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First Nations Collection Restored at AMNH 06

Overdose Efforts at City Shelters Questioned 10

In Vegas’ Wake, Gun Violence Activists Mass in Manhattan

Photo by Levar Alonzo

Mayor Bill de Blasio addresses a town hall gathering at the High School of Art and Design on Sept. 26, as City Councilmember Dan Garodnick looks on. Photo by Donna Aceto

Several hundred activists affiliated with Gays Against Guns marched from Union Square to Times Square one evening after the shooting mass murders in Las Vegas.

BY DONNA ACETO Gays Against Guns was formed in June 2016 in the wake of what was then the most lethal mass shooting in American history — the murder that month of 49 people and wounding of another 58 in an Orlando gay nightclub holding its weekly Latinx night. On October 2, several hundred activists affiliated with the group took to the streets in Manhattan to mark the sad fact that the Orlando massacre’s record had been broken, with the tragic murder of 59 concertgoers and wounding of more than 500 others in Las Vegas the night before. The Gays Against Guns contingent met at Union Square at 6 p.m., and a half hour later began marching up Broadway to Times Square, where the demonstrators rallied at the Red Staircase. The day before, as the Las Vegas concertgoers looked forward to what they thought would be an evening of outdoor music and fun, Gays Against Guns traveled by van to a gun show in Pennsylvania hoping to engage strong Second Amendment boosters on the facts of gun violence and the solutions before the American people. According to the group, it is the only gun violence group that has engaged those on the other side in this kind of direct dialogue that GUN VIOLENCE continued on p. 4

October 5 – 18, 2017 | Vol. 03 No. 20

TRANSPORTATION IS HOT BUTTON AT EAST SIDE TOWN HALL BY LEVAR ALONZO Residents of the East Side were primed and ready as Mayor Bill de Blasio fielded questions from all comers on Tues., Sept. 26 at a three-hour town hall meeting. Well over 200 people were in attendance at the High School of Art and Design on E. 56th St., with District 4 Councilmember Dan Garodnick, a three-term incumbent term-limited from seeking reelection this November, co-hosting. Transportation issues — ranging from urgent concerns about bicycle safety to complaints about the crowded conditions and unreliablity of the city’s subways and the inaccessiblity of portions of the East River waterfront — dominated the evening. Per usual for the mayor’s town halls around the five boroughs, personnel from city agencies across the board, in some cases all the way up to the post of commissioner and including ranking brass from the NYPD, were on hand to take questions directly. One of the highlights of the evening was the announcement that the city is making investments to upgrade St. Vartan’s Park on First Ave. between E. 35th and E. 36th Sts., installing new lighting and beautifying the space. The mayor also emphasized the $100 million committed to closing the gap in the East River Esplanade between E. 53rd and E. 61st Sts. so that local pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy unimpeded access to the riverfront. De Blasio opened the evening by saying he likes seeing residents come out to let him know what is going on in their neighborhoods.

“This is good to see this community come out, this is a community that is known for its civic engagement,” the mayor said. “In democracy, the wellspring of all change comes from the community.” No issue was too small or large or controversial for the town hall. One particularly hot button topic was the difficulty many pedestrians encounter as they try to navigate local streets when faced with the surging number of bicyclists. David Achelis, a member of Community Board 5, wanted to know who was going to speak for the people in seeing that traffic laws are enforced when it comes to cyclsts. He argued the city is building bike lane infrastructure that is going unused and that rogue bike rental trucks are showing up all around Central Park, threatening the quality of life for nearby residents. Another neighborhood resident, who identified himself as a condo board member from 411 E. 53rd Street, questioned what could be done to protect the safety of pedestrians. “When you’re walking, the culture in New York now is here come the bikes, get the hell out of the way,” he said. “You take your life in your hands when crossing the streets.” De Blasio responded to concerns over bike safety by noting it was in the previous administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the city embraced a vision of creating more environmentally clean ways to travel in the TOWN HALL continued on p. 4


New Laws Give More Muscle To Tenant Safety BY EILEEN STUKANE Tenants subjected to dangerous and intentionally demoralizing conditions were given new hope last week, in the form of legislation designed to, among other things, mitigate “construction as harassment” — a tactic employed by landlords and building owners in which unpleasant living conditions are used to harass rent-regulated New Yorkers until they move out, with the aim of renting or selling their units at today’s high market rate prices. The last of the 12 Stand For Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition’s bills was passed by the NY City Council on Wed. Sept. 27 — a hard-won victory that makes serious advancements in the quest for detecting landlord abuses, enforcing existing policies, and protecting tenants. Sponsored by NYC Councilmember Stephen Levin (District 33, Brooklyn), this last bill will create a Real Time Enforcement Unit (RTEU) within the Department of Buildings (DOB) — which, as one of its mandates, will follow up with inspections within a short period of time after receiving complaints about work being done

but lawmaking is only a start.


Photo by Christian Miles

Tenant advocates rallied on the steps of City Hall just prior to passage of the last of the 12 Stand For Tenant Safety Coalition’s bills.

without a permit. The RTEU will not be the only new division to be created within the DOB. Just a month earlier, on Wed. Aug. 30, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law, 18 pieces of tenant safety legislation that included 11 out of the 12 STS-generated bills. Among the remaining seven bills signed by the Mayor was one sponsored by NYC Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (District 6, Manhattan), which created a new Office of Tenant Advocate,

a watchdog division for tenants within the DOB. The DOB has historically been a monitor of building practices — codes, zoning, permits, and construction safety issues among them. Growing tenant complaints about construction as harassment and falsified permits have required the DOB to look beyond its usual agendas, but the issues have not abated. These new bills should bring a greater shift toward prioritizing tenant issues at the agency,

STS (standfortenantsafety.com) is a coalition of almost 30 organizations. Nine Councilmembers sponsored the STS 12-bill package, with some sponsoring more than one bill. It has been a fouryear march toward the accomplishment of this legislation. Brandon Kielbasa, director of organizing at Cooper Square Committee (coopersquare.org), one of the coalition members, is also a voice for the STS when he speaks about the continued commitment to follow up on the implementation of the new laws, which for the most part are amending laws that were already on the books. “We’re not at all viewing this as the end of the road but as reaching a milestone in the campaign. The campaign will change focus now,” Kielbasa told this publication, adding, “We’re going TENANT SAFETY continued on p. 28

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GUN VIOLENCE continued from p. 1

it acknowledges “can be uncomfortable at times.” But, the group insists, “this is what must happen if we want

to change minds and save lives.” Gays Against Guns meets next at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., on Thurs., Oct. 5 from 7-9 p.m. — Additional reporting by Paul Schindler

Gays Against Guns demonstrators in Times Square.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Ken Kidd, a Gays Against Guns activist.

TOWN HALL continued from p. 1

city, and that he doesn’t have a specific posture toward policing bicylists, except that they are subject to rules like any other vehicle operators. One aspect of the problem he is focused on, however, is the use of elecric bikes, illegal under city law but often used for deliveries. He plans to go after those operating electric bikes and the companies that employ them, creating real consequences and penalties. “We need everyone to abide by traffic laws, bicyclists need to abide by traffic laws too, and my instruction to the NYPD is if there are areas of reckless activity we need enforcement,” the mayor said. Deputy Inspector Nicole Papamichael noted that the 17th precinct, where she’s been at the helm since 2016, has issued more than 800 moving summoses to cyclists this year but said that safety concerns often keep squad cars from pursuing reckless bicycles, which can move through heavy traffic more easily. Like the mayor, Papamichael emphasized that

electric bikes are illegal in the city and are more often stopped and issued summonses than regular bikes. Another resident urged de Blasio to look into New Yorkers who register their cars in other states but eat up parking spaces of those who follow the law, urging the mayor to push for a residentonly parking law. De Blasio took that opportunity to quip, “You don’t think all those people with Vermont license plate are from there?” Hizzoner then said he would look into a crackdown on people who register out of state, noting the fees lost by New York. Service disruptions in the subways were a big topic of concern for residents at the town hall. Many complained about delays and signal failures, and some expressed fear of being stuck underground. “We don’t control the MTA,” said de Blasio. “We can only control what we can, it’s up to the governor to come up with the plan.” De Blasio said he has proposed a millionaires tax so New Yorkers with

