What’s News, Breaking: Friday, September 22, 2023
CROWN HEIGHTS ‘BABYSITTER’ CHARGED
IN DEATH OF GIRLFRIEND’S BABY BOY
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A MAN WHO IS ACCUSED OF BEATING AND MURDERING THE CHILD HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BABYSITTING was arraigned in State Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 22. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez identified the defendant as Latrell Lewis, 23, of Crown Heights, at whose arraignment Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo presided. Lewis is charged with several counts of murder and manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child, in connection with the Aug. 27 death of two-year-old Nasir Carter Paris. Nasir’s mother had left him in Lewis’ care at her home in Bergen Beach while at work. The city Medical Examiner determined from an autopsy that the child’s injuries are consistent with multiple, inflicted, blunt force traumas, and included hemorrhaging in vital organs, and skull fractures.
The defendant, who is also charged in connection with an April 23 incident involving the same child, is being held without bail and could face a 25-to-life sentence if convicted.
JOURNALISTS ARE AT THE HEART
OF SATURDAY’S DIOCESAN MASS
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — JOURNALISTS AND MEMBERS OF THE NEWS MEDIA ARE SET TO GATHER as a community on Saturday morning, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. for a Mass dedicated to them. The Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan, Bishop of Brooklyn, is the celebrant at a Mass for Journalists at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, praying for those in the news industry whose reports both educate the public and often move them to action. Bishop Brennan is expected to point out that journalists’ work is vital to democratic and just societies, but reporters often find themselves under threat in oppressive governments. Research shows that 455 journalists have been killed while on the job between 2016 and 2021, and that the imprisonment of journalists has reached record highs.
The Tablet and Currents News are part of DeSales Media Group, named for the late 16th-century patron saint of journalists, St. Francis de Sales. This diocesan ministry provides communications and technology services to the Diocese of Brooklyn and other dioceses.
NYPD RELEASES IDENTITY OF CYCLIST
KILLED IN SCHOOL BUS COLLISION
BOROUGH PARK — THE NYPD ON FRIDAY MORNING, SEPT. 22, RELEASED MORE INFORMATION regarding Thursday’s fatal crash within the 66th Precinct, which involved a cyclist and a school bus filled with children under age five. Police have identified the 44-year-old cyclist who was struck and killed while heading southbound along Fort Hamilton Parkway as Luis Perez-Ramirez, 44, of 20th Avenue. The 66-year-old driver of an International PB105 school bus, which was making a right turn from southbound Fort Hamilton Parkway to westbound 41st Street when he struck Perez-Ramirez, remained on the scene. The NYPD Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad is on the case.
EMS first responders brought Perez-Ramirez, who had suffered severe body trauma, to Maimonides Medical Center, where he was pronounced deceased.
NY A.G. ORDERS GROUP TO STOP IMPERSONATING ELECTION OFFICIALS, INTIMIDATING VOTERS
STATEWIDE — THE NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE on Thursday sent a cease-and-desist letter to a group accused of impersonating election officials, confronting voters at their homes and falsely accusing people of committing voter fraud, News1 reports. The letter orders the group NY Citizens Audit to immediately stop its voter intimidation efforts and turn over records on its training of and communications with its door-to-door canvassers. A.G. Letitia James’ letter says in some cases voters have reported that canvassers displayed false badges or other identification to portray themselves as election workers. NYCA Executive Director Marly Hornik denied the group engaged in any illegal canvassing.
NYCA has been described by Syracuse.com as a “shadowy fringe group” that makes false claims of massive election fraud but offers no evidence.
NYU LANGONE HOSPITALS, INCLUDING IN BROOKLYN,
WIN AWARDS FOR QUALITY AND PATIENT SAFETY
SUNSET PARK — NYU LANGONE HOSPTIAL SYSTEM HAS ONCE AGAIN BEEN NAMED NO. 1 IN THE NATION for quality and patient safety by Vizient, Inc., a leading healthcare performance improvement organization. Vizient determines its rankings based on mortality and infection rates, patient experience scores, and other critical quality measures. NYU Langone won Vizient’s Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award, which ranks NYU Langone hospitals in Manhattan as No. 1 out of 116 comprehensive academic medical centers for the second consecutive year. Moreover, NYU Langone Brooklyn, part of the network, also ranked high — number 7 nationwide in the same category.
