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Photo by William Alatriste

Photo by William Alatriste

Elected officials, community and labor leaders celebrated the 12th anniversary of the Bay Parkway Community Job Center on Friday, honoring it for its history of helping immigrant laborers attain the American dream through education, jobs, safety training and grassroots organizing.

We’ve written about the job center before, and the role it plays in providing services for day laborers and undocumented workers out of its red and yellow shack near Ceasar’s Bay. Operated by the Workers’ Justice Project, it has evolved over the year with support from elected officials, including Councilman Vincent Gentile, former Councilman Dominic Recchia and others. It took a beating from Superstorm Sandy, and the shack was replaced by a trailer – and organizers got back to work.

“While this job site has had its ups and downs over the 12 years, amazing things have happened here thanks to the Workers Justice Project – an organization whose goal is to give low wage immigrant workers a voice and protection in the labor workforce,” said Gentile in his remarks at the anniversary celebration. “I personally have met so many wonderful and interesting people here, many with great backgrounds and training in various fields in their mother country but now here to work and pursue a piece of the American Dream.”

The center, open since March 2002, keeps their more than 7,000 clients informed of their rights, and also connects them with small businesses and those in need of skilled workers. The center also secures them a better living wage of $22.50 per hour – the highest among similar organizations in the region.

In addition to Gentile, Borough President Eric Adams, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny and councilmembers Carlos Menchaca and Mark Treyger were in attendance.

Diana Durand

Diana Durand

Diana Durand, a former beau of Congressman Michael Grimm who was arrested in January for illegally funneling money to the Republican pol’s campaign, will not implicate the congressman in the scheme, squashing a plea deal.

The Daily News reports:

“This is not about Dianna Durand. This is about Michael Grimm,” [Durand's attorney Stuart] Kaplan told the Daily News Tuesday. “They think that she is in a position to provide information about him.”

Kaplan said the case is headed to trial. Prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York are expected to seek an indictment of Durand in the next few weeks.

Durand, 47, was cuffed in January and charged with violating federal campaign laws to steer money to Grimm. Prosecutors say she found and used straw donors to accept donations that exceeded the $4,800 legal maximum to support his 2010 campaign. She faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.

According to Durand’s lawyer, her prosecution is part of an effort to bring down the congressman, but his client has nothing to offer. He said that Durand’s actions were driven by ignorance of the law, and the pol wasn’t aware of her actions.

Members of a City Council committee are pushing a resolution introduced last week that calls for the city’s 59 community boards to adopt sweeping reforms, including term limits.

The council’s Committee on Governmental Operations met on March 3, drawing up the list of recommendations to improve the recruitment and function of the boards.

The local boards, each made up of 50 unpaid, volunteer members, have long drawn criticism for their appointment processes, which many say are politically motivated. Boardmembers are appointed by the borough president at the recommendation of local councilmembers, leading some to criticize their independence.

According to the Daily Eagle, the recommendations include:

  • Term limits of five consecutive two-year terms for board members.
  • Online application and technology infrastructure.
  • Conflict of interest disclosure by all applicants.
  • Requiring reappointment applications with evaluation of attendance, service and participation.
  • Ban on political appointments; specifically staffers of elected officials and executive board members of a political party.
  • Filling vacancies within 30 days.
  • Improved outreach and recruitment focusing on diversity, geography and experts.
  • Youth representation by 16- and 17-year olds as public members of youth committees and as full board members.

While the existence of the community boards are mandated by the City Charter, each board maintains its own bylaws dictating how they function. Some boards, such as Community Board 13, representing Coney Island and Brighton Beach, have term limits for its officers, while others, like Community Board 15, representing Sheepshead Bay, do not.

In Sheepshead Bay, community board recruitment and membership became an issue during the recent City Council race. At a September debate, the Democratic candidates discussed the local board’s diversity as well as term limits and the ways to depoliticize the appointment process.

Chaim Deutsch, who went on to win the election, said he hoped to strengthen and diversify the board, but didn’t offer details. He did note that he was opposed to term limits for board members.

“If you have board members that are there and following the processes and going to meetings and following up, and where you have various issues like zoning issues and they actually go down and look at the homes they’re having a hearing on – that person should stay,” Deutsch said at the time.

iceskating

Councilman Mark Treyger asked us to spread the word about this free family ice-skating event at Abe Stark Skating Rink this Thursday.

The event kicks off at 10:00 a.m. and lasts until 1:00 p.m., giving kids a little something to do over the spring break. The rink is located at 1902 West 19th Street in Coney Island.

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.

Source: Austin King/Flickr

D LINE

There are no scheduled subway service adjustments at this time.

N LINE

From 10:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, Coney Island-bound N trains skip 30 Av, Broadway, 36 Av, and 39 Av.

All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

R LINE

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., 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.

All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

F LINE

From 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Thursday, 179 St-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

Marcell Dockery, the 16-year-old who confessed to setting a mattress on fire in the hallway of a Coney Island public housing building last week, has been charged with an additional count of felony murder after one of the two police officers critically injured in the blaze passed away.

