Thursday, March 31, 2011

Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park Meeting Tonight: Pros and Cons

The Cobble Hill Association is urging folks to testify today (Thursday, March 31st, 6 p.m.) and speak out against housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Here is their message:

Though developers try to convince the community that five additional buildings are the only solution to finance the park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund and many other sensible community advocates know this is not true. Bigger revenue opportunities include selling the Jehovah Witness properties immediately adjacent to the park, as well as creating an Atlantic Ferry Landing concept that would serve as an entertainment and recreational draw on Pier 6. 

St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street (between Court and Clinton Streets) 6 - 9 p.m.  (map)


Here is the Draft Report of the study on alternatives to housing in the park.


We have just received this (very long) message from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Here it is:

Since 2004, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy has supported the General Project Plan (GPP) for Brooklyn Bridge Park, which calls for a limited amount of residential and commercial development to fully finance the maintenance and operations of self-sustaining Brooklyn Bridge Park.

While supporting the plan, we have also consistently advocated for the least amount of development possible to adequately sustain the park. In that spirit, we welcome the work of Brooklyn Bridge Park's Committee on Alternatives to Housing and the most recent study on revenue alternatives.

Of the alternatives studied, the Conservancy believes that the careful and judicious use of private events, the exploration of sponsorship opportunities and private philanthropy in support of capital projects, and the metering of existing street level parking spaces hold some potential as revenue sources.

But let's be clear that these and other revenue alternatives outlined in the report will not be sufficient to replace the Pier 6 and John St residential sites, which are expected to contribute approximately $8.25 million in revenues per year, nor the Pier 1 residences. However, as we have advocated, these new funds could help to reduce the scale of residential development in the park. We call on Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to examine that potential quickly and thoroughly.

Here's why this discussion is so important right now.

Brooklyn Bridge Park isn't fully funded yet - the park still needs approximately $130 million to complete its construction. The City of New York has said that it will provide the capital dollars to build the rest of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but those dollars will flow only if the park has a viable plan to fund its maintenance and operations.

That means that $44 million in funds in the short term along with an additional $85 million that has been promised, but not allocated, is hanging in the balance. We cannot afford to walk away from that, and lose the promise of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

If we want the rest of the park - Piers 2 and 3, the outer section of Pier 6, the section in Dumbo, and Brooklyn Bridge Plaza - to be built, we need certainty about when we will have the funding to maintain them and where that funding will come from. And we need that certainty now.

The current park plan - which proposes an achievable strategy for self-sustainability with only 9% of its footprint devoted to revenue-generation (less than half of what was originally authorized) - is still a good plan. And the development parcels that are under review comprise 3 plots with footprints of approximately 10,000 square feet each - in total less than 3/4 of an acre.

Some have expressed concern that the housing contemplated in the current plan will privatize the park.

We've had a year to test this concern. One Brooklyn Bridge Park has been occupied since before the opening of Pier 6, and we have no indication whatsoever that it has compromised the enjoyment of the thousands of children playing in the water lab, visitors catching the free ferry to Governor's Island, or bikers taking the interim greenway to Pier 1. And it certainly has not discouraged those from outside the neighborhood coming to the park - surveys showed that visitors flocked to the park from over 175 zip codes, all across the city, and the world.

Limited residential development actually privatizes the park far less than some of the alternatives outlined in the BAE report, such as taking up more open space by spreading additional retail stores across the park's boundaries, or building a parking garage on what could be open space, or charging fees for basketball courts that are free at every other park in the city.

We think the park's designers are right when they note that in the case of Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is cut off from surrounding neighborhoods by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, having people live on the park's edges will help activate and energize the open spaces and provide critical "eyes on the park" for what can be an isolated area. And additional residents will support the retail activities already envisioned in the park's plan.

In closing, Piers 1 and 6 of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened last winter and captured our hearts. But let's reiterate - much of the rest of the park may never be finished if we cannot implement a revenue plan. The basketball and handball courts of Pier 2 may never be built, the John St. section of the park may remain as a garbage-strewn and fenced-off field, Pier 3 may degrade and fall into the East River, and the back half of Pier 6 may never open.

It's time to decide whether we want Brooklyn Bridge Park, or not. Whether we want a fully built park, or whether we want to stop with only 2/3 of our park built and walk away from the rest because we cannot reach agreement on its funding.

The Conservancy wants a fully built park, and we want it as quickly as possible - with no delays and no more uncertainty over its future.

To that end, we call on the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the Mayor, and our local elected officials to reach an agreement and move forward now with a revenue plan that fully funds a safe, beautiful, and vibrant Brooklyn Bridge Park and fully commit the remaining $130 million in capital funds to complete the world-class, waterfront park this community has worked for over the past twenty-five years.

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A Night In a Leaky Lifeboat: A 96-Year-Old Survivor Tells the Story

A man gives a talk about the neighborhoods of Brooklyn at the University Club. He's seated at a table with a sweet 96-year-old woman, and overhears her tell someone she once spent the night in a leaky lifeboat. He asks her to tell him her story and the most amazing tale unfolds . . .
Brooklyn Eagle

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'Georgetown' Wraps Up Filming in Brooklyn Heights

 Heads up! The TV drama "Georgetown," produced by Gossip Girl partners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and starring Katie Cassidy, Kevin Zegers and Joseph Mazzello, has wrapped up filming in Brooklyn Heights. (The tastefully decorated head shown above was stuck onto some production equipment on Henry Street.)

According to IMBD, the show focuses on a group of young people working in Washington.

 The sidewalks of Brooklyn Heights were full of film equipment yesterday.

Nothing beats the food layout at a film or TV shoot. Here are some snacks for the cast and crew, set up in Love Lane.

