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Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

Councilman Vincent Gentile requested this week that the MTA drop the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge’s $15 toll on the 50th anniversary of the span’s dedication.

The pol asked the agency to give drivers a free pass on November 21, or least give a significant reduction, to honor the occasion.

According to the New York Post:

“Or at the very least, roll the toll back to 50 cents,” which was the price when the 2½-mile bridge opened in 1964, Gentile told The Post.

“It would be the right thing for the MTA to do, considering all the money motorists have put into the bridge in tolls for decades,” Gentile said. “And it would really be the greatest way to celebrate the 50th anniversary.”

The agency’s response? Thanks for the idea. Now bugger off.

The MTA’s spokesperson said the authority is “legally prevented from” reducing or suspending the toll from a day, saying that a state-bond requirement mandates that the toll is collected in full.

It’s the agency’s latest bridge-related snuff of Gentile, who earlier this month blasted the MTA for planning a spectacularly one-sided celebration of the 50th anniverary. While several events are scheduled to honor the semicentennial, all but one are on Staten Island. The exception is at a museum in downtown Brooklyn; no observances were planned at the bridge’s Brooklyn base in Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights.

d

Gnomiki Day Care at 2221 Ocean Avenue, which was closed due to its history of violations. Its sister site at 2623 Ocean Avenue has been recommended for closure as well. (Source: Google Maps)

The operators of nine child care facilities – seven in Brooklyn and two in Staten Island – were charged last Friday with submitting false documents to the city to cover up a slew of health and safety problems, according to Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation Mark Peters, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, and Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, Jr.

At the centers, which served about 400 children, investigators said they found a long list of egregious conditions, including rat droppings, poison, a mountain of trash, and a fire alarm falling off the wall, the Daily News reported. Additionally, the DOI said they discovered owners had submitted fake educational degrees, forged medical records, and falsified letters stating employees had been trained in child abuse identification.

The city recently closed four of the centers:

  • Gnomiki Day Care, Inc., 2221 Ocean Avenue, closed due to the site’s violation history, city officials said.
  • Next to Home, 1123 Flatbush Avenue, was shuttered due to a city Department of Buildings vacate order issued in response to multiple DOB and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene violations.
  • Next to Home, 1159 Flatbush Avenue was closed because investigators said the program had been operating under an expired DOB certificate of occupancy.
  • One of a Kind Child Care, 6318 Amboy Road, Staten Island, ended operations after DOHMH petitioned to revoke the permit.

At the remaining five sites:

  • Next to Home, 5566 Kings Highway, was “never leased and never provided services to children,” the DOI said
  • ABC Little Star, 2345 85th Street, is still operating and city officials said DOHMH inspected it this week, finding no new violations.
  • Gnomiki Day Care, Inc., Group Family Day Care, 2623 Ocean Avenue, has been recommended for closure.
  • Next to Home, 353 Ocean Avenue, closed after the owner stopped operations, city officials said.
  • One of a Kind Child Care, a group family daycare operating at 6306 Amboy Road in Staten Island, is operating, but the owner that was arrested will be excluded from the program, officials said.

The site owners who were arrested were:

  • Viktoriya Federovich, 38, of Brooklyn, was the owner of Gnomiki Day Care, Inc. She was charged with presenting fraudulent documents to the city, including two Certificates of Completion for Identification and Reporting of Child Abuse and Maltreatment for an assistant teacher and a volunteer, the DOI said.
  • Elena Kaplan, 53, of Brooklyn, was the owner ABC Little Star Day Care, and, according to the DOI’s investigation, she allegedly submitted a number of false documents to the city, including a a fake public school teacher certificate for herself and state Nurses Association Certificates of Completion for various members of the staff confirming they had received training in identifying child abuse, when, in fact, they allegedly had not, the city officials said.
  • Owen Larman, 41, of Brooklyn, a convicted felon who was found guilty of operating a $12 million mortgage fraud scheme in 2007 and who was also charged in this case with stealing close to $60,000 in public funds. He was the owner and operator of Next to Home Child Care, which provided services at three locations in the borough. Next to Home also obtained a registration to operate a fourth child care program at 5566 Kings Highway, but the DOI said this site did not actually provide any services.
  • Gina Schiavo, 44, of Staten Island, was the owner of One of a King Child Care. According to the DOI, she allegedly introduced an individual to a DOHMH inspector under another teacher’s name and fraudulently provided documents with the name and qualifications of the teacher. When the inspector questioned the individual about her identity, Schiavo allegedly admitted that the individual was using another person’s name.

