Brooklyn Boro

What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, August 15, 2023

August 15, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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VOLUNTEERS SPRUCE UP HEIGHTS PROMENADE GARDENS

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — VOLUNTEERS ROBIN KLOR AND KOREN VOLK, and NYC Parks Gardener Anil Chandrakumar amassed piles of weeds on Tuesday morning as they spruced up the Promenade Gardens. The medieval-looking apparatus in the hands of Chandrakumar is a pole saw, used to remove honey locust thorns. The Brooklyn Heights Association’s Promenade Gardens Conservancy not only cares for the gardens along the Promenade, but has expanded its activities to the gardens around Cadman Plaza Park and Brooklyn Borough Hall, where fun gardening events and compost giveaways are scheduled for this fall. 

If you’d like to get involved with the Promenade Gardeners, email the PGC at [email protected]. For information about the Cadman Park Conservancy, email [email protected].

From left: PGC volunteers Robin Klor and Koren Volk, and NYC Parks Gardener Anil Chandrakumar hard at work on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade Gardens on Tuesday morning.
Photo: Mary Frost/Brooklyn Eagle

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ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES:
RENTAL CAR COMPANIES ILLEGALLY DENIED
SERVICE TO THOSE WITHOUT CREDIT CARDS

STATEWIDE — A MAJOR CAR RENTAL GROUP MUST PAY NEW YORK STATE $275,000 in penalties over the illegal denial of rental cars to consumers without credit cards, as the result of NYS Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into this practice. The Office of the Attorney General found that 74 Avis Car Rental and Budget Rent a Car locations across New York informed customers that a credit card was required to rent a vehicle, in violation of New York state law, which prohibits rental vehicle companies from enforcing this practice. Moreover, several Avis and Budget locations displayed signs indicating that they did not accept debit cards. The Attorney General’s Office is requiring Avis Budget Group Inc. to update its policy and provide staff training on it.

Most rental car companies allow individuals without a credit card to rent a vehicle by placing a cash deposit or a hold on a debit card.

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LAWSUIT OVER FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT
IS ‘BASELESS,’ SAY CITY PENSION FUNDS

CITYWIDE — THREE OF NEW YORK CITY’S PENSION FUNDS HAVE FILED A MOTION TO DISMISS what they call a baseless lawsuit that challenges their decision to stop investing in publicly-traded securities of fossil fuel reserve owners. Filed in May, the lawsuit (Wong et al v. NYCERS) claimed that the three Systems (Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Employees’ Retirement System, and Board of Education Retirement System) breached their fiduciary duties in the years-long process of divesting from fossil fuel companies. However, the plaintiffs, who are four current public employees, admit that the divestment decision does not impact the guaranteed retirement benefits they will receive many years from now.

City Comptroller Brad Lander pointed out that the retirement systems “are implementing ambitious and well-researched plans to address the responsibility that investment managers and portfolio companies have to assess the material risks of climate change.” He asserted that the lawsuit really seeks to protect fossil fuel companies rather than future retirees.

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M TRAIN SERVICE SUSPENDED
FOR SWITCH REPLACEMENT

BOROUGHWIDE — THE M TRAIN WILL BE COMPLETELY OUT OF SERVICE for a week, starting on Wednesday, Aug. 30, for track reconstruction work, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on Monday, Aug. 14. Starting at 9:45 p.m. on Aug. 30, M train service will be shut down until Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 5 a.m., (just after the Labor Day weekend), so that crews can remove and replace the switches just south of the Middle Village-Metropolitan Ave. station.

Free M90 shuttle buses will accommodate M train riders between the Middle Village-Metropolitan Ave. terminal and Brooklyn’s Myrtle Ave. station. Buses will make all station stops from Middle Village-Metropolitan Av to Myrtle Av, where riders can connect to J and Z train service through Brooklyn, to Delancey St-Essex St. Riders can also transfer from the M90 to the L train at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs for Manhattan-bound service.

