Editorial: Small businesses need pols’ help and ours

City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Helen Rosenthal have been doggedly pushing a bill that if passed would give some relief to many of the Manhattan retailers who are forced to pay Commercial Rent Tax. The tax, they’ve argued, is discriminatory as it punishes retailers and restaurants for the crime of doing business below 96th Street and above Chambers. We have to say, we agree it’s obviously unfair, and we hope the legislation doesn’t face any obstacles in getting signed.

However, as any Manhattan storefronter can attest to, taxes are just the tip of the iceberg. Amazon is an ever-present competitor and the rent is too damn high with commercial tenants not having much in the way of bargaining power when it’s lease renewal time.

Rosenthal, following the press conference that was held for the CRT bill, said the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which is aimed at giving business owners an automatic ten-year lease renewal, is being looked at by the council’s counsel. The legislation has been languishing for decades though recently it has gained steam as neighbors have grown weary of seeing their local small businesses get pushed out by chains.

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Con Ed continues oil spill clean-up

Con Ed substation in Manhattan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Con Edison and environmental contractors have continued a clean up effort this week after insulating oil leaked into the East River when a transformer in a Brooklyn substation failed last Sunday.

Spokesperson Allan Drury told Town & Village that the utility has removed 560 gallons of the oil from the water, and Con Edison is also removing soil from the substation that has soaked up oil from the spill.

Since heavy rain is forecast for this weekend, Con Edison will also be securing the impacted area around the transformer so there is no additional saturation that could cause more oil to seep into the river.

Con Edison is working to remove the damaged transformer and expects to replace it with a new unit by next week.

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Opinion: Trumpcare is no care bill at all

By Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney

Last week, House Republicans voted to rob millions of Americans of affordable healthcare when they passed the so-called American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare. This bill, should it become law, will devastate our healthcare system, drive up healthcare costs, and cause enormous harm to millions of American families. It also has several pieces that single out New York, making it particularly harmful to our state. That’s why dozens of medical associations, patient advocates and public health experts joined me and every single Democrat in the House to oppose this bill and it’s why I hope this bill goes nowhere in the U.S. Senate.

Trumpcare is probably one of the most damaging and devastating bills to pass the House during my time in Congress. It will result in at least 24 million Americans, including 2.7 million New Yorkers, losing their healthcare coverage. For those that do not lose coverage, Trumpcare dramatically increases your out-of-pocket health costs – including premiums, deductibles, and other copays. The average marketplace enrollee will see costs rise by $3,174 in 2020 and individuals with incomes below 250 percent of the poverty line will see their costs increase by $4,815.

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Letters to the editor, May 11

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

How city can help small businesses

This letter was originally published on town-village.com as a comment to the story, “Garodnick: Commercial Rent Tax Bill would hardly cost the city anything,” T&V, May 4.

Instead of doing this tax reduction by increasing the amount paid on the leasehold, it should be based on each proprietor’s, LLC member’s, partner’s, or S Corp shareholder’s distributive share of rent expense. Why should the sole proprietor paying $300,000 in rent be exempt from the CRT when the competing store down the block with two partners which pays $600,000 (i.e., $300,000 each from each partner) be exempt?

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Moms we interviewed said they don’t want stuff on Mother’s Day

By Sabina Mollot

With Mother’s Day taking place on Sunday, May 14, Town & Village’s email inboxes have been flooded with press releases from various companies that are all convinced what moms want just happens to be what they manufacture and sell.

However, based on responses we got from women about what it is they actually want for Mother’s Day, it turns out all the PR people who pitched us were wrong. Those we spoke with, while they watched their kids at playgrounds or just strolled with strollers through Stuyvesant Town, said what they want is some quality family time. Others admitted they could use some much needed time to themselves.

Shorn Burke, a mother of a 12-year-old and a seven-year-old, said she needed the latter. “Rest,” said Burke, without hesitation, saying she worked long hours as a babysitter. “A peaceful day. A quiet day. Just relaxation.”

Kate Raizenberg, an interior designer, when asked, said she would be happy with any kind of effort.

“Anything,” she said, “but,” she added, “I know I’m not getting anything.” With her one child being a baby, she instead is hoping for a chance to sleep in and would also like for her family to take her to brunch. “That’s what I’d like to do,” she decided.

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Advocates call for transparency on MSBI downsizing

Anthony Feliciano, director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Non-profit organizations and healthcare advocates are urging the community to demand transparency when it comes to the planned downsizing of Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

The subject was discussed at a meeting held by the Lower Manhattan chapter of the New York Progressive Action Network, a coalition of progressive activist groups, at the property service workers’ union 32BJ SEIU’s headquarters on West 18th Street last Thursday.

Anthony Feliciano, director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System, moderated the meeting, which was attended by over 100 people. He encouraged the public to contact the Department of Health about the project and demand a community needs study, which the hospital system has said it will not be doing.

