Gramercy Park community activist Audrey Sisson Kasha dies at 88

A public memorial service will be held for Audrey Sisson Kasha on Thursday, June 30.

A public memorial service will be held for Audrey Sisson Kasha on Thursday, June 30.

By Sabina Mollot

Gramercy Park resident Audrey Sisson Kasha, 88, died on June 12, a month after suffering a severe stroke.

Kasha was for many years involved in her community, having been the one to suggest the formation of the Gramercy Park Block Association in 1993.

This was after another resident, Tim Harrison, was beaten by a roving gang on the street. The association, run by Tim’s mother Arlene Harrison, was formed the next year and has remained devoted to local safety and quality of life ever since. Meanwhile, Kasha also served as one Gramercy Park’s trustees, including for some time as its counsel.

Arlene Harrison said she’ll remember Kasha for her dedication and her skills as a writer and editor for much of the trustees’ and block association’s literature.

“Just when we thought our writing was in perfect shape for Audrey to review, she would find at least 15 errors,” Harrison said.

She was also a founding member of the Tilden Democratic Club, which she was very active in, both in going to meetings and petitioning.

Until her retirement over 25 years ago, Kasha, a resident of 60 Gramercy Park North, served as chief of staff for the now-deceased Democratic Assemblyman William Passanante, who represented the Greenwich Village area.

Harrison noted that Kasha was often referred to as Passanante’s “brains” by the Assemblymember himself and that they remained good friends for decades.

Kasha was also known for throwing dinner parties, where guests raved over her cooking, and for being an avid church-goer at Calvary. She also met frequently with a group of people, who, like her, had involvement in politics, called The Schleppers.

Kasha had a grown son, Matthew, who worked in the music industry, and died in 2005. She is also predeceased by her sisters Gloria and Maxine. Kasha has one remaining sibling, her brother Peter Kasha, whose five-year-old son Ethan and wife Zena Kasha was very close with.

She was buried last week in Warwick, New Jersey with a small service for family members. On June 30 at 6 p.m., there will be a public memorial service held at Calvary Church, located at 277 Park Avenue South and 21st Street. Reverend Jacob Smith will be officiating.

Letters to the Editor, June 30

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Bernie’s still pretending to be a candidate

Dear Sir,

Mr. John Giannone in his letter appearing in the June 16 issue of T&V (“In defense of Bernie’s attacks on Hillary”) goes after Steven Sanders for his piece questioning the motives of Bernie Sanders to remain a candidate for the Democratic Party after Hillary Clinton became the indisputable presumptive nominee and defends Bernie’s attacks on Hillary (“Helter Skelter Bernie,” T&V, May 25).

We could agree that Steven Sanders might have been somewhat hyperbolic in his allegations about Senator Sanders’s motives. However, Bernie Sanders’s insistence on continuing to pretend that he is still a candidate and the inconsistencies and even hypocrisy in some of his demands, lend credence to suspicions of some ulterior motive.

Hillary Clinton won the nomination fair and square with 4 million more votes and 2.218 pledged delegates in 34 contests, to Sanders’s 1,833 super delegates and win in 23 contests. Sanders, who started by exciting many progressive democrats, myself included, who welcomed his candidacy and even sent him money feeling that he was moving the Democratic Party in the correct direction, effectively lost me and many others when he was asked “How?” All he has done is offering non-stop his line about the “revolution” and descriptions about what needs to change in this country, without one iota of an actual plan about how he is going to achieve anything. For me and the 15,805,135 voters who voted for Hillary Clinton, that was not enough. We were looking for a presidential candidate, not for a revolutionary-in-chief.

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Former Gramercy police precinct to be auctioned off

June30 21st Precinct

327 East 22nd Street, originally home to the 21st Precinct (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Two years ago, a Gramercy building that was once home to the NYPD’s 21st Precinct was sold to developer Sam Suzuki, who planned to convert the building to luxury condos.

However, the building, located at 327 East 22nd Street, is now scheduled to be sold at a public auction on Thursday, June 30 at 11 a.m. The upcoming sale, which was mentioned in a public notice in the New York Times, will take place at the New York County Courthouse and is being facilitated by Mission Capital Advisors. In the notice, the property is referred to as “SCPD Gramercy 1 LLC.”

In April, 2014, Suzuki bought the four-story building between First and Second Avenues for $11.5 million, securing an $18 million mortgage. As a condition of the sale, Suzuki also got 7,000 square feet of air rights. In February of 2015 the owner got a permit to demolish the property. However, today it still sits — at least the outside of it — boarded up and covered by a scaffolding. The permit to fully demolish the building expired this February, and the owner hasn’t since filed for a new one.

