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JACKSON CHEN

Preserving What’s Divine 04 & 05 Hate Crimes Surge In Wake of Trump Victory 06 December 15 – 28, 2016 | Vol. 02 No. 25

Eliminating Its Own Liability, Airbnb Drops Suit 14

“In Transit” Sings; Story Neither Here Nor There 20 MANHATTANEXPRESSNEWS.NYC


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December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Facing Bus Terminal Expansion,

Hell’s Kitchen Unites BY EILEEN STUKANE

A

f ter hav i ng t hei r but tons pushed by ­­everything from a lack of communication to eminent domain threats, members of the Hell’s Kitchen community are hitting “restart” on their approach to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s plans for expanding its aging bus terminal, now located between Eighth and Ninth Avenues from West 40th to West 42nd Streets. At a December 6 planning meeting, Community Board 4 chair Delores Rubin announced that the dozens of people who signed in at the door would have the opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas as a new coalition working on the issue takes shape. Concerned residents were invited to participate in the coalition tentatively named the Hell’s Kitchen South Alliance — at that night’s meeting by way of small, think tank-like groups, and, moving forward, as active members. Metro Baptist Church was a fitting venue for the meeting, as its location at 410 West 40th Street puts it squarely in the area floated as a viable site for a revamped bus terminal. The Port Authority’s initial plans were released without community input, with some scenarios involving the forced sale of residential and commercial property for the project through eminent domain. In response to a concerted outcry from the community and elected officials, the Port Authority has scrapped all its plans and created a New York/ New Jersey Working Group comprised of eight members each — including electeds and community leaders — from New York and New Jersey. Now that everyone is sitting at the same table, the community has greater confidence its voice will be heard. “Just like the community worked with the MTA on how to manage development rights on the Eastern Rail Yards, with the Port Author-

EILEEN STUKANE

CB4’s Joe Restuccia facilitates a brainstorming discussion on housing issues as part of a December 6 planning meeting for Hell’s Kitchen community members responding to Port Authority plans to build an expanded bus terminal.

ity, it’s the same thing,” said Joe Restuccia, executive director of Clinton Housing Development Compa ny a nd a CB4 member. “The PA owns all of this land in Hell’s Kitchen. How do the zoning rights move around? How do they get a terminal? Where does it go? W hat happens, and how do we make sure that, just as in Hudson Yards, that the community gets affordable housing, open space, community services, all the benefits and necessities that we need? This is the same thing, happening 12 years later.” CB4’s Port Authority Working Group laid the groundwork for the December 6 planning meeting by posting large sheets of paper along the church walls, each designating a different area of concern for the community: Small Business/ Community Services, Neighborhood Preservation, Air Quality, Parks, Transportation, Housing, and Additional Areas of Concern. Audience members were handed Post-it notes and encouraged to jot down their ideas and concerns and attach them to the mounted sheets of paper. As they did so, they mingled in discussion with other audience members and facilitators from CB4’s related committees. Those facilitators then reported to the full crowd about the ideas

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | December 15 – 28, 2016

they heard. Those mentioned most frequently included: — S av i n g sm a l l lo c a l businesses being pushed out due to rising property values. The Reverend Tiffany T. Henkel, executive director of Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries and pastor at Metro Baptist Church who was t he facilitator for Sma ll Business/ Community Services, said residents mentioned that small businesses were being lost while bars proliferated. They were part icula rly concer ned about t he possible loss of the Big Apple and Esposito meat markets. — The need for more schools. — The preservation of artist studios. — Maintaining a height limit on buildings. Restuccia, who was the Housing facilitator, reported that there is currently a 120-foot height restriction between Ninth and 10th Avenues, but a 250-foot restriction one block further east. — Housing for people of lower income, and help in getting access to that housing. — The use of platforming over bus ramps coming into the city, with park land designed on top of them. — Green roof installations. — Small green spaces created to attract birds and butterflies, as opposed to asphalt playgrounds.

— A lter native energ y buses, such as those powered by electricity, with the infrastructure adapted to support them. — The extension of the Number 7 subway, possibly into New Jersey. — Wider sidewalks. On the issue of saving small loc a l busi nesses, Rubi n sa id restoring the appropriate balance would likely require more than one solution — and legislation, as well. “We need to voice that issue and let our elected officials know that’s important to us,” she said. Bob Minor of the Hell’s Kitchen 50-51 Block Association proposed a plan for relocating the bus terminal to the Meadowlands in New Jersey — platforming it over parking lots for electric buses and using solar panels on the roof to charge them. Extending the 7 train to that new terminal, he said, would allow passengers to complete their commute to Manhattan via an expanded subway system. One aud ience member suggested that the new bus terminal could instead be built on pylons in the Hudson River, in a fashion similar to the Pier 55 floating park currently being constructed in the Hudson. The CB4 working group noted that an expanded bus terminal is just one piece of a much larger West Side transportation discussion that also encompasses consideration of an expanded Lincoln Tunnel, movement on the Gateway Program, which will increase rail track and tunnel capacity between New Jersey and New York, more Tra ns-Hudson fer r y service, and a possible 7 train extension to Secaucus. The realization of all these plans will be years in the making — but for West Siders, there is recognition that the “making” is here now. “We will synthesize this information as the coalition comes together,” Rubin said. “ This will be a starting point for the conversation. We’re going to be activists.” n

