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Borough President Eric Adams and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito / File photo

Following New York City’s sixth drowning death on public property this season, Borough President Eric Adams is calling for a trio of reforms to prevent future drownings.

Adams made the proposals during a press conference yesterday on the boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue, just yards away from where 10-year-old Takara McDuffy was pulled from the water on Tuesday and pronounced dead.

Alongside Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Adams pushed for water safety reforms to be made at both the city and state levels.

The centerpiece of his proposal is an initiative to require water safety and swimming education in all schools. Adams’ office said they’re working with Coney Island’s State Senator Diane Savino to push the measure in Albany. The proposal would require teaching about the dangers posed by water and provide swimming lessons beginning in the second grade.

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook via Daily News)

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook)

“Although it’s a beautiful place to be, it could be a very dangerous place if we’re not taught how to be safe in the environment,” said Adams. “Because there’s no clear format of teaching water safety, our children and families are recklessly going to the water’s edge believing that this beautiful ocean is a toy.”

McDuffy’s life might have been saved with such knowledge, Adams suggested. The 10-year-old had been playing on the jetty at Stillwell Avenue after lifeguards went off-duty; she and her sister fell into the water. Neither knew how to swim, and good Samaritans spotted them struggling and dove in, but only McDuffy’s 9-year-old sister could be saved.

Adams and Treyger are also calling for increased enforcement on the becahes after it closes. Treyger said he wants to see the Parks Department boost the number of Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers, and task them with ordering beachgoers out of the water once lifeguards go off-duty.

“We need more PEP officers, not just simply volunteers,” said Treyger. “Particularly when the beach is closed and swimming is over, patrol the beaches to make sure there are no children of families left in the water.”

The Parks Department already has 15 PEP officers stationed on Brighton Beach and Coney Island beach, according to PIX11.

The borough president’s office said they’re also pushing to require CPR training for every city worker, which could provide a veritable army of trained lifesavers across the five borough. A drowning or choking victim can be spared death or brain damage by cutting CPR response time by as little as two minutes, and increasing the number of people trained to provide assistance could drastically reduce response time.

Adams’ staff is looking at legislative options to make the training mandatory.

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Local Assemblyman Dov Hikind is raising eyebrows with his campaign spending, with cash going to cover a new car lease, donations to powerful Jewish groups that have backed him, and a day camp tied to a rabbi under criminal investigation.

The New York Observer reported on Monday that Hikind used more than $800 from his campaign warchest to pay the lease on a new car.

Mr. Hikind, a Brooklyn lawmaker with a war chest of nearly $1 million, spent $815.60 at a Bay Ridge Nissan to renew the lease on a car that doesn’t appear to have a specific campaign function. He spent the money on July 1, according to his campaign filings.

“I use it for anything related to work,” Mr. Hikind told the Observer. “I don’t take it to Albany.”

“I don’t know why suddenly you’re asking about it now. It’s nothing new. It’s something I’ve been doing for the past number of years,” he added, not specifying how the car lease pertained to his re-election bid against a long-shot Republican.

Meanwhile, he’s also divvied up his nearly $1 million in campaign donations to groups who’ve supported him, according to today’s Daily News:

The beleaguered Borough Park lawmaker used more than $18,150 of his well-stocked campaign kitty for donations to yeshivas and powerful Jewish groups, including $2,400 for a scholarship at a day camp connected to a rabbi under criminal investigation.

… The giving is permitted under the state’s lax campaign rules but one government watchdog called Hikind’s largesse “very unusual.”

“The problem is there is no guidance for candidates or elected officials in terms of what is an appropriate campaign related use of campaign funds,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause.

The yeshivas are run by a diverse group of Orthodox powerbrokers who have long supported the veteran lawmaker.

But Hikind insisted the payments were not an attempt to buy influence.

“It isn’t to help me get re-elected,” he said. “I have the money. When there’s a good cause and I can actually be helpful I use it.”

Orah Day Camp also received funds from Hikind’s trove, which he said went to pay attendance fees for a child from a needy family. But the News points out that the camp is tied to Rabbi Samuel Hiller, who was accused in May of steering $8 million from a taxpayer-funded nonprofit, using it to set up religious schools and camps, including Orah. He allegedly used the funds for personal expenses as well.

Hikind said he had “no idea” Hiller was connected to Orah.

