A lovely and enlightening message from the photographer:

A reminder of how unseasonably warm this winter has been and a promise of an early spring. As we know Staten Island Chuck, the official woodchuck weather prognosticator of New York City, did not see his shadow this year and his prediction of an early spring ha[s] proven true. The mistiness of it is not the result of photoshopping but a more basic method I am not at liberty to divulge. I was pleasantly surprised to see these crocuses in the same place I found them last year.

Ah, the Secret of the Mist. I wonder if he didn’t just spread some petroleum jelly on the lens. Hey, it’s been known to happen.

Photo by PayPaul

The source behind the claims from David Storobin’s campaign that Lew Fidler is dodging a debate for the Orthodox Jewish community is a supporter of Storobin – and now his account contradicts that of the campaign’s.

Both Storobin and Fidler are running for the former seat of State Senator Carl Kruger, and the campaign has had its share of nastiness. The latest example emerged last week, when Storobin’s campaign issued a press release claiming Fidler was “ducking” a debate in the Orthodox Jewish community since he didn’t want to discuss his stance on school vouchers.

When Fidler’s campaign shot back, saying they never received an invitation to a debate, which would have been co-sponsored by Agudeth Israel and the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, Storobin’s team put out a release pointing the finger at Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz of Agudeth Israel.

Their account, which we published Friday, is as follows:

Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz who is with the Council of Jewish Organizations invited us to debate sponsored by that organization and Agudath Israel. We agreed, and it was our understanding that Fidler’s camp also agreed. After that, emails and phone calls went back and forth trying to firm up a date and logistics. Then, this afternoon (Friday), Lefkowitz got back to us and said Fidler had pulled out.

However, Lefkowitz’s version of events doesn’t quite match up with that of the campaign. We got in touch with him this afternoon, and this is what he said happened:

I dont know what happened on the Fidler side, but on the Storobin side – as [Executive Board Chairman of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush] Leon Goldenberg has said – he approached Agudeth to sponsor a debate. He asked me if I would be in touch with the Storobin camp and they said yes. And I got back to Leon. Then Leon got back to me. I don’t know who he called or who he spoke to, but according to Leon there’s no debate. That’s all I know about this situation.

Lefkowitz clarified to us that he never said Fidler had agreed to the debate, as Storobin’s camp claims he did, nor did Fidler pull out. Lefkowitz said he did not ask Goldenberger why there would be no debate or if Fidler’s team had ever been contacted.

“It’s a fast moving world. If someone says it’s not happening, it’s not happening and I go on with life,” Lefkowitz told Sheepshead Bites. “I didn’t have time to go into the nitty gritty details.”

Goldenberg, who has formally endorsed Fidler, spoke to City & State earlier today, giving a statement that matches up with Lefkowitz’s:

Goldenberg said that he simply had forgotten to ask Fidler about the debate, making clear that Fidler’s campaign had not been trying to dodge a debate with Storobin.

“I went to Belgium last week for a wedding, so therefore it basically got messed up, and at the end of the day, Fidler was never called,” said Goldenberg.

… Goldenberg, who supports Fidler’s campaign, said he took full responsibility for his mistake, and was sorry for all the “brouhaha” caused by the misunderstanding. “

“It was simply a mess-up on my side,” he said, adding that the organizations have not decided whether or not to reschedule the debate.

Community Board 15 will meet tomorrow, February 28, at 7:00 p.m. at Kingsborough Community College’s faculty dining room (2001 Oriental Boulevard).

On the agenda are two zoning items:

  • 1702-12 East 16th Street – an application to extend the term for a variance. No work to be done.
  • 705 Gravesend Neck Road – an application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.

Aside from that, the Community Board will hear residents’ concerns, and local elected officials will give updates on their efforts to represent their constituents.

If you have any questions or would like to be added to the speakers’ list, call (718) 332-3008.

Jack Nacmias' Sunoco gas station on Coney Island Avenue and Avenue V. Source: Google Maps

The rising price of fuel at a Sheepshead Bay service station is serving as a national litmus test for the 2012 presidential race, according to the owner of the station.

“Those numbers on the gas price window are better than the Gallup poll,” said Sunoco station owner Jack Nacmias, pointing to the sign that reads $3.99 for a gallon of regular fuel.

“The higher it gets the lower Obama’s numbers will fall by Election Day. I got four voting booths that people vote at with their wallets at every single day here on what I call the corner of Coney Island Ave. and the Strait of Hormuz.”

In an interview with The Daily News’ Denis Hamill, Nacmias — who says he “make[s] less, not more when gas goes up” — tells the columnist that he sells anywhere from 100-120,000 gallons a week and makes 10 to 12 cents a gallon at the station on the corner of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue V.

“From that I pay eight salaries, workman’s comp, insurance, electric, phones, supplies and other overhead. Yes, Iran, politics and the futures markets are killing us. But a lot of gas station owners are telling me they’re getting what’s called ‘short loaded.’ That means delivered only half their usual supply by the oil companies. When the price goes up another dime overnight the oil company delivers the rest.”

