What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, September 13, 2023
GROUND BROKEN FOR DEKALB COMMONS,
NEW CARBON-NEUTRAL HOUSING PROJECT
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — GROUND WAS BROKEN ON WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 13, FOR DEKALB COMMONS, a set of three new 100% affordable housing developments in Central Brooklyn. The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) and St. Nicks Alliance celebrated the groundbreaking of three buildings (652 Dekalb Avenue, 639 Dekalb Ave. and 1187 Fulton St.) with 85 units, including 13 set aside for formerly homeless individuals and 1,187 square feet of commercial space. The project received a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s ‘Buildings of Excellence’ Blue Ribbon Award, demonstrating commitment to building more carbon-neutral-ready multi-family spaces.
Since its founding in 1967, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp. has constructed and preserved more than 7,500 affordable housing units and helped over 1,500 prospective owners secure $60 million in mortgage financing. In addition to developing affordable housing, Restoration provides a range of housing services for local residents including rental assistance and eviction protection.
NY DOUBLES FINES ON ANNOYING, RULE-BREAKING TELEMARKETERS
STATEWIDE — GOV. KATHY HOCHUL SIGNED LEGISLATION on Wednesday to crack down on telemarketers who pester New Yorkers with continuous, unwanted calls. This legislation will nearly double the maximum fine for telemarketers violating the Do Not Call Registry from $11,000 to $20,000. “Today, we’re raising the penalty for violators … to deter telemarketers, protect New Yorkers, and send a clear message that New York won’t tolerate these frustrating, unsolicited calls,” Hochul said in a statement.
Some of the past violators of the Do Not Call Registry include numerous energy companies such as Citizens Choice Energy, Plymouth Rock Energy and Hiko Energy; media companies including Gannett, Newsday and DIRECTTV; and, a variety of marketing companies. People can get on the registry at donotcall.gov.
BROOKLYN LAWMAKERS: ARMY CORPS’
FLOOD PROTECTION PLAN IS INSUFFICIENT
CITYWIDE TO HUDSON VALLEY — A MORE COMPREHENSIVE FLOOD PLAN IS NEEDED TO PROTECT New York and New Jersey, say members of Brooklyn’s Congressional delegation and a bipartisan group of colleagues. Together they have drafted a letter to the Army Corps. of Engineers expressing concern that the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study and its upcoming Agency Decision Milestone (tentatively scheduled for release this summer) fails to comply with the Water Resources Development Acts of 2020 and 2022 and President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. The lawmakers itemized several steps to improve flooding protection for the region: issue and implement guidance based on the aforementioned laws, Issue a Supplemental DEIS for public review and comment, and make sure that disadvantaged communities are properly protected.
Leading the effort are Reps. Dan Goldman (D-10) and Nydia Velazquez (D-7), along with House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-8) and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-9).
AMY CASSELLO NAMED AS BAM’S INTERIM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — BROOKLYN ACADEMY OF MUSIC ANNOUNCED on Wednesday the appointment of Amy Cassello, associate producer of BAM’s renowned Next Wave Festival, as the organization’s interim artistic director. Calling her a “highly-regarded fixture of the Brooklyn and downtown arts scene,” BAM President Gina Duncan said that Cassello — who oversees all BAM programming — has played a “key role” in stewarding BAM’s programming for many years.
The appointment comes after David Binder concluded his artistic director tenure at BAM on July 2. Binder will remain at BAM as artistic advisor through the remainder of 2023.
BACK FROM FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM IN GHANA, GLOBAL KIDS GROUP MEETS WITH MAYOR ADAMS
EAST NEW YORK AND CITY HALL — FOUR BROOKLYN STUDENTS FROM GLOBAL KIDS — a nonprofit organization that develops youth leaders, had the chance to meet with Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner of NYC Department of Youth & Community Development Keith Howard at City Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 12, to celebrate their work in the African nation Ghana. The students, who are recent graduates of Transit Tech High School in East New York, discussed their experiences abroad and presented Mayor Adams with an honorary stole from the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa (HACSA) Sankofa Young Leaders Fellowship, in which they participated during July. During their 12-day trip in Ghana, the students visited museums and natural history sites, including Elmina Castle and the Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm; participated in educational seminars, workshops and fairs that focused on Ghanaian history and culture; and, were given mentorship and volunteering opportunities.
Global Kids organized the Sankofa Young Leaders Fellowship, with underwriting from the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.
