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What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, January 5, 2023

January 5, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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MIDWOOD MAN CHARGED WITH THEFT OF CHECKS AND IDENTITIES

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – An arrest has been made in connection with checks stolen from Brooklynites and local charities, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and the United States Postal Inspection Service announced on Thursday, January 5. Gennady Galker, a 40-year-old Midwood man, is accused of allegedly stealing checks from Brooklynites and using a stolen identity to further his scheme, and of thefts totaling $31,149, including a $1,148 check from DiNapoli’s Office of Unclaimed Funds and various checks from the Jewish Communal Fund intended for area charities.

Galker, who withdrew cash immediately after depositing the stolen checks and allegedly spent the money on purchases from Amazon and Door Dash among other personal expenses, was charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument and identity theft in the first degree, appearing before Judge Danny Chun, Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term.

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FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON JOINS COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY FACULTY

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for President and former U.S. Secretary of State, is joining the faculty of Columbia University, according to an announcement published by the Ivy League school and reported in the Daily News on Thursday, January 5. Clinton, whose Presidential campaign headquarters were in Brooklyn Heights, will hold two appointments: as a professor of practice at the School of International and Public Affairs and as a presidential fellow at Columbia World Projects.

Columbia announced that Clinton, who also served as U.S. Senator from New York from 2001-2009, will “also help lead a major SIPA effort to convene outstanding policy thinkers from around the world to develop innovative policy solutions, as part of the university’s ‘Fourth Purpose’ initiative.”

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PACT PROGRAM DELIVERS NYCHA RESIDENTS $7.2 BILLION IN BUILDING UPGRADES

CITYWIDE – The PACT program is on track to improve living conditions for 76,000 NYCHA residents and to deliver $7.2 billion in building upgrades, Mayor Adams and leaders from NYCHA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Thursday, January 5. Overall, 36,103 apartments across 137 NYCHA developments have been renovated, are under construction or are in the community planning and design process under NYCHA’s Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program. Once complete, these renovations will improve quality of life for more than 76,000 NYCHA residents and address $7.2 billion in capital needs through building upgrades.

The PACT program transitions developments from traditional public housing assistance to the more stable, federally funded Project-Based Section 8 program — unlocking funding for designated PACT partners to complete comprehensive repairs.

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REP.-ELECT MALLIOTAKIS VOTING CONSISTENTLY FOR McCARTHY TO BECOME HOUSE SPEAKER 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives as of 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 5 was taking an eighth vote to elect and seat a new Speaker, a task that must be completed before any member of Congress — new or returning — can be sworn in or conduct any business, including for national security. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California), who has thus far lost seven rounds of voting since Tuesday, has offered new concessions to a group of ultra-conservatives, including provisions that would weaken the very role he seeks. One of those concessions would empower a single member of the House — if he or she chose — to begin a motion to remove the Speaker.

Brooklyn’s one Republican Congressmember, Rep.-elect Nicole Malliotakis (R-11), is on record for voting for Kevin McCarthy each of the first seven votes, according to an interactive chart from the New York Times. Though former President Donald Trump is now a contender, so far only Rep-elect Matt Gaetz of Florida has voted for him to be Speaker.

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MLK DAY OF SERVICE TO HELP NEWLY-ARRIVED UKRAINIAN FAMILIES

BRIGHTON BEACH – The Shorefront YMHA-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach will mark the annual MLK Day of Service by helping distribute educational supplies and resources to Ukrainian families who are new to the community. That afternoon, the Shorefront Y will host a carnival for the newly-arrived families. Teens can also earn school-required volunteer hours by participating in this outreach on Monday, January 16. As space is limited, prospective volunteers should contact the Shorefront Y to register for this event.

Brighton Beach has long been an enclave for Ukrainian and Russian immigrants.

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MAIMONIDES MEDICAL CENTER AND NURSES REACH TENTATIVE LABOR AGREEMENT TO AVERT STRIKE

BOROUGH PARK – Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park has reached a tentative contract agreement with the New York State Nurses Association to avoid a labor strike. The two parties released a joint statement today heralding the tentative agreement, which stands to benefit more than 1,300 nurses: it improves staffing ratios in several units while ensuring a near-universal ratio-based staffing plan hospital-wide, adds additional nursing positions, improves the staffing enforcement and dispute resolution process, increases nurse wages by more than 19 percent compounded over 3 years and preserves the NYSNA health benefits with no increased cost to employees.

