Another film user. This one was shot in Manhattan Beach.

Photo by Michelle Selwa

We just wanted to remind you one last time that, if you haven’t voted yet, now is the time to do it. Polls close at 9:00 p.m. You can look up your polling station here. Now, a little somethin’-somethin’ from Allan Rosen on his voting experience today.

I just returned from voting at P.S 195 and am pleased to report that none of the problems experienced last time repeated itself.

Last time, it was difficult to find the proper entrance. I walked back and forth several times. No one was on duty to direct you where to vote, only a sign pointing toward the elevator. Once inside, there was no sign to inform voters which floor to get off at. At the polling site, my name could not be found in the book of registered voters, although I had not moved in 34 years. Anyone could see who I voted for by looking at the ballot which was just placed on top of a pile.

Today, there was a clear sign where the entrance was, there were poll workers at every decision point to direct you. Signs were even placed in the elevator showing you where to get off to vote as well as to exit. There was privacy at the polls and all the workers were polite. When I told them how much improvement they made, I was greeted with a big smile.

Unlike the picture shown above taken several years ago, your vote does not end up in the trash. It does count! Do yourself a favor. Vote.

Last week, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch came out against the city’s “turnaround” plan for schools, in which 33 high schools will be closed, renamed and see at least 50 percent new faculty. Tisch blasted the Bloomberg Administration proposal as being political strategy and not about improving children’s education.

“There’s a fight going on here that has nothing to do with what’s going on at the school,” she told GothamSchools. “It’s a labor dispute between labor and management and has nothing to do with the kids.”

Among the schools slated for turnaround measures are Sheepshead Bay High School, John Dewey High School, William E. Grady High School and Franklin D. Roosevelt High School – the last two of which have seen major improvements in performance in recent years, scoring B’s.

Tisch visited Grady last week, and praised the school’s growth under previous reform efforts, and expressed concern about the  city’s new change in direction, which appears to undermine any achievements.

“This is a school that is moving in a really fine direction,” Tisch said of Grady. ”This is the wrong message to this school at this time. Don’t be so dismissive of the efforts going on in that building.”

That’s not to say Tisch is a proponent of saving all schools. She has previously advocated for the closing of schools that struggled to improve despite additional measures and resources, including Automotive High School – which is also slated for turnaround.

What do you think? Is the city’s turnaround plan a politically-motivated end-run around the teachers’ union? Or does Bloomberg have the students’ best interests at heart?

Protesters from the Orthodox Jewish group, ORA (Organization for the Resolution of Agunot) took to the streets of Gravesend early Sunday morning to demand a local resident give his wife a get (a Jewish bill of divorce). They stood across the street from his home and chanted “Shame on you” and “Stop the Abuse.”

The protestors created quite a commotion on the sleepy East 7th Street block as neighbors watched, and police officers showed up to stand guard in front of the family’s home. It was a far cry from the normally private handling of Orthodox Jewish customs on social issues, and the second time in which they’ve protested in front of this family’s home.

Protestors handed out flyers explaining the Jewish custom and the concept of Agunot, or chained wife. Though a couple may be legally divorced, the separation is not recognized within the religion until the man grants a woman a get, which is an official bill of divorce that frees the woman to remarry. Without a get, any child – even from a legal remarriage – is seen as a bastard, and the woman as an adulterer. In some cases, the right has been used abusively to extract a better divorce settlement or to spite the spouse.

The details of the couple’s situation were not on clear display at Sunday’s protest, though a member of the family did step out of their home to hang posters depicting their side of the story.

Still, that didn’t dissuade the protestors.

“We try to do everything else in order to resolve these matters,” said protest leader and Stern College student Huvie Yugod. “But in this case, there was no other recourse.”

Several prominent rabbis are also joining the cause, including Rabbi Kenneth Auman of Young Israel of Flatbush, who had protested in front of the home on a separate occasion and Rabbi Jeremy Stern of the ORA, who helped organize the event.

“Usually, these issues are worked out peacefully, but this woman has been chained for too long and this situation has gone over the edge. In this protest, we are trying to shame him in front of his community,” said another protestor.

If it’s true, it’s got to be the dirtiest trick we’ve seen yet in the race between Democrat Lew Fidler and Republican David Storobin in the race to replace former State Senator Carl Kruger.

According to a tweet by Councilmember David Greenfield, a van struck a volunteer carrying pro-Lew Fidler leaflets in front of Cunningham Junior High School (1875 East 17th Street). The driver then got out of the car, grabbed the Filder literature and drove off, the tweet alleges.

Politicker has confirmed the information with a Democratic source, though the NYPD has yet to provide an official account.

In addition to the above, City & State is reporting all sorts of craziness:

We also heard from a source close to Fidler that a similar incident occurred at Public School 206 in Brooklyn, but have yet to confirm that. A call to the police press office has yet to be returned.

David Simpson, a spokesman for Storobin, said the whole thing sounded a bit far-fetched.

