Archive for the tag 'theresa scavo'

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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.

The B44 SBS debuts along Nostrand Avenue. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

The B44 SBS debuts along Nostrand Avenue. Source: Patrick Cashin / MTA / Flickr

Beginning this Sunday, December 8, the MTA will deploy members of its Eagle Team, the unit dedicated to identifying and fining fare evaders, along the newly launched Nostrand Avenue B44 SBS line.

The new buses launched on November 17 featuring off-board fare collection, meaning riders pay at a curbside machine before the bus arrives. When they board the bus, there is no requirement to display your receipt, but inspectors will do occasional spot checks to provide enforcement. If you cannot provide your receipt, you will be subject to a $100 summons which must be paid within 90 days.

If you do receive a summon, you can still appeal by following directions on the MTA’s Transit Adjudication Bureau website.

Our thanks to Councilman Jumaane Williams and Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo for keeping us posted on this.

2632East21

The proposed location for First Steps to Recovery

In the midst of the summer drama centered around a proposed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility on East 21st Street, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz blasted the agencies involved for ignoring community input. He promised a legislative solution that would force these agencies to consider local objections in the future.

This week, Cymbrowitz made good on his promise by introducing Assembly Bill 8237, requiring that the oversight agency, the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), solicit and review recommendations from local governmental units before approving outpatient drug treatment centers.

As we learned in the attempted relocation of the Brighton Beach-based First Steps to Recovery to a residential building at 2632 East 21st Street, the under-equipped OASAS puts its faith on decision-making in the municipality. In New York City, that’s the Department of Health.

First Steps came before Community Board 15, which blasted the plan. Unfortunately, their letter of opposition was sent to OASAS – not to the Department of Health. So when the DOH gave the a-o-k, OASAS fell in line.

Cymbrowitz’s bill requires the local governmental unit (the DOH) to solicit the opinion of the relevant community board before making its final determination.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, which he chairs. In the Senate, it has been sponsored by Senator Diane Savino. As a member of the power-sharing coalition in charge, Savino’s support in the Senate is a fairly positive sign for the bill’s fate.

Here’s the full press release from Cymbrowitz:

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), fresh off a victory over a controversial drug treatment center in SheepsheadBay, is introducing legislation (A.8237) requiring community input to be considered in the placement of outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities.

Currently, the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) entrusts local agencies throughout the state to review sites for outpatient drug treatment centers. In New York City, that task falls to the Department of Health. In July Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, excoriated DOH for ignoring community opposition and recommending approval of a site at 2632 East 21st Street – a “totally inappropriate” location without parking, near schools and in a residential building with young families. At Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ urging, OASAS took the unusual step of overriding DOH and denying the Sheepshead Bay site.

The bill — which State Senator Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn) will sponsor in the Senate — would amend the mental hygiene law by requiring the DOH and other local units throughout the state to solicit and include community input as part of their assessment of proposed outpatient drug treatment centers. In the city, that input would come from the community board where the facility would be located.

In a letter this week to DOH Commissioner Thomas Farley, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said that if DOH had paid attention to community concerns, “it is likely that your agency would have recognized the significant quality-of-life issues that led to the site’s eventual denial.” He said the recent case indicates “clear vulnerabilities in the existing procedure for reviewing outpatient substance abuse facilities.”

“I cannot overstate the importance of these outpatient facilities, but appropriate placement is essential,” he said. “This common-sense legislation would ensure that the community is afforded the opportunity to provide input on the establishment of a chemical dependence facility in their area. It would also help to keep channels open among the service provider, local governmental unit, OASAS and the local community to assure a fully transparent process that remains sensitive to the needs of everyone who is impacted by these facilities.”

2632East21

The proposed location for First Steps to Recovery

The state agency charged with approving drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers has reversed course, choosing to reject a controversial clinic slated for East 21st Street after initially allowing the project to go forward.

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on Friday officially denied First Steps to Recovery permission to move from its current Brighton Beach facility to an expanded location in a residential building at 2632 East 21st Street.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, called the move a “bold and unusual” step for the agency, and declared it a victory for the community.

