What’s News, Breaking: Monday, June 26, 2023
REP. VELÁZQUEZ WILL PRESENT CHECK TO
ST. FRANCIS COLLEGE’S NURSING SIMULATION LAB
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — St. Francis College will receive a check for $1.5 million on Tuesday, June 27, when Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-09) presents Community Project Funding to the college’s Nursing Simulation Lab. The capital funding will help support lab upgrades and career training for future nurses in partnership with The Brooklyn Hospital Center and others.
St. Francis College will give Rep. Velázquez and Brooklyn Hospital Center President & CEO Gary Terrinoni a tour of the Nursing Simulation Lab.
NEWLY-FORMED JEWISH ADVISORY COUNCIL WILL ADDRESS
ISSUES, INCLUDING SAFETY AND EDUCATION
CITYWIDE — Mayor Eric Adams on Monday, June 26, formed the city’s first-ever Jewish Advisory Council, to focus on all issues affecting Jewish New Yorkers, including public safety, quality of life, and education. The council will ensure that Jewish communities are connected with all of the city’s resources and services available. Joel Eisdorfer, senior advisor to Mayor Adams, is chairing the 37-member council, which will convene regularly to discuss issues affecting the city’s Jewish community. Among the charter members are Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of the New York Board of rabbis and Fire Department chaplain; David G. Greenfield, CEO of the Met Council; and, Hindy Poupko, senior vice president, UJA Federation of New York.
David Greenfield praised the appointment of Joel Eisdorfer as the first Chasidic member of Mayor Adams’ staff. And Rabbi Potasnik said, “We can best confront the challenges today if we work collectively as one community. We believe that unity of spirit and diversity of thought are essential as we write a new chapter in our great city.”
REP. YVETTE CLARKE, IN LETTER TO BIDEN, URGES
PROTECTIONS FOR IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES
FLATBUSH AND NATIONWIDE — Relief for immigrant communities – particularly those from the African and Caribbean diasporas — must be prioritized, wrote Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-09/Flatbush area) and 65 of her Congressional colleagues in a letter sent on Monday, June 26, to the Biden administration. The 65 signers include two other members of the Brooklyn delegation: Reps. Dan Goldman (D-10/western Brooklyn) and Nydia Velázquez (D-07/northern and eastern Brooklyn). Their letter highlights what they assert is the moral imperative to address the challenges faced by Black migrants and families and emphasizes the importance of comprehensive immigration reform.
The letter further calls on the Administration to exercise existing legal authorities to bestow Temporary Protected Status designations and redesignations for Caribbean and African countries, protect DACA recipients under threat of the courts, and address the long backlogs for green cards and work permits.
SUBWAY BATHROOMS AT 6 BROOKLYN STATIONS
WILL REOPEN JULY 3
BED-STUY TO BRIGHTON BEACH — Bathrooms at 18 subway stations across the city, including three Brooklyn stations on the B and Q lines, will reopen next Monday, July 3, on a rolling basis, the MTA announced on June 26. During the extended closures, the bathrooms underwent maintenance, including the installation of new motion-activated faucets, new hand dryers, dispensers, new and painted privacy, lighting, tile grouting and deep cleaning, and signage announcing hours. This stage of reopening will be at the express stations of Church Ave., Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach stations on the B and Q lines; the Church Ave. and 18th Ave. stations on the F line; and, the Myrtle/Broadway station on the J, M and Z lines, serving Bed-Stuy and Bushwick.
The bathrooms, each for male and female, will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with an hourlong closure from noon to 1 p.m. daily for cleaning. The MTA expects the majority of bathrooms within the subway system to open by Labor Day (Sept. 4).
LIBRARY BUDGET, FACING POSSIBLE CUTS,
CAN’T COVER NUMEROUS REPAIRS
CITYWIDE — The 217 public library branches need repairs totaling more than $1 billion, at a time when Mayor Eric Adams aims to slash library spending by $36.2 million, according to the latest executive budget due this week, and up $900 million from 2019, reports an extensive article in The City. Among the most urgent repairs that The City cited are broken air conditioning, clogged toilets and ceilings that leak. One branch, in Red Hook, is closed until 2025. Although Reuven Blau’s article in The City points out that $760 million has been earmarked for libraries as part of Mayor Adams’ mayor’s current 10-Year Capital Strategy plan — with $198 million in capital funding for libraries, library officials claim this amount is insufficient to cover the extent of repairs for the buildings, many of which are more than 60 years.
