Opinion: Helter skelter Bernie

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

In 1969 the Charles Manson cult family committed acts of atrocities going on a seemingly senseless killing spree hoping that it would foment a race war in the United States leading to some kind of warped revolution. Manson referred to that strategy as “helter skelter” which became the name of the best-selling book by Vincent Bugliosi who alas successfully prosecuted those crimes in California.

Can it possibly be that Bernie Sanders is adopting a similar political strategy as he faces the end game in his fight for the Democratic nomination and his self-styled political “revolution”? Does Bernie Sanders really hope that Donald Trump will become President (if he cannot) so as to hasten an uprising by the masses? Farfetched? Well in this zaniest of political years it seems that no story line, no plot is implausible.

Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed Socialist turned Democrat, has proclaimed that he is not just running in a political campaign, but he is leading a revolution in American politics to revamp economic balance and the distribution of national wealth. Bernie is not an incrementalist. He wants change to happen now, immediately. Fair enough. He has raised some very important questions during his longshot campaign. And he has won millions of votes and a number of primaries and caucuses along the way. His message is resonating.

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Free tech classes returning to Flatiron in June

Outdoor summer program also includes fitness classes and games

Attendees at a tech class held last summer on the Flatiron Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Attendees at a tech class held last summer on the Flatiron Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Public programming in the Flatiron Plazas will be back for the summer this June with free tech classes, fitness sessions, board games, crafting and other activities. The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) is launching the series with an event on the summer solstice, June 20, in partnership with the Museum of Mathematics, which is located on East 26th Street just north of Madison Square Park, and programming will officially begin the next day, running through August 11 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The kickoff event, held on the longest day of the year, will be a chance for the public to participate in some math-related fun. MoMath and the BID, with the help of willing volunteers, will construct a polyhedron comprised of 12 ten-pointed stars in the north public plaza. The angles on all the stars will correspond with the angle made by the sun at its highest peak at noon on the day of the solstice.

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A quarter, plus two cents tax

The owner of Jo-Jo’s, Harry Dugatkin, also known as Heshie, also known as Star, behind the counter at his store

The owner of Jo-Jo’s, Harry Dugatkin, also known as Heshie, also known as Star, behind the counter at his store

By Lee Alan Dugatkin

The door into Jo-Jo Toys swung out toward the street, narrowly missing the adjacent gumball machine. Just feet beyond the door sat a cardboard box with its flaps cut off.  In it were brand new, hard-as-a rock Spaldeen rubber balls.  Hundreds of them, and they seemed somehow to smell the pink they were colored. Written in thick black magic marker, a hastily scribbled “25 cents” on the side of the box drew every prepubescent boy, and the occasional girl, towards them.  Though they all seemed identical to the adult eye, kids could detect subtle differences that required some serious sampling on their part. Picking out the ball of their choice, they would run it through a series of qualifiers and then proceed to give it a final “squeeze test” – the firmer, the better.

The quarter plus two cents tax price tag meant something different to each kid.  For some it was nothing, a small fraction of their allowance for the week.  For others it meant forsaking a Hershey’s bar or maybe a Slushie at the Baricinni Candy shop two doors down, never an easy decision when you are eight.  For still others, often the kids from the Alphabet soup area southeast of Jo-Jo, this was it, their major purchase for the month. A quarter meant everything to them, the tax might even preclude the purchase; and the man behind the counter remembered who they were, in case a teary-eyed kid returned a Spaldeen that had worn out before its time.

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Ray Kelly recalls life as New York’s top cop

Ray Kelly

Ray Kelly

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly joined his son, Fox5 anchor Greg Kelly, in a discussion about his life and career at the National Arts Club on Tuesday, May 10.

The pair discussed Kelly’s service as the city’s longest serving police commissioner, but Greg also said that he wanted to highlight parts of his father’s story that people might not know about during the discussion, such as the fact that his father was first in his class at the police academy, receiving a commemorative weapon for the honor.

“Just to illustrate the power of Bloomingdale’s in those days, that was known as the Bloomingdale’s trophy,” Kelly said. “Bloomingdale’s had a lot of juice in those days.”

The event at the Arts Club in Gramercy Park was in promotion of Kelly’s newly released memoir, Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City.

“We rehearsed nothing for this and he has a history of trying to submarine me,” Kelly joked about his relationship with his son before the conversation started.

