NY Waterway cancels giant SantaCon boat party

SantaCon (seen here in 2016) has long faced ire from neighborhood residents because of the public drunkenness often displayed by the event’s participants. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Shortly after announcing last Friday that the infamous SantaCon bar crawl would be sponsoring a handful of party yachts in the East River as part of the event scheduled for this Saturday, the event was canceled on Tuesday.

Councilmember Keith Powers shared a letter to Donald Liloia, Senior Vice President of NY Waterway, on Twitter this Tuesday afternoon also signed by State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein expressing a number of concerns about the event. Mere hours later, the Councilmember confirmed that NY Waterway, which operates the Skyport Marina where the boats would have docked, had canceled the event.

Gothamist reported on Tuesday that Liloia also confirmed the event’s cancellation, noting that the group organizing the event had only started planning recently and acknowledged that it was too complicated to pull off on such short notice.

The letter signed by Powers, Hoylman and Epstein (which can be read in full here) argued that a free event of that size, attracting people who are likely to be intoxicated, would cause substantial disturbance to tenants in the nearby residential developments of Waterside Plaza and Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village.

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Letters to the editor, Dec. 12

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Charged for new door

Recently I had to call 911 for a medical emergency. NYPD also came with them and proceeded to breakdown down my door, even after my telling them I could answer the door. Stuyvesant Town then made me pay $1,700 for the new door. That was my tuition money for Baruch College for a year. I am trying to finish my degree, even though I am elderly and disabled now. I couldn’t believe I had to pay for the door. Technically I didn’t break it. And you know Stuyvesant Town charges you for any damage you cause in the apartment. I did not cause this damage. I should have never been charged for this. Can anybody help?

Name withheld

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Police Watch: Multiple teens arrested for robberies

TEEN ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY
Police arrested a teenager for a robbery that took place at a store near 150 East 28th Street on Wednesday, December 4 at 10:44 p.m. Police said that the teen removed candy from the store without permission and when an employee told him he had to pay for the items, he displayed a knife and said, “I will stab you.” The teen fled from the store and was stopped in front of the ACS building on First Avenue after police searched the area with the victim. The victim positively identified the teen as the person who had threatened him in his store.

TEENS ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY IN PARK
Police arrested two teenagers for a robbery that took place in a park near Lexington Avenue and East 28th Street on Sunday, December 8 at 1:16 p.m. The victim told police that he was walking in the park when the two teens approached him. One of the suspects who was wearing a grey sweatshirt came up close to him while the suspect, wearing a blue sweatshirt, pulled out a yellow knife and said, “Give me everything you have or I’ll cut you.” The victim then gave the suspect his cell phone and fled the scene. Shortly after, he searched the area with police officers and identified the teens, and the suspect with a blue sweatshirt was reportedly in possession of a yellow knife when he was arrested.

MAN ARRESTED FOR DRUNK DRIVING
Police arrested a 35-year-old man for intoxicated driving in front of 4 West 21st Street on Sunday, December 8 at 1:57 a.m. Officers said that they were standing on the corner of West 21st Street and Fifth Avenue when the suspect approached them and said that he just crashed into a parked vehicle at a parking garage and wanted to file a report. The officers followed him to the nearby parking garage, where they saw the suspect’s car parked near the entrance with damage to his vehicle and another parked vehicle. An employee at the garage told the officers that he saw the suspect get into the car and drive it into the parked vehicle and the suspect also told the officers that he was the one driving. Police said that the suspect had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, was unsteady on his feet and had bloodshot, watery eyes.

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Television staple George Loros looks for one more act

Actor George Loros (Photos by Ryan Songalia)

By Ryan Songalia

George Loros is used to being recognized on the streets. For decades he had been a ubiquitous presence on television screens, doing guest appearances on shows like Charlie’s Angels, Baretta and Kojak, but he now spends his days teaching acting near Union Square rather than currently acting himself.

