Saturday, December 11, 2021

22 Days and Counting


Charlene we have only three weeks left in Gracie Mansion. Have you packed all of our things up yet? You know we have to take anything that is not nailed down. Leave the photos of those mayors who came before me, especially the last two ones. 

I don't have to much more time to put off those pesky reporters, so I am going to have to tell them what my decision is about running for governor. I can wait for my last Media briefing for that. Let me enjoy the weekend now.

Bronx NP Diaz Jr. Lights His Last Bronx Borough Christmas Tree as BP

It was a cool Thursday evening at Joyce Kilmer Park opposite the Bronx Courthouse, but it would be the last Christmas Tree there that current term-limited Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. would light as the BP. A beautiful tree with over one thousand lights on it, but before there would be some entertainment thanks to LAX96.3 radio, and the NYPD La Jara band and singers. 

Lax96,3 gave out to one lucky young girl an autographed New York Giants football, and handed out dozens of Giants cups to members of the crowded audience inside the pen. Borough President Diaz Jr. came out to inform the crowd this is the last time he will be lighting the Bronx Christmas Tree as the Bronx Borough President due to term limits ending his twelve plus years as Bronx Borough President. Ruben Diaz Jr. was elected Bronx Borough President on April 21, 2009 in a special election to replace previous Bronx Borough President Carrion who took a position in the Obama Administration. 

The large crowd at Joyce Kilmer Park to see the lighting of the Bronx Christmas tree opposite the Bronx County Building.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. waits as he watches an autographed Giants football given to one lucky young girl in the audience.

On stage Bronx BP Diaz Jr. opened with his, 'Is the Bronx in the House'?

NP Diaz Jr. explains why this is his last Bronx Christmas Tree lighting, because he is term-limited out of office on January 1, 2022.

The Choir from the Celia Cruz High School performed.

Also performing up to the countdown of the tree lighting were the NYPD La Jara, a sixteen member special unit of Latin musical police officers. Their mission is to bring unity through music. 

The Bronx Christmas Tree was light, and then it was off to Santa's Workshop.

Santa's Workshop on the Concourse.

Friday, December 10, 2021




What: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) 13-member Climate Justice Working Group, established under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), will hold a meeting on Monday, Dec.13. The Climate Justice Working Group is tasked with establishing criteria for identifying disadvantaged communities for the purposes of co-pollutant reductions, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, regulatory impact statements, and the allocation of investments pursuant to the CLCPA.

During this meeting, the CJWG will be voting on the draft disadvantaged communities (DACs) definition and criteria. The meeting will be conducted by teleconference. Members of the public are welcome to listen to the meeting via webcast.

WhenMonday, Dec.13, 1 p.m. ET 

Audio: Dial 1-518-549-0500; Access code: 2331 106 3561#

Additional Information:

This meeting will also be recorded and posted on the Climate Act website within three days, or as soon as practicable.

Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigation Releases Report on Death of Mark Gaskill


 New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) today released its report on the death of Mark Gaskill of Rochester. After conducting an exhaustive investigation, OSI concluded that the actions that led to Mr. Gaskill’s death did not rise to the level of criminal conduct by officers from the Rochester Police Department (RPD). OSI’s review of the incident included footage from multiple police body-worn cameras, street surveillance videos, interviews with relevant witnesses, ballistics testing, and other forms of evidence.

In the early morning hours of May 14, 2021, members of RPD were summoned to a neighborhood in the City of Rochester following alerts of gunshot activity from ShotSpotter, an automated gunshot detection technology. Using street surveillance video, RPD was able to view and track a car leaving the scene of the gun activity in real time.

