Brooklyn Heights Blog » Government Dispatches from America's first suburb Sun, 22 May 2022 04:16:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 City Council Redistricting Training Session on Zoom Tuesday Evening Sun, 22 May 2022 04:16:06 +0000

There’s been a lot of press coverage lately about Congressional and State Senate redistricting, but work is getting underway on redrawing City Council districts. Brooklyn Heights is presently included in District 33, represented by Lincoln Restler (photo). There’s a map of the district on Council Member Restler’s website. It’s an odd looking district, indeed. The word “gerrymander” was first applied to a congressional district that looked like a salamander. District 33 appears to have a bird’s head, a long thin neck, and a grotesque four legged body with spines on its back. It has had this shape for some years.

Word is that District 33 may be in line for downsizing because census data show its population has increased. One possibility would be to cut off its northern part, which includes Greenpoint, where Mr. Restler, who grew up in Brooklyn Heights, now lives, and include that in a different district. There’s still plenty of opportunity for citizens to be involved in the redistricting process. The Brooklyn Heights Association, in partnership with the Citizens Union Foundation, will present on Zoom this Tuesday evening, May 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 a “training session that will explain how all of us can be involved in the New York City Council redistricting process.” If you want to attend please RSVP to and you will be sent a Zoom link on Tuesday.

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City’s Department of Environmental Protection Considers Loosening Rule on Vehicles Idling Wed, 09 Mar 2022 03:45:15 +0000 Streetsblog reports that the NYC Department of Environmental Protection is considering amending its rule governing the idling of vehicles on city streets, which is a source of airborne pollution here in Brooklyn Heights as well as throughout the city. The proposed change, which is championed by Spectrum, would broaden the exemptions to the three minute idling rule, which now apply only to vehicles like cement mixers or refrigerated food trucks, to include “other auxiliary equipment other than a heater or air conditioner; or a system designed to control the environment of temperature-sensitive cargo or substances, including but not limited to food.” (Emphasis added.)

Opponents of the change argue that this language is broad enough to allow almost any exemption, including drivers who want to charge their laptops or keep their sushi chilled. Spectrum argues that its drivers need electronic equipment to perform their duties, and that such equipment needs to be “continually charged.” Opponents point out that Spectrum could, at reasonable expense, equip its trucks with batteries to keep the equipment charged.

On Sunday, Streetsblog published a strong argument against the proposed loosening of the idling rules by Dr. Patrick Schnell, a “board certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics” and a former Chief Resident in pediatrics at Long Island College Hospital (remember that?). He concludes his argument with:

It is


time for the New York City DEP to live up to its name and to be an ambassador for New Yorkers, not for companies trying to maximize their short term profits by harming New Yorkers’ health and wellbeing. (Emphasis in original.)

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Adams Cuts Composting Funding, Citing “Low Participation” Mon, 21 Feb 2022 03:01:20 +0000 Gothamist reports that Mayor Eric Adams has cut money slated for expansion of the composting program from the City’s budget. He said this would save about $27.5 million over the next two years, claiming that “low participation does not justify the expense.” He described the present program as “broken” and said he would study how other cities have done better. Gothamist quotes the Sanitation Department as saying pick ups of organic waste will continue “at buildings that have opted to receive the service.”

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Open Letter To An Anti-Vaxxer Sat, 08 Jan 2022 23:56:21 +0000

On Tuesday, a flyer titled “The Replacement Game,” was taped to a lamppost directly in front of my building. There’s no sugarcoating it. The message was racist, homo/transphobic, and Anti-Semitic. The “designer” relies on a smug false equivalency to plead their case, portraying anger toward anti-vaxxers as bullying and akin to discrimination against the Black, LGBTQ+, and Jewish communities. Hashtag: NoMandates, StandUpToBullies. If you’re curious, a photo of the flyer is posted at the very end so as not to feed it extra oxygen. But, if you’ve seen it in Brooklyn Heights and/or elsewhere, drop the location(s) in the comments. 

Buckle up. This is gonna be a long one. What follows is an open letter to the individual(s) who perpetrated this act. Because hate, or in this case, hate masquerading as snarky indignance, has no place in Brooklyn Heights. Or anywhere.

The opinions expressed here are mine alone. They do not represent or reflect those of the Brooklyn Heights Blog.


False Equivalency #1: Refusing to get vaccinated or to follow mask mandates is a choice. Being Black, LGBTQ+, or Jewish (unless you’ve converted) is NOT. The bigotry, defensiveness, selfishness, willfully ignorant, and deeply entrenched anti-vax ideals illustrated in your flyer are anathemas to me. Newsflash: You’re not being bullied. People are PISSED at the stubbornly unvaxxed. Not people who can’t get vaxxed, just the ones who flat-out refuse. Sorry, not sorry.

As reported by WPIX 11, on Tuesday alone NYC had 53,276 new cases of Covid, and 10,411 had been hospitalized. Those numbers are higher than the same day during last winter’s surge. And that’s the problem. We are STILL dealing with Covid two years later. What did you hope to accomplish with this? Your message is not provocative, clever, or effective. It’s an 8 1/2 x 11 temper tantrum. I feel ZERO empathy for your “plight.”  But getting angry at you is bad for my mental health. So I chose to write a PSA instead. 

PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR ON TOP, #GETVAXXED, #WEARAMASK  (KF94 or KN95’s, and keep your nose covered at all times, please)  

1. THE GREATER GOOD: It’s not about your feelings. Feelings are not facts. There should be zero debate about this. It’s called Public Health policy for a reason. Feelings are not logical. Science is. And Public Health is not political or partisan. Complying with CDC guidelines, getting vaccinated, and being boosted is not only about protecting oneself. These measures protect everyone around you, and everyone around them, and so on and so on. Think of it like ripples on a pond. This is how one participates in polite society. We are supposed to take care of the most vulnerable among us. No matter our race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, class or creed.

False Equivalency #2: When anti-vaxxers co-opt the Pro-Choice clarion call, “My Body, My Choice,” it is equally as deserving of the public’s ire as the “arguments” on your flyer. By definition, Public Health is not about any single individual’s rights. Yes, you have a right to do with your body as you choose. Just as women, for now, have the right to decide when and if they want to carry a child. And just as denying women access to medical care creates a cascading public health crisis, so does remaining unvaccinated. You do NOT have the right to put other people at risk and/or get them sick by remaining unvaccinated.

2. VACCINES WORK: When enough people get vaccinated we reach a tipping point of protection called herd immunity. Herd immunity prevents us from infecting those who cannot be vaccinated-the elderly, very young, and those who have pre-existing conditions or are immuno-compromised. Without herd immunity, viruses continue to mutate-it’s literally their job. And the unvaccinated become walking, talking biological weapons by carrying a full-strength version of the virus to people who have very few defenses against it. The longer we go without herd immunity, the more strains emerge and the longer it will take to get Covid under control. Case in point, in recent years several large-scale Measles outbreaks occurred in NYC because these particular communities were overwhelmingly and willfully unvaccinated.

First came Delta and now with Omicron, Covid has mutated faster than we could develop a revised vaccine. Omicron is SO contagious, the fully vaccinated and boosted are now faced with breakthrough infections. Yet another reason vaccinated people are PISSED. It’s the same concept for why we are told to finish a course of antibiotics. If we only partially knock out the bacteria, it has a chance to bounce back, mutate and become drug-resistant. Hello MRSA, I’m looking at you!

Truly, madly, deeply, double pinky swears, I swear on my life, my child’s life, vaccines work! There hasn’t been a case of Smallpox or Polio in the US since 1979 and 1980, respectively. They have been eradicated through the use of vaccines. The specter of Ebola is also largely under control because of the vaccine introduced in 2003. Vaccines work! It shouldn’t be so hard for me to help you understand this. Yet another reason the public is PISSED.

3. SCIENCE PROGRESSES & SOCIETY ADAPTS: Every day there are new threats to our existence, both biological and man-made. Fortunately, we make scientific discoveries and technological advances to counter-balance them. New drugs and treatments are formulated. We adopt new methodologies, and ideologies. And, we also pass new laws and update legislation already on the books to curtail dangerous behaviors or ban toxic substances or products. Because laws take a long time to pass, in emergency situations like Covid, mandates are necessary to protect the public because time is of the essence.

To wit, cigarettes were previously advertised as “healthy.” Now we understand they cause cancer so it’s illegal to smoke in public spaces. We can’t drive drunk, distracted, or otherwise impaired. Infants, toddlers, and small children ride in car seats. Adults wear seat belts. WHY? Because science, statistics, and data overwhelmingly demonstrate taking these measures saves lives. And again, it’s to protect public health. It’s not ok to drive drunk, plow down a pedestrian, or smash into another car. But if you do, your seatbelt will likely save your life. And, if you survive the accident, there would be legal consequences.   

Vaccinations, masks, et. al. are no different. For decades and with very few exceptions, before a child can walk through the door of a public or private school in the United States they are required either by law or the institution itself to be vaccinated against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR), Whooping Cough, Diphtheria and Tetanus (DipTet), Tuberculosis, and likely more. In our lifetime, additional vaccines for Flu, Meningitis, HPV, Chicken Pox, and Shingles have been developed. Covid is just the latest threat.

The virus changes quickly. So until we can formulate new versions (just as we have the different flu shots each year to address new or dominant strains) we must get two doses and a booster of whatever is available. 

4. VACCINES ARE SAFE: The good news is, the current vaccines have worked well enough to prevent fully vaccinated and boosted individuals from being hospitalized or dying. And, not only are their symptoms less severe, they may resolve more quickly. But that does NOT mean it’s advised or safe for a person to remain unvaccinated or under-vaccinated. Ninety percent of hospitalizations are among under or unvaccinated patients.

Craig Spencer, MD is the Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at Columbia, Twitter sensation, and an Ebola survivor. He gave Channel 4 news a full breakdown of symptoms attributed to each level of vaccination. Bottom line, the fewer doses you receive, the more severe your illness, making it exponentially more likely you will be hospitalized, intubated, will experience long-haul symptoms, or die.

Equally important to understand, Covid vaccines are not experimental. Pfizer+BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines utilize Messenger RNA (mRNA), a delivery system used since the 1970s. So do Flu, Zika & Rabies. Like the Ebola vaccine, J&J’s is a viral vector vaccine, also time-tested since the ’70s. Furthermore, millions and millions of people have been vaccinated against Covid globally in the past year. That is a living, breathing, ever-expanding wealth of real-time scientific data from multiple sources. This alone demonstrates Covid vaccines are safe.

5. VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM: The British “doctor” who perpetrated the dangerous and egregious lie of “vaccine injury” had his medical license revoked for misconduct in 2010 by the  UK’s General Medical Council. Do some folks have adverse or allergic reactions to vaccines. Absolutely. There are always outliers. But we hear about them 2nd, 3rd, and 4th hand through a big game of telephone. Meaning, your best friend’s sister-in-law’s cousin’s UPS guy is not the most reliable source. So, sorry Jenny McCarthy, once and for all, vaccines do NOT cause Autism!

So how does misinformation take such a strong, stubborn foothold among otherwise intelligent people? The 2020 book, “The Doctor Who Fooled the World: Andrew Wakefield’s War on Vaccines” traces how a “privileged man with charisma and big ideas” employed “apples-with-brussels-sprouts comparison” in his studies. (There are those pesky false equivalencies again.) The pressure of desperate parents seeking cures for their childrens’ afflictions created urgency. But multiple conflicts of interest among his benefactors, some of them anti-vax politicians or industrialists propelled Wakefield to publish faulty studies. He drank his own Kool-Ade. He wanted to cash in. Sound familiar? Hydroxychloroquine anyone?

6. THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY: Each Covid variant behaves differently. So yes, the messaging from Government health agencies has been ever-changing and confusing at times. As reported by The Hill, CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky admitted this on Face the Nation. Yes, there are communities that (in my opinion) are rightfully vaccine-hesitant. They don’t trust Medicine or Big Pharma because of institutional racism. And, yes Big Pharma is greedy. Newsflash #2: Water is wet.

I assure you though, there is no scientist alive who is in it for the money. It takes 12- 14 years to earn a Ph.D. Being a Bench Scientist for the Pharmaceutical industry requires hours and hours of meticulous experimentation carried out in obscurity. It is not sexy, nor will it make anyone a millionaire or famous. The bottom line is scientists who conduct medical and pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) are brilliant individuals who want to save lives.

Hopefully, this missive is more effective than say, me launching a pro-vax guerilla counter-marketing campaign. Some might ask, “Why even bother?”  Truth be told, I’m exhausted. I shouldn’t have to work this hard to motivate someone to get their Fauci Ouchies. (It doesn’t hurt by the way). It’s our civic duty to get vaccinated. That should be enough. And true, I may not get through to you, dear Replacement Gamer. But if ONE person has a change of heart my efforts here will have been worth it. But just in case I haven’t broadened any horizons, perhaps some of the most recent news coverage will move the needle.

CNN: Mild Covid Doesn’t Always Fell That Way

AP News: Hospitalizations Skyrocket In Kids Too Young for Shots

New York Times: More Patients, Fewer Workers: Omicron Pushes New York Hospitals to the Brink

NPR: Intimate Portraits of a COVID Unit from a Photojournalist-Turned Nurse

So please, for the love of all things holy, be a good citizen, just get vaccinated. Get boosted. And social distance, wear KF94 or KN95 masks (cover your nose or it’s pointless). My December 27th post, Free Covid Testing Near Brooklyn Heights, outlines many convenient locations. LabQ Diagnostics has several testing vans stationed in the surrounding neighborhoods as well. Tests were no-cost with insurance. (And no surprise fees like CareCube.)


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State Senator Kavanagh Co-Hosting A Homeowner Assistance Virtual Town Hall TONIGHT Thu, 06 Jan 2022 17:33:31 +0000 State Senator Brian Kavanagh, along with State Senator Liz Krueger, will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting on the Homeowner Assistance Fund and what it can do for you tonight, January 6th, from 7pm to 8:30pm. You can register to attend here.

The NY Homeowner Assistance Fund is a federally-funded program to help struggling homeowners — including condo owners and co-op shareholders — who are at risk of default, foreclosure, or displacement from their homes. The program officially started on Monday, January 3rd, and 539 million dollars have been allocated to the fund, and is now taking applications.

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State Senator Kavanagh Virtual Townhall Today — Don’t Miss It! Mon, 13 Dec 2021 14:40:33 +0000

NY State Senator for Brooklyn Heights (and other nabes in District 26) Brian Kavanagh will be holding a virtual townhall meeting via Zoom tonight, Monday, December 13th, from 7pm to 8:30pm. This virtual meeting is exclusively for his Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Vinegar Hill,  Columbia Waterfront, Fulton Ferry, and DUMBO constituents. You can RSVP and send in any questions here.

The NY State Senate will be back in session on January 5th, 2022, and will be contending with such heavy issues as the pandemic that is still with us, housing issues, and fallout from the former governor Cuomo’s corruption of NY State government. State Senator Kavanagh will be watched closely this session, as he is up for re-election in 2022 and will certainly be facing primary challengers (potentially, as of today: Alana Sivin, Ilapa Sairitupac, and Vittoria Fariello). So make sure you ask him some tough questions!

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Could Infrastructure Funds Mean No More BQE? Fri, 12 Nov 2021 03:27:43 +0000

As Streetsblog reports, that’s what Carlo Scissura, former head of the Mayor’s panel that considered options for repairing or replacing the crumbling Brooklyn Queens Expressway and that, to the relief of many Brooklyn Heights residents, killed the Department of Transportation’s proposal to repair the cantilevered portion below the Heights while replacing it with a “temporary” six lane highway occupying the site of the Promenade, has now suggested. According to Streetsblog:

“This highway stinks; it’s decrepit, and it has destroyed many communities,” Scissura told business leaders at a Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce breakfast. “I am saying, get rid of it, start from scratch!”