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ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS QUESTION CITY’S
NEW POLICY OF PLASTIC BAGS FOR COMPOST

CITYWIDE — ENVIRONMENTALISTS ARE QUESTIONING the city’s plan to allow plastic bags for yard waste pickup, saying that the use of plastic undermines the idea of composting, reports Gothamist. The new policy accompanies the Sanitation Department’s mandatory rollout to separate yard waste (which includes leaves and twigs, but not soil) from other trash. Previously, paper bags and bins were the only permitted receptacles for yard waste, and Rhonda Keyser of the Brooklyn Solid Waste Advisory Board is urging a quick return to that policy.

Later this year, Brooklyn will be brought into the mandatory composting policy, which already took effect in Queens.

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CHILDREN’S ‘SUMMER VILLAGE’ AT BORO HALL

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — BROOKLYN BP ANTONIO REYNOSO IS HOSTING a Children’s “Summer Village” activity day at Borough Hall this Wednesday, open to youngsters from kindergarten through 5th grade and their parents. The event will feature a fencing demonstration, storytime with the Brooklyn Public Library, snow cones, dancing, magic, face painting, a pop-up flower park for kids to play in, and an interactive building station.

The Summer Village will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Borough Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 16; attendance is free, but online RSVPs are requested.

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BIDEN: 800K BORROWERS WILL HAVE STUDENT DEBT CANCELED

NATIONWIDE — PRESIDENT BIDEN ON MONDAY ANNOUNCED IN A PRESS STATEMENT THAT 804,000 STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS who had previously applied for income-based repayment plans will be receiving significant credit toward their loans, with 614,000 of those borrowers having their entire debt loads canceled. The president stated that his administration had determined that errors and administrative failures under previous presidents had resulted in this group of debtors not being accurately credited for their payments under the terms of their forgiveness plans, which are intended to forgive the remaining loan balance for borrowers who make payments for periods of 20 to 25 years.

The announcement comes alongside the launch of the new SAVE student loan repayment program, which will limit payments to 5% of a borrower’s monthly income and potentially cut payments to $0 for some low-income borrowers, as well as limiting interest accrual.

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CITY HALL HALTS BIKE LANE AFTER DEVELOPER COMPLAINS

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A TOP AIDE TO MAYOR ADAMS PUMPED THE BRAKES ON A PROTECTED BIKE LANE planned for Ashland Place (near the Barclays Center) after developer Two Trees made private complaints about the project, which could block access to one of its parking garages, according to administration sources who spoke anonymously to StreetsBlog. A City Hall spokesman denied that aide Ingrid Lewis-Martin had intervened with the DOT to halt the bike lane’s construction, but a Two Trees representative appeared to acknowledge that its complaints had been heard, writing in a statement, “Not every effort to improve a project is an indictment of the end goal.”

The Ashland Place bike lane project, which would connect busy bike routes coming from Manhattan to those in central Brooklyn, has faced other opposition within the community from BAM, whose loading docks would be impacted by the lane’s placement.

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1 DEAD, 3 INJURED IN BROWNSVILLE FIRE

BROWNSVILLE — ONE PERSON PASSED AWAY IN THE HOSPITAL ON MONDAY AFTER A MAJOR FIRE on the top floor of a six-story Brownsville apartment building that afternoon, reports Gothamist, with three others also sustaining injuries from the fire, two serious. FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Carney told reporters that emergency responders arriving at the scene around 2 p.m. had discovered two people who jumped from the top floor to avoid the fire and were immediately treated; two others were rescued from the burning apartment, where firefighters were able to keep the “very heavy” blaze contained despite difficult conditions.

Carney also said that the department believed the fire may have been suspicious, and that its origins would be investigated.

