What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, November 8, 2023
BISHOP LEADS MASS OF REPARATION
TO HEAL CHURCH FROM
SACRELIGIOUS MUSIC VIDEO
WILLIAMSBURG — BROOKLYN DIOCESAN BISHOP ROBERT BRENNAN PRESIDED OVER A MASS OF REPARATION on Nov. 4 at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Church in Williamsburg, after the desecration of the church during the filming of a provocative music video. The church is part of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel/Annunciation parish. Liturgically, through this Mass, Bishop Brennan restored the sanctity of this church and repaired the harm from the incident; the altar had been stripped and was now being re-sanctified. The Diocese also issued a statement that “Bishop Robert Brennan strongly condemns the filming of the music video inside Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church.”
The video shows the sanctuary decorated with props, including different colored coffins scrawled with profane language, as well as candles, crosses, and a glass jug filled with a blood-colored liquid that bore the letters “RIP” on the front. Msgr. Gigantiello apologized in a letter read to his parishioners during the regular Saturday evening Mass.
DIOCESE’S FUNDRAISING VICAR REMOVED
FROM POST IN MUSIC VIDEO DEBACLE
WILLIAMSBURG — A POPULAR PRIEST IN THE DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN has been removed from his post as vicar for development over a controversy involving the filming of a music video at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Williamsburg. An article in The Tablet diocesan newspaper reported that pop musician Sabrina Carpenter had on Oct. 31 released a music video to her song “Feather,” with scenes of her dancing and performing provocatively in the sanctuary and altar area. Condemning the video, the diocese issued a statement on Nov. 3, reading in part: “A review of the documents presented to the parish prior to the filming, while failing to depict the entirety of the scenes, clearly portray inappropriate behavior unsuitable for a church sanctuary.” According to the diocesan statement, Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello was removed from his tenure as Vicar of Development. While Msgr. Gigantiello remains pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Annunciation parish during an administrative review, Bishop Brennan has delegated the parish’s administrative oversight to Auxiliary Bishop Witold Mroziewski.
Msgr. Gigantiello, a priest of the diocese since 1995, became vicar for development in 2011 and has led successful fundraising drives over the years for the diocese’s Futures in Education program.
POLICE SEARCH FOR MAN WHO IS ATTACKING WOMEN
ON SUBWAYS ACROSS BROOKLYN
BOROUGH-WIDE: POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR A MAN ACCUSED OF VIOLENTLY ATTACKING WOMEN ON SUBWAY LINES across Brooklyn, from Bay Ridge to Boerum Hill. In four reported incidents, the suspect approached random women on subway trains or platforms and punched them in the head and face, injuring all of them and putting one woman in the hospital. One victim was on the southbound R train at the 95th Street station; another was getting on a northbound 3 train at the Hoyt Street station; the third was waiting on the northbound 2, 4 platform at Atlantic Avenue; and the fourth was on a northbound 2 train at the Flatbush Avenue station. The women ranged in age from 24 to 53. The attacker is described as a male with medium complexion, black hair, and a beard and mustache.
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 visit Crime Stoppers.
BAY RIDGE HISTORIAN RESEARCHED
19TH CENTURY VETERANS
HONORED ON NEW MEMORIAL STONE
EAST FLATBUSH — BROOKLYN DIOCESAN BISHOP ROBERT BRENNAN LAST WEEK BLESSED A NEW MEMORIAL HONORING VETERANS BURIED AT HOLY CROSS CEMETERY in East Flatbush. The history-rich memorial, placed near the entrance of the cemetery, honors all Medal of Honor recipients buried on the sacred grounds, and lists 18 Veterans who served in the U.S. military from the Civil War through the Spanish-American War. Bay Ridge resident and historian Michael Cusack did the research on Medal of Honor recipients.
The memorial stone dedication took place immediately after Bishop Brennan’s traditional All Souls Day Mass on Nov. 2, which took place this year in The Chapel of the Resurrection at Holy Cross Cemetery, on Tilden Avenue.
