Pol pushes ban on cell phone use for bicyclists
Nov 23, 2014 | 376 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A New York City politician wants bike riders to keep their hands off their phones and on their handlebars. Councilman Mark Treyger introduced legislation at last week’s City Council stated meeting to prohibit the use of handheld phones and other electronic devices while riding a bicycle in New York City. He was prompted to introduce the legislation after witnessing a cyclist swerve into oncoming traffic along busy Stillwell Avenue in Gravesend, nearly causing a serious multi-vehicle accident. “After watching a cyclist swerve into traffic while texting and riding along Stillwell Avenue, I felt it was important for the city to address this irresponsible behavior,” Treyger said. Treyger was joined on the steps of City Hall by several colleagues and representatives from cycling advocacy group Bike New York to announce the proposed legislation. This proposal is the least punitive of similar laws already passed in Chicago and Flagstaff, Arizona, and under consideration in California. Treyger’s legislation would simply extend the current restrictions on phone use already in place for motorists to also cover cyclists. “I want to be clear that the only intention is safety, which is why I am also proposing the creation of bicycle safety courses instead of fines for some first offenses,” he said. In addition to the ban on the use of handheld electronics while cycling, Treyger also introduced companion legislation to authorize and create a bike safety course that could be taken in lieu of fines for some first offenses. This proposal comes at a time when the city is taking steps to drastically reduce the number of injuries and deaths that occur on city streets as bicycle-related accidents are on the rise. “Bikers and pedestrians alike must be alert and aware when navigating our roadways because only then can we achieve Vision Zero,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Transportation Committee. The bill specifically prohibits the use of any handheld devices including cell phones, tablets or other electronics to make calls, send texts or to search the Internet. The use of voice-activated and hands-free devices would still be permitted and would not be impacted by this law. Fines for first offenses would start at $50, but cyclists would have the option of completing the bike safety course for offenses that do not include injuries or property damage. As a result, this legislation would also set a precedent for future laws in New York City by creating a two-tier fine structure that includes lower penalties for cyclists than drivers for committing the same violation. Data shows a recent rise in the number of crashes involving cyclists, with the injuries from crashes involving pedestrians and bicycles with no motor vehicle involvement increasing from a total of 277 in 2012 to 343 in 2013. In addition, crashes only involving single or multiple bicyclists - no automobiles or pedestrians involved - increased from 294 to 360 over that time. “Making our streets safer is everyone’s responsibility, including cyclists,” said Rich Conroy, director of Education at Bike New York. “Skilled, knowledgeable cyclists ride with awareness and alertness, and send a message that they care not only about their own safety, but the safety of others.”
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Citymeals-on-Wheels honors Rockaway Park resident
by Jess Berry
Nov 23, 2014 | 66 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Among 25 New Yorkers honored at the Citymeals-on-Wheels 2014 STAR Awards ceremony last week was Rockaway resident Arthur “Leon” Causey, who has repeatedly gone above and beyond the requirements of his job as an afternoon transportation driver. Causey has served as a Jewish Association Serving the Aging in Far Rockaway employee for the past five years. During that time, he has developed a strong relationship with one meal recipient in particular, and has proven himself to be both a great employee and friend. The meal recipient lives alone and has limited mobility and early signs of dementia. His numerous medical appointments cause him to often miss the daily meal delivery, but Causey regularly makes return trips to ensure that his elderly friend receives his meals. When tragedy struck and the recipient’s son died, Causey rearranged his schedule in order to be able to attend the funeral. Causey also picks up his friend after his doctor and hospital appointments to make sure he gets home safely. Executive director of Citymeals Beth Shapiro said that Causey, and the rest of the STAR Award winners, are all “life savers.” “I would like to thank Leon and all of our STAR Award winners whose dedication, compassion and hard work ensure New York’s most vulnerable residents are safe and sound behind their closed doors,” Shapiro said. The 25 STAR Award winners included meal deliverers, kitchen staff, coordinators and case managers. They were nominated by colleagues and administrators at senior centers across the five boroughs.
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Plan for economic revival on Mott Avenue
by Andrew Shilling
Nov 23, 2014 | 50 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The weathered streetscape along the Mott Avenue corridor is long overdue for structural and cosmetic repairs since Superstorm Sandy tore through Far Rockaway. Thanks to a $4.5 million investment from the Governor’s Office of Storm Resiliency (GOSR), the neglected corridor will now receive improvements to community public spaces and investment to help stimulate the local economy. Structural improvements include drainage improvements to reduce ponding at several intersections, LED streetlights with backup power in case of power outages, new signage, gutters, bike lanes, benches and bike racks. “Drawing on the strengths and opportunities of each community, our NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program presents endless opportunities for recovery, resiliency and growth,” said Jamie Rubin, executive director of Storm Recovery. “The Mott Avenue Corridor Project serves as an example of our efforts, and will serve to improve and strengthen Far Rockaway.” Since the storm, there have been more than 600 project proposals totaling nearly $800 million from the nearly 500 communities participating in the program throughout the state. "This funding will not only help our struggling small businesses in the Mott Avenue corridor, but it will boost Rockaway's economy and help all neighborhood small businesses get back on their feet post-Sandy," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “The Rockaway East NY Rising Committee thanks Governor Cuomo for giving the community the opportunity to advocate and fund this project,” said committee co-chair Al Moore. “Coupled with the other proposed resiliency projects, such as a network of recovery centers, these improvements will help our neighborhood build back stronger.”
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EXCLUSIVE: Elderly residents at Park Slope assisted living facility win months-long court case
by Jess Berry
Nov 21, 2014 | 1603 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In what can only be described as a momentous victory, the senior residents remaining at Prospect Park Residence (PPR) found out today that the court has ruled in their favor, staying PPR owner Haysha Deitsch from commencing any proceedings to evict them.

