Source: mikealex/Flickr

The city’s plan to roll out a new class of taxi to serve neighborhoods in Brooklyn, northern Manhattan and other areas poorly served by yellow cabs, is now heading to court, courtesy of a lawsuit filed by a lobbying group representing the largest yellow medallion taxi fleets.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, claims that the outerborough street hail livery plan, passed into law by Albany legislators in Feburary, violates the rights of medallion owners who paid for exclusive rights to pick up street hails in New York City.

The proposal would create a new class of taxi medallion for up to 18,000 livery drivers, giving them the right to pick up street hails in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and northern Manhattan – areas previously underserved by yellow cabs that clog the city’s financial and tourist areas. It also permits the city to issue 2,000 new yellow taxi medallions.

The privileges for livery cabs will unfairly reward a culture of bad behavior from livery cabbies who “poach” street hails from yellow cabs, the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade claims, and will hurt the livelihood of yellow cab owners who will now have to compete with the new livery class as well as 2,000 new yellow cabs.

“The street hail livery rules are unconstitutional, irresponsible and unconscionable,” said Ron Sherman, president of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade. “How can the City of New York sell medallions to thousands of individual owner-drivers and small businesses, promising them the exclusive right to pick up street hails, only to take that right away in one destructive piece of legislation?”

The group is also claiming that the process in which the legislation was enacted was unconstitutional, violating a “Home Rule” procedure, in which legislation affecting only one locality can only be passed in the state legislature once the local legislative body has given its stamp of approval. There was no City Council vote on the issuance of new medallions, and no public hearing.

“How can the City do this without a single public hearing, without the authorization of the City Council, and without a single economic study on its effects on this industry comprised mostly of immigrants who have pursued the American dream by working hard, saving their earnings and playing by the rules?” Sherman asked.

What do you think? Is this legislation that will hurt the business of yellow cab drivers? Or will the bill provide service for areas where the yellow cabs were not serving anyway?

Photo by nolastname.

Two new stores have opened on Avenue X, between Coyle Street and Bragg Street – Ave X Drugs Pharmacy at 3050 Avenue X and 99¢ Plus Discount Variety at 3054 Avenue X.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

051810bathtub.jpg

Amahal Lynch offered no apologies after a judge sentenced him to 40 years to life for the brutal 2010 murder of his girlfriend and her 8-year-old daughter.

“People make mistakes,” Lynch told the victims’ relatives who demanded a statement, according to the Daily News. “God is good, you know. I repented, you know.”

The crime was revealed in May 2010, when police were called to the scene of a burglary in the Sheepshead-Nostrand Houses. What authorities found were the naked lifeless bodies of Shakeema Elliot, 29, and her daughter Kaliya Williams in the bathtub, and pills scattered around.

But upon further investigation, police concluded that the bodies had been moved and arranged to suggest a murder-suicide, and the medical examiner soon found that both had been strangled to death and the 8-year-old sexually abused.

Lynch admitted to the 2010 double murder after officers nabbed the East New York resident days after the crime.

By confessing and pleading guilty, Lynch avoided a sentence of life without parole.

Photo by ShadowLock

Photo by PayPaul

ONLY ON SHEEPSHEAD BITES: A National Grid representative said the company was forced to cut gas to 1,100 Gravesend clients this week, after a leaking water main interfered with their gas lines and caused a drop in pressure.

Gas is cut along the areas marked in red. (Map courtesy of Google Maps)

The spokesperson said they are hoping to restore all service by Friday, and gas is already flowing in some areas. Sheepshead Bites is the first and only news outlet covering the problem, which is affecting a population the size of a small town.

The incident is not related to any gas leak and there is no danger for residents, the representative noted, but service to 1,100 households on an approximately half-mile strip of Ocean Parkway means they’ve had to deploy 300 crews working around the clock for a speedy restoration.

“We want to do this safely and as quickly as possible and we appreciate the coordination of the customers in that area,” said spokesperson Karen Young.

Young noted that the work is a very labor intensive project. First, workers had to go door-to-door to ensure gas service is safely off in each home. Once they identified the source of the leak, which they’ve done, it must be repaired. Then the water must be pumped out of the gas lines. Finally, workers need to go door-to-door again to relight appliances in the homes.

“We’ve made some progress. We are breaking this down into areas for the work, and so we have restored gas service to about 233 customers,” Young said. “We know it’s a big project and a big job.”

The geographic boundaries of the affected area are Ocean Parkway from Avenue U to Brighton Court (near Avenue Z), and on Gravesend Neck Road from Ocean Parkway to East 2nd Street. National Grid first became aware of the problem on Tuesday morning.

The crews will continue to work around the clock, which means late-night construction noise that could disturb residents.

“We apologize that the work may be noisy, but it’s necessary during this emergency situation so that we can get the service back on as quickly as possible,” Young said, adding that doing the work in sections means crews will not be working in one place for an extended period of time.

UPDATE (6:40 p.m.): National Grid just issued a press release. Click here to read it.

Photo by Erica Sherman

More than one year after Pathmark made its last sale from its 3795 Nostrand Avenue location, the building remains vacant, political leadership to bring a new supermarket to the site appears to have dried up, and residents are fuming about the lack of nearby options to shop for their families.

The business closed its doors for good on April 15, 2011, as the parent company, A&P, filed for bankruptcy and closed numerous locations across the nation. More than 100 employees were put out of work by the closing, and it eliminated the only supermarket within walking distance for many nearby residents.

Find out what the pols are up to, and what the property owner has to say.

