Some of the attendees at Monday’s workshop go over literature on the rent freeze program. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Despite increased eligibility for the rent freeze program for seniors and the disabled, many tenants in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village who could qualify for the break are not signing up for it.
“Only 25 percent of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents who are eligible are enrolled,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “It’s owed to these residents that we help them register.”
In order to spread the word about the program, which seniors and disabled people with up to $50,000 in household income could qualify for if one third of their incomes go to rent, Hoylman and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh held a workshop on Monday in Stuyvesant Town.
The workshop on Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) took place at the complex’s Community Center.
Dog walkers bring their charges out for a stroll in Stuyvesant Town, in this photo taken in August of 2014. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Following a steady stream of complaints from residents with regards to dogs — from the lack of rule enforcement to the lack of a dog run — The Blackstone Group said it will be responding to at least one of those issues. Specifically, that of nonresident dogs as well as breeds banned from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village regularly being walked onsite.
To do this, management will be issuing a new kind of ID tag that hangs from a strap on a hook from the leash handle in order to make the pooch immediately identifiable as one that’s been registered. The color will be the same shade of blue as the one used in the Stuy Town logo.
While residents’ dogs have already been given tags when registered with management, Public Safety officers have to get up close to the pets in order to see them.
Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of B’Nai B’rith)
By Sabina Mollot
Earlier this month, members of the City Council voted to give themselves $36,000 raises, and last Friday, it became official when Mayor de Blasio authorized the massive boosts in pay. He was also a beneficiary, though he won’t accept the raise for the remainder of his term. Most Council members defended the move, pointing out that that the money was contingent upon enacting a package of ethics reforms, like restricting certain kinds of outside income. It also put an end to the stipends, also known as lulus, that get doled out by the Council speaker to various members for chairing committees, a practice that has been linked to crony-ism.
Council Member Dan Garodnick, who authored the bill restricting outside income and changing the status of the Council to be considered full-time employment, along with fellow East Side Council Member Ben Kallos, was among those defending the raises.
However, he pointed out the next time the Council’s up for a raise, members will only be allowed vote to authorize raises for upcoming and not current terms. This will be ensured by having the Quadrennial Commission, which recommends the raises, be appointed later in the legislative session. (This could of course mean the same elected officials will get the raise they voted on if reelected.) The raises authorized last week, which boost legislators’ pay from $112,500 to $148,500, are retroactive to January 1.
On the raises and reforms, Garodnick said he’s long been against lulus (which can be as high as $25,000), and for the past 10 years he’s been in the Council, he hasn’t taken any. He currently chairs the Economic Development Committee and has previously chaired the Committee on Technology, the Consumer Affairs Committee and the Planning Committee. Had he accepted lulus, he said, they would have been for $10,000 each year up until the last two years when they would have been $15,000.
“I asked that the stipends be done away with altogether,” said Garodnick. “I felt very strongly that they should be eliminated.”
However, the main inspiration for the reforms was Albany, where last year’s sordid corruption scandals against both legislative chamber leaders led to long-called for ethics reforms actually seeing the light of day.
For the city’s elected officials, there will be more transparency regarding personal income, with disclosure reports being put online.
“Today it is too difficult more members of the public to see financial disclosure,” Garodnick said.
Still, not everyone within the legislative body supported the latest round of pay hikes.
A Post article noted that three Republican members who were opposed to the raises found them to be “an obvious conflict of interest.” They recommended an independent body rather than the Council be given the task of issuing raises.
The Council hasn’t gotten a raise since 2006. As for the reason for the 10-year delay, normally the Quadrennial Commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, convenes every four years to recommend raises, which the Council votes on. However, Mayor Bloomberg never called a Quadrennial Commission after 2006, so it hadn’t met since then. Garodnick noted that the Commission will meet again in 2020, which is when the new regulation about prospective raises will come into play. Garodnick is a co-sponsor of that legislation, which was authored by James Van Bramer.
The no lulu policy was a rule change, and required a vote in the Council, but didn’t require legislation.
In other news, Garodnick, who’s running for higher office, seems to be enjoying the fact that half a dozen people have already expressed interest in his District 4 Council seat, with one already on the ballot.
“I wish them well,” said Garodnick. “I’m happy to be a resource to whoever lines up for the seat. This is an important district and deserves top notch representation.”
