Archive for the tag 'john liu'

MBCG boardmembers, including new president Judy Baron (left) and outgoing president Ira Zalcman (right) pose with Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer

MBCG boardmembers, including new president Judy Baron (left) and outgoing president Ira Zalcman (right) pose with Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer

The Manhattan Beach Community Group met earlier this month for their 72nd annual general membership meeting, an end-of-year celebration where new officers are installed and the year’s accomplishments celebrated. This year’s event carried extra weight as the group’s president, Ira Zalcman, said goodbye after seven years of leadership, and the group passed an amendment to its bylaws intended to create peace with its rival neighborhood group.

The December 4 event – which we must note with regret has taken far too long to find its way to our website – drew nearly 200 neighbors, as well as a broad swath of incoming and outgoing elected officials.

Most significantly, the group passed an amendment to its bylaws that they hope will end a bitter six-year feud with the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, a rivalry that many say has divided the community, and diminished its power to effect positive changes in the area.

The new bylaws create an exception for members of the “other group” to rejoin the MBCG as directors without having to wait the requisite two years. Passed with only one objection, by MBNA member Ed Eisenberg, the motion provisions for the group’s president to appoint as many as four members of the MBNA to the MBCG’s board, so long as the MBNA agrees to dissolve.

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Members of the community gathered to recognize the efforts of the officers of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South, 60th Precinct, 61st Precinct and 62nd Precinct and the FDNY at the Be Proud Foundation’s annual appreciation luncheon on Friday.

“We’re so happy to share with you this celebration of those who keep us safe,” said Be Proud Foundation Executive Director Raisa Chernina, who noted that it’s also the 10th anniversary of the community booster organization. “I’m so happy to do this for you,” she said to the approximately 20 local officers attending the event.

It’s the eighth year of the event, and was held at the newly opened Signature Restaurant at 2007 Emmons Avenue. Officers were treated to lunch and a live musical performance by Nutsa, a well-known Georgian performer, as well as a barrage of praise from local elected officials.

“I’m so very thankful to see all our defenders, who we’re so grateful for keeping us safe every night,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who emceed the luncheon. “We need to build upon the institution of the Community Affairs officers if we want to build a relationship between community and police.”

The event drew other elected officials, including Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch, Comptroller John Liu, Assemblyman Alan Maisel and representatives for Councilman Lew Fidler, Congressman Michael Grimm, and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.

A member of the Be Proud Foundation’s board also offered a touching thank you, describing how a family member had fallen in with a bad crowd and became addicted to drugs. With the help of officers from the 60th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit, the family member is now in rehabilitation and on the right path.

The officers in attendance said they were thankful for the show of support.

“We appreciate things like this,” said Inspector Schell, a former commander at the 60th Precinct who now works out of Brooklyn South. “It’s a sign that our work is beneficial and you like the cops. We’re here to serve you.”

View photos from the event.

City Councilman Lew Fidler. Photo by Erica Sherman

City Councilman Lew Fidler. Photo by Erica Sherman

Democrats across the city are rallying behind the perceived inevitability of Bill de Blasio becoming the Democratic nominee after the candidate narrowly slipped by the trigger for a runoff in the preliminary vote count, and are urging Bill Thompson to concede his desire for a recount to force to a runoff. Councilman Lew Fidler, though, is not one of them. An ardent supporter of Bill Thompson, he’s urging his friend to keep the campaign alive.

In the first returns, it appears that de Blasio just barely eclipsed the 40 percent margin needed to avoid a runoff with Thompson, who finished second with 26.2 percent of the vote. If a recount does find de Blasio under the 40 percent threshold, Thompson and his supporters are hoping that voters who cast ballots for Christine Quinn, John Liu and Anthony Weiner could be persuaded to make up the difference. This is exactly what Thompson supporter Fidler is banking on, striking a defiant anti-de Blasio tone in his remarks to the Daily News.

“When people realize what they’ve done, they’ll reconsider and vote for Thompson,” Fidler said.

