Archive for the tag 'quality of life'

Source: sincerelyhiten via flickr

Source: sincerelyhiten/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of State Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

A bill introduced by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) to commission a comprehensive study on the social impact of problem gambling has gained a valuable sponsor in the Senate and was cited during expert testimony at a New York State Gaming Commission Forum today in Albany.

The legislation (A.7836), which authorizes and directs the commissioner of mental health to commission a statewide evaluation regarding the extent of legal and illegal gambling by New York state residents, has attracted the sponsorship of Senator Marty Golden and on April 1 was reported to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

James Maney, Executive Director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, gave the bill a positive mention this morning during the forum on “Addressing Problem Gambling in the Era of Expanded Gaming.”

According to Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, who is Chairman of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the purpose of this bill is to mitigate the social costs related to problem gambling.

A survey conducted by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) found that five percent of adults, or 668,000 individuals, exhibited problem gambling behaviors within the past year. Another survey of seventh through 12th grade students revealed that 10 percent, or 140,000 students, showed signs of problem gambling in the past 12 months and another 10 percent of those students were in need of treatment for problem gambling. Of those students in the survey who were identified as in need of chemical dependency treatment, 45 percent were at risk or in need of treatment for problem gambling.

Research has found that proximity to casinos increases the rate of problem gambling among the local population, said Assemblyman Cymbrowitz. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission showed that casinos within a 50-mile radius of an individual’s home can double the prevalence of problem gambling.

The Buffalo Research Institute on Addiction, in its own study, claimed that having a casino within 10 miles of a home has a significant effect on problem gambling. Currently, New York State has five casinos operated by Native Americans and nine independently operated racinos; combined they operate approximately 29,000 electronic gambling machines, which is more than any state in the Northeast or Midwest. New York continues to expand its existing gaming market and if non-tribal casino gaming is legalized, permitting up to seven new casinos to be established, the risk of more individuals developing a gambling problem could increase significantly.

“While it is important that New York State continue to conduct surveys that determine the prevalence of problem gambling and illustrate the need for prevention and treatment services, additional research that measures the social impact of problem gambling is sorely needed,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. Directing such research would allow the state to pinpoint which social costs associated with problem gambling are most predominant among New York’s identified problem gamblers and have also been detected in communities impacted by the presence of a casino, he noted.

“By having this information, New York State and its public officials will be able to develop a comprehensive plan comprising precise policies and regulations that aim to mitigate the social costs related to problem gambling,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. The information would also enable the problem gambling service providers and the casino industry to implement strategies and interventions that target the specific problem gambling needs of each local community and its citizens, he said.

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Source: Clayton Collier/Twitter

UPDATE (11:55 a.m.): The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an Air Quality Advisory until 11 p.m. tonight. Those with respiratory concerns should reduce outdoor activity.

Original story:

A brush fire in a state park in New Jersey is throwing up smoke, blowing north into New York City, filling communities in Southern Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island with an acrid smell this morning.

The New York Post reports:

“Due to a brush fire in the Wharton State Park in New Jersey, residents in Staten Island & Brooklyn may smell smoke,” tweeted the NYC Office of Emergency Management at around 1:45 a.m.

The nearly 123,000-acre park, located in Burlington County, is roughly 70 miles from the southern tip of New York City. Odors were reported from Staten Island to Brooklyn and Manhattan.

DNAinfo adds:

About 30 acres of the park ignited Sunday night and sent a plume of smoke into the sky that could be seen from miles around, according to NBC, which added that the flames haven’t injured anyone or burned any buildings.

The smoke smell remained in the area until late morning.

An AP report says no one has been injured and no structures damaged in the fire. As of 9:30 a.m., firefighters had managed to contain about 30 percent of the blaze.

Source: _chrisUK/Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: Since the snow and ice evaporated, most drivers probably assumed maneuvering along city streets would be trouble-free. But now they have to deal with another aggravating upshot generated by this year’s severe weather — a plague of potholes. They’re not nearly as harsh as the 10 plagues God smite on the Egyptians in Exodus, but the proliferation of gaps and fissures in the pavement are, nonetheless, plentiful and problematical.

Under ordinary conditions the city’s roads are rough enough, but after two months of wicked weather and frigid temperatures, those thoroughfares have taken a licking and keep on cracking, creating one final winter souvenir — an obstacle course that scars our streets. Drivers who don’t avoid those fissures typically experience unnerving jolts or, worse, costly vehicle damage.

The only roads likely to be worse than our pothole-peppered streets may be those pitted with bomb craters in war-torn Afghanistan.