The pol was also being investigated last year by Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission before it disbanded. The group was looking into $65,000 Maimonides Hospital paid to a company owned by Hikind’s advertising company, which the pol failed to disclose in his financial statements.

trash1

When it comes to the local litter problem, the Sanitation Department and area leaders frequently point their fingers at neighbors who illegally dump their household garbage in public baskets.

It’s an easy out: often the targets are immigrants with little-to-no grasp of English, and their transgressions can be explained, if not forgiven, by unintended ignorance of the law. And it lets scofflaw businesses and the Sanitation Department off the hook.

But a walk down 86th Street suggest otherwise. Overflowing trash cans were seen last Thursday on every single stretch of 86th Street under the el. Most of them had been opened up and the trash can pulled out to allow for more garbage to be piled on – and to let it blow away in the wind. And a glimpse inside the can above, found at the Bay Parkway intersection, revealed nothing more than newspapers, shopping bags with leftover foodstuffs, wrappers – the kind of thing any pedestrian might toss into the bin as they walk along. There was nothing nefarious, like household garbage here, and yet the bin was still overflowing – signaling a failure of the Department of Sanitation to make sufficient pickups.

Meanwhile, at the 20th Avenue intersection, this…

trash2

That ain’t household trash. And it isn’t likely something from the McDonald’s at that location. Even if it was, our early afternoon visit would’ve been far too early to have commercial trash out for a private pickup. And that machinery, judging from the bits of litter wedged into crevices, had been there for a few days at least.

That’s not to say household trash isn’t a problem, especially on other streets like 18th Avenue, where the telltale sign of red bags stacked high next to public baskets is a common sight. But on 86th Street, lawmakers should be looking at local businesses to maintain their properties, the Sanitation Department to increase pickups, and to find the scoundrels who use one of our busiest thoroughfares as a free-for-all dumping ground.

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook via Daily News)

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook via Daily News)

A good Samaritan yanked a 10-year-old girl and her 9-year-old sister from the water at Coney Island beach after seeing them fall off a nearby rock jetty, but the older girl did not survive.

Takara McDuffy was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital shortly after the 7 p.m. beach rescue near Stillwell Avenue. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death, but it is presumed to be a drowning.

The girls, from Staten Island, were playing at the beach with a group of family friends. Witnesses told reporters that they were playing on the jetty unsupervised and fell into the water. Bystanders jumped to action, and pulled both girls to shore.

The New York Post reports:

“People came rushing from all over to help out. It was horrible, it was chaotic,” said witness Ena ­McCaskill.

After a frantic, 10-minute search, a man found the girl floating about 100 yards from the jetty.

“He had a sound of desperation in his voice,” McCaskill recalled. “He was yelling for somebody to help him save the girl.”

Another good Samaritan administered CPR on the beach.

“A regular guy grabbed her and started doing CPR,” said witness Joseph ­Josephs, 24. “He was pounding her chest for a good minute. A lot of water was coming from her mouth.”

McDuffy’s parents lashed out at those who were supposed to be watching over their daughters, the Daily News reports.

The gathered friends and family demanded to know why little Takara – who could not swim – was apparently unsupervised by the group of adults she had gone to the beach with.

“It took a man to jump into the water and pull her out. Some man saw Takara’s body floating and he jumped in,” the family member said.

“Why wasn’t nobody paying attention? You was there all day and let her go in the water. Why wouldn’t you ask if she could swim?”

The incident happened less than an hour after lifeguards packed up for the evening. Swimming is prohibited at city beaches after 6:00 p.m., and there were no lifeguards on duty.

According to Borough President Eric Adams, it’s the sixth drowning death of the summer. Along with Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Adams will hold a press conference near the beach today to reiterate his call for citywide reforms to make public beaches safer, and will also be distributing the following fliers sharing water safety tips.

Water Safety Tips

grimm2Congressman Michael Grimm, facing a 20-count indictment on tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices, may now head to trial in October, a month before elections.

SILive reports:

Speaking at a status conference in Brooklyn federal court on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gatta said that motion procedures and hearings in the case could be held by the end of September, with a trial to begin the following month.

… Gatta said that the discovery in the case is “not particularly voluminous” and that the case itself “is fairly straightforward.”

Grimm’s new attorney, Daniel Rashbaum, said that that “schedule may be OK. I don’t know yet.”

He sought a three- or four-week delay so that he could look at the evidence. By then, Rashbaum said, he’d have a better idea “what the discovery looks like in my mind.”

