What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, July 26, 2023
POLICE ATHLETIC LEAGUE PLAYSTREETS PROGRAM
OFFERS FREE SUMMER ACTIVITIES
RED HOOK/BROWNSVILLE/CANARSIE — THE POLICE ATHLETIC LEAGUE (PAL), which since 1914 has provided safe places to play and learn for thousands of children through its Summer PAL PLAYSTREETS Program, announces the locations and times for Summer 2023. Offered in public areas, such as playgrounds and parks, PLAYSTREETS runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays through August 24 throughout New York City, with 13 supervised places to enjoy outdoor summer activities. Brooklyn locations include Dr. Green Park PLAYSTREET at 500 Mother Gaston Blvd. and the Howard Playground PLAYSTREET at 60 Glenmore Ave., both in Brownsville; Red Hook Coffey Park PLAYSTREET at 31 Centre Mall; Fox Playground PLAYSTREET at Avenue H, between East 54th and East 55th Streets, near Canarsie and Flatlands.
Kids can enjoy Double Dutch jump rope, nok hockey, hopscotch, arts and crafts, sports, board games, educational programs and more.
CITY ISSUES WARNING OVER SOARING TEMPERATURES
CITYWIDE — IN RESPONSE TO A SWELTERING WAVE PREDICTED for the city from Thursday through Saturday, with the temperatures into the 90s, the city announced on Wednesday that it would be reopening its cooling centers at locations throughout the five boroughs. Locations may have changed from previous years, so New Yorkers are encouraged to check the online Cooling Center Finder on the city’s website or to call 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or 212-504-4115 for TTY) for more information. The city also announced that it would be offering pet-friendly centers in partnership with Petco, and that homeless individuals will have the additional right to access cooling areas at shelters. The Parks Department will also extend pool hours during the three-day heat wave, and is offering a map of other outdoor cooling options like spray showers and water fountains online.
- Employers are required to provide water, rest, and shade when work is being done during extreme heat. Drink water even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Call 911 immediately if someone is experiencing the warning signs for heat illness: hot dry skin, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or weakness or faintness that does not go away after going to a cool place and drinking water.
- Pets can dehydrate quickly, so give them plenty of water. Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, drooling, weakness, unresponsiveness, or collapse. Take walks in the early mornings or late at night, as hot asphalt can burn sensitive paw pads.
- To responsibly cool down with fire hydrants, adults with identification can go to a local firehouse and request a water-conserving spray cap.
- Use appliances as minimally as possible to avoid blackouts, but tell your utility provider if you or someone you know depend on medical equipment that requires electricity.
$4K STOLEN IN BOERUM HILL CAR ROBBERY
BOERUM HILL — A 58-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS ROBBED OF $4,000 on the morning of Wednesday, July 19, in Boerum Hill while sitting inside his parked vehicle near Barclays Center after being blocked in by two cars, a black Hyundai Elantra and a gray Nissan Altima, that had pulled in around his car. Once the victim’s vehicle was trapped, two individuals got out of the Elantra and approached him. One of them displayed a firearm while demanding property, then forcibly removed the victim’s car keys, cellphone and wallet, which contained approximately $4,000 in cash and assorted debit cards, before fleeing in the Elantra, which was last seen traveling south on Fifth Avenue. The Nissan Altima was last seen traveling east on Dean Street.
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.
ARRAIGNED FOR STRING OF BURGLARIES
IN BENSONHURST AND GRAVESEND
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Two Brooklyn have been arraigned on charges of allegedly committing six burglaries of homes and businesses in Bensonhurst and stealing more than $150,000 worth of jewelry and cash, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban announced on Wednesday, July 26. The district attorney identified the defendants as Sam Kravchenko, 36, of Coney Island and John Catullo, 55, of Bensonhurst. They were arraigned Wednesday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo on a 74-count indictment including charges for conspiracy, burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, possession of burglars’ tools, trespass and related charges. They were ordered held without bail and told to return to court on Sept. 20, 2023.
Between Aug. 8, 2022 and Jan. 18, 2023, the pair burglarized two homes, three grocery stores and a vape shop. Defendant Kravchenko was arrested on January 26, 2023, after a car stop for failure to signal, and he was found to have a suspended driver license, Oxycodone pills and police scanners.