Windows were replaced on the top floor of 2 Peter Cooper Road late last year as part of a project that includes roof decks for those apartments. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Late last year, a few top floor apartment windows at 2 Peter Cooper Road were replaced with a kind of window not previously seen on the property. CWCapital declined to comment on the project at the time, although new Blackstone owner told T&V new windows would not be coming to the rest of the complex.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, at the same building, an eagle-eyed neighbor spotted workers on the roof, installing what appeared to be a roof deck.
When asked about the project, Paula Chirthart, a spokesperson for Blackstone, confirmed the alteration to the building to offer roof access was started by CW, but, like the new windows, would not be repeated at other buildings.
Visana, a speakeasy style lounge that’s also a pizzeria (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Visana, the new speakeasy style cocktail lounge on First Avenue that’s also a pizzeria in front, will be seeking the blessing of Community Board 6 for a renewal of its liquor license on Thursday.
However, as Town & Village has previously reported, the new venue, across from Stuyvesant Town, has managed to draw the ire of neighbors due to nighttime noise.
In November, cops at the 13th Precinct told neighborhood residents who’d complained about noise they’d be following up with the owner David Jaffee on that issue.
“The educating part has come and gone so we’ll deal with it accordingly,” said Detective Ray Dorrian at the time.
He’d also since then been slapped with charges by the State Liquor Authority over the noise complaints.
Another potential obstacle for the business is that too many licenses have been issued in the area already. The SLA generally only allows three full liquor licenses within 500 foot radius of one another, but according to a spokesperson for the agency, there were already three when Visana applied, but didn’t disclose this.
The Boy Scouts of America is the greatest leadership training for our youth, and that is why the organization must allow girls to fully participate now! Fortunately, we have a Scout leader with a proven record and the courage to end discrimination. We applaud the efforts by Eagle Scout, Boy Scout President, former Secretary of Defense, Dr. Robert Gates, for his success in providing opportunities for women and in ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policies for LGBT members of our United States armed forces. Dr. Gates’ legacy was further secured by his support to end the discriminatory ban against gay Scouts and adult leaders in the Boy Scouts.
Dr. Gates, there is still much more work that must be done to support our girls and young women in Scouting. In nearly all countries the programs are co-ed. Unfortunately, in the U.S., girls and young women are permitted into the Boy Scouts only in limited programs, and young women are completely forbidden to join Scout Troops. With membership in decline and girls and young women clamoring to join, we need to ensure that the Scouting in America serves all of our youth to grow into responsible leaders. As Scouts, we need to be the change that we want to see in the world.
As a female, it is unjust that I am barred from joining the Scout Troops in the US. The Boy Scouts is largely ignoring and discriminating against 50 percent of our youth in denying girls the opportunity to join and earn the Eagle rank, Scouting’s highest honor. Scouts, particularly Eagle Scouts, are highly sought after by colleges (58 percent of West Point Cadets were Boy Scouts and 16.3 percent are Eagles) and the most competitive employers. Without access to the training and Eagle rank, options for young women are limited.
We have co-authored and passed resolutions before the New York City Presbytery, the National Organization for Women and have support for inclusion from Scouts around the world, from Canada to South Africa.
I, Sydney, have joined the Canadian Scouts, Troop 80, out of London, Ontario, and have earned the highest award in my age group, the Chief Scout’s Award. I am so grateful to the Canadian Scouts and particularly my Scout Leader, Steve Lindsay, for working with me. We also appreciate the camaraderie of Troop 414 in Manhattan.
We now ask for your help to open up Scouting. Please go here and sign our petition asking the Scout leaders to end the discriminatory ban against young women and also post the petition on social media.
We are approaching nearly 5,000 supporters! We both hope young women (like me, Sydney) will be accepted as full members of the Scouts and eligible to earn the Eagle rank (like me, Bryan).
Ilir Kuka was arrested after allegedly driving off in the cab he’d been riding in, going the wrong direction and hitting a minivan. (Pictured) Emergency responders at the scene (Photo by Steve Kaufman)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police arrested 25-year-old Ilir Kuka for crashing a taxi into a minivan in front of Stuyvesant Town, injuring the mini-van’s driver. Kuka was not a cabbie, but allegedly drove off in the cab he’d been riding in after getting into an argument with the driver, only to go in the wrong direction, causing the accident.
The driver said he’d picked Kuka up in his taxi last Tuesday on Third Avenue between East 10th and 11th Streets around 10:30 p.m. Not long after the driver picked him up, they began to argue, and both men got out of the car. When the driver got out, he left the keys in the ignition and Kuka then allegedly got into the cab and drove away.
