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What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, April 19, 2023

April 19, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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POLY PREP CELEBRATES REUNION DAY WITH OPENING OF NEW SOFTBALL FIELD

DYKER HEIGHTS  — When Poly Prep marks Reunion Day on Saturday, April 29, it will be a Brooklyn-centric celebration for the whole neighborhood, with highlights like the opening of the independent school’s new softball field as part of its new athletic complex, supported by the Lipton/Feinberg Family. Poly Prep’s Girls’ Softball team, undefeated in the league last season and the championship winner amongst all New York State Private Schools (NYSAIS), will play their first game at 1 p.m.

DJ SPINDERELLA dance party, a performance by Poly’s dance team, a parade with a brass band, kids bouncy house, kids games and food trucks, will be among the other attractions at Reunion Day, which is free to the general public and opens at 11 a.m.

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BROOKLYN DELEGATION IN WASHINGTON DEMAND REFORMS TO ASYLUM SEEKER CRISIS

WASHINGTON, DC AND FLATBUSH — Members of Brooklyn’s Congressional delegation, including Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-9) and Nydia Velázquez (D-7), NYC Public Advocate and others, stood in front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, April 19, to demand federal action on an agenda to address the immediate asylum seeker crisis. They also pushed for the reform of immigration policy infrastructure for the long term.

Rep. Clarke, who identifies as the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, and who holds several key committee leadership posts, called the nation’s immigration system broken. “As it stands, our immigration laws have not been updated in more than 30 years. This has kept families apart for decades, limited our ability to attract and retain top talent, and forced millions to live their lives in a perpetual state of uncertainty.”

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GOP ASIAN CAUCUS APPLAUDS ARREST OF MEN WHO RAN A SECRET ‘POLICE STATION’

CITYWIDE — The New York GOP Asian Caucus is commending the work of genuine law enforcement in capturing and arresting two individuals who covertly operated a foreign police station in Lower Manhattan earlier this week. The Asian Caucus “applauds the arrest of two men operating a secret ‘police station’ in the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown. Chinese Americans treasure freedom and democracy. We will never be intimidated. This case sends a clear and powerful message that the U.S. will not tolerate violations of American sovereignty and transnational aggression.”

The group added, “These illegal tactics imported onto our streets to suppress the fundamental rights of individuals to free speech and expression only strengthen our resolve as the NY GOP Asian Caucus to speak out against the CCP and to speak up about destructive New York policies that mirror our past experiences with communism.”

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BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL TO HOST FIELD HEARING ON ‘ZOMBIE’ SECOND MORTGAGES AND OTHER DEBT

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — “Zombie” second mortgages — ones that consumers thought had long been satisfied or forgiven — will be the topic of a field hearing that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will hold, to be hosted at Brooklyn Law School next week. CFPB Director Director Rohit and local community organizations, advocates and lenders will discuss the “zombie” mortgages and other debt issues, and what policy leaders are doing to help those who are impacted. Members of the public will also have the chance to give testimony at the field hearing, taking place at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26.

The experts will explain how homeowners can protect themselves from old-debt collections.

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STATE SENATE CONFIRMS APPEALS COURT JUSTICE ROWAN WILSON AS THE NEW CHIEF JUDGE IN 40-19 VOTE

ALBANY — The New York State Senate on Tuesday, April 18, with a 40-19 vote, smoothly confirmed Governor Kathy Hochul’s nomination of Justice Rowan D. Wilson as Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, according to several news reports. Wilson, considered a progressive, becomes the first Black jurist to become the state’s highest-ranking judge of the court in which he has served as Associate Justice since 2017; and as Chief Judge, he will also administer the state’s complex court system.

The Democratic-controlled State Senator had rejected Gov. Hochul’s first nominee, Hon. Hector LaSalle, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division/2nd Department in Brooklyn. Though also a Democrat, Justice LaSalle was viewed as too conservative and anti-union.

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NEW CONSUMER GUIDE AVAILABLE FOR  BUSINESSES TO PROTECT CUSTOMERS’ SENSITIVE DATA

STATEWIDE — A new consumer guide from the New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office aims to help businesses adopt effective data security measures to better protect New Yorkers’ personal information. Drawn from the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) experience investigating and prosecuting businesses following cybersecurity breaches, this online guide offers a series of recommendations intended to help companies prevent breaches and secure their data, discusses some failures found in recent data security investigations, as well as recommends practices business should adopt to better secure their systems, fortify their networks and strengthen their data security measures.

Among these recommendations: maintaining controls for secure authentication; encrypting sensitive customer information such as social security or account numbers; and, ensuring that a business’ third-party vendors also use reasonable security measures.

