Gramercy Tavern chef puts spotlight on vegetables in new cookbook

Michael Anthony, chef and partner at three restaurants in the Danny Meyer empire, at home (Photo by Maura McEvoy)

Michael Anthony, chef and partner at three restaurants in the Danny Meyer empire, at home (Photo by Maura McEvoy)

By Sabina Mollot
The executive chef as well as a partner at three Danny Meyer-owned restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, has just released a cookbook devoted to the art of cooking vegetable-based dishes.

For Michael Anthony, this book, V is for Vegetables: Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks from Artichokes to Zucchini ($25 at, hardcover), is his second. The first, published in 2012, was The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook.

This time, Anthony said he wanted to focus on dishes that, while not necessarily vegetarian, are cooked around vegetables, instead of relegating them to sides. Both he and Meyer will be discussing the so-called “vegetable forward” concept, now a norm at two of Meyer’s restaurants, at an event at Barnes & Noble on November 30.

Anthony also discussed the concept with Town & Village this week, saying the idea of the book was to make veggies enticing — and easy — for anyone to cook at home.

“V is for Vegetables is not about restaurant cooking,” said Anthony. “We all lead busy lives. It’s hard to work a full schedule and then have to get to a cutting board and cook for a hungry family. I have three kids and if it’s not done in 25 minutes, everyone’s upset.”
Additionally, he said, “Cleanup shouldn’t take more time than it took to cook the dinner.”
V is for Vegetables is not however, a vegetarian cookbook.

“Meat and fish are in some of the recipes to show it’s not a style of cooking that involves any deprivation,” he said. “It’s about pleasure, but vegetables dominate the idea.”
For Anthony, the effort to highlight vegetables came from wanting to prepare foods that were distinctly New York.

“For the last nine years at Gramercy Tavern we’ve been challenging ourselves to cook vegetables, which we consider a direct gateway to looking at how distinct eating can be in New York and in our region,” he said. “What’s different about eating in this city compared to all the other wonderful places we’ve eaten? How do we create lasting memories? At Gramercy Tavern, we do this in the main dining room menu using vegetables that are seasonal, not necessarily vegetarian but expressing our feelings of what it is distinct of here at this time and in this place. It’s not just an option out for people who don’t eat other stuff. If we talk about vegetarian, we’re talking about excluding some things we love to eat.”

In keeping with eating locally, shopping for groceries at greenmarkets or through a CSA is something Anthony recommends, adding that this can be done affordably with some planning.

“For less money than it takes to go to the supermarket, you can actually cook for your family using fresh food from the greenmarket,” he said. “People leave (the greenmarket) with a big heavy bag of vegetables. How do you then turn it into three meals instead of one recipe from a cookbook? We need to look at food not as a collection of recipes, but a continuation, a constant. That allows us to eat economically and healthily. There should be a continuation from the last meal. Re-purposing and preparing foods that make the next meal easier and faster.”

Anthony also delved into the subject of organic vs. inorganic vegetables and whether it really makes a difference.

“It’s a question I get all the time,” he said, adding that while “it is a big deal,” he feels buying locally grown produce is more important than whether an item is organic.

“The organic movement historically has always deserved our attention,” he said. “But we’ve been cheated as consumers. The American organic label has been so watered down, so twisted, it’s no longer a source of confidence. What I tend to do is encourage people to eat real food from close to home. If you buy at a farmer’s market you can ask questions and decide for yourself if you like how it’s grown without pesticides. It’s very expensive (for farmers to get organic certification) so I do not use the organic label as a reference point for making my decisions. The story of what it is to eat in the northeast is much more important to me than what its carbon footprint is or what its label is.”

Anthony is also a fan of CSAs (Community Sponsored Agriculture) and gets a box of produce from a CSA he belongs to every Friday.

Nov26 V is for VegetablesIn V is for Vegetables, he included recipes based on some of those items.

“People pull vegetables out of their CSA box and say what is this?,” he said. “I’m not sure everyone’s familiar with a Jerusalem artichoke or a kohlrabi.”

