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Ye ar! th rS ev en Ou Sheepshead Bay • Brighton Beach • Marine Park • Manhattan Beach • Coney Island • Gravesend • Gerritsen Beach • Mill Basin

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Vol. 7, No. 1, September 1 - September 30, 2010

THE SUN: The good, the bad, the ugly Also In side:

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• Flea marke t raid • Not y our fat her’s libraria n • Onestop g arbage • Mart y’s cha in gan • I. Fre g idin • An o phthal molog vision ist’s

A thought for 9/11:

“The Dash”

Fr e e

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DaviD J. Glenn Publisher Suzanne H. Glenn Editor ReDRacH PRoDuctionS Graphic Design & Production WritErs izabela Rutkowski angelina tala Dominique carson angel Sanchez eric lima Contributors i. Friedin arlene Brenner Kerry Donelli Jacqueline Donelli Matt lassen

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Ruining a good thing Marty Markowitz has been presenting his summer concert series at Asser-Levy Park on the Brighton Beach/Coney Island border since long before he was elected borough president – in fact, the popular concerts likely helped him reach the borough’s highest office. Yes, residents around the park were irked by the noise, crowds, and traffic, but they didn’t make a big issue out of it -- after all, the concerts were only once a week during July and August, they were free, and they added clear enjoyment to the summer. But for reasons known only to himself, Markowitz has stubbornly persisted – against a torrent of opposition, against an array of quality-of-life concerns, and amid a local and national economic crisis – with plans for a massive, $64 million amphitheater that would bring in all kinds of shows much more frequently than once a week, not just in the summer, and not for free.

He is now in very serious jeopardy of causing the demise of the concert series itself, because as opponents have turned over rocks in their battle against the amphitheater, quite a few worms have crawled out. Some examples: A little-known – and apparently not widely enforced – city law was discovered that prohibits the use of amplified sound above a specified decibel level within 500 feet of a synagogue, school, or certain other facilities in session at the time. There are not one, but two synagogues well within 500 feet of the park. With the help of Mayor Bloomberg and City Councilman Lew Fidler, Markowitz was able to push through a law in the City Council to temporarily exempt the concert series from the regulation. Amphitheater opponents who took their own decibel readings report that the sound level of the concerts has exceeded even the temporary regs.

Letters To the Editor The Cooperative Community Organization, which I represent, has been struggling to bring the problems of co-ops to the attention of our elected officials. Two years ago, we organized a protest rally in front of the Manhattan office of then-State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. Now, we are trying to implement our ideas into city and state laws. The Housing Committee of the City Council is reviewing a new bill, sponsored by Councilman Lewis Fidler, which would block the several loopholes used by many boards of directors of co-ops and condos. We have met with Councilman

Fidler, as well as Queens Councilman Marc Weprin, head of the council’s Co-op and Condo Task Force, and have offered several amendments to the bill. We have suggested that public hearings on the problems of co-ops be held. Additionally, the Housing Committee of the state Assembly is reviewing the state laws on co-ops, considering a bill, sponsored by Assemblymen Jeffrey Dinowitz from the Bronx and William Colton from Brooklyn, which would restrict the ability of the sponsors of unsold shares to influence the election and performance of directors on the boards of co-ops and condos.

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We were surprised that many city and state lawmakers were not aware of the problems that ordinary coop shareholders face and the many violations committed by boards of directors. If you are a co-op or condo shareholder, we ask that you contact us, and we will forward your complaints and concerns to city and state lawmakers as they consider these new bills. E-mail us at ninafried5@verizon. net or call 718-432-6616. Alex Litvak, Midwood Editor’s note: bay Currents will stay abreast of the progress of these bills, in our print and online editions.

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It came to light that Markowitz for years has been using prisoners from Rikers Island, paid about 40 cents an hour by the Department of Corrections, to set up the paid chairs at the concerts – while these jobs would have fit in perfectly with the Bloomberg administration’s very own Department of Youth and Community Development programs to give local teens summer jobs, keeping them off the streets and out of jail. Markowitz’ director of the concerts, Debra Garcia – sounding more like a Walmart executive than a public servant – told Bay Currents that if she were to hire locals, “then I’d have to pay people… I have to cut costs wherever I can.” In late August, only after this became public, the D.O.C. announced that it would no longer provide the cheap labor for Markowitz’ concerts. It’s likely only a matter of time – and not very much time – before other revelations surface.

Never Forgotten

9/11 Memorial Service 9th Anniversary Candle Vigil

September 1 - September 30, 2010

Date: Saturday - September 11, 2010 Time: 6:30pm - Rain or Shine Place: Bill Brown Park - Handball Court Avenue X and Bedford Avenue Please, join us once again in honoring the memory of those who perished on 9/11/01. Bring a candle; bring a chair; bring your memories, thoughts & prayers.

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Cover Stories

Wonder Wheel to be lit ‘off the grid’ By ErIC LIMa lima@baycurrents.net The 16 swinging rides of the Wonder Wheel soon will be lit by the wonder of the sun. So is the plan by Deno Vourderis, grandson of Wonder Wheel founder Constantinos Dionysios (Denos) Vourderis. The project includes 32 solar panels connected to batteries that will store solar energy during the day to light the ride at night. The Wonder Wheel lights were removed about 30 years ago due to safety concerns. Vourderis, who turned 29 in June, says he has spent the last four years researching, purchasing and creating the eco-friendly installation. He then created his own circuit panels and attached them to a battery, to harness electricity without Con Edison – “off the grid,” as it’s called. Last February, while the Park was closed for the winter, Vourderis – after spending four years of studying and $30,000 for equipment and supplies -- was ready to install the panels. “I built a fail-safe mode system into it, so if for some reason I lost power or if someone broke in at night and tampered with the circuits, the battery system would shut itself off and no one could turn it back on but me. Even if someone were to get on top of the car and open the box while it was on, and licked it, they couldn’t get an electrical shock” because the voltage is so low -- about equivalent to the power needed for a cell phone, Vourderis said. “I can turn it on -- and program a show -- from anywhere in the world with a computer or even a cell phone, as long as

