Restaurant Revitalization Fund helps Forest Hills businesses

Millions went to food businesses in Forest Hills as part of the $28.6 billion federal relief fund for eateries, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).
The RRF is run by the Small Business Administration (SBA), and has been supplying grants to food businesses from May 3 to July 14.
However, critics argue that the program was significantly underfunded. About 370,000 businesses nationwide applied for $75 billion. Less than one-third (roughly 105,000 out of the 370,000) of the applicants were approved.
In New York alone, more than 27,000 businesses applied for $9.63 billion. However, only one-third (9,800 out of the 27,000) were able to be funded.
As the SBA initially stated in a press release, the RRF is primarily focused on supporting “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans.”
Businesses that qualified as disadvantaged were able to receive approvals for their applications three weeks ahead of businesses that didn’t. Those who didn’t qualify could still apply at the same time, but their applications wouldn’t be processed or prioritized.
In response, some restaurant owners sued, claiming that they were being discriminated against. Eventually, the SBA was forced to alter the plan after several judges sided with the business that sued.
Following the lawsuits the SBA had to freeze or revoke payments for about 3,000 applicants who had already been notified about their application approval.
The SBA commented that although they can’t speak on the specifics of the litigation, they will continue to help small businesses. According to SBA data, (in total) 34% of the funds were granted to businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, 44% went to businesses owned by women, and 5.7% to veteran-owned businesses.
Independent businesses are eligible to receive up to $5 million, whereas restaurant groups are eligible for up to $10 million. Some of these already well-funded restaurant groups are being granted millions.
A great number of businesses in Forest Hills, both large and small, received grants.
The average grant for Forest Hills’ food businesses was $203,705, with the individual grants ranging from approximately $2,900 to $1.2 million. Dee’s Italian restaurant (107-23 Metropolitan Avenue) received Forest Hills’ biggest grant, roughly $1.2 million.
The grants can be used for payroll costs, sick leave, business mortgage, business rent payments, business debt service, business utility and maintenance payments, construction for outdoor seating, business supplies, and business food and beverage expenses.
Regrettably, there are still hundreds of thousands of food businesses that have been denied needed money. Congress is currently considering refunding the RRF, introducing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021. This would give the RRF a $60 billion replenishment and afford rejected restaurants another chance at funding.

Diocese receives relic of potential new saint

On Wednesday, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and other members of the Diocese of Brooklyn accepted a relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis, the first millennial to be considered for sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church.
Acutis was born and raised in Italy, but gained notoriety internationally for creating a website ( listing every Catholic miracle of the Eucharist throughout history. Acutis tragically passed away at age 15 in 2006 after a battle with leukemia.
However, Pope Francis later attributed a miracle to him when a boy with a malformed pancreas was healed after coming into contact with one of Acutis’ shirts.
In order for someone to become a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, they must have two miracles attributed to them. There are still relics – physical remains such as hair, skin, or bones – from Acutis’ life that could still potentially lead to another miracle.
To this end, Bishop DiMarzio reached out to Bishop Domenico Sorrentino from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino in central Italy and asked if one of Acutis’ relics coulc be sent to Brooklyn.
Bishop Sorrentino agreed, and on Wednesday the relic – in this case a lock of Acutis’ hair – arrived at the chapel of the Diocese of Brooklyn Chancery in Windsor Terrace.
“There are over 10,000 recognized saints and only about 120 are under the age of 15 years old,” Bishop DiMarzio explained on Wednesday. “Consistent from the age of seven, this boy [Acutis] was attracted to the Eucharist and to the mass, but he wasn’t detached from the world. You can see from the pictures, he wore blue jeans and sneakers. He was always on the internet.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn plans on bringing the relic to schools and churches throughout Brooklyn in the hopes of inspiring other young people.
“We have a very vital youth ministry that works with young people trying to teach them to think about and practice their faith,” Bishop DiMarzio told this paper. “So to have this relic with us enhances that work. You can read a lot of books, but somebody’s life teaches us and inspires us more.”
The relic arrives at a time when the Diocese of Brooklyn is actively working to leverage new technologies and ideas to confront modern problems. Last month, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens launched a new sustainable energy initiative that aims to confront climate change.
Bishop DiMarzio hopes that Acutis’ work will continue to motivate the church and its members to address pressing issues.
“It’s important to us to be in the world,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “We are not something from the past. We are from the present, and we want to make sure we can reach the people here in the present. So when the church gives us this blessed person who is very contemporary, that can maybe inspire people.”

