Police Watch, July 17

Assault suspect

Assault suspect

COP IN COMA AFTER ASSAULT
The New York City Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a man who assaulted an off-duty NYPD detective in the confines of the 13th Precinct.
Last Saturday, a 29-year-old off-duty NYPD detective was standing on the southbound 6 train platform at the 23rd Street and Park Avenue station at 6:23 p.m. when the other man punched him. The blow knocked the detective down onto the platform, where he hit his head and sustained a severe head injury. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition. The suspect, who was accompanied by two women, fled the subway station on foot.
According to the Daily News, the detective had gotten into an argument with the man before the suspect punched him in the face. Gothamist reported on Sunday that the cop is now in a medically-induced coma.
The suspect is described as a black man in his early 40s, approximately 5’9” and 200 lbs. He is described as wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

‘RECKLESS’ CYCLIST NABBED ON THIRD AVE.
Police arrested 36-year-old Shi Chen for reckless endangerment at 344 Third Avenue last Tuesday at 12:25 p.m. Chen was riding his bicycle on Third Avenue approaching East 25th Street. He was allegedly speeding and went through a steady red light. When he was going through the intersection, he almost hit a woman who was crossing the street in the crosswalk with her baby, police said.

EXPOSED ON E. 23RD ST.
After responding to a complaint from a pedestrian about man exposing himself on the sidewalk, police arrested Jason Ecnatiowicz, 33, last Tuesday, in front of the Foundry building at 310 East 23rd Street. Police said upon searching him, they found that he was allegedly in possession of a pipe with unknown drug residue and an unlabeled bottle of pills. He was arrested for alleged possession of a controlled substance, but not public lewdness.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT
Twenty-six-year-old Cikizwa Nkonzombi was arrested for assault at 112 East 23rd Street last Wednesday at 1:16 p.m. The victim told police that Nkonzombi was upset about the amount of money she was being charged in lawyer fees. She allegedly became enraged and began to throw paper around and strike the victim, who sustained small scratches to his hands.

‘JOYRIDER’ NABBED ON E. 20TH
Police arrested 20-year-old Shadi Torres for grand larceny last Wednesday at 12:24 a.m. in front of 601 East 20th Street. Torres allegedly entered a utility vehicle that had been left unattended and then went joyriding, hitting three vehicles and causing damage to those vehicles and the truck that he was driving.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘SEX ABUSE’
Police arrested 28-year-old Duraiarasan Arivudai for sexual abuse in front of 161 West 15th Street last Monday at 6:49 p.m. The victim told police that she was walking east on the sidewalk when Arivudai ran up to her and pushed her against a UPS truck, causing her to hit her head on the truck. Arivudai also allegedly grabbed her head and tried to kiss her.

UNLICENSED ‘MASSEUSE’ BUSTED
Thirty-six-year-old Ping Du was arrested for violating New York State law in front of 101 West 25th Street last Friday at 4 p.m. Du allegedly gave a massage to an undercover officer and could not produce a valid New York State massage license when asked.

PAIR BUSTED FOR ‘POT’
Police arrested 55-year-old Mark Gaffney and 17-year-old Tairyn Rosario for possession of marijuana at 3 East 15th Street last Monday at 8:23 p.m. Gaffney and Rosario were allegedly each holding a joint in plain view on a public sidewalk.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘K2’
Police arrested 57-year-old Marcos Cardenas at Sixth Avenue and West 26th Street after Cardenas was seen allegedly smoking synthetic marijuana.

BAG ‘THIEF’ BAGGED
A fourteen-year-old boy was arrested for grand larceny in front of 22 East 17th Street last Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. A man told police that he had left his Under Armour bookbag under the seat unattended at McDonald’s while walking his friend out to the front. After he returned to his seat, he saw that his bag was gone. A little while later, an NYPD lieutenant saw the teen at 22 East 17th Street. The teen was looking through the bag and seemed excited that there was a laptop in it. After the teen was arrested and brought to the precinct, the victim confirmed that the bag was his. The value of his stolen property was $1,655.

MAN FOUND SLEEPING INSIDE CHASE BANK
Police arrested 46-year-old Adolphus Ward for trespassing at the Chase bank at 501 Second Avenue last Wednesday at 6:57 a.m. Ward was allegedly inside the bank’s ATM area without permission.

BIKE ‘THIEF’ BUSTED
Police arrested 45-year-old Kenneth Finch at 60 West 23rd Street last Wednesday at 2:57 p.m. for possession of burglar’s tools. Finch was allegedly cutting a lock that secured a bicycle at the above location and the victim confirmed that it was his bike. Finch was also in possession of a knife that was bigger than four inches, police said.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘KNIFE’
Forty-nine-year-old Gabriel Blake was arrested for weapons possession last Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. in front of 177 West 25th Street. Blake was suspiciously looking into the plastic bag that another man was carrying and he was allegedly carrying a gravity knife in public view. He also had a small gravity knife in his wallet, police said.

‘DRUNK’ DRIVER NABBED AT SIXTH AVE.
Police arrested 27-year-old Rosemary Lee for intoxicated driving at Sixth Avenue and West 26th Street last Thursday at 1:19 a.m. Lee was allegedly operating the vehicle with an obstructed license plate and when she was stopped, police found that she appeared to be driving under the influence of alcohol. She was tested at the scene with a portable Breathalyzer and recorded a level of .134.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘DRUGS’
Police arrested 50-year-old Garry Boake for possession of a controlled substance at Broadway and West 28th Street last Thursday at 3:45 p.m. Boake was allegedly purchasing marijuana from another unapprehended person at the corner and when police searched him, they found that he was in possession of a controlled substance.

MAN ARRESTED IN STUY COVE PARK
Police have been regularly making arrests of people sleeping or lying on benches in public parks or being in the parks after hours. Last Tuesday morning, police arrested 38-year-old Jose Orta for lying on a bench at Stuyvesant Cove Park at East 23rd Street and the East River.

WOMAN NABBED FOR IPOD ‘THEFT’
Twenty-three-year-old Emmalyn Sharf was arrested for grand larceny at 412 Third Avenue last Sunday at 5:47 a.m. Sharf allegedly swiped an iPod from someone’s pocket

My Verizon FiOS renewal nightmare

Seth Shire in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Seth Shire in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Seth Shire
Obfuscate: To stupify or bewilder. To darken or confuse.
I am writing this article to bring to light my experience with the misleading business practices of Verizon FiOS. I am hoping to save other residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village from the problems I have had.
Two years ago, in May of 2012, I accepted a FiOS offer for TV, internet and telephone. The cost was $84.99 per month, with a two-year contract. Adding in taxes and other charges the monthly total came out to $94 and change. The service that I received was fine.

This past May, knowing I was at the end of my two-year contract, I called Verizon FiOS to see what kind of a deal I could make to continue the service. I spoke to a Verizon representative (I’ll call him Representative #1) who told me that I could have the same services, with a two-year contract, for $95 a month (not including taxes and other charges).

I asked Representative #1 if I could have a lower rate if I dropped some channels from my cable package. He told me that he could put me on a lower channel tier but that I would lose some sports channels. I was fine with that but emphasized that I did not want to lose CNN or TCM (Turner Classic Movies).  Representative #1 assured me that I would not lose CNN or TCM. I agreed to the two-year contract.

