Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Wonderland

We're enjoying a few days up in the mountains.  Santa was kind enough to deliver over a foot of snow, on top of a few pop-culture goodies I was coveting:

That last one I have been looking for in used bookstores for about six years, with no luck.  Thanks to the popularity of Game of Thrones, it's been reissued and ended up in my stocking.  Now, it's a hot cup of coffee, a fire in the hearth, and some good entertainment.  I wish you all the same!
(EDIT: Updated with Amazon links for my Christmas goodies - already tearing through Fevre Dream)

Friday, December 21, 2012

PPW Bike Lane Haters Have No Shame

At long last sir[s], have you no decency?  

For Jim Walden, Iris Weinshall, Norm Steisel and the rest if the gang, the answer is no. No shame, either. 

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park: An Unnecessary Evil

Perhaps evil is a strong word but it does make for a nice turn of phrase. 

There has long been consistent, strong and reasoned opposition to building condos in the park. Park space is scarce enough as it is, it's a tenuous financing scheme, it amounts to a quasi-privatization of parkland.  It also happens that the park will flood during a storm surge, as was made abundant clear by Hurricane Sandy. 

The Bloomberg administration has remained stubbornly wedded to the idea of a self-financing park. The recent storm experience gives the Mayor an opportunity to rethink his position, and I hope he takes it. 

And if we just can't shake the concept of a self-financing park, a version of the re-zoning finance plan offered up by Senator Squadron could make it work, without shoehorning condos into parkland. 

* The case of One Brooklyn Bridge Park is an exception.  Leaving a solidly constructed existing structure actually makes economic sense. 

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Smith/9th Street Opening Delayed

Sometime in Q1 2013, we're told.  I'd read that as "late March". 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Traffic Calming on Court

I'm not sure when this was installed, but I was happy to see it this
morning. A two-fer: improves visibility at the dangerous Pacific
Street intersection while adding bike parking. Nice.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Tappan Zee Replacement, Location Adds to the Cost -

A 50 year old folly, soon to be compounded.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

R train’s Montague St. Tunnel expected back on Friday

Another piece of the system restored after Sandy. This should help a
lot with Downtown commutes.

Fixing South Ferry is going to be an expensive, drawn-out mess
however. And the refurbished station will have to be hardened against
a repeat if this disaster.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I never stopped to wonder where the word marshmallow came from until I
noticed "mallow" as an herbal ingredient in my Ricola cough drops.

Quite an interesting origin as a sore throat remedy from the
marshmallow plant. Modern marshmallows have no medicinal properties
(or any marshmallow), but I do believe in the restorative power of

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Thursday, December 13, 2012


FCC finally cracking down on the obnoxious practice of ramping the
volume on TV commercials.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Flipped Car on Huntington Last Night

Crazy.  DOT is going to implement a "slow zone" in Boerum Hill.  Perhaps it's time to consider one for Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill as well.  A 20 MPH speed limit on residential streets improves street safety and quality of life for residents.
More information on DOT's neighborhood slow zone initiative here:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elected Officials and Advocates Push for Brooklyn Gateway Plan

An excellent plan. Here's a link to the report (pdf):


Sent to you by Gary via Google Reader:


via Mobilizing the Region by Joseph Cutrufo on 12/11/12

TSTC Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool (left) and New York City Council Member Letitia James (right) spoke at Tuesday's release of BK Gateway Transportation Vision at DeKalb Station in Brooklyn. | Photo: Ryan Lynch

Population and transit ridership have skyrocketed over the last twenty years in Brooklyn, but the New York City Departments of Transportation and City Planning have yet to develop a plan to accommodate increased demand on the borough's transportation infrastructure. A group of elected officials, civic groups and advocates are bringing attention to the matter with today's release of BK Gateway Transportation Vision, a report that highlights the challenges facing Downtown Brooklyn and the need for a comprehensive transportation-land use plan for the area.

The BK Gateway area, defined as the downtown neighborhoods bounded by the East River, Nostrand Avenue, Empire Boulevard and 9th Street, has seen a surge in residential and commercial development, is home to the brand new Barclays Center arena, has seen dramatic increases in transit ridership and has suffered hundreds of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in recent years. The report lays out a number of key recommendations to help accommodate growth, ease congestion and improve safety, including

  • implementation of residential parking permits,
  • targeted subway service improvements on the R, N and D lines,
  • creation of a "Pedestrian Safety Rapid Response Team" to address safety concerns around the Barclays Center
  • and an expanded protected cycling network, paricularly along Flatbush and Atlanic Avenues.

The Vision grew out of discussions with community boards and after a community charrette last March and ongoing community outreach will continue to identify areas of concern within the Gateway area. A follow-up community meeting is expected to take place on Saturday, January 26.


