John Ciafone is running for NYC Council District 22 in Queens, a seat currently held by term-limited Costa Constantinides. Council District 22 encompasses Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside.
PoliticsNY asked Ciafone three questions in three minutes as part of our meet the candidate series.
To learn more about all the candidates in all the citywide races click here.
This City is deteriorating rapidly and falling apart due to the reckless policies and decisions of our elected officials. Crime which affects everyone in our community is out of control. There is a huge spike in gun shootings. Only recently, were three innocent bystanders shot and killed in our community. Including Gudlia Vallinas, a religious, innocent, young Mother of two children. I am running because all of the candidates in this democratic primary election are seeking to defund the Police. The one candidate who has been annointed by our elected officials and Unions to be our next City Council representative not only wants to disband to Police all together, but close all of the Jails. Imagine a society where we become another Dodge City, where everyone has a gun to protect themselves and where Gangs control the streets. The demonization of the Police which they pontificate will result in the Police being handcuffed and the Criminals being allowed to control the Streets. The Bail Reform law has gone too far allowing dangerous criminals to prowl our streets. Recently, a young gang member was arrested five times for possession of an illegal gun and was never remanded for bail. Another person was arrested and released three times in a 24 hour period. We can not have a cookie cutter approach to Crime. We need to have the Judges responsible for holding or releasing individuals charged with crime. Judges must be accountable for keeping individuals in Jail or releasing them. Our current system is broken and causing an increase in crime in our neighborhoods. More importantly, they are hypocrites. While advocating the elimination of guns, the broken bail system guarantees more guns on the Street and more gun violence. People by nature are not always good. The reason that we have laws and rules is to insure that for the most part people will act and behave reasonably because they fear the repercussions.
Our Seniors who have helped shaped our wonderful community are being neglected and abused. We need more affordable Senior Housing. We need to protect our Seniors from being targets of Criminals. We need to provide them with more financial assistance and resources so that they can survive in these difficult times.
Our Children and Parents have been victimized by keeping our Children out of School. This is Child Abuse. Our candidates and elected officials are afraid to stand up to the Special Interest Union that wants to keep children out of School. Our future and our community lies on the future of our Children. The Children in Public Housing in Astoria Houses, Ravenswood Houses, Woodside Houses and Queens Bridge Houses are suffering the most because they don't have the resources for Remote Learning such as the internet and computers. Why are these Children and their parents being punished. There is also an effort by the NYC Council to remove School Safety Officers from the New York City Public Schools. That would endanger the health and safety of our School Children and put them in jeopardy with Gangs that seek out children in our Schools. There is no question that School safety has gotten better by the supervision of the NYPD. Without the supervision, crime will increase. The NYC Council wants to remove metal detectors in our Schools. Metal detectors protect our children from guns and knives that are brought into schools. It is a necessity and the hypocrisy of the City Council which requires the public to go through metal detectors and searches when entering the Council floor.
Our businesses are under attack every day by the City which fails to have proper Sanitation in the Streets and which taxes, fines, and penalizes Small Business with never ending summonses so that the City can collect money for its budget. It is almost impossible to run a small business when it is under attack everyday, including aggressive parking tickets to its customers. Our Small Homeowners can no longer survive due to the ever increases in costs to maintain its properties. From increases in real estate and water taxes to the assault from the City for Sanitation fines, Building Department fines and Fire Department fines. Alarmingly, there is a planned agenda a group which has annointed a candidate in our district to promote a Radical Communist policy where as it states, Real Estate should be "decomodified" or that anyone who struggled to buy and own real estate, should instead be punished and that the State should take your property and distribute it among the unfortunate. Our value system has collapsed. We have poisoned the minds of our young children when Politicians gloat about the legalization of Marijuana, Prostitution and Sports Betting. We need to reevaluate society and change its paralyzing course.
I am a New York, New Jersey and Washington DC, Trial Attorney. I have a Law Office on Steinway Street in Astoria. I have helped serve thousands of residents and families in our neighborhood, in my 25 years here.
I work as a NYS certified Mediator and Arbitrator and am an Administrative Law Judge/Hearing Officer.
I am a Certified First Responder EMT/EMS and volunteer helping people in medical need.
The closing of Riker's Island is a huge mistake, especially when the four new jails that are being proposed do not have funding and the neighboring communities are in opposition.