The New York State Nursing Association was scheduled to hold a press briefing on Thursday and will vote on Friday to ratify the contract, with the NYSNA bargaining committee at Maimonides recommending that members vote yes.

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JOINT STATEMENT FROM MAIMONIDES ON AGREEMENT

BOROUGH PARK – Maimonides Health CEO Ken Gibbs and NYSNA President Nancy Hagans RN, BSN, CCRN on Thursday, January 5 issued a joint statement announcing the tentative agreement with the New York State Nurses Association. “We are pleased to reach a tentative agreement that recognizes the essential contributions of our indispensable nursing staff. We believe this agreement is fair and respects the needs of all parties while also helping us better serve our patients,” they said.

The NYSNA will be holding a short briefing to provide an update on contract negotiations at other hospitals where nurses will strike beginning January 9 unless tentative contract agreements can also be reached, with negotiations continuing at BronxCare Health System, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Montefiore Bronx, Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Morningside and West.

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AS CONGRESS WRANGLES, REP. JEFFRIES OF BROOKLYN HOLDS FIRM WITH 212 VOTES

NATIONWIDE – The House of Representatives’ Democratic Leadership weekly press conference, scheduled for Thursday morning, January 5, becomes all the more significant, given the current fracas within the GOP and its inability to select the next Speaker of the House during the 118th Congress’ first two days in session. While the election of a Speaker is the very first required order of business, an adamant group of hardline conservatives, as of press time on Wednesday, had blocked Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s accession to the gavel after six votes.

By contrast, the Democrat members of Congress have stood united for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-8) of Brooklyn, who currently has garnered the most votes — at 212 — of anyone vying thus far for Speaker.

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PUBLIC COMMENT OPENS FOR PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO LOADING ZONE RULES

CITYWIDE – A public hearing is scheduled for next month on an NYC Department of Transportation (“DOT”) amendment proposal to Section 4-08 of the Traffic Rules to establish loading zone regulations, with regard to signage, according to a dispatch from Brooklyn Community Board 1 serving North Brooklyn. Members of the public may access and participate in this hearing online or by telephone. The public may also submit comments to DOT in advance through the NYC rules website. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, February 7. 

A rule is a standard or requirement set by a City agency that affects members of the public. City agencies wanting to create or amend rules must follow the process required in the City Administrative Procedure Act. The public is permitted to comment on proposed rules to influence how they are finally drafted.

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CASINO FOR CONEY? CITY ASKS FOR BIDS

CONEY ISLAND – A full-scale casino could be coming to Coney Island, reports Gothamist, after city officials voted on Friday to solicit applications for three casino licenses, each of which would be going for a whopping $500 million, with the applications alone costing $1 million to submit. The group responsible for the Coney Island proposal, comprised of Thor Equities, Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends, released a statement immediately after the vote, saying “We look forward to submitting our bid and setting a new standard in economic revitalization and resiliency for New York.”

Other potential locations considered by different operators include Times Square, Hudson Yards and Citi Field. 

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SUBWAY FLASHER CAUGHT

CITYWIDE – The serial flasher who has been terrorizing female subway riders since the summer has been nabbed, say police, who announced that Jose Lopez of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania has been arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation. Lopez is charged with five counts of public lewdness stemming from a series of flashing incidents, most of which took place aboard Brooklyn subways. 

The arrest comes after the flasher stalked one woman, harassing her and then lurking in her station until she returned some hours later, at which time she used her phone to film him as he fled.

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COMMUNITY BOARD APPLICATIONS OPEN TO PUBLIC

BROOKLYN – Brooklyn’s 18 community boards are searching for new members, and applications are now open online to interested residents ages 16 and up who want to get more involved in neighborhood affairs. Registration information and forms can be found online on the website of the Brooklyn Borough President, and applications are open until February 14. 

Community boards are responsible for a broad array of local concerns, and have “the ability to deliver city services, manage a budget, and have oversight in land use and zoning issues.”

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MTA TOWN HALL ON NEW ENTRANCE FOR YORK ST SUBWAY

DUMBO – The MTA will be holding a virtual town hall meeting, which can be registered for online, in order to address a long-standing community desire for a potential second entrance and other adjustments to the York Street F train station, on Monday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. Neighborhood residents and commuters have been asking for upgrades to the station as ridership has increased dramatically thanks to Dumbo’s popularity as a destination soaring over the last two decades. 