NYPD REPORT: SHOOTINGS DOWN
IN OCTOBER, AND ARRESTS UP
CITYWIDE — MAJOR CRIMES DECLINED OVERALL ACROSS NYC IN OCTOBER — led by an ongoing reduction in shootings and murders — and an increasing number of arrests were made across all seven major index crime categories, NYPD reported Wednesday. The city saw an 8.1% drop in shooting incidents compared to October 2022, and 384 fewer people have been shot year to date in 2023 compared to 2022, with 45 fewer murders. However, grand larceny auto increased by 11.3%, felony assault increased 6.9%, and robbery increased 3.5% compared to October 2022. Crime in the transit system was up 5.7% month over month but is down year-to-date. Additionally, NYCHA housing crime was up almost 11% in October 2023 compared to October 2022.
While index crimes are down, City Journal notes that many minor crimes, such as the 90,000 package thefts that occur daily in NYC, are not reflected in city crime stats.
PACT ACT OF 2022 AIMS TO HELP VETERANS
EXPOSED TO TOXINS DURING COMBAT
NEW YORK AND NATIONWIDE — VETERANS SHOULD AVAIL THEMSELVES OF MEDICAL BENEFITS AVAILABLE THROUGH THE SERGEANT FIRST CLASS HEATH ROBINSON HONORING OUR PACT ACT OF 2022 that US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sponsored, she emphasized in a video press conference on Wednesday morning, November 8. The conference, held ahead of Veterans Day, discussed the application process for the PACT ACT, which provides expanded health care and benefits to veterans suffering from illness caused by exposure to Agent Orange, burn pits and other toxic substances while serving abroad. Sen. Gillibrand emphasized that affected veterans are urged to apply for PACT Act even if they were previously denied coverage for the same cases. Veterans can apply for PACT Act benefits at www.va.gov/ .
Senator Gillibrand was a leading champion of the PACT Act. Her bill, the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act, forms the centerpiece of the legislation. Although she did not mention this in her announcement, President Biden’s support of the PACT Act has also helped veterans in all 50 states.
ADAMS LAUNCHES TASK FORCE TO COMBAT
RAMPANT RETAIL THEFT
CITYWIDE — FOLLOWING AN INCREASE IN RETAIL THEFT OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS, Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday launched a task force to advise the administration on legislative and technological proposals to combat the crime wave, which is often linked to organized criminal networks. The task force was a key commitment outlined in Adams’ “Retail Theft Report.” Members of the task force include New York Attorney General Letitia James and all five district attorneys, along with law enforcement, local business groups, national retailers and organized labor.
Brooklyn store owners told the Brooklyn Eagle that shoplifting was out of control during its peak in 2022, and easily resold items like Tide Pods, toothpaste and batteries were targeted by professional thieves. Adams said that the incidence of theft has dipped since then.
MOUNT SINAI’S OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH CENTERS
RECEIVE MORE THAN $12 MILLION IN CONTRACTS
CITYWIDE — THE MOUNT SINAI SELIKOFF CENTERS FOR OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH HAVE RECEIVED MORE THAN $12 MILLION in two new five-year contracts from the New York State Department of Health’s Occupational Health Clinic Network. The Selikoff Centers’ locations in Manhattan and Staten Island serve New York City residents from all five boroughs; the new funds will support injured and ill workers in New York City and the Mid-Hudson Valley regions — $1,341,000 per year for the city, specifically. The Mount Sinai Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health, with offices at 1468 Madison Ave. (adjacent to Central Park’s North Meadow) and at 2052 Richmond Road (Medical Pavilion house), include a dedicated interdisciplinary team of occupational medicine physicians, ergonomists, industrial hygienists, and education and outreach specialists, all committed to promoting the health and safety of workers within the state.
The Selikoff Centers also focus on advocacy and education, which contribute to reducing the substantial economic burden that workplace injuries and illnesses place on workers and their families.
