Police Watch: Senior arrested for ‘extortion,’ Man busted for Ainsworth burglary

SENIOR CHARGED WITH HOLDING PHONE FOR RANSOM NEAR STUY TOWN
Police arrested 71-year-old El Shaday Yova for alleged grand larceny by extortion at the corner of Avenue C and East 20th Street on Tuesday, August 14 at 5:53 p.m. The victim told police that he left his phone in a taxi and when he called his number, Yova allegedly answered and said that he wanted a reward for finding the phone. Police said that Yova agreed to meet the victim in front of 321 Avenue C to claim a reward, and prior to getting arrested, the victim said that Yova refused to give him his cell phone back until he had the money. Yova was also charged with possession of stolen property.

SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR AINSWORTH BURGLARY
Police arrested a second suspect in connection with an alleged burglary at the Ainsworth at 111 East 18th Street that took place in July. Police arrested 26-year-old Hnsel Devron for the burglary on Monday, August 13 at 3:30 p.m. inside the 13th Precinct.

Police said that Devron and one other person who wasn’t arrested pried open a side door at the bar and entered the building without permission on July 12 around 9 p.m. They reportedly walked out of the bar with two bags containing property. Police did not have further information about what property was taken. The bar was reportedly closed to the public but still contained several liquor bottles. Police also said that technicians were able to lift fingerprints from the door and matched them to Devron.

Town & Village previously reported that 34-year-old Hector Rosario was arrested for the burglary at the time of the incident. Rosario was allegedly acting as the lookout while Devron and a third suspect reportedly broke into the bar. Police caught Rosario three blocks away at the corner of Union Square East and East 15th Street and charged him with possession of stolen property.

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Opinion: Strikes and the city

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

There are valid reasons to support a candidate running for governor this year other than Andrew Cuomo. He has certainly failed to reign in corruption in Albany as he promised he would. That is principally because he has been weak on changing campaign contribution laws and gargantuan political donations. These are the very laws that have enabled him to build a bulging $31M campaign war chest. He was slow to try to bring together warring factions of the Democratic majority in the State Senate, so much so that the Republican Party with fewer elected members has maintained control of that House for the past number of years thwarting pro-tenant and pro-consumer legislation in favor of big business.

Governor Cuomo has refused to increase taxes, even by a dime, on the wealthiest one percent in New York State while vital social service and education programs have been underfunded for lack of resources. He has tried to evade responsibility for the deteriorating condition of our mass transit system even though he controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). He has unnecessarily ramped up the feud with Mayor De Blasio, displaying an unflattering vindictive streak.

However, he cannot be taken to task, as “Sex and the City” actress turned governor candidate Cynthia Nixon has tried to do, over the issue of allowing municipal employees to go on strike. Some of us vividly remember the devastating strikes in New York City by the transportation workers, the sanitation workers and public school teachers in the 1960s and ‘70s. We can recall how difficult it was getting around the five boroughs during the transit strikes and the mounds of rotting garbage on the streets during the sanitation strikes. Fortunately, fire fighters and police never went down that road, and that is largely because of the Taylor Law, which Ms. Nixon wants to abolish.

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National Night Out Against Crime

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT AGAINST CRIME was held by the 13th Precinct Community Council at Peter’s Field playground last Thursday evening, providing the neighborhood with an annual barbecue and block party, though this year’s ended early due to a storm. (Pictured) Some of the event’s organizers: Carol Schachter, Pat Sallin, Frank Scala, president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, NYC Department for the Aging Assistant Commissioner Eileen Mullarkey, who presented a proclamation, and the precinct’s Executive Officer Ernesto Castro

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

National Night Out Against Crime, an annual block party aimed at bringing members of law enforcement agencies and community members together, was cut short this year due to a thunderstorm. However, before the blackening sky shut things down last Tuesday evening, the event held by the 13th Precinct Community Council in the Peter’s Field playground on Second Avenue in Gramercy managed to draw a steady stream of neighbors.

As always, participants got to speak with NYPD officials and representatives from other agencies and local businesses and nonprofits at informational tables over plates of free food. There were also free activities for children.

