Opinion: Creating commercial waste zones in NYC would be a mistake

By Jessica Walker

A troubling situation taking place in Los Angeles should be setting off alarm bells across Manhattan, especially for small businesses. LA recently implemented a new system for handling trash pickup at businesses that, despite several years of planning, has resulted in skyrocketing bills and inefficient service.

This matters to Manhattan because the de Blasio administration is planning to implement a similar system right here in New York. You may not know that large businesses and commercial establishments in our city currently pay private carters to remove their garbage and recyclables and they rely on competitive bidding to get the best contracts. However, the mayor’s proposal would limit choice by allowing only one company to pick up commercial garbage and recyclables in each large geographic zone – with no input from the businesses themselves.

This plan would do away with the current competition that drives down prices and improves service from efficient and well-regulated private companies. What has happened in Los Angeles demonstrates just why this is so problematic.

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Opinion: Star Wars

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

The first Governor Cuomo (Mario) was fond of saying that “politicians campaign in poetry, but govern in prose.” What he meant was that political campaigns are filled with lofty sounding rhetoric, but leading a government takes practical and carefully detailed policies. The place to actually look for what public officials mean to do and their priorities is found in the budget each year. That is the vehicle to literally put your money where your mouth is.

Last week the legislature and the governor put the finishing touches on the state budget for the new Fiscal Year. It was passed during the Passover Seder and hours before Easter Sunday. One thing for sure: There was no candy for Mayor de Blasio in those Albany Easter eggs. Mostly just bitter herbs.

Andrew Cuomo, who has never been shy about reacting to real or perceived slights, is using his powers as governor to the fullest extent to belittle and damage Bill de Blasio. However, he is doing a disservice to the people of New York City. It does not matter how this rivalry began. It has morphed into full-scale war. To make things even more interesting, both men fancy themselves as the progressive champion and alternative to the policies of President Trump. And there is not enough space for two such gargantuan egos in the same room or from the same state.

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Green Party candidate running for now vacant Assembly seat

Adrienne Craig-Williams hopes to make rent more affordable for stabilized as well as market-rate tenants. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On April 24, four candidates will be on the ballot in the hope of winning the now-vacant Assembly seat previously occupied by State Senator Brian Kavanagh.

Out of those four, two are Third Party candidates, Juan Pagan of the Reform Party and Adrienne Craig-Williams of the Green Party. They will face off against Democrat Harvey Epstein and Republican Bryan Cooper.

Craig-Williams, a resident of the East Village (formerly Peter Cooper Village), is running on a platform of justice system reform and affordable housing.

Prior to the holiday weekend, she discussed her campaign with Town & Village over coffee at Ninth Street Espresso (which is actually on East 10th Street).

Craig-Williams, 37, officially launched her campaign at the beginning of March. She would have started sooner, but didn’t know she was running until February when an expected party candidate decided to back out.

However, Craig-Williams, who’s been active in her party since 2004, usually to help champion its candidates, insisted she’s in it to win it.

Responses to her candidacy have been encouraging, she said, and no one has attempted to talk her out of it. “I don’t think people consider the Green Party a threat,” she admitted, “unless they want to blame the party for something.”

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Woman robbed at gunpoint on East 20th Street

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who robbed a woman at gunpoint in Gramercy shortly after midnight on Sunday.

Police said the woman was walking past 201 East 20th Street at Third Avenue when the man approached her, pulled out a small, black handgun and demanded her cash. The woman turned over her money, putting it into a bag the man had and he fled the scene. She was uninjured in the incident. It isn’t clear how much money she lost and police don’t have a description of the suspect although he was caught in some grainy surveillance footage.

Anyone with information 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 or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Kips Bay senior reported missing

Apr12 Kalanzi

James Kalanzi

Police are looking for a Kips Bay man who was last seen on Tuesday, March 27 at 1 p.m., leaving his home at 14 East 28th Street.

James Kalanzi, 74, is black, 5’5″ tall, around 130 pounds and has short black hair. He was last seen wearing dark pants, a dark jacket with lettering on the back, and a hat.

Anyone with information in regards to this missing male is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). All calls are strictly confidential.

 

 

Idea floated for buses on barges during L shutdown

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said she feels the alternatives presented by the MTA and DOT are not sufficient. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Just call it another L-ternative.

The operator for NYC Ferry has a mitigation plan for the L train shutdown: buses on boats. Hornblower, the company that runs the ferry service that will soon include a route stopping at Stuyvesant Cove Park, presented the preliminary plan to Community Board 6’s transportation committee, whose members were hesitantly supportive of the idea.

Skye Ostreicher, a representative for Hornblower, said at the meeting that the plan, known as “B-link,” could mitigate up to 50 percent of the ridership needing alternatives in the absence of the L train. The plan would allow riders to get on a bus near the Lorimer Street L station and stay on until different stops in Manhattan, primarily on the usual route of the L train. The buses would be loaded onto barges that Ostreicher said would take the three-minute trip across the river before letting commuters off in Manhattan.

