Archive for the tag 'michael nelson'

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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Deutsch, following his primary victory.

After a strong showing in the 48th District City Council race to replace term-limited Michael Nelson, Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch has sent out a press release thanking voters, and said he’s hitting the ground running.

According to the release, Deutsch has continued to walk the neighborhood thanking voters and listening to constituent concerns, and he’ll continue to do so for the next 60 days until he takes office on January 1, 2014.

“After a long campaign season, many candidates take a well deserved vacation, I decided to get to work immediately” said Deutsch in the release. “Quality of life issues rank high on my list and I intend on being an aggressive, problem solver for my district.”

“I want to sincerely thank all those that supported me and look forward to working hard on behalf of all my constituents,” he added.

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.

Many say Davidzon (right) is only running to cause Storobin (left) to lose, but it might mean losing out on business for the media mogul.

Many say Davidzon (right) is only running to cause Storobin (left) to lose, but it might mean losing out on business for the media mogul.

A high-ranking source in the Brooklyn Republican Party is elated that Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon is throwing his hat into the ring with a surprise write-in campaign for the 48th Council District, saying that it’ll prove whether or not his support is worth paying for.

Davidzon has long held himself up as the “kingmaker” of the Russian community, a title that picked up traction in the mainstream political press after his support helped garner wins in the Russian community for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Comptroller John Liu and, most surprisingly, Congressman Bob Turner.

But the kingmaker’s power has come under doubt in the last few election cycles, having failed to earn wins for candidates he supported, including Lew Fidler in his race for State Senate against David Storobin, Ben Akselrod in his bid to unseat Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, and, most recently, Ari Kagan in his race for the 48th District Democratic primary.

The recent record has some politicos wondering if it means the power broker’s influence is ebbing.

“It’s a free poll for us,” a high-ranking source in the Republican Party leadership, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sheepshead Bites. “We can finally see how much support he’ll bring in. It’ll be a way to tell if it’s worth paying for.”

The source was referring to the consulting fees Davidzon commands in return for advertising, on-air support and Davidzon’s personal endorsement, for which candidates have been known to pay upwards of $10,000. Many have turned to the broadcaster and publisher after he gained a reputation for an almost slavish following of Russian-American seniors who vote at his whim.

That means the write-in campaign could be bad for business if Davidzon fails to garner much support in the race, as it could prove that fan-base a profitable myth.

“I’m dying to see what he can do now. If he gets two percent of the vote, it’s not worth fighting for his support anymore,” said the GOP source.

Davidzon has spent the last several days making phone calls to those in both parties seeking endorsement, having won several prominent ones already from both parties. But, our source, who was also approached, said that Davidzon disclosed that he has no hopes for winning the race, only at causing Republican contender David Storobin to lose.

“He’s acknowledged to me privately that he can’t win, but he just wants to chip away at David’s lead. There’s a bit of a rivalry right now about who really is the king of the Russians,” he said.

He added that Davidzon’s been successful at picking up the support of Republican leaders, since Storobin is on the outs with the party.

“Storobin isn’t well liked in the party right now,” the source said, noting that the party is in the midst of a civil war. [Our source is a supporter of current chairman Craig Eaton].

Still, he said he’d be withholding his support from Davidzon in favor of party loyalty.

“I can’t [support Davidzon]. There’s a Republican in the race, even if we don’t like him, we just can’t do that,” he said.

Our source isn’t the only one staying out of the fray. Republican operative Gene Berardelli, also of Craig Eaton’s Kings County Republican Party, said it’s a lose-lose to get involved.

“As a Republican, I don’t know what to make of it. On the one side, you want someone from your party to win, on the other you don’t want to offend Davidzon because he can get you votes in the future,” said Berardelli. “This is one of those situations where you just back away very slowly.”

He added that some of the support Davidzon has received, like that of Democratic Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny and Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan, endorsements that have baffled Democratic Party leadership, comes from fear of losing the mogul’s support down the line.

