Last of ‘Roberts’ cash will go to TA, PSLL

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this month, it appeared there might be another distribution of checks, albeit small ones, to residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village who’d been represented in the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer lawsuit.

However, that’s no longer a possibility as the money left in that pot is under $33,000, according to tenants’ law firm, Wolf Haldenstein. Had the remaining funds been over $100,000 it would have gotten distributed to tenants, as part of the settlement deal hashed out in 2013. For an amount lower than $100,000, however, the remaining funds are to be split evenly between two nonprofits: the Peter Stuyvesant Little League and the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

Previously, Wolf Haldenstein attorney Michael Liskow told Town & Village it looked like there was going to be over $150,000 left in the pool of damages intended for residents. That money represented checks that were not deposited by a 120-day deadline. But Liskow this week said he later learned the $150,000 figure he got from the claims administrator, which he thought was updated as of the end of January, didn’t reflect withdrawals from the amount during January. He also apologized for providing us with the “stale” figure earlier.

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Protesters mourn loss of affordable housing

Tenant activists gather outside an event held by the Real Estate Board of New York. (Photo courtesy of Faith in New York)

By Sabina Mollot

A group of tenant activists, dressed in black, disrupted a real estate industry luncheon in midtown last Wednesday to mourn the loss of affordable housing in the city. One of the groups organizing the effort was Faith in New York along with Tenants and Neighbors, the latter of whom have a tradition of protesting at events held by the Real Estate Board of New York.

“REBNY has led the charge for pro-gentrification and pro-displacement policies across New York for decades,” Katie Goldstein, executive director of Tenants & Neighbors later said in a written statement. “We are here standing with faith leaders and tenants across New York to mourn the death of affordable housing as we actively organize against REBNY’s policies and practices.”

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Letters to the Editor, Mar. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Stella rerouted birds into local parks

Most likely because of the snowstorm (in some areas blizzard), migrating American Woodcocks had to make forced landings. Many of them landed in the parks. Central Park had more than 50 or more counted. Many landed in backyards, odd places. I will look in Stuyvesant Town. We have seen them in the past year on migrations.Most likely because of the snowstorm (in some areas blizzard), migrating American Woodcocks had to make forced landings. Many of them landed in the parks. Central Park had more than 50 or more counted. Many landed in backyards, odd places. I will look in Stuyvesant Town. We have seen them in the past year on migrations.

Unfortunately, a number of them died, perhaps window collisions, starvation, hawk predation, exhaustion, etc. The Wild Bird Fund at 558 Columbus Ave received many American Woodcocks for rehabilitation. Some were deceased, and some did not survive.  Many have survived thus far, and they will be released in Long Island where there is less snow. American Woodcocks rely on camouflage to avoid predation. That strategy does not work when there is snow. I saw 10 American Woodcocks and one Wilson’s Snipe in Central Park yesterday.

How do you rescue a Woodcock? Carry a sturdy shopping bag. (A box is better, but not convenient.) Punch a few holes for air in the bag. Put a cloth for perching in the bag. If the bird revives (because it’s just stunned) and starts banging and moving, release away from windows if possible. If it is truly injured, bring it to the above address. Right now the males are migrating. The females will come later. The Central Park hawks were predating some of the American Woodcocks. Also, if the bird is waving its body that is a hunting method, not a sign of injury.

Thanks,

Anne Lazarus, ST

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Man gropes woman inside East 24th Street building

Mar30 groperCops are on the lookout for a man who followed a woman into her building on East 24th Street and Lexington Avenue and groped her before taking off.

According to police on Monday, March 20 at around 6 a.m., the suspect followed the woman into the building and into the elevator. Once inside he grabbed her breasts over and under her shirt. The victim managed to push him off though, and he ran out of the building, heading east on 24th Street.

The victim, 54, wasn’t injured.

The suspect is described as black, 45 to 50 years old and 5’6″ to 5’7″ tall. He last seen wearing a green hat, a green jacket, black and white sweatpants and black and white sneakers.

Anyone with information in regards 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 Crime stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Police Watch: Man arrested for failed mugging, ‘Grinder’ busted in Union Square

MAN NABBED FOR FAILED MUGGING
Police arrested 51-year-old Kenneth Brwon for attempted robbery after, they said, he tried to snatch a woman’s purse and canvas shopping bags from her shoulder.
According to the district attorney, while at the corner of Park Avenue South and East 23rd Street last Sunday at 1 a.m., Brwon continued to pull on the victim’s bags even when multiple passersby intervened, and even when the victim struggled to get away by getting into a taxi.
When it was clear he wasn’t going to get the woman’s belongings, he allegedly attempted to flee but was arrested soon after.

