Lawsuit to close election loophole

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (pictured at a rally in May) is one of the plaintiffs. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (pictured at a rally in May) is one of the plaintiffs. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, three Democratic state legislators filed a lawsuit against the Board of Elections aimed at closing the “LLC Loophole.”

The so-called loophole, created by the board in 1996, came under scrutiny this year due to all the campaign cash that had been legally funneled to legislators through limited liability companies. Many of the LLCs were controlled by real estate interests, most infamously Leonard Litwin of Glenwood Management. The loophole has allowed them to give nearly limitless contributions — up to $60,800 in a single election year by allowing them to be considered individuals.

“It’s not just (Litwin),” said Brent Ferguson, an attorney with New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which helped prepare the lawsuit. “In the real estate industry, they can operate a separate LLC for every building they own.”

He added, “We think it’s an incorrect reading of the law.”

The Brennan Center got involved with a suit on the loophole, said Ferguson, because it’s “become very popular” in recent years. “The amount has skyrocketed.”

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Stuy Town woman gets partial rent abatement for construction noise

The new Stuyvesant Town management office, now complete, was a source of torment to one woman at 276 First Avenue, who lived directly above the months-long construction. (Pictured) Workers on the roof in April as seen from 272 First Avenue

The new Stuyvesant Town management office, now complete, was a source of torment to one woman at 276 First Avenue, who lived directly above the months-long construction. (Pictured) Workers on the roof in April as seen from 272 First Avenue

By Sabina Mollot

When construction was underway on Stuyvesant Town’s new management office, for residents in the building housing it and the others closest to it, this of course meant months of constant noise and a lack of access to the walkway and playground between the buildings. Afterwards, CWCapital provided the impacted residents with $200 gift cards to local establishments as a way of thanking them for their patience.

But for one resident, the daily jackhammering and other noise that would start as early as 7:30 a.m. as well as the debris that would fly into her windows was so unbearable that she started withholding rent.

Naturally, she ended up getting taken to court, where a judge decided that she was in fact entitled to a partial abatement.

The resident, Caryn Chow, lives on the second floor of 276 First Avenue, which was so close to the construction that when it was ongoing, she said she could feel the walls vibrate. Considering that she’s a happiness coach and communication strategist who works from home, this meant making calls or doing other work-related tasks for long was impossible. Her daily routine of meditation was also of course disrupted.

“They’d start as early as 7:30 and the building is shaking,” said Chow, in a recent interview with Town & Village. “They said, ‘We’re in compliance,’ and they did prove that,” she added, of when she called management to complain. But, meanwhile, for her, the noise had become her new alarm clock, and an effective one at that. “They ousted me out of my apartment. I’m used to hearing sirens, but this was making everything shake and it was like being up against your ear.”

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Police Watch: Stuy Town ‘thief’ busted, teen arrested for threatening dad

Nineteen-year-old Andrew Kane was arrested for burglar’s tools and criminal trespass last Monday at 3:52 a.m. inside 323 Avenue C. Stuyvesant Town’s Public Safety Department told police that Kane was inside a vestibule at the building without permission because he isn’t a resident and he was allegedly standing near two knives that were on the floor. However, according to information from the district attorney’s office, Kane was actually seen in a garage and allegedly admitted, “I know I wasn’t supposed to be in there.” The complaint from the D.A. states that the knives at the scene had blades at least four inches long.

Police arrested 34-year-old Kenneth Samuels for petit larceny inside 447 East 14th Street last Tuesday at 1:19 p.m. Police said that Samuels was working with two people who weren’t arrested and stole property from an apartment. Samuels allegedly admitted that he had knowledge of the other two suspects who allegedly swiped property from the apartment. According to a complaint from the D.A.’s office, the alleged incident took place July of 2014 at a building on East 6th Street where the victim lived. The victim is a woman who’d invited two men she’d met at a bar to go home with her. At some point she fell asleep and when she woke up, saw that her iPhone, iPad and credit card were missing. Because any photos taken on her phone are uploaded to the woman’s laptop, she later saw a photo of someone who the D.A.identified as Samuels, who had visited her apartment the night prior, pop up on the screen.

A sixteen-year-old was arrested for menacing inside 120 Lexington Avenue last Monday at 7:50 p.m. The victim told police that he asked his son to clean up ketchup that had spilled on the floor after an argument. He went into his son’s room to make him clean up the mess when the teen allegedly pulled a small knife out on him and the victim then called the police. The teen’s name is being withheld by T&V due to his tender age.

Twenty-year-old Kyle Matthews and 21-year-old Raliek Young were arrested for robbery last Saturday at 6:26 p.m. near 130 West 25th Street. Police said that Matthews and Young intimidated a victim so that he would give them cash and placed the victim in fear for his safety. Young allegedly fled but was caught at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street. The men were also charged with fraudulent accosting, resisting arrest and possession of stolen property.

Police arrested two known pickpockets for grand larceny and possession of stolen property in front of 913 Broadway last Tuesday at 11:07 p.m. Police said that Paul Neal, 31, removed the victim’s wallet from his bag while Daniel Velez, 26, acted as a lookout. Police said that the victim’s property was found on Neal.

