The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
January 22, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 34
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
Haiti, five years later: Piles of rubble, politics and yet...perseverance BY TEQUILA MINSKY
n the morning of Mon., Jan. 12, Haitian government officials, foreign ambassadors and top police officials commemorated the fiveyear anniversary of the Haitian earthquake at the site where thousands had been buried in a mass grave near
Titanyen, 18 miles north of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake killed 230,000 people and injured thousands more. Following speakers from Haiti’s Catholic, Protestant and Vodou religious communities, President Michel Martelly spoke. During the proceedings, covered extensively by Haitian media, HAITI, continued on p. 6
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
C.B. 3, continued on p. 12
Outside the commemoration ceremony for Haitian earthquake victims, a pro-Martelly demonstrator held up a framed election poster. Others protested against the president.
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. 10
Streit’s matzo to exodus from L.E.S...............page 4 Police Blotter: Gunfire rocks Loisaida...........page 8 Foes, fans share views on airbnb..................page 13 “20in15” is a beast of a show.......page 21
PHOTO BY LIZA BEAR
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crats, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and Stonewall Democrats, and any interested elected officials (including state Senators Daniel Squadron and Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Councilmembers Corey Johnson and Margaret Chin) will be able to screen applicants on Sat., March 6, Schwartz tells us. The four district leaders will then make the choice after hearing all the input. Within the first few days of word being out that the post is open, two men have applied, Chelsea activist Deley Gazanelli and Dennis Gault, a teacher and U.F.T. chapter chairperson and member of Community Board 1. Meanwhile, both Scott and Schwartz expect to be challenged for district leader — which is also an unsalaried position — in September.
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THE POST-SCHULKIN SHUFFLE: In local political news, Alan Schulkin has stepped down as Democratic state committeeman for the 66th Assembly District, which covers the Lower West Side from 14th St. to Tribeca. The area’s four district leaders (Arthur Schwartz, Keen Berger, John Scott and Jeanne Grillo) have announced an open process to fill the unsalaried position, which is “probably a first,” according to Schwartz. He tells us that any male interested in applying should contact him at aschwartz@afjlaw. com and he will be sent an application. The four district leaders, plus the presidents of Village Reform Democratic Club, Village Independent Democrats, Downtown Independent Democrats, Downtown Progressive Democrats, Lower Manhattan Demo-
B BIIS STTR RO O ******
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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Illegal hotel law inhospitable to B&B’s, their operators say BY HANA RASKIN
his past fall, East Village Bed & Coffee, a bed-and-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 whitenoise 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-and-breakfasts 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 place to visit for may people, she could provide an alternative by offering visitors “warm, friendly hospitality and a beautifully decorated place.” In 2011, Milando founded Short Term Alternatives for You NYC (StayNYC) in response to the increasing crackdown against the city’s bed-and-breakfasts. TheVillager.com
StayNYC members — mostly minority- or women-owned businesses — are all licensed New York City “small-facility operators.” They collect and pay the New York City hotel tax, occupancy tax, city and state sales tax, and operate in small buildings that are exclusively used as bed-and-breakfasts, with less than 10 rooms. According to StayNYC, its members are seeking an exemption to the law to allow “a specific class of small-facilities operators in New York City to remain accepted, legal, taxpaying small businesses.” However, while many legislators seem to agree 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 less visible, or changed how they operate in order to avoid fines and violations,” she said. Rather than offer hope, Bill de Blasio’s becoming mayor meant a significant administration change, with many supporters in the Bloomberg administration with whom StayNYC had developed relationships moving on to other jobs. “In many ways, we had to start over,” Milando said. Though StayNYC has lost many of its members, Milando and the B&B operators are fighting on. They continue to meet with Department of Buildings officials and local legislators to explain the law’s crushing impact on them. StayNYC has an online petition — addressed to the state Senate and Assembly and Governor Cuomo — urging that New York City B&B’s be allowed to keep operating. The petition can be found at http:// www.staynyc.org/getinvolved.htm .
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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 the 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 TheVillager.com
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 finally undergoes the inevitable, said Gross. “To hang on here just for the sake of hanging on doesn’t make sense,” he said.
After the matzo are baked, they are put into baskets that carry them through the factory.