Photos copyright MKMetz

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

C. Murray Adams, Past President of Cobble Hill Ass'n, Dies at 79

Roy Sloane from Brooklyn Community Board 6 sent this today:

With great sadness, we wish to mark the passing of C. Murray Adams. Murray passed away peacefully yesterday at his beloved Long Island College Hospital, following complications of a brief illness. He was the past president of the Cobble Hill Association and a member of our board, but, most importantly, a wonderful person, husband and father.

There are few individuals who have had the dedication and made the contributions to Cobble Hill that Murray has over the years. He played an integral part in shaping the neighborhood from one threatend by urban renewal and Atlantic Avenue becoming a state highway to one of Brooklyn's premier family neighborhoods. He did this through his intelligence, his charm and his tireless dedication to improving our institutions and our local political representation.

Murray was one of the founders of the Cobble Hill Association in the late 1950's and served as one of its first presidents. Our longest serving leader, he was president again from 2004 through 2008 and was still serving on our board at the time of his passing.

Murray was also a member of the boards of Long Island College Hospital and the Cobble Hill Health Center and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund. He served as a legal adviser for the lawsuit to prohibit housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park. In just the past two years, his vision, leadership, and skill as a citizen lobbyist helped make the SUNY Downstate/ LICH merger possible-- saving LICH and creating a powerful new health care resource in our borough.

There will not be a formal viewing or burial, and Murray will be interred upstate in a private ceremony in a family plot. The family is planning a memorial service in the near future. Mrs. Adams will ask that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Long Island College Hospital and an as yet unnamed charity. The family requests that no calls be made at this time, but would welcome cards and other written remembrances. Please address notes to:

Mrs. Lucy Adams, 185 Amity Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

We loved Murray. He will be profoundly missed.

Full obituary and photo at the Brooklyn Eagle

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Ratner Sells Half of Atlantic Center; Shoe Shine Man Sues Over Shake Shack; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Forest City Ratner has sold a 49% stake in 15 shopping centers, including Atlantic Center. WSJ 

- Shoe shine man sues over Shake Shack ouster. Brooklyn Eagle 

- DOE: Computers more important than teachers and schools. Gothamist

- Brownstoner discusses the Offerman Building on Fulton Street -- soon to be home of H&M. Brownstoner

- Budget cuts could mean less repairs, dirtier parks. The Local

- First-time home buyers class April 4. Reality Collective

- First the TSA agent grabs your junk. Now this: bed bugs are being found on airplanes. Huff Post

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P.S. 29 Ex- PTA Treasurer Indicted for Stealing $100,000 for Fertility Treatments, Rent

 Providence Hogan, the owner of the Providence Day Spa on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, has been indicted and charged with embezzling roughly $100,000 from P.S. 29's PTA, according to Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, who announced the 22-count indictment Tuesday. P.S. 29 is in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, an investigation revealed that the money — raised by parents and students through countless fundraisers — went missing from the PTA’s bank account in 2007 through 2008.

She told investigators she used the money to pay the rent on her apartment and business, for fertility treatments, and to “keep her family living in the lifestyle they were accustomed to.”

The investigation began in January when the PTA discovered that Hogan wrote two unauthorized checks worth $5,500.

Parents at P.S. 29 invest much time and sweat equity in raising funds at P.S. 29, a great school in Cobble Hill. If you know live nearby you've no doubt been talked into magazine subscriptions, holiday shopping, movie benefits, wine tastings, book readings and other events. It's sad to think that someone might have taken these precious funds, used to replace money the state and city cut from the school budget over the past two years.

Below are some P.S. 29 events we've covered.

- Pies Up the Wazoo at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
- LENNONYC -- P.S. 29 Benefit Preview Tonight at Cobble Hill Cinemas
- Help Cobble Hill's P.S. 29 Win an 'Imagination Playground'
- Beauteous Garden at Cobble Hill's P.S. 29

Photo by Google Maps

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stabbings, Tastings and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Two stabbings: one at Lafayette Gardens, one in Red Hook.

- Possibly the scariest video of Mayor Bloomberg you'll ever see. NY Observer 

- Grieving widow who lost 2 kids, husband in fire salvages urn with 16-year-old daughter's ashes. NY Daily News

- They hoarded 100 cats in their Williamsburg apartment, with predictable results. Brooklyn Eagle

- Tasting Brooklyn event in DUMBO April 5.  DumboNYC

- BP Markowitz wants to keep cars in Prospect Park. Gothamist 

Tickets are now available for the Brooklyn Blogfest, the 6th annual gathering of Brooklyn blogger. OTBKB

- What was going on with the police at the 25th Street/ 4th Ave. station this morning? Brooklynian

- Cash For Gold pops up on Flatbush Ave.  Brownstoner

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Monday, March 28, 2011

It Pays to Be a Lobbyist in Brooklyn

A couple of weeks ago it came out that State Senator Carl Kruger was accused of taking $1 million in bribes including money from Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist on behalf of developer Forest City Ratner. (See NY Times)

Forest City Ratner is not alone in hiring lobbyists to get what it wants from the city, however. It seems like nearly every big company, developer and organization in Brooklyn (and greater New York) has a lobbyist working behind the scenes.

 The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, National Grid, Walmart, St. Francis College, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn Tech Alumni Association, PfizerBrooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Navy Yard, 360 Brooklyn Investors (1 Brooklyn Bridge Park), Two Trees Management Co. -- they all shell out cash to lobbyists to get their message in front of city council members, borough presidents and city agencies.

For the most part, there's nothing illegal about this. Some programs that benefit Brooklynites have eased their way through the State Legislature or City Council because of lobbyists.

The Ratner/ Lipsky case, however, shows the seamy side of lobbyists and the unhealthy effect all that money can have on business and politics in Brooklyn.

Follow the Money

We took a little survey of prominent Brooklyn organizations to see how much they spent on lobbyists.

Two government web sites provide data concerning lobbyists: the New York City Lobbylist database (most figures we cite come from here) and the NYS Commission on Public Integrity's lobbyist online filing system.