The MTA has in the past been leery of delivering the proposed second entrance, claiming at a Community Board 2 meeting in June of 2022 that it could cost more than $400 million for a full entrance and more than $200 million to install a simple elevator.

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HOCHUL SIGNS ORGAN DONOR SUPPORT BILL

ALBANY – Governor Hochul on December 29 signed legislation intended to support living kidney and liver donors, establishing a program to cover and reimburse extra costs associated with organ donation for state residents who are making the gift of life to a fellow New Yorker. It works to eliminate financial barriers for those people to reduce wait times for organ transplants and address the organ shortage in New York, which is among the worst-affected states in the nation, with 7,234 residents currently on the waiting list for a kidney. 

“With expanded assistance for those inspired to become organ donors, I am confident this new law will help more New Yorkers give and receive the gift of life,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, the bill’s sponsor.  

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HOMECREST STORE BURGLARIZED BY MEN WITH FAKE GUN

HOMECREST – Three individuals robbed a store in Homecrest on Monday, January 2, using a simulated firearm to intimidate a clerk before going behind the counter and removing $2,000 from the store’s register. The robbers then fled on foot, say police, who have released photos of the suspects 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), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782); or, log onto the Crime Stoppers website or Tweet @NYPDTips.

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

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COMMUNITY BOARD 14 TO HOLD TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE MEETING

FLATBUSH – Community Board 14 will be holding a meeting of its Transportation Committee on Thursday, January 5 at 6:30 p.m. on Webex. Topics to be discussed include a preliminary plan to install bus lanes on Flatbush Avenue and an update on the Kings Highway capital project.

Attendees can watch the meeting on YouTube, or email [email protected] for a Webex invite. 

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GRANTS FOR BROOKLYN ORGS: REEL STORIES, ST. NICKS ALLIANCE

BROOKLYN – Governor Kathy Hochul announced on December 28 that the new NY State Office of Strategic Workforce Development has for the first time awarded more than $6 million in grants to eight projects across the state, including a $1.25 million Capital Grant Award to St. Nicks Alliance in Williamsburg and $453,959 to Reel Stories Teen Filmmaking. St. Nicks will use the money to help relocate and build new facilities for a tech work training center, while Reel Stories will provide film industry training for youths with local unions. 

“Our new Office of Strategic Workforce Development will help reduce barriers to training and employment while supporting businesses with their workforce needs. This funding is just the beginning of our investment in developing a strong and diverse workforce for decades to come,” said Hochul, who established the office in April of 2022.

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SHAMPA CHANDA, SALVATORE SCIBETTA TO LEAD BSA

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Mayor Eric Adams on Friday, December 30 designated Shampa Chanda as chair of the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals and Salvatore Scibetta as vice chair. Chanda and Scibetta are both current commissioners with extensive experience in land use, planning and zoning at the BSA, which is an integral part of the city’s system for regulating land use, development and construction, and was established as an independent board to grant “relief” from the zoning code. 

“I am a firm believer that New York City is the greatest city in the world, and I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to uphold that benchmark of excellence,” said Scibetta, a Brooklyn Law School grad who serves as president of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn and is a member of both the Brooklyn Bar Association and the Richmond County Bar Association.  

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NEW LAW REQUIRES NEW YORK TO PRESERVE ITS NATURAL RESOURCES

STATEWIDE – A new law that Governor Kathy Hochul has signed sets the goal to support and contribute to national efforts to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030. This legislation (indexed as S.6191A/A.5390B) requires the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to develop strategies and a methodology to promote biodiversity and preserve New York’s wildlife, forests and clean water sources — all essential to New York’s health and economy.

The legislation, which builds on the State’s existing conservation efforts, establishes the goal while collaborating with a broad group of stakeholders.

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STATE SUES AUTO LENDER FOR DECEPTIVE PRACTICES

STATEWIDE – New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have sued Credit Acceptance Corporation, one of the nation’s largest subprime auto lenders, for deceiving thousands of low-income New Yorkers into high-interest car loans. The lawsuit alleges that CAC pushed unaffordable loans onto tens of thousands of low-income consumers throughout the state, without considering their ability to repay their loans in full, by misstating key terms on loan agreements, including the principal and interest amounts, and failing to disclose thousands of dollars in credit charges.

The lawsuit seeks to end CAC’s abusive and deceptive practices, reform or eliminate existing CAC loan agreements, and collect restitution for impacted consumers.