Police arrested 31-year-old Jorge Escobar-Adorno for theft of services and possession of stolen property at the corner of Park Avenue South and East 22nd Street last Tuesday at 12:20 p.m. Escobar-Adorno was walking east from West 21st Street and Sixth Avenue and allegedly entered the uptown 6 train station by crawling under the turnstile without paying the fare. When police searched him, he was allegedly in possession of eight bags of frozen shrimp from Trader Joe’s that police said was stolen.

Police arrested 26-year-old Luis Corniel for assault at the corner of Third Avenue and East 27th Street last Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. Police said that Corniel punched the victim in the face, causing pain and a small cut. There was no information available about how the dispute started or if Corniel knew the victim.

Police arrested 64-year-old Marion Smith in front of 180 East 23rd Street last Wednesday at 8:35 a.m. for sale of a controlled substance. Smith allegedly sold a quantity of a controlled substance to an undercover police officer.

Police arrested two people involved in a fight at Bellevue Hospital inside 462 First Avenue last Friday at 3 a.m. Abdiwahid Abrahim, 37, and Christina Grant-Crosby, 28, were both charged with assault. Abrahim allegedly broke Grant-Crosby’s finger and police said that Grant Crosby hit Abrahim with an umbrella. Police did not have any information about how the fight started or how Abrahim and Grant-Crosby knew each other.

Police arrested 41-year-old Gurey Rodriguez for criminal trespass inside the Chase Bank at 69 Fifth Avenue last Friday at 5:40 a.m. Police said that Rodriguez was inside the bank sitting on the radiator. He was allegedly not conducting banking business and signs there clearly state no loitering.

Thirty-year-old William Uihlein was arrested for assault last Sunday at 8:08 p.m. at the corner of Third Avenue and East 19th Street. The victim told police that he was walking south on Third Avenue when he heard someone yelling. He turned his head and Uihlein allegedly grabbed him and punched him in the face. The victim had redness and swelling on the right side of his face.

Police arrested 47-year-old Macaro Gaunchaux and 35-year-old Theresa Haynes for grand larceny, possession of stolen property and jostling at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 28th Street last Wednesday at 3:11 a.m. Gaunchaux and Haynes were allegedly jostling the victim’s pockets at the corner. Police said that they snatched the victim’s credit card and then used it to make purchases. They were also in possession of cash and other items belonging to the victim, police said.
Gaunchaux was also later charged in an additional grand larceny incident at the 13th Precinct. Police said that she stole property from someone’s hotel room at the Marriott Hotel at 1535 Broadway at an earlier date.

Sixty-year-old Jose Huerta was arrested for grand larceny at the corner of East 14th Street and Union Square East last Wednesday at 10:50 p.m. Police said that on multiple occasions and at multiple subway stations, Huerta used stolen credit cards at MetroCard vending machines.

Police arrested 39-year-old Robert Monfiston for burglar’s tools, petit larceny and possession of stolen property in front of 133 Fifth Avenue last Friday at 12:55 p.m. Monfiston allegedly removed boltcutters from his backpack, clipped a lock that was attached to a bicycle and removed the bike without permission. After he was searched, police said that he was in possession of multiple burglars’ tools.

Police arrested 53-year-old Nicholas Rhodes for assault at the corner of Union Square West and East 16th Street last Sunday at 1:15 a.m. Rhodes allegedly punched the victim in the face, causing swelling to his right eye.

Cooling centers open during Monday’s dangerously hot weather

Joey and Sammy Haskell load up their water guns at Stuy Town's Playground 9 on a recent afternoon. Photo by Sabina Mollot

Joey and Sammy Haskell load up their water guns at Stuy Town’s Playground 9 on a recent afternoon. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

With Sunday’s hot and humid weather expected to continue on Monday, the city has announced cooling centers will be open.

Additionally, due to the dangerously hot weather, Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging New Yorkers to take steps to protect themselves and help others who may be at increased risk from the heat, including vulnerable individuals such as seniors and those with chronic health problems.

Forecasted temperatures for Monday are in the 90s with heat index values reaching as high as the low 100s. Additionally, an Air Quality Alert is in effect today through 11 p.m. New Yorkers should use air conditioning to stay cool, go to a place that has air conditioning if it is not available at home, drink water at regular intervals and limit strenuous activity, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

Local cooling centers include the following locations. Hours may change during heat emergencies.

Epiphany branch of the New York Public Library, 228 East 23rd Street (between Second and Third Avenue). Call (212) 679-2645 to confirm hours.

Stein Senior Center, 204 East 23rd Street (between Second and Third Avenue) through 6 p.m. UPDATE: The center announced it will be closing at 4:30 p.m.

Campos Plaza, 611 East 13th Street (between Avenues B and C). Call (212) 677-1801 to confirm hours of operation.

Sirovich Senior Center, 331 East 12th Street (between First and Second Avenues). Call (212) 228-7836 to confirm hours of operation.

Tompkins Square branch of the New York Public Library, 331 East 10th Street (between Avenues A and B). Call (212) 228-4747 to confirm hours of operation.

Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents can also head to the Community Center at 449 East 14th Street (First Avenue Loop at 16th Street). Another option for cooling down is heading to one of the playgrounds with water features.

Waterside residents can head to the Community Center at 40 Waterside Plaza through 6 p.m.