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Source: Wikimedia Commons

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Mark Treyger and Assemblyman Bill Colton:

Council Member Mark Treyger and Assembly Member Bill Colton are calling on the MTA to provide public notification within 24 hours of cases of confirmed bedbug sightings on any trains, buses or in stations. The proposal comes after a number of incidents involving bedbugs on several trains along the N line, in addition to trains on the Q and 6 lines. On Monday, an N train was taken out of service at DeKalb Avenue and a conductor received medical attention as a result of bedbugs. Currently, the MTA does not have a formal policy for informing the public about these incidents.

In response, Treyger and Colton are proposing state legislation, supported by a City Council resolution, requiring the MTA to take the same steps to inform its customers as it does for other emergencies or service delays, including social media outreach. In addition, the MTA would have to detail the steps it is taking to remedy these situations and protect the public’s health while using public transportation. This proposal has support from the Transport Workers Union (TWU), whose members have been impacted by the outbreaks. Council Member Treyger and Assembly Member Colton were joined at today’s press conference in front of the N train station on Kings Highway by District Leader-elect Nancy Tong and a number of residents who regularly use this line and are concerned about the lack of information from the MTA about the recent outbreaks. Council Member Treyger and Colton now plan to move forward with this legislation, putting a formal procedure in place to respond to outbreaks and notify the public.

“This is an important issue that the MTA has to take much more seriously on behalf of the millions of New Yorkers that ride its buses and trains, as well as its employees. The MTA has an obligation to inform the public of any bedbug sightings or outbreaks due to the health implications that are involved. However, the MTA must also consider the economic consequences of bedbug infestations in a home, especially for working New Yorkers who cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars in fumigation or cleaning bills. The MTA can easily inform the public in much the same manner it does for service delays, and we deserve to know exactly what steps it is taking to respond to bedbug infestations,” said Council Member Treyger.

”The public has a right to know if there is a confirmed detection of bedbugs on trains or buses. The families of riders and transit workers must be given the opportunity to take protective measures to minimize the chance of bedbug infestation being transported to their homes and places of work,” said Assembly Member Colton.

“Families are rightfully worried about the disruption and large economic costs that bedbugs can cause, if carried into their homes. Families have a right to be informed as to how to protect themselves from this risk,” said District Leader-elect Tong.

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I finally made it over the 18th Avenue for the Festa di Santa Rosalia and my plan was to eat a bit of everything and report back to you on the best. Unfortunately, it was far more food than I could handle and I was forced to tap out after just three full dishes and a beverage. But some things looked too good not to share, and I hope to get back before the event ends on Sunday for some more grub. Until then, enjoy this roundup of some of the festival’s delectable options, and share your favorites in the comments.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t kick this list off with one of the most traditional options on the menu, panelle. These Sicilian fritters are made of ground up chickpea flour, deep fried and slapped on a chewy sesame roll. It’s a popular street food in Palermo, and given that the 10-day festival is here to celebrate the patron saint of Palermo, it should be the first thing you should dig into to do proper honor to the Italian sister city and Santa Rosalia.

It seemed to only be available at one stand – Pete’s Zeppoles, at the corner of 71st Street. It runs $5. I gave mine a proper dousing of fresh lemon juice and dug in. As good as the panelle was – and it was my first time having it – I was struck by the freshness of the perfect little roll that held it together. And I also have to give props to Giovanni di Napoli, whose blog post brought its existence to my attention.

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While panelle might be a feast tradition for Sicilians, sausage and peppers are the staple of any New York City street fair. So I hit up Lucy’s stand to get mine. The sausage – hot or sweet – runs $7. The roll was a little tough until the sausage delicious grease softened it up for me, and then it went down my gullet in mere seconds. The onions are worth a mention: I could’ve eaten a plate of these alone, simmered to perfection in the sausage’s runoff.

It looked like Lucy’s had a number of traditional Sicilian items as well, including stagghiola (roasted intestines) and the beautiful grilled octopus at the top of this post. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try any; the stand’s surly counter-girl (possibly Lucy?) was in too much of a rush to help the next customer – even though there wasn’t any.

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A Neopolitan pizzaiola apparently took a wrong turn and ended up the Sicilian feast, but I’m glad he did. This little cart makes fresh baked personal pies while you wait. Mine took about three minutes as he stretched the dough, spread the sauce, placed the fresh mozzarella and a sprig of basil and baked it in the wood-fueled oven.

