RGB gets new chair, owner rep

Mar31 Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio

By Sabina Mollot

Mayor de Blasio has appointed two new members to the nine-member Rent Guidelines Board, a new chair and a new owner’s representative.

The two appointments – new chair Kathleen Roberts, a former United States Magistrate Judge, and owner rep Mary Serafy – “have years of experience in both the public and private sectors,” the mayor said in a press release on Tuesday.

The Rent Guidelines Board is responsible for determining rent increases for around one million apartments in the city each year, last year issuing its first ever rent freeze for tenants signing one-year leases.

In an official statement, the mayor said, “Judge Kathleen Roberts has years of experience serving New Yorkers as a United States Magistrate Judge and Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal and Civil Divisions. Likewise, Ms. Serafy is well-versed in the field of housing, planning and development in both the public and private sectors.

“I’m confident that their addition to the Rent Guidelines Board will serve New Yorkers well – tenants and landlords alike – in establishing rent adjustments that are fair and grounded in real-life conditions in our neighborhoods.”

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Letters to the Editor, Mar. 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Suggestion for keeping STPCV paths clear

About the dogs, I would just like to put the following out for consideration.

NYC Health code 161.03 specifies: “A person who owns, possesses or controls a dog, cat or other animal shall not permit the animal to commit a nuisance on a sidewalk of any public place, on a floor, wall, stairway or roof of any public or private premises used in common by the public, or on a fence, wall or stairway of a building abutting on a public place.”

Whether or not the sidewalks of STPCV are deemed public or private, the reason this law is relevant is that we have very dense populations here of both people and dogs (perhaps the most dense in the city), and we have a lot of toddlers here who play and fall on these sidewalks all the time. These small children are the most important factor of all.

Even if dog owners clean up the messes, does that really matter so far as children’s health is concerned? There is residual fecal matter in all cases and in some cases, effective “picking up” is impossible especially if the dog is sick.

Just as in the rest of the city, dogs should not be allowed to defecate on our sidewalks. There’s actually more reason for this law to apply here than in the rest of the city.

In lieu of phasing out dogs here entirely, I’ll offer the following possible solution.

Today as I walked from the Oval toward 18th Street, I saw a couple with its dog doing its business off the sidewalk in a small, open mulched area. The dog finished, they picked up.  Fine.  Not on the sidewalk, totally within the law.

There is a small mulched area near the flagpole at 22nd Street where I’ve seen a man bring his dog. He stays on the mulch, stays off the grass, picks up afterward. Seems totally within the law.  Again, nothing done on the sidewalk.

Seems to me given appropriate limitations, a little intelligent planning and intelligent application of effort, small mulched areas could be set up around the buildings and used for the dogs to relieve themselves, and that would help. I’m not talking about dog runs. Just talking about small mulched areas where dogs could do their thing, owners pick up and then go on with their walks.

Of course, there would also have to be a cap on the number of dogs allowed here.  Past a certain point under any circumstances, the problem becomes totally unhealthy and unmanageable.

Any fines management decides to impose would also need to be enforced with respect to dog owners who refuse to cooperate. Accidents happen so fines would be limited to those who don’t clean up afterward (in accordance with NYS Heath Code 1310).

Barry Shapiro, PCV

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Police Watch: Burglary at Second Ave. apartment, Stabbing at Prince George Hotel

Twenty-year-old Khaleel Lofton was arrested for burglary in front of 501 Second Avenue last Tuesday at 11:44 a.m. A witness told police that Lofton entered the victim’s Kips Bay apartment building between 28th and 29th Streets through a shut rear window. The victim said that she didn’t know Lofton and definitely didn’t invite him into the apartment. Police said that Lofton fled the scene but he was stopped shortly after by officers nearby.

Police arrested 54-year-old Felicia Sweat for assault last Sunday at 5:50 p.m. in the Prince George Hotel at 14 East 28th Street. Police said that Sweat stabbed the victim in the foot and leg, and he sustained cuts to his leg as a result.

Police arrested 43-year-old Harpal Singh for unlawful imprisonment last Friday at 9:56 p.m. inside the 13th Precinct. Singh allegedly locked the victim in the back of his cab, confining her there against her will for over an hour due to a dispute over the cab fare. Singh allegedly told police that he did in fact lock her in because he wanted to get his money.

