Archive for the tag 'government'

Fidler during the 2012 A Taste of Sheepshead Bay. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

Former Council member and Southern Brooklyn Democratic power broker Lew Fidler is in need of a kidney, and has turned to friends, family and supporters on Facebook in hopes of finding a match.

Fidler, who now works for the Brooklyn Borough President after representing Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park and other Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods in the City Council for 12 years, posted an urgent plea on his Facebook page Friday morning.

“While I am doing resonably well in the short term, dialysis will likely take its toll, perhaps sooner rather than later,” he wrote. “I need a kidney transplant as soon as possible.”

Fidler-fb

Fidler’s health problems first became public in 2012 when he sought the State Senate seat vacated by the disgraced Carl Kruger. He stepped back from campaigning against Republican David Storobin when he had a severe allergic reaction to his medication.

The reaction caused kidney failure, and Fidler has endured regular kidney dialysis treatment ever since.

Dialysis replicates many of the functions of a healthy kidney and is needed when the critical organ can no longer remove toxins from the bloodstream. Though kidneys can sometimes make a full recovery, the damage is more often irreversable. A typical dialysis treatment lasts four hours and is done three times a week, and can often be followed by discomfort and nausea.

Despite this, the bustling pol returned to the campaign trail in 2012, and has since kept his typical hustled schedule, seldom missing a community meeting as he finished up his final term in 2013, and is still frequently seen at local events.

Fidler, who has blood type A+, is asking potential donors to contact Renewal, a nonprofit that helps facilitate kidney donations. Renewal can be reached at (7198) 431-9831 or R814@renewal.org

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

A Department of Transportation spokesperson refuted Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s claim that a local speed enforcement camera gave out 6,000 violations in a single day. But in a bizarre e-mail exchange, the agency spokesperson refused to provide the actual peak number, instead giving a randomly selected count that was revealed to be below the peak. (Update: The DOT said Wednesday morning that they issued 1,551 violations on July 7, suggesting that that is the peak date.)

Sheepshead Bites first reported yesterday that the controversial camera, at the base of a Belt Parkway exit ramp on Shore Parkway near Ocean Parkway, doled out approximately 6,000 violations in just one day, according to Deutsch.

The agency’s spokesperson contacted Sheepshead Bites this morning, stating that the number of violations that was publicized was incorrect, and that they would follow up with the correct number. The press officer later said that 1,015 violations were issued on the day being discussed.

Neither Sheepshead Bites nor Councilman Deutsch had specified the date in which 6,000 violations were allegedly issued.

Sheepshead Bites requested further information from the Department of Transportation spokesperson, including the date they sampled from and the number of violations given on the peak day since the camera was implemented.

The Department of Transportation spokesperson said the number given was from July 29, and that the highest number around that date was 1,266; the press officer added that most days were under 1,100. Though asked, the rep would not say if that encompassed the entire time period in which the camera was active.

We asked for the significance of the July 29 date; the spokesperson said it was given as an example. The rep did not say why they chose that date, or why they plucked a date that their own numbers suggested was below average.

Sheepshead Bites pressed on, asking for the number of violations given on the day in which the most violations were given, going back to the date of implementation.

The agency repeated their claim that the Council member was never told the number of violations issued in one day was 6,000.

Despite two additional follow-ups, the agency flack has not stated the number of violations issued on the peak day. After an attempt by the spokesperson to change the subject of the inquiry, the spokesperson has since stopped responding to our emails.

Deutsch, who supports the use of the camera on the condition that the DOT add signage to give drivers a fair chance, declined to comment on the DOT’s rebuttal. Instead, he said, it’s more important that the streets be made safe.

“When someone gets hurt or someone gets killed in a car accident, their families don’t look at statistics,” he said. “At the end of the day we need to make sure our roads are safe.”

Camera enforcement at that location remains in effect.

UPDATE (September 24 @ 10am): The Department of Transportation spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites this morning that 1,551 violations were issued on July 7, suggesting that this was the peak date.

conaming

Elected officials, the NYPD, family and friends attended to honor the late Community Board chair.

Family, friends and community leaders gathered Wednesday to honor John E. Nikas, a longtime chairperson of Community Board 15 and former assistant to Governor Mario Cuomo.

