The rally in Union Square was held on the night before the impeachment vote in the House. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Rain and raw, damp weather did not stop the hundreds of protesters who marched from Times Square to Union Square last Tuesday in support President Donald Trump’s impeachment, which the US House of Representatives voted for on Wednesday.
“Impeach and Remove” rallies organized by progressive groups such as MoveOn.org and the Women’s March took place in cities across the country prior to the impeachment vote that was scheduled for the following day in the House. Local groups that participated in the rallies included Empire State Indivisible, Common Cause New York and Rise and Resist.
One group of protesters at the Union Square protest carried a giant cloth banner with the words from Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution printed on it: “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Other protesters at the rally had an inflatable caricature of the president along with LED signs that spelled out “End 45.”
I find the character assassination by letter writer “name withheld” of Stephen Schwarzman and President Trump offensive and all too common by Trump haters. The letter writer should at least have the courage to sign his name. It’s not as if Antifa will show up at his door and threaten his wife and children. Contrary to what “Name withheld” would have us believe, Trump never said there were good white supremacists. Trump said, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”
Regarding caging of children, there is no question the situation of people detained at our border is an unfortunate one, but before we believe people who bash Trump for political gain, we need to ask ourselves what are the alternatives. One is to send the illegal immigrants back home immediately, but that would require changing laws that the Democrats refuse to change.
On Thursday evening, a protest was held to demand the full release of the Mueller report that began in Times Square and ended in Flatiron outside Madison Square Park.
The protest was organized by MoveOn.org together with the Nobody is Above the Law Coalition and was said to be one of almost 300 similar protests around the country yesterday.
There were protest songs led by the group Sing Out, Louise! and a few speakers, including the NYC public advocate, from a stage that was set up on Broadway.
Despite the large turnout of at least hundreds, the event was hampered by a delay in marching, with the crowd being held at Times Square and a half. This caused some grumbling among the participants about the need for all the stage time commanded by the speakers.
Hundreds of protesters packed Union Square Park on Monday evening to protest the president’s renewed push for a border wall.
By Jefferson Siegel
Hundreds gathered in Union Square on the Presidents Day holiday, Monday night, to protest the policies of president Donald Trump and specifically his declaration of a national emergency to build a wall on the Mexican border. Dozens of similar protests were also held around the country. Sixteen state attorneys general as well as several legal organizations and numerous private citizens have filed lawsuits against Trump over declaring a national emergency.
At Union Square, there were also a handful of Trump supporters who were being kept apart from the main protest.
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.
BUS DRIVER ACCUSED OF SLAPPING SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD OUTSIDE WATERSIDE
Police arrested 55-year-old Lucien Magliore for assault and endangering the welfare of a child in front of 10 Waterside Plaza last Tuesday at 9:08 a.m. Police said that Magliore, a bus driver, caused physical injury to one of the students who was on his bus while attempting to restrain him. Police said that the victim was a 10-year-old special needs child who was acting out on the bus. According to the District Attorney’s office, Magliore slapped the victim on the back, causing substantial pain, redness and a handprint on the child’s upper back.
MAN ARRESTED FOR SLASHING AT BOXERS
Police arrested 25-year-old Tevin Gingles for slashing two people inside Boxers NYC, a gay sports bar, at 37 West 20th Street.
One of the victims told police that on March 26 at 2 a.m. he was trying to breaking up a fight at the bar that involved his friend. That’s when Gingles allegedly slashed him in the shoulder with a box cutter, causing a puncture wound.
Gingles also allegedly slashed another victim on the right hand, causing a deep cut.
Following the incident, the first victim got into a cab and went to Harlem Hospital, where he received 16 stitches. The second victim received five stitches for the cut on his hand.
Gingles was arrested inside the 13th Precinct last Wednesday at 9 p.m. and was charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Re: Editorial, “Squirrels: To feed or not to feed?”, T&V, Jan. 19
Thank you for the excellent editorial on the knotty squirrel issue in Stuy Town/Peter Cooper. We live a few blocks outside the complex and for decades have walked in to visit friends. Whenever we did, there were squirrels making eye contact and sitting in a begging stance. If we passed them by they would follow and repeat eye contact and begging.
This was two or three decades ago so I have to disagree a bit, i.e. these squirrels are not fully wild and haven’t been for generations. They’ve learned how to prosper in the middle of their humans who have trained them in how to get some of their sustenance.
