Diocese dealing with two hate crimes

Leaders of the Catholic church are worried they are in the midst of a hate crime spree after two acts of vandalism in just three days.
In the early morning hours of May 14, a crucifix was toppled and damaged and an American Flag burned at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst.
The damaged crucifix was discovered by Monsignor David Cassato around 8 a.m. on his walk from the rectory to the academy to greet the students. It was found adjacent to the school at the corner of 61st Street and Bay Parkway, toppled and lying face down.
The crucifix was installed at the parish in 2010 in memory of Monsignor Cassato’s mother. The parish plans to repair and reinstall it in the same location.
“This was truly an act of hatred and today is the saddest day of my 20 years here at this parish,” said Cassato. “I went over and spoke to the students in the school about what happened, telling them that hate never wins.”
Over the weekend, a statue depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary holding Jesus was vandalized on the grounds of the Diocesan administrative offices at 310 Prospect Park West in Windsor Terrace. Jesus was decapitated.
The destruction was discovered by a facilities manager. The diocese is already working towards repairing the statue to its original form.
“We are definitely concerned that there is a pattern of hate crimes against Catholics,” said Monsignor Anthony Hernandez of the Diocese of Brooklyn. “The Diocese will be notifying our churches to be on alert, and we are asking the NYPD to increase patrols in and around the area of our churches.”
The NYPD is investigating both incidents as hate crimes. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).

Mayor announces $31 Million for Brooklyn park projects

This past Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver announced that construction has begun on four new capital projects in Brooklyn.
Representing more than a $31 million investment, the projects are focused on adding to and improving green space throughout the borough.
“A recovery for all of us means increasing access to parks in historically underserved neighborhoods and creating greener, healthier communities,” de Blasio said. “These four Brooklyn parks will bring joy to and serve New Yorkers for generations to come.”
The four projects include the construction or renovation of parks in multiple neighborhoods.
In Williamsburg, new recreational facilities will be added to Bushwick Inlet Park at 50 Kent Avenue. The additions include new seating areas, expansive lawns with views of Manhattan, and water sprinklers for the summer.
“For years, North Brooklyn has been asking ‘where’s our park?’” said Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher. “With this historic investment at 50 Kent, we’re one giant step closer to making the full Bushwick Inlet Park a reality.”
In Ocean Hill, Callahan Kelly Playground will receive its own renovation. The project will add fitness equipment and a skate park.
“This needed upgrade continues the legacy of Ocean Hill-Brownsville, as a neighborhood where residents can live, play, and raise a family,” said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker.
DUMBO’s Susan Smith McKinney Steward Park will be reconstructed with a new playground, fitness area, synthetic turf, and performance stage. Formerly Bridge Park II, Susan Smith McKinney Steward Park was officially renamed last December as part of Parks’ efforts to honor the Black experience.
Susan Smith McKinney was the first African-American woman in New York State to receive a license to practice medicine. She was born, raised, lived, and practiced in Brooklyn.
“Green spaces are critical for wellbeing, for children to play and as a gathering point for the community,” Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez agreed in her own statement. “These new projects will go a long way in bringing park equity to places like North Brooklyn and throughout the borough.”
Lastly, La Guardia playground in Williamsburg will be furnished with new play equipment, seating, landscaping, and a spray shower.
The La Guardia renovation will be completed through the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), the City’s first-ever parks equity initiative. Phase I of this CPI project was completed in fall 2020 and reconstructed the sports courts and plaza in the southern part of the park.
“It’s great to see our Parks capital projects getting underway again,” said Councilman Steve Levin. “Both of the long-awaited projects in District 33 will add much needed open space for people to use.”

