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V i s i t u s o n l i n e a t w w w .T h e V i l l a g e r. c o m

THE March 28, 2019 Volume 89 • Number 13

Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933 •

$1.00

FETING FERLINGHETTI AT 100 Page 22

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

Ed Sanders signing a Lawrence Ferlinghetti bir thday card.

MOM-AND-POP SHOPS ON THE ROCKS

PHOTO BY MARNI HALASA

A “cemeter y of small businesses” outside Cit y Hall on March 18.

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Field pitched for Gansevoort Peninsula BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

T

he Hudson River Park Trust is starting the design process for Gansevoort Peninsula — and a large multi-use sports field is an option being proposed by local youth baseball and soccer leagues. The pitch for a 2-acre playing field was made at a meeting of the Hudson River Park Advisory Council earlier this month. Isaac-Daniel Astrachan, vice president of the Downtown United Soccer Club, made the presentation. “It would be a full-size field for a myriad of athletics,” Astrachan said, “football, softball, soccer, lacrosse. …” The field could also even sport a bubble in cold weather, he added. The leagues — collectively known as the Champions — have started a petition to push for a field on Gansevoort. Astrachan said that, in general, the youth leagues need more playing space. For example, the fields at Pier 40, at W. Houston, “are not in good shape,” he said. There are also concerns that parts of Pier 40 could be shut down during the pier’s ongoing repairs. Meanwhile, Roosevelt Island’s sports fields are closed, and the DeWitt Clinton pitch will be closing, he added. And East River Park’s baseball and soccer fields also would go offline if the city forges ahead with its hotly disputed plan to raise that park’s height to protect it from flooding and storm surges. The Trust recently awarded a contract for more than $5.3 million to

COURTESY ISAAC-DANIEL ASTRACHAN

A design rendering of the Champions’ proposal for a spor ts field on Gansevoor t Peninsula.

James Corner Field Operations to design a park on Gansevoort as part of the 5-mile-long Hudson River Park. Noreen Doyle, a Trust senior vice president, told the Advisory Council meeting that, while a designer was recently picked for the peninsula, “We’re not talking programming uses yet.” The 5-acre peninsula, located two blocks south of 14th St. on the edge of the Meatpacking District, was formerly home to a Department of Sanitation garage for several districts’ garbage trucks. Before that, it sported the ominous-sounding Gansevoort Destructor, a massive incinerator for municipal

waste. Going even farther back, for nearly 70 years until 1954, it was the West Washington Market, the city’s major meat, poultry and dairy market, in the days before modern refrigerated supermarkets. Gansevoort Peninsula is a remaining parcel of landfill from when the Lower West Side shoreline was extended out to a 13th Ave. Much of that landfill was later removed, however, because ships’ sizes had gotten so large they needed more docking space. Under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the city pushed the state Legislature to approve a plan for a marine waste-trans-

fer station at Gansevoort — basically, a facility to barge recyclable trash from Manhattan to recycling sites, thereby reducing the number of garbage trucks plying the city’s streets. To this day, however, a key memorandum of understanding, or M.O.U., that is required between the city and state to allow the project to go forward has not been signed. Basically, because part of Hudson River Park would need to be “alienated” — or removed — from public park use for the transfer station, it was agreed that the Trust should be compensated for the loss. The figure cited was $50 million. But the state has balked at being asked to pay half this cost, since the transfer station would be a city facility. The waste-transfer plan had called for a perimeter road on the peninsula’s northern and western edges that up to 60 garbage trucks per day would rumble over to access the transfer station, where they would then dump their loads into the waiting barges. According to local political sources, though, there still has been no movement on the M.W.T.S. plan. Asked by this paper where things stand with that project, Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president and C.E.O., said the Gansevoort park design plans will just have to take into account the potential for a marine waste-transfer station perhaps materializing there someday. “We’ll build around it,” she said.

Community sues to stop Two Bridges towers BY GABE HERMAN

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ocal community groups and residents filed a lawsuit on March 22 against the city to stop the Two Bridges developments from going forward. Among those who filed the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court are Lower East Side Organized Neighbors and Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association. The suit echoes the argument in a December 2018 lawsuit by the City Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. That earlier litigation said that the plans should not have been exempted from the public-review process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP. The City Planning Commission issued the exemption because it said the projects were “minor modifications” to the existing permit for large-scale residential development, or LSRD, in Two Bridges — the area between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. That suit

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as loss of open space,” the suit also said, “are at a minimum enormous changes to the Two Bridges LSRD.” Activists and residents also rallied on March 22 on Centre St. outside the courts in support of the lawsuit. Artist Francisca Benitez was among those slamming the behemoth buildings. “We are not going to sit idle and look at how our beloved city is taken away and the public good is sold off for developers’ profits, and corrupted to make a very few accumulate even more,” she declared. “We fight against the dystopic future our city government is imposing on us.” The developers jointly released a statement after the lawsuit was filed, saying the projects would create nearly 700 units of affordable housing. They also said $40 million would go toward upgrades to the East Broadway subway station, including making it handicap accessible; $12.5 million would be devoted to repairs for a local public-housing complex; and $15 million would be spent to upgrade three local parks.

also said a deed restriction required at least one tower to be devoted to elderly and low-income people. The planned development would include four new towers, including an 80-story building by JDS Development Group; 62- and 69-story buildings by L + M Development Partners and the CIM Group; and a 63-story tower by Starrett Group. The suit filed on March 22 said the high-rise towers would not only alter the neighborhood’s character, but increase the pace of local gentrification. “Petitioners assert that this Project presents the greatest challenge ever faced by residents who wish to keep Chinatown and the Lower East Side affordable,” read part of the lawsuit. “Simply put — they are afraid that the Two Bridges LSRD [large-scale residential development] spells the end of affordability for the neighborhood. “The scale of these four towers, and the permanent negative impacts they will cause on air, sunlight, subway congestion and population density, as well TVG

“At a time when projects delivering tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in community investment are being opposed by anti-development sentiment across the city,” the developers’ statement said, in part, “it’s important to remember what’s at stake here, all proposed after years of community consultation, public review and environmental analysis, and in compliance with zoning that’s been in place for more than 30 years. “We look forward to the swift resolution of this baseless lawsuit and to starting construction,” the developers’ statement said. In a recent Villager opinion piece, Lynn Ellsworth, chairperson of the Tribeca Trust and president of HumanScale NYC, argued against the projects, saying that the displacement of current residents they would cause would outweigh any affordable housing offered.

With reporting by Tequila Minsky March 28, 2019

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Police Blotter NINTH PRECINCT

Fatal stabbing On Mon., March 25, around 8:47 p.m., police responded to a 911 call of an assault in front of 1115 F.D.R. Drive, near E. 11th St., at the Jacob Riis Houses. Responding officers found a 27-year-old man with a stab wound to the stomach. E.M.S. medics transported the victim to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. On Wed., March 27, police released the name of the victim, Phibeon Smalls, 27, of 710 E. Ninth St., and said that Christopher Dixon, 26, of the same building, had been arrested for his murder. A witness reported the two had argued prior to the stabbing, police said. “Apparently, they had a little bit of an ongoing back and forth, and this is the first time it turned violent,” Captain John L. O’Connell, the Ninth Precinct’s commanding officer, told The Villager. “It was an isolated incident. There was no gang or narcotics nexus. This was a specific thing between these people. We have no signs of retaliation.” The East Village precinct had gone nearly two years without a murder, he noted. “I was hoping, but we didn’t quite make it to two years,” he said.

COURTESY N.Y.P.D.

Police say this guy bound a worker with duct tape at the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill on Universit y Place before robbing the restaurant.

SIXTH PRECINCT

‘Bad optics’ A 31-year-old man reported that his silver 2007 Nissan four-door sedan was broken into sometime between 6:05 a.m. and 7:05 a.m. on Sun., March 24, after he parked it in front of 166 Mercer St., south of Houston St. The car owner said that upon returning to the vehicle, he found the driver’s side rear window shattered and $2,800 worth of ophthalmologist equipment missing. A witness reportedly described the perpetrator as a roughly 5-foot-5-inch-tall black man in blue jeans, a jacket and brown skullcap.