Protesters made their way to midtown, starting from Union Square. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Steady rain didn’t keep protesters out of Union Square Park last Wednesday evening, with the results of the presidential election drawing crowds of New Yorkers opposed to President-elect Donald Trump. Many gathered in the north plaza of the park held signs that both protested the outcome of the election and called for unity, and protesters started various chants throughout while on their way to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue just south of Central Park.
The crowds of people walked from Union Square towards Madison Square Park and up Fifth Avenue, at one point being diverted to Broadway by police but remaining peaceful. Gothamist reported that there were 65 arrests as a result of the protests, with most receiving desk appearance tickets for charges like disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstruction.
DOZENS ARRESTED IN UNION SQUARE PROTEST
Police arrested almost 60 people throughout the 13th precinct in connection with the Freddie Gray protests in and around Union Square last Wednesday evening.
Arrests took place at various intersections and streets throughout the precinct, including Broadway and East 17th Street, Broadway and East 20th Street, Park Avenue South and East 23rd Street, Union Square West, West 26th Street, Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue and West 24th Street from 6:30 p.m. through 10 p.m. The 57 people arrested were charged with at least one count of disorderly conduct and many were charged with two counts. Police said that they gave multiple orders for the crowds to disperse and for protesters to stop blocking vehicle traffic on the street, and those who allegedly refused were arrested.
Two of the people arrested were also charged with assault.
Khalil Vasquez, 24, was arrested at East 20th Street and Broadway at 8:15 p.m. He allegedly refused Sergeant McCarrer’s orders to return to the sidewalk and police said that he punched the sergeant in the head. Vasquez was charged with assault, resisting arrest and two counts of disorderly conduct.
Amador Rivas, 58, was arrested at East 17th Street and Broadway at 6:30 p.m. and was charged with assaulting a peace officer, resisting arrest and three counts of disorderly conduct.
MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘ASSAULT’ OF PROTESTER
Police arrested 49-year-old Savario Pugliese for assault and criminal mischief at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 21st Street last Wednesday at 9:17 p.m. The victim told police that she was walking north on Seventh Avenue when an argument occurred between her and Pugliese. She told police that she put her camera in front of Pugliese’s face, trying to take a picture of him, when he allegedly shoved it back into her face, causing redness on her nose and causing the camera to fall to the ground, cracking the screen.
TEEN BUSTED FOR DUANE READE ‘THEFTS’
Seventeen-year-old Erick Oleaga was arrested inside the 13th Precinct last Monday at 2:30 p.m. for petit larceny. Police said that Oleaga shoplifted from multiple Duane Reade locations in the last month, including the store at 71 West 23rd Street on April 6 and March 27, 873 Broadway on March 29 and April 14, and 401 Park Avenue South on March 29 and April 11.
Police arrested 25-year-old Luke Terry at the 13th precinct last Tuesday at 1 a.m. for burglary. Police said that Terry broke into the victim’s apartment without permission and removed a credit card, ID card and iPad. Terry was also charged with possession of stolen property.
TEEN NABBED FOR ‘ASSAULT’
Eighteen-year-old Dominque Etheridge was arrested for assault last Tuesday at 9:55 a.m. Etheridge allegedly punched and kicked the victim inside a school bathroom on March 16, causing contusions and bruises to the victim’s face and body. Another person was arrested previously in connection with this incident.
ARRESTS FOR ALCOHOL
Police arrested 58-year-old Mark Alexander for a violation of New York State laws at the corner of Second Avenue and East 29th Street last Tuesday at 10:24 a.m. Alexander was allegedly drinking an open container of alcohol (a 200 ml bottle of Georgi Vodka) in open view to the public on the sidewalk.
In a separate incident, police arrested 61-year-old Marvin Hill at the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 28th Street last Wednesday at 3:21 p.m. Hill was allegedly holding an open 24-ounce Steel Reserve beer can in open view to the public.
MAN BUSTED FOR ‘METHADONE’
Billy Ramirez, 62, was arrested for possession of a hypodermic instrument and possession of a controlled substance last Tuesday at 2:05 p.m. in front of 350 East 30th Street. Captain Brendan Timoney informed Police Officer Michael Migliore that Ramirez was seen with a loaded hypodermic needle on a public sidewalk and Ramirez is not a diabetic. After Ramirez was searched by Department of Homeless Services police, he was allegedly found in possession of two hypodermic needles with alleged heroin residue, as well as a pill container with no label containing a red liquid that smelled like fruit punch and was known to be methadone.