The car pulled over a few minutes later and members of RPD approached it. They spoke to Mr. Gaskill, who was in the back seat, and another passenger who said they were going to a hospital because the driver of the vehicle was unwell. An officer asked for their identification and Mr. Gaskill provided him with a false identity and date of birth. While on scene, officers received additional information indicating the car likely had been involved in the gunshot activity of a few minutes earlier, detected by ShotSpotter. Officers returned to the vehicle to speak to Mr. Gaskill. As they were attempting to open the vehicle door, the two officers allegedly saw Mr. Gaskill reach to the right side of his waistband and draw a gun with his right hand. Footage from both officers’ body-worn cameras show the officers retreating from the car and repeatedly directing Mr. Gaskill to drop the gun. While both officers continued to retreat from the vehicle, Mr. Gaskill allegedly opened the rear passenger-side door, and, as he appeared to get out of the car, the officers ordered him to show his hands, and then discharged 11 shots, striking Mr. Gaskill six times. After the shooting, a loaded semi-automatic pistol, found near Mr. Gaskill’s right hand, was recovered from the car. Firearms analysis confirmed that the gun was the same gun that fired the gunshots detected by ShotSpotter earlier that morning.

Under New York’s justification law, in order to sustain charges against the officers for causing Mr. Gaskill’s death, OSI would need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers were not justified in their use of deadly, physical force against Mr. Gaskill. In order to meet that burden, OSI would need to prove that the officers’ belief that Mr. Gaskill was about to use deadly, physical force was not reasonable or, alternatively, that the officers could have avoided using deadly, physical force by retreating with complete safety to themselves and others. In light of the facts and circumstances of this case, including but not limited to the fact that a loaded handgun was recovered from Mr. Gaskill after the shooting, OSI cannot meet that burden. 

“My office is committed to conducting fair and thorough investigations into every case we review,” said Attorney General James. “Based on an extensive review of the facts of this case, OSI determined that the officers involved were not unjustified in their use of deadly force, as the law requires for bringing criminal charges. Despite the conclusive evidence in this case, I know Mr. Gaskill’s family is still coping with the loss of a loved one, and I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Gaskill family.”

Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating COVID-19 - DECEMBER 10, 2021

 Clinical specimen testing for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) at Wadsworth Laboratory

142,265 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours    

55 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday

 Governor Kathy Hochul today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combating COVID-19.    

"As the weather gets colder and New Yorkers gather indoors with friends and family to enjoy the holiday season we must ensure that we remain vigilant and keep COVID-19 infections from moving in the wrong direction," Governor Hochul said. "The way out of this pandemic is clear — get the vaccine if you have not yet, get your second dose if you've only had one, and get the booster if you've had both. Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated and mask up and we'll be enjoying a post-pandemic New York in no time."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:  

  • Test Results Reported - 268,372
  • Total Positive - 11,203
  • Percent Positive - 4.17%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 4.78%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 3,546 (+48)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 499
  • Patients in ICU - 680 (+24)
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation - 364 (0)
  • Total Discharges - 219,296 (+420)
  • New deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 55
  • Total deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 47,015

The Health Electronic Response Data System is a NYS DOH data source that collects confirmed daily death data as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities only.  

  • Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC - 59,784

This daily COVID-19 provisional death certificate data reported by NYS DOH and NYC to the CDC includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice and other settings.  

  • Total vaccine doses administered - 31,046,551
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 142,265
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 881,917
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 86.6%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 78.9%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 92.3%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 81.4%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 75.2%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 67.6%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 79.9%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 69.5%

Morris Park Christmas Tree Lighting

It was already a dark Wednesday night when the crowd gathered outside Loreto Park to see that some construction work was going on, and to light the Annual Morris Park Christmas Tree. 

Councilman Mark Gjonaj was joined by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Santa Claus, and the Grinch that stole Christmas. Also on hand was the girls choir from St. Francis Xavier under the guidance of Ms. Phyliss Nastacio. The girls Choir' sang some Christmas Songs, as the Grinch tried to steal the Christmas spirit, but Santa saved the night from being stolen by the Grinch.

The Morris Park BID Executive Director gives children ornaments to put on the Christmas Tree. 

The Girls Choir practice singing Christmas songs.

People and children wanted their picture taken with Santa, Senator Biaggi, and the Morris Park BID Executive Director, as the Grinch tried to ruin the photo. 