Things you can do from here:


"Tell me again how that person won’t miss her Medicare"

To raise the Medicare eligibility age would be cruel, counterproductive and unnecessary. The money quote:
"Here's the thing, once again: all of this is unnecessary. The deficit caused by Bush's tax cuts, wars and recession will be largely mitigated by reinstatement of the upper income taxes, drawdown of the wars, growth(duh!) and, most importantly, controlling health care costs, the best method for which would have been expanding Medicare to cover everyone. We don't need to make this "clever" accounting change that will result in elderly and disabled people suffering. .... (Hell, we could even raise the top income tax rate above the Clinton levels, at least for those making a million dollars a year. These people have been making out like bandits and surely won't miss the money.)"


Sent to you by Gary via Google Reader:


via Hullabaloo by (digby) on 12/11/12

"Tell me again how that person won't miss her Medicare"

by digby

This piece by Aaron Carroll explains in full detail why raising the Medicare age is daft (and cruel):

What you're seeing is life expectancy at age 65 broken out in to the top half of earners and the bottom half of earners, from 1977 to 2007. I got these data from a study that appeared in Social Security Bulletin in 2007. The paper was entitled, "Trends in Mortality Differentials and Life Expectancy for Male Social Security-Covered Workers, by Socioeconomic Status." We know that average life expectancy went up less than 5 years overall in this period. But what's somewhat stunning is how much of a disparity there is in these gains. The top half of earners gained more than 5 years of life at age 65. The bottom half of earners, though, gained less than a year.

If you raise the age of eligibility by two years, then you are taking away more years of Medicare than half the country gained in longer life. Moreover, we've already taken away these people's Social Security. The Greenspan Commission in the early 1980s made it so that the retirement age is already 66. It's scheduled to rise to 67. So those at the bottom half of the socioeconomic ladder have already lost more years of Social Security than they've gained in years of life life expectancy at 65.

Sure, in a perfect world poor young seniors could get Medicaid if we take away their Medicare. That is, of course, if their state accepts the Medicaid expansion. Many haven't. Less poor young seniors can go to the exchanges, I suppose. But if you're a 65 year old widow and you make $46,100 a year in a high cost area, then your premium will be over $12,000 for your insurance. And you could owe another $6250 in out-of-pocket costs if you get sick. Tell me again how that person won't miss her Medicare.

(He also explains is simple language why this whole " raised life expectancy" trope is nonsense to begin with. It pertains to life expectancy at birth not at the age of retirement. The designers of social security and medicare understood this even if nobody else seems to.)

So, we know that raising the Medicare age is a bad idea. How about the other very "clever" idea floating around these discussions: changing the accounting formula to cut benefits across all federal programs?

Here's the answer from Social Security Works:

Some politicians in Washington are preparing to cut your Social Security COLA for good--even after two years without getting a COLA. This COLA cut has an obscure name: chained-CPI. But it would do real damage by changing the formula used to calculate the COLA. Here's what you need to know about it:

It's a benefit cut. It's not some minor technical change to the COLA. It's a real cut to the benefits you have earned every year into the future.

It cuts benefits more with every passing year. After 10 years, your benefits would be cut by about $500 a year for the average retiree. After 20 years, your benefits would be cut by about $1,000 a year.

It hits today's Social Security beneficiaries. Politicians like to say that their cuts to Social Security will not affect those getting benefits today. Wrong! Switching to the chained-CPI would hit all current beneficiaries.

We need a higher COLA, not a lower one. The current COLA is not large enough--it does not adequately account for large health care cost increases faced by seniors and people with disabilities.

And it's not just social security. It's veterans and military retiree benefits, disability payments, federal worker pensions, anything the federal government funds.

Here's the thing, once again: all of this is unnecessary. The deficit caused by Bush's tax cuts, wars and recession will be largely mitigated by reinstatement of the upper income taxes, drawdown of the wars, growth(duh!) and, most importantly, controlling health care costs, the best method for which would have been expanding Medicare to cover everyone. We don't need to make this "clever" accounting change that will result in elderly and disabled people suffering. We can get serious about a rational national security policy, controlling health care costs, and espurring conomic growth and stop listening to the disaster capitalists who are intent upon using this window of opportunity to cut the programs they hate, whether the economy is good or bad. (Hell, we could even raise the top income tax rate above the Clinton levels, at least for those making a million dollars a year. These people have been making out like bandits and surely won't miss the money.)

If you know any veterans or military retirees, you might want to pass this fact sheet along to them. They tend to get testy when their promised benefits are threatened. They are a constituency worth organizing against this.



Things you can do from here:


Fwd: Watershed Relief Map Presentation

Not sure if the formatting will hold up, but giving it a shot. What a amazing map 

NYC H2O logo   

Watershed Relief Map Presentation     

Saturday January 12, Noon 

Queens Museum of Art   

Watershed Map
Watershed Relief Map (DEP website)

New York City hosted the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing, Queens. To show off the city's water system that tapped mountain springs as far as 100 miles away, the Cartographic Survey Force, a branch of the Works Progress Administration, constructed a 3-dimensional model of the system out of wood and plaster for @ $100,000 (about $1.5 million in today's dollars).

