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What’s News, Breaking: Friday, December 30, 2022

December 30, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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NORWEGIAN CHRISTIAN HOME’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HONORED AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR

Anthony Restaino, executive director of the Norwegian Christian Home in Bensonhurst. Photo: Norwegian Christian Home.

BENSONHURST – Anthony Restaino, Executive Director of the Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center, has been recognized by the American College Of Health Care Administrators with the Administrator of the Year Award. Mr. Restaino has led the Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center amid the challenges of the pandemic in the healthcare industry.

The Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center (1250 67th Street, between Borough Park and Bensonhurst) has been serving the Brooklyn community since 1903 and provides several levels of skilled nursing.

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VISITATION ACADEMY STUDENTS PUBLISH ‘TABLET JR.’ EDITION ON HUMANITARIAN OUTREACH

BAY RIDGE – Middle school students at Visitation Catholic Academy in Bay Ridge recently partnered with DeSales Media and the Catholic Telemedia Network to publish the current edition of Tablet Jr. newspaper, a popular insert in The Tablet diocesan newspaper. Titled “Options for the Poor and Vulnerable,” this special edition features news articles by seventh and eighth-grade students regarding local and global humanitarian efforts, including a partnership with The Lifeline Center for Child Development Winter Coat Drive based in Queens Village; it highlights the plight of hunger in Ukraine, showcases student artwork centered around the Christmas season and includes an “Ask Sister Elizabeth” section with questions about helping others.

Diocesan archivist Joseph Coen, C.A. authors the “Diocesan History Corner” about the origins of the Tablet’s “Bright Christmas” fundraising campaign to help parishes bring Christmas joy to their families and children.

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CITY TECH WILL HOST REYNOSO’S FIRST ‘STATE OF THE BOROUGH’ ADDRESS ON JAN. 10

BOROUGHWIDE – Brooklynites and members of the public are invited to Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s first State of the Borough address since taking office last year, and arguably the first such annual event here in ten years. New York City College of Technology (275 Jay St.) will host the State of the Borough on Tuesday, January 10 at 6:45 p.m., when Borough President Reynoso, the first Latino to hold the position, will give a retrospective on his history-making first year in office and announce what’s next for Brooklyn in the new year.

The NYC Charter, while enumerating the powers and duties of the five borough presidents, does not specifically require an annual State of the Borough address to be held. Apparently, Reynoso’s predecessor, former Borough President (and now Mayor) Eric Adams, chose not to hold them.

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NEW LAWS LIMIT TOXIC CHEMICALS IN EVERYDAY ITEMS

STATEWIDE – Several new laws taking effect in the new year aim to protect public health and the environment by reducing exposure to harmful chemicals in everyday items, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced on Friday, December 30. As 2023 begins, laws are being implemented that cover 1,4-dioxane, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and other chemicals used in household cleaning, personal care, cosmetics, food packaging and children’s products.

The law covering food packaging prohibits intentionally-added PFAS in paper-based food packaging (made from paper, paperboard or other plant-derived materials) that is intended for direct food contact. Such packaging cannot be sold in New York State after tomorrow, December 31, 2022.

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A DARING WAY TO START THE NEW YEAR

CONEY ISLAND  This week, the Coney Island Polar Bears will welcome thousands of plungers to celebrate a globally-recognized Brooklyn tradition that began in 1903. The 120th Annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge, a fundraising event for local non-profits, will take place at 11 a.m. on Sunday, January 1 (registration starts at 10 a.m. inside Luna Park on Stillwell Ave.). Corporate sponsors include the Coney Island Brewery, Liberty Coca-Cola, Luna Park in Coney Island, the New York Aquarium and originating group Alliance for Coney Island.

The oldest winter bathing organization in the United States, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club swims in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island every Sunday from November through April.

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POLICE RULE INFANT’S DEATH A HOMICIDE

CROWN HEIGHTS — A Crown Heights man arrested on December 21 has been charged with the death of a four-month-old boy who had resided in the same apartment within the 71st Precinct. The infant, since identified as Men’Dece Reuben, had been found unconscious when police responded to a 911 call from their Crown St. apartment around 2:25 a.m. on December 20, and rushed the child to NYC Health & Hospitals/Kings County, where he died six days later.

The NYPD has now ruled the infant’s death a homicide; 25-year-old Donnie Reuben, whose exact relationship to the child has not been announced, faces several counts of child endangerment.

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MAN BEATEN BY GROUP OF TEEN MUGGERS

If you recognize this individual, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the police. All tips are strictly confidential.

BUSHWICK – On the evening of Nov. 9, a 34-year-old man was violently robbed in Bushwick by a group of four teens, who punched, kicked and stabbed the man before grabbing his cell phone and fleeing. Police have now released a new photo of one of the teens in an effort to identify them.  

