What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, August 2, 2023
NEW HOTEL AT OLD WBURG HOTSPOT COMMISSIONS ROOF MURAL
WILLIAMSBURG — HOSPITALITY GROUP ARLO HOTELS IN JULY DEBUTED AN UNMISTAKABLE new art piece for the future site of the rooftop pool at its upcoming Arlo Williamsburg hotel: a 20-by-23-foot abstract mural by L.A. graffiti artist ThankYouX, placed beneath the hotel’s signature water tower. According to Arlo, the piece features the artist’s “signature geometric cubes with vibrant abstract color tones… [It] draws inspiration from the panoramic views atop the hotel: a breathtaking, all-encompassing sunset; the extensive rooftops blending into the horizon; the mighty East River; and beyond, stretching as far as the eye can see.”
The Arlo Williamsburg is taking over the building once occupied by the Williamsburg Hotel, which was sold in April after years of contentious ownership disputes. The new hotel is set to open this fall.
FEDERAL JURY RECOMMENDS DEATH SENTENCE
FOR CONVICTED MASS SHOOTER
IN 2018 SYNAGOGUE ATTACK
PITTSBURGH, PA — A FEDERAL JURY RECOMMENDED THE DEATH PENALTY on Wednesday, Aug. 2, for the gunman who perpetrated the worst antisemitic attack in the nation’s history, reports the Associated Press. The same federal jury who convicted mass shooter Robert Bowers, 50, on 63 criminal counts, recommended that he be executed for the Oct. 27, 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, which he chose for its significance as a major Jewish community, and where he killed 11 worshipers and wounded six.
That jury had unanimously determined that Bowers’ attack was motivated by his hatred of Jews. A judge will formally impose the sentence at a later date.
NEW ACADEMIC PARTNERSHIP
WILL ENABLE STUDENTS TO VOLUNTEER
HELPING ASYLUM SEEKER FIND WORK
CITYWIDE — NEW YORK CITY’S ASYLUM APPLICATION HELP CENTER has assisted migrants submit more than 1,300 asylum applications since it opened at the end of June, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Wednesday, Aug. 2. The center, which has helped thousands of families progress towards receiving work authorization, is receiving another boost with a new consortium between the city and higher education centers, the Mayor also said. New York University (NYU) is leading a consortium of four schools that will give undergraduate and graduate student application assistants the opportunity to volunteer at the clinic. Also participating are Columbia University; New York Law School; and, City University of New York’s (CUNY) Baruch College, City College, Hunter College, and Queens College, who will sponsor three full days at the clinic this fall.
Many of the participating schools will offer students the opportunity to earn credit for time spent at the center, either in the form of courses or internships.
MAYOR’S LATEST MIGRANT SHELTER PLANS
AGAIN TARGET PUBLIC PARKS
PROSPECT PARK — MAYOR ERIC ADAMS’ LATEST PLAN TO BUILD SHELTER TENTS for the migrants and asylum seekers in the city’s public parks, including Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and Manhattan’s Central Park, is being met with raised eyebrows and resignation, according to Gothamist, WNYC’s news website. The city reported it has run out of space for the asylum seekers, who are already camped outside the Roosevelt Hotel, the site of an intake center. An unnamed city official told Gothamist that Prospect Park is among the green spaces being considered. Meanwhile, although Mayor Adams was set to make an official announcement of his plans, he canceled his Wednesday morning press conference within 40 minutes of its scheduled start time.
Some of the reader comments pointed out that the summer’s frequent and severe thunderstorms have become a major issue, making outdoor shelters unsafe and impractical.
FLATBUSH CAT GROUP TO OPEN NEW SPAY/NEUTER CLINIC
FLATBUSH — CAT RESCUE ORGANIZATION FLATBUSH CATS IS SET TO HOLD THE GRAND OPENING of a new low-cost spay and neuter clinic later this month, hosted by cat behavior specialist Jackson Galaxy, with the mission of reducing future kitten populations by fixing adult cats today; the new clinic will be able to deliver thousands of sterilization surgeries a year, as well as providing basic vaccines and checkups and cat rescue volunteer training to area residents. The charity says that as many as 50% of US households can’t afford basic vet visits, leading to exploding kitten populations, especially in NYC, where shelters are “flooded with thousands of kittens every year.”
The grand opening is set for Monday, Aug. 21; more information and links to donation forms can be found on the group’s webpage.