As for the latter vegetable, “Not only is it grown all over the northeast, it’s one of the most delicious things you can eat because it’s super crunchy and mouth watering, kind of like water chestnuts,” said Anthony. “You can throw it into a stir fry or cut it into wedges and roast it. Just the way a potato is irresistible when you take it out of the oven, kohlrabi is, and it’s not as starchy.”

He hasn’t forgotten about more traditional foods though. The book includes a recipe for coleslaw, which is actually inspired by a recipe from his wife’s grandmother.

“I make big batches of coleslaw so it’s easy to pull out for a quick lunch or a side dish with dinner. It’s a very practical dish.”

He couldn’t choose a favorite recipe but noted that in cookbooks the recipes that tend to get duplicated the most are soups. His favorite in that category is a soup made from carrots “with coconut and radish to make it zippy and exciting.”

Anthony is hoping that the ease of the recipes will help home cooks resist the urge to cater to picky eaters by making different things for different members of the family, or just giving up and ordering out.

He cited statistics that show Americans today eat more out of their kitchen than they do in their kitchen.

“We go to restaurants or order out more than we cook our own meals.” The veteran chef added that he recognizes that for many, himself included, “It takes courage to cook.

“If you’re the one to cook and put your ideas out there for your friends and family, you’re up for all kinds of criticism. I have three daughters and my white chef’s hat doesn’t mean a thing to them. We need people to be encouraged and confident so they’ll do it more often.”

In V is for Vegetables, over 140 recipes are laid out from A to Z, and also include colorful illustrations painted by Anthony’s wife, Mindy Dubin.

Dubin, Anthony and their children live in midtown Manhattan. When not there or at Gramercy Tavern, Anthony can also be found at Untitled, a new Danny Meyer restaurant at the Whitney Museum, as well as another less formal eatery in the same building, Studio Café.

Anthony will be discussing and signing copies of his book and speaking with Meyer at the Union Square Barnes & Noble, 33 East 17th Street, on Monday, November 30 at 7 p.m.

Sex offender busted at 30th St. shelter, Man arrested for ‘accidental’ shooting



Police arrested 45-year-old Carlos Leon for an unclassified felony inside the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Monday at 8 a.m. Police said that Leon is a registered New York State level 2 sex offender.

He was convicted of attempted sex abuse in the first degree by forcible compulsion on January 28, 2003 for sexual contact with an 11-year-old girl in 2000. After he was notified of his duties on March 8, 2013 and March 13, 2003, police said that he failed to notify the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services sex offender monitoring unit of a change of address within 10 days.


Police arrested 37-year-old Charles Dunwoody for assault and possession of a weapon last Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. at the 13th Precinct. Police said that Dunwoody was involved in a shootout with another person who wasn’t arrested that resulted in a woman receiving a gunshot graze wound to her inner right calf.


Police responded to a 911 call at 224 East 28th Street on Saturday at 10:05 a.m. Upon arrival, officers discovered a 27-year-old woman who was unconscious and unresponsive with no apparent signs of trauma. EMS responded and pronounced her deceased at the scene. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. Identity of the deceased is pending family notification. The investigation is ongoing.


Police arrested a teenager in front of 444 Second Avenue for burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of marijuana last Saturday at 2:28 a.m. Police said that the boy and another person who wasn’t arrested entered the residential building and stole property while the victim was still inside the apartment.

When the victim saw the intruders, they ran outside the building where two more people who weren’t arrested were waiting. Police tracked down one of the suspects using video surveillance and he was in possession of a stolen iPad from the burglary and was also in possession of a glass pipe containing marijuana.



Police arrested 35-year-old Mohamed Ibrahim for sexual abuse inside the Union Square subway station last Saturday at 12:10 p.m. Police said that Ibrahim was observed rubbing his groin on the victim’s buttocks on an uptown 5 train. Police said that Ibrahim and the victim did not know each other.


Police arrested 23-year-old Jesse Rivera for assault in front of Broadway Bags at 1179 Broadway last Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Rivera got into an argument with an employee at the store and allegedly punched the victim in the face. Police said that he also slammed the victim’s left arm into a glass case in the store, causing serious physical injury and pain. EMS removed the victim to Bellevue Hospital.


Police arrested a teenager for grand larceny and possession of stolen property last Wednesday at 4:41 p.m. inside Good Shepherd Services at 337 East 17th Street. Police said that the teen grabbed a social worker’s phone from her hand without permission while the social worker was using it. The teen then fled the scene but was later arrested.