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CITY BANS TIKTOK FROM OFFICIAL PHONES

CITYWIDE — MAYOR ADAMS’ CHIEF INFORMATION SECURITY OFFICER ON FRIDAY ISSUED AN ORDER BANNING the installation or use of video-sharing app TikTok on city government phones and computers, reports Politico, following in the footsteps of the state and federal governments, which enacted similar bans in 2020 and 2022, respectively. The Chinese app has been the subject of multiple ban attempts recently, including a total ban in Montana currently being challenged in court by developer ByteDance as cybersecurity researchers warn that the company may collaborate with or be forced by the Chinese government to hand over sensitive user data.

New York state’s ban has an exception for public relations TikTok accounts, which make short-form videos to communicate with the public; it’s unclear whether the city will make similar allowances for the NYPD and FDNY, which both operate their own accounts on the service.

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ADAMS APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY MAYOR FOR COMMUNICATIONS

CITYWIDE — MAYOR ADAMS ON MONDAY ANNOUNCED THE APPOINTMENT OF HIS FORMER PRESS SECRETARY Fabien Levy as the new Deputy Mayor for Communications, the seventh deputy mayor appointed so far. The mayor claimed that the intention behind this move is to centralize city communications and reduce confusion, saying, “the antiquated method of communicating with your constituency of just through the daily tabloids, it’s just not acceptable anymore. We have to communicate directly to our consumers;” the New York Times, however, expressed concern that City Hall might see this as an opportunity to avoid unflattering press coverage.

The Times, which characterized Levy in his previous role as “an attack dog in response to news coverage that the mayor dislikes,” reports that this appointment will see Levy’s salary bumped from around $211,000 to over $250,000.

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GOLDMAN INTRODUCES ‘COOL OFF’ ACT: 3-DAY WAIT FOR HANDGUNS 

WASHINGTON — U.S. REP. DAN GOLDMAN ON MONDAY JOINED FELLOW REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI TO INTRODUCE the Choosing Our Own Lives Over Fast Firearms, or “COOL-OFF” Act, to Congress, which would institute a national waiting period of three business days for all handgun sales. A press release from Goldman’s office cites the Giffords Law Center in saying that state-level waiting periods have been shown to reduce gun homicides by 17% and suicide deaths by at least 7%; supporters say the extra time would give law enforcement agencies the ability to conduct additional background checks. 

Goldman, who frequently works to strengthen gun regulations, last week cosponsored a package of legislation that would establish a federal “red flag” program, which would allow judges to temporarily confiscate firearms under certain conditions, and create grant programs to support state and local red flag programs.

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KINGS THEATRE IN FLATBUSH WILL
HOST TALK WITH DR. JANE GOODALL

FLATBUSH — WORLD-RENOWNED ETHOLOGIST AND ACTIVIST DR. JANE GOODALL AND HER REASONS FOR HOPE TOUR STOPS IN BROOKLYN in September for a talk at the Kings Theatre. Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a UN Messenger of Peace, is known for groundbreaking studies of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, which forever changed our understanding of humankind’s relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom. She will discuss her work, her life and will answer audience questions at a 3 p.m. talk on Saturday, Sept. 30. (Tickets, starting at $64.50, go on sale this Friday, Aug. 18; reservations via Ticketmaster.com.)

Dr. Goodall spoke at the Brooklyn Museum on April 3 — her 89th birthday — to a sold-out audience.

Dr. Jane Goodall celebrated her 89th birthday on April 3rd during a talk at the Brooklyn Museum. She was treated to a whiskey toast by Mona Chalabi who led the audience in a round of ‘Happy Birthday.’
Photo: Beth Eisgrau-Heller/Brooklyn Eagle

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BROOKLYN DIOCESE MARKS FEAST DAY FOR KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS FOUNDER

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — THE DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN on Sunday, Aug. 13, celebrated its third feast day at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph for Blessed Father Michael McGivney, who founded the Knights of Columbus and is on the journey to sainthood, having already been beatified in October 2020, reports the Tablet. The Diocese of Brooklyn has 15,000 Knights of Columbus, according to Father Michael Gelfant, the associate state chaplain and a diocesan liaison for the New York state Knights of Columbus Council.