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Feeling the urn: Residents weigh in on smoking areas

Cigarette urns like this one will soon appear throughout Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Chuck Hartsell)

Cigarette urns like this one will soon appear throughout Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Chuck Hartsell)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier in the month, Blackstone’s new management arm, StuyTown Property Services, announced that designated smoking areas were coming to Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. As General Manager Rick Hayduk later explained to T&V, 70 urns would be placed around the property to serve as smoking areas and receptacles for cigarette butts. Still, the plan would be more about suggesting a modification in behavior — getting smokers to take their butts (and the ends of their cigarettes) — off of stoops and away from buildings, rather than a clear cut rule about where to light up.

We’ve since reached out to community residents who mostly seemed to support the project, though some complained it didn’t go far enough.

Longtime resident and former smoker Bill Whitney said he thought having the urns around “is a good idea. There are so many dogs and kids around here and they pick things up.”

Elaine Healis, who said she lived in Stuy Town for 30 years, had no problem with smoking areas but suggested that management start off by just placing one or two urns around and seeing if they work before putting in the rest of them. (Hayduk had said previously that the endeavor would be a costly one with Blackstone purchasing 80 urns, each costing $500 including installation.)

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UPDATED: Man fatally shot at Irving Plaza

Irving_Plaza_entrance

Irving Plaza (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Four people were shot, one fatally, inside Irving Plaza on Wednesday night around 10:15 p.m. during a T.I. concert at the venue. EMS transported a 33-year-old man shot in the stomach to Beth Israel Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A 26-year-old woman had a gunshot wound to the leg and a 34-year-old man was shot in the chest, and further investigation found that a 30-year-old man had been shot in the leg.

Police said that the man shot in the leg went to the NYU Medical Center on his own, and the 26-year-old woman and 33-year-old man were transported to Bellevue Hospital by EMS. The two victims transported to Bellevue were in stable condition. The 30-year-old man shot in the leg was reportedly Brooklyn rapper Troy Ave, according to the New York Post.

The incident occurred in the green room of the venue while rappers Maino and Uncle Murda were performing as the opening act at the show, the Post reported. The scuffle then spilled out into the area by the main stage, causing chaos and panic among the 1,000 concert attendees.

Police have not officially released the identity of the deceased victim but the Post has reported that his name was Ronald McPhatter. The Post also noted that the shooting erupted after an argument started in the limited-access section on the seventh floor of the venue before spreading to the second floor, where the green room is.

No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

UPDATE: Troy Ave, 33, whose real name is Roland Collins, has been arrested. The Union Street, Brooklyn resident has been charged with attempted murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

The Soapbox: A plant is not just a plant

Regular park angel volunteers: Orlinda Calmeid, Tom Eccardt, Maria Pia Belloni and Barbara Bienenfeld (Photo by Liza Mindemann)

Regular park angel volunteers: Orlinda Calmeid, Tom Eccardt, Maria Pia Belloni and Barbara Bienenfeld (Photo by Liza Mindemann)

By Liza Mindemann, Stuyvesant Cove Park manager

As many of you already know, Stuyvesant Cove Park is a native species plant park. When we have school groups one of the first questions I ask is, “can anyone tell me what a native plant is?” It’s a harder question to answer than one might think, but the simple answer is that native plants are those species that naturally occur in a region and have evolved and adapted over many thousands of years to the specific conditions of that geographic area.

Many of us don’t think of gardens as having any purpose outside of providing beauty, or perhaps growing food to eat. But today, our gardens are actually one of the last chances we have to preserve the diverse species of plants, insects and wildlife that once prolifically populated our region. Due to urban development, NYC has already lost 30 percent of its native plant varieties. This brings me to the second question I usually ask school groups, “Does anyone know why native plants are important?” Native plants are important for many reasons, including the role they play in sustaining our ecosystems by reducing erosion and flooding, cleaning our water and air and by providing food and habitat for all the insects that our farms depend upon. Interestingly, native plants are not just food to any and all insects that pass by; often, they are food to only one particular insect.

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Beth Israel will move to 14th St. in smaller space

Mount Sinai Beth Israel has been in its current location since 1929. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Mount Sinai Beth Israel has been in its current location since 1929. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

On Wednesday, the Mount Sinai Health System confirmed reports that Beth Israel would be downsizing, due to its property’s aging infrastructure and changing needs in the healthcare industry, but also said it was creating a new downtown “network” of facilities that will include a smaller Beth Israel hospital on 14th Street and Second Avenue.

