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coop-candidates1

Five candidates vying for seats in two different Southern Brooklyn City Council districts participated in a heated debate on Sunday, focusing on reforming co-op laws to benefit as many as one million New York City residents of co-ops.

All candidates expressed support for a shareholder’s bill of rights, which would grant new protections from potentially abusive and exploitative boards of cooperative housing units. Despite the support, the frustrated shareholders – all with horror stories of their own – expressed a lack of confidence in much-needed reform and ultimately turned on the candidates.

Find out where the candidates stand, and how the audience reacted.

Source: Rasbak via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Rasbak via Wikimedia Commons

Alternate side of the street parking regulations for purpose of street cleaning will be suspended this Thursday, August 15, in observance of the Feast of the Assumption. All other regulations, including parking meters, shall remain in effect. You can download your own 2013 Alternate Side Parking Suspension calendar — in English, as well as in ChineseHaitian CreoleItalianKoreanRussian or Spanish (all PDFs) — from the NYC DOT’s website.

Garbage

Garbage

You see it everywhere in Southern Brooklyn; bins overflowing with garbage, trash strewn across the streets and collecting over sewer gutters. It is getting so bad that it is hard to blame people for littering when the alternative consists of trying to balance your coffee cup on a trash pyramid. CBS is reporting that residents in Midwood and Borough Park are up to their ears in trash and are demanding the Department of Sanitation (DOS) to do something about it.

Marilyn Leiman, who has spent 50 years living in Midwood, told CBS that the garbage problem has never been worse:

“I never saw it such a mess. If you walk down Avenue J, it’s just awful. And the other thing that gets me is a lot of tourists come here. They come to eat in the kosher pizza store. They come from Israel; from Los Angeles. And I’m so ashamed that they come here and see what it looks like,” Leiman said.

At the junction of Avenue J and East 14th Street, the trash was spilling far out of its intended receptacle — and was piled up in bags and heaps next to it.

Councilman David Greenfield called out the DOS directly:

Greenfield fired a salvo at the Department of Sanitation, saying several commercial strips in Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst are under-served.

“They’re allowing mounds of trash to pile up in our prime commercial areas,” he said.

Greenfield, who praised Sanitation efforts along residential streets, said commercial strips such as Avenue J, Avenue M and Kings Highway, don’t get the service they need. He provided photos taken over a three-day period. The owner of a bagel shop said he sees the trash mounds.

“All over the place, all over, and in the can for sure, but whatever doesn’t fit they have on the ground,” said the owner, Hershie Oberlander.

The merchants were unsure of the number of pick-ups, but the councilman said there’s only one pickup a week. He protested that Bay Ridge residents not far away get two pickups a week.

Greenfield’s reference to Bay Ridge might have something to do with the recent deal that Councilman Vincent Gentile worked out with the DOS for extra garbage pickups along the neighborhoods busiest streets. Gentile’s deal also covered parts of Bensonhurst.

CBS posted a response from DOS spokesperson Belinda Mager.

But a spokeswoman for the Sanitation Department said trash is actually picked up four times a week in the problem areas.

“Regular collection trucks service the area (Ave J + East 15th Street) on Tuesday and Fridays. In addition, there is a dedicated basket truck servicing the area on Sunday and Monday. Those baskets are serviced four days a week,” Mager said.

Something seems strange in Mager’s response as the deal Gentile struck increased pickups to four days a week. If Gentile’s deal was only for parts of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst and if the deal maxed out at four days a week, how could the DOS be collecting four days a week in an area where no deal has been struck?

Either way, as a response to mounting garbage problem, Greenfield has floated the ideas of placing security cameras near bins to track the amount of pickups and to catch people who illegally dump residential trash in the baskets.

We came across this beautiful short film made about the 74-year-old Williams Candy (1318 Surf Ave) that highlights there return to business following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.

The film, posted by NY Eater and created by The Brooklyn Ink, centers on an interview with store owner Peter Agrapides. The straightforward Agrapides, who has been operating the store for 29 years, describes his love and passion for the business.

“I built this store, I’m not going to love it? We’re an old fashioned store, a family store. The store is 74-years-old. My mommy used to bring me here 60 years ago,” Agrapides declares.

