What’s News, Breaking: Monday, July 10, 2023
NEW LIDL SUPERMARKET COMING TO CROWN HEIGHTS
CROWN HEIGHTS — A branch of the supermarket chain Lidl will be coming to Crown Heights after commercial mortgage broker Eastern Union announced on Monday that it had secured a $62 million loan to construct the new mixed-use building that will house Lidl’s 33,000 square-foot space. The complex will also include 57 apartment units and areas for other retail tenants, as well as a large community space.
Lidl first inked the deal for the Bedford Avenue space in July of last year, representing the biggest retail leasing of 2022, according to the Real Deal; the second-place spot was also taken by Lidl for a Park Slope store, as the European chain seeks to break into the U.S. market.
SHOOTING VICTIM REMEMBERED AT FUNERAL: ‘PILLAR OF THE CITY’
SUNSET PARK — Mourners gathered on Monday at the Beit El-Maqdis Islamic Center mosque in Sunset Park for the funeral of Hamod Saeidi, 87, the victim of a shooting rampage by a scooter-riding gunman over the weekend, reports the Daily News. Hundreds of relatives, friends, community members and politicians, including Mayor Adams, observed the solemn proceedings and spoke about both his life and legacy, and the violence that shocked the city and wounded three others.
“He killed the whole family. He killed us. My father was a peaceful man. He was a good man. I ask everybody to pray for everyone who got wounded. If my father was alive, he would most likely forgive him. I cannot forgive,” stated son Main Saeidi at the funeral, condemning the shooter, who was captured shortly after the incident; Saeidi is survived by six children, 30 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and his wife.
BROOKLYN CONSERVATORY SELECTS TWO FOR WOMEN’S JAZZ FELLOWSHIP
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music on Monday announced the two recipients of its 2023 Jazz Leaders Fellowship, which highlights the achievements and advances the careers of Black women and nonbinary jazz performers, as Melanie Charles and Olithea Anglin, who performs as Miss Olithea. Charles is a Brooklyn-born eclectic innovator who frequently collaborates with genre-bending artists, like SZA, the Roots and the Gorillaz; while Anglin is a native New Yorker and vocal coach who by the age of 18 had performed in every major NYC concert hall, and now focuses on meditative, experimental music.
Both recipients will also receive opportunities to teach at the Conservatory as well as a $12,500 award and will be honored later this month at the kickoff reception for BKCM’s Midsummer Nights music festival.
HOCHUL URGED TO BAN ‘DEEPFAKED’ AI PORNOGRAPHY
STATEWIDE — Lawmakers are urging Governor Hochul to sign a proposed ban on the use of AI technology to alter pornographic images or videos to appear to be other, nonconsenting people, such as celebrities and victims of sexual violence, reports Spectrum. The ability to quickly and seamlessly alter porn and other media by superimposing the faces of unrelated people over the bodies of those in the images, known as “deepfaking,” has exploded in recent years, as access to the AI tools needed becomes more widely available; the proposed ban would level a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail, as well as granting victims the right to pursue legal action against the fakers.
Experts have expressed concern over the possibility of AI’s usage in other situations as well: for example, videos could be altered to smear political rivals, as U.S. Rep. Clarke pointed out when introducing her DEEPFAKES Accountability Act in 2019, prior to the presidential election.
FLATBUSH GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS FOR MURDER
CROWN HEIGHTS — Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez on Monday announced that Gymanni Carrington, 22, of Crown Heights, a member of the Martense Beverly Bosses gang based in East Flatbush, has been sentenced to 15 years to life for the murder of alleged gang rival Donavan Frazier, 20. According to the DA, Carrington shot Frazier in the chest with a handgun in the early hours of Sept. 16, 2017, as Frazier was leaving a deli in Crown Heights; Carrington was captured on surveillance video firing into the deli, claimed credit for the murder in calls recorded by the NYC Department of Corrections and on social media posts, and made admissions in emails to his mother just after the shooting, according to evidence presented by the prosecution.
Carrington and 17 others were named in a 2018 indictment in which they were charged in connection with eight separate shootings, including two fatalities; the co-defendants have since pleaded guilty to various charges, including conspiracy, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon.
ATTORNEY GENERAL WARNS AGAINST
POST-STORM PRICE GOUGING
STATEWIDE — After severe storms and flooding hit the Hudson Valley and upstate New York on July 9-10, state Attorney General Letitia James on Monday issued a consumer alert warning against price gouging of essential goods. A state of emergency has been declared in counties where the heavy storms caused significant flooding, damage and power outages, including the Capital Region and Western New York. New York’s price gouging statute prevents businesses from taking advantage of consumers by selling essential goods or services at an excessively higher price during market disruptions or emergencies.
