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The T Th he P Pa Paper ap ape pe e r of o f Record R ec e co co orrd r d for fo o r Greenwich Greenwicc h Village, Viill V i ll ll a ag g e, ge e , East E Eas ass t Village, Vii llag V llll ag a g e, Lower Low East Side, Soho, Union Chinatown S o ho So ho, U Un n iio o n Square, Ch h in i n at inat a t ow o w n and an n d Noho, N o ho, No h o , Since ho S i nce 1933 Si 19

March 8, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 10

Silver lining in Shelly retrial not very likely, some pundits predict BY MARY REINHOLZ


bout five months before former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on a criminal complaint and later indicted on corruption charges that included extortion, money laundering and theft of honest services, this reporter spotted

the then-powerful Lower East Side pol looking for a bargain at the P.C. Richard & Son store on E. 14th St. It was a sweltering September afternoon in 2014. “My air conditioner broke,” Silver explained, looking like a rabbi in his dark suit and SILVER continued on p. 8

Eco City pageant will celebrate wide array of local green efforts BY SAR AH FERGUSON


or artist Felicia Young, the process of making art is as important as the outcome. Twenty-seven years ago, she envisioned a pageant to help save the Lower East Side’s community gardens. The annual “Rites of Spring Procession to Savee Our

Gardens,” which wended its way around the neighborhood from 1991 to 2005, helped tell the story of these communally-tilled spaces. During the Giuliani administration, which wanted to sell off the gardens to developers, the pageants took on a sense of even greater urgency. ECO continued on p. 10


After a meeting at P.S. 41 last Thursday at which agenc y officials presented the city’s mitigation plan for a possible L train shutdown, bic ycle activists showed their suppor t for both the “PeopleWay” plan for 14th St., which would turn the street into a “busway,” and a related plan for a new t wo-way crosstown bike lane on 13th St.

What the ‘L’? No E.I.S. could derail shutdown BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


and over the E.I.S. — or else! In its “tunnel vision” for its L subway shutdown scenario, the city may have failed to do a critical Environmental Impact Statement, or E.I.S., for the planned closure of the Canarsie Tunnel — and it could put the whole project on hold, says a Village attorney. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to

Tompkins love triangle .......... p. 13

close the L train’s East River tubes — known as the Canarsie Tunnel — for 15 months of repairs, starting in April 2019. During that period, no L trains would run between Brooklyn’s Bedford Ave. and Manhattan’s Eighth Ave. But District Leader Arthur Schwartz, who is representing the ad hoc 14th Street Coalition — a broad group of 20 Village and Chelsea block associations and co-op and condo boards — said that because the tun-

nel’s repairs would be federally funded, under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, an E.I.S. is required. To date, though, Schwartz said, he has been unable to find any evidence anywhere of such a study having been done. Speaking to The Villager, the attorney said, his experience has been that the M.T.A. always posts an E.I.S. online for pretty much every project it does that includes federal E.I.S. continued on p. 6

‘Russiagate’: Scoopy Soup to WikiNuts..............p. 2 Expert: Don’t use diesel buses for L crisis ...... p. 15 www.TheVillager.com

Frenemies forever: Randy Credico, left, and Roger Stone.

“RUSSIAGATE,” SOUP TO WIKINUTS: With former short-lived Donald Trump adviser Sam Nunberg having been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, everyone is now saying Roger Stone, Nunberg’s mentor, is once again the focus of the “Russiagate” probe. Mueller has ordered Nunberg to appear (preferably not drunk) before a grand jury and turn over all communications from Nov. 1, 2015, to the present between himself and 10 others, including Trump, Stone, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Hope Hicks. Meanwhile, local activist /comedian-turned-radio journo Randy Credico called the whole thing nuts — and claimed Stone actually is loving it all. As The Villager previously reported, Credico was subpoenaed last December by the House Intelligence Committee for its own election-influencing probe after Stone tagged the funny man as his alleged “back channel” to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But Credico pleaded the Fifth Amendment, the committee waived his requirement to

give a deposition, and apparently he hasn’t heard from them since. Weighing in on the latest development, Credico said, basically, it’s all a crock. “It’s a fool’s errand going after him,” Credico scoffed of Stone. “He had nothing to do with WikiLeaks. They wanted nothing to do with him — I talk to WikiLeaks all the time. He’s easy to attack, that’s why the media likes him: He’s Quasimodo.” Stone might as well trademark the phrase “G.O.P. dirty trickster” since it’s how he is invariably referred to. “Stone’s a complete liar,” Credico said, “a self-promoter, a circus act.” As for the whole idea of collusion with Russia to affect the election’s outcome, Credico said, it’s all bunk. “Mueller knows there are some people who only support this investigation if it involves collusion,” he said, “but there’s no collusion. Mueller’s going after economic stuff — money laundering, tax cheats. This is not his mandate. But they need to buy time. He’s going after Qatar, he’s going after these banking schemes by Jared Kushner. He doesn’t care about collusion. He knows there’s nothing there, but he throws some red meat out there. Stone is red meat.” A recent report by The Atlantic about a couple of direct messages between Stone and WikiLeaks was, Credico shrugged, “a big nothingburger”: WikiLeaks was essentially telling Stone to get lost and stop saying he knew anything about its planned dump of sensitive documents that MAIL TO: One Metrotech Ctr North, 10th floor • Brooklyn, NY 11201 could impact the election, and Stone and WikiLeaks YES! I want to receive The Villager every week of the year. only resumed contact after the election, accordCHECK ONE: New Subscription Renewal ing to Credico. Asked if Assange is worried (New Subscription $29•Renewal $24, for 52 weeks, where things are headed by check or credit card, will be added to your current subscription) with Mueller’s homing in on Stone, Credico — who Name: said he still text-messages Address: Assange — said, “No, not City: State: Zip Code: at all.” Although he hasn’t heard back from the InEmail: Phone: tel Committee, Credico Card Type: [ ] Visa [ ] Mastercard [ ] Amex [ ] Discover suspects he now will be Card Holder’s Signature: sucked into the mix again Credit Card Number: now that Mueller is going after Stone. Credico said, Exp. Date: Security Code: despite it all, he’s still friends with Stone, even though the lobbyist “has no balls” for telling the


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March 8, 2018

congressional committee he was his “back channel.” Since we’re on the topic of “Russiagate,” we might as well mention that the gonzo journalist also spoke glowingly to us of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin is a strong, attractive leader,” he told us. “Putin has brought respect to Russia. Somebody has to stand up to U.S. aggression. He’s not like Yeltsin, who was paid by the C.I.A.” O.K., sure, Comrade Credico! Anyway, told of all Credico’s comments, Stone text-messaged us back. “I addressed this under oath before the House Intelligence Committee,” he said. “Credico plead the Fifth and refused to answer any questions. Who’s lying? While ‘back channel’ may be an overdramatization, Credico most definitely confirmed for me what Assange had already said in public — that he had material on Hillary which he would publish, which he had and did. Credico never attributed this confirmation to Assange himself nor did he indicate he knew the source or subject of the material. His claim that the confirmation came prior to his first [radio show] interview with Assange is irrelevant as Credico knows others who work for WikiLeaks. I initially declined to provide Credico’s name to the House Intelligence Committee for fear that some would take professional reprisals against him, and indeed he was fired from his job at WBAI when this came to light.” Stone said he has no ill will toward Credico, noting, “Randy is the guy who enlightened me on the ignominious racist failure of the war on drugs (Nixon’s biggest mistake) and arranged for me to speak at a rally against New York’s draconian laws. I retain great affection for him even though he is dissembling about what transpired here — most likely because he doesn’t want his friend Assange to know he was talking out of school. I hope he finds work. The limited direct messages with WikiLeaks, which had been turned over to the House Intel Committee months ago — a doctored version of which [was] leaked — prove yet again that I received no material from WikiLeaks, and therefore, the little I know, I know from Randy. On this we agree: Assange is not a Russian asset and WikiLeaks is not a Russian front, Assange is an honest journalist and WikiLeaks is a news organization with a track record for accuracy and authenticity.” To Credico’s cracks about Stone’s behaving starved for media attention, he retorted, “I like attention? I’m not the one who went to the state capitol dressed like a mythological figure.” He was referring to when Credico visited the state Senate in Albany in 2009 dressed as Diogenes the Cynic, the Greek philosopher, and held aloft a lantern, saying he was “seeking an honest politician.” On another note, Credico said, although it would be a lot of work for him, he might just have to run against Governor Andrew Cuomo. “If nobody else runs by mid-May, I have to run, unfortunately,” he said. “Somebody’s got to do it.”

