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Archive for the tag 'lew fidler'

Source: SuperFantastic via Flickr

A new law raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old has been kicking around the City Council for more than three years, but most New York City residents didn’t hear about it until yesterday, when the legislative body gave its seal of approval.

If Mayor Michael Bloomberg signs the bill, as he’s expected to do, smokers younger than 21 years old will be banned from purchasing tobacco products in New York City. It’s among the highest age limits in the nation.

The bill passed 35-10, and includes e-cigarettes.

When the new law takes effect, shops found selling to people under age will face a $1,000 fine. On second offense, fines go up to $2,000, and the store may have its license revoked if additional offenses are committed within a three-year period.

Of the 10 Council members opposed to the new law, all were representatives from boroughs outside of Manhattan, and five were from Brooklyn.

With the exception of Charles Barron, who represents East New York, all of the Brooklyn opponents hailed from Southern Brooklyn.

Here’s how they voted:

  • Vincent Gentile (Bay Ridge – Bensonhurst): Against
  • David Greenfield (Bensonhurst – Borough Park): For
  • Jumaane Williams (Midwood – Flatbush): Against
  • Lew Fidler (Marine Park – Canarsie): Absent
  • Domenic Recchia (Coney Island – Gravesend): Against
  • Michael Nelson (Sheepshead Bay – Brighton Beach): Against

Although Fidler was absent for health reasons, we believe he would have voted against the age increase. Fidler previously opposed expanding the smoking ban to beaches and parks, as well as banning flavored tobacco products.

That means David Greenfield is the only Southern Brooklyn Council member to support the bill, and had Fidler voted (the way we think he would have), more than half the opposition would have hailed from our end of the borough.

Do Southern Brooklyn residents love smoking more than the rest of New York City? You tell us.

Ken Thompson announcing his campaign; inset: David Greenfield

Ken Thompson announcing his campaign; inset: David Greenfield

What’s more important in an election than good ideas, strong qualifications and an unyielding dedication to the public good?

In Brooklyn politics, the answer is party loyalty and backroom deals. And nothing has made that clearer than the current race for Brooklyn District Attorney.

Exhibit A? Yesterday, Councilman David Greenfield swapped sides in the race, endorsing Democratic nominee Ken Thompson.

Greenfield had previously endorsed incumbent Charles Hynes in the Democratic primary, and spoke forcefully against Thompson in a campaign of fear, telling constituents that Thompson would “target the Orthodox Jewish community” if elected.

So what’s changed? Oh, just the political parties. After suffering defeat in the Democratic primary to Thompson, Hynes regrouped and is running on the Republican and Conservative tickets.

And now, in the general election, the field remains the same. The same two men, the same records, the same qualifications, the same ideas.

It’s the same race.

But while Southern Brooklyn legislators by-and-large backed Hynes in the primary, touting his record, experience and judgement, they’re now forced to eat crow. Thomspon beat their man and sits on their party line.

So do they show conviction and stick with the man they previously said had better ideas and a stronger record?

Nope, they jump ship and rally around their party.

Greenfield’s not the only one. He’s just the latest in a long list of Democratic elected officials bending over backwards to not sound ludicrous.

Some other examples? Councilmembers Vincent Gentile and Lew Fidler, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny and Democratic county boss Frank Seddio. In fact, the only Southern Brooklyn Democratic legislator we know of who continues to back Hynes post-primary is Councilman Michael Nelson.

He’s term-limited out. And I suppose he’s not looking for a job with the party come 2014.

Greenfield, meanwhile, said the change of heart came after sitting down with Thompson and getting to know him personally.

“I will tell you that I actually have had the opportunity on several occasions now to get to know Ken Thompson,” Greenfield said at a press conference yesterday, according to Politicker. “Consistently, across the board, the feedback that I’ve gotten has been incredibly positive and I, myself, have been impressed. Ken is somebody who has a stellar background as a law enforcement official.”

Of course, Thomspon had a “stellar background” before the primary, too. But it seems Greenfield didn’t do his due diligence before the primary endorsement. Instead he saw opportunity to undermine his rival, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and score points with the county party.

And this is the way endorsements work. It’s rarely about who’s the best qualified to serve the community, but who’s in the best position to benefit the endorser. Today, that’s Ken Thompson.

To the candidates reading this: this is why I ignore your endless pleas to cover your endorsements. Call me when it means something.


The borough of Brooklyn has a serious bridge problem, as 240 of them, which is more than half, need serious repairs, according to a new report. The New York Daily News is reporting that some of the worst bridges in the borough include the seven bridges along the Belt Parkway that are in the process of rehabilitation.

Of the 240 Brooklyn bridges cited for serious repair, 15 were designated as “fracture critical” and “structurally deficient” by the Federal Highway Administration. Bridge expert Barry LePartner told the Daily News that analysis such as this spells bad news.

“Every time you see a bridge classified as structurally deficient and fracture critical it means that bridge could fall at a moment’s notice,” LePartner said, ““It’s extremely dangerous for people going over these bridges.”

