LGBT protection bills collecting dust in Albany

State Senator Hoylman, pictured with his baby Lucy and husband David Sigal, had to work with a surrogate in California since surrogacy isn’t legal in New York. (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Two years ago, State Senator Brad Hoylman told Town & Village that any LGBT-related legislation seemed to be blacklisted in Albany to the point where any bill with the term “LGBT” in it would be “dead on arrival.”

Since then, basically nothing has changed with the most recent significant LGBT-related legislation being the marriage equality act in 2011 that was championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In 2016, Hoylman did a study on the lack of action taken in the state capital since then, titled “Stranded at the Altar.” The fact that the Independent Democratic Conference has dissolved hasn’t changed anything, voting dynamic-wise, and Hoylman, as he has before, is laying the blame solely on his chamber’s Republican majority. Hoylman is the only openly gay state senator.

Additionally, while Cuomo is fighting a high-profile battle against a lesbian primary challenger, Hoylman said he wasn’t sure the governor could strong-arm the bills into law through executive order.

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Editorial: Now’s your chance, Cuomo

Even New Yorkers who are far from being political junkies know one thing. Andrew Cuomo is running scared over his primary against lesbian activist Cynthia Nixon. The most recent poll numbers are favoring the incumbent. However, political outsider Nixon is a threat to the governor’s LGBTQ supporters; with Pride Week coming up, so too will his name and hers among New York’s Democrat voters.

There will be those rightfully pointing out how Cuomo strong-armed marriage equality into reality in 2011, but as State Senator Brad Hoylman has proven with a study, LGBTQ New Yorkers have been “stranded at the altar” since then. And with seven years having gone by, it does appear they’ve officially been jilted by Albany.

This legislative session in the state capital is over now, but elected officials, including Cuomo, still have a chance to at least commit to passing some LGBTQ protections like (at least) banning gay conversion therapy of young people and ensuring a fairer workplace for gay and transgender people. And we truly don’t know what’s stopping them. Yes, the State Senate is controlled by Republicans and that is where all this legislation, like tenant protection legislation, has gone to die.

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Rare and well-known Marilyn Monroe photos on display

Marilyn Monroe, photographed by George Barris

By Sabina Mollot

Three years ago, an exhibition of photos of Marilyn Monroe was held at the art gallery Pop International and, unsurprisingly, was a big success, proving the blonde bombshell’s still got it even as she would have turned 89.

On June 21, that same gallery, owned by Stuyvesant Town residents Jeff Jaffe and his wife Nanette Ross, will once again be celebrating the Hollywood icon with the exhibition “Happy 92nd Birthday, Marilyn!”

“People just love her,” said Jaffe. “Because she was so beautiful, because of her tragic life and because she sustained something no one else has, that kind of fame, I don’t know that anyone else on the planet was like Marilyn Monroe.”

In 2015, buyers who swarmed the show were a mix of vintage photography collectors as well as die-hard Marilyn fans.

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Letter to the editor, June 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Polling place changes make no sense

The following is a letter from City Council Member Keith Powers that will be sent to all residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Dear Neighbor:

As your new City Council Member, I wanted to inform you about a change that was made to your poll site for the upcoming elections. If you live in 330 1st Avenue, 400 E 20th Street, 410 E. 20th Street, 430 E 20th Street, 440 E. 20th Street, 442 E. 20th Street, 444 E. 20th Street, 446 E. 20th Street, 448 E. 20th Street or 450 E. 20th Street, your poll site has been changed.

The Board of Elections (BOE) has moved the voting location former poll site in Peter Cooper Village at 360 1st Avenue to the poll site currently located in Stuyvesant Town at 545 E. 14th Street for the upcoming election on Tuesday, June 26 and the subsequent elections in September and November of 2018, you will have to vote at 545 E. 14th Street.

I will be contacting the Board of Elections in an attempt to restore your polling site to its previous location. The poll site at 360 1st Avenue is still actively in use but currently only serves buildings within Peter Cooper Village.

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Maloney touts experience in bid for reelection

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, pictured outside her home on the Upper East Side (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While hardly an open seat, the race for candidates hoping to represent the 12th Congressional District (most of Manhattan’s East Side as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens) is proving to be a competitive one. While the Democrat primary on June 26 has just two candidates, the only reason there are just two names on the ballot is that one of them, Suraj Patel, sued successfully against another candidate, Sander Hicks, claiming he didn’t have enough valid signatures. He did the same to an additional candidate, Peter Lindner, though he’d already been booted off the ballot by the Board of Elections. This leaves Patel, a hospitality executive who also worked on both election campaigns for the Obama administration, and Carolyn Maloney, the 25-year incumbent.

On this, Maloney, while interviewed at her home on the Upper East Side last week, mused, “For someone who said he wants more participation, I’m mystified why he’s throwing his opponent off the ballot.”

Meanwhile, Patel has also been fundraising like crazy, outpacing Maloney in recent months and trying to engage people who wouldn’t normally vote.

