What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, July 20, 2023
VOICE OF GOWANUS DENOUNCES GOVERNOR’S REMARKS
ON NEED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP
GOWANUS — The Voice of Gowanus, an advocacy group for local residents, has expressed anger at New York Gov. Kathy Hochul for statements she made at a press conference on Tuesday, July 18 while visiting the neighborhood. According to a newsletter that VOG distributed on July 20, Hochul announced plans to “reconstitute a contrived version of the failed 421a tax exemption, a NY State developer-funding program that was supposed to bring affordable housing into NYC but did the opposite.” VOG pointed out in its newsletter that, although the state legislature pulled its support for the legislation, Hochul plans to implement it through executive order.
Voice of Gowanus is also protesting what they call the governor’s indifference toward the need for environmental cleanups, as expressed in a recent letter-writing campaign. The group quoted Hochul’s recorded remarks (on YouTube): “I’m asking the DEC and Department of State to just, can you streamline a little bit? Do we have to really be the toughest state for doing all this? It’s not necessary,” VOG countered that the environmental laws are meant to protect all New Yorkers.
THREE PUBLIC HOSPITALS IN BROOKLYN EARN
RECOGNITION FOR HEALTH AND PAY EQUITY
EAST FLATBUSH, CONEY ISLAND, BUSHWICK — Three Brooklyn facilities of the NYC Health + Hospitals system have earned distinctions from the Lown Institute, a nonpartisan health care think tank, As a public hospital system, NYC Health + Hospitals ranks #2 nationwide in health equity for its strong performance across metrics of community benefit, pay equity and inclusivity, according to the 2023-24 Lown Index for Social Responsibility, which examines more than 3,600 hospitals in the U.S. along criteria of 53 metrics. Kings County Medical Center in East Flatbush earned “A” Grades in Health Equity, Community Benefit, Inclusivity, Pay Equity, Value of Care, and Avoiding Overuse. South Brooklyn Health was recognized as #1 in New York for Pay Equity, and earned an “A” grade for Health Equity and Community Benefit. Woodhull Hospital near Broadway Triangle earned an “A” grade for Health Equity, Community Benefit, Inclusivity and Pay Equity.
The founder of the Lown Institute (established 1973) was Lithuanian-born Nobel Peace Prize winner Bernard Lown, MD, who developed the defibrillator and cardioverter. He died in 2021, just four months before his 100th birthday.
‘GOLDIE’S ACT’ WOULD PROTECT DOGS IN PUPPY MILLS
CAPITOL HILL AND BAY RIDGE — Pushing for her bipartisan legislation, “Goldie’s Act,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwestern Brooklyn-Staten Island), an animal lover, joined the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA), a bipartisan group of colleagues and award-winning actor Bellamy Young, on Thursday, July 20 at a “Howl to the Hill” rally. Specifically, Goldie’s Act would ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does its job to protect dogs in federally licensed puppy mills, and would require the USDA to conduct more frequent and meaningful inspections, provide lifesaving intervention for suffering animals, issue penalties for violations, and communicate with local law enforcement to address cruelty and neglect.
The event, held with animal rights advocates, “aims to raise awareness about Goldie, a beautiful Golden Retriever who endured months of agony and pain under the USDA’s watch and suffered a preventable death in an Iowa puppy mill,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA government relations. She called out what she and others assert is the USDA’s callous and ongoing “failure to enforce the law” to prevent cruelty.
ADAMS: NYC SHELTERS TO GIVE ADULT ASYLUM SEEKERS THE BOOT AFTER 60 DAYS
CITYWIDE — Claiming that the city can no longer handle incoming asylum seekers, adult immigrants in shelters will get 60 days’ notice to find alternative housing, Mayor Eric Adams said on Wednesday. He added that the immigrants will get “intensified casework services” to help them “explore other housing options.” Adams received immediate pushback from Comptroller Brad Lander and other officials. “The Mayor’s announcement today doesn’t just undermine the right-to-shelter, but the defining role of New York as a beacon of promise inscribed at the base of the Statute of Liberty,” Lander said in a statement.
“The right to shelter has been in place for over 30 years, and that right does not simply expire after 60 days in the face of a crisis,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said in an emailed statement.
NYC DOE REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH FAMILIES OF DISABLED STUDENTS
CITYWIDE — Mayor Eric Adams and the NYC Department of Education Chancellor David Banks announced on Wednesday that the city has reached an agreement in a 20-year-old court case to provide equitable, comprehensive, and timely support to disabled students and their families who have chosen to exercise their due process rights. The agreement stems from the 2003 class action lawsuit LV et.al v. NYC DOE, containing 40 requirements that DOE must meet to improve services for disabled students and their families.
