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What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, June 27, 2023

June 27, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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CITYWIDE — Several Brooklyn elected officials and local advocates praised the Federal Highway Administration’s green-lighting on Tuesday, June 27, of the Manhattan Central Business District Tolling. U.S. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-07/northern and eastern Brooklyn) called the plan “a national model for how cities can improve air quality with limited impact on residents.” Rep. Dan Goldman (D-10/western Brooklyn) pointed out that congestion pricing will “…uplift our vulnerable communities who bear the brunt of the negative impacts of air pollution.” NYC Comptroller Brad Lander — a Brooklynite — said, “The greenlighting of MTA’s Environmental Assessment marks a major transportation milestone that will keep New York City’s streets and subways moving for years to come.”

Advocating for people with disabilities, Joe Rappaport, executive director of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, said, “Gov. Hochul and the MTA made a legally binding commitment in 2022 to make nearly every one of the system’s 472 subway stations accessible to people with mobility impairments — and the funds raised by congestion pricing will help them keep their word.


News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond


PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Academy of Music announced on Monday that it would be laying off 26 of its staff members — equivalent to 13% of the institution’s workforce — reports the New York Times, citing reduced revenues due to the pandemic and economic turmoil. These factors have also led BAM to cut programming back to levels that its leadership says it can afford, including toning down its popular Next Wave Festival along with reducing next year’s production schedule as a whole.

Union leaders criticized the decision, saying that their focus was on helping the fired workers find new jobs; BAM president Gina Duncan wrote in a letter to staffers that along with the pandemic, it is struggling to deal with lessened donor support, as well as an “outdated business model that heavily relies on a shrinking donor base.”



CITYWIDE  — Congestion pricing will move forward, now that the Federal Highway Administration has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday, June 27. The Federal Highway Administration has completed the environmental review of the State’s nation-leading congestion pricing program, known formally as the Manhattan Central Business District Tolling, following the requisite 30-day public availability period of the Final Environmental Assessment. Several agencies at the city, state and federal levels determined that the program is expected to meet its objectives by reducing congestion and overall vehicle miles traveled, with related regional air quality benefits.

In 2019, New York State mandated the Central Business District Tolling Program, which is modeled on urban congestion pricing programs around the world, to reduce traffic congestion and raise needed revenue to improve public transportation. The program will charge vehicles a toll for traveling in Manhattan south of and inclusive of 60th Street, excluding through traffic on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, West Side Highway, Battery Park Underpass, and roadway portions of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel connecting to West Street.



EAST FLATBUSH — SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is partnering with the University at Albany to explore the use of artificial intelligence and deep learning technology to better understand mental health disorders and aid in earlier diagnosis and treatment. Their goal is to alleviate shortages of human, in-person professional care where these resources are believed to be currently scarce. The Global Center for AI in Mental Health, formed in collaboration with the Health Innovation Exchange (HIEx), will explore ways to use AI and other deep technology to advance the early detection of mental health conditions, track patients’ progress, and monitor them after medical intervention.

Deep technology is a term that defines the work of technologically-centered companies or enterprises that address and create solutions to major societal problems, from mental health to climate change and food security.



BROOKLYN/NATIONWIDE — There are over 9,000 different e-cigarette devices sold in the U.S., according to a new Associated Press report, which attributes the proliferation of the fruity nicotine vapes to an unexpected supply wave from China. The AP says that, according to “tightly controlled” sales data, most of the devices are sold in fruit and candy flavors that can appeal to teenagers. All are technically illegal, but they continue to flow into U.S. ports with little threat of retaliation. The trend underscores the FDA’s inability to control the tumultuous vaping market previously dominated by Juul and other reusable e-cigarettes. The new disposable and reusable cigarettes currently make up 40% of the U.S. e-cig market share.

Most disposables mirror a few major brands, such as Elf Bar or Puff Bar, but hundreds of new varieties appear each month. Companies copy each other’s designs, blurring the line between the real and counterfeit. Entrepreneurs can launch a new product by simply sending their logo and flavor requests to Chinese manufacturers, who promise to deliver tens of thousands of devices within weeks.



NEW YORK CITY — Want to fly a drone in NYC? The NYPD is proposing to create a procedure by which members of the public may submit applications to launch or land an unmanned aircraft, including drones. The department is holding a public hearing on the proposed rules at 10 a.m. on July 7 in the auditorium on the first floor of One Police Plaza in Manhattan. Anyone who wants to comment in person (three-minute limit) must sign up before the hearing by calling 646- 610-5400 and asking for Melanie Braverman, or by emailing your name and affiliation to [email protected] by June 30.

You can also submit written comments to:; email them to NYPD at [email protected] or mail them to the NYPD Legal Bureau at One Police Plaza, Room 1406, New York, NY 10038 c/o Agency Attorney Melanie Braverman. Written comments must be in by July 7.



CONEY ISLAND — A celebration of Brooklyn and Queens Catholic schools will take place at Maimonides Park on Wednesday night, featuring the Priests v. Principals, an awards ceremony, and of course, a Brooklyn Cyclones game. DeSales Media, in conjunction with the Diocese of Brooklyn, sponsors and hosts Catholic Schools Night with Bishop Robert Brennan and Deacon Kevin McCormack, Superintendent of Schools, leading a pre-game awards ceremony that will honor 62 Catholic elementary school salutatorians and valedictorians. Christine Persichette, anchor of NET-TV’s Currents News, will present awards to seven youths in excellence in art and writing for their contributions to Tablet, Jr., a student-designed monthly insert in The Tablet newspaper. Before the Cyclones’ game against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, a special game between the “Collars” and the “Scholars” — priests and school administrators — will take place on the baseball diamond.

