What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, November 23, 2022
ASSAILANTS STEALING iPHONES ON SOUTHBOUND G TRAINS: The NYPD is asking the public to identify assailants who robbed commuters on the Lafayette Avenue G line, near Fort Greene and within the 88th Precinct, on two consecutive Mondays this month. During the first incident, on November 14 around 8 p.m., three males approached a 42-year-old woman aboard a southbound G train and forcibly grabbed her iPhone, valued at $1,000, from her hand. A week later, around 9:10 p.m. three unidentified men believed to be the same group stole an iPhone valued at $299 from a 60-year-old man, also aboard a southbound G train near the Lafayette/Fulton St. Station.
The unidentified males involved in this larceny pattern are described as having dark complexions and are approximately 16 to 18 years of age. Call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
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.”
‘PEOPLE’S HEARING’ PROTESTS CON ED RATE HIKE TO EXPAND FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE: The “People’s Hearing” on Monday night brought together more than 50 residents and elected officials of northern Brooklyn and Queens, including State Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (AD-50/ Greenpoint, Williamsburg Clinton Hill, Ft. Greene) to give their public comment in the ongoing Con Edison rate case. The meeting was convened to protest the electric company’s proposal to increase the average household’s utility bill by nearly $60 / month in order to increase their return on equity to 10 percent, spend tens of millions on fossil fuel infrastructure, including $70.4 million to extend the life of the Astoria Liquified Natural Gas (“LNG”) Plant, and $47.9 million for the Queens Transmission Pipeline expansion, that the community believes are unsafe operations.
During the meeting, 37 public comments were given, calling on Governor Hochul and the PSC to deny the rate increase – bringing the total number of comments collected by Assemblymember Zohran K. Mamdani’s (AD-36/Queens) office to more than 500.
APPELLATE COURT: CITY PUSHED IGNORED LAW WHEN PUSHING THROUGH BUDGET CUTS: New York State Appellate Court-First Department ruled yesterday that the city administration acted outside of its authority and responsibility in an effort to push through cuts to education funding, in the lawsuit in Tamara Tucker vs. The City of New York, originally filed in July. Tucker, a public school parent, sued to prevent the Department of Education from making huge budget cuts to schools based on an incorrect procedure –City Council’s approving the education budget before the Panel on Educational Policy had a chance to hear from the public and to vote on it.
While the Appellate Court agreed that the procedure followed ran contrary to state law, and that the practice of the Chancellor in repeatedly issuing “Emergency Declarations” each year to short circuit the legal process was invalid, the court reinstated the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, and instructed the city to provide for the school budget “moving forward.”
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 showing that New York’s labor force decreased sharply during the pandemic and remains below pre-pandemic peak, 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.”
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 is 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 in to 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.
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’s 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 health care 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 health care should not be scrutinized or watered down for someone else’s gain.”
CUNY RECEIVES GRANTS TO DRAW BACK PANDEMIC-PAUSED STUDENTS: The City University of New York has received grants to support 11 projects aimed at drawing young people back to school, many who paused college or deferred higher education during the pandemic. Bold Solutions to Re-engage, a partnership between the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, the Heckscher Foundation for Children and the Ichigo Foundation, has awarded more than $2 million in grants to support these, with two CUNY schools in Brooklyn among them: Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach, and Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights.
Kingsborough’s project implements a dedicated “re-enrollment coach,” who will review transcripts of students who have put college on hold and create personalized programs to help them return, and will offer a free one-credit course focused on career exploration, will be offered as an incentive to re-enroll. Medgar Evers College’s project aims to recruit students through a semester-long paid internship program before supporting them in the enrollment process.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: CRYPTOCURRENCIES NOT SECURE ENOUGH FOR RETIREMENT SAVING: New York Attorney General Letitia James has urged congressional leaders to adopt legislation that would prohibit investing retirement funds in digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies, digital coins, and digital tokens. She is acting after a major financial institution offered Bitcoin as an investment option in its 401(k) plans, and amid concerns that other financial institutions are expected to follow suit.
Congress, however, seems to be leaning in the reverse direction, with two bills already proposed that would allow crypto investments in retirement plans and prevent regulators from restricting access to these investments in such plans.
SCOTUS NODS TO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE’S REQUEST FOR TRUMP TAX RETURNS: The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for a congressional committee to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, after a three-year legal fight, according to several news reports on Tuesday afternoon, November 22. The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee had asked for six years of tax returns, covering 2015 to 2020, for Trump and some of his businesses.
The Supreme Court’s order Tuesday clears all legal obstacles for the handover of these documents, after lower courts had agreed with the Biden administration, which said federal law clearly gives the committee the right to examine any taxpayer’s return, including the president’s.
BROOKLYN NETS MARKS FIRST DECADE IN BROOKLYN WITH MURAL PROJECT: The Brooklyn Nets are bringing their 10 Years in Brooklyn celebration to life through various community programs this season, having recently worked with Thrive Collective, fashion designer Phillip Lim and his team at House of Slay to unveil a public mural at John Jay Pershing Middle School (J.H.S 220) in Brooklyn titled, “Be Your Own Superhero.” Artist Peach Tao collaborated with J.H.S. 220 students participating in CPC Beacon School program to develop the overall concept and bring to life their vision of what being a superhero meant to them and how to make the world more beautiful.
The mural, the first in a series that the Nets have pledged, was unveiled ahead of the Nets’ annual AAPI Heritage Night game on Monday, Nov. 28 at Barclays Center where the team will celebrate the culture and contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, with students from J.H.S. 220 present.
IN MEMORIAM: DR. MITCHELL ROSENTHAL, 87, FOUNDER OF PHOENIX HOUSE: Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal, who in 1967 founded Phoenix House, arguably the largest private, nonprofit therapeutic drug-treatment program in the United States, died on November 14 at age 87, reports New York Times obituary writer Sam Roberts. Dr. Rosenthal, born 1935 in Brooklyn, was a psychiatrist who “popularized a regimen of abstinence and group therapy in a communal residential setting where people could recover from drug and alcohol addiction,” Originally on the Upper West Side, Phoenix House expanded into a network of treatment centers, prison-based programs and even high schools.
Dr. Rosenthal also bolstered then-First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign during the 1980s.
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