The announcement is a huge one for the residents and their families, who have been fighting Deitsch’s attempts to evict them since May.

Judge Wayne Saitta of Kings County Supreme Court issued his decision this afternoon, wherein he outlined a multitude of reasons as to why he was issuing the elderly plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, allowing them to remain in their homes.

First and foremost, the Judge outlined his concerns regarding the residents’ health were they to be moved from their current homes.

“Without a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs, who are in their nineties and suffer from severe disabilities, face the loss of their homes,” the decision reads. “Given their advanced age and infirmities, the disruption and harm that Plaintiffs would suffer if they were removed would be devastating.”

Judge Saitta also reviewed extensively the claim that Deitsch did not set out an appropriate closure plan for the assisted living facility, and that what he did come up with in terms of a plan was given the Department of Health’s (DOH) stamp of approval despite its inadequacies.

According to statutory requirement, the Judge wrote, DOH must “approve and supervise a closure plan that ensures the residents are transferred to facilities that are appropriate for their individual needs and that services be continued during the closure process.”

In March, Deitsch convened the 120 residents of the facility and unceremoniously handed them a 90-day eviction notice. Residents then took Deitsch to court in May after he failed to adequately prepare and assist them in transitioning to new facilities.

Over the last seven months, services have seriously declined at the facility. Former residents were nearly forced into moving out of the facility after having hot water and electricity turned off, activities cancelled, aids fired and basic dietary needs not being met, with some residents being served rotten food.

And, after reviewing Deitsch’s closure plan, Judge Saitta agreed with the plaintiffs and stated that it was not adequate in addressing the individual needs of the facility’s elderly residents.

One of the biggest problems with the plan was its ambiguity. Closure plans must include a timetable and list the procedures that would be used to relocate the residents.

Instead, Deitsch wrote up a closure plan that stated, “All residents will be relocated to appropriate facilities. Staff will find appropriate facilities, and arrange for the relocation of each resident. Every effort will be made to work with the residents and families to find the best facilities.”

No timetable for when residents would be instructed on other options or when they would be moved was included.

Deitsch was similarly vague regarding what measures PPR would take to assess the needs and preferences of the residents for their relocation. Once again, the plan only stated that “an assessment of each resident’s needs will be completed by the case manager or her designee by reviewing and updating the resident’s ISP.”

Judge Saitta found the plan for their individual assessments insufficient.

“The Plaintiffs still in residence are in their nineties, two are holocaust survivors, several suffer from dementia and all have severe infirmities,” his decision reads. “Assessing their individual needs in order to find an appropriate placement is not a mere technicality.”