NYU Langone-Brooklyn was the only one to earn an “A” rating for the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, with Magnet recognition for excellence in nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
CITY COUNCIL ACCUSES ADAMS OF OBSTRUCTING INVESTIGATION INTO UNVETTED CONTRACTS FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS
CITYWIDE — NONE OF THE SIX CITY CONTRACTORS INVITED TO TESTIFY about the Adams administration’s use of unvetted contracts to care for the city’s 110,000 asylum-seekers bothered to show up to Thursday’s New York City Council hearing, angering Councilmembers, City & State reports. Mayor Eric Adams is “deliberately obstructing oversight of more than $1 billion in city contracts for asylum-seeker services,” Councilmembers alleged. The Council held the joint committee hearing to investigate city spending for emergency shelters, medical care and staff. While Zach Iscol, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, said that “many” of the city’s nearly 200 immigrant services contracts were secured through a competitive bidding process, the Council said records showed that only three contracts had been secured through competitive bidding.
City Comptroller Brad Lander last week threatened to suspend the mayor’s blanket emergency procurement authorization, following allegations of mismanagement and a lack of transparency from City Hall.
ELDERLY SCHOOL BUS DRIVER
IN COLLISION THAT KILLED CYCLIST
BOROUGH PARK — THE ELDERLY DRIVER OF A YESHIVAH SCHOOL BUS filled with toddlers struck and killed a bicyclist in Borough Park on Thursday, Sept. 21, reports the Daily News. The 44-year-old cyclist was proceeding along 41st St. in Borough Park when the bus driver made a right turn onto Fort Hamilton Parkway and struck him, around 3:15 p.m., according to NYPD reports. The bus was transporting 20 girls, all under five years old, from their school.
Witnesses told the Daily News that the very distraught driver said he had recently undergone heart surgery, and that the girls were crying. Neither the names of the school nor the bus company had been released as of press time.
BIDEN ADMIN MOVES TO REMOVE MEDICAL BILLS FROM CREDIT REPORTS
NATIONWIDE — VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS ANNOUNCED Thursday that the Biden administration is beginning the process that could ultimately remove medical bills from people’s credit scores — a move that could improve the credit reports of millions of people. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outlined the proposals that would help families financially recover from medical crises, stop debt collectors from coercing people into paying bills they may not owe, and ensure that creditors are not relying on frequently inaccurate data. CFPB research found that 58% of all third-party debt collections were for medical debt, more than credit cards, student loans, utilities and every other type.
This rule-making will “block medical debt collectors from weaponizing the credit reporting system,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra.
CARROLL SECURES $150K FOR BROOKLYN CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
CROWN HEIGHTS — ASSEMBLYMEMBER ROBERT CARROLL on Thursday joined Atiba T. Edwards, acting president and CEO of Brooklyn Children’s Museum, to announce that he has secured $150,000 in state funds to support the museum, including $125,000 in capital funds and a $25,000 operating funds grant. The capital dollars will be used to help build the “Brooklyn Time Machine” exhibition, a permanent exhibition that will explore the history of Brooklyn throughout the centuries.
The operating grant supports free field trips so children can participate in a range of educational programs at the Museum, including SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT, which teaches children about using art for advocacy, finding their own voice and connecting with others.
CON EDISON CLIMATE STUDY SHOWS NYC TEMPERATURES RISING FASTER THAN PREDICTED
CITYWIDE — CON EDISON’S 2023 CLIMATE CHANGE VULNERABILITY STUDY shows that temperatures in the New York City region are rising even quicker than forecasted in 2019 due to climate change. By 2030, the city will experience up to 17 days a year with temperatures of 95 degrees or higher, the study projects, up from four days a year historically. New Yorkers will experience up to 27 such days by 2040 and up to 32 such days by 2050. The risk of flooding, which can damage underground equipment, will increase as well, according to the study. The findings, filed with the New York State Public Service Commission on Friday, imply that the company must accelerate its investments to keep electric service reliable.
Con Ed recently broke ground on a clean energy hub in Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn.
COLTON TO CITY: URGENT FIX NEEDED FOR
CHRONIC RAINWATER PONDING
BENSONHURST/MAPLETON — THE CITY MUST FIX THE PONDING OF RAINWATER AND INSTALL CATCH BASINS at a corner in Bensonhurst/Mapleton that has chronic flooding, says Assemblymember William Colton (D-47), who represents the area. The south side of the intersection of Avenue O and West 4th Street, which lacks catch basins, is chronically flooded whenever it rains because there’s no way for the water to drain. He said he has repeatedly asked the city to install the catch basins.
Saying that he’s repeatedly asked the city to correct the problem, Colton added, “After a downpour, it’s hard to cross the street without wading through the deep puddles, which is a huge difficulty for senior citizens, as well as wheelchairs and baby carriages. And with West Nile Virus still around, the standing water is a potential breeding ground for the mosquitoes that carry the disease.”
