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Source: Brook-Krasny’s office

Following President Barack Obama’s lead, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny is leading the State Assembly’s initiative to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 per hour, according to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Last year, the Assembly passed a bill that raised the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour, but are now planning to amend the bill to match the raising rate of inflation and Obama’s national missive. Brook-Krasny stressed the importance of New York State taking the lead in this matter.

“While the national attention to this vitally important issue is encouraging, it’s essential that we don’t wait for Washington to take action. With overwhelming public support to increase the minimum wage here in New York State, we have to act now,” he told the Daily Eagle.

If the legislation is passed, the minimum wage will be raised to $9 per hour starting in January 2014. Food service workers who rely on tips will see their base pay increased to $6.21 per hour. The legislation will also index the minimum wage starting in 2015, so that every year, it’s adjusted to reflect the rate of inflation according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

While the bill is expected to pass in the Assembly, its future in the Senate will be tested by Republicans who argue that an increase in the minimum wage will limit job growth and weaken the economy. Brook-Krasny doesn’t agree.

“By increasing the minimum wage, working families will see a rise in their purchasing power and are likely to spend the money from their hard-earned paychecks at local businesses, helping strengthen our economy,” he said.

Peter Abbate Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Assemblymen Peter Abbate and William Colton introduced eight new bills that would increase pensions and retirement benefits for government workers, according to a report by the New York Daily News - and that’s got the paper’s editors fuming.

The cost of the new bills would total $1.35 billion dollars a year, a figure that opponents of the legislation feel are too high and irresponsible during the ongoing economic slump. The Daily News jumped over the news of the proposed legislation in a scathing editorial:

 As overgenerous public employee pensions hammer taxpayers and push governments to the edge of bankruptcy, Assembly Democrats are dreaming up ways to make retirements richer.

They filed no fewer than eight pension-fattening bills on Valentine’s Day eve — pitching woo to their labor sweethearts at huge public expense. The potential cost to taxpayers, as calculated by the Citizens Budget Commission: $1.3 billion.

Labor lovebird-in-chief Peter Abbate of Brooklyn, head of the Governmental Employees Committee, sponsored seven. The eighth was authored by fellow Brooklynite William Colton.

… The most outrageous of Abbate and Colton’s proposals would boost payouts to workers with more than 30 years’ service, adding $1.1 billion to the taxpayers’ tab. Other schemes enable various groups of employees to retire even earlier than they already do, or make it even easier for them to qualify for disability benefits — whether or not they were actually injured on the job.

Abbate, was quick to try and stem the outcry from conservative voices opposed to the legislation.

“No one is saying they are going to pass, but you give everybody a chance to be heard and to explain the bills,” Abbate told the Daily News.

 

A driver was taken into custody by police after plowing into another vehicle and flipping her car causing it to flip on Highlawn Avenue near Stillwell Avenue, a reader tells us.

The reader sent us the accompanying photos and said that the accident happened around 2:15 p.m., around the same time P.S. 97, located one block away, was dismissed. Luckily, the reader noted, no children were hurt.

“Never seen a car crash like this,” the neighbor wrote to Bensonhurst Bean. “Everyone survived but it looks like a scene from a movie.”

The tipster said the driver was arrested for driving under the influence, though we have not yet confirmed that with police.

Update (4:30 p.m.): Another reader pipes in to correct us, letting us know that the driver who was intoxicated and arrested was in the small car, not the truck, and that the SUV was driven by a man. We made the change above.

This is a breaking news story and may contain inaccuracies. We will update it as more information becomes available. If anyone has more information or additional photos, please send them to nberke (at) bensonhurstbean (dot) com.

 

Source: Flickr Metropolitan Transportation Authority Patrick Cashin

Influential New York City Republican State Senator Marty Golden lent his endorsement to Joe Lhota in this year’s upcoming mayoral race, according to a report by the New York Post.

According to the Post, Golden’s endorsement represents a small fissure in a Republican Party looking to capture the city’s top post through a more independent route:

Golden’s endorsement of Lhota puts him at odds with his GOP Brooklyn chairman, Craig Eaton, who is backing former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, a former Democrat turned independent who is expected to run on the Independence Party line while also seeking GOP support.

Despite these divisions Golden predicted that the entirety of the New York City Republican base will end up rallying around Lhota, the former MTA chief and deputy mayor under Bloomberg.

“A lot of the elected leaders will go with Lhota,” Golden told the Post. “There will be an endorsement across-the-board.”

Bensonhurst Bean reader Kaffy sent over this snazzy photo of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Got a photo for “In Focus,” our weekly photo feature? Send it over to nberke [at] bensonhurstbean.com!

Source: angiepontani.com

It’s cold, it’s February and you don’t have work. Perhaps a spanking new job by the beach, courtesy of the Alliance for Coney Island, can snap you out of your winter funk. According to a report by the New York Post, there are hundreds of summer jobs available for those who register now.

