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Councilman David Greenfield

Councilman David Greenfield

Councilman David Greenfield wants to stop a dirty practice that is costing New Yorkers millions of dollars a year at restaurants across the city. The New York Post is reporting that Greenfield wants to enact heavy fines for eateries that deal in the tricky ‘double tipping’ practice.

Restaurants that con people into tipping twice do so by including the “suggested” gratuity in the bill and also add a tip line at the bottom of the credit card slip. Unassuming patrons then add on an extra tip, unaware that they have already been charged one. The Post described how the practice first saw the light of day:

Earlier this year, Manhattan tennis pro Ted Dimond sued a half-dozen restaurant chains – including Red Lobster and The Olive Garden – for regularly adding tips of 15 percent or more to the tabs of small dining parties.

His class-action suit cited a 2009 Post investigation that found that dozens of businesses had been caught engaging in illegal tipping practices.

Greenfield, who has proposed fining restaurants $250 who partake in the scam, spoke to the economic impact of the practice and the need for action:

“By our account, this is literally an in issue that is costing restaurant-eating New Yorkers millions of dollars every single year,” Greenfield told The Post.

“We’re not looking to hurt the hard-working waitstaff at restaurants,” he added. “But at the same time, we don’t want you to trick people into tipping you twice.”

The law would be enforced by the Department of Consumer Affairs, and require a disclosure on both the bill and the credit card receipt, in a font-size to be determined by the agency.

The bill has been referred to committee for hearings.

Screenshot from the NY1 debate.

Screenshot from the NY1 debate.

Tomorrow is Election Day, and while many of the City Council elections were determined during September’s primary, Bensonhurst remains the scene of one of the most heated general elections in New York City.

Democratic incumbent Vincent Gentile has faced a fierce challenge from Republican John Quaglione in his reelection bid for the 43rd District of the City Council, which covers Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

Quaglione, an aide to State Senator Marty Golden, has spent months placing blame for the perceived decline in quality of life and funding shortfalls at the feet of Gentile, as well as hitting him for his former support of the Gravesend Bay waste transfer station.

Gentile, meanwhile, has fought back, depicting Quaglione as a Johnny-come-lately who, despite having the power to address some of these issues as a Golden aide, has only turned his attention to them to win votes. He has defended the slip in funding to the district by pointing out that, as someone who has criticized Council leadership on behalf of his constituents, he’s been penalized by seeing funding for the district withheld. He claims that if reelected, his position of seniority in the Council would herald a new era of increased resources to the neighborhoods he serves.

The duo took to NY1′s Road to City Hall for a very informative debate moderated by Errol Louis. Here’s the rundown, and you can watch the entire debate here:

  • Increasing the purchase age of tobacco to 21: Gentile voted against increasing the age, noting that reducing smoking is important but that the bill would be ineffective and grow the black market at the expense of local businesses. He said he preferred investments into educating minors in the perils of smoking. Quaglione said he would have voted in favor of the bill in order to keep cigarettes out of the hands of minors. He said that cigarettes serve as a gateway to marijuana and prescription drug abuse. They both said they would like to see the legal age for hookah use to be raised.
  • Superstorm Sandy: Quaglione said the storm wracked havoc on Ceasar’s Bay shopping center, a local economic and employment base in the district. He also noted that the seawall needs repairs and to be better protected. Gentile said he worked with the Parks Department to get FEMA funds for repairs to the seawall, but noted that it has taken too long. He also said that we need to look at everything that happens on the waterfront including the…
  • Gravesend Bay Waste Transfer station: Although not a question in the debate, Gentile raised the issue to hit Quaglione and Golden for being “silent on the issue” until the campaign heated up. He admitted he supported the plan prior to 2006, when it was discovered that the City withheld information about toxins in the water that could be stirred up during dredging, at which point he sided with Assemblyman William Colton to fight the station’s placement. Quaglione hit back, saying that Gentile supported it when it wasn’t part of the district, and only changed his support when the area was added into his district.
  • NYPD surveillance of the Muslim community: Gentile said that the NYPD must comply with standing laws regarding surveillance, but has noted that the NYPD did appear to violate those laws. He said he has worked with the local Arab-American community to try and bridge communication between the department and the community. Quaglione added that “there’s no room for racial profiling,” and “religious tolerance must be the priority.”
  • Independence from their political party: In response to a question from Gentile about an example when Quaglione would have voted differently from his boss, Golden, Quaglione said he would have voted different on the smoking ban in restaurants. He also said there is legislation that he would have liked to put forward that Golden did not, but did not give an example.
  • On flip-flopping: Quaglione said that Gentile has changed his position on term limits, the waste transfer station, and stipends for Council members serving on committees, and asked Gentile how he can prove he is a man of his word. Gentile responded that those were mischaracterizations of his positions on the issues, and said of term limits that he was opposed to the “legislative vote” on it, in contrast to a voter referendum. Having had it pass over his objections, he said he was “putting our community in a position of being served by the senior member of the City Council.”