What options might be available? A tunnel has, as we’ve noted here before, serious engineering problems, including the difficulty of providing access for traffic to and from the Brooklyn Bridge. Also, tunnel construction could have serious adverse affects on quality of life in the Heights and other nearby neighborhoods. Another suggestion is to replace it with a boulevard – a surface level multi lane street with traffic lights at intersections, as was done when the elevated West Side Highway in Manhattan was demolished. This raises the question of where such a boulevard could be sited, and the answer to that, wherever it may be, is likely to arouse much community opposition based on pedestrian safety and emissions issues arising from increased traffic.

The question of demolishing the existing cantilevered portion of the BQE also raises questions. From a Heights perspective, how will it affect the Promenade, which is part of the cantilevered structure? Because that structure as a whole is deteriorating, it will be necessary to shore up the Promenade by one means or another. One possibility is to go ahead with repairing the whole cantilevered structure, but to replace the existing roadways with something else, like gardens.

Despite all these issues, I’m glad that the availability of funds for infrastructure has opened the possibility of “rethinking” the BQE.

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PSA: Vote in Election 2021! Tue, 02 Nov 2021 16:07:47 +0000 Reminder: Today is Election Day for 2021, don’t forget to vote! Polls close at 9pm, but vote now and get it out of the way! You can look up your local poll site (as well as see who/what will be on your ballot) at Though some of it may seem like a foregone conclusion (for example, Lincoln Restler is running unopposed for City Council District 33), there are 5 statewide proposals which, if passed, will become the law of the land (of NY State). There are a number of explainers on the proposals — The City, Gothamist, ElectNYC, Bushwick Daily — so educate yourself and make an informed decision. Or flip a coin for each proposal, nobody will know!

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Our Next Council Member, Lincoln Restler Mon, 09 Aug 2021 03:03:03 +0000

Lincoln Restler easily won the primary to be the Democratic nominee for the 33rd City Council District seat presently occupied by the term limited Stephen Levin. Mr. Restler has no declared opposition in the coming general election so, failing a successful write-in campaign, he will be our next City Council member. He grew up in Brooklyn Heights, and his parents still live here, but he has lived in Greenpoint for over ten years.

If you’re wondering how the Heights and Greenpoint managed to be put in the same council district, you’d be right to conclude that it involved what must have been some very creative boundary drawing. I couldn’t find a map of the district that I could easily incorporate into this post, but there’s one on Council Member Levin’s website. As you can see, it borders the East River all the way from Newtown Creek to Atlantic Avenue, and takes in Greenpoint, part of Williamsburg, the Navy Yard, Vinegar Hill, DUMBO, the Fulton Ferry District, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, and part of Gowanus. In three places, Greenpoint/Williamsburg, the Navy Yard, and Brooklyn Heights/Boerum Hill/Downtown/Gowanus, it extends inland. In others, part of Williamsburg and DUMBO/Vinegar Hill, it is quite narrow.

Mr. Restler was recently interviewed by Emma Davey in Greenpointers. Asked about his view of the new ranked choice voting system, he said

I think that ranked choice voting encourages candidates to build broad and diverse coalitions across their district. You can’t rely on the support of just Greenpoint or just Brooklyn Heights. You gotta be able to build across disparate communities.

He was also asked how he, as one who identifies as progressive, anticipated working with a likely Adams mayoral administration. He said he would try to “work collaboratively” with the administration “where we can find common ground” but would “push back to fight for our community” where necessary. He identified some issues on which he thought there were strong possibilities for progressives working with the new administration. These include the enhancement of pedestrian space, providing more protective bike lanes, and “investing in the crisis management system” to provide “an alternative to traditional policing.”

Photo: Run For Something

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Curbside Composting to Resume in Fall Tue, 06 Jul 2021 01:05:21 +0000

Our friends at Brooklyn Community Board 2 have alerted us to the announcement by the Department of Sanitation that curbside composting will be available again this fall. If you’re interested, go to their website, where you can sign up, or ask your building management to sign up, for composting service. According to the map on the website, Brooklyn Heights is an area for which composting service is available.

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Council Candidates’ Forum Yields No Differences on Issues Crucial to Heights Tue, 08 Jun 2021 03:29:19 +0000

Despite hot and humid weather, a sizeable crowd gathered in front of the War Memorial in Cadman Plaza Park for the City Council Candidates Forum on Sunday, starting at 5:00 p.m. The candidates, from left to right in the photo above, are: Elizabeth Adams, Victoria Cambranes, Sabrina Gates, Toba Petosky, Lincoln Restler, Stu Sherman, Benjamin Solotaire, and April Somboun. Three of the candidates, Ms. Gates, Mr. Potosky, and Ms. Somboun, live in Brooklyn Heights; Mr. Restler grew up in the Heights and now lives in Greenpoint.

On issues particularly important to Heights residents, all want some solution to the problem of the crumbling Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that doesn’t involve a six lane “temporary” highway in place of the Promenade. All were concerned about the effect of rising commercial rents and city bureaucracy on locally owned businesses; Ms. Gates emphasized her role as a business owner.

On citywide issues, all recognized the need for affordable housing, with Mr. Potosky emphasizing his experience as president of his Mitchell-Lama co-op in the Cadman Towers, and Ms. Sonboun speaking of her experience coming to New York as the child of a refugee Laotian single mother and living in public housing. Mr. Restler stressed the need to make developers more responsive to community needs. On the issue of “defunding” the police, all agreed that the NYPD is now tasked with duties, including responding to mental health crises and traffic control, that should be the responsibilities of mental health professionals and the Department of Transportation, respectively.,

The proceedings were, as a whole, marked by civility and respect among the candidates. An exception was when Ms. Cambranes was given, as were each of the candidates, an opportunity to ask a question of one of the others. She asked Mr. Restler why his campaign had violated a pledge not to engage in negative attacks on others, saying that she had been personally attacked by his. Mr. Restler emphatically denied that he knew of any such personal attacks, said it was contrary to the principles of his campaign, and that anyone who engaged in such would be asked to leave the campaign.

