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Vol. 6, No. 2, August 24 – September 10, 2009

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Member of the New York Press Association Writers David J. Glenn Olga Privman Publisher Christina Pisano Lara Mondrus I. Friedin Michael Schlager Suzanne H. Glenn Amadeo Constanzo Editor Contributors Kerry Donelli Jacqueline Donelli Patrick Hickey Jr. Matt Lassen Sports Editor Dale Neseman

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Publisher’s Notebook David J. Glenn

It’s not just about health reform As loud-mouth know-nothings like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin describe President Obama’s health–insurance proposals as “evil” and “something Hitler would like, ” and Republicans plant out-of-town opponents at local town hall meetings to shout down and threaten speakers – and even carry loaded guns – the actual details of the proposal have been drowned out. This is why we present in this issue a comprehensive, dispassionate account of the plan – we’re neither endorsing nor opposing it, we just want you to be able to decide for yourself whether it’s a good idea and how it would affect you here in southern Brooklyn. Actually, the whole controversy goes beyond the issue of health insurance – it gets at the core of democracy. Town hall meetings are just about as old as the republic. They’re supposed to give Americans, most of whom do not have access to highly paid lobbyists, the chance to be heard and to have input into policy and legislative decisions. The fact that the right-wing fringe has been able to turn these meetings into near and sometimes actual brawls, and has stifled any meaningful discussions, threatens the very

democracy and liberties these “patriots” pretend to swear allegiance to.

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Stay alert! Local politicians are urging Brooklynites to sign up for NY-Alert, a free service to receive warnings and emergency information, including road closures, severe weather warnings and terrorist alerts issued by state and local agencies. Information can be sent to cell phones, landlines, e-mail and other technologies. To sign up for NY-Alert, call 888-697-6972 or go to www.nyalert.gov.

A taste of Brooklyn – literally The Brooklyn Children’s Museum celebrates the “yummy diversity of Brooklyn” Saturday –Sunday, Aug. 29-30 in an array of events and activities, including a Chinese dumpling making party, creating works of art out of pasta, baking fresh bread, and chasing “couscous on the loose.” All programs are free with museum admission, which is $7.50 per person, children under 1 year old free. For more information, call 718-735-4400 or visit www.brooklynkids.org

Graffiti, begone! Assemblyman Alan Maisel recently joined Paul Curiale, executive director of the Millennium Development Corp., and staff members in painting over a wall of a Mill Basin shopping center covered in graffiti. The anti-graffiti effort was part of an ongoing community project sponsored by Maisel and City Councilman Lew Fidler to reduce the amount of graffiti in Mill Basin, Marine Park, and Canarsie.

We Are New York Community leaders and officials, including Regina Peruggi, president of Kingsborough Community College and Yelena Makhnin, executive director of the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District, gathered at the Winter Garden restaurant on Brighton 6th Street on Aug. 17 to celebrate the launch of “We Are New York,” a new TV show produced by the mayor’s office and the City University of New York to help immigrants learn English and to portray the myriad of stories of immigrant life in New York City. The nine-episode series airs Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 a.m. on NYC TV Channel 25. The show August 24  September 10

can also be seen on cable Channel 74 on Fridays at 10 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m.

“I Love a Piano” Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College opens its 2009-2010 Season on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 3 p.m. with Irving Berlin’s I Love A Piano. The new musical revue spans more than seven decades of American history as seen through the insightful eyes of Irving Berlin, a man whom Jerome Kern said “has no place in American music... He IS American music!” Using 64 of Berlin’s enduring compositions, I Love A Piano captures the spirit of America from the ragtime era of the early 20th century through the swinging elegance of the 1920s and ’30s, through the Great Depression to the optimism of the 1950s. “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Change Partners,” “How Deep Is The Ocean,”“God Bless America,” and “White Christmas” are just some of the classics that will be featured. The Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts Walt Whitman Theatre is on the campus of Brooklyn College, one block from the junction of Flatbush and Nostrand avenues. For tickets or more information, call 718-951-4500 or visit BrooklynCenterOnline.org

Sundays at the library The newly renovated Kings Highway branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at 2115 Ocean Avenue, just off Kings Highway, will remain open for 30 consecutive Sundays starting Sept. 13. In June, the Kings Highway branch reopened after a four-year renovation that added 2,000 square feet to the library. The three-story branch, first opened in 1954, today has more than 98,000 library items.

New locker rooms at the Y Deteriorating locker rooms and restroom facilities at the Kings Bay YM-YWHA, a recreational and community center for Sheepshead Bay for more than a half-century, have been renovated and made handicap accessible with a $287,000 state grant. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Y officials thanked Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein for securing the state money. Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net


COVER STORY

Obama’s health reform plan:

Forget all the shouting – here are the facts By AMADEO CONSTANZO health@baycurrents.net

There have been plenty of heated debates over President Obama’s health reform plan. Most of the shouting at town hall meetings across the country – including a little friction at a Marine Park senior center meeting hosted by Congressman Anthony Weiner – is based on misrepresentation of the proposed reform legislation by Obama and Congressional Democrats.