“These defendants forged and falsified documents in order to cover up safety risks and steal money intended for actual child care, as charged,” Peters said in a prepared statement. “Our investigations underscore the importance of continuing to vigorously police the integrity of the city’s child care systems, an effort that is very much continuing.”

In his statement to the press, Thompson too issued harsh words for the defendants.

“Each day parents throughout the city count on child care providers to protect the safety of their children,” he said. “It is disgraceful that greedy operators would circumvent safety provisions for their own benefit. Our parents and children deserve better and that’s why we worked so closely with the Department of Investigation on these cases.”

grimm2

Embattled Congressman Michael Grimm is holding a lead, though just barely, against Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia, according to a new poll from NY1 / Capital New York/ Siena.

Grimm, who faces an embarrassing 20-count indictment on tax evasion and perjury charges, hold a four-point lead on Recchia among likely voters, with a 44-40 split. The poll’s margin of error is 4 percent, according to Capital New York.

The outlet reports:

“To see an incumbent six points below 50, that’s not a good sign,” said Steve Greenberg, a pollster for Siena College.

Grimm has the support of 73 percent of Republicans, and 27 percent of Democrats, and leads among independents, 47-33.

But 54 percent of voters said Grimm’s indictment makes them less likely to vote for the second-term congressman, including 39 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of voters who said they’re currently supporting Grimm.

“He cannot afford to lose a fifth of his voters right now,” said Greenberg.

… A near-majority of likely voters—49 percent—said they view Grimm unfavorably, compared to 39 percent who said they had a favorable opinion of him. Those opinions were split along party lines, with 60 percent of Republicans holding a favorable opinion of Grimm, and 30 percent unfavorable—numbers that were reversed among Democrats.

Predictably, Grimm is performing better in Staten Island, where the majority of the district’s voters live, while Recchia is outperforming the incumbent in Brooklyn, which the Democrat represented in the City Council.

Notably, nearly half of the district’s voters said they know little or nothing about Recchia.

To see the full results of the poll, look here, and also check out Capital’s analysis.

Grimm faces criminal charges for tax evasion, fraud, conspiracy and illegal hiring practice, all in connection to an Upper East Side restaurant he once owned. The pol has denied wrongdoing.

Long before those charges, the congressman was dogged by probes of his fundraising for the 2010 campaign. While no charges were filed against the pol, two associates including an ex-girlfriend face charges.

His trial is scheduled for after the November elections.

nashaly

Cops are turning to the public for help in their search for Nashaly Perez, a 15-year-old girl who went missing Monday.

Perez, who lives near West 33rd Street and Mermaid Avenue, was last seen just after 1pm leaving her school, P.S. 371, in Sunset Park.

She was wearing a white bandanna, red blouse, black jeans and red and black sneakers at the time of her disappearance. She is 5’3″ tall and weighs 120lbs.

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.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement. (Source: Adams’ office)

Several local schools are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars each for repairs, upgrades and improvements as part of a $3.1 million allocation by Borough President Eric Adams to education institutions across the borough.

The beep today unveiled 16 school-related capital projects that will benefit from the allocation, which was packed into the city’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

“If you look around Downtown Brooklyn, something new is rising up every day and this is an exciting time for the borough and this area, as education and schools represent the vibrant energies of what’s coming up at this time,” said Borough President Adams. “This budget spans the far reaches of the borough; from Metrotech to Midwood and from Bed-Stuy to Bath Beach, we are leaving no school behind. Our goal is education, education, and education.”

The allocations are largely for technology upgrades, although some schools are receiving it for more general improvements.

Schools in our area are slated to receive the following:

  • $350,000 to James Madison High School for upgrades to the school’s library and media centers;
  • $225,000 for improvements to the library at Sheepshead Bay High School;
  • $200,000 for classroom technology purchases at Joseph B. Cavallaro I.S. 281;
  • $100,000 for classroom technology purchases at P.S. 169;

Local elected officials joined Adams during the announcement this morning to celebrate the funding.