CITY TO COURTS: EXEMPT MIGRANTS
FROM RIGHT TO SHELTER MANDATE
CITYWIDE — THE CITY WANTS TO EXEMPT NEWLY-ARRIVED IMMIGRANTS FROM ITS RIGHT TO SHELTER MANDATE, a senior official for Mayor Eric Adams told NPR and Gothamist on Thursday. The mandate, which requires the city to provide a bed to anyone on request, has caused a crisis, Anne Williams-Isom, the deputy mayor for health and human services, told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. The city is preparing to tell a judge that, essentially the right to shelter, “as it was originally written, should be applied to this humanitarian crisis in its present form,” said Williams-Isom.
A legal battle over this latest move is expected; as the state and the Legal Aid Society, representing homeless persons, have been in protracted negotiations, with the latter vehemently opposed to any such rollback of the right to shelter.
MTA SEEKS TECHNICAL EXPERTISE ON COOLING SUBWAY SYSTEM
CITYWIDE — THE METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY WANTS TO FIND WAYS TO COOL THE CITY’S SUBWAY SYSTEM, particularly the platform areas, and is seeking information for such technology in a challenging environment. Subway platforms are often significantly hotter than the street level, particularly on days when the weather exceeds 90 degrees or greater, with factors being trains braking (which heats up the train platforms), train air conditioning units, and limited station ventilation and sidewalk grates. Unlike typical buildings, subway stations cannot accommodate conventional air-conditioning. The MTA’s solicitation invites leading organizations to propose strategies to MTA Construction & Development for cost-effective station cooling, particularly low-emissions solutions that align with the MTA’s commitment to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2040.
The MTA system is vulnerable to extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change, including extreme heat.
HIGH ST. STATION ESCALATORS NOW OPEN ON ADAMS ST. SIDE
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS & CONCORD VILLAGE — THE ESCALATORS ON THE 90-YEAR-OLD HIGH STREET SUBWAY STATION’S ADAMS STREET SIDE HAVE REOPENED, reported the Brooklyn Heights Association on Thursday, Sept. 21. The MTA completed its required 48-hour safety test for the two escalators that serve the A/C line station’s Adams St. side in Concord Village. Work on the escalators on the Cadman Plaza West side of the station will begin within the next 10 days, the MTA reports.
During that period, the entrance at Cadman Plaza West will remain open, and the staircase leading to and from the upper mezzanine to the lower mezzanine will be accessible. The stairwell has a number of small landings, or pauses between sets of steps, in this deep station that originally opened in June 1933.
1-YEAR-OLD BABY GIRL MURDERED IN CROWN HEIGHTS
CROWN HEIGHTS — A 1-YEAR-OLD BABY GIRL DIED WEDNESDAY, Sept. 20, after emergency responders were called to her apartment on Friday, Sept. 15. Police officers from the 77th Precinct responded at 6:43 p.m. to an apartment on Saint Marks Avenue in Crown Heights, where they found the baby suffering “trauma about the body,” according to a statement by the NYPD. EMS transported the baby to NYC Health and Hospitals/Kings County in critical condition. She was later moved to Maimonides Medical Center.
The child was pronounced deceased by hospital staff at Maimonides on Wednesday, Sept. 20. This incident has now been deemed a homicide. There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.
TENTATIVE NYC SCHOOL BUS CONTRACT AGREEMENT REACHED
CITYWIDE — THE TRANSIT UNION AND MAJOR SCHOOL BUS COMPANIES in NYC have reached a tentative contract agreement, averting a disruptive strike, according to a joint statement by NYC Council Transportation & Infrastructure Chair Selvena N. Brooks-Powers and Education Chair Rita Joseph. “We are glad the school bus companies and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 were able to come to a tentative agreement that avoids harmful disruptions for our students and families. We support increased wages and benefits for school bus drivers and a continuation of school bus services for over 80,000 students at this time,” the officials said.
The officials warned, however, that drivers with the NYC School Bus Umbrella Services have yet to reach a deal.