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Opinion: The messenger

By Former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

I have been doing much thinking about this Presidential campaign and the phenomenon which is Donald Trump. Like others I underestimated his appeal.

For sure he is a skilled presence in front of cameras and a big crowd. What he lacks in knowledge or even a scintilla of government experience he makes up for with years of media savvy. He is accustomed to reporters and being the center of controversy.

But how is it that much of the Republican Party is enthralled by a person with no real policy ideas about governing, or implementing programs and certainly no interest in political consensus building? How did he become the leader of a great political party?

The answer is that he is not leading from the front, he is leading from behind. In fact he is not leading at all, but rather he is the messenger. He has become the embodiment of the frustration, rage and yes even bigotry, that has been festering amongst millions of our fellow citizens for decades.

Donald Trump did not create the message, but he is delivering it. He is saying and doing what millions of Americans feel. And in him these people see the reflection of themselves. That is why his supporters are so passionately loyal to him no matter what idiotic thing he might say or do. To deny Trump would be to deny themselves and to invalidate their deep seeded dislikes and distrusts. Donald Trump is the agent to vent all that anger.

And Trump understands this dynamic and is exploiting it to great success.

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Senior shoved in mugging on East 14th Street

Robbery suspect

Robbery suspect

Police are looking for a man who forcefully mugged on a senior on East 14th Street last Wednesday, March 16.

At around 7:40 p.m. the victim, a 66-year-old man, was walking near Third Avenue when he was pushed to the ground by another man who shoved him to the ground. The suspect then grabbed the victim’s wallet, containing $250 in cash as well as credit and debit cards.

The suspect, who was seen on surveillance video, is black, approximately 5’5” tall with a dark complexion and black hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a black jacket, black jeans and white sneakers.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) The public can also submit their tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577.

First Avenue Chase Bank robbed

Mar31 Chase Bank suspect

Bank robbery suspect

Cops are on the lookout for a man who robbed the Chase Bank located across the street from Stuyvesant Town on Thursday, March 24.

The man, who strolled into the bank at 255 First Avenue and 15th Street at around 4:30 p.m., allegedly passed a note to a teller demanding cash. The teller then handed the man around $1,500 and he ran off in an unknown direction.

The suspect is described as a white, approximately 5’6″ tall and was last seen a wearing a black hoodie sweatshirt with the letter DG, a black baseball cap, black gloves and had a band aid on his chin. An employee at the bank referred questions about the incident to a company spokesperson who declined to comment.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Stuy Town Associated owner: Why supermarkets are struggling

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

When the owners of the Associated Supermarket on West 14th Street announced that they will probably not be able to stay in business, thanks to a $100,000 rent increase, neighbors jammed the sidewalk outside for a protest, as did politicians. But the fight was about more than just one supermarket; it was what has become a familiar pattern of supermarkets and other businesses struggling to remain in their spaces throughout the city. The main reason for this seems to be rent, with building owners either imposing astronomical increases or refusing to negotiate entirely in the hope of getting a tenant that will pay substantially more, like a bank.

Joseph Falzon, principal owner of the Associated Supermarket in Chelsea as well as in Stuyvesant Town, has been dealing with both situations at both of those stores, respectively. (However, Blackstone has at least been willing to speak with him, unlike the company’s predecessor.)

When asked for his thoughts on the murky future being faced by local supermarkets, Falzon said what it all comes down to is that supermarkets simply can’t withstand steep increases at pretty much any location. The reason? It’s a business where the margin of profit is simply too low.

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PCV resident Jacob Friedman, who fought in two wars, dies

By Sabina Mollot

On March 3, Peter Cooper Village lost a World War II hero when longtime resident Jacob Friedman died.

Friedman, who fought the Nazis with the partisans, groups of resistance fighters in Europe, died two weeks after collapsing from a stroke two weeks earlier. He had also been dealing with macular degeneration for several years. He was 95.

According to his daughter, Sheryl Safran, Friedman, who was Jewish and born in Czechoslovakia in 1921, was able to avoid being rounded up by the Nazis during the early 1940s by joining the partisans. He ended up fighting his way through Europe, Safran said, evading capture until shortly before the end of the war, in 1944. He ended up in Mauthausen, a concentration camp in Austria, but got out when the camp was liberated along with other death camps. Then came a stint in a displacement camp for former concentration camp prisoners.

