The following announcement was sent to us from the office of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer:
The following announcement was sent to us from the office of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer:
State Senator Marty Golden, citing a rise in credit card fraud in his district and beyond, is touting legislation he co-sponsored last month that would require credit card companies to install smart chip technology in every card issued to a New York State resident.
Golden held a press conference in Bay Ridge on Friday to advocate for the legislation, saying that merchants in his district have reported a spate of credit and debit card fraud, as well as “hackers” who have stolen data from local businesses. He was joined by Third Avenue Merchants Association President Robert Howe as well as Dimitri Akhrin, president of the Bank Associates Merchant Services.
“This legislation would require smart chip technology to be incorporated in our debit and credit cards to help protect against identity theft. Over the past few weeks, my district has been targeted by hackers who have been able to break through the security walls of some local stores. The false charges reported to my office have been made in Brooklyn, Long Island, Connecticut and event [sic] Puerto Rico,” said Senator Golden in a press release.
The senator cited Bureau of Justice Statistics reports estimating that 16.6 million people have suffered from identity theft in 2012 to 2013, 15.3 million of whom had an incident involving a debit or credit card.
According to tech site NerdWallet, manufacturers and advocates say smart chips are a safer alternative to magnetic stripe cards. Smart chips store encrypted account information and cannot be read by swiping. Instead they’re scanned into a terminal that reads the chip and can require a pin number to decrypt the chip’s information. They are not susceptible to common data scamming techniques as are magnetic strips, such as swiping, which allows fraudsters doubling as waiters or cashiers to discreetly pass your card through a handheld device that stores the card’s data.
Smart chips do have their own vulnerabilities, but the website notes that implementation in Europe has seen dramatic decreases in fraud.
The bill, which can be read here, was introduced on February 14 by upstate Senator Joseph Griffo with Golden as a co-sponsor. The Assembly version was co-sponsored by Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny.
American companies have been slow to adopt the technology because of the cost of replacing existing systems, including in-store point-of-sale systems and ATMs. The legislation does not address who will foot the bill, suggesting the business-owners will have to invest in new hardware if the law passes.
Members of the community gathered to recognize the efforts of the officers of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South, 60th Precinct, 61st Precinct and 62nd Precinct and the FDNY at the Be Proud Foundation’s annual appreciation luncheon on Friday.
“We’re so happy to share with you this celebration of those who keep us safe,” said Be Proud Foundation Executive Director Raisa Chernina, who noted that it’s also the 10th anniversary of the community booster organization. “I’m so happy to do this for you,” she said to the approximately 20 local officers attending the event.
It’s the eighth year of the event, and was held at the newly opened Signature Restaurant at 2007 Emmons Avenue. Officers were treated to lunch and a live musical performance by Nutsa, a well-known Georgian performer, as well as a barrage of praise from local elected officials.
“I’m so very thankful to see all our defenders, who we’re so grateful for keeping us safe every night,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who emceed the luncheon. “We need to build upon the institution of the Community Affairs officers if we want to build a relationship between community and police.”
The event drew other elected officials, including Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch, Comptroller John Liu, Assemblyman Alan Maisel and representatives for Councilman Lew Fidler, Congressman Michael Grimm, and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.
A member of the Be Proud Foundation’s board also offered a touching thank you, describing how a family member had fallen in with a bad crowd and became addicted to drugs. With the help of officers from the 60th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit, the family member is now in rehabilitation and on the right path.
The officers in attendance said they were thankful for the show of support.
“We appreciate things like this,” said Inspector Schell, a former commander at the 60th Precinct who now works out of Brooklyn South. “It’s a sign that our work is beneficial and you like the cops. We’re here to serve you.”
A high-ranking source in the Brooklyn Republican Party is elated that Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon is throwing his hat into the ring with a surprise write-in campaign for the 48th Council District, saying that it’ll prove whether or not his support is worth paying for.
