Stuy Town teen will attempt swim around Manhattan

Simona Dwass, pictured preparing for an NYCSwim event last year (Photo courtesy of Simona Dwass)

Simona Dwass, pictured preparing for an NYCSwim event last year (Photo courtesy of Simona Dwass)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A Stuy Town resident is preparing for a marathon this weekend, but she isn’t going to need her shoes.

Recent high school graduate Simona Dwass, who Town & Village readers might remember as the intrepid swimmer who freestyled the 17 miles from the East River near East 26th Street to Coney Island last summer in a record-breaking four hours and 24 minutes, will be attempting to swim around the entire island of Manhattan this Saturday in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. The feat is more than ten miles longer than the swim to Coney Island at 28.5 miles but Dwass is confident in her stamina to finish the race. She said that the only challenge she’s anticipating is the water temperature.

“If the water is too cold I might not be able to make it,” she said. “Even if it’s 73 degrees, it would be hard to swim for seven hours. The currents are supposed to be strong the entire swim so it would just be an issue of the temperature.”

Eighteen-year-old Dwass was the youngest person to complete the trip to Coney Island, known as the Rose Pitonof Swim, and she is pushing boundaries again, being one year younger than the usual age requirement of 19 for the marathon swim. The teen said she was excited to learn last year that the competition’s namesake was 17 at the time of the race, just like she was at her attempt.

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Dollar-and-up store takes over former Beehives & Buzzcuts space

 J’s 99 Cents & Up has opened up in a First Avenue Space where the owners of Tal Bagels had previously hoped to put a smoked fish shop. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

J’s 99 Cents & Up has opened up in a First Avenue Space where the owners of Tal Bagels had previously hoped to put a smoked fish shop. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Though the summer is typically a slow period for business, a dollar (and up) store has opened on First Avenue, in the location that was last occupied by kiddie hair salon Beehives & Buzzcuts. Last week, the store, J’s 99 Cents and Up, featuring houseware items and other tsotchkes, opened.

Stanley Huang, whose family owns the store, said this is the fourth store of this type the family’s opened in Manhattan. At least half of the merchandise will actually cost a dollar a piece, he added, with the store mainly offering kids’ toys and balloons, houseware like kitchen items and hardware. Huang said the shop has a 15-year lease.

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Spike seen in primary residence challenges (UPDATED)

Susan Steinberg, president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, discuss why they’re against the garage.

Susan Steinberg, president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, pictured at a meeting on the planned sanitation garage (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Golub notices, or notices of lease nonrenewal over primary residence challenges, had, for a couple of years, become synonymous with the Tishman Speyer era of Stuyvesant Town.

It was only when tenants won the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” lawsuit, which determined that apartments had been illegally deregulated, that the wave of primary residence challenges finally ceased.

Therefore, Susan Steinberg, president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, was surprised to hear of seven golub notices being sent to residents in the past couple of weeks.

On Monday, the Tenants Association sent an email alert to neighbors to mention that there had been an uptick in challenges and asked tenants to contact the TA if they believed they’ve received one in error.

Tenants were warned they may be challenged for reasons such as having another address or out-of-state car or voter registrations, tax payments or utility bills. Keycards could also be used to track whether tenants are in their homes for the minimum amount of days (183) to have the units be considered their primary residences.

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Letters to the Editor, July 30

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Fiending for our founding fathers (on stage)

Critics, reviewers and just plain folk have been trying to understand the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda, playwright, actor and rapper, etc.

Go with the flow, ‘cause he is here to stay. Li-Manuel Miranda is not a one-night wonder. He’s the real deal. “In the Heights” was a smash on Broadway. “Hamilton” which is at the Richard Rogers theater, is breaking all ticket selling records, 28 million dollars sold before reviews.

I’m from a small group that believes smaller is better and rushed down to the Public Theater to see “Hamilton” when it played there. Entering, Lin-Manuel Miranda gave me a wink and a smile. Who does that anymore? This ole lady will be carrying that story to her grave.

Listening to the lyrics online, “An Evening of Poetry with the White House,” I felt like Miranda was in my living room. My husband said I have become a fanatic. To his surprise, he heard me rapping out different versions praising Mark Thompson and Clara Reiss at a recent Community Board Six annual meeting. Yet to be performed is my version celebrating the life of Samuel J. Tilden. Yeah, I’m hooked!

After you go see the play about America’s youngest founding father, talk to me. If you can stop humming, snapping your fingers and creating your own stories long enough to remember me, the lyrics are contagious. “Hamilton” with its diverse cast is setting the Great White Way on fire! A special thanks to Gerson Borrero, commentator at NY 1 for giving a positive shout out to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his play, “Hamilton.”