Later, Friedman settled in Palestine, and after fighting in the Israeli War for Independence, remained in Israel. It was there when he’d meet the woman he would later marry, an American citizen named Bernice whose last name was also Friedman.

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CB6 eyes city-owned sites for open space

Baruch College’s pedestrian block on East 25th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Baruch College’s pedestrian block on East 25th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 is exploring opportunities to create more open space in the district and discussed the possibility of utilizing city-owned property to do so at the most recent Land Use and Waterfront committee meeting earlier this month.

Committee Chair Terrence O’Neal said that the board is currently combing the neighborhood for spaces owned by the city that might be available, but it isn’t always a straightforward transaction.

“When (the city does) own property, they want to make something out of it,” he said, referencing the deal the city made with Brookdale and Hunter College for the planned sanitation garage.

Although residents are still fighting the plan, the sanitation garage proposal for the Brookdale site at East 25th Street and First Avenue came about because the original site of the sanitation garage, at East 74th Street and York Avenue, was sold to Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital. The sale provided funding for the garage, which needed to be replaced, and the land on East 25th Street will revert back to city ownership when Hunter College moves the facilities currently in that space up to Yorkville as part of the MSK project.

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GNA holds annual community exhibit at Arts Club

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By Sabina Mollot

The Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, which curates an exhibit at the National Arts Club each year featuring works by local artists, said that this year’s was the biggest show yet with around 100 works on display. This year’s show will also be the longest, having kicked off on March 15 and running through March 25 in three out of five of the club’s gallery spaces.

Sixty-six artists and photographers participated this year, mostly from Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town. (Full disclosure: One participant was the person writing this.)

On the night of the opening reception for the show on March 17, Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, figured there were about 300 people in attendance, as he peered over the sea of heads. This is normal for the GNA’s art openings.

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Visana owners get a break–for now

Visana pizzeria and cocktail lounge (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Visana pizzeria and cocktail lounge (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The owners of troubled First Avenue cocktail lounge Visana got a break on Tuesday when an administrative law judge granted an adjournment during a hearing at the State Liquor Authority to give them time to get an attorney. The adjournment for the two owners, David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin, came despite objections from the attorney for the SLA.

Margarita Marsico, associate general counsel for the authority, objected to Judge Ann Cullen’s adjournment because, she argued, Jaffee and Rachlin have had more than enough time to get legal representation. She said that prior to scheduling the hearing, the owners no longer had an attorney but Jaffee had indicated that he would be representing himself.

“We proposed this date ahead of time and he’d had ample time to get a lawyer,” she said. “He’s had an attorney (previously) and said that this date was okay. He had ways of meeting me and getting in touch with me about this.”

Marsico added that, due to the serious nature of the charges over noise, a number of residents had come to testify and they had agreed to appear under the presumption that they would actually get to testify at the Tuesday hearing.

“I have an 83-year-old resident who’s sick who came to testify,” she said. “It’s unusual to have residents testify in a case like this and I have four who came today. I respect everyone’s right to representation but he knew how to hire a liquor lawyer to apply for the license and he acts like he doesn’t know what to do now.”

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Letters to the Editor: Mar. 24

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

When an inspector pays a call

This is to compliment Stuyvesant Town Public Safety Department and specifically Officer Brooks and the Public Safety Officers who were sent to my aid upon request. Also, this is an alert to your readership.

With illegal calls from the “supposed IRS” and recent alerts about phony Con Edison representatives making rounds, both scams having had been brought to my attention by Town & Village, there is another concern that I would like to share with our neighbors.

Last week, a would-be inspector from the Department of Buildings rang me from the intercom downstairs and wanted me to let him in to inspect my apartment. I advised him I had not requested his visit, I did not know who he was, if he had authority to inspect my apartment I should not have to buzz him in, and I would not do so.

Within minutes, he was ringing my bell and again I told him I would not let him in without a management escort. I immediately called Public Safety and spoke with Officer Brooks, who stayed on the phone with me while sending two Public Safety officers to come and escort the man into my apartment. Though this man had ID, it could have been fake.