“School libraries and media centers are essential to the success of today’s high school students,” said Assemblymember Helene Weinstein. “I thank Brooklyn Borough President Adams for this funding, which will enhance these services at Sheepshead and James Madison High Schools, and allow students to reach even greater heights.”

“Investing in education is the best investment we can make for the future of our state and country,” said Assemblymember William Colton. “These capital improvements will help bring much-needed technological advancements to our local Brooklyn schools that will better our children. This $200,000 capital grant for I.S. 281 will allow for the school to make technology improvements, including by purchasing smartboards and computer laptops, that will benefit our students by enhancing their learning experience, and provide valuable resources for our educators.”

debit-card

Ocean’s Eleven this is not.

Cops are looking for a man that they say tried to break into an ATM yesterday using only a saw.

Employees of Borough Park’s Berkshire Bank at 5010 13th Avenue arrived yesterday morning to find the ATM all scuffed up – because that’s about all a saw will do to the heavy-duty electronic bank tellers. They called the cops, and after reviewing footage found the man entered the bank’s ATM area just after midnight to make his attempted heist.

Guess what? “He did not remove any money from the location,” according to cops. Go figure.

The suspect is described as a white male, aged 35 to 40, between 5’8″ to 5’10″ and 180 lbs.

What does it take to break into an ATM? According to the know-it-all Wikipedia, most methods require stealing the whole damn thing and then bashing the bastid open with industrial construction machinery, or stealing the whole damn thing, sealing it, filling it with gas and exploding it from the inside. Or digging a tunnel beneath it and breaking in from the bottom – again, with really insane equipment. More than a saw, at least.

Oh, and most of these techniques have been neutralized, too.

Anyone with information about this incredibly stupid criminal 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.

The Highlawn School (Source: DOE)

O’Hagan (Source: CEE)

Under most circumstances, a teacher making kids pay rent to use their desks would see them crucified on the front pages of the city’s tabloids. But at P.S. 97 The Highlawn School (1855 Stillwell Avenue), fourth grade teacher Kathleen O’Hagan scored a coveted teaching award.

That’s because the rent is not real. Neither are the job applications students fill out, or the insurance they purchase. It’s all part of a simulated “mini-economy” O’Hagan uses to teach economics and financial literacy to her students.

The 11-year veteran was one of three metro-area educators to receive the Alfred P. Sloan Teaching Champion Award this year, given in recognition of innovative teaching methods promoting financial education at the K-12 level. Now in its second year, the Council for Economic Education (CEE) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced the awards for the area’s top economics educators at the beginning of September and will formally celebrate them at a gala on October 30.

In addition to the simulated economy, O’Hagan organizes student debates on economic issues, uses a play to teach students about the Industrial Revolution, and teaches kids about production using a 3-D printer.

O’Hagan said that financial literacy is important to helping her students overcome the economic obstacles they may have been born into. In a statement, she said:

“Students are born into their parents’ economic reality and unfortunately, for far too many city children this often means not seeing their parents because they work multiple jobs, sometimes coming to school hungry, being under-dressed for the weather, or arriving to school without basic school supplies. Economic education and financial literacy instruction empowers students to envision and prepare for a better economic future for themselves and hopefully, also teaches them the importance of being philanthropic.”

She and two other educators – O’Hagan being the only one in the five boroughs – were selected by a panel of experts for her creativity and ability to engage students. Honorees receive a $5,000 prize and the school receives a $2,500 cash award to support economic and financial education.

The other two teachers to win the award are Amanda Tombari, a teacher in West Nyack, NY, and Darren Gurney, of New Rochelle, NY.

“We applaud these outstanding teachers for their innovation and dedication to making economic concepts come alive for their students,” said Nan J. Morrison, CEE President and CEO, in a press release. “We hope that by bringing awareness to their achievements, these educators will serve as inspiration for their fellow teachers to bring economics and financial literacy to every classroom.”

It’s not the first award for O’Hagan, who previously won a writing fellowship at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullen Center in 2009, a MetLife fellowship in 2007 and is the recipient of both the UFT’s Trachtenberg and Chapter Building Awards in 2013.

Congratulations to O’Hagan and the Highlawn School! Keep up the good work!

Jamaica F Train

Local leaders are putting pressure on the MTA to restore express service on the F train in Brooklyn, last experienced by commuters in 1987, while the MTA remains a bit iffy on the issue.

