Archive for the tag 'chaim deutsch'

deutsch-cleanup

By now, we all know the area has a garbage problem. But it’s time to stop griping and start pitching in to make the community better.

Here’s your chance: Councilman Chaim Deutsch is organizing the first street clean-up Sheepshead Bay has seen at least since Sheepshead Bites launched more than six years ago.

The local pol is providing everything you need to lend a hand: shovels, brooms, rakes and bags. All you need to do is show up in some grubby clothes and put in the work.

The clean up kicks off at 10:00 a.m. and lasts until 4:00 p.m. Volunteers will meet at Sheepshead Bay Road and Voorhies Avenue, and the group will go up and down Sheepshead Bay Road and to Emmons Avenue bagging trash and litter for the Department of Sanitation to pick up.

See the flier above for details.

From the office of City Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

concerts

Well, this is certainly something new. Councilman Chaim Deutsch and the Bay Improvement Group are teaming up to bring live music to Emmons Avenue’s Driscoll Tucker Park, beginning this Sunday.

As you can see from the flier above, there will be three dates, with three hours of live music each day, beginning at 3:00 p.m.

Tucker Park is on Emmons Avenue at East 27th Street, right next to Stella Maris Bait and Tackle shop. No word on what type of music will be playing, but the flier says bring dancing shoes. Though I do not own those particular kind of shoes, I’ll stop by anyway.

The head of the New York City Office of Recovery and Resiliency is getting behind the Bloomberg-era plan to replace the Riegelmann Boardwalk’s wooden slats with concrete, saying that concrete fared better in Superstorm Sandy.

Recovery chief Daniel Zarrilli testified before the City Council last Thursday, telling them that the choice of concrete was a “sound” decision since it performs better in storms.

He added that the de Blasio administration will continue to replace the wooden boards with concrete going forward.

Bloomberg made the decision to replace the boardwalk with concrete after instituting a citywide ban on tropical hardwood in public projects, the material the boardwalk, as well as other fixtures like benches, have historically been made of. It has been fought for several years by locals who want to see the iconic wood stay, and they even filed suit against the city in 2012. Several compromises were sought, including using alternate wood materials, plastic and a combination of all three – although the city made clear its preference for concrete.

But the announcement that the new administration will stick with the plan because it performed well in Sandy is sure to be challenged by critics. In the wake of the storm, locals said that the concrete allowed sand to pile up on the boardwalk, and also served as a less effective buffer protecting the community from the flooding. They also say the concrete accelerates erosion and is less effective at drainage during storms.

The two councilmembers whose districts overlap the boardwalk, Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger, both support using wood.

parkingAfter the Department of Transportation erroneously posted a sign on a residential stretch of Nostrand Avenue indicating two-hour metered parking, several nearby residents received wrongful summonses. Now Councilman Chaim Deutsch is leading the fight to get those tickets thrown out.

Deutsch announced the agency’s error at last night’s Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association meeting. He told Sheepshead Bites that a constituent alerted him to the signage late last week, saying that he received a summons. The sign was between Avenue P and Quentin Road, in front of 3032 Nostrand Avenue, an apartment complex. Deutsch’s office contacted the Department of Transportation, which admitted the error and ripped down the sign within 24 hours, he said.

Still, several residents of the apartment building have reported receiving similar summonses, said Deutsch.

“There’s more than one. We’re going to be hanging up some fliers in front of the buildings,” said Deutsch. “But it’s not just [residents], it could be people who came in and went shopping in the area, but there’s several people from the building that I know of that have received summonses

The agency is sending his office a letter for constituents to use to appeal the tickets, and staffers will be sending out e-mail blasts saying that the violations can be fought and, if already paid, potentially reimbursed.

Anyone who received a parking violation can get a copy of the letter and help filing an appeal by calling Deutsch’s district office at (718) 368-9176.

An attendee requested support programs for special needs families. But that's not what the meeting was for.

An attendee requested support programs for special needs families. But that’s not what the meeting was for.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch has touted his “participatory governing” approach as an alternative to participatory budgeting, but his first attempt – a governing workshop held last week - provided the best argument yet for why we need an open, community-drive budgeting process.

