Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Next Track Fire?

A mess on the tracks at 51st and Lexington, southbound platform.
Please don't litter in the subway. Please don't litter at all.

Geraldo Rivera ‘Truly Contemplating’ Senate Run

This project will be every bit as fruitful as his search of Al Capone's vault.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

False Bomb Scare at PS58 - South Brooklyn Post

An asshole decided to call in a phony bomb threat to PS58 this morning.

All is well, aside from a brief evacuation and a LOT of upset parents,
if my inbox is any indication.

Nothing to worry about, though the school may want to reconsider the
way messaging is handled in the event of a real emergency, or even
another hoax, or a drill.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Streetsblog Capitol Hill » Keeping CNN Honest: 10 Ways Anderson Cooper Got the Rail Story Wrong

CNN is devoid of value. It has negative value - it detracts from the
sum understanding of the people who watch it.

To say that CNN is better than Fox News, which is not a news
organization at all but rather the propaganda wing of the GOP, is no

CNN is essentially a messy ball of ignorance, incompetence and
validity held together with foundation and hair product.

Even if Anderson Cooper is a handsome fellow with silvery hair and
good jeans (get it?).

Gowanus Canal dolphin was already sick: Marine biologist says mammal was not killed by toxins in Brooklyn waterway - Daily News

As expected, the dolphin was sick and dying. I imagine he was just
looking for a shallow place with weak currents to rest when the end

And 25-30 years old, apparently a ripe old age for a dolphin.
Everybody's got to go some time. For me I hope it's some time after
ninety, and someplace that's not the Gowanus Canal.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Belligerent Ignorance Against PPW Bike Lanes

Daily News columnist Denis Hamill writes that as a boy, it looked like he was riding Bozo the Clown's bicycle.  As an adult, it looks like Bozo ghostwrites his column … at least this latest screed against the popular and effective Prospect Park West bike lanes. 

Kiriakou and Stuxnet: the danger of the still-escalating Obama whistleblower war | Glenn Greenwald

It may be a cliche, but democracy dies behind closed doors. What
executive privilege and government secrecy overwhelming does is hide
official malfeasance and incompetence, while depriving the electorate
if the information necessary to make informed decisions.

Without informed consent of the governed, what kind of state are we?

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Meet Grand Central Terminal's Landlord, Andrew S. Penson -

An interesting factoid I didn't know.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

That Cuddly Kitty Is Deadlier Than You Think -

I grew up in a small neighborhood of seven houses plunked down in the
middle of nowhere. They were model homes for a tract development that
was never built (and should never have been built - the water table
was so high, nobody's septics worked properly - and that was just with
the models).

Anyway, there was a wealth of wildlife and I loved it. Whippoorwills
and Bobwhites and all sorts of fauna. Then we had a family move in
with a cat that was allowed to roam free. So long, whippoorwills. So
long bobwhites. That same cat took a baby rabbit right out of my
hands and killed it. I was 10 or 11 at the time.

Because of that I've never been a cat person though I have an
affection for some of my friends cats, and hey, who doesn't like
kittens. I'm a big fan of having pets in general, excepting
neglectful/hoarder/abusive owners. If you're going to keep cats,
please be aware of what they can do to native populations. The least
you can do is put a bell on their collar.

Streetsblog New York City » Hudson River Park Trust’s Pier 57 Will Add to Car/Bike Greenway Conflicts

"Berthet said that the way the Hudson River Park Trust has used projects with on-site parking to support the park creates problems for park users. "The more you build, the more you're going to need vehicular crossings," she said. "The more we build on those piers, the more we are making the greenway and the park unusable.""

Hmm. You'd almost think that requiring certain parks (but not most) to be self-supporting might not be a great policy. Cough, Brooklyn Bridge Park, cough, cough. 

Shoehorning condos and auto-dependent uses into parks is not a great idea. 

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Third Ave.'s revival in Brooklyn gets worrisome | Crain's New York Business

Interesting stuff. Friends of Community Board 6, the non-profit adjunct to Brooklyn CB6 is managing a $300,000 Brownfield Opportunity Area grant to study current and future land use in the more industrialized portions of the Gowanus. 

I imagine as the Superfund remedy takes final shape we'll return to the discussion of zoning around the canal that was suspended a few years ago. 

From Crain's:
"The northernmost section of Third Avenue—just upland from the Gowanus Canal, along a line believed to follow a Dutch-era wagon trail—is experiencing a boom that has many longtime residents flabbergasted and anxious.

For years, the roughly 15-block stretch from the Prospect Expressway up to Union Street was best known for its industrial vibe, not to mention its regular sewage overflow problems and a constant parade of prostitutes. While Park Slope to the east and Carroll Gardens to the west already had seen their transformations, Gowanus' main drag was always thought to be impervious to such changes."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Second Avenue Subway Progress

I can't wait. I also can't wait for funding to be secured for the next phases … or to start the discussion on extending the nascent T line to the Bronx and Brooklyn. 

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Jeff Zucker Is Blowing Up CNN

I don't have high hopes for CNN to become a news channel worth
watching, but firing Erick Son Of Erick is an encouraging start.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Work Starting Back Up at 23 Caton Place

Long suffering Windsor Terrace residents, take heart.  Your looming edifice is on the verge of gaining life. 

"CB7 will hold a meeting on February 6th at 6:30 pm at 312 Coney Island Avenue addressing the [23 Caton] project. A representative from the Hudson Companies also plans to discuss the impending residential project at 22 Caton Place. And representatives from the city's School Construction Authority will also share an update on the future site of P.S./I.S. 437 which is under construction at 701-711 Caton Avenue."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Holland Tunnel To Get LED lighting |

I've been wondering when we'll start to see these in MTA properties.  Beyond energy savings, the long life of LEDs yields savings on maintenance costs. 

"Over the next several months, workers will replace the [Holland] tunnel's 3,336 fluorescent lamps with more energy efficient light emitting diode, or LED, fixtures lights, the Port Authority said.

The new lights are projected to save the agency $250,000 a year, while making the tunnel's interior brighter."

I won't be sorry to see those soul-crushing fluorescent fixtures go the way of the dinosaur. 

Crain's: Bruce Ratner to step down as Forest City CEO


Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Queens Movie Theater You Will Not Believe « Scouting NY


Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Fare Hike ’13: Sunset dates, $1 surcharge details unveiled « Second Ave. Sagas

Looks like I'm relying heavily on Ben's work today:

"To recap, the not-so-fun stuff first: With this fare hike, the base
fare will jump to $2.50 with a pay-per-ride discount of just 5 percent
on all purchases at or above $5. The 7-day unlimited will cost $30,
and the 30-day unlimited will set back regular riders by $112. An
express bus ride checks in at $6, and the single-ride cards available
only through vending machines will clock in at $2.75."