Cymbrowitz, along with Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo and neighbors of the building, led the fight against the state after they initially shrugged off responsibility to the city’s Department of Health. Cymbrowitz agreed with neighbors that a residential building on a narrow residential street was no place for an alcoholic rehabilitation center like First Steps to Recovery.

“The location was completely unacceptable,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said in a press release. “This wasn’t a case of NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard]. The same night CB 15 rejected this proposal they approved another treatment center elsewhere.”

The owners of the clinic first approached Community Board 15 in November, under the instruction of OASAS to gain approval. The Board denied the facility on the grounds that it was an inappropriate location. However, Scavo also took issue with the owner’s behavior, which she considered rude – for which the owner has shot back, claiming discrimination.

The Board’s verdict was sent to Albany, but OASAS left the decision up to the city’s Department of Health – which never consulted the Board. Without notification to the Board or elected officials, the DOH granted temporary permits, and First Steps began renovating the new location.

Neighbors were the first to sound the alarm, which channeled back up through Scavo and Cymbrowitz, and on to Albany, ultimately leading OASAS to reverse the DOH’s decision, and leaving Cymbrowitz promising legislative changes to how such facilities win approval.

He is working on a bill that would mandate the New York City Health Department to take community objections into consideration when evaluating sites for outpatient substance abuse facilities.

deutsch-victory-1

Flatbush Shomrim founder Chaim Deutsch eked out a narrow, last-minute victory in his effort to replace his boss, Michael Nelson, as the City Council representative for the 48th District.

It was a tense night, showing a neck-in-neck race with rival Ari Kagan, a Russian-American journalist and activist also seeking the nod in the Democratic primary. From the moment the first voting precinct began reporting shortly after 9 p.m., until more than 85 percent of the votes were tallied, Kagan appeared to be in the lead. But as the final 15 percent of votes were counted, Deutsch pulled off a narrow victory, edging out the other top contender by just 300 votes.

PRELIMINARY VOTE TALLY
Candidate # of votes % of total votes
Chaim Deutsch 3,081 33.86
Ari Kagan 2,785  30.61
Theresa Scavo 1,666 18.31
Igor Oberman 1,307 14.37
Natraj Bhushan 259 2.85

“This election is and has always been about the people. I ran to serve because serving the public is all I ever wanted to do. I hear the cry of help from the elderly. I feel the pain of parents who cannot make ends meet. And I understand the serious challenges facing every community in this district,” Deutsch said in his victory speech outside of his Avenue U campaign headquarters. “I pledge to be the leader who brings all of our communities together to make life better for all.”

Deutsch stood ringed by a multi-cultural group of supporters, hailing largely from the Orthodox Jewish community, as well as from the Asian and Muslim communities. He touted his ability to bring together a diverse coalition to overcome the demographic challenges that arose from redistricting, which turned the 48th Councilmanic District into a “Super-Russian District.”

“It is beautiful to see how many diverse neighborhoods came together to support me and my candidacy and this community and bring us to victory tonight,” he said.

Nelson, who celebrated with the candidate, boasted of Deutsch’s qualifications, character and accomplishments.

“Sometimes the nice guy wins, and this is an example of where it actually can happen,” Nelson said. “He’s been doing my job, so to speak, for a long time. He’s the go to guy when people have problems.”

But victory is not yet certain. Although Deutsch snagged 33.86 percent of the vote, Kagan is a close second, with 30.61 percent. The difference is not enough to trigger a manual recount as seen in the State Senate race between David Storobin and Lew Fidler, but the Kagan campaign said they’re not yet calling it quits.

“Right now it’s a close race. We’re going to wait for all the ballots to be counted,” said Kagan spokesperson Jake Oliver.

With scores of absentee ballots uncounted and reports of malfunctioning voting machines, the Kagan campaign could theoretically rally the 297 votes required to surpass Deutsch.

That fact didn’t seem to instill doubt on Nelson. On hearing the poll numbers come in, Nelson called on Republican David Storobin to pull out of the elections before November.

