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Archive for the tag 'government'

munimeters

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

In response to reported incidents involving suspected identity theft at Muni Meters in Brooklyn earlier this year and to better protect the public moving forward, Council Member Mark Treyger introduced legislation today requiring the Department of Transportation to notify cardholders in writing following incidents of security breaches. Under the proposal, the DOT must provide written notification to all affected individuals within ten days after a Muni Meter machine has been compromised and credit or debit card information has been stolen from the system. In addition, the DOT would also be required to post information about the breach on its website.

“Having your identity or personal banking information stolen can lead to costly unauthorized charges, headaches and serious financial issues for victims, and it is clear this problem is on the rise in New York City. I have long been concerned with the lack of urgency on behalf of agencies like the DOT and MTA, and with their failure to take proactive steps to protect the public and inform customers when an incident does occur. The public has a right to know when a machine has been compromised, and the DOT has an obligation to better inform residents that their information might have been stolen,” said Council Member Treyger.

Council Member Treyger has been pushing for greater public notification of breaches and other security concerns by the DOT and other agencies including the MTA since before taking office in January. He publicly called on the MTA and DOT in April to take greater precautions to protect the public and better secure its vending machines after reported instances of card skimming devices and hidden cameras found at stations including 59th Street Columbus Circle. In addition, the NYPD reported in June that Muni Meters along Kings Highway in Brooklyn were targeted by criminals. At that time, the 61st Precinct investigated at least three incidents of people reporting that their credit cards were compromised after using local Muni Meters.

The legislation was introduced at today’s City Council Stated meeting and referred to the Committee on Transportation for review and hearings.

Primary Day is upon us, so we’ve compiled some information to make voting as easy as possible.

  • Polls are open from 6am to 9pm. You can find where you should vote, as well as see a sample ballot, here. For example, neighbors living on 86th Street near Stillwell Avenue are going to see a ballot that looks like this.
  • If you need further help locating your polling place, you can call the city’s voter phone bank at 866-VOTE-NYC.
  • The city Campaign Finance Board also has a good resource page, detailing how and where to vote, who your candidates are, district maps and more.
  • The city Board of Elections has said that polling places should be accessible to handicapped voters, but if you find barriers to voting, you can call the Brooklyn Board of Elections at (718) 797-8800.
  • Additionally, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office will operate a statewide election day hotline, at which you can speak with attorneys about problems at the polls, which will be open until the polls close at 9pm. Schneiderman is encouraging voters to report issues or problems at polls by calling (800) 771-7755 or emailing civil.rights@ag.ny.gov at any time until 9pm.

And, of course, if you encounter problems at the polls, you can let us know in the comments below or by emailing nberke@bensonhurstbean.com.

Every Democrat in New York State has the opportunity to vote in today’s primary, in which Governor Andrew Cuomo is being challenged for the party’s nod on the left by both Zephyr Teachout and Randy Credico. Cuomo is expected to win by a wide margin, but the race is being seen as a measure of dissatisfaction against the incumbent. Teachout, a Fordham professor who lives in Fort Greene, has been embraced by the city’s progressives for criticizing Cuomo as a lackluster economic moderate who has failed to come through on a promise to clean up Albany. The third candidate, Credico, who is also running on the Green line, is prioritizing reforms in the criminal justice system primarily by legalizing marijuana and releasing non-violent offenders.

There is also a Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, where Cuomo’s handpicked choice Kathy Hochul is being challenged by Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu. Hochul, an upstate moderate and former Congressional representative, has been on the ropes for most of the campaign, defending her liberal record to progressives. Both Wu and Teachout have used her as a prop to suggest Cuomo is more conservative than he lets on. Wu’s priorities are fighting corruption and dismantling corporate monopolies, while Hochul is focusing on the NY DREAM Act and the Women’s Equality Act.

For more on these candidates, check out the League of Women Voters’ Vote411.org project and WNYC’s Election Guide, both of which include questionnaires and profiles of each.

For an insider’s view of primary day, check out the guides from the New York Observer and Capital NY.

– Additional reporting by Ned Berke.

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Photo by Elle Spektor

Community Board 11 with hold its first general meeting since it went on summer vacation, taking place Thursday, September 4, at 7:30 p.m., at Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare (1740 84th Street).

The Board serves as a local conduit to the government of New York City, representing neighbors’ needs and concerns. If you have a problem with a city agency or quality of life issue, the Board exists to relay your concerns and spur action.

