What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, April 27, 2023
NEW LEGISLATION WOULD EASE INSURANCE OBSTACLES
FOR LEGAL CANNABIS MERCHANTS
NATIONWIDE — New bipartisan legislation that Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-7/northern Brooklyn) and Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) have introduced would prevent federal criminal prosecution of insurers and end civil liability for brokers, agents, and insurers that deal with companies in the cannabis sector. The bill, named Clarifying Law Around Insurance Marijuana, or CLAIM Act, would also require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the hurdles facing both women and minority entrepreneurs considering a career within the cannabis sector, in order to address the historical legacy of targeting minorities through marijuana-related charges.
“Insurance companies are oftentimes reluctant to provide coverage to cannabis-based businesses, due to discrepancies between federal and state laws,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “This bill will help entrepreneurs operating in the legal cannabis sector access to the insurance they need to protect their business.”
NEW BILLS WOULD CRIMINALIZE DEED THEFT,
BOROUGHWIDE — A group of state-level elected officials have announced new legislation to strengthen protections and remedies for victims of deed theft and bolster the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) ability to prosecute these crimes. The two bills — one addressing criminal challenges and the other focused on changes to civil laws — would establish a crime of deed theft and help keep New Yorkers in their homes. Leading this effort are New York Attorney General Letitia James, State Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Lower Manhattan), State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-20/Park Slope to Flatbush), and Assemblymember Helene Weinstein (D-41/Flatbush to Sheepshead Bay).
Deed theft is a growing problem that predominantly targets Black and Brown homeowners; current state laws limit opportunities for prosecutors to hold deed thieves accountable.
BILL WOULD MANDATE HOMELAND SECURITY DEPT.
TO ‘CONFRONT AND MITIGATE’ CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACT
FLATBUSH AND WASHINGTON, DC — A bill that U.S. Rep Yvette Clarke (D-09) has introduced will ensure that the Department of Homeland Security is prepared to confront and mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis. Rep. Clarke introduced the Department of Homeland Security Climate Change Research Act (indexed as H.R. 2924), which “recognizes the importance of mitigating climate change challenges by requiring DHS to assess the current Federal research regarding any potential or identified effects of climate change on homeland security and authorizing the Science and Technology Directorate to research and develop approaches such effects have on homeland security,” said Rep. Clarke.
Although Clarke had offered the bill as an amendment during the House Committee on Homeland Security, markup of H.R. 2794 was not adopted at the time. Last Congress, the House Committee on Homeland Security marked up and passed the bill by a vote of 19-14.
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ISSUES WARNING ON TIKTOK THEFT CHALLENGE AFFECTING KIA AND HYUNDAI VEHICLES
STATEWIDE — New York Attorney General Letitia James and the NYPD each issued a consumer alert on Thursday, April 27, warning New Yorkers about recent thefts targeting Hyundai and Kia vehicles and providing critical tips to protect consumers. The warnings follow previous alerts by advocacy groups about a Tiktok challenge — that began going viral in February — to steal vehicles lacking engine immobilizers. Attorney General James also urged Hyundai and Kia to immediately fix safety flaws in faulty ignition switches and a lack of engine immobilizers in vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022, making them vulnerable to thefts; moreover, she urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall these unsafe vehicles.
While the Office of the Attorney General acknowledged the Brooklyn Eagle’s request for clarification on whether Kia and Hyundai vehicles with keyless push-button ignitions are also affected, or only ones requiring a key, no further information was available as of press time.
FEDERAL AGENTS RAID NYCHA BUILDING
IN SEARCH OF DRUGS AND WEAPONS
RED HOOK — Heavily-armed NYPD officers and Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided a NYCHA public housing complex in Red Hook on Thursday, April 27, around 9 a.m., taking into custody four suspects in what police sources said was part of a gang takedown, reports the Daily News. The federal team, which overtook a building on Columbia St. near West 9th St., were searching for drugs and guns believed to be in one of the apartments, however they found only a .9 mm pistol and a .45-caliber handgun.
