What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, August 29, 2023
BROOKLYN IRAQ WAR VETERAN TO ADDRESS
FT. HAMILTON ARMY BASE’S 9/11 REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY
FORT HAMILTON — THE NAME OF A CEREMONY AT THE U.S. ARMY GARRISON at Fort Hamilton that will take place on Sept. 8 was misnamed as the Days of Remembrance in a brief published on Wednesday, Aug. 30, due to incorrect information received. The event, held annually and taking place on Friday, Sept. 8, is the FORT HAMILTON Patriot Day/9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance Ceremony.
BROOKLYN IRAQ WAR VETERAN TO ADDRESS
FT. HAMILTON ARMY BASE’S 9/11 REMEMBRANCE DAYS
FORT HAMILTON — A BROOKLYN NATIVE WHO LOST HIS BROTHER ON 9/11, served in the U.S. Army’s Operation Iraqi Freedom and now works at a financial services company for veterans will be the guest speaker at the annual Days of Remembrance at the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton. Joe Quinn, director of strategic partnerships at Drexel Hamilton, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and has more than 20 years of leadership experience in business, nonprofits and the armed forces. The annual Days of Remembrance event is held each year for the military community at the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, and includes a wreath-laying ceremony in memory of those who perished as a result of the terror attacks 22 years ago.
Quinn grew up in Brooklyn where he starred on the basketball court, and he continued playing while at West Point.
COLTON HOSTS RALLY TO RETAIN
SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL TEST
GRAVESEND — THE SPECIALIZED HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSION TEST and the NYC schools’ Gifted & Talent Program received a boost from Assemblymember William Colton (D-47) and advocates during a Monday, Aug. 28, rally at his district office in Gravesend. The test is used to determine which students are admitted to the city’s eight public specialized high schools, including Brooklyn Tech and Brooklyn Latin School (offering classics and oration). Colton, who taught in the NYC public schools for 11 years, and the test’s supporters maintain that the SHSAT “has served for years as a “pathway for newcomers to this country to achieve the American Dream.” Monday’s rally — and an accompanying petition drive — are first steps in mobilizing parents and community members to get the test retained.
Opponents of the SHSAT say that the test has significantly lessened diversity among students who attend the city’s specialized high schools, a point that Colton disputes, stating that the problem is not the test itself but rather the city’s elimination of many gifted & talented curricula.
HEIGHTS BOOKSTORE TO HOST DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR KARAOKE NIGHT
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — MONTAGUE STREET BOOKSELLER BOOKS ARE MAGIC IS set to host a karaoke night fundraiser next week in support of drag queen story hours, with performances by NYC drag queens, food and drink from local restaurants and live portrait drawings by Brooklyn illustrators. All proceeds from the event will go to the Drag Story Hour nonprofit, whose goal is to “celebrate reading through the glamorous art of drag, capture the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood, and give kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.”
The all-ages karaoke night will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8; tickets can be purchased online on Eventbrite, with prices starting at a $10 donation, or any higher amounts.
NYPD RULES CHILD’S DEATH A HOMICIDE;
MOM’S BOYFRIEND FACES MURDER CHARGES
BERGEN BEACH/DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A 2-year-old Brooklyn boy was beaten to death over the weekend — the killer being the live-in boyfriend of the child’s mother, reports the Daily News. Medics responded to a call at the child’s home on E. 68th St. near Avenue U in Bergen Beach just before noon Sunday. The toddler, who had complained of stomach pains and then lost consciousness, was rushed to Brookdale Medical Center on Sunday with extensive injuries, but doctors could not save him. The NYPD determined that the child had apparently been thrown to the floor; the nature and extent of the injuries led authorities to rule the death as a homicide.
The NYPD had not released the child’s name as of Tuesday morning; however, the boyfriend, identified as 23-year-old Latrell Lewis was scheduled to be arraigned at Brooklyn Criminal Court Tuesday, Aug. 29, on murder charges. The mother was not named in the Daily News story.
NEW GROCERY STORE TO OPEN ON FULTON MALL
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A NEW GROCERY STORE IS SET TO OPEN ON Fulton Mall near Albee Square, reports the New York Post, with New Jersey grocery chain The Fresh Grocer signing a lease last week to take over most of the ground floor of a block-long building between Duffield Street and Albee Square West. The store will occupy 21,000 square feet of retail space in the century-old building, freshly renovated by landlord RMC Assets to the tune of $20 million.
