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Competing Pride Marches in 2019? 06

No Excuse Not to Vote 10

Legal Pot Moves on Two Fronts 14


The foundation for the 800-foot tower that Gamma Real Estate plans to build at 430 E. 58th St.

In E. 58th St. Tower Fight, Debate Over Who’s Ahead BY SYDNEY PEREIRA An Upper East Side community group is claiming a small victory in its legal battle against a tower under construction on E. 58th St. But that victory, the developer counters, is nothing more than a mere coincidence due to the project’s construction timeline. The East River Fifties Alliance (ERFA) — which has battled against Gamma Real Estate’s proposed 64-story tower since 2015 — is elated the developer’s attorneys have acknowledged in court that planned construction would not violate the neighborhood’s 2017 rezoning until well into 2019. Opponents of the project at 430 E. 58th St. are voicing confidence that timeline will allow them the breathing room to legally block the tower from rising to 800 feet. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, a project opponent, argues the developer’s court filing suggests it is aware that opponents have the stronger legal argument. Gamma Real Estate proceeding with a “toweron-a-base” approach to the project that complies with the recent rezoning, he said, is a clear indication the developer doesn’t want to take any chances that the New York State Supreme Court will rule against the tower’s height. “Developers who build as-of-right don’t hedge their bets,” said Kallos, adding, “Even they know we will likely win.” The legal clash playing out in court hinges on TOWER FIGHT continued on p. 5

November 1 — 14, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 22

Photo by Sydney Pereira

Supertall buildings sprouting up on the south side of Central Park.

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Upper West Side City Councilmember Mark Levine is betting that his proposal for a task force to study the impact of building shadows will win support on his second try, three years after the measure languished in the Council. The bill — which Levine reintroduced two weeks ago — would create a task force to study the impact that new building construction would have on public parks. That task force would issue a report with recommendations for addressing possible shadow impacts on park spaces and the kind of development that should be permitted. “We understand that we need to continue building in the city, but we can do it in a way that accounts for sunlight,” Levine said. “My point in putting forward this bill is that protection of our green spaces has been totally left out of how the city has planned the built environment.” Levine’s Upper West Side colleague Helen Rosenthal and the Upper East Side’s Ben Kallos, both fighting tall buildings in their own districts, have also signed on. Speaker Corey Johnson’s spokesperson Breeana

Mulligan said only that Johnson “will monitor the bill” through the legislative process. The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The legislation was inspired by a growing concern in Midtown and on the Upper East and West Sides about how new “supertalls” are impacting Central Park, especially at its south end — including Extell’s 1,000-foot building, One57, at 157 W. 57th St. and Seventh Ave., completed in 2014, CIM Group’s 1,400-foot tower at 432 Park Ave. and E. 57th St., completed in 2015, and JDS Development Group’s Steinway Tower at 111 West 57th St., currently under construction and expected to rise to more than 1,400 feet. “We need to urgently equip ourselves with better zoning tools,” Layla Law-Gisiko, the chair of Community Board 5’s Central Park Sunshine Task Force, said in a written statement. “A task force will help identify the best mitigating solutions to protect parks from shadow encroachment.” In 2013, the Central Park Conservancy told Politico SHADOWS continued on p. 24


Community Rallies so Rent Spike Won’t BY WINNIE McCROY After learning that rent hikes are likely to shutter their beloved Drama Book Shop in early 2019, longtime customers are rallying to support the 100year-old independent store, which stocks thousands of plays, serves as a go-to gathering place for passionate patrons of the arts, and even plays host to a black box theater in its basement — and has been doing so from its 5,000-squarefoot location since 2001 (250 W. 40th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves; visit dramabookshop.com). “Space is very expensive in New York right now. There are a lot of expensive vacant shops. Just on this stretch of 40th Street, three major businesses closed in the past few weeks: the wonderful falafel shop, Maoz; Elegant Fabrics, which has been there my whole life; and Guy & Gallard, a lunch place that had lines out the door all day long. Their leases came up, and they’re gone,” said vice-president Allen Hubby, who first began working at Drama Book Shop as a clerk/cashier in 1977. His aunt Rozanne Seelen has

Photo by Winnie McCroy

L to R: Book buyer Eleanore Speert, author David Finkle, and Drama Book Shop vice president Allen Hubby.

owned it since his uncle died; the uncle got a third ownership in 1957, when the previous owner retired. Since they’ve been on W. 40th St., said Hubby, the monthly rent on the


Drama Book Shop rose from $4,000 to $18,500. And when their lease runs out on Jan. 31, 2019, the landlord’s proposed 50 percent rent hike will prohibit them from staying. But local elected officials have vowed to help. “Another drama is unfolding with our small business industry in the city. The script repeats itself. A thriving small shop forced to close its curtains or to relocate because of skyrocketing rent,” said NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “My office has spoken with Allen Hubby with the Drama Book Shop, an institution in the Theater District and for all theater and Broadway aficionados, and we have committed our help to keep their doors open in this community. When a small business shuts down, we lose a part of New York City, and this is why the City Council is currently working on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act in an

effort to protect mom-and-pop shops across the five boroughs.” When this publication visited during their Save the Shop Event on Mon., Oct. 29, author David Finkle was at the counter, signing copies of his book, “Humpty Trumpty Hit a Brick Wall: Donald J. Trump’s First White House Year in Verse.” Finkle said it’s a collection of poems: one per day from Jan. 20, 2017 to Jan. 20, 2018, written as a way to deal with his despair. Finkle was there to help. “We are hoping to do panels or symposia with some prominent theatre people about how much this shop means to them,” Finkle noted. When asked when these panels would happen, he said, “The sooner the better.” In the back, Hubby was welcoming playwrights — including Dan Goggin, Alex Dinelaris, Eric Ulloa and Eric Bogosian — to sign copies of their plays. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage was rumored to be planning a visit later that evening. Said Bogosian, “When you first moved to New York, this was the hangout where everyone went to find out what was up, who had dibs on what, and to look in the booklets to see what was coming up and what was cancelled. This was the only place that existed to buy some of these plays. That’s why we came then, and why we’re all out here today trying to save Drama Book Shop.” As the conversation moved to money, Goggin reminisced about his early days as a singer in the Broadway production of “Luther,” starring Albert Finney, saying, “Back in 1963, the tickets for that show were $10. And I remember when we had to move the show to the LuntFontaine because ‘Hello, Dolly!’ was

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On November 14, a public hearing will be held in the City Council Committee Room, 2nd Floor, City Hall, Manhattan, for the purpose of considering a local law which authorizes an increase in the annual amount to be expended in the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID), not to exceed $2.75 million for FY19. The BID is proposing a threeyear phased assessment increase of up to $3.25 million by FY21.