Prior to this, the building was used as a home for LGBT young people, and run by Green Chimneys, a nonprofit based in Brewster, New York, that owned the building.

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Juan Scott pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 3 women

Juan Scott plead guilty on Wednesday for sexual assaults committed in 2014.

Juan Scott pleaded guilty on Wednesday to sexual assaults committed in Stuyvesant Town and the East Village.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Juan Scott, the man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a Stuyvesant Town elevator as well as two other women before that, has pleaded guilty to the three incidents.

Scott, 28, who’s also the cousin of actress Rosario Dawson, had initially pleaded not guilty.

He was arrested on October 19, 2014, two days after attacking a 20-year-old NYU student in Stuyvesant Town. On October 17 around 4:30 a.m.  Scott pushed the woman to the ground inside her building’s elevator and sexually assaulted her, although she was able to eventually fight him off. Multiple people in the building also heard the attack and went into the hallway, causing Scott to flee the scene. However, the incident was captured on a surveillance camera and Scott could be seen climbing down a tree to escape. After the images were released to the media, an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers helped police track Scott to his parents’ home on Long Island, the Manhattan District Attorney said.

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Police Watch: Teen arrested for putting cop in headlock, Knife point robbery at shelter

Police arrested a teenager at the corner of First Avenue and East 15th Street last Wednesday at 7 p.m. for assault of a peace officer. Police were attempting to place the teen under arrest in regards to an attempted robbery when he flailed his arms and pushed the officer’s hands away. The teen also punched the officer in the face and placed the officer in a headlock, attempting to cut off the officer’s breathing.
The teen, whose name is being withheld due to his age, was also charged with obstruction of breath, resisting arrest, an unclassified misdemeanor and assault.

Police arrested 45-year-old John Jemison for allegedly robbing another man at knifepoint at the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street. The victim told police that he and Jemison got into an argument over money last Tuesday at 9:24 p.m. when Jemison allegedly pulled out a gravity knife and held it up to his throat while reaching into the victim’s pocket and taking out cash. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

Police arrested 21-year-old John Christian in front of 505 East 14th Street last Friday at 3:28 a.m. for allegedly smashing car mirrors. Stuyvesant Town Public Safety told police that they had received a complaint about a man damaging the cars.
When police arrived in the area, they saw Christian allegedly in the act of damaging a car mirror and after he was stopped, police said that there were six cars nearby with similar damage. He was charged with criminal mischief.

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Opinion: Waiting for number 2

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Some might remember the great 1980’s party game that for a time swept the nation called “Trivial Pursuit.” It matched players’ wits against little known facts from various areas of history. Example: Name the original four Beatles. Or, who was the first man in space? You get the idea. But better yet, who were the last two New Yorkers to be on the Republican Party national ticket? See how well you do (answers below). This is a particularly interesting trivia question since the 2016 presumptive Republican nominee for president was born and still lives in New York.
But this year’s “party game” of selecting a vice presidential running mate for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has much more consequence than Trivial Pursuit because it is about the future and not the past. And it is very much about who can help each nominee of their party win enough electoral votes in their pursuit to become president of the United States. These decisions will be made within the next few weeks as each party prepares for their National Conventions over the summer.
The first question is what are the “legal” qualifications needed to become vice president? You hope that the vice presidential candidate will have the stature and experience to become president if for whatever reason the incumbent president leaves office. That circumstance has actually occurred on eight occasions. But the answer is that there are three legal criteria. First, you need to be a natural born citizen of the United States. Then you need to be at least 35 (your age, not your IQ). And finally, you may not reside in the same state as the presidential nominee. That’s pretty much it. But the political considerations are much more involved.
The primary rule of thumb, like a doctor’s oath, is first to do no harm. A candidate for vice president must not detract from the presidential nominee in any way. After the fact, John McCain may have had buyer’s remorse having picked little known Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in 2008. Her glittering presence was a constant source of distraction from Senator McCain. In many ways, she upstaged him with her unscripted homilies about, well, just about everything. She attracted more media attention for her provocative remarks than McCain ever expected. In the end, she proved to be a minus, not a plus. And John McCain went down to defeat at the hands of novice Senator Barack Obama. In contrast, Obama chose the venerable Senator Joe Biden who in spite of his occasional gaffes along the way gave Mr. Obama the added credibility of a tried and tested politician who would not hog the spotlight but could competently assume the presidency.
Way back in 1960, underdog John F. Kennedy chose as his running mate the wily Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson from Texas who helped Kennedy carry not only his home state but also several other critically important southern states in a historically close election. “All the way with JFK and LBJ” proved to be a winning slogan and a cunningly smart choice. This in spite of the fact that the two men cared very little for one and other. But it was a political marriage made in heaven. In 1968, Republican candidate Richard Nixon from California picked Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew to balance the ticket geographically, and to add a tough-talking conservative to appeal to culturally angry white voters. It worked.

