Joseph P. Addabbo State Senator

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Where Would We Be Without Our Local Small Businesses ?
by Joseph P. Addabbo
Nov 28, 2014 | 0 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It has been said the small businesses are the backbone of our communities here in Queens, and I am certainly one to reiterate that sentiment. The small businesses, many of which I frequent myself – convenient stores, delis, restaurants and more – are what keep so many of our borough’s commercial corridors going. Small Business Saturday, starting this year on Saturday, November 29, is a time to acknowledge the services our local stores have to offer. The every-day items we may not always take the time to note, the comfort you have in being a “regular” somewhere or simply just having a convenient place to shop – are certainly reasons to appreciate our local stores. Cross Bay Boulevard, Myrtle Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, Grand Avenue, Beach 116th Street and Beach 129th Street are just some of the corridors that see thousands of people every day. Where would we be without them? Small Business Saturday falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the busiest shopping days of the year, and two days not necessarily reserved for local shops. We should take this day as a reminder to give back to the smaller stores that really allow us to live our day-to-day lives locally. While the holiday chaos can bring us towards larger department stores or big-name brands, we mustn’t forget the mom-and-pop stores that help us all year round. Statistics show 23 million small businesses account for 54 percent of all sales nationwide, over 50 percent of jobs and nearly 70 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s. In New York City, those numbers shouldn’t surprise us. Thanks to our corner stores, local supermarkets and more, we know the impact our small businesses have on our communities. In Albany, we continue to fight for the rights of small storeowners, and this upcoming 2015 session should be no different. I have sponsored a variety of bills and supported budget items relating to local businesses, including some that establish a small business tax credit for the employment of seniors, of unemployed college graduates and of unemployed veterans. Another would provide grants to small business owners to rebuild storefronts severely damaged by Sandy. In last year’s budget discussions, we were able to adopt several measures to help our local stores financially. The budget provided new, pro-business tax cuts, hiring tax credits, reduction of costs and red tape for businesses, workforce training for job openings, a Start-Up New York Tax Free program and more. In reducing the red tape for storeowners, the budget modernized and simplified both unemployment insurance and workers compensation, and ultimately provides employers with $1.2 billion in savings without affecting workers’ benefits. Whether at home in the district or in Albany, I will continue to keep the needs of the small business owners in mind. Something can always be done to promote their services and remind them they are vital to our community. This Small Business Saturday, I urge you to do the same. I hope you will join me in shopping at your favorite local store and show the owners the gratitude they deserve.
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Community votes on new uses for environmental fund
by Chase Collum
Nov 28, 2014 | 171 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Greenpoint residents again had the chance to vote to fund one of 13 large projects with money from the Greenpoint Environmental Fund last week. The GCEF was established in 2011 following the settlement of a lawsuit with ExxonMobil over a massive oil spill in Greenpoint. Money from the settlement has already been used to fund $395,000 in small grants and secured $196,916 in matching funds for environmental projects in Greenpoint earlier this year. Among the projects being considered for funding are three sponsored by local environmental group Newtown Creek Alliance, including the Intertidal Wetland Project that is reintroducing native grasses to Newtown Creek. Sarah Durand, a professor of biology at LaGuardia Community College, is heading up the project, which has so far received $500,000 in grants, and is hoping to receive $130,178 more from GCEF, along with $130,911 in matching funds. Durand and her team, including engineer Matt Jenner, are designing containers for cord grasses and other native creek plant life, as well as a habitable environment for filter feeders, such as the ribbed mussel, to reside. Currently, the project is designing an installation for the MTA’s LIRR wheel yard, which borders Newtown Creek on the Dutch Kills side. At a pilot location across the creek bordering the Newtown Creek Nature Walk trail, Durand showcased some of the native grasses built into a modern bulkhead designed by George Trakas and installed in 2007. “Our goal was to reintroduce the native grass that was everywhere here,” Durand said. “A lot of people doubted it would survive there.” To facilitate the project, Durand’s group engineered containers designed to hold sediment and an underlying platform that can sustain filter feeders. In the first year, many of the plastic containers were moved from their positions by the ice on the river. “But where the ice didn't raise our buckets the salt marsh came back,” Durand said. This year, her team designed metal containers with sharp edges designed to break up ice and promote stability, in hopes that the perennial creek grasses will stay put and grow again next year. For now, she said things are looking good. Other NCA projects up for consideration include a 40,000-square-foot community roof garden at Automotive High School and The Aircasting Project, which uses air quality sensors carried around by residents to map current air quality throughout Greenpoint.
