What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, June 15, 2023
CONTENTIOUS SAFETY MARCH SET TONIGHT ON MCGUINNESS BLVD
GREENPOINT – Street safety advocates and other local groups were set to hold a rally on McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint this Thursday in support of a planned DOT safety redesign for the busy street, along with local elected officials including Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, Councilmember Lincoln Restler and state Sen. Kristen Gonzalez. The redesign plan, which would remove two of the street’s four lanes to make room for bike lanes and pedestrian islands, took two years to develop and was unveiled in May; some area residents, however, have mounted a campaign against the changes, one that a report by The City on Wednesday revealed is backed by the film production company Broadway Stages and its owners Anthony and Gina Argento, longtime political supporters of Eric Adams – raising fears among proponents of the plan that the mayor could be facing pressure to scrap it entirely.
The march is set to begin on June 15 at 6:00 p.m. on Bayard Street and McGuinness Boulevard; a town hall meeting at Broadway Stages is also planned for June 15 to discuss the future of the redesign plan.
BILL WOULD PROTECT SMALL BUSINESSES
FROM PREDATORY LENDING
NATIONWIDE — Small business borrowers would be protected from predatory lenders in a new bill that Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-7th District), the Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee, introduced with New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. The Small Business Financing Disclosure Act aims also to protect small business borrowers from financing options carrying unfair terms and conditions. It would also ensure safeguards already required in consumer lending, through the Truth in Lending Act. The bill would bolster the role of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in policing small business financing and bring enhanced transparency to small commercial originations.
Under Velázquez’s and Menendez’s bill, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) would be granted the same oversight authority with respect to small business financing as the agency has over consumer financial products and services, and would require small business lenders to clearly communicate their annual percentage rate; financing charges for loans; loan terms; payment amounts and collateral requirements.
MAYOR DE BLASIO DISREGARDED ADVICE HE REQUESTED
FROM NYC CONFLICTS OF INTEREST BOARD
CITYWIDE — Even though then-Mayor Bill de Blasio consulted with the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board on the use of city resources for political trips, he then ignored their advice, the COIB stated, in a Thursday, June 15, ruling that fines the mayor $155,000 and orders him to reimburse the city $319,794.20. The COIB referenced City Charter rules in charging that de Blasio, between May and September 2019, acted in conflict with his official duties in using the city resources for private purposes. The Board issued an Order adopting the recommendations issued by the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (“OATH”) Administrative Law Judge Kevin Casey after a full hearing.
The Conflict of Interest Board noted in its conclusion that “The Board advised Respondent… prior to his campaign; Respondent disregarded the Board’s advice.”
FORMER MAYOR DE BLASIO PENALIZED
FOR MISUSING CITY RESOURCES
CITYWIDE — Former NYC Bill de Blasio faces the largest fine in the Conflict of Interest Board’s history for his misuse of city resources for private purposes and for acting in conflict with official duties, the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board ruled on Thursday, June 15. Mr. de Blasio must pay a $155,000 fine and repay the City of New York an additional $320,000 for taking his security detail along with him on out-of-state political campaign travel in 2019, during his unsuccessful Presidential run. Ethics law prohibits elected officials from using city resources, including law enforcement personnel, for non-city purposes.
The COIB ruling gives de Blasio just 30 days to pay the $474,794.20. However, he has the right to appeal the ruling in state court.
NY ATTORNEY GENERAL BANISHES CRYPTO FIRM COINEX
FROM OPERATING IN UNITED STATES
STATEWIDE — The cryptocurrency platform CoinEx will withdraw from operating in the United States, and refund more than $1.1 million to thousands of New Yorkers, as part of a settlement reached with New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday, June 15. The Office of the Attorney General recovered more than $1.7 million from COINEX (CoinEx) in a lawsuit, after the platform failed to register as a securities and commodities broker-dealer and falsely represented itself as a crypto exchange.
As part of today’s consent order, CoinEx is banned from offering, selling, or purchasing securities and commodities in New York and is prohibited from making its platform available in the state, to which it must also now pay $600,000 in penalties.
PESTICIDE COMPANY MUST PAY RESTITUTION
FOR FALSELY MARKETING ITS PRODUCTS’ SAFETY
STATEWIDE — Bayer and Monsanto must pay millions of dollars in restitution to the State of New York, and cease advertising their products as safe and non-toxic, according to an important agreement that New York Attorney General Letitia James has made with them. The two pesticide giants had been found to falsely advertise their products, including Roundup® and others containing the chemical glyphosate, and persisted in doing so even after a previous 1996 agreement ordering them to cease and desist. Following a 2020 investigation into whether Monsanto — and its current owner Bayer — were again engaging in false advertising of their Roundup® products, Attorney General James concluded that the companies’ claims about these products violated New York laws against persistent business fraud and false and misleading advertising, and breached Monsanto’s obligations under the prior settlement.