Measuring 32 feet by 20 feet it never made it to the Fair and instead was put into storage; some said it because it was too big, but others have said it was to protect the City's Water system from spies as the country was beginning to contemplate war.  It was shown once in 1948 - at the city's Golden Anniversary Exposition - and then forgotten. In 1991, DEP's chief architect Michael Cetera discovered it sitting in the Jerome Avenue Pumping Station (built 1906) when he was charged with renovating the landmark building. The map was in rough shape after 40 years of neglect. In 2006, it was restored by McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Ohio and has been on display at the Queen's Museum since 2008.

You can now see the map for yourself and hear about its story from NYC water educator Matt Malina.

This is a family friendly event. The Queens Museum also has a scale model of the entire city that is not to be missed. This event is free with a suggested $5 entrance fee to the museum.  

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Streetsblog New York City » Council Members Call for Countdown Clocks at Bus Shelters

Brad Lander in the news again with a sensible call for bus countdown clocks.

The benefit to countdown clocks is disproportionate to their costs.
It's hard to calculate the state of emotional wellbeing that derives
from having some certainty over your bus or subway arrival, but it's
significant. In addition to Weprin's practical coffee example, the
reduction in stress and agitation is huge.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Park-n-Ride Hell

I'm just going to take this full post, and say I concur. 

Sent to you via Google Reader

Park-n-Ride Hell

I'm all for more trains everywhere, but instead we should really be encouraging (and by encouraging, I mostly mean allowing) infill development around stations instead of spending immense amounts of money on parking. Philly has a very extensive commuter rail system, and plenty of the stations are in places which are almost-sorta-kinda-walkable, but the big parking lots around the stations don't help that. Zone for multi-story, multi-family mixed use around the stations. That's the way to get more riders.

On Thursday, the SEPTA board approved spending up to $282,788 for 4.86 acres owned by real-estate developer Wolfson Verrichia Group Inc., of Plymouth Meeting. The deal is still in negotiation, and the board on Thursday authorized SEPTA officials to acquire the property rights by condemnation if the developer declines to sell.

"We've had numerous discussions, and it's our intention to amicably acquire it," said SEPTA real estate director Gerald M. Maier.

About 3.5 acres would be used to build a 600-space parking garage, and 1.3 acres would be used for an access road to connect with U.S. 1, Maier said.

Parking constraints at many stations are real, but the solution isn't more parking. It's more people being able to walk.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Surface Parking Lots - The Image of Urban Blight

Serendipity to get these two links together in my Google Reader feed:

It's smart development policy to revise our property tax calculations - at least in an urban environment where development is a desirable good. 

Cheap land taxes mean that a speculator can park (pun intended) a desirable property for decades gambling on a big payday, to the detriment of the surrounding community.  It doesn't have to be that way. 

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Friday, December 7, 2012

What Krugman Says


388 Bridge Rising Fast

As a (office) refugee from Sandy (55 Water still out of commission)
I've lost my awesome vantage point for viewing downtown Brooklyn and
surrounding areas. I didn't realize just how fast this one was going

That's a good location for dense development. As opposed to say,
Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope or Windsor Terrace. The dense
and moderately dense complement each other.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Old and Improved Eastern Parkway

Nice restoration and improvements. I'm looking forward to the finished product.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brooklyn Bridge Park Ped Bridge To Be Erected This Month

I'm looking forward to taking the bridge from Squibb Park over to the waterfront.  It will make a nice loop for a Promenade walk and return via BBP.

Video of 7 Line Extension to Far West Side

Fun to watch.  MTA should do more of these!

Effect of Low Rates On House Price Affordability

It's pretty dramatic. What will happen to prices when rates go up?

Hint: don't expect another meteoric rise in housing prices any time soon. Assuming the Fed ever raises rates again, or backs off their QE efforts, mortgage rates will rise putting a significant break on home prices. 

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Monday, December 3, 2012

50 Young Progressive Activists Who Are Changing America - The Huffington Post

If you're going to run for City Council and lose, it helps to ease the
pain when the winner turns out to be a really impressive talent.

Brad Lander, our City Council member for Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens,
Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Boro Park listed among 50
young progressive leaders nationwide.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

A Murder on Wall Street

Fascinating story.  I've long been of the opinion that our clandestine services are a fount of organized crime and corrosive to an open society.  And while intelligence gathering is a necessary and legitimate function, the whole directorate of operations is essentially a state-sponsored criminal enterprise.
But it does make for some fascinating stories.  Of course the unmentioned historical figure that this story brought to mind was Sirhan Sirhan. 

A Brewtopian Vision for Downtown Brooklyn

Theater chain moving in to City Point that pairs movies with food and libations.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Breaking: Court Blocks Carroll Gardens Homeless Shelter

At the very least lets get a little transparency into this process.
And maybe think a bit about the way the City is addressing (or utterly
failing to address) homelessness in NYC.

