Photo by Erica Sherman

Albany – State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), today is announcing that legislation he sponsored, S. 6087A, which allows religious institutions to use public school buildings for worship services during non-school hours, has unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee.

“As the freedom of religion is a basic principle of this great nation, it is only then sensible that religious institutions, holding services open to the public, be allowed to do so in public school buildings.Organizations based on faith deserve the same rights as all other groups, and because of their beliefs, should not be held to a different standard.  These misguided polices that have been put into place do nothing more than detract from the right to worship.

“This legislation will give religious institutions the right to worship without interfering with the separation of church and state.  These groups will now have the right to meet when school is not in session, and gives a home back to many religious groups whom were kicked out of facilities that they have used for over a decade.”

S6087A was introduced in response to the New York City Department of Education banning religious groups for holding worship services inside school buildings.

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While car insurance isn’t nearly as costly or vital as health coverage, it is, nonetheless, compulsory in New York State if you own and/or operate a motor vehicle. Brooklyn has the third highest car insurance rates in the nation, apparently for one reason — insurance fraud.

As reported on Sheepshead Bites last week, State Senator Marty Golden and the citizen consumer group New Yorkers Stand Against Insurance Fraud (NYSAIF) asked the state legislature to once again tackle auto insurance reform in 2012.

In its last session, the legislature failed to pass a measure aimed at combating auto insurance fraud, which is reportedly one of New York’s fastest growing crimes. According to NYSAIF, fraud has cost more than one billion dollars over the last several years and resulted in New Yorkers paying more than 50 percent higher insurance rates than drivers in other states. It may also be why you can spot an inordinate number of motor vehicles in our community with Pennsylvania plates, where the rates are cheaper. Nevertheless, that may be fraudulent, too, if someone uses a Keystone State address of a friend or relative and does not actually live there for at least six months in any year.

The most recent State Insurance Department data indicates the highest state fraud rates are in Brooklyn and The Bronx, which, of course, sustains the high cost of car insurance.

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Photo by Yuriy Semenov

This is a paid announcement from BramsonORT College, a co-educational private not-for-profit college for students seeking an associate’s degree.

Looking for the best opportunities in a tough economy? Need job specific training? Then BramsonORT is the place for you.

Locally-based at 8109 Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst, BramsonORT offers certificates and associate’s degree programs to give you practical, smart job training in a personal environment. BramsonORT is the place to enjoy learning and seize a brighter future.

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  • Renewable Energy Technician. Go green, baby!  With public- and private-sector investment fueling America’s future as a leader of environmental innovation, this is the degree to get ahead of the curve.
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  • Paralegal. Enough watching Law & Order – get in on the courtroom drama! Formally trained paralegals have better employment opportunities in this growing-but-competitive field.
Classes are small and student-focused. You won’t be lost in the crowd at BramsonORT. There’s no SAT required for these courses. You can even earn your GED while earning your associate’s degree, so learn the smart, efficient and affordable way at BramsonORT!

REGISTRATION FOR SPRING 2012 IS NOW TAKING PLACE!

SPRING SEMESTER BEGINS IN ONLY 2 WEEKS – FEBRUARY 5, 2012 

Financial aid and scholarships available to those that qualify

For more information, please contact Vera Brenner at (718) 259-5300, ext. 203

or email Vera at vbrenner@bramsonort.edu. Check us out on the web at www.bramsonort.edu

BramsonORT College, a not-for-profit educational institution, was established in 1942 and accredited by the Board of Regents of the State of New York in 1977. Its mission is to serve the needs of the student seeking an Associate’s Degree in high demand fields such as accounting, medical assistant, pharmacy technician, administrative assistant, business management, electronics technology, HVAC, computer networking, computer programming, video game design, graphic design, renewable energy and medical billing and coding.

The above is a paid announcement by BramsonOrt College. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Doggie photo taken this weekend, submitted by Yelena K.

The weekend came and went and we finally saw the first semi-serious snowfall of the season, with approximately four inches blanketing Sheepshead Bay.

It looked pretty, and was just the right texture that made shoveling a breeze. As for the government, they stayed ahead of the curve, canceling planned track work on the subways, suspending alternate side of the street parking, and kept their new Severe Weather website relatively up-to-date.

And now, two days later, warm weather and light rains are clearing out what was left behind.

Not too shabby. We only wish more snowfalls and responses unfurled like this.

But that’s not to say things were perfect everywhere. Some blocks were not plowed as quickly as residents would like, and some homeowners and small businesses preferred to slack on shoveling rather than to do their duty as neighbors. Also, it was cold. Who the hell likes the cold? Not I, not I…

So, we’re acknowledging the good stuff. Tell us about the bad… or, you know, about anything else, since it’s an open thread and all.

 

It’s not unusual for embattled elected officials to pay off mounting legal bills by dipping into campaign funds, and Carl Kruger is no different. But, aside from the $1.42 million the disgraced pol paid out for his criminal defense, Kruger also paid thousands to prepare for years behind bars.

City & State reports that Kruger spent $7,500 the day before he pled guilty on Jack T. Donson, a federal prison consultant.

