What’s News, Breaking: Monday, August 28, 2023
NEIGHBORS OF THE PARK CHURCH WILL
GIVE THEIR VIEWS AT AN 8/31 VIRTUAL MEETING
GREENPOINT — THE FUTURE OF THE PARK CHURCH BUILDING will be the focus of discussion of an online meeting being held this Thursday, Aug. 31. The Park Church, which was named for its location alongside McGolrick Park, was established as a congregation in 1899 as the English Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Messiah, hosting its first services in a storefront on Kingsland Avenue; its first building was dedicated in 1902, but it is not landmarked. In June 2022, the Metropolitan New York Synod closed the church building for good and evicted its tenants. The State Attorney General is giving the community another chance to air their perspectives on a pending sale to a luxury real estate developer. Information on the virtual meeting is available online.
About a decade ago, the church was turned into a community center, and the dwindling congregation who tried to keep it going allegedly received no support from the synod. (Synods are larger governing bodies of congregations within the branches of Lutheranism.)
CITY ANNOUNCES CONTINGENCY PLAN
IF SCHOOL BUS WORKERS STRIKE
CITYWIDE — THE CITY IS MAKING CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR A POSSIBLE SCHOOL BUS STRIKE that is looming over the start of a new academic year, reports the Daily News. Mayor Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks provided details on Monday, Aug. 28, on ways to provide students alternate ways of getting to school, with some options being emergency MetroCards, reimbursements for other modes of transportation, and free rideshare when needed. The potential strike could affect approximately 4,400 routes across all five boroughs, with many serving the city’s 25,000 special-education students.
Meanwhile, negotiations continue between the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 and the city-contracted bus companies, with ATU President Tomas Fret earlier this summer emphasizing a longstanding shortage of school bus workers who “simply cannot make ends meet.” The union in June had authorized a strike if a deal isn’t reached.
NEW BILL TO RECOGNIZE MIDDLE EASTERN, NORTH AFRICAN ETHNICITIES
STATEWIDE — A BILL INTRODUCED IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE BY QUEENS ASSEMBLYMEMBER Jessica González-Rojas and state Sen. Michael Gianaris earlier this year is set to allow the state to begin collecting more detailed demographic information about its residents by establishing new ethnic data categories for Middle Easterners and North Africans, reports City and State. Currently, people who report having these ethnicities are recorded as white by the state and federal governments — something that the Queens lawmakers and other supporters of the bill say is unfair to these communities, who may experience racial discrimination but are nevertheless excluded from some programs designed to uplift members of disadvantaged groups, such as funding initiatives for minority-owned businesses.
The assemblymember told City and State that the bill has so far enjoyed unanimous support, although it remains stuck in an Assembly committee discussion due to budget delays and other legislative priorities, and is hopeful that it will reach final approval in January when lawmakers get back to work. According to the bill text, the proposed legislation “permits further disaggregation of MENA communities, ensuring that specific data can be collected on the inequalities found between different MENA groups.” It lists numerous countries, ethnic groups and ethnic categories.
ORDERED TO STOP POSTING FAKE
APARTMENT LISTINGS AND REVIEWS
CITYWIDE — THE MANHATTAN-BASED APARTMENT SEARCH PLATFORM ROOMSTER is ordered to stop buying and posting fake reviews about its listings, according to a consent order and $1.6 million that State Attorney General Letitia James and the Federal Trade Commission secured on Monday, Aug. 28. The Attorney General found that Roomster, and its owners, John Shriber and Roman Zaks, defrauded millions of renters nationwide by posting unverified apartment listings and fake reviews. In many cases, Roomster even posted non-existent apartment listings, and it scammed consumers with fake positive reviews that it bought and posted online.
Moreover, the Office of the Attorney General’s lawsuit claims that Roomster’s executives had a deliberate strategy for posting fake reviews to appear real and increasing the chances of them being published on app stores. Many of the reviews contained blatant spelling errors.