An apostolic letter from the Vatican officially declared Father McGivney as“blessed” on Oct. 31, 2020, commending “zeal for the proclamation of the Gospel and generous concern for his brothers and sisters.” Fr. McGivney, born on August 12, 1852, died two days after his 38th birthday, on Aug. 14, 1890. Accordingly, the Roman Catholic Church selected the day in between as his patronal feast.

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UBS AGREES TO PAY $1.435B IN PENALTIES FOR MISREPRESENTING SALE OF SECURITIES

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — THE FINANCIAL INSTITUTION UBS AG AND SEVERAL OF ITS U.S.-BASED AFFILIATES HAVE AGREED TO PAY $1.435 billion in penalties to settle a civil action filed in November 2018, alleging misconduct, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced in Brooklyn on Monday, Aug. 14. The settlement resolves claims that misrepresentations were made in the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities that were issued in 2006 and 2007. This settlement resolves the last case brought by a Department of Justice Working Group dedicated to investigating the conduct of banks and other entities for their roles in creating and issuing RMBS leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.

This settlement, in which UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland) will pay the United States $1,435,000,000 in civil penalties in exchange for dismissal of the complaint filed, brings the total amount of civil penalties paid by banks, originators, and ratings agencies for such securities to more than $36 billion.

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NEW SECURITY CAMERAS IN SOUTHERN BROOKLYN

CONEY ISLAND — COUNCILMEMBER ARI KAGAN ON SUNDAY ANNOUNCED that he had secured around $400,000 in capital funding that will be used to invest in security upgrades for Coney Island and his southern Brooklyn district, reports News 12. Funded projects will include $150,000 to purchase an undercover police van and $240,000 for new security cameras in high-traffic areas and in NYCHA housing, as well as $1000 for each precinct community council; it could take up to a year for the installation of the cameras to take place.

Kagan told News 12 that he was glad to serve as an intermediary between the NYPD and the community; new camera locations will include Kaiser Park and on the boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue and between 28th and 29th streets.

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FEDS SAY NO TO HOUSING MIGRANTS AT FLOYD BENNETT

MARINE PARK — THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ON SUNDAY PUT THE BRAKES ON A PLAN FROM Governor Hochul to erect temporary housing for asylum-seekers at Floyd Bennett Field, reports the New York Post, citing logistical and organizational issues as its reason for denying the go-ahead for a proposed camp at the site, which is overseen by the National Parks Service. Hochul later told reporters that the state was still interested in pursuing the plan, saying that she remained optimistic that those hurdles could be overcome: “I did not take away from that a hard ‘no.’ So I think it’s just gonna be an evolving process.”

Currently, there are just 44 campsites available at the former military airfield; last year, the Parks Service was seeking proposals to use the available land for a very different purpose: luxury “glamping” sites.

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BROOKLYN SENIORS TARGETED IN SCAM INVOLVING COVID TESTS,  SURPRISE FEES

BAY RIDGE/DYKER HTS. — SENIOR CITIZENS IN BROOKLYN WHO HAVE RECEIVED UNSOLICITED COVID TESTS IN THE MAIL — followed by surprise charges on their monthly Medicare statements — are urged to report this to the Medicare Fraud Office (1-800-633-4227), according to a notice from Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwestern Brooklyn). Malliotakis and Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella have received several complaints from seniors who have received these tests over the past several months, the charges for which appear on monthly Medicare statements. Medicare will issue new cards to replace the compromised numbers. Congresswoman Malliotakis, who sits on the House Committee on Ways & Means, is urging the committee to investigate this issue.

“One of my constituents received 140 COVID test kits over several months that were billed to his Medicare account,” said Malliotakis, whose Brooklyn District Office phone number is (718) 306-1620.

