Archive for the tag 'vincent gentile'

gentile

Gentile (Source: Gentile’s office)

Councilman Vincent Gentile of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst confirmed to the New York Observer that he is considering a challenge to State Senator Marty Golden, and told the paper that he sees the Republican’s support drying up.

If he runs and wins it will be a sort of homecoming for the pol, who represented the district in the State Senate between 1996 and 2002, before being unseated by Golden. After losing office that year, Gentile ran in and won the special election for the City Council seat vacated by Golden – meaning the two effectively swapped seats.

Gentile told the paper that the recent show of support for restoring Democratic control of the State Senate is galvanizing his interest. The Observer reports:

“It would take a lot to pull me away but certainly I understand the bigger issues in our state and the goal of getting a Democratic State Senate so based on that I am getting the input I should be getting and we’ll see in a week or two,” Mr. Gentile said at City Hall yesterday. “I am enjoying my job but I’m saying there are bigger issues here.”

The Observer’s story came on the heels of another report that a coalition was emerging to flip Republican seats in the Senate, and was eyeing Golden in particular. The coalition was birthed during the Working Families Party convention, during which Cuomo pledged to support Democrats running for the legislative body and to break the power-sharing alliance between the Republicans and the Independent Democratic Caucus in exchange for their nomination.

NY State of Politics was the first to report that the coalition was floating Gentile as a challenger, but it had not been confirmed until the Observer report. A source told the outlet that approximately $1 million has already been earmarked to unseat Golden.

Gentile is optimistic that the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst portions of the Senate district are increasingly Democratic, boosting his chances – although he also slipped in a slap at the incumbent Senator for gerrymandering the district to rope in as many Republican enclaves as possible.

“I think my area has become more Democratic and eventually there will be smaller and smaller pockets that Marty Golden can rely upon so if it’s not this cycle, there will be a cycle very soon where he will not have the same deep support that he used to have in the same district that he drew, that he drew the lines for,” Gentile told the Observer.

While that may be true in Bay Ridge, Golden remains popular in Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach – conservative-leaning areas where Gentile is relatively unknown.

What this means for another Democratic challenger to Golden, Jamie Kemmerer, is not yet known. Kemmerer told this outlet last month that he decided to run only once Gentile personally urged him to do so. Kemmerer could drop out and throw his support behind Gentile if he chooses to run – or he could squabble with his former backer in a primary.

Source: Luke Redmond/Flickr

Several local representatives to the City Council said yesterday that they support a proposal to throw a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The idea reemerged over the weekend, when U.S. Senator Charles Schumer stood with veterans to urge the Department of Defense to work with the city in planning the event, which would welcome home returning troops from the post-9/11 battlefronts. The proposal was first floated in 2012, but was opposed by the Pentagon.

“With the war in Afghanistan winding down, now is the time to keep with long-standing American tradition and kick off a campaign for the first New York City welcome home parade for troops that served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Senator Schumer in a press release.

The Iraq war came to an official end on December 31, 2011. The combat mission in Afghanistan is expected to be complete by the end of this year. The Department of Defense will not condone a parade until combat operations are complete, but Schumer said the planning should begin now.

The Canyon of Heroes has long been the venue for the most iconic processions for returning veterans. Several parades were held during World War II, culminating with a massive procession for the troops in 1946, after the war ended. A parade was held honoring veterans of the Vietnam War in 1985, and in 1991 the city welcomed home Gulf War veterans.

Several Southern Brooklyn City Council representatives said they support bringing back the tradition, including Councilman Vincent Gentile who said he has previously called for honoring the veterans in such a way.

“If a sports team gets a parade, so should our veterans!” said Gentile. “Not only is it the right thing to do and it’s the least we can do for these brave men and women to honor the sacrifices they’ve made to protect our freedom abroad.”

Councilmembers Alan Maisel and Chaim Deutsch agreed.

“For all their dedication and sacrifice, it’s only fitting that we hold a ticker-tape parade in honor of the hard-fighting men and women of Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Deutsch. “Therefore, I’ll support the campaign to revive this time-honored tradition and give our veterans a grand, New York City welcome.”

Councilman Mark Treyger said he’s on-board with the idea, but urged his colleagues not to forget about providing the support these returning veterans will need beyond a celebration in the streets.

“I am in full support of the idea to honor our veterans with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes out of recognition of their incredible service to our nation. I applaud Senator Schumer for taking up this worthy campaign and I look forward to assisting his efforts,” said Treyger. “However, our obligation and responsibility to our returning servicemen and women extends far beyond a single event. We must also ensure as a city and nation that each returning solider receives assistance with employment, health care, counseling and anything else needed to help transition back into civilian life.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday that he will “do whatever it takes” to give returning veterans a parade in the Canyon of Heros.

Seth Low JHS will be the site of a rally against the proposed co-locations on Friday. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last Thursday that he will allow 36 public and charter schools to move into existing schools while giving the boot to other charter school co-location plans, prompting outrage from politicians and education advocates in Southern Brooklyn.