OVERNIGHT BQE INTERIM REPAIRS CONTINUE IN BROOKLYN HEIGHTS
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — OVERNIGHT INTERIM REPAIRS on the Triple Cantilever section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway began Aug. 18 and will continue until further notice, according to an update from NYCDOT. Following prep work, concrete removal adjacent to the joints at Grace Court and Clark Street began Aug. 25 and will continue for about six to eight weeks, with a single-lane closure in the Queens-bound direction and closure of the Atlantic Avenue entrance ramp to Queens-bound BQE (when there is a crew in the right lane).
The work done so far includes saw cutting of pavement, removal of asphalt at the joints and placement of temporary steel plates covering the excavated areas, DOT said.
24/7 CAMERA ENFORCEMENT’S 1ST YEAR
SEES MAJOR SPEEDING DECLINE IN BROOKLYN
BOROUGHWIDE — TRAFFIC SPEED CAMERAS ARE BEING CREDITED WITH A SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN SPEEDING, and related fatalities and injuries during the first year of 24/7 enforcement, reported NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez on Monday, Aug. 28. Speed camera violations dropped an average of 30%, with two roads in Brooklyn showing dramatic declines, and another in Manhattan topping the list on improvements. While Houston St. in Manhattan had the greatest improvement — a 96% reduction — Cropsey Ave. (running through Bensonhurst and Bath Beach) saw an 84% reduction, and North Conduit Blvd. (running between Atlantic & Sutter avenues) saw a 74% reduction.
Overnight and weekend traffic injuries also declined since the implementation of 24/7 enforcement on Aug. 1, 2022, including along Kings Highway, which saw a 33% reduction.
FREE EDUCATION IS A RIGHT,
REGARDLESS OF IMMIGRATION STATUS
STATEWIDE — EVERY STUDENT FROM AGES 5-21 HAS THE RIGHT TO A FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION, say NY Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Education Department Commissioner Betty A. Rosa, who on Monday, Aug. 28, released a “Know Your Rights” guidance. Released before the new school year, the guidance affirms this right, regardless of a student’s immigration status or nationality. The guidance also details the schools’ responsibilities in accepting new students, warning them against implementing requirements that would block non-citizens, undocumented or families without leases from registering for school.
“The law is clear: every New Yorker is entitled to a free public education, and anyone who lives in our state is a New Yorker,” said Attorney General James.
RETURN OF THE MOOCH:
EX-TRUMP OFFICIAL HOSTS
LONG ISLAND — FORMER TRUMP PRESS SECRETARY ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, who lasted just 11 days in the thankless role in 2017, resurfaced over the weekend as a co-host at a ritzy cross-aisle fundraiser for Eric Adams’ 2025 reelection campaign in Southampton, reports the New York Post, joined by other political notables like former Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, former Democratic governor David Paterson and former Brooklyn City Councilmember Robert Cornegy. “The Mooch,” as he calls himself, supported Adams in the 2021 election and has been a strident voice against his “insecure bully” former boss.
Scaramucci was most recently in the news in 2021, when he testified in the case of a banker convicted of unsuccessfully bribing former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort with $16 million in loans in exchange for the position of Secretary of the Army.
NYU LANGONE NURSES RAISE
ALARM OVER ICU STAFF SHORTAGE
SUNSET PARK — NURSES AT NYU LANGONE’S SUNSET PARK HOSPITAL, formerly Lutheran Hospital, have charged hospital management with failing to address a chronic, severe and illegal staffing shortage in the hospital’s critical and intensive care units, reports The City, with nurses represented by the UFT union filing 30 complaints last week related to difficulties in maintaining state-mandated levels of care. Under state law, nurses are not supposed to be assigned more than two patients in those high-priority departments, but the complaints allege that nurses are frequently called upon to treat as many as four at once; union leaders say that these shortages have lead to worsening patient outcomes and significantly more in-hospital injuries, such as falls and bedsores.
A spokesman for NYU called the nurses’ claims “patently false,” and claimed that staffing numbers and injury reports provided by the UFT were inaccurate; the UFT sent a letter to the state health commissioner on Thursday demanding that NYU be investigated, penalized and brought into compliance with regulations.