REMOTE-CONTROLLED TRASHBOTS ROLLED OUT AT ALBEE SQUARE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — TWO REMOTELY-OPERATED MECHANIZED TRASH CANS have been deployed at Albee Square in Downtown Brooklyn to collect the debris of lunchtime crowds, reports Spectrum News, part of a partnership between the Downtown Brooklyn Alliance and Cornell University’s Roosevelt Island tech campus that’s focused on studying the reaction to automated service drones in public areas. The two “trashbots” are large cans mounted on top of repurposed electric hoverboards with cameras attached to allow the operators to scan the area; they have a range of around half a block and a battery life of three to four hours.
Spectrum reports that Cornell plans to roll out more trashbots in areas around the five boroughs in the future.
NYPD LIEUTENANT ARRESTED OVER SEX ABUSE, DEATH THREAT ALLEGATIONS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — BROOKLYN NYPD LIEUTENANT WIDLER LUCAS WAS ARRESTED ON Tuesday morning on charges of criminal sexual acts, sexual misconduct and aggravated harassment, according to police. The New York Post reports that the charges come after a bombshell lawsuit filed by a former coworker and onetime girlfriend in April accused Lucas of forcing her to give him oral sex in June 2021, then later threatening to kill her and push her in front of a train if she spoke up.
Lucas had been reassigned to the Brooklyn court system following the filing of the lawsuit and has now been suspended without pay; his court date is Oct. 12.
DEPT OF LABOR WINS $95K FOR OVERWORKED HEALTH AIDE
BROOKLYN — THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ON TUESDAY announced that it had secured a $95,000 settlement for a Brooklyn health aide who was denied adequate sleep time during 24-hour shifts and underpaid for hours worked. DOL investigators determined that from March 2014 to June 2020, a home care aide employed by Preferred Home Care of New York worked 24-hour shifts and did not receive adequate sleep time; the settlement was intended to compensate the aide for this violation, including overtime pay.
Employers are required to pay home care aides 13 hours for each 24-hour shift they are assigned; employees must also receive at least three hours of break time and eight hours of sleep time, five of which must be uninterrupted. The DOL can be contacted or consulted online on their state webpage.
LYFT TO DONATE RIDE SERVICES TO AID MIGRANT RESETTLEMENT
CITYWIDE — CARSHARE RIDE SERVICE LYFT ON TUESDAY announced that it would be providing the New York Immigration Coalition with thousands of free and discounted ride codes to be used in their efforts to mitigate the refugee crisis through the end of the year. NYIC staff will be able to use the codes to summon car services to transport people to and from services and housing, while some codes will also be provided to migrants using the group’s programs who have access to mobile phones.
The grant is made possible through Lyft Up’s Refugee Access program, which supports refugees throughout the U.S. with ride codes for resettlement agencies and through partnerships with coalitions.
QUEENS MAN GETS 21 YEARS FOR STABBING EX IN FRONT OF SON
FLATBUSH — BROOKLYN DA ERIC GONZALEZ ON TUESDAY announced that Muneshwar Bira, 37, of Queens, has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for stabbing his ex-girlfriend in front of her teenage son; on the morning of June 4, 2021, Bira broke into the victim’s Flatbush apartment with a knife in hand and tried to stab the victim about her head — and after his first knife broke, the defendant used two additional knives to continue the assault. The victim was wounded but used her arms to ward off attacks while calling out to her 15-year-old son for help; the teen called 911, summoning police to an apartment “covered in blood.” The victim was taken to Kings County Hospital and treated for severe injuries, including a life-threatening wound to her right arm.
During his trial, on April 5, 2023, the defendant failed to return to court following an afternoon break, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest on April 10, 2023. He was picked up on a warrant in Florida and had to be extradited back to New York.
HOCHUL TO COMMIT $406M FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
STATEWIDE — GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL ON TUESDAY ANNOUNCED THAT the state plans to commit $406 million in state funding to build housing in the NYC area, including in Brooklyn, reports Spectrum News, as part of an ongoing effort to alleviate the city’s housing crisis. Those dollars, including $120 million in subsidies and $286 million in housing bonds, will be used to support five new development projects, generating 800 units of affordable housing overall.
This new investment comes on top of a previous commitment made by Hochul last month of $650 million for new affordable communities, as well as a replacement program for the expired 421a development tax break targeted to spur growth in Gowanus.
