What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, December 28, 2022

December 28, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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PUBLIC HEARING TO ADDRESS FIRE SAFETY IN PROPOSED LITHIUM BATTERY STORAGE SYSTEM

WILLIAMSBURG – A January 10 public hearing with Brooklyn Community Board 1 will aim to address fire prevention and safety in a Battery Storage System proposed for the residential loft building at 315 Berry Street, near South 3rd St. in Williamsburg. During the 6 p.m. virtual meeting (for which speakers must register online) representatives of the NYC Fire Department and the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice will answer questions on how lithium battery fires can be properly extinguished.

The 315 Berry St. apartment building has been in the news frequently as its tenants have voiced safety concerns over a precedent-setting and climate-conscious city proposal to allow an energy company to install lithium-ion batteries atop a residential building.

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NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS AWARDED $100K GRANT TO DEVELOP BILINGUAL CURRICULUM ON AIR QUALITY

GOWANUS – One of the Brooklyn organizations receiving a $100,000 Environmental Justice Community Air Monitoring Capacity Building grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc., which has a presence in Gowanus and Sunset Park. This project, to deliver a bilingual (English-Spanish) curriculum to educate and develop local resident leaders on air quality issues in partnership with an affiliate of the organization, will be based in and target the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Gowanus and Red Hook, which have some of the highest air pollution burdens in the borough.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc. maintains offices on 32nd St. in Sunset Park and on 621 DeGraw Street in Gowanus, the latter of which is also the primary office of NHN’s parent affiliate, Fifth Avenue Committee, who will serve as a partner and contractor on the project.

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POLICE SEEK SUBWAY PURSE THIEF

Police ask the public’s help in finding this man, pictured holding his victim’s purse, and described as having a medium complexion, being approximately 5’6″ tall, 150 lbs., with medium build and black short hair; last seen wearing a black jacket, black pants with white lines on the sides and brown boots. Photo: MTA via NYPD/Crimestoppers.

SUNSET PARK – Police are seeking a man caught on subway video exiting the turnstile with a purse he had just stolen from a woman in the 59th St. station of the N/R line in Sunset Park (within the 72nd Precinct) late Monday night, December 26. The man snatched the purse, reported to contain about $500 in cash and a credit card, from the bench seat where the 24-year-old female victim, on the southbound end of the platform, was awaiting a train around 11:10 p.m. that night.

No injuries were reported and the perpetrator fled on foot topside to parts unknown.

Police ask the public’s help in finding this man, pictured holding his victim’s purse, and described as having a medium complexion, being approximately 5’6″ tall, 150 lbs., with medium build and black short hair; last seen wearing a black jacket, black pants with white lines on the sides and brown boots. Photo: MTA via NYPD/Crimestoppers.

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NYPD: BEWARE RISK OF FAKE BARCODES ON GIFT CARDS

STATEWIDE – That gift card may be a fake, warn the NYPD and Brooklyn Community Board 11, which are alerting the public to check barcodes before purchasing these cards. Technology is partly responsible for this recent scam, in which individuals can print out their own fraudulent barcodes and place them over the real barcode on gift cards at local retailers. When an unsuspecting consumer purchases these tampered gift cards, the fake barcode is scanned and the money gets routed into the scammers’ account.

The NYPD’s Crime Prevention bureau advises New Yorkers guard themselves against this fraud by first inspecting the barcode to make sure it does not peel off, ensuring that the barcodes on the card and its packaging match, and by observing when the cashier scans the card — and canceling the transaction if there is no match.

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COMPTROLLER LANDER PRAISES NEW LAW ADDING FLEXIBILITY FOR CITY AND STATE PENSION FUNDS

CITYWIDE – Comptroller Brad Lander is praising a newly-signed law for which he advocated, that increases by ten percent the share that City and State pension funds can invest in private market asset classes. The legislation, whose sponsors were Assembly Member Peter J. Abbate, Jr. (D-49th District/Sunset Park to Bensonhurst) and State Senator Robert Jackson (D-northern Manhattan), makes changes to the “basket clause,” by providing additional flexibility for public pension funds in New York State — including the five New York City Retirement Systems.

