DOE seeks to terminate Maspeth HS principal

The Department of Education (DOE) removed Maspeth High School’s principal from his position after claims of his involvement in a grade-fixing scandal were found to be true.
The New York Post first exposed Maspeth High School principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir’s involvement in the grade-fixing scandal. Abdul-Mutakabbir was accused of changing incomplete grades to passing grades and awarding undeserved credits to students.
A former administrator at Maspeth High School confirmed the story to our paper. They “never took part in it [grade fixing]” because “chemistry is too hard to fake kids passing the regents,” the source said.
But they confirmed that other administrators – not just Abdul-Mutakabbir – changed grades to keep Maspeth High School’s graduation rate high. The school claimed a graduation rate of 99 percent while the rest of the city averaged 76 percent.
According to a DOE spokesperson, the claims were substantiated through more than 90 interviews with students, staff and parents.
“Following DOE’s investigation into Principal Abdul-Mutakabbir’s unacceptable behavior, DOE served him with disciplinary charges and removed him from payroll while we seek to terminate his employment pursuant to state law,” said DOE spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon. “Our schools must have the highest standards of academic integrity, and we are working quickly to bring in new, qualified leadership to Maspeth High School.”
Following the alleged substantiation of several allegations by the Office of Special Investigations, Abdul-Mutakabbir was served with disciplinary charges. A hearing officer will weigh the DOE’s case, and will determine what discipline is warranted should Abdul-Mutakabbir be found guilty of any of the charges.
The substantiated allegations made by the OSI include that “incomplete” grades were improperly changed to passing grades, students were improperly awarded one English/Language Arts credit and one economics credit for a humanities course that did not meet requirements for the credits.
Other allegations state that students were improperly awarded one credit per semester for a Spanish course that did not exist, students were improperly discharged with advanced Regents Diplomas without earning six Language Other Than English credits, students were awarded credits for writing courses that did not meet requirements, and staff assisted students on Regents exams.

Schulman wins Democratic Primary

Lynn Schulman is officially the Democratic nominee for Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens.
“I am very grateful and thankful for the people who voted for me,” Schulman said. “But there is an election in November and I do have a Republican opponent, so I am going to start getting ready for that.”
Michael Conigliaro is the Republican running in District 29.
“I have a robust agenda in terms of my platform and I have more experience than Michael,” said Schulman. “I also have a large grassroots coalition that I will continue into the November election.
“I am taking a little bit of time for myself to regroup, it’s been a very long process,” she added. “I’m excited about the next steps and really working for the community.”
Schulman said key issues in the district are public safety and re-investing in public education. If elected, she also wants to work to expand the hospital capacity in Queens.
“I want to make any land use or zoning applications do a hospital capacity assessment,” Schulman said. “I would also support legislation to make sure that small businesses are able to negotiate their leases.”
Schulman was suported by Congressman Grace Meng.
“Lynn Schulman is a smart and dedicated leader who will work nonstop for her constituents,” Meng said.

Singh wins in District 32 Race

The race for District 32 (which includes parts of Breezy Point, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, and the Rockaways) had found two clear frontrunners on primary day. Local teacher and organizer Felicia Singh led with 36.8 percent of first place votes while lawyer Mike Scala followed closely behind with an equally impressive 35.5 percent.

Singh surged ahead and won the race this past week, earning a grand total of 4,684 votes – 52.5 percent — over Scala’s 47.5 percent.

Singh celebrated the victory and called on her Democratic colleagues to help push Southern Queens farther into the blue.

“What we accomplished was a huge achievement. District 32 has been isolated for far too long, and that is why we’ve had Republican representation when Democrats outnumber them 3-1,” Singh wrote. “We’ve proved what we can do, and now we want your support to do it again for the general. If you want to see our communities fully funded and supported, then help us flip the last Republican-held City Council seat in Queens.”

In November, Singh will run against GOP candidate Joann Ariola. Unlike many areas in New York City, District 32 home has significant Republican support, ensuring that the general election will be competitive.

If Singh wins in November, she will be the first woman, as well as first Indo-Caribbean and first South Asian person to represent District 32 in the City Council.