Attorney General James urges New Yorkers who see higher prices on essential goods like water, batteries, or generators to report the issue to her office online or by phone at 800-771-7755.
FIRST GIGLIO LIFT OF FAMOUS WILLIAMSBURG FEAST
WILLIAMSBURG — A 136-year-old tradition continued on Sunday, July 9, in Williamsburg, with the world-famous Dancing of the Giglio and Boat Parade, a highlight of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast. The Nolani immigrants from Italy began the tradition in 1887, consisting of the Giglio (the Italian word for “lily,” flowers handed to a saint returning from captivity), a seven-story tower structure decorated with Gigli (lilies) and the image of St. Paulinus. A platform at the base of the tower supports a twelve-piece brass band and singer. A corps of 112 dancing and marching men, the lifters, hoisted the entire assemblage — tower, band and pastor — through the streets of Williamsburg.
A separate boat, complete with fitted mast, sail, and rigging, represents the ship that returned St. Paulinus from captivity. Like the Giglio, it has a band and singer and is also carried and danced through the streets.
VISION SESSION FOR SHIRLEY CHISHOLM MONUMENT
PROSPECT PARK — Assemblymember Brian Cunningham and Councilmember Rita Joseph are hosting a discussion session for the community to contribute their opinions on the future monument to trailblazing U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, who represented Bed-Stuy from 1969 to 1983 and passed away in 2005. The design for the monument was unveiled in 2019, and features a 40-foot image of Chisholm’s face blended with an image of the U.S. Capitol in an interactive steel structure placed at the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park; it was originally planned to be completed by 2020 but construction and planning were delayed due to the pandemic.
The meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 11, at Cunningham’s office at 249 Empire Boulevard, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; the monument’s designers are the invited speakers for the night.
CITY SUES TO STOP ILLEGAL FLAVORED E-CIG SALES
CITYWIDE — The City of New York is filing a federal lawsuit against four major distributors of flavored disposable e-cigarettes, Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix announced on Monday, July 10. These exotically-flavored e-cigarettes, which are popular vaping devices among middle-school children and high schoolers, come from four defendant companies, including Star Vape, based in Brooklyn, another based in Queens, and the other two headquartered in Buffalo. The defendants are alleged to have distributed, and continue to distribute, exotically flavored disposable e-cigarettes to retail vape and smoke shops, convenience stores, and directly to consumers in New York City through online sales, in violation of nearly every applicable federal, New York state, and city law governing the sale of such products.
The July 5 lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks to block the four defendants from further sales of these illegal items and seeks both monetary damages and fines.
MONDAIRE JONES RETURNS TO WESTCHESTER FOR NEW HOUSE RUN
WESTCHESTER — Former U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones has decamped from Carroll Gardens back upstate in a bid to retake the House seat he lost last year in a redistricting scuffle, reports Gothamist. Jones was elected as a freshman representative in 2020 in his hometown District 10, which includes Rockland, Putnam and part of Westchester counties, but after redistricting forced him to butt heads with senior Dem leader Patrick Maloney, he threw his hat into the primary ring with now-Rep. Dan Goldman (who Jones described in an Eagle interview as “a conservative Democrat [buying] his way into Congress”) and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou over the incumbentless brownstone Brooklyn/lower Manhattan’s District 17, to which Jones had few ties, ultimately coming in third in the primary, according to the Daily News.
Maloney ultimately lost the race in District 10 to Republican Rep. Mike Lawler, who Jones hopes to unseat in the 2024 election from his new base in Sleepy Hollow.
LIBRARIES’ CULTURE PASS CELEBRATES 5TH BIRTHDAY
CITYWIDE — Three public library systems are celebrating the first five years of the Culture Pass program that grants access to more than 80 museums, gardens, historic sites and performance venues around the city. The Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library and Queens Public Library all participate in Culture Pass, which began in July 2018 with just 30 partners, is an extension of the core mission of the city’s public libraries to provide free access to a wide variety of resources for learning for all New Yorkers, including the city’s world class art and performance venues. Overall, more than 80 cultural organizations generously participate in the program, and about 60% of the reservations have been made by New Yorkers living in low or mixed-income neighborhoods across all five boroughs.
