FIRST WOMAN APPOINTED AS APPELLATE TERM’S PRESIDING JUSTICE
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The Hon. Wavny Toussaint has been appointed as Presiding Justice of the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, Second Department, which covers Downstate New York. Justice Toussaint, who replaces now-retired Justice Thomas Aliotta, becomes the first woman and first person of color to serve as this bench’s Presiding Justice.
Justice Toussaint’s appointment was made after consultation with Hon. Hector LaSalle, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, which hears appeals from the lower courts and is authorized by the state constitution (Article VI, paragraphs 4 and 8) to establish appellate terms.
NEW CLIMATE-FRIENDLY SOLAR PANELS FOR FDNY FIREHOUSES
SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — Three FDNY firehouses in Brooklyn now have newly-installed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems as part of a dual project, totaling $2.4 million, to reduce emissions from city government operations and ensure that critical infrastructure remains operational during emergency situations, including electrical outages. Engine Company 254 & Ladder 153 in Gravesend, Engine Company 236 in East New York, and Engine Company 309 & Ladder 159 in Flatlands join three more in Queens where the new solar photovoltaic systems will generate emissions-free energy and use battery storage to ensure that the firehouses remain operational during blackouts, brownouts, or storms.
Unlike generators, the solar PV panels with batteries can provide quiet and continuous energy regardless of a fuel shortage.
MAYOR OPENS DIRECT LINE TO CONSTITUENTS
CITYWIDE — New Yorkers now have a way to communicate directly with Mayor Eric Adams, who on Monday announced a new initiative that provides updates on services that his administration provides. Those who sign up online will receive digital communications directly from Mayor Adams with information about new initiatives and policies, local events, and more.
As part of this initiative, the administration will facilitate a new series of email communications to New Yorkers that are specific to their locations and interests.
NEW BILL WOULD BAN FIRINGS WITHOUT JUST CAUSE
CITYWIDE — The “Secure Jobs Act,” newly-introduced legislation from primary City Council sponsor Tiffany Cabán (D-Queens), would ban employers from terminating employees without just cause. The bill, to which Comptroller Brad Lander gave vocal support, and whose co-sponsors include several Brooklyn City Councilmembers, would require employers to give workers advance notice of termination, provide a written explanation of their firing and give workers fired without a good reason the opportunity to appeal the decision and be reinstated.
The “Secure Jobs NYC” coalition includes a wide array of groups, from labor unions (Amazon Labor Union, Teamsters Local 804 and UAW Region 9A). The Brooklyn co-sponsors include Councilmembers Lincoln Restler (D-33/Red Hook to northern Brooklyn) Sandy Nurse (D-37/Bushwick), Shahana Hanif (D-39/several neighborhoods), Charles Barron (D-42/eastern Brooklyn), Alexa Avilés (D-38/Sunset Park), Jen Gutiérrez (D-34/northern Brooklyn, Chi Ossé (D-36/Bed-Stuy and Crown Hts.) and Farah Louis (D-45/Flatbush).
LEGAL AID SOCIETY: CRUISE TERMINAL’S FLOOD ZONE LOCATION MAKES IT UNSAFE FOR SHELTER
RED HOOK — The Legal Aid Society criticized Mayor Eric Adams’ January 21 announcement the city will soon open a “humanitarian relief center” at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal for homeless men, saying that this tent city’s location in a flood zone will jeopardize the men’s safety and health, especially during the cold months. Legal Aid stated that “the city must utilize existing voucher programs, such as CityFHEPS, to help homeless New Yorkers move into permanent housing, thereby allowing shelters to accommodate new entrants.”
The statement added, “Continuing to move asylum seekers around the boroughs like chess pieces is callous and indicative of City Hall’s failure to competently manage this crisis, and it’s especially frustrating that Mayor Adams continues to disregard the alternatives we have recommended since this crisis broke last year.”
