Artist and activist Viva Ruiz spoke at a rally in support of abortion on the steps of Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue this past Tuesday.
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
To the uninitiated, Middle Collegiate Church might seem like an unusual place to hold a rally in support of abortion, given many churches’ stance on the subject. But Executive Minister Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft wants everyone to know that it’s exactly the right place to hold a rally in support of abortion.
“Middle Collegiate is a very progressive church and we believe the struggle for reproductive justice is a struggle we all carry and people should have the right to choose,” she said.
Hambrick Ashcraft, who is also a Stuyvesant Town resident, was the driving force behind such a rally that was held outside the Second Avenue church in the East Village this past Tuesday, one of hundreds of rallies held across the country protesting the new wave of bans on abortion in a number of different states in recent weeks.
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The MTA Board officially approved a proposal that expands full-fare MetroCard access for students on Wednesday. The proposed resolution expands access to three-trip, full-fare student MetroCards for students who currently have half-fare MetroCards, and would eliminate the half-fare MetroCard program.
Half-fare student MetroCards allow bus-only access for K-12 students who live at least half a mile from their school. Students with half-fare cards are supposed to pay $1.35 in coins for every ride, which the MTA said increases dwell time and can be challenging to collect.
The resolution would give half-fare recipients the same three-trip MetroCard that other students already receive, which gives students three free rides every day and can be used on buses and subways.
There are currently 27,000 daily bus trips using half-fare cards. The MTA issued 200,500 half-fare MetroCards to the Department of Education for distribution for the spring semester of 2018, and data from the DOE shows that 66 percent of the half-fare MetroCards that are shipped to schools and distributed are never used, and of the cards that are used, they are used on only eight percent of school days.
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police arrested 23-year-old Brooklyn resident Isaiah Thompson for reckless endangerment and criminal trespass early Friday morning for pulling a 2 train’s emergency brakes earlier this week.
Thompson reportedly gained access to the rear of a train car while the uptown 2 train was in the West 14th Street/Seventh Avenue station on Tuesday, May 21 at 5:43 p.m. Police said that he opened the rear door and rode for several stops on the outside of the train car, after which he allegedly activated the train’s emergency brakes.
Thompson was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass in connection with the incident in the First Precinct at 12:25 a.m. on Friday.
By Sabina Mollot
This week, some residents of Stuyvesant Town received notices that the Division of Housing and Community Renewal had approved the owner’s request for hot water heater major capital improvement rent increase.
One resident shared the MCI notice on the Tenants Association’s Facebook page, which stated the increase to tenants’ rent would be $1.86 per room per month. However, MCI charges can vary slightly from building to building and this one is for the whole complex.
The ST-PCV Tenants Association had opposed this MCI, but the DHCR rejected its arguments that it would cause a financial hardship to tenants and that it was unfair because the property’s six commercial garages would also be benefitting from the upgrade. In its notice to tenants, the DHCR wrote that the garages are getting their own separate hot water systems, so they aren’t benefitting from the hot water heater (exchanger) system.
Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman at the 13th precinct’s most recent Community Council meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police have caught two teenagers who were wanted for robbing an elderly woman outside Stuyvesant Town earlier this month. Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman told neighbors that the pair had been caught during the 13th Precinct Community Council’s most recent meeting this past Tuesday.
Hellman said that the victim, who is in her 70s, was walking to her apartment on East 19th Street between Second and Third Avenue on Saturday, May 11 around 10 p.m. when the 17-year-old boy punched her in the face and knocked her to the ground before stealing her bag.
“We went to see her and she had a significant black eye,” he said. “Luckily nothing was fractured. I spoke to the woman when we went to visit her and she said she walks around the neighborhood all the time and has lived here for 20 plus years, sometimes walking around later at night. It really hurts me to think that people can feel unsafe like that. We don’t have that often but it’s very concerning.”
The teens were caught at the corner of First Avenue and East 14th Street on Saturday, May 18 around 1 a.m. by plainclothes officers who were patrolling the area, Hellman said.
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police reported that a 76-year-old man was killed by a delivery truck in Union Square on Tuesday morning.
Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman said at the 13th Precinct Community Council’s meeting this past Tuesday that the victim, James Buzzell, was outside his apartment on East 16th Street near Union Square West when he was struck.
