Category: News

Sam For Cty Council: #siStrong #Together

Sam For Cty Council: #siStrong #Together

We are certainly living in some unprecedented times. People are afraid, people are tired, and no one knows what is going to happen next. This is just a reminder that no matter what, we will get through this #together. No matter what happens we have been blessed to live in America and sooner rather than later this will all be a memory. #siStrong

Sam T. Pirozzolo Statement On Closing School Due To Coronavirus

Sam T. Pirozzolo Statement On Closing School Due To Coronavirus Featured

March 13, 2020

I am calling for an immediate shutdown of NYC Public Schools.

As a former Community Education Council President for Staten Island I have helped guide parents and the Department of Education through some difficult times. None probably more notable than the PCB problem we had on Staten Island and in many city schools.

Now, with the Coronavirus, just like then, the Mayor and the Chancellor are dragging their feet and not acting in the best interests of our students, our parents, our teachers, and our school staff. It is simple to understand the fear our teachers have; basically, they are just like fish in a barrel, waiting for the Coronavirus to come to them. It’s not if our schools and staff begin to become infected – the infections have already begun. If we allow the Coronavirus to get a foothold in our schools then surely the virus will spread from student to student to teacher to administrator and throughout the city within days and weeks. Our healthcare centers may be overrun with asymptomatic patients. Closing our schools now may help keep our children and families safer and reduce future burdens on our healthcare facilities. In the end, while I do believe that fear will be our greatest adversary, I believe that our schools should be closed. If the mayor and chancellor wish to choose some school locations to remain open to operate as health centers for students, so be it, but to put an entire school system at risk for any other reason is senseless.

The governor and the mayor have already said that “Social Distancing” is a way to fight the spread of the Coronavirus and have put an end to all gatherings of over 500 people. Last time I checked, most NYC schools have more than 500 people. Why are our students, teachers, and parents being treated with such disregard?

Sam T. Pirozzolo

Vice President, NYC Parents Union

Candidate for City Council Staten Island

STATEN ISLANDERS:  TO SECEDE OR NOT TO SECEDE, THAT IS THE QUESTION

STATEN ISLANDERS: TO SECEDE OR NOT TO SECEDE, THAT IS THE QUESTION

By Sam Pirozzolo | Originally Posted on StatenIslander.org

To secede or not to secede, that is the question. Folks, if you don’t know now let me tell you, the secession movement is well underway. In the last nine years over one million residents, many of them your family, friends, and neighbors, have fled the tri state area, no group faster than retirees with city pensions. Companies like IBM, GE, and Westinghouse have led the charge of businesses who have run for the hills. Even Amazon, run by the ultra-liberal billionaire Jeff Bezos was run out of town before he even put a shovel in the cold Queens dirt.

Yes, secession is all around us. That’s why it was only a matter of time before secession reared its head in the forgotten borough of Staten Island. This is why I created the website www.STexit.nyc where you can go to read the documents from the attempted secession of 1993, participate in surveys, have your voice heard in forums, and participate in this most important conversation. I look forward to this site, and my Facebook page STexit Staten Island to provide all Staten Islanders an opportunity to participate.

Stexit. Image Credit: Peter Miller, Photography; Artwork and Text, Staten Islander

Stexit. Image Credit: Peter Miller, Photography; Artwork and Text, Staten Islander

Is secession right for Staten Island? No one can say with any degree of certainty at this point. But for my money, for my instinct, I say commonsense dictates it is likely the right move for Staten Island residents. Is there a no more commonsense reason to believe that we are the forgotten borough then because we are, in fact, the forgotten borough? People are very smart, and they know when they are getting shortchanged and Staten Island is getting short changed. Have you ever heard one of our elected politicians tell us that we have gotten more than our fair share? No, you haven’t, because they stand in unison with the shortchanged theory.

