Opinion: Who’s a socialist? Part II

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders 

Last week, I wrote about how political candidates are being tagged with that seemingly evil “socialist” label for advocating that more government resources be redirected to health, education and other social needs.

But it is also true that Democratic candidates for president are falling over themselves to make one promise after the other, many of which Congress will never approve and all of which would be a major cost to the treasury. However, that is still a far cry from being a socialist. Sadly, some in the political world care very little about the honesty of such a charge, but rather hope that the label of socialist will stick. That is the state of our politics by vilification today.

But the issue of health care for all Americans will dominate the national debate over the next year. Was it accurate to call Medicare or Medicaid socialism when enacted over 50 years ago? Is it socialism to go the next step and provide health care coverage for all Americans regardless of their ability to pay? That is the big question. And how would such a system be paid for?

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Harvest in the Square raises $371K

Gupshup mixologist Michael Belasco, head chef Gurpreet Singh and sous chef Ramesh Bishe enjoyed their first Harvest in the Square, held under a tent on the northern end of Union Square Park on Thursday, September 19. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Union Square Partnership raised more than $371,000 at the 24th annual Harvest in the Square on Thursday, September 19. The yearly tasting event, held under a tent at the northern end of Union Square Park, raises money to support the Partnership’s work in the neighborhood to beautify the park and offer programming. The event has raised more than $7 million over the last two decades.

“Year after year, Harvest in the Square brings the community together under one tent for an unforgettable evening filled with vibrant food and excitement,” said Jennifer Falk, Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership. “We’ve already begun to prepare for our 25th Annual Harvest in the Square next year and look forward to another successful night.”

A number of chefs that participated featured tastes of dishes popular at their restaurant or that highlighted fall produce from the Union Square greenmarket.

The lineup for the event this year featured 61 restaurants, cocktail bars, wineries, breweries and distilleries, including returning favorite Union Square Cafe, whose owner, Danny Meyer, is a founding member of the event. Bocce USQ, a restaurant chair for the event, also returned, carrying a seasonal pizza with roasted brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and fresh mozzarella over from their adjacent location in the Pavilion.

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L train work three months ahead of schedule

Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the L train tunnel on Sunday, viewing the improvements made along the bench wall. (Photo courtesy Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday that the L train project is three months ahead of schedule and will be completed in April 2020, exactly a year after construction began.

The governor’s office said that work on the Manhattan-bound tube is now complete and work on the Brooklyn-bound tube begins this week.

Cuomo and senior MTA leadership toured the completed tube on Sunday, reviewing the new construction methods that were implemented to avoid a complete shutdown of the line while the work was completed, which Cuomo said is also currently on budget.

“Today we saw up close what happens when you abandon the old ways of doing things and think outside the box—you get the work done better, faster and cheaper,” Cuomo said. “And in this case you get a better and safer tunnel than before. This project will ultimately be a case study for how the MTA needs to operate going forward, especially as they implement the upcoming historic capital plan that will completely modernize the entire system and deliver the 21st century transportation service worthy of New York.”

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Man busted for Kips Bay robbery outside Peter Cooper Village

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town Public Safety helped catch a man wanted for a robbery on Sunday night after the suspect attempted to hide inside a building in Peter Cooper Village, police confirmed this week.

The victim told police that he was standing at the corner of Second Avenue and East 25th Street on Sunday, September 29 around 9:30 p.m. with his bag on the ground near his feet when 23-year-old Mitchell William allegedly reached down and grabbed the bag.

When the victim told William to drop the bag and tried to get it back from him, William allegedly punched him in the face, causing the victim to bleed from his mouth.

Police said that William then fled east and the victim followed him. When the victim confronted William again, police said that the suspect punched him a second time and pushed him to the ground, causing a scrape on the victim’s elbow.

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Teen arrested for Stuy Town robbery charged with previous murder

Suspect David Young

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have arrested 17-year-old David Young in connection with the robbery of a Stuyvesant Town senior on September 16 around 7:40 p.m. in front of her apartment at 430 East 20th Street and have also charged him with a homicide that occurred in the Lower East Side this summer.

Young was charged with robbery inside the 13th precinct on Tuesday, September 24 at 3:30 p.m. and following his arrest, was charged in connection with the homicide, which police said occurred at the Lillian Wald Houses at 20 Avenue D on July 13.

The robbery in Stuyvesant Town occurred in front of 430 East 20th Street on the M level adjacent to Playground 1. Police said that Young and a teenage girl were outside the building when the victim was walking towards the door attempting to get inside. Young reportedly told her that his phone was dead and wanted the victim to help them get inside, and when she said that they needed to call security, one of the teens allegedly said that she wouldn’t help them because they were black.

The victim then turned to walk away from the building and the teens allegedly grabbed her from behind, knocking her to the ground before grabbing her purse and fleeing the scene. The teenage girl, a resident of Good Shepherd Services on East 17th Street, was arrested the following day. Young was caught last Tuesday.

