Good Morning, Brooklyn: Thursday, December 23, 2021
FIRST CITY PENSION SYSTEM TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS: New York City’s pension funds have become the first in the nation to divest from fossil fuel reserve owners, and bringing the total divestment across all funds to an estimated $3 billion. So announced Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and trustees of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System (BERS). The divestment, one of the largest in the world, will address the significant financial and environmental risks that these holdings pose to the funds and to the planet.
The announcement by the Comptroller and Trustees follows an extensive and thorough fiduciary process to prudently assess the portfolio’s exposure to fossil fuel stranded asset risk and industry decline and other financial risks stemming from climate change.
GREEN-WOOD OFFERS TWO RESEARCH GRANTS: The Green-Wood Cemetery is offering two, all new research awards in 2022 focusing on Urban Environmental Science and Human/Nature Interactions. Emerging investigators in the natural sciences (graduate student, early-career faculty member, NGO-affiliated staff, etc.), have the opportunity, if they act quickly, to apply before December 31 for the Green-Wood Research Award in Urban Environmental Science for 2022, or the Green-Wood Research Award in Human/Nature Interactions for 2022. Projects can focus on urban ecology, climate resilience, species diversity, or other aspect of nature utilizing Green-Wood’s assets.
Members of the advisory committee for these award programs include scholars from three area colleges and universities; Jennifer Apell, Assistant Professor, Civil and Urban Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering; Kenneth A. Gould, Professor of Sociology and Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Brooklyn College; and Jenny Kao-Kniffin. Associate Professor, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science and also Associate Director, Agriculture & Life Sciences, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cornell University, which has a location on President Street, Brooklyn.
SANITATION PICKUP CHANGES FOR CHRISTMAS: Trash and recycling collection schedules for this week have changed due to the Christmas holiday on December 25, the Department of Sanitation wants New Yorkers to know. Residents whose regular recycling collection day is Saturday should place their recycling at their curbsides on Sunday, December 26 between 4 p.m. and midnight for collections beginning on Monday, Dec. 27. However, those whose trash collection falls on Saturday should hold off on placing their bins at the curb until the next regular trash pickup.
The Sanitation Dept. reminds New Yorkers that Friday, December 24 is a normal collection day and that alternate-side parking and meter rules are suspended on December 24-25 and again on December 31-January 1, 2022.
TIPPED RESTAURANT WORKERS DEMAND GOVERNOR ORDER ONE FAIR WAGE: Approximately 1,700 restaurant workers across New York State have signed a petition stating that they will not work this Christmas unless Gov. Kathy Hochul uses executive action to immediately guarantee one fair wage for all tipped workers. Their warning comes as surging Omicron rates and low, sub-minimum wages have already created, and continue to fuel, a mass-worker exodus from New York’s restaurant industry.
Moreover, as workers allege hostility and even harassment from customers, the petition numbers have quintupled in the last 24-hour period due to workers’ unwillingness to work during the Omicron outbreak.
IPS NEWS: NEW LAWS PUSH FAIR HOUSING: Gov. Kathy Hochul has now signed into law a package of legislation that Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz (D-District 45/Sheepshead Bay), sponsored, and that State Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-26th District) co-sponsored, to combat housing discrimination. Assemblymember Cymbrowitz’s legislation (A.5428-A) requires all state and local agencies that administer housing programs, or that enforce housing laws and receive state funding, to affirmatively promote fair housing.
Under the legislation, which amends the public housing law, covered housing agencies will be required to take meaningful steps to further fair housing, such as identifying and overcoming patterns of segregation, eradicating racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, reducing disparities in access to opportunity, and eliminating disproportionate housing needs.
IPS NEWS: DR. CHOKSHI STAYS ON THROUGH MARCH 15: Dr. Dave A. Chokshi will continue to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) through March 15, Mayor-elect Eric Adams has announced. After the new administration’s transition period, Ashwin Vasan, M.D., PhD, who, during the interim, will serve as Senior Adviser for Public Health will then become Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene Commissioner in March.
The appointments are meant to ensure continuity and a seamless transition of leadership as New York City continues to combat the surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. A report from the Center for Disease Control shows the positivity rate at 10.2 percent with 92 percent of sequenced cases attributed to Omicron.
IPS NEWS: TOY GIVE-AWAY FROM SON OF ALUMNUS: New York City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr., was set to join dozens of NYPD personnel and members of the New York Police Department and Brooklyn native business owner, Salvatore Stile, to surprise nearly 200 needy Brooklyn school children with hundreds of holiday toys. The delegation appeared at Stephen Decatur Middle School on MacDonough St. in Bedford-Stuyvesant to transform the school gym into a giant toy store.
Principal Jacqueline Charles joined Salvatore Stile, who donated more than $10,000 in toys in memory of his late father, a COVID-19 victim who had attended the school in 1949.
IPS NEWS: LARGE UNION ENDORSES MAX ROSE TO RECAPTURE CONGRESSIONAL SEAT: Former Congressman and combat veteran Max Rose has received the endorsement of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). one of the country’s largest unions in the race for NY-11 in his Congressional race to unseat Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who won Rose’s seat for the 11th Congressional District in the 2020 election. RWDSU is the first union to endorse Max Rose in this race.
“We trust Max Rose to stand with labor; and the RWDSU is proud to endorse Max Rose for Congress,” said Stuart Applebaum, President of the RWDSU.
IPS NEWS: INVESTIGATE PEAKER PLANT’S HEALTH IMPACT: Three area members of Congress, including two from Brooklyn, have sent a letter to U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requesting that GAO examine the impact of peaker power plant pollution on frontline communities and evaluate replacement strategies. Peaker plants, which burn dirty fuel when electricity demand peaks, are less efficient and more expensive than typical baseload power plants, and are more likely to be located in low-income neighborhoods and in communities of color.
New York City alone has 89 peaker units, in the districts that the Congress members sent, including 49 in Rep. Yvette Clarke’s home district, 28 in the vicinity of Congressmember Carolyn Maloney’s district in northern Brooklyn, and 16 in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district.
IPS NEWS: SLUGGISH TEST RESULT DELIVERY: Just a day after rebuking LabQ for sluggish testing results, New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued a warning letter to Lab Worq, LLC — with dozens of testing sites across Manhattan and other boroughs, including one on Graham Avenue in Greenpoint, after learning that some consumers have been waiting more than 120 hours, (over five days), for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test results, even though the company advertises that consumers can expect results within 24 hours. The letter notifies Lab Worq 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 expect to wait before receiving COVID-19 test results.
Earlier this week, the Attorney General wrote to another testing laboratory, LabQ, demanding the company take similar steps to update its website, its signage, and its consumers about realistic wait times for COVID-19 test results.
IPS NEWS: WORRIES OVER UNHEALTHY FILTRATION SYSTEM: After learning that certain air filtration devices being used in New York City Public Schools may be producing harmful chemical byproducts, Congressmember Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) called on the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to investigate these concerns. In a letter yesterday to New York City DOE Chancellor Meisha Porter, the Congressmember acknowledged the steps taken by DOE to add new air filtration systems into its buildings but expressed concern about the devices’ safety. “I am told that these devices are unregulated and have been shown to irritate airways, produce pollutants, and cause asthmatic symptoms while not being proven to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Maloney pointed out that HEPA filters and UV lights are scientifically proven technologies which should be used in place of these devices in order to ensure safe air quality.
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