New Senior Housing in Brownsville

Catholic Charities has unveiled a new senior housing complex in East New York

The Our Lady of Loreto Church stood for nearly 100 years in the Brownsville community as a house of worship. On Thursday, it was debuted as the brand new Pope Francis Apartments at Loreto – a new affordable housing complex for senior citizens.

“This project, and our being here today, is really a testimony to the fact that the church is not a museum, but a living organism,” Reverend Robert Brennan, the Bishop of Brooklyn, said. “The needs of the church change as the needs of the neighborhood change, over time. And so we’ve gone through cycles, and we’ve had to make changes and, and yet, something lifegiving always seems to emerge. And that’s what we have here today; we see this place transformed here.”

The units at 2377 Pacific Street will offer 135 apartments to seniors and formerly homeless seniors. 60 percent of the units will be supportive housing while the other 40 percent will be deemed as affordable independent residences for seniors, or AIRS units. The AIRS units will be pegged at up to 50 percent of the Area Median Income while the other units are supported with a rental subsidy through the Empire State Supporting Housing initiative.

The eight-story building will also feature 24-hour security, laundry facilities, rooftop solar panels and more. These services, as well as case management services, will be provided to residents by Catholic Charities.

Monsignor Alfred LoPinto took the occasion to remind attendees that the mission of the Pope Francis apartments is greatly tied to the pope’s dedication to the elderly.

“Pope Francis urges everyone to protect and nourish the elderly, stating: ‘let us protect them so that nothing of their lives and dreams may be lost. May we never regret that we were insufficiently attentive to those who loved us….’ That is why it is so fitting to me today to name this beautiful residence after Pope Francis,” Monsignor Alfred LoPinto said. “Inside these walls, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens will be able to protect older adults and alleviate their difficulties, just as Pope Francis asked us to do. We ensure that they do not feel alone by attending to their needs”

Illegal dumping raises concern

Excess litter and illegal dumping sites are more than just visually unappealing. They create hazardous pollution which can seep into our waterways and harm the earth. In an effort to address these illegal dumping sites, New York City Councilwoman Linda Lee has launched an initiative in partnership with the Department of Sanitation asking on the public’s assistance in identifying these locations across her district.

“Illegal dumping continues to plague Eastern Queens as a whole and some of the most beautiful areas of our district in particular,” Lee said in a statement. “Illegal dumping turns our green spaces into eyesores and attracts pests to our communities, posing health hazards to us all. Each and every one of us not only has a responsibility to not dump garbage in public but also to report illegal dumping and take steps to clean it up. I want to thank the hardworking men and women of the Sanitation Department who work each and every day to keep our neighborhood clean, healthy, and vibrant and often go unnoticed.”

The cleanup initiative is the third to take place as part of Lee’s Spring Cleaning series, which aims at beautifying and restoring public areas across the Council District. Lee previously partnered with the Queens Economic Development Corporation to clean graffiti from public spaces and businesses, and the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless to clean litter from public and green spaces. To date, a total of 20 locations have been cleaned as part of the Spring Cleaning series.

Illegal dumping is caused by the illicit disposal of material or debris left on any street, lot, park, public space, or any other publicly or privately owned area. Vehicle owners and drivers are legally responsible for any dumping involving a vehicle, with fines running from $4,000 to $18,000. Anyone who reports illegal dumping or an illegal dumper in the act is eligible for a reward of up to 50 percent of the fine collected.

In addition to Lee’s efforts, the DSNY also run the Neighborhood Vacant Lot Cleanup Program to reduce blight and keep areas safe and clean.

Property owners or building managers are responsible for the removal of small amounts of trash dumped on public sidewalks adjacent to their property. These same property owners and managers are responsible even if they filed a report of illegal dumping.

District 23 residents who want to report illegal dumping or locations with significant litter pileups can call Lee’s office at (718) 468-0137 or email [email protected].