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein jgoodstein@cnglocal.com Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides PUBLISHED BY

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EDITOR IN-CHIEF Paul Schindler editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc ART DIRECTOR John Napoli

Photos by Donna Aceto

A sign that undoubtedly captured the feelings of many Americans this week.

more pay a little extra, with that money going to fix problems at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Its unfortunate but we have to wait on Albany to help fix the issue with the MTA here in the city,” said the mayor, who must not only rely on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership at the MTA but would also need state legislative approval for any new tax on wealthy New Yorkers. On the question of riverfront access, de Blasio assured residents that he plans to continue to build on the vision of creating a continuous esplanade to encircle Manhattan in its entirety. Numerous residents voiced concerns about inaccessibility and also crumbling stretches of the existing esplanade in their neighborhoods. “My plan is create a viable, long-term esplanade for all residents of Manhattan,” the mayor said. “To be able traverse the entire loop of Manhattan would be powerful in a sense for residents and visitors.” He said the city needs to determine

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the total cost and a feasible timeframe for completing the project. In the meanwhile, he emphasized the progress on areas like the stretch of the E. 50s where work is ongoing. Garodnick, noting that the town hall represented one of the last times he would be able to address community concerns publicly as a sitting councilmember, paid tribute to the residents on hand. “I’m at the end of my 12 years,” he said. “When I first started, a tweet was something that a bird did and Mayor de Blasio was then a senior member of the New York City Council. But we are working as a community to address the challenges that we have on the East Side.” State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Dan Quart were in the audience and offered statements of praise for the work Garodnick had done for District 4 and the East Side. At the end of the question and answer period, the crowd broke into small groups to speak directly with de Blasio, Garodnick, and agency officials.

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Victims and Heroes Testify as Chelsea Bombing Trial Begins BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC On the night of Sept. 17, 2016, a man exits Penn Station at W. 31st St. and Eighth Ave. with three bags. It is approximately 6:42 p.m. For about a minute, he pauses and sets two of the bags down. He then proceeds south on Eighth Ave. Later, at about 6:51 p.m., video footage shows the same man with the same three bags stopping on W. 25th St. He puts the two bags — suitcases that can roll — next to a metal bench and sits for about 19 minutes. He again continues south on Eighth Ave. He reaches W. 23rd St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. Security footage from a nearby business shows him passing the shuttered St. Vincent de Paul Church, then turning around and sitting on its steps for about 20 minutes. He still has three bags when, at around 7:52 p.m., he gets up and starts walking. About a minute later, he is down to two bags. One is gone. Around 8:30 p.m. that Saturday night, a blast would shake that street, strike passersby with shrapnel, send a dumpster and debris flying, and stun a community and a city that never has 9/11 too far from its mind.

Sketch by Elizabeth Williams via AP

Defendant Ahmad Khan Rahimi, seated, left, in court during opening arguments on the first day of his federal trial Mon., Oct. 2. Rahimi, accused of setting off a pressure cooker bomb in that injured 30 people, was a “soldier in a holy war” bent on carrying out a murderous plot with maximum carnage, federal prosecutors said at the start of his trial.

Ahmad Khan Rahimi, 29, is accused of planting that bomb on W. 23rd St., another on W. 27th St., and bombs at two sites in New Jersey. At Federal District Court


in Manhattan on Mon., Oct. 2, Rahimi’s trial began, with jurors hearing from people who were hurt that night, law enforcement that collected evidence and security

footage, and, due to an outburst at the start of the trial, Rahimi himself. TRIAL continued on p. 24


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October 5, 2017


Artifacts of Continent’s First Nations Restored at AMNH BY LEVAR ALONZO The American Museum of Natural History has announced a $14.5 million project to update, restore, and conserve its Northwest Coast Hall by 2020, just in time for AMNH’s 150th anniversary. The museum’s oldest exhibit, the Northwest Coast Hall collection is home to the cultural and artistic expression of the indigenous First Nations of the Pacific Northwest, from Alaska through British Columbia and into Washington State. “As the museum approaches its 150th anniversary, we are excited to refresh and enrich the museum’s first hall and the first cultural gallery,” Ellen V. Futter, the museum’s president, said in a September 25 media briefing. “With an eye on both history and the present, we are pleased to be enhancing this important and magnificent hall to reflect the living cultures of the Pacific Northwest.” Representatives from some First Nations communities traveled to New York for the announcement. Bill Cranmer, a hereditary chief said his great-grandfather, George Hunt, worked with thenmuseum curator Franz Boas, known as “the father of American anthropology,” to prevent First Nations history from being lost. Cranmer sang a prayer song to bless the collection and everyone working at the museum. Under the direction of Boas, the museum opened the Northwest Coast Hall in 1899. Hunt, raised in his mother’s Kwakwaka’wakw (earlier often termed Kwakiutl) community, was a close collaborator of Boas’, the two working together to collect artifacts. The exhibit displays totem poles big and small, tools, ceremonial masks, and decorative pipes. “Boas’ deeply thoughtful cultural relativism, developed in dialogue with First Nations collaborators, was directly associated with his opposition to all forms of racism,” said Dr. Peter Whiteley, the museum’s curator of North American Ethnology. The museum’s Department of Conservation is beginning its


October 5, 2017

Photo by Matt Shanley/ American Museum of Natural History

The Northwest Coast Hall, home to the American Museum of Natural History’s First Nations of the Pacific Northwest collection, is AMNH’s oldest, opened in 1899.

Photo by Levar Alonzo

Dr. Peter Whiteley, AMNH’s curator of North American Ethnology, explains plans for the hall’s restoration and updating.

restoration project on the six 12-foot-tall totem poles that line the hall. It will take them more than a year to completely finish restoring these six, the first among a total of 78 red cedar totem poles, ranging from six to 18 feet in height, that will be refurbished and enhanced. The conservation staff explained that previous treatments on the poles were done before the museum had the services of professional conservators. Earlier treatments, they explained, weren’t stable, allowing dirt to be trapped in the

wood and darken the colors of the paint on the poles. Any new treatments will be applied in a manner to ensure they don’t change the poles’ appearance or otherwise permanently impact them, they said. “It is a very complex issue in that the paints were directly applied to the wood without a ground layer, so to some degree either small or large the paint has migrated into the wood,” said Judith Levinson, the Department Conservation’s director. “Then through the years coatings were applied to the pieces to preserve

them but by doing so sealed in dirt accumulated through the years.” Conservationists said they will use a process known as the modular cleaning program, a methodical approach to testing and cleaning paint on traditional paintings and more modern surfaces, as well. “Its often different from one color to another on the same pole,” said Levinson. “We will have to deploy a variety of cleaning strategies potentially for the same piece.” As a part of the project, the

Photo by Matt Shanley/ American Museum of Natural History

The Northwest Coast Hall restoration will include work on 78 totem poles, including six that are 12 feet in height and line the hall.

museum curatorial and conservation staff will be consulting with several Pacific Northwest Coast indigenous communities. The First Nations representatives on hand emphasized the significance of the heritage represented in the collection and their belief in the spirit and love they embody to this day. “These pieces on display have a voice which is powerful and loaded with meaning,” said Ron Hamilton, a First Nations artist and cultural historian. “The complex metaphors that these things provoke, the belief systems, philosophies, ethics, morals, and principles on which societies are based on. We have to have that stuff surface.” Later this fall, the museum will hold a convening of Native and non-Native scholars, artists, and conservators to consider additional approaches to the conservation and reinstallation of the hall’s artifacts. “We eagerly look forward to working with First Nations communities to create a modern exhibition hall that we hope will serve as a new exemplar,” said Whiteley. “We want to build on a long history of dialogue with Native experts that transcends the boundaries that often divide museums and Native communities.” NYC Community Media

Volume 1 | Issue 3

The Pulse of

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NYC Community Media

October 5, 2017


Elder-Specific Needs in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

Courtesy Red Cross

In a disaster recovery situation, elderly residents experience more distress than younger residents. The Red Cross and other relief organizations have resources to aid their bodies and minds.