Also there is rumbling about a new contactless payment system to
replace the obsolete Metrocard. But implementation is still a couple
of years off. Lets hope it's a good system, and not a crony-enriching
boondoggle of the CityTime variety.

PATH Overnight Restoration - and Thoughts on the Future

I'll second what Ben says about a conversation on integrating PATH
with NYC subways.

And go one further to add that NJ Transit, LIRR and Metro-North ought
to be integrated as well.

Political borders drawn hundreds of years ago should not stand in the
way of integrated transit planning (and transit service) in a modern
metropolitan area.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Joe Lhota: Let's talk about bringing back the commuter tax | Capital New York

Lhota is half right - the Commuter Tax definitely ought to be
reinstated. But it was Scott Stringer who got it fully right: the
revenue should be dedicated to funding the MTA.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

An iPhone Is Stolen, Then Restolen -

Park Slope Noir.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Sunday, January 27, 2013

De Blasio Makes It Official

Sure, we all knew he was running, but now the tall guy's officially in
the race for Mayor.

I've spent a lot if time thinking about this race. Ultimately I
decided deBlasio would be the best of the crop.

What are key issues to me (transit, livable streets) are not
necessarily Bill's marquee issues. But he is a very smart guy, he has
good instincts and I believe he can be very good on those issues with
the right people advising him.

I'd also like to see a Brooklyn guy, especially a 39th District guy
ensconced in Gracie Mansion.

Update: Person Struck By Train In Brooklyn Was "Apparent Suicide": Gothamist

Anyone who's contemplating suicide isn't exactly in the best frame if
mind, but beyond the individual tragedy this is a pretty inconsiderate
way to go. Leaving aside the inconvenience of hundreds or thousands
of people, the poor train driver is going to bear the psychological
scars from this for the rest of their life.

I've had people very close to me attempt suicide. So I'm sympathetic
both to the person who feels so closed in that there's no other way
out, and especially to their families and loved ones whose hearts are
put through the ringer. Suicide is not only a selfish act that
doesn't solve any problems, it also wreaks a lot havoc in the lives of
people you care about. If you're ever in a place where it seems like
the only way out is to end your life, seek help. Make a phone call.
There are always better options. And jumping in front of a train, bus
or car? It's a really shitty thing to do.

Anyway, someone jumped in front of an R train at the 4th Ave - 9th
Street station this morning. A sad and tragic story that happens all
too often.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Katia has the best picture I've yet seen of our late, lamented dolphin.

If I had to guess, I'd say the dolphin was seriously ill before it
entered the canal.

Random story. About 20 years ago I was alone on a surfboard off Ocean
City, NJ and not having much luck with the waves. I can't adequately
describe the terror I felt when I saw a fin come out of the water. But
I soon realized it was a dolphin. No free willy tales of
human-cetacean bonding here, but aside from the relief that my
Jaws-related nightmares were not come to life, it was an unbelievably
cool experience. They're majestic creatures and I'm sad to see this
one go out this way.

Requiem for a Dolphin - Gawker

Gawker's Max Read channels Phil Connors in reporting the dolphin has died.

"And sixty years before the shark, 115 years before the whale, 120
years before the dolphin, Walt Whitman lay dying, his lungs infected
and filled with a viscous fluid. He was in Camden, maybe 120 miles
from fish-shaped Paumanock."

GI Joe Was Swimming Under Water

Gothamist has a roundup of reporting (and video, and pictures, one of which you see here) on the latest unfortunate marine mammal to venture into the Gowanus.  Let's hope this dolphin fares better than some of his predecessors (RIP Sludgie the whale).  And for that matter RIP Bob Guskind.  The local scene has never been the same without The Gowanus Lounge, which was everything a local blog should be.

I haven't thought about Bob in a while, but Sludgie the Whale brought me back.  He was a damn fine reporter and a hell of a nice guy.

The question is: will anyone recognize the reference in the title?  This poor dolphin faces graver threats than GI Joe.

Mayoral Forum on Housing: Whole Lhota Nothing, DeBlasio Shines

For whatever reason the media continues to focus on Lhota as a viable candidate for Mayor.  Truth be told I'm not sure he can survive the GOP primary, let alone win a general election.  He was a decent MTA head and I wish he'd stayed to give the place a little stretch of continuity.  Instead, he'll be a minor footnote as a failed mayoral candidate.

On the other hand, dark horse candidate (and former District 39 city councilman) Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio made an impression on the crowd:
The big winner, though, was de Blasio, whose energy dominated the night. He drew on his experience working at HUD to back up his answers on housing policy; he pulled out his asthma inhaler to bond with a mother who said her daughter's respiratory problems were caused by housing project mold. He even got in the one oblique candidate-to-candidate shot. After Lhota said he "didn't know why" the design of public housing was so grim, de Blasio pounced. "Joe said he didn't understand why they were built that way. It's no secret Robert Moses didn't like poor people and people of color."
After Lhota loses the election, he'll have plenty of time to read The Power Broker.

Cadman Plaza - Was Not Always A Plaza

Even with the city constantly changing all around us, it's easy to forget that some well known landmarks and features of our city were not always as they are today.  Brownstoner has the story of Cadman Plaza.

Rally for Better G Train Service Sunday

The Riders Alliance and a broad coalition of elected officials are organizing a rally for improved G train service this Sunday:

Join rally hosts State Senator Daniel Squadron and State Senator Martin Dilan and members of the Riders Alliance at a rally for better G train service!

RSVP Below To Join Us On Sunday, January 27th At 1 P.M.!

Show your support for:

-Increased frequency of the G train.

-Free out-of-system transfers from the Broadway G stop to Hewes or Lorimer and the Fulton G stop to Atlantic/Barclays.

-Improved communication with riders, especially when there are service changes or disruptions.

Meet us Sunday At 1:00 P.M. On The Corner Of Metropolitan And Union Avenues. RSVP Below To Join!

Rally co-sponsored by:

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Comptroller John Liu,  Borough President Marty Markowitz, Senator Eric Adams, Senator Michael Gianaris, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Councilmember Letitia James, Councilmember Brad Lander, Councilmember Stephen Levin, Councilmember Diana Reyna, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, NYC Transit Riders Council, Regional Plan Association,  Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, North Brooklyn Development Corporation, St. Nicks Alliance and in cooperation with Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.


Corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Union Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 


Take the G to the Lorimer/Metropolitan!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rally to Save SUNY Downstate, LICH Tomorrow

Thanks Norman Cox of COWNA for passing this on.

