Wednesday, July 31, 2013

AmEx Chiseling Cardholders

When Is Your American Express Bill Due?

We have a couple of AMEX cards that we pay off every month (airline miles!).  I've been dimly aware of this practice and it drives me nuts. 

What date are your bills due on? That is a simple question. I would surmise on any bill you receive — whether its electronic or in the mail — there is a clear date the bill is due. This is importan…

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Update: Attempted Kidnapping In Carroll Gardens

Suspect in custody, and it looks like the right one.  Dropped his phone at the scene, and picked out of a lineup by the victim.  Hard to imagine this happening in our neighborhood. He'll, it's hard to imagine in any neighborhood. 

"The Post reports that the suspect was in custody: "Sources said he was found in Red Hook after leaving his cellphone at the crime scene." The victim ID'd the suspect, Willie Weathers, in a police line up last night."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

deBlasio Climbing In The Polls

A Couple More Details on the New NYC Poll

Anthony Weiner provided a valuable service. The same gullible, vapid press corps that touted Chris Quinn as a prohibitive front runner all pounced like ravenous hyenas on Weiner's entry into the race.  The service was (I assume) unintentional; it was to reveal the Potemkin nature of Quinn's popular support.  

[side note: Josh Marshall's TPM has been a daily read for at least 10 years - one of my favorite left-leaning national political blogs, but he's shockingly out of the loop on NYC/NYS internal politics. I don't intend that as criticism, one can't be all things to all people, and Josh admits as much himself.]

As you saw, Anthony Weiner dropped like a stone in the latest Quinnipiac poll. He fell from a 1st place 26% to a 4th place 16%. But I wanted to flag what I think is the more interesting detail in the …

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Circle of Life: Mastellone's Moves on So That Pacific Green May Live

Mastellone's Italian Deli Closing, Gives Space to Pacific Green Gourmet

And also, presumably, so that the Mastellone's owners can retire comfortably. And god bless 'em. 

This is sad, but doesn't hit me as hard as say, Good Foods closing, for two reasons. One, it's not my regular Italian specialty place (and I'm loathe to lose any, but we shop where we shop and I've still got Caputo's … or one of the meat stores for other things.  Two, instead of housing another bank, it's saving the Pacific Green that will soon be evicted from their current space. 

Best thing to do is to be happy for the people who poured their lives into the business and had a good opportunity to move on.  And hope we hold onto every precious home style Italian deli we have left!

The last chance to get their salted mozzarella will be Wednesday.

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Horrifying Attempted Abduction In Carroll Gardens?

Carroll Gardens Police Force Hunt Suspect in Attempted Abduction

I spent most of the weekend laid up with a bad ankle wound.  This is the first I've seen of this frightening and unusual report. 
A woman was pistol-whipped while walking near 2nd Place and Court Street.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Forget Weiner: There’s a real progressive for NYC Mayor: Bill deBlasio

If you're tired of the media's obsession with Weiner's sexting, and longing for a campaign about big issues, meet Bill de Blasio.
Ignore the media circus fixation with Weiner and Spitzer - we've got great candidates (deBlasio, Stringer) that aren't getting the attention they deserve.

The Driverless Car - A Vision of the Future Lost In The Past

I just don't see this as the panacea that the Google geeks do.  For one thing the people who are really emotionally wedded to cars want to drive, not ride.  And the transition issue alluded to is a huge one - how safe will you feel in your driverless car when most of the other cars on the road are still being driven by the same yahoos we have now?

Self-driving cars seemed futurist a century ago; today, it seems out of touch to focus on cars at all. Americans are buying fewer cars, driving less and getting fewer licenses as each year goes by. Rates of car ownership are decreasing. Bikeshare, rideshare and carshare programs are gaining in popularity and acceptance, as are transit-oriented communities. 
So why continue to design and plan for a car-based society? Transit innovation is possible, and is indeed inspirational, in many non-North-American cities. The TransMilenio bus rapid transit system in Bogotá, Colombia, for example, comes to each bus stop every 10 seconds and carries close to 40,000 passengers per hour, 1.6 million per day. (Every 10 seconds — can you imagine?) In the United States, it feels like all that innovation is connected to the automobile with app-enabled carsharing, ridesharing and even the renting out of one’s driveway for extra revenue. While this sort of invention is a welcome addition and helps reduce the problem of one person driving alone in one car, it has the potential to lessen our belief in public transit as a public good as greater numbers of people turn to these customized solutions for getting to work.
 Car share is something that I think will be huge in the coming century . . . and I suspect we'll spend a lot of the next century undoing some of the damage done during the second half of the 20th century's headlong embrace of the car culture.  Better transit and land use planning is going to be of far greater import than driverless cars.

The Segway of tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LICH - Still Alive - deBlasio's Efforts Yielding Results

From my inbox - a little good news:

SUNY's plans to close LICH received a major setback today as Bill Deblasio's legal team were successful in stopping SUNY from vacating Judge Baynes's temporary restraining order. 
Once again, SUNY has failed to persuade a judge of the legality of their plans and efforts to close the hospital. Appellate Division Judge Robert Miller ordered the SUNY to the maintain services and staff that were in place on Friday, July19. 

