Category: Gold News

What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, March 27, 2024

By Published On: March 28, 202417.2 min readViews: 1020 Comments on What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, March 27, 2024

VETS, GOLD STAR FAMILIES GET FREE ACCESS TO STATE PARKS AND LANDS

STATEWIDE — GOVERNOR HOCHUL ON WEDNESDAY ANNOUNCED THAT thanks to legislation passed in September 2023, beginning on Monday, April 1, all New York veterans and many Gold Star families will be able to apply to join New York’s Lifetime Liberty Pass program, which was previously open only to disabled veterans and gives holders free access and discounts at state parks, historic sites and other state lands. Benefits for passholders include free vehicle entry to state parks, campgrounds, boat launches, historic sites and arboretums; free greens fees at state golf courses; free swimming pool entrance at state pools; and discounts on some cabin and campsite rentals.

Veterans can access these benefits at parks with a state ID with Veteran status designation or apply for the free Lifetime Liberty Pass online on the state Parks Department’s website; Gold Star parents, spouses or children will need to submit applications for the Pass online.

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GOWANUS OVERSIGHT TASK FORCE MEETING

GOWANUS — THE FIFTH AVENUE COMMITTEE’S GOWANUS OVERSIGHT Task Force is holding its quarterly meeting on Thursday, open to the public. The task force is community-led and focused on collaborating with city government and tracking progress on the neighborhood’s rezoning and improvement goals. The meeting will feature presentations from the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Department of Conservation on the Gowanus Green sustainable affordable housing plan, which aims to construct 940 units of housing surrounded by parks, gardens and commercial and community spaces; the NYC School Construction Authority and Department of Parks and Recreation will also present on related plans for a public school and park attached to the project.

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The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 28, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at P.S. 133 on Baltic Street; attendees are asked to RSVP online on EventBrite.

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ALLEGED BKLYN MIRAGE KIDNAP CHARGES DROPPED

WILLIAMSBURG — CHARGES AGAINST TWO MEN SUSPECTED OF KIDNAPPING A CONNECTICUT doctor from the Brooklyn Mirage nightclub last year will be dropped after the doctor stopped cooperating with prosecutors, reports the New York Post. The case against Anthony Benjamin, 42, and Steve Daley, 50, reportedly hinged on opthalmologist Michael Bautista’s testimony. The Mirage was at the center of a possible crime spike last summer including the suspicious deaths of at least two people; in Bautista’s case, he was allegedly tricked by Benjamin and Daley into entering a fake taxi before being held at gunpoint and forced to purchase items and withdraw cash from an ATM for the pair.

The club is notorious for its controversies: an investigation by Gothamist in September revealed that the 2021 death of a customer by drug overdose in one of its bathrooms had gone unreported to state authorities, in addition to two prior similar deaths known to the state.

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FRAUDSTER GETS UP TO 7 YEARS FOR STEALING
ALMOST $1M IN REAL ESTATE AUCTION SCHEME

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A WOMAN HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 3½ TO 7 YEARS IN PRISON FOR STEALING ALMOST A MILLION DOLLARS IN A FRAUDULENT REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT SCHEME involving more than a dozen Brooklyn properties. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun presided at the sentencing of Regine Norman, a.k.a., Regine Ellis, 69, as identified by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Ellis pleaded guilty on Jan. 31 to six counts of second-degree grand larceny and three counts of third-degree grand larceny, for stealing approximately $959,000 from nine victims, falsely representing herself as a member of a private real estate auction with access to buy discounted properties in Brooklyn. She then convinced her victims to wire her money for down payments on the properties; however, no properties were ever purchased. After obtaining the down payment, the defendant provided her victims with fraudulent contracts of sale, which often included the forged signature of the actual property owners.

As part of her sentence, Ellis is ordered to pay restitution totaling $842,000.