There are commonsense reasons to believe that secession would bring prosperity and a better quality of life to Staten Island. First, we have the second highest per capita income in NYC, just short of Manhattan. Unlike Manhattan, with so many of the ultra-rich, our middle-class taxpayers likely pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. Commonsense says we should see no proportionate loss of income tax revenue if we taxed at the same rate as NYC. The same goes for sales tax revenues. If we have a high per capita income, is it reasonable to think we spend higher amounts than other boroughs? And those property taxes – do you know that Staten Island and the Bronx pay a disproportionate rate of tax to value as compared to the rest of the city? From an income standpoint, we should do just fine.

What about expenditures? Staten Island has 6.5% of the population, but thankfully our crime rate is so low we only have about 3% of the police. I’m betting that most city services are the similar. Except, we probably have far fewer NYPD traffic cops who direct traffic. I’ll go out on a limb and guess we have less than one percent of these employees. I’m sure Staten Islanders are paying for a lot of them to direct Manhattan traffic. Don’t even get me started about our woeful road conditions or the failure of our transit system that gives us one of the highest commute times in the nation.

But alas, the Naysayers are out in full force with unsubstantiated scare tactics. One of their favorite unverified cries is, “Our property tax will double.” That surely strikes fear into the heart of Staten Islanders, where the largest percentage of residents own their homes. However, to cry our taxes will double doesn’t make it true. Unfortunately, as city residents we are once again second-class citizens in our own homes. Several years ago, NY State passed a law that says property taxes are capped at a 2% increase per year. Unfortunately, as NYC residents, we were excluded from this property tax cap. So, leaving NYC would actually include us – for once- in this benefit. So, under existing state law our property taxes can’t just double, unless you are projecting a doubling over decades.

Should we do anything this important just because commonsense says we should? Of course not, but should we ignore commonsense? Don’t be silly. If you’ve read this far then you are probably one of the Staten Island residents who don’t want to move, or maybe simply can’t flee like so many of our friends and neighbors. That’s why now it is so important to bring every Staten Islander to the table – to do the math – and formulate the best plan to break free from a city that has at the very least, convinced us that we are getting the short end of the stick. Or, maybe it’s the time, we were educated that we have it better than we think, we should remain the forgotten borough and just be quiet. The point is, its facts, education, and reality that should guide our decision not fearmongering, hyperbole, hearsay.

Sam Pirozzolo is a native Staten Islander. Sam and his wife just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary, and have two beautiful children who attended both public schools, and were home-schooled. He is running for City Councilman position to succeed Steven Matteo.

Read the article on StatenIslander.org at http://statenislander.org/2019/12/11/staten-islanders-to-secede-or-not-to-secede-that-is-the-question/

NY Post:  GDP in NYC’s outer boroughs leads state in economic output

NY Post: GDP in NYC’s outer boroughs leads state in economic output

By Carl Campanile | December 12, 2019

New York City is booming, with the outer boroughs leading all counties in the Empire State for increased economic activity and production, according to new federal data released Thursday.

Staten Island ranked first in the state’s 62 counties for the amount that its gross domestic product shot up between 2017 and 2018, 7.8%, from $13.46 billion to $14.5 billion, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The Bronx is also surging, as its GDP rose 7.2% from $39.8 billion to $42.7 billion.

Brooklyn ranked third in the whole state, with its economy also expanding by more than 7%, from $85.4 billion to $91.5 billion.

The Queens economy came in fourth New York state, with its GDP increasing 5.9%, from $88.1 billion to $93.3 billion.

Manhattan — whose economy is larger than most countries — contracted slightly, with its GDP falling from $601.46 billion to $600.2 billion — .2%.

By comparison, the overall New York state GDP increase was a modest 1.2%, 46th among all states in the country.

Turbo-charged Staten Island is adding even more businesses and jobs this year and into the future with a rezoning of the North Shore waterfront that has led to the opening of the city’s first mega-retail outlet, Empire Outlets, and dozens of restaurants along the Bay Street corridor, said Leticia Remauro, secretary of Staten Island Downtown Alliance.

The figures for last year also don’t fully take into account the massive Amazon distribution center that opened in the borough.

“Staten Island is moving in the right direction. The Staten Island retail sector is strong. Fewer people are driving off the island to New Jersey shop,” Remauro said.