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Q&A with Astoria rocker Ashley Kervabon
by Andrew Shilling
Nov 28, 2014 | 59 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Astoria native Ashley Kervabon first found her calling as a rock musician after finding her dad’s old bass when she was just 12 years old. In 2013, the singer-songwriter began performing in the city with rock/blues duo Pretty in Blues. After the two disbanded later that year, she released a solo EP called “Stability” in January 2014. Since her solo debut, Kervabon has been recognized by American Songwriter Magazine and has started to see some success on several college radio stations. Today, she is practicing and performing in her newest project, an all-girl rock band called Queen of Wands, something she hopes can help pave the way for the female rock voice. I spoke with Kervabon earlier this week about her new project. How did you know music was your calling? I’ve always done it as a hobby really. When I was ten I started playing piano and then when I was 12 I found my dad’s old bass guitar in a closet and so I started playing bass. I did that all into high school, and when I graduated I wanted to stop doing music. I think instead of encouraging me going to a performing arts high school, it kind of discouraged me. I don’t know why that ended up happening, but when I went to college I couldn’t figure out what major I wanted to go into. I went back and I saw the old songs that I wrote in high school. Someone asked me to be in a band with them and I realized that I needed to get back into music. That’s what I’m good at, that’s what I know, and so it has been a year that I’ve been trying to get out there with this. How did you get back into it? I was in a blues-rock duo for eight months – and that started last year – but then that fell through and I went solo. I actually released a solo EP back in July. Then in September I started playing with a female rock trio, which is really what I’m focusing on now. We’re called Queen of Wands. We’ve been doing shows since then and we’ve been talking about doing a demo, so that is my main focus right now. Why did you decide to stop playing music when you went to college? I think I thought it was too much of a risk and I think I wanted to shy away from that. I’ve known so many struggling artists, and I kept telling myself that I didn’t want to be like that. I started studying public relations and marketing, so it was something that is still creative but not really as creative as I would have liked. When this girl asked me to be a part of this duo, the first few open mics that we did I thought it was kind of cool. But then when we did our first actual show, people came up to me afterwards and said, “Wow, you’re so good. You actually wrote that?” Then I started realizing that people actually liked my stuff. It was like a light bulb went off in my head like, wow, maybe this is something that I could do as a career. Ever since then I’ve been trying to push for that. Did you find inspiration from your dad? Yeah, my dad was in a punk rock band in the late 70s or early 80s, so that was something. I don’t think that was something he wanted to do professionally, but I guess that kind of fell through once he got married to my mom and had my brother and me. When I found his bass, I didn’t even know my dad was in a band. I was like, “Why do you have that? Can I use it?” I was really curious. My dad loves that I’m in a band now and he’s always at my shows. How important is that support from your family? Yeah, I mean it is risky. While I was in college and I did shows and I really wanted to practice more – I just graduated in May – but I didn’t want to go back for my last year of college. I told my parents that I didn’t want to go back to school this fall, and they really had to push me to go back for my last year. At the end of the day, that paper means so much when you’re trying to get a job. Are you still doing your solo music? Well, I am secretly, but not-so-secretly, working on an album of my solo stuff, but that is more of a long-term goal. I’m not really rushing that project right now, and that is mostly because I am focusing on the Queen of Wands. How did you get involved with them? I was looking for a musician for my solo stuff and then I met my guitarist on this site called BandMix. I heard her play and I just said, “Okay, we have to be in a rock band. Screw my solo stuff, you’re amazing, we need to be a rock band.” We thought it would be really cool to be an all-girl rock band. So we found our drummer online also and she’s great. Are you playing shows in Queens? The Astoria music scene is unfortunately kind of awful. Being from Astoria it makes me really sad that there aren’t really places to play around here. We played at one place – I’m not going to mention the name – but the equipment was awful. The guitar amps broke in the middle of our set and so we try to stay away from places like that now. Do you think there is any hope for the Queens music scene? Well I’m hoping for the best. It’s just that there are so many artsy people moving here now, especially in Astoria. We have maybe one or two places and the equipment is just like that. I want to say it’s going to get better. There is no way it’s going to get worse. How did you know playing in a band was the way you wanted to go? I think that I always had a dream of being in a rock band. I mean my dad was in a punk rock band so I always looked to that. Growing up as a teenager. To be able to do that with a band is so cool and now the dream is finally starting to come together. My bandmates, we just work so well together. We already have enough to record an album and I’ve never been a part of that before. Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses makes me feel really stable and a part of something that can really grow. Is it difficult to be an all-girl rock band in NYC? I think it is definitely difficult to be a female in music in general. We’re pretty new and we have yet to face anything like that, but I am kind of expecting it. I’m expecting that stigma that we are girls and we can’t rock out. There are also no female rock bands that are really out there in the scene. I can’t think of one. Where are the Joan Jett's? I just don’t see any of that right now. I think that when we perform, people really are impressed, or shocked or both. You can just tell when they see us they don’t really know what’s going on, but they are still interested. Then you can finally see people bobbing their heads and then by the end of the set they’re like, “We want another song!” Then we’re just like, “Oh, we don’t have one you guys.”
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