What’s News, Breaking: Thursday, September 7, 2023
VERY SPECIAL TOY STORE COMES
TO HOSPITALIZED CHILDREN AT MAIMONIDES
BOROUGH PARK — CHILDREN WHO ARE HOSPITALIZED MAY FIND SOME JOY IN THE LAUNCH OF “HAPPY SHOP,” taking place next Tuesday, Sept. 12, in conjunction with Maimonides Medical Center and Toys for Hospitalized Children. The Maimonides Children’s Hospital, on 10th Avenue, will be home to the “Happy Shop,” where the children can scan a QR code to ‘buy” a complimentary toy. The treat is then delivered to the child’s hospital room the next morning.
The new program builds on the successful partnership between Maimonides and the nonprofit organization Toys for Hospitalized Children.
ANTI-WEED GROUP LAUNCHES NEW SUIT VS STATE
ALBANY — AN ANTI-MARIJUANA CAMPAIGNING GROUP, THE CANNABIS IMPACT PREVENTION COALITION, HAS FILED a new lawsuit against the state and the Office of Cannabis Management, reports the Times Union, alleging that New York is breaking federal law and engaging in drug trafficking by managing the state’s Cannabis Social Equity Fund, intended to help disadvantaged residents open weed businesses, and overseeing its dispensary licensing process. The lawsuit also names Governor Hochul and several other state officials as defendants, and accuses them personally of “attempting to orchestrate a marijuana trafficking operation sponsored by the state of New York utilizing taxpayer funds and public employees and resources.” The group contends that New York is not allowed to set cannabis policy that contradicts that of the federal government.
The new suit joins several others that have contributed to a very delayed rollout of the state’s recreational marijuana program, including a suit that prevented any dispensary licenses from being issued in Brooklyn until April of this year and another suit filed last month by a group of veterans that temporarily enjoined the state from issuing licenses once again.
LONG ISLAND JOBS WITH JUSTICE WILL HONOR
CANON MARIE TATRO OF EPISCOPAL DIOCESE HERE
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — CANON MARIE TATRO OF THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF LONG ISLAND, WHO HAS FOR MANY YEARS BEEN AFFILIATED WITH PARISHES IN BROOKLYN, will be honored next Wednesday, Sept. 13. Long Island Jobs With Justice will honor Canon Tatro at a ticketed event held at a Bay Shore restaurant for her work as a dedicated organizer and advocate for justice. Tatro serves as the Canon for Community Justice Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, and a Priest Associate at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and Pro-Cathedral. Before seminary, Canon Marie worked for 19 years as an attorney in the non-profit sector, where she represented low-income New Yorkers dealing with the civil court system.
A master of divinity degree graduate of The General Theological Seminary, Canon Tatro holds a juris doctorate from CUNY Law School, and a bachelor of arts cum laude from Amherst College. She has also served in various ordained and law ministries at Grace Church and other parishes within the diocese.
COMPTROLLER SLAMS MIGRANT CONTRACT WITH HEALTH COMPANY
CITYWIDE — CITY COMPTROLLER BRAD LANDER ON WEDNESDAY ANNOUNCED THAT he would not be giving his approval to a deal struck by City Hall with the controversial medical company DocGo to provide services for asylum speakers in exchange for $435 million, reports Spectrum News, citing “numerous outstanding concerns”: these include a lack of transparency over the high price tag, a lack of confidence that a medical services company had the right experience for the job and “serious questions” raised over the company’s responsibility and integrity. The mayor, however, is allowed to override Lander’s objection and sign a contract with DocGo on his own — both Adams and DocGo have announced their intentions to move ahead with or without Lander’s approval.
DocGo has made several blunders in its recent attempt at changing focus from COVID response to immigration management, notably the hiring of 50 unlicensed security guards to monitor upstate hotels in which the city was housing migrants; these lax hiring practices may have resulted in harm to the migrants, including two alleged sexual assaults.
