Hoylman wants audit of MTA over ‘dismal’ bus service in district

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Following a report that showed the buses in his district were the slowest in the city, State Senator Brad Hoylman has called for an audit into the MTA’s bus service and wait times.

Hoylman made the request via a letter to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Monday, calling the local bus service “dismal.” His district, the 27th, includes Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, the East Village, midtown, East Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, Columbus Circle and the Upper West Side.

“Here in my own district, we’ve nicknamed some of the buses across town: The Turtle, The Sloth and The Slug,” said Hoylman, of the M42, the M50 and the M23, respectively.

One of those buses, the M23, is a two-time recipient of the Straphangers Campaign’s infamous Pokey award, which is given to the slowest route in the city.

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Letters to the editor, June 29

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Not everyone should have a shot

I read your editorial of Thursday, June 15, 2017.  Given its headline, “Outdated rule makes running for office even more difficult,” I thought I’d be reading about the State Supreme Court Nominating Convention, which one former district leader described as byzantine.

Instead, I read about a so-called “archaic” rule that candidates “are at risk of being booted off the ballot” for duplicate signatures. Well, after slipping through a gauntlet of Vanessa T. Aronson’s petitioners to enter the Stuyvesant Town gates at 18th Street and First Avenue, I ran into my upstairs neighbor who offered me a big handshake. We started talking and soon he was yelling at the petitioners.

I said, “Dude, what’s up? They’re entitled to try to get signatures.”

He wanted no part of it and I had to hold him back from going after the two of them.

I said, “What did they say? Did they demean you, or your family?”

I would have gone over to the petitioners and tried to mop it up had he given me some grist. Instead, he then turned on me while the petitioners yelled, “Go Democrats!”

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Section of Stuyvesant Cove Park inspires short dance film

Dancer Megan Nordle performs at Stuyvesant Cove Park.

By Sabina Mollot

Recently, a Stuyvesant Town journalist and artist found inspiration in a section of her neighborhood that’s so small it’s likely to get overlooked even by people who pass it by all the time.

That plot of land is a rocky outcropping of the shoreline that’s covered in sand and a known hangout for ducks and geese.

Karen Loew, who refers to the spot in Stuyvesant Cove Park as “the beach,” first found herself drawn to it for a simple reason. She liked it. But after learning about the controversial history of the location as well as the park itself from a neighbor, Loew knew she wanted to film it. She went on to put together an exhibition of photography as well as a short, dance film, called “No Man’s Land,” that will be shown at the 14th Street Y this summer.

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Police Watch: East Village woman stabbed, Man arrested for hitting cop with car

EAST VILLAGE WOMAN STABBED IN HOME INVASION
A man broke into a 31-year-old woman’s East Village apartment on Sunday night and stabbed her, The New York Post reported.
The victim, Cassidy Helmken, told police that she heard a knock around 8:30 p.m. and the man pushed his way into her apartment when she opened the door. Along with stabbing her, the attacker stole $500 in cash from the victim. Helmken is being treated at Bellevue Hospital for a collapsed lung and several gashes. Gothamist noted that Helmken’s apartment is on Avenue B near East 13th Street.

MAN ARRESTED FOR HITTING COP WITH CAR
Police arrested 40-year-old Raheem Starr after he hit a police officer with his car while leaving a parking lot at East 23rd Street and the FDR last Sunday around 3 a.m. Police were responding to a disorderly group of people who had just left a party boat and while police were attempting to disperse the crowd, Starr allegedly rammed through a barricade and clipped the officer, causing minor injuries to his knee and hands. The officer fired one round from his gun after the car hit him while trying to flee, but no one was hit by the shot. A 29-year-old man was also arrested but police said that the case is sealed and had no further information on that suspect. Starr was charged with reckless endangerment.

Robbery suspects

ROBBERY AT WEST 23RD ST. F/M STATION
The NYPD is asking the public’s assistance identifying two men who robbed a woman on the subway after showing her a gun.
At West 23rd and Sixth Avenue on Thursday, June 15 at 9:30 p.m., police said that the two men approached the 22-year-old woman on the downtown platform and asked if she could cash a check for one of them. The victim declined, at which time one of the men lifted his shirt and displayed what appeared to be a silver gun. The suspect then demanded that the victim go to the nearby Chase Bank, where she deposited a check and withdrew $600 cash, which was given to the other suspect, who was wearing a white hat. Once this transaction was completed, the suspects fled the location. There were no reported injuries as a result of this incident.
The suspects are described as black men, approximately in their mid 20s. One individual is 6’4” tall, weighing 200 lbs. and the second individual is 5’10” tall, weighing 170 lbs. The surveillance photos were taken from the subway station.
Anyone with information in regards to this robbery 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 nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

