queenscountypolitics.com: Candidate Carl Achille Challenges Rep. Gregory Meeks In Primary

Brandon Jordan

There is a Democrat, and then there is a Democrat “independent of the establishment.” This difference is what Congressional candidate Carl Achille said he is running on in the upcoming Democratic primary.

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Achille, an NYPD detective and an Iraq War veteran, is running in the 5th Congressional District against long-time U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway).

“Our strategy is very simple,” said Achille with a blueberry bagel and a large cup of tea in front of him. “It’s meeting the people.”

The 34-year-old candidate is not the first primary opponent for Meeks, who captured 82 percent of the vote in the last Democratic primary. This does not faze Achille, who is confident of offering a fresh perspective on federal and local issues.

One example is terrorism. He cited the John F. Kennedy Airport as an example of a landmark in New York City that needs to be protected. He added the proposed hockey arena in Elmont for the New York Islanders is another risk that requires discussions on ensuring safety for all.

“I would be afraid, being where it’s positioned off the Cross Island Parkway and Hempstead Turnpike, I don’t believe at this time that we can protect that site in the current state they are trying to present to the community,” he said.

Other issues he is running on include a universal health care, stronger environmental protections, and expand transportation throughout the entire district. Achille spoke on affordability for small businesses and referred to the difficulties that owners encountered on the federal, state, and local level.

“We need to fund, fuel, and protect our small businesses. We have to hold the Small Business Administration accountable. They have to come out here and talk to the community,” he said.

The veteran also advocates for more resources for his fellow veterans. His platform includes offering co-op housing for veterans to ensure soldiers coming home “can get themselves housing.”

Achille referred to his time as a police officer to talk about crime in the district. The issue of gangs was one topic he would want addressed in neighborhoods around the district. He favored more resources to police departments as one solution.

“It’s not just MS-13. I know Donald Trump is using that an immigration-type issue. But there are street gangs that have been plaguing our communities for a long time,” he said.

If elected, Achille would favor joining both the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Committee on Homeland Security. He felt the expertise and knowledge he had over these topics would be helpful when overseeing such issues.

The conversation shifted to events in Washington. Achille said that President Donald Trump went “rogue,” yet was open to working with others to ensure constituent needs are met. He felt the current atmosphere in the capital is hurting residents across the country.

“Communities are suffering because politicians are playing defense and they don’t want to play ball because they’re angry,” said Achille. “The community suffers.”

With about a month remaining until the Democratic primary, Achille understood the hurdles and obstacles toward the nomination. Yet he looked forward to campaigning and offering a vision for the entire district.

“I’m not beholden to party bosses or special interest lobbyists. I’m an independent, free-forward thinking individual that will make decisions based on people in the district,” he said.

The Democratic primary is set for Tuesday, June 26.

QueensCountyPolitics.com: Congressional Candidate Achille Announces Fed Plan To Help Veterans

Brandon Jordan

Democratic candidate for New York’s 5th Congressional District Carl Achille advocated stronger protections and benefits for veterans in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ St. Albans Community Living Center on Thursday morning.

The press conference, held in St. Albans, featured Achille and representatives from MILENA, or the Military and Law Enforcement Veterans Association, and Emerging Technologies. Achille organized the press conference a few days before Armed Forces Day this Saturday.

“At one time, the Fifth Congressional District had the most veterans residing in our communities than anywhere else in the state of New York. To this day, we are not far off,” Achille said.

 Congressional candidate Carl Achille. Photo by Brandon Jordan

Congressional candidate Carl Achille.
Photo by Brandon Jordan

Achille, an Iraq War veteran, is the Democratic challenger against U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, JFK Airport). Achille is challenging the 20-year incumbent in the Democratic primary this summer.

In St. Albans, Achille focused on the struggles that veterans face in the United States. From homelessness to drug use, veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan war have experienced severe issues. The Department of Veteran Affairs itself reports that veterans with substance abuses have a higher risk of suicide.

“That’s simply not right, not here and not in the United States of America. We can do better. We must do more for our veterans,” he said.

