Brooklyn Boro

What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, May 23, 2023

May 23, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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NEW RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX WILL HAVE CITY’S
LARGEST EVER ACTIVE GEOTHERMAL SYSTEM

CONEY ISLAND — The newest residential property on Surf Avenue, slated for completion early next year, will feature the largest active geothermal system in New York City’s history. The development, at 1515 Surf Avenue, effectively uses the Earth to heat and cool the building and to power its domestic hot water systems — thus eliminating the need for traditional equipment that runs on fossil fuels.

LCOR, a real estate investment, development, and management firm, on Tuesday, May 23, topped out the development, a 463-unit residential property, with 139 units designated affordable, when leasing begins, probably in the first quarter of 2024. LRC Construction is in charge of the building, and LCOR has partnered with Ecosave USA on the geothermal system’s design and installation, estimating that the building’s carbon emissions can be reduced by more than 60% over the norm.

The development named 1515 Surf Avenue sits between Surf and Mermaid Avenues and between 15th and 16th Streets, just steps away from the Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk. STUDIO V Architecture is the designer, with the project amenities including a pool, flexible co-working space and on-site parking.

The new 1515 Surf Avenue will be just steps from the Coney Island amusement parks and mass transit. Photo: LCOR.

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NY ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES TELECOM COMPANY
FOR FAKE ROBOCALLS, VIOLATION OF LAWS

NATIONWIDE — A VOIP service provider that ignored warnings to stop robocalls and disrespected the National Do Not Call Registry is facing a lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James. The state’s top law enforcement official on Tuesday, May 23, sued Avid Telecom’s owner, Michael Lansky, and its vice president Stacey S. Reeves for illegally initiating and facilitating billions of robocalls to millions of Americans. Avid sells data, phone numbers, dialing software, and expertise enabling its customers to make mass robocalls and provide its customers with Direct Inward Dialing (DID), which appears as a “Caller ID” number to an individual receiving a call. Avid sold these DIDs in bulk, providing them with telephone numbers from every U.S. area code in the United States. Avid’s customers were then able to use caller ID numbers with the same area code as the call recipient to increase the odds of the recipient answering the phone, a practice known as “spoofing.”

Attorney General James’ lawsuit accuses Avid of ignoring repeated notifications that it was conducting illegal robocalls and that the company made more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. The lawsuit furthermore alleges that Avid violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other federal and state telemarketing and consumer laws.

This legal action arises from the nationwide, bipartisan Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 attorneys general, with the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General providing investigative assistance in this matter.

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FLORIDA’S DESANTIS ANNOUNCES THAT HE’LL OPEN
HIS PRESIDENTIAL BID VIA TWITTER

NATIONWIDE — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is changing the way in which Presidential candidacies are announced — via Twitter. DeSantis, who is viewed as former President Donald Trump’s main and fiercest rival on the Republican ticket, has announced that he will make the anticipated announcement on his candidacy on Wednesday, May 24 — during an interview with Twitter CEO Elon Musk. Several news agencies — starting with NBC, which broke the story — reported on Tuesday that DeSantis threw in the surprise element with the controversial owner of the social media platform to give him a broader audience. The interview has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 24.

DeSantis’ surprise move comes within a week after Musk announced that he is stepping down as CEO to take a more technological role. How many readers know that Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal, in 2016 started an indoor urban farm, named Square Root, here in Brooklyn?

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RETURNING TO ALMA MATER, BISHOP BRENNAN
DELIVERS INVOCATION AT ST. JOHN’S COMMENCEMENT

DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN — Bishop Robert Brennan, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, returned to his college alma mater almost 39 years to the day of his own graduation, to deliver the invocation. Currents, a program on the Catholic NET-TV, covered the St. John’s University Commencement on Sunday, May 21, where Bishop Brennan gave the opening prayer — his first invocation there since becoming Brooklyn’s prelate — and offered reflections on his own experience, graduating summa cum laude from St. John’s, on May 20, 1984.

