What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, October 4, 2023
ROY T. RICHTER, 56, WAS ATTORNEY,
HEAD OF NYPD CAPTAINS’ UNION
CITYWIDE — THE NYPD AND ST. FRANCIS COLLEGE COMMUNITIES ARE MOURNING THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF ROY RICHTER, a past NYPD union chief, according to the New York Post, which police confirmed as a suicide. Richter reportedly died on Tuesday, Oct. 3, which was the birthday of his wife, Maryanne Bifulco. Before his retirement from a 33-year NYPD career, with the rank of Deputy Inspector, Richter served three consecutive terms as president of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association, representing 780 active and 1,400 retired uniformed commanders ranking from captain to deputy chief. An alumnus of St. Francis College, Richter was also an attorney, and partner in the company Bifulco & Richter, LLP, with a family member named Frank Bifulco as a financial advisor, according to the firm’s website.
Richter earned a bachelor of science in special studies and another degree in business from St. Francis College when it was in Brooklyn Heights, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, according to his LinkedIn profile.
SIX INDICTED FOR RUNNING OUTDOOR DRUG TRAFFICKING RING IN BED-STUY
DOWNTOWN — BROOKLYN DISTRICT ATTORNEY ERIC GONZALEZ and New York City Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban announced Wednesday that six people have been indicted in connection with an open-air narcotics trafficking ring that operated in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Lance Spearman, Herbert Bazemore, Larry Childress, Jermalee Reese, Steve Rich and Travis Davis have been hit with numerous drug trafficking charges, including acting as a major trafficker, an A-I felony, in four of the cases. Spearman, Bazemore and Childress were arraigned Wednesday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo.
The investigation began following community complaints about open-air drug dealing in the vicinity of Putnam Avenue and Nostrand Avenue. Detectives from the DA’s Office and Narcotics Borough Brooklyn North made 25 undercover narcotics purchases from the six defendants, including crack cocaine and heroin.
AUDIT, RELEASED ON DAY OF RECORD FLOODING,
FINDS MTA ILL-PREPARED FOR EXTREME WEATHER
CITYWIDE — EXTREME WEATHER SUCH AS LAST FRIDAY’S STREET AND SUBWAY FLOODING is the focus of an audit that State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released. Covering a time frame of April 2009 to August of last year, the audit investigated whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – New York City Transit (Transit) identified potential damage to its system and developed plans to mitigate the effect of extreme weather conditions and flooding. One of the key findings was that the MTA has not implemented one of the most important recommendations of the 2009 Report — the development of the climate change adaptation master plan. Transit’s capital plan was often incomplete in scope of work, not finished on time or within budget, or insufficiently documented. In another project, not all the fan plants — facilities with large vent gratings and fans located atop shafts connected to the Transit tunnels — received flood prevention work.
The audit’s release was ironically timed on Sept. 29, when parts of the city got as much as seven inches of rain and most of the subway lines were suspended.
REYNOSO RELEASES A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR BROOKLYN’S FUTURE
BOROUGH HALL — A TRANSFORMATIVE plan to guide Brooklyn’s future was released by Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso to great acclaim from a long list of influencers and leaders of community organizations. The plan, according to the BP, is “a vision to address the borough’s dual crises of housing and public health through land use, policy, and budgetary recommendations.”
A comprehensive report on the plan and links to details and visuals is available here.
BROOKLYN MAN WHO TRIED TO BUILD BOMB IN HOMELESS SHELTER IS LIKELY FACING 25 MONTHS
BROWNSVILLE — STAFF AT THE ATLANTIC HOUSE MEN’S SHELTER in Brownsville became suspicious last year when they noticed one of the residents, a mentally ill homeless man, was receiving mysterious shipments — a carbon dioxide tank, charcoal, potassium nitrate, sulfur powder, copper wire and a wireless remote-control switch. They called the police and Darnell Burgess, 25, was arrested after it was discovered he had downloaded bomb-making instructions and researched numerous violent attacks. On Tuesday, Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Eric Komitee set a 25-month sentence, but delayed finalizing it until Thursday because Burgess didn’t get the chance to speak first, the Daily News reports.