The intersection of East 12th Street and Sheepshead Bay Road, behind the 61st Precinct, received a new sign reading John E. Nikas Way in recognition of his community activism on what would have been his 81st birthday.

In addition to his work on the Community Board and for the governor, Nikas, who passed away in 2011 at age 78, was remembered as a tireless community advocate who sought to help the less fortunate.

Daily News writes:

He served three decades on the board of New York Community Hospital and co-founded a charity called Youth DARES, which helps at-risk kids and now annually serves more than 400 youngsters.

“He wanted to make a difference for his children and grandchildren and for the community we live in,” said his wife, Rose Nikas.

UPDATE (September 24 @ 10am): Councilman Chaim Deutsch emailed us the the following comment:

“It was an honor and a pleasure to host the co-naming of John E. Nikas Way. John was a paragon of integrity and compassion, a true role model for all. John was a doer and a community activist whose dedication to his family and his neighborhood knew no bounds. I am proud to have been able to memorialize him with this street co-naming.”

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

That’s some fast money.

The speed enforcement camera stationed at the base of a Belt Parkway exit ramp near Ocean Parkway issued approximately 6,000 violations in just one day, earning the city about $300,000 in revenue, according to Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

The camera earned notoriety earlier this month when Sheepshead Bites revealed its location on Shore Parkway between Ocean Parkway and West Avenue, at the very end of a 400-foot-long exit ramp from the Belt Parkway. Locals and Councilman Mark Treyger expressed outrage at the placement, calling it a trap. But the numbers have led Councilman Chaim Deutsch, in whose district the camera is located, to hail it as a success.

“There were 6,000 summonses issued in one day coming off the Belt Parkway. Now it is almost to zero, so the camera is helping,” Deutsch told members of the Manhattan Beach Community Group at a public meeting last week. “But we still want to make sure that people slow down, [that they] have enough time to slow down carefully when they come off the ramp.”

The cameras photograph any vehicles traveling faster than 10mph over the speed limit and send a violation in the mail within 30 days. The fine is $50.

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Deutsch brushed off concerns that the camera could be a speed trap, saying that the steep reduction in the weeks it has been there shows that drivers are changing their behavior. To make sure it’s not all about revenue, he’s urging the Department of Transportation to add signage on the Belt Parkway just before the ramp indicating that there is a speed camera in the vicinity.

“I support that if anyone is speeding, enormous amount of speeds, they deserve a summons,” Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites. “But I dont want it to be a ‘gotcha’ camera, and people need to be aware there’s a camera and they should exit the ramp safely.”

He also said that while locals have learned the location and adjusted accordingly, the next season of visitors to Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay would benefit from the early warning while also achieve the goal of safer driving.

“Coming next summer when people come to visit the waterfront communities you’re going to have new people coming in, fresh faces to the area, so at the end of the day you want to slow traffic down when they come off the ramp,” he said. He also doesn’t want drivers slamming on the brakes when they see the camera at the last moment. “They’ll slam on the brakes. So if you have signage several hundred feet before the ramp it gives the driver a chance to slow down and get off safely.”

He said the DOT is studying his proposal.

The DOT did not return several messages requesting confirmation of Deutsch’s numbers, or whether or not they were considering additional signage.

Previously, the DOT told Sheepshead Bites they were not currently planning to relocate the cameras as Councilman Treyger had requested. They added that, at 400 feet long, the Belt Parkway’s exit ramp provided drivers with sufficient space to safely reduce speed.

UPDATE (September 23 @ 4:15pm): A Department of Transportation spokesperson said Deutsch’s claim is incorrect, but refused to reveal the peak number.

UPDATE (September 24 @ 10am): The Department of Transportation spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites this morning that 1,551 violations were issued on July 7, suggesting that this was the peak day.

loehmanns

A special public hearing originally slated for tonight on the proposed expansion of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza, whose owners seek to add a new floor of office space, has been postponed to allow further scrutiny of the plans. However, the zoning committee of Community Board 15 is still moving forward with a special meeting to consider nine other projects in the community.

The meeting will kick off at 6pm in the faculty dining room (U112) of Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard).

