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

Computer Software Plus, a long-lived computer parts supply retailer, is shutting the doors at its 1722 Kings Highway location after 27 years in business. They’ll be squashing their retail efforts, moving to the second floor of 1612 Kings Highway and remain open as a repair and computer service shop.

“We’re closing because retail shopping has diminished. Everyone shops online for computer products and retail rents are very high. It’s simple economics, really,” the owner told us.

Photo by Erica Sherman

The following is a press release from the offices of State Senator Marty Golden:

The New York State Senate today passed two bills, sponsored by Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn), to combat gun crimes and enhance penalties for gun crimes that endanger children.

“As a former New York City police officer, I have seen first-hand the fear and devastation caused by criminals with guns,” Senator Golden said. “People who use force to terrorize and prey upon others must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  The bills I am proposing would make our laws strong enough to make use of a firearm in the commission of a crime

The bills approved by the Senate would strengthen the penalty for displaying a gun in the commission of a crime and lengthen the sentence for criminal sale or possession of a weapon at a residence of a child or in the presence of a child.

“Criminals who use guns to commit crimes should be punished very severely, particularly if they illegally sell or possess a gun in the presence of children,” Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said. “These bills recognize the need for tougher charges and stronger penalties for gun crimes.”

Specifically, the bills would:

  • Amend the definition of criminal use of a firearm in the first degree to include displaying a firearm in the commission of any and all felonies, rather than just certain felonies.  The bill would upgrade all instances of criminal use of a firearm to a class B violent felony which carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison (S.1407B).
  • Increase the sentence by an additional two and one-half years for the offenses of criminal possession of a weapon and criminal sale of a firearm when the offenses happen at the residence of a child under 14; and by an additional five years if a child under 14 is home when the crime takes place (S.2169A).

The sinkhole before repairs.

Long covered by an upside-down traffic cone, a sinkhole approximately two feet wide and five feet deep has existed for several months at the corner of Emmons Avenue and East 21st Street, near Randazzo’s. After months of complaints from neighbors, the city is finally fixing the obvious danger to both pedestrians and drivers, and repairing the faulty sewer line that caused it.

The crater sat just a step off of the pedestrian curb cut on the northwest corner, large enough for a person’s leg – or even an entire child – to fall into. That threat had some locals concerned.

“I’m scared that maybe one day I forget to look down as I walk, and step into this hole,” Tanya K., an employee at a nearby boutique, told us before repairs began.

The safety concerns spurred at least one good Samaritan to shove a traffic cone inside it in an attempt to plug the hole. At various times over the last several months, other cones were seen around it, and, eventually, a broken construction barricade.

“I’ve walked past it a couple of times these past few weeks and even though they have this caution barricade on top of it, the city still needs to get this thing patched up soon,” nearby resident Marc Schwartz told us last week.

But despite the appearance of construction, all the items were cautionary – until this week.

City workers are currently on Emmons Avenue between East 21st Street and Ocean Avenue, tearing out the sidewalk and repairing a broken sewer line underneath – the source of the sinkhole, according to one of the workers.

The repairs came after months of complaints from nearby business owners. One who requested to remain anonymous said he put in multiple complaints to 311 over the past four months. However, the 311 service map only shows one complaint – placed on February 24. It was referred to DOT, even though the DEP is the agency responsible for sinkhole repairs, which might explain the delay.

The entire project should be wrapped up in a day or two, a worker at the scene told us.

- with additional reporting by Ned Berke.

The nastiest claim of campaign malfeasance yesterday, that a Storobin supporter driving a van hit a volunteer for the Lew Fidler campaign, turned out to be bunk, according to police.

A report first issued by City Councilman David Greenfield, a staunch backer of Fidler, that a supporter of the Democratic candidate was struck by a van in front of Cunningham Junior High School is now being disputed by authorities. Greenfield claimed that after hitting the volunteer, the driver jumped out and grabbed the volunteer’s pro-Fidler literature and drove off.

According to the New York Times:

The cries of dirty politics wailed loudly even on Election Day. The police were called to investigate a 911 call of a woman believed to be a Fidler volunteer who said she had been struck by a vehicle outside a polling station at a school in Sheepshead Bay. The police, according to a spokeswoman, Deputy Inspector Kim Royster, said that the woman had not been hit, but that there was also a dispute nearby involving a campaign poster torn off a pole.

The initial report resulted in a sternly worded statement from the Fidler campaign, first published by City & State.

Councilman Fidler sends his best wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery to our campaign volunteer who was reported to have been assaulted earlier today by a Storobin thug.

All day long, we’ve received reports that Mr. Storobin has been barging into polling sites disrupting operations and illegally campaigning within the no-campaign zone.  The Election Law provides a no-campaign perimeter around polling sites for a reason.  Perhaps Mr. Storobin was asleep when they taught that course in law school, but ignorance of the law is no defense.

For at least this final day of the campaign, it would be nice if Mr. Storobin could conduct himself honorably.  Not that we expect him to, but still, it would be nice.

The claims of illegal electioneering at poll sites has not been verified by authorities.

Fider, standing with wife Robin, announcing his victory at the Kings Bay Y.

After a long day marred with allegations of campaign shenanigans, the special election for the 27th District of the State Senate ended with no definitive winner. So, naturally, in a move befitting the Kafka-esque landscape of Southern Brooklyn politics, both candidates gave victory speeches and left it to the political press to figure out.

The election was too close to call, with the Associated Press reporting Republican David Storobin narrowly leading Democrat Lew Fidler by 120 votes out of more than 20,000 cast – essentially a 50-50 split.

Late yesterday, Fidler, who has served on the City Council for a decade, sounded like the winner as he spoke to hundreds of supporters who had gathered at the Kings Bay Y on Nostrand Avenue to await the results and the arrival of their candidate.

After he arrived to cheers and applause, shortly after 11 p.m., Fidler announced he led Storobin, a Russian-born lawyer and Republican neophyte from Brighton Beach, albeit the margin at the time was just over 200 votes – far less than what he and his supporters expected against a candidate with a scant political resume.

Despite the narrow lead he said he had at the time, Fidler told his audience, “Nevertheless, the final tally won’t be known for several weeks until the write-in ballots are counted.”

There are more than 700 absentee and paper ballots to be counted. The Board of Elections said they will begin reviewing the machine counts today, and the paper ballots next week. The official results will take approximately two weeks.

Just moment’s after Fidler’s victory speech, Storobin appeared before his supporters at OPM Restaurant and Ultra Lounge and declared himself the victor.

“The good won. We won,” Storobin said in his victory speech, caught on video by Yeshiva World News. “When nobody outside believed that we had a shot to compete … we won!”

Storobin, though, noted that it was close and that official results wouldn’t be known for “days or even weeks.”

Regardless, whoever is declared the winner will only serve until the end of the year when the district will be eliminated by redistricting, forcing the winner to campaign anew in a different district. Most observers believe Storobin will campaign for the so-called “Super Jewish” district, designed by Republican State Senate members to cater to the conservative Orthodox Jewish community.