L

et’s clarify some common misunderstandings of the proposed health-insurance overhaul. For one thing, it’s not “socialized medicine.” Under socialized medicine prevalent in Europe, hospitals and doctors are government employees (although still highly paid ones). It’s really a misnomer to call the present controversy health care reform – it’s actually health insurance reform. Another common fear is that the Democrat-proposed bill would infringe on individuals’ freedom to choose their doctor or their health insurance. “We should have a choice,” said Arlene of Bensonhurst. “Countries like England have a nice system, but they don’t really have many choices. We should have a choice.” Actually, the proposed legislation allows for private insurance to be available in addition to the new option of public health insurance. It’s a key reason why the American Medical Association, previously a strong opponent to health insurance reform – has come out in support of Obama’s plan. The president has said on many occasions, “If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor. If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan.” Saying that the new plan would “pull the plug on grandma” is another fear-laden misinterpretation of the plan. This misinterpretation was widely proclaimed by Republican Senator Charles Grassley. “We should not have a government-run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma,” Grassley told an audience in Iowa. All that the bill actually proposes is merely to ensure that a patient’s wishes under his or her “living will” – whether to prolong the patient’s life with advanced equipment – is clearly communicated and accurately followed by health care providers. Grassley later retracted his statement. Recently, there has been much speculation that President Obama intends to eliminate the option for government-provided insurance as a compromise to gain some Republican support in Congress, offering instead an option to get insurance from a co-op organization, essentially a non-profit insurance company. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that a government alternative to private health insurance is “not the essential element” of the administration’s health care overhaul. The White House would be open to co-ops, she said Under a proposal by Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, consumerowned nonprofit cooperatives would sell insurance in competition with the private companies, similar to the way electric and agriculture co-ops operate, especially in ruVisit us at: www.BayCurrents.net

ral states such as his own. With $3 billion to $4 billion in initial support from the government, the co-ops would operate under a national structure with state affiliates, but independent of the government. They would be required to maintain the type of financial reserves that private companies are required to keep in case of unexpectedly high claims. “I think there will be a competitor to private insurers,” Sebelius said. “That’s really the essential part, is you don’t turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing.” “A co-op system doesn’t sound much different from a public option, but I think we need government involvement in order for any kind of meaningful reform to take place,” said Tibby, a former Brooklyn resident. Many Democrats in Congress are furious at the hint of potentially eliminating the public option. In response, the Obama administration sternly holds to the public option in several statements. “The president is committed to the public option,” Melody Barnes, the White House director of domestic policy, said in an Aug. 19 conference call with the National Council of Jewish Women. An Obama administration memo states, “The bottom line is this: Nothing has changed.”

Provisions of Obama’s Healthcare Reform

also be an expansion and improvement of graduate medical education and medical training.

• Employer-Provided Insurance Large companies would be required to choose one of two options: 1. Provide health coverage for employees, or 2. Contribute to their employees’ health coverage (whichever plans the employees choose.) Employers who fail to do so would have to pay a penalty of up to 8% of their payroll. Small employers (with a payroll of less than $250,000) are exempt from this requirement.

• The Costs bursement rates for primary care services. The Medicare “donut hole” – the coverage gap by which Medicare recipients have to pay for their medication for a brief period – would be eliminated.

• Investing in the Medical Workforce To prevent a shortage of doctors and health care professionals due to an increased number of Americans being covered, more scholarships and loans would be made available for people entering various medical professions. There would

There has been much discussion over how the costs of the health plan would be covered. The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress have not clarified exactly where the money would come from, but have suggested that premiums could be a key source. They’ve also hinted that bonds could provide much of the funding, but that option has been criticized by Republicans saying this would be like taking out a mortgage to pay for groceries. At this point, little is certain about how the reforms would be paid for.

• Public Health Insurance This government-run health insurance (funded by premiums) would be available to compete with existing private health insurance companies. Affordability credits will be available on a sliding scale system. (Affordability credits financially help those who can’t afford to pay for health insurance. The lower your income, the more affordability credits you would have.)

• Health Insurance Exchange This would be a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to compare and shop for health insurance. There would be mechanisms here for consumer protection and fraud prevention. This is also where affordability credits would be administered.

• Elimination of Discriminatory Practices Based on Health Condition It would be illegal for insurance companies to exclude anyone from starting or renewing coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

• Prevention of Bankruptcy from Medical Expenses for Individuals Insurers would no longer be allowed to put a cap on the amount of benefits received by an individual. However, there would be a cap on out-of-pocket medical expenses by an individual.

• Improving Medicaid and Medicare Health care provider participation in Medicaid and Medicare would be increased, improving access to care for low-income families, the disabled, and the mentally ill. To do so, there would be increases in reim-

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An ‘unexpected pleasure’ at Coney Island Hospital By LARA MONDRUS mondrus@baycurrents.net

No one likes hospitals. After all, who wants to be in one, or have to visit someone there?

B

ut soon, there will be an addition at Coney Island Hospital that will not only make a stay or visit a little more comfortable, but might very well attract people who are not even sick or visiting the sick. It’s art. Starting on Sept. 16, on the second floor, right down the hall from the hospital’s cafeteria, artists from the Brooklyn City Streetcar Company will display paintings, collages, photographs, and much more on freshly painted walls. More than 50 works of art from 24 artists, mostly from Brooklyn, will be showcased. Many of the artists were excited to hang their art in Coney Island Hospital. “It’s very much like coming home,” said Beryl Brenner, a Brooklyn artist who attended Lincoln High School, diagonally across the street from the hospital. Brenner will display one piece, a series of three pictures in the hospital, which she describes as “fused glass and paper and mixed media.” “It’s unique, it’s not the typical stuff you see,” she said. She is being featured with her son, Michael Brenner, who will display two paintings – a portrait of a fellow artist, and a depiction of his hand enlarged with imaginative colors and vibrant brush strokes. “I tried

to put a lot of variations and colors into it,” he said. “I chose these two paintings because people are drawn to the human subject matter.” “It’s great, this is the first time that any of my stuff will be shown outside of the Facebook world,” said Steve Kompel, a Brooklyn photographer. Kompel will display four photos he took of orchids from the New York Botanical Garden. Another Brooklyn artist, Gerard Barbot, is excited to have photographs he took of the Labor Day carnival in Eastern Parkway on display. This is the Brooklyn Streetcar Artists’ Group’s first exhibit. “Our object is to create opportunities for artists and art lovers of all ages. We’re always looking for venues to display our artists’ work,” said Arthur Melnick, director of the group’s parent organization, The Brooklyn City Streetcar Company. “We are going to be a strong arts presence in this neighborhood,” Beryl Brenner said. “This is the first effort to reach out to the community and provide a venue to local artists to exhibit their work,” said James Saunders, CIH associate director. “Hopefully it will pave the way to do more stuff like this,” said Joseph Manutti, a Brooklyn artist and tattoo artist who will have two pieces in the show, one he describes as a mixed media painting with torn papers, and an oil painting. “Seeing the art will help cheer people who are visiting the hospital,” he said. “It’s an unexpected pleasure,” Saunders said.

