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Archive for the tag 'government'

Sunny Skies

Source: Sunny Skies

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the preliminary recipients of $340 million in pre-kindergarten funding yesterday. While none are in the Bensonhurst area, there are two in Borough Park - Mothers Love and Sunny Skies DC Corp.

Provided state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli approves the awards, Mothers Love (1681 49th Street) will land $214,287 from the state and Sunny Skies DC (4228 10th Avenue) will receive $500,000 as part of a program that is awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for 81 school districts and community-based organizations across the state.

The funding, which is included in the 2014-15 state budget, is the first installment in the governor’s commitment to invest $1.5 billion over the next five years to build a statewide universal full-day pre-kindergarten program.

The city Department of Education is slated to land nearly $300 million to build its universal pre-kindergarten program for all 4-year-olds in the city – which stems from Cuomo’s promise to pay for such a program in lieu of Mayor Bill de Blasio raising taxes to pay for it, as the mayor had originally aimed to do upon taking office.

The funds slated for private daycare operators are to fill the gap in the number of seats required to meet the need, which the Department of Education alone does not have the space for.

“Training and educating young minds is one of the smartest investments we can make as a state, as studies demonstrate that pre-kindergarten has a long lasting, positive influence on our children’s education and future success,” Cuomo said in his press release. “The state budget this year included a major investment in early education, putting New York state on the path to become just the fourth state in the nation to establish universal full day pre-K. The awards we are announcing today will enable tens of thousands of children to attend pre-K classes, and represent another step in the State’s work to prepare our students to compete in the 21st century economy.”

As part of state and city officials push for a full-day pre-kindergarten program, numerous lawmakers and educators, including Cuomo and de Blasio, stressed that studies have shown that children who participate in early education programs are more likely to read at grade level and graduate from high school than those who do not.

“We are proud to have Governor Cuomo as a strong partner in making pre-K for All a reality for the children of New York City,” de Blasio said in the same release. “This funding represents a powerful commitment by the State to build a new, stronger education foundation that will transform our schools. We are working tirelessly to make good on this opportunity to deliver new pre-K options, improve existing ones and build a high-quality system that lifts up every child.”

The full list of recipients of the $340 million is available here.

A clothing donation bin illegally placed on public property at Bay Parkway and 66th Street.

A clothing donation bin illegally placed on public property at Bay Parkway and 66th Street.

A bill to give the boot to clothing donation bins on illegally placed on public property continues to gain steam in the City Council, where it’s now set to have a public hearing on September 8.

We reported earlier this month that the bill, introduced by Councilman Vincent Gentile, had racked up the support of 20 sponsors in the Council as well as the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio. The New York Post reported yesterday that a public hearing on the bill has been added to the Council schedule.

The bill will authorize the Department of Sanitation to immediately remove clothing donation bins illegally placed on public property, including sidewalks, city-owned lots and streets. It also gives the agency the power to issue a $250 fine to first-time violators and $500 fines for repeat offenders, in addition to hauling off the offending bin.

According to the Post, complaints about the bins have been skyrocketing and the mischievous bin operators have taken advantage of the city’s leniency thus far.

The illegal containers are multiplying exponentially. In July alone, city inspectors tagged 670 bins — 11 times more than the 59 illegal bins they tagged in all of 2009. The city has marked more than 2,000 bins for removal so far this year.

… The illegal bins are installed in the dead of night, officials say. And even when sanitation inspectors quickly tag them, the bins’ owners take advantage of regulations giving them 30 days to haul them away.

They remove them on the 29th day and usually set them up around the corner.

The legislation would also create a registry of legal bins, where operators would be required to quantify the collected donations by weight.

Source: storem/Flickr

A 10-year-old girl was digging through the sand on Coney Island Monday afternoon when she uncovered a loaded handgun.

The girl and her mother were at the water’s edge near West 19th Street at approximately 2:15 p.m. on Monday when they found the .9mm pistol loaded with one bullet, according to the Daily News.

They brought it to a lifeguard who called police. The cops came, recovered the weapon and then destroyed it at the stationhouse.

The incident has local Councilman Mark Treyger reiterating his call for more Parks Enforcement Patrol officers on area beaches.

