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Archive for the tag 'government'

grimm

The trial of Congressman Michael Grimm, facing tax fraud allegations and other charges, has been postponed until February 2. At a hearing on the postponement, prosecutors hinted that some of the charges could be split from the indictment and prosecuted in a separate trial.

During a hearing on Tuesday, Grimm’s defense landed a minor victory, winning the postponement from an early December date until February 2 so that they can review materials. Prosecutors turned over approximately 100 hours of recorded conversations, including 10 hours conducted in a foreign language. The defense team said they’d need extra time to review them because, “I’d be sitting at my desk for two full working weeks,” said defense lawyer Jeffrey Neiman, according to the Staten Island Advance.

The judge also denied Grimm’s legal team’s request earlier this month for information from the prosecution that they thought would prove the investigation was the result of a political witch hunt and professional vendettas. That included knowing the involvement of particular FBI investigators and the role played by a prosecutor now running as a Democratic candidate for State Assembly.

The judge found the claims without merit, calling it “unsupported and random speculation.” The New York Times reports:

Prosecutors pointed out that there were 10 other cases involving cash payrolls to avoid taxes from 2012 to 2014, making it hard for Mr. Grimm to argue that he alone was selected. Mr. Kaminsky, they said, never acted with improper motive and was only one of several prosecutors involved in the investigation. As for the idea that the office chose Mr. Grimm for his politics, the other elected officials the office prosecuted in the last four years were Democrats, prosecutors said.

The judge is still mulling a motion to dismiss three perjury-related charges on the basis of jurisdictional issues. Because it pertained to his Manhattan-based restaurant, the defense argues that charges should have been filed in the Southern District of New York, not the Eastern District, which is where he’s being prosecuted.

The Advance notes:

Prosecutors conceded the jurisdictional issue, but Judge Pamela Chen stopped short of dismissing those three counts without prejudice Tuesday, as Grimm’s defense team is still seeking to dismiss the entire case, perjury charges and all, arguing “selective and vindictive prosecution.”

“In effect, the venue motion is really a separation motion of the perjury and obstruction counts, effectively resulting in two trials for the price of one,” Gatta said. “We’re happy to oblige the defendant if he wants two trials.”

Source: Senator Golden's offices

Source: Senator Golden’s offices

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

State Senator Martin J. Golden, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, today is announcing that he has introduced legislation that will allow the email of a person who has passed away to be accessed by the executor of their estate.

The bill, S. 6176, has been introduced in the wake of growing concerns as more and more New Yorkers decide to handle their bills and finances electronically. As a result, individuals designated to settle an estate upon a person’s passing, require the information contained in new e-mail messages, and documents stored in email folders.

Senator Marty Golden stated, “As we continue to encourage people to go green and pay their bills on line, we must be cognizant of the fact that when a person passes away, many of their records are stored and managed through their email account. I look forward to working with my colleagues to create this important law in New York State. I believe this will assist in the difficult work of getting an estate’s affairs in order for we all realize that the despite one’s passing, e-mails of bills and statements do continue.”

Ten states already have similar laws including Delaware, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Connecticut. Nine states are working towards creating such a law in their states including New York and New Jersey.

Community Board 11's offices at 2214 Bath Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

Community Board 11’s offices at 2214 Bath Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

A concerned neighbor alerted Community Board 11 to a string of car break-ins and vandalism along Cropsey Avenue during the group’s October 7 meeting.

A man who introduced himself as Theodore said the incidents have stretched along the commercial corridor from Bay 16th Street to Bay 20th Street, requesting that the Board urge the 62nd Precinct to ramp up patrols in that area.

Reps from the precinct were in attendance and noted the break-ins, and also responded to other concerns. One included a woman’s frustration that soccer practices at the New Utrecht High School fields were causing parking problems and unfair enforcement.  The woman stated that parking is impossible in the most evenings between 7pm and 9pm. The resident said she received a ticket from a police officer for parking “right across” from her home when there were a handful of cars illegally and double parked  on the same street.

Also at the meeting, a representative from Councilman David Greenfield’s office reminded residents that the speed limit has been lowered in most areas from 30 to 25 miles per hour in order to reduce traffic fatalities. Some drivers, unaware of the change, have been getting caught in speed traps on Ocean Parkway because no official announcement has been made yet, the rep said.

Board members were excited to discuss upcoming plans once they began their portion of announcements. It was noted that Community Board 11 has been selected for a Planning Fellowship Program that will focus on Urban Planning. Steven Maples, a second year master’s student at Hunter College, will be aiding the community board in planning regarding illegal curb cuts and front yard parking pads.

Also, regarding budget consultations; the board mentioned some changes they would like to see from the Parks Department—trees being installed in front of curb cuts. There was a motion for a resolution to be submitted.