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Editorial: For Congress, T&V endorses Maloney

With the Congressional primary happening on Tuesday, June 28, East Side democrats will have the opportunity to vote for longtime incumbent Carolyn Maloney or political newcomer Peter Lindner.
In this race, Town & Village is endorsing Maloney and here are a few reasons.
Legislation-wise, despite the gridlock in Washington, Maloney has steadfastly called for the stronger gun control measures this country clearly needs. Not even a death threat phoned into her office two years ago after she called for gun owners to buy liability insurance was enough to make her fold on this important issue.
She has a record of aiming big on issues that affect everyday people, with passed legislation like the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights, which protects consumers from certain types of ridiculous fees credit card companies had been charging, like retroactive rate increases on existing balances, to legislation that forces colleges to take more action and offer more transparency with regards to incidents of sexual violence on campus.
She’s also steadfastly been a champion of women’s rights, fighting for things from family leave to equal pay for equal work to making sure there’s adequate funding for rape kits. Just last week, Maloney introduced a bill to expand family and medical leave.
On homeland security, recently introduced legislation would end the ability of owners of limited liability companies to be able to hide behind anonymity, which, Maloney has learned, has led to opportunities to launder money for terror funding.
District-wise, she’s concerned with everyday problems like ensuring there’s quality mass transit options available, having stayed on top of the MTA regarding progress of the Second Avenue Subway construction and the looming construction in the L train tunnel. She also has a history of being a visible presence in the community for more local issues, including a number tenant vs. landlord conflicts in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village alone.
In short, on issues both large and small, we feel that throughout the years Maloney has proved herself as a fighter for the well-being of her district and the country.
As for her opponent, while we applaud efforts by underdog candidates who face off against well-ingrained opponents, we’re not sure Lindner’s ready for the job.
He openly has said he isn’t focused on any district related issues. Additionally, key issues for Lindner include using technology to make government agencies more user friendly, and, like his opponent, enacting stronger gun control measures. He also would legalize marijuana and prostitution. We don’t question his ideas, but we don’t believe these things are enough to build an entire political platform on, especially given his lack of experience in political work or activism.

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Man busted for burglaries in Flatiron, Kips Bay

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 
Police have arrested a man they believe to be responsible for eight burglaries between last November and this April in a number of different buildings.
Alphonso Williamson, 54, was arrested last Wednesday at 4:19 p.m. after a police officer saw him allegedly trespassing in a building on West 21st Street. A custodian in the building told police that Williamson did not have permission to be on the fourth floor where the officer spotted him.
A number of the burglaries were in residential buildings but specific information about the locations was not available for all of the incidents, although all except one, which occurred in Midtown South, happened within the 13th Precinct.

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Hoylman: Republicans blocking LGBT, gun legislation

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Senator Hoylman)

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Senator Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Meet the New York State Senate’s most frustrated member.
It’s the end of another legislative term, and yet, even the recent massacre at an Orlando gay club, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, has not been enough of an event to lead to gun reforms. Nor has it motivated Albany to pass protections for the LGBT population.
So noted Senator Brad Hoylman in an interview with Town & Village last week. For example, one bill Hoylman’s pushing that went nowhere would have banned anyone from the federal no-fly list from buying guns. This is separate from similar federal legislation.
For this, the Democrat senator laid the blame on the usual culprits for blocking any bills he authors or supports — the Republican majority.

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Send-off fit for a prince-ipal

Epiphany’s James Hayes steps down after 38 years

Epiphany principal James Hayes was surprised by a flash mob of students, parents and alumni on Friday morning. He will remain with the school by heading its fundraising arm. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Epiphany principal James Hayes was surprised by a flash mob of students, parents and alumni on Friday morning. He will remain with the school by heading its fundraising arm. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, June 17, James Hayes, the principal of the Epiphany School for the past 38 years, had intended to treat his last day on the job like any other — by standing out front and greeting the students as they came in.

But this time, when he opened the door, there was a crowd of nearly 200 people outside — students, parents, alumni and neighbors. Before he was fully aware what was going on, the flash mob of fans then broke into song, belting out “I’d Do Anything” from the Broadway show “Oliver.”