Our current system is a travesty and, contra my earlier praise of DOT,
a lowlight of the Bloomberg administration.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

City To Burn "Organic" Sandy Detritus In Open Air, Sparking Environmental Worries: Gothamist

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but this just seems like a real waste of
resources. Nobody out there could turn this stuff into engineered
wood products, or fuel for pellet stoves, or even generate steam or
electricity in the process somehow?

A lot of good hardwood went down in the storm.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Who wants to take over for Bloomberg on transportation? | Capital New York

Great public transit is one of the great equalizing/democratizing
features of our city.

Democratic candidates for citywide office should be embracing policy
that strengthens and extends the system, as well as keeps it

I am baffled that the Democratic field in this and the last citywide
election have failed to make transit, which has profound impacts daily
on the lives of every New Yorker whether they use it directly or not.

That the transit and livable streets policies were essentially ceded
to Bloomberg in the last election was not just bad policy but also
terrible politics.

We can't allow that again. And while we're on topic, Janette
Sadik-Khan's DOT has been the brightest spot of Bloomberg's
overextended tenure. She deserves to keep the job no matter who wins.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fox's 'Kitchen Nightmares' takes on Mama Maria's in Brooklyn, N.Y. - Newark TV |

I've heard that I absolutely must watch this episode. I'm looking
forward to it.

I don't think I've ever been to Sal's or Mama Maria's, but have run
into the owner at some CGNA meetings.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Where the water went

What Crappy said:

Sent to you via Google Reader

Where the water went

These were taken from the Hurricane Sandy Storm Tide Mapper. Notice the areas flooded. Never build or buy a house on: a barrier beach, landfill, low-lying areas, or within 1/4 mile of a river, whether at the surface or buried. You can't fool Mother Nature, and she can kick your ass.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

New York City Enclaves, Long Gated, Seek to Let In Storm Aid -

Interesting piece.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Monday, November 26, 2012

Alternate Side Back In Effect In Red Hook

Just in from DOT:

Alternate side parking (street cleaning) regulations are reinstated,
effective immediately, throughout Brooklyn Community Board 6,
including the previously exempt area west of Hamilton Avenue. The
reinstatement will allow for necessary street maintenance as storm
recovery efforts continue in Red Hook.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Big Site up for Sale, Development in Gowanus

Big property on the market in Gowanus.

Lightstone appears to be moving forward with their plans at the old
Toll Bros. site.

A lot hinges on the question: What will City Planning do with their
mothballed "Gowanus Framework"? This site is not zoned residential -
for now.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

The New Republicans -

Krugman with the truth:

"Second, today's Republican party is an alliance between the plutocrats and the preachers, plus some opportunists along for the ride — full stop. The whole party is about low taxes at the top (and low benefits for the rest), plus conservative social values and putting religion in the schools; it has no other reason for being. "

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

39th Council District to Include A Unified Park Slope

Previously split between the 33rd and 39th, no longer shall Park Slope
be rent asunder and bedeviled by confusing electoral campaign

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pardon Me For Asking: Question Of The Day: Smith And Clinton Traffic Insanity

Traffic nightmare:

Saturday afternoon we had to take my nephew out to a birthday party at
Floyd Bennett field. The traffic on 4th Ave, 3rd Ave, 9th St, Smith
St and Clinton St was like nothing I've ever seen.

I know the F train was replaced by buses, and the Battery Tunnel is
still problematic, but it doesn't seem like enough to explain that
level of traffic hell.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Google's gig-per-second broadband in Kansas could change data speeds around the USA

Google, Brooklyn needs you! 

One of many areas in which America is falling behind other industrialized nations. 

Where is our industrial policy?

Sent to you via Google Reader

Google's gig-per-second broadband in Kansas could change data speeds around the USA

From MIT Technology Review: "Google's effort to install a blazingly fast, gigabit-per-second fiber Internet service in the two-state metropolis of Kansas City—a speed 100 times faster than the national average—is a radical new business direction for the company, and perhaps provides an unorthodox model for how to rewire parts of the United States." And an interesting data point: did you know the US ranks 24th worldwide in broadband speed, with Americans downloading at an average of only 11.6MBPS? (via @bruces)

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Street Sweeping BACK In Carroll Gardens

As of tomorrow. Which in my world means Tuesday. 

From Community Board 6:
After conferring with the department we have been informed that EFFECTIVE TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 16th, STREET SWEEPING SERVICES WILL BE RESTORED IN BROOKLYN COMMUNITY BOARD 6, EXCEPT FOR RED HOOK where street sweeping services would be less effective due to the presence of temporary emergency lighting and other necessary equipment in the street.  Street sweeping services in Red Hook will continue to be suspended indefinitely.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alternate Side Parking Suspension Continues in Carroll Gardens

Just in from DOT:

Alternate Side Parking (street cleaning) regulations will be suspended indefinitely in Brooklyn Community Boards 6 and 18 as of Thursday, November 15, joining the previously-announced suspensions in Brooklyn Community Boards 13 and 15 and Queens Community Board 14. These localized exemptions will facilitate ongoing storm recovery efforts in areas with some of the most extensive damage. ASP regulations in other areas of the city were reinstated as of today, Wednesday, November 14 in order to allow for necessary street maintenance.