GRANT WILL HELP CUNY BOOST NUMBER OF SPECIAL ED TEACHERS
CITYWIDE — A FEDERAL GRANT WILL HELP SIX CUNY COLLEGES, INCLUDING TWO IN BROOKLYN, DEVELOP COURSES in early childhood special education, CUNY announced Wednesday. CUNY will partner with NYC-based Kennedy Children’s Center in the effort, which is supported by a two-year, $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The partnership, led by Borough of Manhattan Community College, includes Brooklyn College and Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, plus Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College and LaGuardia Community College.
According to BMCC, the city faces a “dire shortage” of early childhood special ed teachers.
DRIVER CHARGED IN COLLISION THAT
KILLED PEDESTRIAN IN CROSSWALK
GRAVESEND — THE NYPD AND THE CITY DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION on Wednesday afternoon released updated information regarding a fatal collision on Tuesday, Sept. 12, involving a pedestrian pushing a child’s stroller and the driver of a pickup truck. The victim, now identified as Xia Ying Chen, age 66, was in the crosswalk, walking northbound across Bath Avenue within the 62nd Precinct when 56-year-old Faheem Shabazz of Troy Avenue, driving a red Dodge pickup truck, struck her. Ms. Chen sustained severe head and body trauma and was pronounced deceased at NYU Langone Hospital. The two-year-old girl, name withheld, was thrown from the stroller, sustaining bruises and scratches, and was listed on Wednesday as being in stable condition at Maimonides Medical Center.
The driver, who remained on the scene, was later arrested and charged with two counts of failure to yield to a pedestrian.
UPCOMING SALE OF NY GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS
WILL HELP FINANCE TRANSIT, EDUCATION, CLIMATE
STATEWIDE — NY STATE COMPTROLLER THOMAS P. DINAPOLI on Wednesday, Sept. 13, announced the details of an upcoming negotiated sale of tax-exempt and taxable New York state General Obligation bonds scheduled for Sept. 27th and 28th, currently totaling approximately $543 million. A general obligation bond is a municipal bond backed only by the issuing jurisdiction’s credit and power to tax, rather than from the revenue the bond generates. The state expects to sell $459.4 million for new money transportation, education and environmental purposes with the Series 2023A, 2023B and 2023D bonds.
Market conditions permitting, the state expects to sell $83.4 million or more of Series 2023C bonds to refund a portion of certain outstanding General Obligation bonds to reduce the state’s overall debt service costs.
BROOKLYN MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS FOR SEX TRAFFICKING TEEN FROM OHIO
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A BROOKLYN MAN HAS BEEN SENTENCED to 10 years in prison for the sex trafficking of an 18-year-old girl for whom he bought a bus ticket from Ohio to New York with promises of a modeling career, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced Wednesday. Allen Barrington, 38, of East Flatbush, forced the unsuspecting girl to work in prostitution on the track in East New York, was physically violent towards her and threatened to hurt her grandmother. He was sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
“This defendant lured an innocent teenager from her home in Ohio to New York promising to fulfill her dream of a modeling career, but instead he horrifically exploited her in a sex trafficking nightmare,” Gonzalez said in a release.
ALL FIVE NYC PENSION FUNDS SUE FOX NEWS
CITYWIDE — ALL FIVE NEW YORK CITY EMPLOYEE PENSION FUNDS FILED a shareholder lawsuit Wednesday against Fox Corporation for breach of fiduciary duty. The city’s pension funds own more than $27 million in class A and B shares of Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News Network. The complaint alleges that the board knew that Fox News’ promotion of political falsehoods created defamation risk, starting with false claims that murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich provided hacked emails to WikiLeaks and continuing through false claims that election technology companies U.S. Dominion, Inc. and Smartmatic USA Corp. rigged the 2020 presidential election — leading to a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion.
“Fox’s board of directors has blatantly disregarded the need for journalistic standards and failed to put safeguards in place despite having a business model that invites defamation litigation,” said city Comptroller Brad Lander.
TOURISTS ARE BACK, WITH $$$ FLOWING TO NYC
STATEWIDE — TOURIST SPENDING ACROSS NEW YORK STATE and in New York City boomed in 2022, according to an economic study released Wednesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul. The state welcomed a record 291.5 million visitors in 2022, generating more than $78.6 billion in direct spending and $123 billion in total economic impact — with NYC receiving 60% of this amount. Brooklyn took in 6% of the dollars from visitors to the city, with tourist-related sales in the borough amounting to roughly $300 million. The majority of visitor spending — 70% — took place in Manhattan, while 21% of tourist dollars were spent in Queens. The Bronx received 2% of visitor purchases, while Staten Island received only 1%.
