Photo courtesy of Waterside Plaza
By Marsha Sorotick
On the first day of Spring, 2014, much to the surprise of Waterside residents, a lone female duck was seen strolling around the Plaza looking like she owned the place. Shortly thereafter, she was observed taking a morning swim in the neat little pond that is part of the Plaza’s garden space. In time, a mallard joined her in the pond. To the residents’ delight, the two of them would sun and groom themselves on the ponds’ rocks, take short swims, and an afternoon snooze.
It eventually was reported by the garden staff that, apparently, it wasn’t all sunning and swimming and snoozing. Eggs were discovered, well hidden in the garden’s shrubbery. So began several weeks of waiting, watching and wondering by Watersiders. Checking on the duck eggs became the thing to do.
The day finally arrived when the ducklings appeared in all their fuzzy cuteness swimming with their mom in the Plaza pond. They stayed until they were deemed ready to leave by their mom and, as is their tradition, marched out of the garden in single file behind their mother, down the Plaza steps to the river.
Amazon can’t rescue your parakeet
This week, Town & Village would like to acknowledge one of the many ways that independent, owner-run businesses, as opposed to employee-run chains, can benefit the community.
Along with helping to keep any money spent by neighborhood residents in the same neighborhood and having knowledgeable people around to answer questions instead of clueless kids telling customers to call corporate, they are also generally fiercely loyal to the communities they serve.
A perfect example of this Carole Husiak. Husiak and her husband Johnny own Ibiza Kidz, the children’s store that only reopened last Friday after the electrical fire over three weeks ago in Stuyvesant Town.
By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
The great Motown singing group The Supremes had a big hit called “You Can’t Hurry Love.” But what is the rush in getting Judge Brett Kavanaugh safely ensconced on the United States Supreme Court for the rest of his life?
What seemed like a fairly easy road to confirmation albeit partisan is now is now filled with land mines for Brett Kavanaugh. Three weeks ago after the hearings ended, Kavanaugh seemed to answer all the questions in a knowledgeable and legally astute way. Sure he dodged the tough ones like how he might vote on abortion rights and presidential authority, but in fairness, so do all nominees, pretty much. There is no question that his qualifications from the standpoint of experience and scholarship are impressive.
The opposition to Mr. Kavanaugh did not stem from whether or not he was qualified, but rather how he might vote on critical issues and the belief that he will tilt the court unalterably to the political right. His predecessor Justice Anthony Kennedy was considered a centrist. That lurch to the right could easily last for a generation or more.
By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
Elections results usually reveal answers to political questions. Last week’s Democratic primaries did that, but also raised a raft of new questions, some of which will determine the course of important policy issues next year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo defeated his rival Cynthia Nixon with nearly two thirds of the vote. Usually that would be cause for celebration in the winning camp. But the noticeable muted response from the Cuomo campaign speaks volumes.
In vanquishing his opponent, Cuomo outspent Nixon by almost 10 to 1, depleting his considerable campaign war chest. And along the way he made some bad gaffes which may come back to haunt him. Moreover, his political strategy over his first eight years in office of maintaining control over the state legislature seems to be coming to an end.
By tacitly supporting the breakaway Senate Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC) for years, Cuomo enabled the Republican Party to maintain control over the State Senate. The Republican leadership in turn kept a lid on a number of progressive pieces of legislation emanating from the Assembly including tenant protections, health insurance reforms, tax policy, education spending and political campaign contributions.
On Thursday, September 13, Democrat voters in New York will have the opportunity to vote, at the primary level, for their governor, lieutenant governor and public advocate. In the 74th Assembly District, which runs along the East Side from the East Village to Tudor City, there will also be the chance to vote for their representative in the New York Assembly.
For this seat, we endorse Harvey Epstein.
Epstein received our endorsement prior to the special election in April and is getting it again now for the same reason, his record of getting results for tenants. His opponents have argued – and rightly so – that it’s nearly impossible to beat the “Democratic machine,” a candidate supported firmly by the party, which in this case is Epstein. However, we do believe he has rightfully earned the trust he’s gotten and look forward to seeing him implement not only tenant protections but reforms to the state’s voting system as he has already sponsored legislation to do.
As for governor, we support Cynthia Nixon.
By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
Last week was a particularly interesting week in politics. Governor Andrew Cuomo in his unbridled pursuit to appeal to the left leaning activists in the Democratic Party who he fears will support Cynthia Nixon in next month’s primary for Governor, again attacked President Trump. For most Democrats this is low hanging fruit. But in doing so he committed a major political faux pas. Speaking off the cuff Andrew Cuomo declared that America has “never been all that great,” a clear reference to Trump’s slogan of “making America great again”. That was a big oops.
With apologies to: Native Americans who were pushed off their land to make way for new Americans; black people who were legally enslaved in this nation until 1865; women who were deprived of the right to vote until 1920; American citizens who were imprisoned during World War II for the “crime” being of Japanese descent; thousands of other Americans who were blacklisted during the Joe McCarthy “Red Scare” days… Americans overwhelmingly think that America was and is great.