As a result of the settlement announced today, Bayer and Monsanto will pay $6.9 million to OAG, which will be used to prevent, abate, restore, mitigate, or control the impacts of toxic pesticides on pollinators or aquatic species.
CITY REACHES TENTATIVE LABOR CONTRACT WITH UNIFORMED WORKERS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT, SAFETY AND SANITATION
CITYWIDE — The Uniformed Officers Coalition is the latest union group to reach a tentative contract agreement with the city. Mayor Eric Adams and Office of Labor Relations Commissioner Renee Campion on Thursday, June 15, announced a five-year tentative contract agreement with the coalition of unions that represents more than 32,000 city employees. UOC represents 11 unions across all uniformed city agencies, including the Fire Department, City of New York, the New York City Police Department and its officers, detectives, sergeants and captains unions, and the Department of Sanitation.
The tentative agreement, which now places 75% of the city workforce under contract, includes wage increases ranging from 3.25% to 4.00% over the contract period and follows agreements with District Council 37 in February and the United Federation of Teachers earlier this week.
NYU LANGONE OPENS NEW FAMILY HEALTH CENTER
IN UNDER-SERVED RED HOOK
RED HOOK — The Red Hook Family Health Center at NYU Langone opened this week on Van Brunt Street, the first in nearly 12 years. This marks the ninth medical and dental clinic and school-based pediatrics site that the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone, one of New York’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center networks, has opened, with the mission of bringing more primary and preventive outpatient care to the area’s residents. The new, 4,500-square-foot facility offers primary care, pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral health, and dental care services. Support services are available on-site, connecting patients to social and health networks to address food insecurity and offer workforce development opportunities and multilingual translation services.
The Family Health Center, which hosted an open house and tours on Tuesday, was part of NYU’s commitment and contract to open a clinic in Cobble Hill.
CITY’S NEW AGREEMENT WITH UFT RAISES STARTING SALARIES
CITYWIDE — Mayor Eric Adams and the city’s second-largest union, the United Federation of Teachers, struck a tentative five-year agreement on Tuesday, June 13, that significantly raises starting salaries for newly hired teachers and includes a major expansion of remote learning. The agreement raises starting salaries for new teachers to $72,349, including the bonuses — up from the current $61,070, according to the UFT. The deal, which the union’s 120,000 members must now approve, guarantees raises of 17.58% to 20.42% by 2026, including compounded wage increases and bonuses.
Moreover, the agreement broadens an existing pilot on remote learning: High schools and combined middle-high schools will be able to offer virtual learning programs after school and on weekends, with students and teachers volunteering to participate.
CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON NEW ABOLITIONIST PLACE PARK ON WILLOUGHBY
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Workers have begun building a long-delayed new park next door to City Point Mall in Downtown Brooklyn, reports New York YIMBY, with drone photography showing the organic layout of the future Abolitionist Place greenspace, slated to open sometime this fall. The park, formerly to be named Willoughby Square Park, was originally proposed in 2019, but met with community pushback over claims that plans did not adequately honor the area’s legacy of involvement in abolitionism – the site was once home to houses believed to have been part of the Underground Railroad.
The park will also feature a sculpture themed after the pursuit of freedom, designed by artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and inscriptions throughout the space meditating on its history.
‘POWER OF TREES’ EXHIBIT EXPLORES NATURE’S ABILITY TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s 2023 summer and fall program series: Power of Trees, which launches this Saturday, June 17, centers on the ways in which trees serve as pillars of the natural and cultural worlds. Developed in partnership with AnkhLave Arts Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Areas Conservancy, Climate Museum, I AM CaribBEING, and Moskehtu Consulting, this series’ June 17 launch will include a celebration with a site-specific exhibition of six sculptural works titled “Branching Out: Trees as Community Hosts,” an interpretive signage exhibition, titled “Power of Trees: Stories from the Collection,” where visitors can learn more about BBG’s collection of over 3,700 trees and their role in mitigating climate change, and a pop-up installation in the Conservatory Gallery featuring an interactive sticker wall that aims to inspire learning, dialogue, and climate action.
