Archive for the 'News & Features' Category

tayba

Source: Google Maps

UPDATE (4:21 p.m.): The Times has more on both incidents. On the Midwood incident:

On Friday evening, outside a prayer gathering preceding the nightly meal, men in a white Lexus flung eggs at three elderly worshipers entering a mosque on Coney Island Avenue. “This is for your Allah!” the vandals shouted.

And on the Bay Ridge incident:

Two days later, just as dawn broke on Sunday, 25 blocks away, a group of teenagers rolled past the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge seven times in a car, blaring with makeshift sirens and lights. “Burn to the ground!” they chanted as they waved Israeli flags. When the car stopped, a young worshiper retaliated by hurling a bottle, nicking one of the hecklers on his nose and hands.

UPDATE (4:13 p.m.): We just heard back from sources at the 61st Precinct, who tell us that the two incidents appear to be separate. Those in the vehicle involved in the Midwood incident did not wave Israeli flags or display anything related to Israel or Judaism. From a white vehicle, they pelted the worshipers with eggs. Both incidents are being investigated by the Hate Crimes Task Force.

Original post:

A group of hooligans circled mosques in Midwood and Bay Ridge over the weekend, shouting anti-Muslim slurs and pelting worshipers with eggs, according to local religious leaders.

NY1 reports:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says a car circled a Bay Ridge mosque while its passengers waved Israeli flags and yelled anti-Islamic slurs Sunday morning.

A spokesman for a Sheepshead Bay mosque says a similar incident happened there Friday, but the group in the car also threw eggs at elderly worshipers.

JPUpdates identified the Sheepshead Bay mosque as Tayba Islamic Center, located at 2165 Coney Island Avenue, just south of Avenue R in Midwood. According to that outlet, the incidents were caught on surveillance cameras and the video has been turned over to police.

The incidents came to light during a press conference on Tuesday hosted by the Islamic Society Center of Bay Ridge, where the actions were condemned by local politicians and Jewish and Muslim religious leaders.

JPUpdates reported on their statements:

“We will not tolerate the desecration of any type against churches, mosques and synagogues in this city,” State Senator Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) declared.

“At this center, we have been with good relationships with everybody around us—all the neighbors around us, irrespective of their religion, irrespective of their ethnic origin—we are good with everybody,” Dr. Husam Rimawi, President of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, said.

… Councilmember Vincent Gentile read a statement on behalf of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am appalled by the reports of intimidation and harassment against mosques in New York. We have seen this ugly side rear its head before. Our city has also spent many years trying to heal and bridge divides,” Mark-Viverito said. “All people have the right to worship freely, without threats. Religious freedom is a core principle of our nation and protected by the Constitution.”

.. “It really breaks my heart,” Jewish community leader Douglas Jablon said. “We are relatives — we have the same grandfather, and we should act like it,” he said.

“It makes me very deeply sad that anyone would behave in a harassing way to someone else’s worship,” Rabbi Valerie Lieber of the Kane Street Synagogue said. “I know many people are very upset about what is happening in Israel and Gaza. And yet there are appropriate ways to express yourself — not to harass other people.”

Sampson (File photo)

State Senator John Sampson, facing three primary challengers and multiple federal corruption charges, has the backing of Brooklyn’s top Democrat even as his reelection chances look bleak.

The influential chair of the Kings County Democratic Committee, Frank Seddio, says that the organization is not formally backing the embattled pol. Seddio, however, is also a district leader in Sampson’s area and the head of the powerful Thomas Jefferson Club. In those capacities, he’s tossed his hat in with Sampson.

“I’m the local district leader in this area. John Sampson represents almost my entire political district, 59 percent of my district, and he’s been our senator for the last 18 years,” Seddio told City & State. “So our club is supporting him. The county (Democratic committee) doesn’t take positions on these types of things.”

Seddio has put his attorney to getting Sampson challenger Dell Smitherman, considered a leading contender for the seat, kicked off the ballot. The attorney, Bernard “Mitch” Alter, has formally requested that the Board of Election toss out hundreds of petitions – signatures needed to get on the ballot – which would leave Smitherman out of the race.

Sources told City & State that Seddio views the race as a test of his leadership within the county party, not just within the Jefferson clubhouse that Sampson is a member of.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the inner workings of Brooklyn politics described the situation differently, linking Seddio’s support for Sampson directly to the official Brooklyn party organization.

