Good Morning, Brooklyn: Thursday, July 21, 2022
VERRAZZANO BRIDGE LOWER LEVEL COMPLETELY CLOSED OVERNIGHT: Commuters using the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge overnight to or from Brooklyn will need to take the upper level. The lower level will be closed from 10:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. on Friday, July 22 for ongoing construction work. This nighttime closure is taking place instead of the intermittent closures that the MTA Bridge & Tunnels department had implemented thus far.
Although the MTA Bridges & Tunnels web page for the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge has not been updated since April 2021, it reports that the construction project to replace and bolster its infrastructure began about two years ago.
MAYOR CREATES NEW YORK’S FIRST-EVER FILM AND TELEVISION INDUSTRY COUNCIL: Mayor Eric Adams laid out the three components of his “Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent” economic recovery blueprint, including a first-ever Film And Television Industry Council. Earlier today, the mayor announced he hired film and television veteran Kwame Amoaku as deputy commissioner in the Film Office of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), to serve as principal advisor on production policy as film production in New York City returns to pre-pandemic levels.
The 21-member Film and Television Production Industry Council, with co-chairs being Directors Guild of America (DGA) Eastern Executive Director Neil Dudich and Executive Producer and New York Producers COVID Response Alliance Co-Chair April Taylor, will include Doug Steiner – Chairman, Steiner Studios, located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
NYCHA ACTIVATES EMERGENCY OPS DURING HEAT WAVE: The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has activated its Emergency Operations Center in advance of temperatures exceeding 90 degrees through this Sunday, with temperatures and heat indices being the highest yesterday and today, Thursday. Cooling centers will be activated starting on Thursday at locations throughout the city to include centers on NYCHA property.
Working closely with New York City Emergency Management and other partner agencies, the EOC will enable the Authority to coordinate the flow of resources and policy decisions and the dissemination of information to the more than 339,000 New Yorkers living in NYCHA campuses throughout New York City.
URGING SWIFT MONKEYPOX DELIVERY TO NY: Expressing concern over the rapid spread of the monkeypox virus, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-12/northern Brooklyn) Chairperson of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, urging HHS to swiftly ensure that vaccines, testing, and treatment are available to all people who seek them, including people with MPV symptoms or suspected exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,100 MPV cases have been confirmed in 43 states, including New York — representing a more than threefold increase in cases over the last 13 days.
Demand for the vaccine far outpaces supply in most major cities across the country, including New York City. Although more than 1.5 million people in the United States are currently eligible for MPV vaccination, only 132,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered nationwide as of July 15, with vaccine appointments filling up within minutes.
MONKEYPOX VACCINE REPLENISHMENT EXPECTED: New York City’s next monkeypox vaccine allocation will be 25,963 doses, with new appointments going online soon, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. The city’s new allocation includes 23,963 doses directly from the federal government as well as 2,000 from New York State. New Yorkers can sign up for text notifications to receive alerts about monkeypox in NYC, including appointment releases, by texting MONKEYPOX to 692692 or MONKEYPOXESP for alerts in Spanish.
In addition to the 9,200 doses – from an allocation of 14,500 – another 4,000 doses were held for direct referrals from community-based organizations serving people at higher risk, with the remainder for direct contacts or confirmed contacts.
SECURES FOR $34.2M FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL IN FRAUD CASE: Military service veterans who were defrauded by Harris Jewelry can breathe a sigh of relief now that New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Federal Trade Commission have recovered $34.2 million on their behalf from the company. More than 46,000 servicemembers and veterans are said to have fallen victim to national retailer, Harris Jewelry, which was found to have used deceptive marketing tactics to lure active-duty servicemembers to their financing program, falsely claiming that investing in this program would improve servicemembers’ credit scores.
Attorney General James and FTC co-led an 18-state agreement that requires Harris Jewelry to refund tens of thousands of servicemembers for warranties they were tricked into purchasing, to stop collecting millions of dollars of debt, to correct bad credit scores, to dissolve all its businesses, and to pay $1 million to all 18 states.
CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER PRETENDED TO BE MODELING SCOUT: U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen presided over the conviction in Brooklyn federal court yesterday of a registered sex offender who enticed his victims by pretending to be a modeling scout. Following jury trial, Davis Burgos-Collazo was convicted by a jury of attempting to sexually exploit five children, two counts of distributing child pornography, accessing child pornography with intent to view it, and committing a felony sexual offense involving minors while being a registered sex offender.
The verdict was returned after a one-week trial, with the prosecution being part of Project Safe Childhood. When sentenced, the defendant faces up to life in prison.
POSTAL SERVICE TO DOUBLE PURCHASE OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES: The U.S. Postal Service’s announcement of its plans to double its initial purchase of electric vehicles has received praise from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-12/northern Brooklyn) Chairperson of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, who earlier this year had questioned the federal agency’s justification for buying gas-guzzling delivery trucks. As a result of its new environmental impact statement, the Postal Service announced its increase in the share of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in its initial purchase order from 20 percent to 50 percent, for a total of 25,000 electric vehicles, and its intent to purchase an additional 34,500 off-the-shelf vehicles, including “as many BEVs as are commercially available.”
Chairperson Maloney sent a letter in May of this year to the Postmaster General requesting information about the Postal Service’s acquisition of its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle and urging the Postal Service to issue a new environmental impact statement and to take steps to rapidly transition to an electric fleet rather than moving ahead with plans to buy tens of thousands of gas-powered trucks.
NEW LEGISLATION ON HANDLING NYCHA COMPLAINTS: As part of an effort to expedite maintenance complaints and improve living conditions at New York City Housing Authority buildings, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a package of legislation to support residents of public housing. Legislation S.7859-A/A.8612-A requires NYCHA to create and maintain a searchable database of ticket numbers showing complaints filed by residents. Legislation S.72-A/A.9387-A requires that data of outstanding code violations in public housing developments be maintained in the same manner as it is for privately-owned housing.
Last month, Governor Hochul signed legislation creating the New York City Public Housing Preservation Trust, a public benefit corporation, to help fund repair, rehabilitation, and modernization of 25,000 apartments under NYCHA control.
DEMANDS FULL REPORTS ON CONGESTING PRICING PLANS: Opposing a congestion pricing plan for New York City, U.S. Rep Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwestern Brooklyn), a member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, pressed U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on his strategy, and called for a thorough Environmental Impact Study and the full release of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) answers to the Federal Highway Administration’s 430 required technical questions for full transparency. Malliotakis, who has been outspoken against New York City’s Congestion Pricing Plan since her time in the New York State Assembly, has spearheaded several bipartisan efforts to delay and/or stop the city’s plan altogether.
Her endeavors include submitting amendments to the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill to ensure federal dollars aren’t used to implement the program until an economic impact analysis is completed and publicized, and a credit system is established for residents who already pay a toll to connect to the city’s center where congestion pricing is established.
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MISSING PERSON?: The NYPD is seeking the public’s help in locating a missing older adult who was last spotted leaving her residence at 3003 West 21st St. in Coney Island two weeks ago, on July 7. The missing person is identified as Helen Tooley, a 58-year-old Black female who was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and black sweat pants.
RIBBON-CUTTING FOR NEW BUILDING IN TREATMENT RESIDENCE: Acacia Network, a leading human services organization in New York City and one of the largest Hispanic-led nonprofits in the State, on Wednesday did the ceremonial ribbon-cutting on its newly renovated El Regreso Men’s Residential Facility. The newly renovated building, which is home to a residential addiction treatment program licensed by the NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), now features state-of-the-art facilities and program space, including an internal patio, as well as new equipment and furniture. The total cost of the project was $11.9 million, with funding provided by NYS OASAS.
Joining in the occasion were OASAS Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, and Assemblymember Maritza Davila; as well as CBO partners, community members, and program residents.
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