ASSAULT NEAR MADISON SQUARE PARK
Police arrested 31-year-old Adrian Holliday for assault in front of 46 Madison Avenue last Tuesday at 3:10 p.m. Police said that Holliday punched the victim in the face, breaking his nose.
MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘URINATING’ NEAR STRAUSS HOUSES
Ace Sharma, 26, was arrested for a violation of health code in front of the Strauss Houses at 224 East 28th Street last Wednesday at 2:49 a.m. Sharma was in front of the NYCHA building and was allegedly urinating on the sidewalk. Police said that he had no identification on him when he was stopped.
BETH ISRAEL EMPLOYEE ASSAULTED
Nancy Johnson, 54, was arrested for assault inside the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center 281 First Avenue last Thursday at 6:42 a.m. Police said that Johnson bit an employee in the left bicep while he was restraining her and trying to prevent her from leaving the hospital.
EMS WORKER ASSAULTED ON WEST 27TH
Police arrested 42-year-old Michael Sewell for assault of a peace officer in front of 127 West 27th Street last Thursday at 10:18 p.m. Sewell was being treated as an aided case when he allegedly jumped on the EMS worker and attacked him, causing cuts and pain to the victim’s left elbow and right shin.
CYCLIST AND DRIVER DISPUTE ON BROADWAY
Police arrested 39-year-old Diamond Dabo for assault at the corner of Broadway and West 25th Street last Thursday at 2:35 p.m. The victim told police that he was eating lunch at Country Hill when he saw a van trying to park in front of his bike. The vehicle was having trouble getting into the spot because the bike was in the way.
The victim came out of the restaurant and got frustrated with Dabo, the driver, and said, “I’m just trying to have my lunch.” He told police that he and Dabo then got into an argument and Dabo allegedly punched him in the head, causing injuries to his forehead.
MAN ARRESTED FOR CELL PHONE ‘THEFT’
Twenty-year-old Dewayne Tripp was arrested for grand larceny and criminal mischief at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 21st Street last Friday at 1:47 a.m. Tripp was in a cab with the victim when they got into an argument and while they were fighting, Tripp allegedly grabbed the victim’s cell phone and left the cab, attempting to run south on Sixth Avenue. Police said that Tripp then threw the phone to the ground and attempted to get into a second cab before he was stopped by police. The phone was recovered and it was found to be damaged.
ASSAULT ON EAST 27TH
Thirty-year-old Charles Haynes was arrested for assault last Saturday at 3:08 a.m. in front of 150 East 27th Street. Haynes got into an argument with the victim and allegedly punched him in the face, causing swelling and a cut near the victim’s right eye.
CON ED EMPLOYEES TOOK BRIBES, POLICE SAY
Police arrested three Con Ed employees for commercial bribery inside the company’s headquarters at 4 Irving Place last Wednesday at 9:45 a.m. Forty-year-old Danny Cruz allegedly received $200 in exchange for his Con Edison-related plumbing inspection. Robert Tarter, 35, and Thomas Lloyd, 59, allegedly received $200 to facilitate a Con Edison inspection prior to turning the gas on. Tarter also received $200 for an inspection on April 26, 2013, police said.
PROTESTERS ARRESTED LAST WEEK
Multiple people were arrested while protesting the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case in various incidents last week.
Police arrested three protesters for disorderly conduct on Third Avenue and East 18th Street last Monday at 1:45 p.m. Andrew Gombert, 35, Olcay Sesen, 36, and a teenager were allegedly walking on Third Avenue with a group of protesters in the lanes of traffic outside the crosswalk, blocking cars from passing. Multiple officers warned the three to disperse and they didn’t, which police said caused public inconvenience and alarm. The teenager’s name is being withheld due to his age.
Twenty-year-old Jonathan Gilles and 26-year-old Patrick Korte were also arrested while protesting at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive last Thursday at 8:50 p.m. Korte and Gilles were charged with disorderly conduct and were allegedly obstructing vehicular traffic.
MAN ARRESTED FOR KNIFE IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested Cameron Sizemore, 24, for weapons possession last Tuesday at 10:10 a.m. at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street. Sizemore was allegedly in possession of a gravity knife, which was sticking out of his rear pants pocket.
