BROOKLYN – It’s finally Friday! There’s a lot that has happened this week, including rising COVID-19 numbers in our borough. Yes, you read that right—the pandemic has not ended. Please keep wearing your masks and remember to socially distance when you are outside. Yesterday we reported that two yeshivas were ordered to shut down by the Department of Health in Southern Brooklyn. Gravesend/Homecrest (6.0% infection rate), Midwood, (4.95), Edgemere Far Rockaway (4.08%), Kew Gardens (3.99%), Borough Park (3.53%), Bensonhurst/Mapleton (3.16%), Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (3.07%), Flatlands/Midwood (3.06%) and Williamsburg (1.67%) – all have seen significant growth in COVID-19 infection cases. And now, officials informed us that “regular inspections of all non-public schools within these clusters and their adjacent zip codes” will start today, and the city will be increasing enforcement of mask-wearing and social distancing. Gothamist wrote an article about Borough Park and how many residents are not wearing masks. You can read it here.
On Wednesday, the attorney general for Kentucky, Daniel Cameron, announced that none of the three police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor would be charged directly over her death, NPR wrote. One of the men was indicted for shooting into neighboring homes. As a result, protests emerged across the country, including at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Thousands of New Yorkers showed up, chanted, and peacefully marched across the bridge. You can see some of that coverage here and here and here.
How are we feeling about outdoor dining? It’s very popular and over 10,000 restaurants have been participating in the city’s Open Restaurants program. Just this morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on the Brian Lehrer Show that outdoor dining will be a permanent fixture in the city and will be year-long. You can read more about it here, but just to quickly sum it up, restaurants will be able to expand into parking spot spaces in front of adjacent storefronts if the other businesses agree to it. And for restaurants that conduct outdoor dining during the winter, their space has to be kept open to allow for airflow. If the space is enclosed, then they will have to adhere to a 25% capacity rule. Speaking of 25% capacity, indoor dining opens back up next week!
What’s going on with big cuts in funding? In December of 2019, de Blasio and NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced the roll-out of a program called the Indirect Cost Rate (ICR). The initiative would have put an estimated $54 million toward these indirect costs, helping human services organizations funnel more of their time and energy into providing food, housing, education, and other services for those in need, we reported. In preparation for the initiative, organizations had to go through audits and do significant financial reporting— much of it at their own expense—to calculate their indirect rates. But just recently, the mayor and speaker announced that they would be retroactively cutting that funding from the city budget for Fiscal Year 20— a major blow to human services organizations. You can read more about it here.
Do you remember that we have elections next year? Council Member Antonio Reynoso is running to be the next Brooklyn Borough President. If he wins, he’d replace Eric Adams, who’s term-limited and is running for mayor. Yesterday, Reynoso was endorsed by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and State Senator Julia Salazar.“These are tough times for New York City’s best borough. Between the pandemic, a reeling economy, systemic racism, and a continued assault from the White House on our values – everything we hold dear is under attack,” Reynoso said. “But Brooklyn’s diversity, creativity, and grit give us strength. To have the support of such fearless, progressive leaders from across our borough is inspiring and energizing, and I’m ready to take Brooklyn to the next level.” Do you know who you will be voting for?
Speaking of the Democratic party, while candidates refuse to accept money from sources they consider problematic—particularly the real estate industry— their party is a whole different story. In July, the Brooklyn Democratic Party released information about the money it received and spent in the first half of 2020. An analysis of those financial statements conducted by the political club New Kings Democrats last month found that the party has received significant funding from real estate developers and charter school advocates, has spent large sums of money on multiple consulting firms, and still retains over $200,000 in debt. Here’s where their money is coming from.
Here are some numbers for you: New York City’s unemployment is estimated by the NY State Labor Department to have been 16.3% in August, data released earlier today show. Last August, it was at just 4.2%, we reported. Earlier this week, the mayor announced that 9,000 managerial and unrepresented city employees will be furloughed for five days between October and March in an effort to save the city $21 million. These furloughs come a week after the Mayor announced that nearly 500 City Hall staffers including himself, would be furloughed for five days.
Have you bought a home recently? Well, home sales are surging in Brooklyn, the NY Times reported. “Brooklyn had a near-record number of contract signings, spurred by bargain hunting New Yorkers and pent-up demand from months under quarantine.” According to the report, there were 735 homes in Brooklyn that went into contract in August, which is a 38.7% increase from the same time last year. “The large jump in Brooklyn contract signings marks the first time that a borough has recorded year-over-year sales growth since February, before Covid-19 froze the market,” the Times wrote.