What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, February 21, 2023
LOCAL FILMMAKER WINS BROOKLYN MUSEUM’S UOVO PRIZE
CROWN HEIGHTS & BUSHWICK — The Brooklyn Museum awards its Fourth Annual UOVO Prize, which recognizes the work of emerging Brooklyn-based artists, to filmmaker Suneil Sanzgiri. As an UOVO Prize recipient, Sanzgiri will receive a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum; a commission for a fifty-by-fifty-foot public art installation on the facade of UOVO’s Brooklyn facility in Bushwick; and a $25,000 unrestricted cash grant.
According to an Italian-English dictionary and the UOVO Brooklyn’s website, uovo is the Italian word for “egg” and “reflects our central mission to safeguard and protect fragile objects.”
MEXICO’S HIGHEST-RANKING POLICE OFFICIAL CONVICTED IN BROOKLYN FEDERAL COURT
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The once-highest-ranking law enforcement official in Mexico is now a convicted felon, following a four-week jury trial with U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan in Brooklyn federal court. A federal jury on Tuesday, Feb. 21, convicted Genaro Garcia Luna, the former secretary of public security in Mexico from 2006-2012, of all five counts of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise that includes six drug-related violations, international cocaine distribution conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to import cocaine, and making false statements.
When sentenced, Luna faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life in prison.
FIRST MUSLIM AMERICAN APPOINTED TO VITAL NYPD OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
CITYWIDE — Mayor Eric Adams has appointed Muhammad U. Faridi as the independent civilian representative to the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Handschu Committee, which is named for the Handschu Guidelines. Mr. Faridi, who once served as law clerk to U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein at Brooklyn federal court, becomes the first Muslim American representative named to this important oversight panel.
Set forth under a 1985 consent decree, the Handschu Guidelines regulate the NYPD’s policies and practices regarding investigations of political activity.
DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN LAUNCHES ITS FIRST-EVER LENTEN PILGRIMAGE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Most Rev. Robert J. Brennan, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, begins a pilgrimage of 42 parishes in Brooklyn on Ash Wednesday — Feb. 22, this year — which marks the beginning of the Christian penitential season of Lent. Bishop Brennan will preside at a noon Mass and distribute ashes at St. James Cathedral-Basilica in Downtown Brooklyn, and then commence the Pilgrimage at St. James with Eucharistic Adoration. The faithful are invited to join Bishop Brennan at the different parishes throughout this first-ever Diocesan Lenten Pilgrimage and will receive a special liturgical passport to have stamped at each church after participating in the visits, which will include Mass, the rosary and time for reflection.
Earlier on Ash Wednesday, Bishop Brennan will celebrate a bilingual English/Polish Mass and distribute ashes at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Williamsburg.
REP. CLARKE JOINS HEALTH ADVOCATES TO DESCRIBE LEGISLATION SHE INTRODUCED
FLATBUSH — Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-9th District) will hold a press conference Tuesday evening, Feb. 21, on a bill she introduced in Congress last week to establish community health care hubs. The Health Center Community Transformation Hub Act would authorize specialized grants for the purpose of implementing these networks of community-based organizations capable of addressing primary social determinants of health, including access to transportation, food security, economic security, education access and quality, and more.
Joining Rep. Clarke, whose district includes much of Flatbush and East Flatbush, will be representatives from the Morris Heights Health Center, Advocates for Community Health, the Sun River Health and the Caribbean Women’s Health Association.
BROOKLYN POLITICIANS PRAISE BIDEN’S UKRAINE VISIT
CITYWIDE — President Biden’s wartime visit to Ukraine earned rave reviews from Brooklyn politicians, with Rep. Yvette Clarke writing on Twitter that it “represents the best of what our American presidency is capable of,” state Sen. Andrew Gounardes retweeting a post explaining how Biden traveled into the war-torn country, and House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries stating simply that he was “thankful for President Biden’s leadership” on Ukraine. Meanwhile, Rep. Daniel Goldman compared Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene of Georgia to the members of the Nazi-linked America First Committee, an isolationist group that opposed U.S. involvement in World War II, after she released an incendiary Tweet criticizing American aid packages and the visit.
Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a frequent Biden critic, stopped short of endorsing Biden’s trip, but Tweeted praise for Poland’s efforts to support Ukraine, referencing her own visit to the country as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation earlier this month.