“I must have been on two nights a week for years because I was lucky enough to do a lot of the top shows,” said Loros, now 85, of his acting career as he settles into a Gramercy Park restaurant for dinner.

Loros orders broiled salmon and multigrain toast for dinner after teaching at the nearby Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute on East 15th Street, where he’s worked since 1989. He’s an ice cream fan: his favorites are coffee, chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate and vanilla, though he limits himself to a taste once a month. His only indulgence this evening is a dash of cinnamon, from a shaker he carries in his satchel, in his coffee.

Loros teaches at the institute in Gramercy twice a week, which he said is “almost as good as acting; nothing can compare to that, but it’s close.” He hasn’t acted since 2012, when he portrayed Detective Paul Garcia in the film Redemption, which was produced by Tim Martin Crouse, who also teaches at the Strasberg Institute.

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T&V holding holiday toy drive

Dr. Bonnie Robbins of Mount Sinai Beth Israel, pictured with donations from the 2018 drive, says this drive has become more crucial to the families the hospital serves. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Town & Village is holding a toy drive to help make the holidays brighter for children undergoing medical treatment during the holiday season as well as the children of families in outpatient programs run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Gifts will be accepted for children of all ages as long as they are new. Items for older boys are especially in high demand. No toy weapons, please.

Partnering with Town & Village on this effort is:

Stuyvesant Town Property Services, accepting toys at Resident Services, 276 First Avenue on the First Avenue Loop Road, and at AppleSeeds, 6 Stuyvesant Oval off of the Avenue C loop

Waterside Plaza management, accepting toys at the management office, 30 Waterside Plaza, and the Swim & Health Club, 35 Waterside Plaza

M&T Bank, accepting toys at the branch at 397 First Avenue and East 23rd Street.

Toys can also be dropped off at Town & Village’s office, 20 West 22nd Street, Suite 1503 (or left with the doorperson at the lobby).

The deadline to donate is Monday, December 16. Toys should be unwrapped. Gifts will still be accepted after the deadline at Town & Village’s office but won’t be delivered until after New Year’s.

Building owner, contractor and plumber found guilty in East Village explosion case

The gas explosion on Second Avenue near East 7th Street occurred in March 2015. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced last Friday that all of the defendants on trial for the gas explosion that occurred on Second Avenue at East 7th Street in 2015 have been found guilty.

Vance said that Maria Hrynenko, 59, Athanasios “Jerry” Ioannidis, 63, and Dilber Kukic, 44, were found guilty for their role in the fatal explosion at 121 Second Avenue on March 26 of that year that killed 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa and 27-year-old Moises Locon, seriously injured 13 other victims and caused three buildings at the corner to completely collapse.

“This is a big win for public safety in New York,” Vance said. “As construction and development continue to boom, today’s guilty verdict puts property owners, contractors, and managers on notice: my office will pursue criminal charges against those who place expediency and financial gain over life and limb.”

The explosion was caused by plumbing and gas work that was going on inside 121 Second Avenue, which was one of the three buildings to collapse. Con Edison said at the time that the building had failed an inspection earlier on the same day as the explosion.

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Opinion: An election and a warning for 2020

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, the American Democracy was founded with the approval of our Constitution. In the centuries that have passed, it is easy for some to forget how inspired and revolutionary that document was. Sadly, others choose to ignore it.

For the first time, a nation was to be a Republic, governed not by a monarchy or other form of dictatorship or autocracy, but rather by the will of its citizens with important checks and balances among three co-equal branches of government.

That was the enduring genius of our founders. Every president of the United States takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” rather than to preserve his own power.

Like me, you may be wondering whatever happened to those principles and that oath that guided this nation and its presidents for over two centuries.

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Petitions ask Cuomo to study hospital downsizing

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein delivered petitions to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in Midtown on Monday, asking the governor to further study Mount Sinai’s plan for downsizing Beth Israel. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, local residents and healthcare advocates delivered a thousand petitions to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown office on Monday afternoon, calling on the governor to further study the impact of Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s downsizing on the community.