EX-POLICE OFFICER APPEARS TO WAVE GUN AT MIGRANTS
CLINTON HILL — A CLINTON HILL TEMPORARY IMMIGRATION SHELTER WAS SET ON EDGE Monday night, reports The City, after a brawl between two groups of shelter residents over a bike was escalated when an ex-police officer guard intervened by allegedly pointing a handgun at the fighters. Videos taken of the conflict show a chaotic scene: at the start of the footage, a shelter staffer stands between the guard, Jermaine Clark, and an angry resident, before Clark vaults over a low barricade into the center of a group of onlookers, who scatter as he displays the alleged handgun, then follow him down the street and yell while he backs away into the shelter’s lobby.
Police who later arrived at the scene arrested Jose Alvaredo, the man arguing with Clark at the start of the video. Prosecutors say Clark told them Alvaredo had swung a traffic cone at him during the fight, while Alvaredo denied ever swinging the traffic cone and told The City that he felt the situation was unjust, saying that Clark had pointed the gun at him and that the arresting officers had hit him in the stomach with a baton.
OFFICE COMPANY WEWORK TO RENEGOTIATE RENTS
NATIONWIDE — THE COWORKING OFFICE SPACE COMPANY WEWORK on Wednesday announced its intention to approach the landlords for its many worldwide office buildings and renegotiate rents at lower rates, reports the New York Times, citing ongoing difficulties in attracting its target customers — freelancers, startups and small teams — since the pandemic ushered the era of work-from-home. The once-prominent company has faced significant financial turmoil as the need for office space has continued to decline despite a post-COVID return to normal, losing $15 billion since 2017; it recently reported that its occupancy and membership rates had declined in the second quarter from the first this year, and is struggling to keep its share price above the $1 mark that it needs to stay listed in the New York Stock Exchange.
WeWork’s founders began their business partnership in Brooklyn, starting the DUMBO coworking space Greendesk together; the company became an anchor tenant in the new Navy Yard office building Dock 72 in October 2019 — but just three years later announced that it would be downsizing that flagship space due to performance concerns.
INTERFAITH CLERGY GROUP WILL LEAD
ANNUAL 9/11 SERVICE ON THE PROMENADE
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — THE ANNUAL 9/11 INTERFAITH OBSERVANCE on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade continues this coming Monday, as it has for the 22 years since the terror attacks that killed almost 3,000 people: the plane passengers and crew, first-responding personnel, clergy, civilians. On Sept. 11, 2001, people flocked to the Promenade, watching in shock as the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers collapsed after terrorists flying two U.S.-airliners hit them. The Brooklyn Heights Interfaith Clergy Association will lead the 7:15 p.m. commemoration, held at the Montague St. entrance of the Promenade and which will incorporate Scripture, prayers and other readings from several faith traditions.
This observance began in the hours and days following Sept. 11, 2001, in part as a response to a backlash against Muslims. The interfaith dialogue that began in the wake of the terror attacks has led to some now-cherished annual traditions, including the Iftar meals during Ramadan.
‘SHOFAR ACROSS BROOKLYN’ COMES TO SEVERAL NEIGHBORHOODS NEXT WEEKEND
BOROUGHWIDE — BROOKLYN’S JEWISH COMMUNITIES WILL BE ABLE TO HEAR the traditional shofar soundings in several Brooklyn neighborhoods during the High Holy Days, which begin at sundown on Friday, Sept. 15, thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York. The organization is sponsoring “Shofar Across Brooklyn,” featuring 25 outdoor locations across the borough where synagogues and local organizations will sound the traditional Biblical instrument on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 4:30 p.m. Among the sites are Brooklyn Bridge Park, B’SHeRT in Prospect Heights/Kensington, the Promenade with Chabad of Brooklyn Heights, Shorefront YM/YWHA in Sheepshead Bay, and several locations in Park Slope and Prospect Heights, including at Grand Army Plaza. More locations listed online.
Another Rosh HaShanah ritual in which some of the Shofar Across Brooklyn congregations will also participate is the Tashlich tradition, to symbolically throw away one’s sins to start the new year.
HEIGHTS CONDOS TOP CHARTS IN SLOW MONTH FOR LUXURY SALES
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A FOUR-BEDROOM LUXURY CONDO UNIT ON THE BROOKLYN WATERFRONT topped last week’s list of the priciest home sales in the borough, reports the Real Deal, with the 20th floor unit at the Quay Tower changing hands for an estimated $5.4 million. The second most expensive sale in the borough was another four-bedroom apartment, also in Brooklyn Heights at the new 1 Clinton Street building, with an asking price of $4.5 million; this period, however, was a slow one for the luxury market in Brooklyn, with only 10 sales recorded with prices over $2 million.
