What’s News, Breaking: Friday, July 14, 2023
OOPS. ADAMS FORGETS TO LIST CRYPTOCURRENCY HOLDINGS ON DISCLOSURE FORM
NEW YORK CITY — After neglecting to list his cryptocurrency investments on his financial disclosure form, Mayor Eric Adams will file an amended form, his spokesperson told the Daily News on Thursday. The newspaper asked the mayor why he didn’t list his crypto holdings on the mandatory form, despite previously claiming that he had invested his first three paychecks — worth roughly $30,000 before taxes — in Bitcoin and Ethereum. In November 2022, as the crypto market was crashing, he told reporters that he still held the crypto.
Adams’ spokesperson Fabien Levy told the News that the mayor will amend the disclosure to reflect how much those holdings were worth at the end of 2022, but did not immediately specify that value.
ARRAIGNMENT FOR RUSSIAN CITIZEN WHO ALLEGEDLY TRAFFICKED ELECTRONICS TO MILITARY, RUSSIAN GOV’T
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., is scheduled to preside at noontime on Friday, July 14, in Brooklyn federal court for the arraignment of a Russian citizen charged with conspiracy and money laundering. Vadim Konoshchenok is being charged in a global procurement and money laundering network on behalf of the Russian government. Konoshchenok, an alleged officer with Russia’s Federal Security Service, was extradited from Estonia to the United States on Thursday, July 13, after being detained there on a provisional arrest warrant issued from the Eastern District of New York. According to the indictment and court filings, Konoshchenok and other defendants were affiliated with Serniya Engineering and Sertal LLC (the “Serniya Network”) — Moscow-based companies operating under the direction of Russian intelligence services — to procure advanced electronics and sophisticated testing equipment for Russia’s military-industrial complex and research and development sector.
The U.S. Government worked with the Estonian government for several months to secure international evidence for the arrest and extradition of Konoshchenok.
COPS RELEASE PHOTO IN POSSIBLE HATE CRIME
CROWN HEIGHTS — Police are looking for a man suspected in a possible hate crime that took place last month in Crown Heights. On June 13 at 10 a.m., a 51-year-old woman was walking in front of 252 Empire Boulevard, the site of a kosher eatery, when a man walking by from the opposite direction allegedly tripped her, unprovoked. The woman sustained bruises and abrasions to her hands and knees, and was transported to Maimonides Medical Center, police said. The man — described as roughly 40 years old with a dark complexion and thin build — was last seen wearing eyeglasses, a Nike baseball cap, a blue t-shirt, black shorts and black sneakers. He was observed entering the Sterling Street/Nostrand Avenue subway station.
According to AMNY, the victim was wearing traditional Orthodox Jewish clothing.
CARROLL: URGE GOV. HOCHUL TO SIGN FLOOD DISCLOSURE BILL
ALBANY — Assemblymember Robert Carroll (Park Slope, Midwood) is asking constituents to call Gov. Kathy Hochul and urge her to sign his legislation regarding flood disclosure requirements for home sales. In New York state, sellers are required to inform a potential buyer whether the property is in a designated floodplain and whether it has previously flooded. However, the state currently allows sellers to opt out of this by paying $500 to the buyer — a small price to pay for such valuable information, as heavy rains increasingly cause billions of dollars in flood damage.
Carroll’s bill eliminates this loophole and requires the full disclosure of information concerning flood risk. “Encourage the Governor to sign the bill immediately by calling her at 518-474-8390,” Carroll said in a release.
DR. EVELYN WITKIN’S GENETICS RESEARCH
INCLUDED 16 YEARS AT SUNY DOWNSTATE
FLATBUSH — Evelyn M. Witkin, the geneticist who discovered the process by which DNA repairs itself, and worked on her research for a while at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, died on July 8 at the age of 102. Her research and discovery led to major advances in the treatment of cancer and genetic defects. Dr. Witkin was working at a Cold Spring Harbor laboratory during her time as a Columbia University graduate student when she discovered that some of the bacteria in an e Coli experiment had survived. It was after her time at Cold Spring Harbor that Dr. Witkins conducted research at SUNY Downstate, where she worked from 1955-1971 before moving to Rutgers. Dr. Witkin and another geneticist, Stephen J. Elledge, won the Albert Lasker Award in 2015 for Basic Medical Research, which is the highest honor in the medical sciences after the Nobel Prize.
Dr. Witkins’ son, Joseph, is both an emergency physician and founding member of the doo-wop singing group Sha Na Na, which evolved from the Columbia Kingsmen ensemble. A website dedicated to him identifies him as a proud Brooklynite.