Bathroom Reno Complete After Participatory Funding

Participatory Budgeting process bears fruit. Nice to see this effort
by Councilman Lander to involve the community in the capital budgeting
process paying off. Kudos!

Presumably the public ribbon cutting ceremony was followed by a
private water breaking.

Major Gowanus Lease Part of Film Industry’s Expansion

Some good news in Gowanus - big space leased to film lighting equipment firm.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Cobble Hill’s Long Island College Hospital Faces Potential Shutdown | Cobble Hill Blog

Here we go again:

"The Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill is facing potential closure as it continues to lose money for owner State University of New York. According to stories in The New York Times and New York Daily News, the 150-year-old facility at 339 Hicks Street is on the table with State University trustees."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo: Reactivate the LIRR Rockaway Line in Central Queens

Ask Governor Cuomo to preserve a piece of transit infrastructure - and
better yet, put it back into service:

I just signed the petition "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo: Reactivate the
LIRR Rockaway Line in Central Queens" and wanted to see if you could
help by adding your name.

Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support. You can
read more and sign the petition here:

The Real Reason for the Decline of American Unions- Bloomberg

With the decline of unions we've seen dramatic increases in wealth and
income inequality and workers losing ground even as productivity has

I'm hopeful second term Obama will channel 2008 Obama into some
leadership on labor issues.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Energy drink | The New York World

I've wondered what the energy potential from one of our big water
tunnels would be. Constant, measured flow for decades. Maybe not a
huge source of power, but I imagine there is some value there.
Imagine turbines situated throughout Water Tunnel #3. Is that
practical? I don't know.

Sewers would be tricky.

Tidal also has interesting potential.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

E.U. States Get Blessing for Financial Trading Tax -

We need a Tobin tax in the United States, not merely to recoup the
costs of our periodic financial crises to society, but to curb the
odious practice of High Frequency Trading.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Track Fire East of Broadway-Lafayette Causes F Train Delays

No sooner did I board the Brooklyn bound F train around 9:40 tonight than a track fire broke out about 75 yards into the tunnel ahead.

Smoke permeated the station. The F was taken out of service and straphangers urged to backtrack to West 4th to re-route over the A line. Tacked about 45 minutes on to the commute, and I smell like a toxic campfire.

Don't litter in the subway stations! Put your garbage in its place.

‘Brooklyn Heights Plaza’ At Court & Joralemon Solicits Major Retailer | Brooklyn Heights Blog

Like many Brooklynites Mrs. Firstandcourt and I were married in
Brooklyn Municipal Building. I doubt that Marty will get his
wished-for Apple store in the space, but it really is an excellent
piece of real estate. Surely a prominent retailer will find its
combination of location and architectural beauty attractive.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekend work impacting 12 subway lines « Second Ave. Sagas

Ben Kabak has posted the usual weekend subway update - here's the impact to the F & G:

From 9:45 p.m. Friday, January 18 to 5 a.m. Monday, January 21, Jamaica-bound F trains are rerouted via the M from 47th 50th Sts to Roosevelt Avenue due to station work at Lexington Avenue/63rd Street for SAS project. F trains run express from Queens Plaza to Roosevelt Avenue.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 18 to 5 a.m. Monday, January 21, Coney Island-bound F trains run express from 34th Street-Herald Square to West 4th Street due to electrical work at 34th Street.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 18 to 5 a.m. Monday, January 21, Jamaica-bound F trains run express from Church Avenue to Jay Street-MetroTech due to work on the Culver Viaduct rehab and the Church Avenue Interlocking.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 18 to 5 a.m. Monday, January 21, there are no G trains between Church Avenue and Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts due to work on the Culver Viaduct rehabilitation and the Church Avenue Interlocking. Customers should take the F instead.

  • For F service, customers may take the A or C between Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts. and Jay Street-MetroTech.
  • G service operates in two sections:
    1. Between Court Square and Bedford-Nostrand Aves and
    2. Between Bedford-Nostrand Aves and Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts. (every 20 minutes)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Raising The Debt Ceiling

Some perspective you'd be sorely lacking if you relied on the "centrist" loving establishment press.

Whole Foods Gowanus Update

Whole Foods Gowanus footings at 3rd & 3rd.

I commented on the rightwing ravings of The Whole Foods CEO yesterday.

As if on cue Katia has a post up today with an update on progress at the pricey grocery chain's future Gowanus location. The picture above is lifted from Katia's post. See the rest at PMFA.

Queensway Boondoggle Threatens Key Queens Rail Right of Way

What could be, or could never be if the Queensway crew gets their wish:

Ben Kabak has an important series of posts on the Rockaway Beach Branch, a rail transit right of way that has lain fallow for decades. 

Now that right of way is threatened as a group with significant backing seeks to turn it into a linear park.  There are a number of problems with this proposal, but the local group has gained national backing, recruited NYC Parks insider Adrian Benepe and has secured $500,000 in funding from the state to study their proposal. 

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is calling on the Governor to match that with funding to study the reactivation of this invaluable transit asset. 

Queens transit service is notoriously poor. This is an asset the borough can ill afford to lose. 

LIRR’s NIMBY Problem

The third track is an important piece of infrastructure for LI
transit. All that's really necessary to get it done is iron will from
the right parties (the Governor) and money.

But if suburban NIMBY's don't want that money, I humbly suggest
applying it to NYC Transit projects. We've got a Second Ave Subway
that needs funding for its next stages, not to mention an entire IND
second system that could stand to be built.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DOT Presentation to CB6 On Commercial Cycling

Whole Fool

With a Whole Foods under construction in the heart of the Gowanus,
it's worth remembering that the CEO is a gibbering right-wing buffoon.

I think I'll stick to Fairway.

Massachusetts’ Anticipated Transpo Funding Plan Is a Big Ol’ Let Down

I'll confess I am baffled by people that think a VMT (vehicle-miles-traveled) tax will be somehow easier to sell than increasing the gas tax. 

The gas tax already exists, their is a simple collection mechanism, and no need for new equipment. 

To the extent that energy efficient vehicles skate by paying less in taxes … there's at least a compelling public policy justification. They use less gas. 

Focus your energy on increasing gas taxes.  

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Massachusetts' Anticipated Transpo Funding Plan Is a Big Ol' Let Down

Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was supposed to unveil a visionary new statewide transportation plan. And while the spending component includes a commuter rail expansion and a pedestrian and bike program, the funding component bears some resemblance to what we recently held up as a worst-case scenario.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's anticipated transportation plan is less than visionary. Photo: Boston Streets

Patrick's proposal doesn't contain a vehicle miles traveled fee, which was endorsed by a state-appointed panel. Nor does it contain the tax on parking facilities that intrigued Governing Magazine. Instead, like Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's recent transportation funding proposal, the package doesn't ask motorists to contribute anything. While he won't be taking the extreme step of eliminating the state's gas tax, as McDonnell wants to do, Patrick is going to pay for the state's transportation needs by adding a new tax on productive work instead of driving.