DON’T JUST READ

“Wedding” by Joe Manutti

Growing old in Brooklyn WEAR IT!

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As baby-boomers who once may have burned draft cards now fold Medicare cards, and life expectancy in America increases with advances in medical technology, Bay Currents Media presents a special series on senior care. Starting this autumn, we will explore the details of senior centers, adult day cares, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and rehabilitation programs in southern Brooklyn. Whether you’re a senior, the son or daughter of one, a specialist in the field, or simply a caring member of the community, you’ll discover essential information in these vital areas. Tell us what you think of the series as we present it. We value your suggestions. We want to help you or your loved one make the most of life’s later chapters.

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Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net


A need for drama in southern Brooklyn By OLGA PRIVMAN privman@baycurrents.net

A shabbily-clad waif of a woman moves defiantly for several paces – each step surging with determination. The tail of her outdated, though strangely elegant dress trails behind her. She cunningly approaches, as the object of her ire ascends the makeshift stairs, before releasing the typhoon of emotions within: “Just you wait, ‘Enry ‘Iggins! Just you wait!”

W

ait – is that sensational siren your next-door neighbor? Who would have thought? Ah, Community Theater. The inimitable inflection of spoken performance by a vessel atop a rickety stage, laughing and cajoling an unwary interlocutor for a decidedly dastardly act – only rivaled by the song and dance concoction the season following, embracing sights and sounds generally foreign to the neighborhood at large. The best part – Who knew that Bob the baker from Sheepshead Bay had been such a tremendous tenor, or that Sally from the local salon had all the artistic makings of a master thespian? To paraphrase the bard, all the world’s a neighborhood; there’s a definite need, and audience, for the type of community theater that’s prevalent in many other parts of Brooklyn. “If there were theaters available in Marine Park, I would not hesitate in going,” said Marine Park resident and theater fan Marianna Khanis. “Nothing can beat a great, live performance and having a theater nearby would make me want to stay in the area more.” But Marine Park is not the only neighborhood where live, locally produced theatrical entertainment would be welcomed. The diverse, vibrant neighborhoods of Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Coney Island and vicinity would surely benefit. Starting a community theater is hard work. Just ask Ann C. Gubiotti, the director of Narrows Community Theater, Inc. in Bay Ridge.

As part of its mission statement, Narrows holds auditions open to the public and advertises though many venues, such as “Backstage,” “Playbill,” local newspapers and its website (www.nctheaterny.com). Open for nearly four decades, Narrows has largely been without a permanent home; currently

it’s renting space from a church. Community theater, by nature, is volunteerbased, said Gubiotti, herself a volunteer. It requires actors, costume and set designers, ticket sellers, advertisers and a plethora of other cooperative cogs. “One of the things we’ve always done is hire professional directors and music directors,” said Gubiotti. Securing a location is the first step, though the ones that follow are many. Ultimately, Gubiotti insists the responsible party must be those that “love it and are willing to work very hard since it is a lot of work to put on a production.” Undeterred, however, are the highly adaptable and eager performers. “Convenience and theater do not go hand in hand,” said aspiring actress Nadia Lyakhnovich. “There is no such thing – at least from my experience. Working on a play requires strong dedication and commitment, and even if you eliminate long traveling time that it’ll take you to get to your rehearsal, you still have to accommodate other aspects of your life and sacrifice your daily activities for your love of performing.” A former student at Kingsborough Community College, Lyakhnovich was in the Female Greek Chorus for the college’s winter production of “How I Learned to Drive,” and had the starring role of Sister Mary Ignatius for a scene from “Sister Mary Explains it All” during the college’s annual 10-minute play festival. While not a true community theater, KCC allows half of its cast to be composed of nonstudent body and continues to hold open auditions. Like many trends in the entertainment industry, all that may be needed to start community theater in the Bay area is a spark. “As much as I love Marine Park,” said Khanis. “It needs a jolt of excitement in the air – and who knows? A community theater might lead to an expansion of other community theaters.”

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Could you use an extra $600 to $1,400 for college expenses? If you are writing a check for college expenses, there’s a tax break that will allow you to deduct up to $5,000 on an individual, or $10,000 on a joint, New York State tax return for college tuition, room and board, books, and more! It’s the ‘Section 529 College Savings Plan. If you are currently using the plan, congratulations! Most of your friends are not. It’s easy to use: 1. Open the plan at www.NYSaves.com. 2. Deposit the funds. 3. Withdraw the funds for college expenses as soon as the funds clear! The state gives you a deduction for using the college savings plan. That’s it. No problem. Bonus: The earnings on the plan are tax-free, so whatever interest is earned while you money is in the plan, you pay no federal or state income tax when withdrawn for college. Grandparents can help send their grandchildren to the schools of their dreams. • The investment in a 529 plan is tax-free, so your money goes further. • You’re not hurting their eligibility for financial aid. • Your exposure to estate taxes can be reduced by a significant amount. • You can re-direct the funds to a different grandchild, or other family member, if the named grandchild doesn’t need it for college. • You can take the money back for yourself at any time and for any purpose (subject to tax and 10 percent penalty on the earnings portion). • Unlike a trust, you won’t be generating a lot of legal or accounting bills. A 529 plan is not only for the teenager. You can use it yourself, or for your spouse. Tax accountant Joseph Reisman’s practice is at 2751 Coney Island Avenue, 718-332-1040.

Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net


Summer to go out with a ‘rockabilly’ bang I By CHRISTINA PISANO pisano@baycurrents.net

As the end of summer brings a reluctant return to work or school and colder weather, Coney Island’s boardwalk bar and car, Cha Cha’s, hosts its third annual Labor Day Weekend Rockabilly Festival, giving a sendoff to summer vacation with the rock-country hybrid.

Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net

n commemoration of legendary rockabilly singer Billy Lee Riley, who died Aug. 2 at age 75, the 2009 Coney Island Rockabilly Festival, presented by Cockabilly Records, is set to host more than a hundred psychobilly – a mixture of punk and rockabilly – burlesque, and sideshow acts, as well as performances by a number of rockabilly bands performing both inside – and actually on the roof – at Cha Cha’s. “This year is a special event because it’s a tribute to Billy Lee Riley, “said festival host John “JT” Thomas. “I dedicated the whole rockabilly festival to him this year; I want his name to be out there.” One of the earliest styles of rock n roll, rockabilly was named for its blend of rock music and “hillbilly,” a 1950s reference to country music. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash helped bring rockabilly into fame in the’50s with tracks like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” Jerry Lee Lewis’s 1957 versions of “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire” also contributed to the popularity of rockabilly, as a previously unknown Lewis performed for a time in Billy Lee Riley’s band. Though the rockabilly style faded during the 1960s, it remained an influence on the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rockabilly enjoyed a major revival of popularity that has kept up into the present. “Rockabilly’s really taken off, it’s very influential music these days,” said Thomas.

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Signed onto Sun Records, Billy Lee Riley grew to be a rockabilly pioneer and songwriter, best remembered for his 1957 singles “Flyin’ Saucers Rock and Roll” and “Red Hot.” A wild and raucous act, Riley’s commemoration at the Coney Island Rockabilly Festival is expected to draw large crowds of fans and onlookers. “To me it’s very important that this show is dedicated to this gentleman. He’s done a lot of great music,’ said Thomas. As a legendary beach-front bazaar of rides, food, and freak shows, Coney Island is undoubtedly the right venue for an all-day festival of music and excitement for a final summer hoorah. The 2009 Coney Island Rockabilly Festival is set to start, rain or shine, on Friday, Sept. 4 and run until Monday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. until 4 a.m. at Cha Cha’s on the boardwalk. Tickets can be purchased in advance at etix.com or at the door. Visit the event website at myspace.com/cockabillyrecordsnyc.

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Dancing in the streets! Brooklyn Ballet, based in downtown Brooklyn, “dedicated to artistic excellence, education, and serving Brooklyn’s diverse communities,” presented a free outdoor performance in Cadman Plaza on a sunny Aug. 12 afternoon. Among the performers was Michael Abenanty from Marine Park, who caught the attention of Brooklyn Ballet choreographer Catherine Green when the company came to his neighborhood school. Abernanty said he initially got the inevitable ribbing from his classmates about being a male ballet dancer, but by the time he graduated from junior high school, they apologized and congratulated him. He said he plans to make a career in ballet. BAY CURRENTS PHOTOS

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‘Dr. Death’ comes to Marine Park Kevorkian was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and spent eight years in prison on a 10-25-year sentence before being released on parole in June 2007 for good behavior. The film, based on Neal Nicol’s book, Between the Dying and the Dead: Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s Life and the Battle to Legalize Euthanasia, gives an account of Kevorkian’s first assisted suicide and the media blitz surrounding his legal battles in defense of what he called a patient’s right to die. Kevorkian had started advertising in Detroit newspapers in 1987 offering “death counseling.” Three years later the State of

By DAVID J. GLENN publisher@baycurrents.net

Avenue U in the summer became a Michigan street in the winter for two days earlier this month, as crews shot a scene for the upcoming HBO movie, “You Don’t Know Jack,” with Al Pacino portraying Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who became known in the 1990s as “Dr. Death” for supporting physicianassisted suicide, claiming responsibility for more than 150 deaths.

F

ilm crews took over the stretch of Avenue U between Nostrand Avenue and Haring Street in Marine Park, position-

Michigan revoked his medical license, but that didn’t stop him from helping patients kill themselves with his “Mercitron” (“mercy machine”), where the individual would wear a gas mask and self-administer carbon monoxide. Before Kevorkian lost his license and could no longer legally obtain deadly drugs, he used his “Thanatron” – “death machine” – to allow patients to inject themselves through an IV with drugs that would stop their heart or otherwise kill them. HBO has not yet released a date for cablecasting the movie.

ing cars with blue Michigan license plates and spreading very real-looking patches of “snow” – salt crystals – along the street. The scene was of Kevorkian visiting a friend, played by John Goodman, a clerk in a medical supply store. The snow was fake, but the store was quite real – the MG Medical Supply Inc. outlet at 2962 Avenue U. Why exactly did the producers of the film, directed by Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam, The Natural), choose a location separated by more than 600 miles and an opposite solstice? “They looked at hundreds of photos from locations around the country, and they decided on this one,” a film-crew member told Bay Currents. “It could be any number of reasons – the stars may not want to go out to Michigan, or maybe the street had a certain look they wanted.”

