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Administrators of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Congressman Bob Turner and New York City Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined together with nature enthusiasts and history buffs over the weekend, celebrating the grand reopening of the William Fitts Ryan Visitor Center at Floyd Bennett Field.

The event capped off a three-year effort that saw the building’s interior – once an unfriendly mess of paint chips, splintered wood and decrepit infrastructure – painstakingly restored to its 1930 appearance, including beautiful art deco furnishings and detail work on the interior.

Check out our photos of the stunning new center, as well as photos from Floyd Bennett’s Hangar B, home of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Project.

Bay Improvement Group is gearing up once again for the annual BayFest, taking place this year on Sunday, May 20.

The event will feature 21 bands, non-stop entertainment, Brooklyn Net’s mobile basketball unit, inflatable rides, an exhibit by the New York Aquarium and lots (lots!) more.

But in advance of the event, the group needs to corral dozens of volunteers to help pull off the big day. And, besides being a community do-gooder, there are plenty of perks for those vollies, including free food, t-shirts and more.

The group is having a meeting for volunteers tonight, so if you’re interested in joining come tonight at 8:00 p.m. to the Comfort Inn at 3218 Emmons Avenue. If you can’t make it tonight, you can e-mail bayimprovementgrp@gmail.com for more information.

THE BITE: The first time I took my now wife out to dinner, we ate in some swanky restaurant in Manhattan. I had steak au pouivre and I can’t remember what the future Mrs. Bites ordered. But I do remember that she only ate about half of her meal. I was a bit concerned. It was our first date, the conversation was going well, but, had she lost interest?

As I finished up my meal, I asked her if she wanted to finish her plate or take it home. She said no to both. Now, I thought, she just wants out. “Shoot, this didn’t go well,” I said to myself and asked the waiter for the check. Before the words were out of my mouth, she piped in with “Can I see the dessert menu please?”

You see, the wife is a dessert person. Desserts are the high point of any meal for her. Me, not so much. So today when my sweet tooth started to ache, I knew I had to satiate it. I remembered the Liege waffles that Arbuz (1705 Sheepshead Bay Road) offered up at A Taste of Sheepshead Bay and I knew they would do the trick. When I first tasted a plain waffle without any toppings at A Taste of Sheepshead Bay, I was struck with the sweetness of the exterior and the almost malty like flavor of the dough. I was hooked. This is my type of dessert.

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The Supreme Court judge overseeing the ballot disputes in the State Senate District 27 campaign threw out Councilman Lew Fidler’s allegations that a member of David Storobin’s campaign committed voter fraud, ordering the Board of Elections to count 119 disputed ballots likely to fall in favor of the GOP.

The Fidler campaign contended Storobin’s team committed voter fraud when a paid Storobin consultant intentionally gathered 119 absentee ballots for Russian voters who were capable of reaching the polls. In New York, voters can only cast absentee ballots if they are physically unable to get to the polls. However, at least 16 of those “permanently disabled” voters cast a vote in person on election day. After failing to appear in court on April 26, the consultant – Alla Pometko – was subpoenaed by the judge last week, when she declared her innocence.

The judge determined that Fidler’s evidence came up short, and that Pometko’s testimony appeared credible.

The court finds that petitioner has failed to meet his burden of establishing, by clear and convincing evidence, that Ms. Pometko or Storobin are chargeable with knowledge of any fraud with respect to the procurement of absentee ballots,” Judge Larry Martin wrote. “In fact, the evidence adduced at trial falls far short of the allegations contained in the petition and bill of particulars.”

Following the decision, the campaigns issued the following statements (published in order that they were issued):

Campaign spokesman David Simpson said, “We were right all along. Everything the Storobin campaign did to encourage voter participation in this election, especially our outreach efforts into the Russian community, was done in accordance with the law and 100% above board. Today the court affirmed that. The Fidler campaign has wasted time and taxpayer money trying to steal this election and disenfranchise Russian voters. But all they succeeded in doing was to delay the outcome of the election for another month. Once these ballots are counted, we are confident that David Storobin will regain his lead and will be declared the winner.”

From Lew Fidler:

We respect, but respectfully disagree with, the Court’s decision. Over 100 otherwise healthy people spontaneously declared themselves to be disabled in the presence of no one other than David Storobin’s staffer. This is a proven fact. The Storobin campaign knows exactly what it did here and purposefully set out to do it.

This election – and this count – are far from over. While we await the actual opening of these ballots, a hand recount of more than 22,000 ballots will undoubtedly follow. At the very least, as this will be a first manual recount since the use of the new scanners, we will find out if the new machines are in fact giving us all an accurate count. When all the ballots are double-checked for accuracy, we will know who will be entitled to take the oath of office.

In the interim, I will continue to work as hard as ever representing the people of my district in the City Council.

Stay tuned.

See the judge’s written decision after the jump.

“For every mountain and stream, tree and leaf, root and blossom, every form in nature is echoed in us and originates in the soul whose being is eternity.”

– Hermann Hesse

Photo by Randy Contello

Marine Park resident Michael Sabo, 38, was sentenced to 20 years-to-life, after admitting to sexually abusing two children over the course of several years.

The plea deal came just as Sabo was to go to trial, and it spared the two kids the painful ordeal of having to relive the experience through testimony on the stand.

Here’s the Daily News’ take:

He could have faced an “almost incalculable” sentence of up to hundreds of years if convicted by a jury for nine sex abuse and 120 child pornography charges, Justice Vincent Del Giudice told him.

The father of four, who used to work as a registered nurse, then finally copped.