There will be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss various committee reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

For more information, call (718) 266-8800.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Mark Treyger and Assemblyman Bill Colton:

Council Member Mark Treyger and Assembly Member Bill Colton are calling on the MTA to provide public notification within 24 hours of cases of confirmed bedbug sightings on any trains, buses or in stations. The proposal comes after a number of incidents involving bedbugs on several trains along the N line, in addition to trains on the Q and 6 lines. On Monday, an N train was taken out of service at DeKalb Avenue and a conductor received medical attention as a result of bedbugs. Currently, the MTA does not have a formal policy for informing the public about these incidents.

In response, Treyger and Colton are proposing state legislation, supported by a City Council resolution, requiring the MTA to take the same steps to inform its customers as it does for other emergencies or service delays, including social media outreach. In addition, the MTA would have to detail the steps it is taking to remedy these situations and protect the public’s health while using public transportation. This proposal has support from the Transport Workers Union (TWU), whose members have been impacted by the outbreaks. Council Member Treyger and Assembly Member Colton were joined at today’s press conference in front of the N train station on Kings Highway by District Leader-elect Nancy Tong and a number of residents who regularly use this line and are concerned about the lack of information from the MTA about the recent outbreaks. Council Member Treyger and Colton now plan to move forward with this legislation, putting a formal procedure in place to respond to outbreaks and notify the public.

“This is an important issue that the MTA has to take much more seriously on behalf of the millions of New Yorkers that ride its buses and trains, as well as its employees. The MTA has an obligation to inform the public of any bedbug sightings or outbreaks due to the health implications that are involved. However, the MTA must also consider the economic consequences of bedbug infestations in a home, especially for working New Yorkers who cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars in fumigation or cleaning bills. The MTA can easily inform the public in much the same manner it does for service delays, and we deserve to know exactly what steps it is taking to respond to bedbug infestations,” said Council Member Treyger.

”The public has a right to know if there is a confirmed detection of bedbugs on trains or buses. The families of riders and transit workers must be given the opportunity to take protective measures to minimize the chance of bedbug infestation being transported to their homes and places of work,” said Assembly Member Colton.

“Families are rightfully worried about the disruption and large economic costs that bedbugs can cause, if carried into their homes. Families have a right to be informed as to how to protect themselves from this risk,” said District Leader-elect Tong.

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I finally made it over to 18th Avenue for the Festa di Santa Rosalia and my plan was to eat a bit of everything and report back to you on the best. Unfortunately, it was far more food than I could handle and I was forced to tap out after just three full dishes and a beverage. But some things looked too good not to share, and I hope to get back before the event ends on Sunday for some more grub. Until then, enjoy this roundup of some of the festival’s delectable options, and share your favorites in the comments.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t kick this list off with one of the most traditional options on the menu, panelle. These Sicilian fritters are made of ground up chickpea flour, deep fried and slapped on a chewy sesame roll. It’s a popular street food in Palermo, and given that the 10-day festival is here to celebrate the patron saint of Palermo, it should be the first thing you should dig into to do proper honor to the Italian sister city and Santa Rosalia.

It seemed to only be available at one stand – Pete’s Zeppoles, at the corner of 71st Street. It runs $5. I gave mine a proper dousing of fresh lemon juice and dug in. As good as the panelle was – and it was my first time having it – I was struck by the freshness of the perfect little roll that held it together. And I also have to give props to Giovanni di Napoli, whose blog post brought its existence to my attention.

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While panelle might be a feast tradition for Sicilians, sausage and peppers are the staple of any New York City street fair. So I hit up Lucy’s stand to get mine. The sausage – hot or sweet – runs $7. The roll was a little tough until the sausage delicious grease softened it up for me, and then it went down my gullet in mere seconds. The onions are worth a mention: I could’ve eaten a plate of these alone, simmered to perfection in the sausage’s runoff.

It looked like Lucy’s had a number of traditional Sicilian items as well, including stagghiola (roasted intestines) and the beautiful grilled octopus at the top of this post. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try any; the stand’s surly counter-girl (possibly Lucy?) was in too much of a rush to help the next customer – even though there wasn’t any.

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A Neopolitan pizzaiola apparently took a wrong turn and ended up at the Sicilian feast, but I’m glad he did. This little cart makes fresh baked personal pies while you wait. Mine took about three minutes as he stretched the dough, spread the sauce, placed the fresh mozzarella and a sprig of basil and baked it in the wood-fueled oven.

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It came out looking like this. For $8, it was a great deal compared to the cost of some of the other items at the festival, and had a nice charred taste.

