Tenants and homeless protest side by side at ‘Cuomoville’

A protest for stronger rent laws spanned three days outside the governor’s midtown office. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Tenant activists, including some who are homeless, gathered in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midtown office for three days last week from Wednesday evening to Saturday to demand rent reform in Albany.

A coalition of tenant groups organized the efforts, including New York Communities for Change, Tenant Power NY, Community Voices Heard and others. The groups dubbed the temporary encampment on the sidewalk “Cuomoville,” and linked the governor’s failure to enact stronger rent laws with the increase in homelessness throughout the city.

Gigi Morgan, an activist from Brooklyn who currently lives in a women’s shelter in Harlem, was at the protest on Friday morning after having slept there Thursday night and participating on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Garodnick says he’d work with NYPD on surveillance bill

Councilmember Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

In March, Council Member Dan Garodnick, along with Council Member Vanessa Gibson of the Bronx, introduced a police oversight bill that’s aimed at making the technology the NYPD uses for its anti-terror efforts and the policies under which they are used more transparent.

But it was last Wednesday, when the Council members held a rally and hearing to push the bill, dubbed the POST Act, when the NYPD as well as the mayor responded to slam it, arguing that it would put too much sensitive information in the hands of terrorists.

Garodnick has since reiterated an earlier claim that he was willing the work with police to tweak the bill, adding that police’s bashing of the act as “a blueprint for harm” has amounted to fear-mongering.

Other opinions have already varied just as widely. A Wall Street Journal editorial with the headline “A Terrorist’s Guide to New York City” cited last year’s bombing in Chelsea while calling Garodnick and the bill’s supporters “anti-anti-terror stalwarts.” Meanwhile, an opinion piece in the Daily News called the legislation a much needed step considering previously reported incidents of NYPD surveillance incidents of students and activists.

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Opinion: From Oswald to Hodgkinson

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Although separated by 54 years, the connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and James T. Hodgkinson is all too familiar.

They both possessed a legally acquired rifle, and for reasons only known to them fired shots at the government of the United States with devastating consequences.

In the case of Oswald, he bought his rifle through an ordinary mail order transaction and Hodgkinson legally purchased his weapon as well… no questions asked.

Oswald fired shots at the president of the United States and Hodgkinson fired dozens of shots at members of Congress last week. Both shooters were killed before they could answer questions or to stand trial for their actions.

But the most telling similarity of these shootings is that after more than a half century and over 1.5 million shooting deaths of famous and anonymous Americans, the government of this country is still unwilling to come to grips with the plague of ever more lethal firearms in the hands of ever more people.

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Town & Village co-hosts City Council debate at Waterside Plaza

Attendees at the debate Thursday evening (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

All eleven candidates in the District 4 City Council race gathered at Waterside Plaza on Thursday evening for a debate co-sponsored by Town & Village, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management, covering issues important to the neighborhood.

Democrats Alec Hartman, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson, Maria Castro, Bessie Schachter and Barry Shapiro and Republicans Melissa Jane (MJ) Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary discussed affordable housing, concerns for seniors, the fate of small businesses and the sanitation garage planned for the neighborhood over the course of the two-hour debate. WTA President Janet Handal and T&V editor Sabina Mollot moderated the event, each asking two questions of the nine Democrats and two Republicans on the stage, who are running to replace term-limited Councilmember Dan Garodnick.

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Police Watch: June 22

LONG ISLAND MAN CHARGED WITH RAPES IN GRAMERCY, MURRAY HILL
Earlier this month, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced the indictment of 31-year-old Long Island resident Cameron McDermott for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting two unconscious women at apartments in Manhattan, including one in Gramercy. McDermott was arrested for allegedly exposing himself in public in Garden City and during the investigation, police found alleged videos and photographs on McDermott’s computer and hard drives which depicted the suspect sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on eight occasions in 2010. The DA’s office said that he also recorded and photographed himself raping and sexually assaulting a second unconscious woman in an apartment on the Upper East Side on five different occasions in 2013. McDermott was charged with predatory sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse and unlawful surveillance.

PAIR ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT OUTSIDE STUY TOWN
Police arrested 31-year-old Yulianna Urbas and 26-year-old Carlos Valdez for assault near Stuyvesant Town. Urbas was apprehended at Avenue C and East 18th Street and Valdez was arrested on the same block but on First Avenue. The victim said that Urbas allegedly struck him multiple times, punching him in the face and causing pain to his head and scratches to his neck. The victim said that Valdez punched him on the left side of his face.

TEEN ARRESTED FOR STOLEN PROPERTY IN STUY TOWN
Police arrested a 15-year-old boy for possession of stolen property and possession of marijuana in front of 274 First Avenue Loop last Wednesday at 10:40 p.m. Police said that the teen was in possession of the victim’s property without permission and when he was searched, he was also in possession of a glass pipe with marijuana residue. Because the suspect is a minor, no further information about the incident was available.