Bishop Brennan told the graduates and families that he was “excited and grateful” and that participating at this year’s commencement made him recall the hard work it takes to graduate. His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Ph.D. ’10HON, Archbishop of New York, served as Commencement speaker. Though not a St. John’s alumnus, Cardinal Dolan also received his education from the Vincentians, and was presented with the Gold Medal at Sunday’s commencement.

Founded in 1870, St. John’s University is run by the Vincentian Society of Priests (Congregation of the Mission) that St. Vincent de Paul established in the early 18th century. For many years before its move to its sprawling campus in Queens, St. John’s University was in Downtown Brooklyn.

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ANGRY OVER FORCED MEDICARE SWITCH,
MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES ORGANIZE RALLY AND MARCH

CITYWIDE — Municipal retirees, continuing their fight over what they are calling a sellout from the mayor regarding their medical health coverage, will hold a People’s Hearing and Rally outside City Hall on Wednesday morning, May 24. The Cross-union Retirees Organizing Committee (CROC), defining itself as “rank-and-file NYC municipal retirees who say NO to the City’s attempts to force municipal retirees into a privatized Medicare Advantage plan,” is organizing the protest of Mayor Adams’ refusal in March to authorize an implementation plan that they favor. Called Option C, the plan would allow retirees to keep on the federal government’s traditional Medicare coverage, and their doctors, instead of being moved involuntarily to the mayor’s controversial private Advantage plan.

The retirees’ group has also expressed anger with the Municipal Labor Committee’s March 9 vote to approve a new Aetna-run Medicare Advantage plan —  reportedly forcing more than 250,000 former city workers off their existing health coverage. They are also demanding that the City Council act now to protect retirees’ Medicare health benefits by passing the current legislation (which had not yet moved) to include retiree healthcare costs in the city budget.

CROC will hand out screws at the protest to underscore their slogan, “Stop Screwing Retirees!” Later on Wednesday, at 5 p.m., CROC will join the People’s Plan Rally and March.

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NEW FILM STUDIO UNVEILED AT FORMER WATCHTOWER COMPLEX

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – Developer CIM Group on Monday unveiled a new film production studio, Panorama Brooklyn, located in the former Watchtower headquarters at the foot of Columbia Heights. A press release from CIM says that the new studio offers 90,000 square feet of studio and production space, as well as a wide array of natural backdrops, such as buildings from the ‘30s and ‘40s, rooftop gardens and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. The brand-new building is also offering movie-makers the option of renting out additional floors – at least, until other tenants occupy the space.

The five-building complex was purchased from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2016 by CIM, LIVWRK and Kushner Companies, although Kushner sold its stake in the venture shortly after former head Jared Kushner stepped down to join former President Trump, his father-in-law, in the White House. Renovations on the buildings, originally owned by pharmaceutical company Squibb, converted them from largely closed-off warehouse and work spaces into bright, open floors with large windows; and were nearly complete in 2019 before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic made filling retail and office space a challenge for landlords. The studio is positioned to be an anchor of CIM’s plans to turn the currently vacant development into “a hub of creativity and collaboration utilizing its complex of five interconnected buildings to become an engaging vertical-village.”

The buildings are best known for their iconic red-lettered sign and clock-slash-thermometer, visible for decades from north Brooklyn, lower Manhattan and the two bridges; CIM in 2018 had to face off against the city Buildings Department to be able to erect a new message of “WELCOME” (replacing the “WATCHTOWER” sign, which replaced the even earlier “SQUIBB”), after the Buildings Department claimed that the original installation of the sign’s framework by Squibb in 1961 had been done illegally. Lawyers for the developers declared victory after discovering old documents that proved otherwise, according to 6sqft.