L -R. Assemblywoman Fernandez, Assemblyman Benedetto, State Senator Biaggi, The Grinch, The Executive Director of the Morris Park BID, Danta, Councilman Gjonaj, and District Keader Irene Estrada.

State Senator Biaggi wishes everyone a safe and Merry Christmas, and happy holidays.

Councilman Gjonaj and Assemblyman Benedetto talk in front of the lit Christmas tree, as the Grinch hovers over them.



"Throughout the pandemic I’ve encouraged masking requirements – masks work, and they’re a simple measure we can take to protect ourselves and one another. Today’s policy is an important measure to limit the spread of the virus, particularly as people travel and gather indoors for the holidays. Vaccination screening requirements in indoor venues not only protect people in these establishments and encourage them to patronize businesses, but incentivize people to get vaccinated. They’ve worked extremely well in New York City, and the Governor should expand screening requirements statewide.

"At the same time, we know that amid the rise of Omicron and the prevalence of Delta, breakthrough cases are a real risk. I urge New Yorkers to be diligent in masking up indoors, regardless of the vaccination requirements of the venue. As we have seen, we cannot delay and risk greater harm or additional restrictions which could have been prevented and avoided. We must take the precautions now to prevent New York from again becoming the epicenter of the epicenter of a deadly surge."

Pelham Parkway Christmas Tree Lighting


It was getting colder Wednesday as darkness began to set in at the Christmas tree on Pelham Parkway off White Plains Road. Students from PS 83 were proud to show off their singing talent before the tree lighting, as they sang several Christmas songs as the crowd waited for the lights to go on. PS 83 Principal Brandon Muccino was so proud of his students who were singing as if they were on the stage at Rockefeller Center. 

Councilman Mark Gjonaj, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, and  Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez were set. Assemblywoman Fernandez thanked her fellow elected officials and had to redo her speech when she left out co-sponsor Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association as a co-sponsor. One more song from the PS 83 Glee Club and then the Pelham Parkway Christmas tree was lit. 

The students from PS 83 sang various Christmas songs while everyone waited for the Christmas tree to be lit.

There were refreshments for the crowd. Councilman Mark Gjonaj speaks to a woman who wished him well after he leaves office.

The final Christmas song before the tree was lit.

The children with their principal, and the elected officials stand before the lit Pelham Parkway Christmas Tree.

NLRB Employee Charged With Bribery And Honest Services Fraud


 Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and David P. Berry, Inspector General of the National Labor Relations Board, announced today the unsealing of a Complaint charging ANETT RODRIGUES with honest services fraud and bribery.  The charges stem from a scheme in which RODRIGUES, an employee of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), provided nonpublic NLRB documents to a co-conspirator in exchange for the regular payment of cash bribes.  RODRIGUES will be presented before United States Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison in White Plains federal court later today.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Anett Rodrigues, a trusted employee of a federal agency with access to sensitive nonpublic information, monetized her position to divulge some of that information in exchange for bribes.  Rodrigues’s alleged selling of the information provided a competitive advantage to the alleged bribe payer’s company, but it also leaves Rodrigues facing multiple felony counts.”

As alleged in the Complaint unsealed in White Plains federal court[1]:

The NLRB is a federal agency that enforces United States labor law relating to unfair labor practices and collective bargaining.  Among other functions, the NLRB serves fact-finding and dispute-resolution functions, in which it investigates and resolves disputes between and among labor unions, company management, and company employees throughout the United States, and supervises the formation and elections of labor unions. Employees seeking to engage the NLRB to investigate and resolve a dispute may do so by filing a “charge sheet” outlining their allegations with their local NLRB regional office, and employees seeking the NLRB’s assistance in forming or joining a union can do so by filing a “petition” with their local NLRB regional office.  These charge sheets and petitions are not immediately publicly available, though they are provided to the companies involved, typically within a matter of days, and may be available in redacted form via Freedom of Information Act requests, typically within a matter of weeks.