DINAPOLI: NUMBER OF NY HOMELESS
VETERANS DROPPED BY 83%
STATEWIDE — THE NUMBER OF HOMELESS VETERANS IN NEW YORK HAS DECLINED SHARPLY since 2010, according to a new analysis by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released on Wednesday, Nov. 8. New York state made substantial progress between 2010 and 2022 in reducing homelessness for veterans, with the number of homeless veterans declining by 83% (from 5,857 to 990). The most significant reduction in New York occurred between 2011 and 2016 when the number of homeless veterans declined by 78% (from 5,765 to 1,248). Policy and federal funding in force since 2010 are credited with these reductions, particularly that year’s first Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Federal funding for programs addressing veterans’ homelessness through the Veterans Administration had by 2022 increased by 635% to $2.7 billion.
FREE BIKE LIGHT GIVEAWAY
CITYWIDE — BICYCLE ENTHUSIAST GROUP BIKE NEW YORK IS set to host their annual giveaway of USB-rechargeable bike safety lights this week and next at locations around the city, sponsored by bike lock manufacturer Kryptonite. BNY says its goal is to promote safety and visibility as winter brings shorter days and earlier nights. Bike safety has been a growing concern for Brooklynites, as rising interest in cycling has led to deadly accidents and injuries throughout the borough, leading many to push the city for more and better-protected bike lanes and commuter corridors — although not always without resistance from neighbors, as with the street redesign projects on Crown Heights’ Ashland Place and Greenpoint’s McGuinness Boulevard.
Snag the front and back LED lights on Thursday, Nov. 16, at the 141 Flushing Avenue entrance to the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.; as well as Thursday, Nov. 9, on the Queensboro Bridge; Monday, Nov. 13, on the Willis Avenue Bridge in the Bronx; and Tuesday, Nov. 14, on the Hudson River Greenway detour in Manhattan; more details can be found on Bike New York’s Facebook page.
WOMAN ARRESTED OVER ISRAEL KIDNAP POSTER CONFRONTATION
MIDWOOD — A YOUNG WOMAN WAS ARRESTED IN MIDWOOD ON Saturday for allegedly pepper-spraying and threatening to cut a Jewish Shmira neighborhood watch volunteer, reports the New York Post, after the volunteer spotted the woman, 20-year-old Melissa Ugur, tearing down posters of Hamas hostages and confronted her. A video of the arrest shared by the Post shows Ugur being led away by police and appearing to yell, “I defended myself, he came at me, he came at me and I pepper-sprayed him,” to an onlooking crowd; police photos show a short knife and container of Sabre-brand pepper spray found at the scene.
The Post transcribed Ugur’s shout as “They’re kidnapping and I pepper-sprayed him;” she was charged with assault, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon, and following arraignment was released without bail until her court date, on Jan. 16.
GOLDMAN, 21 DEMS, GOP CENSURE TLAIB OVER ISRAEL COMMENTS
WASHINGTON — BROOKLYN U.S. REP. DAN GOLDMAN ON TUESDAY JOINED 21 fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives, as well as all but four House Republicans, in passing — 234-188 — a rare resolution to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan over recent anti-Israel comments, reports The Hill, following a failed censure attempt last week from GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. At issue was an X (Twitter) video posted by Tlaib on Friday that featured footage of pro-Palestine protesters chanting “From the river to the sea,” part of a slogan that Jewish groups have interpreted as a call for the dissolution of the state of Israel or for ethnic cleansing, but which Tlaib defended as a “call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence.” The resolution also cited a Tlaib X post from last month accusing Israel of killing hundreds in an airstrike on a Gaza hospital — an incident that U.S. intelligence later determined was most likely the result of a rocket misfire on the part of Hamas ally group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Rep. Goldman, who is Jewish, was in Israel visiting relatives at the time of Hamas’ deadly incursion on Oct. 7 and stated that he and his family were forced to shelter from rocket fire in a stairwell. Rep. Tlaib, whose parents are Palestinian immigrants, spoke on the House floor during the censure proceedings of her concern for relatives in the West Bank and the people of Gaza, and further condemned the Israeli government.
