Chipotle to pay restitution, rehire worker fired for taking sick leave

By Sabina Mollot

A Chipotle restaurant on East 14th Street must pay $2,500 and rehire a worker that was recently fired for taking sick leave.

In an announcement from the mayor’s office and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas said firing the woman was illegal as was the fact that she was not paid for the time she took off to take care of an illness as well as her family.

As part of the settlement announced Wednesday, the worker will be reinstated at her previous rate and receive an amount that equals three times the pay for the time she took off in addition to the $2,500. This is because the DCWP found that the firing was retaliatory for taking sick leave.

The worker was referred to the DCWP in January by the union 32BJ.

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Man arrested for robbery near Union Square

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a 49-year-old man for shoplifting and injuring employees that tried to stop him at the Garden of Eden on East 14th Street near Union Square last week.

An employee at the store, located at 7 East 14th Street, told police that on Thursday, February 20 around 9 p.m., the suspect removed items from the shelves and attempted to leave without paying.

When multiple employees then confronted him, the suspect reportedly said, “I will cut you,” and reached into his jacket pocket. The victim suffered a minor cut to his left hand and a bruise on his left cheek while attempting to stop the suspect. The suspect was arrested in front of the store and had been charged with robbery.

Charges are still pending against the suspect in multiple additional cases related to incidents that took place last year. The man reportedly harassed customers inside a Sprint store in Union Square, exposing himself and groping other customers that were inside.

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Councilmembers propose expansion of Right to Counsel

Councilmember Carlina Rivera spoke in support of bills that will expand Right to Counsel at a rally outside City Hall on Monday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Councilmembers Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson lead a rally on Monday to support their new legislation that would strengthen and expand the Right to Counsel law that passed in 2017.

The Committee on the Justice System and the Committee on Housing and Buildings held a joint hearing on the two new bills following the rally outside City Hall.

New York was the first jurisdiction in the country to guarantee legal representation to low-income tenants facing eviction when the current law passed in 2017. The law mandated the Office of Civil Justice to provide tenants with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty line, or $50,200 annually for a family of four, with free legal representation when facing eviction. A report from the Community Service Society of New York releases this week found that the law helped reduce evictions but showed that there were still gaps.

Councilmember Carlina Rivera, a co-sponsor of both pieces of legislation, said that the current Right to Counsel law has already helped her district.

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Editor’s note: We recently received an unsigned letter in the mail from a Stuyvesant Town resident about quality of life issues. Unfortunately, we do not publish completely anonymous letters but wanted to give readers a reminder that a letter writer’s name can be withheld upon request, but the letter should still be signed.


Funding needed for Electric Vehicle charging

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday, asking the mayor to make charging stations for Electric Vehicles (EV) more accessible for all New Yorkers because the stations are difficult to find throughout New York City, and adding infrastructure for EVs would encourage more New Yorkers to choose energy-efficient EVs over gasoline cars.

Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio,

I am writing to ask that you include funding for publicly-available charging stations to make Electric Vehicles (EV) more accessible for all New Yorkers. Cars are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States today and the vast majority of those emissions come from cars.

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Police Watch: Woman arrested for package theft, Theft at Waterside Gristedes

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR STUY TOWN PACKAGE THEFT
Police arrested a 39-year-old woman on Wednesday, February 19 at 10 a.m. for a theft that occurred in 2019. Police said that the woman was seen on video removing packages from 620 East 20th Street on December 2. The woman was charged with grand larceny inside the 13th precinct. 

MAN NABBED FOR THEFT IN WATERSIDE PLAZA GRISTEDES
Police arrested a 19-year-old man for a theft from the Gristedes at 25 Waterside Plaza on Monday, February 17 at 9:43 p.m. A witness told police that the suspect, who was an employee at the store, removed items without permission and left without paying. The suspect was charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property.

MEN BUSTED FOR SEPHORA THEFTS, ROBBERY
Police arrested an 18-year-old man and a 20-year-old man for thefts from the Sephora at 119 Fifth Avenue on Friday, February 21 at 2:56 p.m. Officers said that they were investigating a grand larceny pattern in Sephora stores throughout the city when a group of 10 individuals were spotted casing the Sephora at 45 East 17th Street, then left and headed north on Broadway and west on East 19th Street, where they cased the location on Fifth Avenue. Police said that three of the individuals then entered the location and took merchandise without paying. Plainclothes officers then followed them, and after a brief chase, two of the suspects were arrested and the property was recovered.

The 18-year-old was charged with possession of stolen property and the 20-year-old was charged with grand larceny, possession of stolen property and possession of marijuana.