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MAYOR ANNOUNCES NEW REFORMS TO TRIM TIMELINE FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS DELIVERY

CITYWIDE – A new, comprehensive set of reforms aim to cut years off the city’s capital project delivery process and save New York City taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Wednesday, January 4. The Capital Process Reform Task Force, which Mayor Adams formed last April, composed of leaders representing the construction industry, labor, and Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, is responsible for conducting a top-down review of the city’s capital process and recommending reforms, from project initiation to closeout.

The task force, which in October announced a set of 17 initial recommendations, on Wednesday released its year-end report with an additional 22 recommendations Taken together, the 39 recommendations are expected to reduce by several years the process for delivering public works.

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EXPANDING PARTICIPATION TO MORE NEW YORKERS AMONG CAPITAL REFORM TASK FORCE’S RECOMMENDATIONS

CITYWIDE – The Capital Reform Task Force, whose members also include several city agencies from the Comptroller’s Office to the New York City Department of Design and Construction, City Parks, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), among others, made its initial recommendations in several areas of the capital process. These include improving the project pipeline, streamlining approvals, managing projects more effectively, reforming procurement and expanding the number of New Yorkers who can participate.

The task force’s comprehensive citywide review benefited from an examination of many successful DDC initiatives, which, in certain instances, made sense to extend to other city agencies.

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DiNAPOLI TO NEW YORKERS: ‘DON’T WAIT TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY!”

CITYWIDE – Declaring, “Don’t wait to claim your money!,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli reminds New Yorkers that they may be due unclaimed funds, such as lost and forgotten money, bank accounts or refund checks. DiNapoli, who oversees more than 46 million unclaimed funds accounts valued at $17.5 billion, will be holding two outreach events in Brooklyn this month to help constituents with such matters: Thursday, January 19 at 6 p.m., hosted at the Cypress Hills Library (1197 Sutter Ave.) and Tuesday, January 24 at 11:15 a.m., hosted at Brookdale Senior Center, 817 Avenue H in Kensington.

Residents who cannot make it to the events can search for and claim their money by using the online claiming system or by calling 1-800-221-9311.

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DIOCESAN CURRENTS NEWS PROVIDES LIVE COVERAGE OF POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT’S FUNERAL

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which was part of the late Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s legacy when he elevated a Prospect Heights church to cathedral status, will provide live special coverage of the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI on Currents News, including analysis and commentary on Thursday, January 5 beginning at 2:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (New York being six hours earlier than Rome). Christine Persichette, anchor of Currents News, will lead the in-studio team coverage along with Father Frank Tumino and Ed Wilkinson, editor emeritus of The Tablet. The coverage and Mass will also be livestreamed on the NET website.

Auxiliary Bishop Neil Tiedemann will be the main celebrant at noontime Requiem Mass (prayer for the repose of the soul of a deceased person using a particular form of the Roman Missal) to honor the late Pope Benedict XVI, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James, 250 Cathedral Place in Downtown Brooklyn.

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BISHOP BRENNAN DEDICATES THIS WEEK’S PODCAST TO BENEDICT XVI’S LEGACY

PROSPECT HEIGHTS – Brooklyn Diocesan Bishop Robert J. Brennan’s weekly podcast, “Big City Catholics,” reflected on Benedict’s legacy. Co-hosting the podcast with Father Christopher Heanue, rector of the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Bishop Brennan offered remembrances of Pope Benedict XVI, including his visit to New York City in 2008 and encounters with him.

“Big City Catholics” is available on popular podcast platforms, including Apple, Spotify and YouTube, or on the Diocese of Brooklyn website.

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CREATORS OF BPL’S ‘BOOKS UNBANNED’ HONORED AS LIBRARIANS OF THE YEAR

NATIONWIDE – The scholarly publication Library Journal has named a team from the Brooklyn Public Library as Librarians of the Year, recognizing their tenacious fight for the principles of intellectual freedom against an alarming rise in censorship. The award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the library profession, was given to Librarians Nick Higgins, Leigh Hurwitz, Karen Keys and Amy Mikel, along with YA Internship Coordinator, Jackson Gomes, all of whom were recognized for creating and running Books Unbanned, a national campaign to provide access to books to young people across the country. The program, which was developed in response to an alarming rise in book bans in school and public libraries, allows young adults ages 13 to 21, nationwide, to apply for a free eCard from BPL, and thus access to the library’s extensive collection of eBooks and audiobooks.