BOWERY HOUSING BATTLE: To update the 85 Bowery situation, five days after tenants went on a hunger strike / sidewalk campout in the bitter cold in front of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s 100 Gold St. offices, they broke it off on Feb. 12 for the Lunar New Year celebrations, which last for two weeks. During the hunger strike, the court fight continued over whether their units are rent-regulated. The court proposed March 28 as the date for the repairs inside the building to be completed, tenants spokesperson Caitlin Kelmar reported. However, she said, there was no assurance the tenants would be able to move back home right away. “Right now, the tenants and landlord are negotiating on having a settlement outside of the court,” she said. “This is a big step forward. The amount of pressure put on the landlord because of the coverage of the hunger strike...was definitely felt. We are hopeful the move-in date will be March 28, which has been agreed upon by the tenants, landlord and the Mayor’s Office. However, should this date not be met... the tenants and their broad network of supporters will be prepared to return to their hunger strike.” TheVillager.com

Target on E. 14th is off the mark, many say BY BOB KR ASNER


he reactions from East Village dwellers to the imminent arrival of a Target store this summer on E. 14th St. at Avenue A pretty much got summed up in one of three ways: Disgust, resignation and, at best, tempered enthusiasm. Occupying 27,000 square feet, the chain’s newest outpost will be considerably smaller than the Herald Square location, which takes up 43,000 square feet. Target spokeswoman Erin Conway said the East Village store would be “locally relevant,� selling home items, apparel, technology products and a “multicultural assortment� of health and beauty products. “I’d much rather have back the Woolworth’s that used to be on that block!� said Michael, a 40-year East Village denizen who lives around the corner and, like several others interviewed for this article, didn’t want to give his last name. “Kids around here seem to vastly prefer suburban chains, though,� he said. “So, I imagine the ‘mini’-Target will do just fine without me.� Those “kids� seemed surprised that a big-box store from suburbia was settling in. And not all of them were happy about it, even the ones who are fans of the store. “I worry about the consequences for local businesses,� said Joanna, a New York University graduate student, as she walked her dog through Tompkins Square Park. “It’s convenient, but it’s not why I moved to the neighborhood,� added Krysten. Rowena was wor-


A workman put the finishing touch on signage for a new Target store coming in at 500 E. 14th St., at the corner of Avenue A .

ried for a different reason: She loves the place. “We were just talking about how it’s good that there is no Target near us,â€? she said. “That’s dangerous for me.â€? Max Katz, 27, who grew up on the Lower East Side, has no love for the retail giant. He sees it as another symbol of, for him, a downward trend in the community. “The neighborhood I grew up in doesn’t exist anymore,â€? he lamented. “The family businesses are becoming more rare. I find myself having less and less of a stake in the neighborhood. I will not step foot in 7-Eleven, Starbucks or Target.â€? Others who have lived through the area’s changes are more resigned to their fate. “It goes with what’s going on,â€? shrugged musician Angel Olivieri. “A lot of stuff happens and there’s nothing I can do about it.â€? Susan Balcunus didn’t seem to mind either, noting that 14th St. is already very commercial. Plus, she offered, “New York City has become a mall for quite some time now, so the shock to me is essentially over. Target‌Trader Joe’s‌ not so bad.â€? Godlis, a well-known photographer and longtime East Villager who famously chronicled the punk years at CBGB, was less than enthusiastic. “I like Target,â€? he admitted. “I go there when I’m out of town. But I don’t know if I want one on Avenue A.â€? Even the out-of-towners are not exactly thrilled about it. “I’ve got a Target in New Jersey,â€? said Doug, a teenager from across the river. “That’s not why I come to the East Village.â€?




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Attorney Amy Gottlieb, Ravi Ragbir’s wife, tied ribbons to the fence outside Judson Church on Sunday.

Speak out, Ragbir urges supporters BY TEQUIL A MINSK Y



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March 8, 2018


mbattled immigrant-rights activist Ravi Ragbir returned to his home base, Judson Memorial Church, in the Village, this past weekend to “preach” to his supporters. Ragbir has been targeted for deportation back to his native Trinidad by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to a past wire-fraud conviction for which he served prison time. However, his legal team is mounting a last-ditch challenge on First Amendment grounds, arguing that Ragbir and other immigrant leaders are being singled out for their outspokenness. Judson is the headquarters of the New Sanctuary Coalition, of which Ragbir is the executive director. The first two-thirds of Ragbir’s talk at the historic church was filled with religious references. During the last third, he offered pointers to those assembled on how to help the cause. “You can create a space where you can help someone,” he said. “You can make a phone call. You can write a letter. You can tweet. You can just talk to someone. You can stop someone about a fact that is wrong, when they’re talking propaganda or repeating something they heard on Fox or from someone that you know is not true. “I will change a quotation from Martin Luther King,” he said. “‘It’s not the violence of my enemy that I remember, but the silence of my friends.’ “You are my friends. You have not been silent. You have stood up for me. You have come out on the streets. You have gotten

Ravi Ragbir after his sermon at Judson on Sunday.

The orange and white ribbons include the names of immigrants — some possibly facing depor tation — and Judson congregants.

arrested. You have put pressure on them. “What I want us to do is to take this one more step and say that, ‘We are here for others,’” he continued. “We’re here to bring Jean [Montrevil] back, to stand for Ravi, here to repeal…laws.” Montrevil, another leader of the New Sanctuary Coalition, was recently deported by ICE back to Haiti. “I’m preaching here to you, because I know you are not silent,” Ragbir said. “I know that you have not been defined by society to act in certain ways. That’s why you’re part of Judson, that’s why you are here, standing with me. “Judson has become a safe space for many many things,” Ragbir noted, “not just for immigrants but a safe space for

you, and I want you to extend that safety to others.” He then explained that they were going to have a ribbon-tying ceremony on the fence outside the Washington Square South church. “In New Sanctuary, the ribbons exemplify our thoughts toward each other,” he said, “a simple action after church.” The ribbons came in twos: one white, the other orange. The orange signifies the monarch butterfly that migrates. On one ribbon congregants were supposed to write the names of immigrants or people they were thinking about, and on the other, their own name. Some people also wrote thoughts, slogans or prayers on the ribbons. TheVillager.com


Timberrr! A tree topples on E. Sixth St.


little after 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening, a tree toppled on E. Sixth St. just east of Second


Ave. and came to rest on top of a parked car. No one was injured, according to the photographer, and the car didn’t

really appear to be dented, either. “It wasn’t so windy,” he said. “Probably more wet snow weight because look at

the photo and you’ll see how few small points of the tree were actually rooted to the ground.”

March 8, 2018


What the ‘L’? No E.I.S. could derail ‘L’ shutdown; E.I.S. continued from p. 1

funding — even relatively small ones. So, he recently decided to search around on the M.T.A.’s Web site a bit and see if he could find one — and came up with nothing. “I just wanted to see if the M.T.A. had done an E.I.S.,” he said. “They do it for elevators they put in on street corners. They did a big one for that Fulton St. subway station. There was a huge one for the Second Ave. subway. “I’m sure a lot of federal funding is going into this,” he said of the L tunnel repairs. “It’s a $1 billion project. I couldn’t find an E.I.S. online. And if they don’t do it, then the whole shutdown project is illegal,” he declared. “If they didn’t do one, then it’s attackable.” It doesn’t matter if the work is only repairs, under NEPA an E.I.S. is needed, he said. Under NEPA, the agencies also would have to present alternative plans, as well as data “that could be publicly challenged,” Schwartz noted. He added, for example, that the data presented to the public about the M.T.A. needing to move 50,000 displaced L train commuters along 14th St. during the shutdown seemed “very hokey” to him. The M.T.A. and city Department of Transportation would not have to implement the alternative plans — but they would have to present some. But the M.T.A. and D.O.T. are insisting that the project complies with all federal environmental requirements — while nevertheless having repeatedly failed to produce the asked-for E.I.S. “If we sue over the tunnel closure we will have a lot of friends in Brooklyn!” Schwartz crowed in a group e-mail last Friday to members of the coalition, which he is representing pro bono. Indeed, the proposed L shutdown scheme — ominously hyped as the “L-pocalypse” and an “unprecedented” transit event — would set off a mad scramble of L train-deprived Brooklyn straphangers trying to reach Manhattan by other subway lines, ferries, buses, bicycles and even foot. A former Union Square-area resident, Parker Shinn, has even proposed a pontoon bridge that would connect Williamsburg and the East Village.


