Fresh, sunny in places. That’s how an Irish weather forecast might have described Rockaway Saturday afternoon as strong winds, cool temperatures and mostly bright skies greeted the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade kicks off a month of St. Patrick’s Day parades around the region.
Attendance by both elected officials and spectators was light this year, with a handful of Queens elected officials appearing. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, NYS Senator Joe Addabbo, Assembly Members Stacey Pheffer Amato and Michael DenDekker and Council Member Eric Ulrich marched, receiving a friendly reception. Mayor de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Tish James and Council Speaker Corey Johnson did not attend, although James was reported to have attended the pre-parade breakfast. Senator Chuck Schumer has often attended past Rockaway parades, but neither he nor any other statewide elected official attended.
Mayoral candidates fighting and occasionally smiling, a governor working his fellow electeds and the cameras, a hometown president passing through. Those are among the images in our 2017 photo retrospective.
Shot entirely in the five boroughs, our photo retrospective reflects our 2017 focus on the mayoral election and particularly on challengers looking to defeat Mayor de Blasio. There’s more, however, with a mix of light moments, conflict and loss.
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently ventured to the politically hostile Rockaway neighborhood of Belle Harbor for a town hall. Antipathy for de Blasio runs strong in the area, with de Blasio having lost the assembly district to both Nicole Malliotakis and Joe Lhota, but the town hall audience engaged with de Blasio on many substantive topics.
Mayor Bill de Blasio attended the annual memorial service marking the November 12, 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight #587. For the fourth time as mayor de Blasio joined attendees at the service, held at the memorial constructed just off the beach on Rockaway’s Beach 116th Street. The flight was headed from JFK to the Dominican Republic and the majority of those onboard were Dominican Americans and Dominican nationals. The crash also killed five people on the ground in Rockaway.
de Blasio was infamously late to the 2014 memorial service, his first as mayor. He missed the moment of silence, provoking a firestorm of criticism over his then-frequent tardiness to public events. This year, as in 2015 and 2016, de Blasio arrived early and worked his way through the audience shaking hands, hugging and talking with attendees before the service began. Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato, who represents Rockaway, was the only other elected official to attend. Former Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, now the president of the New York State Higher Education Corporation, attended and spoke on behalf of Governor Cuomo. Continue reading Flight #587: 2017 Memorial→
Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference today in which he defended himself for a second consecutive day against witness testimony in a federal corruption trial. de Blasio spoke in the Arverne section of Rockaway, as part of a lengthy presentation and press conference marking the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and promoting the City’s ongoing rebuilding and resiliency efforts. Mayor de Blasio held a press conference yesterday, following a Midwood synagogue visit, in which he similarly defended himself against that testimony.
de Blasio again cast the witness testifying in the trial of Norman Seabrook, Jona Rechnitz, as a “liar” and “convicted felon,” energetically rejecting the assertion that de Blasio committed any crime or legal but wrongful acts in return for Rechnitz’ campaign and political contributions. de Blasio repeatedly emphasized that the U.S. Attorney’s office would have known all that Rechnitz has alleged, as he’s been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney, when the U.S. Attorney ended its investigation of de Blasio without bringing any charges.
Here is the full “off-topic” portion of the Q&A at today’s press conference. All but one of the questions focused on Rechnitz’ testimony.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Rockaway Friday, touring a short stretch of the rebuilt boardwalk and making brief remarks but not answering any press questions. Large portions of the five mile boardwalk were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, with rebuilding now just about complete. The final unopened portions are scheduled to reopen in the next week. Continue reading Photo Gallery: de Blasio On de Boardwalk→
A cold, bitter wind blew across Rockaway Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t the sentiment of residents toward Mayor de Blasio, but an actual wind blowing in from Jamaica Bay during the Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The cold temperature and strong wind dampened attendance, but those turning out appeared to have their usual good time. It’s a world apart from the large Fifth Avenue parades, and even from many parades in other parts of the City, with a strong small town feel to it as the parade flows through a suburban neighborhood of single family homes. Green-clothed crowds filled many front lawns and porches, with cheers for the marchers interspersed amid a steady flow of eating, drinking and talking.