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REVITALIZATION OF S. BROOKLYN MARINE TERMINAL
MOVES FORWARD WITH PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENT

SUNSET PARK WATERFRONT — A NEW PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENT SIGNED ON WEDNESDAY WILL MOVE FORWARD CONSTRUCTION for a revitalized South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and New York City’s first offshore wind hub. Empire Wind and the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and Vicinity signed the Project Labor Agreement, which covers contracts with Skanska, GE-BOND and Nexans. The agreement is the first-of-its-kind PLA for Equinor, and a commitment to building the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal responsibly, with the help of New York’s highly skilled union construction workforce. The agreement will establish working standards, industry-leading safety practices, and equity in the construction of the terminal, creating over 1,000 union construction jobs and apprenticeships in local New York communities, as well as thousands of indirect jobs in manufacturing, shipping and logistics.

Construction is expected to begin as early as next week, starting with the demolition of existing outbuildings, excavation of the site, and bulkhead preparation work.

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ASSEMBLY REPUBLICANS PROPOSE THAT
CRIMINAL TRESPASSING LAW INCLUDE SQUATTERS

ALBANY STATEHOUSE — A NEW PROPOSAL WITHIN THE NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY WOULD REDEFINE CRIMINAL TRESPASSING TO INCLUDE “SQUATTING,” the practice that allows a person to enter and take shelter in a home to which they have no legal rights or permission. Assemblyman Michael Tannousis (R,C/-64-Brooklyn and Staten Island) and his colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference on Wednesday, March 27, announced the bill (which fellow Brooklyn Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny /R-46) is cosponsoring), has moved to committees in both houses of state legislature. New York laws currently allow a person to enter and reside in a home they do not own without the owner’s permission, paying rent or utility bills for 30 days. The homeowner must then take that individual to landlord-tenant court to have that person removed to evict him/her, a lengthy process.

Tannousis reported that recent social media videos show migrants instructing each other on how to take possession of vacant homes to which they have no rights including homes for sale or homes from which the owners are away for a short period.

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MTA GIVES OFFICIAL GREEN LIGHT
TO ITS CONGESTION PRICING PLAN

CITYWIDE — THE MTA BOARD ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, GAVE ITS FINAL OFFICIAL APPROVAL OF CONGESTION PRICING, the latest step in the transit agency’s plan to charge drivers a $15 daytime toll to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street, reports Gothamist. The approval process, which stretched five years from the original proposal, incorporated exemptions granted earlier this week to school buses, certain commuter buses and city-owned fleet vehicles. The MTA’s goal is to fund needed repairs and upgrades to the subway system, but the plan still faces hurdles, including some active class-action lawsuits, one of which the NAACP filed just last week.

Taxi drivers objected to the tolls during the meeting as they face a $1.25 surcharge that the board approved on taxi trips entering the congestion zone; however, yellow and green cab drivers won’t have to pay the $15 toll, an issue that MTA Chair Janno Lieber addressed in a press conference following the vote, according to Spectrum News New York 1.

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CITY LAUNCHES ENGLISH LEARNING
AND SUPPORT CENTER
PROGRAM FOR IMMIGRANTS

 CITYWIDE — THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF IMMIGRANT AFFAIRS on Wednesday, March 27, launched its (MOIA) English Learning and Support Centers located across the city to support longtime and recently arrived immigrant New Yorkers to learn English and get connected to city resources. More than 60 library branches — including the Brooklyn Public Library — and other non-profit organizations will receive more than $1 million in city funding to launch the centers. The MOIA English Learning and Support Centers (including Life of Hope in East Flatbush and Mixteca in southern Park Slope) will connect immigrant New Yorkers to beginner and intermediate-level English classes, using “We Speak NYC,” an award-winning curriculum that the city developed as a tool to teach English and educate New Yorkers on city resources and services.

MOIA has also provided subtitles for We Speak NYC episodes in the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Nepali, Polish, Russian, Simplified/Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Urdu, and Wolof.

