What’s News, Breaking: Monday, July 24, 2023
DiNAPOLI: BROOKLYN RECEIVED 25% OF FUNDS
FROM STATE’S EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE
STATEWIDE — EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM IS REBOUNDING after a slow start, and the reach should improve now that funding has been added for public housing applicants, according to a new report by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The pandemic program to help struggling households pay their rent faltered initially, making New York the last state in the country to distribute funds. Improvements, including those that Comptroller DiNapoli suggested at the program’s onset, were made and alleviated administrative problems. The city chose to participate in the state-run ERAP program, and its residents received far more than the $645 million they would have received if the city chose to run its own program, reported DiNapoli. New York City received $2.5 billion for the ERAP program, a quarter of which went to Brooklyn, the most for any county in the state.
However, renters living in public housing have not yet received funds from the program, and rental burdens for low-income New Yorkers remain high, DiNapoli’s report indicated.
ALLEGED GANG LEADER CHARGED WITH MURDER, ATTEMPTED MURDER OF 16 YEAR OLDS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — OPENING STATEMENTS WERE SET TO BEGIN in Brooklyn federal court before an anonymous jury on Monday morning in the trial of Melvi Amador-Rios, 32, an alleged local Queens leader of the notorious drug cartel MS-13, on charges of racketeering, murder, attempted murder, assault, firearms offenses and multiple robberies. The charges arise from the October 2016 attempted murder of a 16-year-old boy who was left paralyzed by underlings of Amador-Rios, allegedly in exchange for increased status within MS-13; Amador-Rios is also charged in a superseding indictment with ordering the brutal May 2017 murder and mutilation of 16-year-old junior member Julio Vasquez, who, after falling into disfavor for failing to kill a suspected traitor, was fatally stabbed by the gang allegedly on Amador-Rios’ instruction more than 30 times.
According to the EDNY, the evidence includes surveillance footage and a recorded phone call regarding the October 2016 attempted murder; if convicted of the murder, Amador-Rios faces life in prison. Several others charged in relation to these crimes have already pleaded guilty.
ELECTED LEADERS, NYPD GATHER TO MOURN TEEN,
PREVENT MORE SHOOTING DEATHS
BENSONHURST — ANOTHER LOCAL LEADER, OUTRAGED AT THE SHOOTING DEATH of a Bensonhurst teenager, convened a meeting with the NYPD’s 62nd Precinct on how to prevent more killings. Following the death of a 15-year-old boy, Assemblymember William Colton (D-47), his Chief Of Staff Susan Zhuang, 62nd precinct Commanding Officer Eddie Lau, and City Councilman Kalman Yeger convened with members of the community at the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst last week. “Horrible crimes are intolerable, and our community will not condone it,” said Colton, who represents Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Dyker Heights.
Said Colton, “Police must be showing more of their presence in the community, and criminals must be held accountable for their actions. As I said before, it’s a critical issue and it must be addressed immediately.”
GODSQUAD BOLSTERS PRESENCE, WITH GOAL
OF PREVENTING GUN VIOLENCE
FLATBUSH TO EAST NEW YORK — THE GOD SQUAD/67TH PRECINCT CLERGY COUNCIL HAS ORGANIZED several events to fight gun violence in central Brooklyn by building unity. A Clergy Community Walk, scheduled for Tuesday, July 25, from 4-6 p.m. at Nostrand and Foster Avenues, will gather locals for a peaceful walk through our community streets, demonstrating unity and solidarity and providing resources to the residents, according to a flyer for the event. East New York Family Residence Community Day, being held at 1040 East New York Avenue on Wednesday, July 26, (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) aims to foster togetherness and support among families residing in this part of Brooklyn.
Members of GodSquad will also “Occupy the Corner” an ongoing outreach at key intersections around to spread awareness about the gun violence and engage with community members through dialogue on bringing about positive change. This “Occupy the Corner” will be held 6 -8 p.m. on Friday, July 28, Church Avenue and East 94th St., near the major Linden Blvd. intersection.
CITY COMPTROLLER BRAD LANDER DENOUNCES
ISRAEL’S VOTE TO ‘UNDERMINE JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE’
CITY HALL — REFLECTING THE FALLOUT FROM THE ISRAELI PARLIAMEN’S APPROVAL of a controversial bill to curtain the judiciary’s power, members of Brooklyn’s Jewish community have formed human chains across the Brooklyn Bridge and leaders are now denouncing the vote. City Comptroller Brad Lander, who is the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in NYC government, said, “The passage of legislation in the Israeli Knesset today to undermine judicial independence is a sign that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition are choosing brute power over democracy. Heedless of the calls from hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets week after week, from American Jewish supporters and from President Biden, the extremists in Israel’s ruling coalition have pushed through legislation to protect their own interests and limit the ability of the courts to protect civil rights.”
