Archive for the tag 'william colton'

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.

And they’re off!

The race for the 48th District of the City Council, currently occupied by term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson, officially kicked off yesterday as 45th Assembly District Leader Ari Kagan became the first candidate to officially throw his hat in the ring.

But it wasn’t without drama. The event was delayed as a protester heckled the candidate for approximately 10 minutes at the start of the event, calling him a “foot soldier for the KGB.”

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State legislators returned to Albany today, and Southern Brooklyn’s pols went with a message: when it comes to casinos, location matters.

Several legislators joined the newly-formed Stop the Coney Island Casino organization on Monday to say that Coney Island is off limits as a casino venue, and that any attempt to change the state constitution to expand gambling will be opposed unless it includes specific locations.

“[The proposed legislation to expand gambling] must include specifically where the casinos are being planned,” said Assemblyman William Colton during the press conference. “Then we will know whether we can support or oppose such legislation. Because if we do not include that in what is going to be passed … we will be leaving the decision of whether Coney Island gets a casino not to the people of Coney Island, and not the people of Brooklyn, but to special interests.”

The press conference at the Kings Bay Y (3495 Nostrand Avenue) was the formal debut of Stop the Coney Island Casino, and featured Assemblymembers Colton and Steven Cymbrowitz, State Senator Eric Adams, Councilman David Greenfield and 45th Assembly District Leader Ari Kagan. The bi-lingual press conference drew Russian-language media outlets and about 40 attendees from Russian-American and Russian-Jewish organizations. The organizations and elected officials said they stand united in opposing a Coney Island casino, claiming it will increase crime rates, depress the community’s economy and obliterate quality of life.

“If you want to see crime go up, if you want to see traffic go up, if you want to see small businesses go out of business, then support the casino,” said Councilman Greenfield. “But if you care about the community, join together with us and stop the Coney Island casino.”

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Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz celebrating during an election night party at the Turkish Cultural Center of Brooklyn. (Photo: Erica Sherman)

By now, the whole world knows that the American people chose to send Barack Obama back to the White House for another four years. But how did your local elected fare on election day? In short, Southern Brooklyn will see little if any change, with all incumbents but one returning for another term. Here’s the roundup.

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The Parks Department revealed they will be adding free wireless internet to parks in Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, and Marine Park after Bensonhurst Assemblyman William Colton expressed that the city has so far lavished Manhattan and northern Brooklyn communities with the service.

Colton said he believes it is unfair that wealthier neighborhoods in northern Brooklyn and Manhattan are dominating much of the city’s free internet service at parks and public spaces, and that his constituents deserve to be serviced as well as those residing in other areas.

The New York Post said that through a deal with AT&T, the city provides free wireless internet in 20 parks, most in neighborhoods filled with tourists.

Following the official’s protest, the Parks Department said the future sites for WiFi in Southern Brooklyn include the Coney Island beach and boardwalk, MCU Park, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park’s Nature Center, and possibly Owl’s Head Park in Bay Ridge. Colton is holding a press conference later today regarding the announcement.

Hope the Parks Department actually follows through with this promise. It’s about time that the city focuses on neglected areas such as Brooklyn and services residents just as well as those in wealthy neighborhoods.

And, we hope, you’ll all be using that WiFi to tune in to Sheepshead Bites!

Protesters in front of the depot (Photo: Allan Rosen)

THE COMMUTE: Last week, I had to conduct some business at the courts in Downtown Brooklyn. The trip going there using a bus and train, and two trains and a bus to return home, including the two minutes I spent at the court, took me less than 90 minutes. That was fabulous, but mass transit is often not that quick in New York City, especially when the bus you used to rely on no longer operates and you need to find alternatives.

Today, bus riders are still reeling from the effects of 36 bus routes eliminated in June 2010. Last month, Sheepshead Bites held a Transit Town Hall, primarily to ask for restoration of the B4 cut. Last Saturday was Bensonhurst’s turn.

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Photo by Erica Sherman

More than 200 members of Southern Brooklyn’s Russian Jewish community converged upon Holocaust Memorial Park this past weekend to participate in a somber ceremony of remembrance, marking 70 years since the beginning of the mass killings of Jews in the former Soviet Union by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.

View more photos after the fold…

Be Proud Foundation's Raisa Chernina and the 61st Precinct Community Council's Theresa Scavo present Deputy Inspector Mastrokostas with a gift to honor his recent promotion

Community leaders gathered at the 5th Annual Appreciation Luncheon to honor local police officers and firefighters this past Friday, where they heaped praise and gratitude upon the men and women of the 60th and 61st precincts.

The event was organized by the Be Proud Foundation, a group with roots in Russian-speaking community and which formed in 2005 to foster unity and pride in the local neighborhoods.

Keep reading for more coverage, as well as a video and photo gallery from the event.

I’ve written before about the controversial method of “hydrofraking” near New York City’s watershed, and the State Legislature has finally put the brakes on business proposals until it’s been thoroughly studied. Absent from the discussion, though, were Sheepshead Bay’s two state senators – Marty Golden and Carl Kruger. Here’s a report from the Bay Ridge Journal, with information drawn from Brooklyn Eagle.

The New York State Senate, in what has been called a historic move, has passed a bill, S8129B, temporarily halting natural gas drilling permits in the state’s watershed until May 15, 2011.

The moratorium is believed to be the first in the country.

The moratorium buys the state time to assess the risks involved in the controversial natural gas drilling technique called “hydrofracking” or “fracking”.

The state assembly is expected to approve its version of the bill, A11443, in September, officially enacting the moratorium.

State Senate Majority Leader John Sampson, a Democrat representing Brownsville, Canarsie and East New York, co-sponsored the bill, joined by Brooklyn Democratic Senators Eric Adams, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Parker, Diane Savino and Dan Squadron.

According to a poll taken by Senator Sampson, the majority of New Yorkers favor a ban on hydrofracking.

Democrat Carl Kruger abstained from the vote.  Republican Marty Golden was MIA.

Brooklyn Assembly Members Jim Brennan, Alan Maisel and Janele Hyer-Spencer support the Assembly version of the bill.

Courtesy of kirkclimber via Flickr

There’s no shortage of anger against the MTA’s proposed bus cuts, and now one local bread-biz is slamming the agency’s half-baked idea.

Bread Plus is outraged about the MTA’s failure to provide adequate time to comment on the proposed cut to the B64 line, which runs in front of their business. So to let residents cut through their frustration, they’re baking a giant MTA bread loaf and inviting neighbors to slice away. The protest is not only against the cut, which they say will hurt their business, but also in support of a proposed bill by Assemblyman William Colton (Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and Midwood).

Colton’s eminently sensible bill requires the MTA to notify local community boards of changes that will affect their residents. The idea – so obvious that it’s hard to believe they weren’t already required to do so – will hopefully put useful information in the hands of community leaders, who will be more effective at disseminating to constituents.

“Unfortunately, the MTA was not mandated to do so before, and you see the horrendous results that happened,” Colton said. “The MTA must be receptive and responsible to the riders. Let them stop taking their many chauffeured limousines and see how they like walking the extra blocks they force their riders to do.”

The protest takes place today at 11 a.m. at the bus stop in front of the Bread Plus bakery at 2851 Harway Avenue (off of Bay 50th Street). The MTA is cutting B64 bus service along Harway Avenue south of 25th Avenue to Stillwell Avenue terminal. The cut will affect residents of several senior homes, as well as students and employees of John Dewey High School.

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