They ended with, “We’d do anything for you, Jim, anything. For you mean everything to us.”

According to a parent, assembling the surprise serenade was necessary if the school wanted to give him any kind of sendoff, since he hadn’t wanted a party.

Nonetheless, Hayes seemed to appreciate the gesture, as students and alumni from decades ago lined up for photos with him in front of the school building on East 22nd Street.

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Mt. Sinai: Renovating Beth Israel would have cost $1.3 B

Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai, speaks at a meeting held by Community Boards 3 and 6 about the plans for a new Mount Sinai Beth Israel facility.

Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai, speaks at a meeting held by Community Boards 3 and 6 about the plans for a new Mount Sinai Beth Israel facility. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Following the news that Mount Sinai would be moving and downsizing Beth Israel, reps from the hospital network met with neighborhood residents to insist that simply renovating the First Avenue hospital was not an option.

Mount Sinai Beth Israel met with Community Boards 3 and 6 earlier this month to share details on the plan to relocate most of the campus on First Avenue to a much smaller facility at East 14th Street and Second Avenue, adjacent to the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Brad Korn, director for community and government affairs at Mount Sinai, along with Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government affairs at the company, told committee members and residents of the community that the main reason for the downsizing is the advanced age of the facility on First Avenue at East 16th Street.

“This is an aging, outmoded infrastructure,” Beckstrom said. “We get the question, ‘is it possible to renovate?’ But it would cost $1.3 billion and would take many years.”

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Tenants and owners blast Airbnb at RGB hearing

Joanne Joemelti

An East Village resident, Joanne Joemelti, argues that tenants shouldn’t be punished because of the ones that use Airbnb. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With just a week to go before the mayor’s Rent Guidelines Board votes on the year’s increases for roughly one million people, the city’s stabilized renters, both tenants and landlords went before the board to argue why they needed a break — in rent rollbacks or rent increases high enough to cover operating costs, respectively. The usual reasons for both were mentioned: desperate tenants citing stagnant wages while rent increases have steadily been granted until last year’s historic freeze, and owners blaming soaring real estate taxes and other factors like water/sewer fees and building maintenance.

But one thing both sides had in common was a mutual loathing for the increasingly common practice of short-term rentals.

Tenants brought up owners who flout the law to rent vacant units to tourists since it’s more lucrative than monthly rent and doubles as a form of harassment to longtime renters who’ve lost a sense of safety and community. Meanwhile, equally frustrated owners lamented how tenants live elsewhere, while paying under market rent and earning a windfall through Airbnb.

The arguments were made at the auditorium of the Cooper Union building on Monday afternoon. Tenants and landlords lined up to speak along with several elected officials at an RGB hearing.

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Letters to the Editor, June 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Still feeling the Bern, not trusting the Hill

To the Editor:

After asking rhetorically if the progressive presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders is adopting the helter skelter strategy of the “warped revolution” of the murderous Manson cult family in 1969, Steven Sanders (no relation and no friend) writes that this veteran senator who has years and years of experience in the Senate actually believes that he can accomplish his populist program “immediately.”

What the senator meant was that a revolution of new voters could result in the Democrats taking control of the House and the Senate making it possible for his programs to be made into law swiftly. Steven Sanders also makes the “analysis” which he admits is “a bit outlandish,” that Senator Sanders hopes that Donald Trump will become the next President. Really? The Senator has repeatedly said that “Trump is a pathological liar…a danger to the entire world” who must never be elected. I believe that the senator means what he says; unlike his opponents, his whole campaign, indeed his whole career, has been forthright. He is the only candidate who has earned my trust.

Unlike his opponents, the senator has not flip-flopped on any of his principles or public policy issues. He has not let the polls dictate his campaign platform. In fact, he’s been saying the same thing over and over since he began his campaign and because of this single-minded purpose and his honesty, he rose from a low of 3 percent in the polls last year to within striking distance of the nomination now. And this despite millions of independent voters not being allowed to exercise their right to vote; despite the DNC chairwoman’s biased debate schedule (Clinton won’t debate him anymore); despite the handicap of President Clinton campaigning for Hillary which, according to President Obama, is like running against two candidates; and despite the elite superdelegate politicians influencing the voting process by manipulating the media to report over and over that Hillary is far ahead of Bernie in the delegate count even though 541 superdelegates could change their votes at any time.  

