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Vol. 6 No. 7, Nov. 1-15, 2009
dit, Part 2
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What’s up with the Q ? FRUSTRATION SPREADS ACROSS FOUR STATIONS Pages 5
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November 115, 2009
Publisher’s Notebook David J. Glenn
A one-man show Imagine this: You start your day with a local morning program on TV. You pick up a daily newspaper on your way to work. At lunch, you look over a financial newspaper. When you get back home, you look over your local community newspaper, and then turn on a national news channel on your satellite TV service. After dinner, you visit a chat room on an Internet site. Now imagine that all these media outlets you used were owned by one person. It’s not your imagination. The one person is Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation now owns – among many other outlets around the U.S. and the world – in the order of the scenario above: WPIX Channel 11 and WWOR Channel 9, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Bay News, Fox News, DirecTV, and My Space. And, if you think you can escape from this one-man show, you’ll soon find that more and more news and entertainment is being gobbled up by a handful of gigantic companies. There used to be a way to prevent this. The Federal Communications Commission once enforced regulations against “cross-ownership,” not allowing the same company to own both a newspaper and a television station in the same area. And there was a limit on how many radio stations a company could own in the same market. But under the Bush administration, which had a meaningful relationship with mega-corporations, the FCC became like an over-anxious party host to people such as Murdoch: “Leaving so soon? I won’t hear of it. Please, take another newspaper, and here, you simply must try more of these TV and radio stations.” It’s still too early to tell for sure, but I’m not overly confident that President Obama is much different. I fear that the kind of journalism that I came of age in –. the aftermath of Watergate and the still audible echoes of Edward R. Murrow and I.F. Stone - is, if not dead, in intensive care. A presidential election in which thousands of votes are uncounted and thousands more voters are illegitimately blocked from voting at all? An unprovoked attack on a country under cut-out-ofwhole-cloth pretenses? A steam-rolling of Coney Island in the name of progress but on course to destroy it? What, you expect full coverage of these things? Aren’t you more interested in the latest cewlebrity breakup,
Suzanne H. Glenn Editor
Writers Olga Privman Christina Pisano I. Friedin Michael Schlager Amadeo Constanzo Eric Lima Heeyen Park
Patrick Hickey Jr. Sports Editor
Contributors Kerry Donelli Jacqueline Donelli Matt Lassen Dale Neseman
David J. Glenn Publisher
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or which local politician is calling another local politician what name? I don’t think you are. You just probably think there is nothing you can do. Well, the fact that you’re reading this paper right now is something. Because as long as independent media refuses to die, Murdoch, Time-Warner, Viacom and the handful of other mega corporations can’t win.
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November 115, 2009
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The Marathon The annual 26.2 mile New York City Marathon kicks off Sunday, Nov. 1 at the Staten Island entrance to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, then through Brooklyn and the other boroughs. The New York Road runners started the run in 1970, and has held it every year since. The event has attracted runners from around the world.
A new multi-media project, Glass Bees, includes a depiction of Sheepshead Bay as “Venice, Brooklyn,” complete with gondolas! Christopher Williams and Jason Das, active
As we build this new section, we are offering free ads for private individuals. Call 347-492-4432.
transmissions and natural marine sounds as part of the project.
At the Brooklyn Center
Walt Whitman Theatre Direct from Kiev, this spectacular company of 65 dancers and musicians combines brilliant ballet techniques with traditional folk dance in a tribute to the culture, beauty and spirit of the Ukraine.
Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra
Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls
Saturday, Nov. 7, 12:45 p.m. Levenson Recital Hall
November 12-22 George Gershwin Theatre Directed by Mary Beth Easley A Mainstage Production Lost souls collide in a Bronx bar where the jukebox is out and the plants have all died. This hilariously compelling play, created by the Oscar, Tony, and Pulitzer winning author of Moonstruck and Doubt, delves into the hearts and dreams of five memorable characters desperately seeking deliverance.
Prep Center Student Recital Saturday, November 7, 2009 12:45pm Levenson Recital Hall
Virsky Ukrainian Dance Sunday, November 8, 20089 - 2pm Matinee
Conservatory Guitar Ensemble Tuesday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. Sam Levenson Recital Hall
Of Mice and Men Sunday, Nov. 22 3 p.m. Walt Whitman Theatre John Steinbeck’s literary masterpiece about a unique friendship between two migrant workers in pursuit of the American Dream is
“Venice, Brooklyn,” by Samantha LoSapio
in the New York’s local music scene, collected shore debris from Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay and recorded Coast Guard
FLEA MARKET Sunday Nov. 8 100 Vendors City Pitties Pet Adoption & ASPCA Spay Neuter Clinic 7am-5pm OLPH Church 545 - 60th St. Sunset Park www.CityPitties.org
FOR RENT Furnished Room East Flatbush $130/week Near transportation 646-420-4613 or 718-498-8002 STUDIO APARTMENT incl. gas/ electricity no pets, no washing machine Ideal for single person Bensonurst, near transportation 718-449-5014 brought to life by the Tony Award-winning Barter Theatre.
Assemblyman’s office on wheels
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’ mobile community office comes to the Kings Highway branch of the Brooklyn Public Library 2115 Ocean Ave. just off Kings Highway, on Friday, Nov. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. A staff member will be on hand to help community residents with problems, answer questions and discuss local issues. For more information call 718-743-4078.
2001-B Avenue U (at Ocean Avenue) Fax 718.679.9118 • email@example.com
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November 115, 2009
What’s up with the Q? The return commute from Manhattan hasn’t been easy By ERIC LIMA firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s finally 5 o’clock. You can now leave your office job in Manhattan, and get on the B or Q train to come home for the day.
