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The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown

January 22, 2015 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 31

Li’s leadership at C.B. 3 wasn’t biased, B.P. finds; Redacted report released BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


igi Li, the chairperson of Community Board 3, did not demonstrate a pattern of failing to appoint black or Latino members to leadership positions on the board during her first year as chairperson. Nevertheless, Li and the

board’s leadership “failed to sufficiently emphasize the value of diversity and inclusion.” Those were the findings of an Equal Employment Opportunity investigation by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office. Through a Freedom of C.B. 3, continued on p. 7



t is hard to wrap one’s head around the death of a person at the hands of the N.Y.P.D., especially for something as incidental as selling loose cigarettes. In order to make the arrest of Eric Garner, the cops aggressively roll up on him. As they approach him, a cop

reaches for Garner’s wrist and starts the arrest. A common response to this kind of action is to pull one’s arms away and ask what he or she is being arrested for, but by then the situation is out of control. We now have resisting arrest and a full-on takedown, resulting in an arrest. It CLASH, continued on p. 20


When police and protesters clashed on the Lower East Side

Hands up, don’t shoot! Protesters for police reform gathered last Friday at the African Burial Ground on Duane St.

The Long March: Protesters vow they’re not going to stop BY ZAC H WILLIAM S


or about 1,000 #BlackLivesMatter activists on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, inspiring each other was just as important as spreading the word to passersby about the movement’s demands for police reform and social justice. Regaining momentum lost in the last month was on the minds of many who marched from Union Square to Foley Square on Mon., Jan. 19, in an effort to “reclaim” Martin Lu-

ther King Jr.’s legacy. Tensions with police were minimal as they rallied down Broadway chanting, singing and demanding a social awakening to ongoing discrimination against people of color. Protests were held throughout the country on Jan. 19, including a march from Harlem to the United Nations headquarters earlier that day. “We’re not terrorists. We’re not anti-cop. We’re anti-injustice and anti-brutality,” said Esther Baldwin, an activist

who began organizing the march about six weeks ago. Participants conceded that they indeed lost some ground in recent weeks after tens of thousands of New Yorkers took part in protests in early to mid-December. The fatal shootings of two New York Police Department officers in Brooklyn last month led to calls for a moratorium on demonstrations demanding police reforms. Supporters of the N.Y.P.D. meanwhile have PROTESTS, continued on p. 6

Streit’s matzo in exodus from 4 Police Blotter: Gunfire rocks 10 Foes, fans share views on 14 “20in15” is a beast of a 19 | May 14, 2014



A new issue of Charlie Hebdo, purchased in New York City, with the receipt to prove it.



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January 22, 2015

What would you do — pave over the Jackie Onassis Reservoir? We told this to him, Councilmember Johnson is aware of this,” she added, saying she’s not sure why he continues to spout this line. “It’s not possible to put 200 carriage horses in the park. There are 68 carriages and each needs two to three horses working in two to three shifts per day. Even if you had just one shift, that’s 70 horses. You need at least one acre per horse. The whole park is 800 acres. So you’re talking about one-quarter of the park and turning it into basically a tourist trap.” Feldman is the director of NYCLASS (New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets). As for why Johnson’s rep said there will be a lengthy discussion about the legislation, Feldman explained that whenever the city plans to shut down an industry, under the New York City Charter, a six-month environmental impact study is required to investigate what the effects would be.


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HORSES GOTTA HAVE PARK: Animal rights advocates want to know if Councilmember Corey Johnson is with them or against them on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed carriage-horse ban. Johnson previously told us he supported getting the horses off the city’s streets and putting them in Central Park. On Wednesday, a Johnson aide reiterated that position to us. Basically, the aide said, Johnson feels the horses should be stabled in Central Park, where they would be “cared for humanely.” The equines wouldn’t ever exit the park and go on the city’s streets, but would only work in the park. Johnson is a leading animal-rights advocate, his staffer added, noting that his boss has introduced four pro-pet pieces of legislation, including one to regulate irresponsible “puppy mill” breeders and another that would require background checks on pet purchasers. Johnson’s rep said a decision on the legislation won’t happen overnight, but rather “there will be a long period of discussion.” Told of Johnson’s position, Allie Feldman, a leading anti-horse carriage activist, said, “We appreciate that the councilmember recognizes the inhumanity and danger of forcing horses to pull flimsy wooden carts in the middle of chaotic Midtown traffic.” That said, Feldman fears that Johnson’s proposal is untenable. “There’s 200 carriage horses,” she explained. “To make it work, you’d have to have 16-foot-by-16-foot stalls for 200 horses, plus a pasture, which would take away a piece of the park the size of the softball fields or the Great Lawn. It’s just not a workable solution.


JE LIS CHARLIE: On Tuesday, New Yorkers were able to purchase the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo, published on schedule by the grief-stricken colleagues of the magazine’s four lead cartoonists, Cabut, Charb, Wolinsky and Tignous, who were murdered by two militant extremists firing AK-47s into their weekly editorial meeting on Jan. 7 in Paris. Six other editors, writers and guests, as well as two security guards, were killed during the attack. Tuesday morning, 100 copies of Charlie Hebdo were available for sale, for $6 apiece, at Albertine, the bookshop at the cultural services section of the French Embassy, on the Upper East Side. A New York Police Department security detail, including a K-9 unit, was positioned in front of the embassy. There was a slew of photographers awaiting exiting customers, whose copies of the satirical journal were hidden from view in shopping bags. The latter can now not only say, “Je suis Charlie,” but also “Je lis Charlie,” as in, “I read Charlie.” The satirical mag sports a caricature of a teary-eyed Mohammed, Islam’s prophet, holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign, beneath the words in French, “All Is Forgiven.” But not everyone sees it that way. As of late Tuesday evening, in global protests and violence in response to the silly cartoon image, the worst was said to have been in Niger, where 10 people had reportedly been killed and an additional 173 injured, plus 45 churches set ablaze in the capital, Niamey, alone. In protests in Pakistan, a photographer was shot and wounded. Angry demonstrations were also reported in Gaza, Algeria and Jordan. French flags were torched in Senegal and Mauritania. There were even some peaceful protests.

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his past fall, East Village Bed & Coffee, a bedand-breakfast on Avenue C between E. Seventh and Eighth Sts., was shut down after 16 years at the location. Owned by Anne Ednis, a neighborhood resident for almost three decades, the guesthouse offered visitors a “home away from home,” and the opportunity to experience the neighborhood and city in a unique way. Ednis’s understanding of and care for her guests was evident from the thoughtful FAQ page on the place’s Web site, where she shared that she offered earplugs and ambient white-noise machines upon request for guests bothered by New York’s nighttime din. She also addressed other concepts and customs that might confuse foreign guests: such as the fact that our subway map is not to scale, the difference between avenues and streets, and tipping customs. Ednis’s bed-and-breakfast was closed down due to a strict law that went into effect May 2011 in an attempt to crack down on short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, and illegal hotels. The law prohibits stays of less than 30 days in Class A buildings — multiple-dwelling buildings that are generally permanent residences. Unfortunately, the law took legitimate bed-andbreakfasts like Ednis’s — that pay taxes — along with it as collateral. Another operator, Vinessa Milando owns Ivy Terrace Bed and Breakfast in Midtown East. She started the business in 1998 because she felt that, while New York City can be an expensive and intimidating

that these well-run, tax-compliant bed-and-breakfasts were not the legislation’s intended targets, the regulation has yet to be amended and the situation has not improved. The Villager profiled Milando and the StayNYC members’ struggle in August 2013. Since then, she said, “More mom-and-pop B&B’s have shuttered their doors,” due to fines and violations or simply out of fear of their imminent shutdown. “Others have chosen to be far Vinessa Milando, who operates Ivy Terrace Bed and Breakfast, in a less visible, or changed how they room with a kitchen, which allows guests to cook. operate in order to avoid fines and place to visit for may people, she could provide an violations,” she said. alternative by offering visitors “warm, friendly hosRather than offer hope, Bill de Blasio’s becoming pitality and a beautifully decorated place.” mayor meant a significant administration change, In 2011, Milando founded Short Term Alternatives with many supporters in the Bloomberg administrafor You NYC (StayNYC) in response to the increas- tion with whom StayNYC had developed relationing crackdown against the city’s bed-and-breakfasts. ships moving on to other jobs. StayNYC members — mostly minority- or wom“In many ways, we had to start over,” Milando en-owned businesses — are all licensed New York said. City “small-facility operators.” They collect and pay Though StayNYC has lost many of its members, the New York City hotel tax, occupancy tax, city and Milando and the B&B operators are fighting on. They state sales tax, and operate in small buildings that continue to meet with Department of Buildings offiare exclusively used as bed-and-breakfasts, with less cials and local legislators to explain the law’s crushthan 10 rooms. ing impact on them.  According to StayNYC, its members are seeking StayNYC has an online petition — addressed to the an exemption to the law to allow “a specific class of state Senate and Assembly and Governor Cuomo — small-facilities operators in New York City to remain urging that New York City B&B’s be allowed to keep accepted, legal, taxpaying small businesses.” operating. The petition can be found at http://www. However, while many legislators seem to agree .