The next time I turned on my TV I discovered that I no longer had TCM.
I called Verizon, spoke to another representative (Representative #2) and had TCM restored, which meant going back to my original channel tier. I then said that I would take the deal for all my present services for $95 a month (as had originally been offered to me by Representative #1).

I was then connected to another representative (Representative #3) who said I could no longer have that rate because I had been “grandfathered” in for the $95 monthly rate and, since I had moved to a different tier, I could no longer go back to that rate. I explained that the reason I had moved to the different tier was because of incorrect information (the promise of keeping TCM) made by Representative #1. Representative #3 said something to the effect of “Oh that’s just human error” and that there was nothing she could do about it.
I asked Representative #3 what kind of a deal she could offer me. After putting me on hold for quite a while she came back with an offer. She said she would increase my internet speed and keep my present TV and telephone package if I took a two-year contract. She explained that my monthly rate would be $90 for the first year ($105 with taxes and surcharges). She said she did not know what my rate would be for the second year. I agreed to this deal as it seemed to be the best I was going to get and with the knowledge that I had 30 days to cancel it.

I called back later and spoke to Representative #4. I said that I thought it unfair for me to commit to Verizon for two years when they were only committing to me for one year (the $90 monthly rate, for only one year). Representative #4 said my rate for the second year would be $114 per month, but that there would be discount deals available. She recommended that I take the $90 per month deal for now and that I call back in a year because there would always discounts available.
So my 30-day trial period ticked by (it is funny they call this the “30-day worry free” guarantee, considering what transpired). On the 31st day I received an email from Verizon telling me that my bill was now $185.  I called Verizon and spoke to Representative #5. I explained that my contract was for $90 month ($105 with taxes and surcharges). To my incredible frustration, Representative #5 told me that I had no contract at all!

When I explained about the $90 rate for one year with a two-year contract that I had been given (by Representative #4) and the increase in internet speed, Representative #5 said that no one would have given me that deal. When I recounted how Representative #4 said I should call back in a year to see what deals were available for the second year, Representative #5 claimed that they no longer negotiated with customers.
When I asked why my bill was $185 she said it included charges from May to June. When I explained that I had already paid my bill for May to June she gave me an incomprehensible explanation and told me that, going forward, my monthly bill (with taxes and surcharges) would be around $150! Representative #5 went on to tell me that she thought the deals that Verizon FiOS made for new customers were too good. She also told me to be a more careful consumer and get things in writing. Lesson learned.

To sum up: Representative #1 gave me incorrect information, which caused me to make a change to my plan. Representative #3 said that because I made a change in my plan I was no longer eligible for the $95 per month rate on a two-year contract. Representative #4 gave me a two-year contract with a monthly rate of $90 ($105 with taxes and surcharges) for the first year. Then I received a bill for $185. Representative #5 denied that I had any contract at all. She also said that Representative #4 never made me the offer that she had, in fact, made to me, and to which I had agreed.
Fortunately, here in Stuyvesant Town (and, I believe, in Peter Cooper Village also) we have choices other than Verizon FiOS. I am sure that Verizon has benefited enormously from selling services to residents of our community. This is how they showed their appreciation to me.

At the end of June I switched my telephone, TV and internet over to RCN. RCN has been a pleasure. Their internet is fast and the TV and telephone work just fine. The price for all three is reasonable. Instead of having to deal with a different customer service representative each time I call, as was the case with FiOS, at RCN I deal with one customer service representative. He returns calls and emails and is committed to customer satisfaction. The RCN technician who came to switch me over to RCN was the nicest, most patient and hardest working technician I have ever seen.

I would like to hear from other tenants who have had trouble with Verizon FiOS.
I can be contacted at seth@townvillage.net.

Editor’s note: Town & Village contacted Verizon FiOS regarding Shire’s customer service experience. Below is the response from company spokesperson Lee Gierczynski:
“Mr. Shire contacted Verizon to renew his FiOS services at end of his contract and wanted to retain the same pricing and products. Verizon made every attempt to keep costs/products similar yet current service offerings required changes which would have slightly increased his pricing.
“Due to a service order processing error, the pricing and products did change beyond what was discussed with Mr. Shire, which resulted in his dissatisfaction. Subsequent calls to Verizon did not resolve these issues, and Verizon is further reviewing the order.”

Seth Shire is a professor at CUNY Queens College during the summer and Queens College and CUNY York College during the fall. He also sometimes writes news articles and film reviews for Town & Village.
 

Opinion: Quality of life issues need to be addressed

Bus stop construction site on First Avenue and 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bus stop construction site on First Avenue and 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By William Oddo
I know we are supposed to feel grateful for only a $50 a month rent increase for “maintenance improvements.” Some might suggest common sense and that these maintenance items should be paid from our monthly rent. In any case, there are some significant day-to-day issues that most residents would like improved but few seem to have addressed.
One is unsafe, substandard and hazardous pedestrian intersection ramp condition at intersections and crosswalks. The other is the loss of significant resident parking due to constant “temporary construction” of one sort or another and lack of government attention and repairs.

Sidewalk pedestrian ramp conditions
Throughout our community at sidewalk intersection ramps poorly designed, unsafe physical conditions, and steep ramp angles create conditions for large water “ponding” to form (think ice skating in winter).
This both blocks passage in warm weather rain and creates slipping conditions after practically every cold rain event. The “ponding” condition is worsened by the placement of Citi Bike stations that block drainage along street curbs.

Worse yet, the steep pedestrian ramp angles lack adequate level and safe sidewalk refuge areas (particularly all along the 1st Ave. west sidewalk area – 15th to 22nd St.), and tripping hazards at pavement and curb intersection.
Even in dry weather the most able of us have to be aware of these and other obstacles like phone/billboard obstructions, newspaper stanchions, and other street furniture that block and impede the 13 access nodes/locations surrounding our community.

Fourteen intersection improvements for 25,000+ people shouldn’t be too difficult for our electeds. Here’s the list if they need: 14th St. at Ave. A, B and C; 1st Ave. at 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th and 23rd St.; 20th St. at Ave. A, B and C, and Ave. C at 23rd, 18th and 16th St.
The fact is these pedestrian street crossing ramps do not assure disabled and aging community residents of a safe crossing let alone meet current engineering design standards (plus substandard federal, state, NYC DOT requirements).

Street crosswalk conditions
Once entering the street crosswalk one is presented with more dangerous crossing conditions; don’t even think of tripping here. The worst conditions exist at 1st Ave. at 14th and 20th Streets. Here it’s due to poor pavement conditions, utility manhole location hazards, the abrupt change in crosswalk elevations (urban hill and dale tripping hazards) and constant construction (destroying just finished improvements).
These conditions are of course beyond the usual post winter pothole repairs.

Bus stop construction
The forever bus stop construction project (over a year in the works) surrounding the busiest transit intersection at 14th St. and 1st. Ave has created more pedestrian safety issues and obstacles and further loss of resident parking.This particular project begins along 14th Street (in front of our closest and one of busiest MTA community bus stops) and extends along First Ave to 16th Street.
So if you need to transfer from a 14th St. bus to 1st Ave. bus or from 14th St. “L” train stop, just hike on over to 16th Street. It’s comical if not a pathetic situation.

