RGB shoots down rent rollback

Tenants in front of the CUNY graduate center before the vote on Wednesday evening. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Tenants in front of the CUNY graduate center before the vote on Wednesday evening. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Rent freeze still a possibility for one-year leases

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Tenants hoping for the possibility of a rent rollback this year were disappointed at the Rent Guidelines Board preliminary vote last night, despite the possibility of a rent freeze for one-year leases. The de Blasio-appointed board approved a range that will be voted on at the end of June, from zero to two percent for one-year leases and from 0.5 to 3.5 percent for two-year leases.

The nine-member board faced the passionate crowd at CUNY’s Proshansky Auditorium in Midtown for the vote, which was preceded by a tenant rally in Herald Square a block away.

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Pols tell tenants their stories are needed in rent law fight


Over 400 people listen as local state elected officials brief them on the uphill battle over the rent laws coming in June. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Over 400 people listen as local state elected officials brief them on the uphill battle over the rent laws coming in June. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
On Saturday, over 400 residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village gathered for a meeting held by the Tenants Association that focused on the upcoming expiration of rent laws and the uphill battle tenants would have in trying to get them strengthened.

Speakers briefed the audience on the current power dynamic in Albany, while also telling those in attendance that without tenants writing to Albany lawmakers, especially the governor, the effort is a lot less likely to succeed.

“If I go to Albany and say (to Governor Cuomo) two and half million people are going to be very upset with you, if that’s not clear in the streets and not in the mail in his email inbox, it’s very hard to believe,” said Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh.

Kavanagh was one of the speakers of the event, which was held at Simon Baruch Middle School, along with State Senator Brad Hoylman and TenantsPAC treasurer Mike McKee.

McKee told the crowd if the laws are renewed in their current state, “It would be a terrible defeat for tenants.” Referring to a recent Daily News article that quoted Cuomo as saying the laws and the controversial 421-a tax abatement for developers could possibly just be renewed and not changed, due to the federal investigations being conducted in Albany, McKee added, “I’m sorry, but that is crap.” McKee has said that 421-a is expected to be used as leverage during the rent law negotiations.

Both Hoylman and Kavanagh spoke about Albany’s power system and how with the Senate in the hands of Republicans whose campaigns are financed largely by real estate, the only hope for tenants is in swaying the Assembly, led by Carl Heastie, and the governor.

Meanwhile, Kavanagh has said he wants to close the “LLC loophole” that makes New York one of the few states where each LLC created counts as a separate campaign contributor, but, he admitted, “I’m not sure we’re going to do that this year.”

However, he added that recent media attention on the issue may prove helpful anyway.
“There may an opportunity to shame people into backing off,” he said.

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, ST-PCV Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg and State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, ST-PCV Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg and State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

McKee said that while in the past, major decisions in Albany have been made behind closed doors by the “three men in a room” (the governor, the Assembly speaker and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos) this year there might be four — if Jeff Klein is allowed to participate. Klein is the head of the State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group that caucuses with Republicans. McKee, who’s often blasted Klein as being a tool of the real estate industry, commented that his participation would only be to tenants’ disadvantage.

As for Skelos, McKee added, “Dean Skelos will not do anything voluntarily to help tenants or to hurt landlords. The Assembly has to do what’s called taking hostages. There are dozens of things everybody wants at the last minute. Some of it is minor stuff, nothing to do with housing even.”

One advantage of tenants, he added, is that with Heastie being new as speaker, “he has to prove himself. He has to be accountable not only to us but the members that elected him speaker.” Heastie has said he considers strengthening the rent laws a priority. That said, McKee warned, there’s still always the possibility a tough talking pol will “wimp out” at the eleventh hour. “There is always a wimp factor in Albany,” he sighed.

As for what tenants could do, he urged people to write to the aforementioned three men (letters rather than postcards), and get three neighbors to do the same as well as turn out, if possible for any upcoming rallies. One rally, organized by the Real Rent Reform campaign and the union 1199SEIU, which is aimed at strengthening the rent laws, is scheduled for Thursday, May 14 at 5 p.m. at Foley Square (corner of Centre and Worth Streets). The group will then march over the Brooklyn Bridge.

“We need a very big turnout,” said McKee.

Another rally is on Wednesday, May 6 in front of Cuomo’s Manhattan office at 633 Third Avenue (between 40th and 41st Streets) from 10 a.m.-noon.

He then claimed to have a plan aimed at shaming Cuomo into helping tenants. McKee declined to discuss this further. “That’s all I’m prepared to say,” he said later.

When taking his turn at the podium, Tenants Association President John Marsh echoed the sentiment of the other speakers, calling on neighbors to get involved. “If everyone takes a small step, we can have a very loud voice,” said Marsh.

