Ten rescued after sea plane crashes in East River

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The NYPD rescued 10 people on the East River last Friday afternoon when a sea plane took a hard landing near East 23rd Street around 5:30 p.m. Police told CBS New York that the East Hampton-bound plane tried to take off three times but failed, and the nine passengers and the plane’s pilot were evacuated by the NYPD Harbor Unit.

FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala said at a press conference following the incident that struts supporting the left wing broke, which caused the aircraft to slant when it landed in the river.

Officials did not have further information on what caused the initial problems when the plane was attempting to take off, but Gala said that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating the incident.

TV producer Bill Lawrence, creator of “Scrubs” and “Spin City,” was one of the nine passengers rescued, along with his daughter. He told the news outlets at the scene that the plane seemed to reach an altitude of about 20 feet after trying to take off twice before it came down hard onto the river following the third attempt. Lawrence didn’t film the crash itself but posted photos on Instagram and Twitter showing the cockeyed plane with a wing partially submerged in the water.

Fly Tailwind, the plane’s operator, did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Council votes to support low-income tenants’ right to counsel

Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Mark Levine at the vote on the legislation (Photo via Mark Levine’s Twitter page)

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, the City Council voted overwhelmingly to support the right of tenants facing eviction to access free legal representation. In support were 42 Council members with three opposed and one abstention.

The mayor has already indicated his support for the bill, which was sponsored by Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson. The legislation, introduced in 2014, has since been pushed along by the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, which is made up of dozens of civic, tenant and legal assistance organizations.

The legislation likely took three years to get voted on due to the cost, which is estimated at $155 million a year. That figure is based on $93 million to be added to city money that’s already budgeted for similar services, around $62 million, according to Andrew Scherer, the policy director of Impact Center for Public Interest Law at New York Law School, who’s been deeply involved in the coalition’s efforts. Continue reading

An argument for seeing old favorites on the big screen

“The Taking of Pelham 123,” one of the films in Film Forum’s “Ford to City: Drop Dead” series that’s running through July 27

By Seth Shire

“Ford to City: Drop Dead—New York in the 70s” is a movie series playing at Film Forum now through July 27. The 70s, considered to be the last golden age of American cinema, is filled with some of my favorite movies, many of which were shot in New York. The titles in this series include “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “The Taking of Pelham 123” and many others.

On the one hand, this is a series tailor made for me. On the other hand, since I already own many of these movies on DVD, why should I pay to see them in a movie theater? Still, as a practical matter, how often do I actually watch the movies that I have on DVD? I think it’s an existential issue. In other words, having lots of movies on DVD means that I have the possibility of watching them, even if the reality is that I rarely watch them. This is the dilemma presented to the movie aficionado in the digital age, in which almost everything is available at his, or her, fingertips. Had home video and all its variations – VHS, laser disc, DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming – not been invented, then Film Forum’s series would be a “no-brainer” for me. Of course I would go. So saying I won’t see a particular film when it plays in a theater because I have it on a DVD that I almost never watch means running the risk of not seeing the film at all!

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Bullied as a kid, Stuy Town resident writes book aimed at helping others avoid the same treatment

Charles O’Connor (Photo by Burt Miller)

By Sabina Mollot

A lifelong resident of Stuyvesant Town who suffered at the hands of bullies throughout his childhood is hoping he can turn his own miserable experiences into a way to help kids who are getting victimized by today’s new crop of emoji-wielding tormentors.

Charles O’Connor, who said he dealt with bullying in his elementary and junior high school years, is now 56 years old and is shopping around a book he wrote on the subject. The book, however, isn’t just a memoir detailing the various playground beatings he got (although that is certainly in there). Written specifically for both younger and older kids, it aims to prepare kids for what happens if they do get bullied — how to deal and, ideally, avoid it altogether.

“It’s telling kids who are being troubled by bullies, ‘I’ve been there,’” said O’Connor of the book, Charles, Is Your Head on Your Shoulders?. “It gives them my perspective as a man in his 50s and I hope it can give them some assertiveness tips.” The title was inspired by a question he would hear all too often from a teacher, who was actually one of his bullies.

Typically, when children complain of being hassled by a peer, the canned response from adults is to just ignore it. That rather basic advice occasionally does have merit, though, according to O’Connor.

“Sometimes that’s worked for me,” he said. But, he noted, “You can have 10 different responses from 10 different bullies.” So his other tactics have also included trying to talk a bully out of fighting him. “One time I reasoned with a kid and said there’s no reason for us to fight and he backed off.”

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U-turn on Silver is bad for tenants: Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By Sabina Mollot

Following a stunning decision last Thursday by a federal judge to overturn the conviction for corruption against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Brad Hoylman is predicting more of the same bad behavior in Albany.