WIFI is available. I can make the lights move to the music. “ Several companies and organizations offer alternatives Vourderis still has to pay an independent company to on-the-grid power. One of them is Community Energy, around $5000 to inspect his work when he’s finished. Inc., which says it can switch you to wind, solar, and hydro And now he has to work overtime installing the solar sources for a 6 percent increase in your electric bill, or panels, because he works during the day with the rest of solely wind energy for a 10 percent increase. Its website is the Vourderis communityenergyinc.com family managing The Wonder Wheel Deno’s Wonder The Wonder Wheel was built in Wheel Amusement 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Park. But after Company using Bethlehem steel four years he forged right on the premises. The believes he’s done website for Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park something that states that the WW has had “a perfect will contribute to safety record for its entire history.” the public good – It adds that “each year, the entire to demonstrate on 400,000-pound ride is overhauled and an internationally painted to protect it from the weather, known icon that wear and tear.” alternative energy The Wonder Wheel was named an is practical. official New York City landmark in 1989. BAY CURRENTS PHOTO “I didn’t do this Deno Vourderis connects solar-powered lights to the iconic Wonder Wheel A full-size replica of the Wheel stands to save money on in Disney’s California Adventure, and in electricity,” he said. Yokahama, Japan. “I’ve always been environmentally conscious. I don’t drink The only time the Wonder Wheel stopped turning out of plastic bottles. I have a metal container and I fill it up during normal operation, the site says, was on July 13, with Brita water. I went to Manhattan today and bought a 1977, when the entire northeast lost electrical power in a Coke and brought the can all the way back to Coney Island blackout. Riders were brought down safely by workers with me because I wanted to make sure it was recycled. hand-cranking the Wheel. “It’s our only planet, and we need to protect it. If everybody The Wheel, with a diameter of 140 feet, stands 150 feet does something, some people don’t have to do everything.” high, and can accommodate 144 people at once.

Confessions of a ‘tanorexic’ By IZaBELa rUTKOWSKI rutkowski@baycurr ents.net For four years Beata Maslinska’s weekly timetable matched the schedule of the closest tanning salon. She had to get tanned at least three times a week, preferably on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; if it didn’t happen, she was depressed and furious at the same time. Maslinska didn’t use any protective lotions, believing that it would cover her skin and prevent her from getting the perfect tan. After tanning she also applied self –tanning aerosol to make her skin look even browner. Petite Maslinska with natural pale skin and blonde hair now says she had been addicted to tanning -- “tanorexic” as she put it. It’s been two years since she overcame it. “It all started when I was 17 and had to wear silver braces,” she said. “My teeth looked yellowish and I noticed they were whiter when I was tanned. Tanning boosted my self-esteem. Now I realize that it was an addiction.” During the last year of her tanning habit, Maslinska spent $300 for the unlimited monthly tanning pass that gave her unrestricted access to the best tanning beds in the city. “I knew all kinds of tanning beds and lamps,” she said. “I was an expert.” Maslinska made friends with people working in the tanning salons as well as customers who visited the places as often as she did. But all this changed when, at age 21, she started to see wrinkles on her body. “The wrinkles, not the fear of getting the skin cancer, helped me quit tanning,” said Maslinska, who now goes to the tanning salon just once a month. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, on the average day in the United States, more than 1 million costumers, mostly girls and women, visit Bay Currents is your newspaper -- you count!

tanning salons. The number of skin cancer cases is rising every year. Researchers connect this increase to the ultra-violet radiation from the sun and tanning beds. The academy says that 1.3 million new skin cancer cases are likely to be discovered this year in the U.S. Dr. Marcia C. Deitz, a dermatologist at Coney Island Hospital, said that tanning in the salons is more dangerous than natural tanning. “The dermatologic medical community does not recommend tanning in the tanning salons,” she said. “They are trying to get the word to the public that tanning salons are harmful to people’s skin and should not be used at all.” Regular summer tanning is also risky. “Just going out in the sun to get a tan is not recommended, either,” Deitz said, adding that while going out during the summer, everybody should use sun block. “There are different SPFs (Sun Protection Factors) of the sunscreens. People should use the higher number [of SPF] if they have fair skin, but they don’t have to use quite a high number if they have a darker skin complexion,” she said UV rays cause extensive damage to the skin, ultimately causing skin cancer, aging and wrinkling, Deitz said. “The more ultraviolet damage is done, the more chance of having those effects,” she said, adding that a tanning bed has a high concentration of harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Zofia Plaskota, who has owned a tanning salon for seven years, said that tanning in the salon is absolutely safe if it’s done right. Plaskota didn’t want to reveal the tanning salon’s name because she said the information she was sharing was confidential. “You have to do it step by step, from sessions of four minutes,” she said. “The healthy norm is getting six days pause between tannings. It’s also important to put the protective balm and plastic glasses that we provide in the salon.” Plaskota said she realizes that some of her clients are addicted to tanning. “We have girls who get tanned five days a week, some request double sessions,” she said. “This kind of tanning is dangerous.” Plaskota and Maslinska said that people come up with different excuses when they don’t want to admit they are addicted. “One of my friends claimed that she tans because she needs vitamin D,” said Maslinska. Dr. Deitz said that this pretext is a myth. “Just walking outside in regular clothing gives enough vitamin D,” she said. She debunked another myth, too – that going to tanning salons in the winter helps with overcoming winter depression. “You are not seeing the sun if you go to a tanning salon,” she said. “It’s not the same. Tanning salons do not help with seasonal depression.”

“Tanning boosted my self-esteem. Now I realize that it was an addiction.”

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No more chain gang at Asser Levy Park By DAVID J. GLENN publisher@baycurrents.net Borough President Marty Markowitz may have $64 million ready to build a largely unwanted amphitheater at Asser Levy Park, but he hasn’t used any of it to pay people to set up chairs for the current concerts at the park – he has gotten free labor from the city’s Department of Corrections, which has sent prisoners from Rikers Island to do the work. But the beep’s free lunch is over – the D.O.C. has announced that the arrangement, under which the D.O.C. paid the prisoners 35 to 40 cents an hour, will no longer be in place next season. For at least the past nine summers, the jump-suited prisoners – two busloads of them – have been setting up and taking down the 2,000 chairs for attendees who pay $5 for the seats at the Thursday night summer concerts at Asser Levy (the concerts are free if you sit on the grass or bring your own chair). Previously, Markowitz had used “chain gangs” – they’re not actually in chains – from the state prison system, but the state stopped the program after

about 15 years, citing budget problems. Undeterred, Markowitz turned to Rikers Island. But now the city, citing similar money woes, also pulled the plug ��� shortly after the program became widely known this season. “We save a lot of money this way,” Debra Garcia, Markowitz’ executive director and producer of the concert series at Asser Levy as well as at the Martin Luther King concert series at Wingate Field in Crown Heights, where Rikers prisoners also are used, said earlier, before the city’s announcement. “We’ve been doing this every summer for at least as long as the nine years I’ve been here,” she said, adding that “no one is forced to do it.” However, D.O.C. spokesman Stephen Morello said the prisoners in fact were mandated to do the work. Unless there’s a physical reason not to, “all sentenced inmates in city jails are required to have a work assignment.” He added that the concert detail “is a useful way for those in custody to spend their time in jail, and also make a contribution to the community.” The arrangement at the two concert sites was the only such work group in the city other than two work details near Rikers itself.