Neighborhood parking search
Apparently, pedestrian walking hazards and residents driving in circles after work (yes there are jobs that are not near public transit or require private vehicles) in search for a parking space have escaped the attention of our local elected officials.
Recently, we have lost significant parking along the entire First Ave. Loop road and created pedestrian obstacles with little or no mitigation. We have lost almost 200 parking spaces all 14th and 15th Street due to Con Ed. They said this was a terrorist hazard but only at this power pant.

If you live in a public housing residence on 14th Street there is a good chance private, onsite parking is available for about $100 a month. Better yet for free on the non-terrorist side of the 14th Street power plant.

Some possible solutions
So here’s what our elected officials can do to get to work to help everyday conditions for all our residents:
1. Improve all 14 intersections surrounding our community free of “ponding” and designed to meet NYC/S and federal pedestrian design standards.

2. Identify and create permanent and robust intersection crosswalks at major crossings in our community. Once completed, no major deconstruction work is allowed unless in extreme emergencies. This can be accomplished by building adequately sized utility access conduits (mini-tunnels) for future needs under these crosswalks.
This would require an inter-department and public /private property coordination to establish future design and construction requirements and standards for access. Just think what we did in Times Square – we can do this here. Let’s start with 1st Ave. at 14th and 20th Street as a pilot.

3. Relocate all Citi Bike on street parking to city owned islands and wide sidewalk areas surrounding our community. That effort alone would regain about 30 to 40 permanent parking space for our community and improve drainage and intersection “ponding.” There are plenty of examples of this suggestion all around our community and city. (Hint, photos examples sent to our local officials).

4. Redesign and reopen hundreds of safe parking spaces along 14th and 15th Streets and still keep us safe from terrorists. An added benefit is pedestrian safety adjacent to our schools, parks, churches, and synagogues will be significantly improved and vehicular traffic reduced. Why? Because vehicles to and from the FDR Drive will have access to highway ramps that have been closed.

5. Contact our local electeds and Community Board 6 officers (some even live in our community) to act on your behalf to improve a few everyday community safety conditions.

William Oddo is a Stuyvesant Town resident and founder of Stuyvesant Town Quiet Oval.

Sanitation garage, homelessness addressed at Gramercy forum

Council Member Rosie Mendez, LaToneya Burwell, director of Community Affairs at the Department of Homeless Services, DSNY community affairs liaison Julian Sepulveda, Lieutenant Vincent Collins, Police officer John Considine and Assistant District Attorney Kaitrin Roberts (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Council Member Rosie Mendez, LaToneya Burwell, director of Community Affairs at the Department of Homeless Services, DSNY community affairs liaison Julian Sepulveda, Lieutenant Vincent Collins, Police officer John Considine and Assistant District Attorney Kaitrin Roberts (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez moderated a quality of life forum at School of the Future on East 22nd Street this past Tuesday evening and answered questions from the community with the help of representatives from various city agencies. The event was co-hosted by Gramercy Neighborhood Associates and Community Board 6 and there were representatives from the various city agencies in attendance to answer questions.

District Manager Dan Miner noted that turnout seemed low because of the ongoing thunderstorms and the middle of the forum was interrupted by a flash flood warning alarm blast from an attendee’s cell phone. The Parks Department, Department of Transportation and the Department of Health did not have representatives at the forum, making it a smaller affair than a similar quality of life forum that was held for the Kips Bay community in the spring.
Mendez noted that this forum was meant to build on the event at Kips Bay and the representatives present at the forum included Lieutenant Vincent Collins and Police officer John Considine of the 13th Precinct, LaToneya Burwell, director of Community Affairs at the Department of Homeless Services, Julian Sepulveda, the community affairs liaison at the Department of Sanitation and Kaitrin Roberts, Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney Crime Strategy Unit.

Alan Krevis, president of the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Alan Krevis, president of the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

One of the topics discussed, albeit briefly, was the sanitation garage that is planned for the Brookdale campus. Councilwoman Mendez said that the garage was a plan that was submitted under the previous administration but the current administration has yet to announce a stance on it. Mendez and her fellow City Councilmember Dan Garodnick have been called to a meeting about the garage that will take place in the next week or so, she added, and more updated information should hopefully be forthcoming after that.

Other questions addressed at the forum had to do with cleanliness. Mendez noted that a number of the questions sent in had to do with dog waste. Sepulveda of the DSNY noted that issuing a summons to someone for not cleaning up after their dog is tricky because it is something that police have to witness occurring. He encouraged residents to submit complaints to 311 so the city is aware of problem areas and the DSNY has been working with Business Improvement Districts throughout the city on sanitation-related issues to make sure that areas are clean, but beyond that, it’s a difficult rule to enforce. Mendez added that a new initiative was proposed and passed in the last city budget this June which allots between $90-$100 thousand per council district for city clean-up.

Burwell, a representative for the Department of Homeless Services, addressed questions about what to do about homeless people on the street. She emphasized that it isn’t illegal to be homeless but residents can contact 311 and DHS will send their street outreach team to engage with the person.

Many of the representatives for city agencies at the previous Kips Bay forum emphasized that 311 was the perfect catch-all for complaints on just about anything and some of the attendees at this most recent forum expressed frustration about the bureaucracy that sometimes seems involved in getting problems solved after reporting them to 311.

Sepulveda acknowledged that calling 311 can seem frustrating but assured the residents that the complaints were being heard.
“Our office deals with 311 requests all day,” he said. “It’s not just a black hole. They are getting somewhere. We do have to abide by certain rules and regulations so sometimes the issue is just out of the agency’s hands.”

Lieutenant Collins of the 13th Precinct also made the distinction between when to call 911 versus 311.
“If you fear for your safety or their safety, that’s a 911 situation,” he said.
“If someone could get injured, that’s always a 911 call. Sometimes if it’s a grey area; they may redirect the call to 311, but if there’s a chance of injury, it’s always better to call 911.”

Community Board 6 will be hosting other forums in the future and Miner said that the next meeting on the radar will be a senior issues panel on September 15. More information about the panelists and topics to be discussed will be available closer to the event’s date.

De Blasio meets with pols, Tenants Association on the affordability of Stuy Town

Mayor Bill de Blasio, seated with Council Member Dan Garodnick, ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh and others, meet at Garodnick’s apartment on Tuesday. (Photo by Bob Bennett, mayor's office)

Mayor Bill de Blasio, seated with Council Member Dan Garodnick, ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh and others, meet at Garodnick’s apartment on Tuesday. (Photo by Bob Bennett, mayor’s office)

By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio attended a meeting in Peter Cooper Village, hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick in his apartment and attended by other local politicians and Tenants Association leaders. The mayor had come at the request of the Tenants Association to discuss steps the administration is taking to protect affordability at the complex.

The meeting didn’t result on any set plan of action, according to a spokesperson for the mayor and Tenants Association leaders, but was mostly about exchanging ideas and tenants discussing their concerns.

“We wanted to impress upon the mayor our perspective and I guess he felt that was fair,” said Susan Steinberg, chair of the Tenants Association.

