BP Race Watch: Reynoso qualifies for city’s matching funds program

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We know 2020’s (dreadfully) not over yet, but with city elections coming up in 2021, it’s never too early to start keeping an eye on local races.

Although the positions of mayor, public advocate, comptroller and City Council are up for grabs, one we’re also keeping a close eye on is borough president.

Several candidates have emerged, including some familiar to the political scene.

Williamsburg/Bushwick Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Bed-Stuy Councilman Robert Cornegy, Jr. and preacher/activist Bishop Lamor Whitehead-Miller have already filed with the Campaign Finance Board. Another candidate, former Councilman Rafael Espinal, has dropped out of the race.

Another candidate who may enter the contest is First Lady Chirlane McCray, who has raised her political profile of late by being co-chairing in the city’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity. She has also headed up the controversial ThriveNYC initiative.

Last week, candidates faced a fundraising deadline, the first of many, and some have announced their successful filings so far.

Reynoso announced that he has met the qualifying threshold for the city’s matching funds program. In the latest filings, he brought in an additional $19,140, bringing his total up to $104,741.

His campaign has 736 individual contributors so far, the highest in the race. He also leads the race in cash on hand with over $81,000 left to use.

Cornegy, meanwhile, has raised over $192,000 total, but has spent $160,000 of it already, leaving him with a little over $32,000 left.

His campaign has had 613 contributors so far, with an average contribution size of $314. Reynoso’s average contribution size is $142.

Whitehead-Miller, according to the Campaign Finance Board, has done little fundraising so far.

We’ll keep you updated on the race as we get closer to 2021.

Mass, procession celebrate Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Brooklyn

A mass in English and Italian, followed by a procession, took place this afternoon to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg.

The coronavirus pandemic cancelled the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Giglio festival for the first time in 75 years.

Still, earlier this week, Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, presided over a virtual version of the celebration, which was watched live by 63,000 people on Facebook Live.

“The feast has taken place in Brooklyn for more than 100 years, and is very much a part of our faith community and summer in New York,” he said.

Maloney calls for express bus from Williamsburg to Manhattan

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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is asking the MTA to consider launching a new express bus line from Williamsburg to Manhattan.

The lawmaker penned a letter to the MTA asking for the new route, following up on two previous requests from earlier in the year.

Brooklyn Community Board 1 also unanimously voted in favor of a resolution calling for a new bus line .

“Due to the ongoing need to practice social distancing to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, I think this route would merit consideration as part of the new bus lines being implemented by the city as part of the coronavirus response and city reopening,” Maloney writes. “Many residents have expressed a strong preference for buses over subways until the threat of the global pandemic recedes.”

Anyone who takes the L train knows how crowded it can get, especially before the pandemic struck. Maloney referenced in her letter that the Bedford Avenue L train station is often overcrowded on the platform.

One suggestion the federal legislator put forth is extending the route of the B32 to Manhattan using either the Ed Koch Queenboro Bridge or Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy to permanently close

The Diocese of Brooklyn has announced that six Catholic Schools will close permanently on August 31.

Among them are Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy in East Williamsburg.

The diocese said the “devastating effects” of COVID-19 on enrollment and finances made it “impossible” for them to reopening this upcoming school year.

All six schools already saw a decline in enrollment over the last five years, but the registration totals for this year were “significantly down,” the diocese said.

Affected students and families will receive help to transfer to nearby Catholic academies. The Diocese of Brooklyn, through the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, will provide a one-time grant of $500 for each child from a closed school enrolling in a new Catholic academy in Brooklyn or Queens.

“This is an incredibly sad day for our Catholic community to have to close these schools, but the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic is insurmountable,” said Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Schools.

“The difficult decisions come after the intense analysis of the financial picture of each academy.”

“The Dime” hosted weigh-in ceremony for hot dog eating contest

Photo credit: Ed Lederman

Last Friday, The Dime, a new building in South Williamsburg, played host to the official weigh-in ceremony for Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The 23-story terra-cotta and glass tower in Brooklyn provided the venue for competitors like Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo to be certified for their competition.

Chestnut and Sudo not only won the contests again, but broke records.

Developed by Charney Companies and Tavros Holdings, The Dime features 177 apartments with amenities. Its expansive outdoor terrace offers panoramic skyline views of the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center and the Williamsburg Bridge.

At the base of the tower is a five-story podium with office and retail space.

Reynoso explains why he voted no on city budget

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On Tuesday night, the New York City Council voted to pass the $88 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021.

For weeks, advocates marching and protesting across the city have called for defunding the NYPD by at least $1 billion. The demonstrations have resulted in an occupation of City Hall Park, where activists called on the City Council to decrease the police budget significantly.

However, as City Council Speaker Corey Johnson later admitted, negotiations for the $1 billion in cuts fell short.

When the vote for the budget came, 37 members voted in favor, while 12 voted against. North Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso was one of the no votes.