“If somebody actually mowed down a volunteer, and took their campaign literature, that would be one of the more outrageous campaign tactics ever,” Simpson said. “Nobody from our campaign is driving around hitting people. Until there’s a police report or a verified confirmation, this sounds highly questionable.”

Meanwhile, Fidler’s campaign just told us that Storobin himself was ejected from a polling site at the Shorefront Jewish Community Center by police, for aggressively electioneering to Russian voters there. But Simpson,  who says he was actually at the polling site, says that’s entirely untrue, and that Storobin’s visit to the polling site was uneventful.

Simpson also says that at least one Russian-speaking voter has reported getting a live a phone call saying their Section 8 voucher will be repealed if Storobin wins election today.

Keep an eye on City & State’s article, as it looks like they’ll be posting constant updates at the allegations that keep flying back and forth.

Former State Senator Carl Kruger. Image source: Illustration composite by Erica Sherman

With seemingly little fanfare, a seven-sentence story by Agence France Presse, with the headline “Death toll among pedestrians wearing headphones triples,” popped up on Yahoo News a while back. It is all but forgotten about now, having first appeared mid-January, but the subject merits revisiting. The Yahoo link is borked, but you can read it on any number of websites by going here.

The story reported the results of a study, which revealed that “[T]he annual tally [of US pedestrians killed or badly injured while wearing headphones] rose from 16 in 2004 to 47 in 2011, bringing the total of cases to 116 over this period.” Researchers of the study, headed by Richard Lichenstein of the University of Maryland Hospital for Children, in Baltimore, further warned of an “inattentional blindness,” or “a distraction that lowers the resources the brain devotes to external stimuli.”

The results of the study — conclusive data parsed from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Google News, and the legal database, Westlaw — were published in the British journal, Injury Prevention.

At the time the story appeared, a cursory search of the word “headphones” into Google News generated upward of 330 results, all citing the same Lichenstein study. It surfaced in The Daily NewsFox News Radio…  the L Magazine picked it up from The Daily News, adding that the NYPD’s 34th Precinct “created its own texting-while-walking awareness campaign last year.” The results of the research were also published in The Washington ExaminerABC NewsMetro New YorkNBC Washington, and hundreds of other media sources all over the web.

The one conspicuously absent item missing from those 330+ stories was any mention of the 27th Senate District’s now former legislator, Carl Kruger.

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Bullying and showing respect for all students will be on the agenda of Community Education Council 21’s next public meeting from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., March 21, at Public School 209 – The Margaret Mead School, 2609 East Seventh Street between Avenue Z and Manor Court, just off Coney Island Avenue.

Sara Carvajal, executive director of Strategic Leadership, will deliver the Superintendent’s Report, followed by a number of guest speakers including Frank Laghezza of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, who will discuss bullying, and Brooklyn Cyclones Marketing & Promotions Manager Dan Pecoraro, who will share some of the anti-bullying initiatives made by the Brooklyn Cyclones organization.

Additionally, City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. will present certificates to the winners of the “Respect for All” student essay contest.

Other items on the meeting’s agenda will be the council president’s report, discussion on turnaround schools, Parent Association Quarterlies delivered by Presidents Council President Heather Fiorica, as well as a round-up of important dates and activities.

Members of the community are invited to attend, as there will also be a public speaking time. There will be door prizes and light refreshments.

To learn more about CEC 21, call (718) 333-3885, email, go to, or find them on Facebook.

THE COMMUTE: You can read yesterday’s “The Role of Buses and How to Make Them More Effective: Part I” here. Today we investigate the causes of bus bunching and discuss examples of the MTA being unresponsive as well as being responsive.

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Joe Savarese, with son Christopher and Mocha the bear. Photos by Erica Sherman

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.” ― Fred Rogers, who would have been 84 years old today.

On St. Patrick’s Day, lifelong Marine Park resident Joseph Savarese, 39, rose before dawn on a foggy Saturday morning to quietly get his head shaved at Lucky’s Place barber shop on Quentin Road and East 31st Street.

He has done this every year for the past seven years.

The annual ritual of shaving his head is Savarese’s way of showing solidarity with children who suffer from cancer, part of a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven cancer charity.

And this year it had a very personal meaning.

Last month, many years after being diagnosed with the disease, an uncle of whom the soft-spoken Savarese was particularly fond, succumbed from the ravaging effects of cancer.

“He was battling two forms of cancer for the past 13-15 years. The cancer shattered his left leg last year,” Savarese said in an email, and, in early February, doctors discovered that his uncle’s spine also “had hair line cracks in it.”

See more photos and find out more about Savarese and his fundraising efforts.

Reader Allan Shweky tipped us off to this school bus versus truck accident that happened this morning, at around 7:45 a.m.

Police responded to the Oceanview Avenue and Ocean Parkway scene, Shweky noted, adding that it didn’t look like anyone was hurt – though we haven’t confirmed that.