The Thursday, May 27 meeting, held at Cunningham Junior High School, was billed as an opportunity for residents to propose legislation. The ideas were proposed before a diverse panel of locals from across the district.

It was a well-intended endeavor, but the approximately 35 people in attendance seemed to miss the point. They approached it as they would any town hall, using the opportunity to gripe about quality of life issues and suggest improvements they would like to see in the district. No one, including this reporter, seemed to have any idea what the panel was there for; they never spoke following their introductions.

When the first few attendees took the microphone and began discussing their concerns, the councilman attempted to steer the meeting back to its intended purpose, cutting them off by asking if they had legislation to propose. They did not.

Instead, almost every single attendee who spoke proposed ideas for programming or district improvements. Here’s a sampling of the ideas that were proposed:

  • Rehabilitation of Ocean Parkway’s west mall
  • Uprooting tree stumps and replanting trees
  • A local government liaison or social worker for families of special needs persons
  • Traffic reconfiguration on Avenue P
  • Increased funding to increase the hours of lifeguard duties on the beaches
  • Various beautification projects.

Many of these are the kind of proposals you might see emerge from a participatory budgeting workshop.

So what is participatory budgeting?

The process gives residents as young as 14 years old the chance to propose ideas including upgrading parks, schools and libraries, or programming and services that will benefit the community. Neighbors attend local workshops to brainstorm and suggest their ideas, and volunteers work with the councilmember and city agencies to determine feasibility of the proposals. Once a final list has been created, residents 16 years old and up have several days to stop by the elected officials’ offices or other designated locations to fill out a ballot and cast their vote for funding.

In short: everyone who shows up gets to decide what happens to $1 million of discretionary funding within the district. Aside from democratizing the process, advocates say it gives politicians one less piggybank from which to buy political support.

Earlier this week, Councilman Mark Treyger announced he is becoming the eleventh councilman of the 51-member Council to implement participatory budgeting. That means that every single district abutting Deutsch’s is now involved in participatory budgeting (Alan Maisel of the 46th District is the exception).

This was my takeaway from the meeting: the residents have ideas on how to spend money, and it appears there is demand to give them voice in determining how it’s spent.

I spoke to Deutsch by phone after the meeting to see if he saw what I saw. He didn’t. He maintained that he knows best how to spend the money by speaking to his constituents.

He insists his participatory governing  concept is an effective alternative, but conceded that it will take time for residents to adjust to the concept.

“They were a little confused about participatory governing, they’re not used to the idea that an elected official is asking them for input,” he said. But he believes that there’s already sufficient participation in budget allocations. “My way of participatory budgeting is what I have done by having town hall meetings and asking my constituents what they want, and how they want their parks, for example, to be improved. So the way they’re doing it is to have these things be improved. It’s more than a million dollars, really.”

Sure, but what about the vote? What about giving people a direct, inarguable say in how money is spent?

“I’m accomplishing it by walking out into the community, going out there, visiting the sites and seeing how the needs are. So at the end of the day, I am putting in capital money to what the needs are to the people. So I want to do more of a hands on approach, and doing the tours, and I’m considering that to be part of my capital budget.”

Sure, but what about the vote?

“I feel like I’m part of participatory budgeting by doing what I’m doing.”

Sure, but what about the vote?

The vote is the defining element of participatory budgeting, and it’s what empowers the community to determine how this money is spent. You can (and must) still fight to allocate money in the capital budget while engaging in participatory budgeting, and to suggest otherwise is entirely misleading.

It is also in stark contrast to his own statements made while campaigning for the seat. At an August 2013 candidate’s forum sponsored by the Jewish Press, Deutsch promised more transparency in the discretionary funding process:

“I would get more input from the communities. I would have these organizations come out and present how they will spend the money and what kind of services they will be doing for the community,” he said.

That doesn’t seem to be happening this year. And if he’s truly committed to transparency in discretionary funds, there’s no better solution than leaving it entirely to the community in an open and democratic process.