March 8, 2018


Attorney Arthur Schwartz, the Village’s Democratic district leader, right, was the last public member to testify at a special hearing by Community Board 2’s Transpor tation and Traffic Committee last Thursday at which M.T.A. and D.O.T. officials — seen listening in background — described the agencies’ proposed mitigation plan to address a shutdown of the L train in Manhattan. Althought he spoke last, Schwartz’s message was probably the most significant of the dozens of members of the public who spoke because he reiterated that the 14th Street Coalition intends to sue the city over the shutdown plan for its lack of a proper environmental impact study that would address traffic changes, among other things. As Schwartz talked into the microphone, supporters of the plan — particularly of a proposed two-way protected crosstown bike lane on 13th St. — hoisted up “Don’t Delay” signs.

To mitigate the impact of the L’s closure, the city has proposed banning cars from 14th St. and transforming it into a “busway,” sending neighboring residents from W. 12th St. to W. 19th St. and beyond into a panic that their narrow side streets would be flooded with the overflow traffic. Meanwhile, another part of the mitigation plan, a proposed twoway crosstown bike lane on 13th St., also has Greenwich Village residents, including City and Country School parents, especially, up in arms. The L train’s East River tunnel needs repairs because it was damaged by flooding with saltwater during Superstorm Sandy five years ago. But Schwartz said the tunnel fix should simply be done on weekends and at nights, and by affordable M.T.A. crews — not the pricey English-owned outside contractors the transit agency has already hired for the proposed 15-month total shutdown scheme. “Outside contractors always cost more,” Schwartz, who also represents the Transport Workers Union, said. A few weeks ago, Schwartz initially threatened to sue under

Ryan McGuire, 26, a bic ycle messenger from Crown Heights, Brooklyn — who said a t wo-way bike lane on 13th St. would help him do his job — held up a “Don’t Delay” sign as Ar thur Schwar tz testified that he was readying to file a lawsuit against the L shutdown plan.

the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA, arguing that the proposed mitigation measures that the M.T.A. and D.O.T. are planning for 14th and 13th Sts. require an

E.I.S. In an “opening shot” of sorts, on Feb. 14, he sent a letter to that effect to D.O.T. Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. Under SEQRA, Schwartz argued, an E.I.S. would be re-

quired if the improvements the city is planning for 14th and 13th Sts. — such as “bus bulbs” for a new Select Bus Service and extending the sidewalk out into a lane of traffic on 14th St., plus installing the two-way bike lane on 13th St. — would be permanent. The city, recently at least, has been saying the changes would be interim, and that it would look at them to see how they are working. In response to Schwartz’s Feb. 14 letter to Trottenberg, Eric Beaton, D.O.T. deputy commissioner for transportation planning and management, responded on March 1 in a letter back to Schwartz. “M.T.A. and D.O.T. have worked closely with the affected communities in over 70 stakeholder meetings to create what we believe is the best possible mitigation plan, backed by extensive analysis and planning,” Beaton wrote. Beaton added that the agencies also recently released the “detailed traffic analysis that undergirds that plan, which includes the choices behind our menu of temporary alternative transportation options. E.I.S. continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com

Village attorney to sue E.I.S. continued from p. 6

“D.O.T. and our partner agencies are complying with all applicable environmental review requirements for this project,” Beaton assured. “M.T.A. is seeking funding for the project from the Federal Transit Administration, which will work closely with the M.T.A. and NYC agencies to assure that the project complies with all environmental requirements pursuant to [NEPA]. As part of that collaboration, the M.T.A. and D.O.T., as well as other NYC agencies, are performing modeling, studies and analyses to the satisfaction of F.T.A. — in order to assure that the project meets all legal requirements and to reduce any and all inconveniences the project could cause.” Nevertheless, in that alphabet soup of acronyms, Beaton never mentioned an “E.I.S.” Said Schwartz to The Villager, ‘Modeling’ and all the rest isn’t enough. It requires an E.I.S.” In his letter, Beaton didn’t mention whether the mitigation measures would be temporary or permanent, either, Schwartz noted. Similarly, The Villager last Friday asked the D.O.T. and M.T.A. if an E.I.S. had been done, specifically for the L tunnel shutdown. This Monday, a D.O.T. spokesperson failed either to confirm or deny if an E.I.S. had been done, but referred back to Beaton’s letter of March 1 to Schwartz. On Feb. 21, when Schwartz was still only focusing on the SEQRA angle, The Villager asked if an E.I.S. had been done, and a D.O.T. spokesperson responded, “The 15-month closure of the L train is an unprecedented challenge. D.O.T. and M.T.A. have been doing extensive analysis and planning, and we expect to release more information shortly. The city is complying with its environmental statutory obligations with regard to its L train shutdown mitigation plans. Despite assertions by Mr. Schwartz, no E.I.S. is required... .” But the tunnel argument that Schwartz subsequently hit on is much stronger, he said. Schwartz had promised Trottenberg he would be sending a “more formal” follow-up letter, and, sure enough, on March 6 he wrote to both the M.T.A. and D.O.T. For D.O.T., Schwartz addressed his letter to Deputy Commissioner Beaton, requesting that he prove that the necessary environmental studies have been done for both the tunnel project and the 14th St. mitigation scheme. “We have scoured the M.T.A. Web site,” Schwartz wrote. “It contains many E.I.S.’es. I can find none for the Canarsie Tunnel / 14th Street Redesign project. “I request, pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, that you provide all documents for this project TheVillager.com

which demonstrate compliance with NEPA as well as SEQRA. Please save me the time and don’t refer this to your FOIL officer. “We are, for now, pending your response, preparing our litigation,” Schwartz warned. “And if we are not too late, we will seek to stop the M.T.A. from following its ‘Total Shutdown Scenario’ unless they supply us with the E.I.S. A project done on weekends and at night would eliminate most of the need for D.O.T.’s ‘doomsday planning’ on 13th and 14th Sts.” In his letter, Schwartz pointed out that Beaton in his March 1 letter to him had confirmed that the project would be federally funded, which should trigger an E.I.S. under NEPA. Also on March 6, Schwartz wrote to Ronnie Hakim, M.T.A. managing director, again requesting that the agency fork over the E.I.S. “In our correspondence with D.O.T.,” Schwartz wrote, “it has become clearer and clearer that D.O.T.’s 14th Street Plan and M.T.A.’s Canarsie Tunnel repair are one unified plan. D.O.T. has stated that, in all respects, it and the M.T.A. have complied with New York State environmental laws and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). While it is unclear to us whether a ‘repair,’ such as the Canarsie Tunnel project, requires review under SEQRA, we have no question that it requires proper scoping and an Environmental Impact Study (E.I.S.) under NEPA. “Given that the decision to do a total closure [of the Canarsie Tunnel], as opposed...to the weekend / nighttime option, promises to upend hundreds of thousands of lives in Brooklyn and Manhattan, we just cannot imagine that an E.I.S. wasn’t done,” Schwartz wrote, incredulously. “I am writing to you, instead of the FOIL officer, in an effort to expedite things,” he noted to Hakim. “We are headed to court soon, and if an E.I.S. was not done, we are prepared to challenge the Canarsie Tunnel ‘total shutdown’ choice as unlawful... .” Speaking to The Villager, Schwartz recalled how Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, in the 1990s, insisted an E.I.S. be done for the creation of the Hudson River Park on the West Side waterfront. “They did one for Hudson River Park,” the attorney said. “They didn’t want to do it, and Jerry Nadler made them do it. It delayed the park three years.” As for the filing of the L shutdown lawsuit, it’s not a question of if, but when, Schwartz said. “It’ll be filed by the end of the month,” he said. “Unless it gets stopped by a court, they’re going to do it,” he said of the agencies’ L train plan. “It’s like they’re interchangeable with Transportation Alternatives,” he said, referring to the nonprofit advocacy group for more cycling, mass transit and walking. “They think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.” March 8, 2018


