Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars on a prison consultant before pleading guilty, former State Senator Carl Kruger could have just talked to someone who was in his shoes a couple of years ago.

Formerly incarcerated Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith appeared on The Brooklyn Politics Show to talk about his time in prison, and he offered a piece of advice to soon-to-be-sentenced Kruger.

“My main piece of advice for him would be to just go there and be positive and finds way he can help other inmates. There’s lots of ways you can help people and burnish your reputation in there so that you have an easier time and you can continue doing good,” said Smith. “I’m sure when he first got into public service, he did it probably for the right reason and then things got mixed up a little bit.”

Smith, who is now a professor at the New School of Management and Urban Policy in New York City, also recounted his first fight that took place during a game of basketball.

“My first fight was on the basketball court and it wasn’t like a big fight. It was somebody who just got really rough with me and I probably should of backed down but I continued dribbling and sort of playing, some would say, a fancy way that kind of antagonized the person who was playing defense on me,” said Smith. “He ended up giving me a bloody lip and then someone else broke us up.”

As for what to hope for during the sentencing, Smith said to “hope you’re under 10 years because if you’re under 10 years you can go to a minimum security facility.”

Check out the interview – Smith is an entertaining speaker with insight into an experience few of us (hopefully) will share.

From the photographer:

I took this photo [M]onday evening (Ed. — January 23) about 5:30 pm. I thought it could be an EVENING MUG.

Photo by Stan Kaplan

I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m busy getting it done. In the meantime, here’s your weekly open thread to cheer, jeer, moan, groan, question, answer, whine, cry, complain, praise, compliment, bitch, yell, and otherwise express yourself about whatever the heck you want.

Back to work for me…

Bob Turner

With New York State set to lose two of its 29 congressional seats in the House of Representatives, the Democrats hope a Republican’s seat isn’t one of them.

Democrats are hoping that Bob Turner’s seat isn’t on the chopping block because they strongly feel that they can win it back.

“I believe it’s a Democratic seat and would be won by a Democrat,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told the New York Daily News.

Despite Turner’s upset victory in the race to replace Anthony Weiner last year, and the ensuing media reports that claimed it as evidence that area was becoming increasingly conservative, the party believes that the congressional district remains staunchly blue. They also think Turner remains a vulnerable candidate.

Those claims are backed up by Turner’s own weak fundraising efforts. As the New York Observer’s Politicker blog noted, the congressman’s financial performance has been lackluster:

Recently elected GOP Congressman Bob Turner reported a relatively modest campaign haul today, showing just $76,000 raised with $71,000 cash on hand since the last reporting period. This is not an especially large pot of money to to proceed forward in what could be a tough reelection environment for him. For comparison, New York City’s other Republican Congressman, Michael Grimm, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars this cycle and has over a million dollars in the bank.

Other Democrats are also pushing to end the narrative that the area is becoming a Republican enclave.

“This election is going to make a big difference. This is where we draw the line in the sand. This is where we break up the firewall,” said City Councilman Lew Fidler during a meeting of the Brooklyn Young Democrats at Wheeler’s (1707 Sheepshead Bay Road). The councilman noted that any further Republican victories in the area would encourage the party to focus more on ousting other local Democrats, sparking a red wave throughout the borough. “They are not going to turn Brooklyn red,” he said.

Investigators have identified the lifeless body of a man pulled from the Marine Park salt marsh on Friday, and they don’t suspect any criminality was involved.

Alex Bender, 45, was pulled from the waters behind the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center, at Avenue U and East 33rd Street, by authorities after being discovered by a passerby. According to the New York Post, Bender’s parents reported their son missing earlier in the day, and sources told the paper he suffered from depression.

Though little details emerged in the hours during and after the recovery, neighbors described the scene and their concerns on‘s comment section.

Commenters wrote that sirens rang through the neighborhood for more than half an hour and were heard as far away as N&D Pizza on East 29th Street and Avenue U. Another commenter said he witnessed firefighters pulling the body from the water.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Sheepshead Bay High School (3000 Avenue X) teacher Bart Ocuto resigned in September after complaints were filed of inappropriate and distasteful conversations with several female students, including an alleged incident in which he cornered one girl and asked her about anal sex.