REP. MALLIOTAKIS PRAISES FORMER COLLEAGUE FOR WORK
ON ORIGINAL ZADROGA 9/11 SURVIVOR ACT
NATIONWIDE — Former Brooklyn Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) made a joint, bipartisan visit to the World Trade Center Health Program Clinic on Richmond Road to push for the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act of 2023; this bipartisan legislation addresses the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program’s impending funding shortfall. Malliotakis is an original cosponsor of the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act of 2023, which would help keep the clinic open. She credits Maloney for her work in getting the original James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 enacted. Maloney had served northern Brooklyn in Congress for 30 years, from 2013-2023, in two differently-drawn districts.
“Carolyn Maloney was the leader in getting Zadroga established in 2010 and I look forward to carrying this mantle to make sure our heroes continue to receive the care they deserve,” said Malliotakis.
STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS WILL GET MORE ACCURATE COUNT OF PAYMENTS QUALIFYING TOWARD FORGIVENESS
NATIONWIDE — The U.S. Department of Education will immediately begin notifying more than 804,000 borrowers that they have a total of $39 billion in Federal student loans that will be automatically discharged in the coming weeks, the White House announced on Friday, July 14. The forthcoming discharges are a result of fixes that the Biden-Harris Administration has implemented to ensure all borrowers have an accurate count of the number of monthly payments that qualify for forgiveness under income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. These fixes are part of the department’s commitment to addressing historical failures in the administration of the Federal student loan program. Borrowers are eligible for forgiveness if they have accumulated the equivalent of either 20 or 25 years of qualifying months.
In total, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved more than $116.6 billion in student loan forgiveness for more than 3.4 million borrowers. This is a different component of loan forgiveness from the recent Supreme Court decision that declared the Biden plan unconstitutional and involves much older loans.
BUSHWICK GROUPS URGE REPAIRS AND LANDMARK DESIGNATIONS
BUSHWICK — Declaring that “Bushwick has a right to its history,” Dina Alfano — founding member of the Bushwick Historic Preservation Association — the Historic District Council, elected officials and other preservation advocates are urging the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect the neighborhood’s buildings. They will hold a rally and press conference on Wednesday, July 19, at the Lipsius-Cook Mansion, 670 Bushwick Avenue, which is in severe disrepair. The coalition will express its deep concern about rapidly deteriorating conditions at the Lipsius-Cook Mansion, which was landmarked in 2013 but not restored. Since that time, the building has suffered what the group calls demolition by neglect that has led to cracks in the facade, buckled bricks, deteriorating details, and a porch so precarious it collapsed in 2016. The property has multiple open violations dating back to February 2022, for which the owners are in default.
The coalition points out also that Bushwick has made many concerted attempts to preserve its history over the last 40 years. The first districts in Bushwick listed on the National Register of Historic Places were recognized in 1983. Still, LPC did not designate the first historic district in Bushwick until 2023, and much of the neighborhood lacks any sort of formal designation.
RALPH J. PERFETTO, SR.
COMMUNITY ACTIVIST AND FILMMAKER
BAY RIDGE — Brooklyn, and the Bay Ridge community in particular, is mourning Ralph J. Perfetto, Sr., longtime State Assembly District Leader and Committee Member for the 64th Assembly District, who died on Wednesday, July 12. The Brooklyn Democratic Party, which released a statement on Thursday, did not give Perfetto’s age or cause of death. An impassioned community activist for more than half a century, he was a widely-respected and empathetic liaison for the Brooklyn Democratic Party for 18 years. He also served as a former ombudsman in the Public Advocate’s Office and as Director of Cemeteries in the State of New York under Governor Mario Cuomo.
Mr. Perfetto discovered an enjoyable and rewarding career as an actor, and had roles in dozens of movies and critically-acclaimed TV series episodes. He had recently written a script and acted in a series titled “Sister Kathleen and the Don,” which finished filming earlier this summer in venues around Brooklyn, including at St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church. According to a June 13 Eagle article by Helen Klein, the series is free of violence or profanity, because Perfetto needed approval from the Brooklyn Diocese to film in a church.
LARK BY THE PARK OPENS JULY 28 AT PARADE GROUND
PROSPECT PARK — The Prospect Park Parade Ground Snack Bar will be getting a new eatery when Flatbush favorite Lark Cafe opens a seasonal spot at the Parade Ground starting July 28. Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains Brooklyn’s Backyard, has announced that Lark by the Park, an offshoot of the Church Avenue café, will be open throughout the summer and fall months, offering a menu of mouthwatering options from pizza, hot dogs and smash burgers to breakfast sandwiches, smoothies, and milkshakes.
The Prospect Park Alliance has also brought in other popular eateries to enhance parkgoers’ outdoor experience, including the popular Smorgasburg on Breeze Hill, Winner in the Park at the Picnic House, and King David Tacos at Grand Army Plaza.