The takedown was the culmination of a year-long investigation into a local drug gang, police sources told the Daily News.
BROOKLYN’S REP. GOLDMAN FIGHTS TO PROTECT
NATIONWIDE — Congressman Dan Goldman (D-10/western Brooklyn) on Thursday joined the advocacy group Protect Our Care New York for a virtual conference to discuss House Republicans’ recently passed “Default on America Act.” Goldman warns that the legislation “rips away health care from as many as 21 million people who count on it by imposing burdensome paperwork requirements,” in particular persons who can’t work, including those with disabilities, senior citizens in nursing homes, and people of color and those who have been unable to find jobs.
Goldman points out that while Medicaid has strengthened local economies, provided New Yorkers with access to quality, affordable health care, and improved health outcomes across the state, more than 2.3 million New Yorkers — over 11% of the state’s population — would be at risk of losing access to Medicaid if the Republicans’ draconic work requirement policy were to become law.
GILLIBRAND PUSHES DRUG FAST-TRACK FOR ALS, ALZHEIMER’S, OTHERS
WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday announced the Promising Pathway Act, bipartisan legislation that would expedite provisional approval of drugs intended to treat ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other life-threatening diseases. The standard FDA drug approval process involves expensive and time-consuming testing phases, meaning that many patients die before new treatments make it to market; the act would let pharmaceutical companies seek provisional approval of drugs that clear early-stage clinical trials and show significant evidence of effectiveness, making these medications available to those whose lives depend on them while the full trial and approval process continues.
Senator Gillibrand leads the Promising Pathway Act in the Senate with Senator Mike Braun (R-IN); U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Mike Quigley (D-IL) are introducing companion legislation in the House.
HANIF TO HOLD CARE WORKER APPRECIATION DAY
PARK SLOPE — City Councilmember Shahana Hanif, alongside Care Forward, a project of the Carroll Gardens Association that advocates for the rights of care workers, plans to hold a Care Worker Appreciation event at J.J. Byrne Park in Park Slope on Friday, in support of domestic home workers such as nannies, cleaners and aides. Organizers are offering refreshments and goody bags for workers, as well as resources and information for both workers and employers.
The event will take place on Friday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; more information about Care Forward and care workers’ rights can be found on the Carroll Gardens Association’s website.
REP. GOLDMAN INTRODUCES AMENDMENTS
TO REFORM GOP’s BORDER BILL
WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Dan Goldman (D-10), whose district encompasses two icons of U.S. history and immigration — the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island — and an ethnically-diverse Brooklyn, on Thursday, April 27, introduced seven amendments to reform what he calls the “extreme MAGA Republicans’ xenophobic and inhumane border bill.” Goldman, who sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security, introduced amendments that would, among several points, protect funding for an independent oversight office that investigates conditions at detention facilities and instances of abuse and misconduct targeting migrants; direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to disrupt the trafficking of U.S.-made firearms into Mexico; require a report from DHS on the reunification status of migrant children who were forcibly separated from their families by the Trump administration; prevent the gutting of the Shelter and Services Program and the return of family detention policies.
The amendments would also block Republicans from stripping funding from nongovernmental organizations that work to assist migrants.
DUMBO BID ANNOUNCES SUMMER ARCHWAY MUSIC AND ART SERIES
DUMBO — The DUMBO Improvement District on Tuesday announced this summer’s lineup for Live at the Archway, an annual series of free concerts and interactive visual arts programming held beneath the Manhattan Bridge Archway that reflect the neighborhood’s diversity and commitment to creativity. Musical performers include Paul Beaubrun, Crys Matthews, trio Bandits on the Run, Bassel & The Supernaturals, Zabelê, Dayna Kurtz, and Lulada Club; Dumbo-based visual artists who will collaborate with visitors at the Art Wall include CAM, Eleanor Kupencow, Yen Ha, Samaya Glazier, Jack Florczyk, Chelsea Hrynick Browne, while a collaboration with Cuban Art Space/Center for Cuban Studies will wrap up the series.
The series will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays from June 14 to July 26th; local chefs and restaurants will also offer tasty bites and drinks.