“Hearing that a child came across a loaded handgun while simply playing in the sand was shocking and concerning to say the least. I am very relieved that nobody was injured or killed as a result, and I am not willing to keep taking chances when it comes to the public’s safety in Coney Island. This must serve as a wakeup call to City Hall and the Parks Department regarding the need to provide additional Parks Enforcement Patrol officers to our community, especially given the increasing number of New Yorkers and tourists visiting Coney Island,” said Treyger, via press release.

Treyger also called for more PEP officers earlier this summer after 10-year-old Takara McDuffy drowned in Coney Island. The girl fell into the water after the beach was closed, and their were no lifeguards on duty. Treyger said PEP officers should be hired to patrol the beaches when they’re closed to ensure no one goes near the water.

The pol says that having more PEP officers on the beach would ease the burden on the 60th Precinct.

Councilman Mark Treyger

Councilman Mark Treyger

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Mark Treyger:

To help make sure that every parent has an opportunity to enroll their child in a pre-kindergarten program for this coming school year, Council Member Mark Treyger is hosting a NYC Department of Education enrollment specialist at his Bensonhurst district office (2015 Stillwell Avenue) this Monday, August 11, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The enrollment specialist will help provide parents with information needed to enroll their children in free pre-kindergarten programs in local public schools or community-based organizations for the 2014-2015 school year. In order to serve the entire community, interpreters will be available to assist parents who speak Spanish, Russian or Chinese. All New York City children who were born in 2010 and turn four years old by December 31 are eligible to enroll this year. As a former public school teacher for eight years before taking office, Council Member Treyger is urging all parents of eligible children to take advantage of this great chance to have their child enrolled in a free program right in the community.

“As a former educator, I am thrilled that our city is making these vital pre-kindergarten programs a priority for our children. This is a great opportunity to give your child a head start and a great foundation for their education. I am hosting this service to make sure that every family has the information needed to make an informed decision for their child and get them enrolled in a program for the coming school year. Anyone who hasn’t yet located a suitable program should stop by Monday’s information session for information about the different options available for local families,” said Council Member Treyger.

In addition, Council Member Treyger is publicly thanking Assembly Members Bill Colton and Alec Brook-Krasny, Senator Diane Savino and all of his colleagues in state government for passing a budget that provides funding for this critical city initiative.

For more information, please visit www.nyc.gov/prek or contact Dilyora Rahimova in Council Member Treyger’s office at (718) 307-7151.

Source: MyTudut/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of State Senator Marty Golden:

State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn) today is announcing that he has joined forces with Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens to host a back to school collection drive for local students in need.

Residents are being encouraged to donate new school supplies including notebooks, crayons, back packs, pens, pencils, crayons, rulers, highlighters, washable glue sticks, 2-pocket folders, 3 x 5 line Index cards, etc.

Senator Marty Golden stated, “As we turn the calendar on the month of August, we begin to prepare our students and families to go back to school. For some families, the need to get their kids ready to learn and participate in another school year poses a financial challenge, and so we are being asked to help out and make a donation of some essential items. This year I hope that this community will again come together to support our neighbors in need so their children can have the same opportunities this year in the classroom. I hope you will join me in making a donation.”

Those wishing to make a donation of items can drop them off on or before Friday, August 15th at either of Senator Golden’s district offices at 7408-5th Avenue or at 3604 Quentin Road. For more information, please contact the Senator Golden’s office at (718) 238-6044.

A clothing donation bin illegally placed on public property at Bay Parkway and 66th Street.

A clothing donation bin illegally placed on public property at Bay Parkway and 66th Street.

Legislation introduced by Councilman Vincent Gentile that would give the boot to illegal clothing donation bins on city property now has the backing of the mayor and several of the pol’s Council colleagues, setting it up for swift passage.

“Vinnie convened a meeting with a bunch of citywide officials and borough presidents’ offices and made his case on why this is important, and we were able to get some action on it and it’s definitely moving in the right direction,” said Gentile spokesperson Justin Brannan.

The bill has picked up 20 sponsors and the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio since it was introduced on July 24, according to the Council’s website.

The bill will authorize the Deparment of Sanitation to immediately remove clothing donation bins illegally placed on public property. It also gives the agency the power to issue a $250 fine to first-time violators and $500 fines for repeat offenders.