According to Donson’s website, he offers “proper pre-incarceration consultation” to prepare offenders for incarceration. He also analyzes sentences for “accuracy,” and researches program eligibility for furlough programs, as well as services that can reduce a sentence, like the Residential Drug Treatment Program.

It’s widely believed that Kruger only pleaded guilty once he had helped ensure that his close personal associate Michael Turano would receive a reduced sentence, a role that Donson may have helped evaluate for the former state senator.

Aside from the prison consultant, Kruger also paid out $25,000 to financial planners at Salomon and Company. Those funds may go to help figure out how Kruger will pay the $900,000 in restitution he’s expected to incur – especially since, when you count up all the bills paid, Kruger only has a smidge over $400,000 left in his accounts, according to the Daily News.

An area resident went on an “antigovernment rampage”  in Downtown Brooklyn last Thursday, vandalizing 13 cars, including that of Borough President Marty Markowitz, his senior adviser and several judges.

The Post reports:

Alex Breytman, 46, was arrested Thursday afternoon in a state supreme court garage on Adams Street. The Ocean Parkway resident, believed to be emotionally disturbed, had on him a knife and a bottle of Zip Strip paint remover.

He was charged with 13 counts of criminal mischief. Each car suffered about $250 in damage, the sources said.

Breytman lives in an apartment building on Ocean Parkway, near Neptune Avenue. And, apparently, he has a history of instability.

Around this time last year, Breytman was in court suing a lawyer who previously represented him in a landlord-tenant dispute. The charges? Well, no one really figured that out, since they were presented in a slew of rambling “invectives,” according to Gothamist. Breytman bombarded his former attorney Donald Schecter with legal filings and letters, seeking more than $20 million, and accused him of anti-Jewish discrimination in the vein of “Gabble antiseptic rant against Jew in Germany.”

The Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice overseeing the case, Arthur Schack, interpreted that as a reference to Hitler’s minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels, and ultimately ordered Breytman to stop suing his former lawyer.

Map from Google Maps

A plan to add 375,000 cubic yards of sand to a Jamaica Bay marshland habitat is great news for wildlife, but a tougher commute for drivers going to and from the Rockaway peninsula.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is executing a $7 million initiative to restore 50-acres of Yellow Bar Hassock Island, one of several marsh islands just a few yards west of the Brooklyn-Queens border. But in order to get sand dredged from the Ambrose Channel in the New York – New Jersey Harbor into Jamaica Bay, authorities are scheduling periodic closures of the Gil Hodges – Marine Parkway Bridge.

According to a report in the Queens Tribune, the closures will begin on January 26, and last through the month of February, as barges and equipment make their way under into Jamaica Bay. Motorists are advised to use the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge as an alternate.

The restoration of the salt marshes and coastal wetlands in Jamaica Bay are a “critical component” of the Comprehensive Restoration Plan for the Hudson Raritan Estuary, according to a press release from the Army Corps of Engineers. Approximately 1,400 of tidal salt marsh has vanished from the marsh islands since 1924 – and, in recent years, the rate of erosion has been more rapid. The marsh islands are not only a habitat and migrating grounds for wildlife, but help protect the coastal areas to the north against flooding and erosion.

Click to enlarge

THE COMMUTE: I admit it. I was stuck for a story this week with no apparent transportation problems resulting from our little snowstorm this past weekend. Of course, it will take a major storm to know if any of the procedural changes put into effect after last winter’s fiasco will keep the subways and buses operating smoothly, or if the MTA will decide it will be more prudent to suspend service again as they did last year for Hurricane Irene that never materialized.

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Another noir-ish weather shot dating back to my pre-existence. From the photographer:

Nighttime view of Nostrand Avenue looking south toward Voorhies Avenue, early 1975. Ice accumulated on the tree branches reflects the light from the streetlamp. From 35mm Kodachrome slide.

Just to give you some context of what was going on across the globe in the year this photo was shot:

  • Volkswagen first introduced the Volkswagen Rabbit (and here is a goofy 1979 B&W Rabbit commercial).
  • Wheel of Fortune premiered on NBC. Weirdly, Pat and Vanna still look the same now as they did 36 years ago.
  • Margaret Thatcher rises to power.
  • John Mitchell, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are sent to jail for their roles in the Watergate scandal.
  • Bill Gates founded Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • The Fall of Saigon marks the end of the Vietnam War.
  • Teamsters Union President Jimmy Hoffa is reported missing.
  • Ranked as one of the greatest fights of the 20th century, Muhammad Ali (just barely) defeats “Smokin’” Joe Frazier during the “Thrilla in Manila.” Smokin’ Joe went on to his Eternal Reward just this past November at age 67.
  • NBC aired the first episode of “Saturday Night Live,” featuring George Carlin as the show’s first host.
  • Spanish dictator Francisco Franco dies. Soon after, Juan Carlos is declared King of Spain.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show hits the big screen.
  • New York City is approved for a bailout of 2.3 billion each year through to 1978 – 6.9 billion total. What? You thought Obama invented the bailout?
  • Heavy metal band Iron Maiden is formed by guitarist Steve Harris. Run to the hills!

Photo by Andy Baum