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What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, August 17, 2023

August 17, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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FDA LISTS SEVERAL UV STERILIZER WANDS ON ‘UNSAFE’ LIST

NATIONWIDE — ULTRAVIOLET WANDS UTILIZED TO STERILIZE PHONES and other devices are included in the FDA’s latest hazard warning. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday, Aug. 17, updated the list of ultraviolet (UV) wand products that may present a potential risk of injury and warns consumers to not use these UV wands, as they could expose the user or any nearby person to unsafe levels of ultraviolet-C (UV-C) radiation and may cause injury to the skin, eyes or both after just a few seconds of use. The newly-listed wands include Purple Glow Ultraviolet Sterilamp, model: BP52, made by In My Bathroom LLC; “dba” IMB; UVILIZER UV Light Sanitizer, model: Razor, made by In My Bathroom LLC; “dba” IMB; OttLite Compact Travel Disinfecting Wand, model: UV11001M, made by OttLite Technologies Inc;

WBM Smart UV Portable Sterilizer, model: UV-03, made by World Business Management; Safe and Healthy Disinfecting UV Light, model: 2090, made by Ontel Products Corporation; and, 59S Wand Disinfector, model: 5F1025917, made by Shenzhen UV Guard Technology Co., Ltd.

UV wands are used to disinfect surfaces and kill germs in the home or similar spaces outside most health care settings; ironically, the ones named “Safe and Healthy,” reportedly cause injury.

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BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL, OPENING 9/24
SHOWCASES WORLDWIDE LINEUP

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS/DOWNTOWN — THE BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL, the city’s largest free literary festival, runs from Sept. 24-Oct. 2 with an exciting lineup of local and international writers. The festival kicks off with Virtual Festival Day (Sunday, Sept. 24), a tradition that started in response to the pandemic, but now allows the Festival to welcome authors and audiences from around the world. The centerpiece Festival Day (Sunday, Oct. 1) takes place in the parks and plazas surrounding Downtown Brooklyn’s Borough Hall and other venues, with seven stages overflowing with conversation, as diverse authors of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, comics, graphic novels, and young adult literature gather to converse, read and sign books throughout the day. Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Hilton Als, Toluse Olorunnipa, Robert Samuels and Colson Whitehead will be on stage.

As kids are encouraged to start reading early, the Festival includes Children’s Day (Sept. 30) at Brooklyn Commons at MetroTech.

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BLOODS GANG MEMBER ARRESTED
FOR FATAL PUNCH OF BED-STUY DAD 

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — WEDNESDAY’S ARREST OF A GANG MEMBER IN LAST YEAR’S SUCKER-PUNCH MURDER of a 61-year-old father has the victim’s family relieved at the relatively-short investigation, and hopeful for justice, reports the Daily News in an exclusive story. Police on Aug. 16 arrested Isaih James, a 20-year-old linked to the Bloods, on charges of murder and robbery on the night of May 25, 2022 — an attack captured on surveillance video. James and an accomplice allegedly targeted neighbor Victor Vega outside the victim’s home on Lexington Ave. near Nostrand Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Vega, who was found unconscious with a massive head injury, died four days later at Kings County Hospital.

Vega was described as a compassionate man who loved and often rescued animals. He had been speaking to his assailants before they attacked and then robbed him as he lay unconscious.

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CITY REACHES AGREEMENT ON MCGUINNESS REDESIGN AFTER HORROR CRASH

GREENPOINT — THE ADAMS ADMINISTRATION AND THE DOT ON WEDNESDAY ANNOUNCED THAT A COMPROMISE had been reached on the controversial McGuinness Boulevard street safety redesign, which was stalled earlier this summer after protests — characterized as inorganic by safety advocates — spearheaded by local business owners got the administration to put a temporary halt on the plan to add protected bike lanes to the dangerous street, reports StreetsBlog. The original design, which would have seen the boulevard cut from four lanes to two in order to add bike lanes along its full length, has been modified to keep all four lanes open to traffic north of Calyer Street, with the two outer lanes converting to parking space on nights and weekends; the settlement comes after a horrific crash on the boulevard last Thursday left one person critically injured when a reckless driver ran into a moped.