Burgess’ lawyer, Kannan Sundaram of the Federal Defenders, asked for supervised release or probation with no prison time. “He’s just an entirely different human being when medicated and treated,” Sundaram said.
BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK GETS ITS OWN ICE RINK
BBP/EMILY ROEBLING PLAZA — BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK WILL BE GETTING ITS FIRST-EVER ICE RINK, thanks to a partnership with BSE Global and IMG, considered leaders in the sports and entertainment industry. Together they have created a new partnership with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to create ‘Glide at Brooklyn Bridge Park,’ to be placed at the Emily Warren Roebling Plaza and opening to the public on Nov. 15. The new ice rink will showcase spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and be positioned alongside the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.
Glide will also reinvest in the local community by offering 12,000 free tickets to local NYC residents throughout the season, courtesy of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The tickets will be available in limited quantities every Sunday morning from 9-11 a.m. and on Tuesday afternoons from 4-6 p.m. Glide and BBP will be working with various underserved community groups and schools to provide free tickets throughout the season.
MAIMONIDES HOLDS ITS FIRST
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH EVENT
BOROUGH PARK/SUNSET PARK — MAIMONIDES HEALTH HELD ITS FIRST ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH on September 28 at Azteca Hall in Sunset Park. The event, which included clinical education, an award ceremony, dinner and musical entertainment, brought together leaders of more than 25 Hispanic community-serving organizations in Brooklyn, Maimonides executive leadership, elected officials, and members. During the celebration, several community advocates were honored for their “inspirational and exceptional dedication” to the community: Grisel Amador, executive director of the United Senior Center of Sunset Park, for her powerful role in fostering strong ties between Maimonides and the Sunset Park Hispanic community; lifelong Sunset Park resident Daniel Ramos, of Puerto Rican descent, who was recognized for his 42 years of service as a patient representative at Maimonides Medical Center; and Nathaly Cabrera, community relations employee at Maimonides, or her work advocating on behalf of the Hispanic community.
Several elected officials and staff representatives attended also.
BROOKLYN NAVY YARD SEEKS ART
ON THEME OF TRANSFORMATION
BROOKLYN NAVY YARD — ARTISTS ARE SOUGHT IN THE BROOKLYN NAVY YARD DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION’S REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL, which was released on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The RFP seeks to identify and commission local artists, designers, and craftspeople living in the communities surrounding the Yard, for a public art project at two of the Yard’s public entry points along Flushing Avenue, at Building 92 and Building 77. The artwork will be prominently on view along Flushing Avenue from May through December of next year, with thousands of visitors, as well as the Navy Yard community, viewing it. Artists based in zip codes 11201, 11205, 11206, 11211, 11213, 11216, 11217, 11221, 11231, 11238, and 11249 are encouraged to bid on the RFP online with a deadline of Monday, Oct. 30.
The RFP asks artists to respond with work on the theme of TRANSFORMATION, representing the life cycles and the evolution of objects and ideas.
NYPD RESCUES WOMAN TRAPPED UNDER A PIER IN RED HOOK
RED HOOK — OFFICERS FROM THE 76th PRECINCT and the NYPD Special Ops Harbor Unit responded to calls for help at a Red Hook pier Tuesday morning, 1010WINS reports. When units arrived at the Erie Basin near Beard Street, they found a 20-year-old woman trapped in the water under the pier and sprang into action. In body-cam footage released by NYPD, responders can be seen pulling the frantic woman up and into a raft. EMS transported the woman to NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn in stable condition.
It is unclear how the woman became stuck under the pier, 1010 WINS reports. See video of rescue online.