The luxury apartment buildings edging Brooklyn Bridge Park have become a favorite of celebrities, with “Euphoria” star Zendaya purchasing a unit in the Quay in 2020, while rapper Kendrick Lamar scooped up the penthouse at the Pierhouse, at the opposite end of the park in August.
UPSKIRT PHOTO CREEP TARGETS 11-YEAR-OLD
BROWNSVILLE — POLICE ARE WARNING THE PUBLIC TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR AN UNKNOWN man who on the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 24, approached an 11-year-old girl on Bergen Street near the Kingsborough Houses and began to follow her down the street. He then placed a cellphone beneath the girl’s dress and took pictures with it, before fleeing on foot eastward down Bergen.
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, or on X (Twitter) @NYPDTips.
‘LOCS’ FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND
BED-STUY — THE FOURTH ANNUAL LOC FEST NYC WILL TAKE PLACE AT BED-STUY’S Restoration Plaza this weekend, a daylong celebration of loc hairstyles and the culture surrounding them. Headlined by a hair and fashion show, attendees can catch performances by singers, dancers and drummers, as well as spoken word poetry and panel discussions on topics like wearing locs in the workplace and healthy living; the festival will also feature vendors and artists selling hair care products and handicrafts, along with other goodies.
Loc Fest will take place on Saturday, Sept. 9, from noon to 8 p.m.; tickets cost $30, while kids under 16 enter free and do not require tickets.
FORTIS v SUNY LAWSUIT OVER DISASTROUS DEAL TO DEVELOP LONG ISLAND COLLEGE HOSPITAL (LICH)
COBBLE HILL — FORTIS PROPERTY GROUP’S SEEMINGLY CURSED DEAL to develop the former Long Island College Hospital campus has hit another snag, The Real Deal reports. Last year Fortis had to sell off two of the towers in its $1 billion River Park development. Now, the State University of New York (SUNY), which sold the historic hospital to Fortis for $240 million in 2014 after years of protests and lawsuits, is claiming in court that Fortis never made its third payment. A Fortis spokesperson claimed it was SUNY that failed to satisfy conditions required to close, however. Fortis also said that NYU Langone has backed out of its commitment to lease the medical facility long-term from the developer.
SUNY has terminated the deal and is seeking $8 million that it claims Fortis owes for failing to close, according to TRD. It also intends to keep Fortis’ $7 million deposit. Visit the Brooklyn Eagle’s extensive archive of stories on this topic at brooklyneagle.com/articles/2016/08/09/lich-everything-you-want-to-know-almost-about-the-deal-to-close-long-island-college-hospital/
BED-STUY MAN CHARGED IN LAST MONTH’S SUBWAY ATTACK OF TRANS WOMAN
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A BED-STUY MAN WHO ASSAULTED A TRANS WOMAN ABOARD A SUBWAY TRAIN last month has been indicted on with a hate crime and other charges related to an unprovoked attack. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez identified the defendant as 22-year-old Ian Williams, who was arraigned on Wednesday, September 6 before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Williams is charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree assault, third-degree menacing as a hate crime, forcible touching and other related counts for an August 17 incident aboard a J train J-train at the Myrtle Avenue Station.
Williams was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond and has a November 1 court date. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum sentence of up to four years.
ADAMS CAMPAIGN CHIEF MEETS WITH AZERI LEADERS, AS US SET TO HOLD JOINT EXERCISES WITH ARMENIA
AZERBAIJAN — LONGTIME ERIC ADAMS ALLY AND REELECTION CAMPAIGN LEADER FRANK CARONE, who recently resigned from his position as Adams’ chief of staff in order to start a consulting firm, met with a top aide to Azerbaijan’s president last week in the nation’s capital of Baku, reports the Daily News, according to Carone discussing an upcoming Formula 1 race in the city, as well as “hopes for peace in the region with their neighbors.” Azerbaijan, a close ally of NATO member Turkey, is embroiled in a harsh border dispute with its neighbor Armenia; while Armenia is part of the Russia-led CSTO military alliance, it announced on Wednesday that it will host joint military exercises with U.S. troops for the first time next week, in response to a lack of support from Russia over Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Nagorno-Karabakh border region — an eight-month-long crisis that has left the area’s population on the brink of famine.
