Brooklyn College Professor Pens Biography on Shirley Chisholm

(Article published on Park Slope Patch on Jan. 28, 2014)

Barbara Winslow is a professor of Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College and a 30-year resident of Park Slope who is responsible for starting and running the Shirley Chisholm Project/Brooklyn Women’s Activism at Brooklyn College.

She was asked to pen the first biography in 40 years on Chisholm for Carol Berkin’s series of books, ‘Lives of American Women’, and jumped at the chance.

Chisholm, who was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1924, became the first black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and became the first woman to run for president in 1972. She was a sought-after public speaker and co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) who once remarked that, “Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes.”

Patch had the opportunity to speak with Professor Winslow about Chisholm, the impact she had on her life and the new book, ‘Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change’.

When did you start the Shirley Chisholm Project, and what are some of your biggest achievements with the project to date?

I started the project in 2006, and I would say the overall greatest accomplishment is keeping Shirley Chisholm’s name alive and reintroducing her to a new generation of people in Brooklyn and across the country to whom she was. We also have the largest collection of archival material about Chisholm as part of the project in our library.

We do extraordinary public events around Shirley Chisholm day in November and have had Gloria Steinem, Anita Hill, Melissa Harris-Perry and others come and speak about the importance of Ms. Chisholm and her legacy.

Given your ties to Ms. Chisholm, when did you decide to write her bio and what was it that made you finally decide to do so?

I was asked to write this bio by Carol Berkin, who was a presidential professor at Baruch College before she retired. She was originating a series of books, ‘Lives of American Women’, and wanted me to do one on Shirley Chisholm. As soon as she asked, it took me a ‘New York nanosecond’ to say yes.

What is it about her that’s inspired you so much, and what do you hope readers take from your book?

I was in a liberation group in Seattle, Wash. in 1972 when she ran for president. I believe our group sent $15 to her campaign, which in 1972 was the equivalent of sending her hundreds of dollars, so that was very exciting. She inspired me 40 years ago. 

When I was teaching in Brooklyn College, I was reminded that she was a graduate of the college. When I proposed we name a women’s study for research (in her name) I was astounded that many of my colleagues, professors of women’s studies did not know who she was. I was galvanized to create this project so that her life and legacy would not be forgotten. While Chisholm is the focus right now, lives of so many other women need to be written about and understood too. 

I think what’s important about this book is that not only is it the first scholarly biography of her, but the book is part of a series that is designed to bring women’s lives into the school’s curriculum, and that’s what I’m very proud of.

Some Yankees Officials Not Sold on Tanaka?

(Story posted Jan. 20, 2014 on Yanksgoyard.com)

By Rich Arleo

Since rumors began that Masahiro Tanaka could be coming to Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees have been linked to the 25-year-old Japanese phenom, and rightfully so.

With just a few weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Tampa, the Yankees only have three spots in their rotation filled by C.C Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova. Tanaka, the most high profile Japanese import since Yu Darvish, has been deemed a “can’t miss” but many and seems to be the perfect fit for the Yanks.

Unfortunately, it may not be such a unanimous decision in the organization. According to a recent report in the New York Post, one official has his doubts.

(Click here for full post on Yanksgoyard.com)

At the Polls: Residents Hoping to Avoid Contingency

(Full story as published  June 19, 2012 at 10:20 PM)

For the second time in just over a month, Mount Sinai School District residents headed to the polls to vote on a budget for the 2012-13′ school year.

With the original tax cap-piercing budget failing to receive supermajority approval, concerned community members flocked to the polls hoping to avoid another failed budget, which would lead to contingency for the district.

A resident for 14 years, Joe Rutolph thinks it’s imperative this budget passes to avoid additional cuts, but he wasn’t surprised the first one failed.

“We knew it was going to be close,” he said. “Getting 60-percent of anyone to vote either way is a lot to get, and I think it was a crapshoot so to speak. We were hoping it would pass but certainly you could understand for some of the older folks who don’t have kids in school, the amount of money that we pay in taxes is high, you could see both sides.

“If this one doesn’t pass the amount of cuts that will take place to all the programs, it will be just too deep.”

Maureen and Jim Clark currently don’t have children in the district, yet still support the proposed budget.

“We are very much pro education, so we supported it the last time even with the larger increase to try to maintain programs and we supported it now,” Jim Clark said.

“It is a very fine school district,” Maureen added. “It’s produced some wonderful students and you have to give what you can to keep it going like that.”

With 20 years in Mount Sinai under her belt, Laura Williams, a teacher at another district on the island, is also crossing her fingers that contingency won’t be needed.

“Yes, it is imperative this passes,” she said.  “I have two in high school for next year, so I think it should pass, without a doubt.”

Some were surprised that it has gone this far, and the district is hoping the support is enough to get an already lower budget approved.

Polls remain open in the Elementary School gymnasium until 9 p.m. Tuesday. Stay tuned to Patch for breaking results later in the evening.

