CUNY students, pols protest tuition hikes

Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

City University of New York students, education advocates and local elected officials rallied on the Baruch Plaza at Lexington Avenue and East 25th Street last Thursday, protesting tuition hikes for CUNY students.

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein argued at the rally that more money should be allocated to the city and state university systems, and also said that bills he has introduced would help provide that funding.

One piece of legislation from Epstein, which is co-sponsored by Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, would impose a 2% sales tax on various luxury items, including vehicles, jewelry and clothing over a certain amount, and the tax would be distributed equally to SUNY and CUNY. Another bill would increase taxes on beer and would direct the revenue generated from the tax to SUNY and CUNY, with Epstein noting that New York currently has one of the lowest beer taxes in the country. The bill would increase the tax to 30 cents per gallon, up from 14.

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Police Watch: Teens busted for robberies in separate incidents

TEENS BUSTED FOR ROBBERIES

Police arrested two teenagers in the 13th precinct for multiple robberies that took place at the end of last month.

A man was walking to the 1 train from work on January 23 around 1:35 a.m. when he said that six people approached him, tackled him to the ground and took his phone from his pocket. One of the teens was arrested for the robbery on January 31. Police said that three suspects were caught on February 3, 4 and 5, respectively.

Two of the teens arrested for this robbery were also charged in connection with an incident that took place around 2:30 a.m. on the same day, when police said that the two teens assaulted him and removed his cell phone and wallet from his jacket.

TEENS NABBED FOR ROBBERY IN CHELSEA

Police arrested a 19-year-old and another teenager involved in a robbery and fight at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 17th Street on Wednesday, February 5 at 2:32 p.m. Police said that the two suspects who were arrested were working with two other people who weren’t arrested, and the group approached the victim’s and got into an argument that escalated into a fight.

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Maloney challenger Erica Vladimer ending campaign

Erica Vladimer (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

District 12 congressional candidate and Upper East Side resident Erica Vladimer is ending her bid to replace incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Vladimer announced the end of her campaign in an emailed statement to supporters last Friday.

Vladimer said that she made the decision after difficulties fundraising and also due to a struggle with health issues, partially due to a lack of insurance since she’s been campaigning.

“Knowing myself personally, and knowing that anything I chose to do, I want to do my best, I realized that I couldn’t do that and didn’t feel comfortable with that,” she said of the overall decision.

Vladimer said that for a newcomer like herself, it was difficult to get momentum against Maloney, who already has a fundraising base as an incumbent congresswoman.

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Peter Cooper Village senior scammed

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are asking for the public’s assistance in finding men who scammed a Peter Cooper Village senior out of more than $9,000 last month.

The 77-year-old victim told police that the unidentified men called her between 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, January 16 and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, January 17, telling her that her grandson had been involved in a car accident and he required money for bail. After speaking to the victim by phone, one of the suspects met the victim at her apartment near 2 Peter Cooper Road and got $9,200 in cash from her.

The next day, the suspects called the victim back and said that in order to expunge her grandson’s arrest record, she would have to pay an additional $7,000. The victim had become suspicious, so when the suspects arrived to collect the second payment, she handed them miscellaneous papers in an envelope and not the additional requested sum.

Police said that on both occasions, the suspects fled towards Second Avenue when they left the victim’s apartment building. The victim was not injured as a result of the incident.

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Openings and closings in the neighborhood

The Trader Joe’s on East 14th Street across from Stuyvesant Town has opened. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Business activity in Kips Bay and Gramercy in the last month has been strangely representative of trends throughout the city, at least regarding grocery stores: following a little bit of a “will they/won’t they” melodrama, longtime New York chain Fairway announced that it would be closing a number of their stores while Trader Joe’s, one of the chains blamed for Fairway’s demise, has finally opened across from Stuyvesant Town.