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MTA PROPOSES FARE HIKE TO $2.90;
PUBLIC WILL HAVE ITS SAY NEXT MONTH

CITYWIDE — A ride on the MTA subways and buses could cost $2.90 before Labor Day, transit officials have announced, according to New York Public Radio’s Gothamist. MTA officials on Monday, May 22, proposed a series of fare hikes that would increase the current $2.75 fare, for the first time since 2019. (Fare hikes were suspended during the pandemic.)  The cost of refilling those weekly MetroCards would increase by $1 to $34; while a monthly MetroCard would rise to $132, an increase of $5.

However, straphangers will first get their say during a series of public hearings scheduled for June, although no press release or notice has yet been published on the dates, or whether the meetings would be in-person or hybrid. The MTA board will then vote on the fare increases at its July meeting. The increases, if approved, would take effect before Labor Day, which this year falls on Sept. 4; they are projected to bring in another four percent in fare revenue.

Does the Pizza Principle —  the almost synchronized price increase for a slice of Brooklyn pie — still stand, post-pandemic? Some experts say no, but there is at least one pizzeria on Livingston St. in Downtown Brooklyn where one can get a slice of cheese pizza for $2.75 — the same amount as the current regular, one-way subway fare. What makes a Brooklyn pizza? It’s hand-tossed, with lots of hot-dripping cheese and generous seasoning. Just don’t eat it on the bus.

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GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY BREAKS GROUND ON NEW $34M EDUCATION & WELCOME CENTER

GREEN-WOOD — Richard J. Moylan, President of The Green-Wood Cemetery was joined by elected officials and community members to break ground Tuesday, May 23, on a stunning new $34 million, 22,000 square-foot Education and Welcome Center. Located across from Green-Wood’s main entrance, the two-story new construction will wrap around Green-Wood’s beautifully restored 19th-century Weir Greenhouse, a New York City Landmark.

When completed in June 2025, The Education and Welcome Center will offer Green-Wood’s 450,000 annual visitors an introduction to the historic cemetery before they explore the grounds. The space will also house exhibition galleries for Green-Wood’s extensive art and archival collections; classroom and programming space; Green-Wood’s new Center for Research; staff offices; and meeting and event space for local community organizations.

Among the notable Brooklynites in attendance were Green-Wood President Richard J. Moylan; Chair of Green-Wood’s Board of Trustees Peter Davidson; Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso; Council Member Alexa Avilés; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo; Executive Director of the New York State Council on the Arts Mara Manus; and others.

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AG RELEASES REPORT ON DEATH OF RONALD SMITH, STRUCK BY NYPD VAN

CROWN HEIGHTS — AG Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation on Monday released its report on the death of Ronald Anthony Smith, struck and killed at Eastern Parkway and Schenectady Ave. on the night of April 7, 2022 by an NYPD van transporting detainees, which concludes that criminally negligent homicide could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, as it could not conclude that the officer acted with reckless disregard or conscious indifference to risk, something the OSI says has been demanded by judges in previous cases involving officer negligence.

The OSI’s analysis, including an accident reconstruction, camera footage and witness interviews, found that immediately prior to the collision, the driver was forced to maneuver into the left-turn lane to avoid a swerving SUV. The driver then drove straight ahead — striking Smith, who was standing on a painted median across the intersection. Although the officer and their partner immediately exited the vehicle to perform chest compressions and render aid, they were unable to save Mr. Smith. The OSI noted that while the van was speeding, the law allows this, as prisoner transports are considered emergencies. Additional mitigating factors cited in the report were that Smith had been obscured due to rain, low lighting and his dark clothing; as well as distraction due to yelling and harassment by the detainees. The officer passed sobriety testing given an hour and a half after the crash by the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad.

The OSI criticized this delay in its report, recommending that it “hold officers to the same standards as civilians and breath-test them as quickly as practicable” after crashes; other recommendations it made were to require authorization for officers to treat prisoner transports as emergencies, which would disallow speeding; and to implement higher safety standards for all such transports.