he hour-long trip on the train has been tiring enough, especially during rush hour, but lately it’s been even harder – you can’t get off at your Avenue U stop. You can’t get off at Neck Road, either – you have to go to Sheepshead Bay and then backtrack. Your friend has the same trouble with Avenue H or Avenue M – he has to go to Kings Highway and then wait for the northbound train. If you don’t relish taking the train in the wrong direction and then waiting to go back, you can take the B3 bus shuttle. Not terribly convenient, either. The four local stations on the southbound Q line have been closed for renovations since last year – and won’t be reopened until sometime next year (the MTA is not saying exactly when). But even then, there won’t be much relief – the renovations will shift to the other side, closing the four stations on the trip to Manhattan. That phase of the project isn’t expected to be completed until at least the end of 2011. Meanwhile, commuters have to contend with fewer bus routes. In June, the MTA decided that there weren’t enough people using the Coyle Street /Avenue Y, Knapp Street /Avenue X, and Knapp Street /Avenue W bus stops, and discontinued them. Residents from Gerritsen Beach complained that the alternative BM4 bus route that runs along Gerritsen Avenue does not run as early or as frequent as the BM3 did. City Councilman Lew Fidler told Bay Currents that he had spoken with MTA officials and that they were considering restoring the BM3 service. Some residents have suggested that the number of hours during the day that MTA crews can work on the stations should be increased to speed up the project. Currently, under an agreement between the MTA and homeowners along the Brighton line, the MTA can only do work between 7a.m. and 5 p.m. MTA officials say they would need permission from the homeowners to increase the hours, and if so, would have to pay them (they didn’t have exact dollar amounts). Another option would be to completely shut down train service between Kings Highway and Prospect Park on weekends and shuttle people on buses the rest of the way. Officials say either option would speed up the project by only about three months, and even that’s not a certainty. “They couldn’t guarantee,” Fidler said. “We are still waiting for answers from them.” Straphangers have no doubt that the stops along the Q train need renovation. For years residents complained that the eight foot wide platforms were dangerous in icy and wet weather, or that the lighting and public address systems need improvement, and that the Kings Highway station needs a new elevator. But at any moment of the day the changes of the daily commute needed to complete these renovations can change “The MTA is constantly shifting dates,” said Gene Russianoff, chief spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign. “They can’t figure out how long the project was first scheduled to last, or how much it was budgeted for. There’s no way to tell what they initially planned, or if they made any changes along the way.” A report by the New York Citizens Budget Commission found that the MTA needs a “management information system for tracking capitol projects and greater transparency in informing the public about the status of its capital projects.” The report also found that there needs to be a more realistic assessment of what can be accomplished because one-quarter of the 365 projects approved between 2000 and 2004, “had not reached the stage expected when the plan was approved.” Planning these projects is no doubt extremely difficult. Who could have foreseen that the newsstand at the Sheepshead Bay station at the Voorhies Avenue entrance would lose www.BayCurrents.net
$400 a day because people would switch to the shuttle buses because of the project? Ali Raza, who runs the newsstand, says he used to make $800 a day, but since the rehabilitation project began about a month ago, he’s been making only $400. “We make most of our money in the morning and when people come from work. Now they don’t have time to shop here because they are afraid they will get to work late. People used to come everyday at the same time except weekends. Now they take the shuttle busses and they don’t come to me,” Raza said. Usually the MTA has already written into their budgets the re-imbursement of MTA tenants who lose money due to large capital projects. But in Raza’s case, the MTA is not directly to blame since the station isn’t shut down, said Ellyn Shannon of Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “People would walk by and now they are being shuttled? I don’t expect compensation,” she said. Riders seem to have mixed feelings about the renovations. They don’t relish the inconvenience, but they welcome station improvements. Nick Khmialweski is a computer systems analyst who catches the Q train at Neck Road, two blocks from the house he’s lived in for the last three years. He says a modern train station at Neck Road would be more comfortable and convenient, and is worth the wait. “I don’t mind. I think the new technology will be better,” he said. A Russian-American woman, who didn’t want to give her name, who takes the train at Sheepshead Bay, took it all in stride. “It’s like if they’re installing a new bathroom in your house, you use your neighbor’s,” she said. “A lot of these repairs are long overdue, and maybe they are taking longer,” said Russianoff, “but one of the problems of doing work in New York City is that we are one of the only cities in the world that operates on a 24-hour basis, so when they do night repairs, or in this case stop [a portion of] service, it often takes them longer to do because of the operating environment they are working in.” To get instructions for your particular trip, you can visit www.tripplanner.com and enter your date of travel.
The project in detail • Replacement and widening of station platforms November 115, 2009
• Replacement of windscreens and canopies • Construction of ADA-compliant elevators at the Kings Highway station • New station agent booths • Restoration of the historic station house at the Avenue H station • Creation of an additional southbound entrance at Avenue H Creation of additional fare entrances to the northbound platform areas of the Avenue J and Avenue M stations • Upgrade of station lighting • Enhancement of architectural treatments • Installation of new public address systems.
Phase 1 - Avenue U and Neck Road construction To Early 2010: Coney Island-bound trains skip Avenue U and Neck Road. Customers who need to exit at Avenue U or Neck Road should take the train to Sheepshead Bay and transfer to a Manhattan-bound train. The B3K shuttle bus will operate along the B3 route to/from Kings Highway during evening rush hours. Early 2010 to Early 2011: Manhattan-bound trains make local stops between Sheepshead Bay and Prospect Park, bypassing Neck Road and Avenue U. Customers at Neck Road or Avenue U should take the train to Sheepshead Bay and transfer to a Manhattan-bound train. The B3K shuttle bus will operate along the B3 route to/ from Kings Highway during morning rush hours. Coney Island-bound trains make local stops. Phase 2 - Newkirk Plaza, Avenue H, Avenue J, Avenue M and Kings Hwy construction Fall 2009 to Fall 2010: Coney Island-bound trains make local stops between Prospect Park and Kings Highway, bypassing Avenue H and Avenue M. Customers who need to exit at Avenue H or Avenue M should take the train to Kings Highway and transfer to a Manhattan-bound train. Manhattan-bound trains make local stops. Fall 2010 to Fall 2011: Manhattan-bound B and Q trains make local stops between Kings Highway and Prospect Park, bypassing Avenue M and Avenue H. Customers at Avenue M or Avenue H should take the train to Kings Highway and transfer to a Manhattan-bound train. Coney Island-bound trains make local stops. Page 5
From Russia, with money The only billionaire that the Russian-speaking community in Brighton Beach is used to seeing is Mayor Bloomberg, but last month the residents were set to welcome – or at least see –a billionaire from their homeland. It didn’t happen. Mikhail Prokhorov, a 44-year-old bachelor and Russia’s richest man with assets of some $9.5 billion, came to New York the week of Oct. 19 to ink a deal to buy 80 percent of the New Jersey Nets and 45 percent of Bruce Ratner’s planned arena in the Atlantic Yards of Brooklyn, the Nets’ projected new home. But he apparently thought that the “Little Odessa” of Brighton Beach, the center of America’s Russian-immigrant community, was not worth his time. “We’re just not on his [ﬁnancial] level,” said Sergey Kovalyov, executive director of the Russian-American Community Coalition based in Brighton and Sheepshead Bay. Nonetheless, earlier in October, many area Russian-Americans expressed good feelings about Prokohov’s investment in their adopted country. “He’s going to spend a lot of money in Brooklyn,” said Mikhail Kurov, a graphic designer who emigrated to the U.S. from St. Petersburg in 1996. Mikhail Prokhorov “He loves basketball – when he owned a basketball team in Russia, it won everything possible.” Kurov said the all-but-done deal reminded him of the purchase a few years ago of a London soccer team, the Chelsea, by another Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich. “He invested billions into it,” Kurov said. “It became a top soccer team in Europe, and it was very good for England.” Kovalyov said of the Nets deal, “I think it’s a positive thing.”