The mouthwatering images of jelly apples, sprinkles, golden popcorn and candy jars were contrasted by the sad story Agrapides described of the sorry state Sandy left the store in last October.

“When I came over here, it was like a war-zone. The refrigerators were swimming, five-feet of water, the big refrigerators, the big boxes, they were upside down. Friends of mine came in, they help us out, clean it out. Whatever I had, I put into it, and also, my family helped me, friends. Wherever I could get some cash, they gave it to me…Here we are again, we are in business, we did it in two and a half months. You put the apron on, you make money. That’s the way it’s done, that’s the proper way to do it.”

Councilman David Greenfield

Councilman David Greenfield

Looking to get the community invested in the future of Gravesend Park (18th Avenue and 56th Street), Councilman David Greenfield launched the “Friends of 18th Avenue Park” group. According to a press release, Greenfield is inviting residents to become inaugural members of a group whose purpose is to improve Gravesend Park.

Some of the priorities of the new group would be helping to prevent illegal activities in the space like vandalism and curbing after-hours use. The group, which is set to meet bi-monthly, would also bring new issues concerning the park as they arise to Greenfield.

Greenfield pinned the inspiration for the group on his love of parks.

“I have funded improvements in every single park in my district since taking office that will benefit families for years to come. I know that many community members share my passion for parks and my concern that the public’s investment in our local recreation areas is not ruined by illegal activity. That’s why I am forming the ‘Friends of 18th Avenue Park’ and asking residents to step up and get involved in their community,” Greenfield said in the release.

If you wish to participate in the group’s activities, here is the relevant information.

Any resident who is interested in joining the “Friends of 18th Avenue Park” should contact Councilman Greenfield at (718) 853-2704 or dgreenfield@council.nyc.gov. The group’s first meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday, August 14 at 7 p.m. at the park’s 18th Avenue entrance. In the case of rain, the meeting will take place at Councilman Greenfield’s district office, 4424 16th Avenue (corner of 45th Street).

Bensonhurst native Alexander Shlaferman is a multi-millionaire teenage business whiz-kid, responsible for operating the admittedly cool Vante Toys. According to a New York Post report, Shlaferman, a.k.a. Alex Xander, threw a huge hipster fest on the Manhattan Bridge over the weekend, which ultimately led to his arrest.

The free party, dubbed ‘Xandernation,’ was launched at 9:00 p.m. this past Saturday night and drew a crowd of 600 party-goers to the middle of the pedestrian walkway on the Manhattan Bridge. Shlaferman summed up his inspiration for the party to the Post.

“I can go to a New York City club and spend $3,000 on a table, and have fun for three or four friends. Or I can spend that money and make a thousand people happy,” Shlaferman said.

While the party raged with techno music for a few hours, the Post described how it eventually ended with Shlaferman’s arrest:

At about 12:30 a.m., cops from the 84th Precinct in Downtown Brooklyn arrived and took the organizer into custody, along with DJs Brendon Risano, 23, and Giacomo Nacci, 20.

“The sergeant said he’s never seen anything like that in 15 years,” said Shlaferman. “I told him, ‘Thank you.’ ”

The three men were taken to the station house for four hours. They were given desk-appearance tickets for reckless endangerment and other charges — and bonded with the officers.

Shlaferman, who runs a multi-million dollar toy company, said the cops talked to them in the cell, gave them water, and let them keep their equipment.

“We love all the guys there,” he said. “We showed respect to the police, and they showed respect back to us.”

While Shlaferman’s event was all in good fun, after the event, police were told to increase their security presence around the city’s bridges. CBS reported that the party represented something of an embarrassment for the NYPD:

And while Xander told CBSNewYork.com the event was a great success and the arrests were worth it, some experts were not so amused by it all.

“Anything that happens on the bridge with huge amounts of people that isn’t under the control of police is a terrible security risk,” said terrorism expert Micah Halpern.

Halpern noted that the party was promoted on social media for days – a blow to the NYPD.

It was the fourth bridge security lapse in as many months.