The Brooklyn Hospital Center also recently signed a lease to occupy the second and third floors of the building, representing more than 51,000 square feet of space.
MISSING MAN IN OCEAN HILL
OCEAN HILL – POLICE ARE ASKING THE PUBLIC FOR ASSISTANCE IN LOCATING missing man Emerol Lewis, age 60, last seen around noon on Thursday, August 24 leaving his Pacific Street residence near the Rockaway Avenue A/C station. Lewis is described as approximately 5’6” and 160 pounds, with a dark complexion and black hair, and was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants, black shoes and a gray hat. 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.
KAGAN CLOSING FUNDING GAP WITH BRANNAN IN REDISTRICTING BATTLE
BAY RIDGE — COUNCILMEMBER ARI KAGAN OUTRAISED COUNCILMEMBER JUSTIN BRANNAN in July and August, bringing in $16,884, while Brannan raised just $5,965, reports City and State, shortening a fundraising gap that has left Brannan with a far larger war chest after Kagan was forced to spend significant sums fending off challengers in the Republican primary over District 47. Brannan and Kagan, both current councilmembers, are going head-to-head in the general election this November due to a messy redistricting process that shifted Bay Ridge and other southern Brooklyn areas into Kagan’s District 47 and out of Brannan’s District 43, leaving District 43 with no incumbents and District 47 with two.
An analysis of the two districts by The City shows the extent of the significant boundary shifts, which along with changing demographics lead observers to believe that the election will be hotly contested and difficult to call.
VICE MEDIA GIVES UP WBURG OFFICE, SHIFTS TO REMOTE-ONLY
WILLIAMSBURG — BELEAGUERED MILLENNIAL NEWS OUTLET VICE MEDIA EARLIER this month decided to give up its central Williamsburg office, reports MediaPost, telling staff in an internal email that workers would be switching to remote-only operations while it searches for a replacement for the 77,000 square foot space. The troubled outlet, known for its cutting-edge culture and obscure news reporting, has faced multiple difficulties in recent years, and this spring laid off 250 employees before filing for bankruptcy, allegedly owing $834 million to creditors.
Once hailed as a model example of Brooklyn’s innovative sector, Vice is now described as a “cautionary tale,” reports the New York Times, with difficulties in competing in the online publishing space, management shakeups and allegations of sexual harassment all contributing to the downfall of a company once valued at over $5 billion — now set to be acquired out of bankruptcy for just $350 million.
ST. JAMES CATHEDRAL CONCLUDES JUBILEE YEAR MARKING CHURCH’S BICENTENNIAL
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A SPECIAL MASS CONCLUDED THE JUBILEE YEAR FOR ST. JAMES CHURCH — now a Cathedral — on Monday, Aug. 28, with Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan and Father Bryan Patterson, Rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St. James, concelebrating the liturgy. The Jubilee Year marked the 200th Anniversary of the parish of St. James Church, which was officially dedicated on August 28, 1823. Situated on Jay St. north of Tillary, the parish of St. James was founded in 1822 and was the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn — in fact, on Long Island — and predated the diocese. St. James was designated a cathedral 31 years later, in 1853 when the Diocese of Brooklyn was established, and was elevated to a minor Papal Basilica in 1982.
Prior to this church’s establishment, residents of the Village of Brooklyn had to take a ferry across the East River to attend Mass in Lower Manhattan. They petitioned the Archbishop of New York to establish a parish in Brooklyn.
BROOKLYN JUDGE DEMOTED AS SUPERVISOR
AFTER ROAD RAGE INCIDENT WITH TEACHER
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A BROOKLYN CIVIL COURT JUDGE WAS DEMOTED after abusing her power and cursing at a teacher during a road rage dispute last year, according to the Law Journal and other news reports. The state Commission on Judicial Conduct’s report found that Brooklyn Civil Judge Jill Epstein lost her temper in April 2022 when she wound up stuck behind a double-parked car outside a Pacific Street School. Both the teacher and the judge had parking placards displayed in their vehicles. She identified herself as a judge to school staff and allegedly called out obscenities to the teacher who emerged to move her car.
Epstein was removed from her position as a supervising judge, according to Courts spokesperson Lucien Chalfen. Epstein also sent a handwritten apology to the teacher.
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.
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.
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.
24/7 CAMERA ENFORCEMENT’S FIRST 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.
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.
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.
STATE OFFICIALS: 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.
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.
RETURN OF THE MOOCH: EX-TRUMP OFFICIAL HOSTS ADAMS FUNDRAISER
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.
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.
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