ON THE JOB, AND GETTING RESULTS That’s Our Councilman
■ Obtained millions for improvements in our neighborhood ■ Voted against property tax increase and fought to keep the $400 property tax rebate ■ Prevented closing of our senior centers and firehouses ■ Made sure our public libraries remain open six days a week ■ Secured millions to improve our local schools
ON NOVEMBER 3RD, VOTE TO RE-ELECT COUNCILMAN
Michael Nelson Paid for by Nelson 2009
November 115, 2009
THE COMMUNITY BOARDS
By KATERYNA STUPNEVICH email@example.com
ommunity Board 15 members have been trying to get the MTA to reduce the amount of time for the renovations along the B and Q lines (cover story, page 5), but so far have not had much success, the board reported at its Oct. 27 monthly meet-
ing at Kingsborough Community College. They also have been pushing for an elevated express lane over the Belt Parkway from Ocean Avenue to Kennedy Airport, but reported no headway for that, either. The board members said they had not gotten much attention, either, for needed funding for parks, street paving, and sewerpipe replacement The board members voted unanimously to rename several neighborhood streets in
memory of several outstanding late residents: The corner of East 21st Street and Emmons Avenue will honor Sheila Nelson, a community activist and previous teacher of “high risk” students. She was the wife of City Councilman Michael Nelson. The corner of West 5th Street and Wolf Place will be titled after Ken Siegelman, a writer, poet, and a veteran teacher. The corner of West End Avenue and Cass Place will honor Rabbi Joseph I. Singer, a spiritual leader in the community. The corner of East 4th Street and Avenue W will be renamed after Sister Jane Talbot, a pastoral minister. And, the corner of Whitney and Gerritsen Avenue will serve as a memorial and a tribute to all veterans, to be called “Veteran’s Memorial Way.” Community Board 15 meets every last Tuesday of the month at Kingsborough Community College at 2001 Oriental Boulevard, in the faculty dinning room. For more information, call 718-332-3008 or visit www.nyc.gov/brooklyncb15
CB 18 By CHRISTINA PISANO firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of Community Board 18 hope their efforts do go down the drain. The board has been lobbying for the reconstruction of sewer drains – officially called catch basins - throughout the neighborhood. At its monthly meeting on Oct. 21, the board members said the work is scheduled to begin next summer. In further improvements, the Board has set among its priorities in the fiscal year 2010 capital budget the reconstruction of severely potholed streets across the neighborhood,
and the construction of pedestrian safety fences, traffic islands, and street lights at various points. Also in the budget are plans to reconstruct Marine Park’s bike lanes, make other improvements to Marine Park as well as in Canarsie Park, and upgrade the Breukelen and Glenwood Houses. The CB 18 members also discussed the complaints from many residents of dangerous ice patches on residential roads during the winter, particularly in Mill Basin. The board has been asking the Department of Sanitation to add more than the designated seven sections of salt spreaders. Switching to thoughts of warmer weather, the board announced that its efforts to get the city to accept applications for block-party permits online had paid off – the board was informed that applicants may now file via cyberspace. The voting on alcoholic-beverage license renewals for various establishments throughout the neighborhood continued with Sbarro at 5288 Kings Plaza, leaving Strike 10 at 6161 Strickland Ave. the only site to date to be denied a renewal. The 63rd Police Precinct had reported several incidents of disorderly behavior there, resulting in robberies, shootings, and arrests. Community Board 18 meets the third Wednesday of each month, most often at the Kings Plaza Community Room at Flatbush Avenue and Avenue V. CB18 can be reached at 718-241-0422 for questions or concerns, including information on upcoming board meetings. Editor’s Note: Community Board 13 met Wednesday evening, Oct. 29, past Bay Currents’ deadline. We will have a report on the meeting in the next issue and on our website, www.baycurrents.net.
Come study the
with us Wednesday evenings at
You can even make a windmill… Nature Center offers woodworking workshop By HEEYEN PARK email@example.com
Have you ever looked at an interesting chair or table and thought, “I’ll bet it would be exciting to make something like that…”? Well, here’s your chance. The Salt Marsh Nature Center offers a Tuesday afternoon Woodworking Workshop, taught by Bob Kaplan Kaplan related how the workshop started two and a half years ago: “The Nature Center needed something to hold the display things in here. I started to make them here and people who visited were interested in how to make those things. I agreed to run it as an ongoing program. The people who knew about it brought friends and other people in the neighborhoods.” The class is free, and as long as you’re at least 18 years old, all you have to bring is yourself. “All the tools we need to build just about anything are available in class,” Kaplan said. Participants work in groups to construct tables, cabinets, magazine shelves, and, of course, an 8-foot tall windmill – items that will be used by the Nature Center. Kaplan first teaches the class how to properly use the tools – this is an essential first step, since many of the tools can be dangerous if not handled right. He goes around to each group and guides the students in their project. The class usually meets indoors but if it’s a nice day the class is held outside on the grounds of the Nature Center. Kaplan, who volunteers his time, says he really enjoys teaching woodworking. “People are interest in it,” he said, adding that some of his students have been participating for more than two years. The class meets every Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, call the Nature Center at 718-421-2021.
November 115, 2009
Young Israel of Bedford Bay We will welcome you in a warm, spiritual environment 8 p.m.