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‘Opening lines of communication’ at National Night Out

Your Desktop

By LARA MONDRUS mondrus@baycurrents.net

If the music at the early August party behind KeySpan Park was too loud, it wouldn’t have been necessary to call the cops. They were already there. The 60th precinct in Coney Island held its yearly “National Night Out Against Crime,� where everyone was invited to dance to the music, chomp down on free food, honor Lady Luck in raffles, and let children loose to play games. “Lost In The Stacks,� the Brooklyn-based band of librarians, provided the music that had people dancing in the twilight. Local businesses donated the food – sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and more that kept people coming back for seconds, and thirds. As festive as it was, the event had a purpose other than just to party. Its goal – as the more than two-dozen other “National Night Out Against Crime� events that night around the borough and many more all around the country – was to help form a bond between the community and the police department, said Inspector Robert Johnsen, commanding officer of the 60th precinct. “If people have problems in life, they are sometimes afraid to go to the police,� he said. “Through this event, they can realize that the police are willing to help them. The goal is to open up the lines of communication – establish new ones and reinforce the old ones,� “We have to break down the barriers. People can talk to the police,� he added. “It’s an annual event and people love coming here,� said Judd Fischler, head of the 60th Precinct Community Council, the liaison between the police and Community Board 13 “This precinct is the most unique in the city. It has a major city hospital, two high schools, a number of elementary schools, the famous aquarium, Keyspan Park, the circus, and much more� “Every year it grows bigger and bigger, – the attendance was larger than last year, hundreds of people attended the 60th precinct’s celebration alone,� said Johnsen. He smiled. “It was just a good day,� Johnsen said.

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OPINION

Coney Island sold out! By I. Freidin ifreidin@baycurrents.net

Fun and whimsy have always been the staples of Coney Island; America’s legendary playground; a destination for everyone who could afford a ride on the subway. Escape from the toils of everyday life to the place where reality is suspended and fantasy dominates; a world of illusion and adventure; a very special place with its own unique state of mind. …no longer! It is now on track to become another venue for those who can afford to live in luxury condos and play in what promises to become Times Square South. With the City Council voting for Mayor Bloomberg’s rezoning, the battle is lost. The preservation of the hallowed ground of amusement for everyman, so long protected by the city’s refusal to rezone for greedy developers, is no longer; defeated by the wolves of Bloomberg & Co. It can’t really be called a battle. Those on the side of preserving Coney Island as the People’s Playground and preventing the ultimate displacement of the adjacent community weren’t able to put up much of a fight against the overwhelming forces of greed. Since the decline of Coney Island through the 1960s and ’70s, every administration had preserved C7 (amusements only) zoning in preparation for a renewal, while many of the old amusement and game operators soldiered on in what was left. It was sacrilege to think that the People’s Playground could ever be anything else. As in so many communities in our city, however, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) came to evaluate its financial worth… regardless of its human value. It was decided that C7 zoning had to go so the area could be transformed into another money machine – a year ’round playground for the rich, who apparently don’t have enough places in this city to spend their money. Attracting developers, Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities threw gobs of money at the land owners until he controlled a huge swath in the heart of the amusement district. Much of what was left was replaced with empty lots, minor attractions and, this year, a huge, depressing flea market. His ultimate plan varied from hotels, condominiums, shopping malls and a token amusement area. Suspicion was, however, that he’d do what he had previously with properties and simply flip it to someone else when the value increased with the zoning change. And he did flip a large parcel, at a huge profit, to Taconic Investment Partners, which has plans to build high rise luxury condominiums just west and north of KeySpan Park. Enter the vultures, those from within and outside Coney

Island who gathered to profit at the expense of the iconic amusement area and the adjacent residential community. As in the Atlantic Yards project, shills for the developers were ACORN and the construction unions. Those affected by the invasion downtown organized as Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) to fight the intrusive plan, a battle that continues; while in Coney Island, several (so-called) community leaders were falling all over each other to get in on the money with little regard for the long-range welfare of their community. As many of these “community leaders” scrambled to get what they could from the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC), offshoot of the EDC, the unions entered the scene as CI CLEAR, promising to be a coalition of community and labor. Their singular agenda, though, is for huge development and job creation. Promises to the community concerned much-needed jobs but, as history has shown, these promises are almost always hollow. Community members involved are but a small handful who, for their own reasons, decided to follow a path that was so one sided. The agenda is so transparent that, despite their best efforts, grassroots support has been non-existent. Arriving next was ACORN. With their promise of affordable housing, they rapidly built a following. It didn’t take long, though, for people to realize that ACORN had ulterior motives. Hard-sell tactics to collect dues and focus on a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that included only new development – no provision for the preservation of existing affordable housing – soon turned off virtually the entire community. The exception is the few poor souls they display in public, those who refuse to believe they’ve been betrayed. How do they explain ACORN, according to a person close to the negotiations, having been paid a substantial sum by the developer of the Atlantic Yards to negotiate a CBA? And they found each other. When asked by a local resident what community groups they were working with, a representative of ACORN, after a long silence, answered, “CI CLEAR”. Those in the amusement area have been frightened, confused and divided. Too many took a wait-and-see position; waiting until the rides were replaced by empty lots. Others try to profit from the plan. One group made a bit of noise but many mistakes, creating an audience but not a following. Loyalists, devoid of power and not much direction, are flailing around like the proverbial chickens without heads. Those truly dedicated to the cause were betrayed again and again until they appeared to fade into the nothingness that defines the integrity of the wolves and the vultures. And the community itself? To quote Martin Luther King, Jr., “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

What is a Community Benefits Agreement? A CBA is an agreement between the community and the developer. It can be a good thing if the development is in the best interest of the community, it is negotiated by those with the

best interests of the community at heart and is enforceable. A CBA should not be negotiated until all pre-existing problems are dealt with. Do those who have

been negotiating in Coney Island have the best interests of the community at heart…or their own? Note: The plan that the CIDC has been recently boasting about serves all

the interest groups except the grass roots community members and those who would see Coney Island preserved as the People’s Playground. No one was there to represent them!

Footnote: Is everything really lost? Is there any hope? Unfortunately, the damage done by Bloomberg & Co. is nearly impossible to reverse. The People’s Playground depended on maintaining C7 zoning and private ownership of the land by owners who were into operating amusements or leasing to those who would.