She said higher housing costs in Manhattan are also keeping more of the borough’s younger residents staying put on the island — and spending money there.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said the figures show the city’s poorest borough has turned a corner. His office rattled off a list of new and expanded businesses — The Great Performances catering company, Bronx Kreate Space, a new bookstore called Lit Bar and Claudys Gourmet.

“The Bronx is thriving, and the rest of the world is taking notice,” Diaz Jr. said.

EJ McMahon, an analyst with the Empire Center for Public Policy, said there’s no doubt that New York City has been “the leading edge and growth spot in the New York State economy for some time.”

“The growth is hotter in New York City, and it diminishes upstate,” he said.

But McMahon had one big caveat. He said a deeper look into the numbers shows that much of the increase activity in the outer boroughs was attributable to spending by government entities, not the private sector. The GDP measures all economic activity that includes payroll and purchasing spending by the government as well as private firms, he noted.

“This shows our agenda is working. We’re building up communities too long forgotten and putting money back into the hands of working people,” de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said in a statement.

Read the article on the NY Post website at https://nypost.com/2019/12/12/gdp-in-nycs-outer-boroughs-leads-state-in-economic-output/

Staten Island Advance: Borelli, Matteo vow to push secession through despite potential opposition

Staten Island Advance: Borelli, Matteo vow to push secession through despite potential opposition

By Sydney Kashiwagi | December 10, 2019

CITY HALL — After weeks of Island secession talk, Councilmen Joe Borelli and Steven Matteo formally unveiled legislation Tuesday that would put together a task force to study whether Staten Island can secede from New York City.

Though it’s unclear where the more than four dozen other City Council members stand on secession, at least two members don’t seem to be on board with the effort.

One is North Shore Councilwoman Debi Rose, a Democrat, who said she was not invited to sign on as a co-sponsor on the legislation and does not support the prospect of Staten Island seceding from New York City nor Borelli’s bill to study it.

Another is City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, an ally of Councilwoman Rose in the running for mayor, who said he is undecided on whether studying secession is a good idea just yet.

Johnson made it clear to reporters Tuesday he thinks Staten Island leaving the rest of the city is a bad idea. He said he would be willing to talk to the rest of the Island’s City Council delegation about the effort before saying whether he supports studying secession.

CORY JOHNSON: ‘I THINK IT WOULD BE SAD’

“I think it would be really sad if [secession] ultimately happened,” Johnson said. “ I haven’t thought through enough the politics of how this would all happen in the state Legislature and with the home rule and all of that, but I wouldn’t want to see Staten Island leave the city,” Johnson said. “We’re a city of five boroughs and I want us to stay that way.”

“I don’t live on Staten Island, so I don’t want to pretend I could speak to those issues or pretend that I know all of the feelings that people there might have,” Johnson continued when asked whether he thought Staten Islanders had valid concerns to want to leave the rest of the city. “But I think it would be a real travesty to lose a really wonderful and important borough as part of our entire city.”

Councilwoman Rose has not commented on why she is opposed to secession, but Borelli has said he wants her to join in and support his legislation.

The South Shore councilman said he’s not concerned his push to secede could be stymied if Johnson is not on board.

Instead, Borelli said he is looking forward to having a discussion about the effort with the speaker and would push forward with secession until he is term-limited out of office come 2025.

“I have a maximum of six years in the City Council, I will carry this bill through the rest of this term, I’ll carry it in the next term and as long as I have the ability, I will try to do,” Borelli said.

“Staten Islanders complain to me very accurately and precisely about problems they face and unfortunately, even as a City Council member, I don’t have the authority and power to actually solve some of them. If we secede, we would have the power to solve some of those problems,” Borelli continued.

ISLAND’S FIRST ATTEMPT

Staten Islanders voted overwhelmingly in the 1990s for a secession study and later a non-binding referendum to secede from New York City.

The state Senate also approved a secession bill then, but former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refused to allow a similar measure to be voted on in the Assembly without a “home rule message” from New York City.

Home rule messages are official requests the City Council makes of the New York State Legislature to pass special laws that affect New York City.

