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What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, November 22, 2022

November 22, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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NYC RETIREES PRESIDENT ASKS CITY COUNCIL TO REFRAIN FROM AMENDING CODE: Late Tuesday afternoon, Marianne Pizzitola, president of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, while praising the Appellate Court-First Department’ decision, warned, “We need the City Council to not introduce any legislation or amend the existing Administrative Code as it relates to this, until a meeting with the retirees is conducted.” Pizzitola calls on Mayor Eric Adams and the unions to convene a meeting with retirees to discuss healthcare savings, of which she said already $325 million has been identified.

“Retirees have been heard by the courts and it is time for City Hall to hear and see us,” said Pizzitola. “Our time of service to this great City should not be ignored and our healthcare should not be scrutinized or watered down for someone else’s gain.”

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DAILY TOP BROOKLYN NEWS
News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

BIDDING FOR CONEY ISLAND’S ENTERTAINMENT HUB: Thor Equities, Coney Island business owner Joe Sitt’s real estate development firm, has partnered with three organizations in their bid for a “comprehensive casino, hotel, and entertainment proposal,” according to reports on Tuesday. Thor Equities, along with Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation, and Legends, are vying for three coveted new casino licenses from the state; and they pledge to employ local Coney Islanders, partner with local businesses, and create a job training program.

However, not all locals favor the plan or are even persuaded that the neighborhood can even support or would benefit from the casino, with longtime Coney Island resident and environmental activist Ida Sanoff telling the Brooklyn Paper on Tuesday that “all of this benefits the developers who don’t live in the community.”

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HUGE WIN FOR CITY RETIREES ON MUNICIPAL HEALTH PLAN: The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees won their case earlier today in the First Department NY Appellate Court, against the city’s plans to force the retirees to pay a percent of their premiums and to change to a privatized version of Medicare. “The court correctly determined that Administrative Code § 12-126 (b) (1) requires respondents to pay the entire cost, up to the statutory cap, of any health insurance plan a retiree selects,” according to the Appellate Court-First Department’s Judgement document, which pointed out that the city’s argument of exceeded cost was improperly raised in this appeal.

As the Adams administration and the Municipal Labor Committee pressured the City Council to change Administrative Code 12-126 so they can charge retirees who don’t opt into Medicare Advantage, a petition circulated on Change.org, with 8,101 signatures met toward a 10,000 goal, objecting to the change and warning of reduced benefits and unequal treatment of retirees.

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DINAPOLI: NEW YORK’S LABOR FORCE LAGS NATIONALLY: One day after Mayor Eric Adams announced that vacant civilian jobs would be cut by half as part of sweeping budget cuts, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report today showing that New York’s labor force decreased sharply during the pandemic and remains below pre-pandemic peak, while the while the rest of the nation increased by 5.1 percent. New York continued to lose workers in 2021 when the rest of the nation began to recover, and is still 400,000 workers below the state’s December 2019 peak.

Said DiNapoli, “Challenges may lie ahead that could negatively affect economic growth and state and local tax collections. Policymakers must give attention to policies that foster labor participation and encourage workforce development.”

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NUMBER OF ACTIVE GOVERNMENT DRONES ALARMS CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: A new report from the New York Civil Liberties Union has revealed there are 530 active drone registrations by 85 different New York government entities across the state, with the majority (327) of these drones operated by law enforcement agencies. The NYCLU, which acquired the information through a Freedom of Information Act request to the Federal Aviation Administration, found that many of the drones being deployed by police departments in the state are equipped with invasive surveillance technologies, such as biometric surveillance capabilities, object recognition, thermal imaging, autonomous flying, and even microphones sensitive enough to hear personal conversations, and with the capacity of being weaponized.

An interactive state map (convertible to a spreadsheet) of the drone presence per county revealed that Brooklyn (Kings County) has fewer drone registrations than do the other boroughs: 12 drones registered to the NYC Office of Emergency Management, and two drones registered to the Gerrittsen Beach Fire Department, just west of Jamaica Bay in southeastern part of the borough.

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ASSAILANTS FIRE GUNS IN PLAYGROUND, NO INJURIES REPORTED: The public is asked to help the NYPD track down individuals connected with an attempted assault two weeks ago at an East Flatbush playground within the 67th Precinct. On Monday, November 7, around 5p.m., three unidentified individuals displayed firearms and discharged them multiple times in the direction of a group of people inside the Kennedy King playground, even though no persons were shot.

Anyone with knowledge of this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS

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NYC BUDGET OFFICE IMPOSES HIRING FREEZE, ATTRITION OF VACANT POSITIONS: New York City agencies will be forced to sharply curtail hiring by eliminating roughly half of all vacant civilian positions, a dramatic belt-tightening move that threatens to further strain the delivery of city services, reports the Gothamist. The cuts will mean about 4,700 vacancies will not be filled, according to a letter that city agency directors received from Jacques Jiha, director of the Office of Management and Budget, who cited a budget shortfall of nearly $3 billion in fiscal year 2024 as the driving factor behind this decision.

However, City Comptroller warned that the budget cuts will endanger the city’s ability to function in critical areas. Acknowledging the need to save money, Lander nonetheless cautioned that “Today’s directive to agencies furthers our concerns about recruiting and retaining the staff needed to implement critical programs from traffic safety improvements to processing housing applications.”

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NEW LAW GREEN-LIGHTS COLLEGE ATHLETES’ ENDORSEMENT PAY: Collegiate student athletes in New York are now permitted to be paid for endorsements and athletic participation without risking the forfeiture of their scholarships or eligibility to compete in collegiate athletics, thanks to legislation that Governor Kathy Hochul signed yesterday. Specifically, this legislation prohibits a college or collegiate athletic conference – including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) – from upholding any rules preventing students from earning compensation as a result of the use of the student-athlete’s name, image, or likeness, from participating in collegiate athletics competition because of such compensation.

