Opinion: What’s this picture worth?

A father and daughter drowned while trying to cross a river between Matamoros in Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Julia Le Duc)

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

I remember the powerful image of an anguished female student standing over the bloodied lifeless body of a fellow Kent State College student killed by National Guardsmen during the Vietnam War protests. I remember the picture of the lone Chinese protester blocking a tank rolling through Tiananmen Square during that country’s crackdown on democracy. And who can forget the image of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the lunar surface with his giant leap for mankind 50 years ago next month? Such photographs capture a moment in history and became etched in our collective psyches. They also shape the way Americans feel about important events and shape policy issues to come.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In an instant, it can define a policy debate or provide instant clarity to a complicated issue with its powerful graphic. And so it was last week.

Who amongst us was not moved to tears while viewing the father and his daughter both drowned in their perilous attempt to make it across the American border because all other entries were closed off? This was a parent desperate to escape his country’s violence and secure a better life for his daughter and family. Every parent can understand that impulse. This father was certainly not of the criminal element as President Trump has tried to depict all immigrants from Central America.

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Letter to the editor, July 4

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Not laughing at cartoon on racism

Re: Editorial cartoon, T&V, June 6

I understand the message of the cartoon and I believe Chancellor Carranza is wrong, but can Town & Village show some balance when it comes to other people instead of showing only whites as victims? For example: Native Americans to whites: You whites committed genocide against us and stole our land. Can a cartoon be put in Town & Village showing this message?

K. Daniels

Opinion: Stop stalling and save Mom & Pop

By Kirsten Theodos, co-founder, Take Back NYC

All across the city, we are seeing the character and spirit of our neighborhoods being destroyed by hyper real estate speculation pushing out longtime established small businesses. Amazon cannot be blamed for all of the closings. A year ago, 41-year-old Cornelia Street Café was forced to close because of an exorbitant rent hike.

The Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) would have saved them by giving commercial tenants rights to renew their leases and negotiate reasonable terms. In a recent interview, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer made clear in her view the SBJSA shouldn’t apply to all commercial leases. Her argument is weak, that the “unintended consequences” of the bill would be including “white shoe law firms” and “financial institutions.”

Even if a business is a hedge fund, it should not be excluded from protection from unscrupulous landlords. Carving out specific types of businesses from the bill is discrimination and would certainly be legally challenged. After years of broken promises to save Mom & Pop, it is unclear why she is back on the small business beat and weighing in on this now.

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Officers honored at community council

Police officers Colin Dowd, Peter Rodriguez, Joe Sgroi, Kevin Fainer and Manny Rodriguez were honored for their work at the 13th precinct’s most recent community council meeting last month. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Five officers at the 13th precinct were honored as cops of the month at the precinct’s last community council meeting before the summer break on Tuesday, June 18. Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman said that crime in the precinct has been steadily decreasing and he said that the community policing program that launched at the precinct last October has helped.

“I attribute that to the cops on patrol and the NCO philosophy that’s driving down crime,” he said, referring to the program that assigns Neighborhood Coordination Officers to different areas in the precinct. “We had a tough year last year but we’ve been doing better.”

The first awards at the meeting went to two officers who work together as NCOs for Sector A, which covers Stuyvesant Town and Gramercy. Officers Peter Rodriguez and Manny Rodriguez caught a man on Avenue C earlier in the month after they suspected him of riding a stolen motorcycle. After the man was arrested, the officers found that he was wanted citywide for stolen motorcycles and had also been arrested for felony assault after molesting his sister.

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July 4th fireworks

July 4th Fireworks last year from Waterside Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Macy’s fireworks celebration for the July 4th holiday will originate from four barges south of the Brooklyn Bridge, from Pier 17 to the Manhattan Heliport, between 9:25 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. Subways will operate on a Saturday schedule. There will be increased subway service on the 4, 5 A, C, F and S 42nd Street Shuttle prior to and following the fireworks. There will also be firework shows around 9:25 p.m. at Exchange Place, Jersey City, and around 9:45 p.m. in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Pride Month ends with two parades

State Senator Brad Hoylman handed out US Constitutions with his husband David Sigal during the Pride March on Fifth Avenue this Sunday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The month honoring the LGBT movement ended on Sunday with the annual Pride March down Fifth Avenue, with even larger crowds than usual for the celebration due to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and WorldPride. The latter attracted visitors from all over the world both participating in the march and watching from the barricades.

Stuyvesant Town also celebrated Pride with a parade for the first time this year, holding the event last Wednesday after the originally scheduled date got rained out. Peggy Becker, a 25-year Stuy Town resident, said that she was excited that management had decided to host their own parade.