And with all our blemishes, imperfections and failures, I agree. Our political system of representative government was historic. Our national mission statement to protect free speech and one’s right to worship in their own way was unheard of 250 years ago. Our Constitution is among the most copied documents, a template for emerging democracies. And the generosity of the American people and (historically at least) our government to aid the less fortunate and oppressed around the globe is unmatched in human history.
So Andrew Cuomo went off script and said something that was politically stupid and offensive to veterans and many others. It will surely come back to haunt him as he seeks support around the country for his much-desired 2020 bid for the White House. The reaction to his remark from many Democratic Party leaders around the state and elsewhere was swift and pointedly critical. Those detractors risk incurring the wrath of Mr. Cuomo who does not appreciate dissent.
By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
There are valid reasons to support a candidate running for governor this year other than Andrew Cuomo. He has certainly failed to reign in corruption in Albany as he promised he would. That is principally because he has been weak on changing campaign contribution laws and gargantuan political donations. These are the very laws that have enabled him to build a bulging $31M campaign war chest. He was slow to try to bring together warring factions of the Democratic majority in the State Senate, so much so that the Republican Party with fewer elected members has maintained control of that House for the past number of years thwarting pro-tenant and pro-consumer legislation in favor of big business.
Governor Cuomo has refused to increase taxes, even by a dime, on the wealthiest one percent in New York State while vital social service and education programs have been underfunded for lack of resources. He has tried to evade responsibility for the deteriorating condition of our mass transit system even though he controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). He has unnecessarily ramped up the feud with Mayor De Blasio, displaying an unflattering vindictive streak.
However, he cannot be taken to task, as “Sex and the City” actress turned governor candidate Cynthia Nixon has tried to do, over the issue of allowing municipal employees to go on strike. Some of us vividly remember the devastating strikes in New York City by the transportation workers, the sanitation workers and public school teachers in the 1960s and ‘70s. We can recall how difficult it was getting around the five boroughs during the transit strikes and the mounds of rotting garbage on the streets during the sanitation strikes. Fortunately, fire fighters and police never went down that road, and that is largely because of the Taylor Law, which Ms. Nixon wants to abolish.
Just in case anyone was thinking that things are just too easy these days for proprietors of small businesses in this city, here is yet more proof that their problems are a lot bigger than Amazon and changing consumer preferences.
Many mom-and-pop shops, who already face an uphill battle thanks to the uncertainty of lease renewals, endless fees and fines from the city and rising rents, generally cannot afford to get tangled up in lengthy litigation battles. So it wasn’t surprising to learn that at least a couple of local businesses blinked when threatened by a potential lawsuit from a serial plaintiff charging discrimination against the disabled.
Access for wheelchair users and other people with mobility challenges is very much a real issue; one that is thankfully finally getting some attention thanks to a recent lawsuit that is trying to stop the L train shutdown.
That litigation has already successfully drawn attention to the willful ignoring of the needs of the disabled to get around the city on mass transit like anyone else. However, that isn’t what was filed by plaintiff Arik Matatov, a wheelchair-using man and his attorney, against dozens of small businesses in Manhattan, while, the New York Post revealed last week, he can actually walk.
A similar offender in Stuy Town in 2016 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Squirrels have been a hot topic in this community and in this newspaper over the years. Each side has been unexpectedly passionate in defending its position, to say the least: one of the most recent controversies involved a resident who received a threatening postcard because of a lukewarm annoyance at the rodents’ ceaseless begging. But the debate has finally become personal because on a weekend earlier this summer, I had an encounter that tipped my bias in favor of a ban on squirrel-feeding.
I was sitting on a bench in Madison Square Park on a Saturday afternoon, minding my own business, when I felt something tap against my shoulder. I turned and realized I was almost face to face with a squirrel, not the expected human hand, perched on the back of the bench, who for some reason thought I had a treat for him.
I’ve never had particularly strong feelings about this topic before and could see both sides of the argument. Squirrels can be a bit ratty-looking but also cute in their own way and I can understand the appeal of communing with nature in a city where nature is scarce. And if someone wants squirrels surrounding them or even climbing all over their body, that’s their business.
When the concrete jungle starts exploding, seemingly out of nowhere, shutting down much of a neighborhood for a week (with some buildings still off limits!) the first question is what happened and why? Then of course one has to ask when could this happen again and where? And whose fault was this?
The steam pipes underneath the streets’ surface are Con Ed’s to maintain but the company has not yet been able to explain the cause of such a major pipe malfunction although we can certainly guess. The system and this city’s infrastructure are old. This isn’t the first steam blast to rock a neighborhood and probably won’t be the last. Still, it’s a scary thought that these geysers-in-waiting can shatter right through the concrete at any time.
