Child Victims Act finally passes

State Senator Brad Hoylman during floor debate for the Child Victims Act (Photo by State Senate Media)

By Sabina Mollot

Amidst of a flurry of progressive bill passing and signing in the state capitol, the long-denied Child Victims Act, sponsored by State Brad Hoylman, has finally passed both houses. With Governor Andrew Cuomo having already declared his support — even getting some backlash from the Archdiocese for his newly leftist leanings — the signing of the bill seems just a formality at this point.

The legislation’s language was amended this week to make it clear that secular as well as religious institutions could be held accountable for past incidents of abuse.

Last year it was passed in the Assembly, as it was the year before, but went nowhere in what was then a GOP-led State Senate. This year, however, the bill passed unanimously in the Upper House and nearly unanimously in the Assembly. Opposition to the bill, which has been around at least 13 years, largely had to do with the one-year lookback window of opportunity for starting a claim of abuse in instances where the statute of limitations has expired. The bill will also allow survivors of child sex abuse to file a civil suit against their abusers or institutions that enabled abuse until the age of 55. Currently the age limit is 23. The lookback window will apply to survivors older than 55 as well. Additionally, those abused at a public institution will no longer be required to file a notice of claim as a condition to filing a lawsuit.

Following the bill’s passage, Hoylman admitted he was not expecting to get unanimous support from his colleagues, although he did think it would pass based on the fact that a number of freshman senators had made the CVA part of their platforms. He also credited the bill’s success to new Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins as well as the activism of sex abuse survivors.

Continue reading

Bike-riding thugs knock man down and steal his phone in Flatiron

feb8bikegangrobbery

Some of the robbery suspects

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for 10 or possibly more people who, while on bikes, snatched a man’s cell phone after one of the cyclists ran into him.

It was on January 27 when the victim, a 45-year-old man, was at the corner of East 24th Street and Park Avenue South. The cyclists, who were described as young and may have been teenagers, approached him and one of them spat at the man. Another cyclist then ran into him, knocking the man to the ground. The victim’s iPhone tumbled out of his hand when he fell and when he tried to reach it, realized it was gone. The iPhone was valued a $800. It isn’t clear if the victim was injured.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls are confidential.

Letters to the editor, Jan. 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Another view of the new 20th Street

To the Editor:

I was surprised to read the letter describing chaos and danger on 20th Street due to the street redesign (“You don’t have to drive to hate 20th Street,” T&V, Jan. 17). I’ve never witnessed any of this. But if you are interested in street chaos, I recommend the intersection of 14th St and 1st Ave. There you can witness hundreds, perhaps thousands of pedestrians an hour, in crosswalks, dodging aggressive drivers. Personally I’ve witnessed two people get hit (one pedestrian, one bicyclist, fortunately no serious injuries).

On 20th Street, I see a street redesign, which citywide, will prioritize public space for pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit riders. I support bike lanes, bus lanes, expanded pedestrian space and light rail in this city.

Try this: dare to look at our streets with fresh eyes. Look at the cars passing on First Ave. See how many TLC license plates pass by. Stunning. Second, count how many cars, including the “For Hire” vehicles, which have only one person, the driver, in the car. Think about the public space, our streets, filled with this inefficient and dangerous form of transportation for so many individuals in individual cars. Then, look around and see how much space is devoted to parked cars.

Continue reading

Council approves Waterside affordability deal

jan31watersidefromstuyvesantcove

Waterside Plaza as seen from Stuyvesant Cove Park (Pictured last August) Photos by Sabina Mollot

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The City Council voted last Thursday to approve an agreement that will protect longtime Waterside Plaza tenants against substantial rent increases as part of a lease extension between the property and Housing Preservation and Development.

The agreement will allow tenants who have been living at the property since before Waterside left the Mitchell-Lama program and will be retiring soon to receive rent protections. City Council Member Keith Powers, who has been working with Assembly Member Harvey Epstein and the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development on negotiations for the deal for over a year, was able to negotiate an additional year with HPD so that tenants have until 2020 to retire and qualify for the rent protections, compared to 2019 when the plan was first announced.

