Archive for the tag 'politicians'

buildbackWith the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy soon upon us, state Senator Martin Golden will host Build It Back customer service representatives, tomorrow, October 24, at the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 2750 Gerritsen Avenue from 12pm to 8pm.

The representatives will be on hand to answer questions from those recovering from Sandy.

If you have any questions or need additional information, call Golden’s office at (718) 238-6044 or email golden@nysenate.gov.

Using emergency provisions, the New York City Department of Homeless Services has moved nearly 20 families into the Lyghthouse Inn, an alleged pay-by-hour hotel formerly known as the Windjammer Motel.

Neighbors sounded the alarm over the shelter at the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Meeting October 7, alongside elected officials who criticized the agency for poor communication with the community.

The agency confirmed that the family-oriented shelter opened in early October, and 17 families with children are already moved in. It was carved out of the motel’s 3206 Emmons Avenue property, with a separate entrance through an unmarked door, and there are plans to house as many as 69 families at the location.

“Sheltering New York’s families with children is a collective responsibility to be shoulder by all. We hope that the community is compassionate and supportive as these families work toward rebuilding their lives,” an agency spokesperson said.

Neighbors at the meeting did indeed express compassion for the families, many of which are single mothers or victims of domestic violence. But they were critical of the agency’s lack of communication, and shared concerns about the families’ well-being alongside the hotel’s clients, as well as its proximity to another family shelter just one block away.

“You cannot attack the homeless, the people who are living in there because you’re an elitist or you think you’re hot stuff. That’s wrong. And after what we went through with Sandy, there’s no way in hell you can turn around and say ‘Make them homeless’ when half your neighbors were homeless,” said neighbor Barbara Berardelli.

The group did express concerns about the communication.

“All of a sudden on Thursday evening [October 2], about 5:30, 6 o’clock, big vans pulled up and they started dumping out vans and mattresses and cribs. The next day people were notified, about 4 o’clock, on Yom Kippur, when most offices were closed already, that the shelter was opening,” said civic president Kathy Flynn.

The agency said that elected officials and Community Board 15 were notified of the shelter’s opening as early as mid-September, about two weeks before work began.

But Councilman Chaim Deutsch told the group that it was only being discussed as a possibility, not a certainty.

“They told me nothing was set in stone [during a conference call with the department],” said Deutsch. “The next thing I know, I get a phone call saying, ‘We’re moving furniture in.’”

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein recounted much the same.

Establishing a homeless center is often a process spanning many months, including community feedback and Community Board review. However, the pols explained that the agency used an “Emergency Declaration” to expedite the process – which the agency confirmed it uses during times of “dire capacity needs.” That allows them to temporarily take over the space and do community approval later. The agency will still need to seek approval over the next six months or so, the pols said.

Both Weinstein and Deutsch said they look forward to learning more about the agency’s long-term plans.

Until then, they both remarked on the shelter’s less-than-stellar landlords.

“[When I heard about it,] first I went to the Lyghthouse around the corner. I had to wait in line because people were asking for rooms for two hours, three hours, four hours. So I had to wait in line just like everyone else,” said Deutsch.

“There’s safety issues, there’s security issues, there’s, I guess I’ll put in quotes, ‘patrons’ of the hotel,” said Weinstein. “There are issues that need to be addressed.”

In regards to safety, the agency noted that there will be 24/7 security, though declined to elaborate.

Both pols are looking forward to additional meetings with the agency to address those issues, including potential overcrowding concerns at the nearby elementary school, PS 52.

Still, they admitted there’s little they can do in the short term, especially as the city is in the midst of a homeless housing crisis.

“I believe there’s 57,000 individuals that are homeless. Eleven thousand families that need shelter. That’s a lot of people in New York City, so I accept that we have a responsibility to have a fair share in our community,” said Weinstein.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

By Bailey Wolff

The Bay Ridge Real Estate Board hosted a “Meet the Candidates Event” Wednesday night at the Dyker Heights Golf Course. Present at the forum was four-term incumbent of the 46th District, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, and his opponent, first time political hopeful, Stamatis Lilikakis.