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After Two Decades, Morningside Heights Historic District In Sight BY JACKSON CHEN

A

fter more than 20 years of advocating for a new historic district at the northern reaches of the Upper West Side, residents and elected officials turned out in force on December 6 to offer support for the creation of the Morningside Heights Historic District during a Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing. The borders of the historic district proposed by the LPC form a jigsaw-like chunk within a neighborhood with rough boundaries from West 109th to West 119th Streets and Riverside Drive to Amsterdam Avenue. According to the agency, which calendared the proposal on September 13, the designation would include roughly 115 buildings created between the 1890s and the 1920s. LPC’s research staff report noted that the area was marked by bursts of residential development after the Interborough Rapid Transit subway arrived in 1904, with lines now known as the 1, 2, and 3 trains. Within the proposed district’s zigzagging borders, two religious institutions, the Broadway Presbyterian Church at 601 West 114th Street and Congregation Ramath Orah at 550 West 110th Street, were included in the designation. According to West Side Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, the community has called for an historic district in the area for the past two decades, during which time the pace of tall new developments there has accelerated. “My district is home to many of New York’s most recognizable landmarks, neighborhoods, and buildings,” Nadler said in his testimony. “In order to ensure their continued cultural and aesthetic impact, these sites must be properly preserved.” Spearheading the efforts at the community level, Laura Friedman, the president of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, spoke of the Beaux Arts style throughout the neighborhood that is an integrating force among a diverse array of historic buildings, creating a strong sense of place in the neighborhood. “People from all over the world come to Morningside Heights, one of the jewels in the crown in our proud city,” Friedman said. “The amazing thing about Morningside Heights is how this neighborhood exists in the current moment on so many historic and architectural levels.” Several of the area’s other local elected officials also lent their support for the historic

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NYC LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION

A map detailing the boundaries of the proposed Morningside Heights Historic District.

district. City Councilmember Mark Levine, whose district includes the proposed district, said Morningside Heights was home to more world-class academic, cultural, religious, and medical institutions than any other neighborhood in America. Levine asserted that survival of the neighborhood’s historic elements into the 21st century was an impressive feat that preserves a

“unique architectural identity,” but one that is under threat by the significant development pressures nowadays. The councilmember noted there are several historic districts surrounding the proposed Morningside Heights area, making it an “island of vulnerability amidst the better protected areas around us.”

c MORNINGSIDE, continued on p.12

December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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St. John the Divine from Amsterdam Avenue north of West 112th Street.

BY JACKSON CHEN

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ocated just outside the proposed Morningside Heights Historic District, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine was also up for a public hearing on landmark designation on December 6. The cathedral complex at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at West 112th St reet tota ls seven buildings, including the cathedral itself and the buildings that make up the Cathedral Close — the Leake and Watts Orphan Asylum, St. Faith’s House, the Choir School, Synod House, the Deanery, and the Bishops House. The cathedral is known as one of the largest churches in the world and serves as the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. With construction of some of the complex’s buildings dating back to 1838 and the cathedral itself begun in 1892, its massive edifice, like many Medieval churches in Europe, is technically not complete, though according to St. John’s, today “funding is directed to prioritize serving the community through our programming and social initiatives, and to maintaining the architectural integrity of

the Cathedral.” T he complex has undergone three rounds of landmarking public hearings, in 1966, 1979, and 2002, with the LPC issuing a designation in June 2003 — one ultimately overturned by the City Council. In the wake of that reversal, the cathedral’s trustees approved two condominium developments to generate revenue to strengthen the church’s financial situation. More than a decade later, the LPC is taking another crack at landmark designation for the complex, and this time the cathedral’s leadership is joining preservation advocates in support. “The trustees of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine now embrace the proposed landmarks designation of the Cathedral Church and the Cathedral Close,” the cathedral’s dean, Reverend James Kowalski, said, “recognizing it as the next step in celebrating and providing ongoing stewardship of the cathedral’s great architectural legacy, its impactful history, and its continuing evolution as a religious institution.”

