New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today encouraged swimming pool owners to participate in DEC’s annual Asian Longhorned Beetle Swimming Pool Survey. During late summer, Asian longhorned beetles (ALB) emerge as adults and are active outside of their host tree. The goal of the survey is to locate infestations of these invasive pests before they cause serious damage to the State’s forests and street trees.
ALB are wood-boring beetles native to Asia that were accidentally introduced to the United States through wood-packing materials. These pests attack a variety of hardwoods, including maples, birches, and willows, among others, and have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of trees across the country. The State Department of Agriculture and Markets has worked diligently to manage ALB infestations in New York, successfully eradicating them from Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, Islip, and Queens. The beetle is still actively managed in central Long Island, and there are active infestations in Massachusetts, Ohio, and South Carolina.
When our nation was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity and hunger skyrocketed drastically. The Bronx was especially hard-hit, as even prior to the pandemic, the South Bronx had the highest rate of food insecurity in the country and the Bronx had the highest unemployment rate in the state. COVID-19 resulted in hunger increasing dramatically in our district, with 1 in 5 Bronxites suffering from food insecurity. Along with COVID-19, food insecurity became its own pandemic.
Throughout 2020, my office distributed over 100K meals to families in need. We are continuing to work with food distributors in the community to distribute food, especially fresh produce that is often inaccessible in the Bronx. However, we cannot depend on emergency food assistance in the long-term and must maximize investment in nutritional programs at every level of government. This is why I am committed to passing my Healthy Foods Procurement bill, which will require nutritious and locally grown food to be served in all schools and state-supported facilities, expanding access to healthy foods and bringing us one step closer to eradicating food insecurity in our communities.
Good health is a fundamental human right, not a privilege – and that starts with access to food. To live up to these values, we must ensure nutritious, affordable food is accessible to all New Yorkers, regardless of their race or income. We can no longer put bandaids on everything, but rather we must address the root causes of these problems and enact long-standing solutions. I look forward to working alongside the Bronx community to combat food insecurity.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi
84,495 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours
MTA Pop-Up Vaccination Sites Have Now Administered More Than 30,000 Shots
3 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combatting COVID-19.
The Governor also announced that pop-up vaccination sites at MTA station stops have now administered 30,017 shots since the program began. Sites are still open at Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal.
|Rendering of a 'Building A' at Wakefield Village (Newman Architects)|
View of Wakefield Village Project Site
Here I am yesterday sitting at Orchard Beach in the Bronx winding up my City Hall in the Bronx week. I got to play a little volleyball with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and he went all out in the game. His team won as my team just couldn't get to the ball, let alone put it over the net.
My advice to incoming Mayor Eric Adams is to put Diaz Jr, in a very high level position in your administration. He is a good person to have around. I only wish that I could of had Ruben in my administration, then maybe I would have done thing a lot better. So Eric don't pass up our friend Ruben Diaz Jr., he will make a fine 1st Deputy Mayor.
Chukwuemeka Okparaeke Netted Millions by Distributing Kilograms of Fentanyl Analogues and Synthetic Opioids Through a Darknet Marketplace and the United States Mail, Completing Over 7,000 Sales
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CHUKWUEMEKA OKPARAEKE, a/k/a “Emeka,” was sentenced today to 180 months in prison for importing and trafficking fentanyl analogues and other synthetic opioids through the dark web. OKPARAEKE previously pled guilty to distributing U-47700, a controlled substance analogue of AH-7921; importing 100 grams and more of acryl fentanyl, a controlled substance analogue of fentanyl, from Hong Kong; and making false statements to the Government regarding the proceeds of his offenses. Through his guilty plea, OKPARAEKE admitted that in November 2016, he sold U-47700 to an 18-year-old individual (the “Victim”), who died from an overdose after using the drug. OKPARAEKE further admitted that his narcotics offenses involved over 9 kilograms of acryl fentanyl, nearly 6 kilograms of U-47700, over a kilogram of furanyl fentanyl, as well as 12 grams of 4-ANPP. OKPARAEKE was sentenced in White Plains federal court by U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román, who previously accepted OKPARAEKE’s guilty plea.
A Pizza Hut in the Bronx and a McDonald’s in Brooklyn must pay a total $221,356 in restitution to 135 workers for violating the Fair Workweek Law
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Acting Commissioner Sandra Abeles today announced settlement agreements with two fast food franchisees, a Pizza Hut in the Bronx and a McDonald’s in Brooklyn, to resolve violations of the NYC Fair Workweek Law on behalf of their workers. The settlements require the companies to pay a total of $221,356 in restitution to 135 workers, $17,043 in civil penalties, and to comply with the Law going forward.
“Working people are the backbone of our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Sick leave, predictable schedules and paychecks—these are rights, not privileges, for fast food workers. I applaud DCWP for getting New Yorkers the money they deserve.”
“Too often, fast food workers’ lives are disrupted by last minute changes to their schedules and pay, making it difficult to live a decent, stable living,” said DCWP Acting Commissioner Sandra Abeles. “I want to remind all fast food workers that unpredictable schedules is illegal under the Fair Workweek Law and any employer that retaliates against its employees for exercising their rights will not be tolerated. We thank the workers for bravely coming forward to report these violations.”
“When I complained to my job about my workplace rights being violated, I was fired and eventually became homeless because I was suddenly left with no income,” said Tanairi Reyes, former Pizza Hut worker. “No one should have to risk losing their job in order to have a predictable schedule and paycheck. I’m very happy about the settlement and it is nice to know that the City has our backs.”