An eighteen-year-old and two other teenagers for reckless endangerment at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street last Friday at 8:42 p.m. Police said the teens were breakdancing and performing acrobatic moves aboard a moving L train, creating a reckless condition of substantial risk of serious physical injury to himself and others without permission or authority to do so.


Police arrested 34-year-old Kyle Sweeney for assault in front of 114 East 16th Street last Friday at 12:11 a.m. Police said that Sweeney punched the victim in the face, causing bleeding and swelling to his upper lip. No further information was available about how the dispute started.



Police arrested 26-year-old Louis Smith for criminal trespass inside the McDonald’s at 39 Union Square West last Thursday at 11:30 p.m. An employee told Smith to leave the establishment multiple times but allegedly refused. Police said that they also told him numerous times that he couldn’t stay inside the building based on their rules and policies and he allegedly put up a fight while being detained in handcuffs. Smith was also charged with resisting arrest.



Police arrested 56-year-old Ronald Braga for an unclassified violation on the corner of Broadway and West 28th Street last Friday at 6:42 a.m. Police said that Braga was urinating on a public sidewalk in plain view and he allegedly did not possess a valid ID.



Police arrested 25-year-old Troy Davidson for criminal trespass and possession of marijuana inside 224 East 28th Street last Saturday at 12:40 a.m. Police said that Davidson was trespassing on the 19th floor stairwell inside the building but he is not a resident there. Police said that he wasn’t an invited guest of anyone in the building and did not have legitimate business there. He was in possession of alleged marijuana that was in his right front jacket pocket.



Police arrested 27-year-old James Glogovski for disorderly conduct at the corner of Third Avenue and East 23rd Street last Saturday at 4:15 a.m. Police responded to the location because of a report of theft of service. Glogovski was intoxicated and sleeping in the back of a cab and did not respond to repeated attempts to wake up and pay the fare. When he finally awoke, he allegedly became verbally abusive with officers. Police said that he refused to step out of the street onto the sidewalk and began to escalate his “disorderly” behavior. He allegedly flailed his arms and refused to comply with repeated requests by officers.


Police arrested 46-year-old Oscar Diaz last Thursday at 5:05 p.m. inside the 13th Precinct for grand larceny. Police said that Diaz took the victim’s debit card and used it to make a purchase at Bath and Body Works.


Police arrested 28-year-old Leon Jacobs for criminal mischief at the corner of Park Avenue South and East 17th Street last Tuesday at 12:05 p.m. Police said that Jacobs got into an argument with the victim and allegedly smacked the driver’s side window of the car, causing damage to the mirror.


Teens busted for armed ‘robberies’ near Stuy Town and in Gramercy Park

Nov19 Robbery suspects

Robbery suspects (via NYPD)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested three teenagers for multiple armed robberies throughout Manhattan last Wednesday, with one incident taking place on East 20th Street near Stuyvesant Town and another along Gramercy Park North within the last month.

In post-Miranda statements, the 14 and 15-year-olds who were arrested told police that they had committed two to three robberies each night multiple times when they came into Manhattan from Brooklyn in an SUV allegedly driven by 18-year-old Daniel Jean-Louis, who was also arrested in connections with the robberies last Wednesday.

According to the District Attorney’s office, the two younger teens mugged one victim on November 7 at around 1 a.m. near 346 East 20th Street, west of First Avenue. The victim told police that one of the teens hit him from behind while reaching into the victim’s pocket to swipe his cell phone and ID. Police said that the victim suffered injuries to his face, hands, elbow and knee from running after the two suspects.

Police said that the 14 and 15-year-olds held up a woman at gunpoint in front of 45 Gramercy Park North last Sunday at 2:28 a.m., mugging her and her friend.

In one incident in Chelsea near 331 West 21st Street on November 7, one of the teens simulated a gun and stole a victim’s wallet around 2 a.m. In another incident in Chelsea on November 15, the 14 and 15-year-olds approached a man at 1:40 a.m. in front of 439 West 22nd Street and threatened a man with a silver-toned gun. A third incident in Chelsea took place in front of 416 West 20th Street last Sunday at 2:30 a.m. when the two younger teens pointed a silver handgun at the victim and demanded her property. The victim told police that she asked for help from a person who was parked in a white SUV nearby and he told her to get away from the car. The 15-year-old who was arrested later told police that it was Jean-Louis who told the victim to move.

