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What’s News, Breaking: Monday, May 8, 2023

May 8, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BROOKLYN MUSIC SCHOOL’S GALA CELEBRATES ‘ARTS FOR ALL’

FORT GREENE AND GREENPOINT — The Brooklyn Music School in Fort Greene, celebrating 114 years, will hold its annual fundraising gala on Tuesday, May 23, to expand current programs and to generate additional scholarship support at the historic performing arts institution at 126 St. Felix Street. This year’s gala theme, “Accessing the Arts,” builds on the BMS’ mission of “Arts for All,” highlighting the importance of accessibility in the performing arts space, where 800 students receive high-quality performing arts instruction on-site, an additional 1,500 through its outreach program all around the city, and roughly 8,000 indirectly in audiences each year.

Hosting the gala is Rule of Thirds, 171 Banker Street in Greenpoint; the event venue is named for a method in another art form — photography.

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DAILY TOP BROOKLYN NEWS
News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

PUBLIC COMMENT INVITED FOR CLEANUP OF BROWNFIELD SITE
AT 318 NEVINS ST.

GOWANUS — The state Department of Environmental Conservation invites public comment about a proposed site cleanup of a brownfield location at 318 Nevins Street in Gowanus — just around the corner from another brownfield site, the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club on Union St., that has also been in the news recently. The DEC’s proposed Restricted Residential Use remedy has several components; among them: excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated shallow soils to about 2 feet below surface grade across the majority of the site, and to 13 feet below surface within more contaminated areas of the site; collection and analysis of post-remedial soil and groundwater samples to evaluate the effectiveness of the remedy; placement of a cover system over areas without hardscape (buildings, asphalt or concrete) to address contamination remaining above restricted residential use standards.

DEC is accepting public comments about the proposal through June 19, 2023, The project documents are accessible online, and in person at the Community Board 6 office, 250 Baltic St., and the BPL Carroll Gardens Library at 396 Clinton St.

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MAN WHO USED U-HAUL TRUCK AS WEAPON
CHARGED, HELD WITHOUT BAIL

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A Nevada man who ran a U-Haul into a group of civilians in multiple Bay Ridge locations was charged in Brooklyn State Supreme Court on Monday, May 8, on a 25-count indictment including murder, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced. The defendant, identified as Weng Sor, 62, formerly of Las Vegas, is charged with murder, attempted murder and assault in the February 13, 2023 incident, when he drove a U-Haul truck into 10 civilians, killing one and injuring two police officers. According to witnesses and surveillance footage, the defendant struck numerous e-bike riders and a bicyclist and endangered pedestrians, motorists and people waiting to cross the street.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun presided at the arraignment, and the defendant is being held without bail until his next court date on May 31.

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REP. MALLIOTAKIS CALLS ON US DOT TO CONDUCT
MORE THOROUGH CLIMATE STUDY ON CONGESTION PRICING

BAY RIDGE — A member of Brooklyn’s Congressional delegation has spoken out against the Federal Highway Administration’s May 5 tentative approval of congestion pricing. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwestern Brooklyn), a member of the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus, in a joint statement with colleagues Mike Lawler (R-NY), Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), expressed disappointment “that the U.S Department of Transportation help the MTA fleece the families of New York and New Jersey with this costly program without requiring a full and thorough Environmental Impact Statement to learn the plan’s true impact on residents, commuters, tourism, and small businesses. By the MTA’s own admission, the Congestion Tax plan would actually increase air pollution and harm our environment.”

The Caucus has introduced the Make Transportation Authorities Accountable and Transparent Act, which would require the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to conduct a full audit of the MTA to see how it spent billions in federal assistance, along with the Economic Impact of Tolling Act.

**Originally published on Monday, May 8, this brief erroneously named [former NJ Governor] Tom Kean, instead of his son, Tom Kean, Jr., (R-NJ) as a member of the Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus.

