Photo by Erica Sherman

The following is a press release from the offices of State Senator Marty Golden: 

The New York State Senate today  passed legislation (S. 1746) introduced by Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), a former New York City Police Officer, that would prevent convicted felons currently confined as an inmate in any correctional facility, on parole, or on probation, from being able to legally change their name.

The legislation is a result of a 2000 civil rights law amendment that established a process for violent felons so to petition for a legal name change that includes crime victim and community notification. The process gives victims a chance to voice their opposition to such name changes.

Senator Golden stated, “Isn’t it enough to be a victim of a crime, and then to have to proceed with a trial, looking the one who caused you harm right in the face for days, weeks and sometimes months.  This court ruling now adds to the pain of New York’s victims, in it causes people to vividly recall the incident, in an effort to keep a felon from changing their name.”

Golden continued, “This bill stops criminals from victimizing law abiding citizens again in a court of law. New York needs to stop coddling criminals at the expense of victims. We should never consider the rights of the criminals in advance of those of the victims.”

The bill was sent to the Assembly.

Photo by Erica Sherman

The NYPD has issued a Silver Alert for the disappearance of Mara Gorelik, female, white, age 69, from West 5th Street and Neptune Avenue in Brooklyn. Gorelik suffers from Alzheimers and is unfamiliar with her name and surroundings; she is not carrying I.D. or a phone. She is 5’9″ tall, 190 lbs., with brown hair, grey eyes, wearing a large white sweater, blue jeans, and glasses, last seen today at 8:15 a.m. near her home. If seen, please call 911.

The scene of the fire at 2775 East 12th Street on Saturday evening. (Photo by Ian Sellick)

Residents of the Bel-Air building at 2775 East 12th Street are being allowed to return to their homes after a fire forced them to evacuate on Saturday.

Sheepshead Bites visited the building today and found residents buzzing about the building’s entrance, many carrying bags. It was hopefully the end of the two-day ordeal, in which the residents relocated to the homes of friends and family, and American Red Cross also provided an emergency shelter at Bay Academy Junior High School.

However, not everyone is being allowed back to their apartments, according to one Sheepshead Bites commenter. She writes:

Apparently they are turning the lights on in order of your apartment, but not everyone is guaranteed to be allowed into their apartment tonight. The power in the building is restored but not all the wings have power. They are urging everyone to have someone stop by and speak to the super so he can verify if your apartment will have power.

On Sunday, management for the Bel-Air building taped a typed statement onto the front door’s of the building.

“Building management is on site and is working with our licensed engineers and Con Edison representatives to restore power as soon as possible. We will organize escorted access during the hours of 8:00 am – 5:00 pm,” said KQR Management LLC.

The management company did not return calls for comment by the time this story went to press.

The fire broke out in the electrical room at around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, at first causing power outages to the apartment units.

“At first I thought it was just my apartment, but then I found it happened to everyone else,” said a resident.

“It was hectic on Saturday, there was a lot of commotion,” said another resident.

 

Valentine day

Yes folks, it’s that time of year again. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

Some say that this is the day of the year to celebrate and cherish the one you love. Others claim it’s a manufactured holiday, conjured up by the greeting card and candy manufacturers as a ploy to lure us all into the stores.

Either way you look at it, there’s a lot of pressure on all of us to spend some cash on our significant other(s). Ya gotta put out!

So, let’s hear it folks. What’s your best Valentine’s Day story? Tell us all about that magical day when love was in the air and romance blossomed. Or tell us your Valentine’s Day horror story. We all have one of them, now don’t we?

Not the actual KCC Musical Society Chorus, but rather a random image of a chorus, just to show you what fun singing in a chorus can be. Source: Flickr / bryan_estabrooks

Attention to all of you out there who, in the words of Karen Carpenter, like to “Sing, sing a song… Sing out loud, sing out strong!

The Kingsborough Musical Society Chorus, a not-for-profit organization under the direction of conductor Mark Mangini, would love for you to join them. The group’s mixed repertoire includes theater, folk, and classical music, plus they always perform two free annual concerts on the Kingsborough Community College campus (2001 Oriental Boulevard) in December and May, as well as a number of community outreach concerts at various locations throughout Brooklyn.

The chorus’ first rehearsal and audition for their annual spring concert will be Thursday, February 16. Rehearsals are Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on the second floor of Kingsborough’s T-8 building. Sightreading is helpful but not mandatory.

The concert will be held May 6, during which time the chorus will be performing a medley from the Leonard Bernstein Broadway musical “West Side Story,” as well as other selections.

Parking is free, on campus, for chorus members.

For information about joining the chorus, call Steve Friedman at (718) 338-9132. You can also visit them on Facebook.

Will "arrogance" impede upon instituting much-needed policy changes within the MTA? Source: wka/Flickr

THE COMMUTEThe key to efficient and effective transit service is through properly matching service to demand. The MTA attempts to accomplish this through routine “traffic checks” where employees wearing orange vests sit alongside the bus drivers and count passengers getting on and off. Each bus route is usually monitored every few years with heavily utilized ones monitored more frequently. Exceptions are made for routes having special problems and those undergo more frequent checks. I’m not sure how subway traffic checks are performed, but I would imagine that they are conducted from the platforms.