Mr. Restler was then given the opportunity to ask a question of another candidate. Turning to Ms. Sonboun, he asked how she, as a mother with school age children, felt about how the re-opening of schools was being handled. She said she thought a remote learning option should be continued for now. This Tines opinion pieceagrees with her.

There’s more about the candidates in this Brooklyn Paper piece. Early voting for the primary election starts this Saturday, June 12.

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City Council Candidates Forum at Cadman Plaza Park Sunday Evening Sat, 05 Jun 2021 02:19:06 +0000

There are eight candidates running to take term limited Stephen Levin’s City Council seat for District 33, which includes Brooklyn Heights. This Sunday, June 6 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, there will be a live forum for these candidates in Cadman Plaza Memorial Park. The event is sponsored by, among others, the Brooklyn Heights Association, the Cadman Park Conservancy, North Heights Neighbors, and the Willowtown Association.

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Reminder: BHA Annual Meeting Tonight Tue, 23 Feb 2021 20:04:56 +0000

The Annual Meeting of the Brooklyn Heights Association will be held this evening by Zoom, beginning at 7:00 p.m. At least eight of the nine announced candidates for City Council from District 33, which includes Brooklyn Heights, will be present on line and available to answer questions. Incumbent Council Member Steve Levin is term limited. You do not need to be a BHA member to attend, and admission is free, but to get the Zoom link you must register here.

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Cuomo: Indoor Restaurant Dining OK Starting Friday Mon, 08 Feb 2021 19:28:40 +0000

The Daily News reports that Governor Cuomo, who previously announced that indoor dining at restaurants, subject to a 25% capacity restriction and social distancing, as well as to a 10:00 p.m. curfew, could resume on Valentine’s Day, February 14; this coming Sunday. Apparently in response to pleas from restaurant owners that they be allowed to open for the entire weekend, along with declining COVID numbers, the Governor has advanced the date for indoor dining to resume to this coming Friday, February 12.

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Brooklyn Heights Resident Hank Gutman Named City Transportation Commissioner Mon, 08 Feb 2021 03:07:40 +0000

The Eagle reports that Henry “Hank” Gutman, a long time Brooklyn Heights resident, has been named by Mayor de Blasio as the City’s new Transportation Commissioner. According to the Eagle story, Mr. Gutman has promised to create 10,000 new bike racks by the end of 2022. The Eagle quotes him:

We have an opportunity to chart a new path for this city – one that leaves Robert Moses’ vision behind, beats back COVID-19, protects our environment, and builds a fair, safe, and equitable recovery for all of us.

As many readers will recall, Mr. Gutman served on the Expert Panel appointed by Mayor de Blasio to study repair of the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights. The panel recommended against the Department of Transportation’s recommendation that a temporary six lane highway be built in place of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade while repairs are made to the cantilevered portion below.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Mr. Gutman’s appointment

has raised hopes of progress on a stalled project to replace a deteriorating interstate highway bridge that cuts through Brooklyn Heights, an affluent neighborhood in Brooklyn.

The Journal quotes former Transportation Commissioner Ross Sandler: “If he walks out his door, it’s what he sees, … I know Hank on a personal level would love to resolve the BQE issue.”

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Bill in Congress Would Limit Helicopter Noise Wed, 03 Feb 2021 02:09:01 +0000

Those of you who have followed this blog for some time know that the issue of helicopter noise is perennial. Even if you’re new to the blog, you may know that it’s an issue for Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and other nearby neighborhoods. Just over a year ago, as we noted, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Nydia Velazquez, whose district includes Brooklyn Heights, along with Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold “Jerry” Nadler, called the “Improving Helicopter Safety Bill of 2019.” If enacted, the bill would have banned all non-essential helicopter flights over New York City.

Rep. Nadler has now, as Raanan Geberer in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle has reported, introduced a new bill, “The Safe and Quiet Skies Act.”

The bill, according to Nadler’s office, would mandate strict regulation of commercial air tour operations to address defense risks and community disruption, including no overflights of defense, parks, cemeteries, and other sensitive installations and minimum altitude maximum noise limits on all flights.

The Eagle story notes that “[w]hile the bill doesn’t specify New York City or Brooklyn, a quote from Nadler leaves little doubt about its intended target.”

The commercial air tours that buzz incessantly through New York City’s skies are not only a source of unnecessary and damaging noise and environmental pollution, they put New Yorkers and tourists in danger. After more than thirty helicopter crashes in New York City since 1980 alone, many of which been fatal, I have repeatedly called on the FAA to impose additional regulations to keep our city safe. Unfortunately, the FAA has failed to take meaningful action.

With Democrats in control of the House, Senate, and White House, this bill may stand a good chance of passage and enactment.

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Community Board 2 Executive Director Perris Resigns Thu, 24 Dec 2020 03:12:18 +0000

The Brooklyn Paper’s Kevin Duggan reports that Robert Perris, who for seventeen years has served as executive director of Brooklyn Community Board 2, which serves Brooklyn Heights and nearby communities, has announced his resignation effective December 26. According to the Brooklyn Paper story, “he wants to focus on his family after 17 years at the helm of the Downtown Brooklyn civic panel.”