Fidler’s stern support of Thompson is flying in the face of a bevvy local Democrats, who once endorsed the likes of Quinn and Thompson, jump ship and back de Blasio. A report by Politicker made a long list of politicians and labor groups switching to Team de Blasio:

The Democratic and labor establishment, however, has indicated they have little appetite for another primary race. Indeed, the two Democrats who will be locked in a citywide runoff for public advocate, Councilwoman Tish James and State Senator Daniel Squadron, were among those endorsing Mr. de Blasio today.

“There are two reasons we are supporting Bill de Blasio. He tells the truth, and he’s a fighter for the middle class, working class and poor. That’s an awfully good combination, and we’re excited to get behind his campaign,” Dan Cantor, executive director of the WFP, in a statement. “Bill de Blasio has dedicated himself to addressing the soaring inequality that characterizes New York.”

Despite all the momentum that the de Blasio campaign is mounting, Fidler had strong words for anyone who backed Thompson and are now considering supporting de Blasio.

“Grow a pair and don’t rush to judgment,” Fidler told the Daily News.

When asked if Fidler’s hard line against de Blasio would melt if Thompson was defeated once and for all, Fidler wouldn’t give an inch.

“I’m not prepared to answer that,” Fidler said, adding that, “I am going to be with Bill Thompson until the last vote is counted.”


Council Candidate Ari Kagan

Fierce campaigning and bitterness is quickly becoming the hallmark in the battle to win the departing Michael Nelson’s City Council seat. Politicker is reporting that Democratic candidate Ari Kagan and Republican David Storobin are running tough campaigns to win over the predominantly Russian voting block in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.

Both Kagan and Storobin played host to mayoral hopefuls touring Brighton Beach over the weekend. Storobin enjoyed an endorsement by Republican front runner Joe Lhota while Kagan took Comptroller John Liu to the Tatiana Restaurant. Kagan was quick to downplay Lhota’s endorsement of Storobin as a transparent ploy.

“[Mr. Storobin] will play the Giuliani angle,” Kagan told Politicker, “He will say, ‘This is the guy who worked for Giuliani, he is endorsing me.’ People are very sophisticated, especially in Russian-speaking communities and in Orthodox Jewish communities, American and Chinese communities … people are not stupid.”

Storobin responded by attempting to discredit Kagan’s credibility, lack of experience and ability to drive a car.

“The guy has never had a full-time job in his life. That gentleman has been campaigning for about 15 years. And like I said, he’s never had a full-time job in his life. He doesn’t even own a driver’s license. For a 46-year-old, I don’t know if that’s too much work experience,” Storobin said.

Politicker described the history of the two men’s rise to the political scene and why they dislike each other so much:

Mr. Kagan and Mr. Storobin are emblematic of the emerging political clout of Russian-Americans in Brooklyn. Running in a district represented by the term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson–who replaced current mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner when Mr. Weiner was elected to Congress in 1999–the two candidates saw their electoral fortunes rise when the district’s lines were redrawn this year to rope in larger numbers of Russian-speaking voters in Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island. (Advocates from the Orthodox Jewish enclave in Midwood despaired, fearing a new “super Russian” district would dilute their power base and ensure that the district’s next representative would be less responsive to their needs.)

The hatred between the two men, who both profess close ties to Orthodox Jews, can at least partially be traced to a Russian media mogul. Gregory Davidzon, the owner of an oft-listened to Russian language radio station, is an unabashed political enthusiast, offering endorsements, mailings and robo-calls on behalf of favored candidates. Mr. Kagan, the near victor of a 2006 Assembly race, is one of those candidates; Mr. Storobin is not. When the young attorney upset the Davidzon-backed Councilman Lew Fidler in a drawn-out special election last year, he shocked Mr. Davidzon and much of the political establishment.

The battle over credibility and relevance in the community seems to be an especially sore focal point for both candidates to the point where their remarks exude an almost stubborn childishness. For example, Storobin went on to paint Kagan as an out-of-touch candidate whose supporters are all elderly non-English-speaking Russians.