Silver lining in Shelly retrial unlikely, pundits say SILVER continued from p. 1

matching fedora, slung low over his forehead. It seemed odd that a then-busy man like Silver would undertake such a menial task, but that was his personal style, according to John Quinn, a former Democratic district leader and state committeeman who is married to Alice Cancel, herself a former District 65 leader. Cancel briefly took over Silver’s Assembly seat following a special election in the wake of his 2015 conviction and automatic expulsion from the New York State Legislature. By then, Silver had served in the assembly for more than 40 years. Silver, who is Orthodox Jewish, is now awaiting a retrial scheduled for April 16 in U.S. District Court in Foley Square — “after the Jewish holidays,” one top lawyer observed. “This is a deference to him.” At the peak of his power, “Shelly lived simply,” Quinn said in a telephone conversation Wednesday. He noted that up in Albany, Silver “could have had a Cadillac or Lincoln, but he drove a Buick. I don’t think it was new. He had a driver but Shelly would drive the car and the driver [also his bodyguard] would sit next to him. “Shelly is cheap,” added Quinn. “Shelly bargains. Shelly would not allow somebody to pay top dollar. I was shopping in Pathmark” after Silver had become Assembly speaker, Quinn recalled, “and there was Shelly pushing a shopping card and saving coupons. He collected coupons.” Despite Silver’s frugal ways, Quinn believes that Silver became “greedy” during his tenure in public office and thus brought on federal charges of allegedly pocketing some $4 million in kickbacks and bribes disguised as legal referrals to two Manhattan law firms that retained him as an attorney. He was also convicted for funneling $500,000 in two state grants to a cancer doctor who sent clients Silver’s way and who became the star witness for the prosecution during Silver’s trial in U.S. District Court in Foley Square. After a jury found Silver guilty in 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni sentenced him to 12 years in prison. Silver, now 74, remains free on bail and has a new lawyer, Michael Feldberg, a former U.S. attorney in the Southern District who works for the firm of Allen & Overy. Quinn is not optimistic about Silver’s chances for acquittal or even a reduced sentence from his retrial. “I believe he’ll be convicted again,” he said. “It’s the same judge and the same evidence. The judge screwed him the last time and wasn’t giving him a break. And the guy’s sick,” Quinn said. “He’ll die in prison.”


March 8, 2018


Former A ssembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was swarmed by photographers and repor ters as he left federal cour t in Lower Manhattan in November 2015, after being found guilty on all counts in his corruption trial. Following the verdict, he was immediately stripped of his political position.

‘I believe he’ll be convicted again.’ John Quinn

For his part, Silver appeared upbeat in his court appearance last month to announce his change of lawyers from Steven Molo and Joel Cohen, who won him his appeal but unsuccessfully sought to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case last year. The two attorneys said in a joint statement that white-collar cases are

very expensive to litigate and that Silver’s assets “have been frozen for three years,” according to a report in Newsday. The report also noted that Silver declared, “I believe justice will prevail,” after he left court. Feldberg did not return calls. Caproni rejected his request for more time to prepare for Silver’s retrial. Silver’s conviction after his first trial was overturned in 2016 by the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit, on grounds that Caproni had failed to instruct the jurors adequately on a narrower definition of what constitutes a corrupt official act. It was a ruling that reflected an earlier SCOTUS decision exonerating former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife for acts of public corruption for which they had been convicted two years earlier. The appellate panel of three judges in New York, however, said there was still sufficient evidence to try Silver again.

Prominent criminal defense lawyer Murray Richman of the Bronx, known as “Don’t Worry Murray” to a slew of high-profile clients, including fallen politicians, rap artists and mafia figures, insists “there’s always hope” for the defense in trials, but made it plain that the court system in the U.S. “favors the prosecution. The prosecution sums up first and last,” he noted. Even so, Richman doesn’t believe that Silver’s second trial will simply be a replay of the first one. “It will become a different case based on the MacDonald ruling and the way it was tried in the past,” he said. “I’m of the opinion that based on his age and his no longer being a central figure in politics that he will get a lower sentence. At the very least, he will have another year or two out on bail. He’s not a well man and who knows how long he will last.” The prosecution is also much different than it was when Preet Bharara, who was fired by President Trump, occupied the top slot as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and was chided by Judge Caproni for pretrial statements about Silver’s case. Bharara’s interim successor, appointed by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is Geoffrey Berman, who previously worked in former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s law office. The new prosecuting team is Tatiana Martins, Dan Richenthal and Damian Williams, according to Dawn Dearden, a spokesperson for the Southern District. She noted that none of the original prosecuting team, which included Carrie Cohen, Howard Master, Andrew Goldstein and James MacDonald, are “with the SDNY any longer.” Besides Bharara, Joon Kim, former acting U.S. attorney, has left as well. Manhattan lawyer Emily Jane Goodman, a retired New York State justice, said in an e-mail that the second trial could bring new witnesses and that Silver himself, who did not testify in his first trial, could make the best witness, sympathetic to a jury, the second time around — if that is, he doesn’t perjure himself. “If Shelly has a good story and there is no perjury, he may be able to save himself,” she wrote, adding that the jury may like and “even acquit him.” However, she noted, “If he’s convicted, unless he’s mortally ill, he’s going in [jail] for a long time.” Arthur Schwartz, Greenwich Village’s Democratic district co-leader, doesn’t see a happy outcome for Silver. “I don’t think he has any chance at acquittal in round two,” Schwartz said. “His conviction was reversed on a technicality because instructions to the jury were not precise. I don’t think he’ll get less time if he’s convicted of the same thing,” he opined. TheVillager.com


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


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.

March 8, 2018


Eco pageant to celebrate local greening efforts ECO continued from p. 1

By bringing together the area’s disparate gardeners and greening activists, that pageant helped spark the creation of the Lower East Side Garden Preservation Coalition, which, in turn, became a catalyst for the citywide New York City Garden Coalition — a grassroots trajectory that succeeded in preserving more than 400 garden sites. Now Young is hard at work on another community pageant, this one built around the theme of the “Ecological City.” The six-hour event, which takes place Sat., May 12, will showcase the various climate resiliency projects that have sprung up in the East Village and Lower East Side in the wake of Hurricane Sandy — everything from bioswales that are being installed in community gardens to absorb storm runoff, to the solar grid that’s being erected at Village East Towers on Avenue C, and the “living berm” / “Big U” seawall that will line the East River to fend off rising tides. “I don’t think there’s any other neighborhood — certainly not in New York City — where you could find all these different sites where climate solutions are happening,” Young said. “It’s easy to feel helpless with the Trump administration and their willful political assault on the environment,” she pointed out. “But communities are envisioning pathways to an ecologically sustainable future. It’s happening right here on the Lower East Side; so, this pageant is a way to connect the dots between the solutions that exist now and what’s being proposed. “The idea is we’re not just creating an art project. It’s also a form of organizing and mobilizing through the arts,” explained Young. Her past projects include the Hudson River Pageant — held annually from 2009 to 2012 — to honor water restoration efforts on the West Side, and another one she staged in 2015 in Madurai, India, to address the pollution crisis in the sacred Vaigai River. Young first pitched the concept of the Ecological City pageant to the LES community during the LUNGS Harvest Festival last September. Since then more than 50 local organizations have come on board. “The planning meeting we had in February was packed,” she said. “It’s bringing together the old crew of all the people I knew from the gardens and that struggle. It’s really nice to see everyone committed again and moving together.” The shape of the event is all still very much in process, and Young said she welcomes input. She and her nonprofit group, Earth Celebrations, are holding a series of free workshops where adults and teens can collaborate with professional artists to craft the giant puppets, costumes and props for the pageant. Workshops are happening Wednesdays, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Loisaida Inc. Center, at 710 E. Ninth St., between Avenues C and D. The plan is to parade to 15 sites in the East Village / LES, including a “mythic battle between climate consequences versus climate solutions” to be staged at La Plaza Cultural, on E. Ninth St. There will be an elaborate closing ceremony on the East River, where a giant Gaia sculpture created from bio-remediating mud balls will be “sacrificed” to the water gods, accompanied by Butoh dance and a choir performance by Theater for the New City. (Young is still searching for a spoken-word poet to help out with the script.) The Lower Eastside Girls Club is creating solar-energy bike floats. Dancer Jody Sperling — who has performed on ice floes in Antarctica — is choreographing a piece about water quality with local youth to honor the gray-water system that is going in at the LES Ecology Center.


March 8, 2018

Ar tist Michele Brody, above, is incorporating live grasses and plants into her designs for the giant puppets and “ceremonial totems” to be carried during the Ecological Cit y pageant.


A sketch of a “Climate Consequences” character designed by artist Michele Brody. Volunteers will be helping Brody construct this character and other puppets and costumes for the Ecological City pageant, from now until May 9.

