Videos Show Store Rampage by Protesters From Vigil

The police released two videos on Tuesday showing a disorderly group that descended on a Rite Aid store in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, on Monday night and wrought havoc inside after breaking away from a vigil for a teenager who had been killed by the police.

In the first video, above, at least three dozen, mostly young people can be seen streaming into the store, at 4102 Church Avenue, many of them pulling their sweatshirt hoods up as they enter, apparently an effort to be harder to identify. Several of the people can be seen hitting and shoving a man described by the police as a patron of the store.

In the second video, below, several people can be seen going behind the counter.

The police say some of the protesters tried to steal a cash register and hit a bystander in the head with a bottle. They scattered much of the store’s merchandise on the floor.

The group in the store had been part of a vigil organized by community leaders for Kimani Gray, 16, who the police said pulled and pointed a gun on two plainclothes officers on Saturday night. The officers responded by fatally shooting Mr. Gray.

The police asked anyone with information about the rampage in the Rite Aid to contact Crime Stoppers.

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Man Admits Stealing Fixtures From a Bronx Cemetery

A man accused of stealing brass fixtures from a Bronx cemetery pleaded guilty on Monday. The man, Louis Peduto, 56, admitted to taking items — a few doorknobs and at least one vent cover – found in a bag when he was caught by security guards Feb. 18, the Bronx district attorney’s office said.

In a deal reached with prosecutors, Mr. Peduto will enter a one- to two-year residential drug-treatment program. If he completes the program, the felony grand larceny charge he pleaded guilty to will be reduced to a misdemeanor. If Mr. Peduto does not complete the program, he will face jail time.

Early articles about the thefts placed the value of goods the cemetery reported stolen at $189,000, but prosecutors said they were able to link Mr. Peduto only to the objects found in the bag. The crime he pleaded guilty to, fourth-degree grand larceny, covers theft of property valued between $1,000 and $3,000.

The district attorney’s office said that Mr. Peduto confessed to using drugs since age 13 and struggling with addiction to cocaine and heroin, and that he has a history of drug-related misdemeanor arrests.

“The defendant has no prior felony convictions and a long history of addiction,” Steven Reed, a spokesman for the district attorney, said in a statement. “It was apparent that the addiction is what motivated his nonviolent criminal activity.”

Mr. Peduto’s lawyer, Cynthia Pong, did not respond to a call seeking comment.

Mr. Peduto was also accused by a City Room reader of having taken the tulip-shape solar-powered light he is seen holding in a photo released by the police from the grave of her son. In an interview last month at Rikers Island, Mr. Peduto denied the accusation.

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In Schools, a Water-Saving Program Begins With a Flush

The toilets in the boys’ room on the third floor of Bayside High School in Queens flush with a quick but powerful surge and then water gurgles back up into the bowl.

This might sound standard for a restroom, but since August, Bayside has been saving gallons of water with every flush of its 102 toilets.

Bayside is one of two New York City public schools in a pilot program to replace water-wasting toilets with new low-flow flushers. Within five years, 500 city schools are to have 40,000 toilets with new technology that should cut water consumption 70 percent and save four million gallons of water each day, or more than 700 million gallons a year, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

The new toilets send 1.2 gallons of water down the pipes each time they are used, a reduction from 3.5 to 4.5 gallons with the old toilets, Richard Fricione the building’s head engineer, said.

“Three hundred employees, 3,200 kids, and the building is open till 11 p.m. for community groups,” Mr. Fricione said. “That’s a lot of flushing.”

But the students do not see much of a change.

“I don’t really analyze the whole flushing experience,” Patryk Kostek, a Bayside junior, said one morning last month. “There’s no difference. I haven’t noticed any clogs or malfunctions.”

The new toilets are part of the Department of Environmental Protection’s preparations for the temporary shutdown of the Delaware Aqueduct in 2020. The 85-mile aqueduct, which carries water from north of the city, currently supplies more than half of the city’s public water but needs to be taken out of use for repairs, which may force the city to get water from more expensive sources.

The toilet project, part of a citywide effort to cut water consumption by 5 percent, is expected to be finished by 2018, at a cost of $31 million, the city says. The 500 schools involved are about 30 percent of the city total. The rest are not in the program because some are already slated for renovation and others have been deemed too small to be worth the effort; in any case, the city says it has time to address only 500 schools before the aqueduct project starts.

The pilot program at Bayside and the second school, Hillcrest High, also in Queens, helps gauge how long the rest of those restroom replacements will take, according to John Shea, head of the Department of Education’s facilities division.

“The biggest concern we had was the impact to the school and how disruptive it was going to be, because now you’re not just taking a fixture off the wall and replacing it with another one,” Mr. Shea said. “You’re jackhammering tile, in some cases, and drilling holes, and it’s not as easy as just replacing an existing unit.”

The toilets are able to get the job done with one-third the water thanks to improved bowl design, which allows more efficient emptying. Older toilets often have curvy tubes underneath that are harder to pass without the heft of gallons of water. Eddie Orlowski, one of the school’s engineers, pointed under a stall in the boys’ room to show that the new fixtures have a straighter shot to the sewer — fewer, gentler bends in the piping require less water to flush successfully.

To prepare for the Delaware Aqueduct’s dry spell, the city is working to add capacity to another aqueduct, the Catskill, and is seeking additional water sources, like wells in Queens. The toilet project and other conservation programs are hoped to ensure that New York will not have to turn to much costlier options, like buying water from New Jersey.

“Through these measures, we think we can make sure there are no shortfalls,” said Carter Strickland, the city’s environmental commissioner.

Students like Mr. Kostek said they were happy to oblige with their low-flow flushes. “It’s going to save a great deal of water, so I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

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What’s Your Stress Level?