Achille shared his plan for veterans if elected to Congress this year. A few ideas he proposed includes keeping all VA hospitals open and enhance the veterans’ home loan guarantee to ensure housing for service members. He noted that the latter is only directed toward certain veterans.  

“This is simply not right, we must open it up to all veterans who served,” he said.

He also favored increasing the pay of service members to support families and cover cost of living. Achille did not believe the current salary, about $30,000, for certain members was enough.

Guerlinz Affriany, founder and chairman of MILENA, spoke about the services his organization provides for veterans as well as the needs that many require.

“As a veteran, we learn to provide. We don’t beg people for food or money,” he said.

The Democratic primary for federal seats is on June 26th.  

LiHerald.com: Activists to county, more cancer tests

By Timothy Denton

Community activist Mimi Pierre-Johnson and congressional candidate Carl Achille met with a small group of supporters on March 9, along the banks of the greasy gray waters of Elmont Creek. Their purpose was to call attention to the elevated rates of certain cancers in the community, still unexplained after many years of effort by community groups, and to urge more extensive tests

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Nassau County is crisscrossed with creeks and drainage canals like this one, and it is dotted with lakes and ponds as well, from Bellmore to Freeport to Massapequa to Wantagh. Some are littered with plastic bags and cups like the creek in Elmont, so it doesn’t appear exceptional. And those who addressed the group were careful to stress that no causal links have ever been found between the creek and cancer in Elmont. But with some cancer rates at more than double those of the state as a whole, the group was calling on all public officials to redouble their efforts to find the cause.

Pierre-Johnson and Achille both wanted to see more extensive testing of Elmont’s water and soil. “This is something we’ve been living with and asking for, for years, Achille said. “If the problem is too much for the town and county to handle on their own, we may need the support of federal agencies.” The question is especially personal to Achille, whose mother was diagnosed in 2016, with inoperable lung cancer. “Now, though, when we most need their resources, [President] Trump wants to cut the EPA budget.”

Specifically, the group said they want wider environmental testing for the volatile organic compounds known to have been present in the area in the past decades, and which do not appear in any of the water quality reports that county officials say have been sent out annually since at least 2002, the first year for which online versions of the reports appear. At the same time, both Pierre-Johnson and Achille also stressed the need for wider screening among residents — a point underscored with equal force by county health officials earlier this month. Several types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer, have high rates of survival if detected early, those officials said, and checking for genetic markers can help identify residents at higher risk, because some cancers — breast and colorectal cancers, for example — may have genetic components.

“This whole street used to be gas stations,” Pierre-Johnson said, pointing to Elmont Rd., by way of explaining the event’s location. “After the 7-Elevens stopped selling gas, they took the tanks out and said they cleaned up the soil. But we never saw any test results, and we don’t know if it’s ever been tested since they left.” The main thoroughfares in Elmont still are lined with gas stations. “They keep putting them up, one after another,” Pierre-Johnson said. “I use filters on the water at my house, but the water still isn’t clear. So it’s hard to know what ‘clean’ means.”

“Right now, the situation almost seems permanent,” Achille said. “It’s been an issue going back to the 80s.” He added that it was one reason he decided to contest the seat in New York’s 5th Congressional District currently held by Rep. Gregory Meeks, Democrat of Jamaica. “He doesn’t know this community and hasn’t been here on this issue.”

Elmont is in the Water Authority of Western Nassau County and sits atop the same aquifers as Jamaica. Until 2007, Jamaica’s residential water supplies came partly from 87 surface-drilled wells, according to the New York City Environmental Protection web site. Those wells have since been capped. All groundwater in New York City is treated with chlorine and fluorine, as well as a variety of other food-grade chemicals, according to the same source. These are commonly found in the water supplies of many cities and are judged safe by the EPA at the levels they are used.

Achille charged that some of the EPA’s safety standards have been relaxed since the Trump administration took office in 2017. To date, nearly 60 EPA standards or roll-backs have been, or soon will be overturned, according to a January New York Times report. So far, however, only two have to do with groundwater directly. Some standards were relaxed under President George W. Bush as well, but no evidence has yet been found to suggest that the list included Benzene or Toluene or any of the heavy metals known to have leached into the acquirer from the one Superfund site in the area.