It turns out the money flowing to and from lobbyists from Brooklyn organizations is like an underground stream crisscrossing the landscape, from DUMBO to Borough Hall to Downtown Brooklyn to City Hall to the offices of city council members and government agencies.

Last year, for example, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce paid $60,000 to lobby council members about the budget and local law. National Grid paid $60,000 for similar services; St. Francis College laid out $72,000. Maimonides spent $120,000; Brooklyn Tech Alumni coughed up $60,000; the Brooklyn Historical Society paid $48,000; SUNY Downstate spent $90,000. And these are just the small fry.

Why Do They Hire Lobbyists? 

Because that's how business is done in this town. Here's one example: In 2008, DUMBO developer Two Trees, working to get the controversial Dock Street project approved, paid three lobbying firms roughly $212,000 to twist arms at a long list of city agencies plus borough presidents and council members. Officially, the subject of the lobbying was "discretionary land use approvals and local law."

In 2009, Two Trees paid five different lobbyists roughly $211,000 to lobby the above groups plus the Brooklyn Office of the Dept. of City Planning and the School Construction Authority. (Two Trees said it would include a 300-seat school in the building.) In 2010, Two Trees spent roughly $140,000 on lobbyists.

It Takes an Army

Life is good for lobbyists in Brooklyn. One developer alone, Forest City Ratner, paid roughly $3,819,600 over the past five years to lobbyists pushing his controversial Atlantic Yards mega project. (It must be hard to keep track of a few bribes when that kind of money is flying around.)

The Forest City Ratner company (under the name Atlantic Yards Development Co.) paid lobbyists $1,023,000 in 2009 and $298,000 in 2010. In 2008, the company paid lobbyists under two names: $72,000 to lobbyists under the Forest City Ratner name and $298,000 under the name Atlantic Yards Development Co. In 2007, under the name Forest City Ratner, they laid out $980,000. In 2006 they paid lobbyists $1,148,600.

Hiring a lobbyist isn't always a guarantee of success. Ex-councilman Kenneth Fisher was paid $7,500 by the Hannah Senesh School in Carroll Gardens in 2008 to lobby government groups for the "acquisition of a lot currently owned by the City of New York" -- one of the protected "gardens" of Carroll Gardens. The resulting uproar, which involved outgoing Councilman Bill de Blasio, derailed the scheme.

Photos by MK Metz

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Daffodils In the Snow

 One of the first daffodils of spring bent down over Thursday's snow; in Brooklyn Heights.

Photo by MK Metz

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Borough Hall Ghost Bike; Lost Clothes; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- The Brooklyn Borough Hall Ghost Bike, and what this has to do with BP Marty Markowitz. WYDNKBYANM 

- Did you find a bag of fancy clothes on 5th Ave. in Park Slope? There's a stressed-out lady who would really like to get them back.  Brooklynian

- Some of the influential people who attacked the Prospect Park bike lane (after five years of community effort got it built) are now trying to stay out of the limelight, but their "pro bono" lawyer keeps on attacking. Streetsblog 

- There he was eating dinner at Joya Restaurant on Court Street in Cobble Hill when a pack of boys ran in . . .  Brooklyn Paper

- The ugliest pillows ever.  Curbed

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Yep, It Snowed in Brooklyn Heights

 Cadman Plaza Park, Brooklyn Heights.

Some lightning last night, huh?
Here are the highlights of today's weather forecast from the National Weather Service:
Thursday: Drizzle, snow, and freezing drizzle likely before 11am, then a chance of rain. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 44. North wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Photo by MK Metz

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Roof-Raising at Atlantic Yards; Prime 6 Watch; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Brooklyn man who superimposed his ex-girlfriend's face onto pornographic images on the Internet was denied entry into a court program. CTPost

- The media just can't get enough of Brooklynites. Brooklyn Eagle

- The roof is going up at the Nets arena. Nets Daily

- Another public hearing on alternatives to housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park will be held on Thursday, March 31st at 5:30 p.m. at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street. PMFA 

- The proposed Prime 6 lounge in Park Slope will hire four “security guards,” offer “bottle service” and have an outdoor “stand-up bar.” Brooklyn Paper 

- Mayor Bloomberg is buying $1 million worth of TV ads to fight an ad campaign advocating a "millionaire's tax" on the rich. Queens Crap  

An extended NFL lockout would be devastating to the chicken wing industry. Huff Post 

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Crossword Fanatics Take Over Brooklyn Marriott

Folks passing through the Brooklyn Marriott this past weekend may have been taken aback to see this man in full crossword regalia.

Turns out about a thousand crossword puzzle fanatics were in Downtown Brooklyn for the 34th-annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

The event was hosted by New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz. New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chastwas also on hand for the festivities.

More at the Brooklyn Eagle.

Photo by MK Metz

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Hands Around the Lake' Protest for Prospect Park Geese

On Saturday, March 26 at 1 p.m. adults and children, NYS Senator Eric Adams and Council Member Letitia James as well as wildlife advocates from across the city will be joining hands around the perimeter of Prospect Park Lake in a show of solidarity for the humane treatment of Canada Geese and all urban wildlife in New York City parks and greenspaces.

The peaceful event, called "Hands Around the Lake," is meant to support and celebrate our urban wildlife.

Participants will gather to demand that Mayor Bloomberg end the city’s contract with the USDA to exterminate Canada Geese and implement only humane, non-lethal alternatives to gassing. Focus will also be on learning to peacefully co-exist with urban wildlife, as the wildlife that we have in our city parks and greenspaces is valued by the community.

(Gather at 12:30 p.m. just to the left on lakeside/take short walk on road to grassy area near the Well House. More at Brooklynian.)

Photo by pheanix, Creative Commons license

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Screw the Elderly: 31 Senior Centers May Be Shut Down in Brooklyn

Before tax cuts, there was money for niceties like schools and senior centers.