Knicker robber Police are searching for a man believed to have stolen $8,000 from the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill, at University Place and E. Ninth St., on Fri., March 22, around 1 a.m. The suspect is said to have broken into the basement via a side door on E. Ninth St., but once inside was confronted by a 62-year-old restaurant employee. The suspect is alleged to have duped the worker into thinking he was carrying a gun before throwing him to the ground and tying his hands and feet together with duct tape. Restaurant co-owner Ron D’Allegro told NBC 4 that before running off with the money, the robber told the hog-tied employee to “wait 20 minutes before you can call anything.” “So, he waited a couple minutes, got out of the duct tape, got up and called the cops,” D’Allegro said. Police described the suspect as Hispanic, wearing a black jacket, gray hoodie and black backpack. Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted on the CrimeStoppers Web site at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS. COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

FIRST PRECINCT

Soho burglary spree An employee at the French bistro Felix at 340 West

ing sweatpants, a black jacket and white sneakers. Both are estimated to be around 5-feet-8-inches tall and 150 pounds. In addition, two men are accused of burglarizing the Parisian-styled restaurant Laudrée, at 396 W. Broadway, on Mon., March 18, between 2:50 a.m. and 2:58 a.m. The pair reportedly broke through the front door and stole $1,000 from two cash registers before exiting from the store’s rear. The front and back doors, each costing $4,000, were damaged in the break-in, resulting in $9,000 in reported losses for Laudrée. The description of the two suspects was the same as in the Felix burglary. Also, two men with similar descriptions to the above two incidents are also accused of breaking into the Bon Point clothing store, at 398 W. Broadway, that same morning between 2:58 a.m. and 3:15 a.m. Police said they came in through the rear door by breaking a window first and then presumably unlocking the door. The two are accused of breaking a wood wardrobe, plus taking $500 from a cash register and an additional $200 from behind the counter before leaving through the back door. Adding in damages to the window and cabinet, the burglars caused $2,350 in losses to the place. Again, police had not officially stated the three incidents were related, but it sounds like they might be.

Marshal scam COURTESY N.Y.P.D.

These t wo suspects burglarized the Felix bistro in Soho, according to police. They may have hit t wo other nearby spots, as well, though police did not publicly make that connection yet.

Broadway, at Grand St., reported to work on the morning of Mon., March 18, to find the front door wide open and nearly all the cash stored inside stolen. Police said that two men broke into the restaurant between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. that morning and smashed the store’s cash registers before breaking into the safe upstairs from which they stole $12,568. The first thief is described as being a black man wearing blue sweatpants, a black jacket and white sneakers. The second is described as a white Hispanic man wear-

A 30-year-old man who works at 378 Hudson St., near Houston St., fell prey to a phone scam on Wed., March 20, which cost him $8,000, police said. The victim reported receiving a phone call around 1 p.m. from someone claiming to be a U.S. marshal, who stated the victim’s Social Security number was compromised and being used by a drug trafficker in El Paso. The phony official informed the man he would need to send $27,000 in Bitcoin that day to receive a new number or have a warrant issued for his arrest. The man said he deposited $3,000 at a Bitcoin kiosk on E. Houston St. and another $5,000 in New Jersey before cutting contact with the scam artist around 5:20 p.m.

Rico Burney and Lincoln Anderson

The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright © 2019 by Schneps Media is published weekly by Schneps Media, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. 52 times a year. Business and Editorial Offices: One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Accounting and Circulation Offices: Schneps Media, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Call 718-260-2500 to subscribe. Periodicals postage prices is paid at New York, N.Y. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Villager, One Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2019 Schneps Media.

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5


Cheers and fears at traffic-pricing forum the same point. A resident of E. Fifth St., Louise Millmann, held a sign before the meeting stating that she was against congestion pricing that read, “We Are Being Squeezed Enough!” She told this newspaper that she has to drive to Long Island for work and so already pays two tolls. “They want me to pay another and that’s not fair,” Millmann said, indignantly. Christine Berthet, co-founder of a pedestrian-advocacy group, CHEKPEDS, said London has had fewer vehicle crashes with its congestion pricing, which it started in 2003. She said congestion pricing increased safety for all drivers, plus saved time for commuters.

BY GABE HERMAN

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t a March 21 public hearing on congestion pricing, hosted by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, there were a range of opinions for and against. The plan would include a surcharge for vehicles going below 60th St. in Manhattan, and prices could vary by time of day and type of vehicle. The plan would raise an estimated $1 billion annually that would be invested in the city’s public transportation system. Local politicians at the event, held at The Cooper Union, included Councilmember Carlina Rivera and state Senator Brad Hoylman, who, along with Brewer, said they were there to hear the opinions of the community. Brewer noted she voted for congestion pricing in 2008 as a councilmember. “And I would vote for it today, but only if the details are decided by the community,” she said. “To be workable, there have to be some exemptions,” Brewer said, noting that people with disabilities, for example, should not have to pay the surcharge. Rivera noted that traffic problems were harming New Yorkers’ health. “We will have to make drastic changes to get to a point where we can breathe easier,” she stated. “Mass transit is in serious crisis,” Hoylman said. He noted how common it is for people to be late for work because of delayed travel. “We have to change that because it’s bad for everyone,” he said. “It’s also bad for business.” Hoylman said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is projected to have $42 billion in debt by 2022, and that fares were projected to rise 27 percent if congestion pricing isn’t passed. Yet, Hoylman expressed some concerns about the plan, and said Downtown residents should not have to pay to drive out of the area. “You should not be penalized for living in the pricing zone,” he said to applause. Hoylman said progressive taxes should be examined to fund mass transit, including a pied-a-terre tax. He said he wanted to look to the wealthy, “who haven’t paid their fair share.” Former Assemblymember Richard Brodsky spoke adamantly against the plan. He called it a flat fee and said people should be taxed based on their ability to pay. “I oppose congestion pricing as a matter of principle,” he said. Brodsky said the pied-a-terre tax and a tax on commercial real estate were better ways to raise money by taxing those benefiting from development booms. When the floor was opened to pub-

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‘There have to be some exemptions.’ Gale Brewer

PHOTO BY GABE HERMAN

East Villager Louise Millmann made her feelings on congestion pricing clear at The Cooper Union forum.

lic comments, one woman, Sheila Williams, said it was Uber and Lyft that caused the traffic issues. “Now you want all of us to pay for this debacle,” she said.

A resident of Gateway Plaza, Audrey Kaminsky, said she has to drive to work and the zone seemed arbitrary in penalizing people in the southern part of Manhattan. Several other locals made TVG

“These are real savings and real benefits,” Berthet stressed. A woman with the nonprofit Bike New York said the group supports congestion pricing because it would benefit cyclists by creating more space on the streets and better traffic flow. She said London saw bicycle use nearly double in three years after it started congestion pricing there. “This is an opportunity to make bikes safer and more accessible,” she said. Several speakers wanted exemptions for two-wheel vehicles, like motorcycles and electric scooters. Eric Ramirez said motorcycles would reduce congestion and pollution. He cited a European study showing that if 10 percent of drivers switched to motorcycles, there would be a 40 percent reduction in congestion. Christine Negra, an environmental scientist and motorcycle owner, said the two-wheel vehicle benefits included better fuel efficiency and lighter weights, which would mean less wear and tear on roads. She also noted that, compared to cars, motorcycles’ smaller sizes take up less space on roads and for parking. “Two-wheel vehicles, I think, are part of the solution to urban congestion,” she said. Schneps Media


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Gif[lZkC`XY`c`kp When you buy a product, the expectation is that it should perform in the way it was intended to but that is not always the case. When damage or injury is caused as the result of the use of a defective product, the law in New York recognizes that those who manufacture and/or distribute the defective product, as well as those who sell it, may be held responsible for damages for the injuries which result. Consider the case of the young teenager who while using a hair dryer in her home, sustained severe third degree burns to her hands when the product burst into flames. Her parents had the foresight to consult our office shortly thereafter. Upon consulting an expert who inspected the hair dryer, he advised that the product’s wiring and/or loose electrical connections allowed it to overheat and catch on fire. We sued the manufacturer, as well as the neighborhood store where the hair dryer had been purchased, claiming that this product was defective as it was improperly or poorly designed, that there was a mistake in its manufacture or assembly, and/or the manufacturer or distributor placed the product into the marketplace without adequate warnings. Based upon our expert’s opinion, we were successful in achieving a favorable outcome for our client. If you find yourself in

JXe]fi[IlY\ejk\`e a similar situation, the first thing to do is secure and safeguard the defective product. In situations where the injury occurs outside your home, for example, in the workplace, it is particularly important to be vigilant and contact an attorney promptly. A separate court proceeding may need to be commenced, as soon as possible, to compel preservation of the product and to direct the person, or entity, in possession or control of the product, to grant access so it can be inspected and tested before it is destroyed, altered or disposed of. If you believe that you or a loved one have been injured by any defective product, whether a piece of heavy machinery or a seemingly harmless household item, you should consult an attorney. A timely phone call could be very important to protect your rights.

