Archive for the tag 'domenic recchia'

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It was mostly a predictable day at the polls yesterday when it came to Southern Brooklyn races, including the reelection of two lawmakers currently facing federal charges.

The most high-profile race, of course, was that of the 11th Congressional District, in which incumbent Michael Grimm, who faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion, staved off a challenge from Democrat Domenic Recchia.

Grimm came ahead with a 13-point lead, according to preliminary results provided by the Associated Press. He won 56,221 of the district’s Brooklyn and Staten Island votes, or 55.4 percent, to Recchia’s 42,786 votes, or 42.1 percent. A Green party candidate, Henry Bardel, picked up 2.5 percent.

Though the win itself was predictable – Recchia’s campaign gaffes became a national joke, and Siena polling showed Grimm with a 19-point lead in the days before the race – the margin is a significant victory for Grimm. In 2012, before the incumbent made headlines for the criminal charges, threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony, or having a romp in a bar bathroom, he had just shy of a six-point victory over then challenger Mark Murphy (the race was 52.6 to 46.4).

It appears the bad headlines has made Grimm even more popular among voters, or Recchia was just that much more unlikable than Murphy.

Once the dust has settled, we’ll take a look at how the vote broke down geographically to see just how much Brooklyn factored into Grimm’s reelection.

Sampson (File photo)

Sampson (File photo)

But Grimm was not the only Southern Brooklyn pol facing federal indictment to win re-election. After besting several challengers in the Democratic primary, State Senator John Sampson, who represents parts of Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin and Canarsie, took in 86.1 percent of the vote in last night’s general election.

Sampson is facing embezzlement charges, accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of foreclosed homes. Just days before the election, the pol’s legal team practically admitted to the swindle in a pre-trial hearing, but argued that it occurred outside the statute of limitations. It apparently did not hurt his electoral prospects, as he took home more than 10 times the number of votes as the second place contender, Republican Elias J. Weir.

Source: Brook-Krasny’s office

Source: Brook-Krasny’s office

If there were any surprises in local races on election night, it might be the showing of Republican Stamatis Lilikakis, who challenged Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny. The district, which spans Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Dyker Heights and a sliver of waterfront connecting those neighborhoods, churned out a nail-biter as returns came in from poll sites. For the first half of the count, Brook-Krasny hovered between 50 and 51 percent. But as the night wore on, he took a dramatic lead, with 58.3 percent of the vote to Lilikakis’ 41.7.

This is another race we’ll be checking the geographic breakdown of, as it’ll be interesting to see which parts of the neighborhood snubbed Brook-Krasny.

Here’s how the rest of the races in Southern Brooklyn shook out:

Congressional

  • Congressman Hakeem Jeffries took home 91.9 percent of the vote, to Republican Alan Bellone’s 8.1 percent. Bellone did not actively campaign.
  • Yvette Clarke took home 89.5 percent to Republican Daniel Cavanagh’s 10.5 percent. Cavanagh did not actively campaign.
  • Jerrold Nadler won 87.6 percent of the vote to Conservative Ross Brady’s 11.9 percent.

State Senate

  • Senator Martin Golden had a strong showing against Democratic challenger James Kemmerer, with 69-to-31 percent of the vote. That’s significant growth compared to results in 2012, when Democrat Andrew Gounardes pulled in 41.9 percent to Golden’s 58.1 percent.
  • Senator Diane Savino did not have a challenger.
  • Senator Simcha Felder did not have a challenger.

State Assembly

  • Sheepshead Bay’s Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein took in 87.3 percent of the vote to Conservative challenger Sura Yusim’s 12.7 percent.
  • Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz bested his challenger, Ben Akselrod, with 54.4 percent of the vote to Akselrod’s 42.3 percent. This is the fourth race in a row that he’s defeated Akselrod, after winnin in both the 2012 primary and general (Akselrod ran as a Democrat, then as a Conservative) and this year’s primary and general (he ran as a Democrat, then as a Republican).
  • Bensonhurst Assemblyman Bill Colton beat Republican challenger Joseph Baranello 71 to 29 percent.
  • Borough Park and Midwood Assemblyman Dov Hikind defeated Republican Nachman Caller 78.4 to 21.6.
  • Assemblyman Peter Abbate, representing Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, received 76.2 percent of the vote to Republican Henry Lallave’s 23.8 percent.
  • The 59th Assembly District, representing Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park and Mill Basin, and vacant since Alan Maisel resigned to take a seat in the City Council, was secured by Democrat Roxanne Persaud, who bested Republican Jeffrey Ferretti 73.8 to 26.2.