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Hate Crimes Surge in Wake of Trump Victory BY DENNIS LYNCH

H

ate crimes have surged in New York City during this divisive election year — and show no signs of letting up — but authorities at the state and local levels are mobilizing to address the problem. The NYPD has logged 35 percent more bias crimes so far this year over the same period last year — rising from 260 to 350 — a rate on pace to make 2016 the worst year for hate crimes in the city in at least eight years, according to the available police figures. Last week the NYPD reported that there have been at least 43 bias attacks since Election Day, more than double the number for the comparable period in 2015. “The trends are a bit disturbing,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill during a radio appearance on November 20. “More than an uptick.” This past weekend, a Brooklyn man threatened Aml Elsokary, an off-duty Muslim police officer, with his pit bull when he came upon her, wearing a hijab as she walked with her son. In 2014, Elsokary was awarded for bravery for running into a burning building to save a small child and a grandmother. Another Muslim woman wearing a hijab, a transit worker, was shoved down a staircase at Grand Central Terminal. Hate crimes against Muslims more than doubled from last year and anti-Semitic crimes rose nine percent, O’Neill said, attributing the increase partly to the heated rhetoric from the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump. The spike in hate crimes around t he st ate prompted G over nor Andrew Cuomo to create a State Police Hate Crime Unit comprised of investigators trained as “bias crime specialists” who will assist local district attorneys to prosecute hate crimes. Nationwide, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has collected reports of more than 900 incidents of “hateful harassment” perpetrated around the country since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton on November 8. The organization compiled the list from news articles and social media, but also directly

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OFFICE OF STATE SENATOR BRAD HOYLMAN

State Senator Brad Hoylman is joined by Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, State Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and City Councilmember Margaret Chin in a Washington Square press conference denouncing the recent spike in hate crimes.

collected information on its own. “Anti-immigrant” incidents were the most prevalent, and more than a third of those alleged incidents occurred in the first three days following Trump’s victory. But are there really more hate crimes being committed this year, or are we only seeing more because the media is covering them? Looking at the numbers, John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Frank Pezzella said that, unfortunately, it’s likely to be the former. “I think the election illuminated how divisive things really are, and hate crimes spike during times of economic upheaval, strife, and the emergence of identity groups — every group wants to be identified and taken care of because of the problems that relate to them,” Pezzella said, referring to a troubling normalization of formerly fringe ideologies, such as the “alt-right” white-nationalist movement with its “unabashed advocacy to return back to the things that used to be.” The connection to the presidential election is clear in some cases

here in New York. The N YPD is investigating the swastikas and “Go Trump” messages crudely spray-painted at Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn Heights on November 18 as a hate crime. West Side State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who belongs to Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a Manhattan LGBTQ s y n a go g ue, w a s i n t he ne w s twice in the last several weeks for encountering anti-Semitic messages. First, a woman found a swastika carved into a door in his apartment building, which made national news. Then a few days later, the senator opened an envelope in his mail to find an antiSemitic, anti-Israel pamphlet with pictures of flames, human sacrifices, and Bible quotes. T he retur n address led to a known far-right extremist living in Arizona. Hoylman said he believes the acts were directly related to Trump’s election and the president-elect’s choice of Steve Bannon — whom he termed a “white nationalist” — for a top advisory

post. “I’m very concerned about [the trend of hate crimes] especially since Steve Bannon has been put in a top White House post,” he said. “I strongly believe Trump should rescind his appointment. All of us should be concerned about that.” The SPLC has not verified every incident it has recorded, and there won’t be an “official” number for this year’s bias crimes nationwide until 2017 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation releases its hate crime report for 2016 as part of its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. The UCR is the most comprehensive report on hate crimes in the country. But watchdogs warn that the UCR is flawed, and even if it were perfect, it wouldn’t really paint the whole picture. The UCR is entirely voluntary and at least 4,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide do not participate in its hate crime reporting. Around 1,750 departments

c hate crimes, continued on p.18

December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Defending New York Values Against New Yorker-in-Chief BY JACKSON CHEN

I

t was the Sunday before the election and Faiza Ali, a Muslim-American staffer to City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, was taking the subway to a phone bank, hoping to persuade Muslim voters to head to the polls in support of Hillary Clinton. As she stepped off the subway, an encounter with a stranger proved to be an unsettling preview of things to come. “Hey, nice scarf,” Ali recalled the man saying about her hijab. Wit h a w r y smile, A li sa id she replied, “Thanks.” “Too bad you won’t be able to wear that after Tuesday.” Ali said she was shocked for all of a second before exchanging some heated words with the man. Upon reflecting on the incident and sharing her experience with her mother afterward, Ali said, she realized the election’s aftermath has evoked fear and anxiety parallel to that felt by Muslim New Yorkers after 9/11. “Muslim women in hijabs are the most visible part of our community and makes us the most vulnerable to hate attacks,” Ali said, wiping away the occasional tear as she recalled past incidents involving her family. “We’re

literally walking around with a target on our head, and it’s extremely frightening to walk with that experience and it’s extremely agitating.” Before a roomful of people gathered for East Side City Councilmember Dan Garodnick’s call to action to advance “New York Values” as a counterweight to President-elect Donald Trump, Ali won applause and support. The December 8 event at the High School of Art and Design on East 56th Street drew more than 500 local residents as well as community organizations to a panel discussion aimed at figuring out what to do in the wake of an election that has left many New Yorkers in fear. According to Garodnick, hate crimes in New York City are up as much as 35 percent compared to the same time period last year. The councilmember noted an incident where a Muslim Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker was shoved down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal by a man screaming “terrorist.” On top of that, a Brooklyn man threatened an off-duty — and decorated (for saving a child and grandmother from a burning building in 2014) — Muslim police officer, Aml Elsokary, who was wearing a hijab, and her son. “You don’t need me to tell you this is not normal, this is not the America that you and I