CB2 board chair Lenny Singletary told the Brooklyn Paper that there will be a posting for a new executive director and a new appointment “when the time is appropriate.” Meanwhile, CB2’s remaining three permanent staffers will be in charge of administrative functions. Mr. Singletary praised Mr. Parris’s knowledge of city government and the long hours he spent guiding CB2 through virtual meetings during the COVID-19 crisis.

Rob Perris has been a good and consistent friend to Brooklyn Heights Blog, often tipping us off to upcoming items on the board’s agenda affecting our community, and providing color on local events. We wish him and his family well.

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Early Voting Hours Extended Fri, 30 Oct 2020 03:35:58 +0000

Due to massively long lines at early voting polling sites, the NYC Board of Elections has extended their hours of operation. The polls will now open at 7:00 am and stay open an hour later than originally scheduled. We posted helpful voting tips last week.  You can click HERE for a refresher.

HOT TIP: If you have an absentee ballot (one that was replaced after the mismatched envelope snafu), you can skip the line entirely by dropping it off at your early polling site.


If you do find yourself in a long line, don’t despair. Volunteers for Pizza to the Polls have been delivering pies to early voting locations all across NYC and the U.S. Actor, Paul Rudd was recently spotted handing out cookies at the Barclay’s Center as a thank you for voting. Anecdotally, despite inclement weather and long waits, New Yorkers have been waiting patiently to perform their civic duty.

New York Magazine collaborated with 48 artists to offer a new spin on the ‘I Voted’ sticker. There are four versions of the October 26th issue, each with 12 unique designs and an accompanying sticker sheet on the inside cover. (Milton Glazer, co-founder of NY Magazine and designer of iconic I Love NY logo, would be so proud.) Brooklyn Heights’ own, KAWS, is one of the featured creatives. (A retrospective of his work, KAWS: What Party, opens at the Brooklyn Museum February 12th).

Gothamist reports as of Wednesday night, nearly 600,000 people have voted in NYC. Brooklyn has the greatest number of early voters in the five boroughs. GO BROOKLYN! So, let your voice be heard then post your ‘I Voted’ selfies in the comments!

Photo Credit: NY Magazine/Barbara Kruger ‘I Voted’ sticker

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New York’s Early Voting Begins This Saturday! Fri, 23 Oct 2020 19:01:37 +0000

Huzzah! We’re in the home stretch of an arduous election. Early voting starts tomorrow Saturday, October 24th. Here are all the details to vote in person or via absentee ballot between now and November 3rd. So get out there and let your voice be heard!

  • Use to identify your early voting site and its hours (or your Election Day poll site). New York City College of Technology at 285 Jay Street is the early voting location for all of Brooklyn Heights but DOUBLE CHECK before you go.
  • Preview your ballot to reduce the time spent at the poll site.
  • NOTE: Your early voting site may differ from your normal Election Day polling site.



  • It’s not too late to apply for an absentee ballot (request it by next Tues, 10/27). Early voting sites will also accept completed, sealed absentee ballots.
  • Have you requested an absentee ballot but haven’t received it yet? Use the Board of Elections’ Absentee Tracker to check on the status of your ballot.


  • For those absentee voters who are skittish about entering an early voting poll site to drop off their ballots in the drop boxes, there’s a solution: Invisible Hands, a nonpartisan volunteer group that’s done amazing work running errands for the homebound, will pick up sealed absentee ballots from seniors and others and deposit them in the drop boxes at early voting sites. Homebound seniors (or whoever) can request a volunteer to pick up their ballot here. And if you’d like to volunteer for Invisible Hands to do ballot runs, complete the volunteer form here.
  • FYI – it is legal to gather sealed ballot envelopes on your own and deliver them to ballot drop boxes.

Information sourced from the office of Jo Anne Simon newsletter.

Photo credit: Shephard Fairey/New York Magazine

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Botched Ballots to Be Resent to Over 100,00 Brooklyn Voters Thu, 01 Oct 2020 05:20:59 +0000

If you received your absentee ballot and it’s got the wrong name on the return envelope, raise your hand. Both Gothamist and The New York Times reported a “printing error” as the cause of the literal mix-ups. As many as 100,000 absentee ballots were sent with return envelopes mismatched to the intended voter.

The vendor responsible, Phoenix Graphics, has agreed to pay the cost of reprinting and resending corrected ballots to all those affected. This informative article from The City provides more background on the vendor and its relationship with the Board of Elections.

So, what should you do?

  • Do NOT return your incorrect ballot.
  • You can still vote by mail. Your ballot should be re-sent automatically. But, you may request a new one online at, by calling 1-866-VOTE-NYC, or emailing a pdf of a required form to The deadline to request a new ballot is October 27th. You may still vote in-person even if you have requested a mail-in ballot. NOTE: Do not be alarmed if your ballot reads Military Absentee ballot. It is valid.
  • Vote early! Early voting begins on October 24th and runs through November 1st, hours vary by day.  Check HERE to find your early polling site. NOTE: It may differ from your usual location.
  • Vote on November 3rd: Find your election day polling location HERE.

DO NOT return envelopes to their rightful owners. If that person uses it to vote, the bar code next to the name on the return envelope may not match the signature, which would render their vote ineligible. Instead, throw it away. The rightful owner will receive a new ballot in the mail.

Happy voting, everyone!

