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Congestion Pricing, Zoning, and the Fifteen-Minute City

By Councilwoman Vickie Paladino

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the concept of the ‘fifteen minute city’ — a component of the WEF plan for you to ‘own nothing and be happy’ in which you’ll be prohibited from owning a car based on the theory that if your entire world is within a fifteen minute walk of your home, you won’t need one and won’t want one.

Many people were outraged when these plans came to light a few years ago, many others laughed it off, and tellingly, the mainstream media assured us the whole thing was just a ‘conspiracy theory’ and no such plans were seriously in the works. Unfortunately, as with most so-called conspiracy theories these days, they tend to go from theory to mandatory very rapidly.

And so, it might be of interest for you to learn that New York City, the great metropolis of America, is taking concrete steps right now to become a fifteen minute city.

I’m sure you’re aware of the congestion pricing scheme the city is preparing to implement in Manhattan, in which drivers will be charged a tax to enter the city anywhere below 60th street. What you may not yet be aware of, however, is that congestion pricing will not be limited to Manhattan for very long. These so-called congestion zones will find their way to every borough and every neighborhood. The zones will get tighter, and the tolls will increase. Soon enough you will not be able to travel to very far from your home — say, fifteen minutes or so — without incurring an increasingly expensive toll, objectively to make travel by car too expensive for most people to afford.

This isn’t theoretical either, in England a very similar plan was implemented a few years ago called ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zones), which saw entire neighborhoods completely blocked off to vehicle traffic in or out for hours or even days at a time, and significant fees for entry/exit otherwise. Law-abiding people have been completely trapped in their homes, unable to go anywhere outside of walking distance. It’s gotten so bad that teams of vigilantes called ‘Blade Runners’ have organized to anonymously destroy the ULEZ cameras and barricades. To this day they claim to have destroyed almost 1,500 cameras.

We should not want it to come to that here.

The next component in the works for New Yorkers is the so-called ‘City of Yes’ plans for economic and housing development. You may have already heard it mentioned on the news or in official announcements.

These plans, to put it simply, would completely blow up zoning citywide. It would eliminate residential zoning, eliminate single-family home construction, and allow commercial development in residential neighborhoods. It’s impossible to overstate how destructive this will be to our neighborhoods. And what’s worse — it eliminates all local control over the process. No longer will your community boards and council member have a say in what gets built in your neighborhood — all decisions will be made by a panel of ‘experts’ with absolutely no oversight and no ties to the community. Homeless shelters, migrant hotels, bodegas, commercial buildings — all of it can be built anywhere and everywhere. And there’d be nothing you or I could do about it.

Why are they doing this? Well, the Democrats say it’s to spur economic activity and help fix the ‘housing crisis’ by increasing density citywide. None of this is true.

In reality it’s to get as many businesses as possible into as many neighborhoods as possible in order to facilitate the fifteen-minute city plan — they call it ‘walkability’ and it’s the predicate to locking down a neighborhood and pricing people out of their cars.

Now, of course there are plenty of areas of this city that are already totally walkable. And that’s great. But some people choose to live differently, and have invested heavily to live in a place like North Queens, where we can enjoy more open space and own a car — because that’s the lifestyle that works for us.

Unfortunately, the city is destroying that choice, and forcing every neighborhood to conform and face destruction. It’s unacceptable and I am proud to stand against it.

What are we doing about it? At the moment, I’ve joined multiple active lawsuits against congestion pricing. These are major suits involving powerful bipartisan interests from across the tri-state area. These suits are still pending, but we hope to achieve success in the courts.

As for City of Yes, it has not yet passed the City Council, and will be voted on in two parts. First the economic portion, which would allow commercial development in residential neighborhoods, and then the housing portion, which would eliminate single-family and residential zoning entirely, in favor of high-density housing projects.