Even newly-built branches, like the Brooklyn Heights and Adams St. libraries (the latter of which serves DUMBO, Vinegar Hill and the Farragut public housing complex) have regular maintenance costs.
FUNDRAISER FOR BURNED ITALIAN RESTAURANT HITS $15K IN ONE DAY
PARK SLOPE — A GoFundMe campaign for neighborhood Italian favorite Giovanni’s Brooklyn Eats has raised over $38,000 from locals who want to help the restaurant rebuild after a two-alarm fire on Saturday, reports amNY. While the blaze, fortunately, caused no injuries, it took 100 firefighters to extinguish, and in the process, Giovanni’s was left with “significant damage,” according to fundraiser organizer Keith Greenberg.
380 donors, as of press time, poured in messages of love and support alongside monetary contributions of as much as $5,000; one top donor, YiPei Chen-Josephson, wrote, “You all are amazing and my family and I can’t wait to dine with you all again hopefully soon,” while donor Maria Chapman added, “Our cousins [visiting] from Sicily loved the food, so you KNOW it’s good.”
RESTLER INTRODUCES MEDICAL EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION BILL
CITYWIDE — City Councilmember Lincoln Restler, along with Councilmember Carlina Rivera of lower Manhattan, on Thursday, introduced legislation to require the Department of Correction to notify family members of individuals in custody and defense attorneys of major medical events, such as serious injuries, hospitalizations or suicide attempts. Currently, the DOC is not required to share this information with families and often does not do so, leaving families unable to advocate for support and medical care, even as such events become more common even in the face of efforts to stop violence in the city’s jails and prisons.
At Rikers, violence has increased exponentially in recent years; uses of force resulting in serious injury are up 856% and stabbings and slashings are up 559% since 2015, according to a press statement from Restler’s office, despite the consent decree that the infamous complex has been operating under — one that the city is trying to wiggle out of, and was rebuked by a judge earlier this month for failing to comply with.
MOVIE NIGHTS IN FORT GREENE PARK
FORT GREENE — The Fort Greene Park Conservancy is holding two free outdoor movie nights this week, one in association with Rooftop Films and the other with the support of the Paramount Plus streaming service. On Tuesday, June 27, the park’s Chinese and Spanish Language film series will present “Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado,” a poignant documentary about a legendary astrologer who disappeared at the height of his fame, on the Myrtle lawn, which opens 7:30 p.m. with the film running from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.; while on Thursday, June 29, visitors can catch “Marcel: The Shell With Shoes On,” as part of the park’s Paramount Plus Movie Nights, an animated mockumentary about a plucky mollusk’s rise to fame and quest to find his long-lost family, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Parents’ note: Common Sense Media says that “Marcel” is sweet, uplifting and okay for young ones, but that its calm tone and focus on dialogue, as well as some discussion of grief and loss, make it more suitable for older or patient kids.)
Seating is first-come first-serve and reservations are recommended but not necessary; RSVP links and more information about these and other upcoming movies can be found on the Fort Greene Park Conservancy’s website.
PENN STATION RECONSTRUCTION PLAN GIVEN JOINT SUPPORT
MIDTOWN MANHATTAN — The Penn Station Reconstruction is a step closer to reality, now that Governor Kathy Hochul, local elected officials, and railroad partners on Monday, June 26, announced their united support for the project’s vision. The Governor emphasized the urgency of fixing Penn Station, which is considered the Western Hemisphere’s busiest transit hub, and stated that the Reconstruction is now advancing, with a design based on the Penn Station Master Plan, a joint planning process undertaken by the railroads. This master plan, which is distinct from the expansion proposal that involves a different city block, proposes to fix the station’s deficiencies that impede the safe and efficient movement of passengers, will address the underutilization of property such as the mid-block taxiway, and will consider foot traffic patterns.
