Former Brooklyn Borough President Sebastian Leone Dead at 91

Dec 01, 16 Former Brooklyn Borough President Sebastian Leone Dead at 91

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Sebastian Leone, known for his struggle to improve Brooklyn’s reputation during the 1970s, long before the borough’s recent renaissance, passed away on November 14 at the age of 91. His wife Helene Leone said that he had succumbed to the effects of pneumonia. Leone was the borough president for six years from 1970 until 1976. During those years Brooklyn was not the up and coming hot spot among the young professional crowd and celebrities. It was more like, as journalist McCandlish Phillips wrote in the New York Times: “a neglected stepchild of Manhattan.” Most accounts credit Leone with begin the first Brooklyn official to put up the famous “Welcome to Brooklyn” sign. In 2010 Leone told The Brooklyn Paper that: “In those days, you always had to be Brooklyn-positive. I used to say, ‘One out of every 80 people that live in America live in Brooklyn!’ If you consider people that were born here, worked here and have relatives here, then one out of 10 people have some affinity for Brooklyn!” Leone left his job as Borough president in 1976. A few months later, at the beginning of 1977, he became a State Supreme Court justice. He retired in 2001, and lived the remainder of his life in Bay Ridge. His wife, their son Matthew and two grandchildren survive...

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Brooklyn Bridge Repairs Running High

Nov 14, 16 Brooklyn Bridge Repairs Running High

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Back in 2010 the original estimated cost for the much needed repairs to the 133-year-old Brooklyn Bridge was put at about $508 million. In 2015 the bill was then set to reach about $600 million. Now New Yorkers can expect to pay in the vicinity of $811 million. That is an almost 60 percent increase over the original cost estimate. The steep increase in cost is blamed on “scope changes” and “unforeseen field conditions.” And not only will it be costlier to build than originally expected, the probable completion date has been moved back to April 2017. That is four years later than the original plan called for. “Big public projects take too long to complete and routinely run over budget,” said Maria Doulis, from the Citizens Budget Commission, a watchdog group. “The city has made attempts to be more transparent about this by posting information online, but it’s unclear what actions are being taken to evaluate and address the root causes.” New Yorkers will be footing 54 percent of the cost, while the federal government will pick up the rest of the tab. The Department of Transportation said the additional work will include steel repairs, painting of more areas of the bridge, and even fixing damage that was caused to protective shielding which occurred as a result of a barge...

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Brooklyn DA Thompson Dead from Cancer at Age 50

Oct 10, 16 Brooklyn DA Thompson Dead from Cancer at Age 50

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Only five days after announcing publicly that he was ill with colorectal cancer, Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney, is dead at age 50. He died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital surrounded by family members. Although diagnosed this past spring, he carried on with his duties until last week when he appointed his chief assistant, Eric Gonzalez, to head the office until he won his battle with cancer. “As a man of intense faith, I intend to fight and win the battle against this disease,” Thompson said. Thompson’s wife Lu-Shawn wrote on Facebook: “The world lost a great man. Rest in Peace to my husband.” said: “I am profoundly saddened. Ken was a dedicated public servant who embodied the highest principles of the law.” Thompson became the Brooklyn DA in January 2014 after beating the incumbent Charles Hynes, who had served as Brooklyn DA since 1990. It was the first time anyone had defeated a sitting Brooklyn DA since 1911. Thompson was also the first African-American in history to fill the job of Brooklyn’s chief prosecutor. Thompson was known for ordering his office to refrain from prosecuting low-level marijuana arrests. This was partly so he could dedicate more resources to violent crimes such as rape, gun crimes, and domestic violence. He also wanted to spare New York youth from “the burden of a criminal...

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Brooklyn College Celebrates the Opening of the Haitian Studies Institute

Sep 05, 16 Brooklyn College Celebrates the Opening of the Haitian Studies Institute

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Scholars, politicians and lay-leaders were in attendance at the opening of the Haitian Studies Institute, now an integral part of the academic offerings at City University of New York’s Brooklyn College. The institute is billed as “a leading institute in the nation, contributing to the body of knowledge about Haitians and the Haitian Diaspora, and advancing the intellectual field of Haitian Studies through research, analysis of public policy, and scholarly practice impacting people of Haitian origin in New York State and other parts of the Haitian Diaspora.” Brooklyn College President Dr. Michelle J. Anderson introduced Jean Eddy Saint Paul as the founding director of CUNY-HIS during the proceedings, which took place on Wednesday at the Flatbush Avenue campus of Brooklyn College. “I am pleased to welcome scholar Jean Eddy Saint Paul to our community,” intoned Anderson, adding, “Brooklyn is home to the largest number of foreign-born Haitians in New York City, and the largest concentration of Haitian-owned businesses and community-based organizations in New York State. Dr. Saint Paul’s experience and knowledge will help him make the Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College a global intellectual center.” Saint Paul is from Haiti and has written many scholarly articles and chapters, as well as two books, The Militias in Haiti: Sociology of Chimè and Tontons Macoutes, about Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. The realization of the dream of the HIS was in no small part due to the political support of Rodneyse Bichotte, Assemblywoman of the 42nd District of the New York State Assembly. Visibly moved during the ceremony was Peter Helder Bernard, the Consul General of the Republic of Haiti in New York. The choice of Brooklyn College, his alma mater, affected him...

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Murdered Imam Mourned by Hundreds

Aug 17, 16 Murdered Imam Mourned by Hundreds

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The funeral of murder victims Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and his assistant Thara Uddin, 64, was attended by hundreds of mourners after Saturday prayers at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Ozone Park, Queens. The murders shocked the neighborhood’s Bangladeshi community, who gathered in a parking lot for the service, not far from where the cleric and his assistant were killed. The suspect in the murders is said to be a 36-year-old man of Hispanic descent from Brooklyn. His name was not yet released. “We believe because of the evidence we have acquired thus far that … this is the individual,” New York City Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. Speakers at the funeral begged the authorities to investigate whether this was a hate crime, and requested that the level of police protection be heightened in the neighborhood, in lieu of the killings. “We want justice,” Badrul Kahn, founder of the Al-Furqan mosque and its main adviser, shouted to the crowd during the opening speech of the funeral. “We want justice,” said the mourners in response, a majority dressed in Islamic...

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Car Wash Workers Negotiate Better Benefits and Wage Package

Jul 26, 16 Car Wash Workers Negotiate Better Benefits and Wage Package

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Forty-eight Brooklyn car wash workers successfully bargained for an 18-month contract which will bring their base pay up to a tad above minimum wage in exchange for the elimination of a tip credit system. Even more beneficial for the workers is paid sick days and paid vacation of one week per year, as many workers have families overseas. The vacation day plan will allow the workers to visit their families without having to worry about docked pay. Officials of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union say they are happy with the deal, and expect it could be used as a template for other unionized workers to negotiate similar deals. The deal stipulates that some workers will be able to earn $10 per hour, slightly more than the current minimum wage of $9 an hour. The sick day and vacation benefits will be available to all employees. The union viewed the deal as a big victory for them. “That’s a big deal,” said RWDSU spokeswoman Janna Pea. “A lot have families that do not live in the U.S. They will now be able to go back home to visit their families without having to worry about their jobs.” This contract is the tenth such accord for immigrant “carwasheros.” These New York workers voted to join the union in order to get better pay and benefits. This group of SLS workers is the largest to negotiate such a deal, according to union...

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