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Archive for the tag 'Nicole Malliotakis'

The tattoo given to a sedated dog that sparked outrage last week. (Source: Instragram via Post)

After a news story went viral last week about a Prospect Heights tattoo artist who gave his elderly dog some ink while he was still under anesthesia from an unrelated surgery, State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis have reintroduced a 2012 bill to ban animal piercings and tattoos statewide.

A joint press release issued by the Republican lawmakers directly attributed the bill’s revival to the New York Post news story about Mistah Metro.

“Animals should not undergo cosmetic surgeries, tattoos and piercing, not only because it is cruel, but general anesthesia puts them at a tremendous health risk. Seeing this practice become more and more common is incredibly disturbing. These animals can not give consent and end up suffering from the pain of recovery and possible infection, or post-surgery complications,” said Malliotakis in the release.

The dog in the Post story was under general anesthesia because it was having its spleen removed. The tattoo artist said he received the veterinarian’s blessing to do the artwork. But pet piercings and tattoos smack of abuse, the pols argued.

“As an owner of two dogs, I am horrified by how people mistreat animals that have long have been rightly named ‘man’s best friend’. Tattooing a dog is a form of abuse, and New York State should not stand for it,” Golden said.

Malliotakis first introduced the bill in 2012 after viewing “Pet Crazy,” a 20/20 segment about pet owners who tattoo and pierce their animals.

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

The campaign to pressure the Metropolitan Transit Authority to expand the multi-trip discount toll discount plan on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to Brooklynites has kicked up a notch, with Senator Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis launching a petition and website to that end.

The petition is hosted at TheTollsAreTooDamnHigh.com, It reads:

In 2012, in response to public outcry, the Port Authority created a bridge discount program, providing Brooklyn residents traveling over the Goethals Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing, and the Bayonne Bridge three times or more a month with a 58% discount.

Senator Golden has proposed that the MTA provide the same plan for Brooklynites who frequently use the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Assemblywoman Malliotakis has joined him to create this petition to help residents facing skyrocketing tolls when crossings the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Under the plan, residents traveling over the Verrazano Bridge would receive a 58% discount from the $15 cash price to be applied to EZ-Pass holders who travel over the bridge 3 or more times a month. This means that an EZ-Pass holder would see their toll price reduced from roughly $10.50 to $6.30.

Residents can sign the petition by visiting the website, or one of the elected officials’ district offices.

In February, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a deal giving Staten Island EZ-Pass holders a toll break on the Verrazano Bridge. The plan grants Island commuters the discount laid out in the Golden-Malliotakis petition, but denies it to residents of other boroughs.

Area pols immediately criticized the deal, calling it unfair that Brooklynites were left out. Golden, Councilmember Vincent Gentile, State Senator Diane Savino and Borough President Eric Adams all spoke out against it. Gentile later introduced a resolution to the City Council calling for the MTA to give Brooklyn residents a matching deal.

Golden and Malliotakis launched their petition Friday.

“The rising cost of the Verrazano Bridge toll has become prohibitive not only for Staten Island residents, but for Brooklyn residents as well,” said Golden in a press release. “Even though people who live in my district are going the opposite way of those who live in Staten Island, the cost is the same, and therefore, the discount should be the same.”

On the news of the petition’s launch, Gentile and Adams released a joint statement praising the effort and calling for unity in the fight for toll equity:

We thank State Senator Golden and Assembly Member Malliotakis for joining our community’s fight to address disparity in the new tolling plan for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. We cannot stand for the unfair penalizing of Brooklynites that work, go to school or have family members on Staten Island, Brooklynites that use this bridge every day. In this spirit, we are jointly introducing a City Council resolution calling on the Metropolitan Transit Authority to consider the impact of the current pricing scheme on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on both the residents of Brooklyn and Staten Island. Both boroughs, as well as the elected officials who represent them, need to stand in unity on this issue. That is why we will be proud to be among the first to sign the new petition calling for toll relief for Brooklynites, and that is why we look forward to furthering our efforts to achieve a truly ‘fair fare’ on this thoroughfare.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced that his office shut down more day spas and arrested more people on prostitution-related charges in the city’s effort to root out illegal sex trade businesses and human trafficking practices in Southern Brooklyn. According to a press release, Hynes and his office closed five day spas, indicted six and arrested six others in their latest crackdown.

