What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, September 19, 2023
BILL TO BAN CERTAIN PESTICIDES
REINTRODUCED IN CONGRESS
NATIONWIDE — REP. NYDIA M. VELÁZQUEZ (D-07/NORTHERN BROOKLYN) ON TUESDAY, SEPT. 19, REINTRODUCED the Ban All Neurotoxic Organophosphate Pesticides from Our Food Act. This legislation would prohibit the use in food of organophosphate pesticides, which are human-made chemical substances that are used on crops and have been shown to pose health risks to farmworkers. The chemical is also a risk to children’s neurodevelopment and neurological function, including exposure before birth.
Two other Representatives from the New York Congressional delegation are co-sponsoring the bill, including Jamaal Bowman (D-northern Bronx) and Grace Meng (D-Queens). Said Rep. Velázquez, “These pesticides during early life have been linked to irreversible harm to the developing brain, which can result in long-term effects like attention disorders, autism, and reduced IQ.”
BPL’S CHIEF LIBRARIAN IS NAMED
TO 2023 TIME100 NEXT LIST
FOR BOOKS UNBANNED PROGRAM
BOROUGHWIDE — Brooklyn Public Library (BPL)’s Chief Librarian, Nick Higgins, has been named to the 2023 TIME100 NEXT LIST, which highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, health, science, and activism. Higgins was recognized for his leading role in what became a nationwide fight against censorship and book banning — his creation of BPL’s Books Unbanned, a program providing teens nationwide, ages 13 to 21, access to Brooklyn Public Library’s entire digital collection, which has led to a movement in which seven thousand teens from all 50 states applying for a card.
As the American Library Association reports the demand for book removals, particularly about Black history and unconventional families, a growing number of libraries have countered this by joining Books Unbanned, with more signing on this year.
TIMES: CONNECTICUT TOWN CONTINUES TO BURN EFFIGY OF BRITISH TRAITOR, BENEDICT ARNOLD
NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT — THE TOWN OF NEW LONDON HAS NOT FORGOTTEN THE BETRAYAL OF BENEDICT ARNOLD, the man who let the British burn everything to the ground in 1781. While the burning of Arnold’s effigy is a piece of street theater, according to The New York Times, the ceremony is a tradition that began in the 19th century that keeps rabble-rousers in Connecticut close to their local roots. Arnold ascended to the ranks of major general, eventually forfeiting his loyalty to the Continental Army and defecting in 1780, offering to surrender West Point for a bribe from the British. George Washington was an admirer of Arnold and gave him command of West Point. The plan to surrender West Point failed when John Andre, a major in the British Army and head of intelligence operations during the Revolutionary War, was caught by American militiamen with papers exposing the plan. Andre was hanged.
“The town that Benedict Arnold burned now burns Benedict Arnold,” David Calder, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester told the Times’ Amelia Nierenberg. Yet, the effigy is not wholly burnt — New London’s townspeople save Arnold’s leg, which he injured fighting the British.
BRITAIN’S PRINCE WILLIAM, IN NYC FOR SUMMIT,
GETS TOUR OF BILLION OYSTER PROJECT
GOVERNORS ISLAND — THE BILLION OYSTER PROJECT, A REEF RESTORATION AND SHELLFISH-BIVALVE REPOPULATION PROJECT, has the attention of Great Britain’s Prince William, who on Monday, Sept. 18, got a first-hand look at the waters off New York City’s Governors Island. The Prince of Wales is in New York for an environmental summit connected to a global competition for solutions to climate change challenges. Prince William was scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 19, to speak at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit, which focuses on the award that he founded to honor those who address problems created by climate change, and is announcing a second group of finalists.
Several stories about the Billion Oyster Project have been published in the Brooklyn Eagle, including about a group of students exploring the program at Bush Terminal Park, juvenile oysters being homesteaded in Williamsburg’s Domino Park, and about the project itself.
