What’s News, Breaking: Monday, October 16, 2023
AT GROUNDBREAKING, PUBLIC ADVOCATE
EMPHASIZES POWER OF COMMUNITY
EAST FLATBUSH — FOLLOWING THE MONDAY, OCT. 16, GROUNDBREAKING of the Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center in East Flatbush, slated to open in 2025, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams praised this milestone in the project, pointing out that the idea for the center was conceived as a constructive way of fighting gun violence — and the tragedies it causes. “More than a decade of effort has gone into the Shirley Chisholm Center. After years of planning and community engagement, it is gratifying to see ground broken today on what will be a vital community space. While in the Council, in the wake of Kimani Gray’s death, I was proud to initiate this project to promote youth development, not destruction, and combat the plague of gun violence driven by a lack of resources, opportunity, and investment in communities.”
The Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center will include a media lab dedicated to another business and community leader, Roy A. Hastick, Sr., who in 1985 founded the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce. (Mr. Hastick died in 2020). A community advisory board for the center was organized on Oct. 5.
CITY’S HOSPITAL SYSTEM AWARDED GOLD STATUS
FOR HELPING PATIENTS MANAGE DIABETES
CITYWIDE — THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION HAS RECOGNIZED ALL 11 OF THE NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS’ full medical centers and seven of its Gotham Health primary care sites for their work in helping patients manage their diabetes. Within the city’s public hospital system, 17 sites received Gold status, the highest recognition, for having fewer than 25% of patients with poorly controlled diabetes: NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County and NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull. Moreover, NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Brooklyn Neighborhood Health Centers; NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Cumberland (Fort Greene) and NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, East New York received Gold Status.
This is the first year NYC Health + Hospitals has applied for this recognition, and the results highlight the high standard of care to manage diabetes in the health system.
SEN. GILLIBRAND WILL ADDRESS SENATE TODAY
ON HAMAS HOSTAGE SITUATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND OF NEW YORK WILL SPEAK ON THE SENATE FLOOR TODAY AT 5:15 P.M. ABOUT THE CIVILIANS, INCLUDING AMERICANS, whom Hamas has taken as hostages in Gaza. As of press time, an estimated 199 people are being held, including as many as 13 missing U.S. citizens. Sen. Gillibrand’s speech can be viewed on C-SPAN or C-SPAN’S website.
Last weekend, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also of New York, led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to Tel Aviv, Israel, regarding the hostage situation, but wound up having to shelter in a bunker during a rocket attack.
CARDINAL SERVING IN JERUSALEM OFFERS
HIMSELF IN EXCHANGE FOR HOSTAGES
JERUSALEM — A TOP ROMAN CATHOLIC PRELATE IN THE HOLY LAND HAS OFFERED HIMSELF IN EXCHANGE for the release of about 200 hostages that Hamas is reportedly holding, according to a report from the Brooklyn diocesan newspaper, The Tablet. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, mentioned this idea during a video conference with journalists in Italy on Monday, Oct. 16, saying that he would be willing to trade places with Israeli children who have been among those taken hostage by Hamas terrorists. The meeting took place nine days after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, taking and, in some cases, killing hostages. “I am ready for an exchange, anything, if this can lead to freedom, to bring the children home. No problem. There is total willingness on my part,” Cardinal Pizzaballa told the Catholic News Service.
The Latin Patriarch emphasized, however, that his office had not been in contact with the Hamas leaders. He told journalists, “You can’t talk to Hamas. It is very difficult.
WARNING ISSUED ABOUT BRIGHT-COLORED
POSSIBLE DRUG DEBRIS FOUND IN PARK
FORT GREENE PARK — THE FORT GREENE CONSERVANCY HAS RECEVED SEVERAL REPORTS of potential fentanyl “trash cans,” located in and around Fort Greene Park, including in the playgrounds, the central lawn and the Willoughby entrance ramp. These resemble small cylindrical plastic canisters similar to the kind that holds 35mm film rolls. The Conservancy warns parkgoers to not pick up or touch this debris or let their children do so. Instead, text an image and location to (347) 865-5423, which reaches the Fort Greene Park Director, who will have Parks staff safely remove and dispose of these “trash cans.” The Conservancy will also alert its Community Wellness Team, who will monitor the locations where these multi-colored trash cans are found.
Parkgoers who find this debris are also urged to file a report with 311 so the City gets an accurate record. The City uses this data to allocate resources.
