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The Supreme Court (Source: majunznk via flickr)

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who supports gay rights and marriage equality, attended the Supreme Court hearings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and was optimistic with what he heard, according to a report by Capital New York.

Nadler, a long-time opponent of DOMA, had co-sponsored a bill that sought to repeal it on grounds of it being unconstitutional. Nadler also happens to be the congressional representative for Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the landmark case who is fighting the federal government for not recognizing her marriage to her late wife Thea Spyer.

According to Nadler, five justices expressed skepticism regarding federal government’s ability to deny benefits to married couples like Windsor and Spyer.

“At least five, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a sixth on federalism,” he said, referring to Chief Justice John Roberts.

Nadler said he didn’t expect the justices to dodge this case, despite the hour-long argument on the court’s jurisdiction, and said he was encouraged by the justices’ questions, particularly from Anthony Kennedy, the likely swing vote.

“The key argument was the Equal Protection argument,” Nadler said. “And there was no answer. They couldn’t answer it.”

Ever optimistic, Nadler predicts that the court would also strike down DOMA as being unconstitutional.

Only time will tell if Nadler is correct in Supreme Court prognosticating.

Pacifer Tree, Source: Retrofresh! via flickr

One of my earliest childhood memories is observing which kids in preschool still had pacifiers and which didn’t. I don’t remember if I ever brought my pacifier to school, but I do remember seeing other kids make fun of the kids who did. I made sure not to ever do it. That was one of my earliest memories of learning about shame and conformity. It was kind of cruel, but that’s what growing up is all about.

I have no idea what to make of the pacifier tree located at the Plymouth apartment complex (48th Street off 14th Avenue). On the one hand, it looks kinda cute to see all those innocent pacifiers hang off the tree like budding flowers. On the flip side, it might be kind of sad for children to walk by their favorite and most comforting accessory, well out of arm’s reach, day after day.

According to a report in the New York Times, the pacifier tree is a rite of passage for Borough Park youngsters. Rachel Rhine, who has a view of the tree from her apartment window, described the ritual first hand.

“I see mothers picking up their little kid and the kid actually puts it on and they say: ‘O.K., say goodbye, no more. You’re a big girl now,’” Ms. Rhine said. “It’s kind of a celebration to say, ‘That’s where it goes and that’s where it stays and that’s the end of it.’”

In countries like Denmark and Sweden, hanging pacifiers in trees has been a long standing practice. According to the Times, they hang thousands of pacifiers off single trees, nearly causing the branches to break.

Apparently, the tradition started in Borough Park when a former superintendent of the Plymouth just started hanging up all the pacifiers that kids would throw out of their carriages. Unless he was a Dane or a Swede, I guess he started hanging them up for parents to collect or maybe he was just being weird. Either way, the pacifier tree is here to stay and will now likely become another annoying Brooklyn trend once someone in Park Slope sees it and says, “Like, yah, cool art, man.”

Source: asterix611 via flickr

Mayor Michael Bloomberg directed serious heat towards State Senator Marty Golden and two other senators this week over their opposition to the installation of speed enforcement cameras, according to a report in the New York Times.

The issue of reckless driving and speeding has become an exploding issue across the city as a rash of hit-and-run tragedies have made front-page on an ever increasing basis. According to the Times, 274 people died in traffic fatalities across the city last year, the highest since 2008. To combat the rising tide of blood spilled on the roads, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and politicians like Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have sent letters to Governor Andrew Cuomo pleading for room in the state budget to install speed enforcement cameras. According to the New York Daily News, the inclusion of speed enforcement cameras were recently stripped from the state budget by opponents of the measure.

In assigning blame for the exclusion of the cameras in the state’s budget, Bloomberg pointed his finger at Senators Golden, Simcha Felder and GOP Senate leader Dean Skelos, urging their constituents to call these politicians the next time a tragedy occurs.

“Maybe you want to give those phone numbers to the parents of the child when a child is killed,” the Times reported Bloomberg saying. “It would be useful so that the parents can know exactly who’s to blame.”

Golden, a former police officer with strong ties to the police officers’ union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, believes that hiring more police officers is the answer to combat dangerous speeding. He also called the cameras “unreliable,” and suggested that a comprehensive study be done on the cameras before going full steam ahead with a plan to install them.