Arthur Schwartz, the Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village, said that residents should also demand an environmental impact study and encouraged the neighborhood to resist zoning changes for the areas where current Beth Israel buildings will be sold, to prevent developers from building luxury high-rises.

“At St. Vincent’s, we lost because they went into bankruptcy but Mount Sinai doesn’t want to take Beth Israel into bankruptcy,” Schwartz said, referring to the closure of St. Vincent’s in Greenwich Village in 2010. “The state has power here and we have to demand transparency during this process. It’s basically (Mount Sinai’s) own plan and not based at all on input from elected officials or the community.”

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Injured bat found in PCV

Local veterinarian Dr. Timothy Mann said he suspects this bat is an Eastern Red bat, although it’s not normal to see one during the day. (Photo by Lisa Kuklinski)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village have long been well known as sanctuaries to birds as well as squirrels, and in late 2015, the park-filled property was even visited by a coyote.

Still, a Peter Cooper Village mom was shocked on Saturday morning when she and her young son spotted a bat lying on the ground.

Additionally, the bat, which was motionless near 2 Peter Cooper Road, did not appear to be in good shape.

“I thought it was dead because it was lying face up on the ground,” the mom, Lisa Kuklinski, later told Town & Village. “Then I got closer and I could see it was trying to breathe.”

For a moment, she thought about taking it home, “but I don’t know anything about bats,” she said. So, instead Kuklinski called the Public Safety department. She went out again a couple of hours later but by then the bat was gone.

She isn’t sure what happened to the bat to cause it to have lost the use of its wings. “I don’t know if one of the hawks got it.”

Hawks have been spotted more frequently in ST/PCV, as T&V reported in February.

Fortunately, the bat did make it off the pavement alive, according to management.

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Police Watch: Transgender woman killed, Man busted for bank robbery

TRANSGENDER WOMAN KILLED ON SEVENTH AVENUE
Police said that 59-year-old transgender woman Brenda Bostick was found unconscious in front of 343 Seventh Avenue on April 25 at 10:30 p.m. Police reported that Bostick was transported to Bellevue Hospital and died from her injuries last Thursday. Bostick was a resident of the BRC Shelter on West 25th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues and had suffered head trauma.
Her death has been ruled a homicide and the investigation is ongoing.

MAN ARRESTED FOR CHASE BANK ROBBERY
Police arrested 52-year-old Charles Queen for robbery last Friday at 10:19 a.m. inside the Chase Bank at 501 Second Avenue at East 28th Street. According to the district attorney’s office, Queen passed a teller in the bank that read, “Don’t make a sound at all. This is a bank robbery. Need money now!!! Nobody will get hurt. Don’t make a sound.” The teller secretly alerted police and Queen was arrested.

WOMAN ARRESTED AFTER CAR FLIPPED ONTO SIDE
Police arrested 24-year-old Corey Kaminski for allegedly drunk driving after her car flipped on its side at the corner of East 24th Street and Lexington Avenue last Saturday at 4:32 a.m. Police said they were responding to a call about an accident when they found a car on its side with the driver still in the vehicle. Police said that Kaminski, who had been driving the car, had watery eyes, a flushed face and an odor of alcohol on her breath, but she told police that she only had a beer. Kaminski was taken to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for her injuries.

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Police looking for men behind two attempted bank robberies

May11 Chase robber number two

Kips Bay Chase Bank attempted robbery suspect

Police are looking for two men who attempted to rob local Chase Banks in separate incidents.

On Tuesday at around 5:30 p.m., a man strolled into a bank at 501 Second Avenue and 28th Street, approached a teller and passed a note demanding money. The teller didn’t comply, though, and the suspect fled the scene. He was last seen walking southbound on Second Avenue.

The would-be robber of the Kips Bay bank is described as being white, 35-40 years old, approximately 5’5″ tall, with a slim build. Police also said he had a light complexion with blisters around his mouth and a tattoo on his neck. At the time of the incident he was wearing blue jeans, a beige baseball cap, a gray sweatshirt and a black hooded jacket.

Police are also looking for a man who tried to rob a Chase Bank in NoMad on Friday, but left emptyhanded.

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Oil spills into East River after Con Ed transformer failure

May11 Con Ed

Con Ed substation in Manhattan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A failure of equipment at a Con Ed substation in Brooklyn has led to a so far unknown amount of oil to leak into the East River.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been responding to the problem since it was reported on Sunday afternoon, though as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear if the substance, dielectric fluid, was still leaking into the river in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The fluid, which is used to insulate transformer cables, is a kind of mineral oil, so “It’s not like sludge or petroleum,” said Coast Guard Public Affairs Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy. However, she added, “It’s still not native to the environment it’s leeching into.”

Additionally, while the Coast Guard is not aware of just how much of the oil has been spilled so far, she referred to the failure of a Con Ed transformer that led to the incident as “catastrophic.

