Subscribe for FREE with:

Archive for the 'News & Features' Category

Chuck Schumer in the 1960s, competing for James Madison High School on the It’s Academic television quiz show.

In the wake of extraordinary rate hikes during the winter, Senator Charles Schumer has requested the the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a government organization meant to protect consumers, investigate New York area power companies to make sure the increases were not a result of corruption or gouging.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which provides similar oversight of power and energy suppliers, has already launched an investigation into electric companies including Con Edison.

Schumer is pushing the FTC to coordinate with FERC, and provide them with resources for the investigation.

“I write to urge that the FTC directly support ongoing investigative efforts led by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC),” Schumer writes, “to determine whether any wrongful conduct or uncompetitive practices took place this winter as record cold temperatures drove up natural gas and electric prices to record levels.”

In the same press release, his office explains that the rise in energy costs is suspicious.

“Utilities throughout the state have attributed the increase to record-low temperatures and high demand for natural gas, but Schumer said that the size of the rate increases were so high that he is concerned it outpaced the actual increase in wholesale energy costs for utilities.”

His office has requested that the “entire wholesale electric and natural gas markets” be investigated to make sure that customers were not being improperly overcharged. Schumer would also like to see electricity rates come back down.

To illustrate this rise, Schumer pointed to examples like a Brooklyn Con Ed customer who was charged 13.82 cents/kWh in February 2013 and 20.52 cents/kWh in February 2014. In New York, most electricity is generated with natural gas, so the price of natural gas has an outsized impact on electricity bills.

Earlier this year the New York Post reported on this rise and pointed out that the “supply charge” is the reason for an increase in price.

The supply charge, which covers the cost of actually generating electricity, is the source of this winter’s power-bill misery.

Con Edison’s electricity supply charges are adjusted daily, the company says. The number that shows up in bills is an average of the daily prices.

A Con Ed customer with a billing period from Dec. 30 to Jan. 30 paid an average supply charge for the month of 23.1 cents per kilowatt hour — a shocking 83 percent boost over the 12.6-cent charge during the same period last year.

Schumer has previously asked federal regulators to investigate the price increase. Syracuse news reported earlier this month that Schumer sought a federal probe into the matters.

They wrote:

Schumer said he has no evidence of wrongdoing but sees no good explanation for why consumer electric bills jumped 60 percent or more compared with last winter.

“Like you, I’m concerned that utilities are using the cold weather and the demand for natural gas to justify skyrocketing rates,” Schumer said today. “We can’t let those factors protect these multibillion-dollar dollar companies from scrutiny.”

Schumer also questioned whether wholesale energy companies manipulated electric or gas markets by withholding capacity to drive up prices.

Have you seen Truman? No, not the movie; the semi-famous parrot of Bensonhurst.

The cape parrot who served as the understudy for the star of The Late Show with David Letterman segment “Stupid Pet Tricks” is now missing. The Daily News reports:

Bensonhurst bird trainer Michael Sazhin said Truman, one of three parrots he has owned for years, flew the coop around 11 a.m. during a walk in a Bensonhurst park near 16th Ave.

Sazhin, 27, has been circling the neighborhood and calling out the name of his beloved parrot, but he made an urgent appeal to any fellow bird-lovers who might lend a wing.

As well as searching the neighborhood, Sazhin is also shown in a YouTube video, (above) where he seems distraught and his usual trim beard seems to have been neglected.

Sazhin has made a name for himself by producing many parrot training instructions. He has many training videos on YouTube and a site for those who share an interest in parrots. He also published a book called The Parrot Wizards’ Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots, which delves into the intricacies and subtleties of parrot keeping.

We can’t help but wonder if the parrot wizard has an entry on making your parrot disappear, ’cause he appears to have nailed that trick.

Sazhin is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who finds and returns Truman. You can reach Sazhin at (917) 318-6394.

Last year, three-year-old Andy Li mysteriously died after foaming at the mouth while under the supervision of a day care center in Bensonhurst. The boy’s parents are now suing the day care, claiming that the center was uninsured and that the workers are to blame for his death by taking him outside during a heat wave.

Maimonides Medical Center

Maimonides Medical Center

According to reports, the day care – which is on 65th Street near 21st Avenue – workers took the child outside because he was crying and disturbing the other children during nap time on July 6.