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BIPARTISAN BILL WOULD FACILITATE
CO-OP HOME PURCHASES FOR VETERANS 

CAPITOL HILL — A BIPARTISAN BILL IN CONGRESS AIMS TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR VETERANS IN NEW YORK CITY AND ACROSS THE NATION to purchase co-ops. The Fair Access to Co-Ops for Veterans Act (H.R.7703), which Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) and Grace Meng (D-06) introduced on Wednesday, March 27, would expand the Veterans Home Loan Guarantee program to include co-ops, allowing the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to guarantee co-op loans to eligible veterans. The bill would also direct the VA to advertise this co-op program to eligible veterans, participating lenders, and interested realtors. Rep. Malliotakis pointed out that co-ops account for roughly a quarter of NYC’s housing market.

In 2006, Congress passed a bill creating a five-year pilot program allowing veterans to purchase cooperative housing. Prior to this legislation, the VA Home Loans program could not be used for co-ops. However, the pilot program expired in 2011 and was never renewed.

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CITY AUTHORIZES E-CARGO BIKES,
EXPANDING SAFETY RULES FOR STREETS

CITYWIDE — THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION HAS AUTHORIZED THE USE OF E-CARGO BIKES ON CITY STREETS and has established key safety standards. New rules that DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced on Wednesday, March 27, are designed to make deliveries safer and more sustainable by reducing the number of large delivery trucks on New York City streets. The rules expand the legal definition of “bicycle” to include “pedal-assist bicycle” and define “commercial bicycle” as a bicycle used to transport commercial goods, and they establish a “Commercial Bicycle Loading Only” zone — dedicated space at the curb for pedestrian safety. The e-cargo bike speed limit was reduced from the proposed 20 miles per hour to 15 mph, and e-cargo bikes must not be parked or be left unattended on a sidewalk for any reason — even temporarily.

The finalized rules also increase low- or no-emission options for freight deliveries — including packages and groceries — by allowing the use of pedal-assist electric cargo bicycles that may be up to 48 inches wide and have up to four wheels.

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NYC IS GIVING PREPAID DEBIT CARDS TO MIGRANT FAMILIES

CITYWIDE — NEW YORK CITY HAS STARTED handing out prepaid debit cards to migrant families as a pilot program, NY1 reports. Giving migrants the funds for food and baby supplies directly makes it cheaper to feed them and generates income for local businesses, the city said. A family of four with two children under five will receive about $350 each week. The program is expected to expand to roughly 115 families.

Adams fended off accusations published in the New York Post that he had a prior relationship with the founder of Mobility Capital Finance (MoCaFi), the company that got the $50-plus million contract for the debit cards. “There’s no relationship. We don’t hang out and go [to] the Hamptons together. We don’t go to the baseball game together,” Adams said, according to Politico. 

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POLICE SEEK STABBING SUSPECT

SUNSET PARK — POLICE ARE ASKING FOR HELP IDENTIFYING AN UNKNOWN MAN, WHO in the early morning hours of Monday, March 18, approached a 27-year-old male victim on 4th Avenue near Green-Wood Cemetery and stabbed him in the chest multiple times with an unknown object. The victim was transported to NYU Langone Hospital in stable condition. The suspect is described as around 5’9”, with a light complexion and a neck tattoo, and was last seen wearing a black North Face jacket with a logo on the back and front; photos released by police show him wearing a metal cross necklace, ripped jeans and a ballcap with the letter B on it.

Anyone with information regarding this incident 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 Crime Stoppers website or on X (Twitter) @NYPDTips.

The unknown man suspected of a stabbing in Sunset Park on Monday. All calls are confidential.