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Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District planning to expand north, west

The Flatiron BID is responsible for the public plazas adjacent to the Flatiron building. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership will be hosting the first of multiple meetings next Thursday to get public input on a proposed expansion for the business improvement district (BID).

Executive Director James Mettham said that one of the goals of the proposed expansion is to fill in the gaps since the BID was first established in 2006 and create a more cohesive district that reflects the neighborhood.

“Part of the effort about expanding is to say look, Flatiron is growing, but the NoMad and Sixth Avenue corridors have changed pretty drastically as well,” he said. “We feel that there’s a symbiotic relationship between the neighborhoods and what’s good for one is good for the other.”

The BID’s current boundaries are generally 21st Street to the south, Sixth Avenue to the west, 28th Street to the north and Park Avenue South to the east, although there are some blocks that extend the district to Third Avenue near Baruch, and other parts of the district on the western side are cut off mid-block before Sixth Avenue.

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Busway launches on 14th Street today

The busway launched on 14th Street this morning after getting delayed by a lawsuit filed by neighborhood residents and block associations. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Third time’s the charm for the busway?

A decision from the New York Supreme Court last Friday will allow the Department of Transportation to implement a busway on 14th Street following a court fight instigated by neighboring block associations that previously blocked the plan twice during the summer.

The New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division said in the 3-2 decision that the stay granted by a judge on Monday, August 9 was lifted, allowing the DOT to proceed with the plan, and the agency announced that the busway will go into effect on Thursday, October 3 for an 18-month pilot program.

The decision last Friday said that three of the five justices concurred, with Justices Barbara Kapnick and Troy Webber dissenting, with both noting that they would be willing to continue the interim stay to hear further arguments from Schwartz.

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Letters to the editor, Oct. 3

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

TA: Stand up to Blackstone

Re: “Blackstone not required to provide polling places,” T&V, Sept. 26

“Name withheld” writes that Blackstone doesn’t have an obligation to provide polling sites. This is incorrect.

In 1946, a vibrant neighborhood with streets, schools and polling places was seized under eminent domain and turned over to Metropolitan Life, and became Stuyvesant Town.

In return, Met Life promised to maintain municipal streets, remove garbage, and provide places for citizens to vote. The Tenants Association needs to stand up to our property owner to ensure that Blackstone honors these obligations. Bring back the polling sites!

Name withheld

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Police Watch: Stuy Town man arrested for filming friend, Peter Cooper man arrested during eviction

STUY TOWN MAN ARRESTED FOR FILMING FRIEND IN SHOWER
Police arrested 30-year-old Phi Trinh for obscene material inside 651 East 14th Street on Sunday, September 29 at 5:56 p.m. The victim told police that she discovered a portable charging device capable of recording video and taking pictures plugged into the bathroom wall outlet and pointing towards the shower and bathtub. The victim said that she confronted Trinh and found that he was in possession of pictures and videos of her in the bathroom on his personal cell phone and laptop. Police said that Trinh and the victim are friends and had no further information about the nature of their relationship.

PETER COOPER MAN ARRESTED DURING EVICTION PROCEEDINGS
Police arrested 24-year-old Bertram Kreuter for alleged menacing inside 530 East 23rd Street on Thursday, September 26 at 12:58 p.m. The victim told police that he went to assist the NYC marshals in evicting tenants at the apartment. When Kreuter answered the door, he allegedly had a kitchen knife in his hand that he was holding in an aggressive manner and reportedly said, “I’m not leaving. I’m defending my property.”

Police said that Kreuter was told numerous times to drop the knife, at which point he did, but he then allegedly unscrewed a lightbulb and threw it at the victim’s feet, causing alarm and annoyance. The city marshal showed police proof of the eviction notice and the warrant to seize the apartment.

MAN BUSTED FOR THEFTS, BURGLARY
Police arrested 54-year-old Alan Nimmons inside the 13th precinct on Monday, September 23 at 4:33 p.m. for an alleged theft that took place in an office previously.

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Opinion: Who is a socialist? Part I

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

It is a sure bet that over the next 12 months as the race for president heats up, you will hear the term “socialist” tossed around by some like an accusation of criminal conduct or of a political miscreant. A scare tactic for certain.

Those who hurl this spitball gauge that most Americans are suspicious, even fearful of socialists. It’s a timeworn page out of the playbook of those opposed to social change that might reapportion some of America’s vast wealth to support programs that primarily benefit middle and low income persons at the expense of the richest.

But is that socialism? In reality, socialism is an all-encompassing system in which government controls the economy from production output to prices of goods and the incomes of its citizens. The actual fact of the matter is that no candidate is proposing that, not even Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist running for president.

But in the aggregate, Democratic candidates are offering the American people a plethora of goodies, too many that could ever possibly be enacted all at once. To wit: Medicare For All; an elimination of private insurance; forgiveness of all student loans; free college; pre-K programs for all 3 and 4-year-olds. One Democratic candidate is even proposing to give families $1,000 per month every month to spend as they wish!

