What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, February 7, 2023
RESTAURANT OWNER ARRESTED ON BRIBERY CHARGES IN ATTEMPT TO HAVE VIOLATIONS DISMISSED
SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — A Brooklyn restaurateur has been charged with bribery after inspectors issued multiple health and sanitation violations in his eatery. Badri Braunzbourg, the owner of Argo Restaurant (Georgian and Eastern Europe cuisine), was arrested on Tuesday, Feb. 7, and charged with Bribery in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Giving Unlawful Gratuities, a class A misdemeanor, after he gave a $300 cash bribe to a DOI undercover investigator posing as a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspector, so that the inspector would ignore multiple Health Code violations observed at the restaurant and a missing Dept. of Health sign bearing a “C” grade.
The Dept. of Health visit was a follow-up from an earlier, December 2022 inspection, and was prompted by a report from a Health Dept. inspector who was offered and declined a bribe while inspecting the Argo restaurant. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.
REP. GOLDMAN JOINS HOUSE’S COALITION ON THE ENVIRONMENT, WORKS TO AMEND BILL ON PETROLEUM
BOROUGHWIDE — Congressmember Dan Goldman (D-10th District) has joined the U.S. House of Representatives’ Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, which was founded in January 2009. Committed to advocacy for policies on clean energy innovation, job creation and environmental protection, Rep. Goldman last month offered the Green Equity Amendment to the House Republicans’ Strategic Production Response Act, a change that would cancel out the GOP’s attempted giveaway to Big Oil, replacing it with prerequisites certifying that the U.S. is meeting the Paris Climate Accord targets before oil is released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,
Viewers of Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address may spot Rep. Goldman wearing a Climate Action Campaign “warming stripes” pin to highlight the climate crisis and the urgent need for the United States to enact strong federal pollution standards to meet President Biden’s commitment to cut climate pollution by half by 2030.
SKANSKA BECOMES CONSTRUCTION MANAGER FOR SOUTH BROOKLYN MARINE TERMINAL UPGRADE
SUNSET PARK — Skanska USA has been chosen as the Construction Manager for the port upgrade of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, a transformative project in Southwest Brooklyn, Equinor Renewables announced Tuesday, Feb. 7. Skanska, a Sweden-based multinational construction company, will initially provide pre-construction services in the development of an offshore wind port for the Empire Wind and Beacon Wind projects, which are being developed off the coast of Long Island through a 50-50 partnership between Equinor and bp.
The Brooklyn Eagle published a story in March 2022 on the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal becoming a wind hub. Situated along the waterfront and 2nd Ave. between 29th and 39th streets in Sunset Park (Community Board 7) the terminal will provide crucial infrastructure for the construction of the Empire and Beacon Wind projects, which will bring 3.3 gigawatt of offshore wind power into New York and powering around two million homes.
ZIPCAR EXPANDS INTO OCEAN HILL AS PART OF DOT’S PERMANENT CARSHARE PROGRAM
OCEAN HILL — As part of the DOT’s aforementioned carshare expansion into a permanent program, Zipcar will add 24 vehicles, with two vehicles per street location, in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. The expansion includes five sites in Ocean Hill: 34 Gunther Place and 34 Marconi Place (both between Atlantic Avenue & Herkimer Street), 2065 Pacific St. (between Howard and Saratoga avenues); and1209 Herkimer Street and 2310 Dean Street (between Rockaway Avenue and Thomas S. Boyland Street).
According to Zipcar’s New North American Transportation Survey, 84% of members report that picking up a car at an on-street location is more convenient. Members with household incomes below $35,000 report that Zipcar has improved their quality of life (76%), gives them financial freedom (54%), equal access to opportunities (57%), and affordable access to important places like school and work (57%), and the opportunity to explore places inaccessible by transit (78%).
CITY EXPANDS CARSHARE PARKING IMMEDIATELY
BOROUGHWIDE — NYC DOT has begun major expansion of on-street carshare, and is working with three carshare companies – Zipcar, Getaround, and Truqit – to deploy their shared vehicles at new locations, Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced on Tuesday, Feb. 7. The expansion comes after a successful five-year pilot program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7% and personal car ownership miles by 6%, with installation of the first 80 of hundreds of new curbside parking spaces reserved for carshare vehicles starting immediately, in Brooklyn (Bay Ridge, Bushwick, Brownsville, and Sunset Park), Queens, and the Bronx, with a focus on equitable distribution.
