Good Morning, Brooklyn: Wednesday, December 22, 2021
MORE SPEEDING DRIVERS: Aggressive driving has increased on New York roads, according to a new analysis of DMV data, which reveals harsh new driving behaviors. Rosenblum Law, which specializes in traffic violations, examined accident and traffic ticket data throughout 2020 which points to significant change in driving habits, most substantially a 70% increase in extreme speeding (more than 31 mph above the posted limit), along with surges in aggressive driving and serious accidents. Last year 17,000 tickets were written in New York for exceeding the speed limit by 31 mph or more, a statistic even more meaningful, given a 13% overall decrease in traffic due to COVID-related lockdowns, remote work, an increase in online shopping, fewer discretionary vacations, and road trips.
Yet, the five boroughs of NYC, including in Brooklyn (Kings County) led the state in traffic ticket declines.
MURDER CONVICTION: A former Brooklyn resident has been convicted of two counts of murder for shooting to death his sister and former girlfriend 19 years ago, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Tuesday. The defendant, who committed the murders in July 2002, and identified as Andre Neverson, 57, of Trinidad and Tobago, then fled Brooklyn and remained at large until his arrest in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 2018. Kings County Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun presided at the jury trial in which Neverson was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
The defendant will be sentenced on January 31, 2022, at which time he faces up to 50 years to life in prison.
LEAD FOUND IN RACING CAR TOY SET: The New York State Division of Consumer Protection wants the Super Car Racing Car set removed from toy store shelves nationwide, after that product failed safety tests. Lab findings showed that this toy, manufactured in China, failed the federal children’s product safety standard protocols for lead levels in excess of the 100 parts per million or ppm standard. The state agency has called on the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to review and act on the findings.
The Super Car Racing Car set may be disposed of by throwing it away, or consumers may wish to set it aside in a safe place and await possible future recall instructions, which may or may not include a refund component.
LAB WARNED FOR SLUGGISH TEST TURNAROUND TIMES: LabQ Diagnostics, a Brooklyn-based laboratory with dozens of mobile locations across New York City, has received a warning from New York Attorney General Letitia James upon her discovery that some consumers have been waiting over 96 hours (four days) for COVID-19 test results, even though the company advertises that consumers can expect results within half that time. The letter notifies LabQ that New York law prohibits false advertising and instructs the company to immediately update its signage at testing sites and on the company’s website to accurately reflect how long individuals can realistically expect to wait before receiving COVID-19 test results, and to provide this notification to clients who are currently awaiting answers.
Attorney General James instructs consumers who believe they have received misleading statement on turnaround time from any testing facility to file a complaint online with the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau or call the office at 1-800-771-7755.
IPS NEWS: CONSUMER ALERT ON PRICE GOUGING: New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued a consumer alert concerning potential price gouging of over-the-counter coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) at-home testing products, as well as other in-demand essential products, in the wake of the current surge of cases due to the Omicron variant. The Office of Attorney General (OAG) has received complaints of COVID-19 testing products being sold at double or triple the retail price. While a standard BinaxNOW brand test kit costs appropriately between $14 and $25 for a package of two tests, there have been alleged reports of the same product being unlawfully sold for more than $40 and up to $70 per package.
New York law prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services that are vital to their health, safety, or welfare for an “unconscionably excessive” price.
RIGHTS OF DISABLED, HOSPITALIZED PERSONS: Individuals with disabilities have the right to an essential support person to accompany them while they are hospitalized, thanks to a package of legislation that New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed. The new laws make certain that a hospital may not establish any rules or regulations in a response to a pandemic or state disaster emergency declared by the governor, to prohibit a patient who suffers from a disability from having an essential support person present for the duration of their hospitalizations.
The law defines the term disability as an individual having any condition or disorder that makes it difficult for them to communicate a medical condition or certain everyday needs, including but not limited to autism or cerebral palsy. The individual with a disability is allowed to designate a single support person to assist with medical and everyday needs, and that such essential support person shall be limited to the patient’s parent, spouse or caretaker.