In a letter sent to MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast today, a bipartisan group of 14 city, state, and federal leaders said that the “benefits of restoring the F train express service in Brooklyn would be felt throughout the borough with decreased travel time to Manhattan, decreased delays along the entire line, and a better quality of life for all subway riders in our communities.”

To that end, they’d like to see limited northbound F express service restored in the mornings and southbound F express service in the evenings, saying this could also help ease crowding caused by an increase in ridership over the past year at 19 of the 22 Brooklyn F stops.

The MTA has been studying the possibility, but says that track work on the Culver Viaduct would have to be completed before they could do it — and they don’t have an end date for that, reports AM New York. Additionally, there are other challenges to restoring express service — track space for when the rails merge between the Bergen St and Jay St stops, as well as figuring out how riders at different stations will be impacted by the change.

“The largest volumes are getting on at some of the stations closer in anyway,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg told AM New York. “How much savings is there really? That’s why we’re doing the study, to find out.”

2009 review of the F line that State Senator Daniel Squadron created with the MTA cited those issues, and added that express service “would require additional trains and cars; such a service increase would increase operating costs.”

The elected officials who sent the letter are Borough President Eric Adams; Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Jerrold Nadler, and Michael Grimm; State Senators Martin Golden, Diane Savino, and Squadron; Assembly Members James Brennan, Steven Cymbrowitz, William Colton, and Joan Millman; and Council Members Stephen Levin, David Greenfield, and Mark Treyger.

They all believe the benefits outweigh the costs — what do you think, do we need express service back on the F?

missingThe search for a missing 73-year-old woman may have come to a tragic end, with a body believed to be Crucita “Lucy” Alvarado found on the roof of a Coney Island building nearly a month after she went missing.

Police found a decomposing body on the roof of 2930 West 30th Street last Thursday. The corpse was so decomposed the first responders could not identify it, or even determine its gender.

The medical examiner is still working to identify the body and the cause of death as of this morning, but investigators believe it to be that of Alvarado, an Alzheimer’s sufferer who went missing August 12. Alvarado lived around the corner from the West 30th Street building between Surf Avenue and Mermaid Avenue, where the body was found.

The corpse was wearing black sweatpants and a dark-hooded sweatshirt, the same clothing Alvarado was last seen wearing, amNY reports.

The body was found by a maintenance worker just after 10am, police said.

Since Alvarado went missing last month, family members and friends have plastered the Southern Brooklyn area with fliers of the missing woman.

“It’s been hell, day in and day out, nights and weekends,” Pedro Delvalle, Alvarado’s son-in-law, told the Post.

Councilman Mark Treyger, who said his office has been assisting the family in their search, released the following statement after the discovery was made.

“I am very sad to hear this terrible news, especially knowing how many loved ones have been searching for Lucy and praying for her return over the past few weeks. I send my truly heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Alvarado and will continue pray for them and assist them in any way possible,” Treyger said. “Nobody should ever face the type of ordeal that Mrs. Alvarado’s family and friends endured over the past month. Thank you to everyone who cared enough to look out for Mrs. Alvarado and help spread word of her disappearance. We must come together now as a community to be there for this family as they grieve their loss, and work as a city to find ways to help prevent this from happening to any other families.”

Source: dtanist/Flickr

IT’S BACK, BABY! The Montague Tubes, thesubway tunnel connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan, closed 13 months ago to repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. It reopened last night, with an N train going through first (the N will take the tunnel on nights and weekends), and R trains resuming travel there this morning.

D LINE

From 10:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, there are no D trains between 205 St and Bedford Park Blvd.

N LINE

Regular service resumed 11pm Sunday, September 14! Late night N trains run via the R stopping at City Hall, Cortlandt, Rector, Whitehall, Court Sts, and Jay St-MetroTech.

R LINE

Full service resumed on the R line between Court St and Whitehall-South Ferry at 6am today!

From 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, there are no R trains in Brooklyn between 59 St and 36 St—take the N. R trains run between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St, Brooklyn.

F LINE

From 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the A from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.

From 12:01am to 5am, Tuesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound F trains run local from 71 Av to Roosevelt Av.

From 10:15am to 3pm, Tuesday to Thursday, Coney Island-bound F trains skip Avenue U.

All times until 5am, Monday, September 22: 179 St-bound F trains skip Van Wyck Blvd and Sutphin Blvd.