Area politicians, including BP Antonio Reynoso, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, state Sen. Kristen Gonzalez, Councilmember Lincoln Restler and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez in a press statement praised the compromise, writing, “While the new plan does not include every element that we have advocated for or was part of the DOT’s announcement in May, we believe it’s a critical step in the right direction and represents the most significant safety interventions on McGuinness Boulevard since Robert Moses expanded the road 70 years ago. Our offices will push for swift implementation in the weeks and months ahead.”

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STUDENTS SWEEP BENSONHURST IN COMMUNITY CLEANUP EVENT

BENSONHURST — FIFTY STUDENTS, ALONG WITH A HANDFUL OF ADULTS including Assemblymember William Colton and his Chief of Staff, Susan Zhuang, took to Bensonhurst streets on Saturday in order to sweep, tidy and brighten up their neighborhood, according to a press release from Colton’s office. The community cleanup event, one of the many that the assemblyman has hosted over the last ten years, focused on 86th Street, 18th Avenue and Bay Parkway around Seth Low Park; the event was intended to help the students develop civic engagement skills and foster a sense of community.

Another cleanup is scheduled to take place on Aug. 26 on Kings Highway, Avenue U and Bay Parkway; more information can be found on Colton’s X (formerly Twitter) account.

Two volunteers bag trash at the Bensonhurst community cleanup last Saturday.

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BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL TO HOST DISCUSSION ON EXPANDING SWIM ACCESS

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL IS SET TO HOST A SYMPOSIUM this Friday on expanding access to aquatics activities and swimming pools to more Brooklynites, focusing especially on reducing the racial and economic inequity that leads to Black youth facing significantly higher drowning risks than white youth. Community leaders will join swim activists and educators from LIU and St. Francis to discuss strategies to teach more children swimming and water safety skills, as well as to make more swim opportunities and activities available citywide.

The symposium will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, at Brooklyn Law School in Downtown Brooklyn; refreshments will be served starting at 9 a.m.

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KIDS GET NEW BACKPACKS AT KINGS THEATRE BACK-TO-SCHOOL PARTY

FLATBUSH — KIDS AND FAMILIES TURNED OUT IN FORCE TO THE THIRD ANNUAL KINGS THEATRE Back-to-School Party on Wednesday to pick up free backpacks, notebooks, pens and other supplies to start the new school year off right. Volunteers, local organizations and politicians, including state Sen. Kevin Parker and Assemblymember Rita Joseph, came together to hand out supplies, donated by community members, to the kids in the historic theatre.

“It’s a meaningful opportunity to invest in the future of our community’s students. It fills me with joy to see the smiles on their faces and provide them with the tools they need to succeed in education. Together, we can ensure that every child has equal access to quality education and a brighter tomorrow,” wrote Parker in a press statement.

Parker and students pose with their new backpacks outside the Kings Theatre in Flatbush.

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BROKER FEE FAIRNESS BILL GETS MAJORITY SUPPORT IN COUNCIL

CITYWIDE — A BILL REQUIRING LANDLORDS TO TAKE ON THE COST OF SOME BROKER FEES, sponsored by Councilmember Chi Osse, now has majority support in the City Council, despite sustained anger from property owners over its terms. The bill, known as the FARE Act, would require whichever party in a rental arrangement to hire the broker to pay their fees, shifting the burden off tenants in most cases; earlier versions of the bill, which would have capped broker fees, did not garner enough popularity to make it across the finish line.

The bill will now have to pass through committee approval before heading to the Council floor for a full vote; Osse in a press release stated, “The current paradigm is bad for the housing market, bad for consumers, and bad for many brokers. It also makes no sense… The FARE Act is profoundly necessary as it is shockingly simple: You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get.”

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NEW BROOKLYN TOWER FACADE GETS MIXED RESPONSE: ‘EYE OF SAURON’

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — THE NEWLY-COMPLETED FACADE OF THE BROOKLYN TOWER, a black-copper-and-bronze design that echoes the neo-Gothic skyscrapers of the early 20th century, is receiving mixed reviews from Brooklynites online, reports Dezeen. While some praised the construction as attractive, dramatic and innovative, other commenters on the site considered it a bit too much, offering responses like “A vertical castle: heavy, defensive, dominating,” and “All it needs is the Eye of Sauron.”

The Brooklyn Tower is the borough’s only supertall skyscraper, topping out in 2021 at 93 stories and 1,066 feet; no word yet on whether the developers intend to add a burning malevolent eyeball to its roof in order to watch for pesky hobbits attempting to sneak over the Verazzanno.

