Here are the top stories from July 2019.
Queens DA recount concludes with convincing lead for Melinda Katz, battle to continue in court
The June 2019 Queens District Attorney primary between DA-elect Melinda Katz and Tiffany Cabán resulted in a lengthy vote recount process after Katz fell short by nearly 1,100 votes. In July, the Board of Elections tally showed that Katz bested Cabán by a margin of 60 votes during the recount. Lawyers on Cabán’s team planned to go to court over the votes due to 114 affidavits that had been disputed over a period of weeks. Lawyer Jerry Goldfeder did not give a specific count of votes being taken to court but estimated that the number of disputed ballots would be greater than 60.
Cabán’s lawyers had planned to take the contested ballots to court since before the absentee ballot count. But with the absentee ballot count totaling 3,550, Katz was able to close the 1,100 vote gap over Caban and take a 16-vote lead. That small margin of less than one percent triggered an automatic recount. According to Goldfeder, a victor is declared during a recount regardless of a slim margin.
In addition to Katz and Cabán, the DA candidates in the Democratic primary included retired judge Gregory Lasak, Mina Malik and Jose Nieves. Councilman Rory Lancman dropped out just days before the primary and expressed his support for Katz.
Mystery surrounds appearance of a wrapped In-N-Out burger that was found on a Jamaica street
On July 22, Lincoln Boehm found an immaculate In-N-Out burger lying on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica. The self-proclaimed In-N-Out fanatic was out with his wife, killing time before catching a train at the Jamaica Long Island Railroad station. A wrapped double-double sat on the ground in front of McDonald’s and prompted Boehm to upload photos of the burger on social media. The popular west coast burger joint has nearly 350 locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas and Oregon.
After Boehm uploaded the image on Twitter, the site’s users came up with theories about how the burger got to Queens in the first place. Some thought that Russian spies sent the burger to monitor American activity, while others surmised that it was the work of the famous artist, Banksy. One Twitter user even created an official Twitter account for the double-double, which has not been active since July.
Boehm’s brother compared the situation to “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” where food rains from the clouds onto the residents below. He added that the event is something he would probably remember for the rest of his life.
Douglaston’s Giardino Italian restaurant closes its doors after 27 years in business
After nearly 30 years, Giardino Italian restaurant in Douglaston closed its doors at the end of June. Owner Frank Russo Jr., executive chef Mike Competiello and manager Joe Competiello posted a heartfelt message on the restaurant’s Facebook page letting patrons know that this was not goodbye forever. They encouraged patrons to dine at Russo’s other restaurant Vetros in Howard Beach, where the Comepetiellos currently work.
Russo got his start in the food industry while working with his father and uncle at Villa Russo and Il Palazzo Catering Hall. The former Giardino owner recalled that his father was a hard worker who always took care of the customers and ensured the restaurant felt like home. Russo added that his parents taught him how to respect others and remember that “your work is your most important thing.”
The restauranteur opened Russo’s on the Bay in 1987 and Giardino, known for its fine Italian dining, in 1992. He opened his restaurant Vetros in 2009 but had to close following Hurricane Sandy. Though the establishment suffered millions of dollars in damages, Russo successfully reopened Vetros in 2013.
Viral video shows flash flood at Court Square station in LIC that nearly sent man onto tracks
A train rider in Long Island City was the victim of a flood on the Court Square-23rd Street E train platform back in July. A fellow straphanger caught the incident on camera, which showed a rush of water bursting through a construction wall and knocking the man on the ground. The impact nearly washed him onto the tracks where an incoming train was pulling into the station.
The incident occurred following weather reports of flash flood advisories and torrential downpours in the metro area. The popular Twitter account posted the video at 8 a.m. the next day and the video amassed over 13,000 views in just a few hours. The video has 412,000 views to date.
But the MTA blamed the flooding on the contractor who had been “working on a residential development project.” The private developer was building a residential tower adjacent to the subway station and a new station entrance and elevator. The agency claimed that the contractor allowed the site to “become inundated with water” after they relocated the utilities and did not have a pumping system to temporarily drain the site.
The storms then caused water to reach the plywood that separated the work area from the station platform.