‘GRINDER’ ARRESTED IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 24-year-old Kavon Morgan for sexual abuse at East 14th Street and Union Square East last Thursday at 7:30 a.m. Police said that Morgan used his sweatshirt to hide his erection and proceeded to thrust his hips and rub his groin area against the victim’s buttocks multiple times.

MAN BUSTED FOR ‘COCAINE’ IN GRAMERCY
Thirty-year-old Josh Lewis was arrested for possession of a controlled substance in front of 38 Gramercy Park East last Friday at 7:09 p.m. Police said that Lewis snorted cocaine from his right hand while on the sidewalk, and alleged cocaine was recovered from his pockets when he was searched.

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The Soapbox: Tips for writing letters to the editor

Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood in each one. All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 650 words, to editor@townvillage.net.

By Seth Steiner

This humble discourse concerns some aspects of a popular form of civic engagement, letters to the editor (LTEs):

• writing them
• submitting them and having them published (although writing without submission may offer cathartic benefit in itself)
• enjoying the whole process.

Your letter may have an effect on some, or many, readers. Directly or indirectly it may impact the decision-making of your political representatives… and therefore the quality of your life. The icing on the cake is that the process itself can be satisfying for you.

Some of the following, I hope, will be useful in your letter endeavors. If you feel it’s worthwhile, please don’t hesitate to pass it on to others, making any additions or corrections that may be helpful.

Who the heck am I, personally, to expound on this topic? My first letter was published in a July, 1966 issue of the Long Island Star Journal. It was signed by me and three friends who, we felt, had been unfairly and arbitrarily banned from playing stickball in our neighborhood playground. As a direct result of our efforts, the NYC Parks Dept. changed its age-discriminatory policy. And that made a lasting impression on me, leading to several decades of pestering on paper… as well as in person.

My next letter advocated against U.S. policy in the Vietnam War and was published in my college newspaper, the State News (MSU). And then the war was over… a mere eight years later!

About 30 years later, as an adult living in Manhattan, a dozen or so of my letters appeared in our neighborhood paper, Town & Village. These LTEs took on various issues stemming from the unethical, and sometimes illegal, policies and activities of our landlord, Met Life. Those actions had adversely impacted the living conditions and personal finances of over 30 thousand fellow residents living in buildings owned by Snoopy’s corporation.

Sprinkled in there was a letter or two motivated solely by impishness and April 1st tomfoolery.

And now, after moving to Los Alamos, my letter focus has been mainly on the oil industry and its threats to our health, to the environment and to our economic well-being. LTEs have been part of a wide-ranging effort by many folks to bring attention to, and slow, the planned rapid expansion of dangerous oil drilling, and associated hazardous activities, too near our homes and our sources of drinking water. It’s led to some real successes (e.g., denials of permits for both PCEC drilling and for the Phillips 66 rail spur/oil train project). There’s much more to be done.

And why might you want to write a letter yourself, and maybe soon? Some reasons for writing your first, or your next, letter-to-the-editor:

1) offering an idea to inform or sway public opinion on a current and consequential matter
2) getting something in the civic realm “off your chest”
3) expressing something you believe others will also find amusing
4) achieving the satisfaction that any creative endeavor may offer… and once your first draft is down, the real fun begins as you sculpt and hone… trimming and enhancing it one word, phrase or thought at a time
5) seeing your name in print
6) having others (friends, neighbors, relatives) see your name in print
7) being part of the free and wide-ranging discourse that’s essential to a well-functioning democracy
8) releasing steam after reading someone else’s LTE that annoyed you, and
9) it doesn’t require marching in the rain with a placard but can be done in the comfort of your home, while in bed, or on the beach with a laptop.

What to write about? What’s going on locally or globally that concerns you? Even if you’re not an “expert,” your opinion counts and your voice is important. The number of possible topics for your letter is boundless… anything you care about.

Surprise?! Most of your submitted letters will actually be published.

Do not hesitate to express your thoughts. Don’t think that the way you express them will not “measure up,” will not be “100 percent accurate,” will not do “absolute justice” to the idea you have in mind, or that the topic is not the “most overriding issue in the world (galaxy)” today. Once you put pen to paper or finger(s) to keyboard, you’ve broken the ice and the writing will come easier than you might have expected.

Keep it longer rather than shorter to take up more space on the page and attract more eyeballs. But know that it may be subject to some editing by the newspaper; and the result will often be a piece with more punch. Keep it shorter rather than longer if you can accomplish your goal with brevity and focus.

If your publication piece is longer than the prescribed length for a letter, it may be offered as “commentary” (or “Soapbox”).