Watch the entire NY1 debate.

 

Voting booths, on the left, in New York City, circa 1900. Source: Wikipedia

Voting booths, on the left, in New York City, circa 1900. Source: Wikipedia

Alternate side of the street parking regulations for the purpose of street cleaning will be suspended Tuesday, November 5 for Election Day [Ed. -- Don’t forget to vote!] 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 Chinese, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean, Russian or Spanish (all PDFs) — from the NYC DOT’s website.

Source: mercurialn/Flickr

D LINE

Beginning 8:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday, Bronx-bound D trains run local from 36 St, Brooklyn to DeKalb Av.

From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday to Thursday, Bronx-bound D trains run local from 59 St-Columbus Circle to 145 St.

From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, no D trains between 205 St and 161 St – Take the 4 instead. Bronx-bound D trains skip 155 St. D service operates between Coney Island and 161 St.

Travel alternatives:

  • Take 4 service to/from nearby stations instead.
  • Transfer between D and 4 service at 161 St.
  • Free shuttle buses provide connecting service between the 205 St D and Mosholu Pkwy 4 stations only.

N LINE

All times until October 2014: There are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

Beginning 8:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday, Manhattan-bound N trains run local from 59 St to DeKalb Av.

R LINE

All times until October 2014: There are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 9:45 p.m. to 12 midnight, Tuesday and Wednesday, R service is extended to the 179 St F station.

F LINE

There are no scheduled service advisories at this time.

Councilman David Greenfield (Source: Facebook)

Councilman David Greenfield (Source: Facebook)

In an attempt to decrease traffic-related fatalities, Councilman David Greenfield has proposed legislation that would reduce the speed limit on residential streets citywide. According to a press release, Greenfield argued that lowering the speed limits on residential streets would save lives.

Greenfield’s proposed legislation would reduce the speed limit on all residential streets in the five boroughs to 20 mph. At a Council hearing to debate his proposal, Greenfield laid out his case.

“It is clear that we must do much more to make our streets safer for everyone, especially pedestrians. Barely a day goes by without another New Yorker being seriously injured or killed by a speeding or reckless motorist. This is a problem that impacts every community and everyone who walks our streets. One of the simplest things we can do is reduce the speed of drivers traveling through our residential and side streets,”Greenfield said.

Backing up Greenfield was Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. White expressed his support for Greenfield’s plan and the release cited statistics put out by Transportation Alternatives that point to the seriousness of the issue:

“Traffic deaths are preventable. We know the decisions people make that contribute to fatalities, and we know what actions to take to help people make better decisions. We must decide whether we are willing to take the action necessary to eliminate traffic deaths,” testified White. “We should make 20 miles per hour the default New York City speed limit. This is a reasonable approach to saving lives.”

According to Transportation Alternatives, a drop in average speed of 1 mile per hour on urban, pedestrian-heavy streets leads to a 6 percent decrease in traffic fatalities. That means the implementation of this legislation would save lives every year in New York City, which is home to the most pedestrian-dense streets in the nation. Last year, at least 270 people died in traffic-related incidents across the five boroughs, which was the highest number since 2008. Of those, 148 who died on city streets were pedestrians. During his testimony, White noted that every week last year, 1,262 people were injured, 58 lost a limb or suffered serious life-altering injuries, and five New Yorkers were killed in traffic crashes. Councilman Greenfield’s legislation is especially important given that a person has an 80 percent chance of surviving being hit by a car traveling 30 miles per hour, and a 98 percent chance of survival when hit by a vehicle traveling 20 miles per hour.