Since launching in April 2022, more than 6,000 teens from all 50 states have applied for the card.

The cover of this month’s Library Journal salutes the Librarians of the Year from the BPL. Photo: Library Journal/Matt Carr. Republished with permission from Library Journal.

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POSSIBLE NEW SCHOOL TO COME TO BAY RIDGE

BAY RIDGE – Community Board 10 will be holding a special review of the NYC School Construction Authority’s site selection of the former St. Nicholas home in Bay Ridge. The meeting to discuss the potential new school site will be held on January 12 at the Bay Ridge Center from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is open to the public.

The plan for the century-old building, which began its life as a mansion and was then converted to a hospital, would be the second new school proposed in Bay Ridge in 2022, following permits filed for a location at Senator Street and Third Avenue in May.

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BROOKLYN MAN ARRESTED AFTER MONTHS FOR SEPTEMBER SHOOTING

Police announced on Tuesday, January 3, that Darren Monroe of Brownsville has been arrested in connection with the non-fatal September shooting of another man in the Bronx. Monroe is accused of chasing the victim on foot in the early morning of September 19 while firing shots at him, and was charged with assault, attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

The victim was struck multiple times, but was transported by EMS to a hospital in time and survived the shooting.

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POLICE HUNT FOR SERIAL SUBWAY PERVERT

CITYWIDE – Police are warning the public of a serial flasher who has been haunting the city’s subways and who exposed himself to women at least five times since July of 2022. Three of the five incidents happened in Brooklyn on the F train, but the man was also spotted at the Seneca Avenue M train station in Queens and at the Newkirk Avenue Q train station in Brooklyn — where after exposing himself once, he waited for the victim to return before harassing her again later in the day.

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, log onto the Crime Stoppers website or Tweet @NYPDTips.

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

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MAYOR’S PROPERTY ANOTHER CASUALTY IN RAT WAR

BROOKLYN – Just one day after defeating a previous rat-related ticket in December, Mayor Adams was hit with another summons in relation to signs of a rodent infestation at one of his Brooklyn properties. Adams claims to have spent over $7,000 attempting to rid himself of the rats, but now faces a fine of $1,200 as the city says those efforts haven’t solved the problem.

“I will again challenge these violations and show that rats don’t run this city,” the mayor told CNN.

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ORTHODOX SCHOOLS MAY CLAIM UNNEEDED SPECIAL ED FUNDING 

A New York Times investigation has revealed troubling details about the possible misuse of $350 million in state funds intended to support special needs students in Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish schools, who now represent more than half of the 18,000 citywide requests made by parents for privately-sourced learning aid. State law dictates that the city must, if necessary, pay private companies to provide services for disabled children within their schools, but under former Mayor de Blasio the approvals process for parental requests was fast-tracked, leading to what some critics describe as an explosion in companies who accept money but do not actually provide learning services to the children or who focus on religious instruction instead of secular education.

“They’re accessing tremendous amounts of city resources, but they’re not actually providing special education,” said former city education official of the schools, Elana Sigall.

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STORM PLAN: NEWTOWN CREEK SURGE BARRIER, SEAWALLS FOR BK WATERFRONT 

GREENPOINT – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it is recommending a storm risk management for New York’s harbor that will involve installing a storm surge barrier across Newtown Creek, as well as seawalls, floodwalls and levees along the shoreline from Box Street to Kent Street, traversing Newtown Barge Park and Transmitter Park, and on parts of Dupont Street, Kent Street and Greenpoint Avenue. More details about this plan will be presented at the Community Board 1 meeting on Wednesday, January 4, where the public will also have a chance to provide brief comments and opinions on the situation.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the WEBEX platform, which attendees will need to download beforehand; registration is online on Community Board 1’s official city website.

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DRAMA IN CONGRESS AS MCCARTHY FAILS THIRD VOTE

WASHINGTON – Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has failed yet again in a third round of voting to gain the necessary 218 supporters in his quest to become the next Speaker of the House, as a group of far-right Republican representatives remains firm in their opposition, viewing the California congressmember as corrupt and overly willing to work with Democrats. Political insiders revealed to the BBC that they don’t see a path to victory for McCarthy, suggesting that when the House reconvenes on Wednesday further votes are likely to also fail.

It is unclear who, other than McCarthy, might have a shot at attaining the top post, but multiple names have been put forward, including McCarthy ally Steve Scalise, Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan, and even Democrat and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who would have to convince six Republicans to change sides to win the vote.


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