Miller Place Board Adopts Budget Under Cap Without Full-Day Kindergarten

(Full story as published 4/4/13)

The proposal of full-day kindergarten in the 2013-14 school budget in Miller Place has been a hot topic since first proposed by Superintendent Marianne Higuera. On Wednesday the Board of Education made a decision to adopt a budget without the proposal.

After including kindergarten in the superintendent’s budget, the school board listened to varying community views on the topic for about a month before ultimately deciding against it.

“We are all cognizant of the educational merits of doing it, but at this particular time the sustainability issue is just too much for this board to pass,” said trustee Michael Unger.

The budget would have been $67,757,777, a 4.3-percent increase, with full-day kindergarten. Instead, the adopted budget of around $67.3 million will be an increase of 3.64 percent from last year.

“They are putting together the best educational program they can for 2013-’14 and I support their decisions,” Higuera said of the board’s adoption.

The budget not only retains all staff and programs, but also includes other initiatives and comes in under the tax levy cap. The district’s maximum allowable tax levy increase was 4.3 percent but the board managed to reduce the increase to 3.94 percent after initally projecting to be at the cap.

“The board really put a lot of thought and energy into offering the best educational programs for the district they could at the time and also considered the economic and fiscal constraints in the community,” Higuera said. “Their decision to come in under the tax cap was reflective of their beliefs.”

While full-day kindergarten is in the rear-view mirror for this upcoming budget, Unger noted that time taken to analyze the program was beneficial and it is something they will look at again in future budgets. They will also have to monitor whether or not they will still have the New York State Conversion Aid for the program in upcoming years.

“We’re going to keep in contact with legislators to find out the possibility of the aid going away,” Unger said. “The good thing is we looked at it now in detail. It’s important for the community to know that it’s now fully in our laps and we’re going to continue to look at it.”

Debate Persists On Contentious Miller Place Kindergarten Proposal

(Full story as published 3/14/13 on Miller Place-Rocky Point Patch)

Full-Day kindergarten continued to be the topic of contention at Wednesday’s second budget workshop as the district pitched the proposal again while now including a four-year projection.

Clearly the most controversial topic after the first workshop, the program would come at no cost to the district the first year and little cost in 2014-‘15 thanks to Kindergarten Conversion State Aid that would be received. The first two years of full-day kindergarten would come at a net cost of $105,370 thanks to a projected $750,000 in aid.

After the original meeting the board and residents asked for a projection extended past the first two years of the program. Superintendent Marianne Higuera delivered that on Wednesday. The projections showed that the total net cost of the program to the district over four years would come to $975,513. Teachers, parents and other residents spoke and shared their support or opposition with the proposal with the superintendents and the board.

“I’m concerned about its stability and what it’s going to do to us in three years,” said parent Lori Murphy. “We’ve made a lot of progress this year. How is it possible we can say that we can sustain that and it’s not going to pit everyone against each other once again in years three, four and five?”

Assistant Superintendent Susan Hodun also delivered a presentation on the effects of a full-day program, which included a comparison of the half-day and full-day schedule for students. The current half-day program lasts from 9:15 to 11:45 a.m. and includes four half-hour lessons. The full-day program would last until 3:45 p.m. and include 10 half-hour lessons as well as a 50-minute lunch and recess for the kids.

“I know that people will say, in the past we’ve always had half-day kindergarten and it’s worked, but we’re moving ahead now,” said parent Lauren Getz. “We need to give these children the opportunity and the resources to be the great citizens that I know that they can be.”

Another parent, Lisa McNulty, added, “It’s the time. This is the opportunity to go full-day and see how well our children can do by first, second and third grade.”

The Board of Education is continuing to look at all aspects of the superintendent’s proposal before adopting a budget, including the kindergarten proposal. According to projections, the proposed budget would be $67,757,777 with full-day kindergarten and $67,320,399 without. The budget includes other new initiatives and zero cuts.

“Personally I don’t think the board’s made a decision yet,” board member Michael Unger said regarding the kindergarten proposal. “I think clearly we feel that the educational impact is something you can’t argue. The other side though is the sustainability. Where are we going to be in three years?”

Budget adoption is scheduled for March 20, but at the request of some residents, the board is considering pushing the adoption back in order to leave more time for public comment.

Fantasy Baseball Insider Trading: Matt Joyce, Gaby Sanchez

Full story as published 5/19/11 on KFFL.com

By Rich Arleo

Some batters and pitchers on the other teams in your fantasy baseball league are becoming real drags. A few MLB players on your fantasy baseball team are performing better than you expected. Is it time to move in? KFFL.com’s Fantasy Baseball Insider Trading series is your accomplice when it’s time to do shady business in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game.

Sell

Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays

Has the 26-year-old finally found the sweet stroke many have been waiting for the past few years? Joyce is raking to the tune of a .365 average and .434 OBP with 26 runs, seven home runs and 21 RBIs.