CN: 11/01/2018 2

November 1, 2018

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Write Drama Book Shop’s Final Act promised our space, the director told us they’d be raising the price to $11, and we all said the show would close immediately. Then years later, when the tickets for ‘Nunsense’ were raised from $35 to $37, they all said the same thing. But people kept coming. I guess that’s just how things go.” In the wings, aspiring playwright Hayley St. James, a student at Marymount Manhattan College, waited patiently to speak to Bogosian and other idols. She told us, “I’ve been coming to Drama Book Shop since I started seeing shows here because there are no other stores like it. A world without Drama Book Shop just doesn’t seem right.” The event was planned to help loyal customers donate to the bookstore’s relocation fund — hopefully, to another location nearby that likely won’t offer nearly as much space. “We have some possibilities that are looking interesting, but it’s all about finding out if the finances will work and getting a deal,” Hubby said. “We’re looking at some interesting things, and we’ll probably know more by next week. There’s one possibility we’re looking at, but we might need to get an extension on our lease” to make it work. In addition, on Oct. 24, patron Nina Kauffman created a GoFundMe campaign, which has already reached more than $6,899 of its $20,000 goal. The store, which celebrated its 100th birthday last October, has moved a half-dozen times before, but the 40th St. location has been its longest home. Said Hubby, “It’s amazing! The outpouring of support we’ve gotten from the theatre community is overwhelming.

But we don’t like to have to ask for help, because we’re here to help others — it’s our reason for existing. So it feels awkward for things to be in the reverse.” In 2016, when a pipe burst and wiped out 30 percent of the store’s inventory, Lin-Manuel Miranda — who reportedly wrote part of “In the Heights” in the bookstore’s downstairs offices — launched a fundraising effort to help. “And this is even more outpouring than for the flood,” added former general manager Nancy Reardon. “Back when the water main broke a few years ago, the store was closed for a few months. It was like hell froze over! I love this store, and my dream is to have my plays published and sold here,” said student St. James, who said she would spend her hours until curtain rose at “The Prom” hanging out at the shop. But patrons will not let the Drama Book Shop go gentle into that good night. As arts writer David Noh said, “It was a haven for both book and theater lovers, where I never left without purchasing something… I got everything from an essential bio of Eva Le Gallienne there to a rare copy of the joint memoir by Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin, to Kohle Yohannan’s magnificent coffee table tome about that greatest of designers, Valentina. All for a song.” “On top of which there was usually a box of freebies at the front, which contained the real kinds of goodies no one was supposed to want enough to buy,” he continued. “Hello?! ZaSu Pitts’ cookbook? Yes! And then there was that lovely dog to pet. New York is once more all the poorer for the passing of someplace special.”

Photos by Winnie McCroy

Customers came out in droves to support the Drama Book Shop.

L to R: Playwrights Dan Goggin, Alex Dinelaris, Eric Ulloa, and Eric Bogosian signed their work and spoke with customers, at the Oct. 29 event.

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November 1, 2018


Faith Leaders, UN’s Guterres Unite to Call for End to Hate and Violence

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Hundreds stood united on Oct. 31 at Park East Synagogue, to remember the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue and take a stand against religious intolerance and bigotry.

BY LESLEY SUSSMAN A who’s who of some of the city’s top-ranking faith leaders, statespersons, and civic and political leaders attended a gathering on the morning of Wed., Oct. 31, at Park East Synagogue, on the Upper East Side, to remember the massacre, and denounce all acts of violence and hate that have occurred throughout the nation. Among those who attended the gathering, at 163 E. 67th St., were Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York; Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America; United Nations SecretaryGeneral Antonio Guterres; New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill; and Archbishop Bernardito Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. Other notable personages who attended the meeting to speak out against religious intolerance and bigotry were Reverend Clifton Daniel III, dean of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine; Sheikh Musa Drammeh, chairperson of the Islamic Cultural Center of North America; and Dani Dayan, consul general of Israel in New York. More than 200 people attended the memorial, which was co-organized by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith partnership of corporate and spiritual leaders. Since 1965, the foundation has worked on behalf of religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. The event’s other co-organizer was United Against Hate, a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization composed of people seeking to blot out hateful speech and actions. On Wednesday,


November 1, 2018

meanwhile, New Yorkers continued to beat the drum against anti-Semitism and religious and racial bigotry at a noontime rally on the steps of City Hall attended by a coalition of city councilmembers, faith-based leaders and advocacy groups. Speakers expressed solidarity with the city’s Jewish community. At Park East Synagogue, Senior Rabbi Arthur Schneier, founder and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, told the audience that he was a Holocaust survivor who had seen his synagogue in Germany burned to the ground by the Nazis while police and firemen stood by and did nothing. “I thank our police forces for the protection against harm they are providing us,” he said. “How good it is that they and everyone else — including members of Congress — are together as one and here, today, to promote peace in the world and remember the people who were killed in Pittsburgh.” Cardinal Dolan told the audience, “We are not afraid.” UN Secretary-General Guterres remarked that he fears the rise of neoNazism throughout the world. “Anti-Semitism is the oldest and most persistent form of hatred in the world,” he said. “Jews are being persecuted and attacked just for being who they are. I see the roots of neo-Nazism growing.” Archbishop Demetrios said he had “no proper words to express my sorrow and condemnation for the event that happened in Pittsburgh. “We must continue God’s dream for the world to put an end to division and hatred,” he said. “We must help create God’s dream of unity and peace for this world.” City Media LLC

