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Serving Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport and the Financial District VOLUME 31, NUMBER 2

JAN 25 – JAN 31, 2018

Nevertheless, they persisted The Women’s March marks one year of #Resistance Page 16

Photo by Milo Hess

One year on from a history-making protest on the day after President Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March took to the streets again on Jan. 20 to kick off another year of #Resistance. For more, see page 15.

Nazi plaques to stay in Canyon of Heroes Page 4

Also in this issue: Setback for rent regulation Page 6

1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • C O P Y R I G H T © 2 0 17 N YC C O M M U N I T Y M E D I A , L L C

School-safety worries in the age of ISIS Page 2


Protecting Downtown schools in the age of ISIS Parents demand extra measures to secure students in wake Halloween truck attack near PS 89 BY COLIN MIXSON Parents of students at a Battery Park City elementary school who witnessed the deadliest terrorist attack in new York City since 9/11 are demanding the city tighten security around Lower Manhattan’s most valuable assets — their kids. “My seven-year-old saw the terrorist get out of his car. She described how he looked, and saw that he had guns,” said BPC resident Stacey LaCorte, mother of two students at PS 89. “I will do anything I have to do to make it safer for them.” About half a dozen parents of kids in grades K–5 at PS 89 turned out for a meeting of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee on Jan. 16, seeking guidance and support from the local civic honchos in their crusade for safer schools. The PS 89 delegates represented 120 other parents of the Warren Street academy who have banded together in the wake of the deadly terror attack, which they claim exposed serious flaws in the school system’s security, according to the group’s de facto leader. “When the guy was out there with his fake guns, we had 400 kids and caregivers in the yard,” said Ellora DeCarlo. “They had trouble getting in the building for refuge, they had trouble getting through the gates. What we saw on Halloween is that we’re not prepared.” The fact that ISIS used images of the West Street truck attack that killed eight people as propaganda

An ISIS propaganda poster featuring images from last year’s Halloween terrorist attack has helped galvanize parents at PS 89 to demand the city enhance security at Downtown schools.

seeking to encourage similar Downtown attacks didn’t ease the parent’s concern, and emails of a Daily Mail article featuring a poster with the weaponized Home Depot truck was passed around by the group. At the meeting, parents expressed concern about communication and coordination in the event of terrorist attacks or shooting sprees, and worried that school safety officers responsible for guarding kids

may not be up to the task. “They don’t have an authoritative presence,” said DeCarlo. “They’re not a deterrent to anyone that wants to come in and do harm.” They suggested several security solutions, including an increased police presence, bulletproof windows and doors, bollards surrounding entrances to deter vehicular attacks, and panic buttons by which guards could immediately notify police and school administrators in the event of an attack. They also pointed to Downtown’s many courts and government buildings, which are brimming with security, as examples of what could be done if officials placed a higher priority on school safety. “It’s infuriating,” said LaCorte. “It’s like, what about the kids? They’re vulnerable.” And while parents were eager to explore myriad and sometimes extreme security measures — including cameras outside of bathrooms and armed guards in the hallways — community board members worked to manage expectations. Tricia Joyce, chairwoman of CB1’s Youth and Education Committee, cautioned that city schools are subject to regulations that both board members and parents often aren’t aware, and warned against requesting expensive, complex security apparatus without consulting school principals. SCHOOLS Continued on page 6

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PETAIN STAIN WILL REMAIN Mayor opts to keep markers of parades for Nazi collaborators BY COLIN MIXSON Mayor de Blasio will preserve plaques commemorating parades honoring French Nazi collaborators currently displayed in Downtown’s “Canyon of Heroes,” despite tweeting last year that the markers would be among “the first to go” amid his inquisition of public art. De Blasio explained the about-face as a misstep perpetrated by an erstwhile staffer, who is being blamed for putting tweets into Hizzoner’s mouth, the mayor said on the Brian Lehrer show. “That tweet was one of the rare instances where staff putting my words

into a public statement didn’t do it accurately,” said the mayor. “What was supposed to [be said was] it would be one of the first things that we address.” The sidewalk plaques in question bear the monikers of two Parisian officials, Phillipe Pétain and Pierre Laval, who were both honored with ticker-tape parades down Broadway in 1931, but went on to become notorious Nazi collaborators during WWII, running the rump state of Vichy France on Hitler’s behalf. Pétain and Laval collaborated in the murder of more than 100,000 Jewish men, women, and children in France,

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The sidewalk plaques commemorating parades down the Canyon of Heroes in 1931 for later Nazi collaborators Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval — which fl ank Broadway just north of Morris Street — have survived the mayor’s review of hate-tainted monuments.

helping Nazi death squads to round up and exterminate their own countrymen in an effort to maintain the French puppet state’s cozy friendship with Berlin. The mayor’s 2017 tweet condemning the plaques followed riots in Charlottesville, VA, where neo-Nazis clashed with anti-fascist protestors over the removal of a statue honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee, leaving one girl dead. In the aftermath, our progressive mayor launched a review of controversial works of public art throughout the five boroughs, citing the Nazi collaborators’ Downtown plaques in the tweet announcing the inquisition. The markers’ removal was championed by Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who last year applauded the mayor’s tweet, and insisted that even France forbids any monument honoring of the two reviled fascists. “Responsible for the murder of 100,000 men, women and children, Pétain and Laval are reviled in their native France, where no one would think to erect a monument to any Nazi collaborator,” Hikind said. But the mayor, along with honchos at the Downtown Alliance — which commissioned the plaques, along with 162 others, to memorialize each parade down the Canyon of Heroes — argued that the markers aren’t monuments to men and women, but commemorations of the city’s iconic ticker-tape parades that have traditionally cut through Broadway amid a shower of Wall Street

paper clippings from the Battery to City Hall. The mayor’s plan, in lieu of prying up the sidewalk plaques, is to add context to the Parisian pariahs’ place in city lore through new materials including signs along the parade route, and online resources. Key to that is the city’s partnership with the Downtown Alliance and the Museum of the City of New York, which will collaborate to create a new “digital teaching guide” with the goal of telling the full stories of the various ticker-tape honorees — warts and all, according to a spokeswoman for the Alliance. “These materials should tell a fuller story of all the markers,” said Elizabeth Lutz, “those who may have been honored at one point, but now are rightly viewed as villainous, or those whose life stories reveal compromises and contradictions that make for complicated history.” Hikind, meanwhile, remains unimpressed by the mayor’s efforts to provide context to the lives of Hitler’s pals, and said that — when it comes to Nazi history — eradication is the better part of education. “We have a moral obligation to educate the public, and especially young people, by removing markers that commemorate individuals who willingly participated in the systematic murder of innocent men, women and children,” Hikind said. “Does anyone disagree with this? I don’t think so.” DowntownExpress.com


Shelly do-over U.S. Supreme Court clears way for Silver retrial ing directing state research funds to BY COLIN MIXSON The nation’s highest court has a mesothelioma doctor in exchange scuttled disgraced pol Sheldon for referring patients to his legal Silver’s bid to dodge a second jury firm, and referring real-estate firms with business before the trial on corruption Assembly to another law charges stemming from office for a fee. his alleged $4 million But Shelly’s forquid-pro-quo scheme. tunes turned after an The former Assembly appeals court ruled that Speaker had hoped that his prosecutors had the US Supreme Court not properly instructed would abet his legal jurors on the defi nition scheme to avoid a secof an “official act,” folond trial after a lower Associated Press / Seth Wenig court upheld his appeal The U.S. Supreme lowing a US Supreme on a technicality, but Court has refused to Court verdict narrowthe lofty legal body gave block the retrial of ing the defi nition of the Sheldon Silver, whose term after overturnnotice Jan. 16 that they corruption conviction wouldn’t hear Silver’s was overturned last ing a similar conviction in the case of forcase. year on a technicality. mer Virginia Governor The 73-year-old Robert McDonnell. Silver, who once repreThat appeals court did not, howsented Lower Manhattan as one of the three most powerful politicians in ever, rule that state prosecutors lacked New York State — the so-called “three sufficient evidence to bag a guilty vermen in a room” — was convicted in dict, ultimately leaving Shelly open to 2015 on corruption charges stem- retrial, which has been tentatively set ming from various schemes, includ- to April 16.