The city has been talking, for the past month, with CWCapital, and is in the process of reviewing all aspects of the complex’s population, such as turnover, income and financing, with the goal of maintaining affordability of apartments that are still in fact affordable. This week is the halfway point for a deadline in which the owner of ST/PCV has agreed to hold off on any further actions related to a foreclosure sale.

Following the meeting, a rep for de Blasio said the possibility of using tax incentives to make the inclusion of affordable housing as attractive as a regular market-driven proposal to CWCapital has remained.

At the meeting, guests included Steinberg and John Marsh, president of the Tenants Association, as well as Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. A rep for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was also there.

Naturally, the TA discussed its hopes of going condo, since, said Marsh, a conversion still appears to be the only option that would offer stability to tenants in renovated units paying market rent or close to it.  This would be because, while the mayor’s goal centers around keeping the rents at an affordable level for around 6,000 units, a rollback for tenants in ST/PCV’s other, renovated units isn’t a part of that plan.

Garodnick, meanwhile, stressed that “various angles” are still being explored.

“I think we have to look at all the various angles we have with the mayor and we hope to devise a plan that puts everyone in a better place,” said Garodnick. “This is still the beginning of the process of connecting the mayor with CWCapital and putting tenants around the table. We clearly have the engagement of the mayor and that’s exactly what we want.”

The TA added, in a statement on Wednesday morning, that although the parties are working with a 60-day deadline, the mayor said more time could be added if needed, and that while he was open to the idea of a conversion, his primary goal was still affordable rentals.

Tuesday’s conversation also revolved around Albany. In particular, the recent decision by the State Senate’s Independent Democrats Coalition to end its alliance with Republicans and the expectation that Democrats will control the Senate after elections in November could, local pols hope, be a turnoff to a predatory bidder. Democratic control of the Senate is seen as tenants’ best hope to strengthen the rent regulation laws. The city also hopes bidders with no interest in affordable housing would be thwarted by a recent commitment by lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac not to finance a deal that the city and the tenants aren’t okay with.

The meeting was the first time the mayor was at Garodnick’s current apartment, though he had been at his last place, also in Peter Cooper, when the Council member hosted a gathering to support de Blasio’s campaign for public advocate.

This event was closed to press, but in a written statement, the mayor pointed out how different his interest in ST/PCV tenants is compared to his predecessor’s.

“Tenants at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village haven’t always had the support they deserved from City Hall,” de Blasio said. “We are committed to charting a new course and working with tenants to secure a sustainable long-term solution that protects affordability.”

The mayor, left, at Council Member Dan Garodnick’s apartment with tenants and local politicians, including Borough President Gale Brewer (Photo by Anna Pycior for Assemblyman Kavanagh)

The mayor, left, at Council Member Dan Garodnick’s apartment with tenants and local politicians, including Borough President Gale Brewer (Photo by Anna Pycior for Assemblyman Kavanagh)

Management office work almost complete, a few playgrounds get new water features

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By Sabina Mollot
Despite the beginning of July being a holiday week, things were still eventful in Stuyvesant Town, where construction has been ongoing at the site of the future management office.
Work at the new facility should be complete some time in August, CWCapital said in a newsletter emailed to tenants at the end of June. Additionally, electrical work beneath the First Avenue Loop that had closed the road for weeks is now complete and excavation has been completed for the site. The work remaining is to complete the roof, which is currently in progress.

Meanwhile, although the work has been progressing on schedule, residents who live in the four buildings affected by the construction along the Loop have had to deal with construction noise that has started in the mornings as early as 6 a.m.
A spokesperson for CWCapital said this week that the work schedule was changed due to the need to pour concrete within a certain timeframe so the project won’t get delayed by adverse weather.

“This has required them to make minor adjustments to the regular schedule,” the rep, Brian Moriarty, said.

In response to the noise issue, Susan Steinberg, chair of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, pointed out that the city Department of Environmental Protection normally allows construction between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. Other times, off-hours authorization is required, which in this case management has gotten a permit for.
“Unfortunately, if management has the appropriate permits, there is not too much we can do other than let management know that they are making tenants’ lives miserable,” said Steinberg last Monday. “However,” she added, “if tenants think the noise level may be above allowable decibels, especially on weekends, they should call 311 and create a record.”

By last Tuesday, however, Council Member Dan Garodnick said that after being asked to discontinue the early morning work “for the sake of the peace of residents,” management told him no more work was expected to take place at that time.
“Which is encouraging,” said Garodnick. Last October, Garodnick co-sponsored, along with Council Member Rosie Mendez, legislation aimed at curbing variances that allow owners and developers to do construction work into the evenings.

In other construction news, part of the management office project includes renovating Playground 8, which has begun. According to CW’s last newsletter, the soon-to-come water feature at Playground 8 will have floor-mounted and overhead sprays that keep with the space’s train station theme as well as a new train for kids to play in.

A few other playgrounds in the complex have already been upgraded to include water features or improve the ones that had been there previously.
At Stuy Town’s Playground 4 and Peter Cooper Village’s Playground 2, existing kiddie sprinklers now also include ground sprays, overhead sprays and an interactive spray in Playground PCV 2. Stuyvesant Town’s Playground 2, which didn’t use to have any water sprinklers, now has a water feature that’s interactive and takes up about half the space of the playground.

On Thursday, July 3, a few parents at that playground said they welcomed the new addition as their kids ran around in the sprays.
Peter Cooper resident Stacey Pattillo was one of them although she also had a suggestion for management.
Noting that the sprinklers includes a cannon-like feature that can be moved from one direction to another, Pattillo observed that some of the littler children “come and get blasted” by the high-pressure spray aimed by other kids. “They should keep it fixed to a light shower,” she said. “You see some of the kids get walloped in the face and they get traumatized.” But otherwise, she added, “It’s very nice.”

In more property-related updates, the Oval lawn has officially opened to sunbathers, Moriarty said. Last week, the area was still closed off, leaving desperate sun worshipers attempting to catch some rays on the concrete next to the fountain.

Around the Oval and beyond, the grounds have been extremely colorful lately thanks to the addition of thousands of flowers, which were purchased from local nursery Emma’s Garden Growers.
In its newsletter, CWCapital said the new plantings include: 3,600 caladiums of mixed colors (planted along First Avenue entrances), 1,000 dragon wing begonias, 800 New Guinea impatiens of mixed colors, 800 coleuses of mixed colors, 500 periwinkles of mixed colors, 35 tropical hibiscuses and 35 canna lilies of mixed colors.

Events in the community this week

The following community and entertainment events are taking place this week.

Gramercy quality of life forum on July 15

City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez

City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Manhattan Community Board Six and Gramercy Neighborhood Associates are co-hosting a community forum with representatives from NYC agencies, moderated by City Councilmember Rosie Mendez on July 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Agencies will include New York County District Attorney’s office, NYPD’s 13th and 17th Precincts, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Parks Department and Department of Homeless Services.
It will take place in the School of the Future at 127 East 22nd Street between Park Ave and Lexington Avenue. Panelists will address quality of life issues in the Gramercy neighborhood, including homelessness, safety, traffic and sanitation. Residents can submit questions prior to the forum or in written form during the event.
For more information, contact events@gnaonline.org or office@cbsix.org.