The plans for Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza (2027 Emmons Avenue), as first reported by Sheepshead Bites, call for an additional 10,000 square feet of commercial offices on an entirely new floor of the building. The owner said he needs the additional revenue it would create to offset losses from Superstorm Sandy.

Already built far outside of zoning allowances, the building’s developer needs to obtain approval from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which asks for a recommendation from the Community Board before deciding for itself.

A hearing was added at the last minute to Community Board 15′s agenda for its final meeting before summer recess. With cooperation from the developer, the Board voted to table the matter so it could gather more public input.

With many boardmembers and local community group leaders on vacation, the Board struggled to coordinate an on-site visit with stakeholders.

“[Councilman Chaim Deutsch] and the Community Board want to have the opportunity to really examine this. Over the summer, it was difficult to get the zoning people together and set up meetings,” explained CB15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo. “We want to get all the community groups together and on-site before any decisions are made … and determine any possible downside.”

The developer agreed to postpone his plans again.

Still, the Board is moving forward with a long list of hearings on other projects tonight to make next week’s regularly scheduled meeting more manageable.

Tonight’s agenda will review the following projects:

  • 1601 Gravesend Neck Road – An application to legalize an existing physical culture establishment. This project, for FG Fitness Gallery, was previously denied by the Board after owners failed to send representation in June 2013. The Board at that time also voted to refuse to consider the matter again in the future.
  • 2442 East 14th Street – An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 2137 East 12th Street - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 4167 Ocean Avenue - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 325 Avenue Y – An application for a special permit to allow a school within a M1-1 Zoning District
  • 1937 East 14th Street - An application for a special permit to allow the conversion of a two family dwelling into a single family dwelling.
  • 1981 East 9th Street - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 1977 Homecrest Avenue - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 2268 West 1st Street – An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement and conversion of an existing two family residence to a single family residence.
Treyger and 61st Precinct Commanding Officer Carlos Valdez at the scene. (Source: Conor Greene)

Treyger and 61st Precinct Commanding Officer Carlos Valdez at the scene. (Source: Conor Greene)

After Sheepshead Bites’ report yesterday about a swastika appearing on the American Legion building at 300 Avenue X, elected officials condemned the hateful act and authorities rushed to have it investigated and removed today.

Members of the Marlboro Memorial Post 1437 American Legion chapter were apparently unaware of the graffiti. Councilman Mark Treyger’s office visited the site to inform them, and the pol called the NYPD’s 61st Precinct commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Carlos Valdez, to the scene to report the incident as a hate crime.

The pol then called the mayor’s office to dispatch the Economic Development Corporation’s graffiti removal service. As of 1:45pm today, police and the EDC were on the scene. When the police wrapped up their investigation, the graffiti was immediately removed.

Treyger said he spoke to members of the American Legion post, which included World War II veterans who were glad to see the symbol of hate eliminated.

Source: Michael S.

The swastika before it was removed. Source: Michael S.

“A swastika is not just offensive to the Jewish community, it’s offensive to everybody,” Treyger said. “An attack against one part of our community is an attack against us all. We have a zero tolerance policy on that.”

He added: “I do want to commend the precinct for coming down quickly, and the mayor’s office for sending the graffiti removal van immediately.”

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz expressed his outrage at the vandalism on Facebook yesterday evening.

“I condemn the spray-painting of a swastika on American Legion Marlboro Memorial Post 1437, whose members include World War II veterans who saw the Nazi atrocities firsthand,” he wrote. “I will continue to work with authorities to ensure that the perpetrator of this hate vandalism is swiftly brought to justice. As the son of Holocaust survivors, I believe we must continue to educate people about this terrible period in our history. Ignorance is no excuse for spreading messages of hate.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer also reached out to Sheepshead Bites by e-mail following our report, also to condemn the graffiti. He wrote:

I condemn hate crimes—from the five boroughs of New York City to every corner of the globe. Our extraordinary diversity is one of our greatest strengths. As such, any and all acts against people based on their sex, race, religion, color, or creed are attacks that cut to the very core of who we are as New Yorkers and what this City has meant and always will mean to people around the world. We stand united against these crimes, confident that the light of peace and justice will always triumph over the darkness of hate and prejudice.