Although the newly-reserved spaces will greatly curtail parking for other essential vehicles, the DOT said that it engaged all community boards covered by the initial expansion and incorporated feedback where possible, and that the decisions were made based on knowledge of customer demand and household demographic data.
LOCAL POLS TO ATTEND BIDEN’S STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH
WASHINGTON — A host of New York politicians will be attending the State of the Union speech in Washington on Tuesday, among them Kristen Gillibrand, who will be bringing union president Mario Cilento of the AFL-CIO as her invited guest, as well as Mayor Adams, who will travel to D.C. late in the day and meet with other members of NYC’s congressional delegation beforehand. Adams will be attending as the invited guest of Rep. Adriano Espaillat.
The State of the Union address serves as an annual opportunity for the president to assess the nation’s struggles and successes over the previous year, and will be streamed live on YouTube and on the White House’s official website beginning at 9 p.m.
SIMON, LIU TO INTRODUCE LAWS TO REDUCE DRUNK DRIVING BAC LIMIT
ALBANY — Brooklyn Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon is teaming up with state Senator John C. Liu to introduce new legislation in the state capital that would lower the legal blood alcohol limit for criminal drunk driving to .05 percent from the current .08 percent, as well as lowering the limit for aggravated driving while intoxicated to .08 percent from the current .12 percent — moves which the lawmakers assert have led to immediate ten percent reductions in traffic fatalities when implemented elsewhere. The legislation is supported by NYC DOT commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, as well as Mayor Adams and advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others.
“Since the pandemic, we have seen an alarming increase in high-speed car wrecks, especially on highways, very often fueled by the deadly combination of drinking and driving. DOT is working around the clock to reduce fatalities on our roads, and we know there is a simple policy solution to curb this reckless behavior,” said Rodriguez in a press statement praising the bills.
STATE OFFICIALS SEE DROP-OFF IN FLU CASES
STATEWIDE — Health Department officials announced on Monday that flu cases have fallen 35% statewide since last week, with a corresponding 34% drop in flu hospitalizations, reports Spectrum News. While the drop represents the seventh straight week of flu cases decreasing, the illness continue to hit hard among the state’s youth, with more than half of all positive flu tests coming from people under the age of 18, according to the state’s weekly Influenza Surveillance Report.
NYC reported just 917 positive flu cases in the last week, significantly lower than during previous flu waves at this time in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
CITY FUNDRAISES FOR EARTHQUAKE HELP AS TURKEY, SYRIA DEATHS RISE
CITYWIDE — As Turkey and Syria reeled from the devastating damage inflicted by multiple earthquakes on Sunday and Monday and the known total of lives lost reached over 4,300, New York politicians expressed sympathies and put out calls for support. On Twitter, Mayor Adams expressed solidarity and sympathy with NYC’s Turkish diaspora and Sen. Schumer offered prayers and aid alongside President Biden, while U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke shared that she was “keeping the people of Turkey and Syria in [her] heart and prayers.”
The city has also established a “Help Now” webpage in partnership with the Department of Emergency Management with resources for New Yorkers who want to donate to aid earthquake victims, as well as information on quake preparedness and survival.
FREE FINANCIAL WORKSHOP SERIES FROM IMPACCT BROOKLYN
BROOKLYN — A series of free financial workshops from IMPACCT Brooklyn is set to kick off on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m. with a webinar on understanding credit. IMPACCT’s classes are designed to be helpful for people anywhere on the income spectrum, and will continue on Feb. 15 with a webinar on increasing wealth and on Feb. 22 with a webinar on navigating the NYC housing lottery system.
Interested parties can register for the classes online.
LEGAL AID SOCIETY LAWYERS TO HOLD RALLY FOR HIGHER PAY
CITYWIDE — Unionized lawyers from the Legal Aid Society, which provides legal representation for underprivileged New Yorkers, are set to conduct a lunchtime walkout on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 1 p.m. in protest of what they describe as an unfairly low two percent raise offer from Society management following months of stalled contract negotiations, as well as other demands related to working conditions. A report from the New York Times last year revealed that the LAS lost ten percent of its total staff in 2022, while lawyers complained of salaries far lower than those at comparable positions in city government, unreasonably large bonuses and raises for management — with one manager seeing a raise of more than $43,000 from 2020 to 2021 — and case loads of sizes significant enough to threaten the staffers’ ability to ensure a fair trial for their clients.