MAN ARRESTED FOR GRAMERCY BURGLARIES
Police arrested 48-year-old Earl Brown for burglary in front of 15 East 18th Street last Monday at 1:18 a.m. A witness working at 873 Broadway told police that he was working late when he heard a loud banging from the business next door. He said that he saw a man wearing a white shirt and a Yankees hat repeatedly ramming his shoulder into the door in an attempt to gain entry. Police said that Brown also rang the doorbell of the witness’s office, allowing the witness to see him through the peephole. The witness then called 911 and a suspect fitting the witness’s description was stopped at the side exit of 15 East 18th Street. Brown matched the description provided by the witness and he was allegedly in possession of a stolen Apple MacBook, a stolen Dell laptop and a stolen Canon digital camera.
Brown was later charged with an additional burglary from 115 East 23rd Street where he allegedly damaged the magnetic doors and swiped property at an earlier date.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SWIPING TIPS AT SECOND AVENUE PIZZA PLACE
Police arrested 35-year-old Raul Galvez for petit larceny inside Mike’s Pizza at 415 Second Avenue last Sunday at 8:09 p.m. Police said that Galvez entered the restaurant and stuck his hand inside the tip jar on the counter. He allegedly removed cash and fled from the location but he was apprehended outside the restaurant by the business owner.

MAN NABBED FOR POT AT ASSER LEVY PLAYGROUND
Police arrested 31-year-old Ryan Betances for possession of marijuana at the Asser Levy Playground last Wednesday at 5:01 p.m. Police said that Betances was smoking alleged marijuana while inside a public park while there were children present on the playground. Betances also allegedly had a jar containing loose marijuana inside his bag and a small bag of alleged marijuana inside his wallet.

MAN ARRESTED FOR DRUG DEAL IN UNION SQUARE PARK
Police arrested 37-year-old Douglas Zimbler and 31-year-old Sean Keenan for a drug deal in Union Square Park last Wednesday at 6 p.m. Police said that Zimbler sold a quantity of alleged crystal meth to Keenan. Both men were charged with possession of a controlled substance and Zimbler was additional charged with the sale of a controlled substance. Police said that Keenan was also in possession of a pipe with alleged crystal meth residue.

MEN BUSTED FOR SELLING ‘LOOSIES’
Police arrested a 34-year-old man in front of the men’s shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Wednesdayfor selling loose Newport cigarettes without a vendor’s license. Police also arrested a 50-year-old man for selling loose Newport cigarettes outside the shelter. The suspects were charged with violating tax law and unlawful peddling.

‘Safe Haven’ for homeless to open on East 17th St.

327 East 17th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The city is planning to open a new “Safe Haven” facility to house chronically homeless individuals in a Stuyvesant Square building that’s owned by Mount Sinai.

The building was previously used by Beth Israel as an HIV/AIDS hospice/residential treatment center. It is currently empty, located at 327 East 17th Street between First and Second Avenues. At one time, the site was a home rented by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, though it was later demolished.

Word of the proposal, which is aimed at housing 28 homeless people and helping them transition to regular housing, got out on Tuesday with an email from Community Board 6 to various community organizations.

According to the email, CB6 has plenty of questions about the plan, including why it’s coming to the area when there’s already an 850-bed shelter on East 30th Street and other, local smaller shelters, and concern over the location’s proximity to neighborhood schools. The email also noted there was no guarantee the homeless individuals would be people from the district.

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Rent will go up 1.25, 2 percent

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Tenants play limbo at the vote. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The city’s rent-stabilized renters will be seeing increases of 1.25 percent for one-year leases and 2 percent for two-year leases.

The increases were voted on by the Rent Guidelines Board on Tuesday evening, after two years of rent freezes for one-year leases, frustrating tenants as well as landlords.

Tenant advocates and community groups were pushing for at least another freeze and in many cases a rollback, but owner representatives felt that the increases didn’t go far enough.

Tenant member Harvey Epstein said in his remarks prior to introducing the proposal that ultimately passed that he and Sheila Garcia, the second tenant member on the board, knew tenants needed a rollback or at least a freeze, but he said that neither were possible at this year’s vote.

“It’s our job to do the best we can and live with the political realities,” Epstein said. “We take this job seriously and today is the first day to move to a better system.”