The additional suspension includes the neighborhoods of Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Gowanus, Boerum Hill, Bergen Beach, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Flatlands, Marine Park, Georgetown and Mill Island.

The previously announced ongoing suspensions include the neighborhoods of Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gravesend, Seagate, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Broad Channel, Breezy Point and the Rockaways.

Check the DOT website for more details.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Fairway Rebuilds in Red Hook

Good to hear. The (happily, unfounded) rumor was that Fairway wouldn't
be back. Looking forward to the reopening.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gothamist: Christine Quinn Vies to Become New York’s Post-Sandy Mayor

"Quinn, currently the speaker of the City Council, says she'll launch hearings into the city's hurricane response — and some good, granular ideas, like requiring the use of water-absorbing pavement materials. Plus some populist touches: Quinn says she's considering legislation to force Con Ed to bury electrical lines in vulnerable neighborhoods."

Regardless of the motivation, those are good ideas. We never lost power in Carroll Gardens. We never do. The utilities are buried here. But it's not only important for reliability - its a big part of what makes the neighborhood so beautiful.


Sent to you by Gary via Google Reader:


via Daily Intel by Chris Smith on 11/12/12

The emergency response to Hurricane Sandy is far from over, but the political reaction is in full swing. On Thursday President Obama will tour storm damage with Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, part of the opening act for the ferocious fight for federal money to rebuild and protect New York. The storm has also created an enormous new issue for the candidates to succeed Bloomberg as mayor in 2013, who need to present plausible visions of how to bolster the city's defenses against climate change. This morning Christine Quinn gave the first major post-Sandy campaign speech, even though the campaign hasn't officially begun.

There were some standard items — Quinn, currently the speaker of the City Council, says she'll launch hearings into the city's hurricane response — and some good, granular ideas, like requiring the use of water-absorbing pavement materials. Plus some populist touches: Quinn says she's considering legislation to force Con Ed to bury electrical lines in vulnerable neighborhoods.

Yet for all the infrastructure substance — and for all the finger-crossing that the Feds will pick up the vast majority of the tab — Quinn's speech was also a way to position her for next year. Outerborough resentment of Manhattan was always going to be a theme in 2013; the Sandy aftermath, in which residents of Staten Island and the Rockaways, among others, complained bitterly of being ignored, will only widen the city's geopolitical divide. True, there aren't many Democratic primary voters in the areas hardest hit by the storm, but Quinn, who is most popular and best known in Manhattan, could be vulnerable to an outerborough campaign strategy, especially from Brooklyn's Bill de Blasio or Queens's John Liu.

In today's speech, Quinn included an anecdote about summer visits to Rockaway Beach when she was a young girl, saying they were one of her favorite memories of her late mother, and described seeing that boardwalk laying in pieces last week. Her closing flourish was a call to "work together, as one city." At the end of the speech roughly three-quarters of the audience — mostly businesspeople at a midtown hotel breakfast meeting of the Association for a Better New York — gave Quinn a standing ovation. None of the candidates will win anything close to 75 percent at the voting booth next year. Quinn's remarks today showed she knows that assembling a mere plurality is going to be a five-borough battle.

Read more posts by Chris Smith

Filed Under: christine quinn ,2013 mayoral race ,hurricane sandy


Things you can do from here:


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The G Is Back

Expect some delays … but if this eight car setup continues it will be great news. 

I've been secretly hoping, perhaps irrationally, that the MTA could take advantage of the service outage to fix a few things on their list while cleaning up the disaster Sandy left in the system. 

This isn't exactly what I had in mind, but it has been on my wish list for years. Hoping for more surprises. 

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Obama re-elected (and amen to that)!

Thanks Ohio, and thank you Tea Party!

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Voting Today

No problem voting at the Carroll Gardens Library around 4:15 today.
Earlier today around 11:00 it was a debacle with hour long waits.

Why has our polling site been moved from PS58? PS 58 is a far better
venue. The library felt cramped.

Prediction: Obama wins, > 300 EVs.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Monday, November 5, 2012

Big News For Displaced NY Voters

Governor Cuomo has just issued an executive order that displaced persons can vote by affidavit ballot at any NY polling site - though only for races that they would ordinarily be entitled to vote on.  So if you're displaced from Red Hook and holed up in Syracuse, you can't vote in the local races but you can vote for President and Senator.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Update From Park Slope Neighbors

Eric McClure put together an update so comprehensive I'm just going to post it in the entirety below (note that the F train should be up and running later today, and 4/5 are already active):

Hurricane Sandy Update: Saturday 10:00 a.m.

Dear Park Slope Neighbor,

Here's the latest update from the Mayor's Office, via Andrew Olsen, Brooklyn Director of the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit, augmented in places with breaking news.  We've also tacked on some more info at the end.