The new law increases the share of their portfolios that pension funds can allocate to private markets investments (including infrastructure, real estate, private equity, opportunistic fixed income, hedge funds, venture capital and some foreign equities) from 25 percent to 35 percent.

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BOUNTY REWARDS INCREASE FOR REPORTING PANDEMIC-RELATED FRAUD

STATEWIDE – A new set of laws cracks down on pandemic-related fraud and increases the financial rewards for reporting it. Governor Kathy Hochul on December 28 signed a legislative package that increases rewards for reporting fraud and increasing penalties for fraud occurring during state emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. Whistleblowers are now eligible to receive additional money if the fraud was perpetrated during a declared state of emergency, imposes monetary penalties on any partnership, corporation, company, trust or association, or individual who commits such fraud, and empowers the state Attorney General to take action for civil penalties against these entities.

Up to this point, private citizens could file civil lawsuits on behalf of the government to help recover defrauded money and may be rewarded a percentage of the money recovered. New Yorkers have already lost over $80 million to pandemic-related fraud.

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NEW LAWS SET COURSE FOR MORE MUNICIPAL ‘COMPLETE STREET’ DESIGNS

STATEWIDE – Pedestrians, bikers and transit riders across New York State will receive stronger support from a legislative package that Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law on Wednesday, December 28. These new laws will increase Department of Transportation support for municipal “Complete Streets” projects, which incorporate a holistic approach to street design to consider the safe, convenient access and mobility of roadway users of all ages and abilities.

This bill increases the state’s share of funding for municipalities that incorporate “Complete Street” features, and will require regional transportation boards to include voting seats for transit-dependent individuals.

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FAMILIES REPORT BEING HAPPY WITH ACS SERVICES

CITYWIDE – About 94 percent of families to whom the NYC Administration for Children’s Services provides support reported being happy with their experience, according to key findings from its survey that the agency released on Wednesday, December 28. The findings, from the annual ACS Prevention Family Experience Survey, showed that its participants believed that the services — designed to help families overcome challenges that ultimately help keep their children safely at home and in their communities — have helped them achieve their goals, and that they would recommend the services to a friend or family member.

Survey participants were asked also to suggest ways that ACS might improve prevention services, with the most frequently selected suggestions being the need to provide families with more information about services; explaining the length of services, providing more basic necessities and giving families more voice and choice in the services they receive.

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POLICE INVESTIGATE DEADLY FIRE IN CROWN HEIGHTS

CROWN HEIGHTS – While responding to a fire at a Crown Heights townhouse, first responders discovered an unresponsive and unconscious 54-year-old woman inside, who was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased. The authorities are now attempting to determine both the cause of the fire and the cause of death, and the investigation remains ongoing.

The identity of the deceased is pending proper family notification.

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HISTORIC BLACK SECRET SOCIETY FIGHTS TO SAVE HEADQUARTERS

BED-STUY – A historical society of Black women with roots stretching back to before the Civil War is fighting to save its Bed-Stuy headquarters from being sold, reports the New York Times. The United Order of the Tents, whose mission is to “care for the aged, respectfully bury the dead and promote sisterhood,” faces a tax battle to keep the crumbling mansion as a result of years of dwindling membership depleting its coffers, although its leaders are hopeful thanks to a recent surge of interest in joining among young women with a passion for history.

The Order’s crowdfunding campaign to help with its fight to keep and maintain the headquarters, which contains generations of historical memorabilia, can be found on its website.

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FLATBUSH APARTMENT ROBBED IN HOME INVASION

FLATBUSH – The NYPD is looking for three burglars who are on the run after committing a violent home invasion on the afternoon of December 22. The thieves burst into a Flatbush apartment as a young woman was exiting, demanding money and punching another occupant in the face before fleeing with nearly $6000 in cash, jewelry and marijuana.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) or to log onto the Crime Stoppers website or to Tweet @NYPDTips.

If you recognize any of these men, don’t hesitate to reach out to police with any information you can share. All tips are strictly confidential.
If you recognize any of these men, don’t hesitate to reach out to police with any information you can share. All tips are strictly confidential.
If you recognize any of these men, don’t hesitate to reach out to police with any information you can share. All tips are strictly confidential.