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ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FROM BROOKLYN HONORED
WITH DIRECTOR’S AWARD FOR SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN AND WASHINGTON, DC — Assistant United States Attorney Layaliza Soloveichik of the U.S. District Court/Eastern District-New York was among those recognized at the 38th Director’s Awards Ceremony, held last week in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building, Washington, D.C. Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, congratulated Ms. Soloveichik for receiving a Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, saying, “Layaliza’s vision, skill, and tenacity as a litigator and supervisor on behalf of the United States have enhanced the stature of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and furthered the mission of the Department of Justice.”

Ms. Soloveichik is identified on attorney directory sites, such as Justia, as being Brooklyn-based. A 2013 New York Times Opinion piece by David Brooks also chronicled her family’s life in Midwood.

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FAA ESTABLISHES NEW DIRECT EAST COAST AIR ROUTES

NATIONWIDE — The new airline requirement announcement also follows last week’s Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) own activation of 169 new direct routes along the East Coast, starting this summer.  Implemented to save passengers time and fuel, and to increase safety, the new routes utilize more advanced GPS navigation systems rather than on-ground radar, which will shave off 40,000 miles and 6,000 minutes of travel time annually and are expected to prevent delays by giving the agency more capacity to direct traffic to specific routes.

The new routes also give air traffic controllers more flexibility during stormy weather that frequently impacts traditional hub airports in New York, Charlotte and Atlanta (Delta).

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BIDEN: AIRLINES MUST COMPENSATE PASSENGERS
FOR CANCELLATIONS

Following President Joe Biden’s Monday afternoon announcement that airlines will be required to compensate passengers for cancellations or significant delays, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement praising the President’s action.  “Millions of Americans have been inconvenienced because airlines have overbooked flights, refused to secure adequate staffing, or otherwise failed to ensure they can take off and land when they promised. That is why I urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to take action and hold airlines accountable.”

Airline cancellations, poor service, and costly delays were one of the top ten complaints made by New York consumers in 2022, according to a report that Attorney General James released in March. r

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MAYOR FLOATS TENT CAMP IN CITY PARKS AFTER MIGRANT FUND SNUB

CITYWIDE — A leaked memo from Mayor Adams’ administration obtained and verified by CNN on Friday revealed that the city is considering a plan to erect large-scale tent camps in public locations around the city to house the thousands of asylum seekers that have arrived in the city from the southern border since late last year, with possible campsites including Central Park, Prospect Park, the Park Slope YMCA, Coney Island’s beach, the campuses of Medgar Evers and York colleges, the parking lots at Citi Field, and even retrofitted aircraft hangars at JFK Airport. The memo predicted an increase in arrivals next week after the end of a pandemic-era restriction that has allowed immigration officials to turn back migrants at the border, estimating a jump from 500 people per day to 800 people per day.

A spokesperson from the mayor declined to comment on the memo, but told CNN that after filling NYPD training gyms with temporary accommodations this week, the city has run out of space for new arrivals and is considering a variety of plans; the struggle to find beds for the new arrivals as mandated by state law has so far strained the city’s budget, with people being housed in shelters ranging from upscale hotels to cruise terminal bays.

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BACKLASH FROM UPSTATE COUNTIES OVER MIGRANT PLAN

ROCKLAND — Rockland and Orange counties bristled on Friday following an announcement by Mayor Adams that NYC is planning to mitigate its asylum seeker housing crisis by transporting several hundred single men to upstate hotels with the promise to pay up to four months of the migrants’ living expenses, reports ABC News, prompting Rockland to declare a state of emergency aimed at keeping the group away, while Orange is considering doing the same. Officials from the two areas told the New York Times that the mayor’s office hadn’t notified them prior to booking the hotels and that there was significant doubt that the asylum seekers would be able to become self-sufficient within four months, as well as noting that the hotels are in rural areas without access to shops and transportation.

“He didn’t talk to us, he didn’t say anything, he just went off and said, you know what I’m going to send them to Rockland, screw Rockland. Well, Mr. Adams, Mayor Adams, you are in for a fight now,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said, later adding, to the Times, “Whatever we need to do to stop this, we will do.”