Recently opened 

Trader Joe’s, 436 East 14th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, traderjoes.com

The aforementioned Trader Joe’s officially opened across from Stuyvesant Town at the beginning of the year. Local blog EV Grieve reported that the grand opening was on January 6. The location features local artwork and is managed by a “store captain” who has been with the company for 14 years. Rumors of the new store on East 14th were first reported in 2017, in the years following the demolition of the building that once contained the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office. The store is in the retail space of an eight-story luxury rental building called EVE. 

The Dip, 58 St. Marks Place, between First and Second Avenues, (646) 559-9050,  thedipnyc.com

Gothamist reported at the end of December that a new sandwich spot had opened on St. Mark’s Place. The shop primarily offers sandwiches and focuses on the French Dip, a kind of hot sandwich made of thinly sliced roast beef with cheese that is served with a container of beef broth. In addition to a French Dip sandwich, the spot offers a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, grilled cheese, corned beef and other options. The restaurant, which occupies a narrow space with about six stools along an eating counter, is open Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. The spot is closed on Mondays.

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Man’s skull fractured in New Year’s Day assault

The New York City Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in locating these unidentified men who are wanted in connection to an assault that occurred in the East Village just after New Year’s.

It was reported to the police that on January 1 around 4 a.m., a 25-year-old male victim was assaulted by three unidentified males near East 9th Street and Avenue A. The victim was removed to Bellevue Hospital with a fractured skull and broken nose.

Anyone with information in regard to the identity of these men is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Maloney challenger proposes free public transit

District 12 Congressional candidate Peter Harrison (standing, center) announced his transit plan at East 14th Street and First Avenue this past Tuesday with (from left to right) Brooklyn City Council candidate Victoria Cambranes and activists Dustin Jones and Dannelly Rodriguez. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuy Town resident and Congressional candidate Peter Harrison announced his campaign to make public transit free and increase accessibility throughout the system on Tuesday morning at the corner of First Avenue and East 14th Street.

Harrison’s proposal, the “Freedom of Movement in America Plan,” calls on the federal government to spend $1.7 trillion on public transportation over the next 10 years. One component of the plan is to make transit completely fare-free and provide $17 billion in federal funding to cover fare revenue, in addition to providing $9 billion in funding for paratransit in order to achieve 100% accessibility for public transit.

Another aspect of the proposal would fund the Federal Railroad Administration in order to invest $150 billion in Amtrak, $150 billion into the development of high-speed rail and update rolling stock to decarbonized, emission-free systems within 12 years at a cost of $500 million a year.

Harrison, a Democratic Socialist who is challenging incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in District 12, said that his plan isn’t intended to punish car-owners, but aims to make transportation more accessible for everyone, especially residents who can’t afford cars.

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Former Stuy Town resident writes book set in the neighborhood

Wayne pictured in his Stuyvesant Town apartment in 2012 (Photo by Christopher Gabello)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Former Stuy Town resident and author Teddy Wayne used his former home as inspiration for a new novel set in and around the property that is set to debut on February 25.

The novel, “Apartment,” is set in 1996, about seven years before Wayne moved into the neighborhood, so he conducted some background research on the neighborhood to make sure the details were accurate, such as whether or not the fountain was on the Oval then and if certain businesses in the area were open at the time. But Wayne said it was the environment in the neighborhood and the property that inspired him to examine the loneliness of these specific city dwellers.

“It was a formative place in my 20s,” he said. “I wanted to write a novel that revolves around this apartment and explore a friendship through this confined space.”

The story follows an unnamed narrator who is attending an MFA program while living in an illegal sublet in Stuyvesant Town, and he offers a spare bedroom rent-free to a classmate.

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Ave. A entrance for L train opening outside Stuy Town next week

A new entrance for the L train on the north side of East 14th Street at Avenue A is expected to open on Monday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town will soon be getting its long-awaited subway at Avenue A when a new entrance for the L train opens on the north side of East 14th Street next week. The MTA and New York City Transit announced last Saturday that the north entrance at Avenue A for the First Avenue station is expected to open by Monday, February 10.

Shortly after the new entrance opens, the north side entrance at First Avenue and East 14th Street will be closed for renovations.

