What’s News, Breaking: Friday, April 7, 2022
PAINTING AND STEEL REPAIRS PROJECT WILL CLOSE GOWANUS EXIT 23 RAMP OVERNIGHT MONDAY
GOWANUS EXPRESSWAY — The New York State DOT has announced a full closure (weather permitting) of the Exit 23 ramp from westbound Gowanus Expressway (I-278) to 39th Street in Brooklyn, scheduled for Monday-Tuesday, April 10-11. This closure, which will take effect “on or about Monday night at 10 p.m.” through 5 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11, is needed to facilitate work on NYSDOT’s $168 million Gowanus Expressway (I-278) Painting and Steel Repairs Project, from the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel to 6th Avenue in Brooklyn.
Motorists needing to access 39th Street during the closure should take Exit 26 (Hamilton Avenue) and follow the signed detour.
PUBLIC ADVOCATE WILLIAMS: TENNESSEE EXPULSION ‘COMES AT INTERSECTION OF AMERICAN FAILURES’
NATIONWIDE — NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has denounced, in a statement excerpted here, the Tennessee legislature’s expulsion of two colleagues who were pushing for gun reform. “The injustice we have seen in recent days in Tennessee comes at an intersection of American failures — structural racism, punishing protest, and a willingness to wash our hands in response to unending, unspeakable violence… The initial ‘offense’ of these legislators was to demand action to prevent gun violence in the wake of yet another horrific shooting.”
Williams added, “It is my hope that by expressing dual outrage at conservatives’ inaction on guns and authoritarian reaction to being called out for it, we can direct our anger into progress.”
PUBLIC WEBINAR SERIES ON EXTREME HEAT’S IMPACT ON NEW YORK STATE
STATEWIDE — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will hold a public webinar series on the ways extreme heat is impacting New York State. As part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2022 State of the State directive and interim recommendations, work is underway to help New Yorkers and communities better understand and prepare for the impacts of extreme heat, including opportunities to learn about solutions for adapting to and forming partnerships to address this often-deadly weather. Registration is separate for each webinar, the first of which takes place April 27 at 2 p.m.
This webinar series is part of DEC and NYSERDA’s ongoing development of an action plan in response to the increased frequency and intensity of extreme heat events caused by climate change.
GOVERNOR, ATTORNEY GENERAL CALL FOR REDRAWING CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT LINES
STATEWIDE — The state Supreme Court needs to order an Independent Redistricting Commission to redraw Congressional district lines, rather than leaving the lines drawn by a court-appointed special master in place between now and the 2030 census, according to an amicus brief that Governor Kathy Hochul and New York Attorney General Letitia James have filed. The state legislature had rejected the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission’s (IRC) maps, and the Congressional maps drafted afterward were challenged in the courts, resulting in special master drawing lines ahead of the 2022 Election.
Attorney General James and Governor Hochul assert in the amicus brief that was filed in the Appellate Division, Third Department that, while the special master’s maps may have been appropriate for the 2022 Election, there is significant time for IRC to generate new maps and follow the process outlined in the New York State Constitution for Congressional maps going forward.
NEW PLAN AIMS TO PROTECT CITY’S MOST VULNERABLE HISTORIC BUILDINGS
CITYWIDE — An action plan is being implemented to strengthen enforcement tools that will preserve the city’s most vulnerable historic buildings, Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) Chair Sarah Carroll, and New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) Acting Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik announced on Friday, April 7. The plan will aid in protecting buildings designated as historic landmarks that are at risk due to pre-existing unknown structural conditions, owner neglect, and contractor negligence.
The plan also focuses on early detection of risks to designated buildings, more robust engineering oversight, increased coordination, and communication between the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Department of Buildings, and on enhanced community new digital tools.