“It’s a historical event,” she said. “They’ve never done it before so I wanted to support it.”

High school senior Asher Dwoskin, Becker’s grandson, has marched in the city’s main parade in the past with a contingent organized by Amherst College, his mother’s alma mater, and said that marching in both that parade and Stuy Town’s was important to him.

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Busway delayed by lawsuit while SBS launches on 14th

Stuyvesant Town resident Mary Garvey argued against the lawsuit that prevented the launch of the new busway on 14th Street on Monday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Implementation of the proposed busway for 14th Street has been delayed after a judge issued a temporary restraining order, preventing the plan from going into effect on Monday with the launch of Select Bus Service for the M14A/D.

The MTA said that while SBS on the route was scheduled to launch on July 1 anyway, the lawsuit will make it more difficult to provide faster bus service.

“This ruling will undoubtedly hinder our goal of speeding up buses on one of the busiest and most congested arteries, and make traveling around the city harder for our customers,” MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek said. “Transit prioritization such as the city’s Transit and Truck Priority busway would help speed up Select Bus Service. In the meantime, we’re working with NYCDOT and NYPD to enforce existing rules to ensure our buses won’t be blocked by vehicles double parking and blocking bus stops.”

The New York Post reported on Friday that a Manhattan judge issued the restraining order as part of a lawsuit that attorney and West 12th Street resident Arthur Schwartz filed on behalf of a number of block associations on Wednesday, June 20 that opposed the restrictions on 14th Street.

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Attempted rape in Stuyvesant Town

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Attempted sexual assault suspect

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are looking for a man who attempted to rape a woman in Stuyvesant Town in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 29. 

The 20-year-old victim was walking near the M level exterior door of 7 Stuyvesant Oval around 5 a.m. when the suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her by the neck.

Police said that the victim resisted but she was knocked unconscious and fell to the ground when the suspect attempted to sexually assault her. Police said that another resident who was nearby came to the victim’s aid and called 911, after which the suspect fled on foot.

The suspect was last seen running west on East 17th Street towards Second Avenue. The victim suffered bruises to her forehead, neck and elbows and was transported to a nearby hospital for evaluation. 

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Registered sex offender arrested for L train groping

Suspect Gian Verdelli

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

This Friday, police arrested a man with multiple previous convictions for sex crimes in connection with a subway groping that took place on the L train near First Avenue earlier this week. The suspect was identified as 67-year-old Gian Verdelli, who the Daily News reported was just released from prison in May after he was convicted of another incident of sex abuse on the subway. 

The 37-year-old victim was on an Eighth Avenue-bound L train traveling from Bedford to First Avenue on Wednesday, June 26 around 8:50 a.m. when Verdelli allegedly put his hand under her dress and groped her. She and Verdelli both got off the train at First Avenue, where the victim took a photo of Verdelli with her phone before he fled the station. 

Verdelli is a level 2 sex offender and lives in a shelter on Wards Island, according to the New York State sex offender registry, and he was arrested there on Friday. 

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Stuyvesant Town artist recreates ‘Lavender Scare’ for PBS documentary

Illustration of historic scene by John Sicoransa

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town resident John Sicoransa hadn’t heard of the Lavender Scare when film editor Bruce Shaw contacted him about creating drawings for a documentary on the topic, but he immediately knew he wanted to get involved once he learned more about the troubling period in American history.

The Lavender Scare, the subject of a new PBS documentary by the same name that premiered last Tuesday, ran concurrently with the Red Scare, a period following World War II when Senator Joseph McCarthy stoked fears about an increase in communism. The Lavender Scare began in the 1950s when President Dwight Eisenhower declared homosexuals a security risk, in part because of a perception that they could be easily blackmailed. Federal workers were fired or forced to resign and others were denied jobs in the first place when the government suspected them of being gay.

McCarthy and attorney Roy Cohn, who later died of AIDS and was accused of being a closeted gay man, were responsible for many of the firings, which were supported by J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI.

“Once I heard the story outline and saw existing footage, I was all in,” Sicoransa said of the film.

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First Avenue florist retiring

Pete Tsoumas is retiring on Friday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

After 65 years in business, the colorful floral stand tucked in a corner at the Brooklyn-bound exit of the First Avenue L is selling its last bouquet on Friday. Current owner Pete Tsoumas has been operating the stand for almost 50 years, having taken it over from his grandfather and uncle after running three other stores in the city, and now he finally gets to retire. 