 

Lectures, dance lessons, kids’ events at Stuyvesant Square Park

Tango lesson at Stuyvesant Square Park (Photo by Ute Lechmig)

Tango lesson at Stuyvesant Square Park (Photo by Ute Lechmig)

The Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association presents the following upcoming events at Stuyvesant Square Park:
Lunch and Learn events take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday events, from 12:15-1 p.m., are hosted by NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases Horticultural Therapy and Integrative Health Programs. July 16: Mind body movement (meditation), July 23: Herbal tea party.
Thursday events, from 1:15-2 p.m. are hosted by Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s Jannie Wolff. July 24: Health and the uses of herbs.
Chair yoga Tuesdays with Birgit Nagele take place on July 15, 22 and 29 from noon-1 p.m. on the northwest lawn.
Tango Sundays with Esmerelda take place from 6-9 p.m. (beginner lessons at 6 p.m.) at the west fountain.
The NYC Parks Department presents “Play Mobile” on July 15 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
For updates and additional event information, visit spnanyc.org.

Movies on the Oval

Movies on the Oval has returned with a double-feature most Wednesdays through August 13 for ST/PCV residents and their guests. On July 16, 5 p.m. “The Croods,” 7 p.m. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

 

Music Under the Stars

Kaissa

Kaissa

Waterside Plaza’s summer concert series, “Music Under the Stars,” has returned with Wednesday concerts at 7 p.m. each night. There will be a beer and wine bar, with snacks available at the concession stand or hardier fare at the Robbins Nest cafe. Seating is limited on the Plaza. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.
July 16, Kaissa will perform. Hailing from the Republic of Cameroon and its vibrant culture, singer Kaissa has become an unmistakable representative of African music. Rain date is July 17.

 

 

July10 David Hershey Webb 2013

David Hershey-Webb and Friends at Stuyvesant Cove Park last year

David Hershey-Webb and friends will return to Stuyvesant Cove Park to perform original folk, country rock and R&B music on Monday, July 14th at 6:30 p.m. The show is part of the free summer concert series presented by The Stuyvesant Cove Park Association. In the event of rain the performance will take place on Tuesday, July 15.

For even more events going on including outdoor concerts, theater, comedy, kids’ events and more see T&V’s Around & About section.

For free events happening throughout the city, see Cutting Corners.

For local fitness events like free yoga in Union Square and qi gong at Waterside, check out T&V’s Health & Fitness listings.

For the latest programming and special events at local houses of worship, there’s also the Religion in the Community listings.

Flatiron BID to hold free tech workshops, other events

General Assembly will once again present tech workshops at the Flatiron South Plaza. (Pictured) A workshop held last year (Photo courtesy of Flatiron/23rd Street BID)

General Assembly will once again present tech workshops at the Flatiron South Plaza. (Pictured) A workshop held last year (Photo courtesy of Flatiron/23rd Street BID)

By Sabina Mollot
In recent years, summertime in the city has become synonymous with concerts and other events at parks and neighborhood spaces, and the Flatiron District is no exception.
However along with traditional events like fitness classes and outdoor theater, both of which are being offered in the Flatiron pedestrian plazas, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership (BID) is also bringing back another popular activity: tech workshops.
For the past two summers, the Partnership has partnered with local company General Assembly to give classes on a variety of tech and business topics outside on the south plaza.
The first workshop in a three part series took place on Tuesday, July 8 and the remaining classes will take place on July 15 and 22 at the south plaza, located on Broadway between 22nd and 23rd Streets. On Tuesday, July 15 at 6 p.m., “Rules of Engagement: Moving Consumers from Awareness to Advocacy” is the scheduled class aimed at teaching social marketing strategy. On Tuesday, July 22 at 6 p.m. “Inbound Marketing Solutions: Marketing on a Budget” will focus on how to generate leads and improve traffic with a limited marketing budget.
Jennifer Brown, the BID’s executive director, said the tech workshops were part of the organization’s mission of helping the local business community, which really got underway after the recession. So far the events have been a hit locally with around 30 to 40 attending when the weather is favorable. Sometimes people register in advance, but other attendees just happen to be walking by and sit down once they see what’s going on.
“The topics are interesting for people across different industries, like marketing,” said Brown. “Last summer they did a workshop on perfecting your pitch. That’s helpful no matter what your profession is.”
General Assembly, like the other groups and businesses the Partnership is working with on the programming, is donating its services, and classes are free for those who attend. The company also offers classes at its two locations, but, noted Brown, “People typically have to pay for them.”
As for the other programs, on Wednesdays, instructors from Flatiron fitness studios will be teaching exercise and yoga classes, sponsored by Athleta, on the south plaza. Upcoming fitness classes are: “Barreless Core Fusion” with Exhale on Wednesday, July 16 at 6 p.m. and “Shanti Flow with Yoga Shanti” on Wednesday, July 23 at 6 p.m.
On Thursdays, the Peoples Improv Theater (The PIT) will take the stage at the north plaza, on the west of Madison Square Park. House teams will perform a brand-new musical made up on the spot on July July 17 and July 24 at 6 p.m. each evening. PIT performers have worked the Flatiron plaza crowd before for holiday programs in December.
Brown said the decision to offer fitness classes was inspired by similar seasonal programs now running at Union Square and Bryant Parks as well as the fact that the Flatiron neighborhood has become home to many fitness and yoga studios.
“We’ve been talking about working with them for years now,” she said.

New recycling bins with solar-powered trash compactors have been installed in the Flatiron pedestrian plaza. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

New recycling bins with solar-powered trash compactors have been installed in the Flatiron pedestrian plaza. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The BID pays for its programming as well as its other projects like maintenance of the pedestrian plazas and beautification of the neighborhood. Tree pit guards were recently implemented throughout the district and three new recycling bins with solar-powered trash compactors were installed in the plazas, paid for out of a $350,000 annual budget as well as other revenue. The BID gets some income from two food kiosks on the plazas and also gets a fee, along with the city, when the plazas are used by companies for promotional events. If there’s a movie shoot, the BID will usually get some sort of voluntary monetary contribution. Most of the years since its creation though, the expenses have been more than what the budget allows for.
“The revenue has varied over the years,” added Brown. “We had a small surplus a couple of years ago.”
But the expenses have also changed. Initially, the BID arranged for plantings twice a year. These days, it’s four times a year. Maintenance of the BID, handled by its own sanitation, public safety and gardening crews, is done throughout the BID district, the borders of which are 21st and 23rd Streets and Third and Sixth Avenues.
The exception is Madison Square Park, since it’s maintained by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Brown said the BID’s programming also tries to complement and not duplicate that of the conservancy, which is now running a summer concert series as well as events for children in the park. (See Town & Village’s Around & About section for details.)
For more information about the Flatiron Partnership’s events, visit http://www.discoverflatiron.org.

Perv grabbed butts of two women, one in Stuyvesant Oval, one on E. 14th Street

By Sabina Mollot
Police are looking for a bearded creep who grabbed the buttocks of two women as they were walking in the hallways of their buildings, one in Stuyvesant Oval, the other on East 14th Street.