Vice President of the Bay Ridge Real Estate Board Aldo Iemma and his wife Deborah organized the forum in order to establish communication between members of the community and elected officials who represent them in government.

“We want to educate, and encourage connections so that everyone is involved with the political process,” said Deborah Iemma.

Stamatis Lilikakis was the first of the two candidates to speak. He discussed the need to lower taxes to stop the “exodus” of businesses from New York State.

“I actually know what most people in this room feel,” said Lilikakis. “And I’m running for office because I’ve had enough of being a blank check for Albany and for our federal government … my goal is to try and lessen some of that burden.”

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

Running as a Republican-Conservative, Lilikakis said that he has united “different factions” in his party, and if elected, wants to create more opportunities for business and education in the district.

He also spoke about illegal conversions—the process of turning singe-family homes into multi-family, non-permitted housing units. “They’re illegal. They shouldn’t be here. There should be a task force, by the police department and fire department to go in and stop these things.”

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny took the floor after Lilikakis and defined the 46th voting district as “very diverse.”

“From very liberal Coney Island to the more conservative part in Dyker Heights … you have people speaking more than 50 different languages with many different political opinions.” Because of these reasons, Krasny stated, the district needs a “balance minded politician” to represent every member of the district.

“One of the first priorities of every government,” said the assemblyman, “should be supporting the economy and increasing the number of jobs in his district.” He pointed to low state income taxes and universal Pre-K as two of his achievements, but also quoted the statistic that 70 percent of his constituents rely on government funding “in one form or another.” For this reason, he said, “I have to be very careful when cutting taxes.”

When a member of the audience asked Krasny about government funds to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, he quoted recently announced numbers of $25 million to build jetties and $2.9 million for a seawall to protect his district’s waterfront.

“Some services, some departments, some programs—like Build it Back—they didn’t do the right job,” the assemblyman said. “I know as a private citizen what is going on with Build it Back. It’s terrible. But it’s getting better.”

These two opponents will debate at 7:30pm on October 14, at St. Phillip’s Church in Dyker Heights. The church is located on 80th Street and 11th Avenue. The General Elections will be held November 4, 2014.

State Senator Marty Golden (Photo By Erica Sherman)

State Senator Marty Golden (Photo By Erica Sherman)

Federal prosecutors are looking into the campaign finances of State Senator Marty Golden, the pol confirmed.

“The campaign fund is being looked at,” Golden told the New York Post, regarding a probe by United States Attorney Preet Bharara.

The paper reports:

Golden has hired Gottlieb & Gordon, a law firm that specializes in government investigations and white-collar crime defenses, in response to a subpoena from the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office.

… [Golden] said he didn’t know why his campaign fund was being targeted.

Bharara’s office leads the nation in political convictions, having also put away former Sheepshead Bay State Senator Carl Kruger and several others. The prosecutor has not indicted Golden or made any public announcements about its investigation.

Golden was previously being eyed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission before it was disbanded. Bharara’s office took over several of the cases the Moreland panel was looking into.

The New York Post speculated that the commission was eyeing the $541,599 that the pol steered to the Bay Ridge Manor, a catering hall he once owned and is now owned by his brother.

It’s also possible that the probe is looking at activity surrounding multi-million dollar tax breaks given to luxury developers in Manhattan, including a $44 million waiver to Extell Development. The commission sent subpoenas to those developers last summer. Golden sponsored the legislation in the Senate, and pleaded ignorance when asked about it.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

The race for the 45th District of the State Assembly lives on!

Ben Akselrod, a Democrat, has scored the Republican nomination for the 45th Assembly race, allowing him to continue his challenge against incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz until election day on November 4.

Akselrod, president of the Bay Democrats political club, received the most write-in votes – 46 in all – during the Republican primary, allowing him to steal the GOP line for the general election.

There were no candidates backed by the party in the primary, which would normally mean there is no primary and thus no general election candidate. But Republican voters, which sources say were organized by the Akselrod campaign, filed petitions requesting an “opportunity to ballot,” forcing the party to hold a primary to gather write-in votes. The results of the write-ins became public last week.