Free and open to members and non-members Call us about the many other programs and activities for all ages at Young Israel 2114 Brown Street (off Avenue U) Marine Park
Yankees win, Mets fans lose BY KATERYNA STUPNEVICH firstname.lastname@example.org
ets fans weren’t surprised, nor were they thrilled, to see the Yankees take home the big win against the Los Angeles Angels, 5-2, in Game 6 of the American
League Champion Series which advanced them into the World Series for the first time since 2003. At the Homestretch Pub Bar at 214 Kings Highway, the usual baseball-crazed crowd appeared to be more concerned with the outcome of the Giants vs. Cardinals game than with the deciding Yankee game. “I’m a Mets fan, I know the Yankees are going to win, but I want them to lose,” Frankie “Star,” a Bensonhurst local and a bartender at the pub, said as the game began,. As a baseball lover, Frankie still continued to watch the game, but he
was hoping on a loss for the New York team. The rest of the 15-or-so bar-flies were peeking at the game out of the corners of their eyes, some watching halfheartedly, but the passion that only true baseball fans carry was missing. That’s when it became clear – the room was full of Mets fans! “When you hate, you hate with your heart. We hate the Yankees!” said Frankie. As the Yankees maintained their 3-1 lead over the Angels, patrons at this particular bar were not overjoyed. Fully confident in Yankees’ victory, spectators gathered their belongings, paid for their beers, and left. With about 10 of them left at the bar, the enthusiasm thinned, and got thinner with every Yankee homerun. Brooklyn native Carl Larson, now a Philadelphia resident and a frequent visitor of his hometown, said his preference in teams changed after he left the Big Apple. “I don’t want the Yankees to win,” he said before leaving the bar, “I used to be a Mets fan, but since I moved to Philadelphia, I’m a Phillies’ fan.” “I know the Angels can’t beat the Yankees, I know it in my heart,” said Frankie. He said he wasn’t a Yankee fan because he didn’t like the construction of the team and politics within the franchise. “They go out and buy a team. They have no respect for the good players they do have,” he said. “I hate the Yankees, but I give respect when it’s needed. Andy Pettitte – good pitcher, A-Rod – good player; they proved themselves.” Sam Shabovioi, a Yugoslavian-American who has been in the country for decades, said that even though he doesn’t know the game well, when Yankees play, he’s a Yankee fan. “Mets, Yankees, if they win I’m happy, because I’m a New Yorker.”
Way ahead of its time
enturies before the idea of feminism or women’s equal rights was ever uttered, Gravesend was actually founded by a woman: Lady Deborah Moody. A land patent was granted to the English settlers by Gover-
House of Lady Deborah Moody
nor Willem Kieft on Dec. 19, 1645. The lady has a school named after her on at 87 Bay 49th Street: P.S. 212, The Lady Deborah Moody School.a
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November 115, 2009
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November 115, 2009
Nutrition Q & A How important is proper nutrition for seniors? It’s very important. Seniors who aren’t getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients may face a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration in the eyes, heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, and diabetes, to name just a few. But regular exercise and healthier food choices can lower the risks. It’s a fact that people are living longer, and we must take a close look at how to make those additional years high in quality. The problem that we face now is educating people regarding what a “healthy diet” looks like. What are the three biggest issues barring seniors from eating nutritious meals? That is debatable, and I can certainly think of more than three, but I’ll narrow them down. The first big issue is loneliness. Many seniors live alone and/or live with depression and this can certainly cause a loss of appetite. Many seniors in this sort of predicament find that cooking for one is simply not worth it. Likewise, eating alone and lacking the companionship minimizes the enjoyment that eating had in the past. Another big issue facing seniors is a multifaceted one, but primarily involves logistics. Many seniors no longer drive, and may have difficulty getting to the grocery store to get needed items in order to prepare healthy meals. Likewise, many seniors experience declining health decline that only further serves as a barrier to getting out to the grocery store. The third issue, of course, is one of chronic illness and the associated affects that these diseases have on one’s appetite. Many seniors experience chronic illnesses that are managed by medications, and often the side effects of these medications include loss of appetite, nausea, and the like. In addition, the aging body experiences changes such as decreased taste and smell, making foods that used to be enjoyable seem
bland or otherwise uninteresting. What can seniors and caregivers do to improve their nutrition education? There are so many fad diets, quick-fixes, and scams in the nutrition arena these days that it may be difficult to truly educate yourself on the nutritional aspects of foods. But, a great place to start is at the grocery store. Shop in the perimeter of the store – that’s where the healthiest and most beneficial foods are kept. Fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, eggs, healthy whole grains, and lean meats are all there for the choosing! For the most part, fresh, natural foods are the healthiest choices and are easy to find. Use the latest food pyramid (at right) developed specifically for seniors. What are the benefits of nutrition therapy? Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food.” Healthy foods keep us in excellent condition and keep chronic illnesses at bay, for the most part. The foods one chooses to eat certainly play a large part in one’s overall health status. For example, eating low sodium, whole foods is a great way to avoid high blood pressure and is a much better (and cheaper) option than eating unhealthy foods and waiting for high blood pressure to attack, then treating the high blood pressure with medications while continuing to eat the unhealthy foods. Preventing illness through nutritional therapy has excellent health benefits and very few adverse side effects. How important is socialization for improving senior nutrition? We are all social creatures. And good food and good company go hand-in-hand, and certainly that fact does not go away as we age. We tend to associate food with memories –
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Parkinson’s disease is a devastating illness. It mainly strikes people in their late 50s; however, about 10% of cases are “Young Onset,” affecting people under the age of 40. Initial symptoms are usually tremor and muscle rigidity. Within time, many people develop problems walking. “Freezing” is when the patients become unable to initiate steps. This puts patients at very high risk of falling.
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!
–- From seniorslovetoknow.com and Vicki Anensen-McNealley, PhD, RN, director of assisted living for the Washington Health Care Association
Parkinson’s breakthrough comes to Brooklyn
I am home
fresh baked bread on cold winter days, warm chocolate chip cookies shared with friends after school, church potlucks, big holiday meals – the list goes on and on. Even people in nursing homes or assisted living facilioties need socialization during meals. Many long-term care communities encourage their care staff to sit and enjoy meals with the residents they care for. This enhances not only the meal, but also the relationship between the caregiver and the person receiving the care.