‘BLUE PARK’ SKATEPARK TO OPEN AT MARTINEZ PLAYGROUND
EAST WILLIAMSBURG — The ‘Blue Park’ skatepark will be unveiled this weekend on July 16 in East Williamburg’s Martinez Playground. The site is infamous among Brooklyn skaters for its color scheme and smooth surface, and thanks to local advocates supported by Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher, Councilmember Jennifer Gutiérrez, Tony Hawk’s The Skatepark Project, and Vans Skateboarding, the 7,000 square-foot skate space has been officially restored. The renovated skatepark includes a set of safe concrete obstacles which honor the original obstacles created by the local community.
“The refurbishment of Blue Park is an incredible feat of local advocacy, and we’re proud to help bring this dream to fruition,” said Benjamin Anderson Bashein, Executive Director of the Skatepark Project. “Skateboarding is a great way to form close, community-building bonds, made possible through outdoor recreation. We’re glad to partner with Vans in honoring the community’s passion for skateboarding by providing contemporary, artistic skate obstacles that are permanent and safe.”
SENTENCED TO 9 YEARS FOR ARMED ROBBERY AT QUEENS AQUEDUCT
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday, July 13, sentenced a man to 108 months (nine years) in prison for his part in an armed robbery three years ago at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Lamel Miller, 41, who plead guilty to the March 7, 2020, armed robbery and theft of $280,000, was also convicted in Brooklyn federal court last October of brandishing a firearm in connection with the robbery.
Miller’s co-defendant, Lafayette Morrison, also 41, who was a racetrack security guard acting as an “inside man” during the robbery, was sentenced to 90 months imprisonment.
CITY COUNCIL VOTES 42-8 TO OVERRIDE MAYOR ADAMS’ HOUSING LEGISLATION VETO
CITY HALL — For the first time since the Bloomberg administration, the City Council voted 42-8 on Thursday, July 13, to override Mayor Eric Adams’ veto of a package of bills designed to expand access to a rental housing voucher program, reports City & State and other news outlets. In doing so, the City Council re-adopted the legislation, saying that it is vital to help solve the city’s housing crisis for vulnerable New Yorkers, and to give them access to permanent housing and to retain it through CityFHEPS vouchers. The vote to override also indicates the City Council’s growing criticism on how Mayor Adams is handling the budget and asylee influx crisis. However, among the eight Council members voting against the override was conservative Democrat Kalman Yeger, who represents District 44, encompassing Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Gravesend, Kensington, and Midwood.
City & State noted that Mayor de Blasio did not issue any vetoes during his administration.
RETIREES’ GROUP SET TO RALLY AT CITY HALL TO PASS MEDIGAP PROTECTION BILL
CITYWIDE — Following last week’s preliminary injunction by a State Supreme Court justice that blocks the city from ending traditional public Medicare coverage for its municipal retirees, a group has scheduled a lunchtime rally at City Hall on Thursday, July 13, to celebrate this victory and to push for passage of City Council bill Intro 1099. Pointing out that the preliminary injunction is only a temporary victory, Marianne Pizzitola, president of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, stated on Thursday morning, said that the injunction bars the city from forcing a quarter-million elderly and disabled retirees off of their longstanding Medicare insurance and onto an inferior type of insurance called “Medicare Advantage.” The bill, of which Councilmember Charles Barron (D-42/East New York), is key sponsor, would require the City to offer a Medigap plan — the same kind of policy they have had for almost 60 years.
Pizzitola added, “The Unions are sending emails to the Council telling them not to sign Intro 1099, after threatening them with pulling back endorsements and donations if they do.”
HEARING ON CITYWIDE BAN OF FOIE GRAS TODAY
CITYWIDE — The New York State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in an Article 78 proceeding regarding the sale of foie gras in the city, as an arbitrary directive striking down the city ban was initiated in December 2022. The Voters’ For Animal Rights’ activist group put out a statement on Thursday taking aim at the governor and the attorney general for allegedly putting aside local governments’ authority to regulate commerce, saying, “Recently, the United States Supreme Court sided twice with local governments whose animal protection laws were challenged as violating state and federal commerce laws. Yet, Governor Hochul and State Attorney General James continue to defend their unsupported and capricious position rather than allow New York City to enact and enforce its humane law.”
The original ban on Foie Gras was created in 2019. A French immigrant to New York City told the New York Times in February of this year, “Why don’t they eat it? Benjamin Franklin was very familiar with French cuisine. Marquis de Lafayette came from France.” Foie Gras is a traditional French delicacy.
SCREEN ACTORS JOIN WRITERS IN INDUSTRY-WIDE STRIKE
HOLLYWOOD — A synergistic set of labor strikes has essentially shut down the Hollywood television and movie industry, with the actors’ union — the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA) — approving a strike on Thursday afternoon, July 5. The SAG-AFTRA vote took place hours after contract talks with a group of studios broke down. Approximately 160,000 television and movie actors will be joining screenwriters already on the picket lines. This work stoppage marks the first time since 1960 that the two major Hollywood entertainment unions have been on strike together — the actors’ guild president at the time was Ronald Reagan.
The strike will affect member organizations of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, who represent Disney, Netflix, and Amazon, among others.
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