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What’s News, Breaking: Friday, May 19, 2023

May 19, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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REP. YVETTE CLARKE AWARDS FUNDS TO BROOKLYN ORGANIZATIONS FOR IMPROVED HQ, SERVICE CENTERS

FLATBUSH — Two social service organizations in Brooklyn have received specialized grant funding from Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-9), which she presented during press conferences on Friday, May 19. CAMBA, Inc., which stands for Church Avenue Merchant Block Association, based in Flatbush, was awarded a total of $3 million dollars in Community Project Funding for capital improvements to the organization’s headquarters building, which is home to 103 employees across human resources, strategic partnerships, fiscal, budget, payroll, purchasing, COVID Response, and IT teams. The Council of Peoples Organization, further south in Flatbush/West Midwood, was awarded $750,000 in Community Project Funding was awarded to support the procurement of a permanent community service center.

Founded in 1977 to reduce crime, beautify their neighborhood and fight for city service improvements, CAMBA expanded into a social services organization to help immigrants acclimate to U.S. crime reduction, neighborhood beautification, and city service improvements, with its founders developing target areas. COPO also assists low-income immigrants, particularly from South Asia, empowering marginalized communities to secure their rights and understand their responsibilities as Americans. COPO also builds bridges between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

COPO was instrumental in helping families whose loved ones were detained by law enforcement in the aftermath of 9/11, during heightened tensions between the  U.S. government and Muslims.

Photo: CAMBA.

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POWERHOUSE ARTS TO HOLD GRAND OPENING

GOWANUS — Powerhouse Arts, a long-abandoned power plant on the Gowanus Canal built in 1903, is reopening its doors this Sunday, May 21, as a brand-new artistic resource center, with free tours showing off its facilities, which include a metal fabrication shop, ceramics studio and print shop. Its centerpiece: a 13,000-square-foot Great Hall in the power plant’s turbine room where many of the original fixtures have been preserved, along with graffiti left by local artists, who after the plant’s closure in the 1970s turned the cavernous and decaying “Batcave” into a hive of artistic activity and expression. 

The tour is free and self-guided — guests will be able to take sneak peeks at artists at work; tickets must be reserved in advance on EventBrite.

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INDUSTRY CITY OPENS DOORS FOR DESIGN FAIR

SUNSET PARK — The Industry City Design Festival and Open Studios event is taking place this weekend, May 20 and 21, a celebration of the hundreds of artists, makers and artisans on the upper floors of Industry City in Sunset Park that offers a rare peek inside the studios that are usually closed to the public. Highlights include rug-making demonstrations, live painting exhibitions, a Maker’s Guild fair and the Asian Creative Festival, a celebration of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities’ contributions to Brooklyn’s cultural heritage; along with innumerable public art displays, gallery displays and performances.

More information and scheduling can be found on Industry City’s website, as well as lists of participating vendors, concessionaires and businesses offering discounts.

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CARUSO’S ON SMITH ST. BECOMES
LATEST PIZZERIA TO CLOSE UP SHOP

BOERUM HILL — Yet another Brooklyn pizzeria has closed its doors this year. EATER NY reports that Caruso Pizzeria and Restaurant, at 150 Smith St. near Bergen in Boerum Hill, closed earlier in May, posting a notice on the door thanking customers for 30 years. The EATER NY story located Caruso’s in Cobble Hill; however, some locals say the neighborhood east of Court St. is actually Boerum Hill. Fascati in Brooklyn Heights, which opened in the early 1970s, is still getting raves for its pizza.

Two other pizzeria icons in Brooklyn also closed earlier this year: Lenny’s in Bensonhurst and Sal’s on Court St. near DeGraw.

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ELECTED OFFICIALS FROM BROOKLYN RALLY FOR BILL PROTECTING IMMIGRANT FAMILIES

MANHATTAN — State Senator Andrew Gounardes and several fellow Brooklyn elected officials at the city and state levels rallied on Friday in support of New York For All (S987/A5686), a bill he introduced in January to protect immigrant families and limit the degree to which local law enforcement can comply with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies. Senator Gounardes, standing with Councilmembers Shahana Hanif (D-39) and Alexa Avilés, and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, declared that New York can stand in contrast [with Florida] as a state where residents of all backgrounds can live, work, and contribute to their communities. New York For All would allow the entire state to follow the precedent of several other jurisdictions, including New York City’s boroughs, New Jersey, Washington and California, and would bar local government employees from inquiring about and reporting immigration statuses, notifying ICE of release or court dates, transferring individuals into ICE custody, or using ICE agents as interpreters except where necessary or required to comply with a valid court order or federal judicial warrant.