Many residents, already angered by Markowitz’ plans for the massive amphitheater, don’t like the presence of scores of prisoners in their neighborhood. Morello said the prisoners were “not deemed to be a security risk,” and that they were “closely monitored” by D.O.C. guards. Rikers Island houses some 14,000 inmates awaiting trial, serving sentences of less than a year, or awaiting transfer to state prison for longer sentences. Many residents resented that Markowitz was using cheap prison labor when so many people in the area are out of work and could use the jobs, even for a few hours a week. In fact, the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development, a program set up by the Bloomberg administration, coordinates such jobs for city teens who sorely need the money. Garcia had said that if she were to hire locals, “then I’d have to pay people. You have to understand – this is a non-profit [operation]. We have to pay the going rates for the big-name entertainers we get, and we offer the concerts for free. “I have to cut costs wherever I can.”

It’s hot at the flea market –and we’re not talking about the weather By ANGEL SANCHEZ sanchez@baycurrents.net

Ever wonder why items sold at f lea markets are so cheap? One reason might be is that much of the inventory could be stolen. At the West 12th Street Flea Market on Surf Avenue in Coney Island, “they sell stolen goods all the time,” one police officer told Bay Currents after a horde of police officers swarmed Several women the flea market earlier this summer. unleashed their badges Johnny, a local and told everyone in the resident was standing flea market to stand up in line waiting to buy against a wall... some of the bargainpriced goods just before the raid. A young boy ahead of him tried to purchase an iPod. As the man behind the counter handed the boy the iPod, several women unleashed their badges and told everyone in the flea market to stand up against a wall. “The officers searched me and the man who sold the boy the iPod. I left as more police officers came,” said Johnny. “You can go to the West 12th Street flea market any afternoon and you will see along the walls iPods, smart phone and expensive electronics that they steal on the beach or boardwalk,” said the police officer. “We traced down a phone number that belonged to a kid’s cell phone that was reported stolen, and we found it in the West 12th Street Flea Market. The same thing happened with a girl whose cell phone was stolen. Whenever we walk close to the flea market they shut down.” Then why is the West 12th Street Flea Market still open? “The law says that they are innocent until proven guilty -- it protects both citizens and the flea market,” said the officer. “What I suggest to you is that you should go there yourself and sell them an expensive phone, take a picture of it. Then have someone else come in and say, ‘Hey I want to buy that phone’…and they will just give it to you.” Johnny had a prediction: “The West 12th Street Flea Market is being watched by the Coney Island police. They are going to get raided constantly until they’re shut down.”

‘Betty Boop Lady’ sues the cops Elisa, known as the Coney Island Betty Boop Lady because of her extensive collection of Betty Boop dolls, runs the Coney Island Flea Market at 1220 Surf Avenue on West 12th and Surf Ave, open seven days a week. Elisa pays about $2,500 a month rent for her space. Her biggest income comes from electronics that she purchases from China. Elisa described to Bay Currents what happened on the day of the June raid. She was haggling with a man over the price of a cell phone he was offering. He told her, “Just give me something, I need subway money.” As soon as money exchanged hands, police stormed in, forced her to open one of her closed booths and confiscated her personal computer, cell-phone SIM cards and other electronic items. She was arrested at 4 p.m. and not released until 11pm. -- without being charged, she said. Elisa told Bay Currents of another raid, in 2009. She said one of her employees was Maced by police while Page 4

September 1 - September 30, 2010

he was standing still, and that she was punched in the throat. She was arrested for allegedly punching a female officer and breaking her nose (Elisa claims the officer was pulled in the midst of their fight by one of the women in the crowd and that it was that woman who punched the officer). She has filed a lawsuit against the 60th precinct. Police didn’t respond to requests for comments by press time. Elisa says that she tells all her customers that her cell phones are bootlegged from China. She wants support from the community to keep the flea market open. She mentions her community service as one of the reasons why -- she says she takes all the leftover food from her Thanksgiving dinner and hands them out to the homeless. “Ask anyone of the homeless people around here about what I do for them and they will tell you that I do a lot,” she said. -- Angel SAnchez Visit us at: www.BayCurrents.net


Out of work? Watch this! Beach trash cans no longer a toss away By IZABELA RUTKOWSKI rutkowski@baycurrents.net The boardwalk is not the only element of Coney Island and Brighton Beach that has changed this year -- Parks Department officials also have decided to create garbage stations that position trash cans in specific places close to the boardwalk, as opposed to random places closer to the water as it used to be for years. “We’ve placed clusters of baskets at each of the beach entrances and exits,” said Phil Abramson, a spokesman for the Parks Department, who said that the collection stations have elevated signs that people can’t miss. “This way they can drop off their trash as they are entering and they are leaving,” he said. Abramson said that the previous practice of putting cans all over the sand was eliminated at most of the public beaches because of safety and efficiency. When the cans are in random places, the trash collectors had to make many stops in order to reach all of them. The arrangement is safer for the tractors that clean the beach during the night, since “they can move in the straight lines rather than zigzagging around the trash cans,” he said. Abramson said the rearrangement was a pilot program that will be adjusted if necessary. “Litter in Coney Island is our big concern,” he added. Visitors to the beach had varying opinions about the garbage stations.

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Becky and five of her friends took the trashcan from the collection station and dragged it closer to the water. “I don’t know if it’s legal, but we are going to spend all day here,” she said. “We have a cooler full of food and water so we will have a lot of garbage. We don’t want to walk all the way there. The sand is too hot.” Jay Williams, who works for the Department of Sanitation, bikes to the beach at least five times a week. “I don’t see more garbage on the beach -- I think I’ve seen it worse when the cans were all over the place,” he said. Williams said that during the busy days at the beach, before the collection centers were set up, some single cans couldn’t accommodate the amount of trash and people simply put their garbage around the cans. “It’s also obvious that it’s easier to collect the garbage from one place,” he said. Robert Steckman said he doesn’t like the new solution. “Now you have to carry your garbage from the beach to the garbage can,” he said. “People are too lazy to do that. Nobody is going to take their garbage from all the way down by the water to a place by the boardwalk. It’s not a smart move by the city.” Anatoly Seyn said he likes the stations because he doesn’t have to sit close to the garbage can while being on the beach. “It’s kind of good that they put it away,” he said, adding that all visitors are responsible for cleaning after themselves while leaving the beach despite the distance from the trash cans. “There should be more police around and fines given to people who don’t obey that,” he said.