Boston Streets has this report:

But just two days after outlining a menu of funding options, the Patrick administration proposed only raising income taxes to pay for repairs and improvements around the state. No doubt, income taxes are a powerful financing source. And it's a progressive tax which means those earning the most contribute the most.

In focusing on income taxes, though, Patrick fails to take advantage of incentives for non-auto travel. Charging people who drive more – through tolls, gasoline taxes, VMT taxes, and green taxes – transfers the costs to those who use the infrastructure. It also encourages drivers to consider other ways to get around. And the more people walking, biking, and ridi...

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Utterly Uninformed Randroid Writes Utterly Wrong Article On Brooklyn Zoning

Someone should tell this willfully ignorant shill about the upzonings
of e.g. Williamsburg, 4th Avenue and Downtown Brooklyn.

Oh, people did, in comments, and he doesn't care. The Atlantic will
print anybody these days.

Après McArdle, le deluge.

A quick glance at his other publishers (Koch-funded Reason and the
execrable National Review) paints the picture for you. He's against
any kind of zoning. Zoning is theft to these would be John Galts.

F Train: Morning Disruption, Express Tracks Get A Workout

If you were wondering why the F train was running slow this morning,
there was a person down at Delancey.

On a tangentially related topic - did anyone else notice that F trains
were running on the express tracks last weekend? A friend alerted me
on Sunday that unlike during our usual weekend work outages, the
trains were actually taking the express tracks from Jay Street to
Church Ave.

Let there be no question: the F Express is feasible. The question is
one of funding and political will.

Bill Thompson's Two Biggest Fundraisers Are … Republicans?

Bill Thompson seems like a genuinely nice guy, but I've never found
him particularly inspiring as a politician. He had a shot in 2009 and
didn't close the deal.

I'll predict right now Thompson will not be the Democratic nominee this year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Obama announces plan to reduce gun violence

There's nothing here that should be even remotely controversial to rational adults.  Naturally, the NRA and GOP will scream themselves hoarse. 

Obama announces plan to reduce gun violence

At a press conference today, Vice President Biden and President Obama introduced their plan to reduce the nation's gun violence. Here are main points:

Require criminal background checks for all gun sales.

Take four executive actions to ensure information on dangerous individuals is available to the background check system.

Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.

Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.

Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.

Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.

End the freeze on gun violence research.

Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.

Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.

Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

Here's the press conference in its entirety:

The NY Times has an overview of their remarks.

Tags: Barack Obama   Joe Biden   guns   legal   politics

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

"Investigative Journalism is Completely [Screwed]" (Daily Show's John Oliver) | Informed Comment

If CNN has a single redeeming quality, I'd be hard pressed to say what it is.

24-hour cable news has been the worst thing to happen to the American
discourse … and to my amazement, manages to get worse with each
passing year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

FiOS Arrives On 1st Place

Mother of god.

The Tribute to Celia Cacace

Below, Celia with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and District Leaders Jo Anne Simon and Chris Owens. 

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I figured I'd wait until Katia's post was up and link to it.  I knew she'd have more and better pics!  There are too many people to thank, but offhand Glenn Kelly and Maria Pagano did an amazing job putting this impromptu celebration together on behalf of CGNA. And thanks to John Esposito for volunteering Mama Maria's to host. 

The event was a success, with a tremendous turnout that I'm sure touched her heart.  I was moved by the number and caliber of people who turned out to celebrate my friend and neighbor's selfless dedication to this community. 

NB: I noticed your humble blogger is lurking in the background of the top picture on PMFA. 

Colbert Shoots Down Guns

The greatest satirist of our time. 

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Colbert Shoots Down Guns

Great segment last night by Stephen on the gun debate.  Best line: After showing clip of the guy organizing national Gun Appreciation Day claiming that Martin Luther King, Jr., if alive today, would stand up for gun rights, Colbert pointed out, "Just as surely as Jesus would be pro-nail."  Later,  he debated Piers Morgan on guns.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Monday, January 14, 2013

Con Ed Site to Brooklyn Bridge Park; A Missed Opportunity

So ConEd ratepayers will get a $0.70 benefit (rebate? credit?) from the sale of this parcel in DUMBO to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.
I'd much rather they sold the land at a 50% discount and we skipped the condos in the park.  70 cents is not going to make a difference in ANYONE's life.  But maximizing the parkland would be a lasting benefit to the city as a whole.
As a ratepayer, I'd urge ConEd to donate the land, take the tax benefit, and give us a better Brooklyn Bridge Park.

City Wayfinding Initiative Coming to Brooklyn

I like it. These are a great public service, not only for tourists
but for NYers in unfamiliar neighborhoods.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Grand Central: Growth Engine

As Ben Kabak posted earlier, its the 100th Anniversary of Grand Central Terminal, and with ongoing investment in transit access (East Side Access, 7 extension) and an upzoning, GCT continues to spur investment in the surrounding area. 
After reading Ben's post and the comments I was inspired to do a little exploring at lunchtime. 

It's amazing what you can walk by and over in this city without realizing it. I was surprised and delighted to learn that GCT had entrances at 48th and Park and on 47th between Park and Lex. 

The NYT wrote about the entrances shortly after they opened in the 1900s:

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Friday, January 11, 2013

CGNA Comments On Hydrofracking

CGNA submitted today the following comments to NYS DEC today on hydrofracking, the shale gass extraction method that poses an unreasonable threat to our water supply:

We the members of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association are writing to express our severe concerns about the potential for hydraulic fracturing, known as "fracking" in New York state.
Clean, plentiful groundwater and surface watersheds are a key asset to New York and must be vigilantly protected. Fracking poses grave risks to both ground water and surface waters through the fracturing process itself and the disposal of waste fluid used in the process.
The fluid used in the fracturing process contains scores of contaminants including known carcinogens.  In the absence of empirical evidence, the imperative to protect the safety of groundwater and our surface waters should be enough to outweigh the potential benefits of fracking.  But there is abundant empirical evidence in the geologically similar states of Pennsylvania and Ohio to show that fracking poses real threats to both surface and groundwater.  Wells and rivers have been fouled with contaminants and released gas where fracking has been allowed.
As residents of Brooklyn, we rely on the pure clean drinking water from our upstate watershed just as the other more than eight million resients of New York City do.  Many more outside our city limits also depend on these waters for their lives and livelihoods. 
At this time, the practice of fracking poses unacceptable risks to the drinking water and environment of New York, and we urge you not to approve the practice.
As to specific elements of the rules under consideration, and notwithstanding our general call for rejection of fracturing, the Board shares the concerns expressed by Riverkeeper, incorporated below.
Gary Reilly, on behalf of
Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association
Riverkeeper Specific Points:
1. Proposed Setbacks from Drinking Water Supplies and Buildings Remain Inadequate. DEC has not justified its arbitrary, insufficient setbacks, which fail to provide sufficient buffers to protect communities and their drinking water sources. Here is a table of minimum setbacks that Riverkeeper has suggested compared to DEC's current proposed regulations:
These setbacks should apply to all gas producing wells in the state and DEC should not allow variances from these setbacks, especially since it has provided no scientific basis for determining that its proposed setback distances provide adequate protection.
2. Protections for the New York City Drinking Water Supply Watershed and Infrastructure Are Insufficient. Given the significance of the risk involved and the value of the NYC Watershed, DEC should revise its regulations to ban all HVHF operations underneath Unfiltered Drinking Water Supply Watersheds. To ensure adequate protection of the water supply, DEC should also ban natural gas production within at least seven (7) miles of any unfiltered drinking water supply infrastructure, as originally recommended by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The proposed regulations contain no protection for watershed tunnels that carry Catskill water to NYC. Allowing unsafe HVHF to occur near vulnerable critical water supply watersheds and infrastructure is a completely unacceptable risk. DEP has stated that "it would take more than a decade for the City to design and build a filtration treatment facility that could protect against the contaminants of concern (if that were even feasible); during these many years, the public health, safety, and welfare of millions of New Yorkers would be at risk." In addition, failure to prohibit HVHF in these areas could lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retract its Filtration Avoidance Determination, which would force New York to build a filtration system at great cost to NYC ratepayers.
3. The Proposed Regulations Fail to Adequately Protect Underground Drinking Water Supplies and Do Not Comply with Federal Standards. DEC proposes to allow fracturing in shale only 2,000 feet below the ground surface and 1,000 feet below the base of known drinking water supplies. These separation distance requirements are unsupported by scientific data. DEC has not disputed or addressed recent findings that allowing HVHF activity only 1,000 feet below drinking water supplies would expose these supplies to contamination from fracking fluid moving upwards toward the surface. Moreoever, DEC's definition of fresh water supply, which its regulations are intended to protect, is far less protective than the federal standard for underground sources of drinking water. DEC limits fresh water supply to groundwater having a concentration of 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids (TDS), while the federal standard covers all groundwater up to 10,000 ppm TDS. DEC's proposed standard exposes a greater number of drinking water sources to possible contamination. DEC should instead adopt the federal standards for protection of underground fresh water supplies and dramatically increase the buffer depth between fracturing operations and groundwater.
4. There Is Still No Plan for Wastewater Disposal. New York does not have a plan to deal with billions of gallons of wastewater, and proposes to rely on disposal methods to be developed by the industry in the future. The proposed regulations require a well operator to have an approvable fluid disposal plan but provide no criteria or standards that would govern such a plan. In Pennsylvania, fracking wastewater has at times been sent to wastewater treatment plants unequipped to handle the waste, resulting in discharges to rivers of untreated wastes upstream from drinking water intakes. Now, most Pennsylvania wastewater is trucked to Ohio, where it is injected deep underground. The proposed regulations include provisions that would allow treatment at wastewater treatment plants or deep well injection of HVHF wastewater in New York. Current regulations could also potentially allow spreading of toxic, radioactive natural gas waste on roads as a de-icing agent. DEC must promulgate regulations that set forth specific requirements concerning a safe plan for waste disposal, and withdraw regulations that would permit wastewater treatment underground injection of waste in the absence of any review of the environmental impacts of such a practice, before moving forward with fracking in New York.
5. Open Waste Storage Pits Should Be Prohibited. Open waste storage pits are a major source of air pollution, particularly hazardous air pollutants, and present an increased risk of spills and resulting contamination of surface and groundwaters, as well as health impacts associated with both the air and water pollution that result. DEC proposes to allow centralized waste storage pits after a site-specific environmental review. However, permitting pits on a case-by-case basis forgoes uniformity and fails to provide the industry with consistent standards. DEC has not studied the cumulative effects of numerous pits throughout the state, and on-site waste storage pits continue to be allowed at all well sites using under the 300,000 gallon per day high volume fracking fluid limit. DEC should prohibit all open-pit wastewater impoundments in New York State. At a minimum, it must study the cumulative environmental and human health impacts of such open pits before finalizing HVHF regulations.
6. The Regulations Should Not Allow Use of Toxic Hydraulic Fracture Treatment Additives. Proposed regulations merely provide that HVHF operators must exhibit that the additives they propose to use "pose at least as low a potential risk to water resources and the environment as all known available alternatives" or that available alternative products are not effective or economically feasible in achieving results. Known carcinogens, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, arsenic, and formaldehyde have been used as fracture treatment additives. DEC should develop a list of recommended/approved fracture treatment additives that have been scientifically and technically reviewed by DEC and DOH and are known to pose little or no risk to human health or the environment and a list of prohibited fracture treatment additives based on the known list of chemicals currently used in hydraulic fracturing. These lists should be placed in regulation, along with a process for evaluating newly proposed chemicals to determine if they should be allowed or prohibited.
7. Emergency Response Planning Requirements Are Inadequate. The Proposed Regulations require well operators to submit an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) containing details to be specified by DEC, but does not require the ERP to be approved by the department for adequacy prior to drilling. DEC should strengthen ERP regulations to explicitly require at minimum: (1) a well blowout response plan, a contractor, a contract retainer with an emergency well control expert, and prearranged access to a relief well rig; (2) an ERP review, approval, and audit process to ensure that quality plans are developed, including adequately trained and qualified personnel, and the availability of adequate equipment; (3) if local emergency response resources are relied on in the ERP, that operators ensure they are trained, qualified, and equipped to respond to an industrial accident, and if not should be required to provide its own industrial response equipment and personnel; (4) that DEC conduct audits of drills, exercises, equipment inspections, and personnel training and (5) that the plan be submitted to DEC with the well application for DEC review and approval.
8. The Regulations Should Not Authorize Drilling In Any Shale Formation Other than the Marcellus. DEC continues to propose regulations for HVHF wells that may be drilled into shale and low-permeability formations other than the Marcellus Shale without completing a thorough of the potential adverse impacts of their development and required mitigating measures. Without such an environmental review, which is not provided in the unfinished SGEIS, DEC cannot provide any technical, scientific or legal justification for applying the proposed regulations to any shale or low-permeability reservoir in New York other than the Marcellus, and such regulations should not permit natural gas production from those sources.
9. The Proposed Regulations Create a Two-Tiered System of Regulation, Leaving the Regulation of Low-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (LVHF) Activities Subject to Regulations Last Revised in the 1980s. Since 1992, numerous best technology and best management practice improvements have been developed in the oil and gas industry. DEC proposes to allow antiquated technology and practices for all oil and gas development in New York other than HVHF operations (or operations utilizing over 300,000 gallons of water). These inadequately regulated low-volume wells (<300,000 gallons) will proliferate in areas where high-volume hydraulic fracturing is banned. Without requiring the best technology and best management practice improvements that have developed since 1992, the Revised Proposed Regulations cannot possibly adequately mitigate environmental impacts of oil and gas development in New York. DEC should require new best technology and best management practices for all gas wells in New York, not just HVHF wells.
10. Prior to Issuing Regulations, DEC Must Seek The Legislative Amendments Necessary to Allow It To Adequately Regulate HVHF. In its assessment of public comments, DEC identified a number of legislative amendments that it asserts are needed to provide the agency with the legal authority to properly regulate HVHF shale gas developments and improve regulation of existing and future oil and gas wells. For example, DEC states that current law precludes the agency from requiring adequate financial assurance for all liabilities potentially arising from oil and gas development or from assessing meaningful penalties for violations of its regulations. To ensure that DEC does not codify regulations that are known to be flawed because of inadequate regulatory authority, the agency should seek the required legislative action and defer finalization of the regulations until the new amendments are in effect.