TOWER FIGHT continued from p. 1

whether Gamma’s tower should be grandfathered under zoning that existed prior to new regulations ERFA successfully pushed for the neighborhood last year. The new zoning requires that roughly half of the building’s density be below 150 feet, and that it be designed as a “tower-on-a-base.” Gamma’s Jonathan Kalikow called ERFA and Kallos’ claims that its court filing represented victory — or any retreat from the project’s proposed design — bunk. The building’s construction timeline, he explained, would not reach a height in violation of the new zoning restrictions until next year, well after an expected Dec. 11 decision by the State Supreme Court judge hearing ERFA’s suit. Gamma has said any halt to construction pending the outcome of the case would cost it $5 million a month. Its lawyers argued in court that due to its construction timeline, opponents of the project would not suffer any “irreparable harm” prior to the judge ruling. “This representation reflects the fact that construction of the building’s above-grade components is only beginning,” Kalikow said by email. “It does not reflect any lack of confidence on the developer’s part in its right to complete this project and in the overwhelming nature of the evidence establishing its right to do so, nor does it reflect any commitment or obligation on the developer’s part to refrain from proceeding with its project past any particular stage of completion.” Kalikow added, “To the extent that ERFA suggests otherwise, ERFA is misrepresenting the facts.” The neighborhood group has been fighting the proposed project since the former developer, Bauhouse Group, fi rst proposed a 1,000-foot tower. Gamma Real Estate foreclosed on Bauhouse, taking control of the site and proposing instead an 800-foot building. When the E. 58th St. tower was first in the works, ERFA was formed specifically to fight against it and rezone

Photo by Sydney Pereira

A 47-story residential tower across the street from the Gamma Real Estate project, where some of its opponents live.

the neighborhood to prevent what the group has described as “out-of-context” buildings. The rezoning passed the City Council on Nov. 30, 2017 — the critical date by which the developer had to have a “significant” portion of its foundation work finished in order to be grandfathered under the old zoning. Gamma sought permits from the Departments of Buildings (DOB) and Transportation (DOT) to work afterhours and temporarily close streets,

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which ERFA and Kallos argue were illegal permits that allowed the developer to race to complete the work before the rezoning vote. Kalikow said Kallos’ statements about the city agencies’ permits were “false and defamatory.” He did not respond to follow-up questions about the implications of calling Kallos’ statements “defamatory” — a legal term used in libel lawsuits. For his part, Kallos said that evidence of proper street closure signage,

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proper notice to the community, and public safety justification for the afterhours permits has yet to be provided by Gamma. “The developer has not shown me proof positive why something that you can do during regular hours needs to be done after hours for public safety reasons,” Kallos said. “That’s the part I’m most hung up on. If you tell me you can only do foundation work after hours, then that’s fine. Do it on a Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but then don’t spend the other five days a week doing that same foundation work.” The developer is dismissing the fight over after-hours work permits, arguing that the foundation would have been mostly completed regardless of the lastminute work on Saturdays during the month the Council voted on the rezoning. Even without counting the work done on those days, some 70 percent of the foundation would have been complete, according to documents Gamma filed in the case. Both the DOT and the DOB have have defended the validity of the permits, and in June, the Board of Standards and Appeals greenlighted the project. After the BSA decision, ERFA filed an Article 78 suit — a legal challenge to decisions made by government agencies — in New York State Supreme Court. “We have taken the fight to the courts, and away from agencies that have long been influenced by the power of the real estate development industry,” ERFA’s president, Alan Kersh, said in a written statement. Whether the Article 78 suit will actually stop the tower remains to be seen — but is a question that could be settled by the court ruling next month. Kallos is confident that ERFA can win based on the community’s successful rezoning. “The previous developer never thought the community would be able to do a rezoning,” he said. “We did it. This developer thought he’d be able to pour the foundation before the community could finish their zoning. We beat them.”

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November 1, 2018


HOP Critics Plan Separate 2019 Civil Rights March BY DUNCAN OSBORNE A coalition that has been challenging the producer of New York City’s annual Pride Parade to limit the corporate presence in that event is calling for a separate “civil rights march” in 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. “LGBTQ+ resistance and liberation are woven through the decades-long history of Pride, and we must honor that and continue the fight on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion,” said Ann Northrop, a longtime activist and member of the Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC), in an Oct. 16 press release. Heritage of Pride (HOP), which produces the city’s annual Pride Parade and related events, has been under fire by activists since 2017 when it reluctantly admitted a resistance contingent to the parade. That contingent showcased community opposition to Donald Trump, a celebrity who won the White House in 2016. This year, activists unsuccessfully sought to limit the police and corporate presence in the parade and the policing of the parade. Among other demands, activists sought a resistance contingent this year, which they won. At the start of this year’s organizing, there was a clear understanding among the RPC members that they were also focused on the 50th anniversary.’ RPC members have attended HOP public meetings and have held private meetings with the organization, as well, seeking to change the tenor of next year’s parade. Publicly, RPC members have said that HOP organizers are little more than party planners who have no interest in the LGBTQ community’s history or politics. Activists sought a 2019 march that looks more like the early marches that featured community groups and small businesses that if not LGBTQ-owned were directly serving the queer community. “They are not willing to do that,” Northrop told Schneps Community News Group, referring to HOP. The first march marking the 1969 riots happened in 1970. Since then, the event has been contested both within and from outside the LGBTQ community. HOP was incorporated in 1985 and there have been persistent complaints about the corporate presence in the parade. In recent years, corporate sponsors, whose cash funds much of the parade and related events, have


November 1, 2018

Photos by Donna Aceto

The Resistance contingent in this year’s LGBTQ Pride Parade.

Ann Northrop at a Reclaim Pride town hall on May 4.

Sheri Clemons at a June 5 town hall hosted by Heritage of Pride.

been allowed to purchase a spot at the front of the parade. While community groups still comprise most of the parade contingents, the corporations dominate the event with large floats and many marchers. The RPC will have an organizing meeting for its 2019 march on December 5 at the People’s Forum on West 37th Street. Northrop told Schneps Community News Group that the city is receptive to the march. She has been contacted by the city’s Office of Citywide Events Coordination and Management, and Corey Johnson, the out gay speaker of the City Council, has expressed his support. “I actually think that it would be more powerful to have something for Stonewall 50 more in line with the March for our Lives and the Women’s March,” Johnson said on the October 3 episode of “Gay USA,” the weekly cable program. “I don’t like all the corporations having the big floats and being at the front of the parade ahead of everyone else… That’s not in the spirit of the gay rights movement and what we did.” Northrop hosts Gay USA with Andy Humm, a Scneps Community News Group contributor. Johnson was a guest co-host on that episode. “They are all totally friendly to our march,” Northrop told Schneps Community News Group. “The sticking point is the scheduling.” The RPC members are also object2019 PRIDE continued on p. 23 City Media LLC




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November 1, 2018



Frank Nervo: Judges Need Legal Smarts, Empathy BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Frank Nervo was raised in Queens, and moved to Greenwich Village in 1995. He graduated from Queens College in 1983 and St. John’s University School of Law in 1987, and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1988. Nervo was first elected to Civil Court in 2009, serving in Criminal Court and Civil Court before being appointed an acting Supreme Court justice (Civil branch) in January 2014. Nervo’s family was originally from the Village. His grandparents’ family bakery was at 44 MacDougal St., at King St., from the turn of the last century until the mid-1960s. Before his election to Civil Court, Nervo served as coordinator of the Village Independent Democrats’ free legal housing clinic; volunteer attorney with the Lesbian and Gay Law Association’s free legal clinic from 2004 through 2008; Small Claims Court arbitrator 1994 through 2008, and for the past six years has been the mock-trial coach for the Stuyvesant High School trial team.