The board also took notice of complaints surrounding trash at the Waldbaum’s parking lot. Since the establishment is private property, the Department of Sanitation cannot be held responsible. Therefore, the board hopes to ensure close monitoring of the establishment to promote up-keep of the lot.

– Anna Spivak

Today, Friday, October 10, is the last day to register to vote in the November 4 general election. Here’s what you need to know:

• If you’d like to print off and mail your registration, the form can be found here in English and here in Spanish. Forms must be postmarked no later than October 10 and received by a board of elections no later than October 15 to be eligible to vote in the general election.

• You can also register in person at our Kings County Board of Election office, but this also must be done by October 10. That said, if you have been honorably discharged from the military or have become a naturalized citizen since October 10, you may register in person at the board of elections up until October 24.

• You can register via the DMV online if you have a NY state-issued ID, though you have to set up an account.

• Not sure if you’re registered? Check on your current voter registration here.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

By Bailey Wolff

The Bay Ridge Real Estate Board hosted a “Meet the Candidates Event” Wednesday night at the Dyker Heights Golf Course. Present at the forum was four-term incumbent of the 46th District, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, and his opponent, first time political hopeful, Stamatis Lilikakis.

Vice President of the Bay Ridge Real Estate Board Aldo Iemma and his wife Deborah organized the forum in order to establish communication between members of the community and elected officials who represent them in government.

“We want to educate, and encourage connections so that everyone is involved with the political process,” said Deborah Iemma.

Stamatis Lilikakis was the first of the two candidates to speak. He discussed the need to lower taxes to stop the “exodus” of businesses from New York State.

“I actually know what most people in this room feel,” said Lilikakis. “And I’m running for office because I’ve had enough of being a blank check for Albany and for our federal government … my goal is to try and lessen some of that burden.”

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

Running as a Republican-Conservative, Lilikakis said that he has united “different factions” in his party, and if elected, wants to create more opportunities for business and education in the district.

He also spoke about illegal conversions—the process of turning singe-family homes into multi-family, non-permitted housing units. “They’re illegal. They shouldn’t be here. There should be a task force, by the police department and fire department to go in and stop these things.”

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny took the floor after Lilikakis and defined the 46th voting district as “very diverse.”

“From very liberal Coney Island to the more conservative part in Dyker Heights … you have people speaking more than 50 different languages with many different political opinions.” Because of these reasons, Krasny stated, the district needs a “balance minded politician” to represent every member of the district.

“One of the first priorities of every government,” said the assemblyman, “should be supporting the economy and increasing the number of jobs in his district.” He pointed to low state income taxes and universal Pre-K as two of his achievements, but also quoted the statistic that 70 percent of his constituents rely on government funding “in one form or another.” For this reason, he said, “I have to be very careful when cutting taxes.”

When a member of the audience asked Krasny about government funds to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, he quoted recently announced numbers of $25 million to build jetties and $2.9 million for a seawall to protect his district’s waterfront.

“Some services, some departments, some programs—like Build it Back—they didn’t do the right job,” the assemblyman said. “I know as a private citizen what is going on with Build it Back. It’s terrible. But it’s getting better.”

These two opponents will debate at 7:30pm on October 14, at St. Phillip’s Church in Dyker Heights. The church is located on 80th Street and 11th Avenue. The General Elections will be held November 4, 2014.

25 mph speed limit

The New York City Council yesterday passed legislation that reduces the citywide speed limit on residential streets from 30 miles per hour to 25 mph, a move that lawmakers and advocates said would, if properly enforced, dramatically reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

After state legislators voted in June to allow the city to lower the speed limit, the Council approved the bill, sponsored by Councilman David Greenfield, that aims to slow vehicles on streets where speed limits are not posted – meaning roads overseen by the state Department of Transportation (such as expressways and parkways) will not be affected. The reduction is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to dramatically curb traffic injuries and deaths over the next decade.

“Reducing the default speed limit in New York City is the lynchpin of Vision Zero,” Greenfield said in a statement to the press.

City officials said they plan to launch a three week publicity campaign about the speed reduction on Monday, according to the New York Times, and the new speed limit will go into effect on November 7.

The nonprofit Transportation Alternatives also backed the Council’s move, saying “if properly enforced, the new speed limit could prevent more than 6,500 traffic injuries in the next year and cut the annual number of pedestrian fatalities in half.”

The group urged de Blasio to quickly give his stamp of approval to the bill – which the mayor is expected to do and sent out his own statement praising the Council’s vote – and stressed that the NYPD and city Department of Transportation need “to send a stronger message about the dangers of speeding by continuing to improve traffic enforcement and public information initiatives.”

“Unsafe driver speed is the number one cause of traffic deaths in the city, killing more New Yorkers than drunk driving and cell phone use at the wheel combined,” Transportation Alternatives said in the same statement. “A pedestrian hit by a driver going 25 mph is twice as likely to survive as a person hit at 30mph.”