NATURALIZED CITIZEN ENTERS GUILTY PLEA
FOR VISA FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE CHERYL L. POLLAK ON TUESDAY, July 25, presided over the guilty plea of Haiyan Liao, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Ms. Liao pleaded guilty to visa fraud and money laundering charges for her role in a multi-year scheme to illegally bring Chinese nationals into the United States for financial gain. Court documents show Liao, a 46-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen and native of China, engaged in a scheme with others to help noncitizens from China to illegally enter the United States, by fraudulently obtaining visitor visas and by submitting applications containing false statements to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China. The noncitizens and their families paid thousands of dollars to reach the United States, with Liao reaping at least $98,673.72 in illicit proceeds through wire transmissions from China to the United States.
Liao, who was charged in January 2021, faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment for the trafficking, and a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment for the money laundering conspiracy.
POLICE ARREST NORTH CAROLINA MAN
FOR 2022 SHOOTING AT NYCHA HOUSING
CANARSIE — A GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED and charged in connection with a July 2022 murder in Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood, within the 69th Precinct. The suspect, 43-year-old Leo Lewis, was apprehended in the same precinct on Tuesday, July 25, around 8:48 p.m., and is charged on multiple counts, including murder and criminal possession of a gun. He is believed to have shot a man at 10713 Flatlands Avenue, within a NYCHA housing complex, on July 10, 2022, around 8:48 a.m. A motive has not yet been disclosed as of press time.
The NYPD had identified the deceased as 44-year-old Zamel Myers who resided at the complex. The amNY website covered the shooting at the time, which was the second such incident that morning, the other one in Coney Island.
ARREST MADE IN 2022 DOUBLE SHOOTING CASE
CROWN HEIGHTS — THE NYPD ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, July 26, arrested a man wanted in connection with a double murder that had been committed within the 77th Precinct in Crown Heights. Andrew Decoteau, 20, of Linden Blvd., faces multiple charges in the shooting that took place on April 9, 2022, in front of a Bergen St. apartment building (according to Google Maps), in which a 38-year-old-man was killed and another seriously wounded in the chest. Decoteau faces counts of murder, attempted murder, attempted assault and two additional counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
The deceased was identified as 38-year-old Kevin Alves of New York Avenue. The identity was not revealed of the older man, other than being age 45. Both were taken to NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County.
ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES INJUNCTION TO STOP
OBSTRUCTIONS TO ABORTION CLINICS
STATEWIDE — NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL LETITIA JAMES on Wednesday, July 26, took action to stop members of Red Rose Rescue, identified as an anti-abortion extremist group, from blocking access to abortion care in New York. Obstructing or interfering with access to reproductive health care clinics, including abortion clinics, is illegal under the United States Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) and the New York State Clinic Access Act. Following the lawsuit she filed against Red Rose Rescue last month, Attorney General James on Wednesday filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the organization and its members from coming within 30 feet of any reproductive health care facility in New York state, pending trial.
Despite multiple convictions in New York and across the country, Red Rose Rescue and its members have repeatedly trespassed at abortion clinics and physically blocked access to reproductive health care services in attempts to stop clinics from operating.
VERIZON WIRELESS OUTAGE AFFECTS NYC,
MUCH OF EAST COAST
NATIONWIDE — VERIZON, A MAJOR WIRELESS SERVICES COMPANY, experienced a nationwide outage Wednesday morning, according to Downdetector, as reported in Patch. The website lists a massive spike in outage reports beginning around 6:42 a.m., with the largest number coming from New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC, and even as far west as Chicago. Users with some NYC area codes, including 917, reported not being able to make mobile-to-mobile calls as early as 6 a.m. One person told the Eagle later on Wednesday that she was able to reach this newspaper’s administrative offices, but not other mobile numbers, instead hearing an “all circuits are busy” recording.
The outages reportedly peaked at 8:42 a.m. and many local police departments said that while 911 still worked, they could only be used in an emergency. Local officials began just after 10 a.m. to report the restoration of service.
