The U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots local drive organized by Councilman Lew Fidler’s 41st Assembly District Democratic Club is again the largest such drive in New York City for the eighth consecutive year, scoring 7,750 holiday gifts for needy and disadvantaged children.
While the number is impressive, an even more impressive number came out of it: 55,430. That’s the number of toys collected in the 13 years since the drive’s establishment in 2001, when they first bundled together just 79 toys for kids.
The event will continue in the future, but it’s the final year that Fidler will preside over it as a member of the City Council. He’s term limited out come January 1, to be succeeded by Assemblyman Alan Maisel. As the event wrapped up, Fidler gazed over the mountain of toys that covered nearly half the floor space of his club from floor to ceiling.
“This is what the holidays are supposed to be about. Not throwing yourself a party, not drinking a lot of egg nog. Helping children, that’s what we do. It’s great to look at this mountain of toys,” he told Sheepshead Bites. “Today was my last Council meeting. Yeah, it’s bittersweet, but at the end you look back and you know you had a good run, you didn’t waste anyone’s time, and I didn’t waste my time, and it’s very gratifying.”
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.
The two-minute video weaves together imagery of his family, his parents and childhood, parts of his former district and some of his accomplishments as congressman, but the shadow of the scandal that forced his resignation hangs over the video’s climax. At the 1:38 mark, when Weiner talks into the camera and asks for voter support, he acknowledges his past.
“Look, I made some big mistakes. And I know I let a lot of people down. But I’ve also learned some tough lessons,” he says. “I’m running for mayor ’cause I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life. And I hope I get a second chance to work for you.”
The video also acknowledges a slew of middle-class woes that will set his agenda, including unburdening small and medium-sized business, lowering the cost of living and promoting mass transit – ideas that also form the core of his “Keys to the City” policy pamphlet, where he proposes 64 ideas to “Keep New York the Capital of the Middle Class.”
Still, Weiner has an uphill battle to fight against the lead Democratic candidate, Christine Quinn. A new Quinnipiac poll released this morning shows that he immediately pops into the race for the Democratic nod in second place, with 15 percent of the vote (we’ve noted before that pollster Nate Silver has some strong doubts about his viability, despite those numbers). But Quinn is pulling 25 percent, while William Thompson and Bill de Blasio are at 10 percent each, and Comptroller John Liu is trailing with 6 percent. But 27 percent of Democratic voters remain undecided – enough for any of the candidates to steal the show.
It’s the third year in the row the city is trying to shutter the school – this time by replacing it with two public schools and two charter schools – and some school supporters say the teachers, students and parents have simply been beaten, broken and demoralized by the process.
If the plan to close Sheepshead Bay High School is approved, a “phase out” period would begin in which no new ninth graders would be accepted to the school. Current students would be allowed to graduate or transfer out, and, beginning this September, a new public high school, two new charter high schools, and a district transfer high school would all be co-located in the same facility.
Screenshot of BCTV host Alyonka Larionov from “BCTV – Brighton Beach” by Ali Hashemi. Source: Vimeo
If you have visited the brand-spanking new Barclays Center this year, you might have already seen this cool new tribute to Brighton Beach, which has been playing on Barclays Center Television (BCTV).
The video features the fetching Alyonka Larionov jaunting her way through Brighton Beach, eating authentic pierogis, vamping like Leo DiCaprio on the boardwalk, and sharing drinks with some friendly Moscovians in town to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
Aloynka, who makes mention of her Russian roots, does get a little confused when referencing Brighton Beach Boulevard, which we all know doesn’t exist. Geographic error aside, she leads an otherwise cheerful tour through Brighton Beach, checking out Russian hats, Russian dolls (no, not these Russian Dolls) and Russian candy. She even expounds a little upon that “funny little creature,” Cheburashka.
It’s a fun, snappily-edited and mood-brightening journey though Little Odessa.
Vic DiBiteto is clearly a victim of the media hype surrounding Nemo – which, by the way, is a name bestowed by The Weather Channel, not the National Weather Service, which doles out the real names, and never to winter storms.
Anyway, Vic, a comedian and former performer at the much-missed Pips, needs to get his bread and milk before the flurries start falling.
Have you picked up your bread and milk?
Thanks to Ann H. for pointing this out to us on Facebook.
FEMA has approved $103 million in aid to the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation to help fund repairs at facilities including Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway).
Senator Charles Schumer announced last week that the funding would come through, according to the Wall Street Journal, and will contribute to repairs at Bellevue Hospital, Goler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Metropolitan Hospital Center in addition to Coney Island.
The $103 million package still falls far from the $810 million HHC execs said they needed to come back from Sandy at a press conference two weeks ago. That number includes $200 million for Coney Island Hospital, and is the total estimated price for repairs, revenue loss and improvements to protect against future storms.
Regardless, the FEMA grant will help fill the coffers and keep repairs underway.
“I’ve seen the damage with my own eyes, and it was devastating. I appreciate FEMA listening to our pleas and getting these funds here quickly. This is not the end of the aid that these hospitals will need – not by a long shot – and we’ll keep fighting until the hospitals have been fully restored and they can get back to what they’re good at – helping New Yorkers heal and recover,” Schumer said Thursday.
Coney Island Hospital is currently open for most outpatient and some inpatient services. They expect to be fully operational and resuming emergency room intake within the next few months.
The “all in” costs for repairing Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway) and upgrading it to be better prepared for future storms is approximately $200 million, Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan Aviles told Sheepshead Bites during a press conference yesterday.
Aviles led U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and reporters on a tour of the facility, showing off the hospital’s progress nearly two and a half months after Superstorm Sandy. The two announced that repairs to the city’s public hospitals in the wake of the storm and necessary improvements will cost $810 million – an amount included in the $51 billion aid being considered in Congress.