While Councilman Jumaane Williams, who represents portions of Midwood as well as Flatbush and Ditmas Park, was in Cleveland for the vote, he said in a statement Tuesday he would have voted against it.

“I fully support the need to reform traffic laws in New York City, and the majority of proposals offered in ‘Vision Zero,'” Williams said. “When the issue of the citywide reduction previously came before the Council, I voted to give the City discretion on lowering the speed limit, since I believed the City deserved to make this decision. At the same time, I believe that this legislation is too broad in the form passed today and I would have voted against it.”

“Instead of an overall speed limit reduction, the better approach is to study the City’s various neighborhoods and major arteries and assess, with specificity, where a lower speed limit makes the most practical sense,” Williams continued. “For example, it makes sense to carve out school zones as necessary places to have a lower speed limit, as many young people populate these areas. Many side streets and other ‘Slow Zones’ in my district would also benefit from a lower limit. In fact, I would vehemently support lowering the speed limit on many residential streets in my district – with some areas even lower than 25 mph.

Williams goes on to say that he will “continue to support increased enforcement, through speed cameras and stepped-up enforcement of current traffic rules and regulations, and have consistently done so.”

Another local member of the Council, Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and Gravesend, voted in favor of the bill, but expressed concerns about enforcement.

“There’s little dispute that there has been a serious number of traffic-related fatalities and there’s no dispute that speed kills,” said Treyger. “The issue that I continue to raise is the issue of enforcement … and making sure it does not become a mechanism for increased revenue, like for these cameras where some of them are problematic. I think it should be for the true intention – to save lives.”

Treyger pointed to the controversial placement of a speed camera on Shore Parkway next to a Belt Parkway exit ramp, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites, as an example of “gotcha” enforcement to be avoided.

“To me, ['gotcha' enforcement] undermines the entire program [of Vision Zero]. The intention should not be to harm working families who are just trying to get home,” he said.

Another area pol praised the legislation as potentially life-saving.

“Lowering the speed limit can drastically reduce a serious fatality. My district has a high population of seniors and reducing the speed limit could mean the difference between life and death.  No one should ever have to experience the loss of a loved one to a traffic accident,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

To see a copy of the bill, you can go here.

Photo via Governor Andrew Cuomo.

With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

grimm

When news broke in 2012 that Congressman Michael Grimm was the target of a federal investigation, the pol said it was a liberal media conspiracy. Now the pol’s defense team is depicting it as a political witch hunt led by a prosecutor with electoral aspirations, and aided by former FBI colleagues settling a score.

Grimm pleaded not guilty to a 20-count indictment that alleges, among other things, tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices connected to a restaurant he owned before running for office. The trial is set to begin in December, but the pol’s legal team sent a pair of letters earlier this month that appear to suggest the direction their defense will take – not one that clears his name of tax fraud, but one that says he was only caught because the prosecution sought to take down a Republican.

Staten Island Advance reports:

In a letter dated Oct. 1, Grimm’s lawyers, Jeffrey A. Neiman and Daniel Rashbaum, fired off a list of 14 questions to federal prosecutors, many asking about the role of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Kaminsky in the investigation into the congressman.

Kaminsky, a Democrat, left the U.S. attorney’s office after the tax evasion indictment was announced to run for state Assembly.

“What role did former Assistant United States Attorney Todd Kaminsky have in the investigation of Mr. Grimm?” one question asks.

“When did Mr. Kaminsky first notify the United States Attorney’s Office of his intention to seek political office, informally or formally?” asks another.

… Grimm’s team also asked what role FBI Supervisory Special Agent Anthony Bivona and Assitant Special Agent in Charge Mary Gallingan played in the investigation, as well as many other indictments the U.S. Attorney’s office has sought in the past five years regarding restaurants paying employees in cash, under-reporting cash sales to the Internal Rvenue Service, or “hiring illegal aliens as employees.”

Neiman and Rashbaum wrote a second letter on Oct. 1, asking for documents, notes, copies of inconsistent statements, and criminal or psychiatric histories of witnesses in the case.

In a response dated October 2, Lynch’s office said they would provide relevant info prior to trial as required by law. But her office bristled at the 14 questions, saying they were neither pertinent, nor legally required.

“It should be noted, however, that the 14 questions about the investigation and other cases seek information that is irrelevant to the charges of this case…. The government therefore respectfully declines to provide the information sought in these 14 requests,” Lynch writes.

The Daily News has a little more about the request for information regarding the special agents:

Team Grimm appears poised to take on supervisory FBI Special Agents Anthony Bivona and Mary Galligan. Sources said Bivona had a falling-out with Grimm and Galligan led an internal probe of Grimm before he left the bureau.