Davidzon has long held himself up as the “kingmaker” of the Russian community, a title that picked up traction in the mainstream political press after his support helped garner wins in the Russian community for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Comptroller John Liu and, most surprisingly, Congressman Bob Turner.
But the kingmaker’s power has come under doubt in the last few election cycles, having failed to earn wins for candidates he supported, including Lew Fidler in his race for State Senate against David Storobin, Ben Akselrod in his bid to unseat Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, and, most recently, Ari Kagan in his race for the 48th District Democratic primary.
The recent record has some politicos wondering if it means the power broker’s influence is ebbing.
“It’s a free poll for us,” a high-ranking source in the Republican Party leadership, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sheepshead Bites. “We can finally see how much support he’ll bring in. It’ll be a way to tell if it’s worth paying for.”
The source was referring to the consulting fees Davidzon commands in return for advertising, on-air support and Davidzon’s personal endorsement, for which candidates have been known to pay upwards of $10,000. Many have turned to the broadcaster and publisher after he gained a reputation for an almost slavish following of Russian-American seniors who vote at his whim.
That means the write-in campaign could be bad for business if Davidzon fails to garner much support in the race, as it could prove that fan-base a profitable myth.
“I’m dying to see what he can do now. If he gets two percent of the vote, it’s not worth fighting for his support anymore,” said the GOP source.
Davidzon has spent the last several days making phone calls to those in both parties seeking endorsement, having won several prominent ones already from both parties. But, our source, who was also approached, said that Davidzon disclosed that he has no hopes for winning the race, only at causing Republican contender David Storobin to lose.
“He’s acknowledged to me privately that he can’t win, but he just wants to chip away at David’s lead. There’s a bit of a rivalry right now about who really is the king of the Russians,” he said.
He added that Davidzon’s been successful at picking up the support of Republican leaders, since Storobin is on the outs with the party.
“Storobin isn’t well liked in the party right now,” the source said, noting that the party is in the midst of a civil war. [Our source is a supporter of current chairman Craig Eaton].
Still, he said he’d be withholding his support from Davidzon in favor of party loyalty.
“I can’t [support Davidzon]. There’s a Republican in the race, even if we don’t like him, we just can’t do that,” he said.
Our source isn’t the only one staying out of the fray. Republican operative Gene Berardelli, also of Craig Eaton’s Kings County Republican Party, said it’s a lose-lose to get involved.
“As a Republican, I don’t know what to make of it. On the one side, you want someone from your party to win, on the other you don’t want to offend Davidzon because he can get you votes in the future,” said Berardelli. “This is one of those situations where you just back away very slowly.”
He added that some of the support Davidzon has received, like that of Democratic Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny and Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan, endorsements that have baffled Democratic Party leadership, comes from fear of losing the mogul’s support down the line.
“He’s one of those guys where you go against him, and you offend him, he will never forget,” said Berardelli, noting the Brook-Krasny faces reelection next year.
Proclaimed “Kingmaker” of the Russian-American community Gregory Davidzon has announced a write-in campaign for the 48th District of the City Council, a seat currently occupied by term-limited Michael Nelson, and for which three prominent candidates are already vying.
Davidzon announced his campaign during an hour-long segment on his radio station, Davidzon Radio, yesterday, touting his experience as a “successful businessman and community leader.” He hopes to beat out two other Russian-American candidates, Republican David Storobin and Working Families’ Igor Oberman, and Democrat Chaim Deutsch, an Orthodox Jew.
Support for the candidates in the race has largely been split along ethnic lines.
“I realize that this is an unusual undertaking, however, I was encouraged by many members of the community − ordinary residents and political leaders − to run. While I do have the backing of elected officials from both political parties, I made it clear to them that I always have been and will remain independent; focused fully on what is best for the community and the people,” Davidzon said in a press release.
Davidzon is not a member of any political party, and is not registered to vote.
The owner of a Russian-language radio station and newspaper, Davidzon said the issues he hopes to promote include public safety and quality education, saying he supports “school choice.” In his press release, he spoke out against taxes, as well as fines, fees and other charges the city has been using to drum up revenues.