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It came out looking like this. For $8, it was a great deal compared to the cost of some of the other items at the festival, and had a nice charred taste.

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With a long bike ride home and a belly full of fried, greasy things, I had to tap out after the pizza. But these arancini – rice balls – looked great. And the guys behind the counter were having a ball screaming out “I got balls!”, the name of the business.

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Aside from Italian fare, there were a number of Colombian stands hawking arepas, empenadas and chicharron. These guys are at every fair and were a little out of the festival’s theme, so I didn’t have any – but those turkey legs (which I haven’t seen at these stands before) looked fantastic.

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I know, I know. I went to a festival and didn’t get a single zeppole or fried Oreo. Honestly? I don’t regret that. But I do regret not stopping for the candied marshmallows. It wasn’t just a beautiful display – the stand smelled fantastic and I might return just to correct my mistake in not getting them the first time.

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As for beverages? Real men drink pink.

Did I miss something that’s an absolutely must-try at the festival? Let me know in the comments so I can grab a bite before the event’s end.

The feast continues until August 31. It runs from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends, stretching down 18th Avenue from 67th Street to 75th Street.

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Pio Pio, a family-owned chain of Peruvian eateries, brings new flavors to the neighborhood after opening a location at 282 Kings Highway.

This news is a bit late: it appears they opened at the end of May. But we only just found out, and as fans of Peruvian cooking we had to share.

It’s the first Brooklyn location, which has eight other outposts in all the boroughs except Staten Island. It grew out of the Peruvian community in Rego Park, Queens, in 1994 as a simple pollo a la brasa joint (don’t know what that is? Only the most amazing rotisserie chicken you’ll ever taste), but now offers a wide range of dishes included ceviches and staples like aji de gallina.

Pio Pio is among the city’s best known Peruvian eateries, and in just a few months the local spot has racked up some rave reviews on Yelp (four stars and 38 reviews).

We’re going to have to get over there for a bite, but until then, if you’ve been there share your experience in the comments!

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Keep an eye out for Gerald Kinnison, a 65-year-old man who went missing in Coney Island Tuesday night.

Kinnison, who suffers from dementia, was last seen August 26 just after 11:00 p.m. at Surf Manor (2316 Surf Avenue), the assisted living facility where he lives.

He is 6’1″, 175 lbs, with salt and pepper hair and brown eyes. He wears a metal necklace with identifying information.

If you see Kinnison, please call 911 immediately.

West 23rd Street and Mermaid Avenue, the scene of the shooting (Source: Google Maps)

West 23rd Street and Mermaid Avenue, the scene of the shooting (Source: Google Maps)

Following a shooting yesterday in broad daylight that left one dead, and other recent violence in the neighborhood, fed up residents of Coney Island are holding a rally to call for an end to area violence.

The rally will kick off today, August 27, at 6:00 p.m. on West 24th Street and Mermaid Avenue – the site of yesterday’s fatal shooting.

It is being organized by the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative, which formed in December after a spate of fatal shootings in Coney Island around Christmas last year.

Local elected officials were slated to hold a legislative softball game at MCU Park this evening, but they canceled it out of respect following the shooting. Several, including Councilman Mark Treyger and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, will attend the rally instead.

Source: shaletann / Flickr

Source: shaletann / Flickr

For the fourth year in a row, Reaching-Out Community Services will be distributing more than 500 backpacks with school supplies for children in need during its Big Backpack Giveaway event, tomorrow, August 28 at 1:00 p.m.

According to an email from the group: “This is not a handout, its charity with intelligence. How do we know the children need it? It’s a no brainer… the kids are recipients of our emergency food pantry program. So we know they need the help.”

Reaching-Out Community Services is a non-profit organization that provides vital services to struggling community members, including helping them apply for Social Security, Medicaid and also serving as a food pantry. 

The event, sponsored by Empire State Bank, Cpex Real Estate Services, Northfield Bank, Project Hope NY and Fillmore Real Estate, will be held at Reaching-Out Community Services headquarters, 7708 New Utrecht Avenue.

To learn more, go to www.rcsprograms.org.

Lewdness is rudeness, bro. (NYPD)

Lewdness is rudeness, bro. (NYPD)

A man is being sought for questioning after a female straphanger said he fondled himself on the D train at New Utrecht Avenue.

The 27-year-old woman was on a Coney Island-bound D train at noon on Saturday, July 19. As the train rolled into the 62nd Street / New Utrecht Avenue station, the man sitting next to her placed a bag over his lap and began to masturbate, according to police.