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And that’s how the matzo crumbles; Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN














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The finished, boxed product rolls off the production line at Streit’s Rivington St. matzo factory.

January 22, 2015


he Streit’s matzo company will vacate its longtime Lower East Side factory and relocate later this year. For nine decades the family-owned company has manufactured matzo from four adjacent former tenement buildings at 148-154 Rivington St., growing over that time from a local to international brand. But just as company founder Aron Streit moved the business there in 1925 from a smaller operation on Pitt St., the time has come to secure a more modern space for the manufacture and distribution of the unleavened, pockmarked bread eaten at Passover. “We’re basically at the same crossroads now,” said Aaron Gross, a great great-grandson of Streit who works at the company. “Manufacturing for national distribution on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is not an easy thing to do. We’re good at it. I think we do it as well as anyone could.” A critical factor in the decision to move is the factory’s aging equipment, Gross said. The two 72-foot-long ovens are more than 70 years old and repairing them is simply not economical anymore, according to Gross. New ovens are typically 150 to 200 feet long, an obvious challenge in a factory that’s only 100 feet from front to back. The machines that form flour and

water into sheets of dough before baking, known as sheeters, also present spatial challenges, Gross said. “Our sheeters are about 12 feet,” he explained. “You can’t get a new sheeter that’s under 30 feet long.” A decision on where the company will next set up shop will be announced this year around Passover, Gross said. He declined to give further details or divulge to which real estate developer the current site has been sold. Streit’s matzo production, which now comprises about 40 percent of the U.S. market, will continue without interruption, he added. Consolidating operations into one new location will allow for some obvious efficiencies to be added into the production process. The current facility has no loading dock, leaving the shipments prone to delays on busy neighborhood streets. A move would also eliminate the need to bag matzo mix only for the trip to the company’s warehouse in New Jersey. In one facility, a single person with a hand truck could accomplish that task, Gross said. The current factory has six floors among the four buildings, necessitating the employment of six rabbis in order to ensure products adhere to religious strictures. Two or three rabbis could handle that task in a single-story building, he added. “I want to make this move and go

from making matzo the most inefficient way to making it the most efficient way,” he said. Certain characteristics of a Streit’s matzo derive from the factory’s sometimes-zany setup. The archaic ovens utilize convection rather than direct flames to bake matzo, said Gross, who credited this method with producing the brownish blistering on their product, as well as an even complexion on both sides. The squares of unleavened bread then travel in package-sized portions via a basket system, carrying them from floor to floor. As they do this, they cool off, giving them a freshness absent from matzo from other companies that use refrigerators, Gross said. Staircases and corridors appear through walls and ceilings in the same places where Aron Streit wanted them way back when. Not a lot has changed since the last relocation in how they make matzo. “When we started looking to design a new factory, the equipment manufacturers came through and were amazed that the old stuff still works and that the place was so well-designed, especially the basket system,” said Alan Adler, the company’s chief operating officer and great-grandson of Aron Streit. Gross added that certain elements STREIT’S, continued on p. 5

Streit’s to make exodus from Lower East Side STREIT’S, continued from p. 4

of the current production process, such as paper packaging and the basket system, might continue in a new factory. The move will also involve a human cost, with some longtime employees unable to continue working for the company once it leaves the Lower East Side. An upcoming documentary film, “Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream,” will portray the company, its employees and the surrounding neighborhood. One of the last bastions of manufacturing in the neighborhood, Streit’s got its start at a time when the Lower East Side was filled with Jewish immigrants. Such a readily available customer base made Rivington St. a convenient site for business back then. But international competition, particularly from Israel, now threatens Streit’s market share. Deep-pocketed investors now control Manischewitz and two other former domestic competitors, making Streit’s the last of four original family-owned matzo producers in the U.S. Ten years ago, Adler told The Villager that the company retained hopes of remaining in the neighborhood for the long term. Emotions will take over the day when the Rivington St. factory closes, but the greater tradition of maintaining a family business will remain in place as the company fi nally undergoes the inevitable, said Gross. “To hang on here just for the sake of hanging on doesn’t make sense,” he said.

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Marching to reform N.Y.P.D. and reshape society PROTESTS, continued from p. 1


January 22, 2015


been more vocal since then in portraying the protests as detrimental to public safety and dismissive of the dangers police face in their jobs. Actions continued after the police deaths but not at the frequency or volume as in the weeks following the Dec. 3 announcement of a grand jury’s non-indictment of Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed the N.Y.P.D.-banned chokehold on Eric Garner that led to his death. The recent holiday season also disrupted the rhythm of the protests, according to Jonathan Laraque-Ho, a student at Bard High School Early College on the Lower East Side, who has been actively involved in student organizing. The MLK holiday was an ideal time to pick up the tempo and get people excited once more about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, he added. “We’re trying to get back on the streets,” he said. “A lot of people have been pretty bored with what’s happening over the break.” On a day when many people, including President Obama, volunteer in local communities in commemoration of MLK Jr., remembering the civil rights leader as a non-violent rabble rouser who challenged authority is important to continuing efforts to battle contemporary racism in America, activists said on Monday. The newly released film “Selma” inspires young people to view their current activism from an historical perspective stretching back 50 years to King’s work, according to Ash Laraque-Ho, older sister to Jonathan. Though King is best known for advocating for suffrage for African-Americans, social issues — such as poverty within an economic system tilted toward white people — became a more prominent theme in his work in the years before his 1968 assassination. Activists are quick to note that gaps in employment, income and education between people of color and white Americans persist to the present time. Reforming a judicial system where people of color often receive disproportionately harsher punishments for drug offenses compared to whites is one way to bridge such divisions, according to Andrew Slack of Brooklyn. More ethnic diversity within the N.Y.P.D. would help as well, according to a Lower East Side resident named Omar, who declined to give his last name. About half of the department’s officers are white. “It’s not just about police brutality — it’s the war on drugs,” he add-

Before Monday’s march on MLK Day, protesters for police reform gathered last Friday at the African Burial Ground on Duane St.

ed about the issues at hand as he marched down Broadway toting a book entitled “The New Jim Crow.” “Broken windows,” though — the police doctrine that enforcement against low-level crime prevents more serious offenses — remains a target of activists. Police supporters note that Garner had a history of petty offenses. His death would not have happened had he not resisted officers’ efforts to arrest him, they say. Akai Gurley was fatally shot by Police Officer Peter Liang while walking down a stairwell in Brooklyn public housing on Nov. 20. The shooting was an accident, according to police. Relatives of both Gurley and Garner spoke at Foley Square on Monday, noting that circumstances of the two incidents aside, police demonstrated a disregard for people of color as the men had lain dying. A video of the incident that led to Garner’s death shows no effort by medical personnel or police to revive him. Meanwhile, the officer who shot Gurley was reportedly texting his union representative in the minutes following his fatal pull of the trigger. Activists said they are in the movement for the long haul. Their demands include the firing of Pantaleo, the end of “broken windows,” and greater transparency within the N.Y.P.D., as well as more community

involvement in setting department policies. The example of Martin Luther King Jr. illustrates that ambitions to transform American society take years if not decades to realize. Nonetheless, Erica Garner of Staten Island told the crowd assembled at Foley Square

that a certain thought inspires her to continue seeking justice for her father, despite the obstacles ahead in reforming one of the most powerful and respected law enforcement agencies in the U.S. “What comes to mind for me is that he never gave up,” she said of King.

Bias charge against Li ‘unsubstantiated’: B.P. C.B. 3, continued from p. 1

Information Law (FOIL) request, The Villager obtained a copy of the E.E.O. investigation final report. Yet, marked “Confidential,” it was extremely heavily redacted, to the point where the “3” was blotted out in each and every reference to Community Board 3, as were all persons’ names — and frequently even any pronouns, too, such as “she” and “her,” that might help identify an individual via gender. In addition, the borough president’s office dragged its feet a bit in releasing the documents within the required time frame — taking more than a month too long — with a spokesperson repeatedly explaining that it was a “sensitive” situation. The investigation was sparked by a complaint by Ayo Harrington, an African-American member of C.B. 3, who charged that Li, who is Asian-American, had refused Harrington’s request to appoint her chairperson of the board’s Health, Seniors and Human Services / Youth, Education and Human Rights Committee when the position became open. Harrington further charged that two other board members — one of whom is African-American — asked to jointly co-chair that same committee but were also rejected by Li, who responded that C.B. 3’s bylaws do not allow for committee co-chairpersons. According to the report, Harrington filed her complaint with the B.P.’s office in late April of last year. (Harrington, however, told The Villager she didn’t actually file the complaint, but that Brewer’s office launched the investigation independently after The Villager published a letter by Harrington, in which she made the accusation.) As part of the investigation, interviews were subsequently conducted with Harrington and Li, as well as with “witnesses,” including possibly at least one other C.B. 3 member and apparently Susan Stetzer, the board’s district manager. By August, Brewer’s office had finished the probe, and letters regarding its findings were sent to Li and Harrington. The reason why the final report, as well as the letters to Li and Harrington — copies of which were also provided to The Villager — were all so heavily redacted is because the accusation was ultimately found to be “unsubstantiated,” according to the borough president’s office. “The complaint that [redacted name] declined to appoint you or [redacted name] as [redacted] Committee chair on the basis of race or color was not substantiated by the E.E.O. Officers’ investigation,” the letter to