BY NATHAN DICAMILLO As the residents of Puerto Rico continue to feel the effects of the debilitating wreckage that Hurricane Maria left in its wake, many of the island’s elderly residents have taken the brunt of the impact — like 96-year-old Hermenegildo Cotte Melendez, father of Leovigildo “Leo” Cotte Torres (the former mayor of Lajas). On Oct. 2, the Los Angeles Times reported Melendez died because the shelter he sought did not have electricity to power his air tank. When disaster hits, the same issues that affect young residents affect seniors — but to a much greater extent, noted Abigail Adams, the regional communications officer for the American Red Cross in New York. Sudden, often chaotic displacement not only separates elderly residents from their homes, sources of food and vital medications, but also disconnects them from a routine that may be vital to their mental health. “What the Red Cross does, is, we

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have trained mental health workers. That’s what sets us apart from any other organization,� Adams noted. These workers, along with spiritual care counselors, help elderly residents who may be more confused and disturbed by natural disasters than younger residents. “We work with people,� Adams said. “If they had to leave their medication behind we help them replace that medication. The people that run our shelters are extraordinary human beings.� The Red Cross does not have an option to donate specifically to the needs of elderly people. “It’s just by donating to us we make sure we can provide the resources that are needed to people no matter the age,� Adams said. The AARP Foundation, however, is providing relief especially for disaster victims over the age of 50 in Florida, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. “To meet needs, AARP, AARP Foundation, and the Miami Dolphins organization will match — dollar for dollar — contributions up to a total of $750,000,� Tara Dunion, director of media relations for AARP and AARP Foundation, wrote in an email. While there were at least 10,000 people in shelters as of Oct. 2, there is no way to determine how many elderly people are currently being taken care of, Adams said.

ELDERS CAN PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED A preparedness plan for natural disaster is essential for everyone — especially the elderly. “Having a plan helps everybody and it especially helps


• You and your personal support network should always notify each other when you are going out of town and when you will return. • The relationship should be mutual. You have a lot to contribute! Learn about each other’s needs and how to help each other in an emergency.

HOW YOU CAN DONATE OR VOLUNTEER THE AARP FOUNDATION is serving disaster victims, especially those over the age of 50. Visit aarp.org for more info. THE AMERICAN RED CROSS: Visit redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS. Courtesy Red Cross

Mental health outreach after a natural disaster is a vital service provided by the Red Cross.

fi rst responders,â€? Adams said. “We have preparedness guidelines that we recommend people going through and that’s basically building a network.â€? The Red Cross recommendations for what seniors should discuss with their personal support network are as follows: • Make arrangements, prior to an emergency, for your support network to immediately check on you after a disaster and, if needed, offer assistance. • Exchange important keys with a designated contact. • Show them where you keep emergency supplies. • Share copies of your relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans and emergency health information card. • Agree on and practice methods for

contacting each other in an emergency. Do not count on the telephones working.

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October 5, 2017


Advocates Charge Homeless Shelters Lax in Supplying Narcan to Prevent Overdoses


THE BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION RING CLEAR AS A SCHOOL BELL. But for too many students in New York City, effective physical education programs don’t exist. The American Heart Association is working to ensure every student in our city has access to PE.

BY NATHAN RILEY Advocates for the homeless are pressing the City Council to mandate that shelter staff from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) as well as their clients have ready access to medicine that reverses overdose poisonings, allowing the victim to breathe unassisted almost immediately. Nobody disputes the need for making Narcan available at the shelters. Overdoses are the leading cause of deaths among the homeless. Minimal training is required; Narcan can be administered by a person after a single training session. Also known as Naloxone, it is sprayed into the nose and, in most cases, after one or two squirts normal breathing is restored. Narcan use in city shelter facilities is up, according to records supplied by DHS. “We support the HealingNYC goal” of “increasing Naloxone training,” said Isaac McGinn, the department’s spokesperson, referring to the city’s multi-agency effort at preventing opioid deaths . Despite such assurances, VocalNY, the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project, and the Coalition for the Homeless are pushing for legislation to make this training mandatory for the staff at shelters and to require that their homeless residents be taught how to administer Narcan. These advocates are angry because in their view the city is not making public health its priority in the battle again opioids. The NYPD receives the lion’s share of the new funding, with additional detectives hired and every overdose investigated as a potential homicide. For groups representing the homeless and

others who use drugs, an approach based on actions after a person has died is callous. Users are at risk from overdosing, but it need not be fatal. Narcan will save their lives, and a public health approach based on prevention must be prioritized, advocates say. The HealingNYC initiative was announced in March, and it calls for homeless shelters to make Narcan available. Public health experts see it as an indispensible tool in bringing down a death toll that reached a new record last year. In 2016, there were 1,374 overdose deaths in all settings citywide, a 46 percent increase over the previous year. The bill advocates are pressing for was introduced on Jan. 17 by Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres, and its 22 co-sponsors include Upper West Side Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, East Councilmember Ben Kallos, and Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson from Chelsea. Despite the wide co-sponsorship, the measure has languished and was a bit player at an April 20 Council hearing. Angered by the delay, advocates and residents from homeless shelters held a news conference on the steps of City Hall on Sept. 27 blasting both the Council and DHS. “What have you been doing for nine months?” demanded Kassandra Frederique, the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Joshua Goldfein of the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project summed up the groups’ frustrations by saying there is “not a medical reason, not a legal reason, not a policy reason” to oppose Torres’ legislation.

You can help make that happen.

Text PHYS ED to 46839

Photo courtesy of Vocal-NY

City homeless shelter residents at a Sept. 27 rally demanding legislation to require the Department of Homeless Services to make Narcan available at all shelters to prevent overdose deaths.


October 5, 2017

NYC Community Media

Photo by Donna Aceto

Councilmember Ritchie Torres’ office said he is negotiating the fine points of legislation he authored with DHS and expects his measure to pass this month.

Their complaints are being heard. Torres’ office said negotiations are proceeding with DHS about the legislation’s fine points, and he expects a bill will pass this month. McGinn, speaking for DHS, confirmed that agency officials “are collaborating closely” with the Council. At last week’s press conference, shelter residents claimed that staff there are slow to respond to overdose incidents and prevent residents from using their own kits to reverse overdose crises. Whatever may have happened in the past, DHS says it has adopted new procedures and has now trained all staff members. Shelter residents at City Hall last week, however, voiced skepticism about those claims. With overdose deaths mounting across the city, DHS recently filled a long-time vacancy by hiring a medical director, Dr. Fabienne Laraque, a public health specialist with a background in HIV and hepatitis C prevention who formerly worked at the city health department. Laraque has taken the lead in training DHS police and staff in the use of Narcan, tapping medical school students from NYU late last year in “a massive effort” to get all agency staff up to speed on overdose prevention. OD reversals are increasing at DHS shelters, with the agency boasting that it intervened successfully on more occasions in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2016 — 99 versus 97. Each use of Narcan is reviewed the DHS medical staff, which can offer suggestions for follow-up. The agency may recommend, for example, that a homeless person who has called an ambulance for an overdosing partner be trained in the use of Narcan to enable immediate help if another incident arises. The city health department’s goal is to have drug users, their friends, and families all have Narcan readily accessible. In addition to homeless shelters, needle exchange programs, the Harm Reduction Coalition, and Vocal-NY offer training in properly administering the medication. According to health department statistics, overdose deaths among homeless New Yorkers rose 13 percent in 2016 over the previous year to 239, though most of those deaths occurred outside the shelter system. The city medical examiner has found that many of the deaths that occurred in shelters were due to multiple causes, such as a heart attack occurring along with an overdose. DHS voiced confidence this week that its new procedures can reverse more than 90 percent of ODs among shelter residents. Those residents who joined advocates at City Hall last week, however, remain convinced that deaths are higher than acknowledged and that legislation is needed to make certain that Narcan is available when needed in every city shelter. NYC Community Media