While Treyger and others expressed gratitude to Sheepshead Bites for bringing attention to the anti-Semitic vandalism, the real credit goes to tipster Michael S. who was the first to speak up about it.

If you see an issue in the neighborhood that’s not getting the attention it deserves, send details and, if available, photos and video to editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement. (Source: Adams’ office)

Several local schools are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars each for repairs, upgrades and improvements as part of a $3.1 million allocation by Borough President Eric Adams to education institutions across the borough.

The beep today unveiled 16 school-related capital projects that will benefit from the allocation, which was packed into the city’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

“If you look around Downtown Brooklyn, something new is rising up every day and this is an exciting time for the borough and this area, as education and schools represent the vibrant energies of what’s coming up at this time,” said Borough President Adams. “This budget spans the far reaches of the borough; from Metrotech to Midwood and from Bed-Stuy to Bath Beach, we are leaving no school behind. Our goal is education, education, and education.”

The allocations are largely for technology upgrades, although some schools are receiving it for more general improvements.

Schools in our area are slated to receive the following:

  • $350,000 to James Madison High School for upgrades to the school’s library and media centers;
  • $225,000 for improvements to the library at Sheepshead Bay High School;
  • $200,000 for classroom technology purchases at Joseph B. Cavallaro I.S. 281;
  • $100,000 for classroom technology purchases at P.S. 169;

Local elected officials joined Adams during the announcement this morning to celebrate the funding.

“School libraries and media centers are essential to the success of today’s high school students,” said Assemblymember Helene Weinstein. “I thank Brooklyn Borough President Adams for this funding, which will enhance these services at Sheepshead and James Madison High Schools, and allow students to reach even greater heights.”

“Investing in education is the best investment we can make for the future of our state and country,” said Assemblymember William Colton. “These capital improvements will help bring much-needed technological advancements to our local Brooklyn schools that will better our children. This $200,000 capital grant for I.S. 281 will allow for the school to make technology improvements, including by purchasing smartboards and computer laptops, that will benefit our students by enhancing their learning experience, and provide valuable resources for our educators.”

deutsch-flier

UPDATE: The trip is booked up and they are not taking any more reservations.

Original post:

Does 30 years old count as a senior? According to Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s office (and most sane people), the answer is “No,” because they’re not letting this reporter go on the trip.

But if you’re a bonafide senior, even if you don’t feel like one, you can take the local pol up on his offer of a free trip to Governors Island next Thursday, September 18.

The trip includes free transportation to the island from the Sheepshead Bay area, as well as a bus tour of the island’s architecture and other sites narrated by a National Parks Service guide.

All you have to do is call (718) 368-9176 to reserve a spot.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Nobody beats the ‘witz, at least not in the 2014 primary elections.

Fourteen-year incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz won his party’s nod for reelection to the 45th Assembly District last night in one of the closest elections in the borough. But it was a solid victory for the local pol, who bested challenger Ben Akselrod by a margin nearly double that won during his 2012 matchup against the same candidate.

Cymbrowitz gave his victory speech just before 11pm last night, when his team had tallied up initial reports from approximately 70 percent of precincts.

“It was a terrific campaign. We more than doubled our victory from two years ago,” he said of the preliminary numbers that came in before all votes were counted. “I want to thank every part of my community … This was really very, very special.”

Preliminary results from the Board of Elections show Cymbrowitz with 2,137 votes, or 57.2 percent of the total, versus Ben Akselrod’s 1,599 votes, or 42.8 percent. In both percentage and actual votes, Cymbrowitz showed sizable gains over his opponent, who he beat by just eight points, or 294 votes in 2012. The margin this year was 538 votes, or 14 points.

Voters may not have seen the last of Ben Akselrod in this campaign season, however. The candidate filed an opportunity to ballot on the Republican line, a procedure that could have him in the general election if he organized enough write-in votes from Republican voters yesterday. The Board of Election will take several weeks to count, review and certify those ballots to make it official.

The win appeared to surprise some political observers, who believed Cymbrowitz’s strength had been diminished by the growing political influence of Russian and Jewish voters in the district that they believed would fall more heavily to Askelrod, who is both Russian and Orthodox Jewish.