Borelli has said seceding would require a home rule approval from the city and the state would need to be on board too because only the state Legislature can form or abolish a county.

Asked if he thought a home rule message was needed today, Johnson said it was “far too early” to say, noting the public would still need to weigh in on secession and a debate would still need to take place on it in the state Legislature.

MAYOR CALLS IT ‘POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM’

Mayor Bill de Blasio is vehemently opposed to the Island seceding from the rest of the city and thinks the current effort is no more than an example of “political opportunism.”

It’s also unclear how far Borelli’s effort will get in the state Legislature.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican, is the only top leader in the state Legislature who has agreed to weigh in on Staten Island secession. He said he would be willing to entertain the idea if it comes to the Assembly floor.

“Councilman Borelli knows his community and constituents better than anyone. If this measure was brought to the Assembly floor, I’d certainly be giving it a closer look and keeping an open mind,” Kolb said “The legislative process, including whether or not a home rule message is deemed necessary, is controlled by the majority. Ultimately, the future of Staten Island should be decided by Staten Island voters.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the offices of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate’s Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Minority Leader state Sen. John Flanagan have all either not returned requests for comment on whether they support secession or have declined to say where they stand.

Borelli and Matteo’s bill is now to the City Council’s Committee on Government Operations where it will be heard.

Staten Island Advance:  Borelli, Matteo to introduce Staten Island secession bill Tuesday; Debi Rose opposed to bill and push for borough to secede

Staten Island Advance: Borelli, Matteo to introduce Staten Island secession bill Tuesday; Debi Rose opposed to bill and push for borough to secede

By Sydney Kashiwagi | skashiwagi@siadvance.com | December 9, 2019

STATEN ISLAND — Councilman Joe Borelli will formally introduce legislation in the City Council Tuesday that would put together a task force to study whether Staten Island could secede from New York City.

The bill is being co-sponsored by fellow Island Councilman Minority Leader Steven Matteo (R-Mid Island) and Borelli says other Island leaders like Borough President James Oddo also support the legislation.

But the legislation is moving forward without the support of fellow Island City Councilmember Debi Rose (D-North Shore), whose office says was not contacted by Borelli to sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill and does not support his legislation nor the prospect of Staten Island seceding.

However, she could not immediately be reached to elaborate on why she is opposed to Staten Island secession.

Under Borelli’s legislation, the secession task force would be comprised of the borough presidents of every borough, the chair of the city’s Planning Commission, the comptroller, the school’s chancellor, the commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management, the Staten Island borough commissioner for the Department of Transportation and representatives from all of the Island’s community boards.

Borelli said the commission would then have 18 months to put together data showing the “impact and viability” of secession and then pitch their findings to the City Council.

“I am introducing this legislation (Tuesday) to get the process started and take the first step toward a true, thorough, and open assessment that the people of Staten Island and New York City can use as a blueprint for making an informed decision on any future ballot proposals for Staten Island to become an independent city,” Borelli said.

“With nearly 500,000 residents, Staten Island would be the second largest city in New York, at about double the size of the third largest, Buffalo. We are on the short end of any net positives coming out of city hall like major infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, fast ferries, and subways, and we almost always represent a disproportionate share of generating revenue for New York City. Maybe it’s time that we make a serious effort to distance ourselves from city hall and to put Staten Island first,” Borelli continued.

Borelli and Matteo are the only Council members who support the bill in the City Council so far and the South Shore councilman says he has not yet asked other Council members outside of Staten Island to support the legislation.

SOME REMAIN SKEPTICAL

Though Borelli is optimistic about his secession push and says other Island lawmakers have expressed interest in the endeavor in private, some who studied secession nearly 30 years ago have been skeptical about whether his efforts will actually go anywhere.

Staten Island tried to secede from New York City in 1989, in an effort that was led by Republican Sen. John J. Marchi.

That year, the state Legislature passed a measure signed by then Gov. Mario Cuomo authorizing a study and initiating the process for Staten Island to secede from New York City on the last day of its legislative session.

Staten Islanders voted overwhelmingly in favor — 83 percent — of a secession study and by 1991, Cuomo swore in a New York State Charter Commission for Staten Island.