For all results from last night’s general election, check out WNYC for AP results.

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A Staten Island supporter and fundraiser for embattled Congressman Michael Grimm put out a letter saying the pol’s Democratic opponent, Domenic Recchia, wants to build “low-income housing in our neighborhoods,” spurring accusations of racially charged “fear mongering.”

The New York Post reports:

Staten Island Republican Party vice chair Bill D’Ambrosio wrote a July 9 fundraising letter on Grimm’s behalf claiming that Democrat Dominic Recchia would be a champion of low-income housing in the congressional district that covers mostly-white Staten Island and more racially mixed south Brooklyn.

Recchia’s base is in Brooklyn; Grimm’s is on Staten Island.

“His [Recchia’s] strategy for becoming Staten Island’s congressman relies on using votes from Brooklyn housing projects . . . Staten Islanders should have no doubt that this Brooklyn political hack will sell them out to pay back these votes, and surely build low-income housing in our neighborhoods with his cronies at City Hall,” D’Ambrosio said.

Keep reading to see the full letter, the response from Democrats, and how the Grimm campaign is doubling down on the allegation.

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Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion and illegal employment practices stemming from a restaurant he operated before running for Congress, charges he said are because the nation’s commander-and-chief wants to see him gone.

Grimm made the allegations against the Obama administration on Tuesday before a gathering of Republican supporters rallying for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino. He also compared the United States to oppressive regimes in Iran and North Korea.

New York Observer reported on the statements:

“They change policy, they use regulation to legislate, they circumvent the Congress–this is now the norm for the Obama administration,” Mr. Grimm fumed at the Bay Ridge Manor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

“And when you look and see why they come after me so hard, every day another negative story [against] the only Republican in New York City, it becomes obvious: they don’t want any opposition. This administration wants to do what it wants to do and they want you to forget about the America that you grew up in,” he said.

… “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure what country I’m living in,” he said. “Four Americans are killed and murdered in Benghazi–no one’s held accountable …. The IRS, arguably the most feared agency in our entire government targeting people because of their political views. Now this happens in Iran, this happens in North Korea, but this is the United States of America.”

The site reported that the statements “drew loud cheers.”

Grimm has long maintained that the investigation against him, which began as a probe into his 2010 campaign fundraising, was a “political witch hunt” by Democrats looking to see the city’s lone Republican congressman unseated. Prosecutors, however, have submitted paperwork to the court suggesting that Grimm’s own documents show he kept two sets of books and paid employees – some of which were undocumented immigrants – in cash to avoid taxes.

Grimm’s assertion that he is the subject of political retaliation has sparked snark from colleagues, including State Senator Diane Savino. The pol, whose district is largely within Grimm’s, let forth a tirade on Facebook about Grimm’s conspiracy theory back in April:

[G]et a grip folks, Mikey is not that important, he is no threat to the power structure, he is a slick talker with a nice resume who seems to be in trouble. he was not on track for greatness as a national leader, not on track to upset the national scene. Conspiracy, please….

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm kept a cell phone registered to his undercover, mob-connected FBI alter-ego years after leaving the job, and continued to use the phone while in Congress, according to a Daily News report.

The paper cites documents released by the U.S. Attorney earlier this week that outlines their evidence in their case against Grimm, who is accused of a $1 million tax fraud scheme, as well as illegal hiring and employment practices.

The paper reports:

Rep. Michael Grimm, who posed as a mobbed-up stockbroker named Michael (Mikey Suits) Garabaldi while working undercover for the FBI, kept his wise-guy alter ego even after entering Congress, newly unsealed federal documents show.

Grimm’s cell phone was listed under a “Michael Garibaldi of Centurian Consulting” as recently as 2012, when prosecutors sought a court order for permission to track all his calls, the documents show.

The embattled Staten Island Republican, who is now under federal indictment, used the phone as his primary number as recently as last year, and even received mail addressed to a Michael Garibaldi, a source told The Daily News.

Grimm, his spokesman and his lawyer did not respond to questions Wednesday about why he used the alias more than six years after leaving the FBI — and for at least two years after entering the U.S. House in January 2011.

The story also reveals the extent of the investigation into Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising. That investigation came to light shortly after it began in 2012, first noted by the New York Times, yet it was unclear how far-reaching it was. The new documents show that not only were Grimm’s phone lines were being monitored by authorities, but also that of gal pal Diana Durand, who has been indicted for her alleged role in funneling illegal funds to the Republican pol, and Grimm associates Ofer Biton and Ronn Torossian, who they believed, along with Grimm, has attempted to extort money from prominent Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Pinto.

