Category: Sam In The News

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/

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

THE CITY:  STATEN ISLANDER BEHIND 16-FOOT ‘T’ FOR TRUMP SIGN RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL

THE CITY: STATEN ISLANDER BEHIND 16-FOOT ‘T’ FOR TRUMP SIGN RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL

By Clifford Michel | October 31, 2019

Staten Island resident Sam Pirozzolo went viral in 2016 after erecting a giant sign supporting then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Staten Island resident Sam Pirozzolo went viral in 2016 after erecting a giant sign supporting then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Photo: Nicholas Rizzi/DNAinfo

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The Staten Islander who planted a towering “T” on his lawn during the 2016 presidential campaign to show his support for Donald Trump is now looking to get his own name out to voters.

Sam Pirozzolo is running as a Republican for City Council, looking to succeed Steven Matteo (R-Staten Island), who is term-limited at the end of 2021 and eyeing a campaign for borough president.

“I’m not ‘making New York City great again,’ but I will not back away from Donald Trump like every other politician on Staten Island when it’s convenient for them,” Pirozzolo said.

Pirozzolo gained national notoriety after hiring a local artist to create the 12-foot-high letter T, emblazoned with stars and stripes, which turned into a lightning rod as the race between Trump and Hillary Clinton heated up.

An unknown arsonist burned down the capital letter in August 2016. When Pirozzolo reconstructed the T — upsized to 16 feet — the city Department of Buildings fined him $2,400 and demanded he take it down.

Optician Sees a Need

Now the 55-year-old optician, who has a shop in Astoria, Queens, wants to join Trump in assuming political power. The Castleton Corners resident says his race is about “bringing common sense, not nonsense, back to city politics.”

He’s running on an old-school conservative platform he says is a necessary counterweight to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who “does not govern New York City.”

Rattling off his priorities, he says: “I’m in favor of lower taxes. I’m in favor of lower unemployment.”

Sam Pirozzolo works in his Castleton Corners home on Oct. 30, 2019.

Sam Pirozzolo works in his Castleton Corners home on Oct. 30, 2019. Photo: Clifford Michel/THE CITY

This is not the first political foray for Pirozzolo, who filed paperwork in August for his Council run and hired a Social Impact Strategies, a political consulting firm.

He campaigned unsuccessfully against Assemblymember Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) in 2012, garnering about 40% of the vote in the general election.

Pirozzolo may have a better shot at the mid-Island City Council seat, which has been consistently occupied by Republicans.

Also seeking GOP voters’ support for a 2021 primary is George Wonica, a realtor and registered Conservative who plans to run for both the Conservative and Republican ballot lines.

“That’s fine,” Pirozzolo said. “Primaries are healthy.”

Suing for Schools

“T” also happens to be Pirrozolo’s middle initial, for Thomas — and sure enough, an image of his iconic red, white and blue lawn sign features prominently on his website and in campaign literature.

“This man has just done tremendous things,” he said of the president. “Staten Island was pro-Trump, so it would be foolish for anybody to think that opposing Trump in a Republican run for office is the way to go.”

During an interview with THE CITY Tuesday, Pirozzolo said he wanted to be a check on the mayor and the City Council’s progressive policies. He’s opposed to politicians receiving pensions and pondered whether Gracie Mansion would be better used as a homeless shelter.

He railed against Council attempts to rein in single-use plastic straws, and said the city has slid back in dealing with homelessnes. As for the mayor, Pirozzolo sees de Blasio as too hostile to the NYPD and too cozy with the United Federation of Teachers.

“The quality of life for the New Yorkers in the lower income segments has diminished terribly under the de Blasio administration,” said Pirozzolo.

Pirozzolo served for seven years as president of Staten Island’s Community Education Council, an advisory body to the city Department of Education.

At the CEC, he called for buzzer entry systems at the main entrance of all public schools and successfully petitioned the city Education Department to put gifted-and-talented classes in Staten Island middle schools.

A ‘Feeling of Community’

As vice president of the grassroots New York City Parents Union, he’s a plaintiff in two lawsuits: Davids v. State of New York, which challenges teacher tenure laws; and New Yorkers for Students’ Educational Rights v. State of New York, which seeks to compel the state to release additional funds to New York City schools.

“I have already accomplished in my professional career and in education, what other candidates would be talking about wanting to do,” said Pirozzolo.

The small business owner said he wants to bring “kitchen table” issues back to city politics, such as paving roads, expanding transportation options and reducing property taxes. He’s already advertising a local phone number where he takes calls from voters directly.

“I want Staten Island to remain a nice place to live for my children and my grandchildren,” said Pirozzolo, a lifelong Staten Islander. “I want to preserve that special feeling of community.”