He also mentioned a door-knocking campaign that he and Council Member Dan Garodnick led through ST/PCV the following day, with Garodnick’s two young sons in tow. Garodnick later said the building walk-throughs resulted in many tenants being appreciative of the reminder of the looming rent negotiations in June.

Kavanagh, when addressing the audience, said that while he realizes many new residents at ST/PCV probably feel the rent laws have no teeth when they look at the numbers on their rent bills, being rent regulated still offers New Yorkers protections they wouldn’t have otherwise.

“It prevents landlords from arbitrarily evicting tenants and that doesn’t exist for most tenants in the city,” he said.
Because of the outcome of the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” lawsuit, all units in ST/PCV will be regulated until the property’s J-51 tax abatement expires in 2020.

Kavanagh reiterated the goals for strengthening the rent laws, which include repealing vacancy deregulation and other policies that give incentive to owners to vacate units such as vacancy bonuses and reforming the way individual apartment improvement (IAI) rent increases are issued. Reform of major capital increases (MCIs) is another goal.

Kavanagh also got a round of applause after saying he wanted to close the preferential rent loophole. Due to preferential rents, which are given to most new residents in renovated apartments in ST/PCV, rent increases can be far higher than those issued by the Rent Guidelines Board, if the tenants’ legal rents are higher than what they’ve been paying (the preferential rent).

“In our community it’s a particular problem due to the way ‘Roberts’ played out,” said Kavanagh. “(Tenants) are facing enormous increases.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who’d been sitting in the audience at the meeting, along with Garodnick, at one point, popped up to comment about preferential rents, which she said was happening all around the city.

“We go case by case and try to fight it but there is no great answer,” she admitted.

The meeting then concluded with a Q&A period, with most of the questions from the audience—which were limited to the topic of rent—being on the theme of MCIs. Tenants mainly asked why they were being forced to pay them. Hoylman and Kavanagh suggested that tenants’ use their frustration and personal experiences as inspiration to write to the governor.

When a woman asked where the mayor was in this fight, saying, “He seems to have had a low profile lately,” Kavanagh responded to say he thought the mayor would be more visible soon. “This is the time we roll out this fight and I think you’ll see the mayor rolling out this fight,” he said. Hoylman added that a lot is done “behind the scenes,” going on to note that this is part of Albany’s dysfunction.

When a man asked if strengthening of the rent laws would help a conversion effort, Kavanagh said he thought it would in that it would help thwart predatory bidders.

Another tenant then asked if it could work to tenants’ advantage if Skelos, who’s being investigated by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, were to be indicted. The answer, however, was that it wasn’t likely to have any impact during rent negotiations.

“If he’s indicted and forced to step down, it’s unlikely that he’d go to trial before June and you don’t have to leave office until you’re convicted,” said Hoylman. “It would have a greater impact next year than this year.”

Town & Village later contacted the office of the governor to ask his position on strengthening the rent laws. In response, a spokesperson emailed prepared statements made by Cuomo at the Association for a Better New York breakfast on rent laws and 421-a.
Included in the written statement was a comment that “At a maximum maybe we can make some fine modifications in both of them.”

“The 421-a, first I believe has to be extended and I believe that’s essential,” the statement read. On changes to it, which he said he believed were needed, he said, “If it was a different time in Albany, frankly, and Albany was a little bit more of a stable situation I would normally take those negotiations to Albany and try to work it out among the parties. Albany has a lot going on right now let’s say, so I’m hoping and I’m asking the parties to work out the disagreements among themselves or their desires for modifications. If they can great, in any event 421-a has to be extended.”

He went on to say, “Rent has to be extended. It is a New York City issue. If we don’t extend rent you would have chaos in the real estate market, these are rent regulations, rent stabilization etc. You would have chaos in the real estate market unlike anything we have seen because it regulates the private industry not another government. It lapses one day you will see real estate entities and landlords start rising rents and evicting tenants. I mean it would be immediate mass mayhem.

“So at a minimum we have to extend those protections but in truth, because everyone has been watching the situation, to have these final negotiations on these delicate points is going to be problematic this year. So, at a minimum rents extended 421-a, is extended. At a maximum maybe we can make some fine modifications in both of them. The democratic assembly is going to be more aggressive on extending rent than the senate Republicans. 421-a, both houses want.”

A spokesperson, Frank Sobrino, when asked if the governor could clarify what was meant by “fine modifications,” said this was a general statement in response to suggested changes. He also denied that the statements were an attempt to remain neutral.

“He said that ‘at a minimum,’ both rent regulations and 421-a must be extended,” said Sobrino. “That’s not neutral.”

Letters to the Editor, Apr. 30

Apr9 Toon Cyclone

Why was mail dumped in wrong building?