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Haiti, still rebuilding five years after the killer HAITI, continued from p. 1
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Martelly reminded the public how, in the earthquake’s immediate aftermath, everyone had come together; there was no Lavalas or Makout (political affiliations) or black or white; Haitians, sometimes using nothing but bare hands and digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings, helped “a neighbor, a colleague, someone whom we had never met before.” Erol Josue, a Vodou priest, called on all to reflect on the country as he recounted its history. Vodou had been blamed for the earthquake. He recalled that, in fact, it was Vodou that had set in motion the revolution. “Give Haiti a chance. Put aside all of your personal problems,’’ he said. “We lost a lot of people, even people who came to visit us…we lost hope.” Following remarks, the president and his wife placed wreaths on a memorial that had been constructed just days before. Outside the ceremony, two small groups of Haitians demonstrated for and against the current government. Other intimate local commemorations took place on Jan. 12, including one held at a memorial area at the environmental education center Martissant Park. A Mass took place at a church adjacent to the main cathedral that collapsed during the earthquake. There was an observance at the Bureau of Ethnology where Vodou priestesses performed a ceremony to bless those killed. Passing the five-year mark begs the question: How is the recovery going? Has there been progress?
At the commemoration, Haitian President Michel Martelly recalled how the country came together after the massive disaster.
nate Delmas, a major artery. Another points out the difficulty of life in nearby neighborhoods. A young Haitian media professional commented how Delmas is being improved: “They’re building an expressway.” An overpass at one of the boulevard’s most congested intersections is under construction, an infrastructure improvement by the Department of Public Works. Another resident mentioned improvements like new hospital construction, giving the example of the showcase “stateof-the-art hospital” built with international aid by Partners in Health in the town of Mirelbelais. Traveling around Port-au-Prince one can see a few construction cranes, a new sight in this city, where before the earthquake there was only one building higher than four stories. The multistory Ministry of Trade building is under construction. Not far from that building site, fronting the grounds of the damaged French Embassy on Rue Five years later, a destroyed theater in downtown Port-au-Prince still awaits reconstruction. Capois, a billboard
January 22, 2015
“Some, not enough,” responded sociologist Claude Roumain. In the city center and along major roads, long, painted metal barrier fences cover vacant blocks where tons of rubble has been removed. But, there are still the scarred remains of collapsed private structures — homes, clinics or schools throughout Port-au-Prince. Rubble removal is costly. How Haiti is doing is in the eye of the beholder. One Haitian resident talks about the solar street lamps that illumi-
displays the rendering for the new modern embassy. Businessman Gilbert Assad observed that security is better; there are less kidnappings. Another Haitian resident didn’t disagree but added the caveat, “Don’t walk around at night!” Gilbert also noted that there’s more state investment in the tourism industry — particularly the (hotly debated) development of Isle la Vache, a luxury tourist destination, including an international airport. “They’re building a port to accommodate construction equipment and fuel for the planes,” he added. Gilbert said he’s witnessed technical assistance for the fishermen of the island. The public parks and plazas that served as a refuge for tens of thousands in the first years after the earthquake have been returned to their use as recreational and public space. People no longer live there. But, more than 80,000 still live in tents or temporary structures out of from eyeshot. The thousands that lived for three or four years in those tents — some relocated more than once — are trying to rebuild their lives while countless jobs have disappeared. Life in Haiti was not easy before the earthquake and is still a struggle. Former Prime Minister Michele HAITI, continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com
quake that claimed more than 230,000 lives HAITI, continued from p. 6
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Pierre-Louis added her perspective. “Sixty to 70 percent of the relief and recovery funds went to humanitarian causes,” she said. “Very little went into public construction. And in Haiti there’s a problem with lack of access to credit, which makes it hard for individuals to rebuild.” She noted that middle-class people were affected too; people built and financed homes over years and they collapsed in 36 seconds. It’s difficult to quantify progress and recovery. “Things look normal,” said Alex, a guide and driver, as people scurried around in their daily activities in Petionville. An upscale “suburb,” the area is filled with cafes and restaurants, yoga studios, and at least three new Western-style hotels. “You don’t see the misery that goes on behind closed doors,” he said, noting how gas taxes have gone up and that there are taxes on everything, including selling a chicken or a goat. Nikelson Pierre-Louis (no relation to Michele Pierre-Louis) works in communication for the micro-credit organization Fonkoze. He was critical of some new targeted government programs, such as a small monthly stipends for students attending state universities or for very poor women. “That’s not what Haiti needs,” he said. “We really want programs that can benefit everybody.” Then he rattled off the areas of schools, hospitals, security and safety, and particularly the environment, which he said are in need of programs that will strengthen society.
