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What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, February 8, 2023

February 8, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BRIC TOWN HALL TO DISCUSS CITY’S NEW POLICY ON HOMELESS AND MENTALLY ILL PERSONS

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — BRIC TV and The City will bring together experts and leaders to discuss the housing crisis facing communities throughout Brooklyn, during a Town Hall on Thursday, Feb. 23.  The meeting, titled Healing with Housing: Decriminalizing the Unhoused & Mentally Ill,” will focus on the mayor’s recently-implemented policy stating that unhoused individuals who appear mentally ill can be forcibly hospitalized. Entry to the Town Hall, at BRIC House, 647 Fulton St., is first-come, first-served and online RSVPs are encouraged.

The meeting will also discuss the impact of various strategies to mitigate harm being done to mentally-ill persons to neighborhoods and families, and to create pathways toward economic justice.

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REP. CLARKE REAPPOINTED TO SEVERAL COMMITTEES IN NEW SESSION OF CONGRESS

BROOKLYN — Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-9th District), who has served portions of central and southern Brooklyn in Congress since 2007, has been reappointed to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Homeland Security. She will also be on several other committees in the 118th Congress, including the House Committee on Homeland Security, House Committee on Energy and Commerce; and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce, and Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials.

Congressional subcommittees function as subdivisions, considering specified matters and reporting back to the full committee.

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PHYSICIANS SERVING MEDICAID PATIENTS HAIL PRESIDENT BIDEN’S SPEECH

CITYWIDE — SOMOS, a leading physician-led network committed to lower-income neighborhoods, offering care in the languages of the community and representing nearly one million Medicaid patients, were among many who praised President Biden’s Feb. 7, State of the Union Address. “Since day one, President Biden and his Administration have made equity in healthcare a priority, they have visited our clinics, stood with us and our patients and ensured community doctors have a voice in key policy making decisions and a place at the table,” said Dr. Ramon Tallaj, chairman of SOMOS Community Care, and Dr. Henry Chen, SOMOS president.

They added, “SOMOS doctors care for 20% of the Medicaid patients in New York. We look forward to being a supportive partner to the Administration to improve preventative primary care services, patient navigation to support Americans facing cancer, and to tackle the growing mental health crisis in New York and across our nation.”

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JUDGE TESTIFIES ON RISING THREATS AGAINST JUDICIARY

ALBANY — As Acting Chief Administrative Judge Tamiko Amaker testified on Tuesday, Feb. 7, about the rising number of threats made against judges, an attack was in progress, targeting a jurist in Plattsburgh. During a joint legislative budget hearing, Judge Amaker said that judicial threats have increased 40% statewide during the past two years, from 225 incidents in 2020, to 322 in 2022; Office of Court Administration spokesman Lucien Chalfen said on Wednesday, adding that during the first five weeks of 2023, 16 threats in New York City have been investigated.

The threats can vary from stalking, inappropriate contacts, false and purposefully incendiary commentary on social media, harassing home phone calls, including to private cell phones. The court system’s Department of Public Safety has two units that address threats, one in New York City and one for the other counties.

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CITING GRIEVANCES, NBC JOURNALISTS PLAN IMMINENT JOB WALK-OFF

NATIONWIDE More than 200 journalists at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and its local affiliates announced Wednesday, Feb. 8, on Twitter that they will walk off the job Thursday. Among their grievances: that “NBC has repeatedly broken the law, disrespected the rights of its employees, and illegally terminated hard-working union journalists. Enough is enough.”

Among those planning to strike are reporters at @NBCNews, @MSNBC, and @TODAYshow. National Labor Law protects the rights of union workers to strike or walk off their jobs without being terminated.

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POLICE OFFICER SHOT IN ATTEMPTED CAR SALE SCAM LOSES LIFE

EAST NEW YORK — The off-duty police officer shot over the weekend by a career criminal during a scam-turned-robbery has passed away after spending days in the hospital in critical condition, reports CBS News. The gunman, Randy Jones, 36, has been charged with murder following the death.

The officer, Adeed Fayaz, 26, was a five-year veteran of the NYPD and is survived by a wife and two young children.

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DEPT. OF SOCIAL SERVICES CHIEF TO STEP DOWN AFTER 36 YEARS

CITYWIDE — NYC Department of Social Services commissioner Gary Jenkins announced on Tuesday his intention to step down from the post in March, reports NY1, after being appointed to the top post by the mayor in January of last year. The resignation comes as the city’s homeless care networks, which the department oversees, have been strained by the migrant crisis, leading to a breakdown in services and prompting Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to call for the Department of Homeless Services to be split from the larger department before a new head is appointed.