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AGRICULTURE DEPT. APPROVES REIMBURSEMENTS TO VICTIMS OF SNAP BENEFITS THEFT

STATEWIDE — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved New York’s plan to reimburse SNAP recipients who had their benefits stolen, and three members of Congress representing the state applaud the move. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-7/eastern Brooklyn and Queens) and Grace Meng (D-6/Queens) had fought to include in last year’s federal government spending bill relief funds for victims of SNAP theft from skimming scammers. The state can now process household claims of stolen benefits and reimburse households using federal funds.

The 2023 omnibus appropriations bill provided two years of reimbursements for SNAP recipients who had money stolen from their benefits.

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STATE UNVEILS NEW CANNABIS CAMPAIGN: ‘BUY LEGAL’

STATEWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced the launch of “Why Buy Legal New York,” a public education campaign promoting the state’s licensed dispensaries, prior to the popular cannabis-centered celebration of April 20. The campaign’s announcements, which will run mostly on digital platforms, warn of the potential health risks of consuming unregulated cannabis products from unlicensed businesses, and explain the social and economic equity goals of New York’s cannabis licensing process.

Critics of New York’s cannabis legalization rollout believe that the state’s equity-focused licensing requirements for recreational dispensaries are too restrictive — a lawsuit over the terms of the legalization delayed recreational dispensaries from opening in Brooklyn, with only three operational in the city, all in Manhattan — and has caused the emergence of a gray market for weed products.

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LEGAL AID SOCIETY URGES END TO NYPD GANG DATABASE

CITYWIDE — The Legal Aid Society on Tuesday issued a statement calling for the abolishment of the NYPD’s gang member database, which tracks individuals the police suspect of being involved with criminal gangs, in response to a report analyzing the database recently released by the NYPD Inspector General. The Society contends that the database is needlessly broad and can put members of underprivileged groups under unfair suspicion on the basis of things such as appearing in photographs with other alleged gang members or even just wearing certain colors in social media post, and is urging the City Council to pass legislation that would ban the use of the database and prevent the police from creating another one.

While the report did not find that inclusion in the database produced adverse effects for individuals, it also revealed that the NYPD doesn’t follow consistent procedures when adding people to it and that its existence reduces trust in the police in impacted communities.

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GOWANUS GRIND SKATEBOARD EVENT THIS WEEKEND

GOWANUS — Thomas Greene Park will host the 14th annual Gowanus Grind event this Saturday, a yearly celebration of skateboarding talent and culture. The event will feature youth skateboarding lessons, performances from the Gowanus Wildcats Drill Team, a pizza party and more.

The Gowanus Grind will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 22; more information can be found online on the Friends of Thomas Greene Park website.

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ELECTRIC CAR CHARGER NETWORK PILOT ANNOUNCED

SUNSET PARK — Brooklyn-based electric car charger company itselectric, in partnership with Hyundai, on Tuesday announced that it will be deploying a pilot program of six of its chargers to two Brooklyn locations — the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard — and recruiting local electric vehicle owners to test the viability of its concept, according to a press release on PR Newswire. itselectric’s innovative network concept involves revenue-sharing for property owners who install the publicly accessible chargers streetside on their land, which it hopes will allow for city-wide car charging networks without putting strain on municipal budgets.

The pilot program will run for two months, followed by another four months during which the chargers will remain operational.

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NEW YORK TIMES 100 BEST RESTAURANTS LIST RELEASED

CITYWIDE — The New York Times has released its list of the 100 best city restaurants of 2023, with Williamsburg’s Scandinavian-tasting restaurant Aska taking the top spot for Brooklyn’s restaurants, coming in at number 16 citywide. Williamsburg had an excellent showing in this year’s awards, with other local spots like Italian restaurants Lilia and Misi and New American restaurant The Four Horsemen getting rave reviews.

Some were unhappy with Brooklyn’s relative lack of representation on the list, however – Greenpointer notes that the Times only selected 19 Brooklyn restaurants this year, and points out the surprising omission of Michelin-starred Mexican eatery Oxomoco.

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GOWANUS ADVOCACY GROUP DEMANDS THAT STATE DEC FULLY DIG UP LAND CONTAMINANTS

GOWANUS — The Voice of Gowanus, in its latest dispatch about an upcoming community meeting, is urging people to demand that the state Department of Environmental Conservation be more thorough in the decontamination of brownfields in the district. Voice of Gowanus asserts that the DEC’s strategy of using Vapor Intrusion Barriers and Air Mitigation systems to reduce exposure is cutting corners and will not sufficiently detoxify the land, as these methods have never been used on sea-level land that is prone to flooding, and that the pollution will migrate, and its gases will continue to flow into homes or back into the canal.

During the April 20 meeting being held at the Children’s School from 7 to 9 p.m., the Voice of Gowanus will demand a full excavation cleanup “to proactively protect current and newly arriving residents from cancer risks… Otherwise, the EPA’s $1.5b Superfund cleanup will be an exercise in futility.”

