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Staten Island’s South Beach Civic Association is planning to host a rally on January 26 to protest the MTA-approved Verrazano Bridge fair hikes.

We know you rarely agree with anything anyone from the other side of the pond has to say, however, in this case, they might be on to something.

The protest takes place at Lily Pond Avenue and Major Avenue, near the entrance to the bridge. Yes, that is the Staten Island side. This means that you would have had to pay the currently exorbitant toll amount in order to cross the bridge so that you may protest against an even higher toll amount. Silly, I know.

However, a Brooklyn-side protest to show our solidarity could work. Hey pols, who’s in?

If you happen to be in Staten Island, or wish to travel there to make your voice heard, the protest starts at 12 p.m. Good luck and keep fighting the good fight.

In 2011, we reported on the tragic murder of mother Daniella Mannino, 34, who was stabbed to death in her bathtub by her then-boyfriend Brian Sohtz. Sohtz, 38, confessed to the stabbing and was forced to confront the 14-year-old daughter of Mannino at his sentencing hearing, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

“I’m paranoid that something like this will happen to me someday,” said Sabrina Mannino to a courtroom packed with heartbroken family members and friends, “I can never forgive someone who did this horrible thing.”

Sabrina also called Sohtz “a total monster and murderer.”

Sohtz’s confession to the murder of Mannino in her Bensonhurst apartment allowed him to strike a plea deal with prosecutors for first-degree manslaughter after he claimed to be suffering from an extreme emotional disturbance. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

State Senator Marty Golden. Photo by Erica Sherman

Last year, State Senator Marty Golden introduced a bill that would stiffen penalties for hit and run and drivers. The bill passed in the Senate but failed to gain traction in the Assembly. Golden and a group of other local politicians have not given up and have reintroduced the bill, according to a press release.

The bill would change the crime of a fatal hit and run from a Class D felony to a Class C felony, which ups the prison time to a maximum of 15 years. It also would eliminate a loophole, which allowed drunk drivers to escape the penalties they deserve:

Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol can actually receive less of a punishment if they flee the scene of an accident.  For example, in the case of a first-time offender, a driver who wrongfully flees the scene of an accident where a personal injury has occurred can only be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of only 1 year in jail.  However, if the driver remains at the scene and is found to be intoxicated or impaired by drugs, he or she can be immediately charged with a Class E felony which carries a maximum penalty of four years of imprisonment. Therefore, the incentive for a drunk or impaired driver to flee the scene of a hit and run accident is greater.

Golden expressed hope that the legislation would improve safety on the roads and save lives:

I thank my colleagues for their support of this legislation which has the potential to decrease the number of incidents where motorists just keep going after hitting a pedestrian.  In my district and throughout the State, families have been destroyed by such a disregard for human life.  I believe that there are instances where, if the driver stopped at the scene and called for help, the victim may have had a chance to survive.  This legislation will make our roads safer and save lives, and this year, this bill should become law.

Source: UIC Digital Collections via Flickr

The wise words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., resonate year after year. Here are a few quotes from MLK, which continue to inspire people of all nations:

  • “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
  • “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
  • “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  • “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

Have a happy MLK day, and consider the power of his words in all that you do. If you want to celebrate throughout Brooklyn, click here for some options.

Source: geoconklin2001 via Flickr

The following notice is from the NYC Department of Transportation, courtesy of Sheepshead Bites:

Alternate side parking (street cleaning) regulations will be suspended Monday, January 21 for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. All other regulations, including parking meters, remain in effect.

You can download a PDF of the Alternate Side of the Street parking calendar here.

Source: Google Maps

The beloved New Utrecht Library at 1743 86th Street is closing down. Fear not, the doors will only be shut for a month starting today to improve the space and upgrade the technology.

The library will reopen on February 19, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Councilman Vincent Gentile believes that a technology upgrade for public libraries is a needed advancement in the digital age.

“Whether it’s helping adults upgrade work skills and find jobs, fostering reading skills in young people, assisting immigrants with assimilation or providing access to technology for those without a computer or Internet connection at home in this new digital age, New York City’s public libraries are serving more people in more ways than ever before,” he said.

The Brooklyn Public Library has started a campaign throughout all of the boroughs to enhance digital usage of library materials.

The Daily Eagle listed a few of the other local branches that library users can head over to while the New Utrecht branch is closed:

The Dyker Heights Library, 8202 13th Ave.; the Highlawn Library, 1664 West 13th St.; the Mapleton Library, 1702 60th St.; and the Ulmer Park Library, 2602 Bath Ave.

Last year’s finalists. Source: www.nysenate.gov

Senator Marty Golden’s “Senator for a Day” essay contest is kicking off its 11th year. He’s inviting every middle school student enrolled in a 22nd Senate District middle school to participate by writing an essay on what they would do if they were a senator. 