Local children are crafting butterfly and bee costumes to celebrate the Sixth St. Community Center’s new bee farm and the Earth School’s rooftop veggie garden. And theater director Drew Vanderburg is working with public housing residents to create a short play about rising floodwaters to be staged beneath the Williamsburg Bridge. “It’s all about engaging people who wouldn’t ordinarily be involved, or who wouldn’t consider themselves as ac-

tivists,” Young explained, “and yet they do find an entry point for engaging on this issue — whether it’s kids and parents creating art projects to illustrate the impacts of climate change or groups like GOLES and LES Ready!, who are trying to work with NYCHA tenants living along the East River on disaster preparedness. “It’s pretty hard to get people excited about disaster preparedness,” she noted. “Most people don’t even want to think about it. But you can engage them through performance, and with something that’s fun, and which you can take part in at all different levels.” Young concedes she’ll need an army to pull off this event. She’s hoping to recruit hundreds of volunteers to help with everything from sewing sprite costumes to marshaling the parade, distributing postcards, and videotaping and promoting the event on social media. Ultimately, Young hopes the Eco City pageant will illustrate the cumulative value of local actions to strengthen our environment — both to reinforce those efforts and to put pressure on City Hall and Albany to do more. “Both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have pledged to meet the carbon-reduction goals outlined in the Paris Climate Accord, even though [President] Trump pulled out of it,” Young noted. “So they’re financing all these sustainability projects — even though the mayor is doing things like working to destroy the Elizabeth St. Garden [in Nolita]. “It doesn’t make sense,” she said. “So this is about looking at the larger impact of what it means for the city and state to meet our climate goals, so we can have this model to look at and reaffirm it.” For information or to register for the free puppet and costume workshops, visit www.earthcelebrations.com. TheVillager.com


DX`dfe`[\jJZfi\j9\kk\ik_XeDXe_XkkXe?fjg`kXcj`e?\XikMXcm\Jli^\ip The New York State Department of Health just published its annual report on patient outcomes for Adult Cardiac Surgery. It will come as no surprise to New Yorkers that the news for the Maimonides Heart & Vascular Institute is once again outstanding. The report shows mortality rates for several types of cardiac surgery. In the heart valve surgery category, the State commended Maimonides as one of four hospitals with exceptional outcomes. More significantly, the Maimonides cardiac surgery team achieved better rates than any hospital in Manhattan. This is the second year in a row that they were singled out for excellent results. According to Kenneth D. Gibbs, Maimonides President & CEO, “We’ve been successful in large part because world-class doctors choose to practice here, and have built outstanding programs here. This is teamwork at its best.” “We work together daily to provide the very best options for each and every patient,” explains Dr. Greg Ribakove, Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Maimonides. “It’s a privilege to collaborate with so many talented professionals and deliver this level of excellence to the communi-

flects cases performed in 2015. And, in order to give consumers a better idea of the true level of expertise of any one hospital, the state presents the data for both a single year and a three-year period (2013 – 2015). The three-year report helps eliminate “blips” in the data when a statistical cluster of cases—good or bad—causes ;ij% AXZfY J_Xe` c\]k # :_X`i f] :Xi[`fc$ unusual rates for any one year. f^p# Xe[ >i\^ I`YXbfm\ i`^_k # ;`i\Zkfi New York State indicates sigf]:Xi[`fk_fiXZ`ZJli^\ip#Xi\g`Zkli\[`e nificantly better-than-expected outfe\f]k_\knf?pYi`[Fg\iXk`e^IffdjXk comes with a double-asterisk. The DX`dfe`[\jD\[`ZXc:\ek\i% prestigious ** designation received by Maimonides was for the threeties we serve.” year period of 2013 – 2015. The Maimonides Heart & Vascular Institute encompasses experts in 8Yflkk_\DX`dfe`[\j?\Xik cardiology, vascular and endovas- MXjZlcXi@ejk`klk\ cular surgery, anesthesiology, inThe Maimonides Heart & Vascuterventional cardiology, radiology, lar Institute has the collective experelectrophysiology, critical care—and tise to offer patients the latest stratecardiothoracic surgery. Physicians, gies for diagnosing and treating the nurse practitioners, physician as- full spectrum of cardiovascular dissistants, nurses, specialized tech- orders. Among the many elite pronicians and therapists, and other grams and procedures are: healthcare professionals collaborate s¬ 4!62¬0ROCEDURE¬– Transcathwith referring physicians on the care eter Aortic Valve Replacement allows of each and every patient. cardiac experts to repair or replace a faulty heart valve without major sur?fnk_\EPJI\gfikj8i\:i\Xk\[ gery s¬ ,6!$¬ $ESTINATION¬ 4HERAPY – The process of reporting, sorting and risk-adjusting this information The “bridge to transplant” is now a takes time, so the newest report re- permanent option for Heart Failure

patients who don’t qualify for transplant surgery s¬ !ORTIC¬ !NEURYSM¬ 2EPAIR – Virtual Reality Simulation allows vascular surgeons to rehearse each repair in advance, dramatically lowering surgical risks s¬ ! &IB¬ #ONVERGENT¬ 4HERAPY – Atrial Fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm disorder that increases the risk of strokes, is eliminated by radioablation inside and outside the heart Long known for excellence in cardiovascular care, the Heart & Vascular Institute at Maimonides is among the most distinguished in the nation for outstanding patient outcomes. To learn more, call 718-283-8902 or visit www.maimonidesmed.org/heart. Maimonides Medical Center is nationally recognized for clinical excellence across all major specialties. Our accomplished physicians are known for innovation and strengthening our teaching and research programs. With 711 beds, the Medical Center is dedicated to bringing patients the most advanced care available—anywhere. Maimonides continues to grow in response to evolving models of care that better serve patients and families, and is an affiliate of Northwell Health. To learn more, please visit www.maimonidesmed.org. — Maimonides Medical Center

SOUND OFF Write a letter to the editor



March 8, 2018


Arch ’nt yah glad to be reading your community newspaper?

s s i m t n o D g’e issue! a sin l Call ûõüĘöúôĘöùõú To Subscribe! 12

March 8, 2018



Tompkins love triangle; A new hawk horns in


red-tail hawk recently perched on a branch in Tompkins Square Park before swooping down to get a rat for dinner. East Village hawk watchers are aflutter after the New York Post reported on a Tompkins avian love triangle. As the

story goes, a new female, Nora — slammed as “a cheap slut,” by the Post — recently seduced Christo while his faithful lifetime mate, Dora, was away a while rehabbing a wing. Christo and Dora have had a happy relationship together over the past


CALL for more info 718-260-2516

five years, raising 10 eyasses together. But Christo is now said to be two-timing Dora, regularly flying off to mate with Nora, who is reportedly roosting nearby in the Jacob Riis Houses on Avenue D. The three recently had a major aerial scene, with the

trio screeching and flapping at each other. This bird story has more drama than “The Bachelor”! It wasn’t immediately clear who this brooding hawk was in the photo above, but clearly, all three have a lot on their minds, lately — especially Christo!

The Very Rev. Tracey Lind

A Talk by The Very Rev. Tracey Lind Followed by an opportunity for conversaon Join us at Church of the Ascension on March 15 as The Very Rev. Tracey Lind shares the spiritual insights and lessons she has gained from a life complicated by her diagnosis of Frontaltemporal Demena in November 2016.

For 17 years (2000-2017), Tracey served as Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, a thriving and diverse urban congregaon, a center for arts and music, and a gathering place for those devoted to Cleveland and its future. During her tenure, Dean Lind also led the establishment of Greater Cleveland Congregaons and a number of other faith-based and civic iniaves. She also is the author of Interrupted by God: Glimpses from the Edge. For more informaon, visit www.ascensionnyc.org or call Ascension’s parish oce at 212-254-8620. For more informaon about the Very

Thursday, March 15; 7:30 pm Church of the Ascension, 5th Ave & 10th Street TheVillager.com

March 8, 2018


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Lefties just acting out

Subscribe to The Villager

Your Community News Source

Call 718-260-2516 or e-mail pbeatrice@cnglocal.com

We cover “The Cube”!

To The Editor: Re “Yippies vs. Zippies: New Rubin book reveals ’70s counterculture feud” (news article, March 1): These sort of conflicts went on in past centuries — communist groups are a classic example — and still go on in many left, radical and counterculture scenarios. Usually with “alpha” males fighting each other, though “alpha” women are not immune to it, either, whether within male-dominated left and counterculture scenes and groups or within various feminist scenarios (especially regarding the transgender issue). Many of the personalities in groups like the Yippies and Zippies and the Weathermen and the Black Panthers and various feminist and gay groups and even various anarchist groups have longstanding psychological agendas (from childhood onward), which are then acted out within the context of the group. The need for domination, the need for attention, the need to control, the need to always be “right,” etc., anger, lack of self-esteem and so on. The result is conflict, like has been described in this book, though sometimes on a far more violent scale.