Frank Nervo.

Schneps Community News Group: What are a Civil Court judge’s and Supreme Court justice’s primary duties? NERVO: Civil Court judges make rulings about the admissibility in court of evidence — such as documents, photos and who may be called as a witness in a particular case. Basically, what evi-




November 1, 2018

Photo by Steven DeCastro

dence the judge or jury can consider. Civil Court judges also often make the final determination in matters involving disputes of up to $25,000. Often these cases address financial or employment contracts, as well as accidents and other matters known as “torts,” such as defamation claims and physical injuries resulting from assaults and battery. Civil Court judges also handle residential and commercial landlord/tenant disputes. At a jury trial, it is the judge’s responsibility to preside impartially, make rulings only as to the evidence a jury may hear or see, and provide the jury with the law that applies to the case. Civil Court judges also preside over Small Claims Court, which has jurisdiction over claims of up to $5,000. In Supreme Court — New York’s highest-level trial court — the judges do much the same thing, but involving claims with no limit to the amount of money. Supreme Court also handles matrimonial (divorce) cases; mentalhygiene law matters, involving patients that are involuntarily hospitalized; cases involving real estate taxes and other property-related and real estate issues; allegations of discrimination in housing or employment; guardianship of incapacitated people, and other constitutional and administrative law matters. What made you want to be a judge? I have always had a concern for people’s civil and other legal rights. I spent more than 20 years trying cases in court on a nearly daily basis, representing people in the prosecution or defense of civil claims. What is a good background for being a judge? Before becoming judges, some had

a long tenure within the courts’ law departments or as an attorney assigned to a particular judge; some with government agencies or the Legislature; some were associates or partners of law firms (large and small); a few, like myself, had been immersed for many years in civil, criminal and family law or corporate and business litigation representing parties in the trial and appellate courts. The study of law and solid professional experience in any discipline of law will, in combination, provide a judge with a very valuable and useful background. The maxim is that law school teaches its students how to “think like a lawyer.” This is very true and, “thinking like a lawyer” is an indispensable skill for any judge. What are other skills needed? The most important skills for judges, particularly in our trial courts, are the ability to have empathy with people’s problems, to discern the true areas of disagreement between the parties, and to be able to effectively address those disputes, whether by working out a settlement or conducting a trial. What is your favorite part about being a judge? Getting to a resolution of the parties’ dispute, whether by a settlement or a decision of the court or a jury’s verdict. At a case’s conclusion there is often, in a very real sense, closure to an issue that had been a major part of people’s lives for some period of time. A significant part of this is providing the parties with an opportunity to be heard, and with the confidence that they have in fact been heard fairly and completely, and have had their day in court. In family law matters, there is also the satisfaction of knowing your decision will provide some order or structure to the parties’ often tumultuous personal lives, putting them on a path to moving forward, hopefully more peacefully. What is your least favorite thing about being a judge? It is difficult to tell an indisputably seriously injured person that they missed a legal deadline for filing a claim and, therefore, the law will not permit their case to go forward. Such deadlines, known as “statutes of limitations,” are hard and fast. This is why it is important for people to consult a qualified attorney as soon as they think they may have a legal right that they should pursue. City Media LLC



Manhattan Health & Wellness

New Center Brings Thyroid Care to Union Square BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Mount Sinai has launched a new, comprehensive thyroid center in Union Square that gathers specialists in both diagnosing and treating thyroid disease and thyroid cancer all under the same roof. This multidisciplinary facility at 10 Union Square East — which Mount Sinai says is the first in Manhattan and the Northeast — streamlines the process for patients when they are first diagnosed with thyroid disease or cancer. With endocrinologists, radiologists, surgeons, and pathologists all in the same center, patients can see every doctor they need to in one place. Biopsy results come back quicker as well, thanks to inhouse testing. “It basically eliminates ‘fragmented care,’ ” said Maria Brito, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Fragmented care, she said, is a problem that arises when “you’re seeing doctors of different specialties for a condition in which perhaps they don’t communicate with each

Courtesy of Mount Sinai Health System

Ribbon cut, care available: Mount Sinai says their new facility is the first of its kind in the Northeast.

other, or there are delays in information between one to the other.” In addition to hampering treatment, “that also creates a degree of uncertainty for the patient,” said Brito, who will co-direct the center with Terry Davies, professor of endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at the Icahn school. But at Mount Sinai’s Union Square

thyroid center, most of the doctors’ patients need to see all work together in one place. “There are some patients who will never have to leave the building for their thyroid care completely,” Brito said. In addition to providing better treatment, doctors at the center will also be able to focus on research of thyroid con-

ditions in both clinical and lab settings. The center aims to maintain a 72-hour new-patient appointment policy, where a patient will see a doctor no more than three days from when they first call. Because of the rise in diabetes nationwide, endocrinology appointments fill up quickly, said Brito, but so far, they’ve been able to meet that 72-hour policy goal. Three surgeons from the Icahn medical school, Mark Urken, William Inabnet, and Eugene Friedman will also be based at the center, but the doctors make a point to offer effective non-surgical alternatives as well. A procedure known as “ethanol ablation,” for example, uses an injection of alcohol to destroy a tumor, rather than radiation or chemotherapy, or removing it surgically, and can also treat benign cysts without surgery. It’s a treatment option that could have particular appeal to busy Manhattanites, according to Brito. “You’re out the door, and you’re back to work,” she said.

©2018 VNSNY

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November 1, 2018


There’s No Excuse Not to Vote,

Photo by Sam Bleiberg

Melodie Bryant has volunteered writing postcards to voters and campaigning for politicians outside of her district.