“If you told me I’d be here for 48 years, I’d say you’re crazy,” Tsoumas said. 

Tsoumas said that the construction on the station was a challenge but the main reason he’s closing up shop is his health and he’s looking forward to spending time with his family. 

“I need a rest. ‘If you don’t close on Friday, you won’t make it (to your appointment) in September,’” he said his doctor told him at a previous appointment, indicating that his stem-cutting arm gives him trouble.

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Local Pride events

The New York City Pride March will take place on Sunday, June 30. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising this Friday, Pride Month is reaching its peak this week. This is also the first year that WorldPride will be held in New York. The event, which was first held in Rome in 2000, promotes LGBTQ issues on an international level through parades and other cultural activities and has previously been held in Jerusalem, London, Toronto and Madrid. As the month comes to an end on Sunday, there are a number of local events scheduled for residents to celebrate. 

NYC Pride March

Perhaps the most well-known Pride event in the city is the annual Pride March. As in recent years, the march travels along Fifth Avenue but the route changed last year to include a new memorial dedicated to New York City men, women and children who have died of AIDS on Seventh Avenue at West 12th Street. The march starts at noon on Sunday, June 30 at 26th Street and Fifth Avenue just north of Madison Square Park and will head south. The route will then go west at Eighth Street towards the Stonewall National Monument in the West Village, then will head north again on Seventh Avenue, traveling past the NYC AIDS Memorial Park at West 12th Street and ending at West 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue. 

Dueling Drag Queens

This performance of dueling drag queens is part of the Union Square Partnership’s Citi Summer in the Square that takes place every Thursday through August 8. Every week features a different dueling act on the South Plaza main stage in Union Square and during Pride Week on Thursday, June 27 at 5 p.m. will feature Screaming Queens, a boutique entertainment company providing drag queens, impersonators, colorful theme characters and offbeat cabaret artists. Audience members can cheer for their favorite drag queen to win the title of “Miss Citi Summer in the Square 2019.”

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Middle Collegiate combines Juneteenth and Pride celebration

Middle Collegiate Church’s Rev. Jacqui Lewis with Shan Gilani, husband of late activist Gary Ranker and Ranker’s son Kevin (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Middle Collegiate Church combined civil rights and Pride for an all-inclusive Juneteenth celebration last week. Senior minister Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis said that the event for Pride month was consciously held on Juneteenth. The holiday, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the emancipation of all slaves from the former Confederate states in 1865.

“We wanted to do something Juneteenth-related because it doesn’t get nearly enough recognition,” Lewis said. “We’ve been celebrating Pride 24/7/365 at Middle for decades and we’re super excited to combine these two liberation movements. This was a way to celebrate these two things together.”

The event, which honored civil rights activist Ruby Sales and gay rights activist Gary Ranker, who died earlier this year, also served as the launch of the photo exhibit, “Queer Faith,” which was also featured at the Union Theological Seminary in East Harlem.

Sales was at the event and spoke about realizing that she was a lesbian, coming out and joining the gay rights movement while fighting for civil rights.

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Grace on fire: Park wins Civil Court primary race

Grace Park has been an attorney with the Legal Aid Society for 14 years.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Legal Aid attorney Grace Park won the Democratic primary for Civil Court Judge in District 4 during Tuesday’s election.

According to the Board of Elections, Park received 73.45 percent of the vote and opponent Lynne Fischman-Uniman got 26.09 percent, with 90.38 percent of the scanners reported.

There was a slight controversy regarding the primary at the 11th hour on Election Day when Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents received a letter from neighbors endorsing Fischman-Uniman that some residents felt was deliberately meant to look like it was sent by the Tenants Association. The letter didn’t mention the TA at all, but residents Roberta Moldow, Jane Crotty and Alan Fleishman signed the letter, which was addressed to “residents of Stuyvesant Town.”

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Letters to the editor, June 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Bike dock will encourage trespassing

The following is an open letter to STPCV General Manager Rick Hayduk regarding the Citi Bike station that was recently installed in Playground 9.

Dear Rick,

I appreciate your keeping the residents apprised of what management is undertaking but I fear with the latest bike related undertaking you are working at cross purposes.

One of the more frequently heard complaints from the resident population is the plethora of bicycles on the premises. You have tried to establish rules governing their use that are blithely ignored. They are honored more in the breach than the observance. I don’t see how providing “quick and easy” access addresses the problem. We are already awash with Citi Bike docking stations along the perimeter of the complex. Why invite the interloper onto the premises?

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