It was a tough fought and, at times, nasty campaign, with allegations of voter harassment on the Sabbath, mysterious race-tinged fliers, and anonymous phone calls that attacked the incumbent’s wife for not being Jewish.

Cymbrowitz alluded to one of those negative attacks in his victory speech.

“I particularly want to thank [my wife] Vilma for not only being a great support, but keeping her cool when she had to when the attacks started coming,” he said.

Cymbrowitz will now move on to the general elections on November 4, where he’ll face off against Mikhail Usher, who is running on the Conservative Party line, and possibly Akselrod on the Republican line.

Primary Day is upon us, so we’ve compiled some information to make voting as easy as possible.

  • Polls are open from 6am to 9pm. You can find where you should vote, as well as see a sample ballot, here. For example, neighbors living in the 45th Assembly District (Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Midwood) are going to see a ballot that looks like this.
  • If you need further help locating your polling place, you can call the city’s voter phone bank at 866-VOTE-NYC.
  • The city Campaign Finance Board also has a good resource page, detailing how and where to vote, who your candidates are, district maps and more.
  • The city Board of Elections has said that polling places should be accessible to handicapped voters, but if you find barriers to voting, you can call the Brooklyn Board of Elections at (718) 797-8800.
  • Additionally, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office will operate a statewide election day hotline, at which you can speak with attorneys about problems at the polls, which will be open until the polls close at 9pm. Schneiderman is encouraging voters to report issues or problems at polls by calling (800) 771-7755 or emailing civil.rights@ag.ny.gov at any time until 9pm.

And, of course, if you encounter problems at the polls, you can let us know in the comments below or by emailing editor@sheepsheadbites.com.

Statewide Races

Every Democrat in New York State has the opportunity to vote in today’s primary, in which Governor Andrew Cuomo is being challenged for the party’s nod on the left by both Zephyr Teachout and Randy Credico. Cuomo is expected to win by a wide margin, but the race is being seen as a measure of dissatisfaction against the incumbent. Teachout, a Fordham professor who lives in Fort Greene, has been embraced by the city’s progressives for criticizing Cuomo as a lackluster economic moderate who has failed to come through on a promise to clean up Albany. The third candidate, Credico, who is also running on the Green line, is prioritizing reforms in the criminal justice system primarily by legalizing marijuana and releasing non-violent offenders.

There is also a Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, where Cuomo’s handpicked choice Kathy Hochul is being challenged by Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu. Hochul, an upstate moderate and former Congressional representative, has been on the ropes for most of the campaign, defending her liberal record to progressives. Both Wu and Teachout have used her as a prop to suggest Cuomo is more conservative than he lets on. Wu’s priorities are fighting corruption and dismantling corporate monopolies, while Hochul is focusing on the NY DREAM Act and the Women’s Equality Act.

For more on these candidates, check out the League of Women Voters’ Vote411.org project and WNYC’s Election Guide, both of which include questionnaires and profiles of each.

For an insider’s view of primary day, check out the guides from the New York Observer and Capital NY.

Local Races

Locally, the two races to watch are for the 45th District of the State Assembly and the 19th District of the State Senate.

Incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz is fending off a challenge from Ben Akselrod for the Democratic ticket. Akselrod lost to Cymbrowitz in 2012 by just a few hundred votes. Cymbrowitz has spent much of his campaign discussing his legislative record, especially in his role as chairman of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee, and arguing that his seniority in the legislative body will allow him to do more for the community. Akselrod has largely sought to seize on popular resentment of the government’s response to Superstorm Sandy, as well as positioning himself as the faith values candidate for the Jewish community. You can read our coverage of Cymbrowitz here, and Akselrod here.

In the 19th District of the State Senate, incumbent John Sampson is fending off challenges from two well-organized candidates, Dell Smitherman and Sean Henry, as well as other contenders. Sampson is in hot water with the law, and is awaiting trial on charges of embezzling $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed homes to be used for a failed political campaign, as well as for lying to federal investigators. Smitherman, a union organizer, has lined up the backing of organized labor. Henry, an advocate for the homeless, has performed well in fundraising and is pledging to address issues of poverty and foreclosure plaguing much of the district. Read our coverage of Sampson, Smitherman and Henry.

– Additional reporting by Ned Berke.

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