The Penn Reconstruction is both separate and distinct from the future Penn Station Expansion, the latter of which includes the potential acquisition of property in the City. Both projects are required to undergo federal environmental review.
RICHARD RAVITCH, 89, REVITALIZED THE MTA
CITYWIDE — Richard Ravitch, who is credited with saving New York City from bankruptcy and transforming the New York City MTA from its worst period into an expanded transit agency, died on Sunday, June 25, at age 89, according to several sources. Some sources indicate that Ravitch was born in Brooklyn, others claim Manhattan. The family company, which Richard Ravitch inherited, built the Ebbets Field Apartments and a Trump building both in Brooklyn. When then-Governor Hugh Carey in 1979 appointed Ravitch, the heir of HRH Construction, as MTA head, the businessman had already successfully rescued the finances of the New York State Urban Development Corporation, which Gov. Carey had found to be insolvent. A subway rider himself, Ravitch took great interest in revitalizing the MTA through business plans and an extension of the commuter railroads. Ravitch later served as Lieutenant Governor from 2009-2011 under Gov. David Paterson’s time in office.
“Dick Ravitch, for everybody in the transportation business, was giant. He was the chairman of the MTA at maybe the lowest moment in the history of at least the subway system, and certainly the mass transit system in New York. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, he led the beginnings of the turnaround of our great mass transit system, said current MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, who recalled “He was one of the reasons that I got excited about transit.”
IN MEMORIAM: JOHN B. GOODENOUGH,
OLDEST TO WIN NOBEL PRIZE
The man who developed the lithium-ion battery and who became the oldest Nobel Prize winner at age 97, died on Sunday, June 25, exactly a month before his 101st birthday, according to a New York Times obituary by Robert D. McFadden. Born in Germany in 1922, John B. Goodenough lived to be 100 and was an active professor at the University of Texas at Austin into his 90s. He shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with M. Stanley Whittingham, a British chemist who worked for Exxon, for his crucial role in developing the revolutionary lithium-ion battery, after having improved on Whttingham’s earlier prototype. Goodenough experimented for four years with building the battery cathode with lawyers of lithium and cobalt oxide, creating pockets and layers that allowed for a less volatile battery. That safety innovation allowed the creation of many indispensable devices: from smartphones and laptops to cardiac defibrillators and electric vehicles and bikes.
The earlier battery used lithium (the lightest metal, with an atomic number of 3 — immediately after hydrogen and helium on the Periodic Table of Elements) and titanium disulfide on the negative and positive electrodes, respectively. However, the Whittingham battery, which could not withstand repeated charging, would ignite or — worse — explode. Lately, e-bikes are having the same, deadly problem.
NEW CAFE COMING TO CRANBERRY’S LOCATION
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A new outpost of the Cobble Hill cafe Poppy’s will be moving into the location of the long-time Brooklyn Heights neighborhood favorite Cranberry’s, which shuttered in the summer of 2020 after 42 years, reports Eater NY. Poppy’s, which is also an event caterer, serves similar foods as Cranberry’s once did — breakfast pastries, soups, sandwiches, prepared salads and a wide variety of specialty coffees — and wrote in an Instagram post that they will be coming in sometime in the fall of this year.
Cranberry’s was one of several area businesses affected by the pandemic, and many were saddened to learn of their closing; the Brooklyn Heights Blog reports that the Montemarano family posted a notice in the shop’s window in 2020 thanking customers and employees for their years of support: “We may have poured our final cup of coffee, but our employees will always be a part of our lives. Our hearts are full of love and respect for everyone who has worked at Cranberry’s. Thank you for being a part of our family.”
SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND SECURE $25M FOR E-BIKE CHARGE STATIONS
CITYWIDE — Senators Chuck Schumer, and Kirsten Gillibrand on Sunday announced the awarding of $25,000,000 in federal funds from the DOT to build 173 outdoor e-bike and e-scooter storage and charging stations at 53 NYCHA sites across the city, in an effort to reduce or eliminate the hazards posed by those devices’ powerful lithium-ion batteries, which can overheat, catch fire or explode if defective or treated improperly. Battery fires, especially during charging, have increased in recent years as electric mobility devices gain in popularity; there were 216 such fires last year, up from only 44 in 2020, while a fire last week at a bike shop in Chinatown claimed four lives — prompting the city to set up a 311 battery complaint hotline and education program at bike shops across the five boroughs.