“All New Yorkers deserve the right to move through their daily lives in peace, whether it’s commuting to work or picking their children up from school,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “The New York For All Act would give immigrant New Yorkers this peace – and passing it into law has never been more crucial than it is now, with strident anti-immigrant legislation being passed in Florida just this past week,” said Sen. Gounardes.

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EX-ADA GETS 5 YEARS PROBATION FOR POT TRAFFICKING RING

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Former Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Ramy Joudeh on Thursday was sentenced to five years’ probation, retaining his law license, after pleading guilty in December to what his lawyer called a “minimal role” in an interstate marijuana smuggling operation, reports the Daily News, before and during his stint with the DA’s office in 2015 and 2016. While Joudeh cited feelings of deep remorse, prosecutors expressed concern over his actions — investigators had wiretapped him admitting to using his position in the DA’s office to leave a police stop for marijuana possession, as well as discussing collecting cash on behalf of the smuggling ring’s head Richard Gambale while Gambale was on trial for fatally stabbing a rival 22 times.

Gambale, who is alleged to have ties to organized crime, was eventually found to have acted in self-defense, after witnesses testified that the rival, a convicted killer named Anthony Peretti, had initiated the conflict by chasing and beating Gambale with a pipe in a Staten Island industrial park.

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MIGRANTS MOVED FROM SCHOOL AFTER PARENT PROTEST

CONEY ISLAND — A group of asylum seekers who the city controversially decided to house in Coney Island’s P.S. 188’s gym building last week were abruptly transferred elsewhere by the city on Wednesday, following a day of incensed parent protests outside the school, P.S. 188, and others in Brooklyn selected by the city to house migrants in their gyms, reports Patch; while the chosen schools all have separate gym buildings, this did not mollify critics’ concerns, over vetting, health risks and social impacts for their children — some parents were told that outdoor recess and physical education sessions would be suspended while the gyms were in use. Plans to set up a similar shelter in P.S. 189 in Crown Heights also appeared to be shelved, although a city spokesperson said that the school gyms would remain an option for backup housing in the event of further shortages.

One Venezuelan woman who had been housed in the P.S. 188 gym, Albeldys Almera, 21, told The City in a translated interview on Wednesday that she agreed with the parents protesting outside: “They’re right. It’s their property for their children. But I don’t know what to say. They’re supporting us so we don’t sleep in the street. They told us we won’t be here for much time,” and that she hadn’t been able to shower in five days, as promised facilities had never been installed; Almera also said she and her partner wanted to begin working as soon as possible.

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BROOKLYN’S CONGRESSMAN GOLDMAN INTRODUCES BILL
TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM LABOR EXPLOITATION

NATIONWIDE — Responding to an influx of migrant children who have entered the U.S. alone and wound up in dangerous jobs, Rep. Dan Goldman (D-10/western Brooklyn) and two of his Congressional colleagues have introduced the bipartisan Justice for Exploited Children Act (H.R. 2388) to protect these youths from illegal child labor exploitation. The Department of Labor found that last year alone, nearly 4,000 children were employed in violation of child labor laws. Moreover, of the 250,000 migrant children entering the U.S. over the past two years, thousands have ended up working overnight in construction zones and slaughterhouses, replacing roofs, or operating machinery in factories that violate child labor laws. The Justice for Exploited Children Act will raise the civil monetary penalties by establishing: a $5,000 minimum and $132,270 maximum for violations of child labor standards, as well as a $25,000 minimum and $601,150 maximum for each violation that causes the death or severe injury of a minor.