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

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HOCHUL VETOES MEDICAID COLLECTIONS OVERHAUL

ALBANY – As the year draws to an end, Governor Hochul vetoed a bill that would have reformed the current Medicaid debt collections process, distressing patient advocates, who say the bill would have lifted a punitive debt burden from the shoulders of the poorest New Yorkers. “When the requirement of Medicaid programs to keep people continuously enrolled ends in April, tens of thousands of New Yorkers could lose critical coverage, and this veto was a completely missed opportunity to protect some of our most vulnerable neighbors ahead of that expiration,” said Rebecca Antar Novick, director of the Health Law Unit at the Legal Aid Society, who vowed to continue to work with legislators to fight for the bill in the new year.

In 2020, Kings County had the second-highest proportion of residents on Medicaid in the state at 49 percent, behind only the Bronx, and had the greatest number of residents on Medicaid overall, at more than 1.2 million people.

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POLICE NAB CHRISTMAS DAY SUBWAY BANDIT

GREENWOOD HEIGHTS – The NYPD announced on Thursday that they caught the man who robbed two individuals on the subway on Christmas day. Andres Herrera, 29, of Bath Beach, simulated a firearm under his jacket and demanded money and possessions from two people at the 25th Street subway station before fleeing onto an R train.

Herrera was arrested and charged with robbery on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 27.

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MAYOR, POLICE CHIEF TO HOLD VIGIL AT BARCLAYS

PROSPECT HEIGHTS – Mayor Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell will be presiding over a ceremony on Friday, December 30 at 3:00 p.m. as part of the inaugural National Day of Remembrance for Gun-Related Homicide Victims. The day of remembrance, which will be streamed on YouTube, was created by NYC’s gun violence czar, A.T. Mitchell, this year, and will be held in unison with other cities impacted by gun violence across the nation. 

Mayor Adams, formerly a police officer, has been outspoken in his opposition to gun crime and has taken steps to get guns off city streets.

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DAUGHTER STABS FATHER, SISTER; FAKES BURGLARY TO COVER UP

BENSONHURST – Nikki Secondino, age 22, was arrested on Thursday, December 29 in connection with the stabbings of her father, Carlo Secondino, who passed away from his injuries, and her sister that same day. Police say that the suspect initially told investigators that the three of them were the victims of a burglary, but that this was determined to be false.

Ms. Secondino has been charged with murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon, while the community has reacted with shock and sorrow.

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WOMAN GOES MISSING FROM QUEENS HOSPITAL

FLATBUSH – Police are searching for a missing Brooklyn woman last seen leaving Queens Hospital Center after being discharged in the early morning of December 24. The woman, Samantha Primus, 47, is described as 5’3″ and 130 lbs, with brown eyes and black hair; last seen wearing a navy blue coat, pink hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and black sneakers; and may be attempting to return to her Flatbush home.

Relatives told the media that Primus has developmental disabilities, is deaf and nonverbal, and may be scared and confused; they have condemned the hospital for allowing her to leave unaided.

Please reach out to the authorities if you have seen this woman. All tips are confidential. Photo: Nassau County Police Department.

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‘RIGHT TO REPAIR’ BILL SIGNED INTO LAW

ALBANY – Gov. Hochul has signed a new piece of legislation granting New Yorkers the so-called “right to repair” their personal electronic devices without having them serviced by a manufacturer. Critics, however, are saying that the bill was made toothless by last-minute amendments that would allow manufacturers to avoid making parts available by bundling them together and to not disclose passwords and passcodes necessary to unlock features –– loopholes that those critics claim won’t mean much but will actually change in terms of consumers being able to independently fix their things. 

For now, the Digital Fair Repair Act is considered an important step forward by consumer advocates, and both supporters and detractors agree that it is the broadest law of its sort in the nation. 

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CYCLIST CRITICALLY INJURED IN FLATLANDS CRASH

FLATLANDS – A 70-year-old cyclist is clinging to life, according to news reports, following an early-afternoon collision in the southeast Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatlands. The 70-year-old male cyclist was riding an e-bike eastbound on Avenue J in Flatlands on Wednesday, December 28, around 1:35 p.m. when a 69-year-old woman driving a Nissan along Schenectady Ave. crashed into him.

The cyclist in Flatlands was reportedly not wearing a helmet, taken to Brookdale Hospital and in critical condition as of press time. The driver remained on the scene.