DCWP’s investigations revealed that that these fast food franchisees violated the law by failing to provide schedules to employees two weeks in advance, failing to get written consent from employees when adding time to their schedules or when requiring them to work two shifts over two days when there are less than 11 hours between shifts (a “clopening”), failing to pay employees the required premiums for clopening shifts or when schedules were changed, failing to offer available shifts to current employees before hiring new employees, and failing to provide updated written good faith estimates. The investigation also uncovered that Pizza Hut retaliated against an employee who exercised her rights by reducing her hours and then terminating her. In addition to Fair Workweek violations, DCWP found Paid Safe and Sick leave violations at Pizza Hut, including failure to allow use of sick leave and non-compliant safe and sick leave policies.
o Pay $90,371 in restitution to 64 workers and $8,028 in civil penalties. One worker who was retaliated against for exercising her rights will receive $27,471 of that restitution.
· McDonald’s (180 Parkside Avenue, Brooklyn)
o $130,985 in restitution to 71 workers and $9,015 in civil penalties.
In addition to restitution and fines, the settlements require the franchisees to comply with the Fair Workweek and Paid Safe and Sick Leave laws going forward, including adopting internal compliance policies and procedures, training managers and supervisors, displaying educational posters about the Law, conducting regular self-audits, and appointing internal compliance officers who monitor and report on compliance.
Under the Fair Workweek Law, which went into effect in November 2017, fast food employers in New York City must also give workers regular, predictable general schedules, two weeks’ advance notice of their work schedules covering specific dates, premium pay of between $10-$75 for schedule changes, and the opportunity to work newly available shifts before hiring new workers. Fast food employers also cannot schedule workers for a morning shift the day after a night shift unless workers consent in writing and are paid a $100 premium to work the shift. Similarly, fast food employers must obtain workers’ written consent before adding any time to their work schedules with less than two weeks’ notice and may not penalize them for declining to work.
The Fair Workweek Law was also recently expanded to include “just cause”, or wrongful discharge, protections. Under the amendments, which go into effect in phases, fast food employers cannot fire or lay off workers or reduce their hours by more than 15 percent without just cause or a legitimate economic reason.
DCWP’s cases were handled by Investigator Ryan McGuire and Supervising Investigator Juana Abreu, under the supervision of Director of Investigations Elizabeth Wagoner of DCWP’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards, which is led by Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Holt.
Under the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, employers with five or more employees and employers of domestic workers who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid safe and sick leave to employees. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave and employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid leave. Safe and sick leave is accrued at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per calendar year, and begins on the employee’s first day of employment. For employers who do not front-load safe and sick leave on the first day of a new calendar year, employees must be able to carry over up to 40 hours of unused safe and sick leave from one calendar year to the new calendar year. For more information about the Law, including the new Notice of Employee Rights in multiple languages, visit nyc.gov/workers.
Speed Awareness Week to Run July 31 to August 8
Speed Related Fatal Crashes Increase 36 Percent in 2020
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State Police and local law enforcement will be increasing patrols to target speeding from July 31 to August 8. According to preliminary data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research at the University at Albany's Rockefeller College, unsafe speed was a contributing factor in 314 fatal crashes in 2020, compared to 230 fatal crashes in 2019 - a 36 percent increase. The 314 fatal crashes last year resulted in 365 deaths including drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
"Our message is simple: slow down and drive responsibly," Governor Cuomo said. "Too often, speeding leads to avoidable and deadly consequences, and it won't be tolerated. Trying to get to your destination quicker is not worth putting yourself, your passengers, and all those sharing the road in danger."
This high-visibility enforcement campaign is supported by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, or GTSC, to stop speeding and prevent avoidable crashes caused by unsafe speed. During last year's Speed Awareness Week, law enforcement throughout the state issued 21,428 tickets for speeding and 30,273 tickets for other vehicle and traffic law violations, such as impaired and distracted driving.
Throughout the enforcement campaign, a "No Excuses" public service announcement will be airing on broadcast and cable networks statewide, highlighting the penalty for speeding. Additionally, the State Department of Transportation will have Variable Message Signs alerting motorists to the dangers of speeding.
Data shows fatal crashes in New York caused by unsafe speed increase during the summer months with the highest totals in June through October. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speed was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities nationally in 2019. Additionally, NHTSA says speeding causes:
Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "Speeding is an all-too-common practice on our roads, and what drivers often forget is how dangerous it is and how much it puts everyone at risk. Shaving a few minutes off your commute or your trip is not worth a lifetime of guilt and regret from a speeding-related tragedy. By reminding motorists of the risks and the consequences that come with speeding, we hope drivers will think twice before stepping on the gas."
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, "Studies have shown - speeding kills. During this campaign, and year-round, we will work to reduce this kind of dangerous driving. We want drivers to slow down, put the electronic devices away and pay attention out on our roads. Attentive, responsible, defensive driving is the key to avoiding crashes and keeping our roads and highways safe for all that travel them."
Maulabaksh Gorgeech and Niamatullah Gorgeech Are Charged with Attempting to Send
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne Milgram, Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today the extradition of Maulabaksh Gorgeech and Niamatullah Gorgeech for attempting to import heroin into the United States. The defendants, both citizens of Pakistan, were taken into custody by Thai authorities in Bangkok, Thailand, on April 11, 2021, and extradited to the United States today from Thailand. They will be presented before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn later today.