BIDEN MEETS ZELENSKYY IN KYIV IN SURPRISE VISIT ON EUROPE TRIP
KYIV, UKRAINE — President Biden conducted a surprise visit to Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday, before Biden’s previously announced trip to Poland, for the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In addition to jointly addressing the public to affirm ties and condemn Russian aggression, Biden and Zelenskyy reportedly discussed further U.S. aid to Ukraine and toured parts of Kyiv, where Biden laid a wreath at a memorial to Ukraine’s war dead.
The move angered Russia’s Putin, who in a fiery speech on Tuesday threatened nuclear escalation and lashed out at the U.S. and other allies of Ukraine, alleging that they are conspiring to prolong the war for financial gain.
CRITICS CHARGE CORRUPTION AS HELIPAD CONTRACT GOES TO GOVT INSIDER
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — NYC’s Economic Development Corporation is facing accusations of nepotism after the contract for its Pier 6 helipad in downtown Manhattan was awarded again to current operator Saker Aviation, a company whose chairman, William Wachtel, runs the law firm Wachtel Missry with EDC board member Morris Missry. The New York Daily News reports that Missry did not recuse himself from the matter, as the EDC claimed the board members were not involved in the decision — but sources told the News that it was believed the company’s connections gave it a boost over other bidders for the contract.
Councilmember Lincoln Restler expressed concern at the appearance of impropriety and called on Twitter for the helipad to be shuttered entirely.
GANGSTER SET FREE AFTER $25K HANDBAG HEIST, AND MUGS BK TEEN
BED-STUY — A career criminal was nabbed in Bed-Stuy on Thursday after a police chase through the subways for allegedly assaulting and mugging a 14-year-old boy in a Brooklyn park in January, reports the New York Post. Charles Lindsay, 22, had previously been the subject of controversy in December after the Post reported that the Manhattan district attorney’s office had agreed to drop charges against him for stealing $25,000 in luxury goods from a string of Manhattan boutiques — in exchange for Lindsay agreeing to attend five sessions with a rehabilitative justice program, which sources told the Post he has not done.
Lindsay is reportedly also a suspect in the rape of a 15-year-old girl in March of last year, as well as several other robbery-related charges in 2022.
WALK THE BQE WITH TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES THIS WEEKEND
WILLIAMSBURG — Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives will be holding a series of Walk and Talks along the BQE starting this weekend, designed to educate residents about the expressway’s troubled history and encourage them to get involved in planning its future. This weekend’s walk will focus on the north section of the BQE and begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Macri Triangle in Williamsburg.
Walks focusing on the central and south portions of the BQE will be held on Saturday, March 4, and Saturday, March 18; registration forms for the walks and other information can be found on Eventbrite.
SNOWSTORM TO MISS NYC, BUT FREEZING TEMPS TO ARRIVE ANYWAY
NATIONWIDE — NYC will avoid the worst of the major storm set to bury upstate, along with a large swathe of the Midwest and West, in the snow later this week, reports CNN, but is still predicted to experience a sharp drop in temperatures by the weekend. Forecasts show temperatures dropping into the 30s on Saturday, after a recent stretch of balmy weather.
The massive storm, which is yet to be named, has the potential to affect parts of the country rarely touched by winter weather, such as Los Angeles.
UNITED TO PROVIDE FEE-FREE CHILDREN’S SEATS AFTER BIDEN CALLOUT
NATIONWIDE — United Airlines announced on Monday that it would be making it easier for parents to book seats next to their children on its flights in 2023, reports USA Today, rolling out an update to its online booking system by March that will display empty adjacent seats in its economy class and allow parents to select them at no extra cost. The announcement comes following a threat by President Biden in his State of the Union speech last week to crack down on airline “junk fees” squeezing parents and other travelers.
“We’ll prohibit airlines from charging up to $50 roundtrip for families just to sit together. Baggage fees are bad enough — they can’t just treat your child like a piece of luggage,” said Biden in his speech.
HOCHUL ANNOUNCES SUNY GABAY FULL SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
STATEWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul on Sunday announced this year’s five winners of the Carey Gabay Scholarship Program, which honors public servant and gun violence victim Carey Gabay, and is awarded to incoming SUNY students who exemplify Gabay’s commitment to social justice and leadership as well as his personal story of overcoming economic disadvantage and academic success. Brooklyn student Nicole Jackson, who is attending Stony Brook University, was selected for the scholarship in recognition of her advocacy work with cSTEP, a program designed to promote STEM for low-income students of color, following the loss of her own father to gun violence in her childhood.