JACKSON CHEN

The Anti-Violence Project’s Yasmin Safdié, Meg Barnette of Planned Parenthood, Rashida Richardson from the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Make the Road New York’s Daniel Altshculer join Councilmember Dan Garodnick at the December 8 New York values town hall meeting.

know,” Garodnick said, and then, referring to Trump, added, “He’s certainly not representative of our New York values: diversity, understanding, inclusion, opportunity, fairness, and a tenacious commitment to coming together in the most difficult situations.”

c NY VALUES, continued on p.19

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Nonprofit City Contractors Step Up Push for Better Funding BY JACKSON CHEN

N

onprofit contractors doing business with New York City a nd t hei r key a l ly i n t he Cit y Council, Helen Rosenthal, have renewed the push for more funding after their request for dollars to cover the costs of things like rising rent, equipment purchases, and capital repairs were excluded from the 2017-2018 fiscal budget. This time, they’ve doubled down on their initial demand and are requesting an additional $50 million for nonprofits in the city’s budget. The nonprofit community first made its budget concerns vocal during a May rally outside City Hall urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to up their funding. At that time, Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, was joined by several of her fellow councilmembers in requesting a 2.5 percent increase, or $25 million, in the city’s budget to cover “other than per son nel ser v ices” cost s, or OTPS, borne by nonprofits with city contracts. While staff salaries take up a majority of such organizations’ expenses, everything else — like rents, supplies, and technology expenses — is categorized as OTPS. “We’re tr ying to strategically get a jumpstart on what’s going on,” Rosenthal said, ref lecting the disappointment with the budget adopted this past summer as well as apprehension about the political upheaval in Washington. “Before we were saying let’s do a 2.5 percent increase on the OTPS, but now we’re saying let’s make it a five percent increase. Thinking ahead with the additional work they’ll more likely be asked to do with larger cuts in federal funding, we need to shore up the nonprofits.” While unsuccessful in the 20172018 budget adopted on July 1, the nonprofit communit y continues to press its case, holding another OTPS rally on December 1 to reignite focus on the issue with the hope of inf luencing the mayor’s preliminary budget, due to be released in January. “ We f u nd [ nonprof its ] at 80 cents on a dollar, so they go out

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HUMAN SERVICES COUNCIL

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and the Human Services Council’s Allison Sesso at City Hall on December 1.

to pr ivate phila nthropy where private investors want to spend money on new technolog y or a project,” Rosenthal said. “Instead, the philanthropy is having to pay for toilet paper, increased costs of food, increased costs of rents, and it shouldn’t be that way.” Rosenthal and nonprofit leaders were joi ned on Cit y Ha ll’s steps last week by City Comptroller Scott Stringer and East Side State A ssembly member Br ia n Kavanagh. “Nonprofit human service organizations are the backbone of our city’s social safety net,” Stringer said in an email message. “They provide essential, often lifesaving services, to our city’s most vulnerable residents. These organizations are working on behalf of city government, and frankly, they’ve been doing it w it h inadequate funding for many years.” The comptroller added, “A nd when OTPS is underfunded, these organizations are forced to make devastating decisions. Like choosing between buying supplies for their youth program, or paying that month’s utility bill — it’s just not right.” A llison Sesso, t he executive director of the Human Services Council, an umbrella organization that represents non-profits, said the groups have been struggling for years and the latest bud-

get exclusion was frustrating. “We were asking for it to be in last year’s budget, which would’ve mea nt we got a 2.5 percent increase,” Sesso said. “Since they didn’t include that in the budget, we’ve increased the ask because we know inf lation continues to erode our costs, so now we’re saying let’s add for the two years together.” Even with that, Sesso stressed that the five percent wasn’t even close to addressing the underfunding of nonprofits through city contracts, nor does it fix the competitive procurement process in which the organizations vie for contracts. “ We’r e not ac t u a l l y at t h i s moment asking for the perfect process,” Sesso said. “We’re saying we’re at a breaking point, and we’re asking for a relatively small adjustment to address this broken system.” According to Urban Pathways, a homeless and housing nonprofit with locations throughout the city, the problem facing nonprofit service providers is based on the law of supply and demand. The organization’s chief operating officer, Ronald Rosado Abad, said that with operating expenses rising each year, fixed levels of funding in city contracts squeeze their ability to provide the services needed. “All the not-for-profits have this