The storm was no joke, though, as Gothamist reported last Wednesday that three people had been struck by lightning.

But prior to the event shutting down after two hours instead of the usual three, in keeping with tradition, a representative from the mayor’s office brought a proclamation.

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To feed or not to feed the squirrels

That is one of the questions asked by SPS after another child gets attacked by squirrel in Stuy Town

A squirrel forages for food in a garbage can in this photo taken last year. (Photo by Brian P. Loesch)

By Sabina Mollot

This one’s a hard nut to crack.

After yet another child was injured by a squirrel in Stuyvesant Town (in this case scratched), Blackstone is asking for residents’ thoughts on what to do with the property’s unofficial mascots.

Nearly a year ago, a child was scratched in the face while playing in a Stuy Town playground, and in the more recent incident, another child was scratched. Two summers ago, three different mothers reported that their children were bitten by squirrels. According to Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town and CEO of StuyTown Property Services, there was another scratch incident this year in April as well.

In the most recent incident, about two weeks ago, Hayduk said the child was behind a playset at Playground 8 near First Avenue, also known as the train playground, when it happened. While the area where the young resident was at the time isn’t seen by a security camera, both parents later told Hayduk that a squirrel had been looking for food inside the child’s stroller. Upon seeing the stroller’s owner, the squirrel jumped out, clawing the child in its bid for freedom. Hayduk said he doesn’t know the child’s gender or where he or she was scratched, but does know that the child was promptly whisked off to a doctor. Asked if the injury was serious, Hayduk indicated he didn’t think it was appropriate to decide if it was or wasn’t, adding, “I don’t want to understate it.”

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Most 2-bedroom apts. in NYC unaffordable to current residents

ST buildings

In the 10009 zip code, the average asking rent is $3,610.

By Sabina Mollot

New Yorkers looking to grow their families should take note: Two-bedroom apartments located in over half of the zip codes in this city are unaffordable based on what those areas’ current residents earn.

RentHop, an apartment listings website that often conducts studies on neighborhood trends (from dog poop offenses to where there are the most rat sightings) has concluded the lack of affordability based on current asking rents in each zip code.

The study, released in July, notes that affordability is based on whether a household earns 40 times the amount of what a month’s rent costs in their annual incomes, which would mean about 30 percent of the household’s income goes toward rent. Some landlords require tenants to earn this much before leasing to them.

Using this formula, of 52 percent of the zip codes looked into, median rents for two-bedroom apartments were not only unaffordable, but they exceeded half the household income, effectively rent-burdening the occupants.

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Stuyvesant Town author makes debut with novel about biblical scapegoats

By Sabina Mollot

Andrew Grell, a longtime resident of Stuyvesant Town, has made his writing debut with a humorous science fiction novel called Scapegoats: The Goat Protocols. The book was released earlier this summer by Golden Fleece, small publishing house in Virginia that donates portions of its profits to charitable causes, especially animal-oriented ones.

For Grell, who has a career in calculating fraud detection, the 134-page book was his first major writing undertaking. Though he wrote it recently, he first got the idea 20 years ago.

The inspiration behind it was the Scapegoats of Leviticus 16:21, that were forced to bear the sins of the camp. In the story, “the goats become telepathic as a result of their psychic overload.” They become sentient, actively pushing people to do good things to counter-balance the weight of the bad deeds they carry. The book takes place in the present day.

“It’s the only example of the Old Testament’s vicarious expiation of sin, so I played with the idea,” said Grell.

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City puts cap on apps listing for-hire vehicles

Mayor Bill de Blasio, with 32BJ SEIU union members at Union Square, cheers the new legislation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined union advocates, taxi drivers and other local elected officials in Union Square last Thursday to celebrate the passage of legislation that puts a cap on the number of cars allowed through for-hire vehicle apps.

The cap is meant to address congestion and driver wages, as well as the weakening of the taxi industry, and won’t have any impact on the number of for-hire vehicles already on the road. The legislation additionally includes a new minimum compensation rule for drivers, and the one-year cap does not apply to wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

“The city is sending a clear message: we’re putting hard-working New Yorkers ahead of corporations,” de Blasio said. “The City Council has spoken boldly, and now we can act. We are taking immediate action for the benefit of more than 100,000 hard-working New Yorkers who deserve a fair wage, and halting the flood of new cars grinding our streets to a halt.”