The write-in candidate is no lark: he’s already garnered the support of District Leader Ari Kagan, who lost the Democratic bid in the race to Deutsch. Kagan is also an employee of Davidzon’s. Other surprise endorsements include that of Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny, and various Democratic and Republic district leaders from around the area.
His Democratic Party-backed opponent, Deutsch, shied away from commenting on the development.
“We’re not interested in talking about our opponents,” a spokesperson for Deutch told YWN. “What we’re interested in is talking to the residents of southern Brooklyn and listening to their concerns about the critical quality of life issues the district faces and how to best address them.”
Storobin, meanwhile, was more forthright, predicting that Davidzon is unlikely to garner more than 100 votes in the race.
“I will make a bet with anyone that he will not break 100 votes,” Storobin told Politicker. “Davidzon has almost the highest negatives of any person in the Russian community, by far the highest negatives.”
Of course, there’s little love lost between Davidzon and Storobin. Davidzon backed Storobin’s opponent, Lew Fidler, in his State Senate race last year, and spilled much Russian-language vitriol on-air about the Republican candidate, spurring an FCC complaint from the candidate.
That’s why some observers believe it’s an attempt to undermine Storobin by dividing the Russian-American community, the largest voting bloc in the district, even further.
“This proves there’s still major bad blood between Storobin and Gregory,” a Brooklyn Democratic source told Politicker. “It’s nothing more than Gregory doing what he can to prevent Storobin from winning.”
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz announced today that he will withdraw legislation he introduced in the Assembly earlier this month that would transfer oversight of a swath of sand at Brighton Beach and Coney Island from the state to New York City.
Cymbrowitz did not credit the decision to opposition from environmentalists who worried the Parks Department, less constrained by the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s more stringent oversight, would botch the job, as first reported on Sheepshead Bites. Instead, the Sheepshead Bay-Brighton Beach legislator said he did it because he himself had mounting concerns over Parks Department decision-making in light of the controversial new boardwalk comfort stations.
“I believe that giving the city any additional authority of the area near the boardwalk is a mistake. The state Department of Environmental Conservation should continue to have oversight and this legislation will not move forward this session,” Cymbrowitz said in a strongly worded letter to the mayor, according to a press release.
The bill, which can be read here, would have transferred oversight of 250 feet of sand immediately south of the 2.5-mile Riegelmann Boardwalk. It was sponsored in the Assembly by Cymbrowitz and co-sponsored by Alec Brook-Krasny. Diane Savino introduced it in the Senate.
When asked about the legislation earlier this week, Cymbrowitz told Sheepshead Bites that plans to create an already funded bicycle path adjacent to the boardwalk had been stalled for nearly eight years. Cymbrowitz said that the DEC had denied the Parks Department’s application, as well as other attempts to build community resources on the beach, and that he had hoped to free Parks from DEC’s yoke.
That upset activists who said that the DEC had more stringent standards for a reason: they serve as a watchdog over would-be projects that can contribute to beach erosion and other environmental risks.
The Parks Department told Sheepshead Bites that they did not request the bill, nor had any input into it.
Cymbrowitz has now changed his tune, saying that the plan is nixed because he has lost faith in the Parks Department’s ability to meet residents’ needs, citing the new boardwalk comfort stations as the turning point. Residents from the Oceana Condominium complex have protested the new bathrooms and comfort stations adjacent to their facility, claiming that they obstruct views and attract vagrants. Cymbrowitz sided with the residents, even sending a letter to the Parks Department.
His concerns have escalated alongside the mounting missteps of the comfort stations’ installations, according to his press release:
His appeal fell on deaf ears and, despite several well-publicized protests by Oceana residents, the original plan prevailed. During installation, the piles hit solid granite and seawater and the borings couldn’t go through, delaying the process. The Parks Department then devised an alternative construction plan that involved pouring concrete in the sand. Environmentalists and FEMA have already deemed this method unsafe, according to Assemblyman Cymbrowitz.
