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

April 14, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 15

Judge sinks Pier55 suit, saying its arguments vs. ‘Diller Island’ don’t float BY ALBERT AMATEAU


Manhattan State Supreme Court judge last week dismissed the City Club of New York’s lawsuit to prevent the $130 million Pier55 project, funded by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, from going forward without a full environmental impact review.

In a 40-page decision on April 4, judge Joan B. Lobis threw out the lawsuit against the Hudson River Park Trust with prejudice, meaning that although the dismissal may be appealed to a higher court, the lawsuit cannot be filed anew. Diller, who with von PIER55 continued on p. 26 PHOTO BY JONATHAN ALPEYRIE

Cancel gets Chin’s nod, but Niou is far outpacing her in key endorsements BY YANNIC RACK AND LINCOLN ANDERSON


lice Cancel, the Democratic pick to succeed Sheldon Silver as state Assemblymember for Lower Manhattan’s 65th District, got a last-minute boost ahead of the special election next Tuesday with an endorsement from the

city councilmember who represents the district. Margaret Chin voiced her support for the current district leader at a press conference on Friday morning — alongside colleague Rosie Mendez, who had previously endorsed Cancel — pointing to her strong roots in ASSEMBLY continued on p. 8

Bernie Sanders drew a huge crowd at a rally in Washington Square on Wednesday night, less than a week before the critical New York primary. See Page 3 for more photos.

One win if on Sullivan but not if on Barrow BY YANNIC RACK


he city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved the designation of a two-century-old townhouse on Sullivan St. this week, marking the first time the agency voted to designate a property on its decades-old backlog. The historic house was first considered for landmark designation in 1970 and local preservationists renewed their fight for its protection more than a decade ago. “This vote is much deserved and long overdue,”

said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “We hope the commission will follow this by designating more surviving Federal-era houses in Lower Manhattan, and by moving ahead with designation of the remainder of our proposed South Village Historic District, which 57 Sullivan St. falls within.” The property was part of the 95-building backlog that L.P.C. has mulled for the past year. On Tuesday, the commissioners also gave in to the owners of One if by Land, Two if by Sea, the renowned restaurant on Barrow St.,

who, without a permit, removed the 19th-century white stucco arch on its facade last summer. Although the commission previously seemed to lean toward requiring the arch’s restoration, the owners will now be allowed to pursue a different design involving the exposed cast-iron columns underneath — their intention all along. “We feel strongly that L.P.C. made the wrong decision here by rewarding the willful destruction without permits of a historic and beloved feature of the building, and by not requiring its restoration,” Berman said. “It sets a terrible precedent.”

Villager does nyce at NYPA awards.................page 4 Mother of all Starbucks is brewing.................page 7 Editorial: Vote for Bernie on April 19!............page 18 ‘High-Rise’ has many levels.........page 23





When voters go the polls on Tues., April 19, for this epic New York presidential primary, they won’t only be voting for president, but can also vote for which delegates will go to the political convention to represent the candidates. Voters will of course pick their preferred candidate, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, but then can also select up to six delegates. For example, in the West Village’s 66th Assembly District, the Bernie delegates include the likes of gay political activist Allen Roskoff, District Leader Arthur Schwartz and former state

Senator Tom Duane, while the Hillary delegates include Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Comptroller Scott Stringer and former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Let’s say, for example, Bernie wins two-thirds of the vote in the 66th A.D.; he would then get four of the delegates and Hillary would get two. Voters’ choices among the delegates would then determine which Bernie and Hillary delegates would go to the Democratic National Convention to represent them. “In 2008, when Obama ran, I got more votes than Corey Johnson as a delegate,” Schwartz noted of the current councilmember. “I went to the convention and he didn’t.”

SCHMEAR CAMPAIGN? Supporters of Alice Cancel, clearly sweating the fact that Yuh-Line Niou may well pull off an upset in Tuesday’s special election for the 65th Assembly District, are focusing on the... bagels. Like a smoking gun — call it the smoking bagels? — they point to a heaping spread of them, cream cheese and cookies that Niou’s people were offering at the Democratic County Committee vote in February that saw Cancel win handily after Niou dramatically pulled out of the running, blasting the process as “flawed.” It turns out, Niou’s team had planned a meeting just hours before the County Committee vote with members of Sheldon Silver’s Truman Democratic Club. Niou and Virginia Kee, president emerE R O S I itus of Chinatown’s M N C & E S 1982 E I P ! United Democratic OrCO ganization, were desperate to swing Truman’s members over to Niou’s side, in hope of winning the vote. The COPIES • COLOR PRINTS • FAX • SCANNING bagels, while not exactSTICKERS • RUBBER STAMPS • BUSINESS CARDS ly an incentive, were LAMINATING • BINDING • VIDEO & CASSETTE CONVERSIONS going to be a nice touch UNIQUE GREETING CARDS • OFFICE SUPPLIES for the meeting. But we’re told that Judy SAVE TIME: SEND YOUR FILES TO: santo@sourceunltd.com Rapfogel, Silver ’s for& PICK UP @ STORE! mer chief of staff and 331 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10003 obviously a power in Phone: 212-473-7833 / Fax: 212-673-5248 Truman, walked into www.sourceunltd.com the community room in “It’s worth the trip down the street!”


April 14, 2016

The ballot: Voters in the 66th A.D. will be able to vote for president and also for delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Grand St.’s Seward Park Co-op at 264 East Broadway, where the political powwow was to be held, and simply said, “We’re backing Alice,” and walked out — and didn’t take even one bagel. We’re told that former Councilmember Alan Gerson, a key Kee ally, was there — no, not for the bagels, of course — but to try to help persuade Rapfogel and Co. to back Niou. Anyway, the bagels re-emerged at the County Committee vote, and, yes, we admit, we had one or two of them. So did Alan Flacks, the Upper West Side politico and famed connoisseur of politcal noshing. But, tellingly, Flacks must have found his bagel somehow distasteful, because after taking a bite, he promptly put it right back down on the platter. Flacks said he was enjoying The Villager ’s coverage of the special-election race, but clear-

ly the same didn’t go for the controversial bagels. A U.D.O. member who was manning the spread was outraged. Eeewww! That was totally disgusting, she berated Flacks, adding that it cuts across all cultures — you don’t put a half-eaten bagel back in with all the rest of the food. We pretty much have to agree with her on that one. Anyway, we digress… Matt Rey, Niou’s spokesperson, said the meeting in question had been planned to occur about a month in advance, but kept being postponed, and wasn’t some sort of intense endorsement affair, but just a “meet and greet” for Niou to get to know the Grand Streeters better. Anyway, all the “evidence” was eaten long ago, so Niou’s critics better come up with something more substantive — and fast! — or Cancel could be the one getting her lunch eaten in Tuesday’s election. TheVillager.com


The East Village’s own Rosario Dawson was among the massive crowd supporting Bernie Sanders in Washington Square Park on Wednesday night. The actress has been one of his most visible backers. Tuesday’s Democratic primary with Hillary Clinton will be pivotal in deciding who the Democratic presidential nominee will be and Sanders is urging a huge turnout.


April 14, 2016


Villager wins 10 awards; No. 5 in state Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editoral Page, First Place, 2015 News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009











Member of the New York Press Association

Member of the National Newspaper Association

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The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2016 NYC Community Media, LLC


April 14, 2016



n the strength of standout reporting, writing, photography and design, The Villager won 10 awards — including three first-place awards — in the New York Press Association’s 2015 Better Newspaper Contest. The Villager finished fifth in New York State out of 177 newspapers — mostly community weeklies — that entered the contest. The winners were announced this past weekend at NYPA’s annual spring convention in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Lincoln Anderson, The Villager’s editor in chief, won first place for News Story, second place for both In-Depth Reporting and Best News or Feature Series and third place for Writer of the Year. Anderson’s first-place-winning News Story, “The dark side of Purple,” revealed the hidden criminal past of Adam Purple — the godfather of urban gardening — and how he shockingly regularly sexually abused his prepubescent daughters and stepdaughters when the family lived in Australia in the 1960s when Purple, real name David Lloyd Wilkie, was in his 30s. As first reported in The Villager article, Wilkie served up to two years in jail for sexually attacking his oldest stepdaughter, after which he was deported to America. Wilkie soon re-emerged on the Lower East Side, where he recreated himself as Adam Purple, dressed head to toe in purple tie-dye, and cultivated the Garden of Eden, becoming a beloved quirky icon of environmental sustainability. The contest judges were members of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. “Wow!” the judge for this category wrote of “The dark side of Purple.” “Such a heartbreaking story about the level of abuse. Like pulling off a Band-Aid, it had to be done and this story was done as well as it could have been...comprehensive.” Anderson’s “The dark side of Purple” also scored second place for In-Depth Reporting. “Excellent reporting,” the judge for this category wrote, “but even more kudos go to the victims for their bravery sharing their stories about this individual.” In addition, Anderson won second place for Best News or Feature Series for four articles about the crusty pit bull attacks that terrorized the East Village last summer. The series started with punk photographer Roberta Bayley’s pug, Sidney, dying after being savagely attacked on St. Mark’s Place by Jax, an ultra-aggressive pit bull, while his crusty-traveler owner lay zonked out on a sofa on the sidewalk. During the ensuing rampage, two East Village men defending their dogs from attack were chomped on the arm by wild pit bulls — one of them suffering permanent nerve damage. The series ended with the drug overdose death of Jax’s


A photo from the award-winning Pride March spread in The Villager’s July 2 issue.