If convicted, Dockery faces a maximum sentence of 25 years-to-life in prison.

“The senseless act of setting that fire tragically led to the death of NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra. His partner Officer Rosa Rodriguez suffered critical injuries. Both dedicated and courageous officers did not hesitate to risk their lives to save others. We will bring the Defendant to justice for these terrible and horrific crimes,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson in a statement Friday evening.

Guerra, 38, a married father of four, succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday morning. His partner, Rodriguez, remain in critical condition but has a more optimistic prognosis.

The two were the first emergency responders to respond to the Sunday fire at 2007 Surf Avenue. They rode the elevator to the 13th floor, where the fire was believed to be. As the doors opened, they were engulfed in thick black smoke, and collapsed due to lack of oxygen.

Funeral services were held this morning for Guerra, and a wake was held over the weekend.

His death broke a three-year streak during which no police officer had been killed in the line of duty.

The NYPD is now overhauling its fire response protocol, including basic fire training that could have saved Guerra’s life. Officers are being instructed to take the stairs when possible. If they must use the elevator, they’re being told to check open shafts for smoke and to stop at least two floors below the fire.

Source: Dara Skolnick/Flickr

Alternate side parking regulations will be suspended Tuesday through Friday, April 15 to 18 for Passover, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday. Wednesday is the anniversary of the Rush-Bagot Treaty, establishing the border between the United States and Canada, and we think the Department of Transportation is also looking to honor this, although they have not said so.

All other regulations, including parking meters, remain in effect.

You can download your own 2014 Alternate Side Parking Suspension calendar from the NYC DOT’s website.

Source: AshtonPal/Flickr

D LINE

There is no service advisory scheduled for this weekend.

N LINE

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound N trains stop at 45 St and 53 St.

All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

R LINE

From 11:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., Friday to Sunday, and from 11:30 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday, there are no R trains in Brooklyn between 59 St and 36 St – take the N instead. R trains run between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St.

From 6:30 a.m. to 12:15 a.m., Saturday to Monday, 71 Av-bound R trains run express from Queens Plaza to Roosevelt Av.

All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

F LINE

From 11:15 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the E from Roosevelt Av to 5 Av/53 St.

From 11:15 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the A from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.

From 12:15 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, Jamaica-bound F trains skip 75 Av, Van Wyck Blvd, and Sutphin Blvd.

Source: Eric Fischer/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Mark Treyger:

Council Member Mark Treyger is renewing his call for the Metropolitan Transit Authority, New York City Department of Transportation and other city and state government agencies to take immediate steps to better protect its customers from identify theft, especially when using a credit or debit card to purchase a MetroCard or pay for parking at a Muni-Meter. His requests come in light of reports that skimming devices used to steal banking information were discovered installed on vending machines at the 59th Street Columbus Circle subway station and at the Baldwin, Long Island LIRR station in the past two weeks. Councilman Treyger first expressed concern about the potential for residents to become victims of identity theft while using credit cards at ticketing machines last year before taking office after five individuals were arrested for planting cameras in machines at several Long Island train stations to record customers’ personal identification and credit card numbers.

“As I said months ago, the MTA and other agencies including the DOT must take steps to ensure that the public is not left vulnerable to identify theft. It is clear that criminals are using more creative and advanced ways to gain valuable personal banking information from unsuspecting residents and that this problem is becoming more and more prevalent in our city. The time has come for every government agency to review the steps they have in place to protect customers and not leave them vulnerable to this type of crime,” said Council Member Treyger.

This week, the MTA reported that a card-skimming device and hidden camera was found connected to a MetroCard vending machine at the southbound 1 train platform at 59th Street Columbus Circle. It was discovered Wednesday night by an alert subway rider who alerted a token booth clerk. Last week, credit card reading devices and hidden cameras were discovered attached to ticket machines at the LIRR’s Baldwin station during an inspection, and similar devices were used last year at stations along the Port Washington line. In addition to concern over this activity occurring at train and subway stations, Council Member Treyger believes that Muni-Meter machines remain especially vulnerable to identity theft, especially since they are often located in areas that are not monitored by cameras or routinely inspected.

In response, Councilman Treyger is calling for a full review of the procedures currently in place for the MTA, DOT and other agencies to prevent and respond to instances of identity theft. These steps include reviewing procedures for routinely inspecting machines for tampering, posting warnings on the machines alerting customers to take precautions against fraud, better informing customers when there has been a security breach impacting their credit card and increasing security around all machines to deter criminal activity and to assist in investigations should an incident occur.

“Identity theft is an incredibly serious crime that can take years for a victim to resolve. Right now, the reality is that customers are open to being victimized while using government-owned machines. I plan on working with the various city and state agencies and my colleagues on all levels of government to immediately put safeguards in place to help prevent any other New Yorkers from being targeted,” added Councilman Treyger.

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