Dual shootings outside Pomonok Houses

Two separate shooting incidents took place on Sunday night outside of the Pomonok Houses near Queens College, according to multiple reports on the Citizen app.

The first, reported at approximately 5:11 p.m., confirmed that police responded to reports of a man who had been shot in the abdomen.

A second report, made at approximately 11:55 p.m., confirmed that police transported an unidentified 26-year-old victim to a local hospital.

According to NY1, Queens College temporarily shut its doors on Monday morning in response to the nearby shootings.

Local City Councilman Jame Gennaro, whose district includes Pomonok, Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood, Jamaica, and Fresh Meadows, issued a statement in response to the dual shooting incidents, which occurred just a few short hours apart.

“I have been in continuous contact with Commanding Officer Kevin Chan of the 107th Precinct and the Mayor’s Office well into the early hours of the morning and throughout the day today,” Gennaro said in his statement. “Both shooting victims are in the hospital. As we wait for additional details to emerge, I want my constituents to know that I and my office take this deadly violence at our doorstep with utmost seriousness and we need to act.”

Gennaro continued by addressing how he is doing everything in his power to make sure the community is safer.

“In both last year’s budget and this year’s budget, which will be passed in June, I have allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars of my discretionary funding for police surveillance cameras in crime hot spots in our community, as determined by the NYPD in consultation with me and community leaders,” Gennaro continued. “Additionally, our office is currently working to coordinate a town hall with the Police Department and our community to discuss public safety concerns and brainstorm ideas to boost safety in the district. In the meantime, I urge all my constituents to stay vigilant and continue to report any suspicious and/or illegal activity to 911 if the police are needed immediately, and if anyone has any information about yesterday’s shootings that may help the police, the Commanding Officer of the 107th Precinct has asked that witnesses call the precinct at 718-969-5100. I will keep the community apprised of any further developments in this case.”

Queens director films series in local neighborhoods

In an era of online dating, many single people know the highs and lows (but mostly lows) of dating all too well.

Comedian/Actress Brittany Brave (Photo: Arin Sang-urai)

A brand new web series, “The Disastrous Dating Life of Diane Damone,” features actress and comedian Brittany Brave, who brings this relatable concept to life.


She portrays Diane Damone, a young woman living in New York who often finds herself unlucky in love.

“The Disastrous Dating Life of Diane Damone” is the brainchild of director Joseph Patrick Conroy, who based the show on his friend Laurie Roma’s true stories about dating.

As an experienced cinematographer, Conroy said he tends to write his stories with a person in mind.

He remembered Brave from a project they worked on together previously, and she was his inspiration — before he even told her what he was working on.

“Brittany got back to me immediately and said ‘I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. This is perfect; this is what my dating life is like,’” Conroy said. “And then we started shooting with a very small crew.”

Conroy at the helm as he directs the cast (Photo: Arin Sang-urai)

As a resident of Middle Village, Conroy said it simply made sense to film a large portion of the series in the local area — including Middle Village, Maspeth, and Astoria.

Residents of these communities might recognize the locations of some of the show’s scenes, including Juniper Valley Park, Grand Avenue in Maspeth, and My Sushi on Eliot Avenue.

“It’s a very Queens centric show, because most of the people who are involved with it are from Queens or live in Queens,” Brave, a Floridian who once lived in Astoria, said.

“We had a lot of local businesses be kind enough, especially in the early stages to donate their spaces to us,” she continued. “If not for free, they gave the space to us for very cheap. And for an indie film crew, that’s so key and pivotal because it really allowed us to get the job done without going bankrupt.”

Brave added that this role is very important to her because Diane’s humor is so similar to her comedy style in real life.

“Diane is an extension of me,” Brave said.

“I really have a lot in common with the character, and a lot of my comedy is based off of dating, sex, dealing with dudes, living in the city, and being Italian and single,” she continued. “It’s been kind of nice to showcase other abilities outside of just what I’m able to do in stand up.”

Although the series just premiered last Friday, April 29, Conroy said that if all goes well, a second season is “on the table.”

For now, you can watch “The Disastrous Dating Life of Diane Damone” on Roku and Tubi.

“I think this show is more relatable than ‘Sex and the City’ where it’s all about money and the fancy parts of Manhattan,” Conroy said.

“This is just about a girl who’s an average, everyday working person who has been in situations that I’m sure even people who are married were in before they got married,” he continued. “I think a lot of people will connect with it, and they’ll definitely laugh.”

SCOTUS may overturn Roe v. Wade

Concern mounts in Washington D.C. after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion seeks to potentially overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Should the decision be overturned 26 different states are likely to restrict abortion, impacting the individual rights of women across the nation.

According to reports from The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization based in New York, as of last year, there are 22 states that already have anti-abortion laws that would kick in as soon as the decision is made.

These include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A woman’s rights should not fall on the decision of the judicial system. It is unjust that the legal system would look to overturn a landmark case, which helped set the precedent against criminal abortion laws and established that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

The result of this could mean that pregnant women will be forced to travel long distances to obtain services in states where the procedure will still be legal. And what will become of Planned Parenthood and other such organizations dedicated to a woman’s right to choose?

The fact that the opinion was leaked to the public marks the first time in modern history that the courts have disclosed an opinion while the case is still pending.

While this could be a good sign that the courts will likely reverse its final decision, it has certainly sparked a nationwide debate on the legality of abortion.

“Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which American hold sharply conflicting views,” Justice Alito says in the draft dated February 2022.

“Some believe fervently that a human person comes into being at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. Others feel just as strongly that any regulation of abortion invades a woman’s right to control her own body and prevents women from achieving full equality. Still others in a third group think that abortion should be allowed under some but not all circumstances and those with this group hold a variety of views about the particular restrictions that should be imposed.”

The decision goes on to state that at the time of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973, “30 states still prohibited abortion at all stages. In the years prior to that decision about a third of the states had liberated their laws, but Roe abruptly ended that political process.”

Despite the large conservative contingent expressing their views on a woman’s right to choose, it remains a fact that it is still their body and life to account for.

If a woman is not mentally or financially prepared to take care of a child, how can the state enforce its will and force them into parenthood?
New York will certainly not bend to these new regulations, but other states already have plans preparred should the case be overturned.

Why are so many people concerned with conception and birth when it’s hardly their decisions to make?

The opinion of men should be completely removed from the equation as the right to life is not one that is theirs to give nor should it be one that they should govern over.

Until the day that the courts realize that is the solely the decision of the birth-giver, whether or not they choose to have an abortion, the fight for gender equality must continue.

Pol Position: Legalizing Cannabis

The rapid legalization of marijuana in New York State is creating some interesting discussions about the potential growth of the marketplace and how and where it can be consumed.

A little history on how it began

Prohibition of marijuana began as early as the 1930s, at a time when there was very little known about the plant’s medicinal and recreational uses. Media mogul William Randolph Hearst, whose empire of newspapers pioneered the use of “yellow journalism,” led the effort to demonize the cannabis plant by funding heavily propagandized and often racially prejudiced material, such as the 1936 film “Reefer Madness,” which exaggerates the events surrounding a group of high school students who are introduced to weed for the first time.
It is largely believed that his tirade to destroy the hemp industry was due to the fact that it produced a cheap substitute for the traditional wood pulp that was used by the industry at the time. However, few were actually aware that it was not the plant itself, but the THC byproduct, that when smoked would create the intoxicating effect that Hearst other elite industrial families helped make illegal.

What really happened…

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was drafted by Harry J. Anslinger, who claimed that cannabis caused people to commit violent crimes and act irrationally. This law essentially made possession or transfer of marijuana illegal through the imposition of a tax on all sales of hemp.
Then in 1970, the Supreme Court deemed the act to be unconstitutional in its violation of the fifth amendment right against self-incrimination.
New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller was elected to office on the campaign promise of being “tough on crime” and in May 1973 he did just that, calling for mandatory sentences of 15 years to life for the sale or possession of narcotics, including those caught with small amounts of pot.

Since 1995, there have been more than 17 million marijuana-related arrests made, including an estimated 545,602 made in 2019 – significantly more than for all violent crimes combined.

This continues to be a major contributor to the overcrowding within our prison system. It also helped create the systemic abuse of the law to leverage the unfair incarceration of those coming from lower-class and impoverished communities.

New York did not reform these regulations until 2009 when NYS Governor David A. Paterson introduced legislation that rolled back excessive sentencing statutes and restored power to judges in regard to first-time, nonviolent drug offenders.

Will New York follow in Jersey’s footsteps?

While there is a possibility that New York could finally permit the sale of recreational-use marijuana, the recent legalization of recreational use marijuana has not created the anticipated rush of customers everyone was expecting.

The recreational sale of marijuana is still prohibited in New York, but thanks to the efforts of our neighboring states, many believe state lawmakers will soon follow suit.

Should they not, however, legislation remains on the table that could potentially decriminalize the use of marijuana on a federal level.

Mets complete combined no-hitter, second in team history

The New York Mets completed the 315th no-hitter in Major League history on Friday night.

In a combined effort of five pitchers from the team, the 3-0 victory was just the 17th combined no-hitter ever. There have only been two combined no-hitters that involved more pitchers, and the 159 pitches thrown in Friday’s no-hitter are the most for any no-hitter since pitch counts have been tracked since 1988.

Starter Tylor Megill pitched five innings, throwing a total of 88 pitches before being pulled. The bullpen would take over, with Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz completing the second no-hitter in team history.

The only other Mets’ no-hitter performance was by Johan Santana on June 1, 2012, in a 8-0 rout of the St. Louis Cardinals. Friday night was the first no-hitter against the Phillies since Josh Beckett no-hit them for the Dodgers in 2014.

It was the team’s first “black out” uniform game of the year, with an announced crowd of 32,416 fans.

On offense, Jeff McNeil hit a two-run single in the fifth inning off Aaron Nola, and Pete Alonso followed with a homerun in the sixth inning.

As of press time, the Mets are 16-8 — good for best in the National League, and three games up on the second-place Miami Marlins in the NL East.

Despite walking six batters over the course of the game, the group of pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts on the nights, and most importantly, allowing zero hits.

Jastremski: Is lowly NY Football about to turn a corner?

The NY Football situation since the 2012 season has been as bad as it gets around the sport.

This is no secret, after all, just take a peak at the record for the Jets and Giants over the past ten years.

A whole lot of losses and not a whole lot of meaningful Decembers…

Last week was a unique opportunity based upon ineptitude and a wise trade for each of course. The Jets and Giants had four of the top ten picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

I would hope it’s a situation that we don’t see ever again.

The 2022 Draft opened the door for the Giants and Jets to spark franchise turnarounds.

Look, it’s impossible to know for sure if these teams get it right or wrong, but on paper it looked quite spectacular for both teams.

The Jets are in the third year of the Joe Douglas tenure.

His 2020 draft was very suspect and his 2021 draft produced instant results.

The 2022 draft saw the Jets address three major needs. Cornerback, Wide Receiver and Defensive End.

Sauce Gardner was as good as it gets at Cincinnati. You couldn’t score on the guy.

With Tyreke Hill, Jalen Waddle and Stefon Diggs all suiting up in the AFC East, it behooves the Jets to have a lockdown corner.

The Jets had better hope Sauce is way closer to Revis than Millner…

Garrett Wilson provides second year quarterback Zack Wilson with another talented receiver to throw to. The Jets sure hope that Wilson can play alongside last years talented rookie Elijah Moore as a tandem for years to come.

In addition, Douglas wisely traded back into the first round to snag defensive end Jermaine Johnson who has a chance to be the first legitimate home grown edge rusher since John Abraham, who was drafted over twenty years ago…

The Jets have been re-tooling and rebuilding for the past few seasons, but now it’s time to start winning some games.

For the Giants, the new regime of Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll went to the roots of what has made the Giants successful with their two first round picks.

The Giants snagged the electrifying Kayvon Thibodeaux out of Oregon. Thibodeaux has a booming personality, thinks very highly of himself and should be wrecking havoc on quarterbacks for years to come.

For some, there were questions about Thibodeaux’s attitude. I don’t have the same questions, in fact I see a player who has the swagger and confidence that is made for New York.

The Giants saw the draft board fall perfectly to allow them to end up with a stud pass rusher and one of the top three linemen on the board.

Evan Neal is a big boy, has Alabama pedigree and has no issues playing Right Tackle.

A team that has had major issues on the offensive line, should have two pillars at tackle for years to come with Neal joining forces with Andrew Thomas.

On paper, everything looks terrific for both the Jets and Giants.

It’s hard for me to knock anything I saw on draft day.

However, these grades don’t go final for a few years.

The Jets and Giants have seen way too many F’s over the last few years, it’s time to start passing some NFL classes…

The Jets and Giants need some long term A’s…

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Wednesday & Friday plus Ringer Gambling Picks on Tuesday & Friday on The Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.

You can watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight after Mets games on SNY.

Gopee inducted as NYS Supreme Court justice

Becomes first Indo-Caribbean judge to serve on Supreme Court

Family, friends, local elected officials, and other community members gathered at Queens Borough Hall last week to celebrate Karen Gopee’s induction into the Supreme Court of the State of New York’s 11th Judicial District.

Gopee ran for one of the six open seats in the district on Nov. 2, 2021, and won with 11.6 percent of the vote.

Her victory makes history for New York State, as she is the first Indo-Caribbean judge to serve on the Supreme Court.

The Gopees first came to Southeast Queens in 1973 from Trinidad and Tobago, when Judge Gopee was a year old.

Her father, Prakash Gopee, said that their entire family endured many hardships, but worked tirelessly to support themselves.

“From a young age, Karen worked very hard. She went to school, and she never wanted to go out with her friends — she only liked books and studying,” Gopee said. “I am so very proud of her; I cry inside with joy today.”

Gopee went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University, and her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in 1997.

Prior to her appointment to the Queens County Criminal Court, Gopee worked for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and for Red Hook Community Justice Center under Alex Calabrese, Acting Supreme Court Justice.

Calabrese, along with other colleagues of Gopee’s, remarked on her character, contributions to the law field, and achievements.

“She is a natural leader and leads by example. She doesn’t see the accused in court defined solely by the charge, but takes a holistic view of that person who may be a father, mother, caregiver, or friend,” Calabrese said.

“She controls her courtroom not by yelling or cutting off attorneys, but by listening to everyone,” he continued. “Judge Karen Gopee treats people with respect, gives them a voice, listens to them, and makes sure that everyone in the courtroom understands what is happening.”

“Karen is more than just a colleague, she’s someone you can rely on and trust,” said Michelle Johnson, Justice Supreme Court – Criminal Term. “In my capacity as a supervising judge, she was the person who came as a new judge and said ‘I want to build programs for young drug offenders in Queens,’ and she did.”

Gopee also helped form the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Bar Association of Queens, where she serves as president.

Paying homage to her Indo-Caribbean roots, Gopee invited singer Evana Labban to sing Trinidad’s national anthem, 1 Taal Academy of Tassa for a musical performance, and her former intern, Shivana Subir for a traditional dance number.

“While I grew up and assimilated into the United States, the Caribbean and Trinidad is my heritage. I wanted to bring that here with me today to the individuals here who may not have ever experienced that,” Gopee said.

“Every day, I thank God for the blessings He has bestowed upon me. I am left with a loving and big family, friends, help, a happy home, and a career that is beyond anything that I ever dreamed of as a little girl,” she continued.

“This nomination is life changing for me and my family, and it is equally life changing for my community and for others who look and sound like me.”

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