“Dave is a nice guy. But I think, for the sake of the community, he should concede,” Nelson told Sheepshead Bites. “David, you could be a really good guy, but the community would lose with you.”

Deutsch had his own words for his general election rival.

“You see all the people here?” he said, gesturing to the crowd. “That’s the message for David Storobin.”

But Storobin may not be the only opponent Deutsch has come November. Igor Oberman, who came in fourth with 14.37 percent of the vote, is also on the Working Families Party line. A concession statement from the campaign suggested that he may not seek the seat in the general election, but the campaign has not confirmed that as of this writing.

Following the results, Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, who secured 18.31 percent of the vote, offered up a humbled thank you to her supporters via Twitter.

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Tzipporah Simon being interviewed about her vote by BIT.

The following post is published in partnership with B Civil, Brooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal.

Polls opened at 6:00 a.m. today, and the first round of voters have already pulled the lever at their local voting site.

Poll workers at the St. Mark School poll site (2602 East 19th Street) told Sheepshead Bites that it’s been a quiet morning with few problems – and few voters. As of 10:15 a.m., turnout was beginning to increase.

Tzipporah Simon of Sheepshead Bay was one of the first to pull the lever there this morning.

“I voted for Theresa Scavo. I think that when she was a Community Board leader, she was passionate and remained passionate,” Simon said.

The choice was more difficult in the mayoral elections, Simon said.

“For Mayor, I was kind of undecided. I made a begrudging choice. Mayor is a tough call this year,” she said.

In contrast to the calm scene at St. Mark School, a reader tells us the I.S. 381 (1599 East 22nd Street) polling site in Midwood is chaotic.

“I was sent to the wrong table, there was poll worker confusion,” our reader said. “No superviser was sent to train the workers.”

He said when he finally tried to vote his machine was broken, which spurred an argument with poll workers. Police pulled him aside to calm him down, and moments later a poll worker came over to ask when his break would be.

Please e-mail tips [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com as you vote and tell us about the conditions at your voting site.

Polls are open until 9:00 p.m. tonight. You can find your polling site here.

This post is published in partnership with B CivilBrooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal. BIT producer Natasha Gaspard will be sending on-the-ground updates to Sheepshead Bites throughout the day from various polling sites in an effort to keep readers informed of polling conditions, and remind them to vote.

Oberman

Three candidates in the race to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson have traded allegations of campaign improprieties to the Campaign Finance Board, burdening their opponents with additional paperwork and spurring them to cry foul.

Five complaints have been made targeting three different candidates. Four of them appear to have come from just one campaign – Igor Oberman’s – and were dismissed. The Campaign Finance Board (CFB) is responsible for overseeing the city’s public campaign finance system, documenting donations and expenditures, and investigating complaints of misused public funds.

The issue most recently came to light in a Daily News report about a so-called “probe” into an alleged “scheme” by Igor Oberman, which they described as “under investigation.” According to the paper, the Board was looking into a complaint made by Ari Kagan’s campaign that Oberman, board president of Trump Village 4, was soliciting campaign donations from seven companies with active contracts at the housing development.

However, the newspaper appears to have trumped up the charges.

According to Kagan, his complaint arose from his concern that Oberman was misusing the co-op’s money to promote his candidacy. In July, using funds from the co-op, Oberman sent mailers to district residents promoting a Family Day event at the co-op, co-sponsored by the Kings Bay Y. The flier had a photo of Oberman and his family.

“[My complaint] is about co-op money. I believe co-op money should be used for improving security, improving elevators, not for promoting candidates,” Kagan told Sheepshead Bites. “I personally received three mailings about him and his family. And none of them were paid by for his campaign, but all were sent to prime Democratic voters.”

Kagan claims Oberman has similarly used co-op money for a variety of advertising, including three large “billboards” around Trump Village. The ads purport to promote the co-op’s amenities and available units, but heavily feature Oberman’s name and face, Kagan said.

If the co-op board’s advertising is found to have intentionally aided Oberman’s campaign, the CFB could fine the campaign tens of thousands of dollars.