The legislation, sponsored by Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin and which the mayor signed on Tuesday, will also initiate a study to comprehensively manage the industry in order to reduce congestion and protect workers by ensuring fair pay.

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Preservationists blast tech hub plan

Site of the future Tech Hub on East 14th Street at Irving Place (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Neighborhood preservationists were disappointed that City Council’s approval for the proposed Tech Hub on East 14th Street at Irving Place last Thursday didn’t include specific rezoning to protect the area south of the new center, while Council Member Carlina Rivera celebrated the unanimous vote for the plan, claiming that the city is working on putting neighborhood protections in place. The City Council’s Committee on Land Use approved the project at the beginning of the month and the full Council approved the measure last Thursday.

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation executive director Andrew Berman criticized Rivera, who represents the area on East 14th where the new tech center will be built as well as the neighborhood to the south, for voting yes on the plan, noting that she campaigned on the issue and promised she would only vote for it with specific protections for the surrounding neighborhood.

“The City Council’s deal approves the mayor’s Tech Hub with just a fraction of a fraction of the protections the surrounding neighborhood needs and called for, and which Rivera promised to condition her vote upon,” Berman said. “The approval of the Tech Hub will accelerate the transformation of the adjacent Greenwich Village and East Village neighborhoods into an extension of ‘Midtown South’ and ‘Silicon Alley,’ which many developers and real estate interests have already begun to call them. We are seeing 300-foot tall office and condo towers going up in this area and 300-room hotels being built, which are completely out of character for these neighborhoods, with many more to come.”

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Blueprint for affordable housing

WatersidePlaza

By Council Member Keith Powers and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein

As rents continue to climb, the city is working to create, preserve, and secure affordable housing for New Yorkers. Last week, we announced a breakthrough.

In each of our first years in office, we have had the honor of working on a deal that achieves something many dream of but too rarely comes true: a rent reduction for tenants. Over the past several months, we have been involved in negotiations with Waterside Plaza ownership, the Waterside Tenants Association (WTA), led by President Janet Handal, and the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) on an affordable housing preservation deal that does just that.

The proposed deal provides substantial relief for rent-burdened tenants, permanently freezes the rent in dozens of apartments, and preserves affordable housing on a generational scale through 2098. The guaranteed 75 years of rent protections for hundreds of apartments combined with the immediate relief to tenants whose rent has been steadily increasing demonstrate a groundbreaking model for affordable housing in New York City.

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 16

Aug16 toon Vader

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Honorable mensch’un for Ravitch

What is a Mensch? I wanted to get this right so I did a little research. The online Urban Dictionary says: “The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than … a sense of what is right, responsible.” (emphasis added).

I’m casting my vote for Richard Ravitch, the owner of Waterside Plaza, who proposed a plan to the city that would freeze or roll back rents of some residents who are paying a burdensome portion of their income – defined as more than 30 percent — for rent (“Affordability deal proposed for Waterside,” T&V, Aug. 9).

I was in college when the Waterside development was announced and served as a student member of an ad-hoc committee convened by the school to explore how this new, middle income housing complex would impact the college and how the college might best prepare to serve this population of potential new students. I’m quite certain I contributed very little to the discussions, but people much smarter than myself recognized the ripple effect and saw the opportunities and challenges before them.

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Police Watch: Men arrested for masturbating, filming under woman’s skirt

MAN CHARGED WITH MASTURBATING IN FRONT OF WOMAN AT AUGUSTUS ST. GAUDENS BATHROOM
Police arrested 23-year-old Trevon Stroman for allegedly trapping a woman inside the public restroom at the Augustus St. Gaudens playground while masturbating on Saturday, August 11 at 6:55 p.m.

The victim told police that she was in the public restroom in the playground at the corner of Second Avenue and East 20th Street and when she tried to leave, Stroman entered the bathroom and closed the door. The victim told police that Stroman was also shirtless and he allegedly had his pants down and was masturbating while holding the door shut. The victim said that she then yelled for help, at which point Stroman moved away from the door.