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NY POST:  BAY RIDGE PET GROOMING STORE CLOSING, OWNER CITES CRIME, FILTH AND ‘FAILING POLICIES’

BAY RIDGE — A BAY RIDGE PET GROOMING AND SUPPLIES MERCHANT WILL CLOSE UP SHOP on Aug. 21 and move to Florida, blaming crime and failing policies regarding safety, reported the New York Post on Monday in an exclusive story. “There’s no law and order,” declared Laura Generoso, a Bay Ridge native and owner of Wagging Tails in Bay Ridge, recalling a frightening situation last year in which an armed robbery out on the street spilled into her store. Generoso, who has been in the pet store business since 2006, opened their Fourth Avenue location five years ago.

Notices placed on the storefront door and on social media also politicians on crime, as well as filth, e-bikes and Vespas on sidewalks.

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COBBLE HILL BEAUTY SPA SHUTTERS

COBBLE HILL — COBBLE HILL LUXURY SPA SHEN HAS SHUTTERED its Court Street storefront, reports Beauty Independent, and will be pivoting to an “online-only model” following a series of disasters that left founder Jessica Richards unable to hold onto the $22,000-a-month lease. In an interview with the site, Richards describes the struggle, shared by many area small business owners, of handling the pandemic’s impact on in-person shopping and securing loans, but also the shockwaves of an ownership dispute with a former partner and the discovery of a staggering amount of theft by a former employee.

Despite the closure, Richards remains optimistic that Shen, which focuses on niche, indie and upcoming brands, can become an e-commerce success, and that her account can help other store owners avoid facing similar challenges: “It’s almost like a roadmap for every other retailer, vendor or anybody else of what not to do. But, at the end of the day, the buck stops with me. Whatever has transpired is my fault. I’m the business owner.”

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MISSING MAN IN DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN

FLATBUSH — POLICE ARE ASKING THE PUBLIC TO HELP LOCATE MISSING MAN Marlon Phillip, age 38, of Flatbush, who was last seen on the afternoon of Monday, August 7 in the vicinity of Smith Street and Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Phillip is described as male, with a dark complexion, and is approximately 6’0” and 185 pounds.

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 CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.

Missing man Marlon Philip. All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.

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POLICE SEEK GROUP THAT BEAT MAN ON SUBWAY

CARROLL GARDENS — POLICE ARE SEARCHING FOR A GROUP OF FOUR HOODLUMS who in the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 13, approached and attacked a 67-year-old man on a northbound F train. The individuals demanded money while punching the victim multiple times about the head, then stole the victim’s cellphone and senior reduced-fare MetroCard before exiting the train at the Carroll Street station and fleeing; the victim sustained minor injuries and was treated on scene by EMS.

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.

The four people suspected of attacking a senior on the F train early Sunday morning. All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.

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TEEN CHARGED AS ADULT IN DANCER’S MURDER

MIDWOOD — THE 17-YEAR-OLD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT ACCUSED OF STABBING BROOKLYN DANCER O’Shae Sibley to death during a potentially hate-fueled fight at a Midwood gas station earlier this month will be tried as an adult, reports Gothamist, and pleaded not guilty to the murder on Friday. Dmitry Popov and his attorney told reporters that they were considering making an argument for self-defense in the tragic fight, which was partially recorded on video by a surveillance camera at the station; although conflicting details of the exact events were reported by different witnesses, police now say that the teen and his group were shouting slurs at Sibley and his friends prior to the confrontation.

Sibley was laid to rest in Philadelphia, his hometown, on Tuesday, with friends and fellow dancers turning up in the hundreds to remember his life and work.

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ALLEGED CRYPTO SCAMMER HEADED BACK TO JAIL

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — THE BAIL OF FALLEN CRYPTO KING SAM BANKMAN-FRIED WAS revoked on Friday in Manhattan federal court, reports the New York Times, after a judge determined that Bankman-Fried, who stands accused of a variety of charges related to the collapse of his multi-billion-dollar cryptocurrency exchange site FTX earlier this year, had violated the terms of his pretrial house arrest. Prosecutors claimed that the accused had leaked the private journals of the trial’s presumed star witness, a former girlfriend and fellow crypto executive, to the Times in an apparent attempt to intimidate her.