The FDNY also issued several battery safety tips: always follow manufacturer guidelines and use approved chargers; never charge or store batteries in hot or sunny places or around flammable or soft materials; look for the Underwriters Laboratories “UL” mark, which indicates that the battery has been safety-tested; and discontinue use and call 911 if a battery overheats or you notice an odor, change in shape or color, leaking or odd noises.
L TRAIN DERAILS IN CANARSIE
CANARSIE — An L train carrying passengers partially derailed on Sunday night, reports CBS News, after what the MTA said was an accident involving an axle with two wheels leaving the rails as the train crossed from one track to another while leaving the Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway station. While most of the riders were able to get back off the train onto the platform, eight passengers stuck in the first four cars had to be moved to another train and were taken to East 105th Street station.
No injuries were reported; the MTA says an investigation into the causes of the incident are ongoing.
MAN MISSING FROM ADULT CARE CENTER
BATH BEACH — Police are asking the public to help find missing man Carmine Trotto, 68, last seen on the afternoon of Thursday, May 25, leaving his residence at the Kings Adult Care Center in Bath Beach. Trotto is described as approximately 5’8″ and 191 pounds, with brown eyes and white hair, and was last seen wearing a red sweatshirt, gray sweatpants and white sneakers. It is unclear why a month elapsed between the time Trotto was last seen and when police issued a missing persons alert, but Trotto is not the first vulnerable adult to go missing from the care center in recent months: resident William Anzueta, age 89, was reported gone in December of last year; while in 2017, a mother sued the home after staffers lost her son during an excursion, causing him to live on the streets for three weeks.
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 their by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
CROWN HEIGHTS MAN MISSING IN MANHATTAN
CROWN HEIGHTS – Police are searching for missing man Schneurz Feigelstock, 57, of Crown Heights, who was last seen on the morning of Saturday, June 24 outside the United Nations building in Manhattan. Feigelstock is described as around 5’5” and 200 pounds, with a light complexion, brown hair and a brown and gray beard.
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 CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
POLICE SEEK GUNMAN IN BAY RIDGE
BAY RIDGE – Police are searching for an unidentified man who on the afternoon of Friday, June 23 discharged a firearm on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge, striking a 21-year-old woman in her right thigh and a 24-year-old man in his right arm, before fleeing on foot down 95th Street; both victims were transported to a local hospital in stable condition. The shooter is described as around 20 to 25 years old, with a dark complexion and medium build, and was last seen wearing a dark blue tracksuit, white and red sneakers, and a black ski mask with his face showing.
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.
TWO CHILDREN MISSING IN BROWNSVILLE
BROWNSVILLE – Police are asking the public to help find two missing siblings, 6-year-old Aminata Doumbia and 10-year-old Mamadou Doumbia, who were last seen on Saturday, June 24 around 1:40 p.m. in front of 667 MacDonough Street in Brownsville. Aminata, age 6, is described as a Black girl, approximately 4’5” and 60 pounds,with a thin build, brown eyes and long black hair in cornrows with white beads, and was last seen wearing a t-shirt, denim shorts and red Mickey Mouse crocs. Mamadou, age 10, is described as a Black boy, around 5’0” and 90 pounds, with buzz-cut black hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a red and navy blue t-shirt, dark blue shorts and blue, gray and red sneakers.
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 CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
MTA LOST AND FOUND SQUAD REUNITES LOST WW2 HEIRLOOM WITH FAMILY
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – A lost World War II heirloom found at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station on June 13 went back to its family last week, with the aid of MTA Lost and Found worker Veronica Santana, who, after receiving the 1940s Naval ID card of Naval Aviator Robert Carroll, made it a personal quest to get it home. She and other workers called military offices and searched online for the next-of-kin, eventually finding a photo and Facebook post from Carroll’s daughter Stephanie, who shared that she had misplaced the ID after bringing it to a veterans’ showing of “Top Gun: Maverick” last fall; Santana then told the full story of the discovery to MTA President Richard Davey, who contacted Carroll and arranged the reunion of the heirloom during a ceremony on Friday at Penn Station, where Carroll and Santana finally met and where Davey honored Santana and the Lost and Found team for their heroic efforts.