POLICY PROPOSALS TO HELP RESTAURANTS: The NYC Hospitality Alliance has released 10 critical policy proposals that the city, state and federal government should enact immediately to ease the economic pain that more than 20,000 NYC restaurants, bars, nightclubs and event spaces are experiencing. These proposals include offsetting the cost of sick pay; getting rapid tests to restaurants to protect the health and safety of restaurant workers and diners; converting sales tax to grants so businesses have immediate money on-hand to cover expenses; reinstating Alcohol to Go; allowing the safe use of propane heaters for outdoor dining; replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund; requiring the IRS to send Employee Retention Tax Credit checks to businesses; passing the Low-Revenue Recipient Paycheck Protection Program Relief Act that Rep. Jerry Nadler introduced.
Another policy proposal is to get more people vaccinated and boosted.
MOST POPULAR LIBRARY BOOK: The Vanishing Half, a powerful novel by Brit Bennett which focuses on two twin sisters and issues of racial identity and bigotry in the segregated South, was the Brooklyn Public Library’s top checkout for 2021. The other most popular checked-out items, in e-books, audio books, and physical book format, were The Midnight Library by Matt Haig; A Promised Land by Barack Obama; The Guest List by Lucy Foley; Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson; Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hing; The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides; The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah; The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, and Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid.
The first three Harry Potter books also ranked on the lists of 2021 top checkouts, with the full roster — including children’s and young adult titles — available via https://bklynlib.org/topcheckouts21
CHALLENGING A DECADE’S REPUTATION: The 1950s are often referred to as a time of prosperity and conformity; however, author James R. Gaines’ new book, The Fifties: An Underground History, upends this conventional narrative, portraying brave individuals who advocated civil rights, gay rights and the feminist and environmental movements. Gaines will participate in a virtual program through the Center for Brooklyn History, on Wednesday, January 19 at 6:30 p.m. (Registration: https://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/cbh-talk-fifties-virtual-20220119)
Joining Gaines in conversation will be award-winning author Daniel Okrent, the first public editor of The New York Times.
SHIP AHOY: Naval sailors and other military branch members, who protect the United States at sea and thus must often sacrifice celebrating holidays with their loved ones, send home greetings through the Navy Office of Community Outreach. Senior Chief Petty Officer Calvin Hou, a Brooklyn native deployed with his fellow sailors aboard the USS Essex, wants family back home to know they are missed this holiday season and writes, “Christmas and the holidays usually means time with the family. The most special moment for me and my family, was for my grandmother to meet her great-grand daughter for the first time last year.”
“Sitting in my living room drinking coffee and watching my kids opening gifts Christmas morning with all my family around last year, is something I look forward to next year,” added Hou.
IPS NEWS: FOLLOW-UP ON PET STORE FRAUD: A Long Island-based pet store can no longer purchase or adopt animals for re-sale in New York after New York Attorney General Letitia James successfully secured a court order protecting puppies. Last week, Attorney General James had filed a lawsuit, alleging that both Shake A Paw locations — in Lynbrook and Hicksville — sold hundreds of sick or injured puppies to unaware consumers.
The court order also requires a vet appointed by Attorney General James to examine all puppies currently in Shake A Paw’s possession prior to their sale, and freezes Shake A Paw’s bank accounts to potentially pay restitution to impacted families.
IPS NEWS: SUPPLEMENTAL SNAP ALLOTMENT: All New Yorkers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive the maximum allowable level of food benefits for December, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday. All households participating in SNAP—including those already at the maximum level of benefits—will receive a supplemental allotment later this month, bringing in roughly $230 million in federal funding into the state’s economy this month and more than $2.4 billion since January.
Moreover, those households already near or at the maximum benefit level will receive a supplemental payment of at least $95.
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