October 5, 2017


Our Perspective Proposed Workers’ Comp Changes Would Hurt Workers By Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW or over 100 years, our workers’ compensation system has protected workers injured on the job by providing immediate wage replacement and medical benefits without the need for a costly lawsuit. Now the obscure state agency that runs the workers’ compensation system in New York is proposing to cut benefits and eliminate essential legal protections for workers – changes that would devastate workers while lining employers’ pockets. Recently, the Board released with little notice a set of proposals that would upend the system, stripping injured workers of their legal rights and drastically cutting the compensation they receive. The first change would turn the routine medical examination, which must be done by an insurance-company paid doctor, into an adversarial interrogation. Up until now, an insurance company doctor was faced with two questions – was the worker injured on the job and if so what injuries did the worker sustain? Under the proposed regulations, workers – who may or may not speak or read English – would be required to answer a questionnaire that could force them to make statements that could hurt them in future legal proceedings. Yet, they would have no right to have a lawyer present. What’s worse, a doctor could classify a worker who refuses to answer a question or fails to answer a question to the doctor’s liking as “uncooperative.” Based on this classification, the Workers’ Compensation Board could suspend a worker’s benefits. The right to remain silent could be used against you if you are an injured worker. The Board was charged by the state legislature to suggest reforms to the guidelines that determine the level of benefits a worker might receive depending on the extent of permanent impairment resulting from the workplace injury. These reforms were supposed to be limited to “advances in medicine” that might alter the impact of a permanent impairment resulting from a workplace injury. Instead, the Board completely rewrote key provisions of the guidelines, going well beyond the scope of their mandate and drastically cutting injured workers’ benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Alliance examined potential outcomes based on real Workers’ Compensation claims to determine the impact of the new proposed regulations. Disturbingly, they found that only 18 percent of the claims would receive compensation under the new proposed guidelines. Under the current guidelines, 71 percent of these claims would be covered. If the proposed changes are allowed to pass, there could be a three-fold increase in uncompensated workplace injuries. Under these changes, many injured workers won’t be able to pay their rent or feed their families, let alone pay their medical bills, and that is an outrage. The Workers’ Compensation Board and Governor Cuomo should scrap these regulations and start again with a public, transparent process based on facts rather than a clear agenda to cut benefits to some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers: injured workers.


www.rwdsu.org 12

October 5, 2017

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

At right, Matt Green, deputy chief of staff to Councilmember Corey Johnson, said homelessness, construction, and traffic are issues that the office deals with on a daily basis.

MSCC Seeks Seed Money for Midtown Rooftop Garden BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC The Midtown South Community Council’s cleanup crusade continues. While the council, known as MSCC, did not have meetings in July or August, its president, John A. Mudd, and its board members were still busy working on improvements for the area, which spans 29th to 45th Sts., from Lexington to Ninth Aves. “We’ve had a few successes over the summer,” Mudd said at the council’s most recent meeting on Thurs., Sept. 21. “We had garbage dumping that was going on quite a bit in the neighborhood. There [were] several different sites around Midtown.” MSCC, with the help of the Midtown Community Court, recently did its fourth cleanup operation, picking up trash and other items that included rusted, derelict bikes and construction cones, he told the crowd gathered at the Midtown South Precinct at 357 W. 35th St. btw. Eighth and Ninth Aves. Derelict bikes — attached to lampposts, railings, tree guards, scaffolds and other street furniture — have been a problem in the area, and Mudd said they are looking to install some type of bike rack to help mitigate it. Additional bike racks are one of several proposed projects that the council hopes will get a slice of the $1 million Participatory Budgeting pie through Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office. The community gets the opportunity to vote on which projects should get fund-

ing, and the councilmember’s office hosted a kickoff event in late September. At the meeting, Mudd discussed a project that has been long in the making: a rooftop garden on the top of the Midtown South Precinct. “We’ve got a rooftop garden proposal edited, sent out,” he said. “We’re still looking for answers.” The council has partnered with Inner City Farmers, which has a rooftop garden at 205 W. 39th St., to grow vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Mudd said later in a phone interview that the NYPD is still considering the proposal. “We’re still trying to push them for that,” he said. “We’re looking at other options.” Mudd went to the District 3 Participatory Budgeting event on Sat., Sept. 23, and met with Judith Dahill, a librarian from the High School of Fashion Industries on W. 24th St. Dahill’s interest in a green roof for the school “might be a perfect fit,” said Mudd. “The rooftop idea seemed to have a lot of interest,” he said, and noted he is hoping to get some funding for the rooftop garden project. Depending on how much funding is received, the garden may be able to provide a work opportunity for someone who is homeless, Mudd said. Inner City Farmer gives the majority of its produce away to a women’s homeless shelter. Mudd said he wants the rooftop garden to be a self-sustaining enterprise with the hope there might be several in the neighborhood. MIDTOWN SOUTH continued on p. 26 NYC Community Media


OCTOBER ON INTREPID WELCOME TO THE FUTURE October 18, 7:30pm Experts discuss new technologies that will challenge every facet of society and inspire new ways of thinking. Wine and beer available for purchase. Buy tickets online. $15 general / $12 members. FAMILY ASTRONOMY NIGHT October 20, 7:30pm Hear from NASA’s Noah Petro about Apollo 17’s exploration of the moon, and stargaze with telescopes on the flight deck. Free. Admission is first come, first served.

HALLOWEEN HAPPENINGS HALLOWEEN-THEMED OPERATION SLUMBER October 28 Spend a night aboard Intrepid ! Get exclusive access to the ship and Space Shuttle Pavilion, and sleep among the aircraft, just like enlisted sailors once did. Reserve your spot today. Email groupsales@intrepidmuseum.org or call 646-381-5010. MEMBERS-ONLY HALLOWEEN FILM SCREENING October 28 Watch Toy Story of Terror and Hocus Pocus— a double feature that will get you into the Halloween spirit. Between films, hear a talk by a Museum educator about the “magic” of science. To learn more or become a member, visit intrepidmuseum.org/membership or call 646-381-5030.



NYC Community Media

October 5, 2017


Puerto Rico: Heartbreak, Love, and Determination BY PUMA PEARL I was raised in Gravesend, Brooklyn. I just happened to be there, as if I’d disembarked from a long train ride at some random location. Eventually, I found my home on the Lower East Side and my spiritual center in Puerto Rico. It wasn’t until I began to carry Puerto Rico in my heart that I understood the concept of passion and love for a homeland. My daughter has strong connections with her Boricua side, and she spent all of her childhood summers in Bayamón. I did not want her to grow up estranged, as I had. The news of Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that tore through the island on Sept. 20, threw many New Yorkers into shock. With no working infrastructure, reaching loved ones was impossible; some are still waiting, although many telephone lines are fi nally up in towns beyond San Juan. People desperately sought ways to cope with the onset of fear and anxiety. On the news, the president stated, “Texas and Florida are doing well, but Puerto Rico was obliterated.” When asked if he would visit, he said, simply, “Yes.” News reports stated that he would visit on Tues., Oct. 3.

