A mess of wires, somewhat representative of DOT signage. Source: HowardLake / Flickr

THE COMMUTEThe MTA financial situation could go from bad to worse. First we have the state stealing money from the MTA. Now we have the federal government trying to do something similar.

A proposed House bill ends the practice of linking the Highway Trust Fund, financed by the gas tax, to mass transit and reduces federal funding to transit. As MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota stated, without dedicated funding the MTA is in serious trouble:

“That billion dollars in funding is used to buy rail stock and switching and signaling equipment, critical to maintaining our system in a state of good repair.”

Republicans are now reworking that bill and there is also a competing Senate bill.

Read about some overdue problems that need fixing in our neighborhood.

Caballero (Source: BNA)

An 18-year-old Brighton Beach man died on Friday after rescuing his little brother from their burning home, then rushing back into the blaze to save an elderly neighbor. Now the family is struggling to pay for the teen’s funeral, and is turning to the community for help.

Jhordan Caballero lived up to his surname – Spanish for “knight” or “gentleman” – when he guided his 8-year-old brother Renzo out of their Brighton 3rd Street two-story home after a blaze erupted on the first floor, filling the home with thick smoke and scorching heat. Caballero then rushed back in to save a 61-year-old woman.

But Caballero, finding the woman stuck, rushed back upstairs to his apartment to call 911. He never made it back out of the house, succumbing instead to the smoke.

According to the Daily News:

He was unconscious when firefighters found him.

“The building was like an inferno,” said Olga Martynchuk, 39, a neighbor.

She said Caballero was covered in soot when he was pulled from the house.

“I couldn’t tell that it was him at first,” Martychuk said. “He was all black with smoke, you couldn’t see his eyes.”

She said firefighters fought hard to save him. But he died at Coney Island Hospital soon after.

“First one fireman and then another, and then a third and even a fourth they all took turns pumping his chest, but they could do nothing,” Martychuk said.

The younger brother and the neighbor, who was pulled out by firefighters, were treated for smoke inhalation at the same hospital, officials said.

Caballero was a Lincoln High School grad and Kingsborough Community College freshman whose family emigrated to Brooklyn from Peru four years ago.

Now his family, already grief-stricken from their loss, is hit with another burden: trying to pay for Caballero’s funeral bills.

“The boy was a hero,” said Pat Singer, executive director of the Brighton Neighborhood Association. “He gave up his life to save two lives. The family does not have the money to bury their son.”

The BNA has contacted Catholic Charities  and the Hebrew Free Fund, but to no avail. Now they’re asking the community to help give the teen the burial he has earned.

“If anyone wants to donate through the Brighton Neighborhood Association, we will be glad to give them our tax exemption number,” Singer said.

Readers can send checks to the Brighton Neighborhood Association, 1002 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11235. You can call (718) 891-0800 or e-mail bnapsinger@aol.com if you have additional questions.

Shot earlier in the month on Sheepshead Bay Road and Shore Parkway during some snow flurries.

Photo by Erica Sherman

This just in, there has been a transformer explosion on Homecrest Avenue between Ave V and Neck Road Avenue V. We are hearing reports of power and phone outages in the surrounding areas.

UPDATE: We are being told that the traffic lights are out on Avenue V from East 12th Street to East 15th Street.

UPDATE: 6:30 p.m.  The offending transformer is located on a telephone pole on the southside of Avenue V between East 12th Street and Homecrest Avenue. To the un-trained eye, the transformer does not look as if it exploded. Con-Ed staff told our reporter that it did indeed explode and then shut down. There was no fire at the scene.

Power is partially out on the blocks bounded by East 12th Street to East 15th Street between Neck Road and Avenue U. The outage appears to begin mid-block between Neck Road and Avenue V and continue to mid-block between Avenue V and Avenue U.

All street lights and traffic lights are out on Avenue V between East 12th Street and East 15th Street. Please be careful when crossing those intersections. There were no police or fire department personnel on location to direct traffic when our staff walked the area. Many close calls were observed as cars sped through the intersections.

A Con-Ed worker told our staff that power should be restored within 2 hours.

UPDATE: 6:50 p.m. We are hearing reports that the traffic light at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue V is now out as well. Please be careful when driving in the area.

UPDATE: 7:55 p.m. Loyal reader and frequent commenter, Lostinservice, has told us that the power was restored at approximately 7:40 p.m. Thanks for the update Lostinservice and good job Con-Ed.

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.

