The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
September 29, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 39
Occupy has not died; Marks 5th anniversary by bill egbert
ive years ago, the Occupy Wall Street protest spawned a movement and pushed economic inequality into the mainstream political conversation. On Sept. 17, participants returned to Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to recall the protest and renew their call for economic justice. About 70 people turned out for the sit-in sequel, which in-
cluded the same sort of costumes and strident signage featured in the original protest — though, mercifully, no drum circles. In addition to waving handpainted signs with slogans such as “Stop giving blow jobs to big business,” returning protesters shared stories and conducted teach-ins on climate activism, affordable housing and the TransPacific Partnership. “I think the Occupy Wall Occupy continued on p. 4
Lenin finds a new home on L.E.S., 1 block away! BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
omrades! Lenin will rise again! Oh, probably, in… umm….about month or so. … For the moment, though, he is lying on a Lower East Side rooftop at 178 Norfolk St. Michael Shaoul, who originally brought the Soviet statue to the then-new Red Square apartment building, at 250 E. Houston St.,
back in 1994, gave an update on the artwork’s whereabouts and future last Friday. “At the moment, the statue is lying on its back on the roof of 178,” he said. “He will be installed on a new plinth sometime in the next few weeks — our guess is a month. We intend him to be visible from the street once he is installed.” Lenin continued on p. 6
Photo by Daniel Kwak
All over Downtown on Monday night, people watched the presidential debate at bars and restaurants, like Ducks Eater y, at 351 E. 12th St., above. See Page 3.
300 rally to save garden; ‘City pits park vs. housing’ By Lincoln Anderson
s the sun shone down on a beautiful latesummer afternoon, the garden supporters gathered together, standing on lush green grass — so rare in this corner of Manhattan. Small white butterflies flitted around the garden’s moss-covered statues and monuments. Above, in the shade-giving trees, birds happily chirped.
Boxers’ registration drive......p. 17
But this feeling of tranquility — again, so hard to come by in an open space-starved city — was marred by concern over this place’s fate. Three hundred people rallied at the Elizabeth St. Garden last Wednesday, one week after the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development issued a request for proposals to build senior affordable housing on the endangered urban green oasis.
Some say the garden is in Nolita, others in Soho or Little Italy. But one thing is certain, City Councilmember Margaret Chin and the de Blasio administration are pushing all out for the request for proposals, or R.F.P., for the 20,265-square-foot lot, which spans clear through from Mott St. to Elizabeth St. midblock between Prince and Spring Sts. GARden continued on p. 8
Club appeals Pier55 suit to state high court......p. 5 Stringer defies de Blasio on Eliz. St. Garden.....p. 2 www.TheVillager.com
Borough President Gale Brewer and get her view on it. Of course, Brewer has said she supports a so-called “compromise” under which an affordable housing project would be built there while somehow — beyond flat-out opposing it, many are skeptical it could even work — also retaining a sliver of open space for the garden. This happens to be exactly the position of Councilmember Margaret Chin — an ally of Brewer’s from the Beep’s days on the City Council — and Mayor Bill de Blasio as spelled out in the request for proposals, or R.F.P., the Department of Housing Preservation and Development recently issued for the garden. Talking to people after last week’s rally, most thought the community would prevail in saving the beloved green oasis. However, Ray Cline, of the Village Reform Democratic Club, said it’s going to take some folks to step up and challenge de Blasio on the issue — as in, possible challengers for mayor. “It will take blood,” Cline predicted. We asked Stringer this week for his position on the garden, and he now feels it is “critical” to preserve it. In a statement to us, he said, “Elizabeth St. Garden has been part of the fabric of Soho and Little Italy for over 25 years. It is a center for the community that offers a variety of educational, health, arts and cultural opportunities for the public. In a neighborhood sorely lacking in green space, it is critical that the city keep this garden open for the community to enjoy for years to come.” Hmm, so to quote that movie title, maybe this be a sign that “there will be blood.” Chin’s monomaniacal push for the housing project has only further eroded any semblance of support she had in the northern part of her district. In backing the highly unpopular plan, de Blasio — already looking horrible in the ongoing Rivington House scandal on the Lower East Side — risks losing a wide swath of voter support in Soho, Little Italy and the Village...votes that a potential challenger could surely scoop up.
Here’s lookin at you, Blaz. Scott Stringer has staked out a position in favor of saving the Elizabeth St. Garden, in opposition to the mayor’s plan to develop housing on it.