Two years later, in 1993, Staten Islanders approved — 65 percent — a non-binding referendum to secede from New York City and the state Senate also approved a secession bill.

But those efforts came to a halt when former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refused to allow a similar measure to be voted on in the Assembly without a “home rule message” from New York City.

The city never held a secession vote and the measure for Staten Island to secede died in committee.

It’s still unclear whether Borelli’s secession push today will get anywhere.

Similar to the decades-old fight, Borelli said seceding would require a home rule approval from the city and the state would need to be on board too because only the state legislature can form or abolish a county.

MAYOR IS OPPOSED

Mayor Bill de Blasio is vehemently opposed to the Island seceding from the rest of the city and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson has left little doubt that he would oppose secession efforts.

Last month, the offices of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the state the Senate’s Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins both declined to comment on whether they supported secession.

And the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo was reached but did not provide comment on where the governor stood either.

“Secession is a complicated undertaking and any talk of moving forward must first begin with the need to fully understand the costs and consequences. Empaneling a task force to study this issue can help inform us whether this is feasible and give us a more comprehensive picture of what an independent Staten Island may look like,” said Matteo.

Read the article on the Staten Island Advance website at https://www.silive.com/news/2019/12/borelli-matteo-to-introduce-staten-island-secession-bill-tuesday-debi-rose-opposed-to-bill-and-push-for-borough-to-secede.html

Staten Island Advance:  Assemblyman Reilly: ‘Staten Island should be part of upstate’

Staten Island Advance: Assemblyman Reilly: ‘Staten Island should be part of upstate’

By Tracey Porpora | porpora@siadvance.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) wants to see Staten Island separate from the Big Apple and become part of upstate New York.

Reilly told the Advance he would like Staten Island to become part of the upstate region via Divide NY, a plan introduced last year by Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-East Aurora). The plan seeks to divide the state into three regions: New York City; New Amsterdam, all of upstate New York, and Montauk, which would include Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland counties.

“I had a conversation with Assemblyman DiPietro, and I think Staten Island would better align with the New Amsterdam region as opposed to remaining part of New York City,” said Reilly.

“The New Amsterdam region would allow for some economic development. The government model from upstate would better align with the values of Staten Island,” he added.

Reilly said that since Staten Island lacks large-scale public transportation the rest of New York City has, the borough has more in common with the upstate region.

“This is just the exploratory phase. There is a lot we’d have to evaluate to see if this would actually work for us,” he said. “We have to make sure it’s beneficial for us to leave New York City.”

STATEN ISLAND SECESSION MOVEMENT

Reilly’s proposal comes on the heels of a movement spurred by Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore) for Staten Island to secede from New York City.

Nearly 30 years after Staten Island leaders fought exhaustively to secede from New York City, Borelli plans to revive that fight again.

In a borough that makes up just 6% of New York City’s population with only three City Council representatives on the 51-member legislative body to serve as a check on the mayor, who controls virtually all city services, Borelli says that in reality, Staten Island leaders have little to no power to effectively deliver city services to the borough.

He wants to change that system.

“The city is 8.5 million people, we have a population the size of Austria, we have a budget the size of Ireland, we have more police officers in uniform then there are people in the entire Royal Navy … all of this stuff is governed by one human,” said Borelli to the Advance last month. “That is atypical in the United States of America.”

Read the article on the Staten Island Advance website at https://www.silive.com/news/2019/12/assemblyman-reilly-staten-island-should-be-part-of-upstate.html

NY Post:  Staten Island pols are sick of liberal NYC and want to join upstate

NY Post: Staten Island pols are sick of liberal NYC and want to join upstate


By Rachel O’Brien | December 7, 2019 | 6:20pm 

Staten Island is so desperate to leave New York City that it may join upstate.

Republican Assemblyman Michael Reilly is sick of New York City’s high taxes and liberal policies and is hoping the northernmost reaches of the Empire State would annex Staten Island as part of an existing proposal to divide the state into three regions.

