Archive for the tag 'brooklyn tea party'

Joseph Hayon (l) and Assemblywoman Weinstein (r)

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein will face a Republican opponent as she seeks reelection in the 41st District.

Weinstein, who has served in the Assembly for more then 30 years, is being challenged by Brooklyn Tea Party Chairman Joseph Hayon. Hayon previously faced off against Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz in 2010, when he garnered 43 percent of the vote by spending little more than $600.

In that campaign, however, Hayon primarily appealed to religious Jewish voters by mis-characterizing a bill Cymbrowitz voted for as forcing religious schools to “teach Kindergarten children to ‘tolerate’ or sanctify same-gender relationships.” Hayon also made headlines in 2010 when, as a student at Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard), the school banned him from handing out pro-life literature on campus, a decision the school eventually overturned.

Unfortunately for Hayon, Weinstein’s district – which spans the eastern part of Sheepshead Bay, Flatlands, East Flatbush, Midwood and Canarsie – is far more Democratic than Cymbrowitz’s, and has a less dense population of religious Jewry for him to rely on. Still, he intends to position himself as the social conservative in the race, and will attempt to make Weinstein’s vote for same-sex marriage the central issue in the campaign.

Politicker reports:

Mr. Hayon is known in Brooklyn political circles as a particularly passionate opponent of the gay marriage legislation signed last year, and he hinted that Mr. Cymbrowitz’s vote against the bill — and Ms. Weinstein’s support of it — factored into his decision-making, in addition to redistricting changing the shape of the map.

“Weinstein’s vote to redefine marriage will play a major role in this campaign,” he explained in an email. “Voters do not forget easily, and they are still angry at the marriage vote.”

It’s curious to see that Hayon chose Weinstein’s seat as his objective after performing so well in Cymbrowitz’s district in 2010. That’s potentially because Cymbrowitz’s primary election challenger, Ben Akselrod, adopted many (if not all) of Hayon’s stances – including the mischaracterization of the bill mentioned above, opposition to gay marriage, and opposition to the Voorhies Avenue mosque – as we noted after his Akselerod’s campaign announcement.

It could also be that State Senator-elect David Storobin may also look to Cymbrowtiz’s seat as many have rumored. Storobin appears to have won the race against Fidler (though the Board of Elections still needs to certify the results), but the district will vanish come January. Storobin shares many of the same views as Hayon, and Hayon worked on his campaign, so it’s unlikely either would benefit from competing against each other in a Republican primary in a (statistically) Democratic district.

However, when Sheepshead Bites spoke to Storobin last week, he said he still had not thought at all about what he would do after his district disappears and that the rumors are nothing more than just that.

The Department of Buildings has lifted the controversial hold they placed on the proposed 2812 Voorhies Avenue mosque today, providing the ultimate green-light for construction to begin immediately.

Backers of the Sheepshead Bay Islamic Community Center met with DOB officials today to clarify on certain points of their plan. Their final paperwork passed DOB muster, and the project has now been approved by the commissioner. The mosque’s proponents now need only to obtain work permits in order to break ground, which a DOB spokesperson said can be issued the same day the paperwork is submitted.

The city put the plans on hold last week to review whether a Place of Assembly permit was required. According to DOB spokesperson Carly Sullivan, it is a common auditing process which they imposed on over 1,000 proposals in Brooklyn alone in 2009.

However, the Brooklyn Paper/Courier-Life chain set off an ongoing storm of controversy over the DOB decision by depicting the city as caving in to pressure. At the time the story broke on their website, it read, “The delay smacks of a back-room deal, especially since neighborhood political leaders are supporting the city’s stunning turnaround.”

The editors have since changed the audacious and unsubstantiated statement to “The delay felt to Ahmed and others like a back-room deal, especially since neighborhood political leaders are supporting the city’s stunning turnaround.” (The original version can still be found on The Yeshiva World News website, which excerpted the article.)

Regardless of how some media reported the delay, it appears the mosque now has the blessings of the Department of Buildings and will move forward soon.

A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings has told Sheepshead Bites that additional reviews of buildings are “not uncommon,” and that the issues that spurred the latest review of the proposed mosque’s plans are “easily rectified.”

The main issue behind the third review of 2812 Voorhies Avenue, just days after it was approved twice by plan examiners, is that the DOB is asking the mosque’s organizers to clarify the occupancy of the first floor to determine if a Place of Assembly permit is required.

The spokesperson confirmed that a meeting between the organizers and the department commissioner is scheduled for this week, and that the speed with which final approval can be made depends on the applicant. It could be days, but it’s possible some changes to the plans may be required, delaying the project even more.

Permits can be issued as soon as the plans are finalized and approved by the DOB.

UPDATE [2:49 p.m.]: The Department of Buildings just informed Sheepshead Bites that they met with the building’s architect this morning to discuss the issue. They will meet again on Friday to allow the group to submit new plans, which can be approved immediately if it meets the DOB’s concerns. The spokesman added that in 2009, more than 1,000 applications in Brooklyn alone were subject to similar audits.

After a year-long Department of Buildings review of the proposed Voorhies Avenue mosque finally passed examiner’s muster last week, the city stunned the center’s proponents by placing a hold on the project.

The agency’s records show that the plan for 2812 Voorhies Avenue was approved on Wednesday, then reviewed and approved a second time on Thursday. After approval from the plan examiner, the filing is now branded with a “Job on hold” message, just as the mosque’s organizers were seeking contractors to begin work.