Woodhaven Art Circle highlights talents of local artists

The Woodhaven Art Circle is a group of community artists who seek to highlight the artistic and cultural talents of our residents. An outgrowth of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society, the Art Circle has taken part in a few shows thus far, with a new one coming up later this week.
Woodhaven’s Deborah Camp will be hosting a display of her artwork this Friday, July 16th at the NYC Landmarked Forest Park Carousel from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Deborah has lived her entire life in Woodhaven and her artistic talent was nurtured at an early age at her first school, P.S. 97.
“They helped encourage the creative free thinking process; it wasn’t too structured or rigid. They would give you a project, but then let your imagination run wild,” she says.
She particularly credits Ms. Rudnick at P.S. 97, who taught her from kindergarten through 6th Grade, for encouraging her development as an artist.
“She taught me that everything in art is limitless. And I said Wow! I can really draw a cat flying over the moon! And they encouraged that. They said, ‘yeah do what you want.’”
Deborah’s art is whimsical, playful and fantastical all at the same time. Her art not only appeals to younger people but to the younger people inside all of us.
So, to appeal to that child inside us the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society will treat the first 50 people to show up to see Deborah’s show for a free ride on the Carousel. What a way to end the week, a fun art show and a free ride on the Forest Park Carousel.
And if you like portraits of Woodhaven’s history, Deborah has some beautiful works you will like to see including ones of the Carousel, Oak Ridge and a lovely black and white portrait of the first incarnation of Lewis’ of Woodhaven.
Deborah Camp finds that her entire life is art. “Art is everywhere,” she says. “It’s not just the physical manifestation of pen and ink and paper, that’s just one form of art. Art is in music, it’s in life, it’s everywhere.”
“When I’m painting, someone will look at me and my work and say ‘I love that, I wish I could do that, I wish I had a talent’ and I tell them you already do have a talent, you’re very kind. That’s an art!”
“Everyone has an artistic talent inside of them. Even if they claim they’re not artistic they are, in another way. Some people are artistic with cooking; they make beautiful art forms with their cakes, with their dinners.”
It’s this enthusiasm for art and people that makes talking to Deborah fun and she’s very excited and looking forward to meeting other local artists to join the Woodhaven Art Circle. If you are an artist from Woodhaven (we’re interested in painters, poets, dancers, writers, singers and more) reach out to us at
This weekend, I had the privilege to accompany Deborah and fellow Woodhaven artist MSR all the way out to Hicksville, Long Island to visit the warehouse containing the lifework of famed artist (and former Woodhaven resident) Stephen Csoka.
Csoka grew up in Hungary and attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. He immigrated to the United States and eventually moved to Woodhaven, 87th Street north of Jamaica, where he also kept his studio for over 3 decades.
Csoka is presented in many museums around the world and we were very fortunate that his son Frank Csoka invited us to visit the collection, as well as the collection of his wife, Wendy Csoka, another well-known and acclaimed artist.
Frank Csoka taught art for many years at the Fashion Institute of Technology and spoke to the young artists about their work and the importance of documenting your work. We thank Mr. Csoka for generously taking the time to meet with us.
If you would like to see more culture and art highlighted in Woodhaven, please support our efforts by dropping by to see these shows and meeting the artists. And if you are a Woodhaven artist, or know of a local artist of any age who would like to join the circle, please pass this article along.

Pull the Plug: Advocates in Astoria condemn proposal of fracked gas power plant

Lawmakers led by Chuck Schumer rallied alongside environmental activists on July 9 in front of a power plant in Astoria to protest the proposal of a new fracked gas plant being built in the neighborhood by the Texas-based energy company NRG.

The event featured an array of speakers from the federal level down to the city level, who vocalized concerns that the peaker plant would undermine the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a state law enacted in 2019 that aims to reduce New York’s carbon pollution.

“We do not need and cannot afford – with the existential threat to our planet – anymore coal, oil or gas being burnt and sending poisonous carbon into our atmosphere,” said Senator Schumer. “I will be using all the muscle I can and my persuasive powers to get them to stop this plant.”

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation recently opened a public comment period into the proposed overhaul of the 50-year-old power generators that have given its surrounding area the nickname “Asthma Alley.” People calling out against the renovation asked residents throughout western Queens and New York to contact the DEC and submit comments before August 29.

“The only people that want to build fossil fuel plants now are the people that make money from building fossil fuel plants,” said New York State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, who represents western Queens and pointed out how Black and brown communities have been plagued by the power plants.

Opponents of the project argued that residents have had to put up with power plants that emit dirt, soot, and poisons into the atmosphere for too long. Gianaris said, “For the sake of not just the city, the state, but the entire country and the world, we need to stop fossil fuel production and replace it with renewables.”