“I hear my constituents and fellow New Yorkers loud and clear: our systems of policing in New York City are rotten to the core,” he said. “This is not a new truth – our criminal justice system has been plagued by racist and oppressive practices since the founding of our nation, and I have spent my entire career in office fighting against it.

“Divestment in policing, a restructuring of our justice system, and meaningful investment in our communities is what New Yorkers have been demanding,” he added, “and it is our duty as elected representatives to deliver on those demands.”

Reynoso noted that while the nearly $1 billion in NYPD cuts was “the most we could have achieved” with this City Council, the mayor’s proposed budget had nearly zero cuts, he said.

“It is my belief that the budget we are voting on today will not bring about the level of systemic change being demanded by myself, my constituents and groups like Communities United for Police Reform, the Brooklyn Movement Center, VOCAL and Make the Road NY,” he added.

“I have prided myself on always working collaboratively to achieve results, but on this issue there is too much at stake. I cannot compromise or settle for half measures.”

Maloney, Lentol ahead in close primary races

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney holds a slight edge over challenger Suraj Patel.

In New York’s first primary election since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of voters cast their ballots for federal, state and other elected offices.

But with tens of thousands of absentee ballots waiting to be counted, many of these primary races are up in the air, and won’t be decided for another week or so.

That’s exactly the case in north Brooklyn, where incumbents are holding on to small leads over upstart challengers.

We’ll start with the 12th Congressional District, where longtime Representative Carolyn Maloney is leading second-time candidate Suraj Patel by a small margin. CD-12 includes the East Side of Manhattan, Long Island City and Greenpoint.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Maloney has 16,473 votes, or 41.56 percent of the vote. Patel, a former Obama administration official, activist and businessman, has 15,825 votes, good for nearly 40 percent.

Two progressive newcomers, Lauren Ashcraft and Peter Harrison, collected 5,268 votes (13 percent) and 1,933 votes (5 percent) in the race.

It wasn’t nearly as close in the 7th Congressional District, where Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who represents large swaths of north Brooklyn, topped challenger Paperboy Love Prince, 32,965 (79.5 percent) to 8,278 (20 percent).

Moving onto the State Senate, first-term State Senator Julia Salazar easily defeated her more conservative challenger, Andy Marte, with 18,101 votes, good for a whopping 84 percent.

Marte only received 3,394 votes, or about 16 percent of the district.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol is ahead of challenger Emily Gallagher by 15 percent.

Another close race to keep an eye on is the 50th Assembly District, where longtime Assemblyman Joe Lentol is ahead of challenger Emily Gallagher.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Lentol, who has spent decades in office and whose family has a long legacy in the district, won 6,608 votes, or 57 percent of the vote.

Gallagher, a well-known community activist making her second bid for elective office, won 4,845 votes, or 42 percent.

This is a race that will be decided by absentee ballots.

One last race we’re keeping an eye on is the Female State Committee Member for the 50th Assembly District.

Longtime incumbent Linda Munucci is ahead of challenger Kristina Naplatarski, 5,324 votes (55.9 percent) to 4,186 votes (43.7 percent).

Read more about the race here.

Outreach provides substance abuse outpatient service via tele-practice

Screen shot via Google Maps

Alcoholism and substance abuse services provider Outreach is reminding the community that its outpatient services have continued through tele-practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outreach says it’s offering same-day access to tele-health services on an easy-to-use platform.

Services include:

  • Medication Assisted Treatment, including induction
  • Psychosocial, Medical and Psychiatric Treatment
  • Individual and Group Counseling
  • Case Management Services
  • Vocational Services
  • Peer Services

“For those who need our services, we are here,” said Outreach president and CEO Debra Pantin. “Our staff is doing its utmost to meet the needs of those who are suffering during this very difficult time.”

Outreach serves individuals and families in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.

For outpatient services in Brooklyn, call 718-383-7200.

Brooklyn A to host virtual tenants’ rights town hall

Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A is hosting a series of Know-Your-Rights virtual town halls, with the latest set for Thursday, May 28 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The town hall will focus on recent updates to the eviction moratorium, the status of housing court, forming tenant associations and the rights of tenants when facing housing discrimination.

Attorneys from BKA’s Preserving Affordable Housing Program will be presenting on those issues. There will be a Q&A session as well.

Join the virtual town hall on Zoom here.

McCarren Park included in Open Streets initiative

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Since the mayor launched the new Open Streets initiative, allowing more pedestrians and cyclists to have room to recreate and walk, several north Brooklyn streets have been included in the program.

Berry Street between North 12th Street and Broadway, stretching nearly a mile, will be managed by the local police precinct.

So will South 9th Street between Berry Street and Driggs Avenue, a 0.17-mile area, and Grand Street between Roebling Street and Marcy Avenue, covering 0.16 miles.

At McCarren Park, Nassau Avenue between Banker Street and Lorimer Street, covering 0.14 miles, will be closed off to cars.

The streets around Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick and Cooper Park in East Williamsburg are also part of the initiative.