“He’s one of those guys where you go against him, and you offend him, he will never forget,” said Berardelli, noting the Brook-Krasny faces reelection next year.



Proclaimed “Kingmaker” of the Russian-American community Gregory Davidzon has announced a write-in campaign for the 48th District of the City Council, a seat currently occupied by term-limited Michael Nelson, and for which three prominent candidates are already vying.

Davidzon announced his campaign during an hour-long segment on his radio station, Davidzon Radio, yesterday, touting his experience as a “successful businessman and community leader.” He hopes to beat out two other Russian-American candidates, Republican David Storobin and Working Families’ Igor Oberman, and Democrat Chaim Deutsch, an Orthodox Jew.

Support for the candidates in the race has largely been split along ethnic lines.

“I realize that this is an unusual undertaking, however, I was encouraged by many members of the community − ordinary residents and political leaders − to run. While I do have the backing of elected officials from both political parties, I made it clear to them that I always have been and will remain independent; focused fully on what is best for the community and the people,” Davidzon said in a press release.

Davidzon is not a member of any political party, and is not registered to vote.

The owner of a Russian-language radio station and newspaper, Davidzon said the issues he hopes to promote include public safety and quality education, saying he supports “school choice.” In his press release, he spoke out against taxes, as well as fines, fees and other charges the city has been using to drum up revenues.

The write-in candidate is no lark: he’s already garnered the support of District Leader Ari Kagan, who lost the Democratic bid in the race to Deutsch. Kagan is also an employee of Davidzon’s. Other surprise endorsements include that of Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny, and various Democratic and Republic district leaders from around the area.

His Democratic Party-backed opponent, Deutsch, shied away from commenting on the development.

“We’re not interested in talking about our opponents,” a spokesperson for Deutch told YWN. “What we’re interested in is talking to the residents of southern Brooklyn and listening to their concerns about the critical quality of life issues the district faces and how to best address them.”

Storobin, meanwhile, was more forthright, predicting that Davidzon is unlikely to garner more than 100 votes in the race.

“I will make a bet with anyone that he will not break 100 votes,” Storobin told Politicker. “Davidzon has almost the highest negatives of any person in the Russian community, by far the highest negatives.”

Of course, there’s little love lost between Davidzon and Storobin. Davidzon backed Storobin’s opponent, Lew Fidler, in his State Senate race last year, and spilled much Russian-language vitriol on-air about the Republican candidate, spurring an FCC complaint from the candidate.

That’s why some observers believe it’s an attempt to undermine Storobin by dividing the Russian-American community, the largest voting bloc in the district, even further.

“This proves there’s still major bad blood between Storobin and Gregory,” a Brooklyn Democratic source told Politicker. “It’s nothing more than Gregory doing what he can to prevent Storobin from winning.”


Candidates in the council race.

The race to replace Michael Nelson as councilmember for the 48th District is about impossible to predict as the Powerball, but prognosticators have speculated that the issue of securing a “safety net” for the district’s poor and sick might be a major factor. An article in the Jewish Week is reporting that the safety net issue is a top priority for the Jewish community in the district.

Most of the analysis found in the Jewish Week’s report is nothing new, squaring in on the back and forth between Ari Kagan and David Storobin, the name-flap controversy between Kagan and Chaim Deutsch and the all around squabbling that has taken place between all of the candidates.

One interesting new talking point was brought forward by Josh Mehlman, the founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. Mehlman suggested that while the recent district split has empowered Russian voters over the traditionally Jewish dominated voting bloc, many Russians and Jews will be united by their community’s need for government assistance:

“The district split was an intentional misuse of power to attempt to divide our strength at the polls,” said Josh Mehlman, a founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. The neighborhood contains many upper middle class or wealthy homes but also a large concentration of Russians and senior citizens who require assistance. Thirty-nine percent of the Jewish households in the Coney Island/Brighton Beach/Sheepshead Bay area have incomes at the federally defined poor or near-poor levels, according to the Special Report on Poverty of UJA-Federation’s 2011 Jewish Community Study; the figure for the Flatbush/Midwood/Kensington area is 30 percent.