Bankman-Fried was then remanded to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.

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HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER JEFFRIES WILL KEYNOTE DELEGATION FROM GUYANA

CENTRAL BROOKLYN AND WASHINGTON, DC — THE BROOKLYN-BASED CARIBBEAN GUYANA INSTITUTE FOR DEMOCRACY and the combined Guyanese diaspora organizations in the United States will convene an important conference on Guyana at the National Press Club from Sept. 27-28, at which Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D–NY/8), the House Democratic Leader, will be a keynote speaker. Jeffries’ district stretches from Crown Heights through Flatbush to Brighton Beach. The institute, on behalf of Guyanese diaspora, is convening this meeting amid concerns that U.S. policy on Guyana, a nation on the South American Atlantic coastline, has not prioritized American values such as inclusive governance, inclusive growth; equal justice; social equality and sustainable development for all Guyanese. They have also expressed alarm that their government, led by the People’s Progressive Party, is aggressively developing into an autocracy.

A high-ranking Biden administration official whose name hasn’t been released will also address the conference.

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HAMILTON H.S. ALUMNUS AMONG 10% OF NAVAL OFFICERS SERVING ABOARD SUBMARINES

FORT HAMILTON AND UNDERSEAS — BROOKLYN NATIVE AND FORT HAMILTON HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNUS Marco Medina, a Petty Officer 3rd Class, is serving on the U.S. Navy submarine aboard the USS Charlotte. While submariners comprise just 10% of the U.S. Navy’s personnel, they play a critical role in carrying out one of the Defense Department’s most important missions: strategic deterrence. Petty Officer 3rd Class Medina is one of the sailors continuing a 123-year tradition of service under the sea to help ensure Americans’ safety. While Medina admitted, “I joined the Navy to get out of New York,” he explained that he wanted a different job and experiences than most other people.

“My parents are immigrants and I’m a first-generation American,” said Medina. “I saw their hard work growing up and it stuck with me. They also taught me to be respectful to everyone.”

Petty Officer 3rd Class and Brooklyn native Marco Medina.
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel, Navy Office of Community Outreach

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KINGSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE WAS PIONEER IN FOOD PANTRIES FOR NEEDY STUDENTS

MANHATTAN BEACH AND MANHATTAN — KINGSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE WAS A FORERUNNER 11 years ago in a food pantry project that has since expanded to other schools within the CUNY system, reports the New York Times in an Aug. 14, 2023 article on Hunter College’s Purple Apron, a food pantry for students facing food insecurity. CUNY and the Food Bank for New York partnered through Kingsborough in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A 2022 survey found that about 40% of CUNY students — approximately 110,000 students across 25 campuses citywide — have to contend with “low” or “very low” food security, affecting their ability to focus on their studies.

Purple Apron, which received a recent visit from Félix Matos Rodríguez, City College chancellor, and Leslie Gordon, president and chief executive of the non-profit Food Bank for New York City, runs two Manhattan sites, supplying foods like milk, pasta and rice, as well as canned fruit, vegetables, fish and chili, and keeps one of its locations open during the summer for the CUNY student community.

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COUNCIL TO ANNOUNCE NEW CRACKDOWN ON GRAY MARKET WEED

CITYWIDE — CITY COUNCILMEMBER LYNN SCHULMAN WAS SET TO LEAD A PRESS CONFERENCE on Monday morning at a Manhattan weed dispensary announcing a new law that will prohibit landlords from knowingly leasing to unlicensed smoke shops, imposing fines of up to $10,000 on property owners for violations. A press release from the council charged that the estimated 8,000 unlicensed smoke shops in NYC are depriving the state of tax revenues on an expected $5.4 billion in weed sales this year, as well as pointing out that products sold in unlawful stores are unregulated, and may pose health risks to consumers.