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ROOF COLLAPSES OVER BK BUSINESSES, SENDS BRICKS FLYING

FLATLANDS — Customers at a row of Flatlands businesses were left shocked after the collapse of part of the structure’s rooftop on Sunday afternoon sent bricks flying, reports CBS News, with bystanders calling it “a miracle” that nobody was injured. Customers inside the businesses, including an Italian ice store, a smoke shop, a church and a laundromat, said that they witnessed the entire building’s rooftop protective wall break off and fall to the sidewalk; the Department of Buildings issued a vacate order and slapped the owner with a citation, as well as an order to install a safety fence around the rubble.

“I’m standing out here getting a large pistachio ice and I hear a crackling noise. I’m saying what’s that? Then all of a sudden the whole face of the building, from the corner to the end, started falling. So I took everybody and I pushed them into the street to get away… This could’ve killed someone,” said customer Jay Fromer.

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THREE DEAD AFTER CAR CRASHES INTO TREE

BAY RIDGE — Police announced the deaths of three adults on Sunday morning from a car crash near the Belt Parkway, reports the New York Post. The vehicle crashed into a tree and caught fire, trapping the passengers inside; the victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while a fourth man escaped and was transported to NYU-Langone in stable condition.

Victims have not been named pending an active investigation and family notification.

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PUBLIC SCHOOL COUNCIL ELECTIONS TURN BITTER OVER SOCIAL ISSUES

CITYWIDE — As the deadline to vote for the public schools’ Community Education Council members approaches, some parents are charging that volunteer group Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, or PLACE, is staging a takeover of the little-known advisory boards in order to advance an “anti-woke” agenda, reports Gothamist. The district-based councils are elected by public school parents and give input into school zoning decisions, as well as taking an advisory role in other matters; PLACE’s critics say that the group endorses far-right candidates and echoes conservative talking points about LGBT and diversity issues, while its co-founder Yiatin Chu describes it as a politically neutral parents’ organization that opposes the elimination of the specialized high school tests and supports merit-based initiatives.

The deadline to vote for CEC candidates is 11:59 p.m. on May 9; more information about candidates and voting procedures can be found on the public schools’ official city webpage.

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PROTESTERS BLOCK TRACKS OVER HOMELESS MAN’S CHOKEHOLD DEATH

LENOX HILL — A group of activists protesting the city’s response to the death of Jordan Neely, filmed dying from a chokehold on the F train last Monday during an altercation with former Marine Daniel Penny, took to the rails on Saturday night at the Lexington Avenue-63rd Street station to demand Penny’s arrest, reports ABC News. Videos from onlookers show protesters climbing onto the subway tracks — some standing on the third rail cover — and blocking an oncoming train; police clashed on the platform with the angry crowd and arrested 13 people, with six more being sought, according to Gothamist.

The incident, which many view as racially charged, has deeply divided the city: Mayor Adams called for restraint during the ongoing investigation; while others, such as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Public Advocate Jumaane Wiliams, have called for Penny’s arrest, describing him as a reckless vigilante; Penny’s lawyers claim that Neely had threatened him and other passengers, citing a history of arrests for violent behavior; while Neely’s family has described him as a troubled and in need of aid, sharing videos of the performer dancing as Michael Jackson in earlier years. All agree that the city’s safety nets for the homeless and mentally ill failed, but opinions are sharply split over who bears the blame and what solutions to implement.

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POLS CRITICIZE FEMA’S CHOICE TO NOT FUND CITY MIGRANT CARE

CITYWIDE — City officials blasted the federal government this weekend after learning on Friday that the city would only be receiving $30 million of the $350 million it had requested from FEMA to handle expenses related to the wave of more than 60,000 migrants from the southern border over the last year, despite assurances from the agency that New York would be included in later rounds of funding, according to Politico. A spokesperson for the mayor’s office called the choice “disappointing and woefully insufficient,” while Councilmembers Adrienne Adams and Justin Brannan issued a joint statement, writing, “[O]ur City continues to shoulder the significant bulk and cost of this humanitarian response, which is unfair and unsustainable without the necessary funding from all levels of government.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman also criticized the decision, as well as Republican leaders, writing in a statement, “While Republican governors in border states have played politics with human lives by sending migrants, including many asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution, to cities around the country, New York City has proudly served as a model for the nation in welcoming these migrants with open arms and assisting them with shelter, food, medical care, and support. New York has spent more than $1 billion… It is incumbent on the federal government to pay its fair share for these unexpected immigration-related expenses.”