Goldman, with Reps. Hillary Scholten (D-Michigan) and Nancy Mace (R-South Carolina), who identifies as the father of five, called the Justice for Exploited Children Act a “moral necessity,” pointing out, “Children who should be in school have been left in the shadows of our supply chains, violating our nation’s fair labor laws. Child labor violations continue to rise throughout the country, and we must ensure that the companies engaged in child exploitation are duly penalized.”

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JUDGE ZAYAS APPOINTS HON. NORMAN ST. GEORGE
AS NYS FIRST DEPUTY CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE

BROOKLYN AND ALBANY — One day after being appointed as New York State Chief Administrative Judge, the Hon. Joseph A. Zayas on Friday, May 19, appointed Hon. Norman St. George as First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, the second-highest ranking administration position within the New York State Judiciary. The appointment was made with the approval of Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson and in consultation with the Presiding Justices of each of the four Judicial Departments of New York State’s Appellate Division, on which Zayas served before his promotion on Thursday. St. George, in his new capacity and on behalf of the Chief Administrative Judge, will oversee all trial-level courts throughout the State, as well as all departments and operations within the Office of Court Administration. Prior to his new position, Judge St. George served as the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Courts Outside New York City, managing the day-to-day operations of the trial-level courts in 57 counties, which comprise over 640 State-paid judges and 6,000-plus non-judicial employees.

Judge Zayas said of the Hon. St. George, “His legal acumen, combined with his superb managerial skills, intimate knowledge of the workings of the courts and exemplary character, make him ideally suited to take on the multiple demands of this vital administrative post.”

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NURSES AT NYP-BROOKLYN METHODIST VOTE
OVERWHELMINGLY TO STRIKE

PARK SLOPE — Nurses working at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital on Thursday night voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, with 99.6% of nurses voting yes after months of arduous negotiation and a contract that expired on April 30. The approximately 1,250 nurses at NYP-Brooklyn Methodist have been in negotiations for months with the hospital, and have spoken out about current conditions and the hospital’s proposed cuts to patient care. Hundreds of nurses picketed outside the hospital in Park Slope on May 4 to protest management’s proposals to strip patient care protections from the nurses’ union contract and to reduce staffing levels in Labor and Delivery, Mother-Baby, Chemotherapy Infusion, and other units. Joining the nurses at the May 4 protest were fellow healthcare workers, union members, and community and several elected leaders — City Comptroller Brad Lander, Assemblymembers Robert Carroll and JoAnne Simon, and City Councilmembers Mercedes Narcisse, Sandy Nurse and Lincoln Restler — who demanded the hospital settle a fair contract that protects safe staffing levels (ratio of nurses to patients) and improves patient care.

Moreover, many small businesses across Park Slope also showed solidarity with NYSNA nurses fighting for a fair contract by putting up “Listen to the Nurses” posters in their storefronts.

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STATE TO COLLECT OLD FLAGS FOR ‘MEMORIAL WATCHFIRE’ CEREMONY

STATEWIDE — State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy on Tuesday announced that her office has begun collecting worn and tattered flags at locations statewide so that they can be properly retired as part of the Memorial Watchfire at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse – a pyre raised in honor of service members that will be lit at dusk, rain or shine. The Watchfire was hosted by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103, for 33 years until 2019, after which the event was canceled until now owing to pandemic concerns; the CNY Veterans Recognition Foundation will take over as successors and host this year, with the VVA’s continued support.

Brooklyn’s drop-off location, at the Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building, will be collecting donations through Friday, May 26.

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TEENAGER CAUGHT AFTER STABBING OTHER TEEN IN PARK

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Police on Tuesday announced that a 15-year-old boy has been arrested and charged for the stabbing of an 18-year-old male victim earlier this month. The 15-year-old allegedly stabbed the 18-year-old multiple times in the torso on May 3 before fleeing after the two became involved in a dispute at McLaughlin Park in Downtown Brooklyn, a location with a reputation for violent crime: 15-year-old student Unique Smith was killed there last September by a 16-year-old shooter after being mistaken for a gang member. 

The 15-year-old has now been charged with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. 

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SANTOS DODGES EXPULSION AS HOUSE GOP LOBS VOTE TO ETHICS COMM.