A commemorative Superintendent Kevin McCormack bobblehead will be distributed to fans attending in support of Catholic education.



STATEWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday warned New Yorkers of more potential air quality hazards from Canadian wildfires on Wednesday, June 28, when forecasts predict that winds driven by a cold front sweeping through the state will cause surface smoke impacts statewide, hitting NYC by Wednesday evening. Although forecast uncertainty remains, New Yorkers should be prepared for possible elevated levels of fine particulate pollution caused by smoke on Wednesday; if necessary, the state will issue advisories to regions impacted by smoke Tuesday afternoon.

The Governor also shared tips for reducing smoke-related health risks: New Yorkers, and especially seniors, children, pregnant people and those with heart or lung problems, should avoid exposure to the outdoors, as well as exertion outdoors, and monitor themselves for symptoms of smoke inhalation; when air quality is unhealthy, wearing a well-fitting face mask, ideally an N95 or KN95, is recommended. New Yorkers can get more information about the air quality forecast on the state DEC’s website and can check current air quality on the federal AirNow website.



WILLIAMSBURG — Police are searching for an unknown individual who on the afternoon of Monday, June 26, approached a 77-year-old male victim on the sidewalk near the Broadway G station and threw a cutting instrument at him, striking him in the face, while making anti-Jewish statements. The culprit then fled in an unknown direction, and the victim was able to be treated by EMS at the scene; police say that the Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the incident.

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 or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.

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



“Jazz Trio,” by Ghanaian gallerist Selorm Fiadjoe, is made from silk embroidery thread, which appears luminous in the sunshine in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Eagle photo by Mary Frost.

BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK — Gallerist Selorm Fiadjoe, a native of Ghana, is exhibiting his luminous embroidery artwork in each borough of New York City. He chose Juneteenth to display his abstract work “Jazz Trio” in Brooklyn Bridge Park in celebration of Black history. Each colorful piece is made using silk thread glued onto the canvas by Fiadjoe and a team of artists based in ENA Gallery in Ghana. The technique catches the light and lasts longer than conventional painting, he said.

Fiadjoe says he has done pieces for Harvard University, Global Citizen, Chance the Rapper and others.

Ghanaian gallerist Selorm Fiadjoe stands next to his “Jazz Trio” artwork in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Eagle photo by Mary Frost.



CAPITOL HILL — Rep. Dan Goldman of Brooklyn is leading a group of 17 Congressional colleagues in a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts urging him to create an ethics counsel. Goldman and these fellow members of Congress, all with experience as former prosecutors, law enforcement officials, or judges, want the Supreme Court to establish an ethics counsel to standardize the Court’s ethics procedures, advise justices on ethics issues — including disclosure requirements and recusals — and prevent ethical misjudgments. The Congressmembers point out the recent controversy with Associate Justices  Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito failing to disclose monetary gifts and travel from donors, and they urge Chief Justice Roberts to establish an independent investigative body that can provide transparency and accountability through exhaustive investigations into alleged ethical improprieties.

The Congressional letter to Roberts also stated, “We know that you possess the ability to do such an investigation when you desire. Approximately 24 hours after the draft majority opinion in Dobbs was leaked, you publicly directed the marshal of the Supreme Court to conduct an investigation to identify the leaker.”



FORT HAMILTON — The outgoing military commander of the USAG-Fort Hamilton, Lieutenant Colonel Harold Morris, is leaving the Army after over 20 years of honorable service and returning to civilian life, but he is staying nearby — in New York City. During his command here, Morris created public partnerships in support of educators. He is credited with integrating city agencies and businesses to bring their resources front and center, with programs and partnerships such as “I Will Graduate,” “Army Sports Athletics,” “Army Fitfest Challenge” and “Army Culinary and Robotics Competition.” He also increased interactive STEM assets in support of educators and the post-COVID generation — all at no cost to school districts and communities.

“I look forward to enjoying all that Brooklyn, NYC and surrounding areas have to offer — this time in a civilian suit!” said Morris.



FORT HAMILTON — The U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton has a new commander, following last Friday’s biennial Military Change of Command Ceremony. Lieutenant Colonel Harold Morris relinquished command to Lieutenant Colonel John “Rocky” Rhodes in a 50-minute ceremony in a revered military community tradition that consists of inspection of the troops, with glorious colors, a cannon salute, and a water salute by New York’s Bravest — the FDNY. The incoming commander, Lieutenant Colonel John “Rocky” Rhodes, will lead the New York City Recruiting Battalion, which over 300 Army soldiers and civilians support its efforts through more than 34 Career Centers. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Rhodes has served in Korea and Afghanistan and was also a professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“I come from an immigrant family of military service and my wife, Kelley is native New Yorker — so I am familiar with how to get around town via subway and I am looking forward in getting out to meet people where they live — in the greatest city in world — I am thrilled to be given an opportunity to serve New Yorkers and lead the honorable Soldiers and DoD civilians of the Empire Battalion!”



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.”



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.



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.



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 or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

Missing man Carmine Trotto. All tips given to police are strictly confidential.



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.”



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.



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.” 



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.



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).



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.



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.



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.

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