REP. YVETTE CLARKE DENOUNCES TENNESSEE HOUSE’S EXPULSION OF COLLEAGUES WHO PROTESTED SHOOTINGS
CENTRAL BROOKLYN — Several Brooklyn political leaders have spoken out condemning the expulsion on Thursday, April 6, of two Democratic members of the Tennessee state House of Representatives who had staged a protest for gun law reform, particularly after a mass shooting at a school in that state’s Nashville capital. Congressmember Yvette D. Clarke (D-09), first vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, declared, “Last night, the Republican majority in the Tennessee State Legislature decided to openly defy their Constitutional responsibilities and disregard the right to dissent in a democracy… Exercising one Constitutional right to peacefully assemble and protest is not subordinate to the right to the Second Amendment. They were exercising their First Amendment right and for that, these young, Black, duly elected men were expelled. They were stripped of their franchise, thereby disenfranchising the people they represent.”
“It’s passed time that leaders on both sides of the aisle come together to help save lives and curb America’s gun violence epidemic,” said Clarke.
CONGRESSIONAL GROUP URGES GOVERNOR, STATE LAWMAKERS TO INCLUDE EMERGENCY RENTAL HELP IN NEW BUDGET
STATEWIDE — Six New York lawmakers, including Brooklyn Congressmembers Nydia Velázquez (D-7) — leading the effort — and Dan Goldman (D-10) have written to Governor Kathy Hochul and the leaders of both houses of New York State legislature, urging them to include emergency rental assistance funding in New York State’s final budget for Fiscal Year 2024, the deadline for which had to be extended. Although the Federal government in early 2020 established the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program to help American renters avoid eviction, with New York State receiving more than $2.29 billion, the state did not prioritize public housing authority and Section 8 residents when disbursing these funds.
Despite applying for $128 million in ERA relief, NYCHA tenants have received no assistance to date.
NYC JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST KIA AND HYUNDAI FOR BALKING ON ANTI-THEFT TECHNOLOGY
CITYWIDE — Amidst an almost-ninefold increase in thefts of Kia and Hyundai model vehicles, New York City will join the ongoing national lawsuit against these car manufacturers to hold them accountable for refusing to equip certain models of both cars with standard anti-theft measures. Making the announcement on Friday, April 7, court documents accuse Kia and Hyundai of placing profit ahead of public safety by foregoing the anti-theft technology in cost-saving corporate decisions. Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix pointed out that inadequate anti-theft technology render Kia and Hyundai vehicles more vulnerable to theft, in the wake of a viral social media challenge to commit grand larceny.
The most theft-vulnerable vehicles use mechanical keys that lack anti-theft “immobilizer” systems instead of a more secure key-fob. However, key fobs also have vulnerabilities, as thieves can boost and even mimic what were thought to be unique signals.
DEC OPENS PUBLIC COMMENT ON BROWNFIELD CLEANUP
WILLIAMSBURG — The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Thursday announced the beginning of a period of public comment on a proposed cleanup of a brownfield site in Williamsburg that the agency believes “poses a significant threat to public health or the environment… based on the potential for human exposure to site-related contaminants via soil vapors.” The mitigation plan at the 100 Union Avenue site includes the excavation and replacement of more than 1,000 tons of contaminated soil, the installation of systems to reduce soil vapors and the development of several different monitoring plans to protect the surrounding area; residents can find more information about and comment on the plan on the state DEC’s website until May 20.
The mitigation program was proposed by the developer who owns the lot and who hopes to erect a six-story residential building there in the future; in its past life, the lot served as an auto sales lot and later an auto repair shop and junkyard.
ITALIAN WAY OF THE CROSS TRAVERSES BENSONHURST
BENSONHURST — One of Bensonhurst’s most beloved Holy Week traditions takes place tonight, April 7, when nine Roman Catholic parishes take part in the 40th Annual Good Friday procession. The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Brooklyn, will lead the Italian traditional Way of the Cross candlelight procession, along 18th Avenue, Bay Ridge Parkway from 65th to 75th streets. Parishes taking part are St. Athanasius-St. Dominic, Regina Pacis, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Mary Mother of Jesus, St. Simon and Jude-Most Precious Blood, St. Finbar, St. Frances Cabrini, St. Bernadette, and Our Lady of Grace.