Bloomberg insisted that in light of all the traffic deaths, waiting was no longer an option.

“We literally are having kids that are getting killed around our schools because people are speeding,” he said. “And they don’t want to let us use cameras to stop people from doing that.”

Source: Wikipedia

State Senator Marty Golden will be hosting his Annual Easter Egg Hunt for the children and families of his district, March 30 at 2:00 p.m. in Shore Road Park, 79th Street and Shore Road. The Easter Egg Hunt events include games, music, and activities for the whole family, as well as prizes for the children.

“I encourage all children and families to join in this fun event. The challenge is on to find the eggs hidden in the parks for a chance to win prizes. These special events in our parks are what makes our community a great place to live, work and raise a family,” Golden stated.

Golden, who sponsors the event every year, also hosted an Easter Egg Hunt last week in the Marine Park section of his district.

To learn more, call Golden’s District Office at (718) 238-6044.

Photo by Erica Sherman

City Councilman David Greenfield believes that the lack of proper knowledge on laws and codes is the reason many small businesses are getting “gotcha” tickets and has proposed a bill to stop this.

The bill would make it so that businesses have to be provided with a guide of the laws and codes that apply to them. The bill would would have agencies sending out guides four times a year to businesses as well as posting the guide online and making updates to any changes.

Greenfield states in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

This legislation would make it much easier for business owners of all types to understand exactly what rules they need to abide by to keep the public safe and to avoid receiving fines. I have heard from so many frustrated business owners about how difficult and expensive it is to operate in New York City, so I will continue to fight on their behalf to make it fairer for all sides

According to the article, while the president of the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, Jim Clarke, believes the bill is a good idea, he also feels sending out all the notices will be costly to the city and suggests the be done through e-mail to save money.

Bensonhurst has a new addition to its deli family with the opening of Not Only Bagels on 7821 17th Avenue, between 78th Street and 79th Street.

The store now stands in what was once Palermitana Bakery.

As the name not-so-subtly advertises, the shop serves more than just bagels, dishing out a whole smörgåsbord of food from breakfast favorites to tacos and tortas.

So if you’re in the area, stop by the place and tell us if it’s worth going to more than once.

Source: wallyg via flickr

Earlier in the month, we whined reported about the discount Staten Island residents were due to get in the form of a reduced Verrazano Bridge toll. While MTA fares were being hiked citywide, we wondered what was so special about Staten Islanders that exempted them from the MTA’s crushing horribleness. Well, according to a report by SI Live, the deal that would have lowered bridge tolls for Staten Island residents and business owners has fallen through.

The now defunct plan would have cut the cost of commercial vehicles in half and lowered the E-ZPass resident discount from $6 to $5.50. According to Assemblyman Michael Cusick, the major reason that the proposed legislation got held up was because it would have represented the first toll discount plan for businesses anywhere in the state.

State Senator Diane Savino blamed the hold up on the MTA, saying that they were leery of suffering a big financial setback by approving the deal.

Hope for the plan still isn’t dead and State Senator Andrew Lanza believes that a deal can be struck sometime in May. Lanza maintained that the failure of the bill had more to do with its complexity than any real economic or political resistance:

“There were just too many moving parts for it to be part of the budget.”

Lanza said the plan was to have it become part of the overall budget’s municipal budget, but it “became a victim when other parts of that budget fell apart.”

He said that, post-budget, “we can come together to make this happen, possibly as part of the transportation part of the budget, which will give us time to work out some of the complexities.”

Lanza’s optimism was also shared by Savino, Cusick and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker.

So take heart, Staten Islanders, when the toll reduction likely gets passed in the spring, the rest of New York will be rightly jealous of Staten Island’s thwarting of the MTA and wondering, probably forever, why the rest of us have to swallow MTA fare hikes with practically no resistance.

Joseph Brown Source: NYPD via nytimes.com

Yesterday, we reported on the deadly shootings that took place at the Gravesend Houses (2703 West 33rd Street) in Coney Island that killed one and left three others injured this past Friday. Joseph Brown, the alleged shooter, turned himself in on Saturday and, according to a report in the New York Daily News, Brown was busy playing video games at the time of the shooting.