MAN BUSTED FOR NAPPING IN HOTEL WITHOUT BEING A GUEST
Police arrested 26-year-old Ronelle Freeman for criminal trespassing inside the Hampton Inn at 108 West 24th Street last Sunday at 6:46 p.m. An employee at the hotel told police that Freeman went into a hotel room at 1:30 p.m. to sleep and allegedly didn’t have permission to be there. Freeman also allegedly went into another room at 6:30 p.m. and was found sleeping there without permission and without paying for the room.
TEEN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT IN STUY TOWN
Eighteen-year-old Clair Thorn was arrested for assault at 4 Stuyvesant Oval last Tuesday at 5:55 p.m. Thorn allegedly got into a fight with the victim over schoolwork. Thorn then allegedly punched the victim multiple times in the chest, hand, forearm and head causing scratches, bruising and pain. Thorn also threw multiple items belonging to the victim, causing property damage totaling $900, police said. Thorn was also charged with criminal mischief.
BROKEN WINDOWS ON MADISON AVE.
Police arrested 28-year-old Francs Bryce for criminal mischief at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 24th Street last Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. Bryce allegedly punched a man’s front windshield, breaking it in the process, after they got into an argument.
MAN ARRESTED FOR SLEEPING BY ATM
Police arrested 27-year-old Rodney Bryant for criminal trespassing inside a Bank of America ATM at 240 Park Avenue South last Wednesday at 1:55 a.m. Police said that Bryant was allegedly lying down on the floor inside the vestibule, despite a sign that said “No trespassing, no loitering, no sleeping. Violators are subject to arrest.”
‘DRUG DEALER’ BUSTED ON SECOND AVENUE
Police arrested 58-year-old Andres Torres for intent to sell a controlled substance in front of 490 Second Avenue last Wednesday at 9:50 a.m. Torres was allegedly in possession of a controlled substance that he was intending to sell.
ARRESTS MADE IN FIGHT ON THIRD AVENUE
Police arrested 40-year-old Walid Elsayed and 25-year-old Pasquale Cestaro for assault and 25-year-old Jennifer Roeske for criminal mischief on the corner of Third Avenue and East 25th Street last Wednesday at 9 p.m. Elsayed allegedly punched the victim in the head multiple times after they got into an argument. Police said that Cestaro punched the victim in the face, causing swelling. Roeske allegedly grabbed the victim’s cell phone and threw it, causing the screen to crack.
MAN NABBED FOR URINATING IN PUBLIC
Sixty-five-year-old Kenneth Taylor was arrested for an unclassified violation of New York State laws last Tuesday at 6:36 a.m. in front of 10 Union Square West. Taylor was allegedly urinating on a sidewalk in public view. He did not have valid identification, police said.
MAN ARRESTED FOR SLEEPING ON STRAUS HOUSE STAIRS
Police arrested 37-year-old Angelo Hernandez for criminal trespassing at the Straus Houses at 224 East 28th Street last Friday at 8:48 a.m. Hernandez was allegedly sleeping on the stairs at the building and he doesn’t live there. Management told police that Hernandez sleeps on the stairs of the building often.
‘SHOPLIFTER’ BUSTED FOR TOY GUN
Police arrested 39-year-old Nathan Koenig for petit larceny inside the Barnes and Noble at 33 East 17th Street last Friday at 6:41 p.m. Koenig allegedly tried to leave the store without paying for merchandise that he took from the shelves. Police said that when he was searched, Koenig was also in possession of an imitation firearm and allegedly said, “I use that for protection.”
Young resident Karry Kane stands outside the leasing office on Saturday. Photo by Sabina Mollot
After Tishman Speyer’s disastrous four-year reign as landlord of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, the commonly held belief was that no one could possibly be worse for the community than that company, with its now infamous business model based around goals that were both greedy and delusional.
However, now it seems that the property’s occupying force, CWCapital, is more than willing to be known as the company that’s worse for tenants than the one that lost its investors billions and scared countless tenants out of their homes. By raising the rents at over a thousand units, in most cases by hundreds of dollars and in others more than a thousand or even two, the suits at CW make it clear that they have learned nothing from the historic mistakes of the past.