“I am very disappointed because the decision to co-locate Coney Island Prep with I.S. 281 does not square with the facts as we presented,” Councilman Vincent Gentile said in a press release that was cosigned by fellow councilmen David Greenfield and Mark Treyger. “I’ve said repeatedly that Cavallaro is already busting at the seams and there is no need for an elementary school in this area.”

Among the schools that de Blasio to see co-locations are Coney Island Prep (the charter school) with Cavallaro Intermediate School I.S. 281, and Success Academy Charter School with Seth Low Intermediate School I.S. 96.

The initiative to co-locate public schools with charter schools was created during the Bloomberg administration and according to the press release cosigned by the councilmen, many were hopeful that the co-locations would be reversed.

“Many of us who are part of the public school system were hopeful that with a new administration, we’d see a real, meaningful change that responded to the needs of the community. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case, as both I.S. 96 and I.S. 281 are still slated for charter co-locations in September 2014,” members of  Community Education Council District 20 said in a statement.

Besides the harsh words, the education council announced that they will be holding a rally this Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Seth Low I.S. 96 (99 Avenue P) in an attempt to pressure the de Blasio administration to reverse their decision. If the co-location goes through, critics argue,  schools that already have a large student body will be forced to take on more students from the charter schools, resulting in overpopulation.

“I am extremely disappointed in the decision to allow the co-location of a charter school at I.S. 96 (the Seth Low School) that our district does not need or want,” Greenfield writes in the press release. “This co-location will come at the expense of the school’s dedicated staff and hard-working students. . . This proposal does not take into account the students’ needs or the impact this will clearly have on this important school.”

Joining the ranks of critics is Assemblyman William Colton – his area covers parts of Gravesend and Bath Beach – who calls for Cavallaro Intermediate School I.S. 281 and Seth Low I.S. 96 to not co-locate with charter schools. In a press release, he said he is “extremely disappointed that Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Farina did not reverse the decisions” to co-locate the two schools in Southern Brooklyn.

For his part, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz  is commending Mayor de Blasio and Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina for withdrawing the co-location plan for John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X), one of the nine locations the de Blasio administration offered a reprieve. Critics of charter schools want every school’s co-location to be withdrawn.

“I intend to work with my colleagues to fight this decision tooth and nail,” Greenfield said in the press release.

Correction: The original version of this article mistakenly identified the charter school to be co-located with I.S 96 Seth Low. The correct name of the charter school is Success Academy Charter School, and the post has been amended. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

City Hall (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The City Council rules committee announced the committee appointments today, helping determine the influence Council members will wield over the next few years.

Committee appointments are important posts, helping to write and usher through legislation to be voted upon, or delaying their passage (sometimes indefinitely). They can also hold hearings, taking city agencies to task. Oh, and there’s perks, too, including bonuses as high as tens of thousands of dollars on top of their $112,500 base salaries (not bad for a part time job, eh?).

During the race for City Council speaker, in which Melissa Mark-Viverito emerged victorious, many political observers wondered if there would be a quid-pro-quo for support. The Brooklyn delegation was predicted to be the biggest benefactor of this largess, having been a key supporter of Mark-Viverito and delivering the votes that put her over the top.

That support appears to have paid off, with five out of Southern Brooklyn’s six City Council members appointed chairmanships, and two of them on the powerful leadership committee. David Greenfield, now a senior member of the legislative body, may not have landed on the leadership committee, but he did win chairmanship of the Land Use committee, a very influential post where he’ll preside over hearings and legislation that will determine the fate of some of the largest development projects in New York City.

Notably, Chaim Deutsch has boasted at public meetings that he expected to benefit from his early support for Mark-Viverito, who he aligned himself with even before the rest of his Brooklyn colleagues. While it didn’t pay off with any chairmanships, Deutsch, a fierce supporter of the NYPD and controversial practices like stop-and-frisk, did win appointment to the public safety committee. A subcommittee on non-public schools was also created, and he is its only member.

With eight committee appointments, Jumaane Williams also made out well. He’s the chair of the housings and buildings committee, a timely post as advocates call for major reforms in the New York City Housing Authority, of which he’s also been critical. His district also suffers from high foreclosure rates, an issue he’s now in a better position to tackle. (Clarification: It’s been pointed out to us that Housings & Buildings doesn’t oversee NYCHA. However, it does have a role in affordable housing and so Williams will still be a key player in that conversation, which is also gaining momentum in the city.)

Mark Treyger similarly received an appropriate role as chairman of the recovery and resilience committee. His district, which includes Coney Island, was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, and he’ll hopefully bring his constituents’ concerns to the forefront in this role.