SIX INDICTED IN BROOKLYN FOR $500M PHARMACY FRAUD
DOWNTOWN — SIX MEN WERE INDICTED IN BROOKLYN COURT on Tuesday and charged with fraudulently billing more than $500 million in prescriptions from over 50 pharmacies in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island and elsewhere. Brian Michael Sutton, Brycen Kay Millett, Anthony Santamaria, Joshua Manuel Alegria, Hershel Tsikman and Hafizullah Ebady were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and money laundering conspiracy, according to Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge of FBI’s NYC field office. Five of the suspects have been arrested. Sutton is believed to reside in Moscow.
The defendants allegedly acquired pharmacies across the country and used them in conjunction with call centers and a network of recruited physicians to induce individuals to accept $500 million worth of unnecessary medications.
INNA VERNIKOV EXPECTED TO RETAIN
COUNCIL SEAT IN SOUTHERN BROOKLYN
MIDWOOD TO MANHATTAN BEACH — VOTERS IN THE SOUTHERN BROOKLYN CITY COUNCILMANIC DISTRICT 48 on Tuesday chose whether to elect a sitting City Councilmember who brought a gun to a pro-Palestinian rally over a challenger accused of accepting illegal straw campaign donations. City Councilmember Inna Vernikov, one of only two Brooklyn Republicans in that legislative body, and whose district stretches from Midwood to Manhattan Beach, was the projected winner, with 67.5% of the vote over Democratic challenger Amber Adler, as of 11 p.m. on Tuesday night. Trump-leaning third candidate Igor Kazatsker ran as an independent, but captured less than 10% of the vote.
Councilmember Vernikov found herself in trouble last month after bringing a gun to a pro-Palestinian rally held at Brooklyn College about a week after the Hamas attack on Israel. Even though she has a concealed carry license, a state law passed in 2022 bans guns at rallies and protests, explains City & State magazine.
COLTON CHIEF-OF-STAFF SUSAN ZHUANG
WINS RACE IN NEW 43RD DISTRICT
MEANWHILE, IN THE NEW, PREDOMINANTLY ASIAN 43RD DISTRICT, Susan Zhuang is the projected winner of her City Council race, with 58.9% of the vote as of 11 p.m. Zhuang, who has been on unpaid leave from her role as chief of staff to Assemblymember William Colton (AD 47/Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Gravesend), has nonetheless continued to liaise with him in situations involving the Asian community.
The new 43rd Councilmanic District, which is shifted slightly eastward within Brooklyn, is 53% Asian and 17% white, with some Italians and Mexicans as well. Decades ago, the area was mainly Italian.
JUSTIN BRANNAN EXPECTED TO PREVAIL
IN BITTER COUNCIL DISTRICT 47 RACE
SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — TWO INCUMBENTS RAN AGAINST EACH OTHER IN THE REDRAWN 47TH DISTRICT. City Councilmember Justin Brannan, currently serving the 43rd District, was the projected winner as of 11:30 p.m. on election night for the race in his new district, reports NY1’s political reporter Bobby Cuza. Brannan, who was serving the City Council District 43 neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, wound up running in the newly redrawn District 47, against Republican opponent (and incumbent) Ari Kagan. Brannan, who is currently the City Council Finance Committee Chair, was carrying 58.5% of the vote to Kagan’s 41.5% as of 10:15 p.m. on Nov. 7, and during a celebration defined himself as a public servant.
City Councilmember Kagan had also been a Democrat before switching parties, claiming that the Democrats had moved too far leftward.
CONGENITAL SYPHILIS IN U.S. INCREASED 755% OVER TEN YEARS
NATIONWIDE — A REPORT RELEASED TUESDAY BY THE CDC reveals that congenital syphilis cases in the United States increased 755% during the period from 2012–2021. Congenital syphilis was nearly eliminated at the turn of the century, but CDC data shows that 3,761 U.S. babies were born with syphilis in 2022. In the majority of cases, patients were not tested during pregnancy, and many who were did not receive penicillin, which is the only treatment for mothers with syphilis. Pfizer is the nation’s sole supplier of the penicillin shot, and there have been shortages over the last year, according to NY1.
If left untreated in pregnant women, syphilis can cause stillbirth, miscarriage and infant death, and infants who survive can develop blindness, deafness, developmental delays or skeletal abnormalities.