Never mind that the move is just plain cruel ― as noted by Council Member Dan Garodnick last week ― “a mid-lease rent increase of $900 is nothing less than an eviction notice” ― it is also, quite simply, bad business. By issuing these steep increases on such short notice (the extension of one additional month for tenants to decide whether to stay or go is still short notice), CW has essentially said it doesn’t care whether their tenants stay or go.
But at these newly inflated prices, who can afford to replace these people (who are already paying for the privilege of living in renovated apartments) other than those who are crammed into subdivided apartments or the very rich? And why would the very rich opt to move into a building without a doorman with an owner who feels entitled to raise the rents at any time?
In other words, CWCapital is prepared to deal with a very high vacancy rate, generating no income for a while until the place becomes, officially or unofficially, a hub for students and other transients. Who hopefully for the leasing office agents, don’t read the news.
In the past, the owner has offered $500 gift cards as incentives to residents who refer people to sign leases. Interestingly, last week, an offer made by Stuyvesant Town via its official Twitter page for new referrals was for $500-$2,500. So apparently, getting tenants to recommend the place to their friends and loved ones isn’t as easy as it used to be.
CW has pointed out, correctly, that it is perfectly legal to be doing this. But so what? Back when Tishman Speyer took over ST/PCV, market rate residents almost immediately began seeing double digit increases. Stabilized renters got primary residence challenges. Tishman did this believing a) that it was legal and b) that the sky was the limit and so what if tenants left, because there was more where that came from. But as we all know now, Tishman was dead wrong. It turned out that as desperate as New Yorkers are for housing, most people simply didn’t have the salaries that would allow them to agree to pay through the nose, nor did they want to live under a landlord who was well-known for giving high rent hikes.
Our recommendation: Instead of offering money to tenants to get their friends and families into these renovated units, CWCapital should tell the bondholders to hold their horses. They’ll be paid in full, even if it takes a while longer by charging tenants the rents they actually agreed to pay. It isn’t tenants’ fault that the bondholders signed on to become part of the biggest residential real estate flop in history and therefore, tenants are not who should be made to suffer here.
Not that they’re suffering in silence. Last weekend, the Tenants Association began organizing protests
Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg talks to a neighbor outside the leasing office on Saturday. Photo by Sabina Mollot
outside the leasing office, in which they shared with passersby and prospective renters, what problems they’ve faced after signing on the dotted line (noisy neighbors, broken elevators, etc.).
Tenants are also confronting management directly. On the Stuy Town Facebook page, a recent post cheered the reopening of the Oval lawn. The response? One comment seemed to sum things up.
One Facebook user wrote: “You want people to look through floored glasses we the tenants are being treated like dirt no services no laundry room elevators and intercoms that work half of the time and a 30% rent increase that you have fifteen days to comply with or get out shame on you.”
In a post promoting a carnival for kids on the Oval, Facebook user Carla Webb O’Connor had this to say.
“How about the kids that are being kicked out of their homes because their parents can’t afford the ridiculous rent increases?? Not doing anything for them, are you?”
(Those comments have since been deleted.)
The Tenants Association, local elected officials and now Town & Village are calling on CWCapital to reverse course on the rent hikes. CW should, at the very least, give tenants some warning that after ― and only after ― their leases expire, their rents will go up.
Then, CW should charge a rent that isn’t far higher than what’s currently being charged so tenants can actually consider staying.
Tenants protest outside the leasing office on Saturday. Photo by Sabina Mollot
By Sabina Mollot
Following the discovery last week that close to 1,300 residents were being hit with mid-lease rent hikes that have been as high as $2,200, the Tenants Association, along with a handful of other tenants, have taken their grievances to the leasing office.
The plan has been to have “sustained” picketing, with sign-holding tenants warning potential renters and passersby on First Avenue about the increases as well as various quality of life issues like the lack of laundry rooms in some buildings and bedbug sightings in others.
On Saturday alone, TA members said they spoke with with around 50 people outside the leasing office.
John Marsh, president of the Tenants Association, said protesters were telling anyone thinking of renting not to accept verbal representations by leasing agents. “Have everything in writing.”
Most people they spoke with, added Marsh, ending up being concerned about how mid-lease hikes and other issues like broken elevators could affect them. Others, however, simply ignored protesters as they went in and out of the leasing office.
After being asked by a reporter if he’d be moving in, one person in a small group of people leaving the leasing office, would only say, “We read our lease.”