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7


Fed up at Fedora: Backyard bid is nixed 2 a.m. every day. Making the whole matter harder for C.B. 2 members to decipher, Stulman notably failed to provide any renderings of the planned addition at previous S.L.A. committee meetings. However, before this Thursday night’s full-board vote, a woman went around the room, handing each person a packet of stapled papers with some renderings and floor plans of the proposed new 15-foot-by-20 -foot addition. Before the vote, Stulman claimed strong backing from neighbors. “In the immediate ‘donut’ surrounding Fedora, we have more support than opposition,” he stated. Alta Indelman, the architect of the planned add-on, also spoke, vouching, “It’s actually a very short addition. It’s really only about 7 feet 3 inches [high] inside. … It’s what we call, ‘garden level,’” she said of the low-rise structure. Indelman said that the place’s capacity — currently, 19 tables with 56 seats, and 12 bar stools — would not change. “It’s simply elbow room,” she said. When Carter Booth, the C.B. 2 chairperson, criticized Stulman for not having presented any designs of the space at previous committee meetings, Indelman responded, “These kind of drawings take time.” Andre Becker, who lives on Washington Place, spoke in favor of Fedora. “They are the ideal neighbor,” he said. “This is what we moved here for. This is what the Village really is.” However, Augustine Hope, a neighbor and member of the West Village Home Owners Association, said Stulman “must win trust” from local residents. Hope noted that Stulman illegally used a subbasement as a private candlelit event space. As the discussion went on, Stulman, who sports a signature bushy black beard, sat by himself in the audience in

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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arah Jessica Parker may have endorsed Fedora restaurant’s proposed expansion — but don’t try telling that to Community Board 2. The Village board last Thursday voted nearly unanimously to recommend denial of Gabe Stulman’s application for his restaurant to “extend its licensed premises” to the rear yard of the fourstory townhouse it’s located in. In other words, Stulman is seeking an extension of Fedora’s existing liquor license into the backyard addition he hopes to create — so that, along with food, he can serve drinks in the new space, too. The meeting was in the lower hall at St. Anthony of Padua Church, at Sullivan and Houston Sts. There was discussion among C.B. 2 members before their vote, plus members of the public also testified for and against the plan. Among the deciding factors ultimately swaying the board’s advisory vote was that they could not recommend or deny a liquor license for the new proposed structure — since it does not even exist yet. The board’s resolution also noted that when Stulman first came to the board seeking a liquor license — after he took over the historic restaurant around nine years ago — he said there would be neither a sidewalk cafe nor use of the backyard garden. The restaurant, at 239 W. Fourth St., between Charles and W. 10th Sts., has the feeling of a swank speakeasy and features “refined global fare.” The previous week, on Thurs., March 14, Parker, the iconic “Sex and the City” actress, spoke in favor of Stulman’s application at a marathon meeting of the C.B. 2 State Liquor Authority Committee, the Post’s Page Six reported. The star praised Fedora’s fare and the operators as “responsible, respectful and

The back yard of Fedora, in a pre2010 photo, from before Gabe Stulman star ted operating the restaurant. Stulman has since added mechanical systems (not shown in the photo above) on the low rooftop of Fedora at the rear of the current restaurant, at left.

hospitable.” She was not at last week’s C.B. 2 full-board vote, however. Stulman initially came before the board in February, saying he planned to extend the restaurant into the backyard for an open-air seasonal-use dining area with seven tables and 17 seats. But neighbors living in the so-called “residential doughnut” around the restaurant’s rear yard raised an outcry. A month later, Stulman returned to C.B. 2 saying he now planned to enclose the rear yard with a one-story “brick and mortar” addition with “one fixed skylight and fixed windows…on the very rear of the structure.” Neighbors say they are already bothered by mechanical systems from the restaurant that are located on a low rooftop right next to the garden. Fedora’s operating hours are 5 p.m. to

the last row of chairs, focusing intensely on the goings-on. Asked for comment — such as why Parker was not there again for the full-board vote — he said, “I can’t talk about that. I’m super-emotionally invested in this right now.” He gave an address for a P.R. rep. Tom Connor, one of the more probusiness members of C.B. 2, said neighbors’ main concern seemed to be that constructing the new addition in the cramped backyard would damage their buildings. He recommended “laying over” the issue till next month. Kristin Shea, from the board’s S.L.A. Committee, said Stulman had, basically, not been forthcoming with details. “We just wanted facts,” she said. Katy Bordonaro, another board member, put it succinctly, saying, “The S.L.A. Committee doesn’t license space that doesn’t exist. We’re sort of licensing a theoretical space — and that’s not something we do.” C.B. 2 Chairperson Booth, however, said the full board should vote on a resolution that night, otherwise Stulman might apply to the actual licensegranting state agency — the S.L.A. — without C.B. 2 having weighed in on the matter. Everyone, even the board’s typically pro-business members, voted to recommend denial of the application, except for Aaron, who recused herself, after noting her husband is an investor in Stulman’s restaurants. Afterward, Stulman got up and grabbed his white umbrella, while flinging a tote bag across his shoulder. Asked for comment, he said tersely, “I don’t understand how that works,” then turned and walked out. Nevertheless, at the same meeting, C.B. 2 unanimously recommended approval of a liquor license for a different Stulman eatery, the new Marlinspike Hall, at the former Great Jones Cafe space, at 54 Great Jones St.

Hoylman: Pied-a-terre tax is the right step BY GABE HERMAN

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s lawmakers in Albany are working to shape the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, state Senator Brad Hoylman’s pied-a-terre tax has been included in a Senate budget resolution. Hoylman, whose district includes the Village, part of the East Village, Stuyvesant Town and much of Midtown, has been pushing for the tax since 2014. If approved, the measure would charge people with expensive homes that are not used as a primary residence. The tax would raise an estimated $650 million annually for the city. It would apply to residences worth more than $5 million. Fees and rates would be charged on

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an increasing scale as properties increase in value. For apartments valued between $5 million and $6 million, there would be a 0.5 percent tax on the value above $5 million. The highest rate would be for properties worth more than $25 million, which would be charged a fee of $370,000, plus a 4 percent tax for all value after the $25 million. The budget resolution would fund programs for at-risk New Yorkers, including for homeless and runaway youth and people facing foreclosure. “The inclusion of my pied-a-terre tax in the Senate budget — which I’ve been fighting to pass with Assemblymember [Deborah] Glick since 2014 — would provide critical new revenue to sustain New York

City’s infrastructure,” Hoylman said. “It is not unreasonable to ask those who can afford to buy a $238 million second home in New York to pay a little more to keep our subways and schools running.” Momentum for a pied-a-terre tax has picked up rapidly since January, when hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin bought a $238 million penthouse at 220 Central Park South. It was the largest home purchase in U.S. history. Griffin is the richest man in Illinois and said he would use the Midtown penthouse when he was in town. Since then, city councilmembers have called for a tax at the city level, including Margaret Chin and Mark Levine. On Jan. 25, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted about the $238 million TVG

penthouse . “Enough,” he posted. “It’s time for a pied-a-terre tax. We should tax luxury non-primary residences, like this one likely will be.” Earlier in March, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he supported a pied-a-terre tax as a way to help fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and improve the city’s subway system. Hoylman said the tax being included in the budget reflects the Senate’s having turned blue as a result of the last election. “With a new Democratic majority comes new priorities,” he said. “Under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, we’ve advanced a budget that fights for the needs of all New Yorkers — not just the wealthiest 1 percent.” Schneps Media


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â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Robocall Copsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Hoylman, Niou dial up ban BY ALEJANDR A Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;CONNELLDOMENECH

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tate Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou on Tuesday introduced a bill to ban unwanted robocalls in New York State. The Robocall Prevention Act was also approved on Tuesday by the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These calls arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just annoying â&#x20AC;&#x201D; theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re dangerous, and often used to defraud unsuspecting consumers, seniors and vulnerable New Yorkers,â&#x20AC;? Hoylman said. He and Niou first introduced the legislation last year. Last year there were about 48 billion robocalls made in the United States, according to YouMail, a robocall-blocking service. And the number of â&#x20AC;&#x153;autodialerâ&#x20AC;? calls is expected to increase, with some sources saying they will make up half of all calls to U.S. cell phones this year. The Robocall Prevention Act would State Senator Brad Hoylman, second from left, and A ssemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, right, introduced the Robocall Prevention Act on March 26.

