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What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, March 23, 2023

March 23, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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PANEL DISCUSSION ON DOMESTIC ABUSE SURVIVORS

CROWN HEIGHTS — “Criminalized Survivors” is a term given to victims of domestic abuse — most frequently women — who are often mistreated or dismissed by the law enforcement agencies to whom they turn for help. This issue will be the topic of a Women’s History Month panel discussion taking place Wednesday, March 29, at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights, with Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez as a speaker. RSVP for the discussion, titled “Criminalized Survivors: Working to Support Domestic Abuse Survivors at the Root Cause,” via [email protected].

“The Domestic Violence Bureau investigates and prosecutes over 10,000 cases of intimate partner violence each year, with criminal charges ranging from misdemeanor assault to homicide,” according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office website.

 

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WITH HATE CRIMES ON RISE, SECURITY GRANT PROGRAMS APPLICATION PERIOD OPENS

NATIONWIDE — The application period has opened for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, announced U.S. Rep Dan Goldman (D-10) on Thursday, March 23. The Nonprofit Security Grant Program awards capital to nonprofit organizations — including houses of worship — to invest in security enhancements including safety planning, training, and exercises, contract security guards, access/entry controls, security cameras, external lighting and more. Application deadline is Thursday, April 20.

These grants are available to worship venues, religious schools, and other nonprofits that are potential targets of an increasing number of hate crimes, particularly antisemitic assaults, which have risen by 34%.

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FIGHT CONTINUES OVER MEDICARE PLAN FOR RETIRED CITY EMPLOYEES

CITYWIDE — Municipal retirees are charging that Mayor Adams has refused to authorize an implementation plan named Option C which would allow them to keep their traditional Medicare coverage and their doctors, according to an article in the Wednesday, March 22 Daily News. The implementation plan would have given retirees a choice of staying on the federal government’s traditional Medicare plan, rather than be moved involuntarily to a controversial private Advantage plan to save the city money.

A large segment of city workers — retired and active — rallied last week to keep the traditional plan that would allow them to continue seeing their doctors and receiving treatment without fear of denials. Marianne Pizzitola, a retired EMT and leader of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, vowed to again sue the Adams administration, which had actually included this Option C in the contract.

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STATE SENATE PASSES BILL REQUIRING CELL PHONE COMPANIES TO MEET CLIMATE GOALS

STATEWIDE — The New York State Senate this week passed Senator Kevin Parker’s bill requiring cellular telephone companies to invest in long-term solutions to ensure the state meets its climate goals and to eliminate the use of nonrenewable energy sources. The legislation requires cellular service providers to submit plans to the New York State Public Service Commission on converting all cell towers to 100% renewable-energy-powered by 2031.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which State Senator Parker ((D-21/Flatbush to Bergen Beach) sponsored and which next heads to the State Assembly, sets goals for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050.

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BIG APPLE CONNECT EXPANDS TO MORE NYCHA HOUSING SITES

CITYWIDE — Big Apple Connect, the nation’s largest municipal broadband program, is being expanded by nearly 50%, providing free internet and basic cable television service to a total of 202 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments, and reaching approximately 300,000 New Yorkers. Making the announcement on Thursday, March 23, Mayor Eric Adams and Chief Technology Officer and New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) Commissioner Matthew Fraser explained that existing Optimum and Spectrum customers living in NYCHA developments where ‘Big Apple Connect’ is active will be automatically enrolled in the program and will be billed only for additional services they choose to buy. New customers will be given opportunities to sign up.

OTI has now expanded ‘Big Apple Connect’ to an additional 67 NYCHA developments since last fall’s full launch of the program.

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BROOKLYN GIGABIT CENTER LAUNCHES

CROWN HEIGHTS — On Wednesday,  LinkNYC, in partnership with the NYC Office of Technology and Innovation, ZenFi Networks,  tech education non-profit Digital Girl and special guest Grandmaster Flash, dedicated the state-of-the-art Brooklyn Gigabit Center in the Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center in Crown Heights. The center offers free high-speed internet access for the local community, along with tech education workshops for students and access to tablets, laptops and workstations, in an effort to bridge the “digital divide,” or the unequal access to high-speed internet in lower-income neighborhoods, especially in communities of color and for schoolchildren. 

“The Brooklyn Gigabit Center will not only provide individuals from all walks of life with reliable, free internet, but it will ensure opportunities for education and growth reach those same people through its plentiful STEM programs – serving the diversity, equity and inclusion priorities that are key to the future of our community. I am proud to join the chorus of celebration at its opening,” said U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke.