Power of Trees, which runs through October 22, will highlight unexpected facts about specific tree species found in the Garden and that New Yorkers coexist with in Brooklyn and beyond. Highlighted species include the common horsechestnut, which produces spiky, nonedible fruit, and the giant sequoia, which has adapted to fire.
PROSPECT PARK TO HOST JUNETEENTH CELEBRATIONS
PROSPECT PARK – Prospect Park’s historic Lefferts House Museum will host a Juneteenth celebration this weekend featuring African and African-American cultural demonstrations in honor of the national holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery. Presented by the Prospect Park Alliance and the Asase Yaa Cultural Arts Foundation, Saturday’s free event will feature African dancing and drumming, tap dancing, gospel music and theatrical readings, as well as cooking and historic games; while on Sunday, the One Love Little Carribean Day will spotlight local artists and DJs, along with games, kids’ activities and refreshments.
The Saturday event will take place on June 17 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Lefferts Historic House on Flatbush Avenue, and free tickets can be reserved online on EventBrite; Sunday’s festivities will be at the LeFrak Center inside the park on June 18 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
BIOGAS-TO-GRID RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT LAUNCHED AT NEWTOWN CREEK
GREENPOINT — A new, innovative project that converts wastewater into renewable energy has emerged from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility in Greenpoint. Officials from the city, the DEP, EPA-Region 2 and National Grid joined forces on Wednesday, June 14, to celebrate the start of this renewable biogas-to-grid project at the facility. The project, the first of its kind, has already begun producing a reliable source of clean, renewable energy, reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, and improving air quality.
This endeavor has the potential to produce enough renewable energy to heat nearly 5,200 homes in Brooklyn and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90,000 metric tons — the equivalent of removing nearly 19,000 cars from the road per year or growing 1.5 million trees for 10 years.
DOG CAFE EXPANDS TO WILLIAMSBURG
WILLIAMSBURG – A new pup-friendly eatery, the second outpost of the East Village cafe Boris & Horton, launched in Williamsburg last week, reports Time Out New York, featuring a sit-down restaurant for humans, a doggy boutique and a large space for pets to socialize and play. The cafe also offers an array of treats for dogs and people alike, with standard fare like coffee, salads and toasts joining food-themed cookies for canines, as well as more unusual offerings like dog-friendly ice cream and sweet potato fries.
The original location is known for cross-species events like its bi-monthly doggy comedy nights, which raise funds for local shelters; the Williamsburg location’s schedule can be viewed online on the cafe’s website.
BROOKLYN’S OLDEST BUTCHER STARES DOWN BANKRUPTCY
COBBLE HILL – Historic butcher shop Staubitz Market, which opened its doors in 1917, is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, reports the New York Post, which says that its owner, John McFadden Jr., is attempting to fundraise $150,000 on the GoFundMe platform to save the store from shuttering. McFadden, who inherited the store when his father passed away in November after 65 years behind the counter, writes that the business is struggling to compete against larger chains and needs the cash to fund emergency repairs ordered by the city; the shop is Brooklyn’s oldest butchery and has changed hands multiple times over the years, with McFadden senior being the third owner.
“We are reaching out to our beloved community, loyal patrons, and anyone who appreciates the value of small local ‘mom and pop’ shops and specialty stores that are becoming extinct. This landmark family business will become another empty storefront without your generous support,” McFadden wrote; loyal fans have responded, donating over $27,000 so far.
REP. CLARKE, NY SUN WORKS INVEST IN CLIMATE EDUCATION
MIDWOOD — Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-09/Flatbush) and NY Sun Works on Friday, June 16, will jointly announce a major investment in climate education across Brooklyn. The project will expand climate and sustainability education through new hydroponic labs and high school-level workforce development programming across her district, which includes Edward R. Murrow High School, where Friday’s check presentation will take place.
Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn has a recently-renovated greenhouse and hydroponics lab, according to its website.
CITY LAUNCHES PROGRAM FOR ELECTRIC MICROMOBILITY IN PARKS AND GREENWAYS
CITYWIDE — The electric micromobility pilot program in City parks, drives and greenways, as part of the City’s work to make using electric micromobility easier and safer to use, will begin June 20, Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue announced on Wednesday, June 14. The pilot was first announced in March as part of Mayor Adams’ “Charge Safe, Ride Safe: NYC’s Electric Micromobility Plan,” which includes ways to support the rapid adoption of these devices.
Although the city touts greenways as a “scenic, comfortable, and safe path for cyclists and pedestrians,” it did not specify how it will protect the pedestrians from the increased traffic from e-bikes and scooters, other than recommend that everyone be considerate.
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