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QUEENS MAN GETS LIFE FOR KILLING GIRLFRIEND

BUSHWICK — Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez on Friday announced that Gabriel Rivera, 30, of Ridgewood, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to the 2018 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Sade Sanchez, 24. An investigation found that, after Sanchez ended their nine-year relationship in September of that year, Rivera repeatedly attempted to contact her and stalked her Bushwick home; on Oct. 6, Rivera assaulted a male friend of the victim in front of her house, saying that “no one could be with his woman;” and finally, on Oct. 7, as Ms. Sanchez was walking on Menahan Street with her mother and the male friend, Rivera approached, pulled out a firearm and shot her five times; he then pointed it in her mother’s face and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire.

Rivera fled and was arrested the following day; he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree attempted assault and first-degree stalking in March.

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HOCHUL ANNOUNCES HURRICANE STUDY FOR NYC AREA

CITYWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a new Hurricane Evacuation Study, the first to be conducted since 2009, that will be used to improve catastrophic tropical storm planning and response efforts for the NYC area, including for potential hazards such as flooding and tornadoes, sheltering and transportation issues and other demographic and socioeconomic factors. Led by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services in partnership with FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Hurricane Center, and local emergency management agencies, the first two phases of the study, hazard and vulnerability analyses, have already begun, and are expected to be completed next fall.

NYC’s Emergency Management last week urged New Yorkers to use the resources on the city’s Emergency Preparedness webpage to learn about hurricane preparedness ahead of the Atlantic hurricane season; NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol wrote in a press statement, “In the event of a significant coastal storm, City officials may issue evacuation orders based on what zone you reside in. New Yorkers can find out what zone they live in by visiting NYC.gov/knowyourzone or calling 3-1-1.”

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TIKTOK TREND SPIKES DEMAND FOR FRUIT ROLL-UPS

NATIONWIDE — A trendy food hack that has gone viral on the popular video-sharing app TikTok, involving using frozen Fruit Roll-Up candies to make ice cream cones, has caused a nationwide shortage of the snack and even spawned an international black market, according to the New York Post, which reports that an American couple was arrested last week at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport for attempting to smuggle 375 pounds of Fruit Roll-Ups into the country. Stores across the country report difficulties in keeping them in stock – one East Village candy store owner reports that a customer attempted to buy 10,000 boxes of the candy, but was unable to locate even one.

The trend has been profitable for the Windsor Terrace-based Joray Fruit Rolls company, who since the 1950s have manufactured a similar product made with real fruit: owner Ray Shalhoub told the Post that their sales have gone up 50 percent in the last two months.

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NAVY COMMISSIONS USS COOPERSTOWN: ‘AMERICA’S AWAY TEAM’

MANHATTAN — The Navy formally commissioned the new littoral combat ship the U.S.S. Cooperstown on Saturday, named after the upstate town that houses the Baseball Hall of Fame in honor of the more than 70 Hall-of-Famers who served in conflicts ranging from the Civil War to the Korean War, reports the Associated Press, including New York players Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio. The ceremony was attended by Johnny Bench and Joe Torre, who said in a speech, ““It is critical that we honor the legacy of these Hall of Famers, not just for what they did on the field, but for what they sacrificed and what they accomplished off the field. Their legacy lives on with the USS Cooperstown and with the sailors here today and in the years to come;” following the ceremony, the Cooperstown departed for its base in Florida.

Gov. Hochul also spoke at the event, saying “Today is a celebration. Today is also a day we think about those going forth, willing to go into harm’s way around the world… I know that truly this country will endure when we have patriots like those who are going to be boarding this ship, heading to Norfolk, heading to Florida, and someday perhaps heading into harm’s way. So, our love goes with them. You may call yourself America’s Away Team – but to all of you, you’ll always be in our hearts, America’s hometown team, starting right here in the great State of New York.” Read more on page 12 and online at www.brooklyneagle.com.