The Carey Gabay Memorial Scholarship will cover all costs of attendance at four-year SUNY colleges, including tuition, room and board, college fees, books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses.
ICONIC BROOKLYN PIZZA PARLOR CLOSES
BENSONHURST — Iconic old-school pizza joint Lenny’s Pizza in Bensonhurst turned off its ovens for the final time on Friday after 70 years, in what owner Josephine Giordano, whose father Frank purchased the shop in 1988, called the “ending of an era.” Nostalgic customers from near and far lined up down the block outside to get a last slice from the neighborhood institution, which was made famous in the opening scene of the movie “Saturday Night Fever.”
“This is the end of Bensonhurst. It’s really sad,” local regular Steven Busch told amNY, reminiscing about his memories of the restaurant.
NEW EARTHQUAKE STRIKES TURKEY-SYRIA BORDER
TURKEY — Yet another major earthquake, measured at 6.4 on the Richter scale, struck the already-devastated southeastern region of Turkey, along with northern Syria, on Monday night, reports the BBC, causing further destruction to buildings and cities weakened by the two massive quakes two weeks ago. Reports from the epicenter near the city of Antakya (known in ancient times as Antioch) say that rescuers have returned to their grim task as more buildings have fallen, causing at least six deaths, in addition to the more than 46,000 people who perished in and after the earlier quakes in Turkey and Syria.
A Queens family were among the victims of the earlier quakes, and were honored with a vigil in Sunnyside last Saturday.
BROOKLYN CAT CAFÉ LOVE STORY WINS $50K PETCO PRIZE
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A love and betrothal story involving an injured cat named Capricornia and a human couple — Andrew and Colleen — has won a $50,000 prize from Petco Love, the Brooklyn Heights Blog reports. Capricornia was adopted from the acclaimed Brooklyn Cat Café, 76 Montague St. in Brooklyn Heights, established in 2016, which has welcomed more than a hundred thousand cats since.
The prize is part of the foundation’s Petco Love Stories, an annual campaign that invites pet adopters to share how their new companions have changed their lives, with 18 awards made each year.
BRIC HOSTS ‘HEALING WITH HOUSING’ TOWN HALL
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — BRIC, a leading, multi-disciplinary arts and media institution anchored in Downtown Brooklyn, will hold the second BHeard Town Hall in its series on housing insecurity in New York taking place at this Thursday, with livestream via YouTube, “Healing with Housing: Decriminalizing The Unhoused & Mentally Ill,” presented by BRIC TV in partnership with THE CITY, will bring together experts and political and community leaders to discuss the recent policy targeting unhoused New Yorkers who appear to be mentally ill and to explore a more proactive and sustainable approach to helping this vulnerable population.
Among the scheduled panelists for the Town Hall, taking place at BRIC House, are Kimberly Blair: Director of Public Policy & Advocacy, National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City, City Councilmember Crystal Hudson (D-35/Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill), mental health advocate Nevon Nash and Norman Siegal, veteran civil rights advocate & former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
FRANCIS COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM WINS GOLD EXCELLENCE AWARD
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Robert J. McGuire Scholarship Program at St. Francis College has won the 2022-2023 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Gold Excellence Award for First-Generation College Student Success. Named after a former New York City police commissioner, the Robert J. McGuire Scholarship Program was established at St. Francis College in 2015 by the Fred and Judy Wilpon Foundation, with the goal of supporting 15 college students each academic year with tuition and wraparound services for them to persevere in higher education; St. Francis College has exceeded that goal, accepting 20 to 30 students to the program each academic year, 80% of the scholarship recipients being first-generation college students.
McGuire Scholars who have graduated from St. Francis College have pursued careers at companies such as National Grid, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, PKF O’Connor Davies, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and Weill-Cornell Medicine and they mentor current scholarship recipients.
FRANCIS COLLEGE REPORTEDLY SELLING REMSEN ST. CAMPUS TO DEVELOPER
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — St. Francis College will be selling its longtime campus on Remsen and Joralemon streets in Brooklyn Heights, following its expansion and move last fall into the Downtown Livingston St. corridor, according to a report in The Real Deal. Izak Senbahar’s Alexico Group, famous for its “Jenga Tower” in Tribeca, is reportedly in contract to purchase the five-building Brooklyn Heights campus (with addresses including 180 Remsen St. and 185 Joralemon St., for nearly $200 million.