More than 1,000 attorneys intend to walk out at locations around the city, with the Brooklyn contingent marching from Brooklyn Borough Hall to 15 MetroTech.
TWO TEENS SHOT NEAR SCHOOL AFTER BRAWL BREAKS OUT
WILLIAMSBURG — Two teenage students, a 19-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, were shot on Monday afternoon just one block from their high school, and are currently both hospitalized in stable condition, reports the New York Post. A witness at the scene told the Post that the shootings followed a violent brawl that broke out at the high school an hour earlier that involved 20 to 25 teenagers fistfighting each other.
The shooter was described as a male wearing a black ski mask and a black and red jacket, and has not yet been identified.
SUSPECT IN COP SHOOTING APPREHENDED
EAST NEW YORK — The man suspected of shooting an off-duty cop in East New York on Saturday during an attempted car sale scam gone wrong was apprehended in a hotel in Rockland County on Monday night, reports ABC News. The suspect, 38, has an extensive criminal history including arrests for strangulation, grand larceny and aggravated harassment; and, was charged with attempted murder.
The officer, 26, has not been named, and remains in the hospital in critical condition; Mayor Adams is expected to speak on the situation on Tuesday morning.
FDNY OFFICIALS RESIGN POSTS IN SPAT WITH NEW FIRE CHIEF
CITYWIDE — Two high-ranking Fire Department officials have jointly resigned from their posts after less than a year, citing conflicts with recently appointed Fire Department commissioner Laura Kavanagh over the demotions of several assistant chiefs, reports NBC News. Chief of Department John Hodgens and Chief of Fire Operations John Esposito sent emails to other city officials calling out this decision, with Esposito going on to say that he felt excluded from Kavanagh’s trust.
Mayor Adams released a press statement on Monday standing behind Kavanagh, who he described as “promoting a culture of true leadership, accountability, and performance within the FDNY.”
BROOKLYN’S HIGHEST RENTAL PRICES IN DUMBO NEW REPORT FINDS
DUMBO — Notwithstanding the court victory for Rent Stabilization Laws, rents for certain-sized apartments increased in Brooklyn last month, with the highest prices in DUMBO for studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, according to a new report from the MNS Real Estate platform. The most affordable studio units could be found in Bay Ridge, the same was true in Borough Park and Sunset Park for one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Not surprisingly, rental increases were greater in doorman buildings.
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF RENT STABILIZATION LAWS UPHELD
STATEWIDE — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has rejected constitutional challenges to New York’s Rent Stabilization Laws, as amended by the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, scoring a victory for tenants, says State Attorney General Letitia James, who fought to protect the law. In September 2020, a district court judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York had dismissed two challenges to the Rent Stabilization Laws in their entirety.
The court document, which upholds the earlier ruling, provides the history and reasoning behind the regulation of the rental market since before the rent stabilization Law took effect in 1969. “Today’s decision is a victory for families that work day and night to keep a roof over their head…We will continue to defend the constitutionality of our laws and fight to ensure New Yorkers can afford to live in their homes and communities,” said Attorney General James.
BROOKLYN LEADS CITY IN NUMBER OF POLICE MISCONDUCT CLAIMS
EAST NEW YORK — Brooklyn had the largest number of police misconduct complaints stemming from incidents, according to the Citizen Complaint Review Board’s latest monthly report, covering January 2023. The CCRB, an independent municipal agency that investigates complaints of NYPD misconduct in preparation for its monthly board meetings, found that the 75th Precinct in eastern Brooklyn, covering East New York and Cypress Hills, had the highest number of misconduct complaints, at 13 incidents.
The report showed that, of the cases investigated, 44% were substantiated, 20% indicated that the officers operated within NYPD Guidelines, 21% had insufficient evidence to determine the case, 7% were unfounded and 7% were situations in which the first responder could not be identified or refused to provide name and badge number in a way untraceable.
