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?

Continue Reading »

Courtesy of Koonisutra via Flickr

Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison took to the Daily News yesterday, with an editorial bashing the big P.R. push to bring Walmart to New York City.

What does Walmart have to do with improving the Bay, you ask? Well, Barrison is also the executive vice president of the Small Business Congress of New York City, a federation of more than 75 small-business associations advocating for the rights of small enterprises across the five boroughs. And they have no love for the “Wal-monster.”

It’s also not Barrison’s first editorial against the nation’s largest retailer. He previously slammed environmentalists and the city’s transportation experts on Sheepshead Bites for not lending voice to the fight, saying that a Walmart would bring additional traffic, congestion and pollution to the area around the Gateway Shopping Center in East New York, where observers agree a Walmart is most likely to land.

In his latest editorial, Barrison touts a slew of studies revealing how Walmart can devastate local economies in big cities, and also stands up for New York City’s small businesses – the best incubator for economic advancement of women and minorities.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chicago‘s struggling West Side learned the hard way that Walmart’s stores destroy more retail jobs than they create.

In 2006, the big-box retailer promised to bring jobs to the cash-strapped community. But according to a landmark study by Loyola University, the company’s rhetoric didn’t match reality: Within two years of Walmart’s opening its doors, 82 local stores went out of business.

Instead of growing Chicago’s retail economy, Walmart simply overtook it – absorbing sales from other city stores, and shuttering dozens of them in the process.

Researchers at Loyola dubbed Walmart’s store a wash – generating no new sales revenue for Chicago, and no new jobs for hard-off residents.

… With due respect to Walmart, this is not the kind of economic development neighborhood small businesses need.

Everywhere you look in New York, mom-and-pop shops help anchor our busiest and most vibrant business districts.

Fordham Road in the Bronx, Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn, Jamaica Blvd. in Queens, 125th St. in Manhattan, and Forest Ave. on Staten Island are thriving proof that our city’s small businesses are the engine that powers New York City’s economy.

For minorities and women business owners in particular, New York City is an incubator for the American Dream. A third of all businesses here are owned by women, and nearly 18% are owned by African-Americans and Hispanics – both above the national averages.

But that could easily change.

… Home-grown entrepreneurs and small mom-and-pops have proven their commitment to our neighborhoods time and time again. Instead of falling for the big-box swindle and supporting their out of town competition, let’s stand by our neighborhood stores, and create more good jobs.

The only studies that support Big Wally are funded by or through Walmart; kind of like the tobacco companies’ support for cigarettes. New Yorkers deserves better. Our communities and neighborhoods deserve better.

You can read the full editorial here.