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DOT LAUNCHES SELF-GUIDED BIKE TOUR SERIES

CHELSEA — Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez on Monday revealed a new self-guided bike tour designed to highlight safe streets infrastructure recently implemented by the DOT, including sturdier barriers, expanded sidewalks, double bike lanes and Shared Streets, which are plazas designed for cooperative pedestrian and vehicle usage. The 3.4-mile ride was developed with bike advocacy groups Women’s Empowerment Through Bicycles, and Young Professionals in Transportation to encourage riders to feel more confident and to promote cycling to women and nonbinary people; the DOT says studies show that building safe cycling infrastructure can lead to more ridership among women. 

The tour is the first of six that the agency plans to release this year, one every month until “Biketober.” These rides will touch upon different themes — for example, June’s ride will include LGBTQIA+ landmarks for Pride Month — and are intended to help city cycling continue to grow and to promote it as a fun, fast and healthy way to get around. The DOT also currently publishes many other self-guided rides on its website of all difficulty levels, highlighting the agency’s work, community amenities and various destinations around the city.

The rides are launching in time with a wave of increasing interest in cycling: the DOT says that ridership hit all-time highs in 2022, with an average of 24,000 trips recorded over East River bridges on weekdays; many remain wary, however, as riders still face danger from traffic, such as Carroll Gardens resident Sarah Schick, whose death after being struck in an unsecured bike lane in Gowanus in January sparked protests and demands for quicker action by the DOT.

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REYNOSO TO HOST ASIAN/PACIFIC HERITAGE FEST AT BORO HALL

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Borough President Antonio Reynoso has invited Brooklynites of all stripes to a celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this Thursday at Borough Hall, set to feature traditional live music, dancing and spreads of tasty food from the many diverse Asian and Pacific Island nations whose people call the borough home — people of Asian, Pacific and Hawaiian descent make up more than 13 percent of the borough’s population, according to 2020 Census data, more than doubling since 2000. This year’s celebration will highlight Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, and their place in the city’s cultural makeup, according to Reynoso. 

Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month began in 1977 as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week, and later expanded into a month of recognition of the contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants and their descendants to the nation’s prosperity and history. The selection of the month of May has dual significance, according to PBS: it marks the month of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in 1843, as well as the date of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, a project primarily built by Chinese immigrant workers. The celebration has also taken on a special significance in the wake of the COVID pandemic, as Asian communities have been shaken by upticks in violence and racial hatred in the last few years, even in Brooklyn’s schools.

The celebration is free and open to everyone, and will take place at Borough Hall on Thursday, May 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; attendees are encouraged to RSVP online beforehand to ensure adequate food supplies.

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SEN. PARKER HELPS DREAMS COME TRUE
FOR GIRLS ENVISIONING THEIR PROM NIGHTS

FLATBUSH TO MILL BASIN — High school girls hoping to attend their proms now have dresses, shoes and other accessories, thanks to a giveaway that State Senator Kevin Parker (D-21) hosted last weekend, in partnership with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc./ Delta Rho Omega Chapter, and Shatonia Amee. This 14th Annual Free Prom Giveaway held on Saturday, May 20, at Samuel J. Tilden High School, supplied free prom dresses, shoes, and accessories to graduating high school girls who may not have the means to afford prom attire.

Senator Parker believes that students deserve to have the opportunity to celebrate prom positively and safely, regardless of their financial circumstances. “Every high school student deserves a memorable prom experience,” declared Senator Parker. “This occasion serves as a reminder to our youth that we genuinely care about their achievements and career goals and are dedicated to supporting them every step of the way.”

A lifelong Brooklyn resident, Senator Kevin S. Parker serves an ethnically diverse Brooklyn district that stretches from Kensington to Mill Basin, and includes sections of Flatbush, East Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Midwood, Flatlands, Canarsie, Georgetown, Old Mill Basin, Mill Basin, Marine Park, and Bergen Beach.