The first incident was on May 18 at around 3 in the morning, when the unknown man grabbed a 24-year-old in her building on East 14th Street, then took off.
Police think the same man struck again on June 15, this time at around 2 a.m., touching a 22-year-old woman’s buttocks at Stuyvesant Oval, before running away. The exact addresses were not specified.

The suspect has been described as being 25-35, 5 ft. 10 ins. tall and weighing 175-200 lbs. His race isn’t known. He was last seen wearing a black sports jacket black dress pants, a light colored dress shirt, with black dress shoes. A surveillance video shows a man with a beard entering a Stuyvesant Town building.

When asked why police waited until July to make the incidents public, a spokesperson for the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information said it may have taken this long to determine that the two complaints were linked.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, in Stuyvesant Town on Friday, distributes fliers about the groping incidents. (Photo by Laura Morrison/Senator Hoylman)

State Senator Brad Hoylman, in Stuyvesant Town on Friday, distributes fliers about the groping incidents. (Photo by Laura Morrison/Senator Hoylman)

Meanwhile, State Senator Brad Hoylman and a couple of volunteers distributed fliers to residents on First Avenue outside of Stuyvesant Town on Friday.  By the time they were done, about 1,000 fliers were handed out. Though a few residents had heard about the groper, most were surprised when he told them, Hoylman said. So far, no fliers have been put up in ST/PCV buildings, but Hoylman said he was told by police at the 13th Precinct that Stuy Town’s Public Safety department would be putting them up.
“Awareness is really a big part of this,” said Hoylman. “Not just in catching the perpetrator, but alerting residents so they can take appropriate precautions, and also showing solidarity with the victims.”

Brian Moriarty, a spokespeson for CWCapital, said, “Public Safety has worked closely with NYPD since the incidents and has provided its full cooperation.”

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or visit http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com. All calls are strictly confidential.

Note: The post has been updated to include statements from Senator Hoylman and CWCapital.

 

Letters to the Editor, July 10

July10 Toon subway busker

One percent increase a positive step

The recently announced one percent RGB increase is a small step toward putting the “stable” back in rent stabilization.
As tenants, we all need to support this action by selecting the one-year option when we renew our leases. This will send a clear message to the RGB and Albany that we want to preserve our community and affordable housing for all New Yorkers.
It will also reject the risky business model followed by the equity predators. This business model is named for its last two words: “It doesn’t matter how much you pay, you can always sell it later to a bigger fool.”  The problem with this model is who is going to be the next bigger fool?
Not the current tenants. We realize that the choice of a 2.75 percent two-year increase is the equivalent of selecting a 1 percent increase this year and a 3.5 percent increase next year! While landlords deserve to cover realistic cost increases, we will not pay for yet another round of replanting because the previous round was done wrong.
Not the future tenants. The equity predators are all targeting recent graduates and other newcomers to the housing market to fill current and future vacancies. But saddled with large student loans and entry-level salaries, the only vacancies they can fill are the empty bedrooms in their parents’ homes.
Not the equity lenders. They have been burned once by the Tishman Speyer default and other failed large real estate deals. They will be following the model established by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. (Thank you, Senator Schumer.) The equity predators will have to prove the viability of their projections with more than just an “I said so.”
In other words, the times they are a-changin’ (with apologies to Bob Dylan.) Gone are the days where equity predators can entice bigger fools with frivolous, self-congratulatory costs like the vanity plates on the PCVST security vehicles.
Gone too are the days when the mayor turns a blind eye because, “It’s a private matter.” If the equity predators continue to believe their own hype (the cardinal sin committed by Tishman Speyer), they will find that they are the biggest fools.
Responsible parties within the real estate industry have already shown signs that they are adjusting to accept a different business model based on realistic income forecasts and controlled operating costs.
Let us all give our support to these leaders by overwhelmingly accepting the one-year, one percent increase and rejecting all rent increases that exceed true cost increases.
Bill Huebsch,
ST Resident for 36 years

 

Mayor didn’t deliver on rent freeze

To the Editor:
Mayor de Blasio is now batting with two strikes against him here in Stuyvesant Town.
First, he sandbagged Councilmember Dan Garodnick, by actively campaigning for Dan’s opponent for City Council speaker.
Then, the mayor capitulated to the real estate industry and disavowed his supposedly ironclad campaign pledge of a rent freeze.
Sandbagging tenants like this has a real cost. A rent increase of one percent will cost ST/PCV residents a total of $3,236,680 every year – calculated as an average rent of $2,000 over 11,235 apartments. Plus, everyone’s base rent is now raised in perpetuity.
This $3,236,680 is money that tenants could have used to support our local community. Or, tenants could have strengthened their retirement savings. Instead, it will go to line the pockets of the hedge fund that controls the property.
The mayor needs to decide whether he is on the side of tenants or the side of hedge funds.
Name Withheld, ST

 

Can we give Citi Bike hogs the boot?

June26 Marsh Citibike2 June26 Marsh CitibikeThe following is an email sent to Citi Bike by John Marsh, president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, shared with T&V.
Subject: “Reserving” or Booting a Citi Bike By For Your Exclusive Use
I wanted to formally bring to your attention the following unfair practice of reserving your own Citi Bike by putting a lock on it, or effectively booting it so other riders can’t take it out.
I came along at 8:20 a.m. on Thursday, June 19th delighted to see a lone bike at the E. 20th and FDR station in Dock #34.  After inserting my Citi Bike key in I was surprised to see that a U-Lock had been placed around the back wheel of bike number 06656. I immediately re-docked the bike, took these photos and called the incident into Citibike Customer Support number.
Whomever (whichever member) successfully undocked and rode this bike next to another Citi Bike station should be warned or disciplined in some manner for this inappropriate behavior.

Police Watch: Shots fired on 14th Street, Handyman arrested for ‘burglary’, Girl punches cop

SHOTS FIRED ON 14TH STREET
Police arrested Patrick Perroud, 25, after he allegedly fired several shots from a gun in attempt to cause serious physical injuries on West 14th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. He was charged with assault, reckless endangerment and weapons possession.

OLIVE OIL DESTROYER
Anthony Digangi, 37, was arrested on June 30 for allegedly intentionally breaking 15 bottles of olive oil at the Garden of Eden food shop on West 23rd Street. Police said it wasn’t clear what prompted this and the value of the destroyed bottles was said to be $359.85. Digangi was charged with criminal mischief.

SUBWAY ‘PERV’ NABBED
Jason Washington, 22, was arrested at the Union Square subway after an officer saw him allegedly grinding onto a woman’s buttocks on a southbound express train. He was charged on June 30 at 9:47 a.m. with sexual abuse.

HANDYMAN CAUGHT ON CAMERA
Handyman Luis Colon, 32, was arrested for burglary on July 2 after a tenant in the building he works told police she caught him on camera at her apartment when she wasn’t home. The woman, who lives at 30 West 18th Street, has a camera in her bedroom and said when she checked it after work, saw Colon going through five different wallets and a jewelry box. She said that Colon had no reason or permission to be in her apartment at that time. Police arrested him while he was painting another apartment.

ASSAULT BY CHAIR
Police arrested Marco Natal, 38 for assault after he allegedly bashed someone over the head with a wooden chair at 4 Union Square South on July 2. The victim got cuts and bruises as a result and according to police, Natal made “spontaneous utterances” admitting to doing it.

