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Archive for the 'News & Features' Category

Source: Barbara L. Hanson/Flickr

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.

Source: cgc76/Flickr

D LINE

There are no subway service advisories scheduled at this time.

N LINE

From 11:30 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, there are no N trains between Times Sq-42 St and Queensboro Plaza – take the 7 or Q instead. N service operates in two sections:

  1. Between Stillwell Av and Times Sq-42 St.
  2. Between Queensboro Plaza and Ditmars Blvd.

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

From 5:30 a.m. to 12 midnight, Saturday and Sunday, R trains are rerouted in both directions as follows:

  1. Via the D between DeKalb Av and B’way-Lafayette St.
  2. Via the M between B’way-Lafayette St and Queens Plaza.
    • N trains make R stops between Canal St and Times Sq-42 St; Q trains make R stops between DeKalb Av and 57 St-7 Av.

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 12:01 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, F trains run local in Queens.

hydrant-sprinklers

In the middle of a hot July day, we can understand wanting to do whatever it takes to cool down — just don’t waste water!

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection just launched their 2014 Hydrant Education Action Team (HEAT) program to remind people about the dangers of illegally opening fire hydrants — they release more than 1,000 gallons of water per minute and can reduce water pressure in neighborhoods, making it difficult to fight fires.

So you still want to enjoy a splash through the hydrant’s water? No problem — they can be opened legally if equipped with a city-approved spray cap, which releases only 20 to 25 gallons per minute. That keeps water pressure adequate and won’t knock down any kiddos looking to play.

Spray caps can be obtained by an adult 18 or over with proper identification, free of charge, at local firehouses. Here’s where to go:

Engine 253: 2429 86th Street

Engine 243/Ladder 168/Battalion 42: 8653 18th Avenue

Engine 284/Ladder 149: 1157 79th Street

Engine 330/Ladder 172: 2312 65th Street

Engine 247/Battalion 40: 1336 60th Street

The firefighters will come to the site to install it, and then will return later that evening to remove it. Now have fun out there!

Bensonhurst resident Nancy Tong is on her way to winning a post as female Democratic district leader of the 47th Assembly District, making her the first Asian-American elected official in Brooklyn.

Tong is on the ballot for the September 9 primary, and she’s running unopposed. She will replacing District Leader Jeanette Givant, who is set to retire according to Sing Tao Daily (via Voices of NY).

Colton (Source: Facebook)

Tong helps constituents in her job working for Assemblyman Colton (Source: Facebook)

The district leader post is an unpaid role in the party. All formal parties in New York are required to have one male and one female district leader to represent each Assembly district. They serve as their community’s representative to their political party’s leadership, and help their party’s candidates get elected by organizing ground support.

Home Reporter writes:

Nancy Tong was nominated for the position by Assemblymember William Colton, whose office she has volunteered with and worked in as a community liaison for eight years.

… “Nancy has been helping thousands of people in this community from all over the world. Just last year, she helped 2,000 people,” Colton exclaimed. “Sometimes I wonder whether she ever lifts up her head.”

Over the years, Tong has worked on senior citizen rent issues, helped businesses respond to tickets from the Department of Sanitation, assisted homeowners with tree root problems in dealing with city agencies, volunteered for street clean-ups, and helped educate parents about the rezoning of P.S. 97.

In addition to Colton’s backing, Tong has the support of Councilman Mark Treyger who also worked in Treyger’s office before winning his City Hall seat in November.

Sing Tao adds:

Tong’s family originally came from Toy Shan, Canton province, in China. She was born in Hong Kong and grew up in New York. She had been working as a volunteer at Colton’s office since she moved to Bensonhurst 12 years ago, until five years ago when she became a part-time community liaison at the office.

Tong will be the first Asian-American elected official in a borough that is home to more than a quarter million Asians. Much of the Asian-American population, which is concentrated in areas including Bensonhurst, Sunset Park and Homecrest, are divided between various legislative districts, making it difficult for them to elect a representative that reflects their heritage.

During the redistricting process in 2012, advocates in the community fought for the creation of an Asian-American majority district. It would have united parts of Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Sunset Park into one district in the state legislature. That push was unsuccessful, and no Asian-American has represented Brooklyn in city, state or federal legislatures.

Source: _chrisUK/Flickr

Councilman Vincent Gentile’s office says that the Department of Transportation will begin much-needed road repairs to 86th Street on Monday.

Contractors will begin scraping off the battered top layer of asphalt, a process called milling, between Gatling Place and 7th Avenue in Bay Ridge. After pouring new asphalt and painting lines, the work will move up the street towards Stillwell Avenue throughout the summer. It’s expected that the work will be done in three separate segments.

All work will be done at night in order to minimize impact on traffic. This could mean a few noisy nights for neighbors, as milling requires trucks, machinery and portable lights – although the machinery is fitted with noise reduction equipment.

Gentile and Councilman Mark Treyger said they won agreements from the DOT to do the work back in May. The DOT first said they would make repairs in Treyger’s district, covering 86th Street from Stillwell Avenue to 14th Avenue. Gentile worked to expand the project to include 14th Avenue to Gatling Place, the portion of roadway that falls in his district.

Gentile allocated $400,000 in the city budget to fund the repaving, according to his office.

Know of any other nasty stretches of pothole-pocked roads in the neighborhood? Let us know in the comments!

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.

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