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At least one officer from the 61st Precinct may be under investigation after surveillance video shed doubt on his arrest of a Sheepshead Bay resident for allegedly trying to run him over.

Three days after he was locked up, John Hockenjos, a 55-year-old East 23rd Street resident, was released on bail last week and his lawyer said his client was falsely arrested and has videotaped evidence of the altercation to prove it.

Hockenjos’ attorney, Craig Newman, told Sheepshead Bites that he had turned copies of the tape over to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, as well as the NYPD Internal Affairs unit.

While many Brooklynites were getting ready to watch the Super Bowl on February 5, Hockenjos, who is employed by the MTA, was arrested and charged with first and second degree reckless endangerment and reckless driving after police at the scene claimed he attempted to run them over with his car as they stood in his driveway.

The sworn criminal complaint states that Hockenjos drove into his driveway “at a high rate of speed,” which forced Officer Diego Palacios “to jump out of the way to avoid being hit” by the four-door sedan.

The problem is surveillance video from Hockenjos’ home suggests Hockenjos did no such thing.

The video shows Hockenjos slowly pulling into the driveway and stopping several feet away from the officers. Hockenjos and his wife get out of the car to talk to the police. The officer did not budge, as he had claimed.

In the full video, not shown above, Hockenjos begins to unpack his car when another police car shows up. Officers eventually handcuff Hockenjos, though no indication of aggression or reckless driving is seen on the tape.

“In my 20 years of legal experience, I’ve never seem more crystal clear evidence of a false arrest.” Newman told the Daily News.

The police were originally summoned by neighbor Argo Paumere, with whom the Hockenjos’ have had an ongoing property dispute. The police are seen talking with Paumere when the Hockenjoses arrived.

Hockenjos and his wife, Irena, 51, have lived in their house for 14 years, but trouble started two years ago when Argo Paumere moved next door. According to Newman, Hockenjos’ driveway includes a two-foot easement that has become an ongoing feud between the homeowners.

Newman said Paumere has wanted to build a larger house since he moved in and has repeatedly asked Hockenjos to give up the small section of driveway. Hockenjos has refused and the lawyer said it has resulted in numerous calls to the 61st Precinct and his client being “dragged into court numerous times,” stemming from several harassment complaints filed by Paumere.

“But each case has been dismissed,” Newman said, so the dispute persists.

Newman declined to allow Sheepshead Bites to interview the couple citing the “pending criminal matter.”

Hockenjos faces seven years in prison if the charges are not dismissed. Newman said the next court appearance is scheduled for August, but the District Attorney’s office could bring the case back to court sooner if they decide to dismiss it after analyzing the videotape.

A life cut short: Joseph Avena (center) with his two children, Joey and Charlize. Source: Facebook

They are the words no mother should ever have to say: “On Christmas morning God called my son, Joseph, to join Him in Heaven.”

But that was the December 27 Facebook status the broken-hearted Kathleen Ann Avena posted about her son Joseph “Joey” Avena, a beloved husband to Derryl, and father to two young children, Charlize, 10, and Joey, eight. The elder Joey Avena — who listed “Braveheart” as his favorite movie on MySpace, and who loved the Jets, watching “Spongebob Squarepants” with his children, and playing poker — was laid to rest after his loved ones said final goodbyes to him on December 28 at Scarpaci Funeral Home, 86th Street and 14th Avenue in Bensonhurst.

Click to enlarge. Photo by Erica Sherman

Now, Joey Avena’s two grief-stricken brothers, Anthony and Richie, are organizing the “Friend In Need Benefit,” a community-wide fundraiser at the Tamaqua Bar & Marina, February 18 from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., to benefit their departed sibling’s children and family. Admission to the “Friend In Need Benefit” is $20, which includes free food, a DJ, raffles, 50/50, and, organizers hope, a live band.

All proceeds from the door cover will be given to the children, and monies generated from the event will go directly to the family to help them overcome the difficult financial situation they are in. Additionally, the Avena family has set up a page on WePay.com, an online payment platform, which allows people to securely make donations online:

Our goal is to raise funds to help support Joey’s family with the financial struggles that lie ahead for them. Donations of any size are welcome. Your donation will help us achieve our goal of helping out the Avena family in their time of need. All donations and contributors to the event will be publicly acknowledged. It is much appreciated by the entire Avena family. Charlize and Joey have a hard road ahead of them, but you can help make it a little better!

If you can’t make it to the event. This is a great way to participate. We are using wepay.com to collect our donations. It’s super convenient, simple, and secure. If you have any questions, please email joannamcginn@aol.com.

With just a few more days left prior to the “Friend In Need Benefit,” the Avena family has collected $890 on WePay toward their goal of $1,000.

According to Kathleen Ann Avena, “My sons, Anthony and Richie, really want to make this happen in honor of their brother who they are heartbroken over having lost. They NEED you to make this possible and I hope to see you and your friends there.”

The Tamaqua Club & Marina is located at 84 Ebony Court in Gerritsen Beach.

To learn more, contact Richie Avena at (917) 755-2581 or Maura Buckley at (917) 855-4683, or email Buckley at mbuckley@nywt.com.

…makes me want to break out into song.

Photo by Boris Shekhman