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NEW YORK OFFERS TO ASSIST COMMERCE FLOW AFTER BALTIMORE BRIDGE COLLAPSE

EAST COAST — NEW YORK STATE STANDS READY to assist the flow of commerce following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland early Tuesday morning, Gov. Kathy Hochul said. The shocking near-total collapse followed the collision of an out-of-control containership with a bridge support. Video shows a nearly instantaneous collapse, with vehicles plunging into the water. “New York Harbor stands ready to assist any way we can [to] continue the flow of commerce, so it’s not disrupted. We have over 66 bridges in our harbor area, so we know the vulnerability of what can happen when one is down,” Hochul told Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe broadcast Tuesday. According to the New York Times, the massive vessel issued a Mayday alert before the crash, allowing some construction workers to escape in time.

The bridge, part of Interstate 695, is a major Baltimore traffic route, and the main artery used to travel from New York City to Washington, according to Bloomberg Daybreak’s U.S. podcast.

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MIKE TYSON’S CANNABIS GUMMIES, SHAPED LIKE EARS MISSING A CHUNK, LAUNCH IN BROOKLYN

BROOKLYN — CANNABIS-INFUSED GUMMIES LAUNCHED BY BROOKLYN-BORN BOXING GREAT MIKE TYSON go on sale today, and he is bringing them to his native borough. “Mike’s Bites” are available at Grow Together, one of the few legal weed shops in King’s County, along with the Housing Works cannabis store in Manhattan. The gummies are shaped like an ear with a bite taken out of them, recreating Tyson’s notorious 1997 boxing match with Evander Holyfield during which he bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear and started a near riot, ESPN reported. “Growing up in Brooklyn, I could have never imagined a time when cannabis would be legally utilized to enhance both mental and physical well-being. Yet, here we are,” Tyson said in a statement Tuesday.

Tyson, 57, has been much in the news lately as he is slated to fight Jake Paul, 27, in a controversial match to be streamed on Netflix on July 20. Tyson has not fought professionally since 2005, while Paul, 30 years his junior, has a height and reach advantage. Still, numerous boxing analysts give former world champ Tyson the odds.

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SMORGASBURG AND BROOKLYN FLEA SET TO REOPEN IN APRIL

BOROUGH-WIDE — FROM ETHIOPIAN STEWS TO KOREAN MEDICINE COOKIES, Montreal potato puff poutine, Colombian hot dogs and French-American pastries — food and drink from around the world will be available as Smorgasburg’s 14th season gets underway. Of the nearly 20 newcomers joining Smorgasburg’s returning roster of 60 vendors, six are first-generation immigrant-owned businesses and 11 are husband-and-wife- or family-run, Smorgasbord said in a release Tuesday. All markets return the first weekend of April: Saturdays in Williamsburg, Sundays at Prospect Park and Fridays at World Trade Center. 

On a related note, the Brooklyn Flea antique and vintage market will reopen in DUMBO under and adjacent to the Manhattan Bridge Archway on weekends starting April 6.

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16-YEAR-OLD BOY ATTACKED, ROBBED  NEAR BARCLAYS CENTER

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A 16-YEAR-OLD BOY WAS WALKING NEAR BARCLAYS CENTER on Tuesday, March 12 at roughly 4:45 p.m. when four strangers approached him and attacked, punching and kicking him. The attackers forcefully removed the victim’s Moose Knuckle jacket and stole his wallet, Metrocard, cash app card and a charger, police said.  The robbers fled towards Flatbush Avenue to parts unknown. EMS responded and transported the victim to Brooklyn Hospital in stable condition with a laceration to the top of his head.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or visit the Crime Stoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/

What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Photo: NYPD

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LITHIUM-ION BATTERY SAFETY BILL GETS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT IN SENATE

 CAPITOL HILL — The Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act now has bipartisan support in the Senate, with two Republican Senators becoming co-sponsors of this safety-focused legislation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, announced on Tuesday, March 26. Schumer and Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York, said that Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Mike Braun (R-IN) as cosponsors. The bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to decree a final consumer product safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes and other micromobility devices to protect against the risk of fires caused by such batteries. The FDNY reports that in New York City alone, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have caused more than 600 fires since 2021. Last year saw 268 e-bike and e-mobility device battery fires in NYC, a dramatic increase from three years earlier.