Police said that the two younger suspects were seen on surveillance footage from the McDonald’s on Park Avenue South using stolen credit cards to buy food after robberies on both November 7 and November 15.

Police said that the 14-year-old also ordered items off of using his own address, his mother’s cell phone number and the stolen credit card number of a card he stole last Sunday.

Jean-Louis, of East 29th Street in Brooklyn, was charged with nine counts of robbery, while the younger teens were each charged with five counts.

Opinion: NRA, the terrorists’ best friend



By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Most of the death and destruction that was visited on Paris last week by terrorists was committed with the same deadly assault weapons that have been used right here by mass killers in movie theaters, malls and even elementary schools. James Holmes murdered twelve people in a Colorado movie theater not long ago. If there had been three of him, like at the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris, the death toll would have been in the scores. And if there had been a team of killers at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown Connecticut or the church in Charleston, South Carolina, the carnage would have been even worse.

The guns used in Paris and here in American cities, towns and villages are protected and fiercely defended by the National Rifle Association. In turn our representatives in Congress have done absolutely nothing to keep those weapons out of the hands of, well, almost anyone. Their silence is deafening. These guns are designed for the battlefield to kill as many enemy combatants as quickly as possible, and they do. Can you imagine the hue and cry by our politicians if those slaughters had been committed by someone named Mustafa with a Muslim background and jihad as his motivation? Candidates for President would be falling over each other with proposals to keep such weapons out of the hands of “those people.”

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CW facing another lawsuit from lenders

Challenge over reported $566M in fees

By Sabina Mollot

On the heels of news that CWCapital, Stuyvesant Town’s controlling entity since 2010, could walk away with over a half a billion dollars in fees from the recent sale and other services, investors have filed suit to try to prevent that from happening.

Investor groups with a trust that’s a lead lender of the property’s senior debt filed the legal action last Thursday. This was after, they said, CWCapital “deflected or ignored” their questions about how the company intended to disperse the reportedly massive windfall. The plaintiffs, affiliated with hedge fund Appaloosa Management, are: Appaloosa Investment, L.P.I, Palomino Fund Ltd., Thoroughbred Fund L.P., and Thoroughbred Master Ltd.

The investors said CW has reportedly claimed it is entitled to about $566 million in default interest, based on a three percent rate on the senior loan calculated from 2010 and the fact that the property was sold for more than the senior debt. However, the plaintiffs argued, that money is not supposed to go to CWCapital, but instead to senior lenders.

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Republican voters left confused by letter with suggested write-in judicial candidates

Attorney Helene Jnane, who ran for City Council in 2013, had her name appear in a rogue Republican slate. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Attorney Helene Jnane, who ran for City Council in 2013, had her name appear in a rogue Republican slate. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

This year’s Election Day was a quiet one with only judicial candidates running in Manhattan and many uncontested.

However, in an effort to shake up what was locally a one-party election, a Republican District Leader for the 74th Assembly District sent out letters urging republicans to vote for members of their own party, anyway.

The problem? The letter ended up causing some confusion, with at least a couple of Stuyvesant Town residents who received it believing there were actually Republican candidates running.

One copy of the letter was received by a republican voter who later contacted Town & Village to ask why those candidates could only be chosen by having their names written in on an absentee ballot.

“That seems like fraud to me,” she fumed.

The letter from Robert Fiore, a resident of East 23rd Street, had said the election presented an “interesting opportunity for Republican write-in candidates due to expected low voter turnout for Democrats. Here are our Republican Write-In candidates for the Manhattan judicial races Tuesday, November 3.”

He then listed the candidates for Supreme Court justice as: Helene Jnane, Paul Niehaus, Robert L. Morgan, Robin Weaver and Peter C. Hein. Jnane, who ran a campaign for City Council in 2013 against Dan Garodnick, was also listed as a candidate for Civil Court judge.

