The New York Daily News has weighed in on the ongoing saga of the 27th State Senate District special election, in which the two candidates wound up just a handful of votes apart (latest count has Republican David Storobin up by 118), and the Board of Elections’ anachronistic procedures turning it into a long, tedious slog.

For starters, the Board of Elections is tossing out votes on cruddy technicalities – a fine procedure when the margins are more vast, but in a neck-and-neck race, every vote counts. They’re also refusing to count paper ballots until they receive a court order.

Contrary to all fairness and equality — not to mention common sense — the board’s standard operating procedure uses differing approaches for determining whether a vote is validly cast.

When a voter fills in an oval beside a candidate’s name, the vote will be counted either by a scanner, assuming the machine works correctly, or by the board as workers inspect absentee ballots.

When a voter leaves an oval blank, but, say, circles a candidate’s name, the vote won’t be counted by a scanner — but will be counted if the board finds such a marking on an absentee ballot.

This probably happened in the Storobin-Fidler battle. The scanner tally lists 42 ballots on which voters filled in no choice — unlikely, as those people were dedicated enough to go to the polls to make a choice in the only race on the ballot.

Odds are they made a selection without filling in an oval. Their votes are, for now, lost, while similarly cast absentee ballots will be included. In such a supertight race, 42 ballots could be decisive.

The board will inspect all the paper ballots only if the margin ends up below .5%. With a total tally of about 21,000, that comes out to roughly anything more than 105 votes. Now, the preliminary margin is 118 votes. At that level, there would be no visual ballot inspection without a court order.

This is insanity.

Finally, whatever comes out of this mess, the Daily News doesn’t think anyone should trust the Board’s numbers, given that they already bungled the count on election night. They suggest the candidates file a request under the Freedom of Information Law for photos of each of the scanned ballots to ensure the numbers match.

We agree. New York City’s Board of Elections, proven to be inept time and time again, are not to be trusted. Lax enforcement of electioneering laws at poll sites, fouled preliminary counts and operating procedures more befitting the 17th Century than the 21st Century speak for themselves.

The NYC Board of Elections needs real reform – not fancy new gadgets they don’t know how to use – and, in this race, every ballot ought to be counted, recounted and counted again based on the voter’s intention, not a computer’s ability to read it.

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CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We summarize the week’s statistics for the 61st Precinct reports every Friday. The 61st Precinct is the police command responsible for Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Kings Highway, Homecrest, Madison, Manhattan Beach, and Gerritsen Beach.

Existing and proposed bicycle routes in Community Board 15. Dotted red lines are "potential bike routes." (Click to see the full map)

Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo is blasting the city’s plan to add three new bicyle routes in the Sheepshead Bay area, saying it puts cyclists’ lives at risk.

The city’s master plan for bike lanes identifies Avenue Y, Avenue T and Avenue P as potential bike routes within the boundaries of Community Board 15. The exact paths of the bike routes are:

  • Avenue Y between Ocean Parkway and Knapp Street. Knapp Street is also a proposed bike route between Emmons Avenue and Gerritsen Avenue.
  • Avenue T between Stillwell Avenue (where it branches off to Bath Beach and Coney Island) and Gerritsen Avenue.
  • Avenue P between Stillwell Avenue (where it joins another proposed bike route heading up Bay Ridge Parkway) and Nostrand Avenue. At Kings Highway there is a proposed spur that runs up Kings Highway into Canarsie.

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Shot a little more than a year ago on March 15, 2011. Here are the technical deets:

Cops gathered at Stillwell Avenue station in Coney Island. Kodak BW400CN. Canon EOS 630. EF 35-80mm 1:4-5.6.

Photo by David Tan

We got a note from Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison telling us to check out their various gardens throughout the community, including the one above on Voorhies Avenue, across from the rear entrance to the train station.

Lo’ and behold, we got there and hundreds of fresh daffodils have been planted, providing a colorful greeting to those entering the community using the Belt Parkway or the subway.

According to Barrison, this site in particular was established as a September 11 tribute.

Bay Improvement Group is always looking for volunteers to help them keep the gardens clean and full of fresh, healthy flowers – especially during the spring and summer. They usually meet on Sunday mornings and ply their volunteers with tasty bagels and fresh coffee.

So if you’ve got some free time on Sundays, want a greener thumb and a pretty community, contact bayimprovementgrp@gmail.com or (718) 646-9206.

Photo by Erica Sherman

The following is a press release from the offices of State Senator Marty Golden. Links have been added by Sheepshead Bites.

The New York State Senate today passed three bills to combat auto insurance fraud, which costs New Yorkers more than $1 billion a year, as well as legislation that would impose stronger criminal penalties for staging auto accidents. Recent cases of auto insurance fraud have uncovered massive crime rings, including doctors, lawyers and scam artists who staged accidents and used New York’s no-fault insurance program as their own giant state-sponsored, ATM machine.

“Recent, highly-publicized incidents of auto insurance fraud illustrate the critical need to enact legislation to address this widespread problem,” Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said. “The real victims of auto insurance fraud are every taxpayer and every driver that must pay some of the highest insurance premiums in the country.  The bills passed by the Senate today will address the problem by helping to prevent fraud and putting in place stronger criminal penalties for those who commit auto insurance fraud.”

Keep reading and find out what the three bills passed by the State Senate will do to combat auto fraud.

We’ve been wondering what would happen to the Atlantic Bagel Company at 2 Neptune Avenue ever since they closed down about a year ago. Honestly, we wondered how a bagel store – no matter how bad, if it was – could possibly close for lack of business in that location, considering that for many heading to the B/Q station from Manhattan Beach and the co-ops around West End Avenue it is the only place to get breakfast.

But, c’est la vie, it did indeed shutter.

And now, about a year later, a sign has gone up in the window indicating that it will once again be a bagel place… as well as pizzeria and deli (what, no fried chicken and ice cream?!).

And it’s expanding, too. The new location will also encompass the attached storefront of Four Seasons florist.

Welcome to the neighborhood. We look forward to trying the pizza bagels that you better produce.

THE BITE: I can’t remember the last time I had a calzone. I’m struggling to remember the last time I had one and the only memory that comes back is a date with Dorothy in my senior year in high school. I remember making some fairly crude comments about the calzone. But, hey, they worked. Let’s just say that it was a memorable date.

Back to today. Calzones are and Italian version of stuffed bread. They are made from pizza dough, traditionally stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, baked and served with marinara sauce on the side. Many pizza places in the area will add pepperoni or sausages as well. It’s really up to the chef as there are no fixed rules. At Pizza Cardo, 1730 Jerome Avenue, they offer up five different calzones from four cheese to sauteed vegetables. I chose a spinach and mushroom calzone, $8, for my dining experience.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo. Source: Patja (Pat Arnow) / Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: As the sun rose over Albany last Thursday, the state’s lawmakers ended an all-night session negotiating a legislation package that introduces the dawning of pension reform. It will reduce benefits for new public employees, averts layoffs of state workers, but, more importantly, is projected to save the state billions of dollars over the next few decades.

Despite unrelenting opposition from organized labor, New York is now one of 44 states that, due to rising costs, have recently limited public employees’ retirement benefits.

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Beautiful, warm “Golden Hour” shot, with nice, long shadows.

Photo by Randy Contello