November 1, 2018

BY SAM BLEIBERG If the primary elections were any indication, New Yorkers are prepared to reverse the state’s trend of declining voter turnout with the upcoming midterms. Politically engaged citizens of all ages in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen shared their motivations for voting with us, ahead of the general election on November 6. Over the past several elections, New York has lagged in the bottom half of states in voter turnout. In the 2014 midterm elections, New York ranked 48th in turnout rate. Democracy gathered major momentum with the September primary elections, in which turnout more than doubled from the 2014 gubernatorial primary race. Voters at the polls in September cited national politics as a force driving their decision to show up. If enthusiasm carriers over to the general election, New York voters can turn around a poor turnout record dating to the start of this century. Melodie Bryant, a Chelsea resident in her 60s, will be going to the polling sites with national politics on her mind. “There are too many issues to mention, but probably foremost is reining in a dangerous president whose party seems unwilling to check him,” she said. “Nationally I’m excited about the prospect of Democrats taking control of the House, and hopefully even the Senate, and reining in this dangerous administration.” At the same time, area voters are quick to emphasize the importance of elections at the state level and their impact on day-to-day life. “Locally, I’m really excited at the prospect of turning the New York Senate blue. Getting Democratic control in Albany is the only way to get the money for the MTA,” Bryant added. Lori Weil, a 27-year-old resident of Hell’s Kitchen, said she does not discount the importance of local elections. “My thought about the importance of voting whether it’s statewide or nationwide is generally the same: the people you vote for can affect your money, your healthcare, your rights, your access to different things,” she said. Weil also pointed out that state elections can be just as impactful as federal elections on issues she feels strongly about. “Gun policy and abortion specifically are issues that can be easier to tackle at the state level,” Weil noted. “It may seem that states don’t have as

much authority regarding something like immigration, but major policies for gun control and abortion can happen at the state level.” Some listed their families as formative influences on their voting habits. Limongi grew up in Hell’s Kitchen. Both her parents came to America as undocumented immigrants, eventually receiving their citizenship with help from the McManus Midtown Democratic Club. “Once that happened, voting was a thing for them,” Limongi noted. “Whether it be local or the primaries, we made it a family affair. ‘Did you vote? Let’s go vote. We’ll do it together.’ I clearly saw the importance of participating in elections. I was inspired by them.” Her family’s civic engagement eventually translated to a career in politics. Limongi works as press secretary for New York’s City Council. She observed her parents, who have lived in the same apartment in Hell’s Kitchen for 40 years, watching the news and reading newspapers to understand local politics. From her current perspective inside city politics, she understands the impact of elections on communities. “I ask people all the time, did you register to vote and they say, ‘Oh, it’s not the presidential election. No, you have no idea how important local elections are,” she said. “Every vote counts. It’s not just hyperbole. It literally counts.” Activists and pundits have turned their eyes to young voters, hoping to mobilize a demographic that historically votes at a low rate. In the 2014 midterm elections, only 16 percent of those eligible under 30 voted, according to the United States Elections Project. Increased registration among voters under 30 has drawn attention following youth-led nationwide protest movements. The question remains whether registrations will translate to voters on Election Day. James Kuntz, a 17-year-old junior at The Dalton School, started an organization called Teens in Politics to help young people find positions within political offices. He believes in the importance of getting involved in politics as early as possible to establish a habit of voting. “There’s a generational disconnect between politicians who are usually older, and they don’t think they can make a difference with their vote,” he said, citing the reasons young people may be turned off from voting. “That’s City Media LLC

Say These West Side Residents exactly why we’re targeting young people with Teens in Politics to establish that interest in politics when they are young.� One young Chelsea resident’s early exposure to politics led him to continue in the field full-time. Wyatt Frank, 22, grew up in Penn South and interned in Tom Duane’s office after high school. After interning in Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office during college, he now works on scheduling and advance for NYC Council Speaker Johnson. He believes that many young people may not realize how much of an impact they can have. “A lot of people see things and think, maybe this could be better or wonder how this gets done. They just don’t follow up,� he said. “I recently brought my friend to a local Democratic club meeting. I told him that If he had some sort of issue he wanted to work on he could bring a few friends to the meeting, pitch it, and make something happen. I think that for him was eye opening how easy and straightforward it is.� Although Frank recalls his family emphasizing the importance of voting

Photo by Sam Bleiberg

Wyatt Frank grew up in Penn South and got involved with politics after high school, working up to a current position with Speaker Corey Johnson’s office.

growing up, they don’t make a family affair out of voting because he typically volunteers from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on election days. Bryant participates in other campaigns to help get out the vote. “Because my Democratic State reps are running unopposed, I am involved in #PostcardsForVoters to get upstate New Yorkers to turn out,� she said. “I also make regular trips to Bay Ridge to

canvass for Andrew Gounardes, whose opponent, Marty Golden has been a major obstacle against speed cameras. Nationally and locally, I’m giving to Democratic candidates across the board. I’ll worry about my credit card later.� Individuals may not be the only ones to blame for New York’s historically poor voter turnout. The deadlines for

registering for a political party far out from election day drew criticism ahead of the primary. New York is one of only 13 states that do not offer an option for early voting. Kuntz recommended several best practices from around the US and internationally. “Make voting multi-day,� he proposed, by “going to universities and doing registration in public universities. Same-day registration is a good way. There are 15 states and the District of Columbia where you can show up on voting day and register for the election,� he noted. In the meantime, voters of all ages will need to make the effort to make their voices heard. Weil encourages potential voters to consider the future impacts of their choices at the ballot box. “You might feel like choosing a governor or a senator isn’t going to affect your day-to-day life now,� Weil said. “But in the near future politicians are going to create policies that will affect your life or people you know — your neighbors, your family, your community.�

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Congressmember Bold Leadership is Jerry Nadler: Needed for New York Progressive Champion BY CONGRESSMEMBER JERRY NADLER (nadler.house.gov) As a veteran Democratic Congressmember, I have worked throughout my career to make politics in New York City and Washington serve the needs of everyday New Yorkers. I was first elected to Congress in 1992, and in late 2017, I was honored to be elected Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee by an overwhelming majority of my colleagues. Through my time in public service, I’m proud to have served as a committed and effective representative for my district on local and national issues. I’ve been a stalwart advocate for civil rights and liberties; a strong voice on transportation issues; a supporter of a secure and democratic Israel, and a champion of progressive causes to protect the most vulnerable among us. I’ve worked consistently and relentlessly to defend our country’s fundamental promise of equality for all. I was at the forefront of the battle in Congress to make marriage equality the law of the land, and led the coalition to create the Stonewall National Monument, the first national monument recognizing the struggle for LGBT rights. I’ve authored legislation that would protect pregnant women’s rights in the workplace, defended reproductive health access for all, and fought for aid to families. These are a few examples of my work on the front lines in the fight for LGBT rights, women’s rights, racial and economic justice, and the First Amendment. From the first days of the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants, civil rights and our democracy, I have strongly opposed those challenges to our democratic institutions and values. I was one of the first Congressmembers to go to JFK Airport to fight the Muslim ban, led a delegation to inspect an ICE detention facility containing separated families, and have pressed legislation and hearings to end these draconian policies. I have fought hard to protect Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation,