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Giant pandas coming to NYC

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney with a panda pal during a visit to a Chinese panda research center last year (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Maloney)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney with a panda pal during a visit to a Chinese panda research center last year (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Maloney)

By Sabina Mollot

For Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, it’s always been a black and white issue. New York City has been in need of a pair of giant pandas, and now, she cheered, the city will finally get them.

The only obstacle to getting them into a local zoo, she said, was that the Chinese government wanted a letter of support from both New York’s governor and mayor. Previously, Governor Cuomo had been on board with the plan, but Mayor de Blasio had not. Because pandas are expensive to care for (around $1 million a year, according to a Daily News story), the mayor didn’t consider it priority. What changed, Maloney said this week, was that John Catsimatidis, Gristedes CEO and radio talk show host, has stepped in to start a nonprofit to raise the money needed for the effort. This includes paying for getting the pandas on loan, transporting them to the city and paying for their care as well as first building a new habitat at the Bronx Zoo.

Maloney has been attempting to acquire the cuddly creatures for over a year, a passion project that once got her mocked by a political opponent who said she should focus on more pressing matters. The 2014 Republican congressional candidate, Nicholas Di iorio, even had a pal dress up in a panda suit for a press conference.

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Neighbors complain about noise from First Avenue cocktail lounge

Lieutenant Steven Lebovic at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Lieutenant Steven Lebovic at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

After hearing complaints about ongoing noise from new pizzeria/cocktail bar Visana from neighbors, police said that they would step up their enforcement regarding noise infractions.

This was at the most recent 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday when neighbors of Visana, who live above the business as well as next door complained about the noise and crowds outside the place. Visana opened at 321 First Avenue at the end of September, in the space formerly occupied by Adriatic restaurant.

“My life there has always been quiet,” said Jorge Rios, who has lived directly above the space since 1970. “Restaurants have always been quiet but now that business changed the whole picture. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is fine but Thursday through Saturday I can’t sleep until 4 in the morning.”

Another resident at 321 said that one of the reasons for the excessive noise seemed to be the crowds of people gathered on the sidewalk outside the building.

“On Saturday, the noise was incredible and people couldn’t walk from 18th to 19th without walking into bike path,” said the resident, who didn’t want to give her name. “People were walking into the street and almost getting hit by bikes to avoid the crowds.”

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Blackstone to keep affordable supermarket in ST

Reps for owner meet with tenants on Associated as well as maintenance and safety concerns

A petition recently circulated to save the Associated Supermarket got over 800 signatures online and hundreds more on paper. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

A petition recently circulated to save the Associated Supermarket got over 800 signatures online and hundreds more on paper. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

New owner Blackstone has committed to keeping an affordable supermarket in Stuyvesant Town, although it may not be Associated.

Last week, a petition was started to save the 25-year-old supermarket, which, as Town & Village reported in October, was being pressured to end its lease early, even after CWCapital turned down an offer from a competing market to go in at a higher rent.

However, last Thursday, Blackstone reps told members of the Tenants Association board at a private meeting that there would continue to be an affordable option for tenants when shopping for groceries.

As of T&V’s press time, an online petition in support of the store had over 850 signatures. The Tenants Association had also created paper petitions that were placed by each store cashier, which got hundreds more signatures. Many residents had been concerned that the store would be replaced by a more expensive supermarket or no supermarket at all.

Blackstone rep Paula Chirhart, who was at the meeting with the Tenants Association, later told T&V, “We are committed to keeping an affordable grocery in that space.”

She noted that the Associated still has two more years to go before the store’s lease is up.

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Letters to the Editor, Nov. 19

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

14th St. – the noisiest street in Manhattan?

A friend of mine living in New Jersey told me the other day, “I would give my eye-teeth to have a two-bedroom apartment in Stuyvesant Town on the 12th floor with a view of the skyline.”

Little does she know what is actually happening here now: 14th Street has become, not a street, but a super highway.

Ever since St. Vincent’s Hospital on the West Side closed to become yet another condo, all traffic from west to east has to go through 14th Street, or so it seems.

We now have every ambulance, every police car, every fire engine and, to top it off, every motor bike gang storming through our street. (I understand the fire engines because the firehouse is on 14th Street.)

