SBS is hosting free small business seminars


The NYC Department of Small Business Services is hosting a series of free seminars for those looking to start their own small business or become a vendor at the Queens Night Market.

The seminars will cover a range of topics, from creating a viable business idea and industry and competitor analysis to branding and marketing, social media and obtaining permits.

Attendees can expect guest speakers, networking and Q&A opportunities.

The first seminar is set for Tuesday, February 23, the second is on Tuesday, March 2 and the last will be on Tuesday, March 9. All run from 6 to 9 p.m.

Hailing Chen launches campaign for City Council on Sunday

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Hailing Chen, center, rallying at Citi Field last year.

Uber driver Hailing Chen is officially launching his campaign for City Council on Sunday at I.S. 237, located at 46-21 Colden Street.

Chen has been active during the pandemic fighting for safety precautions for rideshare drivers and other essential workers.

“We must fight for immigrants’ rights because we are a nation of immigrants,” he said. “We must fight for workers’ rights to make sure all New Yorkers can support their families and live safely during the pandemic and beyond.”

The 28-year-old began driving for Uber shortly after graduating from St. John’s University. He has organized with the Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which endorsed Chen.

Chen is hoping to succeed term-limited Councilman Peter Koo. The race has picked up intensity as more candidates have joined the fray.

In addition to Chen, other candidates include congressional aide Sandra Ung, Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce executive director John Choe and former CPC Nan Shan Senior Center director Neng Wang.

More recent candidates to enter the race include former Queens borough president candidates Dao Yin and Anthony Miranda.

According to the latest filings, Chen has raised nearly $34,000, and with matching funds, has an estimated $88,000 on hand.

The fundraising leader in this race is Ung, who raised more than $87,000 in private funds and has north of $177,000 left.

Queens College exhibition documents one of world’s oldest Jewish communities

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A new Queens College virtual exhibition is exploring one of the oldest Jewish communities in existence.

“Romaniote Memories, a Jewish Journey from Ioannina, Greece, to Manhattan: Photographs by Vincent Giordano,” features more than 100 photographs of the Romaniote Jewish community.

The millennia-old sect practices traditions dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. They emigrated to the Lower East Side and established a synagogue in 1927.

A virtual opening reception for the exhibition, along with a conversation with the curator, organizers and guests, is set for February 11 at 5 p.m.

Register for the event here.

Grodenchik backs Behar as his successor

Councilman Barry Grodenchik, left, is not running for re-election

Councilman Barry Grodenchik, left, is not running for re-election

Councilman Barry Grodenchik wants his former counsel and campaign manager to be his successor in the City Council.

Last week, Grodenchik endorsed Steve Behar’s bid to replace him to represent District 23 in northeast Queens.

Behar ran Grodenchik’s campaign in 2015, and then served as his counsel for five years.

“Steve knows City Hall inside and out and will be ready to serve our district on day one,” Grodenchik said. “No other candidate has the experience and the knowledge to be ready to immediately fight for our district.”

Behar said he will seek to continue Grodenchik’s legacy of funding schools, libraries and parks, supporting small businesses and addressing hunger in the city.

The candidate spent the last five weeks battling COVID-19, including a week-long stint in the hospital. Now he’s back on the campaign trail.

Grodenchik is not term-limited, but announced last year that he will not run for re-election.

Nearly a dozen candidates have announced their run for office, including Behar, Seth Breland, Christopher Fuentes-Padilla, Sanjeev Jindal, Jaslin Kaur, Linda Lee, Debra Markell, Mandeep Sahi, Koshy Thomas and Harpreet Singh Toor.

Free senior transportation program returns

Screen shot via Google Maps

Screen shot via Google Maps

Councilman Paul Vallone is bringing back the district’s free senior transportation program.

Thanks to a $90,000 funding allocation, as well as a $50,000 addition in partnership with Councilman Bob Holden and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the program offers rides to areas within the five boroughs and western Nassau County.

To schedule a ride to an essential medical or vaccination appointment, eligible seniors should call the Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888 between 9 a.m. and noon, and leave their name and phone number in a voicemail to schedule a next-day ride.

The Selfhelp team will then return the call and arrange a ride.

All seniors who use the service must complete a basic application with demographic information and an emergency contact, and provide their destination.

The transportation program will be even more valuable for seniors who are on their way to get vaccinated during the pandemic.

Oakland Gardens woman charged with poisoning husband with ant/roach killer


A 70-year-old Oakland Gardens woman was arrested and charged with attempted assault for allegedly poisoning her husband with an ant and roach killer on more than one occasion.

Suncha Tinevra, who lives on 223rd Place, was charged with attempted assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, she faces up to four years in prison.

According to Queens DA Melinda Katz, Tinevra was seen on surveillance video squeezing a white powdery substance from a bottle with a red cap and yellow label on January 12. She retrieved the bottle from the cabinet under the sink and tried to spike her husband’s coffee a few times.

Detectives recovered the bottle a few days later. The label indicated that the content was boric acid, which is used to kill ants and roaches.

“Domestic violence is not limited to mental and physical abuse,” Katz said. “The victim did become sick, but thankfully did not die.”