WEWORK OFFICE SPACE COMPANY FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
NATIONWIDE — THE OFFICE SPACE COMPANY WEWORK FILED FOR Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. on Monday, and will carry out a similar procedure in Canada, the company said in a release. WeWork said it has entered into restructuring support agreements with 92% of its debt holders to “drastically reduce” debt and expedite the restructuring process. As part of Monday’s filing, WeWork requested the ability to reject the leases of certain locations which it called “largely non-operational.”
Valued in 2019 at $47 billion, the company suffered a spectacular crash, with reported liabilities of $10-$50 billion, according to CNBC.
72-YEAR-OLD FLATBUSH MAN HAS BEEN MISSING FOR A WEEK
FLATBUSH — POLICE ARE SEARCHING FOR a 72-year-old man who disappeared from his home in Flatbush, Brooklyn, at roughly 11 a.m. on Oct. 30. Rodolfo Caceres, about 5’1” and 180 pounds, was last seen leaving his Beverley Road home wearing a multicolored sweater, black shoes, tan shorts, and carrying a black cane.
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 visit Crime Stoppers.
CFB INVESTIGATES ‘SUSPICIOUS’ DONATIONS TO COUNCIL CANDIDATE AMBER ADLER
SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — THE NYC CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD IS INVESTIGATING suspicious donations made to the campaign of City Council candidate Amber Adler, City & State reports. Adler, the Democratic nominee for Council District 48 in southern Brooklyn, is challenging Republican Councilmember Inna Vernikov, who was recently arrested for bringing a gun to a protest. Employees of North Shore Strategies, Adler’s campaign consulting firm, told City & State that $100 cash donations were made to the campaign in their names but that they never made such donations. CFB on Thursday informed Adler that it had denied her campaign matching funds.
Adler told City & State that she had no involvement in any potential fraud related to the suspicious donations.
RABBI POTASNIK: APOLOGY IS NOT ENOUGH FROM PUBLIC DEFENDER WHO DESTROYED POSTER OF MISSING ISRAELI HOSTAGES
CITYWIDE — RABBI JOSEPH POTASNIK, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK BOARD OF RABBIS AND A LONGTIME BROOKLYN SPIRITUAL LEADER, has spoken out on the fracas involving a public defender who was videographed removing flyers of missing Israeli hostages. The New York Post reported that NYC Public Defender Victoria Ruiz was caught on camera ripping down a poster that had been hung in the aftermath of the Hamas Oct. 7 attack on Israel. After she apologized to the New York County Defender Services, she was allowed to keep her job. The video shows that rather than explain her rationale for removing the posters, Ruiz simply ignored the person questioning her. Rabbi Potasnik told the Post that Ruiz must also be held accountable for her actions by facing stiffer sanctions and apologizing to the families whose loved ones are missing. “The punishment should be a lot greater than, ‘I’m sorry’…In the Jewish tradition, you have to show you’re sorry, not just say you’re sorry.”
Rabbi Potasnik led Congregation Mount Sinai for 42 years, from 1972 until about 2014. Now senior rabbi emeritus, he is also a widely-respected FDNY chaplain, published author and radio show host.
THE BRIDGE TV COMPLETES FIRST YEAR OF COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING
FLATBUSH AND BOROUGHWIDE — THE BRIDGE MULTICULTURAL & ADVOCACY PROJECT celebrates the first anniversary of launching The Bridge TV Network. Established as a new TV station with shows highlighting emerging communities, The Bridge TV will focus on nonprofit organizations, ethnic food establishments and various local businesses in Brooklyn. The network’s vision is to “create a platform for honest, authentic, and diverse conversations — a bridge to unite people of all backgrounds to find their voice and broadcast it to the world.” The Bridge MCP’s founder Mark Meyer Appel is a social worker with decades of experience advocating for children against abuse and trafficking. The Bridge MCP’s Director of Arts & Cultural Programming is Dorinda Angelucci, a veteran camerawoman and producer for WABC-TV Eyewitness News and Good Morning America and a documentary producer.