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new device, developed by an aerospace engineer in Israeli, is providing dramatic improvement to patients suffering from Parkinsonian gait disorders. The GaitAid device is a non-invasive, riskfree aid which brings about a lasting improvement. One of the few physical therapists in America to use the device is Ben Weinstock, PT, who treats Medicare patients in Brooklyn. Ben says, “I have used the GaitAid for my patients with varying stages of Parkinson’s Disease, in addition to those suffering from other neurological disorders. The GaitAid has become a mainstay of my treatments, as it provides visual and auditory cues during gait training. All too often
November 115, 2009
therapy concentrates on movements but neglects sensory inputs. With the GaitAid it is easy to provide true ‘sensorimotor’ physical therapy.” People with movement disorders often deal with a greatly diminished quality of life as a result of walking problems. These debilitating and potentially life threatening problems, often, don’t respond well to drugs which themselves bring unwanted side effects. For most, surgery does not offer a better alternative. The portable GaitAid unit hooks onto the patient’s pants. A computer processor inside the device measures walking movement. The processor offers feedback while the person is walking by providing visual and auditory cues through special glasses and earphones. To train with the GaitAid, one takes a walk for 5-30 minutes while wearing the device. The feedback mechanism provides rewarding stimuli for good movement making the training enjoyable. Patients often report high motivation during their training. Weinstock reports that “the biggest surprise is that it even helps chronic conditions and late-stage Parkinson’s.” To learn more about GaitAid, contact: Ben Weinstock, PT Weinstock Physical Therapy, PC “The Physical Therapy Office That Travels to the Patient”™ (718) 891-0780 www.BayCurrents.net
IT'S IN THE
Scaling new worlds – with robots and orbiting spacecraft like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. However, that information is just relayed and not shared amongst the spacecraft or used to directly control them. “We are basically heading toward making robots that command other robots,” said Fink, who is director of Caltech’s Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Laboratory, where this work has taken place. “One day an entire fleet of robots will be autonomously commanded at once. This armada of robots will be our eyes, ears, arms and legs in space, in the air, and on the ground, capable of responding to their environment without us, to explore and embrace the unknown,” he added. Papers describing this new exploration are published in the journal “Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine” and in the Proceedings of the SPIE. For more information on this work, visit http://autonomy.caltech.edu . More information on JPL missions is at http:/www.jpl. nasa.gov/. – From the California Institute of Technology
Last issue, we reported on NASA’s plans to send unmanned probes to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
n armada of robots may one day fly above the mountain tops of Saturn’s moon Titan, cross its vast dunes and sail in its liquid lakes. But Wolfgang Fink, visiting associate in physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, is looking way beyond simple probes. He says we are on the brink of a great paradigm shift in planetary exploration, and the next round of robotic explorers will be nothing like what we see today. “The way we explore tomorrow will be unlike any cup of tea we’ve ever tasted,” said Fink, who was recently appointed as the Edward and Maria Keonjian Distinguished Professor in Microelectronics at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “We are departing from traditional approaches of a single robotic spacecraft with no redundancy that is Earth-commanded to one that allows for having multiple, expendable low-cost robots that can command themselves or other robots at various locations at the same time.” Fink and his team members at Caltech, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the University of Arizona are developing autonomous software and have built a robotic test bed that can mimic a field geologist or astronaut, capable of working independently and as part of a larger team. This software will allow a robot to think on its own, identify problems and possible hazards, determine areas of interest and prioritize targets for a close-up look. The way things work now, engineers command a rover or spacecraft to carry out certain tasks and then wait for them to be executed. They have little or no flexibility in changing their game plan as events unfold; www.BayCurrents.net
Artist’s conception of orbiter, airblimps, rovers and robots working together (Caltech/ESA/NASA/JPL photo)
for example, to image a landslide or volcanic eruption as it happens, or investigate methane dispersal. “In the future, multiple robots will be in the driver’s seat,” Fink said. These robots would share information in almost real time. This type of exploration may one day be used on a mission to Titan, Mars and other planetary bodies. Current proposals for Titan would use an orbiter, an air balloon and rovers or lake landers. In this mission scenario, an orbiter would circle Titan with a global view of the moon, with an air balloon or airship floating overhead to provide a birds-eye view of mountain ranges, lakes and canyons. On the ground, a rover or lake lander would explore the moon’s nooks and crannies. The orbiter would “speak” directly to the air balloon and command it to fly over a certain region for a closer look. This aerial balloon would be in contact with several small rovers on the ground and command them to move to areas identified from overhead. “This type of exploration is referred to as tier-scalable reconnaissance,” said Fink. “It’s sort of like commanding a small army of robots operating in space, in the air and on the ground simultaneously.” A rover might report that it’s seeing smooth rocks in the local vicinity, while the airship or orbiter could confirm that indeed the rover is in a dry riverbed - unlike current missions, which focus only on a global view from far above but can’t provide information on a local scale to tell the rover that indeed it is sitting in the middle of dry riverbed. A current example of this type of exploration can best be seen at Mars with the communications relay between the rovers November 115, 2009
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November 115, 2009
Justice for Billy By KATERYNA STUPNEVICH email@example.com
Nothing can ever rectify the 25 years that Vito “Billy” Albanese Jr. spent battling a traumatic brain injury, struggling in hospitals and facing abuse in special-needs facilities; but today, he serves as an inspiration for “Billy’s Law” – a legislation made to prevent Billy’s tragic story from reoccurring. Billy’s experience “is a sad story but it’s a good story as far as Billy’s Law is concerned,” said Billy’s father, 71-year-old Bay Ridge native, Vito Albanese Sr. With the help of Albanese, Councilman Vincent J. Gentile was instrumental in passing the law on a state level in 2005 and again on a city level just a few weeks ago. The state law mandates assessment of outof-state facilities and is made to “build capacity” within New York for special-needs students. The local legislation requires the Department of Education to conduct bi-annual reports on out-of-state facilities that house special-needs New York residents in order to prevent abuse and neglect. The law was also passed in New Jersey in 2008. “A lot of the [facilities], on the outside are good, but once you get into the guts of the program, it’s nonexistent,” said Albanese. “The potential for abuse is always there.” Dressed in a brick red t-shirt, and a pair of light blue jeans, Albanese’s voice shook as he spoke about what his son faced. “Billy has been victimized quite a few times in his life,” he said. Billy, now 37, is tall and slender, with dark features and a genuine smile. When asked how he felt about “Billy’s Law,” he replied eagerly, “Very excited.” Billy’s childhood was spent relocating from state to state with his mother and his sister. Although Billy’s parents were divorced and his mother was granted sole custody, Albanese strived to remain a part of his children’s lives. But Albanese’s efforts proved to be unsuccessful since his ex-wife was always on the move; he didn’t know where his children were.
