Archive for the tag 'disabled'

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

A Russian-language radio ad promoting the Republican campaign of Ben Akselrod claims credit for a project currently funded by his opponent, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Sheepshead Bites has learned.

The commercial was heard airing on Davidzon Radio last week. It appears to be a paid announcement in which a supporter listed the candidate’s accomplishments, including among them that “Paths in the sand to the sea are also his work.”

Hear the ad below:

The ad, translated by three independent sources for Sheepshead Bites, appears to be highlighting Mobi-Mats, special mats on Brighton Beach and Coney Island beach that extend from the boardwalk to the water’s edge. They allow those in wheelchairs, or who suffer from other disabilities that make walking on sand difficult, to access the waterfront and are popular with the area’s senior community.

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source:

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source:

However, there appears to be no record of Akselrod working to obtain Mobi-Mats. The first set of them appeared in 2007, five years before he ever ran for office. Three new mats – two in Coney Island and one at Brighton 6th Street – were added this summer. At the time of the announcement of the expansion, Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch claimed credit for their placement.

While Treyger and Deutsch prodded the city for additional placements this summer, the only local elected officials to steer actual funding for the mats are Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Steven Cymbrowitz – the latter of which Akselrod hopes to unseat in tomorrow’s election.

The mats that served the disabled this summer were paid for with mayoral funding, the Parks Department confirmed. A further expansion is planned with funding from Cymbrowitz and Brook-Krasny in response to the community’s need for more accessibility, said a Parks spokesperson. Those funds were part of a $10 million allocation in 2009 for repairs and general improvements of the Riegelmann Boardwalk, and the local Assembly members requested Mobi-Mats be part of the scope.

The radio announcement was made by Bella Akhmechet, a supporter of Akselrod’s who contributed to his campaign. It goes on to say that she has known the candidate for more than a decade as a “respectable and worthy person … who is not indifferent to our needs.” It touts his “distribution of humanitarian aid” after Superstorm Sandy, and notes that he is a “humble person,” urging potential voters to cast their vote for Akselrod during the campaign.

Like many campaign ads placed on Davidzon Radio, it is not explicitly labeled as an ad. However, Akselrod’s campaign paid $3,000 to Davidzon Radio on September 12 for radio advertising.

Askelrod did not return multiple requests for comment.

The candidate, a Democrat, has been actively campaigning on the Republican line following his defeat in the Democratic primary. The GOP nomination came following a write-in initiative on the Republican line that he organized as a safeguard, and he won the Republican primary with 46 votes, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites. He was recently endorsed by former Republican Congressman Bob Turner.

Although he promised to resign as president of the Bay Democrats, the local Democratic club he leads alongside 45th Assembly District Leader Ari Kagan, he has not yet done so, according to reports.

With thanks to our readers who volunteered to translate to the advertisement.

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source:

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.

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

A pair of New York State politicians are trying to make it easier for emergency personal to rescue disabled residents should another disaster like Superstorm Sandy strike in again the future. SI Live is reporting that State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick are introducing legislation that would require counties to create and maintain a confidential list of disabled citizens so rescue workers could prioritize their rescue in the event of a wide scale emergency.

As we reported earlier in the month, a federal judge ruled that the city had no adequate plan for evacuating the elderly and disabled should another disaster like Sandy strike again. The legislation proposed by Savino and Cusick was in response to this ruling.

“Judge Furman’s ruling holds out what we and those in the disabled community have said, that the city and state need a registry and a plan for the evacuation, shelter and rescue of our disabled neighbors,” Savino said.

Cusick agreed with Savino in calling for action, noting the consequences of inadequate preparedness.

“Individuals with disabilities who may require evacuation assistance and shelter during a disaster will only get the assistance they require if there is some sort of registry,” Cusick said. “We saw first hand the chaos and confusion during Superstorm Sandy with regard to evacuation procedures.”

While Cusick’s bill has passed in the Assembly, it has not yet passed in the Senate. SI Live also noted that the legislation would also force operators of high-rise apartment buildings to update their own emergency plans and provide emergency escape plans for their disabled residents.

