Bayside activists protest lack of security at Fort Totten

Rally organizer Warren Schreiber talks with a fellow Bay Terrace resident Rosemarie Brennan at a rally outside of the gates of Fort Totten in Bayside. Photo by Christina Santucci

Rally organizer Warren Schreiber talks with a fellow Bay Terrace resident Rosemarie Brennan at a rally outside of the gates of Fort Totten in Bayside. Photo by Christina Santucci

Times Ledger

Bayside activists protest lack of security at Fort Totten

By Christina Santucci and Stephen Stirling
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 4:37 PM EDT

Dozens of residents and community leaders descended on the security gates at Fort Totten Saturday morning to protest the recent termination of private security services in the historic park — a move they say could lead to a spike in crime in the area.

For the past two years, the FDNY has spent $650,000 annually to provide a 24−hour security detail for the fort. Due to budget cuts across the city, however, the FDNY recently announced it would not hire a private security firm to guard the area and instead turned over control of the fort to the 109th Precinct March 1. The 109th, which is based in Flushing, covers the adjacent Bay Terrace neighborhood.

The decision has not sat well with a number of residents and civic groups in the area, however, who contend the FDNY gave little notice of the decision and could unintentionally create a hotbed for crime that could spill into the surrounding communities.

“Shame on the FDNY,” said Kim O’Hanion, Parks Committee chairwoman of Community Board 7. “What they’re doing here is totally unacceptable.”

Though several of the buildings at Fort Totten are occupied by law enforcement agencies, some buildings have been long abandoned and fallen into disrepair.

Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said without security these abandoned buildings could become havens for vandals and vagrants who could commit serious crimes or start fires in the structures.

About half a dozen guards from PD Security in Bellerose lost their jobs at Fort Totten. Mandouh Elzab of Richmond Hill, who had been working at Fort Totten for about six years said that two to three weeks ago, at about 2 a,m. a man came to the guard station needing medical attention.

“He was in very bad condition. I called the ambulance and stayed with him. If nobody is here, who is going to help this guy?” Elzab asked.

Protesters also said they were miffed by the last−minute warning the FDNY gave before making the decision to halt security at the fort.

“They should have come to us, the parties that are interested and affected, and let us know and have a say,” Schreiber said. “There have to be ways to solve this situation. But they gave us no warning.”

Community Affairs Detective Kevin O’Donnell of the 109th Precinct recently told TimesLedger Newspapers that the precinct would patrol the area, but not provide a constant security detail.

“If [the FDNY] drops security, it would just become part of the regular patrol of that area,” he said. “We don’t do security, we patrol neighborhoods.”

The fort, bounded by the Long Island Sound and Cross Island Parkway, is also home to an Army National Guard unit, an NYPD K−9 unit, an emergency services unit, an EMS academy and the auxiliary Coast Guard.

Schreiber, who has been leading the fight against the cutbacks, said it is unbelievable there are so many law enforcement agencies present at the fort, yet no one manning the front gate on a regular basis.

“We feel they betrayed the community,” Schreiber said. “They made an agreement to provide security here. All we’re asking for is the status quo. We’re not asking for them to reinvent the wheel.”


Cops: Queens Man Fatally Stabs Wife, Hangs Self at Baybridge Condominium Estates


1010 WINS

Cops: Queens Man Fatally Stabs Wife, Hangs Self

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — A Queens couple was found dead Sunday in what police believe was a murder-suicide.

The woman, 57, had been stabbed to death inside the couple’s home at the upscale Baybridge Condominium Estates in the Bayside neighborhood, police said.

The man, 64, hanged himself from the second floor balcony of the home, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.

They were discovered by their adult son.

Neighbors said they were a quiet couple and couldn’t imagine why the man would have turned violent.

Fort Totten Gate Security: An Ever Changing Story

A protest rally still remains a very real possibility.

A protest rally still remains a very real possibility.