As for Maloney, perhaps in part due to her history of clobbering challengers at the polls, she has managed to rack up just about every endorsement there is to be had from elected officials, unions, women’s organizations and local clubs. She’s also gotten the nod from Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem.

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Stuy Town detective on the case of murder mystery penned by former tenant

Thomas Cassidy was inspired by true crime tales he’d hear from his father and a friend who both had careers in the NYPD. (Photo courtesy of author)

By Sabina Mollot

The year is 1981, the place, a crime-ridden New York City and Stuyvesant Town resident and cop is tasked with finding out who murdered a famous actor — also his best friend — at a Manhattan hotel. On top of that, the mayor is up for reelection and since a high-profile murder can’t help his chances at the polls, the cop is warned to keep a lid on media leaks, or be thrown off the case.

The scenario is fortunately fictional. However, it has come to life in 2018 the form of a new novel, Damage Control, written by a former Stuyvesant Town resident, Thomas Cassidy.

Damage Control ($26.95) was released on June 12 by Cedar Forge. However, it has been in the works for last 25 years by Cassidy, who recently retired from a 20-year career as a special investigator for the New York State attorney general and whose father Hugh Cassidy served in the NYPD for over 30 years.

As for its title, Cassidy explained, “What they’re trying to do is damage control, trying to deflect attention from the crime wave. Everyone, including the mayor’s office, the corporate office of the flagship hotel, the Police Department, everyone is doing some form of damage control. Everyone’s trying to put a positive spin on it and that makes it difficult for the detective trying to solve the crime.”

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Woman robbed in building on East 13th Street

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for a man who robbed a woman in her East Village building on Sunday.

The victim, 20, was entering her building in the vicinity of East 13th and Second Avenue at about 4:30 p.m. when an unknown man grabbed her from behind.

He then demanded her bag, and when she turned it over, he ran out. The victim is believed to have lost $1,100 worth of property, including an iPhone and cash, as well as personal items.

The suspect is described as black and in his twenties; and last seen wearing a baseball cap, black hooded shirt and blue jeans.

Police don’t suspect a pattern at this time.

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Search underway for source of rotten deliveries

By Sabina Mollot

Talk about a rotten neighbor.

Last week, Town & Village heard from a man who’s been getting a not-so-special delivery: spoiled food left at his door.

The longtime resident of Stuyvesant Town, who asked to be kept anonymous, said this has been happening since last November or December, a total of six times. The most recent time, last week, the person who brought the spoiled food chose to gift him with a plastic plate of old rice.

While not exactly a death threat, the man said he considers the vile move harassment and has been left wondering what the person will do next to get a rise out of him. He also doesn’t know who’s behind the stomach-churning prank.

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Stuy Town author hoping to crowd-fund children’s book

Fran Alongi

By Sabina Mollot

While a trip to the chiropractor’s office might not be too many people’s idea of fun, one Stuyvesant Town resident recently found the experience worthy of writing a book.

Longtime resident Fran Alongi, who frequently sees a chiropractor for adjustments, said it was seeing how inviting the office has been for children and families, in no small part due to the presence of a mascot dog who humors young patients that want to chase him, that inspired her to write a story about it.

The book, her second, is called Max Gets Well-Adjusted and it’s intended for children ages 2-5. Her first book was a novel with fantasy aspects called The Moons of Koda, that she self-published in 2016. This time around she’s also self-publishing, only in this case, she’s hoping to get the associated costs crowd-funded. She currently has a GoFundMe page that’s seeking $3,000 for printing, illustration, advertising and other costs.

According to Alongi, the motivation for the book was to make children who might be scared of going to a chiropractor for a back problem or other issues more confident about the experience. She said she’d noticed while waiting to see the doctor that children who were there alongside their parents never seemed to be uncomfortable. What she soon realized was that this was because their parents didn’t seem nervous, especially since they were often patients themselves. Meanwhile, the office pooch, Cooper, was almost like a therapy dog in his willingness to run and hide from children, then letting them almost catch him.

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Art and robots will call new hospital home

A 37-foot dalmatian balancing a taxi on its nose greets patients outside the new Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On June 24, Kips Bay’s medical and science corridor will have one more hospital building, the 18-story Kimmel Pavilion at East 34th Street and First Avenue. The $1.2 billion facility, which is part of the NYU Langone Health campus, will include the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, the first children’s hospital to open in New York City in nearly 15 years.

While still off limits to anyone but construction crews and some hospital brass on Monday, the site was opened briefly for press and others who wanted a tour of the building, which has been in the works for the past 10 years.

The hospital will be unique for a few reasons, one of which is the attention paid to art. “Spot,” a 37-foot sculpture of a Dalmatian balancing a real New York City taxi on its noise, designed by artist Donald Lipski, greets patients at the entrance to the children’s hospital. There are also a number of other sculptures throughout the facility, designed to reflect the light under high ceilings. Others, like a rooftop waffle cone and oversized tennis ball, were clearly designed with underage critics in mind.