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ESCAPED COW SPARED FROM SLAUGHTERHOUSE

CANARSIE — The calf that escaped a Canarsie slaughterhouse on Tuesday has been spared, reports ABC News, and will spend the rest of its life at an animal sanctuary in New Jersey. Mike Stura, who runs the Skylands Animal Sanctuary, told ABC that the slaughterhouse was initially reluctant to release the calf, but eventually agreed.

The cow’s dramatic escape had crowds of pedestrians running after it in an attempt to recapture it, leading workers on a chase through the Canarsie streets before eventually being lassoed on Avenue M.

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MTA ANNOUNCES STROLLER BUS PROGRAM EXPANSION

CITYWIDE — The MTA on Thursday announced that its popular bus Open Stroller Pilot will begin Phase II, with more than 1,000 more buses on 57 routes in all five boroughs set to be retrofitted with designated stroller spaces by the fall of 2023. The addition of dedicated stroller spaces –  either an open space near the rear door or a space created by flipping up two side-by-side seats, depending on the bus model —  will allow riders with young children to board without needing to fold their strollers first.

In addition to the B1, which is already part of the program, Brooklyn bus routes featuring an open stroller space will now include the B3, B6/6 LTD, B36, B64 and B74 lines; participating buses will be identified with a stroller decal on the outside of the bus that customers can easily see before boarding, with the designated space inside identified with a similar decal.

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HOCHUL SPEAKS ON INCREASING CANDIDA FUNGUS RISK

STATEWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday highlighted long-standing state efforts to prevent potentially life-threatening fungal infections from Candida auris, which are spreading at an increasing pace nationwide, after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report earlier this week warning of the increasing threat of infections the multidrug-resistant yeast is posing to health care facilities. In addition to having a nation-leading surveillance model, the governor’s office wrote in a press statement, the state’s Department of Health has worked with health care providers since 2016 to identify these fungal infections and take precautions to prevent it from spreading in high-risk settings, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, where the fungus can cause severe illness in patients who may not respond to commonly used antifungal drugs.

“It’s important that people understand that there is little risk from Candida auris to the general public. Candida auris typically infects people who are already sick, it is preventable by thorough hand washing and cleaned surfaces as well as personal protective equipment,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald.

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INDIGENOUS HISTORIAN TO LEAD NATIVE PLANTS TOUR AT BBG

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — In celebration of the spring equinox, Shinnecock Nation oral historian Chenae Bullock will be leading a tour of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Native Flora Garden this Sunday focusing on Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge. Bullock, the curator of the garden’s current “Ohkehteau (Plants of the Earth): A Shinnecock Oral History” exhibit, is an indigenous historian and cultural preservationist whose work centers around Northeast Algonquin canoe culture.

This tour will take place on Sunday, March 26, at 2 p.m.; the tour is free with BBG admission, and attendees are asked to meet at the north entrance to the Native Flora Garden.

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NETS, LIBERTY TO HOST BASKETBALL CLINICS IN SCHOOLS

CITYWIDE — The Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty on Wednesday began a first-of-its-kind partnership with NYC’s public schools, in which the teams will provide free basketball clinics to elementary and middle schools in Brooklyn during gym periods, teaching students basketball fundamentals along with critical off-the-court life and leadership skills. While the teams were previously operating after-school clinics at Brooklyn schools on an individual basis, this expansion will bring the excitement of the NBA and WNBA to more students, providing kids with physical and mental conditioning as well as the benefits associated with regular group physical activity.

Every week, the Nets and Liberty will host 20 clinics operated by youth basketball coaches from the teams at various schools on a rolling basis; over the course of the year, all elementary and middle schools in Brooklyn will have a chance to participate in the program, reaching approximately 50,000 youth by the end of 2023.

Nets star Cam Johnson faced off against a younger lookalike at the inaugural clinic at Sunset Park’s P.S. 001 on Wednesday.

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NEW BILL WOULD GIVE AUTHORITIES MORE POWER TO CLOSE ILLEGAL CANNABIS STORES

STATEWIDE — New legislation that Governor Kathy Hochul has introduced would increase the civil and tax penalties for the unlicensed and illicit sale of cannabis in New York, and provide additional enforcement power to the Office of Cannabis Management and the Department of Taxation and Finance to enforce the new regulatory requirements and close stores engaged in the illegal sale of cannabis. The new legislation, which is being introduced as a governor’s program bill in the Senate and Assembly, amends the Tax Law and the Cannabis Law to enable the Office of Cannabis Management, the Department of Taxation and Finance and local law enforcement to impose restrictions on unlicensed storefront dispensaries.

Because an ongoing lawsuit blocks dispensaries from opening in Brooklyn, this borough would bear a significant brunt in penalties.

