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Source: ign.com

Councilman David Greenfield invited the public to a participatory budgeting expo where special “budget delegates” got a chance to weigh in on the best way to spend $1 million allocated from his discretionary budget, according to a report by The Home Reporter.

Greenfield, who represents constituents in Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst, promised that each area would get a piece of the pie in the form of a special project that everybody can vote on.

The three projects proposed all centered around pedestrian safety. Under consideration are traffic countdown clocks designed to take the guesswork out of crossing the street, a street resurfacing of Community Board 11, and the installation of permanent planter bollards on Stillwell Avenue to protect children from traffic accidents near Public School 682 (50 Avenue P).

Voting takes place between April 3 and 7 at locations throughout Greenfield’s district. Precise voting locations have yet to be assigned.

If it were up to me, I’d spend the money on a state-of-the-art monorail system connecting Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst. Not only would there be a guarantee that the track won’t bend, brain dead slobs will be given cushy jobs! Monorail, monorail, monorail…

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

It appears the New York State budget will be delivered on time for the third year in a row – a noteworthy accomplishment rising out of Albany’s dysfunction. But, in getting it done, legislators have postponed decision-making on some of the more controversial topics, including an amendment on the expansion of casino gambling that could see one established in Coney Island.

City & State reports:

“I have concern with working toward an on-time budget,” Cuomo said. “We’ve had two on-time budgets. This would be the third on-time budget since about 1984. We have a number of issues on the table that are challenging, that are controversial, so we’re working very hard, and it’s going well, but am I concerned? Yes.”

New York State has a $1.6 billion gap in its $135 billion budget for 2013–14. That amount is far smaller than the $10 billion deficit Cuomo had to tackle in his first year in office, but several thorny policy and spending issues remain.

One of the most pressing issues to complete the budget early, as Cuomo and legislative leaders would like, is finding cuts to healthcare spending after the federal government reduces Medicaid payments to the state this year, as well as finding additional funds to send to the New York City school system if teachers win a reversal of a $240 million budget slash resulting from the failed teacher evaluation talks.

As legislators and the governor mull these issues, they’ve been forced to table some of the governor’s ambitious goals until later in the legislative season, including an expansion of legalized gambling, an increase in minimum wage and immigration reform.

The Assembly is full steam ahead on minimum wage – already passing a bill increasing it to $9.00, but Senate Republicans who share leadership in that house are opposed to it.

Concerns about casinos, though, are more bipartisan, with many legislators demanding that any casino legislation moving forward include locations in the language, something Cuomo is against.

According to the Daily News, the timing of casino rollouts is also in question. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wants not only siting language included, but a provision to spread out the timetable for casino development. The first phase of casino expansion as outlined by Governor Cuomo would see three casinos established upstate, and Silver wants a waiting period of up to five years before a second round of casinos is launched.

“That way, the governor next year doesn’t say, ‘We need a billion dollars, that’s what someone would bid for a Manhattan casino, let’s do one there,’ ” Silver told the Daily News.

“It would also enhance the value of the (first) three, if you give them exclusivity for five years or some period of time,” he added. “It would make the bidding of the three more valuable (for the state) as well, if [potential operators] know they only have two others to compete with and not one in New York City.”

Silver’s Republican counterpart in the Senate, Dean Skelos, said he wants to keep all options on the table.

Daily News is also reporting that the tide is beginning to turn in both houses, as casino lobbyists up their game.

The industry “is starting to put real pressure and offer up big donations to legislators who would go the other way and support a New York City casino,” the source said. “That’s why you’re starting to see a shift in the Legislature.”

The constitutional amendment would only authorize a number of casinos to be permitted. Separate legislation would be needed to spell out the details.

Silver said lawmakers want a say in what regions are eligible for casinos, but that they do not want to get involved in the bidding process, or where specifically a casino would be located within an agreed-upon region.

The budget is due March 31, making resolution of these thornier issues unlikely until later in the legislative session, which ends in June.

Blue387 via Wikimedia Commons

The future is here… but not everyone is impressed.

Such is the sentiment that four state senators including Marty Golden expressed this week when it came to the prospect of rolling out those new digital scanning voting machines for the upcoming mayoral race.

According to a report by the New York Daily News, Golden and has colleagues believe that the Board of Elections has proved incompetent at operating the new new voting machines, failing to count votes within the 14-day turnaround required between the primaries and the runoffs in especially heated races.

“There’s enough discomfort and distrust of the system that people are alarmed,” Golden told the Daily News.

Senator Simcha Felder also expressed a fear of futuristic technology.

“These new-fangled voting machines are a disaster,” said Felder, channeling the rage of a million crotchety old men.

Despite the concerns of Golden and Felder, the Board of Elections dismissed the idea of shelving the $60 million in new voting electronics and returning to the old analog switch system.

A bicyclist was pronounced dead this morning after being struck by two vehicles on New Utrecht Avenue and 58th Street.