This legislation will now establish express law in New York allowing students to share in the economic benefits created by their athletic accomplishments, alongside their colleges and universities which may generate revenue through media, ticket sales, and merchandise, with athletic departments generating almost $19 billion in 2019. Among that revenue, over $2 billion of which came from ticket sales.

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13 NYC CANNABIS BUSINESSES LICENSED: Twenty-eight businesses across the state, including 13 in New York City, can start selling recreational marijuana after state regulators yesterday approved New York’s first retail licenses for cannabis dispensaries to meet a goal for the first sales by the end of the year, reports Spectrum News 1. The licenses to be awarded through the CAURD program are prioritized for business owners with a cannabis conviction or who have a family member with a previous conviction, with the 150 business owners and 25 nonprofit organizations granted a CAURD license receiving support from a $220 million Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund.

Statistics on the first set of licenses were not itemized by borough.

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BROOKLYN MUSEUM EXPANDS COLLECTIONS: The Brooklyn Museum has expanded its collections with more than 200 acquisitions, reflecting a curatorial objective to tell fresh stories from multiple perspectives. The Brooklyn Museum made more than two hundred acquisitions between December 2021 and October 2022, across a variety of categories and mediums, notably broadening its holdings to better reflect the diversity of the United States and to create space for underrepresented American voices such as Black, Asian American, Native American, and women artists.

Highlights include a rare example of nineteenth-century Lenape (Delaware) beadwork; contemporary works by Miles Greenberg, Oscar yi Hou, and Liza Lou; photographs by Laurie Simmons and Mahtab Hussain; an important Egyptian talatat relief block; and several additions to the Arts of the Islamic World, Asian, Contemporary, Decorative Arts, and Feminist Art collections  

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NEW FELLOWSHIP EMPHASIZES COMMUNITY-BASED PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: Brooklyn Communities Collaborative (BCC), a non-profit focused on strengthening health and wealth in Brooklyn and East New York Restoration LDC, an organization dedicated to sustainable living, have launched a new fellowship program: the 2022-2023 class of 15 Property Management and Stewardship of the Built Environment Fellows. The fellowship establishes a highly-trained group of community members from Central and East Brooklyn who are prepared to create stable, supportive neighborhoods that build health, wealth, economic democracy, and racial equity.

Participants in the Property Management and Stewardship of the Built Environment Fellowship, which is covering all costs, and providing an honorarium of $1,000 per fellow, will receive the New York State property management certification, with training to be provided by The New York Real Estate Institute.

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NEW PARTNERSHIP TRAINS PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATORS TO TEACH DIGITAL LITERACY: More than 1,000 current and future New York City public school teachers will be trained to deliver practical computer science and digital literacy skills to their students across the city, thanks to an ambitious, four-year, $14 million initiative that Schools Chancellor David C. Banks and City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez announced today. The Computing Integrated Teacher Education initiative — or CITE — which is believed to be the largest effort of its kind in the nation, is funded through a public-private partnership that includes New York City Public Schools, CUNY, Google, Robin Hood and Gotham Gives.

This partnership between a higher education institution and the K-12 public school system has already engaged 100 faculties across 12 CUNY colleges and will ultimately train more than 800 New York City teachers along with 200 future teachers.

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HEARING ON CON EDISON’S PROPOSED RATE HIKE: Calling Con Ed’s proposed rate hike “an unconscionable increase that would force working class New Yorkers to make impossible choices,” several Queens lawmakers in the State Assembly and City Council convened a “People’s Hearing” last night Monday, November 21, for community members to give their public comment. The utility has proposed to raise gas and electricity bills nearly $60 / month for the average NYC household, in order to raise $1.7 billion in gas and electric revenue, and to spend tens of millions on fossil fuel infrastructure in NYC, including a Liquified Natural Gas plant and pipeline expansions in Queens, but affecting electric customers in all boroughs.

The meeting organizers planned to address the perceived lack of transparency in the Public Service Commission’s scheduling of hearings — over two days last March — with the elected officials demanding the additional hearing so that the PSC can hear directly from constituents.

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Brooklyn Diocesan Bishop Robert J. Brennan hands out donated turkeys with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens during a distribution in Flatbush yesterday, Monday, November 21, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens

CATHOLIC CHARITIES LEADS TURKEY GIVEAWAY IN FLATBUSH: More than a thousand individuals and families in need received donated turkeys in time for Thanksgiving, during a giveaway at Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church in Flatbush on Monday. The Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan, Bishop of Brooklyn, joined Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, and several individual and donor organizations, among them, Al and Maria Catanese — who are continuing a seven-year tradition in honor of their parents; Ace Endico, EJ Electric, Empire BlueCross/BlueShield, the New York City District Council of Carpenters, the Steamfitters Union, and Univision Nueva York Contigo, which donated turkeys, chickens, and food assistance.

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens served 3,200 families during three turkey distributions this month, including two in Corona and Jamaica. Recipients in both boroughs also received a $50.00 food voucher to supplement their Thanksgiving meals.

Al Catanese and family stand next to the Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan, Bishop of Brooklyn to hand out donated turkeys with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens distribution in Flatbush yesterday, Monday, November 21, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens

 

Debbie Hampson, Senior Director Community Outreach Services with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens is joined by volunteers with the New York City District Council of Carpenters for the turkey distribution at Holy Innocents parish in Flatbush. 
Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens

 


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