Georgette Fleischer Fleischer is president, Friends of Petrosino Square

Do it with diesel! To The Editor: Re “L-pocalpyse No! Plan would add 200 diesel buses” (news article, March 1): Providing an available and reliable public transportation solution is really what this should be about. The New York City Transit chief has the best interests of the residents in mind. Old perceptions about diesel (only seeing it as dirty) and a lack of critical thinking about electric buses (reliability, recharging time and where does the electricity come from and is that clean?) distort objective views. New-technology diesel buses have the most advanced emissions control systems in the world, which virtually eliminate particle emissions and neutralize smog-forming compounds to near-zero levels. They are the most reliable and affordable and available solution for New York City to deliver the most reliable public transport in the fastest amount of time.

Jeff Laster

Glad that Brad’s on it To The Editor: Re “L-pocalpyse No! Plan would add 200 diesel buses” (news article, March 1): As a resident and community activist on the route that will be enduring a predicted 60 additional buses an hour, I am profoundly concerned about environmental impact. I applaud state Senator Brad Hoylman’s concern for his constituents and those outside his district, and his calling for mitigations. Putting this degree of additional exhaust into an already-overburdened area — in our immediate area, we have the congested Williamsburg Bridge-to-Holland Tunnel route — puts the entire population at risk. Recent studies that demonstrate a correlation between exposure to traffic exhaust in the third trimester of pregnancy and autism among babies raise particular concerns for our most vulnerable future citizens.


Allen Schaeffer Schaeffer is executive director, Diesel Technology Forum

Bikes before parked cars To The Editor: Re “Who can claim Jane? Residents or bike riders?” (talking point, by David R. Marcus, March 1): Marcus writes, “The closing of 14th St. to cars will cause already-overburdened very narrow Village, Chelsea and Flatiron side streets to become that much more congested. A two-way protected bikeway on 13th St. will only exacerbate that.” That is not true. The two-way protected bike lane is proposed to be installed on the south side of the 13 St., a space that is currently used to store cars for free 24 / 7 except few hours every week when the cars need to be moved for street cleaning. LETTERS continued on p. 21

The search finally ends — Houston superintendent accepts the job. 14

March 8, 2018


Run clean RNG buses not diesel during L hiatus



t’s a tough challenge figuring out how to move hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from Brooklyn and across Manhattan when the L subway line shuts down next April for 15 months of repairs. But there are better solutions than one, in particular, that the city is now proposing: namely, putting another 200 diesel buses on our streets. Diesel engines are powerful (definitely in comparison to electric engines) and diesel buses are relatively cheap to buy. Yet, diesel buses pollute our air and damage our health and climate. Four years ago, New York City committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (CHG) by 40 percent by 2030 and by 80 percent by 2050. Buying and running hundreds of diesel buses, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority intends to do (it plans to order a total of 600 new buses this year, 590 of which would be diesels), would take us in the opposite direction. That makes no sense, especially when there are better alternatives. State Senator Brad Hoylman advocates experimenting with electric buses. It’s a good idea to see how the technology can work in New York City, and how the high upfront costs of electric buses can be addressed. But there’s an even better and more practical solution, which is not experimental but fully commercial and scalable today: buses powered by “biomethane,” also called renewable natural gas (RNG) fuel. Using these buses along the L train route during the subway line’s outage would allay residents’ concerns about increased noise and air pollution, while helping the city move toward its ambitious climate-change goals. RNG fuel is made by collecting and purifying the methane-rich biogases emitted by decomposing organic wastes, such as food waste, municipal wastewater, farm waste, etc. RNG is chemically similar to conventional natural gas, but it’s not a fossil fuel. Producing it requires no drilling — it’s a fully renewable resource. Buses equipped with new “Near Zero”-emission natural gas engines can burn either conventional natural gas or renewable natural gas. The difference is that RNG has the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of any fuel. Over its life cycle, burning conventional natural gas cuts GHG emissions a modest 22 percent compared to diesel, whereas renewable natural gas cuts TheVillager.com


One of the 295 Near Zero natural gas buses that run on renewable natural gas (RNG) fuel purchased by the Los Angeles Count y Metropolitan Transpor tation Authorit y a.k.a. L A Metro.

them by 70 percent to 300 percent! If that seems impossible, let me explain: Producing RNG involves capturing biogases emitted by decomposing organic wastes — mostly methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Those gases would otherwise escape into the air and warm the climate if they weren’t collected, refi ned and burned as fuel. When food waste or manure is the source of the fuel, more greenhouse gas emissions are captured by producing RNG than are emitted by the buses or trucks using it. So, RNG is actually what is called “net-carbon-negative.”

At least 800 M.T.A. buses could convert to RNG just with a fuel change.

That’s why bus (or truck) fleets that convert to renewable natural gas would meet or exceed New York’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent not several decades from now

in 2050 — but right away. RNG-powered buses and trucks would also improve public health. Certified by the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, emissions from Near Zero engines are 90 percent below E.P.A.-allowable levels for health-damaging nitrogen oxides and particulates. They are also 50 percent to 80 percent quieter than diesel engines. According to a recent study by the University of California at Riverside, no bus or truck is cleaner on a life-cycle basis, not even electric ones, than RNG vehicles. Drivers and residents alike reap the health benefits. Near Zero buses or trucks cost somewhat more than diesels — an additional $40,000 or more per vehicle, depending on the model and features. But these vehicles many benefits, especially when run on RNG fuel, are inspiring fleet owners to adopt them. Los Angeles Metro has purchased 295 Near Zero buses, with an option to convert its entire 2,200 transit bus fleet. Santa Monica’s “Big Blue Bus” fleet has committed to converting completely, and more municipalities are following suit. New York City could do this, too. The city should buy Near Zero buses instead of diesels when it needs new vehicles. But beyond that, there are at least 800 existing M.T.A. buses running on conventional natural gas today. With no modifications whatsoever, they could be running on RNG. A simple change in fuel procurement contracts is all it would take.

There is plenty of renewable natural gas available. More than 20,000 buses and trucks in the U.S. already run on RNG. It could be delivered to New York City buses via refueling stations that deliver conventional natural gas today, at the same price. The M.T.A.’s Spring Creek Depot natural-gas refueling facility is already serving buses in Canarsie, Brooklyn, convenient to the L line. RNG fuel available today comes mostly from out-of-state processing facilities. But in the foreseeable future, the city’s own huge organic-waste streams, which the Department of Sanitation is working hard to collect, could be used to produce the fuel locally. In short, buses with Near Zero engines powered by RNG fuel could help solve the L train problem. And converting other New York City truck and bus fleets to RNG fuel would similarly turn them from net polluters to net reducers of greenhouse gas, while eliminating the health and noise impacts from our traditional reliance on diesel. Again, the city has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 — just 12 years from now. Time is of the essence: We should start using RNG-powered buses and trucks now. Underwood is founder and board member, Energy Vision; Energy Vision is a national environmental NGO that analyzes and promotes clean energy and petroleum-free transportation solutions for a sustainable future March 8, 2018


Ladies in red speaking from the heart on health BY TEQUIL A MINSK Y


he American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon drew more than 1,000 people to the New York Hilton Midtown last Friday to learn about the health risks women face and how they can improve their odds against heart disease and stroke. Each February, the American Heart Association, in partnership with Macy’s, CVS Health, Northwell Health and TransPerfect, sponsors Go Red For Women Month to highlight women’s cardiovascular health. The event opened with a panel discussion, “Resiliency: The Ultimate Way To Live From the Heart,” moderated by Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, attending cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital / Northwell Health. There was also chair yoga, led by Lisa Bondy, who teaches at Northwell Health Wellness, as well as guided meditation during lunch. In addition, the proud winner of this year’s Lifestyle Change Award was Annabelle Jimenez.


A panel discussion, “Resiliency: The Ultimate Way To Live From the Heart,” featured, from left, moderator Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, attending cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital / Northwell Health; Dr. Cheryl Petus, N.Y.U. School of Medicine professor of medicine and population health; upcoming entrepreneur Laura Maniec, cofounder and owner of Corkbuzz wine bars; and Gloria Feldt, a gender-parity expert who is co-founder and president of Take the Lead, as well as a former president and C.E.O. of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Lisa Bondy, left, led relaxing and healing sessions of chair yoga.

