Good Morning, Brooklyn: Friday, September 2, 2022
MAJOR DECENTRALIZING SHAKEUP AT DEPT. OF EDUCATION: About 1,000 Department of Education staff members and $100,000,000 in associated resources will be reassigned from the Department’s Central Division and Borough-Citywide Offices to more closely support schools where they are, and with access to the financial resources, Schools Chancellor David C. Banks announced on Friday. They are being re-assigned as a result of Chancellor Banks’ focus on putting Department of Education directly in support of students and schools.
This includes deploying over 100 social workers to district offices to support students and families – with a specific focus on high-need communities like students in temporary housing.
COBBLE HILL DEVELOPMENT COULD FACE FORECLOSURE BEFORE IT IS BUILT: The threat of foreclosure is getting in the way of Fortis Property Group’s development plans for the former site of Long Island College Hospital, reports the Real Deal. The lender, Madison Realty Capital, has initiated a UCC foreclosure sale for the equity interests on development sites at 350 Hicks Street and 91-95 Pacific Street, the location of two future condo buildings —1 River Park, on Hicks St., and 2 River Park, on Pacific St., totaling 150 units. The cause of the default was still unclear as of press time on Friday.
The sale is set for Sept. 29, although the Real Deal indicated the possibility of Madison and Fortis working to restructure the debt or to agree on an extension.
ACCOUNTABILITY: PRESSURE MOUNTING FOR CREDIT CARD DATA ON GUN SALES: New York State Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Rob Bonta today called on three of the largest credit card companies in the nation to do their part to help end illegal gun trafficking and tackle gun violence. Their action follows similar calls by several New York City elected officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, City Comptroller Brad Lander, state senators, and the shareholders of three major New York pension funds — the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, the Teachers’ Retirement System and the Board of Education Retirement System.
Up to now, the International Organization for Standardization’s Registration and Maintenance Management Group (RMMG), whose members represent senior industry experts, including representatives from major credit card companies, have repeated denied applications from Amalgamated Bank asking a new category code for standalone gun and ammunition retail stores,
NEW PUBLIC ONLINE WEBSITE TOOL REPORTS STREET-LEVEL FLOODING IN REAL TIME: Researchers from Brooklyn universities and colleagues have teamed up with FloodNet, https://www.floodnet.nyc/, a government and community consortium, to develop a first-ever free online tool that will help communities and government agencies to know where, when, and how quickly flood waters are rising. The research team includes Brooklyn College’s Brett Branco, who is also the executive director of the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay; Ricardo Toledo-Crow of CUNY’s Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice, and the NYC Office of Technology & Innovation. It was developed by a team of researchers including Branco, as well as Andrea Silverman, Charlie Mydlarz, Tega Brain, and Elizabeth Hénaff of NYU Tandon.
Launched today—the one-year anniversary of the devastating and deadly flooding from Hurricane Ida—the new mobile-ready web dashboard presents real-time data collected by the expanding FloodNet system of low-cost, open-source sensors in flood-prone areas across the city
REPORTS SHOW INCREASE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT INCIDENTS IN MILITARY: Following the release of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, chair of the , declared, “This data shows a military in a crisis. We are betraying the trust of service members and their families and failing the most heroic among us.”
The survey showed that 8.4 percent of active duty women and 1.5 percent of active duty men reported at least one unwanted sexual contact in the prior year, amounting to an estimated 35,900 total active duty service members – a disturbing rise from previous years.
CITY PAID OUT MORE THAN $67K IN POLICE MISCONDUCT LAWSUITS: Following a report last month that revealed New York City paid out $67,663,389 million in lawsuits alleging police misconduct from January 1 to July 26, 2022, the Legal Aid Society has released a list of New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers who garnered the highest lawsuit payouts and who were defendants in the most civil rights lawsuits alleging police misconduct, during the same time period. This amount surpassed the $62,093,491 paid out on lawsuit settlements and verdicts in all of 2020, but doesn’t account for matters that were settled with the Office of the New York City Comptroller prior to formal litigation, which brought the total payouts for claims of NYPD misconduct to $206.7 million in Fiscal Year 2021
At this rate, the City could potentially payout over $115 million in lawsuits alleging police misconduct for calendar year 2022, — with many of the officers still on active duty, with gun and badge.