Kagan stressed that his complaint did not mention the contractors’ donations. The CFB cannot comment on complaints until a judgement has been made, including confirming or denying whether a complaint exists.

Additionally, if Oberman had solicited contributions from his the co-ops vendors, it may be within the law. Candidates may legally accept contributions from personal or professional contacts so long as no promises or favors are granted, although the ethical implications are up to voters and co-op residents to decide.

“Campaigns may accept contributions from individuals up to the contribution limit for each office. The CFB’s audits of every campaign help ensure that campaigns are complying with the law,” said Matthew Sollars, spokesperson for the CFB.

Kagan’s complaint against Oberman, though, isn’t the first complaint hailing from the 48th District this year. According to Sollars, Kagan has been the subject of three complaints, and Theresa Scavo received another.

Kagan said all of the complaints filed by Oberman were intentionally frivolous, and show an attempt to tie up his opponents with paperwork since the CFB is required to consider all complaints.

“[His latest] complaint was about me not being a journalist. He wrote that I never worked as a journalist on TV or radio before the campaign, Kagan said. “Can you imagine? So of course it was dismissed.”

In fact, all of the complaints against Oberman Kagan and Scavo were unanimously dismissed by the Board. The CFB has not acknowledged the complaint against Oberman, suggesting that it remains under review. (Corrected – see below)

“He filed three complaints against me, all three were dismissed,” Kagan said. “And Theresa Scavo complained to me that he filed complaints against her. I understand hes a lawyer, but why?”

Kagan said he believes Oberman is trying to tie up his campaign with paperwork, rather than allow him to get the word out.

Scavo, in an interview with Sheepshead Bites in July, echoed the same frustration, although she did not identify the source of the complaints at the time.

“This is what they’re doing to me to keep me distracted and busy. All you must do is lodge complaints, and CFB has to investigate,” Scavo said at the time. “It’s a delay tactic, wasting my time while I’m defending myself with all this garbage.”

But Oberman said he’s just trying to keep his opponents honest.

“My opponents were not properly reporting their campaign expenses. Due to my diligence and knowledge of the rules, they were forced to comply with the law. As a Judge, I take campaign finance laws very seriously and am not afraid to speak up when I see wrongdoing,” said Oberman. “I apologize if Ari and Theresa needed to take an extra 10 minutes in order to run transparent campaigns.”

Oberman declined to comment on the allegations made against him, or why promotional materials for the co-op heavily featured his name and image.

Sheepshead Bites submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Campaign Finance Board nearly two weeks ago to provide documents detailing the complaints made and by which campaign. The documents were not produced by the time of this report.

Scavo, Oberman and Kagan will face off tomorrow, September 10, in the Democratic primaries, alongside Chaim Deutsch and Natraj Bhushan. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Find your poll site here.

Correction (3:23 p.m.): A previous version of this post erroneously stated that “all of the complaints against Oberman and Scavo were unanimously dismissed.” In fact, we meant Kagan and Scavo. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Alan Maisel

We reported yesterday that more than $800,000 has poured into three local City Council races by independent spending committees, or PACs, largely representing the real estate development and business industries. The groups are allowed to spend unlimited amounts, unlike the candidates themselves, but also cannot coordinate with the campaigns by law. The most prominent group, Jobs for New York, representing developers, has doled out the most, with as much as $6 million citywide, according to a New York Times report this morning.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars to support local candidates, they’ve also spent nearly $100,000 locally to distribute negative mailers bashing the opponents of their chosen candidates.

Predictably, those opponents are crying foul. Just this morning, John Lisyanskiy, the target of negative mailers in his campaign to replace Councilman Domenic Recchia, denounced a negative mailer that accused him of stealing from victims of Superstorm Sandy.

“I am disgusted and angered by a recent mail piece that accused me of profiting at the expense of Hurricane Sandy victims. It is sickening that anyone would stoop so low as to insinuate that I exploited the families I had just helped in return for a few bucks,” said Lisyanskiy. “What these attacks really do is illuminate the shadow world of corporate money in campaigns. Jobs for New York, the political action committee for the billion-dollar real estate industry and the Small Business Coalition are responsible for these attacks. Corporate Tycoons don’t care about the larger civic good, or constructive ideas that move our community forward. They are interested in two things only, getting richer and instilling fear and blame.”