As of right now, it looks like the economic portion has a better chance of passing than the housing portion, but Democrat leadership is pushing HARD for the package to pass entirely. I would urge everyone to GET INVOLVED — call your council member, call your state representatives, and tell your friends to do the same. Make it known that you don’t want your neighborhood destroyed and you refuse to live in a fifteen minute city.

I will be voting against both portions, and I will be conducting informational town halls soon. This is one of THE most consequential measures the Council has ever taken up. And we can’t afford to ignore it.

Councilwoman Vickie Paladino represents District 19 of Northeast Queens, which includes Whitestone, College Point, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, and parts of North Flushing


Vignette Vagabonds

Vignettes Gathered by Josh Eisen and other Vagabonds


This is a series of vignettes by vagabonds who could be anyone who feels, or anyone getting around living life’s moments, ordinary and special. It is open and belongs to everyone who wishes, especially if you know the changes that would make the vignettes your vagabond expressions.

Pain and Challenge

When traveling around Queens, and around the city and the state, I cannot help but feel pain and challenge everywhere. It is so plain and right there, it turns ordinary New Yorkers into empathetic vagabonds who feel not the pain of poverty nor the despair of hopelessness. We feel the pain of keeping up, and the challenge of maintaining dignity at the dinner table with family, in the bedroom with a spouse, or alone in front of the mirror. Often the thread that binds the pain and challenge is some form of government intrusion or regulation. If not one then another, whether it is an expensive ill-conceived regulation, irrationally high interest rates, an increase in existing taxes, or a new tax altogether.

It seems like every time some over-educated and uncaring progressive apparatchik thinks they are all lightbulbs with ideas, there is nobody to point out that the bulbs are dead. On the contrary, Democrats at all levels of government trip over themselves to be the first to write the ill- conceived laws with the same devastating impact on ordinary New Yorkers steeped in the challenge of just maintaining dignity. We vagabonds can only lament that rather than blow like wind in the sails of its citizens, government is a headwind that keeps so many just barely treading in pain, if not falling back.

There’s Borrowers & There’s Borrowers

Student loan forgiveness is no longer just an idea. The Biden administration has decided that it is time to let some borrowers off the hook, and they have forgiven billions of dollars of loans. Let us for a moment cast aside deep aversion to any loan forgiveness and assume someone was going to get a freebee. Never was there a suggestion to consider all the outstanding loans the administration might want to forgive through executive orders.  Without debate or consideration, the borrowers whose loans they have chosen to forgive were those who borrowed money to pay tuition to colleges and universities.  They neither considered hard working Americans who borrowed money to work and build businesses nor military veterans who borrowed money to buy homes. It is hard for us vagabonds to ignore that rather than choose people who borrowed money to work, the Democrats chose people who borrowed money to party at places like Columbia and Harvard.

Sheriffs or Intrusive Patrols

Who are we as a nation? What sort of Americans are we as individuals? How does it reflect in the way we relate to Laws and their enforcement? Are we individuals who want government to patrol our day-to-day lives? Or are we the sort who calls the sheriff when there’s a problem? Do we want government in our homes and healthcare? In our schools and youth programs?

As individuals, we want government to stand back and support communities where shared values govern day-to-day interactions, education, sports, youth programs, etc. When it is necessary, we can call the proverbial sheriff, whether it is the police or the firefighter or whomever. For us, the vagabonds, we do not want the IRS, FBI, CIA, DEA, HUD, or any letters of the alphabet knocking on our doors or otherwise patrolling our lives.

The Cold War Hu$tle

When the Cold War ended, we were told that we won that war without any bloodshed. We were promised that we would finally see a payoff for all the expense that went into ‘winning’ the Cold War against the former Soviet Union and the Communist Bloc. There has been no payoff and defense spending has only increased significantly. There never was a new order of peace and prosperity. Instead, newly independent countries-once part of the former Soviet Union-were delicious business opportunities for the American military industrial complex. The best path in order to maximize this opportunity was NATO membership for the new nations.