November 1, 2018

Courtesy of Nadler for Congress

Congressmember Jerry Nadler.

and if Democrats gain control of the House in 2018, I will serve as Chair of the Judiciary Committee and will begin significant oversight to hold this administration accountable. Additionally, I have long focused on improving New York City’s infrastructure. I’ve secured badly needed increases in federal funding for mass transit, worked to resolve critical local issues like the future of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and have been a fierce advocate for an effective and sustainable goods movement in New York and nationwide. As the Congressmember representing Ground Zero, I worked tirelessly across the aisle after 9/11 to secure federal aid, lifetime health care coverage and compensation for the responders and survivors, and just last week introduced legislation to permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. I secured vital funds for NYC after Superstorm Sandy, and recently passed bipartisan legislation protecting condos and co-ops affected by disasters. I also strongly support the many educational, cultural, and social welfare organizations based in my vibrant and diverse district, passing bipartisan legislation to protect artists and bringing hundreds of millions of federal dollars home. I support sensible economic and community development initiatives, and take tremendous pride in providing robust constituent services to my district.

BY NAOMI LEVIN (naomiforcongress.com) America was my mother and father’s haven when they came here from the Soviet Union in 1978. The gratitude and love I feel for our country, and especially my beloved city of New York, has led me take on our entrenched representative, Congressmember Nadler, in the 2018 election. The mission of my campaign is to bring the focus from national partisan politics back to the issues that are important to the people of District 10, where I have lived for many years. With the extreme polarization seen in Washington today, we need to heal our communities and work together to bridge the divide. Our representative should have working relationships with the Congressional majority, and the drive to address the concerns of this district’s constituents. The future of our district requires a fresh perspective. After obtaining dual degrees in Computer Science and Biology and becoming a software engineer, I have been a leader on the forefront of emerging technology in New York City. I joined a New Yorkbased start-up that became incredibly successful, and had an IPO five years later. I understand the power of entrepreneurship, and the power of economic growth. We need to prepare our children for the growing business and technology sectors. Expanding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs, including those geared towards women in tech, will go a long way to ensure a competitive future in these industries. Greater investment in technology research in the military and in other sectors is crucial so that America can lead once again. District 10 is incredibly diverse. In the neighborhoods of Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown, and the Upper West Side, there is a wide range of needs, interests, and political affiliations. Nevertheless, there are some things on which there is widespread agreement: People and businesses are fleeing the city due to our incredibly high tax burden and de-motivating regulations; our children’s education is at stake, and many parents would benefit

Courtesy of the candidate

Candidate Naomi Levin.

from expansion of School Choice programs; we need to push back on Mayor de Blasio’s plan to remove admissions tests from our best schools; and we have crumbling infrastructure, which deserves more federal funding. There is much to address. I plan to stand up for our interests in all of these areas. Rep. Nadler consistently votes “No” on bills that the Congressional majority presents which would help his constituents. He votes against reducing regulations and taxes, he would fight to stop the needed expansion of educational freedom, and against the will of his constituents, he championed the Iran Deal, which has empowered the Iranian Regime, and led to its increased aggression all over the world. My parents instilled in me a sense of public duty and responsibility to fight for our freedoms and our values. There is a bright future for New York, but we will need bold leadership. I am honored to have the opportunity to be a real alternative to our longtime congressmember, and represent the people in our district. (I’m proud to have, among many others, the endorsement of the PRIDE Democrats and the Stonewall Veterans’ Association.) City Media LLC



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Legal Pot Movement on Two New Fronts BY NATHAN RILEY The Albany County district attorney made an impassioned plea for taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana to adults at a State Assembly hearing in Manhattan on Oct. 16, saying ending the war on pot is a logical next step in the process that began in 2004 with the repeal of the draconian Rockefeller era drug laws. David Soares, who is also the president of the New York State District Attorneys Association, said there is disagreement on this issue within that group but that “several” DAs had similar views. Soares has intensively studied Colorado’s example as the first state to permit adult use of marijuana and emphasized that the new tax revenues from legalization must restore “vulnerable” communities where residents have been arrested by the tens of thousands while pot use by white New Yorkers was overlooked by law enforcement. “Real courage,” he told a joint hearing of several Assembly Committees on adult use of marijuana, is about addressing the “aftermath” of the war on drugs, winning the peace with a plan for “reconstruction” of neighbor-

Photo courtesy of the New York State Assembly

Albany County DA David Soares, who is also the president of the State District Attorneys Association, spoke out in favor of marijuana legalization at an October 16 Assembly hearing.

hoods unsettled by mass incarceration. Simply closing the illegal market for pot could have grim consequences; dealers could replace what is on their shelves

with opioids. “If you don’t recycle the money, you’re buying yourself a bigger problem,” Soares warned.

Proposed legislation creating a tax and regulate system provides for community reinvestment. Sponsored by East Side Democratic Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Buffalo Democrat, the measure creates a marijuana revenue fund from tax receipts — net of administrative and oversight costs — that would funnel 25 percent to the State Education Department, 25 percent for drug treatment and public education, and 50 percent for community reinvestment. Specific regulations implementing the legislation would be drafted by a new bureau in the State Liquor Authority, which was established in 1933 to create from scratch a system of legal liquor sales following the repeal of Prohibition. The SLA would repeat this mission by licensing and managing the production and sale of legal marijuana. A cornerstone of the SLA is a system favoring small business ownership of retail outlets, Krueger told a conference, also held October 16, organized by Capalino+Company, which is MARIJUANA continued on p. 23

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Don’t Let These Illusions Elude You Science museum meets funhouse, for Instagram-friendly fun

Photo by Kenroy Lumsden

Sure beats solitaire: The Clone Table features an arrangement of mirrors that replicate you such that you comprise all the players at a poker table.