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Letters to the editor, June 7

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Darth VDER is cheating NYers

Did you know that a recent decision by New York State energy regulators means that 32 percent of all New York City residents are not treated equally when it comes to accessing renewable energy as compared to other New York state residents? This affects all of us who do not pay our energy bills directly to Con Ed, including everyone living at Stuy Town, Waterside and most people living in large multifamily buildings, even though we pay the same amount as the other 68 percent of New York state residents to fund the state’s clean energy programs.

For most of us in New York City, remote renewable energy – also known as community distributed generation (CDG) – is the only option we have if we want to purchase clean renewables energy. Recently the Public Service Commission – a board of utility regulators appointed by Governor Cuomo – changed the rules for valuing clean energy generated at locations remote to where is consumed.

This new method, called VDER (Value of Distributed Energy Resources), applies to solar, wind and hydro-electric generation and is intended to succeed the current net meter value methodology. VDER differentiates between those of who pay their Con Ed bill directly to Con Ed, known as Direct Metered and those that do not, known as Master Metered or Master/Submetered, crediting Direct Metered residents almost 50 percent more value. It’s not fair.

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Burglar stole shirts, paper towels

Burglary suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a burglar who forced his way into a home office at 5 East 17th Street.

According to the victim, he’d left the building at 9:30 a.m. on May 15 and returned at 8:30 a.m. the following day to find his office ransacked.

Additionally, his bag was stolen, as were some shirts, a drill and even paper towels with a combined worth of $350.

Police said the door appeared to be forced open at the locked room in the building, which is also home to the Union Fare restaurant.

The suspect was captured in fuzzy surveillance footage that shows a light-skinned man with facial hair wearing a hat.

Opinion: Same fight, different jersey

By Assembly Member Harvey Epstein

In the ‘90s, New York’s legislature sold out tenants and tipped the scales in favor of big landlords by passing the Rent Regulation Reform Act. This piece of legislation passed in both houses, its sponsors claiming to be sticking up for the mythological “mom and pop” landlord, whose profits were supposedly being squeezed by rent regulation.

Among the most damaging provisions of the act was the invention of “vacancy decontrol” which, since its inception, has eroded New York’s stock of affordable housing by jacking up rents on units if tenants leave or are forced out by unscrupulous landlords seeking to cash in on another perversity of the act: the vacancy bonus.

The assault on tenants has not abated. In response, community groups have had to rise to the occasion and tirelessly defend tenants against the bad actor landlords playing with a stacked deck. I am proud to have been fighting to keep tenants in their homes for decades and as your new Assembly Member, I am eager to continue the fight having acquired a different set of tools to work with and new opportunities to win victories for tenants. The struggle is the same, but my election to the Assembly will afford new ways to achieve our goals.

Small business owners have even fewer protections than residential tenants –– they are at the mercy of their landlords, who have no constraints on how much rents can be raised.

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Man robbed three Chase banks

Bank robbery suspect

Police are looking for a man believed to have robbed three banks, one in Flatiron, one in Chelsea and another in midtown.

Police said on Monday, May 14 at about 9 a.m., the man strolled into a Chase Bank at 839 9th Avenue at West 55th Street and passed a note to the teller demanding cash. He got away with $1,000 before running west.

On Wednesday, May 23 at 11:35 a.m., he went to a Chase Bank at 162 Fifth Avenue at 21st Street and passed another demand note. The teller handed over some cash and the robber fled south on Fifth Avenue.

On Saturday, May 26 at 10:45 a.m. he went to a Chase branch at 611 Avenue of the Americas at West 18th Street and did the same thing. The teller turned over cash and the man fled.

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Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association celebrating 50th anniversary

Stuyvesant Square Park these days is sitting pretty, in no small part due to the work of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

When the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association was formed half a century ago, it began as many civic organizations do — as a response to a perceived threat to the community that the residents were willing to fight. In this case, the interloper was Beth Israel, which was expanding its footprint at the time, buying up brownstones in the Stuyvesant Square neighborhood to raze and turn into larger buildings.

Rosalee Isaly, the president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, who’s been involved in the group’s efforts since 1970, said neighbors were concerned about the expansion impacting their quality of life, especially when the hospital received a federal grant to turn an empty lot at the corner of Second Avenue and 17th Street to build a 40-story building to house its staff. The group, initially just three couples (including husbands who worked as attorneys), fought this tooth and nail.

Eventually that street corner became home to the significantly smaller Hospital for Joint Diseases, and Beth Israel built the 24-story Gilman Hall on First Avenue across from Stuyvesant Town to house its residents. (Gilman has since been emptied and sold to a California-based developer as part of the hospital’s downsizing plan.)

As for the three couples from Stuyvesant Square who made up the founding members of the SPNA, they were John and Mary Tommaney, Adrian and Marisa Zorgniotti and James and Carvel Moore. Isaly, who now owns and manages a couple of local properties and is also an artist, joined the SPNA upon moving to the neighborhood when she was a newlywed. She’s lived there since then with the exception of a few years in the 1970s when she and her family lived in Paris.

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