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Tenants and homeless protest side by side at ‘Cuomoville’

A protest for stronger rent laws spanned three days outside the governor’s midtown office. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Tenant activists, including some who are homeless, gathered in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midtown office for three days last week from Wednesday evening to Saturday to demand rent reform in Albany.

A coalition of tenant groups organized the efforts, including New York Communities for Change, Tenant Power NY, Community Voices Heard and others. The groups dubbed the temporary encampment on the sidewalk “Cuomoville,” and linked the governor’s failure to enact stronger rent laws with the increase in homelessness throughout the city.

Gigi Morgan, an activist from Brooklyn who currently lives in a women’s shelter in Harlem, was at the protest on Friday morning after having slept there Thursday night and participating on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Garodnick says he’d work with NYPD on surveillance bill

Councilmember Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

In March, Council Member Dan Garodnick, along with Council Member Vanessa Gibson of the Bronx, introduced a police oversight bill that’s aimed at making the technology the NYPD uses for its anti-terror efforts and the policies under which they are used more transparent.

But it was last Wednesday, when the Council members held a rally and hearing to push the bill, dubbed the POST Act, when the NYPD as well as the mayor responded to slam it, arguing that it would put too much sensitive information in the hands of terrorists.

Garodnick has since reiterated an earlier claim that he was willing the work with police to tweak the bill, adding that police’s bashing of the act as “a blueprint for harm” has amounted to fear-mongering.

Other opinions have already varied just as widely. A Wall Street Journal editorial with the headline “A Terrorist’s Guide to New York City” cited last year’s bombing in Chelsea while calling Garodnick and the bill’s supporters “anti-anti-terror stalwarts.” Meanwhile, an opinion piece in the Daily News called the legislation a much needed step considering previously reported incidents of NYPD surveillance incidents of students and activists.

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Opinion: From Oswald to Hodgkinson

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Although separated by 54 years, the connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and James T. Hodgkinson is all too familiar.

They both possessed a legally acquired rifle, and for reasons only known to them fired shots at the government of the United States with devastating consequences.

In the case of Oswald, he bought his rifle through an ordinary mail order transaction and Hodgkinson legally purchased his weapon as well… no questions asked.

Oswald fired shots at the president of the United States and Hodgkinson fired dozens of shots at members of Congress last week. Both shooters were killed before they could answer questions or to stand trial for their actions.

But the most telling similarity of these shootings is that after more than a half century and over 1.5 million shooting deaths of famous and anonymous Americans, the government of this country is still unwilling to come to grips with the plague of ever more lethal firearms in the hands of ever more people.

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Town & Village co-hosts City Council debate at Waterside Plaza

Attendees at the debate Thursday evening (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

All eleven candidates in the District 4 City Council race gathered at Waterside Plaza on Thursday evening for a debate co-sponsored by Town & Village, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management, covering issues important to the neighborhood.

Democrats Alec Hartman, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson, Maria Castro, Bessie Schachter and Barry Shapiro and Republicans Melissa Jane (MJ) Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary discussed affordable housing, concerns for seniors, the fate of small businesses and the sanitation garage planned for the neighborhood over the course of the two-hour debate. WTA President Janet Handal and T&V editor Sabina Mollot moderated the event, each asking two questions of the nine Democrats and two Republicans on the stage, who are running to replace term-limited Councilmember Dan Garodnick.

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Police Watch: June 22

LONG ISLAND MAN CHARGED WITH RAPES IN GRAMERCY, MURRAY HILL
Earlier this month, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced the indictment of 31-year-old Long Island resident Cameron McDermott for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting two unconscious women at apartments in Manhattan, including one in Gramercy. McDermott was arrested for allegedly exposing himself in public in Garden City and during the investigation, police found alleged videos and photographs on McDermott’s computer and hard drives which depicted the suspect sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on eight occasions in 2010. The DA’s office said that he also recorded and photographed himself raping and sexually assaulting a second unconscious woman in an apartment on the Upper East Side on five different occasions in 2013. McDermott was charged with predatory sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse and unlawful surveillance.

PAIR ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT OUTSIDE STUY TOWN
Police arrested 31-year-old Yulianna Urbas and 26-year-old Carlos Valdez for assault near Stuyvesant Town. Urbas was apprehended at Avenue C and East 18th Street and Valdez was arrested on the same block but on First Avenue. The victim said that Urbas allegedly struck him multiple times, punching him in the face and causing pain to his head and scratches to his neck. The victim said that Valdez punched him on the left side of his face.