Human rights lawyer and Azeri affairs specialist Sheila Paylan told the News that it was “odd that someone who’s an adviser to a politician on the municipal level in New York would go and discuss geopolitical issues in the region.” Adams previously faced criticism over a 2016 all-expenses-paid trip to the country while he was serving as Brooklyn’s borough president that he said was intended to “further the expansion of cross-cultural relationships that will be the foundation of Brooklyn’s prosperity for generations to come.”
CITY, NYPD LAUNCH NEW PLAN TO CURB AUTO THEFT
CITYWIDE — A COMPREHENSIVE NEW PLAN FROM THE MAYOR’S OFFICE AIMS TO CRACK DOWN ON AUTO THEFT throughout the five boroughs, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Wednesday, September 6. The new plan, which incorporates new enforcement strategies, enhanced collaboration between the mayor, city agencies and private companies, utilizes dedicated GLA (Grand Larceny Auto) radio motor patrol cars with license plate readers that each police precinct has acquired. The newly deployed GLA response vehicles and personnel will scan known active hotspot locations and recovery locations within their command to identify potential stolen vehicles and reduce response times by patrol cars when responding to calls for stolen vehicles. They will serve as a liaison to the existing detective squads and a newly-hired coordinator to manage the database of stolen vehicles.
The new plan is in response to a 19% increase in grand larceny auto, grand larceny auto, particularly of certain Kia and Honda models lacking up-to-date anti-theft protection, as part of a crime wave that social media videos have incited.
FREE NARCAN AND TEST STRIP ONLINE ORDERING PORTAL TO LAUNCH
STATEWIDE – GOVERNOR HOCHUL ON TUESDAY ISSUED A PRESS STATEMENT HIGHLIGHTING THE state’s launch of a new online portal through which state residents will be able to order free supplies of the anti-overdose medication naloxone – commonly known by the brand name Narcan – and test strips for the drugs fentanyl and xylazine, as well as overdose and addiction prevention information and a form for organizations to request training in naloxone administration; according to the press statement, New York’s addiction treatment efforts are partially funded by more than $2 billion in legal settlements reached with pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids by state Attorney General Letitia James. The governor also noted that several major pharmacy chains, including Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Rite Aid, will next month begin to sell naloxone after a recent FDA ruling approved its over-the-counter sale nationwide.
The new portal can be found on the webpage of the state Office of Addiction Services and Support; supplies are limited to two vials of naloxone per order and/or a pack of 100 test strips, and arrive in discreet packaging in an estimated 10 to 14 days.
REP. GOLDMAN: BANKS, UTILITIES MUST END ‘SURPRISE’ OVERDRAFT AND INVOICE FEES
BROOKLYN AND NATIONWIDE — THOSE OVERDRAFT FEES AND HIDDEN UTILITY BILL CHARGES could disappear, if Brooklyn Congressman Dan Goldman has his way. Goldman on Wednesday, September 6 held a press conference with NYC Comptroller Brad Lander, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra and impacted New Yorkers where he called on swift action to combat these often-surprise fees which erode Americans’ budgets by more than $65 billion annually. Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation to further crack down on junk fees, to expand upon what President Biden and the executive branch are authorized to do, with airline and show ticket fees.
A 2019 Consumer Reports study found that at least 85% of Americans have experienced a hidden or unexpected fee for a service in the previous two years.
DOT FINISHES SOME SAFETY PROJECTS IN TIME FOR SCHOOLS’ OPENING
BOROUGH PARK, SUNSET PARK AND CITYWIDE — THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION HAS COMPLETED 15 SAFETY PROJECTS located within 250 feet of schools across the city, with another 29 in progress, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced on Wednesday, September 6, in advance of Thursday’s opening of schools. Rodriguez is urging motorists to drive carefully when school begins, and advises schools to apply for the Open Streets Program. The aforementioned safety projects, including two in Brooklyn, have increased pedestrian space and reduced crossing distances, and have added vertical elements that slow drivers. New raised crosswalks were installed in front of PS 192 at 18th Ave & 47th St. in Borough Park, and PS 94 at 6th Ave & 50 St. in Sunset Park.