MAN GOES VIRAL AFTER BRINGING ‘HORSE-SIZED’ SERVICE DOG ON PLANE
LOS ANGELES — A NEW BROOKLYN RESIDENT, 140-pound Great Dane service dog Darwin, went viral over the weekend, reports NewsTalk NB, after her owner, Gabriel Bogner, age 27, posted a video of the “horse-sized beast” occupying two plane seats during his cross-country move from L.A. to Brooklyn; the clip has so far received 18 million views on TikTok. Bogner, who has Crohn’s Disease, said that Darwin was too big to fit in even the largest animal transport crates airlines offer, and that bringing her along on the flight was the most viable option short of chartering a private plane.
Service dogs are allowed to accompany their owners on airplanes under federal law; Bogner said he had found American Airlines to be the most animal-friendly airline, and thanked them for making the flight “a piece of cake.”
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL CENSURED FOR NON-ACCREDITED MASTERS PROGRAM
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ON THURSDAY ANNOUNCED that it had reached a settlement with five law schools, including Brooklyn Law School, penalizing them for improperly distributing $2.9 million in federal financial aid funds to students in Masters of Laws programs that had not received proper accreditation; under the terms of the settlement, the schools must reimburse the government for any money lost, stop giving Title IV funding to Masters students and agree not to pursue Masters students for repayment of financial aid. Brooklyn Law School, as well as the other four schools, are unaffiliated with any university systems and are accredited by the American Bar Association for their J.D. programs, but the ABA does not certify Masters of Laws programs; most law schools are attached to universities and so have accreditation for non-J.D. programs from other approved authorities.
The settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing or liability, according to the DoE.
BK MAN WINS $1M FROM SCRATCH-OFF LOTTO TICKET
HARLEM — KINGS COUNTY RESIDENT RODNEY HENDERSON HAS CLAIMED A $1 million jackpot won from a scratch-off lotto ticket earlier this month, reports the New York Post, and has elected to receive his prize in installments of $30,612 a year over the next two decades. A worker at the Arkan Food Corp. bodega in Harlem that sold Henderson the lucky Strike It Rich! game ticket told the Post that big wins mean good fortune for small businesses as well: “If they feel the store is lucky, [players] come in to get more lucky. More people come in and more people ask to play,” said Maged Ahmed.
New Yorkers struggling with a gambling problem, or who know someone who is, can find help at NYProblemGamblingHelp.org, by calling the free confidential HOPEline at 1-877-846-7369, or texting HOPENY (467369). Standard text rates may apply.
NEW BILL WOULD EXPAND AIR-CON SUBSIDY PROGRAM
STATEWIDE — A NEW BILL UNVEILED BY HARLEM STATE SEN. CORDELL CLEARE ON Friday would significantly expand access to New York’s Cooling Assistance Benefit air-conditioner subsidy program for low-income residents, reports City Limits, lifting the current requirement that restricts the subsidy to households with at least one member over age 60, under age 6 or with a health condition worsened by heat. Cleare’s bill would eliminate the need to prove an illness, potentially helping more disadvantaged seniors access aid, as well as increasing the budget for the chronically underfunded program – this year only 5,600 households were able to qualify for the subsidy before the cash ran dry on July 15.
“An air conditioner is not a luxury anymore,” Cleare told City Limits. “It’s a matter of life and death;” 725 New Yorkers visited emergency rooms for heat-related health issues during last year’s historically hot summer months.
KITTENS RESCUED FROM ROAD BARRIER
BAY RIDGE — THE NYPD RESCUED TWO KITTENS FROM INSIDE A ROADSIDE BARRIER on Friday in Shore Road Park, using power tools to free the tiny creatures from the orange plastic barricade after being alerted by a report. The kittens were quickly bundled up and delivered to a local animal rescue by the officers, but not before posing for some adorable photos.