GIRL PUNCHES COP
Police arrested a 16-year-old at the Good Shepherd Services home at 331 East 17th Street on July 4 for punching another girl and then the cop who came to investigate.
The officer arrived after a girl in the building said she was cleaning her room when the other teen, whose name is being withheld due to her tender age, approached her and punched her in the face. The punch caused swelling to the face of the victim, who also said she’s tired of the assailant hitting on her and they’ve had confrontations in the past. When an officer came to try and diffuse the situation, he said the suspect refused to sit down, and when apprehended, punched him, causing substantial pain.

BAD APPLES
Anthony Brown, 47, was busted at 319 East 28th Street on July 3 after police said he was trying to sell an Apple laptop and an iPad for $500 each. However, each of the computer boxes were actually filled with cut up paper, police said. He was charged with accosting and fraud.

CITY EMPLOYEE ARRESTED FOR ‘ASSAULT’ OF WIFE
Parks Department employee Luis Freyes, 30, was arrested on July 5 at 1:22 a.m. at First Avenue and 14th Street after allegedly attacking his wife.
The wife had told police they’d been on a bus and he was sleeping. When she woke him, he became very “irate” and shoved her and knocked her down, causing her to cut her face, police said. He then fled into the subway at the southeast corner of the intersection, but was apprehended when he returned to the location.

‘SWIPE’ SELLERS STOPPED
Police regularly arrest people who sell Metrocard swipes on the subway and the following individuals were collared for allegedly selling while also blocking turnstiles, obstructing the flow of traffic.
Casique Roman, 35, was arrested at the Union Square subway on June 30.
Daniel Abbastante, 40, was arrested on July 3 at the Union Square subway.
Scott Morales, 25, was arrested at the Union Square subway on July 3.
Edward Laramore, 30, was arrested at the Union Square subway on July 5.
Angelina Phillip, 31, was arrested at the Union Square subway on July 6.

‘COCAINE’ POSSESSION
Leonardo Ramirez, 23, was arrested after police saw him allegedly sneak under a turnstile at the Union Square subway. Upon searching him, an officer found a small glassine envelope of alleged cocaine in his shorts pocket.

CHARGED WITH DRUG SALES
Michael Bailes, 26, was arrested on June 30 at 4:48 p.m. at First Avenue and 14th Street for allegedly selling a controlled substance. Police said Bailes also resisted arrest by lying on top of his hands to avoid being cuffed.

DRINKING IN PUBLIC
Angel Reyes, 44, was allegedly seen by a cop holding a 24 oz. malt liquor beverage in Bellevue South Park on June 30 at around 8 p.m. Police said Reyes declined homeless outreach services.
Nearby at Second Avenue and 28th Street, David Ramos, 46, was arrested on July 2 at 9:24 a.m. for allegedly holding a bottle of Corona on a public sidewalk.
Isabelo Rodriguez was allegedly seen with an open bottle of Georgi vodka on a sidewalk at 332 East 29th Street.
Danielo Areis, 47, was allegedly seen with a can of Sapporo beer on a sidewalk in front of 41 Union Square West.

ASLEEP ON THE TRAIN
Police made a couple of arrests on July 1 of straphangers who’d fallen asleep on the train. Though the incidents occurred in the wee hours of the morning, police told T&V that occupying more than one seat is a crime any time, even when there’s little competition for seats.
Walter Allen, 51, was arrested at the Union Square subway after he was seeing allegedly lying across the seats on a southbound 4 train.
Juan Acosta, 35, was arrested at the Union Square Subway after allegedly occupying more than one seat on the 6 train.

BUSTED FOR SELLING CIGS
Dave Morris, 50, was arrested at East 14th Street and Union Square West after an officer spotted him allegedly selling two Newport looseys. Since Morris was not in possession of a tax stamp, he was charged on July 1 with violating tax law.

POT BUSTS
Jermaine Anderson, 30, was arrested on July 3 at East 26th Street and Park Avenue South after police said he crossed a crime scene. But after being told to move along, Anderson refused, cops said. After searching him, he was found to be in possession of alleged marijuana in his gym bag.
Omar Miller, 41, was arrested on July 1 at Fifth Avenue and 14th Street for allegedly selling pot to an undercover officer.
Nicholas Jean, 26, was arrested at Broadway and 23rd Street on July 2 after allegedly selling pot to an undercover officer. Police said Jean had seven active warrants.

WEAPONS POSSESSION
On July 2, Amir Mushal, 42, was seen by a cop allegedly carrying a gravity knife in his front pants pocket in plain view on the subway.
On July 3, Dimitri Rohen, 22, was allegedly seen by a cop with a knife clipped to his front pants pocket at the Union Square subway.

URENA TROUBLE
Police arrested Emmanuel Urena, 24, for allegedly urinating on a public sidewalk at 134 East 29th Street on July 4.

‘DRUNK’ DRIVING ARREST
Russell Nelson, 25, was stopped at Third Avenue and 24th Street after an officer saw him allegedly driving without using his headlights. Police said he was going east and when stopped, had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes and could only produce a non-driver’s ID. He was arrested on July 4 at 5:16 a.m.

Compiled by Sabina Mollot

 

Cheating claims spark new lenders lawsuit

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Last week, CWCapital was sued by holders of Stuyvesant Town’s mezzanine debt who claimed that the new owner cheated them out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by Bloomberg, is being led by Centerbridge Partners, which is representing six limited liability companies who are named as plaintiffs.
The suit follows a decision by CW last month to take title to Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village through a deed rather than hold a foreclosure sale that had been scheduled for June 13.
By doing this, Centerbridge accused CW of a “continuing pattern of misconduct” to keep control of the property and “reap an unjust windfall of $1 billion” that should go to lower level lenders, who’ve received nothing.
The report went on to say the lenders, in their complaint, called CWCapital’s takeover “executed on the flawed premise that the amount owed on the senior loan was greater than the value of the property.” CW represented that $4.4 billion was owed on the mortgage when the amount was really $3.45 billion, the lenders said.
A spokesperson for Centerbridge, Michele de Milly, said the lawsuit shouldn’t impact the tenants.
In an official statement, Centerbridge said, “We believe that Stuyvesant Town is and will continue to be a unique and extraordinarily important property, both for the City of New York and for the thousands of tenants who make it such a robust community. This legal matter is an inter-creditor dispute and we do not expect it to affect Stuyvesant Town or its residents. Funds affiliated with Centerbridge Partners, which have owned mezzanine loans of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, have been forced to commence this lawsuit because of the actions taken by CW Capital, in violation of an inter-creditor agreement.”
CWCapital, however, denied this and called the suit “without merit.”
“The assertions made in the lawsuit are utterly baseless and without merit,” spokesperson Brian Moriarty said. “The fact that the complaint centers on a deed in lieu transaction completed before the plaintiff acquired their position exposes the plaintiff’s specific intent to wrest a quick profit from ‘purchased litigation.’ Centerbridge acquired this position at a deep discount in hopes of reaping a windfall at the expense of the bondholders we represent and residents who deserve a timely resolution that will provide certainty and a path forward for the community.”
The litigation, which also names commercial-mortgage trusts set up by Wachovia Bank, may slow down a sale process. However, it shouldn’t stop the city from its current plan of trying to work with CW to maintain affordability at the property while satisfying the bondholders.
When CW canceled the foreclosure auction it also agreed to hold off on a sale for two months while working with the de Blasio administration along with local elected officials representing ST/PCV to come up with a plan. According to Council Member Dan Garodnick, this litigation doesn’t change that.
“This is largely a dispute between lenders and it does not affect our strategy,” he said. “The only question is whether this has the effect of slowing things down further, which is not at all clear at this moment.”
A New York Times story on June 11 had quoted Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen as saying a plan was being explored that would keep as many as 6,000 units in ST/PCV affordable in exchange for a tax exemption.
However, as of late June, Garodnick told Town & Village there aren’t yet any numbers figured out and city officials stressed that was just one possibility.
“The numbers that have been floated were hypothetical and not based on the substance of any negotiation,” Garodnick said.
Lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already committed to not financing a deal that would be unacceptable to the tenants or the city.