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Police Watch: Man arrested for East 6th Street murder, NC man killed in car accident

Police arrested 24-year-old Terrance Pugh on Monday, a suspect in the murder of 21-year-old Michael Ayala-Rodriguez. On Friday, June 3 at around 2 a.m., police had responded to a 911 call about a man who was shot in the courtyard area of the Lillian Wald Houses at 890 East 6th Street.
When police arrived at the scene, they found Ayala-Rodriguez with gunshot wounds to his torso. He was transported to Beth Israel, where he was pronounced dead.
Pugh was also charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

Twenty-one-year-old North Carolina resident Elliot Copeland was killed after being hit by a car at the intersection of Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street on Thursday, June 16 at 10:19 p.m. Police responded to the scene after getting a call about a motor vehicle accident and found Copeland lying in the roadway, unconscious and unresponsive, with severe body trauma. EMS transported Copeland to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead the following Sunday. The investigation squad for the NYPD determined that a vehicle was driving along East 23rd Street at the Madison Avenue intersection when Copeland stepped into the road outside the marked crosswalk and was hit by the car. The investigation remains ongoing and no arrests have been made.

June23 public lewdness

Public lewdness suspect

The NYPD is looking for a man who allegedly exposed himself on the 4 train near Union Square last week. Police said that the 55 to 65-year-old white man was on a downtown 4 train approaching the Union Square subway station on Sunday, June 12 around 7 p.m. with his private parts exposed.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips at or by texting their tips and TIP577 to 274637 (CRIMES). All calls are strictly confidential.

Suspect behind string of shades thefts

Suspect behind string of shades thefts

Police are looking for a man responsible for 10 thefts throughout Manhattan from December 8 to May 19. The suspect reportedly targeted sunglasses stores and stole 57 pairs of sunglasses in total, primarily from stores in the Financial District, West Village and Midtown South.
Police suspect that in one of the incidents that took place in Flatiron, the man stole four pairs of sunglasses from the Solstice Sunglasses location at 168 Fifth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Streets on Friday, March 25 around 8 p.m.
The suspect has a shaved head and is black, 45 to 55 years old, 5’7” and 180 lbs. Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Eighteen-year-old Isaiah Douglas and another teenager were arrested for burglary inside Mexico Lindo at 459 Second Avenue and East 26th Street last Monday at 4:47 a.m. Police said that the second teenager, whose name is being withheld due to his young age, broke a window to get into the restaurant and broke into the cash register, taking a handful of cash. After police searched the area, they found that the teen was working with Douglas and the younger boy was found in possession of burglar’s tools and credit cards that didn’t have his name on them. The younger teen was also charged with grand larceny, burglar’s tools and possession of stolen property.

Police arrested 28-year-old Ryann Lyde for forgery and theft of services inside Tonic at 411 Third Avenue last Thursday at 11:16 p.m. Police said that Lyde ordered drinks from the bar and allegedly attempted to use a forged credit card to pay for them. Lyde allegedly attempted to flee the location but he was arrested and when he was searched, he was allegedly in possession of two additional fraudulent credit cards.

Police arrested 43-year-old Santos Vazquez for burglar’s tools in front of the Human Resources Administration building at 109 East 16th Street last Saturday at 2:09 p.m.
Police said that Vazquez was seen casing the location with a screwdriver sticking out of his pants pocket. Vazquez then entered a garage and allegedly removed copper piping that police said he had hidden there earlier. Vazquez was also charged with theft of services, possession of stolen property and criminal trespass.

Eighteen-year-old Martinique Bumbray was arrested for assault and harassment inside the Administration for Children’s Services Facility at 492 First Avenue last Sunday at 4:38 a.m. Police said that Bumbray threw a yellow and white padlock, hitting the victim in the right cheek and causing severe pain. Police said that the victim was treated at the Bellevue emergency room.

E. 14th St. firehouse gets renovated

The firehouse on East 14th Street was empty this week.

The firehouse on East 14th Street was empty this week.

By Sabina Mollot

The firehouse at 340 East 14th Street known as Engine 5 is getting a makeover.

The station, which is marked by a flag announcing its 150-year legacy over the bright red building, was being emptied out this week, an eagle-eyed reader informed T&V. The reader, who’d passed by on Monday, and snapped this photo, witnessed as a moving truck was parked outside while the firehouse appeared empty.

Town & Village then reached out to the FDNY to ask if the firehouse would be shut down or relocated but got no answer.

However, a man who answered the door for our reporter later said it was just in the midst of a renovation. The man, who said he was a contractor, said things were already being moved back into the building, where all three floors are apparently “all new.” Asked where the firefighters were during the project, he said they were sharing space with another firehouse though he didn’t know which one.