Brooklyn Tower.
Photo: Mary Frost/Brooklyn Eagle

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MYRTLE AVE. RESTAURANT WEEK EXPANDS

FORT GREENE/CLINTON HILL — NEW YORK CITY’S RESTAURANT WEEK may be a tradition, but Myrtle Avenue has its own celebration of fine dining. The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership will present its second-ever Myrtle Avenue Restaurant Week, running from Aug. 18-27, with eleven locally owned Myrtle Avenue restaurants crossing through Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, an increase from its February event. Participating restaurants include Casa Nono (499 Myrtle, corner of Ryerson St.); Castro’s (511 Myrtle, between Ryerson & Grand); Dunhuang Miss Noodle (531 Myrtle, between Grand & Steuben); Glin Thai Bistro (330 Myrtle, between Washington Park & Carlton Ave.); Lula Mae, (472 Myrtle, between Washington Ave. and Hall St.); Mint Heights (368 Myrtle Ave, between Adelphi St. and Clermont Ave.); Myrtle Thai (438 Myrtle Ave., between Waverly & Clinton avenues); Osteria Brooklyn (458 Myrtle, between Waverly & Washington avenues); Putnam’s Pub & Cooker (419 Myrtle Ave, between Clinton and Vanderbilt avenues); U-Gu (541 Myrtle, between Steuben St. & Emerson Pl.) and Yamashiro (466 Myrtle Ave., between Washington Ave. and Hall St.).

Nine restaurants participated in last February’s Myrtle Avenue Restaurant Week,  two of which saw an increase in sales of up to 70% and the other seven seeing a sales increase up to 30%.

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NYU TANDON TEAM AWARDED GRANT
TO DEVELOP INTEROPERABLE 5G NETWORK

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A TEAM FROM NYU TANDON SCHOOL OF  ENGINEERING HAS WON one of the first three grants that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded from the new Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to support the development of open and interoperable 5G and future generation cellular technologies. Professor and Associate Director Sundeep Rangan leads the team that works to develop “testing and evaluation procedures for next-generation cellular wireless systems in the upper mid-band, a promising new frequency range that has attracted considerable interest from wireless carriers,” he explained. Reporting on the award were the New York Business Journal, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s NTIA journal and the university’s own newsletter.

The NTIA indicates that the first round of funding will support R&D and testing activities related to evaluating energy efficiency, measuring performance of interoperable equipment and testing methods for sharing spectrum.

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A MILE  FOR EACH YEAR
NY HALF-CENTURY BIKE TOUR
MARKS TRANSALT’S 50TH BIRTHDAY

CITYWIDE — A 50-MILE BIKE TOUR WILL CELEBRATE TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES’ 50th ANNIVERSARY on Sunday, Sept, 10. Around 2,000 cyclists of all abilities and experience levels, and hailing from New York City and beyond, will participate in the one-time-only NYC Half Century bike tour through Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The 10-, 35- and 50- mile routes highlight iconic sites of TA advocacy wins such as the Brooklyn Bridge’s fully protected bike lane.

Bike Rent NYC will provide convenient bike rental options. Other sponsors include Industry City, which is hosting the Finish Line Festival; Brooklyn Brewery, Vaccaro Law, Adam White Law, and NYC Ferry. For more information about the bike tour, read here.

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BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN COMMISSIONS
WORK BY COMPOSER KAMALA SANKARAM

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — ACCLAIMED COMPOSER AND PERFORMER KAMALA SANKARAM HAS BEEN NAMED as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s 2023 Artist in Residence. The Garden has commissioned a new work from Sankaram that will be presented this fall, making its premiere on Sept. 30 and Oct.1, 2023, as part of Power of Trees, a program series centered on the ways trees serve as pillars of the natural and cultural worlds. As part of her residency, Sankaram will spend upwards of 200 hours in the Garden exploring BBG’s collection of trees, the way they are cared for, and their symbolism as places of gathering, shelter, and culture. Publicly-sourced sounds used in the piece included singing, running water, birdsong, frogs, and thunder.