RITE AID, WITH STORES STILL IN BROOKLYN,
FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
COURT ST. AND NATIONWIDE — THE PHARMACY CHAIN RITE AIDE HAS FILED FOR BANKRUPTCY protection and will sell part of its business while it restructures and deals concurrently with financial losses and opioid-related lawsuits, the Associated Press has reported. Corporate spokespersons said that Rite Aid will continue filling prescriptions, and its retail and online stores will remain accessible while the company undergoes its voluntary Chapter 11 process as it closes underperforming stores.
The pharmacy giant did not indicate which stores or neighborhoods might be affected. In Downtown Brooklyn, Rite Aid operates stores at 120 Court St. (NW corner of Atlantic Ave.) and on Smith St. A Rite Aid at 101 Clinton St. (corner of Joralemon St.) in Brooklyn Heights closed in February 2022. Rite Aid employees are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
SPIKE LEE EXHIBIT OPENS AT BROOKLYN MUSEUM
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A PERSONAL SHOWCASE EXHIBIT CURATED BY BROOKLYN native director Spike Lee opened at the Brooklyn Museum earlier this month, reports the Brooklyn Paper, displaying hundreds of items from Lee’s archives reflecting the course of his career, from childhood photographs to movie memorabilia to Oscars, and everything in between. The exhibit aims to present a complete picture of the filmmaker’s inspirations, including sports and pop culture collectibles, personal papers and historical artifacts connected to Black history and the civil rights movement; everything in the show was previously housed in Lee’s Fort Greene production company, along with, according to the self-identified collector, enough other trophies to fill the whole museum.
The exhibit, “Spike Lee: Creative Sources,” runs through Feb. 4; admission costs $25, and more information can be found on the Brooklyn Museum’s website.
BAY RIDGE RESTAURANT BECOMES FOCUS OF CONTROVERSY
BAY RIDGE — A PALESTINIAN RESTAURANT IN SOUTHERN BROOKLYN HAS BECOME THE TARGET of online trolling after last week’s eruption of violence in Israel, reports the New York Times, apparently motivated by tensions over the long-running conflict: one-star ratings left on review sites — later removed after reports from the owners — urged customers to boycott Palestinian businesses. Ayat NYC, run by husband-and-wife team Ayat Masoud and Abdul Elenani, opened its doors in 2020 and quickly began to gain positive attention and loyal customers from the diverse neighborhood, although it has previously faced controversy over a wall mural depicting children imprisoned by Israeli soldiers; patrons from both the Muslim and Jewish communities who dined at the restaurant on Thursday night expressed fears, frustrations and hopes for peace — but all with appetites undaunted by the anonymous harassers.
Masoud and Elenani condemned the violence from both sides and said that this new crisis makes their goal to raise awareness of Palestinian issues through cultural exchange more important than ever.
STATE EXPANDS LIQUOR SALES ON SUNDAYS, NIGHTS
STATEWIDE — GOV. HOCHUL ON SATURDAY SIGNED A PACKAGE OF LEGISLATION UPDATING the state’s rules to allow for expanded alcohol sales; sales of beer, mead, braggot and cider were previously banned on Sundays between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., but will now be permitted. Liquor and wine stores, meanwhile, can now remain open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; the text of the bill states that this expansion is intended to provide more options to workers with non-standard hours, as well as to boost sales and reduce hassle for retailers.
The governor also signed several bills aimed at supporting alcohol industry businesses: the package extends the validity of brewer’s licenses from one year to three years, allows the use of pressurized alcohol-dispensing machines, allows stores to offer complementary alcohol-related gifts and freebies, and loosens restrictions on manufacturer and wholesaler partnerships with liquor licensees.
PRO-PALESTINE PROTESTERS ARRESTED OUTSIDE SCHUMER’S HOME
PARK SLOPE — DOZENS OF ACTIVISTS WERE ARRESTED on Friday night for blocking traffic in an act of civil disobedience in front of the Park Slope home of Sen. Chuck Schumer, reports the New York Post, including two city councilmembers and several prominent Jewish figures. The protest was organized by the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice For Peace, which is demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel in response to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, as well as a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza Strip governing party Hamas; protesters at the event, which attracted hundreds, carried signs describing Israel’s actions as “genocide” and “apartheid.”