Lady Justice, atop the Fontaine de la Justice in Cudrefin, Switzerland. Source: Wikimedia

Lady Justice, atop the Fontaine de la Justice in Cudrefin, Switzerland. Source: Wikimedia

A federal judge has come down hard on the outgoing Bloomberg administration, ruling that the city has inadequate plans for helping the disabled evacuate should a major disaster like Superstorm Sandy strike the city again. WNYC is reporting that Judge Jesse Furman’s ruling came from a lawsuit waged by the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled and the Center for Independence of the Disabled who argued that the city violated the Americans with Disability Act.

According to Furman, the city’s plans for the disabled in case of a major emergency were insufficient.

“Most significantly, the city’s plans are inadequate to ensure that people with disabilities are able to evacuate before or during an emergency; they fail to provide sufficiently accessible shelters; and they do not sufficiently inform people with disabilities of the availability and location of accessible emergency services,” Furman wrote in his ruling.

WNYC listed three crucial foundations of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled’s lawsuit that Furman agreed with:

  • Many of the evacuation shelters were inaccessible to people in wheelchairs;
  • There was inadequate transportation to help disabled people evacuate, especially from high-rises;
  • Emergency officials had no plan to find and rescue those trapped after an emergency.

While Furman came down hard on the Bloomberg administration as far as the disabled go, he did praise them for doing an otherwise “outstanding” job when it came to preparing for future catastrophes.

The Bloomberg administration tried to hold the ruling in a positive light in a statement:

“While we are disappointed with the Court’s conclusions, we are gratified it recognized that the City’s extensive planning is impressive, and the efforts and valor of those responding to emergencies have been ‘extraordinary.’ Planning for the needs of people with disabilities has always been and remains a priority for the City. We are continuing to review this decision and assess our next steps.”

Here’s hoping that city administrators take this ruling seriously and find a way to adequately accommodate the city’s disabled should another disaster strike.

Are you disabled or have disabled family or friends that were in the evacuation zone during Superstorm Sandy? What was your experience like?

Source: changeschanging / Flickr

Source: changeschanging / Flickr

City Council candidate Ari Kagan wants to bring back the x29 bus service. The line, which ran from Stillwell Avenue and Surf Avenue to 57th Street and Madison Avenue in Midtown, was eliminated in 2010 in a series of MTA cuts.

As we’ve previously reported, the x29 service met the ax when the MTA was in the midst of a $40 million cutting spree. Kagan admonished the MTA in his remarks in a press release.

“The people of southern Brooklyn, many of whom commute over an hour to get to work in Manhattan, deserve better from the MTA,” said Kagan. “City Hall and the MTA, for years now, have made it regular practice to penalize those families who live and commit to the areas they can afford to live in. New York City is more than Manhattan and trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods close to Manhattan. We are taxpayers, and deserve services from the City too.”

Kagan also stressed that the lack of express bus service has impacted the disabled and elderly.

“Here in southern Brooklyn, our train stations are elevated. Not everyone is capable of walking up multiple flights of stairs to access the subway. These women and men relied on the X29 to get to work, or a doctor’s appointments, in Manhattan. They deserve better from the MTA,” Kagan said.

Source: JohnnyBarker / Flickr

Source: JohnnyBarker / Flickr

The New York City Council is pulling out all the stops to halt the spread of social day care centers that rip off Medicaid. The New York Times is reporting that the Council is looking to implement regulation and enforcement in order to weed out the shady centers that lure in healthy seniors in order to reap a windfall in Medicaid benefits.

In April, we first reported on the proliferation of social day care centers, which exploded from just eight programs citywide to 192 in only two years. The facilities arose in the wake of a new law enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which wished to curb Medicaid costs by steering seniors needing expensive in-house or nursing care to the less-costly, community-friendly centers. The centers are supposed to treat patients with severe disabilities and medical problems but instead, many have been tapping healthy seniors to participate, luring them with cash and free groceries. The Times explains how the managed care plans and social centers profit by this practice:

Under the new system, managed care plans get roughly $3,800 a month for each eligible person they enroll in New York City, regardless of what services are provided. The plans contract with the social adult day care centers to provide services to their members. But advocates for the elderly and for people with disabilities have warned state officials that some plans were “cherry-picking” healthy seniors by using the new day care centers as marketing tools, while shunning the people who needed hours of costlier home care.

Joan Pastore, director of Amico, a city senior center in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, said members of the center told her that they were not only signed up by new centers with enticements like $100 in cash and $50 for bringing a friend, but “coached on how to lie to qualify for home care.”

Members of the Council expressed anger at the practices of the managed care plans and the social day care centers.