If you’re among the victims of the recession and its unemployment numbers, you might like to view a short film by independent filmmaker Eric Norcross -- it may inspire you to hang in there. Go to www. baycurrents.net for a link to the 12-minute video. Norcross offered some background on the film(sPoiLEr ALErt: read this after you see the film!): Jack Moran, a 32-year-old 9-to-5er who is pursuing acting as an avocation (he had a small part as a hotdog vendor giving Tina Fey a frank in an episode of “30 Rock”), scripted the film based on a friend who made his living working in the insurance business. After Lehman Brothers fell, the friend found himself “out on the street,” and realized that in order to get back on his feet, he had to face the reality of the situation and work minimum wage jobs he never thought he’d have to resort to. Norcross takes the description from here: I helped Jack develop his script so that it would be different from some of the other economy-driven material out there. I didn’t want to make a film that outright attacked any company or industry, as is the impulse, but rather, make a film on how it’s up to all of us as individuals to make it right

for ourselves - and to try to stay away from the blame game. It’s not a very popular idea, but to us it seemed like the most original approach at the time. We started shooting the film in July 2009, filmed scenes through August - and then in September we did pickups - additional scenes to round off the story. One of the additional scenes we added was the main character being robbed - the reason: we needed a mechanism for the character to come “full circle” and realize that it was up to him to not be violated this way; he needed to fight back. We also improvised the ending with the two bosses who fired him initially, to be out of work at the end. This part was never planned - but it seemed to fit the whole full-circle approach we were going for. We would like the film to be seen by people who are out of work or refusing to take low- pay jobs because they’re worried it lowers their status. I feel like it’s an inappropriate time now to reject any job offer, especially if the person is living off savings and the person living next door would jump at the opportunity in a heartbeat. This is very common with a lot of people I know who have wound up jobless for one reason or another. Let us know at editor@baycurrents.net.

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Poetry Currents

Not your father’s librarian graduated from the School of Library Science at Pratt Institute. She is now a “cluster librarian” for six branches carson@baycurrents.net -- Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Olmer Park, Gravesend, Homecrest, and Sheepshead Bay. Quick – what image comes to mind if you think of “I didn’t grow up thinking about becoming a librarian, “librarian”? A book-wormy, school-mom-like elderly but my parents took me to the library in Park Slope and it woman ready to say “Shhhh!” at the slightest whisper? was a part of my growing up,” she said. As I got older, my Eileen Kassab, for one, wants you to know this is a false friends and I would hang out at the Park Slope Library and image – and she’s living proof. we would usually get kicked out for being noisy. Kassab is a librarian in the Brooklyn Public Library “Later on, I was a single parent finishing system, but she’s also a wife, mother, a psychology degree -- I had loans and I and a singer/songwriter for Lost in the “I got the job and needed a job and the library was hiring. I got Stacks, a group of librarian-musicians I never regretted it, the job and I never regretted it, because it (or is it musician-librarians?). was the best thing that ever happened to me. because it was the She is also starting an acoustic It’s a rewarding opportunity a privilege music ensemble with her brother and best thing that ever because you have the chanceand to direct people cousin, to be called Missing in Action. happened to me” in the right place.” “My mom and my mom’s mom The library, she stressed, can be many were very involved with music when things to many people in the community, for my grandmother was a sharecropper during the Great everyone from toddlers to the elderly. Depression and my mom used to play the piano, but she But Kassab fears that resources will be limited through wanted a guitar,” said Kassab. “But my mom’s mom told budget cuts. Although the Bloomberg administration her if you pick cotton a lot, then you have the guitar. She decided that no library employees would be laid off as was used to sing to us until we went to sleep. We would play as predicted, the Brooklyn branches will be open five days a a family -- the seed was planted from birth.” week instead of six (except for the Brighton Beach branch, Kassab took music classes in college while she was which will continue its Saturday hours). getting her degree in psychology with a certificate in Early “There’s a reason why Brooklyn Public libraries have Childhood Education. She wants to go back to school to get been around for over 100 years,” Kassab said. “The library a bachelor’s degree in Music. has evolved with the needs of the people. Kassab, who now has a master’s degree in library “It is a safety net for the community.” science, began working in a library in 1983 when she By DOMINIQUE CARSON

The Dash

By Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning...to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on Earth and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth. For it matters not, how much we own, the cars...the house...the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash. So think about this long and hard; Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged. If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more And love the people in our lives we’ve never loved before. If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile... remembering that this special dash might only last a little while. So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?

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Shhh! Don’t tell the Cyclone! By IZABELA RUTKOWSKI info@baycurrents.net There was a cake in a shape of a gift box with a frosting bow, candles, champagne, warm wishes and a surprise “Happy Birthday” song. The 83-year-old honoree could be excused for not blowing out the candles – rollercoasters usually don’t have mouths. The Coney Island History Project commemorated the Cyclone’s 83rd birthday with fans and friends of the iconic ride that was born on June 26, 1927. “The Cyclone is 83 years old and it is still the most exciting landmark ride in Coney Island,” said Charles Denson, executive director of the Coney Island History Project, adding that there are still people who remember the first ride on the Cyclone. “It was really fun to have a surprise party for the Cyclone,” said Tricia Vita, the Project’s administrative director. “Shh! Don’t

tell the Cyclone!” The visitors sang “Happy Birthday” four times and at the end rose their hands up, as people do while riding a cyclone wagon. Kathleen Lisson from Albany came down to celebrate her 36th birthday on the same day as the Cyclone. “I was thrilled to celebrate my birthday by screaming my head off on the Cyclone!” she said. “It felt just as scary as I remember from a few years ago, but it seems to go on for longer the older I get! I enjoyed the camaraderie of being scared and excited with my fellow riders.” Paul Hommond came with his friends from Canada to ride Cyclone in Coney Island. “I didn’t know that it’s that old,” he said. “It looks scary, and I’m happy to be here during Cyclone’s birthday.”

Vita pointed out that the Coney Island Cyclone is on the Facebook. “It has more than a thousand friends,” she said, many of them from Europe. One of the European friends is Wietze Braem from Adinkerke in Belgium, who said in an e-mail message that he visited Coney Island three weeks ago and rode the Cyclone with his mother. “It was great!” he wrote. “We have a wooden roller coaster in Belgium, but it is not like the Coney Island Cyclone. The coaster in Coney is a real wooden thing.” Denson cited a few interesting facts about the Cyclone, an official New York City landmark. “It’s [similar to] the first roller coaster, the switch-back railway that was built in 1884,” he said. “Also, in the 1970s, they rode the Cyclone backwards.”

