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photo via tsc nyc marathon

This Sunday, November 2 is the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon–and whether you’re planning to go out and cheer or steer clear of race-related traffic concerns altogether, there’s an extensive list of street closures you might want to get to know. Via the NYPD:

Beginning at midnight on Sunday, November 2, the upper level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic. At approximately 7 a.m. rolling street closures will commence along the route in preparation for the marathon… Street closures and parking restrictions are expected to cause traffic delays. The use of public transportation is highly recommended.

Below are the Brooklyn roads being affected by closures (see full five borough list here):

  • Dahlgren Place between Verrazano Bridge and 92nd Street (North Bound)
  • 92nd Street between Dahlgren Place and 4th Avenue
  • 4th Avenue between 92nd Street and Flatbush Avenue
  • Flatbush Avenue between 4th Avenue and Lafayette Avenue
  • Brooklyn Queens Expressway (South-bound) between Verrazano Bridge and 79th Street
  • 7th Avenue between 79th Street and 75th Street / Bay Ridge Parkway
  • 7th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • 74th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue
  • 6th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • Bay Ridge Parkway between 7th Avenue and 4th Avenue
  • 92nd Street between Gatling Place and Fort Hamilton Parkway
  • Fort Hamilton Parkway between 92nd Street and 94th Street
  • 94th Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway and 4th Avenue (North-bound)
  • 4th Avenue between 94th Street and Flatbush Avenue (South-bound)
  • Bedford Avenue between Lafayette Avenue and Nassau Avenue
  • Nassau Avenue between Bedford Ave / Lorimer St and Manhattan Ave
  • Manhattan Avenue between Nassau Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue
  • Greenpoint Avenue between Manhattan Ave and McGuiness Boulevard
  • McGuiness Boulevard between Greenpoint Avenue and 48th Avenue
  • Pulaski Bridge (South-bound)

Police also note the security measures for this year’s event for both runners and spectators, including how to make the day easier on yourself:

Prior to taking their starting positions on Staten Island, runners will be screened and their bags inspected. The New York Road Runners has provided the participants with clear bags to expedite this process. Individuals who require event credentials and special access to secure areas, such as organizers, volunteers and other personnel, have been pre-screened in addition to the physical screening they will receive on Sunday.

Along the course, bags and backpacks may be subject to search. Bag checks and magnetometer screenings will be conducted in the area of the finish line. Spectators can help expedite, if not alleviate some of the security process, by leaving backpacks at home.

If you’re running in this year’s event, good luck!

Photo via TSC New York City Marathon

Not sure if I should vote for the Giant Douche Or the Turd Sandwich - Not sure if I should vote for the Giant Douche Or the Turd Sandwich  Futurama Fry

Source: QuickMeme.com

One candidate is facing a 20-count indictment on charges of tax evasion. His campaign is mired with allegations of illegal contributions. Friends are likely going to prison. His associates, from mobsters to porn kings, leave much to be desired.

The other one is an empty suit of the highest order, unable to even bullshit his way through some of the simplest policy questions. He has focused instead on calling his opponent names (to be fair, a trick they’ve both used).

The race, of course is between incumbent Congressman Michael Grimm and Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia.

Faced with the prospect of endorsing one or the other, newspaper editors would be best to sit this one out. Admittedly, that’s easy for us to say – we don’t do endorsements. We think you can make up your own mind… even though voters surely face a doozy this coming Tuesday.

The Staten Island Advance is made of sterner stuff than us, I guess. They issued their endorsement this morning to Congressman Michael Grimm. It was a bit of a surprise, given that the paper has thoroughly and aggressively reported on Grimm’s woes. But the endorsement was one for the ages, as the editorial team churned out 990 words to thinly mask what was little more than a reluctant, “Mrrrph, this one I guess. Sure, whatever.”

