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The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933

February 5, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 36

Silver resigns as speaker and, in a hasty process, Heastie takes the reins BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


SPEAKER, continued on p. 15

C.B. 3 O.K.’s East Village gardens district; 38 green oases would be saved BY ZACH WILLIAMS


ocal activists moved one step closer to realizing their ambitions of establishing a community gardens district when Community Board 3 voted 28-1 in support of the plan last week. Activists are calling on the city to make 38 gardens on

municipally owned property into parkland permanently protected from development. Community volunteers, as they do now, would continue to manage these gardens, just as they do in eight other privately owned gardens included within the proposed district. City Councilmember Rosie GARDENS, continued on p. 29


heldon Silver is out as speaker of the New York State Assembly, and Carl Heastie is in. Silver’s 21-year reign as one of the state’s top Democrats — one of the “three men in a room” cutting deals with the governor — came to a crashing end Monday,

as his resignation became official at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, the assemblymembers unanimously voted in Heastie to take Silver’s place. The beginning of the end for the powerful Lower East Side politician came early on the morning on Thurs., Jan.

Jimmy McMillan, founder of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, hoping to avoid eviction from his East Village apartment, displayed a cashier’s check covering two-thirds of his back rent, but his landlord wants him evicted. See Page 4.

Mayor calls affordable housing the tonic for ‘Tale of Two Cities’ BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


ffordable housing was the centerpiece of Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City address at Baruch College on Tuesday. The mayor, who campaigned on a platform of fighting income inequality in what he called the “Tale of Two Cities,” said much work remains in order to close the gap. On Tuesday, he said the city continues to be perilously close to becoming “a

gated community” and that such a sense of “exclusivity” has no place here. More than half of New Yorkers currently pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent, which means they are, by definition, “rent-burdened,” he stressed. Addressing that problem is the best and most-direct way to address the affordability crisis, he said. “How did we get here?” he asked rhetorically. “For decades, we let the developers write their own rules.

That meant a bias toward luxury housing. This administration is taking a totally and fundamentally different approach.” The centerpiece of his affordable housing plan — which he likened to the original mission of Stuyvesant Town — was a scheme to build 11,250 units of affordable housing on the Sunnyside Yards rail yards in Queens. In fact, that is the same number of units as DE BLASIO, continued on p. 6

Developer to fix up final two 2 C.B. 2 is onboard with ‘Diller Island’ 12 Editorial: Silver: The good, bad & 16 Fashion 23



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“It’s worth the trip down the street!” 2

February 5, 2015

HOW TWEET IT WAS: As Villager readers know by now, Assemblymember Deborah Glick does have another passion in life besides politics — yes, football. In fact, we’ll bet there probably isn’t another female legislator in America who tweets as prolifically about football games as Glick. Here’s a smattering of some of her Twitter posts from Super Bowl Sunday’s Patriots-Seahawks game — starting lightheartedly with, we assume, a dig at Chris Christie. “Best part of the #SuperBowl is that the Cowboys aren’t in it.” Ouch! O.K., now it was time to get to it. ... “Brady looks like Brady — first TD goes to Pats.” Glick also commented on the much-hyped Super Bowl ads. “Have to laugh at the Fiat ad — unless you’re in that 40% of men over 40.” Ha! That was the one with the endlessly ricocheting Viagra pill, remember? Back to Glick broke down a Bill Belichick call. “You could tell from the formation they were going long — with Gronk on the team — why not?” As for the entertainment, the assembylmember gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. “As good as the game is, the Katy Perry halftime show — best in a long time!” Another commercial break, another tweet by the animal-loving assemblymember. “Ads with animals almost always are the most memorable. If you’re spending this much money— you want the ad remembered.” Things were now looking bad for the Pats. “Wow 2nd pick against Brady.” Glick interspersed political tweets throughout, at one point, for example, retweeting a CBS News post: “Netanyahu speech invitation a breach of protocol, James Baker says.” But no way could international politics top this game for excitement. “That was an Odell Beckham like concentration,” she tweeted, obviously referring to Jermaine Kearse’s incredible, acrobatic catch. Only to be followed by: “Unbelievable! Rookie free agent with the goal line pick!” and then “Too bad the frustration explodes into a brawl.” Glick then retweeted some other folks’ incredulous comments about how bone-headed Coach Pete Carroll’s call for a pass on the game’s last play was. All in all, it was a truly tweet-mendous performance by @DeborahJGlick.




*V O T E D **



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SEEMING-LI LIKES LI: As The Villager recently reported, a confidential investigation by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office recently cleared Gigi Li, chairperson of Community Board 3, of an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint of discrimination in the way she appointed committee chairpersons during her first year leading the board. The investigators concluded that the accusation was “unsubstantiated” — though, according to sources, may have recommended that Li take basic E.E.O.

training. In fact, Brewer is now promoting Li, having named her as a panelist on her “State of the Borough 2015” event on Sun., Feb. 8, at Columbia’s Lerner Hall, starting at 2 p.m. The other panelists include a couple of high-profile former politicians in Carl McCall and Ruth Messinger, along with Jaime Estades, president of the Latino Leadership Institute. The discussion’s theme will be “What is your vision for the future of Manhattan?” Hmmm...speaking of future visions, if Sheldon Silver has to vacate his Assembly seat in the coming months, would Li be among those possibly hoping to fill it?


THE FINAL SQUAT DEAL? We hear things are heating up at 544 E. 13th St. It’s one of the two former East Village squats still left from when the city sold 11 of them to the squatters in 2002 for $1 per building. Under the deal, the squatters were supposed to bring the D.I.Y. buildings up to city code, then would get to keep their apartments as affordable units. Nine of the squats reportedly have done it, in one way or another. But 544 E. 13th St. has lagged way behind, and, in fact — a full dozen years after the historic agreement with City Hall — almost no work has been done to fix up the building in line with regulations. It’s also where movie star Rosario Dawson grew up and was discovered sitting on the scoop and where her mother, Isabel Celeste, and some relatives still live. As The Villager reported back in October, attorney Adam Leitman Bailey — who was retained by Celeste and her allies in the deeply factionalized building — told us that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, along with the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, or UHAB, were working on a way to get the E. 13th St. building fixed up under one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new affordable housing programs. Back then, Bailey said, that plan would involve a “white knight developer” who would invest money into the troubled tenement — the figure cited was $108,000 per unit — in return for which the developer would get a bonus of floor-area ratio (F.A.R.) — i.e., additional square footage — he could use at another site to develop market-rate units. This would be done through creating a “comprehensive zoning lot,” with the market-rate portion possibly located nearby or elsewhere within the neighborhood. Word

was that BFC Partners, led by managing partner Don Capoccia, would be the developer. A source now tells us that the Dawson clan, initially at least, balked at having to relocate for a year while Capoccia gut-rehabs the building, and actually wanted to stay in place during the disruptive work. The tenants also reportedly will have to pay a $1,000 “relocation fee” for the year, but as of now have no clue where they would be relocated to. “I don’t know whose bed I’m going to be sleeping in! I’m not signing anything!” our source exclaimed. To the chagrin of the building’s other faction, which includes some hardcore, old-school squatters, the Dawsons for years have rented out some of their spaces for revenue, basically turning them into cash cows. The number of those spaces stands at four, and it’s not known whether those individuals would be allowed to return after the building’s renovation. In fact, the owner of a well-known, high-end East Village bicycle shop located nearby is one of the renters, we’re told. At any rate, the rehab project apparently will be moving forward soon and the tenants will have to vamoose. “We’re told June is the get-go time,” our source said. We asked Bailey, who said he is still representing Celeste and Co. for the latest news, but he referred us to H.P.D. Meanwhile, our requests for info from H.P.D. have so far gone unanswered. Word on the street is that Capoccia and UHAB are now also trying to swing the same deal with another former squat, 377 E. 10th St., that similarly has made little headway. Not helping matters, a 21-year-old resident was arrested there for possession of two machine guns and drugs in April 2013. “I heard E. 10th St. was visited last week or the week before by UHAB and the developer,” the source said. “I was told there was a meeting.” Capoccia previously did a project involving one of the former squats, when a few years ago he demolished 9 Second Ave. and incorporated its space into a new 12-story high-rise at 11-17 Second Ave. Under the deal, those former squatters were able to buy luxury apartments in the new building for just $10 apiece. However, some erstwhile squatters see a bitter irony in a developer cashing in on their hardfought housing. “I want to know how much Capoccia made on 9 Second Ave.!” our source fumed.

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Jimmy McMillan displayed a check that would pay about two-thirds of his back rent, but he said his landlord won’t accept it.






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February 5, 2015

Rent Is Too Damn High guy facing eviction BY ZACH WILLIAMS


ast Village resident Jimmy McMillan had two days left, and one final legal tactic to deploy before a scheduled eviction from his St. Mark’s Place apartment on Feb. 5. The 68-year-old combat veteran best known as the founder of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party — on whose line he ran for governor in 2010 — remained hopeful that Adult Protective Services would intervene in time to prevent the eviction. After years of battling his landlord in Housing Court about rent, keys and just exactly where his primary residence is located, this was his “last draw,” after he received the eviction notice on Jan. 15, he told The Villager in a Feb. 3 interview. He described his current predicament as the latest mission in a life determined, first and foremost, by his service in the Vietnam War, for which he now receives full disability payments for post-traumatic stress disorder. He must “lead from the front,” given his stature as a landlord-fighting rabble-rouser, he added. “I can’t tell you how to fight if I don’t know how to fight,” he said. “So right now, I got my boots on and I’m fighting my ass off to keep them from throwing me out.” News of whether the effort to avoid eviction through Adult Protective Services was successful was not available as of press time. Under a 2009 agreement with the

landlord, Lisco, McMillan said, he sent rent payments to his landlord only to have them returned. A new key to his building was not provided per the agreement. He displayed photocopies of purported court documents to corroborate these claims. What his landlord really wants, according to McMillan and his attorney, John De Maio, is to eject the activist from his rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment in order to replace him with a new tenant at a higher rent. McMillan currently pays $872 per month, far below the prevailing rate in the hot East Village real estate market. A Lisco representative could not be reached for comment by press time. The landlord charges that McMillan owes $18,359, an amount the activist disputes. McMillan expressed willingness to pay a significant portion of that sum, and showed The Villager a cashier’s check in the amount of $11,348.48, dated Jan. 18. But Lisco has yet to accept that payment, as well as his future residency at the apartment on St. Mark’s Place near Avenue A. Lisco has previously contended that McMillan’s primary residence was in Brooklyn, thus nullifying McMillan’s rent-stabilized status in Manhattan, McMillan explained on a well-worn sofa inside of the East Village apartment. Keepsakes from his various political campaigns — he has run for office a half-dozen times — adorned the walls. The kitchen was dark and a pile of clothes lay in one corner of the liv-

ing room of the bachelor pad near a mounted trio of antique saxophones. His Brooklyn apartment, on the other hand, was an office, said McMillan, who now lives alone in the East Village. Amid his dossier of papers relating to his housing case was an unopened letter from federal court, in which he filed a lawsuit last week alleging that his landlord was extorting him. McMillan is seeking more than $1 million in damages. He said he new that federal court did not have jurisdiction in his case, but that the legal maneuver was a response against his landlord. “I knew it was going to be thrown out, but I had to make some noise,” he said. His fight is important not only for securing his housing but also the greater cause of tenants’ rights throughout the city, McMillan said. “I’m letting myself get evicted because I needed to let the people know this got to stop,” he said. “When the marshal comes through the door, I don’t know what time, but I’m going to be sitting right here.” De Maio said in a telephone interview that the legal system might not come through for McMillan in time to prevent his eviction, despite his client’s lease, age, public service and willingness to pay outstanding rent. “The idea that the system is not broad enough to help a man in this situation is despicable,” he said.

Biden grabs a bite on Jones St., in town for Dem Committee event


Jimmy McMillan’s car outside his St. Mark’s place apartment, between First Ave. and Avenue A.

SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor

ice President Joe Biden was in Greenwich Village on Wednesday to attend a Democratic National Committee event at Perilla restaurant, at 9 Jones St. The lunch was closed to the press. The one-block-long Jones St. between W. Fourth and Bleecker Sts. was locked down tightly by a heavy police presence for the V.P.’s visit. Veteran Community Board 2 member Doris Diether reported to The Villager that she had gotten phone calls by some woman telling her something big was happening on Jones St. and that police had been seen going into 9 Jones St. “They said there were a lot of police there and bomb-sniffi ng dogs,” Diether said. Martin Baranski, Sixth Precinct community affairs officer, explained that there was nothing amiss and that the heavy security was for Biden. “It’s like when Obama comes to town,” he said. Perilla was opened in 2007 by Harold Dieterle — the winner of the first season of “Top Chef” in 2006

Joe Biden was at Perilla on Jones St. on Wednesday.

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Mayor talks affordable housing, plus ferry plan DE BLASIO, continued from p. 1


Stuy Town, he noted. The rail yards would need to have platforms built over them, as in the Hudson Yards development plan on Manhattan’s West Side. This new housing would stay affordable forever, he noted. For the record, he is keeping his eye on what is going on at Stuy Town, he said, in terms of trying to keep it as affordable as possible. However, whereas the Hudson Yards are only a few acres, the Sunnyside Yards are 167 acres — with much of that under the control of the M.T.A. In addition, shortly after de Blasio’s speech, Governor Cuomo, who controls the M.T.A., said through a spokesperson that the Queens rail yards are not currently available for any such project. De Blasio also announced plans for creating 1,500 units of affordable live/work spaces for artists and musicians — plus 500 affordable dedicated work spaces for them — as well as 10,000 affordable units for seniors, and pledged to house homeless veterans.

Mayor Bill de Blasio shook hands with a supporter after his State of the City speech.

He called for mandatory inclusionary affordable housing in recently rezoned areas of the city, such as the southwest Bronx and East Harlem. This will mean taller towers, but these will be sited in former manufacturing-zone areas, where there has been no housing before. “We are not embarking on a mission to build skyscrapers where they don’t belong,” he explained. Over all, his plan would create and / or preserve a total of 200,000 units affordable for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. He noted that, under his administration, the Rent Guidelines Board last year passed the smallest rent increase in its history. He then discussed the “G” word, gentrification, which he said is a mix of good and bad. In the past 20 years, the city has gotten much safer, and crime is at historic lows, he noted. He earlier had given a shout-out to the police for achieving that feat. The city’s safety, he said, “has been, in many cases, a positive of gentrification. The negative point is when we reach the tipping point and New Yorkers are forced out of their neighborhoods.” He slammed “slumlords” and “predatory landlords,” the former


February 5, 2015

who deprive tenants of legally required services and repairs, the latter who swoop in on booming neighborhoods and “harass and push out tenants,” as he put it, so they can capitalize on the hot real-estate market. “They’re law breakers — they literally break the law,” the mayor declared, “and they need to feel the consequences of their actions.” De Blasio touted his passage of universal pre-K last year, saying he had defied the skeptics. “When it comes to affordable housing, we will prove them wrong again,” he vowed. “If you can afford to live here,” he said, “then everything becomes more possible, what you want to do and achieve here. “We cannot allow ourselves to become a place of exclusivity,” he emphasized. “We cannot disconnect from our heart and our soul, or it won’t work.” In addition, the mayor announced a plan for increased commuter ferries between the boroughs, with rides priced at the same rate as a MetroCard swipe. The scheme would include a ferry stop at Grand St., which was hailed by City Councilmember Margaret Chin another East Side elected officials.





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Councilmember Corey Johnson was among those in the audience at Baruch College’s Mason Hall on Tuesday for the mayor’s State of the City speech. “The mayor said it perfectly: We cannot allow our city to be defined by exclusivity, rather than opportunity,” Johnson said afterward. “That’s not what New York is about. The issue of affordable housing cuts to the core of the issue, because if middle-class and working-class people can’t afford to live here, we’ll lose the vibrancy that makes us special.”

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Vinay Anadjee on Wednesday at the Sheridan Square newsstand, his last morning on the job.

Extra! Newsvendor retiring, will live in ‘world’s oldest city’ BY TEQUILA MINSKY


live a quiet, low-profile life,” said Vinay Anadjee, who after 22 years, and turning 65, was selling his last newspapers at Sheridan Square on Wed., Feb. 4. The morning newspaper vendor at the kiosk, the Flushing, Queens, resident has watched the Village change since he took up the post. He said he used to witness a lot of fighting from his perch, but in the last few years, he said, “It’s very quiet.” Andadjee is from India where

his family, including his wife, two daughters, a son and a grandson, live. On Feb. 15, he’ll be out of here, joining them in “central India, the oldest living city in the world, Varanasi,” he said. Indeed, it’s credited with being one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Kati Bordonaro, a member of Community Board 2, said everyone in the neighborhood knows Andajee, who is like a local landmark. “I have seen him at the kiosk for the past 22 years,” she said. “Many people have seen him every day.”

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February 5, 2015


POLICE BLOTTER Slashing spree Police are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying an individual wanted for multiple slashing assaults in the early morning of Wed., Feb. 4. Police said that around 1:20 a.m., a roughly 35-year-old man approached two other straphangers who had just boarded a northbound No. 4 train at the Broadway-Lafayette / Bleecker St. station. The suspect walked over and punched one of them in the face with the exposed blade of a box cutter in his hand, causing a laceration/puncture wound to the right side of his face. The suspect and victim then stayed on the subway until Union Square, where they both exited the train. As the suspect was fleeing the station, he encountered a 20-year-old female inside the station and slapped her on the right side of her face causing a physical injury. The suspect then proceeded up the stairs beside the Food Emporium and came upon a 46-year-old male by the subway elevator. He asked the man for $2, and when the man refused, he slashed the right side of his face. The slasher then crossed 14th St. and set his sights on a 59-year-old man waiting for the M14 bus. The suspect asked him for $1, and when the man refused, he was also slashed on the right side of his face. The suspect then fled the location. All the victims were removed to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. The investigation in ongoing.   The attacker is described as heavyset, wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, black vest, blue jeans and red sneakers. Police released a grab from a surveillance video of the alleged suspect. 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.

A touch too much A man who was bounced for getting too touchy at The Standard’s bar didn’t take the hint, and soon found himself in handcuffs. Police said Nicolai Bushin, 29, was tossed out of the hotel bar, at 848 Washington St., for allegedly forcibly touching a 26-year-old woman there on her back and stomach on Jan. 30. He then tried to re-enter the place around 12:25 a.m. but was arrested.

Monkey business Police released this video grab of the alleged slashing suspect, who is wanted for multiple assaults on Feb. 4.

employee and, as one brandished a knife, demanded money. The employee complied, and handed one of the suspects $240 in cash. Both suspects fled the location and the victim was unharmed. The suspects are described as in their late 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. The suspect with the knife was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, and the other suspect was wearing a black jacket. Police provided photos of the pair taken from surveillance camera videotapes. 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.

One 24-year-old man allegedly punched another in the face at the Brass Monkey bar, at 55 Little W. 12th St. around 2:20 a.m. on Sat., Jan. 31. Ryan Buttimer was charged with misdemeanor assault. Despite a fair amount of bruises and swelling, the victim refused medical attention

Package-deal steal An aspiring burglar found his way into 25 Minetta Lane by ringing multiple apartment bells until someone let him in at about 7:32 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 28. The intruder then attempted to steal the contents of a package once he entered the building lobby, according to a police report. But a 34-year-old resident confronted the robber, identified as Jonathan Paulino, 20, and prevented him from leaving the building until police arrived. Paulino was charged with felony burglary. A police report did not state the contents of the parcel.

Thrift-shop robbery

Police said that on Wed., Jan. 21, at 5:30 p.m., two suspects entered the AuH20 Boutique, a.k.a. Goldwater Boutique, a thrift and vintage shop at 84 E. Seventh St. They approached an


February 5, 2015

Boyfriend beat-down What one 24-year-old man said to a woman of unknown age inside the Christopher St. PATH Station on Feb. 1, police did not state. However, her boyfriend reportedly took issue with what the other man uttered because the angry lover punched the other man “three to four” times at about 2:30 a.m., causing him injuries to his mouth and teeth, according to cops. Christopher White, 25, was charged with misdemeanor assault.

Breakdance bust Police said they saved C train passengers from harm’s way when they nabbed a subway dancer on Jan. 30. Tyron Milson, 28, was somersaulting and breakdancing on a northbound train at about 6:15 p.m. that evening and seeking donations, according to police. They saw him as the rolling dance party entered the W. Fourth St. station. Milson also blocked the aisle down the middle of the train car during his routine, police charged. He was slapped with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Tagger takedown Cops caught a graffiti artist on Sat., Jan. 24 but not before he sprayed his moniker, “Agua Fresca.” The paint-spraying perpetrator fled the scene after police spotted him at about 3:30 a.m. as he was allegedly adorning a building near the corner of W. Houston St. and Sixth Ave. Ted Martizia, 25, made it as far as MacDougal St. before being tackled by police. He banged his head on the pavement and was taken to a hospital, according to a police report. Police said that, during the arrest, Martizia pulled his arms under his body in order to avoid being handcuffed. A backpack belonging to him contained spray paint, cops said. He was charged with making graffiti, a misdemeanor.

Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson Images of the two alleged robbers who hit an E. Seventh St. thrift shop.


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February 5, 2015


Cheers but some fears as C.B. 2 approves Pier55 BY LINCOLN ANDERSON



February 5, 2015


t its Jan. 22 full-board meeting, Community Board 2 members — after mulling over a lengthy 36-point resolution — voted to approve, though with numerous caveats, the Pier55 plan. Only two C.B. 2 members voted “no.” The proposed 2.7-acre “arts island,” promised to be a venue for worldclass entertainment, will be largely funded by the philanthropy of Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg. The resolution states that the community board “applauds the enormous generosity of the donors for making this unprecedented investment in local arts programming and outdoor space, and congratulates the Hudson River Park Trust for obtaining such an extraordinary donation.” C.B. 2, the resolution adds, “enthusiastically supports the project’s promise of high-quality arts programming made available to a broad public, but has concerns about future funding of this pier should Pier55, Inc. experience financial troubles or vacate the lease.” The Lower West Side power couple — who were also involved in the new pier’s design — would pay 87 percent of its anticipated $130 million construction cost through their Diller - von Furstenberg Family Foundation. The city, for its part, would chip in $17 million. A nonprofit organization, Pier55 Inc., or P55, headed by Diller, would then lease this new pier — to be located off W. 13th St. — from the Hudson River Park Trust for 20 years, funding the pier’s operation, as well as programming its entertainment, with an option to renew the lease for an additional 10 years. Board 2’s Parks and Waterfront Committee held two separate public meetings to gather community input before drafting its lengthy resolution in support of Pier55. Yet, the resolution also raises a host of concerns that board members said need to be addressed. In particular, they said, vague parts of the lease must be clarified to ensure that Pier55 lives up to its promises, and doesn’t instead become a quality-of-life nightmare for surrounding neighborhoods. At the Jan. 22 community board meeting, Bunny Gabel, of Friends of the Earth, again spoke out against the project, which she has previously disparaged as “Diller Island” and “Dillerville.” But, in general, scant public opposition was voiced. Speaking afterward, Tobi Bergman, the new C.B. 2 chairperson, said, “the proof is in the pudding” as to how the lease and ultimately Pier55 itself pan out. The Trust’s board of directors is set

The high point of Pier55, literally, in its current design, would be its southeast corner, reachable by this staircase.

An aerial view of the proposed Pier55, which would be built between the pile field of Pier 56, to its north, and Pier 54, to its south, whose remaining decking would be removed, leaving another pile field.

to vote on the Pier55 lease at their Feb. 11 meeting. C.B. 2 wanted to have its own resolution in place before then. “We did ask for some changes [in the lease’s language],” Bergman said. “I’d like to see those changes made between now and when the Hudson River Park Trust votes. “I think a really high-quality performance venue in a park is a great thing,” he said. “People love to listen to music in parks. The two things that seem to work in parks are either informal, ad hoc performances or the more well-organized ones. The middle is where you run into trouble.”

Bergman acknowledged that some community members have criticized the height of the pier’s unusual “rolling landscape” design, which will top out at 71 feet tall at its southeast corner. However, he doesn’t see the elevation as a problem. “The park is very flat,” he noted. “I think people are going to use that to get up high and get a view of the whole Hudson River Park.” In general, Bergman said of Pier55, “I’m very hopeful for it. If you try to go into everything with 100 percent surety of the outcome, you never do anything.”

What about people saying that media mogul Diller and fashion icon von Furstenberg should direct their money instead toward Pier 40, at West Houston St., the park’s heavily used, but badly deteriorated sports pier? But Bergman said it shouldn’t be expected that “a Barry Diller, who spends his life in entertainment,” would necessarily be burning to finance Pier 40’s repair. The most important thing, the C.B. 2 chairperson stated, is that the Trust not totally cede control of Pier55 to PIER55, continued on p. 13

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Diller, von Furstenberg and the P55 nonprofit. “We have to be sure that the Trust has a strong seat at the table during negotiations over events and so forth,� he stressed. “The Trust has authority over the park, and the contract should not take that away.� C.B. 2, in its resolution, said “the expectation� is that Diller and DvF’s big cash gift, plus Pier55’s development, will attract more support for completing the whole 4-mile-long Hudson River Park, 30 percent of which remains unfinished. But the community board pointed out that the Trust needs a long-term funding plan for Pier55 — especially since the pier’s nonprofit can legally vacate the lease after 10 years by paying a $5 million penalty to the Trust. The pier’s design, nevertheless, “represents an attractive and inventive solution for a combined public park and performance venue,� and “will provide a departure from the linearity of the park, adding interest and playfulness appropriate for the new use of the historic waterfront,� the resolution says. There was trepidation expressed at public meetings about noise and pedestrian safety due to the volume of people expected to attend events at the pier, most who will likely come by subway, from the station at 14th St. and Eighth Ave., the resolution says. However, Pier55’s design will purportedly abate noise, which reportedly will be less than the area’s former performance pier, Pier 54, produced, the resolution notes. Yet another concern, C.B. 2 noted, the lease agreement with Pier55 permits mooring a 4,000-square-foot barge off the new pier’s west side for half the year — which could impact the marine ecosystem. As for performances and public access, the resolution warily notes that the Pier 55 “programming vision� has been “well-received by the community but could be changed by Pier55 at any time in the future.� The master events list will be kept by Pier55, Inc. not the Trust, the resolution notes, though the former must give the Trust its schedule six months prior to each season. “The Trust’s fact sheet refers to Pier55, Inc.’s commitment to showcasing local talent, but the details of this pledge are not stipulated in its lease,� the C.B. 2 resolution adds. “The percentage of free vs. ‘low-cost’ tickets for events put on by Pier55, Inc. has not been decided; the definition of the term ‘low-cost’ has not been defined... . C.B. 2 has questions about how Pier55, Inc. can ensure a fair and transparent process for distribution of

these tickets to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis ... . The number of days the park will be completely and/or partially closed to the public, which is of great concern to the community, relies on Pier55, Inc.’s programming and is said to be impossible to determine at this early stage.� While generally lauding the project, C.B. 2 members listed a number of caveats required for their support. First, Pier 55, Inc. must agree that “reasonable limitation to public access� will not exceed 50 percent of the area of Pier55 more than one day per week between May 1 and Oct. 30, and that access will not be restricted more than 50 percent of daylight hours on those days. Second, the resolution states, public input must be increased in the pier’s design development, construction and operation, by including representation of C.B. 2 and local city councilmembers on the Pier55 board of directors, and by creating a community advisory board, including members of the local performing-arts community. It must also be guaranteed, the resolution continues, that there is “fair and democratic access� to all performances, and a limit on the amount of free and low-cost tickets given “as a reward for membership, sponsorship or contribution in or to Pier55, Friends of Hudson River Park or any other organization.� The Trust also must find berths for historic ships in the park, since Pier 54 had been slated for that purpose, unlike its replacement, Pier55, C.B. 2 said. This is “appropriate to the site’s history as one of the world’s most important seaports,� the resolution states. The Trust must obtain permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Environmental Conservations before work can start on Pier55. Meanwhile, environmental groups, including Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club, are protesting that a full environmental impact statement (E.I.S.) has not been done for Pier55 — which won’t be built on a current pier site, but will have a totally new footprint in the river. Instead, the Trust has done a less-rigorous environmental assessment. “Riverkeeper has significant concerns about the Park Trust’s effort to accelerate approval of this new pier in the Hudson without careful consideration of its impacts, and opposes the project moving forward without the required review,� said Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River program director. “The Park Trust must not allow financial pressure to influence its decision-making when it comes to building in the Hudson. The river is an invaluable public resource that demands the utmost protection.�


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Silver steps down as speaker as Heastie steps in SILVER, continued from p. 1

22, when he turned himself in at F.B.I. headquarters, at 26 Federal Plaza, facing five federal charges of corruption, extortion and fraud. Each charge carries a 20-year maximum sentence. Silver, 70, was then handcuffed behind his back and driven the short distance to Federal Court, where he was arraigned of his charges and released on $200,000 bond. “I hope I’ll be vindicated,” Silver tersely told reporters after leaving court. According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Silver’s alleged crimes stretched back a decade and involved two schemes, netting him a total of nearly $4 million. In one scam, Silver allegedly secretly funneled state funds to a Columbia University doctor, who then referred asbestos cancer patients to Silver’s Noho-based law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, with Silver reaping $3.2 million in “referral fees” from the firm. In the other case, Silver is accused of directing real estate developers with business before the state to a small Lower Manhattan real estate firm — run by his former Assembly legal counsel — which, in a quid pro quo, then paid him $700,000. None of this income was reported on Silver’s required disclosure forms, according to the federal complaint. The charges grew out of the work of the Moreland Commission, the anticorruption panel created to probe the state Legislature by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which he abruptly shut down last year. Silver at first desperately tried to hang on to his speakership, saying he would temporarily cede some responsibilities to a group of five assemblymembers, but the idea tanked, and fellow legislators soon moved to force Silver to step down. Legislators’ support quickly coalesced around Heastie (pronounced “HAY-stee”) — but at least one local legislator expressed concern about the, well, hasty process. As the initial field of five candidates had rapidly shrunk to two last Friday, Assemblymember Deborah Glick took to Twitter to air her views. Hours later, ratcheting up the race’s intensity and the sense that it could soon be over, news came that Silver had turned in his resignation papers. Around 11 a.m. Friday, Glick tweeted, “Morelle out of speaker race — Nolan still in —am I having a flashback to an earlier presidential primary? 1 thing clear — won’t be a white guy.” Glick was referring to Joseph Morelle of Rochester dropping out of the running on Friday, leaving just Cathy Nolan of Queens and Heastie of the Bronx remaining. As for the “flashback,” she was referring to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, when she supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. Glick had told The Villager back then that she was excited to back Clinton, a highly qualified woman, since Glick felt that for too much of her life she had “voted for mediocre men” for elected office. Like Clinton, Nolan is a woman, and like Obama, Heastie is African-American. And just as with Obama and Clinton and the presidency at that time, a woman or a black man leading the Assembly would be a historic first. And, as Obama did in ’08, Heastie has won the election. In addition, Glick, who represents the Lower West Side, felt that it was important to have a strongly pro-choice speaker, as seen in her tweet at

Carl Heastie was elected the state Assembly’s new speaker on Tuesday, replacing Sheldon Silver, who was forced to resign on Monday due to federal charges that he engineered $4 million in payoffs and kickbacks for himself.

12:21 p.m. on Friday: “It would be good for the next speaker to come from the bi-partisan pro-choice caucus.” As Glick explained to The Villager, many members of the Assembly — including Nolan — are on the Pro-Choice Caucus, yet Heastie is not among them. “Which is not to say that Heastie hasn’t taken pro-choice votes,” Glick added. “We hope that there will be a discussion of codifying Roe v. Wade,” she explained. “New York eliminated its prohibition on abortion in 1970. Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973. Certain federal protections are not written into New York law. So if

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a conservative Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, there would be gaps in New York’s law — which we would try to avoid. If Roe v. Wade were struck down, it means all that we’d have to cover New York would be the state law from 1970.” Heastie also reportedly voted against allowing gay marriage when it first came up in the Assembly in 2007, and failed to support it in votes in succeeding years, but finally did support gay marriage the year it was legalized in New York, in 2011. Glick admitted that Nolan was “totally a long shot.” What really had Glick ticked off, though, was the fact that Heastie’s support was being built the old-school way, when what had been promised was that the candidates would make presentations to the full Assembly before the vote. “The old-fashioned way is people are on the phone — and county party chairs, etc., weigh in,” she explained. And all of this, according to Glick, is exactly what went on, as opposed to a promised open process. Although the date had been given as Feb. 10 by which the Assembly would elect a new speaker, Glick last Friday had predicted that the choice, in fact, could happen by Monday or Tuesday. Despite what could be gleaned from her tweets, as of last Friday, Glick said she wasn’t supporting any candidate yet. That said, she did make her preference known to The Villager. “Carl is a decent guy,” she said. “I just think that Cathy has a much longer record of dealing with significant issues. She’s chairperson of the Education Committee. Education is always a very large part of the budget discussions, and so she has been involved in that.” Also, Nolan has served twice as long in the Assembly, 30 years to Heastie’s15. Heastie has been described, in many ways, as virtually a Silver clone in terms of his political style, demeanor and voting record. At the same time, Nolan was one of the “Gang of Five” who Silver had wanted to take over some of the speaker’s responsibilities on a temporary basis. However, conceding defeat, Nolan dropped out of the race on Monday, albeit saying, in a statement, that the Assembly really would have benefited from a longer process. As for Silver, Glick said she spoke to him the night that the assemblymembers concluded there was no option but for him to step down. As reported in last week’s issue of The Villager, SILVER, continued on p. 25

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February 5, 2015


Sheldon Silver: The good, the bad and the ugly EDITORIAL


any are taking pleasure in Sheldon Silver’s downfall. He stands accused of pocketing nearly $4 million illegally and, if convicted, could spend two decades in federal prison. At the same time, for community members who have benefitted from his good work in the Assembly, there is also pain. The charges against Silver, who until this week was Assembly speaker, are numerous and serious. If they are true, there is nothing in Silver’s record that could justify them — but that also does not mean that his accomplishments should be overlooked. Though he remains innocent until proven guilty, the Assembly obviously had to have a new leader. He plans to cling to his Assembly seat — at least for now — while he fights the charges. A possible scenario, if he can’t beat the rap, would see him take a plea bargain. It’s unlikely U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara would have brought such a case against the powerful Silver un-

less he was extremely confident of winning it. Bharara is reportedly now also probing the courts, where Silver installed judges — friends of his since their childhood together on Grand St. — allegedly favorable to his law firm’s lucrative asbestos patient cases. Even Governor Cuomo is said to be in Bharara’s sights for having abruptly shut down the Moreland Commission last year. In short, what did Cuomo know about the investigation into Silver, and what deal did he possibly cut with him, before the anti-corruption panel was terminated? “Stay tuned,” Bharara announced after Silver’s arrest two weeks ago. And so the New York Legislature continues to live up to its reputation as one of the country’s most dysfunctional. The list of top pols convicted or ushered out of office under a cloud of charges — Eliot Spitzer, Malcolm Smith, Pedro Espada, Alan Hevesi — only seems to grow. Legislators’ outside income continues to be a serious problem, and now has been Silver’s downfall. State Senator Brad Hoylman, leading the way toward reform, has proposed limiting legislators’ outside income to $15,000

annually, and banning them from practicing law, which currently opens the door to the sort of graft Silver is accused of finagling. As Hoylman noted, the details of this sort of outside work “are often shrouded in secrecy and can contribute to conflicts of interest.” Locally, though, in particular, Lower Manhattan had two unique circumstances and was fortunate to have a powerful advocate to cope with them. One was the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, which in addition to the senseless destruction of life, also had a devastating economic effect on Downtown; Silver’s advocacy meant the rebuilding was done better and with more of the community’s interests in mind. The second was Lower Manhattan’s unprecedented population growth. Silver formed a School Overcrowding Task Force and made the city’s Department of Education address the problem. On the negative side, Silver let the commuter tax be killed, depriving the city of millions of dollars in annual income. Bowing to pressure from his Assembly conference, he nixed Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing plan, which would have slashed auto traffic

in Manhattan. Yet, he thankfully shot down Bloomberg’s West Side stadium plan, wielding his key vote on the Public Service Commission. Above all, Silver championed bread-and-butter progressive issues: education, unions, programs for the poor. He helped pass gay marriage. He protected rent regulation — though some question how much. Catering to his Grand St. base, Silver long resisted redevelopment of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), favoring economic development over low-income housing. But when, after decades, a consensus plan for SPURA emerged, he finally did support it. And so, “Shelly Silver’s parking lot” is now being transformed into housing with a mix of incomes and retail. Silver’s legacy — the good, the bad and the ugly of it — will all be sorted out over time, as will the charges against him. Still, he deserves our thanks for the good that he did on the local level, and it was a lot. If his departure as speaker causes the Legislature to be cleaned up, God willing, it’s obviously all for the best. It remains to be seen, though, if that really will happen.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Won’t cut Silver any slack To The Editor: Re “Shel-shocked: Silver to resign as speaker over corruption charges” (news article, Jan. 29): I don’t get the “Silver was great for progressive causes, therefore he should get the benefit of the doubt” theory. Yeah, he was a great progressive. But that’s not saying anything. It’s very easy to be a liberal progressive in one of the most liberal cities in the U.S. In fact, Silver (deservedly so), would have

gotten flak from his constituents and would have been voted out of office long ago had he not worked on marriage equality and affordable housing. These issues are laudable, certainly, but it’s expected. And the key to legalizing marriage equality really was the state Senate. Getting same-sex marriage passed in the state Assembly was no challenge at all, considering the majority of members were Democrats. I like Silver’s politics, fine. But he never really took a stance that would ever seem to be contro-


versial. Other local assemblypersons who have been around him are also good progressives and also have brought home the bacon. But what if they were caught defrauding the taxpayers? They wouldn’t be cut the same amount of slack and would be asked to resign their offices. Doing your job, on the surface, does not qualify you too to maintain respect, or even your seat. And on top of that, Silver, up until his 2008 primary-election challenge, didn’t deliver constituent services in a fair way. A specific niche of his support base got first dibs until the local daily newspapers, 38 years later, starting harping on his obvious favoritism. Sorry, but our former speaker doesn’t have an honest bone in his body. I applaud state Senator Brad Hoylman for his reflexive honesty. He didn’t need to think, for he realized that what Silver did was fundamentally wrong. And this is more than a criminal complaint. These are the results from a six-month long investigation. Let’s tell our local assembymembers to stop playing dumb and genuinely fight for transparency and honest government. Now is the time to put your money where your mouth is, for the whole state is watching. Dodge Landesman

Will U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara drain the swamp? 16

February 5, 2015

LETTERS, continued on p. 28

Bharara is more ambitious than charges are solid TALKING POINT BY KEN PASKAR


peaker Sheldon Silver being pilloried in the press for accusations of corruption, I felt it’s time to take a hard look at the allegations being leveled against Silver and see them for what they are: character assassination, pure and simple. Lost in the ruckus is all the good that he has done for his constituents and the State of New York. That goodwill was shouted down by the rhetoric that has filled the air since news of the criminal complaint and the subsequent arrest became public. The New York media could hardly contain its glee in seeing Silver being accused of “kickbacks.” One newspaper went so far as to say, “It was a pleasure to see Sheldon Silver in handcuffs. For his offenses against New Yorkers have long been criminal.” The media took its cue from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who exclaimed that he was on a mission from God to clean up Albany single-handedly: “These charges go to the very core of what ails Albany,” he said, “a lack of transparency, lack of accountability and a lack of principle joined with an overabundance of greed, cronyism and self-dealing.” What is also lacking, however, is a single shred of evidence as to how “corruption in Albany” is connected in any manner to the charges brought against Speaker Silver. This is jury-pool tainting, fry ’em in the court of public opinion and damn the facts — basically, full-speed-ahead political one-upmanship. As a constituent of Speaker Silver, I have a slightly different view of recent events. I cannot find the words to express the extent of my appreciation and gratitude for all that he has done for Lower Manhattan. Let’s remember, during his tenure as speaker, he had to deal with the first World Trade Center bombing, then 9/11, Superstorm Sandy and Occupy Wall St., to name just of a few the events that not only affected his constituency, but the world as whole. He was able to get his constituency — my neighborhood, my community — the help it needed to put the community back together again after each of these events. Without his guidance and leadership, I am convinced that we in Lower Manhattan would not be where we are today.  I do realize that when you are in position of great power, people who are jealous of that power will try hard and long to knock you out. That is what happened here.  Let’s take a look at how the latest round of Silver-bashing got started. In an attempt to gain political leverage over the Assembly speaker, Governor Cuomo formed the Moreland Commission, the ostensible purpose of which was to root out corruption in Albany. By doing so, Cuomo sought to portray himself as a new Teddy Roosevelt taking on Tammany Hall politicians. In retrospect, one gets the sense that the Moreland Commission was formed so that Cuomo could ram his budget through the Assembly without having to deal with Assembly Speaker Silver. Political blackmail, if you will. Bharara, a man eager to claim a political scalp to help support his own ambitions, grabbed the documents collected by the Moreland Commission when it shut down. This was his chance. If this case succeeds, he will probably be a big enough name to be considered for U.S attorney general in the next

Accompanied by his attorneys and police officers, Sheldon Silver left Federal Court on the morning of Thurs., Jan. 22, after being arraigned on an array of corruption, extortion and fraud charges. A bit more than a week later, he had been forced by his Assembly colleagues to resign the speakership.

administration, no matter which party takes the White House. This naked ambition is all the more apparent after Bharara’s recent announcement that there may be more arrests.

Without Silver’s guidance and leadership, we in Lower Manhattan would not be where we are today.

It is perfectly legal for an attorney to accept referral fees for cases he does not work on — how those fees are paid is between the law firm and the attorney. There are many, many attorneys — especially in “of counsel” positions, like Speaker Silver — who do little work and receive millions of dollars in referral fees. This is the way the legal business is run.  Let’s also deal with the terminology here. Calling what Assembly Speaker is accused of doing a “kickback scheme” stretches the concept of a kickback. A kickback is what then-Governor Spiro Agnew did when he demanded that vending-machine operators in state buildings pay him 5 cents on every cigarette pack sold. That’s a kickback. By leveling trumped-up charges of fraud, the sole

intent of the powers that be seems to be to push Assembly Speaker Silver off of his pedestal, so that they can install their own person, who will be much more compliant to their wishes. But the U.S attorney has a long way to go before he can hang the Assembly Speaker’s scalp on his wall. All I ask is that let’s have the trial (if it does not get tossed out before then) in the court and not in the public. A man who has been a great benefactor to his constituents and the citizens of New York State deserves to be given respect and not have his reputation tarnished by scurrilous accusations.  While I expect nothing less from the media, the words and actions of the U.S. attorney are especially troubling and out of place. The lack of respect shown for the Assembly Speaker and the legal process that Bharara and the F.B.I. showed was shameful. There is a time and a place for U.S. attorneys to do their celebration dances. This is not one of them. Bharara and the F.B.I.’s preening in front of cameras was a deplorable display, reminiscent of elementary schoolboys who had just gotten out of school for the summer. They brought shame to their agencies, agencies which I deeply respect and admire, and to those who appointed them to those positions. In his 20 years as Assembly speaker and his almost 40 years as a member of the New York State Assembly, Silver did much good for his constituency and for the State of New York. His work — the public’s work — demands that he be given the proper respect, and not be subjected to the carnival atmosphere that the U.S. attorney and the F.B.I. created. Paskar is vice president, Lower Manhattan Democrats February 5, 2015


How one company adapted to the illegal-hotel law TALKING POINT

trained in particular departments according to their skills and clientele, and work with BY RICK LASSIN both hosts and guests to educate them on the n Jan. 20 Airbnb came head to law change and how it head with New York City lawaffects their particular makers at a hearing in an effort circumstances. The company also to change the “Vacation Rental Ban” consults city and state law of 2010. The City Council’s main government officials on concern is that a few hosts are reaping a regular basis in order the majority of rewards on airbnb by to gain a better underconducting illegal hotel activity. standing and interpreIllegal hotels increase the altation of the regulatory ready-serious New York City housing framework currently in crisis, and can endanger both travplace. elers and the communities in which During last month’s these illegal hotels operate. In short, City Council hearing, the City Council is intent on making businesses comply with the existing David Hantman, Airbnb’s head of global public policy, right,  told the City Council hear- Airbnb officials statlaw while the law’s opponents are at- ing on Jan. 20 that New York City should ease its restrictions against short-term rentals. ed that such oversight “Amsterdam, Hamburg, San Jose, Portugal, San Francisco, Portland and Paris have all passed would be unfeasible. tempting to change it.  Regardless of whether or not you new laws within the last year to clear the path for renting out one’s own home,” he testified. However, safeguards implemented by smallbelieve the law should be amended, Despite this hurdle, New York Hab- er companies like New York Habiit does not change the fact that busi- themselves in order to comply with itat ( has rebuilt tat demonstrate that this is not the nesses must adhere to the law as it is the enactment of the 2010 law. One such example is New York its database one listing at a time by case. Conducting due diligence on currently written. This is not to say identifying apartments in compliance properties has proven to be successful that such adherence does not come Habitat, a licensed brokerage firm with the law.  for such companies, yielding a smallat a cost — in fact quite the opposite specializing in short-term furnished In short, New York Habitat pulled er (but competitively priced) database is true. Some residential leasing-bro- rentals, which removed 90 percent of its newly illegal listings — in dwell- of inventory.  kerage firms that used to operate in its vacation rental inventory in order ings of three or more units — and If large rental platforms are sincere a similar manner to platforms like to comply with the implementation of focused on rebuilding that database in their desire to protect the commuairbnb have adapted and reinvented the 2010 law.  from single-family homes, duplexes nity and combat illegal hotels, it begs the question — why don’t they take any measures to inquire as to the legality of the properties listed on their platform? The real estate industry is heavily regulated in New York. Licensed brokers are trained in providing real estate services, including the obligation to conduct due diligence on properties MAIL TO: One Metrotech North, 10th floor • Brooklyn, NY 11201 and disclose potential and eligible hotels. We also shifted concerns. Brokers can lose licensure if our marketing efforts toward long- they fail to abide by such obligations.  YES! I want to receive The Villager every week of the year. term rentals to keep up revenue while Listing platforms such as Airbnb, replenishing short-term database. however, are not held accountable CHECK ONE: New Subscription Renewal The company continues to work in the same manner for rentals they tirelessly to revamp its entire data- facilitate. Federal legislation provides (New Subscription $29•Renewal $24, for 52 weeks, by check or credit card, will be added to your current subscription) base in a good-faith effort to comply immunity for such platforms by not with the law change. This involves holding them responsible for what Name: a comprehensive process of due dil- users post. In other words, the onus igence, such as only listing apart- is entirely on the ill-equipped host to Address: ments that have been visited and determine the manner in which the City: State: Zip Code: checked by a licensed agent (includ- property can be lawfully rented. Email: Phone: ing vacation rental properties that There is a way to operate as a vacaCard Type: [ ] Visa [ ] Mastercard [ ] Amex [ ] Discover are fully exempt from the short-term tion rental business within the bounds rental legislation). Card Holder’s Signature: of the law. This is not primarily an isThis endeavor also involves creat- sue of innovative technology versus Credit Card Number: ing separate departments for rentals stodgy bureaucracy. Rather, it’s more Exp. Date: Security Code: of less than 30 days and rentals of an issue of a corporation’s responsibil30 days or more and determining ity to follow the laws and regulations in which departments (if any) an ac- of the community it claims to serve. commodation can be lawfully rent ed. New York Habitat’s agents are Lassin is legal counsel, New York Habitat PHOTO BY WILLIAM ALATRISTE/NYC COUNCIL



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February 5, 2015

The Valentine’s Adventures of an Underemployed Urban Elf BY REV. JEN (



hen asked to write a Valentine’s Day-themed column, I was hesitant. If you recount my V-Day column from last year, I was happy in love, enjoying hijinks with my boyfriend of four years. And, if you remember the column that immediately followed, you might also recall he dumped me — on Valentine’s Day. While there is truly nothing worse than Christmas, Valentine’s Day gives it a run for its money. There’s not much you can do when you get dumped. If you’re insane, you can always stalk your ex, in which case you might end up in Riker’s (and you should). You can curl up in the fetal position, cry and not get anything accomplished or you can pick up a pen or a paintbrush and try to express your anguish through art, which is what I did. I also spent countless hours hanging in the Troll Museum with my BFF, Faceboy, who’d also recently been dumped. One memorable evening, as we both wept into our Budweisers while wondering how anyone could possibly dump two of the most awesome people in NYC, my buzzer rang. It was Joe Heaps Nelson, a wonderful painter who sort of looks like a cross between Jesus, a wizard and a pirate and therefore fulfills all of my fetishes. We first met probably 15 years ago at Mars Bar (25 E. First St., now a TD Bank that doesn’t serve cheap beer) and reconnected last summer at Lucky Jack’s (129 Orchard St.) It was shortly after my face met the Delancey Street sidewalk, providing me with a fat lip, bruised eyes and a bloody chin. I looked so horrific that

Joe and Rev. Jen give Puebla an “A” for their great food and great prices!

teens called me “Two-Face” and my former employers at The Tenement Museum forced me to work in the basement like Quasimodo. Despite my appearance, Joe thought I was cute and funny. Hoping we could be friends, I gave him my buzzer number. He remembered it and when he saw that I was suddenly single on Facebook, he used it. My face had already healed and soon thereafter, my

broken heart. We’ve been together ever since. So, this column is about how to make this holiday not suck, even if you get dumped, are single, in an emotionally draining relationship or even a good relationship. If you do have a lover, it’s important to please them on this specific hell day so they don’t hate you. Here are my tips for both swingles and couples.


Diamonds are cliché (and expensive). Roses die and candy is bad for you. Assuming you’re not planning on DUMPING your partner on Valentine’s Day, it’s important to get creative and do something he or she REV. JEN, continued on p.20 February 5, 2015


Strategies for surviving the second-worst holiday cooking for your old man, keep in mind that the way to a man’s heart is not through his stomach — it’s through his penis. You could always just make him a Hungry-Man TV Dinner and enjoy a delightful Salisbury Steak, naked in bed. It even comes with a brownie!

REV. JEN, continued from p. 19

In this economy, dropping a lot of money at an overpriced joint will

Rev. Jen, workin’ the sake machine at Jin.




will remember forever. My first love surprised me in our school library one V-Day, carrying a dozen fake roses attached to a dozen Troll Dolls thus creating a “Troll Bouquet.” He told me later he was worried that this somehow hurt the Trolls, but I assured him it was one of the most romantic things anyone had ever done for me. If you don’t have money for Troll Bouquets, it’s possible to do something kind and memorable for your lover anyway. My BFF Faceboy recently wrote his most recent ladylove a list of “52 reasons why he loves her,” one for every week of the year. While the gesture was adorbs, what impressed me most were his math computation skills. There are plenty of other sweet gifts that don’t require a cent. Who doesn’t love a long, sensual massage? You could even write down sensual and sexual gestures on little pieces of paper, put them in a box and take turns pulling them out at random (ideas could include “massage your partner with your mouth” or “do a strip-tease for your partner”). When giving gifts, theft isn’t always a bad idea. Years ago, filmmaker, Nick Zedd, who I was dating at the time, stole a life-sized cardboard cutout of the Hobbits from a theater where “Lord of the Rings” was playing, then carried it to my front door. If you are going to give a generic heart-shaped box, take the candy out and fill it with something useful. My friend (and former Mr. Lower East Side) Mike Amato once gave me a heart-shaped box full of 200 Q-tips ensuring 200 “eargasms” throughout the year.

Rev. Jen gives Linda Blair a smooch at Halloween Adventure.

only serve to prove to your lover that you’re an idiot who doesn’t know how to save. Instead, go to a place where the food is awesome and inexpensive. Avoid any place that has

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February 5, 2015

a velvet rope outside because good food is far more romantic than trendy food or waiting in line outdoors in the freezing cold. Whatever genius invented Valentine’s Day decided it should fall on what is often the coldest day of the year. Some Suggestions: Joe and I often dine at Jin (252 Broome St.) for their happy hour — where items such as sushi, shumai, salad, beer and wine are only $3.50 and the food is delicious. I’m also a fan of Puebla Mexican Food & Coffee Shop (47 First Ave.), an unassuming little joint that serves great burritos. My friend, Christopher, suggested packing a picnic and having said picnic in a secret, unexpected spot like under a coat rack in a department store. If you don’t feel like going out, cooking at home is always an option. But ladies, if you plan on

If you are single and want to “hook up,” it’s never a bad idea to head to a bar on February 13, where plenty of lonely people will be dousing themselves in liquor in order to forget the upcoming holiday. You might get lucky and end up with a date the next day. It’s also fun to go out with other single friends on Valentine’s Day and ruin other happy couple’s dates. Head to a romantic movie, pretend to fall asleep and snore dramatically or simply make fart noises. Or pick up a bottle of “Liquid Ass,” a fart spray that I’ve used to clear more than one annoying bar. Just wear gloves if you use it, because if it leaks you will, in fact, smell like liquid ass, ensuring continued singlehood (both products are available at Amazon and elsewhere). A company called Westminster also makes an “Annoying Sound Machine” that generates over 20 sounds at the push of a button — including nails on a chalkboard, dentist drill, alarm clock, cats fighting and more. Hoping to acquire my own, I headed to Halloween Adventure with Joe and my trusty photographer friend, John Thomas Foster, where we obtained a similar “Pocket Disgusting Sounds Machine,” which features puking, farting and belching sounds. We then took said device to a screening of “American Sniper” and attempted to have fun with it — but “American Sniper” was so bad that it’s the first film I’ve ever walked out of. (Not a political opinion, but one based on 15 years of being a professional writer who has made a bunch of movies. It was so cartoonish and poorly written, I half expected a G.I. Joe PSA to follow it. Mission Fail!).

CURL UP WITH A GOOD BOOK (more specifically my new book)

Whether you are in a relationship or not, sometimes a book is preferable to another human. That said, I have a new book out and you should buy it ASAP. “June” is my first novREV. JEN, continued on p. 21

Swingles and couples rejoice: Rev. Jen’s Valentine’s Tips REV. JEN, continued from p. 20

el (thought it’s my sixth published book) and it’s the only book I’ve ever self-published under an imprint called Art Star Scene Press a.k.a. ASS Press. Co-founded with my friend Bruce Ronn, ASS Press seeks to publish things that are actually underground and save the last vestiges of bohemia from the plight of hipsterdom. Set in early ‘90s New York City, “June” tells the story of a young artist who takes on work as a professional submissive in a Manhattan S&M dungeon. Featuring a cast of characters ranging from her artist friends on the Lower East Side to her millionaire clients on the Upper East Side, it sheds light, not only on the all too common hypocrisy of the wealthy, but also on the fact that we are often happiest when we have nothing to lose. It’s also really dirty. Based on my own experiences in the industry, it’s sort of like “50 Shades of Grey” — only well-written. Search “June, Reverend Jen” on Amazon to easily acquire this masterpiece of perversity. I’m hoping to bring it to local bookstores soon.

the wild minds of Reverend Jen Miller and Ryan Michael Ford, but after looking at this show, you will see fur and fuzz everywhere. Your mind will be blown open to the idea that these psychedelic characters and events really do inhabit the realms of hipster normality.” The opening is from 1-5 p.m. on Feb. 15, and champagne will be served. The price of having your pineal gland explode while enjoying this awesome art is a subway ride to Queens. Through Feb. 28, at Reservoir Art Space, Inc. 659 Woodward Ave. Ridge-


If you’ve ever been to one of my book parties, you know they are awesome. Instead of boring authors droning on about their dull, sexless lives and then going home sober, you will likely find me reading something that would make Henry Miller blush then par-taying until the wee hours. The event will witness both the launch of “June” and the beginning of Art Star Scene Press. There will be bands (T.B.A.), comedians, a spanking booth, readings from the novel and more. Best of all, it’s free! Tues., Feb. 17, 8–11 p.m. at Lucky Jack’s, 129 Orchard St.

wood, NY, Queens. Seneca M train stop, or Myrtle L train.


If, say, your boyfriend or girlfriend decides to dump you on Valentine’s Day, realize it’s not really that big of a deal. It’s simply a rejection of your heart, soul and mind. Accept the fact that the one who dumped you is a horrible person and simply move on. Or go have fun utilizing the aforementioned tips.


If on Feb 15, you are hung over from sex, chocolate and alcohol, you will be in the perfect state of mind to view “Fur Flies” featuring adorable, furry paintings by Ryan Michael Ford and me! According to the press release: “These tripped-out furry creatures and fuzzballs exist only in



Saturday Family Theater is back in Greenwich Village! Bozomoon Productions In Association with

The Telling Company Presents


Rev. Jen rides a unicorn at “Fur Flies.”

SHOWS EVERY SATURDAY 11AM & 1PM (Through May 9th)



Fashion Week photos lift the game face veil Litovsky sees ‘visual sociology’ backstage, on catwalk, in crowds PHOTOGRAPHY DINA LITOVSKY: FASHION LUST Through February 26 Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. At Anastasia Photo 166 Orchard St. Btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.


Call 212-677-9725 Visit Artist Info:



A crowd watches the Issey Miyake runway show at Paris Fashion Week, Spring 2014.

behind the scenes. To fully appreciate Litovsky’s point of view in this “Fashion Lust” exhibit, it helps to remember that these biannual spectacles used to be exclusive events for a select group: fashionistas and A-List celebrities. Not so long ago, before the camera phone, the rules of behavior were simple and strict. If you were privileged enough to sit in the front row, you were told to put on your game face, not lean forward, and make sure your legs were under your seat — and never, ever take photographs. Anyone who used a camera ran the risk of being ejected from the show. Unauthorized pictures might compromise the image of an industry that took pride in


ashionistas of the world, rejoice! New York Fashion Week (Feb. 12-19) is almost here — those eight chaotic, glamour-filled days where high profile fashion designers and brands send supermodels strolling down the runway to show off their new collections to department store buyers, celebrities and media people all interested in seeing what’s next (and what’s not). Hordes of photographers maneuver to capture the models’ every scripted movement. Backstage, models stay cool and composed, knowing photographers and Instagrammers are keeping them under constant surveillance. But photographer Dina Litovsky is definitely not one of the pack — and when you see how she managed to peel away the protective insulation surrounding the activities of Fashion Week in New York, London and Paris, you may be amazed by what goes on

Designer Jason Wu and models pose for photographers after his Spring 2013 show in New York City.

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February 5, 2015

keeping information to itself. The models, designers and celebs didn’t want to be seen without their poker face on or with their guard down, which could ruin a carefully crafted image. But now, bloggers in the audience with digital cameras, iPads and iPhones can instantly post on social media what they see and feel, giving their audiences a very different perspective. The fashion world was entirely fresh territory for Litovsky when New York Magazine gave her the assignment to go backstage to photograph

the 2012 Spring/Summer New York shows. The editors liked her pictures so much, Litovsky got the assignment to photograph the 2013 Paris shows. The photographer says, “I wasn’t at all into fashion. I had to look at a copy of Vogue like a textbook. When I went to a show and asked what Marc Jacobs looked like, I got a stare like…who let her in here?” But New York Magazine hadn’t hired Litovsky for her fashion expertise. The editors recognized her FASHION LUST, continued on p. 23

Guard down, game on, in the world of glamour FASHION LUST, continued from p. 22


talent and a unique style after seeing her work from “Untag This Photo,” her project on New York City nightlife in clubs, parties and bars, which captured social performances and group interactions. The photographer explains, “I’d become interested in how women react to cameras. There are no more walls between public and private lives and I was fascinated with how women are responding to this.” Litovsky, who earned a BA from NYU in psychology and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2010, didn’t take her first photograph until the age of 24. Even so, she quickly found her niche by integrating her ideas and knowledge of psychology into photography. She thinks of her work as “visual sociology,” explaining, “I’m exploring how culture influences people’s behavior.” Shooting “Fashion Lust” over four seasons gave Litovsky opportunities to explore and experiment. She looked for those intimate, fleeting moments that other photographers didn’t or couldn’t see. “There were probably 20 photographers for every model,” she recalls, “so the models aren’t really aware of who’s shooting what. Photographers usually want the game face, the beauty shot. But when I shot something else instead, some people became suspicious of my motives.” In her search for an out-of-the ordinary shot, Litovsky would observe a model’s body language and look for any micro-gestures — telltale movements like a tightly clenched fist that belie a model’s smiling face. “The models are so composed, always guarding their image,” she says. But sometimes they do let their guard down — and when a model at the 2014 NY Shows let out a big yawn, Litovsky finally got the picture she’d wanted after four seasons of waiting and watching. Her use of off-camera flash separates the subject from the background and adds to the edginess. It also shows the influence of her mentor, Bruce Glidden, known for his in-yourface, take-no-prisoners style. If you visit the gallery, you can’t miss or ignore the 40x60-inch image on the back wall. It’s a mesmerizing picture of a crowd of about 60 people at a 2014 Paris show, with about half of them holding phones or iPads. I see this as the photographer’s take on visual sociology as well as contemporary social commentary. Are these people here to see the show or just to Instagram it to their followers? By Instagramming where they are and what they’re seeing in real time, they’re saying to their audiences, “I am here and you are not” — or maybe just reinforcing their cool factor.

A model yawns while getting ready backstage at the Rodarte fashion show. New York Fashion Week, Spring 2013.

Litovsky explains that she’s always pushing to capture an image that digs underneath the layer of glamour but doesn’t ridicule anyone. So when she spotted designer Jason Wu with a bunch of well-placed lipstick kisses on his cheek and surrounded by glamorous models, she literally tripped over a guard to get the shot before Wu’s publicist was able to wipe away the kisses (and any trace of reality). It’s the juxtaposition of the sober with the silly. And she was also in the right place at the right time to capture another unauthorized moment: a sunglass-wearing, long-nailed, flamehaired woman playfully grabbing the butt of another attendee passing by. Again, Litovsky uses off camera flash to highlight the main subject, darken the background and tell the story. Fashions come and go — but work like this will always be in style. Norman Borden is a New York-based writer and photographer. The author of more than 100 reviews for and a member of Soho Photo Gallery and ASMP, his image “Williamsburg” was chosen by juror Jennifer Blessing, Curator of Photography at the Guggenheim, for inclusion in the 2014 competition issue of “The Photo Review.” He is also exhibiting in Soho Photo’s annual Krappy Kamera ® exhibition, through Feb. 28. Visit



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February 5, 2015





Man and machine do the Fred and Ginger thing, in “Huang Yi & Kuka.”



Although cell phones and flat screen TVs are old news, the long-promised sentient androids of science fiction have yet to make an appearance. But we do have robots toiling away on assembly lines, whose precision and fluidity rarely falters or wanes. Might they, with proper motivation, aspire to use those qualities for artistic expression rather than mindless servitude? Taiwanese dancer, choreographer and inventor Huang Yi, who grew up watching his parents teach tango, spent much of his childhood longing for a robot companion. In this graceful blend of modern dance, visual art and automation technology, Huang plays Geppetto to a German-made KUKA industrial robot — endowing it with lifelike expressive abilities and asking his audience to consider the implications of collaboration between humans and robots. Developed over a three-month period, it’s the first residency from QA Ring — an international consortium focused on creating and touring digital performance art. See Huang’s website ( for video clips from Phase I of this project, as well as other works that utilize the music of Bach (whose Partita for solo violin, along with original material by Ryoichi Kurokawa, comprise the “Kuka” soundtrack). Feb. 11–17. Wed.–Fri. at 8 p.m. Sat./ Sun. at 3 p.m. & 8 p.m. Mon./Tues. at 8 p.m. At 3LD Art and Technology Center (80 Greenwich St. at Rector St.). For tickets ($30), call 866-811-4111 or visit

Author/storyteller Michele Carlo (left) and comedian/pundit Leighann Lord are featured performers at No Name Comedy Variety’s 21st Anniversary shows.



February 5, 2015


What’s better than a cheap laugh? A free one — in the form of a well-constructed punchline, an absurd song or a lusty anecdote from the memoir of a hard-living veteran comic. You’ll get all of this at any given installment of producer Eric Vetter’s “No Name Comedy/Variety Show,” which never charges a cover or requires the purchase of a drink (a good idea, though, considering the Tiki bar setting). As for the modest

title, don’t think you’re walking into some rinky-dink amateur showcase. The folks behind the mic are wellknown on the NYC comedy circuit — and this month, “No Name” celebrates its 21st anniversary with some of its most familiar faces. The Feb. 13 lineup includes podcaster Liam McEneaney ( and pundit Leighann Lord ( On Feb. 20, alt-folk singer-songwriter Jessica Delfino (founder of the New York Annual Funny Songs Fest) and storytelling author Michele Carlo (“Fish Out Of Agua”) are among the guests. Stay for 9 p.m. music sets. House band The Summer Replacements play soul, R&B and originals on Feb. 20, with their guitarist Jordan Okrend doing a solo set of original tunes the previous week. Fri. Feb. 13 & 20, 7:30 p.m. at Otto’s (538 E. 14th St. btw. Ave. A & B). No cover, no minimum. For info, call (212) 228-2240 or visit

Rebel Theater Company chronicles the achievements of female AfricanAmerican scientists, in “Black Footnotes.”

What’s been glossed over, misappropriated or simply consigned to history gets the front-and-center placement it deserves, in Rebel Theater Company’s social justice-minded productions. Last year’s Black Panther Party-themed “Othello” and Hurricane Katrina-infused “Salome” burned on all cylinders and worked on many levels, with playwright/ director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj filling Nuyorican Poets Cafe with an extraordinarily nuanced ensemble of charismatic young actors — many of whom are among the 34 who tell the story of “Black Footnotes,” which chronicles the lives and achievements of female African-American scientists. Rebel Theater returns to the Nuyorican in April, with Adam Mace and Kaitlyn Schirard’s Dixie-set adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet.” “Black Footnotes” is performed Feb. 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 & 12 at 7 p.m. Feb. 8, 12 & 14 at 3 p.m. At Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 E. Third St. btw. Ave. B & C). Admission is $20 if purchased online, and $25 at the door ($15 for students and seniors, at the door). For reservations and info, visit or call 212-780-9386. Find artist info at

Silver steps down as speaker as Heastie steps in SILVER, continued from p. 15

she had initially expressed support for Silver after the news first broke of the serious charges against him. Silver, she had stressed then — seemingly reflexively — was “innocent until proven guilty.” Longtime members of the Assembly, many of whom considered Silver a friend, took his downfall harder, she admitted. “The longer you’d been there, the longer you knew him — and you felt sad,” she said. “People that hadn’t been there as long were like, ‘Well, that’s bad… .’ ” Indeed, Richard Gottfried, the Assembly’s longest serving member at 44 years, for example, initially had said that New Yorkers and the Assembly Democratic majority “needed” Silver to remain as speaker. “I have confidence that Speaker Silver, with the strong support of the Assembly majority, will continue to do the job of working for a progressive agenda while the current charges are being resolved,” Gottfried had said the day after Silver’s arrest. “There is no one in public life in New York who has fought more effectively, for decades for almost everything I care about in public policy than Sheldon Silver.” However, Brian Kavanagh, a relative newcomer in the non-term-limited Assembly, having only been elected seven years ago, ultimately called for Silver to step down. The speaker, he said, had “lost the confidence of a majority of our conference.” Sounding seemingly reform-minded, a group of assemblymembers dubbed the “Suburban Caucus” also said Silver had to go — but then quickly threw their support behind Bronx Democratic Party boss Heastie. State Senator Brad Hoylman, for one, had tweeted soon after Silver’s arrest that it was “another shameful day in Albany” and that Silver “should resign for the good of the

people of New York.” For now, at least, Silver, a native Lower East Sider, will keep his 65th Assembly District seat, which he has held since 1976. But he would have to relinquish it if convicted of a felony. “His intention is to fight because he feels that he’s innocent,” Glick said. “The charges are serious, for sure, and distressing. I’m sure there will be an indictment at some point — but he hasn’t been indicted yet.” As reported in The Villager’s Scoopy’s Notebook, Silver also told his barber at Astor Place Hairstylists, Valentino Gogu, “I will beat them.” As for who might replace Silver if he vacates the Lower Manhattan seat, names mentioned include District Leader Paul Newell, Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin and Alan van Capelle, former executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. “An Asian person would be a very good choice, considering the population,” offered Hank Sheinkopf, the veteran Democratic political strategist. As for Silver’s replacement as speaker, last week, The New York Times published an investigative article raising questions about Heastie, “Speaker Candidate Drew Ethics Panel’s Notice.” The article noted that the Moreland Commission had probed his unusually high number of travel reimbursements and unitemized expenses. The Times also reported that Heastie has a large credit card debt, from $20,000 to $50,000, plus an aggressive pit bull that has bitten two neighbors — one of them twice. According to the Times, the commission “subpoenaed his campaign’s bank records to see whether he was using political donations for personal expenses, records show.” However, the paper noted, the commission was halted from finishing its work, and Bharara has shown no interest in Heastie, whose potential violations of campaign spending are “a far cry

from out-and-out graft,” in contrast to, for example, Silver’s $4 million in alleged payoffs and kickbacks. On Tuesday, leading elected officials were quick to praise Heastie’s elevation to speaker, which instantly makes him one of the state’s most powerful politicians. “New York City needs a strong voice in Albany — and the election of Carl Heastie as speaker of the state Assembly will ensure that our needs are heard and met,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “There is a lot of work ahead, including increasing affordable housing, expanding quality education programs, and lifting wages. My team and I look forward to working with Speaker Heastie and the Legislature to push an agenda that moves New York forward.” Governor Cuomo said, “In accepting this responsibility on behalf of his colleagues, Speaker Heastie has stepped forward at an incredibly important time for New York as a whole, and I look forward to working with him to enact an aggressive agenda that ensures economic opportunity for all, improves and reforms our education system, ensures justice in perception and in reality, and restores trust in our government.” Assemblymember Gottfried, in a statement, said, “It is critically important that the Assembly has now come together in support of a new speaker and to see to it that a progressive agenda continues to move ahead — including reducing economic inequality, providing healthcare for every New Yorker, supporting public education, protecting and

strengthening the rent laws and tenants’ rights, advancing human and civil rights, implementing criminal justice reform, protecting our environment, and achieving campaign finance and ethics reform. “Like every individual, Assemblymember Silver deserves due process,” Gottfried added. “But the situation became too disruptive to his ability to lead the Assembly and to the Assembly’s ability to do the people’s work.” Linda Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side in the Assembly, said she believes Heastie will, in fact, be a reformer. “Speaker Heastie shares my desire to see reform both within and outside the halls of Albany,” she said. “He is committed to restoring power to the hands of the members, and will be dogged in his support of issues that matter to New Yorkers, such as affordable housing, women’s equality and raising the minimum wage, among many others. I look forward to working with Speaker Heastie to bring about a new day in Albany, one in which the public can again place their faith in their elected officials.” On Tuesday, Heastie laid out his initial ideas for reform, including creating a new Office of Ethics and Compliance led by a non-legislator, capping how much outside income Albany legislators can earn, and requiring greater reporting of lawmakers’ outside income. “We will change the cynicism into trust,” Heastie said. “Our state deserves a government as good as its people.”

February 5, 2015



February 5, 2015



Make sure your business or service is included! The must-have guide to community, educational, health, and recreational resources. This year’s handbook will also highlight the Best of Off-Off Broadway theaters in the downtown area.

To advertise, email or call: 718 260 8340

February 5, 2015


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Time for Albany term limits

to vote on it. Council bills that go nowhere are the opium of the people. The City Council needs to vote on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act or get off the pot.

To The Editor: We badly need term limits. The speaker post should not be a lifetime or until-indicted position.

Alfred Placeres Placeres is president, New York Federation of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce

Continued from p. 16

Michael Gorden

Tarnished Silver supporters To The Editor: Re “Shel-shocked: Silver to resign as speaker over corruption charges” (news article, Jan. 29): It’s fascinating to see local pols trying to talk their way out of this. The fact is, everyone knew Silver was corrupt, and defenders like Glick are unindicted co-conspirators. Why defend his so-called “accomplishments,” when almost all of them were driven by personal greed and special interests — not the common good? Do the ends really justify the means? Matt Apfel 

Albany enablers embarrass To The Editor: Re “Shel-shocked: Silver to resign as speaker over corruption charges” (news article, Jan. 29): So much for the myth of speaking truth to power that used to be a part of Village politics. It’s a pathetic dereliction of the public trust. Our elected leaders (and voters) point to Kansas and Arizona politics as national embarrassments, yet allow the most entrenched and embarrassing of all, Albany, to fester and become even worse. Good for Brad Hoylman for being the only one with any guts. Patrick Shields

Council’s same cynical game To The Editor: Re “Mayor and speaker are M.I.A. on small businesses” (talking point, by Sharon Woolums, Jan. 22): Déjà vu all over again. The City Council game plan on any bill that addresses exorbitant rent increases will be the same as it has been since former City Councilmember Ruth Messinger introduced her bill during the Koch administration. The Council will just run out the clock. Stall, stall and then stall some more. The Council will call for more studies, hearings, legal opinions, etc. No bill has ever made it to the Council floor for a vote, and this is by design. Councilmembers can hold press conferences and pledge their support for a remedial bill as long as they are not required


February 5, 2015

Restores your faith To The Editor: Re “Finding common ground in sound; Religious groups jam together for one love” (news article, Jan. 29): Thank you so much dear Villager for covering this, the Sixth Annual Spiritual Sounds evening. I know you and all present felt a genuine, infectious, deep joy with being together in one room. We rotate the host site each year. Last year was in the wonderful Town and Village Synagogue. Our first was held at Middle Collegiate Church, then Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, then the Bhakti Center, etc.  It’s important to note here, the person who did the lion’s share of the work, the prime organizer for this year’s event, was Father Chrisopher Calin. In addition to him, thanks are due to Father Michael Suvak and Tom Downey and their beautiful Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection on E. Second St. We are so indebted to them and their congregation for welcoming us to such a beautiful, heartwarming evening.  Father Calin and Rabbi Larry Sebert of Town and Village Synagogue read aloud our Joint Affirmation Statement of the Local Faith Communities of the East Village, which the faith leaders wrote together after the first official gathering at the Sixth St. Community Synagogue in May 2009: “We, the local faith communities of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, stand here together before you in peace, and as one humanity. “Here in the Lower East Side, with its over250-year history of people from all corners of the world, all faiths, languages and cultures, seeking refuge from great oppression, hatred and poverty, we have had to learn and re-teach ourselves repeatedly about the advantages of and the goodness in tolerance and respect while living side by side.  “Let us honor the work of those generations before us who labored together, to feed, nourish, educate ourselves, build bridges, share our joys and cultural celebrations, and to establish our unique houses of worship next to each other.    “We gather toward healing (in times of acts of hatred/prejudice), prevention, respect and understanding, in the strength of our deep common values. We wish to encourage and reflect the greatest shining strength of our city and our nation, the best in us, our unity in our diversity.” Anthony Donovan

A beautiful evening To The Editor: Re “Finding common ground in sound; Religious groups jam together for one love” (news article, Jan. 29): It was indeed a beautiful evening to see the different places of worship all in one accord. How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Certainly we know there is no segregation with God. Evette Clarke

Was dogs’ best friend To The Editor: Re “Robert Marino, 61, leading voice for city’s dog owners” (obituary, Jan. 29): Bob was an amazing man. As Lynn said, every dog owner in New York City owes him a debt of gratitude. New York’s current off-leash accomodations would most likely not exist without Bob. And he was always available to consult with dog groups from other parts of the country on establishing dog parks and off-leash areas. He is sorely missed. Mary McInerney

Good matzo memories To The Editor: Re “And that’s how the matzo crumbles; Streit’s to make exodus from Lower East Side” (news article, Jan. 22): When I was a child living on Rivington St. in the early 1950s, my mother and I would sometimes walk over to Streit’s to be handed a fresh, warm piece of matzah from one of the bakers. There was a window, perhaps there still is, from which they would hand it to you. All these years since, I have always bought Streit’s matzo — in Cambridge, Mass., and now in Central Vermont. I go out of my way to find it because I have always thought it tastes the best. I didn’t know if this was only nostalgia or something I was really tasting. Based on your farewell article, it really was something special in their baking process, the natural cooling you describe. I hope they keep this quality in their next place of business. I’ll be on the lookout Passover 2016.  Michele Clark E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@ 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.

Board 3 backs initiative for a gardens district C.B. 3, continued from p. 1


Mendez is currently reviewing legislative options for gaining eventual City Council approval for the effort, a spokesperson said in a Feb. 2 e-mail. “I expected there to be some resistance and I was very surprised at the overwhelming support of this vote. I’m stoked,” said Ayo Harrington, a C. B. 3 member who is leading the push for a community gardens district. More than 60 letters of support came from elected officials and community organizations, including Mendez, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Citizens Committee for NYC and Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, by the time the community board convened at University Settlement on Thurs., Jan. 29. An associated online petition had garnered at least 829 signatures by press time. Steven Frillmann, executive director of Green Guerillas — the city’s oldest community garden organization — issued a statement on Dec. in support of the plan. “The dozens of community gardens that now thrive in Community Board 3 are testaments to the skill, determination and creativity of community gardeners,” his statement said. “They provide countless service to their neighbors of all ages — healthy green spaces, recreation, food, cultural activities and educational opportunities.” The city-owned gardens are seen as vacant lots by city agencies, developers and housing advocates — development sites for future affordable or market-rate housing. With rents continuing to rise in the East Village and Lower East Side, and with Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious new affordable-housing plan, Harrington said she expected some of her colleagues at C.B. 3 might regard the establishment of the gardens district as limiting the potential for the future construction of affordable housing in the area. “The gardens are taking too much space and you know that’s the only way we can continue affordable housing in the neighborhood,” said Zulma Zayas, the only C.B. 3 member to vote against the board’s resolution. Many of the city-owned lots became community gardens after being abandoned by their owners during the 1970s and ’80s. Activists said the establishment of the district would recognize the work they did as they transformed garbage-strewn properties into inviting community green spaces. There were once more than 60 such community gardens within the C.B. 3 boundaries, but only 46 now remain, according to the board’s resolution.

Ayo Harrington, a garden activist and C.B. 3 member, hugged fellow gardeners after the full community board voted to recommend approval of the community gardens district plan.

Development claimed these lost green oases, spurring community gardening activists to search for a means to protect the remaining ones, according to activists. Last fall, supporters of Siempre Verde Garden, at Stanton and Attorney Sts., stymied an effort by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to get C.B. 3’s approval for a 16-unit housing project that would have displaced the garden from its two adjacent cityowned parcels. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s election last year created an opportunity to secure the future of all the surviving gardens through the community board and City Council, said Harrington. Outreach will continue in upcoming weeks to school principals, parents associations and local businesses, she added. Activists said in a statement following the board’s vote that they want to preserve the legacy of a “homegrown, gritty” neighborhood within the proposed community gardens district, rather than replacing that with a “manicured version.” For activists who have battled the city in the past over the sovereignty

Susan Howard spoke in favor of the district plan at the C.B. 3 meeting, as fellow garden activists Elizabeth-Ruf Maldonado and Aresh Javadi stood beside her and Gigi Li, C.B. 3 chairperson, listened, at far right.

of the city-owned parcels, the future looks bright. Beyond the advantages of the green spaces lies an economic potential, according to Claire Costello of the Lower East Side’s Siempre Verde Garden. Partnerships could arise between gardeners and the businesses in the in-

creasingly trendy neighborhood, she suggested. “I think it s going to be a very unique tourist attraction for the Lower East Side and East Village,” she said. “The combination of those gardens and their history just adds an awful lot to the community.” February 5, 2015



February 5, 2015

Former N.Y.U. star Ramsey stays in the game SPORTS BY ROBERT ELKIN


ajor league all-star games don’t come often to a venue, due to different circumstances and rules governing that sport, whether it be in baseball, basketball, hockey or football. The last time a basketball All-Star Game came to Madison Square Garden was in 1998 when capacity crowds turned out to watch the likes of Kevin Garnett and Michael Jordan, just to name a few. This All-Star Game is called the best of the best from the Eastern and the Western conferences. But the threeday program doesn’t only contain an All-Star attraction. It encompasses a rookie game, slam-dunk contest and other individual-player skill performances, both at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center in Brooklyn. While the game itself takes place Sunday night at the Garden in Manhattan and is usually an offensive showcase, the National Basketball Association will host activities at other sites, as well. An “old-timer” who expected to be on hand for some of the activities, especially the ones the Knicks are involved in, is Cal Ramsey, who nowadays goes around in a wheelchair as a result of a knee tear. Therefore, he plans to be at his residence watching the game on TV. With his disabilities, he is still able to perform his duties for the Knicks and also be an assistant coach for New York University. Ramsey at age 77 is still very much

Calvin Ramsey, in 1956-57, as a top forward for N.Y.U., left, and today, when he is both a goodwill ambassador for the Knicks and an N.Y.U. coaching assistant, right.

involved with basketball, although not as much on the actual court as he used to be. He is an alumnus of N.Y.U. He was an All-American star forward for the Violets in the late ’50s. He is the all-time leading rebounder at N.Y.U., collecting 1,101 caroms. His stellar college career was followed by a brief run in the NBA with the St. Louis Hawks, Knicks and Syracuse Nationals, where there were simply better players. In 1998 he underwent knee surgery, but still stays as active as he can for both the Knicks and N.Y.U., and tries not to miss a game. He has somebody usually take him around in the wheelchair. At half time of the games, he advises the N.Y.U. head coach and assistant coaches what to do differently in the second half, whether it be getting players to hit the boards harder, cut down on turnovers or step up their defense. He also helps the Violets on an individual level to improve their skills and

basketball IQ. Off the court with the Knicks, Ramsey, a force behind the team, stresses education for the kids, is involved in a goodwill program for youth and a stay-in-school program. He is an ambassador for Madison Square Garden and is a familiar figure at all of the team’s home games. In addition, he is involved in their summer camp for kids. Ramsey is a director of special projects and a community-relations representative for the Knicks. He also formerly served as a color commentator for the Knicks. And he still helps in recruiting high school players for the N.Y.U. team. Ramsey played at Commerce High School, which later became Brandeis High School, and in various summer leagues, but not the W. Fourth St. League. “I am not impressed with the W. Fourth St. League, because the court is too small,” he said. “But I do watch some games there.”

On the upcoming All-Star Game, he thinks it’s a great idea to bring it to New York again, for this is the mecca of basketball, and everybody wants to play here. “We expect a great enthusiastic crowd,” he said. “We’ll enjoy the game. New York City will be booming. Fans from all over the world come here. Nowadays, we have many players in the NBA from different countries.” On the current Knicks, Ramsey stated bluntly that they don’t have a good team. Phil Jackson had wanted to improve the team’s roster at the start of the season, by bringing in players who he wanted, Ramsey said. Of course, injuries to key players hurt the team. “We had a new coach and a new plan,” he said. “But if you’re not healthy and don’t have good players, you’re not going to win.” While the Knicks are struggling, the current N.Y.U. team is off to a decent start. They recently put on a thrilling game against Rochester but lost, 6460. Still, this team seems to be good enough to go to the NCAA Division III tournament. The Violets are led by forwards Evan Kupferberg and Costis Gontikas, along with guard Kaheem Harris, a very strong player, and have a chance to go all the way. Harris was recently named Player of the Week. Except for maybe a few games, the coaches have been very impressed with their team. “We developed a good inside-outside combination with Kupferberg and Gontikas, the big guys down low who can score, and an outside presence with Harris and Ross Udine, who can dribble and shoot well,” said a team spokesman.

Pats’ win deflates Hawks in an epic Super Bowl BY DEBORAH GLICK


lthough, I predicted that the Super Bowl would be a barn burner, no one could have foreseen that it would be a five-alarmer. Yes, I thought it would be a close game — the Patriots have had nothing but close Super Bowls — and this game didn’t disappoint. After the Patriots jumped out to an early lead, the Seahawks managed to hang around, which is the hallmark of any good team. Just before the half, the score was tied by the Seahawks by a gutsy call to throw for a touchdown with six seconds to go, instead of the safe 3-point field goal. The Patriots went into halftime shaking their heads. They should have been winning, yet somehow the score was tied. The Seahawks would not back down. Although the score was tied at

Deborah Glick last week had given a very slight edge to the Patriots.

halftime, the Patriots had a slight advantage. The Patriots’ coach, Bill Belichick, is known for his half-time “adjustments,” which means that any surprises in the other team’s defensive plan or offensive schemes are taken into account as the plan for the second half is prepared. Yet these adjustments were for nought, as the Seahawks came out

of the gate to start the second half firing on all cylinders and took control of the third quarter. The Patriots seemed flustered. With eight minutes left to go in the game, the Seahawks were sitting on a 10-point lead, and in possession of the best defense in the sport, seemingly poised to win their second consecutive Super Bowl. But the Patriots did not relent. After scoring consecutive touchdowns, the Patriots found themselves ahead in the final quarter, 2824, with two minutes left in the game. Then the Seahawks offense, which had stalled, kicked into gear as they moved down the field seemingly at will, knowing they needed a touchdown to win. And with one play, they were on the verge of yet another miraculous comeback. An incredible circus catch by Jermaine Kearse put the Seahawks on

the Patriot’s five-yard line. The stage was set for the Seahawks to triumph and the Patriots to suffer yet another devastating Super Bowl defeat. And then two plays later, a mere 36 inches from the end zone, with victory in sight, the Seahawks made a play call that will be questioned and debated for years. Instead of trusting their sturdy running back Marshawn Lynch, who had already run for more than 100 yards and had scored an earlier touchdown, they inexplicably tried a tight pass over the middle. A rookie safety from New England’s defense, Malcolm Butler, intercepted the Seahawks pass and cemented the win for the Patriots, who hadn’t won a Super Bowl for 10 years. No one who watched could be disappointed in the game, except of course for Seahawk fans, who experienced a playoff journey that they will not soon forget. February 5, 2015


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February 5, 2015

C = 78 M = 94 Y = 0 K =0

FEB. 05, 2015 THE VILLAGER  


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