As a criminal Attorney, when I go to Riker's Island, it looks like a third world country. It has deteriorated due to years of neglect and misappropriation of funds. It takes almost a whole day to go into the Island and out with an antiquated setup of buses and search stations. Ironically, there is more crime inside Riker's Island than outside. Gangs dominate the Island and if you are in prison, you must make alliances with certain gangs so that you survive your stay.
Riker's Island is unique and if money is spent to rehabilitate the buildings and jails and provide additional service buildings, schools and vocational learning centers, Riker's can be made better to help the inmates and society.
I looked at the Lippman report and reviewed a Swiss study which concluded that jails are not equipped properly, if they are built in a multi level structure. Rather, campus style facilities like Riker's offers recreational areas and additional building resources, crucial to inmates. A lot of inmates are emotionally disturbed and need the mental services that Riker's Island has room to build.
We often lose inmates ages 18-24 to violent gangs. We need to provide these inmates with educational opportunities and vocational training so that they can become productive members of society when they are released.
More importantly, if there is a surge in crime and we don't have enough Jail space, as is limited with the new facilities, where will we put the criminals? In hotels, like we have with the homeless population. We need to rebuild Riker's Island as a modern day prison system by taking it out of the languishing neglect and investing wisely in the unique land space.
I am opposed to Spot zoning where because some landlord has the financial wherewithal, he or she can hire lobbyists, and gain access to politicians by giving them donations to get special treatment. Why should we give out winning lottery tickets to property owners discriminately. If we rezone up or down, we need to make it block by block so that there is no disparate impact and that everyone is treated equally. Any property owner would enjoy having the ability to build an eleven story building since it would make them instantly rich.
You should only be allowed to build based on the Zoning and FAR requirements ascribed to your property.
Finally, an eleven story building would be out of structural context in that area. The owner should instead build five stories as is allowed by current zoning and FAR.
However, I do support the Astoria Kaufman Development project where over 2 billion dollars will be spent to redevelop and upzone an entire area (not a single property) of Astoria/Long Island City. This needs support since thousands of union jobs will be created and as seen with the loss of Amazon, local businesses will benefit immensely with this colossal investment in the community supporting restaurants, cafes, bars, laundromats, dry cleaners, deliverers and cabs.
The rezoning process ULURP, is fictitious and corrupt process where influencers with money and access have the ability to bypass laws and rules that everyone else must follow. All we need to understand is that the ULURP process breeds corruption as in development sites around the City which were allowed to go beyond the zoning rules due to bribery and political access. The ULURP process has made the Community Board meaningless since the local councilperson, Borough President, Mayor or Land Use Committee can override the will of the people. It rewards owners who can afford to hire high priced lobbyists and lawyers and by making the right donations- allow them to skirt the rules and become instant lottery winners.
Absolutely not. We have all too often witnessed the corruption of our political figures who received bribes to advocate and steer certain rezoning projects in our communities.
We only need to witness our local tragedy, where misguided and ignorant politicians pushed out Amazon to gain their own political fame. Lying to us and purposefully misinforming the public that we would spend tax payer money when all we would give Amazon was a tax reduction in consideration of their huge financial investment to redevelop an abandoned industrial area of Long Island City.
These elected officials failed to account that the majority of the residents in the district and the City were in favor of Amazon setting up roots in our community.
They fail to recognize that Long Island City until recently, was a blight to the City with high crime, drug sales and prostitution in the mid to late 1980's. I know this for a fact since I was a student at Long Island City High School.
Amazon could have selected any City in the United States, and where many offered sweet heart deals, it chose Long Island City.
We lost over 20,000 jobs. We lost over 10,000 Union jobs according to Gary LaBarbera, Union President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. Amazon promised to hire thousands of residents from our local community including Queens Bridge Housing and provide internships and jobs to the Students at LaGuardia Community College. Amazon promised us a new Public School and a new Park. Recently, Amazon donated 2.2 Billion dollars for Affordable Housing.
Also this devastating outcome effected our peripheral local and small business communities, providing significant loss to local Restaurants, Cafes, Bars, Beauty salons, nail salons, laundromats, dry cleaners, Pizzerias, Delis, Convenience stores, Cab drivers and delivery people. It is only through the eye of the Covid19 Pandemic that the loss is further incomprehensible to the recovery of our neighborhoods and the City at large.