Good Guys Turned Bad Construction Unions and ACORN Betray Our Communities Forced to work long hours under dismal conditions; their meager existence often threatened by harsh bosses who cared nothing but their bottom line; beaten by company goons at any attempt to organize; government jumping in to help management, often using violent methods against the helpless workers; it was a long hard struggle for working people. Finally gaining the right to collective bargaining under the New Deal administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, labor grew into a major force, helping the American worker to march rapidly into the middle class. And now they are part of the system; well organized with the weight to make a difference. This is why it is so disheartening when they enter a neighborhood on behalf of the forces who would destroy and displace long time residents; tearing them from their roots. Seeking jobs for their members, the construction unions, under their banner of CI CLEAR, arrived in Coney Island, claiming to join with the community while abetting the powers that would destroy the People’s Playground and displace the residents in the adjacent community. Certainly, jobs created should be union, but the needs of those who live, work and play in the area must always be the Number One priority. ACORN, the affordable housing group, is here simply for the money. While ignoring the displacement of people in current affordable housing, they focus on negotiating a Community Benefits Agreement, which virtually provides the developer sanction to build on behalf of the community. In the Atlantic Yards they received a tidy sum from the developer for doing so and it is expected that they are in Coney Island for the same purpose. Community members in Coney Island, many hard pressed to cover their basic expenses, were pressured to pay dues while their pleas for help in preserving their homes were ignored. These are groups established to help those to stand up against the powers who would keep them down. They now forsake their mission and join the oppressors they once opposed. We find the same coalition of unions and ACORN in Coney Island and the Atlantic Yards shilling for developers at the expense of community. Rather than carry on their mission for social justice, they tramp all over it. These former champions of the people, once providing hope for the downtrodden, have lost their way…and their hearts!

By I. Freidin

The views and accounts of writers on the Opinion page are their own, and are not necessarily those of the editors and management of Bay Currents

Skating to fame • The Abe Stark Ice Skating Rink is one of many sites around Brooklyn

Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net

named for Stark (1893-1972), a tailor who owned a clothing store at 1514 Pitkin Avenue. He achieved quite a bit more than 15 minutes of fame for his advertising sign, placed directly under the Ebbets Field scoreboard in

right-center field, challenging players to “Hit Sign, Win Suit.” Due to the skill of Brooklyn Dodgers right fielders Dixie Walker and Carl Furillo, Stark awarded very few suits. Stark became so famous from the sign, seen first on movie newsreels and then on television, he rose through city politics to serve as president of the City Council from 1954 to 1961, and as Brooklyn borough president from 1962 to 1970.

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First encounter • Drivers traveling down Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach probably don’t realize it, but the boulevard’s namesake hotel was the site of a meeting that helped in the development of their vehicles. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison first met at the Oriental Hotel, which attracted wealthy guests from 1880 to 1916, at an electrical engineers convention.

Page 11


Belsky out of City Council race Simon Belsky has held true to his look-alike – he couldn’t get any respect, at least not in his try for the District 48 City Council seat.

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Free and open to members and non-members Call us about the many other programs and activities for all ages at Young Israel In honor of the 30th day after the passing of our Esteemed Rav, Rabbi Samuel Fink, zt”l, we have planned a short program for Tuesday, August 25 at 8:30 p.m. followed by Ma'ariv (evening service) at 9:45 p.m. in our Main Synagogue Everyone is cordially invited to attend this tribute to Rabbi Fink.

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Belsky, a retired construction manager, who eerily resembles the late comic Rodney Dangerfield in both appearance and style of talking, had wanted to challenge incumbent Mike Nelson in the Sept 15 Democratic primary in the district, which covers Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Midwood. In flyers, posters, and ads in Bay Currents, Belsky declared he was a non-politician who would rout out corruption in city government. He needed at least 900 valid signatures from registered Democrats in the district to get on the primary ballot. He collected 2,557 – but election officials declared all but 230 of them as invalid after the Nelson camp challenged them. Many of the signatures were from out of district residents, duplicated, or even totally fabricated. Belsky says that he had hired whom he thought was a professional campaigner, whom he would not identify, recommended by a City Council member whom he wouldn’t identify either, to handle most of the signature-gathering. The campaigner and his staff brought in the bogus signatures, Belsky said. Belsky said he didn’t know what the motive of the campaigner, or the City Council member, was, but “I do know it was fraud.” Belsky paid the campaigner $7,000 but so far has received a refund of only $500, he said. Belsky said he’s returning “every penny” of the $13,000 he had collected for his campaign, even though he legally doesn’t have to. “Ethically, I do,” he said. “Even if I try again in the future, they gave me the money to run now.”

BAY FACTOID

Remember egg creams? Maybe it’s an unfair question, since the Brooklyn staple is not quite extinct. But it’s hard to come by in the Bay area or anywhere else in Brooklyn, where not too long ago – as Elliot Wilensky wrote in his book, When Brooklyn Was the World – “a candy store minus an egg cream was as difficult to conceive of as the Earth without gravity.”

As any true Brooklynite knows, there’s neither egg nor cream in an egg cream. So why is it called that? No one knows for sure, but there’s one possibility – an account from the 1880s: The teenage Yiddish-theater star Boris Thomashevsky (1868-1939), who brought the first Yiddish play to New York from London – had tasted a similar chocolate syrup and seltzer drink in Paris, called “et creme.” He asked to have one made in New York. The rest, as they said, is history.

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SENIOR CURRENTS

Should – can – seniors and their children live together? While adjusting to his new Washington residence, President Barack Obama clearly had a lot on his mind – including ensuring that his mother-in-law was also settling in comfortably. Like 3.6 million older parents, First Lady Michelle Obama’s mother, Marion Robinson, is living with her adult children. Extended families living under one roof – a practice dating back millennia and still common in most of the world – is new to modern America, but with the changing economy, is becoming more prevalent.

themselves, but three factors often come into play: • Shared Caregiving: Families are coming together to share caregiving duties – either an elderly loved one needs care or an older adult is providing care to his or her grandchildren. • Physical or Emotional Support: Seniors may need the emotional support of an extended family after losing a spouse, dealing with health problems, or having difficulty maintaining their property. • Finances: The economy is affecting everyone, especially seniors living on fixed incomes. Moving in with family can save money on food, utilities, and other essentials.

