Hundreds of School Cafeterias Flunk City Health Inspections

By Myles Miller

Hundreds of city schools aren’t making the grade, flunking city health inspections, a NY1 investigation found.

The worst offenders?

I.S. 227 in Queens, one of the borough's most sought-after schools. Health Department Inspectors found 140 mouse droppings there, including in the students' dining area.

There was moldy watermelon at P.S. 277 in the Bronx, and at PS 42 in Queens, moldy green beans.

In all, inspectors last year found roaches crawling on 99 lunchroom floors, fruit flies in 80 cafeteria kitchens, and in 22 drains, flies where serving utensils are washed.

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Swastikas found at Queens school, Cuomo orders State Police hate crimes task force to investigate

By Ben Chapman

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered State Police to help find the vandals who scrawled dozens of Swastikas and other anti-Semitic symbols and “Hail Hitler” in a Queens schoolyard.

The Nazi symbols and slogan were discovered on Friday at Public School 139 by a school custodian who reported it to the NYPD, Education Department officials said.

"I am appalled and disgusted by the Swastikas and other anti-Semitic symbols of hate that were scrawled in a Queens schoolyard,” Cuomo said in a statement on Sunday.

"In New York, we have zero tolerance for such vile acts of anti-Semitism. I am directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to immediately assist the NYPD in the investigation of this hideous act and hold those accountable to the full extent of the law.”

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NYPD investigating anti-Semitic graffiti on Queens elementary school playground

The NYPD is investigating anti-Semitic graffiti that was scrawled all over an elementary school playground in Queens. 

The disturbing discovery was made Friday afternoon at PS 139 in Rego Park. 

Swastikas and terms including "Hail Hitler" and "No Jews Allowed" were discovered scribbled in chalk. 

The Anti-Defamation League called the graffiti horrifying and said the NYPD Hate Crimes unit is investigating. 

Councilman Chaim Deutsch released the following statement: 

"Yet another act of anti-Semitism in our City brings the total of anti-Semitic Hate Crimes in our city to nearly 50 since the start of the new year. This has gotten completely out of hand. I urge Mayor de Blasio to immediately implement mine and Councilmember Mark Levine's bills that recently passed in the City Council, which would require educational outreach to teach about the impact of hate, bias, and anti-Semitism." 

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New Amtrak Billboard Will Block WaHi River View, Pols

By Brendan Krisel

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NY — Washington Heights residents and elected officials are angry at Amtrak for constructing a billboard over its tracks that may ruin views of Fort Washington Park and the Hudson River.

Local City Councilman Mark Levine sent a letter to the transit company this month demanding that all work a billboard at West 155th Street between Riverside Drive and the West Side Highway be stopped until a proper public outreach campaign is completed. Borough President Gale Brewer and Congressman Adriano Espaillat signed onto the letter.

"There is absolutely no basis for this construction of a billboard that will fundamentally alter the skyline of the neighborhood and be a massive detriment to the beautiful views that our community has always been able to enjoy," Levine wrote in the letter.

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Fact Sheet On The Measles Outbreak in Orthodox Jewish Communities in Brooklyn

The Health Department announced Thursday that it has identified 17 cases of measles in the last week.

The Department has confirmed 90 total cases of measles in Brooklyn since early October. Eight of the 17 newly reported cases were identified after the fact of their illness because they had not sought medical care at the time of their symptoms. The additional 9 cases were diagnosed in February. Two of the newly reported cases are located in Borough Park, and 15 are in Williamsburg.

To further protect the community during this outbreak, the Health Department is expanding vaccination recommendations for providers serving the Orthodox Jewish community to include an early, extra dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for children between the ages of 6 months to 11 months who live in Williamsburg and Borough Park. The Health Dept is working with the affected community, schools, and healthcare providers to prevent contact between unvaccinated children and individuals who might have been exposed to measles.
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BYOC: Council bill would let New Yorkers bring their own cups to stores and coffee shops

By Will Bredderman

Councilman Mark Levine wants to see more muggings—but only in bodegas, corner stores and coffee houses.

Levine introduced a bill Wednesday to create a "right to reuse," obligating every storefront java hawker in the city to post a sign informing customers that they can use their own cup. This, the Upper Manhattan councilman asserted, would encourage caffeine fiends citywide to bring their own mugs from home, reducing the number of disposable containers littering city streets and decomposing in landfills.

"Many coffee shops have policies that don't allow environmentally conscious consumers to get their own reusable containers filled up," Levine said in a press release. "This bill is a simple, cost-saving solution, that will empower New Yorkers to reduce their carbon footprint."

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Councilmembers Demand Diaz’s Resignation

By Matt Tracy

Local elected officials and advocates braved the snowy conditions outside City Hall on Tuesday morning to demand the resignation of Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr., who remains defiant in his refusal to step down or even apologize for his recent homophobic remarks.

“We must all call for his resignation, and he must go,” said out gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, who said Diaz’s comments about LGBTQ folks controlling the City Council represented “an attempt to put us in our place.”

“I believe firmly that Councilmember Diaz’s comments embolden those who already hate us,” he added. “So we are not just speaking out against those comments, we are speaking for those LGBTQ youth in the Bronx or otherwise who might be struggling with their sexual orientation or identity. His comments cannot be internalized by them.”

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Ruben Diaz, Sr., Spews Homophobia About Corey, Council

By Matt Tracey

Bronx City Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr., a notoriously homophobic lawmaker, is under fire for making homophobic comments last week about the City Council and its openly gay speaker, Corey Johnson — and he’s still refusing to cave in to his colleagues’ demand for an apology.

“When I get to the City Council, I find that the City Council is controlled — most councilmembers out of 51 councilmembers — over there, everybody is controlled by the homosexual community,” he said during a Spanish-language program known as “El Desahogo,” according to NY1 News.

The conservative Democrat, who returned to the City Council last year after spending more than a decade in the State Senate, also said Johnson is a “homosexual” and falsely stated that he is married to another man. He later said he “misspoke” when he said Johnson is married, but stood by his other comments.

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The $238 Million Penthouse Provokes a Fierce Response: Tax It

By Jeffery C. Mays

For the last five years, a bill that would create a so-called pied-à-terre tax in New York has languished in the State Legislature, where proposals for new taxes often go to die.

But after Kenneth C. Griffin, a hedge fund billionaire with an estimated net worth of $10 billion, added to his personal real estate portfolio last month by closing on a $238 million apartment on Central Park South, things may soon be different.

The record purchase — surpassing the cost of the next most expensive home in the United States by more than $100 million — was a stark reminder that when wealthy buyers like Mr. Griffin purchase expensive apartments as second homes or investments, New York City and the state get less financial benefits. If the buyers live out of state, they are not subject to state or city income taxes, and do not pay New York sales tax while outside the state.

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City Budget Gives Buses A Key Boost at Intersections

By David Meyer

New York City buses are getting an extra shove across the finish line — er, intersection.

The city’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget allots $2.66 million annually through 2023 to upgrade 300 intersections per year with transit signal priority — a technology that holds green lights and shortens red lights for approaching buses.

It’s a major win for transit advocates, who had previously admonished the city for the slow pace with which it rolled out the technology, known as TSP among transportation insiders. Mayor de Blasio teased the accelerated rollout in his State of the City speech in January.

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