FDA RECALL FOR BACTERIA-CONTAMINATED EYE DROPS
NATIONWIDE — THE FDA HAS ISSUED A RECALL FOR EYE DROPS potentially contaminated with bacteria, reports USA Today, warning customers not to purchase or use Dr. Berne’s MSM Drops 5% Solution and LightEyez MSM Eye Drops after detecting several different microbes during testing; the two products also contain the ingredient methylsulfonylmethane, which is not an approved drug and cannot be legally marketed in the U.S. While no one has yet reported any adverse effects from these two products, use of contaminated eye drops “could result in minor to serious vision-threatening infection which could possibly progress to a life-threatening infection;” customers are encouraged to submit reports of any adverse events to the FDA’s MedWatch reporting program online on its website.
The FDA has been keeping a close watch on eye drop products after serious contamination issues earlier this year with two other brands led to three deaths and dozens of serious illnesses in customers nationwide.
LONGTIME CARROLL GARDENS COFFEE SELLER PASSES AWAY
CARROLL GARDENS — FRANCIS D’AMICO, THE CO-OWNER OF COURT STREET institution D’Amico Coffee, passed away on August 4 at the age of 62, reports the BK Reader, after spending 24 years helming the area-favorite cafe with his wife Joan. The business was founded by D’Amico’s grandfather, Emanuel D’Amico, in 1948, and is one of a dwindling handful of links to the area’s history as an Italian-American neighborhood.
The Reader reports that a statement from the family pinned to the shop’s door reads “While Fran lived 62 years and departed from us far too soon, we find comfort and solace knowing that he lived a full life!”
SENIOR ATTACKED ON SUBWAY
BED-STUY — POLICE ARE ASKING THE PUBLIC FOR ASSISTANCE IN FINDING A SUSPECT WHO on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 23 approached and punched a 74-year-old man at the entrance to the Nostrand Avenue A/C station in Bed-Stuy, injuring him in the face and head, before fleeing northbound on Nostrand Avenue. The suspect, who is unknown to the victim, is described as a male, approximately 5′ 8″, with a dark complexion, long dreadlocks and a medium build, and was last seen wearing a red hat and a white t-shirt.
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 Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.
POLICE SEEK MAN IN ROAD RAGE PUNCHING
WILLIAMSBURG — A 28-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS BADLY BEATEN IN A ROAD RAGE INCIDENT on the night of Wednesday, August 9, say police, when, as he was exiting a for-hire vehicle on South 2nd Street, an unknown individual got out of a black BMW sedan stuck behind the cab, said the victim was taking too long, then approached and punched him before getting back in the BMW and fleeing down Havemeyer Street. The victim sustained a fractured fibula and multiple torn ankle ligaments and was treated at a hospital; the NYPD says that there are believed to be two female witnesses that were recording the incident on their phones, and urges any witnesses to share any video footage or photos of the attack.
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.
CONEY ISLAND POETRY TRAIL LAUNCHES
CONEY ISLAND — A CONEY ISLAND ARTS COLLECTIVE IS LAUNCHING A WALKING poetry exhibition this month, featuring 25 poems by local authors at stops throughout the peninsula’s residential neighborhood and historic amusement district, on small businesses, landmarks and amusement park rides like the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel. Visitors are invited to grab a free map of poem locations and tour the neighborhood with a fresh eye, or to read them all in one place at Parachute Literary Arts’ Poetry Wall at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.
More information about the poetry installation and locations can be found on Parachute’s Instagram page; the poems will be exhibited through Oct. 15.
BACK TO SCHOOL RESOURCE FAIR THIS WEEK
SUNSET PARK — PARENTS AND KIDS ARE INVITED TO ATTEND A BACK-TO-SCHOOL family Resource Fair on Wednesday at Martin Luther Playground, hosted by NYU Langone and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and featuring over two dozen community organizations and elected officials offering health and safety information and demonstrations. Kids can snag free backpacks and school supplies while enjoying play activities and family entertainment, while their parents can get help with health insurance registration and health screenings offered by the event’s hosts.
The Resource Fair will take place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, August 30, at Martin Luther Playground on 2nd Avenue and 55th Street in Sunset Park; the event is intended to help lift some of the burden of expensive school supply lists ahead of the first day of school on Sept. 7.
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