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS’ NEW BOOK CRITICIZING CAPITALISM IS FOCUS OF BAM DIALOGUE
FORT GREENE — U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Dr. Cornel West are coming to Brooklyn for a dialogue at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Feb. 20. They will be discussing Sanders’ new book, “It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism” and the tough questions he believes the American people must ask in these turbulent times.
Tickets for this event, which BAM and the Greenlight Bookstore are co-presenting, go on sale this Thursday, Jan. 26 (Jan. 24 for BAM Members and Patrons) at BAM.org.
CAMPAIGN TO SAVE BUS LINES IN SOUTHERN BROOKLYN
SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — Several bus lines proposed for cuts or elimination — as part of the MTA’s initial Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign Plan — are the focus of a community campaign that City Councilmember Justin Brannan is spearheading. Brannan opposes changes to and elimination of routes, including of the B36, B74, B16, B37, B63, and B64 buses, which he says are crucial local lifelines for southern Brooklyn residents spanning Coney Island and Bay Ridge. Brannan is also against proposed stop removals and service cuts to Bay Ridge’s beloved X27/X37 express route, and to the complete elimination of X28/X38 stops in Coney Island.
Councilmember Brannan is circulating an online petition where residents can voice their objections to southern Brooklyn cuts: https://bit.ly/NoMTAcuts, and is encouraging Brooklynites to testify at the MTA’s upcoming virtual hearings, which will take place in mid-February for southern Brooklyn. Residents can register to testify via: https://new.mta.info/project/brooklyn-bus-network-redesign.
CITY HOLDS EVENT TO PROMOTE EXPANSION OF CAR-FREE STREETS PROGRAM
CROWN HEIGHTS — New York City is holding an event at the Weeksville Cultural Center in Crown Heights on Tuesday, Jan. 24, to urge cultural organizations and community groups to become Open Streets partners during 2023, and is committing $5 million in annual funding for this purpose. Featuring performances by musical, arts and cultural groups, this event has the goal of encouraging the organizations to host, manage, and program activities along New York City’s growing network of Open Streets, with the first application deadline being Jan. 31 due online.
As DOT expands its network of car-free streets and pedestrian plazas, the question arises of how delivery trucks for merchants and other essential vehicles, including emergency personnel) would be able to access the roadways.
CITY AND GODSQUAD CO-SPONSOR TALK ON SAFEGUARDING ONE’S RIGHTS
FLATBUSH — A conversation on “Understanding Your Rights: Exercising Your Right to Exist” takes place this Thursday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m., thanks to sponsorship from the GodSquad/67th Precinct Clergy Council and the NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. Hosted at the Lips Café on Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush, this community event will be an intentional conversation on citizens’ expanding their awareness and understanding of one’s civil and constitutional rights. A panel of community leaders will share what one should do in encounters with the NYPD, and in bias crime situations.
Online registration is required.
ADAMS PLANS TO HOUSE MIGRANTS IN RED HOOK TENTS
RED HOOK — Mayor Eric Adams on Saturday announced the city will soon open a “humanitarian relief center” that will house around 1,000 single adult men in tents at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and will offer services and relocation assistance before theoretically closing in the spring prior to cruise season. As well as offering shelter to new arrivals, some migrants will be moved from their current hotel rooms into this new camp, drawing condemnation from the Legal Aid Society, which slammed Adams’ plan as “callous” and called on him to instead utilize vouchers to help the migrants move into permanent housing.
The city has been struggling to accommodate the wave of migration that has seen more than 41,000 newcomers arrive in the city from the southern border since last spring, prompting Mayor Adams to travel to Texas last week to draw attention to the crisis.
NY ELECTEDS URGE FEMA, BIDEN TO SENT AID FOR MIGRANTS
CITYWIDE — In a letter sent to President Biden and FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell earlier this week, a majority of NYC elected officials urged the federal government to accelerate funding to municipalities to support arriving asylum seekers, pressing for NYC to get its due share of the $800 million in assistance for municipalities allocated by Congress to FEMA in December, as well as other categorical grants. The letter also urged the federal government to move quickly to accelerate work authorization for recent arrivals, noting that significant backlogs in immigration courts could mean those arriving in recent months might have to wait years before receiving work permits.