Today, Saturday, April 25, dozens (literally dozens) of pieces of mail addressed to tenants of 435 East 14th Street were dumped in the lobby of 445 East 14th Street. Most of the mail was rent bills.

I took all of it over to the lobby of 435, though I didn’t take all the magazines because I was running late for an appointment and there were a lot of magazines, too!

Anybody at 435 should regularly check the lobby of 445 because we get their mail quite frequently, though not usually as much as today.

Obviously, it was not our regular letter carrier working today because she is very careful. I wonder why the Postal Service is going down the toilet?

Maybe it’s time that PCVST set up some way of electronic rent payment (if it doesn’t already) because I’m sure this is not an isolated incident and some tenants may be late with their rent because the Postal Service (if you can call it “service”) is so bad around here.

Frances Clarke, ST

Town & Village called the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office three times on Monday and again on Wednesday to ask about this but the phone wasn’t picked up any of those times. An employee at a window said he’d heard about it and thought someone had forgotten to lock the mailboxes. An official spokesperson for the USPS didn’t respond to an email from T&V requesting a comment. A rep for CWCapital said it was a USPS issue and referred any questions to the aforemenioned agency. T&V also contacted Congress Member Carolyn Maloney whose case worker for postal issues, Sarah Belleas, asked that tenants who experience any mail problems contact her at sarah.belleas@mail.house.gov.

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Police Watch: Assault in Union Square, multiple arrests for biting

Police arrested 37-year-old Kyle Sutphin for assault in front of 39 Union Square West last Monday at 9:56 p.m. Sutphin allegedly punched the victim in the face for no reason. Police said that the victim was treated by EMS and brought to Bellevue Hospital for an injury on his lip.

Police arrested 55-year-old Jay Wilkins for burglary in front of 160 East 27th Street last Wednesday at 3:48 p.m. Police said that Wilkins was walking from the back of a commercial delivery truck with a box of Lipton’s Tea in his hand. The driver of the truck said that the tea was located in the rear enclosed cargo area and intended for delivery, and that Wilkins did not have permission or authority to be inside the truck. Police said that Wilkins was in possession of a box cutter that was inside his rear left pants pocket, as well as a garbage bag from his right jacket pocket. Wilkins was also charged with burglar’s tools, weapons possession and possession of stolen property.

Police arrested 24-year-old Abrigail Torres last Tuesday for robbery after she allegedly bit a CVS employee. Police said she was trying to leave the store without paying for three bottles of Tide laundry detergent valued at $21.99 and after being confronted by an employee, struggled and bit him. Information about the specific CVS location was unavailable.

Police arrested 39-year-old Evelyn Diaz inside the 13th precinct last Tuesday at 10 a.m. for a grand larceny that allegedly occurred last November. Diaz, who was a cleaning lady for Handy.com, was hired to clean the victim’s apartment. The victim told police that she left her apartment in the morning while Diaz was still cleaning and left her wedding band and engagement ring on her night dressing table. When she returned home the same day, the rings were missing.

Police arrested 28-year-old Ismael Coulibaly inside the 13th precinct last Monday at 8:15 a.m. for grand larceny. Police said that Coulibaly used a credit card from a charitable organization to make several personal purchases over $7,000.

Police arrested 24-year-old David Carreno for forgery at the 13th precinct last Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. Carreno allegedly used a stolen doctor’s prescription pad to obtain amphetamine and other controlled prescription substances.

Police arrested a teenager for thefts from Duane Reade locations at 71 West 23rd Street and 873 Broadway in the last month. He was arrested inside the 13th precinct at 2 p.m. last Monday. The teen was charged with two counts of petit larceny and one count of grand larceny for the theft at the West 23rd Street location, which took place on April 6. He was charged with petit larceny for shoplifting at the Broadway location on March 28. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age. Police said that three other teens who were involved in the thefts have not been arrested.

Police arrested 23-year-old Samantha Burgos inside the 13th Precinct last Friday at 9:10 a.m. for grand larceny that took place over a period from December, 2014 to February, 2015. Police said that Burgos reimbursed herself with more than $20,000 into her paycheck from Luxury Attache at 118 East 25th Street, her employer, without permission. The District Attorney’s office said that Burgos was a bookkeeper at the company.

Police arrested 38-year-old Naleane Lopez for assault in front of the Hotel Kenmore at 145 East 23rd Street last Thursday at 1:50 a.m. Lopez allegedly punched the victim in the face, causing swelling and substantial pain. Lopez allegedly also bit the victim on the left hand.