The 83-year-old honoree could be excused for not blowing out the candles...

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Kids for kids The only thing that does work out is the online video game her dad got her, where she can be the illustrious elfin character Allora, with perfect defenses against the very things that bother Maddy – bullying, shyness, and lack of friends. Online she also meets the only friend she’s had in a while, the charming Sir Leo, who becomes a comfort when life gets tight. Gamer Girl is a very quick read. That doesn’t mean it’s short, but it flows very well, without losing rhythm. I am not a very swift reader, and I managed it in one day. Every chapter leaves you wanting to read more, mostly because of Mari Mancusi’s original and very accurate portrayal of the voice of a sixteen-year-old girl. Just the right slang is used, which makes it closer to the heart than some third person story with too many SAT words. Mancusi doesn’t dwell too much on any part, but doesn’t fly by something important, either. Each event is allotted just the right amount of time. My only negative is that many bends in the road can be anticipated by the reader, since the plotline isn’t anything too out of the ordinary. It is this predictability that could endanger the book to be listed as a “typical young adult novel.” Still, I believe that the fact that it is so well-written compensates for this. Overall, Gamer Girl is a fun read. This is just the book you’d want to pick up after staggering away from

In this third installment of KIDS FOR KIDS, we present a series of spirited book reviews by students at Mark Twain Intermediate School. There are more to come – pick up the next issue of Bay Currents, or visit www.baycurrents.net

Gamer Girl By Mari Mancusi Reviewed by Arina Bykadorova

It’s the first day of school – except four months into her sophomore year. It’s time to start over – except she’s been dressed by her grandma into “a pair of bulky, pale blue “mom jeans” that came up past my belly button and a totally non-fitted oversized sweatshirt with – brace yourself here – frolicking unicorns embroidered on the front. Isn’t that a fabulous way to start fresh in a new school teeming with “Aberzombies” and American Eagle addicts? Yet, such is a sum-up of Maddy Starr’s life, in the first chapters of Gamer Girl, by Mari Mancusi. Despite the title, which might at first strike the average adolescent as cheesy, the book is full of references that we can all understand. There’s no doubt about this novel – it’s for today’s teenagers. Maddy Starr’s life is somewhat standard for a realistic fiction book. Her parents get divorced, her mother can’t pay for her high school in Boston, and she has to move from the city into the suburbs, where she is bullied by the popular kids. Nevertheless, Mancusi takes the cliché plotline (that could probably be found in a school anti-bullying brochure) and spins it into a fast-paced, relatable modern novel. After they move into her grandma’s house in the ’burbs, she is nicknamed “Freak Girl” by her classmates. Even outside of school nothing seems to piece together.

something dark and gloomy. Original, witty, and clever, its words strike true in its readers’ minds and capture their concern for Maddy. Will she win the manga contest and go back to the Boston Academy? Or make do with Hannah Dunstin H.S.? Fairy-tale or tragic ending? There really is only one way to find out -- and I highly recommend it.

Peeps by scott Westerfield Reviewed by Caroline DeSantis Though Peeps may bring to mind images of sugar-coated marshmallow bunnies, this new novel is far from a sickly sweet read. It’s a fast-paced science fiction novel, seamlessly blended with adventure, romance, and even a little horror, leaving readers turning the pages and craving more. Author Scott Westerfield joins the vampire craze with his new novel, Peeps. Teenage protagonist Cal happens to be a vampire. However, the similarities between this book and other clichéd vampire stories end here. Westerfield describes vampirism scientifically, and categorizes it as a disease. There are no magic or supernatural forces involved. This disease is cause by parasites, and the term “vampire” is used rarely in the book. It’s referred to as parasite positive, or peeps for short. After a one night stand with a mysterious woman named Morgan, Cal becomes one of these peeps. However, due to a genetic mutation, he can continued on page 16 live a normal life without

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Twice the Advice

By Jacqueline and Kerry Donelli

Raised in a barn Dear Twins; My husband and I are long-time best friends with another couple since high school actually, right through college, and now they have two children and we have three. They invite our entire family quite often over for dinner, and of course, we reciprocate in kind. The difference is that we have taught our children to have table manners, and you’d think their kids were raised in a barn. They scream and yell at the table, fight, reach across other people’s plates for food, spit, and even throw food! And their parents barely say a word! We’re such close friends with the parents that I don’t want to make waves, but how do I handle this?

--Boiling Mad

Kerry says: Dear Mad I would suggest one of three things. Option 1: Tell your friend that because the kids (not necessary to point out it’s only hers) get rambunctious, why don’t the adults have dinner alone from now on; so whose ever turn it is to bring the kids, will instead hire a babysitter, and whoever is serving will feed the kids in advance. Option 2: Go out to dinner -- after all, you are

adults and you don’t want to always have adult conversations in front of your children (and I bet the children don’t much care for it, either). Option 3: Tell your friend you think it’s a better idea for the kids to eat together at a separate table and in the kitchen so you can enjoy each other’s company in peace.

Just a baby Dear Twins; My sons are 5 and 9. My 5-year-old is very sensitive and absolutely adores his big brother. He follows him around and tries to do everything his big brother does. Unfortunately, my 9-year-old doesn’t want to give him the time of day, because he’s “just a baby.” This, of course, makes my 5-year-old cry. There are other 5-year-olds in our neighborhood, but my son only wants to be with his big brother. It’s a vicious cycle, and I don’t know how to break it. My 5-year-old should be playing with kids his own age, and his big brother should be a little more caring, don’t you think?

Jacqueline says: Dear Mad, The truth is, there is not much you can do when your friends raise brats; maintaining your friendship with your friends can often be hindered by them. The “who raised these kids?” syndrome will invariably continue to the end of time. If you tell your friends that they are not raising their kids right, it will invariably end up in a fight and end your friendship. It’s just not worth it. I would take some of Kerry’s suggestions, especially the last. Have the food-throwing youngsters sit at another table -another room, even. Make general announcements to all the kids like, “Okay troop, food stays on the table tonight” to open up the eyes of the parents that it is not okay to have a food fight in your home.