The bins are not only a public nuisance and an eyesore, many are scams. While there are legitimate bins placed with the permission of property owners, several for-profit companies have been posing as non-profits. They take the clothing they’ve collected and sell it to thrift shops and overseas markets.

“Not only are these bins eyesores, they deceive well-intentioned New Yorkers who believe they’re donating their used clothing to charity,” said Gentile in a press release.

The bill is not yet scheduled for a vote or hearing, but Brannan said he expects it to move quickly.

“We’re happy they’re paying attention to it now and now it will be a priority, so that’s exciting,” said Brannan. “This will be fairly fast-tracked and we’re very happy about that.”

Source: Whiskeygonebad/Flickr

The Festa di Santa Rosalia, popularly known as the 18th Avenue feast, should be a go this year – but the dates are still up in the air.

Organizers and Community Board 11 requested that the 11-day festival be pushed up by one week to avoid ending on Labor Day weekend, which would mean a quicker cleanup after the event. But despite the request for a new date, the mayor’s office scheduled it for its traditional window beginning the third Thursday of August. Making matters more difficult, the city only notified the groups of its decision late last week – approximately eight months after the request was made.

“The Street Activity Permit Office advised us they’re not changing the dates, and we’ve written a letter to the mayor outlining why we’re disappointed in this decision,” said Community Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia. “The Board put in a lot of work and effort into addressing issues [caused by the festival] and we hope he hears our voice and backs the recommendations that were made.”

The change of date was made in response to complaints in recent years about the protracted closure of 18th Avenue to vehicular traffic, as well as garbage and waste concerns in the final days of the event. The Board worked with the festival’s organizers, the Figli di Santa Rosalia Society, to end the troubles. By bumping it up to mid-August, they avoid ending on Labor Day weekend, meaning Sanitation Department workers can haul off the trash immediately after the event rather than let it stew in the street for two additional days. The earlier window also means it will be less of a traffic concern as many are still away for the summer.

Aside from the date change, the Board persuaded the group to increase the number of waste containers and to station street cleaners on every block, according to reports.

A flier that appears to be from the event organizers lists the mid-August dates, but they do not currently have permits.

A flier that appears to be from the event organizers lists the mid-August dates, but they do not currently have permits.

“[The Santa Rosalia Society] agreed to the change of the date, so there’s no issue from them and everybody was on board. Except the mayor’s office,” Elias-Pavia said, adding that it should have been a win-win for neighbors and area businesses. “There’s a lot of small mom-and-pop businesses there that would benefit from having the street open and clean so people can shop before heading back to school.”

Community Board 11 passed a resolution in support of the Santa Rosalia Society’s altered application late last year. Both the application and the Board’s note of support were sent to the mayor’s office. But the office dawdled on it for months until late last week, when they notified the Board and the organizer that the event’s date would not be changed. The mayor’s online calendar of events currently lists it as August 21 to August 31.

Organizers at the Santa Rosalia Society could not be reached for this article, but the news must have been a shock to them. Several websites currently list the date as August 14 to 24, as the organization requested. A flier that appears to be from the group says the same thing. But as of now, the Santa Rosalia Society has no permit for those dates.

The mayor’s office did not return a request for comment by deadline. We will update if we hear back from them.

It’s not the first time the group has had to wrangle with the mayor’s office, causing an uncertain future for an event that has lived on for three decades. In 2011, the mayor’s office took so long to dole out the permits that the organizers had no time to put together the event and forced them to cancel. It returned in 2012 and in 2013, when the Board and organizer began discussing alternatives, including shortening the route or the duration.

Whether the event will run August 14 to August 24, or August 21 to August 31, it runs on 18th Avenue between 68th Street and 75th Street, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. each night. It’s free and open to everybody. When the dates are finalized, Bensonhurst Bean will announce it.

Here’s the letter from Community Board 11 to Mayor de Blasio (Note: This letter erroneously notes that the recommendations passed unanimously. Elias-Pavia informs us this was an error, it passed by consensus, and an amended letter has been sent to the mayor):

Photo by Allan Rosen

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman William Colton:

Assembly Member William Colton (47th Assembly District – Brooklyn) is announcing that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has agreed to add service to the B1 bus line in southern Brooklyn.