Emotional Issues

H

ow do you decide whether living together is the best option? Living together can come with plenty of challenges – emotional stress, caregiving dilemmas, space and privacy problems, and financial worries. But there are also rewards, too, including the closeness that can develop from having a loved one nearby – not to mention having one or two readily available babysitters (assuming they’re healthy enough). Whether you’ve already decided to merge households or if you’re just thinking about it, now is the time to start seriously talking about it.

Why Families Are Living Together The reasons different generations decide to live together are as varied as the families

Independent research conducted by the Boomer Project on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care sheds new light on the growing population of family caregivers who are choosing to live with and provide care for a parent, stepparent or older relative. One factor driving this trend is the need for emotional support.

The Ups and Downs of Living Together So what do multigenerational families say about the experience? Positive feelings of care and accomplishment can mix with stress. Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D., Penn State Intergenerational Programs extension specialist, said that each family member has needs that should be taken into consideration. Individual needs,

though, need to be viewed in the context of the health of the family as a unit. “People need independence, but interdependence and family unity are important as well, particularly in today’s hectic and demanding world,” he added. If families are living together and seniors need care, their adult children will need support from other family members or from professionals to give them respite from the burden. “The best time to discuss this issue is when you’re willing to give up your house,” Kaplan said. “That’s when it’s time to get your spouse and children behind the idea and communicate with adult siblings. Talk to your brothers and/or sisters and let them know you may need respite help.” “When a decision to combine families is made, expectations must be set right away,” he said. “Family members must listen and become engaged in the conversation. The more the family buys in at the beginning, the more likely they will be to come up with great ideas.” Setting aside time for the family is important too. “Consistent daily scheduling allows for formal and informal interaction,” Kaplan recommends. “If you do things right, the result is a strong, more unified family.”

The Best and Worst Home Instead Senior Care’s research of family caregivers who live with their loved ones showed that living under the same roof

In our previous article, we discussed the reasons why elderly people are at higher risk for falling. Here, we will review what you can do to minimize the risks of falling in your home, where more than 60 percent of falls occur. Rugs: Do you have a rug that tends to slip? The best bet would be to get rid of it. However, if you must keep it, use double-sided tape to secure it in place.

Lighting: Having night-lights that illuminate the path to the bathroom, for example, may prevent a fall, especially if you have nighttime urges.

Eliminating clutter: Keeping extra boxes, furniture, clothing, or bags in your path are high-risk factors; you can easily trip and fall. Don’t be afraid to throw away or donate items that are not

Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net

For those who live with their parents, the

best thing about being a caregiver is

The Worst For those who live with their parents, the

worst thing about being a caregiver is: Of those who said they lived too close to their loved ones, 72 percent also rated their stress as a 5 – at the top of the stress scale. From Home Instead Senior Care (www.homeinstead.com)

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can be the best, and worst, of situations:

needed. Try to reroute extension cords so that they are off the floor and out of the way.

Grab bars in the bathroom: The bathroom may be the most dangerous room in your house. Water on a slippery surface is an accident waiting to happen. It is better to have more grab bars than not enough; strategically placed not only in the tub, but also in the path leading to the tub and near the toilet. Fortunately, newer grab bars with strong suction cups can be easily placed in a matter of seconds. It may not be necessary to use the older type that needs to be drilled into the wall. Special note for people who think they don’t need grab bars: you may have been leaning on the soap dish for support for many years, but it is not designed to hold your weight and it may give out. Why take the chance?

Shower chair and hand-held shower: If you are unsteady in the shower, consider getting a shower chair; hand-held shower, or both.

Anti-slip mats: Placing anti-slip mats (or strips) in the tub and on any other slippery surface could prevent a fall.

Raised toilet seats: If you feel that it is harder to get up from your toilet and that you may be at risk of either falling or slipping off, you may want to get a raised toilet seat, with or without arms. Simply being higher will make it easier to stand up.

Grab bars elsewhere around the house: Do you have one or two areas in your house where you feel a little shaky; such as stepping into an outer yard, or onto another level of the house? Installing a small grab bar or handrail may be exactly what you need.

Pets:

your cane wears out, replace it before it slides away from you. Sometimes walkers can be difficult to move forward; the back feet sticking or the lack of strength to lift the walker can lead to hindered mobility. It can help to use the “tennis ball method”: Cut an “x” in each of two tennis balls and snuggly attach them to the back legs of your walker. Test the walker out and make sure it’s safe.

The telephone: Do not run to answer the phone. If it’s important they will call back. You may want to consider getting several phones strategically located throughout your residence, or carry a portable phone with you. Lying on the floor for an extended period of time after falling usually leads to even more negative consequences. You may also want to look into getting a wearable alarm, which could call for help just in case you do suffer a fall. In the next issue we will discuss which exercises are helpful for improving your balance.

You may consider your dog or cat as a member of the family, but if your pet continues to get in your way and makes you feel that you may fall, ask a relative or friend to take it in. It is a hard choice, but you don’t want to wind up in the emergency room because of your pet.