troubled owner, Natas (“Satan” spelled backward), in Tompkins Square Park. After reading about all the mayhem, the judge said simply, “A horrible story told admirably. Good job.” In addition, Anderson won third place for Writer of the Year. His entry included the Adam Purple article, one of the “Crusty pit bulls gone wild” articles, plus articles on Sheldon Silver’s arrest on corruption charges, Soho residents’ memories of the Etan Patz missing-child case and District Leader Arthur Schwartz’s arrest for removing a landlord’s surveillance cameras that he charged were harassing an elderly Christopher St. woman. “Lincoln writes some fascinating stories with a lot of depth,” the judge wrote. “He could have finished higher, but a couple of the stories — ‘Spy Cam’ and ‘Pit Bull’ — were overwritten. But the thoroughness of the reporting and organization of the writing were exemplary.” The Villager won third place for Best Obituaries. The entry included Anderson’s breaking-news obituary on Purple — who died at 84 while biking across the Williamsburg Bridge — Judith Mahoney Pasternak’s obit on Living Theatre legend Judith Malina and Albert Amateau’s piece on Joyce DeChristino, a devout Village native who was at least 100 years old. A two-page spread of Q. Sakamaki’s photographs of Palestinians subsisting amid the ruins of the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict won the former East Village lensman first place for Picture Story. “Using a former local to bring outstanding pictorial photos from far away is a gift to the readers,” the judge wrote. In a very prestigious award, The Villager won first place for Best Editorial Page. This category includes the editorial, columns, letters, cartoon and any photos on the editorial pages from three separate issues during the contest year. “Attractive, clean layout breaks from the norm,” this entry’s judge said. “Use of photography to enhance the pieces is well done. Refreshingly balanced editorials on a broad range of topics bring a very

personalized touch to compelling arguments. In-depth, well-written columns further the human interest. Headlines invite the reader in with a strong appeal to the ‘Why should I care?’ question. Localized cartoon. A nice variety of reader letters shows good engagement with your community.” This entry included editorials by Anderson on the proposed “Gansevoort Row” upzoning, Sheldon Silver’s mixed legacy, and this past summer’s homelessness crisis; columns by Harry Pincus (featuring his illustration of his father), Carol Greitzer, Ken Paskar and Steven Wishnia; and cartoons by Ira Blutreich and Evan Forsch — plus photos of the Naked Cowboy by Tequila Minsky. The Village’s hometown paper tied for second place for Coverage of the Arts. “I love the variety of topics, including haunted houses, Guerilla Girls and Penny Arcade. These are lively pages with bright writing that I’m sure your readers look forward to each issue,” the judge wrote of this entry, with articles by the paper’s arts editor, Scott Stiffler, and Trav S.P., Puma Perl, Stephanie Buhmann and Dusica Sue Malesevic. In another impressive win, The Villager took third place for Overall Design Excellence. Two complete issues of the paper were submitted, including July 2, featuring a two-page photo spread of the Pride March. “The Villager has a very nice cover design template!” this judge enthused. “Well-branded flag. Above-the-fold photo [on Page One] says something local and personal. ... The photo gallery of the Pride March is stunning!!! Its layout could not be more pleasing in the quality of the photos (and printing), variation of sizes, balance of color and the variety of images — the gallery is in a league of its own!!!” The Villager’s graphic designer, Chris Ortiz, laid out both issues, including the Pride March spread, which featured photos by Milo Hess and Sakamaki. Ortiz also snagged third place for Best House Ad / Ad Campaign for his Ricky Martin tickets contest ad. TheVillager.com

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More than a coffee store: The Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle.

Starbucks super-cafe, clash are both brewing BY YANNIC RACK


f you think Starbucks has already taken over every corner in New York City, think again — and think big. In what might be the beginning of an international trend, the company announced that it is opening a 20,000-square-foot superstore, designed by famed architect Rafael Viñoly, in the Meatpacking District. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which will be the ubiquitous coffee chain’s largest outlet in the world, is modeled on the concept store and interactive showroom of the same name that debuted in the company’s hometown of Seattle two years ago — and will stand in stark contrast to the more than 300 Starbucks cafes that already dot the city. “Our Seattle Roastery experience created something that had never been done before, transforming a retail environment into something far beyond just a coffee shop, and into the single best retail experience of any kind,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairperson and C.E.O. The roastery — which teaches visitors about the crop-to-cup process of sourcing coffee and will also sell the brand’s small-batch specialty roasts — is set to open in 2018 inside a nine-story building now being built at 61 Ninth Ave., at the corner of W. 15th St. “A local sensation [in Seattle] since opening its doors, the Roastery is coffee as theater, encouraging customers to interact with Starbucks roasters and baristas in order to deepen their understanding of the art behind sourcing, roasting and brewing rare coffees,” a company statement said. TheVillager.com

Starbucks had reportedly been eyeing another location in Asia — its fastest-growing market — to open the second Roastery. The new tasting-room concept was launched to build the company’s brand in the higher-end coffee market, and help it remain relevant amid the rise of specialty coffee roasters, like Stumptown, which has two cafes in the city. Starbucks can likely expect a steady flow of customers to the new coffee complex in the Meatpacking District’s northern end, since it is near Chelsea Market, Google’s New York offices and the High Line. The building, on a former lumberyard that was sold in 2015, is being developed by Vornado Realty Trust and Aurora Capital Associates. Above the three-story retail base, it will house offices. Aurora is also redeveloping the former Pastis site at Ninth Ave. and W. 12th St., where a Restoration Hardware superstore is planned, and hopes to upzone and redevelop the south side of historic Gansevoort St. between Greenwich and Washington Sts. The coffee chain made headlines a few weeks ago when one of its stores, on Seventh Ave. near W. 23rd St., saw construction begin next door on a Dunkin’ Donuts. It didn’t surprise industry watchdogs, though. According to the Center for an Urban Future, a think tank that tracks chains’ spread in the city, Dunkin’ Donuts is now the city’s largest chain based on number of locations. It has added more than 100 stores over the last five years, bringing the current figure to 568, while Starbucks has added more than 40 during that time, bringing its total to 307.

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Niou is crushing Cancel with key endorsements ASSEMBLY continued from p. 1

the community and highlighting her years-long support for public housing residents on the Lower East Side. “In this special election, I actually have a vote! I’m in the 65th Assembly District, and my question was, who am I going to vote for? And when I thought about it, the answer was easy,” said Chin, who has represented Council District 1 for the past six years. “Alice knows the community, she knows our schools, our small businesses, she knows about public housing. And she’s worked with the tenants — Latino, Chinese, African-American,” Chin added. However, Cancel’s lone new local endorsement didn’t do much to stop the juggernaut by Yuh-Line Niou, who only has continued to pile up more high-profile endorsements. In the past two weeks, Niou, who is running under the Working Families Party line for this special election, was endorsed by The New York Times, Public Advocate Letitia James, Upper West Side Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, and a posse of influential Latino leaders, including Bronx Borough President Rubén Diaz, Jr.; Assemblymembers Marcos Crespo, Francisco Moya, Luis Sepúlveda, Robert Rodriguez and Maritza Davila; plus Councilmembers Ritchie Torres, Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso. “Although Mr. Silver’s days as a power broker are supposed to be over,” the Times wrote, “his wife, his friends and a former aide managed to overpower the candidate-selection process earlier this year and maneuver a Silver apologist onto the Democratic ballot. Their choice, Alice Cancel, is a district leader who shows little enthusiasm for cleaning up the culture in which Mr. Silver thrived. “The Working Families Party picked a far better candidate: YuhLine Niou. … Her fluent Mandarin would serve her well in Chinatown, an underserved part of the district, as would her experience as an advocate for the elderly and poor.” Said Public Advocate James, “YuhLine is the best candidate to move this community forward and build a stronger city for working families. She understands firsthand the need to support seniors, families and children by protecting tenants, improving our public schools, and making our streets safer. Yuh-Line will help reform Albany and bring transparency and accountability to our government.” Rosenthal said, “At a time when the Legislature is working to restore the public’s trust after a series of high-level public corruption cases, I am proud to endorse Yuh-Line Niou, who will be a strong, independent voice for reform. The Assembly needs more women like


April 14, 2016


Alice Cancel, flanked by supporters Rosie Mendez, left, and Margaret Chin last Friday.


Yuh-Line Niou with Sean Sweeney of Downtown Independent Democrats, left, and State Committeeman John Quinn at D.I.D.’s holiday party last winter. Sweeney and Quinn, who is candidate Alice Cancel’s husband, are both furious that so many Democratic politicians have been jumping aboard the Niou bandwagon for the April 19 special election.

Yuh-Line Niou, who will fight on the issues that matter most to us, like protecting tenants, improving our schools and easing income inequality. The residents of the 65th A.D. deserve an elected official who will place their needs first and will help them navigate complicated government bureaucracy and be a strong voice in Albany. Yuh-Line Niou is that person and I look forward to working closely with her to continue to bring progressive change to New York State.” Niou was previously endorsed by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former Comptroller John Liu, state Senators Brad Hoylman and Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. Niou also recently won the support of a big labor bloc, including District Council 37 and the New York Council of Supervisors and Administrators,

Bricklayers, Steamfitters and the Mason Tenders District Council. Cancel has served as district leader for close to 25 years and previously worked for Silver, as well former state Senator Martin Connor. She currently works for Stringer as a community liaison. Niou is currently chief of staff to Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim, the state Legislature’s only Asian-American member. Niou — who clearly appears to have strong backing in Albany — hopes to become the second. The support of Stringer — widely seen as a leading future candidate for mayor — is said to be especially important in helping her continue to rack up political endorsements. Meanwhile, Chin was joined in her call for supporting Cancel by two local tenant leaders and Mendez, who threw her weight behind the longtime

Lower East Sider early on, in the runup to the County Committee vote that overwhelmingly picked Cancel as the Democratic candidate in February. “During the last few months, Alice has been attacked, and I don’t know why — she has done nothing wrong, but to work and represent the people in this district,” said Mendez, supposedly referring to criticism over Cancel’s ties to Silver, the disgraced former Assembly speaker and powerful Lower Manhattan advocate who was convicted on corruption charges earlier this year. “She was content being district leader and never seeking higher office, except all these people here — not once, not twice, but multiple times — asked her to run,” added Mendez. “And she decided to heed that call.” Niou’s camp, meanwhile, has blasted Cancel as a “do-nothing district leader.” The crowd of around four dozen residents and supporters that gathered under sidewalk scaffolding in front of the Hamilton-Madison House settlement in Two Bridges on Friday also included John Quinn, Cancel’s husband and the head of her Lower East Side Democrats political club, which played a pivotal role in swinging the County Committee vote to her. The special election to fill the vacant seat of Silver will take place on April 19 — the same day as New York’s presidential primary — when Cancel will face off against Niou, Green Party candidate Dennis Levy and Lester Chang, running on the Republican, Reform, Independence and Clean Up the Mess party lines. Both Chin and Mendez emphasized that Cancel has lived in the district for decades — and drew critical comparisons to Niou, who grew up outside of New York City — in Texas and Washington State — and only moved to the Financial District recently. “Alice is the one who really knows this district and gets things done,” said Mendez, who started to work with Cancel after Mendez became district leader in 1997. “Alice just has to learn Albany, as opposed to her opponent, who has only lived in the district for a year and knows Albany — I don’t know that that’s a good thing — and has to learn the community!” Ringed by New York City Housing Authority tenants at the press conference, Cancel listed the agency’s huge budget deficit as one of the key issues she would address if elected. “As a legislator, I will continue to advocate that the state provides its fair share of funding to NYCHA,” she said, to supportive shouts and applause. “And I will work to make sure ASSEMBLY continued on p.15 TheVillager.com




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Proud winner of 10 awards in New York Press Association’s 2015 Better Newspaper Contest News Story First Place Lincoln Anderson

In-Depth Reporting Second Place Lincoln Anderson

Writer of the Year Third Place Lincoln Anderson Coverage of the Arts Second Place Scott Stiffler, Trav S.D., Stephanie Buhmann, Puma Perl and Dusica Sue Malesevic

The Paper $1.00 31, 2015 • December 31 • Number Volume 85




Picture Story First Place Q. Sakamaki

Editorial Page First Place

Obituaries Third Place Lincoln Anderson, Judith Mahoney Pasternak and Albert Amateau

Best News or Feature Series Second Place Lincoln Anderson

Best House Ad Third Place Chris Ortiz

Overall Design Excellence Third Place Chris Ortiz

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April 14, 2016


January 29, 2015


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the wreckage in Gaza


In October, Q. Sakamaki, the renowned internationa l conflict photograph er and former longtime East Villager, was in Gaza documenting conditions after last summer’s 50-day Israel-Gaza war. On this page, top, a Bedouin family on a donkey cart passed a destroyed building in Beit Hanoun. Below, Hala Islam Mislh, 4, held her tank-shell-melted car toy while posing in her heavily damaged house in Al Auda, in Beit Hanoun. She and eight other family members escaped harm because they had been out for a feast when the house was hit. Opposite page, top, a Palestinian man salvaged a door from the debris of his home, blasted by air strikes, in Alshjaia. Bottom, in Khoza’a, near the Israeli border, a Palestinian family has breakfast at their home, which was damaged by air strikes. Though the house is dangerous to stay in, they cannot move or rent rooms, since there is almost no space available for rent after the war. TheVillager.com


Q. Sakamaki’s first-plac e Picture Story ry.

January 29, 2015



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April 14, 2016


POLICE BLOTTER Cab slams into her

A 32-year-old woman was left in critical condition last Thursday morning after being struck by an out-of-control yellow cab that careened up onto the sidewalk on University Place at Eighth St. According to news reports, the woman, identified as Meral Arisoy, was either thrown into the air or dragged a half block by the vehicle, then pinned by it near the Washington Mews. Emergency responders managed to free her and she was rushed to Bellevue Hospital. News reports said the hack had been speeding and going the wrong way down Eighth St. before veering out of control.