While not all of the information in this update is directly pertinent to Park Slope or even Brooklyn as a whole, we're including it in case you want to communicate this information to others.

FEMA intake centers (MCU Park in Brooklyn and Mount Lorretto and Miller's Field in Staten Island) are up and running. Those affected by Sandy will be able to meet with FEMA, SBA, and HRA reps, have questions answered, and file the necessary paperwork for disaster relief. There are also charging centers provided at the two Staten Island location by Time Warner Cable which will be there through the weekend. 

We want to make sure that everyone who can and wants too will utilize these sites. They are operating 7 days a week and will do their best to address everyone's needs. 

Food & Water Distribution Sites:
  • Today we had 13 food and water distribution sites set up in the hardest-hit areas of the city.   
    • Yesterday we distributed 290,000 meals and almost 500,000 bottles of water and did a full distribution today.
    • These sites are staffed by NYC Service volunteers, the Salvation Army, and the National Guard.
  • The details of these sites, including the exact locations and hours of operation, can be found here:
    • The sites will be open from 1-5 Saturday and Sunday.
    • We will keep them operational for as long as is needed.
  • Each person will be able to take three meals and five bottles of water at these sites. 
  • People should bring their own bags to carry their food and water.
  • We are distributing hundreds of thousands of flyers in English, Spanish, and Chinese to get word out to these impacted communities.
  • AT&T will bring pods that provide cell service and charging stations to the areas around the food distribution sites, and also throughout Zone A.
Volunteering, Donating, and Giving Blood:
  • Cash donations to support these and other efforts can be made through the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.  Learn more here:
  • Generally speaking cash donations are preferable to in-kind donations because the logistics of collecting and distributing those supplies are complex
  • Those who want to volunteer can visit NYC Service at:
    • Giving blood is incredibly helpful right now.  For more information visit:
Disaster Assistance Centers:
  • Today we opened five of these centers that provide information about applying for emergency social and economic benefits.
  • Right now they are operating in temporary locations but we will have them in more permanent locations by late next week.
  • These facilities are being operated by the City's Human Resources Administration in cooperation with FEMA.
  • They will be open from 10am to 7pm, seven days/week.
  • There are two centers in the Rockaways, two on Staten Island, and one in Coney Island.  Here are the temporary locations:
    • Staten Island:
      • Parking lot at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto, 6581 Hylan Boulevard
      • Miller Field parking lot, 600 New Dorp Lane
      • The MTA is providing free shuttle bus service along Beach Channel Drive to and from the sites on the Rockaways.
    • Rockaways:
      • Parking lot of the Duane Reade pharmacy, B-116 Beach Channel Drive, Far Rockaway.
      • Fort Tilden Park parking lot, Beach Channel Boulevard, near Breezy Point.
    • Coney Island:
      • Parking lot at MCU Park, 1904 Surf Avenue.
  • There are three major disruptions in getting gasoline to the city:
    • Refineries are down
    • Pumping stations have no electricity
    • Terminals in the region have been closed
  • Power is now back on at the pipeline that serves our city, the Buckeye pipeline complex in Linden, NJ
    • Fuel will begin flowing again today or tomorrow
  • We worked with the Coast Guard and the Port Authority to unlock a barge that was stuck in port.  It has gone up the Hudson to Newburgh, where it is unloading 64,000 barrels of gasoline that will enter the supply.
  • We have a plan in place to ensure that fire, police, and other critical service vehicles have the fuel they need.
  • While there will be some lags and delays in getting gas to service stations, the major impediment to getting that done has been removed.
  • Until the system is fully restored we encourage people to not drive unnecessarily. 
  • New York City tap water is safe.
  • However water in Breezy Point is not potable and should not be consumed in any way. 
  • Traffic is very heavy in the city, particularly on routes into Manhattan.  We strongly urge people to not take their cars into Manhattan if at all possible.
  • The 3-person HOV restriction on crossings into Manhattan expired at 5pm Friday.
  • The Holland Tunnel is open to commercial vehicles and buses. Details here:
  • The Hugh Carey Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is still closed.
  • Alternate side parking is will be in effect Saturday.
  • Meters are in effect.
Mass Transit:
  • Commuters should expect extensive delays on mass transit.
  • Subways, railroads, and buses are operating on a modified basis. 
    • Lower Manhattan below 34th Street has no subway service, and some lines are still completely suspended (Breaking: 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines fully restored. D, F, J and M lines to be back later today).
    • LIRR and Metro North are running with modifications.
    • Bus service is largely restored
    • Fares on MTA services are back in effect.
    • All details on MTA service status can be found at:
  • Staten Island Ferry service is running and will be back on its full schedule Saturday.
  • The East River Ferry is running
  • PATH service is still suspended
  • NJ Transit services have been restored on a limited basis.  Details are here:
  • Public schools will be open on Monday. 
  • However, 65 schools will not open on Monday because of damage from the storm.  Students from those schools will not report to school on Monday as we repair damage and determine any necessary relocations
  • Information about these 65 schools and more can be found online at:
  • Con Ed has made progress in restoring power, with lights turning on for many people in South Brooklyn, Staten Island, and some parts of Lower Manhattan.  Con Ed has set a goal of restoring power to all Manhattan customers by the end of the weekend. 
  • Those parts of the city with overhead power lines still without service may not have it restored possibly until next weekend.
  • Anyone without power who is using candles for light should be extremely careful – do not leave them burning through the night and do not leave them unattended.  Candles can be a fire hazard.  Last night we had a fire started by candles.
Building Inspections:
  • The Department of Buildings is inspecting buildings in hard-hit Zone A areas to assess their structural integrity. There are three areas where these inspections are happening: Staten Island, the Rockaways, and Lower Manhattan.
  • Buildings will be tagged with one of three color placards to indicate their safety:
    • Green: the building is safe to enter
    • Red: the building is not safe and may not be entered
    • Yellow: it can be occupied conditionally (i.e. one floor may be safe while another is not.) These conditions would be explained on the placard.
  • Building owners can also self-certify with the Department of Buildings.
Support to Businesses:
  • We have put together a package of support for NYC businesses impacted by the storm:
    • Emergency loans of up to $10,000 for small and mid-sized businesses that have been interrupted as a result of the storm.
    • For larger businesses that were damaged, temporary City and State sales tax deferment on materials needed for rebuilding.
    • For businesses displaced from their locations, we're offering temporary office space free of charge at the Brooklyn Army Terminal for the next 30 days.
    • EDC has about 40,000 square feet of space at the Terminal that is now available for this use.
    • Loans up to $2 million are also available for business property losses not fully covered by insurance – and for businesses that have had cash flow problems caused by the storm and need funds to get back on their feet.
      • That applies to small businesses, agricultural co-ops, and most nonprofits, regardless of size.
  • To get information contact NYC Business Solutions by calling 311 or going to
Federal Disaster Assistance:
  • Anyone affected by Sandy – homeowners, renters, and businesses – can apply for federal disaster assistance.
  • They can register at or by calling the Federal Emergency Management agency at 1-800-621-3362.
Healthcare Facilities:

  • Bellevue, New York Downtown, Manhattan VA, NYU Langone, and Coney Island Hospitals have all been evacuated.
  • The number of shelters has been consolidated to 15, since many of the shelters had just a few people staying in them. 
  • Our shelter system will remain open until evacuees can return to their homes or find short-term housing.
Parks & Beaches:
  • We will open a majority of them by 8am on Saturday (including Prospect Park).
  • Details on park closures can be found here:
  • Because of sewer system discharges during the hurricane, no one should go in the Hudson or East Rivers, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay or Kill Van Kull, or on them in a canoe or kayak or for wind-surfing, until further notice.

  • We have lifted the ban on exterior construction work that we imposed before the storm.
  • The Department of Sanitation is collecting garbage
  • They are not collecting recycling.
Reporting and Handling Conditions:
  • 911 should only be used in case of emergencies.
  • To report other conditions such as fallen trees and sewer backups, please use 311 Online, text 311 at 311-692, or call 311.
    • Fallen trees are incredibly dangerous.  Anyone who sees one should report it immediately.  No one should try to cut down or move damaged trees themselves.
  • Power outages and live wires should be directly reported to Con Ed (1-800-75-CON-ED) or LIPA (1-800-490-0075).
    • Live wires are also extremely dangerous.  No one should touch them or be near them.
Health and Safety Information:
  • Any food – including packaged food – that was touched by flood water should be thrown away.  The flood water may contain sewage or other contamination.
  • Other items that have been touched by flood water should be cleaned and disinfected.  This should be done as soon as possible to prevent mold growth.
  • Tap water is safe to drink (except in Breezy Point).
  • Do not use generators or grills indoors.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat when these devices are used indoors.  They should only be used outside and kept away from windows and vents.
  • Everyone should have and use battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms. They should test the batteries if possible.
  • If someone experiences sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, confusion, weakness or the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, they should immediately seek fresh air and call the poison control center at 212–POISONS (212-764-7667.) They can also call 911, since poisoning is life threatening.
  • Important guides on carbon monoxide poisoning and food safety can be found at
Staying Informed
Thank you for all the work you are doing in your communities.  We will continue to make sure you have the information and resources you need to help our city recover.


Ryan Whalen
Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson

Here's some other information which may be helpful.  In general, there are significant needs for volunteers.

  • As most of you surely already know, the NYC Marathon has been cancelled.
  • Here are a couple great compilations of info about needs for donations and volunteer opportunities:
  • The Brooklyn Community Foundation has launched a Brooklyn Recovery Fund.  100% of funds donated will go to local recovery efforts in Brooklyn.  Click the link for info and to donate.
  • Five officers from the 78 Precinct and their families lost their homes and all their possessions to Sandy's wrath. Many others lost power, but have left their families in the dark and cold to come to Park Slope and keep us safe.