Haitian police at the commemoration ceremony.
What really was on everybody’s mind this anniversary date of the earthquake, however, was politics. On Sun., Jan. 11, at midnight before the earthquake anniversary, onethird of the Senate’s term expired (two years ago, another third had expired), leaving the Senate with no quorum. At midnight the House of Deputies term also expired. This means that the president can rule by decree, which he is now in position to do. In spite of international pressure, no elections had been organized,
The Haitian flag flew at half-mast by the boulder memorial, marking the mass grave where thousands of the earthquake’s victims are buried. TheVillager.com
and during the preceding weeks, demonstrators from the opposition took to the streets. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Laurent Lamonthe, from this president’s administration, was forced out. A new prime minister, Evans Paul, has been selected, and on Sunday he announced his new cabinet of ministers, keeping nine of the 20 former ministers. Yet there is no sitting government to ratify either this prime minister or his selections. “It seems this government is not interested in elections,” observed
one Haitian resident. Meanwhile, the president blames a “dysfunctional Parliament.” So, five years after the earthquake, life continues to be very hard for most Haitians, recovery is long in the making and politics are at an impasse. Meanwhile, amid all the struggles, on Sunday nights, the streets of downtown Port-au-Prince and Petionville are filled with raucous merrymakers in a time-honored tradition of lively pre-Carnival celebrations.
President Martelly and his wife, Sophia, receiving wreaths to lay at the memorial. 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.9
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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 TheVillager.com
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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Not-so-great escape 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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Marching to reform N.Y.P.D. and reshape society PROTESTS, continued from p. 1
PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
Before Monday’s march on MLK Day, protesters for police reform gathered last Friday at the African Burial Ground on Duane St.
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 PROTESTS, continued on p. 11
PROTESTS, continued from p. 10
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 added 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 TheVillager.com
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.
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Bias charge against Li ‘unsubstantiated’: B.P. to jointly co-chair that same committee but were also rejected by Li, who Information Law (FOIL) request, responded that C.B. 3’s bylaws do not The Villager obtained a copy of the allow for committee co-chairpersons. According to the report, HarE.E.O. investigation final report. Yet, marked “Confidential,” it was rington filed her complaint with extremely heavily redacted, to the the B.P.’s office in late April of last point where the “3” was blotted out year. (Harrington, however, told in each and every reference to Com- The Villager she didn’t actually file munity Board 3, as were all persons’ the complaint, but that Brewer’s names — and frequently even any office launched the investigation pronouns, too, such as “she” and independently after The Villager “her,” that might help identify an in- published a letter by Harrington, in which she made the accusation.) dividual via gender. As part of the investigation, interIn addition, the borough presiviews were subsequently conducted dent’s office dragged its feet a bit in releasing the documents within the with Harrington and Li, as well as required time frame — taking more with “witnesses,” including possibly than a month too long — with a at least one other C.B. 3 member and spokesperson repeatedly explaining apparently Susan Stetzer, the board’s district manager. that it was a “sensitive” situation. By August, Brewer’s office had finThe investigation was sparked by a complaint by Ayo Harrington, ished the probe, and letters regardan African-American member of ing its findings were sent to Li and C.B. 3, who charged that Li, who is Harrington. The reason why the final report, Asian-American, had refused Harrington’s request to appoint her chair- as well as the letters to Li and Harperson of the board’s Health, Seniors rington — copies of which were also and Human Services / Youth, Educa- provided to The Villager — were all tion and Human Rights Committee so heavily redacted is because the accusation was ultimately found to be when the position became open. Harrington further charged that “unsubstantiated,” according to the two other board members — one of borough president’s office. “The complaint that [redacted whom is African-American — asked name] declined to appoint you or [redactobsters • Seaf L • s name] as [redacted] k a ood ed Committee chair on the S te basis of race or color was not substantiated by the www.moranschelsea.com E.E.O. Officers’ investigation,” the letter to ‘Timeless Old-World Vibes Harrington, as redacted pervade this Chelsea Fixture, a refuge for quality American for The Villager, says. fare in a classic pub-style The letters do consetting featuring an open clude by stating, howevfire and a vast Waterford er, that the borough prescollection. The staff’s lack ident — who appoints of ‘tude helps explain why community board memit’s been around for so long’ bers — recommended -ZAGAT 2009 four “remedial actions.” Seating everyday noon to midnight These measures are dePrivate parties for 10 to 400 - Reservations Suggested lineated by four bullet 146 Tenth Ave at 19th St. 212-627-3030 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 If you appreciate peace of mind, you’ll understand why it makes E.E.O. training.) sense to preplan with us. Reading between the We know of no other policies that work as this: redactions, the investi• Spares your family from making detailed decisions at an emotional time • Ensures that wishes are expressed gators found that Li nei• Prevents overspending and can lock in costs ther had made enough We’re experts at preplanning and know all of the issues appointments — she that may arise. Call us, you’ll be glad you did had made six up to that 325 W. 14th St. New York, NY 10014 point — nor chaired the (212) 242-1456 reddenfuneralhome.net C.B. 3, continued from p. 1
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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 obscured.
