Opinion: Running out the clock

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

To understand what is going on between President Trump, his attorney general, other high-ranking administration officials and the Democrats in the House of Representatives, it is useful to understand basketball strategy. When the game clock is winding down in a close basketball game, the team that is barely ahead and has the ball tries to make sure that the opposing team does not get another shot at scoring a bucket. So they protect the ball or just pass it back and forth to themselves.

With 535 days left before the next presidential election the Trump team is doing just that. Democrats in Congress have issued a subpoena to obtain the full unredacted report by Robert Mueller after newly appointed Attorney General William Barr refused to release parts of it. Barr said NO. Tick, tick, tick. Democrats have also subpoenaed President Trump’s concealed tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service. Thus far Trump and his Treasury secretary have said NO. Tick, tick, tick.

Democrats in Congress have requested bank records from a financial institution, which loaned Trump billions of dollars for questionable business dealings, that is now under scrutiny. Trump is suing to block that disclosure. They also want key Trump officials to testify at Congressional hearings regarding a variety of matters now under investigation. Trump is asserting “Executive Privilege” to try to block their testimony which might prove either embarrassing or unveil information about obstruction of justice during the Mueller investigation. Tick, tick, tick.

And to add to the president’s woes, The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee just subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to return and clarify information that he provided about contacts with Russian operatives during the 2016 election…Uh-oh.

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Editorial: Council bills will make a difference

Last week, the City Council passed a slew of bills aimed at tenant protection, and while not yet law, the mayor has indicated he’ll support them.

This is a tremendous relief. We believe these bills would go a long way in protecting tenants from landlords who flout the law, from making aggressive buyout offers to using construction as a form of harassment to blatantly lying on applications.

Additionally, the fact that so many housing bills were introduced shows how badly this intervention was needed in the first place. A perfect example is Council Member Keith Powers’ bill to crack down on landlords who lie in construction documents about whether or not their buildings have rent regulated tenants. This legislation was inspired by behavior by the Kushner Companies, who failed to disclose the presence of such tenants in 17 buildings a total of 42 times when filing applications to the Department of Buildings.

Another helpful bill will improve communication between city agencies with oversight of housing, making it easier to catch these inaccuracies.

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Maloney bill that would reveal true owners of LLCs gaining support

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney discusses her legislation in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Maloney)

By Sabina Mollot

For the past decade, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been pushing legislation aimed at preventing money laundering, often via real estate purchases, by cracking down on shell companies.

On Tuesday, May 14, Maloney held a press conference in Washington, DC about the bill, which she said is finally starting to gain traction in Congress along with having the support of law enforcement agencies, banks, credit unions and four real estate industry associations. Real estate groups in support of the bill are American Escrow Association, American Land Title Association, National Association of REALTORS, Real Estate Services Providers Council, Inc. (RESPRO).

“I’ve never had such huge support for one of my bills before,” said Maloney. “If this bill passes, it’ll be harder to finance terrorism.”

After reintroducing the Corporate Transparency Act, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Peter King and Tom Malinowski last week, she expects it to have a markup soon. A markup, unlike a hearing, is aimed at getting legislation passed in committee and moved onto the house floor. There have already been hearings for this bill, and there is also one set for next week. The bill hasn’t yet been discussed in the Senate.

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Town & Village Hardware closing

Town & Village owner Peter Bergida (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After 25 years in business, Town & Village Hardware will be closing at the end of June.

One of the shop’s two owners, Ukraine-born Peter Bergida, said he’s turning 69 and plans to retire as does his partner Dave Sidoti.

A sign now hanging in the storefront says Town & Village is teaming up with H. Brickman & Sons Ace hardware across the avenue in Stuyvesant Town. However, this is only temporary. Bergida explained that he and Sidoti will be working at the other store, a family-owned franchise, over the summer to answer customers’ questions.

“We’ll work there maybe for a month or two to help people in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village,” said Bergida. “We’ve been here for 25 years so we know what they need.”

And then, unless something changes, it’s on to retirement.

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Kips Bay residents still concerned about ACS teens

Administration for Children’s Services Deputy Commissioner Winette Saunders (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Earlier this year, representatives from the Administration for Children’s Services facility on First Avenue told the Kips Bay community that the agency is working to do more to keep the young people in its care motivated to stay onsite (and incidentally, out of trouble) through new and expanded programming.

However, as of this week, area residents said teenagers staying at the center have continued to wander the neighborhood at night, causing trouble.

Neighbors voiced their concerns on Tuesday night at the most recent meeting held by the 13th Precinct’s Neighborhood Coordinating Officer program for the precinct’s Sector D — the area that covers Kips Bay and Peter Cooper Village.