The new facility, which is expected to have a price tag of $250 million, will be adjacent to the Mount Sinai’s New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and the two hospitals will share some infrastructure. Some of that money will go towards “enhanced” services at Eye and Ear. The new hospital will have 70 beds and a “state-of-the art” emergency department. This is a drastic reduction from its current number of beds, which is 856.

In its announcement, Mount Sinai cited a lack of demand for those beds, even after the closure of St. Vincent’s in 2010. In fact, the company said, demand for inpatient beds at its own hospital and others, including Bellevue and NYU Langone, has declined.

“On average, less than sixty percent of the hospital’s licensed beds are occupied and patient volume at the financially troubled hospital has decreased by double digits since 2012,” the hospital said.

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Police Watch: Closet-hiding ‘burglar’ arrested, Subway grinder busted in Union Square

Office burglary suspect Phoenix Goines

Office burglary suspect Phoenix Goines

CLOSET-HIDING ‘BURGLAR’ BUSTED BY FINGERPRINTS
Police have arrested the man reportedly responsible for tricking a building security guard into letting him charge his phone when he was really biding his time until employees went home to steal a number of laptops from a Chelsea office at the end of April. The incident took place on April 22 around 6:09 p.m. when Phoenix Goines, 33, entered the offices of Gravity Advertising at 114 West 26th Street and allegedly swiped a bunch of laptops.
Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney of the 13th Precinct originally reported the incident at a community council meeting in April and at the time, expressed shock that the guard in the building didn’t call the police when the unfamiliar man entered the building.
Before the theft took place, the guard found Goines allegedly hiding inside a closet where the suspect allegedly said he was looking for somewhere to charge his phone. Instead of escorting him out of the building or alerting the authorities, the guard showed him where he could plug the device in and allowed Goines to go back to the office, where he waited until the employees left and then allegedly snatched the laptops.
Police said that Goines left prints at the location and there was a positive print hit on his name, leading to his arrest.

SUBWAY GRINDER NABBED IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 32-year-old Jermaine Hampton for sexual abuse inside the Union Square subway station at Union Square East and East 14th Street last Tuesday at 7:04 p.m. Hampton was allegedly rubbing his groin on a woman’s buttocks. While police were interviewing the victim, a second woman said that Hampton had also groped her. Neither of the women knew Hampton.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ID THEFT SCHEME
Police arrested 27-year-old Jamaal Green for grand larceny inside 321 East 25th Street last Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. Police said that Green was arrested under an indictment from 2014 to 2015 because he allegedly schemed to defraud victims and worked with others who were arrested, using the personal information of victims to make fraudulent purchases.

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Opinion: Crime and punishment

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

In the past two weeks the former speaker of the New York State Assembly was sentenced to prison for 12 years for corruption and misuse of his government position. And the former Senate Majority Leader was handed a five-year sentence for similar crimes. These two convictions, and lengthy prison terms in a federal penitentiary follows a decade of state and city public officials having been found guilty of various felonies mostly having to do with self-enrichment at the public’s expense.

These cases have further soured the public on government and politics. They have ushered in a generation of cynicism about the honest administration of our government institutions.

The first responsibility of our current office holders in Albany and City Hall is to stanch the damage and restore public trust. This will not be easy, but it is necessary. Without the confidence of the electorate, democracy is badly undermined. Without trust in the basic honesty of elected officials the implied compact between voters and those they elect disintegrates and a representative form of government ceases to exist.

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Stuy Town man out of Council race, running for mayor instead

Joshua Thompson on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Joshua Thompson on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Joshua Thompson, the Stuyvesant Town resident who’d been running for the City Council seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick, is no longer on the ballot — because he’s running for mayor.

The 30-year-old candidate’s name appeared last week on a list of candidates on the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s website. Asked about the switch in direction, Thompson said via email that there would be a campaign launch event on May 24.

Town & Village profiled the candidate, then the only person running for Council in the 4th District in February. Thompson has previously worked for the Booker administration in Newark, New Jersey, where he grew up, and also recently held a job as director of education for the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Currently, he serves as executive director of external relations for the nonprofit New Leaders, which promotes leadership in education.