Even after a pause for pandemic-related closures, demand for passes has bounced back and remains strong — in April 2023, 7,200 New Yorkers reserved a pass, the most in a single month since the program launched.
DISASTER SIMULATION TRAINING SCHEDULED
FOR WEDNESDAY ON CADMAN PLAZA EAST
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — People in the vicinity of Cadman Plaza East on Wednesday evening, July 12, should be alerted that a disaster simulation drill will be conducted as part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training class. The drill, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. near Cadman Plaza East and Red Cross Place, will also engage FDNY and NYPD personnel in action. Readers can go online to learn more about the CERT program or to become volunteers.
Graduates are dedicated volunteers who undergo a training program that provides basic response skills needed for fire safety, light search and rescue, community disaster support, disaster medical operations, and traffic control. A commitment of one year is required.
NYC’S PUBLIC HOSPITAL SYSTEM OFFERS
CLINICAL LEADERSHIP FELLOWSHIPS
CITYWIDE — The application period has opened for NYC Health + Hospitals’ Clinical Leadership Fellowship, a yearlong opportunity for post-residency graduates interested in administrative roles within the nation’s largest public hospital system. Now in its fifth year, the Fellowship assigns selected participants to team within NYC Health + Hospitals’ offices of quality, population health, ambulatory care, managed care and patient growth, or medical and professional affairs to acquire practical work experience. As part of their participation, Fellows will be required to design and lead a quality improvement or population health project at their sponsoring facility.
The Fellows will also provide clinical care to some of the city’s most vulnerable patients. The application deadline for next year’s fellowship is September 29, and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
SCOOTER SHOOTER LINKED TO SIXTH INCIDENT
JAMAICA — Police on Sunday announced that the alleged gunman who shot four people, killing one, from the back of a scooter on Saturday in a spree of drive-by incidents in Brooklyn and Queens has been linked to a sixth shooting, one that fortunately did not cause injury to the target. Thomas Abreu, 25, of Cypress Hills, was quickly caught and arrested in connection with these crimes and charged with murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon, after shooting two men in the shoulder, one in the face, and fatally shooting Hamod Saeidi, 86, of Queens, in his back; it is unknown what could have motivated the violent spree, which appears to have been random.
Abreu has thus far only been charged in connection with three of the six shootings, but the police investigation is ongoing; a firearm was recovered from Abreu at the time of his arrest.
FORCIBLE GROPING ON SUBWAY
KENSINGTON — Police are searching for a man who on the afternoon of Saturday, July 8, approached a 25-year-old woman on the northbound F train platform at the Church Avenue subway station and grabbed her rear end, before fleeing out of the station. The suspect is described as 5’4” and approximately 150 pounds, with short black hair, he was last seen wearing a blue t-shirt, blue jeans and blue 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.
CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS TO THANK FDNY FOR PROTEST ACTIONS
MANHATTAN — New York AG Letitia James, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and FDNY Lt. James McCarthy of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association will join five civil rights leaders from Alabama on Monday to thank the FDNY for condemning the city of Birmingham for using its fire department to attack children during a historic march. The march, known as the “Children’s Crusade,” caught national media attention when on May 2, 1963, Birmingham fire officials ordered high-pressure fire hoses and police dogs be turned on nearly 1,000 grade school students — including the five leaders — participating in a nonviolent protest, the water hitting with enough force to tear off clothing; the FDNY’s union voted to make a proclamation speaking out against using fire resources to suppress protests, according to the New York Post.
The press conference will occur on Monday, July 10, at 2 p.m. at FDNY Engine Co. 1, Ladder 24 in Manhattan.
DOE COMMUNICATIONS CHIEF OUT AFTER TEN MONTHS
CITYWIDE — A top Department of Education official, communications chief Michael Vaughn, has been asked to leave after less than a year on the job, reports the New York Post, with sources citing several public relations slip-ups as the motivating factor. The DOE was heavily criticized for not consulting parents in its decision to temporarily house asylum seekers in school gymnasiums earlier this summer — a decision walked back quickly after days of parent protests — as well as incidents where parents were informed of a critical data breach days after the media, and where school schedules were released prior to the conclusion of teachers’ union negotiations.
Vaughn denied the allegation that he was asked to leave and told the Post that he resigned from the job.