Regardless of the plan’s ambiguity, Judge Saitta also pointed out that no evidence was ever produced to show that the operator had, in fact, assessed the individual needs of each resident or found them appropriate facilities.

In fact, numerous former residents’ family members sent in letters to the judge throughout the months-long hearing informing him of their loved ones’ deterioration after being moved to inadequate facilities. A number of former residents have died since their relocation.

In the face of the serious accusations of mistreatment of the seniors at PPR and mismanagement of the closure of an assisted living facility, Judge Saitta made the decision to prevent Deitsch from evicting any of the remaining residents at PPR. The decision is a huge relief for the remaining residents, and according to the Judge, will not be an imposition to Deitsch.

“The burden that an injunction would impose on the operator is not onerous,” Judge Saitta’s decision states. “Temporary continued operation of the facility pending determination of this action does not impose an undue hardship on the operator.”

Residents recently discovered that Deitsch was rushing to close the facility because he had sold the building on Jan. 27 of this year for $76.5 million, a full month before he even informed the residents that the facility would be closing.

Now the buyer of the building at 1 Prospect Park West is arguing their contract, due to the fact that eight residents still remain in their apartments.

But the Judge stated that the sale was not enough reason to discontinue the operation of the facility.

“The operator seeks to voluntarily surrender its certificate, not because of any financial difficulty in operating the facility, but in order to sell the building to an entity that will convert the building to unregulated housing,” the decision reads.

Many were elated to hear of the Judge’s decision, including attorney John O’Hara, who has six wrongful death actions pending against the facility in separate court cases, the first of which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 9.

“That was a big hurdle for the seniors to cross,” O’Hara said after the decision was released.

On Monday, a contempt hearing will be held against Deitsch, where residents and their family members will testify against the PPR owner after months of mistreatment. The hearing will be at 10 a.m. with Judge Saitta at Kings County Supreme Court.
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On Stage at Kingsborough presents GOTTA DANCE!
by Andrew Shilling
Nov 21, 2014 | 207 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Following the success of his production of Broadway Backstage at On Stage at Kingsborough, director Daniel C. Levine is now preparing to debut his next musical GOTTA DANCE! at the Brooklyn performance venue. “It’s meant to take the audience on a journey through the evolution of dance on Broadway as performed by six of the top choreographers currently working in the industry,” Levine explained. Through a series of biographical video clips, providing a backstage look at the historical progression of dance, performers will recreate legendary dance routines for a firsthand look at the Broadway art. “I wanted to make it more personal and take the audience through a journey of what it means to be an actor,” he said. In anticipation of the debut on November 22, Levine is working on the finishing touches with his seasoned cast of choreographers. Mark Myers, from Wicked and If/Then, is the lead choreographer on the show, and Bryan Perri, from Wicked and Alter Boyz, has been tapped to be the musical director. Levine started his Broadway career as an actor in the ‘90s in Les Miserables. Since then he has also seen significant Broadway success in his roles in Chicago, Mama Mia, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rocky Horror Show, Tommy, Little Shop of Horrors and more. “In between the shows I would do concerts with symphonies in theaters all around world,” he said. “As I was doing these concerts, I said, people are just hungry for fantastic Broadway singers and Broadway stories.” Anna Becker, executive director at On Stage At Kingsborough, first approached Levine about putting together the performance of GOTTA DANCE! after she saw the success of his previous production of Broadway Backstage. “Since then, Dan and I have been in conversation a lot because he’s so talented and really puts together great shows,” Becker said. After taking her role as the lead of On Stage at Kingsborough back in the summer of 2010, Becker has been focused on finding work, “that can’t be found anywhere else.” “We really try to make a lot of our programming unique,” she said. “This is something that I have put forward as our mission.” Levine said he currently has roughly 10 shows booked after their performance this November, however he added that right now, he is just looking forward to how his show is received in Brooklyn. “I’m thrilled and honored to do it in Brooklyn because of the way the audience just responds,” Levine said. “There is that savviness and the theater appreciation of a Brooklyn audience that you just don’t get anywhere else.” Tickets for GOTTA DANCE! are available at the On Stage at Kingsborough box office on Oriental Boulevard and Oxford Street, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., by phone at (718) 368-5596 or online at here.
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