WASHINGTON — Disgraced U.S. Rep. George Santos on Thursday narrowly avoided being kicked from Congress on Thursday, after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy led the GOP in sending a resolution to expel Santos to the House Ethics Committee for review, instead of voting on it immediately, reports NY1.  Democrats had introduced the measure on Tuesday in response to Santos’ arrest in New York last week on federal fraud charges, as well as a confession to check fraud in Brazil several years ago; while Congressional Republicans say that the Ethics Committee’s input is important to the process of Santos’ removal, Democrats have sharply condemned the GOP for not acting with speed, and say that Santos’ presence damages the integrity of the legislative body.

Santos, exposed for lying extensively about most aspects of his background earlier this year by the New York Times, has made few friends in New York on either side of the aisle:“When push came to shove, these MAGA extremists fell in line with GOP party leadership, sided with an indicted criminal, and broke their promises to the Long Islanders who deserve representation. Shame on them. They are simply a collection of frauds,” wrote NY State Democratic Party Chair Jay S. Jacobs in a press statement; while fellow Long Island Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito said on the House floor, “I believe that this individual is a stain on this institution, a stain on the state of New York, a stain on [Long Island] and a stain on the beloved Nassau County,” before voting in favor of the referral.

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POLICE SEEK UNKNOWN MAN WHO PUNCHED VICTIM ON 4 TRAIN

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Police are warning the public to be on the lookout for an unknown male suspect who on the afternoon of Monday, May 1 approached a 24-year-old man, on the 4 train near Nevins Street station and punched him multiple times in the face, causing the victim’s eyeglasses to break. The suspect then exited the train and fled on foot, heading to parts unknown; while the victim was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated for a fractured nose and cracked sinus bone.

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.

Does this suspect look familiar? All tips are strictly confidential.

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COUNCIL MOVES TO MAKE RESTAURANT ‘CURB BUNKERS’ PERMANENT

CITYWIDE — The City Council this week moved forward with a plan to allow restaurants to keep the outdoor dining structures made popular by pandemic restrictions on a more permanent basis, with a new Open Restaurants bill proposal being advanced that would allow the sheds to go up in curbside spaces from April through November before being disassembled in the off-season, reports CBS News; restaurants would also have to pay a fee for the usage of the space, determined by the rent and location of the main storefront. While some greeted the news with gratitude, others argued that while the new rules were a good start, the success of the Open Restaurants program during the pandemic proved that the sidewalk and curb sheds were an asset to the city’s economy: “Warming winter temperatures will continue to make outdoor dining feasible for most of the year and we believe giving the option for restaurants to participate year-round would offer the most value to businesses, diners, and City coffers. But with the clock ticking on the need for a permanent bill, City Council’s action is welcome news,” wrote Sara Lind of the Open Plans advocacy group in a press statement.

CBS reports that the program saved 100,000 jobs during the pandemic that would have otherwise been lost by allowing restaurants to comply with space restrictions during lockdown and social distancing.

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NATIONAL GRID CONDUCTING GAS INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES

BATH BEACH AND BENSONHURST — National Grid wants customers in the Bensonhurst and Bath Beach neighbors to be aware of upgrades beginning soon to the natural gas infrastructure along 8th Avenue between Shore Parkway and Cropsey Ave., and 74th Street between 15th and 16th Avenues, Community Board 11 has announced.  Residents and businesses in the area should expect, as the first stage, installation of new gas pipes either in the street or sidewalk, with a typical trench width is 3 feet. The excavation required will be backfilled at the end of each day, and steel plates will be used to cover any excavations left open to allow vehicular traffic and provide access to driveways, steps, and walkways.

Some buildings may need all or part of their gas service replaced. In such cases, a National Grid representative will contact the resident or business to make an appointment to gain access to the property.

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WILLOWTOWN ASSN. SPRING FAIR THIS SATURDAY IN BK HEIGHTS

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The annual Willowtown Spring Fair will take place on Saturday, May 20, from noon until 5 p.m. This family favorite, which benefits the Willowtown Association, features food and baked goods, music by Papa Vega’s Orchestra, merch from locals and a raffle, along with face painters, a bouncy house, magic show, games and more. One highlight will be a visit from Heather Wolf, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s doyen of all things avian and author of Birding at the Bridge. Wolf — who knows how to identify birds by their silhouettes, the shape of their tails, and their distinctive chirps, songs, or sounds — will be selling her bird prints and answering your bird questions. Another highlight will be a tug-of-war between residents and elected officials, including (potentially) invitees Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, and Councilmember Lincoln Restler. 