Beginning on August 31, 2014, the B1 bus line will run on a “School-Open Schedule” only. This translates into additional buses on the line, which will help improve service by decreasing the delays, irregular service, and overcrowding.

Previously, the B1 bus service operated on two different schedules: a “School-Open Schedule” when public school was in session, and a “School-Closed Schedule” when public school was not in session. This created a problem when public school was not in session, because there would be less buses running on the B1 line. Although public school was not in session, Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach was often still open. With the large number of students at Kingsborough, when there were less buses running on the B1 line, the buses often would get full with passengers at the Kingsborough bus stop in Manhattan Beach, creating overcrowding, irregular service, and delays on the entire bus line.

With the B1 bus now only operating on a “School-Open Schedule” only, there will be more buses on the line, which will lead to more and improved service for straphangers.

In June, Assemblyman Colton sent a letter to the MTA, asking them to take action to address the problems plaguing the B1 bus line, especially the chronic bus lateness, passenger overcrowding, and irregular service.

Assemblyman Colton worked with Transport Workers Union (TWU) – Local 100 in order to increase and improve the service on the B1 bus line. The Transport Workers Union played a vital role in securing the service change which will ultimately lead to better commutes and easier, faster travels for southern Brooklyn straphangers.

While this is a major community victory for southwest Brooklyn, Colton is aiming to further improve the B1 bus line, an important public transit service in our neighborhoods.

In July, Colton sent a letter to the MTA asking them to purchase new buses for the Ulmer Park Bus Depot, which services most of southwest Brooklyn. Currently, the Ulmer Park Bus Depot has the oldest fleet of buses in the City. A newer fleet of buses for the Depot would mean less mechanical malfunctions and breakdowns, which causes delays, overcrowding, and disruptions in service for passengers. Constituents have complained that often the hydraulic lifts of these older buses malfunction or don’t operate properly. This mechanical malfunction causes a serious problem for riders, especially the elderly, young children, and those carrying heavy bags or packages, making it ever more difficult to board and exit these older buses.

Additionally, Colton also sent a letter to the NYC Department of Transportation asking for the installation of additional pedestrian islands along the B1 bus line, specifically at the bus-stops at 86th Street & 25th Avenue, 86th Street & 24th Avenue, 86th Street & 23rd Avenue, 86th Street & 21st Avenue. These pedestrian plazas will help riders of the B1 bus line board and exit the buses easier and quicker, since they lift passengers six inches off the ground and higher to the door of the bus. In addition, for riders who are senior citizens, children, disabled, or those with limited mobility, the pedestrian plazas will also make boarding and exiting the buses easier as well. In addition, the pedestrian plazas will create a safe space for riders to wait for the bus, so they don’t have to wait in the middle of the street near moving vehicles. Adding pedestrian plazas to these bus stops will create a protective barrier for riders to keep them safe from oncoming traffic.

“I will continue working to improve public transit for the neighborhoods of southwest Brooklyn. This increase in service to the B1 bus line will greatly enhance the quality of life for local residents by reducing wait and travel times, creating easier, faster commutes for straphangers,” asserted Assemblyman Bill Colton. He added, “The B1 services many important areas of our community, including the busy, comercial shopping area of 86th Street. The additional service on the B1 bus line is a win-win situation for the entire community.”

Councilman Mark Treyger, who has been working to improve public transit in southern Brooklyn, affirmed, “This is great news for the many southern Brooklyn residents who rely on the B1 bus and have been frustrated by overcrowding and constant delays. At a time when our neighborhoods are growing and the need for reliable public transportation is more apparent than ever, I will continue to work with Assemblyman Colton, our community and the MTA to increase service elsewhere as needed. Running the B1 bus permanently on a ‘School-Open Schedule’ is a great first step in our ongoing efforts to provide our neighborhoods with the public service options needed to adequately serve our residents. This is only the beginning as we push for further transit improvements across Southern Brooklyn.”

This man will not eat a still living, half deep-fried fish. Whatever happened to leadership, America? (Source: council.nyc.gov)

Councilman Vincent Gentile is gallivanting around Taiwan, a.k.a. the Republic of China, on a diplomatic exchange with Taiwanese government officials and tech entrepreneurs. He hopes to learn about the nation’s bustling high-tech sector, particularly in their waste disposal systems, and in forging connections between New York City’s tech scene. Here’s the press release from his office:

Led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Deputy Leader Vincent J. Gentile will visit Taiwan as a part of a select delegation from the New York City Council.

