A rally to save Sheepshead Bay High School when it faced closure in 2010.

The Department of Education is proposing to reform Sheepshead Bay High School, William E. Grady High School, John Dewey High School and Franklin D. Roosevelt High School using the “turnaround” model, which includes renaming the school and replacing the principal and 50 percent of its teachers. But the city’s justification for the proposal remains in question, and community members continued to express doubt at a Brooklyn “turnaround” forum where DOE officials offered little to address their concerns.

Those from the Sheepshead Bay High School community addressed the panel, expressing agreement with the need to reform the school – but not using the turnaround model.

Gotham Schools reports on some of the statements made, as well as gives Sheepshead Bay High School’s recent backstory:

“We’ve got to have some discrimination here, because we’re closing down 33 schools because we don’t like something that happened between our union rep and the mayor,” said Bruce Sherman, a guidance counselor at Sheesphead Bay, referring to the deadlocked city-union negotiations over teacher evaluations that the city has blamed for the turnaround plan. “The staff is not the problem.”

Sheesphead Bay High School was named a federal “restart” school in 2011, meaning it would receive millions of school improvement dollars and be run by an Educational Partnership Organization. But a legal dispute with the city and the nonprofit EPOs stalled reforms at Sheesphead and other restart schools. In December, Principal Reesa Levy unexpectedly announced her retirement—a move that worried staff and students who knew the leadership change would hold up school improvements even more.  Sherman said the new interim principal, John O’Mahoney, “has his act together,” and has kept teacher morale from dropping further since he arrived at the school earlier this year.

“We believe that restart should still go into effect,” said Thaddeus Russell Jr. a father of three Sheepshead alumni and one current student. “The reason I disagree with turnaround is because the model says only 50 percent of the staff can be re-hired. I don’t believe that’s to the benefit of any students. How can the current freshmen, sophomores, juniors, how can we continue with the academies that have been instituted, if half the staff is not there next year?”

Parents, students and administrators from Brooklyn schools lined up to ask a series of questions to bring transparency and community participation into the process including, as Gotham Schools reports, the following:

Will parents be placed on any turnaround school personnel committees? What will happen to the “magnet” grants that some schools are already receiving? Can a new school choose not to keep on its EPO? How will students be able to ask former teachers for college and job references? Several teachers from different schools also noted that parents and teachers had been given conflicting information about their public hearing date—and asked how the problem could be fixed.

The answers from the DOE? We’ll have to get back to you on that.

There will be a public hearing on this proposal on March 28 at 6:00 p.m. at the school (3000 Avenue X). Written comments can be submitted via e-mail to D22Proposals@schools.nyc.gov, and oral comments can be left at 212-374-0208.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on the proposal on April 26.

It was way back in 2009 that Sheepshead Bites and Brooklyn Independent Television (a.k.a. BCAT) teamed up on the video above to tell the story of Sheepshead Bay’s struggling recreational fishing industry. With the help of Brooklyn VI’s Captain Sapanara, we identified some of the key issues facing the fleet, which shrank from dozens to just a handful in the last two decades. The causes included rising gas prices, cultural changes and a slew of overwhelming regulations that are smothering locals’ ability to compete with out-of-state fleets.

New regulations unveiled by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently have now dealt another blow, shortening the blackfish season by nearly four months, and upping the minimum size limit of each fish caught.

According to Courier-Life:

The state Department of Environmental Conservation shortened the 2012 Blackfish fishing season — which usually runs from October until April — for recreational casters by 70 days, forcing it to end in January. The agency also increased the minimum size limit of the catch by 2 inches, so that many of the Blackfish that were hooked had to be returned to the sea.

Charter boat captains say blackfish — which are also known as tautog and oyster fish and taste like cod or flounder — are a winter staple for fishermen trolling borough waters. Now that the blackfish season has been cut short in New York, their business has been cut by nearly 60 percent as recreational anglers go to New Jersey, they say.

“In a time of economic hardship why we’d want to send business out of state is beyond me,” said Greg Nardiello, captain of the recreational vessel Ocean Eagle, which used to troll for the ugly, but tasty, water breathers nicknamed “the poor man’s lobster.” “Blackfish is really the big ticket fish in the winter season. Now people are heading to New Jersey for it.”

Much like other regulations that determine the size and number of the catch, the latest rule-tightening is based on the population of the target species. The problem is that the data being used is either wrong or outdated.

Even the Fisheries Commission admitted that their numbers were off base: in a statement released on March 7, the agency admitted that their determination to reduce blackfish fishing by 53 percent was an overestimation and only a 37 percent reduction was necessary — meaning that the blackfish season could have could have extended.

Adding insult to injury, New York opts to follow more restrictive federal guidelines, while neighboring states like New Jersey determine their own rules – even if they’re fishing in the same waters. As many local fishermen point out, that often means a Sheepshead Bay boat might be anchored next to a New Jersey boat and casting into the same spot, but local passengers may only be allowed to bring home two fish, while New Jersey anglers can take home more.

According to Courier-Life, Department of Environmental Conservation officials will meet later this month to discuss the changes.

The Bainbridge Center. Source: Google Maps

The 61st Precinct Community Council will meet at 7:30 p.m., March 14 at The Bainbridge Center, 3093 Ocean Avenue between Voorhies Avenue and Shore Parkway.

The Community Council is comprised of concerned residents and top brass from the 61st Precinct, and 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.

