JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIR: STATE SENATE WAS ‘WITHIN ITS POWERS’ TO REJECT CHIEF JUDGE NOMINATION

STATEWIDE — Calling Wednesday’s State Senate confirmation hearing for Chief Judge nominee Hector LaSalle “thorough” and “fair,” State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, chairman of that body’s Judiciary Committee, told NY1 News anchor Pat Kiernan that “Questions were raised and left unanswered.” Although Judge LaSalle held his ground on having to rule on his interpretation of the law as written, Hoylman-Sigal found many of the responses troubling. “I think it’s clear in the Constitution that the state Senate is within its powers – as is the state Assembly – to set its own rules on how we proceed with both legislation and nominations and we use a committee process, and that’s what we did yesterday,” he said. “The nominee was rejected, and the full Senate has, as a result, spoken.”

Hoylman said he hopes that Governor Kathy Hochul – a Democrat — selects a new nominee that will appeal to a cross section of Democrats.

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ALEC BALDWIN CHARGED WITH INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER

NATIONAL — Oscar-nominee Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter — in the accidental, but fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a film set in New Mexico, according to several news reports. Baldwin, who grew up in Nassau County and whose namesake father was from Brooklyn, was rehearsing with a prop gun – not knowing it was loaded – when it fired, also wounding Joel Souza.

Involuntary manslaughter is often defined as the unintended death of another person due to criminal negligence or impairment.

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PROSPECT PARK ALLIANCE’S REIMAGINE PROJECT EARNS $275K GRANT

PROSPECT PARK — The Prospect Park Alliance has received a prestigious $275,000 Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation to advance its ReImagine Lefferts initiative.  ReImagine Lefferts aims to re-envision the mission and programming at the park’s historic house museum, recognizing its role as a site of dispossession and enslavement, and to explore the stories of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking whose unceded ancestral lands the house rests upon and the Africans who were enslaved by the Lefferts family.

The Alliance, which is the nonprofit arm that sustains this beloved Brooklyn park in partnership with the City, will engage the public around this initiative with a Community Conversation on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, from 1-4 p.m., at the Prospect Park Boathouse. (RSVP and more info for this free event at Eventbrite.)

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GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES UTILITY-DEBT FORGIVENESS PROGRAM

STATEWIDE — Help is on the way for 478,000 residential customers and 56,000 small businesses in New York State who are in danger of having their utilities shut off, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Thursday, Jan. 19. The aid, which the New York State Public Service Commission approved on Jan. 19, is the largest utility customer financial assistance program in state history and follows a series of policies announced last week to address energy affordability and emissions reductions as part of Governor Hochul’s State of the State address.

The approved debt-forgiveness program, which gives one-time credits to all residents who don’t qualify for low-income assistance, and to small-commercial customers, through May 1, will help avert a widespread statewide termination of service.

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BILLS AIM TO CLOSE LOOPHOLE IN LOBBYING RULES

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — City Councilmember Lincoln Restler (D-33rd C.D.) was set on Thursday, Jan. 19, to introduce a package of legislation, with co-sponsorship from several Brooklyn colleagues, to close the loophole in lobbying rules for city employees. The first bill would significantly expand the existing post-employment restrictions for senior government officials, including agency heads and senior staff from the Mayor’s Office and City Council, who would be banned from appearing before any city agency for two years. The second bill in the anti-corruption package would create a two-year ban on elected officials appearing before city government in any capacity.

Brooklyn Councilmembers co-sponsoring the package include Julie Won, Jennifer Gutiérrez (D-34/northern Brooklyn), Kalman Yeger (D-44/Bensonhurst to Midwood), Chi Ossé (D-36), Alexa Avilés (D-38/several neighborhoods) and Shahana Hanif (D-39/Cobble Hill to Kensington), and others from Queens, Manhattan.

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$44.2M AWARDED TO HOUSING PROJECT, WITH APARTMENTS RESERVED FOR HOMELESS

EAST NEW YORK — Brooklyn’s East New York section will be getting additional affordable housing, as $44.2 million has been awarded for the Shepherd Glenmore development, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Jan. 19. The seven-story building will offer 123 affordable homes with 74 apartments reserved for individuals experiencing homelessness due to criminal-justice involvement, substance-use disorders, or mental illness. The financing is made possible through New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s October and December 2022 bond issuances, with funding also through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Clean Energy Initiative.  