BROOKLYN TOWER TO OFFER PICKLEBALL ON 66TH FLOOR
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Brooklyn’s first supertall skyscraper, Brooklyn Tower, is set to offer a unique amenity to its well-heeled future residents: sports courts in the clouds, including spaces for pickleball, basketball and padel tennis, reports InsideHook. The gym space will be located on the building’s 66th floor, a triple-height space that also serves as an open-air passthrough for stability purposes – players may have to learn to adjust their serves to accommodate winds 600 feet off the ground, but the views should be worth it.
The building will also reportedly feature a playground in the sky for little ones; the tower is ultimately planned to top out at 93 stories, by far the tallest in the borough.
BBP GALLERY LAUNCHES NATURE-THEMED SHOW
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – Arts collective Chashama is hosting a launch party for its new project, “When Nature Speaks,” a nationwide arts exhibition exploring the concept of nature as a universal constant, this Thursday at its Brooklyn Bridge Park gallery space. The party will feature resident artists working with the project as part of educational nonprofit ProjectArt, which reaches out to kids and communities nationwide through afterschool art classes and library programming to help spark inspiration and aid in self-development.
The launch party will take place at Chashama’s One Brooklyn Bridge Park gallery on Thursday, July 13 at 6:30 p.m.; attendance is free, but RSVPs through EventBrite are required.
SUNY DOWNSTATE’S STAR PROGRAM RECEIVES GRANT FOR PARTNERSHIP WITH POLAND AND UKRAINE
EAST FLATBUSH — SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University’s Special Treatment and Research (STAR) Program received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) global health arm, the Fogarty International Center, to fund a Ukraine HIV Research Training Program amid Ukraine’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. SUNY Downstate representatives joined health leaders from Ukraine, Poland, and Georgia, to formally kick off the program in Warsaw. The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine — with its devastating humanitarian consequences — highlights an existing uphill battle against the spread of HIV, as the treatment centers and essential infrastructure have been damaged. For years, Ukraine has reported the second-highest HIV incidence rate in Europe, with approximately 13,000 Ukrainians infected with HIV each year.
The newly funded research training program is a joint effort of the Ukrainian Institute of Public Health Policy and the New York State International Training and Research Program, the latter of which has been working in Ukraine since 2010 to address gaps in the HIV care continuum and substance use treatment system in Ukraine.
ARRESTS MADE IN ALLEGED HATE CRIMES AT TWO CATHOLIC CHURCHES
GERRITSEN BEACH AND ASTORIA — Two men were arrested onsite Saturday afternoon in separate hate incidents at churches within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. In the first incident, a vandal desecrated the new shrine statue of St. Mary in the garden of Resurrection Church in Brooklyn’s Gerritsen Beach neighborhood. The white marble statue of Mary was spray painted with black all over her face, shoulders, and hands. Additionally, the word “fake” appears to be spray painted on the statue, as well as lines down and across the statue. The second perpetrator, who had already targeted St. Joseph’s Church in Astoria on June 7 returned on July 8, behaved erratically, disturbed a youth-choir rehearsal and frightened the children.
The Diocese of Brooklyn reported that, in both cases, parishioners and staff held the perpetrators until police arrived to take them into custody. Nobody in the Astoria church incident was injured, and there was no damage.
REYNOSO TO HOST DISABILITY PRIDE CELEBRATION
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Borough President Antonio Reynoso is set to host an opening ceremony for Disability Pride Month at Borough Hall this week, kicking off a month-long celebration of the contributions that disabled people make and of the history of the disability rights movement. The event will feature a performance in sign language by interpreter and activist Kimberley Sue, as well as speeches and workshops by disability rights activists and organizations offering instruction in practices of inclusivity.
The kickoff celebration is scheduled for Tuesday, July 11 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall; attendance is free and open to all, and captioning and interpretation services will be provided.
KIDNEY STONES RISE IN YOUTH NATIONWIDE
NATIONWIDE – Kidney stones, a painful urinary condition once thought to be a concern of primarily older adults, are on the rise in children and teens across the nation, reports NBC News, especially in teenage girls – and no one is quite sure why, although experts say the rise is likely due to a combination of factors, including increased consumption of sodium and ultraprocessed foods, increased early-life antibiotics usage and heat-induced dehydration, as cases are noted to increase during summer months. Doctors say the shift is concerning and needs more investigation, pointing to an increase of 52% in kidney stone diagnoses in teen girls ages 15 to 19 between 1997 and 2012, with lower but still notable increases across the board for other groups as well.