I wonder how many of you young’uns remember that eighties catch phrase.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Republican State Senate hopeful David Storobin sent out a press release today accusing Democratic opponent Councilman Lew Fidler of “ducking” debates in the Orthodox Jewish community. Fidler’s campaign, though, said no such invitations were ever extended.

Storobin’s release claims Fidler refused debate invitations from two prominent Jewish groups: Agudath Israel and the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush. He claims the councilman is “ducking” the debate, though he has no “problem trolling for votes” in the Orthodox community.

The councilman has agreed to two debates already, one of which he says is sponsored by the League of Women Voters (though, actually, it’s sponsored by the Canarsie Courier) and another by the Manhattan Beach Civic Association.

“Councilman Fidler is turning his back on the Orthodox Community. He’s playing favorites by agreeing to one debate and not another. This is not what the people of the 27th District are looking for in a state senator.”

According to Fidler’s team though, Storobin’s got it all wrong. They say there was no such invitation from either organization.

However, the councilman is being forced to take a step back from the campaign trail by health issues. Before Storobin’s release was sent, Fidler sent out the following statement today:

A few days ago I was admitted to the hospital with a severe allergic reaction to a prescription medication I take to treat Gout.  My physician has instructed me to be off my feet for the next few days.  I’m grateful to my constituents, staff and the wonderful volunteers who continue to spend day and night pounding the pavement for our campaign.  As soon as I have the permission of my physicians – and my wife – I intend to return full steam to the campaign trail.  Of course, my district office will continue actively handling the day-to-day needs of my constituents.

It does not appear, however, that the health concerns will cause a cancellation of any of the scheduled debates.

Sheepshead Bites has contacted Agudeth Israel and the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush to confirm whether or not an invitation had been sent to Fidler. However, our calls went unanswered, likely because of the Sabbath.

UPDATE: We just received this update from Kalman Yeger of Councilman Fidler’s office….

David Storobin continues to drag this campaign to the gutter with lies and deceit, this time inventing an imaginary debate.  The fact is that Councilman Fidler agreed to every single debate offered in this campaign.  Mr. Storobin obviously invented this imaginary event, to which we were never invited.  If Mr. Storobin had any class, he would have offered traditional ‘refuah sh’laimah’ (‘full recovery’) wishes, instead of launching another lie-filled attack.

And from David Simpson in Mr. Storobin’s office…

 I understand that the Fidler camp is denying there was an invitation to debate. Keeping in mind that invitations don’t always come in an embossed envelope, let me say this for the record.

Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz who is with the Council of Jewish Organizations invited us to debate sponsored by that organization and Agudath Israel. We agreed, and it was our understanding that Fidler’s camp also agreed. After that, emails and phone calls went back and forth trying to firm up a date and logistics. Then, this afternoon (Friday), Lefkowitz got back to us and said Fidler had pulled out.

I will make every effort to get you in touch with representatives from the Council of Jewish Organizations to back up our claim, but it’s probably not going to happen until later in the weekend. I have made several phone calls and no one is answering because Shabbos has already begun.

That said, Fidler’s response skirts the issue. He’s deflecting onto whether or not a “formal” invitation exists instead of saying whether or not he agrees to an Orhtodox debate. Does he or doesn’t he? We were told he said no and we’re sticking by that.

For our part, we are still committed to doing this debate. If Fidler is waiting for a formal invitation (whatever that is), he should first tell the organizations who are trying to host it that he is willing to debate, as Storobin has. Then we can send formal invitations to everyone.

We’ll let you know more as this develops.

The following is from Notify NYC:

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning for the five boroughs of NYC from 10:00PM tonight to 6:00PM Saturday. Sustained winds between 25-40 MPH with gusts up to 60 MPH are expected. These winds will be capable of bringing down trees, large branches, and power lines. Driving will be difficult, especially in high profile vehicles and on elevated roads and bridges. For the latest weather information visit: http://www.weather.gov/nyc

The following is a press release from the offices of City Councilman David Greenfield:

David G. GreenfieldCouncilman David G. Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), Flatbush Shomrim and the family of fatal hit-and-run victim Noah Foxman are asking any local residents or businesses with a video surveillance system to immediately turn over all footage from the evening of Thursday, January 26 to Flatbush Shomrim or NYPD, which are conducting the ongoing investigation into this crime. Business owners and residents near the accident scene at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue K are especially urged to help locate the driver of the light-colored sedan seen fleeing southbound after hitting Mr. Foxman at about 10:15 p.m. All residents and merchants are asked to act before relevant footage is taped over or erased.