“New York’s pandemic recovery has been one for the history books,“ Hochul said in a release. The data from Tourism Economics is available online.
BROOKLYN WOMAN RESCUED
ON ULSTER COUNTY HIKING TRAIL
BROOKLYN AND ULSTER COUNTY — THE RESCUE LAST WEEKEND OF A BROOKLYN WOMAN from the Burroughs Ridge Trail in Ulster County has prompted the State Dept. of Environmental Conservation to caution New Yorkers, especially less experienced hikers, to prepare thoroughly and have sufficient gear. Forest rangers on Sept. 9 rescued a 36-year-old Brooklyn woman, whose name was not released and who had underestimated her planned hike, had no source of light and an insufficient food supply. Rangers provided food, hydration, and a headlamp, and then hiked the subject to the trailhead.
Anyone needing a Forest Ranger, whether it’s for a search and rescue, to report a wildfire, or to report illegal activity on state lands and easements, should call 833-NYS-RANGERS or, in an emergency, 9/11.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES SUES
TRAVEL COMPANY OVER DENIED REFUNDS
STATEWIDE — A TRAVEL COMPANY THAT DENIED ITS CLIENTS REFUNDS FOR CANCELLATIONS is facing a lawsuit from NY Attorney General Letitia James, her office announced on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Massachusetts-based Vantage Travel Services, Inc., and its founder and owner, Henry R. Lewis, is accused of failing to refund thousands of dollars to more than 100 New Yorkers whose tours were canceled, including because of COVID-19, after the Office of the Attorney General received dozens of complaints from New Yorkers in New York City, Albany, Westchester and Long Island. The lawsuit charges that Vantage Travel and Lewis engaged in deceptive business practices: by failing to honor the company’s policy to promptly refund consumers, and by mischaracterizing its trip cancellations as “postponements.”
Attorney General James seeks full restitution for all impacted New Yorkers, civil penalties, and disgorgement (forfeiting ill-gotten profits). consumers who believe they have been the victim of these practices to file a consumer complaint online or contact OAG at (800) 771-7755.
FEDERAL WORKERS COMING TO NEW YORK TO HELP WITH ASYLUM SEEKERS
CITYWIDE — FIFTY FEDERAL WORKERS ARE SET TO ARRIVE in New York starting this week to help with the influx of migrants, a senior White House official said Tuesday, according to Spectrum News. The official also said a lease for the city to use the federally-owned Floyd Bennett Field for a shelter is set to be finalized “imminently.” Another administration official said that thousands of migrants were already eligible to apply for work authorization.
The Department of Homeland Security told Spectrum that the agency has sent more than 1 million emails and texts to hundreds of thousands of migrants, reminding them of their employment eligibility and how to apply.
ANOTHER PEDESTRIAN FATALITY, AS TRUCK HITS GRANDMOTHER WITH STROLLER, IN GRAVESEND
BATH BEACH/GRAVESEND — A 66-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WAS KILLED IN A PEDESTRIAN CROSSWALK while pushing her granddaughter in a stroller across Bath & 25th Avenues on Tuesday, the day after the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives released its latest statistics on traffic accidents. The Daily News reported that, around 1 p.m. on Sept. 12, a Dodge pickup truck making a left turn at the intersection hit the woman, identified only as the child’s grandmother, who was taken to NYU Langone Medical Center. The child in the stroller sustained bruises and was taken separately to Maimonides Medical Center for treatment, but sensing her grandmother’s absence was crying.
The driver, who remained on the scene, is believed to be an MTA employee on his way to a nearby depot, the Daily News reported. No charges had been filed as of press time.
COMMON U.S. DECONGESTANT DOESN’T WORK AT ALL, FDA SAYS
NATIONWIDE — MIGHT AS WELL THROW OUT THOSE MEDS: The standard decongestant in many of the country’s most popular cold medicines is totally useless when taken orally, an advisory panel to the FDA Food and Drug Administration ruled on Tuesday, according to the New York Times. The FDA now has to decide whether or not to ban the ingredient, phenylephrine, and remove products containing it from shelves — though drug companies will likely try to delay this action.
The decongestant is in at least 250 products that were worth nearly $1.8 billion in sales last year. Among the products: Sudafed Sinus Congestion, Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe, NyQuil Severe Cold & Flu, Theraflu Severe Cold Relief, Mucinex Sinus Max and others.