PUBLIC HEARING ON CAPITOL HILL WILL ADDRESS
USE OF FEDERAL LANDS FOR HOUSING MIGRANTS
FLOYD BENNETT FIELD & CAPITOL HILL — THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES will hold a public hearing next week regarding the Biden Administration’s use of federal parkland for migrant facilities, the office of Rep. Nicole Malliotakis announced on Tuesday, just hours after the Brooklyn Congresswoman and a bipartisan group of elected officials and local residents filed a lawsuit on this issue. City Councilwoman Ariola is expected to testify at the hearing, scheduled for Wednesday morning, Sept. 27, on Capitol Hill, as are Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, the National Park Service, U.S. Park Police, and the Department of the Interior.
Rep. Malliotakis had on Monday, Sept. 18, during a tour of Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park, advocated for a public hearing to be convened on protecting federal lands, particularly those where security protocol is in effect, such as for military bases where service personnel are domiciled.
$24M RESTORATION OF ST. ANDREWS PLAYGROUND COMING TO BEDFORD-STUYVESANT
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — THE NYC PARKS DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCED A $23.9 MILLION RESTORATION of the run-down St. Andrew’s playground in Bed-Stuy on Monday, with a joyful press gathering including NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick, Councilmembers Chi Ossé and Crystal Hudson, and community members. Parks had previously announced a reconstruction of just the playground areas; thanks to additional funding, the city will be able to complete a full renovation. “With new play areas for kids, revamped sports facilities, additional seating and shade, storm resiliency infrastructure and more, we are investing in a community space that the neighborhood can cherish for generations,” Donoghue said.
The funding announcement comes on the heels of the release of a draft for the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan, for a stretch of roughly 13 blocks along Atlantic Avenue, that will encourage the development of a lively, mixed-use business and residential corridor in the heart of Central Brooklyn.
BROOKLYN CONGRESSMEMBER SUES TO BLOCK
USE OF FEDERAL LANDS FOR HOUSING MIGRANTS
NEIGHBORHOOD — CONTINUING EFFORTS TO BLOCK FEDERAL LANDS FROM BEING USED TO HOUSE MIGRANTS, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) and a bipartisan group of elected officials have filed a lawsuit that would block President Biden, NY Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams from using federal property to shelter migrants. A day after Rep. Malliotakis introduced a bill in Congress that would ban federal funds from being used to house migrants at military bases — including the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton — she and her coalition, including Assemblywoman Jaime Williams (D-59/Canarsie to Gerritsen Beach) and Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park area), filed a lawsuit in Staten Island Supreme Court.
Rep. Malliotakis on Monday hosted members of the House Committee on Natural Resources on a tour of migrant shelters across New York City, including Floyd Bennett Field in southeastern Brooklyn and the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, although her group was reportedly denied entry even though advance arrangements had been made.
IDEAS SOUGHT FOR GREEN-INDUSTRY
MANUFACTURING BUILDING AT NAVY YARD
BROOKLYN NAVY YARD — THE BROOKLYN NAVY YARD DEVELOPMENT CORP. IS SEEKING DESIGN IDEAS FOR THE FIRST MAJOR GROUND-UP PROJECT under its master plan and has released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for conceptual designs for a new industrial and commercial building along Kent Avenue, CEO Lindsay Greene told Crain’s New York Business this week. The RFP indicates that the building should be suitable for manufacturing and that public amenity, retail and showroom space will be needed, among other specifications. The building also should be environmentally friendly with net-zero emissions, a small carbon footprint and a design that can withstand rising sea levels. Greene envisions the new building becoming home to innovative climate-friendly industries.
The building will likely span between 700,000 and 1 million square feet, and with an estimated completion frame of five years, according to Greene.
CUNY COLLEGES RANK HIGH IN U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT 2024 SURVEY
CITYWIDE — CUNY COLLEGES HAVE RECEIVED HIGH MARKS for their effectiveness in promoting social mobility as well as their overall quality, in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report rankings released on Tuesday. The survey names 10 CUNY four-year colleges among the top public colleges in the north region. The City College of New York also ranked among the top public colleges nationally (tied at 51).
According to the rankings, the top public universities in the north region include Baruch (2), John Jay (5), Hunter (tied at 6), Lehman (tied at 11), Brooklyn College (tied at 14), NYC College of Technology (tied at 14), Medgar Evers (15), Queens College (16), College of Staten Island (tied at 36) and York College (tied at 46).
