Pols, tenants weigh in on Silver, Skelos

State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman say reports of corruption in Albany make people think all politicians are the same. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman say reports of corruption in Albany make people think all politicians are the same. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Just eight days after the arrest of one of Albany’s famed three men in a room, came the news that another one in the power trio, Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, was also being investigated. U.S. Attorney Preet Bhahara, whose investigation into Sheldon Silver led to his stepping down as Assembly speaker on Monday, is looking into Skelos’ ties to real estate and outside income from a law firm, the New York Post reported.

Skelos, of Long Island, has since reportedly laughed off the allegations.

Meanwhile, at the ribbon cutting for the new Asser Levy Playground in Manhattan on Friday morning, Town & Village cornered a couple of local state senators as well as a few community leaders to ask for their thoughts on the latest scandals from the Capitol.

Senate Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman both told Town & Village that it’s a shameful day in Albany any time there’s news of alleged criminal activity.

“Everyone who’s in elected office knows that they’re supposed to be held to a higher standard,” said Krueger. “The vast majority of us believe in good government, and when this happens, people think, ‘A pox on all your heads.’ Who’s going to want to run for office if everybody thinks you’re a criminal?”

When asked if she was just relieved it was a Republican on the hot seat this time, the Democrat senator insisted she wasn’t.

“No. I think any time there’s an elected official in Albany that gets indicted, the general public believes ‘they’re all corrupt and there’s no point in government.’”

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$100G destruction spree at Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception Church (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Immaculate Conception Church (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Brooklyn resident Michael Torres is being charged with burglary and criminal mischief to be prosecuted as hate crimes after police said that the 20-year-old vandalized Immaculate Conception Church at 414 East 14th Street last Wednesday night.

Local blog Bedford and Bowery originally reported the vandalism last Thursday, noting that Torres was caught on camera leaving an AA meeting at the church earlier that day and reportedly returned later in the evening, forcing the front door open. John Matcovich, the parish manager at the church, said that the side doors of the church were also badly damaged, but from the inside.

“He must have thought those were rooms but they’re just other doors that lead back outside, to the courtyard,” Matcovich said.

Torres had allegedly used the end of an incense holder as a battering ram to break through the side doors. Although the church is in the process of sorting out the cost of the damage, Matcovich said that the administrators made sure to fix and secure the doors as soon as possible.

In addition to the doors, the vandalism was originally reported to cost $100,000 in damage but Matcovich said that once everything is finalized with the insurance company, it will likely be more. He noted that all 14 of the Stations of the Cross had been destroyed and those alone were worth more than $3,000 each.

The blog noted that a number of statues at the church were destroyed, including a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary that was over a hundred years old and had been moved from Mary Help of Christians shortly before it was demolished in 2013. An icon depicting the Virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus was also destroyed.

Matcovich noted that due to the mess from the vandalism, mass had to be held in the parish basement on Thursday but he said that partially due to the quick work of the insurance company in documenting the damage, the church was able to reopen on Friday.

“That was really important to us,” Matcovich said.

Matcovich will be putting a list together for the insurance company once church officials know what can’t be salvaged, but he said that a fund is being set up if community residents or parishioners want to contribute. Checks can be made out to Immaculate Conception Church but with a note in the memo that the donation is for the vandalism relief fund.

Bedford and Bowery noted that Torres was caught by police after he found himself locked inside the church’s cloister and he was arrested shortly before 11 p.m. He was being held on $10,000 bail or bond but the Department of Corrections said that he was released on Tuesday because his bail had been paid.

Torres’ attorney Steve Hoffman said that his client was currently being psychiatrically evaluated and since Torres made bail, his family has been taking care of him.

“We’re hopeful that he gets the help that he clearly needs,” Hoffman said.

Ribbon cut at newly expanded Asser Levy Playground

Feb5 Asser Levy Garodnick equipment

Council Member Dan Garodnick tries out the adult fitness equipment. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Friday morning, in near-freezing weather following the second snowfall in a week, local community leaders and politicians cut the ribbon on the newly expanded Asser Levy Playground.

Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver joked that “It’s a pleasure to cut a ribbon on this warm and sunny day,” as the politicians on either side of him sat bundled up for the cold. He then went on to say the project had been successful in terms of being both “on time and on budget and that gets a double round of applause.”

New features along the two-block-long park that was formerly a street include a track, adult fitness equipment, a synthetic turf field, drinking fountains, lighting, trees, tables and benches.

The work was funded with allocations of $1,175,000 from Council Member Dan Garodnick, $500,000 from the UN Development Corporation, and $670,000 from the mayor.

While at the podium, Silver joked that Garodnick was so enamored with project, “he named his son Asher.”

In response Garodnick confided that he’d actually told his son that the playground had been named after him.

“There are no limits to my deception,” he quipped. “I told him it was a typo on the sign.” He added that since he also has another son, “We’ll have to see what we can do for Devin.”

While construction had been underway at the site, the Council member said he and both of his young sons would pop by each day from their apartment in Peter Cooper Village and ask the project supervisor for status updates. And, he added, the supervisor was very nice about it.

The playground work was tied to a land deal that would allow the United Nations to put a building on space occupied by Robert Moses Park.While naturally the plan to remove that park space has been met with some opposition from neighbors, Garodnick said Robert Moses Park is underutilized, as the space now occupied by Asser Levy Playground was when it was a street.

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