Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kensington Residents Helping Workers Get the Wages They Deserve

A wage battle is gaining momentum in Kensington as ten workers enlist support of neighborhood residents to fight for the wages they say are owed to them by the Golden Farm Grocery.

The ten men claim that they did not receive minimum wage from their boss, store-owner Sonny Kim, until last year when the workers began organizing with New York Communities for Change and filed a law suit. They say that until that time they were only paid $4.86 per hour for 72 hours of work per week, with no increased pay for overtime. Kim has refused to pay the back wages the workers say he owes to them.

“We are looking to get back all the years he stole from us,” said Nicandro Martinez-Rodriguez, 48. He worked in the produce department of Golden Farm of 12 years, earning only $350 per week for working 12 hour days 6 days per week.

Kensington residents have been supporting the men’s efforts to recoup their money by protesting in the store, signing petitions, going door to door to get support, and informing more people on-line.

There are even some people who are boycotting the grocery store, including sending notes to Kim explaining that they will not come back to shop there until he pays the workers what he owes them.

“I just don’t feel comfortable continuing to shop there knowing that the workers weren’t being respected,” said Brian Pickett, 33, an adjunct professor who has also handed out info sheets to customers leaving the store.

“I’d like to resume shopping there once the owner accepts his responsibility.”
 But store manager Steve Kim disagrees with the accusations. “We keep American rules and regulations 100%” he said. “The Spanish guys don’t know English writing and reading. How would they know American labor law?”

 Roberto Ramirez, 40 has been employed at the Golden Farm Grocery for six years. He says the encouragement that he received from the store’s customers gave him the courage to take a stand.

“They treated us like slaves,” Ramirez said. “I am seeing that the community is supporting us...They are the ones who had actually been motivating us to do this.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kensington Animal Shelter's Sean Casey Ready for Just About Anything

Last week Sean Casey and his volunteers from his Animal Rescue Shelter in Kensington went looking for a group of vicious pit bull dogs who have been terrorizing dog owners in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. Casey says he has already searched for the wandering dogs, which have already killed one small dog and mutilated another, over thirty times, but he promises, however, not to rest until he has the evil dogs in his custody.

  “The difficulty is that these dogs are potentially roaming,” noted Casey, who says he and his staff have been setting traps and checking the Long Island Rail Road tracks around Brooklyn College two to three times a day. “But we’re pretty confident we’ll have them soon.”

 There is no question that Casey knows his pit bulls. There are dozens of them holed up now in his shelter on East Third Street Shelter near Caton Avenue. Casey says it’s a problem that people just don’t understand these animals.

 “Pit bulls can be the greatest dog in the world or they can be monsters — they can be whatever their owner wants them to be,” said Casey, who owns a pit bull himself. “But in this case, some idiot probably didn’t take his responsibility seriously and this is what we end up with.”

 Don’t think that Casey’s shelter is just for wayward dogs. The chances of finding 20 cats, 40-50 dogs, (the vast majority pit bulls), 10 snakes, 10 turtles, and 20-30 hamsters and guinea pigs at any time in his small animal shelter are high. Once Casey even handled the rescue of an alligator who was abandoned by his owner.

 “A lot of people buy these creatures when they’re young without realizing its going to grow up,” said Casey, who was able to find a safe home for the alligator in Pennsylvania, since it was against the law for the animal to remain in New York.

 Due to New York law Casey must turn down requests to save monkeys, boa constrictors, iguanas, ocelots, sharks and other exotic animals because according to the city’s laws New Yorkers are not allowed to own wild animals, including alligators.

 “He’s like Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but with volunteers,” said Kensington resident Allen Kirson. Casey helped Kirson look for Captain, his beloved parrot, when it flew away. Casey was even willing to climb a ladder standing between two vans to try and reach the bird, which turned out in the end to not be Captain after all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Have a Shvitz Like in the Old Country

Brooklyn is not so far from Russia and Turkey after all, especially if you are hankering for a good old fashioned shvitz, and happen to be in Kensington. Mosey on over to Brooklyn Banya, the “Best Russian-Turkish Bathhouse” in all of Brooklyn.

At 602 Coney Island Avenue, between Beverly Road and Avenue C, you will find over 10,000 square feet of “pure luxury sweat.” There are three saunas, a steam room, a bath, an ice cold pool and a therapeutic Jacuzzi for whatever and wherever it aches. You can have a birch leaves treatment, guaranteed to ease all that worries you; or try one of Banya’s specialties, a salt body scrub, and a stress-relieving massage.

When the sweating and soaking are all over you will leave Banya feeling at least ten years younger, with the softest, smoothest skin- just like when you were a baby. No doubt you will come back.

The hours of operation are: Monday through Friday 9am to Midnight; and Saturday through Sunday 8 am to Midnight. For more information call: 718-853-1300.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Police Looking For “KISS” Fan After Williamsburg Church Vandalism

After an act of vandalism that Assemblyman Joe Lentol labeled as “malicious mischief,” the police in Brooklyn are searching for a KISS fan, because of the nature of the defacing.

Two religious statues were defaced outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg, while a third statue was overturned last Tuesday evening. The defacement consisted of drawing the famed facial masks worn by the 1970s rock group KISS onto the faces of the Madonna and child in an effort to make them look like rockers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, the names behind KISSes’ extravagant make-up.

The nature of the vandalism is so far the only lead the police have.
“We are looking for a KISS fan,” said Deputy Inspector Terence Hurson, the commanding officer of the 94th Precinct. 
In an outpouring of support, many people have offered to pay for repairs, said Pastor Joseph Calis. The Pastor is referring all inquiries to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

 Democratic Councilman Steve Levin, who also plays bass guitar and described his religious affiliation as “praying at the temple of rock and roll,” also condemned the defilement of the church.
“I have no kind words for whoever did this — they are in very serious trouble if they get caught,” said Levin. “They do a real disservice to rock and roll.”
 Representatives for the KISS bassist Gene Simmons did not comment on the event, but it is interesting to note that Gene Simmons attended the Williamsburg religious school Yeshiva Torah Vodaas which subsequently moved to Kensington.