Here are some of the highlights (paragraph breaks may have been removed to fit the list format):

  • There are, on occasion, electoral races in which both candidates are of high quality and high integrity and conduct a tough but fair campaign about the issues … The election for the House of Representatives seat in the 11th New York Congressional District is nothing like that.
  • That choice for us is Michael Grimm. Surprisingly, if a choice is to be made, Mr. Grimm should be that choice, even under these circumstances.
  • [Recchia] doesn’t bring much else to the table. His campaign strength, it would seem, is to say he’s not Michael Grimm.
  • To have Staten Island’s congressman under federal indictment has been a black mark on this borough and has made it the laughingstock of the nation … Unfortunately, his opponent’s astonishing incoherence in public statements only adds to the ridiculousness.
  • Stories about Mr. Grimm’s extra-curricaular activities are numerous. We learned that he spent considerable time in the ladies’ room of a Brooklyn tavern with a female friend, who he claimed to be counseling.  We heard he pulled a gun during a melee in a dance club in Manhattan. We heard him threaten to throw a reporter off a balcony because he didn’t like a question posed.
  • As distasteful as this contest may be on a number of levels, we have a choice to make, as do the voters. On Tuesday, Mr. Grimm is still the best practical choice for Staten Island. Our system of justice calls for us to wait until February, when he faces trial, to discover the rightness or wrongness of that decision.

It’s pretty clear the venerable editors over at the advance know their choice is between two lumps of coal. Or, rather, as South Park once so well depicted the modern American electoral system, between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich. And if that sounds like a reach, just watch this clip between the two fictionalized candidates and tell us if it really is any less substantial than the two televised debates between Grimm and Recchia:

We don’t know about you, voters of the 11th Congressional District. But we’re writing in Hypnotoad.

La Casa Bella (Source: Google Maps)

La Casa Bella (Source: Google Maps)

When Superstorm Sandy struck and Gravesend Bay poured into the neighborhood, it took six days to pump the water out of La Casa Bella at 2579 Cropsey Avenue.

“[It] was very crippling. Financially, mentally, physically—it was trying,” owner Rosemary Picarello told NY1.

The business wasn’t in a Zone A flood area that required evacuation, but it got the water anyway. They were closed for a month, with the saltwater wiping out electric, plumbing, heating, restaurant equipment and supplies.

Like most small businesses, which were told to seek government-back loans, they received no financial help.

“FEMA, the state—there was no help whatsoever from them. We had to get back on our feet by ourselves, and from the support of the community and going into our own funds. That’s how we were able to reopen,” says Picarello.

Reopen they did, and now they’re celebrating 21 years in business, doling out Italian staples, seafood, pizza, heros and more.

Congratulations to our neighbors at La Casa Bella, and here’s wishing you many more!

Photo by Knightmare6

Photo by Knightmare6

A Brooklyn court ruled that the city was not responsible for the drowning of a 10-year-old girl in 2008, saying that the city is “not an insurer” of the safety of parkgoers.

The case stems from the July 2008 drowning of Akira Johnson, who was swimming with her cousin, also 10, on Coney Island. They became distressed and a nearby lifeguard came to their aid, only saving Johnson’s cousin. The girl, lost to the water, washed ashore days later.

Brooklyn Eagle reports:

The family filed a wrongful death suit against the city with claims of negligence. A lower court judge found merit in the family’s suit and allowed the case to proceed. The higher appeals court, however, acknowledged the city’s responsibility to its park users, but held that the city’s lifeguards did not deviate from its public safety obligations.

Evidence showed that the city “had furnished a sufficient number of lifeguards, that those lifeguards were experienced and competent…that they were adequately trained and properly certified… and that they reacted to the situation in accordance with proper procedure,” the appeals court noted

The victim’s family argued that the training was inadequate as it takes place in a swimming pool.

New York Law Journal reports:

Plaintiff’s attorney Arnold E. DiJoseph argued that the lifeguards were not properly trained to handle rescues in rip currents. “Basically, they are trained in swimming pool rescues,” he said in an interview.