    We ask a lot of the police officers in our precinct, now the 78 Precinct Community Council is asking you to help our cops. The Council has set up a relief fund to help the homeless officers with immediate basic necessities including clothes and toiletries as well as future needs as the families rebuild their lives.

    Donations can be made payable to the: 
    78th Pct Community Council Relief Fund 
    c/o 78 Precinct Community Council 
    65 Sixth Avenue 
    Brooklyn, NY 11217

    You can drop off clothes, toiletries, gifts cards, etc at the 78 Precinct. The affected families consist of 10 adults (5 men, 5 women), a teenage boy and a 3 month old girl.
  • Leaves on sidewalks and gutters will contribute significantly to flooding problems if we get rain.  If it's at all possible, please collect and bag leaves around your homes.  We'll send information about facilities that will accept leaves for composting in a future update.

Thanks to Chris Owens, Jo Anne Simon, Rob Underwood and the 78th Precinct Community Council for additional information included above.


Eric McClure
Campaign Coordinator
Park Slope Neighbors

Graphic: Superstorm Sandy's Toll | TPM LiveWire

Powerful graphic.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Streetsblog New York City » Rebuilding New York City for a New Reality

Lets hope the paralyzing damage from Hurricane Sandy wakes some people
up to reality. Sam Schwartz's equitable transportation plan is one
piece of the puzzle.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Looks like we'll be getting a little sand in our collective bathing suits. Here's an update from Councilman Lander's office on measures the City is taking:

The City has ordered a mandatory evacuation of "Zone A," the lowest-lying parts of the city. To determine if you are in "Zone A," enter your address at the Office of Emergency Management websiteIf you live in Zone A, you must be out of your home by 7 PM on Sunday.

New York City Public Schools will be closed on Monday.

The MTA will start shutting down subway and bus service on Sunday at 7 PM.

Alternate Side Parking regulations and meters will be suspended on Monday.

Rather then send out additional emails, as we learn new developments, we will continue updating, and you can continue reporting hurricane related problems in our district on that page.

But, for the latest information, you should stay tuned to local news stations, call 311, or visit the City's severe weather webpage.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Onion ceases NYC print edition (so get a computer, Brooklyn)

And a small part of me has died. You will be missed, Onion print edition.,87987/

Sent from my iPhone

Ortine Closed, New Bar Opening on Halloween

I know the couple that owns this place. They're great people, and I'm looking forward to their new project. The constant road construction has been tough for them to endure, but they're still hanging in there. I'm sure Atlantic Co will have every bit of the attention to detail and care for customers that they put in to Ortine. If you're in that neck of the woods, check them out.

Sent from my iPhone

Uber CEO An Ayn Rand Fanatic

If this tool ever does get licensed in NYC I won't be using the service.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TOM THE DANCING BUG: "...You Just Might Have Romnesia!" - Boing Boing

My favorite cartoonist.

Sent from my iPhone

Meeting on Shelter Tonight, More Disturbing Revelations

Shocking that a convicted sleazebag was responsible for building the illegally constructed structure at the heart of this controversy.

While neighbors have their concerns about the shady details of this particular proposal and the sketchy characters involved, the broader issue is the lucrative, secretive world of NYC's corrupt and severely broken housing policy.

Sent from my iPhone

Brooklyn Islanders?

Technically, Brooklyn is part of Long Island after all. 

I thought I had read that the new arena was not properly configured to double as a hockey venue?  

Sent from my iPhone

How a High-Speed Rail Disaster Exposed China’s Corruption : The New Yorker

Fascinating read.

Sent from my iPhone

Voter Notices: Pay Attention!

We received our notification cards in the mail last night, and our polling place has changed again.  This is the third site in the past 12 months. 

Our new polling site is the Carroll Gardens Library on Clinton. 

Be aware - since the redistributing yours polling site may be changed as well. 

(Our longstanding polling site was PS58, though one if the primaries was held at Hannah Senesh)

Don't get surprised on Election Day!

Use the poll locator at the BOE website. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

BBP: Turf Going In At Pier 5

As seen from a height in lower Manhattan:

Joe Klein Is The Worst Person In The World

The banality of our evil pundit class. Blow up 4 year old girls over there, so it doesn't happen here.

No horrible long term consequences to come of that kind of thinking, nosiree. Let alone the horrifying immediate damage.

Monstrous. And yes, even more monstrous are the architects of this strategy.

Sent from my iPhone

Apple Press Conference and Iron Man 3 Trailer Release

Somebody is trying to give my inner geek sensory overload today.

Link to Iron Man trailer below. Marvel has really stepped up their game over the last 10 years.

Sent from my iPhone

Whole Foods to Open in Gowanus in Fall 2013

Craig Hammerman shared the letter last night. This is going to be a big change for that corner. I hope Whole Foods does a good job with the project.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, October 18, 2012