challenge of managing the budgets within these constraints but the demand for our services continues to increase,” Abad said. “The demand is increasing but the supply is not.” Urba n Pat hways’ director of policy, Nicole Bramstedt, sa id that stretching the organization’s budget leaves it in a difficult bind when approaching private donors. Nonprofits typically rely on some level of private funding, but oftentimes donors are looking to suppor t prog ra ms t hat ca n show results in the community — not the far less appealing categories of rent, supplies, and equipment. Abad said even the five percent increase is barely a sliver of the city’s more than $80 billion budget. The minor bump in funding, he said, would leave nonprofit city contractors in much better shape. The mayor and his office haven’t completely turned a blind eye to the nonprofits’ situation. In September, de Blasio launched the Nonprof it Resi l iency Com m ittee meant to promote collaboration between city agencies and nonprof its. Accordi ng to Jessica Ramos, a spokesperson for de Blasio, the committee would explore issues of “organizational infrastructure, including OTPS, collaborative service design, and streamlining administrative processes.” In an email message, Ramos added, “The Nonprofit Resiliency Committee coordinates with mayoral offices to address priorities of the sector and identify solutions. The Committee has been productive in identifying priorities and is developing work plans to create and implement solutions.” According to Sesso, however, the mayor’s office has yet to offer any commitments regarding the request for $50 million in OTPS funding the orga nizations a re seeking. “On one hand, we want to recognize they put this group together,” Sesso said of the mayor’s new committee. “On the other hand, that’s all well and good, but we also need to see this investment and we want to make a case for why it’s important to have this investment.” n

December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Goddard Riverside Names Stephan Russo’s Successor

LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT

BY JACKSON CHEN

G

oddard Riverside Community Center’s board of directors named Roderick Jones, the president and CEO of Grace Hill Settlement House, to take over as the organization’s new executive director. GRACE HILL SETTLEMENT HOUSE Jones, 47, has been Brooklyn native Roderick Jones is leading the St. Louis, currently president of Grace Hill Missouri-based non- Settlement House in St. Louis. prof it orga n i z at ion since 2008. Grace Hill has provided social services for low-income families in St. Louis since its start in 1903. “I believe strongly that every person deserves the opportunity to reach their fullest potential regardless of who they are and where they were born,” Jones said in a press release. “I know Goddard Riverside shares that belief, and I look forward to leading this essential organization in its work with and for the community.” The Upper West Side-headquartered Goddard Riverside, with an annual budget of roughly $26 million and a staff of 267 full-time and 180 part-time employees, delivers a wide array of services including youth outreach, early childhood education, supportive housing, legal representation, senior programs, and home-delivered meals from 21 locations across the city. Jones grew up in the New York City Housing Authority’s Cypress Hill housing in East New York and pursed his master’s degree in Public Administration at SUNY Brockport and his doctorate in Education from St. John Fisher College in Rochester. In his work at Grace Hill, Jones earned the honor of Not-for-Profit Leader of the Year in 2011 from the St. Louis American, the area newspaper, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the local chamber of commerce. Jones will succeed Stephan Russo, who recently announced his intention to pass the torch at Goddard Riverside. Russo has been with the organization for 40 years and at its helm for 18 years as the executive director. While Russo’s last day has not been set yet, he said that he would be willing to help the organization transition to its new leader. Betsy Newell, the president of Goddard Riverside’s board of directors, said, “We have tremendous confidence that Dr. Jones has the experience and skills needed to carry Goddard Riverside and its mission forward.” n ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | December 15 – 28, 2016

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ommunity Board 8 is demanding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s presence at its Transportation Comm ittee meet i ngs a nd t hat t he agency release a completed map of when and where the agency will restore East Side bus stops on or near Second Avenue sidelined by subway construction. Though agency representatives insist that CB8 is being kept up to date, board members are clearly unhappy with the quality of communication they’re receiving. During a joint CB8 Transportation Committee and Second Avenue Subway Task Force meeting on December 7, board members ex pected a n M TA represent ative to show up with more details on service returning to bus stops taken out of commission during construction of the Second Avenue Subway. As the line nears it first phase completion, with new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets due to open by the new year, CB8 members want to make information about when the avenue’s bus stops will be back in service publicly available, particularly for the neighborhood’s senior residents who frequently use them. In addition to not getting the information they sought, board

members were chag r i ned at MTA’s failure to follow through on commitments to appear before them. CB8 member Tricia Shimamura said she also attended a November 1 meeting where the MTA was absent and failed to at least send over its presentation. “I’m fa i rly f r ust rated about this,” she said. “I think without representatives from the agencies, there’s only so much that can be done. I think it’s a little ridiculous that I’ve been at two meetings now where I expected to see MTA representatives and I haven’t.” For the MTA’s part, its spokesperson sa id t he a gency has received regular input from CB8 via the board’s Second Avenue Subway Task Force as well as the MTA Construction Advisory Committee meetings. The agency’s Kevin Ortiz said the MTA submitted a final bus map to CB8 with all temporarily relocated stops restored to their original permanent locations. As for the absence from CB8 meetings, Ortiz explained that the agency told board members its representatives wouldn’t be able to make it to the December 7 meeting due to “public hearing commitments,” but would attend the January meeting.