Lisyanskiy and other targets of negative mailers from these PACs have demanded that those the PACs support denounce the negative mailers.

The candidates who have received that support, though, have largely kept mum. Lisyanskiy’s opponent, Mark Treyger, hasn’t said a word about the PACs. And though Ari Kagan, recipient of Jobs for New York support in his race for Councilman Michael Nelson’s seat, expressed displeasure in passing, his campaign refused to denounce the negative ads during a follow up from this outlet.

However, after our report yesterday, Assemblyman Alan Maisel, who has received more than $200,000 from Jobs for New York and a PAC representing the teachers’ union, went on the record repudiating the mailings. Maisel is running to replace Councilman Lew Fidler. Here is his statement in full:

For the third time in about a week, the independent PAC Jobs for New York has sent a negative campaign mailer about my opponent in the Democratic Primary. First and foremost, I want to repudiate these mailings and frankly, if I knew how and it weren’t against the law for me to communicate with this independent PAC, I would ask them to stop. I want to apologize to all those who have been the subject of and who have been subjected to these mailings.

I have attempted to run a wholly positive campaign and I will not condone negative attacks, particularly ones as tenuous as these. I look forward to concluding this campaign with dignity, integrity and on exclusively positive notes.

We’ve dropped a note to the Kagan and Treyger campaigns to see if they’ll do the same, and will update this story when we hear back.

Source: 401(K) 2013

Four  special interest groups have doled out more than $818,000 on just three Southern Brooklyn City Council campaigns in an unprecedented attempt to sway voters, with one real estate interest group spending far more money than the candidates have themselves spent.

The spending is a local version of the super PAC phenomenon that emerged in last year’s presidential race as a result of the Citizens United decision. Major business interests coalesce into a focused spending group to rally behind a chosen candidate – and decry the candidate’s rivals. The groups are not limited in their spending, but New York City campaign finance laws – among the most progressive in the nation – require them to disclose their backers, and document their spending. The records indicate that four independent spenders have taken an interest in three City Council campaigns that follow the Brooklyn shoreline from Bath Beach to Canarsie.

Potential voters have likely seen the effects of independent spending, as political mailers jammed their mailboxes with messages supporting one candidate or blasting others. The largest of the four groups involved in the area elections, Jobs for New York, is backed by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), a group of the city’s largest real estate developers, and has caused the targets of their negative mailers to cry foul.

“Real estate tycoons have had their greedy eyes set on Coney Island for decades. Seaside residents are in constant danger of being uprooted by developers who would love nothing more than to sweep away communities to make room for swanky developments,” said John Lisyanskiy, who is vying to replace Domenic Recchia in the  47th District. “I urge all candidates citywide to reject attempts by corporations to buy their support with outsized expenditures. Campaigns should be about the people we seek to represent, and we must do everything we can to ensure that their voices are not dwarfed by developers and other deep-pocketed special interests.”

“I am deeply concerned that an unfettered influx of heavy spending by real estate tycoons will prevent a fair and honest debate about the future of development in our area,” said Igor Oberman, a candidate to replace Councilman Michael Nelson in the 48th District. “The cost of living in our City continues to rise, and REBNY represents developers who would litter our neighborhoods with overpriced and unaffordable housing units, altering the character of our neighborhood and pricing people out.”

Keep reading: Find out what candidates have received support, and what some say about it.

forum

A sweeping City Council candidates’ forum hosted by the Manhattan Beach Community Group last Wednesday touched on topics including stop-and-frisk, discretionary funding, and the overhaul of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. But the audience, which included active civic association leaders from around the district, was eager to question the candidates on their plans to wrestle some local control back from City Hall and back into the community.

The Democratic candidates vying to replace term-limited Michael Nelson in the 48th District fielded a volley of wonkish questions about Community Board reforms, community-based planning, and a potential dismantling of a city agency that many civic boards fault with turning a blind eye to over-development in the area.

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