Statues vandalized outside Forest Hills church

Early on Saturday morning, a vandal damaged two statues outside of Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church at 70-01 Kissel Street in Forest Hills.
The two statues targeted by the vandal had been in place since the church’s opening in 1937, and depict the Blessed Mother and St. Therese, the patron saint of florists. The vandal dragged the statues close to 200 feet across 70th Avenue before destroying them completely with a hammer.
Earlier in the week, both of the statues had been toppled, but were not damaged. Church officials believe that the same person is responsible for both incidents.
“Both of these statues have stood in front of the church since it was built,” said Father Frank Schwarz, Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church. “It is heartbreaking, but sadly it is becoming more and more common these days. I pray that religious tolerance may become more a part of our society.”
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.
Then on May 17, a statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus was found vandalized near the diocese’s administrative office in Windsor Terrace. Diocese officials are working towards repairing the statue to its original form.
The Roman Catholic Church is not the only religious community currently reeling from a surge in crimes. On May 13, worshippers at the Tayba Islamic Center in Sheepshead Bay were shocked to find anti-Palestine phrases scraswled on the side of the building.
On May 22, a group of Jewish worshippers were verbally assaulted outside of a Borough Park Temple. Both episodes occurred while tensions between Israel and Palestine remained extremely high.
The Diocese of Brooklyn asks that anyone with information about this weekend’s attack in Forest Hills reach out to the NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).

Congresswoman celebrates first Child Tax Credit payments

This past Thursday, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez celebrated the first child tax credit payments during a special town hall session via Zoom. Velazquez, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Lower Manhattan, discussed the transformative impact she believes the new funding will have.
“Today, families across the city received their first child tax credit check,” Velazquez said. “This is an important, massive investment to confront childhood poverty in our nation.”
The federal child tax credit was greatly expanded this past March with the passage of President Joe Biden and Democrats’ $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Previously, the credit only awarded a small sum of money to parents who earned enough money to owe income tax.
After the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the credit is available to many more families, with the desired effect of helping those who lost jobs or incurred unexpected financial burdens during the pandemic.
Velazquez detailed the process to receive and be eligible for the child tax credit.
“You don’t need to do anything,” she said. “You don’t need to sign anything or contact the IRS. If you complete your taxes, you get this relief automatically.”
Under the expanded child tax credit, families with children under the age of six receive $300 a month. For children between the ages of 6 and 17, families receive $250 per month.
Couples filing jointly who earn below $150,000 annually are eligible for the tax credit. Single parents who file as head of household and earn less than $112,500 annually are also eligible.
While celebrating the expanded program, Velazquez also acknowledged the political turmoil and gridlock that has overtaken Washington.
“By the way, not a single Republican voted for the American Rescue Plan, but they are reaping the benefits of this program,” Velazquez said.
“Even as the economy continues its recovery from the pandemic, millions of renters continue to face tremendous debt,” she added. “While this [the child tax credit] is certainly a milestone and relief after a long year and a half, I know a lot of questions still remain about how to progress in this new normal.”

Half-Full or Empty?

Let’s get this out of the way right now, the Mets had a terrible weekend.
They lost two out of three games to a dismal Pirates team, and if not for a ninth inning comeback on Sunday, it would have been three straight.
The Mets played poorly, their closer Edwin Diaz can’t get anybody out, and the kicker? Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor landed on the injured list.
What a way to start the second half!
Right out of the gate, the resiliency that has been a hallmark of the 2021 squad is being put to the test.
I’ve wondered something about this team all year. Are the Mets simply a product of a mediocre division, or are the Mets a much more talented and better team than the record would indicate?
I think it’s a combination of both.
There is no question that the Mets have taken advantage of the mediocrity of the National League East. It’s a division that has been far worse than anyone could have possibly imagined going into the start of the season.
However, it doesn’t mean you apologize for being in first place.
On the flip side, I do believe that the Mets can reach a much higher level of play. Offensively, they’ve come nowhere close to realizing their peak potential.
I’ve been encouraged by the quality at-bats of Michael Conforto and Dom Smith, and expect both to have quality second halves.
I also expect this new ownership group to go the extra mile trying to improve the ball club at the July 31st trade deadline.
Will the Mets add a starter, a bat or both? That remains to be seen, however I would be very surprised if the team decided to stay idle.
The Mets depth will once again be tested in the absence of deGrom and Lindor, and they have allowed some of the other teams in the division to hang around, but there’s still some good news.
The hallmark of the 2021 Mets is resilience. After Saturday’s bullpen meltdown, the Mets rallied offensively in a big way on both Sunday and Monday.
The Mets have a lot of fight in them. It’s commendable, and they’ll need it throughout the second half.