Police arrested 51-year-old Rupert Vanterpool after he allegedly swiped cans of Red Bull from a 7-Eleven and bit an employee who tried to stop him.
Police said Vanterpool entered the store at 395 Third Avennue last Wednesday at 8:19 p.m. and grabbed Red Bulls from the refrigerator, then allegedly put them under his coat and tried to leave without paying. Police also said that Vanterpool also was seen from the store office via video surveillance taking the drinks. He dropped some of the cans while he was trying to leave the store and the store employee, who assumed he still had some of the cans in his coat, chased him out. Police said that Vanterpool then bit the victim on the left side of his neck, causing him to bleed. The stolen items were valued at $60.65. He was charged with for petit larceny, assault and possession of stolen property.

Mohammad Islam, 41, was arrested for forgery at the corner of Third Avenue and East 23rd Street last Thursday at 12:37 p.m. Islam was driving west on East 23rd Street with an RMP directly behind him. An officer driving the RMP noticed that the license plate didn’t appear to be valid because it wasn’t reflective and had non-raised lettering. When he was stopped, police said that the license plate was found to be made of cardboard and when DMV records were checked it was found that the car was registered to his wife and the plates had been surrendered on December 19, 2014.

Police arrested two people involved in a hand-to-hand drug transaction last Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. Josue Cedeno, 34, was grabbed at Third Avenue and East 14th Street and Lisa Lindahl, 42, was arrested at First Avenue and East 14th Street. Cedeno was charged with sale of a controlled substance and Lindahl was charged with possession of a controlled substance. Police said that Lindahl bought an alleged controlled substance from Cedeno.

Police arrested 23-year-old Robert Heck for disorderly conduct last Saturday at 3:51 a.m. in front of 235 East 20th Street. Heck was allegedly causing public alarm by engaging in threatening behavior towards other pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Police arrested 35-year-old Carl Bradley in front of the Stuyvesant Town Associated Supermarket at 409 East 14th Street last Saturday at 12:45 p.m. for possession of stolen property and unlawful peddling. Bradley was allegedly attempting to sell several items, including two cell phones. Police said that Bradley didn’t have a general vendor’s license and was found to be in possession of stolen property.

Stanley Griffin, 52, was arrested in front of 1 East 21st Street last Saturday at 5:13 p.m. for petit larceny. Griffin was allegedly casing a grey Nissan Sentra in front of the location and made two attempts to gain entry into the vehicle by pulling on both passenger side doors in an attempt to remove property.

Sudanshu Sane, 23, was arrested for assault in front of 240 East 27th Street last Sunday at 2:11 a.m. Sane allegedly punched the victim in the head and face several times, causing a swollen right eye and swollen left temple.

Police arrested 34-year-old Joseph Flores for aggravated harassment last Sunday at 3:55 p.m. inside the 13th precinct. Flores allegedly made threats against the NYPD over the phone.

Moms protest ‘toxic’ toys

Moms gather by a “toxic” toy bin on Broadway and 25th Street to protest an industry lawsuit. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Moms gather by a “toxic” toy bin on Broadway and 25th Street to protest an industry lawsuit. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A coalition of moms protesting hazardous chemicals and metals used in toys descended upon the headquarters of the Toy Industry Association on Tuesday morning, toting with them a collection of “toxic toys.”

Toys these days, they said, can include chemicals like benzene, cadmium and even formaldehyde. They gave an example in two of the toys that were on display in a trash bin, a soccer ball and a padded mat, which they said had lead. Two of the moms added they’ve even tested toys themselves and found chemicals in them.

One of them was Tenye Steele, who has two daughters. “I am always having to tell them, ‘Please take that out of your mouth’, ‘please don’t chew on that,’” she said. “I used to work with chemicals so I understand that chemicals are needed to make things, but it doesn’t take a physical scientist to understand that toxic chemicals should not be in children’s toys. It could be one less thing I have to worry about.”

The group held its press conference across the street from the Toy Industry Association’s building on 25th Street and Broadway, after being shooed away from the front of the building by an employee there. The location was chosen as a response to a federal lawsuit filed in Albany by a group of toy manufacturers fighting a local law that sets which levels of chemicals in products are acceptable. The suit is fighting it by arguing that there’s already a similar federal law and sufficient safety provisions in place.

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RGB: Owner costs lowest they’ve been in 13 years

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Thursday, The Rent Guidelines Board released its annual report on landlord operating costs, which revealed that landlords only experienced a 0.5 percent increase last year, making it the smallest increase since 2002.

Mike McKee

Mike McKee

Mike McKee of TenantsPAC pointed out that in that year, operating costs were actually in the negatives but the chair at the time had been appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“He said that he didn’t care what the price index showed and that we couldn’t have rent increases below 2 and 4,” McKee said. “And that’s what the increases were that year.”

In contrast, the current board that will vote this year was appointed entirely by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made getting a rent freeze for rent stabilized tenants one of his campaign promises.