Kidney stones can generally be avoided by making sure you’re drinking enough water: urine should be light yellow or clear, while a dark yellow color indicates potential dehydration; reddish, cloudy, painful or foul-smelling urine indicates potential kidney stone presence.
APP-BASED FOOD DELIVERY COMPANIES CONTEST CITY’S NEW MINIMUM WAGE LAW
CITYWIDE — Uber Technologies Inc., DoorDash Inc., GrubHub and other app-based food delivery companies filed lawsuits aiming for a repeal of New York City’s new law that set a minimum wage for drivers, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, and several other news outlets. The companies, which filed separate complaints (with GrubHub joining DoorDash’s suit) in New York state court on Thursday, July 6, assert that the law was based on a misunderstanding of the food delivery industry. The gig companies claim that they will be compelled to pass on the cost of the higher wages to consumers and restaurants by raising prices and that the city’s calculations are based on an incorrect model.
The law, which takes effect next week, will require that drivers be paid $17.96 an hour, which will rise to nearly $20 in April 2025, with gig companies deciding whether to pay drivers hourly or per delivery.
CITY OFFICIALS DEFEND LAW PROTECTING DELIVERISTAS, CITING WEATHER AND OTHER HAZARDS
CITYWIDE — Two city officials have defended the new minimum wage law for delivery workers, in the wake of lawsuits filed on July 6 to repeal it. Vilda Vera Mayuga, the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, defended the wage standard in a prepared statement that she distributed. “Delivery workers, like all workers, deserve fair pay for their labor, and we are disappointed that Uber, DoorDash, Grubhub and Relay disagree,” she said. “These workers brave thunderstorms, extreme heat events and risk their lives to deliver for New Yorkers — and we remain committed to delivering for them.” Likewise, City Comptroller pointed out, “Gig companies have sued New York City repeatedly: to block accessibility requirements for people-with-disabilities, to reduce cruising time, and to prevent the minimum pay requirement for for-hire drivers that became law in 2019. But New York City’s for-hire driver minimum pay law benefits drivers without harming ridership, and the delivery-worker minimum pay law will work just as well.”
Delivery workers have complained that the app-based companies have not compensated them well, but those companies point out the advantage of flexible schedules and that they are technically freelancers.
CITY STRUGGLING TO HOUSE MIGRANTS AS SHELTER NUMBERS TOP 100K
CITYWIDE – The city reached a record of more than 100,000 people housed in homeless shelters and temporary housing last week, reports the New York Times, due in large part to the influx of refugee applicants from southern border states, who now make up the majority of residents in the shelter system. The struggles of one temporary shelter in Bushwick housing 500 single men is emblematic of the crisis: the facility, hosted in an unfinished commercial building, has struggled to meet basic safety standards for its residents, according to Documented NY, with residents not having access to reliable toilets, air conditioning or functional showers for days on end.
Of the more than 50,000 asylum seekers now in shelters, more than two-thirds are families with children – posing an additional challenge for the city, which is typically mandated to house families in separate accommodations but has recently been unable to do so; the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless struck at the city in a joint statement on the situation on Friday, writing, “Over the last two weeks families with children have been placed in a congregate setting at one of the hotels, a clear violation of law. The families are assigned to cots, separated from other families by moveable divider screens… it is imperative that the City, State, and Federal governments immediately do more,” citing safety concerns.
STATE SUPREME COURT JUDGE GRANTS PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AGAINST CITY’S MEDICARE PLAN SWITCH
CITYWIDE — A coalition of municipal retirees who have been fighting to keep their traditional public Medicare benefits won a victory late Friday from the State Supreme Court of New York County. Justice Lyle E. Frank on Friday, July 7, granted a preliminary injunction stopping the city from forcing a quarter-million elderly and disabled retirees off their longstanding Medicare insurance that the New York City Administrative Code section 12-126 stipulates must be paid in full for city employees (through another public health plan), city retirees and their dependents. Unlike Medicare — a public program that has protected city retirees for the past 57 years — the city’s new Aetna Medicare Advantage plan is a private, for-profit endeavor, and the plaintiffs fear that it would limit retirees’ access to their medical providers, prevent retirees from receiving care prescribed by their doctors unless Aetna deemed it “medically necessary,” and expose retirees to increased healthcare costs.
Judge Frank indicated in the Decision and Order on Motion that the retirees “have shown by clear and convincing evidence” that implementation of the new Aetna Medicare Advantage plan would likely violate their rights in numerous ways. Justice Frank also ruled that “should this plan go forward, irreparable harm would result” to countless retirees.
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