 As part of the residency, New Yorkers and visitors alike joined Kamala Sankaram in creating a soundscape of the community around the Garden on Aug. 15.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s 2023 Artist-in-Residence is Kamala Sankaram.
Photo: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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AUTISTIC CHILD DROWNS IN ERIE BASIN
AFTER WANDERING FROM RED HOOK STORE

RED HOOK — A NINE-YEAR-OLD NON-VERBAL AUTISTIC BOY IS BEING MOURNED after he drowned in the Erie Basin Wednesday night, the Daily News reports.  According to surveillance cameras, the child, identified as Hasbul Hehan, had last been seen inside the Ikea on Beard St., which recorded his leaving the store and walking toward the water. A team of first responders and divers searched for the child, who was wearing a black shirt, blue shorts and orange Crocs — the shoes surfaced on the water before the boy was located. They rushed the boy to NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, but he could not be saved.

The NYPD organized a search team that included harbor and aviation units, and drone technology. Divers entered the water at 10:13 p.m. Wednesday but it wasn’t until early Thursday morning that the child’s body was found.

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STUDENTS EXPLORE NEW YORK AS ‘GLOBAL CITY’

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — BROOKLYN STUDENTS FROM NEW YORK EDGE, the city’s largest provider of school-based afterschool and summer programming, celebrated their achievements last week at the M.S. 267K Math, Science & Technology Summer Rising site. Incorporating the theme, “New York City, Global City” into their projects, the students designed aprons, tried new recipes, learned life-saving techniques from Fire Department personnel and engaged in friendly basketball competition.

While developing valuable skills and immersing themselves in the city’s diverse culture ranging from food to history, the students gained new perspectives and expressed what living in New York City means to them.

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SUNSET PARK HEALTH EMPOWERMENT FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND

SUNSET PARK — THE EIGHTH ANNUAL SUNSET PARK HEALTH EMPOWERMENT CELEBRATION IS SET to bring healthy-living advice and fun activities to southern Brooklynites this weekend, at a free community event intended to raise awareness of wellness resources available to low-income or uninsured residents. The event will include cultural performances and demonstrations, wellness activities like yoga and gardening, a hot meal distribution and tabling and talks from community organizations, health partners and local politicians.

The Celebration will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19, in Sunset Park (the park itself, which is in the Sunset Park neighborhood.)

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AT&T, GOOD SHEPHERD LAUNCH KIDS’ DRONE PILOT CLASS

RED HOOK — U.S. REP. DAN GOLDMAN’S OFFICE AND COUNCILMEMBER ALEXA AVILES JOINED THE 35 CAMPERS at the Summer Soaring Project, a no-cost technology education summer camp program hosted by Good Shepherd Services and AT&T, on Tuesday to celebrate the program’s inaugural season and watch the campers show their skills. The project aims to bridge the digital equity divide in a fun and innovative way: participants learn how to fly and navigate drones, and even build their own rovers, while also learning about programming, physics, aerodynamics, robotics, and electronics; the camps are led by the Drone Cadets, an organization that focuses on responsible piloting.

Two camp sessions are operating this summer, in East New York and Red Hook; the camp at the Red Hook Houses operates five days a week, from July 5 to Aug. 25, and the camp at the Prince Joshua Avitto Community Center in East New York operated four days a week, from July 5 through Aug. 3.

Youngsters pilot a small drone through an obstacle course.
Photo: Giulia Balentine

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RENTAL BUILDING RISES NEXT TO BOTANIC GARDEN

PROSPECT HEIGHTS – DEVELOPER CARMEL PARTNERS HAS ACQUIRED $233 MILLION IN CONSTRUCTION FUNDING TO FINISH its planned 569-apartment rental complex on Crown Street, adjacent to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, reports 6sqft NY, a mixed-use development that will also provide 7,400 square feet of commercial space and 1,325 square feet of community space. The company has already broken ground on the building, which will ultimately rise to 174 feet.

The new, smaller building is on the site of a project successfully contested by the BBG and community partners that would have seen much larger high-rise towers block out sunlight during much of the day, potentially spelling doom for the delicate rare plants in its greenhouses.

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COMMUNITY DEMANDS CHANGE AFTER NIGHTCLUB MYSTERY DEATHS, KIDNAPPING

WILLIAMSBURG — PARTIERS AND MUSIC-LOVERS ARE ORGANIZING A LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN DEMANDING SAFETY UPGRADES FOLLOWING A SERIES of disturbing events connected to the Brooklyn Mirage nightclub inside the Avant Gardner event venue, reports Gothamist, including two suspicious deaths and an alleged kidnapping. Two young professionals, 27-year-old psychologist Karl Clemente and 27-year-old financial analyst John Castic, were both last seen alive leaving the Mirage before their bodies were discovered in the Newtown Creek nearby, while two Connecticut men were arrested in July after allegedly kidnapping a doctor from the club by posing as a taxi service.