Schumer over the weekend led a bipartisan group of lawmakers on a trip to Israel in solidarity following last week’s terror attacks against Israeli civilians; the senator on Sunday posted on X (Twitter) that he and other members of the delegation, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, had been rushed to a bomb shelter after rockets were launched at the nation’s capital of Tel Aviv.
JEWISH COUNCILMEMBER ARRESTED FOR BRINGING GUN TO PRO-PALESTINE RALLY IS SLAMMED BY NYC OFFICIALS
MIDWOOD — SHOCKED CITY OFFICIALS CRITICIZED pro-Israel Councilmember Inna Vernikov (R- Midwood, Brighton Beach) following her arrest on Friday for bringing a gun to a pro-Palestine rally at Brooklyn College on Thursday. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said, “It is unacceptable and unlawful for a civilian to ever bring a firearm to a rally or protest, and especially important for elected officials to model a respect for the law that is expected of all New Yorkers.” She said that she would be “referring this matter to the Standards and Ethics Committee, which may require the recusal of committee members.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said in a statement, “Council Member Vernikov carrying and showing off a weapon as a tool of intimidation and seeming threat of violence against protesters shows a dangerous dereliction of our duty as elected officials to help New Yorkers be and feel safe.” State Sen. Julia Salazar (D-North Brooklyn) said, “Allegedly brandishing the gun to intimidate Palestinian students is beyond anything I’ve seen before.”
DOE FUND BREAKS GROUND FOR TRANSITIONAL HOUSING
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — THE DOE FUND, A HOMELESS SERVICES ORGANIZATION KNOWN for its Ready, Willing & Able re-entry program and its portfolio of more than one million square feet of housing, broke ground on Wednesday, Oct. 11, for a 200-bed transitional housing residence at 510 Gates Avenue. The new Gates Avenue building will be the first transitional residence The Doe Fund has built in 20 years; with completion expected in 2025. Individuals living at the residence will be eligible to join Ready, Willing & Able, which provides paid work, housing, and support services, including case management; adult basic education, computer skills, and financial literacy classes; occupational training in living wage fields; job search preparedness; legal referrals; and, linkages to employment and permanent housing.
This groundbreaking is a Doe Fund milestone of more than 30 years in the making. Located next to the organization’s first transitional residence, which opened in 1990, 510 Gates Ave. was originally leased by The Doe Fund until 1993.
BROOKLYN WOMAN SAYS SIX COUSINS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A BROOKLYN WOMAN SAYS SIX OF HER COUSINS are among the Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas, according to PIX11 and social media. Alana Zeitchik’s last contact with her family was Saturday morning. “We are shattered,” Zeitchik, a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, said. On Friday, President Joe Biden participated in a call with family members of the 14 Americans still unaccounted for following this week’s attacks on Israel, the White House said.
Joining in on the call were National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, Undersecretary of State John Bass and National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk.
MAN CHARGED IN THE DEED THEFTS OF PROPERTIES AND RELIEF CHECKS
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A LONG ISLAND MAN WHO FRAUDULENTLY TRANSFERRED TITLE PROPERTIES in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and sold them for a total of about $925,000 has been formally charged with grand larceny. The defendant, whom the Brooklyn District Attorney identified as Salome Vega, 46, of Hempstead, was arraigned on Friday, Oct. 13, before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Vega is charged with fraudulently selling 431-435 Autumn Ave., which includes a two-family house attached to a vacant lot in East New York for $675,000. Vega allegedly impersonated the CEO of the corporate property owner on record, Merit Homes, and he requested that the proceeds from the sale be made payable to him personally. He also attempted to deposit a COVID-19 corporate tax relief check from the IRS for $297,368.51 into an account at a Bay Ridge TD Bank branch, but an alert bank employee spotted the fraud and froze the account before any funds could be withdrawn.
Vega also fraudulently sold the title to 1279 East 222nd St., a two-family house in The Bronx where Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was convicted of kidnapping Charles Lindbergh Jr., once resided.
REPORT: MIGRANTS WITH KIDS MAY HAVE TO LEAVE NYC SHELTERS AFTER 60 DAYS
CITYWIDE — NYC COULD SOON ANNOUNCE that migrant families with children must move out of their homeless shelters after 60 days and reapply for shelter, a City Hall source told the Daily News. The Mayor’s Office would not confirm or deny the plan. In response, The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless issued a joint statement saying the proposal contradicted the mayor’s and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s previous commitments to prioritize families.