Steven Cymbrowitz received the second highest amount of write-in votes with 27. There were 11 more write-ins who received one vote each, and Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon snagged two write-in votes. Another 31 write-ins were illegible.

That allows Akselrod to move forward to the general election, but it’s still not clear if he’s going to actively campaign for the seat. Akselrod has not returned a request for comment.

The latest campaign filing for Akselrod shows he only has $3,986.22 on hand. Cymbrowitz, meanwhile, has $36,650.18.

Ozzie Heymann, Akselrod’s campaign manager during the primary, said he wasn’t sure of the candidate’s plans and if he’ll be involved in the general election campaign.

“I don’t know that there would be a campaign. If there would be, I assume that I would be involved. But that hasn’t been decided yet,” Heymann said.

Another close Akselrod supporter, Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan, said Akselrod is unlikely to have a decision before October 15, when the Jewish holidays end. That would leave less than a month to campaign.

The development itself also puts Kagan in an awkward position. In 2012, Kagan unseated longtime district leader Michael Geller, largely on the criticism that Geller had a record of supporting Republican candidates. Now his good friend, political ally, and the chosen president of his Democratic club is running on the GOP line.

Kagan, who is openly critical of Cymbrowitz, said he will stay on the sidelines if Akselrod decides to campaign.

“I’m the Democratic district leader, a strong democrat,” said Kagan. “If [Akselrod] runs as a Republican, there’s a 99 percent chance that I will not support the Republican nominee. But that doesn’t mean I will support the Democratic nominee. I never said anywhere I would just support anyone.”

Kagan also said that he and Akselrod previously discussed the possibility that Akselrod would win the Republican line, and it comes with a consequence.

“If he decides to run on the Republican line, he’ll resign from the Bay Democrats. That’s for sure,” he said.

Despite losing the primary election to Cymbrowitz in 2012, Akselrod was able to move onto the general election on the Independence Party line. That created a three-way race with Russ Gallo as a Republican. Gallo and Akselrod combined took home just shy of 45 percent of the vote, while Cymbrowitz took 55 percent of the vote. Akselrod alone had 19 percent of the vote.

Source: geinography/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of State Senator Marty Golden:

State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), in partnership with American Legion Amity Post 791, is urging community support for a collection drive to support our troops being cared for at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and The Armed Forces Military Nursing Home.

Senator Golden, along with Michael Moylan and Howard Dunn from Amity Post 791, are asking for the community to be generous and donate new board games and new pajamas, for the soldiers and their families. Board games such as Candy Land, Scrabble, Monopoly, Pictionary and many others, provide occupational therapy for the soldiers during hospital rehabilitation. Additionally, new pajamas for men, women and children, are being collected for the military families.

Senator Marty Golden stated, “I commend the members of the Amity Post 791 who are planning a visit later this Fall to our heroes being cared for at Walter Reed. As someone who has been there and met with the soldiers and their families, I can attest to the sacrifices these individuals have made, and to the heroism they have exhibited. These donations will send a message that right here in Brooklyn, we support our troops and will never forget their service.”

Donations can be brought to either of Senator Golden’s Brooklyn district offices located at 7408-5th Avenue (First Floor) and 3604 Quentin Road. Donations of new board games and pajamas will be accepted until Wednesday, November 12th.

For more information on this collection drive, please contact Senator Golden’s office at (718) 238-6044.

savino-1

State Senator Diane Savino fumed on Facebook about cyclists, telling her followers that she drives through her district shouting at the two-wheeled menaces to “find a fucking bike lane and get in it.”

The comment from the pol, who represents Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Coney Island and Bath Beach in addition to Staten Island’s north shore, was in response to a labor lobbyist’s post blasting cycling “apologists” following the Central Park collision that left a pedestrian dead. Another follower suggested requiring bike registration and licensing, to which the pol also said she was “intrigued.”

bikelane-savino

The Daily News reports:

Savino said her comments were meant as a joke but she continued to express frustration with bicyclists who don’t obey traffic laws.

