Boycott Queens Ctr. Chick-fil-A: Dromm

By Christopher Barca

Originally published by the Queens Chronicle on May 5, 2016

PHOTO BY MARK TURNAUCKAS / FLICKR.   Popular fast-food chain Chick-fil-A will open a restaurant in the Queens Center mall this fall. Councilman Danny Dromm has called for a boycott of the location, citing company leadership’s past verbal and financial support of anti-LGBT groups.

PHOTO BY MARK TURNAUCKAS / FLICKR.
Popular fast-food chain Chick-fil-A will open a restaurant in the Queens Center mall this fall. Councilman Danny Dromm has called for a boycott of the location, citing company leadership’s past verbal and financial support of anti-LGBT groups.

The Queens Center mall is packed with restaurant options, be it fast food or sit-down dining.

Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) wants hungry shoppers to avoid one location when it opens later this year: Chick-fil-A.

After published reports said Saturday that the popular fast-food eatery will open its first outerborough location inside the mall this fall, Dromm slammed the company on Monday over its leadership’s past comments condemning same-sex marriage and financial contributions to organizations that supposedly sponsor anti-LGBT causes.

“Chick-fil-A is anti-LGBT,” Dromm said in a statement. “I am deeply disturbed that Chick-fil-A continues to give 25 percent of their charitable contributions to anti-LGBT organizations, including over $1 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”

According to reports published in 2012, the WinShape Foundation — created by Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and his family — had given millions of dollars in donations and grants over the years to groups such as the Marriage & Family Foundation and the National Christian Foundation, many of which were criticized as being anti-LGBT by gay and lesbian advocacy organizations.

When the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the federal definition of marriage as being only between one man and one woman was unconstitutional, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy tweeted it was a “sad day” for the nation and that the Founding Fathers would be “ashamed” of the decision.

In the years since the comments, Chick-fil-A and the WinShape Foundation have ceased giving funds to such groups with the exception of a $1 million donation the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization that demands prospective ministry leaders condemn “impure lifestyles” like homosexuality in order to be hired, among other issues.

Dromm hammered Chick-fil-A for its continued relationship with the FCA, calling Monday on shoppers to boycott the eatery and the Queens Center mall to reconsider its contract with the company.

“This group imparts a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love,” he said. “It is outrageous that Chick-fil-A is quietly spreading its message of hate by funding these types of organizations.

“I hope that the Queens Center mall will reconsider giving a company so deeply invovled in anti-gay discrimination a lease on their property,” he continued. “Believers in equality should boycott these purveyors of hate.”

Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Desiree’ Fulton fired back on Tuesday, saying the restaurant does not discriminate against LGBT employees or customers and no longer financially assists anti-gay groups.

“Our intent is not to support groups with political agendas,” Fulton wrote in an email to the Chronicle. “The Chick-fil-A Foundation gives 100 percent of its dollars to programs supporting youth, education and the local communities in which our restaurants operate.

“The Chick-fil-A Foundation partners with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” she continued, “specifically to provide free summer sports camps for hundreds of young students in urban environments throughout the nation.”

A spokesman for Macerich, Queens Center mall’s management company, had no comment on Dromm’s remarks, but said work on the Chick-fil-A location has begun and the new addition to the food court should open “sometime in the fall.”

Speaking at an unrelated press conference at the 105th Precinct in Queens Village on Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio criticized the eatery’s leadership for its previous comments and financial donations, but said he doesn’t agree with Dromm on a possible boycott of the location.

“It is a country in which people have a right to open a business,” de Blasio said. “What the ownership of Chick-fil-A has said is wrong. I’m certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn’t urge any other New Yorker to patronize them, but they do have a legal right.”

Read more here.

DNAinfo: Diversity Plaza to Get More Seating and Improved Lighting

Councilman Dromm and the DOT will contribute a combined $2.5 million to improve the plaza. photo: Veronica C./Foursquare

By Katie Honan

JACKSON HEIGHTS — A local pedestrian plaza will be getting more seats, better lighting and maps — and the community will have the chance to vote on even more improvements — thanks to funding from the area’s councilman and the city.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm announced plans to allocate $500,000 from his discretionary funds to pay for improvements to Diversity Plaza, which is on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th streets in Jackson Heights.

The plaza will receive additional seating, improved lighting and community maps with directions to the plaza once it becomes permanent, he said.

“These improvements will go a long way to build out an asset that our community has come to adopt as a town square,” Dromm said.

In addition to the funds from Dromm’s office, the Department of Transportation has earmarked $2 million to make even more changes to the plaza — changes which residents will be able to discuss and vote on at a meeting later this fall.

The money could go towards things like an improved street structure and a public pay toilet, the councilman said.

“Diversity Plaza is a result of tremendous community effort, from the intensive transportation planning sessions that developed it, to the efforts of the local merchants and civic groups that are now sustaining it,” said Andy Wiley-Schwartz, an assistant commissioner at the DOT.