c bus stops, continued on p.21

December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Second Ave Subway’s Breakneck Pace to Hit December 31 BY JACKSON CHEN

W

ith just over two weeks until the expected launch of the Second Avenue Subway’s first phase, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority chair and CEO, Thomas Prendergast, reiterated that the agency is “cautiously optimistic” for the end-of-the-year opening. The Second Avenue Subway’s first phase will bring three new stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets and connect to the Lexington Avenue/ 63rd Street stop for the Q, F, and N trains. While testing of the tracks was first spied by the public in October, monthly updates presented during recent M TA meet i ngs had cast some doubt as to whether the project would meet its deadline. “We still have some critical testing to do but we’re confident we’re going to get it done,” Prendergast said at the MTA full board meeting on December 14. “Contractors... have worked around the clock to catch up so that we can

MAX DIAMOND

Subway buff Max Diamond captured this photo of subway cars testing the new Second Avenue Subway line in October.

make sure Second Avenue opens and we meet our promise.” The MTA chair added there was additional pressure from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who also ex pressed caut ious opt i m ism after recent visits to the new subway stations under construction. The most recent independent engineer reports from the December 12 MTA Capital Program Oversight Committee meeting also indicated that the project seems to be on track. “The rate of test completions, which has been a concern of mine for several months, has increased

greatly,” Kent Haggas, the independent engineer, said. “And I feel that it’s now on track to finish by the end of the year.” Haggas, who expressed concern in November that a n “unprecedented” amount of work would have to be undertaken to meet the year-end opening, explained at this week’s meeting that the systems and station tests, building code verifications, and safety verifications are moving along well given a December 31 deadline. Haggas added that the remaining critical work included tests

of communications systems, fire alarm systems, and service booths. Also, according to the December update by Anil Parikh, MTA Capital Construction’s senior vice president and program executive, the remaining testing for the HVAC and PA systems would be completed by December 23 and 24, respectively. With completion dates cutting so close to the December 31 target, MTA board member Veronica Vanterpool asked if there were any contingency plans if the testing from now until December 24 failed to meet its schedule. In response, Prendergast doubled down on his insistence that the current pace of work should deliver service on time. “We’re caut iously opt imist ic that we’re going to meet the revenue ser v ice date, t hat’s it i n a nutshell,” P rendergast sa id. “We’re focused on getting the testing commissioning done and the obser vations done. We’ve more than doubled the level of effort, that’s as clear as I can state it.” n

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ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | December 15 – 28, 2016

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11


Our Perspective Reduced Transit Fare Would Help Get Low-Wage Workers Moving JACKSON CHEN

By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW

West 112th Street, facing east toward Amsterdam Avenue and the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, within the proposed Morningside Heights Historic District.

W

c MORNINGSIDE, from p.4

orking people in New York City face yet another MTA fare hike next year – and this time it could go up to $3 per ride. It’s just one more challenge workers in New York will face as the price of just about everything continues to rise higher and higher. Recent history has seen MTA fares rising at an alarming rate, and the trend figures to continue. That’s why we support a proposal from the Community Service Society and the Riders Alliance to subsidize a half-fare MetroCard for the working poor. It would benefit 800,000 New Yorkers struggling at or below the federal poverty line by putting more money in their pockets for necessities including food, rent, and the electric bill. According to the The proposed half-fare plan would Community Service save low-income workers more than Society, 25 percent of $700 a year, a large amount of money for the working poor. working-age, low-income New Yorkers often cannot afford the current fare, transit expenses eat up more than 10 percent of poor families’ budgets. Bus and subway fares are soaring – rising 45 percent between 2007 and last year – six times faster than average income in New York City. And that doesn’t even take in to account the MTA’s recently announced plan to raise fares next year. Those eligible for the proposed half-fare plan would save more than $700 a year, a large amount of money for the working poor and other low-wage workers in various industries across the city, including thousands upon thousands who work in retail. Similar proposals have already been implemented in San Francisco, Seattle and London and they are gaining popular support in Boston, Denver and here in New York City. Advocates note that the cost of the program to the city would amount to a miniscule 0.3 percent of the city’s annual budget – far outweighed by the benefit for working families. This proposal, supported by some 30 organizations representing low-wage workers and transit advocates, also has garnered editorial support from news organizations including the New York Times and the Daily News. Implementing this proposal will help hundreds of thousands of working-poor New Yorkers get moving again toward a path to the middle class. We support it and will work toward making it a reality.