NYPD: GUN VIOLENCE DOWN, BUT VEHICLE THEFTS ROSE BY ALMOST 20%
CITYWIDE — A SIGNIFICANT DECLINE IN SHOOTING INCIDENTS AND HOMICIDES drove an overall reduction in violence during September 2023 compared to September 2022, reports the NYPD, which credits this improvement to intelligence-driven precision policing. New York City saw a 34.2% drop in shooting incidents compared to September 2022. This distinct decline extended the 27.1% decrease in shooting incidents citywide through the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period one year ago (760 v. 1,043). NYPD continued also to make hundreds of gun arrests — 413 arrests resulting in 550 illegal firearms seized during the month. Overall, NYPD officers have made 3,353 gun arrests and seized nearly 5,100 illegal firearms through the first nine months of 2023.
However, grand larceny auto incidents increased, by 19.5% (1,439 v. 1,204 last year). The NYPD and other state-level law enforcement agencies have, over the past several months, blamed the ongoing ignition security issues with some Kia and Hyundai models.
CATHOLIC CHARITIES RAISES $1.6M
AT BISHOP’S HUMANITARIAN DINNER
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — CATHOLIC CHARITIES BROOKLYN AND QUEENS RAISED $1.6 MILLION AT THE 2023 BISHOP’S HUMANITARIAN AWARD DINNER. Held at Cipriani Wall Street, on Sept. 28, the benefit honored several business and philanthropic leaders, with all proceeds benefiting the 160-plus programs and services of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. John Rafferty, Watch Guard 24/7 LLC; Joseph J. Lynch, Nixon Peabody and Jesus Linares, BRS Business Relocation Service received the 2023 Bishop’s Humanitarian Award, which is presented annually to an individual demonstrating personal commitment to the well-being of the residents of the Diocese. William R. Guarinello, HeartShare Human Services of New York was given the 2023 Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Service Award, named in memory of Bishop Joseph Sullivan, an ardent advocate for social justice. Mary Whelan was honored by the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens with the 2023 Ubi Caritas Award, named for the doctrine of true charity being a response of the human heart to God.
Comedian, actor, musician, writer and talk show host Joe Piscopo was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.
FAMOUS ‘PROUD BROOKLYNITE’ DE BLASIO MOVES … TO MANHATTAN
PARK SLOPE — FORMER MAYOR AND ‘PROUD BROOKLYNITE’ Bill de Blasio is moving to Manhattan, NY1 reports. De Blasio — long associated with an ascendent Brooklyn — has signed a one-year lease on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in Lincoln Square, close to Columbus Circle. A source familiar with de Blasio assured NY1, however, that he’ll always be a “Brooklynite,” the move is a “temporary thing” and that he’ll be “splitting time” between Manhattan and his Park Slope brownstone shared with his wife, Chirlane McCray, from whom he is separated but not divorced. De Blasio’s new abode is close to the restaurant where he was seen with an unidentified woman, NY1 adds.
Whether de Blasio removes the phrase “Proud Brooklynite” from his social media account taglines remains to be seen.
REMEMBERING THE GERSHWINS, GEORGE AND IRA, GENIUS SONS OF BROOKLYN
BROOKLYN WRITER Martin McQuade wrote a tribute to George and Ira Gershwin on the occasion of George’s 125th birthday. Best known for his masterpiece composition “Rhapsody in Blue,” Gershwin died in a hospital in Hollywood in 1937. He was 39 years old. He and his lyricist brother, Ira, proud sons of Brooklyn, made a beloved and indelible mark on American music in the early 20th century.
McQuade’s piece, along with historic photos from the Gershwin Foundation, is available on the Eagle website, click here to read.
MORE NEW YORKERS CAN APPLY FOR CANNABIS LICENSES IN EXPANSION OF PROGRAM
STATEWIDE — THE APPLICATION PERIOD HAS OPENED for the largest expansion of legal cannabis licenses to date, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday. Hundreds of licenses are being made available to individuals and businesses interested in legally growing, processing, distributing and selling cannabis. The application period lasts through Dec. 4, 2023.