Lunch featured tasty fare — and guided meditation.


March 8, 2018

The authors of the recently released, comprehensive book “Hear t Smar t for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S. in Six Weeks to Hear t-Health Living,” from right, Drs. Stacey Rosen and Jennifer Mieres, with Lori Russo. Rosen was medical co-chairperson of Friday’s luncheon. TheVillager.com

‘Cinematic pockets’ of Hell’s Kitchen give grit to ‘Jessica Jones’ Marvel’s complex detective returns to Netflix for a second season

Photo by David Giesbrecht, courtesy of Netflix

Location shoots in the actual neighborhood and elsewhere are used to convey a gritty Hell’s Kitchen reflective of the title character’s tough exterior. Seen here, from the second season, Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse and Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Whether it’s a blended scotch or bourbon, former superhero turned private eye Jessica Jones is never far from a bottle. So where does the protagonist procure the hard stuff? From Sonny’s Grocery, of course, a longtime Hell’s Kitchen bodega that was turned into a liquor store for the second season of “Jessica Jones” — returning to Netflix on March 8 with 13 episodes. Sonel “Sonny” Ramirez, 72, owner of the store for more than 40 years, said the production staff came in, stashed his selection of food in the back, and stocked the shelves with more a 1,000 bottles. TheVillager.com

“People thought I gave up the groceries and turned it into a liquor store,” he said by phone. Filming at the store at 767 10th Ave. (btw. W. 51st & 52nd Sts.) took about a day and a half, and, once completed, everything was put back into place. Ramirez said he got about $13,000 for the shoot. Although the series has traveled elsewhere for its exteriors of Hell’s Kitchen, several other locations in the actual neighborhood show up during this new batch of shows, including the Salvation Army at 536 W. 46th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) and the recently shuttered Hartley House at 413 W. 46th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.), according to

Rocco Nisivoccia, the location manager for the second season. Nisivoccia said the show specifically scouted Hell’s Kitchen locations for its authentic fire escapes and facades. The neighborhood matched the look and the feel of the show, which he called “dark and grim.” “It’s an edgy type of show and we’re trying to stay on the edge for it,” he said by phone. Hell’s Kitchen was “a place that was tough — that resembles Jessica Jones well.” The show filmed in the neighborhood quite often, doing a lot of street work there, according to Nisivoccia. Jessica Jones’ apartment/office in the show (identified as 485 W. 46th St.

during the first season) is a fictitious address, and is actually a building on the Upper West Side, he said. Frank Covino, who was the location manager for the first six episodes of season one, said in an email, “It was clear from the beginning we wanted to find the grittiness and texture that was prominent in Hell’s Kitchen when the neighborhood was mostly working class.” For the first season, the show shot under the High Line, filmed on Eighth Ave., and also used Chelsea’s London Terrace as an establishing shot for one of the show’s reoccurring locations, JESSICA JONES continued on p. 18 March 8, 2018


Sonny’s Grocery on 10th Ave. sells beer every day of the year — but regulars thought the store’s business model had changed, when the “Jessica Jones” crew turned the whole place into a liquor store during a location shoot for the current season.

Photos by Scott Stiffler

Sonel “Sonny” Ramirez also owns Sonny’s 10th Ave. Meat Market (located across the street, it’s visible from his perch behind the counter of Sonny’s Grocery).

JESSICA JONES continued from p. 17

according to Covino. Covino called the once-notorious Midtown neighborhood “the perfect backdrop for our superhero. Cool, gritty exteriors from the comic book era drove our scouting. If you look hard enough there are cinematic pockets in Hell’s Kitchen that still exist and lend itself to the Marvel Universe.” The first comic Jessica Jones appeared in was “Alias,” Max Burbank, 55, told Chelsea Now by phone. (Full disclosure: Burbank also writes a political satire column for this publication.) Burbank has been reading comics and steeping himself in their history since the 1960s, and also works at Harrison’s Comics and Pop Culture in Salem, MA. Jessica Jones’ comic came out under a Marvel imprint called Marvel Max, which was intended for a more mature audience with its language, sex, and violence, Burbank explained. “For a comic, it’s incredibly graphic,” he said. That series ran from 2001 to 2004, and then Jessica Jones was featured in a Marvel series called The Pulse from 2004 to 2006 — though the language is cleaned up, according to Burbank. To capitalize on the show, which debuted on Netflix in late 2015, there was a comic called “Jessica Jones” that came out briefly and ran for a year, he noted. About the show, Burbank said, “I loved it. I thought it was great. It did a really great job adapting the comic.” During season one, Jessica Jones battles Kilgrave — a villain who can control minds and who, at one point, controlled her. David Tennant portrayed Kilgrave, with Burbank saying he brought depth to the character. Jessica Jones and Kilgrave’s “dynamic is one of an abusive relationship,” he said. Indeed, before the current #MeToo movement and a reckoning with sexual assault, consent, and sex, Jessica Jones bluntly calls what happens to her rape. She is not the typical superhero, Burbank noted. She is an active alcoholic, sleeps around, and has a foul mouth.


March 8, 2018

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jessica Jones’ Netflix season one nemesis Kilgrave is known as the “Purple Man” in the comic book.

“The character is so damaged, and, in some ways, unlikeable,” he said. “She’s really an anti-hero.” Burbank said he loves “the nastiness” that Krysten Ritter, who plays Jones, brings to the character. (Representatives for Netflix, Marvel, and Ritter declined multiple requests for a phone or email interview with the actress.) “I love her in that character yet she’s really unpleasant. I would want to hang out with that person but I would hate them,” Burbank said. There are some differences between the comic and the show, he explained, as the show does not explore the main character’s failed attempt to be a superhero, and Kilgrave is called the Purple Man in the comic due to his purple skin. Another difference is in the comic, he said, Jessica Jones’ best friend is Carol

Danvers (Captain Marvel), not Trish Walker, played by Rachael Taylor in the show. Trish and Jessica’s friendship was a core element of season one and continues to be with the new season — kicking off with the detective doing what private eyes do: taking photos of someone’s extracurricular activities. This time, the mark is a pizza delivery man who is having too much fun on his route (much to the chagrin of his girlfriend). Ideas and themes that were hinted at in season one come to the forefront of season two, such as how did Jessica Jones get her power, what and who is behind IGH, and can she defeat a villain who is stronger than she is? But, perhaps, the most daunting task ahead for Jessica Jones will be facing something none of us can escape: the past. TheVillager.com

A â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Wonderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; one hopes will never cease Storeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s success in age of e-books is its own page-turning tale BY JOSH ROGERS A toddler followed her brother and squealed with delight as he held up books she obviously liked. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He asks to come here all the time,â&#x20AC;? Jordana Blitz, the childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother, said on a rainy Saturday afternoon. And her daughter of course enjoyed the visit too. Squeals are a common sound in Books of Wonder, the childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bookstore at the easy-to-remember 18 W. 18th St. Sometimes the sounds are happy, sometimes they are voices of complaint about leaving the store, and sometimes theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re just because thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what children do. Blitzâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s husband, Justin, said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We care about patronizing a local business that isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t owned by CVS. They have the best selection.â&#x20AC;? Shopping local is a common reason customers give for going to the bookstore. Perhaps an even more typical response is that the staff knows books and make great recommendations. A few months ago, a clerk turned me on to the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Inspector Flytrapâ&#x20AC;? series when I asked for something for my four-year-old that â&#x20AC;&#x153;was like â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Captain Awesomeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; [it is, BTW] but geared more for girls.â&#x20AC;? Cryptic or vague requests like that seldom faze the staff. In this case, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Flytrapâ&#x20AC;? proved to be the rare book that appeals to my daughter, and her eight-year-old brother. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My staff is my not-so-secret weapon,â&#x20AC;? Peter Glassman, the storeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s owner, said in a phone interview. Glassman, 58, said unlike the Strand, which gives prospective employees a test, he just talks to them about books to see that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re knowledgeable, and to get a sense of how theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll interact with customers looking for a recommendation. Books of Wonder opened in 1980 at 444 Hudson St. in the Village almost accidentally as a childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bookstore. Glassman, only 20 at the time, said he wanted an antiquarian bookstore, but found he had extra shelf room in the cramped ($400 a month) space. So he put out childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s books and the idea grew. He thought it would be a mix of science fiction/fantasy and childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s books, which is how he hit on â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wonderâ&#x20AC;? to capture both. He moved the store to Chelsea in 1986, and settled at the current location on 18th between Fifth and Sixth Aves. (some may say Chelsea, others Flatiron) 10 years ago. He opened an TheVillager.com

Photo by Josh Rogers

Something e-books and CVS canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t offer: Books of Wonder has a knowledgeable staff seldom fazed by cryptic or vague requests.