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BPL’S OLDER ADULT OF THE YEAR STAYS ACTIVE IN LIBRARY’S CREATIVE AGING CLASS

GRAND ARMY PLAZA —The Brooklyn Public Library’s Older Adult of the Year is Esther Poretsky, who was proclaimed at the BPL’s Aging Unbound celebration fair on Friday, May 19. Deputy Borough President Kim Council presented the award as part of the fair, which celebrated older adults.

A Brooklyn native, Poretsky at 75 is a regular participant in the Library’s Creative Aging classes—including writing, poetry and art—and an enthusiastic ambassador for the Library’s older adult programs. A Brooklyn native and retired kindergarten teacher, Poretsky first began visiting the Stone Avenue Library as a child where she remembers getting a blue library card designated for children.

Brooklyn Public Library’s Creative Aging series provides participants multi-session classes in art and writing with professional teaching artists. The Senior Debate Team allows older adults to explore current events and practice speaking in public. The Library also provides extensive training and one-on-one sessions designed to help older adults remain current with computers and technology; and Books by Mail helps homebound seniors throughout the borough stay connected to the library and the community.

Apple Bank and United Healthcare sponsored the fair, which offered a wide range of interactive workshops on topics like poetry, storytelling, art and music, featuring a jazz performance with LA Blacksmith. Walter Perez and Leonardo Sardella, the founders of Friends of Argentine Tango, had the entire crowd on their feet for nearly an hour learning Latin dances including the Chachacha.

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‘EPHEMERAL TATTOO’ STUDIO OFFERS INK THAT FADES IN UNDER A YEAR

WILLIAMSBURG — The Ephemeral Tattoo tattoo shop is offering New Yorkers a chance to dip their toes into body art with a proprietary ink formula that fades away after just months, reports Boing Boing. The Williamsburg studio’s founders say they tested more than 50 different versions of the ink before settling on their final version, currently available only in black, which is supposed to slowly disappear over the course of nine to 15 months, although the precise times vary depending on skin type and ink placement – the studio’s website states that 70 percent of the tattoos fade in under two years.

Standard tattoo ink works by injecting ink particles under the surface of the skin, where they bond into clumps too large for the skin to expel naturally. Ephemeral says that their ink’s particles biodegrade naturally, allowing the skin to break them down and push them out over time. 

An Insider Beauty reporter visited the studio to test the process out for himself, going under the needle and walking away with a Monstera plant leaf tattoo indistinguishable from the real deal; more information can be found on Ephemeral Tattoo’s website.

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EXPANDED ROLE FOR BROOKLYN HOSPITAL’S DR. SAM AMIRFAR

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Sam Amirfar, MD, MS, Chief Information Officer at The Brooklyn Hospital Center, has been appointed Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Amirfar, who has been with TBHC since 2014 as an attending physician and Chief Medical Information Officer, was later promoted to Senior VP and Chief Information Officer, a role in which he will continue, which includes building, maintaining and securing clinical data throughout the hospital network.

Dr. Amirfar in 2018 implemented the Epic outpatient electronic health record, both on time and under budget. He supervised a five-time increase in patients using the EHR portal, a 10-fold reduction in report production time, and an improvement in payment processing times. These improvements were accomplished with a decreased operating budget of four percent over the past five years.

He holds bachelor’s degrees from Stanford University in anthropology and biological sciences, and completed his senior thesis on an ancient structure built by the indigenous Anasazi people of the Four Corners area of the American Southwest (the nexus of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah) and used it as a “Stonehenge of the West.” Dr. Amirfar holds medical degrees from the New York University School of Medicine and completed his internships and fellowships at Bellevue, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Weill Cornell Medicine.

“Given the importance of technology and data analytics in healthcare today, the integration of these two disciplines is becoming more relevant and crucial,” says Gary G. Terrinoni, TBHC’s President and CEO. “Dr. Amirfar is a proven leader in healthcare technology and is an excellent clinician and out-of-the-box thinker.”

