Corey Feldman supporting Hoylman’s Child Victims Act

State Senator Brad Hoylman, Corey Feldman and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal hold a sign showing how the Senate has yet to include the legislation in the state budget. (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Wednesday, actor Corey Feldman joined the chorus of activists in Albany calling for the passage of the Child Victims Act.

The legislation, sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, has been included in the budget proposed by the governor as well as the Assembly’s proposed budget but not the Senate’s. It aims to significantly stretch out the statute of limitations so people who were sexually abused as children have longer to file a claim in court.

In Albany, Feldman spoke at a press conference, where Hoylman said Feldman called out Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan personally for not supporting the CVA.

He also spoke about his own experience with pedophiles.

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Council calls for stronger rent regs

Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (at right) waits to give testimony about why rent regulations are needed. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The City Council Housing and Buildings committee held a hearing on legislation aimed at maintaining rent stabilization in the city this past Monday, with city elected officials also expressing strong support for the repeal of various policies at the state level that allow landlords to increase rents and move apartments out of the program, such as vacancy decontrol, preferential rent and vacancy bonuses.

Although the state controls rent regulation, the legislation heard in the Council this week proposed the extension of rent stabilization in the city and includes a resolution determining that a public emergency requiring rent control continues to exist and will continue to exist on and after April 1.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson pressed representatives from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development at the hearing about whether or not the de Blasio administration supports the repeal of vacancy decontrol.

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Gore and Cuomo get down and clean in energy talk

Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

By Michelle Deal Winfield

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both rolled out their vision of how to provide clean energy throughout New York State at a discussion hosted by New York University.

Hundreds attended the event on Friday, which was held at NYU’s Washington Square South Kimmel Center.

Gore, who received thundering applause upon stepping up to the podium, described how New York can help reclaim its environment by reducing fossil fuels. In 2011, 143 countries became involved in Gore’s Climate Reality Project which educates and advocates for climate change. He reiterated how scientifically, it’s known that the use of fossil fuels disrupts the water cycles. The North Pole and Artic regions are spilling out due to increased temperatures. The recent hurricanes are increasing every six months. Gore listed the following suggestions: 1) adding solar panels, 2) wind turbines and 3) the use of electric vehicles.

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TenantsPAC, on Cynthia Nixon for governor, says: Anyone but Cuomo

Cynthia Nixon

Update: Cynthia Nixon has announced that she is officially a candidate for governor.

By Sabina Mollot

Recently, actress Cynthia Nixon spoke with experts about a possible run for governor, according to numerous published reports. It’s also been reported that Governor Andrew Cuomo has since slammed the potential candidate as not being serious, figuring the move must have been orchestrated by his old adversary, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who Nixon has been a supporter of.

We reached out to TenantsPAC to see how the organization would feel about a Governor Nixon, and the response, from spokesperson and treasurer Mike McKee was not a surprise.

“I’m ABC,” said McKee, the acronym for which naturally stands for “anyone but Cuomo.”

“He’s been a complete failure on tenants’ rights and has failed to pass fundamental protections even though he gives lip service,” said McKee. “Actions speak louder than words.”

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Maloney trying to pass women’s equality bill… for the 12th time

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney (center) with Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Girl Scouts of Greater New York CEO Meridith Maskara (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Maloney)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is calling on her colleagues to pass a federal and state Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which despite having been introduced at the federal level 11 times by Maloney, has yet to even get a vote.

Alongside Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and the New York Girl Scouts at the Fearless Girl statue in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, Maloney emphasized that the only right guaranteed to women in the Constitution is the right to vote. The amendment, she argued, would prohibit denying equal rights to women under the law by ensuring that government programs and federal resources benefit men and women equally and would guarantee equal footing for women in the legal systems of all 50 states.

While the bill was passed by Congress in 1972, it was three states short of ratification and has still not been brought to a vote. Maloney noted on Saturday, however, that her legislation has 28 new co-sponsors as of last Friday, for a total of 144, and Nevada ratified the amendment just last year, bringing the number of states needed for ratification down to two.

The bill needs to pass two successive legislatures and be brought to an election in New York to pass on the state level.