Yet public assistance is an issue that hasn’t really come up much in the debates, and the article itself doesn’t report the candidates’ views. Where do you think they stand, and where do you want them to stand?


Natraj Bhushan

Vying for the Democratic nomination to replace term-limited Michael Nelson in the City Council’s 48th District, Natraj Bhushan is making technology the cornerstone of his platform, saying that a councilman’s office should be a hub for information and innovation.

The 27-year-old Brighton Beach native, son of an Indian father and Pakistani mother, has provided legal assistance to constituents in Nelson’s office during and after Superstorm Sandy. He later moved on to providing services at Councilmember Leory Comerie’s office. His experience in those roles, he said, has inspired him to conceive of software to better empower residents through adding transparency and efficiency to constituent services.

“I believe, if you empower the community to solve its own problems, you don’t need us [elected officials]. We’re in the background. I want to de-emphasize the individual and emphasize the community,” he told Sheepshead Bites. “And I think the way you do that is to give everybody the resources. Give them the information.”

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The leading candidates in the 48th District City Council race to replace term-limited Michael Nelson battled it out at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center during a candidate’s forum held by the Jewish Press last week, expounding on their qualifications for the job and their proposals for improving the district.

Mixed in the melee, which included a handful of attacks on their fellow candidates, the four leading Democrats and one Republican expressed mixed support for participatory budgeting, an innovative plan implemented by some City Council members to provide a more democratic and transparent way of distributing millions of dollars of discretionary funding throughout the district.

Three of the five Democrats – Theresa Scavo, Igor Oberman and Chaim Deutsch – expressed explicit support for participatory budgeting when asked about the need for reform to the process, while the fourth Democrat, Ari Kagan, and the lone Republican, David Storobin, suggested that they would continue to oversee distribution of discretionary funds without holding public meetings, the core characteristic of participatory budgeting.

Read their positions on participatory budgeting, and find out what else happened at the forum.

The Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, Shorefront Jewish Community Council, and The Jewish Press will be holding a town hall meeting with all of the candidates for City Councilmember for the 48th District, August 7, at 7:30 p.m. inside the Regency Room of the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, 60 West End Avenue.

The candidates attending are Chaim Deutsch, Ari Kagan, Igor Oberman, Theresa Scavo, and David Storobin. Audience members will have the opportunity to submit their questions for the candidates, which will be presented during the meeting.


It’s no small secret that a large amount, perhaps even the majority, of Brooklynites living in Zone A failed to heed the city’s call for a mandatory evacuation during Superstorm Sandy. Some felt the storm would not be as devastating as it proved to be, and reflected on the city’s pointless mandatory evacuation during Hurricane Irene the previous year. The failure to evacuate left many in terror as the waters crashed through the streets, and some, including Manhattan Beach resident Cy Schoenfeld, perished when they could not escape the flood.

City Council candidate Igor Oberman told Sheepshead Bites that mandatory evacuations must truly be mandatory if authorities aim to keep residents safe, and is proposing repercussions for those residents who refuse to leave ahead of future storms.

“If you’re going to say it’s a mandatory evacuation, it’s mandatory,” Oberman said of the evacuation orders. “A rule has to have a kind of duel sided charge, that if you don’t follow something ithis is what happens to you. Otherwise, it’s not a rule.”

In advance of Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Office of Emergency Management issued a mandatory evacuation order. However, the mayor made clear that the city would not force people from their homes, instead warning residents that they would be cut off from emergency services during the most perilous hours of the storm – a promise that was kept as police and firefighters largely stayed out of Zone A until the water receded.

But Oberman, who is running to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson, who himself failed to evacuate during the storm, said that’s not good enough, and the city ought to do more. He suggests a series of penalties if one fails to vacate.

Find out what sort of penalties Oberman recommends if you fail to evacuate during a storm.

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