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NYU TANDON TO HOST TECH DESIGN SHOWCASE

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Following the success of last week’s Research Excellence Exhibit, NYU Tandon is hosting the Integrated Design & Media Showcase this Wednesday, featuring more than 100 interactive student works, ranging from fully immersive physical environments to new phone apps, that combine artistic inquiry with scientific research and technological practice to explore the social potentials of emerging technologies. Some highlights include an augmented reality navigation project that guides disabled users with projected information, voice commands and haptic feedback; an “Underwater Magical Forest” that submerges viewers in a 3D environment and invites them to rethink the symbiosis of marvelous creatures; VR games “Neela,” a horror experience that retells Little Red Riding Hood’s story using only spatial audio and haptic feedback, and “Something’s Coming,” a satire of toxic workplace culture; and More Than Blues, a culturally-informed support app for Black women suffering from postpartum depression that creates an environment removed from healthcare system letdowns and cultural stigma; along with many more.

The showcase is open to the public, and will take place on Wednesday, May 10 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Tandon’s Metrotech campus; a full list of projects can be found online on the school’s IDM website.

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TEENAGE GIRL MISSING IN GRAVESEND

GRAVESEND — The public is being asked to help find missing teenager Violet Rodriguez, 15,  last seen on the morning of Tuesday, May 2, leaving her residence in the Marlboro Houses. Violet is described as Hispanic, with a light complexion, approximately 5’2″ tall and 120 pounds, and was last seen wearing a black hoodie and gray sweatpants.

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.

Have you seen this girl? All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.

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POLICE SEEK TEEN SUSPECT FOR PARK STABBING

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Police are searching for a teenage suspect who, on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 3, became involved in a dispute with an 18-year-old man at McLaughlin Park, and proceeded to stab the victim multiple times in the torso before fleeing northbound on Jay Street; the victim was taken to the hospital in stable condition. The suspect is described as male, around 16 to 17 years old, with a medium complexion, approximately 5’8” to 5’9” and 140 pounds, and was last seen wearing a black and white hooded sweatshirt, gray sweatpants and black and white sneakers. McLaughlin Park has a reputation for danger in the community – local student Unique Smith, 15, was killed there in September of last year by a 16-year-old shooter, arrested in February after months on the run; prosecutors said that Smith had been mistakenly accused of gang membership by the other teen.

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.

The individual suspected of the stabbing. All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.

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CONGESTION PRICING NOW COALITION PRAISES
ISSUANCE OF LETTER FROM FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMIN

CITYWIDE — An organization identifying itself as the Congestion Pricing Now Coalition also praised the Federal Highway Administration for providing “the MTA and its partner agencies with a Letter of Legal Sufficiency, certifying that the program’s previously submitted Environmental Assessment includes all necessary documentation, analysis and mitigation measures required for federal approval,” according to a statement issued late Friday. The Coalition pointed out that the “letter brings New York one large step closer to the conclusion of the Environmental Assessment process and the issuing of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) needed to begin the implementation of Congestion Pricing.”

The Coalition declared, “This letter signals that New York will soon be able to move forward with a proven and effective program to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and generate the funding needed to upgrade and expand the public transportation system that millions of riders across the region rely on every day.”

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NYU TANDON TO HOST TECH DESIGN SHOWCASE

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Following the success of last week’s Research Excellence Exhibit, NYU Tandon is hosting the Integrated Design & Media Showcase this Wednesday, featuring more than 100 interactive student works, ranging from fully immersive physical environments to new phone apps, that combine artistic inquiry with scientific research and technological practice to explore the social potentials of emerging technologies. Some highlights include an augmented reality navigation project that guides disabled users with projected information, voice commands and haptic feedback; an “Underwater Magical Forest” that submerges viewers in a 3D environment and invites them to rethink the symbiosis of marvelous creatures; VR games “Neela,” a horror experience that retells Little Red Riding Hood’s story using only spatial audio and haptic feedback, and “Something’s Coming,” a satire of toxic workplace culture; and More Than Blues, a culturally-informed support app for Black women suffering from postpartum depression that creates an environment removed from healthcare system letdowns and cultural stigma; along with many more.