BROOKLYN CUNY GRAD WINS $90K FELLOWSHIP
QUEENS — CUNY announced on Wednesday that Jermaine Anthony Richards, a 2017 York College alumnus and current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Southern California, was selected for the $90,000 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which is awarded to immigrants and children of immigrants. Richards, who began his academic success story at Brooklyn’s High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media, is the son of Jamaican immigrants and a third-generation CUNY alum, and credits his success to the support and encouragement of his mother and grandmother, as well as to the mentorship of his York College professors.
Richards in a press statement says he intends to go into academia and wants to “harness the power of technology to create innovative solutions addressing pressing global concerns.”
BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK LAUNCHES WATERFRONT WORKOUTS
DUMBO — Brooklyn Bridge Park on Wednesday announced the launch of a summer workout series featuring free exercise classes set against the backdrop of the East River and the Manhattan skyline. Classes include yoga, Zumba, core training and bootcamp sessions; are open for all fitness and skill levels; and, are led by instructors from partners Abhaya Yoga, Chelsea Piers Fitness and the Dodge YMCA.
Signup is required to participate as space is limited — registration is now open for May, and future classes will open on a month-to-month basis; registration forms, schedules and more info can be found online on the BBP website.
‘DENIM DAY’ RALLY AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE MARCHES OVER BK BRIDGE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Mayor’s Office and the Denim Day NYC Committee on Wednesday hosted a march over the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Borough Hall to a rally in Manhattan’s Foley Square for this year’s Denim Day, on which people around the world wear denim to raise awareness of sexual violence. Deputy BP Kim Council opened the day with rousing remarks before the marchers headed over the bridge, where the Drumline from Brooklyn’s PROGRESS High School for Professional Careers chanted support on the way to Foley Square to share stories, calls to action and demands for change; baseball legend Joe Torre and Ali Torre spoke on their twenty-year journey of helping students heal from trauma with their anti-violence charity Safe at Home, Brooklyn’s Liberty Middle School Step Team wowed onlookers and Councilmember Farah Louis led cries of defiance.
Denim Day began in protest after a controversial Italian court judgment blamed a sexual assault victim for wearing tight jeans, and now takes place every year on the last Wednesday of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; a coalition of survivors, advocates, service providers, city council members and city agencies have partnered to plan educational and outreach events throughout the city every April since 2010.
COMMUNITY BOARD 9 INCREASES JEWISH REPRESENTATION
CROWN HEIGHTS — Brooklyn’s Community Board 9, which covers Crown Heights, on Tuesday announced that it had updated its composition to include more representatives from the growing Hasidic community in the neighborhood, with seven new members of the Lubavitch sect joining the two already serving on the board, reports COL Live, while three new Jewish members joined neighboring Flatbush’s Community Board 17. The change comes after Lubavitch leaders in March met with Brooklyn BP Antonio Reynoso and petitioned him to bring CB 9’s community makeup more in line with that of the area — Crown Heights is 18% Jewish.
In addition to appointing the new representatives, COL Live reports Reynoso also expressed a commitment to working with the Lubavitch community to navigate street closures, landmarking and zoning rules, as well as increasing mental health resources for Hebrew speakers; the BP was then invited to participate in a Friendship Circle bike ride with area locals.
POLICE SEEK MAN WHO SUCKERPUNCHED SENIOR
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Police are searching for a man who on the morning of Wednesday, April 26, approached a 67-year-old man on a Downtown Brooklyn street and, unprovoked, punched the victim in the face, causing him to strike his head on a parked car and the pavement, before fleeing eastbound on Willoughby Street. The suspect is described as a male with a dark complexion and a thin build, approximately 25 to 35 years old and 6’ tall; he was last seen wearing a black mask, black hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants, white socks and black slippers.