As you read LTEs written by others, consider what makes hem compelling for you. Whether or not you agree with the author’s stance on the issue, something may be learned. What was it about the presentation that got your attention, piqued your interest, swayed your thinking, broadened or changed your perception, or your actual conclusion?

OK, maybe it’s time to pick up that pen? We all look forward to reading your letter to the editor!

Old Post Office site owners reduce height request

Rendering of 432-438 East 14th Street

By Sabina Mollot

The owners of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office, who’d proposed a 12-story residential building for the site, have since changed their request, by proposing a smaller, nine-story building instead. In January the owners, Benenson Capital Partners, partnering with Mack Real Estate Group, had gone to the Board of Standards and Appeals to request a zoning variance they’d need to build 12 stories since current zoning only allows for an eight-story structure. Their plan however was fought by community residents as well as the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

The owners’ most recent proposal, which would boost height 14.5 feet higher than what is currently allowable, has also already been blasted by the preservation group. The GVSHP has argued that a building that high is out of context for the East Village and has also claimed that the owners’ main reason for wanting the variance — higher than expected construction costs due to underground water and soil conditions — doesn’t constitute a unique hardship.

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MTA to reduce L train shutdown by three months

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA announced at the end of last week that the L train tunnel will likely be closed for 15 months instead of the originally-proposed 18 for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs and the shutdown will begin in April 2019 instead of that January.

Transportation blog Second Ave. Subway first noticed the changes to the plan in the board’s materials last Friday and MTA spokesperson Beth DeFalco confirmed via Twitter that the timeline had changed.

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Opinion: Benching of Bharara

The former U.S. attorney had this to say on Twitter last Monday.

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

If I were Donald Trump, I would have fired Preet Bharara too.

For the past eight years, Mr. Bharara has been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Appointed by President Obama, he has been a relentless prosecutor of official government corruption. And he has been an equal opportunity crime fighter against both Republicans and Democrats, bringing down some of the most powerful state legislators.

Before his dismissal last weekend, he was in the midst of cases against several of Governor Cuomo’s most trusted advisors who are now under criminal indictment for bribery, bid rigging and other charges. Bharara was also investigating Mayor de Blasio and his administration for political fundraising violations and steering lucrative contracts in exchange of big donations to the de Blasio campaign. The mayor is using public funds to employ expensive defense lawyers in the hopes of avoiding indictment.

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Kips Bay residents ask for temporary dog run

At a Community Board 6 meeting, delays on getting the funding for the dog run for Bellevue South Park were explained. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Dog owners in Kips Bay are pushing the Parks Department to consider a temporary solution for the lack of a dog run in Bellevue South Park. Members of multiple neighborhood groups made their case at a recent Parks Committee meeting of Community Board 6, arguing that a temporary run near the basketball courts would give residents an immediate place to play with Fido instead of having to wait at least five years while the Parks Department completes additional renovations on the park.

Kips Bay Neighborhood Association member Karen Lee said at the meeting that there is an area north of the basketball courts that is already fenced in and the group has submitted an application for a grant for $280,000 from Borough President Gale Brewer’s office to make changes to the space, such as an access ramp, a nonskid surface and automatic openers for the entrance gates. Lee said that the funding is mainly necessary to make the space accessible for residents with disabilities, which she said is one of the main motivations for pushing for the dog run in the first place.

“Dog runs in the city aren’t ADA compliant,” she explained prior to the meeting. “This would be the first dog run in the city that is ADA compliant. Hospital row is right there and there’s a huge community of disabled people in this neighborhood who already use this park.”

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Maloney calls for formation of coalition to fight anti-Semitism

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney discusses the recent rash of anti-Semitic vandalism across the country. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Last Monday, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney called for a domestic adaptation of Europe-based commission to fight anti-Semitism, after multiple acts of vandalism have damaged tombstones in Jewish cemeteries across the country.

Maloney pointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, which works to protect and preserve monuments and buildings in Europe associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens, but no such government agency exists to protect monuments within the United States.

“We spend time in foreign countries helping them preserve their cemeteries,” she said. “What about here?”

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The rent is too damn high, says this Republican Council candidate

Jimmy McMillan, who hopes to replace Rosie Mendez in the City Council, has also run for governor and mayor. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The race for the City Council seat currently occupied by a term-limited Rosie Mendez is beginning to heat up, with the newest candidate being Jimmy McMillan, otherwise known as “The Rent is Too Damn High” guy.

McMillan, who has previously run for mayor of New York City and governor as well as having had a brief dalliance with the 2012 presidential election, said he was approached about running for Council by Manhattan GOP.

The organization, formerly known as the New York Republican County Committee, gave McMillan its blessing in an email blast to members last week.