The showcase is open to the public, and will take place on Wednesday, May 10 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Tandon’s Metrotech campus; a full list of projects can be found online on the school’s IDM website. 

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TEENAGE GIRL MISSING IN GRAVESEND

GRAVESEND – The public is being asked to help find missing teenager Violet Rodriguez, 15,  last seen on the morning of Tuesday, May 2, leaving her residence in the Marlboro Houses. Violet is described as Hispanic, with a light complexion, approximately 5’2″ tall and 120 pounds, and was last seen wearing a black hoodie and gray sweatpants. 

Anyone with information in regard to 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, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. 

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POLICE SEEK TEEN SUSPECT FOR PARK STABBING

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Police are searching for a teenage suspect who, on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 3, became involved in a dispute with an 18-year-old man at McLaughlin Park, and proceeded to stab the victim multiple times in the torso before fleeing northbound on Jay Street; the victim was taken to the hospital in stable condition. The suspect is described as male, around 16 to 17 years old, with a medium complexion, approximately 5’8” to 5’9” and 140 pounds, and was last seen wearing a black and white hooded sweatshirt, gray sweatpants and black and white sneakers. McLaughlin Park has a reputation for danger in the community – local student Unique Smith, 15, was killed there in September of last year by a 16-year-old shooter, arrested in February after months on the run; prosecutors said that Smith had been mistakenly accused of gang membership by the other teen.

Anyone with information in regard to 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, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. 

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IN MEMORIAM: ROY SALTMAN, BROOKLYN TECH GRADUATE WHO WARNED AGAINST USE OF THE ‘HANGING CHAD’

Roy Gilbert Saltman, a Brooklyn Technical High School alumnus who later warned American voters about the hazards of hanging chads, has died at age 87, reports the New York Times’ Sam Roberts. Saltman, who became the U.S. federal government’s leading expert on computerized voting had — even before the disputed 2000 election tabulation results between George W. Bush and Al Gore — prophesied that the “hanging chad” on punch card ballots would cause problems when counting votes; yet his warnings were minimalized.

Saltman, who in 1988 was a federal analyst for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, bluntly recommended that the U.S. stop using the pre-scored punch card ballots because of the danger of the cardboard remnants staying attached and thus rendering the voter’s choice uncertain or invalid.

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CITY SUBWAYS SET POST-PANDEMIC RIDERSHIP RECORD

CITYWIDE — The New York City subways carried 4.02 million riders on Wednesday, May 3, recording the highest single-day number since March of 2020, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced on Friday, May 5. The exact figure of 4,020,991 paid rides on Wednesday marked the third time in three weeks that four million riders used the subway to get to work, school, or other destinations, after reaching the post-pandemic milestone on Thursday, April 20. Prior to the April 20 milestone, the last time the subways carried more than four million riders was March 12, 2020, when 4.1 million New Yorkers rode the subway.

Moreover, off the rails, 30,850 customers used New York City Transit’s Access-A-Ride paratransit service — also on Wednesday, May 3 — marking a new post-pandemic record for this service.

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BROOKLYN ATTORNEY MATTHEW MODAFFERI JOINS FRIER LEVITT AS LITIGATION TEAM PARTNER

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Matthew Modafferi, a Brooklyn resident and a former US Attorney serving here, has joined the law firm Frier Levitt as a partner in the Litigation Team. Mr. Modafferi, who previously served as Assistant United States Attorney, in the Civil Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), will focus his practice on white-collar defense and investigations, and on complex civil litigation. Frier Levitt is a boutique law firm with offices in New York and New Jersey whose attorneys represent clients in health care services, including large physician group practices, hospitals and hospital medical staffs.

Mr. Modafferi serves as an Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School, from which he earned his Juris Doctor degree, where he teaches litigation skills and learning from practice. As a Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Postal Service, Modafferi has also prosecuted cases involving postal employees charged with mail theft.

Matthew Modafferi. Photo: Frier Levitt.