POLICE: BROOKLYN RESTAURANT OWNER INTENTIONALLY DROVE CAR INTO MIGRANTS
CLINTON HILL — A BROOKLYN RESTAURANT OWNER intentionally drove his car into two men early Sunday morning as they sat outside a migrant shelter, allegedly trying to kill them because an unrelated DoorDash delivery worker stole food from his restaurant, BurgerIM, Gothamist reports. Hamzeh Alwawi, 42, posted $30,000 bond after being held on Rikers Island and was released Monday. Alwawi had plowed into the men outside the shelter on Hall Street in Clinton Hill around 2:50 a.m., police say.
One victim, Venezuelan Lozano Bracho, told Gothamist he did not know Alwawi and hadn’t delivered food from his business. “This [country] was supposed to be safer, but I never imagined my life would be in the hands of this driver, this American who was about to drive over me to kill me,” he said.
NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: KEEP AN EYE ON HURRICANE LEE
CITYWIDE — NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT said that it is monitoring the course of Hurricane Lee, a Category 3 storm south of Bermuda as of Tuesday, and is preparing for any potential impacts. Although the storm poses no immediate threat to the city, NYCEM is urging residents to stay vigilant. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the deployment of 50 soldiers from the National Guard on Long Island as the hurricane continues to move northwest. Even without a direct hit, the storm could cause dangerous high surf, rip currents, coastal flooding, and beach erosion along parts of the east coast later this week.
“We are keeping a close eye on this storm because it’s too early to predict what this potentially dangerous weather system will do,” Hochul said. NYCEM urges residents to be aware of their evacuation zones by checking NYC.gov/KnowYourZone.
NYC ANNOUNCES NEW PLAN TO REIMAGINE ‘CHAOTIC’ CURB SPACE
CITYWIDE — MAYOR ERIC ADAMS AND NYCDOT COMMISSIONER YDANIS RODRIGUEZ announced on Tuesday a new effort to “reimagine the city’s curb space” with a pilot program which will test strategies around loading zones, delivery micro-hubs, street furniture, delivery worker “relief stations,” waste containerization, expanded bike parking and corrals, carshare zones, low emission zones and other uses of curb space. The city will also seek state authorization to charge for non-metered parking spaces.
With the explosion in home deliveries and growing range of transportation modes on city streets, curb space has become increasingly sought after, competitive and chaotic, the administration said in unveiling its new “Curb Management Action Plan.”
NEW CEO AT PIONEER WORKS ARTS & SCIENCES CENTER IN RED HOOK
RED HOOK — THE BOARD OF PIONEER WORKS ANNOUNCED on Tuesday that Mara Manus, former executive director of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), has been appointed as the organization’s new chief executive officer. “After an extensive search, we are elated to have found a person of Mara’s caliber who is innately capable of seeing our vision through and also motivated by it,” said Austin Hearst, chair of Pioneer Works’s board. The nonprofit cultural center in Red Hook fosters programming in the visual and performing arts, technology, music and science — 85% of which is presented free-of-charge.
Manus replaces former Executive Director Maxine Dalio. Jill Eisenhard has been acting as Interim Executive Director while the board conducted the search.
FIRST ASIAN AMERICAN JUDGE NAMED TO APPELLATE TERM
ALBANY AND DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — NY STATE CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE JOSEPH A. ZAYAS on Tuesday, Sept. 12, announced the appointment of Hon. Phillip Hom as Associate Justice of the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, Second Department, in the 2nd, 11th and 13th Judicial District. Justice Hom becomes the first Asian American to sit on this appellate bench which, under the leadership of Presiding Justice Wavny Toussaint, hears appeals from the Civil and Criminal Courts in Kings, Queens and Richmond counties. Elected in 2019 to serve in State Supreme Court in Queens County, Justice Hom has presided over a wide range of civil matters, including foreclosure, divorce, election law and other cases. He has held a variety of positions in the public sector.
Justice Hom fills a vacancy created by last month’s elevation of Hon. Lourdes M. Ventura to the Appellate Division, Second Department, and his appointment was made after consultation with Hon. Hector LaSalle, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department.
A-LISTERS, MODELS TAKE OVER DOMINO PARK FOR FASHION WEEK EVENT IN BROOKLYN
WILLIAMSBURG — IN SUITABLY BREATHLESS PROSE, the Daily Mail covered the Michael Kors show, a New York Fashion Week event held in Brooklyn’s Domino Park, with bold face descriptions of models and A-list TV and film stars “flashing cleavage” and “flaunting toned legs” in hot pants, just “oozing self-confidence” as they posed with the Williamsburg Bridge as a backdrop.