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Editorial

Traffic pricing: A great idea, if done right

F

or more than a decade now, the movement to institute congestion pricing in New York City has been proposed, debated and ultimately killed over and over again. But this time, it appears that the hotly debated proposal is finally going to become a reality. As we went to press this week, it was reported that Democrats in the state Legislature appeared to have enough votes in favor of congestion pricing to include it in the budget that’s still being hammered out. Lawmakers have until Mon., April 1, to get a budget deal done. What this means is that very soon anyone crossing an East River bridge into Manhattan, or traveling south of 60th St. in Manhattan, will be charged a toll. The revenue generated from this plan will be used to fund much-needed public transit improvements — even though it’s hoped that congestion pricing will encourage more people to leave their cars at home when traveling to our borough, thereby reducing traffic volume. The assumption, of course, is that most Manhattanites will support this plan. After all, it’s being done because of the insane gridlock we are increasingly experiencing on our streets. Why anyone would even want to drive, take a cab or hop into an app-hail car during midday in Midtown Manhattan — or anywhere south of 60th St. — is a

PHOTO BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH

Cars and trucks pouring off the Manhattan Bridge at Canal St. of course contribute to Downtown’s enormous traffic problem. Under congestion pricing, drivers entering the borough any where south of 60th St. would be assessed a surcharge. The figure $11 is being mentioned.

mystery to us. But plenty of people do it — and, as a result, have the pleasure of sitting in traffic and going nowhere fast as CitiBike riders whiz by them. To each his or her own. Yet, there are concerns for Manhattanites about this plan. For example, will people just park on the edge of the zone, then take mass transit or a cab or ride-share car into the zone? Again, as with the infernal traffic, would commuters and others be dumb/crazy enough to try to park in Manhattan, given that parking here is already so difficult? State Senator Brad Hoylman,

however, for one, does think residential parking permits would be needed to offset this potential influx. In addition, Hoylman feels that Manhattan dwellers should “get a discount” when they pass in or out of the zone. In addition, he feels there should only be a one-way toll — for people entering the zone — since leaving the zone (i.e., lessening congestion here) is the idea. Some say “equity” is needed — that the toll should be two-way — but we strongly disagree. It’s simply counterintuitive. Hoylman’s ideas, in general, are spot-on on this issue. Definitely, buses need all the help they can get. Buses, like most of the other traffic on the borough’s streets, often move at a snail’s pace. The M14 is one of the city’s slowest lines, according to the Bus Turnaround Coalition. Community Board 3 (East Village / Lower East Side) has not taken a position on a traffic tax yet. That might be because the Lower East Side does not have great transportation, and some people really do rely on cars there. Plus, there is a fair amount of back and forth with Brooklyn, and shopping districts on the LES want the traffic. But Community Board 2 (Greenwich Village, Soho, Little Italy, Chinatown) is strongly for congestion pricing. A resolution this Jan. 29 by C.B. 2 said the board supports the concept because “... traffic congestion on our streets has increased exponentially over the last several years, with an additional 150,000 for-hire vehicles flooding our streets, resulting in increased noise and air pollution, hazardous conditions for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists alike, and high costs to business.” In addition, the Board 2 resolution noted, the M.T.A. simply desperately needs this cash infusion, but it must go into a “locked box” for transportation. As for complaints that bike lanes and bus lanes are causing the traffic —

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VICTORIA SCHNEPS-YUNIS JOSHUA SCHNEPS LINCOLN ANDERSON GABE HERMAN MICHELE HERMAN BOB KRASNER TEQUILA MINSKY MARY REINHOLZ PAUL SCHINDLER JOHN NAPOLI MARCOS RAMOS CLIFFORD LUSTER (718) 260-2504 CLUSTER@CNGLOCAL.COM MARVIN ROCK GAYLE GREENBURG JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO ELIZABETH POLLY

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let’s face it, the buses are way too slow, so more dedicated lanes for them are what’s needed, and bike lanes are also essential: Bike lanes encourage healthy activity and health over all, bikes don’t pollute and they are far, far less dangerous than cars to pedestrians, other bikers and other drivers. There should not be a rollback on bike lanes. That ship has sailed, to mix metaphors. Bikes are also just one of the fastest and most convenient ways to get around, especially in densely packed Manhattan, where nothing is really that far away — but where gridlock and transit woes make trips so much longer than they should take. Meanwhile, the other boroughs have been more strongly opposed to congestion plans and bridge tolls. Queens, in particular, is known for having inadequate mass transit. The woeful state of the city’s public transit system, combined with the stark increase in traffic volume in recent years, has made congestion pricing a necessary evil in the eyes of many. But it needs to come with changes for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and for commuters from the other boroughs alike. For one thing, the M.T.A. must do more to trim the fat from its corporate budget. The overhead in the M.T.A. is staggering; more than one-quarter of all its employees earn in excess of $100,000 a year at a time that the authority faces an unprecedented deficit. Leadership must be held accountable to cut costs as the public is asked to pay more for improvements. For this plan to be truly palatable to all New York City residents, the city and state must follow through with the promise to use that revenue solely on public transportation improvements — and those improvements must begin almost immediately. Funds from congestion pricing will be used to improve ferry service, in addition to bus service. The city and M.T.A. must also fully fund Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Bus Forward initiative. S.B.S. allows for larger buses, off-board fare collection and dedicated bus lanes, all of which aim to move commuters around more quickly. The congestion pricing plan must also serve to provide a down payment for the future of public transportation. If congestion pricing is going to work for New York City, then the city and state must keep their promise, and it must be an unshakable, unconditional pact. For this “tax” on drivers, the city must finally provide all New Yorkers with a modern, efficient public transportation system. Schneps Media


Op-Ed

Letters to the Editor

New biz bills don’t fix closings’ cause BY SHARON WOOLUMS

O

n March 18, the City Council’s Small Business Committee held a hearing on nine bills that Mark Gjonaj, the committee’s chairperson, claims would help struggling small businesses. This was the largest number of bills submitted at any one time to “help” small businesses. Meanwhile, lawmakers in all boroughs are hosting forums and community boards are holding meetings to address “high-rent blight” and the resultant empty stores. Will something finally be done for mom-and-pop merchants facing a crisis to survive — or is this just political theater to appease an angry public? The priority must be to stop the store closings before focusing on new programs or encouraging new businesses to open. Last year, New York City recorded 413 commercial court evictions each month! Because legal costs and shortterm leases don’t justify the expense, the majority of businesses do not fight it out in court, resulting in 1,200 to 1,300 closures each month. If a new initiative works and one business opens but three close, that’s not progress! If our government can’t address the root cause of the closures of successful long-established businesses — what chance will new businesses have when their leases expire? Prime sponsors of these new bills were asked two questions: “Do you consider your bill a substitute for the Small Business Jobs Survival Act?” and “As a sponsor of the S.B.J.S.A., will the introduction of these bills cause you to no longer support the S.B.J.S.A.?” All answered “No” to both, except Chairperson Gjonaj, who made it clear he is not a sponsor of the S.B.J.S.A. In what may come as a surprise to Villagers, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, once a proud sponsor of the S.B.J.S.A., removed his name from it before becoming Schneps Media

speaker. Johnson made good on his word that the Council would hold a hearing on the longdelayed bill — but it’s now already six months since that hearing occurred. Councilmember Carlina Rivera said she is looking forward to these bills, and that the S.B.J.S.A. is also being considered for a full Council vote as soon as possible. Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, though still a supporter, said, “Its passage has been delayed for years by the Council’s strong concern that S.B.J.S.A. would not survive a legal challenge.”

Lease renewals are the key. Indeed, in 2009, thenCouncil Speaker Christine Quinn blocked a vote on the S.B.J.S.A. — which was sure to pass — with a bogus legal roadblock that was later proven false. Sung Soo Kim is New York City’s leading small business authority and drafter of the S.B.J.S.A. Asked if he believed any of these bills would really “help” small businesses, Kim said, “The absolute essential component of any law to stop the closing of businesses is giving tenants the right to renewal of the lease, without which all proposals will fail.” The S.B.J.S.A. would give commercial tenants the right to mediation, followed by, if needed, binding arbitration to negotiate fair lease-renewal rents with their landlords. At the June 2009 hearing on the Jobs Survival Act — which, with 32 sponsors, was sure to pass — David Yassky, then-chairperson of the Small Business Committee, summed up the crisis. “I believe we absolutely have to do something. Period,” he said. “It’s not an option to do nothing. … We cannot allow them to be pushed to the point of disappearance, which is what is happening now.”

article, March 21): This is so overdue. So many dogs suffering so that the heartless “millers” can make money. It’s deeply disturbing and oh so wrong. Getting this bill passed would be huge!

