What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, July 5, 2023
COUNCIL TO PROBE CITY SMOKE RESPONSE
CIVIC CENTER — The City Council is set to hold a hearing investigating the mayor’s response to the wildfire smoke hazards last month, reports the New York Post, in response to criticisms that emergency measures were rolled out late and haphazardly, in particular that warnings about air quality were issued shortly before midnight on the first day of worsening conditions, well after risks were apparent. The mayor has defended his administration’s actions, reports Gothamist, claiming that the situation was fast-moving and unprecedented.
The Council meeting is set for next Wednesday, July 15, at 10 a.m. in City Hall.
TWO STRUCK BY LIGHTNING AT CONEY ISLAND FIREWORKS
CONEY ISLAND — Two people were injured by a lightning strike during a July 4th thunderstorm on the Coney Island shore, reports PIX News, and were transported to the hospital. NBC reports that FDNY officials said the bolt hit near the victims, and that their injuries may not have been major.
The heavy storms delayed the famous Nathan’s hot dog contest by several hours; no other injuries were reported at the event.
REYNOSO TO HOST MATERNAL HEALTH EXPO
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Borough President Antonio Reynoso is hosting a Maternal Health Expo at Borough Hall next weekend, with activities aimed at supporting pregnancy journeys, including workshops on topics like paid maternity leave and health insurance, prenatal nutrition, safe sleep and breastfeeding. The event will also feature exercise sessions, as well as community resource offerings from local organizations.
The expo will take place on Saturday, July 15, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at Borough Hall; online RSVPs are recommended but not required.
CONEY ISLAND TO HOST EARTHY ART FEST
CONEY ISLAND — The Coney Island Brewery and Beautify Brooklyn are hosting the Earthy Girthy eco-themed art festival this weekend at the brewery’s Coney Island beer garden, featuring musical performances, displays and workshops from local artists in a dizzying variety of art forms, and green craft activities for young and old. Highlights include wild foods foraging workshops, a build-your-own-terrarium session, trash-to-treasure jewelry-making and a free Earth-themed comic book to take home.
The festival will take place at the Coney Island Brewery’s beer garden on Sunday, July 9, from noon to 6 p.m.; entrance is free and open to all ages, but RSVPs can be found on EventBrite, along with a full lineup of musical acts, artists and presenters.
SECOND AIRPORT ARREST IN ONE WEEK
OF TRAVELERS WITH LOADED GUNS
JFK AIRPORT — Police arrested a Florida man at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) yesterday after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers detected a loaded handgun in the man’s carry-on bag as he entered a security checkpoint. TSA immediately notified Port Authority Police, who confiscated the firearm, containing 10 bullets, and arrested the man on weapons charges. The man, in addition to his arrest, also faces a stiff federal financial penalty. Federal penalties can reach as high as $15,000 for bringing a weapon to an airport checkpoint, depending on the circumstances.
This was the second gun that TSA officers have caught within a week. On June 29 they stopped a man who worked at the airport with a gun in his backpack, arresting him and confiscating that weapon as well. During just the first five days in July, TSA officers had already detected seven firearms at the airport’s checkpoints so far this year, tying the number caught in 2022.
CHESTNUT DOES IT AGAIN, SATO BESTS RIVALS
CONEY ISLAND — Legendary 16-time champion Joey Chestnut once again crushed the competition at the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest on Tuesday, reports ABC News, shoveling down an astonishing 62 hotdogs in just 10 minutes — far off his personal record of 76 hot dogs set in 2021, also a world best — but still miles ahead of the second-place finisher, who consumed only 49. In the women’s competition, defending champ Miki Sudo won the gold for the ninth time, finishing 39.5, eating so quickly that judges needed to count to figure out her exact number.
The event was initially delayed by heavy rainfall, but after a two-hour wait the show went on as planned.
UNKNOWN MAN VANDALIZES TWO SYNAGOGUES
BRIGHTON BEACH — Police are searching for an unidentified man believed to be responsible for graffiti attacks on two West End Avenue synagogues in Brighton Beach shortly after midnight on Sunday, May 14. There were no reported injuries as a result of these incidents, but they are being investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force.
Anyone with information regarding this matter is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.
INMATE DIES AT RIKERS, 23RD INMATE DEATH THIS YEAR
RIKERS ISLAND — Rikers inmate Felix Taveras passed away aged 40 at Elmhurst Hospital shortly after midnight on Wednesday, reports CBS, after reporting chest pains to prison staff, then experiencing a seizure and being treated with the anti-overdose drug Narcan at the island’s medical clinic. This marks the 23rd death of a detainee in the city’s prison system so far this year, and at least the fourth at Rikers, including a death in May under suspicious circumstances, and advocates expressed outrage: the HALTSolitary Campaign said in a press statement, “Thirty-nine people have died in the last two and a half years because of New York officials’ policy choices,” meanwhile, the Department of Corrections stated that it had discovered procedural violations in this incident and would be issuing suspensions to employees, but did not elaborate further.
City officials have been unable to get Rikers under control as the plan to shut down the island prison complex has been delayed by pandemic slowdowns, including work intended to enlarge the Atlantic Avenue House of Detention projected to finish in 2029; a judge rebuked the city in a hearing last month over the troubled island, and threatened to place the facility under federal management.
DE BLASIO AND WIFE ARE SEPARATING… AND STAYING PUT
PARK SLOPE — Former Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife Charlayne McCray have decided to separate and date other people, but they will stay married and continue sharing their Park Slope home, reported a number of news outlets on Wednesday, July 5, including the New York Times. McCray, 68, and de Blasio, 62, met while working for then-Mayor David Dinkins, and have been husband and wife since 1994. They decided not to divorce, which would have forced a breakup of their financial and real estate assets as well.