Biton has also been arrested, and is cooperating in the government’s case against Grimm.

Grimm did not respond to the paper’s requests for comment, or those of the Staten Island Advance.

In fact, he appears to be dodging questions about the investigation, having made headlines yet again this week for jumping into a car and making a getaway from this FOX Detroit reporter:

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Grimm

Federal prosecutors have released documents outlining the government’s case against Congressman Michael Grimm, revealing that Grimm’s own texts and e-mails are being entered as evidence alongside testimony from former employees and business associates.

The Daily News reports:

The preliminary list of evidence includes emails between Grimm and a “Healthalicious manager,” “documents provided by a cooperat[ing] witness,” and “records provided by a Healthalicious employee.” Also listed are “text messages between Grimm and a cooperating witness.”

The list of evidence indicates a seemingly straightforward federal case. Prosecutors plan to prove Grimm maintained a false set of books and lied in financial filings. They will contrast the phony forms with material provided by cooperating witnesses, and with Grimm’s own statements in texts and emails.

Prosecutors are turning over an extensive list of financial documents. Those include years of tax, health and labor filings by Healthalicious and its parent company, Granny Sayz, records of Grimm’s personal finances, the restaurant’s accounts, bank account and credit card records and financial disclosure forms Grimm filed in Congress from 2009 to 2012.

Prosecutors are also offering as evidence the IRS 1040 forms filed by Bennett Ofraly, Grimm’s partner in the restaurant who prosecutors say has ties to the Gambino crime family, which Grimm once investigated while an FBI agent.

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the 20-count indictment alleging the local pol hid more than $1 million in sales at a business he owned to avoid paying taxes, as well as illegally employing undocumented immigrants.

The charges surround the operations of Upper East Side eatery Healthalicious, a venture he ran from 2007 to 2010. However, he’s also charged with perjury for lying to investigators about the business’ operations when he was questioned in 2013, while already serving in the House of Representatives.

It appears the case will not be resolved until after the November 4 elections, in which he faces a challenge from Democrat Domenic Recchia.

Source: NYDailyNews.com

After an extensive three-year renovation, the Edwin P. Hubble Planetarium at Edward R. Murrow High School reopened this week, featuring advanced technology developed at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium.

The planetarium now has new carpets, seating, ceilings and a new entrance to the domed facility, and is operated with a new computerized LED cove lighting system and high-end software.

It’s come a long way from the projectors that splashed simple constellation patterns of the night sky across the ceiling, with the new dome being able to recreate blue skies, theatrical “lighting chases” and other advanced schemes, aided by a new surround sound system linked to fully programmable DVD player.

The whole system is coordinated by Uniview software developed at Manhattan’s Natural History Museum using their Digital Universe data bank created by Dr. Carter Emmart, director of Astrovisualization at the Hayden Planetarium. The new software can take students on adventures through the universe, allowing them to view the galaxies and celestial bodies from any point in known space.

Murrow’s Hubble Planetarium opened in 1979, and remains one of just a few such facilities operating within a New York City public school.

The renovations were completed with the help of funding obtained by former Councilman Domenic Recchia. It cost $500,000.

The Daily News captured some of the dome’s new capabilities in the photo above.

Source: Recchia campaign

Source: Recchia campaign

Former City Councilman Domenic Recchia on Saturday officially announced his bid for the 11th Congressional District, the seat currently occupied by Republican Michael Grimm.

Recchia made the announcement before a crowd of supporters in front of his mother’s Staten Island home, where he and a host of lawmakers backing him took aim squarely at his opponent and the Republican party.

Politicker reports:

“I won’t be going to Washington to carry water for my party. I’ll be caring for the hopes and dreams of the people I’m there to represent–you,” Mr. Recchia told the crowd. “I’ll make you one more promise: I will continue to conduct myself honorably because my mom wouldn’t have it any other way. We all know that Mr. Grimm can be a little pugnacious.”

… “Well, starting now he has to pick on somebody his own size,” Mr. Recchia said.

… Mr. Recchia is looking to ride the demographic and ideological shifts underway in the traditionally Republican borough. While a Republican mayoral candidate won the borough in last year’s general election, President Barack Obama eked out a victory there two years ago. Left-leaning, minority voters are also increasingly populating Staten Island’s north shore, where Democrats like Mr. Recchia have performed well.

Although Grimm’s campaign has been the subject of a federal probe into fundraising improprieties, much of the statements at the weekend rally instead focused on recent headlines depicting Grimm as a short-tempered brute. They zeroed in on his well-publicized comments to a NY1 reporter, who he threatened to throw off a balcony in Washington after the reporter asked about the fundraising allegations. Former Congressman Michael McMahon targeted the allegations that Grimm had a sexual romp with a woman in a Bay Ridge bar.