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MTA SERVICE CHANGES AFFECT CONEY-ISLAND TRAINS

SOUTHERN BROOKLYN – Brooklyn riders who travel the N and D subway lines to and from Coney Island should brace for service changes during January, during which the MTA has scheduled to facilitate post-Hurricane Sandy repairs and flood mitigation work along Coney Island Creek Bridge, and to complete routine switch and track maintenance. During the first two weekends of January, N trains will run from Astoria-Ditmars Blvd to Kings Hwy in Brooklyn, with free shuttle buses made available for customers needing to travel between Kings Hwy and the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue terminal. Moreover, on Tuesday, January 17, N trains will run from Astoria-Ditmars Blvd to 86th Street in Brooklyn, with free shuttle buses available for customers who need to continue their commutes between 86th Street and Coney Island-Stillwell Ave.

Commuters can sign up for alerts online, and consult the MTA website or the MyMTA app for the latest service information and alternative service options.

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KIDS GET BOOKS AND PAJAMAS THROUGH ‘BROOKLYN FOR ALL PARTNERSHIP’

BOROUGHWIDE – A new local private-public partnership is gifting children’s books and pajamas to hundreds of kids living in shelters throughout Brooklyn neighborhoods, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso announced on Thursday, December 29. Working with Reynoso’s city-affiliated charitable organization Brooklyn for All, Inc., the Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Book Bodega and Target joined forces to give a book and pajama set to about 450 Brooklyn children – ranging from infants to pre-teens – who are currently living in shelters.

Distributions began on December 17th at a partnering church in Bed-Stuy and continued through the month in partnership with eight local organizations and family shelters located across various Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Brownsville, East New York, Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg.

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FEDERAL LAW BANS LEGAL SALES BY INDIVIDUALS OF MARIJUANA IN BROOKLYN

BOROUGHWIDE – Reminder: Marijuana cannot be legally sold in Brooklyn or certain other regions of New York State, unless through an approved dispensary, nor can an individual sell it to another party, explains Abrams Fensterman, Brooklyn’s largest law firm with a specialty in the growing cannabis industry. Adults 21 years or older can share cannabis with other adults aged 21 or older without compensation, “but cannot make that ‘gift’ as part of another service or commodity that is for sale.”

It is also illegal for cannabis to be transported across state lines.

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MAYOR CALLS DISPENSARY OPENING ‘MAJOR BOON’ TO ECONOMY

CITYWIDE – Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Adams, who was previously Brooklyn Borough President, applauded the opening of the state’s first legal cannabis dispensary in Manhattan, viewing it as an economic boon to the city. “Today marks a major milestone in our efforts to create the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation. “The opening of the first legal dispensary in our state right here in New York City is more than just a promising step for this budding industry — it represents a new chapter for those most harmed by the failed policies of the past,” said Mayor Adams.

The mayor added, “The legal cannabis market has the potential to be a major boon to New York’s economic recovery — creating new jobs, building wealth in historically underserved communities, and increasing state and local tax revenue.”

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CONGRESSIONAL REPORT SHOWS POSSIBLE ETHICS VIOLATIONS, RUSHED APPROVAL PROCESS FOR ALZHEIMER’S DRUG

STATEWIDE – The Alzheimer’s disease drug Aduhelm is at the center of an investigation that Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-12/northern Brooklyn) led for the past 18 months, in her role as chair of the Congressional Oversight and Reform Committee. The report, released on Thursday, December 29, just days before Rep. Maloney leaves office, found that the FDA broke numerous rules and possibly engaged in unethical conduct in rushing to accelerate approval of a very expensive Alzheimer’s drug despite numerous red flags and the medical review committee’s lack of approval for its general use.

The report also investigated countless undocumented meetings between FDA staff and company executives, a violation of ethics regulations.

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MORE ALLEGED MALFEASANCE IN PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – One of the nation’s largest wholesale pharmaceutical distributors is accused of violating federal law with regard to controlled substances, according to a civil complaint filed on Thursday, December 29, in Brooklyn federal court. The Department of Justice alleges that AmerisourceBergen Corporation and two of its subsidiaries, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation and Integrated Commercialization Solutions, LLC (together “AmerisourceBergen”) — collectively one of the country’s largest wholesale pharmaceutical distributors —  distributed controlled substances to pharmacies and other customers across the country, thus contributing to the prescription opioid epidemic.

The complaint alleges that this unlawful conduct resulted in at least hundreds of thousands of violations of the Controlled Substances Act, and the Justice Department seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief.

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PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD BEGINS FOR BROWNFIELD CLEANUP ON UNION ST.

GOWANUS – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), in consultation with the New York State Department of Health, is proposing an expedited cleanup of contamination at the 514 Union Street site, just east of Nevins St. The NYSDEC is conducting a public comment period because this Interim Remedial Measure is likely to represent a significant part of the cleanup for the site, with expedited cleanup activities expected to begin in February 2023 and last about three months.

NYSDEC is accepting written comments about the proposed plan for 30 days, from December 28, 2022 through January 27, 2023. Send to Richard P. Mustico, Project Manager, NYSDEC at 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233; call (518) 402-9647; or email [email protected].