The joint display of opposition towards the new fracked gas plant was backed by progressives from the national level and the local level, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez – who was unable to attend the event – and Tiffany Cabán, who is slated to represent the city’s 22nd Council District after a convincing victory in Astoria.

“We produce about half of the power generated around the city, and we’re paying for that power times two,” said Cabán, who grew up in Astoria and talked about how air pollution was among voters’ top concerns in the area. “The status quo is literally killing us, and it’s also disproportionately harming Black and brown, working class communities.”

While running for City Council she was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, who also had a handful of members present at the protest. They advocated for a publicly owned power grid that they believe would empower communities in shifting towards renewable energy and decried an “economic system that rewards profits, that rewards burning fossil fuels, over the lives of the people in this country,” as one member put it.

Local lawmakers have already begun to envision what energy infrastructure could look like in the near future for western Queens. This past February the City Council passed the “Renewable Rikers” Act, which approved a feasibility study to determine whether different types of renewable energy sources like solar and wind, combined with battery storage, are feasible on Rikers Island.

“When we reject outdated, polluting infrastructure, we open so many doors,” Cabán said, who believes Renewable Rikers would help address the area’s interconnected disparities in racial and environmental justice. “Rejecting projects like this is the first step to an economic recovery for our communities to build out and maintain new infrastructure that’s going to serve us for generations to come.”

Ramon Cruz is president of the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s largest environmental conservation groups. Cruz blasted NRG’s proposal at the protest, explaining that there is no way it could comply with the CLCPA’s carbon-emissions mandate. He said, “The Sierra Club categorically opposes permitting these new plans, because it does not comply with [the] mandate and because it sits in a community with some of the highest asthma rates in the city.”

NRG pushed back, stating that the proposal is fully consistent with the CLCPA because it results in large reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of taking more than 94,000 cars off the road each year. They also said that the plant will be fully convertible to green hydrogen in the future but did not provide a timeline of when the changes could be made.

Shawna Morlock lives in “Asthma Alley” and is also a member of the DSA. Living only six blocks away from a power plant in Queens, she’s not only concerned for the health of her neighbors but for that of her seven-year-old child as well. She’s hopeful that the condemnation of NRG’s proposal will serve as a role model for other politicians across the nation. She said, “We need to set the example of not letting fossil fuel companies buy off our politicians because that’s exactly what’s happening here.”

Famous Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast Returns to Williamsburg

After a one year-hiatus, a 100-year-old tradition returned to Williamsburg this past week. The Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast transformed multiple blocks along North 8th Street and Havemeyer Street into festival grounds, bringing food, prayer, and a massive dancing parade to North Brooklyn throughout the week-long celebration.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel first celebrated the feast in 1903, when a large number of immigrants from the Nolani region of Italy brought the tradition with them from their old country to their new home in Brooklyn. The feast itself dates back to the 5th century A.D. when Saint Paulinus — the patron saint of the Nolani people — returned home to Italy after a long and dangerous mission to North Africa.

The tradition has been handed down from generation to generation ever since, a homecoming of sorts for the Nolani community.

That theme of homecoming was extremely apparent this year. After taking a year-off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Our Lady of Mount Carmel was finally able to celebrate their ancestral festival once again.

“The Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast, the best feast in Brooklyn, is back bigger and better than ever,” said Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. “The parish, the community, and so many others are very much looking forward to the return of such a grand and special tradition.”

The feast began on Wednesday, July 7 with a Mass at Our Lady of Mount St. Carmel, ushering in a week full of food vendors, carnival games, and reunion. However, the solemnity of the occasion was not lost on those present. This year’s feast included a special Novena (a nine-night prayer) dedicated to those who have died from the Coronavirus, front line workers and military personnel, and for those who feel disconnected from the Catholic Church.

After the introductory Mass, the Feast began in earnest. For many of the vendors present on North 8th Street, this year’s celebration also felt like a homecoming after a year without street festivals.

Our paper spoke with Marie and Alexander, a mother and son duo working for the catering company Rancho Mateo, about the festival’s return.

“We are so happy,” said Marie. “We do all the festivals around here. The Puerto Rican Festival, Fiesta del Sol. They all took last year off and it felt like the world was ending.”

“We do this festival every year,” Alexander chimed in. “Now we are coming back stronger than ever.”

The highlight of the week came on Sunday afternoon with the famous Giglio Procession. The Giglio (derived from the Italian word for lilies) is a seven-story tower adorned with paper-mâché flowers, a crucifix, and an image of St. Paulinus.