“It is just outrageous that these pop-up centers are threatening the well-being of our seniors while draining Medicaid resources from legitimate programs for older adults. Increased oversight and regulation of these programs is needed immediately,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the Times.

In response, the Council has introduced a bill that would impose minimum requirements on the centers, which as of right now, are unregulated. Centers would be limited to treating seniors with impairments, set minimum safety standards and must register with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The bill would also protect centers that play by the rules and offer robust service to patients with actual disabilities.

Centers that don’t register or ignore the new rules could be fined between $250 to $1,000 a day. Enforcing these new rules won’t be cheap. City officials estimate that it will cost $2 million to police the nearly 200 centers throughout the city.

State Senator Diane Savino is looking to create a statewide bill that is modeled after the Council version.

Source: slack12/Flickr

New York 1 has been following a story about a group of elderly residents that have been left stranded in their Brighton Beach building courtesy of a broken elevator that has been out of commission since Superstorm Sandy struck late last October.

The residents, many disabled, have had difficulty scaling the steps of their six-story building.

“I live on the sixth floor and every day I cannot go out,” Alexander Fayn told NY1.

When NY1 originally reported on the story earlier in the month, the Department of Buildings promised that it would get fixed, but three weeks later it remains broken, driving the tenants mad.

“I’m frustrated, I’m upset, I’m furious,” said Michael Royzman to NY1.

NY1′s further inquiry with the Department of Buildings resulted in a promise by the DOB to investigate the matter.

Great…an investigation, why not just fix the elevator!?

Photo courtesy of Albert Dashevky

As we all know, New York City is a huge sprawling megalopolis populated by millions of people with a seemingly infinite amount of streets. These realities make it convenient for many dog owners to not care about cleaning up after their dogs. Well, you should clean up after your dog and not just because it keeps your neighborhoods clean, but because the piles of unattended dog feces creates an unfair obstacle course for those in wheelchairs trying to navigate our streets.

Remember, a lot of wheelchair users still propel their wheels forward with their hands, so if they roll over dog doodie, it becomes a horrible situation for someone just trying to get around town. You can use your imagination.

State Senator Marty Golden, after receiving letters from families of handicapped constituents dealing with this problem, has vowed to take action, according to a press release.

“Those who do not clean up after their dogs destroy the quality of life for all residents, and this letter highlights the impact that it has on our disabled neighbors,” Golden said. “I do hope that these concerns raised in this letter will not be ignored. The next time you are out walking your dog, stop and think for a moment, and pick up after your dog.”

Golden has petitioned the Department of Sanitation to place more signs that remind owners to pick up after their dogs.

The headline here is a tweak of two suggestions that came to us on Facebook, thanks to readers Ben Jonjak and Hillary Stackpole.


Several autistic and developmentally disabled people who previously lived in group homes in Sheepshead Bay are among the hundreds left displaced after Superstorm Sandy took a heavy toll on their facilities.

YAI Network, an organization which manages several such homes in the area, announced today that two of their homes in Sheepshead Bay were severely damaged, causing their autistic and disabled clients to move into temporary digs.

According to the release, one of the homes is on East 13th Street, and the other is on Avenue Z. Both were in Zone A and suffered a combined $300,000 worth of damage, mostly from the approximately eight feet of water that filled the basements.

“This is really like rebuilding the house,” said Vida Mani, the assistant coordinator in YAI’s Residential Department. “There was water and debris all over the place. One washer was on top of another, air conditioning units floated out of the wall, and we had a big refrigerator that ended up on a shelf.”

The East 13th Street home housed 10 residents and the Avenue Z location held six. All residents were evacuated ahead of the storm to different homes throughout Brooklyn, the release notes.

Aside from the damage, YAI said it lost $2.1 million in lost revenue due to a suspension of its day programs and medical practices, as well as overtime costs for workers deployed to help the displaced residents.

“This storm affected everyone,” said Stephen E. Freeman, CEO of YAI. “And it showed us so clearly that the people we support experienced the same sense of loss and disruption of life as other citizens. They couldn’t leave their homes, they couldn’t get to work and they couldn’t see their friends and families.”

Although FEMA reimbursements are expected to cover most of the repairs to the homes, it won’t cover the lost revenues. YAI has established a Storm Restoration Fund to not only cover some of the losses, but to upgrade their 100 group homes with permanent generators to prevent future disruptions. Donations can be made here.

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.

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