 The bill, which also has bipartisan support in the House, passed committee unanimously, 42-0. Among the House members from Brooklyn who also support this bill are Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-9), Dan Goldman (D-10 and Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwestern Brooklyn).

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 LOCAL LEADERS DELIVER TO CITY HALL 52K-SIGNATURE PETITIONS AGAINST MEN’S SHELTER 

GRAVESEND TO CITY HALL —AS PART OF A MONTHS-LONG CAMPAIGN TO STOP A GRAVESEND SITE FROM BECOMING A HOMELESS SHELTER, Assemblymember William Colton (D-47) and City Councilmember Susan Zhuang (D-43) delivered petitions containing approximately 52,000 signatures in opposition to a planned homeless shelter in their districts. Colton had already pre-empted a shelter on Bath Avenue whose developer, Tejpal Sandhu of 86th Street NY LLC, is the same as for the proposed men’s homeless shelter at 86th St. and 25th Avenue in Gravesend. Colton alleges that the Sandhu Group makes a practice of building so-called hotels in unexpected locations then leases them to the city at a cost of thousands of dollars per resident per month, all financed from taxpayer dollars.

 Calling the proposed shelter a “human warehouse,” Colton and Zhuang said the city must find permanent ways of addressing homelessness: through sustainable-wage jobs and permanent housing for low-income and senior persons.

Councilmember Susan Zhuang, Assemblyman William Colton and a group of neighborhood advocates displayed the petitions on the steps of City Hall before bringing them inside to deliver them to the mayor’s office.Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Colton’s office
Councilmember Susan Zhuang, Assemblyman William Colton and a group of neighborhood advocates displayed the petitions on the steps of City Hall before bringing them inside to deliver them to the mayor’s office.
Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Colton’s office

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FT GREENE PARK TO HOLD NAT’L POETRY MONTH WORKSHOP

FORT GREENE – THE FORT GREENE PARK CONSERVANCY WILL BE HOLDING A National Poetry Month celebration next month, featuring an open mic, performances from local poets, a book giveaway and a blackout poetry activity with the Brooklyn Public Library. Dedicated wordsmiths can also join the free (Nothing but) Flowers workshop session led by Brooklyn-based poet Najee Omar, focusing on drawing artistic inspiration from great poets of the past and from the natural world. 

The Fort Greene Poetry in the Park event will take place on Saturday, April 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; seats for the workshop are limited, so the conservancy strongly advises RSVPing online on Classy.

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MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS PLACED IN PROSPECT PARK, IN NYC PILOT PROGRAM

PROSPECT PARK — MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS WILL BE PLACED AT KEY LOCATIONS around Prospect Park and at park events as part of a pilot program launched by the Prospect Park Alliance and the NYC Department of Health, the park announced on Tuesday. The pilot program, Open Air Care Connections, seeks to remove the stigma around mental health care through community health outreach, events and educational programs. Health workers and referrals will be provided by the nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn (NHS Brooklyn).

According to the NYC DOH, nearly 25% of all New Yorkers experience anxiety, and nearly 18% depression. The pilot will run through June 30.

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REAL ESTATE’S ‘FUTURE OF NEW YORK’ CONFERENCE THURSDAY

CITYWIDE — DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN PARTNERSHIP’S REGINA MYER and other Brooklyn real estate-connected figures will be speaking at REBNY and Commercial Observer’s Future of New York event on Thursday, March 28. Future of New York, dubbed the real estate industry’s “State of the Union,” takes place on Thursday, March 28 in Manhattan at 5 Times Square, 29th Floor.

“The Future of NY event will provide visibility for the work that is being done behind the scenes to continuously reinforce and strengthen NYC’s economic resilience and global position,” event organizers said in a release. Register online




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