It is impossible to listen to the radio/TV or have a conversation. To top it off, for six months, there has been an excavation on the south side of the Street between Avenues A and B, starting at 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., jackhammering and big cranes making unbelievable noise to build yet another condo.

This street is now the thorough street between west and east.

Is there no way to divert some of this to say, 23rd Street? I am sure the motorbikes which make unlawful noise would not mind.

Bridget Bogard, ST

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Police Watch: ‘Terrorist threats’ made at UN School, Equipment ‘theft’ from Beth Israel

Police arrested 44-year-old John Butler inside the 13th precinct last Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. for making terrorist threats. Police said that Butler made several threats towards students and staff on the street in front of the United Nations International School at Waterside Plaza. He allegedly said that he was God and that the school was evil.
Police said that he then made gun gestures with his hands and allegedly said that he was going to kill them and everyone in the school. He allegedly told the students that they were responsible for killing a Loyola student that died during a soccer game between the UN School and the Loyola school.
The Wall Street Journal reported on October 28 that 16-year-old Thomas Jakelich, a student at Loyola School on the Upper East Side, died after an injury at a boys’ varsity soccer game against the UN International School on Randall’s Island the previous Monday.

Twenty-year-old Imani McBride and 21-year-old Joel Alicea were arrested last Wednesday for allegedly swiping pricey medical equipment from hospitals, including Beth Israel.
According to the District Attorney’s office, McBride was seen on video surveillance entering an exam room at the Lenox Hill Healthplex at 30 Seventh Avenue while holding an empty bag on November 28, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. The DA’s office said that McBride left the exam room soon after with the same bag, now containing something bulky. An employee at the hospital told police that a heart rate monitor valued at $21,690 and an otoscope valued at $1,182 were missing from the room immediately after McBride left.
In an incident on October 30 of this year, McBride allegedly stole a heart rate monitor from an exam room at Beth Israel Hospital at East 16th Street and First Avenue. The DA’s office said that McBride could be seen on video surveillance entering an exam room around 11 p.m. and an employee told police that a heart rate monitor was missing soon after McBride left. Police said that a heart rate monitor was also missing from a Beth Israel exam room after McBride went in on November 3 at 2 p.m.
The District Attorney’s office said that Alicea and two other people who weren’t arrested entered Beth Israel Hospital around 11 p.m. on November 3. Alicea and the two other men allegedly entered a curtained exam area within one larger exam room, running out of a back exit of the exam area while carrying a large bag with bulky items. Police said that six heart rate monitors were missing from the larger exam room immediately after Alicea and the other men left.
Police said McBride admitted that it was him in several surveillance still photographs and he admitted that he knows Alicea from high school. Police noted that Alicea also admitted to knowing McBride from high school and admitted that it was him in surveillance photographs from the incident on November 3.

Police arrested 27-year-old Kinga Tabares for grand larceny, unauthorized use of vehicle and impaired driving at the corner of Third Avenue and East 26th Street last 12:33 a.m. The New York Post reported that the taxi driver had picked up Tabares and her friends up at Washington and Little West 12th Streets but they were so rowdy that the driver stopped at the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street to get the police. While he was inside the precinct asking for help, Tabares allegedly got into the driver’s seat and drove north on Third Avenue. Police said that they caught up with her because she stopped the car to vomit out the window of the taxi. Upon investigation, Tabares allegedly had a strong odor of alcohol on her breath and bloodshot eyes, and was allegedly combative with police. She was escorted to Bellevue Hospital and police said that she refused a Breathalyzer test.

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Opinion: Albany on trial

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

SandersheadshotThe trial began last week. It is officially referenced as “The United States vs. Sheldon Silver.” It is really about the culture of government in many state capitols… but in this case Albany. The facts in this trial involve the conduct of the former Speaker of the Assembly who for 20 years was arguably the most powerful state elected official with the exception of the governor. The prosecution is focusing on Silver’s alleged illegal activities which resulted in his personal enrichment. It is attempting to show that Silver broke the law and the public trust by taking actions not based on good policy but rather based on enhancing his own power and fortune.

And next week the corruption trial of former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos will begin. These two trials will shed considerable light on how laws are made and will peel back the onion layers of backroom deal making in Albany. The result will surely leave a bad taste.

But it is much more complicated than that.

