What’s News, Breaking: Monday, October 30, 2023
MEMORIAL FOR HAMAS HOSTAGES AT BROOKLYN MUSEUM
CROWN HEIGHTS — HUNDREDS OF JEWISH NEW YORKERS AND LOCAL SUPPORTERS GATHERED outside the Brooklyn Museum on Friday afternoon at a memorial to the more than 200 missing people kidnapped by Hamas militants from Israel earlier this month, reports Crown Heights Info. Organizers set places at an extra-long table with empty chairs for each victim on Eastern Parkway; attendees filed past to pay respects to the missing, many of whom are feared to be dead, and demanded action to see them safely returned.
Israel on Monday announced that the Israeli Defense Forces had rescued a female soldier kidnapped on Oct. 7 during an operation inside the Gaza Strip.
13 YEARS FOR CONEY WORKER OVER GAME BOOTH SHOOTING
CONEY ISLAND — A LUNA PARK WORKER WAS SENTENCED TO 13 YEARS in prison on Wednesday for the attempted murder of a park coworker over a business dispute in 2021, reports the New York Post, in what prosecutors described as a cold-blooded attack motivated by money. Joseph Colon, 38, had allegedly been arguing with his victim over the profits of their carnival booth in the week leading up to the shooting; on the night of Sept. 10, 2021, Colon hid in the “Jumbo Prizes” booth in order to ambush the other man, who he shot in the chest, before fleeing from authorities.
The victim was able to flee and escape, and was treated for his severe wounds; Colon was later captured by U.S. Marshals in Pennsylvania and was found guilty this May.
UPCOMING BQE REDESIGN WORKSHOPS
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION WILL HOST A SERIES of public visioning workshops over the next two weeks on the changes coming to and proposed for the BQE over the course of its redesign and repair process. This third round of workshopping will discuss concepts developed from previous community feedback.
Virtual meetings on the BQE North and South will take place on Thursday, Nov. 2, and Wednesday, Nov. 8, while an in-person meeting on the BQE South will take place on Monday, Nov. 6 at P.S. 24; for more information on virtual meeting registration and times, visit the DOT’s BQE Vision website.
FIRE SAFETY FEARS RAISED AT FLOYD BENNETT MIGRANT CAMPSITE
MARINE PARK — AS THE CITY PREPARED TO OPEN A NEWLY CONSTRUCTED CAMPSITE at Floyd Bennett Field to 500 migrants on Monday, local politicians and area residents raised protests, reports ABC News, highlighting fire safety concerns stemming from inadequate fire hydrant coverage in the area now occupied by tents and other facilities. Councilmember Joan Ariola, chair of the City Council’s Fire and Emergency Management Committee, wrote online that the field “is a fire trap… This is absolutely a catastrophe waiting to happen — ‘not reliable’ fire hydrants nearly a half mile away and lithium-ion powered mobility devices in the area is a recipe for disaster;” Ariola has been an outspoken opposition to the plan to house people at the field, citing concerns over flooding and distance from services, and last month co-filed a lawsuit along with several other politicians in an attempt to halt the project.
Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul are enthusiastic advocates for the tent camp, which when full is set to house 2,000 residents; the mayor in a response acknowledged that conditions at Floyd Bennett were “unfair,” but repeated his frequent argument that the city cannot find any more space indoors for newcomers.
COLTON PRAISES DROPPED CHARGES AGAINST PARENT,
BUT PUSHES FOR SCHOOL ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAMS
DYKER HEIGHTS — ASSEMBLYMEMBER WILLIAM COLTON IS PRAISING the Brooklyn District Attorney on his handling of a schoolyard brawl that escalated when two of the parents got involved. Assemblymember William Colton, his chief of staff (now on unpaid leave) Susan Zhuang and community leaders met with Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez about the charges being considered in the aftermath of the September 2023 schoolyard brawl at I.S. 201 (which Google lists as being at 12th Avenue and 80th St.) within his district. The case arose out of an incident in which a group of Asian students was allegedly assaulted by classmates, and which escalated a few days later when a man related to the alleged assailants was reported to have shown up at the home of one of the victims in the initial fight. The victim’s father was arrested as well as the man who went to his home. After interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance tape, District Attorney Gonzalez dropped the charges against the father of the victimized student.
Colton then led a group in a rally urging the Department of Education to implement effective anti-bullying programs.