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PRAISE FOR FEDERAL APPROVAL OF CONGESTION PRICING PLAN

BOROUGHWIDE — State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-26), whose district includes much of western and waterfront Brooklyn, including neighborhoods with fewer mass transit options, also praised Biden’s approval of congestion pricing. “The green light given today to congestion pricing is a huge step forward towards a New York City that is cleaner, greener, and easier for us all to get around in. I applaud the Federal Highway Administration’s decision today to approve the implementation of congestion pricing, and I look forward to continued work with my colleagues in the federal, state, and city governments to implement it without delay.”

As of press time on Friday, May 5, Congressmember Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) had not yet released a statement, although she has vehemently opposed congestion pricing as adding a double-toll burden on many in her district, which includes southwestern Brooklyn and Staten Island.

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BIDEN ADMINISTRATION APPROVES NYC CONGESTION PRICING PLAN

CITYWIDE — The Biden administration on Friday afternoon cleared New York’s controversial congestion pricing plan to move forward, with a The Federal Highway Administration letter approving the New York Metropolitan Transportation’s Authority environmental assessment and issuing a draft “Finding of No Significant Impact” that comes up for public review for 30 days. Several transit advocates and elected officials expressed approval, with City Comptroller Brad Lander stating “President Joe Biden gave a long awaited greenlight to implement a first-in-the-nation congestion pricing program that will keep New York City’s streets and subways moving for years to come. Implementing congestion pricing will fund much-needed accessibility improvements and signal modernization for our beleaguered subway system that will speed up train times while unclogging gridlock on city streets.”

Lander urged the MTA and the Traffic Mobility Review Board to “swiftly implement the program now to raise critical funds for our transit system.” 

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CONGESTION PRICING NOW COALITION PRAISES ISSUANCE OF LETTER FROM FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMIN.

CITYWIDE — An organization identifying itself as the Congestion Pricing Now Coalition also praised the Federal Highway Administration for “[providing] “the MTA and its partner agencies with a Letter of Legal Sufficiency, certifying that the program’s previously submitted Environmental Assessment includes all necessary documentation, analysis and mitigation measures required for federal approval,” according a statement issued late Friday. The Coalition pointed out that the letter “letter brings New York one large step closer to the conclusion of the Environmental Assessment process and the issuing of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) needed to begin the implementation of Congestion Pricing.”

The Coalition declared, “This letter signals that New York will soon be able to move forward with a proven and effective program to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and generate the funding needed to upgrade and expand the public transportation system that millions of riders across the region rely on every day.”

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POLS CRITICIZE FEMA’S CHOICE TO NOT FUND CITY MIGRANT CARE

CITYWIDE – City officials blasted the federal government this weekend after learning on Friday that the city would only be receiving $30 million of the $350 million it had requested from FEMA to handle expenses related to the wave of more than 60,000 migrants from the southern border over the last year, despite assurances from the agency that New York would be included in later rounds of funding, according to Politico. A spokesperson for the mayor’s office called the choice “disappointing and woefully insufficient,” while Councilmembers Adrienne Adams and Justin Brannan issued a joint statement, writing, “[O]ur City continues to shoulder the significant bulk and cost of this humanitarian response, which is unfair and unsustainable without the necessary funding from all levels of government.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman also criticized the decision, as well as Republican leaders, writing in a statement, “While Republican governors in border states have played politics with human lives by sending migrants, including many asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution, to cities around the country, New York City has proudly served as a model for the nation in welcoming these migrants with open arms and assisting them with shelter, food, medical care, and support. New York has spent more than $1 billion… It is incumbent on the federal government to pay its fair share for these unexpected immigration-related expenses.”

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QUEENS MAN GETS LIFE FOR KILLING GIRLFRIEND

BUSHWICK – Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez on Friday announced that Gabriel Rivera, 30, of Ridgewood, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to the 2018 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Sade Sanchez, 24. An investigation found that, after Sanchez ended their nine-year relationship in September of that year, Rivera repeatedly attempted to contact her and stalked her Bushwick home; on Oct. 6, Rivera assaulted a male friend of the victim in front of her house, saying that “no one could be with his woman;” and finally, on Oct. 7, as Ms. Sanchez was walking on Menahan Street with her mother and the male friend, Rivera approached, pulled out a firearm and shot her five times; he then pointed it in her mother’s face and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire.