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Opinion: The truth about Mayor Pete

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Some people think that this is the most consequential Presidential election since 1860. I agree.

Had Democrat Stephen Douglas or any of the other candidates defeated Republican Abraham Lincoln, it is unlikely that the “peculiar institution” of slavery would have ended three years later. The savage brutality would have continued for years, maybe decades more. Southern states that had a vested economic interest in preserving the status quo would have grown stronger. The ramifications of that are impossible to calculate or even imagine. But it would have continued to tear at the fabric of this country, our ideals, our morality and our democratic institutions. The course of American history and our trajectory as a world leader would have forever been changed.

It is 160 years later now, and the election of 2020 is fast approaching. The Republican candidate will be its incumbent, Donald Trump. As for the Democrats, well, that is a much different story. There are still a half dozen candidates who are seriously vying for the nomination. In two months, on April 28, Democratic voters from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village along with the rest of the state will get their say. That is the date of the New York Presidential Primary. And it may be pivotal.

After the very early voting in Iowa and New Hampshire, one thing is certain. The mayor of South Bend Indiana has emerged as a major contender. His name is Pete Buttigieg. I have watched his unlikely rise with fascination.

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What to know about the upcoming plastic bag ban

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

All plastic carryout bags will be banned in stores throughout New York State starting on March 1. Under the new law, which passed last March, plastic carryout bags will not be distributed to consumers at any businesses that collect New York State sales tax, and stores will be implementing a five-cent paper carry-out bag fee.

The five-cent fee on paper bags will not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) recipients and all consumers are encouraged to bring their own bags to reduce waste. Film plastics will still be used on items such as bread bags, cases of water, paper towels and other similar items, and customers are encouraged to recycle those items at participating retailers.

There are still some bags that are exempt from the law and can still be distributed to customers under limited circumstances, including produce bags for fruits and vegetables and bags used by pharmacies for prescription drugs.

State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein were both cosponsors of bills that passed in the state legislature last year banning single-use plastic bags, and the elected officials penned an op-ed for Town & Village last week, outlining the ban’s importance for the environment.

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Susan B. Anthony honored in Madison Square Park

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer honored the suffragette for her birthday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and nonprofit organization Monumental Women honored Susan B. Anthony and her contribution to women’s rights on the occasion of her 200th birthday last week in Madison Square Park.

Although the celebration was held last Friday on Valentine’s Day, Anthony was actually born on February 15, 1820. Brewer issued a proclamation declaring the day of her birth “Susan B. Anthony Day” and those in attendance to celebrate the suffragette also celebrated a new statue that will debut in Central Park later this year, honoring Anthony as well as suffragists and abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

“As we all know, it’ll be the first statue of women in Central Park,” Brewer said. “Alice in Wonderland does not count. We are approaching the centennial ratification of the 19th amendment and women’s suffrage, and taking this stand for equality makes for a perfect preview for the legacy of Susan B. Anthony. And it’s very fitting that on the anniversary this year in August, Monumental Women will launch their women’s history campaign with a challenge to municipalities around the United States helping communities explore what they can do to honor all the women that make up our constituents.”

Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, said that the area around Madison Square Park has a special significance for Susan B. Anthony and women’s suffrage, since Anthony once lived on East 23rd Street near Park Avenue South and the National Women’s Suffrage Association, founded by Anthony, was located on East 23rd Street near Madison Avenue.

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Teens arrested for sex abuse at Union Square School

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested four teenagers for sexually abusing another student inside a Union Square school last week.

The three teenage boys were charged with sexual abuse inside the Clinton School at 10 East 15th Street on Tuesday, February 11 at 3:47 p.m. after police said that the boys abused a girl at the school.

According to the victim, four teenage boys, one of whom has not been arrested, coerced her into taking an explicit photo in exchange for a Supreme sweatshirt sometime the previous week. The victim said that she originally agreed to take a photo in exchange for the sweatshirt but the teens later pressured her into saying in a video that she had consented to taking a photo of her buttocks with their faces. The teenage girl said that one of the suspects then grabbed her by the arm and led her to the third floor bathroom, where he took a photo of her.

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Krueger introduces alternative bill to legalize surrogacy

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

State Senator Liz Krueger, along with Assemblymembers Didi Barrett and Daniel O’Donnell, announced the introduction of legislation that would legalize and regulate surrogacy last Thursday. The legislation would legalize and regulate compensated gestational and genetic surrogacy, in addition to establishing protections for all parties involved in assisted reproductions and egg and sperm donations.