We should not defund the Police. We need to refund the Police. I know the importance of my brothers and sisters of the NYPD, the most diverse police body, who have my back as an EMT/EMS, when we respond to an Emotionally Disturbed individuals who often have dangerous and deadly weapons, and but not for the Police, we would have more assaults and killings. The notion that we can send social workers instead of Police is dangerous and incredulous. We need the Police presence in our schools with its safety officers, so that our most precious resource, our children, do not succumb to crime and submit to the dangerous gang criminal element. Our community is only as good as the safety every person is entitled to receive. We have politicians who advocate for the criminals and instead ignore the victims and the innocent people. Gun violence has risen in our community and three innocent people were shot and killed in our neighborhood recently. Gun violence has increased in the City because the Anti-crime unit responsible for the confiscation of illegal guns have been disbanded. Not only do the elected officials and candidates in this race want to defund and emasculate the Police, but, they want to disband the Police so that we become another Dodge City where everyone needs a gun to protect themselves and where gangs run the streets and lawlessness and anarchy prevails.
We can not demonize the Police and handcuff their ability to protect the everyday citizenry of our community that government is responsible to provide basic safety.
Our Police force is made of of many minorities like black, brown, latino, asian and muslim officers. We can not call them racist. What are we teaching our children?
Just imagine if we tell our children to disobey and demonize teachers, how could our children learn and succeed?
To whitewash and broad brush all Police as being evil and racist is dangerous. Do we say that because there are many bad Lawyers, Judges, Teachers, Doctors, and Politicians, that we need to eliminate the entire class? No. So why are we doing it with the Police who risk their lives everyday for the people in our community. When there is a real dangerous emergency, who will we call? Social workers?
Humans by nature will engage in bad behavior unless they are shown laws and rules and presented with deterrence by the presence of the Police.
The hypocrisy by our City Council and Mayor is that they are both protected by strong police presence and Police detail yet they want everyone else to fend for themselves.
We do not let the American born Citizen vote until the age of 18. So, we should not let undocumented or illegal immigrants vote in New York City Elections. Almost every Country in the World, does not allow a person vote without citizenship requirements. However, Green Card recipients who contribute to our Tax base and the Culture of our City should be entitled to vote.
The current system of selecting community board members is rife with corruption and power politics. The local City Council person selects the Community board member it can control and calls upon them to vote in the interest of the Council person as is done in Albany and City Hall where the majority leader corals the votes. If the Community Board Member resists the request of its Council Member, that Board Member will not be renewed when its term expires.
Community Board members need to reflect the Community it represents. Elections and not appointments, should be involved in the selection of Community Board Members.
I advocated for Term limits for Community Board Members and all government officials since duration in government breeds corruption and the failure to serve the everyday person in the community.
I am an advocate of bicycle lanes. There should be a dedicated bike lane on 21st Street in Astoria from 19th Avenue to the Queens Borough Bridge. We need to have a dedicated bike lane on Astoria Boulevard just as we do on Vernon Boulevard. However, there needs to be a symbiotic relationship between bicycles, pedestrians and motor vehicles. There is a war against motor vehicles which provide heavy revenue for the City and State in terms of license plate, registration fees, insurance, gasoline taxes and parking violations. To demonize motor vehicles would not only destroy a major level of Commerce but disadvantage poor and low income drivers of cabs and trucks who earn a living with these vehicles. A large proportion of black, brown and other minorities would also be devastated since they rely on work with either a car or a truck. Our Seniors and people with disabilities rely on motor vehicles since they can not ride a bicycle. Vehicles are not only crucial to the economy for transport and delivery but provide an essential mobility to a large part of our community.
Firstly, we must provide more police on the subways. Seniors and residents are afraid to take the subway for fear of being assaulted or pushed onto the tracks.
We must fight to get the BQX, the dedicated bus trolley running on 21 Street from 19th Avenue in Astoria to Brooklyn.
We must advocate for more Buses to serve the desert transportation areas in our community. Additional buses and better bus schedules need to be employed.
I would advocate for a Water Ferry on 19th Avenue at Astoria Park to transport local residents to Manhattan.
Ironically, the poor transportation network mandates the need for more motor vehicles so that the people in the desert areas can commute.
I would mandate all developers of high rise properties in the District to provide for van service to and from the nearest subway for all the residents near the development.