The street was closed and turned into a pedestrian plaza in 2011. It is currently in its temporary design phase, but the additional money will help transition it into a permanent space.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131014/jackson-heights/diversity-plaza-get-more-seating-improved-lighting

 

Ny1: Touring Daniel Dromm’s District

NY1 VIDEO: The Road to City Hall’s Errol Louis visited City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s 25th city council district in Queens.

Jackson Heights Turnaround: Business Owners Will Help Maintain Plaza

From Streetsblog: By Stephen Miller

A group of business owners who decried the 37th Road pedestrian plaza in Jackson Heights after it opened have come around and launched a group to act as stewards of the new public space. This turn of events comes after persistent work by Council Member Danny Dromm’s office and local merchants, who are now working together to ensure the plaza is a long-term success. The plaza’s undeniable popularity as a gathering place also hasn’t hurt.

A few months ago, Internet Café owner Agha Saleh and Bombay Chat café owner Shazia Kausar were two of the business owners unhappy with the new plaza. Saleh was quoted in the New York Times saying that it had contributed to crime in the neighborhood, while Kausar told the Times Ledger that soon after the plaza opened in October 2011, her business had dropped and she was having trouble paying employees.

Citing a “gap of communication” between business owners, DOT, and plaza supporters when the project was implemented, Saleh credited months of work by Dromm’s office and DOT to address the business owners’ concerns. “We’re really proud that we brought people on board,” Saleh said.

Now, Saleh and Kausar are working with adjacent business owners to create a new group called Sukhi NY, which will manage what is being called Diversity Plaza. “Sukhi” is an acronym for Social Uplift Knowledge and Hope Initiatives; it also translates from Urdu, Hindi and other languages as “prosperity and happiness.” Council Member Dromm, whose office had until now been coordinating plaza upkeep, joined Saleh and Kausar at an event on the plaza last Friday to announce the formation of Sukhi NY, which is still in its formative stages. Official approval by DOT as a plaza partner is expected to come in September. In the meantime, the organization is kicking off its stewardship of the plaza by hosting a festival that ends today, marking the end of Muslim holy month Ramadan.

“This plaza can benefit the stakeholders who depend on this place for their livelihood,” Saleh said.

Saleh and Kausar aren’t the only former plaza opponents to welcome this latest development.

Mohammed Pier, president of the Jackson Heights Bangladeshi Business Association, had been a plaza skeptic. “Our customers come to do shopping, not to sit,” he told Streetsblog in February. Now, he’s welcoming the debut of Sukhi NY. “This is a great day,” he told the Times Ledger. “After months of misunderstanding, we have restored our differences.”

In January, Shiv Dass, president of the Jackson Heights Merchants Association, felt the plaza was hurting businesses. “We made this place a prime area, but now they’re trying to kill us,” he said. “The bottom line is they have to move this plaza.” On Friday, he joined Mohammed Pier at the plaza for the Sukhi NY announcement.

Saleh had some harsh words for some of the reporters who wrote about the plaza. “A lot of press people came in and they took our interviews and they took our quotes and changed our positions,” he said.

After months of the plaza filling with potential customers every day, business owners who once opposed the plaza now see it as an opportunity for growth and are taking a hand in its upkeep. Will reporters stoppretending that it’s a failure?

Times Ledger: 37th Road Plaza Draws Praise


In a capstone to a nearly yearlong fight, City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and business owners in Jackson Heights announced Friday the controversy around the 37th Road Plaza was essentially over now that the businesses have created an organization to care for the space.

“I have looked forward to this day coming for a very long time,” Dromm said.

Business owners Agha Saleh and Shazia Kausar instituted the new group, Sukhi NY. The organization, the name of which means “prosperity and happiness” in Hindi, aims to both work with the city Department of Transportation to improve the quality of life in the plaza and hold events there to bring the diverse populations of Jackson Heights together.

“This is the best solution,” said Kausar, who is president of the organization and owns the café Bombay Chat. “We will make this plaza beautiful and more people will come.”

Following the findings of a transportation study for Jackson Heights and with the approval of Community Board 3, the city DOT installed a plaza on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th streets in October. After 37th Road was closed, many business owners said they experienced large drops in their sales and witnessed an increase in vagrancy. They raised their problems at multiple meetings with the DOT and members of CB 3.

As the weather became warmer, however, more shoppers and residents began to use the plaza. Sukhi hopes to keep the momentum going by using the plaza as a place to hold events.

From Thursday, Aug. 16, to Monday, Aug. 20, Sukhi will hold a Chaand Raat Festival/Eid Baazar to celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“You will see this street further transformed into a beautiful area in honor of those holidays,” Dromm said.

Both Shiv Dass, president of the Jackson Heights Merchants Association, and Mohammad Peer, of the Bangladeshi Merchants Association, said they were glad a compromise had been reached.

“This is a great day,” Peer said. “After months of misunderstanding, we have restored our differences.”

Dromm said he believed a solution was able to be reached because throughout the debate the lines of communication were kept open between those who opposed the plaza and those who were for it. He encouraged all residents, even non-Muslims, to take part in the Eid celebration and enjoy the diverse community.

“We are all in this together, and as Agha said, we are all Americans,” Dromm said. “This is our neighborhood. These are all our shops.”