Among them was an event on Memorial Day weekend, when an abandoned vehicle on the Brooklyn Bridge rattled nerves. Then on July 4, a “Spider-Man” wannabe rappelled down the landmark.

It begs the question: who is watching for more sinister behavior?

“These bridges are essential targets to the terrorist mindset, because they say to the terrorist world, ‘We’ve hit the heart of our target,’” Halpern said.

I get that the bridges represent a vulnerable point in the city’s security but I also miss the more innocent days that united city dwellers in spontaneous revelry. Are the days when people used to be able to rush the field when their favorite baseball team won the pennant truly over? Are we so afraid of terrorism that we aren’t allowed to celebrate happiness in our great city? Kind of sad.

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Officers allowed neighborhood kids to explore a squad car.

The 62nd Precinct joined more than 15,000 communities across the United States in National Night Out Against Crime 2013 last Tuesday, August 6, drawing scores of children to take back the street from violence.

The event kicked off at 5 p.m., with children and their parents joining the precinct’s police officers for fun, food and entertainment. The kids lined up to check out a 62nd Precinct patrol car that officers opened up for them, allowing them to have a seat, sound the siren and talk on the loudspeaker – probably jolting a few passersby.

It was the 30th anniversary of the national event, celebrated in more than 15,000 communities across all 50 states, representing the communities reclaiming their streets from violence and crime.

After munching on some free hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and food from Lucy’s Sausage Stand, event-goers danced to beats from local DJ Perfect Entertainment.

“There was a cute older man dancing to the jive. As the night moved on the D.J hosted a crazy hat/mask contest, musical chairs, freeze dance and a scavenger hunt for prizes,” said Amy Nicole Simeone-Rodriguez, who filled Bensonhurst Bean in on the event, and sent the accompanying photos.

Read more about the event and see more photos.

Photo By Allan Shweky

Photo By Allan Shweky

The shark-painted walkway stretching over Surf Avenue at the corner of West 8th Street was torn down over the weekend, just like the city promised.

Last May, we reported that the rusted bridge was being dismantled for safety reasons. Originally, the bridge was put up 50 years ago to transfer people coming off of the Culver and Brighton lines into the then newly built aquarium.

Critics, including City Council candidate Todd Dobrin, charged that the removal of the overpass would make the intersection less safe, as pedestrians would have to contend with traffic. Allan Shweky, who runs Friends of Ocean Parkway, a blog focused on pedestrian safety, provided us with the images of the now removed overpass and lent his thoughts.

“As you know a traffic light will replace the bridge. There will be a new entrance to the Boardwalk on West 10 Street but the walk from the subway will force subway riders to cross a crowded Surf Avenue to get to the beach. Will be as safe as the Stillwell Avenue intersection which is not saying much,” Shweky told us.

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Photo By Allan Shweky

coney island walkway 3

Photo By Allan Shweky

Source: Skley/Flickr

Wall Street hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Ling Chan, a Bensonhurst woman, lost her job and is facing a lawsuit that alleges sexual harassment among other complaints. The New York Post is reporting that Chan made life hell for her coworkers and bosses long after they fired her for misconduct.

The bizarre story started in the offices of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the policing agency for the financial industry, in December of 2011, where Chan worked as an oversight examiner. Chan was romantically infatuated with coworker Dan Small, repeatedly asking him out, only to be rejected over and over. The Post describes the series of incidents that led to Chan’s dismissal:

She sent him romantic e-mails; Small said no thanks, the suit says. She made frequent Facebook friend and LinkedIn contact requests; Small ignored them. She bought him cards, an initialed coffee mug and golf balls, the suit alleges; all were declined, the suit says.

On February 14, 2012 – Valentine’s Day – Chan allegedly asked him five times for a “coffee date.” When that failed, she harassed five other co-workers, demanding they divulge his private cell phone number and dish on his relationship status, the suit says.

“Although Small repeatedly made it clear that he was not interested in Chan romantically and that her amorous advances should stop, they did not,” the suit says.

One day after Chan’s alleged Valentine’s Day onslaught, Small begged his human services department for help. But when an HR rep told Chen to back off, she brazenly asked if he could forward a love letter to Small for her, the suit alleges.

