What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, November 15, 2023
PARENT ANGER AFTER MAYOR THREATENS GUARD BUDGET CUTS
CITYWIDE — MAYOR ADAMS CAME UNDER FIRE FROM ALL SIDES AFTER the mayor on Tuesday claimed that budget woes forced the city to cut a class of 250 new school safety officers, reports the New York Post, and suggested that parents volunteer for the guard posts instead. Parents and caregivers who spoke to the Post reacted with derision — “turning to parents for help in doing their own jobs!” — and frustration — “I usually don’t even have the time to pick up my kid,” — while union reps said that taxes should be used to pay for safety officer services; Adams has repeatedly claimed that harsh budget cuts would be needed to pay for the increasing costs of housing asylum-seekers and migrants from the southern border as the immigration crisis continues.
The mayor has not yet proposed a concrete plan to solicit parent volunteers but said City Hall would work with parent groups “to get this done correctly.”
BRIC TO GET $75K IN TOURISM GRANT
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT ON WEDNESDAY announced the awarding of $15 million in funding to support 59 tourism capital improvement and marketing projects across New York state through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Downtown Brooklyn’s BRIC Arts Media was chosen to receive a $75,000 grant to support marketing and promotional activities for its Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, a 45-year crowd favorite summer music and performing arts concert series, attended by more than 250,000 people annually.
Celebrate Brooklyn’s 2024 lineup has not been announced yet; the 2023 setlist featured two months of performers every weekend at Prospect Park’s Lena Horne Bandshell.
LUNA PARK WINTER FROST FEST LAUNCHES THIS WEEKEND
CONEY ISLAND — LUNA PARK IS KICKING OFF ITS INAUGURAL FROST FEST HOLIDAY celebration this weekend, extending its season for the first time ever with a winter wonderland for guests of all ages. The Saturday opening will be marked by a community Christmas tree lighting along with the park’s usual attractions. Throughout the festival, guests can enjoy ice skating, holiday lights, a winter market featuring local gifts and treats and, of course, Santa’s Workshop, offering opportunities to capture family memories with the big man himself.
Frost Fest’s tree lighting will take place on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 5:15 p.m.; the festival is then set to run through Jan. 7. More information about ride operations can be found on Luna Park’s website.
HORSE ESCAPE FORCES PLANE BACK TO JFK
QUEENS — A TRANSATLANTIC CARGO FLIGHT FROM NEW YORK TO BELGIUM HAD TO turn around and return to JFK Airport on Thursday, reports ABC News, after a horse being transported managed to escape its stall by unknown means. The breakout occurred shortly after takeoff, according to a recording of the air traffic control audio obtained by ABC, forcing the flight crew to dump 20 tons of fuel off the coast of Boston in order to maintain a stable weight while the horse remained loose on the plane until landing. No further difficulties were reported.
“The horse managed to escape its stall. There’s no issue with flying, but we need to go back to New York as we can’t resecure the horse,” the pilot told ATC.
PLANNED VERRAZZANO BRIDGE FLYOVER
SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY AFTERNOON
NEW YORK UPPER BAY — BROOKLYNITES AND STATEN ISLANDERS NEAR THE VERRAZZANO-NARROWS BRIDGE are being advised of a planned Hudson River flyover of two F/A-18 aircraft Thursday afternoon, Nov. 16, around 3:30 p.m. According to a notice distributed Wednesday, Nov. 15, from Notify NYC, the aircraft will fly at approximately 2,500 feet.
The Code of Federal Regulations Title 14, most recently updated on Nov. 3, contains the codified federal laws and regulations that are in effect, as of the date of the publication, concerning aeronautics, air transportation/aviation (including large and small aircraft, such as commercial airplanes, helicopters, balloons and gliders) and space exploration, including areas overseen by the FAA and NASA.
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW HEADING TO PRISON
FOR RETIREMENT FUND FRAUD
BROOKLYN — THE FAILURE TO REPORT THE DEATH OF A BROOKLYN WOMAN TO RETIREMENT FUND ADMINISTRATORS has landed her daughter-in-law in prison. Sandra Smith, 50, has been sentenced to over a year in federal prison and ordered to pay full restitution after admitting she stole $459,050 in New York state pension and federal social security payments from her deceased mother-in-law’s bank account, according to a report from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The mother-in-law, Minnie Smith, was a longtime Brooklyn resident who had worked for the State Insurance Fund from 1985 until her retirement in 2005. She died in September 2006 after having moved to Florida, but her family did not notify the New York state retirement system or the Social Security Administration (SSA) of her death. Instead, the retirement system received a change of address form purportedly signed and dated by the deceased.
