Queens Today

Lancman Vs. Quinns In Rikers Debate

The debate over what to do with Rikers Island has roiled Queens and one community in particular stands to experience the biggest impact from the city’s plan to close the massive jail complex. Kew Gardens, home to the now-vacant Queens House of Detention, would absorb more than 1,500 Rikers inmates, according to the city’s proposal — a notion that has encountered split reactions from residents. Thus, with community members divided and uncertain about the plan, the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association will host a debate featuring two prominent voices on either side of the issue at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills on Sept. 5 at 7:45 p.m. Council Member Rory Lancman, whose District 24 starts a few hundred feet from the vacant jail, will argue for the closure of Rikers and the renovation of the Queens House of Detention, located at 126-02 82nd Avenue. Assistant District Attorney James Quinn will argue for the continued operation of Rikers Island jails. Read more coverage here.

South Jamaica Stick Up Artist Still at Large

A suspect who robbed two taxi drivers at gunpoint in South Jamaica remains on the loose, according to the NYPD. Both stick-ups occurred on Aug. 20. At around 11:30 a.m. that day, the man called a cab service and requested he be picked up outside of a home on 154th Street and 119th Avenue in South Jamaica, PIX11 reported. When the cab arrived, the man opened the passenger door, showed his handgun to the driver, and demanded the cabbie fork over his money and possessions. After fleeing with two cell phones and $185 in cash, the thief made another phone call about 10 minutes later. This time, he requested to be picked up along 145th Street. When the cab arrived,  the man sat in the front seat before displaying his weapon and demanding valuables. He left with the driver’s phone, wallet and $60 in cash. Both robberies occurred less than a mile apart from each other.

Pheffer Amato’s On the Move

As part of a district-wide mobile tour, Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato visited South Ozone Park and Far Rockaway last week to discuss constituents’ concerns. It was week three of her Mobile Office tour. Each time Pheffer Amato talks with a constituent, she takes down their contact information and pledges to follow-up with them later at her district office. The tour is set to continue over the next two months in Rockaway Park, Ozone Park, Far Rockaway and Howard Beach, the Queens Gazette reported. The next session will take place Thursday rom 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the JASA Senior Center at 711 Seagirt Ave.

Underground Transformer Explodes in Forest Hills

Some residents in Forest Hills awoke Friday morning to the sound of underground explosions. Just before 6 a.m., firefighters arrived in Forest Hills to combat two underground transformer fires that sent visible flames up above the street, ABC New York reported. The explosions occurred near 63rd Road and 99th Street and firefighters quickly shut down the roads nearby. According to boingboing.com, transformers explode when they are overloaded with too much electricity. “The sudden surge can cause a transformer explosion. As transformers detect an energy spike, they’re programmed to turn off, but it can take up to 60 milliseconds for the shutdown. However fast those milliseconds may seem, they still may be too slow to stop the electrical overload.” A similar electric overload and transformer explosion occurred in Ridgewood in July. Residents reported that at first, they thought someone had thrown left-over July Fourth fireworks into a sewer.

They Don’t Taste Like Apples

When police raided the St. Albans home of 58-year-old Leo Dillard, they found a bizarre prize inside his cereal box. Cops said Dillard hit a kilo of cocaine inside a box of Apple Jacks, QNS.com reported. Dillard’s home also allegedly contained additional cocaine, heroin, $5,000 in cash and a loaded handgun. The raid was part of an ongoing investigation by NYPD Narcotics Major Case Squad. Dillard was charged with six counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance as well as an additional charge of criminal possession of a firearm. He was first arrested in 1984, charged with grand larceny and was later arrested on drugs and weapons charges until his most recent charge in 2010 for criminal use of drug paraphernalia. The U.S. Department of Justice reported that the cocaine found in his home had a street value of roughly $25,000.

Trade Commission Overturns Newsprint Tariffs

The U.S. International Trade Commission voted on Wednesday to overturn newsprint tariffs that disrupted newspaper operations across the United States. The Trump Administrations slapped 22 percent tariffs on newsprint imports, mainly from Canada. The expense forced several papers to layoff staff or and reduce page sizes. “Today is a great day for American journalism. The ITC’s decision will help to preserve the vitality of local newspapers and prevent additional job losses in the printing and publishing sectors,” said David Chavern, chief of the News Media Alliance. “The end of these unwarranted tariffs means local newspapers can focus once again on playing a vital role in our democracy by keeping citizens informed and connected to the daily life of their communities.”

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