Shelley Deal Winfield, EMP

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Shelter to soon be for employable men

The 30th Street shelter at Bellevue’s “Old Psych” building (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The 30th Street shelter at Bellevue’s “Old Psych” building (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Neighbors of the 30th Street men’s shelter, who for years have complained about homeless men aggressively panhandling, using the corner pay phones as toilets and just generally being nuisances, may soon see some relief.

The Department of Homeless Services, which runs the shelter that’s located at Bellevue Hospital, is planning to turn it into a shelter for men who are employed or considered employable and seeking job training.

Ken Ryan, the property manager of 350 East 30th Street, a mixed rental and condo building across the street from the shelter, said he was told this at a recent private meeting he had with DHS Deputy Commissioner of Adult Services Jody Rudin.

“That’s promising,” Ryan told Town & Village. “I am all for a homeless men’s shelter where men have jobs, or are being trained for jobs and live in the shelter. I am not for bums who get a bed and food and do nothing but harass the people in the neighborhood.”

Town & Village reached out to the DHS and press secretary Nicole Cueto confirmed the plan, which the department hopes to implement by the end of the calendar year. The shift in services won’t change the amount of men the shelter currently serves — around 850 — and while the unemployable residents would be sent elsewhere, the intake center and assessment processes would remain in place.

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Police Watch: sex abuser sentenced, East 24th Street ‘burglar’ busted

Last Friday, Jonquel Jones, 27, was sentenced to 16 years in state prison and 25 years of post-release supervision for sexually assaulting a stranger and a young girl in two separate incidents in 2013. On May 28, Jones pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to rape and sexual abuse, both in the first degree.
According to his guilty plea and documents filed in court, at around 11 p.m. on September 5, 2013, Jones approached a tourist on the L train in Manhattan. The 22-year-old woman had become separated from her friend and was asking other passengers for directions to Brooklyn, where she was staying at the friend’s apartment. Jones told the victim that he would help her hail a cab to Brooklyn if they got off the next stop together. Once outside, he led her to an isolated area on East 10th Street near the FDR. There, he threatened her with a knife and raped her. Following the attack, the victim returned to Brooklyn and told her friend, who took her to the hospital A DNA profile from the woman’s rape kit was uploaded to the New York State DNA Databank, where it matched the defendant’s DNA profile from a previous felony conviction.
A month later on October 5, Jones invited a 12-year-old girl who lived in the same East Village building as he and his then-girlfriend to come over to their apartment. He forced her to undress and change into different clothes while he watched. He then forcibly kissed her. The girl reported the incident to her mother, who contacted police.

Police arrested 22-year-old James Ghent for criminal trespass inside 32 Gramercy Park South last Saturday at 1:15 a.m. Ghent allegedly entered the victim’s apartment without permission and remained there unlawfully, although nothing was stolen. Police did not have any information about how Ghent entered the apartment.

Police arrested 28-year-old Sharif McMillan for burglary and possession of stolen property last Monday at 1:30 p.m. inside the 13th Precinct. McMillan allegedly stole a 37-inch flat screen TV, an HP laptop and an iPod from an apartment on East 24th Street at an earlier date. Police said that his fingerprints were recovered from the victim’s apartment, that he doesn’t know the victim and he had no business being inside the apartment.

Fifty-year-old Regulo Rodriguez was arrested for grand larceny inside Duggal Visual Solutions at 29 West 23rd Street last Monday at 5:22 p.m. Rodriguez’s boss told police that he had been stealing printing materials and resources for his own personal use. Rodriguez allegedly printed a total of four pieces at the store, totaling $1,760. Police said that the suspect also asked a witness, who also works for the company in the packing department, to pack those four items into boxes to ship the pieces out and the witness refused. The employee then told the CEO of the company, who called police to the scene.

Police arrested 54-year-old Phillip Mellor for grand larceny and possession of stolen property at the corner of East 14th Street and Union Square East last Tuesday at 12:49 p.m. The victim told police that he had left his bag on the grass inside the park and when he went to retrieve it, he noticed that the bag, which contained his iPad, was missing. The victim said that he saw Mellor on a park bench with the victim’s bag in his possession. When he approached Mellor, he allegedly told the victim, “It’s mine because I found it.”

Police arrested 22-year-old Adriana Mondragon-Cazares and 29-year-old Yutlerlay Vivas for prostitution in front of 138 East 30th Street last Tuesday at 7 p.m. Mondragon-Cazares and Vivas allegedly agreed to have sex with undercover officers in exchange for $200.