Stringer (garden) theory: We were surprised at last week’s big rally to save the Elizabeth St. Garden when Tobi Bergman, chairperson of Community Board 2, was rattling off the names of all the local politicians who support the garden and mentioned City Comptroller Scott Stringer. We had asked Stringer a year ago what his position was on the issue. However, at that time, he basically took a pass, saying we should check with
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“It’s worth the trip down the street!” 2
Sepetember 29, 2016
Yuh did it: The Democratic nominee for the 65th Assembly District — i.e. the shoo-in to win Sheldon Silver’s former Lower Manhattan seat on Election Day this Tues., Nov. 8 — Yuh-Line Niou called us last week to catch up. For starters — since some people are still asking us how to say it — her name is pronounced “Yoo-lean Nee-yoo.” Hey, better get used to that name! Niou thanked The Villager for the article we did on her back in December, before any other local media had heard of her. “You were the first to introduce me to the district,” she thanked us. She said she was extremely proud of the campaign she ran for the primary election. “I think I talked to over 4,000 people myself,” she said. “I won almost every single part of the district.” While Paul Newell won Masaryk Towers, where he lives, Niou noted she
File photo by Tequila Minsky
Yuh-Line Niou, smiling after her primar y election victor y, probably isn’t losing any sleep about Alice Cancel’s running on the Women’s Equality Par ty line against her November. Cancel fended off Niou in the April special election when the tables were turned and Cancel had the Democratic Par t y line and Niou was running as the Working Families Par t y candidate. This time, though, Niou will have the coveted Democratic line, having earned it by winning a hard-fought six-way primar y.
ran only two points behind him there. Similarly, she did very well on Grand St., as well, even in the East River Houses, where Newell was backed by Lee Berman, who won the State Committee race. Niou admitted, though, that she was a bit miffed by a comment in our election coverage two weeks ago by Sean Sweeney, whose Downtown Independent Democrats club backed Newell. Basically, Sweeney surmised it must have been former Comptroller John Liu’s support of Niou that explains why she did so well in Chinatown versus two other Asian-American candidates, Don Lee and Gigi Li, who have deeper roots in the community. Niou implied that Sweeney’s comment seemed sexist to her. “Why is it that anytime a woman does something, a man has to be backing her up?” she asked, with an incredulous laugh. Plus, she added, Liu actually “stayed out” of that race since he was participating in another one — namely, an Ironman triathlon in Canada! We also were surprised to learn from Niou that Alice Cancel, who came in fourth in the six-person primary, and is now finishing her cup of coffee in Albany, plans to run in the general election on the Women’s Equality Party line. Cancel of course won the seat in a special election in April, running against Niou on the Working Families Party line and Lester Chang running on the Republican and two other ballot lines. But in September’s crowded open Democratic primary, Niou romped. It seems an odd twist, since back in February, as reported by the Daily News, Silver’s backers tried to get Cancel the W.E.P. line, but Governor Cuomo put the kibosh on it. As the News reported back then, Scoopy continued on p. 15 TheVillager.com
Photos by Daniel Kwak
Debate watchers at HiFi, at 169 Avenue A , gasping — possibly at another interruption by Donald Trump. The debate was live-streamed and routed through a projector. The bar had posted on Facebook that it would be a venue for watching the debate.
Presidential politics fill pubs
A record audience tuned into Monday night’s presidential debate, blowing away “Monday Night Football.” Bars and restaurants were packed with political junkies and many others just concerned about the fate of the countr y. Downtown Manhattan is Hillar y Clinton territor y, so not surprisingly the bars were bursting with her suppor ters. Donald Trump’s frequent interruptions drew gasps from the flat-screen watchers, while Clinton’s comebacks drew cheers — par ticularly after he questioned her stamina, and she retor ted that as secretar y of state, she visited more than 120 countries. Two more debates are scheduled before the Nov. 8 election, which should mean more good business for local watering holes.
Watching the action at the 12th St. Ale House, at 192 Second Ave.