The explosion in gray-market marijuana stores can be traced to the difficulties that legitimate business owners have faced in securing licenses to run their own stores: there are just five recreational dispensaries in all of NYC, and none in Brooklyn, after a lawsuit prevented the state from issuing licenses there for a significant period.

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CITY TO DEPLOY SHARK-WATCH DRONES ON BEACHES AFTER ATTACK

CITYWIDE — THE NYPD AND FDNY WILL BE OPERATING SHARK-SPOTTING DRONES in the air over the city’s beaches and waterfronts daily for the rest of the summer, reports NBC News, after swimmer Tatyana Koltunyuk suffered a serious shark bite in the waters off of Rockaway Beach last Monday, the city’s first such incident in decades. The drones will fly from 9 a.m. to dusk and are intended to provide early warnings for swimmers; experts say that shark sightings around NYC are on the rise because of both warming waters from climate change and healthier waterways due to successful cleanup efforts.

Koltunyuk reportedly lost 20 pounds of flesh from the attack on her leg, and is recovering in the hospital; the drones were also used earlier this summer off of Long Island following several other shark incidents on its beaches.

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CITY WARNS OF SCHOOL BUS DRIVER STRIKE

CITYWIDE — PUBLIC SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS MAY STRIKE THIS FALL, reports Patch, in an action that could impact as many as 150,000 kids across the city this back-to-school season, particularly those in lower grades or with special needs. Schools chancellor David Banks, during a Zoom meeting on Thursday with the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, said that the city was mired in difficult negotiations with the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents the bus drivers, and that while it was too early for him to make a definitive statement, parents should be aware of the possibility of having to make alternative travel arrangements.

An NYC Public Schools spokesman released a statement saying that the city was considering methods of helping families shoulder any additional costs, including potentially issuing free-ride MetroCards and reimbursements for rideshare and other transit services.

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NY TIMES: CITY’S THREE PUBLIC ANIMAL SHELTERS OVERCROWDED, ADOPTIONS SLOW

CITYWIDE — A PIT BULL MIX NAMED BROOKLYN HAS CAPTURED THE ATTENTION of the New York Times, which published a story on Monday, Aug. 14, about the overcrowding in animal shelters and the lack of vets to treat the number of pets who have been rescued. Exacerbating the problem is that only Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island have full-service, city-run shelters operating, and these three shelters accepted roughly 4,500 cats and 2,429 dogs during the first six months of this year, and the economy has caused a slowdown in adoptions and an uptick in pets being abandoned.

Eva Prokop, the founder of the Brooklyn-based cat rescue organization Whiskers-A-Go-Go, told the NY Times that her people are trained in T.N.R. (Trap, Neuter and Return), which spays feral cats, to limit their proliferation.

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DOT PROPOSES RULE ON PEDAL-ASSIST BIKES FOR COMMERCIAL DELIVERIES

CITYWIDE — A SOLUTION TO THE BIG-BOX DELIVERY TRUCKS PROBLEM may be in the making, with a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13, focusing on the NYC Department of Transportation’s proposed amendment regarding pedal-assist bicycles for commercial use, according to Brooklyn Community Board 1 and the City Record. The DOT’s proposed amendment would revise the definition of “pedal-assist bicycle” to “pedal-assist commercial bicycle” and establish operating guidelines for pedal-assist commercial bicycles. It would also broaden options for sustainable and efficient modes of parcel and goods delivery, and encourage the use of low- or no-emission vehicles for last-mile freight delivery as recently highlighted in New York City’s (NYC) Delivering Green, DOT’s Delivering New York and NYC Streets Plan. The virtual public hearing, starting at 10 a.m. on Sept. 13, can be accessed via Zoom (Meeting ID: 949 5388 7092; Password: 658250).

 The freight industry sees cargo bicycles with pedal-assist as an opportunity to test consolidation and smaller-scale deliveries in constrained urban spaces, with the concomitant benefits of avoiding tickets and reducing negative impacts on traffic and street safety.


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