A letter to area Councilmember Jennifer Gutiérrez circulated by the concerned group charges the venue with negligence regarding the safety of their patrons, citing frequently oversold shows, a lack of lighting around the exits, poor wireless service and a proliferation of unlicensed taxis outside at very late hours; and demands action from both Avant Gardner and from the city.

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MISSING GIRL IN BROWNSVILLE

BROWNSVILLE — POLICE ARE ASKING THE PUBLIC TO HELP LOCATE MISSING GIRL Mia Johnson, age 12, who was last seen around noon on Friday, Aug. 11 at her Ashford Street home, near the New Lots Avenue 3 train terminus. Mia is described as around 5’4″ and 160 pounds, with a light complexion, short brown hair and dark-colored eyes, and was last seen wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, brown pants and black Nike Air Max sneakers; police say she is known to frequent the Brownsville area. 

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 12-year-old Mia Johnson. All tips given to police are strictly confidential.

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BED-STUY BUILDING SUPER SOCKED WITH 25-TO-LIFE SENTENCE FOR  MURDERING RIVAL, HIDING CRIME 

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A BEDFORD STUYVESANT MAN HAS BEEN SENTENCED to 25 years to life in prison for killing a Mount Vernon man and attempting to conceal his crime by setting fire to the victim’s corpse in the basement of a Brooklyn apartment building. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Wednesday, Aug.16, identified the defendant as 58-year-old Derek Whitaker, who received the prison sentence from Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Whitaker was convicted on June 16, 2023, of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, fourth-degree arson, tampering with physical evidence, and concealment of a human corpse following a jury trial.

The defendant and victim were romantic rivals and the defendant stalked the victim for months before the murder, later transporting the victim’s body to the basement of a building at 494 Jefferson Avenue, where he worked as superintendent.

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SANTOS AIDE CHARGED WITH WIRE FRAUD, IDENTITY THEFT

BROOKLYN — A CAMPAIGN ASSOCIATE OF REP. GEORGE SANTOS WHO IMPERSONATED Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s former chief of staff was charged with wire fraud and identity theft in a federal indictment unsealed on Wednesday, the New York Times reports. The aide, Samuel Miele, was arraigned Wednesday morning in Brooklyn federal court and released on $150,000 bond. He has pleaded not guilty.

Miele impersonated Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff in fund-raising appeals, according to the Times.

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INTERBOROUGH EXPRESS SUBWAY EXPANSION MEETING HELD YESTERDAY

CITYWIDE — THE MTA HELD A VIRTUAL TOWN HALL MEETING ON WEDNESDAY DISCUSSING THE PROGRESS MADE on the upcoming Interborough Express train project, which aims to connect Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights, Queens, and neighborhoods in between via a new light rail line. The IBX, as it’s being called, would run along currently existing freight train tracks through the outer parts of the boroughs and connect with 17 other subway lines as well as the LIRR, and is expected to carry up to 115,000 passengers daily, according to amNY.

The meeting discussed the results of the Planning and Environmental Linkages study ordered by Governor Hochul last year.

The proposed route of the Interborough Express.

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THREE RESTAURANT CHAINS ORDERED TO RESOLVE EMPLOYEE SHIFT VIOLATIONS

 CITYWIDE — AS PART OF ANOTHER WORKPLACE SETTLEMENT, millions of dollars in employee relief have been secured for workers from three major restaurant chains over the past months to resolve violations of the City’s Fair Workweek Law, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga announced on Wednesday, Aug. 16. Panda Express, Au Bon Pain, and 7-Eleven’s “Raise the Roost” will pay a combined $4.5 million in restitution to nearly 2,400 workers, and $417,000 in civil penalties. The Fair Workweek Law requires fast food employers in New York City to give workers regular schedules, premium pay for schedule changes, the opportunity to decline to work additional time without penalty, among other provisions.

Clopening, a combination of the words “closing” and “opening,” refers to the practice of making employees work a closing shift followed directly by an opening shift, which allows for insufficient rest in between shifts. Depending on the specific hours, some clopeners have as little as four hours between shifts, depriving the workers of the sleep they need to be alert on the job.