The legislation, however, was introduced on May 3 – at least a month or more after Cymbrowitz sent his critical letter to the Parks Department opposing the comfort stations.
Sheepshead Bites could not reach Cymbrowitz for comment on this article. We will update this post if we hear back from him.
UPDATE (4:28 p.m.): Brighton Beach resident Ida Sanoff, executive director of the Natural Resources Protective Association, which vocally opposed the legislation, is celebrating the withdrawal as a victory for the community.
“It just goes to show there’s no limit to what you can do when you shine a light on the darkness. And just the fact – politics is all about looking good – and just on the basis that this was being done so quietly raised a lot of red flags,” said Sanoff. “This would have had far reaching impacts on all the people who live and work along the shoreline. This would have put hundreds of thousands of people who would have been put at risk. This is a victory.”
She added: “Sometimes these things are resurrected in a slightly different form. I can assure you that we’re going to be very, very vigilant. We’ll keep a close eye on any piece of legislation that’s proposed that has anything to do with the shoreline … There are no secrets along the shore. If it doesn’t come out in the wash, it’ll come out in the rinse.”
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Legislation sponsored by local officials seeks to transfer jurisdiction over the sands of Brighton Beach and Coney Island from the state to the city, allowing them to move forward with a long delayed bicycle path. But local activists are calling foul play, saying that it undercuts stringent regulations that are in place for a reason.
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz has introduced legislation to the State Assembly that would transfer 250 feet of property south of the 2.5-mile-long Riegelmann Boardwalk along Brighton Beach and Coney Island to the New York City Parks Department. Even though the Parks Department maintains the land, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has final say about work to be done there – and according to Cymbrowitz, the agency has repeatedly blocked a planned bike path that would run the length of the property.
“[Funding was allocated for a bike path] almost 8 years ago. It was done by [Assemblyman] Alec Brook-Krasny’s predecessor Adele Cohen. Alec and I have continued to ensure that it’s in the budget, and every time we attempt to work with Parks Department, DEC says no,” Cymbrowitz told Sheepshead Bites. “As part of the money that Alec and I gave for the redoing of the boardwalk several years ago, the plan was also to put additional play areas on the sand to make it more enjoyable for families and individuals. Again, DEC said no. So that’s where the legislation came from, because DEC is the agency of no.”
Cymbrowitz’s proposed legislation would wrest control from the state agency, and give the Parks Department total control of the area south of the boardwalk. It’s co-sponsored by Brook-Krasny and sponsored in the State Senate by Diane Savino.
Brighton Beach resident Ida Sanoff, executive director of the Natural Resources Protective Association, said the pols have their story all wrong, and says this is just an end-run around important regulations that keep neighbors safe.
For starters, the DEC has never rejected the request for a bike path. In fact, that request was never made, she said.
“Within the last six months I followed up with DEC. And according to DEC, the Parks Department never completed the application. And if I know this, why don’t they? There’s something very, very wrong here and no one can give me a straight answer as to what’s going on,” Sanoff said.
A DEC spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites they could not comment on pending legislation. Asked in an e-mail follow-up about the application for a bike path, the agency has not yet responded. Similarly, the Parks Department has not responded to a request for comment.
Brook-Krasny, however, said that he only recently learned that Parks may not have completed the application, and is considering withdrawing his support for the legislation, although he will still push for the bike path, he told Sheepshead Bites.
“One day we’ll have a bike path. But again, there’s a question about why that application was denied. We’ll have to look into it,” said Brook-Krasny.
The Coney Island legislator said that Sandy was also giving him second thoughts about transferring jurisdiction. When Sheepshead Bites noted that he signed onto this legislation more than six months after Sandy, Brook-Krasny reiterated his need to look over the proposal.
“With everything that’s happening after Sandy, I’m just rethinking what was done even after Sandy,” Brook-Krasny said after we pointed out the time gap. “Look, I’ve got to look into it and really think about it, and think together with Steve Cymbrowitz. The idea to have a bike path is a great idea, and I understand the application by the Parks Department was never completed. I just need to spend some more time on it. ”
According to Sanoff, the DEC’s more stringent regulations require any work on the beaches to include proper studies into erosion. She said that fixed structures – particularly hard ones made of concrete – increase the potential for erosion, and with it, the damage caused by flooding.