The study released last year reported that operating costs had increased by 5.7 percent in 2013, but the board had five new tenant-friendly members and set record-low increase of one percent for one-year leases and 2.75 percent for two-year leases.

The notably small increase in landlord costs in this year’s study is due primarily to a 21 percent decrease in fuel costs throughout last year. The study also noted that there was a 4.2 percent increase in taxes, 7.2 percent increase in insurance costs and 1.2 percent increase in utilities, but these were still outweighed by the drastic decrease in fuel costs.

While the report looks promising for tenants, advocates are still fighting to change the process because they say that the price index is deceptive and shouldn’t even be used as part of the RGB’s process.

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CompassRock 1 of 3 finalists to manage Co-op City

Co-op City as seen from the east (Photo via Wikipedia)

Co-op City as seen from the east (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Sabina Mollot

CompassRock, which was still a startup when it took over the day-to-day operations of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, has recently set its eyes on an even bigger catch.

Last November, the Denver-based management arm of CWCapital became one of eight companies that put out a bid to manage Co-op City in The Bronx, and now it’s considered one of three favorites.

Jeffrey Buss, an attorney for the co-op, which is known as a company as Riverbay Corporation, said the goal is to pick a new management company by the end of this month, although there have already been delays.

First the 15-member co-op board has to make a decision, but even then Wells Fargo, which has a $621.5 million mortgage with the property, still has a say, and HUD (a major guarantor) and the state housing agency are also key players.

Meanwhile, Cleve Taylor, the president of the board, isn’t sold on CompassRock, explaining that he finds the company’s lack of experience – it formed in 2012 — concerning.

“That is one of my chief concerns,” he said. “It appears in our management criteria that with respect to managing Co-op City, they are supposed to have five years of experience. It appears to me on the surface that CompassRock does not meet that criteria. So that is a major concern of mine. My second concern is that CompassRock does not have sufficient experience managing Mitchell-Lama cooperatives in the State of New York. CompassRock’s relationship is mostly landlord-tenant based.”

He added that he thinks Riverbay might even be better off without a third party manager.

“It is my opinion that if a qualified managing agent is not found that Riverbay Corporation should remain a self-managed entity,” said Taylor, “since our managers have more experience than CompassRock, LLC. It’s just a plain fact.” However, he added, bank documents contain language that says there must be a managing agent or general manager.

Co-op City has been searching for a new managing agent since last October, and its last management company, Marion Scott Inc., has been out of the picture since November. Riverbay and MSI are currently in litigation, with the latter having sued in an attempt to get reinstated. The property, meanwhile has accused its former managers of mismanaging money and labor relations with the property and it is now in the midst of hammering out a $6.4 million settlement to be paid to employees by September. As a result, Co-op City’s residents will likely soon be facing a 4.5 percent hike in their monthly carrying charges in order to pay for it.

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Pols push for Ave. A entrance to L station

Council Members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick at the First Avenue L train station

Council Members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick at the First Avenue L train station (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As crowds spilled into the First Avenue L train station during rushhour on Monday morning, two local City Council members stressed the need for an additional subway entrance on Avenue A.

While last December, the MTA announced that a new entrance was part of its capital plan, Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez said that they want to make sure the project remains a priority for the agency.

“We are raising our voices to make sure it stays in the capital plan. It deserves to stay,” said Garodnick. “Nothing is done until it’s done,” he added.

Late last year, the MTA drafted a $32 billion capital budget, which was rejected by a state board, and it’s currently facing a $15 billion deficit.

Mendez noted that a new entrance has been a priority of hers since she worked for her predecessor in the Council, Margarita Lopez, who also had pushed for it alongside then-State Assembly Member Steven Sanders. On Monday, as commuters continued to file into the station, Mendez gestured their way, saying, “You can see it’s very well needed.”

Due to the growing population in Williamsburg, in recent years ridership on the L line has soared. Since 1998, there’s been a 98 percent increase with 300,000 straphangers riding the train every day. Over 49,000 of those straphangers use the First Avenue or Bedford Avenue station.

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Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade

Hundreds came out for the annual tradition, which, this time, featured a visit from former Yankees player Jeff Nelson.

Hundreds came out for the annual tradition, which, this time, featured a visit from former Yankees player Jeff Nelson. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday morning, hundreds of young athletes and their families, mainly from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, gathered for the annual Peter Stuyvesant Little League parade.

The parade, a decades-long tradition, is considered the official kickoff for a new season of local baseball, softball and teeball.

Led by a bagpiper, the PSLL procession snaked its way through Stuy Town, finally ending up at Con Ed Field on Avenue C. It was there where the kids were met by a former Major League Baseball player, Jeff Nelson.

Nelson, a relief pitcher who played for the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners before retiring in 2007, admired the turf field the PSLL uses.