Lander said, “The United States cannot continue to provide such a government unconditional support, without regard for human rights abuses or de facto annexation. American Jews like me, who support the vision of a Jewish and democratic Israel, must get much louder in saying so.”
MISSING CHILD IN BROWNSVILLE
BROWNSVILLE — POLICE ARE URGENTLY ASKING THE PUBLIC TO HELP FIND MISSING 12-year-old Deborah Mccoy, last seen at her residence on Atlantic Avenue in Brownsville on the afternoon of Saturday, July 22. Deborah is described as 5′ tall and 100 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair, and was last seen wearing a black t-shirt, white Nike sneakers and pink and white shorts; police advised that she frequently plays at Houston Playground, also in Brownsville.
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.
SENIOR STABBED WITH STICK IN FLATBUSH
FLATBUSH — AN 82-YEAR-OLD MAN SURVIVED A BRUTAL ATTACK last Sunday and was hospitalized in stable condition, reports the Daily News, after assailant Marvin Reyes, 33, stabbed him multiple times in the head with a sharp stick. Police say the attack appeared to be random: Reyes approached the victim in the early morning on a Flatbush street corner near Prospect Park and began the assault without provocation.
Reyes was apprehended quickly and has been charged with assault, weapon possession and menacing, according to the Daily News, and is awaiting arraignment.
ASYLUM SEEKERS RE-FORM BQE TENT CAMP AFTER CITY TEARDOWN
CLINTON HILL — A GROUP OF ASYLUM SEEKERS whose tent camp under a section of the BQE overpass in Clinton Hill was broken up by police on Friday have now returned to the location, reports the New York Post, saying they had concerns about the safety of the shelters that the city had rerouted them to and that the tents felt less risky. Gothamist reported that some of the migrants were left without identification documents and clothing after police cleared the camp away without warning; a spokesperson for the city said that the campers had earlier been asked to leave a city shelter due to rule violations, but the campers disputed this, saying that they had been kicked out due to complaints about shelter conditions.
As the city’s shelter population swells to over 100,000, including more than 50,000 asylum seekers, many overflow locations have been subject to criticism over substandard living conditions, such as those at an empty Bushwick office space that earlier this month was found to lack working showers and toilets for its 500 residents.
PEDESTRIAN IN WHEELCHAIR STRUCK AND KILLED
AT BUSY KENSINGTON INTERSECTION
KENSINGTON — A 68-YEAR-OLD PEDESTRIAN WAS STRUCK AND KILLED on Sunday afternoon while trying to cross Webster Avenue at McDonald Avenue in her wheelchair. The victim, whom the NYPD later identified as Joyce Greenberg of Lawrence Avenue, was crossing the intersection at the boundary of the 66th and 70th Precincts when a 73-year-old female driving a 2016 Lexus SUV southbound along McDonald Avenue hit her. The wheelchair-bound pedestrian became pinned under the vehicle and sustained severe trauma. EMS transported her to Maimonides Medical Center where she was pronounced deceased.
The Lexus operator, who had two passengers, a 73-year-old female and a 72-year-old female, remained on the scene and had no injuries. The NYPD’s Highway District Collision Investigation Squad is involved.
ATTORNEYS GENERAL: FCC NEEDS TO KEEP HUMAN TRANSLATORS
FOR EMERGENCY GOV’T ALERTS
ALBANY AND NATIONWIDE — NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL LETITIA JAMES AND 15 OF HER COUNTERPARTS ARE URGING the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand language access for critical government alerts sent to cell phones, known as Wireless Emergency Alerts. The attorneys general coalition also pointed out that the FCC’s proposal would require wireless companies to use a machine translation rather than human translation for these alerts and would only include translations for 13 languages. Attorney General James and the coalition urge FCC to adopt its alternative proposal to use human translators, which are far more reliable, instead of machine translation, and to increase the number of available languages to at least 25, and that translation must be reliable and accurate — especially in weather emergencies.
A recent joint study by UCLA and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center found that the accuracy rate of machine translations from English varied widely for different languages — with accuracy sometimes as low as 55%.