“Again, he is known almost strictly to the elderly Russian people who listen to one radio station because they don’t speak English.” Storobin told Politicker. “Everyone who knows English knows me better … Even with the younger Russian people–and by younger I mean anyone under 65–they all know who I am. Nobody outside of the Russian retirees knows who he is. Literally has next to zero name ID.”

In response, Kagan noted that he became involved in community matters as soon as he arrived to America in 1997.

“I think I know local issues significantly more than him,” Kagan said. “I was at the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Park [in Sheepshead Bay] for example, in 1997 … Ask anybody in 1997, if they ever heard his name anywhere. He said, ‘I was young,’ but I came to America when I was 26 years old and I became involved the very next day.”

State Senator Marty Golden (Photo By Erica Sherman)

State Senator Marty Golden (Photo By Erica Sherman)

State Senator Marty Golden sponsored a bill that provides huge tax breaks for Manhattan luxury apartment building developers. The New York Daily News is reporting that legislation backed by Golden designates tax breaks for five developments, costing the city tens of millions of dollars as the city wrangles with an already starved budget.

One of the buildings eligible for a tax break includes One57, a massive 75-story luxury apartment development being built near Central Park. Believing that the legislation will help create jobs, Golden otherwise pleaded ignorance when questioned on the breaks.

“These projects were ready to go,” Golden told the Daily News. “I’m not sure where they came from,” Golden said in response to who earmarked the developments for special favor.

The bill’s sponsor in the Assembly, Keith Wright, a Manhattan Democrat, was also unsure for who and why the tax breaks were included.

“These five properties — it was important that they benefit from the piece of legislation probably, and I don’t know why, because some of the folks in the Senate wanted them to be included,” Wright told the Daily News.

The answer as to why the developments got special favors was not surprising. The Daily News discovered that significant campaign contributions were made to various state campaign committees:

The developers of four of the projects, their relatives and affiliated companies gave $1.5 million to various state campaign committees during 2008-12 — including $440,962 last year, records show.

The contributions included $53,000 to the state Senate Republican campaign treasury, $34,000 to the war chest of Assembly Democrats and $150,000 to the campaign of Gov. Cuomo, who signed the bill Jan. 30.

Advocates of campaign finance reform saw this measure as another example of how the system is broken.

“That real estate developers were able to win such a huge giveaway is a reflection of . . . just how broken the current campaign finance system is,” Jaron Benjamin, president of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, told the Daily News. “The reason Albany lawmakers agreed to spend millions subsidizing luxury housing for the wealthy is clear: Developers who contributed to their campaigns . . . expected to be rewarded.”

City Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu sent out a press release today blasting the actions of the Senate and Assembly.

“Extending tax breaks to super-luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan is wrongheaded and shows grossly misplaced priorities. It’s sad and outrageous that billionaires get huge subsidies while the Rent Guidelines Board considers significant rent increases for millions of New Yorkers. It’s especially galling that the tax abatement in question, called 421-a, was meant to promote construction of affordable housing,” Liu said in the release.

The Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition (FJCC), an organization comprised of a broad spectrum of community and business leaders dedicated to safeguarding the interests of the greater Flatbush Jewish community, has organized the second mayoral forum to take place locally.

The forum, to be held in Midwood, begins tonight at 8:00 p.m. Unlike last week’s forum, which did touch on topics of Jewish interest but also swung to broader issues for the general public, tonight’s forum will focus largely on frum issues.

According to organizers, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio, John Liu and Anthony Weiner have all confirmed their participation.

The event takes place at P.S. 193 Gil Hodges School, 2515 Avenue L (corner Bedford Avenue).

For more information, e-mail

Clockwise, from left, City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasion, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Photos courtesy of Bill Thompson for Mayor, Bill de Blasio (Flickr) and Erica Sherman

Clockwise, l-r: City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, 42nd City Comptroller Bill Thompson, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Photos courtesy of Bill Thompson for Mayor, Bill de Blasio (Flickr) and Erica Sherman

The Jewish Press is inviting the community to attend a mayoral forum with Democratic candidates Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, and Bill Thompson this Wednesday, May 29, at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, 60 West End Avenue. The forum starts at 8:15 p.m. Attendees should arrive by 7:50 p.m.