The presentation showed the buses arriving in Manhattan at East 20th Street and Avenue C before heading down Avenue C, west on East 14th Street and turning at Union Square East to do a loop back to the docking point at East 20th Street. The route would operate as a closed loop, backtracking in the opposite direction for service to Brooklyn.

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What does the Democrats’ ‘unity’ deal mean for tenants?

Apr12 Cousins Cuomo Klein

Senate Democrat Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein (Photo courtesy of governor’s office)

Following what is being touted as Senate Democratic chamber reunification, Town & Village reached out to Michael McKee of TenantsPAC. He outlined the scenario as it is likely to play out in an op-ed while also sharing his thoughts on the reason for the governor’s sudden insistence on reunification.

“Everything comes down to two words. Cynthia Nixon,” said McKee. “Andrew’s scared to death and trying to hide it and he’s not fooling anyone.”

As for the Independent Democratic Conference’s sudden demise, read on, but, warned McKee, “We’ve been down this road before.”

 

By Michael McKee, treasurer, Tenants Political Action Committee

In a stunning development, Governor Andrew Cuomo has persuaded Jeff Klein and his fellow turncoat members of the Independent Democratic Conference not only to rejoin the mainstream Democratic conference but also to dissolve the IDC.

This is a huge political defeat for Jeff Klein, who up to now has insisted that while he was open to a reunification deal, the IDC would continue as a separate conference and he would be co-leader with Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Now he has agreed to disband the IDC, and accept a lower position as Andrea’s deputy.

Why? Because Andrew Cuomo, Jeff Klein, and the other turncoat senators are scared of losing their jobs this year. This is a perfect illustration of how grassroots political pressure can produce results. While Klein and Cuomo are desperate to lessen the pressure on them, we need to keep the pressure on – and increase it.

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Tailor who owned shop for over 50 years dies

Gino DiGirolamo at his 14th Street shop in 2014 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, March 30, the man known to many as “Gino the tailor,” Gino DiGirolamo, died at the age of 82. The owner of Royal Tailor, which was located in the East Village for 52 years, had suffered a heart attack a month ago that he never recovered from. His son Vito, 51, said his father, after having the heart attack on an L train platform, was taken to Beth Israel, where he stayed for ongoing treatment. He was visited regularly by friends and Vito, but the elder DiGirolamo never regained consciousness.

In an interview with Town & Village three years ago, DiGirolamo, then working out of an East 14th Street shop across from Stuyvesant Town, spoke of his intention to retire after getting socked with a hefty rent increase. He’d been in that space for a few years, after moving from the original shop on Avenue A. However, his livelihood was later saved when he found a nearby affordable space on East 11th Street.

As he had before, DiGirolamo worked long and hard, around 80 hours a week, commuting to the shop from his home in Ozone Park, Queens.

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Budget funds golf tournament, but not tenant protections

State Senator Brad Hoylman voted no on numerous parts of the budget that were ultimately passed. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In the latest “Big Ugly,” the state budget released on Saturday morning yanked $4.5 million from tenant protections by completely de-funding the housing agency’s Tenant Protection Unit.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who voted no against that measure and numerous others included in the budget, blamed his own chamber for the move. However, he said he’s been assured the TPU will continue to be able to operate through emergency funding set aside by the governor, which was also done last year. Still, said Hoylman, “What kind of message does that send to New Yorkers? The budget is a real statement of our values.”

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled chamber saw fit to spend $3 million of taxpayer funds on an upstate golf tournament because, they said, it would create jobs and spur economic growth in the area.

In arguments that are now online on YouTube, Hoylman responded, “Four and half million dollars was cut from the budget. I’d like to see the Dick’s Sporting Goods money put into the Tenant Protection Unit.”

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Easter egg hunt gets an early start in Stuyvesant Town

Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The snow held off for Easter Sunday but the enthusiasm of young Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents couldn’t be contained during the egg hunt on the Oval, prompting management to send out an apology Monday morning because the hunt started earlier than scheduled, causing some families to miss out.

Moms on a local Facebook group complained they arrived to the hunt on time and were disappointed to learn that it was already over.

The email included an apology from general manager Rick Hayduk, who noted that management attempted to avoid this very problem by segmenting the hunt into specific age groups but a miscommunication resulted in the older kids starting the hunt before the scheduled time.

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Letters to the editor, Apr. 5

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Fight for rent regs important this year

The City Council renewed our NYC Rent Control and NYC Rent Stabilization laws on March 22. “Ho Hum,” you may say, “the City does that every three years.” True as the Council’s triennial renewal of these rent laws is, I put to you that this year is markedly different. How so?

This year the NYC laws’ renewal was led by our new Council Speaker, Corey Johnson. I attended Johnson’s inauguration on Jan. 28 and on the topic of tenant rent justice I found him electrifying.  He saw clearly that the fight is in Albany and he has committed to lead the vanguard from NYC to strengthen protections.