I served in the State Assembly for 28 years until 2006. At the end I was privileged to be near the pinnacle of power in that body as chairman of an important committee and one of the most senior members. I also worked closely with Mr. Silver on a range of legislative issues. Whatever else may be said and alleged of Sheldon Silver, I can attest that he committed his time and intellect to the job. He devoted more hours than any other public official that I came into contact with. And at least in my experience he sought out what he thought was the right public policy on an array issues important to the lives of ordinary New Yorkers. Did he betray the public trust in some of his private back room dealings? I do not know. Is he guilty of pocketing millions of dollars because of influence peddling? A jury will have to decide that.

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No smoke on Ave. C, despite city warning

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, November 5, anyone signed up for the city Office of Emergency Management’s email alerts for things like scheduled fireworks, shots being fired, explosions or other things typically related to film shoots, got notice of a city exercise involving smoke at 23rd Street and Avenue C.

The “theatrical smoke,” the email explained, was to be part of an exercise to be conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. However, like most city alerts, it came as the exercise was already set to be taking place.

By the time this reporter got over there, there was no sign of smoke and the staffers at the Solar One building at the FDR Drive and 23rd Street said they hadn’t seen any either.

We reached out to a spokesperson for OCME, who confirmed that the exercise did in deed happen, but the smoke was contained. The rep, Julie Bowlsor, explained that the alert was sent out in the event anyone did happen to see smoke. “That way they would know there’s no cause for alarm,” she said. She added that the exercise may have taken place in the general area of the aforementioned location rather than 23rd Street exactly.

Had the smoke actually been visible, it would have made an interesting visual for the hundreds of kids who were piling into the riverfront by Solar One at that time. The kids were students from the nearby United Nations International School, which was conducting a fire drill.

Upon hearing this, Bowlsor said, “We’re sorry it was not as theatrical as promised.”

Preservationists say it’s too late for landmarking of Union Square Park

Union Square Park on a recent afternoon (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Union Square Park on a recent afternoon (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

As the Landmarks Preservation Commission began addressing decades worth of backlog last Thursday, representatives for preservation groups expressed surprising opposition to the designation of Union Square Park as a city scenic landmark.

Jack Taylor, speaking on behalf of the Union Square Community Coalition, and Kelly Carroll of the Historic Districts Council opposed the proposed landmarking.

Taylor said in his testimony that landmarking the park as it is today would be a “historical travesty” and he noted that the idea would have had much more support if the LPC had followed through with the landmarking after a public hearing in 1977.

Since then, though, the park has been modified to the point that Taylor said it doesn’t resemble the location of various historical events, including the first Labor Day that was celebrated there in 1882. He said that in 2005, there was a deliberate effort on the part of the city and then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg that drastically changed the nature of the north plaza.

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Muggers attacking victims, snatching phones and cash

Robbery suspects (via NYPD)

Robbery suspects (via NYPD)

By Sabina Mollot

Police are hunting a pair of violent muggers who’ve so far struck three times in two days, attacking victims and snatching cash and cell phones. One of the attacks happened near Stuyvesant Town.

The string of robberies started on Friday, November 6, when two men approached a 24-year-old man in the elevator of his apartment building on 18th Street. The suspects hit him repeatedly with a blunt object in the face, head, and neck. Then, they stole $200 in cash from the victim and fled. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

On Saturday, November 7 at 1 a.m., the suspects approached the 36-year-old man as he was walking in front of 346 East 20th Street, west of First Avenue. One of the suspects repeatedly struck the victim, causing injuries to his face, both hands, as well as his right elbow and right knee. The attackers then swiped the victim’s Samsung cell phone and ran off.

An hour later, the suspects approached a man and woman as they were walking together on 21st Street.

One suspect simulated a weapon at the victims, a 30-year-old man and 35-year-old woman, before snatching an iPhone 6 and multiple credit and debit cards from them.

Police declined to share the avenues the first and third incidents took place, because the locations are the victims’ addresses. However, both incidents happened on the West Side.

The suspects are described as being black, between 18 and 25 years old and between 5 ft. 8 ins. and 5 ft. 10 ins. tall. One was last seen wearing all black. The other was last seen wearing a blue Adidas hooded sweatshirt.

Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.