Dysfunction is over now To The Editor: Re “Cameras’ speedy return” (editorial, March 21): There are few greater examples of past political dysfunction in Albany than the ongoing saga of our school speed cameras, which went dark last summer due to Republican intransigence in the state Legislature. That era is over. Last week, our Democratic majority voted to dramatically expand New York City’s speed camera program to a total of 750 cameras, putting the minds of anxious parents, like myself, at ease. New Yorkers should be especially grateful to Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who championed this legislation for years in the state Assembly. Our city is a safer place as a result. Brad Hoylman Hoylman is state senator, 27th District

Ackers Awards really rock To The Editor: Re “Acker Awards to honor D’town’s avant-garde” (arts article, March 21): Clayton Patterson is grabbing history by the horns in honoring people who have contributed to Downtown culture and the arts. This induction ceremony is like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the underground heroes of the Lower East Side. For those of us who have operated largely outside of academia and its star-making machinery, this recognition is critical. I love our turf and was thrilled to be have been included last year and join the more than 200 movers and shakers representing our ’hood, the worldwide Capital of Hip. Congratulations to this year’s winners! Thank you, Clayton, thank you, LES, and thank you, Villager. Jeffrey C. Wright

Andrea Foley

Omar wrist slap was weak COURTESY MARNI HALASA

Marni Halasa set up her “Cemeter y of Small Businesses” outside a March 18 City Hall hearing on several bills that she and fellow activists say would not solve the cit y’s small business crisis.

It’s like our own Oscars To The Editor: Re “Acker Awards to honor D’town’s avant-garde” (arts article, March 21): I’ve been to a few of these ceremonies and I recommend attending them to anyone. I see the Ackers as the New York City art underground equivalent of the Oscars, except it’s the underground honoring its own rather than market-driven hype and politics of fashion determining cultural accomplishment and artistic contribution. The Ackers are the real deal and this year I’m up for one! To other worthy creatives in the NYC woodwork: Your time will come. For the Acker Awards, merit is not on the order of worthiness or age, I find. Otherwise, how could I get this award before someone like, say, Al Diaz a.k.a. SAMO? So, next year, Al, because I’m nominating you. Anyway, this promises to be a lively event. Linus Brant

Go, ‘puppy mill’ bill! To The Editor: Re “Rosenthal unleashes bill to shut ‘puppy mills’” (news

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To The Editor: Re “Maloney, pols, faith leaders: End the hate” (news article, March 21; in print in Manhattan Express and online on thevillager.com): When Congresswoman Maloney can stand up to Nancy Pelosi and insist that she throw Omar off the Foreign Relations Committee, that’s when it will be time to believe any of Maloney’s anti-hate rhetoric. Unless and until that happens, everything she says about the subject of anti-Semitism makes her nothing more than a phony baloney Maloney. Rebecca Harary

Angels kept block ‘safe’ To The Editor: Re “Hells Angels ride off from E. 3rd St. clubhouse” (news article, March 13): It seems to me that residents seem to have forgotten that this was the only place in New York where there were no problems during the blackouts back in the 1970s and ’80s. Who the hell would run the risk of breaking into the wrong house there? Peter Ashton E-mail letters, maximum 250 words, 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. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

March 28, 2019

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Fiore’s slice lets the sauce shine through.

Fiore’s Pizza, a thin crust... with big flavor BY GABE HERMAN

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ew Yorkers are famously proud, and often snobbish, when it comes to their pizza. Which makes reviewing any local pizza a touchy subject. But when it comes to Village pizzerias, while Joe’s is quite good and gets all the glory and tourists, Fiore’s Pizza may actually make the best slice. Fiore’s is at 165 Bleecker St., between Thompson and Sullivan Sts. The slices have fresh ingredients and a thin crust. The tomato sauce is rich and not overpowered by the cheese, which doesn’t cover the whole slice and allows the sauce’s taste to come through. Fiore’s was opened in 2012 and replaced Pizza Booth at the same location. Its owner, Steve Cunningham, is a retired New York City firefighter. He opened the shop in honor of his fellow firefighter and best Schneps Media

friend Mike Fiore, who died on 9/11 and had dreamed of one day owning a pizzeria. A tribute to Fiore hangs on one of the walls inside the pizza place. The shop can get busy on weekends and late nights, with its location in the heart of the Bleecker St. nightlife scene. It’s open until 4 a.m. every day of the week. But during the day, it’s more relaxed inside. And the quality slices can be picked up in a more lowkey setting than the often chaotic, crowded scene at Joe’s. Slices with toppings are sometimes available, including pepperoni, sausage and mushroom. But the regular slices are the star for those looking to just appreciate a good slice of pizza made right. Fiore’s has other menu items, including salads, sandwiches and calzones. More information can be found at fiorespizzanyc. com.

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Dems push to protect immigrants with new bill BY TEQUIL A MINSK Y

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n Wed., March 20, at the Tenement Museum, on Orchard St., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Congressmembers Nydia Velazquez, Yvette Clarke, Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, along with community activists, called for passage of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019. The act, introduced March 12 by Congressmember Lucille Roybal-Allard, with co-sponsors Velazquez and Clarke, alongside House Democratic leadership, provides protection from deportation for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients and an opportunity to obtain permanent legal status in the United States, if they meet certain requirements. American Dream and Promise Act. According to The Center for America Progress, the average TPS recipient has lived in the U.S. for 22 years â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the vast majority of that time in lawful status; while those who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) came to America at age 6. The National Immigration Forum writes that protections in the American Dream and Promise Act would allow nearly 700,000 DACA recipients,

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

House Speaker Nanc y Pelosi led elected officials at the Tenement Museum on March 20 in calling for passage of the American Dream and Promise Act.

as well as another 1.6 million eligible Dreamers brought to America as children, to stay in the U.S. The billâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s protections would also allow more than

300,000 TPS holders and up to 3,600 individuals with DED status to have the opportunity to remain in the country.

The Tenement Museum focuses on the history of Lower East Side immigrant families who lived in its two historic tenements during different eras.

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In Pictures

Art photogâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s views of Vessel at Hudson Yards BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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owntown photographer Milo Hess would not have missed the opportunity to shoot Vessel at the opening of Hudson Yards on Fri., March 15. The interactive sculpture is the centerpiece of the new complex, located just south of the Javits Convention Center. The newly constructed structure offers some great views of the Hudson River, New Jersey and Greenwich Village. But Hess, known for his art photos, was naturally more interested in the unusual angular views of the Vessel itself. Designed by English architect Thomas Heatherwick, the 15-story-tall artwork is a honeycomb of copper-coated steel. It sports 154 staircases, 80 landings and 2,500 steps, and has a capacity of 700 people. If you walk up and down it in a continuous circular path, the distance traveled is one mile. There is a small elevator, as well.

A glowing blue circle is on the ground-floor level at the center of Vessel.

PHOTOS BY MILO HESS

A look up at Vessel from right underneath it.

(And, no, the glowing blue light in the center of Vesselâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s floor is actually not a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Star Trekâ&#x20AC;?-like â&#x20AC;&#x153;transporterâ&#x20AC;? that will beam you up to the structureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top. But it looks pretty cool.) Vessel is completely open to the elements. So, if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pouring rain or snowing, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t expect it to be open. Vessel is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s free, but timed tickets much be purchased online at www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com/discover/staircase/. While the soaring structure has garnered plenty of praise, there will, of course, always be critics â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and jokesters: Slate, for one, likened it to a gigantic shawarma rotisserie grill.

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YOUTH

& EDUCATION

It’s E.R.A. era, at last, pols tell Girls Club BY ALEJANDR A O’CONNELL-DOMENECH

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ast week, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul visited the Lower Eastside Girls Club to talk about an important issue for the teens — one that has also been an issue for women of all ages for decades. What they told the young women is that they have the power to finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The E.R.A. would guarantee equal legal rights for all Americans regardless of sex, something that has yet to be explicitly included in the U.S. Constitution. It’s an issue that both women have previously fought for. “So what are we talking about here, the Equal Rights Amendment, have you ever heard of this before?” Hochul asked as the roomful of young women patiently sat in silence waiting for her explanation. The E.R.A. was written and first introduced in Congress in 1923. In 1943 the amendment was rewritten to include its current wording: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It was this version that was eventually passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in 1972 by a two-thirds majority and sent for ratification with a seven-year deadline. The deadline was then extended to 1982. But by the time the deadline passed, only 35 states had ratified the amendment. In order for the E.R.A. officially to become part of the Constitution, 38 states need to ratify it. “One would think that by now in 2019 we could fix that problem, right?” Hochul said. “What is the obstacle? Because we are simply trying to write the rights of women in our Constitution.” The obstacle, according to Hochul is “people out there who want to keep the status quo. People who do not believe that women should be paid the same amount as men for doing the same job, have equal rights in the workplace, have access to childcare or should not have to worry about being harassed at school or work. “We don’t get to sit on our sidelines anymore,” she said. “We have to be out there, and young people have tremendous power.” Hochul then referenced the massive wave of teenage activism for gun reform following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14 of last year that killed 17 and injured 17 more. “That is the power of young people,” she said. While the lieutenant governor spoke of the future, Maloney reflected on the past — and announced a new effort to honor one particular women’s rights pioneer. “This month I would like to do two things,” Maloney said. “I want to put in a bill in Congress to create a statue for Harriet Tubman.” The congressmember did not specify where the new statue might be located. New York City is already home to a sculpture of the abolitionist at the Harriet Tubman Memorial in Harlem. The second woman Maloney wants to honor is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose

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COURTESY LES GIRLS CLUB

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, front row, four th and sixth from left, told Lower East Side Girls Club members about the new push to finally pass the E.R. A .