Earlier in the day, the respective parishes hold Good Friday prayer liturgies (Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday) in various languages, including Italian, Spanish and English.
BROOKLYN’S ICONIC MIMI SHERATON, 97, WAS ADVENTUROUS AND TOUGH FOOD CRITIC
MIDWOOD AND MANHATTAN — Mimi Sheraton, the Brooklyn-born, iconic and no-nonsense food critic and cookbook author known for frequenting restaurants in disguise, died on Thursday, April 6, at age 97, reports The New York Times, Eater New York and other news sources. Sheraton was NY Times’ first woman food critic, whose discerning palate and her straightforward and meticulously-researched appraisals of culinary specialties earned her the reputation of being tough but fair.
Sheraton, who was born Miriam Solomon, graduated from Midwood High School in 1943, and later married a man who changed his surname to Sheraton, grew up enjoying outings to Lundy’s for seafood in Sheepshead Bay and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs in Coney Island.
POETRY IN FORT GREENE PARK
FORT GREENE — The Fort Greene Park Conservancy is hosting its annual Poetry in the Park event this weekend, as April is National Poetry Month. The festivities are set to open at noon on Saturday, as featured poets Alisha Acquaye, Ashna Ali and Kim Brandon will give poetry readings until 1 p.m.; after the performances, Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Book Bodega will host a session to create Blackout Poetry, before the afternoon concludes with an open mic from 2:00 – 2:50 p.m.
The event will be held on Saturday, April 8 at the Eastern Wing of Monument Plaza in Fort Greene Park; poets are asked to RSVP online.
GOLDMAN CALLS FOR COMMUNITY IMMIGRANT FUNDING
WASHINGTON — Last week, U.S. Reps. Dan Goldman and Veronica Escobar, of Texas, led a group of 25 representatives in calling for $800 million in funding for the newly established Shelter and Services Program in the 2024 federal budget. The SSP gives communities direct assistance through grants instead of using a lengthy reimbursement process, allowing asylum seekers to receive vital services and resources quickly and reducing the heavy burden on their new communities, as the direct aid helps state agencies and nonprofits better plan their assistance efforts.
Goldman says that as the country prepares for the end of the pandemic-era immigration restrictions, migrant arrivals are expected to increase, meaning that funding for the SSP will become increasingly crucial for communities like New York that host asylum-seekers — more than 50,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in NYC since last spring, according to the congressmember, with more than 30,000 currently in the city’s care.
UNKNOWN ROBBERS STEAL $92K FROM STOPPED CAR
SUNSET PARK — On the morning of Tuesday, April 4, a 32-year-old victim stopped his vehicle on a Sunset Park side street to change his tire; as the victim was working on the side of his vehicle, two men approached, with one going into his trunk and removing a bag containing $92,000, before fleeing southbound on 9th Avenue. Police described the first man as having a dark complexion and wearing a golf hat and a black jacket; and, the second as having a dark complexion and wearing a black and white checkered shirt and black pants.
Anyone with information regarding 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); the public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, on Twitter at @NYPDTips.
NETS UNVEIL LIMITED EDITION UNIFORM DESIGNED BY ARTIST KAWS
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Nets on Thursday unveiled their new “City Edition” variant uniforms, featuring artwork and design elements by the Brooklyn-based pop artist KAWS. Part of a two-year partnership between the Nets and the artist, the remixed uniform features a bold color palette evocative of the artist’s eye-catching abstract paintings, lettering and logos inspired by the artist’s graphic style, KAWS’ signature “XX” design motif on the waistband of the shorts, and his autograph woven into the jersey directly above the jock tag.
The uniforms and merchandise collection will be available for purchase online and in person at the Nets’ team store at Barclays Center beginning this fall.