In July, we reported on the first phase of the joint operation between the Brooklyn DA’s office and the NYPD, which saw the closure of a dozen day spas scattered in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. In the aftermath, Hynes promised further investigation and action regarding spots that were not included in the first operation. Meanwhile, local politicians including State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis promised tougher laws and regulations regarding the operation of day spas so that the businesses don’t become magnets for prostitution and human trafficking.

With the second phase of the operation underway, the release put out by Hynes’ office highlighted the details of the arrests and shut downs, including businesses located in Dyker Heights along New Utrecht Avenue:

The first indictment charges four defendants with Sex Trafficking and related charges. According to the indictment, defendants Yun Feng Zhang, Yan Liu, Boxuan Zhang, and Zhan Wei Liu ran the Zhang/Liu prostitution ring, with locations at 307 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights and 223 Calyer Street in Greenpoint, and are facing 25 years in prison if convicted on the top count of Sex Trafficking.  During the execution of a search warrant September 7, at 223 Calyer Street, Zhang Yan, was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession and Prostitution.

The second indictment charges two defendants with Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree and related charges.  According to the indictment, defendants Nataliya Drevetska and Sergey Talko ran the Drevetska/Talko prostitution ring from 1275-77 70TH Street in Bay Ridge and 8017 New Utrecht Avenue in Dyker Heights, and face seven years in prison if convicted of the top count.

During search warrants executed at both locations on September 8, Yuliya Doherty was arrested at 1275-77 70TH Street, and charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession. Anastasi Karvova was arrested at Utrecht Avenue, and charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession and Prostitution.

In addition three people were arrested this past Friday during the execution of a search warrant at 31 Bay Ridge Avenue, another allegedly bogus “Day Spa” or “Massage Therapy” business, hiding an alleged prostitution operation.  This location has been the source of repeated complaints and petitions in the community.

The three defendants arrested at 31 Bay Ridge Ave. are Seol-Hwa Park Meizi Huang, and Fu Lan Quan, who is the owner.  All three were charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession. Defendants Park and Huang were also charged with Prostitution.

Hynes, who is up for reelection, expressed hope that the latest bust would help deter future prostitution rings from forming.

“I hope that these arrests will send a message not only to the communities of Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Heights and Greenpoint, but throughout Brooklyn, that my office shares their concerns regarding these so-called ‘massage parlors’ and we will not tolerate illicit operations that exploit women and adversely affect neighborhoods,” Hynes said.

State Senator Marty Golden and Councilman Vincent Gentile signaled that the arrests were a victory for the area and that they would go a long way to increasing public safety. In her own statement, Malliotakis echoed these sentiments, lavishing praise on the DA and the NYPD in their efforts to clean out the lawbreakers.

“The District Attorney’s office and NYPD have shown swift and decisive action in closing down these massage parlors, guarding both our quality of life and safety.  Cracking down on this illicit activity not only protects our community, but also the young women being exploited.  I thank our law enforcement for their diligence and I will continue working with my colleagues and the community to report suspicious activity,” Malliotakis said in a release.

Source: The Offices Of Nicole Malliotakis

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (Source: The Offices Of Nicole Malliotakis)

State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis joined forces to propose legislation that would heavily regulate day spas in an effort to crack down on prostitution and human trafficking. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that the lawmakers hope the legislation would keep the day spas within the rule of law or risk swift closure.

In July, we reported on a bust coordinated by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and the NYPD that saw the crackdown of 12 massage parlors and day spas and saw the arrest of 19 people across Southern Brooklyn. According to authorities, the operation represented only the “first phase” of the effort to fight illegal prostitution and human trafficking. Malliotakis saw the wide-ranging bust as a need to put tougher laws in place to fight prostitution.

