370 Jay Street, taken in 2006 before the scaffolding was erected.

THE COMMUTE: The MTA is short of cash. That is no secret. Albany is partially to blame for that, as Ben Kabak has written about endlessly in SecondAvenueSagas.com. But have the MTA’s real estate deals been in the best interest of the public or in the best interests of the real estate industry? Over the years real estate and banking interests have been the most prevalent occupations of MTA Board members. At the Brooklyn Public Hearing for the service cutbacks held in March 2010, a small group of protesters raised signs critical of the MTA’s deal to sell Atlantic Yards for below market value. In 2009, a lawsuit was filed to that effect. But it was hardly the only questionable land deal under the MTA’s watch.

Keep reading for Rosen’s roundup of the MTA’s botched real estate management.

So before we were New York City, we were Brooklyn. And before we were Brooklyn, we were Gravesend.

You see, back in the old days, we were the only English chartered town in the Dutch colony of New Netherland, founded by this badass boo named Lady Moody. As a widow, she rebelled against Puritan mores in Massachusetts, was chased down here, founded a town, and, upon chillin’ with homeboy Peter Stuyvesant, scored religious freedom for her Anabaptist crew – a coup very unusual for anyone in the 1600s, especially a woman.

Fast forward 200 years, and Brooklyn’s all up there lookin’ smug and stuff, annexing away at Williamsburg, New Lots, Flatbush, et al. Gravesend was all like, “Yo, them Dutchies gettin’ grabby.” But then we thought about the situation a little more and realized those chickenheads needed us. So, like, whatever.

And then a few years later, we realized how sad Manhattan would be if its future leaders had no one to ignore. So we hooked up with them, too, forming New York City.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Ned’s a genius. Thanks for filling me in on this rich chapter of history.” You’re welcome.

But if you’re really serious about knowing the details about the formation of New York City from five separate counties, you should check out Bay Improvement Group’s History Night, tonight at 8:00 p.m. at Sunrise Assisted Living (2211 Emmons Avenue).

The group holds this annual event the week before BayFest to remind everyone what it is we’re celebrating, and they’re having a real pro historian – Ron Schweiger – come down and explain it in detail. So, you know, you can actually learn something instead of reading my nonsense.

View the event flier.

Photo by Knightmare6.

Source: DEP

I confess, come Saturday I shall be refreshing the North Shore edition of SI Live, waiting in curious anticipation to see how the impending weekend rain barrel distribution at the College of Staten Island works out for residents of “The Forgotten Borough” (although, for those of us enduring a third consecutive Bloomberg Administration, that could easily refer to all of the boroughs except for Manhattan).

Read why this matters, and weigh in on whether Southern Brooklynites are getting screwed.

Tappen's Hotel, Emmons Avenue and East 27th Street. Source: Forgotten New York

Remember last month, when The Village Voice’s Robert Sietsema compiled a round-up in which Sheepshead Bay nabbed the top three slots out of five for “Five Dead and Gone Classic Brooklyn Restaurants?”

Apparently they missed one (although, to be fair, so did we). It turns out that yesterday, in 1950 — and I’ll bet even Lisanne didn’t know this (although…now that I think of it, she probably does) — a fire gutted the venerable Sheepshead Bay landmark Tappen’s Restaurant on Emmons Avenue and East 27th Street.

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On Wednesday, we told you all about the barbecue-hatin’ Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association’s Monday meeting, in which they presented a petition from the barbecue-lovin’ Manhattan Beach Community Group. That petition, drawn up in 2007, before the two groups split and when current MBNA leaders actually ran the MBCG (confused yet?), has included on it the signatures of the current leaders of the MBCG, who say they oppose the ban. According the MBNA, that shows that the MBCG are a bunch of hypocrites.

Our question? Why is one of New York City’s tiniest neighborhoods so freakin’ confusing?

Anyway, we couldn’t include the video with yesterday’s story because of technical problems. So here it is, in all its glory. Now you can see MBNA President Alan Ditchek look directly in the camera and talk to the “bloggers” (though a quick review of what we’ve written suggests he’s probably talking to the commenters). Oh, and there’s a doctor there, too. Around minute 6:30, when it turns political, he seems about as confused as we are.

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We summarize the week’s statistics for the 61st Precinct reports every Friday. The 61st Precinct is the police command responsible for Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Kings Highway, Homecrest, Madison, Manhattan Beach, and Gerritsen Beach.

Source: Golden's office

Finally, some good news out of Albany.

With property taxes in New York among the highest in the nation (and crammed all together here in the Big Apple, it’s not like we exactly get a decent bang for our buck), most of us are struggling just to  make ends meet during the global economic downturn. State Senator Marty Golden is trying to ease the crushing financial burden on homeowners by sponsoring “common sense” legislation that would amend current property tax law.

Keep reading about the proposed legislation.

I know it’s a sunrise, but all I’m thinking is sunset. Thank goodness this week is almost over.

Photo by Stan Kaplan.

Telling Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.

We tend to view our accountants like we do doctors – we trust them without question. This is a good choice in some cases, but a bad one in others.

If you give them poor information or don’t make the necessary effort, you are going to get corresponding poor results. How many vacations are a disappointment because the trip planner didn’t check on attraction times or what the weather is usually? Just because there is a computer program or app that will help you complete your taxes, it doesn’t release you from making sure you understand the choices you make with that program. Most taxpayers, other than those filing Form 1040EZ, will probably benefit from the expertise and advice of a paid income tax preparer.

The first question is: Do you need an accountant?

The second question is: What can an accountant do for you?

The third question is: Is your accountant cutting the mustard?

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