“I’ve been trying to get answers for so long,” said Pierre-Johnson, echoing Achille. Pierre Johnson was president of the Argo Civic Association in 2010, when Achille was serving as president of the Parkhurst Civic Association. She ran for the State Assembly against Patrick Nicolosi and Edward Ra that year, in the 21st district. She lost in the Democratic primary to Nicolosi, another long-time cancer activist who has been speaking out on the subject for more than four decades. Nicolosi is currently being treated for medullary thyroid cancer. Pierre-Johnson then ran as a third-party candidate in the general election, on the Working Families slate. There, she was defeated by Edward Ra, who currently represents the 22nd district. The 21st district seat is held by Brian Curran. “After so many years of fighting and being active, getting nowhere, I finally just got worn out and had to take a break,” Pierre-Johnson said. “But I’m back and ready to get involved again.”

“The citizens of Elmont need to know more about these high rates of cancer here,” said activist Tamar Paoli. “We’ve been hearing for years that nothing is wrong, the water is safe, the soil is clean. If nothing is wrong, why are we sick? What about the planes that fly over every 10 minutes? What about the other sources of air pollution? If no one knows, why aren’t they trying to find out? We just want more testing, and we want people to be aware of the need personally for regular screening and check-ups. We want to get to the bottom of this and not wait for another generation of our friends and families to get sick and die.”

LiHerald.com: Achille to challenge Meeks in 5th District

By Timothy Denton

Longtime Elmont community activist Carl Achille announced last week that he would challenge Rep. Gregory Meeks for the Democratic nomination in the 5th Congressional District.

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Achille may be facing an uphill battle against the incumbent. Meeks has never received less than 65 percent of the vote in his 11 congressional outings. In many cases, he ran unopposed. He has yet to face a serious primary challenge and has beaten back every challenge since reapportionment in 2012, winning by at least the same 65 percent margin as in the generals.

Achille, who is both a veteran of the Iraq war and a New York Police Department detective, is undeterred. Although Brooklyn-born Achille now lives in Elmont, “I have deep roots in Queens,” he said. “I grew up in Jamaica and Queens Village and still have family there,” he said. Jamaica is considered part of Meeks’s core constituency.

Achille currently serves as president of the Parkhurst Civic Association, known most recently for its stance against the Belmont Park hockey arena project. Achille has not himself taken a public position on the project, whose impact on the district as a whole is open to question. Public opposition could place the candidate in a delicate position, since such Democratic heavyweights as Gov. Andrew Cuomo are known for their energetic support of the project.

Achille said his decision to take Meeks on was motivated by his perception that “Meeks is just going through the motions. He’s not really doing the job in Washington. We need a full-time congressman who will fight for the whole district, not just a part of it.” Besides Jamaica and Elmont, the 5th District comprises parts of Floral Park, Franklin Square, Lawrence, the Rockaways and about a third of Valley Stream.

Local voters questioned about Meeks’s record in serving the district agreed with Achille’s assessment of him as an absentee congressman. “We only ever see him at election time,” said community activist Mimi Pierre-Johnson.

Many issues playing out on the national stage, such as the Deferred Admittance for Childhood Applicants, or DACA, question, also resonate strongly with local communities. Achille is of Haitian ancestry, and the 5th District has a large immigrant population. Elmont itself has a Haitian population of some 3,500, out of a total population of roughly 33,000.

In addition, Elmont has been fighting for many years for an investigation into its water quality. The community has a cancer rate many times the national average, and while local citizens and civic groups have pressed for government action, to date their efforts have fallen on deaf ears. Achille said the issue is also a personal one, because his mother suffers from lung cancer. “She was diagnosed in 2016,” he said, “and thank God she is still with us, but this is a huge problem for the community.”