The letter, organized by New York City comptroller Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and signed by borough presidents Vanessa Gibson, Mark Levine and Antonio Reynoso, as well as 28 members of the City Council, is available on the comptroller’s website.
NJ DEM CROSSES AISLE TO PROTEST AGAINST CONGESTION PRICING
NEW JERSEY — U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey announced legislation on Thursday striking back at New York’s congestion pricing plan, introducing a bill called the Anti-Congestion Tax Act that would strip the MTA of billions in federal funding and give commuting drivers a federal tax credit should New York go through with the plan to toll cars entering lower Manhattan. The congestion pricing plan has drawn criticism from New York Republicans, including Brooklyn’s lone GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who in October teamed up with Gottheimer to formally demand a congressional hearing on the subject.
Gothamist reports that Governor Hochul expressed confidence that the bill had no chance of making it past Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer.
MAYOR ORDERS VENDORS REMOVED FROM BROOKLYN BRIDGE
DUMBO — Street vendors selling their wares on the Brooklyn Bridge are facing a crackdown reportedly on orders from Mayor Adams, reports Streetsblog, who interviewed several of the affected vendors after they were unceremoniously booted off the pedestrian walkway last week. While some sellers blamed each other for taking up too much space, others slammed the city, saying that the situation was in part caused by a long-standing cap on the number of street-selling licenses, preventing newcomers from being able to operate legally despite promises from officials to issue more permits.
“You’re investing so much into enforcement, and you’re not investing in creating the new system that a lot of people are waiting to get one of those permits to formalize their business,” said Mohamed Attia, the leader of a street vendor advocacy group.
BROOKLYN MAN WHO JOINED ISIS TO FACE CHARGES
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The trial of Ruslan Asainov, 46, who in 2013 left behind his Brooklyn family to join ISIS in Syria as a sniper, is set to begin this week in federal court in Brooklyn, with charges including conspiring to provide material support to ISIS resulting in death. The New York Daily News reports that Asainov, a native of Kazakhstan who moved to Brooklyn in 1998, was praised by ISIS leaders as one of their best trainers, and had pledged allegiance to the now-slain Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Opening statements were expected to begin at 11 a.m.,Monday.
MOTHER CABRINI HEALTH FOUNDATION AWARDS $22M TO BKLYN PROGRAMS
BROOKLYN — The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, a private nonprofit named after a Catholic saint that is focused on healthcare needs for underserved communities, on Monday announced it has awarded 538 grants totaling $165 million to support nonprofits addressing the health-related needs of low-income residents across New York state in 2023, including more than $22 million in funding to Brooklyn-based organizations. The grants include $1 million to Futures in Education for Brooklyn and Queens, a scholarship and tuition assistance program; another $1 million to St. John’s Bread and Life, an expansive emergency food hub and mobile food marketplace; and $300K to Housing Plus Solutions Inc., an organization providing mental health services and support for justice-involved women and families; along with smaller grants to another 63 Brooklyn groups.
“When Mother Frances Cabrini arrived in New York as an Italian immigrant in 1889, she dedicated herself to serving fellow immigrants and underserved New Yorkers. This year, New York has welcomed tens of thousands of new immigrants seeking a new home, and the Foundation is proud to follow in our namesake’s footsteps by increasing our support for nonprofits helping immigrants and migrant workers,” said Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, Chief Executive Officer of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.
BUSHWICK GALLERY MOVES AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE
BUSHWICK — ART News reports that the Clearing Gallery, at the forefront of Brooklyn’s art scene since 2011, has decamped in favor of a spot on the Bowery in Manhattan, where it will take up more than three floors of space close to other Lower East Side art institutions. The gallery’s owner stated that while he was initially drawn to the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood due to its relatively low real estate prices, the “novelty effect” of the area has worn off, and he expects to see more foot traffic in the new location.
Clearing’s move is not the only loss for the Bushwick arts scene in recent years — the closing of Signal in 2018 sent shockwaves through the neighborhood’s arts community.
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