“There is a reason why there are coastal engineering studies and a coastal hazard area,” Sanoff said, suggesting that Parks would not be required to do those studies. “The way water hits concrete, the wave energy is concentrated. When it hits something soft like wood or sand, it’s weakened. If you look where the bathrooms were hit, you can actually see where the water has eroded the land under the building. Anytime you put any kind of structure on the beach, you have to be careful that it doesn’t cause erosion. That’s why you don’t have structures on the beach.”
She added that the bike path itself is a bad idea, since it’s one long stretch of hard material that will cause water to eat away at the beach – and crash into homes and businesses in the next flood.
“The main concern is putting three miles of concrete down without any engineering studies, without any oversight, and also building quote-unquote recreational facilities, which will most likely be buildings,” Sanoff said, referring to plans by legislators to add recreational facilities as part of the boardwalk renovations – which, according to Cymbrowitz, the DEC has also opposed. “This is going to be a disaster. It’s going to make Sandy look like an overflowing bathtub.”
The text of the Assembly bill can be read here.
Senator Savino’s office did not return a call requesting a comment.
Correction (10:30 a.m.): The original version of this article referred to Sanoff as the chair of the Natural Resources Protective Association. She is actually the executive director. We have amended the post to reflect this, and regret any confusion it may have caused.
Yes, it’s last minute, but we’re passing it along anyway…
State Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Kevin A. Cahill will be holding a roundtable today at 2:00 p.m. at the Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton – Manhattan Beach (3300 Coney Island Avenue) to discuss the claims settlement practices of insurers related to Superstorm Sandy. He will be joined by Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz, Helene Weinstein and Alec Brook-Krasny.
Cahill has been making the rounds to Sandy-afflicted areas to discuss the topic, and it may result in proposed legislative changes in the case of future disasters.
“The damage caused by Sandy left hundreds of thousands of homes and commercial properties without power and caused an extraordinary amount of property damage,” said Cahill. “This roundtable will help us determine if insurance companies adequately responded to claims from families and businesses that rely on their insurance policies to recover from such a disaster.”
The committee will also hear testimony from representatives of the Department of Financial Services, insurance agents and brokers, consumers, adjusters and major insurance companies.
And they’re off!
The race for the 48th District of the City Council, currently occupied by term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson, officially kicked off yesterday as 45th Assembly District Leader Ari Kagan became the first candidate to officially throw his hat in the ring.
But it wasn’t without drama. The event was delayed as a protester heckled the candidate for approximately 10 minutes at the start of the event, calling him a “foot soldier for the KGB.”
Following President Barack Obama’s lead, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny is leading the State Assembly’s initiative to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 per hour, according to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Last year, the Assembly passed a bill that raised the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour, but are now planning to amend the bill to match the raising rate of inflation and Obama’s national missive. Brook-Krasny stressed the importance of New York State taking the lead in this matter.
“While the national attention to this vitally important issue is encouraging, it’s essential that we don’t wait for Washington to take action. With overwhelming public support to increase the minimum wage here in New York State, we have to act now,” he told the Daily Eagle.
If the legislation is passed, the minimum wage will be raised to $9 per hour starting in January 2014. Food service workers who rely on tips will see their base pay increased to $6.21 per hour. The legislation will also index the minimum wage starting in 2015, so that every year, it’s adjusted to reflect the rate of inflation according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
While the bill is expected to pass in the Assembly, its future in the Senate will be tested by Republicans who argue that an increase in the minimum wage will limit job growth and weaken the economy. Brook-Krasny doesn’t agree.
“By increasing the minimum wage, working families will see a rise in their purchasing power and are likely to spend the money from their hard-earned paychecks at local businesses, helping strengthen our economy,” he said.