SILive.com has full copies of the letters.

cb11

Photo by Elle Spektor

Community Board 11 will hold its next meeting tomorrow, October 7 at 7:30 pm at the 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 additional information, call (718) 266-8800.

Colton (Source: Facebook)

Colton (Source: Facebook)

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

Assembly Member William Colton (47th Assembly District – Brooklyn) has called on the New York City Department of Transportation to resume installation of street signs to remind pet owners to clean up after their dogs.

Colton’s office has been contacted by a large number of constituents about dog owners who are not picking up after their dogs. This is one of the biggest complaints the Assembly Member receive from constituents.

A number of years ago, the NYC Department of Transportation had street signs installed warning them to pick up after their dog and that if they did not, they could receive a fine from the City. This policy was discontinued a few years ago, likely due to budget cuts.

This week, Colton sent a letter to the Department of Transportation calling on them to resume putting up these warning signs telling dog owners to clean up after their pets in order to greatly improve the quality of life for New York City residents. Dog owners, who do not pick up after their pets, cause serious health and sanitation issues. These issues seriously hinder the quality of life for the people of the City. For example, children often play on the streets and sidewalks throughout our City, and they are exposed to the dog feces not cleaned up by pet owners. Also, the cleanliness of our neighborhoods is decreased by negligent pet owners who do not pick up after their dogs.

In the letter, Colton asked the Department of Transportation to work in conjunction with the Department of Sanitation to install these street signs to remind pet owners to be responsible and pick up after their dogs, and to warn them that if they fail to follow this law, they will be penalized for their negligent actions.

Colton asserted, “It’s important that we protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods. It’s irresponsible and negligent for dog owners to not pick up after their pets, because of the serious health and sanitation problems that arise from not cleaning up after your dog. The streets signs the City used to install help reminded people that they have a legal responsibility to clean up after their dogs. The Department of Transportation needs to continue installing these street signs to not only remind pet owners of their responsibility, but to also remind them that failure to comply with the law can lead to a fine from the City.”

savino-1

State Senator Diane Savino fumed on Facebook about cyclists, telling her followers that she drives through her district shouting at the two-wheeled menaces to “find a fucking bike lane and get in it.”

The comment from the pol, who represents Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Coney Island and Bath Beach in addition to Staten Island’s north shore, was in response to a labor lobbyist’s post blasting cycling “apologists” following the Central Park collision that left a pedestrian dead. Another follower suggested requiring bike registration and licensing, to which the pol also said she was “intrigued.”

bikelane-savino

The Daily News reports:

Savino said her comments were meant as a joke but she continued to express frustration with bicyclists who don’t obey traffic laws.

“Unfortunately, those who don’t follow the rules of the road create problems as we saw with that terrible tragedy in Central Park,” Savino said.

“Minimally, there’s got to be greater enforcement,” she continued. “And bikers have to take responsibility for what’s happening. They’re moving sometimes at 40 miles an hour. We just went through the whole process of reducing the city speed limit to 25 miles an hour, unless it is otherwise posted. That should apply to bikes as well. We are all in this together.”

The pol also said she had no plans to introduce new bike safety legislation when she returns to Albany.

DNAinfo went to the author of the blog post that sparked the Facebook discussion:

Eben Weiss, who writes the blog, Bike Snob NYC, drew attention to Savino’s comments on Twitter and on his site on Thursday.

“A state senator bragging on Facebook about engaging in acts of road rage is inappropriate, alarming and representative of a disregard for public safety,” Weiss told DNAinfo New York.

“It’s an insult to her constituents. It’s also totally ironic because the conversational thread that inspired her comment is based on a total misreading of comments I made in which I excoriated reckless bicycling.”

savino-district

Savino’s district

It appears cyclists in her district are taking notice. Streetsblog notes that Brooklyn Spoke author Doug Gordon, a constituent of Savino’s, sent an open invitation for the elected official to ride with him and his two children and see what life is like from the saddle.

I ride my children to school almost every day and then head to work. We bike to swim lessons, gymnastics, birthday parties, parks, and to the grocery store. With or without my children, I have been harassed many times by drivers who think New York City’s streets belong solely to them. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – riding in a bike lane or legally exiting a bike lane to make a turn or avoid an obstruction such as a parked car – there is truly nothing I can do to stop an angry driver who simply doesn’t like bicycles from getting upset with me.

I ask you to kindly join me and my children, along with any other families who would like to come, on a short bike ride. It might be helpful for you to experience what it feels like to bike on New York City streets.

Savino, who lives in Staten Island, is already well-known for her outspoken Facebook posts. In February, for Valentine’s Day, she reminder her colleagues to stop taking photos of their genitals because “no one wants to see your penis pop up in a text message.” She also railed against supporters of indicted Congressman Michael Grimm, who claimed he’s the victim of a conspiracy.

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