The petition requested that Cuomo direct the State Department of Health Services to stop further closure of services at Beth Israel and conduct a thorough, independent study of the impact of the closures with community input.

“We just want to talk to the State Department about next steps,” Epstein said. “We want to talk about a larger study, a real study, to find out if this is really in the best interests of the neighborhood or if this is just a real estate deal.”

The petition argued that the reduction of beds from the current Beth Israel to the new facility being built is a “health crisis” because the hospital is still in use and that the Cardiac Surgery Unit, Maternity Ward and Pediatric Surgery Unit were closed in 2017 with approval from the State Health Department but without a community-vetted replacement plan in place.

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Mayor announces additional outreach for homeless New Yorkers

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the new initiative to provide additional outreach services for homeless New Yorkers and introduced new Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Dr. Raul Perea-Henze, at the 14th Street Y. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mayor Bill de Blasio was at the 14th Street Y last Thursday, November 14 to introduce new Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Dr. Raul Perea-Henze, and announce the launch of a new program to combat homelessness in the city called Outreach NYC, which has since been criticized by other local elected officials and advocates.

The administration said on Thursday that the initiative will mobilize thousands of staff members from various city agencies who will be accessible for outreach assistance via 311. The city is encouraging New Yorkers to alert 311 when they see unsheltered individuals with the aim of helping those homeless New Yorkers transition off the streets and subways into more permanent, stable settings.

“We believe that this kind of outreach effort is the key,” de Blasio said at the announcement on Thursday. “We believe that constantly engaging folks is the answer. And I want everyone understand, I’m not talking about a few times and not talking about a few dozen times. Sometimes we were talking about hundreds of times before it works. But it is worth it because every time, and we heard from the outreach workers today, the sense of victory they felt when someone did come in and they were talking about literally in the last days getting someone in off the streets, who had been on the streets for years and years. What a profound victory that is.”

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Flatiron BID debuts new winter installation

“Ziggy” will be on view until January. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership debuted new public art installation “Ziggy” on Tuesday during a preview of its eighth-annual “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” season. The glowing, kaleidoscopic installation, which is on view on the North Public Plaza across from the Flatiron building, was selected through the sixth-annual Flatiron Plaza Holiday Design Competition with the Van Alen Institute and DOT Art.

The Partnership’s “23 Days” officially begins on December 1, running through December 23, and offers free performances, holiday recipes, hot beverage giveaways, fitness classes and prizes.

The launch event on Tuesday included a music performance by Kengchakaj & Niall Cade from The Jazz Gallery, pizza from Eataly, hot chocolate from Shake Shack and a prize wheel with a line spreading down the plaza, despite the misting rain and raw temperatures throughout the event.

Ziggy, which will be on view through New Year’s Day, was designed by New York-based architecture studio Hou de Sousa. The installation is composed of painted rebar and 27,000 feet of iridescent cord lit from the bottom by black light. The structure creates a winding form of 30-inch see-through walls and bench structures that passersby are encouraged to use.

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Courtroom drawings on view at National Arts Club

At the opening reception of the court art show at NAC (left-right): Colleen McMahon, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Artists Elizabeth Williams, Aggie Kenny and Jane Rosenberg, and Federal Judge Loretta Preska (Photos by Jefferson Siegel)

Before the invention of photography, art predominated as the visual representation of record. Today, with the prevalence of cell phone cameras, one unique art medium is still the only way to visually record what transpires in federal courts. Since photography is prohibited in those courts, sketch artists are the public’s eyes to what takes place within the columned walls of Federal Courts.

An exhibition of courtroom illustrations from Manhattan’s Southern District Federal Court is currently on display at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park. Artwork by artists Jane Rosenberg, Elizabeth Williams and Aggie Kenny bring to life some of the most important trials of the last 40 years.