On getting the local Republican nod to run, McMillan, who’s running as a Republican as well as on his own party, The Rent is Too Damn High, said, “I almost cried.”

And this is no small thing. As the 70-year-old, mutton chopped, Vietnam vet and martial arts aficionado, who claims he was once tied up and doused with gasoline when working as an investigator, also told us, “I’m not a baby. I don’t cry.”

He’s also here to say what he’s been saying all along, that the rent is unquestionably too damn high, and if this is fixed, specifically by halving rents across the board, many of the other problems facing this city — like struggles faced by small businesses — will solve themselves.

“If you raise rents and you go to the store, they have to raise their prices in the store,” he said. “There is no way around it. The rent is too damn high,” he said, before going on to blast economic experts who opine on such matters. “I don’t have a degree, but they (think they) know more than me because they call themselves professors or economic experts. I’m an economic master.”

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City Council supports Hoylman’s TRUMP Act

City Councilmember Andrew Cohen with State Senator Brad Hoylman and Councilmember Mark Levine (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Thursday, State Senator Brad Hoylman announced the introduction of City Councilmember Andrew Cohen’s resolution urging the state legislature to pass Hoylman’s bill requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in New York. Cohen, whose district is in the Bronx, joined Hoylman on the steps of City Hall for the announcement, along with Councilmember Mark Levine, whose district is in northern Manhattan.

Hoylman noted that it isn’t a coincidence the legislation, known as the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public (T.R.U.M.P.) Act, shares its name with the president, “but it did take a very long time to come up with it,” he admitted.

The senator argued that the legislation is important because President Trump broke a 40-year tradition in which presidential candidates make their sources of income and other financial information available to the public.

“Another reason it’s important is that presidents aren’t subject to conflict of interest laws,” Hoylman said. “What is he hiding? He could be getting money from Russian oligarchs. Voters need that information to vote intelligently.”

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Letters to the Editor, Mar. 16

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

NYC homeless losing resources to others

Perhaps if any of our esteemed local representatives took the time to chat with some of the younger homeless, as I have, you/they would discover (as I did), that most of the people, aged 16-40, come from other states, as close as NJ and as far away as the Dakotas!

That being said, I do believe that NY State and City residents should help the homeless, but help our citizens first. There must be a law somewhere, or one that could be written and introduced that would give preferential treatment to NYC citizens out of our NYC taxes, and possibly even send these young, able-bodied (but mostly alcohol or drug-addled) men and women back to the state they came from, and let those tax payers take care of their own. You could start by asking for any kind of identification before giving them services such as food stamps, housing, etc.

The other big burden we share are the many single teenaged mothers, most of whom have live-in boyfriends, but don’t marry because the men don’t want to share the responsibility or the rent.

If any of our powers that be would walk First Avenue from 23rd Street to 32nd Street, near the men’s shelter, methadone clinics, outpatients at Bellevue or go from First Avenue to 10th Avenue, along any of the main crosstown streets, or any place where there are restaurants or storefronts on the avenues south of 50th Street, you will see hundreds of panhandlers, barely out of their teens, with signs begging for money.  The cardboard signs say all kinds of things to gain sympathy, and a cup at their feet for donations.

I am a life-long Democrat, as is my entire family, some of whom were active in politics. However, I think that the Democrats, in particular Mayor De Blasio, are ruining our city.  I hope he and Governor Cuomo read the above and do something about it!

Barbara Zapson, PCV

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Things to do on St. Patrick’s Day

The Irish Repertory Theatre has extended its run of “Crackskull Row,” which will be playing on Friday, March 17 at 8 p.m.

By Sabina Mollot

This year, St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, falls on a Friday, opening the options somewhat for those looking to celebrate even through the wee hours of the holiday.

And, as always, many venues are opening earlier than usual for those who want something to do before or after the parade in midtown.

At Kips Bay bar Paddy Reilly’s, there’ll be live music starting at 1 p.m. Irish rock tunes will be played by Craig and Tom Fitzpatrick from 1-4 p.m. and from 4-5 p.m. house band Raging Horn Pipes will take the stage. A staffer there also said guests can expect a few giveaways. There will be a cover charge that has yet to be determined, but the staffer said it would probably be ten dollars. Doors open at 9 a.m. and don’t close again until 4 a.m. Take note that the place has no kitchen, so anyone hoping for an authentic Irish meal may want to get a reservation in advance at Irish pub Molly’s Shebeen or Pete’s Tavern, which will also have a full Irish menu, for lunch or dinner.
Paddy Reilly’s, 519 Second Avenue at 29th Street, (212) 686-1210

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