Congressman Jerry Nadler said at the rally that the district needs a congressman who will be respected by his colleagues and the public.

“Nobody respects Grimm,” he said. “Nobody intelligent can respect Grimm.”

Grimm, meanwhile, had a campaign rally and fundraiser over the weekend, drawing approximately 240 supporters, SILive reports. There, he taunted Democrats for their weak showing in Staten Island, promised a ferocious campaign, and said that the seat would remain staunchly Republican for years to come.

SILive reports:

He predicted an outsized victory in November.

“But we’re not just going to win,” he said. “We’re going to run away with this election. We’re going to let them know this is a contact sport.”

For Democrats who say that the congressional district is in play, Grimm said, “Guess what? The Staten Island/Brooklyn seat is not vulnerable, is not up for grabs. It’s a Republican seat. So go home. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your money. This one is ours.”

Grimm’s supporters also seemed to derive glee from the congressman’s apparent mistreatment of members of the fourth estate. On threatening physical harm against the NY1 reporter, former Staten Island GOP Chairman Robert Scamardella drew laughs when he mocked the national outcry.

“Oh, the inhumanity of it,” Scamardella said to laughter from the crowd.

It appears Grimm’s Staten Island supporters are not shaken by those headlines either. Both candidates marched in Staten Island’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, where SILive interviewed attendees.

Staten Island resident Chris Chiafullo told the outlet he would vote for Grimm, and didn’t see the threats being much of a concern in the borough.

“The balcony thing maybe made a difference outside Staten Island, but not here,” he said.

Although Staten Island surely remains the district’s base, the Brooklyn portion has grown in the latest round of redistricting. While the seat before covered Bay Ridge and a sliver of Bensonhurst and Gravesend, it has now swelled to include almost all of Gravesend and a hunk of Sheepshead Bay.

 

Source: SuperFantastic via Flickr

A new law raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old has been kicking around the City Council for more than three years, but most New York City residents didn’t hear about it until yesterday, when the legislative body gave its seal of approval.

If Mayor Michael Bloomberg signs the bill, as he’s expected to do, smokers younger than 21 years old will be banned from purchasing tobacco products in New York City. It’s among the highest age limits in the nation.

The bill passed 35-10, and includes e-cigarettes.

When the new law takes effect, shops found selling to people under age will face a $1,000 fine. On second offense, fines go up to $2,000, and the store may have its license revoked if additional offenses are committed within a three-year period.

Of the 10 Council members opposed to the new law, all were representatives from boroughs outside of Manhattan, and five were from Brooklyn.

With the exception of Charles Barron, who represents East New York, all of the Brooklyn opponents hailed from Southern Brooklyn.

Here’s how they voted:

  • Vincent Gentile (Bay Ridge – Bensonhurst): Against
  • David Greenfield (Bensonhurst – Borough Park): For
  • Jumaane Williams (Midwood – Flatbush): Against
  • Lew Fidler (Marine Park – Canarsie): Absent
  • Domenic Recchia (Coney Island – Gravesend): Against
  • Michael Nelson (Sheepshead Bay – Brighton Beach): Against

Although Fidler was absent for health reasons, we believe he would have voted against the age increase. Fidler previously opposed expanding the smoking ban to beaches and parks, as well as banning flavored tobacco products.

That means David Greenfield is the only Southern Brooklyn Council member to support the bill, and had Fidler voted (the way we think he would have), more than half the opposition would have hailed from our end of the borough.

Do Southern Brooklyn residents love smoking more than the rest of New York City? You tell us.

Source: New York City Council via Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Source: New York City Council via Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Paul Podhaizer, a beloved local civic and political leader, was honored with a street renaming in Coney Island. According to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Podhaizer’s name will be immortalized at the northeast corner of Seabreeze Avenue and West Fifth Street.

Podhaizer, who passed away in 2010, was the Democratic district leader in the 46th Assembly District, a member of Community Board 13, vice president of Temple Beth Abraham and chairman of the tenants’ council in Brightwater Towers. He was described as a person who worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for the residents in his neighborhood.

The recognition was bestowed by Councilman Domenic Recchia, who sponsored the legislation calling for the street renaming. Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the legislation into law earlier in the year. Recchia expressed great admiration for Podhaizer at the street renaming dedication.

“I am privileged to rename a street in honor of Paul Podhaizer. Paul’s love of this community was second to none and the contributions he made to improve the lives of people in Brighton Beach and Coney Island will live on for many years to come,” Recchia said.