“I never had this when I was growing up,” he said. The player, who grew up in Baltimore, added, “It all starts here when you want to be a Major League Baseball player. I remember I was seven when I started.”

He also thanked the league for inviting him and seemed impressed by the PSLL’s size. “It’s great to see the support from the kids and especially the parents,” he said.

Nelson then threw the first pitch of the season, which was caught by Cubs Minors player Blake Levine.

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Facade MCIs pending at 5 buildings

By Sabina Mollot

The ST-PCV Tenants Association said this week that it has heard from tenants in four buildings in Peter Cooper Village and one in Stuyvesant Town who have received notices in the mail of pending major capital improvement rent increases.

The pending MCI is for building exterior restorations and, if approved by the state housing agency, is a permanent increase that will cost tenants a little over $13 per room per month. (Costs could vary from building to building.)

For one tenant at 601 East 20th Street who’d gotten such an official notice, the owner’s total claimed cost for the work, including exterior restoration, a sidewalk shed and consultant services, was $462,000.

The Tenants Association had heard about the MCI from neighbors in three of the buildings last fall (441, 541 and 2 Peter Cooper Road last fall), but just this month, heard about it at 601 and 3 Stuyvesant Oval.

John Marsh, president of the TA, said he expects there will be more so he is asking residents at other buildings to contact the association if they get the notices.

Whenever the owner files an application for an MCI, the Tenants Association also asks tenants to request a 60-day extension to respond, so the TA’s attorney can analyze the charges.

“It is lawful for the owner to apply for an MCI, but we will thoroughly review it for appropriateness of the costs,” said Marsh.

For more information on the TA’s recommended way to respond to MCIs, check here.

Police Watch: Ex-con arrested for ‘rape,’ mugger wanted for attempted robbery near Union Square

Police arrested 48-year-old Rodney Stover for a rape that occurred inside the Turnmill Bar at 119 East 27th Street on Saturday, April 11 at 7:45 p.m. Stover allegedly grabbed the 23-year-old woman by the throat and raped her inside one of the stalls in the bathroom, which is on the basement level of the bar.
Stover was arrested outside 305 Seventh Avenue last Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. and the New York Post reported that the owner of Turnmill chased Stover to Seventh Avenue after recognizing him.
In 1992, Stover raped a 42-year-old woman in Southampton at knifepoint and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in local jail. The Post reported that he did almost 19 years and was paroled in July 2012, but he was back in prison in Pennsylvania not long after on a parole violation. He had just been released again this past February and was living in the Bellevue Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street.
Stover was charged with rape, sodomy and assault. He is being held at Riker’s Island and bail has been remanded.

The New York City Police Department is asking the public’s assistance identifying a man wanted for an attempted robbery in Union Square. The robber followed the victim, a 24-year-old woman, into an elevator within 78 Fifth Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets on April 7 at 8:45 p.m. Once inside, he pulled out a gun and demanded that the victim lead him to her apartment and give him money. When she told him that she didn’t live in the building, he demanded that she go to an ATM where she was to remove money for him.  As they exited the building, he held the victim’s hand while hailing a taxi.  As the taxi pulled to the curb, the victim broke free from the man’s grasp and fled to a nearby store. The gunman fled the area empty handed.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Police arrested two people this week for a robbery that took place outside 143 East 28th Street on April 4.
Eighteen-year-old Show-kat Hossen was arrested last Monday at 10 a.m. and 24-year-old Imam Hossen was arrested this past Sunday at 9:30 a.m. The two men allegedly took personal belongings from the victim by force. Police said that the robbery was not a random mugging and that the three people all knew each other.

Police arrested 42-year-old Garfield Campbell for assault and possession of a weapon at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 19th Street last Tuesday at 5:05 p.m. The victim told police that he was standing at the corner trying to hail a taxi, and when one stopped to pick him up, Campbell’s car was forced to stop behind it. He began to honk his horn and got out of his car to confront the victim. Campbell allegedly pushed him and began to hit him, then pulled out a box cutter and slashed him in the bicep and hand. Police said that the victim suffered serious physical injury and will need stitches on his arm and hand.

Twenty-year-old Jazelle Hernandez was arrested last Monday at 1 a.m. after allegedly taking a jacket, purse, passport and three Xanax pills from a victim who was at Maialino restaurant at 2 Lexington Avenue on Sunday, April 5. Hernandez was allegedly wearing the jacket and holding the purse when police approached her.

Police arrested 23-year-old Honda Wang last Wednesday at 8:25 p.m. for petit larceny that occurred inside a Stuyvesant Town apartment. Wang allegedly entered the victim’s room without permission and took $750 as well as her MetroCard, Stuyvesant Town ID and key that was in one of her drawers. Police said that Wang was seen on video entering her bedroom, opening drawers and touching items on shelves. The relationship between Wang and the victim wasn’t known by the District Attorney’s office, and a rep for the D.A. said that Wang is the only other person besides the victim who has access to the apartment.