St. Francis moving to new Brooklyn campus

On Tuesday morning, St. Francis College announced its plans to move to a newly designed campus in the center of downtown Brooklyn.
The relocation will move St. Francis a few blocks away from its current location and into a new 254,699-square-foot space across the fifth, six, and seventh floors of the Wheeler Building at 181 Livingston Street.
St. Francis College has offered a Franciscan education to New Yorkers for 162 years, and previously expanded from a small campus on Butler Street to an interconnected set of buildings on Remsen Street.
The new Livingston Street campus is expected to open in September 2022, and will help St. Francis welcome an ever-increasing number of students. In fall 2020, the school welcomed its largest first-year class ever.
“For more than 160 years, St. Francis College has demonstrated a commitment to providing an unmatched private education in the heart of New York City,” college president Miguel Martinez-Saenz. “This is a historic moment to completely re-envision our campus and meet the needs of our community, and we are thrilled to continue offering a first-rate, affordable education in a modern, flexible and welcoming learning space.”
Located above the art deco Macy’s on Livingston Street, the new campus was purposely designed to drive community engagement and innovation.
The facility includes flexible labs and classrooms, a 300-seat auditorium, a 260-seat cafeteria with kitchen, screening room for films, 6,600-square-foot library, and outdoor terraces with views of the city.
Although the new building contains no athletic facilities, St. Francis has confirmed that its athletic programs will continue without interruption and that the school is currently developing partnerships with nearby institutions for practice and competition space.
The new campus is a component of the school’s larger SFC Forward initiative, a long-term plan to modernize and make St. Francis competitive in the 21st century. Under SFC Forward, the college will offer new master of science degrees in exercise and sport science, special education, sports management and public health.
The school also plans on modifying its undergraduate education to offer more global perspectives and to allow for more remote learning options.
“Our students deserve nothing less than an education that meets the demands of the 21st-century economy,” said Jennifer Lancaster, vice president for Academic Affairs. “SFC Forward ensures that we are immersing our students in global perspectives and learning experiences, expanding into emerging fields, and reinforcing students as critical thinkers, leaders and lifelong learners.”
The campus announcement also marked an opportunity for St. Francis to celebrate its longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Self-identified Black and Hispanic students continue to make up the majority of St. Francis College’s student body, and the college also enrolls international students as 10 percent of its student body.
“We are incredibly proud that the St. Francis College community increasingly reflects the rich diversity of this city and of our world,” said Monique Moore Pryor, Chief Engagement and External Affairs Officer. “Through an academic curriculum attuned to diverse voices, recruitment and retention of the very best employees of different backgrounds, and ongoing programming that promotes open dialogue, the college will continue to champion and grow our inclusivity with intent and thoughtfulness.”
Many of Brooklyn’s elected officials have expressed their support for the new campus.
“For years, SFC has provided topnotch educational opportunities to students from Brooklyn and beyond, helping to set them up for a lifetime of success,” said Borough President Eric Adams. “This move underscores that the future of higher education in our borough and our city is bright.”
“St. Francis College has propelled social mobility and created an excellent academic environment for students seeking to take advantage of all the opportunities New York City has to offer for more than 160 years,” added Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. “I am excited for all that is in store for the College and its future students at their new campus in Brooklyn.”

NYC Transit head gets into mayoral race

The interim president of NYC Transit waded deep into the mayor’s race last week.
Sarah Feinberg slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio for the uptick in violent subway crime, saying the incidents could have been prevented if City Hall put a greater priority on putting more cops in the transit system.
It’s not necessarily unusual for an appointed public official to call out an elected member of office for failing to devise strategies that best serve constituents. If Feinberg had ended her statements there, there would have been little controversy.
However, she took it a step further when she listed five candidates currently running for mayor she said would “answer the MTA’s call for additional resources to address crime.” Those candidates are Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire and Andrew Yang.
In theory, as head of a public agency, Feinberg should be non-partisan. She should work with current elected officials to find solutions, not lobby voters to elect candidates she thinks she can work with or who would do a better job.
It’s less of an issue because de Blasio is not running for re-election, but if he were it would be major issue.
But even so, if Feinberg is publicly criticizing de Blasio and openly looking forward to working with a list of her chosen successors, how can the riding public be confident that the mayor and the head of NYC Transit will be able to work together effectively between now and the end of de Blasio’s term on December 31, a period of time that will be a critical in determining the future of the mass transit system as the city recovers from COVID?
Feinberg’s rare political comments weren’t lost on the mayor and others.
“MTA jumped the shark with an overtly political statement. Their response to stabbings is to endorse a shortlist of mayoral candidates?” de Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt tweeted. “Taking political swipes at the mayor without a mention of a 500-officer surge on top of a 2,500-strong transit force.”
The new executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign weighed in as well.
“It is alarming that the leader of New York City Transit is willing to go this far to lobby on this particular issue while taking a more cautious, hands-off approach when it comes to fighting for funding from Albany to maintain quality service and a state of good repair,” said Renae Reynolds. “We believe it is in the public interest for public officials like Ms. Feinberg to stay out of politics and let elected officials do their jobs.”
Hopefully Feinberg can still keep a working relationship with the mayor and fix the troubles surrounding mass transit that emerged during the pandemic, from the uptick in violence to major budget deficits.

Yang slipping
In a new Emerson College poll out this week, Andrew Yang dropped behind Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the race for mayor.
Adams was the first choice among 18 percent of the voters polled, while Yang and Stringer tied for second at 15 percent.
In a poll in March, Stringer only received 6 percent, which means that the sexual harassment allegations against him by former campaign volunteer Jean Kim have apparently not hurt his standing among voters.
Conversely, in the same March poll Yang received 32 percent of the vote, which means his support has been cut in half.
Former Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia increased from 5 percent to 8 percent in a week when she picked up the endorsement of both the New York Times and Daily News.