ROAD RAGE Cops arrested a man for allegedly deliberately ramming his car into a cyclist on Cortlandt Street on Jan. 19. The victim told police the suspect slammed into him near Broadway at 3 pm, before allegedly leaping from his car and throttling his neck. Police busted the suspect that day, charging him with assault, cops said.

APPLE PICKING A thief swiped a phone from a woman’s hand on North Moore Street on Jan. 19. The victim told police the suspect approached her asking for the time as she exited a cab between Greenwich and Hudson streets at 9:38 pm, when he suddenly snatched her pricey iPhone 7, and fled, cops said.

QUICK PICK A pick purse snatched a woman’s wallet inside the Bowling Green subway station on Jan. 18. The victim told police that a young woman seemed to intentionally shoulder past her as she was heading up an esca-

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PANTS PERPS Two shoplifters waltzed out of a Broadway chain store with 15 pairs of ill-gotten pants on Jan. 18. An employee told police they grabbed more than $1,000 worth of jeans from the retailer between Maiden Lane and Liberty streets at 6:15 pm before fleeing.

SNATCH BACK A thief nabbed a phone from a woman’s hand on Prince Street on Jan. 12, but the gal proved she was no chump, and managed to reclaim her cell. The victim told police she was near Mercer Street at 7 pm, when the goon grabbed her iPhone 8 and made a run for it. But no sooner had the crook snatched her smartphone than the woman snatched it back, and the wouldbe thief ended up fleeing empty handed, cops said. — Colin Mixson

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Court defeat for tenants

What Does Black History Month Mean To Me? by Maurice W. Dorsey, Ph.D.

When I think of African American History Month I think of the generations of Black People who have preceded me, some who struggled to live through the torture and suffering of slavery before the birth of my grandparents and parents long before my birth. My grandparents were poor and did not graduate high school. They only knew and staunchly believed in their Christian faith and used it each day to get through profound racism, low wages, dilapidated segregated housing, education inequality and verbal abuse to their face and behind their backs. I think of my parents who finished high school, raised and educated their children through college. They built their first home at age 40. It was a struggle and huge sacrifices that were made to achieve middle class standards. I reflect on myself now age 70, my birth certificate reads that my race was colored, then I later was designated Negro, later I was Black, later still I was referred to as Afro-American and now I am called African American, with each decade my identity, as well as, all others in this situation changed. I attended a segregated public school for 10 years that was substandard to its white counterpart. I graduated the only Black person in my high school class of 460. In 1964 I was required to seat in the back of the school bus, I was called “nigger” by the white students and “boy” by the white school principal who did not think a Black student should graduate with an academic diploma, but I did. I recognize the immense progress African Americans have made in science, education, politics, athletics, entertainment and the arts---and the previous White House. Their achievements along with the help of benevolent whites have advanced and further the quality of life for African Americans. This portfolio of achievements makes me feel grateful and proud. Since the 1960’s I live abundantly, I have earned three graduate degrees, earned a six figure salary and I live in a downtown neighborhood near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where it is a desire to turn the clock back on Black History. When I think of Black History in 2018 I think back to the struggles of my grandparents, parents and myself who in the 1960’s integrated a white school 10 years after the Brown vs The Board of Education decision because the Department of Education in the county that I attended school refused to implement the federal law, and got away with it for 10 years! The harsh policies, lies, verbal assaults and abuse that come from the White House, formulated in Congress not only affect African Americans but people around the world. Moving from a personal story to a worldwide story, the struggles of the African American is the same struggle for women, the LGBTQ community, the physically challenged, veterans, children, the economically deprived and all others. Our struggle is everybody’s struggle. What is most disturbing to me is to see African Americans who have a national and sometimes global platform who could challenge white nationalism but have chosen to remain mute. History will show when all is said and done however they are still Black and will have the same Black experience as all others. Black History in 2018 is not a time to celebrate it is a time to recognize how far we have come, our strengths and achievements. Moreover we need to recognize and galvanize to perform the work that is in front of us that remains to get done. We need to ensure the accomplishments of our ancestors is not reversed and the clock is not turned back. The struggle is not over. Maurice W. Dorsey is author of Businessman First, Remembering Henry G. Parks, Jr. 1916-1989 Capturing the Life of a Businessman Who Was African American A Biography, a QBR Wheatley Book Award Finalist, 2015. He is also author of From Whence We Come, the story of an African American gay who must come to terms with his mother who tells him throughout his life she never wanted to have him. Both books are available at Xlibris.com and Amazon.com. You can contact Maurice at www.mauricewdorseybooks.com He resides in Washington, DC.

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Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

BY COLIN MIXSON New York State’s Appellate Division reversed a Supreme Court ruling that granted residents of 50 Murray St. in Lower Manhattan rent stabilization under a state program that provides landlords millions in tax exemptions. The decision comes as a huge win for landlords, but could result in the state’s highest court issuing a final ruling on the contentious legal issue that has split the lower courts, according to the tenants’ attorney. “It needs a higher court decision to give clarity, certainty, and finality,” said Serge Joseph, who has represented tenants at 50 Murray St., and numerous other Downtown apartment buildings. State legislators cooked up the 421-g program back in 1995, which promised developers millions worth of tax exemptions in exchange for revitalizing a then stagnant Lower Manhattan with the construction of new residential buildings — where tenants would be entitled to rent stabilization, which places a low cap on annual rent hikes. Rent stabilization is typically governed by luxury deregulation rules, which see benefits for tenants evaporate once their rent hits a certain threshold — currently about $2,700. But tenants argue that language in the 421-g law is clear in exempting Downtown residents of 421-g buildings — whose tony Fidi and Tribeca rentals seldom fall below the luxury cap — from deregulation, and renters from buildings including 90 West St. and 89 John St., in addition to 50 Murray St., have filed civil suits claiming their landlords’ illegally increased rates while raking in huge tax bonuses. So far, the state’s Supreme Court has been split on the issue. Tenants at 50 Murray St. and 90 West St. have both scored Supreme Court victories, but those wins were undermined last May by Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler, who ruled for

SCHOOLS Continued from page 2

“I don’t like to get too specific, because sometimes there are parameters that we’re not aware of,” said Joyce. Instead Joyce and her fellow committee members approved a draft resolution advocating for security enhancements they considered sensible — and easily implemented. “The logical progression is to begin with a panic button and locked front

Image via Google Streetview

Tenants at 50 Murray St. were dealt a blow by Appellate Division judges, who overturned a lower court ruling in their favor.

the landlord of 89 John St., citing a letter sent to the state Senate when it was debating the 421-g bill by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who wrote that the buildings would be subject to luxury deregulation — though that language is nowhere in the law. Joseph said he’s confident the case will find its way to the Court of Appeals, the state’s last stop for legal quandaries, claiming the issue’s wide-ranging impact, coupled with it’s muddled legal history in the lower courts make it ripe for a definitive judgment. But the Court of Appeals rarely hears cases that don’t feature split decisions between two different Appellate Division courts, which — in the case of 421-g — could never happen because of the geographically narrow reach of the law, which only applies to Lower Manhattan, according to lawyer Louise Barracks, who represented the Real Estate Board of New York, also a party to the 50 Murray St. case. If that’s the case, and the Court of Appeals declined to take up the case, the Appellate Division’s unanimous decision favoring landlords is the whole ball game, and the end of tenants’ hopes of lower rents and reparations, according to Barracks. “Unless this goes up to the Court of Appeals, this is the law of the land in New York,” she said. “The highest court will have opined on it, and there’s no one else who can decide to the contrary.”