While outside, the boy was exposed to what the lawsuit called “dangerous heat wave conditions,” and he began to foam at the mouth and was taken to Maimonides Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, the New York Post reports.

They continue:

Andy Li’s parents – both Chinese restaurant workers who spoke to The Post through a translator – have also filed a $10 million notice of claim against the city for allowing the center to remain open despite numerous violations.

“All of Andy’s stuff is still in our house. Every time we look at his belongings, we think of him. Every time we see a child his age, we think of him. Every time we visit a park and see children play, we think of him,” said father Wen Hai Li, 39.

“I just hope that no one else has to go through what we did,” mom Jin Hua said tearfully.

The suit names day care operators Li Chan Wu, Wen Xian Lin, and Kevin Lin as defendants.

Source: Riverhead Foundation

Source: Riverhead Foundation

It was not too long ago that a baby harp seal was spotted on the sands of Coney Island last month. The seal had parasites and was underweight, but last Saturday it was released back into the Atlantic Ocean after receiving treatment from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

The foundation, a non-profit, was called in soon after the seal was discovered, and since then the organization has been working to restore the baby’s constitution after it was found to be dehydrated due to parasites. And, finally, this Saturday it was healthy enough to be released into the Shinnecock Bay off Long Island.

On top of receiving antibiotics and fluids through a tube to restore her weight, the seal also received the name Nellie. #FreeNellie.

Newsday reported,

Nearly 200 people watched as Nellie made her way 100 feet across sand and seaweed before splashing into the bay.

“She belongs back in the wild,” said Rob DiGiovanni, executive director of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, which nursed the seal back to health.

While Nellie is still a pup at only one year old, she will eventually grow to be 255 pounds and officials believe she originally came from Canada before gracing us with her cute presence.

Source: MichaelTapp/Flickr

D LINE

There are no scheduled subway service adjustments this week.

N LINE

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.

From 9:45 p.m. to 12 midnight, Tuesday and Thursday, 71 Av-bound trains run express from Queens Plaza to 71 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 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Friday, Coney Island-bound F trains run local from Roosevelt Av to 21 St-Queensbridge.

From 9:45 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday, and from 9:45 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, 179 St-bound F trains skip 75 Av, Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd, and Sutphin Blvd.

From 11:45 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the A from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.

  • To B’way-Lafayette St, take the Coney Island-bound F to W 4 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound D.
  • To 2 Av, Delancey St, and East Broadway, take the Coney Island-bound F to Jay St-MetroTech and transfer to a 179 St-bound F.
  • From these stations, take a 179 St-bound F to W 4 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.
  • To/from York St, use nearby High St A station instead.

Source: minnepixel/Flickr

A fight broke out in Coney Island’s McDonald’s (1403 Mermaid Avenue) on Easter Sunday, spilling out into the street where two men were stabbed, one fatally.

DNAinfo reports:

The two men, neither of whose identities were immediately released, had been inside the fast-food restaurant at the corner of Stillwell and Mermaid avenues when the fight erupted just before 11 p.m., sources said.

In the melee, a 20-year-old man was stabbed in the gut and another man was stabbed in the lower back, police said. The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital, police said.

The second man is in stable condition.

According to the Associated Press, the fight involved two “groups,” and investigators are piecing together the victims’ relationships to each other and the groups involved. They’re also still working to determine the number of people involved, and if the brawl was gang related.

There were no immediate arrests.

Source: john weiss/Flickr

D LINE

There are no scheduled subway service adjustments at this time.

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.

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

There are no scheduled subway service adjustments at this time.

Source: Dara Skolnick/Flickr

Alternate side parking regulations will be suspended Monday and Tuesday for Passover.

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.

grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm and Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia filed their latest fundraising totals earlier this week, with the incumbent just barely edging out his opponent in available cash.

Grimm’s April filing shows that he raised $345,000 over the last filing period, giving him just under $1.2 million to spend.

Recchia, meanwhile, posted $206,000 in cash raised, bringing his total to approximately $1.07 million.

Grimm’s filing, however, also showed that he’s carrying more than $450,000 in debt, largely due to legal expenses connected to the investigation into his 2010 fundraising. While the congressman hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, several close associates have been questioned or arrested, and prosecutors appear to be gunning for the incumbent.

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.

Next »