The fair takes place on Willow Place between Joralemon and State Streets. The volunteer Willowtown Association advocates for residents of the shady enclave of Willowtown, in the southwest corner of Brooklyn Heights. 

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GRAND OPENING CELEBRATED FOR NEWLY-EXPANDED INFUSION CENTER WITH HIGH-TECH MRI EQUIPMENT

KINGS HIGHWAY — The Mount Sinai Health System on Thursday, May 18, held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting for the expansion of its Brooklyn Ambulatory Infusion Center, a cancer treatment center that brings innovative cancer therapy and clinical trials to residents of southern Brooklyn. The $4.1 million expansion doubles the center’s capacity to 15 infusion chairs, seven exam rooms, and a mammography suite, offering medical oncology, chemotherapy, therapeutic infusion treatments, consultations, and blood transfusions.

Mount Sinai Brooklyn also announced the addition of a high-tech magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner at the hospital, at a total cost of $2.8 million including installation, and with a grant from the New York City Council covered the cost of the scanner, $988,000.

Left to right: Dr. Scott Lorin, President, Mount Sinai Brooklyn, Council member Mercedes Narcisse, Alicia Gresham, COO, Network Practices, Mount Sinai Health System, Dr. Arvind Kamthan, Chief of Hematology and Oncology, Mount Sinai Brooklyn, and Dr. Peter Shearer, Chief Medical Officer, Mount Sinai Brooklyn, front row, left to right, join other staff and community members at a ribbon cutting for the newly expanded Mount Sinai Brooklyn Infusion Center, Thursday, May 18, 2023, on Kings Highway. Photo: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Mount Sinai Brooklyn.

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BROOKLYN APPELLATE COURT JUSTICE ZAYAS NAMED AS NY STATE’S CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — State Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. Zayas, who for the past two years has served as an associate justice of the Appellate Division-Second Department in Brooklyn, was officially named as Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State Unified Court System, which is the state judiciary’s highest-ranking administrative position, reported the New York Law Journal on Thursday, May 18. Justice Zayas’ naming is a landmark appointment as he becomes the first Latino in this role.

According to his judicial profile on the Appellate Court’s website, Justice Zayas was appointed to his current role by former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in May 2021.

Judge Joseph Zayas, breaking barriers as the first Latino Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State Unified Court System. Photo courtesy of the Office of Court Administration.

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BROOKDALE HOSPITAL REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH US GOVERNMENT OVER FRAUDULENT WIC CLAIMS

BROWNSVILLE AND DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital in Brownsville (eastern Brooklyn) has agreed to pay $300,000 to the U.S. government to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act based on the conduct of former employees who engaged in a scheme to defraud the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Former Brookdale employees, including the former director of Brookdale’s WIC program, engaged in a scheme to defraud the WIC program by qualifying ineligible patients for benefits and misappropriating program funds. The United States further alleges that these former employees falsified time sheets and budget records to inflate Brookdale’s purported requirements for WIC funds.

Brookdale cooperated fully throughout the investigation. The settlement agreement, which United States District Judge I. Leo Glasser approved on Wednesday, May 17, resolved claims under the Federal False Claims Act’s whistleblower provisions wherein a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the settlement if the government takes over the case and reaches a monetary agreement with the defendant.

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FARE-BEATING DRIVES MTA ‘CRISIS’ — PANEL REC’S NEW GATES, FAIR FARES & CRACK DOWN

NEW YORK METRO AREA — According to a report released Wednesday by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Blue Ribbon Panel, fare-beating in NYC has reached crisis levels, with the MTA losing an estimated $690 million in unpaid fares and tolls in 2022. The report recommends a “multi-layered plan” to combat the losses, including redesigned subway fare gates, more aid for low-income riders, “precision policing” and more prosecution. The majority of the losses (roughly 86%) are caused by bus and subway scofflaws, with an additional 14% from cheating train passengers and bridge and tunnel drivers, MTA says. Roughly 400,000 subway riders a day (10-15% of riders) evade fares, along with 700,000 bus riders (more than a third). “New Yorkers are sick of feeling like suckers seeing their neighbors beat the fare or cheat the toll while they pony up their fair share,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in a release.