Harrington, as redacted for The Villager, says. The letters do conclude by stating, however, that the borough president — who appoints community board members — recommended four “remedial actions.” These measures are delineated by four bullet points, though, again, are completely redacted, leaving only the bullet points showing. (According to a source who requested anonymity, and who tipped The Villager off that the investigation had been concluded, Brewer recommended that both Li and Stetzer undergo E.E.O. training.) Reading between the redactions, the investigators found that Li neither had made enough appointments — she had made six up to that point — nor chaired the board long enough, to have established a “consistent pattern” of failing to put qualified black and Latino members in leadership positions. Again, reading between the redactions, Li told the investigators that she made appointments based on individuals’ qualifications, and that “race was never a factor in any of her decisions.” Rather, Li said, she “relies on outgoing committee, subcommittee and task force chairpersons to make recommendations for new chairpersons.” Li added that, in the case of one of the committee chairperson hopefuls whom she rejected — again, the name is redacted — Li had received reports that this individual had demonstrated “disruptive behavior at [full board] meetings and committee meetings,” and so Li “felt that the behavior would not fit in very well.” Of the two other board members who Li snubbed for top spots, she explained that “neither had taken any leadership initiative during the time that they had been on the board.” Again, this is reading between the redactions and filling in the blanks. Neither Li nor Harrington would comment to The Villager regarding the substance of the final report or the recommendations because the investigation was deemed confidential by Brewer’s office. In fact, Brewer’s office — even though providing the final report and the two letters to The Villager — would not confirm that any of the above individuals were questioned, or for that matter, that there had been any investigation at all. After receiving the majorly redacted materials, The Villager requested that Brewer’s office provide a less heavily crossed-out copy of the report — and specifically pressed to find out what the four “remedial actions” were. But Brewer’s office would not budge.

The first page of a heavily redacted letter from the Manhattan borough president’s office to C.B. 3 member Ayo Harrington, notifying her that E.E.O. investigators found her complaint against Chairperson Gigi Li to be unsubstantiated. Three of four recommended “remedial actions” are shown blacked out; a fourth is on the letter’s second page and is also completely blacked out.

In a Dec. 28 letter to The Villager, Adele Bartlett, Brewer’s FOIL officer, wrote, in part, “[T]he Office of the Borough President has at all times declined to confirm or deny the identity of any parties to any Equal Employment complaint, and our response to your request can in no way be interpreted as confirming the identify of any party involved. “The extensive redaction was necessary and proper pursuant to Equal Employment Policy of this Office, as well as the Equal Employment Policy of the City of New York, to protect the identity of the parties to an unsubstantiated discrimination claim.” Bartlett recommended contacting the borough president’s FOIL appeals officer, James Caras. In response to the newspaper’s appeal seeking a reduction of the redactions, Caras responded on Jan. 6 that,

under the Public Officers Law, to do so would represent an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” since there were no findings of misconduct or disciplinary action. In a brief phone interview, Caras added that all E.E.O. complaints are taken extremely seriously because there could be liability involved for the city — plus, it’s something Brewer personally takes very seriously. If the complaint had, in fact, been substantiated, more information would have been divulged, he said. In a phone interview, Harrington said, “All I’m prepared to say is, the result of my concern has resulted in a board that is more reflective — as in one African-American being appointed the ad hoc Nominating Committee chairperson [heading the temporary committee that C.B. 3, continued on p. 23 January 22, 2015



Mendez defies D.O.E., holds charter hearing BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


he Department of Education tried to call off the hearing at the 11th hour, but that didn’t stop 300 people from turning out at P.S. 20 last Thursday night to voice their opposition to a proposed new Success Academy charter school co-location in School District 1. Councilmember Rosie Mendez forged ahead with the hearing, which D.O.E. had canceled with less than 24 hours notice. Success Academy is deferring opening a new charter elementary school in the East Side district until 2016, but apparently still plans to move ahead with the school. Whether the plan is that the charter would be co-located with one or more existing district schools in a school building, or would be sited in another location was not immediately clear. What is known is that no location for the proposed charter has been publicly identified yet. Joining Mendez at last Thursday’s hearing were Assemblymember Deborah Glick, as well as Lisa Donlan, president of Community Education Council District 1, and scores of parents and community members who came to share their frustration over the cancellation of the long-awaited hearing to discuss the charter school’s request to open in School District 1. In fact, last October, the SUNY Charter School Institute board of trustees had voted to approve a charter school for School District 2. Without notification to the community or local politicians, Success Academy send a letter to the SUNY charter board requesting a change of location from School District 1 to Districts 2 or 6. Last Thursday’s hearing had been scheduled after Mendez and Councilmember Margaret Chin protested that a hearing for that change should be required, even though the bureaucrats dubbed it a “nonmaterial change.” D.O.E. cancelled last Thursday’s hearing, saying, “In light of the fact that D.O.E. is not planning to site a school in District 1, tomorrow’s hearing has been cancelled.” Yet, to date, Success Academy has not rescinded its request to change its application to School District 1. Plus, last week, a Success Academy spokesperson told The Villager that the new school’s opening is simply being “deferred” until next year. “It is very frustrating that the Department of Education would cancel a meeting with less than 24 hours’


January 22, 2015

notice to the community and elected officials,” said Mendez. “D.O.E. states that Success Academy Charter School gave notice that they will not open a site in School District 1. However, Success Academy hasn’t withdrawn its application nor provided said notice in writing. The parents of School District 1 deserve an opportunity to be heard, and D.O.E. has taken that opportunity away from them.” Glick said, “I find it incredibly concerning that this proposed public hearing on Success Academy has been cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice, especially in light of the fact that Success Academy has not made any formal commitment to remain out of District 1 in the future. Success Academy and D.O.E. need to publicly state their intentions for the record.” Donlan said it’s time to put a hold on new charters. “The lack of transparency, clarity and community input for this charter school proposal,” she declared, “calls into question the entire chartering process at the very moment when the state Legislature is discussing raising the charter cap in New York City and New York State. There can not be any more charters issued or co-locations considered until the chartering and siting process have been clarified and we can put the public back in public education.”

Orna Silver, a School District 1 teacher and parent, said the charter operators are wrong if they think they can pull a fast one on District 1, which encompasses the East Village and most of the Lower East Side. “‘They’ think that the parents of District 1 won’t fight back,” Silver said. “ ‘They’ think that because many of us speak Spanish or Chi-

nese that we are an easy target. ‘They’ think that we don’t have great schools and great choices. ‘They’ think that it will be easy to sneak in a Success Academy and we will run to send our children there. Let me tell you, ‘they’ are wrong. We have voices, we have rights and we will protect our children and our schools.”

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Councilmember Rosie Mendez, at podium with microphone, forged ahead with the hearing, even though the Department of Education had tried to cancel it at the last minute.

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January 22, 2015


POLICE BLOTTER E.V. gunshots Bullets flew around the East Village on Tues., Jan. 20, in two separate incidents. Luckily, only one man was left slightly injured. In the first incident, a man, 39, told police officers that he had been sitting in his car at 6:15 p.m. while waiting at a red light at Avenue C and E. 12th St., when he saw several males running northbound chasing another male. He said he then heard three loud bangs — gunshots. One bullet shattered his driver’s side-view mirror and he suffered an abrasion to his arm from a piece of the debris. His injury was non-life-threatening. There were no arrests. Later that same day, at 10:40 p.m., shots were fired in the vicinity of E. Sixth St. and Avenue D. According to the Ninth Precinct, multiple witnesses phoned in reports, giving different locations for where the shots were fired. However, the precinct said the shots seemed to have originated in the vicinity of 91 Avenue D, the

Manhattan Express Deli. A police spokesperson said an employee at the bodega reported hearing two to three gunshots, and discovered a bullet hole in the shop’s window. A different police spokesperosn said there were two bullet holes found in the window. As officers were arriving at the location, they spotted a vehicle that suddenly made a U-turn. An officer stopped the car and arrested two males and one female in connection with the incident. Police did not provide more details about the arrested individuals. As for whether the two shooting incidents were related and what it was all about, as of Wednesday afternoon it was still under investigation. “At this time it’s still being looked at,” a Ninth Precinct source said.

Baruch delivery bandit Police are seeking the public’s help in locating and identifying an individual wanted in connection with an armed robbery pattern in the Baruch

Two images of the alleged Baruch Houses deliveryman robber, one with a beard and one without.