Altogether, more than $390 million has been awarded through bonds and subsidies to create or preserve more than 1,600 affordable, sustainable, and supportive homes across the state.

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COMMUNITY BOARD 7 AREA DESIGNATED AS A BANKING DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT

SUNSET PARK/WINDSOR TERRACE — Brooklyn Community District 7 (CD 7), covering the neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace, has been approved to become a Banking Development District, State Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris announced on Thursday, Jan. 19, continuing New York State’s efforts to expand and retain access to affordable financial services. DFS administers the Banking Development District Program, a public/private collaboration among DFS, local communities, and financial institutions that support the establishment of bank and credit union branches in areas where there is a demonstrated need for banking services. 

Moreover, Superintendent Harris approved Popular Bank’s Sunset Park Branch as a BDD branch, which has committed to a series of community lending and financial education initiatives that will foster financial empowerment and inclusion in the community.

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NO CHARGES AGAINST POLICE WHO HIT CYCLIST WHILE RESPONDING TO EMERGENCY

WILLIAMSBURG — Criminal charges are not warranted against a police squad who in July 2020 struck and killed a motorcyclist in Williamsburg, State Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation has determined. Two officers responding to a shooting in Williamsburg, and who had their lights and sirens activated, had run a red light as law permits them to do when responding to emergencies. The police car had slowed down but hit the motorcyclist, who was thrown from his bike and died the next morning.

After the investigation, which included review of security camera videos, radio transmissions, eyewitness accounts, and crash reconstruction analysis, OSI concluded that criminal charges against the officers are not warranted in this case.

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DEPT. OF CORRECTION BLOCKS BOARD FROM JAIL FOOTAGE

CITYWIDE — Public officials and advocacy groups reacted with outrage on Wednesday as the Department of Correction, led by the Adams administration, moved to block the NYC Board of Correction from retaining footage taken from security cameras in city jails, which City Council speaker Adrienne Adams and councilmember Carlina Rivera described as a “legally dubious” move that undermined safety for New Yorkers. Gothamist reports that, while members of the board which is supposed to be a watchdog for the corrections system will still be able to view some footage upon request at selected locations, the city will no longer provide unfettered access to the camera recordings, which could impede the process of investigating deaths and violence in the city’s detention facilities, as well as reduce public awareness of such events.

“Viewing real-time video footage from the jails allows [the Board of Correction] to immediately dispatch field staff to address situations like impending riots, to investigate deaths in custody, and to monitor the conditions in the jails. The Mayor’s ham-fisted move serves no purpose except to hide the violence, chaos and mismanagement that pervades his jails and endangers our incarcerated clients every day,” said the Legal Aid Society in a press statement.

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CITY’S FIRST ELECTRIC SKYSCRAPER TOPS OUT IN DOWNTOWN BKLYN

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Alloy Development on Wednesday announced the topping out of the 44-story 100 Flatbush, the city’s first all-electric skyscraper, which will include 441 mixed-income residences and 30,000 square feet of retail space when completed in 2024. All functions within 100 Flatbush typically run by natural gas will run on electricity instead, with residential units featuring induction cooktops and heat pump dryers; as well as base-building systems like hot water heating and HVAC for the overall structure being completely electric, eliminating carbon emissions and helping to ensure that the building is carbon neutral upon completion.

The building is aligned with the standards of the “passive house” sustainability movement, of which Brooklyn is at the forefront.

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BROOKLYN MUSEUM CURATOR WINS FASHION AWARD

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Matthew Yokobosky, the Brooklyn Museum’s senior curator of fashion and material culture, was honored on Tuesday night with the Markopoulos Award, a prestigious prize granted to individuals who advance the field of visual merchandising, reports Women’s Wear Daily. Named after late retail executive Andrew Markopoulos, the award reflects Yokobosky’s decades of work in creating immersive exhibitions at the museum.

The curator’s current exhibition on the work of designer Thierry Mugler is on show at the Brooklyn Museum until May 7.