The Daily News reported that in the time of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reign as mayor, the federal government has given New York City $6 billion for bridge repair with an estimated $1 billion designated for Brooklyn. A majority of that money has gone to the Brooklyn Bridge ($500 million) and the seven bridges of the Belt Parkway ($365 million) but experts say that more money and effort are needed to repair and restore many of the crossways, many of which were built over 70 years ago:

A large number of the bad bridges date back to the 1930s and 40s, and take years to fix.

For example, it has been four years now since the city undertook a $365 million project to rebuild seven crumbling bridges along the Belt Parkway. Those crossways carry an estimated 150,000 cars a day through Brooklyn and Queens to John F. Kennedy Airport and Nassau County to the east, and to the Gowanus Expressway and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the west.

Those bridges are located at the Paerdegat Basin, Gerritsen Inlet, and by Bay Ridge Ave., as well by the Fresh Creek Basin and Rockaway Parkway in Queens.

Councilman Lew Fidler told the Daily News that the city was working to repair the bridges but that the issue is serious and costly.

“We all know those bridges are the worst of the worst. Those bridges have launched the careers of so many personal injury lawyers,” Fidler told the Daily News.

Source: BrokenSphere via WIkimedia Commons

Styrofoam is perhaps one of the most space-aged products mankind has ever invented. But, though the stuff is soft, lightweight and relatively durable, its also a dangerous environmental hazard. Because of this, the Sanitation Department is looking for a city-wide ban on the product, according to a report by DNA Info.

The legislation being proposed would place the focus of the ban on businesses and not consumers.

“This would not be something that the consumer would have to deal with,” said deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability Ron Gonen, “From a pure dollars-and-cents standpoint, it costs us money to dispose of Styrofoam in a landfill. It’s also unhealthy for the environment. It doesn’t break down properly.”

Instead, the ban would fine or heavily tax businesses that continue to order and distribute Styrofoam in large quantities, forcing them to find more environmentally favorable alternatives.

“We’re either going to ban your product or packaging, or make you pay to have it sent to a landfill,” Gonen said.

Councilman Lew Fidler, who had expressed support for a ban in the past, reaffirmed his support for the new ban proposal.

“I would love to move this bill forward, as it would be a help to both our environment and to our businesses through tax incentives,” Fidler said in a released statement.

From the offices of Council Members Lew Fidler and David Greenfield:

Council Members Lew Fidler and David Greenfield, along with several of their Council colleagues representing diverse backgrounds and parts of the City, mailed a letter today to the President of Brooklyn College, Karen Gould, objecting to her school hosting and ‘co-sponsoring’ a “BDS Movement Against Israel” event, on February 7th. The Council Members criticized the school for officially supporting viewpoints they described as “either anti-semitic or simply ignorant” and that “promote the worst kind of hate.”

At this event, the boycotting, divestment and sanctioning of Israel will be called for. Two of the invited speakers reportedly have a history of troubling and hateful statements, such as equating Israelis with Nazis and describing the terrorist organizations of Hamas and Hezbollah as socially progressive movements. Even worse, the event lists Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department as an official “co-sponsor” of the event, giving it a stamp of legitimacy and official approval that such a wrongful event does not deserve.

Councilman Fidler said, “I understand the right of students to express their various viewpoints, no matter how much I may disagree with them. A line is crossed, however, when the school itself is painting a veneer of legitimacy over something that is so clearly offensive to me and to so many of the people in our community. This event is wrong, their viewpoint is wrong and the event being co-sponsored by school itself is doubly wrong.”

“I share the anger and shock of many of my constituents and colleagues who are appalled that Brooklyn College would deem it appropriate to sponsor and host this type of hateful, offensive event. I am especially disappointed in the lack of judgment from Brooklyn College’s administration. Institutions like Brooklyn College that rely on public funding and support must ensure they do not serve as an outlet for groups spreading divisive, odious anti-Israel messages,” said Councilman Greenfield.

The CUNY schools, including Brooklyn College, heavily rely on funding from the tax dollars of the State and City of New York. Every year these schools ask their local legislators for additional funding to support programs and events. The Council Members expressed their belief that events such as this one are not what the taxpayers of New York City – many of whom would feel demonized and targeted by this event – would want their tax dollars spent on.

The Council Members have called on President Gould to either cancel this event or remove any official sponsorship or support.

Source: googly via Flickr

From the offices of Councilman David Greenfield and Councilman Lew Fidler:

In light of the ongoing school bus drivers strike that has forced 152,000 public and private school children to find alternate routes to and from school, Councilman David G. Greenfield and Councilman Lew Fidler are renewing their call for New York City to institute a pilot transportation voucher program to help reduce the cost of pupil transit and improve services for students based on their school’s specific schedule. This would allow parents to choose a bus service that best fits their child’s needs and schedule, including door-to-door delivery and extended busing hours to match later school days in yeshivas.

Currently, more than one-third of all city school bus routes serve at least one non-public school, and tens of thousands of yeshiva and other private school students rely on the city for yellow school bus service. Meanwhile, the cost of transporting students has skyrocketed in recent years and now stands at $1.1 billion. With that in mind, Greenfield and Fidler recently wrote to Deputy Schools Chancellor Kathleen Grimm to follow up on a request they made during a City Council Education Committee hearing last fall for the city to institute a transportation voucher program.