The driver said that Kuka drove north on Third Avenue towards East 14th Street, allegedly hitting a woman’s car on the passenger’s side just south of East 14th, causing a large dent. The woman said that he continued driving and she saw him turn right from Third Avenue onto East 15th Street, traveling in the wrong direction on the road.
STUY TOWN PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER HELPS NAB SHOPLIFTER WHO FLED IN CAB
Police arrested 25-year-old Jonathan Immitti for petit larceny and possession of stolen property last Tuesday at 5:59 p.m. An employee of the CVS at 275 Third Avenue said that she saw Immitti taking 35 packages of over-the-counter medication from the shelf and placing them in his pants so she immediately informed the store manager.
The manager tried to stop Immitti from leaving but the suspect allegedly fled the store without paying and hailed a cab. The store manager saw the cab’s medallion number, which was put out on the radio and Stuyvesant Town’s Public Safety department heard the transmission. Not long after, a Public Safety officer saw the cab at East 16th and Avenue C, where he stopped the cab but Immitti allegedly fled on foot. The officer canvassed the area and Immitti was arrested shortly after.
The District Attorney’s office said that Immitti pleaded guilty at the arraignment to petit larceny and was sentenced to 15 days jail.
TWO ARRESTED IN ASSAULT OF OFF-DUTY OFFICER
Police arrested two people in front of the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel at 420 Park Avenue South last Sunday at 7 a.m. Reginald Legaspi, 21, and Pena Kumsiri, 27, allegedly punched an off-duty police officer in the face, causing serious pain and facial bruising. Police said that during the assault, Legaspi and Kumsiri took the officer’s gun from its holster. Kumsiri also allegedly punched another unknown person in the face. Legaspi and Kumsiri were both charged with gang assault and Kumsiri was charged with an additional count of assault. The officer’s gun was later recovered.
WOMAN ARRESTED FOR ‘STEALING’ $20,000 WORTH OF HANDBAGS
Nineteen-year-old Michelle Mendoza was arrested for grand larceny and possession of stolen property inside the 13th Precinct on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. Police said that Mendoza stole the victim’s designer handbags valued at over $20,000. It wasn’t clear where they’d been allegedly taken from.
MAN BUSTED FOR PHONE ‘THEFT’ AT FLATIRON CLUB
Police arrested 25-year-old Anthony Williams for petit larceny and possession of stolen property inside the 40/40 club at 6 West 25th Street last Sunday at 2:13 a.m. Williams was seen on video allegedly taking a cell phone from the counter in the unisex bathroom while the victim had her back turned. Police said that Williams never attempted to give the phone to any authority figure. After the victim reported that her phone had been taken, the general manager of the club watched the surveillance video and approached Williams, demanding that the phone be returned. Williams allegedly said that there wasn’t anything that he needed to give back and the manager responded that he would be calling the police. At that point, Williams allegedly went to the table where he was sitting and retrieved the phone from another woman.
I confess that some years ago when I was a callow fellow, I went to a professional wrestling show in upstate Glens Falls, New York. It was great fun.
Here was an array of steroid-built muscleman acting out morality plays in the ring dressed in togs and flying across the canvass pulverizing one and other. Inevitably there were the good guys against bad guys.
As interesting as it was watching these wrestlers do their thing to the inevitable scripted conclusion, I was just as fascinated by the rapt attention of the frenzied fans, thousands, who filled the seats of these arenas. They were true believers. It occurred to me that most really bought into this imagery and reveled in the brutality. They bellowed at the bad guys and nearly fainted in exhaustion cheering on their favorites. This was their opportunity to vent in a big way and cheer on the wrestlers who would bring down the hated enemy. What was interesting and more than a bit scary is that most of the fans thought that this was reality. At the height of the loathing toward Iran following the hostage takings, Hulk Hogan, that all American example of virtue, won the championship from the hated Iron Sheik. Oh what a night! Oh what celebration! We felt good to be Americans again!
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker hosted a webinar last Monday afternoon offering information for New Yorkers about the Zika virus, which was also declared a global emergency by the W.H.O. earlier this month.
Zucker said that the virus is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes and labs have confirmed Zika cases in travelers returning from areas in Central America, South America, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
While the disease is usually mild and those who get sick generally display symptoms such as a fever, rash and joint pain for about a week, the virus has been linked to a condition called microcephaly in babies born to mothers in Latin and Central America who are infected.