Additionally, CWCapital fired back at the TA by having its leasing agents escort
Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg talks to a neighbor outside the leasing office on Saturday. Photo by Sabina Mollot
prospective renters to model apartments after meeting them at the back of the leasing office. ST/PCV security also, on Saturday morning, called the cops on protesters, asking officers to force protesters to stand behind barriers that were put up over six feet away from the leasing office, close to the curb. However, according to protesters, the cops said the tenants were fine where they were, as long as they remained peaceful and didn’t block traffic. A couple of security officers remained outside the leasing office though for as long as the picketing continued.
As for those who were there on Saturday, around a dozen residents were participating, most of whom were longtime tenants, unaffected by the rent hikes that have been issued to “Roberts” class members.
“My heart’s breaking for the community,” said Susan Kasloff, a 17-year resident as she handed out flyers by the First Avenue Loop.
Marsh and TA Chair Susan Steinberg were also on the scene, as was TA Board Members Steven Newmark and Kirstin Aadahl. Both Aadahl and Newmark are “Roberts” class members, though she got a mid-lease increase and he didn’t. Aadahl said she’s been telling people who enter the leasing office to ask questions such as whether there have been bedbugs in the building. “Because we’re finding out that some tenants are being told after they sign their lease.”
She also said despite the hike she got, she’ll be sticking around. The increase was for $550, but this follows another increase of $200 when she last renewed her lease in February.
“We love living in Stuyvesant Town, but it’s going to be very hard,” said Aadahl.
According to Marsh, the TA is exploring its options, and there has been talk among tenants about a rent strike. However, Marsh said if anything, it would be a rent slowdown, and this would only be done as a last-ditch option since “Roberts” class tenants have a clause in their leases that would allow the owner to hit them with a $50 fee for not paying their rent on time. More longterm tenants however could technically participate in a rent slowdown and not pay their rent for three months before CWCapital could try to evict them, said Marsh. At this time, however, the TA is not recommending that anyone withhold or delay paying rent.
Tenants Association President John Marsh and residents Sandra Lynn and John Giannone Photo by Sabina Mollot
In response to the protesting, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CW, said that the special servicer was acting within its rights following the settlement.
“The rent adjustments were negotiated as part of the settlement and approved by the nine tenant representatives, their attorneys, and the court,” he said. “We intend to implement the agreement in accordance with its terms.”
The rent hikes came on the first day that CWCapital was legally allowed to issue them, which, tenants were warned back in January, the special servicer could do following the “Roberts” settlement. What kind of increase tenants got varied from $100 to $2,200 with most impacted tenants getting increases of hundreds of dollars. Residents were also initially told they’d have two weeks to decide whether they’d be staying or moving. However, the next day CW announced residents would get an extra month.
Residents T&V spoke with on Saturday, though, didn’t seem impressed by the concession.
Two residents protesting outside the leasing office on Saturday, Sandra Lynn and John Giannone, said they hadn’t gotten increases, but have been hearing horror stories from neighbors who did. Giannone said he found out about them when neighbors knocked on the door to ask if they’d gotten one. “They got a statement under their door that said their rent was going up $1,100 with no explanation,” he said.
Another resident who approached the protesters said she was unaware of exactly what her rent hike was, though it wasn’t for her lack of trying. The woman, who didn’t want her name printed, said she was listed one new price somewhere in her lease renewal document and another elsewhere in the paperwork, and said she’s been unable to reach anyone in the leasing office to ask what she’s supposed to be paying. It’s either $600 or $800 more. After going in, she was told that no one in there could answer her questions and was referred to the property’s legal department. However, when she tried to negotiate the rent increase with an attorney, she said he wouldn’t budge. Interestingly, when she later walked into the leasing office with her boyfriend and the two posed as would-be tenants, they were given the impression that there was some wiggle room in price for new tenants.
In other “Roberts” related news, the case’s attorney for tenants, Alex Schmidt, said on Monday that an effort to extend the deadline for class members to file for their damages has been successful. The original deadline was May 15 and the new date is May 31. However, if residents don’t file their paperwork by then, their share of the nearly $69 million in rent overcharge returns will go back to CWCapital and MetLife.
The extension will likely be seen as good news by a member of the class action suit who approached Steinberg on Saturday to ask what it was all about. The resident wanted to know if he was entitled to anything even though he thought he may have gotten someone else’s paperwork. No one in the apartment, he explained, is named Roberts. However, after getting filled in on what Roberts meant, he said he’d be filing.