Women protesting for passage of the E.R. A . in the 1970s.

image was the victim of anti-Semitic graffiti at the Nassau Ave. G-line subway stop in Brooklyn on March 14. “I think that the best way to fight back is why don’t we name a post office after Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” she said. “Let’s fight back.” Maloney then thanked Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright for her work in passing the Equal Rights Amendment Resolution in the New York State Assembly in 2017, calling on Congress to act on the long-stalled amendment. Maloney also thanked state Senator Julia Salazar, chairperson of the Committee on Women’s Health, who is introducing the same piece of legislation in the state Senate. Both politicians had representatives in the room. Although most in the room were on the same page as the congressmember and lieutenant governor, some wanted to know if the E.R.A. as it stands now, really is as progressive and inclusive as the pols presented it to be. TVG

“How do you plan to address the intersectionality of gender and orientation?” asked Shandra Rogers, 17, one of the Girls Club members. Rogers added that the idea of gender is very different in 2019 than it was when the E.R.A. was drafted decades ago. According to reporting from Politico, some progressives, including state Senator Liz Krueger, believe the act’s language is too limiting, and that there should indeed be more categories, such as gender expression, pregnancy and mental disability. Krueger introduced an amendment two years ago that included 12 new categories. But Maloney stated that she thought the language of the amendment as it stands was completely inclusive. “We are very cognizant of the need to make sure that we don’t hit this intersectionality and make that the view of gender is not just binary,” Hochul said. “In my opinion, it covers everybody,” Maloney said. March 28, 2019

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Should Michael Jackson mural ‘beat it’? BY GABE HERMAN

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he East Village mural of Michael Jackson that went up last summer will stay up, according to the artist who painted it. The new HBO documentary about the singer, “Leaving Neverland,” highlights damning new sex-abuse allegations against the late “King of Pop.” However, a survey of the area found people mostly supportive of the mural and Jackson. Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra put up several murals around the city over several months last year, as The Villager reported. The works were part of Kobra’s “Colors of Freedom” project. They included Mother Teresa and Gandhi in Chelsea, a 9/11 firefighter on the Upper East Side, and a Run-DMC mural in the East Village. The Michael Jackson mural went up in July and is at E. 11 St. and First Ave. It is a splitportrait of Jackson’s face, with the left side showing him as a child during his Jackson 5 days, and the right side depicting him as an adult. Jackson faced child sexabuse allegations going back decades to when he was still the biggest pop star in the world. The HBO documentary aired March 3 and 4, and brought the issue back with detailed descriptions from two

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

Eduardo Kobra’s split-por trait mural of Michael Jackson at E. 11th St. and First Ave.

men who claimed they were sexually abused by Jackson over several years. Kobra has decided to keep the mural up, he recently told Timeout NY. He said the mural was not simply a tribute, but showed Jackson’s transformations in his life, including black to white, kid to adult, and natural to unnatural, he said. “I was trying to describe that people sometimes have to go through so much to be able to reach their own peace of mind, and even then, sometimes doesn’t matter what people do, they can never reach that peace,” Kobra said in the Timeout NY interview. The muralist also noted Jackson’s major place and impact in music history. “We can’t just erase him from history,” he said. “These new allegations can be true or not. It is not up to me to judge if MJ is guilty or not. I really hope that mural can do its part and bring us to think about it all and how we, as persons and as a community, will deal with this new fact concerning MJ’s life.” Two visitors from Germany, standing at the East Village corner, said they thought the mural should stay. “I love it,” said Daniella Schneider, who noted she has the same birthday as Michael Jackson. She said she doesn’t believe the accusations against Jackson, and that the mural enlivens the building and the

area. Franco Carbone agreed that the artwork gave soul to the building, and brought people together to talk about it. He said it was good to have a tribute for Jackson. “I like the message,” he said. “He’s the King of Pop.” Carbone also doesn’t believe the accusations, and said bad news gets more attention than good news, including in the media. “It’s better business,” he said. A food vendor posted right beside the mural also didn’t believe the accusations against Jackson and said the mural should stay up. “Why not? He’s a legend,” he said. “There’s nobody like him.” But another woman thought the mural should be taken down. She believed the allegations against Jackson, and said she now found it disturbing to see his oversized image on the wall. “The mural depicts him as larger than life,” she said, “and, in a way, puts him on a pedestal, which disrespects the children he hurt and all who are affected by abuse.” Artist Kobra, in his recent statement about the Jackson mural, put a positive spin on things. “Hopefully,” he said, “this discussion leads us all to the desire to be a better person every day.”

Locals freakin’ over vegan delivery guys BY GABE HERMAN

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n recent months, police have been cracking down on groups of delivery people who congregate outside of the popular vegan restaurant by Chloe as they wait to pick delivery orders for apps like Postmates. At the Sixth Precinct’s Build The Block meeting last month, Neighborhood Coordination Officers Brian Garcia and Annalee Simon updated locals about the situation. Basically, there have been complaints about some delivery people blocking the sidewalk, drinking and smoking outside the popular eatery on MacDougal St., near Bleecker St. Simon said that most of the delivery people worked for Postmates. The app gets a lot of delivery orders from by Chloe, so the workers wait there for an order to come in on their phone. They can then pick up the order and bicycle away to make the delivery.

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March 28, 2019

trian traffic. “As long as they’re following the rules, they can stand there,” he said. “We don’t want them to, but they can.” Simon said they reached out to the delivery companies and got positive responses from most, with Postmates being a notable exception. She said that Grubhub, Seamless, Caviar and Uber Eats all sent out letters to their delivery people saying that they must follow the laws, and that anyone not doing so would not be able to work for them. Simon said of Postmates, “They’re being a little more difficult,” but did not elaborate. When this newspaper reached out to Postmates, a spokesperson said the company’s Trust and Safety team was aware of the situation and working to address the problem. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our community, and we have zero tolerance for illegal, offensive, harassing or threatening con-

“In the past month, we’ve confiscated eight bikes on that corner and 15 total,” Garcia reported at the Feb. 20 meeting. He said that did not include summonses — he said they were issuing a lot of them — along with an increased police presence to monitor the area. “It kind of slowed down a bit, they’re not really there anymore,” Garcia said of the delivery persons. But it was noted that the groups might reappear as the weather warms up. Sure enough, delivery groups are now starting to be seen around that corner again in March as temperatures gradually rise. Instead of being directly in front of by Chloe, the popular vegan restaurant that opened in 2015, the groups now often gather next door in front of a vacant space that formerly housed the Japanese restaurant Okamisan. Garcia said it’s not illegal for the delivery workers to stand in front of the vacant restaurant, as long as they’re not smoking, drinking or blocking pedesTVG

duct from anyone on our platform,” the Trust and Safety team said in a statement. “We have provided By Chloe with a direct escalation line to our Trust & Safety team and we are conducting further investigations to proactively detect any behavior in violation of our policies taking place on Bleecker Street.” A local resident at the February Build The Block meeting said it might be more effective for community members to complain directly to Postmates, instead of just letting the police handle it. He said that people should tell Postmates that they won’t use their service if the problem isn’t addressed. “I mean, we have a voice in the community, as well,” the Villager said. “Sometimes it’s more important for people to hear from the actual residents.” “That would definitely help,” Simon said of the idea. Schneps Media


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March 28, 2019

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PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER

Ed Sanders signing a Ferlinghetti bir thday card, which was signed by all the readers at the Howl! event.

Feting Ferlinghetti as Beat icon turns 100 enthusiastic audience reading of the poet’s classic “I Am Waiting.” However, the appearance of scheduled performer Laurie Anderson — who actually was arriving at her scheduled time — sent everyone back to their seats. The day ended with a lovely collaboration between her and Eric Andersen. Ferlinghetti did not attend any of the events celebrating his centenary. Per his Web page: “Lawrence Ferlinghetti would like everyone to know that although he won’t be attending any of the various events being planned to honor his 100th birthday, he’s inviting everyone to participate and have a good time: ‘I’m happy to hear that there are so many people celebrating my birthday. Makes it really special. I figure that with another 100 birthdays that’ll be about enough!'”