Police arrested 49-year-old Tracy Coleman for possession of a controlled substance and petit larceny inside a Duane Reade at 71 West 23rd Street last Tuesday at 3:43 p.m. Coleman entered the store with another person who wasn’t arrested and allegedly swiped two pieces of chocolate as well as a drink. After he was stopped and searched, police found that he was in possession of 28 white baggies with alleged heroin.

Police arrested a group of people in connection with a petit larceny from Flatiron Wines & Spirits at 929 Broadway last Wednesday around 5:30 p.m.
Twenty-year-old Jesus Cabrera was arrested for assault of a peace officer, petit larceny, resisting arrested, an unclassified misdemeanor of public administration, possession of stolen property and criminal mischief in front of the store at 6:18 p.m. Police said that he stole merchandise and when he was approached by police, shoved the officer and resisted for several minutes before he was restrained. He also allegedly shattered the glass door at the entrance of 939 Broadway while he was resisting arrest.
Devon Peterson, 23, was arrested for petit larceny at Broadway and 22nd Street. Police said that he was acting as a lookout and was allegedly handing property from the store to Cabrera.
Quamel Johnson, 23, was arrested for burglar’s tools and petit larceny at the corner of Broadway and East 18th Street. Police said that he was also acting as a lookout while the seven other people entered the location and took merchandise without permission. Johnson was allegedly in possession of a Jimmy Jazz bag lined with aluminum foil.
Five other people who were involved were not arrested.

Police arrested a married couple, 54-year-old Patricia Leclerc and 28-year-old Ramon Leclerc for assault outside the Union Square subway station at Union Square East and East 15th Street last Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. The victim told police that she was crossing the street to go into the station when Patricia allegedly punched her in the face, causing substantial pain and bleeding. Ramon Leclerc then allegedly pulled her by her hair and punched her in the back of the head, and they also pushed her to the ground.
Police said that the Leclercs did not know the victim.

Forty-year-old Paolo Italia was arrested for criminal mischief in front of The Stand comedy club at 239 Third Avenue last Saturday at 10:52 p.m. Italia allegedly broke the victim’s phone by smashing the screen. The approximate value of the phone was $200.

Police arrested two people for reckless endangerment, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct at 4 Lexington Avenue last Saturday at 11:08 p.m. Nineteen-year-old Lucas Balzer and 20-year-old Gerard Dalbon allegedly climbed up scaffolding on the building without permission. Police said that Dalbon complied with orders to come down from the scaffolding but Balzer allegedly did not. Police said that he evaded police, causing a dangerous condition for officers in the process and was also charged with resisting arrest. Dalbon was also in possession of a tobacco pipe with alleged marijuana residue and he was charged with possession.
Police said that the two men were acting together and had entered the scaffolding from the side of the building on the southwest corner.

Police arrested 38-year-old Tara Penasso-Roussakov for prostitution outside 234 East 24th Street last Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. Police said that Penasso-Roussakov agreed to engage in sexual intercourse with an undercover officer in exchange for $220.

Twenty-year-old Marco Sepulveda was arrested last Friday at 4:14 p.m. for grand larceny and petit larceny. Sepulveda allegedly stole merchandise from four different Duane Reades, working with other people who weren’t arrested. Police said that he entered the store at 401 Park Avenue South on March 29 and swiped items there. On April 14, he entered the location at 300 Park Avenue South and allegedly stole $1,000 worth of products. He also allegedly stole things from the stores at 71 West 23rd Street on April 6 and 873 Broadway on March 24.

Forty-year-old Shaheem Purdie was arrested for intent to sell a controlled substance, sale of a controlled substance, bail jumping, possession of marijuana and menacing in front of 24 East 28th Street last Saturday at 1:30 a.m. Police said that Purdie had completed a sale of the hallucinogen Molly to another person who wasn’t arrested and when he was searched, was allegedly in possession of 20 plastic bags of crack cocaine and two glassine envelopes of marijuana.
Police said that Purdie also got into an argument with someone and displayed a pocket knife while threatening to kill him.

Police arrested three people for possession of synthetic marijuana last week in two separate incidents.
James Johns, 33, was arrested in front of 38 West 26th Street last Tuesday at 1:21 p.m. and was allegedly in possession of K2, synthetic marijuana. Police said that 24-year-olds Demike Colello and Joseph Challenger were smoking synthetic marijuana in front of 49 West 27th Street last Tuesday at 4:36 p.m.