Dr. Sam Amirfar, Chief Medical Information Officer and now also Chief Medical Officer.
Photo: Brooklyn Hospital Center.

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ROSE TO JOIN CARONE AT NEW CONSULTING FIRM

BAY RIDGE — Former U.S. Rep. Max Rose, who lost his southern Brooklyn seat to current Rep. Nicole Malliotakis in 2020 after a redistricting, will join Mayor Adams’ former Chief of Staff Frank Carone at Carone’s new consulting firm Oaktree Solutions, reports the New York Post, taking on the title of managing director for federal and international affairs. Rose previously worked as a private consultant, and in 2021 was named as a senior advisor on COVID to the Secretary of Defense; he also launched a campaign to retake the House seat from Malliotakis in 2022, but came up short on Election Day.

While Carone is currently barred from lobbying City Hall, Rose did not rule out working with Adams himself, according to the Post; Carone told the Post that Rose will be focusing on working with international clients who are trying to comply with U.S. laws, and said that he’s currently talking to potential customers in Ukraine and South Korea. 

Carone is the former head of the Brooklyn Bar Association, as well as a long-time Adams ally dating back to before his years as Borough President, and has said he intends to help Adams during his reelection campaign in 2025.

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REP. CLARKE BIDS PRESIDENT TO PARDON 20TH CENTURY ACTIVIST MARCUS GARVEY

CENTRAL BROOKLYN — Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-09/Central Brooklyn) on Monday led 22 of her colleagues in a letter to President Biden calling for the exoneration of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a Jamaican-born activist who settled in NYC and after whom a street in Brooklyn’s Stuyvesant Heights neighborhood was named.

Garvey, who was the founder and first President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, was ideologically a black nationalist and Pan-Africanist who caught the eye of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Suspicious of Garvey, Hoover had him arrested; Garvey was convicted on charges of mail fraud, which many people believe were fabricated, and the government acted in bad faith in order to silence him.

Rep. Clarke, pushing for exoneration, wrote, “Nearly 100 years ago, Marcus Garvey was convicted of mail fraud in a case marred by prosecutorial and governmental misconduct. The evidence present and available at our disposal makes it abundantly clear that the charges brought against Mr. Garvey were fraudulent and executed in bad faith. A presidential pardon for Mr. Garvey would not only correct the historical record, but also shift the narrative at a time when African-American history faces the existential threat of erasure by extreme, far-right state legislatures,”

However, support for Garvey was not universal among Black Americans, who disdained his separatist views and distrusted his collaboration with the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists. A rift developed between Garvey and other prominent African-American civil rights activists such as W. E. B. Du Bois , who promoted racial integration.

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MAN STABBED IN DOMINO PARK

WILLIAMSBURG — Police are searching for two perps who sent a 24-year-old man to the hospital after a Williamsburg fight last Thursday, May 18. The suspects engaged the victim in a dispute around 3:00 p.m. in Domino Park, on the waterfront, then stabbed him once in the back and kicked him multiple times. The individuals were last seen fleeing the location heading southbound on Kent Avenue on foot; while the victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition by EMS.

The first individual is described as a male in his late 20s with a light complexion and a goatee, around 5’5” and 150 pounds; and was last seen wearing a green baseball cap, black hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants and white sneakers. The second individual is described as a male in his late 20s with a light complexion, braided hair and a goatee, around 5’5” tall and 165 pounds; and was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, blue sweatpants and white 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 Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, on Twitter @NYPDTips. 

Two men suspected of a stabbing at Domino Park. All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.

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MISSING GIRL, AGE 10, IN OCEAN HILL 

OCEAN HILL — The public is asked to be on the lookout for missing girl Aliyah Rogers, 10, last seen around noon on Saturday, May 20 inside her residence at the Kingsborough Houses. Aliyah is described as a girl with short black hair, 5’0” in height, and around 100 pounds.

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, on Twitter @NYPDTips.