Modernized subway turnstiles demonstrated on Wednesday at Grand Central Terminal (pictured below) would allow the removal of emergency gates, where more than half of subway fare-beating takes place, the panel said. To prevent bus cheating, MTA recommends hiring more enforcement agents and increasing eligibility for Fair Fares. Fixing train, bridge, and tunnel evasion requires a more complex mix of remedies. 

Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA.

 

Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA.

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BROOKLYN CRYPTOCURRENCY FIRM PAYS NY STATE $4.3M IN FRAUD CASE

WILLIAMSBURG AND ALBANY —  New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday, May 18, secured $4.3 million from Brooklyn-based cryptocurrency company Coin Cafe for defrauding investors. Coin Cafe is a cryptocurrency trading platform that allowed investors to store their Bitcoin in a Coin Cafe account known as wallet storage. But an Office of the Attorney General investigation found that Coin Café was charging investors exorbitant and undisclosed fees to use its wallet storage, despite marketing its wallet storage as “free” on its website. Coin Café, which according to a Google Search operates from Williamsburg, and whose website’s customer service page indicates accessibility by text or email only, also failed to register with OAG as a commodity broker-dealer as required by the Martin Act, a law that protects investors.

New York Law requires broker-dealers with a valid BitLicense or a pending BitLicense application to register with OAG.

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FORMER NYPD OFFICER SENTENCED FOR BRIBERY IN VEHICLE-TOWING BUSINESS

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — United States District Judge Rachel P. Kovner in Brooklyn federal court has sentenced former New York City Police Department officer Michael Perri to 33 months of imprisonment and a $25,000 fine for conspiring to use interstate facilities to commit bribery. According to court filings, the 34-year-old Perri orchestrated a scheme to pay thousands of dollars in bribes to two fellow NYPD officers, now also co-defendants, for their corrupt agreement to assist an automobile repair and tow trucking business that Perri had begun operating upon his retirement, in violation of a requirement to use the NYPD’s Directed Accident Response Program, a computer system that randomly selects a licensed tow trucking business to ensure that no particular business receives favored treatment.

Perri pleaded guilty last November and has already paid the government over $158,000 in forfeiture.

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DINAPOLI: NYS SPENDING UP, REVENUES DOWN, ‘RAINY DAY’ FUND SHORTFALL

An analysis by New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has some worrisome news: state spending for fiscal year 2023-2024, which began April 1, will grow more than 4% year-over-year, while revenues are projected to drop by roughly 3.9% and temporary federal aid is spent down. The $9 billion enacted budget includes new recurring spending for schools, mental health services, health care, MTA funds and emergency rental assistance. Most of the drop in revenue is concentrated in personal income taxes, reflecting a roughly 26% decline in Wall Street bonuses, volatility in financial markets impacting estimated payments and other tax issues, DiNapoli said. He cautions that the state is using loopholes to skirt laws requiring competitive bidding and Comptroller oversight of contracts before they become effective — a tactic DiNapoli calls “ill-advised.”

DiNapoli also warns of a shortfall in the state’s “rainy day fund.” Looking ahead, he urges legislators to boost these funds “and work to put the State on a sustainable fiscal course.”

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NY ATTORNEY GENERAL LEADS COALITION TO FIGHT HARMFUL HUMAN USE OF VETERINARY DRUG

NATIONWIDE — State Attorney General Letitia James and a bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general are urging Congressional leadership to pass the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act, which would provide critical measures to combat human consumption of this potent veterinary drug. Attorney James and her counterparts sent Congress the letter following a surge in overdose deaths nationwide related to xylazine, which is easily obtainable online. Xylazine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only as a veterinary medicine used to sedate and relieve pain in large animals; but in humans, xylazine is known to depress breathing and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and cause unconsciousness, necrosis, and even death.

“When used correctly, xylazine is an important veterinary medication, but it was never meant to be used by humans, especially as an additive to fentanyl,” wrote Attorney General James.


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