A man walking on Seventh Ave. near W. 14th St., listening to the debate streaming on his phone — using it sor t of like an old AM radio. Because of the output Right back at yah! The crowd watching at HiFi in the East Village applauded as Hillar y microphone’s location on the phone, he had to turn the screen away from him to hear it better. Clinton zinged Donald Trump. TheVillager.com
September 29, 2016
Occupy anniversary! O.W.S. marks 5 years Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, 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
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OcCUpy continued from p. 1
Street spirit is definitely still alive,” said Marni Halasa. She’s a member of the Occupy spin-off the Alternative Banking Group, which continues to meet on a weekly basis, and also collaborated on a book called “Occupy Finance.” Halasa cited more recent social and economic justice movements that she sees continuing the original Occupy protest, such as the fight for a $15 minimum wage, the Black Lives Matter movement and the dark horse candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders. “If it weren’t for Occupy, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Occupy definitely opened the door for him.” She credited Sanders — and by implication, the Occupy movement — with dragging the famously centrist Hillary Clinton dramatically to the left, to the point that the candidate now touts a $15 minimum wage (albeit, only if individual states support it) tuition-free college and steep taxes on the infamous “1 percent.” “It remains to be seen what she actually does,” Halasa said, “but at least she’s talking about it.”
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Five years after the Occupy Wall Street protest at Downtown’s Zuccotti Park, veterans of the t wo-month sit-in returned to the park for a reunion of sor ts.
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Sepetember 29, 2016
Five years later, the message remained the same for Occupy veteran Marni Halasa, who continues to organize around alternative banking effor ts.
Yippie icon Aron Kay — who raised pie-throwing to a political act in the 1970s, famously “pieing” the likes of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, William F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly, G. Gordon Liddy and Andy Warhol — returned to the park where he dumped a bag of flour on the head of Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera in 2011. TheVillager.com
City Club appeals Pier55 suit to top state court By Lincoln Anderson
ast Thursday, two members of the City Club of New York, Rob Buchanan and Tom Fox, who have been litigating against Barry Diller’s Pier55 project, appealed to the state’s highest court to overturn lower court rulings against their lawsuit. The City Club’s suit was recently rejected by the Appellate Division, which upheld the ruling of State Supreme Court. The plaintiffs contend the Pier 55 project — a proposed “entertainment island” to be built off of W. 14th St. — was “developed in secret” by media mogul Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust, and amounts to an unauthorized “alienation” of public parkland. They further charge that the plan has not undergone a full environmental review, and does not adequately ensure public access. “In short, it’s a prime example of a public-private partnership run amok,” said Michael Gruen, president of the City Club. “This is a major potential case for the Court of Appeals,” said Richard Emery, the petitioners’ attorney. “It presents new aspects of current legal issues relating to putting public land in private hands and building a major entertainment space as an island in the Hudson without adequate environmental review.
A design rendering of the proposed Pier55 project, which would sit offshore from Hudson River Park, connected to it by t wo pedestrian bridges.
“The issues deeply affect the public,” he stressed. “Our goal is to ensure maximum public access to parks, preservation of incomparable views over the Hudson, and maximum enjoyment of the park.” The petitioners last Friday asked the Court of Appeals to reinstate a previous preliminary injunction on construction for the pier that the State Supreme Court had temporarily imposed this summer, but the
court refused their request on Monday. Pounding piles for the project restarted on Tuesday. Nine piles have been pounded in so far this summer, and now 46 more will be by the fall — assuming the Court of Appeals doesn’t quash the project. The Trust, the state-city authority that operates and is building the park, has until Mon., Oct. 3, to file a response to the City Club’s request for the court to hear the
case. The court will then decide whether or not to hear it. Diller and his wife, fashion legend Diane von Furstenberg, have committed to fund $113 million of the $130 million of the glitzy project’s cost. Under a long-term lease with the Trust, Diller would operate the 2.7-acre undulating pier and its extensive entertainment programming, 51 percent of which would be free or low-cost. David Paget, the Trust’s attorney, said, “The plaintiffs’ application does not meet the exacting standards of the New York Court of Appeals for securing permission to appeal to that court. Their arguments — part of a relentless delay tactic campaign — are without merit, as...decisively determined by the...Appellate Division.” A spokesperson for Diller’s IAC company declined comment, saying the Trust had provided one. According to Fox, the petitioners are challenging the courts’ position regarding the “public trust doctrine.” “The lower courts said the public trust doctrine does not apply to state parkland, just city and federal parkland, and that makes New York an outlier state, since most states recognize the public trust doctrine as applying to state parks,” Fox noted. Under the public trust doctrine, parkland that is removed from public use or used commercially must first be “alienated” by the state Legislature.
September 29, 2016
Lenin finds a new home on L.E.S., one block away! LENIN continued from p. 1
Red Square is under contract to be sold, and apparently the owners just didn’t see Lenin as part of its future. Shaoul and Michael Rosen — the building’s original developer, who currently lives in Vietnam — are not actually the property’s owners, Shaoul stressed. “I run the managing agent for Red Square under the current ownership,” Shaoul explained. “Michael Rosen is a passive partner in Red Square, I have no ownership in the building — the news stories have been wrong for 20 years on that part. Michael Rosen and I are partners in a few real-estate partnerships that own East Village buildings — including 178 Norfolk St.” Shaoul took it upon himself to remove the renowned red leader and relocate him to the new spot, just a block away — otherwise, the statue might well have wound up on the scrapheap of history. The sculpture made a brief detour to Queens before returning to the L.E.S. “Once I understood that the statue would be removed,” Shaoul said, “I worked out a deal with ownership to take him down at our expense and reerect him at 178 Norfolk St. He has
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The statue of Vladimir Lenin on the rooftop of Red Square, at 250 E. Houston St., three days before it was removed by a crane.
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already been hoisted back up to that property — he only had to spend the night in Queens, unlike Eddie Murphy — and we will erect him once we have carried out some minor repairs and worked out a way to keep him secure — hopefully, in a few weeks.” The Norfolk St. building is only six stories tall, but overlooks the playground that runs between Norfolk and Essex Sts. along Houston St., so it “should have decent sight lines, if
not the lofty perch of Red Square,” Shaoul said. “We carried out this move at our expense since we have become fond of the statue over the years, and so I am very pleased to see the generally positive response.” Peter Marciano, who maintains all of Shaoul and Rosen’s jointly owned buildings, “is the real hero of this episode,” Shaoul said. “He worked out all the logistics and permitting required to carry out the job in a very limited timeframe — and even managed to convince the cops that the statue was not being stolen. It would never have happened without him.” Shaoul spent last Friday fondly snapping some final shots of the Marxist monument at its longtime E. Houston St. location, before its departure for its new digs around the corner. “Erecting Lenin was an act of my youth, while moving him is an act of a middle-aged man, and I felt the passage of time,” he reflected, wistfully. “In a sense, the original idea to put him up there was a memorial to changing times. We started the project in 1991 just after the Berlin Wall came down. In a much more prosaic manner, I have seen times change, as well. “When we erected him in 1994, we placed him carefully to be gazing and waving at the Twin Towers. We have some great postcards dating from that period. We never thought he would outlast them. “Of course by the time he came down, he was waving at a couple of large rental buildings that had been built across the street,” Shaoul said. “The neighborhood and city have changed, generally for the better but not in all ways. The statue will stand in its new home as a reminder that nothing stays the same.”
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Sepetember 29, 2016
An old postcard of Red Square, with its Lenin statue waving at the Twin Towers. TheVillager.com
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September 29, 2016
300 rally to save garden; ‘City pits park vs. housing’ Garden continued from p. 1
Developers’ responses to the R.F.P. are due by Dec. 14. The housing would be slated for people 62 years of age and older. According to the R.F.P., the project would also include ground-floor retail and / or community facility uses and — in a token nod to the beloved Elizabeth St. Garden — at least 5,000 square feet of “high-quality, publicly accessible space open space.” However, that would only amount to one-fifth of the garden’s current space. Per the R.F.P., the lot would be conveyed to the chosen developer for just $1. The units would have to remain affordable for at least 30 years. At the rally, Assemblymember Deborah Glick blasted Bill de Blasio for betraying his pledge to be a community-minded mayor. “We thought this was going to be a new administration that was committed to community empowerment and community engagement,” she said, “and now we find out we’re not part of that vision. “You can come to the Harvest Festival and see this garden teeming with all sorts of people from the neighborhood,” Glick noted of the upcoming annual event on Sat., Oct 22. “We want to keep this space. It is desperately needed.” Glick invited de Blasio to come back to the table and reconsider his anti-community position. “The garden’s gates are open. The doors are open,” Glick said. “Come back and work with us.” Other local politicians and officials who back saving the garden include state Senators Daniel Squadron and Brad Hoylman, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, new State Committeeman Lee Berman and Adrian Benepe, the city’s former Parks Department commissioner. Yuh-Line Niou, who won the Sept. 13 Democratic primary, and so is a shoo-in to be the new 65th District assemblymember, also supports the garden — in fact, she has carrots and basil growing there. Also speaking in support of the Elizabeth St. Garden was Peter Kostmayer, a former Pennsylvania congressmember and now C.E.O. of Citizens Committee for New York City. “We basically have almost everyone,” Tobi Bergman, Community Board 2 chairperson, said of the garden’s political support. The garden lot was stealthily slipped in as a development site in 2012 as an “addon” to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, plan on the Lower East Side, which is in Community Board 3. Because Chin had only been able to negotiate 50 percent affordable housing for the SPURA mega-project, but wanted more, she quietly worked with the administration to designate the Elizabeth St. lot, which is in C.B. 2, as an additional development site. However, C.B. 2 was never included in the discussions, and was only
Sepetember 29, 2016
Photos by Tequila Minsky
At last week’s rally, A ssemblymember Deborah Glick urged Mayor de Blasio to come back to the negotiating table and save the Elizabeth St. Garden.
Actor Vinny Vella, a lifetime neighborhood resident, said the communit y has to fight together against H.P.D. to save the garden. On a personal note, he said H.P.D. took forever to renovate his building.
notified after the fact. Last year, Bergman, who passionately backs saving the garden, came up with an alternative idea — to shift the affordable housing to a barren city-owned open lot of roughly the same size at Hudson and Clarkson Sts. The Hudson lot was used to drill a shaft down to the new City Water Tunnel No. 3, but now sits empty. This alternative site could be rezoned to allow five times as many affordable units to be built than on Elizabeth St., according to Bergman. Plus, a treasured community
garden would not have to be destroyed. “They’re offering 5,000 square feet,” Bergman said of the sliver of open space in the Elizabeth St. R.F.P. “That’s the size of a basketball court. How do you get all the things that happen in this garden in a space of that size?” “It’s just another real estate lie!” someone in the crowd shouted out. In her remarks, Tupper Thomas, executive director for New Yorkers for Parks and the former administrator for Prospect Park, said it was her first time in the Eliza-
beth St. Garden, and she was awed by it. “It is fabulous,” she enthused. “It’s one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve ever seen. It’s got shade, it’s got nature, and it’s got art — it’s a complete park. It’s sad that in this day and age we are pitting parks against seniors. City government should be smart enough and creative enough to do both.” Aziz Dehkan, executive director of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, stressed that the garden is public land. “This is your land!” he exhorted the crowd. “Don’t let them fool you. H.P.D. keeps saying, ‘We’re going to listen to the community.’ Look at how many people are here in the middle of a weekday — this garden is full. If they were listening to the community, we wouldn’t have to be here. … This is your land. Dehkan urged de Blasio, “Make this garden stay green. Stop making it a wedge issue.” Calling her “the star of the show,” Bergman introduced Jeannine Kiely, the initial organizer of the Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden. Kiely noted her group has collected 4,500 letters in support of saving the Elizabeth St. Garden. Their goal is to make it permanent parkland. “This is the only green park from Bowery to the Hudson River between Canal and Houston Sts.,” she stressed. The area has a tiny amount of open space per capita — the equivalent of “one subway seat” per person, she noted. “According to one city agency, we’re underserved in terms of open space, but another agency wants to build here,” she said, incredulously. Kiely mentioned the hot-button issue of Rivington House, where the de Blasio administration quietly lifted a deed restriction, allowing the longtime Lower East Side community AIDS hospice to be sold off for luxury residential use, again, with no notification to the community. Similarly, the administration’s effort to develop on the Elizabeth St. Garden would rob the neighborhood of yet another valued community resource. “Instead of representing this garden, Councilmember Chin is failing to represent this community,” Kiely said accusingly. “The de Blasio administration is once again letting politicians determine policy.” Also advocating for the garden was Jack Russo, a science teacher at nearby P.S. 1. Thanks to this open green space, he said, his students have “learned about composting, planting seeds, germinating bulbs. …” In a letter, one student wrote, “It’s just like a farm — but it’s in the city, the biggest city in America. Let’s keep it here.” Renee Green, 84, who lives across the street, said she has arthritis and so can’t walk all the way to the YMCA, but loves coming to the garden and enjoying its many activities. GARDEN continued on p. 30 TheVillager.com