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

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UNKNOWN BANDITS STEAL NYPD CAMERAS, EQUIPMENT

BROWNSVILLE — Police are scratching their heads over a theft of NYPD equipment from a downed light pole by two mystery bandits on the morning of Sunday, May 7. Video footage shared by police shows an “unknown truck” pull up to the downed pole outside the Super Pioneer Supermarket before two people exit it; cops say one of the suspects then stripped cameras and other gadgets from the pole and loaded them into the truck. The individuals then fled eastbound on East New York Avenue.

Police did not elaborate on what equipment was stolen in the incident, but the cameras do not appear to be labeled as NYPD property in Google Maps images linked by police. A 2020 report by Amnesty International found that East New York was the most-surveilled neighborhood in the city, with 577 cameras capable of facial recognition scattered throughout its intersections. While the pilfered camera was not noted in the nonprofit’s surveillance heat map, historical images provided by Google show that it was installed between Nov. 2020 and July 2021, after the release of the report.

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, on Twitter @NYPDTips. 

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

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FAMILY’S CAMERA CAPTURES MAN SETTING FIRE TO THEIR APARTMENT

EAST NEW YORK — A family that escaped a Sunday house fire in an East New York apartment complex was stunned to discover that their front door security camera had captured the fire’s origin – an unknown man deliberately setting the door alight, with one person inside, reports News 12. Video footage shared by resident Katiana Ciceron with the network clearly shows a man wearing a face mask and reflective jacket approaching her apartment around 3:00 p.m., throwing a mystery liquid on the camera and the door itself, then using a lighter to set a paper on fire before touching it to the door, igniting a blaze that ultimately consumed the apartment and damaged the full floor, according to residents.

Ciceron’s mother was alone in the apartment at the time, and was fortunately able to escape after being alerted to the danger by a neighbor. The camera had also recorded the mystery arsonist visiting the apartment early in the morning of that day. Ciceron said she had no idea who would want to do this or why: “I really wouldn’t wish this on anybody, not even my worst enemy, and I don’t even have any.” 

Residents of the building, one of the Long Island Baptist Houses, told News 12 that its front doors had been broken for some time, allowing non-residents to cause trouble inside; Councilmember Charles Barron said that while funding has been allocated to fix doors in NYCHA complexes across the city, the housing authority was struggling to get the repairs done in a timely fashion.

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BROOKLYN ARTIST WINS LG GUGGENHEIM AWARD

MANHATTAN — Brooklyn artist and Stony Brook professor Stephanie Dinkins was awarded the first-ever LG Guggenheim Award, along with a $100,000 honorarium, offered by the tech company LG and the Guggenheim Museum as part of a collaboration aimed at highlighting the use of technology in art, reports the Korea Herald. Dinkins’ work focuses on the intersection of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality, with diversity, equality and minority rights.

The Guggenheim spotlighted Dinkins’ work “Conversations with BINA48,” a performance project where Dinkins discusses the future of AI, as well as questions of identity and what it means to be human, with a cutting-edge “social intelligence” robot named BINA48, modeled after the appearance of black futurist Bina Rothblatt. The conversations are intended to highlight how human biases are shaping algorithms and to explore opportunities to evolve alongside AIs in the future. Other works by the artist include “Not the only one (N’TOO),” an AI chatbot that Dinkins trained using input from relatives to share the story of her family’s history with its conversation partners; and “Project al Khwarizmi,” a Brooklyn-based series of workshops designed to help communities of color engage with AI algorithms and create their own bots through art and conversation.

“Looking at issues of social justice, concepts of visibility and invisibility, and equity have always been a part of my practice. AI and algorithms present social issues that are too urgent to deny. Both are going to change our world so greatly that it’s imperative black people and other people of color are involved in making it. I see an urgency for this kind of thinking that’s greater than any urgency I’ve ever felt in terms of looking at ideas of equality, the world we’re building, and how you build that up to be something that works for everybody,” Dinkins told Conversation Project NY in 2018 in an interview on the workshop series.