The First Avenue entrance on the south side of East 14th Street is currently scheduled to reopen in April, while the entrance on the north side should reopen in May. A representative for the MTA said that the entrance on the south side will take longer than the three months on the north side because of additional work at that entrance, including several structural steel beams that needed to be removed and replaced.

According to the L project newsletter, the L train will be accessible in both directions through this new entrance at Avenue A once the trains start running on one track only for the weekend work beginning on Friday, February 14 around 9:45 p.m. Subway riders should use the Avenue A entrance on the north side to access the train in both directions on weekends and on weeknights during single-tracking while the work on the First Avenue entrances is being completed.

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 6

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The overwhelming climate crisis

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the climate change crisis? If so, you are not alone and have reasons to feel stressed. According to scientists, we are facing the sixth global extinction; but whereas the previous five extinctions happened over millions of years, this one is taking place within only 200 years and we are at the beginning of it. One psychological problem of the climate change crisis is the uncertainty of a fixed date of when it will hit you and your family catastrophically. This vagueness can lead in many to inaction and/or procrastination which in turn leads to more stress and feelings of hopelessness.

Are things hopeless? Not yet. If you live in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village you are blessed to have witnessed over recent years management’s deep commitment to promoting “green” actions, for instance the installation of almost 10 000 solar panels for renewable energy, and many other energy saving steps (for this they received the 2018 Platinum LEED Award) . You can personally assist their efforts by faithfully recycling, composting, saving water and electricity in your apartment and by generally avoiding waste.

The city and state of New York are heavily engaged in energy saving projects such as reducing car traffic, and banning plastic bags to name just two. Globally, at the recent Economic Forum in Davos alarm bells regarding climate change were sounding, a new development.

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Police Watch: Arrests made in fight at East 14th St. bodega

TWO ARRESTED FOR FIGHT AT EAST 14TH ST. BODEGA

Police arrested a store clerk and a customer after a fight inside Community Grocery and Candy at 353 East 14th Street on Saturday, February 1 at 10:08 a.m. A 28-year-old man who was arrested reportedly walked into the store to buy cigarettes with a group of people. The 69-year-old employee, who was also arrested, said that the group started arguing with store owners while the 28-year-old man said that the store owners were speaking to the group disrespectfully. Police said that the 28-year-old man went behind the counter and started fighting with the employee, causing injuries to his head. The 69-year-old man reportedly hit the other man in the head and face with a wooden sword. Both were charged with assault and the 69-year-old man was also charged with weapons possession. The 28-year-old man was taken to Beth Israel for treatment.

FIVE ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY ON FIRST AVENUE

Police arrested five people for a robbery that took place at the corner of East 15th Street and First Avenue on Thursday, January 30 at 3:29 a.m. The victim told police that he was picking up passengers at the location and the four girls got into the vehicle while being loud and disruptive, and then began to punch the driver in the head, causing cuts to his face and the top of his head. The passengers then grabbed his cell phone and fled the vehicle, but four girls matching the suspects’ description were stopped at East 17th Street and Second Avenue. The victim’s phone was recovered after the suspects were arrested. The suspects included two 18-year-olds, two 19-year-olds and a 20-year-old, who reportedly gave a false name when she was initially arrested and was also charged with impersonation.

TEEN BUSTED FOR PHONE SNATCHING

Police arrested a teenager for a theft in front of 146 West 23rd Street on Wednesday, January 29 at 7:26 p.m. The victim told police that she was walking west on West 23rd Street on the north side of the street with her phone in her hand and the suspect was walking in the opposite direction on the same side of the street. The victim said that the suspect then snatched her phone out of her hand and fled, but he was arrested shortly after. The teen was charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property. Police said that the boy was taken into custody by the homeless outreach unit.

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Opinion: Hear no evil, speak no evil

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

So it’s come down to this… after all the time spent in investigations and hearings and the mountain of evidence documenting Donald Trump’s wrongdoings to benefit himself while undermining American interests, the Trump defense against the impeachment charges is that the president can do anything he wants so long as he is not accused of breaking a specific law.