In the lawsuit, parents of disabled children claimed that they had received favorable outcomes in hearings, but DOE was not implementing the orders.
FATHER OF 4 STABBED TO DEATH, 2 OTHERS SLASHED IN WILLIAMSBURG FIGHT
WILLIAMSBURG — A Bushwick father of four, Severiano Reyes, 36, was fatally stabbed in the neck during a fight outside a Williamsburg bodega at Roebling and S. 9th Streets on Tuesday evening at roughly 8:38 p.m. In the same incident, a 45-year-old man was slashed in the neck and back, and a 27-year-old woman was slashed in the wrist, according to a police spokesperson.
Friends and family of Reyes told Gothamist his killer was an acquaintance who had a long-standing beef with him. The others who were wounded had tried to come to his aid, they said.
44 CONDITIONAL CANNABIS LICENSES AWARDED IN BROOKLYN
STATEWIDE — The New York State Cannabis Control Board voted on Wednesday to approve 212 more provisional licenses statewide for recreational weed shops, all going to people with past marijuana convictions. Of these, 44 were awarded in Brooklyn; 46 in Manhattan; 14 in Queens; nine in the Bronx and five in Staten Island. (The rest went to other areas in New York state.) The awardees are now free to find a suitable retail location, but they must submit final plans for approval.
The board has awarded 463 conditional adult-use licenses to justice-involved New Yorkers to date, NY State of Politics reports.
MTA TO MAKE TURNSTILE CHEATING MORE DIFFICULT
CITYWIDE — MTA plans to re-tool all 3,479 of the city’s subway turnstiles to prevent riders from evading the fare by using the popular “back-cocking” technique, according to Gothamist. “We’ve all seen it,” senior vice president of subways Demetrius Crichlow said during a committee meeting on Monday. “Someone pulls back on the bar just far enough to step over it when reversing to go in the forward direction.” The turnstiles will be reengineered to make a half-rotation whenever they’re pulled in the opposite direction, frustrating riders’ attempts to easily breeze through.
MTA said recently that it lost $690 million a year from fare evasion. Meanwhile, the cost to retrofit the turnstiles is roughly $1.8 million.
DOT COMMISSIONER’S ‘BROOKLYN DAY’ HIGHLIGHTS VISION ZERO, SAFETY, DELIVERISTAS’ NEEDS
BOROUGHWIDE — City Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez on Wednesday, July 19, celebrated “Brooklyn Day,” one devoted to touring Kings County to gain insight on the borough’s transportation issues and needs. He began the morning by giving the opening remarks at Vision Zero Safety Education Day with the NYPD, an event highlighting a traffic and pedestrian safety education campaign at a busy intersection. Other stops on his schedule included riding a Citi Bike down to Restoration Plaza at Fulton Street and New York Avenue for a discussion with local civic and religious leaders, transportation experts and local organizations; and a stop in the Bed-Stuy/Crown Heights area for a talk on safety matters, the NYC DOT’s helmet-fitting program and giveaways.
The day marked the fourth Commissioner in Your Borough event, and Rodriguez plans more borough-specific visits to continue the discussions on transportation needs.
LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES POSSIBLE CAUSE OF FLATBUSH DELI FIRE
FLATBUSH — Firefighters battled a smoky blaze in a Flatbush deli that was possibly sparked by lithium-ion batteries late Monday night, AMNY reports. FDNY responding at roughly 11:22 p.m. to the Promise Food Deli at 4201 Farragut Rd. were met with heavy smoke “seeping from behind the roll-down gates,” AMNY reported. Three Hazmat companies removed several electrical bikes and batteries from the premises, but an official investigation into the cause of the fire is not complete.
No injuries were reported, but the blaze caused severe damage to the second-floor apartments above the store.
HIGH PERCENTAGE OF BK PIPES CONTAMINATED WITH LEAD
BOROUGHWIDE — As many as one in five New Yorkers may be drinking their water from lead pipes, Gothamist reports — and Brooklyn has more contaminated pipes than the citywide average. Gothamist cites a new study on lead pipes by the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning. The study found that 13% of Brooklyn pipes were contaminated with lead, while 33% were possibly contaminated. Some neighborhoods, such as Coney Island, Greenpoint, Borough Park, Flatbush, Sunset Park and others, are particular lead “hot spots.”