The Eagle described the provisions laid out in the new laws proposed by Golden and Malliotakis:

  • Regulates the hours of operation of day spas. The spas would be prohibited from operating between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • Allows local authorities to close a day spa when there is a pattern of excessive noise or disturbance to the surrounding community. A pattern is defined as four or more reported instances to police within a six-month period.
  • Requires that the day spa be shut down if the owner is convicted of a felony.
  • Offers a path to licensing for day spa owners that are unlicensed. Owners would be given up to one month after they are notified by authorities to apply for the proper license. Owners would have one year to obtain the license.

Malliotakis reiterated her call for an increased crackdown and alluded to the horrors of human trafficking:

“The arrests that have already been made show just how badly New York’s laws need to be tightened in order to rid our communities of this criminal activity,” Malliotakis said…

Malliotakis said the allegedly illicit activity going on in many day spas also opens up the ugly specter of human sex trafficking. There are suspicions that many of the young women working in the raided day spas have been smuggled into the US and are being forced into prostitution, she said. The legislation she and Golden drafted would “help women who are forced to be in prostitution,” Malliotakis said.

A report in the Epoch Times further elaborated on Malliotakis’s and Golden’s efforts to fight human trafficking:

Malliotakis said many of the people arrested in the July bust, were not U.S. citizens, and many did not have legal status. She said human trafficking is a serious problem in New York, often affecting immigrant populations.

“They are often threatened with deportation. They are also frequently promised a better job, or a better life, and so they are sucked into this trade,” she said.

Golden said New York State does not deport women for prostitution, and non-profit organizations often help women charged with prostitution gain asylum in the U.S.

Golden plans to have the new legislation introduced in January when the new state legislature session begins.

“This is state legislation. We expect to get it passed,” Golden told the Daily Eagle.

189x99xMTA_Bus_logo2.png.pagespeed.ic.4-GblrtwW4The MTA has officially approved the plan to restore the B37 bus service. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that the vote was unanimous.

Local officials had already said the return was all but certain, although the MTA declined to say the same until this week’s vote. The line connects Bay Ridge and downtown Brooklyn, and was eliminated during the 2010 service cuts for budget reasons.

The Daily Eagle also laid out other service changes and improvements expected to help people with their daily commutes:

In another development, Bay Ridge elected officials and transportation advocacy organizations like the Riders Alliance reported victories in their efforts to convince MTA to beef up other transit services in anticipation of the closure of the Montague Street Tunnel. The tunnel is scheduled to close on Aug. 2 and remain closed for 14 months. The tunnel closure is expected to wreak havoc on R train riders’ commutes into Manhattan…

The closure is taking place so that damage the tunnel sustained during Superstorm Sandy can be repaired, MTA officials said.

Among the service improvements the MTA has agreed to: a 25 percent increase in service on the X27 express bus line between Bay Ridge and midtown Manhattan; additional “gap trains” to augment service on the D, N, 4, and 5 subway lines; and having all of the escalators at the Jay Street/Metrotech R train station going “up” during the morning rush hour so that passengers can transfer quicker to the F line.

Source: krissikes/Flickr

Lawmakers in Albany aren’t subjected to term limits and the Conservative Party wants to change that. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that Conservative Party chairman Mike Long is pushing an effort to bring term limits to the New York State Senate, Assembly and governor posts.

The call to ask legislators to limit the amount of time they can serve in office is a tough sell. Besides the power and prestige that comes with being a New York State lawmaker, entrenched senators and assemblymembers make $79,500 a year plus a per diem ($171 per full day, $61 per half day). Governors get $170,050 plus a mansion. Combined with access to taxpayer funded healthcare benefits, that is a decent chunk of change. Oh, and did we mention, it’s the legislators who have to write their term limits into law?

Still, party leaders like Long believe it is an effective way to weed out corruption and keep politicians more focused.

“We hear a lot of talk about fixing Albany and about getting rid of the corruption. But nothing they’re doing is going to address the problem,” Long told the Daily Eagle. “If legislators knew they only had a limited time to serve, they would concentrate on getting things done for the benefit of New Yorkers, instead of putting all of their focus into getting re-elected.”