Eddie Ocasid, the building superintendent for 485 First Avenue, said that teens staying at the ACS building appear unsupervised after 9 p.m. and are often disruptive to residents until 4 in the morning on some nights.

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Ecological City Procession for Climate Solutions returns

Ecological City, a march with performances aimed at highlighting climate change, made its way through the East Village and Lower East Side on Saturday. (Photos by Rachel Elkind)

Environmental activists resembling aquatic creatures as well as land animals and other nature-inspired characters marched, danced and recited poetry as they made their way through the East Village and Lower East Side on Saturday.

The colorful costume parade was the second annual Ecological City Procession for Climate Solutions, organized by Earth Celebrations founder/director Felicia Young.

(Click through to see more photos from the procession)

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City Council passes 17 tenant bills

The City Council Housing and Buildings Committee holds a vote on anti-displacement bills the day before they were passed by the full Council on Wednesday, May 8. (Photo courtesy of City Council)

By Sabina Mollot

Last fall, the City Council introduced a package of 18 bills aimed at preventing tenants from being displaced due to aggressive tactics from landlords like exploitative buyout agreements or nuisance construction. On Wednesday, May 8, all but one passed. They still require the mayor’s signature, but he has indicated his support for them.

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Jane Meyer said, “From free access to legal services in housing court to the new Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants, this administration has been fighting for tenants from day one. These bills will help bolster our efforts to protect all New Yorkers.”

Here is a rundown of what each of the City Council bills will do:

Property owners will be required to share certain information about the terms of a buyout agreement a tenant is entering into with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) within 90 days. The bill’s sponsor is Mark Levine.

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Letters to the editor, May 16

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Dems suffering from acute wimp-itis

To the Editor:

Based on the annual landlord-friendly rent increases tenants received for 20 years from the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, I would think that Rent Guidelines Board  members are appointed by the mayor. If so, why is the RGB, under our current mayor, discussing any rent increases at all? If they are considering landlord expenses in their deliberations, they should take into account the fact that landlord expenses were much, much lower than the yearly rent increases they received for 20 years from the Republican administrations. Tenants should receive the same treatment at landlords. Thus, they would not have to suffer any increases for 20 years.

If only the Democrats in power in New York and the House of Representatives in DC did not suffer from wimped-out disease. What are they afraid of? If they don’t act with strength and courage now, they won’t have a job anymore. I say rent freeze and impeachment. Now!

John Cappelletti, ST

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Police Watch: Man accused of running over traffic cop’s foot, Man allegedly beat victim with bottle

MAN ACCUSED OF RUNNING OVER TRAFFIC COP’S FOOT WITH CAR
Police arrested 61-year-old Dewei Liang for leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury in front of 37 East 19th Street on Monday, April 15 at 2:25 p.m. An NYPD traffic enforcement agent said that he was issuing a summons to Liang’s commercial vehicle when Liang returned. When the agent attempted to put the summons on the car, Liang allegedly said, “Don’t put that ticket on my windshield; give it to me here.” When the officer handed the summons to Liang, he took the ticket and allegedly moved the vehicle forward abruptly, running over the victim’s right foot and causing pain. Liang then fled the scene, police said. Liang was charged inside the 13th Precinct on Monday, May 6 at 5:50 p.m.

MAN ALLEGEDLY BEAT VICTIM WITH BOTTLE
Police arrested 35-year-old Kaseim McMillon for an alleged assault in front of 155 West 21st Street on Saturday, May 11 at 7:07 a.m. McMillion allegedly punched the victim in the face, then picked up a glass bottle that he used as a weapon and reportedly beat the victim multiple time, causing cuts on the victim’s mouth and cheek. Police said that the victim also had multiple bruises and bumps on the back of his head and was unconscious before police arrived at the scene.

When paramedics arrived, the victim wasn’t able to answer any questions because he said that he could not remember anything, including his name. The victim was taken to Bellevue to be treated and to get stitches on his upper lip.

McMillion was positively identified by the witness who had called 911, who also observed the incident as it was happening. McMillion allegedly told police on the scene that he was only “defending himself.” Police said that McMillon was possibly an emotionally disturbed person.

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Cannabis Parade and rally at Union Square

A man wears a marijuana-inspired flag as he joined hundreds at the 2019 Cannabis Parade and Rally in Union Square on Saturday, May 4.

Photos by Jefferson Siegel

Hundreds marched down Broadway to Union Square on Saturday in the Cannabis Parade and Rally. The annual event drew people, some puffing away on indeterminate substances, who listened to speakers call for a renewed push for marijuana legalization in Albany before the legislative session ends in June.