Upper West Side store last fall, in part to prepare for a likely move in two or so years. His lease is up at the end of next year, and he wanted to have at least one store to avoid many layoffs in case thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a transition period finding a new Downtown location. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have been very lucky. Most of my landlords have been very reasonable,â&#x20AC;? including the current one, he said. He guesses he wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be able to afford the lease renewal, but is confident heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find another Downtown spot if he has to move. He said the store has had a small drop-off in sales as some of his Uptown customers now have a more convenient option, but thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enough business for two locations. Barnes & Noble never worried him, he said, but Amazon â&#x20AC;&#x153;is a problem because they use their entire book line as a loss leader.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to compete against a behemoth that is willing to lose money in one area. E-books donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t interest or concern him. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People see a value in having something to touch and hold, particularly with childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s books,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They see a value in sharing something with their children.â&#x20AC;? Glassman always loved books, but had to wait until he was 15 before he

got a job in a bookstore. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was the kid who every kidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parent knew to buy me a bookstore gift card for my Bar Mitzvah,â&#x20AC;? he said. Part of the storeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s success, he said, is over the years, renowned authors like Maurice Sendak (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Where the Wild Things Areâ&#x20AC;?) and George Selden (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Cricket in Times Squareâ&#x20AC;?) took a liking to it and helped with appearances and signings. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s particularly proud a little-known British author he calls Jo, came in for a reading 20 years ago during the short window of time before â&#x20AC;&#x153;Harry Potter and Sorcererâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Stoneâ&#x20AC;? reached the best sellers list.

Jo, much better known as J.K. Rowling, creator of a multi-billion dollar book series, â&#x20AC;&#x153;only did two US tours, and we were one of the lucky few who got her twice.â&#x20AC;? Voldemort doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always win. The Downtown location of Books of Wonder is at 18 W. 18th St. (btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves. Call 212-989-3270). The Uptown location is at 217 W. 84th St. (btw. Broadway & Amsterdam Aves. Call 212-989-1804). Store hours for both locations: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Visit booksofwonder.com. Email them at store@booksofwonder.com.

Theater for the New City â&#x20AC;˘ 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net

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For more news and events happening now visit www.TheVillager.com


March 8, 2018


Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 14

This is a change of street space use —from storing vehicles to moving people on an efficient, quiet mode of transportation in a safe way. And please stop spreading all this nonsense about “minions, bicycle zealots and well-financed foes.” I live in this community with my family. I don’t own a car and I need street space to ride with my family safely on the street. Marcus writes, “Neighborhood residents... are only asking for the continued right to the quiet enjoyment of their communities and streets.” I want that, too; but I ask to limit the usage of polluting, noisy and unsafe vehicles in residential streets in order to achieve it. Choresh Wald

Rolls with sarcasm To The Editor: Re “Who can claim Jane? Residents or bike riders?” (talking point, by David R. Marcus, March 1): It’s about time someone stood up to those nonpaid activists! Their Trojan horse, a two-way bikeway on 13th St., is just a backdoor attempt to make sure that the area can handle the high anticipated volume of cyclists in a way that reduces the chances of death and injury. Consider the absurdity of the premise that streets built for pedestrians, then rebuilt for horses, then rebuilt for horsecars, then rebuilt for bicycles, then rebuilt for streetcars, and then rebuilt for cars and buses should now again be modified with paint for bicycles. What’s next? Exclusive lanes for buses? Streetcars again? Wider sidewalks for people walking? Even Jane Jacobs would have seen the preposterousness of her place on our streets as she daily rode her bike back and forth across the Village. The real architects behind this plan aren’t from the New York City Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit or even Transportation Alternatives. The fingerprints of Big Wheel are all over this project. They don’t care one iota about our city or the people in it, even though the plan seeks to efficiently move as many people as possible from Brooklyn to Manhattan. It is the selflessness of people like those

in the 100 W. 13th St. Block Association who have the needs of all New Yorkers in mind. They preciously defend their parking spots on 13th St. not for themselves, but for all New Yorkers who will never park on the street since most of us don’t drive. If only more New Yorkers would courageously defend those who would defend their parking spaces for all of us. Brian Howald

Ferry good news To The Editor: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement of new ferry service for residents of the Lower East Side to start later this year is good news. There is more potential money available to include other communities and provide free transfers to both bus and subways. De Blasio still needs to convince the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board to support his fare structure of $2.75 per ride along with cross-honoring a free transfer to a bus or subway using the current M.T.A. MetroCard. Last October, the M.T.A. awarded a $573 million contract to Cubic Transportation Systems to replace the MetroCard. Between 2019 and 2023, new fare-collection technology will be coming online for both subway and commuter rail riders. Why not include ferry riders, as well? More New Yorkers will be able to enjoy the fresh air and breeze at a reasonable price that only waterborne transportation can provide. Riding a ferry can be less stressful than being packed in a subway car like sardines in a can. Larry Penner Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

Sound off! To Advertise Here Call: 646-452-2490 TheVillager.com

Write a letter to the editor news@thevillager.com March 8, 2018



March 8, 2018



Mark Merker at his reopened Benny’s Burritos & Empanadas, at 86 E. Seventh St.

Benny’s Burritos is reborn on E. Seventh St. BY R AINER TURIM


iss eating burritos at Benny’s Burritos on Avenue A? Well, you’re in luck, because Mark Merker, the owner of the former Benny’s and Harry’s Burritos has renamed Che Cafe, his recently opened empanada shop at 86 E. Seventh St., Benny’s Burritos & Empanadas. “I miss Benny’s and I’ve been developing a idea for new burritos,” explained Merker, who was recently cited in New York Magazine for “Best Cheap Eats.” “So, I decided that I would change back to Benny’s Burritos and add the empanadas.” In addition to the name change, Merker has a new business partner, Scott Brooks. “Scott is a person who’s been involved with branding names and different backgrounds in business,” Merker said, “an entrepreneur, which at this point is very important.” Unfortunately, Che Cafe, located just west of First Ave., wasn’t receiving the same consistent business through the harsh cold weather, leading to some financial problems, leaving Merker to rethink the business. “Che was good until that change in weather, and we just didn’t have the funds to maintain ourselves through those times, about three months,” Merker reflected. “But, before that, we were growing every day. And so, it was just a matter of finanTheVillager.com

cial that we weren’t able to do that.” The name change comes less than four years after Benny’s Burritos closed its restaurant on Avenue A, before moving to takeout service there for a short period and then closing its doors.

Customers should expect healthier food at the new Benny’s Burritos & Empanadas than the past menu and a “newer version of what the burrito should be now,” said Merker. The founder of the East Village eatery

has more than 35 years’ experience in Mexican restaurant management. His new partner Brooks was excited to get working on what he called “a healthier spin on what [Merker] has done in the past.” Being a former customer of Benny’s Burritos on Avenue A, Brooks said, “It’s exciting to be part of the new branding and the new growth path that he has. I’ve lived in the East Village before he started. I live two blocks away.” Longtime customers will know that this is not Merker’s first time on E. Seventh St. In 1987, the current empanada and burrito enthusiast opened Harry’s Burritos, one block east of where Merker opened Che Cafe. Merker added that the rent on Avenue A was “just prohibitive,” and that the only way he could have possibly stayed in his space there would have been if there had been “a new landlord.” Regardless, Merker’s story is a rare one, especially considering the recent closings of such iconic places as JAM Paper Store and the Grassroots Tavern. Jeremiah Moss, a “Sunday night regular” at the former Benny’s Burritos, a local blogger and author of the recent book “Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul,” wrote that he was heartened that Benny’s Burritos had “un-vanished.” “I’m excited,” he posted, “that some things that vanish can reappear.” March 8, 2018










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SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2018







SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2018




• No se puede estacionar desde10:00 a. m.hasta las 10:00 a. m. del domingo 18 de marzo

• El cierre de la callle comenzará a las 6:30 a. m. La calle se reabrirá a las 11 a. m.









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2018年3月18日星期日 不得停车/拖车


2018 年 3 月 17 日星期六


• 上午 10:00 至3 月 18 日星期日上 午 10:00 不得停车

• 早上6:30起封路 道路将于上午 11:00恢复正常

沿 EAST BROADWAY 公路在 RUTGERS 街由 • 东至西向入口。


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March 8, 2018


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