NY1 SEGMENT ON RESTAURANT WEEK FEATURES
REVIVED MORGAN’S BROOKLYN BARBECUE
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — MORGAN’S BROOKLYN BARBECUE on Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, and its owner, Penny Glazier, were featured Tuesday on Spectrum New York 1 News’ report on New York Restaurant Week 2023. Restaurant Week launched on Monday and actually runs for four weeks, wrapping up on August 20. Reservations for the bi-annual program are now open online. The biannual program, which includes several Brooklyn restaurants in addition to Morgan’s, from Williamsburg, (offering two-course lunches for $30, $30, $45 or $60, and three-course dinners for $30, $45 or $60 before gratuity) offers diners a chance to enjoy nearly 500 of New York City’s restaurants serving dozens of cuisines in over 200 neighborhoods. Brooklyn restaurants participating include 48 eateries from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge and Coney Island, with a variety of cuisines, such as Caribbean, Middle Eastern and New American.
A fire in early 2021 had caused heavy damage to Morgan’s, which remained closed for repairs for almost two years before its revival opening last November.
MARCY AVE. SUBWAY STATION RECEIVES NEW LIGHTING,
WILLIAMSBURG — THE MARCY AVENUE SUBWAY STATION in Williamsburg is the latest to benefit from the MTA’s Re-NEW-Vation program, which utilizes planned weekend service outages to perform upgrades, repairs, and enhanced cleaning in stations within a 55-hour window. The Marcy Avenue station, which serves the J, M and Z lines, received a fresh coat of paint after transit workers scraped peeling paint and primed surfaces, including the undersides of stairwells. The station also received new LED lighting, brightened stairwells and fare areas; and employee facilities also received a deep cleaning.
Marcy Ave. is the 41st station to be enhanced thus far, with the NYC Transit planning 50 “Re-NEW-Vations by the end of this year. Brooklyn stations on the schedule for this year include Avenue I in Kensington (F train), the 7th Ave. station on the B/Q line in Prospect Heights, and the Hoyt/Schermerhorn A/C/G station in Downtown Brooklyn/Boerum Hill.
PARISH PROCESSION CONCLUDES MOUNT CARMEL FESTIVAL
MILL BASIN — St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church in Mill Basin held its ninth annual parish feast honoring St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, whom hermits saw in a vision at Mount Carmel in Jerusalem. Bishop Robert Brennan was the main celebrant at the 5 p.m. Mass concluding the parish festival, which ran from July 20-23 and featured rides, food, games, and Italian music nightly. Following the Mass, a procession with the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel wound its way through the streets of Mill Basin, with parishioners, clergy, and a marching band.
Mount Carmel has been a place of prayer since the time of the prophet Elijah, who lived in the 10th century B.C.E. Catholics believe that in 1251 C.E. (A.D.) Mary appeared to hermits praying there, and encouraged them to found a religious order on that location.
INDUCTION STOVE CHALLENGE WILL LAUNCH THIS FALL TO BENEFIT NYCHA RESIDENTS
CITYWIDE —A new program being launched this fall at NYCHA housing will involve the design of new induction stoves to replace gas stoves without costly electrical upgrades to buildings. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) signed an agreement on Monday, July 24 for the Induction Stove Challenge, a competitive innovation challenge that calls on appliance manufacturers to design and produce energy-efficient, electric cooking systems. The winning appliances are those designed to provide best-in-class, comfortable cooking as well as health and quality of life benefits to thousands of NYCHA households.
The new stoves are also meant to provide an attractive and cost-effective option for stove replacement for households and building owners across the state nationally, where pre-existing electrical systems common in most buildings may not support the induction stove products that are currently available.
CITY HOSPITALS’ PEER ACADEMY GRADUATES NEW COUNSELORS AS PART OF INNOVATIVE PROGRAM
CITYWIDE —NYC Health + Hospitals’ Peer Academy has graduated more than 50 people with lived-experience with mental health or substance use conditions to become peer counselors, the city’s public health system announced on Monday, July 24. An important part of the system’s workforce development efforts, the NYC Health + Hospitals’ Peer Academy is a comprehensive workforce development program that trains individuals who have personally experienced mental health or substance use challenges to become peer counselors employed by a hospital system. The program includes six weeks of classroom training and a six-week, full-time, hospital-based internship with rotations in the inpatient mental health unit, emergency department, and mobile crisis teams. Twenty-five of the 38 graduates in the first two classes have been hired as peer counselors, and 17 of them work within NYC Health + Hospitals. Twelve additional students graduated from the program this month.