None of this is to say that Deutsch’s participatory governing concept is bad or ineffective. In fact, I look forward to more of these meetings, and more town halls, and more of any opportunity in which residents can interact with their elected officials and share concerns.

And I have to give kudos to Deutsch: there were a lot of faces at that meeting that I’ve never seen at other meetings, and anything that can spur more involvement from the previously apathetic is commendable. I encourage everyone to attend in the future.

But if Deutsch’s goal was to hear legislative ideas from residents last Thursday, then he failed. Instead, he showed exactly why we need participatory budgeting, and it’s about time his constituents demand it.

You can learn more about participatory budgeting here. You can tell Councilman Deutsch you want participatory budgeting in the district by e-mailing cdeutsch@council.nyc.gov, calling (718) 368-9176, or visiting his district office at 2401 Avenue U.

polly

Deutsch with Trottenberg, Palmieri and other DOT representatives on Coney Island Avenue.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg stood at the base of the Coney Island Avenue overpass at Guider Avenue last Tuesday, as cars whizzed around her, made illegal turns, crossed into oncoming traffic and failed to get out of the way of emergency response vehicles. She stood there for approximately 20 minutes, visibly perplexed at the apparent lawlessness of one of Southern Brooklyn’s most convoluted intersections.

Trottenberg was there at the request of Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, alongside Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri and a handful of aides for each. She had already toured other problem spots in Manhattan Beach and said the agency would consider changes requested by the community, but the scene at this intersection – where Coney Island Avenue meets Guider Avenue, Banner Avenue, a service road and a Belt Parkway entrance ramp – prompted a more firm commitment.

“This one certainly,” said Trottenberg. “We have to do some major work here. It’s terrible.”

Within days, the commissioner had ordered a traffic study of the intersection, and Deutsch’s office confirmed that traffic engineers will visit the site to assess new traffic safety measures, including turn signals and medians.

Until more permanent changes are implemented, Deutsch worked with the agency and the NYPD’s Transportation Bureau and he 60th Precinct to bring traffic agents to the intersection. The agents deployed for the first time today, and will be there during peak hours, Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites this morning.

Traffic agents were at the intersection today. (Source: Deutsch's office)

Traffic agents were at the intersection today. (Source: Deutsch’s office)

The councilman and the DOT hope the measures will go a long way to reducing traffic accidents at the location. Since 2014 began, there have been 11 collisions so far, including two pedestrians struck by vehicles and three occupant injuries, according to data obtained from the DOT by Deutsch’s office.

It’s not the first time local officials have raised issue with the intersection, or the DOT’s first stab at fixing it.

Community Board 15 has been a long-time advocate for improvements to the area, and was baffled in 2009 when the agency proposed a plan to reconfigure it that illustrated an utter lack of familiarity with the area.

A year later, then-Congressman Anthony Weiner also took the agency to task for the same plan. Both requested left-turn signals to restore order, but received a cold response from the former commissioner.

In the end of May 2012, the agency surprised locals by installing “No left turn” signs on southbound Coney Island Avenue. We stood there days later, and filmed car after car dangerously ignoring it in the span of just one minute.

As for the other sites that Trottenberg toured during her visit last week, the agency is studying some of the proposals, including turning Oriental Boulevard’s flashing yellow light at Ocean Avenue into a full-fledged traffic signal. Deutsch said he will work with the Parks Department to determine the feasibility of moving the Oriental Boulevard bike lane to the sidewalk on Shore Boulevard. A traffic study is also being ordered for Coney Island Avenue and Avenue O.

“I think it’s great that they came down here,” said Deutsch. “We had all three commissioners here to collaborate, and this is just the beginning.”

City Council Member Chaim Deutsch. Photo by Erica Sherman

City Council Member Chaim Deutsch. Photo by Erica Sherman

Constituents living in the 48th Council District will have the opportunity to propose legislation in order to improve their quality of life as their City Council Member Chaim Deutsch hosts a Participatory Governing meeting at Arthur W. Cunningham Junior High School this Thursday, May 29 at 6:30 p.m.