The woman took out her cellphone and recorded his face, which she then turned over to police.

The suspect is described as an Asian man, approximately 40 years old, 5’6″ and 150 lbs.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

West 23rd Street and Mermaid Avenue, the scene of the shooting (Source: Google Maps)

West 23rd Street and Mermaid Avenue, the scene of the shooting (Source: Google Maps)

Gunshots rang out on Mermaid Avenue yesterday afternoon, when Coney Island resident Ronnell Bradley, 21, was gunned down outside of a bodega as children played nearby.

Cops were called to the scene just after 4:00 p.m. for a person shot outside of 2327 Mermaid Avenue. They arrived to find Bradley with several gunshot wounds to the torso and legs. He was taken to Coney Island where he was pronounced dead.

There were no arrests and police had no suspects as of early this morning.

According to NBC, two young girls were also nearly clipped by bullets until a member of the Guardian Angels volunteer crime patrol pulled them to safety.

“The two little girls were shouting ‘Mommy, mommy,’” the Guardian Angel, Jose Colon, told the outlet.

Colon also spoke to NY1, telling them that violence remains a serious problem in the community and neighbors are afraid to speak out.

“Too much, a lot of people and they see something suspicious—they be quiet. And they say, ‘You snitch, you get…’ You know what I mean,” Colon told NY1.

The intersection where Bradley was gunned down is the same corner where a 10-year-old boy and 25-year-old man were struck by stray bullets in June. In May, another double shooting on Mermaid Avenue led local pols to call for more cops in the residential portion of Coney Island.

As of August 10, that latest date for which there are statistics, there have been 13 shootings, with 15 victims, in 2014 in the 60th Precinct, which patrols Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Gravesend. That’s a decrease from the same time period in 2013, which saw 17 shootings and 23 victims. Though shootings are down in the 60th Precinct, citywide gun violence is surging, with a 10.3 percent increase in incidents.

Source: istorija/Flickr

Councilman Mark Treyger kicks off a food drive today at his two district offices, as part of a citywide initiative honoring Mother Teresa’s 104th birthday.

Items can be dropped off between now and Friday at 2015 Stillwell Avenue or 445 Neptune Avenue during regular office hours. According to his office, the greatest need is for canned vegetables, tomato sauce, soups, canned and dried fruit, peanut butter, canned meat and stews, rice, pasta, cereal and baby food.

New York City is in the midst of a food crisis at pantries serving the homeless and needy, including at local pantries. Treyger is hoping to fill that gap locally by sending the donations to the Gravesend Houses Tenants’ Association in Coney Island – home of the city’s poorest census tract. Other Council members are organizing food drives to benefit organizations in their community.

For more information about donating, contact Inna Lukyanenko at (718) 373-9673.

Source: Wikimedia Common

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be avoiding Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods that supported his electoral rival, Joe Lhota, including Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst, according to a report in the New York Observer.

The outlet reports that de Blasio has held press conferences in neighborhoods where he performed well in November’s elections, but has failed to appear at all in the more conservative enclaves of Southern Brooklyn.

Mr. de Blasio, a Brooklynite, held press conferences in Democratic strongholds like Williamsburg, Bushwick, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York over the first seven and a half months of his administration. But along the southern swath of Brooklyn–in neighborhoods including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Boro Park, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Mill Basin and Bergen Beach–Mr. de Blasio has not scheduled a public appearance since becoming mayor in January.

Mr. Lhota bested Mr. de Blasio in those southern Brooklyn neighborhoods, in some election districts winning as much as 80 percent of the vote. Citywide, Mr. Lhota was crushed, winning only 24 percent of the vote to Mr. de Blasio’s 73 percent.

Prior to the elections, de Blasio sightings were fairly common in areas like Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach. After votes were cast overwhelmingly in favor of Lhota in those neighborhoods, he hasn’t been heard from. The Observer reports that some in the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst neighborhoods are complaining of the same.

Public appearances are one measure of the mayor’s responsiveness to a community. Another could be the dispatching of high-ranking officials to those neighborhoods, and on that there appears to be mixed results. The Department of Transportation commissioner and Build it Back head have both engaged Southern Brooklyn communities and appeared responsive.

At the same time, the mayor’s office gave a last-minute denial to the Santa Rosalia Society’s request for a date change of the 18th Avenue Feast. The request was made to address community concerns about garbage pickup after the event, but the mayor’s office offered no explanation for the denial despite multiple requests.