ANETT RODRIGUES used her employment with the NLRB to provide a competitive advantage to a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) who operated a Westchester County-based company that offered consulting services to clients – principally law firms – appearing before the NLRB. Between approximately 2017 and approximately 2021, RODRIGUES regularly provided cellphone photographs of NLRB charge sheets and petitions to CC-1, before they were otherwise available to CC-1 or to the public.  CC-1 in turn sold the documents to clients for a per-document fee.  In exchange this assistance, CC-1 regularly met with RODRIGUES to provide her with cash bribe payments.

RODRIGUES, 53, of Nutley, New Jersey, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of honest services wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and one count of bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.  The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the NLRB Office of the Inspector General’s investigator and the Special Agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth in this release constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General James Issues Alert to Warn New York Consumers to Be Cautious of Companies Marketing Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids


Consumers Who Believe They Have Been Misled or Scammed by Sellers of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Should File Complaint With OAG

  New York Attorney General Letitia James today issued a consumer alert warning New Yorkers about deceptive companies selling unregulated and potentially faulty over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. New York law requires that hearing aids only be sold by licensed audiologists or hearing aid dispensers after such a provider has performed an exam and fitting. Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule permitting the sale of a new category of OTC hearing aids that could be sold directly to consumers without an exam. While unregulated OTC hearing aids may work as intended, there is a risk that the devices could be defective or completely inadequate for the treatment of hearing loss. Advertisements for these new OTC hearing aids have already targeted New York consumers even though there are currently no OTC hearing aids that have received FDA approval.

“Hearing loss impacts individuals of all ages and backgrounds and I urge all New Yorkers to do their research before shopping for these devices,” said Attorney General James. “Companies that sell over-the-counter hearing devices are not held to the same standards as the licensed professionals who provide these critical devices, and they are not required to inform consumers of the risks associated with their products. While consumers may be tempted to purchase these unregulated and unlawful products because of their low prices, the ultimate price you pay may be further hearing loss.”

Medical device companies are required to register and list their devices with the FDA, though this registration only indicates that the company has provided information to the FDA; it does not indicate FDA approval, clearance, or authorization of the device. Unfortunately, this has not stopped some disreputable sellers of OTC hearing devices from falsely claiming that their products are “FDA-registered” or “FDA-cleared.”

If you are considering buying a hearing aid, the Office of the Attorney General recommends the following tips:

  • Beware of misleading claims. Over-the-counter hearing aids are only meant to treat mild to moderate hearing loss and may not be able to treat severe hearing loss. Avoid purchasing OTC hearing aids that claim to treat severe hearing loss or hearing loss in children.
  • Do your research. Be skeptical of testimonials on a seller’s website. Instead, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have a good rating and whether consumers have submitted complaints against the company before you purchase a product.
  • Consider having your hearing evaluated by a medical professional. While online hearing tests may be convenient, they may fail to detect serious hearing loss, or the underlying causes of your hearing loss.
  • Know your rights: Under New York law (General Business Law § 798(11)), if you are unhappy with your hearing aids you are allowed to return them within 45 days of receipt, including batteries, cords, and accessories and all fees related to the hearing aid, for a full refund less 10 percent. The seller must provide you with a written statement with this information. If a seller offers a longer return period, they must honor it.

“HLAA is pleased to see the proposed rules on over-the-counter hearing aids released by the FDA. This is one step closer to seeing OTC hearing devices on the market for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss,” said Barbara Kelley, executive director, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). “We are also pleased to see the Office of the Attorney General is educating consumers about OTC hearing aids. Until the FDA issues their final rules, we recommend consumers seek the help of licensed hearing health professionals to address their hearing loss.”   

“As the FDA finalizes its rules for the sale of OTC hearing aids, consumers should continue to watch out for misleading marketing practices from companies jumping the gun to enter New York’s market,” said Chuck Bell, programs director, Consumer Reports. “We agree that the terms ‘FDA-registered’ or ‘FDA-cleared’ for OTC hearing aids are inappropriate, and imply a higher level of safety review than these products actually receive. Consumers who think they may need a hearing aid should seek a medical evaluation to determine whether the hearing loss they have is serious in nature and/or potentially reversible.” 