Taking a look at Joyce’s minor league stats, in 519 games played he hit just .275. He had decent power numbers, but the average was never anything special, although he had a nice OBP of .362. He should hit for some decent power, but the pace that Joyce is on seems unsustainable, especially since his contact rate is hovering around 77 percent.

Florida Marlins 1B Gaby Sanchez
Sanchez has shown this before

Also, owners can’t forget the injury concerns with Joyce. He suffered through elbow issues last year and had a calf strain suffered prior to the start of 2009 that lingered, plus occasional back pain. He has been healthy thus far, but the injury concerns are certainly there.

Joyce’s bat has been somewhat highly regarded since his days with the Detroit Tigers, so there are plenty of owners who think this could finally be the year. It certainly could be, but if you find one of them and can get a safer, quality option in return, it may be worthwhile.

Hold

Gaby Sanchez, Florida Marlins

After a solid rookie season, the 27-year-old first baseman has become a must-start in all leagues, with a .325 average, a .406 OBP, seven home runs, 25 runs and 26 RBIs.

One big criticism of Sanchez is that he doesn’t have the power you expect from the first base position, but with seven home runs already, he’s on pace to hit more than 25. He’s being more selective at the plate, walking at a higher rate (11.7 percent) and an improved BB/K ratio of 0.81. His swing percentage at balls outside the strike zone is at 27.6, down from 34.8 percent last year.

Sanchez is hitting fourth in a decent Florida lineup, which means plenty of opportunities to drive in and score runs, especially once the struggling Hanley Ramirez figures things out at the plate. While his average on balls in play (.352) will certainly begin to normalize, his strong foundation should soften the ball. His HR/RB percentage (13.7) isn’t outrageous to predict a massive fall-off.

With Sanchez, it looks like a case of a player avoiding a sophomore slump. The signs are showing that in the majors he’s become the more patient, selective hitter he was in the minors, and it’s paying off. Unless you find Sanchez’s No. 1 fan, who’s willing to pay a respectable price for him, and not a skeptic who projects him to become James Loney, keep him and enjoy what should continue to be a breakout season.

– See more at: http://www.kffl.com/a.php/127778/fantasy-baseball/Fantasy-Baseball-Insider-Trading–Matt-Joyce–Gaby-Sanchez#sthash.flIlUpge.dpuf

From a Dream to a Nightmare and Back, Grindhaus Finally Opens

Full story as published 12/26/13 on CarrollGardens.Patch.com

By Rich Arleo

Five years after signing her lease, Erin Norris finally opens Grindhaus at 275 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook.

“A half a decade…that’s a long time,” said Grindhaus owner Erin Norris.

The restaurant started out as a dream for Norris, but after she signed her lease back on April Fool’s Day in 2008, it became a nightmare.

The whole idea started when she and a friend made what she estimates to be about 300 sausages for the neighborhood in her friend’s backyard. That night she had a dream where she envisioned Grindhaus, and she decided to act on it.

Norris found the space for a good price back in April of 2008, but didn’t realize what she was getting in to. The first of the long steps was waiting until December for her building permit. Then there was a year of work done by just her and a friend.

“The budget was so tight I couldn’t have a big firm come in and do it,” she said. “My parents actually did a reverse mortgage on the house we grew up in to fund this. It was a big leap of faith for them.”

Then there was a year where Grindhaus had to be put on hold as Norris worked 80 hour weeks as a restaurant manager in Manhattan. But then she joined Little Neck in Gowanus closer to home and was inspired.

Grindhaus was almost done as the end of 2012 neared.

“I had plans to open around this time last year,” Norris said. “Everything was basically done…and then the flood happened.

“The contents of my kitchen were in the dining room. It was traumatizing. Not to mention the basement was full of four feet of mud. That really takes the wind out of your sails.”

But when her mother who had given up so much to help told her it was OK if it never happened, Norris was more determined than ever.

With the help of a fundraiser on Kickstarter, money from Restore Red Hook and a few more grants and loans, Grindhaus has finally opened.

“It’s a challenge every day, but I love it,” she said. “I wanted to do this mostly because I really enjoy serving food. I don’t have a backup plan. I’m in it for the long haul. It’s hard to even think there was a time I was considering walking away from it.”

Originally planned to be a sausage parlor, the size of the kitchen made those plans change. Now featuring a fresh, seasonal menu with items for both meat lovers and even vegetarians, there is still one nod to the past.

Chef Aaron Taber and sous chef Leon Douglas were sure to include one sausage dish on the menu, a Meurgez that Norris calls “just the best.”

“They’ve got technique and they’re super inventive,” Norris said of her chefs. “They wow me on a daily basis.”

Now in its third week, Norris still hasn’t had time to sit and realize that the dream finally became reality.

“It really hasn’t sunk in,” she said. “I don’t have time to sit and think about it. I’ll never get to sit over in my favorite seat and have dinner. It’s just not going to happen. If I’m here I’m on the floor running around.”

The five-year push to open Grindhaus is over, but that was just the beginning. The restaurant, Norris says, was built with the intention of giving back to her parents while doing what she loves: feeding people.