After her mother-in-law died, Sandra Smith kept the bank account open while the retirement system and SSA continued to deposit a total of $264,699 in retirement system payments and $194,351 in Social Security payments until early 2021, when Minnie Smith’s death was discovered.
BISHOPS ELECT TWO BROOKLYNITES TO CHAIR COMMITTEES
PROSPECT HEIGHTS AND NATIONWIDE — TWO PRELATES FROM
THE DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN HAVE BEEN ELECTED TO PROMINENT LEAD COMMITTEES within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), according to that legislative body and to the Tablet diocesan newspaper. The USCCB, convening this week in Baltimore for its annual Fall Plenary Assembly on Tuesday, Nov. 14, elected Brooklyn Diocesan Bishop Robert Brennan as chairman-elect of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church. This committee is tasked with bringing different cultures, races and communities “into fuller participation in the faith, life, and evangelizing mission of the Church,” according to its mandate. Likewise, Auxiliary Bishop James Massa was elected as chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine, which is in charge with “providing expertise and guidance concerning theological and moral issues that confront the Church in the United States.”
Brennan and Massa will each serve as chairman-elect for the next year and then take over as chairman of their respective committees next November, following the 2024 USCCB general assembly.
CITY OFFICIALS CELEBRATE PLAYGROUND’S RECONSTRUCTION
OCEAN HILL/BROWNSVILLE — A CEREMONY TO OFFICIALLY MARK THE FULL RECONSTRUCTION OF CALLAHAN-KELLY PLAYGROUND in Ocean Hill-Brownsville will take place on Thursday morning, Nov. 16. The NYC Parks Department has transformed an entire street that sits adjacent to the Broadway Junction subway hub, turning it into a vibrant Greenspace and installing new amenities as part of a major $21.6 million park redesign. The reconstructed 3-acre playground features new dog runs, upgraded fitness and sports equipment, children’s play structures, two new dog runs, as well as the landscape improvements. The project received funding through the East New York Neighborhood Plan, and the Office of the Mayor. The park is named for two U.S. soldiers who were killed in combat during World War I: William E. Callahan (whose home was at nearby 98 Hinsdale Street) and Edward E. Kelly (who resided on Herkimer Street).
The Brooklyn Eagle covered the renovation process from groundbreaking: Read more here.
‘TEENSPACE’ OFFERS FREE THERAPY
FOR YOUTHS VIA ONLINE PLATFORM
CITYWIDE — YOUTHS IN NEED OF MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY WILL NOW BE ABLE TO AVAIL THEMSELVES OF “TEENSPACE,” Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan announced on Wednesday, Nov. 15. The “TeenSpace” service, which the city and the digital therapy platform TalkSpace designed with input from NYC teenagers, is available at no cost to youths ages 13-17 and will allow them to connect with a licensed therapist through phone, video, and text.
As levels of anxiety and depression among youth and teenagers have risen during and since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this new program will help connect teens with appropriate support and referrals to more care if needed.
NEW SUNSET PARK LIBRARY AND APARTMENTS
MARKS FIRST-OF-KIND MODEL FOR DEVELOPMENT
SUNSET PARK — A RIBBON-CUTTING FOR THE NEW SUNSET PARK LIBRARY AND APARTMENTS CELEBRATED A FIRST-OF-A-KIND DEVELOPMENT MODEL IN NEW YORK CITY. Leaders from the Brooklyn Public Library and the Fifth Avenue Committee joined local and state elected officials for the Wednesday, Nov. 15 ceremony opening the complex, the first of its kind, which has created 100 percent affordable housing paired with new and expanded public library facilities. Part of an innovative partnership between the Brooklyn Public Library and the Fifth Avenue Committee, this building contains over 50,000 square feet of residential space ranging from one to three-bedroom units for several income levels. Eight units have a Section 8 subsidy, and nine are for formerly homeless households.
The new library features the largest dedicated space for teens of any library in the borough, as well as a community program room available for scheduled community functions both during and outside of library hours.
SENATOR PARKER PAYS TRIBUTE TO RUBY BRIDGES
TAKING PART IN AAA’S WALK TO SCHOOL DAY
EAST FLATBUSH — STATE SENATOR KEVIN PARKER (D-21) let his feet do the talking on the 63rd anniversary of Ruby Bridges’ walking to school on Nov. 14, 1960, after schools in the South were desegregated. Sen. Parker partnered with AAA Northeast to participate in the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day this week on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The annual walk, initiated by AAA School Safety Patrollers, was established in 2018 to honor the legacy of Ruby Bridges, a Civil Rights icon who became a symbol of courage and equality on her first day of school. Students from P.S. 198 and P.S. 109, both in East Flatbush, engaged in fruitful dialogue about civil rights and the significance of equality in education.
The Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day, a student-led movement, originated from a question posed by a group of AAA School Safety Patrollers from Martin Elementary in South San Francisco.
IT’S OFFICIAL: DIWALI IS NOW A NYC SCHOOL HOLIDAY
CITYWIDE — GOV. KATHY HOCHUL SIGNED LEGISLATION ON TUESDAY, making Diwali a school holiday for New York City public schools. From here on out, public schools in the city will be closed on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Indian calendar each year. More than a billion people worldwide of the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist faiths observe the festival. “New York City is rich in different religions and cultures, and we’re taking an important step to recognize and celebrate this diversity in the school calendar,” Hochul said in a release.
Diwali holiday’s message is “the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil,” state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-15 Queens) said in a release.
AUTOMATIC FINES FOR OVERWEIGHT TRUCKS ON BQE HAVE BEGUN
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — OVERWEIGHT TRUCKS DRIVING ON THE QUEENS-BOUND LANES OF THE BQE started getting hit with fines Monday thanks to cutting-edge Weigh-In-Motion technology. The WIM system automatically records the weights of vehicles using pressure-sensitive sensors. Cameras take offending vehicles’ license plate numbers, and a notice of fines is automatically mailed to the owner. The rollout for trucks traveling south towards Staten Island is expected to begin in the spring, according to Councilmember Lincoln Restler.
Massively overweight trucks have caused significant damage to the BQE, in particular to the rapidly deteriorating section underpinning the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
MISSING MAN IN BROWNSVILLE
BROWNSVILLE – POLICE ARE ASKING THE PUBLIC TO HELP FIND MISSING MAN Bryan Ubaldo, age 30, last seen on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 11 inside his Sterling Place residence in Brownsville. Ubaldo is described as Black, approximately 5’7″ and 160 pounds, with a medium build, medium complexion, brown eyes and black hair; he was last seen wearing black pants, a black hoodie and a ski mask.
Anyone with information in regard to the whereabouts of this missing person is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/, or on X (Twitter) @NYPDTips.
STATE MAY NIX REGENTS EXAM REQUIREMENT
STATEWIDE – STATE EDUCATION OFFICIALS ARE SUPPORTING A MAJOR SHAKEUP OF New York’s high school graduation requirements, reports the New York Times, citing an Education Department advisory group’s recommendation released Monday that the state expand the options available for students to demonstrate competency. While the Regents examinations have long been mandatory for nearly all high-schoolers in New York, most other states have phased out test-only graduation requirements, according to the advisory group, out of concern that they may be unable to recognize the efforts of marginalized and disadvantaged students; the Department’s proposal would allow students statewide to instead opt for capstone projects, oral presentations or other alternative assessments to evaluate skills.
The panel’s recommendation is partly based on a pilot program at a small group of public schools who have implemented these standards for their students; some private schools have long been exempt from Regents requirements.
PROPOSED BROOKLYN-QUEENS LIGHT RAIL NOT A PRIORITY, MTA SAYS
CITYWIDE – SUPPORTERS OF A PROPOSED PLAN TO CONNECT OUTER AREAS of Brooklyn and Queens via a commuter rail line will have to wait, reports Gothamist. Sean Fitzpatrick, deputy chief of staff of the authority’s construction department, told attendees at a planning meeting last week that service expansions like the project, known as the Interborough Express, or IBX, which would run over currently existing freight train tracks, would “only make sense… if we’re able to take care of our existing infrastructure for our existing subways, railroads and buses,” although he reassured commuters that the MTA is still committed to its implementation.
The IBX’s planned route would connect Bay Ridge, Midwood, Canarsie, East New York and Bushwick before continuing into Queens, according to current MTA plans.
WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON WOMEN’S HEALTH
FLATBUSH AND WASHINGTON, DC — BROOKLYN CONGRESSWOMAN YVETTE D. CLARKE APPLAUDS THE CREATION OF A NEW WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH that President Joe Biden And First Lady Jill Biden introduced on Monday, Nov. 13. The initiative’s goal is to identify “bold solutions to uncover the answers that every woman and her family deserves,” explained the First Lady, who holds a doctorate in education and several other degrees. The initiative will also explore new public-private partnerships and engage private and philanthropic leaders to drive innovation and ensure the combined power of public, private, and philanthropic sectors advances research on women’s health, particularly in cardiac health, menopause and certain cancers.