Wild Wald call Around 8:30 p.m. on Fri., April 8, police officers responding to a domestic-assault call arrived outside a 10th-floor apartment at 30 Avenue D in the Lillian Wald Houses. While an officer was questioning a female occupant of the apartment, a pit bull lunged through the door and attacked him in the hallway.


April 14, 2016

The canine reportedly bit and held onto the front of the officer’s gunbelt and bulletproof vest. The officer’s partner promptly shot and killed the dog. Another pit bull was reportedly in the same apartment, but was contained in a bedroom. It was later tranquilized by police and taken to the A.S.P.C.A.. The domestic-abuse victim, a young woman — who is said to have placed the call for help — was removed from the building wrapped in a bedsheet, reportedly with bruises to her face. The Daily News said that while E.M.S. responders tended to the woman, cops tracked down the suspect — apparently her uncle — at E. Houston St. and Avenue B and zapped him with a stun gun, according to police. Witnesses said the man was with another woman when police caught up with them. Both were arrested, but the woman was later released. According to police sources, the man had socked his niece during a family dispute. Continued on p.13


Police remove a domestic-violence victim from the Lillian Wald Houses on Fri., April 8. Responding officers shot a pit bull that attacked them during the incident.


Continued from p. 12

Stiletto attack Your shoes can be used as weapons. A man walking out of the Pink Elephant nightclub at 40 W. Eighth St. found this out the hard way. At 4 a.m. on Sun., April 10, a woman struck the man on his head with a high heel, causing a laceration to the top of his head, in front of a witness. The man was treated at Bellevue Hospital. Chanel Mason, 24, was arrested for felony assault.

Return robber An employee of the Little Owl event space was robbed on Fri., April 8, police said. At 4 p.m., a man entered Little Owl, at 93 Greenwich Ave., and demanded the employee get on the ground and give him all of his property. The robber placed his hand behind his back, simulating the possession of a firearm. It wasn’t clear if anything was taken. The man returned to the location the next day and the employee contacted the police. The police conducted a canvass and located the

suspect, who was identified by the employee. Police arrested Michael Torres, 24, for felony robbery.

Bootlegger on ice

injuries and pain. Andrew Carter, 26, was arrested for felony criminal mischief.

Hotel hustle

A police officer said he observed a man in possession of an alcoholic beverage at the subway stop at Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. last Friday night around 11 p.m. He was also in possession of more than 200 counterfeit/pirated DVD’s. Upon a search, the officer found the individual also to be in possession of an icepick, which the man said he used for protection. Ali Ibrahim-Van, 41, was arrested for felony criminal possession of a weapon.

Be careful who you bring back to your room. Police said a 61-year-old man returned to his hotel room at The Standard, at 848 Washington St., with a 20-year-old woman on Sat., April 9, at 5:30 a.m. When they entered his room at the swanky Meatpacking District hot spot, he was in possession of his wallet. When the woman left about 10 minutes later, it was missing. Police located the woman and the man was able to positively identify her. Brittany Smith, 20, was arrested for felony grand larceny.

Doggone destructive

Slash to the cash

The Papaya Dog at 333 Sixth Ave. at Cornelia St. was the scene of chaos Sat., April 9. At around 12 a.m., a man was observed damaging property inside the restaurant, police said. He damaged a table, a glass display case and a ventilation vent, with a combined value of more than $250. The man then punched an employee in the face, causing visible

Police said that on Fri., April 8, around 3 a.m., a stranger approached a 55-year-old straphanger while he was sitting on a bench on the southbound No. 6 train platform inside the Bleeker St. subway station. When the victim noticed the individual using a sharp object to cut open his pockets, he began resisting and tried to flee from the

station through the high-wheeltype exit. There was a struggle and the robber was able to remove the victim’s money and fled. E.M.S. medics responded and transported the victim to an area hospital where he was treated for slash wounds to his hands and face. Police released a video of the robbery. Police reported that, pursuant to an investigation, three days later a 24-year-old homeless man, Marvin Taylor, was arrested for robbery, felony asasult and criminal possession of a weapon.

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April 14, 2016


Tenants are fighting back and winning vs. landlords

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esidents of 90 Elizabeth St. and 22 Spring St. didn’t just win in court — they did it loudly and publicly. What began as tenant harassment and substandard living conditions culminated this winter in mandatory restorations and a cash payout of $205,000. Public demonstrations throughout New York City have placed a whitehot spotlight on the longstanding issues of tenant harassment and illegal construction. By holding press conferences, staging protests and marching in solidarity, Downtown Manhattan residents and tenant associations have been able to protect themselves against predatory landlords — and have begun to see a trend of success while publicly fighting back. The 90 Elizabeth St. Tenant Association has been working with CAAAV (Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) Organizing Asian Communities, Chinatown Tenants Union, Cooper Square Committee and AAFE (Asian Americans for Equality) since 2013. By helping tenants organize and mobilize, providing access to legal representation, and offering multilingual social services, these organizations, along with Manhattan Legal Services, Legal Services NYC and the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, have worked to empower some of New York’s most vulnerable residents, and increased the visibility of the chronic disputes in Chinatown about safe living conditions and affordable housing. James Fong, the landlord at 90 Elizabeth, had been fending off multiple Department of Housing Preservation and Development violations and complaints from angry tenants for years, when he finally offered to meet tenants’ demands for safer living conditions — providing that they stopped organizing public protests. Recognizing the role their demonstrations had played in raising awareness, residents continued to rally for support from local advocacy groups, and drew the attention of Councilmember Margaret Chin and state Senator Daniel Squadron. They were then able to bring airtight cases against Fong in housing court. A subsequent victory led to court-mandated renovations of tenants’ apartments to “make the apartments feel brand new,” according to David Tang, a community activist and lifelong resident of 90 Elizabeth. Tang’s neighbor Betty Eng, 43, has also lived at 90 Elizabeth her whole life. Eng, who is Cuban- and Chi-

nese-American, said she endured living with a range of violations, including a disconnected toilet in her living room and no heat. Eng frequently had to translate for some of the building’s Spanish-speaking residents, allowing them to voice similar concerns to her absentee landlord. Yet, she and her neighbors lived in fear of eviction for years. After living for months in an open construction zone and receiving a series of bogus lawsuit notifications, Eng joined with other tenants in an effort to prevent Fong from forcing them out. According to CAAAV, “The Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force confirmed the dire living conditions that tenants were facing at 90 Elizabeth St. when they conducted a building-wide sweep in July 2015, resulting in a stop-work order and multiple H.P.D. violations.” Six months later, a court ruled that Fong had to immediately repair all building violations, stop harassing tenants and follow safe building procedures. In the case of 22 Spring St., residents won a suspension of 15 months’ rent as a result of multiple egregious violations by their landlord. SMA Equities, run by real estate baron Sami Mahfar, had to pay out more than $200,000 in rent reimbursement to 22 Spring St. tenants, who had been living more than a year with clouds of hazardous, lead-laden construction dust in their apartments. After putting up with heat outages, gas cutoffs and no hot water, Kenny Mai, a longtime 22 Spring resident, had his electricity cut off in what he saw as a clear attempt to drive him out of the building. “Sammy Mahfour called Con Ed and told them Apartment 11 was empty,” Mai said. “I’ve been living in that apartment for over 30 years. Get out, or stay in a barely livable building. This is the choice we’re faced with every day.” Even though the conditions had been reported, inspectors consistently had trouble gaining access to the apartments. Mai said that the landlord also shut off all of the residents’ intercoms. “He made it very difficult for inspectors to get in the building,” Mai said. During months of rallies and protests, including a signature demonstration in which tenants wore Hazmat gear, tenants painted a clear picture of the harassment they have faced. Residents of Mahfar’s other buildings hope for successes similar to that of 90 Elizabeth and 22 Prince St., and plan to work closely with community advocacy groups and sympathetic politicians. TheVillager.com

Niou gets more nods ASSEMBLY continued from p. 8

that community-based review with a robust resident participation process is implemented for any infill development plan.” The de Blasio administration, like the Bloomberg administration berore it, wants to shoehorn in new mixed-income housing on NYCHA properties, including parking lots, to generate income for the cashstrapped agency. Cancel bagged endorsements from Aixa Torres, president of the Alfred E. Smith Houses tenant association, and Nancy Ortiz, who heads the Vlaceck Houses tenant association. “Alice has been a fighter for this community, and she is one of the first people I always call for help, for support,” Torres said. “We have fought a lot of battles, but Alice’s greatest contribution to us who live in public housing has been stopping evictions and supporting our children by fighting for education.”

She added that she was one of the voices urging Cancel to run for office, implying that the candidate was more than just the pick of the establishment. “It was the community, not any elected official, not any club,” she said. “Alice has saved thousands of NYCHA residents from eviction, and assisted them with getting stipends so they don’t have to move out of their homes,” agreed Ortiz. The 65th Assembly District covers most of the Lower East Side, as well as Chinatown, Little Italy and Lower Manhattan, and also stretches up into Soho and a small part of the East Village. An open Democratic primary election for the Assembly seat will follow in September, featuring candidates not running in the special election, including District Leaders Paul Newell and Jenifer Rajkumar, as well as Chinatown activist Don Lee and Community Board 3 Chairperson Gigi Li.