Police said that the truck was attempting to park in the parking lane when the driver struck Buzzell. Hellman said that the driver was delivering flour to one of the nearby bakeries when he hit Buzzell while backing up. Hellman noted that the driver was not at fault, although the NYPD noted that the investigation is still ongoing.
Playground 9 was bustling with vendors and shoppers at the Stuyvesant Town Flea Market this past Saturday. See Town & Village’s website for more photos of the event. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
After two failed attempts earlier this month due to rain, the Stuy Town flea market finally had its day in the sun last weekend with hundreds of residents searching for hidden treasures from their neighbors.
The market was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 4, and was rescheduled to the following day because of the weather, although when it quickly became clear that May 5 would be a washout as well, management postponed the event to last Saturday with fingers crossed and another slew of possible rain dates. But the additional raindates proved unnecessary as the weather cooperated this past weekend, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to high 70s.
General manager Rick Hayduk said that it seemed like a number of vendors who reserved a spot for the original date never alerted management that they wouldn’t be able to make the new date that was scheduled due to the rain, leaving the spot empty on the day of the market, but he said that the number of no-shows was still similar to that of last year.
MAN ARRESTED FOR STUYVESANT TOWN GROPING
Police arrested 22-year-old Borkot Ullah for allegedly groping a woman while she was going into her building at 321 Avenue C in Stuyvesant Town on Sunday, May 19 around 2 p.m. The victim told police that she was going to enter her building when Ullah allegedly grabbed her right breast and fled south on Avenue C. Ullah was arrested near the same building where the incident happened about an hour later at 3:08 p.m.
EQUIPMENT DAMAGED AT MSBI
Police arrested 42-year-old Richard Forbes for allegedly damaging equipment inside Mount Sinai Beth Israel at 281 First Avenue on Tuesday, May 14 at 12:26 p.m. Police said that Forbes entered the hospital and proceeded to pick up and throw down hospital equipment, destroying $5,000-worth of equipment. Forbes was charged with criminal mischief.
WOMAN BUSTED FOR INJURING CVS MANAGER
Police arrested 73-year-old Virginia Guerzon for an alleged assault inside the CVS at 253 First Avenue on Saturday, May 18 at 6:55 p.m. The manager of the store told police that he told Guerzon that she had to leave the store for being disorderly and she allegedly scratched the manager in the face, causing cuts.
By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
To understand what is going on between President Trump, his attorney general, other high-ranking administration officials and the Democrats in the House of Representatives, it is useful to understand basketball strategy. When the game clock is winding down in a close basketball game, the team that is barely ahead and has the ball tries to make sure that the opposing team does not get another shot at scoring a bucket. So they protect the ball or just pass it back and forth to themselves.
With 535 days left before the next presidential election the Trump team is doing just that. Democrats in Congress have issued a subpoena to obtain the full unredacted report by Robert Mueller after newly appointed Attorney General William Barr refused to release parts of it. Barr said NO. Tick, tick, tick. Democrats have also subpoenaed President Trump’s concealed tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service. Thus far Trump and his Treasury secretary have said NO. Tick, tick, tick.
Democrats in Congress have requested bank records from a financial institution, which loaned Trump billions of dollars for questionable business dealings, that is now under scrutiny. Trump is suing to block that disclosure. They also want key Trump officials to testify at Congressional hearings regarding a variety of matters now under investigation. Trump is asserting “Executive Privilege” to try to block their testimony which might prove either embarrassing or unveil information about obstruction of justice during the Mueller investigation. Tick, tick, tick.
And to add to the president’s woes, The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee just subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to return and clarify information that he provided about contacts with Russian operatives during the 2016 election…Uh-oh.
Last week, the City Council passed a slew of bills aimed at tenant protection, and while not yet law, the mayor has indicated he’ll support them.
This is a tremendous relief. We believe these bills would go a long way in protecting tenants from landlords who flout the law, from making aggressive buyout offers to using construction as a form of harassment to blatantly lying on applications.
