Good Morning, Brooklyn: Thursday, September 30, 2021
BRIBERY AND UNSAFE SCHOOL FOOD: Federal court in Brooklyn unsealed a charge on Wednesday that Eric Goldstein, the former CEO of the New York City Department of Education’s (“NYC DOE”) Office of School Support Services allegedly conspired to commit extortion under cover of official right and solicitation and giving of bribes relating to programs receiving federal funds. Goldstein, who was arrested Wednesday and released on bond, had during 2015-2016 allegedly ensured that the public schools bought products sold by a food service company that he had founded and owned, in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.
The scheme unraveled after repeated complaints from students and staff that their chicken tenders and other foods from that company contained foreign objects, including plastic, metal and bones.
MORE SUBPOENAS IN JAN. 6 INSURRECTION PROBE: A US House of Representatives committee that is investigating the January 6 Capital Insurrection has subpoenaed 11 officials who are believed to have been involved in planning rallies in support of former President Donald J. Trump. The “inquiry includes examination of how various individuals and entities coordinated their activities leading up to the events of January 6,” according to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), committee chairperson.
The panel’s investigation has grown more intensive, as it investigates and dissects the insurrection’s origins and discusses how to prevent another one from happening.
NEW EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS FUNDING: Governor Kathy Hochul has announced $45 million in state grant funding has been awarded to New York City and counties statewide to improve the operability of emergency communications. This funding will enable local governments to expand their ability to communicate, exchange valuable data, and streamline information to enhance collaboration and assist first responders.
This year, multiple counties are adding National Interoperability Channels to the infrastructure, as well as building new towers and land mobile radio systems, and moving to P25 technologies and equipment.
WELLNESS CENTER NAMED FOR LONGTIME CONGRESSMEMBER: Brooklyn-based real estate developer, BFC Partners, has announced details about memberships for a new wellness center named for the late Congressmember Major R. Owens and opening later this year. The Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Center will offer recreational sports to children like basketball, soccer and swimming, and will be home to several community nonprofits, including Imagine Swimming, New Heights, Globall Sports Center and The Betty Carter Auditorium for the Arts.
Major Robert Odell Owens was a U.S. Congressmember who was elected in 1983 and until 2007 served the widely-diverse 11th (later the 12th) Congressional District, which covered large parts of Crown Heights, Brownsville, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Park Slope. He succeeded Rep. Shirley Chisholm and served for 24 years until his retirement, when Rep. Yvette Clarke succeeded him.
NEW COURSE FOCUSES ON FOOD AS MEDICINE: SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University has launched its brand-new University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) Food as Medicine Initiative, a supplemental course program for students about diet, nutrition, and health. A $10,000 discretionary grant from the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, SUNY Downstate’s Committee on Plant-Based Health and Nutrition, and the student-run Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group supported the initiative.
The program, headed by Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, is comprised of two online courses with about six hours of up-to-date evidence about diet, nutrition, and health.
NEW STATE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH, has been appointed Commissioner of the NY State Department of Health. Currently working at Harvard in public health, Dr. Bassett returns to New York where she served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, making racial justice a priority. Dr. Bassett also led the Department’s response to Ebola, Legionnaires’ disease and other disease outbreaks.
Dr. Bassett also served 18 years ago as deputy commissioner of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, her signature program here being the launch of District Public Health Offices in several neighborhoods long harmed by racial/ethnic and economic health inequities.
EMERGENCY ORDER FOR CITY JAILS: An emergency order was issued on Wednesday, requiring immediate changes in the New York City jails to address the current humanitarian crisis in the facilities. The Legal Aid Society announced that the federal court today issued an emergency order in the case of Nunez v. City of New York et al. This comes in response to an emergency request that the Legal Aid Society filed last week, detailing the extraordinary risk of harm facing people in city jails and calling for immediate action from the City and the federal court.
The new order places a mandatory 24-hour cap on the time people can be housed in intake facilities to address the problem of warehousing people in inhumane conditions. It requires the City to track and report to the Court on how long people stay in intake; and ensures that staff follow strict suicide-prevention protocols.
MURAL’S DESTRUCTION OUTRAGES COMMUNITY: The DOE’s destruction of a publicly-funded and diversity-centered mural at P.S. 295 was the focus of a virtual Town Hall meeting scheduled to take place last night, Wednesday, Sept. 29. Fifth graders at P.S. 295 and the community arts organization Groundswell had spent the summer designing images of multi-racial hands clasped together and Black girls wearing crowns alongside messages like “Black Trans Lives Matter” and a quote from feminist author Audre Lorde warning “Your Silence Will Not Protect You.”
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca planned to join students, and community members in the Town Hall, which is “meant to bring accountability and transparency to an internal process that has been marked by closed doors on the part of the school administrators and Department of Education.”
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