Billy Albanese (seated) with his father, Vito. BAY CURRENTS PHOTO / Kateryna Stupnevich
Albanese’s ex-wife had five children by four different men and in 1976, when Billy was five years old, his mother placed him and his younger sister in foster care. He spent seven years in 12 different foster homes, separated from his sister. “When he was in the foster care system, it destroyed him,” said Albanese, “It’s a horror show, it’s horror story.” While in foster care, 12-year-old Billy suffered a traumatic brain injury – a disability that was essentially unknown in 1984. Albanese said that Billy was the first person in New York to be diagnosed with an injury of that classification. “This disability is very unique because he wasn’t born that way,” he said. “He remembers normal, that’s scary for him.” Because of the injury, Albanese was able to remove Billy from foster care and obtain legal guardianship, but not with-
out a fight. While battling for Billy’s custody, Albanese faced the same judge that rrefused to grant him custody of his children years ago, and even under the traumatic circumstances, the court still wanted to return Billy to his mother. Albanese recalled speaking to the judge during the custody battle, “I asked him ‘What are you giving me back now? How dare you give me back something that is not my son anymore?’ He had no answer to that one.” Billy’s traumatic brain injury placed him in a coma. Initially, he was taken to a hospital in Long Island, but in January of 1985, four months into his coma, Albanese transferred him to Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, N.J. Albanese said that Billy’s condition was severe; he remembered Billy being in a complete fetal position for a while. Two months later, after several operations, Albanese received the best news he could have hoped for – Billy’s brain began operating; he was alive but he wasn’t the same as before the injury, he still had a mental disability and physical handicap. “That was a great day,” said Albanese, “It brings back a lot of good and bad memories.” After Billy returned from the hospital, Albanese arranged for him to enroll in the public school system, but that placement wasn’t successful since Billy needed attentive care and specialized education. In 1992, Albanese enrolled Billy in Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, N.H. – a school that he hoped would provide quality education and job training for Billy. But instead, apparently Billy had been physically abused by the staff members at the facility. He allegedly was punched, beaten, and knocked out of his wheelchair. Albanese promptly withdrew Billy from the facility, filed and won a lawsuit against the institution, and began searching for another placement. He enrolled Billy in a New Jersey facility, with hopes that Billy would be closer to home. “The school is an excellent place,” said Albanese, “But the residential part of that school was very abusive to him.” Albanese said that the staff members would restrain Billy, yell at him, put him to the floor, and even went as far as threatening his life if he were to tell anyone about incidents that occurred in the facility. Consequently, Albanese wasn’t aware of Billy’s abuse until after he was discharged, in 1997. As a last resort, Albanese arranged a placement for Billy in a Long Island facility through a state agency. Billy Continued on p. 15
1229 Avenue Y (off East 12th Street) Suite 5C • Phone 718-368-2322 • Fax 718-368-3938 • mairalaw.com www.BayCurrents.net
November 115, 2009
By the Bay Currents staff
Do the math! ACROSS 3 Square _________ 6 2x = 10 8 Odds 11 3.14 12 Four equal sides 13 Triangle with no equal sides 15 Length times width 16 Around the circle 19 Never meet 20 Base 2 21 Most frequent 23 Touching the circle at one point 24 Pythagorean _____
DOWN 1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 14 17 18 22
Each Bay Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically without guessing. Enter digits from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces. Every row must contain one of each digit. So must every column, as must every 3x3 square.
Four-sided Average Half the diameter “upside downd” fraction Proportion Side opposite the right angle Triangle with 2 equal sides Opposite of divide Less than zero X Number raised tothe third power 5 to the zero power = ___________
Now that’s a title! Brighton Beach is featured in a 1990s Russian spy-comedy that has what has to be among the longest titles in movie history, if not the longest: There’s Good Weather in Deribasovskaya, It’s Raining Again in Brighton Beach. The ﬁlm, with subtitles in English, revolves around a love aﬀair between Soviet superspy Fyodor Sokolov and beautiful CIA agent Mary Star, who partner to provide security for a meeting between the presidents of the USA and USSR.
by Matt Lassen
November 115, 2009
Halloween face-paints scary in more ways than one If your little goblins or vampires are set to paint their faces this Halloween, you may want to think twice. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has just released a report, Pretty Scary: Could Halloween Face Paint Cause Lifelong Health Problems? Researchers tested 10 facepaint products, the types widely available on the Internet and in craft and Halloween stores. “All 10 face-paint products tested contained lead, and six out of the 10 had known skin allergens, including nickel, cobalt or chromium, at levels above recommendations of industry studies,” said Stacy Malkan, the campaign’s co-founder and a co-author of the report. Malkan is also the author of Not Just a Pretty Face, a 2007 book detailing what she sees as the potentially hazardous ingredients in cosmetics. “We looked for a range of heavy metals, and we didn’t find mercury or arsenic,” she said. “Other countries have found those in face paints. We did unfortunately find lead in all the products.” Exposure to lead can cause developmental and behavioral problems, experts agree. Then there were the labeling problems, with some products claiming to be hypoallergenic when they were not. One product “was advertised on the package as nontoxic and hypoallergenic, but had some of the highest levels of nickel, cobalt and lead,” Malkan said. The lead found ranged from 0.054 parts per million to 0.65 parts per million.
Four of 10 products had nickel, ranging from 2.1 to 5.9 parts per million; two of 10 had cobalt, with levels from 4.8 to 5.5 parts per million. Five of 10 had chromium, ranging from 1.6 to 120 parts per million. According to the report, levels of each should not exceed 1 part per million for consumer products. Earlier this year, a face-paint from China was recalled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when some children had rashes and itching; the FDA later found microbial contamination in the product. Malkan says more oversight is needed by the FDA to regulate products, including face paints. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to pre-market approval by the FDA, except color additives. Recalls of cosmetics are done voluntarily by manufacturers or distributors if products are found hazardous or deceptive; the FDA can take regulatory action through the federal court system. But this level of oversight is not strong enough, Malkan and others believe. What’s a parent to do? Using the face paint just once a year likely will not be a problem, contended Dr. Dennis Woo, former chair of pediatrics at Santa MonicaUCLA and Orthopaedic Hospital, who reviewed the report. But he said he is surprised by the amounts of heavy metals found in the face paints. “We should start looking at this stuff. There’s no reason these heavy metals need to be in cosmetics.” His colleague, Dr. Wally Ghurabi, chief of emergency services, Santa Mon-
ica-UCLA and Orthopaedic Hospital, believes that even once-a-year use of the face paints may not be worth it. “Concerned parents should skip it,” he said. If those who apply the paints aren’t careful and get the paint too close to the eyes or nose, that could be potentially harmful, he said. Malkan agrees that children should avoid using face paint altogether. But if you are using them, the FDA advises: Follow directions carefully, including instructions not to use the products around the eyes. If the face paint smells bad, don’t use it – it could be contaminated. Consider a test of the face paint a few days before Halloween to be sure your child doesn’t get an allergic reaction to it. Another option is to “go natural,” said Jessa Blades, a natural makeup artist and green living expert. There’s an array of “green” cosmetics available. Consider black eye pencil for whiskers. Or mix a quarter teaspoon of the spice turmeric with unscented lotion to make “war paint.”For fake blood, mix corn syrup, Castile liquid soap and a dash of red food coloring.
