Friday, May 29, 2009

James Wu is Conwused

According to an article in the Queens Chronicle "James Wu says he’s the one for Liu’s council seat"

Mr. Wu feels that he is the best democratic candidate and will win the primary on September 14th. However, James Wu voted on Sunday to endorse John Choe as the winning democratic candidate. It seems a bit confusing or is it? Maybe there are some behind the scenes deals going on between Wu and Choe.

Here is what Wu had to say about some of his democratic rivals, Currently, he has five Democratic opponents running for the City Council seat which Liu is vacating to run for comptroller. Wu believes not all will get on the ballot. The ones with the least chance, according to him, are Ronald Kim, “no political organization or backing”; Constantine Kavadas, “new kid on the block and we don’t know much about him”; Yen Chou, “no election experience with her resources in Bayside”; and S.J. Jung, “an unknown who moved here from New Jersey in October, has no money and is a carpetbagger.”

Notice how he left John Choe off his hit list!

maybe we should give the new kid on the block a chance, Constatine Kavadas, looks like he may be the only one not tarnished by corrupt party politics.

Wu also forgot to mention that he recently worked for Geraldine Chappey, a candidate who used dirty politics to get candidates kicked off the ballot. Reports state that he still hasn't gotten paid for his service.


Today,United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will deliver the keynote address at the celebration of Asian/Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month held in the Flushing Library (Auditorium)41-17 Main Street Flushing, NY 11354., hosted by Councilmember John C. Liu. The event will highlight the struggles and achievements of APA youth in Queens, with remarks by Assemblymember Grace Meng, Senator Toby Stavisky, and community leaders.

May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month—a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Much like Black History and Women's History celebrations, APA Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill.

In June 1977, Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.

In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further when President George H. W. Bush designated May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated with community festivals, government-sponsored activities, and educational activities for students. This year's theme is "Lighting the Past, Present, and Future."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Flushing Retail Thriving

NEW YORK, NY April 23, 2009 —The economic downturn which largely started on Wall street has been felt globally - and its ripples have touched shopping districts all over the world. But there seems to be one retail hub that is thriving and it's not in a far-flung corner of the planet. As part of our own Main Street series, WNYC's Richard Yeh took the 7 train out to New York's most visible Main Street... in Flushing, Queens.

Pictures, audio portraits and more in our Main Street series

REPORTER: On a recent afternoon, Fred Fu is having a coffee break at the Tai Pan Bakery on Main Street. Like many residents in Flushing, Fu moved from Taiwan as a college student in 1980, and he’s lived here since. For the last 15 years he’s run a small travel agency in downtown Flushing. He says the economic crisis that’s hitting main streets elsewhere is less acute here.

FU: Every economy is inside Flushing. For example, myself, I live in Flushing downtown. My business is in Flushing, I eat in Chinese restaurants in Flushing, Everything’s in Flushing.

REPORTER: The self-sustaining nature of its economy doesn’t make Flushing totally recession-proof, but the continued influx of new immigrants does make its small businesses more resistant to a downturn.

Peter Koo owns a small but successful chain of pharmacies called Starside Drugs. He says he saw a five to ten percent drop last year in general sales, in things like shampoos and over-the-counter medicine. But in a couple of his stores, prescription sales went up.

KOO: We can offer Chinese interpretation on doctors’ directions. We can explain to them and they’d understand. And we also do things other than filling prescriptions. If they have a bill they don’t understand, we’ll explain, “oh this is a Con Edison bill.”

REPORTER: Koo says a common language and kinship are the reason he’s been able to build a loyal customer base, even with the chain store Duane Reade just two blocks away.

KOO: They have sale prices every day, customers come in and show me their flyers. So I told my staff, I said, “Hey, a chain store moved in, how can we survive? We cannot compete with price, so we have to compete with service. If service is good, people don’t mind to pay a nickel or 10 cents more.

REPORTER: Koo’s business philosophy is what’s guided immigrant entrepreneurs here thru the last three decades. According to Census data, the number of Asian immigrants making Flushing their home has almost doubled from 1990 to 2000, with Chinese and Koreans leading that trend. After the attacks of September 11th, which devastated the local economy in Manhattan’s Chinatown, more Chinese immigrants are settling in Flushing than ever. So far this decade, at least half a dozen large Chinese supermarkets have opened in the downtown area, with each doing anywhere from one-and-a-half to three million dollars in sales every month.

Roger Lo is president of AOL Realty. He says as long as the immigrants keep coming in, the real estate market will be solid.

LO: In Flushing, especially downtown Flushing - Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue - the demand to buy commercial property or to lease a commercial store is still very very strong.

REPORTER: Lo says many immigrant families are attracted to the area by good school districts in nearby neighborhoods, like Bayside and Fresh Meadows. But the main draw for the first-generation immigrants is still the sheer amount of commerce. That’s why, Lo says the retail vacancy rate for downtown Flushing is never over five percent.

But Flushing’s Main Street hasn’t always been the flush neighborhood it is today. Wellington Chen is an urban planner and a longtime community activist. He remembers the down-and-out Flushing during New York’s economic crisis of the 1970s.

CHEN: There was a negative vacuum, lot of people left thinking in a panic that they had to get out of town. It was the town looking at it as half-empty that caused the new arrivals to come in and look at it as half-full.

REPORTER: Among the new arrival of the late 70s is Joseph Vee, who came from Hong Kong and opened an auto repair shop just steps from Main Street, in the shadow of the LIRR platform.

VEE: You want to fix your car, go there and look for that guy. Mostly they come in they always say, hey, go into the shop, look for the guy with a little mustache, that’s they guy, sure, you’re not gonna miss it.

REPORTER: Vee has seen the city’s economy go up and down. But for him business has been one steady climb, even through the current recession. Many of his customers are now keeping their cars longer, and his business is actually up a bit compared to a year ago. Vee says he’s able to have a steady stream of business because of the close-knit nature of the immigrant community, and the convenience of a sprawling mass transit network.

VEE: First, word of mouth, second, convenience, third, the public transportation is good for the customers. When they leave their car, they can get any kind of public location and come back to pick up the car.

REPORTER: It’s true - 24 bus lines, a Long Island Railroad station, and the 7 train terminal which is the busiest station outside of Manhattan – all make up the transit hub that serves nearly 100,000 people a day, according to the Flushing Business Improvement District. The massive foot traffic is attracting the attention of international retailers, like the Korean bakery chain, Paris Baguette.

SOU: Our brand is very familiar among all the Korean community, so they can feel the home, every time they go to Paris Baguette, very familiar for them.

REPORTER: Jessie Sou is the marketing director at Paris Baguette USA, which has 11 outlets.

SOU: That’s why we go to Korean market first, but that’s not our primary goal, our primary goal is to go mainstream in the U.S.

REPORTER: Sou says her company chose Flushing’s Main Street for its first store in New York City over the Korean enclave near Herald part because it needs a large location so that it can bake on-site. Plus, the company already knows the local clientele, from its experience in Asia.

SOU: This location is perfect for us because we know the Chinese population loves our product, we’ve already succeeded in China, and this area, Korean culture and Chinese culture blend well together here, so our store can be bridge to two different cultures.

Located in a brand new high rise building, complete with Times Square-style jumbotrons on its fa├žade, Paris Baguette is just one example of new businesses trying to cash in on a neighborhood that’s bursting at the seams. A new traffic plan is being designed to address the chronic congestion. And the future build-out of nearby Willets Point, plus a large-scale project slated to replace the area’s main parking lot, are both in development. In short, New York City’s most visible Main Street is not slowing down. For WNYC, I’m Richard Yeh.