He pleaded guilty to molesting a 5-year-old boy for five years starting in 2001 and to repeatedly forcing a little girl to engage in sex acts when she was between the ages 6 and 9.

“I had her perform oral sex on me,” Sabo, speaking almost inaudibly and leaning on the defense table, told the judge.

“One can argue that he is a victim himself,” said defense lawyer Jeffrey Schwartz, arguing that Sabo was likely a victim of sex abuse as a child.

The sordid case came to light a number of years ago, when someone saw a picture of the boy victim – clothed but tied up – on a Russian porn site and shared it with a rabbi. It took the rabbi two years to locate the child’s family and they eventually identified the second victim, a source said.

In the photo, Sabo’s hand is visible as well as the background of his Marine Park home. A search warrant unearthed some 120 child pornography images, about half of them videos.

Sabo lived on Burnett Street, one block from two different yeshivas. When the story first broke and Sabo was released on bail, local Jewish publications expressed the community’s outrage. They also noted that Sabo had attended a Jewish school made infamous by the deeds of a pedophile teacher. They wrote:

Sabo attended Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn. The school was made infamous when its owner, Lipa Margulies, deflected investigations of a longtime teacher, Yehuda Kolko, who last yearpleaded guilty to multiple counts of child endangerment and who is suspected of widespread sexual abuse. Sabo said he could not recall if he had been a victim of sexual abuse by Kolko.

“My therapist says it’s repressed, right now, but I don’t remember,” said Sabo.

The following is an announcement from the Russian American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Committee:

The Manhattan Beach Community Group notified the community of the death of Emanuel “Manny” Kahn, a community activist involved in the group. They wrote on their website:

The MBCG was notified of the passing of Emanuel “Manny” Kahn this past Saturday. He was a member of our group for many many years before he and his wife moved to Florida a few years ago.

Manny was committed to our community and to our group in many ways. His dedication to helping his neighbors and the many visitors to our Beach and Parks is unparalleled. Manny was chair of the Parks Committee and dedicated to making our neighborhood a welcoming experience to all who visited. He was also the first to develop a website for our group. He was involved with countles activities and always ready to get involved.

Manny was missed when he moved and now he will be missed forever. His many good deeds are an inspiration to his family and to all of us.

With the dust settling in Albany over redistricting, our neck of the woods is going to see a lot of new faces.

Manhattan Beach, for example, has already seen State Senator Marty Golden at recent civic meetings. The Republican politician representing Marine Park, parts of Sheepshead Bay, a huge swath of Bensonhurst and just about all of Bay Ridge has opened his office’s doors to the neighborhood, telling them he can handle constituent complaints. Of course, he doesn’t quite represent them yet – the new lines take effect in January. But with no political representation (it’s currently in Carl Kruger’s old district), he’s offering to pick up the slack.

And, of course, it also gets his name out there before elections in November, when he’ll be facing off against Democratic upstart Andrew Gounardes.

We’ve interviewed Gounardes before, when he made his case for the seat to Bensonhurst Bean readers.

Last night, Gounardes appeared before the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association to introduce himself and make his case again. In the video above, he talks about funding for public schools, Occupy Wall Street and mass transit.

We live here. We shop here. Some of us even work here. So when it comes to mass transit, we know what we want, what we need, and what we ain’t getting.

That’s why Sheepshead Bites is proud to announce the Sheepshead Bay Transit Town Hall, an evening workshop for brainstorming and proposing key fixes to mass transit in our area.

The event, held in conjunction with Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association and Transportation Alternatives’ Rider Rebellion Campaign, will kick off at 7:00 p.m. at Baron DeKalb – Knights of Columbus (3000 Emmons Avenue).

(TAKE OUR 3-MINUTE SURVEY AND LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON SHEEPSHEAD BAY MASS TRANSIT!)

We know what it’s like out there. If you live in Plumb Beach and want to get anywhere – good luck. Since the B4 was all but abolished (no weekend service, only certain brief hours during weekdays), the tens of thousands of residents south of the Belt Parkway and east of Bedford Avenue have no easy way to get around. If you get off the train at Sheepshead Bay train station, your only destination by bus is Nostrand Avenue or Ocean Avenue, unless you’re heading to Manhattan Beach or Coney Island. And, speaking of getting to other neighborhoods, there isn’t a single good bus option to get to Bensonhurst or Bay Ridge (or for them to get here!)

That’s why we’re asking you to come down next Thursday for the Town Hall, and help us put together a plan – by residents and for residents – to tweak the system to serve us better.

This is not an MTA gripe session. We’re not looking for generic complaints about the system, but proposals to fix the problems plaguing commuters. Among the issues to be discussed are:

  • Restoring full B4 service from Coney Island Hospital to Knapp Street (and perhaps tweaking the route to better serve residents)
  • Propose alterations to the B44 SBS route, which will replace the B44 Limited
  • Suggestions for better riding conditions on other bus and subway lines in the neighborhood

Better service not only means it’s easier for us to get around, but that it’s easier for residents from other Brooklyn neighborhoods to come here, shop here, eat here, sail here and support our local institutions. Better business for the Bay means better living conditions for its residents.

But we need your help. We need your ideas, and we need your presence. Once we as a neighborhood have developed a plan, our elected officials will take it to Albany and to the MTA. And, here at Sheepshead Bites, we’ll keep the pressure on with ongoing coverage.

So join us on May 17, and improve mass transit for all of Sheepshead Bay! (Don’t forget to take our survey, as we’ll be using the results at the Town Hall.)

WHEN: May 17, 2012 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Baron DeKalb – Knights of Columbus (3000 Emmons Avenue)
Refreshments will be served.