Police arrested 43-year-old Christopher Brennan inside the IHOP at 235 East 14th Street for theft of services last Wednesday at 9:43 a.m. A server at the restaurant told police that Brennan went into the restaurant and ordered food and when he handed the waiter a credit card to pay for the meal, the card was declined. Brennan allegedly had no other way to pay for the food and when police searched him, they found that he was allegedly in possession of a stolen credit card, which they said he had attempted to use to pay for the meal.

Police arrested Misael Gonzalez, 41, in front of 10 East 18th Street for possession of burglar’s tools last Tuesday at 2:20 p.m. Gonzalez was allegedly casing a commercial truck at the northeast corner of East 18th Street and Fifth Avenue. Police said he then unlatched the back roll-down gate, looked around the cargo area inside the truck, closed the gate and then attempted to flee east on East 18th Street. He was allegedly in possession of one great neck ratchet, a (regular) ratchet, bolt cutters, a vice grip, a screwdriver and a pair of work gloves.

Police arrested 46-year-old Alexander Ivanenko for robbery in front of 388 Third Avenue last Tuesday at 10:45 p.m. Ivanenko allegedly snatched cash from the victim using physical force and after searching the area, he was identified and the money was recovered.

Police arrested 36-year-old Dennis Finn for computer tampering and trespassing inside 115 Fifth Avenue at 19th Street last Thursday at 12:25 p.m. While working for the company, Finn allegedly used a store computer to make unauthorized returns for cash without the authority to do so. Police said that there were 17 fraudulent transactions on 12 dates for a total of $2,252.31. The address is home to Victoria’s Secret as well as a Madewell clothing shop.

Keith Ruffin, 51, was arrested for forgery inside the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office at 335 East 14th Street last Thursday at 2:06 p.m. Police said that Ruffin entered the post office and allegedly passed a clerk a fraudulent money order.

Twenty-year-old Caleb Beneche was arrested for aggravated harassment at the 13th Precinct last Thursday. The victim is a case planner for Administration of Children’s Services and told police that Beneche is her client. Beneche has allegedly been calling her even after she told him to stop, and police said that he has been calling and texting her personal cell phone. Beneche allegedly said that he would show up at her office and “make them all sorry” and that he would “show them.” The victim told police that Beneche has violent tendencies and she fears for her safety.

Nineteen-year-old Mateo Palacio was arrested for criminal mischief inside Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse at 255 Fifth Avenue last Thursday at 6:27 p.m. Police said that Palacio intentionally damaged property at the location by throwing plates to the ground and allegedly damaged one of the victim’s cars by using his necklace to scratch the driver’s side door.

Police arrested 27-year-old Angelo Miller for menacing in front of the Basics Plus store at 194 Third Avenue last Friday. Police said that Miller got into a fight with someone over money at around 5:20 p.m. The victim told police that Miller claimed the victim owed him $10 and then allegedly said, “If you don’t get up and start asking for money I’m going to kick you or cut you in the throat.” Police said he also threw a closed hypodermic needle at the victim, though it didn’t cause any injury.

Police arrested 58-year-old Charles Staton for an unclassified misdemeanor in front of 155 East 23rd Street last Tuesday at 5:40 p.m. Police said that Staton was trying to sell three toys without a valid Department of Consumer Affairs license.

Tech classes offered at Flatiron Plaza

A tech class was held on Tuesday evening as part of an annual outdoor program. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A tech class was held on Tuesday evening as part of an annual outdoor program. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Summer programming is in full swing in the neighborhood parks and plazas, and while for some that means watching a movie outdoors or taking a free fitness class, for residents and workers in the Flatiron District it also means learning different tech skills.

General Assembly, the educational institution that has offices in the Flatiron District and which offers classes on coding, digital marketing and other topics, has been working with the Flatiron Partnership for the last four summers to bring some of their individual classes to the public. Flatiron BID/Partnership executive director Jennifer Brown said that all of the courses made available are all courses that General Assembly offers, but the BID works with GA to figure out what will be best for public programming.

“We talk with them about what would make sense for the broader community and what would make most sense for the broadest audience,” she said. “Digital marketing is something people in different industries can use, and the class on freelancers and startups can appeal to lots of different individuals and freelancers.”

The choices seem to work, as the classes have generally been well attended.