The exhibition is free and open to the public Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. until January 3 at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South (East 20th Street between Park Avenue South and Irving Place).

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Maloney elected to be Oversight Committee’s first female chair

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, joined by US Senator Charles Schumer (left) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (right), at an event earlier this year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been elected chair of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday after she was nominated by the House Democratic steering committee earlier this week.

The New York Post reported that Maloney got the nomination after a vote from the steering committee in a meeting on Tuesday.

“I am deeply humbled and grateful to my colleagues for entrusting me with the chairmanship,” Maloney said after she was elected to the permanent position. “I’m honored by this opportunity to do more for the American people and will do my best to follow the honorable example that Chairman Cummings left for us all. There’s much work to be done, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Maloney became the acting chair of the Oversight Committee in October following the sudden death of Representative Elijah Cummings, who was previously the chair. Prior to her nomination, she faced three other challengers in a run for the permanent position.

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Hoylman introduces bill to allow adult victims of sex crimes to seek justice

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

State Senator Brad Hoylman introduced legislation at the end of October that would create a one-year window so that survivors of sex crimes who were 18 years or older can file lawsuits and seek justice.

Hoylman introduced the legislation, titled the Adult Survivor’s Act, after successfully passing the Child Victims Act through the state legislature earlier this year alongside Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal after the bill was stalled for years. Governor Andrew Cuomo finally signed the bill into law in February 2019.

“For too long, justice has been out of reach for adult survivors of sexual crimes,” Hoylman said. “Survivors have experienced horrific trauma and abuse, and many do not immediately come forward—they deserve our support whenever they decide they are ready to pursue justice. The New York State Legislature has already made historic strides to protect survivors by passing the Child Victims Act and prospectively extending the criminal and civil statute of limitations. Now, we must stand with survivors who have been failed in the past by our state’s insufficient laws, pass the Adult Survivors Act, and give these individuals their day in court.”

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Conservancy proposing ‘trash structure’ for Madison Square Park

Trash from the park is currently kept in dumpsters on the east side near the southern corner, just south of the public toilet right outside the park. The Conservancy has proposed the structure to be built behind this space. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Madison Square Park Conservancy announced at a Community Board 5 Parks and Public Spaces committee meeting on Monday that it will be constructing a 1,000-square foot structure to hold trash at the southeastern side of the park.

Tom Reidy, senior project manager at the Conservancy, said at the meeting that there are currently dumpsters on the east side of the park adjacent to the Department of Transportation self-operating toilet that Shake Shack uses for trash now and one of the goals of the new structures is to have a more closed-in space for garbage that staff for the Conservancy could also use for dumping refuse collected from park garbage cans. Reidy said that the trash cans around the park get emptied three times a day for five months out of the year during warmer months and two times a day for the rest of the year, so the amount of trash is substantial.

The Conservancy also uses space behind the Shake Shack to store various equipment and tools, so another goal of the new structure is to free up space behind the restaurant’s building. The Conservancy also has a 400-square foot storage space in Long Island City for seasonal equipment that could be partially stored in the new building, although Reidy said that they will likely still have to store some items in that storage space.

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Tenant names removed from intercoms in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents were shocked and dismayed to learn this weekend that tenant names have been removed from all intercoms in all buildings throughout the property.

StuyTown Property Services general manager Rick Hayduk said that tenant names have been removed from all video intercoms, in addition to the resident list that used to be next to the mailboxes, due to privacy concerns.

“Many residents, and at an increasing frequency of late, had requested their names be removed,” Hayduk said. “In light of not only our response to privacy concerns, but the general issue of privacy overall, we made the decision to remove all resident names from public areas.”

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association sent an email to residents on Sunday about the sudden change, noting that the disappearance of tenant names has resulted in strangers dialing resident intercoms, missed food deliveries and emergency caregivers needing directions to apartments. Now that tenant names have been removed, only apartment numbers and buzz-in numbers are listed.

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