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PUBLIC HEARING SET FOR PROPOSED RULES ON RIDESHARE VEHICLE CONVERSIONS

CITYWIDE — A PUBLIC HEARING WILL BE CONVENED NEXT MONTH regarding the newly proposed rules for the “Green Rides” initiative, which requires the transition of New York City’s rideshare fleet to either zero-emission vehicles or wheelchair-accessible vehicles by 2030, Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Do announced on Wednesday, Aug. 16. The proposed rules will also make New York City the first large city in the world to have a rideshare fleet that is entirely either zero-emissions or wheelchair accessible. The virtual-only public hearing will take place via Zoom at 10 a.m. on Sept. 20, and will be livestreamed on TLC’s website at www.nyc.gov/tlc. Those wishing to participate must email the TLC at [email protected] or call TLC at 212-676-1135 by 5 p.m. on Sept. 19.

The Green Rides program and this set of proposed rules delivers on a commitment from Mayor Adams’ “Working People’s Agenda” to electrify the high-volume for-hire vehicle fleet in New York City without imposing new costs on individual drivers.

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NAIL SALON CHAIN ORDERED TO MAKE RESTITUTION ON UNPAID WAGES

CITYWIDE — STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL LETITIA JAMES HAS  RECOVERED $300,000 IN UNPAID WAGES for workers at Envy Nails, a chain of 25 nail salons located in New York City. Between 2015 and 2021, the salons failed to pay minimum wage to more than 100 current and former employees, many of whom were vulnerable immigrant workers and workers of color. As part of the agreement with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), Envy Nails must pay $300,000 in restitution to the salon workers, dissolve improperly registered corporate entities, and submit reports to OAG for a period of three years.

Moreover, Nails 181, Inc., which is one of 25 entities doing business as Envy Nails, has also pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, for failing to pay sales tax for five years. As a condition of its sentence, New York County Supreme Court Judge Laurie Peterson ordered tax judgments against Nails 181 totaling more than $275,000 in favor of the state.

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ENGINEER CATHERINE SHERIDAN IS APPOINTED AS PRESIDENT OF MTA BRIDGES AND TUNNELS

CITYWIDE — CATHERINE SHERIDAN HAS BEEN APPOINTED AS PRESIDENT OF MTA BRIDGES AND TUNNELS, MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber announced on Wednesday, Aug. 16. A Brooklyn resident, Ms. Sheridan has served as interim president since March 4, during which time she continued to build on the success of recovering toll revenue through pursuit of persistent toll violators, yielding an increase in revenue recovery of almost 85%. She has recently focused on the implementation of congestion pricing. Originally from Albany, Ms. Sheridan is an engineer and transportation leader with extensive experience at the MTA, the New York State Canal Corporation and the New York State Thruway Authority, Catherine T. Sheridan, P.E. joined the MTA in 2019 and served as chief of staff at MTA Construction & Development since October 2021.

Sheridan succeeds Daniel F. DeCrescenzo Jr., who retired in March 2023 after four years as MTA Bridges and Tunnels president and 33 years at the MTA.

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HOCHUL WARNS BEACHGOERS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM FLESH-EATING BACTERIA

NEW YORK METRO — GOV. KATHY HOCHUL CAUTIONED on Wednesday that vibriosis, a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause skin breakdown (hence known as “flesh-eating bacteria”), has been found in the region. Fatal cases of vibriosis have been identified in Suffolk County and Connecticut. The state Department of Health reminds providers to consider vibriosis when diagnosing wound infections or sepsis of unknown origins. “While rare, the vibrio bacteria has unfortunately made it to this region and can be extraordinarily dangerous,”  Hochul said.

Hochul said it is critical to protect open wounds — including scrapes and recent tattoos — from seawater and, for those with compromised immune systems, avoid raw or undercooked shellfish which may carry the bacteria.

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IN ‘SCATHING’ LETTER, HOCHUL’S LAWYER ACCUSES ADAMS OF BUNGLING MIGRANT CRISIS

ALBANY/NEW YORK CITY — IN A ‘SCATHING’ LETTER late Tuesday, a lawyer representing Gov. Kathy Hochul faulted Mayor Eric Adams’s management of NYC’s migrant crisis, the New York Times reports. The letter said the city failed to accept numerous state offers of assistance over the last year, including the use of more than a dozen state-controlled sites that could house more than 3,000 migrants. It also said the Adams administration was slow to act, and ignored a suggestion to begin setting up large campsites for single adult men as far back as June 2022.