The Fracking Regulations Should Not Be Finalized Before DEC Has Published the Final Environmental Impact Statement and DOH Has Published Its Final Review of Health Impacts. Underlying all of the above concerns is DEC's failure to develop hydraulic fracturing regulations through a systematic process designed to best protect the health and environment of New Yorkers. DEC still has not completed its final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program, nor has the Department of Health finished its review of that document. DEC's decision to proceed with draft HVHF regulations without the benefit of the final SGEIS undermines its legal obligation to undertake informed decision-making based on facts and science. In order to ensure the greatest protection for New York from the harmful effects of fracking, DEC must not move to finalize these or any other proposed regulations until after it has published the final SGEIS, including the recommendations made in the Department of Health's (DOH) review of that document

Waiting For Grifterman

Michelle Rhee, rightwing propagandist, charter school enthusiast and professional grifter … but I repeat myself. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Technium: Pain of the New

I've been debating seeing the Hobbit in 24 frames per second or in 48.  I think the right answer is to see it twice, but who am I kidding - I'll be lucky to see it once. And I think it will be in 48 FPS.  Based on this post, it sounds like within 10 years it will be the new standard. 

"I told Knoll that these complaints about the sterility of the new digital format reminded me of the arguments against CD music albums. Digital was "too clear" "too clinical" not "warm and fuzzy enough" according to audiophiles. CDs missed the musical ambiance, the painterly soul of a song. The critics were not going to buy CDs and the labels would have to pry their beloved analog vinyl albums from their dead hands. Of course, for average music fans, the clear hiss-free quality of CDs were soon perceived as much superior, particularly as the "frame" rate of the digital sampling increased past the point of most ear's perception. "That's exactly what it is like, " exclaimed Knoll. HFR is the CD of movies right now.

This pattern of initial irritation followed by embrace has been found in other media introductions. When the realism of photography first appeared, artists favored soft lenses to keep the photos "painterly." Drastic sharpness was startling, "unnatural" to art, and looked odd. Over time of course, the sharp details became the main point of photography.

Color TV, technicolor, and Kodakchrome all had its detractors who found a purity and monumentalism in black and white. Color was all too gaudy, distracting and touristy, not unlike the criticism of HFR now."

Rechnitz Abandons BBP Velodrome Plan: Let The Baseless Speculation Commence!

I'll be the first to (almost) baselessly speculate that he's considering the Gowanus as an alternative.

After all, Rechnitz did buy the Batcave just a few months ago … and outside of BBP, he wouldn't need to work with the BBP Corporation or deal with the issues (some quite legitimate, others completely bogus) raised by local stakeholders.
Of course, they could be totally separate endeavors.  But this strange combination of efforts has been nagging at me since October.  Time will tell.

Two-Story Restaurant Planned for Gowanus Warehouse

Interesting. This looks like a pretty sizable venue, located on the
Slope side of the Gowanus. No notice to CB6 yet; I imagine they will
be seeking a liquor license at some point and then we'll know a lot

Project S.H.A.M.E: The Recovered History of Charles Murray

Know your right-wingers. In this episode, monstrous racist and AEI
wingnut welfare recipient Charles Murray. A truly despicable human

Campaign to Cut Deficit Has Deep Business -

I've said it many times: America is the most heavily propagandized
population in the world. And the insidious thing about it is its done
so slickly, and by private interests, that most people are unaware of

All of these "deficit hawks", austerity scolds, and the rest of their
ilk care about one thing, and one thing only: pushing the tax burden
down the income scale and looting the treasury for their own benefit /
that of their employers. All the rest is window dressing.

Between Pete Peterson, the Koch brothers and the Walton family alone,
they've spent billions to convince Americans to sacrifice the poor and
middle class so that the top 0.01% can keep slicing themselves a
larger share of the nation's wealth year after year.

We've got class warfare all right, but it's being waged by front
groups like "Fix the Debt" and "Americans for Prosperity" and others
that pop up as soon as existing AstroTurf fronts are discredited.
It's a never ending battle. And for the most part, the news media
have been (charitably speaking) asleep on the job.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Krugthulu On the Trillion Dollar Coin, and the Irrational Right

For many people on the right, value is something handed down from on high It should be measured in terms of eternal standards, mainly gold; I have, for example, often seen people claiming that stocks are actually down, not up, over the past couple of generations because the Dow hasn't kept up with the gold price, never mind what it buys in terms of the goods and services people actually consume.

And given that the laws of value are basically divine, not human, any human meddling in the process is not just foolish but immoral. Printing money that isn't tied to gold is a kind of theft, not to mention blasphemy.

For people like me, on the other hand, the economy is a social system, created by and for people. Money is a social contrivance and convenience that makes this social system work better — and should be adjusted, both in quantity and in characteristics, whenever there is compelling evidence that this would lead to better outcomes. It often makes sense to put constraints on our actions, e.g. by pegging to another currency or granting the central bank a high degree of independence, but these are things done for operational convenience or to improve policy credibility, not moral commitments — and they are always up for reconsideration when circumstances change.