Improperly used, adjusted, or maintained Assistive Devices: We have all seen people “carrying” their canes or using walkers that are too low or too high. Improper use or adjustment of devices can lead to falls. Also, if the tip on

August 24  September 10

The Physical Therapy Office that Travels to the Patient™

718.891.0780 Page 13


By the Bay Currents staff

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SPORTS CURRENTS

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For over a month, fans of the Brooklyn Aces were left without a team, as the Eastern Professional Hockey League folded and Aces owner Alan Friedman was unable to secure a lease for his team to play at Aviator Sports & Recreation in Floyd Bennett Field or at the Abe Stark rink in Coney Island. Even after trying to negotiate a deal that would have brought an outdoor rink outside of the Coney Island hockey rink to enable public skating during Aces games, no deal could be made to secure the team a home. After the deal with Abe Stark fell through, Freidman was also unable to work on a new lease with Aviator. Through most of May and June, Friedman appeared confident that the EPHL and the Aces would be around for another season. “If I was a betting man, I’d put my money down on the line,” he had said. “Right now, we’re going to be expanding for the upcoming season.” Herm Sorcher, a former league official, said Friedman tried everything in his power to keep the team in Brooklyn, but was unable to. His later attempts at getting a team in Danbury, Conn. were also unsuccessful. However, from the ashes of the Eastern Professional League, the North Eastern Professional Hockey League was born. Kevin McCabe, an executive at Aviator Sports & Recreation, led a group that purchased a team in the league, effectively bringing hockey back to Brooklyn just in time for the new season.

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What could have been a disaster for local hockey fans has quickly turned into a situation much like last season, the promise of affordable Single-A hockey in the borough. A hard-nosed competitor and a vocal spokesperson in the locker room, Miller has been admired by his teammates as well as by the opposition, making him a great choice as the team’s first coach. The New York Aviators, who will be known as the A’s, are to join five other teams in the NEPHL 44 regular season game schedule starting in November. Coached by former Aces captain Rob Miller, the Aviators look to have the pieces to place for a successful first season. “I am excited about the opportunity to coach in this new league and be a part of the Aviator family,” said Miller. Hanging up his skates after the Aces fell in the league championship series, Miller was focused on getting a job in the league as a head coach. “I’m definitely not playing again,” Miller said in July. “That’s pretty much 99 percent certain. I got asked to go play in Holland with a bunch of my buddies, but I’ve decided it’s time for me to get back into coaching. It’s definitely the coaching route from here on for me.” Miller has been admired by his teammates as well as by the opposition. “He was the biggest piece of the puzzle [last year],” said former teammate B.J. Kuper. “It didn’t matter if it was on the ice or on the bench.” With the season a few weeks away, the team has recently released a logo and will soon give details on the team’s schedule and ticket pricing. After it seemed hockey in Brooklyn was dead in the water, it has resurfaced possibly stronger than ever before. Be sure to check future issues of Bay Currents for more reports on the New York Aviators. Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net


Here are just a few of the places to pick up Bay Currents -- and some great coffee! ABS DISCOUNT GROCERY 2713 Ave. U (between East 27th and 28th Streets)

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SICILY NEWS 2155 Utica Ave. (between Avenues M and N

APPLE NEWSSTAND 4404 18th Avenue 718-633-5722

JOSEPH’S CARDS & GIFTS 3042 Avenue U (at Coyle Street) 718-648-0105

LAUNDROMAT & CAFE 1244 Avenue U (between 11th and 12th St)

MILL BASIN STOP 61-22 Avenue U at Mill Avenue

CORNER MINIMART 2423 Ave. U (at Bedford Avenue)

CAFE VERTORIS More Than a Bagel 2803 Ave. U (at East 28th St

BAY STOP GROCERY 2970 Ocean Ave. (Ocean Avenue at Avenue Z)

Quick Stop Mini Mart & Deli, Coney Island Avenue at Avenue U

QUIZNOS 37 Hillel Place (at Brooklyn College)

RAJ NEWSSTAND 2811 Glenwood Road (off Flatbush Avenue)

SHAKESPEARE & CO. 14 Hillel Place (at Brooklyn College) 718-434-5326)

STARBUCKS 33 Hillel Place (at Brooklyn College)

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Answers to the Bay Crossword from page 14

Key Food – /FQUVOF"WF Walgreens Drug Store – /FQUVOF"WF CVS – /FQUVOF"WF Peggy O’Neill’s -- 4VSG"WF American Suds Laundromat – 4VSG"WF Community Care Pharmacy – 4VSG"WF Saul’s Pharmacy & Surgical Supply – .FSNBJE"WF Major Meats – .FSNBJE"WF

Answers to the Bay Sudoku from page 14

AVENIUE U SUPERMARKET 1701 Ave. U (at East 17th Street)

Brooklyn Public Library– .FSNBJE"WF Sunshine of Coney Island Deli – .FSNBJE"WF Rite Aid – .FSNBJE"WF. Key Food – /FQUVOF"WF Madeleine Jones Day Care – /FQUVOF"WF Circles Bistro – $POFZ*TMBOE"WF Surf & Turf Grill – 4VSG"WF

S C U R A N I S H U B B N P A C O M E T R K O P S A T U R N L R U U M E T E G A N Y M E D E O A L P H A R L C V I N E P T U N E M I L K Y R N E Y U P H O B O S S E

by Matt Lassen

Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net

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L E I G H T O R

T I


Bloomberg to MTA: No more excuses. No more delays.

GIVE NEW YORK CITY THE SUBWAYS AND BUSES WE DESERVE. What Mike Bloomberg’s plan to reform mass transit means to your neighborhood: 

Create new F Line Express subway service in Brooklyn to ensure a faster and less crowded commute.



Create faster bus service by adding an express lane on the west-bound Gowanus Expressway.



Cut $247 million from the MTA bureaucracy and use the money for better bus & subway service.



Keep commuters better informed with a 311 Transit Hotline and “Countdown Clocks� that show when the next bus or subway will arrive.

“Our reform plan means faster, safer and better subway and bus service. If the MTA adopts our plan, it’ll make a real difference in the lives of the 7.5 million people who use the transit system every day.� —Mike Bloomberg

MIKE BLOOMBERG: STRONG, INDEPENDENT LEADERSHIP DERSHIP TO KEEP NYC MOVING MOVING.

WWW.MIKEBLOOMBERG.COM Paid for by Bloomberg for Mayor 2009


Volume 6 Issue 02