NY Post reports:

The unidentified victim, in his 30’s, was riding southbound on New Utrecht Avenue at 4:35 a.m. when a car came out from 58th Street and collided with him, police said.

The man was thrown from the bicycle and then hit by and pinned underneath a second car on New Utrecht Avenue, police and the FDNY said.

The drivers remained on the scene, and police are still determining whether any criminality was involved.

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Source: visualnews.com

Visual News created a cool new graphic of the busiest subway stops in New York. I took a slice of the map to show you our area, which compared to Manhattan, is comparatively light.

Predictably, Times Square is the busiest station, averaging 182,170 riders, followed by Grand Central, 34 St-Herald Square, 14 St-Union Square and 34 St Penn Station.

Based on Visual News’s chart, the Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach station sees about 10 to 19,000 riders per day. Bensonhurst stops are comparable to Sheepshead Bay. Interesting stuff.

Alternate Side Parking regulations are suspended citywide today, Friday, March 8, 2013, to facilitate snow removal. Meters and all other parking regulations remain in effect.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve been reporting on the possibility of casinos coming to New York City and New Yorkers’ lukewarm opposition to them. As the mayoral race becomes more a thing, the question arises as to where our future mayors stand on the issue. City and State recently got the skinny on where our would-be leaders stand on bringing glitzy gambling to the five boroughs and here is the breakdown:

  • City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D): While she thinks its a bad idea, if the state legalizes gambling, she said she would consider the possibility of a NYC-based casino.
  • Former MTA Chief Joe Lhota (R): Supportive. He believes that the success of the Resorts World Casino in Southeast Queens speaks to the idea that New Yorkers would be excited for a casino if it was located far enough from communities.
  • City Comptroller John Liu (D): He thinks its a good idea as long as its not easy to get to. He is worried about people having too easy access and gambling away their savings, so placing the casino in an isolated space, like Governors Island, appeals to him.
  • Adolfo Carrión (I): Agrees with Liu. Wants the casino built somewhere on the city’s waterfront.
  • CEO of Manhattan Media Tom Allon (R): Against legalizing gambling altogether.
  • Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson (D): Wouldn’t support one way or the other. Believes that New Yorkers must decide themselves.

Candidates Bill de Blasio, John Catsimatidis and George McDonald were either not available to comment or declined to do so. We look forward to hearing their views well before the election.

As the sequester rolls on unheeded, slashing everything from defense spending to Superstorm Sandy aid, a partisan media war is unfurling across your TVs and the internet. Sure, there’s nothing new about that, but the latest ad, unleashed by Democrats, targets GOP Congressman Michael Grimm as being a major cause of the sequester mess, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

As we reported last January, Democratic strategists are targeting Grimm as being one of the more vulnerable Republican candidates seeking reelection. This new ad, which paints Grimm as a Tea Party member and accuses him of “putting millionaires ahead of the middle class,” is one of the earliest efforts by the Democratic Party to take control of his district.

The effort by the Democrats comes as sweet news to Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is seeking to unseat Grimm in the upcoming 2014 elections. In a report by Politicker, Recchia charted his plan to win, an effort that won’t go after Grimm’s various corruption charges.

Instead, Recchia wants to focus on the issues, including Grimm’s response to Hurricane Sandy:

“In my days in working with Superstorm Sandy … I had to worry about my own district, worry about what was going on in the city. Then the [Council] Speaker called me, said, ‘We have to get moving. We need money. Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan. We need to fund hospitals, we’re out schools.’ We had to move money around. So I’d be working the district, meeting with her at night, going over funding,” the councilman said. “I just came to realize, ‘How are we going to make up this much money?’ We’re relying on the federal government. Then with the Republican Congress, they cancelled the vote. Then John Boehner started to use the [Republicans] of New York so he can get his support to be the speaker. That was unacceptable. I thought that was horrible that somebody would do that. To hear Michael Grimm say, ‘I’m not going to support him.’ Which is great, I’m glad. But then he goes and supports him. That’s unacceptable.”

While Recchia expressed desire to run an issues-based campaign, he didn’t rule out the possibility of all-out mudslinging as election day nears:

“The campaign is a year and a half away, alright?” Mr. Recchia said when we asked if he might change his tune. “I’m sure many issues are going to come up. I really want to keep this about what I have done, my track record. I have a good track record on serving communities, building consensus, working with both sides of the aisle. That’s what we need. I want to do what’s necessary, not what’s easy. That’s why I’m running for Congress.”

The NYPD issued a Silver Alert for Simona Ortiz, an 80-year-old Hispanic woman who was last seen leaving her residence near West 12th Street and Avenue W wearing a black jacket, black pants, and black shoes in Brooklyn.

Ortiz went missing yesterday at 6:00 p.m. She is described as being 4’6″ tall, 85 pounds, grey hair and brown eyes.

If seen, please call 911 immediately.