door,” said Joyce. “It’s inexpensive and feasible.” Joyce said the committee isn’t married to its suggestions, and is willing to listen to the Department of Education if the agency comes back with alternatives, but the committee chair agreed with parents that immediate changes are required in light of recent threats. “What we do know, and that we’re absolutely sure about, is an action has to be taken immediately,” Joyce said. DowntownExpress.com


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E D ITO R IAL

Teens behaving — very — badly PUBLISHER

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Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

BY LENORE SKENAZY Dina Temple-Raston had a strange job. After any terrorist attack anywhere in the world, she’d fly out. She was National Public Radio’s terrorism gal. But after 10 years, she says, “It got a little wearing.” I’ll bet. On each assignment, she’d meet alleged terrorists, or convicted terrorists and try to get their story. But she found herself wondering: How did they get this way? How do you go from regular Joe to someone convinced that it’s a great idea to fly a plane into a skyscraper? In particular, she couldn’t get over how young many of the recruits were. Al Qaeda seemed to attract men in their 20s and 30s. But ISIS was attracting teenagers. The terrorists’ moms she spoke to were often in tears saying, “This is not the kind of thing we teach at home! Why would he do this?” Temple-Raston decided to find out. Off she went to interview the young people themselves — teens who’d made disastrously terrible decisions — as well as a gaggle of brain scientists. The result is her six-episode Audible podcast series, “What Were You Thinking? Inside the Adolescent Brain.” It turns out the adolescent brain is sort of hardwired to make some decisions many parents (not to mention cops and judges) find mind-boggling. And in a strange way, that’s reassuring. Take, for instance, a young man named Ryan Green, in Paducah, Kentucky. “You meet Ryan and it’s hard not to like him,” says Temple-Raston. But he’s a guy who hacked into 77,000 computers. Did he do it to screw the world? It seems like he was more concerned

Posted To BOARD GAMES: GUV SIGNS BILL REQUIRING RESIDENTS ON BPCA BOARD (DEC. 28) Why is it that “even after their terms expire, BPCA board members are not obliged to step down — and nor is the governor required to replace them. They continue to sit on the board until either they resign, die, or the governor appoints a successor.” What rule or law governs this situation? Logic would say that when a

about being considered an “elite” hacker and earning street cred — something a whole lot of adolescents crave, and strive for on the basketball court, or even the debate team. Peer respect activates the “feel-good chemical” in the brain — dopamine — that seems to push young people to take risks and work insanely hard at something (even when that “something” is not something you would put on your college applications). On her show, Temple-Raston doesn’t just describe what the brain scientists are discovering about how kids are wired. She also travels to places working on innovative solutions to the problems — whether that’s teen radicalization, suicide, or murderous rage. In the case of teen hackers, she went to Israel. There, the government actively scouts for computer talent at a very young age and nurtures those kids so they can eventually work for the good of the country, rather than against it. Maybe America needs to do the same. Temple-Raston also interviewed Abdullahi Yusuf, a Minnesota highschool football player who was just about to board a plane to join ISIS when the authorities stopped him. Turns out it’s quite possible that this was not a young man drawn to cruelty: He had read about women and children suffering atrocities in Syria and wanted to help them. ISIS was doing just that — he thought. (This was before they started beheading people). In adolescence, the empathy part of the brain is basically “throbbing,” says Temple-Raston. So when your teenager

board member’s six year term is over, that person MUST be either replaced or reinstated. And with this new legislation, shouldn’t a new local resident be appointed before a reinstatement is permitted? Until now, leaving expired members on the BPCA Board didn’t matter, but now it does and should be different. Maryanne P. Braverman

OP-ED: REFLECTING ON THE OCULUS (JAN. 5) Distance is so very important to see-

is in tears because you’re eating a burger and meat is murder, you shouldn’t be that surprised. As we age, we become comfortable with the imperfect world and the empathy subsides. But during those formative years, a cause — any cause — can become a young person’s world. In possibly the saddest episode, Temple-Raston interviews the parents of teens who have committed suicide. Columbia Journalism School taught her never to cover a teen suicide because doing so could incite copycats. But with social media, it is no longer possible to keep a teen’s death quiet. And now towns like Colorado Springs have suffered “suicide contagion,” with up to 16 such tragedies a year. What can be done? In England, there’s an app teens can tap when they’re at their lowest. “So if you are feeling sad, they have a bunch of kids who have felt the same way who’ll get on line and talk to you.” The teens learn they’re not alone. (By the way, here in New York, the Samaritans Suicide Prevention Center hotline, (212) 673–3000, provides free, confidential support 24 hours a day). Of course, most teens will never shoot anyone or join a jihad. But it’s likely they’ll be a little high-strung and passionate about a cause you might not share. Bottom line: It’s not your parenting causing this rift, it’s their brains. And sooner or later, they’ll be back to normal. It just might not feel soon enough. Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, founder of Free-Range Kids. and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?” For the podcast, visit: the1a.org/ shows/2018-01-11/a-new-show-goesinside-teenagers-brains

ing and feeling the beauty of the Oculus. The viewer needs to be able to stand back and take it all in for its artistry to reveal itself and to affect us. Every time we allow a building to go up near it, we kill its beauty a lil’ bit more. Once buildings are crowded all around it, it will become just another dirty obstruction, taking up space on a tiny island. Eventually, the next generation will have it torn down. Less is more, if perpetuity is something that matters to you. guest DowntownExpress.com


Donzo’s Proto SOTU Peek at his pending State of the Union points BY MAX BURBANK On January 30, Donald J. Trump will deliver his fi rst State of the Union address — unless he doesn’t. He’s not legally required to, and it’s not like he gets what laws are, right? He loves not doing things other president have done; no Kennedy Center Honors, no White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Perhaps a little night golfi ng might be more enticing? Honestly, if someone told him night golfers get to wear cool-ass little headlamps, he’d bail on the SOTU like chubby, elderly lightning. There’s no such thing as night golf, right? I made that up. I hope. I’m never sure of anything anymore. Assuming he’s doing it, I’m as curious as I imagine you are. But unlike all you poor, regular folk — as I revealed in my unpublished White House tellall, “Tantrums and Tyranny” — I have figured out the secret of “access.” No one in Trump’s inner circle could fi nd their ass with a map, a flashlight, and a Sherpa guide. So I rung up White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and said “Hopey, on the off chance Donzo has started working on his SOTU speech, send me his notes.” And Hope was all like, “Who authorized this?” I told her, “You know, that guy? The weird-shaped-head-guy with the voice like when you force open a weasel’s jaws and scrape their front teeth down a blackboard? The really pale one with the face you always want to punch?” And she’s afraid to admit that could be any one of the eight people she answers to, so hey presto, I got the notes. I won’t bore you with the whole thing. It’s just a first draft, and a lot of it is in crayon and partially obscured by cheeseburger grease stains. I’ll give you some highlights, though, and you’ll get the gist.