Though he supposedly had had a complaint, it was not applicable to my apartment. He spent less than a minute in my apartment.

I want to thank Officer Brooks who was very thoughtful, staying on the line with me,  the Public Safety Officers who responded so quickly and efficiently, and especially management for providing us with a safe environment.

Also, I wanted to alert all tenants to not ever open their door to someone uninvited and to call Public Safety at (212) 598-5233 for an escort for “the visitor” if there is ever any doubt that someone has authority to enter their apartment.


Kay Vota, ST

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Police Watch: ‘Drunk’ drivers arrested, ‘Groper’ busted in Union Square

Police arrested 28-year-old Saman Ebrahimzadeh in front of 114 West 16th Street for intoxicated driving last Sunday at 4:40 a.m. Police said that Ebrahimzadeh was driving east on West 16th Street when he and his passenger allegedly began to hang outside of the car while it was moving. When they were stopped, Ebrahimzadeh allegedly had slurred speech and bloodshot watery eyes.

Police arrested 53-year-old Glenn Gordon for sexual abuse inside the Union Square subway station last Thursday at 7:48 p.m. Gordon allegedly rubbed his groin area on the victim’s buttocks multiple times while they were on a downtown 4 train. Police said that he and the victim did not know each other.

An alleged attempt by an 18-year-old to run off with a woman’s phone was foiled by a Good Samaritan last Friday.
The victim told police that she was standing in front of 200 Park Avenue South at 8:43 p.m. when Nickoles Rodriguez, 18, allegedly snatched her phone out of her hand and fled. However, police said that Rodriguez was stopped at the northeast corner of East 18th Street and Broadway by a civilian. The teen was later charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property.

Police arrested Thomas Thompson for assault last Friday at 9:45 a.m. at First Avenue and East 30th Street. An EMT told police that he was treating a patient on East 30th Street when Thompson allegedly approached him and became belligerent. Police said that Thompson then tried to get into the ambulance and leave with the patient who was inside. The EMT said that he ended up not getting in the ambulance but that he did approach the vehicle while it was attempting to drive away and allegedly continued to shout before spitting in the EMT’s face, police said. The EMT opened the door of the ambulance, at which point Thompson allegedly tried to spit at him again. He put up his hand to block Thompson from spitting at him but the suspect then allegedly bit the EMT’s hand.

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Stuy Town gets city’s first solar-powered bus shelter

Mar24 Solar powered bus shelter

Solar-powered bus shelter at Avenue C and 16th Street (Photo courtesy of DOT)

By Sabina Mollot

The city has installed its first solar-powered bus shelter, with a location outside Stuyvesant Town picked as the place for a pilot program.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, the project was being funded not by the city but a Paris-based company that runs outdoor advertising campaigns called JCDecaux. If the lighting works out well, the company will also pay for other transitions to solar panel-powered lighting at non-powered shelters throughout the city as part of a franchise agreement.

Currently, JCDecaux is responsible for 3,000 bus shelters throughout the five boroughs as well as 300 newsstands. The company is now in its 10th year of partnership with the city and handles installation and maintenance of street furniture.

Meanwhile, the new lighting outside Stuyvesant Town at the shelter on Avenue C and 16th Street comes two and a half years after an elderly woman was fatally struck nearby by a Con Ed truck. The woman, 88-year-old Stuyvesant Town resident Stella Huang, had attempted to cross the street in the dark.

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Opinion: The Republican Coliseum

By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

I continue to watch the Republican debates. There was another one just the other Thursday. And like the reality TV shows in vogue these days, the number of contestants seem to get whittled down each episode. Last week there were only four candidate survivors left.

In ancient Rome, the ruling class put on shows in their coliseum to appease the populace. They brought gladiators into the arena who fought one and other in bloody savage spectacles. The losers were cast to the lions and the winners went on to participate in more such events, all to the roaring approval of the masses.

So here we are two thousand years later and we are witness to the Republican Party’s reprise of the coliseum. Their contestants board the stage in front of a throng of ravenous and raucous supporters in the auditorium and millions more watching on TV. We are treated to obscenity laced rhetoric and juvenile taunts and insults being hurled at one and other like spears and swords from an earlier time. These modern day gladiators are competing for their political lives with the ultimate prize being a shot at the presidency.

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