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Town & Village co-hosts City Council debate at Waterside Plaza

On Thursday night, an evening of debate among the candidates running to replace Dan Garodnick in the City Council was held at Waterside Plaza. The event’s hosts were Town & Village newspaper, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management with the event taking place outdoors. A story covering the views of the various candidates on affordable housing, small businesses, issues affecting seniors, and the sanitation garage the city plans to build at the Brookdale campus, is forthcoming. Scroll down to see some photos from the debate, where all seats on the plaza were filled with a mixed crowd of community residents and candidates’ supporters.

Richard Ravitch, owner of Waterside Plaza and former lieutenant governor, makes opening remarks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Crowd at the debate

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal, event co-host

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Steinberg shoots down RSA’s argument that MCIs are ‘laughable’

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

At a Manhattan hearing of the Rent Guidelines Board, where both landlords and tenants were invited each year to give testimony on their respective suffering, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg took umbrage at one owner representative’s argument that MCIs are not sufficient rent increases.

She spoke up after Rent Stabilization Association president Jack Freund, whose organization represents landlords throughout the city, said at the hearing that Major Capital Improvements (MCIs) and preferential rent increases don’t offer enough income to sustain landlords.

“You cannot substitute MCI increases for maintenance and operating rent increases,” he said. “MCIs have nothing to do with this issue and the suggestion that preferential rents somehow should play into this, that you can eliminate the need for rent increases because owners can increase rent (with MCIs and preferential rent increases), is a ludicrous notion. Both of those suggestions, that MCIs and preferential rent increases, can somehow substitute for a necessary, across-the-board rent increase, are just laughable.”

Later, Steinberg, who said she’d originally planned to read pre-written testimony, changed her mind in order to respond to Freund.

“Perhaps he forgot that MCIs get onto a tenant’s rent in perpetuity,” she said during her testimony. “It goes way beyond recouping the landlord’s costs and if you’re a tenant living in a building and have received several MCIs that get added permanently on top of the RGB increases, that adds up really fast. Maybe it’s laughable for the landlord but it sure isn’t for tenants.”

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Letters to the editor, June 22

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

From ShopRite to shopper shuttles

Dear Editor,

I would like to add to the conversation regarding a supermarket on East 14th Street off First Avenue.

First let me say how pleased I am with the service, responsiveness, attitude and tone provided by our new owners and management. Kudos to them for taking into consideration tenants’ needs and interests. I am fortunate to have a car and therefore shop in Brooklyn. However, I “fill in” with items purchased at our local grocers. I understand why many people no longer purchase some items because of the exaggerated prices, sometime double what I pay in Brooklyn. Double.

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All candidates set to attend T&V/Waterside Council debate

Democrats Alec Hartman, Bessie Schachter, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson and Barry Shapiro and Republicans Melissa Jane Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary (Not pictured) Maria Castro

Town & Village has partnered with the Waterside Tenants Association and the management of Waterside Plaza to present an evening of debate between the candidates running for the City Council, District 4. The event will be held on Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m. for mingling with the candidates, with the debate beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. This has become a hotly contested race with 11 candidates hoping to win the seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick. All known registered candidates of both parties have been invited and have confirmed they’ll attend.

The candidates are Democrats Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Jeffrey Mailman, Bessie Schachter, Vanessa Aronson, Rachel Honig, Alec Hartman, Barry Shapiro and Maria Castro as well as Republicans Rebecca Harary and Melissa Jane Kronfeld.

The event will take place outdoors on the Plaza level with Janet Handal, the president of the Waterside Tenants Association, and Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot asking the candidates questions. Due to the number of candidates expected to participate, there will not likely be any time for additional questions from the audience.

If it rains, the event will take place inside 15 Waterside Plaza located on the Plaza. Waterside Plaza is east of the FDR Drive on the East River between 25th and 29th Streets. For directions, visit Waterside Plaza’s website. For more information about the event, contact Sabina Mollot at (212) 777-6611 x104 or editor@townvillage.net.

Man gropes woman in Stuyvesant Town elevator

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who groped a 30-year-old woman inside her building in Stuyvesant Town on Tuesday.

Police said that around 5:40 p.m., the suspect followed the victim inside her building, which is located in the vicinity of East 14th Street and the 14th Street Loop. He then followed her into an elevator and got out on the second floor, but as the elevator door was about to close he got back in and pressed the fifth floor button. When the elevator reached the fourth floor, and the victim was getting out, the man grabbed her buttocks under her skirt.

The victim then smacked the man and screamed, but according to cops, the suspect remained in the elevator for a time with the doors closed. He then fled the building in an unknown direction.

Police also believe the suspect had followed the victim as she was walking home from the subway station on 14th Street and First Avenue.