But U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen said she would give Rashbaum, who notified the court last week that he was taking over the defense, two weeks to “dive into the material.”

Prior to the conference yesterday, observers believed Grimm would not go to trial until after the November 4 elections, when he faces off against Democrat Domenic Recchia. If the prosecution’s request for an October court date is granted, it would be a significant blow to the pol, who will have to fight simultaneously for his seat and his freedom.

Sleeping with the fishes at an 86th Street restaurant. This doesn't look quite... humane.

Sleeping with the fishes at an 86th Street restaurant. This doesn’t look quite… humane.

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) is our new Sunday feature, giving you a place to find some of the big stories you may have missed this past week.

Of course, you can keep up with what’s going on in the neighborhood all week long. Just follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our daily newsletter. If you have any news tips, story ideas, questions or anything else, e-mail us at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Flyer for Gravesend & Bensonhurst Public Engagement Meeting #1

In an expansion of the state New York Rising initiative to improve resiliency in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a new committee has been created to strengthen Bensonhurst and Gravesend, with the first meeting scheduled for this Sunday.

New York Rising aims to recruit locals for identifying key community assets and gather their thoughts on the best way to protect them from future disasters.

The workshop this weekend focuses on evaluating the damage from Sandy, gathering feedback and proposals, and creating a vision for the community moving forward. Backed with $3 million from the state and federal governments earmarked specifically for our neighborhood, contracted consultants then use the feedback to draw up several proposals. The ideas are presented to the community for feedback.

The meeting will be held at 10 a.m., at Bensonhurst Park on Bay Parkway.

To learn more about New York Rising, go here. For a comprehensive rundown of the effects of Sandy on the community and key assets the committee is already looking into, check out this presentation.

Source: MichaelTapp/Flickr

D LINE

There are no subway advisories scheduled at this time.

N LINE

All times until October 2014: No trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

R LINE

All times until October 2014: No trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. 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 M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts.

  • Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza.
  • To 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island, Lexington Av/63 St, and 57 St, take the Coney Island-bound F to 47-50 Sts and transfer to a Jamaica-bound F.
  • From 21 St-Queensbridge and Roosevelt Island, take a Jamaica-bound F to Roosevelt Av and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.
  • From Lexington Av/63 St, use the nearby 59 St 4/5/6 station for downtown local service to 51 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F at the E/M platform.
  • From 57 St, use the nearby 57 St-7 Av N/Q/R station for downtown service to 34 St-Herald Sq and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.

From 11:45 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.

  • To B’way-Lafayette St, transfer to the D at W 4 St.
  • To 2 Av, Delancey St, and East Broadway, take the Coney Island-bound F to Jay St-MetroTech and transfer to a Jamaica-bound F.
  • From these stations, take a Jamaica-bound F to W 4 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.
  • To/from York St, use the nearby High St A station.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains skip Sutphin Blvd, Van Wyck Blvd, and 75 Av.

grimm2

Grimm

Legal and financial troubles appear to be fueling recruitment troubles at the offices of beleaguered Congressman Michael Grimm if a desperate-sounding e-mail to colleagues is any indication.

Politico reports:

Grimm’s deputy chief of staff sent an email Wednesday afternoon asking downtowners to help her find a health and education legislative assistant.

“As you can imagine it hasn’t been easy to find a qualified candidate who wants to live on the edge and take a chance working for Rep. Grimm,” wrote [Grimm's Deputy Chief of Staff] Blaire Bartlett. “Ideally this person would have legislative experience. Hill experience would be great and NYC experience would be amazing, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?”

I don’t know about legislative assistants, but if he needs some social media help I know a group of 16-year-old girls who’d love to pitch in.

Source: jasoneppinke via Flickr

Source: jasoneppinke/Flickr

Following another spate of suicides off of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and other metro-area spans, the New York Police Department is training a larger batch of officers to safely get jumpers down – by persuasion or by force.

The New York Post reports:

So far this year, there have been 11 suicides at the George Washington Bridge, compared with 15 for all of last year. That’s in addition to 40 other attempted suicides stopped by cops on the span.

Given the alarming numbers, the department is training more officers to deal with jumpers — including sending more of them to practice climbing the structures, including the Verrazano Bridge.

So if you see some cops climbing around up there like Spiderman, know that it’s all to keep you safe from yourself.

If you’re wondering what else the training entails, or what life is like as one of the cops on the Jumper Squad, check out this awesome – and chilling - profile from 2012 in the New York Times.

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