--Baffled Kerry says: Dear baffled, The best you can do is to encourage your 5-yearold to do the things he enjoys doing. You and your husband can participate if you’d like. Also, make play dates with his other classmates. By inviting his friends over to play or taking your son to his friends’ houses, over time, will get him in the habit of playing with children his own age. Yes, your 9-year-old could stand to be

a little more patient, but he’s a kid, too, and shouldn’t have to spend all his free time playing with his little brother. Who knows, maybe if your 9-year-old notices how much fun your 5-year-old is having, he’ll feel like joining in. But forcing him to do so only perpetuates the vicious cycle.

Jacqueline says: Dear baffled, The worst thing you could do is force the oldest to play with the youngest. It would just create animosity and give him a reason to reject his brother even more. Eventually they will BOTH grow out of this, so don’t worry yourself. Kerry’s advice is sound. I suggest you follow it.

Have a problem? Maybe the twins can help. Contact them at advice@baycurrents.net or at TWICE THE ADVICE bay Currents 2966 Avenue U, Suite 108, Brooklyn, NY 11229

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Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny holds his award for dedication to the arts in Brooklyn, surrounded by artists participating in the Aquatic Coney Island Art Show at Coney Island Hospital, presented by the Brooklyn Streetcar Artists Group. Lost in the Stacks, a band of librarian-musicians, performed at the opening of the exhibit, which included a silent auction to aid the people of Haiti. See the Bay Currents video of the opening activities at www.baycurrents.net

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Holistic Wellness

Local ophthalmologist’s vision comes true By ARLENE BRENNER, M.S. health@baycurrents.net While this column is called Holistic Wellness, this article could well be called Global Wellness. As I was talking with my husband’s ophthalmologist, Dr. Millie Fell of Brighton Eye Associates, prior to his cataract surgery, she mentioned in passing that she was leaving for the Dominican Republic to volunteer her medical services. I was deeply touched by that and knew immediately I had to find out more about this service and the type of person who would give of herself in this way: Dr. Fell has been practicing ophthalmology since graduating from New York University in 1987. She has multiple credentials in ophthalmology and a busy practice in Brighton Beach. I asked her why she decided to volunteer her services. In a heartfelt way, she told her story. “Tikun Olam, repairing the world, is a core Jewish value. I feel blessed to have chosen a profession which enables me to improve people’s vision and perhaps in a small way, contribute to Tikun Olam. I always wanted to do this and I promised myself that when my children were grown, I would. It is the ultimate of what you go into medicine for, to help people in any way you can. You get back more than you give improving the quality of patients’ lives.” She joined the Volunteer Health Program, established about 15 years ago by an ophthalmologist and his wife from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. A Jesuit group,

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the Institute for Latin American Concerns, built a mission in Licey near Santiago, Dominican Republic to provide medical care for the impoverished indigenous population living in huts and clay homes, for which there is little or no access to medical care. The Jesuit Mission built a medical facility including a clinic, operating room and housing for the patients and medical staff -bungalows much like what kids stay in when they are in summer camp. The beds were equipped with mosquito netting. While the facility may not be ideal in comparison to our medical facilities here, for the patients there it was a blessing – most of them were rural and poor, and had never seen a doctor or even received any medical care before. Dr. Fell was one of 14 physicians in the group, which included cataract surgeons, corneal surgeons, pediatric ophthalmologists, ophthalmic plastic surgeons as well as an anesthesiologist, a dermatologist and an internist. There also were many registered nurses, ophthalmic technicians, operating room technicians and lay people. Alongside the medical staff were young, enthusiastic Peace Corps volunteers who acted as Spanish translators. In a week’s time, the volunteers saw 1,300 patients. Although Dr. Fell’s specialty is in ophthalmology and surgery, she brought her skills and expertise to whatever was needed. A typical day began at 6 a.m. with 250 patients waiting

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at the clinic door. “It was heartwarming to enter the clinic area each day being greeted by trusting, grateful and hopeful patients,” Dr. Fell said. “One might have thought we were royalty by the looks of awe and respect in their faces.” The doctors and staff were on their feet from 7:30 in the morning until 7:30 at night. An array of illnesses needed to be addressed, including pterygum -- a growth of scar tissue that covers the eye in response to over-exposure to sun and wind, inhibiting vision – all too common among farmers in the sun-rich climate of the Dominican Republic. Many of the patients were totally blind in one or both eyes from a number of causes. Dr. Fell reported conditions needing eye and plastic surgery that she had not seen before -- even after years of providing medical care at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as well as her own practice. “You do what you have to do. And the patients are so appreciative,” she said. The group was able to collect thousands of old glasses from the United States -- Dr. Fell was elated to witness firsthand the effect of corrective lenses on the population, particularly of a young girl who had an astigmatism and could see continued on page 14 for the first time.

Page 13


Senior Currents Are The Elderly More Easily Scammed? By BENJaMIN raDFOrD news.discovery.com We have all seen news stories about elderly folks scammed out of their life savings by unscrupulous criminals. And often those reports come with the warning that old people are especially vulnerable to con artists. It is widely assumed, but why would that be? Why would older people be more likely to fall for scams and swindles than younger people? One would think that the best defense against being conned is experience: A person who has lived 70 or 80 years, by definition, has much more experience in the world than a person in his or her thirties or forties. That’s decades more time to learn about how the world works, to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. People get less, not more, sheltered the longer they live; thus logically older people should be older and wiser, not more gullible. We’d also expect that children and teens are far more easily scammed than adults, yet we don’t hear much about them being conned and swindled. There are a variety of reasons for this; for one

thing, there’s not much reason to scam a child or teenager. The point of a swindle is steal money by trickery instead of by force. But children and teens make inherently unlikely targets for scams because they don’t have jobs and therefore don’t have much money—and anyway anyone wanting to take money from them would more likely do it by force (such as stealing a kid’s lunch money or expensive new cell phone). Young adults get swindled and scammed all the time, by everyone from Wall Street Ponzi schemers to workat-home scams to miracle weight loss pills. Swindles and scams are so commonplace that they are hardly noticed—unless they happen to a group perceived as especially vulnerable, such as the elderly. The fact is that, contrary to popular belief, simply being old does not make a person more vulnerable to scams. It is not age

but two other factors that make the elderly more attractive to con artists. The first is obvious: money. Older people, on average, are wealthier than younger people, with lifestyles funded by pensions and life savings. The second factor is more sinister: the elderly are more likely to have mild cognitive impairments that might make it difficult for them to manage finances on their own, and so their financial affairs are sometimes entrusted to others whose motives may not be pure. But just as there are poor elderly, mental impairment does not only plague old people; many old people are sharp as a tack, and millions of Americans under 50 suffer from mental health issues that might make them vulnerable to financial exploitation. Everyone—young or old, rich or poor—needs to be vigilant about scams.