BROOKLYN COLLEGE MAKES TOP FIVE IN NYT’S COLLEGE VALUE RANKINGS
CITYWIDE — Six CUNY universities, including Brooklyn College, lead the nation in providing a combination of affordability, academics, diversity and high post-attendance earnings, according to a new interactive college ranking tool developed by The New York Times. Brooklyn College, along with Baruch, Hunter, The City College of New York and Queens College, take the top five slots when equally prioritizing high earnings, academic profile, economic mobility, low sticker price, low net price, racial diversity and economic diversity, while John Jay College of Criminal Justice ranks at number seven.
The Times’ tool allows prospective college students to weigh up to ten priorities and develop a corresponding ranking list, and includes nearly 900 four-year colleges in its data.
PEDESTRIAN KILLED IN CAR CRASH
BOROUGH PARK — Police announced on Thursday that Chaim Blum, 23, was pronounced deceased at Maimonides Medical Center on Wednesday night after being struck and injured as the result of a crash between two vehicles. A Honda Odyssey minivan, traveling southbound on 13th Avenue, crashed into a Toyota Sienna minivan, traveling eastbound on 50th Street, while the two were crossing the intersection, the impact causing the Sienna to rotate and strike Blum, who was standing on the southeast corner of the intersection.
The operators of the vehicles were not injured and remained at the scene; there are no arrests, and the investigation remains ongoing, according to police.
TEEN STABBED TO DEATH ON D TRAIN
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Shortly before midnight on Thursday, police responding to a 911 call discovered an 18-year-old man with a stab wound to the abdomen onboard a northbound D train at the Atlantic-Barclays station. EMS transported the victim to Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, where he was subsequently pronounced deceased. Further investigation revealed the victim was onboard the train when a dispute arose with another, unidentified male, who proceeded to stab the victim with an unknown object before fleeing.
Police say that there have been no arrests, and the investigation remains ongoing; the identity of the deceased is pending proper family notification.
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR OPERATIONS JOINS BROOKLYN CHAMBER AT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BREAKFAST
WILLIAMSBURG — NYC Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi is the keynoter at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s upcoming Economic Development Breakfast in early May. Joshi, who is NYC Deputy Mayor for Operations, will be in conversation with Chamber members on “the Economic Development path forward in Brooklyn and beyond,” at the breakfast, taking place at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, and for which registration is required.
After the Deputy Mayor’s presentation, she will engage in a Question & Answer session with Brooklyn Chamber President and CEO, Randy Peers.
MAN ARRESTED FOR 2021 HIT AND RUN OF BROOKLYN COLLEGE PROF
MIDWOOD — Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of Richard Williams, 53, of Flatbush, in relation to the 2021 hit-and-run death of Brooklyn College professor Marguerite Iskenderian, 77, leveling charges of criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of the accident. Iskenderian was struck by a white BMW on the night of April 24, 2021, on Nostrand Avenue and succumbed to her injuries, while the driver fled the scene to parts unknown.
Iskenderian was a longtime faculty member at the college, having worked there since 1972, and an accomplished musician, reported the Brooklyn College Vanguard; friends of the professor held a memorial concert in her honor via Zoom in the days after her death.
HAMILTON COMMUNITY RECOGNIZES NATIONAL VIETNAM VETS DAY
FORT HAMILTON — The 58th Vietnam Veterans Commemoration Ceremony was held on Wednesday, March 29, at the Fort Hamilton Commissary, also marking the 50th anniversary of the departure of the last American troops from Vietnam on March 29, 1973. The 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War will be recognized nationwide from May 28, 2012 through Nov. 11, 2025 as part of the United States Vietnam War Commemoration.