Now, the money morality types try to have it both ways; they want us to believe that monetary blasphemy will produce disastrous results in practical terms too. But events have proved them wrong.

And I do find myself thinking a lot about Keynes's description of the gold standard as a "barbarous relic"; it applies perfectly to this discussion. The money morality people are basically adopting a pre-Enlightenment attitude toward monetary and fiscal policy — and why not? After all, they hate the Enlightenment on all fronts.

The bottom line is that we aren't really having a rational argument here. Nor can we: rationality has a well-known liberal bias.

Remember the rules:
1.  Paul Krugman is always right.
2.  If you find yourself in disagreement with something Krugman has written, refer to #1.
Mint the coin.

Positive externalities thrive online - Boing Boing

I liked this piece. I think a lot about negative externalities, it's
nice to flip the script once in a while to think about positive
externalities as well.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

New FTA Rules Good News For Urban Transit

Changing rules like this has profound effects on project funding that will shape our built environment for decades to come.

Simple Things

Netflix streaming. It's changed the way we watch a lot of TV. But the
interface could use a few tweaks.

For instance, how about ordering your Instant Queue so that expiring
content is moved to the front?

On the plus side, I think they do take note of suggestions posted to
their Facebook page. Perhaps it's a coincidence, but after I posted a
comment there on making preferences for subtitles "sticky" the next
update improved that feature.

Caputo's Bakery

Katia's picture if the day set my mouth to watering. Caputo's is one of my favorite neighborhood treasures. The Italian bread, the baguettes, olive bread, lard bread, sweets … and if you're in the diet breaking mood, the Boston Cream donut is far superior to what you'll find at the Dunkin Donuts.

I love this place. 
Caputo's Bakery
329 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

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Picture Of The Day: Early Morning Bread

Caputo's Bakery On Court Street
Freshly baked bread in the window on a cold winter morning.
The smell was heavenly.

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Drunk man celebrating his birthday busted after fatally shooting 34-year-old man inside Brooklyn diner - Daily News

Wow. I actually met the victim in this story maybe two years ago. He
was the landlord for friends of ours, and by all accounts was a really
good guy. I hope they throw the book at his killer. Senseless

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Parking Problems

While the linked article is about Portland, the point Atrios makes below is valid for Brooklyn. Free on-street parking is a misallocation of resources with a lot of negative quality of life impacts for residents.  Residential parking permits, while not a panacea, helps alleviate those impacts, and can be used to raise money for transit improvements. 

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Parking Problems

It's best to make explicit what residents believe - that they have a diluted ownership claim on parking on their block and in their neighborhood generally - rather than have them constantly demanding more parking or fighting development. There's no one size fits all solution here, but basically giving residents access to preferential permits for a modest (though not trivial) price is the way to go.

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Tribute to Celia Cacace, Mayor of 1st Place

As you go through life you meet a number of larger than life characters who, having experienced them, you just can't imagine that part of your life without them. Celia Cacace is one if them.  I don't think I can improve on this tribute to Celia written by Carolina Salguero (Director of PortsideNY) and posted to the CGNA discussion group. I'll just add that it's been a real privilege to count her as a friend these last six years and South Brooklyn Red Hook won't be the same without her.  The tribute party next Sunday should be an affair to remember. 

A Friends Tribute To Celia Cacace

Celia Maniero Cacace 
Fearless, feisty, loving and frank
A champion of our community's weaker members

Celia Maniero Cacace is the mother and walking memory of the neighborhood she still calls South Brooklyn Red Hook; that's Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront District and Red Hook for those of you got here after the 1960's.

To walk Court Street with the diminutive, doting Celia is to feel in the presence of a community Mayor. She's stopped every few feet or hailed from across the street by seniors or children to share news or advice.

Having served as a one-woman social service agency for decades, 77-year old Celia is now in need of some help herself. She is obliged to move from her apartment since the building is being sold, and she needs to find that rare, inexpensive place in a neighborhood where prices have soared beyond the fixed incomes of seniors. Know someone who wants a granny au pair, or granny doorman? A committee is forming to help her find a place; and if need be, help launch some fundraising to cover the gap between her fixed income and the rent. She moves out of her current place on January 14 to her son's in Wisconsin.

We are organizing a send off party for Celia and a campaign to bring her back. That kicks off Sunday January 1/13/13. (Details at bottom) Everyone is invited. Please bring a memory of Celia if you can.

Celia's life and prodigious memory describe a time when people stayed in a neighborhood—Celia has lived her whole life in 8 apartments within a 10 block radius— and when this area was largely Italian, as far back as when Italians still faced discrimination as the new immigrants. 

Even today, Celia's back straightens as she says, "my older sister Jennie was one of the first Italian-Americans to knock down the walls on Wall Street. She was an amazing mathematician."

Celia is the 8th child of nine, of parents from the Island of Ischia in Italy. Her mother worked as a governess in France before emmigrating to the United States. With pride, Celia says her mother gave birth to her last child at 51. The family was displaced from107 Rapelye Street for the construction of the BQE, an early experience with public works which might be what sharpened Celia's ability to analyze land use issues.

Tomboy Celia broke her nose and ran with the boys until she was married in 1960 to the boy next door Joseph Cacace. 

She had two sons, Gregory and Robert, and was widowed early in 1979. 

Over the years, Celia's community service had formal and informal components. 

She served for more than twenty years as an active member of Community Board 6, on the Housing, Human Services, Economic development, Land Use, Landmark, Transportation, and City Properties Committees. Celia has been recognized for her perfect attendance at CB6 meetings, which demonstrated her serious purpose and commitment to her appointment to the Community Board. Aside from keeping meticulous meeting notes in her famous black and white copy books in multiple color inks, Celia is also remembered for her "compound questions", as City Council member Brad Lander has noted. 

Celia's role in CB6 and other public meetings was often the voice speaking truth to power. Her private good works took the form of tending to the community's weaker members without fanfare or public acknowledgement.

That work followed the rhythms of the pre-blog, air conditioning and play date era when life was lived and information exchanged on the stoop and playgrounds, in street festivals and over laundry lines strung behind the brownstones. Someone needing help would be told "go see Celia."

Her helping likely began, she's not keeping track, with coordinating summer jobs for youth of Italian American Club of South Brooklyn which had her run clean up crews for the annual Feast of Our Lady of Sorrow. That Feast began around 1945 and ran from Kane to Summit Street. Celia joined the tradition in the 1960s, and worked it until its waning years on Court Street in the 1980s. She found work for youth, and for adults, in the booths, worked with Sanitation to keep the feast site clean and well run and prevented fights between the teens. 