A 23-YEAR-OLD OVERDOSED AT BROOKLYN MIRAGE IN 2021, BUT IT WAS NEVER REPORTED
EAST WILLIAMSBURG — A 23-YEAR-OLD GIRL OVERDOSED AT THE TROUBLE-PLAGUED BROOKLYN MIRAGE in 2021, but it was never reported to regulators, Gothamist reports. Medical records show that Genesis Reynoso was admitted to the hospital early in the morning of Oct. 4, 2021, going into cardiac arrest four different times over the coming hours. By the end of the day, she was dead. Over this summer, two men were found dead — in separate incidents — in the nearby Newtown Creek after attending or trying to attend events at the Mirage.
The state Liquor Authority knew about two prior overdose deaths that had taken place at the club, but were not informed about Reynoso’s because she was transported to the hospital by a private ambulance the Mirage had on standby, which “left no paper trail,” Gothamist reported.
FAMILY IN GUATEMALA AND SUNSET PARK MOURNS TEEN WHO WAS KILLED ON WAY HOME FROM WORK
SUNSET PARK — THE YOUTH WHO WAS KILLED ON A MOPED IN THE EARLY HOURS OF SATURDAY, SEPT. 16, WAS AN IMMIGRANT from Guatemala who had bought the vehicle as a reliable way of getting work, one of his sisters has told the Daily News. Josue Mardoqueo Vicente Yac, whom police initially said was 19 years old, was actually just 17. The NYPD responded to the collision around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday after the driver of a tractor-trailer struck Josue while making a right turn from 4th Avenue to 39th Street. Josue, who was on his way home from work at the time he was killed, had been working two jobs as a kitchen assistant, but missed being near his family.
“About two months ago, he bought the moped because the trains were so slow,” Viviana Vicente Yac, 27, told the Daily News, speaking in Spanish. “He used it to get early to work. He wanted to be responsible and punctual to his jobs.”
FRANCIS COLLEGE, ROCKROSE SEEK TO DISMISS LAWSUIT OVER SALE OF BROOKLYN HEIGHTS CAMPUS
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — ST. FRANCIS COLLEGE AND DEVELOPER ROCKROSE WANT TO HAVE A COURT TOSS the lawsuit seeking to nullify the sale of the college’s former Brooklyn Heights campus to Rockrose Development, according to Crain’s New York. St. Francis finalized a deal in March to sell its five-building campus on Remsen and Joralemon streets to Rockrose for $160 million. Developer Alexico Group sued the college in June, claiming it already had a deal to buy the campus for $180 million.
St. Francis and Rockrose filed motions to dismiss the case on Sept. 7 in Manhattan state Supreme Court, claiming that the Alexico deal fell apart because Alexico, operating through an LLC called 180 Remsen, “was simply not ready, willing and able to buy the campus on the scheduled closing date,” Crain’s reports.
BILL WOULD BAN USE OF MILITARY BASES TO HOUSE MIGRANTS
U.S. ARMY GARRISON AT FORT HAMILTON — BROOKLYN’S FORT HAMILTON ARMY BASE WOULD BE COVERED IN LEGISLATION that U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island) introduced to prevent military establishments from being used to house migrants. The legislation, which would prohibit the use of federal funds for sheltering migrants at military sites, comes after Governor Kathy Hochul’s request to President Biden that military installations and other federal lands across the Northeast be used to house migrants. Malliotakis emphasized that the security protocol at military bases would preclude the influx of unvetted persons.
Malliotakis has also introduced legislation that would prevent the city, state and federal government from placing migrant shelters on U.S. parklands, including Staten Island’s Fort Wadsworth, one of the oldest military installations in the U.S. that currently serves as a domicile and an operational base for members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Park Police.
BROOKLYN RABBI AND TEEN SPEAK OUT AT SUNDAY’S MARCH TO END FOSSIL FUELS
CITYWIDE — AT LEAST TWO OUTSPOKEN BROOKLYNITES PARTICIPATED IN SUNDAY’S MARCH TO END FOSSIL FUELS that kicked off Climate Week, reports the Associated Press. The March to End Fossil Fuels launched a week that will focus on the world leaders gathering in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly and a special summit, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 20. Rabbi Stephanie Kolin of Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope declared, “The fossil fuel industry is choosing to rule and conquer and take and take and take without limit. And so waters are rising and the skies are turning orange (from wildfire smoke) and the heat is taking lives. But you, Mr. President, can choose the other path, to be a protector of this Earth.”