Recent programs on The Bridge TV have included a 2023 Youth Summit with Making the Impossible Possible, with speakers including Muhammad Karam from FDNY Engine Company 205, and City Councilmembers Mercedes Narcisse (D-46), Farah N. Louis (D-45), and Rita Joseph (D-40).
KINGSBOROUGH NAMED AMONG THE TOP 150 COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN THE NATION
MANHATTAN BEACH — KINGSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE in southeastern Brooklyn is among five schools within the CUNY system that the Aspen Institute has named among the top 150 community colleges in the nation. This makes the City University of New York’s Kingsborough, Hostos, LaGuardia, Queensborough and Borough of Manhattan community colleges eligible to compete for the 2025 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The biennial $1 million award is considered the highest recognition for community college achievement in the nation. These community colleges were invited to apply for the prestigious award based on data showing strong and improving student outcomes in key areas including retention, completion, transfer and equity. Kingsborough and Hostos were among the 10 finalists selected earlier this year for the 2023 prize.
The list of the top 25 semifinalists for the 2025 Aspen Prize will be released in April 2024; it will then be narrowed in June 2024 to 10 finalists. After school visits, a jury will make award decisions in spring 2025.
INDUCTION STOVE CHALLENGE: CREATING NEW STOVES FOR OLDER NYCHA BUILDINGS
CITYWIDE — A NEW INITIATIVE AIMS TO ELECTRIFY COOKING SYSTEMS in the city’s public housing apartments, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have announced. NYCHA, the New York Power Authority, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which in July first announced the Induction Stove Challenge, a competitive innovation challenge to avoid costly electrical upgrades, have now jointly launched the program through the release of a Request for Proposal calling on appliance manufacturers to design and produce a new class of energy-efficient, induction stoves that will replace existing gas stoves. Manufacturers who submit proposals will need to design and engineer stoves that can be installed in older buildings using standard 120-volt, 20-amp outlets. The finalists will have up to 24 months to design, prototype, and produce 100 units of the new product for testing during the challenge’s pilot phase.
The city and state expect the program to lead to the installation of 10,000 modern induction stoves.
INTERNET SCAMMER SENTENCED IN BROOKLYN COURT FOR RIPPING OFF WEBSITE CUSTOMERS, BANKS
DOWNTOWN — INTERNET SCAMMER LARBY AMIROUCHE was sentenced on Friday by U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto to 20 months in prison for ripping off customers and banks using fraudulent websites purporting to sell dietary supplements, hair care products, skin care products, testosterone and online business tutorials. Amirouche, 33, and his co-conspirators charged consumer credit cards for orders that were never delivered; charged customers for products they never ordered; and repeatedly charged consumers for the same products. As part of the scheme, Amirouche and his team set up dozens of shell companies and fraudulently opened bank accounts using the names of nominees.
The court also ordered Amirouche to pay $1.8 million in forfeiture and over $110,000 in criminal restitution.
COMMISSION SUPPORTS RAISES FOR NEW YORK JUDGES
ALBANY — MEMBERS OF A JUDICIAL COMMISSION on Monday supported a salary increase for New York judges, PoliticoPro reports. State Supreme Court judges currently earn $210,900; details of the new rate “are still being hammered out” and will likely be finalized next week, according to Politico.
Each of the seven appointees on the Commission on Legislative, Judicial & Executive Compensation spoke in support of a raise at a meeting at the New York City Bar Association.
LAND USE COMMITTEE WILL REVIEW PROJECT AT CLINTON HILL BROWNSTONE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN AND CLINTON HILL — A CLINTON HILL RENTAL PROPERTY’S APPLICATION to repave its front areaway and install a wall there without permits will be reviewed during the Community Board 2 Land Use Committee meeting next Wednesday, Nov. 15. The owner of a three-story Italianate-style brownstone at 302 Lafayette Avenue, built ca. 1873 and within the Clinton Hill Historic District, has applied to waive the permits in a project to repave the front areaway and to install an areaway wall. The Land Use Committee will determine the appropriateness to waive or uphold VIO-19-0119 in this project. Work included copying the patterning and dark gray and rust coloration of the pavers at neighboring 308 Lafayette Ave., which is the only property in this row with the original areaway.