POLICE SEARCH FOR SERIAL APPLE PRODUCT THIEF
CITYWIDE — A thief may be targeting New Yorkers who have Apple shopping bags or who are carrying Apple products, say police, who are searching for one man suspected of involvement in five separate incidents in Brooklyn and Manhattan in December and January, in which he approached pedestrians from behind, grabbed their personal belongings and fled on foot. The man is described as slim and 5’11’’ in height, with a dark complexion and black braided hair.
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.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING LOTTERY LAUNCHES AT 200 MONTAGUE ST.
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A lottery has launched for 38 affordable housing units at a newly constructed apartment building on Montague Street, reports New York YIMBY. One studio unit is available for applicants with incomes at 80% of the area median income; while the rest of the units, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, are reserved for those who make 130% of the area median income.
Prospective residents can find more information and applications on NYC’s Housing Connect website, until the lottery closes April 3.
THREE BROOKLYN BED BATH & BEYOND STORES TO CLOSE
SUNSET PARK — Three Brooklyn Bed Bath & Beyond stores will be closing their doors as part of a national move by the struggling retailer to cut losses in the face of a potential bankruptcy following a default on its $550 million debt with J.P. Morgan last week, reports NBC News. Along with 87 stores closing nationally and 66 closing in the tristate area, Brooklyn will be losing the Industry City, Gateway Center and Atlantic Avenue locations of the chain.
The Industry City location, which opened in 2016, currently plays host to Brooklyn’s beloved Captain America statue.
KYRIE IRVING RUMORED TO HEAD TO MAVERICKS
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Embattled Nets player Kyrie Irving will be traded to the Dallas Mavericks alongside fellow Net Markieff Morris, in exchange for ex-Nets player Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and several draft picks for upcoming years, sources have told NBA.com. The deal follows years of conflict with the player over COVID vaccinations and antisemitic Tweets, and comes after reports that Irving asked to leave Brooklyn and subsequently refused to play until traded.
Nets fans appear to be done with Kyrie as well, as the player’s image was greeted by boos during Saturday night’s game when shown on the Jumbotron at Barclays center.
MTA SHOWS OFF NEW SUBWAY CARS, HOPES FOR 2023 LAUNCH
CITYWIDE — The MTA on Friday gave the public a first look at its new R211 subway cars, which feature wider doors, digital displays, handicap accommodations and security cameras; which it hopes to bring into service on the A and C lines by the end of the year, according to the New York Post. The city also showed off a model of a controversial new “open gangway” design, which would join cars together without doors — a move opposed by some who believe this will cause foul odors to spread through entire trains.
The new cars are part of the MTA’s efforts to support record levels of ridership as pandemic-era restrictions wind down.
ROLLER RINK POP-UP COMING TO ATLANTIC TERMINAL
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A 9,000-square-foot pop-up roller rink, operated by Black-owned skate event host The Roller Wave, will be landing in Atlantic Terminal on Feb. 11. The venue will honor the influence of Black culture on roller skating for Black History Month, including the historic peak of roller disco in 1970’s Brooklyn, while also updating the pastime with modern twists like live music and catered food, as well as family and community programming.
“Mid-century Black Americans laid the groundwork for the evolution of roller skating. We are very excited to put the spotlight back on the Brooklyn community, and the Atlantic Terminal Mall is the perfect epicenter to celebrate the community in an authentic and innovative way,” said The Roller Wave founder Harry Martin in a press statement.
PROSPECT PARK ALLIANCE TO HOLD LAKESHORE RESTORATION MEETING
PARK SLOPE — The Prospect Park Alliance will be holding a Virtual Design Workshop on the restoration of the shoreline of the Prospect Park Lake, the only lake in Brooklyn, on Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. The meeting will involve a presentation of plans for the project — which has received $3 million in preliminary funding from the City Council and the mayor out of an estimated $20 million needed — followed by breakout groups for discussion and feedback.
Interested parties can register to attend the Zoom online on the Prospect Park Alliance website.
PICKPOCKET GANG STRIKING BROOKLYN NIGHTCLUBS
WILLIAMSBURG — Police are warning nightclub partiers to be aware of their surroundings, as a group of thieves have been reportedly targeting popular venues Elsewhere and Avant Gardner in Williamsburg on at least four occasions starting in late January. Following the last reported incident on Jan. 22, three people, two women and one man, were recorded while trying to use a victim’s stolen credit card to make purchases at a shopping center in the Bronx, but have not yet been identified.