In 2012, the 50th year since the beginning of the war, President Obama signed a presidential proclamation designating March 29 as the annual observance of Vietnam War Veterans Day; later, the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 was signed into law by President Trump, designating every March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
REP. MALLIOTAKIS HONORS HER DISTRICT’S STUDENT ESSAY WINNERS
BAY RIDGE AND DYKER HEIGHTS — Southwestern Brooklyn’s newest essay winners and future leaders received their awards from Congressmember Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) on Thursday, April 7, from their prize-winning entries in the 2023 Presidents’ Day Essay contest held earlier this year for students in her district that encompasses Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and part of Staten Island. Students in grades 3 through 5 wrote on what they would do to improve their community if they were President of the United States. The Brooklyn third-grade winners were Celeste Zhu (1st place) of St. Athanasius Catholic Academy in Bensonhurst and Sara Dervishi (2nd place) of P.S. 127/The McKinley Park School in Dyker Heights. Fourth-grade winners were Nicholas Squicciarini (1st place) of St. Patrick’s Catholic Academy in Bay Ridge and Hunter Ambrose (2nd place) of Good Shepherd Catholic Academy in Marine Park. Fifth-grade winners were Sarah Bettache (1st place) of P.S. 185/ The Walter Kassenbrock School in Bay Ridge and Dominic Vangeli (2nd place) of St. Bernadette Catholic Academy in Dyker Heights.
Rep. Malliotakis received more than 500 essays, double the contest submission since last year.
YARD LABS SUBJECT OF NY TIMES ARTICLE ON CLIMATE-TECH STARTUPS
BROOKLYN NAVY YARD — The Brooklyn Navy Yard, the historic naval shipbuilding facility which has been transformed into a major waterfront manufacturing complex, and its new initiative, Yard Labs, were the subject of a New York Times feature story on Thursday, April 6. Yard Labs, which welcomes green technology companies to test out their ideas and products within the Navy Yard complex is, according to the NY Times reporter Winnie Hu, part of a broader movement across New York City to create a green technology ecosystem.
In fact, the two winners of the Urban Future Lab annual competition, part of New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering in Downtown Brooklyn and which last year attracted more than 200 start-up companies, were each awarded a $50,000 grant and a place in the Urban Future Lab’s incubator, which can accommodate up to 20 climate-tech companies.
TEACHER CHARGED WITH ENDANGERING CHILDREN
SUNSET PARK — Police announced on Wednesday that public school teacher Patrick Longsworth, 51, has been arrested and charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. News 12 reports that investigators said Longsworth allegedly “made sexually suggestive remarks” to female students at his school.
Police have not released any more details on the incident to the public at press time.
COUNCIL SEEKS TO EXPAND HALF-PRICE METROCARDS
CITYWIDE — The City Council wants to expand the Fair Fares program, which provides half-priced Metrocards and transit fares to lower-income New Yorkers, to cover even more people, reports Gothamist. The council on Monday called on Mayor Adams to increase the budget for the program and to double the admission cap on the program to make eligible any New Yorker earning up to twice the federal poverty level.
The city is also campaigning to raise awareness of the program’s existence, as data shows that less than half of the New Yorkers eligible for it are actually enrolled in it.
POLICE SEEK SERIAL T-MOBILE BANDIT
CITYWIDE — Police are asking the public to be on the lookout for a thief targeting T-Mobile stores to steal smartwatches and other electronics, who is suspected of robbing at least 11 stores between Feb. 14 and March 18 of this year, beginning in Brooklyn and moving to Manhattan in recent weeks. The man is described as having a dark complexion and being in his early 20s, and has not caused any injuries as a result of his crimes.
Anyone with information regarding 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); the public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, on Twitter @NYPDTips.
NYU TANDON TEAM MEASURES RACISM USING TWITTER AS ‘ON THE GROUND’ PROXY
CITYWIDE — Twitter may hold a key to pinpointing precise neighborhoods where systemic racism and homophobia have taken hold, according to a new study — which was published this month in Social Science & Medicine — by Rumi Chunara, an associate professor in NYU Tandon’s Computer Science department and in NYU School of Public Health’s Biostatistics department. Prof. Chunara and her team from NYU Tandon divided up the entire New York City region into more than two hundred geographic clusters — discrete areas, in some cases just multiple blocks — defined by the degree of racism and homophobia within each of those locations. Their research measures the mental health impact of time spent in racist and homophobic places.