Houses, specifically in one building in the complex. In each case, the suspect robs deliverymen. Police said that on Sun., Jan. 11, at around 7 p.m., the suspect approached a 16-year-old delivery boy inside an apartment building at 130 Columbia St., displayed a firearm, and removed

$60 in cash and food from him. On Thurs., Jan. 15, around 2:30 p.m., the suspect approached a 45-year-old deliveryman inside 130 Columbia St., displayed a gun and stole food. Also on Thurs., Jan. 15, around 7:25 POLICE BLOTTER, continued on p.11

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p.m., the suspect approached a man, 22, inside 130 Columbia St., showed a gun and stole $100 in cash from him. The suspect is described as a male white Hispanic, about 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, with short hair, and wearing black sneakers and a black coat. In the first incident, the suspect had a beard. In the second one, he was clean-shaven. Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the Crime Stoppers hotline, at 1-800-577TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers. com, or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Bridge jump Police reported that shortly after 10 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 19, a person jumped off the Manhattan Bridge and landed in the street in the vicinity of South St. and Pike Slip. Emergency Service Unit police reported the individual was D.O.A. Police did not provide more information. A spokesperson for the city’s Chief Medical Examiner said the victim had been ID’d and that it was a suicide. But it wasn’t clear if police had notified family members yet, which police require before they release the name to the press.

Sex crimes pattern Police have linked more incidents to a suspect wanted for an attempted rape in the East Village. The suspect is wanted for an attempted rape of a woman, 22, after he followed her into her building’s stairwell, on E. Sixth St., around 6 a.m. on Dec. 28. On Dec. 30, police also linked the suspect to a Dec. 16 incident where a man followed a woman, 19, as she walked into an elevator from the lobby of a building on F.D.R. Drive, then tried to grab her buttocks and breasts and forcibly kiss her. A struggle ensued, and he fled. On Jan. 15, police included three more incidents in the pattern. According to police, on Tues., Dec. 9 at 6:25 a.m., in the East Village’s Ninth Precinct, a 25-year-old woman was entering her apartment building when the suspect came in behind her and grabbed her buttocks. The victim

screamed and the suspect fled. On Wed., Dec. 17, at 4:25 a.m., within the confines of the 30 Precinct — which includes West Harlem, Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill — a 20-year-old woman was entering her apartment building when a man that police believe to be the same suspect entered behind her. He grabbed the victim and covered her mouth, and began to forcibly touch her back and buttocks. The suspect then fled the scene. On Wed., Jan. 14, at 2:30 a.m., in the Fifth Precinct, which includes Chinatown and Little Italy, a woman, 31, was opening the door of her apartment building when, police say, the same suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her waist. The man then pulled the victim’s pants down, and when she yelled, he pushed her away and fled the scene. The suspect is described as dark-complexioned black, about 5-feet4 to 5-feet-11, age 20 to 25, and 150 to 180 pounds. He wears a black Yankees baseball hat.  Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the Crime Stoppers hotline, at 1-800-577TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers. com, or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

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Two men got into a verbal dispute at about 12:10 a.m. on Tues., Jan. 13. One of them, Amara Toure, 20, then snatched the glasses off the face of the other man, 44, tossed them down and ground his shoes into them, police said. Toure then fled the scene. Police tracked him to a residence at 24 Fifth Ave. the following evening. But despite the handcuffs, Toure broke free and ran away following arrest. According to a news report, unknown to police, the apartment’s bathroom had two doors, and Toure snuck out the back one, then made his escape wearing only sweatpants. But police apprehended him later in an unlocked basement at 40 E. 11th St. Toure was slapped with one charge of criminal mischief for smashing the man’s glasses, valued at $250, and a misdemeanor charge of escape.

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Right now more than ever, the city needs unity EDITORIAL


s we’re still at the beginning of this new year, there’s no question that these are very fraught times, both at home and abroad. The city continues to feel tense after the non-indictment of a police officer in the death of Eric Garner during Garner’s arrest this past summer. There are ongoing protests — with marches and die-ins still “alive” more than a month later, even after the cold-blooded execution of two police officers in Brooklyn. In a low point, the sight of cops turning their backs on Mayor de Blasio at the two slain officers’ funerals is one that will not soon be forgotten. There has been a slight thaw, with de Blasio seemingly now making every effort to ingratiate himself to the cops, and Patrick Lynch, of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — realizing he was pushing it too far, too stridently — no longer demanding the mayor apologize to the police. Police have been ratcheting their

arrest numbers back up after a stunning slowdown following the execution of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Ironically, this all comes amid the fact that crime in the city — such as, most important, murders — is at historic lows. In short, police are saving lives — a lot of lives, black, white, brown and every other skin tone in the spectrum — simply because the city is that much safer. And where the most lives are being saved is in the most dangerous inner-city neighborhoods. Clearly, de Blasio’s clash with the cops is threatening to undermine his entire progressive agenda. In his first year, he has had successes on pre-K, paid sick leave, creating an affordable housing plan and, most recently, municipal ID cards. His forward-thinking Vision Zero plan is paving the way for greatly increased street safety. Yet all everyone is talking and thinking about — what is being felt most viscerally — is the mayor’s rocky relationship with the police. It all gives the city a surreal feeling of tremendous instability. De Blasio came into office saying he would end “The Tale of Two Cit-

ies” by addressing income inequality and, in general, New York’s affordability crisis. Yet new polls, for whatever they’re worth, show that his approval rating is down sharply among many voters and that many now feel race relations in the city are actually worse than before. Is it any coincidence that other leaders are suddenly emerging to grab headlines, such as former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — last year’s onetime mayoral frontrunner — being appointed a special adviser to Governor Cuomo. And an article recently highlighted how City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s campaign war chest is near bursting, and how he’s likely raring to run for mayor if de Blasio stumbles further. As many have noted, now, particularly, is not the time for the mayor to be in conflict with the police, not in the wake of Muslim extremists’ sickening slaughter of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. Not now, with Europe on high alert as police hunt down sleeper cells of more homegrown terrorists — many of whom have honed their hatred and killing skills in Syria — and with anti-Semitism at truly frightening levels in

France and elsewhere. Getting back to New York...we support the protesters’ right to march, hold die-ins and air their views. But at this point, we think there are more constructive steps that can be taken. For example, one idea we like is a series of town halls and “digital youth dialogues” on police-community relations that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — a former cop — and civil-rights attorney Norman Siegel recently kicked off. This is exactly what we need more of — dialogue, and a search for real solutions. In an encouraging note, an op-ed in the Daily News a few weeks ago noted that police reform in New York City tends to occur in 20-year intervals. Almost always, it’s sparked by protests over what is seen as an unjustified killing by police. The good news is that, after each wave of reform, the Police Department actually emerges better off, and, thus, so does the city. Hopefully, after all this discomfort we’re going through, that’s where we’ll end up — as a safer, more unified city. That’s the place we do need to get to. Because, frankly, given the state of the world today, we don’t have much choice.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Bus service is a bust To The Editor: I have contacted many politicians about the very poor bus service here in the East Village, but have gotten zero response. I have, in the past few years, become a user of the M14A crosstown. The Downtown Select bus does not stop at E. Ninth St. as the limited bus did. As a result, there is a 17-block distance from 14th St. to Houston and Allen Sts. Usually, when the bus was limited service, I

would get off at the E. Ninth St. stop and walk a few blocks to Avenue A and E. Sixth St. Now I get off at 14th St. and change for the 14A. The ostensible schedule is every 15 minutes between buses — but the reality is 25 minutes or more. Also the ratio is allegedly three 14D buses to one 14A. It is more likely five or more to one. Last week it was nine 14D to one 14A, after a 30-minute wait. Most of the latter D’s go by empty. The 14A bus has a mix of passengers — white ethnics, Latinos, African-American, poor, the new gentrification citizens — who need public transportation.


The Second Ave. Select bus stops at 34th, 28th and 23rd Sts. to accommodate those going to and from the hospitals on First Ave. But it’s crazy to skip the East Village stop at Ninth St., creating a 17-block distance to the next stop. So now the transfer I make at 14th St. becomes imperative. Again, I have written to our local politicians, and gotten no reply. State Senator Daniel Squadron has an electronic response, but nothing else. Who will help solve this bus-service crisis? Bert Zackim E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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Cartooning can be dangerous to your health. 12