MARCHERS FOR ISRAELI DEMOCRACY FORM HUMAN CHAIN OVER BK BRIDGE
BROOKLYN BRIDGE — HUNDREDS OF PRO-DEMOCRACY DEMONSTRATORS formed a “Human Chain for Israeli Democracy” as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday morning. Participants marched in solidarity with protesters in Israel, the day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government voted to significantly weaken the judicial authority of Israel’s High Court. AP reports that Israeli lawmakers on Monday approved a key portion of the plan to reshape the judiciary — which some characterize as a “judicial coup.” The controversial move increases Netanyahu’s ability to hand-pick judges, including those presiding over his own ongoing trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
At a White House press briefing on July 17, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that President Biden spoke with Netanyahu on the subject of judicial reform and reiterated “the need for the broadest possible consensus and that shared democratic values have always been and must remain a hallmark of the U.S. – Israel relationship.” Haaretz reports that Biden told the Israeli news site Walla! on Sunday evening, “It doesn’t make sense for Israeli leaders to rush this.”
USDA ISSUES RECALL ALERT ON CHEESES
DISTRIBUTED FROM MILFORD, NY
STATEWIDE — CHEESE PRODUCTS DISTRIBUTED WITHIN NEW YORK STATE ARE RECALLED because of possible contamination with Listeria, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration advised on Monday, July 24. The Cooperstown Cheese Company of Milford, NY, is recalling 1400 pounds of cheese purchased, sold or distributed from June 21, 2023, to July 10, 2023, because it can potentially be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. This organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. The product was distributed in New York State and reached customers through farmer’s markets, restaurants and retail stores.
The products being sold at farmer’s markets are wrapped in cheese paper or plastic, and labeled as Jersey Girl, Toma Celena, SK, Jersey Gold, Marielle, Jersey Girl with garlic/rosemary, Jersey Girl spring onion, Bobby’s got the Blues, Toma Torino, Jersey Gold with garlic, and Abbie. The ones sold at retail stores are vacuum-sealed, with the labels Jersey Girl, Toma Celena and Abbie.
HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER JEFFRIES SECURES $1M, DISTRIBUTES FOOD FOR MET COUNCIL
BOROUGHWIDE — House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries donated $1 million to the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, joining Met Council CEO David Greenfield and Rabbi Avrohom Hecht, executive director of the Canarsie JCC, last week distributed food to those in need. Together, they distributed more than 500 food boxes and fresh produce. Rep. Jeffries’ funds allocation represents a significant boost for Met Council’s Emergency Kosher & Halal food program, and also major win for the countless individuals and families who depend on Met Council’s services for sustenance and support.
The largest charity in the Congressmember Jeffries’ district and the nation’s largest Jewish charity, Met Council owns and manages six affordable housing buildings, and each month, it serves over 20,000 people in the district, nearly half of whom are from minority and immigrant communities.
MAYOR INITIATES NEIGHBORHOOD AWARDS
CITYWIDE — A NEW INITIATIVE FROM THE MAYOR’S OFFICE will honor New Yorkers who have lived on their blocks or served in a civic organization the longest, according to an announcement from Community Board 10. Mayor Eric Adams’ Community Affairs Unit invites nominations of longtime residents who have demonstrated wisdom, history, commitment, and compassion to their neighbors for the Neighborhood Awards. Block/civic/tenant associations are encouraged to nominate a neighbor online.
Having been a former police officer and captain, a state senator, and Brooklyn borough president, Adams wants to recognize constituents who have also devoted their lives to public service in many ways.
COUNCILMEMBER HUDSON COORDINATES DISTRICT’S RELIEF EFFORTS FOR ASYLEES
CLINTON HILL/FORT GREENE —The Office of City Councilmember Hudson (D-35) is working with Clinton Hill/Fort Greene Mutual Aid and Gowanus Mutual Aid to coordinate immediate relief needs for asylum seekers who were recently been placed at a formerly vacant commercial building within her district, which stretches from Fort Greene to Prospect Heights and Crown Heights. Councilmember Hudson, who is requesting assistance to supplement strained City resources, says cash donations (through the group’s Open Collective Fund: https://www.chfgma.org/), labor, specific goods and translation services are most needed. Interpreters and translators who are fluent in Native Arabic, Creole, Russian, Ukrainian, French and Spanish are most needed. Volunteers should indicate days and times of availability.
Clinton Hill-Fort Greene Mutual Aid also offers training calls on the second Wednesday of each month to explain the genesis of CHFGMA, the principles of mutual aid, and how to get involved in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill neighbor-neighbor efforts. The next training takes place Wednesday, August 9 at 5:30 p.m. (registration via https://actionnetwork.org/events/august-9-clinton-hillfort-greene-mutual-aid-general-orientation-delivery-training).