OPENING NOTES (Enter backlit by purple neon through a smoke machine fog bank. No, I rise up out of the floor on a hydraulic platform through red smoke and lasers. Bannon would love. No. Bannon gone. Bannon betrayed. Maybe enter Mileystyle on wrecking ball? Rip through paper circle? So pep rally! I was the best at gym.) DowntownExpress.com

INTRO “Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, strategically chosen provocative guests (smile, thumbs up, finger guns at Mooch, Sheriff Clarke, Joe Arpaio), my fellow Americans, you know who you are, some of you are very fine people… Losers, haters, the failing media, sons of bitches, disloyal former employees I never met who don’t know

government because they want to let billions of criminals swarm across the border and murder our children in their sleep. Is the government open again now? I don’t know. I’m in the past writing this first draft. And honestly, I don’t care. The government. So wasteful. It’s like the State Department, but bigger. So much bigger. We don’t need it. All we need is me. Okay? Okay. Okay?

both know what I meant” or “I’ll leave that up to you.” The whole act seems pretty transparent, but tomorrow the mainstream press will all gush about how presidential I was, in that I spoke in whole sentences without slurring my words, making some kind veiled reference to my penis, or saying something awful about black people again. No matter how many times I play this trick, they’ll always hope against hope that I’m finally going to “pivot,” that I’ll finally grow into the presidency. They do it every time, and they’re doing it again right now. Believe me. Believe me.

THE END PART

Illustration by Max Burbank

me, who were errand runners and coffee boys, strangers with misleading job titles. So misleading… so disloyal. I came here directly from beautiful Mara-Lago, so beautiful. Cutting short a fiveday working weekend of such important meetings in meeting rooms, Mar-a-Lago has the best meeting rooms. No golf. But if I had played golf, and even the Democrats admit I never golf, this I will tell you, a hole in one. Eighteen holes in one. First drive, hole in one, bounced out of the cup, landed in the second hole, et cetera to eighteen. Never before in history. Never before. The lying media will not tell you that. Okay. On the anniversary of my inauguration, the Democrats shut down my

THE MIDDLE PART This is the middle part, where I read straight from the teleprompter for a long time without deviating from the script as written. It shows I am a normal, mentally competent person, and allows me to use words like “deviate” — a word that, like many other words, I do not know the meaning of. It also allows me to demonstrate that despite claims to the contrary, I can read. I can see letters on a page and decode them correctly into sounds that come out of my mouth. When I read aloud, I have no understanding of the content of the words at all. If you asked me what I just said, just now, I would say, “I think we

(Eugh, the catchphrase part. Everybody says I have to do this. I hate it. I hate everybody. It’s not even a good catchphrase, like “lock her up” or “you’re fired” or “shithole countries.” It’s not my catch phrase. I have to make it mine. Rebrand it.) “Ladies and gentlemen, the state… of my union… is fine. It’s very fine, the best since Truman is what a lot of people are saying. The state of our union is… No one understands Trump, no one appreciates Trump and no one… not one of you… deserves Trump. Even the ones who pretend to like me. I am looking at you, Lindsey Graham. Right. At. YOU! So unfair. So unfair. Well, you’re grounded, America. I want you all to go to your rooms right now and think about how you treated me. And maybe if when we all wake up tomorrow the Russian witch hunt is gone and everybody stops yip-yip-yip-yip-yipping about a few lousy PORN STARS and we can all agree that Trump is the least racist person ever born on earth in all of human history, then maybe… maybe we can pretend everything is okay between us. It’s like I promised you during the campaign: I alone can save you. From ME! After all, it’s not like the Republican congress is ever going to! G’night everybody! (Balloon drop. Or fireworks? Defi nitely smoke and lasers. Exit music: “Eye of the Tiger.” No, “Final Countdown.” No, that Lee Greenwood “Proud to be an American” thing. Rubes eat that patriotic crap like it’s pancakes.) Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

9


BP Brewer’s second term Borough Prez touts residents’ input on land use, updating City Charter BY PAUL SCHINDLER In 1989, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that New York City’s powerful Board of Estimate, which gave each borough equal say despite enormous population disparities, violated the Constitution’s one person-one vote principle, voters approved the most sweeping Charter revision since the city became unified in 1898. Now, Borough President Gale Brewer — joined by Public Advocate Letitia James — is calling on the City Council to convene a new Charter revision commission to bring the city into the 21st century. In an interview this week, she said and her staff emphasized that the goal is a “top to bottom” review of the “entire” Charter.

Brewer and James, writing last month in the Daily News, mentioned greater community input into land use and zoning, a more meaningful City Council role on budgeting, and streamlining bureaucracies as their priorities from a Charter revision commission. Their legislation, however, merely mandates the process, the results of which would then be subject to voter approval, Brewer’s Charter commission proposal was one of numerous issues — including land use, small-business survival, food deserts, congestion pricing, and government transparency and accessibility — that she addressed in a 75-minute sit-down with the editors of Chelsea Now, Downtown Express,

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Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

Photo by Donna Aceto

Gale Brewer taking the oath of offi ce for her second term as Borough President on Dec. 27, joined by her son Mo Sumbundu and husband Cal Snyder.

Manhattan Express, The Villager, and Gay City News. Brewer talked about two notable land-use milestones she’s achieved in her four years as borough president and her tenure on the City Council prior to that. On the Council, she won approval for novel Department of City Planning zoning regulations that limit street frontage that can be taken up by banks and large retail outlets, many of them chains, that threaten the small businesses that once dominated her Upper West Side district. The regulations exempted supermarkets — “We want supermarkets,” she emphasized — as part of an effort to maintain the full range of services once the norm in New York neighborhoods. Another significant land use victory Brewer pointed to is her stewardship, along with former Councilmember Dan Garodnick, of the recently completed East Midtown rezoning, which will allow for high-density development of modern office space in the area north of 42nd Street from Fifth Avenue east to Third Avenue while providing funding both for landmarked buildings selling their unused development rights and for public amenities including open space and transportation improvements. Garodnick, she said, having rejected the original rezoning plan for East Midtown late in the Bloomberg years, was a key ally in crafting a solution broadly acceptable to stakeholders. Brewer and Garodnick oversaw biweekly meetings over many months

at the borough president’s office that included representatives from the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry trade group, major landmarked buildings, the area’s Business Improvement Districts, and the local community boards. Key to the process were neutral facilitators, urban-planning professionals paid for by the city, she explained. “That’s what we call pre-planning,” Brewer said. “Then the clock began to tick from the beginning of the process, so it was less contentious.” This pre-ULURP planning, as she terms it, referring to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure that projects at odds with existing zoning must go through before getting a vote from the City Council, ensures greater community input prior to the finalization of a plan that might then move rapidly down the ULURP track. Similar pre-ULURP planning, she said, is underway in the contentious debate over a Midtown Garment district rezoning plan that under the city’s Economic Development Corporation’s initial blueprint would have migrated much of the industry to Brooklyn over the objections of many longtime Manhattan garment-trade players. The city, she explained, has also committed to employing this approach in planning land-use policies for NoHo and SoHo, where the borough president — concerned about the rise of big box stores — said, “we want more artists, BREWER Continued on page 23

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PERSISTENT RESISTANCE

Women’s March still going strong one year on BY EILEEN STUK ANE The pink “pussyhats” showed up on thousands of heads again as the second Women’s March on New York City brought an estimated 200,000 people onto Central Park West from W. 61st Street to W. 80th Street and beyond. “I love the fact that I cannot see the end of this,” said Whoopi Goldberg, speaking from the platform stage at W. 61st Street. Last year’s Women’s March, originally planned for Washington DC, inspired same-day Women’s Marches across the globe, an organic uprising of millions who were stunned by the 2016 election that made Donald J. Trump America’s president. (Worldwide this year, 280 Women’s Marches filled the streets simultaneously.) The mood of that first March was reactionary — an outlet was needed to oppose the misogyny that threatened women’s reproductive rights, and equal rights in general. Resistance was needed to protect freedom of the press, an expected assault on the environment, and a feared crackdown on minority populations and immigrants. This time was different. Reaction has become action, and a movement is under way. This 2018 Women’s March was a call to vote, to run for office, to

speak out, and never be silenced. “The core principles have remained the same,” said Sarah Steinhardt, press officer for Women’s March Alliance (WMA), organizer of the Jan. 20 NYC Women’s March. “We march for women’s rights and gender equality, to empower women to use their voices, and to give them the tools and the knowledge and the information to do so.” However, in addition to those core principles, this year’s March promoted voter registration, with a clear message to vote. “Our goal is to register one million women to vote by the November election,” Steinhardt explained, “We feel very strongly that women should know how to exercise their rights and the most basic example of that is voting.” On that initiative WMA is working with voter registration groups such as voter.org, Rock The Vote, and Voto Latino. While the marchers would hear that call to vote from speakers who rallied the assembled thousands on this goodfor-marching 50-degree Saturday, they would mostly be moved by the stories of those who were not household names. There were familiar faces who inspired, Rosie Perez, Whoopi Goldberg, Yoko Ono, and New York Attorney General

Photo by Milo Hess

(Above) Huge crowds of women, men, and kids took to the streets of Manhattan on Jan. 20 to mark the start of another year of outrage against the Trump Administration. (Right) Victories against the multiple GOP attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year proved that resistance is not useless.