BIGGIE STATUE MOVED TO BORO HALL
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — THE STATUE OF LEGENDARY RAPPER NOTORIOUS B.I.G. THAT has been in Clumber Corner park near the Brooklyn Bridge since December of last year is this week moving a short distance to Columbus Park, in front of the EDNY courthouse and Borough Hall. Brooklyn BP Antonio Reynoso will preside over a short dedication ceremony for the statue on Wednesday, August 2, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the statue’s new home; the event will also feature DJ and dance performances and activities for kids.
The statue of the famous rapper has been on display for several months, and features solar-powered speakers playing a playlist of B.I.G.’s biggest hits.
ATTEMPTED ASSAULT AT BORO HALL SUBWAY
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – POLICE ARE SEARCHING FOR AN UNIDENTIFIED INDIVIDUAL WHO ON the afternoon of Thursday, July 13, approached a 24-year-old woman inside of the Jay Street-Borough Hall subway station on the Brooklyn-bound A train platform, then pulled the victim’s hair and displayed a knife before fleeing on the next train. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
Anyone with information in regard to 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 their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.
SECOND YOUNG PROFESSIONAL VANISHES FROM POPULAR WBURG NIGHTCLUB
WILLIAMSBURG – A 27-YEAR-OLD GOLDMAN SACHS ANALYST VANISHED early Saturday morning from the popular Williamsburg club Brooklyn Mirage inside the Avant Gardner venue, reports Patch, the second such incident this summer, including the disappearance of psychologist Karl Clemente, whose body was found in the Newtown Creek in June after last being seen outside the venue. The analyst, John Castic, whose friends say they’ve combed the area looking for him, was last seen leaving the club around 3 a.m.; his phone was last detected crossing the Metropolitan Avenue bridge.
Police have not released any updates on the causes of Clemente’s death, but say that anyone with information in regard to this incident should 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 crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.
BROOKLYN’S REP. MALLIOTAKIS APPOINTED TO HOUSE-KNESSET FRIENDSHIP GROUP
BAY RIDGE/DYKER HEIGHTS — CONGRESSWOMAN NICOLE MALLIOTAKIS (R-11) HAS BEEN APPOINTED to the historic House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The bipartisan group of 12 members is tasked with engaging more directly with and strengthening the relationship between Congress and the 120 members of Israel’s Knesset. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-15/South Bronx), is one of four Congress members from the New York state delegation (including Rep. Malliotakis) and one of five Democrats in the Parliamentary Friendship Group.
Malliotakis, whose district encompasses Staten Island and southern Brooklyn, represents a large Jewish population and has been locally supportive of Jewish organizations and our ally, Israel. In Congress, Malliotakis serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means which overseas trade, and previously served on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Israel is the first Country Malliotakis visited as a member of Congress.
NURSES AT PUBLIC HOSPITALS WIN MAJOR CONTRACT
CITYWIDE — NURSES SERVING IN NYC’S PUBLIC HOSPITAL SYSTEM HAVE WON a historic contract that includes pay parity and safe staffing. Members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), on the eve of the deadline, have won a new contract with NYC Health+Hospitals, mayoral agencies and the City of New York, with a package that includes an award for pay parity and safe staffing, several agreements to improve nurse retention, and the creation of a citywide nurse float pool to improve staffing and reduce the overreliance on temporary travel nurse contracts. Most nurses’ salaries will increase by about 37% or at least $32,000 over a contract period stretching five and a half years.
The five-and-a-half-year contract comes after a month of expedited mediation and then impasse arbitration. Now the package will be shared with NYSNA members and an endorsement vote will be held by Saturday, Aug. 5.
TRAGEDY IN NEW JERSEY AS ACTING GOVERNOR DIES SUDDENLY
TRENTON, NJ — NEW JERSEY IS MOURNING ITS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, SHEILA OLIVER, who died unexpectedly on Tuesday while filling in for Gov. Phil Murphy, who is currently overseas on vacation. Lt. Gov. Oliver, 71, the first Black woman appointed to serve as lieutenant governor of New Jersey and the first woman of color elected to statewide office in New Jersey, was hospitalized on Monday, July 31, after announcing that she would not be able to continue serving as acting governor during Gov. Phil Murphy’s absence, according to several news reports.
Oliver stepped up as acting governor last Friday, July 28, 2023, when Governor Murphy went on vacation in Italy. Until Murphy’s return on Aug. 13, New Jersey Senate President Nicholas Scutari has assumed the role of acting governor, as the New Jersey State Constitution stipulates.