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SAHADI’S TO JOIN HISTORIC REGISTRY

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – Longtime local Middle Eastern dry goods and delicacies store Sahadi’s will be placed on the New York State Historic Business Preservation Registry, thanks to Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, who sponsored the nomination. “Brooklyn is blessed and honored to have Sahadi’s right here – for four generations!” wrote Simon in a press statement. 

While the Atlantic Avenue store has been a Brooklyn staple since 1946, the Sahadi family has operated its grocery in New York since 1895, and was mentioned in an 1899 edition of the New York Times as being “A wonderful shop, this of the merchant Sahadi, with native wines and liqueurs, American groceries, swords and lamps, glass bracelets of many colors, Oriental embroideries, water pipes (hubble bubbles) and their ‘fixings.’”

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CITY COULD TAKE DOWN 10K AIRBNBS

CITYWIDE – A new law supported by Mayor Adams could potentially take 10,000 illegal short-term rental units off Airbnb when it goes into effect in January, according to NPR, against the protests of the company, which has faced criticism as city rents skyrocket and housing shortages squeeze home-seekers. The law would require Airbnb owners to register their units with the city and provide proof that they reside there and that the unit follows all applicable regulations, or pay fines of up to $5,000.

An email sent from Airbnb to its customers asking them to protest the measure read, “short-term rental accommodations for travelers like you will be dramatically reduced to hotels and a shared room with no locks. This will restrict travel options outside popular tourism areas and hurt small businesses throughout the city.” 

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NURSE STRIKE DRAWS CLOSER AS DEADLINE LOOMS

 

CITYWIDE – The 17,000 nurses of the New York State Nurses Association and their private hospital employers (including Brooklyn Hospital Center, Interfaith Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and Maimonides Medical Center, among others) are locked in negotiations as their Jan. 1 contract expiration deadline approaches, according to insiders, who say that if a new contract cannot be decided on by December 31 the union intends to give a 10-day notice to employers and then halt work. The nurses say that they cannot continue under the current conditions at their current rate of pay and benefits, as the so-called COVID-flu-RSV “tripledemic” rages across the country. 

“You cannot continue to ask a nurse to work in the medical surgical unit where she should have five patients [and] now she’s carrying 12 patients,” NYSNA president Nancy Hagan told CBS News. 

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SENIOR WOMAN FATALLY STRUCK BY TRUCK

CROWN HEIGHTS – A 75-year-old woman was struck and killed in a tragic accident on Wednesday while crossing busy Utica Avenue in Crown Heights. The victim, who had been in the crosswalk when a flatbed truck hit her, was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders.

The identity of the victim has not been released, pending family notification.

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FUNERAL FOR NYC FIREFIGHTER KILLED IN ACCIDENT

BROOKLYN – The funeral of firefighter William Moon II, who passed away earlier in the month after an accident during a training exercise at Brooklyn’s elite Rescue Company 2, will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Bay Shore, following a wake on Wednesday. Mayor Adams will deliver remarks at the funeral, which will be streamed online. 

The firefighter’s family elected to donate his organs after his tragic death, prompting the Mayor to call him “a hero twice over.”

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CONEY ISLAND MENORAH DESTROYED IN VANDALISM ATTACK

CONEY ISLAND – A menorah in Coney Island has been destroyed by vandals in another attack in the wave of antisemitic hate crimes causing fear and uncertainty in New York’s Jewish community, according to a Twitter account cataloging the offenses. The account on Wednesday shared a picture of the Coney Island Chabad Menorah in pieces on the ground. 

Antisemitic hate crimes have been surging this year, as Brooklyn’s Jewish community grapples with how to handle the increase in violence and negative rhetoric in the media and in their neighborhoods.

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COVID TESTS TO BE REQUIRED FOR ALL COMING FROM CHINA

NATIONAL – The CDC announced on Wednesday afternoon that everyone flying to the U.S. from China will be required to show a negative COVID test starting on Jan. 5. The decision comes as news of explosive growth in COVID cases in newly reopened China has alarmed the global community and U.S. health officials.

The new wave of COVID currently affecting China began after the nation relaxed its strict “zero COVID” regulations, abandoning the strict lockdowns that had previously characterized its pandemic response and allowing international travel to resume even as its hospitals are reportedly overwhelmed with new infections.

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BROOKLYN MOTORCYCLIST THROWN, KILLED IN CRASH

WILLIAMSBURG – A motorcyclist was killed in Williamsburg on Wednesday morning, according to police, who said that the driver, Gerardo Cielo Ahuatl, 46, of Ocean Hill, lost control of his bike and was then struck by a pickup truck attempting to make a turn into an intersection. He was transported to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

The driver of the pickup truck remained at the scene and was not injured, and the investigation is ongoing.


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