Despite his outsized election victories, Meeks has been tagged a number of times as one of the most corrupt members of Congress during his more than 20 years as a representative. However, from his alleged relationship with former Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez to alleged illegal campaign contributions from the Stanford Financial Group, none of the charges have ever been proved. The House Ethics Committee investigated Meeks in 2012 for alleged campaign finance irregularities as well, but again, no charges were proved.

The organization most often responsible for charges against Meeks — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — has itself drawn criticism for the disproportionate number of charges against particular groups. For example, CREWs has disproportionately leveled charges against Democrats, including several leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus.

COMMUNITY LEADER VOWS TO CONTINUE TO BE A VOICE FOR THE COMMUNITY. ACHILLE CHALLENGES LONG TIME DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT FOR CONGRESS.

CONTACT: Denise Molina Capers, info@achilleforcongress.com

ELMONT, NY Carl Achille officially announced his candidacy for the 05th Congressional District of New York. Achille’s campaign is built upon years of leadership in civil service, community service, and youth empowerment. He is taking his unwavering commitment to the next level by campaigning to effectively advocate for all of the communities of the 5th Congressional District that unfortunately have been overlooked and underrepresented for way too long.

Achille’s message was clear, “I want to do what is necessary to bring the resources we need to bring jobs, lower taxes, and to overall provide a better quality of life for our families.”

Achille who lives in Elmont, stated that it’s evident that so many people in the district are tired of the status quo and are ready for change, and desperately want new representation. “I have respect for Congressman Meeks, but I, along with many, many others in the district feel like he’s just going through the motions and is not doing the work in Washington.”

He vowed once elected that his top priorities would be healthcare for all and funding for Cancer research, push for the ban of military assault weapons, economic development in the region, and creating a pathway to citizenship so that dreamers in pursuit of the American Dream, just like his parents, can have the same opportunity.

His commitment to service is evident in the various leadership roles he holds within his community and as a professional public servant. Whether it’s fighting for sustainable economic development, fighting to ensure the streets are safe for our children or creating scholarship programs to build a better future for our youth, Achille’s dedication to serving his community knows no bounds. He will fight for all Constituents in the 05th Congressional district like he has done his entire life.

LiHerald.com: Trash-fouled creek has many Parkhurst residents up in arms

By Vanessa Parker

Wrappers, beer cans and soda bottles are strewn everywhere. There's a random shopping cart full of metal wheelchair parts and used plastic bags. This is what residents living along a murky, shallow stream that runs parallel to Elmont Road in Elmont's Parkhurst neighborhood see.

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Carl Achille, a New York Police Department detective, has lived in the community since 1995, attending Gotham Avenue School and Elmont Memorial High School. He has been a member of the Parkhurst Civic Association since his return home from serving in Iraq in 2004, at age 20, when he was named the membership vice president. Last year, he was elected president. Because of his longtime involvement in the community, people felt comfortable approaching him about the litter problem, he said.

"I have spoken with dozens of business people and residents along the creek, who have complained about this matter and are fed up with the lack of action, and are afraid of retribution," Achille said. "They complain that when they close up their shops and businesses for the night, upon arrival in the morning, they find trash, empty beer bottles and worse in their lots and on their properties."

The creek, which flows underneath the side streets perpendicular to Elmont Road, is about as wide as a car. It originates near Belmont Park and empties into Jamaica Bay. It has had many names over the years, including Hook Creek, Simonson Creek, Old Mill Creek and Brookville Creek, according to Sergei Kadinsky, a local blogger who wrote the book "Hidden Waters of NYC." The most commonly accepted name for the Elmont section of the creek, according to Kadinsky, is Simonson Creek.

Achille said that he was uncertain who is responsible for the maintenance of the creek, so he said he was unsure whom to call for help. Trash must, however, be cleaned up, grass mowed and a chain-link fence surrounding the creek repaired to prevent public access, he said. 

Nassau County "used to come around and lay out rat traps, but [has] neglected to do so for so long that [residents] are afraid the rats will infest their homes and businesses," Achille said. "Other people I've spoken to stated that when the crews come to clean the creek, all they do is weed-whack the same spot for two or three hours and leave."