“Why? I have no idea why,” said Ibrahim Anse, the center’s architect. “It’s a unique situation that puts the DOB in a question mark.”

Keep reading to find out what mosque organizers must do next, and what local leaders are saying about the DOB’s sudden turnaround.

Building plans for a Muslim American Society-run mosque on Voorhies Avenue have been approved by city officials, clearing the way for construction to begin immediately.

The approved plans detail a 35-foot-tall three-story building with a cellar, fitting 121 people inside two worship rooms, a library and classrooms. The brick building at 2812 Voorhies Avenue will not include a roof extension as originally requested, presumably for a minaret, after the Department of Building nixed those plans a year ago. There will be no parking on the property.

With bureaucratic holdups out of the way, mosque organizers are looking to get to work right away.

“We’re looking for a contractor, and there’s still some business to take care of,” said Ibrahim Anse, the project’s architect. “Once we find a contractor … it’s going to be a couple of weeks. Maybe by the end of the month [we'll begin construction].”

But opponents are still vowing to keep fighting to throw the brakes on the project.

“We’re going to keep fighting it,” Alex Tenenbaum, spokesman for Bay People, told the Daily News. “We will keep opposing the project for the same reasons we opposed it from the very beginning.”

Those issues are concerns about traffic, noise and parking disrupting life on the otherwise quiet – and narrow – Voorhies Avenue. To handle those concerns, mosque planners have promised not to broadcast calls to prayer externally, and that the small facility is being created to serve local families who will walk there.

Opponents have also expressed outrage at the backing organization – Muslim American Society – who they say support radical Islamic groups abroad, including Hamas and Hizbollah. The FBI has stated there is “no indication whatsoever the Muslim American Society is affiliated with any organization that threatens our national security.”

Regardless, Anse said he’s not too concerned about a challenge holding up the process, though he did say the organizers remain open-minded to their neighbors’ concerns.

“If they have anything to talk about, we extended our hands, we’ve been extending our hands even though we have approval,” he said.

*This article originally indicated the building would fit 141 people. That was a mistake – the correct number is 121. Apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

by Joe Maniscalco

Neighbors rallying against a controversial new mosque planned for Sheepshead Bay clashed with counter-demonstrators outside the proposed site on Voorhies Avenue on Sunday, once again turning the sleepy block located between East 28th Street and East 29th Street into an ideological battleground of ill wills where hate-tinged epitaphs and ugly slurs flew for roughly two hours as cops worked hard to keep the two groups apart.

In a notable departure from Bay People’s previous rally, both sides were bolstered by political and advocacy-based organizations from outside Sheepshead Bay’s borders. Those gathered under the Brooklyn Tea Party banner on one side of the block hammered away at the Muslim American Society (MAS) – sponsors of the proposed mosque – for its alleged ties to known terrorist networks abroad, while members of a group called the New York City Coalition to Stop Islamophobia camped across the street denouncing the accusations as nothing more than racist rants.

Keep reading our coverage of Bay People’s Sheepshead Bay mosque protest, and view a gallery of photos from the event.

Site of the proposed Sheepshead Bay mosque

After Brooklyn Tea Party activists failed to get a response from Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz regarding the Sheepshead Bay mosque – primarily because it’s not in his district – the group fired off another open letter. This time their target is Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, who represents the blocks around the proposed mosque site.

Much of the letter’s contents remain the same, though its tone is notably more aggressive. The author, Brooklyn Tea Party President John K. Press, points out the assemblywoman’s absence at the June 12 rally, and tries to head off a presumed response to “deny jurisdiction.”

There are a few new tactics recommended in this latest letter, too. The Tea Party is urging Assemblywoman Weinstein to publicize the “need to know about the foreign funding” so they can assure compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals to disclose the relationship. They’re also asking the local pol to put pressure on Community Board 15 (which has no say unless there is a request for variance or special permit), and to seek government relief by pursuing eminent domain on the property.

View the Brooklyn Tea Party’s open letter to Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein

Site of the proposed Sheepshead Bay mosque

Brooklyn Tea Party activists issued an open letter to Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, calling on the Sheepshead Bay politician to create obstacles for the proposed 2812 Voorhies Avenue mosque.

John K. Press, president of the Brooklyn Tea Party, writes:

The Board and Standards and Appeals Chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, has promised to render, “decisions that respect the character and context of neighborhoods.” A large proportion of the residents on Voorhies are Jewish.  Having an organization that preaches hate against Jews move into the neighborhood would greatly disrupt the neighborhood character and quality of life for the current residents.

I implore you to step into this process in any way you can to slow down the permit granting process.  This will allow you time to vet the buyer.  And, if the concerns about the MAS prove baseless, we recognize that they should be welcomed as good neighbors.

The letter depicted Cymbrowitz’s recent opposition to a proposed 9-story garage and office building near the Sheepshead Bay Road subway station as setting a precedent for his involvement in developments that challenge the community’s character.

But the focus of the letter’s opposition to the Sheepshead Bay mosque revolves around its connection to the Muslim American Society, not development issues, and includes links to the about anti-semitic themes in MAS.

A staffer from Cymbrowitz’s office said they are mulling over an official response, but nothing has been decided yet. Cymbrowitz’s district ends at Voorhies Avenue and East 23rd Street; the proposed mosque will be in Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein’s district.

“[The Assemblyman is] dedicated to his community, as opposed to what’s happening other places, in terms of focusing his efforts,” the staffer told Sheepshead Bites.

View the full open letter from the BK Tea Party to Cymbrowitz.