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 Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
COMPTROLLER LANDER CITES ALBANY’S UNCERTAINTY,
ASYLEE COSTS IN CRITIQUE OF MAYOR’S NEW BUDGET
CITYWIDE — City Comptroller Brad Lander was quick to comment on the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget, released on Wednesday afternoon, and cited uncertainty from Albany as a variable that must be addressed, particularly for New York’s most vulnerable citizens. “Unfortunately, without an adopted State budget from Albany, the City is operating in the dark when it comes to the impacts of proposed assistance and potential cost shifts, and today’s Executive Budget reflects that uncertainty,” wrote Comptroller Lander. “Jobs have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels and tax revenues have come in above projections, but the economic success we are seeing now remains uncertain and inequitable. With half of New Yorkers struggling with cost of living, addressing affordability must be a top priority.”
Lander added some criticism on what he called “shortsighted” prioritizing of emergency shelter for asylee arrivals rather than helping them assimilate and work legally in the U.S.
PARALEGAL CHARGED WITH USING LAW FIRM’S ESCROW FUNDS
FOR PERSONAL EXPENSES
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A former Brooklyn paralegal has been charged with embezzling more than $400,000 from the law firm where he worked, and allegedly stealing from the firm’s Interest On Lawyer Account (IOLA) fund, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Wednesday, April 26. The IOLA fund contained settlement money belonging to firm clients which the paralegal used for paying personal expenses, including credit card bills.
The defendant, whom the DA identified as 48-year-old Steven Cher, a.k.a. Vladislav Cherednichenko, now residing in Texas, was arraigned on Wednesday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a multi-count indictment: second-degree grand larceny, second-degree money laundering, first-degree identity theft, and thirty-two counts of first-degree falsifying business records. Released on his own recognizance, the defendant must return to court on May 1.
CITY AGENCIES TO BREAK GROUND FOR HOUSING
AT WOODHULL HOSPITAL CAMPUS
BROADWAY TRIANGLE — As part of the system’s Housing for Health initiative, NYC Health + Hospitals, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and Comunilife will break ground this week on the Comunilife Throop Residence. The complex is a new, $41.5 million 93-unit apartment building at 171 Throop Avenue near Broadway Triangle, on the campus of NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. Patients of NYC Health + Hospitals who are experiencing homelessness will be selected for the building’s 56 units of supportive housing, and they will receive services from Comunilife and healthcare from Woodhull Hospital.
The remaining apartments comprise 21 affordable homes for extremely low-income seniors, 15 affordable homes for low-income New Yorkers, and one unit for the building super.
UNREFRIGERATED READY-TO-EAT HALAL MEATS
BEING RECALLED FOR ‘TEMPERATURE ABUSE’
BROOKLYN AND STATEWIDE — The USDA has announced that Alef Sausage Inc. is recalling approximately 61,574 pounds of ready-to-eat halal meat and poultry sausage products, after the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets discovered products with misbranded labels in a Brooklyn store, according to an April 26 story published in the Hudson Valley Post. The labels on halal beef and sausage products with the brand name Sheikh failed to mention that the items required refrigeration.
The meats were recalled due to “temperature abuse,” resulting from the retailers not knowing that these packaged meats were perishable; but neither source named the Brooklyn store where the unrefrigerated meats were located.
ASSEMBLYMEMBER COLTON INTRODUCES BILL TO
MAKE ASIAN LUNAR NEW YEAR A STATE HOLIDAY
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 47/SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — Assemblyman William Colton (D-47) on Tuesday, April 25, introduced Bill A01275 to declare Asian Lunar Year as a new public holiday in New York state, joining more than 50 of his State Assembly colleagues who co-sponsored the legislation. Colton, whose district in Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend and Dyker Heights has a significant Asian population, said, “Asian Americans have played a vital role in forming our nation while continuously facing discrimination and violence throughout U.S. History. Amid all the hate crimes Asians face, creating a public holiday such as Lunar New Year will promote and increase awareness of Asian history and tradition.”
“This holiday is one of the most important traditional holidays amongst the Asian community and is widely celebrated within the New York communities,” added Colton.