FDA ISSUES WARNING ON BRANDS OF EYE DROPS
NATIONWIDE — MORE THAN TWO DOZEN VARIETIES OF EYE DROPS CARRY A RISK OF INFECTION and are being pulled from the shelves of major drugstores, such as CVS And Target, the Food & Drug Administration is warning consumers. According to an Associated Press story, 26 over-the-counter lubricating eye drop products carry a risk of infections that could lead to blindness. The affected store-brand products are sold by CVS Health, Target, Rite Aid and Cardinal Health. Consumers should stop using the products immediately and avoid purchasing any that remain on pharmacy and store shelves.
After FDA inspectors found unsanitary conditions and bacteria at the facility producing the drops, the agency asked the retailers to pull the products. But the FDA did not disclose the location of the factory or when it was inspected.
FIRST SIX OMNY CARD VENDING MACHINES ACTIVATED IN NYC — CASH NOW ACCEPTED
CITYWIDE — THE FIRST SIX OMNY CARD VENDING MACHINES have been activated across New York City, MTA announced on Monday. Customers will be able to pay for the cards and refills with cash, along with credit or digital cards and wallets. “Allowing cash-paying customers to easily get and refill OMNY cards is a great addition,” said MTA President of Construction & Development Jamie Torres-Springer. The first vending machines located in Brooklyn have been installed at Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center. Other locations include 86th Street and Lexington Avenue; Bowling Green; Fordham Road (two installed there); and Junction Boulevard.
“Thanks to the MTA, the George Costanza wallet is a thing of the past, we are all tapping in and out of the subway system in record speed,” Councilmember Lincoln Restler (D-Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights) said in a release.
MTA PUBLIC TOWN HALLS WILL SHOWCASE
INTERBOROUGH EXPRESS PROJECT
BOROUGHWIDE — THE METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY WILL HOLD ITS FIRST SERIES of public town hall meetings, in Brooklyn and Queens, on the Interborough Express, which could potentially provide connections to 17 subway lines, and serve neighborhoods that currently lack subway access. The Interborough Express would use the existing right-of-way of the Bay Ridge Branch, a freight rail line that runs through Brooklyn and Queens, connecting ethnically and socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods between Bay Ridge and Jackson Heights. The first town hall will be held at Brooklyn College in Flatbush, next Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The other Brooklyn Town Hall (in addition to one in Queens on Nov. 15) will take place on Thursday, Nov. 30, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Widdi Catering Hall in Sunset Park.
The town hall events will provide an opportunity for members of the public to learn more about the proposed project and to provide feedback on its potential benefits as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) prepares to formally enter the environmental review process.
A LOOK INSIDE BROOKLYN’S TALLEST OFFICE BUILDING
DOWNTOWN — BROOKLYN’S TALLEST OFFICE BUILDING, at 35 stories high, is roughly 60% leased, according to News12 Brooklyn’s inside look at the 1 Willoughby Square development. JEMB Realty told News12 that it’s the first new office building the borough has seen in a generation.
Companies leasing space there so far include Gemic, FXCollaborative, Big Spaceship and the Ms. Foundation for Women.
NEW YORK EXPANDS SNAP BENEFITS AT FARMERS’ MARKETS
BOROUGHWIDE — SNAP BENEFICIARIES ARE RECEIVING BOOSTED BENEFITS AT FARMERS’ MARKETS, according to a statement released by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday. The “FreshConnect Fresh2You” initiative, which provides SNAP (formerly called food stamps) participants with $2 checks for every $2 spent at farmers’ markets, has increased coupon capacity by 156% this year, with 52 farmers’ markets statewide issuing coupons, up from 47 in 2022. Brooklyn is home to 38 of these markets, according to the program website.
Visit agriculture.ny.gov/farmersmarkets to find a participating market near you.
BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY NAMES
BOOK PRIZE WINNERS
BOROUGHWIDE — THE WINNERS OF THE NINTH ANNUAL BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY BOOK PRIZE, which were announced on Monday, Oct. 30, are Lamya H, winning the Nonfiction Prize for Hijab Butch Blues, and Catherine Lacey, winning the Fiction Prize for Biography of X. The Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize recognizes writing that captures the spirit of the borough. Catherine Lacy’s best-selling novel “Biography of X” introduces the reader to a widow intent on setting the record straight about her deceased wife, and to the extraordinary journey in the process. Lamya H.’s memoir, “Hijab Butch Blues,” unfolds her quest for community and belonging as a queer, devout Muslim immigrant.
This year, librarians and library staff members working in BPL’s 62 locations nominated over 80 books, including stories of immigrants and innkeepers, surgeons and sea merchants, musical composers and marine biologists, writers and working-class families, representing all of the borough’s richly diverse communities.