“Unfortunately, those who don’t follow the rules of the road create problems as we saw with that terrible tragedy in Central Park,” Savino said.

“Minimally, there’s got to be greater enforcement,” she continued. “And bikers have to take responsibility for what’s happening. They’re moving sometimes at 40 miles an hour. We just went through the whole process of reducing the city speed limit to 25 miles an hour, unless it is otherwise posted. That should apply to bikes as well. We are all in this together.”

The pol also said she had no plans to introduce new bike safety legislation when she returns to Albany.

DNAinfo went to the author of the blog post that sparked the Facebook discussion:

Eben Weiss, who writes the blog, Bike Snob NYC, drew attention to Savino’s comments on Twitter and on his site on Thursday.

“A state senator bragging on Facebook about engaging in acts of road rage is inappropriate, alarming and representative of a disregard for public safety,” Weiss told DNAinfo New York.

“It’s an insult to her constituents. It’s also totally ironic because the conversational thread that inspired her comment is based on a total misreading of comments I made in which I excoriated reckless bicycling.”

savino-district

Savino’s district

It appears cyclists in her district are taking notice. Streetsblog notes that Brooklyn Spoke author Doug Gordon, a constituent of Savino’s, sent an open invitation for the elected official to ride with him and his two children and see what life is like from the saddle.

I ride my children to school almost every day and then head to work. We bike to swim lessons, gymnastics, birthday parties, parks, and to the grocery store. With or without my children, I have been harassed many times by drivers who think New York City’s streets belong solely to them. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – riding in a bike lane or legally exiting a bike lane to make a turn or avoid an obstruction such as a parked car – there is truly nothing I can do to stop an angry driver who simply doesn’t like bicycles from getting upset with me.

I ask you to kindly join me and my children, along with any other families who would like to come, on a short bike ride. It might be helpful for you to experience what it feels like to bike on New York City streets.

Savino, who lives in Staten Island, is already well-known for her outspoken Facebook posts. In February, for Valentine’s Day, she reminder her colleagues to stop taking photos of their genitals because “no one wants to see your penis pop up in a text message.” She also railed against supporters of indicted Congressman Michael Grimm, who claimed he’s the victim of a conspiracy.

Source: Assemblyman Weinstein's office

Source: Assemblyman Weinstein’s office

Following a hit and run in which a toddler and elderly woman were hospitalized on September 17, a crossing guard is now helping pedestrians get across the road safely at Nostrand Avenue and Kings Highway,

For neighbors, the intersection has long been a nuisance. Heavy traffic, competing police jurisdictions, and a confusing road pattern – the two main avenues, two service roads, and a side street jutting off to the southeast – have frustrated drivers and pedestrians alike. Administrators at a nearby yeshiva pleaded with local leaders for help.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein announced that, beginning today, a crossing guard will be on duty Monday through Thursday during school arrival and dismissal times.

Here’s the press release from Weinstein’s office:

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein is proud to announce that, working closely with the New York Police Department, she successfully secured a new school crossing guard for student and pedestrian assistance at the intersection of Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue.

Recently, local parents of children not eligible for bus service from their schools who walk to school reached out, citing the intersection as one of the most dangerous in Brooklyn.

Previously, the Assemblywoman’s petition for coverage at this junction was denied because the intersection is under the jurisdiction of no less than three NYPD Precincts. The Assemblywoman reached out to Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South who worked diligently to make this a reality.

“Persistence and hard work pays off,” said Joel Weisblum, Executive Director of Yeshiva Derech Hatorah, located at the intersection. “On behalf of the Yeshiva, and more importantly, the beautiful children of our Yeshiva, I would like to thank the Assemblywoman for assistance in getting us this much needed crossing guard.”

“I am extremely happy,” said local parent, Yael S. “We thank Assemblywoman Weinstein and the NYPD for all their efforts on behalf of our children. We now have peace of mind.”

The new guard is on Monday through Thursday from 7:15 to 9:15am, and in the afternoon, during school dismissals, from 2:30 to 5:00pm and Friday, when she is on duty from 10:30 to 1:30pm.

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.

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