“Frank Seddio, the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, is taking two races very seriously and as a test of his leadership,” said the Brooklyn political insider. “The first is the recently vacated seat of Eric Adams, and the second is the Sampson seat. He is doing everything he can … to ensure that John Sampson is protected and reelected.”

While the county organization might not be formally backing Sampson, there’s little to differentiate between Seddio’s wishes and that of county. Having Seddio’s support, for example, could give Sampson access to campaign donors eager to curry favor with the county boss, not to mention that it’s already given him access to election lawyers as the petition process shows.

Similarly, Seddio’s influence as county boss extends to all of his other roles, insiders say.

One insider with a Democratic club told Sheepshead Bites that Seddio was unhappy with the group after they released their first batch of endorsements, which included Smitherman. Seddio requested that he be consulted on future endorsements – a request that was granted as the club needs Seddio’s approval as a recognized chapter of the Democratic party. In that role, he was able to vouch for his candidates as district leader and head of the Thomas Jefferson Club, but his words were given extra consideration because he’s county chair, the insider said. (The insider notes that they now consult with him on all endorsements, although they do not always endorse the candidates Seddio supports.)

Seddio’s support is about all Sampson can count on, though. The 18-year-incumbent and one-time head of the State Senate Democratic Conference has seen support dry up, raising only $34,000 for this year’s campaign. Smitherman reports having $47,000 on hand, and Sean Henry reported nearly $56,000. Both Smitherman and Henry have also scored crucial union endorsements.

Sampson was indicted last year for corruption. Among the list of charges is that he stole nearly half a million dollars from the sale of foreclosed homes.

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook via Daily News)

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook via Daily News)

A good Samaritan yanked a 10-year-old girl and her 9-year-old sister from the water at Coney Island beach after seeing them fall off a nearby rock jetty, but the older girl did not survive.

Takara McDuffy was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital shortly after the 7 p.m. beach rescue near Stillwell Avenue. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death, but it is presumed to be a drowning.

The girls, from Staten Island, were playing at the beach with a group of family friends. Witnesses told reporters that they were playing on the jetty unsupervised and fell into the water. Bystanders jumped to action, and pulled both girls to shore.

The New York Post reports:

“People came rushing from all over to help out. It was horrible, it was chaotic,” said witness Ena ­McCaskill.

After a frantic, 10-minute search, a man found the girl floating about 100 yards from the jetty.

“He had a sound of desperation in his voice,” McCaskill recalled. “He was yelling for somebody to help him save the girl.”

Another good Samaritan administered CPR on the beach.

“A regular guy grabbed her and started doing CPR,” said witness Joseph ­Josephs, 24. “He was pounding her chest for a good minute. A lot of water was coming from her mouth.”

McDuffy’s parents lashed out at those who were supposed to be watching over their daughters, the Daily News reports.

The gathered friends and family demanded to know why little Takara – who could not swim – was apparently unsupervised by the group of adults she had gone to the beach with.

“It took a man to jump into the water and pull her out. Some man saw Takara’s body floating and he jumped in,” the family member said.

“Why wasn’t nobody paying attention? You was there all day and let her go in the water. Why wouldn’t you ask if she could swim?”

The incident happened less than an hour after lifeguards packed up for the evening. Swimming is prohibited at city beaches after 6:00 p.m., and there were no lifeguards on duty.

According to Borough President Eric Adams, it’s the sixth drowning death of the summer. Along with Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Adams will hold a press conference near the beach today to reiterate his call for citywide reforms to make public beaches safer, and will also be distributing the following fliers sharing water safety tips.

Water Safety Tips

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by Diana Bruk

White Island, Marine Park inlet (Source: Google Maps)

White Island (Source: Google Maps)

A group of New Yorkers hailing from all five boroughs gathered early Saturday morning at the Marine Park salt marsh for a rare canoeing adventure to White Island. The three-hour, complimentary guided tour was the second and last trip of the season, and the island (which is wrapping up construction), is only accessible by water and currently closed to those unaccompanied by an Urban Park Ranger.

Our visit was one of the first opportunities to see the island in the final phases of a $15 million restoration that began in 2011. After years of erosion and naturally shifting wetland topography, White Island – also known as Mau Mau Island – was re-shored, cleaned up, purged of invasive phragmites, and replanted with native grasses to serve as a habitat for migratory birds.

Read about our trip to the wilds of White Island, and see the pretty photos.

grimm2Congressman Michael Grimm, facing a 20-count indictment on tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices, may now head to trial in October, a month before elections.