PUBLIC ADVOCATE REPORTS DEPLORABLE, UNSAFE LIVING CONDITIONS AT NYCHA HOUSING: Today, after inspecting New York City Housing Authority developments in all five boroughs earlier this year, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams has released a new report, How the Other Half Lives in Public Housing, based on his meetings with dozens of tenants paying rent for uninhabitable homes, highlighting the deplorable and often dangerous conditions at NYCHA and calling for several key changes in the nation’s largest public housing system. Across the city, elevator outages plagued thousands of residents; water damage destroyed walls, ceilings, and floors; and heat and hot water disappeared in colder months. The report makes several recommendations including that NYCHA should hire a proportional number of live-in supers to make repairs as needed; and that complaints to 311 must immediately trigger a city inspection process for NYCHA apartments and buildings
Recalling the 1890 book of the same name by Jacob Riis which took readers inside the city’s tenements, this report shines a harsh spotlight on the conditions faced by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.
WEST INDIAN DAY PARADE DAY APPROACHES: Various street closings along and near Eastern Parkway will be in effect starting Sunday night, September 4, in preparation for the West Indian Day, J’Ouvert and related festivities. J’Ouvert, an opening celebration, begins at 6 a.m. on Labor Day, Monday, September 5, in front of Grand Army Plaza; and the main parade itself kicks off from the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Ralph Avenue at 11 a.m., heading westbound to Grand Army Plaza before wrapping up at 6 p.m.
Bringing weapons, backpacks or large bags of any kind will be prohibited.
WORKING TO RETURN UNCLAIMED FUNDS TO NEW YORKERS: Staff from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office will attend community events this month to help residents search for lost and forgotten money, also known as unclaimed funds. DiNapoli oversees more than 46 million unclaimed funds accounts valued at $17.5 billion, mostly from utility deposits that aren’t refunded, old bank accounts, uncashed checks, insurance claims, stocks and other sources that have been dormant for years, and even decades. Residents who cannot make it to the events can search for and claim their money by using the online claiming system https://ouf.osc.state.ny.us/ouf/?wicket-crypt=HVgXj6zrSfA&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery&wicket-crypt=52rLHcf38xg
DiNapoli reports that in Kings County, more than 1,351,164 cases exist, with $888,161,574 in unclaimed funds.
PUBLIC COMMENT INVITED ON NEVINS ST. SITE IN GOWANUS: The Department of Environmental Conservation is inviting public comment about a draft work plan to investigate contamination at the 318 Nevins Street site in Gowanus, (#C224350 in Brooklyn/Kings County) within New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program: One can access the online public comment via https://www.dec.ny.gov/data/der/factsheet/c224350riwp.pdf through September 23.
The site is between Union and President streets. Map data © June 2022 Google
MORE PEOPLE ARE RELYING ON FOOD PANTRIES, SAYS REPORT: City Harvest, New York City’s first and largest food rescue organization, launched Hunger Action Month as alarming new data reveals that monthly visits to New York City food pantries and soup kitchens are up 69 percent compared to 2019 and rising, and that NYC food pantries and soup kitchens are now seeing 14 percent more monthly visitors than they did in January 2022, according to a City Harvest analysis of FeedNYC data. Responding to the high level of need, City Harvest will rescue and deliver at least 75 million pounds of food this year, sustaining food rescue and delivery operations nearly 20 percent above pre-pandemic levels.
Hunger Action Month, which aims to raise awareness of food insecurity and invites the public to take action to feed those in need, this year coincides with City Harvest’s 40th year serving New York City, founded in 1982.
GERSTEN TAKES ON INTERIM DIRECTORSHIP AT BAC: Jilian Cahan Gersten, who has served as Development & External Affairs Director at Brooklyn Arts Council for five years, has stepped into the role of Interim Executive Director, effective yesterday, September 1. A life-long New Yorker, Park Slope resident and dedicated culture worker, Ms. Gersten brings prior experience in various programming and fundraising roles at LUMBERYARD Contemporary Performing Arts, BRIC, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, The After-School Corporation (now ExpandED Schools), Theatre for a New Audience, The New Victory Theater, and Ballet Tech.