Saluting the memory of the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio, Rep. Clarke said, “The White House’s Initiative represents a strong demand by the American people to achieve real equity in women’s health. I look forward to continuing working alongside the administration to address and eliminate the persistent health disparities affecting women across the nation
PEDESTRIAN KILLED IN DOUBLE HIT-AND-RUN NEAR FT. HAMILTON PARKWAY
GREENWOOD HEIGHTS — ANOTHER PEDESTRIAN HAS BEEN KILLED IN A FATAL DOUBLE HIT-AND-RUN COLLISION, this time near Greenwood Heights, marking the sixth such incident since late October. Police found the victim, since identified as Mohammed Hossain, 56, of 42nd Street, lying in the roadway near 37th St. and Fort Hamilton Parkway, near where Sunset Park and Borough Park meet, and within the 66th Precinct. A preliminary investigation determined that he was trying to cross 37th Street westbound when the driver of a 2021 Honda CRV, traveling southbound on Fort Hamilton Parkway, struck him. After the pedestrian fell, another unknown vehicle struck him; neither driver remained on the scene. EMS responders pronounced the man deceased on the scene.
Gothamist reported on Tuesday that another pedestrian, a woman whose identity has not been released, was hit near 11th Avenue and 64th St. in Borough Park; both the pedestrian, who at press time was in critical condition at nearby Maimonides Medical Center, and the driver of a GM truck had the green light.
MOURNING FAMILY KILLED IN FIRE, SEN. GILLIBRAND CALLS FOR FEDERAL ACTION ON DANGEROUS BATTERIES
CROWN HEIGHTS AND CAPITOL HILL —SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY) IS URGING PASSAGE OF THE SETTING CONSUMER STANDARDS FOR LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES ACT in the aftermath of a Crown Heights house fire that claimed the lives of three generations of a family. FDNY officials blamed the early Sunday morning blaze to a lithium-ion battery. The bill, which Sen. Gillibrand introduced earlier this year, and which is still in committee (Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation), would improve the safety of e-bikes, e-scooters, and other micromobility devices to help prevent future tragedies. Sen. Gillibrand said, “In New York City alone, the FDNY reports that lithium-ion batteries have caused more than 400 fires over the last four years – with the tragedy of the West family, that number is only growing. Federal action is needed to set safety standards and address improperly manufactured lithium-ion batteries that cause these fires.”
The House version of an identical bill that Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-Queens) sponsored is also in committee, according to copies of the legislation that a spokesperson for Senator Gillibrand provided on Tuesday.
SEN. GILLIBRAND WILL STATE URGENCY OF AVOIDING ANOTHER SHUTDOWN, DETAILING COST TO NEW YORKERS
NEW YORK AND CAPITOL HILL — TRYING TO AVERT A POTENTIAL SHUTDOWN, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will hold a video press conference in Washington, DC, to outline the economic consequences and will call on Republicans and Democrats to work together to fund the government. She will detail the cost of a government shutdown to New York families, pointing out that a government shutdown would cost New York’s economy millions and force thousands of New York service members to work without pay.
Senator Gillibrand, in the conference scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. EST, will urge Congress to pass funding bills and a supplemental package for Ukraine, Israel, border security and humanitarian aid.
LIVINGSTON GAINS PROTECTED BUS LANE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – DOWNTOWN BK THOROUGHFARE LIVINGSTON STREET UNDERWENST a major traffic pattern change starting Tuesday, reports StreetsBlog, trading one of its two car lanes for a second bus lane in a bid to reduce commute times along the busy route. Livingston is now one-way westbound only for cars between Hoyt and Flatbush; the two red-painted bus lanes will be partially shielded from car traffic by interspersed concrete islands, while enforcement of lane boundaries will be done via NYPD cameras.
The MTA told Streetsblog that it’s accepting no excuses when it comes to keeping the bus lanes car-free, including the stretches next to its Hoyt Street HQ: “We’re serious about getting Transit employees, MTA employees, out of bus lanes in those hopefully rare circumstances where they thought it was a good idea to park there… They’re going to find out it’s not as smart as they thought, because they’re going to get summonsed or towed,” said MTA spokesman Tim Minton.
AMA: DRUG SHORTAGES POSE SERIOUS THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH
NATIONWIDE — DRUG SHORTAGES CONTINUE TO WORSEN AND NEGATIVELY IMPACT PATIENT CARE across the nation, the American Medical Association said on Monday. To address the crisis, AMA has developed a new policy aiming to diversify drug manufacturing and supply chains and stabilize the generic drug market. The organization supports moving away from single-site (mostly overseas) manufacturing and maintaining a minimum number of manufacturers for essential medicines. Ther AMA also wants to end the practice of preferring scarce drugs on approved pharmacy formularies when similarly effective drugs are available, among other steps.
For the first quarter of 2023, the five classes of drugs facing the largest number of shortages include central nervous system therapies, antimicrobials, fluids/electrolytes, hormones and chemotherapies.
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