SILive reports:

Speaking at a status conference in Brooklyn federal court on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gatta said that motion procedures and hearings in the case could be held by the end of September, with a trial to begin the following month.

… Gatta said that the discovery in the case is “not particularly voluminous” and that the case itself “is fairly straightforward.”

Grimm’s new attorney, Daniel Rashbaum, said that that “schedule may be OK. I don’t know yet.”

He sought a three- or four-week delay so that he could look at the evidence. By then, Rashbaum said, he’d have a better idea “what the discovery looks like in my mind.”

But U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen said she would give Rashbaum, who notified the court last week that he was taking over the defense, two weeks to “dive into the material.”

Prior to the conference yesterday, observers believed Grimm would not go to trial until after the November 4 elections, when he faces off against Democrat Domenic Recchia. If the prosecution’s request for an October court date is granted, it would be a significant blow to the pol, who will have to fight simultaneously for his seat and his freedom.

Source: beigeinside/Flickr

B LINE

From 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Friday, Manhattan-bound B trains run local from Kings Hwy to Prospect Park.

Q LINE

From 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Kings Hwy.

F LINE

From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there are no F trains between Roosevelt Av and 21 St-Queensbridge. F service operates in two sections as follows:

  1. Between 179 St and Roosevelt Av.
  2. Between Coney Island and 21 St-Queensbridge.

What a perfect photo for this article. (Source: Pedro Vezini/Flickr)

A recent report is raising questions about several local doctors who rank among the nation’s highest earners for Medicare claims, with many of them seeing the same patients thousands of times in just a few short months.

The doctors – occupational therapists, chiropractors and physical therapists – have been walking a quasi-legal line, sharing patients through a network in which they are seen, and billed, multiple times on the same day. One chiropractor and an occupational therapist had overlapping patients that were seen on the same day more than 11,000 times in 18 months, according to USA Today.

While referring patients to other doctors is common, a high frequency could indicated what experts call “churning” – cross-referring within a known network for financial gain and not medical need, and possibly for a kickback. The local network is also unusual because chiropractors, physical therapists and occupational therapists usually compete with one another, and would be unlikely to send referrals.

After reviewing Medicare data nationwide, USA Today found Southern Brooklyn docs stood out for their high referral rates. Here’s how they detailed the network:

The USA TODAY analysis found that six practitioners in Brooklyn all regularly saw the same patients, often treating each person dozens of times. Medicare paid the six a total of nearly $15 million in 2012, the only calendar year that payment data is publicly available. Additional practitioners also fed into and benefited from the referral network, but at smaller rates than the top half-dozen.

For example, physical therapist Wael Bakry and occupational therapist Victor Genkin, both part of the network, are the first and second biggest recipients of Medicare money in 2012 in their respective fields.

Medicare paid Bakry about $4.1 million for performing more than 184,000 procedures on 1,959 patients. Genkin brought in more than $2.3 million from seeing fewer than 1,200 patients.

According to Medicare’s data, over 18 months the two shared more than 700 clients, who saw both regularly — as many as 25 times each.

The top earning chiropractor in the nation, Brooklyn’s Alexander Khavash, was also a top referrer to Bakry and Genkin. According to the Medicare data, Bakry and Khavash shared more than 1,200 patients between them.

Often, but not always, the physical therapist and chiropractor saw patients back-to-back. One group of patients made a total of more than 17,000 visits to both doctors on the same day — an average of 13 times per patient — over an 18 month span.

The patients also regularly cycled through internist Abraham Demoz, who has used the same address as Genkin and Bakry. For example, Khavash saw 2,060 patients in 2012, according to the Medicare payment records. Demoz shared almost 1,800 of them with him over 18 months, the data show. Demoz and Genkin had about the same amount of patient overlap.

Mayura Kanekar is another Brooklyn provider who is part of the same circle.

Kanekar brought in nearly $3 million as the top Medicare-earning occupational therapist in the country in 2012. Occupational therapists work on people’s fine motor skills so they can perform daily tasks. Over the 18 months covered by Medicare’s referral data, a group of about 800 patients routinely visited both her and Khavash on the same day — seeing the two specialists back-to-back a total of 11,621 times.

None of the federal law enforcement officials USA TODAY interviewed would comment about whether any of the individuals are under investigation.

Some of those docs have also come up in other recent reports for their unusually high billing.