Read the article on TheCity website at https://thecity.nyc/2019/10/staten-islander-behind-t-for-trump-sign-running-for-council.html

Staten Island Advance:  Infamous ‘T’ Trump sign homeowner running for Matteo’s City Council seat, wants to move council offices to NYCHA complexes

Staten Island Advance: Infamous ‘T’ Trump sign homeowner running for Matteo’s City Council seat, wants to move council offices to NYCHA complexes

By Sydney Kashiwagi | November 1, 2019

STATEN ISLAND — Sam Pirozzolo, the Staten Islander infamous for erecting a 16-foot-tall wooden “T” on his lawn to show his support for President Donald Trump in 2016, is running for Councilman Steven Matteo soon-to-be-vacant City Council seat.

Pirozzolo’s entrance into the Mid-Island City Council race makes him the second candidate to try to claim Matteo’s seat, which he will be term-limited out of come 2021.

The Castleton Corners resident, who is running as a Republican, will face off against longtime Island realtor George S. Wonica, a Conservative, in a 2021 primary race. Wonica plans to run on both the Conservative and Republican lines.

This isn’t the first time Pirozzolo has run for office. He ran unsuccessfully against Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid Island) in 2012.

Pirozzolo, an optician who owns his own business in Astoria, Queens, and former president of the Community Education Council, said he is running for Matteo’s City Council seat because he wants to restore “common sense” back into government and keep the Island “a nice family community” and prevent it from changing.

“A lot of times, I think the priorities of the mayor and the City Council … are just to get talking points and score political points for progressiveness and not necessarily in the best interest of their constituents,” Pirozzolo.

Pirozzolo said he is not concerned that his affiliation to Trump could impact his campaign in the historically Republican City Council district.

In 2016, the city’s Department of Buildings hit Pirozzolo with a $2,400 fine to take the T sign down days after the Trump T was resurrected after being burned down.

Though he declined to say whether he planned to vote for Trump again in 2020, he said he remains a supporter of the president.

“I remain a supporter of the president and I support his policies,” he said. “From what I see, right now, I don’t think there’s a reason why anyone would not be able to vote for Donald Trump for re-election.”

“Unlike other politicians who say ‘I support Trump,’ but when it’s convenient to say, ‘I don’t Trump,’ that’s not me,” he continued. “I support a lot of the policies that Trump has initiated and good, bad, or indifferent, for what happens to him in the future, they were still good policies, I’m not running away from Trump.”

Pirozzolo said if elected he wants to work on transportation, creating more jobs, creating better schools and lowering taxes.

He also said he wants to call for the district offices of City Council members to reside in NYCHA complexes in their districts.

“I think the entitlement that elected people get is wrong, I think that they should see how people in their district live, what it’s like to live in a NYCHA complex,” he said. “I think by their presence, there would probably be a greater police presence and I think that people in some NYCHA buildings would enjoy a greater police presence, I think they would be happy that a councilman says ‘I’m going to live like you…let me see how you live, what can we do to make your life better.’”

Correction: A previous version of this story said Pirozzolo was from Randall Manor, however, he is from Castleton Corners and lives on Manor Road.

Read the article on the Staten Island Advance website at https://www.silive.com/news/2019/11/infamous-t-trump-sign-homeowner-running-for-matteos-city-council-seat-wants-to-move-council-offices-to-nycha-complexes.html

NY Post Op-Ed:  De Blasio’s misrule of NYC’s schools must end

NY Post Op-Ed: De Blasio’s misrule of NYC’s schools must end

By Sam Pirozzolo | May 18, 2016 

Once again it’s time for the state Legislature to make a decision about mayoral control of the schools. Should Mayor de Blasio have complete control over New York City public education?

His term so far would suggest the answer is an emphatic “No.”

Right now, as the kids in our many struggling schools can attest, we simply don’t have a steady hand on the tiller of our educational system. And it’s not as though de Blasio is merely a steward of a substandard status quo. The quality of education in New York has deteriorated on his watch.

Right now the de Blasio administration is being rocked by fraud and corruption accusations.

And consider the mayor’s cozy relationship with Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers — and the fact that the union made a $350,000 “contribution” to the mayor’s slush fund and wound up with a sweetheart teacher contract that in effect erased many educational and contractual gains of the previous administration.

In addition, de Blasio has shown himself to be untrustworthy. Take, for example, the recent cover-up of weapons found in New York public schools. In the last 10 months, School Safety agents have confiscated over 1,700 weapons.

These include loaded handguns, knives, stun guns, boxcutters, a meat cleaver and so much more.

Plus, where’s the teachers union? Why aren’t teachers demanding safer schools? Thankfully a group of parents has sued the city in an effort to get a safer school environment for our students, teachers and school workers.

Recently, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña boasted that she visits at least six schools a day and she always feels safe. Excuse us while we stifle a belly-laugh. Heck, if I traveled with the chancellor’s entourage we’d feel safe too!

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says, “The reason we are finding more weapons is because we are doing a better job.” Sorry sir, the reason there are more weapons is because there are insufficient consequences for students who bring them.

During recent testimony in Albany, both de Blasio and Fariña painted a wonderful picture of a public-school system flourishing under mayoral control. I don’t know which school system that is, but it sounds great. We wish New York City had one like it.