BY BOB KR ASNER

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oets and musicians with connections to the Beat Generation and the East Village gathered at the Howl! Happening gallery, at 6 E. First St., on Sunday to pay tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The legendary Yonkers-born poet, painter and publisher entered his 100th year that day. Emceed by poet Bob Holman, the event saw the gallery packed and a long and consistently entertaining afternoon of readers alternating between works of Ferlinghetti and their own. The esteemed group included Ed Sanders, Hettie Jones, Anne Waldman, David Henderson, Eileen Myles, Lenny Kaye, Eric Andersen, Helixx C. Armageddon, Maggie Dubris, Puma Perl and Michael McClure, the latter via video link from Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. The celebration appeared to end earlier than expected, after an extremely

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March 28, 2019

Anne Waldman, far left, and Lenny Kaye par ticipating in the audience read-along of Ferlinghetti’s famous poem “I Am Waiting.”

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Attasit Pokpong: Intensity amid the Noir

“My Lady,” by Attasit Pokpong, 67 inches by 59 inches, oil on linen.

“Lady #1,” by Attasit Pokpong, 24 inches by 28 inches, oil on linen.

BY NANCY ELSAMANOUDI

T

he New York art world is both wonderfully local and wonderfully international. Artists come here from all over the world to work, to dialogue with the other artists and to show their work. Attasit Pokpong is one such artist. Pokpong is a rising art star in Thailand who has also shown extensively in Europe. In Thailand, Pokpong’s iconic signature portraits of Sino-Asian women are readily recognized and often imitated. Pokpong recently came to New York and set up a studio at the famed 56 Bogart building in Bushwick for about six months in order to focus on a new body of work. Some of this new work is now up on view at his solo show, “The Blooming of a New Sense (Self),” at SFA projects, on Lower East Side, until April 7. The painting “My Lady #1,” one of the first works you see as you enter the gallery, is a prime example of the type of portraiture that helped solidify Pokpong’s reputation in Thailand. This stunning piece highlights Pokpong’s great facility with oil as a medium. He is a virtuoso who can paint in thin, translucent layers of glaze with Catherine Murphy-like precision one minute and throw down thick, lush juicy paint the next. His incredible feeling for light is subtle and understated. In “My Lady #1,” Pokpong dazzles the viewer with a superb, mostly gray portrait of a beautiful woman Schneps Media

either standing in the rain or “Collage Mix Marilyn and My Lady,” by Attasit looking out a window Pokpong, 9 inches by 8.5 inches, oil on linen. covered in raindrops. This painting has a real presence in the intensity of the woman’s gaze. She this gem calls to mind other contemporary artists that seems to be staring at someone or something. The Pokpong seems to be in conversation with, such as intensity of the her gaze, the tension, the psychological charge of this painting is amped up by its limited, Wangechi Mutu. When I first saw this painting, there was a moment Film Noir-like color palette. On another wall at the gallery hangs a magnificent, in which it shifted for me and I couldn’t tell if I was grand-scale painting, “My Lady.” This painting also looking at a woman or man wearing a woman’s wig. Here, Pokpong seems to be saying, “Well yes, my has muted mostly neutral colors and its understated palette makes its subject of a self unraveling even more 21st-century Marilyn has an Asian nose, a crazy Holunsettling. The color and the surface of the raw linen lywood do, and impossibly sexy lips.” “The Blooming of the New Sense (Self),” at SFA superbly underscores the Francis Bacon-like perversity of depicting a beautiful pink-lipped head gloriously Projects, 131 Chrystie St., until April 7. imploding behind a sandy background. It’s as if the woman in the painting got herself dolled up 212 - 254 - 1109 | www.theaterforthenewcity.net | 155 First Ave. NY, NY 10003 to go to the beach, and then when she got there, her head exploded. Meanwhile, “Collage Mix Marilyn and My Lady” is a painting of a strikingly badass woman in bright, purple lipstick wearing Marilyn Monroe’s signature coif. This small piece explodes FA U S T Sign in the Six O’Clock Sky Still At Risk with loud urban punk by Czechoslovak-American Written by Tim Pinckney Written By Arnol Schulman color. The fierce, pointMarionette Theatre (CAMT) Directed by Carl Andress Directed by Shela Xoregos ed grit of this painting Directed by Vit Horejs Thur - Sat 8PM, Sun 3PM T - W 7PM, TH - S 8pm, S- Sun 3PM Fri - Sat 8PM, Sun 3PM is really satisfying, and March 28 - March 31

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March 26 - March 31

March 28 - April 07

March 28, 2019

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Manhattan Happenings queens, played by Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo, who drive to Hollywood to attend the Miss Drag Queen of America Pageant. The screening will include a discussion by Untitled Queen, a Brooklyn drag artist. Mon., April 8, at 8 p.m. at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave., at W. Third St. Tickets $16, $13 for children and seniors. For more information visit, http://www.ifccenter.com/ films/to-wong-foo-thanks-for-everythingjulie-newmar/

BY ROSE ADAMS AND RICO BRUNEY

ARTS Distance and Perception in the Wake of Climate Change: Artist Torkwase Dyson will be at The Cooper Union to deliver a free public lecture at the opening of her new exhibition, “I Can Drink the Distance.” The talk’s focus will be on how her work is informed by issues, such as contemporary colonization and forced migration brought about by climate change. The talk takes place on Tues., April 2, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in The Cooper Union’s Great Hall, at 7 E. Seventh St., between Third and Fourth Aves. The exhibition can be viewed at The Cooper Union’s annex at 41 Cooper Square and runs through Thurs., April 25. Free.

RECREATIONAL Fresh Bites Cooking Class: Rainbo’s Fish, a vendor in the Essex Street Market, offers a weekly, bilingual (Spanish and English) cooking class that teaches people how to prepare affordable, vegetable-based meals. Classes are on Wednesdays, run for a half-hour, and begin at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m, at 120 Essex St. Free.

COMEDY “The Day I Became Black” is a one-man show by comedian Bill Posley in which he discusses race from his perspective as a biracial man. Posley finds himself labeled black by society, and wrestles with how his skin color affects how he is “supposed” to be. At the Soho Playhouse, at 15 Vandam St., starting Thurs., March 28, and running through Mon., April 15. Tickets $39. The show runs an hour long. For showtimes, tickets and other information, contact the box office at 212-691-1555 or boxoffice@sohoplayhouse.com or visit https://www.sohoplayhouse.com/the-day-i-became-black.

TALKS PHOT0S BY BOB KRASNER

Councilmember Carlina Rivera spoke at a rally outside the Village View apar tment complex, at E. Four th St. and Avenue A , last week at which residents decried the M.T. A .’s plan to eliminate some stops along the M14A and M14D routes. The cit y plans to implement Select Bus Ser vice, but seniors and those with disabilities don’t want to lose bus stops.

COMMUNITY M14 S.B.S. Proposal Open House: Following some local opposition to the M.T.A.’s intention to eliminate a number of bus stops along the M14A/D routes when planned M14 Select Bus Service goes into effect, the New York City Transit Authority will hold an open house where residents can share their thoughts on the plan, on Tues., April 2, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Seventh Precinct police stationhouse, at 19 Pitt St.

“Are You Alice: A New Wonderland Tale”: This multidisciplinary performance of music, dancing and puppetry features scenes and characters from Lewis Carroll’s original books, reimagined for the 21st century. The production follows the evolution of Alice’s character, and touches on themes of women’s identity and self-acceptance. Thurs., March 28, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tank, 312 W. 36th St., first floor. Tickets $15. To learn more, visit https://www.thetanknyc.org/calendar/areyoualice-march28

FILM Feminist Film Night: The Brooklyn Museum will screen seven short films by groundbreaking women filmmakers from the borough, all of whom address questions of women’s self-representation, on Thurs., March 28, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at 200 Eastern Parkway. Tickets $16, general museum admission included. For more information, visit https://www. brooklynmuseum.org/calendar/event/feminist_film_ night_march_2019 Queer|Art|Film 2019: Winter’s a Drag: The last screening of the IFC’s annual Queer|Art|Film series will be “To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.” The film stars three New York City drag Schneps Media

Facing the Future: The Museum of the City of New York’s exhibition “Germ City” explores how the Big Apple has responded to previous health epidemics and how that helped shape the city as we know it. Experts in the public-health field will participate in a panel discussion related to the exhibition on Wed., April 3, at which they will discuss methods to predict and prepare for future disease outbreaks and the ethical questions surrounding them. The event runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the museum, at 1220 Fifth Ave., between E. 103rd and E. 104th Sts. Attendees can also join the museum’s chief curator for an introduction to the exhibition’s gallery at 5:30 p.m. Tickets $15. “Germ City” runs through Sun., April 28. For more information and to sign up, visit https://www.mcny.org/event/facingfuture-predicting-and-preparing-disease-outbreaks.

COMMUNITY BOARDS Community Board 4 meets at 6:30 p.m. Wed., April 3, at Mt. Sinai West, 1000 Tenth Ave., second floor, Conference Room B. Community Board 7 meets at 6:30 p.m. Tues., April 2, at Mount Sinai West, 1000 Tenth Ave.