Rivera fled and was arrested the following day; he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree attempted assault and first-degree stalking in March.

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HOCHUL ANNOUNCES HURRICANE STUDY FOR NYC AREA

CITYWIDE – Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a new Hurricane Evacuation Study, the first to be conducted since 2009, that will be used to improve catastrophic tropical storm planning and response efforts for the NYC area, including for potential hazards such as flooding and tornadoes, sheltering and transportation issues and other demographic and socioeconomic factors. Led by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services in partnership with FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Hurricane Center, and local emergency management agencies, the first two phases of the study, hazard and vulnerability analyses, have already begun, and are expected to be completed next fall.

NYC’s Emergency Management last week urged New Yorkers to use the resources on the city’s Emergency Preparedness webpage to learn about hurricane preparedness ahead of the Atlantic hurricane season; NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol wrote in a press statement, “In the event of a significant coastal storm, City officials may issue evacuation orders based on what zone you reside in. New Yorkers can find out what zone they live in by visiting NYC.gov/knowyourzone or calling 3-1-1.”

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TIKTOK TREND SPIKES DEMAND FOR FRUIT ROLL-UPS

NATIONWIDE – A trendy food hack that has gone viral on the popular video-sharing app TikTok, involving using frozen Fruit Roll-Up candies to make ice cream cones, has caused a nationwide shortage of the snack and even spawned an international black market, according to the New York Post, which reports that an American couple was arrested last week at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport for attempting to smuggle 375 pounds of Fruit Roll-Ups into the country. Stores across the country report difficulties in keeping them in stock – one East Village candy store owner reports that a customer attempted to buy 10,000 boxes of the candy, but was unable to locate even one.

The trend has been profitable for the Windsor Terrace-based Joray Fruit Rolls company, who since the 1950s have manufactured a similar product made with real fruit: owner Ray Shalhoub told the Post that their sales have gone up 50 percent in the last two months. 

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NAVY COMMISSIONS USS COOPERSTOWN: ‘AMERICA’S AWAY TEAM’

MANHATTAN – The Navy formally commissioned the new littoral combat ship the U.S.S. Cooperstown on Saturday, named after the upstate town that houses the Baseball Hall of Fame in honor of the more than 70 Hall-of-Famers who served in conflicts ranging from the Civil War to the Korean War, reports the Associated Press, including New York players Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio. The ceremony was attended by Johnny Bench and Joe Torre, who said in a speech, ““It is critical that we honor the legacy of these Hall of Famers, not just for what they did on the field, but for what they sacrificed and what they accomplished off the field. Their legacy lives on with the USS Cooperstown and with the sailors here today and in the years to come;” following the ceremony, the Cooperstown departed for its base in Florida.

Gov. Hochul also spoke at the event, saying “Today is a celebration. Today is also a day we think about those going forth, willing to go into harm’s way around the world… I know that truly this country will endure when we have patriots like those who are going to be boarding this ship, heading to Norfolk, heading to Florida, and someday perhaps heading into harm’s way. So, our love goes with them. You may call yourself America’s Away Team – but to all of you, you’ll always be in our hearts, America’s hometown team, starting right here in the great State of New York.” Read more on page 12 and online at www.brooklyneagle.com 

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NEW BILLS WILL REGULATE CRYPTO INDUSTRY; MAKING IT MORE ACCOUNTABLE TO CUSTOMERS

STATEWIDE — Landmark legislation that New York Attorney General Letitia James introduced on Friday aims to tighten regulations on the cryptocurrency industry to protect investors, consumers, and the broader economy. The Crypto Regulation, Protection, Transparency, and Oversight (CRPTO) Act, which proposes the strongest and most comprehensive set of regulations on cryptocurrency in the nation, would require independent public audits of cryptocurrency exchanges and prevent individuals from owning the same companies, such as brokerages and tokens, to stop conflicts of interest.

Moreover, the Federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act would require platforms to have responsibilities similar to those of banks, and to reimburse customers who are the victims of fraud; it would strengthen the New York State Department of Financial Services’ regulatory authority of digital assets.


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