Looking in from the outside, It seems like a small jump for Garcia considering the high-profile endorsements, but her campaign put the spin machine to work, issuing a press release stating the candidate is “surging” while her opponents are “stalling.”
We’re not sure if 3 percent is a “surge” per se, but the poll also found that 23 percent of voters remain undecided, so there’s still a lot of votes out there to pick up.
The poll also asked respondents to list their top three candidates in an effort to simulate the city’s ranked-choice voting system, although in the June primary voters will be able to rank up to five candidates.
In the simulation, as candidates were eliminated and ballots redistributed, the poll found Adams would ultimately prevail with 53 percent of the vote, with Yang picking up the remaining 47 percent.
The primary will be held on June 22.

Ditch the mandate

Dear Editor,
I’m proud to be among the more than one million Queens residents who got COVID shots this year, but why must I still wear a mask? And why should reluctant New Yorkers get vaccinated if they still must wear masks after being jabbed?
If the government wants to boost vaccination rates, it should eliminate mask mandates for people who can show proof of vaccination.
The White House should launch an ad campaign with the slogan “Get
jabbed in your arm to get rid of the mask on your face.”
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

Serve your server

Dear Editor,
In these difficult economic times, it is especially important to patronize your favorite restaurants and honor the employees who make them a success.
Now that more of us have received our COVID-19 vaccine, why not join me in celebrating National Waiter and Waitress Day on May 21.
As regular patrons of several local restaurants, including Aunt Bella’s, Joe’s Marathon Food Shop and King Wok in Little Neck and Fontana Famous Gyro and Pizza in Bayside, there are several ways to say thank you.
Let your servers, cooks and owners know how much you appreciate the excellent food and service.
We try to tip 20 percent against the total bill, including taxes. If it is an odd amount, round up to the next dollar. Why not leave a 25 percent tip in honor of this day?
If you can afford to eat out, you can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take out, don’t forget to leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook. Trust us, it is appreciated.
The people who work at your favorite restaurant are our neighbors. They work long hours for little pay and count on tips, which make up a significant portion of their income.
If we don’t patronize our local restaurants, they don’t eat either. Your purchases keep our neighbors employed and the local economy growing.
As a show of appreciation, drop off a box of candy, cookies or some other treat for your favorite waiter or restaurant staff to celebrate this day.
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Limit terms

Dear Editor,
Do you know that out of 100 Senators, 49 members are lawyers? Some stay in office for over 40 years, and after leaving get jobs as lobbyists working against American people in favor of big business. Congress is no better.
If we want Washington to work for the people, we should require that politicians have term limits. Elected officials should serve no more than two or three terms.
Many of the problems we have between Democrats and Republicans are because they have been in office too long.
They spend most of their time worrying about getting re-elected and not how to serve the best interest of the American people.
If we had terms limits, they would spend more time doing their jobs for all the people, not just the ones who support them with money.
E. Cadiz

State should approve Ravenswood project

Rise Light & Power, the company that owns and operates Ravenswood Generating Station in Long Island City, the largest in New York City, announced a plan last week to convert at least some of the plant’s operating capacity to renewable energy.
The company would tap into wind and solar energy capacity in upstate New York and bring it to Ravenswood via an underground cable. Batteries at the plant would store the energy to be used by New Yorkers in place of burning polluting fossil fuels.
Once it is fully online, the energy stored at the plant would meet 15 percent of the city’s energy needs.
The plan has to be approved by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, but this is still good news for the tens of thousands of people who live in the large public hosing developments on the Long Island City waterfront in the shadow of the tall smokestacks.
The residents of those projects have for decades had to deal with the health issues that arise from living in close proximity to such a massive source of air pollution. This would provide them some much-needed and deserved relief.
The news is also good for upstate residents, as Rise Light & Power is committed to investing in new solar and wind energy projects to meet its demand, helping New York State meet its ambitious carbon emission goals.
According to Rise Light & Power, this is the only project currently submitted to NYSERDA that not only focuses on a shift to clean energy, but also places an emphasis on repurposing aging energy infrastructure in densely populated areas to handle renewable sources.
If successful, this is a model that could be replicated across the five boroughs. Imagine if the city’s hulking smokestacks came down, and those behemoths of the 20th century energy infrastructure instead supplied clean sources of energy to the entire city.

Revised pledge

Dear Editor,
The 2021 Pledge of Allegiance: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, and I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.
Robert Berger

Catholic education

Dear Editor,
More than ever, Catholic schools play an important role in educating our children. Holy Family Catholic Academy in Fresh Meadows exemplifies the teaching of faith formation and religious values, as well as basic academic subjects each and every day.
With a dedicated and hardworking principal, staff and faculty, along with a wonderful home school association, board of directors, and dedicated pastor, the school is indeed a foundation in our neighborhood.
There are plenty of available seats. Registration for September 2021 is ongoing, and you can contact the school at (718) 969-2124 for further information.
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

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