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Ode to a sinkhole...or, Oh, that sinking feeling


Public Hearing

aria Logis, who took this photo, says this sorry sinkhole, on Mercer St. between W. Houston and Bleecker Sts., is actually one of her favorite spots. Not fit for sitting, the sorely sloped spot is at its best in April and May, when the cherry trees around it are in full bloom, blanketing the ground with their pink petals. The site is situated outside New York University’s Coles gym. The gym, plus this spot and the Mercer-Houston Dog Run just to its south, are all slated for demolition to clear the way for a massive new university building, part of the school’s South Village expansion plan. “It’s one of my favorite spots and is about to be demolished,” Logis said of the out-of-kilter sitting area. “It’s beautiful and worth seeing. “The sinkhole has been gradually opening over the last 25 years, but in the last five years it has caused the area in front of the Coles center to drop about 3 to 4 feet. “The result is a stunning spot with three magnificent cherry trees, three benches and the ground they stand on slowly sinking,” Logis said. “This space used to be open to the public but more recently has been locked. “This is the last year to see this sight because it will all be demolished to make room for the new N.Y.U. building. The dog run was just closed and is filled with construction equipment. To the north of the three cherry trees spot is a playground that has also sunk.” The ground on this strip of Mercer St. sunk and cracked over the years because, when the block

was cleared in the mid-20th century for an urban renewal and street-widening project, the basements of the razed tenements and factory buildings were just piled full — apparently too loosely — with the demolition debris, not creating a firm foundation.

Proposed revisions to M5 bus route The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) proposes to revise the M5 bus route in Manhattan. These changes are proposed in order to improve reliability on the M5. The M5 would be split into two separate routes: the northern route would run between the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal at West 178th Street and West 37th Street in Midtown and the southern route (M55) would run between West 37th Street and the South Ferry Terminal. The M5 is a 12-mile, north-south route that provides local and limited-stop bus service in Manhattan between the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal (at West 178th Street) and the South Ferry Terminal. The M5 serves approximately 11,700 daily riders. The M5 is consistently one of the worst performing bus routes in Manhattan and is plagued by operational issues that result in uneven and unreliable service.

The city’s Department of Transportation maintained control of the strip for all these years, during which N.Y.U. never moved to fix the foundations. Now, however, N.Y.U. will be building on part of this strip — which it will now own, after finally purchasing it — as part of the new project.

MTA 57878 CNG 1/4 P 4.313” X 5.6875” 4.8.16 p6

Lost in translation?

Splitting the M5 route into two shorter routes will help to mitigate the effects of delays along the route while allowing for better recovery from delays and providing more even and reliable service for customers.

Date and Place of Hearing Wednesday, April 20, 2016 Hearing begins at 5 p.m. Registration is from 4–7 p.m. 2 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10004 The hearing will begin at 5 p.m. All registered speakers will be heard. Each speaker is permitted up to three minutes to testify. Comments will be accepted until the close of the hearing.

Uh-oh, Bill Murray was posted — illegally! — on Franklin St. in Tribeca. Who’ll be next? Bill Clinton, Bill Maher, Buffalo Bill, Bill Buckner...Mr. Bill? No!!!! Bill Murray might really have started something. This could get way out of control!

Directions By Subway: 4 5 to Bowling Green; R to Whitehall St or Rector St; or 1 to South Ferry or Rector St By Bus: M5, M15 (local or SBS), M20, X1, or X10 By Ferry: Staten Island Ferry to Whitehall Terminal Use TripPlanner+ at www.mta.info for specific directions, including express bus routes. Those wishing to be heard must register in advance either by telephone, by calling 646-252-6777, or in person at the hearing. Verbal presentations will be limited to three (3) minutes. You may present verbal testimony or submit written statements in lieu of, or to supplement, oral testimony concerning the proposed service plan. Email comments will be accepted and you may visit www.mta.info to submit comments online. All written statements must be submitted by April 27, 2016. Comments received after that date and time will not be considered.

Accessibility and Interpreter Services The hearing has been scheduled at a location that is accessible to people with mobility impairment. Sign language and/or foreign language interpreters will be available upon request by calling 646-252-6777 no later than April 13, 2016. Hearing- and/or speech-impaired customers should call 711 for relay services and then ask to be connected to 646-252-6777 to communicate with an agent to arrange sign language interpretation.




April 14, 2016



Annabelle Greenberg, 93; Dad ran 5th Ave. hotels BY RICK HILL


nnabelle Greenberg, 93, of 24 Fifth Ave. in Greenwich Village, died March 28 at South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, Long Island. She had fallen at her daughter Carrie’s home where she had been staying in home hospice status after declining health from longtime unpublicized kidney disease and more recent vision loss and terminal breast cancer diagnosis. Born November 1922 in Greenwich Village, she lived in her fourthfloor studio at 24 Fifth Ave. after her husband’s death in January 1998. After getting her bachelor’s and master’s of arts from Hunter College, she taught school for 27 years, mostly first grade, much of it in a lower-income Brooklyn neighborhood where her students sometimes had bare pantries she discovered in home visits. After college, she married Howard Greenberg in 1949, a fellow teacher 10 years her senior with an N.Y.U. Ph.D. in sociology, whose dissertation was on teacher retirement systems. They lived in Long Beach where he was teaching and raised their two daughters, Carrie and Nancy. Her father was John Spaulding, Catholic and Irish/English, and her mother, Eleanor Witt (shortened from Wittetsky), Jewish of French-Canadian ancestry. Annabelle always favored her Jewish side. She was active early in the women’s liberation movement and a talented dancer through college. She loved art, painting, museums and theater and traveled widely with her two sisters. Her daughter Carrie recalls her as “gracious” and “someone who



Annabelle Greenberg in 2011 at age 88.

would do anything for anybody” and “the most giving person I ever knew.” Annabelle’s father was the manager of 1 Fifth Ave. and later 24 Fifth Ave., when the family lived in an apartment at 21 E. 10th St. because of a policy forbidding staff from living on the premises. In her sunset years she was active at the Center on the Square senior center at 20 Washington Square North and she enjoyed eating and shopping at Agata & Valentina at 64 University Place, both on her home turf from childhood. She leaves two daughters, Nancy

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Everyone spoke of Annabelle’s incredible empathy and how she saw with an understanding heart and was an excellent judge of character while overlooking flaws. They spoke of her mirth and sense of humor.   “Our mother had a green thumb,” added her daughter Carrie. “She could make anything grow — house plants, yard plants. I still have a 65-year-old English ivy she nurtured and gave me.” One of her most important relationships was with her home healthcare aide of the last year or two in the Village, Adelfa Collado, who became her close friend as well and visited often in Long Beach after her recent relocation there.  Adelfa recalled Annabelle as “really, really very sweet.” One close friend said Annabelle confessed to succumbing to stopping at an ice cream shop on her daily drive home from Brooklyn to Long Beach. Sundaes were her undoing, she said, causing a dramatic weight gain, until she got her addiction under control and lost the pounds.   Annabelle joked, “Despite the weight, I kept my proportions.” A memorial is planned for the spring.



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Schaffer and Carrie Stein, both of Long Beach, three grandchildren and a great-grandson, along with extended family. Her friend of five years Joan Williamson, a Harvard Ph.D. in medieval studies who lives in Washington Square Village, recalled Annabelle “as a very loving and positive person who never spoke ill of anyone. “She was fun-loving and loved life and was full of kindness,” said Williamson. “She was a delightful companion and very loving friend. I felt honored to be her friend and am richer for the many hours spent with her in one another’s apartments or in the park and at restaurants and events.” Another friend, Ilsa Gilbert of the Westbeth artist collective on West St. between Bank and Bethune Sts., knew Annabelle for 18 years. “I miss her every day,” she said. Gilbert is a well-known poet, playwright, librettist and director of the PEN Women’s Literary Workshop in New York City, which she founded 23 years ago. Annabelle was also close to Elizabeth of Virginia, the late photographer Jane Cullen of Cincinnati, the late Florence, who lived uptown, her personal trainer Linda Smith of Arizona, and Marie and Joe Sabilla.

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Vote Sanders and join the political revolution EDITORIAL


his presidential primary season has been like none other, and now New York is poised to play a pivotal role. Bernie Sanders is riding high after scoring repeated victories over Hillary Clinton in other primary states, cutting into her lead. Sanders grew up in Brooklyn, then moved to Vermont where he has a long history as one of the Senate’s leading progressive voices. Clinton, a native Midwesterner, relocated here, to suburban Westchester, to be exact — after years in Arkansas and then in Washington, D.C., as first lady — to further her political ambitions, becoming a senator and, after a failed presidential bid, secretary of state. This primary season, in many ways, has been the year of the anti-establishment upstart. We see it in Sanders and, on the Republican side, in Donald Trump. Clinton, meanwhile, is clearly the establishment Democratic candidate. Indeed, the party elite did

their best to clear the field for her, but that didn’t deter Sanders. He started out slowly, essentially running as a part-time candidate, feeling it was still important to attend to his duties in the Senate, and doubting if he could really win, anyway. But as his campaign caught fire, and people started “feeling the Bern,” he realized he could grab this thing, and has been campaigning all out. And it’s working; he’s been winning. Meanwhile, Clinton, the mainstream media and Democratic Party insiders are keeping up the drumbeat that she has the race in the bag and that Sanders should drop out. But that’s all spin. And, more important, the Democratic process must be allowed to play out. There will be plenty of time later to focus on Trump, Ted Cruz or whoever the G.O.P. nominee is. In fact, polls repeatedly show Sanders doing better than Clinton versus Trump, Cruz or John Kasich. What sets Sanders apart is his blunt honesty, integrity, humanity and deep track record of progressive values. Clinton has been pushed to the left by Sanders, but where she really stands on the issues is often murky. Sanders, for example, has been out-

spoken against trade agreements that hurt the working class, and fracking and oil pipelines that would endanger our environment on many levels. Clinton has waffled. He supports a national jobs program to put people to work and free college education and healthcare. Clinton pooh-poohs all this as unrealistic. Yet Sanders offers hope and vision. He is an aspirational candidate — just as Obama was — and it’s showing at the polls. Clinton’s vaunted foreign policy experience can’t hide the fact that she is clearly an interventionist. Indeed, she has been blamed for the mess in Libya. In a telling moment in an early debate, Clinton defended Henry Kissinger as her foreign-policy guru, while Sanders called him a total disaster. Sanders mentioned how Kissinger authorized the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Clinton just shrugged and said Kissinger was still her man. Sanders simply sees it and tells it like it is. No B.S. Sanders has been criticized for not being sufficiently pro-Israel, yet he supports a two-state solution, as do most progressive Jews. He is also being hit for saying gun manufacturers should not be held liable for selling a

product that is currently legal. Clearly, what needs to happen is that civilians should not be allowed to buy these military-style automatic weapons in the first place. In historic firsts, Clinton would be the first female president, Sanders the first Jewish one. Some argue that it’s so hard to elect a woman president that, despite her weaknesses and faults — and her copious baggage — we should vote for Clinton. However, many women, especially young women, respond to that by asking, “Yes, but do we have to elect this woman?” Indeed, Clinton’s negatives are very high, and she would likely be viciously and relentlessly attacked by the G.O.P. nominee. Sanders — frustrating his advisers — started out like a gentleman, going easy on Clinton, being respectful, but now at last has begun to go after her as his campaign has taken on new life. He has hit her on her Wall St. connections and fundraising, and has scored points as she continues to refuse to reveal the transcripts of her handsomely paid speeches to Wall St. firms. Those transcripts should be made public. EDITORIAL continued on p. 20

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR It’s easy to criticize

Design devoid of context

Keep your ‘public art’

To The Editor: Re “Triangle memorial is a wedge issue in Village” (news article, March 31): The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire building is one of the most important labor and immigration sites in the world and it deserves a memorial. It is easy to complain — just think of the controversy around the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C. Now everyone loves it! 

To The Editor: Re “Triangle memorial is a wedge issue in Village” (news article, March 31): The neighborhood community is strongly opposed to this particular design because it doesn’t honor the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire victims in a meaningful and respectful way. This art brut, modernist installation is devoid of all historical context relating to the horrendous event that took place here and the building architecture.

To The Editor: Re “Triangle memorial is a wedge issue in Village” (news article, March 31): The proposed “public art” memorial is not a fitting remembrance of the victims of this tragedy. It lacks the dignity and gravitas that this historic event and its site — the landmarked NeoRenaissance Brown Building — require. A plaque with the names of the victims would suffice.

Fraser Ottanelli

Noreen Shipman


The experts’ presidential predictions are useless! 18

April 14, 2016

Constance Dondore

A charmer till the end To The Editor: Re “Bob Adelman, 85, photographer who covered civil rights, M.L.K.” (obituary, March 31): I was never offended when Bob flirted with me. He was just so damn funny and he never, ever stepped over the line. I really enjoyed his baited hooks and threw them right back at him. We spent hours on the phone discussing projects but also we just enjoying chatting…about everything. He was so damn smart! And quick! And at 85, did not miss a beat. I spent a week at his place during the last Art Basel Miami Beach. He had gotten an infection in a tooth socket and ended up overnight in the LETTERS continued on p. 20 TheVillager.com

Brooklyn land grab threatens community gardens LOCAL (EAST) VILLAGE BY BILL WEINBERG


n Maple St. in the Brooklyn enclave of Prospect Lefferts Gardens there is a little plot of land filled with garden beds where local residents grow kale, garlic, beans, peppers and other such organic yummies. Aptly if not imaginatively named Maple Street Community Garden, this is, like many such gardens around New York City, reclaimed land. Before local residents moved in and started turning it into a garden three years ago, for years it had been a blighted vacant lot, weeds growing amid dumped washing machines and car parts. “It was a total jungle,” said Tom La Farge, one of the gardeners. He was shoveling compost when I dropped by the garden on a cold day in early March. The garden has received some acknowledgement from pillars of the city’s establishment. The Maple Street Block Association received a $1,000 grant from the Citizens’ Committee of New York to clean up the lot. The garden is now part of the GreenBridge network, set up by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to promote urban greening with plant and seed donations. But on Sept. 22, 2014, brothers Michael and Joseph Makhani — partners in a limited liability company claiming to own the plot — showed up at the garden, tore down the sign on the fence reading, “Maple Street Community Garden,” and told the gardeners to clear out. When they refused, the brothers retorted, “You’ll leave when the backhoes come,” La Farge recalled. The following day, a work crew showed up in a truck. One of the garden beds was damaged before the police arrived. The cops sent the crew away. “They know us, not them,” La Farge explained. But in November, a notice of eviction from the Makhanis was placed inside one of the garden beds. This was the beginning of a complicated legal battle that is still not resolved, and on which the fate of the garden hangs. The entity demanding eviction of the garden is Housing Urban Development LLC of the Makhani brothers, who have a history of dubious doings — beginning with the company’s name, obviously intended to sow confusion with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development TheVillager.com

Neighbors confront the Makhani brothers in the Maple Street Community Garden.

Kids roasting marshmallows in the garden.

(HUD). They are claiming the property on very murky grounds. A house on the site had been abandoned after the elderly West Indian immigrant couple who had owned it died, and it burned to the ground in 1999. In 2003, the lot was sold to one Brooklyn LLC and then to HUD LLC — both entities of the Makhani brothers, in what La Farge calls a “shell game.” The plot had supposedly been sold to Brooklyn LLC by heirs of the couple who owned the house. “We don’t think those heirs existed,” La Farge flatly told me. The gardeners hired an heir locator, who failed to turn up anyone. La Farge testified before the City Council in January on deed fraud — seeing the Maple St. example as a case study. The deed that the LLC produced contained numerous weird anomalies — including the ludicrously low price of $5,000

and obvious spelling errors. (The suspect deed was supposedly notarized in “Worchester, Massachusets” — with both the city and state spelled wrong!) With eviction of the garden pending before city housing court, the LLC applied for the right to build a 17-unit condo development on site. They also went to state Supreme Court (actually the first level in New York’s court system), with a “motion to quiet title” — that is, to establish their clear ownership of the lot. The gardeners were barred from the site by court order from June 25 to July 28, 2015. Then the Appellate Division overturned the restraining order, and the gardeners were let back in. The Supreme Court appointed a guardian to represent the interests of any heirs to the deceased owners. In December 2015 the guardian formally found that the gardeners could have

continued access to the site. Housing court meanwhile barred the LLC from the property. For the moment, the tables had turned. By then the case was getting some media attention, especially DW Gibson’s write-up in The Nation. Commentators recalled an earlier case involving the Makhani brothers that came to light thanks to the work of a trio of young filmmakers who were producing a documentary called “Subprimed” about the mortgage crisis in 2008. The Makhani brothers had their lawyer send the filmmakers a “cease and desist” letter to suppress the project, but this backfired, resulting in some unpleasant media coverage. Jim Dwyer wrote for The New York Times on Sept. 5, 2009, that “both Makhani brothers pleaded guilty in federal court in 1999 to taking part in a scheme involving foreclosed properties in Queens; they were fined and sentenced to three months in prison.” The makers of “Subprimed” were looking into what the Times called the Makhani brothers’ “shady mortgage practices” in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood. This time they were doing business under the moniker Housing Preservation Development LLC — obviously intended to cause confusion with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development! Asked by the filmmakers whether the name was intended to mislead, Joseph Makhani actually said, “If the client is stupid, that’s not my problem. We’re not going to have classes to teach people how to read.” (Rather than risk a legal battle, the makers of “Subprimed” have largely confined themselves to campus screenings of the film.) The Makhanis’ attorney, Andrew Lolli of the firm Robinson Brog, failed to return repeated phone calls from this reporter asking for comment. For now, the Maple Street Community Garden is still there. There is no lock on the gate, and by summer it should be bringing forth its fourth season of organic veggies. But the cases in housing court and Supreme Court are both pending. The gardeners are petitioning both the city and state to take the plot by eminent domain and formally turn it into parkland, with the garden protected in perpetuity. Meanwhile, there are several such cases around Brooklyn and elsewhere in the city. The Eldert Street Garden in Bushwick and the Roger That Garden on Rogers Ave. in Crown Heights are waging similar battles against property grabs by suspected fraudsters. The Lower East Side has the highest proportion of community gardens of any neighborhood in the city. But important test cases are underway in Brooklyn. If our experiment in reclaimed urban space is to survive, it might be time for some hands across the water... . April 14, 2016



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EDITORIAL continued from p. 18

This election also has opened our eyes to the atrocious superdelegate process. Clinton already has won the backing of the majority of these party insiders, such as Governor Andrew Cuomo, Congressmember Charles Rangel and others, in New York State. The superdelegates were put in place in the 1980s to prevent candidates who were considered too liberal by the Democratic establishment. However, this process is simply super-undemocratic. If Sanders continues his surge and is tied or ahead of Clinton at the time

of the convention, and the superdelegates throw the race to her, there will be deep repercussions. And we’re not just talking about an avalanche of Sanders write-ins on Election Day. Young voters are overwhelmingly backing Sanders. They are the future of the party and of our country. If they feel disenfranchised, and if the party elite says, “Sorry, we know best. Plus, it’s our party, anyway,� it ultimately will come back to bite the Democrats. For a long time, this country has needed a viable third party, and if young Democrats feel their votes don’t matter, we may soon see the rise of one.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR wrote, “...but I always thought that I’d see you again.�

Continued from p. 18

hospital. When I phoned him to get his room number, he said something to the effect of, “Oh, darling‌I’m just so tired tonight. I think you should sleep in your own bed and let me get some sleep here.â€? And then he quickly said, “Oh, Oh‌I thought you were Branka!â€? referring to his girlfriend, when of course he knew exactly who he was talking to. But he was such a charmer. It was hysterically funny. I went up and spent a couple of hours in his room, and at least three different nurses came in to chat. He would always engage them in banter but also ask them where they were from (usually abroad) and then discuss the particulars of their countries and the political situations, etc. And the nurses loved him. One looked at me and said, “He’s one of the good ones.â€? That was the last time I saw him. I had a number of phone conversations and e-mail exchanges with him until just a week before he leapt off the planet. When I heard the news, I burst into tears. As James Taylor

Lorraine Anne Davis

Why taken to Bellevue? To The Editor: Re “7th Ave. So. Stabbing� (Police Blotter, March 3): A stabbing occurred at Seventh Ave. South and Christopher St. — within shouting distance of the stand-alone emergency department at W. 12th St. — yet the victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital. Does this strike anyone else as ridiculous? Diane Martella E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager. 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. Anonymous letters will not be published.

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Estonian women are the makers of ‘Mother’

Film follows prim and dutiful parent from mouse to lion BY RANIA RICHARDSON


wry whodunit set in a small town in Estonia, “Mother” revolves around the effort to identify who shot a comatose young man, now receiving round-the-clock care from his increasingly resentful mother. As he lies in bed, friends and neighbors visit and unburden themselves with confessions of their private lives. In this cast of characters, someone may know who’s behind the crime — so the prim and dutiful mother, Elsa, listens by the doorway. The intriguing, well-crafted film examines the interconnected lives of a tightly knit community, to expose the dark side of human nature. Accomplished Estonian theater actress Tiina Mälberg makes her film debut as the restrained leading lady. The film’s production team consists of a triumvirate of Estonian women: producer/screenwriter Aet Laigu, screenwriter Leana Jalukse, and director Kadri Kõusaar. An undercurrent of feminism girds the film: Elsa yearns for a different life, and even confesses to her inert charge that she never wanted children, and that motherhood at 17 made her dream of studying in Moscow impossible. Speaking via Skype in London, from the second home she shares with her husband, Kõusaar discussed her career and “Mother,” her third film. “Elsa has a mask on all the time,” says Kõusaar, lauding Mälberg’s acting. “She is self-sacrificing and does the bulk of the work. I have seen it with my own eyes, with my relatives. The woman is slaving away cleaning, cooking, doing the dishes — and the guy is on the sofa watching TV, with a beer. There has been a generational shift, though.” TheVillager.com


Tiina Mälberg as Elsa, whose dutiful doorway eavesdropping propels the search for her son’s assailant.

The crime is big news in the average town, where a portly constable laments that the biggest transgression on his watch has been a sweater stolen from a clothesline. Economic hardship is the prevailing theory behind the shooting, as many of the working class characters are struggling: a fiancé with no savings, a best friend facing bankruptcy, a father working beyond retirement age. Drawers are turned upside down to locate the stash of money hidden by the comatose son. Scrimping means that meals are meager, and meat is a special treat —

but the picturesque family home is always tidy, and the berry bushes in the garden are fertilized. According to Kõusaar, the shooting location in the northeastern part of Estonia was thriving in Soviet times, with oil shale mining a major industry. Environmental concerns curtailed it, however. “My grandparents had a similar house and garden. You had to grow your own potatoes and black and red currants because they weren’t sold. Average folks still suffer, especially in small towns. I don’t think the country is doing that well for a certain segment of society.”

Official reports, though, assert the Estonian economy is growing, and its citizens have a high standard of living. Smaller than the other two Baltic nations (Latvia and Lithuania), Estonia regained independence in 1991, after 50 years of Soviet occupation, and quickly embraced modern advancements with widespread Wi-Fi and an e-government for everything from obtaining a passport to establishing a business. Capital city Tallinn became a tech hub, where the software for Skype was developed. MOTHER continued on p. 22 April 14, 2016


Kõusaar’s ‘Mother’ nurtured by deadpan humor, bleak reality MOTHER continued from p. 21

With a mere 50 miles separating Helsinki from Tallin, it’s no surprise that Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki is an influence on Kõusaar. The sense of timelessness, deadpan humor and bleak reality in “Mother” bring to mind his work. She also admires directors Lars von Trier (whom she calls “a master of psychology”), Pedro Almodovar (the subject of her university thesis), and Jim Jarmusch — himself a disciple of Kaurismäki. Kõusaar’s first feature, “Magnus,” was screened at Cannes in 2007, when she was 26. Overwhelmed by the crowds at the foremost film festival in the world, she says she felt like “maalt ja hobusega,” literally “from the countryside, and with a horse” — an Estonian expression that roughly translates to “a country bumpkin.” A successful novelist, Kõusaar was initially afraid of cameras and the technological aspects of filmmaking. A small acting role in Amos Gitai’s 2004 film “Promised Land” (starring Rosamund Pike, who she slightly resembles) gave her an up-close experience with the process, allaying the fears that hinder too many women interested in the business. “The barriers should be addressed to encourage female filmmakers,” she says. “There is a bias by many producers who smirk or don’t want to do business with you, they just want to flirt. The other issue is biological. When you are having little children and you’re breastfeeding, you don’t want to leave them because of your mothering instinct.” Kõusaar shot “Mother” last August with an eight-month-old at home, and she credits generous maternity benefits in Estonia — even for freelancers — for its realization. She does not identify with the mother in her film. “She’s this gray mouse who then


Director Kadri Kõusaar acknowledges the biological barriers that inhibit women filmmakers, but credits generous maternity benefits in Estonia for the realization of “Mother.”

becomes a lion,” says Kõusaar of Elsa, who imagines romance and escape to a sunny life in Spain. “She has a craving for a better life.” Fittingly, the movie’s theme song, written by constable actor and Estonian musician Jaan Pehk, is titled “Butterfly.” Runtime: 89 minutes. In Estonian with English subtitles. Thurs., Apr. 14, 8pm; Sat., Apr. 16 and Fri., Apr. 22, 7:45pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave., at Vesey St.). Mon., Apr. 18, 4pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Visit tribecafilm.com or call 646-502-5296 for tickets ($20 plus $3.50 phone & web processing fee; $10 plus processing for pre-6pm screenings).


Jaan Pehk as police officer Savi and Andres Noormets as schoolmaster Aarne Männik, in a rare moment of action for the sleepy town in which “Mother” takes place.

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L to R: Katrin Kalma as Liina and Siim Maaten as Lauri. TheVillager.com

Two stories about ‘High-Rise’

Buhmann and Egan on class warfare within a vertical world

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW “HIGH-RISE” Director: Ben Wheatley Screenplay: Amy Jump Runtime: 119 minutes Wed., Apr. 20, 8:30pm at the SVA Theater (333 W. 23rd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Thurs., Apr. 21, 9:45pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave., at Vesey St.). Fri., Apr. 22, 3pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Tickets: $20 plus $3.50 phone & web processing fee ($10 plus processing for pre-6pm screenings). Visit tribecafilm.com or call 646-502-5296.



fter decades spent in development hell (and everyone from Cronenberg to Roeg attached), J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel “High-Rise” has finally made it to the big screen, no worse for wear, and as vital and disarming as one could hope for from a night of dystopian sci-fi cinema. As directed by UK critical darling Ben Wheatley and adapted with an ear for darkly comedic dialogue by Amy Jump, the film mostly follows Tom Hiddleston’s Dr. Robert Laing, the newest tenant of the titular state-of-the-art (by ’70s standards), high-rise. With the all but self-sustaining complex’s frequent power failures stoking the fires of unrest between the working class families TheVillager.com


Tom Hiddleston as new tenant Dr. Robert Laing.

living on the lower levels and the high society upper-floor residents, Laing finds himself at the center of this hermetically-sealed community as it falls into utter chaos and total class warfare. The slow descent into absolute depravity and madness is fascinating to watch — not least of all because, for some reason, no one ever seems to consider leaving the building, even as the violence escalates and their home, literally and metaphorically, burns around them. But, all things considered, this is not a movie that’s too concerned with plot in a traditional sense, but rather with feeling — specifically, feelings of tension and dread. Wheatley is aided immensely in this pursuit through the superbly surreal scenic design of the highrise itself (an elevator constructed entirely of mirrors, a parking lot that seemingly stretches into infinity, a distressingly perfect “supermarket fl oor”), which lends the film an unsettling, yet engagingly off-kilter, atmosphere. Instead of dispensing with story details in a straightforward way, Wheatley hops from vignette to vignette, and from striking image to striking image (framed immaculately by cinematographer Laurie Rose), disorienting viewers’ sense of temporality. Montages (expertly

edited by Jump and Wheatley) are another one of the film’s strong suits, as carefully shot abstractions are cross-cut with scenes of extreme hedonism and violence (and some dancing) — all while an eclectic soundtrack scores the microcosmic apocalypse happening onscreen. This more impressionistic method of storytelling lets one gradually acclimate to, and then immerse themselves in, the high-rise crew’s particular brand of collective insanity — allowing them to be both repulsed by and relish in its hallucinatory, gory glory. The cumulative effect gives “High-Rise” the feeling

of a waking dream — or, more accurately, a nightmare — where everything is slightly off, and logic most certainly does not prevail. In the end, the utter collapse of society and civility — both in film and out — seems not just like the only reasonable outcome, but an inevitability. “High-Rise” is bold, darkly beautiful genre filmmaking at its very best. The mix of sumptuous visuals, heady themes and black comedy, as well as its similarities to other acclaimed dystopian sci-fi fl icks HIGH-RISE continued on p. 25

April 14, 2016


‘Fang’ digs its claws into family dysfunction

Director’s sophomore time at bat has humor, insight, bite TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW “THE FAMILY FANG” Director: Jason Bateman Screenwriter: David Lindsay-Abaire Runtime: 107 minutes Sat., Apr. 16, 9pm at the John Zuccotti Theater @ BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers St., btw. Greenwich & West Sts.). Sun., Apr. 17, 9:45pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave., at Vesey St.). Wed., Apr. 20, 9pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Tickets: $20 plus $3.50 phone & web processing fee ($10 plus processing for pre-6pm screenings). Visit tribecafilm.com or call 646-502-5296.



n an early flashback scene in “The Family Fang,” a film based on the novel by Kevin Wilson, we meet the four family members sitting in a car as the father, Caleb, prepares them for a performance. The parents are the darlings of the avant-garde set, known for their guerilla performance art, with their children Annie and Baxter, identified only as Child A and Child B, growing up as players — and pawns — in the pieces. “Don’t let the chaos control you,” instructs the father. “The chaos will happen all around you, not to you,” a sentiment that echoes throughout the film. Chaos and control: Fang

family values. The elder Fangs, dominated by Caleb, created a tragic, comedic and subversive existence in which art is the driving force, with the parents acting as directors of the events that shape their children’s lives. The siblings have evolved into emotionally isolated, dissatisfied adults with difficulties coping in the world outside of their previous fishbowl existence. They have remained close to one another in the ways that survivors of extreme dysfunction often do. When a series of disappointments and bizarre incidents bring all four Fangs back to the family home, the psychodrama continues, despite the siblings’ efforts to separate themselves. The plot peaks when the parents suddenly vanish. Annie immediately surmises that it is a continuation of a life built on performance, despite evidence presented by the authorities. Baxter is less certain, and both must face the damage done in their upbringing. Were they a real family or just an elaborate performance? How much do you sacrifice and how far do you go to make what you consider beautiful art? With the disappearance of their parents, are the Fang children finally free, or are they still emotionally enslaved by actions, which manipulated not only the observers, but the players? Despite the circumstances in which they are raised, there is a commonality of feelings, and in the ways that the inner and outer lives of parents shape children. This is the second directorial outing for Jason Bateman, who plays Baxter. He does both with a balance of humor and insightfulness that keep the story accessible and touching, without undue sentiment. Nicole Kidman gives a layered and subdued performance; we sense her fury at her parents as she continues in the protective and nurturing role she has always played with her brother — somewhat heroically, since she was never on the receiving end of such actions. It’s a no-brainer that Christopher Walken is the perfect Caleb. I think it would have been more subversive if a “good


Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman, as Baxter and Annie Fang, deal with collateral damage from a childhood spent as props in the performance art of their now-missing parents.

guy” sort, like Tom Hanks, had played the role, but I have no argument with Walken’s performance. Maryann Plunkett, as Camille, does an excellent job (I wouldn’t have minded seeing a little more of her).

In the end, the mysteries of the Fangs’ disappearance are revealed, but we are left with many more questions about the meaning of art and family that may never be fully resolved.


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April 14, 2016


‘High-Rise’ has many levels HIGH-RISE continued from p. 23

(it’s a bit like “Snowpiercer” mixed with “Brazil”) all but guarantees passionate cult status, and soon — though its bizzaro, bloody aesthetic and ideology might not sit well with everyone. Keep an open mind, and it’ll knock the wind right out of you, and beg you to revisit its immaculately crafted world. You, like the film’s tenants, will find yourself disinclined to leave the strangely alluring, slow-motion nightmare that is “High-Rise.”



hough seemingly set in 1975 London, “High-Rise” is a retro-futuristic thriller, whose subject is as timeless as it is timely: the mutation of human selfishness and narcissism into a devastating torrent of hate, violence and destruction. However, no matter how grim the abyss of the human psyche explored here, director Ben Wheatley knows how to tell the story of J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel with enough dark humor that it leaves the viewer wide-eyed and entertained, rather than emotionally stirred. Though history is rich in examples that illustrate exactly what unfolds, we somehow manage to feel far removed from the scene. It is as if we were touring a surreal landscape, where the larger picture feels familiar, but the details belong solely to fiction. This might be largely due to the main protagonist, Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston), over whose shoulder we get to peek. Laing’s unwavering cool evokes some of the less lethal tendencies of “American Psycho” killer Patrick Bateman. Aspiring, desensitized and physically trim, Laing moves into a new high-rise development that promises to have all the conveniences and commodities modern tastes might desire, such as a swimming pool and a supermarket on the 17th floor. Still somewhat unfinished, it is a world unto itself, surrounded by nothing but a seemingly endless parking lot, which brings America’s sprawling strip malls to mind as well as Joni Mitchell’s lament: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” This extreme bleakness is all the more TheVillager.com


Sienna Guillory as Jane Sheridan, an upper-class actress and instigator.


Jeremy Irons as architect and penthouse-dweller Anthony Royal.

reason for the inhabitants to focus all of their attention on the interior life of the building, which under such pressure is meant to implode. Luxuriously reaching skyward like a “Metropolis”-worthy version of the Tower of Babylon, the building’s floors harshly illustrate the divided social structures of many a civilization: the lower, middle, and upper class. While Laing inhabits the 25th floor, the luckless documentary filmmaker Richard Wilder (Luke Evans), his heavily pregnant wife Helen (Elisabeth Moss) and

their kids, for example, live in claustrophobic quarters on the second floor. In contrast, the creator of the structure, the architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), is perched in the multi-level penthouse, which includes an outdoor garden spacious enough to evoke an idyllic English countryside, horseback riding and goats included. Unrest develops as minor power failures reveal the imperfections of the new structure, cracking the false facade of progressive and peaceful communion contained within.

Tension escalates as various floors try to claim elevators for themselves and the upper echelon forbids noisy children from lower floors from using the pool. It is Wilder, who then sets off the spiral downward by crashing a posh pool party with a horde of unruly children. A dog drowns, and Wilder finds himself beaten senseless by a mob. As anarchy ignites, the inhabitants increasingly shut out the outside world, bolting doors and indulging in their darkest fantasies and lusts — be they for sex or blood. Only few are able to traverse between floors and castes without being attacked immediately. It is Laing, who does, having previously finessed both ends of the social spectrum: Wilder and Royal. Because of this, we get to trail him and observe much of the mayhem through his eyes, pondering the question of whether seeming neutrality is the key to survival. All along, a fantastic soundtrack accompanies the end-of-the-world visuals, including such pioneering bands as The Fall and Can. A truly special treat comes in the form of Portishead’s first recording in seven years: a cover of ABBA’s “SOS.” When listening to the emotions expressed in those famous lyrics while watching the savage laceration of society on screen, both seem to belong to completely unrelated species. How can humanity and humans be so far apart from each other? April 14, 2016


Judge sinks suit versus Pier55 / ‘Diller Island’ PIER55 continued from p. 1

Furstenberg has pledged $113 million for the project that would replace the old Pier 54 just north of W. 13th St., was jubilant. “The court did what we hoped, reject completely the claims made by the City Club,” Diller said. “On behalf of the Hudson River Park Trust and all those involved in this project, I’m glad we can get back to the work, that of building a great park and performance center for the people of New York and all those who come to visit.” Madelyn Wils, president and C.E.O. of the Trust, the state/city authority building the 4.5-mile long riverfront park, said, “This marks a victory for the tens of millions who enjoy Hudson River Park. We’re pleased the judge dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety, and we’re eager to move ahead with what will be one of the most spectacular public park piers anywhere, yet, happily in Hudson River Park.” Tom Fox, a City Club member and an individual plaintiff in the suit, said on Tuesday that the City Club board of directors would decide later this week whether to appeal the dismissal. The square-shaped project, more an island than a pier, with two access ramps, would cover 2.7 undulating acres, supported on 547 concrete pil-

A design rendering showing an aerial view of the proposed Pier55 project, which will overlap old pile fields of Piers 54 and Pier 56. The new pier would be accessible by two pedestrian bridges.

ings. Its height above the river would vary from 8 feet to 62 feet. The pier would have three performance spaces, with a total audience capacity of nearly 6,000. The Trust and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation have agreed that 51 percent of the performance events on the pier would be completely free and 49 percent could charge market-rate admission. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation approved the project at the end of last month. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over navigable waters, has not yet issued a permit for the project. Nevertheless, the Trust hopes to be-

gin construction on the new pier later this spring, with completion expected in 2019. The lawsuit, filed in June 2015, contended that the Trust’s approval of the project violated the public trust doctrine, both the city and state environmental quality review laws, and the state Hudson River Park Act, which is the legal basis of the park and which established the Trust. The public trust doctrine holds that “parkland is impressed with a public trust requiring legislative approval before it can be alienated or used for an extended period for non-park purposes,” according to the decision. But Judge Lobis held that the doc-

trine applies to municipal parkland and not to state parkland, like Hudson River Park. Moreover, the judge ruled that the uses envisioned for Pier55 are all legitimate park purposes. (The park was built on a combination of state- and city-owned land.) Regarding the environmental review requirement, the Trust last year filed an environmental assessment form, or E.A.F., and found that Pier55 would not have a significant environmental impact, so would not require further study. Projects deemed to have a significant impact must complete a full environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., which could take a year. The City Club suit contended that the E.A.F. failed to take the required “hard look” at the project to assess the potential impact. But Judge Lobis held that the E.A.F. examined alternatives and potential risks to reach the “No significant impact” judgment. Pier55 only partially overlaps the footprint of the old Pier 54, built in 1906 for the Cunard Line, which it would replace. The state Legislature last year amended the Hudson River Park Act to permit the new location. Judge Lobis held that the project does not violate the act. The Pier55 project has the support of Friends of Hudson River Park, the Municipal Art Society, New Yorkers for Parks and former city Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

M.T.A. really missed the bus with split M5 route TALKING POINT BY SHIRLEY SECUNDA AND TERRI CUDE


n Wed., April 20, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority / NYC Transit is holding a public hearing on its proposal for a revised M5 bus route. Unfortunately, the revised route is far from what we asked for, in both concept and convenience. After years of our pleas and carefully reasoned resolutions, the M.T.A. has finally responded, but not with what the community and Community Board 2 Manhattan requested multiple times. Instead they’ve proposed to alleviate the well-known and frequently suffered M5 delays and “bunching” (no buses for extended periods, followed by multiple buses arriving at the same time) by forcing riders from our area — many of whom have difficulty climbing on


April 14, 2016

and off of buses — to transfer at 37th St. to get to or from anywhere north of there. Two separate M5 routes are proposed — one between 178th St. and 37th St., and the other between 37th St. and South Ferry. Forget a seamless trip to Lincoln Center or points in the 40s in Midtown. Look forward to being left at a frequently deserted location and to long waits between transfers. Our community asked for full restoration of the M1, M3, M5 and M6 routes, which served riders admirably. You could get to where you needed to go without climbing on and off buses and waiting for the next leg of your journey. Since the 2010 cuts in M.T.A. bus service, riders in the Village, Soho, south Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown have had to hike to a bus, or have given up and taken a taxi or waited interminably for AccessA-Ride. Included among these bus riders are many seniors, caregivers with small children, and those who are mobility impaired or for whom the subway stairs make taking the train impossible. Even if there’s an elevator-served subway station near-

by, there’s rarely an elevator at the rider’s destination. Those who are able to take the subway often can’t get into the packed No. 6 train, or get so squashed between rush-hour passengers that they more resemble flattened paninis than riders. In view of the ill-advised 37th St. split, it’s crucial to attend the April 20 hearing, which will be held at M.T.A. headquarters, 2 Broadway, from 5 p.m. to 7pm. Registration to speak starts at 4 p.m., or you can register online at http://web.mta.info/mta/ news/hearings/#M5-Bus. You can provide written testimony through that link if you cannot attend in person. We need to show our numbers in opposition to the split, so being there to talk is important. Some key points we suggest for testimony include demands to: • Restore the M1, M5 and M6 to pre-2010 routes (this is the most preferable). • If full restoration of these routes isn’t possible, increase the number of M5 buses and have two of them per hour turn west on Houston St. to start their uptown route on Sixth Ave. from there. This would serve

those who can’t make the hike to Sixth Ave. to get the M5 northbound. (The crosstown M21, when it comes at all, stops far from Sixth Ave. — not a convenient or easily navigated connection and one that entails long waits and multiple ons and offs that are especially difficult for physically challenged users.) • Have the M1 run downtown on Broadway to South Ferry and return uptown on Centre /Lafayette Sts., providing needed uptown bus service for the Village, Soho, southern Noho, Little Italy and northwestern Chinatown between Bowery and Sixth Ave. to serve the currently neglected middle of Manhattan below Ninth St. • Shift the M1 to Park Ave./Broadway above 23rd St. so we again can have service on Broadway in the Union Square/14th St. corridor. • If the M5 routes absolutely must be split to provide reliable service, overlap the north and south routes between 14th and 59th Sts. to avoid long transfer waits for completing trips. Secunda is chairperson, Community Board 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee; Cude is vice chairperson, C.B. 2 TheVillager.com

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April 14, 2016


How a ‘people’s bank’ hijacked a whole building TALKING POINT BY FRANK MACKEN


n 1986, the owners of 37 Avenue B, Manufacturers Hanover Bank, occupied the ground floor and the (Hispanic and African-American) residents occupied six apartments above: five rent-stabilized and one rent-controlled. The bank decided to close, but the community rallied and the Lower East Side Peoples’ Federal Credit Union was proposed to take its place to keep local banking in the area. Standard practice in the neighborhood then was to help low-income tenants set up an affordable housing residential co-op, or Housing Development Fund Corporation, under Article 11 of the Fair Housing Law. The residents would then became shareholders in their own building, with all of the clearly defined rights and responsibilities that ownership implies. Any commercial spaces would be rented (in this case to the credit union) to support the residential co-op. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development would figure out a stable budget for the building and, in turn, the H.D.F.C. would be approved by the state attorney general in Albany. This was happening all over the area. However, this was not what happened in the case of 37 Avenue B. According to the residents, instead of involving the tenants in the process, the credit union’s founders negotiated directly with the bank — meanwhile, telling the tenants that they wanted to help them set up an H.D.F.C., as their neighbors were doing. The tenants were never allowed to meet with the bank until the deal was done and the credit union then said it had set up an H.D.F.C. for the building and called an initial organizational meeting. When the usual co-op proprietary leases and shareholder certificates failed to arrive, one tenant began to make some inquiries. He went to a few agencies and was referred to the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, or UHAB, which had been set up to support the new H.D.F.C.’s around the city. UHAB said they had no record of a 37 Avenue B H.D.F.C. co-op, but when they looked into it they found something new, a rental H.D.F.C. Because the credit union could not own the commercial part of an H.D.F.C., what they had done was to set up a hybrid H.D.F.C. in which everyone remained a tenant, with the credit union now the commercial tenant, and nobody had any real ownership in or responsibility for the building. This backroom deal deprived the tenants of their right to ownership in order to protect the credit union’s claim on the building. Thus disenfranchised, the tenants were trapped as tenants, but the credit union was now “protected” as the dominant party in a weak structure, and could control the building for its own purposes. With nobody representing or advising them, the residents were divided among themselves and at a severe disadvantage. The result was a disaster for them and for the building. By 1994 the credit union was having financial problems and wanted to contain the rising costs under its original H.P.D. lease. The payments on the deferred mortgage formally transferring building ownership to the H.D.F.C. were due to start in October 1996. The credit union now drew up an amendment to the original lease restricting any commercial rent increases to 4 percent every two years, just like the


April 14, 2016

Residential tenants at 37 Avenue B say the L.E.S. People’s Federal Credit Union has been massively underpaying its rent for years — jeopardizing the entire building. Tenants recently hung banners on the side of the building in a desperate plea for help.

residents. Effectively, the credit union was now itself to become a rent-stabilized commercial tenant. This amendment was presented to the residents in the guise of a “fairer” arrangement, with both sides paying the same and “sharing.” They were even told it was a new path to the promised land of co-op ownership and that all would be well in this best of all possible worlds. Blinded by financial jargon, the few tenants who remained on the board agreed. But what they did not realize was that this amendment also struck out all of the net lease provisions under which the credit union was liable for any payments for the new mortgage, any increased real estate taxes and any other costs relating to the commercial space. It was a classic bait and switch. This amended lease would cripple the financial health of the building, which was almost entirely based on the terms of the commercial lease. Around 2000, I served on the credit union board for a few years with Rosie Mendez and other community reps. But the building’s finances were never mentioned and the history was hidden from the credit union board. When I asked who the tenants upstairs were, one of the current managers said, “just freeloaders.” By the time I joined the 37 Avenue B board as the community member in 2003, the H.D.F.C.’s financial problems were becoming serious. Property taxes were rising fast. Fuel and utility costs and everything else were going up. But the commercial rental income had slowed to a crawl. Every attempt the board made to persuade the credit union to restore the original lease was rebuffed. As the building slid toward default the credit union arrogantly offered to buy it out. Asked to scrap their 1996 amendment and return to their original lease payments, the credit union refused and demanded the tenants pay more instead. Their arrogance and “entitlement” has been astounding. The People’s Mutual Housing Association management bookkeeper calculates the difference be-

tween the terms of the original lease and the amendment of 1996 at nearly $400,000 that the credit union has saved itself over 20 years, while gutting the building’s finances and running it into the ground. The credit union’s rent in 1996 was $2,333 per month. Today they pay just $3,400 for 5,000 square feet. Meanwhile, the current market-rate rent for the space is $15,000. The H.D.F.C. board then discovered that the credit union actually used only 4,000 square feet while renting the rest of the space at $2,800 per month, thus paying an effective rent of only $600 per month. Confronted with this fact and asked at least to pay their own low rent and divert that extra sublet money into the H.D.F.C., they refused, and in a neat illustration of moral bankruptcy, they shuttered the sublet space. Today that 1,000 square feet still stands empty. Since last April, the loss of rent from that space is $33,600 — funds that the building desperately needed, and needs every year. The credit union must now restore the lease, pay a fair rent, or vacate. Simply put, the 37 Avenue B H.D.F.C. just needs a good commercial tenant. The Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, in the meantime, is doing very well. With an annual budget of $41 million, it garners many millions in grants every year. However, the executive salaries are no longer revealed to the members. The credit union’s net income from Sept. 9, 2013, to Sept. 9, 2014, was $1.41 million. Rent paid during that period: $40,000! This is a success built on a history of exploitation and abuse of the actual residents, of the “rock” on which the credit union was founded. It is time for a long-overdue change in management at the L.E.S.P.F.C.U. At long last, have they no shame? Macken is community representative, 37 Avenue B HDFC board TheVillager.com

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April 14, 2016


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April 14, 2016

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April 14, 2016



Tya Scott is escorted by a police officer out of 316 E. Eighth St. prior to the building’s demolition.

The destruction of 316 E. Eighth St.



he city took a wrecking ball to an East Village squatter family’s home, and the community didn’t like it one bit. The squatter clan and dozens of supportive neighbors gathered to protest the demolition of a building in the East Village 17 years ago. In a story that shone a spotlight on a familiar conflict of that time, The Villager published an account of the destruction of 316 E. Eighth St., a six-story walk-up, on April 6, 1989. “It was past noon time when police emerged with Tya Scott, a 52-year-old woman who had worked on the building for close to five years and had lived there with her sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren,” the article reported. “Scott was emotional after being brought out. ‘They don’t have a vacate order,’ said Scott. ‘I’ve devoted my life to this building.’ ” The reporter also quoted a local activist complaining about the pressure to take down buildings in the neighborhood to make way for market-rate development — a complaint still heard in the neighborhood today, even though the squatters are long gone. The protesters in this incident managed to hold up the demolition for quite some time by storming police barricades, hurling rocks and even taking aim at a commanding officer. Michael Julian, head of the Ninth Precinct, dressed in civilian garb, found himself in the middle of a scuffle when some protesters


April 14, 2016

Another officer carried a dog out of the building.

grew frustrated and tried storming a nearby luxury condo building — a symbol of the neighborhood’s gentrification. “When Julian grabbed one man who had thrown a rock and broken a lobby window at the Christadora, another man threw a brick directly at Julian, narrowly missing him,” The Villager reported, noting that the top cop thought he was likely mistaken for a resident of the condominium. “The Deputy Inspector chased the man across the street into Tompkins Square Park, and when he caught up with the man, a woman jumped on Julian’s back and pulled on his hair,” the article said. But, ultimately, the fight was futile: The family’s belongings were dumped on the sidewalk and the crane began to claw away at the building, with the crowd gathered to watch it crumble. Although the city claimed the demolition was proper and required to protect health and safety, Scott complained bitterly. “‘The children’s belongings were all thrown to the ground,’ ” she told a reporter. “ ‘I didn’t have to be treated like an animal.’ ” TheVillager.com

Brrrrrring it on! G.V.L.L. chills on opening day BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


t was rainy and the mercury was hitting the 30s, so it wasn’t a great day to be hitting baseballs. Nevertheless, 600 hardy Greenwich Village Little Leaguers — from T-balling tykes to 16-year-old Seniors — wearing their uniforms and toting colorful team banners, trooped onto Pier 40 last Saturday morning to kick off the Little League season. Joining them on the W. Houston St. mega-pier was a heavy-hitting lineup of local politicians and community leaders, plus Staten Island Yankees mascot Scooter the Holy Cow. Concerned about the weather forecast, G.V.L.L. President Carin Ehrenberg had consulted with others beforehand, wondering whether to reschedule for a better day. But, like a batter swinging away on a 3-and-0 count, she just decided to go for it. “And with everything going on with Pier 40, it was a super-important day,” she said. “We want to use it as a platform to remind our elected officials who came to opening day that Pier 40 is important for us.” Ehrenberg is entering her second year as the league’s leader. Despite the popular conception that she is G.V.L.L.’s first female president, she said there actually was another woman who led the league back in the 1980s. Leading the parade into the artificial-turf youth sports mecca Saturday morning and carrying the American flag were two outstanding G.V.L.L. alumni: Eli Kimbell, who will be playing baseball at Princeton University, and Max Schneider, who has a sportswriting scholarship to Vanderbilt University. The league fields 800 players, so a turnout of 600 on Saturday was pretty good. “I was pretty impressed since it was 40 degrees,” Ehrenberg said. Her own kids, in fact, have aged out of the league, yet she has stayed involved with it due to her belief in youth athletics’ importance — something she touched upon in her brief speech on opening day. “Sports help kids learn to deal with adversity and become team players,” she said. Her speech focused on the theme of parks and ball fields and their importance to the community. Last year, her speech’s theme was volunteers, and she highlighted people who have given their time to help make G.V.L.L. better. There was a real “murderers’ row” of local pols out on the pier last Saturday, including Assemblymember Deborah Glick, state Senator Brad Hoylman, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Borough President Gale TheVillager.com


Brewer up to bat! Borough President Gale Brewer — no relation to the Milwaukee Brewers — helped G.V.L.L. get into the swing of the new season, as league president Carin Ehrenberg waited on deck.

Brewer and Councilmember Corey Johnson, plus Madelyn Wils, the president and C.E.O. of the Hudson River Park Trust, and Tobi Bergman, the chairperson of Community Board 2, along with Bob Gormley, the board’s district manager, and former Chairperson David Gruber. “Hurricane” Hoylman threw out the season’s first baseball pitch, while “Wild Thing” Wils fired in the first softball pitch. The Pier 40 Champions group made “Save Pier 40” buttons for the event. Gruber is heading up a C.B. 2 task force that is focused on the complex plan under which Pier 40’s unused development rights will be sold across the highway for a massive new development on the St. John’s Center site. The millions of dollars from the air-rights sale will be funneled back into Pier 40 to repair the crumbling pier. Last year, G.V.L.L. opening day also featured Sandy the Seagull, the Brooklyn Cyclones mascot. “We didn’t invite the seagull this year,” Ehrenberg explained, “not because we’re anti-seagull. We have nothing against the Cyclones. We get the cow — he’s part of a package deal with us and Downtown Little League. And then we have the P3 mascot, which is this dog, one of the P3 coaches. I keep telling them to name the dog.” April 14, 2016





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“Politics is what we create by what we do, what we hope for, and what we dare to imagine.” Parent, A Lawyer and A Community Leader I have lived with these words as a–Senator guide.Paul Wellstone



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FIGHTING FOR WORKPLACE JUSTICE, COMMUNITY JUSTICE, OF LEADERS IN LOCAL POLITICS SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER Bernie, Arthur and daughter Rebecca. OF LEADERS IN LOCAL POLITICS DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY SEPTEMBER 13, 2016 JUSTICE ON ARTHURENVIRONMENTAL Z. SCHWARTZ: JUSTICE, & ECONOMIC “Arthur was my treasurer, is a friend WHEN ARTHUR SCHWARTZ and a great collaborator over many Whenever anyone calls on Arthur to do something good, he’s there SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER years, and I support him! I think he’d SPEAKS and he doesn’t ask what’s in it for him and he doesn’t ask how much be terrific in the Assembly! IMPORTANT ONthere ARTHUR Z. ask SCHWARTZ: money is and he doesn’t anything. He just does it. And you TO BRING FORWARD A NEW GENERATION

Bernie, Arthur and daughter Rebecca



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more importantly, just working to see that the government worked, You people know, for a of thousand years And people had let run only self-interest. of course wesomeone have a lotelse of that. April 14, 2016were




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The Villager • April 14, 2016  


The Villager • April 14, 2016