According to Golden’s Facebook page:

The essay must be no more than 250-words and begin with the phrase, “If I Were A State Senator For a Day”. Throughout the essay, students should write about the issues they see facing the community. The winning essays will be judged on content and creativity.

Last year’s winners hailed from schools in Midwood and Bay Ridge. This year, I have a feeling that Bensonhurst will take it home.

“There is great talent in the classrooms of my district, and I invite the students to write an essay and tell me what they would seek to accomplish as a State Senator,” writes Golden. “As our middle school students are being educated in school, they also travel, shop and frequent our parks. They see some of the issues I do, and some different, but through this contest, they can be assured that I will continue to work to improve the quality of life of our neighborhood. I look forward to reading the essays and this contest.”

Contest finalists will be invited to attend a ceremony where they will read their essays to a panel of judges. Then, the winner of the contest will be invited  to spend the day in the in Albany.

Teachers interested in submitting student essays must do so by Monday, March 18. Submissions may be mailed to: Senator Marty Golden c/o Senator For A Day Contest, 7408-5th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11209.

Good luck teachers and students. If you happen to win and visit the State Capital, I’m sure I can help you think of some great legislation to pass while you’re there.

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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: Facebook

Pizza Daddy will soon class up the bustling 65th Street and Bay Parkway intersection with a new enclosed sidewalk seating area, after gaining Community Board 11′s approval at the January 10 meeting.

Before a crowd of 50 or so, the Board discussed Pizza Daddy (6422 Bay Parkway)’s application for a “revocable and non-transferable” permit to construct and operate an enclosed sidewalk café with 10 tables. The café would not obstruct pedestrian traffic, according to the application.

There was some resistance from a 60-year-old woman who lives nearby, who claimed that expanding the restaurant might exacerbate an existing vermin problem on the block. But Chairman Bill Guarinello clarified that the woman’s complaint about vermin was actually pertinent not to Pizza Daddy, but to the empty lot next door to it.

One middle-aged gentleman was for the café on the grounds that Pizza Daddy is a friendly spot in an otherwise desolate neighborhood at night, and its evening hours provides neighbors much needed refuge from would-be criminals.

“My kids duck in there on the way home from the train if they don’t feel safe. There are some burly guys in there. It’s a community business,” he said. The Board approved the application, which will now go to the Department of Consumer Affairs for review.

The Board also considered an application from Toys ‘R’ Us in Caesar’s Bay, which seeks to swap units within the shopping center. The toy store requested to tear down what used to be Strauss Discount Auto in Caesar’s Bay and erect a new, two-story department building.

“It means jobs,” Guarinello said. The vote passed unanimously.

Aside from the two hearings, Guarinello also spurred a long discussion about utilities resellers. Guarinello called these people “predatory,” saying they come knocking on your door asking for a utility bill and are quite aggressive.

“They all look like they just came out of a work release program,” Guarinello said. “Don’t give them your bills. Con Ed will never ask you for identifying data.”

– Batya Ungar-Sargon

Source: MadGrin via Flickr

From the media offices of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority:

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) services will operate on special schedules in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 21. Details are below.

New York City Subway and Staten Island Railway

  • The New York City Subway and the Staten Island Railway will operate on a regular weekday schedule. There will be slightly longer wait times on some subway lines. For live wait times on the123456 and S 42nd Street Shuttle, use MTA Subway Time™ for iPhone or desktop, or other apps that provide MTA data on wait times on these lines.
  • There is no special Get Away service on the Staten Island Railway.

New York City Buses

All buses operated by New York City Transit and the MTA Bus Company will operate on a regular weekday schedule with these exceptions:

  • Nine limited-stop bus routes on Staten Island will not operate: S81, S84, S86, S90, S91, S92, S94, S96, and S98. Local service on these routes will continue to operate. For real-time information about upcoming buses on these routes, use MTA Bus Time™ via smartphone, desktop or text message.
    There will be no limited-stop service on three bus routes in Queens (although local service will continue to run on these routes): Q6, Q25 and Q65.
  • The S89 and S93, as well as all other local, express, limited-stop and Select Bus Service buses, will run the normal weekday routes during their normal weekday hours, with slightly longer wait times on some routes. For real-time information about upcoming buses in the Bronx and on Staten Island, use MTA Bus Time™ via smartphone, desktop or text message.

Long Island Rail Road

The Long Island Rail Road will operate on a holiday schedule with 37 additional trains added on various branches as indicated in current timetables. Off peak fares apply all day.

Metro-North Railroad

Metro-North Railroad will operate on a Saturday schedule with 36 additional trains as indicated in the current Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Line timetables. Off peak fares apply all day.