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 C.B. 3, continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com
Foes and fans of airbnb share views at hearing BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
PHOTOS BY WILLIAM ALATRISTE / NYC COUNCIL
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
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 Pier55 appears inspiring To The Editor: Re “Praise and excitement versus fear and loathing at Pier55 public hearing” (news article, Jan. 15): As working theater artists and parents of a child in public school in the West Village, we are inspired by plans for the new performance and open public spaces proposed for Pier55. As more and more Downtown spaces close their doors, the three new and truly unique
stages that are part of this proposal would be an enormous boon to New York’s performing arts community, and to the public they serve. Diverse audiences will be naturally drawn to this new space as an extension of the masterful Hudson River Park, regardless of income or existing theatergoing habits. Nontraditional and site-specific spaces hold a particular vibrancy and immediacy for performers and patrons alike. We are enormously excited about the promise of broad public access to incredible performances in a public park sur-
Cartooning can be dangerous to your health. 14
January 22, 2015
rounded by greenery, water and light. Daniel Talbott Talbott is artistic director, Rising Phoenix Rep, and literary manager, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Addie Johnson Johnson is artistic associate, Rising Phoenix Rep
Raises the Titanic To The Editor: Re “Praise and excitement versus fear and loathing at Pier55 public hearing” (news article, Jan. 15): This article makes no mention of the historical and archaeological importance of Pier 54. The pier’s connection to both the Titanic and Lusitania disasters alone makes it worth restoring, not to mention the rest of its storied history as the main pier for Cunard (and then CunardWhite Star) in the first half of the 20th century. The historicity of Pier 54 is certainly threatened, and the archaeological integrity of the site is put in imminent danger, by the new Pier55 proposal. Unfortunately, such things are very often not important enough to stop large LETTERS, continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com
Editors, not terrorists, killed U.S. political cartoonists TALKING POINT BY TED RALL
PHOTO BY LIZA BEAR
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
Mayor and speaker are M.I.A. on small businesses TALKING POINT BY SHARON WOOLUMS
huge gap has developed between the will of our community — outraged at continued closings of iconic businesses, demanding that something be done — versus the silence of elected officials who continue to do nothing to protect these threatened merchants, even as the crisis worsens. I wrote my first column in this ongoing saving-small-businesses series in June 2013. The need for this initiative arose from the clear distress that residents felt about the loss of neighborhood identity as chain stores and banks, one by one, replaced unique and friendly neighborhood businesses. People feel that political influence has been pitted against the desperate needs of a community, and many feel that this putative political influence is winning. My first column posed the question to all the then-mayoral candidates: “Will a Democrat for mayor stand up for small stores?” No candidate responded. The candidates’ refusal to give recognition to neighborhood businesses’ struggle to survive led to the second column, on July 3, 2013, headlined: “Who has the guts to fight for our small businesses?” I was optimistic for good responses for this second piece because of Bloomberg’s anti-small business reign, which saw 83,211 commercial eviction warrants issued and 168,000 stores closed without a court fight. Though the candidates, in their speeches, had proclaimed small business “the backbone of our economy and the engines of job creation,” the mayoral contenders did not debate each other on this issue. The public needed to know their records. Instead, we heard boilerplate campaign statements — likely construed by political consults to avoid offending the powerful real estate lobby — touting “tickets and lack of affordable loans” as the merchants’ problems. Small business owners, however, understood that they did not have friends at City Hall, that the real estate lobby seemingly controls small business policy to only maximize their profits — any negative consequences to neighborhoods be dammed. Today concerned constituents, post-election, must decipher how the “progressive” rhetoric of the campaign translates to the here and now. “Will you take any action to stop the closing of our small businesses?” was the question I posed to Mayor Bill de Blasio (as I personally handed him
January 22, 2015
In 2009, Bill de Blasio, then running for public advocate, and two other candidates were featured on a campaign poster — stating that they would “fight to save small businesses and jobs” — that was pasted up in the windows of many bodegas. However, de Blasio, now as mayor, has not lived up to that promise, the writer and a leading advocate argue.