BY TRAV S.D. If you have been wondering about those long lines outside the old Bank Building on the southwest corner of 14th St. and Eighth Ave., we have solved the mystery. As of Sept. 20, the historic structure (built 1907) has been home to an interactive permanent exhibition called the Museum of Illusions. If the name sounds ambiguous (is it an exhibit of famous magic tricks? Of dashed pipe dreams?), the recesses of this new emporium contain still trickier puzzles. It is a showcase for optical, photo, and holographic illusions — over 70 of them in several galleries spread out over two floors. New York’s Museum of Illusions is the latest in a chain of 19 around the


November 1, 2018

world founded by a Croatian marketing professional named Roko Zivkovic. He opened the first one in Zagreb in 2015; now there are locations in Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Athens, and several countries of the Balkans and the Middle East, with plans for new ones in Toronto and Amsterdam. Croatian-American actor Renne Gjoni is the CEO of the New York branch, a hands-on guy who met me at the door and, on a recent and very busy Saturday, launched this correspondent into the museum’s world of wonders. The Museum of Illusions is equal parts science museum and funhouse, the sort of place that would be right at home in the revitalized Coney Island or Times Square. But a visit to “MOI”

(as signs encourage us to call it) and the surrounding neighborhood is a rapid lesson in the interesting fact that Chelsea is now a tourist destination unto itself, with Chelsea Piers, Chelsea Market, the High Line, the Whitney Museum, the Rubin Museum, and lots of shops, art galleries, and restaurants all in the immediate vicinity. The neighborhood suits its latest addition, for the museum is less an educational institution (though it is full of genuine science) than a tourist attraction, as befits an institution founded by a marketing professional. It is aggressively being touted as an “Instagram-worthy” destination. To that end, it seems a perfect place to bring children (even rowdy ones) or parties of high-spirited young

adults, fresh from the local drinking establishments. While there is plenty of thought-provoking content on view to entertain the pensive and sedate and the old folks, they may find it hard to concentrate amidst the hustle and bustle of this already popular museum. Which is not to disparage the experience by any means. I for one was glad to battle the throngs in order to partake of its head-scratching novelties. Some of the highlights include the Ames Room, where forced-perspective causes people and objects to appear larger or smaller than they are, depending on where they are placed. There is a Beuchet Chair, an illusion invented by psychologist Jean Beuchet in the 1960s, where, if the viewer is City Media LLC

The Beuchet Chair illusion makes it seem as if a person sitting on a chair is small as a doll.

standing in the right place, a person sitting on a chair looks as small as a doll. There is a room that is completely on its side so that in a photo, it will look like you are standing on the wall. And a tilted room, which simply made me feel dizzy and want to fall down. The Clone Table features an arrangement of mirrors that replicate you such that you comprise all the players at a poker table. The line was longest at the Infinity Room, and once you’re inside, you’ll learn why: You’ll fi nd yourself in a Hall of Mirrors like the one in Orson

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Welles’ “The Lady from Shanghai.” Once you close the door behind you, you’ll find it difficult to find your way out again. Other fun things include a True Mirror (which shows us as we actually look to others rather than the reverse image we see in conventionallooking glasses), a room of colored shadows, and a wall that alternates window glass with strips of mirror so you can exchange noses with the person on the other side. Everywhere you turn there are holograms, kalei-

Photos by Kenroy Lumsden

Take Rubin’s Vase for a spin, and discover how many faces it hides.

doscopes, stereograms, magic prisms, hypnotic spirals, still images that seem to move or vibrate, and hidden pictures that emerge when looked at in just the right way. As in all such places there is a certain amount of filler, such as wall text featuring angle illusions or Escherlike imagery that could easily be found online or in a book. All of the wall text is excellent, but to spend much time reading it would block someone else’s way. As it happens, the Museum of Illusions opened at just the right

time. It’s the perfect place to go when hosting friends and family for the holidays — or looking for a little bizarre diversion if you want to escape them. The Museum of Illusions is located at 77 Eighth Ave. (at W. 14th St.). Hours: Daily, 9am-10pm. Adult ticket, $19; ages 6-13, $15; student, seniors, military, $17; Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children), $53; children under 6 admitted free. For more info, visit newyork. museumofillusions.us or call 212-6453230 and 212-645-3945.

November 1, 2018


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MARIJUANA continued from p. 14

recruiting clients that would benefit from a regulated market. Under this approach — which represented a persistent theme touched on at the event that drew roughly 200 people — residents of low-income neighborhoods would be given an opportunity to go into business as retail sellers of legal marijuana. Billed as the “Cannabis Summit: Developing a Sustainable Cannabis Economy in New York,” the Capalino event featured a keynote addresses by Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former City Council speaker who is now a senior official at the Latino Victory Fund, and Melissa Moore, the deputy state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a leader in the movement to end drug prohibition. Krueger’s bill would permit people with marijuana convictions to petition for a review of their criminal justice records. Marijuana convictions complicate the ability of some to access jobs and scholarships for which they are otherwise qualified. In his hearing testimony, Soares strongly supported this objective, saying, “We must work to seal and reclassify” previous convictions and “move from stigma to opportunity.” Krueger voiced particular pride that her bill would respect New Yorkers who object to second-hand smoke. Tenants in smoke-free buildings would be prohibited from smoking pot at home. Doctors, she said with a sly grin, believe that inhaling a burning leaf of any kind is dangerous. Soares — responding to questions from the Assembly panel chaired by Dick Gottfried from Manhattan’s West Side, the Health Committee chair, Joe Lentol from Brooklyn who heads the

Codes Committee, and the Upper West Side’s Linda Rosenthal, chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse — devoted a lot of time to addressing the risks of drivers being stoned. Currently, the police bring charges as soon as they smell pot, but with legalization that trigger would disappear. The Albany prosecutor said police would have to be trained in drug detection, and if a reliable blood test were developed police labs would need additional funding. He recommended that anyone refusing a blood test have their license suspended. In any discussion of plans for legalizing pot, Krueger acknowledged, the elephant in the room is a proposal from Governor Andrew Cuomo that is likely to be part of the budget he unveils next year. The governor’s wishes would hold center stage in Albany.

Photo by Brice Peyre

Democratic Assemblymembers Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo, and Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan’s West Side at a hearing on marijuana legalization earlier this year.