Peer counselors are able to connect with traditionally hard-to-reach patients and NYC Health & Hospitals considers them living proof that recovery is possible.
RASTAFARIANS IN BROOKLYN GATHER TO HONOR 131ST BIRTHDAY OF HAILIE SELASSIE
PROSPECT PARK —Prospect Park’s Nethermead was the setting last Saturday for a ceremony with elders of the Nyabinghi Rastafari Order, who lit a ritual fire that would burn for three days, read psalms and prayed —all to commemorate the 131st anniversary of the birth of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie on July 23, 1892, the Religion News Service reports. The Rasta faith considers Selassie to be the incarnation of God. Although observances of his birthday vary among Rastafarians, honoring his life and accomplishments is customarily done in community.
Born in Ethiopia in 1892 as Täfäri Mäkonnän. Selassie traced his lineage back to the first emperor of Ethiopia, Menelik I, who, in turn is believed to be a descendent of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, according Charles A. Price, a Rastafari scholar at Temple University, a practicing Rasta, in an interview he gave to the Religion News Service.
GOVERNMENT MEDIA VETERAN BLAKE ZEFF JOINS COMPTROLLER LANDER’S STAFF
CITYWIDE —New York City Comptroller Brad Lander appointed Blake Zeff to the role of deputy comptroller for communications and strategic initiatives. As a member of the comptroller’s leadership team, Zeff, a Brooklynite who started his new position on July 5, will guide the office’s work to promote efficiency and accountability in city government. He oversees the city comptroller’s daily media, digital and visual communications operations in all five boroughs, and he manages an extensive portfolio of initiatives designed to help government deliver for all New Yorkers. A veteran of New York government and politics, Zeff led communications for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, served as communications director for the New York State Democratic Party and represented the Obama for America campaign as New York State communications director.
Zeff also served as director of communications and policy for the Office of the New York Attorney General, where he helped found the Conviction Review Unit, the first statewide effort by a law enforcement agency to address wrongful convictions.
CARROLL GARDENS TENANT GROUP FIGHTS EVICTION BEFORE LOW-INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDITS EXPIRE
CARROLL GARDENS —Longtime residents of 63 Tiffany Place, one of the last affordable housing buildings in Carroll Gardens, face eviction as the property’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) regulatory agreement expires on Dec. 31, but they have gained the support of local elected officials, City Comptroller Brad Lander, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and City Councilmember Shahana Hanif. Together, they are urging the building owner, Irving Langer, as well as city and state agencies, to reach an agreement to preserve 63 Tiffany Place as affordable housing. Developers in the 1980s and ’90s originally purchased the building, a former warehouse situated west of the BQE trench, to convert it into residential condominium units. But unable to sell any, the developers then sold the foreclosed building to Related Companies to rent as LIHTC-regulated affordable rental units.
Although the building received substantial tax benefits that required many of these apartments to be rent stabilized, the building owners now claim that the units are actually still condos and therefore that rent stabilization protections cannot apply to these properties — even after exclusively operating them as affordable rental housing for nearly 30 years.
NYPD BLACKS OUT POLICE SCANNER FREQUENCIES, INDICATES ‘NO PLAN’ TO RESTORE ACCESS TO THE PRESS
CITYWIDE —The news media’s ability to report on developing emergencies, fires and crimes-in-progress could be in danger, following a July 17 blackout of six NYPD precinct radio frequencies serving northern Brooklyn, according to a report in amNY. The frequency blackout is reversing a 91-year precedent — dating from 1932 — of giving the press and the public access to alerts about fires, crimes and other emergencies. NYPD officials have indicated there is “no plan as yet” to include the media, and are moreover indicating that the move is a strategy to stay ahead of criminals who could be spying on police activity.
According to a Feb. 7, 2023 article in The Freelance, a radio scanner blackout policy had been in the works for some time. City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams declined to commit to passing a law that would public access and accountability. It turns out that City Council in 2021 had already secured $21 million for an NYPD radio upgrade to a digital system capable of encryption, when Corey Johnson was speaker.