NEW BILL WOULD REQUIRE ANTI-SPEEDING DEVICES IN REPEAT OFFENDERS’ VEHICLES
ATLANTIC AVENUE — PUSHING TO END DEATHS RELATED TO SPEEDING, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher and other safety advocates on Tuesday, Aug. 1, announced a new bill that would require chronically reckless drivers to have speed-limit devices installed in their vehicles. The bill, which was introduced in a press conference at the intersection where a pedestrian was struck and killed in April, would require drivers with more than six speed-camera violations (or enough points on their licenses to warrant a revoke or suspension) to have speed limiter devices installed in their cars, vans or trucks. Such devices have been shown to reduce traffic deaths by 37%.
Joining the state legislators at the site of 156 Atlantic Ave., where 31-year-old Katherine Harris was struck by an alleged drunk driver who ran a red light on April 16, were Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, and family members who have lost loved ones to traffic violence.
‘BIG APPLE CONNECT’ EXPANDS TO 7 NEW BROOKLYN HOUSING SITES
BOROUGHWIDE — “BIG APPLE CONNECT,” WHICH MAYOR ERIC ADAMS LAUNCHED last September, is being expanded to 17 new public housing developments, including seven locations in Brooklyn, the mayor announced on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Building on the success of the program’s first two phases, which prioritized New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments with limited or no subsidized broadband options, the Aug. 1, 2023 expansion answers calls from tenant associations and elected officials to expand the initiative, which now reaches a total of 220 NYCHA facilities. Free in-home internet and basic cable TV will be delivered to a total of more than 330,000 in 150,000 households citywide, including Red Hook East and Red Hook West; Atlantic Terminal Site 4B; the Kingsborough Houses and Kingsborough Extension; 303 Vernon Avenue in Bushwick and Woodson housing in Brownsville.
The program, which is the largest municipal broadband program in the country, has saved NYCHA residents tens of millions of dollars since its inception, according to service providers.
MAIMONIDES MOVES UP 12 SPOTS IN NATIONAL HOSPITAL RANKINGS REPORT
BOROUGH PARK — MAIMONIDES MEDICAL CENTER, THE LARGEST TERTIARY MEDICAL CENTER in Brooklyn, has received high marks from the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals ranking for 2023–24 in multiple specialties. U.S. News & World Report ranked Maimonides Adult Specialties as “High Performing” in four areas for the first time: geriatrics; orthopedics; pulmonology and lung surgery, and urology. The hospital, now tied at number 17 in the New York State regional category, moved up 12 spots since last year’s rankings.
Maimonides was also rated High Performing in 12 categories for Common Adult Procedure and Condition ratings: COPD, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, hip fracture, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, pneumonia, and stroke. This is also up from last year when the hospital was ranked High Performing in eight categories.
MTA STARTS FARE HIKE EARLY ‘BY ACCIDENT’
CITYWIDE – COMMUTERS WERE LEFT DISGRUNTLED ON MONDAY AFTER a mistake caused some OMNY fare readers to begin charging the new increased fares set to go into effect later this month, reports The City, three weeks ahead of schedule. Faced with complaints from angry riders, the agency was able to roll back the bugs by 9 a.m., and says that anyone who paid the accidentally inflated fare will be automatically refunded.
The unpopular fare hikes were passed in July, and will see small increases on all MTA travel lines, with base fares set to rise from $2.75 to $2.90 per trip.
CITY TO CLAMP DOWN ON TAKEOUT NAPKINS, UTENSILS, SAUCE PACKETS
CITYWIDE – A NEW CITY LAW TOOK EFFECT ON MONDAY TARGETING waste from meal takeout and delivery services that will bar restaurants from offering disposable paper and plastic products to customers unless specifically asked for. The legislation also mandates that customers be allowed to request eating utensils, paper napkins, condiment packets and other sundries on delivery apps, but these items will be opt-in only – so remember to click “yes” if you plan to eat away from home.
The law also governs extra takeaway containers.
‘EUPHORIA’ ACTOR ANGUS CLOUD PASSES AWAY AGE 25
CALIFORNIA — ACTOR ANGUS CLOUD, WHO STARRED IN HBO’S hit drama “Euphoria,” was found deceased in his Oakland home on Monday morning by his family, reports the Daily Mail, after experiencing what sources describe as emotional turmoil following the death of his father last month. Cloud was discovered by a talent scout while working as a waiter in the Prospect Heights restaurant Woodland in 2018, and became an overnight success after taking on the part of young drug dealer Fezco in the teen drama.
Oakland police did not release any information on the actor’s cause of death.
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