The word I hear from people most often is “heartbroken,” but it has not prevented them from mobilizing. The morning after the storm, my neighbor Carmen Gomez Gonzalez was home worrying about her mother, who lives in Isabela, a town in the northwest region. “I had to do something,” she told me. “I called my sister and my friend and we brought a table downstairs, put up some signs, and that was it.” For four days, residents on the block passed by, donating the items most desperately needed, and offering cash to purchase more. Through it all, Carmen had no news. A week later she learned that her mother is safe. Carmen is focusing her energy on getting to Puerto Rico. The closest airport, in Aguadilla, does not accept passenger fl ights, so she is trying to

figure out how to make her way from San Juan. My friend Eric Morales, a Brooklyn native, has become familiar with travel barriers. He experienced the agony of missing family members and, upon locating them, the red tape of negotiating fl ights home. His sister, Yvonne Morales, and her girlfriend were vacationing in their mother’s town, Ceibas, when the storm hit. Their mother has multiple health issues and might not have survived had Yvonne not been there. Morales and his wife, Rosa, worked tirelessly on travel arrangements, dealing with astronomical costs — which have since dropped — and fi nding ways to get the family to San Juan. They refused to see the expense as an issue. “I’ll just work more,” Eric told me. “I’d swim there to get my girls home.” It took 16 hours for them to make it home, not including the long wait at the airport, but on Sept. 27, they arrived. While this is a positive outcome for the immediate family, they don’t view it simply as a happy ending.

“If I didn’t have to bring my mom home, I would have stayed and helped,” Yvonne said. “I felt guilty getting on that plane while so many are suffering.” A cousin who is in the military has reported back about the catastrophic conditions. “We are planning to go in a few weeks,” Eric said. “My uncle in Ponce is in a second round of radiation and needs treatment. Pastor Raymond Ramos [another Brooklyn friend] is down there now and I’m trying to help him set up a relief base for distribution. There have been babies with no food, sick people without medication. It’s a nightmare. People need to know.” Shipping and distribution, especially during the fi rst week, were obstacles not easily overcome. The goods collected in my building were brought to the Puerto Rican Family Institute. They delivered them to the National Guard. But it was still impossible to move the arriving crates past San Juan to towns and camps across the island. Also frustrating was the president’s PUERTO RICO continued on p. 23




October 5, 2017

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Old Dogs, New Show, Visual Tricks ‘Dressed and Undressed’ unleashes the Wegman archives BY NORMAN BORDEN There are many breeds of fine art photographers, but William Wegman has long had a pedigree all his own. He has been photographing dogs — not just any dogs, but his beloved Weimaraners — for nearly 40 years. With Man Ray as his first muse, Wegman has humanized his dogs to the point of absurdity at times and made them famous. Long recognized as a brilliant conceptual artist, painter, photographer, writer, and video artist, he has portrayed his dogs as landscapes, put clothes on their backs and everything from wigs to fruits on their heads, thereby making us take a closer look at ourselves. With a wink here and there, he has turned his dogs into a cast of whimsical characters, virtually guaranteed to make us smile while we wonder how he does it. More smiles are in store in “William Wegman Dressed and Undressed,” a thoroughly engaging show at Sperone Westwater of 20 x 24 inch Polaroids never exhibited before. It spans over 30 years of Wegman’s Polaroid work and, amongst its many charms, it challenges the viewer with visual sleight of hand. Is that a mountain range or a dog’s back? Is that a wine glass or dogs’ legs artfully composed? Why is one dog much bigger than the other? It’s Wegman’s well-known wit at work. Speaking recently with this publication by phone, the artist explained how Man Ray started it all. “I got him in September 1970 as a very young puppy.” Wegman recalled. “I had just started to do video and photography so I took him to my studio and took his picture. Naturally, if you have a baby, you take his picture and it was sort of magical the way he looked on camera. I was working in black and white photography and video NYC Community Media

Photography by William Wegman, courtesy the artist & Sperone Westwater, NY

Photography by William Wegman, courtesy the artist & Sperone Westwater, NY

“Twisted Hope” (2001. Color Polaroid, 24 x 20 in. / 35 x 26 1/2 in. frame).

“Parcheesi” (1998. Color Polaroid, 24 x 20 in. / 35 x 26 1/2 in. frame).

and he was grey; somehow he seemed to suit it. The longer we worked, the more involved it became and the more hilarious he was, especially in video.” In 1979, the Polaroid Corporation invited the artist to try out its new 20 x 24 inch camera. He took Man Ray to Polaroid’s Boston studio to work with him and liked the large format and the almost instantaneous (70 seconds) exposure. “I reveled in that everything was the same 20 x 24 vertical,” Wegman said. “I loved that. I didn’t have to think how big this should be. Polaroid was great because you could see every little trick. If you tried to hide something, forget it, you couldn’t Photoshop it out. The dogs were really cooperating; they weren’t just stuck in there in some post-production way. That’s what I liked.”

However, the camera had its limitations. It was huge, weighing over 200 pounds — and since it couldn’t be pointed down at the ground, Wegman used special stools and pedestals to raise the dogs up to camera height. In the studio, if the shot he was trying to get didn’t work out after two or three exposures, he said, “I’d stop and go another way… It sticks its thumb out at you. It costs a lot of money to make and gives you this tremendous energy to correct it.” After Man Ray died in 1982, Wegman didn’t get another dog until 1986 when Fay Ray entered the picture. “The real laughs came with Fay Ray,” the artist recalled. He took hundreds of Polaroid images of her and her offspring until 2007, when Polaroid stopped making the 20 x 24 film. He would

rent the 20 x 24 camera every couple of weeks and take 4 x 5 inch color transparencies of a few Polaroids for exhibitions, and store the rest in archival boxes. “I would never look at them again,” he said. But when writer Bill Ewing proposed doing “William Wegman: Being Human” (published Oct. 3 by Thames & Hudson), these archived Polaroids became the basis of the book and the current show. Ewing, the artist noted, “is the one who broke down these characters into chapters like ‘Landscapes’ for the book and ‘Dressed and Undressed’ for the show. I thought it was funny having nude dogs and characters. I never thought of myself as the guy who dressed up all the dogs, but most people probably think that.” Asked his reaction when Polaroid announced it was end-

ing 20 x 24 film production, Wegman’s answer was surprising: “I was kind of relieved. The camera was exhausting to use.” Of course, at that time, digital photography was changing everything. According to the artist, “Digital is way more instantaneous... The choices you can make are huge — how many, how big, how little, do you add something, subtract something?” One of the more riveting images in the show is “Parcheesi.” Composed of two dog legs touching each other; the negative space looks like a wine glass. It’s just amazing. “Parcheesi looks easy,” Wegman said, “but it was very hard to do… everything had to be just so… It’s very geometric; a map of dog legs, ‘Parcheesi’ [a classic WEGMAN continued on p. 20 October 5, 2017


Photography by William Wegman, courtesy the artist & Sperone Westwater, NY

“chick CHICK� (1991. Color Polaroid. Two panels, each 24 x 20 in. / 35 x 49 in. frame). WEGMAN continued from p. 19

#AFFESTNYC returns with new programming for its second year, featuring provocative, innovative short ďŹ lms starting October 10 through 13, 2017 in New York City. The festival provides a platform for emerging ďŹ lmmakers from around the globe to share their stories with New York’s creative, media, and ďŹ lm communities, showcasing 31 short ďŹ lms from 9 countries OFFICIAL SCREENINGS: Oct 10th, 11th, & 13th The Cell (338 W. 23rd St. btwn 8th & 9th Aves.) FILMMAKERS MIXER: Oct 12th The Chelsea Bell (316 8th Ave @ 26th St.) FOR TICKETS: ďŹ lmfreeway.com/festival/affestnyc/tickets FOR MORE INFO:

board game] refers to the colors.� When asked how he gets the dogs to pose, Wegman replied, “The dogs are so calm. Once they get in the studio they let you adorn them. They like the attention, they like being looked at, held, talked to and used. They thrive on the interaction. They’re calm around me, but not other people. Must be something I do. They’re always looking at me like, what should we be doing, Bill?� In viewing the diptych “Victor/ Chundo,� which features a ceramic statue of the iconic RCA Victor — its head tilted to the right and Chundo, the number one son of Fay Ray, tilting his head to the left — one has to wonder, how did that happen? �You can elicit the tilted head by speaking sweetly,� Wegman explained of his method of questioning. “Do you want to go for a walk or be in a video? They’re trying to listen and hear what you’re saying.� In the photograph “BATTY/Batty,� size matters. The conceit here is that the small image is actually a cutout from a Polaroid. The artist revealed that he made a little stand for the small picture and after placing it next to Battina, took the