Beth Israel sued over Medicaid payments

Beth Israel's First Avenue building (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Beth Israel’s First Avenue building (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
On Friday, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he was filing a lawsuit against Beth Israel and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt hospitals as well as Continuum Health Partners, accusing all three of accepting Medicaid payments they were not entitled to. Continuum is the company that owned both hospitals prior to a recent merger with Mt. Sinai.
The lawsuit accuses the hospitals and Continuum of failing to return money to Medicaid they knew was only received due to a computer error in 2009 and 2010. According to the suit, the hospitals submitted improper claims to Medicaid due to the error until the New York State comptroller notified Continuum in 2010 that there were problems with those claims.
The complaint also said that in February of 2011, Continuum found over 900 potentially improper claims to Medicaid after conducting an internal investigation. The total of those claims was over one million dollars. But according to the A.G., the hospitals’ parent company then failed to repay it all within 60 days, instead only repaying “small batches of affected claims” over the next two years. The rest were finally paid by March, 2013, but, the A.G. said, repayments for over 300 of those claims were only made after federal involvement.
This was in June, 2012, when the United States Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of New York issued a Civil Investigative Demand to Continuum. The complaint against Continuum, Beth Israel and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt was filed under the New York False Claims Act and other statutes in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
A spokesperson for Mt. Sinai, Gregory Williams, said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. However, Williams added, “We intend to argue our case vigorously in court.”

Police looking for a man last seen at Bellevue

Photo of Elliot Baez provided by NYPD

Photo of Elliot Baez provided by NYPD

Police are looking for a man who was last seen strolling out of Bellevue Hospital on the afternoon of Saturday, July 5.

Elliot Baez, 57, is 5’8″ tall, weighs 150 pounds and has brown hair. He was last seen wearing a blue dress with yellow flowers, yellow socks and black sneakers.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or text tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

Democrat control of Senate is likely

TenantsPAC wary of Klein’s leadership

State Senator Jeff Klein

State Senator Jeff Klein

By Sabina Mollot
On Wednesday, June 25, a group of breakaway Democrats in the State Senate, called the Independent Democrats Conference, formed an alliance more mainline Democrats. As a result of this cooperation, which would begin after the November elections, IDC Senator Jeff Klein, if re-elected, would become a “co-leader” along with Senate Minority Leader Andrea-Stewart Cousins, and the IDC’s alliance with Senate Republicans would end. The IDC was formed in 2012.

The move, while cheered by Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, is being seen as potentially disastrous by the real estate industry since it’s expected to put Democrats back in control of the Senate. Additionally, Stewart-Cousins is a tenant-friendly Democrat. At the same time, it’s also being eyed with caution by TenantsPAC, which views Klein as a tool for landlords.

TenantsPAC has been actively campaigning to get Klein’s opponent in the primary, former City Council Member Oliver Koppell, elected instead.
The political action committee has even begun phone banking to get close to 700 registered democrats in The Bronx to support him.
“Tenants anywhere should care about this election,” TenantsPAC treasurer Mike McKee said.
TenantsPAC has also given $4,000 to the campaign, and hopes to give the candidate $2,500 more, which would bring the donation to the maximum allowed.

Of the new Senate Democratic coalition, McKee said, “It makes sense for the real Democrats to do this, but we’re raising a note of caution about a major issue which is coming up in the legislature next year.”
This statement was in reference to the law governing rent regulated housing that will be up for renewal, and Klein, noted McKee, has a history of shooting down pro-tenant legislation.

TenantsPAC actually supported Klein a decade ago, because, “his opponent was worse.” The opponent, Steven Kaufman, had said he would caucus with Republicans. And as for Klein, McKee said, “we didn’t know he would be this bad.”
Over the years since then, McKee has had three meetings with the senator, two in his district office and one in Albany, with constituents present, in an effort to get Klein to support a repeal of vacancy decontrol.
“He told us flat out he would vote on it if it comes up, but ‘I will do everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t get to the floor,’” said McKee. “And it never got to the floor. You have to give him some credit for being so honest and not stringing us along.”

A spokesperson for Klein didn’t respond to T&V’s request for comment.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, meanwhile, said the new cooperation should still make a big difference because, as McKee noted, Democrat legislation doesn’t currently tend to make it to the floor for consideration. This would be legislation on issues such as tenant protections, LGBT rights, the DREAM Act and de-criminalizing small amounts of marijuana.
“Everything has been stymied by Republican control of the Senate,” Hoylman said. “It’s at-will legislation, whatever they want. The leaders of the Senate have tremendous strength.”

For this reason, Hoylman said he wants to see more power given to committees.
“I’m hoping that this is the beginning of a new term in the Senate with new leadership that defies the dysfunctional label some have wanted to paint Democrats with,” he added.

This dysfunction was the reason for the formation of the IDC.Following its creation, out of 63 Senate members in New York, 24 are currently Democrat, five are IDC, 30 are Republican, although, noted Hoylman, “One of the Republicans is a Democrat.” That would be Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, who conferences with Republicans “even though he was elected as a Democrat.” Then there are two vacant seats formerly held by Republican Charles Fuschillo of Long Island, who resigned to work for a nonprofit, and Democrat Eric Adams, who’s now the Brooklyn borough president.
There are former Democrats John Sampson (who’s been charged with lying about a liquor store he’s a partner in) and Malcolm Smith (who’s been accused of being involved in a scheme to bribe Republicans) who were “kicked out and floating without a committee,” said Hoylman.

As for the shakeup in leadership, Hoylman called it “a good position for the Democrats to be in, but,” he warned, “it is not a done deal.”
There are after all primaries coming up and “tenants were bitterly disappointed the last time Democrats were in control,” said Hoylman.
This was in 2009, a year that was marred by a coup in which two Democrats, Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate, temporarily switched sides. (Both men have since been convicted of crimes, Monserrate of assaulting his girlfriend, and Espada of embezzling from a nonprofit he founded, and are no longer in office.)

As for this year, “Tenant advocates cannot sit on the sidelines,” said Hoylman. “They have to make sure their voices are heard. “This could hopefully do a lot for rent regulated apartments in my district, mainly Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. This could make a big difference but it could also be a lost opportunity.”