But a unanimous panel of Justices Ruth Balkin, John Leventhal, Joseph Maltese and Betsy Barros held the city had met its duty to maintain the beach in “reasonably safe condition,” citing the lifeguards’ prompt mobilization and the fact that they rescued Akira’s 10-year-old cousin in the same incident. At least six lifeguards responded when they observed the two children in distress.

“[The] city is not an insurer of the safety of the users of its parks, including its beaches,” the court ruled.

The 86th Street Foot Locker (Source: Google Maps)

The 86th Street Foot Locker (Source: Google Maps)

martinezDanny Martinez, 21, was arrested and charged with spying on women using the bathroom of Foot Locker at 2061 86th Street, where he worked.

Martinez confessed to cops that he used his cell phone to film women in the loo, and has been charged on two counts of unlawful surveillance. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison, and is currently out on $1,000 bail.

The deed came to light when a former employee, Jackie Rico, went to use the bathroom last week and spotted a “blinking thingy” nestled on a shelf behind a dragon figurine. It was a cell phone, which she turned off and notified the supervisor of, saying she believed it was Martinez – who was exiting the bathroom as she went in, according to the Daily News.

Rico knew Martinez personally, having hired him when she was still assistant manager of the location.

Cops were called to the store on Friday. After reviewing the cell phone’s files, they found the video of Rico and another woman, the paper reports.

“My actions were really wrong,” [Rico] told the News when reached by phone. “It was a bad choice to do.”

He tried to shrug it off as fun between friends and said he had apologized to both women. He added that it was the first time he had engaged in peeping and promised it won’t happen again.

“It will be the last of it,” he said.

According to Martinez’s Facebook page, he is a graduate of New Utrecht High School.

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Republican Congressman Michael Grimm and Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia faced off for their third debate last night, trading barbs about corruption, influence and skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee.

The televised debate was widely covered as the campaign attracts national attention, due in part to Grimm’s 20-count federal indictment and Recchia’s blunders on the campaign trail. The debate followed much the same formula, with Recchia deflecting questions of policy and focusing on the incumbent’s legal woes, while Grimm portrayed the Democrat as a left-wing ideologue unprepared for the job.

On the simpler, seemingly innocent questions, the candidates still faltered. Neither could recall the name of the last book they had read.

“These are not supposed to be stumpers,” said moderator Errol Louis, according to the New York Times.

Recchia also divulged that he has smoked pot, while Grimm said he never did, according to the Daily News.

And when the Democrat accused Grimm of skinny-dipping during a trip to Israel, the incumbent called him a liar, pointing out that, though he was there, it was a member from Kansas who took the nude plunge.

You can find more detailed coverage of the debate here:

The general election will take place November 4.

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

By Jesse Coburn

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the day “transcendent.” Senator Charles Schumer predicted “a glorious future” for the neighborhood. Shola Olatoye of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) dubbed the plans “a triumph.”

They sang these praises while announcing that $108 million in federal funding would go toward renovating a low-income Coney Island housing project severely damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

But some living in the Coney Island Houses have their doubts. “I don’t trust them,” said Judy Toro, 66, a resident since 1996. “They make a lot of promises.”

It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy tore through New York, but many public housing tenants are still feeling its effects. The storm caused $19 billion in losses across the five boroughs, and these low-income residents were among the hardest hit. The Coney Island Houses, a five-building complex with nearly 1,400 residents at 2410 Surf Avenue, will be the first such property damaged by Sandy to undergo major repairs, and the city now hopes to acquire roughly $1 billion in additional federal funding for similar improvements in other public residences.

“My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done.”

 

–Coney Island Houses resident.

But decades of strained relations with NYCHA have left some tenants deeply suspicious of the beleaguered city agency, causing even good news to be met with wariness.