The victim as well as a witness told police that Stroman was still naked and masturbating when he left the bathroom. Stroman was charged with unlawful imprisonment and public lewdness.

MAN ALLEGEDLY FILMED UNDER WOMAN’S SKIRT AT UNION SQUARE SUBWAY
Police arrested 37-year-old Carlos Rivera for allegedly filming under a woman’s skirt inside the Union Square station at Union Square East and East 14th Street on Thursday, August 9 at 5:56 p.m. Rivera allegedly was walking up the stairs in the station behind a woman in her 20s while holding his cell phone facing him with the camera function in record mode.

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Woman choked, beaten at Good Stuff diner

Aug16 Choking suspect 2

Second suspect, who police say choked the victim

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for two people who choked and beat a woman after a third suspect, who’s since been arrested, allegedly stole her phone and took part in the assault, at the Good Stuff diner.

Police said that around 4:40 a.m. on Sunday, August 5, the victim, a 23-year-old woman, got into an argument with the three suspects, two male and one female, at the diner, which is west of Sixth Avenue at 109 West 14th Street. The woman had been recording the suspects and upon seeing this, one of them tried to snatch the phone from her hand to delete the video.

One of the male suspects, later identified as 31-year-old Senior Caswell of Brooklyn, then forcibly grabbed the phone, while the second male suspect started choking the victim, placing her head between his arms until she was unconscious, and then threw her to the floor. Continue reading

Burglar takes cash and iPad from Irving Place restaurant

Burglary suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who burglarized Adalya, a Mediterranean restaurant on Irving Place at around 12:30 a.m. on Friday, August 3.

A restaurant employee told police that a neighbor informed him, at 6:30 a.m., that the restaurant’s side door was open. It was then discovered that $500, an iPad and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s was missing.

The suspect, seen in surveillance footage taking the cash from a register and the other goods, is light-skinned with dark hair. It isn’t clear how he got into the restaurant, located at 55 Irving Place and East 18th Street.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com.

Three people reported missing over the weekend

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding three people who were reported missing over the weekend.

Virginia Proto, 80, who lives in the East Village at 94 East 1st Street, was last seen on Saturday at 12:15 p.n. leaving a relative’s house at 308 Avenue U in Brooklyn. She is 5’5” tall, 130 pounds, with a light complexion, long red hair and brown eyes. She is believed to have an ID holder around her neck.

Paul Greenwald, 70, was last seen leaving Bellevue Hospital at 462 First Avenue on Saturday at 2 p.m. Greenwald, who is homeless, has blue eyes, gray hair, is approximately 6’0” tall, approximately 200 lbs. He was last wearing a red shirt, black pants, black sandals and white socks, with glasses on his forehead.

Nurys Herrand, 49, was last seen at her home at 617 East 9th Street, on Wednesday, August 8. She is white Hispanic, 5’03,” and 185 lbs. She was wearing a floral-print dress and black flipflops.

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Rosalee Isaly, president, SPNA, dies

Rosalee Isaly with a plaque from Dvorak’s former home

By Sabina Mollot

Rosalee Isaly, the longtime president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, died at the age of 81 on July 24.

Isaly, who’d been involved with the civic group for nearly as long as it’s been around, recently hosted a 50th anniversary gala for the SPNA at the historic church overlooking the park.

However, less than a month after the event, she learned she had pancreatic cancer, and according to her son Jason, Isaly died 16 days later. She died while staying with family members in Chicago, where she was born and lived before moving to New York City’s Stuyvesant Square neighborhood. Her family held a funeral service for Isaly at the St. Barnabas Church in Chicago and she was buried in Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Under Isaly’s leadership, the SPNA worked to preserve local historic properties as well as revitalize Stuyvesant Square Park after a period of decline. This included implementing free summer programming like tango classes and jazz concerts and pushing for years to see a multi-million project to restore the park’s historic wrought-iron fence restored. When Isaly joined the group, it was to protest razing of neighborhood brownstones by Beth Israel, which was then scooping up properties to expand the hospital’s footprint. Continue reading