Trash isn't the only problem, he said. "Kids are tagging graffiti, and other suspicious persons are hanging out in the dark along the creek's bed because the fences are unlocked and unsecured," he said. "One homeowner has also said that a couple times he's had to chase people in pickup trucks from illegally dumping in the creek."

Elmont resident Roy Facey doesn't live in Parkhurst, but his home is near the creek, farther downstream. He can attest to what Achille and others have said about its current condition, agreeing that it has be cleaned up. 

"The creek is a tributary supplying the water to a pond near me with dirty, polluted water," he said. "In this pond,  the only thing you see are birds - ducks trying to swim in this slow, dirty water. This is deplorable and disgusting and shouldn't be like this at all."

The Herald contacted the Town of Hempstead, where spokeswoman Susan Trenkle-Pokalsky researched and found that the creek is a county property.

Amanda Laikin, a county spokeswoman, said there would be someone available to come out to the creek and attend to the situation.

"That ravine is under county jurisdiction, so our Department of Public Works will be the ones to clean up the litter," she confirmed in an email. "I can notify someone over there, and they will send someone out at their earliest convenience."

Laikin added that whenever residents living near the creek notice that it hasn't been maintained, or see suspicious activity around it, they are welcome to contact the Nassau County Constituent Affairs Office at (516) 571-6000 to report any issues.

"This is a quality-of-life issue," Achille said. "It's disgusting to see the creek like this. Hopefully we will get it cleaned up as soon as possible."

LiHerald.com: Combining leadership and community activism

By Vanessa Parker

About 30 community members and leaders attended the Parkhurst Civic Association's second annual Membership Mixer on Jan. 27 at Elmont American Legion Post 1033, where they discussed economic development and improving the quality of life in their neighborhood.

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The association is one of seven civic groups in Elmont. 

A $10 donation was requested of the attendees, half of which was set aside to benefit the local veterans at Post 1033. The goal of the mixer, according to PCA President Carl Achille, was to bring people together for the first time in the new year, and to catch up on new developments in the community.

"It's going to be a great opportunity to see what we've been up to the past year," Achille said. "It's a great time to network with our elected officials, small business owners, civic leaders, members and neighbors."

The evening began with remarks by the Rev. Ralph Taylor, of Emanuel Baptist Church in Elmont and dinner fare. The mixer included featured guest speaker George Maragos, the Nassau County comptroller, as well as County Legislator Carrie Solages; Aubrey Phillips, a community activist and information technology consultant; and Achille.

One of the topics Maragos touched on was taxes. "People pay a disproportionate amount of tax money in Nassau County," he said, "and that's because most people don't know they can file a tax grievance."

Solages said that he was available to help residents with the forms they need to file to grieve their taxes. "If you don't grieve this year, you'll be forced to pay more next year," he said. "There are programs and people available to assist you to make it easy for you. Seek out the help. It's there for you."

Solages also said that he wanted to help foster economic development in Elmont. "What we need is a Long Island Rail Road stop, not Belmont racetrack development," he said. "We must find ways to best use our time to create economic development. We must also tell people to invest in Elmont, and we need ideas that will bring them here."

Phillips expressed relief that none of the plans put forth thus far for redeveloping Belmont Park have been approved, and especially that the New York Cosmos' proposal for a soccer complex had been met with strong opposition.

"I was up at 4 a.m. walking the streets of Elmont, putting up 'No Soccer' signs," Phillips said. "My neighbor caught me. He happened to have the same idea, too, and along with him and a few others, we just got up and made a stand. Now it's a victory. We didn't give in to this type or economic development at any cost."

Solages said that if it weren't for Phillips's efforts, "we'd have a half-built soccer stadium" today, noting that his resistance to the idea is the right spirit for citizens to have.

"Though our president of the United States doesn't agree with us, it's important to engage in some resistance," Solages said. "Engage yourself in community issues and concerns and get involved. That's what this association is all about."