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City announces changes to NYC Rent Freeze Program

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The de Blasio administration announced last Wednesday that the city will now be able to freeze rents at the preferential level for tenants eligible for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disabled Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE).

“For far too long, thousands of low-income older adults and people with disabilities with preferential were unable to benefit from NYC’s Rent Freeze Programs,” said State Senator Liz Kruger, who is also the prime sponsor of preferential rent legislation. “I am extremely happy that New York State’s new rent laws finally eliminated the preferential rent loophole, making it possible for tenants with preferential rents to benefit from SCRIE and DRIE.”

The legal rent of a rent-stabilized apartment is based on the unique history of the unit and is the maximum legal rent for each apartment. Preferential rent is rent that a landlord charged to a rent-regulated tenant that is lower than the legal rent.

SCRIE and DRIE, known collectively as the NYC Rent Freeze Program, is administered by the Department of Finance and helps eligible seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities stay in affordable housing by freezing their rent. The programs are available to eligible tenants living in rent-regulated apartments. To qualify for SCRIE, residents must be at least 62 years old, the head of household on the lease, have a combined household income of $50,000 or less and spend more than one-third of their monthly household income on rent. DRIE is available to tenants who are  at least 18 years old, are named on the lease, have a combined household income of $50,000 or less and must be awarded one of the following: Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs disability pension or disability compensation; disability-related Medicaid if the applicant has received either SSI or SSDI in the past; or the United States Postal Service (USPS) disability pension or disability compensation.

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Hoylman combatting robocalls with legislation

State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou with representatives from AARP (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

State Senator Brad Hoylman urged the passage of legislation to curb robocalls on Friday, September 6 along with Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and representatives from AARP and Consumer Reports, prior to an Assembly hearing on how to combat the pervasive calls. The Robocall Prevention Act, sponsored by Hoylman in the Senate and Niou in the Assembly, would effectively ban unwanted robocalls in the state of New York and the hearing examined actions to fight robocalls in addition to nuisance phone calls and spoofing.

The bill passed in the State Senate unanimously on June 14 but has not yet passed in the Assembly.

“This legislation that passed in the Senate passed with both Republican and Democratic support, which shows how widespread this issue is, how it’s impacting the constituents, how it’s hurting our seniors, how it’s defrauding our citizenry and something has to be done about it,” Hoylman said.

According to the YouMail Robocall Index, which estimates monthly robocall volume in the United States, almost 50 billion robocalls were placed to consumers in 2018, which is an all-time record. As of September 1, there have already been more than 38 billion robocalls this year. New York City ranks third out of all cities in the country in 2019, according to the index, with more than 1.3 billion robocalls, which is roughly 79 calls per person.

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Man arrested for East Village home invasion

Burglary suspect Tyler Lockett

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested Louisiana resident Tyler Lockett, 22, on Tuesday in connection with a home invasion that took place in the East Village earlier this summer.

According to the NYPD, Lockett followed a 21-year-old woman into her apartment building near East 12th Street and Avenue A on Friday, July 26 around 1:45 a.m. The victim later told the New York Post that Lockett had wrapped his arm around her throat while she was trying to open her door, causing her to briefly lose consciousness.

Police said that Lockett also forcefully pushed his way into her apartment and grabbed her, told her to shut up and allegedly threw her to the ground while covering her mouth to prevent her from screaming.

The victim’s 22-year-old roommate, who was home at the time and had been sleeping, woke up and encountered Lockett, who then allegedly fled the scene. Police said that he was last seen fleeing on foot near East 11th Street and First Avenue.

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Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood sells out

Attendees got one last bite of summer at Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood last weekend. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Gramercy Neighborhood Associates successfully sold out tickets to their seventh annual Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood event, held on Irving Place south of Gramercy Park last weekend.

The organization was still calculating the final tally this week of how much the event raised but GNA President Alan Krevis said this week that 450 tickets were sold, with tickets ranging in price from $50 to $80 on the day of the event.

Proceeds from ticket sales benefit healthy meal programs at local public schools, including School of the Future and PS 40, and all of the leftover food was donated to the Bowery Mission to feed the homeless.

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Teens arrested for bag, phone snatching in Stuyvesant Town

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested two teenagers for a bag theft that occurred outside one of the playgrounds in Stuyvesant Town last week.

According to the NYPD and Stuy Town management, the victim was sitting on a park bench outside Playground 1 behind 330 First Avenue around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 18 when the one of the teens came up to the victim and grabbed her bag, which contained credit cards, and the other teen snatched her phone before running from the location.

Police said that both suspects entered the subway at First Avenue and East 14th Street, where one of the teens was arrested at 11:29 a.m., but the other suspect fled from the station and ran south on First Avenue. He was later arrested inside the 13th precinct on Thursday, September 19 at 6:12 p.m.

The bag containing the victim’s wallet was recovered when the first teen was arrested. It was not clear if the teen who allegedly grabbed the victim’s phone had it on him when he was arrested, and the device was turned off and unable to be tracked.

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