COMMONPLACE RAISES $170K TO BUY PARK CHURCH
GREENPOINT — LAST-DITCH EFFORT TO REDIRECT THE SALE OF THE PARK CHURCH in GREENPOINT SECURED $170K IN 3 DAYS, thanks to a new crowdfunding investment model developed during the Obama administration. A local group of activists organized as “CommonPlace,” last Friday, Oct. 27, launched a broad-based fundraising plan with the goal of purchasing the church. Working closely with the New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative, CommonPlace raised $170K in pledged investments from more than 115 Greenpointers over the weekend and continues apace. A video explaining the current efforts is available online. Interested parties are encouraged to get in touch and join our efforts.
If successful, these collaborative efforts will enable Greenpoint to purchase the Park Church — an outcome that local elected officials, a broad coalition of the community and reportedly, Attorney General Letitia James herself. Plans call for the church to become a secular community center.
BROOKLYN OFFICIALS ARRESTED AT GRAND CENTRAL PROTEST OVER BOMBING OF GAZA
MANHATTAN — BROOKLYN ASSEMBLYMEMBER EMILY GALLAGHER (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg), state Sen. Jabari Brisport and City Council Member Shahana Hanif were arrested at Grand Central Station on Friday during a mass demonstration calling for the end of the bombing of Gaza, amNY and the New York Post report. The protest was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, which hopes to call attention to the plight of Palestinian civilians under bombardment following the horrific Hamas attack on Israeli citizens on Oct. 7. Police shut down the entrances to Grand Central Terminal, leading to hundreds of angry commuters fighting to get to their trains. According to CBS News, 200 protesters were arrested.
“In the last two weeks, over 7,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed,” a statement from Jewish Voices for Peace claimed.
NYPD TOW TRUCK DRIVER WHO RAN DOWN CHILD IS NOW FACING CHARGES
FORT GREENE — THE NYPD TOW TRUCK DRIVER who hit and killed a 7-year-old boy crossing Myrtle Avenue near Fort Greene Park with his mom on the way to school Thursday is now facing charges, CBS New York reports. Stephanie Sharp, 54, has been charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due caution following the shocking death of Kamari Hughes.
Witnesses told CBS New York the driver was on her cellphone, speeding, and ran a red light.
NARCOTIC ‘TRASH CANS’ & CRACK PIPES LITTER CENTRAL BROOKLYN PLAYGROUNDS
CENTRAL BROOKLYN — PLAYGROUNDS IN NEIGHBORHOODS INCLUDING CROWN HEIGHTS AND BEDFORD-STUYVESANT are “overrun with used drug paraphernalia” including crack cocaine pipes and colorful “trash can” vials used to hold fentanyl and heroin, parents told the New York Post. “We’re finding them all over — Crispus Attucks Playground, Hattie Carthan Playground, Herbert Von King Park, Jesse Owens Playground, Brower Park,” one mother said.
A parent cleanup crew recently gathered more than 100 pieces of drug paraphernalia over a seven-day span at Crispus Attucks in Clinton Hill, the Post reported.
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS APARTMENT BUILDING TO HOUSE BOROUGH’S MOST EXPENSIVE RENTAL
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A NEW 10-STORY BUILDING ON COLUMBIA HEIGHTS will reportedly be the site of Brooklyn’s priciest rental, at $33,990 per month, according to the Robb Report. The Torre House, currently nearing completion at 124 Columbia Heights, has officially begun leasing, and one of the apartments — a four-bedroom duplex — is asking this potentially record-setting price. Currently, the most expensive lease available on the open market in the borough is a Brooklyn Heights townhouse that’s asking $27,500 per month.
The Torre House is located on the former site of a four-story brownstone that belonged to abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher from 1856 to 1881.
HACKERS STEAL PERSONAL INFO OF THOUSANDS OF MEDICAL PATIENTS IN BROOKLYN
DITMAS PARK — HACKERS OBTAINED THE PERSONAL INFORMATION of 48,459 patients of Brooklyn Premier Orthopedics, an orthopedic and pain management center in Ditmas Park and other locations, the HIPAA Journal reports. According to BPO’s breach notice, unauthorized individuals gained access to patient data including names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and medical treatment information.
Individuals with questions may contact 1-833-961-7569 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday.
BK COLLEGE ANTHROPOLOGIST VIRTUALLY RECONSTRUCTS SKULL OF 12 MILLION-YEAR-OLD APE
MIDWOOD — AN ANTHROPOLOGY LECTURER AT BROOKLYN COLLEGE was the lead author of a study, along with scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and the Miquel Crusafont Catalan Institute of Paleontology, that used CT scans to reconstruct the damaged skull of a great ape species that lived about 12 million years ago. Kelsey Pugh led the effort to virtually segment the CT scan to create a virtual reconstruction of the face. The scientists found that Pierolapithecus catalaunicus shares similarities in overall face shape and size with both fossilized and living great apes, but it also has distinct facial features not found in other Middle Miocene apes.