STATE’S FISCAL OUTLOOK GRIM: COMPTROLLER
STATEWIDE – IN A REPORT RELEASED LAST WEEK, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli projected that ongoing fiscal issues would drive up the state’s budget gaps to a cumulative $36.4 billion over the next four years. Issues highlighted in the report include lower tax revenue due to a weak economy and volatile stock market, as well as spending increases and a net migration of high-earners out of the state. In addition to realigning spending with income, DiNapoli also called for the state to increase its “rainy day fund,” transferring $13.2 billion in state money into that fund on a monthly basis throughout the fiscal year.
“While there is no quick fix, a proactive approach by state leaders to align recurring revenues with recurring spending could help preserve the economic competitiveness of our state and avoid cuts to critical programs New Yorkers rely on,” DiNapoli said.
DOMINICAN HERITAGE CELEBRATION AT BORO HALL
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – BROOKLYN BP ANTONIO REYNOSO IS HOSTING a celebration of Dominican heritage at Brooklyn Borough Hall this Thursday, featuring food, music, merengue dancing lessons and cultural displays. Reynoso, whose parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic, promises to serve up “the absolute best of Dominican food with everything from pollo al horno [roast chicken,] maduros [plantains,] yuca, pernil [pork shoulder,] a DR flag cake, and even more.”
The event will take place on Thursday, July 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; online RSVPs are requested but not mandatory.
BAY RIDGE CENTURY 21 SITE TO BE REVAMPED AS URBAN MALL
BAY RIDGE – A BAY RIDGE BUILDING THAT formerly housed Century 21’s flagship department store will be redeveloped by the chain’s former owners into a 150,000-square-foot “urban hub” shopping center, reports the Brooklyn Paper, repurposing the shuttered 86th Street store and 15 buildings around it into an open-air mall to be filled with grocery stores and local and chain retailers. Councilmember Justin Brannan helped broker the deal, telling the Paper, “A rising tide lifts all boats — the more people shopping on 86th Street, the more economic activity we’ll see for our small businesses and restaurants along 3rd and 5th Avenues.”
This newspaper speculated on the possibility of such a revitalization after Century 21’s owners reopened a lower Manhattan location of the store last year, when they told the Eagle that plans for the Bay Ridge site were in the works.
EXOTIC DANCER KIDNAPPED FROM CLUB TELLS OF DARING ESCAPE
CONEY ISLAND – A DANCER KIDNAPPED FROM A CONEY ISLAND gentlemen’s club two weeks ago managed to escape her captors after being drugged, reports News 12, jumping out of a moving car onto a New Jersey highway and running away on a broken ankle. The dancer, Denise Jones, 40, said that she was approached by two female acquaintances while dancing earlier this month, who bought her a drink, but that she began to feel woozy after consuming it, and agreed to let them drive her a short distance home – only to awake miles away, and hear a phone call between the women and another man discussing selling her body.
News 12 reports that Perth Amboy police are investigating the matter; Jones says that the police have footage of her captors.
STATEN ISLAND TO JOIN NJ IN SUIT VS CONGESTION PRICING PLAN
STATEN ISLAND – STATEN ISLAND OFFICIALS WILL JOIN THEIR NEW Jersey counterparts in a lawsuit over NYC’s controversial congestion pricing plan for Manhattan, reports ABC News, citing concerns over costs to commuters as well as potential air pollution from suburban drivers who might try to dodge tolls by parking in Staten Island and taking the ferry into the city. New Jersey leaders have been vocal about their distaste for the current congestion pricing plan for some time, and have ramped up efforts against it since the city received a crucial nod from the federal government in May; the lawsuit was officially launched on Friday on the grounds of insufficient environmental impact review, although the MTA has pushed back against this claim.
Staten Island BP Vito Fossella told ABC that the congestion plan, which could see tolls as high as $23 levied on cars driving into lower Manhattan, would effectively add a third toll for Staten commuters – after the Verrazano Bridge and Battery Tunnel – who have scanty access to public transit: “”[W]e don’t have the mass transit infrastructure that the other boroughs have. Those were conscious decisions by the MTA to shortchange and keep Staten Island out of it,” Fossella said.
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