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Mayor de Blasio Criticized and Booed at Forest Hills Town Hall

Mayor Bill de Blasio at the Forest Hills town hall Wednesday night (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

Feb. 21, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Mayor Bill de Blasio was booed and heckled by community members at a Forest Hills town hall hosted by Council Member Karen Koslowitz Wednesday night.

Concerned community members hammered de Blasio on topics such as bail reform, local homeless shelters, the incoming Kew Gardens jail, bike lanes, diversity at city schools and more during the two-hour town hall at Russell Sage JHS 190 on Austin Street.

Many resident were concerned over public safety in the neighborhood with the new bail reforms, an incoming jail and homeless shelters.

“Many violent criminals are being released and New York City is becoming crime city,” one resident said to the mayor. “Could you please get rid of bail reform to make our cities safer?”

De Blasio called the narrative against bail reform “propaganda” and said New York City remains the safest big city in the country with the NYPD working diligently to protect its residents. He also added that he is working with Albany to resolve issues he has with the reforms.

The reforms ended pretrial detention and cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, requiring judges to automatically release people charged with such crimes as they await trial.

At least three community members spoke out against the borough-based jail plan to close Rikers Island jail and replace it with smaller jails in four boroughs — including one in Kew Gardens.

One resident said she is considering moving before the jail is built.

“I have lived in Queens my whole life. I have been in this area about 14 years,” she said. “Mr. Mayor, I do not feel safe.”

Two other residents alleged the community was never involved in the jail plan process. One said that the community input meetings were just “$50,000 in PR and paper.”

The mayor responded that the decision to to approve the borough-based jail plan in order to shutter Rikers Island jail belongs to “your democratically elected representatives — that’s how it works.”

Kew Gardens was the obvious place to put a jail because there was already once a jail there, he said. However, the City agreed to lower its original height–from an estimated 27 stories to 19– and add parking spaces after listening to the community, he added.

Another resident had a similar complaint about the 200-bed mens’ homeless shelter that recently opened in nearby Glendale, saying the shelter “was shoved down our throats,” without taking community input.

“It is disgusting because now I don’t feel safe here anymore,” she said. “Now I have to buy more locks for my doors and a security system because you’re not trying to help these men, you’re warehousing them.”

The mayor said he understood that people don’t want homeless shelters in their community, but said they aren’t “warehousing” people.

He said the shelter residents are working people like everyone in this room, who lost their housing.

“I am not going to see someone who needs a home and is on the street not have a shelter, not have a roof over their head.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Karen Koslowitz at the Forest Hills town hall Wednesday night (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

The night grew to a boiling point when one resident, David Rem, called de Blasio “the worst mayor that New York City’s ever had,” and was escorted out of the auditorium.

Rem called Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza “a top shelf racist” against Asian students and parents.

Carranza has been repeatedly criticized by parents and local officials for what they’ve called disrespect and disregard towards the Asian American community in a proposal to overhaul the admissions process to the city’s specialized schools.

Edwin Wong with the Forest Hills Asian Association spoke next and said he echoed some of the comments made by Rem.

“Many in the Asian community and Asian American community do not feel that the current Chancellor has their back,” Wong said. “They feel that he is racist for certain reasons.”

The mayor leaped to defend Carranza and said calling the Chancellor racist is “an absolute mischaracterization.”

However de Blasio admitted that he and Carranza mishandled the proposal to change the admissions criteria for the city’s specialized schools.

“I didn’t handle it well and [Carranza] didn’t handle it well,” de Blasio said.

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17 Comments

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person

This forum is overly micro managed.
Too many people take the time to write thoughtful posts then their comments
are not even posted.
Everyone living in Forest Hills should have a voice, as long as they
are not being obscene or attacking other people who post.
THIS IS JUST WRONG.

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J

Forest Hills people really complaining about crime…? The crime is, and has been, extremely low. Get over yourselves.

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Crime Stats

The Mayor claims “Right Wing Propaganda” and “Fake News” yet the data from the very institutions he is in charge states otherwise:

“Subway crimes spiked this January compared to the same month last year — and the number of robberies more than doubled, police said Monday.

There were 261 major felonies recorded in the subway system this January — as opposed to 201 in January 2019, according to NYPD data shared at the MTA’s board monthly transit committee meeting.

Of the 75 robberies reported, the NYPD made 58 arrests, Transit Bureau Assistant Chief Vincent Coogan said. Last January there were only 35 robberies with 31 arrests, according to the NYPD.”

Typical Dem nonsense. Everyone else’s fault but their own.

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d

This is ONE time I wish I still resided in Forest Hills!!! This man does NOT deserve to be in office! The decline in beauty that once was FH will never return as long as he is still in office!!!

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hawthorne

The same people who made Melinda Katz DA.
And now crime is escalating, and our wonderful community
is being ruined.
Voters here seem to be hypnotized.

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Sara Ross

I know somebody who was there and they threw some people out. I guess politicians, no matter how incompetent, which is most of them, only believe in this country’s constitutional right of freedom of speech if nothing bad is said about him. We need to get rid of bike lanes and the dangerous to innocent people bail system.

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carol alvarado

Having grown up in forest hills DiBlasio is the worst mayor I agree and I think rikers island should stay as is and our schools should not be riddled with students who can’t make the grade

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Judy

I am absolutely agree with David Rem, who called de Blasio “the worst mayor that New York City’s ever had,” and do not understand why he was escorted out of the the auditorium. In liberal, democratical city, de Blasio violates the own agenda.

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Annonymous

It was both beautiful to see the civic engagement in our neighborhood and completely embarrassing to see some people make it completely clear their backwards “make America great again” opinion based racist narrative. I went to my first town meeting thinking people from our community would be there and there were plants of my neighbors but there were also plenty of community activist from other neighborhoods not living in 11375 who used their time to insinuate, taunt, mock, spread opinion based hate and be straight disrespectful of everyone’s time to feed their political agenda. Truly disgusting behavior from some of those in attendance.

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VoiceOfChoice

What makes you think they are not from FH/KG/RP? Please refrain speculation and insinuation; there weren’t any “MAGA” comments or even close to. The area is heavily saturated in Democrat voters and has been for decades. Seems you’re projecting your racism and bigotry onto others.

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Anonymous

How dare they “people” to speak up on their own fate and be heard. Their voices will be crashed when leader Bernie becomes our supreme leader.

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Dr. Barry Feinstein

The Mayor claims that the increase in crime is “right wing propaganda and fake news” yet the data from CompStat and the NYPD show it is factual and there is a significant increase in crime. What kind of nonsense retort is this Mayor giving us? We are watching this city go back decades to Dinkins era crime, homelessness and social issues. Twenty years of progress washed away by this failing Mayor. More important is the fact that ruining NYC was not enough, he thought he should ruin the country by becoming POTUS? Laughable in a tragic way. Good riddance. We are through with blue; use your head and vote red!

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Our elected council

One on thing de blasio is right, to approve the borough-based jail plan in order to shutter Rikers Island jail belongs to “your democratically elected representatives”. So are we going to not show up to the polls, or vote strictly Democrat just because of party affiliation, most shifted to extreme left. Queens borough presidential election on 03/24 all candidates except for James Quinn support or have pushed for Rikers island land grab and borough jails.
To Mr Rem: Thank you for your bravery! You stood up To a communist dictator as proved by you being escorted.
And thank you to the lady who’s statement echoed what most residents feel- NOT SAFE, yet communist dictator de blasio said the jail is going to happen whether we like it or not, and by affiliation so will other nonsense like school de zoning, unused bike lanes and “shelters” for unruly drug addicts next to homes, parks and schools

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