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Maloney’s former opponent writes book about race

By Sabina Mollot

Two years ago Robert Ardini, a marketing executive, was running a campaign against Carolyn Maloney for her long-held seat in Congress. The Republican political outsider ultimately only got 16.08 percent of the vote, but said he learned a number of lessons from the race, which he has since outlined in a new book called Running for Congress in Trump’s Backyard.

Ardini, formerly a Manhattanite who now lives in Long Island City, spoke with Town & Village about the book, which was semi-self-published through CreateSpace. This means while the book faced editorial scrutiny from the South Carolina-based publisher, Ardini still held most of the control. He also said he wanted to do the promotion for the book himself, which he’s just begun.

He said he wrote the book for the following reasons.

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As students protest, gun safety legislation languishes

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney with student protesters in Washington (Photo courtesy of Congress Member Carolyn Maloney)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been pushing for stronger gun laws for years, was in Albany on Wednesday negotiating Republican-proposed budget measures as the walkouts were taking place. His own second-grade daughter Silvia Hoylman-Sigal was participating in one of them at her school.

However, when reached on the phone, Hoylman said that gun control bills, including his own, have recently been blocked by the Republican majority before they could even be heard on the floor.

This includes his own legislation, co-sponsored with State Senator Brian Kavanagh, which would allow families and law enforcement officials to intervene when a person known to be dangerous has a gun.

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Students take aim at lax gun laws

Across the nation, students participated in a 17-minute walkout from their schools on Wednesday morning as a protest against gun violence. One school with many protesters was Gramercy’s School of the Future. Town & Village intern Kristy Ye-Ling, a high school student there, attended and reported a crowd outside of Gramercy Park that appeared to be over 1,000 strong. Students circled the park while chanting and holding signs that read things like “We shouldn’t be afraid to go to school!” and “Parkland? Yikes!” The high school walkouts were in response to last month’s massacre at the Parkland, Florida high school where a disturbed 19-year-old shot 17 people to death. (Photos by Kristy Ye-Ling)

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Tenants asked to speak at Council hearing on rent stabilization

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association is asking neighbors to share their stories about why rent stabilization is needed at an upcoming hearing.

On Monday, March 19 at 1 p.m. the City Council Housing and Buildings Committee has scheduled a public hearing on two measures introduced by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. One is to renew the city rent control law (which doesn’t apply to ST/PCV), and the other (Intro 600-A) is to renew the NYC Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 (which does), for three more years.

In an email to residents on Friday, the TA stated, “As long as the city vacancy rate is below 5 percent the city can renew a declaration of housing emergency. The vacancy rate is currently 3.63 percent, according to the Census Bureau.”

Tenants will have the opportunity to give testimony or simply attend the hearing to support neighbors.

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Tenant lobbying event in Albany

Real Rent Reform (R3), a coalition of tenant advocacy groups, is organizing a lobbying day in Albany on Thursday, March 22 to tell the State Senate to close the loopholes that are making housing in this city unaffordable. Even in rent-regulated apartments, the rent is too high and stability is at risk. Nearly 266,000 tenants live with a preferential rent which means their rent can jump hundreds of dollars when their lease is up.

Transportation will be provided free of cost by R3 as well as a light breakfast and lunch.

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will have representatives there and is asking neighbors to attend.

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Don’t arm teachers, say teens

Following the massacre last month at a Florida high school, the idea of arming teachers in classrooms has been floated by President Trump. This week a terroristic shooting threat directed at New Jersey schools this week prompted those schools to close. Town & Village intern Kristy Ye-Ling has asked her fellow high schoolers at School of the Future what they thought of arming teachers as a way to protect students.

Diego Winger, senior
Teachers are not soldiers or police. They don’t have the proper training, and they should just be dedicated to teaching students. If it gets to the point that schools need more defense, it is the school security that should be beefed up to a reasonable degree.

Aiden O’Sullivan, senior
I think that arming teachers is counterproductive to this goal of protecting people and that’s what everybody wants — fewer children dying in schools. Arming teachers with the same weapons that killed them in the first place creates a more hostile and unsafe environment and many kids don’t go to school because they have issues with authority. Feeling even more threatened won’t motivate them to come to school.