Polaroid of the photo. Very clever. In “Daisy Nut Cake,â€? an incredible parody of Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s work, Fay Ray sports two Slinkys with glass eyes, her head covered by fruit, flowers, and a hat. Wegman said, “Fay had remarkable steadiness and willingness to put up with this stuff. Fay was proud of her stamina.â€? So where does this conceptual genius get his ideas? Wegman credited the source as the dogs themselves. “Some of the later ones, where I turned them into landscapes, came from looking at my groups of dogs lying on the couch close together, creating hills and valleys‌ and probably a lifetime of working with them in the studio, playing with them, and living with them in your house gives you ideas. Once in a while there’s a project, like when the Metropolitan Opera loans you sets and costumes and asks, ‘What can you do with that?’ Once I became well-known, it’s kind of thrown in your lap and ideas come from that.â€? Through Oct. 28 at Sperone Westwater (257 Bowery, btw. Houston & Stanton Sts.). Hours: Tues.–Sat., 10am–6pm. Call 212-999-7737 or visit speronewestwater.com. Artist info at williamwegman.com.







                ! "




October 5, 2017

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 5, 2017


Halloween Horrors of the Virtual World Disturbing and terrifying treats for October and beyond BY CHARLES BATTERSBY Many video game publishers like to focus on big blockbuster games in the fall, to usher in holiday giftgiving profits. However, a few clever companies have brought their spookiest titles to the market just in time for Halloween. Horror games where monsters pop out at the player for cheap scares are slowly being replaced by projects offering more cerebral frights. Many of this year’s big horror titles have little combat — and even when they do, the primary source of fright comes from the protagonist doubting their own sanity. Whether you’re fi lling up your own virtual pumpkin bucket or playing the long game of stocking stuffi ng, here are a few disturbing and terrifying treats that deserve to make the cut. This year, October 13 is on a Friday. So, of course, Bethesda Softworks had to release their big new horror blockbuster, “The Evil Within 2,” on that ominous (some say cursed) date. The much-anticipated sequel picks up a few years after the fi rst “The Evil Within,” but new players should be able to leap right in without playing the fi rst game. They will take control of former police Detective Sebastian Castellanos, who fi nds himself in a small town called Union. The plot of the fi rst game centered on a device that could draw people into a virtual reality, and Union is actually a distorted virtual version a wholesome little town. The game has a non-linear story, so players will be able to set aside the main quest line and go looking for mysteries to solve in Union. Both “The Evil Within” games are directed by Shinji Mikami, who also directed the fi rst game in the “Resident Evil” franchise, not to mention “Resident Evil 4.” Many horror game fans consider “Resident Evil 4” to be the apex of that series, and “The Evil Within 2” uses similar controls and combat. This means the horror is tempered with plenty of action. Players will still need to ration their ammunition and other resources carefully but, for those who like gunplay combined with their horror, this is the game grab of the fall. People who want a more introspective form of horror can try “Conarium,” which released in June. This game has little combat, and takes its inspirations from weird science


October 5, 2017

Via Red Barrels Inc.

Dreaming you’re back in the fourth grade is not the scariest part of “Outlast 2.”

Via Bethesda Softworks/Tango Gameworks

“The Evil Within 2” promises visceral horrors and sadistic enemies.

author H.P. Lovecraft, and his tales of things too terrifying for mankind to comprehend. It begins at an Antarctic research base and uses a plot that is overtly inspired by Lovecraft’s novella “At the Mountains of Madness.” The player discovers a secret prehuman society deep beneath the ancient ice. To survive this encounter with the unknowable, players will need to solve puzzles and occasionally escape pursuing monsters.

Unlike “The Evil Within 2,” this game doesn’t allow players to gun down the bad guys. In “Conarium,” the only option for the poor protagonist is fleeing in abject terror. Learning the full backstory of the game requires players to hunt down journal entries and other clues, and then piece together what happened. The overall tone, visual design, and storytelling will delight true Lovecraft fans.

Another terrifying game from earlier this year is “Outlast 2.” In it, players control a photojournalist, armed only with a camcorder. Instead of rationing ammo, players have to ration batteries for their camera. As with “Conarium,” there is no way to fight back — and “Outlast 2” is full of patrolling enemies who are constantly searching for outsiders to kill. Players must sneak HORROR GAMES continued on p. 31 NYC Community Media

PUERTO RICO continued from p. 14

refusal to waive or, more appropriately, abolish the Jones Act, a 1920 regulation requiring that shipping goods by water from the mainland U.S. to Puerto Rico only be done by American-owned boats. He had promptly waived the act for Texas and Florida. His tweets about the hardship it would cause the shipping industry angered many. “Texas and Florida are doing well,â€? Trump tweeted on Sept. 25, “but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from weak infrastructure and massive debt is in deep trouble‌ .â€? On Sept. 28, it was reported that, under congressional and public pressure, as well as a formal request from Puerto Rico’s governor, Trump waived the act. The celebratory bubble burst quickly at the news that it would only be for 10 days. Lawmakers have been pushing for a one-year waiver in order to speed deliveries to an island that may be without electricity for six months or more. The president’s communications reached a new low when he began a Twitter war with San Juan Mayor Carmen YulĂ­n Cruz after she requested more help. Trump accused her of “poor leadership qualityâ€? and the community of “wanting everything done for themâ€? and cautioning the citizens, still without power not to watch “fake news.â€? A photo of Mayor Cruz, wading through sewage with a bullhorn searching for survivors, quickly went viral. Despite the lack of a unifying leader, for New Yorkers the fight goes on. Collections and benefits are underway, particularly in areas with large Latino populations. I’ve touched base with many corners in addition to my City Council District 1 neighborhood, where signs announcing collection sites are everywhere. On Mon., Sept. 25, I stopped by a tremendous collection outside the Sunset Park office of Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, who was also searching for two family members. The following evening, I attended Barrio Poetix Hurricane Relief Benefit in East Harlem’s La Marqueta, a night of poetry, music and art. Tables surrounded the space to accept donations and sell contributed artwork. During a break, I asked performer and sponsor La Bruja, how they were transporting the items. “That’s the problem,â€? she responded. “I spoke to my aunt in ManatĂ­. They are running out of food, drinking polluted water, the animals are dead‌ . They need our help now.â€? Aponte, the founder/president of Latina 50 Plus, and board member and artist Mia Roman announced a $500 donation from their organization. On Thursday, before attending the Emergency Rally for Puerto Rico at Lower Manhattan’s Federal Plaza, I visited Daisy Paez, a newly elected Lower East Side Democratic district leader, at the Educational Alliance on East Broadway, where she works. It’s also a collection site, spearheaded by Rachel Birch, the settlement house’s director of donor engagement and special events. I asked Paez about coordination of collections and collaborative efforts in our neighborhood. “Right now, agencies and churches are all involved independently,â€? she said. “I had a call from a rabbi yesterday too, asking how he can help. What I am working on, with my partner, David Maldonado, is a very large fundraiser which will NYC Community Media

include well-known musicians. We need to do it on a grander scale.� This conversation led me to reflect on the lack of visibility of City Councilmember Margaret Chin. I have not sensed her presence or found any statements or analysis, despite the fact that District 1 is 25 percent Latino, primarily Puerto Rican. I spoke with Marian Guerra, Chin’s director of communications, who stated that the councilmember’s office was supporting the community initiatives and working with Paez to secure a date and venue for a large event. Many are determined to continue the struggle, but more than a willing spirit is needed. As poet / educator Bonafide Rojas stated, “When Puerto Ricans are referred to as a ‘resilient’ people it’s because we

had to be, not because it was something we wanted to be. When people speak of resiliency, you are unconsciously letting a corrupt government, a colonial power, incompetent leaders, puppet politicians and an infrastructure that is decades old and overdue for repair off the hook‌ . We are an oppressed people. We as Puerto Ricans want respect, sovereignty, dignity, human rights and freedom to choose our future!� Upon this writing, two of my daughter’s Bayamón family members have yet to be found. Do not let this story slip into the back pages. This writer does not recommend specific charities, but urges you to carefully research your choices and to support local efforts. PalantÊ, Siempre PalantÊ!

