Page 1

Weinstein, Trump Flaps Earn Vance a Write-In Foe 01

City Slip-Ups, Hell’s Kitchen Demolition 01


October 19 – November 1, 2017 | Vol. 03 No. 21



GOP Bid in East Side District 4 07

The Case Against Con-Con 10

Chelsea Bombing Verdict 03

City Slip-Ups Allow Hell’s Kitchen Residential Demolition BY LEVAR ALONZO At its most recent meeting, Community Board 4 members and elected officials on hand were up in arms as they discussed lapses by the Department of Buildings (DOB) that are allowing for the demolition of two more residential buildings in Hell’s Kitchen. The pair of four-story buildings at 335-337 W. 55th St. that are zoned in the Special Clinton District currently sit surrounded by scaffolding and construction netting. According to DOB records, the building owner filed for a series of alterations that included adding two more floors, extending the rear, removing the interior stairway, and placing a passenger elevator in the building. The DOB approved the application for the alterations in 2012 but the form made no mention of full-scale demolition. “We learn that the DOB tolerates when developers lie to them on forms that are filed,” said State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried at the Oct. 4 full board meeting of CB4. “I get angry when people lie to me. It doesn’t seem to bother the DOB much, because when they follow up on a complaint they tell the developers just file new paperwork.” CB4 believes that the landowner checked off in their paperwork that the plan was for alterations in order to mask the complete demolition and rebuilding of the DEMOLITION continued on p. 4

Photo by Levar Alonzo

Despite their location within the Special Clinton District, a pair of four-story residential buildings at 335337 W. 55th St. did not have sufficient protection from efforts by their owner to demolish them.

Photo courtesy of marcforda.com Photo courtesy of cyvanceforda.com

Incumbent District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., is seeking a third four-term on November 7.

Marc Fliedner, a longtime prosecutor in Brooklyn, is waging a write-in campaign against Vance in the wake of questions about the DA’s handling of inquiries into Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr., and Harvey Weinstein.

WEINSTEIN, TRUMP SCANDALS EARN CY VANCE A WRITE-IN FOE BY PAUL SCHINDLER When Manhattan Express sat down with District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., on Sept. 6 for an interview currently airing on Manhattan Neighborhood Network (youtube.com/watch?v=RHgiKX7lsl0), the two-term incumbent seemed headed toward an unopposed and decidedly non-controversial reelection. Vance discussed a variety of issues, some of which highlighted progressive reforms he’s championed since assuming office in 2010 — including diversion of a significant number of low-level offenses away from criminal penalties, support for marijuana law reform, the establishment of a conviction integrity unit to investigate new evidence that emerges about past actions by his office, and funding for more than 50,000 rape kits that had gone untested in jurisdictions nationwide. He also addressed questions that have been raised recently about procedures the city medical examiner employed to analyze small DNA samples and explained the statement he issued when the DA’s office decided earlier this year to bring no indictments in its inquiry into 2014 State Senate contributions made by Mayor Bill de Blasio and his political allies. But for Vance, the past month has been an eternity in public perceptions about his stewardship of

October 19 – November 1, 2017 | Vol. 03 No. 21

the DA’s office. On Oct. 4, the New Yorker, working in tandem with ProPublica and WNYC, published an investigative piece that raised serious questions about whether campaign contributions influenced his decision in 2012 not to proceed with criminal indictments of Ivanka Trump and her brother, Donald Trump, Jr., in connection with alleged fraud in the marketing of condo units in the Trump Soho. And in the past week, Vance has been tarred in the exploding Harvey Weinstein scandal because of his decision two years ago not to prosecute the movie mogul on charges of groping a woman in his Tribeca office, despite the alleged victim’s audio tape, captured in cooperation with the NYPD, of Weinstein acknowledging the truth of a portion of her story. In that case, too, campaign donations are a part of the story. The Weinstein case turbocharged the questions Vance faced, and in a Sunday op-ed in the Daily News, the district attorney announced he was suspending all campaign fundraising for 90 days while the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School does a comprehensive review of the way his campaigns have handled donations. Vance will still appear on the November 7 ballot unopposed officially, but the string of controverSCANDALS continued on p. 27



October 19, 2017

NYC Community Media

Swift Justice: Jury Convicts Chelsea Bomber in Under Four Hours BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Forty fi ngerprints. Fifty-two witnesses. Eight days of trial. And about four hours of deliberation for a federal jury to fi nd Ahmad Khan Rahimi guilty of a bombing and attempted bombing in Chelsea. It was a little over a year ago when an explosion on W. 23rd St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) shattered glass and serenity, propelled shrapnel into people and places, and damaged buildings and businesses. Details about that Sat., Sept. 17, 2016 night and its aftermath were revealed at the trial where surveillance video and selfies were shown, experts and law enforcement testified about explosive devices and forensics, victims spoke about their injuries and being terrified, and exhibits such as a 100-pound, twisted metal dumpster were displayed. It began on Mon., Oct. 2 with the prosecution saying it would present six types of evidence for the jury, and the defense reminding them that Rahimi — a New Jersey resident now 29 — was “a person who is presumed innocent� and that there was, in fact, reasonable doubt. It ended with the defense calling no witnesses, closing arguments that sparred about what Rahimi intended to happen on W. 27th St. — where a device was found but did not detonate — and, ultimately, Rahimi’s conviction of all eight charges on Mon., Oct. 16.

8,000 GALVANIZED STEEL BBs On the morning of Thurs., Oct. 12, the government called its last witness, Tsitsi Merritt, who described how the blast made her feel like she had “alien head.� Prosecutors showed

Courtesy US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY

King David Gallery on W. 23rd St., after a device exploded nearby on the night of Sat., Sept. 17, 2016.

her a photograph of a fi reman carrying her son, and they were both taken to the hospital for injuries. She told the court she had gone for counseling. After Merritt, the government rested its case. Now it was the defense’s turn. For about an hour, Rahimi and his attorneys were out of the courtroom. When they returned, the defense rested as well: They would not be calling any witnesses, including Rahimi. “There’s no miracle defense. It’s not a defense that no one died,� VERDICT continued on p. 8

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DEMOLITION continued from p. 1

buildings, a technique they are very familiar with. The board also noted that the owner had managed to eliminate all the residential units in the buildings. “This is a far too common problem in our neighborhoods. Landlords or owners file with the DOB for alterations to be done on their buildings, but those changes often include a full scale demo,” said CB4 member Joe Restuccia, who also serves as executive director of Clinton Housing Development Company. “If you walk by these buildings today, you will see for yourself the full scale demolition that is happening.” In a proposed letter to the DOB, which has the unanimous support of the full community board, the CB4 Clinton/ Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee asked the city to place an immediate Stop Work Order on the buildings. The letter expressed the board’s outrage and requested that the DOB “treat this matter with the urgency it requires.” Elsewhere in the letter, the committee noted, “The owner, who filed renovation work under the DOB, has not only exceeded the scope of work described in the job application, but also successfully vacated the building and demolished all the residential units.” When asked what can be done about the DOB allowing faulty demolition applications to go through in special districts, Gottfried urged CB4 to be relentless in writing letters, and then decide when they are going to start sending copies of the letters to the press. One frustrated board member asked Gottfried to give them ideas about how not to just throw away


October 19, 2017

Photo by Levar Alonzo

Joe Restuccia (second from left) at a Sept. meeting of CB4’s Clinton/ Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee.

paper in the form of complaints in fighting with landowners and holding the DOB accountable. “Keep at it. Keep writing letters to the District Attorney’s Office. Inundate them with case after case after case,” he said. “This could have a cumulative effect, and in the process add the DOB and the mayor’s office to the emails.” Gottfried noted that he has been urging Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., to go after landowners that deceive city agencies. “If you file faulty paperwork to the government to get anything from the government, that’s a felony,” said Gottfried. “We need to start going after these landlords and owners.” Restuccia explained that even though special districts protect the buildings on W. 55th St., reasons for slip-ups within the DOB could be due to high turnover rates and new workers in the DOB unfamiliar with how specific neighborhoods are protected. “Buildings in the special districts can only be demol-

ished if the city determines they are unsafe or they certify the landlord did not harass tenants into leaving,” he said. “Then there is a public comment period by the community board.” He noted that since last year, 21 buildings have been identified in special districts where landowners have sought to demolish the building contrary to special zoning requirements. In response to board member questions and in an effort to offer some encouragement, CB4 chairperson Delores Rubin said that the DOB has been working with local elected officials and the board to place tags and flags on addresses in some areas to signify special districts. “We do have a meeting with the chief administrative officer of the agency, so hopefully we will be able to move this conversation along to a more serious level,” Rubin said. “As we know resources are thin throughout the agencies. That tends to be the reason they cite that they can’t catch these offenders.” One cause for hope is final passage in the City Council of a full package of tenant protections against unscrupulous landlords and building owners. On September 27, the last of 12 measures supported by the Stand For Tenant Safety Coalition won approval at the Council. With significant new safeguards required at the DOB and elsewhere for detecting landlord abuses, enforcing existing policies, and protecting tenants, the package of measures should encourage a meaningful shift toward prioritizing tenant issues at the agency and across city government. Lawmaking, of course, is only a start. Time will tell how effective the measures are in curbing longstanding and widespread abuses.

NYC Community Media

The Time Has Come for Countdown Clocks

With the countdown clock in the foreground, the M11 bus makes its stop at 10th Ave. and W. 34th St.

BY LEVAR ALONZO This was one Friday the 13th that turned out to be anything but unlucky, at least for riders on the M11 bus route. On that day last week, City Councilmember Corey Johnson joined Department of Transportation representatives, local residents, and transportation advocates to officially announce the rollout of real-time passenger information (RTPI) bus clocks in District 3.

“Whether you use the bus to get to work, shop for groceries, or visit your friends and family, these new countdown bus clocks will help you make it to your destination on time,” said Johnson. The RPTI clocks were installed at the W. 42nd and W. 34th St. bus stops along 10th Ave., to help improve service along the M11 route. The new bus clocks, equipped with both audio and visual compo-

Photos by Levar Alonzo

“I think it’s cool. I didn’t know how convenient it would be, with the audio button that tells you when the bus is arriving,” said Lorene Farnsworth, a 37-year resident of the West Village. “All around I view this project as a cool concept.”

nents, will provide thousands of riders who use the route each week with an accurate countdown on when the next bus will arrive. Riders can see

the clocks ticking down the minutes and also push a button to hear a recording telling of the next arriving bus. The M11 route serves riders between the

West Village and Harlem. These two clocks are the first of many to be installed RTPI continued on p. 14

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October 19, 2017



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October 19, 2017

NYC Community Media

Republican Harary Focuses on Local Concerns, Mum on DC’s GOP BY LEVAR ALONZO Democrats have long enjoyed a political stranglehold in most New York City Council districts, where oftentimes the race is decided in the Sept. primary rather than on Election Day in Nov. Republican businesswoman Rebecca Harary is looking to break their grip. Harary, who won her party’s nomination in an uncontested Sept. 12 primary, is seeking to win the East Side District 4 City Council seat this Nov. against Democratic nominee Keith Powers. Powers easily topped a crowded field of nine Democrats in last month’s primary, winning more than 41 percent of the vote, according to results from the city Board of Elections. Rachel Honig, who finished third in that contest, will appear on the ballot on the Liberal Party line. Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who was first elected in 2005, is unable to seek reelection due to term limits. The seat is one of the eight truly open races this year where a new councilmember could emerge out of the city’s 51 districts. In this heavily Democratic district, the winner of the Democratic Party primary generally is the favorite to win. A longtime East Side resident, Harary told NYC Community Media she doesn’t see people of the district as Democrats or Republicans but as neighbors and friends. “I plan to be visible as possible in my district and bring my lifetime of experience in business, government, and raising my family with me wherever I go,” she said, when asked how she will sway voters who generally vote Democratic. “My opponent represents the best that our district has to offer, but the people deserve to know Powers has never been looking out for their best interest. I will.” Harary, the mother of six NYC Community Media

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Haray

Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

Rebecca Harary, the Republican candidate for the East Side’s District 4 City Council seat, faults her Democratic opponent, Keith Powers, for his work as a lobbyist.

Keith Powers, the Democratic candidate for the District 4 Council seat, enjoys his party’s big advantage in voter registration.

who has founded a school for children with autism as well as the Propel Network, which teaches marketable job skills to Jewish women, describes herself as a problem-solver. “Using common sense, not taking no for an answer, and the courage to take a stand when something is wrong are qualities people have come to expect from me,” said Harary. “I am proud of my reputation as someone who gets things done and gets things done right and with integrity.” She said what sets her apart from her opponent is that she is not a lobbyist or a “bought or paid”-for political insider. “Mr. Powers worked the last seven years as a registered lobbyist, lobbying the City Council on behalf of his clients, which include real estate developers, the owners of a private prison company, and other questionable clients,” she said. “I have never had to lobby on behalf of fat cats and the good ole boys like my opponent. I would not be able to sleep at night if I did.” Among the achievements in

her record, Harary cited saving small businesses from closure, fighting against homelessness, and providing better quality of life for residents as the three top strengths she would bring to the Council. On the battle to support a healthy neighborhood small businesses climate, she said that vacant storefronts can be avoided by offering landlords a one-year tax break if commercial space is re-occupied within a year of a business vacating it. “Our residents need the neighborhood to retain its charm and value,” she said. “Our shop owners need to preserve their cash in order to hire more employees and to keep their shelves full.” Harary also supports incumbent Garodnick’s effort to modify the commercial rent tax to offer small businesses relief. The commercial rent tax is assessed on all businesses in Manhattan south of 96th Street that pay annual rents of $250,000 or more. Earlier this year, Garodnick and Upper West Side Councilmember

Helen Rosenthal proposed legislation that would raise the minimum annual rent for paying that tax to $500,000. Harary noted that Mayor Bill de Blasio has not said if he is in support of amending the tax. The mayor has been quoted saying that because of the unpredictability of federal government funding under President Donald Trump he does not want to get rid of a reliable stream of income for the city. “Trash, traffic, and transit… these issues are affecting our quality of life every single minute of every single hour of every single day in New York City,” said Harary. She is asking for major reform with regard to bicycle lanes, double parked trucks, overstuffed and ignored trash cans on street corners, and problems with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Harary blames de Blasio for being out of touch and disconnected from the troubles everyday riders using buses and subways face. “Taking an entourage of

SUVs to the gym every day is probably clouding his judgment,” she said. “As the next city councilwoman, I will demand the release of the funds needed to pay for vital subway and MTA repairs, and will work to form a coalition to make it happen.” On homelessness, Harary wants to build more supportive housing and subsidize vocational training for every ablebodied man and woman. She also voiced support for ensuring that homeless people with disabilities get the right care, be it medical or psychiatric. When asked if any of her agenda aligns with the leader of her party in Washington, Harary dodged making comment on Trump, saying she is focused on solving the problems caused locally by the mayor and not interested in getting caught up in a “national ideological battle.” “He [De Blasio] has made his Tale of Two Cities here in New York a reality,” she said, referring to the mayor’s 2013 campaign theme, “one where he rewards his political allies, and the other for the rest of New York, where people are struggling to survive and are just getting by.” Harary, who, as of Oct. 16, has spent $75,000, with about $82,000 on hand, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board, is endorsed by the Stop de Blasio Party, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the Jewish Press, and former Republican Governor George Pataki. Powers has spent nearly $200,000 and has more than $135,000 on hand. “We want and deserve a quality of life that enjoys equality as well as diversity, safety and security, excellent schools, and true affordable housing for all,” Harary said. “I will bring common sense, my heart, and, most of all, my lifetime of experience.” October 19, 2017


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In this image taken from a Sept. 17, 2016 surveillance video, Ahmad Khan Rahimi pulls a suitcase believed by prosecutors to contain a pressure cooker bomb (seen here on the block of the explosion; W. 23rd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). The trove of digital evidence in Rahimi’s federal trial was meant to provide airtight proof he was behind the attack, but it also dramatically demonstrated the growing omnipresence of security cameras. VERDICT continued from p. 3


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Assistant US Attorney Emil Bove told the court in the government’s closing summation. “The law prohibits attempted bombings.” Bove pointed to a notebook that was on Rahimi when he was arrested after the bombing on the morning of Mon., Sept. 19, 2016. In the notebook, he said, was a letter that described Rahimi’s thought process, and was “a claim or responsibility” for the attack. The notebook also mentioned Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric who was tied to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; Nidal Hasan, an American who was convicted of killing 13 people and injuring more than 30 people during an attack at Fort Hood in late 2009; and Osama bin Laden. “These are the people the defendant found motivating,” Bove said. Rahimi was concerned that law enforcement agencies such as the FBI were watching him, and the “defendant was worried he was going to be arrested before he could conduct this attack,” Bove said. Bove went through the testimony and evidence about how Rahimi purchased the components for the bombs, including setting up an alias named Ronald Welsh. The government had shown a video of Rahimi at Home Depot, and the SKU (the stock keeping unit) of a galvanized pipe purchased matched one of the pipes that was collected as evidence. Using the Welsh alias, Bove said Rahimi bought “tools that he needed to make extremely dangerous bombs,” which included hydrogen peroxide, a kitchen scale to figure out yield, a glass beaker, and a pack of 8,000 gal-

vanized steel ball bearings. Bove held up the BBs for the jurors — the ball bearings had been passed around the jury during a government witness’ testimony earlier the week before. “He bought this to kill people,” Bove said. When the FBI searched where Rahimi lived in Elizabeth, NJ, they found other materials, such as a caulk gun, which Bove said was used to seal the pressure cookers, saws, and drills bits. Rahimi used his bedroom and a basement area in the house to make the bombs, he said. In the basement, Rahimi used a white bucket to store materials like screws and nails to be used as shrapnel, Bove said. During that search, a laptop was seized that was “littered with selfies of the defendant.” During earlier testimony, the government showed a selfie of Rahimi giving the middle fi nger. Email accounts linked to Rahimi had an attachment to the “Book of Jihad,” according to a government witness. Outside the house, Rahimi tested a black powder that the government said he would use in the bombs. A video showing Rahimi testing the substance was played. “Look how happy that man is,” Bove told the jury. Surveillance video from several different sources, including the NYPD, Madison Square Garden, Selis Manor and businesses along W. 23rd St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. showed Rahimi at various times the night of the bombing. According to the government, Rahimi allegedly started that VERDICT continued on p. 26 NYC Community Media


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Courtesy of newyorkconcon.info

The timeline going forward should the constitutional convention ballot question be approved on Nov. 7.


Constitutional Convention

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BY NATHAN RILEY Vote against the constitutional convention this November. The most basic reason: it is scarcely a year since Bernie Sanders showed that a resurgent left wants sweeping reforms, but babies must crawl before they can walk. The relationship among varying factions of the Democratic coalition remains strained, with many Dems still viewing Sanders as the greatest threat the nation faces. Others, of course, are convinced he’s shown the path forward. Fears of betrayal loom large on both sides of this fissure. Meanwhile, the issue of depressed turnout in AfricanAmerican and Latino communities in 2016 has not fully been addressed. In other words, Democrats and voters on the left are not united, and that’s not a good posture to go into a constitutional convention with. The other big problem is step two in the con-con process. What happens after a “yes” vote? It’s almost a secret. Delegates are selected by State Senate districts — three for each of the 63 districts, plus 15 elected at-large statewide — and are paid a state senator’s salary. Given gerrymandering co-signed by both parties over decades, the State Senate is the most Republican institution in Albany. A state senator who runs for delegate doubles their salary. Even if they wish to avoid accusations of being a double dipper, they can pump up the standing of allies running for the delegate slots. A sitting state senator clearly would enjoy an upper hand in any delegate elections based in their home district. The result will not be a people’s convention. Political insiders will become the delegates. Elected officials, lobbyists or their allies, law school experts, and others from the establishment will write a new constitution. Which, of course, is

better than it being written by a crowd of Donald Trumps. But the insiders of 2017 and 2018 are a breed apart from the delegates who attended the constitutional convention during the Great Depression. The 1938 gathering introduced care for the needy and protected workers’ right to organize, offering constitutional protections for federal New Deal reforms. The New York Constitution is largely a progressive document. One potential constitutional change that has been discussed would weaken government workers’ right to organize and threaten the security of their pensions. But scapegoating government employees at a time of generally stagnant wages overlooks the fact that workers in the US economy have lost ground largely due to the decline in union representation across many industries. Our society should be expanding protections for workers in the private sector rather than taking rights away from government employees. But now is not the time to open that discussion up in an unpredictable constitutional convention. The environment is not ripe for a con-con. Another topic raised for consideration at a con-con would strip away any remaining restrictions on a woman’s right to reproductive choice, something you’d think would draw the support of Planned Parenthood for the convention. But, Robin Chappelle Golston, the group’s statewide executive director, is quoted in the Buffalo News saying, “Abandoning our legislative process for a constitutional convention risks our rights.” A con-con, she warned, would be “vulnerable to powerful special interests that do not stand for New Yorkers.” The debate over reproductive rights has broadened in recent years to include consideration of the hurdles faced by poor women and of reproductive justice NYC Community Media

Photo by Levar Alonzo

Bill Samuels of Effective NY, a con-con supporter, addresses a Sept. 14 East Side forum on a proposed convention, while (left to right) convention opponents Adriene Holder, a legal aide attorney, and Robin Chappelle Golston, the statewide head of Planned Parenthood; Evan Davis, an attorney who heads the Committee for a Constitutional Convention; and (to Samuels’ right) Senator Liz Krueger look on.

generally. The needs of poor women who choose to end a pregnancy or, alternately, choose to have a baby require policy advances, but that debate is not reflected in the organizing for the constitutional convention. Other proposed changes would explicitly add gender identity and expression as a protected class to human rights law and broaden the state’s anemic medical marijuana program. A Siena Poll shows that roughly two-thirds of New Yorkers support both initiatives. Yet, the political debate over both ideas remains stubbornly contested, and it’s not clear a constitutional convention — particularly one based on delegates chosen by State Senate districts — would reflect the popular will. In 1938, Franklin Roosevelt had forged a New Deal consensus about reform. We are sadly lacking such direction today. This failure in part reflects an ongoing crisis in the Democratic Party, where soul-searching has not yet given way to clear answers on economic and social justice. Without such a consensus, opting for a new constitutional convention is unwise. Constitutional law has advanced considerably since the nation’s founders gathered in Philadelphia. Charters of human rights are incorporated into modern constitutions like Canada’s. There has been no comparable advances in thinking in Albany. A true human rights perspective would emphasize the dignity of the individual and their right to create a narrative for their own lives. It is pro-gay, pro-trans, pro-Native peoples, pro-people who choose to use drugs recreationally. The Canadian Supreme Court, for example, after an exhaustive review, found that laws making prostitution criminal deprive women of their right to establish businesses and, critically, to guarantee their own safety against violence. Current American drug law fosters the cutting of heroin with fentanyl. That, in turn, made opium use a contributor in more than 59,000 deaths nationally last year. Con-con supporters raise no proposals to end this legal massacre of drug users. The reason why labor unions, environmental groups, LGBTQ political clubs, Planned Parenthood, the Working Families Party, and dozens of others progressive groups oppose a constitutional convention is that though there is opportunity for gains, the losses could be devastating. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have exposed stunning gaps in the American political consensus. Now is not the time write fundamental law. NYC Community Media


October 19, 2017


TALKING POINTS The incumbent and challenger in District 3’s City Councilmember race were asked to weigh in on NYC’s small business landscape. For info. on the Tues., Nov. 7 election, visit nyccfb.info/ voterguide.

BY MARNI HALASA, JD, MS (ECO JUSTICE CANDIDATE) It is no secret that one of the most important issues that need to be addressed in our district is escalating rents on small businesses. Since Mayor de Blasio and our City Councilmember Corey Johnson have been in office, over 1,000 small businesses have closed each month, and 8,000 jobs have been lost. In our district, neighborhood landmarks like the Garden of Eden, House of Cards and Curiosities, and Gray’s Papaya have all closed due to escalating rents. Escalating rents has led to small businesses wondering about their long-term viability and whether or not they should invest in their neighborhoods for the long haul. This has had devastating effects in our district. Our community is suffering from empty storefronts, a lack of vital services, and an economic malaise that is manufactured solely from greed. The few stores left have no choice but to charge a premium for their goods and services if they want to avoid the same fate. As a result, necessary items are outrageously expensive — making the neighborhood virtually unlivable

Small Business Survival for most elderly residents and impossible to enjoy for the rest of us. The solution to this problem is to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA) — a bill which has been in front of the City Council for quite some time, but no one, including Corey Johnson, has the guts to bring it to a vote. The law would give any tenant of a commercial space, whether they are a bodega, a medical office or nonprofit, the right to a 10-year lease, with the right to renew the lease. If not agreed upon, the dispute would be presented to an independent arbitrator who would then determine a fair rent. This law is designed to help both small businesses and landlords. With this law small businesses can have an easier time controlling their overhead costs and the law will provide landlords with a boost to their occupancy rates and ensure that they are getting top dollar for their spaces. To ensure the passage of this act, one of the very first things I plan on doing when elected is to bring the Small Business Survival Act to a vote. Specifically, I will bring a motion to discharge the act. Doing so will fast track it to the floor and force the City Council to vote on a law that is supported by a vast majority of its current members. The likely passage will give small business owners a new lease on life and it will make

Photo by Greg Salvatori

Marni Halasa, JD, MS.

the American Dream more accessible to all individuals who desire a level playing field. The rest of us can enjoy reduced prices on goods and services that are both necessary allow us to, once again, experience the joys of living in New York City.

Saving Our Small Businesses — The Heart and Soul of New York City BY COUNCILMEMBER COREY JOHNSON (DEMOCRAT & WORKING FAMILIES CANDIDATE) Our local small businesses are more than just brick and mortar. They’re more than just places to shop. They are the lifeblood of our communities. The corner deli, bric-a-brac thrift store, affordable supermarket, and lampshade shop collectively make up the essence of our neighborhoods. They create the beautiful “sidewalk ballet” that Jane Jacobs famously identified as a city’s heart and soul. Sadly, our mom-and-pop stores are in crisis. Unchecked real estate speculation, skyrocketing rents, fines, competition from deep-pocketed corporate chains, and online shopping are putting unprecedented pressure on small businesses. Many landlords are opting to let their storefronts sit vacant, holding out for exorbitant rents. We cannot allow this trend to continue. Government has a responsibility to take action before it’s too late. We must use every tool in our toolbox. I am a proud co-sponsor of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA), which would give tenants a right to lease renewal, a right to arbitration by a third party if fair terms cannot be reached, and restrictions to prevent landlords from passing their property taxes on to small business owners. The importance of these measures cannot be overstated. This bill would give mom and pops a fighting chance. Recently enacted legislation that I co-sponsored includes the Non-Residential Tenant Harassment Law, which cracks down on harassment of commercial ten-


October 19, 2017

Photo by William Alatriste

District 3 City Councilmember Corey Johnson.

ants by landlords. Another bill creates the role of small business advocates within the Department of Small Business Services. We also recently passed a Business Owner’s Bill of Rights. It’s also time to address the Commercial Rent Tax, an unfair 3.9 percent rent surcharge on Manhattan businesses below 96th St. that pay an annual rent of

over $250,000. When that threshold was established, it didn’t apply to many small businesses, but now it does. Councilmember Dan Garodnick has introduced legislation to raise that threshold to $500,000, which I support. But there is one business that should be entirely exempt from this tax: affordable supermarkets. My bill with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer would exempt them, reducing overhead costs and promoting healthier grocery practices by requiring a minimum amount of floor space for the sale of fresh produce. Another bill I’m sponsoring, with Councilmember Robert Cornegy, would help relieve business owners from fines by creating an on-site compliance consultation program. Other bills include legislation that would create a Small Business Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Board, and a bill that would create a notification system whereby small business owners can be informed of complaints lodged against them. Importantly, we all need to personally support our small businesses. Think twice about choosing Amazon over your local store. In November, I am partnering with the Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce on the #ShopBleecker campaign. Please join us! This Talking Point is too small to outline everything that needs to be done, both here and in Albany. This issue has been, and always will be, one of my top priorities. Thank you for your partnership as we work together on this and many other issues of vital importance to our community. NYC Community Media

(JSPUPJHSYLZLHYJOZ[\K`MVYKLWYLZZPVU Have you been diagnosed with depression, and have antidepressant medications not been effective? You may qualify for a study that is evaluating whether an investigational medication taken along with an antidepressant can reduce symptoms of depression in people who have not responded well to medications before. To be eligible, you must: - Be 21 to 64 years old - Have been diagnosed with depression - Currently be taking an antidepressant medication but not fully benefiting from it Additional requirements apply. The study will last up to 26 weeks, and you will receive the study medication and all study-related care at no cost. For more information, please call the study research staff at:

Brittany Cho, 212-241-7906

+BOTTFO3FTFBSDI%FWFMPQNFOU The image depicted contains models and is being used for illustrative purposes only.

*5;64++,5.05; =LYZPVU(79

NYC Community Media

October 19, 2017



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Photo by Levar Alonzo

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think that this a great idea and I am finding that for the most part the clocks have been accurate,â&#x20AC;? said Eric Blackwell, a New York City Transit employee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So far I have no complaints of the technology.â&#x20AC;? RTPI continued from p. 5

throughout the district, with funding awarded through the Councilmember Johnsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I find it to be extremely handy. It kind of fills you with joy to know when the next bus will arrive. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like a slight reprieve from all the other delays in the system,â&#x20AC;? said Joanna Blum, a 30-year resident of the West Village. PB is an initiative which gives residents a hand in deciding how their tax dollars are spent by setting aside $1 million in capital funds for projects proposed, developed, and voted for by community members.

From last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s PB process, $125,000 was allocated to install more RTPIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s throughout the district â&#x20AC;&#x201D; bringing the total amount to $225,000 (similar funding came as a result of previous PB voting). â&#x20AC;&#x153;Through the participatory budgeting process, we were able to take this important step toward achieving our goal of enhancing bus service throughout District 3,â&#x20AC;? said Johnson. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The community and government partnership showed with this project a model for projects everywhere. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got a long way to go to improve public transportation in New York but these bus clocks are going to add a lot of convenience to our trips.â&#x20AC;?

How a child learns to learn will impact his or her life forever.

City and Country School Keeping the progress in progressive education. Two-Year-Olds - 8th Grade

Open House: Thursday, November 16th, 6:00 - 8:00pm 146 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 Tel: 212.242.7802 Photo by William Alatriste

www.cityandcountry.org 14

October 19, 2017

With the push of a button, a recording will tell you how many minutes until the next bus arrives. NYC Community Media

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Trump’s Plummet Predicts Itself BY MAX BURBANK “I didn’t think Trump could sink any lower, but…” is the beginning of a Facebook post or tweet that I see about once a week. We can all debate the relative lowness of specific Trumpian misadventures. Tweeting “Nobody could have done what I’ve done for #PuertoRico with so little appreciation. So much work!” is certainly despicable, but is it better or worse than the whole “calm before the storm” thing, teasing a potential nuclear war with North Korea like it was an “Apprentice” cliffhanger? One can argue the merits of which specific barbarity is more egregious than the last, but the steady downward trend is undeniable. Trump is the Usain Bolt of human awfulness. He will spend his career breaking records, a Kryptonian mole tunneling relentlessly toward the center of the earth at super-speed. Here’s another Internet poser you see a lot lately: “How low will Trump have to go before his fellow Republicans turn on him?” With very few exceptions, the answer has been, “I don’t understand the question.” Considering the depths Trump has already spelunked to, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Republicans’ willingness to embrace, or at least justify, Trump’s every debacle is mathematically just as endless as Trump’s ability to burrow deeper. So. No matter how bad he is, Trump has demonstrated he can and will get worse. No matter how ridiculous, transparent and damning Republicans have been in their support, they will get more bizarre, servile and tainted — rats defying all stereotypes, clinging tenaciously to the anchor chain of a sinking ship. It’s a mathematical death spiral before which all but the most dauntless imaginations would quail. Not mine. As Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson so eloquently sang in a tune penned for him by the great Lin-Manuel Miranda, “You’re Welcome.” See how I subtly placed myself in that company? That’s the kind of dauntlessness my imagination is sporting. An algorithm of my own invention — based on the president’s ability to be ever more horrid, coupled with Republicans’ willingness to normalize each step downward — allows me to predict the future. Not with, you know, total accuracy or anything... but I think I can sketch out the gist. About two weeks from now: During a horrific natural disaster Trump will call “The biggest!” and “So exciting!,” NYC Community Media

Illustration by Max Burbank

Trump will fly from a weekend of golf at Bedminster to a rally in, let’s say, Kentucky. He will be introduced by Vice President Mike Pence, who will conclude his remarks by having surprise guest Joe Arpaio spank him with a large American flag-emblazoned wooden paddle. Pence will release a statement saying that this “sincere gesture of loyalty and patriotism” was a “surprise” to the president, who had “no idea, as this act was entirely my own.” Fifteen minutes later, Trump will tweet “I asked @ VP Pence to be spanked by Joe Arpaio. I am proud of him and his @WifeMommy Karen.” Sean Hannity will describe the event as “The moment Mike Pence finally became Vice President.” In a month or so: Trump will sign an executive order allowing the health insurance industry to classify being female as a pre-existing condition, which he argues, “It is.” Exceptions are

granted for certain plastic surgeries, because “All citizens deserve the right to better themselves.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will claim “No health insurance is undeniably better for women’s health than having health insurance.” When accused by Katy Tur of “making no damn sense,” Sanders will reply they must “agree to disagree.” At 4 a.m. the next day, not really as a distraction from the health care/ women thing, but just because he’s nuts and kind of a bastard: Trump tweets “When will Fake News shut up about needy Puerto Rico? Very poor & disgusting before Maria, now all gone. Did what we could. Move on!” United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he “can’t be bothered all the time” with “questions about stuff the president thinks.” A week later-ish: In a wide-rang-

ing, erratic interview with Lester Holt, Trump demands to know “When will you people will stop saying all the time about how I’m a White Supremacist? If I think white people are better, maybe it’s because all your black football players crap on my flag. Explain that.” During the second half of the interview, he will be almost unintelligible as he consumes and entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken but can be quite clearly heard wondering aloud why African American player’s “owners” can’t “just force them to stand up” and reminiscing about “the good old days” when “it was all fire hoses, police dogs and stretchers.” About a month from then: Flying from a three-day golf weekend at Mar-a- Lago en route to a four day-golf weekend at some other course he owns, Trump stops off for a rally in some random former Confederate state. There he will invite Vice President Pence on stage, and ask him as a show of loyalty to strip to his underwear, bark like a dog, and “fetch” a star spangled rubber ball — all of which the Vice President will do after a pause that, while only 2.5 seconds long, feels like seven eternities. While Pence is telling the press it was his own idea, Trump tweets “He wishes.” Two months later, if we’re lucky: Trump tweets “Loser Mueller Fake News Russia bastard lies! Maybe someone kills treasoner. An idea!” A haggard White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he “can’t control what the president tweets” when he’s “locked in the bathroom.” Like, another month and a half, maybe: For a harrowing three minutes and twenty-five seconds, a mostly naked, adult diaper-wearing Donald Trump can be seen on Facebook Live squatting on the Oval Office rug playing with a large set of plastic toy keys and saying the word “truck” over and over. A shrieking White House Chief of Staff John Kelly rushes the screen, which then darkness. Four months after that at the very outside: Despite consensus on the part of all 17 intelligence agencies, the president refuses to accept that Kim Jongun does not have an official Twitter account, and that the tweet calling Trump a “Morbidly Obese Tiny-Penis Mongrel” was fake. Deep within a hardened, underground bunker at an undisclosed location, the president tweets “Trump solves so-called ‘global warming,’ Fake News lying media call it ‘Nuclear Winter.’ So unfair!” October 19, 2017


The Long View on La MaMa’s Mind At 56, it’s the anchor of stability we need

Photo by Carolina Restrepo

An exploration of aging, anxiety, and doomsday, Split Britches’ “Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)” plays Jan. 4-21, 2018.

BY TRAV S.D. What to make of the state of the world when pillar institutions (e.g., the government in Washington, ostensibly) become the loose cannons, and experimental arts organizations become anchors of stability? We are thinking specifically of the Downtown theatre La MaMa, which is now about to enter its 56th season as New York’s premier Off-OffBroadway venue, and is now in the midst of launching a major capital project and an innovative archiving initiative even as it unrolls one of its most exciting seasons in years. Here are just some of the things that are on the calendar. In obser-


October 19, 2017

vance of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company and the 30th anniversary of the death of its founder Charles Ludlam, his partner and heir apparent, Everett Quinton, will direct a production of Ludlam’s “Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide” (Nov. 2-19). On Nov. 11, an edition the Sat. afternoon educational performance series “Coffeehouse Chronicles” will be devoted to Ludlam. On Oct. 7, “Chronicles” focused on the late Sam Shepard, many of whose earliest plays premiered at La MaMa. Readings of his plays will happen throughout January.

Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot will be joining the Belarus Free Theatre in “Burning Doors” (through Oct. 22). Split Britches (Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver) premiere “Unexploded Ordnances (U XO)” Jan. 4-21, 2018. Performance artist John Kelly stars in “Time No Line” Feb. 22-March 11. And there will be international projects, like Motus Theatre (Italy) in collaboration with Great Jones Repertory Company on “Panorama Part One,” a show about race and immigration (Dec. 28-Jan. 21). And “ALAXSXA | ALASKA” by Ping Chong and Ryan Conarro (through Oct. 29), as well as “Don’t Feed the

Indians” by Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Nov. 2-19, part of of La MaMa’s Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective programming). Why all this activity now? Is La MaMa rising to the specific challenges of this political moment? “Most of our shows this fall have been in development, for some a year or two,” said artistic director Mia Yoo. “Artists are hypersensitive to the world around them. They guide us and show us the direction we need to be going. And our season’s programming and concept grow out of that urgency that LA MAMA continued on p. 24 NYC Community Media


NYC Community Media

October 19, 2017


Buhmann on Art: Joyce Kozloff at DC Moore Gallery ‘Girlhood’ maps a route back, and away from, innocence BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN Joyce Kozloff’s latest work — “Girlhood” — contextualizes her ongoing mixed-media cartographic collage paintings with her childhood drawings by incorporating them. This journey into personal childhood exploration began when Kozloff recently discovered a folder of safely stored elementary school drawings in her late parents’ home, after having to face the difficult task of packing it up. The result is a moving installation that aids in accentuating notions of wonderment and the thrill of discovery that has characterized Kozloff’s oeuvre for years. Woven into stunningly layered assemblages of maps, figures, landscapes and still lifes, these works treat the world as an open invitation for exploration, a vast space that can be navigated from various distances. However, it also addresses the fact that over time, our worldview becomes something learned, impacted by clichés, misinformation, and doctrine. Having been engaged in feminist and political activism for decades, Kozloff stresses that the worldview of her “naïve public-school pictures” is,

in fact, “further away from me today than the places were then.” Thinking back to her childhood, she notes: “False scenarios about other times unraveled for many in my generation, although not everywhere nor for all Americans. And that’s why my conventional grammar school innocence feels weirdly relevant to me — within our polarized society, where so many people hold onto fantasies about recovering an imaginary past.” The deeper one dives into Kozloff’s works, the more complex they become. Whereas they might simply appear whimsical and playful at first, a quality that is underlined by the inclusion of foreign dolls and 1950s goofy figurines, for example, they soon raise questions of stereotypes, the preservation of the natural world, and, especially, our responsibility toward children — whose innocent curiosity about the world should remain a source of inspiration and not a dream waiting to be crushed. Through Nov. 4 at DC Moore Gallery (535 W. 22nd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: Tues.–Sat., 10am–6pm. Call 212-247-2111 or visit dcmooregallery.com.

Courtesy the artist and DC Moore Gallery, NY

“Then and Now” (2017. Acrylic, collage, and found objects on canvas; 72 x 60 x 3 in.).

Courtesy the artist and DC Moore Gallery, NY

“The Giant of New Jersey” (2017. Acrylic, collage, oil pastel, and photograph on canvas; 49 x 37 in.).


October 19, 2017

Courtesy the artist and DC Moore Gallery, NY

“Red States, Blue States” (2017. Acrylic and collage on canvas; 36 x 48 in.).

NYC Community Media


TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell

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phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.

October 19, 2017


Photo by Adam C. Nadel

Puppetry, video, interviews and yuraq (Alaska Native Yup’ik drum and dance) are woven into “ALAXSXA | ALASKA,” playing through Oct. 29.

LA MAMA continued from p. 20

they feel.” The long view seems to be very much on La MaMa’s minds these days. Even as they undertake this ambitious season, they are launching a three-phase $50 million construction project called “Restore a Building, Remake a World,” which will begin with the oldest of their four properties at 74 E. Fourth St. According to Nicky Paraiso, Director of Programming at the Club at La MaMa, work on the first leg is slated to begin in January, necessitating the temporary closing of the popular Club Space and First Floor Theatre for at least two years. The two spaces will be merged into one, with a raised ceiling and more flexible seating and staging areas. La MaMa will upgrade their technical equipment in the space, and make it wheelchair accessible. Further, they will add a studio above the theatre, in a space that was once La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart’s apartment. This will be used as rehearsal space, and for the presentation of their Coffeehouse Chronicles series, play readings, and children’s theatre productions. During the construction, Paraiso added, “There will be an interim club space in the lobby era of the new Downstairs Theatre [at 66th E. Fourth St.], where we can continue to do solo performances, readings, and small productions of plays and music events. It will be called Nicky’s Paradise Lounge and will open right after the New Year.” “This isn’t just about making nice new spaces,” Yoo noted. “The buildings are in dire need of help, after years and years of constant use. We


October 19, 2017

want to make sure it exists for future generations. Just as in the very beginning, when Ellen [Stewart] looked at the needs of the community, saw that the Downtown theatre needed a space to work, and she provided it. We’re thinking about the future of our community, who they are, and creating a space where people can connect to people.” In a similarly forward-looking vein, La MaMa has recently announced a project to make their video archives more available to the public, made possible by a $100,000 grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission. La MaMa’s audiovisual archives date back to the 1970s, documenting many seminal, now historic productions. But much of the material exists in now obsolete formats and is degrading. It’s now being digitized, which will both preserve the information and make it widely accessible. La MaMa’s archives, which also include correspondence, photographs, play scripts, show posters, and other historical ephemera is not just significant in relation to La MaMa itself. Because of La MaMa’s central role in the development of Off-Off Broadway, it amounts to a documentary record of the birth of a movement. “Martin Luther King spoke of a ‘network of mutuality,’ ” Yoo said. “We need each other, in our society, in our community. Theatre is so much about storytelling, about seeing through the eyes of another human being. This is the time when art can make us think. It’s a big part of what we can do.” For more information on the season, visit lamama.org. NYC Community Media


THE FIFTH CHELSEA FILM FESTIVAL We’ve always lauded the Chelsea Film Festival’s dedication to emerging talent, marginalized voices and social justice — now, with the annual fall event occurring for the first time during a Trump administration, its mission (“give voice to the unheard”) seems more vital than ever. Founders Sonia JeanBaptiste and Ingrid Jean-Baptiste have retained the four-day festival’s signature content: short and featurelength narrative and documentary films, Q&A sessions, and industry mixers — but they’ve also added a Climate Change Day (Oct. 22, 12-4pm) dedicated to issues including mindful consumerism, reducing waste on film sets, and factory farming. Also new to the festival, a Virtual Reality Competition will showcase works made by women, people of color, and LGBTQs. As for the films (72 shorts and 15 features), selections include Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s redemption tale “Mukoku,” in which a washed up drunk (once a skilled swordsman) meets and mentors a high schools student with “a natural high ability in Kendo and fond of rap music.” Shirley FrimpongManso’s comedy “Potato Potahto” has divorced couple Tony and Lulu still living together, each hiring attractive younger people for help around the house (with the added benefit of making their live-in ex jealous). Closing the festival, director Fisher Stevens collaborates with Leonardo DiCaprio for the climate change documentary “Before the Flood,” a call for swift action as species disappear and ecosystems change. Thurs., Oct. 19 through Sun., Oct. 22. Screenings take place at AMC Loews 34th St. (312 W. 34th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) and venues within the Fashion Institute of Technology (227 W. 27 St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Tickets to individual screenings are $13, with several festival pass options available. For the full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit chelseafilm. org. Social media: #CFFNY2017.

Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s comedy “Potato Potahto” screens Oct. 21 at the Chelsea Film Festival.

Courtesy the filmmakers

JDA continued on p. 31 NYC Community Media

October 19, 2017


Courtesy US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY

Courtesy US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY

A photo from the fourth day of the trial; evidence seized at the Elizabeth, NJ residence of Ahmad Khan Rahimi.

Tsitsi Merritt, shown here the night of the bombing, said at the trial of her injuries that she felt like she had “alien head.”

VERDICT continued from p. 8

Saturday planting a bomb at Seaside Park, NJ in the morning. That bomb would detonate, and the jury was shown photos of a trash can that was mangled in the blast. The bomb was timed to go off at the start of a charity race — where runners would pass — but as there was a delay, no one was hurt. (Rahimi faces separate charges, including ones related to a shootout

that happened with police at the time of his arrest, in New Jersey.) The jury saw footage that showed Rahimi with three bags — two he was carrying and a backpack — through Penn Station, and then as he made his way to W. 23rd St. Rahimi paused outside of Penn Station at the corner of W. 31st St. and Eighth Ave. Bove said that he was pausing because of his schedule for the attack — alarms had been set on cellphones that were used as triggers

for the devices. When he stopped and looked at New Yorkers walking by, Bove said, “This is the defendant thinking about his victims.” Rahimi stopped two more times, once on W. 25th and Eighth Ave. and also at the shuttered St. Vincent de Paul Church on W. 23rd St. There was a “distinct window” when Rahimi could plant the device, Bove said, that it would not be discovered so he could get away, and “that no

one would fi nd the bomb before it went off.” The surveillance video goes black when the blast happens. “There are no words for this,” Bove said as the jury watched video from that night, noting the “complete panic. These women can’t even tell which direction they’ve been attacked from.” Near the blast was Selis Manor, a building that houses the blind, visuVERDICT continued on p. 28

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SCANDALS continued from p. 1

sies proved compelling enough to bring one longtime prosecutor off the bench in what is perhaps a quixotic bid to unseat the incumbent by running as a write-in candidate. What is most striking, though, about the flash campaign announced by Marc Fliedner, who has spent more than 15 years working as a prosecutor in both New York and New Jersey, is that until the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, he was a candidate for district attorney — but in Brooklyn. The out gay civil rights litigator, who said he was motivated to join the Manhattan race based on a storm of encouragement on Twitter in the wake of stories about Vance’s handling of the Weinstein matter, said he plans to establish residency in this borough as of November 1, in line with state law eligibility requirements. One Twitter user, in particular, Fliedner told Manhattan Express — also in an interview taped for Manhattan Neighborhood Network (to be posted at go.mnn.org/manhattan-district-attorney) — stirred the pot early last week and only later asked the veteran prosecutor whether he was okay with the idea. “And the answer was absolutely yes,” Fliedner said. “I felt that it was my responsibility.” Asked to elaborate on that decision, he explained that the stories about the Trump and Weinstein cases painted a “scenario where it seems pretty crudely obvious that if you’re rich, if you’re powerful, and largely in the context of a good ole boys club, I’m going to say, that you can buy yourself a get-out-of-jail card, to put it in the simplest terms. That you are going to be subject to a whole different level of scrutiny from everybody else, that you’re going to be subject to a whole different decision-making process.” Fliedner added, “Of course what that reinforces is the sense that there are some in this society that because of their color and their power and their pocketbooks are able to get a quality of justice that those who are not in that position — people of color, immigrants, those who are impoverished, people with disabilities, all of the kinds of people who have been traditionally… that people of

the LGBT community are not afforded because they are not in that stratosphere of power. That’s a really disturbing message, and it strikes people on a really visceral level.” Vance’s recent troubles began with the New Yorker piece on the Trump Soho published early this month. Vance’s decision in that case, according to the story, came after a two-year investigation, which uncovered emails in which the two younger Trumps discussed how to fabricate false information about the number of units sold in the property. Frustrated at how long the inquiry dragged on, their father brought in his personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz — who that year gave Vance $25,000 toward his reelection — to represent his children. Kasowitz’s money was later returned, in keeping with DA office policy, in advance of a meeting between Kasowitz and Vance. The meeting between the two, which included several other top officials in the DA’s office, was unusual because the office’s attorneys investigating the Trumps did not attend. Vance ultimately decided not to bring charges against the future president’s children, and in response to questions from the New Yorker he said, “I did not at the time believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed. I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call.” Even though Kasowitz’s original donation had been returned in advance of his meeting with Vance, Trump’s attorney, less than six months later, gave a new donation of $32,000 and over time organized other donors to pony up for at least another $18,000, according to the New Yorker. Kasowitz has denied any quid pro quo, and Vance, explaining that the attorney had “no matter pending before the office” at the time of the second contribution, defended his campaign accepting the money. Still, more than four years later, the district attorney told the magazine the money would be returned. The Weinstein case involved a visit by Ambra Battilana, a 22-year-old Italian model, to his Tribeca office at his invitation in 2015. Discussing the young

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woman’s modeling career, the topic of whether her breasts were real came up and Weinstein allegedly grabbed them and then put his hand up her skirt. Within hours, the woman reported the incident to police, who wired her for a second meeting with Weinstein the following day. An audio tape captured Weinstein acknowledging he had touched Battilana’s breasts but no mention was made of him slipping his hand up her skirt. According to the New York Times, Vance’s office was concerned that the breast touching could be explained away by Weinstein claiming he was investigating whether the model could reasonably expect to do lingerie advertising work. The lead prosecutor in the case was also told by Weinstein’s attorneys about credibility problems in sworn statements Battilana made concerning two sexual harassment accusations she had made in Italy. PR representatives for the movie producer were saturating the New York tabloids with that information at the time. According to the Times, Vance met three times with his lead prosecutor before accepting her recommendation not to proceed with prosecution. He now says he was “mindful” that she “has greater expertise in sex crimes than I do.” The New Yorker this week reported that Weinstein was represented in that matter by Elkan Abramowitz, a former law partner of Vance’s who was a donor to the DA’s campaign. In challenging Vance, Fliedner doesn’t quibble with Vance’s record as “a prosecutor that has been progressive for the most part,” but he also recalled the DA’s 2011 retreat from prosecuting Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a French national then leading the International Monetary Fund, who faced accusation from a Manhattan hotel maid that he had forced her to perform oral sex on him. Vance initially proceeded with charges, but his office later announced it had discovered credibility problems with the alleged victim’s account and dismissed the charges. That case, Fliedner said, “was the first thing that caused me to be really uncomfortable” with Vance’s leadership in the

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DA’s office. “Again, like the Weinstein situation, there’s the perception, and its frankly my perception, that the word of a woman because of who she is, because of her station in life is not enough,” he said. “In all of these cases, we’re talking about them, these women who mustered the courage, up against somebody very, very powerful, and in Manhattan there are powerful people and they need to be held accountable.” Fliedner acknowledged he faces “an extraordinary hill” in waging a write-in campaign, and even admitted he needs to attend to his private law practice in the process, but rejected the term “symbolic” in describing his efforts. “I hear from these folks through social media and everything, and have been nonstop, that they are serious about taking this as far as they can in the time we have up to the election so I actually think the use of the term symbolic, just to me, is kind of disrespectful to people who are trying to access the process in this really, really healthy way,” he said. Still, in laying out a vision for the office, Fliedner struggled to define a clear distinction, “setting these scandals aside,” from Vance’s record. Saying that like the incumbent he would shift focus away from prosecuting low-level, victimless offenses, he mentioned fare-beating on the subways, and then acknowledged that was an initiative Vance already had in the works. Only in saying he would not prosecute sex workers did Fliedner mention a specific departure from current standard practice. But, the challenger from Brooklyn is committed to making the best, most resonant case he can. “I think that Manhattanites, New Yorkers, in fact, are really concerned about racial equity, really concerned about financial equity,” Fliedner said, “and I think that as we try to equalize our world and talk about all these thorny issues, I think that criminal justice is the place where the impacts of inequality play out more dramatically than anywhere else — who will go to jail or not, who will be charged with a criminal charge or not, and who will get off scot-free.”

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Courtesy US Attorneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Office for the Southern District of NY

An aerial view of W. 23rd St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) shows damage from the bomb.

VERDICT continued from p. 26

ally impaired and those with disabilities at 135 W. 23rd St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). While all that was happening on W. 23rd St., Bove noted, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the defendant was walking calmly to 27th St.â&#x20AC;? Video surveillance showed Rahimi placing a bag near a mailbox. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The defendant knew and intended for the 27th St. bomb to go off,â&#x20AC;? he said.

On video, two men are shown opening that bag, taking the pressure cooker out, which Bove likened to â&#x20AC;&#x153;slapping a cobra.â&#x20AC;? The two men leave the bomb and take the bag. Later, Chelsea resident Jane Schreibman reports it. According to the government, the alarm on the cellphone, which was the trigger for the bomb, was set for 9 p.m. The two men, Bove, said, found the bag at 8:50 p.m.

MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE                                                        


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October 19, 2017

ALARM ASSERTION Sabrina Shroff, defense attorney for Rahimi, made her closing argument on the morning of Fri., Oct 13. Shroff did not dispute evidence regarding the blast on W. 23rd St. Instead, she spent much of her summation on what didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t happen on W. 27th St. Shroff said there was nothing wrong with the phone that was attached to the device, and that was to be used to trigger the bomb. She said a government witness, a FBI agent, turned on the phone and â&#x20AC;&#x153;that the phone was in working order.â&#x20AC;? The phone was taken to Quantico, she said, where it was â&#x20AC;&#x153;subjected it to every test possibleâ&#x20AC;Ś Fifty-two witnesses and there is no evidenceâ&#x20AC;? that the phone was going to go off. Shroff said Rahimi made that choice after he heard the blast on W. 23rd St. Rahimi had paused, she said, because he was thinking about what he was going to do, not, as the government said, to stick to his bombing schedule. Rahimi had â&#x20AC;&#x153;overwrote that alarm

because he did not want to use the bomb on 27th St.,â&#x20AC;? she told the jury. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He chose not to and there is your lack of intent.â&#x20AC;? Shroff also said Rahimi did not light the fuse of the six pipe bombs he left in a trash can outside an Elizabeth, NJ train station. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Leaving the bomb on the street is not enough,â&#x20AC;? and doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t show intent, she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At any point, he could have set off any one of those seven bombs and he did not,â&#x20AC;? she said. The jury should fi nd Rahimi â&#x20AC;&#x153;not guilty on counts two, five, eight.â&#x20AC;? All three of those charges stemmed from the device on W. 27th St. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m done,â&#x20AC;? she said, then paused. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have not sought to distract you. And I hope we kept our word about what we said at the beginning of the case. â&#x20AC;Ś Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a difficult case. We are all New Yorkers. â&#x20AC;Ś Two, five, eight, he, Mr. Rahimi, is not guilty.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;What you just heard was a cover story,â&#x20AC;? Assistant US Attorney Andrew VERDICT continued on p. 31 NYC Community Media

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File photo by Tequila Minsky

Seen here in a 2016 profile with her photograph of a woman from Pakistan, Chelsea resident Jane Schreibman alerted authorities to the secondary explosive device on W. 27th St. Schreibman, who testified at the trial, said the conviction was the “right thing to happen,” given the amount of evidence. VERDICT continued from p. 28

DeFilippis said in the government’s rebuttal. Rahimi was walking “away so he wouldn’t get hurt while others bleed,” he said, adding that he was trying to “slither out” of the charges on W. 27th St. and it was an “insult” to the jury’s common sense. The jury convicted Rahimi on Mon., Oct. 16 of all eight counts that included use and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, and destroying and attempting to destroy property by means of fi re or explosive. The conviction means that Rahimi faces an automatic life sentence. His sentencing date is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2018. His defense team will be fi ling an appeal, according to news reports.

REACTIONS TO THE VERDICT Chelsea resident Jane Schreibman called 911 after seeing the pressure cooker device on W. 27th St., and

testified on the fi rst day of the trial. “I guess I was a little nervous,” she told Chelsea Now by phone on Tues., Oct. 17. Schreibman’s call to 911 was played for the court, with her saying it was “interesting” to hear it. She said the conviction was the “right thing to happen,” given the amount of evidence and “they had him on tape leaving that bomb.” “It was a relief to know that he wouldn’t be on the street anymore,” she said. State Senator Brad Hoylman mentioned Schreibman in his statement put out after the conviction. “September 17, 2016, is a day none of us will forget,” he said. “But even in the worst moments, New Yorkers exemplify the best in each of us. Whether it’s the Malibu Diner providing free meals to fi rst responders and residents affected by the bombing or Jane Schreibman acting swiftly to alert authorities to the second bomb, Chelsea stood strong and has recovered.”

JDA continued from p. 25


Photo by Mei-Yin Ng

Hear stories from Chinatown residents during an immersive dance performance tour. “Sit, Eat and Chew” happens Oct. 21 and 22. NYC Community Media

Growing up in 1970s Klang, Malaysia as the daughter of that port town’s fi rst fi lm projector and, later, camcorder owner, Mei-Yin Ng put herself on a steady diet of American musicals and, later, Merce Cunningham’s work via videotape. Since arriving in NYC on a one-way fl ight, the director and choreogra-

Courtesy US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY

A screenshot from video evidence submitted on the fifth day of the trial shows tests conducted by Ahmad Khan Rahimi in the backyard of his Elizabeth, NJ residence.

He added, “One year on, I’m proud of Chelsea’s resiliency and glad to see justice done.” Councilmember Corey Johnson said in an email statement, “A little more than a year ago, our community was tested like never before. [Monday’s] verdict sends a message that, while evil acts cannot be undone, justice for those who commit them will be swift and decisive. We owe a debt of gratitude to the fi rst responders who pre-

vented even greater harm, the investigators who tirelessly worked in the days after to identify and locate the perpetrator, and the prosecutors who ensured he was held accountable.” The “verdict is the most forceful deterrent for anyone considering waging terror in our city,” NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in a statement. “We will investigate; we will fi nd those responsible; and justice will prevail.”

pher has been exploring the nexus of technology and the human body at a number of unconventional venues (including a hotel room and a fi sh market). Her current project provides food for thought by taking its audience on an immersive guided tour that goes beyond the Chinatown most of us know — restaurants and shops — to share the stories of its longtime residents. “Sit, Eat and Chew” features her six-member dance troupe in collaboration with local troupes from the community. At various locations throughout Chinatown, the ensemble uses words and movement in

performances based on interviews, research, and personal anecdotes drawn from community storytelling workshops. On Sat., Oct. 21 & Sun., Oct. 22 at 2pm, 2:45pm and 3:30pm (each tour approx. 100 minutes). Meet at MOCA, the Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre St., btw. Howard & Grand Sts.). Tickets, which include admission to the museum, are available via mocanyc. org ($25 general, $15 for students, seniors & MOCA members, $10 for Chinatown residents). For artist info, visit MeiBeWhatever.com. October 19, 2017



October 19, 2017

NYC Community Media



Profile for Schneps Media

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October 19, 2017

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October 19, 2017