January 22, 2015

Editors, not terrorists, killed U.S. political cartoonists TALKING POINT BY TED RALL



errorism doesn’t scare political cartoonists nearly as much as editors — and the corporate bean-counters who tell them what to do. The Charlie Hebdo massacre couldn’t have happened here in the United States. But it’s not because American newspapers have better security. Gunmen could never kill four political cartoonists in an American newspaper office because no paper in the U.S. employs two, much less four, staff political cartoonists — the number who died on Jan. 7 in Paris. There is no equivalent of Charlie Hebdo, which puts political cartoons front and center, in the States. (The Onion never published political cartoons — and it ceased print publication last year. MAD, for which I draw, focuses on popular culture.) When I began drawing political cartoons professionally in the early 1990s, hundreds of my colleagues worked on staff at newspapers, with full salaries and benefits. That was already down from journalism’s midcentury glory days, when there were thousands. Many papers employed two. Shortly after World War II, The New York Times, which today has none, employed four cartoonists on staff. Today there are fewer than 30. Most American states have zero full-time staff political cartoonists. Many big states — California, New York, Texas, Illinois — have one. No American political magazine, on the left, center or right, has one. No American political Web site (Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, Slate, Salon, etc.) employs a political cartoonist. Although its launch video was done in cartoons, eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s new $250 million left-wing start-up, First Look Media, refuses to hire political cartoonists — or pay tiny fees to reprint syndicated ones. These outfits have tons of staff writers. During the last two weeks, many journalists and editors have spread the “Je Suis Charlie” meme through social media in order to express “solidarity” with the victims of Charlie Hebdo, political cartoonists (who routinely receive death threats, whether they live in France or the United States) and freedom of expression. That’s nice.  No it’s not.  It’s annoying. As far as political cartoonists are concerned, editorials pledging “solidarity” with the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists is an empty gesture — corporate slacktivism. Less than 24 hours after the shootings at Charlie Hebdo, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel fired its longtime award-winning political cartoonist, Chan Lowe. Political cartoonists: editors love us when we’re dead. While we’re still breathing, they’re laying us off, slashing our rates, stealing our copyrights and disappearing us from where we used to appear — killing our art form. American editors and publishers have never been as willing to publish satire, whether in pictures or in words, as their European counterparts. But things have gone from bad to apocalyptic in the last 30 years. Humor columnists like the late Art Buchwald earned millions syndicating their jokes about politicians and current events to American newspapers through the 1970s and 1980s.  Miami Herald  hu-

At the “Je Suis Charlie” rally in Washington Square Park on Jan. 10, a sign showed French satirical cartoonists Bernard Verlhac (Tignous) and Stéphane Charbonnier (“Charb”), both slain three days earlier in the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.

mor writer Dave Barry was a rock star through the 1990s, routinely cranking out bestselling books. Then came 9/11. When I began working as an executive talent scout for the United Media syndicate in 2006, my sales staff informed me that, if Barry had started out then, they wouldn’t have been able to sell him to a single newspaper, magazine or Web site — not even if they gave his work to them for free. Barry was still funny, but there was no market for satire anywhere in American media. That’s even truer today.  The youngest working political cartoonist in the United States, Matt Bors, is 31. When people ask me

American newspapers and magazines don’t want to publish anything that questions the status quo.

who the next up-and-comer is, I tell them there isn’t one — and there won’t be one any time soon. Americans are funny. Americans like funny. They especially like wicked funny. We’re so desperate for funny that we think Jon Stewart is hilarious. (But Richard Pryor. He really was.) But editors and producers won’t give them funny, much less mean-funny. Why not? Like any other disaster, media censorship of satire — especially graphic satire — in the U.S. is caused by several contributing factors. Most media outlets are owned by corporations,

not private owners. Publicly traded companies are risk-averse. Executives prefer to publish boring/ safe content that won’t generate complaints from advertisers or shareholders, much less force them to hire extra security guards. Half a century ago, many editors had working-class backgrounds and rose through the ranks from the bottom. Now they’re graduates of pricey graduate university journalism programs that don’t offer scholarships — and don’t teach a single class about comics, cartoons, humor or graphic art. It takes an unusually curious editor to make the effort to educate himself or herself about political cartoons. Corporate journalism executives view cartoons as frivolous, less serious than “real” commentary like columns or editorials. Unfortunately, some editorial cartoonists make this problem worse by drawing silly gags about current events (as opposed to trenchant attacks on the powers that be) because they’ve seen their blandest work win Pulitzers and coveted spots in the major weekend cartoon “roundups.” When asked to cut their budget, editors often look at their cartoonist first. There is still powerful political cartooning online. Ironically, the Internet contributes to the death of satire in America by sating the demand for hard-hitting political art. Before the Web, if a paper canceled my cartoons they would receive angry letters from my fans. Now my readers find me online — but the Internet pays pennies on the print dollar. I’m stubbornly hanging on, but many talented cartoonists, especially the young, won’t work for free. It’s not that media organizations are broke. Far from it. Many are profitable. American newspapers and magazines employ tens of thousands of writers — they just don’t want anyone writing or drawing anything that questions the status quo, especially not in a form as powerful as political cartooning. The next time you hear editors pretending to stand up for freedom of expression, ask them if they employ a cartoonist. Rall’s next book is “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan.” January 22, 2015


Foes and fans of airbnb share views at hearing BY LINCOLN ANDERSON



City Council hearing Tuesday on illegal apartment rentals in New York City was dominated by debate about airbnb, the exploding online “home-sharing” operation. Titled “Short-term Rentals: Stimulating the Economy or Destabilizing Neighborhoods?” the hearing was led by Councilmember Jumaane Williams, chairperson of the Housing and Buildings Committee. The crowd packing the City Council Chambers included tenants and tenant advocates opposed to airbnb, as well as others who praised the easy financial pickings of renting out their places to perfect strangers, which can pay for a vacation, for example, or just supplement one’s income. A fast-growing global phenomenon, airbnb’s biggest and most lucrative market is reportedly New York City. Councilmembers heard overwhelming complaints about how airbnb is helping deplete the city’s affordable housing stock, while also creating building-wide security, safety and nuisance issues. Meanwhile, many noted, the city’s enforcement unit for dealing with the problem of illegal rentals is tiny and can’t keep up with the mushrooming underground industry. “Over the past five years,” Councilmember Helen Rosenthal said, “airbnb rentals grew from 900 to 21,000, and according to the New York State attorney general, 72 percent of these units are illegal. Until short-term rental platforms accept responsibility for their users who profit from illegal rentals, we have to equip the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to shut them down, one by one.” Assemblymember Richard Gottfried sponsored the 2010 Illegal Hotel Law that forbids renting out apartments for less than 30 days at a time. “For years, tenants have been fighting to rid our city of illegal hotels,”

Supporters of airbnb, outside City Hall before the hearing, top, and opponents, holding yellow signs, inside the hearing, above.

Gottfried said. “Now companies like airbnb are using their hotel-brokerage services to promote illegal hotel use. Their misleading propaganda tries to paper over the fire and safety violations, harassment of tenants and loss of needed housing that comes with illegal hotels. We want to protect the Illegal Hotel Law and get increased enforcement of the law, and more resources and strong penalties for vio-

lating the law. Illegal hotels are bad for New York, bad for tourists and bad for housing.” Added state Senator Brad Hoylman, “Illegal hotels give unscrupulous landlords an incentive to drive up apartment prices and drive out longtime residents, reducing our city’s already-limited affordable housing stock. According to data released by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman,

my district has one of the highest concentrations of illegal hotels in the city, and I applaud my colleagues at both the state and local level who are working to ensure that our fire, building safety and zoning laws are enforced.” Meanwhile, in his testimony, David Hantman, airbnb’s head of global public policy, said that, in fact, airbnb now has more than 25,000 “hosts” in New York City, serving hundreds of thousands of users. “More than 26 million people have now stayed in an airbnb listing around the world,” he said. “And we know from experience here and around the globe that when you learn more about airbnb and our amazing community of hosts, you see how we make cities even better places to visit and call home. “That is why Amsterdam, Hamburg, San Jose, Portugal, San Francisco, Portland and Paris have all passed new laws within the last year to clear the path for renting out one’s own home. “New York policymakers shouldn’t be left behind or advocate against their own citizens who depend on home-sharing to pay their bills,” Hantman urged. “We can protect regular New Yorkers who are sharing their home and still prohibit and punish illegal hotels. “A vast majority of New Yorkers already believe that residents should be able to rent out their own homes once in awhile.” Hantman claimed that most of airbnb’s hosts — about 90 percent — “simply rent out their own homes once in awhile. The typical host in New York might rent out their home for a few days when away on vacation, or maybe a couple of weeks a year for a work trip,” he asserted. But others have been found to be stockpiling and renting out multiple units. Tenant advocates have been warning that airbnb has been spending millions of dollars to lobby Albany legislators to change the law to allow the booming business to operate legally.

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January 22, 2015

Passion and partnership at Three Rooms Press In print and on stage, local publisher has global reach BY PUMA PERL (



met Kat Georges and Peter Carlaftes for the first time at the HOWL Festival in Tompkins Square Park, close to ten years ago. They were manning their Three Rooms Press table, an operation that they co-founded in 1993 whose name references a theme (the parameters that one needs to get the job done) of Harold Pinter’s play “The Homecoming.” One may also look at the three rooms as the ego, id and superego, as per Peter. Their warmth and friendliness immediately engaged me and they greeted me as a dear friend every time I ran into them, which was, literally, everywhere that I went. The Small Press Book Fair, the Bowery Poetry Club, galleries, arts events — they were there. I had recently returned to the poetry scene after a long hiatus and their openhearted acceptance and enthusiasm encouraged me to stick around. These days, running into them regularly might entail a passport and a lot of airplane miles, as they have expanded globally, hosting cultural and literary events all over the world while maintaining their New York City base, and continuing their monthly series at the Cornelia Street Cafe, called, appropriately, “The Monthly.” Three Rooms Press continues to publish newly emerging writers as well as established artists, including Gerard Malanga, Israel Horovitz and Mike Watt (best known as the bassist for the Minutemen and the reunited Stooges). When his volume of poems and photos,

Three Rooms Press founders Kat Georges and Peter Carlaftes, in the Paris studio of Susan Shup.

