Local pols shoot to kill weaker gun restrictions

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is fighting for proposed legislation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

In response to the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, local elected officials joined Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in trying to push tighter federal gun restrictions.

“Congress’s first priority should be to keep people safe, but when it comes to gun violence we are failing miserably,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, while at a press conference on Saturday near Union Square Park’s Gandhi statue.

She added, “We need to pass common sense, effective reforms like universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and stricter gun trafficking laws. These will help save lives, while at the same time respect the Second Amendment.”

The House was scheduled to consider legislation that would reduce current restrictions on buying silencers last week but postponed bringing it up because of the massacre the previous weekend.

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Hoylman: Restaurants are taking the heat for delayed gas service

Frank’s Trattoria went without gas for eight weeks earlier this year following a gas leak at a nearby building. It is still in business, though others that have gone through lengthy periods without gas were less fortunate. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this year, Frank’s Trattoria, a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, went eight weeks without gas to cook with following a gas leak at a neighboring building. The roughly two months spent without gas was due to delays in getting inspections from Con Ed as well as getting all the necessary paperwork from Department of Buildings. The owners at the time told Town & Village they were trying to stay afloat by cooking what menu items they could using electric stoves they purchased. However, they still lost a lot of business since they couldn’t make pizza that way and because the portable stoves took longer to cook with, some customers would choose not to wait.

The owners told us they didn’t even know how much they lost, but it’s possible the amount was $140,000.

Apparently, this is the average loss to Manhattan businesses that had the same problem in recent years, who also had an average wait of 68 days for the gas to go back on. Those figures are the result of a study conducted by the office of state Senator Brad Hoylman, with owners of businesses being interviewed through a survey.

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Man arrested for arson at Bellevue

Bellevue Hospital Center (Photo courtesy of HHC)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A 24-year-old man was arrested after allegedly setting fires inside Bellevue Hospital.

Police said that a security guard saw Jason Peterson-Ridge on video surveillance starting multiple fires on three different floors shortly after he was discharged as a patient at the hospital on September 24 at 10 p.m.

According to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Peterson-Ridge approached a hand sanitizer stand inside the hospital and filled the catching tray with hand sanitizer, then lit the vapors, causing them to ignite and start a fire.

The FDNY said that the fire caused the dispenser to melt, resulting in damage to the floor and additionally caused charring to the wall and smoke damage to the wall and ceiling.

Police said that he fled to his apartment nearby, where he was arrested a few hours later at 1:46 a.m.

Peterson-Ridge’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

 

Blessing of the Animals

(Photo by Joseph Torre)

Over the past two weekends, a number of local churches have held “Blessing of the Animals” ceremonies, in which parishioners are invited to bring their pets for just that purpose. The events are timed to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. This past Saturday, at Church of the Epiphany’s ceremony, Father Austin Titus led the ceremony for local pooches and a guinea pig (pictured above). Another ceremony was held on the West Side at the Church of St. Francis Xavier (pictured below). Guests included a turtle, a service dog (shown in jacket) and quite a few other dogs.

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Skunk visits Stuy Town, later relocated upstate

Anne Lazarus saw this skunk while out bird watching. (Photo by Anne Lazarus)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday morning, a resident of Stuyvesant Town who was out bird watching saw a form of wildlife she’d never encountered before — a skunk – by the Oval.

The resident, Anne Lazarus, said at first she thought she was looking at a large cat — possibly around two feet long including its tail – but then realized what it was as it lumbered along the walkway. Therefore, she knew not to get too close.

Upon noticing Lazarus, she said, “It raised its tail and I backed off quickly.” She then contacted a public safety and an officer who’s previously rescued animals, Patrolman Morales, responded. Armed with a bag at the end of a pole he managed to get the black and white critter inside a large container. Unfortunately, this wasn’t without getting sprayed first.

UPDATE: Later, he told us: “Thank goodness I live alone because whoever I was with would have left, I smelled so bad.”

Lazarus had left the scene by that point but later heard from Morales that he’d brought the skunk to an appropriate area in upstate Kingston and released it there.