HISTORIC BUILDING ONCE HOME OF SPIKE LEE HITS MARKET FOR $4.35M
FORT GREENE — A historic building in Fort Greene once owned by director Spike Lee has hit the market for $4.35 million, reports Mansion Global, offering prospective buyers a chance at owning a handsome four-level, 5,775-square-foot home overlooking the park — one with a unique history. The building was originally constructed in the 1910s as a water tower for the growing neighborhood, and boasts unusually thick walls as a result; it was later converted into a fire station and bomb shelter, according to the listing agents, before being bought by Lee in the 80s, serving as a base for the filmmaker, who produced “Do The Right Thing” while living there.
Because it wasn’t originally constructed as a house, its interior structure will allow the next owners to modify it extensively: Corcoran agent Mark David Fromm envisioned it serving as a gallery with high ceilings, or incorporating a pool — potentially bringing it back to its roots.
BROOKLYN SPA REVEALS ITS TUBS ARE HEATED BY BITCOIN COMPUTERS
WILLIAMSBURG — A trendy spa in Williamsburg sparked debate on social media on Wednesday after making an Instagram post seemingly revealing that its hot tubs and baths use water warmed with the excess heat generated by computers “mining” the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, reports CryptoSlate. This mining process involves using computers to solve complex math problems, something that’s extremely energy intensive and requires constant cooling of the computer components to stop them from overheating; BATHHOUSE, which opened in 2021, says it’s solved this problem by using water to cool its machines, then reusing that heated water in its pools — and once the water cools off, recirculating it indefinitely.
Some commenters expressed skepticism and wondered whether the spa might be joking, while others criticized it for being involved with Bitcoin, citing concerns over resource consumption by cryptocurrency mining and over scams and malfeasance within the broader crypto industry, such as those allegedly committed by former crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, charged in December with multiple counts of fraud. The comments have since been locked on the post.
INCUMBENTS FIGHT OVER NEW SOUTH BK COUNCIL DISTRICT
BAY RIDGE — Sitting councilmembers Justin Brannan and Ari Kagan are likely to face off in the contentious City Council District 47 election later this year, reports Fox 5, with Brannan running unopposed on the Democratic ticket and Kagan the favorite for the Republican nod after switching his party affiliation last year, alleging that Democrats are too soft on crime. District 47 is currently Kagan’s turf, but redistricting last year expanded it to include Brannan’s Bay Ridge, as well as Coney Island, Bath Beach and Sea Gate, forcing the showdown; Kagan’s messaging on crime may win over city voters, who leaned more red than expected in last November’s gubernatorial race after Republican candidate Lee Zeldin made public order the centerpiece of his campaign.
The race for the Republican nomination in the district has been rocky — one candidate, Michael Ragusa, dropped out in April after being accused of forgery and fraud, while another, Anna Belfiore-Delfaus, faces calls to do the same after it was found that she lives in Staten Island and has not worked as a teacher since 2015.
NETS OWNER JOSEPH TSAI TO LEAD CHINA’S ALI BABA
CHINA — Joseph Tsai, the Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center, is set to take over the chairmanship from current chairman Daniel Zhang of the Chinese e-commerce and tech giant Ali Baba, which operates the world’s largest online marketplace, reports Forbes. Tsai is currently the executive vice chairman of the corporation, which he co-founded along with former chairman Jack Ma; Ma, a colorful and popular public figure, led Ali Baba from its founding in 1999 until 2019, but in 2020 stepped down from the company altogether and disappeared from the public eye after delivering a speech critical of the Chinese government.
Tsai’s wife Clara Wu Tsai, who co-owns the Nets alongside her husband, in November launched the new startup accelerator BK-XL, which aims to support BIPOC founders in early funding stages, offering both financial support and educational resources; the accelerator announced its first class of startups in April of this year.