The USA Today report is lengthy and detailed – and a worthwhile read. Their reporters go to find the doctors at their listed medical offices, only to find abandoned storefronts or residential buildings. The look into the causes for the high rate of Medicare claims, and also address investigators’ challenges in finding and prosecuting such cases. Check it out, then feel sad.

marine-one

Marine One, a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King carrying President Obama, flew over West End Avenue apartment buildings on Friday. Also, a bird.

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): The neighborhood received a presidential flyover this week, with President Barack Obama soaring over Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach on his way to some fundraisers Thursday. He took off from John F. Kennedy airport with three choppers – Marine One and an escort of a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King and an Osprey. Cool fact: the Osprey attachment, pictured below and which carries Secret Service, White House staff and reporters, is ultra-lux, decked out with leather seats and other amenities. Fits right in with Brighton Beach, no? His trip home was delayed due to a suspicious package at the White House. No matter what your political persuasion, seeing these in the air is pretty badass.

Here are some of the big stories you may have missed this week. You can keep up with what’s going on in the neighborhood all week long. Just follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our daily newsletter. If you have any news tips, story ideas, questions or anything else, e-mail us at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

We have real osprey’s in Jamaica Bay, but here’s that big, ol’ metal one with leather seats flying over the Manhattan Beach building I’ve always referred to as Saddam’s other palace:

marine-osprey

Source: MichaelTapp/Flickr

Q LINE

From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, Q service is extended to Ditmars Blvd.

F LINE

From 11:15 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts.

  • Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza.
  • To 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av/63 St, and 57 St, take the Coney Island-bound F to 47-50 Sts and transfer to a Jamaica-bound F.
  • From 21 St-Queensbridge and Roosevelt Island, take a Jamaica-bound F to Roosevelt Av and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.
  • From Lexington Av/63 St, use the nearby 59 St 4/5/6 station for downtown local service to 51 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F at the E/M platform.
  • From 57 St, use the nearby 57 St-7 Av N/Q/R station for downtown service to 34 St-Herald Sq and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the A from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.

  • To B’way-Lafayette St, transfer to the D at W 4 St.
  • To 2 Av, Delancey St, and East Broadway, take the Coney Island-bound F to Jay St-MetroTech and transfer to a Jamaica-bound F.
  • From these stations, take a Jamaica-bound F to W 4 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.
  • To/from York St, use the nearby High St A station.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains skip Sutphin Blvd, Van Wyck Blvd, and 75 Av.

erica-bike

The horror! The unacceptable, outrageous horror!

The bicycle of Sheepshead Bites’ own Erica Sherman was pilfered yesterday in broad daylight at one of the neighborhood’s busiest intersections. And nobody saw nothin’.

Sherman locked her bike to the Bay’s railing at 10:30 a.m., at the intersection of Sheepshead Bay Road and Emmons Avenue. When she came back to the spot at approximately 2:30 p.m., she was shocked to find that her only means of transportation was little more than a cruddy public art display.

The thief made off with two tires with matching 8-ball gauge caps, front and back strobe lights, and an American flag bell, the last of which was surely a win for terrorism.

The location is popular with strolling neighbors, shoppers, restaurant patrons, fisherman and beachgoers. Hundreds of people, if not thousands, passed by it in the time it was locked up. And, somehow, somebody managed to go up to, inspect it, dismantle it, and walk away with their bounty without anybody saying a damn thing.

Is that the kind of neighborhood we want to be? One where neighbors aren’t looking out for each other?

Apparently, it’s not the first bike-related theft to happen at that intersection. Just a few weeks ago, also in broad daylight, a patron left his bicycle outside of Zephyr’s Deli (1729 Emmons Avenue). In the brief moment he went inside to talk to the clerk, someone hopped on his bicycle and took off.

While the thieves are the ones to blame, we can help thwart them in the future. A few things:

  • Don’t leave your bike unlocked and unattended. Not even for a moment.
  • U-locks only do so much. A chain lock that can be weaved through the frame and both tires is more secure.
  • Although it didn’t help in Erica’s situation, locking your bike in a high-trafficked, well-lighted place is better than a dark, empty street.
  • Get your bike registered with the NYPD. It won’t help if your tires are stolen, but if the entire bike is swiped and later recovered by the police, they can track it back to the original owner. Just by luck, there’s an event to do this on Monday, at 5 p.m., at Asser Levy Park.
  • Remove any dangly bits you don’t want stolen and that can’t be locked up, including American flag bells.

And for the rest of us? If you see something, say something.

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