Eric Schneiderman — but the day belonged to those women who were committing themselves to change the culture behind the headlines. From the stage, newly-elected New Jersey Freeholder Ashley Bennett, a psychiatric emergency screener attending grad school, shared the story of how she had seen New Jersey Freeholder John Carman post a meme during last year’s Women’s March that read: “Will the women’s protest end in time for them to cook dinner?” Bennett was offended, and although she had never been in politics she was inspired by the 2017 Women’s March to run for Carman’s seat. “When I announced my candidacy many people wrote me off because I’m just an ordinary woman,” Bennett recalled. “I wake up early, I go to work every day, I have student loans, and I

have to check my bank account before I do just about anything — but I had to remind myself that when ordinary people stand up for what they believe, when they come together around a common purpose and a true desire to lift up everyone in the community, extraordinary things happen.” Bennett admitted that she was initially afraid and said, “If you feel the call and you’re afraid, just do it afraid. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be willing.” Repeated by several speakers was the reminder that this emerging movement is not about vengeance. Succinctly put by Bennett: “It’s about time, time for women to stand together, not just once a year but every day.” Sulma Arzu-Brown introduced WOMEN’S MARCH Continued on page 16

Haitians march against Trump slur

Photo by Jason Speakman

Fernande Philippi chants against President Trump at Jan. 19 rally in response to Trump’s comments about Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations.

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BY ALEX ANDRA SIMON They stepped in (to protest his) s---. The city’s Haitians and their supporters railed against the president during a Brooklyn-to-Manhattan protest march on Friday, a week after Trump allegedly called Haiti a “shithole country,” and hours before he rang in the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. More than 100 activists rallied at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza before striding to Wall Street’s Trump Building in the demonstration, which called out Trump’s ineptitude and inability to lead the country, according to a marcher.

“He doesn’t know anything. What he said is disrespectful, and he doesn’t know the history of Haiti or the Caribbean,” said East Flatbush resident Manoushka Elien. “He needs to get some books and learn.” Elien, who said she was born in Haiti but has lived stateside for more than two decades, took the day off from work to march because she wanted to show her children that they should be proud of their heritage, she said. “It was important for me to march for my kids. They were born here but they tell people they are Haitian, and

I want them to be proud of that,” she said. Protestors processed down Flatbush Avenue pounding on drums, chanting on megaphones, and waving signs during their journey across the Brooklyn Bridge to the Trump-owned building. And other marchers blasted the president — who last month allegedly claimed all Haitians have AIDS — for what they said is his uninformed stance on immigration, suggesting the HAITI Continued on page 16

Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

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WOMEN’S MARCH Continued from page 15

herself as a Garifuna woman from Honduras, but she wears multiple hats as director of operations for the NYC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, coowner of Boogie Down Grind Café in the Bronx, and author of the children’s book, “Bad Hair Does Not Exist.” On the stage with her mother and two young daughters, Arzu-Brown spoke emotionally of the sacrifice her mother made by leaving her and her brother behind in Honduras to come to the USA. In her native country, her mother was told she would not be promoted in her job because she was Black, Latina, Garifuna, and a woman. “I stand on the shoulders of my mother,” she said. Often, women on stage spoke of helping younger women, mentoring them, supporting them whenever possible. “We are creating a path for our children that lets them know that we are not just people of color, that we are people of beautiful color, that we belong to the human race and we come from beautiful places that we cultivated with our bare hands.” Through her books, she is striving to spread knowledge of her community and how “we share very similar experiences as human beings and as women, experiences that include love and compassion and heart.” After the march, although Arzu-Brown herself was inspiring, she felt inspired: “The crowd gave me warm eyes and attentive ears and open hearts to hear my story, to take ownership of everything God has given me. I got so much comfort from the women. They gave me courage.” Although the #MeToo Movement was not mentioned by name, the ability to speak out about the pain of sexual harassment and abuse presented itself. From her wheelchair, Nadina LaSpina, an activist for people with disabilities, told the marchers that the disabled are not spared from sexual assault by medical professionals, and also by those in academia. “I was made to feel that I should be grateful because I was not

HAITI Continued from page 15

Commander in Chief take a crash course on American–Haitian history. “I would like to tell him how Haitians helped during the American Revolution. Our soldiers fought hard, and if Trump doesn’t remember, then he’s a hypocrite,” said Marie Myrtle, who trekked from Pennsylvania with her family to participate.

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Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

Photo by Christian Miles

The second Women’s March follows a year of growing momentum for women’s rights and empowerment.

as good as a non-disabled woman,” she said. She also reminded that in the struggle for equal pay, disabled individuals earn 37 percent less overall than the able-bodied. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had noted that achieving equal pay for equal work was fighting the existing “Seventy-five cents on the dollar if you’re a white woman, 63 cents if you’re an African-American woman, 54 cents if you’re a Latina.” The moment when a hush fell over the crowd was when the singer Halsey approached the microphone to share her poem, “A Story Like Mine,” her memory of being sexually assaulted as a child, sitting with her best friend in the waiting room of Planned Parenthood

Myrtle criticized Trump as being deliberately oblivious to the history of immigrants in the United States, and said she isn’t holding out hope that he’ll wise up any time soon. “He pretends he doesn’t know, but if he read history he’d know how Haitians and immigrants built this country,” she said. “But I don’t think he’s going to change, and he’s never going to apologize.”

after her friend had been raped, being forced to have sex with a “boyfriend,” performing onstage after a miscarriage, realizing that her celebrity is not a protection from sexual abuse. “I believe I’m protected ‘cause I live on a screen / Nobody would dare act that way around me / I’ve earned my protection, eternally clean / Until a man that I trust gets his hands in my pants /… And every friend that I know has a story like mine.” The spoken words touched the generations, from three-year-old Adelaide Carter from Brooklyn, participating in her second Women’s March, this time walking with no need of her stroller, to 89-year-old Upper West Sider Mary Vanschaick, in a Women’s March for the first time with the help of her wheelchair. With Yoko Ono looking on, the singer MILCK performed “Quiet,” a song with the refrain, “Let it out, Let it out now.” Barricades removed, women, men, and children, united, surged forward through the streets. An electric energy spread from person to person, especially when the marchers passed Trump International Hotel & Tower, and then Trump Parc, shouting chants: “Not a creepy tweeter, we want a leader,” “Love, not hate, that’s what makes America great,” “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” and the

repurposed, “Lock him up!” The determined, hopeful spirit of the marchers was felt by Mayor Bill de Blasio who held hands with his wife, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, as they marched in the thick of the crowd, and easily spoke with other marchers. “I’m very proud of New York City today with over 100,000 already out to fight for the rights of women and build a movement that started last year. It’s going to grow from this point on,” said the mayor. NYC First Lady McCray, when asked what she thought of her New York sisters on the march, responded, “I love them! They’re out here with so much energy and enthusiasm. I think there are more people out here than last year. I marched last year too. This shows much of what we really believe in. You see the signs out here, the values that they’re representing; this is the direction we have to move in. We’re laying the foundation with this march for the elections coming up. I think we’re going to see so many more women in office, so many more, leadership from women like we’ve never seen before. It’s a great thing!” Many of the signs, such as Chelsea artist Mary Frank’s poster painting “Don’t Tear Families Apart,” showed WOMEN’S MARCH Continued on page 23