Now, thanks to the state budget deficit, 31 state-funded senior community centers are slated for closure in Brooklyn. According to the 2010 census report, senior citizens make up 12.5% of Brooklyn’s population.

BCAT TV produced this Brooklyn Review video at the Wyckoff Senior Community Center in Boerum Hill (one of the centers marked for closure in spring). 87% of the seniors that use the center earn less than $10,000 a year and depend on it for a hot meal and social interaction. "I've been in this neighborhood 40 years," said one man. "Never has that center been threatened to be shut down."

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Welcome to Spring: Now It's Going to Snow

So much for spring flowers, budding trees and cherry blossoms. According to the National Weather Service, we could get up to two inches of snow tomorrow. Here's the forecast as of Tuesday morning:

Wednesday: Rain and snow likely before 11am, then snow likely between 11am and 2pm, then rain and snow after 2pm. High near 38. East wind between 3 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. 
Wednesday Night: Rain and snow, becoming all snow after 11pm. Low around 29. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

Photo by MKMetz

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Comes to Brooklyn Heights

Right on schedule, spring has arrived in Brooklyn Heights. Crocuses and snowdrops are popping up everywhere, and daffodils are right around the corner.
Handmade bunnies fill the windows at Saint Ann's School.

A gardener on Joralemon Street is getting ready to plant big time.

The first cherry blossoms have opened near Brooklyn Borough Hall.

To see photos by Ralph Morse of spring in Brooklyn in 1949, visit Routine Investigations.

Photos by MK Metz

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Brooklyn Waterfront Residents Petition City to remove Salt Pile

 Residents of Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill are petitioning the city and the Port Authority of NY and NJ and ASI to remove the salt pile on Pier 9 at Kane and Columbia Streets.
The petition reads: 

Covering the salt pile is NOT a solution. The salt pile is uncovered for months at a time while being used, loaded and unloaded, and on windy days when the covering comes loose. This substance gets airborne and disperses throughout the neighborhood.

Salt is an irritant, can irritate the respiratory tract and causes hypertension. Some pet advocacy groups claim that road salt is harmful to dogs, and aquatic life may be particularly susceptible. Canada has considered listing road salt as a toxic substance due to the salinity itself.

Some evidence suggests that sunlight and bacteria can trigger a toxic substance (cyanide) to be released from road salt.

Salt entering the port of New York in 2005 was of Chilean origin. It contained perchlorate, a contaminant regulated by the EPA. Perchlorate may affect the functioning of the thyroid gland in humans. In addition, the use of this location for the storage and loading of this corrosive substance is incompatible with the new waterfront park and greenway development plans.

WE ARE NOW FACING A 3RD YEAR OF THIS HAZARD as a new huge mountain of salt is loaded onto the site.

There are 60+ signatures so far. One commenter wrote:
PLEASE remove this salt pile. For 3 years I have been calling 311, local representatives, American Stevedoring and have had no positive result. My dog's paws have been damaged by this salt, and on windy days the salt has been an irritant to my asthma. I am now pregnant, and we are seriously considering whether to stay in our apartment if this salt pile is not removed as we know this is a hazard to our baby . . .

Petition here.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

18 Universities Want to Set Up Research Center in NYC

Yesterday the city said that it had received 18 expressions of interest from universities and corporations which want establish a research center for applied science and engineering on a city-owned site.

According to the NY Times, officials have identified several possible sites. One of them is a complex at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Other possibilities include Roosevelt Island and spaces on Governors Island and Staten Island.

The list of institutions that responded includes the Abo Akademi University in Finland and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, as well as schools in Israel, England, India and Switzerland. One joint submission came from New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, the City University of New York, the University of Toronto and I.B.M.

For more, see the NY Times.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Ghost Bike; MTA Safety Record Scam; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Another ghost bike has appeared in the Downtown Brooklyn vicinity. This one, painted white and adorned with flowers, commemorates Dominik Perez. Brooklyn Eagle 

- All kinds of robberies at Atlantic Terminal Mall.  The Local

- 63 percent of Brooklyn Jews are non-observant. Matzav

- Parks officers booted a homeless man from his elaborate, six-foot-tall house of twigs inside Prospect Park.  Brooklyn Paper 

- The MTA starts its prosecution today of more than a thousand employees, potentially involved in a massive scandal to falsify MTA safety records. NY Magazine

- A new discount card for shoppers in Park Slope.  Brokelyn

- The Irish weren’t always respected and St. Patrick’s Day was not always a day of festivities in the cities of Brooklyn and New York. Brooklyn Eagle

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Forest City Ratner to Slap Together Prefab Tower at Atlantic Yards

 The NY Times reports that developer Bruce Ratner is pursuing plans to erect the world’s tallest prefabricated steel structure in a bid to cut costs at his Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

The cheapo 34-story tower "would fulfill his obligation to start building affordable housing at the site," according to the Times. If it's anything like the 15-story Ark Hotel in China -- a similar prefab project that Ratner has shown interest in, according to the Times -- the thing could be slapped together in a couple of days.

Construction workers are simply shocked that Ratner would do this. They were his most most ardent supporters, the Times says, "during years of stormy community meetings, where they drowned out neighborhood opponents with chants of 'Jobs, jobs, jobs.'"

More here.