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Car in Stuy Town garage scorched in fire

The cause of the fire is being investigated, but is not considered suspicious. (Photo by Tom Nonnon)

The cause of the fire is being investigated, but is not considered suspicious. (Photo by Tom Nonnon)

By Sabina Mollot

A car that had been parked in a Stuyvesant Town garage got charred in a fire that started in the car on Sunday night (May 15).

According to a resident who called Town & Village, the smell of smoke and burning metal was in the air when he passed the 410 East 20th Street garage on his way home at about 8:10 p.m. He then looked up to see smoke billowing out of a vent. He stuck around for a bit and noticed that it was getting worse, so he called security and fire trucks soon responded to the scene. The resident, Tom Nonnon, went home but returned to the scene once the fire was extinguished.

The car that went ablaze, Nonnon added, had Connecticut plates and he’d been told it was owned by one of the supervisors.

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MTA explores options at meeting on L train repairs and shutdown

A public meeting on the planned L line repairs and accompanying shutdowns was held last Thursday at the Salvation Army Theatre.

A public meeting on the planned L line repairs and accompanying shutdowns was held last Thursday at the Salvation Army Theatre. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

L train riders got the chance to voice their opinions on the impending closure of the line during a meeting hosted by the MTA last Thursday, with straphangers divided on what would be less disruptive, a full closure or a partial one that takes twice as long while the agency conducts repairs.

Donna Evans, chief of staff for the MTA, said at the beginning of the meeting at the Salvation Army Theatre that there were two important facts to consider about the repairs: the tracks must be closed whether one at a time or together, and regardless of which plan is chosen, the closure won’t take place until 2019.

A two-track closure would be the shorter option at 18 months, but there would be no service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue with this plan. The MTA said that train service would be fairly regular in Brooklyn with trains running between Bedford Avenue and Rockaway Parkway every eight minutes.

During a three-year closure, the MTA said that service through the tunnel wouldn’t be frequent or reliable but in Brooklyn, service would be near normal with trains running every eight minutes. The MTA would be running extra trains on the G, J and M to supplement service in Brooklyn and the B39 over the bridge would provide an alternative for service into Manhattan. The L train would operate a shuttle between Eighth Avenue and Bedford Avenue at a 12 to 15-minute frequency and would not stop at Third Avenue. There would also be no service between Bedford Avenue and Lorimer Street, but service would operate between Lorimer Street and Rockaway Parkway.

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‘Limited’ flea market to return to ST

Residents ask questions at the meeting, which was attended by around 100 people. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Residents ask questions at the meeting, which was attended by around 100 people. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Also: No permanent dog run, and no more marketing to students

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk spoke at a meeting held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association to give updates on the property and to address tenant concerns from student apartments to rogue cyclists.

He also gave a long awaited answer to the frequent requests for a dog run — not happening — but indicated the defunct Stuyvesant Town flea market will return if management can find a way to do it that doesn’t increase the risk of bed bugs.

“They are horrific,” he said of the blood-sucking critters. Hayduk added that if the event were to be brought back, there would need to be so many items banned, from furniture to clothing, that, “The only thing left is a picture of dogs playing poker.”

When the resident who’d asked about the market responded to say she believed tenants would cooperate with whatever rules management comes up with, Hayduk responded, “It’s not a definitive no.”

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Grounds get more dog friendly

The addition of more mulched areas as well as fences in ST/PCV is aimed at protecting the grass from dog waste.  This is part of an ongoing landscape renovation. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The addition of more mulched areas as well as fences in ST/PCV is aimed at protecting the grass from dog waste. This is part of an ongoing landscape renovation. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It’s springtime following a particularly rough winter that managed to be both unseasonably warm as well as frigid, and in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village that means just one thing: time for a landscape renovation.

Chuck Hartsell, the property’s director of horticulture and landscape, said this year’s damage wasn’t as extreme as in some recent years due to some precautionary work and current projects include adding 21 shade trees and protecting plants from dogs as well as making the grounds more dog friendly.

To accomplish the pooch-related goals, Hartsell said there’s been fencing and removal of fencing on a rotational basis on grass areas. This was done, he explained as “an experiment” with the grounds crew later noticing that a fenced-in area was kept pristine while an open area was completely laid to waste thanks to, well, dog waste.

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