So far this year, 62 Open Streets have been approved for schools, with 10 further applications currently under review. Interested schools should learn more and apply at nyc.gov/openstreets.
CITY PUBLIC ADVOCATE HIGHLIGHTS FAULTS IN CANNABIS LICENSING
CITYWIDE — THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE HIGHLIGHTED BUSINESS CONCERNS SURROUNDING MARIJUANA LICENSING AND REGULATION ON WEDNESDAY, saying that at a Dept. Consumer and Worker Protection meeting about the topic, New Yorkers might not have consumer adequate skills to discern which shops are legitimate, and which are illegitimate. Especially concerning is the proximity of marijuana products to underage children, and the appeal to underage children in the marketing used to sell marijuana products. Since the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, the state’s Cannabis Control Board has issued over 450 conditional adult-use licenses, yet less than 25 businesses are currently operating. Among other suggestions, Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams suggested that currently unlicensed stores be issued temporary, transitional licenses to ensure their cooperation with regulatory authorities, saying: “One other consideration in addressing this growing issue could be the legitimization of certain unlicensed retailers via transitional licenses, which would ultimately place them under state regulation and ensure health and safety guidelines are followed, and of course, that there are no sales to underage individuals.”
“My greatest concern with these unlicensed retailers is that, along with being unlicensed, what is being sold is also unregulated,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams in a press statement on Wednesday. “There is no uniform way to know what an individual is purchasing. Products sold in unlicensed shops often subvert state packaging laws that require clear testing information.”
ASIAN MAN ATTACKED WITH STICK IN PROSPECT PARK
PARK SLOPE — POLICE ARE SEARCHING FOR AN UNKNOWN MAN WHO on Saturday, Sept. 2 around noon approached a 46-year-old man, brandished a stick at him while making anti-Asian remarks and then struck the victim with the stick, before fleeing the park on foot. The male victim was treated by EMS at the scene, and police say the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident; police on Tuesday also released photos of the attacker in an effort to identify him.
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, or on X (Twitter) @NYPDTips.
CITY LAWYER NABBED IN DUI CRASH
PARK SLOPE – LAW DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT CORPORATION COUNSEL Philip Simonelli, age 29, was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning after allegedly crashing a car while driving under the influence of alcohol and refusing a Breathalyzer test, reports the Daily News. Simonelli was hit with six charges, including reckless driving and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting; police said that the 2:20 a.m. arrest was made after the attorney had already left the scene of the accident.
The arrest was made in the 78th Precinct; this area includes Park Slope and Prospect Park, as well as parts of Gowanus.
MORE THAN 4 MILLION STUDENT BORROWERS IN NEW DEBT PLAN
NATIONWIDE — THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ON TUESDAY ANNOUNCED THAT more than four million student debtors nationwide have signed up for the president’s signature debt relief effort, known as the SAVE Plan, since applications opened this summer, including 212,000 borrowers in New York state. The SAVE Plan is a new income-based repayment program that helps reduce debt burdens for federal borrowers by raising the income limit for repayment calculations above that offered by previous IBR plans, cutting monthly payments in half and eliminating loan interest for those that make monthly payments on time, among other benefits.
More information about the plan’s benefits, as well as signup forms, can be found online on the Department of Education’s student aid webpage.
BISHOP OF BROOKLYN DIOCESE INAUGURATES NEW SCHOOL YEAR AT ST. ATHANASIUS ACADEMY
BENSONHURST — CATHOLIC SCHOOL CHILDREN GOT A SPECIAL VISIT FROM THE BISHOP OF BROOKLYN on their first day of school, Wednesday, September 6. Bishop Robert Brennan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn marked the new beginning starting at 7:45 a.m. when he greeted students arriving at St. Athanasius Catholic Academy on Bay Parkway and 61st Street in Bensonhurst. Bishop Brennan joined St. Athanasius Academy Principal Diane Competello in welcoming the students, teachers, and parents back to school for the 2023-2024 academic year in the schoolyard, and then led the morning prayer.
The Diocese of Brooklyn (Deacon Kevin McCormack as superintendent) is home to 69 Catholic elementary schools and 15 high schools, and enrolls nearly 30,000 students.
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