- Brooklyn Speaks Files for Stay of Construction at Atlantic Yards
- Ratner, the Nets, and the Russian Billionaire
- Petition to NY Gov: No Stimulus $$$ For Atlantic Yards
- Atlantic Yards Photoshoot: The Right to Bear Cameras
- Rally for Atlantic Yards 'Time Out' This Saturday
- Walkathon Against Atlantic Yards, 2007
- Atlantic Yards' Developers Next Frontier: Human Biology
- Atlantic Yards Financials 'Not Enough' 
- Did Atlantic Yards Opposition Blow It?
- Atlantic Yards: Is It Too Late to Stop the Check? 
- Federal Court Dismisses Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Case
- Q: What Do These Groups Have in Common?
- Atlantic Yards Demolition Suspended After Ward Bakery Parapet Collapse
- Judge Blocks Atlantic Yards Plaintiffs’ ‘End Run’ Around State Laws
- Atlantic Yards Consultant Bill Up to $4.8 Million

Photo by Elizabeth/Table4Five, Creative Commons license

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Japan: Try Sending In Robots to Help Dump Water On the Reactors

Japan has the most advanced robots in the world -- they are used to help care for the aged, and are even searching for earthquake survivors. 50 - 100 brave workers are risking their lives hosing down the burning reactors. Why not send in helper robots?

Police robots are highly mobile, with such sophisticated audio and visual systems they can be used for bomb removal and disposal. Some can survive multiple blasts, and seem well suited to working near a burning radioactive core.

If there are any robot experts out there, let us know if this is being considered.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Don't Flush Those Drugs Into the Gowanus Canal!

The filthy, diseased microbes in the Gowanus Canal are vicious enough -- we don't want to get them stoned as well.

Craig R. Hammerman, District Manager of Brooklyn Community Board 6 writes in to say: "Drugs that are flushed down the toilet may ultimately find their way into a nearby waterway, like the Gowanus Canal, particularly in the event of a Combined Sewer Overflow event. Help us keep our canal clean, sober and drug-free!"

DEA and local law enforcement agencies will be conducting the second National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 30, from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. This is a great opportunity for those who have accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs to safely dispose of them in places other than the toilet.

"Take Back" sites in the Brooklyn include:

*NYPD 78th Police Precinct, 65 6th Avenue (between Dean & Bergen Streets)
*NYPD 84th Police Precinct, 301 Gold Street
*FDNY Engine 220/Ladder 122, 530 11th Street (between 7th & 8th Avenues)
*FDNY Engine 205/Ladder 118, 74 Middagh Street, Brooklyn Heights

There are 12 sites so far in Brooklyn. Use link below to get most current listings, and to find a site near you:

Remember: The only good microbe is a sober, drug-free microbe.

Photo by Googlisti, Creative Commons license

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St. Patrick's Day in Brooklyn: Blarneypalooza at the Old Stone House

Get yer Irish Up at the third annual Blarneypalooza on Thursday, March 17, 8 p.m. -- St. Patrick's Day.

Blarneypalooza is a literary celebration of Irish writers and influence planned with Saint Patrick's Day in mind. These astoundingly talented artists will read/perform at the historic Old Stone House in Washington Park on 3rd Street between 4th and 5th Avenues at 8 p.m. (718-768-3195)

Larry Honig
Lynn McGee
Barbara O'Dair
Pat Smith's
Michele Madigan Somerville
Michael Sweeney

See Blarneypalooza to read more about these writers.
Guaranteed: No green beer!

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Disturbing Trend: Happy Hour Clowns

Everyone with an ounce of sense knows that clowns are possibly the scariest things in the world. A university study of hundreds of children, researching how to decorate the children's ward of a hospital, found that children find clown motifs "frightening and unknowable."

So you know what we mean when we say "happy hour" and "clowns" don't belong in the same sentence. Unless you're at Galapagos Art Space -- they're unleashing Happy Hour Clowns for one week only starting at the Saturday, March 19 Floating Kabarette (music by The Red Hook Ramblers, Jenny Rocha and Her Painted Ladies, Madame Rosebud, Ambrose “Manchego” Martos, Kris Olness and host Bastard Keith).

This is definitely not a show for children, unless your kids are over 21 and are into Steven King . . .

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Gowanus Canal: Buried Treasures? Bad News for Coffey Park; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Hoping the Gowanus Canal cleanup turns up old treasures. NY Times

- Brooklyn is the centerpiece of the city's waterfront plans.  Brooklyn Eagle

- One NYC-based non-profit could win free design resources, a free office space in DUMBO and consulting services for one year. PES Group

- Sad news for Red Hook's Coffey Park.  Reality Collective

- In a earthquake, Brooklyn will shake more than Manhattan.  McBrooklyn   

- A fake Brooklyn doctor who drugged and raped his unconscious female patients was sentenced to six years in prison Monday.  Brooklyn Eagle

- Glen Beck says Japan's earthquake is "message" to follow the Ten Commandments. NY Magazine 

- Special Report: A big California quake is likely to devastate the state.  Reuters 

- A very scary video of the Japanese Tsunami. Gizmodo

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nuclear Power Reactors Near New York City, and Their Earthquake Vulnerability

There are several operating nuclear power reactors within 100 miles of New York City, with varying levels of vulnerability to earthquakes.

- The closest is the Indian Point Energy Center, located 24 miles north of the city on the Hudson River. Indian Point 2 and 3 are operating and produce roughly 30 percent of the energy used by New York City; Indian Point 1 was permanently shut down in 1974.

Researchers from Columbia University have located a previously unknown active seismic zone (the "Ramapo Fault line system") running less than a mile north of Indian Point.  The plant was built to withstand an earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale; quakes higher than this are rare in the area.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), however, another problem festers at Indian Point: "The pools of spent fuel at Indian Point, which store significant volumes of radioactive material -- far more than inside the active nuclear reactors -- have no containment structure. However implausible it may be that this radioactive waste is exposed and unsecured, that is the case at Indian Point."  According to Riverkeeper, there are 1500 tons of radioactive waste stored onsite.

In 2001, Hillary Clinton said after visiting Indian Point that she favored expanding evacuation procedures to include a 50-mile radius around nuclear power plants, as opposed to the 10-mile radius then in place.