“I am concerned that the overturning of the Silver verdict might give a green light for some public officials to engage in legal graft,” said Hoylman, who’s been pushing for ethics reforms for years. Those reforms include the closure of the so-called LLC Loophole, limiting outside income for legislators, prohibiting convicted legislators from using campaign cash on their own defense and taking away convicted legislators’ pensions.

Additionally, Hoylman said he believes the court’s decision will hurt tenants in New York City.

“The Silver case props up the status quo and the status quo if left alone will result in the end of rent stabilization as we know it,” said Hoylman.

Hoylman added, “It’s up to the legislature to provide clarification (on what constitutes corruption). It’s up to the state of New York to pass laws that prevent that from happening, but given what we’ve seen, I don’t think the current Senate leadership has any desire to address this disaster, especially since their former leader may get off using the same argument that Sheldon Silver’s attorneys did.”

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Neighbors demand answers on planned E. 17th St. shelter

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Around a dozen leaders of neighborhood groups, who’d been stunned to learn late last month that the city planned to open a “Safe Haven” shelter in Stuyvesant Square, finally got to hear from the shelter’s operator, BRC, at a meeting last week.

Those attending the meeting, which was specifically held for representatives of local organizations, seemed wary but open-minded about the new 28-bed facility that is supposed to open in a former Beth Israel AIDS hospice building at 327 East 17th Street. The meeting was held at Mount Sinai Beth Israel last Wednesday evening.

Representatives from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and the Kips Bay Neighborhood Association were at the meeting and all wanted to know how the BRC, which runs the Safe Haven pilot program, would address safety concerns around the new shelter, especially because Safe Havens don’t have curfew requirements.

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Letters to the editor, July 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cluttered ballot? It could be worse

Re: “Not everyone should have a shot,” letter by Billy Sternberg, T&V, June 29

In the dark days of NYC politics, there were a select few making back-room deals to further their personal goals and enrich themselves over the people. Corruption and cronyism were rampant. Reformers lifted the veil on these political fixes and enabled candidates from all backgrounds to successfully run grass-roots campaigns to allow voters to decide who gets to represent us.

Volunteers from the Samuel J. Tilden club have been carrying nominating petitions in ST/PCV and the neighborhood for the past six weeks. These petitions allow for candidates to appear on the ballot, and to ultimately present themselves before the voters who will be able to make a choice of who among those running will be our next representative.

While there are several people who have announced their candidacy to replace the term-limited Mr. Garodnick, it is this diversity of choice that keeps the process transparent and free from corruption. It is now the difficult task of these candidates to earn our votes.

We encourage everyone to participate in the process and become informed citizens by participating in the political discourse. Go to a forum, ask questions of the candidates and understand their individual experiences and capabilities.

This is how we should elect our next political leaders: out in the open.

Sandro Sherrod and Louise Dankberg,
District Leaders 74th AD

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Sinkhole growing on bike lane at E. 23rd St.

Cyclists have been stopping short in front of this sinkhole, which was first reported to the city by Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal over two weeks ago. (Photos by Janet Handal)

By Sabina Mollot

Cyclists, beware.

A sinkhole that appeared earlier in the month has grown even larger as the ground continues to ripple on the bike lane at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive.

The sinkhole was reported to 311 on July 5 by Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, when she spotted it. But as of Wednesday, July 19 in the morning, it was still there, and, from what she’s observed, stretched into a yawning concrete chasm.

“A rapidly progressing collapse of the pedestrian-bike path in front of the 23rd Street Marina is happening and urgently needs to be attended to,” Handal said in an email.

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Thieves working together to steal phones from Manhattan stores

Cell phone theft suspects 1, 3 and 4

Police are looking for a group of five thieves who’ve been working in groups as well as alone to hit cell phone stores, including one in Union Square.

Cops said the most recent incident was on July 2 at an AT&T store at 31 East 17 Street west of Park Avenue South. One of the aforementioned individuals posed as a customer and then ripped a cell phone off the display case, where it had been attached by a security cable. He then fled the store.

The first known incident was on June 12 at an AT&T store at 33 Park Place near City Hall. Three men, or possibly teenagers, posed as customers and ripped three cell phones off the display case, after cutting through security cable.

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Dyke March celebrates 25 years of protesting

Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Women and the occasional man gathered on Fifth Avenue for the annual Dyke March at the end of last month, commemorating the 25th year for the protest.

The march originated in Washington, D.C. when groups organized protests the evening before the LGBT March on Washington in April 1993. The New York Lesbian Avengers, a group formed the year before to elevate issues important to lesbians, helped organized the logistics of the march and due to its success, organized a march in New York that June.