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New Yorkers need to learn to share streets

Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood each week (space providing). All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 800 words, to

Cyclists use the bike lane near Stuy Town  correctly, which author Susan Turchin would like to see happen more often. (Photo by Susan Turchin)

Cyclists use the bike lane near Stuy Town correctly, which author Susan Turchin would like to see happen more often. (Photo by Susan Turchin)

By Susan Turchin

We have an unspoken and somewhat unconscious agreement with each other. As pedestrians, when we step off the curb to cross the street and we have the green light, we expect and trust that traffic will stop and we will safely cross to the other side. But now, with increased bike traffic, this unspoken agreement is null and void. When our fabulous new bike lanes came into being all bets were off.

We need a crash course in how to share our streets. I have just returned from Europe, Vienna and Budapest. Two cities where bikes, pedestrians and cars share the roads with ease and respect. Bikes obey the traffic lights and actually stop when the light is red. Pedestrians do the same.  No jay-walking. No bikes going down one way street in the opposite direction. Everyone obeys the rules and everyone safely shares the streets.

Case in point. Tonight I rode my bike home from work. A pleasant evening. The right temperature and Ninth Avenue has a nice down slope so the ride was easy. But…

There were pedestrians walking in the bike path all over Ninth Avenue for no apparent reason, since the sidewalks were clear. And there were countless food delivery guys on their motorized bikes riding up Ninth Avenue in the wrong direction on the one-way street. Pedestrians were crossing the streets in the crosswalks against the red light and also jay-walking in the middle of the block crossing into the bike lane without looking or right to be there. Ringing my trusty bicycle bell did not deter them.

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Concerts still running at the Cove

Vocalist Jamie Rae at John Colianni’s first concert this season in June Photos by Jo-Ann Polise/Stuyvesant Cove Park Association)

Vocalist Jamie Rae at John Colianni’s first concert this season in June (Photo by Jo-Ann Polise)

In what has become an annual tradition at Stuyvesant Cove Park, a series of free concerts that kicked off at the end of June is still in full swing.

The concerts include a variety of music styles including swing, jazz, blues and bluegrass as well as an upcoming evening of traditional Irish music and dance.

Performers include John Colianni, the Rutkowski Family Trio, Sean Mahony and David Hershey-Webb. New to the roster are Jason Green and The Labor of Love, New Harvest and Niall O’Leary and friends.

On Mon., July 27 at 6:30-8 p.m., Niall O’Leary & Friends will bring accordion, bodhran and spoons for an evening of traditional Irish music and dance. Rain date is July 28.

On Saturday, August 1 from 7-8 p.m., folk dancing with Christine Meyerson, no experience necessary. Rain date is Aug. 2.

The series is organized by the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association. For more information, visit the Association’s website.

Residence for LGBT youths opening on East 13th Street

Residents of other Ali Forney facilities and staff members as well as local elected officials and members of the Cooper Square Committee gather at the Bea Arthur Residence. Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Residents of other Ali Forney facilities and staff members as well as local elected officials and members of the Cooper Square Committee gather at the Bea Arthur Residence. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Monday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the location of what will be a new 18-bed residence for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth at 222 East 13th Street. The residence will be named for the late television and Broadway star, Bea Arthur, who was especially sympathetic to the plight of LGBT young people.

When she died in 2009, Arthur named the Ali Forney Center, an organization that helps LGBT youths, as a major beneficiary in her will, leaving $300,000 to the center. Executive director Carl Siciliano wrote in a column posted on Huffington Post on Tuesday that the center, then struggling due to the recession and a lack of donations, and the money helped them make payroll for months. Siciliano had pledged that if the Ali Forney Center ever owned property, he would name a building after her, and he will soon be able to fulfill that promise, thanks to the $3.3 million city-funded project.

The building on East 13th Street between Second and Third Avenues is a former single-room occupancy and notorious crack house that had been vacant for almost 20 years. Following a recommendation from Community Board 3 in 2011, the city-owned building was transferred to the Ali Forney Center in partnership with the Cooper Square Committee. The City Council awarded the two organizations $3 million for the project and then-Borough President Scott Stringer funded an additional $300,000 in 2012.

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Hospitals weigh in on sanitation garage

By Sabina Mollot

While neighborhood residents have been quite vocal in their opposition to the city’s plan to build a sanitation garage on East 25th Street, the area’s other neighbors, the nearby hospitals, have noticeably stayed out of the debate. Residents, who have argued that the 180-truck garage could delay ambulances due to the increased traffic, have, since the plan’s becoming public, speculated that the hospitals’ silence on the issue is due to “political reasons.”

“One could question whether city employees have been asked not to comment,” said Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association. Handal has been one of the most vocal opponents of the plan, last week announcing the formation of a coalition of tenant and cooperator groups who are opposed to a sanitation depot on First Avenue.