St. Francis College, whose student body has grown steadily in recent years, will continue to have a presence in Brooklyn Heights, notably through its new dormitory at 97 Columbia Heights, the site of the famous Margaret Hotel, according to the school’s Admissions web page.
ABANDONED ALLIGATOR RESCUED FROM PROSPECT PARK LAKE
PROSPECT PARK — A 4-foot-long alligator dubbed “Godzilla” was rescued from Prospect Park Lake on Sunday, Feb. 19, and was believed to have been illegally released into the Brooklyn greenspace, the Daily News reports. The Parks Department said that the reptile, native to the U.S. South, was discovered in poor and “very lethargic condition,” as American alligators thrive in milder climates, and need sunlight and warmer water temperatures both to survive and continue feeding.
The Parks Enforcement Patrol and Urban Park Rangers advise that members of the public who spot an abandoned animal should call 311 or notify an urban park ranger.
ADAMS’ ADMINISTRATION REACHES ITS FIRST MAJOR LABOR CONTRACT DEAL WITH DC37
CITYWIDE — The City of New York has reached a tentative five-plus year contract agreement with District Council 37 (DC 37) — NYC’s largest public employee union — on Friday, Feb. 17, the first major one under Mayor Eric Adams’ administration. This agreement, which will cover nearly 90,000 municipal employees — or one-fourth of the city’s total unionized workforce — is retroactive, from May 26, 2021 and expiring Nov. 6, 2026, and includes wage increases of 3% for each of the first four years of the contract, and 3.25% in the final year and includes a lump sum ratification bonus for all DC 37 members.
Also, part of the agreement which the union must first ratify, are a major investment in a child care trust fund established and administered by DC 37, dedicated funding for improved retention and recruitment efforts, and a committee to explore flexible work options — including remote work.
GILLIBRAND, RUBIO PUSH FOR NEW UFO OFFICE FUNDING AFTER ‘BALLOONGATE’
WASHINGTON — Amid heightened focus on airborne national security risks, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Marco Rubio are leading a bipartisan push for full funding of their Unidentified Aerial Phenomena office, which was created in 2022 to work with the Department of Defense and the intelligence community to investigate UAP sightings and concerns, and to provide Congress with briefings and reports on UAPs. Current funding falls short of what the office needs to fulfill its mission and “maintain American air supremacy,” according to a letter sent from the senators to the DOD and the Deputy Director of National Intelligence.
This push comes following weeks of concern over the discovery of several apparent balloons floating high above the North American continent, at least one of which was found to be carrying Chinese surveillance equipment.
UNITARIAN CHURCH TO HOST CONCERT: YOUTH IN A ROMAN FIELD, RAQUEL VIDAL
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The Voices in the Heights concert series at the First Unitarian Congregational Society’s McKinney Chapel is set to kick off its 2023 season this weekend with performances from singer-songwriters Raquel Vidal and Kelly Lin Knott alongside folk band Youth in a Roman Field. The musicians offer something for everyone – Vidal’s songs are described as dark, velvety and cinematic and Lin Knott’s as upbeat and irreverent; while Youth in a Roman Field, featuring fiddler Claire Wellin, delivers surrealist, progressive folk music.
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 and can also be viewed live online; tickets are pay-what-you-want in advance or $20 at the door and can be purchased on Voices in the Heights’ website.
KIA, HYUNDAI TO UPDATE SECURITY SOFTWARE AFTER VIRAL TIKTOK THEFTS
NATIONWIDE — Automaker Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia have been forced to issue a new, free software update for more than 8 million vehicles with traditional key ignitions following the exposure of a critical security flaw that has led to the thefts of thousands of their cars, spurred on by the viral TikTok “Kia challenge,” in which people filmed themselves using the exploit to break into the cars and take them on joyrides. The Verge reports that beginning next week, car owners will be able to bring certain models to dealerships and have technicians install a software update that will modify the cars to only start when unlocked with the key fob, in addition to extending the cars’ alarm durations from 30 seconds to one minute.
Hyundai owners can enter their VIN on Hyundai’s new anti-theft website to find out when the update might be available for their specific make and model, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of these vehicles to contact Hyundai (toll-free at 800-633-5151) or Kia (toll-free at 800-333-4542) for further information on the free update.
NYC HOME BUYERS JUMP ON SHARP MORTGAGE RATE DROP
CITYWIDE — A new report from StreetEasy showed that inquiries on its listings jumped more than 21 percent between December and January of this year, following a sharp reduction in mortgage rates that saw the average NYC buyer’s budget increase by $83,000. The company says that January is usually a hot month for home sales, but that this year’s jump in inquiries is close to the strongest they’ve seen, behind only January of 2022.