The unique trip was organized by the Washington, DC-based Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the United States in the absence of diplomatic ties. Gentile and the group will be abroad until Saturday.

“I am honored to represent the 43rd District and its great diversity to the people of Taiwan,” Councilman Gentile said. “I am looking forward to a very busy, working trip of great mutual benefit – and I hope some of my Mandarin Chinese lessons will pay off!”

Indeed, Gentile and the select delegation will have a packed schedule for the 6-day trip abroad including meetings with the Taipei City Council along with the Ministry of Education, the Council for Economic Planning and Development, the Bureau of International Trade and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Transportation and technology will be a particular focus of this learning excursion as the delegation will visit the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation and discuss how to strengthen ties between Taiwan and New York City’s growing technology sector.

Taipei’s approach to garbage collection has been lauded for its efficiency and the delegation plans to meet with the Environmental Protection Administration of Taiwan and will later tour the Mucha Refuse Incineration Plant.

In an email sent upon landing at Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport, Gentile said he looked forward to meeting with the leaders of Taipei’s high tech sector, exploring ways of improving civic engagement through technology, learning about Taiwain’s innovative sanitation system, and discussing ways to strengthen the already strong ties between Taiwan and New York City.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office will cover the costs of airfare, lodging, ground transportation and meals, and the trip has been approved by the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board, according to spokesperson Justin Brannan.

Gentile’s district has a sizable population of Taiwanese immigrants, as well as many immigrants from mainland China’s Fujian province, across the Taiwan Strait.

Bensonhurst Bean issued a challenge to the councilman through Brannan, requesting dispatches on the nation’s unique delicacies, including duck tongue, blood on a stick and century eggs – as well as the famous Ying Yang fish.

“That is horrible,” was the only response we received.

Bensonhurst resident Nancy Tong is on her way to winning a post as female Democratic district leader of the 47th Assembly District, making her the first Asian-American elected official in Brooklyn.

Tong is on the ballot for the September 9 primary, and she’s running unopposed. She will replacing District Leader Jeanette Givant, who is set to retire according to Sing Tao Daily (via Voices of NY).

Colton (Source: Facebook)

Tong helps constituents in her job working for Assemblyman Colton (Source: Facebook)

The district leader post is an unpaid role in the party. All formal parties in New York are required to have one male and one female district leader to represent each Assembly district. They serve as their community’s representative to their political party’s leadership, and help their party’s candidates get elected by organizing ground support.

Home Reporter writes:

Nancy Tong was nominated for the position by Assemblymember William Colton, whose office she has volunteered with and worked in as a community liaison for eight years.

… “Nancy has been helping thousands of people in this community from all over the world. Just last year, she helped 2,000 people,” Colton exclaimed. “Sometimes I wonder whether she ever lifts up her head.”

Over the years, Tong has worked on senior citizen rent issues, helped businesses respond to tickets from the Department of Sanitation, assisted homeowners with tree root problems in dealing with city agencies, volunteered for street clean-ups, and helped educate parents about the rezoning of P.S. 97.

In addition to Colton’s backing, Tong has the support of Councilman Mark Treyger who also worked in Treyger’s office before winning his City Hall seat in November.

Sing Tao adds:

Tong’s family originally came from Toy Shan, Canton province, in China. She was born in Hong Kong and grew up in New York. She had been working as a volunteer at Colton’s office since she moved to Bensonhurst 12 years ago, until five years ago when she became a part-time community liaison at the office.

Tong will be the first Asian-American elected official in a borough that is home to more than a quarter million Asians. Much of the Asian-American population, which is concentrated in areas including Bensonhurst, Sunset Park and Homecrest, are divided between various legislative districts, making it difficult for them to elect a representative that reflects their heritage.

During the redistricting process in 2012, advocates in the community fought for the creation of an Asian-American majority district. It would have united parts of Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Sunset Park into one district in the state legislature. That push was unsuccessful, and no Asian-American has represented Brooklyn in city, state or federal legislatures.

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