Of course Assemblywoman Joan Millman, State Senator Dan Squadron, Councilmembers Brad Lander and Steve Levin and a whole host of community activists too numerous to count deserve a lot of praise for the ongoing efforts to keep LICH alive.

When my then one-year-old daughter couldn't breathe and was gasping for air in the middle of the night I was fortunate to have LICH right down the road.  My family is grateful to all those fighting a state bureaucracy that sees a collection of assets to be raided, rather than a facility for serving our community.  Please keep up the fight.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Breath of Stale Air

Jack Hidary Claims He's a Viable Mayoral Candidate
Just what this city needs - another "I'm not a Republican" Republican billionaire to run the city as his fief.
Thank god for noblesse oblige! 

Also - not a chance in hell, Jack, but I'm sure the consultants and media outlets will gleefully absorb your largess.
Jack Hidary in The New York Observer 's office last week. (Photo: Jordyn Taylor) Tech entrepreneur Jack Hidary stormed into the mayor's race this week with much fanfare, claiming to have already rais…
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I'm So Old I Can Remember When We Used To Prosecute White Collar Criminals

So we'll prosecute Roger Clemens, but not a rapacious banker?
Until now I had complete faith in the system. Even as the nation's top energy regulator is poised to extract a record settlement from JPMorgan Chase over accusations that it manipulated power market…
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Breaking Outrage At LICH

Defying Court Orders and Despite Heat Wave, SUNY is Closing LICH
This is really unbelievable behavior. 

Where is Governor Cuomo?

Defying Court Orders and Despite Heat Wave, SUNY is Closing LICH
In a bold move that blatantly ignores court orders, SUNY Downstate officials are relocating patients, transferring employees and planning to shut down all services at Long Island College Hospital this…
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NY Times On Calatrava PATH Hub

A Transit Hub in the Making May Prove to Be the Grandest -
Pretty awesome picture from inside.  As I said the other day, this thing is going to be massive and I'll predict, pretty awe inspiring.  Perversely and paradoxically, the WTC site is likely to endure as one of the nations top tourist destinations.  In the long run the outrageous cost of the WTC PATH hub might prove a worthwhile investment.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

MTA to increase G train service but won’t give free transfers :: Second Ave. Sagas

Moderate improvements coming to the G train. A good thing.

Now to imagine a future where more and more economic and social
activity emerges in centers outside the central business district.
More economic centers and shorter commutes, making better use of our
transit network? Something to aspire to.

Musk to Unveil Designs for 'Hyperloop' High-Speed Train -

Sounds a bit pie in the sky, but I look forward to the announcement anyway. 

"On Monday, Mr. Musk announced his plan to unveil designs for this new type of train, which he hopes to build and which, he says, can travel as a puck does on an air hockey table."

The five best high speed rail networks in the world | TheCityFix

The United States - not even a contender. Think for a second about
what we could have done with the trillions Bush squandered and try not
to fly into a murderous rage. Republicans (and "Third Way" Democrats)
are why we can't have nice things.

"Five countries – Germany, China, Spain, Japan, and France – are
global standouts, providing their citizens with long distance lines, a
broad network of stops, and incredible high speeds. Some, like Japan,
have been building high speed rail since it was invented in the '60s.
Others, like China, have demonstrated how quickly a high speed rail
network can be built in just a few years."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Manhappenin: Fulton Street Transit Center, Corbin Building Looking Good

It was really cool to see this from the inside back in February - now I just can't wait for the work to be finished.
Had to pass through the area this afternoon, was pleased to see the
progress here and at the WTC site. Yes, it's taken forever, but on
the other hand, where does the time go?

Manhappenin: Bones of Calatrava Path Station Emerging

Bones to the left and right of the enormous blue cranes.
Looks like that thing is going to be enormous. And not just the price tag.

I know this is an expensive boondoggle - but it will be an impressive looking one when it's finished.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Weekend: Bastille Day on Smith, Work impacting 16 subway lines

From Bette Stoltz at SBLDC:


SUNDAY JULY 14, 2013 - 12 NOON TO 8PM


Contact: Bette Stoltz (Cell) 718 852 0328 

South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation

Come enjoy our 12th Annual Bastille Day Party on Smith Street.  Join the

crowds of French and friends and neighbors at an event with no purpose

otherthan to provide us with something we all need –  an opportunity to


Why here??  Our neighborhoods are so filled with French families that the public schools are French/English bilingual.  One third of our 220 storefronts are Food & Drink establishments – Vive les gourmets!!!   We have huge support from our local business partners, especially Bar Tabac to make this happen. Even the sand is donated every year by a local resident/business - Quadrozzi Concrete, who donates and spreads it with their cement mixer truck.  In fact, that operation, which begins at 10AM if you want to arrive early, is a remarkable, "only in NY" sight to see. Bernard Decanali (formerly of Robin des Bois) organizes the biggest Petanque Tournament in the world outside France. Because, after all – THIS IS BROOKLYN!!!!