Long’s plan would call for limiting the governor to two terms (eight years) and a maximum of 12 years for Assembly and Senate members (six terms). Long acknowledged that the effort to install term limits would not be popular with the lawmakers themselves and he is considering other options, even if that means ending the careers of some of the most powerful members that his party has endorsed:

Long knows that his party is facing an uphill battle on the term limits front. “It’s pretty hard to get legislators to term limit themselves,” he said. If appealing to the lawmakers’ consciences doesn’t work, the Conservatives will consider pushing for a public referendum to be put on the ballot, similar to how the term limits law was passed in New York City.

Long said he is also aware that the entire legislator would be painted with the same broad term limits brush. If it passed, lawmakers the party has endorsed, like state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) would be term limited. “It would apply to everyone,” he said.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D), who has served the Bensonhurst for 26 years, came out against Long’s plan.

“The people should make the decision. Look at the mess term limits have caused in the city,” Abbate told the Daily Eagle. “You have people trying to move up to higher offices because they know they can’t run for re-election. And you have people running for office who are not ready. They’re running just because the seat is open,” he said.

Personally, I think term limits are a good idea considering the general sorry state of the country’s campaign finance laws. Politicians, desperate to to get reelected season after season, sell their judgement and their votes to keep their campaign chests filled. This never ending cycle is ultimately unethical, turning the most senior lawmakers into jaded hypocritical husks all while tainting the democratic process, opening doors to graft and corruption.

Following the announcement of a major sting operation that brought down 12 Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights massage parlors accused of serving as dens for prostitution, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis jumped into the fray, saying that the bust shows the severity of the problem locally.

Malliotakis issued the following statement:

 Today’s arrests illustrate just how rampant prostitution has become in our community. The district attorney and NYPD have shown swift and decisive action, successfully closing down 12 prostitution rings fronting as massage parlors, and we are all indebted to them for making our community a safer place. Local elected officials will continue to work with our community boards, residents and law enforcement to identify these seedy establishments and rid their criminal element from Bay Ridge and all of Brooklyn.

Not to knock Malliotakis, as she’s not alone in this, but I can’t help but notice that most of the releases from public officials regarding the prostitution issue mention Bay Ridge by name – and only Bay Ridge. Yet, there continue to be concerns about massage parlors operating on 86th Street as well as 18th Avenue. Can someone please tell our pols that there are voters outside of Bay Ridge that care about this issue?

Source: Glabb via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Glabb via Wikimedia Commons

Facing a torrent of criticism from local politicians and union steel leaders, the MTA issued a thorough defense of their plans to use Chinese steel products in their Verrazano-Narrows Bridge  renovation project. MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast wrote a letter defending the agencies actions to the New York Daily News.

As we’ve previously reported, the MTA’s decision to employ Chinese steel fabricators on their $235 million renovation project raised the ire of State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who penned a joint letter urging the MTA to reconsider American alternatives. The MTA also took heat from US steel union representatives who accused the agency of looking for the cheapest deal possible.

To combat the growing outrage, in his letter, Prendergast claims that many of the accusations are full of falsehoods – especially the perception that no Americans would be working on the project:

The decision to use some steel from China has come under intense but unfounded criticism. I want to set the record straight, because the attacks are rife with misinformation.

The MTA tried and failed to find an American company to fabricate steel panels for this vital project. We have a long record of aggressive efforts to purchase from New York and American vendors, and we were disappointed we could not do so with these panels.

The contractor performing the bridge project is an American company. It will replace the 49-year-old bridge’s concrete deck with one made of orthotropic steel panels, which will significantly reduce the bridge’s weight while making it better able to withstand stress.