The letter also said the Adams’ administration did not prioritize helping migrants fill out paperwork to start getting their work permits, meaning thousands who could now be working are not.

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NY STATE SAW DECREASE IN NUMBER OF UNINSURED NEW YORKERS, BUT MOSTLY AMONG WHITE POPULATION

STATEWIDE — THE PERCENTAGE OF NEW YORKERS WHO LACK HEALTH INSURANCE declined over an 11-year period from 2010-2021, down to 5.2% as of two years ago, according to an analysis that New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released on Wednesday, Aug. 16. New York’s uninsured rate came in well below the national average of 8.6% and less than half of what it was in the state in 2010 (11.9%). While most people with insurance both nationally (67%) and in New York (65.9%) have private health insurance, expansion of public health programs under state and federal policies has played an important role in reducing the number of uninsured.

However, health care coverage disparities persist among the state’s Black, Asian and Latino populations and higher uninsured rates were also prevalent among low- and moderate-income groups.

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NEW LAW REQUIRES UTILITY COMPANIES TO PAY PREVAILING WAGE FOR STREET EXCAVATION

STATEWIDE — GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL HAS SIGNED LEGISLATION ENSURING A PREVAILING WAGE FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS who perform certain utility work on roads. The Roadway Quality Assurance Act, an amendment to labor law and signed on Wednesday, Aug.16, mandates that utility company contractors and subcontractors pay the prevailing wage to employees on projects where a permit is required to be issued to use, excavate, or open a street. This requirement uplifts workers and local communities across New York State and contributes to reliable utility service for ratepayers.

“We commend Governor Hochul for prioritizing safety while ensuring workers will be paid fairly for their labor. Requiring prevailing wage standards on roadway excavation projects will lead to the use of a highly trained and skilled workforce, help protect public safety and assist with utility service reliability,” said Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO.

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NY/NJ GROUPS DEMAND OVERHAUL OF ARMY CORPS’ STORM SURGE PROPOSALS

NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY — MORE THAN 25 ENVIRONMENTAL, CIVIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS on Wednesday called for a major overhaul of the $52.6 billion storm surge protection plans proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In a statement released by the Environmental Defense Fund, the coalition said the current plans focus primarily on coastal storm surge, failing to take into consideration the region’s increasing exposure to heavy rains, rising groundwater and “sunny day” tidal flooding. The groups want the Corps to fast-track communities most at risk, prioritize people over property, and maximize natural approaches — as opposed to plans that include building high seawalls blocking communities like Greenpoint, Gowanus and Red Hook from the waterfront.

The Corps said on their website that they are delaying the Agency Decision Milestone, which was previously scheduled for July 2023, “until later in the summer.” 

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IN MEMORIAM: OPERATIC SOPRANO RENATA SCOTTO DIES AT 89, DRAMATIC AND SHREWD ON AND OFFSTAGE

SAVONA, ITALY — OPERA AFICIONADOS IN BROOKLYN AND AROUND THE WORLD ARE MOURNING dramatic soprano Renata Scotto, 89, who died on Wednesday, Aug. 16, in her native Savona, Italy, according to New York Times obituary reporter Jonathan Kandell. Ms. Scotto was acclaimed for her stage presence and interpretations of operatic characters, and for her business sense and hardball negotiating with opera house managers. For example, after the Metropolitan Opera House’s Sir Rudolf Bing refused to increase her repertoire performances, she met her contract and then left. Ms. Scotto was later invited back under general manager James Levine’s tenure, and flourished during his leadership of the Met. And she once slapped tenor Giuseppe di Stefano for walking offstage — interrupting their duet — to munch an apple.

Even as a child, Renata Scotto would stand by her window and sing the latest Italian pop hits, with admirers throwing candy up at her.

Tenor Placido Domingo, left, appears with soprano Renata Scotto in a backstage dressing room prior to their opening night performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s “Norma” at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on Sept. 22, 1981. Scotto, a soprano of uncommon intensity who became a successful director after her singing career, died at 89 Wednesday in her hometown of Savona, Italy.
Photo: Elizabeth Richter/AP


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