Another of the approximately 75,000 marchers was 17-year-old Brooklynite Emma Buretta, of the youth protest group Fridays for Future. Emma, who will reach voting age by the time of next year’s Presidential election, said, “If you want to win in 2024, if you do not want the blood of my generation to be on your hands, end fossil fuels.”
NYC SOCIALIST LEGISLATORS CONDEMN CITY’S ‘CRUEL’ RESPONSE TO ASYLUM SEEKERS
CITYWIDE — TWENTY SOCIALIST LEGISLATORS IN NYC RELEASED A STATEMENT on Monday in response to policy proposals by Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric regarding asylum seekers. “We do not accept New York City and State officials’ cruel response to asylum seekers, and the scapegoating of those new arrivals to defund public goods for everyone,” they wrote. The officials described Adams’ citywide hiring freeze and cuts of up to 15% for all public agencies as “only the latest in a series of actions that Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul have taken to cut social services and maintain the profits of their wealthy donors.”
The legislators, including Brooklyn’s Sen. Julia Salazar and Queens’ Councilmember Tiffany Cabán and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, listed a series of “intermediate steps to meet our current moment with courage and humanity.” These may be found at socialists.nyc.
COMPTROLLER LANDER LAUNCHES PROBE INTO FIRM PROVIDING MIGRANTS’ SERVICES
CITYWIDE — CITING CONCERNS ABOUT A CITY-CONTRACTED MEDICAL VENDOR handling migrant cases, NYC Comptroller Brad Lander will immediately commence a first-of-its-kind audit of the oversight of the operations and invoices incurred by DocGo, Inc., the medical services company the city hired to provide shelter services to new arrivals in the city and upstate. Comptroller Lander noted, in a new letter sent to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), that his office has “serious concerns about the selection of this vendor and its performance of contract duties.” Earlier this month, the office declined to approve the no-bid $432 million contract due to outstanding questions about how this vendor was selected and is performing its duties.
Lander added that, due to questions surrounding the DocGo contract, his office is currently reviewing a possible need to revoke a 2022 prior approval authorization the Comptroller’s Office granted the Administration to utilize emergency procurement, as it had not been intended as a blanket approval for the current mayoral administration.
PARENTS URGED TO GIVE FEEDBACK ON NYC’S SMALLER CLASS SIZE PLANS
CITYWIDE — A NEW STATE LAW MANDATING SMALLER CLASS SIZES in New York City public schools is scheduled to kick off this month. The Class Size Working Group appointed by the Chancellor to develop this plan is holding public engagement sessions online and in person to present their preliminary proposals and get feedback. The dates are: Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 5-7:30 p.m. online (Manhattan/Brooklyn); Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 5-7:30 p.m. online (Queens/Bronx/Staten Island); and, Monday, Oct. 2 (citywide) from 5-7:30 p.m. in person at MLK Campus Auditorium, 122 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan.
The Class Size Matters education nonprofit urges concerned parents to attend, citing efforts to influence Gov. Hochul to repeal the law. Registration links will be posted on the city’s Contracts for Excellence site shortly.
CARDIAC DIAGNOSTIC FIRM MUST PAY RESTITUTION FOR ITS ROLE IN KICKBACK SCHEME
STATEWIDE — A CARDIAC DIAGNOSTIC FIRM WILL HAVE TO REIMBURSE MEDICAID as part of a new settlement that NY Attorney General Letitia James has brokered. Attorney General James on Monday, Sept. 18 completed a settlement of more than $3.3 million settlement with Dr. Klaus Peter Rentrop and his company, Gramercy Cardiac Diagnostic Group, for engaging in an illegal kickback scheme in which they paid physicians and practices millions of dollars to induce them to refer patients to Gramercy Cardiac and its contracted cardiologists. The recovered funds will be returned to Medicaid, with nearly $2 million going to New York state.
As part of a separate agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (USAO-SDNY), Dr. Rentrop and Gramercy Cardiac have agreed to pay an additional $3.1 million to the federal government to resolve kickback claims related to the Medicare program.
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