This Saturday, the Alliance for Coney Island will begin its fourth annual recruitment drive. They are looking to fill 250 summer jobs with the promise of hundreds more being offered at a later date. The organization will be holding a screening event on February 23 and 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lincoln High School (2800 Ocean Parkway.)

Positions are available at Luna Park, Nathan’s Famous and Deno’s Wonder Wheel but to attend the screening, you must register by visiting www.coneyislandjobs2013.com.

The jobs screening event is a joint collaboration between the Alliance for Coney Island, the HireNYC Program, the Economic Development Corp., Workforce 1, Small Business Services  and Councilman Domenic Recchia.

Source: Facebook

The New York Times has an excellent article on the famous little shack located at the edge of the Ceasar’s Bay Bazaar (8973 Bay Parkway) parking lot, updating the progress made since our last report on the center. According to the Times, the center has raised the necessary funds needed to bring a in a new spacious trailer to replace the small wooden shack.

In the article, the Times also tracks the origins and progress of the center, which has been an invaluable resource to immigrant laborers since its formation in 2001.

Since its founding, the center has found jobs for approximately 5,000 day laborers.

When Superstorm Sandy swept into the region late last October, the 8-by-12 wooden shack was blown off its foundation 120 feet and there was an immediate effort to restore its place at the corner of 18th Avenue and 69th Street due to the immense symbolism the shack has come to represent to people in the community:

The center has served not only as a physical space where immigrants find work, but also as a rare symbol of empowerment in a city where day laborers, usually illegal immigrants, often find themselves tethered to the lowest rung of the social totem pole.

“This center has provided for me,” said Victoriano de la Cruz, 35, who first came to the job center 10 years ago. “We didn’t want it to disappear.”

Through grants gathered from three foundations, the center was able to raise the $20,000 needed to bring in a 40-foot trailer that now serves as the center’s new headquarters. The trailer was painted bright red.

With the new trailer in place, the beloved original shack’s days are numbered, according to community organizer Yadira Sanchez.

“The house means that there are many things that we can do together,” Sanchez told the Times. “Only when the other one is ready, then this old one is going to be completely destroyed.”

Source: Google Maps

The New Utrecht branch of the Brooklyn Public Library will reopen today after more than a month of being closed.

Located at 1743 86th Street, the branch has been temporarily closed for renovations and “customer service enhancements” since January 18.

A representative from the New Utrecht branch said that the renovated library will have a new learning space and 70 new computers, among other new accommodations, including self-checkout machines.

The library will be open until 8 p.m. this evening.

Correction: The original version of this report said that the renovation included a new learning space and 70 new computers, based on information provided to us by a library rep. Actually, those improvements were made at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central branch, not at the local branch, and the article above has been changed to reflect that.

Phil Nuzzo Conducts the Metro Chamber Orchestra. Source: Facebook

The 200th birthday of beloved Italian musical genius Guiseppe Verdi is approaching this month, and Bensonhurst’s Phil Nuzzo is leading his Metro Chamber Orchestra to celebrate the musical master’s birth, according to a press release.

Nuzzo is the artistic director of the Metro Chamber Orchestra (MCO), a group that performs both the traditional classics of Mozart and works of modern and new composers.

On February 23, the MCO will join the Brooklyn Conservatory Chorale and the Brooklyn Wind Symphony at 8 p.m. to celebrate Verdi’s life at St. Anne and the Holy Trinity located at 157 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights.

The performance will culminate for a grand finale, culling over 125 musicians from the three groups to perform the Triumphal Scene from the Verdi’s famous opera Aida.

Tickets are available for $25 through brownpapertickets.com/verdigala. Additional information may be obtained on the MCO website, www.themetrochamberorchestra.org.

Source: Nesnad via Wikimedia Commons

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced that the citywide school bus driver strike is set to end this week.

The strike lasted just over a month and will see the 8,000 drivers from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 return to work this Wednesday.

The strike’s end will come as a relief to city parents who have had to find alternate means to get their kids to school. To help parents, the city issued $20 million worth of MetroCards and travel reimbursements to families, but, surprisingly, the city saved money in the past month, according to a report on the cost of the strike by the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Walcott said he expected that number [$20 million] to rise as parents continue to seek repayment for cabs or car service, while city-purchased MetroCards will expire Wednesday, he said. Mr. Walcott said the city saved $80 million by not paying bus companies during the strike, which ends Tuesday when about 200 private schools resume classes.

Walcott urged parents to file reimbursements within the next 30 days for transportation costs they incurred in the past month, which include cab fares and gas mileage.

Bloomberg didn’t give in to any of the union’s demands for job security promises. However, the strike came to an end when the union received pledges from Democratic mayoral candidates, including Christine Quinn, promising greater cooperation with the union should the Democrats prevail in this year’s election.

Walcott also notified parents that the return to a normal bus schedule will be bumpy come Wednesday due to the month-long disruption, and cautioned parents to have patience.