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Opinion: The politics of giving

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Several weeks ago, I wrote a column describing the utter futility of Bill de Blasio’s flirtation with a race for president and his frequent trips out of town in pursuit of that office. An avid Town & Village reader emailed us this week to ask why persons would contribute to such a campaign with little or no hope of victory. The answers are varied.

Yes, there are some political donors who truly believe in a particular candidate come hell or high water or ones who are close friends or relatives. Some candidates run for higher office thinking like those who play the lottery. Even though the probability of success is near zero, as the Power Ball slogan exclaims, “Hey, you never know” or “You can’t win it if you are not in it.” The chances of winning the jackpot and the odds of a nondescript candidate winning the presidency is about the same.

In the case of Donald Trump, he at least had a celebrity following from his business ventures, tabloid exposure, and his television show “The Apprentice.” None of those experiences qualified him to be president, but it did give him universal name recognition and political momentum as a candidate.

But back to Bill de Blasio and other office seekers who are not counted amongst the rich and the famous.

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Editorial: It ain’t over til it’s over

As members of the New York State Assembly made very clear last week at a packed hearing, landlords in this city don’t have as many friends as they used to have in Albany. Newly-elected members of the State Senate have also been promising that 2019 will be the year of the tenant.

But New York City renters have had local elected officials whispering sweet nothings about fighting the good fight for affordability for ages, only to see small returns in the past few years. Additionally, while the dymanics of power have unquestionably shifted recently, Albany is still Albany. This means tenants shouldn’t take anything for granted and assume every elected official who claims to care about affordable housing actually does.

If we want to see the end of a system designed to consistently chip away at the city’s remaining stock of affordable housing, than New Yorkers must make their voices heard before the rent regulations expire in June 15. The Assembly is on board but if tenants have a moment, it doesn’t hurt to call state senators and the governor’s office and make a point  of why stronger rent regulations, in particular the repeal of vacancy decontrol, which will decrease the incentive for a landlord to try and push a tenant out, are necessary and urgent.

Woman, 73, mugged near Stuyvesant Town

May16 Mugging suspect

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who pushed a 73-year-old woman to the ground on East 19th Street and stole her purse.

The victim was walking at the southwest corner of 19th Street and First Avenue on Saturday at around 9:45 p.m. when the man came up to her and shoved her, police said.

The mugger then took off with her purse, which contained $300 in cash, an iPhone and various credit cards and IDs.

The woman, whose forehead was cut when she fell and also suffered bruising, was taken to Beth Israel.

The suspect is described as being black, in his teens or 20s and roughly 5 ft. 8 ins.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls are confidential.

Alleged serial pharmacy shoplifter arrested

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested an alleged serial shoplifter for multiple thefts from pharmacies on First Avenue since January who had previously been arrested that same month for more than a dozen other alleged thefts last year.

Town & Village previously reported that Sam Lee, 32, was arrested in January after he reportedly stole from the Walgreens in Stuyvesant Town more than a dozen times since last summer. Police said that Lee stole shampoo and toothpaste from the store at 298 First Avenue.

Not long after he was arrested for the first string of alleged thefts, Lee reportedly stole from the same Walgreens again later the same month. Police said that Lee entered the Walgreens on January 16 and took multiple bottles of shampoo.Shortly after that, Lee went into the CVS at 253 First Avenue and allegedly removed multiple Clif bars. On February 8, police said that Lee went into the First Avenue CVS and  stole multiple body hygiene products and multiple Dove products from the store on March 12. Police said that Lee went into the Walgreens at 298 First Avenue on March 20 and took multiple bottles of shampoo.

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Maloney on fire at Met Gala

CAMP CHAMP–At a star-studded bash that’s become a glorified photo op, one guest made that work to her advantage, while decked out in FDNY. (Photo courtesy of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney)

By Sabina Mollot

At a party jam packed with celebrities and others jockeying for the position of the guest with the most “camp” outfit, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney still managed to stand out, glowing in an FDNY jacket.

The congresswoman was in attendance at the Met Gala, which is considered to be one of the toughest, if not the toughest events in town to get on the guest list to. However, the veteran legislator wasn’t there to preen.

The firefighter’s jacket was worn in an attempt to draw attention to the 9/11 compensation fund for first responders. Its upcoming expiration, Maloney is warning, will leave thousands of responders and their families without badly needed money.

Maloney was gifted the fireman’s jacket by 9/11 first responders and has pledged to wear it to all events, including the Met Gala, in the hope of growing support for her legislation aimed at renewing and permanently funding the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.

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