“It’s not huge but it at least gives people who might be affected a better idea of how they should plan,” Powers said after the Council vote of the additional year.

Continue reading

Police Watch: Man arrested for robbery, Man charged with stealing hand truck

ACCUSED OF BREAKING WINDOW, MAN THEN ARRESTED FOR PREVIOUS ROBBERY
Police arrested 42-year-old Christopher Keppel for alleged criminal mischief in front of Papaya Dog at 239 First Avenue on Thursday, January 24 at 3:40 p.m. Police said that when Keppel was fighting with an unknown person, he punched the storefront of the business.

After searching the area, an employee of the business spotted Keppel and identified him as the person who had allegedly damaged the window. After Keppel was searched, police found that he was in possession of a bag with a white powder that was inside his boot. Keppel allegedly told police that the bag was his crack.

After he was arrested, Keppel was charged with a robbery that took place in front of 245 First Avenue on January 18 at 5:55 a.m. Police said that Keppel grabbed the victim’s cell phone from his hand and punched him in the face.

Continue reading

Opinion: Run, Bill, run

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Several weeks ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would be spending time away from City Hall with an ambitious national travel schedule promoting progressive policies which he believes would be good for the country and New York City. He then said that he has “not ruled out” a run for President in 2020. And then in answer to a reporter’s question about his pledge to serve all four years of his second term as mayor, de Blasio’s reply was that “Times have changed since 2017”.

The Democratic Party will have no shortage of candidates vying for the nomination to run against President Trump. There will be more than a dozen and most of those candidates will hold progressive views similar to de Blasio’s. That is the nature of the Democratic Party these days. The route to the nomination travels through the more progressive and liberal ideology espoused by persons such as Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris to name just a few. And although the nation’s electorate as a whole is more centrist, the first order of business for any Democratic aspirant is getting the nomination.

But back to Mayor de Blasio. He was re-elected in 2017. With term limits he cannot run for mayor again. His height (six feet, six inches) is a metaphor for his outsized political ambition and his self-esteem. But being mayor of the city that never sleeps, the largest in the nation, is not like any other job in politics. It is a 24/7 responsibility. It is about managing the affairs of this sprawling metropolis and the almost daily crises that arise. It goes with the territory.

Continue reading

Pair steals wallet from Gramercy laundromat employee

 

jan31 laundromat theft suspect2

Burglary suspect

Cops are looking for a man and a woman who worked together to swipe a wallet from an employee at a laundromat on East 18th Street west of First Avenue.

On Friday, January 18 at about 10 a.m., the pair strolled into an employees-only area of Prestige II Laundry at 351 East 18th Street. After finding a wallet containing cash and a debit card, they fled the shop.

The suspects are described as a black man, 40-45 years old, 6’2″ tall and 220 lbs., and a black woman who’s 30-35 years old, 5’6″ tall and 150 lbs.

jan31 laundromat theft suspect1

Second burglary suspect

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

 

Teens harass elderly couple, assault man at McDonald’s across from Stuy Town

jan31 mcdonalds assault suspect1

First assault suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for three teenagers believed to be responsible for a brutal beatdown at the McDonald’s at 404 East 14th Street.

According to police, on Saturday, December 29 at 8 p.m., the three teens were harassing an elderly couple at the restaurant, located across the street from Stuyvesant Town. At some point, another customer, a 44-year-old man, tried to stop them and the group then turned on him instead, punching and kicking him in his face and on his body. The attackers then ran out, heading east.

jan31 mcdonalds assault suspect2

Second assault suspect

The victim, who had cuts on his face along with pain and bruises on his face and body; was taken to Beth Israel, and later released.

The first suspect is described as male, black, 14 to 17 years old, 5’7″ tall and 140 lbs. He last seen wearing a pink hooded sweater, black sweatpants and black and white sneakers.