The annual memorial service marking the 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight #587 was held Saturday morning. Mayor Bill de Blasio joined attendees at the service, held at the memorial constructed just off the beach on Rockaway’s Beach 116th Street. The flight was headed from JFK to the Dominican Republic and the majority of those onboard were Dominican Americans and Dominican nationals. The crash also killed five people on the ground in Rockaway.
de Blasio was infamously late to the 2014 memorial service, his first as mayor. He missed the moment of silence, provoking a firestorm of criticism over his then-frequent tardiness to public events. This year, as in 2015, de Blasio arrived early and worked his way through the audience shaking hands, hugging and talking with attendees before the service began.
Council Member Eric Ulrich drew several Queens elected officials to a City Hall rally Friday, objecting to the de Blasio administration’s efforts at using hotels in Maspeth and Rockaway as homeless shelters. The electeds’ objections, substantially focused on the process and lack of communication by the administration, left them exposed to the deep anger of the 150 or so people attending the rally. Those attendees, predominantly from Maspeth with a minority from Rockaway, deeply oppose siting a shelter in their neighborhood no matter what process or communication is used. Their anger eventually overwhelmed the elected officials’ efforts to conduct a press conference, driving those elected officials into City Hall as the crowd chanted outside on the City Hall portico and briefly marched on City Hall plaza.
Council Member Eric Ulrich harshly condemned the City’s Build It Back program Monday, calling for the resignation of Amy Peterson, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations who oversees Build It Back. Speaking at a press conference on Beach 117th Street in Rockaway, Ulrich described Build It Back as hopelessly failing with little visible prospect of success.
The owner of the home Ulrich spoke in front of has been displaced since February, having moved out in anticipation of substantial work through Build It Back. Shortly after the owner relocated Build It Back erected a fence, effectively locking out the homeowner and preparing the property for that work. According to Ulrich and the daughter of the homeowner that work has not yet begun, however. Ulrich further described this homeowner’s experience as common, saying that many of his constituents are in similar circumstances.
Mayor de Blasio today attended his second Flight 587 memorial service as mayor, arriving early and avoiding a repeat of his 2014 public relations disaster.
The memorial service is held annually in Rockaway on the date of the 2001 crash of American Airlines flight #587, with a moment of silence timed to the exact moment of the crash. Last year de Blasio infamously arrived after the moment of silence, bringing simmering discontent with his then-frequent lateness to a boil. Today de Blasio arrived early, speaking with many mourners before the 9:05 ceremony began and visiting the granite memorial wall afterwards. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat and NYS Assembly Member Guillermo Linares also attended.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Breezy Point today, joined by Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. Their appearance two days ahead of the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall was intended to laud the progress in the City’s Build It Back program, and included a separate visit with a Breezy Point family just returned to their rebuilt home. de Blasio and Castro were joined by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder (who represents Rockaway), Council Member, HPD Commissioner Vicki Been, Housing Recovery Office Director Amy Peterson, Resiliency Director Dan Zarilli, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Marion McFadden and HUD Regional Administrator Holly Leicht.
Mayor de Blasio’s staff had announced the press conference as fielding “on topic” questions only. de Blasio implemented that restriction even more restrictively, declining to answer “on topic” questions addressing the planning and future operation of the ongoing recovery efforts. Question topics included the estimated time for completion of all of the Sandy recovery home rebuilding, the implementation of new flood maps, whether de Blasio’s reported future endorsement of Hillary Clinton is tied to a longterm need for federal government assistance, whether in Secretary Castro’s view the City could do better on any element of Sandy recovery efforts, communicating an increased sense of urgency to City agencies, significant variations in the reported number of Build It Back applicants, how the City will continue its increased rate of repairs, details on the construction firms used in the program and praise for developer Gerry Romski.