But his lawyers go even further asserting that even if the president does break the law, he may not be prosecuted while serving as president. Game, set, match.

And if there may be a crime, the president can refuse, with impunity, to hand over documents and can forbid witnesses from testifying who may have first-hand knowledge of the president’s actions.

Furthermore, the Republican majority in the Senate who are running this trial do not wish to be confused with the facts, or even know the facts. So they are doing their damndest to forbid witnesses or requests for withheld documents from the president. It is unclear whether Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who says he wants to offer important information, will be allowed to testify. Why the hell not? It’s not that hard to figure out.

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Small Business Services releases report on BIDs

Union Square (Photo by Liz Ligon)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) issued a report this month highlighting the significant impact of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across New York City, including local BIDs in Union Square and the Flatiron District.

“BIDs create vibrant, clean, and safe districts that improve neighborhoods and commercial corridors by investing back into their communities,” SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop said. “This report highlights the long-standing partnership between the City and BIDs, working together to build a stronger New York.”

The report noted that BIDs throughout the city provide supplemental services offering sanitation and public safety that have helped shopping corridors feel safe for visitors and members of the community.

Regarding safety, the report pointed to the collaboration between the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and the Union Square Partnership after the steam pipe explosion in July 2018, which affected 125 businesses in 49 buildings in the Union Square and Flatiron neighborhoods. The report noted that the Flatiron BID played an important communication and coordination role, coordinating with city agencies, sharing information door-to-door and organizing a community briefing that offered updates on the incident. The Flatiron BID then partnered with the Union Square Partnership, as well as the Village Alliance farther downtown, that November to host a forum on emergency preparedness.

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Epstein hosts town hall for East Side residents

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein spoke at a recent town hall about legislation he recently introduced that aims to increase job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein held his second annual town hall last weekend to address concerns in the community on housing, as well as disability rights, climate change, prison reform and education. The event was held in the Friends Seminary at 218 East 16th Street and US Senator Charles Schumer also made an appearance near the end of the town hall after a stop at the Chinese New Year celebration in Lower Manhattan in order to provide an update for residents in the community about the impeachment trial.

Advocates broke off into panels for the majority of the town hall to discuss each of the topics but housing was combined into one panel at the end of the afternoon. Yonatan Tadele and Alex Lee of Cooper Square Committee, Barika Williams of Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, and Munir Smith of GOLES discussed preservation of affordable housing and how tenants can protect themselves against predatory landlords, as well as what advocates still need to work towards after the success of last year’s strengthening of the rent laws.

Williams said that homeownership should be part of the conversation in addition to the discussion about the rent laws.

“Sometimes you’re like, I don’t want to have to fight this renter fight for the rest of my life, and maybe would like to purchase a home,” she said. “So we have to be able to think of those things and we’ve got to think about preserving our stock. There’s going to be a huge battle to make sure that that housing doesn’t all go to market rate because then we’re right back where we started fighting.”

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Local Democratic club endorses Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney at forum

The Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club endorsed Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in her re-election bid over her four Democratic challengers. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club voted to endorse Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for re-election after a forum featuring the current representative and four of her Democratic opponents on Tuesday evening at the New York New Church on East 35th Street.

Stuy Town resident Peter Harrison, Upper East Side resident Erica Vladimer, Long Island City resident Lauren Ashcraft and Lower East Side resident Suraj Patel made their case in their campaigns against the longtime incumbent at the event co-organized by the Tilden Democrats, Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats, Four Freedoms, Coalition of a District Alternative (CODA), East River Democratic Club and Lexington Democrats. Tilden previously endorsed Maloney for re-election in November.

Members of the various Democratic clubs that were in attendance submitted questions for each of the candidates, focusing on topics such as housing, transportation, education and infrastructure. ERDC District Leader Mike Corbett lead the forum last Tuesday.

All of the candidates said that they are supportive of protecting and expanding affordable housing as well as protecting public housing, although Congresswoman Maloney was the only candidate who specified where she believes the district needs more affordable housing.

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