The couple told the New York Times in an interview that the demanding schedule of being mayor factored in straining the marriage. “And that kind of took away a little bit of our soul,” said de Blasio.
COAL OVEN BAN COULD IMPACT MATZOH BAKERIES
WILLIAMSBURG — A controversial new rule proposing to crack down on pizza places that use coal-fired ovens could also impact many of the city’s traditional matzoh bakeries, reports the New York Post, who was told by matzoh bakery owners that complying with the city’s standards was prohibitively expensive and that they were worried it might become impossible. Coal-fired ovens cause frequent complaints by neighbors – one bakery has been cited by the city for leaving piles of coal on the sidewalk and emitting lots of smoke – but are much-beloved by customers and restaurant owners, who say that the heat and smoke make for crispier and tastier crusts.
A battle over a prized and rare coal-fired oven, difficult to come by due to previous city environmental restrictions, was at the heart of the “Pizza Wars” between longtime DUMBO pizzaiolo Patsy Grimaldi and the Grimaldi’s restaurant, to whom he sold his name.
POLICE SEEK MISSING WOMAN IN BROWNSVILLE
BROWNSVILLE — Police are searching for missing woman Coline Minto, age 65, who was last seen at her East 96th Street residence on the afternoon of Saturday, July 1. Minto is described as 5’1′ tall and 120 pounds, with black eyes, gray hair and a thin build; she was last seen wearing a brown dress, red sneakers and glasses.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of this missing person is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.
THREE CHILDREN AND PREGNANT MOM SERIOUSLY HURT IN MIDWOOD FIRE
MIDWOOD — Three young boys and their mother were injured in a Sunday morning fire at a sixth-floor unit in a Midwood apartment building, reports ABC News, who said that firefighters had to carry the children down the stairs, while the unconscious woman, who was pregnant, was taken out a window and down the fire escape to safety; all four are now in the hospital in critical condition and are being treated for smoke inhalation. The search for victims was reportedly difficult, due to crowding in the apartment; neighbors said they heard a loud bang before smoke began to pour from the apartment; the unit directly below was also damaged, although its owner was not home at the time.
“We were all afraid, we were wondering if they were going to make it out alive. They were covering them, they looked like they were unconscious,” neighbor Batya Chlai told ABC.
PARENTS SUE ST ANN’S AFTER EXPULSION LEADS TO SON’S SUICIDE
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The grieving parents of a 13-year-old boy who committed suicide in 2021 after being dismissed from exclusive Saint Ann’s are now suing the school and its principal and trustees, reports the New York Times, claiming negligence over the sudden and arbitrary nature of the dismissal: Saint Ann’s does not use grades and has not cited any specific policies used to determine which students to “counsel out,” while reports from teachers had been positive in his final months. Plaintiffs Roger Gural and Janine Lariviere say they want the school to make its expulsion procedures more clear and in line with its progressive and accepting mission statement; Lariviere told the Times that she had chosen Saint Ann’s over other prep schools because she believed that its stated commitment to the arts and holistic development would be a better fit for their son, who struggled with ADHD and dyslexia, but now thinks those special needs may have led to him being targeted: his suicide note had begged his parents not to allow the school to talk about him to other students.
Gural and Lariviere say they want to warn other parents and protect other students; grandfather Jeffrey Gural, chairman of developer GFP Real Estate, said that attempts to get answers from school officials had been unsuccessful: “I can’t bring Ellis back, but I just want to do whatever I can to make sure that no family has to go through this again… I got one response saying, ‘Don’t email the board anymore,’ from their lawyer. Oh, really? My grandson’s dead. Are you threatening me? What are you going to do to me? What else can Saint Ann’s do to me?”. Saint Ann’s told the Times they could not comment, citing the lawsuit.
TOP 5 LOTTO TICKET SOLD AT SUNSET PARK INTERNET CAFE
SUNSET PARK — The New York Lottery on Sunday announced that a top-prize winning ticket was sold for the July 1 Take 5 evening drawing at the H&H Newline Internet Cafe on 5th Avenue in Sunset Park, scoring the lucky buyer more than $38,000 in winnings. That winner will now have up to one year from the date of the drawing to claim their prize — check your tickets, Brooklyn.
New Yorkers struggling with a gambling problem, or who know someone who is, can find help at NYProblemGamblingHelp.org, by calling the free, confidential HOPEline at 1-877-846-7369 or texting HOPENY (467369). Standard text rates may apply.
BELOVED ‘TONIGHT SHOW’ METEOROLOGIST PASSES, AGE 100
CITYWIDE — Former TV meteorologist Frank Field, whose 75-year career included stints at the NBC, CBS and My9 networks in the NYC area, as well as a recurring role on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show,” passed away at his home in Florida on Saturday aged 100, reports NBC News. Field served as an Army Air Force meteorology officer in World War II before joining the forecast team at NBC in 1958, where he stayed for 25 years, during which time Carson frequently invited him on his show to match wits in a recurring crowd-favorite comedy bit. He was also passionate about science and health reporting (having earned degrees in meteorology from MIT and Brown, in geology from Brooklyn College and in optometry from Columbia, as well as a doctorate from Albert Einstein College of Medicine) and covered groundbreaking medical stories for NBC, including early coverage of the Heimlich maneuver and a live broadcast of a kidney transplant.
Field is survived by three children — two of whom are also reporters — seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
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