Chan was then fired on February 22, 2012, but allegedly continued her stream of harassment towards Small and human resources manager John Braut. Chan put forward her own lawsuit over her firing and took to the internet to denigrate her former coworkers. The Post detailed how Chan’s behavior continued to spiral:

That’s not all. In the year and a half since her firing, Chan has applied 574 times to 82 positions at FINRA, using at least 150 aliases from 11 different email accounts, the suit claims – applying even to positions “for which she was not even remotely qualified.”

Perhaps worst hit of anyone by Chan’s alleged escapades was HR manager John Braut, who Chan allegedly signed up “for various unwanted magazine subscriptions, some of which were pornographic in nature, as well as for gay porn sites, using his FINRA e-mail address,” the suit alleges.

Chan is also being blamed for posting negative and threatening comments about him on websites including Craigslist.com, Jerk.com and Twitter.

“I want to smash your ugly mug with my fist. Burn in HELL douchebag,” was among the Jerk.com postings Chan allegedly dedicated to Braut.

“Be careful on your way home a******!!!!!” she allegedly posted. “I would love the opportunity to push you in front of a taxi or bus. Bye Bye john braut. The world would be better with one less fag.”

The New York Daily News described how Chan’s harassment spammed all levels of FINRA, enraging the entire organization:

Chan also “bombarded” FINRA’s online ethics board with 154 complaints, sent 129 complaints to the company ombudsman, and ignored repeated legal warnings to stop, the papers state.

In response to the embarrassing news of Chan’s lawsuit becoming public, the former clerk had little to say.

“That’s a personal matter, I don’t want to discuss it,” Chan told the Daily News.

Well, if Chan doesn’t want to discuss this “personal” matter, I suppose I will. I have some sympathy for Chan, not because of her alleged behavior, which has been reprehensible, but because of the ensuing media blowup that laid out all of her “dirty laundry” in public. If the lawsuit is to be believed, Chan’s behavior was infantile and uncalled for but they also speak to someone who might be suffering from psychological and social disorders. Everything she is accused of doing is shameful, but her humiliation, which started in December of 2011, has reached its zenith.

I suppose the lawsuit was necessary considering Chan’s continued actions but for the media to pile on in a case whose subject is clearly suffering some deranged emotional breakdown seems cruel. These don’t seem to be the actions of someone who “has it all together.” Either way, I find the story more sad than funny. What do you think?

Source: Colton's office

Source: Colton’s office

Assemblyman William Colton led a rally in Bensonhurst, renewing the battle against the Department of Sanitation’s (DOS) plans to build a waste transfer station in Gravesend Bay behind the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Center (1640 Shore Parkway). WPIX is reporting that despite orders from a state judge giving the DOS a go-ahead on their plans, Colton has continued his effort to block the building of the facility.

When we last reported on Gravesend Bay waste transfer station, State Supreme Court Judge Bert Bunyan gave the DOS permission to go ahead on their plans to construct the facility, dismissing Colton’s concerns that toxic chemicals buried in the bay would be dredged up by new construction along the waters. Colton also expressed concerns of toxins being whipped up from an incinerator that once operated in the area 30 years ago. Despite these setbacks, Colton held another rally with City Council candidate Mark Treyger, calling for residents to “dump the dump.”

Colton also urged the future mayor to block the construction of the station.

“Sign a pledge, to stand up with and speak up for the people of Southern Brooklyn,” Colton said.

At the rally, Colton reiterated the dangers of building a waste transfer station along the waters of Gravesend Bay.

“The next time we have a flood, the people of Coney Island, Seagate, Brighton Beach, Gravesend and Bensonhurst, are not only going to have to worry about mold, but they are going to have to worry about mercury in their basements…about dioxins, Mirex and pesticides and insecticides, and those things are not so easily removed,” Colton told WPIX.

The DOS issued a response that attempted to allay locals’ fears.

“At the Marine Transfer Station, the waste will be compacted, containerized, and shipped out by barge avoiding truck traffic on local roads and enhancing the quality of life. The MTS won overwhelming support from the City Council and has received the environmental permits necessary to proceed with construction,” the DOS’s statement said.