Dear Diary:

This month at my annual checkup, I had the following exchange with my doctor:

Doctor: “What is your level of stress on a scale of 1 to 10?”

Me: “I have nothing in particular stressing me out at the moment, but I am a Russian Jew from New York.”

Doctor: “I’ll give you a 4.”


Read all recent entries and our updated submissions guidelines. Reach us via e-mail [email protected] or follow @NYTMetro on Twitter using the hashtag #MetDiary.

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At L.I. Overpass, New Rules Are Announced for Truckers

Tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles are prohibited from using parkways in New York, like the Jackie Robinson Parkway in Brooklyn and Queens and the Saw Mill River Parkway in Westchester County.

But inadequate GPS units sometimes lead truck drivers astray and onto these roads, causing accidents when trucks cannot fit beneath bridges — a problem that has persisted for years despite advances in technology.

On Monday, Senator Charles E. Schumer and federal officials announced new federal standards for GPS technology in the trucking industry at a news conference at the Eagle Avenue overpass of Long Island’s Southern State Parkway. The bridge has been struck at least 27 times by trucks that should not have been on the road, Mr. Schumer said.

“Eighty percent of all the trucks that get stuck under bridges are a result of using the wrong GPS,” Mr. Schumer said in a phone interview. Last year, there were 58 reported bridge strikes in New York City, according to the city’s Transportation Department.

The federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will now issue official recommendations for GPS systems approved for use in commercial trucks. The professional-level devices take a vehicle’s height, weight and contents into account and direct drivers away from prohibited roads, while consumer devices do not have that capability, Mr. Schumer said. The professional devices are more expensive, he acknowledged, but they will save truckers and taxpayers money in the long run by preventing damage to vehicles and infrastructure and by preventing traffic jams.

People renewing or applying for commercial driver’s licenses will also be required to take GPS training, Mr. Schumer said.

A 2011 report by the State Department of Transportation found that the most common city locations for over-height truck accidents included the F.D.R. Drive, which accounted for 87 percent of those incidents in Manhattan; the Belt Parkway, the site of 70 percent of Brooklyn’s total; and the Hutchinson River Parkway, where 60 percent of such Bronx collisions occurred.

The Westchester Avenue overpass of the Hutchinson River Parkway and the F.D.R.’s junction with the Gracie Mansion Tunnel at 88th Street are particularly notorious stretches, the report said. The problem also extends to the Hudson Valley, where 855 over-height truck accidents occurred from 1993 to 2011, and Long Island, which had 341 such accidents over the same period.

“In the Northeast, we’re particularly susceptible to this because many of the highways were built before trucks were a main mode of transportation,” Mr. Schumer said. “Many of them were built for recreational purposes, by Robert Moses and others.”

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Republican State Senators Indicate New Openness to Raising Minimum Wage

ALBANY – Republicans in the State Senate, who have resisted a push by Democrats to raise the state’s minimum wage, said on Monday that they were open to including a wage increase in the state budget proposal that lawmakers are negotiating.

The Senate’s majority coalition, made up of Republicans and an independent faction of Democrats, floated the idea of gradually increasing the wage to an unspecified amount from $7.25 per hour over the next three years.

The Senate has been the chief roadblock for raising the minimum wage, which has been a top priority for Democrats for more than a year. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, included a measure in his budget proposal that would increase the wage to $8.75 per hour, and the Democratic-controlled State Assembly passed a bill last week that would raise the wage to $9 per hour and tie it to inflation.

Republicans in the Senate, whose members make up the bulk of the coalition that controls the chamber, have resisted the proposals. They have argued that raising the minimum wage could hurt the state’s economy and spur employers to cut low-paying jobs.

But on Monday, the majority coalition raised the idea of a gradual increase, though it did not provide specifics. The proposal was included as part of the Senate’s budget resolution — essentially a blueprint that lays out the chamber’s priorities heading into the final stage of negotiations over the state’s new spending plan — that lawmakers adopted on Monday.

“What I said in our budget resolution is that I would consider it, along with other business tax credits and incentives,” the leader of the Senate Republicans, Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, told reporters after meeting with Mr. Cuomo and other legislative leaders. “I still think for a number of individuals, especially the young, that it could mean higher unemployment.”

The other leader of the Senate majority coalition, Jeffrey D. Klein, an independent Democrat from the Bronx, was considerably more optimistic. He said the inclusion of the wage proposal in the Senate’s budget resolution “absolutely” made him more confident that some version of a minimum-wage increase would be included in the budget that lawmakers adopt.

“We clearly have a lot of numbers, and I think it’s incumbent upon us now to consider what that perfect number is for minimum wage workers around the state,” Mr. Klein said.

Mr. Cuomo, speaking to reporters at a meeting with his cabinet, described the Senate’s move as “a sign of progress.”

“That means they are willing to discuss it in the budget,” he said. “Now the problem is we all have different minimum wage numbers. So that’s what has to be reconciled.”

Other Democrats, however, were not enthusiastic about the Senate’s proposal. A spokesman for the Senate Democrats, Mike Murphy, described the proposal as “not real,” citing the lack of details in the budget resolution. He called on the Republicans to drop their objections and allow Democrats — who have a numerical majority in the Senate — to vote immediately on a minimum-wage increase.

The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, was also unimpressed by the Senate’s proposal.

“The fact is, there’s no substance to it,” he said. “They don’t tell you what it is. They don’t tell you whether there’s indexing or not. So we really have no clue as to what they did.”

Lawmakers are required to approve a budget by April 1. This year, they are seeking to finish their work by March 21 in order to avoid conflicting with the observance of Passover and Easter.

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