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I wonder if there's a policy about taking trees on the subway... (Source: NYRP/Flickr)

I wonder if there’s a policy about taking trees on the subway… (Source: NYRP/Flickr)

The New York Restoration Project, a non-profit dedicated to building greenspaces and the lead partner of the MillionTreesNYC initiative, is going all out this spring with a huge giveaway of 12,000 trees distributed directly to residents throughout New York City.

Here are some details from the group:

NYC home and property owners can choose from over 90 events where they can pick up trees to bring home and plant in their front or back yards. Participants can visit www.nyrp.org/treegiveaways to check out dates and locations and find out more. They can register online approximately two weeks in advance, to reserve a tree. If registration is full, a limited number of trees is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the event. We’re offering popular tree species, including various dogwood, fig, magnolia and serviceberry trees to New Yorkers. Aside providing cleaner air, planting trees has many benefits, including enhanced curb appeal, offset of climate change, cooler temperatures, and more.

Giveaways are scheduled between March and May for Marine Park, Coney Island, Gravesend, Borough Park, Bay Ridge and elsewhere – so there’s no shortage of nearby locations to pick one up in the coming months. Just check their schedule and register in advance.

The MillionTreesNYC program is a public-private initiative. Seventy percent of the trees will be planted in parks and public spaces, while 30 percent are being given to private organizations, homeowners and community groups. More than 800,000 trees have been distributed to date.

garbage

The photo above was taken this morning on Avenue U and East 14th Street.

According to reader Tracy M., it’s indicative of “the appalling state of the neighborhood, post snow. This pic was taken this morning at Ave U and East 14. I could have gone for blocks taking similar pictures.”

We saw Sanitation workers catching up on residential streets this morning, and with the snow they surely have had a lot on their plates these last few weeks. But we’re inclined to agree: there’s no real excuse for what you see above.

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A woman attempts to pass beneath the B/Q line at Avenue Y, a daunting task.

New York City residents and business owners are required to clear their sidewalks after snow storms or face heavy fines from city authorities. But city agencies have failed to clear many public sidewalks and those abutting government property, suggesting a double standard that puts pedestrians at risk.

With 48 inches of snow falling over the course of 22 days since January 1, deadbeat landlords who’ve failed to shovel paths have become a reviled caricature in New York City. Currently, they could face fines of $150, and a local City Council member has introduced new legislation that would direct city workers to clear private sidewalks and forward the bill to the property owner.

But while city workers may one day be deployed to clear private sidewalks, Sheepshead Bites has found a number of government-owned sidewalks that those same city workers have failed to clear.

Among the worst spots this publication surveyed yesterday are the underpasses of the B/Q Brighton line, all located between East 15th Street and East 16th Street. From Sheepshead Bay Road to Kings Highway, not one of the half dozen underpasses without a subway station had clear paths shoveled on both sides of the street, and even some of those with a subway station were left uncleared. In most locations, the northern side of the street was partially shoveled, while the southern side remained untouched.

Keep reading to learn whose responsibility it is, and view the pictures of their neglect.

construction

A long-standing sidewalk obstacle in front of the derelict Maimonides clinic at 3121 Ocean Avenue is finally being fixed, with contractors on the scene yesterday.

The site was previously a pit covered by a foot-tall concrete slab and surrounded by barricades.

Here’s what it looked like when we passed by in October:

construction2

It was covered in trash and debris, and was long on my to-do list for griping here on this site. It bothered me because it not only attracted garbage and was a fairly horrendous eyesore, but also because it was an obstacle that took up a huge portion of sidewalk. Next door to the site is the Bainbridge Center, an adult daycare facility. So it’s fair to assume the area is pretty highly trafficked by seniors and the disabled.

A contractor on the scene told us it was a telephone utility manhole damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Looking into the pit while they worked, it was deep and empty. While the contractor blamed Sandy, I recall this being a problem spot long before the storm, with the sidewalk broken and raised up. I can’t remember if they began the work before the storm, but I believe they did.

It also bothered me because it was supposed to be fixed nearly a year ago. A sign on the site over the summer indicated it was a ConEd job, not a telephone utility, and work was supposed to be done by February:

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That never happened. Some time in the fall this sign was spray painted so that the construction information could not be read. Covering tracks much? Maybe.

Hopefully they finish the work quickly and responsibly. It’ll be nice for neighbors to have their sidewalk back, instead of covered in construction and trash.

Um, does it run Google Hangout? (Source: Alexandre Dulaunoy/Flickr)

BETWEEN THE LINES: Whether or not your candidate was elected, the end of the 2013 political campaign season surely delighted Brooklynites frustrated by months of annoying, unsolicited reaching-out-and-touching calls from local and citywide political campaigns.

