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.

The 61st Precinct Community Council will meet at 7:30 p.m., May 9, at the 61st Precinct (2575 Coney Island Avenue).

The Community Council offers neighbors an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns about crime and safety issues in the area. The monthly meetings are attended by Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas, the commanding officer of the precinct, who will present a report on incidents and trends in the neighborhood, and speak face-to-face with neighbors about specific concerns.

For further information, or if you have questions or comments concerning Community Affairs, call (718) 627-6847.

We all got a little bruised up for our daring escapades as children; adults are there to prevent worse when we don't know better. (Source: sugarsnaptastic/Flickr)

BETWEEN THE LINES: In the aftermath of the death of the 12-year-old Brownsville boy who was crushed to death last Sunday when he got stuck in an ascending automatic parking lot gate, everyone’s been quick to point the finger in blame.

Some residents of the project where the incident occurred hold the management responsible due to the lack of recreational facilities on the property. Some criticized the mentality left over from the pop cultural craze known as Jackass, where daring — reckless seems more appropriate — people performed stupid and dangerous stunts just to get fleeting attention on Facebook or YouTube.

For those who may not know, Jackass was a popular MTV reality show for three seasons. It ended a decade ago, yet spawned three movies, a web site and a bunch of controversy, including condemnation by Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman after a teenager from his state got severely burned. MTV responded by programming the series after 10 p.m., when its youngest viewers were supposed to be fast asleep.

You can imagine how effective that was, knowing from personal experience that when youngsters, especially teenagers, are prohibited from participating in an activity, they routinely attempt to elude the ban.

This tragedy triggered a memory of a personal Jackass moment from my youth, which, thankfully, did not end in tragedy.

Continue Reading »

Source: Lola Star (lola_star) / Instagram

Resident Morning Mug contributor, Allan Shweky, who happened upon the finished works of barrel brilliance by artists who participated in Saturday’s “Boardwalk Barrels of Fun,” sent us over a few photos of the event.

The beautiful barrels of boardwalk-y brilliance. Photo by Allan Shweky

The annual art competition, hosted by the NYC Parks Department and City Councilman Domenic Recchia, was held this past Saturday along the Riegelmann Boardwalk, between West 10th Street and West 12th Street.

With the goal being to spruce up the boardwalk in time for the summer beach season, artistically-inclined neighborhood denizens braved the rainy weather and used otherwise unsightly trash barrels as canvases, decorating the receptacles with vibrant landscapes, seascapes and carnival-themed art but, more importantly, with all their Coney-loving hearts.

Coney entrepreneur and all-around colorful personality, Lola Star, was on hand for the barrel-painting extravaganza. She had this to say on Twitter, where she also shared a few Instagram pics of the rain-soaked event: “God bless the die hard Coney lovers painting trash cans in the rain! That’s true Coney love!” and, commenting on the “I [Heart] Coney Island” trash barrel, she wrote: “This summer, when you see the dripping paintings on the Coney trash cans, you’ll know it’s a sign of true Coney love!”

Preach it, sis. It’s always so nice to see people making a concerted effort to beautify their community. Good job, everyone.

You can see more of Allan’s photos after the jump.

“We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.”

— Jean Toomer

Photo by Boris Shekhman

Every wonder why we pay so much in taxes?  It’s because of phenomenal amounts of waste at all levels of government.

Recently, we had several special elections in our district costing millions of dollars. A friend of mine just told me the following story which seems to epitomize goverment waste.  Laid off a few years ago, she attempts to find little bits of work wherever she can find it: temporary census worker, poll watcher, etc. So she signed up to work at the polls during the recent Republican Primary and is assigned to a poll site in East New York.

For whatever legal reason, polls need to be set up in nursing homes because residents are not able to get to other polling locations. She is assigned to one such site. Although there are only four registered Republican voters at the site, a normal complement of 12 poll workers are assigned.  Now here is the best part. Since the last election, three of the four voters passed away. That leaves one voter.  So all 12 workers sit and wait the entire day for the one voter to arrive and must stay there until the polls close although the voter has already voted. Now there has to be a better way.  Absentee ballot perhaps?

Do you have any examples of government waste?

TCC's Executive Director Murat Kaval presents Istanbul's Mayor Kadir Topbas with a gift at the annual Friendship Dinner (Source: TCC)

The Turkish Cultural Center of Brooklyn hosted its 6th annual Friendship Dinner and Award Ceremony on April 24, bringing together leaders and neighbors from all over Brooklyn’s diverse landscape to celebrate unity and peace building.

The gathering promotes peace and harmony in society by recognizing leaders from a variety of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds for their friendship and goodwill to others.