The Land Use Committee serves as the first review process for matters related to District planning, development, zoning and variance applications, permits and other matters.
COLUMBIA HEIGHTS ROW HOUSE RENOVATIONS UP FOR LAND USE COMMITTEE PUBLIC REVIEW
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — PROPOSED RENOVATIONS AT A COLUMBIA HEIGHTS BROWNSTONE will be up for public review at Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15. The scope of a project at 212 Columbia Heights, a six-story, single-family, Anglo-Italianate brownstone built in 1855, includes a new stair bulkhead at roof; a new roof deck and railing; and the conversion of an existing first-floor window to a new door to create access to the rear deck. The project also involves lowering the sill to match the three existing windows at that floor.
Baxt-Ingui Architects designed the project, according to documents provided digitally from the Land Use Committee.
SEN. GILLIBRAND TO GIVE PRESS CONFERENCE ON PACT ACT BENEFITS FOR VETERANS
NEW YORK AND NATIONWIDE — VETERANS WHO WERE EXPOSED TO CERTAIN TOXINS DURING THEIR MILITARY COMBAT SERVICE are being urged to apply for PACT Act benefits. As Veterans Day (November 11) approaches, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will convene a video press conference urging those affected to apply for the expanded health benefits provided through the Honoring our PACT Act, which covers veterans suffering from illness caused by exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances while serving abroad. These burn pits-related medical conditions are presumptively service-connected, meaning that veterans no longer have to provide proof that their disease is service-related in order to receive them.
During her November 8 video press conference, Sen. Gillibrand will share resources to help veterans and survivors apply successfully.
UNION STREET R STATION TO BECOME ACCESSIBLE USING MTA’S NEW ZONING PROGRAM
GOWANUS — MTA SAID ON MONDAY THAT THE UNION STREET R STATION IN GOWANUS is one of five stations in New York City slated to become accessible by using a new program called Zoning for Accessibility that allows MTA to leverage private development to improve accessibility while saving money. ZFA requires some private developers to design their buildings to incorporate future station accessibility projects in exchange for a zoning bonus. At the Union Street Station, MTA secured an easement at 204 4th Avenue for a future elevator and stairway connecting the street to the southbound platform.
Brooklyn Councilmember Shahana Hanif and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon applauded the program. “New elevators will not only make our transit system more accessible to people with disabilities, but it will benefit the elderly, people with strollers, and many others,” Simon said in a release.
AFTER THREATS, STATE APPROVES ACCELERATED FUNDING FOR RELIGIOUS SCHOOL SAFETY EQUIPMENT
STATEWIDE — IN LIGHT OF THE RISE IN ANTI-SEMITISM AND ANTI-ISLAMIC THREATS, New York-based Jewish and Islamic educational organizations applauded the move by the state Education Department and state Division of the Budget to release funding for safety equipment for non-public schools earlier than planned in the budget. The funds were increased in last year’s adopted budget from $15 million to $45 million to address the urgent need for school safety funding, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a release praising the move on Tuesday.
The funds for the 2023-24 school year were scheduled to be available for schools to apply for as reimbursement beginning in April 2024.
THREE BROWNSVILLE ARTISTS FEATURED AT SUSTAINABLE, AFFORDABLE HOUSING SITE
BROWNSVILLE — PUBLIC ART CREATED BY THREE LOCAL ARTISTS can be viewed at 326 Rockaway Ave. in Brownsville, according to ArtBridge, Slate Property Group and RiseBoro Community Partnership. “Brownsville Reflections: Past, Present, Future,” features works by Jocelyn Goode, Laurent Chevalier, and Sophia Victor. Each artist was provided with one side of the site, with their artworks installed on the construction sheds. The exhibition is part of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ City Canvas pilot program.
The developer called the all-electric passive house project “one of the most sustainable affordable housing developments ever constructed in New York City,” with 215 permanently affordable apartments including 130 units serving formerly homeless young adults and their families.
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