Barajas, senior
It’s unsafe because what if a student acts out and takes it out of their possession?

SBJSA advocates fear Council will vote to weaken legislation

Mar8 Future Bank of America

Four storefronts on 23rd Street at the corner of Fifth Avenue will soon become a Bank of America. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The Small Business Congress, which has been pushing hard for the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, is on the offensive, preparing for possible mutations of the bill in the City Council that the SBC fears would render it useless.

Steve Barrison, an attorney and the executive vice president of the SBC, is saying despite new Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s assertions that he wants to see the long-blocked legislation get a hearing, the Devil will be in the details of what Barrison expects will become “a REBNY bill.”

In an email earlier this week, the Small Business Congress founder Sung Soo Kim stated that he is seeking exactly 26 volunteers to convince the Council members who do not support the bill to change their minds.

It may not be easy, though, since technically the SBJSA is dead, Barrison said. This is because the prime sponsor had been Annabel Palma of the Bronx who was term-limited on December 31, 2017.

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Candidate blasts Maloney on Israel, Middle East

Sander Hicks

By Sabina Mollot

In the race for the Congressional seat occupied by Carolyn Maloney, one of two of her Democrat challengers believes there’s a lot she’s wrong about.

Sander Hicks, a political activist who runs a carpentry businesses based in Maspeth, openly admits to being on the offensive. This is after having been advised by supporters, including his father Norman Hicks, a former World Bank economist, to “stop being so nice,” he explained.

Additionally, Hicks, 47, said, although he insisted he is trying to run a positive campaign based on “respect for all religions” (he identifies as Quaker and interfaith) he has also found Maloney to be unresponsive to concerns from constituents like himself.

Maloney, he noted, never directly responded when he called her office about long-classified documents from a Congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks that were finally released in 2016, known as the “28 pages.” Instead, Hicks said, he was passed around from one office employee to the next until, finally a year later, he got a form letter response. However, it wasn’t even on the issue he’d brought up, but about Maloney’s Zadroga Act for 9/11 responder healthcare.

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Maloney’s opponent focused on immigrants’ rights, gun control

Suraj Patel, pictured at his campaign office in the East Village, has raised over $550,000. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who’s easily held her seat for 25 years, will be facing two challengers in the June primary. One of them is Suraj Patel, an East Village resident and entrepreneur, who insists that it’s not the incumbent he’s challenging, but the status quo.

“People say competition is great for democracy, but technically it’s required for it to have any meaning,” he told Town & Village this week. “A lot of people ask, ‘Why are you challenging an incumbent?’ I’m challenging a party. I couldn’t wait my turn anymore.”

Patel, who’s also an attorney (though he doesn’t practice much), has some experience in politics, having worked as an advance associate for former President Barack Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. These days, he’s an assistant adjunct professor of business ethics at New York University’s Stern Business School and also hosts a lecture series on voting rights called “Talks on Law.” He also owns, with his family, Sun Group, a company that owns motel franchises around the country. At this time, he said there are 12 motels operated by the hospitality group, some of them with partners, though none are in New York City.

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Powers’ first bill takes aim at sexual harassment

Council Member Keith Powers earlier this week in committee (Photo by Emil Cohen/City Council)

By Sabina Mollot

For his first bill as a City Council member, Keith Powers is hoping to change language in the city’s Human Rights Law so that employees of very small companies who are facing sexual harassment can file suit against the harassers. Previously the law did not protect employees of companies that employ fewer than four people.

The bill, along with 10 others aiming to fight sexual harassment, will be discussed at a hearing on Thursday. The legislation package, including Powers’ bill, has been heavily inspired by the #MeToo movement, with Powers saying he became aware of the loophole last fall in a conversation about the movement with a friend who’s a civil rights attorney.

The friend had mentioned that state law was tweaked several years ago to end immunities from companies with fewer than four employees, but the city had yet to follow suit.

Powers, who’d just been elected, made a note then to tackle the issue once in office.

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