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Stacey Abrams to Speak in Brooklyn Historical Society Virtual Tribute to “Women + Power” Wed, 09 Sep 2020 03:03:40 +0000

Stacey Abrams, who served as minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, and narrowly lost the gubernatorial election in 2018, will appear on Wednesday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m. in an on line discussion with Raquel Willis, director of communication for the Ms. Foundation for Women, which co-sponsors this event. Ms. Abrams and Ms. Willis will discuss

gender, race, politics and electoral equity; the changing impact of women on our democracy; how elected women leaders alter the governing game; and the struggles women face in seats of political power today.

The event is free, but please register here

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Citi Bike Stations in Brooklyn Heights to Expand Tue, 18 Aug 2020 01:29:49 +0000

The Eagle reports that the city’s Department of Transportation has plans to expand existing Citi Bike docking stations throughout Brooklyn (and the city), and to add new ones in an effort to expand availability and reach of the service. According to the list in the Eagle story, these are the Heights locations to be expanded: Columbia Heights & Cranberry Street will get 14 additional docks for a total of 37; Clark Street and Henry Street will get 12 additional for a total of 43; Montague Street and Clinton Street will get 19 additional for a total of 58; Court Street and State Street will get 9 additional for a total of 32; and Schermerhorn Street and Court Street will get 20 additional for a total of 59.

Photo: Chuck Taylor for BHB.

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Local Electeds Move Against City Parking Placard Abuse Mon, 17 Aug 2020 02:34:48 +0000

Kings County Politics reports that State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (photo) and City Council Member Stephen Levin are urging the city to enforce parking regulations, particularly with respect to abuse of city issued parking placards, in Downtown Brooklyn. As has been noted here before, this is a problem that extends into Brooklyn Heights, especially along Joralemon and Pierrepont streets.

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You’re Invited to an On-line Community Board 2 Meeting. Wed, 22 Jul 2020 02:19:33 +0000

Brooklyn Community Board 2, which serves Brooklyn Heights and nearby communities, will hold a special meeting this coming Monday, July 27, starting at 6:00 p.m. Community residents are invited to view the proceedings on line. The focus of the discussion will be “racial and social equity,” and how these issues are addressed in the context of the Board’s submission of its Statement of Community District Needs and its Community Board Budget Request for 2021, which can be seen and downloaded here. If you want to view the proceedings (only Board members may participate in the discussion), you must register here.

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Democratic Primary Election Tuesday, June 23 Sat, 20 Jun 2020 20:46:08 +0000

If you’re a registered Democrat (there is no Republican primary election here) and haven’t already voted by mail or at an early voting site, you may vote early tomorrow (Sunday, June 21) from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at an early voting site, or at the regularly scheduled time, Tuesday, June 23 from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., at your regular polling site. There is no early voting on Monday, June 22. Find your polling site locations here.

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Simon, Kavanagh Promote Legislation to Identify, Fine Overweight Trucks Using BQE Sun, 31 May 2020 17:15:49 +0000

The Eagle’s Editorial Staff reports that Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and State Senator Brian Kavanagh

have introduced legislation to establish a pilot program that uses mobile or stationary weigh-in-motion systems to enforce restrictions on overweight trucks on the BQE in Brooklyn.

The Eagle story quotes Simon as observing that overweight trucks are a particular problem with respect to the condition of the cantilevered portion of the highway next to Brooklyn Heights.

If the bill is enacted, it would authorize the city’s Department of Transportation to enter into an agreement with its counterpart at the state level to allow the pilot program to proceed.


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Some Heights Residents Slow on Census Response Fri, 22 May 2020 03:36:27 +0000

Rob Perris, District Manager for Brooklyn Community Board 2, which includes Brooklyn Heights. has advised us that Census Tract 3.01, which is bordered by Pineapple Street on the north, Hicks Street on the east, Joralemon street on the south. and the East River on the west, to date has a census response rate of only 40-50 percent. This is well below the rate of neighboring tracts, such as the one above Pineapple; bravo, North Heights residents. Rob suggests this may be related to the flight of many Heights residents to supposedly more salubrious environs like the Hamptons, where you can get your link to the census, as can anyone else.. So, come on, Census Tract 3.01 residents, wherever you may be: go on line, as I did (although I’m right here in the Heights) and fill out your census forms. It only takes a couple of minutes.

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A MESSAGE FROM THE MONTAGUE BID Tue, 24 Mar 2020 19:00:26 +0000

“Thanks again to EVERYONE who has been sharing information and resources with us. Keep the information coming!

Here’s a list of businesses on Montague Street that are OPEN as of right now. Click the business name to go to their website. Things are changing so quickly, so be sure to check the business website and follow them on social media for up to the minute changes, menus, specials, hours, and closings.
Below the list are important updates for this week so far.
We’ll update things as we get information.

Stay well, Everyone.