The far-fetched plan sponsored by Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-East Aurora), dubbed Divide NY, would split the state into three regions: New York City; “Montauk,” containing Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland counties; and “New Amsterdam” for all of upstate.

Reilly would like to amend the bill to get the Island out of the Big Apple.

“In my personal view, I’m leaning toward going up to New Amsterdam,” he told The Post. “I don’t think we would align with the Montauk region.”

The Post previously reported that DiPietro’s plan that would create independent regions, each with their own governor and legislature, running their own schools and setting taxes.

This comes on the heels of a Staten Island secession proposal by Republican Councilman Joe Borelli and about 30 years after 65 percent of red borough residents actually voted to leave NYC in a referendum. The movement went dormant when then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver prevented it from moving forward without a City Council “home rule message.”

Reilly’s Staten Island colleague, Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, said she supports exploring secession, but doesn’t want to join upstate.

“They don’t have the economy to support themselves … because of policies put in place by the Democratic-controlled legislature,” she said.

Sam Pirozzolo, a Republican running for City Council, is surveying his fellow Staten Islanders to gauge secession support and wants people to seriously consider joining upstate.

The Republican-backed Divide NY bill is likely to be killed in the Democrat-controlled state legislature.

Read the article on the NY Post website at https://nypost.com/2019/12/07/staten-island-pols-are-sick-of-liberal-nyc-and-want-to-join-upstate/


NY1:  Calls Grow for Added Security at Staten Island Mall (Video)

NY1: Calls Grow for Added Security at Staten Island Mall (Video)

BY AMANDA FARINACCI | STATEN ISLAND
PUBLISHED NOV. 19, 2019

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – The Christmas tree is lit — a festive reminder to shoppers that the busy holiday shopping season is already underway. But it wasn’t bargains that drew residents to the Staten Island mall Monday night. It was something else entirely— security at the massive retail space.

“We want mall security and the mall and Brookfield properties to understand that this is a serious issue,” said Kelly McLoughlin, a shopper.

McLoughlin says she and her wife, Carmen Velasquez, were walking outside the mall last Monday night when a group of young people shouted at her and poked fun at McLoughlin’s weight. When Velasquez questioned why they were being disrespectful, she says she was quickly surrounded by the group – seen in a Facebook video – and taunted, spit on and cursed at.

“I couldn’t believe what was going on. I couldn’t believe what was going on. I thought I was imagining things. There were no police around there was no security; my wife had to flag the police, the security around. He didn’t care,” Velasquez said.

The incident is the latest black eye for the newly expanded mall, which has been the scene of several violent incidents this year.  

This summer, several young girls were attacked by other teenagers. The NYPD increased patrols then – and several months passed without report of another incident. But Monday night, residents were back outside the mall again, urging the malls management company to increase security permanently to prevent these attacks from happening.  

“No one can stop children from behaving badly. We have to kind of divert that. But there has to be a police presence. It’s time we have police presence at the mall,” said Sam Pirrozzolo, an activist.

Pirrozzolo led a group of residents inside the mall to deliver a letter, urging mall tenants to ask mall management to make the space safer. In a statement, Brookfield properties blamed the incidents on unruly kids saying, “We are aware of the concerns and can assure the community we are taking this very seriously. We are disheartened that these young people from Staten Island are using our center as a location for their  terrible  behavior.”

It continues “Our center is working diligently to implement additional security measures and are meeting regularly with our partners at NYPD.” 

Residents say they’ve spoken with the mall‘s management company, Brookfield Properties Group, to set up a meeting to discuss next steps. It’s unclear when that meeting will take place.  

Watch the video and read the article online at NY1.com at https://www.ny1.com/nyc/staten-island/news/2019/11/19/staten-island-mall-security#

Staten Island Advance:  Rally held at Staten Island Mall in wake of violent encounter

Staten Island Advance: Rally held at Staten Island Mall in wake of violent encounter

By Joseph Ostapiuk  | Updated Nov 18, 2019

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A rally was held at the Staten Island Mall Monday night in the wake of a frightening encounter with a group of teenagers that left two women badly shaken — the latest incident after a string of alleged assaults at the location caused police to ramp-up their presence last summer.