So it now has to be asked what can be done to prevent future catastrophes like the one in Flatiron last Thursday and whether the city and Con Ed will commit to some plan of action.
It is miraculous that no one was seriously injured as a result of this recent blast. (Just ask our company driver who nearly drove into it had it not been for a red light!) We believe Con Ed and the city are doing a thorough job in inspecting and cleaning the impacted buildings and in communicating their progress. Additionally, on Tuesday Con Ed made a statement on Twitter that once the cleanup is finished the utility would conduct a “thorough investigation” into what caused the pipe to break. That’s a good start. We will hold them to it!
By former Assemblyman Steve Sanders
Five years ago this month, Bill de Blasio was running for mayor against a bevy of better-known candidates featuring City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Congressman Anthony Weiner in the Democratic Primary. His early standing in the polls was fifth among five.
As the summer wore on, one by one they fell by the wayside.
Weiner’s political career dissolved amid a flurry of revelations about his obsession with sending pictures and texts of the most personal nature to women (and later even girls). He was utterly discredited. Quinn came across as entitled and arrogant and the voters soured on her. Another contender, City Comptroller John Liu, had been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for illegal political advertising and never gained traction. And Bill Thompson could not repeat his impressive showing from four years earlier.
By the end of August just weeks before the primary, voters began to gravitate towards de Blasio by process of elimination. He was progressive and made great promises about a liberal renaissance after 20 years of Republican rule in City Hall.
Immigration debate all of a sudden
Re: “Politics & Tidbits: Greats of Cooperstown,” T&V, July 12
Steve Sanders wrote that one of the reasons he liked his visit to Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame was because of the protest he saw against Trump’s separation of babies from their parents.
Children have been separated from their parents since the first parent in the United States was put in prison hundreds of years ago. Why have we not heard protests against this by the Democrats until Trump started enforcing immigration law?
What is the solution proposed by the Democrats, to keep both children and their parents in detention? That is against the law. The solution of the Democrats is not to detain the immigrants at all and to let gangs such as MS-13, hostile terrorists and foreign disease invade our country unchecked.
By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Two weeks ago my wife Tammy and I took our pilgrimage to the Baseball Hall of Fame in upstate Cooperstown.
As devoted fans of the game, we periodically renew our affection for the history of America’s great pastime by visiting the museum where the greatest of the great are enshrined for generations to see. Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Koufax, Mays, Seaver, Griffey, Piazza and scores of others. Immortals of baseball for sure.
Cooperstown is also a wonderful and quaint village, smaller than Stuyvesant Town. Nestled along Glimmerglass Lake, it is bucolic and it is politically conservative as is much of upstate New York. The Hall of Fame Museum is about a 15-minute stroll from our hotel. As we left for our walk, I was as psyched as a Little Leaguer, anticipating seeing all the new exhibits and to relive baseball memories from years gone by.
But like life itself, our plans were interrupted by the unexpected.
On June 26, New Yorkers cast their votes in a primary that was more eventful than usual due to a handful of upstart Congressional candidates who’d fought hard to unseat veteran lawmakers.
One, who identifies as socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, even managed to upset Rep. Joe Crowley, a Democrat representing a district in the Bronx and Queens.
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, 25-year congress member Carolyn Maloney managed to hold on to her seat with wide margins, though not as overwhelmingly wide as usual.
Like with the Crowley race, Maloney’s opponent Suraj Patel tried to paint the incumbent as an establishment politician, out of touch with younger members of the Democrat Party. Ultimately voters in the 12th Congressional District either didn’t agree or didn’t care and re-elected her.
While less of a high-profile fight than that of Cuomo and Nixon, locally the hot seat is occupied by Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, who is running against Suraj Patel, a hospitality executive and NYU professor of business ethics who is hoping to ride the “blue wave” against the Trump administration (as well as the former breakaway group of State Senate Democrats) to victory.
This so-called blue wave has been an interesting phenomenon. It has helped Nixon, an actress who has never held office, gain credibility so far in her attempts to argue Cuomo is not a true Democrat. However, her attempt to dethrone an incumbent is still an uphill one as it is also for Patel, despite his being able to outraise Maloney in recent months.
The race has not been without its controversies. As Town & Village previously reported, Patel sued two other candidates over invalid petitions and they’ve since been knocked off the ballot. Additionally, other published reports have shown discrepancies over what has been Patel’s primary residence and where he’s voted in recent years.
Town & Village interviewed Patel, an East Villager who grew up in Indiana with parents who emigrated from India, about his campaign, in March. He has some relevant political experience, having worked on both campaigns for former President Obama and having worked pro bono as an attorney for immigrants stranded at JFK last year during a travel ban. Patel would actually like to defund ICE and with immigration detention centers where families are being separated indefinitely currently making headlines, the idea doesn’t just come off as the rantings of a far-left fringe candidate. (This week, Maloney signed into legislation that would end this despicable and un-American policy and has been protesting the separations.)