You can listen to my podcast “New York, New York” on the Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify and Apple Podcasts every Sunday Night, Wednesday & Friday early mornings.

Who’s mayor of NYC? Depends on who you ask

At this rate, why even waste the money holding a general election this November to decide who will be the next mayor of New York City?
Eric Adams was finally declared the winner of the Democratic Primary in the first citywide test of ranked-choice voting, edging out fellow candidates Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley. There was also a Republican Primary this year, which Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa won.
He’ll face off against Adams this November, although you wouldn’t know it by the way Adams is acting.
Adams has been taking a victory lap since he was declared the winner and, if we’re being honest, Sliwa has almost no shot at defeating Adams in the general election. That said, Adams is acting more like the next mayor of New York City than a candidate who still has an election to win later this year.
Heck, Adams isn’t even acting like the next mayor of New York City, he’s acting like THE mayor of New York City.
At the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s annual dinner at Giando on the Water in Williamsburg, Adams boldly declared “I am the mayor” as the actual mayor, Bill de Blasio, stood behind him with an uncomfortable smile frozen on his face.
Adams was greeted by a call-and-response chant of “The champ is here!” led by the party chair, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn.
In case you missed it, we figured we would borrow (steal?) from the Post and quote verbatim a mayoral spokesperson on the incident, because it was a pretty funny response.
“Damn. Now it’s official, I guess,” the spokesperson said. “Everyone knows that you officially assume office if you declare you’re the mayor within 10 feet of the current mayor. How do you think [late Mayor] Abe Beame got the job?”
That’s some sarcasm we can appreciate!
All of this is probably bringing Governor Andrew Cuomo a little bit of joy even after he was interviewed this past weekend by the Attorney General’s office on allegation he made unwanted sexual advances to several staffers over the years.
Cuomo and de Blasio have been locked in a long-standing feud for years, especially on the governor’s side, who never seems to miss an opportunity to attack or undermine the mayor. Some might say his preoccupation with sticking it to de Blasio sometimes comes at the expense of the general welfare of the residents of New York City.
Earlier in the same day as Adams’ declaration, Cuomo appeared at an event with Adams and declared him the next mayor of New York City and said he was very excited to work the Democratic Primary winner, something he has never said about de Blasio since he was named the Democratic nominee in 2013, when he did say he was excited to work with him.
That relationship deteriorated quickly, so we’ll see how long the love fest between Adams and Cuomo lasts after the January 1st inauguration.
And it’s not just local politicians who are ready to accept Adams as the 110th mayor of the Big Apple. Shortly after his victory was official, President Joe Biden, no less, invited Adams to the White House to discuss the rise in gun violence. We’re guessing Sliwa didn’t get the same consideration.

Heck, the current mayor of New York City, who still has six months left in office, wasn’t even invited to the Capitol pow-wow.
Speaking of the radio show host, all of this praise and attention for Adams is not sitting well with Sliwa. Sliwa said Adams is acting like a “dictator” and brought up the fact that he narrowly defeated Garcia in the primary, which he presumably believes improves his chances come November.
We don’t suppose Adams is going to pay much attention to Sliwa, and presumably will not agree to many debates, if any. If he does, it should be much-watch TV, as Sliwa will have to take every chance he gets to attack Adams.
Sliwa probably won’t be the next mayor, but maybe this campaign will help him boost his ratings!