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TRIAL continued from p. 5

‘THE HEAVENS HAD OPENED AND FALLEN DOWN’ For Helena Ayeh, an architect who works from home at W. 23rd St., her plans for that Saturday night included shopping Downtown and then making dinner for herself. “As I was walking home, suddenly I heard a very loud bang. There was a bang and a fl ash,” she recalled, calling it “deafening” and “blinding.” “I felt myself thrust upwards and forwards.” She landed on her knees and was somehow in front of her apartment building. Ayeh, who wears glasses, still had the spectacles on, but “couldn’t see anything when I got up,” she told the court. She searched for her keys, but said, “I felt the keys but I couldn’t see them.” Her arm was “full of blood,” and her “white shirt was covered in blood,” with Ayeh saying she “didn’t quite realize I was hurt.” Ayeh turned, yelled for help, and couldn’t hear anything. “The heavens had opened and fallen down,” she said. She screamed. Someone put their arm around her and led her to an ambulance. While in the ambulance she recalled asking a woman who was helping her if her eye was still there. The woman hesitated. Ayeh asked again, and, after what seemed like an eternity, the woman asking her, “Do you believe in God?” Ayeh said she did, and recalled the woman replied, “Pray.” After going to the hospital, a doctor told her she had a cut from the corner of her eye to the inside of her eye. After some time, her vision recovered to its prior state. Vicki Fereia had been enjoying the evening with her husband and three kids, watching TV at her apartment at Selis Manor (135 W. 23rd St., btw. Sixth and Seventh Aves.). Selis Manor is a 14-story building for the blind, visually impaired and those with physical disabilities. “We heard a boom sound,” she recalled, saying it was “like coming out of a movie.” Her third-floor apartment was shaking, and she told her husband, “They’re trying to kill us!” Fereia, who uses a walker and was helped into the witness box, said that the windows in her living room were broken, and shattered glass that was everywhere had to be cleaned up. In a voice that started to waver,


October 5, 2017

File photo by Tequila Minsky

Chelsea resident Jane Schreibman, at the W. 27th St. location where she saw the bomb on the night of Sept. 17, 2016. “I saw something that caught my eye on the curb. It seemed strange,” she recalled, during testimony on the opening day of Ahmad Khan Rahimi’s trial.

Fereia told the court she had to take counseling for seven months after the blast. “Thank God we’re alive and we prayed,” she said. Arkeida Wilson and her friends were looking to catch a movie at the SVA Theatre at 333 W. 23rd St. (btw. Eighth and Ninth Aves.). They had eaten at a restaurant on the Lower East Side, and since it was a nice night, decided to walk to the theater. “When the explosion went off, it was a very loud popping noise,” said Wilson, who lives in Brooklyn and is a clothing designer. Separated from her friends, Wilson ran into one building, then another looking for “a safer place to hide,” she told the court. Wilson said she was treated for multiple burn wounds and had debris in her body. Doctors removed most but not all the metal that was in her chest and legs. She told the court she has scars from that night, and has had trauma therapy for some time.

through it. They removed an object — a pressure cooker — from the bag, left it on the street, and then took the suitcase and left. Chelsea resident Jane Schreibman noticed that pressure cooker. A friend had given her a call around 10 p.m. about the explosion on W. 23rd St. On her way to see what was happening, Schreibman told the court, “I saw something that caught my eye on the curb. It seemed strange.” The pressure cooker had wires coming out of it and a white plastic bag attached to it, she said. Schreibman continued on her way but “it was lingering” in her mind. She said she thought it might have been a family getting rid of a child’s experiment. “I was afraid it was a bomb,” she told the court, and proceeded to call 911 to report it when she got back to her apartment. The 911 call was played for the court. On Sept. 30, 2016, Schreibman received a Proclamation for reporting what she saw.



The prosecution called witnesses from businesses along W. 27th St., where another bomb was planted but did not go off. One witness described how security footage showed two men who noticed the bag and decided to go

At the start of the trial, Rahimi wanted to speak, and when US District Judge Richard Berman told him not at this time, he continued to talk. Rahimi was escorted out of the courtroom after standing up right when the prosecutor

was going to give their opening statement, according to the New York Daily News. “The whole year I’ve been waiting to get this thing across,” Rahimi said, according to the News. Rahimi was brought back into the courtroom after the government made its opening statement. Wearing a light blue shirt, he said had no intention to cause a scene. His wife’s visa application is being held up, and he asked why he was being prevented from seeing her. He said he also had a visitation issue with his children — a younger brother was able to bring them to see him, but the brother was no longer on his list of permitted visitors. “I’ve kept quiet for an entire year,” Rahimi told the court. Berman said that neither Rahimi nor his defense attorneys had raised the visitation issue. The case, he said, had been going on for almost a year, and Rahimi’s attorneys had brought up “every imaginable issue on your behalf,” but not this. “You’ve never raised it with me,” Berman said. He told Rahimi that if he was going to be in the courtroom, he cannot speak out of turn. On Tues., Oct. 3, Berman noted the government had said it had two or three weeks of testimony from witnesses. This publication will continue to follow the trial. 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.

October 5, 2017



Photo by John A. Mudd

On W. 41 St. and Ninth Ave., debris collected during a July 27 cleanup conducted with the help of volunteers from Midtown Community Court. MIDTOWN SOUTH continued from p. 12

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September 21, 2017

Other projects include getting the sidewalk repaired on a stretch of Eighth Ave. from W. 35th to 40th Sts. “It’s in shambles,â€? he said. “It’s horrific really.â€? And Eugene Sinigalliano, the Council’s beautification director, is going to spearhead an effort to take “care of Port Authority’s trees along 40th St. between Eighth and Ninth,â€? Mudd said. “They’re planting new trees along‌ that street and we’re going to be taking care of that.â€? Other proposals for Participatory Budgeting funding focus on resources for the homeless, including a day space where the homeless could gather, Mudd said. Homelessness has been on the council’s radar and it works with several nonprofits and outreach groups on the issue. During the council’s summer hiatus, frustration mounted over quality-of-life concerns and the homeless. At the meeting, residents wanted to know what could be done. Several cited behavior — masturbating, having sex in the open, urinating and defecating, drug use and continuous inebriation, among others — that concerned them, with some parents saying their children had seen it as well. At the council’s June meeting, Inspector Russell Green, commanding officer of the Midtown South Precinct, said the precinct had been selected for a

pilot program with the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS). After the meeting, Green told this publication four teams twice a day were going out to do homeless outreach. Lt. Louis Marines said at the most recent meeting that “we’ve made close to 600 contacts.â€? Often people will not accept services right away. Earlier this year, when a reporter from this publication accompanied outreach team from the nonprofit Breaking Ground, which works to get the homeless inside and housed. Members of the team said a lot of outreach is about repeated contact and it could take years to get someone inside. Matt Green, deputy chief of staff to Councilmember Johnson, said, “This is a very difficult issue‌ We want to be compassionate but we also want to make sure that our quality of life is not destroyed by people urinating and defecating and engaging in illegal activity.â€? Mudd, who has worked on this issue for a some time, said he understood residents’ frustration, and encouraged people to get involved in any way they could. “As a community and as a police department, we have to really get our hands dirty and participate, find solutions,â€? he said. Visit midtownsouthcc.org for more information about the Midtown South Community Council. NYC Community Media

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October 5, 2017


shed,” she noted. “It’s also for residents who live right next door where a building owner is trying to harass them out.” The two new DOB divisions, the RTEU and the Office of Tenant Advocate, along with the strengthened laws — which include: creating a multi-agency task force to monitor construction work in multiple dwellings, instituting liens against landlords who ignore fines, cracking down on work done without a permit, and preventing falsified permit claims that a building is unoccupied — are designed to change the culture of construction. Their effectiveness will be tested.