Also: In an effort to reduce auto break-in crimes, the community council reminds residents to remove all valuables (pocketbooks, wallets and electronic devices) from your car and lock the doors when leaving your vehicle. They also recommend parking your vehicle in a well lit area.

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

News broke this morning that a seat in the United States Congress is no longer enough for newly-minted politician Bob Turner – he’s now got his eyes set on the United States Senate.

Daily News’ Daily Politics blog broke the story this morning that Turner is planning a challenge against New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand.

The blog posted the following e-mail from Turner’s team:

I will travel to the Republican State Convention in Rochester later this week and humbly ask for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate. I will respectfully ask for the Conservative nomination a few days later at that Party’s convention. I have made my intentions known to the other Republican candidates in this race.

I ran for the House six months ago as a private citizen fed up with what is happening in Washington.  I could not sit and watch career politicians sink my nation deeper into economic crisis.  Brooklyn and Queens voters, of all political parties, graciously responded by sending me to Congress. It now appears that their district has been eliminated.

There is serious work to be done to get this economy back on track, and I will not walk away from that work now. I will run for the Senate, and I will run to win.

Turner, of course, is likely spurred on by the redistricting process, which would see his current seat eliminated. As Daily Politics points out, as recently as last week Turner was saying he’d run in whatever district he happened to live in when the final lines are adopted. But with the lines in the hands of a federal magistrate, Turner’s home would be in the heavily Democratic and African-American district of Congressman Gregory Meeks – making Republican victory unlikely.

UPDATE (1:00 p.m.): NY Daily News photographer Todd Maisel is on the scene and is reporting via Twitter that it was a hit-and-run, with two people pulled out of the overturned car.

“Driver of overturn said blue car cut her off. She hit guardrail and skidding sideways down hwy into another vehicle,” Maisel tweeted.

There were no life threatening injuries, according to Maisel, and the car is in the process of being cleared from the highway.

You can see photos of the incident in Maisel’s Twitter stream.

Original story:

An accident left at least one car overturned on near Flatbush Avenue on the Belt Parkway, just before the Marine Parkway Bridge, according to a report that came over the police scanner just minutes ago. [Corrected]

NYPD Highway units are responding to the scene. The condition of the car’s driver or passengers is not yet known.

We will post more information as it becomes available.

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.

Many nowadays would rather watch films from the comfort of their own home due to the prevalence of disruptive audience members in the theater. Source: lipár / Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: One of the key reasons I rarely go to a theater to see a movie is because a few members of an audience can spoil what used to be a pleasant experience.

The only movies I’ve seen in a theater lately are “The Descendants” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” They had plots that were worlds apart, but each was entertaining in its own right and had the crucial elements that gratify my taste: first-rate productions with sharp performances and gripping plots.

In spite of that, a few fleeting distractions tainted each occasion. During the latter, some rude moviegoers laughed and snickered during brutally violent scenes.

At the other, my field of vision was diverted several times when a couple of restless audience members couldn’t resist checking cell or smart phones for messages. Unless it was an emergency from a babysitter or family member, such behavior is uncalled-for in a darkened theater.

Continue Reading »

Or, more appropriately, the winged monks. Shot in Midwood.

Photo by nolastname

After the cancellation of two debates between City Councilman Lew Fidler and Republican hopeful David Storobin, the two have agreed to a televised debate on NY1.

The debate airs at 7:00 p.m. tonight on the channel’s Inside City Hall program.

We have requested permission to stream the debate on Sheepshead Bites tomorrow, but we have not yet heard back from NY1. In case our request is denied, we urge you to tune in for what may be your one and only chance to see these two candidates go head-to-head before the March 20 special election.

UPDATE (5:58 p.m.): That was fast. Our request was denied.

Just a couple of things on this fine, fine Monday, in which it appears spring has sprung (for at least a week).

  1. We need more Morning Mug photos. So if you’ve got a handy, dandy photo you’d like to share with your fellow neighbors, send ‘em on over to photos [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.
  2. Grillin’ on the Bay is coming up on Saturday, March 24. We’ll have more on this announcement soon, but if you want to compete either as part of a barbecue team, or in the Brooklyn Chili Smackdown, just check out the event website.
  3. I won’t be at Grillin’ on the Bay this year due to a really, truly awful scheduling conflict. It’s very upsetting, as it’s one of the events I look forward to all year long. In my stead, we’re looking for some fun and interesting ways to promote Sheepshead Bites at the event (which we sponsor). If you have any ideas or would like to pitch me on something, e-mail me at nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.
  4. Support our advertisers! Sheepshead Bites is made possible by the great businesses who stand behind the work we do. So go in there and thank them (ideally with a purchase) for helping keep independent local news alive in Sheepshead Bay. Our advertisers at the moment are:

Photo by Erica Sherman

The building at 1201 Avenue Z, which for several years has been the home of Chicken Masters – a.k.a. Eat My Chicken – has sold for just under the $1.295 million asking price, Sheepshead Bites has learned.

The building went on the market in early January, and broker Brian Hanson of Massey Knakal Realty Services told us that the new owners plan to turn the fried chicken joint into a pharmacy.

So is this the end of independent fried chicken in Sheepshead Bay? Heck no! Vinnie Mazzone, who owned both the building and the business, said he’ll be relocating by June or July and will fill us in on the details then.