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YEMENI AMERICAN MERCHANTS TO HOST ATLANTIC AVE. RAMADAN LIGHTING

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The Yemeni American Merchants Association, along with the Atlantic Avenue BID, will be hosting a Ramadan holiday lighting ceremony on Wednesday, illuminating Atlantic Avenue between Court and Clinton streets and between 3rd and 4th avenues to celebrate the start of the Islamic holy month, during which Muslims commemorate the prophet Mohammad’s first religious revelation through fasting and prayer. “The holiday lights are meant as a gesture of friendship toward the community’s long-standing and thriving Muslim-owned businesses,” wrote the group in a press release, noting that they hope also to expand the decorations to further blocks in years to come.

The lighting ceremony is set for Wednesday, March 22, at 2 p.m. at Masjid Al-Farooq near the Barclays Center; Brooklyn BP Antonio Reynoso will attend, along with Councilmembers Shahana Hanif and Lincoln Restler and local community leaders.

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BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN OFFERING MAGNOLIA TOURS THIS WEEKEND

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is celebrating spring with a series of magnolia blossom tours on Saturday, March 25, and Sunday, March 26. The tours will showcase the garden’s magnolia collection as it enters full bloom, as well as discuss the women behind BBG’s magnolia hybridization program.

Tours last from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, are free with BBG admission, and don’t require registration; guests are asked to gather at Magnolia Plaza in the garden by the building steps.

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CARIBBEAN AUTHORS TO HOST BOOK FAIR IN CROWN HEIGHTS

CROWN HEIGHTS — A group of Caribbean authors is hosting a book fair in Bed-Stuy this weekend, presented by Caribbean American magazine Everybody’s and reggae music label VP Records, celebrating the legacy and work of the Caribbean artistic community. Authors attending include New Yorkers Herman Hall and Pat Chin, along with Claudette Joy Spence, Burnett Coburn, Grenada’s Anthony W. Deriggs, Jamaica’s Keisha-Gaye Anderson and Trinidad and Tobago’s Dr. Meagan A. Sylvester.

The book fair will take place on Sunday, March 26, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Coal Pot Restaurant in Bed-Stuy.

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 ART IN DUMBO ANNOUNCES SPRING OPEN STUDIOS EVENT

DUMBO — Art in DUMBO on Tuesday announced DUMBO Open Studios, a curated weekend where more than 130 local artists will open their studio doors to the public, supporting artists financially while maintaining the unique character of the DUMBO community. Artists and organizations participating include Rodney Ewing, Liz Collins, and Lucky Risograph; while participating residency programs include Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, Smack Mellon, Triangle Arts, BRIClab, and New York Studio School.

DUMBO Open Studios will take place on Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23,  from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.; more information and an interactive map of participating artists can be found online on the Dumbo Open Studios website.

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PUBLIC SAFETY FORUM AT BROOKLYN CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

CROWN HEIGHTS — The Interborough Developmental Consultation Center will be holding a public safety forum meeting at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum on Wednesday for community members. The forum will feature talks from faith-based leaders, NYPD officials and anti-violence organizations on public and community safety, as well as refreshments and tabling by local groups.

The forum will start on Wednesday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m.; attendees are asked to RSVP online beforehand.

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FUGITIVE CALF CAUSES COMMOTION IN CANARSIE

CANARSIE — A runaway calf sparked barnyard chaos in Canarsie yesterday after escaping from a slaughterhouse, according to News 12 reporter Mary-Lyn Buckley, as workers and a crowd of locals chased after it when it broke for freedom through the neighborhood’s streets. Pedestrians seemed baffled by the situation — “What the heck was that?” one man told News 12, describing how he used his jacket like a matador’s cape in an attempt to stop the calf.

The calf made it from Rockaway Avenue all the way to Avenue M before being lassoed by workers; no news yet on whether it was ultimately spared from its fate.

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GODSQUAD GRADUATES COHORT OF YOUTHS FROM ITS FLATBUSH LEADERSHIP ACADEMY

EAST FLATBUSH — Eighty youths will be graduating next Wednesday, March 29, from Flatbush Leadership Academy that the GodSquad/67th Precinct Clergy Council sponsors. The 2022-2023 Flatbush Leadership Academy and NextGen cohorts have worked diligently during the 19 weekly sessions with their adult mentors, who instructed and mentored the youths in professional development, personal growth, peer partnership, and community empowerment and work readiness. GodSquad works to deter young people from following paths of gang activity and gun violence, steering and equipping them instead to be agents of change.

The graduation takes place at Winthrop Beacon Junior High School in East Flatbush.