“The transformer is caput,” she added.

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Mailman arrested for assault on Saturday

Columbia Care Medical Marijuana Dispensary on Monday afternoon (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a mailman for assault in the East Village on Saturday at 3 p.m. after he kicked a door at the East 14th marijuana dispensary and allegedly hit an officer when police tracked him down nearby.

Thirty-year-old Daniel Jean was attempting to deliver mail to the Columbia Care Medical Marijuana Dispensary at 212 East 14th Street around 2 p.m., Gothamist reported on Sunday. Jean allegedly got into an argument with a security guard, who told him he wasn’t allowed in the building.

Police said that Jean and the guard got into an argument and the guard told him he could give her the mail but he allegedly refused. He left but returned shortly after and gave the mail to someone else, then left the dispensary again. He allegedly returned to the building a third time and kicked a door, prompting the security guard to call the police. The district attorney’s office said that the damage to the door and lock prevented the door from being able to open.

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Opinion: Trump’s disciples

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

There is an old saying that “nothing succeeds like success.” In politics that is an axiom of election strategy. When a political campaign is successful, especially one that is so unexpected, it is carefully studied and often times imitated by the next group of candidates.

Last year we saw the rise of Donald Trump to the Presidency. He accomplished this long shot feat by breaking all the rules of political decorum. He was not only brash and boastful, he had absolutely no experience in government. He was beyond just a provocateur, he was personally offensive to his political adversaries and all those who opposed him in any way. He took the low road with insults and slurs. He targeted and attacked religious and ethnic groups much to the delight of many in his fan base. He offered up lies and passed them off as fact and made promises to his supporters that he has already broken. But there he is in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and that was the point of it all.

So the Trump model of political campaigning is now taking root. Right here in New York State there are two individuals interested in running for high office who are doing their best Trump impersonation, hoping that such a style may propel them too into high office. Call them candidate copycats. Call it trickle down politics.

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Man found dead in East River

East River

The East River (pictured in 2012). (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel.)

By Sabina Mollot

A man was found floating in the East River at around East 14th Street on Sunday afternoon, and as of Monday morning, police said they believe they know who it is.

While they wouldn’t release the name of the individual prior to his being officially identified by a family member, police said they are pretty certain it’s a 24-year-old homeless man with a history of depression.

A police source added that no criminality is suspected at this time. However, the investigation is ongoing and the NYC Medical Examiner is looking into the cause of death.

The man, after being pulled out of the water by the NYPD’s Marine and SCUBA Units at around 2:30 p.m., was taken to the Skyport Marina on East 23rd Street, where he was pronounced dead.

UPDATE on Tuesday: A woman who said she was the man’s mother told Town & Village her son “was a good person.”

The woman, who didn’t want to give her name, added that she last saw her son a month ago. “He was always helping everyone. I raised him to be a gentleman and he was a goodhearted person. We will all miss him.”

Former teacher enters race for City Council

Vanessa Aronson says her priorities include improving schools and help for immigrants. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The race for the City Council seat currently held by Dan Garodnick has its newest candidate in Vanessa Aronson, a former teacher who previously held a federal government job.

Aronson, an Upper East Sider, officially joined the race a little over a month ago as a Democrat.

Recently, over coffee at Juan Valdez on Lexington Avenue, she discussed her platform, which focuses on education, better access around the city for the disabled and helping immigrants.

Aronson, who taught six and seventh grade science at a public school in Washington Heights until becoming a candidate, said her students and the problems they faced were among the reasons that inspired her to run for office.

“When I became a teacher I wanted to make a difference, because education opened up a lot of opportunities for me,” she said. “But what I learned was that the biggest challenge facing my students wasn’t homework but the instability of urban life.”

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Garodnick: Commercial Rent Tax bill would hardly cost city anything

Council Member Dan Garodnick, pictured with Borough President Gale Brewer and local business owners outside Whisk in Flatiron (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A day after Mayor de Blasio released his executive budget, a handful of local elected officials took the opportunity to push for legislation that would eliminate the Commercial Rent Tax for about 3,400 small business owners in Manhattan.

The bill, which is sponsored by Council Members Dan Garodnick and Helen Rosenthal, was first announced in 2015, and at this point has 35 co-sponsors in the Council.

If passed it would raise the threshold of rent retailers who must pay the tax from those paying $250,000 a year to $500,000 year. The tax, which was first implemented in 1963, only applies to Manhattan businesses between Chambers Street and 96th Street. Garodnick has said raising the rent threshold would help 40 percent of the businesses owners now paying the tax while only costing the city six percent of the revenue the tax brings in, about $4.5 million.

Natasha Amott, the owner of Whisk, a kitchen related goods shop in Flatiron, where the announcement on the bill was made last Thursday, said her CRT costs her $15,000 a year. This is on top of the $315,000 she pays in rent each year and another standard corporate tax.

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