“Nearly a month has passed since this horrendous incident and the family of Noah Foxman is still seeking closure, which will only come once the cowardly driver is held accountable for the abhorrent actions of that evening. The key to these investigations, short of an eyewitness, is often surveillance footage from local store owners or residents. I am hoping that everyone in that area with a surveillance system will provide copies of video from that evening to the authorities actively investigating this case,” said Greenfield.

A reward fund started by Greenfield and Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case has now reached $5,500. Anyone with information regarding the identity of the driver responsible for the death of Mr. Foxman, who was a married father of three and beloved Midwood resident, is urged to call 1-800-577-TIPS.

Continue Reading »

Oceana Hall, a Brighton Beach venue whose late-night events have spurred complaints from neighbors, has been illegally hosting parties without a cabaret license, Sheepshead Bites has learned.

The Department of Consumer Affairs – which issues cabaret licenses – has confirmed that it does not have a license on record for the venue’s listed address at 1029 Brighton Beach Avenue. According the department’s website:

Any room, place, or space in New York City in which patron dancing is permitted in connection with the restaurant business or a business that sells food and/or beverages to the public requires a Cabaret license.

When we called Oceana Hall for comment, the person in charge of booking, who gave her name only as Jamie, at first said they did not need a cabaret license because they have a catering license, which allows them to host private parties.

She added that parties like their upcoming March Madness or this past week’s Presidents Weekend Shut Down were private and usually booked as benefits for schools or fraternities. When we asked which schools or organizations benefited from the Presidents weekend party that ended with violence, she said she would have to check her records.

She did not answer any further phone calls from Sheepshead Bites.

Videos like this show packed parties with drinking and dancing at Oceana Hall.

The city, however, has a different take on what constitutes a public party versus a private party.

Though the parties may have been booked as private, the promoters were selling tickets to the general public – which makes it public. And there are plenty of recent videos online that show concerts and parties at Oceana Hall with drinking and dancing involved.

According to a Department of Consumer Affairs press officer, the department’s legal team believes this qualifies Oceana Hall as a venue in need of a cabaret license.

“If the event is open to the public, regardless of whether a third party promoter is involved, a cabaret license is required,” the press officer told Sheepshead Bites.

Licenses are a matter of both safety and community concern. To get one, the city inspects the facility to ensure it meets fire and electrical codes, and the establishment must also be reviewed by the local Community Board, in theory to ensure it isn’t a nuisance to neighbors. (*CORRECTED)

But a nuisance is an apt description for Oceana Hall, according to neighbors. Last weekend, attendees turned to violence as they poured into the street at closing time, with a gunman opening fire and striking two women.

It’s an extreme example, but residents and community leaders said they knew it was a matter of time before things got out of hand.

Yelena Makhnin, executive director of the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District, said that things have been getting worse at the club over the past year, with more complaints to her office from neighboring residents and businesses. They say the parties break up late at night, and attendees hit the streets making noise and raising a ruckus.

“I understand it’s a business and people need to make money, but the people who live on Brighton 11th and Brighton 12th cannot be victims of people making money,” Makhnin said. “I strongly believe if they want to have parties, fine, but they have to obey the laws.”

Councilman Michael Nelson’s office and Community Board 13 has also been fielding complaints about the venue.

“I get phone calls from the Oceana buildings [across the street] about noise, and that they’re having a cabaret at night and have screaming and fighting and disturbing life,” said a staffer at Nelson’s office.

The councilman’s office is helping coordinate with Community Board 13 and the 60th Precinct to meet with the business and ease the problem.

The NYPD is responsible for enforcing cabaret laws, but while the 60th Precinct has spoken to the owners and even issued summonses on other matters, they have not issued any violations for their missing license.

A Community Affairs officer declined to comment on the matter, but Makhnin said that the local precinct has been doing a good job responding to complaints at the venue and is trying to be balanced in their approach.

“It’s a very grey area,” Makhnin said. “When the city is trying to enforce a law, right away they’re blamed for making it difficult for small business owners.”

CORRECTION (4:51 p.m.): The original version of this article stated that the establishment needed approval from the Community Board to obtain a cabaret license. In fact, they only need to be reviewed. The Department of Consumer Affairs can and does issue cabaret licenses to businesses that have been rejected by the Community Board.

The former site of Chinar at 3110 Avenue U, which once also housed Jahn’s Ice Cream and The Flame, was torn down this week.

Chinar vacated the site in mid-2010, when they moved to a new location at 2775 Coney Island Avenue. It has been empty since then.

There are no plans listed on the Department of Buildings website for a new structure on the property, currently owned by CGB Principals Realty Associates.

GerritsenBeach.net also reported on the demolition.