Good Morning, Brooklyn: Monday, December 27, 2021
TIMES SQUARE NEW YEAR’S SCALED BACK: The annual Times Square New Year’s rite will be scaled back but still proceed as scheduled, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. Additional protections, including proof of full vaccination status and photo ID, and a mask mandate will be in place to ensure a safe celebration. Social-distancing means that viewing areas will be filled with fewer people.
Normally hosting approximately 58,000 people in viewing areas, this year’s celebration will host approximately 15,000 people, and visitors won’t be allowed entry until 3 p.m., much later than past years’ events.
GOOD NEWS ON ELEVATOR REOPENING: The elevator at the Flatbush Ave-Brooklyn College 2 and 5 station has reopened ahead of schedule, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced on Thursday. The elevator was closed from July 7, 2021 as part of a larger ongoing project to replace 11 hydraulic elevators at seven stations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The elevator replacement project includes full replacement of elevator cab and associated equipment within the cab, shaft, and pit, replacing and modernizing all CCTV and fire alarm equipment for enhanced security and upgrading the LiftNet remote monitoring equipment to allow crews to respond more quickly to future maintenance concerns.
Work to install a new elevator serving the Manhattan-bound platform at the nearby Church Avenue 2 and 5 station began on Wednesday, Dec. 22 and is expected to be completed in Spring 2022. The station will remain open, and the elevator to the Brooklyn-bound platform will remain open.
KEEPING VACCINATION DOCS LEGITIMATE: A package of legislation that will improve New York’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic became law Thursday with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature. The signed bills add clarification that a COVID Vaccination Card shall be considered a written instrument for purposes of the forgery statute, which makes the falsification of COVID-19 Vaccination Cards a class A misdemeanor. The laws also create a new class E felony of computer tampering in the third degree for intentional entering, alteration or destruction of “computer material” regarding COVID-19 vaccine provisions.
The legislation package also gives schools improved access to the statewide immunization database, requiring the Department of Health (DOH) to allow every school access to the immunization records for their students. Whereas, schools that are not school-based health-centers currently have read-only access to the New York State Immunization Information System.
IPS NEWS: URGENT TO EXPAND COVID TREATMENT AVAILABILITY: Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s only Republican member of Congress, addressing the national pandemic crisis, declared that the Biden administration should urgently refocus efforts on expanding treatments for COVID. Hospitals in New York City are reporting shortages of the monoclonal antibody Sotrovimab, which is hindering their ability to adequately treat their patients. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) sent a letter to President Biden urging the administration to turn its focus to increasing the supply and distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments and therapeutic medicines to treat COVID-19 infections.
Malliotakis added, “We are now two years and multiple variants into this pandemic. It is clear that COVID-19 is going to remain among us in one form or another, and the government mandates and restrictions have not been effective, only increasing vaccine hesitancy and distrust of government.”
DeSTEFANO BEGAN CAREER IN BROOKLYN COURT: A judge with prior experience in Brooklyn’s Appellate Courthouse has been placed in charge of Nassau County’s trial courts, reports the New York Law Journal. Supreme Court Justice Vito DeStefano began his law career working as a principal appellate court attorney for the Appellate Division, Second Department.
DeStefano’s appointment took effect earlier this month. He succeeds Norman St. George, who was elevated to the role of deputy administrative judge for courts outside of New York City after Vito Caruso retired in August.
CLEANING UP SUPERFUND SITES: A public comment period is starting from a set of proposed changes to New York State’s regulations for the clean-up of contaminated sites. The proposals, which are available for public comment until April 21, 2022, would create new cleanup standards for the oversight of the emerging contaminants perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanoic sulfonate (PFOS), strengthen the implementation of the State’s successful Brownfield Cleanup Program, and enhance State Superfund and other cleanup programs.
DEC encourages the public to participate in and submit comments during two virtual hearings on the revised rulemaking. The hearings will be held at 2 p.m. on April 5, 2022, and 5:30 p.m. on April 7, 2022. To participate in the hearings, visit DEC’s website. https://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/101908.html
ENHANCE SAFETY AT LOW-CLEARANCE BRIDGES: A $1.2 million project to enhance safety at low-clearance bridges throughout New York City, including the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Prospect Expressway that runs from Park Slope to Kensington, has been completed, New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez announced on Thursday. The project enhanced signage along state parkways, expressways and at approaches to 85 low-clearance bridges with messaging warning commercial vehicles to avoid or exit parkways and seek alternate routes. In addition to replacing 181 existing signs, the project installed an additional 135 along roadsides and over travel lanes to help alert drivers of the low clearances.
Commercial vehicles are prohibited from entering parkways in New York because the roadways, built in the 1930s and 1940s, were designed strictly for automobiles and have low bridge clearances.
IPS NEWS: PROTECT RIGHTS OF PREGNANT WORKERS: New York Attorney General Letitia James today led a coalition of 15 attorneys general from around the nation in calling on the U.S. Senate to protect pregnant employees. Currently, despite both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in place, pregnant workers are not fully protected under the law. Reasonable accommodations under the ADA are available only to qualified individuals living with disabilities, including those disabilities related to pregnancy.
Reasonable accommodations can include, but are not limited to, sitting instead of standing, taking more regular breaks, and temporarily avoiding certain activities, like heavy lifting. Individuals in low-paying jobs are disproportionately people of color and those individuals are also more likely to be denied reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy due to the culture and demands of low-paying workplaces.
IPS NEWS: LAW PACKAGE COMBATS RACISM, HATE CRIMES: Racism is defined as a public health crisis in a new package of laws that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed just before Christmas. The new laws also enact the hate crimes analysis and review act, require the collection of certain demographic data by certain state agencies, boards, departments, and commissions, require a health equity assessment to be filed with an application for any project that will affect a hospital’s health care services, and mandate that the New York State Office of Technology Services advise all state agencies in the implementation of language translation technology. Legislation S.4316/A.4572 expands the list of diseases for which a newborn can be screened in order to include conditions more prevalent in newborns from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.
The sponsors included two state senators who represent Brooklyn: Sen. Kevin Parker (D-21), whose district stretches from southern Park Slope to East Flatbush; and Sen. Julia Salazar (D-18,) whose district includes Bushwick and other parts of northern Brooklyn.
IPS NEWS: MORE ROADWAY SAFETY: BQE Overweight Truck bill (S2740B/A2316) that State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon sponsored is now law with Gov. Hochul’s signature. The new law authorizes a pilot program along I-278 in Brooklyn allowing for the installation of state-of-the-art, weigh-in-motion technology to issue violations electronically when trucks exceed the existing legal weight limits.
The new state law authorizes automated enforcement on the Brooklyn portion of the BQE, enabling expanded enforcement efforts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Enforcement would utilize weigh-in-motion systems paired with cameras, similar to New York City’s successful automated school speed zone and red-light camera programs.
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