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The opening of the Nets Barclays Center officially ushers in the age of Brooklyn as a brand. The developers of the stadium made sure that everything from the ad campaigns to the food somehow reflects a Brooklyn essence.

Forget stale popcorn and pretzels, food vendors will be serving up Brooklyn staples like Nathan’s Famous and L&B Spumoni Gardens, along with some newcomers like McClure’s Pickles and Calexico.

For some of the stadium fare, one would have to have deep pockets like Bruce Ratner himself. The Red Hook Lobster Pound will be dishing out lobster rolls for $18.50, according to the New York Times.

Otherwise, it’s an eclectic mix of the borough’s top artisan cookery.

As for the way it’s turning out, Ratner went ahead and taste-tested everything, with some less than pleasant results. While he loves L&B Spumoni Gardens, he felt the slices were not up to par.

“It’s too doughy, a little dry,” he said. “Should I be the first customer to throw something in the trash?”

The arena is  set to officially open on September 28 for a sold-out Jay-Z concert, where concert goers will sing along to Jigga with a mouthful of L&B. That’s pretty Brooklyn.

Image courtesy of Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Senator Martin Golden

The MTA is considering a proposal to increase the tolls on New York City’s major bridges and tunnels. This means that the cash tolls for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge would go from $13 to $15.

Electronic tolls may be bumped up as well, according to the New York Daily News.

The MTA board will vote on a final budget in December, with raised tolls possibly going into effect by March of 2013.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Senator Martin Golden, along with Congressman Michael Grimm, have come forward to denounce the hikes.

Grimm sent a letter to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in which he writes:

Why is the answer always to raise tolls? Every family and business in NYC has had to learn to live within a budget, so why can’t the MTA?  We are sick and tired of NYC’s debt-stricken agencies – whether it being the PA or the MTA – running immediately to the taxpayers for a bailout.  There has to be another solution that doesn’t involve shifting the burden to the taxpayer. I suggest the MTA a serious look at its finances, cut out the waste, and find a creative way to maintain the current level of services without raising fares or the tolls on the Verrazano Bridge.

While Malliotakis and Golden hosted a recent press conference at the Brooklyn entrance of the Verrazano Bridge.

Malliotakis stated that a toll hike would have a devastating impact on local business. She presented a report obtained from Port Authority that backs up her claims.

She said:

The MTA has treated our community as a piggy bank at the expense of our economy for years, and its toll hike plan for bridges and tunnels is yet another example of its indifference to local commuters and job creators,” said Malliotakis. “If you want to know what will happen as a result of further MTA toll hikes, look no further than the NYCT, where businesses have been crippled by the Port Authority’s cash-grabs. By raising bridge and tunnel tolls, the MTA is exporting jobs to neighboring states and unfairly burdening local toll payers. We will not stand idly by as another mismanaged transportation agency attempts to balance its budget on the backs of local businesses and commuters.

Golden agrees and is also concerned with the economic issues associated with raising tolls on major bridges. He states:

Our community relies on the surrounding bridges not only for transportation, but as cornerstones of commerce and job creation. Raising tolls on these structures is bad for businesses, bad for commuters and bad for our economy. In these difficult economic times, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is wrongfully again looking to dig deeper into the pockets of motorists who travel across the five boroughs of our City. Raising tolls on these structures is bad for businesses, bad for commuters and bad for our economy.

According to reports, inbound trucks to New York pay 544 percent in tolls more than trucks using New Jersey’s terminals. This “increases the cost of everything transported into New York, with absolutely no justification or benefit to New Yorkers,” said Kendra Adams, President of the New York State Motor Truck Association.

Source: Google Maps

Dr. Simon Levich, a Staten Island resident who owned and operated Avenue P Medical, a podiatrist office, is facing sentencing after an arrest during which he was accused of hundreds of fraudulently-billed Medicare hours and over $100,000 in collected fees.

Levich was arrested in 2009 and accused of dozens of crimes that occurred between September of 2006 through December 2008, according to SI Live.com.

Claims include: Billing Medicare for over 160 hours of work in a single day, charging for surgical procedures when clients only received whirlpool treatment, submitting billing for doctors who no longer worked there and a host of other bogus medical services.

Levich plead guilty for using another doctor’s identification number to file a false tax return.

Michael Rosen, Levich’s lawyer, wants most of the allegations against his client stricken from the record. He also wants an “alternative” non-jail sentence for Levich.

Levich has no other black spots on his medical licensing record. Further, he’s been operating at his medical center at 220 Avenue P since being arrested.

According to prosecutors and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gina Parlovecchio, since his arrest, Levich “flout[ed]” Medicare regulations by providing free cosmetology, acupuncture and massage services to Medicare beneficiaries to influence their choice of a Medicare provider.”

They believe this shows his disregard for the rules of Medicare.

His lawyer, however, said that the latest claims made by the prosecutors are “desperate, 11th hour attempt at smearing, again, Dr. Levich.”

The Great Bay Ridge Debate takes place next Tuesday, September 25, at 7:3o p.m. The debate is a chance to hear local pols go at it before the elections.

Xaverian High School at 7100 Shore Road will host the war of words, and audience are encouraged to attend.

The only unfortunate note to this civic event is that it falls on the eve of Yom Kippur.

Update (9/22/12 3:39 p.m.): Brian Hedden of Bay Ridge blog Bay Ridge Odyssey has informed us that the debate has been cancelled to avoid the Yom Kippur date conflict. No date is set yet for another debate.

Source: Flickr upload bot via Wikimedia Commons

Stacey Catapano of Brooklyn Makeup Studio has been working with the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) to raise funds and awareness for those affected by the disease.