Commissioner Jenkins also brought his own experience living in a shelter as a child to the job, a unique understanding of the struggles families in shelters face, and a steadfast commitment to treating all of our clients with dignity and care. I’m incredibly grateful to Gary for his decades of service and wish him the very best in his next chapter,” wrote Mayor Adams in a press statement.

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SIMON TO HOST ‘JAVA WITH JO ANNE’ COFFEE SHOP CHAT

PARK SLOPE — Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon will be holding a community coffee shop meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9, to discuss concerns and events with her constituents in brownstone Brooklyn. Interested attendees can join Jo Anne on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Velvette Brew coffee shop on 5th Avenue.

Guests are asked to pre-register online.

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MAYOR ANNOUNCES CRACKDOWN ON GRAY-MARKET MARIJUANA STORES

CITYWIDE — Mayor Adams announced on Tuesday that the city would be stepping up enforcement efforts to crack down on stores operating in a legal gray area to sell marijuana and other cannabis products following the city’s legalization of the drug and steps towards recreational sales last year. Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, who joined the mayor at the announcement, said that the crackdown, which has so far seen nearly 400 stores receive shutdown letters and the seizure of more than $4 million in merchandise, was necessary to protect members of the public from inferior and unregulated cannabis products, which the mayor suggested may be contaminated by other drugs such as fentanyl, as well as to support NYC’s two officially licensed recreational dispensaries and to make sure no cannabis products were ending up in childrens’ hands.

New York’s dispensary licensing process has been criticized by some for being lengthy and restrictive, complaints which increased following a judge in November blocking the licenses entirely for Brooklynites.

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MAN ATTEMPTS SUICIDE IN BROOKLYN CRUISE TERMINAL SHELTER

RED HOOK — A 26-year-old man attempted to take his own life on Tuesday afternoon at the newly opened shelter for asylum seekers in Red Hook at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, reports the New York Post. The man allegedly attempted to wound himself with a razor blade in one of the bathrooms, before fortunately being discovered and taken to a hospital in stable condition.

The ongoing controversy over the cruise terminal shelter and the migrant crisis has caused significant debate as migrants say the Red Hook location is too far from Manhattan and has insufficient heat and supplies.

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BK JUDGE ORDERS COMPANY TO HALT SALES OF GUN CONVERSION GADGET

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A Brooklyn judge has issued a temporary restraining order instructing gun company Rare Breed Triggers to stop selling “forced reset triggers,” which are used to modify rifles to fire significantly faster, reports Gothamist. The U.S. government is seeking in a lawsuit to stop sales of the device for good, claiming that they are in violation of a federal law that prohibits the sales of machine guns, while firearms industry advocates say that the triggers do not technically run afoul of those regulations due to their design.

The company has also been accused of wire and mail fraud, as well as disobeying previous instructions from the ATF to cease sales of the triggers.

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BROOKLYN BUS REDESIGN COULD BE FLAWED: FORMER MTA DIRECTOR

BROOKLYN — A former top MTA official has penned an editorial in Bklyner suggesting that the MTA’s ongoing Brooklyn bus route redesign process may not be working to ensure that the needs of Brooklynites are adequately met. Allan Rosen, a former director of bus planning at the MTA, warns that the MTA’s community meetings have been sparsely attended due to a lack of notice given to the public, and that at the meetings questions are frequently unanswered and information is not always readily available for concerned residents.

Rosen also highlights ongoing community efforts to protest what appear to be reductions in service in proposed route plans, such as his own petition against eliminating bus stops and a petition from Councilmember Brannan against cuts in southern Brooklyn.

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Have you seen this missing teen? Any tips to authorities are strictly confidential.

TEENAGER MISSING IN EAST FLATBUSH

EAST FLATBUSH — Police are searching for 19-year-old Deandre Matthews, who was last seen leaving his East Flatbush home on the afternoon of Feb. 6. Matthews is described as a 5’4”, 180-pound man, with a dark complexion and black hair, wearing eyeglasses and a blue and red sweater.

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.

 

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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%). 

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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.

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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 fist-fighting 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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% from the current .08%, as well as lowering the limit for aggravated driving while intoxicated to .08% from the current .12% — moves which the lawmakers assert have led to an immediate 10% 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.

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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 continues 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.

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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 Senator Kirsten 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 2% 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 10% 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.

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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.

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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.


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