DowntownExpress.com


The Flea Flies High in a New Home Tribeca anchor theater’s ‘Season of Womyn’ is underway BY TRAV S.D. Much change of an ostensibly positive sort has been taking place at major Off-Off Broadway institutions in recent months. As we have reported here, La MaMa is now beginning a major renovation project, and Performance Space New York (formerly PS122) has just reopened, with a new artistic director at the helm. Similar transformations have been taking place at The Flea Theater, which has gotten a new artistic director, moved from their longtime home on White St. to a new one at nearby 20 Thomas St., and announced a series of innovative artistic partnerships with smaller organizations. The Flea was founded in 1996 by Jim Simpson and actress Sigourney Weaver (his wife), along with playwright Mac Wellman and lighting and stage technology professional Kyle Chepulis. It was originally intended to be a “five year experiment,” but in 2001 the company had a major hit with Anne Nelson’s “The Guys,” The Flea’s response to the September 11 destruction of the World Trade Center, which occurred only four blocks away from their theater. The Flea then made a long-term commitment to serving the Downtown community. Over the years, they have commissioned dozens of timely works by the likes of Christopher Durang, Elizabeth Swados, José Rivera, Qui Nguyen, Adam Rapp, and Thomas Bradshaw, and presented 10 world premiere productions by A.R. Gurney. They are also known for The Bats — their resident acting company, selected from thousands of applicants annually. After nearly two decades of leading the organization, in 2015 Simpson stepped down as artistic director, handing the reigns to Niegel Smith, a director and performance artist with a track record at such venues as The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, PS122, and Abrons Arts Center. “Off-Off Broadway needs to keep reinventing itself,” said Carol Ostrow, who has been the Flea’s producing director since 2001. “Jim and Sigourney are in a different place now. Their daughter is all grown up. They decided it was time to do something new. They DowntownExpress.com

Photo by Elizabeth Felicella

A series of innovative partnerships and three theaters named for greats distinguish The Flea’s new Thomas St. facility.

are based out of LA now, although they are still on our board, and still very much involved with the company. Niegel was brought on prior to the move to the new space. He oversaw the final stages of the transition and planned the recent fall season and the one now.” After 15 years on White St., The Flea unveiled its new home at 20 Thomas St. (btw. Broadway & Church) in September 2017. The new facility has three separate theaters: The Sam, named after the theatrical agent Sam Cohn; The Pete, named to honor

the late playwright A.R. Gurney, who passed away last June; and The Siggy, named for Sigourney Weaver. The theaters have flexible seating, but are normally configured to under 99 seats. “[The new location] is the same, but better!” Ostrow gushed. “It’s very reminiscent of the old Flea, very much OffOff Broadway. Small, and with affordable tickets. It’s just a little bigger and nicer. The seats have been refurbished. But when you walk in, it totally takes you back to downstairs at the [old] Flea.”

To maximize the new space, The Flea has inaugurated a formal program of what they call Anchor Partnerships, season-long residencies by smaller companies with a track record of producing on The Flea’s small scale. The Flea’s current Anchor Partners include LAVA (which has been in residence at the Flea since 1999), New Georges, EPIC Players, ARTEK, and The Bang Group. Their current and upcoming programming couldn’t be more appropriFLEA continued on p. 18 Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

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FLEA continued from p. 17

ate for our times. Billed as “The Season of Womyn” (their spelling), it spotlights work largely by and about women. “It’s serendipity that we’re presenting this work now,” Ostrow noted. “We had been planning these shows for some time and noticed a common thread that went through the work and went ‘A-ha!’ But that’s what The Flea and Off-Off Broadway are supposed to do: respond quickly.” The Flea’s Season of Womyn kicks off with the premiere of Steph Del Rosso’s drama “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill,” in which a woman tries to fill the various physical holes she feels after a painful breakup. Resident director Marina McClure helms a cast comprising members of The Bats (now through Feb. 25). Upcoming productions in the Season of Womyn include “Locked up B*tches” (Feb. 21–April 28), a “hip-hop musical parody of a certain Netflix women’s prison drama” in which the characters are all dogs, written by Catya McMullen with music by Scott Klopfenstein, choreographed and directed by Michael Raine; and “ms. Estrada” (March 22-April 22) is a hip-hop version of “Lysistrata” written and performed by Q Brothers Collective, directed by Michelle Tattenbaum, and choreographed by Ana “Rokafella” Garcia. In addition, from Feb. 14 through March 4, Flea Anchor Partner New Georges (which has been producing work exclusively by women since 1992) will be presenting two sounddesign oriented plays in repertory: “Sound House,” inspired by the work of British composer Daphne Oram, written by Stephanie Fleischmann and directed by Debbie Saivetz; and “This is the Color Described by the Time” by Lily Whitsitt and Door 10, based on the writings of Gertrude Stein. Also on their calendar, a return of their late night series “Serials,” a children’s theater series called “Cereals,” and “Flea Fridays,” an immersive weekend cabaret. For more information, visit theflea.org.

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Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

Photo by Hunter Canning

L to R: Valeria A. Avina, Sarah Chalfie and Joseph Huffman in “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill” at The Flea through Feb. 25.

Photo by Charlie Madison

At the grand opening, L to R: Niegel Smith (Flea artistic director), NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Linda Schupack (Flea board president), and Carol Ostrow (Flea managing director).

Photo by Charlene Warner

EPIC Players, a resident company at the Flea, will follow up their 2017 production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” (seen here) with a neuro-inclusive adaptation of “The Tempest.” DowntownExpress.com


How The Grammys Got Their Garden Groove Back MOME’s Menin, on industries and initiatives BY WINNIE McCROY When Commissioner Julie Menin of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) saw an opportunity to reclaim a prestige event, she didn’t skip a beat — and now, just in time to celebrate their 60th anniversary, the Grammy Awards are back in the New York groove. Set to broadcast worldwide from the nation’s music capital on the night of Sun., Jan. 28, the Grammys bring with them more star power than any solo gig Madison Square Garden has ever seen, along with an estimated $200 million in attendant revenues. “In the first week that I was on the job, I went out to LA to meet with The [Recording] Academy, because we knew the contract with The Staples Center was up,” Menin recalled. “There was an opportunity for us to create a very compelling case for New York, because the Grammys had not been here for 15 years… So we were very focused on what we could do to bring them back to the city. It was a golden opportunity.” Menin had heard a lot of anecdotal evidence about how the music industry had moved to LA, but she wanted data. So, being the commissioner, she commissioned a study of the music ecosystem. It revealed that, despite the recent closing of smaller venues, New York City’s music industry supported 60,000 jobs and “sold more live music tickets last year than the top other three cities, LA, Nashville and San Francisco, combined.” The negotiations involved the various labor unions at Madison Square Garden, putting together a host committee, and details regarding a one-day load-in, rehearsals, and the ceremony itself at MSG — and the Grammys are just the beginning. “Certainly having a close relationship with labor and working very closely with them, they’ve been a fantastic partner in this,” Menin noted. “There were a lot of different components to the negotiation and we’re thrilled it is happening, and I think it’s a great harbinger. We are actually in negotiations with other shows outside of music that we think would be great to bring here to New York City. It’s value-added, economic revenue.” And that economic revenue is conservatively estimated to be at least $200 million. Last year, the city of Los Angeles commissioned a study to DowntownExpress.com

Photo by George Kalinsky for Madison Square Garden

Back in 2003, the last time the Grammys were at MSG, a promising newcomer by the name of Norah Jones won Best New Artist.

Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Julie Menin, in a Jan. 16 interview with NYC Community Media.

show how much the Grammys brought in — everything from hotel rooms to transportation, and all the different industries that will benefit. “The Grammys bring dozens and dozens of staff members who stay here well in advance,” Menin noted. “There is everything from wardrobe to trucking to so many different attendant costs, and it’s not just that one night, it’s weeks and weeks in advance, and oftentimes months in advance.” As for the main event itself, Menin’s three teenage sons are rooting for their

favorite hip-hop artist, Lil Uzi Vert, to win — but their mother just hopes everyone brings their best to the stage. “They have a great roster of people,” she said, “and I think it’s going to be a great night. What’s exciting is, no matter what kind of music you like, there’s something for everyone.”

MENIN’S MOME MISSION Having served as a three-term chair of Community Board 1 and thrown

her hat into the ring for the 2013 Manhattan Borough President race, Menin was appointed Commissioner of Consumer Affairs by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his first term. “It was really wonderful running that agency, because it goes to the core of the type of law I practiced for many years,” she recalled. “And I really believe in the ability, through consumer protection regulation, to make sure consumers are not being defrauded.” Two years into her work at Consumer Affairs, Menin was tapped by the mayor to revamp MOME. “One thing I’ve really focused on is trying to increase opportunities, in particular for women,” said Menin. “And so well before the Harvey Weinstein allegations, we made an announcement that we were going to do five women’s initiatives. Because if you really want to help women in media and entertainment, you have to create more economic opportunity for them. It is absolutely critical.” First, Menin announced a $5 million fund for women filmmakers and playwrights — making MOME the first city agency in the country that is actually giving direct cash grants to them. Then she held a financing conference for MOME continued on p. 20 Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

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MOME continued from p. 19

women filmmakers and playwrights, after studies showed that that they were not getting the same access to capital as male directors and playwrights. So MOME connected them to venture capital firms, to angel investors, and to different funding sources. When research showed that women doing their proverbial “elevator pitch” weren’t seeing the same track record of success as men, “We did pitch workshops to help women refi ne their elevator pitch,” Menin said, “and it culminated in this women’s financing conference. I was incredibly personally gratified to see these women be able to get their projects financed.” Currently in the midst of its launch is the Greenlight Her program, a TV screenwriting contest for women that received 300 script submissions, winnowed down to two. With the help of students at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, which MOME has provided scholarships for, and whose student body is primarily people of color and women working at Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, two pilots were filmed. To see the pilots — “Half Life” by Patty Carey and “Maturity” by Robin Rose Singer — visit nyc.gov/GreenlightHer. Voting ends on Sat., Jan. 27. The winner gets four episodes of their show greenlit to be produced and aired on NYC Media later this fall. MOME also launched the show “Her Big Idea,” a block of programming profiling women entrepreneurs who had “one big idea” and blew it out of the water, and the attendant challenges, trials and tribulations. They also launched The Vanguard, a TV show about women in the media business, their challenges, and how they overcame them. Also on the slate of women’s initiatives, Menin noted, is “a study on the role gender plays in film directors’ histories. We’re going back and looking historically at how gender plays a role and, if so, what were the implications of it between male directors and female directors. We are pretty close to releasing that study.” A lack of women in leadership roles is not just endemic to media and entertainment, said Menin; it exists in every industry, from medicine, to politics, to law. It’s part of her job to fi nd parity. “We have an attendant duty to really break down these walls and create these economic opportunities for women,” Menin vowed. “And if we’re not doing that, shame on us.”

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Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

Photo by Antoine Braxton

The city is expected to have 10,000 jobs in animation in the coming years, which prompted MOME’s animation training for at-risk youth ages 12–24.

Courtesy MOME

Voting ends on Jan. 27 for MOME’s Greenlight Her initiative, with the winning pilot awarded a four-episode run of their show (airing on NYC Media this fall).

WORKFORCE PROGRAMS & INITIATIVES “When I fi rst came into the agency, one of the charges given was to make sure we keep production at an alltime high, because it’s an economic driver for the city,” Menin explained. “If you want to build more school seats and more affordable housing, we want to ensure that our economic sectors and revenue generated for the city are as strong as possible. Film

and TV are a $9 billion industry for New York City, employing 130,000 New Yorkers, everything from the truck driver driving to the set to the makeup artist.” With production at an all-time high, Menin focused on creating workforce development programs for those who have been traditionally shut out of the system. Hearing that TV writers of color were having trouble breaking into the industry, she launched a program with The Writers Guild to train 500 diverse TV writers. She had them

working with some of the best TV showrunners in the business as their mentors. “Every single participant in the program got feedback on their script, and that’s invaluable. And a subset of them were chosen for an intensive one-onone program,” she said. “And the feedback we got on that was so tremendous because so many of these writers say to us, ‘I never heard anything. I never knew what about my writing was good or bad, or was it just thrown in the waste paper basket?’ ” DowntownExpress.com


The Made in New York PostProduction program has also been launched, an extension of the agency’s Production Assistant training program, which gives training to 700 New Yorkers on how to get a job in production. Menin followed that with a workforce program on podcasting certification, calling it the most democratic medium, where the job growth is doubling. In an effort to balance the needs of the community with fi lm projects, Menin launched the Film Green Initiative, becoming the first city in the country to instill a set of rules around sustainability, everything from recyclability to how to dispose of sets. If the production meets the criteria, they’re added to MOME’s certification program, and are permitted to use the NYC Film Green seal of approval on all their marketing and promotional materials. Menin also branched out into publishing. Bemoaning the closing of both independent and mainstream bookstores, she launched the One Book, One New York program, which became the largest community read in the country. It resulted in a sales increase of 400 percent of participating books. Not only will MOME hold One Book, One New York again this spring, but they will also continue

Photo by Antoine Braxton

The Film Green Initiative sets standards for everything from recycling to set disposal. Productions meeting that criteria get a seal of approval — but no guarantee of meeting Oscar the Grouch, as Julie Menin did.

their analog program, One Film, One New York, partnering with A.O. Scott from The New York Times to pick fi lms about New York City and put them out to public vote. Last year, Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn” won, and was screened across the city so all families could have a night at the movies. To further ensure this kind of access,

MOME distributed 1,000 free tickets to NYCHA residents to see Broadway shows, and another 1,000 tickets so families could go to the movies for free. “It’s all about having access to the arts and culture,” Menin said. “Being able to express yourself creatively through the arts is important. Just last

week, we announced animation training for at-risk youth aged 12–24. The city is expected to have 10,000 jobs in animation in the coming years, so having these kids trained in this field is so important. It’s all about trying to make the city better, each and every day.” Visit nyc.gov/mome.