HAITI CULTURAL EXCHANGE PRESENTS LITERATURE SALON
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Haiti Cultural Exchange is holding another session of its Salon D’Ayiti literature series this weekend, featuring readings, signings and discussions from a slate of Haitian and diaspora authors, including Edwidge Danticat, Ibi Zoboi, Kettly Mars and more; as well as opportunities to chat and mingle with the authors. The programming, on Friday and Saturday, will be trilingual in English, French and Kreyol — the Exchange notes that translations can’t be provided for the non-English events.
The free salon will take place at the Center for Fiction in Downtown Brooklyn on Friday, April 28, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Saturday, April 29, from 11:20 a.m. to 4 p.m.; seating is first come first served, and information about author schedules can be found online on Eventbrite and on the Exchange’s website.
QUILTERS GUILD TO HOLD QUILT SHOW FOR 30TH ANNIVERSARY
PARK SLOPE — The Brooklyn Quilters Guild is holding its first major show in five years in celebration of its 30th anniversary this weekend, exhibiting a collection of 200 colorful quilts, along with auctions and workshops. The Guild will also be raffling off a blue-and-yellow sunflower quilt in order to raise money for UNICEF in support of Ukrainian refugees.
The quilt show will be held on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the BKLOFT26 venue; tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and more information can be found on the Guild’s website.
JEWISH COUNCIL TO OFFER FREE ACCOUNTANT TRAINING PROGRAM
CONEY ISLAND — The Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island is hosting a 12-week Zoom course on office accounting for unemployed and underemployed people this summer. The program, funded by the state Department of Labor, will cover introductory and advanced bookkeeping and office management skills and is intended to help students join the workforce; the organizers will also assist students with finding employment after completing the course.
The class is free and runs from May 2 to July 12 on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings; spots are limited, and applications can be submitted online.
WORKERS AT BROOKLYN MUSEUM PICKET ARTISTS BALL, DEMANDING WAGE INCREASES
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Chanting “overworked and underpaid” and “Brooklyn is a union town,” staff of the Brooklyn Museum picketed the cultural institution’s annual Artists Ball last week for better wages, according to reports published in ARTNews and other publications. The union is fighting for sustainable wage increases of at least 9 to 10% or higher, with its members alleging that the Brooklyn Museum’s wages are among the lowest in comparison with other arts institutions, according to bargain committee member and the museum’s senior registrar Samantha Cortez, according to hyperallergic.com’s report.
Some of the ball attendees supported and marched with the picketers, including Suneil Sangziri, the fourth annual UOVO prize winner, filmmaker and researcher, Sangziri said that he, too, is a member of UAW, one of the unions involved in the wage dispute.
POLICE SEEK MISSING GIRL IN BUSHWICK
BUSHWICK — Police are searching for missing girl Helen Perez, 11, last seen on the afternoon of Sunday, April 23, at her Bushwick home. Helen is described as Hispanic White, 4’9” tall and approximately 100 pounds with black hair; she was last seen wearing a black sweater, black sweatpants and multi-colored sneakers.
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.
RESTLER’S PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING WINNERS FOCUS ON HEALING THE CLIMATE CRISIS
COUNCIL DISTRICT 33 — The three winning projects from City Councilmember Lincoln Restler’s Participatory Budgeting voting all contribute to the effort to protect the climate, according to an announcement made on Wednesday, April 26. The first winner, Plant Neighborhood Trees for Climate Resilience: New Trees Across District 33, will invest $420,000 to plant a total of 120 new street trees across Restler’s district, with a focus on areas where people are vulnerable to heat. ‘Gateway to Greenpoint’ New Green Space and Stormwater Diversion Project will contribute $350,000 towards the total cost of developing a public greenspace on a roughly 12,000 square-foot city-owned parcel at the corner of Greenpoint and Kingsland Avenues. And the Grounds Improvement Project for Gowanus Houses Community Center will contribute $250,000 to the improvement of landscaping and expansion of greenspace around the building for community enjoyment.
Said Restler, “Neighbors were actively engaged throughout the process, and put forward some terrific ideas!”