Even if you added residential landline and mobile telephone numbers to the national Do Not Call Registry, which limits most telemarketing calls you’d rather not receive, politicians continue to bombard us with live and automated calls since they are exempt from the ruling.

It’s time to amend that regulation and punish politicians, like telemarketing violators, up to $16,000 per complaint! Well-financed campaigns could set aside funds to cover this, while those with smaller campaign chests can just continue the cut-rate alternative — stuffing our mailboxes with equally unwanted brochures and leaflets.

Some may insist it’s a Freedom of Speech issue, but that’s Bullshit — with a capital “B”! Politicians commonly support and enact legislation that specifically exclude them from rules and regulations that apply to the very same people who elect them to serve.

There’s little argument that one of the most appreciated byproducts of the technological age is the national Do Not Call list. For those who may be unsure how to stop telemarketers from inundating you with inconvenient calls, log on to www.donotcall.gov, and enter each of your phone numbers. Within 31 days, most, but not all, telemarketers are supposed to stop calling. Except for political messages. Like the Energizer bunny, they just keep coming and coming, particularly in the weeks and months before an election.

According to the Federal Trade Commission website, political solicitations are not covered by the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) that was part of the 1991 Telephone Protection Act. Political spam, according to the regulation, is not considered “telemarketing.” Just more political skulduggery that sets elected officials apart from the population that elects them.

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mm_subway_sweetspot_roman_kruglov

Sheepshead Bay Station

In a bombshell investigative report, the New York Post has learned that subway stations and platforms, even in the glitziest sections of Manhattan, are disgusting and visually unpleasing.

The stunning findings, courtesy of the rider advocacy group the Straphangers Campaign, included eyewitness testimony from New Yorkers, flabbergasted at how poorly maintained the platforms are:

Juan Perez, 48, who uses the Chambers Street J/Z station, said the platform there is one of the dingiest he has seen…

“It looks like it hasn’t been retiled since the 1920s,” he said. “It’s falling apart.”…

“It’s gritty and it’s not a good representation of our city,” said Harry Dubin, an Upper East Sider who uses the City Hall stop to visit his sister and her family at a luxury condo nearby.

“It’s rundown and a dump.”

The study noted the presence of rats, crumbling tiles, overflowing garbage bins and graffiti as major factors contributing to the negative experience expressed by New Yorkers. According to experts, the technical term for this experience is known as “reality.”

All joking aside, the numbers gathered by the Starphangers Campaign study are depressing. According to the report, 74 percent of all stations need fresh paint jobs and a whopping 82 percent of all underground platforms suffer from significant water damage.

The MTA defended the shitty quality of the stations by claiming that their focus, rightly so, is on addressing safety issues first and foremost. Still, it would be amazing to one day see the century of grime and filth, caked into and onto the station floors and walls, washed clean. Hey, I’ll stop dreaming, it’s not like New York is the greatest city in the world or anything. Why would New Yorkers ever even dream of commuting to their homes and jobs if it wasn’t a journey through abject grossness?

garbage

So this is what I stumbled across on my walk to the coffee shop this morning, a putrid stream of slop and waste stretching a quarter of a block long, and filling the air with rancid scent.

The mess is in front of Chikurin, at 1702 Avenue Z. Unfortunately, I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve seen this. Over the past few weeks, there have been at least three instances of spilled waste, including a full bucket of grease knocked over into the tree bed, poisoning the soil, and creating a foul smell on one of the hottest days of the summer.

All businesses are required to hire their own private carting companies to haul off trash. Some hire better ones than others, and it appears Chikurin’s carter is skirting the strict regulations imposed on them by the Business Integrity Commission that require them to have proper seals and other measures installed on trucks to prevent such spillage.

Sheepshead Bites has had success in the past getting such careless carters fined, such as an incident last year, when a carting company had a broken seal that caused rotting produce and other waste to pour out on East 17th Street near Avenue Y. After surveillance video showing the carting company spill the waste was sent to the commission, they issued several thousands of dollars in fines.

Now we’ve informed the Business Integrity Commission of the latest incident. According to their database, updated quarterly, the carting company responsible is Viking Sanitation. However, a legally required decal on the window at Chikurin indicates only that American By-Products Recyclers is the waste carter – although a phone call to that company confirmed that they only pick up grease and cooking oil, not garbage. Many restaurants have two carters, one for garbage and one for grease, and they’re required to have decals for both. Here’s the lone decal:

carting

The Business Integrity Commission is looking into the matter, and we hope to have an update soon.

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