The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
December 18, 2014 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 29
Fracking risks too big to allow drilling in N.Y., says Health commish BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
n Wednesday, it was announced that the New York State Department of Health has completed its public health review of hydrofracking and that Dr. Howard Zucker, the acting D.O.H. commissioner, has recommended that
fracking should not move forward in New York State. “I have considered all of the data and find significant questions and risks to public health which as of yet are unanswered,” Zucker said in announcing his findings at Governor Cuomo’s yearend cabinet meeting in AlFRACKING, continued on p. 14
BY ZACH WILLIAMS
growing national movement against police brutality and institutionalized racism showed no signs of waning in the days following a demonstration that brought tens of thousands of people through the streets of Manhattan on Dec. 13.
Longtime activists say they have seen nothing like the daily protests led by young people, which have inspired an increasing number of New Yorkers to participate ever since a grand jury announced on Dec. 3 that a New York Police Department officer would not face criminal charges for placing ACTIVISTS, continued on p. 16
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
#ThisStopsToday: Young activists take to streets, stores and social media
A marcher wore chains symbolizing America’s ongoing legacy of slavery and inequality at the start of Saturday’s mass protest.
Thousands march in a roar for justice on police killings BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he chant could be heard nearly all the way to Sixth Ave. on Saturday afternoon around 2 p.m. as droves of people — young and old, black, white, every skin color — began streaming out from Washington Square Park and onto Fifth Ave. for the Millions March NYC. “Hands up! Don’t shoot! Hands up! Don’t shoot!” they shouted as one over and over, their voices echo-
ing off the canyon walls of the avenue in the chilly air. Carrying signs saying, “Black Lives Matter” and “Ferguson Is Everywhere” or large cardboard cutouts of black hands raised in the air and a segmented multi-panel image of a black man’s eyes toted by 10 people stretching across the avenue, they came — and came, wave upon wave. A woman standing somewhere near the park arch fired up the crowd as she thundered into an electric
bullhorn, “We will shut New York City down! Shut — it — down!” “Hands Up!” she called out. “Don’t shoot!” the crowd roared back in response. “Take Fifth Avenue!” she exhorted them, though they already had. The march had a permit, with the route stretching from Washington Square up to W. 14th St., then west across to Sixth Ave., then MARCH, continued on p. 3
Pols put on the spot on small stores............page 11 Die-in outside chamber cop awards.............page 13 Oscar Brand still on the AM band.................page 15 Christmas and all that jazz..........page 20
SANTACON MELTING? Switching from the senior center to SantaCon, how did the inebriated St. Nicks and their elf sidekicks do this year? To hear Hoylman tell it, the rollicking (and retching) event and its revelers may finally be getting the message. “I think it was a smaller event,” Hoylman told us. “I believe SantaCon has finally ‘jumped the shark,’
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SAVING SENIOR CENTER: The news is sounding much better on the threatened senior day center at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, at Bleecker and Carmine Sts. State Senator Brad Hoylman tells us, “The archdiocese has stepped in and is facilitating negotiations between Greenwich House and Our Lady of Pompeii to renew the lease. Conversations involve segmenting the space and trying to agree on a price. If negotiations stay on track, this should conclude by the new year. It’s looking good.” Roy Leavitt, executive director of Greenwich House, which operates the senior day program, said, “Both sides have a commitment to make this work. The conversations are good.” He said the idea is to divide the space so that the seniors have their own area and the film crews or whoever else the church is renting out the space to have theirs. The dividers “may be temporary, may be permanent,” he said. As for the cost, they’re trying to figure out how much Greenwich House would have to pay for its portion of the basement’s electricity and air conditioning. “I’m very optimistic the senior center will be there,” Leavitt said. However, he added, “If we run into any bumps in the road, we won’t go quietly.”
made some feints at running for City Council in the past — though ultimately never did, not wanting to challenge the incumbent, first Alan Gerson and then Margaret Chin. Of course she ran for Manhattan borough president last year — but no one was going to beat Gale Brewer — and Mayor Bill de Blasio then tapped Menin to be D.C.A. chief, which sounds like a pretty solid gig for four to eight years. Raising some eyebrows, though, Menin has packed her agency with a number of former elected officials’ staffers. Among them are Mary Cooley, formerly disErik Bottcher, right, with Allen Roskoff, in 2012 celebrating Pride at the trict director for state Senator White House with President Obama. Daniel Squadron; Connie Ress, who worked for both or ‘jumped the reindeer,’ or whatever the appro- Christine Quinn and Mayor Mike Bloomberg; and priate expression is for an event that has run its Amit Bagga, who was a top campaign adviser on course. SantaCon isn’t cool or fun and I think peo- Anthony Weiner’s failed mayoral bid. Then again, ple are getting that message. I suggest they hold the maybe some people are just reading too much into event in Jersey City next year. At least it would save it. And as for what office Menin might want to run, commuting time for SantaCon’s participants.” As it’s anyone’s guess. Santa said to Rudolph: Whoa! MORE THAN AN INVITE: We skewered Roskoff NEW C.O.R.EY C.O.S.: Councilmember Corey last week over his campy holiday party invite, but Johnson’s new chief of staff is Erik Bottcher, who he called us to let us know that the e-card, and the fills the position left open when Jeffrey LeFrancois party it’s pitching, are no joke. “I got RSVPs from recently moved on. Bottcher was most recently some of the most powerful people in New York a local liaison for Governor Andrew Cuomo and State — even some of the people who were on the before that did two stints with City Council Speak- flier,” he told us. “I got e-mails from some people er Christine Quinn. “Eric is very well liked,” said saying, ‘Thanks for putting me on the invite — I Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal finally made it!’ ” In fact, Eric Bottcher has been Democratic Club. “He’s a magnet.” Paul Newell, among them. “He’s been on my Christmas invitaLower East Side Democratic district leader, said, “I tion — and he loves it,” Roskoff said. think Erik Bottcher is a get for Corey. He worked for Christine Quinn, so he knows the district well.” TALLMER MEMORIAL: A public memorial for In an article two years ago, the Wall Street Journal Jerry Tallmer will be held Mon., Feb. 23, from 5:30 also described Bottcher as having “acquired influ- p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Theater for the New City, at 155 ence after hours with New York’s glitterati, a set First Ave., at E. 10th St. It will start with a recepthat sees him as an informal political emissary [for tion at 5:30, according to Frances Monica Tallmer, the governor].” his widow. “Crystal Field donated it,” she said of the T.N.C. executive director’s generous offer of the A “CONSUMING” POLITICAL PASSION? It’s space. Tallmer, who died last month at 93, was a no secret that Julie Menin — the former longtime founding editor of the Village Voice, then a theater chairperson of Community Board 1 and current and arts critic at the New York Post and, in his last commissioner of the Department of Consumer Af- two decades, a prolific contributor to The Villager fairs — has long wanted to hold political office. She and its sister papers.
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Thousands march for justice on police killings MARCH, continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI
north up to W. 32nd St. and pivoting right around and back down Seventh Ave. and Broadway, ending at One Police Plaza next to the Brooklyn Bridge. In all, it was a 4.5-mile marathon hike lasting four hours. The number of people was estimated at 30,000. Many of them were young, and there appeared to be more white marchers than black. It was 10 days after a Staten Island grand jury had failed to push charges against Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who used a chokehold — banned by the New York Police Department — to take down and arrest Eric Garner on Staten Island. “I can’t breathe,” Garner, who was obese and asthmatic, repeatedly pleaded during the arrest, during which he died. It was all captured on a cell-phone video that has been seen around the world. The New York grand jury’s decision came close on the heels of a Missouri grand jury’s clearing of Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Asked what she thought about the march as it set out from Greenwich Village, Jess Miller, 34, who lives in Washington Heights and works as a waitress in Harlem, said it was a good outlet for all that she was feeling about the emotional issue. “I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “It feels good to have something physical to do instead of posting and posting [about it] on Facebook.” Asked if she thought the march would have an impact, she said, “You can’t bring attention to things unless you make a lot of noise.” A group of four SantaCon barcrawl revelers, two men and two women, were trying to cross the avenue at 12th St., but gave up in the face of the rushing river of protesters. “I’m not really sure how I feel about it,” said Colin Foley, 22, sporting shades and a red-and-white Santa hat and tunic, of the protest march. “It’s a pretty complicated issue. I understand why people are upset. It’s shades of gray. As a white male, a lot of these issues are about white males being the problem. I’m not sure how I feel about that,” he said before rushing off to join his friends on their way to a bar. The marchers turned left onto 14th St. “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” they chanted, as people lined the street — some
“I Can’t Breathe” and “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” the protesters cried out as they wended their way up to E. 32nd St. before heading back Downtown.
stood on top of a dumpster — watching and holding up their cell phones to film the historic event. As the demonstrators headed up Sixth Ave., some of the chants turned virulently anti-cop. “How do you spell ‘murder’!” some called out at one point. “N-YP-D!” came the response. Another hostile chant went “N.Y.P.D., K.K.K., how many kids did you kill today?” “Eric Garner, Michael Brown — Shut the whole system down!” they shouted. The sun was starting to set and the temperature drop. Near Herald Square, Jerry and Mary Raik, a teacher and a physician from the Upper West Side who looked to be in their 60s, said they didn’t plan to complete the whole route. The march, he said, was “sending a clear message that there are a lot of people that understand that the system is broken. It’s not about the cops, it’s not about the grand jury. It’s about who runs the country — the power elite.” His wife added, “There are a lot of people in jail that don’t belong in jail.” Yasmeen Chisolm, 23, from the Bronx, said when she was a student at SUNY Albany she had joined a protest march after George Zimmerman was cleared for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin two years ago in Florida. “It’s the same feeling — but maybe doubled over,” she said. “Even if they committed a crime, if they’re under a cop’s custody, the cop’s job
is to get them safely to jail, to keep them alive.” Asked if she felt the march would make a difference, Chisolm, a substitute teacher, said, “It’s going to take some time, but now is the time that change is really beginning. But I’m confident because it’s bigger than it ever was. Before it was for Trayvon. But now it’s more of a feeling of a big movement.” Ralph Mater, 23, a banker who lives in the West Village near the new Lenox Hill HealthPlex, said he was happy to see a very diverse turnout. He said that, growing up in the D.C. area, his white and black friends received different treatment from police who stopped them while driving, with the cops always going harder on his black friends. “You look on TV, every week there’s somebody that looks like me being killed by police,” he said. “As a person of color, you have to be very careful. They’re hunting you — it feels that way. They want us in jail or dead — it feels that way. There are a lot of good cops out there. But there is a subdivision where there’s a feeling of racism.” The protesters continued on through the Fashion District, past glum-looking Santas slumped by a building scaffold, silently watching them go by. On this day, overshadowed by the protest, no one cared about the Santas’ drunken antics. Near Paragon Sporting Goods on Broadway the march got a bit backed up. Asked if all the protest-
ing felt a bit like Occupy Wall Street, Greg Feliu, 19, a student at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, agreed that it did. “I was a part of Occupy, and chanting in the streets and blocking traffic is terrific,” Feliu said. “But I wonder what else should we do? I don’t have all the answers.” While Occupy’s message got diluted among many different goals, this protest movement is “more unified,” he noted. Lande Yoosuf, 29, from Brooklyn, who works in TV in development and casting, called the massive march “the first step of other steps that need to happen.” The problems that need to be stamped out are “police brutality [and] white supremacy,” she said. As for how to accomplish that, she said an “economic boycott,” referring to how a group of blacks in film and the arts had called on black people to boycott shopping on Black Friday. “Look at the Montgomery bus boycott,” she said. The march finally arrived at Foley Square. The word in the crowd was that “a hardcore group” would later try to take the Brooklyn Bridge, which did eventually happen. Two police officers on the bridge were injured when they were swarmed and attacked by protesters as the officers tried to arrest a man on the pedestrian walkway who they said was about to throw a garbage can down onto the bridge’s roadway. In a video of the two-minute scuffle, one protester is seen coming up behind one of the officers and yanking him down to the ground. One officer ’s nose was reportedly broken. A backpack containing three hammers that was left on the span, led police to arrest CUNY professor, Eric Linsker, 29, in Brooklyn, as the man who allegedly tried to throw the trash can. At the end of the march, at Foley Square, one woman in her 20s who didn’t give her name said she supported the protesters’ tactic of blocking traffic on the streets and highways, since these are public. “Power to the people!” she said. Similarly, another woman, who said she is a local academic and who didn’t want to give her name, said she was deeply interested in the concept of infrastructure as public property. The city’s bridges and roads are owned by the people, she said, and thus it’s completely justifiable to occupy them during protest actions. December 18, 2014
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SantaCon: It takes all kinds
SantaCon, known today as the boozy bro fest that no one wants in their neighborhood, began years ago in San Francisco as a nonalcoholic, playful, performance art-like happening. This year, the soused Santas and elves were particularly prevalent in Midtown. In Times Square, they included at least one Homer Simpson, a kid who definitely looked a little young to drink, and a golden-faced solar spirit — who was also spotted at September’s People’s Climate Change March — who bore an uncanny resemblance to a certain arts liaison to former City Councilmember Alan Gerson.
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December 18, 2014
PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
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Local pols condemn Garner decision, urge federal action DUSC REC LEAGUE BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ollowing the no indictment in Eric Garner’s killing, local politicians expressed their shock, sadness and outrage, and called for a federal investigation. They also all stressed that, despite the anger many people feel, protests should remain peaceful. “The Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner is a decision that I disagree with, but will respect,” said Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president. “This is yet another instance where the outcome is utterly, tragically out of proportion to the offense — in this case, for selling loose cigarettes on a commercial strip on Staten Island. “As I said after the Ferguson grand jury’s decision, we need reforms, we need training, but mostly we as a country need to address our racial disparities and the very real and devastating actions that are the result. We need to demonstrate our outrage peacefully and constructively and move ahead to make change.” Councilmember Rosie Mendez said that unless Pantaleo is kicked off the force, Police Commissioner Bratton must be fired. “I am deeply disappointed in a failure to indict Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold maneuver that led to the death of Eric Garner and for the failure of several N.Y.P.D. officers on the scene to intervene when Eric Garner repeatedly stated that he couldn’t breathe,” Mendez said. “This decision has marked another moment in New York and U.S. history where a person of color is killed and no one is held accountable. “The decision to not indict Daniel Pantaleo or Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, echoes a message to communities of color that our lives are not valued. We have seen this time and time again with the killings of Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez and Federico Periera. “I urge the Department of Justice to help bring justice not just to the family of Eric Garner, but to the Ramarley Graham family as well,” Mendez said, referring to the fatal shooting of Graham, who was unarmed, in his Bronx bathroom by police without a warrant to enter the apartment. “I call on Commissioner Bratton to permanently suspend Daniel Pantaleo and suspend the other officers at the scene,” Mendez said. “New Yorkers need action and answers, otherwise Commissioner Bratton must go.” Congressmember Nydia Velazquez said a “national conversation” on race and policing is needed. TheVillager.com
“This is not just a New York City problem,” she said. “The recent tragedies in Ferguson and Cleveland [where police killed a 12-year-old who had a toy gun] remind us that the deep rift of distrust between our communities and local law enforcement is a national problem — and one that demands a national conversation on race and police practices. Whether it is the Eric Garner case or the incident surrounding Akai Gurley, the young man from my district shot by a police officer...it is clear that issues of police abuse against minorities remain prevalent and demand a thorough response. In this case, the federal government should swiftly and thoroughly investigate to determine whether Eric Garner’s civil rights were violated. “I would also call on Mayor de Blasio to end the policy of ‘broken windows’ policing,” Velazquez said, “which too often results in law enforcement harassment of young men of color and fails to make communities safer.” Councilmember Margaret Chin said, “It’s shameful to allow N.Y.P.D. Officer Daniel Pantaleo a free pass rather than force him to stand trial for his actions. It’s a miscarriage of justice for the family of Eric Garner. It’s a disheartening blow to every New Yorker of color who knows that, for them, true equality has sadly not yet come.” Congressmember Carolyn Maloney said, “Eric Garner’s death was a tragedy and today [Dec. 3] is a difficult day for many New Yorkers. I believe the Justice Department should investigate this matter further. A complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding Eric Garner’s death and how a similar tragedy can be prevented in the future must also be undertaken.” Congressmember Jerrold Nadler said it’s incredible there wasn’t an indictment given there was a clear video of what happened. “The grand jury’s failure to indict the officer in the Eric Garner case is shocking and almost unfathomable,” he said. “Here you have a case of a videotape of an officer using an illegal chokehold — a hold that is known to be able to cause death, a hold that is illegal for cops to use — which caused the death of Eric Garner. It is hard to understand how there cannot be probable cause that a crime was committed — especially when there is a videotape. The fact that there won’t even be a trial is shocking. “I urge the Justice Department, which is already investigating the case, to proceed as quickly as possible with a view toward indictment for possible civil rights violations.”
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December 18, 2014
PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
‘Whose streets? Our streets!’ Thousands protest An estimated 30,000 people participated in Saturday’s massive demonstration against police killings of unarmed black men and, in particular, the lack of an indictment in the death of Eric Garner.
PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI
December 18, 2014
PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
December 18, 2014
POLICE BLOTTER Tire swing tragedy
PHOTO BY JASON B. NICHOLAS
Break away, break window About midway through Saturday’s mostly peaceful Millions March NYC, members of a breakaway contingent of about 100 protesters wearing masks attacked a police car parked on Madison Ave. between E. 28th and 29th Sts. that reportedly had two traffic agents inside. A rear side window was smashed and trash was left heaped on the back of the car. There were no injuries and no arrests.
Shooting suspect Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a suspect wanted in connection with a late-night shooting on Fri., Dec. 12, in front of 60 Avenue D. According to police, around 11:20 p.m. that evening, a 19-year-old male was involved in a verbal dispute with the suspect in front of the location, when the suspect brandished a firearm and shot twice, striking the victim in the chest and neck. E.M.S. transported the injured man to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, last seen wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt and dark jeans. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Crime Stoppers hotline, at 1-800577-TIPS (8477), or to submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting their them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.
ak S te
On Mon., Dec. 15, around 3:50 p.m., police responded to a 911 call of a man unconscious in the Tompkins Square Park playground. According to police, the man, Aleim Perkins, 39, of Harlem, had taken his niece to play in the playground, where for some reason he “began swinging the tire swing very violently, very strongly.” The tire hit Perkins and he was knocked unconscious — it wasn’t clear if he struck his head on the ground. Emergency medics gave Perkins C.P.R. at the scene but he was unresponsive. He was taken to Beth Israel hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. In the “interests” section of Perkins’s Facebook page only two things are listed: “My niece Leela” and “Being a great uncle.” After reports of Perkins’s death, locals wondered if the playground’s two tire swings would now be removed.
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Fatal fire Evelyn Dahab, 33, a writer and former bar owner, was found dead in her bed by firefighters responding to a blaze in her E. First St. apartment at 3 a.m. on Wed., Dec. 10. According to the Daily News, Dahab attended Barnard College, wrote a novel called “Incapacitated” and at one point co-owned Lucey’s Lounge, a bar on Third Ave. in Gowanus, Brooklyn. An overloaded power strip sparked the fire — which was confined to her unit in the five-story walk-up — according to Fire Department officials.
Soho plunge On the evening of Fri., Dec. 12, an unidentified woman apparently leapt to her death from the 11th floor of 110 Greene St. in Soho. According to a source who requested anonymity, the woman was in town visiting a relative.
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Father Aldo Tos, former pastor at St. Joseph’s OBITUARY BY ALBERT AMATEAU
ather Aldo J. Tos, who served as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village for 18 years until he retired in 2003, died Sept 21. He was 86. As pastor of St. Joseph’s, he presided more than 10 years ago over the restoration of the 1833 Greek Revival-style church building at Sixth Ave. and Washington Place. The restoration included an altar reconstruction, a new baptismal font and the restoration of a fresco mural patterned after Raphael’s “Transfiguration,” according to an obituary in Catholic New York, the newspaper of the New York Archdiocese. Tos had a distinguished career as an educator in addition to his pastoral services. From 1963 to 1969 he taught at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx where he was chairperson of the religion department. He then taught at Monsignor Farrell High School on Staten Island from 1969 to 1986. Earlier, he taught at Our Lady of Lourdes High
Father Aldo Tos.
School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., from 1960 to 1963. At Father Tos’s funeral at Holy Cross Church on W. 42nd St. on Sept. 26, Father Robert. J. Robbins,
pastor at Our Savior Church in Midtown and a student of Tos’s at Spellman, recalled Tos as “the ultimate teacher,” who inspired many of his students to go on to study for the priesthood. Born on Manhattan’s West Side to immigrant parents from northern Italy, Aldo Tos knew as a boy that he wanted to be a priest. He attended Holy Cross Elementary School, went on to Cardinal Hayes High School and, after graduating from Hayes, studied for the priesthood at Cathedral College. He then attended St. Joseph’s Seminary and was ordained in 1953. Tos was appointed curate of the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Poughkeepsie in 1957 and served there until he became a
teacher at Lourdes High School in 1960. At the same time he served as adjunct professor of religious studies at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. He had also been an adjunct professor at Loyola University in Chicago and at Fordham University in the Bronx. Tos earned a Ph.D. in the philosophy of education from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and pursued post-doctoral studies in biblical theology and scripture at Union Theological Seminary (Protestant) and General Theological Seminary (Episcopalian). His fi rst assignment as a pastor was St. Patrick’s Church in Richmond, Staten Island, where he served for about 10 years until 1986, when he came to St. Joseph’s in the Village. He returned to St. Patrick’s in 2012 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Staten Island parish, where he was co-celebrant with Cardinal Timothy Dolan. In an obituary in the St. Joseph’s newsletter, Alexander Glass, the parish secretary said, “We were flooded with calls from parishioners wishing to express their condolences, showing that Father Aldo is still deep in our hearts as we wish him farewell.”
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December 18, 2014
Transparency and trust in law enforcement are key
res and Antonio Reynoso’s proposed Right to Know Act, requiring police to inform citizens that, except where specific reason to suspect a crime exists, they have the right to refuse a search. That protection can help ensure that the mayor’s pledge to curb the abuses of stop-and-frisk becomes reality. The federal government role here is constrained by the primacy of states in law enforcement. But the Justice Department is right to consider civil rights charges against Pantaleo. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder took an important step last week in broadening the existing ban on racial profiling by federal law enforcement officials to similarly bar such practices based on sexual orientation, gender, gender Along Fifth Ave. in the Village at the start identity, religion and national of Saturday’s Millions March NYC. origin, as well. PHOTO BY TIM SCHENCK
he nation’s most significant news story in recent weeks underscores a critical shortcoming too big to ignore — that government, at all levels, too often fails in its obligations for transparency. Americans need to know that police conduct toward those that officers are sworn to protect is free of abuses. Americans need to know they can trust those in authority. A Staten Island grand jury’s failure to issue any indictment in the death of Eric Garner brought the issue of police accountability to a boil. Millions watched the video demonstrating that Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo applied a chokehold to bring Garner to the ground, and then kept pressure on his head as fellow cops pinned him there. The city Medical Examiner concluded Garner’s death was a homicide caused by compression of his neck and chest — with Garner’s health problems, including obesity and asthma, as contributing factors. What we don’t know is what ev-
idence was presented to the grand jury. At least when a grand jury similarly delivered no indictment in the Ferguson, Missouri, police killing of Michael Brown, we had the benefit of the full transcript of its proceedings, providing solid basis for public debate about that outcome. New York and other jurisdictions need to eliminate policies barring release of grand jury records. One lesson from the Ferguson transcript is that the close relationship between police and local prosecutors becomes problematic when potential police misconduct is at issue. Eric Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, is right in asking Governor Andrew Cuomo to give him interim authority — pending a permanent legislative solution — to intervene in cases where unarmed citizens are killed by police. It’s particularly frustrating that video documentation of Garner’s death did not change the outcome at the grand jury. Yet, surely Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken the right step in his pilot program for police wearing body cameras to document their interactions with the public. More evidence can never hurt.
Public trust in the New York Police Department would also be enhanced by City Councilmembers Ritchie Tor-
A version of this editorial first appeared in Gay City News, The Villager and East Villager’s sister publication.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The facts about park’s funds To The Editor: Re “‘What would Jane say?’ Raft of anxious questions about ‘billionaires’ island’” (news article, Dec. 11): Some people misunderstand the Hudson River Park’s funding structure and have opposed the substantial gift that will create a new, creative Pier55 out of the destroyed, unusable Pier 54. When Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and I succeeded in getting the state and city to
create the Hudson River Park and to provide $400 million for its construction, it was with the compromise that its operation be self-supporting from lease revenues and that it be established as a 501(c)(3) to raise private funds. It was to function as a public-private partnership that works with both sectors to build out and care for the park. Three years ago, Friends of Hudson River Park switched focus to raise private monies to support the park. Without such public support, we could not finish building out the park nor properly maintain it.
In the case of Pier55, the Trust leveraged public funding through private philanthropy — just like other public-private partnerships across the city for parks, cultural institutions and other public amenities. Doing so will free public monies to be spread more broadly throughout the park. Without the substantial gift of Barry Diller, the Trust does not have the means to rebuild Pier 54 and certainly not with the innovative architectural design and cultural use that will now be possible. One can philosophically argue that all of this should be supported by public funds. But it is fantasy to expect the state will provide the $120 million-plus to create Pier55 and millions more to finish and maintain the park. If we had stood fast that only public monies must support the park, we would still have rotting piers and an inaccessible waterfront. Seventy percent of Hudson River Park is now completed. The park’s funding structure should permit finishing and maintaining what is one of the best waterfront parks in the world. Franz Leichter Leichter is a former state senator, co-author of the Hudson River Park Act of 1998, and a current board of directors member of the Hudson River Park Trust
LETTERS, continued on p. 25
December 18, 2014
Mom-and-pop shops: Are they too small to save? TALKING POINT BY SHARON WOOLUMS
overnment is quick to act to save big business, even in cases when the latter’s own greed is the cause of its demise. Government’s justification for immediate solutions — for using taxpayer money to save big business — to maximize these companies’ profits is that they are “too big to fail” and vital to our economy. Meanwhile, long-established, healthy small businesses are forced to close in record numbers. Are they too small to save? As the number-one employer of resident New Yorkers for more than 26 straight years, small businesses are not small when it comes to jobs. They are the number-one pathway for social mobility for low-income families, and their impact is not small when it comes to helping provide neighborhood stability that gives character to a community. And these small merchants are not small in courage when they go into neighborhoods that others have abandoned, risking their lives, savings and futures by investing in that community. More important, they are not small in establishing New York City as the gateway to America for more than 400 years, the city of entrepreneurs and dreamers hoping to invest in the American Dream. They are indeed the “backbone of our economy and engine for job creation,” as every elected official’s campaign literature tells us. When then have so many of our politicians remained silent about finding solutions to stopping these businesses’ closings and saving jobs? The answer may be simple: Small businesses are small when it comes to campaign contributions. With big real estate PACs contributing huge amounts to candidates who continue making the real estate industry the number-one priority in New York City, landlords are not small at election time. No candidate made the closing of neighborhood businesses and the loss of jobs a serious issue in the last election. In fact, some claimed the number-one problem was “excessive tickets and lack of affordable loans.” Facing a crisis and going extinct, no small business would say they are going out because of fines from tickets. Our unresponsive elected officials have turned a blind eye to the most obvious problem facing us today. Small businesses cannot compete with big banks and big franchises able to pay exorbitant rents. Will it take the Village streets filled with TheVillager.com
From left, Councilmembers Corey Johnson, Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez all support the S.B.J.S.A. bill.
empty stores looking like a Detroit shopping strip, and the middle class forced out due to high costs for our elected officials to exert their political will and finally do something to stop the closings? The community response to my recent Sept. 11 talking point (“There’s only one way to save our small businesses”) — the fifth of that series on this issue — was overwhelming. However, many felt that our elected officials’ silence over this crisis is
an American Small Business Service Center, first chairperson of Mayor Dinkins’s and Giuliani’s Small Business Advisory Committee, and co-founder of the Small Business Congress, Kim created the first Small Business Bill of Rights in New York City. Councilmember Corey Johnson: “It is critical for the City Council to take an active role in combating the continuing demise of local businesses due to ever-rising rents. In many neighborhoods, small businesses have fallen victim to the very revitalization and growth they helped germinate. It is an unfortunate reality that true commercial rent control remains outside the purview of the Council, and so instead we must look to other creative strategies to ensure that price-gouging does not persist. “Proposals to create a mechanism for landlords and commercial tenants to mediate disputes over lease renewals are a salve but not a solution. Commercial rent control enacted by the New York State Legislature enjoyed a successful 18-year run in the mid-century before it sunset, and should be resurrected for the preservation of our communities.” Sung Soo Kim’s response: “I commend Councilmember Johnson on publicly declaring rising rents the cause of the ‘demise’ of local businesses. Too many elected officials and governmental agencies refuse to recognize this undeniable fact, but I totally disagree with his assessment that “proposals to create a mechanism for landlord and commercial
‘Today, small businesses have zero confidence that government will stand up to big real estate.’ Sung Soo Kim
deafening. They feel the crisis is now, that there is no time to speculate. The cash flow into campaign coffers must never drown out the candidates’ desire to hear those desperate to save their communities. A basic tenet of democracy is that voters have a right to know the position of their elected officials on this urgent need to act. So, for this current column, I asked our local politicians to comment. Responding to their comments is Mr. Sung Soo Kim. He has been in the trenches on this issue for 30 years, and here will assist in giving a fair and accurate evaluation of their comments. As founder of the Kore-
tenants to mediate disputes over lease renewals are a salve not a solution.’ “What Johnson is referring to as ‘not a solution’ is the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (S.B.J.S.A.), which has been bottled up in a Council committee for the past four years, and denied a vote by the full City Council for 28 years. Since the bill has never been enacted into law, how can Johnson presume it will not be a solution to stopping the closing of small businesses upon lease renewal? “The statements from our business community over the decades make clear that they strongly believe this bill is the only real solution to keeping them in business and saving New Yorkers’ jobs. From the original bill’s first June 1986 public Council hearing till the last, in June 2009, every legitimate New York City business organization and advocacy group, including arts and nonprofit organizations, has testified that this bill, based upon giving rights to the commercial tenant and arbitration if the parties fail to reach agreement, was the best solution to stopping the closing of established businesses. “Not just the businesses believed this: At the June 29, 2009, hearing on the bill, then-chairperson of the Committee on Small Business, David Yassky, said: ‘I believe that we absolutely have to do something period…before our small businesses disappear… . It’s not an option to do nothing… . If it’s not going to be this bill, then I want to hear what the alternatives for how we’re going to help small businesses in this difficult time… . We have to have some solutions to offer.’ “After hearing all testimony and recommendations, Chairman Yassky and every member of his Small Business Committee sponsored the SMALL BUSINESSES, continued on p. 24 December 18, 2014
Chamber honors ‘Blue stars’ at Safe City awards BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
December 18, 2014
PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
or local businesses to thrive, merchants, their staff and their shoppers all need to feel safe. Honoring the police who protect the neighborhoods where its 200 members do business, the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce held its 11th Annual Safe City, Safe Streets luncheon at Manhattan Penthouse last week. Officers of the Year awards were given out to outstanding members of the Sixth, Ninth, 10th, 13th and Midtown South precincts. Before the awards, Deputy Chief James P. O’Neill, the New York Police Department’s chief of department, gave remarks. Mathew Heggem, the chamber’s president, gave the welcoming remarks. O’Neill, however, was filling in for Police Commissioner Bratton, who had pulled out a few days earlier as the event’s keynote speaker. Having gotten wind that Bratton would be speaking, protesters angered over the recent lack of an indictment of a police officer in Eric Garner’s death, had planned a protest action. Though Bratton was a no-show, the protest still went on, with a few dozen people staging a die-in on the sidewalk outside the venue, at 80 Fifth Ave., near 14th St. A few toted signs on posts that read, “Bratton Has Blood on His Hands! Fire Him!” and “Broken Windows, Broken Lives! Fire Bratton!” by PeoplesPower.net. The protest, however, started after most of the luncheon’s guests had already arrived. Meanwhile, upstairs at the event, O’Neill, a 31-year N.Y.P.D. veteran, told the audience that grand larceny is “the biggest problem” for police in the southern half of Manhattan. However, in some good news, he reported that grand larcenies in Manhattan South are down this year. According to CompStat figures for this year through Dec. 7, grand larcenies have dropped by 7 percent compared to the same period last year — a decrease from 10,397 grand larcenies last year to 9,681 this year. Police continue to battle terrorism citywide, he said. “There have been a number of terrorist plots against New York City since 9/11 and all of them have been thwarted,” he stated. An officer hacked with an ax in a “lone wolf attack” two months ago in Jamaica, Queens, is “having a good recovery,” he reported. The threat of terrorism “requires the vigilance of all New Yorkers,”
From left, Chief James O’Neill with G.V.C.C.C. Officers of the Year Ravi Singh, Scott Williams, James Quirk, Sergeant Maggie Clamp, Jackson Dagobert, Sean Malone and Gerard Collins (not pictured, Michael Delwey)
the high-ranking chief added, “particularly those living and working around the most vulnerable targets.” In department-wide initiatives, he noted, police efficiency will increase as every officer gets equipped with a handheld computer device that will allow them to check arrestees for outstanding warrants and other vital information on the spot. “It will be a big help,” he said. As part of the city’s retraining of officers in the wake of Garner’s death during an arrest, all police are also currently undergoing a three-day training period, O’Neill added. “If you’ve been following what’s been going on, you know what that’s all about,” he said. During his remarks, that was the extent of what he had to say about the protests that have been roiling the city since a Staten Island grand jury on Dec. 3 cleared Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s death. Asked afterward by The Villager about the die-in in front of the building and the ongoing protests over the lack of an indictment in the Garner case, O’Neill said police had been striving to maintain a “balance.” “We’ve been dealing with these for the last couple of weeks,” he said. “People have a right to protest. We have to balance the rights of protesters with the rights of people to [go about their lives in] the city.” Maria Diaz, the chamber’s executive director, introduced the Officer of the Year awards part of the program.
Winning the award for the Sixth Precinct were Sergeant Maggie Clamp and Officer James Quirk. They were honored for rushing to Bellevue Hospital wounded law-enforcement officers who had engaged in a close-range shootout with a fugitive in a W. Fourth St. smoke shop on July 28. After receiving a “10-13” radio signal — meaning, “assist police officer” — at 1 p.m., Clamp, the Greenwich Village precinct’s patrol supervisor, and Quirk, her driver, responded to the scene within seconds. While directing and maintaining the crime scene, Clamp immediately placed the injured officers — an N.Y.P.D. detective and a U.S. marshal — in her vehicle for transport to Bellevue, where they received instantaneous medical treatment. As the chamber’s program notes read, “Due to the quick action, decisiveness and leadership of Sergeant Clamp and the outstanding driving skills of P.O. Quirk, under the most stressful circumstances, both officers were successfully treated for their wounds.” Clamp joined the force in 2006 and Quirk in 2011. The Officer of the Year for the 10th Precinct went to Scott Williams. The seven-year N.Y.P.D. veteran has been at the Chelsea precinct since 2008, first on the Cabaret Unit, which addresses quality-of-life issues around nightclubs, and since September 2009 with the Anticrime Unit, which focuses on felony crimes. During his career, Williams has made 220 arrests, 60 for felonies. In one of his most notable collars,
last November, along with fellow Anticrime Unit members, he busted two foreigners for possession of 53 forged credit cards, which had their magnetic strips reprogramed with 53 different individuals’ personal information. The culprits were going to different A.T.M.’s and withdrawing money from each account. Upon interviewing the two defendants, Williams was able to obtain a search warrant for their hotel room, where an additional 26 forged cards were recovered, along with $20,000 in cash. The G.V.C.C.C. Ninth Precinct Officers of the Year were Ravi Singh and Michael Delwey. The two work the 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift in the East Village precinct, and have combined for more than 60 arrests this year, including for larceny, assault, burglary and narcotics, among others. Singh will be promoted to sergeant soon and so will be transferred to another precinct. The Midtown South Precinct’s Officers of the Year were Sean Malone and Gerard Collins. So far this year, the partners have made 11 felony arrests, 35 misdemeanor arrests and 17 quality-of-life arrests. Jackson Dagobert was honored as the 13th Precinct Officer of the Year. A member of the precinct since 2011, he is on its Conditions Unit, which concentrates on quality-of-life issues. He has made more than 90 arrests this year. Speaking afterward, Tony Juliano, the chamber’s former president, said, “I’m so unbelievably humbled by these hero cops that we honored today. This is our best event of the year.” TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Chamber cop event was to die for, in their view Protesters staged a die-in outside the Manhattan Penthouse last Thursday, where the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce was holding its annual Safe City, Safe Streets event honoring local police officers. Initially, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had been scheduled to speak at the lunch.
December 18, 2014
Study ﬁnds fracking’s potential risks too great FRACKING, continued from p. 1
bany. “I think it would be reckless to proceed in New York until more authoritative research is done. I asked myself, ‘Would I let my family live in a community with fracking?’ The answer is no. I therefore cannot recommend anyone else’s family to live in such a community either.” In 2012, Joe Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, asked the D.O.H. commissioner to conduct a review of fracking. As a result of Zucker’s report, Martens stated at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting that he will issue a legally binding findings statement that will prohibit fracking in New York State at this time. “For the past six years, D.E.C. has examined the significant environmental impacts that could result from high-volume hydraulic fracturing,” Martens said. “D.E.C.’s own review identified dozens of potential significant adverse impacts of [fracking]. The risks substantially outweigh any potential economic benefits of [fracking].” The D.O.H. report concludes that it will be years until science and re-
search provide sufficient information to determine the level of risk that fracking poses to public health and whether those risks can be adequately mitigated. Given the red flags raised by current studies, absent conclusive studies that disprove health concerns, the report states the activity should not proceed in New York State. At the cabinet meeting, Cuomo thanked the commissioners and their respective departments for their work. In an e-mailed letter to constituents, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hailed the decision. “As part of my deep and continuing commitment to the health and safety of all my fellow New Yorkers, I have helped pass in the Assembly, on several occasions, a moratorium on [this] controversial gas-drilling practice,” he said. “I am strongly opposed to risking the health of New Yorkers or the environment for the profits of the oil and gas industry. “I wholeheartedly commend Governor Cuomo, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health for the decision to ban hydrofracking in New York State. As public officials we have the incredibly serious responsibility of protecting the health and
safety of those we serve. “This ban,” Silver said, “will help protect the water we drink, the air we breathe and the quality of life in communities throughout our state. I am proud of the hard work we have all done in ensuring that we will be safe from the potentially harmful effects of hydrofracking.” The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins, who ran for governor on an anti-fracking platform against Cuomo in the November election, praised the announcement. “This news is a victory for all New Yorkers who have dedicated their lives for the past six years to keep fracking out of New York,” Hawkins said. “Together, we have won more than just a ban — today, we have a strong movement that must now use our people power to win the transition to 100 percent renewable energy for New York by 2030 in order to fight climate change.” Heather Leibowitz, director of Environment New York, said, “Across the country, fracking has been a rolling environmental disaster — contaminating drinking water, making residents sick, and transforming forests into industrial zones. After listening carefully to the latest sci-
ence and the voices of millions of New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo has decided to permanently protect the water, health and environment of the Empire State from the documented damage of dirty drilling. This is what true leadership looks like. “Governor Cuomo has been under immense pressure from the oil and gas industry, but today he made a final decision to rebuff the polluters and stand up for the health of New Yorkers,” Leibowitz added. Cuomo’s historic decision caps perhaps the most high-profile fracking fight in the nation. New York has had a moratorium on fracking pending the end of the five-year study of the hotly debated extraction method. The Heartland Institute, a “free-market think tank,” issued a statement decrying the decision: “By banning fracking, New York citizens will forgo a valuable use of their property, and their communities will go without the jobs and economic growth that come with fracking operations. “It is sad that New York’s environment commissioner seems intent on rewarding environmental radicals for lying about the threats posed by fracking.”
Bag bill has backing of kids and rabbi, who calls it kosher
hanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, plastic bags have got to go!” the Citizens Committee of New York City, along with the help of a group of environmentally conscious P.S./M.S. 34 students, gave away 200 reusable cloth tote bags within one hour last Friday outside the C-Town on Avenue C. They were led by Peter Kostmayer, Citizens Committee C.E.O., below left. The goal was to help build support for a bill in the City Council that would add a 10-cent surcharge for single-use plastic and paper bags in supermarket, delis and convenience stores.
City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, in whose East Side district the C-Town is located, says she can’t support the bill because of the extra financial burden it would place on people on fixed incomes, as well as those who must separate their food for religious purposes. However, the Citizens Committee has obtained an opinion on the matter from an Orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Aviad Bodner of the Stanton St. Shul. “To the best of my knowledge, there is no obligation to separate milk and meat groceries, and even if one
would like to do so, cloth bags would suffice,” Bodner said. “Moreover, my opinion is that Jewish halacha would support the bag bill, as well, since the purpose of God placing Adam in the garden of Eden, according to Bereshit
[the first weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah reading] is ‘to work and to guard/protect it.’ It is a religious duty and obligation (for all of mankind — this was to Adam) to protect our environment.”
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December 18, 2014
Oscar Brand: He’s still playing in the AM band BY PAUL DERIENZO
ast weekend, WNYC broadcaster Oscar Brand celebrated his 69th continuous year on the air with a special edition of his radio program, “Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival.” The program featured tapes from past broadcasts, showcasing his vast archive of musical guests. Over the years, Brand provided an outlet to many musicians who might never have been heard and many who became famous. Highlights include Arlo Guthrie’s first performance of “Alice’s Restaurant,” Bob Dylan’s first radio interview in New York, Harry Chapin singing an acoustic “Cat’s in the Cradle,” Greenwich Village folksinger Tom Paxton, Austrian-American actor / songwriter Theo Bikel and Brand singing “This Land is Your Land,” as well as appearances by Woody Guthrie, Dave Van Ronk and many other voices that influenced generations of singer songwriters. Brand was in 1920 born to a Jewish family in Winnipeg, Canada, moving to New York where he attended Brooklyn College. He ran a psychology unit in the U.S. Army during World War II and edited a newsletter for psychiatric patients. In December 1945, Brand walked into WNYC and asked if he could do a program of holiday songs. They agreed and when the show was over the program director said, “So can you come back next week.” Brand has been coming back every week for seven decades. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s the longest-running radio show with the same host. Oscar Brand’s deep interest as a curator of folk music and his humorous and homey style created a deep bond with his guests, bringing them back to appearances at anniversary programs held at The Cooper Union even after they achieved successful careers. The stars, say family members, would come “out of respect and because the audience had been with them since the beginning.” Brand’s shows are usually grouped around themes. On Mother’s Day the show highlighted both “good mothers” songs and, for fun, some “bad mothers” songs. Brand’s sense of humor has never shied away from the controversial. He took an interest in a genre of folk called “bawdy songs” that showed folk music as fiercely creative and free-spirited and not always serious. Songs rediscovered through Brand’s inquisitive search into folk traditions had such “inspirational” titles as “God Bless the Bastard King,” TheVillager.com
dismissed him by when Brand was awarded the pressaying, “Oh, O.K., tigious Peabody Award, the broadcarry on.” cast industry equivalent of the PuBr a n d ’s a s - litzer Prize. His role as a presenter s o c i at i o n w it h of controversial artists won him outspoken song- praise by the Peabody judges as the writers did even- “courageous Mr. Brand.” Outside of radio, Oscar Brand has tually get him into trouble with had an illustrious career scripting the House UnA- numerous performances spanning merican Activi- genres from ballet to TV programs ties Committee, and work on 75 documentaries. He which called his scripted many iconic commercials, show a “pipeline from pancake syrup to automobiles, and wrote the music and lyrics for of communism.” His refusal to Broadway shows “A Joyful Noise” co op erate w it h with John Raitt, and “The Educathe witch-hunt- tion of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N” ers earned him with Hal Linden and Tom Bosley. He has recorded 90 albums of a mention in the 1950 premiere is- music and written songs for Doris sue of the ultra Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belaright-wing news- fonte, the Smothers Brothers and letter Red Chan- the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The nels, getting Brand New York Times called him “one of Oscar Brand strumming the guitar and singing on air at himself blacklisted America’s best.” Oscar Brand turns 95 this Febfor a while. WNYC circa 1940s. Among the po- ruary. You can catch his live show litically charged every Saturday night on WNYC and “I Don’t Want to Join the Navy.” performers from Brand’s studio 880AM at 10 p.m. His style was free-spirited, too, and were Judy Collins, Harry Belafonte, DeRienzo is host of “Let Them Talk,” he would sometimes take a new al- Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Emmylou a live TV talk show on MNN’s Lifestyle bum that arrived in the mail and Harris. In 1995 the past was left behind channel every Tuesday at 8 p.m. play it with full credit to the artist. On weekends he would hang out in Washington Square Park with his portable tape recorder interviewing and recording the street musicians before running home to edit the tape and put it on the air. Every Thanksgiving, Brand plays the recordings made in his living room, a three-day party of music and fun, where listeners shared the laughter, while jamming together and trading songs. Brand’s Thanksgiving shows featured folk luminaries Jean Ritchie, the Kentucky-born dulcimer champion who played Carnegie Hall and is MAIL TO: One Metrotech North, 10th floor • Brooklyn, NY 11201 known as “The Mother of Folk,” bluegrass creator Bill Monroe, inYES! I want to receive The Villager every week of the year. novative banjo picker Roger Sprung and Smithsonian folk music curator CHECK ONE: New Subscription Renewal and Village folkie Ralph Rinzler, among many others. (New Subscription $29•Renewal $24, for 52 weeks, Brand is a lifelong civil rights by check or credit card, will be added to your current subscription) advocate, and he played together with diverse and often controverName: sial voices, such as Pete Seeger, The Address: Weavers, Lead Belly and Woody City: State: Zip Code: Guthrie. According to a family stoEmail: Phone: ry, Fiorello LaGuardia, New York City’s colorful and temperamenCard Type: [ ] Visa [ ] Mastercard [ ] Amex [ ] Discover tal mayor, once called Brand into Card Holder’s Signature: his office to reprimand him for beCredit Card Number: ing “too political” and remind him Exp. Date: Security Code: that WNYC was funded by the city. Brand, who never received a penny, reminded the mayor that he didn’t get paid to do the show. Mimicking LaGuardia’s high-pitched voice, Brand recalled how the mayor then
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‘Keep fighting,’ jail-bound attorney urges MoRUS crowd BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he Museum of Reclaimed Space last Friday celebrated two years of occupying its space in the storefront of C-Squat. In a surprise appearance, East Village radical attorney Stanley Cohen showed up and gave a brief talk at MoRUS, at Avenue C at E. 10th St. After pleading guilty in April, Cohen last month was sentenced to 18 months in jail for tax obstruction. Cohen represented the East Village squatters when they fought eviction in the 1980s. Among his more recent high-profile clients, he has represented Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-inlaw, and Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas leader. “I have lived on Avenue D since 1988,” Cohen told the audience of about 50, “and unfortunately that is going to end in a few weeks.” Cohen said the squatter movement and the culture of resistance — which the museum embodies and champions — is about being real. “Besides saying ‘f--- you,’ besides saying, ‘We don’t need your rules and regulations’ — it’s built on getting beyond the bulls---,” he explained. “It’s built on getting beyond the rules that they set and
Radical attorney Cohen drank in the atmosphere at MoRUS’s second anniversary party.
that they say we have to obey or we go to jail.” The squatter ethos, he said, “morphed into the Black Bloc [a radical anarchist protest faction], into Occupy. The ones throwing themselves in front of the beast in Ferguson are the same ones throwing themselves in front of shoppers at Macy’s.” The nature of the East Village and Lower East
Side is to continually foster and renew this revolutionary spirit, he said. “I walk my dog in this neighborhood,” he said. “I talk to Emma Goldman. The newspaper The Masses was printed in this neighborhood. The Draft Riots were in Tompkins Square Park. Tent City...Tompkins Square Park. There’s something wonderful in this neighborhood — progressive, C-Squat...everything. “There is no stronger, more committed community than Loisaida, than the Lower East Side community.” As for the charges that are sending him away, he said, “To those who believe it’s for taxes, I’ll sell you a bridge and Israel is about Judaism. I think I’ve about had it with this sty, and I’m moving overseas,” he said of the U.S., in general. To those who say the East Village is over, Cohen retorted, “This f------ neighborhood has been passing on for years. [The loss of] CBGB, etc., who the mayor is — it doesn’t matter.” In a cyclical way, newcomers who are drawn to the East Village will forever revitalize it, he said. “There’s a little kid out there, in Chicago or California,” he said. “In 10 or 12 years, they’ll be here. “Keep fighting,” he concluded, “and I just want to say, ‘Up the rebels.’ ”
Youth are on the march against police brutality ACTIVISTS, continued from p. 1
a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner, an unarmed black man from Staten Island. Just eight days before, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided the same for the police officer who killed teenager Michael Brown. In response, activists continue to agitate for police reforms across the country. But few places have seen protest activity as densely concentrated as that in Manhattan. Self-identified protesters, demonstrators and activists have marched through the Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and elsewhere. They have lain down in symbolic death in Times Square, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, Columbus Circle, Grand Central Station and elsewhere. Crowds with arms up in surrender entered Macy’s at Herald Square chanting, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and the Disney Store near Times Square. Protesters have blocked traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel, on the West Side Highway and other thoroughfares. Honking erupts in response, often in solidarity. It’s no coincidence that a great amount of such activity occurs in Midtown, according to state Senator Brad Hoylman — who took part in last Saturday’s Millions March NYC. The confluence of tourism, culture and media at the crossroads of the world makes Times Square particularly attractive for political activity, he said. “It’s a good place to get attention, and these demonstrators are smart
December 18, 2014
and they want their voices heard,” he added. In years past, various protests have called for people to shut down business in the city, but those efforts fell short. This new outburst of dissent, however, continues to show longevity, according to seasoned activists. “Many of us have been in the struggle for many, many years and we have never seen anything like it,” said Toni Arenstein, a Chelsea resident and member of Peoples Power Assemblies (peoplespowerassemblies.org) on W. 24 St. There are also concrete demands. They demand that the officers involved in the fatal arrest effort of Eric Garner receive punishment both through the department and a federal indictment. They want the federal Department of Justice and Philip Eure, the New York Police Department’s inspector general, to further investigate the department’s use of force against minorities. In addition, they say, Governor Andrew Cuomo should back the appointment of a state special prosecutor to investigate further. And “broken windows” — the law enforcement philosophy that espouses punishing small offenses to prevent violent crime — should end, according to the demands published on ThisStopsToday.org. The organization behind the Web site — a coalition of activist groups — goes by the moniker #ThisStopsToday. The name is also used as a hashtag on Twitter, added within a tweet as an indication of a topic. Other popular hashtags utilized by the activists in
recent weeks include #EricGarner, #ICantBreathe and #Ferguson. Coupled with the right meeting spot, activists can quickly rally or read the latest developments by searching the social media platform for such hashtags. The marches and die-ins have continued every day since Dec. 3. The activists also continue to organize, both face to face and in cyberspace. About 75 of them packed the Chelsea office of Peoples Power Assemblies on Dec. 6 and Dec. 10 to discuss how the movement should evolve. “This is one of the centers in the city for organizing these protests, but we are not the only center,” said Larry Holmes, a P.P.A. organizer at the Dec. 6 meeting. “Some are not even using centers. Some are just going on social media.” They also discussed demands, as well as a request from #ThisStopsToday for individual organizations to plan events throughout the 11 days of action occurring from Dec. 10 to Dec. 21 in order to spread resources evenly. The length of time in the effort references the number of times that Garner said, “I can’t breathe,” before he died on July 17. In forums such as these, they hash out the details of as small as who can carry signs to the next event and as large as the movement’s overall goals. Experience spreads along with suggestions to deploy more activists on roller skates or bicycles as scouts during future actions. But divisions have arisen as well, particularly when it comes to the involvement of white people within
the movement at what some activists say is the expense of people of color who should lead the way. Most activists insist on nonviolence while some have done otherwise, most notably on the Brooklyn Bridge on Dec. 13 when two police officers were beaten by a small group of marchers. And actions continue to pop up in unexpected places. Basketball players for the Brooklyn Nets, as well as Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, donned black shirts reading “I Can’t Breathe” before a game on Dec. 9 as protesters rallied outside the Barclays Center on Flatbush Ave. Just hours before, city councilmembers staged their own die-in on the City Hall steps. “Our country finds itself confronted with the tragic results of deep-rooted bias and inequality,” said Corey Johnson, one of about two dozen councilmembers involved in that die-in. “We are in desperate need of change, and unfortunately, New York City is no exception.” Meanwhile, as of press time, the tweets continue with four more days of planned actions in the 11-day effort. With their social media savvy and a cause appealing to their ideals, young people have a unique opportunity, according to Emma Morgan-Bennett, a student organizer at Bard High School Early College on E. Houston St. “We are energetic and young and can march for as long as we want,” she said. “Also, the most important fact is that if we don’t get off our butts and change things, this is the America we are going to have to live with.” TheVillager.com
An exploration of Expressionism that points the way Dual-venue exhibition charts Picasso’s evolving style
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN (stephaniebuhmann.com)
n its sixth major Picasso exhibition, which involves two venues and features over 125 works, Pace Gallery re-examines the artist’s fascination with his wife and muse, Jacqueline Roque (they married in 1961). Stemming largely from the last
two decades of Picasso’s oeuvre, the paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints are on loan from the artist’s family and private collectors, as well as major American and European Museums. They reflect Picasso’s transformative exploration of Expressionism during this period, which was not only sparked by his obsession with Jacqueline but also by his admiration of Matisse, El Greco, Velazquez,
©2014 ESTATE OF PICASSO / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK | PHOTO BY KERRY RYAN MCFATE / PACE GALLERY
©2014 ESTATE OF PICASSO / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK | PHOTO BY KERRY RYAN MCFATE / PACE GALLERY
An installation shot from the opening of “Picasso & Jacequeline,” at the 57th St. location of Pace Gallery.
Photographs by Picasso confidant David Douglas Duncan, on view at the 25th St. location of Pace Gallery.
Delacroix, and Manet. The exhibition begins in 1954 — the year Picasso started living with and painting Jacqueline, which also happened to be the year Matisse died. An early rival and later a good friend, Matisse was the only contemporary that Picasso considered his equal. Some of the most impressive works in this installation evoke various phases of Picasso’s own work
(Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism), as well as those of Matisse (the cutouts, the odalisques and their heavily patterned Moorish backgrounds). In a matter of months, Picasso created a body of work that referenced the achievements of the first 73 years of his life, acknowledged his great respect for Matisse and PICASSO, continued on p.18 December 18, 2014
Buhmann on Art ©2014 ESTATE OF PICASSO / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK
ART PICASSO & JACQUELINE: THE EVOLUTION OF STYLE Through January 10 At Pace Gallery 534 W. 25th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) and 32 E. 57th St. (btw. Madison & Park Aves.) Hours: Tues.–Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Closed from 2 p.m. Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 Call 212-421-3292 or visit pacegallery.com
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) | Jacqueline en Costume Turc (Jacqueline in Turkish Dress) | Nov. 20, 1955 | Oil on canvas, 39 1/3 x 32 in. (100 x 81 cm) | Private Collection | Photograph by Claude Germain.
THIRD STREET MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT 235 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003 • www.thirdstreetmusicschool.org
©2014 ESTATE OF PICASSO / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK
©2014 ESTATE OF PICASSO / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) | Jacqueline avec une Écharpe Noire (Jacqueline with a Black Scarf) | Oct. 11, 1954 | Oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 28 ¾ in. (92 x 73 cm) | Private Collection | Photograph by Claude Germain.
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) | Woman in Armchair (Jacqueline), January 2, 1962 |Oil on canvas, 63 ¾ x 51 in. (162 x 130 cm) | Private Collection | Photograph by Claude Germain. PICASSO, continued from p. 17
Mon–Fri, 8:30 a.m.–9:00 p.m. | Sat, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. | (212) 777-3240
Delacroix, and pointed the way forward to an Expressionist style that proved to be an influence on later Neo-Expressionist artists. Accompanying the exhibition is a group of more than 50 photographs
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December 18, 2014
by David Douglas Duncan, one of the central documentary photographers of the 20th century and a confidant of Picasso. Duncan captured Picasso at work as well as scenes from quotidian life with his muse.
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A Yuletide memory for even the grinchiest THEATER
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY An Irish Repertory Theatre Production 1 hr., 40 mins., with intermission At the DR2 Theatre 103 E. 15th St. (in Union Square) Through January 4 Tue., Thu. at 7p.m. Wed., Fri.–Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat., Sun. at 3 p.m. Tickets: $70 PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG
Reservations: irishrep.org or 866-811-4111
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
f you’ve had your fill of “Christmas Carols” and “Nutcrackers” for the holiday season, a cautionary advisory is in order for the option served up this year by the Irish Repertory Theatre: fruitcake. But before you turn up your nose and head for the hills, hear me out. This fruitcake is in the form of a musicalized version of Truman Capote’s deeply personal short story “A Christmas Memory,” where Buddy, a celebrated author not unlike Capote himself, visits his boyhood home in 1955 after a 20-year absence. He is flooded with memories of a blissful time when he’d make the fruity confections with a spinster relative named Sook, who stepped in when his divorced parents abandoned him. “It’s fruitcake weather,” Sook would gleefully proclaim. This nutty, gooey labor of love, adapted by Duane Poole, is actually not half bad. Under the direction of Charlotte Moore, “A Christmas Memory” manages to avoid being too cloying or heavy, balancing the sweet, lighthearted homespun sentiments of a simpler time with the tart, harsh realities of growing up a misfit in rural Alabama in the Great Depression. Fruitcake, as it turns out, is particularly apt, since Sook is a bit of a loon and prone to depressive spells. The effeminate young Buddy is deemed a sissy by another guardian, Jennie, who threatens to ship the boy off to a military academy to toughen him up. “Fruitcake?,” Jennie intones. “The amount of time you two spend together. You’ll grow up soft and it’s a hard world.” TheVillager.com
L t R: Ashley Robinson, Silvano Spagnuolo and Alice Ripley in Duane Poole’s adaptation of the Truman Capote story “A Christmas Memory.”
The affable cast is led by none other than Alice Ripley, Tony Award-winner for “Next to Normal” (and nominated for the original “Side Show”). Ripley teases out layers of warmth and complexity from Sook, who obviously needs Buddy as much as he needs her. Ashley Robinson imbues the grown-up Buddy with a tender yearning that, as he wrestles with ghosts of Christmas past, becomes tinged with regret. Virginia Ann Woodruff is excellent as Anna, the soulful housekeeper who helps the nostalgic author come to terms with his fraught history. As the stern Jennie, Nancy Hess reveals a caring center beneath a tough exterior. Silvano Spagnuolo, as the young Buddy, does his best in a role even a seasoned adult actor would find demanding. What he lacks in precision and nuance he makes up for in charm. Capote, as everybody knows, was the notoriously homosexual author of landmarks like the novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and his “non-fiction novel” “In Cold Blood.” Astute fans will recognize the pesky neighbor tomboy, Nelle Harper (nicely portrayed by a pigtailed, gap-toothed Taylor Richardson), who also grew up to become a famous author, Harper Lee (“To Kill A Mockingbird”). To tug on our heartstrings even harder, they’ve cast an adorable scruffy terrier as Sook and Buddy’s furry playmate. If the intention was to create an intimate, folksy chamber musical, the creative team may have gone too far — the
Irish Rep’s holiday show balances the sweet and tart production feels so constricted it has scant room to breathe. Crammed into the tiny stage at the DR2 Theatre (the Irish Rep’s home is being renovated), the seven-person ensemble must navigate gingerly around James Noone’s imaginative, surreal wooden set. The songs by Larry Grossman (music) and Carol Hall (lyrics) draw from American musical vocabulary of the blues, vaudeville, and ragtime from the early 20th century. One lively number finds the entire company strumming on ukuleles and strutting
to Barry McNabb’s jaunty choreography. Many numbers, however, are too lean and deserve more support than the skimpy three-member “orchestra” can provide. “A Christmas Memory” works hard to articulate the conflicting swirl of emotions surrounding family, holidays, and going home again. This often touching yet imperfect production, like a homemade holiday treat, promises to unleash a flood of romanticized yuletide memories for even the grinchiest of theatergoers.
December 18, 2014
Just Do Art: The Winterfresh Version
PHOTO BY BILL WESTMORELAND, GRAPHIC BY TODD JOHNSON
COURTESY OF SUMMONERS ENSEMBLE THEATRE
Adapted from Dickens’ performance notes, “A Christmas Carol” pours on the period charm, through Dec. 28 at Merchant’s House Museum.
Don’t miss cabaret’s Christmas Dream Team, live on the Birdland stage.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
Performed in a house known for being visited by considerably more than three ghosts, this Summoners Ensemble production of “A Christmas Carol” is faithful to Charles Dickens’ vision of how his 1843 novella should be presented to live audiences. Based on the author’s own solo touring version, storyteller John Kevin Jones and director Rhonda Dodd emphasize the beautiful narrative imagery and wry humor largely absent from cinematic adaptations. Further credibility is added by the setting: the landmark 1832 Merchant’s House Museum, home to many spectral sightings (so far, none of them involving former business partners weighed down by chains). What Merchant’s House does have to offer is period charm, as Jones portrays 15+ characters in an elegant Greek Revival double parlor filled with mid-19th century furnishings and holiday decorations. Fri.–Sun., Dec. 19–21 & 26–28 and Mon.–Tues., Dec. 22–23 at 7 p.m. Special Christmas Eve performance at 6 p.m. on Dec. 24. Limited seating, reservations highly recommended. For tickets ($37.50–$57.50), call 800-838-3006 or
December 18, 2014
PHOTO BY LIZ LIGON COURTESY FRIENDS OF THE HIGH LINE
“A CHRISTMAS CAROL” AT MERCHANT’S HOUSE MUSEUM
Their app and your feet create a joyful noise, at the “High Line Soundwalk” portion of Make Music Winter.
visit brownpapertickets.com. Also visit merchantshouse.org. At Merchant’s House Museum (29 E. Fourth St., btw. Lafayette & Bowery).
A SWINGING BIRDLAND CHRISTMAS
Like the whiff of fresh forest air you get when passing a sidewalk Christmas tree stand, this annual summit of top-notch vocal talent sends you on your way with the feeling that you’ve just tapped into the
true spirit of the season. Rarefied wit Jim Caruso, in-demand pianist Billy Stritch and brassy Klea Blackhurst bring their own distinct variations of sparkle and shine to holiday classics, then the tear up the classy joint in trio form with searing arrangements (“It’s The Holiday Season,” “Let it Snow”) and breezy, laugh-out-loud banter. Now celebrating its half-decade mark, “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” has become as much of a beloved tradition as the seasonal TV specials that inspired it. If you
can’t make these upcoming gigs, the Caruso/Stritch charisma is on display throughout the year, at Birdland’s Monday night “Cast Party” — where crooners, Broadway legends and virtuoso musicians gather for a raucous open mic night that’s pure cabaret bliss. Dec. 21, 23, 24, 25 at 6 p.m. and Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. At Birdland Jazz Club (315 W. 44th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves). For tickets ($30 plus $10 food/ drink minimum), call 212-581-3080 or visit birdlandjazz.com (where the “Swinging Birdland Christmas” CD is available for purchase). “Cast Party” happens every Mon. at Birdland. Doors open at 9pm, show at 9:30pm. $25 cover, $10 food/drink minimum. For info, visit jim-caruso.com.
MAKE MUSIC WINTER
Thirteen becomes your lucky number, when Make Music New York celebrates the first day of winter by hosting a baker’s dozen of parades. Streets, parks and other public spaces are enlivened with the joyful noise of artistic expression, as marchers become the medium. Beginning at 2 p.m. at Sixth Ave. & Spring St., composer Daniel Goode leads a “Soho Gamelan Walk,” with participants drumming on the hollow cast iron fronts of buildings (gloves recomJUST DO ART, continued on p. 21 TheVillager.com
Just Do Art 2 p.m. on Sun., Dec. 28. At La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater (66 W. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($25, $20 for students/seniors), call 866-811-4111 or visit lamama.org. Also visit Yara Arts Group, at brama. com/yara.
CHRISTMAS WITH THE CRAWFORDS
PHOTO BY MAKSYM KUDYMETS
Members of the musical group the Koliadnyky (here, on the barricades in Kyiv in Feb. of 2014) are part of “Winter Light,” at La MaMa on Dec. 27 & 28.
JUST DO ART, continued from p. 20
WINTER LIGHT: SONGS, MUSIC & RITUALS FROM THE CARPATHIANS
This world music theater event begins on Dec. 27, with “Koliada” — a winter ritual that predates (and now coincides with) Christmas. Its songs are performed by the KoTheVillager.com
PHOTO BY STEVEN MENENDEZ
mended!). At 4 p.m., meet at the basketball courts by the W. Fourth subway stop for “Village in Volume celebrates In C” — a global celebration of the 1964 minimalist work by Terry Riley. Bring your own instruments (large cue cards display musical cells, which will lead participants through the piece as well as along the route around Washington Square Park. At 5 p.m., meet below the High Line at Gansevoort & Washington Sts., where the first 100 people will receive on-loan speakers from Friends of the High Line. You’ll need them for “The Gaits: a High Line Soundwalk” — whose free smartphone app turns footsteps into twinkling metallic sounds, electric guitar chords, dulcimer notes, water splashes, car horns and applause. Free. Sun., December 21. Parades begin from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in four of the five boroughs (sorry, Staten Island). Info at makemusicny.org.
Love hurts: Joey Arias as Joan and Chris March as Christina, in the domestic disturbance that is “Christmas With The Crawfords.”
liadnyky, an ensemble of singers from Kryvorivnia (Ukraine). Their instruments include the trembita (a Carpathian mountain horn made of hollowed pine tree that has been struck by lightning and wrapped in birch bark), the duda (a bag pipe made from a goat), the tsymbaly (a hammer dulcimer) and hand-made
Carpathian flutes. The following day, Yara Arts Group presents their adaptation of an allegorical folk Christmas opera created during the 1768-74 Russo-Turkish War, intercut with scenes by counterculture writer Serhiy Zhadan that address the current crisis in Ukraine. At 3 p.m. & 8 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 27. At
No matter how tense things get in your own home during the holidays, it probably won’t come close to the dangerous current of shattered dreams and seething rage flowing through the glamorous Brentwood mansion occupied by Joan Crawford’s barely functional faux-family. All the fast-fading star wants for Christmas 1944 is to be saved from the humiliation of auditioning for a big film role. She’s pinning her hopes on a public relations coup, in the form of a live radio broadcast hosted by powerful gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. It’s a plot as flimsy as the lesser pictures Crawford despises — but a fantastic device for this increasingly absurd collection of celebrity cameos and literal/figurative swipes at adopted daughter Christina (a budding author who’s cataloguing every indignity in an ominous little diary). A slapstick melting pot of high anxiety, low comedy and fabulous production numbers, “Christmas With The Crawfords” is a variety show that’s gone off its meds and into the darkest recesses of pain, shame, and Hollywood nerdcore references. Not seen in these parts for 12 long years, this triumphant return benefits from a trio of stellar drag performances. Joey Arias’ Crawford, desperate to be loved but prone to violent outbursts, is the show’s immoral core — while Chris March’s corpulent Christina is a sympathetic punching bag who’s learned a little something about passive aggressiveness from her Mommie Dearest. Sherry Vine’s lilting, whiny, spot-on Baby Janeera Bette Davis steals the show — and the cavalcade of guest starts (who all think they’ve arrived at Gary Cooper ’s party) bring sass and charm to their tuneful portrayals of Judy Garland, Liberace, Gloria Swanson and the Andrew Sisters. It’s a heavenly slice of personal hell. Through Dec. 27. At Abrons Art Center (466 Grand St., at Pitt St.). For tickets ($45), call 212-352-3101 or visit abronsartscenter.org. December 18, 2014
December 18, 2014
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December 18, 2014
Mom-and-pop shops: Are they too small to save? SMALL BUSINESSES, continued from p. 11
S.B.J.S.A. as being the best solution to stopping the closings. “Johnson is misguided in recommending that commercial rent control be brought back to save small businesses. In the 1980s the reinstatement of the successful commercial rent control law was considered by then-Assemblymember Jerrold Nadler and then-Councilmember Ruth Messinger, who introduced ‘commercial rent control’ legislation both in the state Assembly and City Council. The city’s business community instead unanimously supported an arbitration bill. “After listening to the arguments from the small business advocates, both Nadler and Messinger dropped their ‘commercial rent control’ bills in favor of adopting arbitration legislation. The reason: arbitration has evolved into being universally accepted as the best resolution dispute process available. “The small business community trusted the elected officials who first introduced the bill to stand up to the real estate speculators and treat the businesses fairly. The creators of the commercial rent control bill were Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, recognized as our greatest mayor, and Governor Thomas Dewey, a former Manhattan district attorney who built a reputation on cleaning up corruption and crime in New York City. “Both LaGuardia and Dewey were Republicans who were opposed to the corrupt Democratic political machine run by Tammany Hall. They built reputations that the people’s jobs came first, not the political bosses. Today, small businesses have zero confidence that government will stand up to big real estate and stand behind the small business owners and their workers. “Seeing the huge campaign contributions made by real estate PACs gives small business owners little confidence that their government can be trusted to stand up to the powerful real estate industry’s influence and pass legislation to protect them, as did LaGuardia and Dewey. “My recommendation to Councilmember
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
America’s true face?
The “guilty system” is unmasked in Washington Square at the start of Saturday’s Millions March NYC.
December 18, 2014
Johnson: Log onto savenycjobs.org and read the intent of the S.B.J.S.A. legislation. Copy the summary of what the bill will do and give it to other legislators who are concerned about the fate of small businesses. Take copies to the owners of your districts’ small businesses, and ask them if this would be a solution to the crisis they face.” Before finalizing this article for publication, I went online to check the latest sponsorship of the S.B.J.S.A. In turns out that on Nov. 25 Johnson signed onto the measure, the same bill he previously said he could not support because he felt it was “a salve but not a solution.” So I gave Johnson an opportunity to answer: “What changed your mind?” Johnson: “I continue to feel that proposals like Intro 402 are a salve not a solution. But given the rapid erosion of our small businesses, we must embrace measures like these for the benefits they provide.” Sung Soo Kim’s response: “The mark of leadership is how an elected official deals with a crisis facing his or her community. Will they stand behind the community against political pressures or special interests’ influence and do the right thing? “If Councilmember Johnson feels the S.B.J.S.A. is not the best solution, he should never have sponsored the bill — and he should withdraw his name from the bill! The small business owners in his district and their loyal customers deserve real solutions to their problems. This is why the majority voted for Johnson — to be independent and fight for real solutions. “Why can’t he work with the small business advocates to recommend changes to the bill that would make it a real solution to stopping the closing of small businesses? Are there no compromises possible with Intro 402 that would make it work better for his businesses? “This bill, S.B.J.S.A., is very simple, it gives rights to the business owners when their leases expire. The real estate lobby does not want to give any rights to the business owners and wants only the landlords to have all the rights to determine all the terms of the new leases.” Councilmember Margaret Chin: “I am deeply concerned about the difficulties faced by the valuable small businesses that make our community great. Since ever-rising rents contribute to the closure of so many small businesses, I continue to co-sponsor the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would create fair rent negotiations and help save many of these beloved stores.” Sung Soo Kim’s response: More than 20 years ago, I represented the Korean businesses in fighting to stop rent gouging. Margaret Chin was the advocate and voice fighting for economic equality for the Chinese community. Ms. Chin never missed an opportunity to speak with conviction and compassion on the need to protect small businesses and the jobs they created because of the importance of jobs to an immigrant family’s future. “In 2011, because of her long history as an effective advocate, now-Councilmember Chin was named prime sponsor of the S.B.J.S.A. and entrusted with the responsibility of gaining a vote on it by the full Council. Now with Chin as a co-sponsor of the bill, the small business community hopes she will bring to the Council’s Progressive Caucus her vast knowledge of the
crisis faced by our city’s immigrant businesses and the disgraceful anti-democratic treatment they received from our government when they sought economic justice in the City Council. It is inconceivable, that any ‘progressive’ councilmember — after learning of the many immigrant owners routinely extorted for cash by unscrupulous landlords under the threat of losing their businesses — would purposely not take any action to stop this appalling act.” Councilmember Rosie Mendez, our other Downtown Council rep, has also recently signed on as a sponsor to the latest version of the S.B.J.S.A. However, she did not respond to requests for comment for this column, saying she was “too busy to comment at this time.” Sung Koo Kim’s response: “Twenty years ago, the most active fighters for our cause came from the Village representatives, Councilmembers Miriam Friedlander and Carol Greitzer. Having the courage to stand up to the powerful speaker of the City Council, Peter Vallone, who led the fight to defeat the original arbitration bill, they could not be silenced in standing up for the small businesses, the art community and the spirit and the unique character of the Village and Lower East Side. “The S.B.J.S.A. today was the same bill Mendez’s predecessor, Margarita Lopez, introduced as prime sponsor in 2005. Lopez had renamed the bill the Jobs Security Act because she knew this bill would determine the future of many New Yorkers’ jobs. Mendez has been a co-sponsor of this bill twice before, and has again signed onto it as a sponsor. “Now that the problem is worse, Villagers are demanding that elected officials make a loud noise and call to stop these closings before we lose all our small businesses. Hopefully, Mendez will listen to her constituents and remember the populist action taken by true progressive legislators, like former Councilmembers Friedlander, Greitzer and Lopez.” In this, The Villager’s sixth column on this topic, we move past the explanations — to the solution. Something has broken — it needs fixing. Doing nothing has made the crisis worse. This is not some Republican enclave! This is the Village, with its progressive Democratic political clubs and ideals! Has the meaning of “progressive” changed? Has the ideal become merely a myth, an illusion, a quaint relic of the past — just as our Village is becoming? Countries yearn for democracy. They fight and die for it. Yet we delude ourselves by thinking that, if we complain and moan long and hard enough, change will magically happen. But with democracy comes responsibility. We have a process in place. In one of my previous columns on this issue last year, I called it THE litmus test for the election of progressive candidates. Sadly, once elected, however, many “progressives” become followers of the political machine. That’s why it is our responsibility to encourage them to comment. Voters must act by all means possible: e-mail, tweet, phone, Facebook, petition and write letters to the editor. It takes 26 City Council votes to follow the will of the people and pass legislation that will save our small businesses. As for the Village — and the rest of New York — if this crisis does not end now, we won’t recognize this unique place we call home. TheVillager.com
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS, continued from p. 10
Could be jewel of park To The Editor: Re “ ‘What would Jane say?’ Raft of anxious questions about ‘billionaires’ island’ ” (news article, Dec. 11): I’m thrilled at the recognition that Mr. Diller and Ms. Von Furstenberg’s gift lends to Hudson River Park. This is one of the most generous park gifts in history, and it is not going to the High Line or to Central Park but to a park we enjoy every day. Hudson River Park has transformed our quality of life despite being orphaned by city and state, both of which ceased providing capital funds long before the park was completed, and which have never been required to provide operating funds for the park’s maintenance. Pier55 promises to be a hub of innovative nonprofit arts programming available to a broad public, while spending most of its time simply as a beautifully designed park. What’s more, the project saves a pier that had to close because it was falling into the river with no funds to restore it. Diller and von Furstenberg’s vision is grander than the Hudson River Park Trust could ever have afforded to conceive, and still it adheres to the mission of the Hudson River Park Act. The community needs to remain vigilant and ensure that this project is executed as promised. No one wants an elite tourist attraction that excludes the park’s neighbors. The plan we’ve been shown — with open access to public space and a large portion of free and low-cost programming — offers the hope of a jewel for all to enjoy. Susanna Aaron Aaron is a board of directors member, Friends of Hudson River Park
Pier55 will be great! To The Editor: Re “‘What would Jane say?’ Raft of anxious questions about ‘billionaires’ island’ ” (news article, Dec. 11): As a 15-year resident of this neighborhood, I am writing to express my deep and enthusiastic support for Pier55. What makes me so excited about Pier55 is that it is a beautiful vision with a top-notch team who care and TheVillager.com
can bring this vision to reality. This is a project that will strengthen the New York City arts community at a time when such support is ever-more vital. As the parent of two school-age girls who have gone to P.S. 3, I couldn’t be more delighted and thrilled that such a magical place will be part of our neighborhood tapestry in a short three years’ time and add to the joy and sense of community for my children. As an entrepreneur, I know how difficult it can be to create a vision and then communicate the benefits and excitement that executing that vision will bring. And I know that finances are always the concern regarding any project. What is comforting and prudent about the current plan is the donors’ 20-year commitment to fully fund the maintenance of Pier55. Such a commitment is unusual and, even more important, will allow the Friends of the Hudson River Park to focus on spending on other needed initiatives along the rest of the park. Dr. Yin Ho Ho is C.E.O., Context Matters Inc.
Specter of Spectra To The Editor: Re “Ready for the Whitney” (news article, Dec. 11): The Whitney adds yet more cachet to a neighborhood where the High Line and Hudson River Park have replaced the rotting old piers, and now we can expect to see more tourists and New Yorkers. Meanwhile the 26-inch high-pressure Spectra pipeline runs gas from the depths of the Hudson River and crosses the highway very close to the museum. Remember, this is a flood zone, as we learned during Superstorm Sandy. JK Canepa
How tall is this thing? To The Editor: Re “‘What would Jane say?’ Raft of anxious questions about ‘billionaires’ island’” (news article, Dec. 11): “...[A]nd undulate to a highpoint, a 71.5-foot-tall promontory...?” The image shown in The Villager article doesn’t appear to be the height of a seven-story building. That’s taller
than most Village apartment buildings on the crosstown streets by at least 20 feet. How does that affect the view corridor? What am I missing? Pamela Wolff Editor’s note: The pier’s highest point would be its southwest corner, which, in the image, looks like a cluster of tall trees rising in the background. If you look at that highpoint’s scale in relation to the small figures depicted walking on the bridges leading toward the pier, it does appear that it would be quite a tall structure.
It’s all about Verrazano To The Editor: Re “The truth about trucks: We don’t need any study” (talking point, Carl Rosenstein, Nov. 27): Councilmember Margaret Chin, please take note: There is a multilane interstate highway system meant for the rapid movement of cars and trucks that brings trucks through neighboring boroughs into and out of New Jersey without going through Lower Manhattan. Truckers would willingly use this route today except for a wonderful “savings deal.” That deal is this: If a truck comes in over the Verrazano Bridge, headed to points north of the city, and comes back through the Holland Tunnel, there is no toll in either direction and the trucker saves $80! This loophole came into existence because it was argued that tolls in both directions cause vehicles to idle twice as much as when there is a toll booth in only one direction — and so, the Verrazano got one-way tolls, thereby creating the harebrained loophole that dangles an $80 truck magnet over Lower Manhattan’s Holland Tunnel entrance: Either go back the way you came, over the Verrazano — and pay $80 to cross — or go through the Holland Tunnel, and pay nothing! The idling argument made sense when E-ZPasses didn’t exist. However, it seems that even the E-ZPass is not necessary for collecting tolls from users. There are no longer toll stops on the Henry Hudson Bridge between Upper Manhattan and Spuyten Duyvil. No, it’s not free just because you don’t stop to pay: If you don’t have an E-ZPass, a camera reads your
license plate and you are mailed a bill for the toll. Such a system could re-establish tolls in both directions on both the Verrazano Bridge and the Holland Tunnel and trucks would no longer save $80 by “cheating“ New York and New Jersey out of rightful income. Oh, and yes, Lower Manhattan residents would no longer be subjected to the outrage prompted by asphyxiating, noisy, clogged-up and slow, unnecessary traffic. And, wouldn’t the absence of trucks on Broome St. make shopping in Soho an even more attractive prospect? Let’s increase even more the income New York City derives from our foreign and domestic visitors by not driving them (pun intended) away! Ms. Chin, please think more expansively. Otto Barz Barz, a Broome St. resident, is co-founder of Trees Not Trucks
Stores will love ‘bag tax’ To The Editor: Re “Mendez is not sold on Chin’s 10-cent ‘tax’ on single-use bags” (news article, Nov. 27): When I shop at Fairway, the packer routinely puts dairy and meat in separate bags. When I spend $10 at Morton Williams, they spread my groceries among three packages, double-bagged. We don’t subsidize other products that continue to harm the environment. Yet by allowing stores to charge a 10-cent-per-bag fee, we give supermarkets an incentive to use more plastic bags! Bring back paper and ban these bags entirely. Encourage bag suppliers to come up with biodegradable bags for dog walkers. Most dog owners buy plastic bags to pick up after their pets. Why isn’t a biodegradable solution available? Stacy Walsh Rosenstock E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com 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. December 18, 2014
December 18, 2014
Baruch Bearcats claw their way to a fast start SPORTS BY ROBERT ELKIN
asketball is extremely popular in Manhattan with the public and private high schools and on the pro level with the Knicks in action during the fall, winter and spring months. In the summer, there are the W. Fourth St. and Rucker outdoor leagues in the Village and Harlem, respectively. But as of this writing, the Knicks, for one, can’t provide wining action on the court, and the way they are currently competing, it’ll be hard for them to qualify for the playoffs. Still, spectators are hoping to find the best brand of hoop action in their area. The best of the crop could even come from Division III competition. At press time, the Baruch College Bearcats have captured six of seven overall games, and are 3-0 in the CUNY Athletic Conference. The conference includes nine NCAA Division III colleges, including John Jay, Hunter and other CUNY schools in Manhattan. And there’s no finer gym to catch some exciting action than Baruch’s court on Lexington Ave. at E. 24th St. Action resumes on Tues., Jan. 6, after the Christmas-New Year’s break when the John Jay Bloodhounds visit the Bearcats’ lair, known as the ARC Arena, for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Some of the Baruch players have certainly impressed and deserve to be
The Baruch College men’s basketball team.
looked at. The scoring and rebounding of senior Granville Gittens and freshman Chimaechi Ekekeugbor, both forwards, and the playmaking of junior Ed Roscigno are leading the offense for Baruch, who as a team have the potential to go far once again in the standings. Some of the spectators who came out last Friday night to watch Baruch win a 62-49 thriller over York College of Queens really wanted to see one player who has the ability to score points in double figures. They were
somewhat disappointed that the Cardinals’ Omar St. John didn’t start, as he sat on the bench for the first half for disciplinary reasons stemming from a previous game. He entered the game at the start of the second half. Who would ever think that a member of a team that won a state championship would further his basketball skills at a Division III college? But Bryler Paige, a 6-foot freshman guard, did and is now at Baruch after an illustrious high school career at Christ The King in Queens. Paige has the background, plays an
all-around basketball game for Baruch, and can certainly set up the plays from his position. He felt that Baruch was best suited for him to continue his education and athletics at the same time. In order to attend Baruch, he had to give up football, since Baruch does not field a gridiron squad. His high school coach, Joe Arbitello, and Baruch’s coach, John Alesi, know each other, thus making Paige’s transition from high school to college much easier. Alesi carries a roster of 16 players, including four seniors.
Mayor of Ludlow spread her love all over L.E.S. PET SET BY JODI PERL-ODELL
hen Sadie Grace Perl walked down Ludlow St., people couldn’t help but feel happy. Maybe it was the sashay in her walk or the never-ending grin plastered across her furry face, but she made friends everywhere she went while she was living in the Lower East Side. Local 138, Ludlow Blunt, Kapri Cleaners 2, Cake Shop, Living Room and Pianos all had one thing in common: They called her the Mayor of Ludlow. I got Sadie 11 years ago, when I was in my 20s. She saw me through so many big transitions, and she led my team of supporters through graduate degrees, careers, job changes, finding the love of our life, Betsey Odell, and getting married. But it wasn’t just TheVillager.com
You had to love Sadie — it was inevitable.
with us. Sadie would lock eyes with everyone and smile. And when she did, you were a gonner. No matter how many times my wife and I warned people that Sadie would, inevitably, mess up their nice clothes
they would say, “It’s O.K.,” and laugh in delight as she shed all over them. She knew people in the neighborhood better than we did. She would drag, haul and pull us from one side of the street to the other and immediately ingratiate herself to strangers — now friends. And that’s what it meant to be responsible for Sadie: We had to follow love everywhere. She had a zest for life that many of us crave. Sadly, cancer took her. It was aggressive and quick and left us in shock. The staff at St. Mark’s Veterinary Hospital, who cared for her all her life, were there at the end. We shared stories of when she energetically ate so much sand at the beach that she had to have her stomach pumped twice — but she didn’t mind a bit. Sadie just curled her lip and trotted away satisfied she’d gotten away with something…again. She had the same smirk on her face when she found a way to steal socks from the top drawer of a 5-foot tall dresser, or
when she would duck down when we walked in, so we couldn’t see her lying on the forbidden couch. She wanted to love and take care of everything she met. And in the end when we were crying over her, the vet’s face dripping in tears, Sadie was at once upset and concerned, trying to lick our tears away. Junot Diaz wrote, “The half life of love is forever.” He must have known someone like her. Sadie was a riot, smart and even sporadically graceful. She will truly be missed by many. I will miss when she would sneak a kiss in the morning, and would never leave the bedside when one of us was sick, her hilarious doggie snow angels, and mostly her big heart, which taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Thank you all for loving her as much as she loved you. Farewell our sweet Mayor of Ludlow. Please share your stories and pictures at www.facebook.com/SadieGracePerl December 18, 2014
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THE VILLAGER, DEC. 18, 2014