State Senator Brad Hoylman previously introduced legislation to legalize surrogacy that passed in the State Senate but died in the Assembly earlier this year. While Krueger and Hoylman have been in regular communication about the issue, Krueger felt that her bill provides more protections for individuals involved in assisted reproduction and surrogacy than Hoylman’s legislation, so she felt that it was necessary to introduce her own alternative.

“Surrogacy can be a satisfying and positive experience, but it is also a complex physical, emotional, and legal process with the potential for serious negative outcomes,” Krueger said. “That is why it is vital to have protections in place for everyone involved, especially low-income people. We need to clarify the law in this space in order to make an array of assisted reproduction options available to New Yorkers while also protecting the health, safety, interests and rights of all parties, including intended parents, people acting as surrogates, egg- and sperm donors and children.”

Gestational surrogacy is the process by which a fertilized embryo, created using the eggs and sperm of the intended parents, is implanted into the surrogate mother, meaning that the surrogate is not genetically related to the child. In genetic surrogacy, the surrogate uses their own egg and is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the male intended parent, and the surrogate is genetically connected to the baby.

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Youth crime up in Gramercy, cops say

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Robberies and burglaries committed by teenagers have been increasing since the end of last year, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman reported at the 13th Precinct Community Council’s most recent meeting this past Tuesday.

“Trends [in robberies] that we were seeing at the end of last year carried over into the beginning of this year,” Hellman said.

Hellman said that while the precinct’s apprehension rate is “very good,” he wants the command to be more preventive so that the incidents don’t occur in the first place, part of which requires youth outreach. Robberies overall are up 36% for the year so far.

The NYPD will be rolling out a new youth program in March, partially in response to the increase in youth crime, which will work in conjunction with and under the structure of the neighborhood policing program that was implemented in the 13th precinct in October 2018.

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Management will return lobby directories, names on intercoms

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The STPCV Tenants Association announced in an email last Wednesday that management would be restoring the resident directories in lobbies and on building intercoms.

Last November, some residents noticed that tenant names had been removed from building intercoms, making it difficult for visitors to find residents’ apartments without knowing the apartment number. StuyTown Property Services General Manager Rick Hayduk said at the time that management had been receiving an increasing number of requests to have their names removed from video intercoms and the resident lists in building lobbies due to privacy concerns. After a number of complaints from residents, management later announced that there would be an opt-in option for residents that would allow tenants to still have their names listed on the intercoms, but at that point there was no plan to bring back the printed building directories, and the TA continued to push the issue with management, citing possible housing violations.

Hayduk, while noting that the law still seemed antiquated, said that management will be returning tenant names to intercoms and reinstalling the lobby directories.

“Our position is that we take privacy seriously,” Hayduk said. “We had less than 10% of residents opt-in, but the challenge is always awareness.”

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The climate crisis continues

“We are grieving our grandkids – yours and mine.” This powerful message was written on a large poster carried by two grandmothers during a recent demonstration in Park Slope initiated by the environmental organization Extinction/Rebellion (www.rebellion.earth). This sentiment is expressed often by seniors and is totally justified. If we do not take action to drastically reduce global warming now the future for the next generations looks bleak. Why are we procrastinating?

Fortunately, not everyone is. Recently, there seems to be a recognition of the dangers at hand at the highest level of industry, finance, and government, some of them expressed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland. It behooves us to take note of the following:

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Stuy Town teen reported missing

The teen was reported missing from Stuy Town on February 12.

The New York City Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a person reported missing on Wednesday, February 12 in Stuyvesant Town.

Police said that 16-year-old Sarah Sitorus was last seen at her apartment at 11 Stuyvesant Oval around 1 p.m. last Wednesday. She is described as 5′ 3″ tall, 140 pounds. She was last seen wearing all blue clothing.

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 or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Police Watch: Girl arrested for sexual misconduct, Paramedic assaulted

GIRL ARRESTED FOR SEXUAL MISCONDUCT AT GOOD SHEPHERD

Police arrested a teenage girl for sexual misconduct inside Good Shepherd Services at 337 East 17th Street on Tuesday, February 11 at 10:33 p.m. The victim told police that while playing a game of truth or dare, the suspect said, “I haven’t eaten anyone out in a while.” The victim said that she no longer wanted to play but as she was walking away, the suspect pulled the victim’s pants down and started performing oral sex on her without her consent.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULTING PARAMEDIC

Police arrested a 39-year-old man for assaulting a paramedic at the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 29th Street on Tuesday, February 11 at 12:09 p.m. Police said that the paramedic was administering first aid to someone who was unconscious when the suspect punched him multiple times, causing pain and a bruise to his left temple.

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