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NINE MEN CHARGED IN CONSPIRACY INVOLVING $160M OF ARTWORK

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Valuable artwork is at the crux of a conspiracy theme involving a group of nine men being charged with fraud, evading U.S. sanctions and money laundering. A nine-count indictment was unsealed on Tuesday, April 18, charging a dual Belgian-Lebanese citizen, Nazem Ahmad, and eight co-defendants in the scheme that involved $160 million worth of artwork and diamond-grading services transacted through the U.S. financial system through a complex web of business entities set up to help Ahmad evade authorities. The U.S. had already sanctioned Ahmad for being a financier for Hizballah, a foreign terrorist organization.

One of the eight co-defendants, Sundar Nagarajan, was arrested Tuesday morning in England and is in custody there until April 25. The others — including Ahmad — are still at large.

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NYC SURPASSES MEGAWATT CAPACITY IN SOLAR ENERGY

CITYWIDE — Con Edison’s customers have connected more than 500 megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity to the utility’s electric grid in the New York City region, which has lowered its energy bills while helping the state meet its climate and clean energy goals. There are now more than 55,000 solar systems converting sunlight to clean power in the New York City region, including panels atop homes and businesses.

Brooklyn ranks third among the five boroughs in generating capacity, while Queens emerged as the city’s largest solar market, with 18,501 customer-owned systems totaling 131 MW of generating capacity; by contrast, Manhattan has only 388 systems, according to a new report from Con Edison.

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BKLYN CORRECTIONS OFFICER CHARGED WITH ACCEPTING BRIBES AT SUNSET PARK PRISON FACILITY

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A correctional officer stationed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park has been charged in Brooklyn federal court with receiving bribes in exchange for providing contraband — including marijuana — to prison inmates. Quandelle Joseph, a correctional officer currently employed by the United States Bureau of Prisons and stationed at the Sunset Park complex, was arrested in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning, April 18. During his employment that began in May 2020, Joseph accepted tens of thousands of dollars from at least two different inmates to smuggle narcotics, cigarettes and cell phones into the MDC.

Mr. Joseph made his initial appearance at federal court in Brooklyn before United States Magistrate Judge James R. Cho and he was released on a $50,000 bond pending trial.

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PETITION TO DEVELOP ‘THE CONEY’ GETS 3,363 SIGNATURES

CONEY ISLAND — “The Coney” casino and entertainment complex being planned to revitalize the historic Coney Island neighborhood has received a boost from locals, who have expressed support for the development. The local BID kicked off a door-to-door engagement campaign, which got 3,363 members of the community to sign a petition.

Robert Cornegy, a former City Councilmember serving Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, and the first Black Council speaker, stated, “After going door to door and business to business, it’s clear that there is a groundswell of support within the Coney Island community for the type of year-round jobs and economic development that a gaming and entertainment district would bring to the neighborhood.”

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HISTORIC GRAVESEND HOUSE TO BE DEMOLISHED BY DEVELOPERS

GRAVESEND — A 235-year-old Gravesend building that once served as the original village’s town hall and hosted George Washington on a visit is being demolished by real estate speculators, reports BK Reader, despite its long and historic past. The building, also known as “Spook Hall,” has accumulated centuries-worth of usage by Gravesend residents, first as a public building and then as a residence in 1873, after which it became the subject of numerous ghost stories and local legends.

“I can hear the bugles blowing and the drums rolling. I can see the ‘Spirit of 76’ marching down those quaint old streets. The ghosts of our forefathers answer,” wrote a letter-writer in a 1931 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Times on Gravesend’s historic town center.

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AGs’ COALITION SUPPORTS NEW RULES TO DISCLOSE OWNERSHIP CONTROL OF NURSING FACILITIES

STATEWIDE — New York Attorney General Letitia James co-led a coalition of 18 of her counterparts to support a proposed U.S. Department of Health & Human Services rule on nursing home accountability. The rule would require nursing facilities and their owners to disclose the true decision makers who exercise control over operations, including managerial, and other information regarding nursing facilities, particularly from private equity investors and real estate investment trusts.

The coalition holds that such disclosure would improve the ability of attorneys general and their Medicaid Fraud Control Units to hold bad actors accountable for providing substandard care in nursing facilities.

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YOM HASHOAH MEMORIALIZES THE 6 MILLION JEWS WHO PERISHED DURING THE HOLOCAUST

WORLDWIDE — The Jewish observance of Yom HaShoah, which concluded Tuesday, April 18, at sundown, commemorated the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, with the rise of the nationalist and totalitarian Nazi party starting in 1933. Six million Jews across German-occupied Europe — around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population — perished during the height of World War II in Nazi Germany and the countries it occupied.