Predergast also pledged that a majority of the $235 million will be spent in America and that American workers will be racking up over one million hours in labor over a four-year span. The MTA Chairman also reiterated the agency’s belief that no American steel manufacturing plant was capable of providing the services needed and that cost was not a factor in determining that conclusion:

Not a single American fabricator had the capacity, the experience and the willingness to tackle the job. Contrary to some claims, price was not a factor in this decision. The American steel industry has not focused on the process of fabricating orthotropic steel decks for projects of this size and complexity, while fabricators in other countries have specialized in it.

With no American firms willing to commit to fabricating the orthotropic steel panels, the work was subcontracted to firms in China, which are being held to exacting safety and quality standards.

Producing the steel will cost an estimated $12 million, and fabricating it into orthotropic panels will cost an estimated $22 million. The remaining $201 million value of the contract will be spent in America.

In concluding his argument, Prendergast expressed a commitment to investing in American jobs and the economy of New York. Whether or not Prendergast’s defense will quell all the criticism remains to be seen.

Source: joo0ey via flickr

Source: joo0ey via flickr

Despite a campaign mounted by local politicians, the MTA is going full speed ahead with its plan to import Chinese steel products in their planned $235 million renovation of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The New York Daily News is reporting that the MTA simply couldn’t find a US steel maker with the ability to manufacture the steel products they need, while union reps have insisted that the MTA is simply searching for the cheapest deal possible.

As we’ve previously reported, State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis joined forces to condemn the MTA for importing inferior quality steel products. They argued that the MTA was sacrificing safety by using cheaper Chinese steel products and labor. According to the Daily News report, union reps were outraged at the MTA’s cost saving maneuver.

“It’s a kick in the teeth. There’s a lot of New Yorkers who would be thrilled to work on this project. It should be American made,” United Steelworkers’ Vice President Tom Conway told the Daily News.

The MTA countered with a statement that claimed that manufacturing the specific steel products they need produced is impossible in the United States.

“(The agency) worked diligently to find an American steel manufacturer with the capability, experience and desire to fabricate the steel bridge deck … the MTA could not find an American fabricator,” the MTA’s statement read.

The MTA promised that all Chinese steel would have to meet strict US safety guidelines and requirements and that the finished steel parts in China will be reassembled by American workers.

While the MTA claims that logistics and manufacturing limitations were the main reasons they looked to China, Conway pinned the issue entirely on money.

“This job here is about $30 an hour. In China, the workers will get anywhere from $10 to $15 a day,” Conway told the Daily News.

Construction on the project has already commenced.

Marty Golden, Photo By Erica Sherman

Marty Golden, Photo By Erica Sherman

Fearing that a slew of newly opened day spas are engaging in illegal prostitution practices, local lawmakers are seeking to tighten licensing requirements for the businesses as well as expand police investigation into alleged sex trafficking possibilities. According to a Brooklyn Daily Eagle report, the emergence of the day spas has caused alarm among local residents.

State Senator Marty Golden told the Daily Eagle that he would like to see increased licensing across the board to weed out any illegitimate employees.

“The licensing process should be not just for the location, but for the individual. If you go to get your hair done, the person cutting your hair has been certified by the city of New York to perform that job. You can see the license on the wall. I don’t know if the person giving you a massage in one of these places has a license,” Golden said.

While Golden has concerned himself with day spas that have opened in Bay Ridge, Golden added that the problem extends to other neighborhoods as well. Many such spa and massage locations exist in Bensonhurst, along 86th Street and 18th Avenue.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis expressed disgust at the potential illegal activity as well as the impact that the presence of this crime has on the community as a whole.

“The evidence of similar massage parlors acting as a front for vile and harmful behavior is too strong,” Malliotakis told the Daily Eagle. “On a broader scale, I worry for our community and the negative impact that this type of activity can generate.”

Councilman Vincent Gentile promised that action is underway and that authorities will soon get to the truth of that matter.

“I remain in close touch with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and other law enforcement agencies with regard to massage parlors in our area. However, I must be careful not to jeopardize an ongoing investigation. There is a lot going on behind the scenes and this remains a high priority of mine,” Gentile said.

Despite the extra focus on the day spas, experts noted that proving illegal activity is very difficult as most of the evidence is circumstantial in nature.

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