Toro’s tenth-floor apartment overlooks Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk, but the interior doesn’t quite match the view. Black mold grows in her bathroom, plaster is crumbling in the living room, and she said roaches and spiders have infested the kitchen walls. “My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done,” she said.

Problems like these have long afflicted public housing, but Toro said that they’ve only gotten worse since Sandy. A large water stain on her grandson’s bedroom floor provides a blunt reminder of the storm, which left residents of the Coney Island Houses without heat and electricity for 22 days.

The long list of outstanding repairs in Toro’s apartment is symptomatic of the ailments plaguing the housing authority, the largest such provider in the nation, with 334 developments that accommodate more than 400,000 tenants. Its 2014 projected deficit is $191 million, due largely to a steady reduction of federal funding. And though the backlog of work orders has decreased greatly in recent years, it still runs in the tens of thousands.

Superstorm Sandy only exacerbated these chronic issues. The storm affected more than 400 public housing buildings across the city and left more than 80,000 residents without basic amenities for weeks. The Coney Island Houses is one of many properties still relying on temporary boilers two years after the storm.

“The funding, design, and implementation challenges [of NYCHA's Sandy-related repairs] are unparalleled,”

 

–Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian.

As part of the renovations, NYCHA will install back-up generators, build an elevated structure to house new boilers, and replace numerous mechanical, electrical and architectural features damaged by the storm. It also will install new surveillance cameras to provide everyday security and to allow authorities to monitor the property in the event of another storm. The funding will not, however, cover repairs for storm-related damages in apartments like Toro’s that are above the first floor.

A NYCHA spokesperson said work should begin next summer. If successful, this approach to implementing Sandy repairs, which relies on funding from FEMA, may serve as a model for renovations in at least 15 other public housing developments that sustained heavy damage in the storm.

According to Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian and professor at the New York Institute of Technology, the sheer magnitude of damage at some properties has made it uniquely difficult for the authority to carry out repairs. “The funding, design, and implementation challenges are unparalleled,” he said. As for the two-year wait for extensive Sandy-related renovations, Bloom praised the city agency for not “rushing a fix.”

An authority spokesperson echoed the need for patience: “Very early on in the aftermath of the storm, once we made temporary repairs to restore critical utilities, we made a determination that it would be irresponsible to simply repair in place and rebuild for short-term expediency instead of long-term sustainability, which could potentially compromise our infrastructure and leave our residents vulnerable.”

But this protracted wait has left some residents skeptical of the authority’s ability to care for its aging buildings. “When I see it, I’ll believe it,” said Carmen Gonzalez, 61, of the planned renovations. “They’re always promising.”

Amelia Riviera has called the Houses home for more than three decades, and the 57-year-old said the problems facing the buildings predate Sandy. “We had to wait for a storm to get help like this?” she asked, mentioning longtime issues like faulty elevators, broken security cameras, and trash on the facility’s grounds. “The buildings were already corrupt.”

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

The Coney Island Houses consist of five 14-story towers that accommodate 1,398 low-income residents. The buildings were completed in 1957—one of many high-rise, low-income developments built on the outskirts of the city.

Cheap land, low population density, and preexisting poor communities made places like Coney Island and the Rockaways seem like logical places to put these new housing blocks. Since then, however, these beachside locations have proven a mixed blessing, as residents are isolated both geographically and economically from the rest of the city. Crime continues to trouble the neighborhood, although it has significantly improved in recent decades. And the area’s median household incomeremains among the city’s lowest.

But as the 2012 storm made painfully clear, natural phenomena count among the most serious threats to the neighborhood and its almost 10,000 public housing residents.

The city has received pointed criticism for its response to public housing impacted by Sandy. In “Weathering the Storm,” an independent report by a group of community advocacy and research organizations from 2013, the authors wrote: “The City’s response to Superstorm Sandy was slow and communication to residents before, during and after the storm was inadequate.”