- The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Ocean County, New Jersey, is the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the United States (1969), and will be closing in 9 years. The plant is located 75 miles south of New York City. Earthquakes are rare in the area, though a 3.9 quake did hit last December. The plant does not have seismic sensors. A spokesperson for New Jersey Geological Survey’s geology bureau told Lakewood 24/6, “statistically, New Jersey could be overdue" for a bigger earthquake.

- The Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania is located in Limerick Township, northwest of Philadelphia, about 90 miles southwest of New York City. According to the Daily Local News, U.S. government regulators will soon be inspecting the Limerick reactor, along with the Peach Bottom nuclear plant, also in Pennsylvania, to see if it is at risk from earthquakes. Two small earthquakes rumbled not far from the plants in 2009.

- The Shoreham Nuclear Plant on Long Island, roughly 50 miles from Brooklyn, was closed by protests in 1989 without generating any commercial electrical power.

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How to Donate Money Directly To the Japanese Red Cross and Other Charities

- Google has set up a Japanese Crisis Response page with a direct donation link to the Japanese Red Cross. Donations are accepted in Japanese yen. $20 is approximately 1600 yen.

Donations are made through Google Checkout. If you don't have a Google account you can quickly set one up to make the donation, then take it down again if you don't want to keep the account.

- To donate to the American Red Cross, text REDCROSS to 90999 on your cell phone. This will send them $10.

- To send money to the Salvation Army for Japanese relief, text "Japan" or "Quake" to 80888 to make a $10 donation.

- Other ways to donate here

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

TSA Airport Scanner Tests Show More Radiation than Expected

Skin cancer, anyone? The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that it would retest all 247 full-body X-ray scanners at the nation's airports after maintenance records on some of the devices showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected, USA Today reports.

TSA insists the ionizing radiation devices are safe and the test results reflect "math errors" made by the inspectors, which actually doesn't inspire much confidence.  About a third off the tests show some kind of error.

Health professionals have expressed concern about over-radiation caused by miscalibrated scanners. No official government agency is responsible for the safety of the devices, so  it is left to the TSA to certify its own machines -- and much of the testing is performed by the manufacturer of the machines, Rapiscan.

Rapiscan said their employees made so many math mistakes on the machine inspection tests because they "were confused by inspection forms and instructions."

Be very careful.

See USA Today for the full story.

 Photo from Wild/

- TSA Now Groping People Getting Off Trains

- Brooklyn Councilman Greenfield Launching TSA Abuse Web Site; Working to Ban Airport Scanners

- Opt Out of Airport Scanners, TSA Groping

- TSA Harassment Video Shows Lack of Real Security

- Full Body Scanners Rolling Out at LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Airports

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Navy Yard Developer and Kruger's Boyfriend Also Charged; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Developer at Brooklyn Nay Yard charged in bribery case with Sen. Carl Kruger.  TRD 

- Carl Kruger's secret longtime boyfriend, Manhattan gynecologist Michael Turano, helped launder $1 million, feds charged. NY Post

- Fight over Prospect Park Bike Lane heats up at last night's meeting.  NY1

- American Apparel sex slave lawsuit stayed by Brooklyn judge.  Brooklyn Eagle

- Brooklyn Heights makes it easy for crooks to break in. NY Times

- Man killed in barbershop shootout lost a son on 9/11.  NY Post 

- Annual Ghost Bike ride takes place this Sunday.  Gothamist

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Massive Quake and Tsunami Hit Japan - Live Feed

Live Videos by Ustream
Japan was struck by a 8.9 earthquake off the northeastern coast of the island on Friday afternoon. A ten-meter high tsunami has hit the coast, traveling 1 mile inland. Houses have been swept away, airports are closed, subway and bullet trains have been shut down, seven nuclear plants shut. 18 fires reported in Tokyo.The aftershocks continue to rock the island. The stock exchange has put its emergency plan into effect, according to Bloomberg news.

A 7.2 quake hit Japan earlier this week.

English-language live feed available at Al Jazeera.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eagle: Staples Coming to MetroTech, Downtown Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Eagle has learned from sources “on the street” that a Staples store has leased the former home of Sid’s Hardware at 345 Jay St. in MetroTech.

The space served briefly as a Toys R Us pop-up store during the recent holiday season.

More at the Eagle.

Photo copyright MK Metz

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UFO Over Williamsburg; Hamster Killer Charged with Felony; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- A New York teenager has been charged with a felony, with the possibility of a two-year prison sentence, for killing her family's pet hamster. Reuters

- A blue UFO sighted over Williamsburg was recorded on a man's cell phone Monday night. The resulting video is so unexciting it's probably real. WPIX (For probable explanation, see commenter Joe on Queenscrap.)

- Check out Brownstoner's 1900-ish photo of one of three major league baseball parks in Brooklyn back in the day. Brownstoner

- American Apparel sex allegations not surprising to Brooklyn Heights hipsters. Brooklyn Eagle

- Man found dead near MCU Park after Coney Island swim. Gothamist

- Here's your chance to design and work rent-free (for 6 months) in your own little slice of Brooklyn real estate. Check out Dekalb Market's Not Just A Container Design Competition. Core77

- More than half of city's killings occur in Brooklyn at night. Brooklyn Eagle

- More TSA screwups and criminal activity: Man gets on plane twice without a ticket; TSA agent slips drug dealer past security; and more. Gothamist

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Brooklyn Senator Carl Kruger to Surrender to Feds Thursday: Corruption Charges Likely

Brooklyn's State Senator Carl Kruger, ranking minority member of the powerful Finance Committee, is expected to turn himself in on Thursday to federal authorities in Manhattan on corruption charges, according to the New York Times.

Officials with the FBI plan to hold a news conference on Thursday to describe the charges. According to the NY Daily News, "The veteran Brooklyn Democrat will be charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors with using his influence as a public official to line his pockets."

A source told the NY Post that "Kruger will be the biggest name among a number of political and public people who will be charged or linked to the heretofore unknown Manhattan corruption case."