 

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GOLDMAN CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF SANTOS’ FINANCES

BENSONHURST – Incoming U.S. Rep. Daniel Goldman, who will be taking over the NY-10 seat from Jerry Nadler following a redistricting, has issued a statement calling for an investigation of future colleague Republican George Santos’ finances, after a New York Times report revealed numerous serious discrepancies in his alleged history. “Given Santos’s pattern of lies and deception, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding the Devolder Organization, the federal election and law enforcement authorities must investigate whether the Devolder Organization was created simply as a pass-through entity through which Santos funneled illegal campaign contributions,” wrote Goldman in a press release, referring to a charitable organization created by Santos around which funding questions are swirling.

The debate surrounding Santos’ resume continues, while Santos has admitted to “embellishing,” GOP representatives mostly stay silent on the issue.

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ADAMS STRIKES BACK AT PRESS OVER STORM DISAPPEARANCE CRITICISM

CIVIC CENTER – Following days of questioning regarding his disappearance during the holiday storm that saw temperatures plummet to dangerous lows and caused 34 deaths statewide, Mayor Adams lashed out at reporters during a press conference, saying that a two-day trip to the Virgin Islands had been necessary to balance the stresses of his mayoral duties and the difficulty of spending a second Christmas without his mother, who passed away in 2021. “After 365 days of commitment to this city, I decided to take two days to reflect on mommy [sic], and to watch how you responded to my two days out of this city was really alarming. I deserve a good work-life balance like you do,” Adams told the media.

The brouhaha comes as the mayor’s first year in office comes to a close, having generated mixed reactions from the media and the public for several controversial new policies.

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LUXURY BUILDING RESIDENTS ON RENT STRIKE

GREENPOINT – Eighty-seven residents of a tony apartment building in Greenpoint, some of them living in affordable housing units, have begun a rent strike this month as they struggle with ongoing heating, hot water and gas outages, even as temperatures are well-below zero, reports Gothamist. The residents fear that years of unaddressed gas leak issues may have damaged their health, and despite management claiming to have solved the problem, the units may still be unsafe to live in.

The building benefits from low taxes despite its luxury trappings and high rents thanks to its participation in the controversial 421-A program, which expired earlier this year but is expected to be brought back by Gov. Hochul in the next legislative session.

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NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT TO PROTECT VICTIMS OF CERTAIN PORN DISTRIBUTION CRIMES

STATEWIDE – Victims and survivors of “revenge porn” now have recourse, thanks to a legislative package that has taken effect following Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature last summer. The package’s three laws expand financial assistance and protections for victims and survivors of such crimes, who have not been physically injured but who may have become victim to identity and/or reputation theft through the unlawful dissemination or publication of an intimate image, commonly referred to as “revenge porn,” and first- and second-degree reckless endangerment.

Claimants may now seek compensation from the Office of Victim Services for certain crime-related costs. Moreover, victims and survivors of interpersonal violence may now use additional documents and information to prove identity theft before debt collection can occur.

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MAYOR ADAMS CREATES OFFICES OF SPORTS, NON-PROFIT SERVICES

CITYWIDE – New York City Mayor Eric Adams has appointed Jasmine Ray as director of the newly created Mayor’s Office of Sports, Wellness, and Recreation and Karen Ford as executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Nonprofit Services. As the Mayor’s Office of Sports, Wellness, and Recreation director, Ray will oversee the creation and implementation of sports and wellness initiatives to build a healthier and more active city for all New Yorkers. Ford will be in charge of the Office of Nonprofit Services engagement, and coordinating activities to advance the recommendations of the Joint Task Force to Get Nonprofits Paid on Time.

“The new Mayor’s Office of Nonprofit Services is a crucial step towards the Adams administration’s long-term vision for supporting nonprofits through cross-sector collaboration, increased coordination across city agencies, and regular communication with the sector,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright.

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MAYOR’S NEW RECREATION DIRECTOR BLENDS NON-PROFIT WORK WITH ATHLETICS AND MUSIC

SUNSET PARK – Jasmine Ray, the director of the Mayor’s newly-created Office of Sports, Wellness, and Recreation, founded the Wallball World LLC and the U.S. Wallball Association Inc., transforming her grief over the tragic 2009 death of her little brother, Jonathan Robert Ray, into an organization that motivates young people in underserved communities to stay in school, embrace healthy lifestyles and pursue alternatives to drug use and violence. She turned what was once a “street sport” into an internationally-recognized athletic program.