Ruth, Pohaizer’s wife, died earlier this year. Ruth and Paul were survived by their sons, Stewart and Alan.

A home in Sea Gate damaged (in the rear) by Sandy. Photo by Erica Sherman

Damaged schools, health facilities, libraries, abandoned storefronts and treacherous sinkholes. These are some of the major problems still afflicting Coney Island since Superstorm Sandy thrashed the area over eight months ago. Gotham Gazette is reporting that all the damage hasn’t come close to being repaired and that local residents are at their wits’ end in trying to live with them.

On our sister site Bensonhurst Bean, we have covered some of the frustration plaguing Coney Island locals. City Council candidate Mark Treyger was furious over the conditions at Carey Gardens (2955 West 24th Street), a New York City housing complex suffering from leaking roofs, the loss of its community center, a broken playground and the sinkhole problems on Neptune Avenue that could attract West Nile mosquitoes.

In another report, we tracked other frustrations facing Coney residents, namely the surging popularity of the pristinely restored beach area that has caused an uptick in traffic and congestion in the area. The restoration of the beach, Luna Park and other fun spots has been a sore spot for locals not buying the reports that Coney Island has fully rebounded:

“They say Coney Island is open for business. Sure, the entertainment district is, but no one talks about the parts of Coney Island where people actually live. They don’t talk about the neighborhoods,” said Ed Cosme, a resident who formed The People’s Coalition of Coney Island to raise awareness about the problems in the parts of the neighborhood that don’t normally draw tourists and bathers.

The Gotham Gazette described the state of a massive sinkhole present on Neptune Avenue:

On Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, state Sen. Diane Savino and a group of community activists walked a cracked and broken sidewalk on a recent day this summer — taking a tour of damage that remains nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy pummeled some of the city’s notable coastal neighborhoods.

At one point, the group stopped to look past a contorted chain-link fence at a massive sinkhole filled with bags of trash, milk cartons and diapers. The crevasse yawned with fault lines that zigged and zagged onto the sidewalk and towards the street. It looked to be growing.

“That thing goes down a ways,” said Ken Jones, a longtime community activist, referring to the sinkhole. “It’s probably right under the sidewalk.” The fact that it has apparently been used on more than one occasion as a dump only added to the activists’ concern that no one — not the state, not the city — is paying enough attention to their neighborhood…

Councilman Domenic Recchia, whose district includes Coney Island, said he has been in contact with multiple city agencies that are working together to study the sinkhole problem in particular.

“They are trying to find out why we are having this problem,” Recchia said. “It isn’t clear if the earth is moving or the sand got pushed out from under the pavement by the flood. But I know it is a problem for a lot of people. They are getting them in their driveway or backyards. I get calls about it all the time.”

While the problems afflicting Coney residents are extensive, a small measure of relief is coming in the form of a $6 million grant provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. The plan is unique in that it allows local community leaders and officials to decide the best way to spend the federal money allotted to them, removing the sometimes disconnected overreach of authorities with no sense of what’s going on the ground.

The report goes on to describe other problems facing the area, including abandoned storefronts, broken docks and lost community outreach programs:

But it isn’t just the sinkholes that have residents concerned that their part of Coney Island is being ignored. Looking past the massive sinkhole on Neptune Avenue, the tortured skeleton of a wooden dock uprooted and smashed by Hurricane Sandy could be seen. A number of boats remained lifted out of the water, stranded on rocks, water-damaged and rotting. “No one has claimed them yet?” Savino asked rhetorically.

The owners are likely long gone. Just like the proprietors of the closed Chinese food restaurant and bodega across the street. “They were just hanging on before Sandy,” Savino said. “They were already in debt. After that storm, another loan wasn’t going to save them.”

Aida Leon is the executive director of the Amethyst Women’s Project, a group that helps women struggling with substance abuse, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS.

As the tour of Coney Island progressed, she said she was concerned that established charitable organizations had been ignored by the larger groups that came in with funding to address problems caused by Sandy.

“They haven’t been on the ground like we have,” she said. “We lost a lot of people after Sandy. They didn’t come back to the programs and I don’t think they are coming back because the people with funding don’t know how to reach them.”

Councilman Domenic Recchia tried to find bright spots in the otherwise bleak picture, claiming that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was out fixing the sinkholes and that not all of the community programs were gone.

“We have summer programs like the Cornerstone program and others out of Kaiser Park. They may not all be open but there are programs,” Recchia told the Gotham Gazette.”Compared to other parts of the city, I think we’re doing pretty good. Take a look at the NYCHA facilities — they are working on them. It’s not like the work isn’t happening.”

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