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continued from page 13

Eye

Before ending their service to this community, the group had the sad task of telling patients -some who had brought their entire families for care -- that all the surgical slots had been filled. They would be back next year. “It really expands your perspective on life in general,” said Dr. Fell. Besides the spiritually satisfying gift of serving a people in need, there was another great benefit for Dr. Fell -- the camaraderie between health care professionals. Since there was no payment for staff, no insurance issues, no overhead, no politics and no business competition, the volunteers were able to bond in a very significant way, each cooperating and giving care together to the best of their ability. Lifelong friends were made. “Without the worry of bureaucracy, medicine can be practiced for medicine’s sake,” Dr. Fell said. “How many people wouldn’t be happy to positively affect another human being’s life at some point in their life?” she added. “We volunteers got to do that many times over during our stay, and I feel I get to have that privilege every day in my office. It’s what keeps me going.” Is she going back again next year? “Absolutely,” she said. Resources • Dr. Millie R. Fell, M.D., F.A.C.S, Brighton Eye Associates 2727 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11235 718.332.0444 www.brightoneye.com www.VHP.net • Institute for Latin American Concern www.creighton.edu/ministry/ilac/

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Crossword 1

It’s in the stars...

2 4

3

6

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7 8 9

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DOWN 1 No longer a planet 2 One of the two moons of Mars 4 Orbiting telescope named after him 6 Closest to the sun 7 _____ shifting 9 Electromagnetic ________ 10 Largest moon of Pluto 11 First to see moons of Jupiter 14 Atmosphere of carbon dioxide 17 Our star

ACROSS 3 _____ year 5 “star with hair” 6 _____ Way 8 Shooting star 12 _____ Centauri 13 Largest moon of Jupiter 15 Looking for alien life 16 The sixth planet 18 Outermost known planet of the Solar System 19 Atmosphere of hydrogen and helium

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5 9

28 5 1 8 9 3 5

1

1 4

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Kids for kids continued from page 8 the devastating effects of

the sickness. Instead of becoming cannibalistic and destroying the things he once loved, he experiences only the perks of being a peep: super human strength, smell, and eyesight. Despite these additions to his character, Cal is still a teenager who deals with girl problems and struggles to fit in. Now, it’s Cal’s job to hunt down other peeps and stop the virus from spreading and infecting even more people. That includes tracking down the strange woman who infected him. Throughout the story, told in first person narrative through Cal’s eyes, Westerfield describes some parasites in great detail, explaining how they are necessary in our world, as well as the disastrous consequences they can have on their hosts. These chapters are not for the weak stomached though; they include nauseating descriptions of hookworms, plasmodium, and screw flies. Cal describes these parasites and their importance to the plot in just enough detail- he explains what’s going on, but leaves you with a small enough amount of information to keep you guessing. With its unique plot line and thrilling chapters, this sci-fi novel stands above the rest of the vampire books. Scott Westerfield has produced another science fiction masterpiece, and it should be picked up by all teen readers. His book won several notable awards, including an ALA Best Book of 2005 for young adults. Just make sure you have enough time to read it entirely through, because once you start, you won’t want to put Peeps down for a second.

Stargirl by Jerry spinelli Reviewed by Amanda Liu “Did you see her?” It’s only the first day of junior year

and the rumors are spreading already. In the quiet, dull, and indifferent halls of Mica Area High School, that was all the students could hear. Who’s the “her” they’re referring to? She’s Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl. Your typical eleventh grader, Leo Borlock is the narrator of this story, who’s just like the rest of Mica High – and doesn’t plan to change either. However, there’s a new student, who calls herself “Stargirl.” She’s fresh and bubbly, the exact opposite of her classmates. It becomes obvious that she’s not the average tenth grader when she suddenly begins to strum her ukulele in the middle of lunch and serenades everyone on their birthdays. She leaves the entire school bewildered when they find out that she brings her pet mouse, Cinnamon, to class every day. For Mica High, Stargirl is too different, but this is what sparks Leo’s interest. This, too, is what makes me and others love Stargirl. Stargirl’s peculiarity keeps readers turning pages. That is also what keeps Mica interested in her. The students admire her, while keeping a distance at the same time. Personally, I first read Stargirl for one reason – it was mandatory for English class. However, when I learned about how others can’t understand her, I just wanted to be able to reach out and help her. Readers often want to sigh when they hear about her – she doesn’t notice anyone else’s opinions, and she puts everyone else before herself. She also does not seem to have any reaction to all of this. Stargirl is probably only one of the few people who still practice “random acts of kindness” so often. She always does the unthinkable: attending funerals, buying

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gifts, making cards – all for people that she didn’t know. Leo wonders, “Why couldn’t she be like everyone else?” Ashamed of his love for the most bizarre girl in school, he pleads for her to try to become “normal.” However, after being marked as different, can she really become something that she’s not? Spinelli created a girl who seems to be questionable, yet she is a lovable and warm character. Stargirl’s story has touched many readers nationwide, receiving notable awards that include ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults, Publisher Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, and Parents’ Choice Gold. When Spinelli ended Stargirl, he left me full of curiosity. The conclusion definitely left me wishing that there was a girl as fascinating as her in my school. What will become of Leo and Stargirl? Can she ever be what others consider normal, or will she continue to go her own way? Follow Jerry Spinelli’s greater-than-life character in Stargirl.

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Financial Currents

Q & A: School expenses, long-term care By JOSEPH REISMAN financial@baycurrents.net Q. I have to pay some school expenses. What do you suggest? A. There are a number of ways to pay for tuition, books, and school supplies. 1) First, do you have any U.S. Savings Bonds? Generally the interest is federally taxable unless you meet these exceptions: a) The bonds were purchased after 1989 b) You were over 23 years over when purchased c) The money is used for higher educational costs. d) The money is used for you, your spouse, or a dependent, and e) You meet the income and phaseout limitations: $105,000 - $135,100 for marrieds; $70,100 - $85,100 for others. 2) How about using the money in your 529 plan? Use it tuition, room and board, fees, books, supplies, and equipment. Plus, through the end of 2010, use 529 money for a computer and internet expenses. No 529 money? Contribute now – today – and withdraw the funds in two weeks. You still get a State tax deduction, at least in New York. (Sorry, not in New Jersey.)