The former executive director of Cornerstone Daycare in Brooklyn, and an executive board member of the Black and Minority Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Ray is also a talented singer and member of MVP (Most Valuable Playas), a hip-hop group signed to Casablanca/Universal Records that scored hits in Europe in 2005 and 2006. A certified fourth-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate, Ray has taught martial arts in Sunset Park, Brooklyn for over 15 years.

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DANGLER MANSION’S DESTRUCTION AMONG TOP MAJOR REAL ESTATE STORIES OF 2022

BED-STUY – The demolition of the Dangler Mansion made the top list of popular stories for 2022 on Brownstoner.com. The French Gothic building at 441 Willoughby Avenue, which had served as a community center, was demolished over the summer after the Landmarks Preservation failed to vote on designating the 1880s building as a city landmark; notwithstanding an outpouring of support from elected officials, preservationists, community members and renowned director Edward Norton, who had filmed part of his 2019 film “Motherless Brooklyn” at the Dangler House.

A breakdown of communication between the Department of Buildings, the Mayor’s Office and the Landmarks Preservation Commission was blamed in part for the demolition; however, the only parties testifying against landmarking the Dangler Mansion were the owners at the time, — a Masonic chapter facing bankruptcy — the developer and legal counsel representing them.

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LANDMARKED DUFFIELD STREET HOUSES SOLD FOR $10 MILLION

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Landmarked houses immediately adjacent to the Brooklyn Oratory Church of St. Boniface were quietly and inconspicuously sold for $10 million right before Christmas to a developer, Brownstoner reported on December 24. According to that article, the buyers of The Duffield Street Houses, as the buildings are known, were not identified in the article, but they bring experience in historic sites. Reportedly, their plan is to retain the historic structures and create “housing with an affordable component on the property.”

There have been other situations around the city in which new construction has arisen around landmarked buildings, which cannot be demolished. The Dangler Mansion, which never received Landmarks designation, was demolished last summer.

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BROOKLYN MERCHANTS HELP SET RECORD IN GIFT OUTREACH

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS/CLINTON HILL – Books Are Magic on Montague St. and Greenlight Bookstore on Fulton St. were among two local merchants and corporations that helped make the holidays brighter for children in need, as part of the Mayor’s “Secret Snowflake” initiative. Mayor Adams announced on Tuesday that NYC Service helped facilitate the donation of more than 5,500 individualized gifts given to vulnerable youth in transitional housing, foster care, shelters, family justice centers, and Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers, in an outreach conducted through the Secret Snowflake in-kind donation initiative — serving the highest number of children in the program’s decades-long history.

The program also engaged the most private sector businesses to date, with 32 businesses; Macy’s engaged a record number of 3,500 employees as volunteers.

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ONE BILLION PEOPLE RODE MTA SUBWAY DURING 2022, OMNY SYSTEM ALSO SAW USER GROWTH

CITYWIDE – Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Subway has provided one billion trips in 2022 and was able to identify the billionth commuter as being a Bronx resident commuting in the Yankee Stadium station, Governor Kathy Hochul said on Tuesday, December 27. The ridership data was tracked through the MTA’s OMNY fare-payment system, which itself experienced usage growth in 2022 with more than 425 million taps. This increase in subway rider market share for OMNY follows the introduction of the “Lucky 13” fare-capping program, the rollout of OMNY for the MTA’s Reduced-Fare customers and the continued expansion of OMNY cards in retail locations.

The milestone marks the first time the New York City Subway has carried one billion customers in a calendar year since 2019.

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FREELANCER BILL KILLED BY GOVERNOR 

ALBANY – A bill that aimed to make it easier for freelance workers to retrieve unpaid wages from their employers has been vetoed by Gov. Hochul, according to the bill’s sponsor Brooklyn State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who wrote on Twitter that he is “very disappointed,” but vowed to keep fighting for the rights of freelancers. In her veto, Hochul stated that she believed the enforcement of the bill would require the Department of Labor to establish a claims process for recovering lost wages that would bypass the courts and the arbitration system, and that would be too costly for the state.

Gounardes also noted that the system the bill called for is already the law in NYC, and has helped freelancers recover millions in unpaid earnings.