Ung ahead in fundraising in District 20 race


Taking a look at the fundraising numbers posted by the candidates in District 20, which includes Flushing and other portions of northeast Queens, City Council candidate Sandra Ung is leading the way with $87,00 and an additional $142,600 in matching funds.

According to Ung’s campaign, she raised over $45,000 since the last filing. Her total, including matching funds, is nearly $230,000, placing her campaign among the top fundraisers in Queens and the second-highest in Queens.

Ung, who most recently worked for Congresswoman Grace Meng, drew from 500 honors across the city.

“I am honored to have received the support of so many members of our community,” she said. “These funds are going to allow me to spend more time listening and speaking with voters to hear about their issues and priorities.”

She was recently endorsed by the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, Local 831 IBT, and also has the support of 21 in ’21.

Neng Wang, the former director of CPC’s Nan Shan Senior Center, has raised more than $65,000 for his campaign. That’s followed by John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and CB7 member, who has raised over $50,000.

Hailing Chen, an Uber driver, has raised nearly $34,000 and received $72,000 in matching funds.

Another new entrant in the race is Dao Yin, who made two failed attempts running for Queens borough president. He has raised nearly $11,000.

Lee leads the way in fundraising for District 23

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On Tuesday, we shared the most recent fundraising numbers in the District 19 race. This time, we’ll take a look at the numbers for the 10 candidates running in District 23.

Leading the pack is nonprofit executive and community board member Linda Lee, who raised $61,000, according to the Campaign Finance Board. She has met the qualifying threshold for matching funds, and is the first candidate in the race to do so.

According to Lee’s campaign, Lee received more than 400 donors, including over 140 from within the district. She launched her campaign some three months ago.

“I am grateful for the incredible outpouring of support from neighbors, friends and members of the community who want to see a new type of leader in Eastern Queens,” Lee said.

Organizer Jaslin Kaur, who is backed by DSA and the Working Families Party, raised $35,000. According to her Twitter feed, Kaur’s campaign has received a whopping 1,132 donors, including 947 unique donors. The average contribution was $37.

Community Board 2 District Manager Debra Markell is third in the race in terms of fundraising after raising $26,000. Community activist Harpreet Toor raised $19,000.

Other candidates in the race include Sanjeev Jindal with $16,500, Steve Behar with nearly $9,000 and Seth Breland with $6,000. Three other candidates have raised less than $1,000.

District 19 candidates announce fundraising numbers


The numbers are in!

With the primary for local elections just months away, candidates faced a fundraising deadline on January 15th, providing observers a look into just how much support donors have for their campaigns.

In northeast Queens’s District 19, City Council candidate Richard Lee has raised over $60,000 to date, and has earned $168,888 in matching funds. He leads the pack in fundraising so far.

Lee, who most recently served as budget director at Borough Hall, has 142 in-district contributions.

Earlier this month, Lee was endorsed by Congressman Tom Suozzi, who represents a portion of the district in Washington.

“Richard has the dedication and experience necessary to ensure all residents of the 19th District have a voice in City Hall,” Suozzi said.

Another candidate for District 19, Austin Shafran, announced that he raised more than $45,000 in just three months. He also has qualified for matching funds.

His January 15th filing includes nearly 350 individual donors, which includes local residents, civic association leaders, community board members, small business owners, seniors and more.

Shafran, who ran for the same City Council seat eight years ago, is a Bayside resident who has 15 years of government experience. For the past seven years, he’s been president of Metropolitan Public Strategies.

“I’m sincerely humbled by the outpouring of support for our campaign that will give us the deep resources needed to reach and mobilize voters across the district,” Shafran said.

Other candidates in this race include former Councilman and State Senator Tony Avella, who has raised $29,000 and received $84,000 in matching funds, CEC 26 President Adriana Aviles, who raised almost $11,000, KC Nabaraj, who has raised nearly $15,000, and former State Senate candidate Vickie Paladino, who has raised almost $18,000.

Little Neck man stole victims’ identities, went on buying spree


A 47-year-old man from Little Neck has been charged with grand larceny, identity theft and other crimes for allegedly stealing the identities of multiple victims and purchasing or leasing 11 cars between July 2019 and March 2020.

Yong “Jason” Jeon, 47, actively offered his services to non-English-speaking Koreans to help them buy or lease a car. According to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, he allegedly used their personal information as if his own, including their names, dates of birth and social security numbers.

Jeon drove off the lot with Kia cars, including Sorentos, Sedonas and Optimas. He collected nearly $60,000 in finder’s fees from the dealership that sold the cars.

According to the charges, in every purchase, Jeon forged the buyers’ signatures on documents.

If convicted of the crimes, Jeon faces between 3.5 to 7 years in prison.

“Using forged documents, fake identification and double-talk, this alleged conman swindled the car dealership out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Katz said. “The other victims are the seven individuals who had their personal information stolen, and in some instances, their credit ratings ruined.

“Many of the victims didn’t realize they had been conned until they received big bills in the mail for cars they didn’t purchase or lease,” she added.