PUBLIC HEARINGS SOLICIT COMMENTS ON PROPOSED NATIONAL GRID RATE HIKES
CITYWIDE — National Grid customers may want to attend a series of public hearings that the NY State Public Service Commission is holding during August to propose rate increases. Virtual Public Hearings on National Grid Tariff Amendments will be offered on Tuesday or Wednesday, August 1-2, to solicit public input and comments regarding National Grid’s proposals to increase rates for natural gas customers in Kings (Brooklyn) Queens, Richmond (Staten Island) Nassau and Suffolk counties, that would take effect March 31, 2024. (Required registration for the 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. virtual meetings either day can be made via phone: 1-800-342-3330.) National Grid proposes to use the additional revenue to ensure safe and reliable service, meet the needs of customers, advance the goals of the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and maintain energy affordability programs which help low-income households with their energy bills.
A typical residential heating account may see an average monthly bill increase of $28-$31.
NYC DOT ART PROGRAM OPENS REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
CITYWIDE — The NYC Department of Transportation is publicizing a Request for Proposals for its NYC DOT Art Program. Community-based, nonprofit organizations can apply to be a 2023–2024 Community Commissions Partner through a signature program that lets them identify sites for artwork and select individual artists to propose site-responsive artwork. Organizations can apply through Tuesday, August 1 via https://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/dotart-community-commissions.pdf.
NYC DOT Art provides up to $20,000 towards direct project costs, engineering and operational support, and the opportunity to beautify sites accessible to a diverse audience.
DUMBO GUY MAY HAVE FIGURED OUT WHY TRUCKS KEEP GETTING STUCK ON BROOKLYN BRIDGE
DUMBO — A TECH CONSULTANT WHO WORKS IN DUMBO may have figured out at least part of the reason trucks keep getting stuck on the Brooklyn Bridge, resulting in miles-long traffic jams on the BQE. One issue lies with the chains that are supposed to dangle from the exit sign on the BQE to alert trucks they can’t fit on the bridge. The chains, however, are wrapped around the sign’s pole “probably because they’ve been hit so many times,” Michael Cata told Gothamist.
Cata and his colleagues documented almost 40 stuck trucks on the bridge over the last 12 months and presented the data and potential solutions via Powerpoint to DOT — but they seem to be getting a bit of a runaround, Gothamist reports.
STARS PITCH IN TO HELP FEED HUNGRY FAMILIES
SUNSET PARK — STARS KAREN PITTMAN (“And Just Like That”) AND TAYSHIA ADAMS (“Bachelor Nation”) VOLUNTEERED with the nonprofits City Harvest and Feeding America on Tuesday to help out hungry New Yorkers in need. The celebs helped to repack food rescued from farmers, wholesalers and manufacturers, which will be donated to children and families in New York City. Hundreds of pounds of food are being repackaged at City Harvest’s Cohen Community Food Rescue Center in Sunset Park.
According to the Fund for the City of New York, 50% of NYC households can’t meet their basic financial needs, including food costs.
NEW ELEVATORS MAKE TWO MORE SUBWAY STATIONS FULLY ACCESSIBLE
BROOKLYN/MANHATTAN — THE MTA ANNOUNCED ON WEDNESDAY THE OPENING OF two new ADA-compliant elevators: one at the 8th Avenue N station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and another at the Dyckman Street 1 train station in Inwood, Upper Manhattan, which opened on July 14. Both stations are now fully accessible. The new 8th Avenue elevator connects customers between the street and downtown platform, while the Dyckman Street elevator connects customers between the street and the uptown platform. Both elevators include an emergency two-way communication system via either voice or visually by answering on-screen questions, which improves communication for hearing impaired riders.
The 2020-2024 MTA Capital Plan includes a historic investment of $5.2 billion to make 67 subway stations ADA accessible, more than any Capital Plan in MTA’s history, MTA said in a statement.
STARTING AUG. 1, FOOD BUSINESSES MUST USE RAT-PROOF GARBAGE RECEPTACLES WITH LIDS
CITYWIDE — NYC’S WAR ON RATS INTENSIFIES: A new rule will go into effect Aug. 1 which requires all NYC food-related businesses to set out any “putrescible” organic garbage at the curb in rigid receptacles with tight-fitting lids, the city’s Department of Sanitation said Thursday. DSNY held a public hearing on the proposed rule on June 22. The rule can be suspended in the event of a mayoral declaration of a health, weather or solid waste emergency, or “if the use of such receptacles would constitute a public nuisance,” DSNY said.
Numerous Brooklyn residents sent in comments supporting the new rule, citing frequent nighttime encounters with rats chewing through plastic bags filled with food garbage on the sidewalk.
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