The second suspect is described as female, black, 14 to 17 years old, 5’8″ and 135 lbs., with red or light brown hair. She was last seen wearing gray hooded sweater, a black jacket, red and yellow pants and gray and white sneakers.

jan31 mcdonalds assault suspect3

Third assault suspect

The third suspect is male, black, 14 to 17 years old, 5’5″, 170 lbs., and had eyeglasses. He was last seen wearing a red hooded sweater, a beige jacket and blue jeans.

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

L train service to be disrupted nights and weekends through March 18

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Despite all the cheering about the L train shutdown being averted, riders will be without service on most of the line on nights and weekends through the end of March.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced in an online advisory on Friday that unlike the revised L train plan, which will only be done on one tunnel at a time, the current project, which starts on Monday, January 28, will require a total shutdown of service between Eighth Avenue in Manhattan and Broadway Junction in Brooklyn. One reason given for the shutdown was that work is being done to repair the track (including removing and replacing all 16,000 feet of rails, plates and ties supporting the track) with specialized equipment that needs access to the full track. The other reason cited for the full shutdown has to do with where switches, which are also being worked on, are located.

“The tracks south of Bedford Ave. have an ‘interlocking plant,’ also known as a ‘double crossover,’ which is what allows us to switch trains from one track to another,” the MTA explained. “The switches and signals that form this interlocking are located on both tracks.”

Continue reading

Opinion: Now’s the time to speak up

By Assembly Member Harvey Epstein

New York is often held up as beacon of progressivism, but the truth is that our state has not been a leader on enacting criminal justice and re-entry reforms, fairly funding our schools, increasing voter access and protecting and amplifying the voices of groups that have traditionally been excluded from the political process. This year, with decisive Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature, we will have a unique opportunity to go from a laggard to a leader on many important issues by making substantial changes in state law that will have implications for decades to come.

Every issue the state government is dealing with this year is permeated by the issues of race and racism, which are ever present in our society. We need to hear from people with diverse perspectives and experiences. It is critical that people who share a social justice and racial justice lens engage in the legislative process.

Please get involved. Whether you care about single payer healthcare or the renewal and expansion of the rent laws, criminal justice reforms, or fixing the MTA –– pick your issue and dig in. Learn about the bills, think about the policy implications, consider how your community may be impacted and speak up: tell your representatives what you want to see.

Continue reading

New Year brings spike in crime

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman at the 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, January 15 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The beginning of the year has brought a spike in crime to the 13th Precinct, with an almost 14 percent increase in the last week due to a string of burglaries and robberies.

“The good news is that I made them stop the shutdown for the L train in anticipation of the increase in crime that we’ve seen lately,” Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman joked at the precinct’s most recent community council meeting on Tuesday, January 15.

Hellman, the precinct’s commanding officer, told neighborhood residents in attendance at the council’s first monthly meeting of the year that the last week was the most high-volume for crime since he took over the precinct at the beginning of last year.

In addition to the arrest of Bryan Lincoln, who was collared for three alleged attempted robberies in Union Square on January 11, Hellman said that two suspects who haven’t been arrested were responsible for four burglaries within a three-block radius in the precinct that same day, breaking into businesses while they were closed and grabbing cash from the registers.

Continue reading

Fewer heat complaints in NYC, but chilliest renters are remaining that way

The bomb cyclone of 2018 is believed to be the reason for a dip in 311 calls about a lack of heat in 2019. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

With temperatures over the weekend and stretching into Monday and Tuesday feeling absolutely bone-chilling, it may seem hard to believe that the amount of heat complaints made by New Yorkers this year is dwarfed by the number of similar calls made last year by the same time period. The reason is most likely that last year, there was the “bomb cyclone” causing heat-related 311 calls to spike.