This week, Town & Village reached out to nearby hospitals, to ask if they had any concerns about the garage and also to note that their silence hasn’t gone unnoticed by the community. Those hospitals include Mount Sinai Beth Israel, VA Medical Center’s Manhattan campus, Bellevue and NYU Langone.

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Police on lookout for men on bikes swiping iPhones

Robbery suspects

Robbery suspects

Police are looking for two men on bikes who swiped two women’s iPhones in Gramercy and Murray Hill.

Both incidents took place in June, but police released the information, along with surveillance photos of the robbery suspects, on Thursday.

On Tuesday, June 16 at 9:15 p.m., a 28-year-old woman was walking in front of 459 Park Avenue between 31st and 32nd Streets, when the men rode up on their bicycles and snatched her iPhone 6 as she was using it. The suspects then pedaled away.

On Monday, June 22, at 5:05 a.m., a 24-year-old female was walking in the vicinity of Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street when the suspects rode over to her and stole the iPhone 6 from out of her hand. The men then fled the scene.

There were no reported injuries in either incident.

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


Even playgrounds with sprinklers nearly empty during scorcher

A few Stuy Town residents like Ryan, with son Tommy, braved the heat, heading out to the playground sprinklers to cool down. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A few Stuy Town residents like Ryan, with son Tommy, braved the heat, heading out to the playground sprinklers to cool down. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Can it be too hot to play in the sprinklers during a heat wave?

Town & Village found that it might be, in a recent visit to the water parks in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in the midst of the oppressive heat on Monday.

Stuy Town residents Dennis Mulligan and Anne Marie, who were out sitting in the shade by the Oval on Monday afternoon, said they noticed a mysterious absence in the playgrounds that day.

“No one’s outside,” Mulligan said. “It’s too hot. Even the kids aren’t out.”

The National Weather Service recorded the highest temperature in Central Park as 94 degrees Fahrenheit around noon on Monday, but officials warned that the combination of the high heat and humidity made it feel like it was over 100, creating dangerous conditions, especially for seniors.

Most of the non-sprinklered playgrounds in Stuy Town were desolate when this reporter went by, and Oval staff members who were stationed at the basketball courts in Playground 11 said that even the parks with sprinklers that were usually packed with kids were almost empty that afternoon.

“The moms and nannies probably don’t want to take the kids out because then they just have to sit at the sprinklers, melting themselves,” one of the staff members theorized.

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Neighbors stand firm on hatred of sanitation garage

Garodnick, Mendez echo residents’ concerns at meeting

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of buildings located near the planned sanitation garage on East 25th Street took turns ripping into city officials last Wednesday at a raucous meeting that was aimed at getting public feedback.

Over 150 people attended the scoping session, which was at the garage site, the current CUNY Brookdale campus. Many of them were leaders of local tenants associations and co-op boards who’ve joined the recently formed Brookdale Neighborhood Coalition, which opposes the garage. The garage plan has been deeply unpopular since it was announced in 2013, and, just like at previous meetings, tenants voiced their concerns about potential impacts on air quality from truck fumes, odors, vermin and added traffic congestion that could delay ambulances at local hospitals. Many also argued that a garage for 180 sanitation trucks just seemed out of place on First Avenue’s science/medical corridor.

This time, however, a few elected officials also showed up to the meeting, and two City Council members, Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, called on the city to be more responsive to residents’ concerns.

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Letters to the editor, July 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why New York needs its own state bank

Regarding Carolyn Maloney Congress Member and Council Member Dan Garodnick’s letter on “Why NY needs the Export-Import Bank,” T&V, June 25), I would like to mention the importance of having our own Community or State Bank in New York.  This is what Mr. Les Leopold, executive director of the Labor Institute in New York, an author of “How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Hedge Funds Get Away with Siphoning Off America’s Wealth” (2013), has mentioned.

He has also written other articles like “How Billionaires Use the Government as a Tool to Destroy Companies They Have Bet Against” (April 17, 2014), “Our Most Powerful Weapon Against Wall Street? The Rise of Reverse Eminent Domain” (Dec. 15, 2013), “Is Cutthroat Capitalism Pushing a Growing Number of Baby Boomers to Suicide?” (May 10, 2013), and many other articles during the last eight years.

It is my understanding that, as of June 2015, the only state of the USA that have had its own state bank is North Dakota, since 1919.  The CEO of that bank earns $250,000 a year – probably what a Wall Street bank CEO earns in one hour; hence, the student and mortgage loans there are cheap, and its main capital is probably the taxes residents pay to their own cities and state. What is more, when a business borrows money from their state bank, they are committed to create certain number of jobs with specific salaries.

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