my latest column at a Soho art event) and the new speaker (via e-mail). Neither chose to respond. As in my past columns, the city’s leading small business authority, Sung Soo Kim, here gives accurate evaluations and facts about the politicians’ records. Kim is called the “Godfather of Small Business” due to his founding the Korean American Small Business Service Center; co-founding the New York City Small Business Congress and Coalition to Save New York City Small Businesses; creating the Small Business Bill of Rights given to elected officials since 1993; and his chairmanship of the Small Business Advisory Board, appointed by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani. “Like many politicians, candidate de Blasio promised change, ‘a dramatic change of direction from the
Bloomberg administration,’” Kim noted. “In my 30 years advocating for small business, no elected official has exhibited as dramatic a change in small business policy as our Mayor Bill de Blasio. He has gone the gamut, changing his assessment of the crisis from ‘rent gouging and extortion’ to ‘fines and lack of access to loans,’ a complete flip-flop from the last election. “In April 2009, in Washington Heights, I attended the forum ‘Crisis on Main Street, Solutions to Save Hispanic Small Businesses,’ on a study asked for by David Yassky, then-chairperson of the City Council’s Small Business Committee. For the first time in two decades, a government officer publicly acknowledged that small businesses faced a crisis to survive. “Public advocate candidate Bill de
Blasio, making a strong, compelling speech in support of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, of which he was a proud sponsor, committed to protect immigrant owners’ investment in their communities and stop illegal extortion by unscrupulous landlords. “At an August 2009 rally on the steps of City Hall, he supported an emergency vote on the S.B.J.S.A. bill to quickly save the city’s small businesses,” Kim continued. “Later, at Jetro Foods, he met with small bodega owners who told of struggles they faced to survive, of month-to-month leases, extortion and rent gouging. Candidate de Blasio expressed outrage at the unfair lease renewal process forcing good businesses to close and hard-working families to lose jobs. “ ‘It is unacceptable and inexcusable to allow the illegal act of extorting our small business owners to continue,’ ” de Blasio said at that time. “Hispanic bodega owners placed posters in their windows asking customers to vote for him: ‘He is working to save our businesses and our jobs,’ the posters said. “Though a self-proclaimed ‘champion for small businesses’ candidate, fighting ‘economic inequality,’ now elected as mayor, de Blasio has kept Bloomberg’s anti-small business agency and policy intact. “The Small Business Congress wrote to de Blasio after the election, pleading that he select as new Department of Small Businesses Services commissioner, a successful small business owner — preferably Hispanic because of the impressive percentage of stores owned by that demographic. “We asked that the new mayor reform the Department of Small Business Services, which Bloomberg had established without appointing to it one representative with a small business or ethnic immigrant background. Ignoring our requests and simply moving Bloomberg staff from one department to another, Mayor de Blasio, appointed a new commissioner who had never owned or operated a small business,” Kim said. “His small business and jobs economic plan is the same, word for word, from the talking points of Bloomberg’s and a continuation of a failed policy. His focus on the wrong problems offers the same meaningless government initiatives with new titles. Not mentioning the S.B.J.S.A. he once sponsored and championed when running for public advocate, he has yet to put forth any other solution to stop the crisis.” Indeed, the number of court-orSMALL BUSINESS, continued on p. 24 TheVillager.com
Passion and partnership at Three Rooms Press In print and on stage, local publisher has global reach BY PUMA PERL (pumaperl.blogspot.com)
PHOTO BY SUSAN SHUP
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.18 January 22, 2015
‘Burroughs 101’ at Feb. 6 Three Rooms reading THREE ROOMS, continued from p. 17
PHOTO BY LYNN CAPPIELLO
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.19
PHOTO BY PUMA PERL
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. 18
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: threeroomspress.com. 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 pumaperl.blogspot.com.
PHOTO BY LYNN CAPPIELLO
Ryan Buynak, at Cornelia Street Cafe, taking part in Three Rooms Press’ “Prose! Poetry! Party! 2!” event.
PHOTO BY LYNN CAPPIELLO
Jane LeCroy, at a Three Rooms Press installment of “The Monthly.” TheVillager.com
January 22, 2015
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
MRS. MAYFIELD’S FIFTH-GRADE CLASS OF ‘93 20-YEAR REUNION
PHOTO BY KACEY STAMATS
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.
TALKING BAND presents THE GOLDEN TOAD
COURTESY OF SHAKESPEARE IN THE SQUARE
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 brownpapertickets.com. For info on the play, visit capslocktheatre.com.
Wherefore art thou? Indoors, for a change, when Shakespeare in the Square brings its “Romeo and Juliet” to The Gym at Judson.
THE TRAGEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET
January 22, 2015
PHOTO BY SUZANNE OPTON
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 shakespeareinthesquare.com.
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 lamama.org. For artist info, visit talkingband.org. TheVillager.com
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 WoodwardGallery.net
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN (stephaniebuhmann.com)
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).
COURTESY WOODWARD GALLERY
COURTESY WOODWARD GALLERY
COURTESY WOODWARD GALLERY
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
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January 22, 2015
Mayor and speaker are M.I.A. on small businesses SMALL BUSINESS, continued from p. 16
dered commercial warrants issued by the city marshal for business evictions has not changed one bit from the Bloomberg administration. Under Bloomberg, there was an average of 485 eviction warrants issued per month in 2012 and 499 per month in 2013. Under de Blasio, there was an average of 491 evictions warrants issued to small businesses per month in 2014. “Small business owners know they are in a crisis and it’s getting worse,” Kim stated. “They fear the virtual end of the American Dream unless government intervenes on their behalf,” Kim stressed. “I don’t know what changed in de Blasio’s ‘Tale of Two Cities’ small business environment to motivate the change in assessment of needs. I do know, when it comes to economic policy, Mayor de Blasio has failed to keep any of his pledges.” As for Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council’s new speaker, who also failed to respond to questions for this column, Kim was equally critical. “The single most important elected official’s voice for determining the future of small businesses and their employees’ jobs is the speaker of the City Council,” he said. “Ever since for-
mer Mayor Koch encouraged the real estate speculation cancer to spread into our city’s diverse economy, other mayors followed, forming economic policy, agencies and programs to hide deadly consequences for small businesses, jobs, neighborhoods and the economy. Subsequently, the City Council has denied the treatment for this cancer. “Using the speaker’s office, against the will of the people and the majority of councilmembers, against commonsense sound economic policy, each speaker collaborated with big real estate interests to block any legislation to regulate landlords,” Kim declared. “Whether the new speaker, Mark-Viverito, will encourage or allow new progressive councilmembers to pass legislation will depend upon the mayor, the city’s political machine, and the real estate lobby’s influence over the speaker’s office. “With this speaker, will only the rhetoric change while special interests continue to dictate small business policy and deny legislation, as with the past three?” Kim asked. “Unfortunately, Speaker Mark-Viverito does not have as role model a prior speaker, having similar progressive views and independence, for reform of City Hall. The past three
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speakers were ambitious to run for mayor. Small business advocates blame the promise of real estate campaign funds for influencing and guiding the legislative process at City Hall. Except for the newest version of the S.B.J.S.A. introduced in June 2014, Speaker Mark-Viverito sponsored the act each time it was introduced. For more than 30 years, a version of this bill was denied a vote in the City Council by previous speakers. “Former Speaker Peter Vallone singlehandedly lobbied committee councilmembers to change their votes to defeat the bill and prevent its passage,” Kim continued. “Speaker Vallone joined with Mayor Koch to form a Small Retail Business Study Commission to study the problem of high rents. It was called the ‘Limousine Commission’ because most members, handpicked by Vallone and Koch, arrived at the meetings in limousines. Consisting of presidents of real estate firms, Brooklyn Union Gas, savings banks, Wall St. firms, Macy’s and Chase Manhattan bank, etc., the commission took a year and half to reach its conclusion, namely: ‘Government should not interfere in the free marketplace.’ “The last speaker, Christine Quinn, stopped a vote on the S.B.J.S.A. even though the bill had 32 sponsors. The Council’s Small Business Committee Chairperson David Yassky had pledged to pass the legislation, declaring, ‘There was no option to do nothing or the small businesses would disappear!’ But stopped by a bogus claim of legal concerns from the speaker’s office, the bill was never debated publicly nor were changes recommended to the bill’s language to satisfy concerns. Instead, this disingenuous claim was used to deny a hearing on the bill for the past four years. Small business advocates who viewed the speaker’s actions as anti-immigrant and antidemocratic are concerned that those orchestrating this travesty of democracy are still in positions of power. “The good news,” Kim said, “is that Mark-Viverito is our first progressive Hispanic woman as speaker. With the vast majority of small businesses Hispanic owned and the number-one employers of Hispanic workers, Speaker Mark-Viverito should know these businesses are vital to Hispanic and immigrant families. She knows that if businesses continue to close, a major pathway for social mobility will also close. She, as an immigrant woman, is aware of the large number of minority women these businesses employ, jobs critical for single parents living in an ever-more-expensive city. The Council, now with its greatest number of progressive members ever, if granted freedom and independent actions, could easily pass the S.B.J.S.A. into
law. “But the Council’s Small Business Committee is looking like the same old handpicked political committee, the real estate lobby’s influence once again stacking the deck against small business owners,” Kim said. “When the original S.B.J.S.A. was first introduced in 1986 by then-Councilmember Ruth Messinger, the leading supporters of this bill were the city’s manufacturers through the Central Labor Council. Recently, Speaker Mark-Viverito announced a major plan to protect and grow our city’s manufacturers. She highlighted manufacturing’s importance to the city’s economy, employing over 350,000 workers, 10 percent of the workforce, and threatened by real estate speculation if government does not do more to protect them. The majority of manufacturers also are small businesses. “But what about the city’s largest employers, the 200,000 small businesses being destroyed by real estate speculation — are they too worth protecting?” Kim demanded. “Why isn’t the speaker now considering the S.B.J.S.A.? The voters will soon find out just how progressive and independent the new speaker really is.” Of all the problems facing legislators, finding a solution to stop small businesses from closing is considered by far the simplest and easiest. By passing legislation giving business owners rights to negotiate fair lease terms with landlords, the crisis would doubtlessly end. But the real estate lobby has become powerful and excessively influential, a result of decades-long windfall profits and PACs’ exorbitant campaign contributions. Constituents question if the real estate industry hasn’t hijacked democracy. They wonder who it is our electeds actually represent. Legislators remain silent as the Village is being destroyed, its cultural and physical fabric unrecognizably transformed. The news that Cafe Edison was facing closing brought outcry and outrage from patrons and fans, resulting in 10,000 names on a petition drive, citywide media coverage, and a social-media blitz, all making clear that the community demands that something be done. City Hall’s ignoring this crisis has made it worse and has not proven to be such a great long-term policy. When the foundation is destroyed, the bottom will fall out. The situation is now desperate, and each politician must make a choice. Either they stand with their small business owners and communities to pass legislation leveling the playing field — by giving rights to commercial tenants — or they continue their alliance with the landlords and the political machine by lobbying for no regulation. TheVillager.com
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 14
development deals like this, but they should certainly not be left out of the conversation. Eric Jones
Doesn’t float her boat To The Editor: Re “Praise and excitement versus fear and loathing at Pier 55 public hearing” (news article, Jan. 15): Whether one feels excitement or loathing toward the Pier55 proposal, it’s hard to justify committing $130 million to building a new 2.7-acre pier when Pier 40 needs $80 million in repairs to keep it standing. This 15-acre pier serves the community with its beloved athletic fields for Downtown youth, boathouses providing free boating for the public, and a commercial parking garage that generates 40 percent of the annual operating budget of Hudson River Park. Plans to develop Pier 40 have consistently been met with fierce
community opposition, in large part because the pier already valuably fills a need for open space and access to the water. It’s time to devote funds to fixing Pier 40. Our organization, the Village Community Boathouse, which is based at Pier 40, is a winner of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s 2014 Village Award for its unique and accessible way of connecting the Village to the Hudson River, and New Yorkers with our maritime history.
or perceived, has been at the heart of nearly all of these controversies over blasphemy. “This might seem unremarkable at first, but there is something curious about it, for the Prophet Muhammad is not the only sacred figure in Islam. The Quran praises other prophets — such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus — and even tells Muslims to ‘make no distinction’ between these messengers of God. Yet for some reason, Islamist extremists seem to obsess only about the Prophet Muhammad.”
Deborah Clearman Clearman is a member, board of directors, Village Community Boathouse
It’s a prophet problem
To The Editor: Re “A couple from Charles St. puts Elvis on the map” (news article, Jan. 15): Great article — a window into an illuminating Elvis map, and the tale of its creation. You need one if you’re a fan, or you just want to understand where the King was coming from.
To The Editor: Re “After France’s 9/11: Drawing a line against fanatic violence” (news article, Jan. 15): Op-ed columnist Mustafa Akyol wrote in “Islam’s Problem with Blasphemy,” in The New York Times on Jan. 15: “Mockery of Muhammad, actual
Elvis map is Essential
Don’t be an ash To The Editor: Re “The state of pot today as more states legalize it” (news article, Jan. 1): Rightists are in favor of smoking cigarettes but opposed to smoking marijuana. Leftists are in favor of smoking marijuana but opposed to smoking cigarettes. Smoke stinks. The left stinks. The right stinks. George Jochnowitz
E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Bias charge against Li ‘unsubstantiated’: B.P. C.B. 3, continued from p. 12
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. 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, TheVillager.com
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 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 Ex-
ecutive 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 highly 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 Manhattan 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
January 22, 2015
PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
Let’s do the transit time warp again! Last Friday in Tribeca, Hudson, Greenwich and Franklin Sts. resembled a 1960s time warp with vintage cars, taxis and buses, in preparation for a shoot for Ed Burns’s “Public Morals” TNT police series. Passersby were stopping and pulling out their smartphones to snap the at least 50-year-old vehicles.
Xavier JV rollers take 2nd in C.H.S.A.A. finals SPORTS BY ROBERT ELKIN
ophomore Michael Spencer turned in a better performance in the third and last game when he rolled a 215. But he didn’t have complete support from his Xavier High School teammates at Astoria Bowl in Queens in a final match in the Catholic High School Athletic Association junior varsity championships. Their opponent, Archbishop Molloy of Queens, remained undefeated in regular season competition by defeating Xavier to capture the citywide title. Over the past years, Molloy seemed to bowl much better and is a little too strong for its opponents to handle, both on the varsity and junior varsity levels. Spencer had rolled games of 188 and 184 prior to his career high of 215. Teammate Nick Tucker bowled a 145 and 147, Clark Sevcik threw a 172, followed by Nick Kane, who threw a 142. Brian Reilly tossed a 122 and 143. Joe Abbruzzese and Michael Schaefer round out the roster. Spencer was nervous during his first two games but he came on strong in his third and last game. “At the beginning of the season we TheVillager.com
were in last place and worked our way up,” Spencer said after the finals competition. “We finished as division champions and then entered the playoffs. I shot pretty well today. Both Molloy and Xavier turned in exciting seasons. Xavier finished with a 9-5 record in match competition. At the beginning of the season, the coaches felt that this Xavier team had the capabilities of going to the citywide finals. However, there was a lot of work to be done to go deep into the playoffs and be in contention to win the whole thing. “We had a great season. They work very hard, and we’re happy to be here,” said Coach Chris McCabe. “We practice at Shell Lanes in Brooklyn. We compete in Yonkers. It’s a trip to and from the lanes. It’s a big commitment.” Brian Reilly is the team’s most improved bowler. “He bowled a 68 at the start of the season,” McCabe said. “He didn’t do too much in the championship match. He did bowl over 200 during the regular season.” Then there was Clark Sevcik, who also improved as the season went along. “He never bowled before this year,” the coach noted. “Now he’s bowling in the upper 100s and even going over 200... . And Spencer im-
The Xavier J.V. bowling team with their awards after the championship competition.
proved a lot.” The student athletes on the team hail from all over the metro area, including New Jersey. “We’re very satisfied with the season,” McCabe added. “We started out...slow. We started out in eighth place among the 11 squads in the league. That was in week four. Every week we kept on building until we reached the divisional championships.” Xavier carries a roster of seven players on the J.V. team and six on the
varsity. Everybody should be back near year. There will be practices and workouts during the off-season in Brooklyn. “Going into a championship match with all these kids is very exciting,” said Jose Aquino, a faculty member at Xavier representing the athletic department. “Last time we won a championship was, I believe, 2005.” “We’ll definitely be back,” said Coach McCabe. “I’m extremely proud in what they have done and I can’t wait until next year.” January 22, 2015
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