Organizers bill the event specifically as a protest and notably do not obtain permits for the march, which heads down Fifth Avenue from Bryant Park to the fountain in Washington Square Park.

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Man rubs against woman on L train at First Avenue

Forcible touching suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who rubbed himself against a female straphanger on the L train last Wednesday.

Police said the victim, a 33-year-old woman, was on the train at the First Avenue station when a man who was standing behind her forcibly rubbed himself against her buttocks. The victim then snapped a photo of the man who was sticking out his tongue before he fled the train. Police said it isn’t clear if the man was grinding against the woman with his crotch.

Update: The victim told DNAinfo he was gyrating his hips repeatedly and she could feel he was aroused.

The suspect is described as Hispanic, approximately 5’6″ with brown eyes and black hair and was last seen wearing an orange t-shirt.

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Unleash your inner artist at Manhattan parks this summer

Poet MC Hyland offered a bookmaking workshop last week at Madison Square Park. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

This time of year, even if you don’t get to go on vacation there are still some good times to be had thanks to free summer programming at a number of local parks. This is nothing new of course but this year the event organizers with The Madison Square Park Conservancy have changed things up by making some of its activities interactive.

The programming kicked off recently with the installation of “Prismatic Park,” a sculptural staging area where dancers, poets and spoken word artists have been invited to perform on the lawn. Then last week MC Hyland, a visiting poet was in the park for a few days to hold an event in which park goers were encouraged to stroll around with someone else and then have each person write something to give to their companion. The writing exercise actually began more specifically with participants instructed to write a poem, but Hyland, upon noticing people’s faces freeze at the thought of poetry, then began telling them to write anything.

“I understand for many people poetry is a scary word,” said Hyland, who adapted the activity based on her own habit of leading walks and then writing a poem for participants.

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Council candidate focused on housing, mental health services

Jasmin Sanchez (Photo courtesy of Jasmin Sanchez)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Lifelong Lower East Side resident Jasmin Sanchez had already been working in public service for most of her career when she decided to try to transfer those skills to the City Council.

Sanchez, who still lives in LaGuardia Houses in the Lower East Side where she grew up, has experience in the nonprofit sector, working with community leaders at Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and in State Senator Daniel Squadron’s office, which is where she said she learned how to be a community advocate. She is running for the Council seat in District 2, with City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez being term-limited out next year.

A major focus of Sanchez’s campaign is mental health services, primarily because it’s an issue that ties into not only healthcare, but can affect housing and education as well, and has an impact on homelessness. She added that she feels having affordable housing can sometimes be the lynchpin for communities and families, and that it can be especially detrimental for students if they have a tenuous living situation.

“If you don’t have housing, you don’t focus as much on everything else and your performance suffers,” she said.

“It’s not a stable life for kids from shelters. It can be very stressful for them not to have a stable place to live. Schools have mental health services but they have to be holistic and make sure that families are receiving those services as well.”

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Woman steals phone, then punches victim for taking it back

July20 robbery

Robbery suspect

Police are looking for a woman who attacked her victim at the Union Square subway station when the other woman confronted her for swiping her phone.

It was on Tuesday afternoon, when the victim, a 27-year-old woman, was going down the stairs to a 4 train platform when she noticed that her cell phone had just been swiped from her bag. The woman then confronted the pick-pocket and managed to get her phone back. The suspect put up a fight though, grabbing the victim by the hair and punching her multiple times in the head. She then fled the subway station.

The victim refused medical attention.

The suspect, who is wanted for robbery, is described as Hispanic, approximately 30 years old, 5’3″ tall, 100 lbs., with straight long brown hair, brown eyes and was last seen wearing a multi-colored dress.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident 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 Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Haven Plaza to become more disaster-resistant

The building to be located at 13th Street and Avenue C broke ground last month. (Rendering courtesy of CTA Architects)

By Sabina Mollot

When Superstorm Sandy struck nearly five years ago, the buildings at Haven Plaza, a low and middle-income apartment complex located a block south of Stuyvesant Town, incurred massive damage. Following an explosion at the nearby Con Ed generating plant, Haven Plaza’s electrical system shorted out. Along with everyone else living in the adjacent communities, residents of Haven Plaza’s 371 apartments were trapped without elevator service, electricity or heat. Men and women of the National Guard shared field rations with residents, many of them seniors, until the power returned.

Following the disaster, the property underwent a much-needed $50 million overhaul in repairs and renovations. This included work on roofs and elevators that had to be replaced.

Then last month, another major project with a price tag of nearly $10 million began aimed at preventing future disaster-related damage on the property.

That project is a new, two-story infrastructure building designed to be disaster-resistant as well as associated resiliency upgrades at the complex, which is located on Avenue C between 10th and 13th Streets.

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