“Because there is neither a vaccine to prevent or treat Zika, the CDC recommends that pregnant women reconsider travel to these areas,” Zucker said.
Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of B’Nai B’rith)
By Christian Brazil-Bautista
While the rezoning of East Midtown has been tied to transit improvements with promises of reworked subway stations, its overall effect may amount to a drop in a bucket.
“As to whether or not it would be enough to support the mass transit needs, definitely not. The transit needs in New York City and East Midtown are enormous,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, who serves as the co-chair of a steering committee tasked with creating a framework to revive the aging commercial district.
Garodnick, who made the statements during a B’nai B’rith Luncheon earlier this month, described the benefits of the East Midtown rezoning plan, which allows developers to build taller buildings in exchange for funding transportation improvements, as “on the margins” of the solution to the area’s transit requirements.
This mailing was sent last month to homes in three neighborhoods known for having large NYU student populations.
By Sabina Mollot
Two months ago, a midtown sperm bank raised some eyebrows in Stuyvesant Town when it sent out mailings to every apartment in the hope of recruiting NYU graduate and undergraduate donors.
“Go on spring break,” read postcards delivered to every apartment. “Pay for it by donating sperm.”
But despite all the controversy and some initial interest, the company, Manhattan Cryobank, isn’t exactly swimming in donations as a result.
Ty Kaliski, Cryobank CEO, said it had gotten applications from a “couple of handfuls” of young men in the community, but then not much in the way of followup. This will sometimes happen if a donor gets cold feet or just chooses not to follow through for other reasons.
“They sound great on paper, we contact them, but then we never hear from them,” said Kaliski. “We also contact them via phone.” As for the Stuy Town applicants, “Some of those guys were phenomenal. You can never tell if they’re geniuses, but there are extra-curricular activities. I wish we could get them through the door.”
The MTA announced last week that nighttime service on 4/5/6 lines will be limited at some local stations through the end of next week, due to the Fastrack maintenance work program.
Since this Tuesday, trains have not been running between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue-Barclay’s Center at night, which will continue through early Friday morning and start up again for four weeknights from Monday, February 22 to Friday, February 26. Service on the 5 train will be ending early each night and 6 train service will only operate between Grand Central and the Bronx. The MTA recommends that straphangers use the R before 11:30 p.m. and the N after 11:30 p.m. as an alternative for stations south of Grand Central, including Union Square and the 23rd Street/Park Avenue South.
Diane Grayson said she’s primarily concerned about the lack of affordable housing. (Photo by Dana Wan)
Potential candidate would run as Independent
By Sabina Mollot
The race to succeed Dan Garodnick on the City Council may soon have another candidate in Peter Cooper resident Diane Grayson, a 26-year old associate editor and former assistant teacher.
Grayson, who’s a third-generation resident of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village community, added that she may run as an Independent.
Currently, there’s only one candidate officially on the ballot so far, Democrat Joshua Thompson, a Stuyvesant Town resident who’s held government jobs in Newark, New Jersey and Bridgeport, Connecticut. However, as Town & Village recently reported, the Council seat for the city’s fourth district is also being eyed by a few others, also Democrats. There’s East Midtown resident Jeff Mailman, currently legislative director to Council Member Liz Crowley; Peter Cooper resident Keith Powers, who’s the president of a government and nonprofit consulting and lobbying firm and has previously worked for elected officials; Central Park area resident Renee Cafaro, a political consultant and fundraiser; and Andrew Kalloch, a Lenox Hill resident and deputy policy director to Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney with 13th Precinct Community Council President Frank Scala, police officer John Considine, Executive Officer Christopher Zaffiro and police officer Vinnie Arlotta (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
While crime has been down overall in the 13th Precinct this past month, the area has been having problems with residential burglaries and grand larcenies.
Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney shared the stats at a 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, including the fact there has been a 100 percent increase in burglaries. Most of these were residential.
East 25th Street has been a particularly popular area for these criminals, with eight of these incidents taking place on that street between Second and Third Avenue. Timoney noted that there haven’t been any arrests in these incidents and although the NYPD has video for two of the burglaries, they have no other leads for the others and so far have made no arrests.
“It’s all about locking the doors and windows,” he said. “There’s lots of construction work being done in that area and workers and supers are leaving the doors wide open and people who don’t belong there are getting into the building.”