TEEN ARRESTED FOR STOLEN PROPERTY IN STUY TOWN
Police arrested a 15-year-old boy for possession of stolen property and possession of marijuana in front of 274 First Avenue Loop last Wednesday at 10:40 p.m. Police said that the teen was in possession of the victim’s property without permission and when he was searched, he was also in possession of a glass pipe with marijuana residue. Because the suspect is a minor, no further information about the incident was available.

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Town & Village co-hosts City Council debate at Waterside Plaza

On Thursday night, an evening of debate among the candidates running to replace Dan Garodnick in the City Council was held at Waterside Plaza. The event’s hosts were Town & Village newspaper, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management with the event taking place outdoors. A story covering the views of the various candidates on affordable housing, small businesses, issues affecting seniors, and the sanitation garage the city plans to build at the Brookdale campus, is forthcoming. Scroll down to see some photos from the debate, where all seats on the plaza were filled with a mixed crowd of community residents and candidates’ supporters.

Richard Ravitch, owner of Waterside Plaza and former lieutenant governor, makes opening remarks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Crowd at the debate

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal, event co-host

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Steinberg shoots down RSA’s argument that MCIs are ‘laughable’

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

At a Manhattan hearing of the Rent Guidelines Board, where both landlords and tenants were invited each year to give testimony on their respective suffering, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg took umbrage at one owner representative’s argument that MCIs are not sufficient rent increases.

She spoke up after Rent Stabilization Association president Jack Freund, whose organization represents landlords throughout the city, said at the hearing that Major Capital Improvements (MCIs) and preferential rent increases don’t offer enough income to sustain landlords.

“You cannot substitute MCI increases for maintenance and operating rent increases,” he said. “MCIs have nothing to do with this issue and the suggestion that preferential rents somehow should play into this, that you can eliminate the need for rent increases because owners can increase rent (with MCIs and preferential rent increases), is a ludicrous notion. Both of those suggestions, that MCIs and preferential rent increases, can somehow substitute for a necessary, across-the-board rent increase, are just laughable.”

Later, Steinberg, who said she’d originally planned to read pre-written testimony, changed her mind in order to respond to Freund.

“Perhaps he forgot that MCIs get onto a tenant’s rent in perpetuity,” she said during her testimony. “It goes way beyond recouping the landlord’s costs and if you’re a tenant living in a building and have received several MCIs that get added permanently on top of the RGB increases, that adds up really fast. Maybe it’s laughable for the landlord but it sure isn’t for tenants.”

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Letters to the editor, June 22

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

From ShopRite to shopper shuttles

Dear Editor,

I would like to add to the conversation regarding a supermarket on East 14th Street off First Avenue.

First let me say how pleased I am with the service, responsiveness, attitude and tone provided by our new owners and management. Kudos to them for taking into consideration tenants’ needs and interests. I am fortunate to have a car and therefore shop in Brooklyn. However, I “fill in” with items purchased at our local grocers. I understand why many people no longer purchase some items because of the exaggerated prices, sometime double what I pay in Brooklyn. Double.

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All candidates set to attend T&V/Waterside Council debate

Democrats Alec Hartman, Bessie Schachter, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson and Barry Shapiro and Republicans Melissa Jane Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary (Not pictured) Maria Castro

Town & Village has partnered with the Waterside Tenants Association and the management of Waterside Plaza to present an evening of debate between the candidates running for the City Council, District 4. The event will be held on Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m. for mingling with the candidates, with the debate beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. This has become a hotly contested race with 11 candidates hoping to win the seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick. All known registered candidates of both parties have been invited and have confirmed they’ll attend.

The candidates are Democrats Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Jeffrey Mailman, Bessie Schachter, Vanessa Aronson, Rachel Honig, Alec Hartman, Barry Shapiro and Maria Castro as well as Republicans Rebecca Harary and Melissa Jane Kronfeld.

The event will take place outdoors on the Plaza level with Janet Handal, the president of the Waterside Tenants Association, and Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot asking the candidates questions. Due to the number of candidates expected to participate, there will not likely be any time for additional questions from the audience.

If it rains, the event will take place inside 15 Waterside Plaza located on the Plaza. Waterside Plaza is east of the FDR Drive on the East River between 25th and 29th Streets. For directions, visit Waterside Plaza’s website. For more information about the event, contact Sabina Mollot at (212) 777-6611 x104 or editor@townvillage.net.