3) Did you open a Coverdell ESA? Use these funds for either post high school or for primary and secondary school, at least through December 31. Expenses include tuition, fees, tutoring, expenses for special needs children, books, supplies, computers, room & board, uniforms, and transportation. The allowance is very broad as you can see. 4) My favorite: get a scholarship or fellowship, including a Pell grant, to cover tuition, fees, books, and equipment. Free is always good; and it’s for you if you are an athlete, musician, nerd, or have financial problems. And not only can it be free to you, it’s not taxable! Note though that free money for room and board and travel expenses are taxable. Hey, take what you can get. 5) Use your Traditional IRA money. I don’t approve of this, but it is available. The funds you withdraw are taxable, but not subject to the 10% early distribution penalty for those under 59 ½. (There are some twists and turns here like if some of the money was not deductible on your tax return, or it you’re taking it from a Roth IRA. Check it out with your tax advisor.) 6) Let your boss pay. Work it out. Up

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• A higher benefit, maybe $75 a day, depending upon the level of disability. • No lifetime or aggregate limit. • Like any insurance company, the government can adjust premiums for both current and future enrollees. • The government will be able to reduce daily benefits. The Reality Wrongly, many people rely solely on Social Security for retirement. Social Security is only meant to be a supplement. Here too, this program can only be a supplement. A daily benefit of $50 or $75 is laughable, considering the average daily cost of a nursing home is over $200, and a licensed in-home health aid is at least $20/ hour. Add the uncertainty of the cost and benefit of this Government program, as those in poor health will probably sign up faster than the rest of the population. Should you participate? Don’t know, as all the facts aren’t in yet. One thing for certain, if your advisor has suggested purchasing a long-term care policy, DO IT. You can always cancel if the government protection meets all of your needs.

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to $5,250 is tax free if your job has a qualified educational assistance program. And if the classes are job-related, all your education and training is considered a tax-free fringe benefit. 7) And finally, don’t forget the Hope and Lifetime credits which can reduce your income tax, and may even result in a refund! Q. How important is long-term care insurance? A. As part of the new health-insurance reform, the CLASS, the Community Living Assistance Services and Support program, has been established, to be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Purpose To help seniors to stay in their homes. The benefit can be used for home health care aides, adult day care, installation of safety features, like bathroom grab-bars and handrails. However, the funds can also be used for assisted living or nursing home care. Eligibility • Program participation is voluntary. • All active workers will be eligible, regardless of health. • Worker must need substantial assistance to perform at least two or three (to be determined) of the ‘activities of daily living.’ These are eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing and maintaining continence, or have substantial cognitive impairment. The Cost • A monthly premium will be deducted from the paycheck. • Premium will be based solely on age when entering the program, with the average premium being $1,500, (younger workers pay less, older workers pay more). • Worker will be eligible for benefits after five year of paying premium. (So, if implemented in 2011, benefits can begin to be paid in 2016.) • Worker must have worked at least three of five years after entering program. The Benefit • The minimum benefit is expected to be $50 a day.


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Opinion Cultural capital of the nation…but for how long? By I. FrIEDIN ifrieden@baycurrents.net New York, the place to which they f lock from every corner of the nation; every corner of the planet; the business capital of the world; the cultural center of the nation; America’s most progressive city. Okay, we can strike out that last one. Two oppressive Republican administrations and migrations of more conservative peoples have thrust us backwards in the city that even in the most regressive of eras, led the nation in social innovation. But it’s not just social innovation that has been suppressed. The arts -- the soul of our city -- have also been under siege. The administrations of Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg have displayed indifference or outright hostility to this vital part of what makes our city the greatest in the world. Although Giuliani attempted to dictate what was considered to be art in one of our public institutions, the most prestigious centers of high culture themselves have not been under direct attack; at least no more than any other institution threatened by today’s tight budget constraints. But that is not all that makes this city such a great cultural center. It’s the people who come

from around the world to create; the starving artists who dedicate themselves to their unique conceptions. The stereotypical starving artist (most have or try to secure steady paying jobs) has never received a great deal of respect from the general public, but the harassment they’ve been facing under these administrations has been unprecedented. Never before in memory, at least since the lifting of public censorship, have artists been under attack by the government of this city. Giuliani was unsuccessful in his unconscionable attempt to chase the artists off the streets, considering them pests in the same vein as the squeegee men. And there was the above mentioned attack on the Brooklyn Museum because he deemed a particular piece offensive. Today artists can be found throughout the city, spilling over from Manhattan into the boroughs, with Brooklyn becoming a major center. Artists and galleries have proliferated throughout the borough with centers from Williamsburg to Red Hook and beyond; even a gallery in our own Coney Island Hospital. A center in Manhattan is Union Square Park, where art, fine and otherwise, is displayed by the artists, trying to eke out a few dollars for their creative efforts. Maybe not the Met, but something that speaks for our city as the center of the cultural world.

Apparently however, His Honor doesn’t see it that way. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, he seems to consider them pests, or intruders, and has taken measures to “thin out” their numbers. When people think of galleries, they often conjure up visions of opulent spaces with well-dressed people mingling to discuss and purchase five and six figure works. Most galleries however are far different; small rooms with a few pieces by up and comers struggling to have their work viewed and hopefully sell a piece or two. Exhibitions generally start with an opening reception; usually with fruit, cheese, wine and beer. These days, as has been reported, this has become another money maker for his honor’s coffers as police wait by these openings to pounce on anyone who might step outside for a smoke or a breath of air with a beer or wine. Sure, having alcohol in the open is illegal but what about the “spirit” of the law? Is it meant to discourage public drunkenness or to harass struggling artists? Harassment of artists is an attack on the soul of our city. If Bloomberg’s policies succeed he will wind up chasing up and coming artists from the city. How long will it take to lose the mantle of Cultural Capital of the Nation…another thing we can strike from what has made our city great?

The American Ideal

Much has been said about the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, but as an American I must chime in with a few words. Certainly, emotions run high. The horrible act in the name of Islam will always remain with those who lived through it, and we can never know how many generations it will take to ease the pain. But as has been stressed often in this column, it has been a long, hard fight to battle the hypocrisy and to work toward the ideals set forth in the Bill of Rights. It is under siege again in so many ways -- we must honor the freedoms it embraces.

The presidential oath requires the chief executive to defend the Constitution, which President Obama expressed in his statements on the mosque controversy. He showed no direct support; simply an avowal of freedom for all religions in this country. Unless something is uncovered to show a direct tie between the mosque and terrorists or their money, as Americans, as repugnant as it may seem to some, we must allow the project to go forth. The Bill of Rights was created to protect the few from the many. If we allow this violation today, who will it be tomorrow? - I. Friedin

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Bay Currents Volume 7 Issue 1