TENANT SAFETY continued from p. 2

to go crazy spreading the word in the next year. We’ll create materials, do tenant information sessions, just spread the word like mad.” STS will surely have help from the City Councilmembers who sponsored bills because they are especially aware of the suffering of their constituents. They have been pounded by tenant associations and community organizations, with individual stories of impossible living conditions that include the cutting off cooking gas, toxic dust and fumes, collapsed ceilings and walls, broken windows, the invasion of vermin, relentless jackhammering, all conducted by landlords who want to pressure them to leave their homes so they — the landlords — can convert their apartments to market value. “The reality is that these problems are really plaguing the entire city for the most part,” Kielbasa said. “There are a few neighborhoods that don’t have these issues but anyplace that has rent regulation is starting to see them.” He explained that core neighborhoods with overheated housing markets are seeing construction as harassment in higher volume. Neighborhoods that are rezoned, and faced with development following the rezoning, are targets for unscrupulous landlords and bad acting developers. The Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, which was established in 2015 as a collection of state and city agencies headed by the NY State Attorney General’s Office, investigates and brings actions, including criminal charges, against landlords who harass tenants. Recently it found Icon Realty Management guilty of multiple violations, hazardous conditions among them, and ordered Icon to pay $500,000 in fees and fines. However, this task force cannot do it all. “As much as we’re really glad to have the Attorney General and the Tenant Protection Unit going after landlords,” Kielbasa noted, “They’re looking at specific ones and saying ‘We’re going to take this one on because this is a clear case.’ That is really welcome enforcement. The reality is that they can’t take on all of them because there are just so many bad acting landlords who employ this stuff in these hot neighborhoods.” Enter the RTEU and the Office of Tenant Advocate. Within the DOB the staffing of the two new divisions, the RTEU and the Office of Tenant Advocate, is unknown as yet. The Office of Tenant Advocate is due to take effect on Dec. 28, 2017 (each law goes into effect at a specified date). As Councilmember Rosenthal explains, “We’re in the rule-making period where the Department of Buildings is deciding how to implement and identify


October 5, 2017

Photo by Sarah Crean

Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (foreground) at a Feb. 2017 rally decrying the nefarious landlord/building owner technique of “construction as harassment.” Rosenthal sponsored the bill that is creating an Office of the Tenant Advocate at the Department of Buildings.

Photo by Christian Miles

Councilmember Stephen Levin, sponsor of the Real Time Enforcement bill, at the Sept. 27 rally.

this office.” Rosenthal is committed to working with the Mayor’s Office to make the Office of Tenant Advocate an effective one. “It’s important to me that it be implemented in the way we envisioned it,” she said. The DOB was not in favor at first. When hearings were held on these bills in April, representatives of the DOB were quoted as saying that a Tenant Advocate would “create no improvement” and that the work of the Tenant Advocate is already handled elsewhere in the DOB. Now that the Office of Tenant Advocate has been legislated, Andrew Rudansky, DOB’s deputy press secretary emailed this statement: “We are currently reviewing the legislation and its implementation. Tenants who believe they are being harassed by their landlord should report it to 311 immediately, and we will send an inspector to investigate. DOB is a proud partner in the city’s Tenant Protection Task Force, through which we’ve conducted over 2000 harassmentrelated safety inspections over the last

year alone, resulting in hundreds of violations to building owners. We look forward to continuing our work with our fellow agencies to crack down on owners who unnecessarily endanger the lives of their tenants through illegal constructionbased tenant harassment.” Rosenthal is energized to help model the Office of Tenant Advocate similarly to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which has the ability to shut down locations in which illegal activities are taking place and bring unsafe conditions into compliance. Her hope is that the Tenant Advocate could be accessed via 311, and also online through a DOB dropdown menu — a link on the DOB website that creates a level of priority for tenants looking for help. “My feeling is that as we start to navigate the system for our tenants, we need to define safety more broadly,” said Rosenthal. The DOB’s concern has mostly been focused on construction safety. “Safety is not just for residents walking under a sidewalk

A COMMENT FROM THE COMMUNITY Representing the Chelsea-based Community & Residents Protection Group (CRP), which has been monitoring falsified building permits in the area, Pamela Wolff called these new laws “essential steps” to protect residents and combat “citywide abuse construction activity.” Enforcement, however, remains a concern. “Existing laws require the applicant to sign a construction permit, to acknowledge if the building will be occupied during construction and to acknowledge if any of the units are subject to rent regulation,” Wolff noted, “If it will be occupied there must be a Tenant Protection Plan submitted before a permit can be issued that addresses basic safety issues such as fire safety, lead and asbestos dust.” Further citing existing laws that provide for DOB enforcement actions (including fines ranging from $4,800 to $24,000 and the revocation of permits), Wolff added that the CRP’s recent survey of just five Chelsea blocks found eight buildings which “falsely certify the buildings are not occupied. Seven falsely certify the buildings are not occupied by rent regulated residents. Fifteen do not have the Tenant Protection Plans included, even though six of those have certified the buildings are occupied. Laws are useless if they are not enforced. Enforcement is the critical element.” The reality is that the DOB will need greater manpower to undertake enforcement. Now that it has successfully ushered its 12 bills into law, the STS Coalition intends to make this reality a priority for city officials. “We’ll be advocating for them,” Kielbasa vowed. “We’ll be fighting during budget season. The DOB needs more staff, needs to maintain actual boots on the ground.” With enough resources to enforce tenant safety laws, the drive to end construction as harassment — and other abuses that chip away at the city’s affordable housing stock — will enter a new phase. NYC Community Media

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HORROR GAMES continued from p. 22

around in the darkness to survive, using the night vision lens of their camera outwit foes in the darkness. Much of the horror in “Outlast 2” comes from the fact that it uses a relatively realistic setting. The main characters must escape a rural community that is beset by a holy war between two groups of religious fanatics. It is deliberately provocative with its use of Catholic imagery and a “Middle America” setting. Because “Outlast 2” uses an entirely different protagonist and location, players don’t need to have experienced the fi rst game. However, the original “Outlast” remains a brilliant psychological horror game in its own right, even four years after its release. For players who want to support the work of indie designers, the game “Inmates” hits the virtual shelves on Oct. 5. While it isn’t as polished or elaborate as some of the other horror games out there, it does incorporate many of the same design elements, including a helpless protagonist trying to escape a prison populated only by memories and phantoms. Even games that aren’t specifically about horror are getting in on the act this month. Online multiplayer games like “World of Worldcraft” usually hold short-term events during the weeks around Halloween, and WoW’s developers have already confi rmed a “Hallows End” in-game event, which begins on Oct. 18. Last year, the online shooter “Overwatch” also held a “Halloween Terror” event that temporarily added in new maps and game modes with a gothic horror theme. It also served as a way to test out a new cooperative mode where players teamed up to fight waves of robot zombies. This week, the publisher of “Overwatch” confirmed the return of “Halloween Terror” beginning on Oct. 10. People who have yet to try this massively popular game now have one more reason to jump on the bandwagon. Zombies have been a part of the “Call of Duty” franchise for nearly a decade. The most recent game, “Call of Duty: Infi nite Warfare,” also has an outlandish zombie mode. The developers have confi rmed that something special coming this month, although details have not been released at the time of this writing. From the absurdities of fighting robot zombies to the terrors of confronting religious extremism, Halloween 2017 has a virtual nightmare for everyone. NYC Community Media

A hatchet is of little use against the abysmal enemies of “Conarium.”

Via Iceberg Interactive/Zoetrope Interactive

October 5, 2017


September 21, 2017 NYC Community Media


Profile for Schneps Media

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October 5, 2017