“As an organization dedicated to protecting New York City’s aging and disabled population for almost 50 years, RiseBoro is committed to providing vital care,” said Scott Short, CEO, RiseBoro, Community Partnership. “We commend Attorney General Letitia James and her office for doing their part to protect seniors from these bad actors.” 

“Scams targeting the older population happen too frequently,” said Kathryn Haslanger, CEO, Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA). “As the go-to agency serving and advocating for older adults in New York City, we applaud Attorney General James for making it a priority to finally put an end to those preying on older New Yorkers, especially as so many live on a fixed income. We are proud to do our part in providing seniors with resources, services, and information to help them navigate situations such as this.” 

“Thank you to Attorney General James for taking meaningful action to protect New Yorkers from faulty and potentially damaging over-the-counter hearing aids,” said Wayne Ho, president & CEO, Chinese-American Planning Council. “People who use hearing aids should not be subjected to false or misleading claims of effectiveness or damage to their hearing in their search for increased affordability and access to care. Our community members have rights under New York state law, and we urge anyone who is considering purchasing a hearing aid to do their research and to exercise their rights if they feel they have been misled or scammed.” 

New Yorkers who believe they have been misled or scammed by sellers of over-the-counter hearing aids are encouraged to contact the Office of the Attorney General by submitting a complaint form online or by calling (800) 428-9071.

23 Days and Counting - Be My Second Banana Ruben


Hey Ruben, Governor David Patterson, I mean Kathy Hochul has just instituted a mandatory mask requirement to avoid a surge in COVID cases. Ruben your friend Ace Reporter Robert Press hits me with questions I can't answer, and he will probably mention this on his You Tube live show Fridays at 12 PM called PARROT TV TALKING POLITICS. He will probably post this photo on the show that he took in May this year at the Hip Hop Ground Breaking.

Ruben has Kathy Hochul offered you the job of Second Banana to her since Brian i in trouble with the CFB? Why don't you run as my Second Banana or are you going to be like Freddy Ferrer and not take the position as he turned down Eliot Spitzer. Maybe that is why Letitia James pulled out of the governors race, she didn't want to possibly make it three in a row. If you run with me Ruben, I promise not to call you Freddy Ferrer.

Governor Hochul Announces Major Action to Address Winter Surge and Prevent Business Disruption as COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations Rise Statewide

woman wearing a mask shopping 

Hochul Shares New Yorkers' Frustration with Winter Surge, Says We Do Not Have to Be Here But We Are 

Hochul Thanks More than 80% of New Yorkers for Getting Fully Vaccinated and Doing the Right Thing 

To Protect the Health of New Yorkers, Businesses and Venues Must Implement a Mask Requirement or Require Proof of Fully Vaccinated Status   

Hochul Gives Options to Businesses with Mask or Vaccine Requirement   

State to Reassess Measure on Jan. 15, 2022  

 Governor Kathy Hochul today announced masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. This a major action to address the winter surge comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise statewide to be in alignment with the CDC's recommendations for communities with substantial and high transmission. The State Health Commissioner issued a determination solidifying the requirement.       

This determination is based on the State's weekly seven-day case rate as well as increasing hospitalizations. The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff. This measure is effective Dec. 13, 2021 until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the State will re-evaluate based on current conditions. The new measure brings added layers of mitigation during the holidays when more time is spent indoors shopping, gathering, and visiting holiday-themed destinations.     

"As Governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy. The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season. We shouldn't have reached the point where we are confronted with a winter surge, especially with the vaccine at our disposal, and I share many New Yorkers' frustration that we are not past this pandemic yet," Governor Hochul said. "I want to thank the more than 80 percent of New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated. If others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary."   

"I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: Increasing cases, reduced hospital capacity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas," Governor Hochul added. 

Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29%. While the percentage of New Yorkers fully vaccinated continues to increase—gaining 2% from Thanksgiving weekend to now—the uptick is not fast enough to completely curb the spread of the virus, particularly among communities with low vaccination coverage. 