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Continued from p. 13 was in the facility for over half a year, but once Albanese learned that the staff was apparently overmedicating his son, he immediately withdrew Billy. “I found him to be like a zombie,” said Albanese. Billy has been home under the care of his father for the past seven years. As Albanese spoke about his concern of getting older and what will happen to Billy, his eyes glanced around – he didn’t know what would happen. “I’m in this for 25 years, it’s not like it just started yesterday,” he said. “As you get older, it takes its toll on you.” But Albanese doesn’t plan on giving up any time soon. Currently, he is actively looking for another placement for Billy. He hopes to find a facility in New Jersey, through an acquaintance who is an advocate against abuse and neglect. But he admits that his past experiences with out-of-state special needs facilities left him anxious and worried. “If I place him again, do I sleep anymore?” he asked. “Most of these places are about proper staff and training,” he explained. “It takes a whole lot to put together a real good place, from the top down, from the management…down to the janitor. Everyone is involved with the placement.” Albanese says that he is proud that “Billy’s Law” was finally passed in New York, but now he wants to see “the fruits of it.” He doesn’t consider himself a hero, but rather thinks that he was just doing the right thing. “I had to do what I had to do,” he said. “I was only one person, but I was one person on a mission.” Luckily, Albanese wasn’t entirely alone. He says that Billy frequently traveled with him to Albany and did his best to participate. Albanese hopes to speak with the mayor and city council president about the rights of disabled children, and to continue trying to improve the conditions that special needs students face in facilities and schools across the country. He would like to see “Billy’s Law” on a national level. “It’s a sorry day in America when they can’t protect the most vulnerable people in the country,” he said.
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November 115, 2009
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An open letter to Moscow To: H.E. Sergey Lavrov Minister of Foreign Affairs Russian Federation 119200, Moscow G-200, Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl. 32/34 Dear Minister Lavrov: First, I would like to note that although foreign relations is not a part of my job description as a member of the New York State Assembly, I found it impossible to ignore an event that has seriously concerned more than ten thousand of my constituents - natives of the former USSR. I write to you in regards to the recent vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Russia has voted in favor of endorsing the conclusions of former South African Judge Richard Goldstone’s commission. The report states that antiterrorist operations in Gaza in January 2009 by Israel should be considered as war crimes and deliberate destruction of civilian population. The Goldstone Report mentions some anonymous armed groups, but it says nothing about eight years of the daily firing of rockets at civilians in the south of Israel by HAMAS and other terrorists. I consider the decision of the Russian Government to endorse the Goldstone Report at the UN Human Rights Council deeply troubling. This decision is directed not only against Israel; it significantly reduces Israel’s ability to protect its citizens, including the thousands of Russian citizens living today in Israel. Support of Goldstone’s report by the Human Rights Council has surprised and aggravated many people, including one of founders of Human Rights Watch, Robert Bernstein. On Oct. 19, 2009, The New York Times published his article in which he condemned this one-sided report. Even Richard Goldstone himself, in a recent interview with the Swiss newspaper “Le Temps,” has recognized that in his report “there is
no phrase with condemnation of HAMAS”. The decision of the UN Human Rights Council will have a negative effect on the continuation and development of the peace process in the Middle East. In the resolution approved by 25 out of 47 members of Human Rights Council, there is no mention of the criminal and terrorist characteristics of HAMAS activity. In addition, nothing is mentioned about the long-term bombardments of Sderot and other cities of Israel from Gaza prior to the IDF operation. During eight years of incessant rocket bombardments of Israeli territory, the United Nations kept silent and never adopted a resolution protecting Israeli civilians. When Israel finally decided to end the bombardment of its cities, the Human Rights Council endorsed a resolution that demonized Israel and its army in the eyes of the international community. The resolution supported by Russia undermines the interests of those moderate forces in the Palestinian autonomy which would be willing to establish peace with Israel. Goldstone’s one-sided report strengthens HAMAS’s position and sharply weakens the position of the Palestinian government led by Mahmud Abbas. As a result of the Human Rights Council’s resolution, the “Hezbollah - Syria – Iran” Axis, has gained support, legitimacy and international approval. Additionally, Goldstone’s report has strengthened Israel’s belief that all of their attempts to negotiate a peace with the Palestinian Arabs, including voluntary withdrawal from Gaza and other territorial concessions, will always be ignored by the international community. At the same time, reciprocal steps against terrorists will lead to condemnation by the United Nations. Lastly, approval of Goldstone’s report will lead to new problems in the struggle against terrorism. In Gaza, HAMAS and JIHAD widely applied the tactic of using civilians as a “human shield”. Thus, the resolution of the Human Rights Council has actually proven this is a successful form of terrorist activity. This resolution will complicate the struggle of
civilized countries against terrorist activity. It is surprising that Russia, whose citizens constantly suffer from actions of terrorism, has voted for the resolution, thereby justifying these “human shield” tactics. Russian-speaking Americans have a number of close relatives and friends in Israel. But there is another reason for our anxiety about the unilateral position of the UN Human Rights Council. Israel is a deeply peaceful country, the only democracy in the Middle East, surrounded by autocratic regimes. In Israel, more than 80 human rights organizations freely operate, a free press exists, and the judicial system often rules against other branches of its government. There are many political parties, democratic elections, liberal journalists, a politically active and creative scientific community, and independent courts. This is the country accused of deliberate attacks against civilians and crimes against humanity? In the last few years Israel has undertaken many steps for rapprochement with Russia, including the canceling of visa requirements for Russian tourists. I was born and raised in Moscow, and still hope that Russia will become a strategic partner of Israel and will not always automatically vote in the United Nations, as the USSR did, for anti-Israel resolutions. We in America hope that the Russian government aspires to achieve peace in the Middle East, instead of creating new problems and conflicts. A country of such great culture and greater human achievements can not be on a par with rogue countries such as Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and Syria. I thank you for your attention to this matter, and I hope to receive a concrete and constructive answer to this letter. Respectfully, Alec Brook-Krasny Member of the Assembly 46th District
What happened to our values? By I. FRIEDIN Opinion@baycurrents.net