Regardless of whether another way would have worked, it appears to ordinary Americans that no other path was considered. To us vagabonds, it seems like military profiteers got their way, regardless of how little or hard they worked and lobbied for it. And left nothing for ordinary Americans except more pain, challenge, debt, and global death machines.

Who? Columbia and NYU, That’s Who

When New Yorkers think about who destroyed middle- and working-class housing around the city, they might be surprised to learn that Columbia and NYU are behind the destruction of more such housing units than any other organization or individual. When Columbia and NYU destroy these housing units, they do so in order to build dormitories for entitled children, many of whom come from privileged backgrounds far from New York. At the same time, many less privileged New Yorkers are forced to commute to NYU and Columbia because they live too close to qualify for housing that displaced locals in favor of temporary entitled student residents.

Why does this happen? How is this possible? Taxes. That is the one-word answer, in a nutshell. When Columbia or NYU purchase a property, it is impossible for anyone to compete with them because the tax laws benefit them. They will not pay any property taxes once they have acquired the property as opposed to other buyers who must consider a significant increase in property taxes. Columbia and NYU also will pay neither income tax nor capital gains tax (should they ever sell the property). If that is not enough, the government subsidizes loans so that students can pay ever-increasing tuitions that have irrationally outpaced inflation. After all that, Columbia and NYU have the chutzpah to force students onto meal plans, many of which are exempt from sales taxes, while local businesses can’t compete with them and go out of business.

It is time that NYU and Columbia are treated as they should be. To the ordinary vagabond, it is obvious that NYU and Columbia are for-profit businesses who should receive no tax benefits, neither federal, nor state, nor city.

Remember the Sixth Amendment?

As a reminder, the Six Amendment is the right of a defendant to a quick and speedy trial by a jury of their peers. Sadly, many of us know someone who has been through or is experiencing a trial that is neither a quick and speedy, nor one judged by a jury of peers, nor one where justice is served. Prosecutors have too much discretion and have wielded it as they saw fit, which often meant to further their political and career aspirations. Sometimes they do it to get someone they don’t like, but more often they do it to score conviction points at the expense of those who cannot fight back and must take a plea.

Who are these prosecutors who are devastating poor and often minority communities? They are not Republicans. They are not vindictive conservatives. No. They are the Democrat social justice warriors like Fani Willis, Alvin Bragg, Leticia James, and Kamala Harris, all of whom built their careers on the backs of poor black men and the families they devastated. The sixth amendment is sacred and should be the difference between true justice and a monarch’s verdict. For the vagabonds, and especially the black vagabonds among us, we cannot help but wonder if plea deals are just industrialized disregard of the sixth amendment.

You got this far?

Thank you. You are a true vagabond. Feel free to send in your own vignettes from your own day- to-day or changes to those above so that they become yours and are better for publication.


The 5 Myths of City of Yes for Housing

Refuting the rosy picture painted by those who would sacrifice my neighborhood for more, and more expensive “housing units”


By Roseann Henry

The planning documents for City of Yes for Housing present a rosy picture in which thousands of affordable new homes flood the market, eliminating the housing shortage and reducing costs, with no drastic changes to any of our neighborhoods. That picture is not accurate at all, and the rampant disinformation needs to be refuted before this ill-conceived proposal comes to a vote. If passed, the City of Yes for Housing will permanently destroy many neighborhoods – especially, but not limited to, historic neighborhoods in Eastern Queens.


Video: US Senate Republican Candidates Debate


The Queens Village Republican Club hosted the US Senate Republican Candidates Debate on May 2nd at Marbella restaurant. Cara Castronuova and Josh Eisen were present for the debate and Mike Sapraicone, the New York State Republican Party’s hand-picked candidate, refused to attend. As of the day of the debate, Cara and Josh were still fighting for ballot access in court. Thank you to both Michael Ferrara and James Doukas for videotaping and processing the entire debate including Q & A, and a few Republican candidates running for local seats as well!


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