She’s become a PDF Champion, a name bestowed on those who are dedicated individuals and give their time and energy to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s in their local communities.

Today from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., at her makeup studio at 447 Avenue P, in collaboration with Mercedes Benz and Bella Magazine, Catapano is hosting the “Grand Opening Cocktail Party,” an event that will feature free makeovers by makeup artists starting at 12 p.m., along with free gifts with purchases, food, cocktails and dessert.

The event is free to attend. Appointments are recommended for makeup applications. A portion of all sales of beauty services and products made that day will benefit the PDF.

Catapano will also be raffling off $1,000 worth of beauty products and baskets, with all proceeds of ticket sales benefitting PDF.

To learn more, contact the Brooklyn Makeup Studio at (718) 333 3482 or visit Stacey’s personal fundraising page.

Source: Flickr upload bot via Wikimedia Commons

From the offices of Assemblyman William Colton and Councilman David Greenfield:

ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON AND COUNCILMAN GREENFIELD ORGANIZE MAJOR BENSONHURST NEIGHBORHOOD CLEANUP EFFORT WITH HELP OF LOCAL YOUTH GROUPS AS PART OF AN ONGOING“SPEAK-UP! & CLEAN-UP!” CAMPAIGN ACROSS SOUTHERN BROOKLYN

Date: Sunday, September 23, 2012

Time: 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m.

Meet-up location: Assemblyman Colton’s community office at 155 Kings Highway (between West 12th and West 13th Street)

In response to neighborhood concerns about cleanliness across Bensonhurst, Assemblyman William Colton (D-Brooklyn) and Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) have organized another major neighborhood cleanup project with the help of local youth groups on Sunday, September 23, 2012.  An army of volunteers has signed up to help clean up the following areas: Seth Low Park, Kings Highway from McDonald Avenue to Stillwell Avenue, and Bay Parkway from 65th Street to 78th Street. Assisting the two elected officials in organizing this effort is Priscilla Consolo, a young dynamic community activist and college student.

“There is no better civics lesson for our young people than to take ownership of their neighborhood by keeping it clean for all residents to enjoy,” stated Assemblyman Colton. “Our sustained Speak-Up! and Clean-Up! campaign encourages residents to alert us about areas in need of cleaning up while mobilizing our neighborhood’s youth to get the job done. This is surely a win-win for our community,” Colton added. “I am thrilled to work with Assemblyman Colton and our youth groups to ensure that our neighborhood remains beautiful and vibrant to the benefit of Bensonhurst residents,” stated Councilman Greenfield. “I am so proud to be a part of this important effort to revitalize our neighborhood with the help of Assemblyman Colton, Councilman Greenfield, and my friends,” added Priscilla Consolo, who helped recruit volunteers for the cleanup effort.

The list of volunteers include: Members from Our Lady of Grace Teen Group, members from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, students from New Utrecht High School, students from Midwood High School’s Key Club, students from Brooklyn Technical High School’s Key and Red Cross clubs, students from John Dewey’s Key Club, students from Edward R. Murrow’s Key Club, members from Bensonhurst Cluster Youth Ministry, and members from the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn.

The scheduled cleanup is the sixth cleanup initiative undertaken by Assemblyman Colton’s youth group coalition. Previously, hundreds of teenagers led successful cleanup efforts along 86th Street, Bath Avenue, Kings Highway, Bay Parkway, and Avenue U.

Additionally, the Department of Sanitation and Home Depot have indicated that they will supply the groups with tools to assist them in the clean-up effort. For more information about this clean-up campaign, please contact Priscilla Consolo at priscillaconsolo@gmail.com.

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: US Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons

Bean reporter Elle Spektor pointed us to the story of a 72-year-old woman who was infected with encephalitis, or the West Nile Virus.

Virginia DiCosmo was admitted to the hospital on September 11, according to Carol DiCosmo, her daughter, as reported My Fox NY.

Fox also wrote that Virginia lives on “West 44th” in Bensonhurst. Actually, there is no West 44th in Bensonhurst, and a quick search in public records indicates that Virginia actually lives on Bay 44th. Bay 44th was sprayed for West Nile as recently as September 6. It seems as if Virginia may have contracted West Nile before that.

Carol said that her mother may be discharged to a rehabilitation facility sometime soon.

Source: Jennifer Prezioso/ @PrezWithaZ

This bright, saturated shot is here to remind us of the going of Bensonhurst’s summer flora. See you next year, English daisy.

A little about the program from Program Administrator at the Ulmer Park branch, Sean Fodera:

The program is called “Ready, Set, Kindergarten”, for children 3 to 5 years with their parents.  We meet for one hour every Saturday (Sundays in some branches), and the first session is this weekend.  The program was previously known as “Weekend Stories for Pre-Schoolers”, but has been revamped with a more academic focus to teach early learning skills to both the children and the parents.

We spend the hour reading picture books, doing fingerplays, rhymes and songs, and an arts-and-craft activity.  While all of this entertains the children, and gives them some familiarity with a classroom-type environment, we are also giving the parents tips on how to find time and materials to read and play with their children, and how to incorporate things like reading, writing, drawing, math and science into daily activities.  For example, write the names of common supermarket items on a card, and have your child do a scavenger hunt for the words as you walk the aisles.

According to Fedora, interest at the Bensonhurst libraries has been strong in previous years. This year, they’re looking to work with new students as the kids in their program have been moving on to Pre-K and Kindergarten.

Hope this helps the moms and dads looking to do a fun and educational activity with their kids.