“This plan will disrupt the lives of homeless students and create chaos for their schools, as parents are forced to choose between re-enrolling or spending the day traveling across the city to their current school,” the two aid organizations said.
LAWSUIT AGAINST NEW YORK’S BAN ON GAS STOVES
ALBANY — BUSINESSES, TRADE ASSOCIATIONS AND LABOR UNIONS filed a federal lawsuit in Albany on Thursday challenging the legality of New York’s ban on gas stoves and furnaces in new residential buildings, the Times Union reports. The statewide ban was enacted in the governor’s budget this year as part of her push for green energy. It is scheduled to take effect for new buildings below seven stories in 2026, and for taller structures in 2029.
The lawsuit asserts that a federal statute — the Energy Policy and Conservation Act — pre-empts any state or local regulations on energy consumption by appliances. If plaintiffs win, the ruling could cast doubt over local gas bans across the country.
DINAPOLI: NYS INCREASES ISRAEL BOND HOLDINGS IN PENSION FUND
ALBANY — THE NYS COMMON RETIREMENT FUND has purchased an additional $20 million in Israel bonds, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced in a release Friday. The purchase brings the state pension fund’s holdings in Israel bonds to $267.8 million. “In addition to providing a steady return for our pension fund’s members, Israel bonds help support one of our nation’s strongest allies,” DiNapoli said. The bonds have a 10-year maturity with a coupon of 5.96%. Altogether, NYC owns $267.8 million in Israel bonds, and $1.5 billion across all Israeli asset classes.
“At a time when Israel is under attack, these investments represent the most powerful and direct way to stand with the State of Israel and its people,” said Israel Bonds President and CEO Dani Naveh.
DIOCESE ALLOWS CATHOLIC SCHOOLS TO GO REMOTE DURING ‘DAY OF GLOBAL MOBILIZATION’
CONCERNED WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF VIOLENCE at rallies about the Israeli-Hamas war, taking place around the city on Friday, Oct. 13, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn gave its individual schools and academies the authority to decide whether to hold classes remotely, according to the diocesan newspaper The Tablet and other news sources. Prompting this decision was Hamas’ call for “global mobilization” in support of Palestinians to take place on Oct. 13. Officials at Bay Ridge Catholic Academy decided to go remote, as did St. Bernard Catholic Academy in Mill Basin, St. Bernadette Catholic Academy in Dyker Heights, St. Athanasius Catholic Academy in Bensonhurst, and St. Ephrem Catholic Academy in Dyker Heights.
Deacon Kevin McCormack, the Diocese’s superintendent of schools, said that his office has been in touch with the chief of the NYPD and NYPD’s School Safety Division. He emphasized that there were no known viable threats, only the expectation of a heightened police presence.
CROWN HTS. HASIDIC COMMUNITY GATHERS TO EMPHASIZE HUMANITY SPREADING LIGHT
‘LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS’ WAS THE EMPHASIS OF A RALLY THAT MEMBERS OF THE CHABAD JEWISH COMMUNITY HELD ON EASTERN PARKWAY IN CROWN HEIGHTS ON FRIDAY, OCT. 13. The Eastern Parkway corridor, where the Chabad world headquarters has its home, was filled with trucks from various Jewish organizations emphasizing the need to see each other’s humanity, said Mendel Meijers, who identified himself as a local photographer to a reporter for News 12 Brooklyn. Earlier in the week, Chabad and other groups distributed prayer cards and tefillin. A caravan of vehicles also played cheerful music. Meijers told News 12, “We as humans must add light to the darkness and don’t underestimate what light does. It pushes away the darkness.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was leading a bipartisan delegation of senators to Israel to discuss a military assistance package.
MTA, POLICE REVIEW SAFETY PROTOCOL AT CITY’S SUBWAY HUBS
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber on Friday, Oct. 13 joined MTA Chief Safety and Security Officer Patrick Warren, MTA Police Chief John Mueller, and NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper to view safety protocols at Grand Central Terminal and the Grand Central subway station serving the 4,5,6 and 7 and 42nd Street Shuttle lines. As of Friday afternoon, the NYPD said that law enforcement was not aware of any specific, credible threats against public transit or the region. The MTA remains in contact with local, state and federal law enforcement partners to continually assess threat conditions.
Gov. Kathy Hochul had, Thursday night, Oct. 12, directed additional State Police and National Guard to patrol key transportation hubs. Friday’s pro-Palestine rally was taking place at Times Square.
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