The organizers have told Sheepshead Bites that Anthony Weiner was sent an invitation last week, after announcing his candidacy for mayor. He had not yet replied by the end of last week. 

Organizers have informed Sheepshead Bites that Anthony Weiner formally accepted their invitation, and will appear at the debate. (Updated 5/29/2013 at 1:00 p.m.)

If you have a question that you would like the candidates to answer, submit it via email to  (write “Mayoral forum” in the subject line), and The Jewish Press will select the best questions for inclusion in the forum.

Marty Golden, Photo By Erica Sherman

As the upcoming mayoral race heats up, sharp battle lines between Democrats and Republicans are being drawn. The latest hot-button issue centers around City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s plan to create a special new oversight committee that would monitor and review NYPD policies and procedures, according to a report by the New York Post.

The new agency, dubbed the Inspector General’s Office (IGO), would challenge many controversial policing methods, most famously the stop-and-frisk program, which critics believe overwhelmingly target blacks and Hispanics. The IGO would be placed in the city’s Department of Investigation, the department in charge of investigating all city agencies. The IGO would not take the place of the NYPD’s Internal Affairs, which would still handle individual cases of police misconduct.

According to the Post, Quinn has enough Council votes to pass the measure, even in the face of a mayoral veto by Bloomberg.

Ex-cop and current State Senator Marty Golden blasted Quinn’s plan as “pathetic, sad” and “a setback for the city and the safety of the children.” GOP mayoral candidate, Joe Lhota, also derided the plan.

“Building another bureaucracy is not the answer,” the Post reported Lhota saying at a mayoral debate.

The issue of stop-and-frisk also divided Democrats when former comptroller Bill Thompson rebuked current comptroller John Liu’s call to end the practice.

“I’m worried also about my son being shot by someone who’s a member of a gang in the street.”

For his part, Liu, echoing comments made by Quinn and Thompson, promised to hire thousands of new officers if elected.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve been reporting on the possibility of casinos coming to New York City and New Yorkers’ lukewarm opposition to them. As the mayoral race becomes more a thing, the question arises as to where our future mayors stand on the issue. City and State recently got the skinny on where our would-be leaders stand on bringing glitzy gambling to the five boroughs and here is the breakdown:

  • City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D): While she thinks its a bad idea, if the state legalizes gambling, she said she would consider the possibility of a NYC-based casino.
  • Former MTA Chief Joe Lhota (R): Supportive. He believes that the success of the Resorts World Casino in Southeast Queens speaks to the idea that New Yorkers would be excited for a casino if it was located far enough from communities.
  • City Comptroller John Liu (D): He thinks its a good idea as long as its not easy to get to. He is worried about people having too easy access and gambling away their savings, so placing the casino in an isolated space, like Governors Island, appeals to him.
  • Adolfo Carrión (I): Agrees with Liu. Wants the casino built somewhere on the city’s waterfront.
  • CEO of Manhattan Media Tom Allon (R): Against legalizing gambling altogether.
  • Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson (D): Wouldn’t support one way or the other. Believes that New Yorkers must decide themselves.

Candidates Bill de Blasio, John Catsimatidis and George McDonald were either not available to comment or declined to do so. We look forward to hearing their views well before the election.

The mayoral candidates at last Friday’s debate. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: In Part 1 of this series, I reported on the candidates’ positions regarding major transit issues. In Part 2, I addressed financial issues. Now we will discuss safety, and sum up.

The first half of the conference addressed safety, both for transit employees as well as passengers. It is an issue that has been in the headlines recently and is a major concern for both parties.

The union implied that the number of passengers falling onto the tracks is increasing, stating that four people fell just during the past week. They did not mention their heavily criticized plan to slow down trains to make the subways safer. This issue was also not addressed further by the panelists.

Union officials mentioned that in 2010, there were the most service cuts ever, and also the most incidents of employee assaults. The question asked was: Is there a correlation between the 2010 service cuts and the rise in incidents of employee assaults?

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