Dangerous Dances at the Disco Meaty ‘Pigs’ has much to feast on BY SCOTT STIFFLER Bouncing off the walls of Chelsea’s Irish Repertory Theatre with the pentup energy and destructive potential of a storm wave that’s finally made its way to shore, “Disco Pigs” gleefully wallows in the twin-like bond between a boy (Colin Campbell as Pig) and a girl (Evanna Lynch as Runt) born on the same day, in the same hospital (or, as Runt puts it, “Da two mams squealin on da trollies down da ward. Oud da fookin way!”). Upon turning 17, quick-tempered and adrenaline-addicted Pig begins to angle for a physical intimacy beyond the dangerously co-dependent dynamic of their intense friendship. Witnessing Pig give an alpha male, felony-level beating to their bus driver, Runt seems happy to play Bonnie to his Clyde — but no amount of binge drinking, bar fights, Scampi Fries, or dance floor head games can keep her from the melancholy pull DowntownExpress.com

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Colin Campbell and Evanna Lynch are the “Disco Pigs” who drink, dance, bond and brawl their way through the night.

of imagining what life might be like with other suitors, and in other places beyond County Cork, Ireland. This 20th anniversary production of

Edna Walsh’s 1997 Edinburgh Fringe hit unspools at a breakneck pace that captures the urgency of one’s teen years, with a physical and emotional intensity

that’s both exhausting and exhilarating to watch. Kudus to the athletic, kinetic, two-person cast, brimming with sexy/ dangerous chemistry and equally compelling in the vulnerability they display during telling soliloquies that are as memorable as they are pivotal to the changing relationship. Deciphering the verbal shorthand Pig and Runt use to keep themselves enmeshed and the world at bay requires persistence — but like the struggle to get past those velvet ropes and into the Palace Disco where the play’s pivotal event takes place, your determination will be rewarded. “Disco Pigs” is directed by John Haidar. Runtime: 75 min., no intermission. Through March 4 at the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Wed., 3pm & 8pm; Thurs., 7pm; Fri., 8pm; Sat., 3pm & 8pm; Sun., 3pm. For tickets ($24-70), visit irishrep.org. Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

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Jan 25 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Jan 31, 2018

DowntownExpress.com


WOMEN’S MARCH Continued from page 16

concern for the current crackdown on immigration and support of DACA. The banner “Marching For Everything We Hold Dear” was held at one corner by Lynn McMahill from Washington Heights who said, “I don’t know all the people holding the banner with me. People just joined in to help and really, that’s what this is all about, people joining together.” Nina Kulkarni, with the League of Women Voters, was marching nearby with a speaker announcing that she could register voters on the spot. She repeated the mission of registering a million women to vote before the 2018 midterm elections and reminded

that on Sun., Jan. 21, the Power to the Polls initiative was being launched in Las Vegas in conjunction with the Women’s March organizations. Mothers marching with daughters, aunts with nieces, sisters marching with sisters and brothers, wives with husbands, LGBTQ partners and friends, the March had a feeling of family. Chandra Turner, who lives in Westchester, brought her 11-year-old daughter Madeline, “because I wanted her to be here and witness this and not feel alone. I wanted her to see that she is not the only one who feels the way she does, that there are other people who are standing up for equality. She is worried about children being deported who were brought here. Her father

BREWER Continued from page 10

we want more makers, we want more light industry.” On another controversial proposed development, further downtown, Brewer continues to press — along with Councilmember Margaret Chin, Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, and community residents — to make sure that the Department of City Planning requires that four new megatowers proposed for the Two Bridges waterfront area on the Lower East Side, near the almost completed 823-foot Extell condo tower, go through ULURP. “Can you imagine this huge project not going through ULURP?,” she asked. “It’s very hard for the community to understand. Even then they’ll be upset with what comes out of ULURP.” Despite her advocacy for community input on land use changes, Brewer is realistic about those she sees as inevitable. In the heated battle in Little Italy that pits supporters of the Elizabeth Street Garden against the city’s plan to redevelop the site as affordable housing — with the participation of the LGBTQ seniors advocacy group SAGE and Habitat for Humanity — she said, “It’s going to happen.” While insisting, “I love the garden,” she said she is focusing her efforts on ensuring that “it has every inch of public space possible.” Brewer is highly critical of other land use decisions stripped of any meaningful public input, particularly the controversial decision to “infill” open spaces in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties. There, the agency is able to move forward with development projects without winning ULURP DowntownExpress.com

is not an American citizen. It’s scary to think about what can happen with this administration.” Creative signage revealed continued loathing of President Trump, points being made with humor. Shari Oliver, a 7th grade Social Studies/ History teacher from Connecticut, came with her 15-year-old daughter Grace, a first march for both of them, because “We’ve been disgusted with so much for so long.” Grace carried a sign reading, “Cheeto In Chief Is Making Me Gassy.” The Oval Office as a toilet bowl was another clever image. The day was peaceful, with the NYPD only a subtle presence, the sky devoid of buzzing helicopters, the focus being on the power of one’s voice multiplied by others.

approval. At the Holmes Towers site on East 92nd St. at First Ave., NYCHA has chosen a developer for a mixed market rate/affordable housing building roughly twice the height of the public housing there that will eliminate a playground open to residents. Though the agency has committed to building a replacement playground and devote a portion of the revenues from the new development to needed improvement at Holmes, residents have been unhappy with both NYCHA’s process and its final plans. “The meetings were very paternalistic,” Brewer said of the community outreach the agency undertook with residents. “Did they have input? I don’t think so.” The borough president is also alarmed by suggestions from Community Board 8 members that the developer, in Brewer’s words, “is making off like a bandit.” The community board’s sidelining due to the lack of a ULURP process, then, is all the more troubling to her. Brewer also addressed the threat that escalating commercial rents pose toward the survival of the borough’s small businesses. She is well versed in the long pending Small Business Jobs Survival Act — having drawn up an early draft of the legislation back in 1985 when she served on the staff of Ruth Messinger, who then held the Council seat Brewer later won — but acknowledges constitutional concerns about the measure’s potential infringement on property owners’ rights. Over the last four years, she signed on to an alternative measure that would substitute mandatory mediation over rent increases in place of government regu-

Photo by Milo Hess

A major theme of this year’s Women’s March was channeling anger at Trump and the Republican Congress into votes — and Democratic victories — in this year’s midterm elections.

lation of commercial rents. Under former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the measure could not be taken up given its similarity to the SBJSA, but Brewer is hopeful that Speaker Corey Johnson will allow for competing measures addressing the same issue to be considered. Asked why she is not pushing the version she originally favored, Brewer replied, “If we pass such a law and then it goes to court and we lose, then we’re nowhere. We want to have something that is airtight before we get there.” Late last year, the City Council sought to ease the burden on small businesses by raising the annual lease expense threshold for businesses that must pay a 3.9 percent commercial rent tax — applicable only in Manhattan below 96th Street — from $250,000 to $500,00, providing relief to an estimated 3,000 businesses. Brewer advocates also exempting supermarkets, regardless of their annual rent expense, from the CRT given the low margins under which they operate and what she sees as the consequent emergence of food deserts hobbling residents of some neighborhoods. Regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans for a big push to revisit congestion pricing as a way to ease traffic in Manhattan and provide funding for mass transit, Brewer responded cautiously. Acknowledging, “I support the idea that subways need money,” and “I believe in the concept of congestion pricing,” she raised logistical concerns about the efficacy of new technologies — such as photographing license plates — for capturing tolls on East River crossings or from cars entering Midtown from Upper Manhattan, and mentioned

the State Thruway Authority’s loss of millions in unpaid tolls where booths have been replaced completely by electronic tolling. She also insisted that any tolls imposed on traveling from Upper Manhattan to Midtown and Downtown could only be collected beginning at 60th St., not from 96th St. south. On the issue of government transparency and accountability, Brewer touted the implementation this year of the city’s open data law — that she pushed through the Council in 2011 — requiring accessibility through a city web portal. To improve constituent services as borough president, she has opened the first storefront office, on W. 125th Street, which she said offers access without the need to navigate security detectors or elevators. Residents, she said, “feel respected” in that setting. In support of the borough’s 12 community boards, Brewer explained, her office has enhanced training in technology, ethics, bylaws, and parliamentary procedures for all their members, and over her first four years as borough president, she replaced roughly half of all CB incumbents. For the first time, 16 and 17-year-olds are now able to serve on Manhattan community boards. Brewer endorsed an effort by State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Deborah Glick to ensure that Manhattan has representation on the State Liquor Authority, which oversees liquor licenses, though she also specifically lauded the SLA’s chair, Vincent Bradley, for recently spending three and a half hours meeting with roughly 90 representatives from the borough’s community boards. Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

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Jan 25 – Jan 31, 2018

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