www.rwdsu.org 12

According to Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, whose apartment building on West 111th Street would be included in the proposed historic district, his office has received many letters, emails, and phone calls from residents to press for the designation. O’Donnell’s support dates back to the 1990s, when he was a founding member of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee as well as the Land Use Committee chair at Community Board 9. “When standing on my block, West 111th Street, one feels an immediate and undeniable sense of unique grandeur and history,” O’Donnell wrote in his testimony. Like many others, O’Donnell said there are areas deserving of preservation that were excluded from the LPC’s proposal. He called for the agency to think about a second phase of the proposed district. “With this area already facing a number of imminent threats of significant alteration or demolition, the district is in need of historic designation as soon as possible,” O’Donnell said. “We cannot, and should not, allow the piecemeal destruction of one of the most historic areas in our city.” However, not everyone on hand was in favor of the creation of the historic district, with the two religious congregations included in its boundaries and a local resident speaking against the proposal. Both the Broadway Presbyterian Church and Congregation Ramath Orah explained that the restrictions placed on them by being included in the historic district designation would impede much-needed and ongoing repairs they are carrying out. According to Pastor Chris Shelton, Broadway

Presbyterian shouldn’t be lumped in with its Beaux Arts neighbors. Underscoring his concerns about moving forward expeditiously with repairs, he pointed to an incident this past summer when a pedestrian was struck by a falling piece of concrete from the church’s façade. Ilya Schwartzburg, a resident of West 110th Street, also spoke in opposition to the new district, saying that further development would welcome more people into the neighborhood and foster a greater sense of community. “I personally think that the community would be more dynamic, exciting, and notable once young professionals like me move up there more often with more space,” Schwartzburg said. “Development does not simply mean out-of-place buildings, it means people.” W h i le C olu mbi a Un i ver sit y endorsed the creation of an historic district, it requested that the LPC exclude its properties at 604-616 West 114th Street, arguing that the buildings lacked any distinctive identities and would complicate their future use by the school. The clear majority of the public at the hearing was in favor of the proposed district, with testimony in support, as well, from representatives of Landmark West!, the Historic Districts Council, and New York Landmarks Conservancy. “Its sense of place is derived from the conf luence of this residential developmental trend paired with that of the development of its institutions, just steps away from one another,” Kelly Carroll, HDC’s director of advocacy and community outreach, said, of the area. “With the exception of two churches, this district focuses entirely on the neighborhood’s residential story, but that story is well worth telling.” n

December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Former Citicorp Center, at 38, New York’s Youngest Landmark BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he city has a new youngest landmark as of December 6, with the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously designating the former Citicorp Center building at 601 Lexington Avenue at East 53rd Street. T he proper t y, complete d i n 1978, was included in a bundle of a dozen Midtown East buildings that the LPC deemed worthy of designation. The commission expedited the landmarking of the buildings — with all but 601 Lexington approved on November 22 — because they are located within the Midtown East rezoning district currently being established. The rezoning, covering an area between East 39th and East 57th Streets from roughly Fifth to Third Avenues, is aimed at promoting modern office building construction through landmarked buildings’ sale of their air rights to developments with greater density than the guidelines would otherwise allow. The specifics of the district’s rezoning are now being ironed out by the Department of City Planning. “I want to thank the commissioners but also the [LPC’s] East Midtown team for finally accomplishing our goal,” the LPC’s chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, said at the designation hearing. “This is really a critical piece of the agency’s initiative, and I want to comment on the fact that this is a part of a multi-agency effort of the area.” The 601 Lexington Avenue building was left out of the group landmarked on November 22 because LPC felt t here was addit iona l research to be done. Two of the 11 that earlier won designation were from what the LPC terms the PreGrand Central Terminal era, built prior to the construction of the transit hub in the early 20th century, while the other nine were classified under the Grand Central/ Terminal City Era, which extends from early last century until 1933. The designation of 601 Lexington Avenue, built between 1973 and 1978, came under what is known as the Post-Grand Central/ World War II Era. The building is architecturally

important, but it also has alarming historical significance as well, given a major construction gaffe uncovered only after its completion — and, because of very special circumstances, unknown at the time by the public. According to a 1995 New Yorker article, the structural engineer for the project, William LeMessurier, came to realize he had miscalculated the impact of strong winds on the tower, making the prominent new skyscraper in the heart of Midtown structurally

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | December 15 – 28, 2016

JACKSON CHEN

The base of 601 Lexington Avenue at East 53rd Street, which when it opened in 1978 was known as Citicorp Center.

unsound in the event of extreme storm conditions. A s t h e N e w Yo r k e r a r t i c l e details, a newspaper strike at the time allowed L eMessurier, the building’s architect, Citicorp, and city officials to secretly scramble to correct the blunder by welding steel plates onto the joints throughout the tower’s structure. Jour na lists never got w i nd of the fact that a 59-story building

c 601 LEX, continued on p.15

13


Reaching Understanding With State, City, Airbnb Drops Lawsuit

DONNA ACETO

(Above) The Reverend Kirsten John Foy, president of the Brooklyn chapter of the National Action Network, made a vigorous defense of homesharing at an October rally. (Right) At a counter-demonstration, New Yorkers opposed to Airbnb, including State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, charged that home-sharing drives up the cost of housing in the city.