“Mike Watt: On and Off Bass” was released, it resulted in one of the most epic blowouts of a book party I have ever attended. In addition to the usual book signing and Q&A, he played an intense eighteen-minute set of Stooges songs with his pals J Mascis and Murph, and including special guests such as Thurston Moore. Upcoming Three Rooms Press

releases include April 28’s “Dark City Lights,” an anthology of New York stories edited by the esteemed crime master, Lawrence Block, and “Moon Poem” (Fall, 2015), a collection of forty years of memories by Living Theater founder Judith Malina. In June, the eighth annual (and first color) edition of “Maintenant: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art” hits the

stands, accompanied by a series of surreal celebrations and readings. The journal is archived in the Museum of Modern Art and includes a legendary list of American and international writers and artists (including Charles Plymell, Jerome Rothenberg, Philip Meersman, William Burroughs and Puma Perl). THREE ROOMS, continued on p.16 January 22, 2015


‘Burroughs 101’ at Feb. 6 Three Rooms reading THREE ROOMS, continued from p. 15


Yes, I just mentioned myself. That is because I sometimes cannot believe my good fortune in having the opportunity to share a stage and pages with my literary idols. I am able to maintain my cool around rock stars, but I am an absolute geek around the writers I most admire. I stuttered and babbled when I asked Lawrence Block to sign “Have a NYC,” a Three Rooms Press short story collection in which we were both published. Kim Addonizio, one of my favorite living writers, was on the roster at January 2’s annual Charles Bukowski Memorial event, at which I also read. I once saw her perform, then gave her one of my books after I finished the stammering thing — and now, I’ve participated in an event with her. Like I said, I’m a total geek — the type of geek that hugged a signed copy of Gerard Malanga’s newest volume, “Malanga Chasing Vallejo.” The work is a translation of eighty-two of Cesar Vallejo’s poems, revealing a mysterious, spiritual connection between the two. It is so named because of the many years that Malanga had yearned to find a home for this vision. Several days after the book release party, which was held at Le Poisson Rouge, I attended a screening of previously unseen Andy Warhol films at BAM. Onscreen, a young, beautiful Malanga sits on a couch with Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso and others, all of whom were punching and tickling him. In another filmstrip, he lies on the floor as Mary Woronov grinds her stiletto heel into his neck. And I had just met and been enchanted by the recital from this man, who remains as beautiful as ever. I am the luckiest geek ever. Kat and Peter make their creative partnerships look easy, and they bring people together in a natural and unforced way. When you work with Three Rooms Press in any capacity you are family, and family goes out to one of their favorite West Village haunts after readings — and since everyone is family, the after parties are sometimes as good as the real events. They are born to be the mayors of the neighborhood, bringing people together to break bread and get drunk, hosting out of town visiting artists, greeting every restaurant owner, waiter and bartender by name. Their engaging spirit, coupled with a quality press and a growing staff, continues to attract

Three Rooms Press continues to publish newly emerging writers as well as established artists, including Gerard Malanga (seen here, at Le Poisson Rouge).

a wide and disparate group of artists and friends from all walks of life. Peter, a Bronx boy whose love for the Yankees is high art, and Kat, a Southern California girl with roots in the punk and hardcore scenes, first laid eyes on each other in a San Francisco bar called the Rite Spot, where they were sitting at opposite ends editing their poetry. “Simultaneous combustion!” Peter called it, describing their initial meeting and the collaborations that quickly followed. “Our motto,” he added, “was ‘Don’t Think,’ because as soon as you think, you are you in the world, and there is no escape. That’s what we learned to do in the

theater — provide escape, and maybe because of that, there was no need to escape each other.” For several years, they lived in a tiny loft space above a stage where they each produced fifteen plays. With the first dot-com boom, the rent quintupled, and, in 2003, they made the move to New York City, arriving the day after Thanksgiving and staying at the Edison Hotel. Once they were settled, Three Rooms Press, still a humble THREE ROOMS, continued on p.17


Bassist Mike Watt (right) at the book release party for his collection of poetry and photographs (“On and Off Bass”). At left, poet David Lawton.


January 22, 2015

Creativity and combustion THREE ROOMS, continued from p. 16

chapbook venture, began to grow. In 2009, they published their first perfect bound poetry collection, and, in 2010, began their foray into the world of fiction and nonfiction. The press is now distributed nationally and internationally by PGW/ Perseus. Recent international activities include hosting a book launch in Corsica, participating in the Berlin performance art festival, CUT, hosting a Dada festival in Paris, as well as a three-day International Festival of Underground Poetry in Brussels. Not bad for what started as a two-person operation living and working over a theater and using the stage as a kitchen, since their quarters did not include one. Prior to sitting down for a chat with Kat and Peter, I emailed them five questions so I would have some additional background information. They decided to play an updated version of “The Newlywed Game” and answer separately, not revealing their responses to one another until the day of our meeting. None of us were surprised that their replies not only mirrored, but also en-

hanced one another, as they seem to do in life. There was one variation. In one of my queries, I asked about what their dream show would be. Peter replied, “The dream would be to keep going, to keep putting out meaningful work to the world.” Kat wrote, “Iggy Pop and David Bowie, performing side by side after a launch of books on Three Rooms Press.” I reminded Peter that he had not completely answered the question. He paused for thirty seconds. “Iggy Pop!” he yelled, suggesting to me that this dream may, in the future, be realized, and forcing me to admit that I may have lied a little about my extreme cool around rock stars. The next Three Room Press “Monthly” will take place at 6 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 6, at the Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia St., west of 6th Ave., off Bleecker). “Burroughs 101” is an informative, inspirational exploration into the mind and writings of William S. Burroughs with Anne Waldman, Penny Arcade, Burroughs publisher Jan Herman and others in TRP’s second annual WSB memorial reading. Admission is $12, and includes one drink. Peter Carlaftes’ new book, “TE-

ATROPHY: Three More Plays,” will launch on Mon., Feb. 23, with a performance of his play, “ANTI,” at Barrow Street Theater (27 Barrow St., at 7th Ave., South of Christopher St.). Showtime is 7 p.m. (free admission). Keep up with TRP through their website: Puma Perl and Friends will join a special Valentine’s Day show on Sat., Feb. 14, at Beast of Bourbon (710 Myr-

tle Ave., Brooklyn, btw. Spencer & Walworth Sts.). Monica Passin (L’il Mo), with special guest Johnny Jake, will open the show at 7:30 p.m. and the Love Pirates will follow Puma Perl at 11. No cover or admission, great BBQ and a full bar, including over 100 kinds of bourbon. This is a Bicycle Joe Low Fi Sound and Vision Production. More information about Puma Perl can be found at


Ryan Buynak, at Cornelia Street Cafe, taking part in Three Rooms Press’ “Prose! Poetry! Party! 2!” event.


Jane LeCroy, at a Three Rooms Press installment of “The Monthly.”

January 22, 2015





Former fifth-grade classmates reunite, in an actual East Village apartment. The immersive, interaction-optional party play happens through Feb. 8, at a location revealed only to ticket buyers.



Created in collaboration with the original 2013 cast — five of whom got back together for this current production — this self-professed “party play” has its own tale to tell about the reunion of a once-tight ensemble. “When you’re in fifth grade, childhood becomes more complicated,” says playwright Mariah MacCarthy, who grafts that loss-of-innocence theme onto a group of thirtysomething former school chums who assemble in an East Village apartment for an evening of revelations, romance and reassessment. With bellies warmed by chili and inhibitions lowered by beer, this immersive class reunion lets you wander the apartment, soak in the proceedings and participate according to your personal comfort level (a red name tag means “Don’t talk to me,” while a green one gives the “go” signal for interaction). Emotionally epic and physically intimate (only 15 audience members at each performance), this unabashed display of adults reverting to their childhood (and childish!) selves doesn’t shy away from conflict — but knows when to call a time out and take an awesome 90s music dance break. Performances through Feb. 8. Thurs.– Sun. at 8 p.m. in an East Village apartment (exact location and directions provided upon ticket purchase). For reservations ($18), visit For info on the play, visit

Wherefore art thou? Indoors, for a change, when Shakespeare in the Square brings its “Romeo and Juliet” to The Gym at Judson.



