Sunny’s raises $65,000 and is still looking for more
According to their website, and a story that aired on WPIX-TV, Sunny’s much publicized campaign to raise $65,000 to help the bar purchase the building from Sunny’s family has succeeded.
Tone Johannsen, who married to bar owner Sunny Balzano, has raised money from a number of events including an art auction. The bar has also rented its interior and exterior to various movie and television production companies over the years, including the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, which is set in the early 20th century.
According to Johannsen still needs to raise more money. She is currently looking for the public to pony up an additional $20,000 to pay for some structural repairs to the two Conover Street buildings, which date to 1890s.
A Realty Collective Facebook ad informed us that Johannsen sold another property she inherited from Sunny – a non-habited building at 33 Dikeman Street. According to the website Realtor.com, the building sold on April 6, 2017 for $900,000.
District 39’s city council race currently features five challengers to incumbent Carlos Menchaca. Sara Gonzalez, the two termer who Menchaca unseated four years ago, is back and has raised almost $50,000 – much of it from the Chinese community in Sunset Park, as well as real estate interests. Her nascent campaign at this point seems to be about raising her war chest, as she has been relatively quiet in the district.
The other four challengers are thus far mostly self-funded, according to their latest filings. Menchaca has been holding a series of fundraising house parties, some with the help of his good friend, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
Delvis Valdes has been the most visible contender. He is a lawyer and owns rental properties in Sunset Park. He opened up a local campaign office across from the Red Hook Houses on Lorraine Street, and treated the neighborhood to a sumptuous feast upon its opening. He has also been active in Wally Bazemore’s new civic group “The Society of Red Hook,” and was a present at their recent Red Hook ballfield protest.
Javier Nieves held the Assembly seat for one term before being defeated by Felix Ortiz in 1994. He has run for office sporadically over the years.
Carmen Hulbert is a retired Associated Press journalist and union organizer for the NMG-CWA. She was a Bernie Sanders delegate in the last presidential cycle. She is running because she believes that the community needs a city council leader “that will stand up for the community against developers and special interests.”
Chris Q. Miao is a real estate attorney, adjunct professor at Baruch and Queens Colleges, and a freelance writer. He has served as a volunteer for the Hotel Chinese Association of USA. In addition to a large Hispanic population, Sunset Park also includes Brooklyn’s largest Chinatown.
Felix Ortiz finally entered the race, just in time for petitioning, and we will be looking at his campaign donation reports closely to see who he might favor in representing the interests of Red Hook and Sunset Park.
We are hoping for some vigorous issue oriented debates, and would love to sponsor one or two. If any candidate is interested, write me at George@Redhookstar.com
Brooklyn Queens Connector
Most of Red Hook has no interest in this “trolley car for the wealthy” scheme, as was evident in a recent meeting of the Red Hook Civic Association, as well as a meeting of the Village of Red Hook, attended by trolley opponent Eddie Bautista.
The Friends of the Red Hook Connector, a “volunteer” organization funded by real estate developers looking to build on the Brooklyn Queens waterfront, has been engaged in a vigorous public relations campaign to drum up support. This is despite a leaked memo written for the mayor outlining some major obstacles to the streetcar, including a financing scheme. According to this memo – even in an ideal scenario – the BQX would not be functional until at least 2025.
Nonetheless, the Friends group has placed a series of op-eds in The Daily News and other local publications by business people and residents explaining how the streetcar is essential for businesses and the poor. They even went so far as to send us a letter, purportedly from a Red Hook resident, which is printed in our letters section.
The mayor has thus far been unsuccessful at portraying the Brooklyn Queens Connector as something vital for the average New Yorker. It remains evident that if any money is to be spent on improving transportation, express buses would do a better job for far less money.
But the real estate industry is so intent on adding glitz to their sales machinery that Jed Walentas, developer of the Domino Sugar project in Williamsburg, has even offered to pay for some of it.
Good for him and his fellow condo builders, but not so good for the small businesses and homeowners who would surely be priced out of all the new high-rise neighborhoods to be created along the waterfront route.