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Category: News

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

CBS News:  Staten Island School Officials Plan Vote On Undercover Armed Guards In Schools

CBS News: Staten Island School Officials Plan Vote On Undercover Armed Guards In Schools

“There’s tremendous support for it, as there’s opposition to it. It’s not so much passing this resolution so much as it is getting the conversation started in New York City and making the mayor and the chancellor realize that this is something that we have to address,” Staten Island Community Education Council president Sam Pirozzolo told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.

January 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – In the wake of one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, some on Staten Island are calling for armed guards in city schools.

A Monday vote has been set for Staten Island’s Community Education Council to decide whether to hire 300 to 500 retired police officers to serve as plainclothes armed guards in the city’s 1,750 public schools in all five boroughs.

Under the proposal, the former cops would carry concealed weapons and would rotate throughout all the city’s schools.

Read the full article on CBS News at https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/01/06/staten-island-school-officials-plan-vote-on-undercover-armed-guards-in-schools/

CBS News: New Call For Change In NYC School Cell Phone Policy

“This is ridiculous, to bring everything to a grinding halt, to lose the opportunity for students to have breakfast, to lose a class or one or two periods of instructional time,” said Pirozzolo.

December 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Should students in New York City schools be allowed to have cell phones?  That’s the question some are asking amid a new call for a change in the citywide policy.

Regardless of the fact that there is citywide ban on them, at Stuyvesant High School, one student said, “Of course everyone has them. [They] just keep them away.”

However, despite that student’s comments, school officials apparently are not blind to what is going on.

“There was a surprise screening of all the kids. We had to walk through metal detectors and they took everybody’s cell phone,” the student told WCBS 880 reporter Alex Silverman.

That has happened a few times recently on Staten Island and Community Education Council 31 president Sam Pirozzolo is pushing the city to rethink its policy.

Read the full article on CBS News at https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/12/06/new-call-for-change-in-nyc-school-cell-phone-policy/

CBS News: Staten Island Board Votes In Favor Of Plan To Put Retired Cops In Schools

“It’s another layer of defense,” said Community Education Council President Sam Pirozzolo. “We’re looking to let the bad guys know if you choose a school on Staten Island in New York City, you may have resistance. We’re not a soft target.”

January 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On Monday night, a school council on Staten Island voted in favor of a proposal to place retired armed police officers in New York City schools.

The Staten Island Community Education Council voted 8-1 in favor of the plan to hire 300 to 500 retired cops, who would carry concealed weapons and serve as plainclothes security guards while rotating among the city’s 1,750 schools.

Read the full article on CBS News at https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/01/07/staten-island-vote-set-on-proposal-to-put-retired-cops-in-schools/

My Thoughts On Proposed Changes to Gifted and Talented

My Thoughts On Proposed Changes to Gifted and Talented Featured

My son Franklin was also in G&T programs until middle school. (My wife and I chose to home school him for all of middle schools because we knew he would not receive the basic attention he needed to be successful.) My daughter Samantha started G&T in 2006. At that time the program was maybe already two years in place in NYC. On Staten Island, District 31, there were a handful of elementary schools offering the program. As time went on, as the children reached 4th grade, parents became concerned that after elementary school there was no G&T program in our middle schools. I was president of Community Education Council 31 at the time. I specifically held a meeting and invited then Chancellor Klein for a discussion about creating a middle school G&T program. As a result of that meeting I developed criteria and choose locations for what is now known as the Middle Scholars Program, which was implemented on Staten Island.

As CEC president I gained insights to G&T programs, schools, and the Specialized High Schools. The mayor’s claim that poor, minority areas don’t have G&T is blatantly false, as is the reason to eliminate SHSAT. With the elementary school G&T programs, the problem was not that programs didn’t exist in minority communities. The problem was that principals did not want to send their top test scorers to another school. The result was most likely reduced school performance for their school and reduced school funding as every student had a value of at least $23K in funding. So, basically, they didn’t tell parents the G&T test was available to their children. Compound that with the fact that many of the students from predominantly Black and Latino schools that were accepted into G&T were sent to schools that were not predominantly minority, were more difficult to get to ( busing was not promised to G&T), and some faced disingenuous principals who gladly accepted the new students because of the increased funding but somehow managed to convince their parents that they were not getting along, missed their friends, and would be better off if they went back to their zoned school. This recommendation of sending the students back to their zoned school came, of course, after October 31st, when the students funding was locked into the G&T school. So, when the students went back to their zoned school, that school would have the students but not the funding.

As to the elimination of SHSAT, that is another scam being played on the people of NYC. With the dissolution of entrance testing, many of the high scoring students will be forced back into their zoned high school – many will leave the system. However, the result will give the appearance that testing scores and thereby education is increasing city-wide because you are spreading out higher-scoring students across the city.  There is a leveling off of test scoring; not as many schools do poorly and not as many schools do very well. It’s a redistribution of education.