Iran, politics and the futures markets… that’s Nacmias’ opinion. What about yours? Who or what do you feel is the reason, or reasons, behind the skyrocketing cost of fuel, here at home, and around the nation?

A mess of wires, somewhat representative of DOT signage. Source: HowardLake / Flickr

THE COMMUTEThe MTA financial situation could go from bad to worse. First we have the state stealing money from the MTA. Now we have the federal government trying to do something similar.

A proposed House bill ends the practice of linking the Highway Trust Fund, financed by the gas tax, to mass transit and reduces federal funding to transit. As MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota stated, without dedicated funding the MTA is in serious trouble:

“That billion dollars in funding is used to buy rail stock and switching and signaling equipment, critical to maintaining our system in a state of good repair.”

Republicans are now reworking that bill and there is also a competing Senate bill.

Read about some overdue problems that need fixing in our neighborhood.

Caballero (Source: BNA)

An 18-year-old Brighton Beach man died on Friday after rescuing his little brother from their burning home, then rushing back into the blaze to save an elderly neighbor. Now the family is struggling to pay for the teen’s funeral, and is turning to the community for help.

Jhordan Caballero lived up to his surname – Spanish for “knight” or “gentleman” – when he guided his 8-year-old brother Renzo out of their Brighton 3rd Street two-story home after a blaze erupted on the first floor, filling the home with thick smoke and scorching heat. Caballero then rushed back in to save a 61-year-old woman.

But Caballero, finding the woman stuck, rushed back upstairs to his apartment to call 911. He never made it back out of the house, succumbing instead to the smoke.

According to the Daily News:

He was unconscious when firefighters found him.

“The building was like an inferno,” said Olga Martynchuk, 39, a neighbor.

She said Caballero was covered in soot when he was pulled from the house.

“I couldn’t tell that it was him at first,” Martychuk said. “He was all black with smoke, you couldn’t see his eyes.”

She said firefighters fought hard to save him. But he died at Coney Island Hospital soon after.

“First one fireman and then another, and then a third and even a fourth they all took turns pumping his chest, but they could do nothing,” Martychuk said.

The younger brother and the neighbor, who was pulled out by firefighters, were treated for smoke inhalation at the same hospital, officials said.

Caballero was a Lincoln High School grad and Kingsborough Community College freshman whose family emigrated to Brooklyn from Peru four years ago.

Now his family, already grief-stricken from their loss, is hit with another burden: trying to pay for Caballero’s funeral bills.

“The boy was a hero,” said Pat Singer, executive director of the Brighton Neighborhood Association. “He gave up his life to save two lives. The family does not have the money to bury their son.”

The BNA has contacted Catholic Charities  and the Hebrew Free Fund, but to no avail. Now they’re asking the community to help give the teen the burial he has earned.

“If anyone wants to donate through the Brighton Neighborhood Association, we will be glad to give them our tax exemption number,” Singer said.

Readers can send checks to the Brighton Neighborhood Association, 1002 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11235. You can call (718) 891-0800 or e-mail bnapsinger@aol.com if you have additional questions.

Shot earlier in the month on Sheepshead Bay Road and Shore Parkway during some snow flurries.

Photo by Erica Sherman

This just in, there has been a transformer explosion on Homecrest Avenue between Ave V and Neck Road Avenue V. We are hearing reports of power and phone outages in the surrounding areas.

UPDATE: We are being told that the traffic lights are out on Avenue V from East 12th Street to East 15th Street.

UPDATE: 6:30 p.m.  The offending transformer is located on a telephone pole on the southside of Avenue V between East 12th Street and Homecrest Avenue. To the un-trained eye, the transformer does not look as if it exploded. Con-Ed staff told our reporter that it did indeed explode and then shut down. There was no fire at the scene.

Power is partially out on the blocks bounded by East 12th Street to East 15th Street between Neck Road and Avenue U. The outage appears to begin mid-block between Neck Road and Avenue V and continue to mid-block between Avenue V and Avenue U.

All street lights and traffic lights are out on Avenue V between East 12th Street and East 15th Street. Please be careful when crossing those intersections. There were no police or fire department personnel on location to direct traffic when our staff walked the area. Many close calls were observed as cars sped through the intersections.

A Con-Ed worker told our staff that power should be restored within 2 hours.

UPDATE: 6:50 p.m. We are hearing reports that the traffic light at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue V is now out as well. Please be careful when driving in the area.

UPDATE: 7:55 p.m. Loyal reader and frequent commenter, Lostinservice, has told us that the power was restored at approximately 7:40 p.m. Thanks for the update Lostinservice and good job Con-Ed.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to tips (at) sheepsheadbites (dot) com.

I wonder how many of you young’uns remember that eighties catch phrase.

Photo by Erica Sherman