The State Department of Health has produced nation-leading studies, published in the CDC's MMWR and the New England Journal of Medicine, which demonstrate the COVID-19 vaccines' effectiveness - particularly in preventing severe disease. The Department continues to urge eligible New Yorkers of all ages to get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. 

Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Community spread requires a community-minded solution, as the Omicron variant emerges and the overwhelmingly dominant Delta variant continues to circulate. We have the tools we need to protect against the virus - and now we must ensure we use them. There are tools each individual can use, and there are actions we can take as government. Getting vaccinated protects you, and wearing a mask is how we will better protect each other. Both vaccination and mask-wearing are needed to slow this COVID-19 winter surge."    

A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements.    

Business/Venue Proof of Full-Course Vaccination Requirement    

Businesses and venues who implement a proof of vaccination requirement can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York State, or a CDC Vaccination Card. In accordance with CDC's definition of fully vaccinated, full-course vaccination is defined as 14 days past an individual's last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The State also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. Parents and guardians can retrieve and store an Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus for children or minors under legal guardianship.    

Business/Venue Mask-Wearing Requirement    

Businesses and venues that implement a mask requirement must ensure all patrons two years and older wear a mask at all times while indoors.    

Continued Masking Requirements    

Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Further, the State's masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings per CDC guidelines.    

New York State and the State's Department of Health continue to strongly recommend mask-wearing in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required. Children 2 - 5 who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask. 

COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are free and widely available statewide. New Yorkers can visit, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. To schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, New Yorkers can visit the Am-I-Eligible site. New Yorkers can also contact their health care provider, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, or pharmacies. 

New Yorkers can retrieve their Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus here. Businesses and venues can download the Excelsior Pass Scanner app—free for any business nationwide and available in more than ten languages—here.      

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating COVID-19 - DECEMBER 9, 2021

Clinical specimen testing for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) at Wadsworth Laboratory

145,152 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours    

54 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday  

 Governor Kathy Hochul today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combating COVID-19.    

"The surge in cases should be an alarm going off," Governor Hochul said. "We know the tools to help stop the spread of this deadly virus and prevent people from getting seriously ill from COVID-19: Get vaccinated, get the booster shot, wear a mask. Let's use those tools to enjoy the holidays safely and finally put this pandemic in the rear-view mirror."

Today's data is summarized briefly below:  

  • Test Results Reported - 249,960
  • Total Positive - 12,491
  • Percent Positive - 5.00%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 4.78%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 3,498 (+9)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 511
  • Patients in ICU - 656 (+23)
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation - 364 (+12)
  • Total Discharges - 218,876 (+467)
  • New deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 54
  • Total deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS - 46,903

The Health Electronic Response Data System is a NYS DOH data source that collects confirmed daily death data as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities only.  

  • Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC - 59,719

This daily COVID-19 provisional death certificate data reported by NYS DOH and NYC to the CDC includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice and other settings.  

  • Total vaccine doses administered - 30,904,286
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 145,152
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 899,212
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 86.5%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 78.8%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 92.1%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 81.3%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 75.1%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 67.5%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 79.7%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 69.3%

Montana Man Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison In Connection With $43 Million Fraud Scheme


 Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TODD CAPSER was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken to 18 months in prison in connection with a $43 million fraud scheme.  CAPSER pled guilty before Judge Oetken on July 2, 2019.

According to the Indictment and other publicly filed documents, from January 2016 through April 2019, CAPSER perpetrated a scheme to defraud a financial institution based in Toronto, Canada (“Financial Institution-1”), by inducing it, through false and misleading representations and omissions, to loan approximately $43.3 million to CAPSER for the purchase of two chemical and oil tankers (the “Tankers”).

After obtaining the loan from Financial Institution-1 and purchasing the Tankers, CAPSER attempted to induce at least nine other Financial Institutions to loan between $46 million and $52 million each to refinance the original loan.