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MULCHFEST: PARKS DEPT ASKS FOR XMAS TREES

CITYWIDE – The NYC Parks Department, along with the Department of Sanitation, is offering a free bag of mulch to anyone who brings a Christmas tree to their annual Mulchfest Chipping Weekend event, which aims to collect holiday evergreens to turn into mulch for the city’s parks and street trees. Chipping Weekend will be on Jan. 7 and 8 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – trees can be dropped off at any other time until then too, but you won’t get the nifty bag of mulch.

Brooklyn Chipping Weekend locations include Brooklyn Bridge Park, Cobble Hill Park, Fort Greene Park, Prospect Park, Marine Park, Domino and McCarren parks in Williamsburg, Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick and Owl’s Head Park in Bay Ridge; more information about the program can be found on the Parks Department website.

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MAN WANTED FOR ANTI-HISPANIC GRAFFITI

If you recognize this man, please don’t hesitate to reach out to police with any information you can share. All tips are confidential.

BED-STUY – The NYPD is searching for a man suspected of vandalizing the sidewalk outside a Bed-Stuy apartment building with anti-Hispanic graffiti just after midnight on Tuesday, December 20. The Hate Crimes task force is investigating the event, according to police.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) or to log onto the Crime Stoppers website or to Tweet @NYPDTips.

 

 

 

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BQE WESTBOUND LANE CLOSED ON 28TH

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – The NYC DOT has announced that the ongoing nighttime maintenance work on the BQE underneath the Heights Promenade has been extended. As a result, one lane will be closed in the Staten Island-bound direction overnight on December 28, from midnight until 5 a.m.

The debate around the ultimate fate of the BQE has caused consternation in Brooklyn Heights as the DOT has begun to undertake maintenance repairs, most recently with the release of the updated plans for refreshing the BQE, unveiled last week to a mixed response from the neighborhood.

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SANTOS ADMITS TO LYING ABOUT JOB, EDUCATION

LONG ISLAND – Incoming U.S. Rep. George Santos, accused last week of falsifying his background in a New York Times investigation that sparked outrage among politicians from all across the political spectrum, has admitted to the Times to “embellishing” many key details in his past. Claims the congress member-elect has acknowledged as false or misleading include graduating from Baruch, working for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, the deaths of four co-workers in the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2013, being a landlord of 13 properties, and being Jewish (Santos clarified in a New York Post interview that he is, in his own words, “Jew-ish,” stating that his maternal grandmother converted from Judaism to Catholicism.)

Doubts remain about numerous other claims Santos has made, such as being the grandson of Holocaust refugees; about a potential criminal past in Brazil, which he has denied; and about concerning anomalies in his financial disclosure statements.

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CITY TO HOLD ATLANTIC MIXED-USE PLAN MEETING 

CROWN HEIGHTS – The Department of City Planning is inviting interested residents to join the first community meeting regarding the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan, a community-led planning process for an inclusive, mixed-use stretch of Atlantic Avenue and neighboring blocks in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. The plan would support a mix of new and affordable housing with new businesses and services, as well as walkable streets and “investments in neighborhood improvements,” according to the city.

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 17 from 6 – 8 p.m. on Zoom, with registration online.

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BROOKLYN MAN PULLS GUN IN S.I. DISPUTE

BED-STUY – A Brooklyn man was arrested in Staten Island on Monday afternoon after allegedly pulling out a gun during a heated dispute and pointing it at three people. The man, Zyair Earps of Bedford-Stuyvesant, now faces multiple charges, including criminal possession of a loaded firearm, reckless endangerment, menacing and harassment, according to SI Live.

Gun crime and shootings are down citywide from peaks during the pandemic, as well as in Brooklyn.

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FREE KIDS WEEK EVENTS AT BROOKLYN PARKS 

CITYWIDE – The Parks Department will be holding a series of free events for children of all ages over the winter break period at parks all around the city. Brooklyn highlights include an owl pellet discovery session at Owl’s Head Park in Bay Ridge on December 27, a build-a-birdfeeder class at Fort Greene Park on December 28, a sensory perception hike in Prospect Park on December 29, and a campfire storytime at Fort Greene Park on December 30.

More information about Kids Week activities and times can be found on the Parks Department website.


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