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COATS GIVEN TO BKLYN KIDS BY OPERATION WARM AND NETS’ SIMMONS

GOWANUS — Brooklyn Nets player Ben Simmons partnered with Operation Warm to gift new winter coats to more than 2,600 children through his annual Ben Simmons Coat Giveback, which took place this year on Friday, Jan. 13, at P.S. 124 in Gowanus. “A new coat creates an opportunity to empower a young person by giving them confidence, offering them warmth and helping students attend school and play with their friends,” said Simmons, who surprised the happy children at the event.

Since Simmons first partnered with Operation Warm, a national nonprofit that manufactures new, high-quality coats and shoes for children in need, for the first Ben Simmons Coat Giveback event in 2017, he has helped provide more than 7,800 new coats for kids, all distributed through elementary schools and nonprofits that support underserved communities.

Simmons helps a youngster try on a new jacket. Photo: Brooklyn Nets.

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DOE FUND SECURES FINANCING FOR NEW TRANSITIONAL RESIDENCE

BED-STUY — The Doe Fund, a homeless services organization, on Wednesday announced it had closed on construction financing for its latest transitional residence at 510 Gates Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, adjacent to an existing residential facility owned and operated by the group since 1990. When completed, the residence will provide 200 beds to men experiencing homelessness, who will have the opportunity to voluntarily participate in The Doe Fund’s nine-to-twelve-month Ready, Willing & Able program.

“Gates Avenue is where it all began for us — where we first proved to the world that when given the opportunity to work and earn a living, people experiencing homelessness would seize it. Since then, nearly 30,000 men have been given the gift of opportunity and the chance to transform their lives at our transitional residences through Ready, Willing & Able.” said John McDonald, interim president of The Doe Fund.

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GOLDMAN HOLDS SWEARING-IN CEREMONY AT BROOKLYN HIGH SCHOOL

BOERUM HILL — Newly elected Congressmember Dan Goldman (NY-10) on Wednesday held an in-district swearing-in ceremony at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts, led by Senator Chuck Schumer and attended by a host of Brooklyn politicians. Goldman at the ceremony spoke out against the actions of Congressional Republicans and vowed to represent the interests of his constituents while also fighting the conservative agenda in Washington.

“I’m going to pledge to you to be a zealous advocate in Washington. But I need a promise from everyone in this room, and everyone else who may see this as well: we need everyone to engage a little bit more. To do one more small thing beyond what you might otherwise do in your daily lives. To help a neighbor, to help your community. To help the city. To help our democracy,” said Goldman in a speech.

Goldman is sworn in by Schumer at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts. Photo: Dan Goldman.

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NYCHA RESIDENTS APPOINTED TO HOUSING AUTHORITY BOARD

WILLIAMSBURG — Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday appointed James McKoy of Brooklyn’s Williams Plaza and Raymond Miller of Manhattan’s Johnson Houses to the seven-seat New York City Housing Authority board. “NYCHA residents know better than anyone what is needed to fix their homes, which is why they play such a critical role on the NYCHA board,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz of the appointment in a press statement.

“I am eager to continue my advocacy for the NYCHA community as a NYCHA board member. As a representative for NYCHA residents, my commitment is to ensure that their needs and requests are met. People need to know that you hear them and, most importantly, that you understand,” said McKoy, who has served as a member of the Williams Plaza Resident Association since 2011.

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INDICTMENT UNSEALED AGAINST MORTGAGE SCAMMER

BROOKLYN — An eight-count indictment was unsealed Wednesday, Jan. 18, in federal court in Brooklyn charging Marat Lerner, president of the Lerner Group, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme to steal from clients of his mortgage loan modification business. Lerner allegedly used his access to clients’ banking information to create checks that appeared to be monthly mortgage payments to a fake escrow agent secretly controlled by himself, while in actuality depositing the checks in his own bank account, in total misappropriating at least $550,000 from his clients.

“The defendant, as we alleged, funded his own lavish lifestyle by operating a lengthy scam exploiting his victims’ trust and fears in order to steal their money rather than fulfill his promise to modify their mortgages,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll, who urged any other potential victims to contact the FBI for assistance.




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