Although real estate markets have calmed since peaking during the pandemic, demand still remains strong in Brooklyn, partially due to low inventory.
STUDY FINDS COVID INFECTION PROVIDES EARLY NATURAL IMMUNITY
NATIONWIDE — A new study published in The Lancet on Thursday showed that people infected with COVID-19 acquire strong immunity to reinfections, reports NBC News, with the risk of hospitalization from reinfections falling by 88% in the ten months after initial sickness. Experts cautioned, however, that natural immunity in people infected with early COVID variants did not protect as much against the Omicron variant, with reinfection protection falling to only 36% by the tenth month after, and that mRNA vaccines are still the optimal choice.
“The problem of saying ‘I’m gonna get infected to get immunity’ is you might be one of those people who ends up in the hospital or dies. Why would you take the risk when you can get immunity through vaccination quite safely?” senior study author Dr. Christopher Murray told NBC.
REYNOSO TO HOST COMMUNITY RESOURCE INFORMATION SESSION
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Borough President Antonio Reynoso, along with the Human Resources Administration, will host the opening session of his new community resource information series at the new Brooklyn Heights Library on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m., which will serve to connect Brooklynites with available resources and support. The first session will discuss cash assistance, employment services, child support services and homelessness prevention, among other topics; and will also involve local nonprofits tabling to reach out to residents.
“Resources are no good if no one knows they’re there or if they’re too hard to access… This upcoming session with HRA/DSS will be the perfect start of our new series connecting people with support,” said Reynoso in a press release.
SUCCESSFUL TEST FLIGHT OF NEW QUIET ELECTRIC ‘AIR TAXI’
WESTCHESTER — Two aerospace companies completed a successful test flight of a new electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft in White Plains on Tuesday, reports Bloomberg, in a milestone that could represent a quieter future for New Yorkers tired of helicopter noise. The new aircraft, which ascends vertically like a helicopter but flies like a plane, is reportedly only one-tenth as loud as traditional helicopters, which could help it beat proposed legislation banning helicopter flights over NYC, while providing an alternative form of transit to well-heeled commuters fed up with city traffic.
The challenge for the two companies, air transport operator Blade Air Mobility and builder Beta Technologies, will be in obtaining regulatory permission for the craft and in building a network of electric charging stations to support flights.
MIXED MEDIA ARTIST PRESENTS BLACK HISTORY MONTH EXHIBIT
RED HOOK — Mixed-media artist Demarcus McGaughey will hold an Artist Talk on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. at Ti Art Studios in Red Hook on his new series “Kindred,” which honors the ancestry of Black Americans while acknowledging the cultural contribution of his family beyond enslavement. For “Kindred,” McGaughey used paper collage, inherited fabrics that belonged to the artist’s grandmother, acrylic, resin, family photo albums, boxes of snapshots and generations of weathered tales to create art documenting his history and culture, in the hope that viewers “will see you and your family in his.”
“Kindred” will be on display in the Sweet Lorraine Gallery at Ti Art Studios from Feb. 4 through Feb. 26.
REP. CLARKE INTRODUCES RESOLUTION TO CLEAR NAME OF CIVIL RIGHTS ICON MARCUS GARVEY
CENTRAL BROOKLYN — Legislation calling for the exoneration of Marcus Garvey from his mail fraud conviction and identifying him as a champion for the liberation of people of African descent was introduced in Congress on Friday, Feb. 17, with First Vice-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-09/central Brooklyn) who, like Garvey, immigrated from Jamaica; and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) leading the cause. Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born Black nationalist and leader of the Pan-Africanism movement that sought to unify and connect people of African descent worldwide, was in the United States a noted civil rights activist, albeit controversial among some Blacks who were suspicious of his alleged meetings with the Ku Klux Klan and other groups.
Edgar Hoover, who in 1922 was head of the then-named Bureau of Investigation, led the charges against Garvey. The resolution introduced on Friday also calls for President Biden to take necessary action toward clearing his name.
COMPTROLLER LANDER PRAISES DC 37 AGREEMENT, PARTICULARLY ON FLEXIBLE WORK OPTIONS
CITYWIDE — City Comptroller Brad Lander is praising Friday’s tentative labor agreement with City Hall and District Council 37, which is New York’s largest public employees’ union. “Today’s agreement between the City of New York and District Council 37 brings welcome clarity about future labor costs as we enter budget season. My office looks forward to analyzing the implications of today’s agreement for the City’s budget, as well as efforts to retain and hire staff in critical positions,” Lander said.