Additionally, the fact that so many housing bills were introduced shows how badly this intervention was needed in the first place. A perfect example is Council Member Keith Powers’ bill to crack down on landlords who lie in construction documents about whether or not their buildings have rent regulated tenants. This legislation was inspired by behavior by the Kushner Companies, who failed to disclose the presence of such tenants in 17 buildings a total of 42 times when filing applications to the Department of Buildings.
Another helpful bill will improve communication between city agencies with oversight of housing, making it easier to catch these inaccuracies.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney discusses her legislation in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Maloney)
By Sabina Mollot
For the past decade, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been pushing legislation aimed at preventing money laundering, often via real estate purchases, by cracking down on shell companies.
On Tuesday, May 14, Maloney held a press conference in Washington, DC about the bill, which she said is finally starting to gain traction in Congress along with having the support of law enforcement agencies, banks, credit unions and four real estate industry associations. Real estate groups in support of the bill are American Escrow Association, American Land Title Association, National Association of REALTORS, Real Estate Services Providers Council, Inc. (RESPRO).
“I’ve never had such huge support for one of my bills before,” said Maloney. “If this bill passes, it’ll be harder to finance terrorism.”
After reintroducing the Corporate Transparency Act, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Peter King and Tom Malinowski last week, she expects it to have a markup soon. A markup, unlike a hearing, is aimed at getting legislation passed in committee and moved onto the house floor. There have already been hearings for this bill, and there is also one set for next week. The bill hasn’t yet been discussed in the Senate.
Town & Village owner Peter Bergida (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
After 25 years in business, Town & Village Hardware will be closing at the end of June.
One of the shop’s two owners, Ukraine-born Peter Bergida, said he’s turning 69 and plans to retire as does his partner Dave Sidoti.
A sign now hanging in the storefront says Town & Village is teaming up with H. Brickman & Sons Ace hardware across the avenue in Stuyvesant Town. However, this is only temporary. Bergida explained that he and Sidoti will be working at the other store, a family-owned franchise, over the summer to answer customers’ questions.
“We’ll work there maybe for a month or two to help people in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village,” said Bergida. “We’ve been here for 25 years so we know what they need.”
And then, unless something changes, it’s on to retirement.
Administration for Children’s Services Deputy Commissioner Winette Saunders (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
Earlier this year, representatives from the Administration for Children’s Services facility on First Avenue told the Kips Bay community that the agency is working to do more to keep the young people in its care motivated to stay onsite (and incidentally, out of trouble) through new and expanded programming.
However, as of this week, area residents said teenagers staying at the center have continued to wander the neighborhood at night, causing trouble.
Neighbors voiced their concerns on Tuesday night at the most recent meeting held by the 13th Precinct’s Neighborhood Coordinating Officer program for the precinct’s Sector D — the area that covers Kips Bay and Peter Cooper Village.
Eddie Ocasid, the building superintendent for 485 First Avenue, said that teens staying at the ACS building appear unsupervised after 9 p.m. and are often disruptive to residents until 4 in the morning on some nights.
Ecological City, a march with performances aimed at highlighting climate change, made its way through the East Village and Lower East Side on Saturday. (Photos by Rachel Elkind)
Environmental activists resembling aquatic creatures as well as land animals and other nature-inspired characters marched, danced and recited poetry as they made their way through the East Village and Lower East Side on Saturday.
The colorful costume parade was the second annual Ecological City Procession for Climate Solutions, organized by Earth Celebrations founder/director Felicia Young.
(Click through to see more photos from the procession)
The City Council Housing and Buildings Committee holds a vote on anti-displacement bills the day before they were passed by the full Council on Wednesday, May 8. (Photo courtesy of City Council)
By Sabina Mollot
Last fall, the City Council introduced a package of 18 bills aimed at preventing tenants from being displaced due to aggressive tactics from landlords like exploitative buyout agreements or nuisance construction. On Wednesday, May 8, all but one passed. They still require the mayor’s signature, but he has indicated his support for them.
A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Jane Meyer said, “From free access to legal services in housing court to the new Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants, this administration has been fighting for tenants from day one. These bills will help bolster our efforts to protect all New Yorkers.”
Here is a rundown of what each of the City Council bills will do:
Property owners will be required to share certain information about the terms of a buyout agreement a tenant is entering into with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) within 90 days. The bill’s sponsor is Mark Levine.