Help America Compete in Digital World

Even as Democrats and Republicans continue their negotiations, there is one aspect of infrastructure that still continues to enjoy broad support – and it also happens to be the most important part of the plan: billions of dollars in broadband infrastructure.
This investment would ensure every single American has access to high-speed internet. For the sake of our country’s economic well-being, leaders in Washington must make broadband expansion a priority. Doing so will change millions of lives for the better.
Expanding internet may feel secondary to funding improvements for roads, bridges, and highways. But as the pandemic made clear, internet is essential for nearly every aspect of daily life. Our economy simply cannot run without it.
But we’re lagging behind other countries when it comes to internet access. Around 23 percent of Americans lack a high-speed internet connection.
Among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, a club of developed nations, the United States ranks 15 out of 37 in fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.
Even if Americans do have broadband lines in their areas, the connection may be spotty or non-existent.
According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, poorer neighborhoods have internet speeds 40 percent slower than those in high-income neighborhoods. In rural counties, 65 percent of households connect to the internet, compared to 78 percent of households nationwide.
Americans of all ages miss out on opportunities when they don’t have adequate broadband connections.
Even before schools closed for in-person instruction, a third of K-12 students didn’t have a strong internet connection, a digital device, or both. Without internet, many students cannot complete basic assignments.
And they’re missing out on important skills needed in the modern workforce. Between 2002 and 2016, the need for digital skills increased by 95 percent for workers in all occupations and cities.
Today, 70 percent say they can’t do their job without an internet connection at home. Experts speaking at the World Economic Forum last year estimated that by 2030, nine in ten jobs will need digital skills.
Universal broadband would help close the digital divide between rich and poor Americans while keeping America competitive internationally.
For example, broadband investment will help the Americans employed in the agricultural sector. As of 2019, a quarter of farmers did not have access to the internet, even though up-to-date information about the weather, the economy, and USDA reports is vital to a farm’s success.
According to a report from the Breakthrough Institute, expanding rural broadband would allow farmers to adopt new technologies that could lead to a 60 to 70 percent increase in corn yields and generate up to $65 billion in economic revenue annually.
A new Brookings Institution report further underscores the benefits of expanded broadband. It concluded that increased internet usage is “associated with higher incomes, lower poverty rates, and higher levels of education.”
That’s not surprising. Reliable internet grants workers access to thousands of job postings, educational resources, and other networking opportunities. It provides business owners working from home with a gateway into e-commerce, which accounts for 14 percent of national retail sales.
None of that can happen without investment into new broadband infrastructure. As Democrats and Republicans work toward a deal on infrastructure, they need to make sure that they close the digital divide and ensure all Americans can participate and thrive in the 21st century economy.

Kip Eideberg is the senior vice president of Government and Industry Relations at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Sore winner

Dear Editor,
Donovan Richards’ crude tweet after his apparent primary election victory makes him a sore winner. By insulting opponent Elizabeth Crowley, he played the race card and dealt it from the bottom
of the deck.
Richards attacked Crowley partly because she opposes defunding the police, a measure that he supports. Like many woke warriors, he views public safety efforts as racist, even though most violent crime victims are people of color.
Richards owes an apology to Crowley and all Queens residents, even those who voted for him. We deserve a class act, not a crass act, in Borough Hall.
Richard Reif
Kew Gardens Hills

Biden’s undoing

Dear Editor,
Republicans want Democrats to name one thing President Joe Biden has done to help the American people. Well, the first thing Biden had to do was to undo the damage Donald Trump did, weather it’s the decimation of the EPA or the sabotage of Obamacare.
However, Republicans are quite correct that there are many things Biden has not done. He hasn’t “fallen in love” with Kim Jong Un, nor has he called Nazi white supremacists “good people.”
Robert LaRosa, Sr.

Two kinds of riots

Dear Editor,
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s commission to investigate the January 6th Capitol riots merits consideration if the scope is expanding to include other violent protests that occurred around the nation as well.
What about Antifa and the nightly demonstrations that frequently turned into chaos in Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland and other major cities after the unfortunate shooting and death of George Floyd?
Taxpayers were stuck with the bill to clean up afterwards. Many minority-owned businesses in these communities were destroyed and will never reopen. How many thousands of jobs have been permanently lost as a result of this anarchy?
Larry Penner
Great Neck

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