According to Gotham Gazette, Kruger has been under investigation for years for doing favors in return for campaign contributions.

From NY1: "Kruger was part of the so-called 'gang of four,' the Democratic state senators who considered caucusing with Republicans even after fellow Democrats took over the chamber in 2008. Ultimately, Kruger decided to stay put, even as two others bolted to the other side.With his expected arrest, three of the four members will have faced criminal charges."

Photo: Sen. Kruger received an award in Albany from the New York Association on Independent Living and the Center for Disability Rights.

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Brooklyn Eagle Looking to Move to Gowanus? Building On the Market

  Brownstoner reports a $3,000,000 listing for the building that houses the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper office at 30 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights.

The building is a 1.5 story, 6,300 SF mixed-use building, containing two apartments and 1 commercial unit. The Brooklyn Eagle chain occupies the ground floor.

We received this email from a contributor today: "Rumor is that the Brooklyn Eagle is looking at space in trendier (and less expensive) Gowanus and may have smaller branch office in DUMBO too. Eagle already has office space in Bay Ridge for the Bay Ridge Eagle. Sounds like they're "spreading their wings" to cover more neighborhoods...

Photo courtesy Massey Knakal

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Spitzer for Mayor? Quickie Court; Subway Near-Disaster; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- American Apparel owner's teen sex slave lawsuit is filed in Brooklyn court. Village Voice

- In related news, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer is toying with the idea of running for mayor of New York in 2013. Huff Post 

- Attorneys’ opening statements limited to minutes, no expert witnesses and a verdict by sundown:  There's a new kind of court in Brooklyn that's the legal equivalent of speed-dating. Brooklyn Eagle

- Disaster was narrowly avoided Monday when the doors of a subway car opened before it reached the platform at a Brooklyn station. NY1

- The Khalil Gibran Academy, the Arabic-themed public school with a history of controversy, may move from Fort Greene to Downtown Brooklyn. Brooklyn Eagle 

- How not to get sick from flying on an airplane. NY Times

- The Park Slope rap club controversy continues with the Battle of the Parody Petitions. Brooklyn race relation set back by oh, mebe a decade. Village Voice

- There's an app that erases Charlie Sheen from your Internet. Huff Post

- New York's murder rate for African Americans jumped 31 percent last year. Gothamist

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Job Fair in Prospect Lefferts Gardens

On Tuesday, March 22, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke will host a job fair from 10 .am. to 2:30 p.m. at the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club at 2245 Bedford Avenue. Her goal, she says, "is to connect prospective job candidates with prospective job employers from different industries across the city."

Click here to RSVP your attendance at this year’s job fair.

Via Brooklynian

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

'Wealthy, Politically Connected Group' Files Lawsuit Against Prospect Bark West Bike Lane

 Days before a major Prospect Park West bike lane public hearing to be held on Thursday, March 10, a "wealthy and politically connected group" has filed a lawsuit against the bike lane. According to the New York Times, the lawsuit was filed by a group with close ties to Iris Weinshall -- the wife of Senator Charles E. Schumer.

It accuses the Transportation Department of "misleading residents about the benefits of the lane, cherry-picking statistics on safety improvements and collaborating with bicycle activists to quash community opposition." According to Transportation Nation, the group wants a moratorium on all bike lane installation in the city.

According to Park Slope Patch, bike lane opponents claim that the “configuration requires pedestrians to walk across inconsistent traffic patterns with limited visibility.”

The Dept. of Transportation, however, provides statistics showing the bike lane is a success: speeding is down dramatically, crashes are down, injuries are down and bike ridership has doubled on weekends and tripled on weekdays.

Some interesting statistics from DOT's report: Before the bike lane, three out of four vehicles on Prospect Park West broke the speed limit. After the bike lane, only one out of five broke the speed limit. Additionally, crashes are down 16 percent, and crashes that cause injuries are down 63 percent.

According to Brooklyn Spoke, what’s on the table at Thursday's meeting are discussions about “modifications” to the bike lane. Apparently, those opposed to the lane want to either get rid of it altogether, change it from a protected lane to a painted Class II green lane running alongside traffic (handy for double parking!) or make it one way and move the other direction to another block.

Public Hearing Details: Thursday, March 10, 6:30 PM, John Jay High School Auditorium, 237 7th Ave, Between 4th and 5th Streets, Brooklyn.  (F train at 7th Avenue is the closest subway stop.)

Photo courtesy DOT

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BP Markowitz Makes Video to Lure Asian Investors to Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz made a video recently to lure Asian investors to the Atlantic Yards Project, telling them that "Brooklyn is 1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards."

There should be no language problem: "Land grab" is a term familiar to millions of Chinese farmers.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

More Than 100 Senior Centers, Many in Brooklyn, May Close

Seniors poured into Brooklyn Borough Hall on Friday to express their outrage over the proposed state cuts that would close more than 100 senior centers citywide by April.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, many of the centers slated to lose funding are in Brooklyn. A partial list includes: the St. Charles Jubilee Senior Center in Brooklyn Heights, the Bay Ridge Center for Older Adults, the Red Hook Senior Center, the Shalom Senior Center in Crown Heights, JASA (Jewish Association for Services to the Aging) centers in Williamsburg and Luna Park, the Fort Greene Senior Action Center and the Midwood satellite office of the Senior Citizens League of Flatbush (which Borough President Marty Markowitz headed in his 20s).