Protesters at last week’s rally said they’re going to “pull out all the stops” to save all the bus stops along the M14A and M14D routes.

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COMMUNITY COUNCIL 9th Precinct Community Council meets at 7 p.m. Mon., April 1, at 153 E. 67th St. March 28, 2019

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People

Levine picks Soho singer on ‘The Voice’ BY ALEJANDR A O’CONNELL-DOMENECH

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Soho native has made it onto “The Voice,” a singing competition series on NBC now in its 16th season. On Mon., March 18, 17-year-old Celia Babini sang “idontwannabeyouanymore,” by Billie Ellish, and earned a spot on Team Adam, meaning that judge Adam Levine has committed to mentoring her as the competition continues. “It did not feel real,” Babini said in a phone interview. “It’s an incredibly surreal experience because you go from being this rather undiscovered young artist — my biggest show I had ever played was like 1,500 people — to singing in front of four incredibly well-respected, amazing artists. It feels fake but it felt amazing.” Each season begins with “blind auditions” in front of the show’s four judges: singers Levine, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Blake Shelton. As the contestants perform onstage in front of a massive audience, the judges listen with their backs to the contestant, so as to only judge them on their voice. If a singer’s sound strikes a chord with a judge, he or she hits a button that turns the judge’s chair and flashes on a light that says, “I want you.” At the end of the audition, contestants can then choose which team they want to join for the remainder of their time on the show. “The Voice” is a possibly lifechanging opportunity for contestants since winners of the competition are offered a record deal and $100,000. Either way, Babini said she’s committed to her dream of being a singer/songwriter. “Honestly, regardless of the outcome, I want to release music,” said Babini. Despite her young age, Babini has always demonstrated an incredible amount of artistic direction. It’s something that she perhaps inherited from her par-

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PHOTO BY CHRIS HASTON/NBC

Celia Babini is a contestant on Season 16 of “The Voice” and has been tapped to be a member of Team Adam.

ents. Her father, Luca Babini, is a top international photographer, and her mother, Bonnie Young, is a clothing designer. Babini is currently a senior at LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and Performing Arts, on the Upper West Side. At the age of 3, Babini started singing and by age 6, began writing her own songs. Eventually, she taught herself how to play the guitar and piano and pushed to perform at what she considers small venues, like The Bitter End and The Delancey, in New York, and The Commodore, in Nashville. Shortly before auditioning for “The Voice,” Babini had been performing in Los Angeles, and had performed in front of 1,500 people at an anniversary party in Chicago, her largest audience up until her time on “The Voice.” Despite her achievements, Babini acknowledges she still has a lot to learn about singing, songwriting and performing. So far, she said, she has learned one important lesson: “Don’t be afraid to go out there and take risks.”

March 28, 2019

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Real Estate

Outdoor space is nice, but is it worth it? BY MARTHA WILKIE

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any New Yorkers dream of having a little outdoor space of their own. But for those lucky enough to afford a bit of earth (or balcony or roof deck), do they really use it? My first post-college apartments (with a bunch of roommates) in Boston was a rowhouse with a deck and backyard. I rarely set foot in the backyard! Nowadays, of course, I’d love to have a garden, but could never afford it in today’s market. Laura Rich, founder of Exit Club, a group for successful entrepreneurs, used to live in a studio on W. 13th St. with a shared garden. She misses the space, where she used to throw elegant parties. “The garden made the tiny space feel luxurious,” she said. Now she lives in a house with a yard in Boulder, Colorado, but mourns the loss of her New York City outdoor space. “My backyard here is unkempt and gets too hot in the summer,” she said. Agent Beth Chase has buyers who insist upon it. “There are clients who will not live without outdoor space,” she explained. “Beautiful outdoor space is rare.There is a premium, but it adds great value to the apartment.” One of the places Chase currently represents is in the East Village, a two-bedroom, two-bath with a private balcony at 70 E. 10th St. “This apartment is a rare find,” she said. “The sunsets are incredible.” The views of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and the spire of Grace Church belong in a fantasy movie

This East Harlem apar tment offers a rooftop deck getaway.

Take me to the river: Coveted East River views come with this E. 96th St. abode.

version of New York. It’s on the market for $2.64 million. https://streeteasy.com/building/stewart-house/18f In East Harlem, a two-bedroom, onebath condo at 353 E. 104th St., Apartment 9A, has a private balcony and communal roof deck. The deck sports attractive outdoor furniture and plantings, including herb boxes. Observatory Place, which is LEED certified, is a new doorman building with an amenity newly popular for the Fresh Direct-era: refrigerated storage for deliveries. $795,000. https://streeteasy.com/building/observatory-place/9a

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On the Upper East side, a penthouse unit in a new development at 302 E. 96th St., has a roof deck with breathtaking East River views. Two bedrooms, two baths. $2.025 million. https://streeteasy.com/building/vitrecondominium/ph3s For rent in Harlem at 2032 Fifth Ave. is a one-bedroom, one-bath in a brownstone with a glorious roof deck with panoramic views. The second-floor home features central air, a nice original mantlepiece, marble kitchen countertops, central AC and a virtual doorman. https://streeteasy.com/building/2032-5avenue-manhattan/2b

The sk y’s the limit with a one-bedroom apar tment in a brownstone on Fifth Ave. in Harlem that spor ts this roof deck. TVG

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Streaming now on Schneps Broadcasting! Meet the executive bringing more women to Wall Street

Oft-overlooked local doctor blazed trail for black female physicians BY MOSES JEFFERSON

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etâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hear it for the girls! Brooklyn Paper Radio this week took a page from its sister podcast Power Women, dedicating its latest episode to those females whose contributions to Kings County truly made it the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s better borough. Co-hosts Anthony Rotunno and Johnny Kunen recognized the culmination of another Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s History Month by inviting Brooklyn Historical Society curator Erin Wuebker on the show to fill them in on an upcoming exhibition she is putting together for the cultural center, which will showcase the life and legacy of a littleknown local doctor who blazed the trail for future female physicians when she started practicing in the County of Kings in the 19th century. Susan Smith McKinney Steward â&#x20AC;&#x201D; who lived in a neighborhood locals then called Weeksville, and now

call Crown Heights â&#x20AC;&#x201D; upended convention by becoming New York Stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first black female doctor, and the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s third, according to Wubker, who said history has often failed to give the pioneering physician the recognition she deserves. The 1847-born Steward treated borough women and children, a focus Wuebker said was largely due to societal conventions of her time. Her career will be featured as part of the curatorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s forthcoming â&#x20AC;&#x153;Taking Care of Brooklynâ&#x20AC;? exhibition, which will explore the history of care and public health in the borough when it opens at the Historical Society in May. But the show didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exclusively spotlight ladies â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the hosts also welcomed a gent poised to make his own mark on Kings County as the incoming editor-in-chief of Brooklyn Paper, and Schneps Mediaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s other local newspapers. Zach Gewelb, who previously ran our sister TimesLedg-

BY SCHNEPS MEDIA

T er newspapers published in Queens, this week took the reins atop our companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Brooklyn editorial operation, succeeding Rotunno, who gave a heartfelt thanks to those colleagues, readers, and listeners who inspired him during his almost two years with the boroughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s number-one news source. To learn more about the Paperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future, and the boroughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s medical past, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have to tune in to the show â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which will, of course, go on under Gewelb, but may take a week or two to return to the airwaves as he settles in. Brooklyn Paper Radio, recorded at our studio Downtown, debuts new episodes every Tuesday, and can be found, as always, on BrooklynPaper. com, iTunes, and Stitcher.

he weekly Power Women podcast has featured Judge Judy, Pat DiMango of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hot Bench,â&#x20AC;? Julie Menin and other women who have achieved success. This week, host Victoria Schneps-Yunis interviews Seema Hingorani â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the founder and chief investment officer of SevenStep Capital, and the founder and chairwoman of Girls Who Invest, a do-good organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in portfolio management and leadership positions within the assetmanagement industry â&#x20AC;&#x201D; on an all-new episode. During the podcast, Hingo-

rani â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an honoree at Schneps Mediaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s upcoming â&#x20AC;&#x153;WOW: Women of Wall Streetâ&#x20AC;? event â&#x20AC;&#x201D; discusses her parentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; unique immigrant story, growing up in a high-achieving family, and how she helps women get involved in investing. H i ngora n i also tells Schn e p s -Y u n i s about what inspired her to start Girls Who Invest, which she formed after noticing a dearth of women in positions within investment companies. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t realize how bad it was,â&#x20AC;? she said. Schneps Mediaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Power Women podcast shares notable womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s secrets to success. Full episodes are available at SchnepsBroadcasting. com.

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