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With a long bike ride home and a belly full of fried, greasy things, I had to tap out after the pizza. But these arancini – rice balls – looked great. And the guys behind the counter were having a ball screaming out “I got balls!”, the name of the business.

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Aside from Italian fare, there were a number of Colombian stands hawking arepas, empenadas and chicharron. These guys are at every fair and were a little out of the festival’s theme, so I didn’t have any – but those turkey legs (which I haven’t seen at these stands before) looked fantastic.

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I know, I know. I went to a festival and didn’t get a single zeppole or fried Oreo. Honestly? I don’t regret that. But I do regret not stopping for the candied marshmallows. It wasn’t just a beautiful display – the stand smelled fantastic and I might return just to correct my mistake in not getting them the first time.

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As for beverages? Real men drink pink.

Did I miss something that’s an absolute must-try at the festival? Let me know in the comments so I can grab a bite before the event’s end.

The feast continues until August 31. It runs from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends, stretching down 18th Avenue from 67th Street to 75th Street.

Source: istorija/Flickr

Councilman Mark Treyger kicks off a food drive today at his two district offices, as part of a citywide initiative honoring Mother Teresa’s 104th birthday.

Items can be dropped off between now and Friday at 2015 Stillwell Avenue or 445 Neptune Avenue during regular office hours. According to his office, the greatest need is for canned vegetables, tomato sauce, soups, canned and dried fruit, peanut butter, canned meat and stews, rice, pasta, cereal and baby food.

New York City is in the midst of a food crisis at pantries serving the homeless and needy, including at local pantries. Treyger is hoping to fill that gap locally by sending the donations to the Gravesend Houses Tenants’ Association in Coney Island – home of the city’s poorest census tract. Other Council members are organizing food drives to benefit organizations in their community.

For more information about donating, contact Inna Lukyanenko at (718) 373-9673.

Source: Wikimedia Common

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be avoiding Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods that supported his electoral rival, Joe Lhota, including Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst, according to a report in the New York Observer.

The outlet reports that de Blasio has held press conferences in neighborhoods where he performed well in November’s elections, but has failed to appear at all in the more conservative enclaves of Southern Brooklyn.

Mr. de Blasio, a Brooklynite, held press conferences in Democratic strongholds like Williamsburg, Bushwick, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York over the first seven and a half months of his administration. But along the southern swath of Brooklyn–in neighborhoods including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Boro Park, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Mill Basin and Bergen Beach–Mr. de Blasio has not scheduled a public appearance since becoming mayor in January.

Mr. Lhota bested Mr. de Blasio in those southern Brooklyn neighborhoods, in some election districts winning as much as 80 percent of the vote. Citywide, Mr. Lhota was crushed, winning only 24 percent of the vote to Mr. de Blasio’s 73 percent.

Prior to the elections, de Blasio sightings were fairly common in areas like Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach. After votes were cast overwhelmingly in favor of Lhota in those neighborhoods, he hasn’t been heard from. The Observer reports that some in the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst neighborhoods are complaining of the same.

Public appearances are one measure of the mayor’s responsiveness to a community. Another could be the dispatching of high-ranking officials to those neighborhoods, and on that there appears to be mixed results. The Department of Transportation commissioner and Build it Back head have both engaged Southern Brooklyn communities and appeared responsive.

At the same time, the mayor’s office gave a last-minute denial to the Santa Rosalia Society’s request for a date change of the 18th Avenue Feast. The request was made to address community concerns about garbage pickup after the event, but the mayor’s office offered no explanation for the denial despite multiple requests.

Source: Whiskeygonebad/Flickr

Enough of the hand-wringing: the Festa di Santa Rosalia is here!

Affectionately known as the 18th Avenue Feast, the 10-day event kicks off today at 5:00 p.m. It begins with a procession at 18th Avenue and 72nd Street, following mass at Santa Rosalia Church (6301 14th Avenue).

The 10-day festival, now in its 37th year, packs 18th Avenue from 67th Street to 75th Street with food, music, vendors and amusement. On weekdays, it runs from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Weekends get an earlier start, running from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

The event honors the patron saint of Palermo, Sicily, where their own Festa has been celebrated continuously since 1624. Organizers of the Bensonhurst event say it’s the larges Italian-American festival in Brooklyn.

For the first time in its nearly four decade history, the 18th Avenue Feast organizers sought a change in date. Always kicking off on the third Thursday in August, organizers hoped to bump it up one week to help address neighbors’ concerns about trash. The mayor’s office, however, issued a last minute denial to their application, forcing organizers to keep to their traditional date.

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.

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