Unsafe driving, accidents and traffic fatalities have clearly become a huge issue in recent years so lowering the speed limit on residential roads might go a long way to help save needless injuries and deaths.

A map showing the location of every pay phone in the city. (Source: Independent Budgeting Office)

A map showing the location of every payphone in the city. (Source: Independent Budget Office) Click to enlarge

Public payphones, once a ubiquitous part of the city landscape, have become a rarer commodity in recent years, especially in Brooklyn. The New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) compiled a map and graph detailing the number of active payphones left in the city and their revenue.

Every red dot in the map at right represents the location of a working payphone in the city. While it may seem that they are still everywhere, the number of active phones are plummeting. Here is the break down from the IBO:

In January 2013 there were 11,249 working payphones in public locations citywide, a decline of almost
50 percent since 2008.

  • The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island have seen decreases of  about 60 percent.
  • The number of payphones has fallen 33 percent in Manhattan and 52 percent in Queens.

It is clear that the decline in demand for public payphones is likely because everyone owns a cellphone. Still, it is surprising that the city still reels in tens of millions of dollars from calls made by the public. According to the IBO study, the city makes over $15 million from advertising on the phones, despite the fact that since 2008 revenue from the calls placed themselves have dropped dramatically.

I was wondering, outside of you losing your cellphone and needing to make an emergency call, do any of our readers use public payphones? If so, what do you use them for?

Source: joelogon/Flickr

D LINE

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound D trains run local from 145 St to 59 St.

N LINE

All times until October 2014: No N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

R LINE

All times until October 2014: No N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Bay Ridge-bound R trains run express from 71 Av to Queens Plaza.

F LINE

From 11:15 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Queens-bound F trains run express from W 4 St to 34 St-Herald Sq.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains skip Sutphin Blvd, Van Wyck Blvd, and 75 Av.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains skip 4 Av-9 St, 15 St-Prospect Park, and Fort Hamilton Pkwy.

mm_subway_sweetspot_roman_kruglov

Sheepshead Bay Station

In a bombshell investigative report, the New York Post has learned that subway stations and platforms, even in the glitziest sections of Manhattan, are disgusting and visually unpleasing.

The stunning findings, courtesy of the rider advocacy group the Straphangers Campaign, included eyewitness testimony from New Yorkers, flabbergasted at how poorly maintained the platforms are:

Juan Perez, 48, who uses the Chambers Street J/Z station, said the platform there is one of the dingiest he has seen…

“It looks like it hasn’t been retiled since the 1920s,” he said. “It’s falling apart.”…

“It’s gritty and it’s not a good representation of our city,” said Harry Dubin, an Upper East Sider who uses the City Hall stop to visit his sister and her family at a luxury condo nearby.

“It’s rundown and a dump.”

The study noted the presence of rats, crumbling tiles, overflowing garbage bins and graffiti as major factors contributing to the negative experience expressed by New Yorkers. According to experts, the technical term for this experience is known as “reality.”

All joking aside, the numbers gathered by the Starphangers Campaign study are depressing. According to the report, 74 percent of all stations need fresh paint jobs and a whopping 82 percent of all underground platforms suffer from significant water damage.

The MTA defended the shitty quality of the stations by claiming that their focus, rightly so, is on addressing safety issues first and foremost. Still, it would be amazing to one day see the century of grime and filth, caked into and onto the station floors and walls, washed clean. Hey, I’ll stop dreaming, it’s not like New York is the greatest city in the world or anything. Why would New Yorkers ever even dream of commuting to their homes and jobs if it wasn’t a journey through abject grossness?

Source: Null Value via flickr

Source: Null Value via flickr

An unidentified police officer from the 66th Precinct shot himself in the head last night while sitting in his car on 16th Avenue near 59th Street, across the street from the stationhouse.

The Daily News reports:

The sergeant, who was assigned to the precinct and set to become a detective, stunned colleagues when he pulled the trigger at about 7:30 p.m., sources said. He fired at least one round into his head.

Police did not immediately release the cop’s name or provide an account of what transpired.

… The sergeant was about to receive his detective shield, sources said. He was transferred to the 66th Precinct from the 78th Precinct in Park Slope within the last few days, they added.

… Afterward, the car was surrounded by official vehicles and cops set up roadblocks on either side of 16th Ave.

Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.

Click to enlarge

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.