The process is meant to increase equity by elevating the participation of individuals living in communities disproportionately impacted by harsh cannabis enforcement in the past.
HOCHUL: COPS SEIZE WEED IN CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL CANNABIS SHOPS IN DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN
DOWNTOWN — GOV. KATHY HOCHUL ON WEDNESDAY announced two days of “concentrated enforcement actions” against illegal weed shops in Downtown Brooklyn and on the West Side of Manhattan, two areas of the city with a proliferation of these businesses. These actions resulted in the seizure of nearly 150 pounds of product worth close to $600,000, Hochul said in a release. Businesses found to be illegally selling cannabis have been issued Notices of Violation and have had Orders to Cease Unlicensed Activity affixed to the outside of their doors.
Fines start at $10,000 per day and can rise up to $20,000 per day for the most egregious conduct. The shops may also be hit with additional penalties under the Tax Law.
ADAMS FILES IN COURT TO SUSPEND ‘RIGHT TO SHELTER’
CITYWIDE — MAYOR ERIC ADAMS ON TUESDAY filed an application in court to temporarily suspend the city’s obligation to offer shelter to any adult who asks, seeking an emergency pause while the city deals with the ongoing wave of asylum-seekers. “As we have said before, the Callahan decree — entered over 40 years ago, when the shelter population was a fraction of its current size — was never intended to apply to the extraordinary circumstances our city faces today,” Adams said in a release. Roughly 122,700 immigrants have arrived since the spring of 2022. Adams has said repeatedly migrants were “destroying New York City.”
The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless issued a joint statement calling the attempt “arbitrary and devoid of compassion” — and also unnecessary “given the announcements just days ago regarding Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans and efforts to connect new arrivals with job opportunities.”
HOSPITAL COMMUNITY, NYPD HOST OUTDOOR BABY SHOWER FOR MATERNITY PATIENTS
FORT GREENE PARK — The Brooklyn Hospital Center recently hosted a community baby shower in neighboring Fort Greene Park, for about 30 expectant parents. The parents-to-be had a chance to meet obstetricians like Dr. Natasha Fievre, MD, an obstetrician and director of Ambulatory Women’s Health Services, a lactation consultant, labor and delivery nurses, pediatricians and the full staff of the Women’s Health Center. There were also gifts and prizes that are traditional to baby showers. Also making the baby shower possible were the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, NYPD/88th Precinct, NY Mammas Give Back and the TBHC staff from the Loading Dock and Support Services.
“I was so touched when a gentleman came up from the park-goers to thank the hospital for all it did for the community,” said Fievre.
BROOKLYN JEWISH HALL OF FAME WILL INDUCT DIVERSE CLASS OF HONOREES
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — EIGHT BROOKLYN LUMINARIES WILL BE INDUCTED INTO THE BROOKLYN JEWISH HALL OF FAME’s CLASS OF 2023, at the Brooklyn Bar Association headquarters on Remsen Street this month. The Hall of Fame is one of the signature events for the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative, which “was created to tell the extraordinary story of the Jewish community of Brooklyn, so the world would know,” said Howard Teich, the organization’s founder and co-chair. “The BJHI Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame will recognize the leading Brooklynites who have truly made a difference in the world, and there are many.” The event, on Thursday, Oct. 19, will induct eight honorees, among them: retired State Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges, Democratic party leader Steven Cohn, and Clement Soffer, acclaimed for rescuing Syrian Jews and for building synagogues, one of which was the first Egyptian-Jewish synagogue in Brooklyn — Ahava Ve Ahvah Congregation, of which he was co-founder at age 20.
Founded in 2008, the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Society formed a partnership early on with the Brooklyn Historical Society. The debut Hall of Fame event was held in 2015.
