Archive for December, 2011

Happy Birthday Bensonhurst!

350 years ago Bensonhurst was developing as an important economic and social area of what was to become New York City. Today Bensonhurst is still going strong and remains a vital community in the city. The historical article below tells us about the dynamic figures who played a large part in creating beautiful Southern Brooklyn. Enjoy!

Lucretia Regina-Potter

Happy 350th Birthday, Bensonhurst!

by Joe Teutonico on Dec 22nd, 2011  Bensonhurst Bean

If you live in Bensonhurst – or the historically linked areas of Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, Mapleton and Bay Ridge – feel free to wish your respective hood a hearty 350th b-day.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, on December 22, 1661 the town of New Utrecht – which at the time encompassed most of Southwestern Brooklyn, was granted a charter by the Dutch West India Company.

The English would take over the province of New Netherland just three years later, renaming it New York.

Prior to 1647, New Utrecht, named for the Dutch city of Utrecht, had been Nyack Indian land.

In that year, the governor of New Netherland granted a deed for the land to Anthony Jansen van Salee, a very intriguing historical figure. Van Salee, a so-called “mulatto”, was the reputed half-Moroccan, half-Dutch son of a wealthy former head of state, New York’s first Muslim and ancestor to today’s high society Vanderbilt family.

From the Eagle:

In 1652, Cornelius van Werckhoven from Utrecht, Netherlands, built a house and a mill and the first European settlers moved in — Cornelius, his two children and their tutor, Jacques Cortelyou.

When van Werckhoven died in 1655, Cortelyou took over leadership of the settlement. He acquired land later occupied by Fort Hamilton, and divided the parcel into 20 plots of 50 acres each. Residents established the New Utrecht Reformed Dutch Church in 1677. The present building, erected in 1828, still stands at 18th Avenue and 83rd Street.

By 1738, New Utrecht had a population 282, of whom 119 were West African slaves. Throughout the 18th and most of the 19th century, the area was part of the bread basket for the growing cities of Brooklyn and New York. The raising of cattle and production of grains, along with cash crops like tobacco, were the town’s main industries.

In 1880, as land was being bought up by land speculators and suburban housing developers, the number of inhabitants reached 4,742. Today, the combined populations of the neighborhoods that once made up the town of New Utrecht probably exceed 300,000.

The completion of the Sea Beach, West End and Coney Island, and Culver railroads in the 1870′s helped bring about the eventual end of Southwestern Brooklyn’s agricultural era. The same rail lines that made New Utrecht’s urbanization possible continue to serve Bensonhurst’s commuters today as part of the New York City Subway system.

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Brooklyn, N.Y.

Arnaldo A. Ferraro, Ph.D.


In a déjà-vu reapportionment conspiracy of the 49th Assembly District in Brooklyn, the recently proposed drafted maps of Senate and Assembly districts by the groups Latino Justice PRLDEF, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Center for Law and Social Justice and the National Institute for Latino Politics are certainly not ones that provide “fair ethnic representation” to the people of certain areas, as they claim.

In analyzing the plan of the proposed map of the 49th Assembly District, it seems, in my opinion, that the reapportionment of the 49th Assembly District was mostly based on two simple objectives. The first is to reapportion out of her district, Lucretia Regina-Potter, the Republican Female State Committeewoman of the 49th AD, and perennial nemesis of both the current Democratic Assemblyman Peter Abbate and Republican Kings County Chairman Craig Eaton.

If this seems to be a far fetched conclusion, please look at the political events in the 49th Assembly District in the last six years, and more recently the Assembly and Leadership races that have just passed. They will illustrate and support this theory. Lucretia Regina-Potter is very active in the 49th Assembly District and raises awareness and issues relevant to her community, much to the chagrin of those currently holding office.

By looking at the suggested new “unity” map of the 49th AD, one can also see two very important as well curious facts: the border of the new district ends at Bath Avenue, just one block away from Cropsey Avenue where Lucretia Regina-Potter lives. Coincidental? I would say very strange. One more block would not have drastically changed whatever other objective that this plan wants to accomplish. On the other hand, conveniently so, the current Assemblyman is kept into the District by virtually “carving” his residence address by adding a small portion of two adjacent Streets near his mother’s house. Again, coincidence? Certainly, very strange!

Also consider that all other political players in this proposed reapportionment of the 49th AD remain in the District; including the two current Democratic District Leaders, the Republican Male District Leader, and a former young Republican candidate for District Leader that run against the ticket headed by Lucretia-Regina-Potter in 2011.

The second arguably grandiose objective of this prejudiced and ill-conceived reapportioning plan is easily dismissible. The creation of any ethnic Districts would not reflect the best interests of the community, including the ethnic group that it purports to enhance. This is indicated in the following map proposed by the above mentioned groups.

The Fiorello LaGuardia Republican Organization, its Leadership, and its members all rise in strong opposition to a plan dictated by political and selfish individual interests!


A joint draft proposal for New York State Assembly and State Senate district maps that adjust for the changing demographics and afford fair representation for New Yorkers of every race and ethnicity

Proposed by
LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Center for Law and Social Justice and the National Institute for Latino Politics

Assembly District 49 Proposal

Population Deviation
128,532 -0.5%
NHAsian 51.1%
NHBlack 0.7%
Hispanic 14.9%
NHWhite 31.9%

Part II

A Simple Solution:

What was described in Part I of this series is but one example of the manipulative plan by the powers that be to protect their incumbency and at the same time to eliminate possible challengers. In the case of the 49th Assembly District, the elimination of a strong challenger seems to have been the main intention of the plan. It would not be surprising if those Republicans who are supposed to unite the party were also collaborating in this scheme. What brings one to this conclusion is the fact that the person we referred to previously as “a young former Republican candidate for District Leader that run against the LaGuardia Ticket”, is barely kept in the proposed District. A logical question would then be “Why?”

A simple solution to this mess created by enacting such a manipulative plan would be to extend the proposed lines by only one block, the one block that was intentionally eliminated in order to reapportion Lucretia Regina-Potter out of the 49th AD. Obviously, this is not going to happen, at least if those who have planned this scheme have the power to decide. To quote Bill Hammond of the Daily News “quite simply, districts are rigged to be shoo-ins for incumbents,” even if this means to use their powers directly against their opponents.

In conclusion, all this hoopla about the long awaited districts reapportionment is just another exercise in futility or, better yet, another show of selfish greet of the egotistical and unscrupulous  incumbent public officials, regardless of Party affiliation, especially of those in the majority.

This makes everyone long for the non-partisan, independent redistricting commission auspicated by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the greatest majority of legislators in New York State.

Arnaldo A. Ferraro, Ph.D. is the Former Assemblyman of the 49AD, and the Founder/Chairman of the Fiorello LaGuardia Republican Organization

He can be reached at

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Happy Hanukka!

Wishing Everyone A Wonderful Hanukkah!

Lucretia Regina-Potter

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