Accompanied by a band playing traditional Tarantella music, the procession enlisted over 100 men from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish to hoist the massive tower — with the band and Monsignor onboard — and parade it throughout the festival.

“We come together today in the spirit of joy and happiness,” Monsignor Gigantiello said while blessing the Giglio. “We are truly thankful for being here today, to be able to celebrate our feast and the lifting of the Giglio. It has been a rough year and a half, but we are here because of God’s grace.”

He continued: “As we lift our Giglio, we lift it in honor of all of our loved ones that have gone before us. May we continue to celebrate the lifting of the best Giglio in the world and the best feast in all of New York City.”

Throughout the procession, onlookers cheered and danced and sang along to the folk tunes that the band played. Monsignor Gigantiello even got in on the action, clapping his hands and dancing a little jig atop the massive float.

This year’s feast was enhanced even further by Italy’s victory in the UEFA European Championship (the EURO Cup) Sunday afternoon. When the game concluded, the sea of people at Mount Carmel erupted, waving Italian flags and jerseys as the Giglio paraded down the streets of Williamsburg once more.

Developer gets $170m for Commercial Street Project

The massive Greenpoint Landing complex on the very Northern tip of Brooklyn will be expanding once again.
The Property’s developer, Greenpoint Landing Associates (a subsidiary of New York real estate heavyweight Park Tower Group), has secured an additional $170 million in funding from New York City’s Housing Preservation and Development Corporation to construct a new structure comprised mostly of affordable housing units.
“We are glad to move forward with this exciting new development that is set to give nearly 400 low- and moderate-income families a brand-new affordable place to call home,” New York City Housing Preservation and Development commissioner Louise Carroll wrote in a statement. “This development delivers on our promise that the transformational Greenpoint Landing project, more than ten years in the making, brings 1,400 new affordable homes to Greenpoint.”
Designed by the firm Handel Architects, 35 Commercial Street will rise 22 stories high and offer unobstructed views of the Brooklyn waterfront, Long Island City, and Manhattan. The Greenpoint-based design firm Alive Structures will contribute landscaping to the building’s entrance and exteriors. The building will also come with outdoor and indoor children’s play areas, a fitness center, an on-site laundry room, bicycle parking, and communal lounge areas.
“We are so proud to partner yet again with the city to create nearly 400 new and much-needed units of low-tier AMI affordable housing, accessible to New Yorkers ranging from formerly homeless to families earning up to 110 percent of AMI,” said Anne Carson Blair, spokesperson for Greenpoint Landing Associates.
35 Commercial Street is but one of many projects that Greenpoint Landing Associates has two or begun along the North Brooklyn Waterfront. The 22-acre site is already home to three high-rise residential towers, with a grand total of seven planned to be completed within the decade (including 35 Commercial Street).

Reynoso officially heading to Borough Hall

Williamsburg Councilmember Antonio Reynoso officially declared victory in the Democratic primary for Brooklyn Borough President. The announcement came last Wednesday, after rank choice voting and absentee ballots had been properly fully and properly counted.

Reynoso took an early lead back on primary day, when only first choice ballots were counted. At that time, Reynoso led the race with 28.2 percent of the vote. Bed-Stuy Councilmember Robert Cornegy was in second place with 19.2 percent of the vote, while Carroll Gardens State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon was not far behind with 17.6 percent.

Yet as more ballots were counted, things tightened up significantly. Jo Anne Simon soared to 45.2 percent, thanks largely to a strong showing with mail-in ballots. However, Reynoso still managed to hold on, ultimately securing 54.8 percent, a majority that officially won him the Democratic nomination.

“Our campaign was always about building a Brooklyn for all of us — no matter your race, your background, or what zip code you live in — and I’m so honored by the support that brought us to this victory today,” Reynoso wrote in a statement declaring his victory.

Reynoso served as the Councilmember for District 34, which represents parts of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Ridgewood. His council seat will be filled by Jennifer Gutierrez, one of his former staffers who won with an impressive 80.1 percent of first place votes.

Both Reynoso and his successor are considered to be more to the left than many of the other candidates they ran against. Both candidates received endorsements from the Working Families Party and from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Political Action Committee.

BP Adams gives thumbs down to Atlantic Ave rezone

In a rare move for a Borough President, Eric Adams gave the thumbs down to a 18-story residential building proposed for the intersection of Atlantic and Vanderbilt Avenues. Although Borough Presidents only play an advisory role in the land use process, Adams decision signals strong opposition to a project that already received much backlash from Community Board members.