FREE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS TO BROOKLYN
CITYWIDE — Films on the Green, the annual outdoor French film series, is returning to Brooklyn on Friday night, reports Greenpointers, with a free showing of the 1959 romantic drama “La Femme et le Pantin,” starring Brigitte Bardot as a heart-breaking flamenco dancer, at Transmitter Park on the Greenpoint waterfront. This festival is a joint project of the Villa Albertine artist residency program, the French Embassy, the French-American Cultural Exchange Foundation, and the Parks Department, and highlights the cinematic output of French, French-American and Francophone cultures over the decades; a full list of films and locations can be found on Villa Albertine’s website, but the next Brooklyn showing will be a screening of “Leap!,” a family-friendly animated movie about a young ballerina, on Sept. 8 at McGolrick Park.
The movie starts at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, June 23, at Transmitter Park; no tickets are required and admission is free.
TEEN DIES IN SUBWAY SURFING ACCIDENT ON L TRAIN
BROWNSVILLE — Two 14-year-old boys were severely injured on Thursday afternoon while “subway surfing” on an L train in Brownsville, reports AMny; one of the boys suffered severe head trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other was transported to a local hospital and is in critical condition. NYPD Transit Chief Michael Kemper said that the two boys had climbed to the top of the train at Broadway Junction, but were knocked off when the train entered a low tunnel between that station and the Bushwick Avenue-Aberdeen Street station; witnesses told ABC News that passengers had to evacuate the train and walk through the tunnel to the station platform.
Mayor Adams blamed the popularity of subway surfing videos with young people on video-sharing platform TikTok for the rise in incidents of people riding outside of train cars in recent years — instances tracked by the MTA jumped from 490 in 2019 to 928 in 2022 — and called on TikTok to ban such content; another teenager, Zachery Nazario, age 15, was killed in February of this year after falling from a J train on the Williamsburg Bridge and striking his head.
MAYOR VETOES BILLS HE SAID WOULD IMPEDE HOMELESS PERSONS’ HOUSING ACCESS
CITY HALL — A fight is setting up between Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Council over his plan to facilitate the movement of homeless persons from the shelter system into permanent housing. Mayor Adams on Friday vetoed a set of laws that City Council passed, saying that their package exceeds their authority and would rescind his earlier ruling. The mayor, who last week had eliminated a 90-day waiting period for people seeking permanent housing, said that the City Council bills would do the opposite, costing taxpayers billions annually.
“Instead of tackling decades of exclusionary zoning policies that have prevented our city from building an adequate housing supply — which has left nearly 20,000 current voucher holders unable to find housing — these bills would remove the city’s ability to target limited resources for those most in need,” said Adams.
VOCAL–NY: MAYOR’S VETO IS AN ‘ABSURD’ AND ‘COSTLY MISTAKE’
CITYWIDE — Immediately upon learning of Mayor Adams’ veto of the expansion and improvements to CityFHEPS, New York City’s rental assistance voucher program, the advocacy group VOCAL-NY denounced his action, calling it an “absurd veto” and a “costly mistake.”The legislative package (Int. 229-A, Int. 878-A, Int. 894-A and Int. 893-A) would address critical reforms needed for the CityFHEPS program to work properly. Charisma White, a Homelessness Union Leader at VOCAL-NY, pointed out that by reforming the CityFHEPs program and expanding its availability to all New Yorkers, the City can transition people out of the overburdened shelter system into long-term, permanent housing.
Said Ms. White, “We cannot allow a veto to derail an opportunity that will positively impact tens of thousands of constituents. We call on the New York City Council to take a united stand to boldly protect homeless New Yorkers and those at risk, by overriding Mayor Eric Adams veto of the CityFHEPS bill package.”
VETO OF HOUSING PROGRAM REFORMS CALLED ‘A NEEDLESS AND UNFORTUNATE POLITICAL STUNT’
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A lead attorney at the Legal Aid Society, which has offices in each borough, including Livingston St. in Downtown Brooklyn, has called Mayor Eric Adams’ Friday, June 23, veto on of CityFHEPS reforms a “needless and unfortunate political stunt.” Adriene Holder, chief attorney of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society, said that the veto “delays viable solutions to combat our worsening homelessness and eviction crises.”
