Archive for June, 2009

29th District City Council Race Preview


by Anthony Stasi
06.02.09 – 04:18 pm
Melquiades (Mel) Gagarin is running for the City Council in what still looks like a competitive field in the 29th district in the Kew Gardens and Forest Hills sections of Queens. The politics in Kew Gardens are not terribly hard to define. The overwhelmingly Democratic district will most likely only see a race in this year’s Democratic primary and not the general election.  

The issues are, for the most part, public education and fairness for commuters – by way of fare hikes. Gagarin is 27 years old, and for a City Council that sees change through term limits, perhaps a younger candidate is not necessarily at any disadvantage the way he might be if he were running against a 14-year incumbent. 

Gagarin feels that mayoral control of the school system is an idea that could use some improvement. 

“There are weaknesses in the program. It’s critical to have parents at the decision making table,” says Gagarin. 

It’s a common thread in this year’s election cycle in regard to education. Public education is a tough issue politically, because candidates need to show where the failures in the system are without making students and educators look as though they are to blame. 

Gagarin is well educated, graduating from American University in Washington, D.C. and then working in liberal Democratic politics right away. He eventually worked as an aide to State Senator Jose Serrano and then for Congressman Anthony Weiner (which can actually count as having military combat experience). He now works as a media manager for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 

What Gagarin has to his advantage is that Weiner lives in Kew Gardens, and it cannot hurt for a lesser-known candidate to have a link to a well-known congressman in the area. Gagarin is likely to face Lynn Schulman, as well as Heidi Harrison Chain in the primary, among others. 

Chain, a self described “peopletician” has logged 20 years at the New York City Department of Finance, where she is director of Legal Affairs. She also serves as president of the 112th Precinct Community Council. 

Schulman is a respected community presence who has some educational heft of her own. Schulman was recently endorsed by the far left Working Families Party. That endorsement aside, Schulman stands to get some good mainstream support, especially from establishment political figures that respect her work on gay rights issues. 

Mel Gagarin stands as a formidable candidate because his opponents are going to be splitting votes among their own pocket constituencies. But since Gagarin is just introducing himself, he can present a fresh political face to go along with a look that – like Eric Ulrich in the 32nd District – dispels any thought of politics as usual. 

He takes a careful step to criticize congestion pricing, saying that it was a “good idea with poor execution.” Most Queens politicians are not fans of congestion pricing since that policy stood to hurt the commuting public and not the Manhattan crowd. He is careful, and he speaks to the issues with scholarship. The candidates in this district are articulate and prepared to do the legislative heavy lifting.

This is going to be a good race in the 29th District. It’s unfortunate that there is really no GOP presence. For those of us who still think a democracy should have more than one party, it is just something for which to wait and hope.



June 11, 2009 at 1:52 pm Leave a comment

Nights with Harry

It’s an outdoor film fest of Harry Potter movies. Those of you with kids probably own them already, but when was the last time (or even the first time) you took the kids to an outdoor film? A free one, at that.


Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi 

proudly presents the


Hosted by the Forest Hills Youth Athletic Assocation at 

Fleet Street Fields

66-01 Fleet Street

Sat. June 13     Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Sat. June 20    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Sat. June 27    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Wed. July 8     Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Sat. July 11      Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Gates open at 6:30 p.m., movies begin at 8 depending on actual time of sunset. Refreshments will be sold by the Girls Softball League.

Space is limited/first come, first served. Restrooms available. No alcohol permitted. 

For weather cancellation updates: 646-246-6697



June 11, 2009 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Relay for Life

June 13, 2009 at West Side Tennis Club


There’s a day-full of events going on for this. Click here for more.

June 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment

Street Fair

Yeah, it’s the usual street fair fare, but it’s a nice excuse for getting out and bumping into people you know. And it’s free, if you don’t succumb to the temptation to buy tie dyed baby clothes and grilled corn.


June 9, 2009 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

Brainstorm at Tierra Sana

This is really a bummer. Vic and Stephanie Fiallo have such great intentions and are so mindful in everything they do. If you value people like this in your community, you might want to stop by to lend a hand, or rather, an idea.


 Date: Thursday June 4, 2009

Time: 8:00 pm

Place: Tierra Sana (back room)


Although we have a long list of people who value the quality and benefits of the food we serve, and love the atmosphere we provide in Tierra Sana, we feel as though we are still not reaching the results necessary for us to stay open. On Thursday, June 4, 2008 at 8:00 p.m., we will be holding a meeting to discuss ideas for how to keep Tierra Sana open to serve the community. We are hoping you can come to Tierra Sana and enlighten us with your ideas. We are interested in making changes, and with your help we can keep Tierra Sana open and make it a better place for more people. 

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make a difference in your life and thank you for making a difference in Tierra Sana.

Tierra Sana

100-27 Queens Blvd @67th Ave

June 4, 2009 at 5:03 am 4 comments

Found on 108th Street

In case you’re wondering, I left them there for their rightful owner.


June 3, 2009 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

Opera Magic Goes and Comes

The Amato Opera shut its doors this past weekend, and I confess to shedding a few tears at one of the final performances of this jewel of an opera company. If you had the pleasure of attending an opera at the company’s scrappy & lovable theater in the Bowery these past 60 years, then you know what a loss this is to New York and, in particular, the countless children who have gained an early and joyful exposure to an often forbidding art form. Heck, it wasn’t just children; we had relatives visit from Australia last fall and high on their list of things to do was the Amato, where we saw a wonderful performance of La Traviata. It’s these small NY memories that really stay with me, more so than had it been at the Met (also saw La Traviata there and really can’t remember much about it!).

Tony Amato

For my kids, it was the place where they first saw The Magic Flute, and because of that, they have since seen other performances of it, including the offbeat version by Ingmar Bergman on DVD. We might just continue the “tradition” by making our way over to the Gingerbread Player’s production of The Magic Flute at St. Luke’s Church this weekend. 

Magic Flute 330sm

June 2, 2009 at 8:40 am Leave a comment

Older Posts

Recent Posts


splittinghairsinforesthills at earthlink dot net