Without further ado, here’s how appointments shook out for Southern Brooklyn’s City Council members:

Vincent Gentile

  • Oversight & investigations, chair
  • Leadership committee 
  • Consumer affairs
  • Economic development
  • Education
  • Public safety

David Greenfield

  • Land use, chair
  • Government operations
  • Technology
  • Transportation
  • Youth services

Jumaane Williams

  • Housing & buildings, chair
  • Leadership committee
  • Education
  • Higher education
  • Land use
  • Public safety
  • Rules, privileges & elections
  • Zoning & franchises

Chaim Deutsch

  • Aging
  • Contracts
  • Education
  • Oversight & investigations
  • Public safety
  • Waterfronts
  • Non-public schools (subcommittee of education)

Mark Treyger

  • Recovery & resiliency, chair
  • Aging
  • Education
  • Land use
  • Parks & recreation
  • Planning, dispositions & concessions

Alan Maisel

  • Standards & ethics, chair
  • Community development
  • Education
  • Parks & recreation
  • State & federal legislation
  • Veterans

Politicker has the comprehensive list for all Council members here.

de Blasio (Source: Streets Blog)

Well, if you’ve managed to stay away from the television, radio, newsstands, social media or any website geared towards New York residents, here’s the list of citywide and borough winners from last night’s election, as well as those in Southern Brooklyn races:

  • Bill de Blasio (Mayor)
  • Letitia James (Public Advocate)
  • Scott Stringer (Comptroller)
  • Eric Adams (Brooklyn Borough Presidnet)
  • Kenneth Thompson (Brooklyn District Attorney)
  • Chaim Deutsch (CD48)
  • Vincent Gentile (CD43)
  • Mark Treyger (CD47)
  • Alan Maisel (CD46)
  • David Greenfield (CD44)
  • Jumaane Williams (CD45)

What do you think? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Or a whole new era for Brooklyn and New York City?

Let us know in the comments below.

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.

Source: nysenate.gov

Source: nysenate.gov

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration is set to scale back a series of unpopular fines that many business owners believed were overly aggressive and unfair. Capital New York is reporting that fine-carrying summonses, many related to improper signage, would be reduced to tickets with no penalties for the first offense.

The battle over the unpopular fines came to an ugly head earlier this month when we reported on the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) effort to increase revenue by hiring more inspectors to doll out fines. DCA Commissioner Jonathan Mintz testified to the City Council that he doubled the DCA’s revenue through this maneuver. While Mintz was honest about the DCA’s practice, he drew fire from Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who called for his resignation.

In response to all the negativity over the fines, the Bloomberg administration announced that a new system to be proposed to the Council which would create “cure periods,” where businesses can correct minor errors before receiving fines. Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg, elaborated on the new initiative.

“When an individual or business breaks the law, violations are key to ensuring behaviors that could potentially threaten the health and safety of New Yorkers aren’t repeated. While the city cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce, in cases where corrective action can be taken without lasting damage, cure periods can go a long way in helping small businesses and individuals follow the law before being fined for violations,” Erskine said.

Ersinke noted that had these reforms been in place during the 2013 fiscal year, businesses would have saved $3.8 million dollars.

This comes in close succession to yesterday’s news about Councilman Vincent Gentile’s effort to reform the restaurant inspection system, which is also notorious for driving business owners bonkers over inconsistent inspector practices.

Seems things might get a little bit better for our small businesses, yes?

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.

Source: Lisanne Anderson

It’s not news to Southern Brooklyn residents that local trash bins have been overflowing with disgusting levels of trash, but now the reason has become a little clearer. The New York Daily News is reporting that the Department of Sanitation (DOS) has significantly reduced enforcement over the past year, issuing less than one quarter of the amount of tickets to residents who illegally dump their home trash in the public bins than in previous years..

The exploding trash problem has gained attention from local politicians like Councilmen Vincent Gentile and David Greenfield. As we previously reported, Gentile recently worked out a deal with the DOS to schedule for more pickups along busy streets in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst while Greenfield has petitioned the DOS on behalf of Borough Park and Midwood residents as to why the trash problem is spinning out of control.

According to the Daily News report, the DOS has issued 78 percent less tickets for illegal dumping than in the previous year. At June 30, the end of the 2013 fiscal year, just 922 tickets for dumping were issued, down from 4,185 issued in 2012.  The DOS blamed the drop on the circumstances of Superstorm Sandy, which forced enforcement agents from their normal patrol and into traffic duty. Greenfield said that the results of less enforcement were evident.

“We are obviously seeing the impact of less enforcement on our dirty commercial strips. It’s quite common to see mounds of garbage on our streetcorners,” Greenfield told the Daily News.

The Daily News described the situation at the DOS:

A Sanitation Department spokesman said there hasn’t been a reduction in staff.

But the union representing sanitation enforcement agents said the number of garbage guards dropped from more than 200 to approximately 160 over the past 12 months.

“We can’t be everywhere,” said Ruth Thomas, vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 1182.

And it’s difficult to bust the illegal dumpers.

Agents or sanit bosses must see scofflaws jam their home garbage into city bins to issue a ticket.

Enforcement agents do occasionally dig through the garbage to find the culprit’s name on tossed mail or magazines. But those offenders are simply given an in-person warning.

Councilman Peter Vallone blamed the problem partly on business owners:

Many of the illegal dumpers include business owners who are trying to avoid paying the city to pick up their commercial garbage, said Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens).

He’s proposed raising the fines to $200. But that bill has stalled in committee.

“This is another example of the Bloomberg administration’s priorities being trash-backwards,” he said, referring to the drop in illegal dumping fines.

Of the 922 tickets issued last year, 243 were issued in Brooklyn.

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