Lead is a dangerous heavy metal that can cause permanent brain damage and other developmental problems in children if consumed.
PUBLIC COMMENTS INVITED ON AMENDMENTS TO BROOKLYN SUBWAY REPAIR PROJECTS
CROWN HEIGHTS AND EAST NEW YORK — Two subway stations in Brooklyn are the focus of a public comment period that begins Wednesday, July 19 and runs through July 28. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council welcomes comments for proposed amendments to the Federal Fiscal Years 2023-2027 Transportation Improvement Program. The Brooklyn projects are (T8041256) a platform components repair or replacement at the New Lots Avenue Station on the New Lots line (#3 train between the Utica Avenue stop in Crown Heights and the New Lots station in East New York; and full ADA accessibility at the New Lots Avenue station. An additional project involves the purchase of 90 all-electric, articulated buses throughout the city. Details of the actions listed above and all the proposed changes to the program are available at https://bit.ly/PFAC0719.
However, two other projects for Brooklyn’s Broadway Junction have been deleted due to delays in submitting the grant proposal for federal monies, and are being advanced only with sponsor agency funds. The work would entail replacing escalator, electrical systems, surveillance panels and other components, all of which were deemed to be “at the end of their useful life.”
SUNY DOWNSTATE GETS RENEWAL GRANT FOR HEALTH EQUITY RESEARCH TRAINING
FLATBUSH —SUNY DOWNSTATE has secured a second $10m NIH Grant to accelerate health equity research training. The $10M John Lewis NIMHD Research Endowment Grant (in this case a renewal grant) will increase the original 2017 research endowment to $20M, expanding the capacity for transformative health equity research, enabling SUNY Downstate to continue the work of its Translational Program of Health Disparities Research Training (TRANSPORT). This project focuses on recruiting and training health equity researchers from underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences.
The renewal grant will also establish a new institute for health equity research as a centralized hub for the endowment programs’ administrative functions. The institute will enhance Downstate’s capacity for educational programs in Brooklyn.
BROOKLYN’S REBECCA WEINER TAPPED FOR NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF INTELLIGENCE & COUNTERTERRORISM
CITYWIDE — NYC Police Commissioner Edward Caban and Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday announced the appointment of Brooklyn resident Rebecca Ulam Weiner as deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the NYPD. A 17-year veteran of the NYPD with a resume a mile long, Weiner has overseen investigative, analytical, operational and engagement efforts across counterterrorism, counterintelligence, criminal intelligence and numerous other domains. Weiner also served as legal counsel to the NYPD Intelligence Bureau’s Intelligence Analysis Unit and as team leader for the Middle East and North Africa. Weiner, who is the first woman to serve in this capacity, lives with her husband Drake and two sons, Xavier and Damien, who she called “Brooklyn born-and-bred.”
Weiner graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a B.A. in history and literature and cum laude from Harvard Law School with a juris doctorate. Service runs in her family: after immigrating to the U.S. from Poland, Weiner’s grandfather served as a mathematician on the Manhattan Project.
POLICE: 90-YEAR-OLD BUSHWICK MAN IS MISSING
BUSHWICK — A 90-year-old resident of Bushwick disappeared Monday morning, and police are asking the public to contact them if they have any information that will help find him. Gabriel Ismael was last seen around 8 a.m. on Monday at his residence near Eldert Street and Knickerbocker Avenue. He is described as 6’2” tall and 150 pounds, with black eyes, black hair and a mustache.
Anyone with information in regard to his whereabouts 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 https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/.
COMPTROLLER LANDER TO UPS: RESOLVE PART-TIMERS’ PAY CONCERNS AND AVOID A STRIKE
CITYWIDE —Warning that a protracted strike could harm the economy, NYC Comptroller Brad Lander wrote to United Parcel Service’s CEO, Carol Tomé, urging the parcel shipping and delivery company to address part-time employee pay concerns in its contract negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Lander, who sent the letter with just two weeks left in the negotiations deadline of August 1, underscored the critical need for resolution amidst the potential ripple effects on the nation’s economy. “We fear that an extended strike could have long-term damaging effects on the company, destroying shareholder value and long-term returns. His office has warned that failing to reach a resolution threatens to not only slow delivery times for consumers, but also cause supply chain breakdowns for vulnerable industries like small businesses and hospitals.
Part-time employees comprise nearly 50% of UPS employees and perform crucial roles as package handlers, loaders and unloaders throughout the parcel system.
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