NEWLY-EXPANDED BAY RIDGE CENTER BECOMES BIPARTISAN ACCOMPLISHMENT
BAY RIDGE — THE NEWLY-EXPANDED BAY RIDGE SENIOR CENTER, its executive director Todd Fliedner and the bipartisan support they received from several elected officials, foremost among them Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R–11), got the attention of City & State. Rep. Malliotakis secured a $2 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the center, previously housed in the basement of Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Ovington Ave., which founded the center in 1976, according to the congregation’s website. A $5 million capital campaign received funding from City Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-43), State Sen. Andrew Gounardes D-26), former Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus and former Republican state Sen. Marty Golden.
The Bay Ridge Center’s new building at 15 Bay Ridge Ave. (formerly a MetLife insurance office) will open Nov. 1, but the non-profit will also continue using Bethlehem Lutheran Church for kitchen and other facilities.
NEW BILL WOULD ALLOW STUDENTS TO HAVE UNLIMITED METROCARD USE IN EMERGENCIES
CITYWIDE — A “GET HOME SAFE” ACT THAT ASSEMBLYMEMBER ROBERT CARROLL (D/WF-44) INTRODUCED on Tuesday, Oct. 3, would allow students unlimited MetroCard swipes during states of emergency. Assemblymember Carroll’s bill would give the governor discretion to help students and families as needed, by directing the MTA to give students unlimited MetroCard swipes (rather than the two permitted per trip for an originating point and transfer), particularly when their direct routes home are disrupted, “When New York City was hit with unprecedented flooding last week, parents became understandably distraught when their children, who were forced to reroute to get home, were stranded after countless transfers,” said Carroll.
Extreme weather-related flooding in New York City — with Brooklyn severely hit — suspended most subway lines and above-ground bus routes.
STATE COMMITS $38M FOR LEGAL SERVICES TO ASYLUM SEEKERS
CITYWIDE — NEW YORK STATE HAS COMMITTED $38 MILLION IN NEW FUNDING TO HELP THE CITY PROVIDE LEGAL SERVICES FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS. The announcement from Governor Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday, Oct. 3, was made on the first effective day of a federal rule extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans who entered the country before July 31, 2023. Concurrently, the city will begin assisting eligible Venezuelan asylum seekers in submitting their paper applications for TPS and work authorization, in addition to their fee waiver forms at the city’s Asylum Application Help Center, also partially funded by state resources.
During the coming weeks, the city and state will scale efforts at the Asylum Application Help Center, expanding case management and legal services to help more asylum seekers in the city’s care obtain work authorization, stabilize their lives, and provide for themselves so they can move out of shelter.
NY ATTORNEY GENERAL LEADS COALITION TO SAVE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU
NEW YORK AND NATIONWIDE — THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WAS SET ON TUESDAY, OCT. 3, TO HEAR oral arguments in a case that threatens the existence of a key consumer protection agency, with NY Attorney General Letitia James leading a coalition to save it. The SCOTUS will hear arguments in the case Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America Ltd. A Fifth Circuit Court ruled earlier this year that the bureau’s existence is unconstitutional because it violates the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause and the separation of powers. NY Attorney General James’ coalition is asking SCOTUS to reverse that ruling on the grounds that the bureau is vital to protecting consumers and ensuring a fair financial system, and was specially set up to be effective.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau serves several functions that are invaluable to states and state attorneys general. It provides necessary transparency and clarity to consumers seeking to navigate a confusing and opaque financial marketplace.
FEMA WILL CONDUCT NATIONWIDE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM TEST
NATIONWIDE — THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ADMINISTRATION AND the Federal Communications Commission will conduct its seventh nationwide test of the Emergency Alert Systems (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on Wednesday, Oct. 4. WEA and EAS messages are emergency public warning tools used during natural or human-made disasters to target a localized area, and are a collaboration between these government agencies, cellular service and broadcast providers. The national test will have two components: for compatible wires and consumer cell phones and will be transmitted in either English or Spanish (depending on the device user’s settings). The EAS portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions. Both tests are scheduled to begin at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 4.
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