The suspect is described as Asian with a light complexion, approximately 20-27 years of age, 5’4″, 150 lbs., brown eyes, black hair, last seen wearing a black baseball hat, black sneakers, white shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782)

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

115 apts. in ST/PCV being reconfigured

TA worried about apartments being churned

By Sabina Mollot

Blackstone has recently embarked upon an “experiment” with 115 vacant apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that involves adding a new bedroom in most of them by reducing dining or living room space. The plan also will create some new studio apartments.

News of the project was announced on Tuesday by the ST-PCV Tenants Association, which is staunchly opposed to it over concerns it will just add to the “churning” of apartments rented by transients.

Susan Steinberg, president of the Tenants Association, said StuyTown Property Services first shared the plan with the TA about three weeks ago but at that time it had yet to get the greenlight of the Department of Buildings. At this point, however, the city has signed off on the project because the TA has learned construction has already begun.

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Details of the apartment conversions were shared in an email that was sent to neighbors along with the TA’s reasons for asking the landlord to scrap the whole project. In particular, Steinberg said, the Tenants Association is opposed to the Stuy Town subdivisions because in Peter Cooper, living rooms are spacious enough where losing some space wouldn’t be as drastic as the conversions in Stuy Town, which, the TA said, effectively turns living rooms into foyers.

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PCV woman abandons bid for City Council

Diane Grayson (Photo by Emmanuel Moline)

By Sabina Mollot

Diane Grayson, a Peter Cooper Village woman who’d been running for the City Council seat to be vacated next year by Dan Garodnick, has withdrawn from the race.

Reached recently by Town & Village, Grayson explained that she dropped out because she felt the current crop of candidates “represents the interests of the district.”

Grayson, 27, had been running as an Independent who’d promised to spend $50,000 of her own salary, if elected, on some sort of community program or service. Her platform focused on affordable housing and help for small businesses.

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All candidates set to attend T&V/Waterside Council debate

candidate banner color

(L-R) Democrats Alec Hartman, Bessie Schachter, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson and Barry Shapiro, and Republicans Melissa Jane Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary

Town & Village has partnered with the Waterside Tenants Association and the management of Waterside Plaza to present an evening of debate between the candidates running for the City Council, District 4. The event will be held on Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m. for mingling with the candidates, with the debate beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. This has become a hotly contested race with 11 candidates hoping to win the seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick. All known registered candidates of both parties have been invited and have confirmed they’ll attend.

The candidates are Democrats Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Jeffrey Mailman, Bessie Schachter, Vanessa Aronson, Rachel Honig, Alec Hartman, Barry Shapiro and Maria Castro as well as Republicans Rebecca Harary and Melissa Jane Kronfeld.

The event will take place outdoors on the Plaza level with Janet Handal, the president of the Waterside Tenants Association, and Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot asking the candidates questions. Due to the number of candidates expected to participate, there will not likely be any time for additional questions from the audience.

If it rains, the event will take place inside 15 Waterside Plaza located on the Plaza. Waterside Plaza is east of the FDR Drive on the East River between 25th and 29th Streets. For directions, visit Waterside Plaza’s website. For more information about the event, contact Sabina Mollot at (212) 777-6611 x104 or editor@townvillage.net.

Artist with MS protests Trumpcare by playing dead

june15 Solimanto in coffin

Rosary Solimanto in a handmade coffin in East Midtown (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

A chronically ill artist with a portfolio full of medically-themed performances protested Trumpcare on Tuesday by lying in a coffin on an East Side sidewalk.

For Rosary Solimanto’s newest installation, “Dead Without Health Care,” the performer, who has Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis and a rare condition called hypothyroidism, told Town & Village that she’d be in the coffin for 24 hours. When a T&V reporter got to the scene after 1 p.m. when she began, it was already 94 degrees out, but Solimanto remained in character, lying corpse-like as confused passersby tried to make sense of what they were seeing.

In an initial press release, the address given was Third Avenue in Kips Bay but the event wound up taking place about a mile north. The location was chosen because it was outside the building where New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have offices.

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Man slashed on the back outside Union Square subway

June22 slashing

Slashing suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who slashed a stranger on his back near the Union Square subway station on Saturday.

According to police, at 11:40 a.m., the victim, a 29-year-old man left the station with his fiancée when the other man snuck up behind him and slashed him with an unknown object. The victim chased his attacker back into the subway but the suspect managed to get away by darting onto a northbound 6 train.

Prior to the incident, the suspect was seen at the Myrtle/Wyckoff subway station, cursing at random passengers, cops said.

The victim was taken to Beth Israel Hospital for treatment to his injury, which wasn’t serious.

The suspect is described as Hispanic with a light complexion, approximately 35-40 years of age, and was last seen wearing a camouflage shirt and dark sunglasses.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.