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HATE CRIMES REMAIN UNDER-REPORTED IN MIDST OF RISE IN BIAS ASSAULTS, SAY NEW YORK LAWMAKERS

BOROUGHWIDE — Hate crimes have been under-reported during a 300% rise in attacks against Asians and a significant rise in antisemitic motivated assaults, say Rep. Dan Goldman (D-10) and a bipartisan delegation of elected officials from New York, including U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-7/Brooklyn and Queens) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights), in a letter they sent to the Department of Justice this week. They are urging the Department of Justice to provide an overview of law enforcement agency compliance with hate crime reporting requirements, pointing out that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 2021 Hate Crimes Statistic report found that a significant number of law enforcement agencies had failed to report hate crimes through the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System.

The lawmakers also told the Department of Justice that “Congress has already taken decisive action to combat hate crimes by passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.”

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ADAMS, REYNOSO PROMOTE MINECRAFT ‘BATTLE OF THE BOROS’ KIDS CUP

CITYWIDE — Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, along with Mayor Adams, the other BPs and the city Department of Education, is hosting a competition for city public school students to design levels in the video game Minecraft centered around the question “How can we create a safe, connected, resilient, and sustainable borough that moves NYC forward without leaving anyone behind?” Designed to promote STEM education, the competition gives kids tools and challenges them to build interactive spaces inside the game that incorporate those themes and then to submit their creations to their schools, after which qualifying teams will show off at their Borough Championships, whose winners will move on to the Mayor’s Cup Finals.

Submissions for the contest are due on April 5, with the Brooklyn Borough Championship scheduled for May 6 and the finals for June 10; more information on the competition and instructions for prospective entrants can be found online on the DOE’s website.

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BROOKLYN HIKER FOUND DEAD IN UPSTATE MOUNTAINS

NEW PALTZ — A Brooklyn man last located setting off on a hike into the Mohonk preserve in the Shawangunk mountains last Saturday was found deceased by rescue workers on Friday, reports the Times Union, with injuries suggestive of a fatal fall. Victor Martinez, 45, had spoken to his daughter on his phone before beginning the hike, but was reported missing when he did not report to work the following Monday, prompting forest rangers and other searchers to spend three days combing the mountainous area, through heavy snowfall, eventually locating his possessions and body near the base of a 50-foot cliff.

State officials said the precise cause of the death was still under investigation.

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BK’S BILLIE HOLIDAY THEATRE RECEIVES NAT’L ARTS MEDAL AFTER COVID DELAY

WASHINGTON — President Biden on Tuesday presented the National Medal of the Arts to Bed-Stuy’s Billie Holiday Theatre at a ceremony honoring the recipients of the 2021 National Humanities Medals and National Medals of the Arts, which had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The medal was accepted by Theatre board member Blondel Pinnock, also CEO of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the management company of the community-focused Restoration Plaza in which the 50-year-old performance space is located.

“Over 50 years ago, the Billie Holiday Theatre opened in Brooklyn. Black writers and actors from Samuel L. Jackson to Debbie Allen to Smokey Robinson debuted there in New York at that theater. Today Billie still stages first-rate theater productions, nurturing new generations of Black playwrights, performers as a culture of the cornerstone of our nation. And it’s really — it’s an incredible place,” said Biden at the ceremony, calling the theater “an artistic jewel for the nation” before presenting the award.

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DOT EXTENDS OVERNIGHT WESTBOUND BQE LANE CLOSURE

BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY — Commuters who use the Staten Island-bound BQE will be enduring more late-night lane closures this month, as the NYC Department of Transportation extends the date of maintenance work on I-278 (the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) overnight, single-lane closures westbound. The section of roadway between the Brooklyn Bridge and Atlantic Avenue — designated as BQE Central — will be in effect Wednesday, March 29, and Friday, March 31, from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m.

According to a DOT-provided photo, the closure will be in the left lane which is completely under the cantilevered overhang.

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DOT COMMISSIONER RODRIGUEZ UNVEILS PLANS TO REUNITE COMMUNITIES SPLIT BY BQE NORTH & SOUTH

BROOKLYN-QUEENS EXPRESSWAY — The future of the aforementioned BQE, being discussed in depth over the past several years, underscores the chafing between New York City — which owns the portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway between Atlantic Ave. and Sands Street, and the state, which owns the sections to the south leading to Staten Island and the north, leading to Queens. Earlier this week, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez gave a presentation demonstrating that, while the city can’t legally take the initiative to rebuild all the portions, it can reconnect long-divided communities. (See Brooklyn Eagle story elsewhere in this edition).

Rodriguez unveiled three design approaches to reunite the communities on both sides of the viaduct and overpass divide.


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