Deutsch — whose district comprises Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, Trump Village, Luna Park, Brightwater Towers and parts of Midwood — will preside over a panel of community leaders, each representing one of the many diverse neighborhoods within his district. The panel will field proposals provided by the community directly to Council Member Deutsch, who will weigh the costs, benefits and overall feasibility of each suggestion, before moving forward with his legislative agenda.

According to a press release from Deutsch’s office, Participatory Governing is “the latest in a series of town hall meetings, which Council Member Deutsch has hosted and will continue to host throughout his district.” Community members at prior meetings have proposed suggestions for capital improvements and necessary repairs to local parks. Deutsch is also working with Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffry to evaluate the costs of the various proposals advocated at the meetings, with the objective of funding suitable parks improvements over the coming years.

Cunningham Junior High School is located at 1875 East 17th Street between Avenue R and Avenue S in Homecrest.

build-it-back

Bill Iannotti, Councilman Chaim Deutsch, and Housing Recovery Office Director Amy Peterson outside the Iannotti home. (Source: Deutsch’s office)

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

New York City Council Member Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn) was recently joined by Build it Back Director Amy Peterson touring several properties that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. During the visits, Council Member Deutsch and Director Peterson met with homeowners in Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, visiting families still waiting for financial relief.

“When I brought Build It Back officials to view these homes, there was an instinctive reaction — they saw firsthand how frustrated people had become waiting for reimbursements.” Deutsch said. “My thanks to Director Peterson for joining me in reaching out to my constituents, and giving the people affected by Hurricane Sandy the attention they deserve.”

Last month, Council Member Deutsch’s office was contacted by Bill Iannotti, a constituent who spent his life savings repairing his home and had been seeking reimbursements through Build it Back for over a year. Council Member Deutsch, shortly after visiting his home with Director Peterson, was notified that the Iannotti family should expect to be reimbursed soon.

“I know the Build It Back Program was started with good intentions, but the process of getting reimbursed is far too slow and I began to give up hope. Fortunately, Councilman Deutsch stepped in and helped me recover what Sandy took away.” said Mr. Iannotti. “I am grateful to the Councilman for taking a proactive approach to advocate for all of his constituents.”

Council Member Deutsch will continue working closely with the city’s Build It Back program, which was designed to assist homeowners in repairing their storm-damaged properties. Following Amy Peterson’s appointment to head up the relief program, Council Member Deutsch has renewed confidence that Build it Back will move forward expeditiously.

Council Member Deutsch urges his constituents who need assistance with Build It Back to contact his District Office 718-368-9176.

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source: assistivetech.net)

Gone are the days that the wheelchair-bound are limited to enjoying the beach from the brink of the boardwalk, rather than on the sand itself. In 2007, the city unveiled special mats that allowed the handicap and seniors better access to the water’s edge, and now the Parks Department is moving forward with plans to install three new locations.

The handicap- and senior-friendly installations, called Mobi-Mats, debuted seven summers ago, making it easier to walk or roll on top of sand. The department has agreed to install three new mats on the Riegelmann Boardwalk, at West 33rd Street, West 5th Street and Brighton 6th Street, stretching 200 feet towards the ocean. The announcement was made by Councilmembers Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch, who said they advocated for the expansion.

“I am thrilled that Southern Brooklyn’s great beaches will be even more accessible this summer and proud that I was able to work with Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffery to successfully meet this important request. Every resident of Coney Island and Brighton Beach should be able to take advantage of the wonderful amenities right in our backyard. I heard from many seniors throughout Coney Island, especially in the West End, who have been unable to safely and comfortably walk across the sand in years past, so this is great news for our entire peninsula,” said Treyger.

“Nobody, regardless of their handicap, should find New York City’s public resources inaccessible — especially our wonderful beaches,” said Deutsch. “I’d like to thank the Parks Department for working with us to enhance the lives of the elderly and disabled residents of Southern Brooklyn.”

In addition to representing stretches of the waterfront, both elected officials represent districts with large senior populations.

This summer, mats will now be down at the following location: West 33rd Street, Stillwell Avenue, Brighton 2nd Street, Brighton 6th Street, Coney Island Avenue, and West 5th Street. They will be in place from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

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