But the report saw promise in the wave of progressive politicians and officials who have arrived in local public office in recent years. Chief among them is Mayor de Blasio, for whom housing is a central concern. And according to Judy Toro, the authority’s response time to work orders has improved in the past few months. Recently she received a new refrigerator, three years after submitting her request.

For residents like Toro, however, such developments will have to become the norm rather than the exception if perceptions of the authority are to improve. The upcoming renovations could represent such a sea change. But Toro is less than certain: “I’m not holding my breath.”

Councilman David Greenfield, Source: Facebook

Councilman David Greenfield, Source: Facebook

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman David Greenfield:

Councilman David G. Greenfield is partnering with New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) to provide local residents access to free legal help at his district office this Wednesday October 29th. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the NYLAG’s mobile van will be parked outside the Councilman’s office to offer legal assistance to residents who need help but cannot afford an attorney. Anyone interested in taking advantage of these free services is encouraged to call Councilman Greenfield’s office to schedule a 45 minute legal assistance appointment. Attorneys will be on hand to provide free confidential legal advice pertaining to issues residents have with government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, housing and other public assistance programs.

“Everyday my office receives calls from neighbors seeking legal help. The New York Legal Assistance Group has been an invaluable partner in helping assist these people in need with free legal assistance,” said Councilman David Greenfield. “I am proud to team up with NYLAG this Wednesday to bring their excellent attorneys right to Boro Park to help people one-on-one.”

Councilman Greenfield is committed to expanding legal assistance in his district. He hosted the community’s first ever NYLAG mobile legal assistance day with great success in the spring of 2013. Additionally, the Councilman has sponsored free immigration-related legal services in his district office twice a month in partnership with the City University of New York Citizenship Now project. Any resident interested in accessing immigration services is encouraged to call the Councilman’s district office to schedule an appointment.

The NYLAG mobile van will be parked outside Councilman Greenfield’s office at 4424 16th Avenue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Tuesday. Interested residents should immediately contact his office at (718) 853-2704 for more information about the types of services that will be provided or to schedule a timeslot for Tuesday. Residents should bring identification and any relevant paperwork or documents to their appointment.

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Borough Park Assemblyman Dov Hikind is in hot water with outraged constituents after co-sponsoring a job fair that charged unemployed workers a $20 entrance fee.

The New York Post reports:

The event in Midwood was jointly promoted by the Orthodox Union and state Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

… Hikind, who has $792,691 in his campaign treasury, defended the fee.

“There are expenses involved. It takes money to put this together,” Hikind said of the Jobs Fair held at Young Israel of Midwood on Thursday.

Hikind said many people who showed up at the door were allowed in for free, if they said they couldn’t afford the fee.

A notice put out by the Orthodox Union Jobs Board last month also required employers to pay $200 to participate and not-for-profit groups, $100.

The controversial job fair fee was first reported by JPUpdates. The site said approximately 30 companies attended, paying the fees mentioned above.

The participants consisted mostly from middle aged, 18 and older to special needs kids. “Why are you charging me money to enter? I am unemployed,” one angry person, who refused to identify himself, told a staffer at the entrance. Another person, a lady who arrived at around 6:15 pm, was furious that she was still asked to pay the fee to spend the last 45 minutes at the event.

Hikind spent approximately two hours at the event, with campaign workers hanging posters on the wall and handing out palm cards. An update on the story says that the OU took issue with the blatant campaigning, and the pol had been told he would not be permitted to hang posters or to distributed literature.

The organization also defended the fee, citing expenses, but said they accommodated those who could not pay.

Hikind is running for reelection on November 4.

Source: mikey k/flickr

Source: mikey k/flickr

A dead man was found beneath Coney Island’s Riegelmann Boardwalk on Saturday, sparking an investigation into his death.

The man, who has not been identified, is described as a Hispanic man in his 40s. He was found at approximately 6:15pm near West 25th Street.

The Daily News reports that no foul play is suspected, but an autopsy will be done by the medical examiner to determine how he died.