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Teen worker tells would-be robber to get out of ST Dunkin’ Donuts

Tanzina Haque refused demands for cash from a man believed by cops to have robbed or tried to rob five businesses in Manhattan and Brooklyn. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a senior citizen who’s had had limited success in a series of robberies, most recently at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Stuyvesant Town.

In that incident, which occurred on Friday, September 8, the man, who’s believed to be 65-70 years old, pulled out a kitchen knife and demanded money from an 18-year-old staffer. However, according to the employee who was reached on the phone this week, Tanzina Haque, the robber didn’t get it.

According to Haque, the interaction started normally with the man asking about prices of the things he wanted, like a doughnut. But then he took out his knife. At first, Haque said she didn’t notice it, so he made a point of telling her he had one while saying, “Give me the money.” However, she refused. The robber asked again, and Haque told him to leave. When he still kept asking, Haque said she got louder, again telling him to leave.

“I said, ‘I’m going to call the cops.’” Finally, the man gave up and left empty-handed.

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Art in Odd Places returns

Performer Lulu Lolo will bless immigrants as Mother Cabrini in this year’s festival, which has more performance art installations than visual ones. (Photos courtesy of AiOP)

By Sabina Mollot

Art in Odd Places, the annual outdoor array of performance and visual art that takes over the length of 14th Street for several days, is back. This year, the festival is running from Thursday, October 12 to Sunday, October 15 with a reception on Friday, October 13 from 6-8 p.m., also outdoors, on 14th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

This is the festival’s 14th year and it’s now been on 14th Street for a decade with the location having been chosen because of its site as a crossroads to a few different neighborhoods.

In keeping with tradition, each year’s festival has a theme and this year’s is “sense,” which a press release explains is supposed to “welcome gestures that aim to awaken dormant perceptions.”

The festival’s 60-plus artists have chosen to interpret it in many different ways, according to one of AiOP’s three curators, Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful.

“Ways that are sometimes literal, and in ways that are metaphorical,” he said.

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Suspect arrested in Kips Bay shooting

Straus Houses (Photo via Google Maps)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a man last week for a shooting that took place in front of the Straus Houses on East 28th Street at the end of September.

Andres Taveras, 22, allegedly shot a 17-year-old boy around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26 in the courtyard at 224 East 28th Street.

He was arrested when he turned himself in to an officer who was patrolling near the scene of the crime last Friday at 1:50 a.m.

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Police Watch: Senior charged with sex abuse, Man punches store employee

SENIOR CHARGED WITH SEX ABUSE OUTSIDE GRAMERCY PARK
Police arrested 62-year-old Dean Barlow for sexual abuse at the corner of Gramercy Park East and East 20th Street last Thursday at 6:58 a.m. Barlow allegedly admitted to police that he just “lost it” and grabbed and slapped a woman’s buttocks from behind while she walked. The woman confirmed that it was Barlow who’d grabbed her.

CONFRONTED ABOUT SHOPLIFTING, MAN PUNCHES STORE EMPLOYEE
Police arrested 29-year-old Aleksandr Mashin for robbery and possession of stolen property at the corner of Park Avenue South and East 23rd Street last Monday at 5:58 p.m. An employee at a nearby store told police that he was walking down the aisle when he noticed that a shelf of coffee was empty. He then notiticed that Mashin was allegedly rushing down the aisle while looking back at him. When the employee confronted him about the coffee, Mashin allegedly dragged him on the floor and during the struggle, punched him in the head and fled the store. He reportedly ran north on Park Avenue South until an officer stopped him at the southwest corner at East 23rd Street. No further information was available about which store was involved in the incident.

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Harvest in the Square raises $367G for park

A seating area alongside the tent (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Supporters of Union Square Park and devout foodies from around the city gathered at Harvest in the Square, the Union Square Partnership’s annual food festival and fundraiser that this year raised $367,000.

The event, held under a tent in the park on September 14, offered guests tastings from 50 restaurants in the area. The event featured neighborhood newcomers such as Nur, Bowery Road, Daily Provisions, Fusco, Ando and others, in addition to mainstays like Aleo, Blue Smoke, Union Square Café, Blue Water Grill & Metropolis and more.