CAPSER fraudulently induced Financial Institution-1 to make the $43 million loan, and attempted to induce the other Financial Institutions to make the $46 million to $52 million refinancing loans, through, among other things: (a) fraudulently obtaining documents from a company that provides wealth management services to private clients (“Trust Company‑1”); (b) altering the Trust Company-1 documents, and forging additional Trust Company-1 documents, to make it appear as though his father held an investment portfolio at Trust Company-1 composed of securities worth tens of millions of dollars, which could serve as collateral for the loans; (c) sending the altered and forged Trust Company-1 documents to certain of the Financial Institutions; (d) creating fake email accounts for employees of Trust Company-1, and sending emails from those accounts to certain of the Financial Institutions to make it appear as though his father held an investment portfolio at Trust Company-1 composed of securities worth tens of millions of dollars; and (e) making false and misleading representations and omissions about the financial assets of CAPSER, his father, and their family to certain of the Financial Institutions, including falsely claiming to own a cattle company and ranch.

In addition, in an effort to engender sympathy, deflect questions, and explain suspicious behavior, CAPSER falsely represented to certain of the Financial Institutions that his daughter was terminally ill with cancer.

After being charged and arrested in connection with the foregoing fraud scheme in May 2019, and pleading guilty in July 2019, CAPSER attempted to commit a distinct fraud while awaiting sentencing.

In addition to yesterday’s prison sentence, CAPSER, 50, of Billings, Montana, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.  He also thanked the FBI’s Billings Resident Agency for its assistance with the investigation.

Statement from NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy on New York City Democrats' Vote to Give Non-citizens Voting Rights


December 9, 2021 

"Today's irresponsible vote by New York City Democrats to give the sacred right to vote to over 800,000 non-citizens is a dangerous attack on our election integrity. We are now on a slippery slope toward illegal immigrants voting and foreign interference in our elections.

"We will fight, using every legal means necessary, to prevent this legislation from becoming law. Stay tuned for further announcements about our legal action."

NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy.

Letitia James - An important update for you


from:Letitia James

to:Robert Press
date:Dec 9, 2021, 11:02 AM


I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general. There are multiple important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job. I am running for reelection to complete the work New Yorkers elected me to do.

Thank you for your continued support.



Thank you for you service as a member of the City Council, NYC Public Advocate, and now your continued service as New York State Attorney General. Good Luck on your reelection as Attorney General.



The space underneath the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is named for Emily Warren Roebling

 Mayor Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn Bridge Park President Eric Landau, elected officials and community leaders today cut the ribbon on the final section of Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP), completing the Park as originally designed, a significant milestone for BBP and New York City. The new section of parkland pays tribute to the rich history of the Brooklyn Bridge and is named in honor of Emily Warren Roebling who is known for her work ensuring the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge. 


This flexible public plaza space adds two acres of parkland and connects the DUMBO section of Brooklyn Bridge Park with the southern piers, a crucial connection point that enhances the flow of pedestrian traffic in the park and provides a moment to observe the incredible Brooklyn Bridge from below. Emily Warren Roebling Plaza features a large hardscaped area designed with concrete pavers that echo the pattern and engineering of the Bridge above, and is surrounded by landscaped trees, lawns, and benches. The adjacent Empire Fulton Ferry lawn reopened earlier this year after renovations to better connect the two spaces. This project also includes the installation of over one hundred protective bollards stretching from Old Fulton Street and Furman Street to Water Street and New Dock Street, for enhanced pedestrian safety. 


“Brooklyn Bridge Park is a spectacular example of how our administration has delivered unprecedented public access to New York City’s waterfront,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The completion of Brooklyn Bridge Park with the addition of this iconic new space beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, fittingly named for Emily Warren Roebling, is a tremendous accomplishment for the borough and the City. Just over 10 years ago, this was an abandoned waterfront, and today it’s an 85 acre urban oasis enjoyed by millions of people.” 


“Today, we cut the ribbon on Emily Warren Roebling Plaza, the long-awaited connection between DUMBO and the rest of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The addition of the Plaza transforms the Brooklyn waterfront remarkably, granting Brooklynites greater accessibility to public space, which generations of friends and families can enjoy,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “As we celebrate the final phase of Brooklyn Bridge Park, we honor the legacy of lead engineer Emily Warren Roebling, a New Yorker who made history as the woman who brought the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge to completion.”


“Exactly one year after breaking ground, Emily Warren Roebling Plaza is now open to the public, completing Brooklyn Bridge Park as originally designed. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio, elected officials, our Board of Directors, community partners, Michael Van Valkenberg and Associates, Kelco Construction, and Park staff, all of whom have been dedicated to ensuring the success of Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Eric Landau, Brooklyn Bridge Park President. “We look forward to welcoming visitors into this richly historic and iconic space. The Brooklyn Bridge would not have been completed without Emily Warren Roebling and it’s quite fitting that Brooklyn Bridge Park is now completed with the Plaza that bears her name.” 


"The opening of the final section of Brooklyn Bridge Park is a dream realized. Increasing public access and adding open space is integral to improving  the quality of life for New Yorkers throughout our city, and that is not a luxury, but a necessity,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. "With the addition of this space under the majestic Brooklyn Bridge, this park fortifies itself as a coveted destination for those seeking recreation, relaxation, and an opportunity to admire history. We are thrilled that this section will bear the name of Emily Warren Roebling, so we can never forget her role as the woman responsible for bringing the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge to the finish line." 


“Brooklyn Bridge Park has long been an oasis for me and so many other visitors, in Brooklyn and beyond,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric AdamsThe opening of Emily Warren Roebling Plaza today not only points to a vibrant future for this incredible space, but also pays homage to a historical figure whose contributions to our borough and city are often overlooked. I was proud to allocate $1.5 million dollars toward making this day possible, and thank Brooklyn Bridge Park for their tireless efforts over the years to make this space an amenity for all Brooklynites.”


“We’ve all been thinking about this day for so long that it’s hard to believe that it is nearly here,” said Michael Van Valkenburgh, President and CEO of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. “Everyone at MVVA is thrilled to see the final piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park, located on a portion of the waterfront inaccessible for more than 20 years, open to the public at last. We can’t wait to see people enjoy this new plaza, named in honor of the amazing builder who completed the iconic bridge just overhead.”


“This is a phenomenal day for New York City,” said Nancy Webster, Executive Director of Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. “Back in the 1980’s, the Conservancy emerged as a leader in the citizens’ movement to advocate for the creation and funding of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and we are overjoyed to celebrate the opening of the Park’s final piece — Emily Warren Roebling Plaza. Congratulations to BBP President Eric Landau and his team for this extraordinary accomplishment, to past president Regina Myer who began park construction in 2008, and to all the City employees, local elected officials, and citizen advocates and supporters who came together and worked for so many years to realize the dream of this extraordinary Park on the Brooklyn waterfront.” 


“It’s hard to believe that it’s been one year since we stood in the midst of a surprise early season snowstorm, shivering as we broke ground on this space which bares my Great-great-grandmother’s name, but here we are, one go-around of the sun later, and I am so delighted that this Plaza is opening, a place which recognizes the groundbreaking efforts of my ancestor, Emily,” said Kriss Roebling, great-great grandson of Emily Roebling. “I know that she would be delighted.”


About Brooklyn Bridge Park 

Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of the largest and most significant public projects to be built in New York City in a generation, has transformed a once dilapidated industrial waterfront into a vibrant and thriving 85-acre civic landscape. Brooklyn Bridge Park stretches 1.3 miles from Atlantic Avenue in the south to Jay Street north of the Manhattan Bridge, spanning the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO along the East River. The self-sustaining park was designed by the award-winning firm of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. and features expansive lawns, rolling hills, waterfront promenades, innovative playgrounds, a greenway, sports facilities, and the popular Jane’s Carousel. 


The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBP) develops, capitally improves, maintains, and fully operates the Park as a 501 (c) not-for-profit, controlled by the City of New York. BBP is responsible for the day to day operations of the Park, including horticulture, maintenance, capital planning and construction, event permitting, and concession oversight.