Now, we’ll admit we do have many great teachers who love our children, but the mayor and chancellor aren’t spinning here. They’re simply fabricating a make-believe world.

Start with the fact that about 70 percent of our students can’t read, write or do math at grade level. Yet Fariña and de Blasio boast about improved test scores and high-school graduation rates. They conveniently forget to mention that more than half of graduating high-school seniors can’t do college work until they pass remedial classes, which they must now pay for.

They forget to mention that de Blasio has abused mayoral control by creating a “credit recovery” scheme whereby high-school students are given credits toward graduation for attendance and a demonstrated ability to use proper punctuation, among many other nonaccredited methods.

In essence, under de Blasio’s mayoral control we’ve been giving away free high-school diplomas just to make his numbers look good.

To top it off, de Blasio denied state-approved funding for pre-K students to city charter schools. That’s right, the mayor’s willing to hinder his own pre-K initiative because he doesn’t like any charter schools that refuse to be bullied by the mayor.

It’s well past time to say, “Enough is enough.” De Blasio shouldn’t be given the continued opportunities to set back our children’s education. At least for now, with this mayor, mayoral control must come to an end.

Sam Pirozzolo is a Staten Island parent and vice president of the New York City Parents Union. Mona Davids is founder and president of the NYC Parents Union.

Read Sam’s op-ed on the NY Post website at https://nypost.com/2016/05/18/de-blasios-misrule-of-nycs-schools-must-end/

NY Post Op-Ed:  How to fix New York City’s corrupt schools

NY Post Op-Ed: How to fix New York City’s corrupt schools

By Sam Pirozzolo | August 10, 2015 

In New York City, the mayor has substantial control over all aspects of public education.

Sadly, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have proved to be unequal to the task, as we’re learning with the ongoing revelations of the city’s burgeoning diploma scam.

In response, the globetrotting mayor has abandoned the rudderless ship in the midst of a hurricane and left his like-minded comrades in charge with orders to toss the children overboard.

Recently Fariña touted a new contract with the United Federation of Teachers. This was supposed to be a turning point for education in NYC — and indeed it was.

For example, a program called 37-and-a-half minutes, which in a previous contract increased the time teachers spent in front of students, was eliminated. Through recent contract negotiations it was decided to eliminate instruction time. The result has meant teachers now have even less time in front of the students.

I guess there was no evidence that increasing a student’s time in front of a teacher had proved beneficial.

Yet when de Blasio touted his renewal-schools program, a program designed to prevent a state takeover of 94 of NYC’s lowest-preforming schools, one of the key elements was: “Creating extended learning time — an extra hour added to the school day to give all students additional instructional time.”

Ahem, didn’t he just negotiate a contract that reduced instructional time?

Years ago, I was vehemently opposed to the opening of charter schools. I pleaded in my writings and conversations with the DOE and the UFT to please work together to limit the growth of charter schools.

I feared that if charter schools were allowed to flourish, the New York City public-school system would inevitably become the largest reform-school system in the world because any parent who desired a good future for their children would take their children out of the failing schools and put them in charter schools.

I was wrong about charter schools. There are, of course, a few bad apples, but I now see them as the best way for many parents to save the lives — and the futures — of their children.

The real question, however, is how do we begin to repair a public-education system that’s corrupt to its core? I believe the solution lies with the mandated inclusion of “independent” parent groups like the New York City Parents Union.

Much like our police department’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Department of Education must be required to have independent parents work together with the chancellor and the unions to create a learning environment that is beneficial to all.

Parents must legally have the right to participate in the system at its highest level and represent the rights of their children.

I’m not talking about Fariña’s “handpicked” buddies, who have been chosen to stamp out grade fixing. I’m not talking about the “UFT supported” parents at Boys and Girls HS and Automotive HS who will be responsible for the hiring of new teachers or political friends of the mayor.

I’m talking about independent parents who aren’t employees or spouses of DOE employees.

I’m talking about parents who have proven to be committed and able advocates for all children. These are the people who are so dedicated to public education, they’ve chosen to expose themselves and their children to vicious union attacks in an effort to improve public education — not run away from it.

The road to reform is steep. But just like the steps in any treatment program, recovery can’t begin until the abuser admits the problem.

Not only must de Blasio and Fariña own up to and be held accountable for their failures, but also it’s up to all of us — parents, legislators, union leaders and every citizen of New York City — to build back what others have destroyed.

Unless we take bold and unprecedented steps today, such as negotiating agreements fairly, allowing independent parents as participants and changing how we educate our teachers and how they educate our children, we will never stop the systemic failure for an overwhelming number of our children.

Sam Pirozzolo is a Staten Island parent, former president of Community Education Council 31-Staten Island and vice president of the New York City Parents Union.

Read Sam’s op-ed on the NY Post website at https://nypost.com/2015/08/10/how-to-fix-new-york-citys-corrupt-schools/