ecently, the bat mitzvah of a cousin took me to suburban New Jersey. Originally from Brooklyn, the extended family had spread far and wide, arriving for the event from all over the country and abroad. Most gratifying was seeing the elderly cousins who had moved from New Jersey to Kentucky to be near their son and stretch their retirement income. Their reunion with my mother, with whom they grew up, was heartwarming and the best part of the day was hearing these surviving members of “the greatest generation” talk about their lives, growing to adulthood through the Great Depression and World War II. Tears welled up in their eyes as they reminisced, recounting the good times and the struggles; their immigrant parents; family members and neighbors working together, caring for each other; relatives taken early by disease, their orphaned children provided for amidst the hardships of life in those difficult times. Many children were also taken before modern medicine reduced these once deadly scourges to near irrelevance. And there were those who went to war and never came home. It wasn’t an easy time to live but what was portrayed by these elderly giants wasn’t so much the hardship and struggle as the warmth, the closeness, the sharing and working with and for each other; values greatly diminished through succeeding generations. By the end of the war and the advent of the greatest period of prosperity in our history, the greatest generation had begun to raise their own children. The scars of their youth persuaded many to “spoil their children rotten” but whatever their method of parenting, they passed their experiences on to us of the baby boom generation. So, the values were not quite so heartfelt, but we still believed, involving ourselves in the causes that lay before us, working together for civil rights, women’s rights and against the unjust war in Southeast Asia. But our generation only heard about the struggles, never having experienced them and we ultimately went on to make our way in a world very different from that
of our parents. And our children are even more removed. A telling sign is the affair. When it was our time to “enter adulthood” at the ripe old age of 13, the reception that followed was a family affair, primarily for the older generations to come together in celebration. Today the party is for the kids, with loud thumping music making communication with long-absent family members nearly impossible. That had to wait until later. So, once removed from the chaos, we were able to settle in and talk…and listen. In the course of conversation, I asked my cousin what it was like for former Brooklynites, transplanted no further than just across the river for most of their lives, to exist in the radically different world of western Kentucky, a place that conjures up images of rednecks steeped in ignorance and bigotry. She told a story of poverty and of values. She described the workman who, despite earning a meager $8 an hour, took great pride in his work. She told of warmth, of concern for others and of the ability of people to hold their heads high and overcome the difficult hands they were dealt. These were stories similar to those told of past generations here during very different times. This country has been polarized for so long, especially with much of the nation moving to the right and the presidency of George W. Bush. People from the much more urban Northeast and West Coast are inclined to look down on the parts of our country that tend to look at things in a more simplistic way and are easily seduced into misguided decisions and loyalties. And, surely, looking at them from afar, it is infuriating when the travesty of the previous administration is enthusiastically embraced and the rights of others trampled upon by some of their outdated beliefs. But, these people, in the world they understand, carry on the values that we so dearly miss in the big city. So, must we face great suffering before we learn to work together? Isn’t it the ideal to have both knowledge and values? It can be achieved if we can shift our priorities. The big question is, “What kind of world do you want for yourself and your children?”
November 115, 2009
any of our Bay Factoids have shown that the Dutch roots of the area are very prevalent. Van Sicklen Street in Gravesend is no exception. It’s named for the 17th century Van Sicklen family, the earliest Dutch farming dynasty in the Flatbush area.
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The Audit, Part 2 By MICHAEL SCHLAGER firstname.lastname@example.org
In the last issue, I related the experiences of my friend, Jack, who faced every small-business person’s nightmare – getting audited by the IRS. The saga continues…. Jack was faced with the additional costs that Alan would have to work on the project. Estimating that it would be more than double what he normally pays him for his yearly work, he had to seek alternatives. Money was also tight and if much had to be paid bay to the IRS, even tighter. He had never hired a bookkeeper before, and was used to handing over bags of receipts to a professional accountant, essentially asking him to handle the responsibilities of a bookkeeper. Enter Kim, the bookkeeper, whom Jack hired for his own peace of mind and the practicality of having someone in the office versus remotely going over every detail. Kim joined the staff for a few weeks to organize Jack’s financial records. She was quite savvy – when Jack couldn’t furnish her with past receipts with which to work, she used the time to begin setting Jack’s books in order for the future. This problem should never happen again.
To deduct, or not to deduct … Meanwhile, the biggest challenge facing Kim wasn’t working with bank statements or credit-card receipts, since
they were clear, but sorting through grocery and dining expenses for a home office. Jack frequently allowed members of several groups to make fundraising calls from spare lines in his kitchen and home office, and even let them use his cell phone in their efforts to recruit others to their causes. To keep things fun, he would often pay for everyone’s lunch, or prepare everyone’s lunch in the kitchen. Had he taken clients out to eat, he could have deducted up to 50% of the bill, but Jack and Kim had no idea how to deduct meals prepared in his home office, or food in general, or how the dynamics of the deduction for the office might change for all his volunteer efforts over the year. “After all,” Jack asked, “if my home was used as an office for 70% of the time, don’t I have the right to deduct more than the standard deduction?” This was just one of the challenges confronting Jack as he anticipated his meeting with the auditor. If we ask for more consideration, where does it put us? ... was the next question from there. Alan did his best to prepare Jack using excel files created by Kim, more examples, and then they reviewed everything together and made several revisions. “It’s not just what you present, but how you present it” Alan repeated several times. Jack was finally getting the message-his attitude was changing, and for the better as far as everyone else was concerned. Over the next few days leading up to the interview, Jack was stone serious, but everyone felt that that was part of necessary change.
Power of Attorney – good idea? Although Alan requested Power of Attorney on several occasions, Jack didn’t want to give it to him. He had done that too many times in the past and this time he didn’t want to jump in too fast. However, after a few days Jack decided to confront Alan, and said, “Alan, I like you as a friend and as an accountant, but right now, I don’t know which one comes first. On one hand, I think you will guide me the best way you know how, but on the other, I don’t know if you have the experience to make this work, and are just rehashing some other client’s story 5 different ways”. According to Jack there was dead silence over the telephone. He feared he had really gone too far this time. He soon learned, however, that it was just the opposite-Alan needed a moment of silence like this to confront Jack about his the world he’d been living in. As Jack relates it, Alan then replied gracefully, “Oh, so now you’re ready to learn the rules of the road? Do I take it you now realize how serious this is? Is that a fair statement?” Jack signed the Power of Attorney…
Everything on the table Jack didn’t want to go into too much detail about what happened after that-about how he kept missing filing deadlines and gracefully blaming it all on Alan; or how the Social Security number and address given him by a former consultant never worked out (information Alan told him to verify before the consultant began working for him). No, Jack didn’t want to go into detail about this… but I did my job and coaxed it out of him. I guess this was the point in our conversation when Jack was confronting his feelings about Alan helping him make a few necessary adjustments to his perspective. It was quite an intense moment…… (to be continued on our website, www.baycurrents.net)
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