Ms. Gersten will work closely with the Board of Directors to lead the organization during this period of transition while the search is underway for BAC’s next Executive Director, conducted by Arts Consulting Group.
FATAL COLLISION IN FULTON LANDING UNDER INVESTIGATION: A fatal vehicle collision that took place on August 22 near Fulton Ferry Landing is under investigation by the NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad. According to police reports, a 60-year-old male driving a 2020 Cadillac ran a steady red light at the intersection of Old Fulton Street and Furman Street, within the 84th Precinct. The westbound driver continued at a high speed before striking multiple raised pedestrian safety bollards at the intersection of Furman Street, and causing head trauma to his 76-year-old rear-seat passenger who was treated at a nearby hospital for severe head trauma but later died.
The woman was later identified as Soraya Hassan, of Bensonhurst.
MONKEYPOX 2ND DOSES BECOMING AVAILABLE: New York City will begin making second doses of the monkeypox vaccine available by appointment only. The City will also begin welcoming walk-ins for first doses at city-run sites, though making an appointment in advance is still recommended, with 8,000 public appointments being made available for reservation on Friday, September 2, starting at 4 p.m.
People who received their first dose at least 10 weeks earlier will be notified by email or text that they are eligible for their second doses so that they can make appointments online or by phone. Second doses will be available only after 10 weeks past one’s first dose.
LABOR DEPT AWARDS DOMESTIC WORKER $270K IN UNPAID WAGES: A domestic worker employed for an elderly person in Gravesend has received $271,527 in unpaid back wages, following an investigation by the state Department of Labor, representing one of the largest recoveries in the history of NYSDOL for a single worker. The Division of Labor Standards determined that the employee, whom Habib Tawil and Charles Tawil had hired to do domestic work and be a companion for their mother at 372 Avenue U (which involved bathing, changing, and feeding the mother), was getting paid only $260 per week for working 115 hours per week from 2015 to 2018.
The victim, who was released from duties when the elderly mother died, detailed her experience, saying that she often went months without pay. “In the end, when the years passed, they no longer brought food, I had to look after her alone and I was often going hungry.”
METROPLUS HEALTH INSURANCE ENROLLMENT INCREASED DURING PANDEMIC: Low-cost and no-cost health insurance coverage is available through a variety of plans to eligible low-income New Yorkers through MetroPlus, a subsidiary of NYC Health + Hospitals. Between February 2020 and June 2022, MetroPlus enrollment reached a record high of 670,915 members, an increase of 159,284 (31 percent), according to a report released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The amount of MetroPlus spending at H+H facilities has also increased but not yet reached H+H’s target of 45 percent.
DiNapoli’s report attributed increased MetroPlus enrollment to conditions and policy changes spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The factors that led to this increase, including continuous enrollment, may wind down as the pandemic’s designation as a federal public health emergency expires.
DINAPOLI: BUILDINGS DEPT. NEEDS TO CONDUCT BETTER OVERSIGHT: The New York City Department of Buildings is not doing enough to protect construction workers on building sites, reports an audit that New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has released. The report found that DOB’s monitoring of construction sites was inadequate and did not ensure contractors and building owners followed the Building Code’s safety requirements.
Auditors visited 43 construction sites in all five boroughs, of which 18 had active work in progress at the time, finding 77 safety issues at 16 of the 18, including no site safety manager, missing or incomplete safety logs and inspection records, and no proof that workers were given required safety training.
STORMWATER INITIATIVES TO PREPARE FOR FUTURE EXTREME RAINFALL: Marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ida, Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) used the occasion to announce a suite of stormwater infrastructure initiatives aimed at making the city more resilient to extreme rainfall in the future. The city is accelerating plans for a multi-layered system of adaptive infrastructure that will make New York City more resilient to Ida-level rainstorms, and an implementation plan to guide this long-term effort is underway. An example is the Department of Design and Construction’s work in Gowanus, to complete — by November — a $39 million storm sewer project that will lead to cleaner water in the canal and reduce flooding in that area.
In Southern Brooklyn, the city completed a $166 million project that included the construction of 6.5 miles of new sewers, that will help create additional capacity in the drainage system to reduce flooding and cut sewer overflows into Fresh Creek by 189 million gallons annually.
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