RentHop, an apartment listings service, has been conducting annual studies to determine which neighborhoods in New York have the most freezing renters based on the volume of 311 calls about lack of heat. What they have found, in comparing the 2019 data to 2018, is that it’s mostly the same neighborhoods each year with a direct correlation showing neighborhoods with rents lower than the city’s median (around $3,000 for a one-bedroom unit) producing more heat complaints.

The study also came up with a formula that “de-dupes” or ignores duplicate complaints (more than one from one address on the same day) as well as a formula that “normalizes,” taking into account that some neighborhoods are bigger than others by calculating unique complaints per 1,000 rental units. The study also looked at the average asking rents of one-bedroom apartment listings in 2018.

This year’s worst neighborhood was the same as last year’s, Erasmus in Brooklyn with 86.5 normalized complaints, down from 117.5 last year or 1,081 actual complaints this year vs. 670 when de-duped. Median rent for a one-bedroom is $2,140.

Continue reading

Parks mulling full wildlife feeding ban

The proposal follows the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s asking park goers to stop feeding the squirrels, arguing its caused more aggressive begging and damage to the park’s tree canopy. (Photo by Madison Square Park Conservancy)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Resident bird and squirrel-lovers, beware: a popular park pastime might soon be banned. The Parks Department announced last Friday that the agency will be holding hearings this March on changes to city rules that would prohibit park patrons from feeding birds and squirrels.

The Parks Department will be holding a public hearing on Friday, March 1 for a proposed amendment to the rules regarding feeding animals in parks. The current rules on wildlife feeding don’t specifically ban the feeding of birds and squirrels but under the proposed amendment, feeding all animals in city parks would be prohibited. Under the current rule, feeding all other animals in city parks, including in zoo areas, is not allowed.

The agency said that one of the main reasons for the new rule is to reduce food sources for rats and other rodents as a humane method of pest control.

“Sharing your last slice is generally good etiquette in NYC, unless you’re sharing it with a rat or a squirrel,” a representative for the Parks Department said. “Feeding wildlife in parks creates a mess and is bad for the health of our native wildlife. Through our new policy, we’ll make sure that squirrels, pigeons, and other animals don’t rely on takeout.”

Continue reading

New NY Senate passes long-stalled LGBTQ protections, progressive bills

State Senator Brad Hoylman is congratulated by colleagues last week after two of his bills, GENDA and a ban on gay conversion therapy, are passed. (Photo courtesy of State Senator Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, two LGBTQ rights bills that were long-championed by State Senator Brad Hoylman — and long ignored by what was a Republican majority until now — were finally passed. They included a ban on gay conversion therapy and GENDA (The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), which expands the laws on discrimination to include gender identity and expression.

Additionally, the Child Victims Act, which would lengthen the amount of time victims of sex crimes have to file suits, was included in the governor’s proposed budget. The bill has seen some opposition from religious institutions, including schools and the Boy Scouts of America, and a story in the Times Union recently noted a potential loophole that could exempt public schools.

In response, Hoylman said while he is confident there is no such loophole, the bill will be reworked before it is reintroduced this legislative session to prevent there being any questions about this.

GENDA, meanwhile, is expected to go into effect within 30 days of being signed by Cuomo, while the gay conversion therapy ban would go into effect immediately. Part of the GENDA bill would go into effect in November to give local law enforcement agencies time to catch up and also make paperwork changes.

Continue reading

Letters to the editor, Jan. 24

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

This price hike won’t wash

On January 16, 2019, a “Dear Valued Resident of PCVST” note was taped to the laundry room in my building explaining that CSC Service Works was raising the price to use their washers and dryers.

CSC Service Works did not say we were valued customer of theirs. Supporting that blunder, however, CSC’s letter was dated November 15. Despite the price increase scheduled to be “finalized” on or about January 17, I got hit with the hike.

Every expense CSC offers as rationale to increase the price to use their machines pales in comparison to how much they make because one can’t round off the amount on their cards to fit the price of a wash and dry. The average balance that people carry around may be three dollars.

Continue reading