At a meeting held on Tuesday, February 17, 2009, Fire Department Chiefs and Unit Heads decided to completely eliminate gate security at Fort Totten. This is contrary to earlier reports from official FDNY sources that the security would be provided by light duty fire fighters.

At this time attempts are being made to obtain copies of the conveyance agreement, which some interested parties believe call for FDNY to maintain gate security. As expected, FDNY is reluctant to make the documents available for review. Efforts are underway to obtain the documentation elsewhere.

A protest rally still remains a very real possibility.


Queens Woman in JetBlue tussle grounded for 5 years

Anyone for Anger Management?

Anyone for Anger Management?

From BusinessWeek

Queens Woman in JetBlue tussle grounded for 5 years


A woman accused of punching an airline attendant who tried to stop her from smoking during a flight has been sentenced to five years of probation, during which she can’t fly on commercial airlines.

Christina Elizabeth Szele (ZELL’-ee) of Queens, N.Y., was ordered Thursday to pay $7,987 in restitution and to seek drug, alcohol and anger management counseling.

She pleaded guilty in November to interfering with a crew member.

Authorities say she shouted obscenities and racial slurs at an attendant on a JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco in June. The FBI says crew members restrained Szele with plastic handcuffs, but she broke them and punched an attendant in the jaw.

The pilot diverted the plane to Denver, where Szele was arrested.

Vandalism = Adult Sports?

The  individuals responsible for this illegal posting in Bay Terrace seem to believe that vandalism is now an Adult Sport. Our community is dedicated to stamping out graffiti, illegal posting, stickers and any other form of vandalism. The irresponsible people who deface our neighborhoods should face criminal charges, pay for the clean-up and be publicly embarrassed.

Click Each Thumbnail For The Full Size Image

City accused of bias against blacks, Hispanics in ex-con jobs ban


Meet the hospital's newest employee

New York Daily News


Tuesday, January 27th 2009, 3:24 AM

A city ban on hiring ex-cons for hospital jobs is unfair to blacks and Hispanics, a city woman claimed in a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Shanae Leath, who was convicted for her role in a mugging nine years ago, lost her shot at a clerical job at Bellevue Hospital when her record came to light. Leath, 28, said the city Health and Hospitals Corp. ban discriminates.

“Years ago, I made a mistake, but my life is in order now,” Leath said. “It really hurts because Bellevue seemed to recognize that I would be a good worker.”

Leath’s attorney Justin Swartz says the Health and Hospitals Corp.’s “blanket ban” on hiring applicants with criminal convictions disproportionately affects Hispanics and African-Americans.

Victims of violent crimes will most certainly be grateful that the miscreants who attacked them, will now be part of the hospital team tending to their injuries.

Civilians, cops tag-team vs. graffiti

BTCA Graffiti Busters

BTCA Graffiti Busters

Queens has made major strides in the war on vandalism.

Graffiti complaints dropped dramatically across the borough in 2008 — including a 20% decline in Queens’ northern precincts — even as citywide totals jumped more than 10%, according to preliminary NYPD stats.

The number of graffiti complaints includes calls from the public to report vandalism to the NYPD, as well as all graffiti-related criminal charges the NYPD files against suspects after they’re arrested.

In addition, cops collared 214 fewer taggers in Queens than they had in 2007 — a 23.1% drop that contrasted with a 10% leap citywide in graffiti arrests, NYPD records show.

Skeptics warn the numbers may indicate only a lack of vigilance in reporting graffiti and catching offenders — not a true dip in the colorful crimes — but others view them as a major accomplishment.

In 2008, the 109th Precinct reported 182 graffiti complaints which resulted in 55 arrests. During that same period, the 111th Precinct received 117 graffiti reports which resulted 27 arrests.

BTCA’s Graffiti Busters can often be seen removing grafitti, stickers, illegal postings and other forms of vandalism in Bay Terrace. Any one of their regularly schedluled clean-ups will often result in the removal of 30-50 tags and markings. All of these volunteer community groups should be applauded for their efforts.

For more on this story……….