THE BITE: This week the Bite breaks new ground and lets you take a peak into the sausage factory. Usually we spend the week sampling various foods for the Bite and try to only bring you the best the neighborhood has to offer. Today, we bring four of the neighborhood’s Cha siu bao offerings, better known as the pork bun, into the office for a showdown.

Let’s meet the four contenders..

  1. Bing Bakery – 1415 Gravesend Neck Road – $0.80.
  2. Bliss Bakery – 1412 Avenue U – $1.00.
  3. Good Family Bakery – 1317 Avenue U – $0.90.
  4. L & U Bakery – 1405 Avenue U – $0.70.

Before we get started, let’s set some ground rules here. One: this is not a definitive guide to Cha Siu Bao. Not every Chinese bakery in the neighborhood will be represented. There’e no bias here. These buns were purchased in the normal course of my day, while conducting other important business for Sheepshead Bites. If I passed a Chinese bakery, pork buns were purchased. Two: all of these pork buns were purchased on Tuesday afternoon around 3:00 p.m. A few of the bakeries were sold out of Cha Siu Bao by that time. Three: the Chinese Bakery owners and staff were not aware of this impending shoot out.

Once back at the office, all of the buns were weighed, sliced open, photographed and tasted. Now, here at the Bite, we’re not experts in Chinese food, but we know what we like. So here’s what we’re looking for: a light, chewy bun with a texture very similar to hallah. The pork filling should be tender, moist and bursting with flavor – after all, the diced pork is usually mixed into a syrupy mixture of oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, roasted sesame seed oil, rice vinegar, shaoxing wine or dry sherry, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch. The bun should have a nice meat-to-bread ratio, with meat in every bite.

Read on to find out the results of the Buns Off Challenge!

Nakwon Foxworth (Source: MySpace)

Prosecutors charged Nakwon Foxworth, the suspect who shot and wounded four police officers on April 8, with seven counts of attempted murder this morning.

Foxworth, 33, opened fire on several members of the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit in the early Sunday morning shooutout, striking four of them before taking a bullet to the belly. Police responded to the scene after the suspect allegedly brandished a gun during an argument with movers in front of his building at 3301 Nostrand Avenue, then took his pregnant girlfriend and their infant child hostage.

After police arrived on the scene, Foxworth’s girlfriend escaped with the infant. As the officers entered the apartment, Foxworth began shooting.

The four officers — Captain Al Pizzano, Detective Kenneth Ayala, Detective Michael Keenan and Officer Matthew Granahan – sustained non-life threatening wounds and have been released from the hospital.

Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes unveiled the charges today, and Foxworth was arraigned from Kings County Hospital, where he is being treated for the gun shot wound to his torso.

He is charged with:

  • seven counts of attempted murder in the first degree
  • attempted aggravated murder
  • attempted murder in the second degree
  • attempted assault in the first degree
  • attempted assault in the second degree
  • attempted aggravated assault upon a police officer
  • assault in the first degree
  • assault in the second degree
  • criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree
  • criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree
  • menacing in the second degree
  • unlawful imprisonment in the first degree
  • endangering the welfare of a child

If convicted, Foxworth faces a maximum sentence of 40 years to life. He was previously released from prison in 2010 after a 10-year stint for attempted murder and selling drugs behind bars.

UPDATED: 1,000+ Households Affected In Ocean Parkway Gas Crisis, National Grid Says Service To Be Restored Friday

Original post: 

While we’re still waiting to hear back from National Grid representatives about yesterday’s gas leak, which caused an ongoing service outage in the area and construction up and down Ocean Parkway, our readers have hit the ground to find out what’s going on. Here’s what they had to say, and some of the photos they’ve sent in.

PayPaul, who contributed the photo above and several below, wrote this:

It seems, according to several workers I spoke to that the water [from a broken main] leaked into the gas lines which are almost 100 years old. Gas and water do not mix according to one and neither does the DEP, a public agency and National Grid, a private company based in England. A number of them told me the work should be completed by [today]. Of course that would depend upon the DEP, which is responsible for the water mains. These are also ancient underground structures. A complicated mess in which employed what seemed to be about 100 workers in 10 square block area south of the original break. Areas east and west of Ocean Parkway were being plumbed and dug to investigate any possible additional leakages.

And James W., who was our original tipster on this, sent in some of the photos below and this tidbit:

I was told that a 4 blocks around Ocean Parkway and Ave U are shut off. They are not expecting to have the gas restored before [today]. The reason, I was told, was a water main break on Ave U and Ocean Parkway that allowed water to get into the gas pipes. I saw National Grid is digging on the north side of Neck Road and O.P. Ave V and O.P., Ave U and O.P., E7th and Ave U, E8th and Ave U.

Nick Rosen, a.k.a. Master Plumber, a.k.a. the owner of Sheepshead Bites supporter Big Apple Sewer and Drain, did a little investigating on his own and reported back in the comments yesterday:

Gas service is off between avenue V and avenue X between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Ave. There are at least 30 National Grid vehicles and a half dozen or so bulldozers that are opening the streets all over the place. There seems to be at least 100 National Grid workers on site. Seems like they can’t pin point the exact location of the leak.

Meanwhile, an anonymous commenter added the following:

I spoke with the lead supervisor he said the main pipe cracked at the joints and they are trying to excavate 5 different locations to replace the pipe fittings. His estimate was 3-4 days. Union timing is 7 days. They will work day and Night in shifts until the service is restored. I am happy To see them working but not at 12 at night Very hard to sleep with the noise.

We received several other complaints about the noise from the construction going late into the night.

We will provide an update when we hear back from National Grid. In the meantime, feel free to add more information, or grouse, in the comments below.