January 22, 2015


Founded in 2010 by NYU Tisch School of the Arts freshmen Dan Hasse and Rose Bochner, Shakespeare in the Square has grown by leaps and bounds — while never straying far from their academic stomping grounds or the original Elizabethan staging practices that typify this youthful ensemble’s back-to-basics approach. “Our hope is to blow the dust of Shakespeare’s plays and revive the bear-baiting, beer-drinking rowdiness of Elizabethan theatre,” says Hasse, whose company makes their Off-Broadway debut at The Gym at Judson. Equally auspicious is the fact that they’ll be indoors this time (Washington Square

Park has provided a venue four years running, and they’ll be back when the weather improves). Based on text from the 1623 First Folio collection of Shakespeare plays, this fast and accessible production (“The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet”) has its small company of four men and one woman interacting with some of the audience members. Through Feb. 8. Tues., Thurs., Sat. & Sun. at 8 p.m. Fri. at 7 p.m. & 10 p.m., with matinees every Sun. at 2 p.m. $15 student matinees on Mon., Jan. 26 & Feb. 2 at 10:30 a.m. At The Gym at Judson (243 Thompson St. | btw. South Washington Square & 3rd St.). Tickets: $45. For $75, seating up front gets you one drink and the opportunity to interact with the characters. Reservations at

A karaoke bar is your fourth and final stop, when the audience joins a cast of intersecting characters at “The Golden Toad.”

Now in its 40th year — having created over 50 original works while making stops at stalwart spaces including PS122, Theater for the New City, Dance Theater Workshop, The Ohio Theater, The Flea Theater and HERE Arts Center — Talking Band can hardly be accused of failing in their commitment to “radical collaboration and a fusion of diverse theatrical styles and perspectives.” If only the same confident sense of self could be said for the shifting, searching characters who populate “The Golden Toad.” Asking “Where is the ‘real’ person to be found in the ebb and flow of identity?” more out of curiosity than the need for a definitive answer, “Toad” unifies site-specific works undertaken over the past few years: at a townhouse garden in downtown Brooklyn, on a bus tour of the New Jersey Meadowlands, and in a pop-up thrift store. This La MaMa production moves its audience through reimagined versions of those locations — then concludes at the titular Golden Toad karaoke bar, where all the characters’ lives finally intersect for an evening of revelation and transformation. Jan. 23–Feb. 7, at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4th St. | btw. Bowery & 2nd Ave.). Jan. 23, 26, 28, 29, 30 & Feb. 4–6 at 7 p.m. Jan. 24, 31 & Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. Jan. 25 & Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. Additional Mon. performance, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets: $25 ($20 for students & seniors). Reservations: call 646-430-5374 or visit For artist info, visit

Buhmann on Art GROUP EXHIBITION “20in15” Through February 28 At Woodward Gallery 133 Eldridge St. btw. Broome & Delancey Sts. Tues.–Sat., 11a.m.–6 p.m. Sun., 12–5p.m. and by private appointment Call 212-966-3411 or visit


Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk: “A Gift of Wind to Amuse and Mystify” (2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 11 x 14 inches; 27.9 x 35.6 cm | Signed on verso | Framed).

Cycle: “Rex vs. Rex” (2013 | Acrylic on canvas | 48 x 48 inches; 121.92 x 121.92 cm | Signed on verso).





s if to advocate a year of rich diversity ahead, this eclectic group show brings together 20 contemporary artists. Here, subjects vary as much as the styles in which they are depicted, covering figurative, abstract and some nuances in-between. While the sculptural installation by Gabriel Specter, Richard Hambleton’s figurative and yet Franz Kline-inspired “Dancing Shadowman” and Deborah Claxton’s photographic images might have little in common, they gain by playing against each other candidly. It is this contextual contrast that allows “20in15” to slowly gather steam. While each of the artists represents a certain aesthetic and medium, they share the roles of commentators and explorers of their time. Interestingly, Susan Breen, Thomas Buildmore, Hiro Ichikawa and Mark Mastroianni, among others, comment on today’s world by dipping into various references to the past. Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk’s remarkable composition “A Gift of Wind to Amuse and Mystify” — which depicts an array of perhaps identical female figures flowing freely in space — alludes to the Surrealist fantasies of Leonora Carrington. Cycle’s circular rendition of a Tyrannosaurus rex chasing, and being chased by, a wolf offers an unusual blend of street art, Native American symbolism and pop. By allowing for such unpredictable discoveries, “20in15” guarantees a playful and refreshingly not self-important slice of the Downtown New York art world of 2015.

Stickman: “Threaded” (2014 | Acrylic on plexiglass | 27 x 15 inches; 68.58 x 38.1 cm).

January 22, 2015


When police and protesters clashed on the L.E.S.; CLASH, continued from p. 1


January 22, 2015


seems that it is time to look at police procedures and education. Beginning on the night of Aug. 6, 1988, there was a protest over a curfew in Tompkins Square Park that resulted in what was subsequently dubbed a police riot. The previous week, the cops in the park had been involved in what they perceived to have been a compromised situation with some local anarchists. The police felt they needed to instill some respect for authority, so they convinced the community board to set a curfew on Tompkins Square Park, the only park in the city without a curfew. The cops made a deal with the homeless and the other late-night park hang arounds that they could stay in Tompkins as long as they kept away from the front section of the park, by the Avenue A and St. Mark’s Place entrance. Within minutes, the park’s front section was cleared and the conflict began to get out of hand. The angry police charged out of the park and into the streets, indiscriminately attacking anyone in their path, beating and shoving those who happened to have the misfortune to be on the streets. Eventually, the police settled on Avenue A and E. Sixth St. At least that is the location where I spent the rest of the night with Elsa. At 6 a.m. the curfew was over, the park was back open, and Elsa and I ended up with a 3-hour-and-33-minute videotape of the night’s goings-on. The tape exposed much police misconduct. There were more than 125 complaints related to police violence, and numerous residents — most of them unrelated to the protest — ended up in the hospital. These people had just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. The evidence on the tape led to six cops being criminally indicted, the Ninth Precinct captain moving out of the precinct, cops fired. But the most damning detail was the part of the tape where a commanding officer was attempting to exercise some control over the situation. The lower-ranking cops, however, paid no attention and took off chasing protesters. There was no respect for authority or the chain of command. The tape was a breakthrough in the use of the new technology, Civilian Journalism, the community’s defense against police misconduct. However, it sent me into 20 years worth of criminal, civil and departmental court battles, numerous arrests, and an inside look and education into the inner workings of the judicial system.

Protesters took over Avenue A — as they often did — in 1991.

It also was the beginning of a period of four solid years worth of protests, a number of riots, hundreds of arrests, and the reorganizing of the N.Y.P.D. In addition to my record of the events, there was another authoritative 20-minute videotape taken that night by Paul Garrin. In short, the Lower East Side became a hands-on training ground for the N.Y.P.D. On Aug. 6, 1988, cops on horses, in helicopters, along with several hundred riot police and a command center could not close a 10.5-acre park on the L.E.S. But by 1992, the police could control the streets. In 2001, the cops, in a couple of hours, were able to shut down three airports, and all the bridges, tunnels, ferries, railways, subways, buses and street traffic. Early on, the focus of the protests was on police brutality, the ineffective Civilian Complaint Review Board (C.C.R.B.), the effort to impose a park curfew, the homeless crisis, the closing of the park, the tearing down of the park’s band shell, the housing crisis, squat evictions and the encroaching gentrification that was starting to take over the neighborhood. In the beginning, it was ranking cops, like Captain Fry, pushing the blue shirts with his nightstick, screaming, “Form a line, form a line.” It was not unusual for a protest to go on for more than a day. For the cops, it was an overtime bonanza. During that time, a cop retired at his last year’s salary. It was possible to retire at double salary. For the smart

In a grab from Clayton Patterson’s 1988 Tompkins Square Park riot videotape, Ken Fish is shown bloodied after being struck by police. A New York Times article on the riot reported that Fish, 29, was a bystander who had been clubbed by police and needed 44 stitches to close a 3-inch gash in his forehead.

commander, it became a golden ladder moving up the chain of command. Several chiefs of police came out of the struggle, including Hoehl, Julian, Gelphan and Esposito. Esposito boasted that he would never have become a chief it had not been for the Tompkins Square Park conflicts. Dinkins became mayor and the administration focused on reorganizing the Police Department. Many older cops retired, and a new crop of younger cops was hired. The new Mollen Commission cleaned out a number of cops involved in the illegal drug business and started to

centralize the department. The protesters could rule the L.E.S. streets until 1992. The police practiced different forms of organizing, including putting one sergeant in charge of six cops. They brought in scooters, tried a wedge formation, and after practice, practice, practice, by 1992 they gained control of the streets. If a protester stepped into the street, he would be arrested. The Police Riot was at the end of Koch’s third term. The department’s reorganization was under Dinkins. Giuliani inherited a well-organized, razor-sharp, paramilitary Police Department. Giuliani brought in Bratton as his police commissioner. Bratton partnered with the transit cop Jack Maple, and they changed the streets of New York City, probably forever. Bratton and Maple were influenced by the concept Safe Streets, which allowed police to believe that if they concentrated on petty crime, the number of more serious crimes would be cut. If the police could stop people from hanging out on street corners, in front of bodegas and outside the projects, that would thwart the opportunities of street criminal activity and would help bring order to a community. Bratton’s zero-tolerance policy initiated programs like stop-and-frisk. At the same time, Bratton worked on making the department more ethically diverse. Bratton was as hard on the precinct commanders as he was on CLASH, continued on p. 21

The cops won, but what were the lessons learned? CLASH, continued from p. 20


those residents who were active in the inner-city street culture. He was influenced by a new community police management philosophy called Comp Stat — an analysis of computer statistics on crime for each precinct. A main focus of CompStat was holding commanders accountable for any rise in crime in their precincts. Crime took a dramatic downturn, and Bratton became the darling of mainstream America, even making the cover of TIME magazine — though he was not such a hero to many in the inner-city minority community. But in a universe where Giuliani had to be the center of attention, Bratton’s success became his downfall, and soon he was pushed out the door. Ghosts from the past can reappear. Bratton comes back as de Blasio’s police commissioner, and ex-Mayor Giuliani becomes an expert commentator for Fox TV. Giuliani’s tendency is to find fault in most black leaders — including President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Al Sharpton — and talk about family values. Yet, there is no question that Giuliani ended all the costly squat-eviction protests on the L.E.S. the day he made the remaining buildings legal, and the squatters became property owners. During the L.E.S. years of turmoil, the cops who became police chiefs had the ability and the expertise to deal with both the cops and the protesters, as well as, to appease City Hall. This was a delicate balance. The chief had to keep a close rein on the cops, as there were some who had the tendency to take the law into their own hands, with the belief that they had the right to deal out justice by inflicting severe punishment with the use of their nightstick. If a commander was too aggressive and antagonistic toward the protesters, the end result could be a riot, or at the very least, injured protesters or cops, and a conflict that could go on for a long period of time. On the other hand, to maintain respect and to have the confidence of the rank-and-file cops, the commander could not be perceived as being too passive or compromising in any way. Police chiefs also had to evaluate whether the arrest was worth clogging the criminal courts or if a ticket would suffice. It was all about the bottom line. There were many times during the years of protests when the ten-

Clayton Patterson being swarmed and arrested by plainclothes police officers. For years after his infamous riot videotape, Patterson was a marked man as far as the police were concerned.

sions between the protesters and the cops were high. But never, from what I am aware of, did anyone intentionally try to maim a cop. There were certainly no plots to kill a cop. Considering how many battles were fought, there were few permanent injuries on either side of the conflict. There is no question that there was hardcore resistance on both fronts, just as each side had their own radicals. The radical protesters did random acts of vandalism, broke windows, set fires on the street and burned down a homeless camp before it was evicted. They spray-painted resistance graffiti, threw bottles, flattened a few tires, but did not use Molotov cocktails, or any kind of deadly force. The radical cops would pepper-spray protesters in the eyes, whack people on the head with their nightsticks. They would also target individuals by making a questionable arrest and trump up the charges. And after an arrest, cops would bend the handcuffs, which caused severe pain, or tighten the handcuffs to the point of causing the hands to go numb. Another trick was they would make up a false complaint, go to an approachable judge, and get a search warrant. Both sides made verbal threats to each other. As time went on, though, the equation changed and there is no question that the police had more power. The recent vitriolic rhetoric by Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — blaming the mayor, civil rights leaders and protesters for contributing to the killing of the two cops — is using a terrible tragedy for political grandstanding. Perhaps he is mak-

ing a play for his next election, or he is losing control. The cops turning their backs on the mayor — their boss, our elected official — is disregarding the will of the people, and is not only disrespectful but dangerous. I understand why white Americans — especially white cops — dislike Al Sharpton. He has the ability both to hold the system accountable and to bring mass public attention to a questionable death of a black person at the hands of the police. But he never calls for violence. Protests and free speech are protected under the Constitution. De Blasio, as a mayor of all of the people, was trying to be protect the rights of the protesters to express their point of view, and to give the cops enough authority to take control if a situation got out of hand, which I am sure the N.Y.P.D. can do. Too much resistance can incite violence and unnecessary hostility. Most protests will remain peaceful and “walk themselves out.” My experience taught me that the masses just want a way to express their outrage, not be violent. If you stop the protest march from crossing a bridge, the mass blockage stops traffic. If they march across the bridge, the inconvenience passes with the march. They need an end goal where they can hold a protest rally. The solution Lynch is suggesting — to give the police the ultimate authority — would mean we are living in a police state. And what is the problem with de Blasio, even as mayor, telling his children that because they are black, it can mean dealing with a different set of rules? No, I do not believe most cops are racist. The system is set up to be un-

equal. The divisions are wide. It took me a few years of living in a drug-saturated community to get an inside look at who sells drugs, who buys drugs, who uses drugs, the institutional racial discrimination. Starting with Operation Pressure Point in 1984, hundreds of people involved in the illegal drug business went to jail — and with the Rockefeller Drug Laws, it was not unheard of to get a sentence of 20 years or more. Over the years, hundreds of people involved in the drug trade were incarcerated. That is the law. But what the law doesn’t explain is why most of the people in jail are black and Hispanic. The majority of people coming into our community to buy drugs were white, often from New Jersey. It is a common practice for a buyer to be supplying more than just him- or herself. After President Reagan was elected, it was no secret: It was snowing cocaine on Wall St. Back then, there was all the glamour connected to cocaine — using hundred-dollar bills or specially designed gold spoons to sniff the powder, the keychain ornaments to hold your coke, the razorblade jewelry. The out-of-control celebrity types were being habitually arrested and going to rehab, and there were the oft-told public tales of rock’n’rollers’ use of illegal drugs, the Mollen Commission’s findings exposing the drug-related corruption in the Police Department, and on and on. Yet, the prison system does not reflect this difference. Illegal drugs are everywhere. Yet the ones ending up in jail are black or Hispanic. Just as the majority of individuals who end up dead in a situation involving the police are black men. We are in self-denial if we cannot see this point. We need an Al Sharpton to keep us aware of what is going on. Let the courts settle the matter. I believe the majority of New Yorkers — certainly including the mayor, Al Sharpton and most of the protesters — are outraged two police officers were assassinated. It is time for a little restraint and to start to actually deal with our social problems before things spin completely out of control. There have to be splits in the Police Department as the rhetoric starts to become so divisive. In the end, the police proved that by having a disciplined force, competent experienced leaders, using standard police procedure, they could control the streets. I am not sure how things got so out of control that the police needed to become so militarized. How did the police become so afraid of the citizens they are paid to protect? January 22, 2015



January 22, 2015

Feeling quite chipper; Mulch ado about old trees


New Yorkers celebrated the 19th annual MulchFest last weekend by recycling their Christmas trees at more than 80 locations citywide. The chipped trees become compost that will nourish parks, gardens and woodsy public areas around the city. At left, Mitchell Silver, the Parks Department’s commissioner, showed how it’s done as he mulched the program’s first trees this year on Thurs., Jan. 8, in Tompkins Square Park. Participants were invited to take a free bag of mulch home. In all, more than 30,000 trees were recycled. In a statement, Mayor de Blaiso said, “This city is committed to being the greenest big city in the world, and events like MulchFest are an important step toward achieving this critical goal.”

Bias charge against Li ‘unsubstantiated’: B.P. C.B. 3, continued from p. 7

recommended candidates for last June’s board elections, in which Li was re-elected C.B. 3 chairperson] and three other African-Americans being appointed to leadership positions.” Indeed, in November, Alysha Lewis-Coleman was appointed the second vice chairperson of the C.B. 3 Executive Committee, while Vaylateena Jones was named chairperson of the Health, Seniors and Human Services Committee, and Lisa Burriss was tapped to chair the newly formed Public Housing Subcommittee. Harrington added, “I’m also very

hopeful because the borough president has created so many opportunities for community board members — and their staff — to take Leadership in Diversity and E.E.O. training.” As she spoke, Harrington noticeably emphasized the word “staff.” All city employees — including community board staff — must take E.E.O. training, and board staff must also take Leadership in Diversity training, according to Brewer’s office. As opposed to paid community board staff, such as a district manager, community board members — including board chairpersons — are not city employees but volunteers. However, Caras said, “We’re high-

ly encouraging all community board members to participate [in E.E.O. training] as well.” Similarly, Bartlett said, “the new thing” being pushed by Brewer is that community board members are being urged to take an E.E.O. and Leadership in Diversity “training series.” These sessions are relatively brief, done over a few days. Asked if one of the recommended “remedial actions” in the letter sent to her at the investigation’s conclusion was that she undergo E.E.O. standard non-discrimination training, Li told The Villager, “I cannot speak to the Manhattan borough president’s investigation or its results. The Man-

hattan borough president’s office encouraged all board chairpersons and board members to attend both the E.E.O. training, as well as the Leadership in Diversity training. Many C.B. 3 board members attended those trainings, myself included.” She added, “I continue to make leadership appointments based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to knowledge related to committee area, ability to work well with others, and diversity in representation.” Stetzer, when asked if the report recommended that she, too, take E.E.O. training, responded, “Somebody told you wrong.” January 22, 2015


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January 22, 2015

Profile for Schneps Media