What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, February 22, 2023
FREELANCE ISN’T FREE BILL REINTRODUCED AFTER GOVERNOR HOCHUL’S PRIOR VETO
STATEWIDE — State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-22) and Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D-Rochester) have reintroduced their Freelance Isn’t Free bill (S5026), which would protect contract and freelance workers from wage theft by ensuring all freelancers receive appropriate contracts for their work, are paid within 30 days of their work, and have state support to recoup unpaid wages. A prior version of the bill, S8369, was passed by the legislature last session but ultimately vetoed by the Governor late last year.
The state-wide Freelance Isn’t Free legislation would build on a 2017 New York City bill, introduced by then-Councilmember Brad Lander by requiring written contracts to be given for any worker receiving more than $800 for their work, and providing workers with additional financial remedies if the contractor tries to avoid paying them.
GROUND BROKEN FOR BAY RIDGE CENTER EXPANSION
BAY RIDGE — The Bay Ridge Center will be receiving $2 million in federal funds from Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwest Brooklyn) so that critical renovations and upgrades can be made to its senior center. Specifically, the Bay Ridge Center will use the funding to improve its senior center’s drop-off area and entrance, install new ADA-compliant bathrooms, add a food-prep kitchen, upgrade its electrical HVAC systems, and install fire protection including a new sprinkler system. Additionally, Malliotakis joined Bay Ridge Center leadership in breaking ground on a new 21,000-square-foot facility to meet the expanding needs of current clients and the community.
The NYC Department for the Aging has identified Southwest Brooklyn as a community expecting a significant increase (greater than 75%) in demand for senior services over the next seven to eight years.
COINEX CRYPTOCURRENCY PLATFORM SUED FOR FAILURE TO REGISTER AS BROKER-DEALER
STATEWIDE — New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued cryptocurrency platform COINEX (CoinEx), for failing to register as a securities and commodities broker-dealer and for falsely representing itself as a crypto exchange. Through this enforcement action, Attorney General James seeks to permanently stop CoinEx from operating in New York through its website and mobile apps.
The Martin Act, which was passed more than a century ago (1921) and used very infrequently until former State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s administration, is a state anti-fraud law that grants the Attorney General of New York expansive law enforcement powers in conducting securities fraud investigations and to bring criminal or civil action against violators.
D LINE TRACKWORK WILL CLOSE ADJACENT STREETS
BENSONHURST — The MTA will be doing main line track and switch replacement along the D subway line in Bensonhurst, requiring the closure of several streets as well, on four consecutive weekends through March 19. Brooklyn Community Board 11, which serves the neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Mapleton and Gravesend, reports that beginning this Friday, Feb. 24, and ending on Sunday, March 19, scheduled working hours will be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays for preparatory work which includes the staging of street cranes, track panels, and other related materials; and 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, for track removal and installation.
Affected roadways for the Friday and weekend timeframes are 64th Street between New Utrecht and 15th avenues; and 65th Street between 14th and 15th avenues. Saturday/Sunday closures only for two blocks of New Utrecht Ave. between 64th and 66th streets.
AMERICAN BOARD OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE WELCOMES MAIMONIDES ER CHAIR
BOROUGH PARK/MIDWOOD — John Marshall, MD, Chair of Emergency Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center, has been elected to the American Board of Emergency Medicine’s Board of Directors. An Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan providing critical care transport, Dr. Marshall has expanded Maimonides Medical Center’s academic and educational offerings since joining the organization in 2003, and has led the development of seven Emergency Medicine fellowship programs and a state-of-the art Simulation Center,
Dr. Marshall, who also leads the Emergency Medicine department at Maimonides Midwood Community Hospital and the soon-to-open Maimonides Bay Ridge Emergency Department, has published extensively on emergency medicine, and is an editor of the textbook, “Critical Care Emergency Medicine.”
CITY COMPTROLLER WILL AUDIT NYCHA REPAIRS AND EVICTION RATES
CITYWIDE — Residents of New York City Housing Authority developments and City Comptroller Brad Lander have prioritized two audits: The Comptroller’s Bureau of Audit will review both the New York City Housing Authority’s repair process and the eviction rates at RAD/PACT developments. The repair process audit will analyze how NYCHA selects contractors hired to conduct repair work, the quality of work performed, and the thoroughness of evaluations. For example, the problem of closed tickets for incomplete repairs arose often.
Previous reviews that the City Comptroller’s Office found that a quick response field review of building entry doors at NYCHA developments found that nearly 60% of residential building entrance doors were open and/or had broken locks — a dramatic increase from 23.5% in a similar field review conducted in 2018.
STARBUCKS URGED TO CONDUCT WORKERS’ RIGHTS PROBE
CITYWIDE — Starbucks shareholders are being urged to vote for the company to conduct an independent workers’ rights assessment, after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued dozens of complaints against Starbucks, according to a letter that City Comptroller Brad Lander and a coalition of investors sent to the beverage company. Lander and the investors coalition are concerned about Starbucks’ reported interference with worker organizing, and that such behavior may create reputational, legal and operational risks for the company and impact long-term value.
The letter requests that the board commission and oversee a third-party assessment of management’s adherence to Starbucks’ stated commitments to workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. It also requests that the assessment address management non-interference and take steps to remedy any practices found to be inconsistent with Starbucks’ stated commitments.
MAIMONIDES HEALTH RECEIVES $1.65M GRANT FOR ITS COMMUNITY CARE OF BROOKLYN NAVIGATOR PROGRAM
BOROUGH PARK — Thanks to bipartisan Congressional teamwork, Maimonides Health has received a federal grant that will dramatically scale up the Community Care of Brooklyn Navigator program, a centralized virtual center that connects Brooklynites to a network of community-based organizations that provide medical, behavioral health, and social services. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Representatives Nicole Malliotakis (D-11/southwestern Brooklyn) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) secured $1.65 million in funds that will enable the CCB Navigator program to serve up to 7,000 patients, an exponential increase from just over 200 during its 2022 soft launch.
This grant, considered vital to expanding the CCB Brooklyn at this safety-net hospital, will support workforce development programs to hire and train additional care navigators; provide the IT infrastructure needed to increase referrals for up to 25 times more patients; and deliver those referrals and care coordination for up to 7,000 patients each year.
TWO BROOKLYN CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS WILL BE HONORED
BROWNSVILLE — House Democratic Leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-8) and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-9) will be honored this Friday at a Black History Month Award Ceremony and Reception with Caribbean Americans Globally United, Inc. CAGU will honor Rep. Jeffries, the first person of color to be elected leader of a party in Congress and Yvette D. Clarke, on her election as First Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. The public is invited to this event, taking place at Bethesda Healing House in Brownsville.
CAGU is a coalition of Caribbean American leaders in Brooklyn that advocates for the interests and empowerment of Caribbean Americans in New York and throughout the United States.
‘MAKE IT IN BROOKLYN’ FEMALE FOUNDERS PITCH CONTEST
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Brooklyn is home to more female-founded startups than any other city in the U.S. declares the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which is inviting women business owners to participate in the Make it In Brooklyn Female Founders Pitch Contest. Women entrepreneurs may apply for one of the 5 spots to showcase their companies as a top selection of NYC’s female-led startups, and a chance to win $5,000, community support, media coverage and visibility.
Contest finalists will be pitching to expert judges including Shivika Arora, Product Manager at JP Morgan Chase; Faye Penn, executive vice president, NYC Economic Development Corp.; Eastin Rossell, venture associate at HearstLab; and Adriana Samaniego, principal of the Female Founders Fund.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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