The New York Daily News describes some of the allegations:

Schools investigators were summoned to the D-rated school in March 2011 and met with a female student who said Ocuto cornered her in class, interrogating her about anal sex.

When she responded by asking him the same question, he demurred, saying, “I don’t discuss my sex life in the classroom,” according to two students interviewed by the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigations.

Another female student said the raunchy science instructor asked her to have his name tattooed on her buttocks, and told her he was aroused because “I’m going to see my ex today.”

Yet another girl said that Ocuto asked her “what base” she reached with her boyfriend. Ocuto described “first base” as “tongue and touching,” second base as a “b— job” and third base as “all the way,” investigators said.

The Daily News spoke to Ocuto over the phone where he said that he was being targeted for being a whistle-blower on grade tampering on the Regents exam, and because he was an older man making a lot of money.

“I am a simple man,” said Ocuto. “I’ve never done anything like that in my life. I’m heartbroken over this.”

Ocuto admitted to having three students over his apartment, but he says it was for “service credit.” Also, he asked a student if he was a member of the Bloods or Crips, but he says he did it to lighten up the mood.

Ocuto is currently a teacher at a private school.

Will the MTA refinance or extend its debt further into the future? Source: Flickr / paulmmay

THE COMMUTE: As we already know, a huge portion of the MTA’s financial problems relate to the debt it has incurred over the years to finance its capital program. With interest rates at historic lows, the MTA can now reduce its debt by refinancing. The MTA’s current budget includes an $86 million deficit. Chairman Joe Lhota asked Governor Andrew Cuomo to waive the fee the state would charge the MTA if they were to refinance a portion of their old debt. That would save the MTA $54 million over the life of the bonds, according to Bloomberg News.

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A homeless person calls this bench on Ocean Parkway home. Photo by Boris Shekhman

According to 2011 statistics proffered by NYC Department of Homeless Services’ Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE), there are 2,648 homeless individuals living on the streets of New York City. While down 40 percent from 2005’s estimate of 4,395, that’s still 2,648 human beings too many.

Tonight, HOPE will conduct its annual estimate and they are in search of 3,000 New Yorkers to help them canvass parks, subways, and other public spaces in order to best determine the number of people living unsheltered throughout the city, and how to help them.

From HOPE’s website:

The information gathered by volunteers during HOPE 2012 is critical to our ongoing efforts, but we need your help to make it possible. We need more than 3,000 volunteers, who are 18 years-old or older, to give just one night of their time to help count the number of New Yorkers living on city streets. We will provide you with all the training you will need to conduct the survey on the night of HOPE plus a quick, convenient online orientation when you register to give you the basics.

You can still sign up for HOPE 2012 and help make an impact in reducing the number of homeless New Yorkers living on the street — and if you sign up, be sure and tell Sheepshead Bites about your experience by emailing nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

For additional information, call 311 (in any borough of New York City), (212) NEW-YORK (212-639-9675, outside of New York City), (212) 607-5366 (HOPE Helpline), email or click here to go to their website.

Source: mvongrue/Flickr

The reality TV bug has bitten Coney Island’s top basketball school.

Abraham Lincoln High School, a program that is rich with basketball history, is the subject of an upcoming reality series, says the New York Daily News.

The series, titled City Hardwood, airs on 8 p.m. every Sunday on NYC life. It documents the Railsplitters’ quest for a PSAL championship.

“We’re so excited to be able to showcase this amazing talent that’s coming out of Lincoln High School,” said Marybeth Ihle, who is the press manager for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, which oversees the NYC life channel. “For people who don’t know much about high school basketball . . . (the program will help them) understand how much talent and effort goes into those games.”

Former NBA player Stephon Marbury and current NBA players Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson, all played for the Railsplitters.

NYC life can be found on all cable carriers serving New York City. The channel number for you provider can be found here. Episodes can also be downloaded on iTunes and viewed on the channel’s website.

A little humor from the photographer, noting Sheepsead Bites’ reluctant predilection for photos of sunsets by the bay:

Yes, another Bay sunset…

…but this one is from the mid-70s.

And yes, that does, indeed, make all the difference in the world. Also, that it was shot with film, and that the boat in the foreground is decorated in the stars and stripes? Magnifique!

Photo by Andy Baum