Brown contends that he was playing Call of Duty in an apartment building next door and has five witnesses to back his claims. When Brown saw on the news that police were looking for him, he turned himself in on Saturday.

Brown’s brother, Alfred, blamed the apartment’s owner, who is legally blind, for falsely identifying Joseph because he had braids like the shooter.

“He’s mild-mannered,” [Alfred] Brown, 35, told the Daily News. “He doesn’t own a gun.”

Friends of Brown claim his innocence can be proved because he was playing video games online at the time of the shooting.

“He was here. He is innocent,” Shawna Brown said. “There’s no possible way he did this. Who is he – Houdini? How is he in two places at once?”

Police are still searching for another accomplice in the shooting. Brown’s family believes that the accomplice is a woman who had a brother who they suspect is the real shooter.

The Brown family, who expressed sympathies for the victims of the shootings, also argued against the media’s portrayal of Joseph’s past:

The family also disputed cops’ contentions that Brown had a long rap sheet, and said he’d been arrested twice in his life. The first case, a 2007 drug bust, led to a wrongful arrest and excessive force suit that netted Brown a $30,000 settlement, court records show.

He was also accused of looting after Superstorm Sandy, and is planning on suing the NYPD for false arrest in that case as well, the family said.

Brown was ordered held without bail pending his next court hearing in April.

Source: fema.gov

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is looking for nominees to elect to their Youth Preparedness Council, according to a press release.

The Youth Preparedness Council provides an outlet for young teen leaders to serve as a member on a special national council and also complete a youth preparedness project of their choosing:

Those who are chosen will attend the Youth Preparedness Council Summit, a meeting with emergency management leadership to discuss steps to strengthen the nation’s resiliency against all types of disasters. Council members may also participate in national, regional, state, tribal and local preparedness meetings.

Participants are expected to represent the youth perspective on emergency preparedness and relay information within their communities. Each council member is expected to develop and complete one preparedness-related project specific to his/her region and interests. In addition to attending the Summit in the summer of 2013, council members may participate in national, regional, state, tribal and local preparedness meetings and present their work.

It is expected that members will meet with FEMA on a regular basis via conference call to provide ongoing input on strategies, initiatives and projects throughout the duration of their term.

If the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy taught us anything, it is that our area is likely to face more devastating storms in the years to come. It is becoming critically important for the youth to be trained and prepared to respond to potential future catastrophes.

If you are a teenager or a parent of a teenager and this sounds like an interesting opportunity to explore, here are the relevant details:

Anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 who is engaged in individual and community preparedness is encouraged to apply or be nominated to serve on the Youth Preparedness Council.

An individual may apply on his or her own behalf, or can be nominated by an adult familiar with the individual’s youth preparedness activities.

Those interested in applying must submit a completed application form, a narrative and a letter of recommendation. The letter of recommendation can be from any adult, including a parent, guardian, community first responder or teacher.

All applications and supporting materials must be received no later than 11:59 E.D.T. on April 19, 2013 in order to be eligible.

Council members will be selected based on vacancies and announced in May 2013. Once selected, members serve on the Council for one year, with the option to extend for an additional year, based on a formal request by FEMA.

For more information about the Youth Preparedness Council and FEMA’s work on youth preparedness, and to access the application materials, please visit www.ready.gov/youth-preparedness.

Google Image Of The Home That Caught On FIre Souce: Google Maps via brooklyneagle.com

A fire broke out in a Borough Park home on the eve of Passover, injuring one, according to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The home (1259 51st Street) is a three-story private residence located in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. According to the FDNY, the fire broke out in the building’s basement at around 10:44 a.m., though the cause of the fire is not yet known.

There was some speculation that the fire could have been related to a Passover ritual, but officials have expressed no indication that this was the case.

On Monday, Passover Eve, ritual bread burning, known as the “burning of the chametz,” took place at 32 sites established by the community and FDNY in Boro Park as part of the traditional Passover observance. There is no indication at this time that the fire was related to the custom, however.

A spokesperson for Councilman David Greenfield told the Brooklyn Eagle that the bread burning was “running smoothly” and was “very orderly this year. FDNY was all over the place.”