The event drew guests including Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbas, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Turkish Consul General Levent Bilgen, State Senators Eric Adams and Kevin Parker, Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz and Alec Brook Krasny – among many, many others.

Cymbrowitz was among those honored, as was Leonard Petlakh, executive director of the Kings Bay Y.

View the photos.

Conservative Democrat Ben Akselrod announced his campaign for State Assembly yesterday, setting the stage for a primary battle against incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz, who has occupied the seat since January 2001.

Akselrod took to a podium in front of Baku Palace (2001 Emmons Avenue), flanked by two dozen or so supporters on Sunday, touting his Russian immigrant roots and commitment to conservative Jewish values. Among those who stood with Akselrod were Russian leaders including radio host Gregory Davidzon and Ari Kagan, as well as local rabbis and Akselrod’s former boss, ex-State Senator Seymour Lachman.

(Akselrod begins speaking in the above video at the 20:00 mark.)

The campaign appears poised to seize upon the growing political clout of Southern Brooklyn’s Russian and Jewish voting blocks, which recently helped deliver wins to Republicans Bob Turner in Congress and David Storobin in the State Senate (Storobin’s win, notably, is still in court as the campaigns squabble over a handful of votes in the neck-and-neck race; regardless, the strong showing for a political neophyte in what was once believed to be a Democratic bastion can be considered a victory nonetheless).

To find a prelude to those successes one must only look back two years, to the last time Cymbrowitz faced a challenger: Republican opponent Joseph Hayon in 2010.

Spending only $615, Hayon reaped 43 percent of the vote – a narrow victory for an incumbent with a sizable warchest.

Akselrod appears to be cribbing from the GOP campaigns of his upstart predecessors – especially Hayon.

For example, Akselrod spoke of curriculum requirements in New York schools that challenge conservative Jewish customs.

“[Students are] being taught alternative lifestyles,” Akselrod stated. “I strongly object to the subjects being taught in school. We deserve to raise our children with the values that we cherish. We should be able to do what is right for us.”

That echoes the crux of Hayon’s campaign, in which he railed against a bill Cymbrowitz voted for that supposedly requires schools to “teach Kindergarten children to ‘tolerate’ or sanctify same-gender relationships.”

In reality, the bill Hayon and, presumably, Akselrod refer to is the “Dignity For All Students Act,” passed in 2010, to protect students from harassment and discrimination. The bill establishes mechanisms for schools to report and address discrimination and harassment based on race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, gender and – the one that Hayon and now Akselrod have focused on – sexual orientation. The legislation also issued a broad mandate to school regents to develop instruction in “civility, citizenship and character education.”

Private and religious schools are exempted in the bi-partisan bill, which passed the Assembly 138-to-four, and has not yet been implemented.

Though Cymbrowitz’s name was never uttered during the announcement, other elements of Akselrod’s platform were thinly-veiled attacks on the sitting assemblymember.

“Nobody should be defending illegal construction in your backyard because of political correctness,” Akselrod declared, as he rattled off his stances on issues as varied as education (above), small business regulations and integrity.

The quote appeared to be in reference to the Sheepshead Bay mosque being built at 2812 Voorhies Avenue, which has been an ongoing struggle. Opponents of the mosque frequently mix arguably legitimate complaints about building violations and zoning with racist, anti-Muslim rhetoric – and the main opposition group, Bay People, along with the Brooklyn Tea Party, has slammed Cymbrowitz in the past for not speaking out against the mosque’s development.

Notably, at least two members of Bay People were at the announcement to support Akselrod.

Also notably, the mosque is not in Cymbrowitz’s district.

As the campaign gears up, it will be an interesting battle for political observers. If, as in the Fidler-Storobin campaign, the 11-year incumbent seeks to snap up the Jewish and Russian voting blocs by trying to appear more aligned with their interests, he’ll likely lose the battle of public perception to the candidate who is actually Russian and a devout Jew – despite the fact that Cymbrowitz has directed a bevy of funds to Jewish causes over the years and supported the community’s social agenda (such as his vote against legalizing same sex marriage).

However, an Akselrod win would blunt the campaign of David Storobin, who many believe may attempt a general election challenge for the seat as well. Party labels aside, Akselrod and Storobin appear to have almost identical stances on most issues.

However, if Cymbrowitz takes a different tack – a rather unlikely one – and mobilizes new voters from other portions of the community to pull a win, he could redefine the evolving political narrative of the area and create a new power base. But once he gets past those primaries, if Storobin jumps in the race, he’ll be pressed to make the same case twice.

The Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association will meet this evening, May 7, 8:00 p.m. at Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street between Shore Boulevard and Oriental Avenue.

The public is invited to attend.

To learn more, call (917) 747-5863.