At his inauguration he pointedly said  “Furthermore, working with my partners in state government, I pledge to help lead the fight to press Albany to not only renew our rent laws, but to finally – once and for all – close the loopholes that are allowing landlords to deregulate thousands of affordable apartments every year.”

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Lawsuit aims to stop L-pocalypse

Apr5 14th St coalition Schwartz Prentiss

Attorney Arthur Schwartz (pictured with Edith Prentiss, a disabled rights activist) says disabled commuters aren’t being considered, nor are the neighborhoods that will be dealing with chaotic traffic. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday morning, a coalition of neighborhood groups sued in a Manhattan Federal Court in an attempt to stop the planned L train shutdown starting a year from now. The suit accuses the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Administration of ignoring the needs of disabled riders along the L line, and disregarding the communities who’ll be dealing with constant congestion from diesel-spewing buses.

According to the attorney representing the groups, dubbed “the 14th Street Coalition,” Arthur Schwartz, the FTA “has failed to enforce compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) even though the nearly $1 billion project is being federally funded.” The MTA and DOT meanwhile, he said have failed to prepare a required Environmental Impact Statement, which he said would have compelled the agencies to be more responsive to community input.

The suit aims to halt the work as well as its federal funding until the plans do something about the lack of elevators in each L station and about the expected environmental impacts from substituting the L train with significantly expanded above ground mass transit.

The plan calls for creating a 14th Street “busway” between Third and Eighth Avenues going west and from Ninth to Third Avenues going east. Car traffic will not be able to cross anywhere along the busway. Access-A-Ride will be included along with emergency vehicles. The plan is to enforce these rules during “peak” hours. A constant fleet of shuttle buses will be traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge and there will also be a protected bike lane on East 13th Street.

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Police Watch: Teen arrested for Blue Smoke robbery, Man charged in 7-Eleven robbery

FOURTH TEEN ARRESTED FOR BLUE SMOKE ROBBERY
Police arrested a 16-year-old in connection with a robbery inside Blue Smoke at 116 East 27th Street on March 18. Police said that a host at the restaurant was approached around 7 p.m. by five teenagers who claimed they were raising money for a basketball team before grabbing cash from the victim and fleeing the restaurant. When the victim chased after the teens, one of them hit him on the back of the head.
Four teens have been arrested in connection with the incident. The teen was charged with robbery inside the 13th precinct for the robbery last Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. and his name is being withheld due to his young age.

MAN CHARGED WITH 7-ELEVEN ROBBERY
Police arrested 53-year-old Chris Sanachez for an alleged robbery that took place in the 7-Eleven at 239 East 14th Street on March 7 around 10 p.m. Police said that a customer in the store left his property on the counter and Sanachez grabbed it, then fled the location. The victim, a man in his 50s, reportedly chased after Sanachez and when he caught up with him, the suspect allegedly punched the victim in the face, causing pain and swelling. Sanachez was arrested inside the 13th precinct last Tuesday at 7 p.m.

WOMAN ACCUSED OF PUSHING MAN INTO TRACKS AT UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 57-year-old Marjorie Chambers for alleged reckless endangerment at East 14th Street and Union Square West inside the Union Square subway station last Friday at 12:17 a.m. Police said that Chambers recklessly pushed the victim into the roadbed of the train, creating a substantial risk of injury, although no train was approaching at the time of the incident. The victim did not have any visible injuries.

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Man wanted for package thefts, vandalism in Stuy Town

Package theft suspect (Photo courtesy of StuyTown Property Services)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

In what seems to be an ongoing battle to stay a step ahead of local package thieves, a couple of buildings in Stuyvesant Town were hit recently by a man who management also believes is responsible for some graffiti.

StuyTown Property Services notified residents in an email this week that a man has been stealing packages and vandalizing apartment doors, most recently “piggybacking” into 649 East 14th Street on Monday. Packages were subsequently reported missing from the hallway and management believes that the man also vandalized a number of doors in 17 Stuyvesant Oval.

A resident confirmed to Town & Village last Friday that a delivery man had been running loose in the building, staying inside for 40 to 50 minutes last Wednesday, during which he drew penises on three apartment doors on two different floors and “trashed” the second floor, ripping open multiple packages, although it was unclear if anything was stolen from the boxes. The resident noted that the doors had been cleaned and repainted by Thursday.

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Opinion: Make the justice system work for all

By Harvey Epstein

For too long, the scales of justice in New York have been weighted in favor of the rich and powerful and the promise of equal justice has gone unfulfilled. Our courts and our laws consistently disadvantage low-income people, people of color, immigrants (especially those with limited English proficiency), the elderly and the disabled.

New York’s civil justice system handles the cases that affect our fundamental human needs – our homes, our family life, our economic concerns. Yet the system is pay-to-play. If you have the means and can afford a lawyer, you can get a fair shake in court. If you can’t afford a lawyer and can’t get legal help from New York’s underfunded legal services programs, you are left on your own to face dire consequences in courts that are impossible to navigate on your own. A recent state commission report found that each year, 1.8 million low-income New Yorkers are forced to appear in court without counsel in cases that involve life’s essential aspects.

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