2019 PRIDE continued from p. 6

ing to an HOP proposal to hold the opening ceremony of next year’s events at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Operating rights to that venue are owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian oligarch and billionaire. It is operated, in turn, by AEG Facilities, which is owned by Philip Anschutz, a Colorado billionaire and funder of conservative and anti-LGBTQ organizations, politicians, and causes. “Heritage of Pride has a long track record of sucking up to corporations at the expense of those who live and died for LGBTQ+ liberation, but HOP potentially funding our own political enemies, by renting out a property that homophobe Philip Anschutz’s company manages, sinks to a new low, especially on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall,” Brandon Cuicchi, an RPC member, said in the press release. While Anschutz now says he no longer funds antiLGBTQ groups, his history of funding such causes dates to at least 1992 when he gave $10,000 to Colorado for Family Values, the group that sponsored a state ballot initiative that barred lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in that state from seeking anti-discrimination laws except through a state ballot initiative. The initiative invalidated laws that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in three Colorado cities. The measure passed, but was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1996. As is typically the case, HOP did not respond to a request for comment. City Media LLC



November 1, 2018


SHADOWS continued from p. 1

that shadows hadn’t impacted its horticulture. But this week, the Conservancy voiced interest in the issues raised by Levine’s bill. Though a spokesperson wouldn’t answer questions about how increased shadows have or have not impacted the park, the Conservancy said it supports more research on the matter. “We are committed to preserving the Central Park experience,” spokesperson Simone Silverbush said by email. “We think that more detailed information on the effect of shadows on city spaces will add to the public discourse. We support additional research on this topic.” Three years ago, City Planning didn’t support the effort, Crain’s reported, and the then-director Carl Weisbrod noted that slender, taller towers have less impact than wider, squatter buildings because their shadows move more swiftly across the park. The Real Estate Board of New York echoed the sentiment in a 2015 report. “What we have seen from these shadow analyses have been that in the wintertime, you have buildings casting long shadows for longer periods of the day just because that’s where we’re located on Earth,” said Paimaan Lodhi, senior vice president of REBNY. Summer, when it is peak park usage

Photo by Ed Reed/ Office of the Mayor

Upper West Side Councilmember Mark Levine.

time, the shadows move more quickly but provide “a great deal of shade for the elderly and for others who are seeking relief from the sun,” Lodhi said. Levine argues that 2018 will provoke a different public discussion of the issue. “We do think that the climate has changed,” Levine said. “[The towers] were plans that people who were watching could evaluate and the scale of those buildings scared a lot who care about [Central Park], but now those buildings are up, and it’s not hypothetical.” Levine said that during the cooler

months, the amount of sunlight makes for the difference between whether a park is used at all or not. “Very few people [are] sitting on park benches in shady areas,” he said. “They’re flocking to the sunlight because it’s where it’s warm enough to really be able to enjoy the park.” The bill would establish a task force with the commissioners of city departments including Buildings, Environmental Protection, Housing Preservation and Development, and the City Planning Commission. Each year, the task force would issue a report

to the mayor and the City Council with recommendations on dealing with possible consequences from shadows, “including but not limited to changes to planned construction projects,” according to the bill’s language. Levine said he would consider amending the bill to require the task force to build an inventory of tiny neighborhood pocket parks and over how much area as well as how long those parks are shaded. Explicitly quantifying shadows’ time and square footage on every park is something Levine wants to discuss at the bill’s hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Levine said the task force could measure “in a quantifiable way the current shadow impact of buildings and using that as the yardstick to measure our success in protecting parks.” REBNY argues that policy goals like generating construction jobs and creating affordable housing are higher priorities compared to the impact of shadows on smaller parks. “You have to balance policy goals,” Lodhi said. “You’re talking about building affordable housing or just housing in general, which the city needs. That’s a very high priority. You’re talking about good-paying jobs. That should be a very high priority.”

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November 1, 2018

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GUEST COLUMNIST Murderer’s Misplaced Rage Answered Compassion with Carnage BY GERALDO RIVERA Driving on Route 80 from New York through the lovely Poconos on my way home to Cleveland, I heard on the radio about the outrage regarding the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Like hurricanes and all such unfolding disasters, mass murders take a while until the full extent of the trauma is realized. The final body count is always worse than initially reported. In this case, it was profoundly worse from what I was hearing on the radio. From several dead, it soon became clear that what happened in the charming Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh was the worst massacre ever of Jews in America. Eleven were killed; elderly worshippers ranging in age from 54 to 97, gathered for Saturday Shabbat services. Six more were wounded, including four heroic Pittsburgh cops who confronted the mass murderer as he attempted to flee the scene of his carnage. Their speedy response probably saved lives. The alleged shooter was another of those aggrieved losers, like the schmuck

who last week sent the poorly constructed mail bombs to Democratic leadership and CNN. As you know by now from news accounts, this alleged synagogue murderer is Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old anti-Semite who armed himself with an AR-15 and several powerful Glock handguns before beginning his slaughter of defenseless oldtimers praying in the temple that has served Jews in this community for a hundred years. His motive, at least as gleaned from his perverse social media posts, was his rage at efforts of Jewish humanitarian groups, principally HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to assist refugees, like the caravan currently making its way north from Central America through Mexico. Somehow Bowers twisted the ancient compassion of Jews and the current plight of Latino refugees into a mortal threat to the white race. Whatever his motivation or sick excuse, Bowers’ crimes were a grim reminder that however comfortable Jewish life is in America, our New World Colossus, there have always been

Photo by Richard Drew, via Associated Press

Geraldo Rivera.

intolerant haters. Spawned by jealousy, envy, and race hatred, these neo-Nazis are a sub-culture that has existed for centuries, lurking just below the surface, and waiting for an excuse to savage Jewish businesses, houses of worship and individuals because they represent some obscure threat. These days, antiSemitism is out of fashion — but as this slaughter of innocents reminds us, some things never really change they just go underground. Until the terrible news broke of the

synagogue massacre, the weekend had a pleasant buzz. Despite awful weather that had caused me to take this rare road trip, rather than my usual commuter plane, I was motoring along while enjoying the fall colors across the Allegheny Mountains, looking for charming places to gas up and grab a bite. On Friday, I had spent the evening with some old friends from the Guild for Exceptional Children, a Brooklyn-based community services charity founded, like Life’s WORC, by parents of developmentally disabled youngsters formerly warehoused in now-defunct institutions like Willowbrook. We remembered the grim old days, and celebrated all that has changed for the better in the field, despite the many challenges that remain. I wish the weekend had ended with that positive affirmation that care, compassion and good deeds define us. Sadly, harsh reality sometimes intrudes, as it did when gunshots pierced the peaceful Shabbat in the old Jewish neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

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Profile for Schneps Media

Manhattan Express - November 1, 2018  

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