Mentioning that his own office recently finalized hybrid work policies after a successful hybrid model, Lander is “pleased that the agreement includes a path forward to expand remote and flexible work options for employees, as well as targeted salary adjustments for hard-to-recruit positions, both recommendations included in our office’s ‘Title Vacant’ report in December on filling critical workforce vacancies in City government.”
NEWLY-INTRODUCED BILL WOULD AUTHORIZE GRANTS TO COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS AND HUBS
CENTRAL BROOKLYN — U.S. Rep Yvette D. Clarke (D-9th District) on Friday, February 17 introduced the Health Center Community Transformation Hub Act, legislation that will authorize specialized grants to community health centers to implement community transformation hubs capable of addressing primary social determinants of health, including access to transportation, food security, economic security, education access and quality. Community Health Centers act as hyper-local hubs that provide consumer-driven comprehensive care, screening for social risk factors and working to improve clinical care and quality of life for their communities.
According to Uniform Data System data, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funded CHCs served more than 30 million patients in 2021, a 43% increase over the past decade.
PUBLIC ADVOCATE, LIKE OTHER CITY OFFICIALS PRAISES FLEXIBLE WORK OPTIONS IN DC37 CONTRACT
CITYWIDE — Public Advocate Jumaane Williams echoed other city officials in his praise of Friday’s tentative labor agreement between the city and the union District Council 37, particularly on the point of workplace flexibility. Calling the agreement “one which reflects the values and priorities of working people in and employed by our city,” Public Advocate Williams said, “I assume that this pilot program will determine what so many private sector companies, as well as our own office, have long known – that flexible hybrid and remote work options are not only feasible but necessary, both to recruit and retain talent and to provide invaluable work-life balance and support for employees.”
Williams added, “I hope that this agreement, if ratified, sets a path and a standard, a starting point for the rest of the city’s unionized workforce that recognizes the benefits of and need for a flexible new approach to modern, inclusive workplaces.”
GEORGE WASHINGTON MAKES SPECIAL RETURN APPEARANCE IN NEW UTRECHT
NEW UTRECHT — He may be a day late for his birthday, but Founding Father George Washington will return to New Utrecht next Thursday. Friends of Historic New Utrecht announced a special free performance with Washington portrayer Michael Grillo, on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p,m. The New Utrecht Reformed Church parish house on 18th Avenue is hosting the event.
Washington’s birthday was traditionally observed on Feb. 22 until the creation of Presidents’ Day, which marks both Washington’s and Lincoln’s days of birth and which falls on the third Monday in February.
PREVENTING ‘FATBERGS’: THROW IN TRASH, NOT INTO THE PLUMBING
CITYWIDE — The NYC Department of Environmental Protection is running an awareness campaign to stop residents from flushing “flushable wipes” down the toilet or pouring cooking oil down the drain. “Trash It. Don’t Flush It,” (in the Community Board 11 newsletter) which explains the dangers that the synergistic combining of “fatbergs” can wreak on sewer systems, instructs residents instead to throw flushable wet wipes in the trash; and to pour used cooking oil into a container, label it accordingly, and place it with the regular garbage pickup.
The term “fatberg” combines the words “fat” and “iceberg” to describe the masses of congealed grease and personal hygiene products that have been found lingering in sewers around the world. Some municipalities around the U.S. offer recycling of used cooking grease.
INVESTING IN HYDROPONIC FARMING FOR CLASSROOMS
FORT GREENE AND BUSHWICK — Hydroponic farm classrooms will be coming to 20 schools around New York City, thanks to $800,000 in checks that U. S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-7th District) presented to benefit the Community Project Funding for NY Sun Works at three representative schools. The hydroponic farm classrooms will provide hands-on, project-based environmental science and climate education and access to fresh, nutritious produce for students and families. Rep. Velázquez presented checks at P.S. 67/ Charles A. Dorsey School in Fort Greene and P.S. 299 Thomas Warren Field School in Bushwick, both on Feb. 16, and a school in Queens the next day.
Hydroponic technology is indoor vertical farming that enables the cultivation of plants in an environment free of weather extremes. Hydroponic plants receive energy from LED lighting that is tailored specifically to the needs of the plants, and seeds are planted in soil-free growth mediums.
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