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Mount Sinai opens urgent care center at Union Square facility

Equipment at the new eye examination room (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mount Sinai Beth Israel announced the opening of a new urgent care center in its Union Square facility earlier this week as part of the changes to the hospital amid the plan to downsize. The center officially opened on September 12 at Mount Sinai Union Square with seven standard exam rooms as well as an eye room and x-ray room.

Mount Sinai has been its renovating facilities south of 34th Street ahead of the plan to drastically reduce the number of beds in the hospital on First Avenue that representatives have said reflect changes in the healthcare industry, which is shifting towards outpatient care.

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Blessing of the Animals at Immaculate Conception

Father Francis Buu welcomes another pooch to the parish.

On Saturday, Immaculate Conception Church held its annual Blessing of the Animals event, a church tradition timed around observances of the Feast of St. Francis Assisi, the patron saint of animals. All of the owners of the four-legged guests — dogs of all shapes and sizes mainly — also got to go home with special certificates. At least one cat owner was successful in getting her pet out of its carrier for the ritual, which is always a well-attended one. The Catholic Church on East 14th Street will have another celebration next Sunday when Monsignor Kevin Nelan celebrates the 40th anniversary of his ordination. A mass will take place at 1 p.m., a reception at 2 p.m.

Photos by Moriah Sterling

If emergency strikes, head to this Union Square high school

The Clinton School replaces Baruch College as a local evacuation center. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Clinton School at 10 East 15th Street has replaced the Baruch building on East 24th Street as the closest evacuation center for Gramercy residents for the 2017 coastal storm season, altering the location that has been in place for the neighborhood at least since Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Office of Emergency Management (OEM) press secretary Nancy Silvestri said that the evacuation centers are reevaluated every year to make sure the facilities are prepared to operate in the event of a disaster, and the previous site was swapped out for the Clinton School after discussions with Baruch and the City University of New York (CUNY).

Silvestri noted that the OEM has partnered with CUNY in the past to designate university buildings as evacuation centers but some of those sites were swapped out this year for various reasons.

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Mendez hosting town hall with the mayor on October 12

Council Member Dan Garodnick with Mayor Bill de Blasio at a recent town hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

If you missed the recent town hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, you can still share your thoughts with the mayor at another town hall on October 12 at 7 p.m. to be hosted by Council Member Rosie Mendez.

The event is intended for residents of the Council District 2, encompassing the neighborhoods of East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay, Lower East Side, Murray Hill and Rose Hill. Along with Mendez, co-sponsors are Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Community Boards 2, 3, 5 and 6, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement and the Loisaida Center. Along with the mayor, commissioners and NYPD representatives will be present.

To attend, RSVP by October 10 at 5 p.m. via email at manhattantownhall@cityhall.nyc.gov or by calling (212) 788-2781. Space is limited. Doors open at 6 p.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. at P.S. 188 The Island School, 442 East Houston Street. (Enter on corner of East Houston Street and Baruch Drive.)

Mendez, in an email to constituents, has also mentioned the following rules: Each constituent who is called on to ask a question will be able to ask one question. No signs will be permitted into the event. Chanting is not allowed.

 

‘Bernie Madoff of landlords’ gets one year in jail

Steve Croman

By Kyle Campbell

One of the cityʼs most notorious landlords has been jailed for a year in a rare move by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to sound a warning bell to unscrupulous New York building owners.

Steven Croman, who has been dubbed “The Bernie Madoff of Landlords,” was sentenced to one year at Rikers Island on Tuesday after pleading guilty to grand larceny and tax fraud.

Croman was also fined $5 million in a plea deal that saw him admit to third-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and fourth-degree criminal tax fraud.

Between 2012 and 2014, Croman acquired $45 million in refinancing loans by submitting applications with phony rent rolls that showed market rate rents for units held by rent-stabilized tenants. He also inflated commercial rent payments to pad his on-paper profits and obtain larger loans, according to Schneiderman.

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