Over the decades, she would get summer jobs for teens. She was firm about the rules. "You gotta get your parents to talk to me, kid", to make sure they approved, "faccia a faccia" ("face to face" in Italian). All her serious business is done faccia a faccia; forget the phone.

During the 70s and early 80s, she organized festivals in Carroll Park with clowns, concerts and DJs. Ever inclusive, she arranged for teens to have DJ time, and insisted they play some of everyone's music, Italian, Puerto Rican, rock n roll and oldies. She also allowed teens to DJ before the feast and procession, cannily roping in and managing the younger generation. 

"If they blasted the music, they had to account to me since I was the person speaking for them. I had a nice rapport, I never pointed my finger at them. If I had to talk to someone, I would walk them down the block and talked to them privately. If you talk to them in front of the other kids, then they would rank them out."

Celia also helped reactivate the original Society of Mother Cabrini of South Brooklyn, their feast and procession. Celia has that rare combination of deep pride in her identity (a layering of family, ethnicity, neighborhood) and the ability to simultaneously support others affirming their own, plus the smarts to understand that everyone needs to be included for a community to work.

Ever the intermediary between groups, she facilitated special events like the 100th anniversary for the Norwegian Seaman's Church (now condos), coordinating between the Scandinavians, the Italians and the police; and helped arrange donations for many churches not her own.

By the 1990s, she was ensconced at a desk at Postal Press on Court Street, where I first spotted her when I went in for photo copies. Her small head would pop up from behind a desk piled high with clippings from local papers. I observed a steady stream of people coming in to have hushed consultations over the counter with her: problems with bad landlords, unfair evictions, seniors who didn't understand their meds and had Celia be a liaison with the pharmacist, older Italians needing translation help, teens looking for jobs, people who needed help with city permits or were stymied by bureaucracy, or were just overwhelmed for whatever reason.

By the 2000's, I would catch up with Celia at Joe's Restaurant on Court Street, where she spent hours every morning cutting clippings from local papers and serving as on-the-spot greeter, advisor and nanny. Many a weekend morning, I saw young parents come in for brunch and sit frazzled by their children. Celia would step in with toys she bought on sale or at stoop sales and then boiled and bleached at home. I could see parents relax and see them find time for one another as the tikes' action was transferred to Celia.

Celia's beef with the term "Carroll Gardens" is that she remembers the slight to her pride. This area was once redlined, her own family could not get a loan; and real estate brokers and other activists invented the term in the 60's to help market the brownstone area and delineate it from what is now called Red Hook "across the tracks" of the BQE. Rather than rebranding where she lived and pulling away from others, Celia preferred to help get jobs for people from "the Hook" and to wear a t-shirt "I live in South Brooklyn Red Hook not Carroll Gardens and I'm proud of it." It's a "love us for who we are, not who you want us to be" approach. She delivers a lot of love on the ground.

Several years back, I and Allison Prete, the director of the documentary film about the Gowanus Canal "Lavendar Lake" agreed that someone should make a documentary about Celia Cacace. Her stories, meeting notes and clippings are legion. As her apartment is being packed up, some 40 bankers' boxes have already been transferred to an archivist, journalist and local historian.

Celia Cacace is mother and memory of this community which needs her as much as she needs to be here. We are organizing a Tibute to Celia party for her and a campaign to bring her back. That kicks off Sunday January 1/13/13. Everyone is invited. Please bring a memory of Celia if you can.

Celia Cacace Tribute Party
Sunday January 1/13/13
3:30pm to 6:30pm
Mama Maria's Restaurant
307 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Did Celia Cacace live in your house? Local addresses of Celia Cacace.

107 Rapelye Street 
288 Van Brunt Street
28 First Place
64 Third Place 
252 President Street
271 Union Street
285 President Street
83 First Place

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bus restoration begins as work impacts 10 subway lines « Second Ave. Sagas

A lot of good news here, but of particular local interest:

B57Extend route from Carroll Gardens to Red Hook (Ikea) via Court Street, Lorraine Street and Otsego Street

Click through for the full list, plus the weekend service updates. 

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Brooklyn Precinct Twitter Feed No Longer Active -- Daily Intelligencer

I've got to get on Twitter more - I never knew about this feed until
just now. I'm surprised that Kelly shut this down - these are after
all public records.

I had the occasion to meet Capt. Schiff at the CB6 Holiday Party last
month. Seems like a solid professional. We've certainly been blessed
with a series of good ones in the 76th.

Anyway, we should be looking for more transparency and engagement from
our local police. The local police where u grew up have a Facebook
page where they post the police blotter regularly. It's a good
resource for traditional news that might not otherwise receive
coverage these days with the decline of local newspapers.

It's a shame that Schiff's twitter was shuttered.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why did a Train Carrying Biofuel Cross the Border 24 Times and Never Unload?

"The cargo of the train was owned by Bioversal Trading Inc., or its US partner Verdero, depending on what stage of the trip it was at. The companies "made several million dollars importing and exporting the fuel to exploit a loophole in a U.S. green energy program." Each time the loaded train crossed the border the cargo earned its owner a certain amount of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), which were awarded by the US EPA to "promote and track production and importation of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel." The RINs were supposed to be retired each time the shipment passed the border, but due to a glitch not all of them were. This enabled Bioversal to accumulate over 12 million RINs from the 24 trips, worth between 50 cents and $1 each, which they can then sell on to oil companies that haven't met the EPA's renewable fuel requirements."

And this is why I am vehemently opposed to bullshit policies like cap and trade. Policies like this are set up to (1) cut the legs out from legitimate proposals such as carbon taxes and (2) to provide a generous skim to profiteering financial firms. 


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Thurdsday Roundup

A film shot in Carroll Gardens will air on USA Friday night (1/4/13). (PMFA)

Tomorrow (Friday 1/4) is the last day to drop off an unwrapped toy at Assemblywoman Joan Millman's office for the holiday cfharity toy drive (office closes @ 5:00).

Falling crime rates linked to . . . unleaded gasoline?  More aptly, evidence suggests leaded gasoline spawned an epic surge in violent crime in 20th century America. (Mother Jones)

MTA quitter-in-chief Joe Lhota gearing up for doomed mayoral run.

Hurricane Sandy despoiled a lot of evidence at the police impound at Erie Basin, Red Hook

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Brooklyn Gentrification: The Map!

Carroll Gardens among the many Brooklyn nabes immune to the real estate downturn. 

Like a microwave burrito, some parts of the Borough of Kings are scalding hot, while others are frozen.

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Brooklyn Gentrification: The Map!

Brooklyn Gentrification: The Map! The gentrification of Brooklyn is oh so very real. And just in case you wanted to see where it was happening, well, Property Shark has a map for you. It looks almost exactly the way you expect it to. [ more › ]

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