BROOKLYN MAN ARRESTED AT LAGUARDIA AIRPORT FOR WEAPONS POSSESSION
LAGUARDIA AIRPORT — A Brooklyn man was arrested on Tuesday, April 25, at LaGuardia Airport, after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a loaded .22 caliber handgun and more than 100 bullets in the man’s carry-on bag. The man, whose name law enforcement authorities had not released as of press time, claimed he had forgotten about the weapon and ammunition after having been at a shooting range. Port Authority Police were alerted to the handgun ammunition after the x-ray equipment triggered an alarm and the carry-on bag was closely inspected.
This was the second firearm that TSA officers have detected at the airport’s checkpoints so far this year. Last year, 6,542 firearms — 88% of them loaded — were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide.
NEW REPORT FROM UNITED WAY SHOWS 50% OF NEW YORKERS STRUGGLE
CITYWIDE/BROWNSVILLE — Fifty percent of working age New Yorkers are struggling to cover their basic needs, according to a new report from the United Way of New York. Titled the 2023 NYC True Cost of Living report, this document reveals a 38% increase from the 2021 edition, equating to 1,298,212 households or 2,991,973 people, showing the profound economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on New York City working-age households, particularly among people of color, immigrants (particularly Latino) and single mothers.
Central Brooklyn neighborhoods particularly impacted include Brownsville and Ocean Hill.
NOTIFY NYC PROGRAM ADDS NEW MESSAGE TYPES FOR OPT-IN
CITYWIDE — The New York City Office of Emergency Management on Wednesday, April 26, introduced new Message Types to its Notify NYC system, and are already requesting customer feedback on the changes. The new Message Types are Police Advisories, or law enforcement announcements tailored to the mobile phone user’s neighborhood from one’s local police precinct; and Basement Alerts, notifications to alert those living in basement apartments about life-threatening weather conditions with such phone calls going out to subscribers at any time, including during overnight hours.
Subscribers will need to opt-in for either of these new message types, by visiting NYC.gov/notifynyc, logging into their accounts, and updating the notification preferences under the “My Account” tab. The customer survey link is accessible online.
SUMMERSTAGE CONCERT LINEUP ANNOUNCED
CITYWIDE — The Capital One City Parks Foundation on Tuesday announced the SummerStage 2023 season lineup, presenting 80 free and benefit shows across the five boroughs starting on June 10. Fans can enjoy the summer season with established and emerging artists from across the globe playing salsa, jazz, reggae, soul and more; the concert series will also be shining a celebratory spotlight on the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
Brooklyn free show highlights include Brooklyn-based soulful R&B artist Nick Hakim on July 14 in Von King Park, along with The Coney Island Amphitheater presenting reggae artist Skip Marley on July 9; the Golden Oldies on the Boardwalk concert featuring The Duprees, The Coasters, Charlie Thomas’ Drifters with Jeff Hall and Bobby Wilson on July 16; and Jose Alberto “El Canario” performing with The Big 3 Palladium Orchestra including The Music of Machito, Tito Rodriguez and Tito Puente on August 20; the full SummerStage lineup and more information can be found on the City Parks Foundation’s website.
CITY SUED OVER ALLEGED OPEN STREETS ADA VIOLATIONS
CITYWIDE — A group of mobility-impaired people on Monday filed a lawsuit against the city over the Open Streets program, alleging that the restricted access to vehicles on their blocks makes it difficult for them to leave their homes — or for emergency services to reach them, citing two incidents in which ambulances were delayed by heavy metal fences blocking the mandatory 15-foot emergency access lanes. The lawsuit, led by advocacy org NYC Access for All, claims that the city did not do impact studies when determining which streets would join the program, that officials have ignored complaints, and that the rollout of the program has been left to under-trained volunteers, leading to improperly restricted emergency lanes and blocked curb ramps; several plaintiffs who suffer from illnesses or use canes describe struggling to move barriers and to reach street corners to take taxis or Access-A-Ride buses, as well as harassment by volunteers while driving.
The group is asking for a jury trial and wants an end to the popular outdoor program entirely, alleging that it constitutes a violation of their rights under the ADA, as well as of city and state human rights laws.