Researchers said that Pierolapithecus may be crucial to understanding great apes and human evolution.
POLICE SEARCHING FOR MILL BASIN MAN, LAST SEEN AT A HOSPITAL IN YONKERS
MILL BASIN — A 21-YEAR-OLD BROOKLYN MAN WHO WAS LAST SEEN AT A HOSPITAL IN YONKERS has disappeared, and police are asking the public for information. Ilan Pearlstein, a Mill Basin resident, was last seen on Friday, Oct. 20, at approximately 12:30 p.m. inside of Saint Joseph’s Hospital on South Broadway in Yonkers. Pearlstein is described as a white male, about 6’ 3” tall and 180 pounds. It is unknown what clothing he was wearing at the time.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), or by visiting the CrimeStoppers website.
FCC HEAD MEETS WITH BK LIBRARY LEADERS TO BOOST DISCOUNTED INTERNET INITIATIVE
BOROUGHWIDE — FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION Chair Jessica Rosenworcel visited Brooklyn Public Library on Wednesday to collaborate with library leadership on the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, designed to close the digital divide. The ACP provides a $30 per month discount on internet charges to eligible households. The FCC has provided $250K in grant funding to BPL, which helps eligible people apply for the program.
Households eligible for the $30 discount to their home internet bill include parents and guardians of all NYC public school and many charter school students; participants in various government assistance programs; and, people with income at 200% or less than the federal poverty guideline (e.g.: $39,440 or less for a household of two).
ADAMS, BANKS: ‘ALARMING INCREASE OF HATEFUL RHETORIC’ IN SCHOOLS
CITYWIDE — NYC MAYOR ERIC ADAMS AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR DAVID BANKS said in a statement released late Thursday that they were dismayed at the “alarming increase of hateful rhetoric” being expressed at schools across both the city and the nation, particularly surrounding the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. The officials blamed “inaccuracies on unsourced sites” for fueling toxic speech and division at educational institutions, adding that the city would not tolerate such behavior.
Adams and Banks said they would be asking superintendents to work with their local principals and community and faith leaders “to help develop and teach cultural understanding at our city’s schools.”
ADAMS OFFERS ONE-WAY TICKET OUT OF TOWN TO ‘UNWELCOME’ NYC MIGRANTS
CITYWIDE — MAYOR ERIC ADAMS IS OFFERING MIGRANTS a one-way ticket to the destination of their choice, hoping to wiggle out of the city’s obligation to shelter them for months on end, Politico reports. And he’s warning those opting to stay here that they may end up sleeping on the streets. Critics say Adams’ actions lack compassion. Councilmember Shahana Hanif (D-Park Slope, Gowanus) says the Adams administration has “consistently created hysteria and chaos and confusion and [has] not used a tone of inclusivity and welcome.”
More importantly, tracking a migrant’s applications for work authorization or asylum can be impossible once he or she leaves the city’s care, Gothamist reported.
ALMOST ALL OF NYC’S SHINY NEW R211 SUBWAY CARS ARE OUT OF SERVICE
CITYWIDE — SIX OUT OF SEVEN OF THE CITY’S FANCY NEW R211 SUBWAY CARS have been taken out of service due to faulty gearboxes, Gothamist reported Thursday. If the gearbox is damaged, the wheels can lock up, drag and become flat.
The MTA board last year approved the purchase of another 640 R211 cars from Kawasaki for $1.78 billion, Gothamist added.
CITY ANNOUNCES TENTATIVE CONTRACT AGREEMENT WITH SANITATION WORKERS
CITYWIDE — MAYOR ERIC ADAMS AND THE NYC OFFICE OF LABOR RELATIONS on Friday announced a tentative contract agreement with the Uniformed Sanitation Workers’ Union Local 831. The five-year, two-month tentative agreement, which would cover approximately 7,100 New York City sanitation workers, is retroactive, beginning on Dec. 28, 2022, and expires on Feb. 27, 2028. It provides wage increases between 3.25 and 4.00%, consistent with the agreement with the Police Benevolent Association in this year’s round of bargaining, the city said in a release.
The agreement also improves the early steps of the salary schedule, helping to bring starting pay up to $50,000 by the end of the contract term, the city said. The agreement must still be ratified by the union’s membership.
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