The team used a new criteria tool that, instead of public records such as census data, instead utilizing Twitter as a proxy to measure nuanced ‘on the ground’ negative sentiment, according to the article.
LEGAL AID SUES CITY OVER ‘CRITICAL’ FAMILY RENT VOUCHER PROGRAM
CITYWIDE — The Legal Aid Society and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP filed a class action lawsuit on Wednesday against the NYC Department of Social Services on behalf of eight individual plaintiffs, including three Brooklynites, who receive rental subsidies under two programs designed to fight homelessness, seeking to stop the agency from terminating current recipients’ vouchers. The critical rent supplements are intended to prevent at-risk families — and particularly minor children — from entering the shelter system and to enable them to more rapidly exit shelters; however, The Legal Aid Society says, DSS routinely fails to renew households’ subsidies in a timely manner, and also routinely terminates households’ supplements without notice when they recertify their public assistance cases, leaving families to learn of the problems only when they receive eviction papers from their landlords.
“New York City families that need rental subsidies must be able to rely on those subsidies continuing for as long as they qualify for them. Instead, DSS is pulling the rug out from under these families and breaking its own rules in doing so,” said Fara Tabatabai, a partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, in a press statement.
GOVERNOR DROPS METHANE LIMIT INCREASE PLAN
ALBANY — Governor Hochul’s administration on Wednesday told the press that they did not intend to push for controversial changes to the state’s methane emissions standards initially proposed last week as a potential concession in the ongoing budget negotiations, reports Spectrum News. Green advocates hailed the decision as officials said the proposal “would not be prioritized,” but left the possibility on the table for the future, citing economic concerns.
“Governor Hochul’s excuse that New York needs to gut its nation-leading climate law in order to save New Yorkers money is flat-out wrong, especially when there’s a real solution to this problem right in front of her,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Jeff Dinowitz in a press statement on Tuesday, following their introduction of a counterproposal backed by environmentalists.
GOLDMAN PUSHES FOR PROTECTIONS FOR IMMIGRANT CHILDREN
WASHINGTON — Last week, U.S. Reps. Dan Goldman and Hillary Scholten of Michigan, led members of Congress in requesting that the Department of Justice create specialized children’s dockets for unaccompanied children, and requesting that the Office of Refugee Resettlement improve and expand post-release services for unaccompanied children to protect them from exploitation and keep them out of dangerous working conditions. Children’s dockets would make specially trained judges, child-friendly courtrooms and help from legal services organizations available for these unaccompanied children, speeding up stressful legal procedures and ensuring due process as they navigate the immigration system and their new situations, and protecting their wellbeing.
In 2022, the Department of Labor found nearly 4,000 children employed in violation of child labor laws, an increase of 70% over the past five years, according to a press statement from Goldman.
NEW BILL WOULD AUTHORIZE POSTAL SERVICE CRACKDOWN ON ORGANIZATIONS DOING MAIL FRAUD
NATIONWIDE — The U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) ability to crack down on postal crime has been enhanced, thanks to bipartisan legislation that U.S. Representatives Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) and Congressmember Grace Meng (D-Queens-06) have introduced. Specifically, the USPS Subpoena Authority Act would strengthen USPS’ ability to investigate and halt criminal organizations driving mail theft through mailboxes, and it authorizes the Postal Service to issue administrative subpoenas that could collect more information related to the financial fraud associated with mail theft, including bank records and surveillance videos.
Malliotakis and Meng have pushed for the USPS Subpoena Authority Act following a rise in stolen checks from neighborhood post offices and mailboxes. According to a February 2023 alert from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, an arm of the U.S. Department of Treasury, reports of check fraud filed by banks nearly doubled to 680,000 from 350,000 in 2021.
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