Getting involved at the community level is important to a thriving community, Achille added. "As an NYPD detective, I get a lot of questions about police exams, as in when the next test is being given and what to expect," he said. "What we need are more people to take that test and become police officers, for example. We need to get more of our people working in our community. We also hope people have experience in finances and how our community works." 

The evening ended with some R&B and hip-hop music as attendees mingled.

Newsday: Nassau community leaders seek more cops after taxi holdups

By Nicole Fuller Updated July 21, 2016 11:22 PM

Community leaders in Nassau County are calling for more police patrols in the wake of at least nine armed robberies of taxi drivers since late last year that police believe are part of a pattern.

The most recent holdup occurred Monday in Roosevelt when a cabbie working for Freeport-based Taxi Taxi suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot in the back by a fare, police said.

It was the second shooting of a cabbie during a robbery in Nassau since the start of the year, but police said a February holdup in which a cabbie was wounded is not connected to the broader pattern.

The Nassau police department is stretched thin and needs more funding to hire new officers and step up patrols, said Carl Achille, president of the Parkhurst Civic Association in Elmont and a family friend of the cabbie shot Monday.

“I would say most of the people in the civic associations and in our membership in particular, they do feel unsafe and they do feel that they would like to see more police and they would like to see people do more to prevent crimes in their community, especially violent crimes,” said Achille, who works in law enforcement in New York City.

Achille called on Nassau Executive Edward Mangano to increase police funding.

“Residents pay a lot of taxes and we deserve more funding and better resources,” said Achille, who along with Democratic State Senate candidate Adam Haber, is offering a $1,000 reward for an arrest and conviction in the case.

The department has hired close to 700 officers in the past two years amid a record number of retirements. In June, the department hired 154 new recruits and plans to hire another class of officers in October, officials have said.

“We invite the civic leader to meet with the police commissioner and learn how the county has been hiring new police officers over the past year and has more classes on the way,” said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin in a statement.

Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the pattern of nine armed robberies of taxi drivers, which began in November, is among the department’s top priorities. Krumpter said he is planning to announce an increased reward, up from the $5,000 currently offered by Nassau Crime Stoppers, for the arrest and prosecution of the robber or robbers Monday.

“Either an individual or a group of individuals is targeting cabdrivers. We are aggressively investigating it,” said Krumpter, who would not say if investigators had narrowed the list of suspects. “We have a significant amount of resources dedicated to the pattern.”

Ahmad Naderi, owner of West Hempstead-based Taxi America, said his drivers have been victims in four attacks.

“The police need to be doing more. It’s too much time before they get to an incident,” Naderi said.

Krumpter said response times are “among the quickest anywhere in law enforcement.”

Newsday: Invest in Elmont program seeks more young entrepreneurs

By Lisa Du August 29, 2012 10:28 AM

The Invest in Elmont program encourages students to think of creative ways to invest in their local community. But the program's co-founder, Muzzio Tallini, said he sees the students as investments themselves.

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Invest in Elmont is a yearlong school program that mentors high school juniors and seniors, as well as college students residing in Elmont, to write a business proposal on how they would vitalize and invest in their local community. The student with the best business proposal wins a $5,000 scholarship at the end of the year.

By getting younger students excited about coming up with ideas that may help their community, Tallini is hoping more young Long Islanders will consider staying on the island or coming back after college to work and invest locally.

"This scholarship is to try to take advantage of our location and our students," Tallini said. "And to stop that migration of students that leave Long Island and never come back."

Tallini himself grew up in Floral Park and left Long Island for a period before coming back, and now works as a property developer. He started Invest in Elmont with Carl Achille, who owns a barber shop in Elmont a few doors down from where Tallini's offices are based.

Last year's winning proposal for Invest in Elmont was written by Titus Williams, a student at SUNY Old Westbury. Williams' idea was to turn the Belmont Park area into an entertainment and sports complex and revitalize the Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont to attract visitors from New York City.

The program's flagship contest was held among students at Sewanhaka High School and Elmont Memorial High School. But this year, Invest in Elmont is expanding -- at the beginning of this school year in September, the program will be open to the entire Sewanhaka Central High School District. It will also continue to be open to college students who reside in the area.