More at Brooklyn Eagle

Photo by Ethan Prater, Creative Commons license

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Cat Killers in Court; Tomb of the Unknown Cyclist; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Naming rights to attractions in Brooklyn Bridge Park could soon go up for sale to offset the $16 million annual maintenance budget. NY1

- Accused cat killers in court.  Brooklyn Eagle 

- Activists to install "Tomb of the Unknown Cyclist" at Brooklyn Borough Hall.  Brooklyn Paper

- Sad hipster is sad. In oh so many ways. Regretsy 

- Judicial Hearing Officers in Brooklyn and across the state are being fired due to budget cuts. The 300 experienced judges who get paid very little will be replaced by law clerks who get paid approximately three to four times as much. Brooklyn Eagle 

- Large, majestic but kinda scary dog has been living in Prospect Park for more than three years. Brooklynian

- Brooklyn Magazine, a full-color glossy with  features on illustrious local figures and a fiction section, debuts next week. The quarterly will launch with a 25,000-copy printing and will sell for $4.99. Crain's NY  

- A month-long installation at the Brooklyn Museum has sprouted a fabric forest of giant trees and mushrooms. WSJ 

- The 3-acre former site of the Thunderbolt, one of classic roller coasters of Coney Island’s golden era, is back on the market. Brooklyn Eagle

- The southeast corner of Dean Street and Underhill Avenue will soon have a new eating and drinking establishment. One Hanson Place

- Japan's health ministry has halted the use of vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi-Aventis SA following the deaths of four children. Reuters 

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Brooklyn, Home of the Urban Legend

 We all know that gigantic blind alligators live in the sewers under Brooklyn. It turns out that our borough is a popular setting for other Urban Legends as well.

Here are some Brooklyn-based Snopes claims -- all true, we swear:

Claim: Tropical Fantasy contains a special ingredient that will render black men sterile.
Status: False.
Origins: Tropical Fantasy was brought onto the market in September 1990 by Brooklyn Bottling, a small family-owned soft drink manufacturer. It was an overnight success, taking in $2 million plus a month. Until . . .
In April 1991 rumors began circulating in black neighborhoods that the beverage was laced with a secret ingredient that would cause sterility in black men, and that the Ku Klux Klan were the actual bottlers. Sales of the beverage plummeted by 70 percent. Get the full story here.

Claim: 5-year-old Christopher Mineo is missing from his Brooklyn home.
Status: False.
Origins: You get this email with a photo of a little boy: "I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE. I have a 5 year old son named Christopher John Mineo jr, Knick name C.J. I am from brooklyn N.Y. He has been missing since november of 98. Etc. etc. Get the story here.

Claim: Snapple, owned by three Jewish Brooklyn boys, is affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan.
Status: False
Origins: The beverage's former label's design pictured a ship in the background and the small letter K off to the side. Some claimed the vessel as a 'blackbirder,' a slave ship that brought enslaved Blacks to America. Look at the label closely, they would say, and you'll see captured Blacks in chains on the deck and crewmen further in the background wearing the distinctive Klansman sheet-and-hood. . .  More here.

Claim: Fortune cookies aren't Chinese, they're American -- specifically, from Brooklyn.
Status: True!
Origins: In 1992 Brooklyn-based Wonton Food expanded its existing fortune cookie business into China, building the very first fortune cookie factory in that land. But that project was short-lived. "Fortune cookies are too American," said a company VP. More here.

More Brooklyn legends here.

Photo by http207, Creative Commons license

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brooklyn's Two Young Republican Clubs Locked in War

Did you know that Brooklyn has not one but two young Republican clubs?

And they are at war with each other.

One is the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, founded (according to the Brooklyn Eagle) in 1880 during the James Garfield presidential election campaign.

The other is the Brooklyn Young Republicans Club (notice there's an "s" at the end of "Republicans"), founded a month ago.

Here's the kicker:

“This weekend, in an unprecedented sneak move, a handful of insider Republican operatives in charge of the Association of NYS Young Republican Clubs deceitfully revoked the Brooklyn Young Republican Club’s membership in order to admit Brooklyn Republican Chairman Craig Eaton’s Young Republicans into the state organization within 10 days from its first meeting,”said Republican Club leader Jonathan Judge.

And poof! The 131-year-old Brooklyn Young Republican Club looses its membership.

Read the full story here.

Photo by baejaar, Creative Commons license

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Tobacco Warehouse Back in Court; Brownstone Brooklyn Getting Richer; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- Tobacco Warehouse issue back in court, with more groups getting sued.  Brooklyn Eagle 

- Park Slopers terrified of Hip Hop?  Gawker says this; and Brooklynian says that. But the petition signers say WTF.

- Employees of cash-strapped states such as New Jersey, California and New York are retiring in droves -- trying to get out while they still have pensions.  DailyFinance 

- Brownstone Brooklyn is growing and getting richer.  Brooklyn Eagle

- Google Street View shows New York City tourists, abandoned baby.  Gothamist

- Long Island cops said a man who crashed a truck into a utility pole appeared to be on his way to carry out a mass killing. NY Post 

- California woman survives 35-mile terrifying ride on the hood of a minivan. NY Magazine

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Brooklyn Mutt Show Returns with 'Snook-a-Like' Contest

The second annual Brooklyn Mutt Show is coming to the Brooklyn Lyceum March 26th and 27th.

The Brooklyn Mutt show is a "Snootiness-Free celebration" of all mixed breed dogs, with categories such as "Best Kisser" "Best ears" and, a Dog Show first:
the "Snook-a-Like" contest -- for the dog that most resembles Jersey Shore's Snooki. Owners are encouraged to come dressed as other members of the cast... Kardashians are also acceptable.

Entrance is $25 which will benefit the Toby Project (

Foster Pup Parents are encouraged to bring their pups to compete in categories, free of charge, in the hopes of finding them forever homes. Their adoption info will be announced when they walk.

In addition to the gift bag of dog swag all contestants get, and a medal and/or honorable mention ribbon, there will be copious hugs and snorgles and on-site training tips from

Spectator admission is free as is the downstairs doggie play area. Spectators are encouraged to bring their dogs. Contestant swag bags can be purchased by non-contestants for a nominal fee that will support the Toby Project.

To register or for more information, email Regan.

227 4th Avenue - Brooklyn, NY  11215
Park Slope

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