen legally protected classes of individuals.

Our Council members should expend their energy fighting for a better quality of life and economic policies that will help all residents of our great city rather than trying to fix illusory problems. As an example, I would urge Council members to adopt policies that will end the crisis currently faced by New York City taxi medallion owners. These small business owners, many of them immigrants, purchased their medallions as investments for their families’ future, based on representations made by the city of New York that their medallion monopoly would not be pierced. Taxi owners have lived up to their side of the bargain, but the city has not, bankrupting many of them.

As the 11 Council members ponder and plan their next move in this quixotic segregation battle, let’s hope we do not see another taxi medallion owner commit suicide, because the value of their million-dollar medallion has dropped to less than $200,000. Where’s the glossy report to deal with this actual crisis? Sadly, there is none, and even less hope that these Council members will muster the fortitude to solve this real-life issue, a tragedy that stands as a detriment to our entire city.

Lobbing racial and segregation grenades only makes the wounds deeper and harder to heal. Such rhetoric will not help those families who are truly suffering right now. A myopic City Council is an inevitable product of a one-party system, which provides no accountability to a party racing towards a progressive cliff with no speed bumps to slow it down.

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Source: Times Ledger

Homeless man charged in brutal assault of Queens mother in Kew Gardens Hills: DA

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By Bill Parry

TimesLedger Newspapers

A homeless man was charged in the brutal assault of a 52-year-old woman near 72nd Road and Kissena Boulevard moments after she dropped off her son at school in Kew Gardens Hills on April 30, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced Thursday.

Ronald Williams, 21, was taken into custody Tuesday morning by detectives from the NYPD’s Regional Fugitive Task Force and Special Victims Unit with the help of U.S. Marshals at a hotel in Columbia, S.C.

Williams was extradited back to New York City, where he was arraigned Thursday morning before Queens Criminal Court Judge Jeffrey A. Gershuy on a criminal complaint charging him with assault, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment. Gershuny held the defendant without bail and ordered him to return to court June 8. If convicted, Williams faces up to 25 years in prison.

“The defendant brutally attacked a Queens mother so viciously that she was unrecognizable when she was found unconscious at the bottom of a building’s stairwell,” Brown said. “No one should have to worry about fending off a sexual attack on the streets of our county at any time of the day or night. Despite the defendant’s efforts to escape justice, he was fortunately apprehended and will now stand accountable for this horrific crime.”

The victim was dragged to an outdoor stairwell, sexually assaulted and beaten, according to the criminal charges. Police from the 107th Precinct responded to a 911 call of a possible sexual assault and found the woman unconscious with trauma to the face and body, according to the NYPD. EMS arrived and took the victim to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Queens, where she remains in serious but stable condition, police said.

Her injuries include a fractured vertebrae in her neck and a fractured orbital bone, according to the Queens DA’s office, and she needed four staples in her head as a result of an injury, which is consistent with blunt force trauma.

During his arraignment, prosecutors said Williams made a videotaped confession. They read a statement Williams allegedly gave to investigators in South Carolina.

“I pushed her down the stairs,” Williams allegedly said. “I wasn’t going to rape her. I don’t know how her pants got pulled down. I get angry and black out sometimes.”

Williams, whose last known address was at the Saratoga Family Inn shelter in Jamaica, said nothing in court, and his legal aide attorney entered a plea of not guilty.

The NYPD identified Williams as a suspect in the case last Saturday, warning he was extremely dangerous and could attack again. Police released video of him riding the Q44 bus about an hour before the April 30 attack and the investigation that led to William’s arrest in South Carolina was carried out by a 40-member special tactical team of investigators working the case which they called a top priority.

“It’s been proven over time that we have a very long reach and a very long memory,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said. “I have confidence, the utmost confidence, in my detectives as well as our partners and a special thank you to the marshals for our help in that case.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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Source: Times Ledger

NewYork-Presbyterian brings mobile stroke treatment units to Queens

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By Naeisha Rose

TimesLedger Newspapers

NewYork-Presbyterian is expanding its mobile stroke treatment units to Queens and Brooklyn.

The hospital is teaming up with Weill Cornell Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the New York Fire Department to expand its fleet of MSTU’s to the two boroughs, making NewYork-Presbyterian the first health system in the country to operate three units.

MSTU’s are emergency vehicles equipped to provide immediate, specialized care to patients who may be experiencing a stroke. The unit uses advanced telemedicine technology, allowing neurologists from NewYork-Presbyterian’s hospital locations to be consulted remotely and at a moment’s notice.

Dr. Steven J. Corwin, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian, thanked donors for their contributions to extend the program.

“We are extremely grateful to our donors for their support in helping us provide life-saving stroke treatment with significantly reduced treatment times to the communities of Queens and Brooklyn,” he said.

Every year, 795,000 people in the United States suffer from a blockage in an artery of the brain, depriving it of blood flow and oxygen, which, over the course of minutes, can lead to disability or death. Stroke is one of the most widespread and debilitating conditions and a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the nation.

NewYork-Presbyterian launched the first MTSU on the East Coast in October 2016. The fleet served the communities surrounding NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Manhattan. On April 30, FDNY began deploying a unit in the community surrounding NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and beginning May 28, it will deploy a unit in the community surrounding New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.

Dr. Matthew E. Fink oversees the MSTU program and is also neurologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He said the extension of the MTSU is a game changer in advanced stroke care.

“Response time is a critical factor in stroke recovery and the Mobile Stroke Treatment Units now have the capacity to help even more patients,” he said. “We are bringing the emergency room directly to a patient suffering a stroke.”

Fire Commissioner DanielNigro said FDNY Paramedics, EMTs and firefighters will work closely with MTSU units to continue critical pre-hospital care, which could potentially save more lives.

During its first year of service the Manhattan MSTU was deployed 454 times and transported 88 patients. Since the launch, the MSTU has been able to treat stroke victims approximately 40 minutes faster than a standard ambulance transport, according to NewYork-Presbyterian.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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Source: Times Ledger