Located on the site of a former McDonald’s and parking lot, the project would bring 300 apartments to Prospect Heights, 95 of which would be designated as below market rate affordable housing. The ground floor would host a dance studio and commercial space.

However when Community Board 8 reviewed the proposal back in march, its members were quick to highlight concerns regarding density and height.

“There is no reason to add density to a neighborhood like Prospect Heights that is absolutely swimming in density,” Elaine Weinstein, Community Board 8’s Land Use Chair, said during a meeting in March. “We cannot walk on our streets anymore. The amount of traffic and garbage is uncontrollable, and therefore it seems unrealistic to build this building as large, as high, and as dense as they [the developers] are proposing.”

The proposal still managed to pass through the Community Board review stage in March, thanks to support from members who believed the rezoning would bring more affordable housing.

The concerns Borough President’s Adams’ brought up this past week closely mirror those of the Community Board.

In a letter explaining the thumbs down, Adams’ office writes: “Borough President Adams generally supports the applicant’s proposal to increase density along wide commercial streets in the district. However, he acknowledges that the project represents a large jump in density from what is permitted in the underlying district.”

It continues: “Brooklyn is one of the fastest growing boroughs in New York City and the greater metropolitan area. Its ongoing renaissance has ushered in extraordinary changes that were virtually unimaginable even a decade ago. Unfortunately, Brooklyn’s success has led to the displacement of longtime residents who can no longer afford to live in their own neighborhoods. Borough President Adams is committed to addressing Brooklyn’s affordable housing crisis through the creation and preservation of housing units for very low- to middle-income households.”

The letter also cites inefficiencies with the Average Median Income (AMI) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) statistics that are currently used to determine affordable housing prices.

“Data shows that more than 80 percent of New York City households earning 50 percent of AMI or less are rent-burdened,” Adams’ office writes. “Borough President Adams believes that it is time to break the mold in which families already paying too much rent for substandard housing are excluded from affordable housing lotteries.”

While Adams currently only has an advisory role in land use matters, his status as the Democratic nominee for Mayor puts him in position to take a more active role in the process going forward. With a new City Council and Mayor coming into office this fall, many forthcoming and current land use proposals — including the 18-story building at the intersection of Atlantic and Vanderbilt Avenues — could potentially be altered, paused, or stopped outright.

Elsewhere in Brooklyn, the highly controversial Gowanus rezoning was recently approved by Community Boards 2 and 6 and got the greenlight from Borough President Adams. The rezoning was originally conceived by ex-Mayor Bloomberg but has found new life under Mayor de Blasio. It will see 80 square blocks of the neighborhood rezoned to make way for new developments, including the controversial plan to build a complex on the highly polluted “Public Place” site along the Gowanus Canal.

Lander declares victory in tight Comptroller Race

After counting ranked choice voting and mail-in ballots, Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander finally declared victory in the Democratic primary for New York City Comptroller. The Republican Party is not nominating anyone for the position, and will almost certainly win the general election in the fall.

Lander earned 51.9 percent of votes, giving him a narrow advantage over his opponent, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who received an impressive 48.1 percent himself. Although some ballots still need to be ‘cured’ (a process by which voters can fix improperly completed ballots) before the Board of Elections certifies the victory, Johnson has already conceded from the race.

“Today, after seeing the numbers released by the Board of Elections, it’s clear that the right thing to do is to suspend my campaign for Comptroller,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement. “This was a hard-fought campaign and I congratulate Brad Lander on his victory.”

Originally Johnson planned on running for Mayor, but switched to the comptroller’s race last fall. Despite his defeat in the election, Johnson celebrated the passing of the City Budget last week. The $98.7 billion budget is the largest in the City’s history, roughly 12 percent higher than last year’s leaner, pandemic-influenced budget of $88.2 billion.

Lander celebrated the news with a statement on Twitter.

“Thank you NYC! I promise to work hard every single day to help our city recover from the pandemic more just, more equal, and better prepared for future crises than we were for this one,” Lander wrote. “I am honored to be the Democratic nominee for New York City Comptroller.”

The comptrollership oversees the accounting and financial procedures of the City, a critical watchdog position in the City government. Lander will be taking the place of current comptroller and failed mayoral candidate Scott Stringer.

Lander was considered to be the most left-leaning candidate in the race, marking his victory as a major accomplishment for New York City’s progressive movement. During his campaign, Lander received major endorsements from the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing