<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usFri, 26 May 2017 23:23:33 -0400Fri, 26 May 2017 23:23:33 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Tells Rescuers Giant Fish Pulled Him Into Harlem River]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 23:18:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/harlem+river+fish+pulls+drunk+man.jpg

A slippery step -- or perhaps the tug of a giant fish -- sent a fisherman plunging off the East River Greenway and into the Harlem River, where he was eventually rescued by the FDNY. 

The 60-something-year-old man told rescuers he was fishing around 5 p.m. Friday when a large fish pulled on his line and yanked him off the greenway. But friends say alcohol may have played a role and the man later said he slipped and fell while casting the line. 

Chopper 4 was flying overhead, just south of East 120th Street, as the man dangled half-submerged, clinging onto a tree branch thrown out by his friends. 

One of the man's friends, Alejandro Garcia, described the terrifying ordeal. 

"When he threw the fishing pole in the water, he went with it, all the way down," Garcia said in Spanish. 

"We got the branch and then he was holding it, we tried to get him up, but we couldn't do it." 

Garcia said his friend was in the water for more than 15 minutes. Onlookers and police watched from above as he continued to dangle, waiting to be rescued.

An FDNY crew heading to save him got stuck in holiday weekend traffic, but luckily for the man, an FDNY boat was nearby. 

Just as it seemed a current might pull the man away, in swooped the boat from the FDNY's Marine Company 4.

Three firefighters on board -- Ed Poli, Harry Callahan and Andrew Antoni -- pulled him out of the water about five minutes after the call went out. 

"We were able to bring our boat right against the seawall and butt up against the seawall," FDNY Lt. Ed Poli said. "Myself and fireman Antoni were able to grab the individual and pull him onto the boat." 

The man was so relieved to be rescued, he blessed himself with the sign of the cross. 

He was rushed to a hospital for observation and released Friday night with a bruise to his knee. He told News 4 that he slipped while tossing his fishing line into the water. 

But Poli said the man talked about having a big fish -- "an 'Old Man and the Sea' type of thing," as he described it. 

Either way, it was a happy ending to a fishing story in which three firefighters ended up with the biggest catch of all. 

"It's just another day at the office," Antoni said. 

<![CDATA[Empire State Building Lights up for Memorial Day]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 21:54:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/empire+state+building+memorial+day.jpg

The Empire State Building lit up red, white and blue on Friday evening in honor of Memorial Day weekend. 

<![CDATA[Memorial Day Deals for Vets and the Military 2017]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 22:48:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/0526115+american+flag+generic+usa.jpg

Members of the military and veterans already get discounts at stores, but as we pay respect to their service on Memorial Day, there are even more (to go along with all the other sales you'll find in stores).

Check out some of what's out there in the tri-state: 

Eyemart Express: Veterans, active duty military and their dependents can get free eyeglass frames and 20 percent off purchases through June, with a voucher available here.

Hooters: All members of the military, current and former, can get a free entree on Monday at the chain restaurant if they present their military ID. Read more.

General Motors: Eligible service members can get $500 in a purchase bonus when they buy new Chevrolet vehicles, the 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 or the 2017 Buick Encore.

McCormick and Schmick's Seafood & Steakhouse: Members of the military and National Guard, veterans and Gold Star honorees can get a free entree from the high-end chain's Memorial Day menu, with military ID. Read more.

Outback Steakhouse: Military personnel and their families can get 15 percent off their meal, excluding alcohol, through July 4 if they present military ID, wear their uniform or otherwise identify themselves.

Walgreens: The drug store chain is offering a 20 percent discount on eligible items to veterans and active-duty military personnel and their families who have a Walgreens Balance Rewards card and military ID or proof of service. "Memorial Day is an opportunity to pay tribute in this small way to their service, commitment and sacrifice, for which we at Walgreens are deeply grateful," Walgreens executive Richard Ashworth said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Detective, Son of Mayor, Accused of Taking Drug Evidence From PD]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 15:19:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Stephen+Rilling+mug+shot.jpg

Fairfield police detective Stephen Rilling, the son of the mayor of Norwalk, is accused of taking drug evidence from the Fairfiield police department and the mayor released a statement saying his son has a substance abuse problem brought on by a prescription for pain medication.

Detective Stephen Rilling, 40, was arrested after an investigation into the misappropriation of drug evidence between June 2016 and February of 2017. The investigation has been going on for several weeks, according to the Fairfield Police department. 

Police said the allegations of inappropriate actions came to the department’s attention on April 12 and Detective Rilling was placed on administrative leave pending the results of an ongoing internal investigation. Then, police launched a criminal investigation with the state’s attorney’s office.

“Like too many other families in Connecticut, my son and our family are facing the effects of the opoid epidemic that is sweeping our state,” Mayor Harry Rilling said in a statement. 

“In the past few weeks I learned that my son has a substance abuse problem brought on by prescription pain medication. He has accepted responsibility for his situation and is in therapy. We are proud of the way he is facing this problem and will continue to stand by him as he works toward recovery. 

“We are a family who believes in the power of prayer. With prayer and hard work, Steve will get healthy and will move on with his life. This is a personal matter for our family and I will have no further comment,” the statement from the mayor says. 

Stephen Rilling has been charged with third-degree computer crime, larceny in the second degree, forgery in the second degree, possession of narcotics, false entry by an officer or agent of a public community and tampering with evidence.

He was processed and released after posting a $5,000 court-imposed bond.

Fairfield Police Chief Gary McNamara did not comment on what Stephen Rilling did with the evidence taken, but said more than 20 cases might be affected.

Police said the chief ordered an audit of the evidence room and revealed that, with the exception of these cases, all other evidence was accounted for and no money or other items of value were ever removed.

Photo Credit: Fairfield Police]]>
<![CDATA[City Employees in Mount Vernon Can't Cash Paychecks]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 20:48:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/120916+cash+money+generic.jpg

City employees in Mount Vernon are missing paychecks because of insufficient funds in the city's payroll account, the mayor says. 

Mayor Richard Thomas told News 4 that a transfer mistake left at least 10 city employees unable to get paid on Friday. But there are 700 full-time employees, and many are off for the holiday weekend -- so they may not have tried to cash their checks yet. 

The Department of Public Works commissioner was one of the employees who couldn't deposit his paycheck. 

"I tried to cash my own check, it was a glitch," said Frank Palone. "They would say the checks would just bounce." 

Thomas said he is "investigating this serious matter as many hard working families are seeking their hard earned dollars ahead of Memorial Day weekend." 

City Comptroller Maureen Walker, who's been in office for 24 years, said the payroll problem was a computer upload delay when she moved more than $1 million from city coffers into the payroll account. 

"There was a time lag," she said. "Unfortunately it took a little longer this pay period." 

Thomas blamed Walker's "mismanagement" for the bounced checks and pointed to a 2015 audit from the state comptroller urging Mount Vernon to go digital like other cities.

"Operating by paper and pencil is unacceptable," he said. 

The comptroller says 80 percent of city employees use direct deposit: "You cannot force anyone who doesn't want direct deposit." 

Walker accused Thomas of targeting her as she runs for re-election this year.

"Get over your obsession with me and do the work you're supposed to be doing," she said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Brown Tide Hits Long Island Waters]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 20:50:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Brown_Tide_Hits_Long_Island_Waters.jpg

Brown tide has left some waters on Long Island the color of a cup of coffee. This year's outbreak has hit early -- the earliest since 2008. The bacteria isn't dangerous to humans, but pollution helps cause it. Greg Cergol reports.

<![CDATA[Trump Budget Plan May Mean More Toll Roads in NJ]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 20:46:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/More_Tolls_Possible_in_NJ_as_Part_of_Trump_Budget_Plan.jpg

Under the Trump administration, I-78, I-80 I-287, I-95 and I-295 could become toll roads. Lori Bordonaro reports.

<![CDATA[Party Boat Problems in Sheepshead Bay]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 20:41:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Party_Boat_Problems_in_Sheepshead_Bay.jpg

People in one Brooklyn neighborhood say the city needs to crack down on boozy party boats that are sinking the quality of life in their neighborhood. Some are even fleeing the area ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Erica Byfield reports.

<![CDATA[Man Fights Murder Conviction Linked to Scarcella]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 20:40:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Man_Fights_Murder_Conviction_Linked_to_Scarcella.jpg

A man says he was wrongfully convicted in a shocking crime: the murder of a 4-year-old girl. Sundhe Moses says he was forced to confess by former NYPD detective Lou Scarcella, who's found himself under investigation. Rana Novini reports.

<![CDATA[Final Rest for Fallen New Jersey Marine]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 23:21:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Final_Rest_for_Fallen_New_Jersey_Marine.jpg

While the nation honors servicemen and women lost in battle, David Ushery is with a New Jersey family as they lay to rest fallen Marine 1st Lt. William C. Ryan Jr., almost 48 years to the day after his fighter jet was shot down over the jungle in Laos.

<![CDATA[Trump to Set Up 'War Room' to Deal With Russia Questions]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 17:38:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tru4AP_171015770945195.jpg

The White House is preparing to establish a "war room" to combat questions about ties between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign, Reuters reported.

The news agency cited administration officials and people close to Trump.

When Trump returns from an overseas trip, the administration will add experienced political professionals and possibly lawyers to handle the Russia probe, which has gained new urgency since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to head the investigation, the sources told Reuters.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[ConEd Says No UES Power Outage, Despite Reports]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 17:58:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/upper+east+side1+-+Copy.jpg

Con Edison said there appears to be no power outage on the Upper East Side, despite reports on social media. 

"No outages reported, but we had a voltage disturbance from a transmission line that went out. System okay," ConEd spokesman Mike Clendenin said. 

Clendenin said people may have noticed a dip Friday afternoon. 

The utility will continue to check for outages, but "so far nothing yet," Clendenin said. 

There were a number of reports on social media of people stuck on elevators because of the possible outage. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Man Punches 2 Women at Coney Island Subway: Police]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 17:02:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/punchassaultconeyisland.jpg

A man punched two women at the Coney Island subway station, knocking one of them out, authorities said.

The man attacked the women during an argument at the Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue station last Saturday, police said.

He allegedly punched a 20-year-old woman in the face, knocking her out, and then punched the other woman, also 20, in the neck, leaving a gash. 

The woman who was knocked out was taken to Maimonides Hospital, where she was listed in stable condition. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Delays on LIRR Babylon Branch After Train Hits Person]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 16:24:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/LIRR+jamaica2.jpg

The LIRR resumed service through Sayville on Friday evening after a person was struck by a train, but riders heading out of the city should expect significant delays.

Service was suspended between the Babylon and Patchogue stations on the Babylon branch after a person was struck sometime before 3 p.m.

Service resumed on one of two tracks shortly after 4 p.m.

Extensive delays were reported on the branch, with a 2:29 p.m. eastbound train from Babylon running 80 minutes behind schedule.

LIRR said residual delays were averaging around 45 minutes.

Photo Credit: AP/File]]>
<![CDATA[American Shot in Istanbul ID'd]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 01:20:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/William+Jacob+Raak_21997574.jpg

A Delaware business owner celebrating New Year's Eve in Istanbul said he survived a massacre at a nightclub there by playing dead after being shot in the leg. 

"I was shot on the ground," William Jacob Raak told NBC News. "He was walking on a bench above my head." 

Raak, who goes by the name Jake, said that he didn't move after being wounded. 

"I just let him shoot me," Raak said. "You just have to stay as calm as you can ... I took a bullet." 

The Islamic State group on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack at the Reina club which killed 39 people and wounded nearly 70. The group described Turkey as "the servant of the cross" and also suggested it was in retaliation for Turkish military offensives against ISIS, The Associated Press reported. 

Raak, who lives in Greenville and is originally from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, was visiting Istanbul with his friends, his brother Michael told NBC10 Philadelphia. Raak is the only U.S. citizen confirmed to be injured in the shooting so far, according to the State Department. 

He was one of the estimated 600 people celebrating New Year’s at the popular nightclub around 1:15 a.m. Sunday -- getting bottle service in the VIP section -- when a man armed with a long-barreled weapon shot and killed a civilian and policeman, then entered the club and opened fire. 

"I was shot in the f****** leg man," Raak said while being carted off into an ambulance in a video obtained by NBC News. "These crazy people came in shooting everything!" 

Raak later calmly spoke from the hospital.

"Somebody said that there were shots fired and I initially did not believe it until I saw the gunman and he started shooting up the whole place," Raak told NBC News. 

Raak’s brother, Michael Raak, who lives in South Philadelphia, told NBC10 his brother had just celebrated his 35th birthday in Istanbul four days prior to the shooting. Michael received a phone call from his brother around 7:30 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve after the attack took place. 

"We were setting up for New Year’s and then I got the phone call," Michael Raak said. 

Michael Raak told NBC10 his brother’s cellphone likely saved him from a more serious injury.

"When he got shot the bullet hit his phone," Michael told NBC10. "It went from his hip to his knee but the bullet didn’t hit any major arteries." 

Raak called himself "the luckiest person in the whole thing" considering he was surrounded by dying people.

Doctors removed the bullet, Raak said. 

Jake Raak was discharged from the hospital and returned home Monday evening.

"Everyone’s just happy he’s alive and getting home pretty quickly," Michael said. 

Raak’s friend, who is from Dubai, was also shot in the shoulder during the attack but is expected to recover.

Turkish police detained eight people in connection with the attack but continued to search for the gunman on Monday, the AP reported.  

Photo Credit: NBC News
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<![CDATA[Mom of Newborn Found in Bushes Goes to Police]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 13:23:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/zaytuna-grocery-store-danbury.jpg

The mother of a newborn boy found abandoned behind a Danbury, Connecticut, grocery store on Sunday has gone to police after authorities said they were looking for her.

Officers had been looking for her since they received a 911 call around 11:30 p.m. Sunday from someone who found the baby wrapped in women's clothing behind the grocery store at 397 Main St.

The newborn was taken to the hospital and police set out to find the mother, who they feared might need medical attention or could be the victim of a crime herself.

Police released photos of some of the articles of clothing found with the baby; markings on a blue T-shirt were integral in the investigation, police said.

The mother walked into the Danbury police station just after 12:30 a.m. Friday, and was taken to Danbury Hospital to be treated.

Police have not released any additional information on her.

The baby remains in the hospital, where he is in good health. He is in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families, which will determine where the baby will end up.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[The 2nd Best Burger in All of America Is in NYC, Review Says]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 14:17:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/best+burger+generic.jpg

If you're salivating over the thoughts of juicy, perfectly grilled burgers this Memorial Day weekend, you may want to let someone else make it for you -- and we've got a couple options in mind. 

Thrillist has released its list of the 100 best burgers in America, and 13 in the tri-state area make the cut. Here they are in descending order (spoiler alert: we're home to the second best burger in the country, according to Thrillist's national burger critic Kevin Alexander, who spent the last year eating). 

No. 79: Red Hook Lobster Pound, 284 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY -- You may not think a place known for lobster rolls would also have superior hamburgers, but you'd be wrong. According to Alexander, the Hook Burger at this joint draws quite a crowd.

No. 77: JG Melon
, 89 MacDouglas Street, New York, NY -- Alexander says this is the ultimate classic burger, served in an ambiance rife with watermelon pictures and statues. Sounds special. 

No. 74: Ted's Restaurant, 1046 Broad Street, Meriden, CT -- Ted's has been serving "award-winning steamed cheeseburgers" for more than 50 years, the restaurant's website says. It's called "The Everything," and it comes with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, salt and pepper, ketchup, mustard and mayo. And according to Alexander, there's a reason the shop's been around so long. 

“On its face, a steamed cheeseburger kind of seems like a bad idea. You can't get a sear, you cook all the meat the same temperature, it sounds weird when you say it, etc. But sitting on a barstool at the counter of this tiny joint in a little pocket of central Connecticut and biting into the glory of Ted's cheeseburger made me a true believer,” the review says.

No. 69: Rose's, 295 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY -- If you're going to hit up this neighborhood bar, try the hamburger with gruyere. Alexander bills it quite simply as "the best backyard burger you could never make." 

No. 62: Bar Sardine, 183 W. 10th Street, New York, NY -- It's called the Fedora Burger -- and you should try it. It has crispy potato strings. Need we say more? 

No. 60: Ruby's Cafe, 219 Mulberry Street, New York, NY -- Bronte, Blueys, Bells, Whaleys, Coogee and Bondi. Yep, those are the names of some of the burgers at this Australian-influenced SoHo (there's also a location in Murray Hill) restaurant. No doubt delicious, Alexander says the joint's classic cheeseburger is the best of them all. It comes with premium ground beef, lettuce, tomato, American cheese and "special sauce." Intriguing. 

No. 50: Wilma Jean, 345 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY -- This restaurant's homepage greets web visitors with a simple message: Fried Chicken. Cold Beer. Seven Days a Week. But it's got way more than that. Alexander recommends the single burger with American cheese, and it's just as simple as the website. As Alexander says in his review, "It really needs nothing else." 

No. 41: The Happiest Hour, 121 W. 10th Street, New York, NY -- This restaurant is the child of Acme's Jon Neidich and veteran New York bartender Jim Kearns (formerly of the NoMad Hotel and Pegu Club). And at The Happiest Hour, you want to try The Happiest Burger, Alexander says. Its double patties are accessorized with confit onions, pickles and, yes, a special sauce. 

"I now fully understand why everyone sprints to this bar at 5pm on the dot," Alexander writes.

No. 39: Emmy Squared, 919 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY -- The Le Big Matt at this restaurant is already one of Instagram's most famous burgers, Alexander says, and adds that it's worth the hype. The spicy aioli makes it unique. 

No. 34: Boilermaker, 13 First Avenue, New York, NY -- Thrillist's Alexander is a fan of the simplicity of this one basic single burger with American cheese. "They don't make you do a Boilermaker when you walk into this bar, but they should make you eat the damn burger, which features secret and special spices that elevate it above most other bar burgers anywhere," his review says.

No. 25: Grindhaus, 275 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY -- Try the Haus Burger, which comes with house-made pickles, American cheese and its own special sauce. Alexander says all of that "teamed up to attack my taste buds Captain Planet-style, melding together in beefy, salty, (porky, maybe?), creamy glory with just enough acid to keep balance."

No. 12: The Brindle Room, 277 E. 10th Street, New York, NY -- The East Village gastropub is known for serving American comfort food in shareable small plates, but you probably want to keep the Sebastian's Steakhouse Burger all to yourself. Caramelized onions are a perfect combination of crunch and rich flavor, the bun doesn't get soggy and the patty itself has some exciting "peppery elements," Alexander says. 

No. 2: Raoul's, 180 Prince Street, New York, NY -- Remember, we're talking about the best 100 burgers in the nation, here. According to Alexander, Raoul's Burger au Poivre, with St. Andre and pommes frites, is second only to "Nick's Cheeseburger With Grilled Onions" at Stanich's in Portland, Oregon.

Alexander described his experience at Raoul's as nearly religious.  

Straight from his review: "Raoul's makes the best non-diner burger in America. The brisket-heavy patty is seared like a steak, giving it a thick crust dotted with peppercorns and salt. If it'd then just added the rich triple-cream Saint-André and called it a day, this burger might be up with the rest of the hyper-fancy custom LaFrieda patties. But Raoul's recognizes balance perhaps better than 99% of the country, and so it adds thinly sliced red onions, cornichons, and some peppery greens to give it acid, bite, and some extra peppery elements. The challah bun is squishy and chewy and does not fold in the face of intense moisture. And the cream-and-cognac au poivre sauce served on the side makes for one of the all-time best dipping sauces, if you truly want to go for it."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Even Bleecker Street Stores Can't Keep Up With Rent: Senator]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 15:10:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/empty+storefront+nyc.jpg

Even Bleecker Street can't keep up with rising rents.

Eighteen percent of retail spaces along Bleecker Street from Sixth to Eighth avenues in Greenwich Village -- a popular shopping corridor -- remain vacant, according to a report released by Democratic state senator Brad Hoylman, who represents parts of Manhattan. 

"Bleecker Street is a cautionary tale of how high rents in the Village and Chelsea are pushing out longtime independent business," Hoylman said.

While empty storefronts are traditionally considered signs of economically distressed or even crime-ridden neighborhoods, vacancies in the fairly prosperous areas of West Village, East Village and Chelsea indicate another phenomenon, according to Hoylman: "high-rent blight." 

"In case after case, landlords push out local businesses in order to hold out for luxury retail or corporate chains capable of paying higher rents," Boylman said. "The result is a glut of empty storefronts, chain stores, pharmacies, and high-end national brands that often lack local character and don't provide goods and services the community needs." 

Hoylman's office conducted a study of vacant retail spaces along major commercial streets in downtown Manhattan last month. They compared the number of vacant storefronts to the total number of stores along the corridors, determining the following vacancy rates:

  • First Avenue from 10th Street to 23rd Street: 5.76 percent vacancy
  • Second Avenue from 3rd Street to 14th Street: 6.67 percent vacancy
  • Eighth Avenue from 15th Street to 22nd Street: 6.52 percent vacancy
  • Bleecker Street from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue: 18.44 percent vacancy 

His report -- which he admits relies heavily on anecdotal evidence from interviews with small business owners and community leaders, as well as press reports, and is not intended to be scientific -- says several factors are at play when it comes to store vacancy, but exorbitant rent was chief among them. 

"When mom and pop stores are pushed out, landlords will often leave stores empty for long periods of time in hopes of finding a tenant who can pay much higher rent," which often means large corporate chains, according to Hoylman. 

Hoylman says recent examples include the 2015 closure of Avignone Chemists at 281 Sixth Ave., on Bleecker, which is now a Sweetgreen salad chain eatery; the closure of men's clothing store Camouflage at 139 Eighth Ave. at 17th Street after 38 years in business, replaced by a Verizon retailer; and the forced move of neighborhood store Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, from its space at 163 West 10th St. to the East Village.

Hoylman argues that when stores leave, residents often lose access to goods or services, and they may start shifting their shopping habits into a different street or neighborhood, sometimes permanently. And as stores pay higher rents, goods and services are priced higher, prompting fears among residents that they'll be priced out of their own neighborhoods.

"For example, the Redwood Kitchenette & Bar at 102 8th Avenue near 16th Street used to serve $5 beers at its daily happy hour," said Hoylman. "Now the store is a Liquiteria, a juice chain where you can get a smoothie for $9."

He also believes the chains, pharmacies and high-end retailers taking over the spaces harm the local character and flavor of the neighborhoods.   

But Karen Bellantoni, vice chair of Robert K. Futterman & Associates, a retail broker who serves on the Real Estate Board of New York's retail committee, disagrees with the senator's conclusions.

"The local stores of [national chains] concide very well with the unique character of the neighborhoods," she told News 4. "If you ask any of these local retailers, they like the idea of having national coming in and do a concept so they drive traffic; they're a good draw."

"They're great local neighbors out there, and unique to the marketplace," she added. 

Bellantoni believes most landlords will do their best to keep great tenants in place in any given neighborhood, and that they tend to honor longtime relationships with them. 

She added that the market adjusts itself; the most recent REBNY Manhattan retail rent report from spring shows rents have actually declined. 

"Rents did get a little ahead of themselves. What we're seeing is landlords have actually lowered their asking rents in the [Bleecker Street area] in a little over 12 months," said Bellantoni. 

"I actually think landlords are in deal modes, that's what we saw from the retail report," she said. "They're in positions where they want to make deals and I think there's going to be an absorption." 

Hoylman says he wants to combat small business vacancies by creating a registry of local legacy businesses that could potentially merit tax credits; create a formula retail zoning restriction to place limits on national chain stores; phase out tax deductions for landlords with persistent vacancies and eliminate commercial rent tax on many small businesses. 

Photo Credit: Office of NY state Sen. Brad Hoylman]]>
<![CDATA[Dozens Hurt in Bus-Truck Collision on NJ Turnpike: Police]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 13:49:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/turnpike+accident1.jpg

A bus carrying people from New York to Atlanta collided with a tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike Friday, leaving nearly three dozen people with, miraculously, only minor injuries, police say.

At least 32 people were hurt in the 1 a.m. crash just south of Philadelphia, New Jersey State Police said. They were taken to various hospitals, but all are expected to be fine. 

There were 50 people on board at the time of the crash, authorities said.

The state police said that the passengers suffered minor injuries when the bus flipped on its side on the shoulder of the highway.

The bus is not a tour bus, officials said, but there were conflicting reports about the operator.

Another bus was sent from New York to pick up the stranded passengers.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Portraits of Those Mourned After the Manchester Arena Attack]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 14:56:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Manchester_Victims_Thumb.jpg

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<![CDATA[Air Force Probing Disrespect of John Glenn's Body Before Burial]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 15:35:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_16180065064814.jpg

The Air Force is investigating allegations that a mortuary worker at its base in Delaware made Defense Department inspectors an offer they refused — a peek at John Glenn's body before the astronaut and American hero was buried, NBC News reported.

It allegedly happened while Glenn's remains were at the Dover Air Force Base "pending his interment at Arlington National Cemetery on April 6, 2017," Air Force spokesman Col. Patrick Ryder said in a statement on Friday.

The worker was not identified.

Glenn died in December at age 95 in his home state of Ohio. Thousands of people filed into the Ohio Statehouse rotunda to pay their respects before Glenn's body was flown to Delaware.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sanitation Dept. Scours Trash for Woman's Missing Jewelry]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 20:36:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Trash16.jpg

The Dept. of Sanitation searched a heap of trash for a Staten Island woman's missing engagement ring and earrings, reports say. 

The department was contacted Thursday morning by Jennifer DeStefano about her jewelry, which she said was placed in the garbage that was put out for collection on Ocean Avenue, according to the Staten Island Advance.

"Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack," Dept. of Sanitation spokesman Vito Turso told the Advance. 

Less than 10 hours after they were reported missing, the ring and earrings were recovered during a 30-minute search at the Staten Island Transfer Station, the Advance reported. 

Photo Credit: Getty/File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Budget Cuts Funding for Calif. Quake Warning System ]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 21:48:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/186*120/05-26-2017-earthquake-early-warning-shakealert.JPG

Plans for a West Coast earthquake early warning system, designed to one day give notice of an imminent temblor, would likely be killed under President Donald Trump's proposed federal budget.

If approved, the White House plan for the fiscal year ending in September 2018 would eliminate funds needed to develop the system, which already has components in place in California. The system still needs an array of sensors before it can trigger early warning alerts a few seconds or minutes before the shaking.

The proposed budget calls for the elimination of $8.2 million to $10 million to end the USGS ShakeAlert early warning system. Funding would be cut to Caltech and other research institutions on the West Coast working with the USGS to develop the system. 

"We cannot stop now, just as monitoring stations are being built out and the system is expanding its reach," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California). "Support for the early warning system in Congress is sustained, growing and bipartisan, and we will not accept this attempt by the president to cut a vital funding stream for a program that will protect life, property and critical infrastructure."

Early warning systems like ShakeAlert are designed to detect the first shockwaves produced by seismic activity by using hundreds of ground motion sensors. In the case of a large jolt, the system would trigger an alert ahead of the larger, more damaging seismic waves.

The advance warning would allow office workers and schoolchildren, for example, time to duck and cover under desks. Just a few seconds of warning would allow train operators to apply brakes and doctors to prepare for shaking during surgeries. 

Automated systems mated to the early alert system could shut off gas lines, possibly limiting post-quake fire damage.

"I am deeply disappointed to see that President Trump's budget proposes to eliminate funding for earthquake early warning in the western U.S.," said Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist who worked for three decades with the U.S. Geological Survey at Southern California's Caltech. "Eliminating the $10 million per year that the government has been spending would stop the program and waste the $23 million that has already been invested.

"The talented scientists and technicians that are working on the project now will go to other jobs, so their experience and expertise would be lost. Many life- and money-saving measures would not be available when the next earthquake strikes." 

The Department of the Interior defended the cuts in a statement, saying the $922 million USGS budget "highlights the Administration’s commitment to increasing efficiency across the federal government." It said the agency will be able to monitor earthquakes using the existing Advanced National Seismic System, according to the statement.

"President Trump promised the American people he would cut wasteful spending and make the government work for the taxpayer again, and that's exactly what this budget does," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke,  in a statement issued about the USGS budget. "Working carefully with the President, we identified areas where we could reduce spending and also areas for investment, such as addressing the maintenance backlog in our National Parks and increasing domestic energy production on federal lands. The budget also allows the Department to return to the traditional principles of multiple-use management to include both responsible natural resource development and conservation of special places.

"Being from the West, I've seen how years of bloated bureaucracy and D.C.-centric policies hurt our rural communities. The President's budget saves taxpayers by focusing program spending, shrinking bureaucracy, and empowering the front lines."

Similar systems are already operating in other countries. In Mexico City, an early warning system in place since 1991 detects large quakes and determines locations and magnitude. The sprawling metropolis is several hundred miles from the main plate boundary, which means it can receive warnings more than a minute before shaking. 

The system was praised by experts, who said it provided the densely populated city with more than a minute of warning during a magnitude-7.2 earthquake in April 2014.

Japan has the most advanced early warning system. Initially developed to stop or slow the country's high-speed trains during shaking, the system was deployed nationwide. It features on- and off-shore sensors. 

Japan has issued public warnings through the system since 2007.

Photo Credit: ShakeAlert/USGS
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<![CDATA[Chinese Fighter Jets Intercept US Navy Plane Over Pacific]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 15:02:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/51900964-P3-Orion-J10-China.jpg

Chinese fighter aircraft intercepted a U.S. Navy plane a couple of hundred miles southeast of Hong Kong this week, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

A Chinese J-10 aircraft flew about 200 yards in front of the P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft, making quick and erratic turns, restricting the plane's ability to maneuver, one official said. The Navy deemed the actions "unsafe."

A third US defense official said the intercept took place Thursday over the South China Sea. There were two J-10 jets, the official said, and one came within 100 feet of the American plane.

The U.S. has in the past objected to China's expansion into the South China Sea, which sits between China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watch Tick Creep Toward Sleeping NJ Transit Rider's Ear]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 14:06:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tick+on+train+spot+shadow.jpg

A New Jersey Transit rider captured stomach-churning video of a tick crawling up a seat across a headrest, coming startlingly close to a sleeping man's ear.

News 4 viewer Kishauna DeCarmo says she was headed to Penn Station in New York from Newark Penn Station Tuesday morning when she spotted the creeping arachnid. 

"I thought it was a spider so I was kind of freaking out and I decided to videotape it just to show my friends," she told News 4 in an email. "But something about the light color on the top of it reminded me of a tick, which I've never seen in person." 

DeCarmo said she tried to warn the sleeping passenger as the tick crawled ever closer, telling him, "Hey, something is headed your way."

"I thought he would kill it. He looked at it and then he tried to touch it!" wrote DeCarmo. "I said, 'Are you petting it?!' He said, 'No, I don't think it's dangerous. I just don't want it it in my hair.'"

"He tried to pick it up a few times and then it dropped so I ran away," she said. 

Disease ecologist Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York, confirms the bug in the video is an adult female American dog tick, identifiable from the whitish spot behind the head. 

Dog ticks are capable of transmitting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia, but do not trasmit Lyme disease, he says.

"These dog ticks are good crawlers and can really motor," Ostfeld told News 4 in an email. "The most likely way they'd get on a train is by hitching a ride on a passenger, then getting brushed off the person or just dropping off. 

"They can't carry out their life cycle on a train, so any infestation won't last," he added. 

A spokesman for NJ Transit said in a statement, "NJ Transit rail cars are routinely cleaned and inspected every day, and we have had no other tick complaints. More than likely, this tick came from a passenger who boarded the train." 

"We encourage customers who see an insect or bug in our rail cars to report it to a crew member," the spokesman said. "In cases like that, the rail car is immediately taken out of service." 

Ostfeld says he thinks dog ticks seem to be particularly abundant this year, though that's just from personal observation.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a serious illness that can be fatal if not treated correctly in the first eight days of symptoms, which include fever, rash, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle pain, lack of appetite and pinkeye. Tularemia illness can range from mild to life-threatening, and all forms are accompanied by fever. 

Though the dog tick doesn't transmit Lyme, Ostfeld says the public should generally be aware that May through July is the high-risk season for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases because that's when nymphs are most active. 

The nymph stage is the middle stage of ticks, when the newly hatched babies -- called larvae -- take a blood meal from some mammal or bird, then drop off and molt into the nymph stage. The nymphs are tiny and responsible for most cases of tick-borne disease. 

"Use of repellents and permethrin-based sprays for clothing can help protect against tick bites," said Ostfeld. "Doing tick checks and removing any attached ticks quickly with a fine-tipped tweezers are important."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[$1.6K in Crack Cocaine Lands in Police 'Lost and Found' Box]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 12:34:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/crack+cocaine+pd.jpg

Police in northeastern Pennsylvania say they've put about $1,600 worth of crack cocaine in their "lost and found box" in hopes of reuniting the drug with its rightful owner. 

Local police posted on Facebook that the copious amount of crack was found in the parking lot of a shopping center outside Wilkes-Barre. 

In a post headlined "FOUND ITEM," police said anyone who would like to retrieve "the substantial amount of product from our lost and found box" was invited to come to headquarters. 

The owner should bring a picture of him or her holding the drugs, along with ID and a "written statement containing your claim to the crack," the post said. 

"We would hate to see you lose your job ... or even worse because you accidentally dropped the drugs in a parking lot where a kid could have found it," the post said.

Photo Credit: Handout
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<![CDATA[Family of Tourist Critically Hurt in Rampage: 'Thank You NY']]> Thu, 25 May 2017 17:41:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/family+pens+letter+to+city1.jpg

The family of a Canadian woman who was critically injured in last week’s deadly rampage in Times Square has penned a letter to “thank all New Yorkers for helping us get through these difficult moments.”

Elena Avetisian was visiting New York from Quebec with her three girls to celebrate a relative’s wedding when she was struck by a car allegedly driven by Richard Rojas; she remains in a coma at Bellevue Hospital, where her sister and husband remain at her side, the family said.

“Elena was excited to come to New York and show it to her children,” the letter reads. “The photos they took together in Times Square are our precious moments which are shared together. All of a sudden, our lives turned upside down.”

Police say 26-year-old Rojas plowed through a pedestrian-packed sidewalk for three blocks before hitting a barrier and being subdued by police and passersby.

Rojas told police after his arrest that he had been smoking marijuana laced with the hallucinogenic drug PCP, according to a criminal complaint. He said he wanted to "kill them all" and police should have shot him to stop him, prosecutors said.

Avetisian was one of 22 people injured in the crash, which also killed Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old woman from Portage, Michigan.

A New Jersey high school senior and another person were released from hospitals Tuesday, but five other victims are still hospitalized, including Avetisian, officials said.

Mount Sinai Health System said it released its last patient from the crash Tuesday afternoon. Avetisian is at Bellevue Hospital, where another patient is in serious condition. The hospital didn't release names or details of the victims’ injuries, but prosecutors have said they suffered head injuries, a collapsed lung and a broken pelvis.

“We had so much joy and now our sister is in a coma and there are no words that can ever describe our pain,” the letter from the Avetisian family reads.

“We can only say thank you! Thank you to the City of New York! Thank you to the NYPD for providing us with everything we need to be there for our sister.”

“We only wish that this city will never need to do this again and that there will only be peace here from now on. After all, this city deserves it,” the letter goes on to say.

A GoFundMe page set up by the Avetisian family had nearly reached its goal of $25,000 by Thursday evening.

Rojas was charged with murder and attempted murder, but has not entered a plea. He told the New York Post in a jail interview Saturday that he had recently sought psychiatric help, and that the last thing he remembers Thursday is driving his car before waking up in a police precinct.

Photo Credit: Avetisian Family/GoFundMe
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<![CDATA[Westchester Day Care Evacuated for Carbon Monoxide Probe]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 11:15:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DAYCARE+CENTER+EVACUATED+WHITE+PLAINS+LIVE+PIX+-+11080212_WNBC_.jpg

Authorities have evacuated a children's center in Westchester as they investigate possible carbon monoxide in the building. 

Fire trucks and other emergency personnel are responding at Lois Bronz Children's Center in Greenburgh.

There's been no indication that anyone has been overcome by carbon monoxide.

The building houses a nursey, a pre-school, pre-K and other children's programs, according to the website. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[17 Kids Taken to Hospital After School Bus, Truck Collide]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 12:58:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/school-bus-generic2.jpg

More than a dozen children were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after their school bus got into an accident with a commercial box truck in Queens Friday, authorities say. 

Police say 25 children were on the bus at the time of the 10 a.m. accident at Rockaway and Brookville boulevards. Seventeen of them were hurt, but authorities say they only suffered minor injuries. 

The bus operator wasn't immediately identified. It wasn't clear if the box truck driver was hurt. 

The cause of the accident is under investigation. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Steal! Bethenny Frankel Drops Asking Price for SoHo Digs]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 12:13:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/frankel+soho.jpg Bethenny Frankel has been looking to offload her luxurious SoHo apartment for months now. And the "Real Housewives" star has just dropped her asking price.

Photo Credit: Evan Joseph]]>
<![CDATA[Tots Trapped in Bounce House After Neighbor Unplugs It]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 12:36:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/florida-bounce-house.jpg

A Florida family was left with quite the deflated feeling after a neighbor was caught on video pulling the plug on a bounce house at a birthday party for a young child. 

Police released footage from outside a Port St. Lucie home on Sunday showing a man walk into the backyard, unplugging the attraction then walking back across the street.

Nearly a dozen kids between the ages of 2 and 3 were inside as the house started to fall on them. All were rescued by parents and adults.

"Chaos. Absolute chaos," the birthday girl's godfather, Glenn Hunt, told NBC’s "Today" show. "Some of the kids were crying. One of them actually was kind of traumatized by the incident. Another one when he was being removed, his leg got a little injured."

Police believe the man was trying to pull the plug to a DJ booth at the party instead of the bounce house. The man was identified, but police say he was uncooperative and has hired a lawyer.

It was not clear if he would face any charges. 

<![CDATA[School Buses Go Up in Flames in New Jersey]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 09:53:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bus+fire+toms+river.jpg

Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that consumed multiple school buses in New Jersey overnight.

Dramatic photos from the scene show at least two buses completely engulfed in flames. Toms River police say three buses were extensively damaged by the 2:40 a.m. fire on the south side of Route 37; a pickup truck had minor damage.

Officials say a police officer was on patrol along the highway when he smelled smoke. He searched the area and found the vehicles ablaze. Firefighters from two local companies responded and doused the flames. 

Police say the damaged vehicles are owned by the Toms River School District and were inside the transportation area at the time they caught fire. Officers remained at the scene Friday morning. Their investigation is ongoing. 

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[This Might Be the Weirdest NYC Burglary Haul Ever]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 08:36:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fondue+robber.jpg

A man broke into the basement of a Bronx apartment building earlier this month and made off with a rather odd haul -- two toy race cars, a milk shake machine and a chocolate fondue machine, authorities say. 

Cops say the suspect broke into the Walton Avenue complex late on May 11. Surveillance video shows him scaling the side of the building under the cover of night, and later walking away with a bag.

Police say he got into the basement through a window. No injuries were reported.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Ben & Jerry's Bans Same-Flavored Scoops in Australia]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 08:37:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/I+Dough+I+Dough+Ben+and+Jerrys.jpg

Ice cream purveyor Ben & Jerry's has joined Australia's fight for marriage equality, banning customers in the country from ordering two scoops of the same flavor.

The ban is part of a campaign to push for parliamentary action on marriage equality and covers all 26 Ben & Jerry's stores across Australia.

"Imagine heading down to your local Scoop Shop to order your favourite two scoops of Cookie Dough in a waffle cone. But you find out you are not allowed – Ben & Jerry’s has banned two scoops of the same flavour. You’d be furious! the Vermont-based company said in a statement on its Australian website. "But this doesn’t even begin to compare to how furious you would be if you were told you were not allowed to marry the person you love."

The company hopes the ban will encourage customers to contact their local lawmakers and demand marriage equality.

In Australia, over 70 percent of the population supports marriage equality, according to national polls. A push to legalize same-sex marriage last year through a referendum was blocked by the Senate over fears that campaigns against the issue "could endanger the LGBTQI community and wouldn't even guarantee marriage equality."

"Before the next parliamentary sitting on June 13th, it is time to stand up for fair and equal rights for all by letting our leaders know that we demand Marriage Equality!" Ben & Jerry's statement said.

And until then, "no marriage equality, no same flavor scoops."

Photo Credit: Courtesy Ben & Jerry's
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<![CDATA[LIRR Service Restored After Earlier Police Suspension]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 08:15:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/219*120/LIRR_train.jpg

The Long Island Rail Road suspended service in both directions on the Babylon and Montauk branches Friday morning due to police activity, and then restored it just minutes later. 

Multiple trains were nonetheless delayed or cancelled due to the line suspension. The nature of the police activity was not immediately clear. 

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<![CDATA[Thieves Net $800,000 in Jewels in Movie-Style NYC Heist ]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 20:58:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BROOKLYN+ROBBERY1.jpg

A 67-year-old jewelry store owner was left beaten and bloodied after a gang of thieves attacked him and robbed his store in downtown Brooklyn on Thursday evening, police and law enforcement sources said.

A law enforcement source says at least one of the four robbers dressed up in a construction vest and hard hat, while another is believed to have worn a coverall found discarded in the Borough Hall subway.

Three of the robbers entered the jewelry store on Court Street around 5:30 p.m., police said. Witnesses said one of the men had positioned himself outside of the store wearing a white hazmat suit and holding a sign that read "Danger asbestos. Men at work."

The robbers pistol-whipped the owner over the head before taking off with what witnesses describe as bags of loot.

Sources say the stolen goods, which included gold and cash, are valued at around $800,000.

The bloodied and injured owner chased the suspects, witnesses said, but the thieves ultimately got away. Photos provided by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle show the jeweler being wheeled away on a stretcher. 

The store owner was taken to Methodist Hospital with injuries to his head. Police said he is expected to be okay.

Police later found the hazmat suit nearby after the thieves fled the scene.

Back in February another jewelry store right around the corner, on Smith Street, was held up. The owner of that store also put up a fight, tossing candelabras at the robbers.

Police have not given any indication that the two robberies are connected.

Photo Credit: Brooklyn Daily Eagle]]>
<![CDATA[Traveling This Holiday Weekend? Get a Head Start]]> Fri, 26 May 2017 06:57:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC+TINY+CLEAN+AIRCHECK+0430-0500+-+04331627_WNBC_000000016402.jpg

Those who are traveling out of town this holiday weekend should give themselves some extra time. 

This Memorial Day weekend could be one of the busiest rushes for travelers in over a decade, experts say, and added security in the wake of the deadly blast in Manchester could slow things down even more.

AAA predicts at least 40 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home this holiday weekend, which is the highest travel volume for the last weekend of May in 12 years.

“I’d get a head start,” Richard Monk, who is traveling to Boston, said. “Make plans ahead of time. Avoid the traffic.”

Port Authority is making some warnings about security. It will be stepping up its security efforts, which comes on the heels of the deadly blast outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Random bag and vehicle checks are among the added security efforts, as well as extra personnel at the agency's bridges, tunnels and airports.