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.
NY POLS TO ANNOUNCE $37M FOR TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENT
LOWER EAST SIDE — A group of New York politicians and local advocates, including Brooklyn Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Dan Goldman, announced on Monday over $37 million in grant awards for New York state through the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program, including $21 million for projects in NYC. The money will be used to help improve road safety and reduce traffic fatalities statewide.
The group addressed the press and public at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, at the corner of Delancey and Norfolk streets in Manhattan.
CCRB SUBSTANTIATES POLICE VIOLENCE FROM 2020 GEORGE FLOYD PROTESTS
CITYWIDE — A larger, 590-page report that the Citizens Complaint Review Board released on Monday substantiated police violence against protestors in the 2020 protests against the George Floyd murder, also at the hands of police, in Minneapolis, with Brooklyn registering the most complaints. The NYPD’s response to the May 29, 2020 protest at Barclays Center brought in 25 complaints; another the next day in Flatbush provoked 28 complaints. A June 3 protest in Downtown Brooklyn provoked 24 complaints and a rally the following day brought in 14 complaints.
The protest complaints the CCRB received contained more than 1,800 distinct allegations of police misconduct against members of the public, with the largest percentage of these allegations for Use of Force at 64%, followed by Abuse of Authority at 20%, and Discourtesy at 12%. Offensive Language and Untruthful Statement allegations comprised 3% and 2% of the allegations, respectively.
MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE HITS TURKEY: 1200+ DEAD, 1000+ BUILDINGS DOWNED
TURKEY — An earthquake measuring a catastrophic 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the southeastern region of Turkey overnight, causing devastating damage to cities near the epicenter in both Turkey and Syria and sending out shockwaves felt as far away as Cyprus and Israel. Officials say that more than 1,200 people have been reported dead so far, but the death toll is expected to increase as rescue efforts reach hard-hit areas throughout the coming days. Although, the deployment of emergency personnel is being complicated by a rare snowstorm impacting the region, reports the New York Times, which is providing ongoing updates on the situation.
“We stand ready to provide any and all needed assistance. President Biden has directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess U.S. response options to help those most affected,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in a White House press statement on Sunday night.
Update: A second quake, estimated to measure 7.5 on the Richter scale, has struck the same region late Monday morning, causing further damage.
COVID VACCINATION FOR CITY WORKERS BECOMES OPTIONAL
CITYWIDE — Having the COVID-19 vaccination will become optional for current and prospective city workers effective this Friday, Feb. 10, following an expected ratification, at the next Board of Health meeting, to amendments governing NYC’s vaccination policy, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday, Feb. 6. At this point, the city has fully processed and issued decisions for all pending reasonable accommodation appeals.
While the approximately 1,780 former employees who were terminated for failing to submit proof of vaccination cannot automatically return to their previous positions, they will be eligible to apply for positions with their former agencies through existing city rules and regulations and hiring processes.
CITY SCHOOLS SHED VACCINATION REQUIREMENT
CITYWIDE — The city’s expected policy regarding COVID-19 vaccinations will apply also to Department of Education (DOE) employees, as will the vaccination requirements for nonpublic school, early child care, and daycare staff, also effective on Feb. 10. Visitors to school buildings will no longer be required to provide proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The change will allow students’ families and loved ones to attend school activities, celebrations, and events.
PINGPOD BUFFS CAN NOW PLAY IN DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — PingPod, building on the rapid success of its five New York City locations since their 2020 launch, is now expanding into Downtown Brooklyn, and will open its street-level doors Feb. 15. This second Brooklyn location, at 620 Fulton St., has 2,200 square feet, four tables, including a private pod, and will be close to the borough’s arts and sports corridor, including BAM and Barclays Center.
The PingPod business model is unique – a network of the world’s first tech-enabled autonomous (no onsite employees) table tennis “pods,” open 24/7. Pods are typically highly visible street-level retail spaces with one to six tables, available to rent in 30-minute increments through PingPod’s proprietary iOS or Web apps.
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