Letters to the Editor, Apr. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Interpreting what the RSA says

This group uses as their tag line: “We house New York.” And you have probably seen their ads on local TV stations in the area. They want Albany to end rent stabilization. They give as reasons: it would help New Yorkers; would allow for all sorts of upgrading of the housing stock; and in many ways be benevolent to the residents… Really?

I have asked my students what profession engages primarily in lying. The most frequent response has been “advertising.” And, I fully agree. Have you seen “Mad Men?”

Even though it was reported that increases in the costs of the real estate industry increased only one half of one percent during the recent year they want for all apartments to go free market. For Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents $2,000 rentals could go to over $5,000.

To rewrite the ad with honesty, they would have to say: “We along with lawyers, no matter how wealthy, will always want more and more!” We want 150 percent more in increases from you!

How many could afford anything close to $5K?

So, as they pay their lobbyists monies to give to the many crooked representatives in the bicameral legislatures perks and cash to gain their votes, who wins? Not the voters but the real estate folks who pay dues to be members of the RSA who claim that, “They house New York.”

Be sure and attend the next Tenants Association meeting and let your voices be heard.

David Chowes, PCV

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All sex offenders moved out of Bellevue shelter

Planned legislation would make this permanent by closing loophole allowing them to stay there

Councilmember Dan Garodnick spoke at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting, which drew  a large crowd concerned mainly about the Bellevue shelter for men.

Councilmember Dan Garodnick spoke at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting, which drew a large crowd concerned mainly about the Bellevue shelter for men. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents concerned about the recent rape of a woman in a bar on East 27th Street and subsequent arrest of a man who had been living in the nearby Bellevue Men’s Shelter for the crime learned that all sex offenders have since been moved out of the shelter.

Matt Borden from the Department of Homeless Services made the announcement at the most recent 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, which was held at the Epiphany Parish Hall instead of its usual spot in the precinct because so many from the community were expected at the event. Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez were also at the meeting to discuss legislation that would put tighter restrictions on who is allowed at the shelter.

While the regular monthly meeting would usually consist of a report from the precinct’s commanding officer about recent crimes overall, new Executive Officer Paul Zangrilli, filling in for the new Commanding Officer Brandon Timoney, instead focused on the reason that meeting attendance had quadrupled to about 100 area residents.

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PCV jewelry designer holding sale to benefit New York Theatre Ballet

Bess Heitner

Bess Heitner

By Sabina Mollot

Peter Cooper Village jewelry designer Bess Heitner will be holding a jewelry sale to benefit New York Theatre Ballet at its new location at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery.

Heitner said she will have about 100 pieces of her fashion jewelry at the sale, taking place on Thursday, April 30 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Twenty percent of the proceeds will go to NYTB. There is no admission fee to the event and complimentary refreshments and wine will be served, courtesy of Pongal, a kosher Indian restaurant in Kips Bay. There will also be a raffle and gifts with a purchase.

Heitner has just designed her spring/summer line, featuring pieces all made from natural materials including garnet, coral, quartz, amber, aquamarine and pearls. She will also have additional pieces, mainly necklaces and collars, and some clearance jewelry. Prices start at $58 (for some of the earrings).

“I made a decision not to sell in stores,” said Heitner. “I was in a high end boutique but (the owner) charged four to five times the price.”

Now the designer sells her line exclusively on her website, bessheitner.com, and through image consultants and stylists. “So I can keep my prices just above wholesale,” she said.

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is located at East 10th Street and Second Avenue. The jewelry sale will be held on the second floor studio, which is accessible through the entrance on the East 11th Street side. To RSVP, call (718) 669-0310 or visit the website.

NYCHA buildings getting energy efficiency upgrades

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Nearly 300 New York City Housing Authority developments will be upgraded and retrofitted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate cost savings with at least $100 million in work through a series of Energy Performance Contracts, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced last Thursday.

Facilitated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the upgrades are part of the mayor’s commitment to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The reduction in consumption will also help NYCHA mitigate the impact of rising utility costs to save funds for other building upgrades and repairs.

Utility costs for water, electricity and heat in NYCHA developments have increased 64 percent over the last ten years even though consumption has only increased 9 percent, so the upgrades planned include energy-saving measures for heating plants and distribution, as well as the installation of energy efficient lighting.

The Request for Proposal, released today, will try to find energy services companies that maximize energy savings and cost savings throughout 50 percent of NYCHA’s properties, 89 developments encompassing 87,000 apartments and representing more than 200,000 residents. Currently, the annual utility cost for these developments is almost $300 million. Subsequent RFPs will seek bids for additional properties, for up to 300 NYCHA developments. In the mayor’s green buildings plan, the city has committed to retrofitting all public buildings with significant energy use by 2025 and public housing is a key component to the plan.

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