There will be live music (Lipbone Redding from 2 to 6PM) and Dancing In the Street.  There will be lots of space to sit a while and enjoy whatever you choose to eat & drink, as well as to people watch & make new friends.  Food & Drink will come from Bar Tabac, Apartment 138, Coco Roco, Brooklyn Bangers, Dassara, Union Grounds, Hunters, Kittery, Britain Indian Restaurant, One Girl Cookies, Bien Cuit, Les Bretons, Mad Macarons.

And below a link to the what you need to know about the subways this weekend. The Brooklyn leg of the F is running as usual.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Friday, July 12, 2013


Manhattanhenge 2013
It's The Final Manhattanhenge Of 2013!
Snapped this photo last night. Explanation of why, via Gothamist:

It's The Final Manhattanhenge Of 2013!
It's a weekend Manhattanhenge! Today and tomorrow mark the last Manhattanhenges of 2013 , though they may be ruined by the weather (but keep in mind, clouds don't always ruin the moment ). Here's Neil…
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Second Time's The Charm: 4th Ave Safety Improvements Get CB6 Nod

"The board finally approved the plan following a four-hour public hearing, with the condition that the Department of Transportation come back in one year to review its effect.
"It took a little time, but we definitely made the right decision," said CB6 transportation committee member Gary Reilly, who also backed the first city proposal. "If we failed to act, more people will be hurt and someone will die.""

DUMBO's Bike-Friendly Cobblestone Options

The smooth ones (on the right) will also take on a patina over time.
All credit to Gothamist - though I heard about this on Wednesday
night. I'm leaning toward the smooth cobblestones though I'd have to
see it in person to know for sure.

Can't believe the lengths and expense DOT has been forced to go to to
placate the Vinegar Hill NIMBYs.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

DeBlasio, Levin, Local Activists Arrested At LICH Closure Protest

Election 2013 Finally Has An Arrest: De Blasio Handcuffed At LICH Protest
Fighting the good fight. The community is behind you guys.

Election 2013 Finally Has An Arrest: De Blasio Handcuffed At LICH Protest
"A pack of politicians gathered this morning outside of a Midtown Manhattan SUNY building to protest the closing of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn—and two got arrested." 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

RIP Lydia "Buffy" Buffington

An unexpected loss. As long as I've been around Buffy has been a fixture at community events in the neighborhood.   Details on services from the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corp are below:

It is with a heavy heart at the close of business this Friday that I have to inform you that the heart and soul of the GOWANUS CANAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (GCCDC)

Lydia Buffington passed away on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013.

For the past seventeen years Lydia was the GCCDC's Community

Liaison and will be greatly missed by the entire community she served and beyond.

 Lydia will be waked at the SCOTTO FUNERAL HOME

106 1st Place, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Viewing will take place on Monday and Tuesday July 8th and 9th from 2:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M each day

Funeral Mass will take place at:

St Mary Star of the Sea Church

467 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY

on Wednesday, July 10th at 9:30 A.M.

The public is invited

Thank you

Bill Appel

Gowanus CDC


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The LICH Saga Continues

How Can SUNY Downstate Design a Brooklyn Healthcare Network When They Can't Run LICH?

McBrooklyn has a few questions:

Long Island College Hospital (LICH). Photo: MK Metz SUNY Downstate , as part of a state-mandated "Sustainability Plan" to save itself from bankruptcy, came up with a scheme to create a corporation to …

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Economists Have A One-Page Solution To Climate Change : Planet Money : NPR

It's policy day here at Firstandcourt.

Remember this every time you hear someone pushing a cap and trade
bill: it is this simple. Anything else is needlessly complicated to
create a skim for somebody (big banks, current polluters, investment
houses). A carbon tax is the simplest, fairest and most efficient
solution. No more Rube Goldberg policy approaches, please.

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Democratic Deficit Scolds Get Desperate, Weird -- Daily Intelligencer

Unlike Chait, I am vehemently opposed to any cuts to retirement
programs, but that aside his evisceration of the Third Way shills is

Third Way is a bunch of sleazebag closet Republicans who have one
goal: keep taxes low on rich people. That's it. The Yankee Republican
is not extinct, it's usually hiding in plain sight as a Third Way or
DLC Democrat.

They are more dangerous than the GOP, because they undermine the party
from within.

Sackett--Union (340 Court Street) Sidewalk Shed Is No More!

At Union, facing north up Court Street.

One of my big concerns here, as with 360 Smith, was keeping the mature street trees.
Light at the end of the tunnel.  Hard to believe I first started writing about this project in 2007.  Of course at the time a big fear was that this was going to be a finger tower.  I know a lot of people were not thrilled with this project, but it could have been much worse.  After five years of demolition, inaction, then construction, I'm just happy to see the sidewalk shed come down.