“We now implore the City Council to immediately override this veto to secure the reforms needed to improve CityFHEPS and outcomes for some of our most vulnerable neighbors who are simply in search of a place to call home,” said Holder.
NY SEN. GILLIBRAND SECURES FUNDING FOR OFFICE TO HANDLE ‘UNIDENTIFIED AERIAL PHENOMENON’
NATIONWIDE — The tracking of an alleged Chinese spy balloon above the North American continent earlier this year has motivated U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to team up with her colleague Marcio Rubio of Florida on a bipartisan push to fund an office to help identify and resolve unidentified flying objects (UFOS). Gillibrand reported on Friday that she and Rubio have now secured the funding for an All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, which will in turn work to resolve cases involving sightings of what are now called Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. The special office will help the Department of Defense focus on resolving these UAP sightings, improving data sharing between that military agency and the Intelligence Community, addressing national security concerns, and reporting health effects people may experience in relation to UAP events.
“With aggression from adversaries on the rise and with incidents like the Chinese spy balloon, it’s critical to our national security that we have strong air domain awareness over our homeland and around U.S. forces operating overseas,” said Senator Gillibrand.
U.S. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS BIDEN DEPORTATION POLICY, ALLOWING IT TO TAKE EFFECT
NATIONAL — The United States Supreme Court has upheld a Biden administration policy that prioritizes deportation of immigrants who have been deemed greater risks to public safety, Associated Press announced Friday, June 23. Rejecting a Republican-led challenge, the SCOTUS justices voted 8-1 — with Associate Justice Samuel Alito the sole dissenter — to allow Biden’s policy to finally take effect after it had been blocked. The majority’s rationale is that widening the scope of deportations is simply not practical — the government lacks both money and manpower to deport the estimated 11 million people who entered the United States illegally.
However, Justice Samuel Alito filed a solo dissent, writing that the decision improperly favors the president over Congress. “And it renders states already laboring under the effects of massive illegal immigration even more helpless,” Alito wrote. By contrast, Kavanagh, as the majority’s author, opined that the president has no choice to prioritize deportation cases, and that the states lack legal standing to even begin such lawsuits.
SEN. GILLIBRAND LEADS INTRO ON BILL TO REDUCE ASYLEE WAITING PERMIT FOR WORK PERMITS
NATIONWIDE — Asylum seekers would have a swifter path to safe and legal employment, under a bill that U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), her Senate colleague from Oregon and a NY Congressman introduced on Friday, June 23. The Assisting Seekers in Pursuit of Integration and Rapid Employment (ASPIRE) Act would end the 180-day (roughly six-month) waiting period mandated in current law before asylum seekers can apply for the permits needed to work legally in the United States. Senator Gillibrand of NY, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY-15) believe that expediting work permit eligibility would also alleviate current labor shortages.
The ASPIRE Act would also provide funding for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to help relieve the burden on workers overwhelmed with the influx of asylum applications.
UNION BOSS’ THREAT TO WITHHOLD ENDORSEMENTS HANGS OVER FIGHT FOR RETIREE BENEFITS
CITYWIDE — As part of the latest salvo in the fight between municipal retirees and Mayor Adams’ administration, the city’s top labor union boss has threatened to pull his endorsements of any City Council candidates who oppose the switch to much-touted Medicare Advantage Plan, the Daily News reports. Henry Garrido, executive director of the large municipal workers’ union, District Council 37, made the proposal to retaliate politically against any incumbent City Council candidates (and all 51 must face re-election campaigns) who hold their ground on the traditional Medicare plan for which retirees are fighting. Garrido’s closed door meeting was convened after City Councilmember Charles Barron (D-42/eastern Brooklyn) announced a bill to ensure that the city must always offer premium-free, traditional Medicare coverage, which would allow them to keep their doctors and would prevent denials of coverage.
A growing number of City Councilmembers have expressed interest in co-sponsoring Barron’s bill, including Republicans like Inna Vernikov (R-48) of Brighton/Manhattan Beach.
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