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PAINTCARE OFFERS RECYCLING DROP-OFF CENTERS FOR HOUSEHOLD AND COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS

CITYWIDE — A new, free paint recycling program has been launched in New York City that enables households and businesses to recycle leftover paint, stain, and varnish conveniently and sustainably. Operating the program is PaintCare, a nonprofit organization created by the industry through the American Coatings Association (ACA) to manage leftover colloid mixtures and associated fluids in states that have enacted paint stewardship laws, including one that the state legislature passed in 2019. This ensures that everyone who produces, sells, and uses paint works together to minimize, reuse, and recycle leftover paint. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provides oversight for the program.

PaintCare makes it convenient to recycle leftover paint by establishing drop-off sites at local government facilities and paint retailers near residential neighborhoods. PaintCare sites accept both latex- and oil-based architectural paint products, including paints, stains, sealers, and varnishes. Paint must be dropped off in its original container with its original manufacturer’s label. Their online site locator shows dozens of drop-off sites along western Brooklyn, with the nearest ones to Downtown Brooklyn being Mazzone Paint Center. at 211 Smith St. near Baltic St. in  Boerum  Hill, and Ace Hardware, 470 Court St. in Carroll Gardens.

There is no cost to households and businesses when dropping off their unwanted paint for recycling. A small fee on the sale of new paint — called the PaintCare fee — funds all aspects of the program including paint collection, transportation, processing, and public education.

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SILVER CORPS PILOT PROGRAM OFFERS TRAINING AND VOLUNTEER WORK FOR OLDER ADULTS

CITYWIDE — Silver Corps has been launched as a new workforce development pilot program for older New Yorkers that will increase financial mobility of this bracket of citizens, combat ageism in the workforce, and fill employment needs in local communities. New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez on Monday, May 22 launched the program, which will receive funding from AmeriCorps Seniors.

Silver Corps participants must be at least 55 years old currently unemployed or underemployed to be eligible. They must also be willing to complete a skills training in job readiness, and financial and digital literacy, and a specialized certification program, and to volunteer a minimum of 10 hours per week at a nonprofit or city agency. During the volunteer portion of the training, a small stipend is provided to participants, and job placement support services are available based on the person’s tier. More information: To learn more about participating in the Silver Corps program, older New Yorkers can call Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469) or email [email protected].

The Silver Corps launch makes New York City one of just two municipalities in the nation that has received funding to develop and launch this type of pilot for older adults, in which a dozen individuals are enrolled as part of the program’s first cohort.

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REP. GOLDMAN: UNIVERSITIES IN NYC SHOULD OPEN DORMS TO MIGRANT FAMILIES THIS SUMMER

CITYWIDE — Public and private universities in New York City are being asked to take an inventory of dormitory or campus housing that could be made available over the summer for migrant families. Congressmen Dan Goldman (D-10/western Brooklyn) and Jamaal Bowman (D-16/Bronx and Westchester Counties) on Monday, May 22, urged the leaders of City colleges and universities, including the chancellor of City University of New York and NYU president, to work cooperatively with local, state, and federal leaders to help provide housing for asylum seekers, and to conduct an audit of available space on their campuses that may be suitable to provide shelter for new arrivals.

The Congressmen wrote, “During the summer, many of your institutions have empty dorm rooms, student apartments, and other potentially appropriate places for shelter that can serve as much-needed temporary housing for migrants. We also ask for your help as we work with local leaders to provide food assistance and other necessities as well as pro bono legal assistance to migrant families arriving in New York.”

However, the legislators’ statement may be based on assumption, as the City University of New York has graduate-level housing that is based on a 12-month license, according to the CUNY web pages on housing; and SUNY Downstate’s web page on Summer Housing. Thus students continuing coursework over the summer might not be vacating campus housing in all cases. There’s also the question of where migrant families would live once students move back in for the fall semester.


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