Assemblywoman’s interns learning the ropes

Back row:  Emily Perez, Tiffany Chu, James Smolic, Cleopatra Papadopoulos, Christina Papadopoulos Front row seated: Chaya Halberstam, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Jessica Mendieta, Amanda Robinson

Back row:  Emily Perez, Tiffany Chu, James Smolic, Cleopatra Papadopoulos, Christina Papadopoulos
Front row seated: Chaya Halberstam, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Jessica Mendieta, Amanda Robinson

You may remember your first internship, running to get a superior coffee or picking up their dry cleaning.

That’s not exactly what the interns for Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas are doing this summer. The office’s 12 interns are researching legislative issues, posting on social media, organizing constituent concerns and checking out quality of life issues all across Astoria.

They’ve identified several items for the office to work on, including potholes, deteriorating pavement, overflowing garbage baskets, leaking or broken fire hydrants, toppled or faded street signs or faded crosswalk markings. With each case, a staff member follows up with a 311 call.

“When I was in college, I interned for the former NYC Council Speaker Peter Vallone, and received invaluable insight into how government can work for every day New Yorkers,” Simotas said. “I am so happy to offer that same experience to the next generation of leaders.”

The interns are students at the following schools: CUNY Baruch College, CUNY Hunter College,  Columbia University, Long Island University, Mt. Holyoke College (Massachusetts) and St. Vincent Ferrer High School. Her office noted that all internships are unpaid.

Simotas is now hiring interns for the fall. If you’re interested, call 718-545-3889 or email

Shooting on Steinway


Police are looking for two men wanted in connection to a shooting on Steinway Street.

Police say that on on Sunday, July 17 at approximately 4:11 a.m., two suspects got into a verbal dispute with the 23-year-old victim in front of 28-03 Steinway Street.

One of the suspects gave his friend a gun, and he fired several rounds at the victim, who was hit once in the neck. The suspects then fled southbound.

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he is in critical condition.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or submit tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM.


Pepsi-Cola sign receives landmark designation

Flickr/nuno luz

Flickr/nuno luz

It’s official.

The Pepsi-Cola sign along the Long Island City waterfront is officially a New York City landmark.

The New York City Council voted unanimously (43-0) for the sign’s designation. It spent 28 years on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)’s backlog before the commission voted for it this spring.

The sign has been an important part of western Queens’s waterfront for 90 years.

“For almost 90 years, the swoops and swirls of the Pepsi-Cola sign have welcomed visitors to Long Island City and symbolized Queens’s status as an industrial powerhouse,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “Today, after long last, we’ve officially made the sign a New York City landmark, and this staggering piece of pop art will now shine forever across the East River.”

Girl Scouts to deliver cookies to local homeless shelters in Astoria

LOC Top cookie seller (Wezensky) This week, the Girl Scouts of Greater New York is distributing  cookies to local homeless shelters for the first time ever  through their expanding Operation Cookie program.
 Operation Cookie allows Girl Scouts’ customers to  purchase cookies for donation, which are then distributed to  service personnel, veterans, and other organizations that serve  the community, sharing the joy of Girl Scout Cookies with  those who would otherwise not be able to get them.
 Operation Cookie has been a part of the Girl Scouts of Greater  New York’s Cookie Program for 12 years, and over 450,000  boxes have been distributed so far. This year, 58,878 boxes of  cookies were donated by NYC customers to Operation Cookie.
 Now, for the first time, the Girl Scouts of Greater New York  is working with the New York City Department of Homeless
Services to distribute donated cookies to homeless shelters in NYC. 8,400 boxes of cookies will be distributed to NYC DHS between 4-5 shelter locations.
The first delivery will take place at the women’s shelter at The Verve in Long Island City this Wednesday, July 13 at 2 p.m. The event will be attended by local Girl Scouts, DHS representatives, and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. The Girl Scouts attending are all from the surrounding neighborhoods, and have previously volunteered at this shelter.


Massage parlor robbed at gunpoint

A pair of gunmen robbed an Astoria massage parlor in the daylight.

Police said last week, at approximately 3:40 p.m., two armed men walked into the massage parlor, located at 37-16 Broadway.

They showed their guns and forced three female victims, one 42-year-old, a 25-year-old and a 39-year-old woman, into a room. According to authorities, they took an iPhone and an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing.

Police describe the two suspects as Hispanic men, approximately 28 years old and 170 pounds. One was last seen wearing a military style hat and the other a gray shirt. See video above.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM.