Talking Statues Give Voice to History 05
Office of Councilmember Corey Johnson
Divisive UWS Candidate Draws Finance Board Complaint 06
In UWS Reelection Bid, Helen Rosenthal Has Both Opponents and Antagonists
City Councilmember Corey Johnson being arrested after sitting-in at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on July 19.
With Senate Sit-In, Health Care Advocates Refuse to Gamble that McConnell Will Fail BY PAUL SCHINDLER One day after efforts by the Trump administration and the US Senate’s GOP leadership to dismantle President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act appeared to have collapsed, up to 500 activists descended on Senate offices demanding that Republicans work on “providing health care rather than taking it away.” That’s how Eric Sawyer, the vice president of public affairs and policy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, explained the efforts of his group and other health care advocates in Washington on July 19. In tandem with hundreds of others — including about 200 New Yorkers representing Housing Works, VOCAL-NY, Rise and Resist, Gays Against Guns, ACT UP, and Positive Women’s Network, as well — GMHC staff and clients staged sits-ins at the offices of the 49 GOP senators who had not yet rejected Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for an outright repeal of Obamacare without putting forward any immediate replacement. That was the strategy McConnell adopted on July 18, after it became clear the Republicans lacked the 50 votes needed to pass his Obamacare replacement bill. The repeal with no replacement option has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as even worse than McConnell’s replacement bill, leaving 32 million more Americans uninsured by 2026, versus the 22 million who would be forced out of care under the measure the GOP leadership had abandoned. Events, however, quickly overtook that provisional SIT-IN continued on p. 4
July 27 – August 9, 2017 | Vol. 03 No. 15
Office of Councilmember Helen Rosenthal
City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (in red, at podium) at a Day Without A Woman rally on International Women’s Day this past March 8.
BY JACKSON CHEN Incumbent City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal has at least four opponents in her bid for reelection to her District 6 seat, but those are not the only political antagonists she faces on the Upper West Side. Rosenthal will face off against challengers Mel Wymore and Cary Goodman in the September 12 Democratic primary, and the winner will go up against independent candidates Bill Raudenbush and David Owens on November 7. With nearly a full term under her belt, Rosenthal said she hopes to continue her progressive agenda on issues including school rezoning, tenant protections, and pay equity for women. In addition to the incumbent’s four challengers at the ballot box, there appears to be continued resistance toward Rosenthal below the surface from the Community Free Democrats (CFD), a political club that includes heavy-hitting West Side politicians including Congressmember Jerry Nadler, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal.
When the councilmember beat out six other candidates in the 2013 Democratic primary for the open District 6 seat being vacated by Gale Brewer — who went on to become borough president — one of her defeated opponents was Marc Landis, CFD’s choice, who finished third. Rosenthal also found herself at odds with CFD’s leading lights over School District 3’s controversial school rezoning on the Upper West Side. While Rosenthal ultimately backed the Community Education Council 3’s majority vote to push through the rezoning, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal did not support the changes. The assemblymember joined State Senator Brad Hoylman and a representative from Nadler’s office in a September 2016 rally against the rezoning plan presented by the Department of Education. Separately, in an interview with the New York Times, Stringer said the DOE and the de Blasio ROSENTHAL continued on p. 4
Leery Locals Say Something’s Off at Target Site; City Agrees BY WINNIE McCROY The dust went flying and so did the fur, at a Midtown West construction site currently in its excavation phase. Locals say XIN Development is not doing enough to clear the air and control the noise at the future home of a luxury apartment building with a Target store on the ground floor. “As soon as excavation started several weeks ago, we had dust pouring out into the street, with three machines working simultaneously, but only one hose man. But when we spoke to them about it, they just said they were within DOB [New York City Department of Buildings] guidelines,” said Tom Cayler, president of the 517-525 W. 45th Street Tenant Association. XIN Development, the US arm of Beijing-based Xinyuan Real Estate, secured permits from the DOB in May to start excavation work at 615 10th Ave., between W. 44th and 45th Sts. The full-block project came with a $108 commercial loan from Bank of the Ozarks, who also provided a $27M bridge loan in January 2016 to help Xinyuan purchase the former Speedway Photo by Tom Cayler
EXCAVATION continued on p. 16
On July 19, a worker dampens dust on an excavator at the construction site.
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Bollards Buoyed Up as Times Square Pedestrian Protectors BY JACKSON CHEN After the deadly incident where a driver mowed down the crowds at Times Square in May, a stainless steel guardian that prevented further damage is still standing tall. On May 18, Richard Rojas, a Navy veteran with prior arrests, drove onto the pedestrian plazas of Broadway at Times Square. Rojas, 26, struck at least 20 pedestrians, killing 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman before crashing into a three-foot tall metal bollard with his Honda Accord. With his car immobilized, Rojas â€” who later told police that he smoked marijuana laced with PCP according to the criminal complaint â€” jumped out of the vehicle and was stopped by Good Samaritans until police officers arrived and arrested the perpetrator. Rojas appeared in court on July 13 where he pleaded not guilty for charges of second-degree murder, attempted murder, and assault. The driver is due back in court on Oct. 24. But like the brave passersby who intervened, the metal bollards that outline the pedestrian plazas also prevented further escalation. More than 200 metal bollards, designed by Calpipe Security
File photo courtesy Ehab and Abed Hamid
The maroon Honda Accord driven by Richard Rojas propped up on the metal stanchions it collided with on May 18.
Bollards, line streets from W. 42nd to 47th, on Seventh Ave. and Broadway. According to the company, the metal bollards are tamper-proof, weatherresistant, some are easily removable, and shallow enough to not disturb the necessary subway system just below. Calpipe installed more than 200 bol-
lards in less than 90 days in Times Square as part of the renovation, in conjunction with various city agencies, the Times Square Alliance, and SnĂ¸hetta, the firm behind the Crossroads of the World redesign. Rob Reiter, Calpipeâ€™s chief security consultant, said the bollards protecting
the Times Square Plaza were designed, manufactured, and engineered to stop a vehicle going up to roughly 30 miles per hour. â€œItâ€™s a crown jewel as far as people in our business are concerned for a city to take action before thereâ€™s a major incident in a place thatâ€™s the busiest pedestrian area in the world,â€? Reiter said of the bollards. As the bollards played a crucial role in the May incident, there are some who are calling for more protection in a tourist location that sees more than 300,000 pedestrians each day. An obvious proposal would be to increase the bollard coverage of Times Square, according to Paul Steely White, executive director of the bike and pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives (transalt.org). â€œItâ€™s very clear that the bollards were the only protection preventing that tragedy from being far worse,â€? White said, adding they were the â€œdifference between life and death.â€? While White wants protection for all the pedestrian spaces of Times Square, he noted that there should be greater BOLLARDS continued on p. 10
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SIT-IN continued from p. 1
ROSENTHAL continued from p. 1
strategy. Three Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — didn’t even need the CBO scoring to reject the outright repeal option, announcing their opposition just hours after McConnell signaled his intentions. By July 25, the GOP had abandoned any specific legislative solution, instead marshaling 50 votes plus Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaker to simply open debate on a range of options. As Manhattan Express goes to press, that debate is still underway, though the replacement plan McConnell favored failed on a 57-43 vote and the repeal-only option failed 55-45. But the fact that some form of repeal remains possible made clear the savvy activists exhibited last week. City Councilmember Corey Johnson, the out gay Health Committee chair, explained he was unwilling to bet against McConnell’s ability to yet turn things around. “The fight isn’t over as we saw with the House, where Paul Ryan pulled a rabbit out of a hat,” Johnson said as he headed over to sit-in at McConnell’s office, where he was later arrested. “The fight has to continue until straight repeal and repeal and replace are both abandoned by the Republicans.” As New York State’s only openly HIV-positive elected official, Johnson said he was in Washington as one of hundreds of activists with pre-existing conditions that would be penalized severely under all the Republican alternatives that have been discussed. “So now we’re here to tell our stories and to fight back against any effort to curtail health care in this country,” he said. Johnson said most of the protesters favor a single-payer approach that would truly deliver universal care, but he acknowledged that the only feasible next step as long as Republicans hold the Senate and House is a bipartisan effort to steady the insurance exchanges established under Obamacare. In a July 19 New York Times op-ed, Ohio’s GOP governor, John Kasich, a critic of Trump on health care, also emphasized the need for a bipartisan solution. For his part, President Donald Trump, responding July 18 to the expected failure of a repeal-only vote, was not talking about any immediate fixes, telling reporters, “I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.” Announcing that strategy out loud, however, may make it more likely that voters will come to see that the president does own any problems that become worse going forward. The success health care advocates have enjoyed in mobilizing grassroots opposition to GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare is striking. Last week marked the third time GMHC and other New York AIDS advocates faced arrest in Washington this month. Hundreds of activists have been arrested in Senate sit-ins this month, with 155 cuffed on July 19. On Tuesday, 95 demonstrators were arrested in the Senate gallery as they chanted, “Shame, shame, shame.”
administration failed to engage the stakeholders, and noted that “if it wasn’t for Linda Rosenthal, no one would have any voice in that district.” Despite Helen Rosenthal’s tiffs with CFD, her political stance broadly aligns with the progressive values of the club and the major politicians in it, a point not lost on Michael McKee, the treasurer of TenantsPAC. “This is all about the Community Free Democrats and their quest for hegemony on the West Side,” McKee told Manhattan Express. “[Rosenthal] is an outsider and they’ve never liked her. Years ago, she beat their candidate and they don’t like that.” TenantsPAC was quick to endorse Rosenthal’s reelection early this year, as McKee explained that there was no reason not to go with her. “It was a no-brainer,” he said. From the perspective of advancing tenants’ rights issues, McKee said, the tension is proving to be unproductive. “I try not to pay attention to this bullshit,” he said, adding all the politicians engaged in the internecine spat are on board with TenantsPAC’s mission. “The last thing I’m interested in is infighting among West Side Democrats.” Community Free Democrats, which bills itself as among the “oldest, strongest, and most influential reform Democratic clubs in Manhattan,” opted to not endorse in this year’s District 6 race. Rosenthal said she is interested in working with CFD, but noted that it took years of her requests for the club to put her name on its website as one of the elected officials representing the area. When she asked for CFD’s endorsement this year, Rosenthal said, she discussed her commitment to the district and the progressive nature of her agenda and her accomplishments over the past three years. “Now that I have my sea legs on and really got the hang of it, we’re not done yet with protecting tenants,” Rosenthal said when asked of prospective issues for her next term. With Manhattan colleague Corey Johnson, the incumbent has a bill, Intro 944, working its way through the pipeline that would make the process of getting construction work permits stricter to prevent the too-common practice of landlords falsely claiming their building is vacant in order to expedite approvals. Rosenthal said she is also looking to create an Office of the Tenant Advocate within the Department of Buildings to better oversee tenant protections. The councilmember said she is also committed to improving gender equity and the value placed on women’s work. According to Rosenthal, the lion’s share of city contracts is split between construction, a disproportionately male sector, and human
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services. While construction contracts often carry high wages, Rosenthal said that human services contracts offer “poverty wages.” Human services workers are due to receive $15 an hour wages under city law, but Rosenthal said there would need to be an additional bump of up to $13 or even $15 per hour to get them to livable wages. “We’re not valuing what women are really good at, which is taking care of people,” she said. “We undervalue schoolteachers, caretakers, social workers. That work is not paid at the level we really should value it.” Another major issue the incumbent hopes to delve deeper into is bettering the environment. Rosenthal said she’s only begun focusing major attention on this issue in the last year, but asserted the “fiscally responsible thing to do is divest from fossil fuels in every way and to invest in green energy.” Rosenthal professes to harbor no ill will toward CFD for its failure to support her reelection. “When I go to their meetings, I’m welcomed by the membership and they enjoy hearing from me,” Rosenthal said. When asked about the tension between the club and herself, she responded, “Well it’s not from me... door’s open from my end.” According to Wymore, however, he was just a few votes short of snagging the CFD endorsement. “They invited all the candidates to speak, but they chose not to endorse,” he said. “I believe about half of the voters were for no endorsement and the other half was largely for me.” Many of the club’s members, he said, are avid supporters of his campaign, and he argued that CFD’s unwillingness to go with Rosenthal spoke volumes. “I do also think the lack of endorsement is unusual of an incumbent,” Wymore said. “I think that’s significant and goes to the kind of relationship when you don’t establish yourself with the community.” When asked whether he would be endorsed by Nadler, Stringer, or Linda Rosenthal, Wymore said he suspected their stance would mirror CFD’s. Rosenthal has been endorsed by the Three Parks Independent Democrats, the 504 Democratic Club, which advocates on disability issues, and the LGBTQ-focused Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, as well as by her predecessor Brewer. Her campaign endorsements page shows a picture of her with the Council’s seven-member LGBTQ Caucus, significant in that Wymore, if elected, would be the first out transgender member of the Council. Wymore earned endorsements from the Park River Independent Democrats and the Ansonia Independent Democrats. As of press time, representatives of Nadler, Stringer, Linda Rosenthal, and CFD had not responded to requests for comment.
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Talking Statues Project Has History Asking, ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC The ubiquitous sound — a cellphone ringtone — rang out in Bryant Park, but the person on the other end would have surprised historians. It was, after all, a call from Gertrude Stein, who passed away over 70 years ago. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t Stein, but rather an actor performing a monologue envisioning what the groundbreaking writer would say if she were here, now. Stein — like many other famous and important figures (mostly men) — has been immortalized in sculpture, but in the midst of the city hustle, how many of us stop and pay attention to them? Talking Statues is looking to change that by engaging New Yorkers and tourists alike with history. David Peter Fox began Talking Statues in Copenhagen in 2013, with the idea of giving “voice” to the statues, according to the project’s press release. Writers would create short monologues and then actors would perform and record them. After Copenhagen, the project spread to Helsinki, London, San Diego and Chicago, with Talking Statues officially starting in New York City on Wed., July 12 (visit newyorktalkingstatues.com for
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
A rose is a rose is a rose. Gertrude Stein sits and surveys all in Bryant Park.
statue locations and info). “It’s been a long journey,” Fox said at the morning launch at the New-York Historical Society. “The project is a present from me to New York City.” Fox told this publication afterwards he worked for two years to bring his
project to this city. It took some time to get permission and to find the actors, he said. Fox said some 600 actors applied for the gig. One of the actors who made the cut was Stacey Lightman, who performed the monologue conceived for Stein at
the launch. “I loved it,” she said of the process. “I played Gertrude Stein in a play a year ago — it seemed like kismet. It was a thrill to record [her].” She noted that people go by statues STATUES continued on p. 14
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Clean Campaign Advocate Goes After Divisive Council Candidate BY JACKSON CHEN An Upper East Side attorney is working to deny a controversial City Council candidate his public campaign funds with allegations of fraud and grand larceny. Sarah Steiner, an attorney specializing in election law, filed a formal complaint against District 7 candidate Thomas Lopez-Pierre with the Campaign Finance Board on July 14. Steiner’s complaint seeks to have the CFB deny the candidate any “matching funds” under the city’s public campaign finance program in which the agency provides candidates with a six-to-one match on up to $175 in private contributions from New York City residents. According to the latest campaign finance reports, Lopez-Pierre has raised $16,390, and he said he expects close to $100,000 in matching funds. The candidate, who is challenging incumbent Mark Levine in the district that runs from the Upper West Side through Harlem into Washington Heights, has on numerous occasions targeted “Greedy Jewish Landlords” who he said are pushing out “Black / Hispanic tenants,” but he has recently opted, in his tweets and email blasts, for describing his targets instead simply as “Greedy Landlords.” The source of Steiner’s complaint, however, is not the anti-Semitism in some of Lopez-Pierre’s messaging but rather allegations of fraudulent fund-
Thomas Lopez-Pierre’s campaign provocations have now drawn a formal complaint against him at the city’s Campaign Finance Board.
raising by him. According to her submission, which references two NYC Community Media articles, Steiner claims that LopezPierre broke CFB rules and election law through a phony GoFundMe campaign that sprouted up in April. A fundraising page named “Stop Thomas Lopez Pierre Hate Campaign” had raised $5,871 before its funds were frozen after an April 26 New York Post article, in which Lopez-Pierre was quoted claiming he was responsible for the page and would use money collected for his “marketing expenses.” A few days later, the candidate told NYC Community Media that he was
lying to the tabloid in an attempt to scramble the opposition mounting against him. When asked again on July 20, Lopez-Pierre reiterated that he was not behind the GoFundMe and had lied to the Post as “a stunt to get publicity.” Steiner’s complaint revolves around the GoFundMe debacle and claims that Lopez-Pierre committed fraud, failed to disclose the money, and impersonated someone to raise funds. “If he were able to get away with the kind of fraud he seems to have committed, he would be undermining the public confidence in the best public campaign finance system in America,” Steiner said. “Also, I didn’t feel like
someone who was fraudulently trying to game the system like this deserves taxpayer dollars.” The matching funds have yet to be doled out, as Lopez-Pierre is still awaiting certification to get on the September primary ballot and is currently facing petition challenges, he said. Steiner is hoping her complaint will prevent the funds from ever reaching Lopez-Pierre. “It’s much easier to object to the release of the matching funds before than trying to get it back afterwards,” Steiner told NYC Community Media. Lopez-Pierre said he received the complaint but argued that Steiner’s complaint was littered with “emotional pleas” and would get thrown out. “She has presented no evidence that links me to the individuals or individual that set up this GoFundMe campaign,” Lopez-Pierre said. “Her whole argument is an attack on my freedom of speech. In a complaint alleging fraud and grand larceny, Steiner said she provided all the evidence available to her. When asked if she thought this would become a criminal matter, the attorney said the CFB is free to pursue the case in any way it sees fit. A spokesperson for the CFB said the agency cannot comment on ongoing investigations, and GoFundMe could not be reached for comment by press time.
Under de Blasio, Bulk of Pot Arrestees Black or Latino BY NATHAN RILEY Despite the fact that Democrats continue to become more dependent on reliable voting support from communities of color, groups fighting the criminalization of marginalized New Yorkers report that under Mayor Bill de Blasio virtually everyone arrested for marijuana is black or Latino. Appearing at a July 11 City Hall press conference, drug reformers were joined by advocates for communities and youth of color in demanding that the city’s five district attorneys refuse to prosecute any arrests for marijuana in public view as the fruits of “Jim Crow” enforcement. In 2016, such arrests were up 10 percent and totaled 18,121 — roughly 350 every week. Seventy-six percent
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of those arrested had never been convicted of even a single misdemeanor, but the police pressed charges anyway. Advocates — including representatives from the Drug Policy Alliance, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Brooklyn Defenders, a legal aid group — presented academic research showing that marijuana arrests under de Blasio “have the same overwhelming racial disparities as under Bloomberg.” Per 100,000 population, the rate of arrest in Harlem’s 30th precinct was 1,116, but in the predominantly white and well-heeled Upper West Side 20th precinct it was 50. In East Harlem’s 25th precinct, it was 1,038 per 100,000, a sharp contrast with
DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE
Queens College Professor Harry Levine holds up his new report, “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York,” at a July 11 City Hall press conference.
the Park Avenue-centered 19th precinct that had a rate of just 6. The state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Kassandra Frederique,
referred to these disparities as “staggering.” ARRESTEES continued on p. 11 NYC Community Media
GOP Mayoral Candidate’s Canon Packs Loose Facts, Loophole Logic BY DUNCAN OSBORNE As she was discussing crime and the extent to which New York City residents feel safe in the city, Nicole Malliotakis, the presumptive Republican candidate for mayor and a member of the State Assembly since 2011, was asked about her continuing opposition to the Gender Expression NonDiscrimination Act (GENDA), which would add gender identity as a protected class to New York’s human rights law, hate crimes law, and other statutes. “If a man were to follow someone into a restroom… they’re there because they want to commit a crime against a woman and they are caught, they can use that law as a loophole,” said Malliotakis during a May 18 interview with Chelsea Now, Manhattan Express, Gay City News, and other newspapers owned by NYC Community Media and CNG (Community News Group). “I believe there is a loophole in the law that allows it to be
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf
exploited for individuals… to commit a type of sex crime.” Reporters were stunned by that answer. New York City enacted a law in 2002 that barred discrimination based on gender identity. Currently, 18 states and the nation’s capital also ban discrimination based on gender identity. Though Malliotakis said she was aware of cases outside of New York in which criminal defendants had used such an anti-discrimination law as a shield against criminal charges, no one else in that room had ever heard of such a thing. Her campaign never followed up with promised details on her claim. “The way it’s written, it gives an individual a defense to say, ‘I was somewhere because of their identity,’” the 36-year-old candidate said. “There needs to some type of component that doesn’t allow people to use it as a criminal defense.”
State Assemblymember and presumptive Republican candidate for mayor Nicole Malliotakis met the press in NYC Community Media’s offices on May 18.
MALLIOTAKIS continued on p. 18
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Empire State Ride Turns Wheels of Progress in Fight Against Cancer BY BRENDAN KIRK More than 100 cyclists from around the country will embark on a seven-day-long, 540-mile trek from Wagner College on Staten Island to Niagara Falls to raise money for cancer research. All proceeds from July 30–Aug. 5’s Empire State Ride will go to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The Buffalo, NY-based Institute works to prevent future cancer and cure existing cancer, and is one of the first centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institutedesignated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Michael Strong, a Pratt Institute graduate and Lower East Side resident with a design studio in Lower Manhattan, will be joining the pack this year. His journey started with his support of a friend of his, Steve Mars, who had participated in the event prior. Then, after recently witnessing his wife win a fourmonth-long battle with skin cancer and also experiencing his best friend’s father-in-law lose his battle to pancreatic cancer, Strong decided it was time to do his part in the fight against the disease. Originally from Appleton, NY, a town just outside Buffalo, Strong grew up familiar with Roswell Park. He is excited to reunite with family and says that this is a “big push” for him. The weekend-warrior often bikes 70-100 miles in a day, his lengthy rides bringing him into New Jersey and sometimes Connecticut. However, he has never done this consecutive days and is excited to test himself. “Getting fresh air is a nice escape for me,” Strong said.
Courtesy Empire State Ride
Cyclists are set to cover 540 miles on a ride whose proceeds will benefit the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
The first leg is approximately 57 miles long. Riders will take the Staten Island Ferry to South Ferry and work their way up the West Side of Manhattan along the Hudson River Greenway and Fort Washington Park Greenway, crossing the George Washington Bridge for the rest of the first leg to a campground near Stony Point. From there, participants will continue their trek north along the Hudson Valley until
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reaching Duanesburg on Day 3. After spending the night at another campground, the cyclists will then cut west into central New York State, well on their way to Niagara Falls. Strong is anticipating his wife cheering him on as he cycles up Manhattan and also greeting him at the finish line in Niagara Falls. The first three days are what he looks forward to the most — they are the days with the most uphill riding, something Strong describes as a weak-point. The group’s Facebook page, however, serves as a strong support group and participants receive a lot of encouragement for the upcoming ride. “Think of it as a bunch of 20 mile rides that you just string together in a day,” one rider said. Organizers hope to raise more than a million dollars to help in the development and foundation of cancer research initiatives — which include advancing a research initiative to develop new therapies for ovarian cancer, and funding Roswell Park’s Center for Personalized Medicine, which develops and carries out genetic testing to enhance the treatment of cancer. “By raising critically needed funds for research, our participants are influencing the future of cancer research and helping us take the next step toward creating a world without this disease,” said Bryan Sidorowicz, director of the event. The Empire State Ride is open to riders of all levels and allows for the option of riding between one and seven days. It even suggests a short route for riders unable to ride the 70+ miles required for most days. To register or donate, log onto empirestateride.com.
DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT PUBLIC HEARINGS for the Hudson Tunnel Project The Federal Railroad Administration and NJ TRANSIT are jointly preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the Hudson Tunnel Project. The Project is intended to preserve the current functionality of the Northeast Corridor’s (NEC) Hudson River rail crossing between New Jersey and New York and strengthen the resiliency of the NEC. The Hudson Tunnel Project DEIS evaluates a Preferred Alternative that consists of construction of a new passenger rail tunnel between Secaucus Junction, New Jersey, and Penn Station New York (PSNY), along with accompanying infrastructure, to allow for the rehabilitation of the existing North River Tunnel, without major interruption in NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak NEC service. The DEIS also contains a Draft Programmatic Agreement (PA), prepared in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which explains what impacts to historic and archaeological resources are and how they will be avoided, minimized, or mitigated.
August 1, 2017 Hotel Pennsylvania Skytop Ballroom, 18th ﬂoor 401 Seventh Ave at W 33rd St New York, NY 10001
August 3, 2017 Secaucus Junction Rail Station Upper Level Long Hallway County Rd & County Ave Secaucus, NJ 07094
August 10, 2017 Union City High School 2500 Kennedy Blvd Union City, NJ 07087
Each hearing will include an afternoon and evening session, from 3-5 PM and from 6-8 PM with a brief presentation about the Project at 3:15 PM and again at 6:15 PM. Members of the public will be able to provide oral comments or submit comments in writing. The hearing facilities will be accessible to persons with disabilities. Spanish and American Sign Language translators will be present. If special translation or other accommodations are needed, please contact the Project team ﬁve days prior to the hearing at 973-261-8115, or email email@example.com. For more information or to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, visit www.hudsontunnelproject.com. NYC Community Media
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Richard Rojas appears in Manhattan Supreme Court during his Thurs., July 13 arraignment. Rojas is accused of intentionally mowing down pedestrians on a Times Square sidewalk on May 18, killing a woman and injuring 22 other people. He pleaded not guilty. BOLLARDS continued from p. 3
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consideration for the contextual nature. White said agencies are quick to plop down bulky white concrete blockades for protection, but that often makes the area look uninviting. “We don’t have to turn our pedestrian plazas into bunkers,” White said. “There’s a multitude of context-sensitive designs that can do just a good job at protecting pedestrians but don’t convey that this is a warzone.” For White, the bollards serve multiple purposes, with the foremost being the safety of pedestrians. But the executive director added that the bollards also signal that the city values pedestrian space, by preventing the ability for vehicles to mount the curb and park. “Bollards can keep out terrorists just
as well as keeping out scofflaw truck drivers who think sidewalks are parking spaces,” White said. “I think they serve to not just save lives, but enhance the aesthetic of the area, that sidewalk space matters and that pedestrians are a valued resource.” Reiter added that he’s heard the city is interested in installing bollards around the midblocks and street corners of Times Square. The security expert explained that adding corner placement could protect pedestrians from any traffic accidents during which a car might careen into them, and serve to dissuade possible terrorists through an increased presence of bollards in the area. “This year is a great year that illustrates that more safety is the same as security, and more security is the same as safety,” Reiter said.
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July 27, 2017
File photo by Christian Miles
A makeshift memorial at the site of Alyssa Elsman’s May 18 death made use of the bulky white concrete blockades used for protection in Times Square.
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ARRESTEES continued from p. 6
Even after a federal court order curbed the stop and frisk program, which reached astronomical highs in the Bloomberg years, racially skewed enforcement has continued. Last year, 85 percent of the arrestees were black or Latino. During de Blasio’s fi rst three years as mayor, 60,000 arrests were made for marijuana in public view. The grand total in 20 years of discriminatory enforcement is 700,000 arrests, Frederique said. Queens College Professor Harry Levine, the sociologist who broke the arrest statistics down by precincts, was unsparing in his criticism. “It’s essentially Jim Crow police enforcement,” he said. “One set of laws for white people, one set of laws for people of color.” In 2013, while campaigning for his fi rst term, the mayor acknowledged that “low-level marijuana arrests have disastrous consequences” and there is a “clear racial bias” in these arrests. “This policy is unjust and wrong,” de Blasio said at the time. The news conference damned him for breaking his promise that things would change. Scott Hechinger, the director of policy at the Brooklyn Defenders, accused the district attorneys from the five boroughs of “insulating the NYPD from being scrutinized for bad stops. Prosecutors don’t care about marijuana arrests,” so they allow defendants to walk, but only after they fi nd their way into the court system. He slammed this result as a “wholly inadequate response,” resulting in cops continuing their disparate enforcement because the DAs are not really taking them on. The system operates on autopilot, Hechinger charged. In a famous 2013 court decision holding that the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices relied on unconstitutional searches, US District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin condemned city officials for adopting “an attitude of willful blindness” toward racial disparities. Hechinger called on the district attorneys to confront the police arrests head-on, using prosecutorial discretion to dismiss the charges right at the precincts to send a clear message that deliberate indifference toward racist enforcement is not acceptable. The statistics presented by Levine understate the impact of these current policies. Arrests are concentrated on those under 34, who are handcuffed, put in police cars, and taken to the precinct where their fi ngerprints NYC Community Media
enter the system for review by law enforcement and immigration offi cials. Hechinger scornfully dismissed the desk appearance tickets offered by police as “sham protections.” Once collared, a person spends up to 12 hours in the precinct and is then told to go to court two or three weeks later. If their prints trigger an immigration hold from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE agents have a specific time and place to serve a warrant. Hechinger was equally critical of cops writing summonses, tickets issued after they are shown identification. Those who can afford it simply pay the ticket, while those who can’t ignore the summons and a criminal warrant is automatically issued. They then get arrested the next time they are stopped. The system has undergone no fundamental reform, he argued. In his report, “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York,” Levine writes that the NYPD has “never offered any serious defense of the arrests.” Levine’s reported noted that even Heather Mac Donald, a conservative commentator affiliated with the Manhattan Institute who is a defender of tough broken windows policing, has questioned the NYPD’s marijuana enforcement, arguing that the time officers spend in court reduces “patrol presence” on the streets. The continued pattern of arrests under “reformer” de Blasio speaks to the policy’s worrisome intractability. Even though the policy has been thoroughly discredited, the arrests continue. As long as the police are allowed to make arrests, they will haul in the most powerless New Yorkers. The real solution, reformers agree, is taking away the power of police to make arrests by taxing and regulating pot under legislation introduced by Manhattan’s East Side State Senator Liz Kruger and Buffalo Assemblymember Crystal PeoplesStokes. Their legislation, however, languishes under Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is reticent even on medical marijuana, straightjacketing that program so much that it doesn’t permit veterans suffering from PTSD to buy smokable herb. Advocates support the Colorado solution. “A marijuana revolution” said Juan Cartagena, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, is “just, it’s rational, and it’s time.”
Our Perspective Spectrum Strike Affects Us All By Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW he strike by over 1,800 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers against their employer, Spectrum-Time Warner Cable, isn’t important only to the families of the cable technicians who are ﬁghting back against corporate greed. Their strike is important to all of us who believe in good jobs that build better lives and stronger families and communities. Their courage should resonate with everybody who has had enough of a corporate race to the bottom where workers are disrespected and beneﬁts and pensions continue to be attacked. In many ways, the action echoes the 2010 strike by hundreds of RWDSU members at Mott’s in Williamson, New York. In that case, as in this one, workers pushed back against a successful, proﬁtable company, owned by an even larger company (Dr. Pepper/Snapple), that was attacking their workers and trying to destroy hard-earned beneﬁts that members had earned for years. Local, national, and international support grew for the striking RWDSU Local 220 members, many of whom had decades of service at the apple sauce plant. Their strike came to symbolize the struggle of workers to keep quality jobs in an era when corporations value workers’ contributions less and less. After a long four months, Mott’s workers won their strike, negotiating a fair contract with good wage increases that protected beneﬁts and gave them the security they had earned. We see a similar ﬁght at Spectrum, where cable technicians have been working without a new contract for years as the company has refused to negotiate in good faith. The company – whose CEO made almost $100 million in 2016 – is proposing drastic health care cuts for unionized workers and their families and wants to eliminate pensions and job security. The company also refuses to amend its discipline policy which punishes workers for making multiple visits to a household, when the majority of technical problems are due to the fact that the company hasn’t updated equipment in decades. Buildings aren’t properly wired, equipment is old and outdated, and workers take the blame for cable speeds that often fall so short of advertised performance that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has ﬁled a lawsuit accusing the company of defrauding consumers. When a multi-billion-dollar corporation attacks middle-class workers’ beneﬁts and retirements, it threatens the health of entire communities. And when a cable company replaces trusted, skilled technicians who enter consumers’ homes every day with unknown scabs from outside of the community with little experience, that’s worrisome for our families. Mott’s workers fought back and won, and protected middle class jobs and communities. And they did it with support of consumers and their communities. Spectrum workers need the same support, and they need to win, to send a message that our jobs – and our lives and our families – are important. Working people cannot accept corporate attacks on our quality of life in the name of higher proﬁts. IBEW Local 3 needs your help. The NYC Franchise agreement for Charter/Spectrum is up before the City Council for review now. Please support good union jobs and share your concerns and complaints about Charter/Spectrum with the New York State Public Service Commission by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
www.rwdsu.org July 27, 2017
The Entertainment is as Free as the Air Outdoor theater, ﬁve-borough-style BY TRAV S.D. A few weeks ago, one might have been forgiven for predicting that free outdoor productions in New York, in particular those of Shakespeare plays, would soon be heading for the hills. The Public Theater’s controversial Trump-themed production of “Julius Caesar” inflamed passions throughout the entire country. Many theaters received angry letters despite having no connection with the Public, “Julius Caesar,” or even Shakespeare. Nothing daunted, numerous NYC theaters are continuing to ply their trade throughout the rest of this summer, free of charge, at a park near you. In spite of all the angry op-eds and the loss of some corporate sponsorships, the Public Theater itself is midway through its 64th annual summer season of Free Shakespeare in the Park. On July 11, they opened a new production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Lear deBessonet and starring Phylicia Rashad, Robert Joy, and the husband-and-wife acting team of Annaleigh Ashford and Joe Tapper. This “fairytale fantasia” will be at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, 8pm, through Aug. 13 (enter at 81st St. & Central Park West or 79th St. & Fifth Ave.). Renowned cast members and an actual sit-down amphitheater mean that there is always substantial demand for the Public’s Free Shakespeare. The normal procedure is to wait online for tickets at the box office, which opens at noon, on the day of the show. If “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” proves difficult to get into, the Public’s “Public Works” program will be presenting a musical version of “As You Like It” at the same venue from Sept. 1–5, featuring a cast of 200 community members and professionals. More information and tickets available at publictheater.org. This wouldn’t be New York if the Public didn’t have at least a half dozen scrappy competitors waiting in the wings with their own free productions. Here are a few others. “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” is the one with the most whimsi-
July 27, 2017
Photo by Jason Marr
Hip to Hip Theatre Company, seen here in a 2016 production, has “Free Shakespeare in the Parks” in rep through Aug. 20.
Photo by Richard Termine
The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s “The Three Musketeers” plays through July 30 in Marcus Garvey Park at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater.
cal name, and, at 22 years old, it is already becoming an institution itself. Three different theatre troupes have presented this series over its history;
The Drilling Company has carried the baton since 2005. The company performs in the parking lot behind The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and
Educational Center, located at 114 Norfolk St. in the Lower East Side (btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.). Seats are available on a first come, first served basis; blankets will be spread out once seats are gone (you can bring your own chair). Having already given us “All’s Well That Ends Well” this summer, their next production will be “Henry VI, Part 3,” presented Thurs.–Sat., 7pm, through Aug. 12. For those who prefer a greener location in Midtown, The Drilling Company is also offering free Shakespeare productions in Bryant Park, as well: “Twelfth Night” NYC Community Media
(July 28–30) and “The Tempest” (Aug. 25–Sept. 9). Go to shakespeareintheparkinglot.com for more details. Meanwhile, the Queens-based Hip to Hip Theatre Company’s “Free Shakespeare in the Parks” will visit outdoor venues in all five boroughs as well as Jersey City and Southampton, Long Island. This season they are presenting “Measure for Measure” and “Henry IV, Part 1” through Aug. 20. Their Manhattan spot is the Harlem Meer in Central Park (110th St & Malcolm X Blvd.). They’ll be there at 6:30pm Aug. 9 (“Measure) and 16 (“Henry”). For details, visit hiptohip. org. Over on the west side, Hudson Warehouse, which styles itself “The OTHER Shakespeare in the Park” will be presenting their version of “Henry V” at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in the Upper West Side’s Riverside Park from July 27–Aug. 20, Thurs.–Sun., 6:30pm (W. 89th St. & Riverside Drive). Go to hudsonwarehouse.net to learn more. Hudson Warehouse just closed their adaptation of “The Three Musketeers” on July 23, but if fans of the Dumas swashbuckler are very quick, they can catch the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s version, which plays at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park through July 30; Tues.–Sun., 8pm; Fri. at 8:30pm, rain or shine (enter the park at 124th St. & Fifth Ave., walk south to the venue). Of the companies listed in this roundup, the Classical Theatre of Harlem is second only to the Public in prestige. The names of the performers may not be household words, but you have seen many of them: most have Broadway, film, and TV credits. To learn more, go to cthnyc.org. For those who like a little exercise with their Shakespeare, there’s New York Classical Theatre. Their new production of “Macbeth” will be presented in The Battery (meet at Castle Clinton; Battery Pl. at State St.). Audiences participate by walking from scene to scene in various locations within a three-block radius. They also make special provisions for those who require special help getting around. Open rehearsals happen through July 30; official performances run at 7pm July 31–Aug. 20 (excluding Thursdays). Their website is newyorkclassical.org. If your taste in classics runs to the very ancient, the American Thymele Theatre presents its latest annual New York Euripides Summer Festival. This year the Hellenic-themed company presents “The Madness of Hercules,” NYC Community Media
Photo by Jonathan Slaff
Aug. 5–Sept. 17, Theater for the New City’s “Checks and Balances, or Bottom’s Up!” tours NYC’s streets, parks, and playgrounds.
July 31–Aug. 6, 6pm, at locations including East River Park and Marcus Garvey Park. Visit americanthymeletheatre.yolasite.com. Lastly, sometimes it’s not the play but the concept which is the classic. Theater for the New City’s annual summer Street Theater tour is rapidly approaching the half-century mark. Every year they present an all-new, original musical production with an activist theme, and bring it to parks and other outdoor locations in all five boroughs. This year’s show, entitled “Checks and Balances, or Bottom’s Up!” is up Aug. 5–Sept. 17. It will be playing streets, parks, and playgrounds; see theaterforthenewcity.net for the full schedule.
July 27, 2017
We look like a ship ‘cause that’s how we got to America. Eight million of us were processed at Castle Garden between 1850 and 1890.” The woman with the “wee baby, leanin’ against me husband,” says, “Generation after generation immigrants come to America, work hard for very little and still get blamed for all of society’s troubles. This sculpture reminds us that we’re all in the same boat.”
STATUES continued from p. 5
but “don’t see them.” Fox said 35 statues will be animated throughout the five boroughs. He declined to provide details about the project’s funding. Here’s how it works. Near the statue, there is a sign with a link, which can be typed into your smartphone’s Internet browser. There is also a QR code that can be scanned by your device after you download the app. You receive a call — complete with a picture of the statue and the person’s name — and then hear the monologue. (When asked about those without smartphones, Fox said later by phone, “There is no alternative, unfortunately not. The system is based on this technology.”)
GIOVANNI DA VERRAZZANO, THE BATTERY
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
GERTRUDE STEIN, BRYANT PARK It took this reporter a few tries to get the call but then: “I am sitting, I am thinking. Sitting thinking thoughts of thinking, bits of thoughts, thoughts flitting, thinking, thinking, thoughts linking. This is how I think, thoughts heard, thoughts blurred, thoughts like birds, becoming words.” The monologue, written by Marc Acito and performed by Lightman, also includes a bit of biographical information. Stein was American but moved to Paris in 1903. She was a poet, a playwright, a writer, and the host of the salon that was graced by the artistic and literary lights of the era — Picasso, Matisse, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald among others. In 1934, she returned to America and toured the country but went back to France. “But as I say ‘America is my country, and Paris is my hometown,’ so I returned to Paris, never to see America again. That is, until 1992. The model for this statue was made in my hometown, but here I sit again in my country, sitting, thinking, thoughts like birds, becoming words.”
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, UNION SQUARE PARK In a leafy part of the park, a voice beckons, “Friend, come closer.” Abraham Lincoln explains how many times he visited New York City: six, and only once as president. But besides his speechifying at the Cooper Union, the 16th president of the United States wonders, “How fares the Union? Is the country a place where one’s labors are fairly rewarded? May a citizen, striving, be made, by that process, a more digni-
July 27, 2017
David Peter Fox, who started Talking Statues in Copenhagen, said at the launch it was a “long journey” to bring his project to New York City.
fied, spacious being? Is it a fair place, a free place? A generous place?” He continues, “Have we attained that for which we so mightily strove? Do we walk peaceably together, finally, black and white, all traces of the previous cruel inequity eradicated, true equals at last?” George Saunders, most recently author of “Lincoln in the Bardo,” imagined what Lincoln would say to us if he could, ending the monologue performed by Pete Simpson, with: “Well. It is humans down here, after all, so perhaps our work has not yet been perfectly accomplished. But I trust that, if not done, it is at least still being done. And that you are doing your part.”
MOHANDAS GANDHI, UNION SQUARE PARK It is fitting that the statue of Mohandas Gandhi resides in Union Square Park — the starting point for so many protests and parades. On the other side of the park from Lincoln where there is nowhere to hid from the sun’s power, Gandhi’s statue seems to be strolling in a field. Amid the bustle and crowd of the Union Square Greenmarket, he said he thinks he “would have liked it here, a city that respects all races and religions, and where nobody gives you a second glance — regardless what you look like.” Thrity Umrigar pictured what Gandhi, who fought for India’s independence from the British through nonviolent measures, would say about his legacy in a piece performed by Avinash Muddappa: “I was shot to death a few months after independence. But my
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
The short play conceived for this arresting sculpture reminds the listener “we’re all in this together.”
dream of non-violence lives on. Martin Luther King Jr. adopted it in America to earn justice for blacks. Mandela freed South Africans through non-violence. I may have never traveled the world. But the world came to me.”
THE IMMIGRANTS, THE BATTERY In The Battery (once known as Battery Park) tourists jostle for space to board boats to jet to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It is apt, then, that a statue called the Immigrants — depicting several of them — is situated near these powerful symbols. Written by Acito, the piece for the Immigrants is more like a short play than a monologue and is performed by actors Dan Sheynin and Alanah Rafferty. The man in the front of the sculpture “with the beard on his face and the yarmulke on his head,” says, “I know, it looks like the crowd behind me is tryin’ to run me over, but if you stand at the side you’ll also see that the whole sculpture is sort of shaped like a ship, which I suppose makes me the Jewish equivalent of a mermaid on the prow.
It is a name most New Yorkers are familiar with, albeit a bit different spelling: Verrazzano. Inspired by Columbus, Giovanni da Verrazzano became an explorer that in 1524 “was the first European to sail into New York Bay. Yet, a century ago, I was forgotten, overshadowed by the exploits of Henry Hudson who arrived almost one hundred years after me. Some say he even used my maps!” But Verrazzano does not lament for long in a monologue written by Joe Giordano and performed by Roberto Ragone. In 1909, an Italian newspaper in the city, Il Progresso, pushed for his statue, and in 1960 he “was further esteemed by the naming of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that spans the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island.” (People also have the option to listen in Italian. Indeed, it was part of Talking Statues’ mission to have the statues “speak” in their native tongue as well.)
JOHN ERICSSON, THE BATTERY Located on the outskirts of the park, John Ericsson’s statue proudly boasts one of the Swedish-American engineer’s invention. “Can you guess what I am holding in my left hand? It is a model of a warship that I … designed. I called my ship the Monitor, but people said it looked like a cheese box on a raft, which was a pretty good joke in 1861 when people still knew what a cheese box was.” Acito wrote this monologue, which was performed by David Dencik, and can also be heard in Swedish. The piece also explains what the picture on the statue’s pedestal is depicting — the Monitor “meeting the Virginia just outside Chesapeake Bay. This was the first battle in history between two armored ships, though I think the picture makes the gun turret look more like a hatbox. Which would also be a good joke if anyone still knew what a hatbox was.” NYC Community Media
EPIC Players Act on Inclusion of the ‘Alter-Abled’ Intgrated company’s inaugural production capably challenges BY SCOTT STIFFLER Guided by a vision whose ambition handily matches the scale of its name, EPIC Players theatre company is comprised of alter-abled actors, designers, and technicians who study, train, and work alongside their “neurotypical” counterparts. This acronym-friendly troupe is so inclusive, EPIC (“Empower. Perform. Include. Create.”) even found a way to embrace the palindrome. “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” — playwright Bert V. Royal’s mostly bleak, totally unauthorized, 2004 imagining of the “Peanuts” gang during their difficult teenage years — will be the company’s inaugural Mainstage production. As founder Aubrie Therrien, who also serves as the group’s executive artistic director, explained, “We chose ‘Dog Sees God’ for our first play to mirror the innocence of ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’ and also give our actors living with developmental disabilities a chance to explore themes of sexuality, gender, and loss — issues they often struggle with, just like everyone else, but are never really given the
Photo by Charlene Warner
L to R: Samantha Elisofon, Christian Patane, Gideon Pianko and Travis Burbee in rehearsal for “Dog Sees God.”
opportunity to express. Too often these individuals are infantilized based on their differences; we wanted to change that.” Advocating for a deeper understanding
of the alter-abled is only one goal on the group’s agenda. “Ninety-five percent of characters with disabilities,” their website notes, “are played by able-bodied actors.” EPIC wants to improve that statistic by
providing its members with the tools to present themselves as a competitive, even preferred, choice in an industry where a EPIC continued on p. 21
JOIN US AT THE INTREPID MUSEUM FOR
A special performance encompassing everything from the Cold War to Sputnik, from Yuri Gagarin to Neil Armstrong, this action-packed show brings tongue-in-cheek humor to a whole new atmosphere— one where the rules of gravity no longer apply. AUGUST 4 & 5, 8:00pm Buy tickets online at intrepidmuseum.org/moonshot Photo Courtesy of Theater Unspeakable
General: $25 adults / $18 children Members: $23 adults / $16 children Not recommended for children under ﬁve. This performance is part of the Intrepid Museum’s Space & Science Festival, a weeklong celebration of science and innovation. PIER 86, W 46TH STREET & 12TH AVENUE, NYC intrepidmuseum.org
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July 27, 2017
EXCAVATION continued from p. 2
gas station for $57.5M. The company intends to build a 29,000-square-foot Target retail store, with seven stories on top featuring 82 units of residential housing (with four large apartments on the top floor). By July, they had filed permits for the mixed-use condo and began excavation for the foundation. Once the dust started flying, neighbors began contacting Community Board 4 (CB4), elected officials, the DOB, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to complain, with the city’s 311 Service Request Map indicating that about 25 complaints were submitted in July alone from residents adjacent to the site. “I personally try to avoid walking near the construction site on Tenth, but I inevitably have to bike past it on my way to the Greenway, and have smelled and seen what feels like toxicity in the air,” said Chana Widawski, co-chair of the West 45th/46th Street Block Association. “Neighbors that live closer share daily photographs of the billowing dust; their vantage point indicates minimal dust abatement measures. Some of the restaurants have even had to close outdoor seating because of it.” Local residents have reported that construction work on the site begins
A rendering of the Target in Hell’s Kitchen.
at 7 a.m. every weekday and goes on until almost 6 p.m. at night (after CB4 rejected XIN’s requests to work seven days a week). But Cayler said that their single hose man disconnects from the fire hydrant at 4 p.m., letting the dust fly where it may, creating problems. Apparently, the DOB and DEP agreed. On July 11, the DOB inspected the site and issued two violations, one for concrete work that ran contrary to approved plans, and another for high
vibration readings. And the next day, July 12, inspectors from the DEP issued a violation for “failure to control dust.” “Frankly, whenever you make complaints as a citizen, no pun intended — you just hold your breath that some inspector will show up and see what you see,” said Cayler. “So last week when the DEP issued a violation for work outside of the scope, I was just like ‘Thank God!’ For these guys, until the DOB or DEP shuts them down for a couple of days, they could care less. We have to assume they are going to continue to be this way until elected officials put pressure on city agencies to get a stop work order and clean up their site.” “My office has been in direct communication with XIN Development to ensure they take steps to minimize the impact that this construction project has on the community,” said Councilmember Corey Johnson in
an email statement to this publication. “Developers have a responsibility to mitigate the impact of construction on the community, especially dust created during the summer months when air quality suffers most. While I appreciate that XIN Development has taken steps like installing sound deadening blankets to reduce noise and more personnel to spray down dust to address these issues, we will continue to work with our city agencies to ensure their compliance.” In a July 19 letter to DOB Manhattan Borough Commissioner Martin Rebholz and DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, CB4 District Manager Jesse Bodine expressed the “sincere concern and frustration with the lack of environmental mitigation plans” at the site, and urged them to put all current excavation permits on hold for the location. Bodine spoke of a year of good-faith talks with XIN Development, during
Courtesy XIN Development.
XIN Development has installed sound-deadening blankets on two sets of chain link gates.
July 27, 2017
NYC Community Media
which time CB4 repeatedly highlighted the communities’ concerns regarding the environmental impact the project would have on neighboring schools and residents. XIN Development had “repeatedly stated the project would meet city regulations and work with the agencies to follow best practices,” but Bodine, in his July 19 letter, expressed disappointment with the current mitigation efforts, saying, “This was not done and it is clear that only the bare minimum in terms of mitigation is being done currently.” After noting site visits by representatives from the DOB, DEP, and NYPD, who reported minimal mitigation techniques, and pointing to violations issued by the DOB and DEP, the CB4 letter noted they “do not believe that work on the site should continue until XIN Development and its contactor enact a complete alternative mitigation plan that addresses dust, air quality, noise and vibration and that plan be reviewed by the enforcing city agencies, the elected representatives, and the community.” In a July 20 email, Hana Kolarikova of XIN Development said the company is taking measures to minimize the impact on the community, assuring that “we have had several visits from DOB and DEP’s representatives and if a violation was found, it was cured immediately.” On the recommendation of the DEP inspector, they installed sound-deadening blankets on the two sets of chain link gates to deal with noise decibel readings exceeding the allowable range. They spoke to the excavation company about the dust issue, and added another hose man. “They confirmed that they added another water cannon, so there are two of them now and we requested they added the second man, which they confirmed they would do,” said Kolarikova. “Finally, we have five linedrilling machines onsite. We only run one or two at a time and each machine has a water hose connected to it, so there is no dust being generated by this operation.” Kolarikova said that there are now no open DOB violations, adding that they were still looking for additional actions they could implement to improve the situation. She also noted that the project was a month ahead of schedule, saying, “Hopefully, we can finish sooner and expose our neighbors to the construction work for a shorter time period.”
MAX Photo by Tom Cayler
Community members complained that only one hose man (pictured here) was mitigating dust, although two excavation machines were in operation. XIN Development now says that have hired a second hose man, so there is no dust being generated by this operation. NYC Community Media
July 27, 2017
MALLIOTAKIS continued from p. 7
Malliotakis was first elected to a district representing parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn in 2010. She has easily won reelection every two years since then running on the Republican, Conservative Party, and Independence Party lines. GENDA has passed the State Assembly 10 times since 2007, with Malliotakis consistently voting â€œNoâ€? during her time in office. The legislation has stalled in the State Senate where it faces opposition from Republicans and the Conservative Party, which is a small but still influential political party on the right. Malliotakis also voted â€œNoâ€? on 2011 legislation, which was enacted, allowing same-sex couples to wed, a vote she now says she regrets. Her regret drew a rebuke from Michael Long, chair of the Conservative Party, which has endorsed her. In some respects, Malliotakis is an accidental candidate for mayor. While press reports prior to mid-2017 routinely described her as a â€œrising starâ€? in the Republican Party, she remained largely unknown. She became the partyâ€™s presumptive nominee only after realtor Paul Massey, who was widely assumed to be the frontrunner for the Republican nod, abruptly dropped out and Bo Dietl, a former NYPD detective, was booted from the Republican primary. Her fundraising reflects her status as a candidate who may have been running this time just for practice. In her latest filings with the cityâ€™s Campaign Finance Board, Malliotakis reported raising roughly $344,000 since April, with about $275,000 in cash on hand. Mayor Bill de Blasio has raised $4.7 million and has $2.6 million in cash, though he has been raising money for far longer than Malliotakis. Broadly, Malliotakisâ€™ themes are that de Blasio is not a leader and that the
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf
State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakisâ€™ explanation of her continuing opposition to the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act left reporters stunned.
city is seeing crime rising and quality of life plummeting under his watch. She points to the delays in the subway system â€” which is run by the governor â€” the homeless, and certain crime statistics to make her argument. â€œThereâ€™s a whole host of quality of life issues in this city,â€? she said. â€œThereâ€™s an obvious problem when you walk through this city and you see poor individuals who are sleeping in the streetâ€Ś We cannot allow the subway stations to become a homeless shelter.â€?
MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE
July 27, 2017
The mayor does have appointees on the board that runs the MTA, but not a majority. He should be using those appointees and the bully pulpit of his office to harangue the MTA into improving service for New Yorkers, Malliotakis said. Some crime statistics support her, though the increases she complains about began under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. â€œRape and sex crimes are up 15 percent,â€? Malliotakis said. â€œWomen in the city generally donâ€™t feel safeâ€Ś People donâ€™t feel safe in this city.â€? In one instance, her claim that â€œIn the Bronx, reports of rape have nearly tripledâ€? is simply wrong. From 1990 to 2016, reported rapes in the Bronx fell from 644 to 339. To date in 2017, there have been 155 rapes versus 169 in the same period in 2016, an 8.3 percent decline. Part of her response to crime will be to reinstitute stop and frisk, a practice that drew strenuous objections from many communities and a federal lawsuit against the city. Stops and frisks, which primarily targeted young black and Latino men, went from just over
92,000 in 2002 to nearly 686,000 in 2011. The practice began to decline in Bloombergâ€™s final term and has effectively ended under de Blasio. There were 12,404 stops and frisks in 2016. In every year except 2016, police found no evidence of a crime in 80 to over 90 percent of the stops. â€œI think stop and frisk, itâ€™s a tool and itâ€™s a tool that should be used by NYPD when used appropriately, when itâ€™s warranted,â€? Malliotakis said. â€œThey often found guns, they often found weapons, they found drugs.â€? In 2015, Malliotakis opposed the cityâ€™s program to issue municipal ID cards to taxpayers, a program that she now says â€œhas value,â€? but she wants to see applicants vetted more carefully. She is opposed to New York Cityâ€™s refusal to honor federal immigration detainers when the individuals have committed minor crimes. â€œHe believes we should not be complying with federal detainer requests in the incidents of individuals who commit crimes like grand larceny, sexual abuse, forcible touching, patronizing a child for prostitution, identity theft, welfare fraud, all crimes in which the city will not comply with detainer requests,â€? she said. New York City complies with federal immigration detainers, which are not arrest warrants, only if federal immigration authorities supply a warrant signed by a judge, if the person sought has been convicted of a violent or serious felony within the last five years, or may be on a terrorist watch list. Ultimately, Malliotakisâ€™ greatest challenge may be one she has little control over. During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, she was US Senator Marco Rubioâ€™s New York campaign chair and now she says she voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election. She is running in a city in which fewer than two out of 10 voters supported Trump. The mayor certainly has accomplishments that he can and will cite in his campaign. And he will talk about Donald Trump and the need to oppose him. Malliotakis will have to convince voters that the city is in terrible shape under de Blasio and that having a Trump supporter in City Hall will benefit them. â€œAre we getting the results?â€? she said. â€œOne of the things I would like to do is look at the metrics of these programs and see whatâ€™s working, whatâ€™s not workingâ€Ś I tend to see this mayor as somebody who just throws money at problems instead of actually looking at the root cause of the problems and seeing how we could fix the problems.â€? 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
NYC Community Media
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.
July 27, 2017
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July 27, 2017
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EPIC continued from p. 15
sea of talent vies for a small pool of jobs. While the company rehearses for its two yearly Mainstage productions, members also work to enhance audition preparation, scene study, on-camera acting, and “industry networking” (aka schmoozing) skills. Formal auditions are held once a year, but the general public has the opportunity to drop in on classes and workshops for $25 a pop. Once accepted into EPIC, anyone can pitch a film, play, solo show, or other project to Therrien. That’s the roundabout way “Dog Sees God” got its director, David Bonderoff. “I was one of the founding members,” he recalled of nottoo-distant 2016, “but was not part of the production team. I auditioned as an actor, then had the opportunity to create an improv class,” which set the stage for his work at the helm of the play. Bonderoff, who holds certificates in acting with the Stella Adler Studio and in improvisation with the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center, played the role of Beethoven in a production of “Dog” prior to graduating from Stony Brook University in 2015. “It was one of my first shows,” he said, while recalling how his own formative experience as an actor paralleled that of the cast he’s been directing.
Photo by Charlene Warner
L to R: Christian Patane, Gideon Pianko and Travis Burbee as characters who might remind you of those found in a certain comic strip.
“It was a great environment for selfimprovement and learning,” Bonderoff said of the rehearsal process. “It gave us the chance to tackle conceptual things within the play, like actors’ motivations, and really getting down to raw feelings; things we don’t get to talk about when we’re not discussing it in terms of the characters we’re playing. We really discovered ourselves and our relationship with the people we’re working next to.” The cast, Bonderoff noted, includes “people living with vision impairment, developmental disabilities including autism, and other general challenges.” Developmental disability and autism, he clarified, “are found within a wide
range of neurological characteristics, a spectrum that even includes people who are aligned with the term ‘neurotypical.’ It’s a spectrum because everyone is on it in some way.” Bonderoff, whose approach to preferred nomenclature is less about being politically correct and more about respectful fluidity according to personal preference, said he considers himself neurotypical — but quickly added, “If referring to myself as that were to make somebody uneasy, I would change the way I use the language. The way I see it, as a cis straight white male, I need to be more open to everyone else and who they are.” Echoing an exercise familiar to
actors who tap into empathy as a means of character development, Bonderoff said, of relating to others, “I have no concept of what they are going through, so I do my best to listen, hear, and observe.” Asked if alter-abled cast members brought any unique strengths to the process, Bonderoff referenced the play’s themes of isolation and disenchantment, along with its plot points of bullying and suicide. “This play covers a lot of fragile characters,” he noted, “with people just trying to do their best and live life. And these people [the actors] are so honest; so true to themselves. I view acting as an expression of truth, and sometimes what we need to see on stage is not an actor putting on a show, but a real human being living in the moment. … Our mission is simply to say, with the right amount of preparation, this population can put on a show that an audience will be invested in and impressed by.” The EPIC Players, a resident company of Horse Trade Theater Group, will perform “Dog Sees God” July 27–Aug. 6; Thurs.–Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 2pm. At The Kraine Theater (85 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($25, $20 for students/seniors/ military), visit epicplayersnyc.org. For audition & workshop info, email info@ epicplayersnyc.org. On Facebook: facebook.com/epicplayersnyc.
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NYC Community Media
July 27, 2017
July 27, 2017
NYC Community Media
Rhymes with Crazy
You’d Like My Friend BY LENORE SKENAZY Friday was a normal day for my friend Barbie Levin, an occupational therapist. She went to the modest home of a brand new patient, a baby who’d had a stroke in utero, was now one-year-old and still not crawling because one leg was too weak. As the mom watched, Barbie got down on the floor and placed the baby into crawling position. Then she asked the mom to go get the baby’s favorite food — a veggie stick (the kind that’s like a Cheeto, not a piece of celery). As the baby tried to propel herself forward but couldn’t, Barbie propped the weak leg up and the baby managed a tiny scoot. Then Barbie had the mom get on the floor, take her place, and do the same repropping. The baby took her fi rst three “steps” ever. She reached the treat and, said Barbie, smiling broadly, “ate it with relish.” As she left, the mother stunned with joy, Barbie felt pretty good. And also pretty bad. Like that baby, Barbie was born with a medical problem, too: something wrong with her urinary tract that affected her kidneys. As a little kid in the 1950s and ’60s, she was in and out of the hospital in an era when people were a lot less sensitive to what that feels like for a child. Each stay at the hospital lasted about a week, and she never knew when another one was coming. “My mom would wake me up and say, ‘It’s a hospital week!’ ” and Barbie would be overwhelmed with terror. Probes and pain and loneliness loomed, as did the humiliation of having interns, mostly men, coming in to examine her urinary tract and discuss it as NYC Community Media
if she wasn’t there. Thank god for the arts and crafts lady who made her daily rounds. Barbie made a set of tiny dolls. She kept them for 40 years. By then, Barbie was a real mom — a single mom by choice. “I spent all those years working with and falling in love with other people’s children,” she says. “It was time to have my own.” But her kidneys, damaged since childhood, were starting to fail. A few years ago the doctors told her she’d probably need a transplant — terrible words to hear in New York. The wait for the kidney from a deceased donor in our state is seven to nine years, one of the longest waits in the country. Since the wait here is so long, and since a kidney donated by a living person tends to last up to twice as long as a cadaver kidney, as Barbie’s condition worsened, she started a blog, BarbiesKidneyQuest. wordpress.com. How do you explain to someone who you are, and why they might want
to consider giving you a kidney? Barbie’s now college-age daughter, Yona, took a stab at it. She and her mom have one of those relationships, she wrote, maybe because it has always been just the two of them, where they sing together in the kitchen. They watch a lot of murder mysteries on television, the British ones. They live in Stuyvesant Town where Yona grew up watching her mom check in on elderly neighbors (there are plenty!) and bring them soup. As Barbie’s friend, I watch and marvel, too. She loves learning things like carpentry and cocktail making. She invented a grated ginger cocktail in 2012 that is still the talk of our circle. She made her own guitar, and couch, and just did a glassblowing class with her daughter. Like many of her friends, I did a little research and found out that giving a kidney does not shorten the donor’s life or compromise their health. So I got tested to see if I’m a match. I’m not. None of us are. Turns out I couldn’t do a “swap” either, where I’d give my kidney to a patient I matched, and their donor, a match for Barbie, would give her theirs. So instead, I am introducing you to her. A childhood spent at the hospital. An adulthood spent making ailing kids better, and parents weep for joy. Endless curiosity. Deep friendships. And a loving daughter she loves back, more than the moon and the stars. A life worth saving. Barbie. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker, founder of the blog Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com), and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?”
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July 27, 2017