The formal Hebrew name for this annual observance (the word Shoah means “the wind”) is “Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagevurah” — literally, the “Day of [Remembrance of] the Holocaust and the Heroism,” — and it is observed on the 27th day of Nisan, within a week of the conclusion of Passover.

Many Yom HaShoah programs in the U.S. and worldwide bring in Holocaust survivors as keynote speakers and incorporate a Holocaust-themed film and the recitation of songs, readings and names.

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REP. GOLDMAN PUSHES FOR FUNDING FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS

NATIONWIDE — As Yom HaShoah approached, U.S. Rep Dan Goldman (D-10/western Brooklyn) joined congressional colleagues to request funding for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program, Holocaust Education within the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues. These programs support the nearly 60,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States as well as educational efforts to improve awareness and knowledge of the horrors of the Nazi genocide against more than six million Jews during World War II.

A new Pew Research Center survey reveals that fewer than half of Americans can correctly answer multiple-choice questions about the number of Jews who were murdered or the way Adolf Hitler came to power — which was through a democratic process.

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DELEGATION OF  BROOKLYN ELECTEDS DEMAND FEDERAL HELP FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS CRISIS

WASHINGTON, DC — New York’s Congressional and local leaders will hold a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, April 19, during NYC Immigrant Heritage Week, to address the city’s immediate asylum seeker crisis. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-09), other members of New York’s Congressional delegation, NYC City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams and immigration activists will demand federal action on the asylum crisis and reforms to long-term immigration policy.

New York has been the city most impacted by the recent surge of asylum seekers, with more than 50,000 people moving through the city’s intake systems in the last year.

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POLICE SEEK MEN IN CONEY ISLAND HATE BEATING

CONEY ISLAND — The NYPD’S Hate Crimes Task Force is seeking a group of men who on the afternoon of Saturday, April 15, approached Yemeni business owner Jawwal Sawaid, 58, inside of his shop on Mermaid Avenue and confronted him using ethnic slurs before striking the victim about the face and head, including with a metal pipe. Community members told CBS News that they are outraged and concerned about the incident, which was captured on security footage, as well as about other crimes in the area, coming together at a protest vigil on Monday to show solidarity with Sawaid and his family as he recovers from his injuries.
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 tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

Do you recognize these men? All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.

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MAYOR PLEDGES TO LOWER FOOD-BASED EMISSIONS

CITYWIDE — Mayor Adams and city officials on Monday released the city’s first integrated greenhouse gas inventory, which revealed that emissions from the production and consumption of food represent 20% of NYC’s overall emissions, and pledged city agencies will reduce carbon emissions from food purchases by 33% by 2030, also urging businesses and private organizations to pledge to reduce emissions by 25%. As animal products like meat and dairy are the primary source of food emissions, the city has already taken steps towards this goal — NYC Health + Hospitals expects to serve 850,000 plant-based meals this year, reducing food-based carbon emissions by 36%; while the public school system introduced its Plant-Powered Fridays concept last year to educate kids on healthy, environmentally conscious food choices.

The new survey, modeled by EcoDataLab, includes emissions involved in the production of goods and services New Yorkers consume, whether or not that production occurs in New York City.

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EDUCATION PANEL TO VOTE ON SCHOOL BUDGET CUTS

CITYWIDE — Education activists are sounding the alarm after the announcement that the city’s Panel for Educational Policy plans on Wednesday, April 19, to vote on a proposed amendment to the five-year Capital Plan that would cut $2.2 billion and 22,000 planned new school seats, with north Brooklyn’s districts 13 and 15 and southern Brooklyn’s district 21 each facing cuts of hundreds of new seats — although Bay Ridge and Sunset Park’s district 20 might gain seats under the proposed changes. Advocacy group Class Size Matters says that the amendment does not take into account a state law that will require lower class sizes in the city’s already-overcrowded schools beginning next fall, and is urging residents to contact their local representatives and the DOE to speak out against the changes.

The full text of the amendments can be found online through the DOE’s website, while a breakdown of cuts by district was provided by Class Size Matters; members of the public can access the meeting and sign up to speak online on the DOE’s website or by phone by calling 929-205-6099 and entering meeting ID PIN 853-6797-4221# to gain access. 

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BROOKLYN EARTH DAY FAMILY FUN THIS WEEKEND

BROOKLYN — Parents looking for green family fun are spoiled for choice this Earth Day weekend, with a number of eco-friendly events taking place all over Brooklyn. Brooklyn Bridge Parents provides the details on Friday’s Earth Day festival at Atlantic Terminal, which will feature crafts and adventure play with recycled materials; and, on Saturday’s clothes swap at car-free Albee Square, planting workshops and performances on Governors Island, the Brooklyn Public Library’s solar mini car races at Grand Army Plaza and more!

Public schools will be closed this Friday; parents can reserve free tickets to the Atlantic Terminal event online on Eventbrite.


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