Despite the NYPD’s increased presence in the immediate aftermath of the summer attacks, protestors on Monday said they felt that security at the mall is still a profoundly concerning issue and they believed that the most recent incident indicated that not enough is being done to protect shoppers.

Kelly McLoughlin, who was a victim of the Nov. 11 incident in which a group of about 10 teenagers threw items, shouted profanities and spit at McLoughlin and her two friends, said the rally’s purpose was to “make sure that nobody gets hurt again.”

Attended by over a dozen people, the rally was initially held in the courtyard of the mall, where a significant police presence grew, comprising multiple NYPD vehicles, a K-9 unit and mall security. One attendee said the security was “very intimidating.”

“I feel like I’m the criminal,” she said.

McGloughlin echoed that sentiment. “This doesn’t surprise me because it’s the mall trying to make us the villain,” she said. “We’re not the villain. We’re here for your family. We’re here for everybody’s family.”

Sam Pirozzolo, the Staten Islander infamous for erecting a 16-foot-tall wooden Trump “T” and a current City Council hopeful — who was integral in organizing the rally — said he’s been in contact with Brookfield Properties Group, which owns the Staten Island Mall, in an effort to create a security plan moving forward.

However, Pirozzolo said he hoped the rally “wouldn’t be met with this presence,” referencing the number of officers who stood outside the entrance to the mall Monday night.

“It’s a shame that that presence is here for people who’ve been attacked, yet after people get attacked and there are criminals that are still on the premises, there is no police presence,” Pirozzolo said.

“Not only is there no police presence, the mall security doesn’t want to do anything,” Pirozzolo added. “This is backward to the way security is supposed to be.”

“It appears that Brookfield Properties Group and the security at the Staten Island Mall do not seem interested in keeping your shoppers safe,” said Protect Our Kids, a victim advocacy group which also organized the rally, in a release.

Lindsay Kahn, a senior manager of public relations for Brookfield Properties Group, said in a statement that the company takes the community’s concerns “very seriously.”

“We are disheartened that these young people from Staten Island are using our center as a location for their terrible behavior,” the statement said. “We have spoken directly with the organizers of tonight’s gathering and our local officials about possible solutions for this community problem. Our center is working diligently to implement additional security measures and are meeting regularly with our partners at NYPD.”

“We will not discuss our security program publicly because to do so would compromise its effectiveness,” the statement continued. “There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our customers and retailers and we maintain a strict code of conduct that is enforced at all times.”

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment regarding the department’s response.

Minority Leader Steven Matteo tweeted on Monday that he has “had ongoing discussions with the Mall in regard to their security plan.”

According to Matteo, management from the mall said that it continues to augment and transform its security program, including efforts to increase security staffing and K-9 patrol in the mall during after-school hours, evenings and holidays, among other initiatives.

“Everyone who visits and shops at the Mall should be safe and I will continue to have discussions with Mall Management,” Matteo tweeted.

The rally moved inside the mall shortly after 6:30 p.m., and protestors then handed out fliers to managers of retail venues, imploring that they “join the shoppers of Staten Island in demanding a significant improvement in security, public relations and a permanent police presence at the mall.”

Multiple participants said they were met with support from managers inside the stores.

Joseph “Joey Salads” Saladino — a pro-Trump congressional candidate who attended the rally, said: “I think the mall security needs to tighten up, especially during the holiday season.” He stressed the importance of being able “to ensure the people that they can come and they can shop in peace and not have to worry about people starting trouble.”

While Pirozzolo and other protesters are confident that the mall management will work to increase police presence during the holiday season, there are concerns that it will diminish after the heavy-shopping period ends.

To combat the possible de-escalation of security, Pirozzolo said he intends to continue to extend community-driven efforts.

Pirozzolo said Brookfield Property intends to create a task force in early December to brainstorm solutions to the problems that have recently plagued the location.

“Now is the time for our voices to be heard,” he said.

Read the article on the Staten Island Advance website at https://www.silive.com/news/2019/11/rally-held-at-staten-island-mall-in-wake-of-violent-encounter.html