New York City currently spends about $7,000 a year to transport each student to and from school, the highest per-pupil rate of any school district in the nation. Under the plan that Councilman Greenfield and Councilman Fidler are proposing, the city would save millions of dollars each year in student transit costs while providing schools with better, more reliable service. The proposal would have the city providing a flat rate vouchers at half the current cost for parents to choose their own transportation provider. In their January 9 letter to Deputy Chancellor Grimm, Council Members Greenfield and Fidler note that “with bids being put out for school bus contracts and with the DOE trying to lower the costs of school bus transportation, it is an ideal time to consider the benefits our proposal can bring.”

Councilman Greenfield has advocated for a transportation voucher program for parents of private and public school children since he ran for office in 2010. As soon as Greenfield entered office, he met with current Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who at the time was Deputy Mayor for Education, about his proposal for a school transportation voucher program. Greenfield has since followed up on this plan with other senior administration officials. Councilman Fidler has staunchly supported such efforts as a City Council member representing southern Brooklyn.

“It was clear before this drivers strike that the city’s system for busing students needs to be completely overhauled, and the strike is only magnifying that fact. That’s why I have asked the Department of Education to institute a transportation voucher system that allows parents to directly contract with bus companies to better meet their specific child’s needs at half the current cost. This will save the city money while increasing the level of service for students, and is something that should have been instated long before this strike disrupted the education of thousands of children,” said Councilman Greenfield.

“Since the DOE has sent school bus contracts out for competitive bidding, now would be the appropriate time to at least look into a pilot program for yeshiva school busing.  The existing contract structure does not work well for yeshivot. The program that Councilman Greenfield and I have suggested would improve service and save taxpayers’ money at the same time,” said Councilman Fidler.

An HCS-organized senior health fair earlier this month. (Source: HCS)

We told you on Tuesday about the Bensonhurst annex of the Homecrest Community Services senior center, and that it is now the first publicly-funded senior center focused on the unique needs of the Asian-American community. On Monday, State Senator Martin Golden, New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and officials of Homecrest Community Services, held a press conference to celebrate the announcement.

Now a slew of Brooklyn-based City Council members responsible for obtaining the funding are celebrating the victory with a collective “Hoorah!”

Oh, and they’re dishing a little on Golden’s publicity-hogging press conference.

Continue Reading »

Source: Sheepshead Bites. Storobin (l) and Fidler (r).

The allegations of fraud that came forward during the State Senate District 27 special election between Democrat Lew Fidler and Republican David Storobin were a call to action for Assemblyman William Colton. He decided to put forth a bill to better regulate absentee voting.

The bill was recently introduced and is waiting for Senate sponsorship.

Colton said this bill would clear things up for future elections, “This is a second layer of protection to avoid possible fraud and confusion in the counting of ballots,” he told the New York Daily News.

The legislation states that election officials will have to make a note in front of a voter’s name if a voter requests an absentee ballot. Then, if the voter shows up at a polling place, they would not be allowed to vote in person. They can only vote through an absentee ballot.

In the race for Carl Kruger’s seat, absentee voter fraud allegations came to the forefront of the election. Fidler’s camp claimed that a Storobin staff member included both absentee and in-person ballots from voters.

Colton aims to create a definitive end for this controversial situation.

Source: Patty Sue O'Hair-Vicknair/Flickr

Bensonhurst-area City Councilman are all in support of a resolution from Flatbush Councilman Jumaane Williams urging the mayor to throw a ticker-tape parade for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan military conflicts.

Our sister site Sheepshead Bites queried most of Southern Brooklyn’s legislators to see where they stand on the effort, and they all stated support. For those in the Bensonhurst area, here’s what our reps had to say:

“I cannot think of a group that is more deserving of being honored with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes than the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Councilman David G. Greenfield. “We owe our freedom to these brave men and women and they deserve to be recognized and thanked for their service.”

Councilman Vincent J. Gentile, representing Bay Ridge and parts of Bensonhurst, also agreed with Williams – stating priorities must be changed. Gentile stated sports teams are honored at large every year, but veterans do not receive the welcome home they deserve.

“Are [veterans] not the real giants here?” said Gentile. “Not only is it the right thing to do and it’s the least we can do for these brave men and women to honor the sacrifices they’ve made to protect our freedom abroad.”

Domenic M. Recchia Jr., the councilman for Coney Island and Gravesend, stated he supported Councilman William’s proposition “100 percent.”

Ultimately, the decision to have a parade rests with Mayor Bloomberg, who is holding off at the request of the Pentagon, which said New York City should wait until all veterans have returned safely.

The contentious race for disgraced local pol Carl Kruger’s former state senate seat – which represents a district that will no longer exist at the end of the year due to redistricting – is still undecided more than two weeks after the March 20, special election.

In the latest twist, Councilman Fidler’s campaign – which has unofficially pulled ahead based on the recommendations of a panel of judges – is alleging voter fraud by a Storobin consultant. Continue Reading »

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