Some of the sightings included Olivia Wilde (“Don’t Worry Darling,” “Tron,” “House”), described by the Daily Mail as “the blonde ex of Jason Sudeikis”; Blake Lively (“Green Lantern”), Halle Berry (“Cloud Atlas,” “Bruised”) and many, many more.
EAST FLATBUSH LIQUOR STORE SELLS
WINNING TAKE 5 LOTTERY TICKET
EAST FLATBUSH — A MERCHANT IN EAST FLATBUSH SOLD THE ONE TOP-PRIZE winning ticket in the Monday, Sept. 11, TAKE 5 Evening Drawing. Exclusive Wines & Liquors Inc. at 5704 Clarendon Rd. sold the ticket worth $33,686.50. TAKE 5 numbers are drawn from a field of one through 39, with drawings televised twice daily at 2:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
A lottery draw game prize of any amount may be claimed up to one year from the date of the drawing; prizes of more than $600 must be claimed at a New York Lottery Customer Service Center, by appointment only.
MAN WHO TERRORIZED HIS CROWN HEIGHTS NEIGHBORS IS BEHIND BARS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A MAN ACCUSED OF TERRORIZING his Black neighbors was behind bars on Monday after not meeting bail set by Judge Danny Chun in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He was also ordered to stay away from his building. NBC4 reports that Steven Attonasso, 68, was charged with eight counts of making terroristic threats as a hate crime to his neighbors at the Ebbets Field Apartments in Crown Heights. He is the only suspect in an April 6 arson that killed another man on his floor; the fire was set just days after he threatened to burn his Black neighbors. “I slept with a fire extinguisher next to my bed,” one neighbor told NBC4.
“He’ll scream, ‘I’m gonna burn you N-words!'” Raquel Harris, who lives on the 11th floor with Attonasso, told NBC4 in June. Tenants credit the channel’s I-Team for keeping the issue in the news for a year.
BROOKLYN WILL GET NEW CLEAN ENERGY HUB,
AS CON EDISON BREAKS GROUND ON PROJECT
VINEGAR HILL — CON EDISON IS BREAKING GROUND ON A NEW CLEAN ENERGY HUB that is expected to offer connections for offshore wind and create more than 500 union jobs, the energy company announced on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The Clean Energy Hub, which will be situated on the banks of the East River in Vinegar Hill, just east of DUMBO and near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, will serve as a critical plug-in point for future offshore wind infrastructure, and will accommodate up to 1,500 megawatts or enough electricity to power 750,000 homes. Con Edison consulted with community leaders on plans for the Brooklyn Clean Energy Hub building designs; and several have already publicly endorsed the project, including Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso; City Councilmember Lincoln Restler (D-33); Randy Peers, president and chief executive of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; and Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Downtown Partnership. So has Shay O’Reilly, senior organizing representative for the Sierra Club.
Barges will deliver some components and construction materials to the site, minimizing traffic on local streets.
THE CITY: THE GROUND IS COLLAPSING UNDER HOMES IN CANARSIE
CANARSIE — THE GROUND IS COLLAPSING UNDER HOUSES in Canarsie, causing the floors of an unknown number of them to collapse, THE CITY publication reported. Some owners are not reporting the damage to officials as required, fearing eviction. The article describes the experience of Alvin Henry, who was ordered to vacate his semi-detached, three-story house in Canarsie after the floors opened up. It was “a catastrophe,” he said.
“Tiles were cracked and furniture in the spare bedroom tilted towards the center of the room. In the garage, a lawn mower, leaf blower and other equipment tipped into a crevasse,” THE CITY writes.
LAWSUIT LOOMS OVER LOUD LOO IN BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK IS EXPLORING the possibility of making “acoustic renovations” to a public bathroom in the park following a “years-long legal battle” with the owners of a condo located directly over the loud loo, THE CITY reports. Salim Samaha, his wife Kimberly Su, and their family — including a young child and Su’s elderly mother — say the toilets on the first floor of their building are a nightmare, causing them to endure nonstop sleepless nights since they bought their five-bedroom unit for almost $5 million in June 2019.
The constant flushing creates a “banging” and “water hammer” effect as well as vibrations from the park-operated bathroom directly beneath their apartment at the Pierhouse Condominium on Furman Street, their lawsuit claims.
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