BROOKLYN UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN SINCE LAST YEAR, SAYS LABOR DEPT
CITYWIDE — Statistics released by the state Department of Labor on Tuesday show that New York City overall, as well as Brooklyn, saw a reduction in unemployment over the last 12-month period. NYC’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.3% to 5.2%, while Brooklyn’s dropped from 6.5% to 5.4% between March of 2022 and March of 2023 — a positive change, although Brooklyn’s unemployment rate is still the second highest of the boroughs, behind only the Bronx’s 6.9%.
The NYC jobs market has largely recovered from pandemic job losses, but some economists are worried about looming challenges from the drawbacks in the banking and technology sectors, as well as to the overall labor market as a result of progress in automation and artificial intelligence.
GUTIERREZ ANNOUNCES INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
CITYWIDE — Councilmembers Amanda Farías and Jennifer Gutiérrez on Tuesday announced their Industrial Development Action Plan legislation, which would require the Department of City Planning, Department of Small Business Services, and the Economic Development Corporation to collaborate on a citywide plan to support industrial development, expand and retain industrial businesses and jobs, and coordinate to meet infrastructure, green energy and supply chain needs. The bill complements efforts to update the city’s manufacturing and industrial zoning regulations, unchanged since 1961, which officials believe hinder industrial growth by forcing competition with commercial uses and nightlife and restricting density.
“New York City’s industrial sector has the opportunity to be the modern beating heart of opportunity for working families, immigrants, and communities of color, while also growing our economy and supporting essential infrastructure that keeps our city running… A coordinated plan for industrial development and protection will enable us to unlock its full potential,” wrote Gutiérrez in a press statement.
MAYOR RELEASES LARGEST EXECUTIVE BUDGET IN NYC HISTORY
CITYWIDE — Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday released the Executive Budget For Fiscal Year 2024, considered the largest in the city’s history. The 2024 Budget protects critical programs for working New Yorkers and offers good news for libraries and other cultural institutions by not cutting funds. The budget also includes strategic investments that improve New Yorkers’ quality of life, including investments that create sustainability and resiliency programs, strengthen the city’s mental health resources, build out the college-to-career pipeline and uplift working people.
The city’s absorption of more than 57,000 asylum seekers prompted Mayor Adams to implement a Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG) in the Executive Budget to reduce costs and promote efficiency. The city anticipates that the cost of providing shelter, food, clothing and other services for asylum seekers will be $4.3 billion through the end of FY24.
HALE AND HEARTY SOUPS BRAND IS REVIVED; BUT ONLY IN MOBILE FORM
CITYWIDE — Hale and Hearty Soups, which at one time had a store on Remsen Street near St. Francis College and later moved to MetroTech Center, is back in business, reports EATER New York. Founded in the 1990s, Hale and Hearty had declared bankruptcy about six months ago but now has new owners, Hearty Acquisitions, operating under the auspices of kosher caterer Mauzone Food Service.
Hale and Hearty will operate pushcarts and kiosks across the city, and packaged versions of its soups — which have included coconut shrimp — will soon be sold from grocery stores; but, alas, no new storefronts.
NEW BILL WOULD DECREASE NUMBER OF MANDATED SCHOOL LOCKDOWN DRILLS
STATEWIDE — State Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon on Wednesday introduced a bill which aims to improve the state-wide lockdown drill mandate by decreasing the mandated frequency of such drills, and ensuring that these lockdown drills help students both be and feel safe. Indexed as Senate Bill S6537, the legislation would seek to address that balance by requiring advance notice of lockdown drills to parents and guardians, allowing them to opt out, providing accommodations for students with PTSD, or other emotional or physical needs who could be traumatized, requiring school staff to provide age-appropriate explanations of the drills to the students, and offering thorough and standardized trainings on how to conduct the drills effectively and compassionately.
The bill would reduce the number of required drills from four to just one, amending the current law passed in 2016, whose four-drill mandate was the highest in the U.S. All schools in New York State below college level are also required to conduct 12 fire (evacuation) drills per year.
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