BANKS and ATM Machines
Variety Mart
Cohen Optical
Pearl Vision
Haagen Dazs
Food Delivery Services:
Brooklyn Heights Laundry
Montague Cleaners
(1) Staff at New York Small Business Development Center is available to help small businesses navigate disaster loan applications and answer all questions related to the current COVID-19 situation for small businesses. Contact the Brooklyn branch by phone at 718-797-0187 or by email at
(2) The federal government has authorized the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to issue Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses impacted by COVID-19. These loans will be reviewed on a first-come-first-serve basis for eligible businesses in New York State. Click here for more information.
(3) SBA is offering assistance with loan applications online here, by phone at (800) 659-2955, or by email at Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call (800) 877-8339.
4) Information about Empire State Disaster Recovery loans and resources is available here
(5) New York State Entrepreneur Assistance Center is offering guidance and information here
(1) Credit Card Relief and Bank Information. Some banks and credit cards are offering relief from payments and interest rates. Click here to find out more.
(2) Meals for Kids. Beginning on Monday, March 23, the New York Public Schools will be distributing meals at more than 400 sites throughout the City. Click here for locations and more information.
(3) Google’s coronavirus website is up. Click here to see it and keep up to date
(4) Entertainment. Here are a few links to some free online entertainment to add some levity to your days and nights:
(1) As of today, March 22 at 8pm all businesses must close until further notice unless they are considered an essential business. Essential businesses and essential workers may continue to operate as normal unless a special restriction has been placed on them (e.g. restaurants may only provide take out and delivery. For a list of essential services and essential workers, click here
(2) Tips for Small Businesses Owners:
  • Talk to your landlord about your situation.
  • Call your insurance
  • Call your credit card company and see what they are offering
  • Keep written records of all of the above emails, calls, texts and conversations, when they happened, next steps and outcomes.
(3) Need free advice? The Brooklyn Small Business Development Center may be able to help. Click here for more information.
(4) The IRS/Treasury/Labor has announced help regarding Tax Credits and Paid Leave. It may be worth you chatting with your accountant. Click here for the website with more information.
(5) Grantspace has put together a resource page for artists and non-profits to find assistance for financial hardship. Go here and the NYFA is giving $5,000 grants to artists.
(6) The Hebrew Free Loan Society is offering interest-free loans. Click here for more information
(7) New York State’s Shared Work Program provides an alternative to laying off workers during business downturns Watch the video which explains how it works and how to apply, here’s the website
(8) NYC Small Business Services – Employee Retention Grant Program application process is now live. This program is available to New York City businesses with one to four employees that can demonstrate at least a 25% decrease in revenue as a result of COVID-19. Eligible businesses will receive a grant covering up to 40% of their payroll for two months. Businesses can access up to $27,000. For more information and to apply, click here
(9) The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans offers up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. For more information, click here
(10) Information about deferred mortgage and tax payments along with daily updates from Governor Andrew Cuomo, can be found here
(11) File for tax abatements here
(12) Information from Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York can be found here
(13) For information from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, click here
(14) Job Seekers click here to keep up to date on available resources
(15) The Montague BID Ambassadors have increased cleaning in public spaces, and are observing strict sanitary protocols such as frequent hand washing and social distancing.
(16) All events remain canceled until further notice. Follow our social media (Instagram and Facebook) for future event updates.
(17) If you have a need, an idea or something to share with the community, please reach out to us here.
(18) New York Police Department has continued normal operations and they are asking the public to call the non-emergency number 311 for any issues that are not life threatening, which will help keep the 911 line and staff available for emergencies.
(19) Stay safe and up-to-date. Follow the CDC webpage and WHO webpage and New York City’s webpage for the most up-to-date information.
(20) Need to get out for some exercise? The Parks are still open! Enjoy yourself and practice social distancing
(21) To receive text updates from the City, Text COVID to 692-692
If you or someone that you know needs personal help beyond what is mentioned above:
(1) Invisible Hands can help with groceries and prescription deliveries for vulnerable people. Visit to request assistance.
(2) If you are feeling extremely anxious, depressed or hopeless, text 741741 to be connected to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. This service is free, confidential and available 24/7. For more information, visit
Can you lend a hand?
(1) Restaurants need our help! Order takeout or delivery. Tell Congress restaurants need help. Text RECOVERY to 52886 #restaurantrecovery
(2) Shop local. Shop online. Many of our businesses are offering gift cards. Visit their websites or our Instagram feed @montaguebid to keep up to date on the latest information.
(3) Kindness. We’re all in this together.
  • Check on neighbors
  • Offer to shop for a senior in your building who may be vulnerable
  • Report price gouging to 311
  • Make eye contact and smile with people on the street while you’re social distancing — it goes a long way during times of isolation
  • If you have a doorman or maintenance person in your building, think about ordering them a meal or giving them a gift card
  • If you can, tip and thank delivery people.
(4) Invisible Hands: If you’re healthy and able to, sign up with the nonprofit to help deliver groceries, prescriptions and whatever else they may need to their doorstep. Visit them at
Special thanks to all of you who continue to support our neighboring business by purchasing gift cards, shopping online and ordering take out and delivery.
Click here to join Neil Diamond in a little Sweet Caroline handwashing song.
Stay well, stay safe and shop local.”
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City Says, Report Price Gouging Sun, 15 Mar 2020 00:02:17 +0000

We’ve received the following from Notify NYC:

If you see price increases for items in short supply due to COVID-19, report it by calling 311 or visiting

Photo: Claude Scales for BHB.

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Community Board 2 Cancels Remaining March Meetings Fri, 13 Mar 2020 16:50:17 +0000

We’ve received word that Brooklyn Community Board 2, which covers Brooklyn Heights and nearby neighborhoods, has cancelled all committee meetings scheduled for the remainder of March. The cancelled meetings are:

Parks and Recreation Committee meeting — March 16
Land Use Committee meeting — March 18
Transportation and Public Safety Committee meeting — March 19
Executive Committee meeting — March 23
Youth, Education and Cultural Affairs Committee meeting — March 25
Finance and Personnel Committee meeting — March 26

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