NEW LEADERSHIP PROGRAM WILL SUPPORT BIPOC-LED ARTS GROUPS IN BROOKLYN
BOROUGHWIDE — THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM AND THE JOE AND CLARA TSAI FOUNDATION’S SOCIAL JUSTICE FUND (SJF) have launched a new ten-month program, the Brooklyn Arts Leadership Collaborative, to support the leaders of eight small and midsize BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) arts organizations in Brooklyn. The Collaborative, which kicks off in October 2023, will provide critical support to the inaugural cohort of arts organization leaders, including holistic leadership development and assistance in building programs to achieve their social equity goals. Each of eight organizations will receive a grant of $25,000 from the Social Justice Fund: ARTE (Art Resistance Through Education), Black Girls Sew, Brooklyn United Music and Arts Program, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat, ¡Oye!, Black Trans Femme Artist Collective, Rooted Theater Company and Redhawk Council.
Leaders of Brooklyn nonprofits have long struggled to sustain their organizations due to a lack of investment in the sector. BIPOC-led nonprofits in particular have operated at the margins of sustainability, and some have ceased operations due to economic hardship.
COMPTROLLER: STATE AGENCIES MUST IMPROVE OVERSIGHT OF NOURISH NEW YORK FUNDING
STATEWIDE — A PROGRAM THAT’S DESIGNED TO HELP NEW YORK RESIDENTS AND AREA FARMERS ALLEVIATE HUNGER may have been hindered by the very agencies managing it, according to an audit that State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released on Thursday, Sept. 21. Through the Nourish New York program (Nourish NY) that the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets jointly manage, regional food banks contract with DOH to receive these funds, allocating them to local soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community-based organizations to purchase New York grown farm products. Comptroller DiNapoli’s audit found that DOH approved $22.7 million in purchases from May 2020 through March 2022, despite inadequate documentation proving the food products were grown in New York as required. DOH also failed to supply sufficient guidance to food relief organizations on coverable administrative costs.
Auditors concluded DOH needs to improve its oversight, otherwise, funds could be improperly used for expenses not associated with Nourish NY.
NEWLY-ACCESSIBLE SUBWAY STATION OPENS WITH FULL FUNDING FROM MACY’S
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — MACY’S DEPARTMENT STORE ON FULTON MALL HAS FUNDED AND BUILT A NEWLY-OPENED, FULLY-ACCESSIBLE SUBWAY STATION that is part of the building’s history in Downtown Brooklyn. Officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday, Sept. 21, gathered in front of the Hoyt St. station (2 and 3 Trains) that is immediately adjacent to the iconic store. The full project includes the elevator and a staircase within a new street-level entrance to the station, which Macy’s will maintain. This partnership is another example of the MTA engaging the private sector to improve station access without requiring MTA capital dollars on top of the 67 station accessibility upgrades included in the MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Plan.
The subway entrance itself is part of Macy’s history, and was the transit system’s first private one, according to the website ClassicNewYorkHistory.com. Abraham & Straus, the precursor to Macy’s, built the station that led directly to the store’s basement. That “ticket booth sold more than 5,000 subway tokens on opening day at five cents a token,” reports the history site. For more information, see page 3.
BIDEN ADMIN REDESIGNATES VENEZUELAN MIGRANTS AS LEGAL & ELIGIBLE FOR WORK PERMITS
NATIONWIDE — PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN HAS REDESIGNATED Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan asylum-seekers who entered the U.S. before July 1, 2023, which will enable thousands of Venezuelans in the NYC access to work permits. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement Wednesday night that she was grateful that the federal government acted so quickly to grant one of New York’s top priorities. “The State of New York is prepared to immediately begin the process of signing people up for work authorization and getting them into jobs so they can become self-sufficient,” she said. Mayor Eric Adams said, “I want to thank President Biden for hearing our entire coalition … and taking this important step that will bring hope to the thousands of Venezuelan asylum seekers currently in our care.”
“As we have always done, we as New Yorkers will lead our nation in welcoming people from all over the world seeking the American Dream,” said Rep. Dan Goldman (NY-10). Officials have estimated that roughly 40% of asylum-seekers in NYC are Venezuelan.
FREE COVID-19 TESTS FOR ALL AVAILABLE MONDAY, AS GOV BOOSTS DOMESTIC SOURCES
NATIONWIDE — EVERY U.S. HOUSEHOLD WILL AGAIN BE ABLE TO PLACE AN ORDER TO RECEIVE FOUR more free COVID-19 rapid tests delivered directly to their home starting Sept. 25 through the newly reopened website COVIDTests.gov, the U.S. Department of Health announced Wednesday. The Biden administration is investing $600 million across 12 domestic COVID-19 test manufacturers to “reduce our reliance on overseas manufacturing,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. The deal will secure roughly 200 million new over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for future federal government use.
The U.S. Dept. of Health advised that before you throw out expired COVID-19 tests, check to see if their expiration dates have been extended at covid.gov/tests.
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