BY JACKSON CHEN

A

irbnb, the popular homesharing company, recently settled its lawsuit against a new state law that imposes fines for those who advertise illegal listings of short-term residential rentals. New York State already had prohibited the rental of an unoccupied apartment for periods of less than 30 days. But Governor Andrew Cuomo, on October 21, signed a bill into law that furthers those restrictions by fining those advertising such rentals up to $7,500. Chief among those targeted by the new law a re people rent i ng out t hei r apa r t ments through Airbnb as well as landlords offering short-term stays in vacant apartments. L ater t hat day, A i rbnb f i led a law su it against Eric Schneiderman, the state’s attorney general, the City of New York, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, for what they charged were violations of the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act, which frees website operators from liability for what users post on their sites. T he lawsuit was dropped by A irbnb on

14

December 2 after a settlement agreement that detailed that the enforcement efforts would target the hosts who operate illegal hotels — both landlords and individual tenants — and not the company hosting the listings website. “We very much see this as a material step forward for our hosts, with Airbnb and the city agreeing to ‘work cooperatively on ways to address New York City’s permanent housing shortage,’” Airbnb spokesperson Peter Schottenfels said in a written statement. “We look forward to using this as a basis to finding an approach that protects responsible New Yorkers while cracking down on illegal hotels that remove permanent housing off the market or create unsafe spaces.” Schotten fels noted t hat A i rbnb’s “One Host, One Home,” implemented last month, rest r icts per missible hosts in t he cit y to those renting only one home, a limitation he said would help address New York’s housing shortage. Renting out your home for a short period of time without being in residence runs afoul of state law, and it’s unclear how much that conduct will become an object of enforcement.

Upper West Side Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, the sponsor of the new law, said it was specifically framed to punish those who frequently abuse through multiple listings and short-term rental of their unoccupied apartments and not the website itself. “We crafted the bill so that Airbnb would not be the target, we knew that,” Rosenthal said. “We weren’t going to try to slip something in against federal law, but I think [Air­ bnb] decided they were going to sue and was forced to make good on their promise.” As she has done in the past, the assemblymember once again encouraged Airbnb to better police its listings for illegal rentals and proposed hiring a monitor to sweep the site on a daily basis. In the last year, Airbnb said it has removed more than 3,400 listings from its site that appeared to have been posted by hosts with multiple listings. “However they frame it, we take it as a great victory for affordable housing and following the law,” Rosenthal said. Before the new law is implemented, the city will hold a public hearing on enforcement, scheduled for December 19. n

December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c St. JOHN, from p.5 The proposed landmarking also received support from City Councilmember Mark Levine, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, and the Historic Districts Council. “Just like its European predecessors, which often took hundreds of years to build, this cathedral has entered its third century unfinished,” HDC’s director of advocacy Kelly Carroll said. “It’s comforting knowing future work will benefit from LPC’s oversight and be spared any more aesthetic erosion.” HDC, however, pointed to the two condominium developments approved over the past decade — which the group considers out-ofscale, clashing in exterior materials, and too close to the cathedral — advanced within the St. John’s campus while repairs, not to ment ion const r uct ion complet ion, lagged. Despite the developments that have popped up on the cathedral campus, Meenakshi Srinivasan, t he LPC cha i r, sa id t he focus

c 601 LEX, from p.13 in use was technically at risk of calamitous failure — even when, with the repair only half done, a hurricane took aim at New York before diverting out to sea. The story only came to light with the New Yorker piece 17 years later. Now standing for nearly 40 years, the tower, along with an adjoining six-story office and retail building and St. Peter’s Church, has been designated a landmark. The LPC staff report noted that the tower,

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JACKSON CHEN

The edifice of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine facing Amsterdam Avenue.

should be on the future. “Together, I think we can all move forward, we can lament about what happened in the past, but there is still no doubt in my mind that the complex, the close, and the cathedral are very important to the city,” Srinivasan said. T he LPC hopes to br i ng t he cathedral’s designation to a vote early next year. n

roughly 910 feet tall, has a roof angled at 45 degrees, making it a distinctive feature of New York’s modern cityscape. “With this designation and the additional 11 buildings, we have made our commitment and accomplished our goal to designate these buildings prior to the Department of City Planning’s certification of the rezoning,” Srinivasan, said. “This will ensure that historic preservation is robust... in New York City’s premier central business districts.” n

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EXPRESS YOURSELVES

At Natural History Museum, the Scoop on Scorpions

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

EDITOR IN-CHIEF PAUL SCHINDLER editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jackson Chen Lincoln Anderson Scott Stiffler COLIN MIXSON Yannic Rack Alex Ellefson Jane Argodale jefferson siegel lenore skenazy

ART DIRECTOR Michael Shirey

ADVERTISING AMANDA TARLEY ads@manhattanexpressnews.nyc 718-260-8340

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Gayle Greenberg ANDREW MARK JIM STEELE Julio tumbaco

Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Manhattan Express, One Metrotech Center North, Suite 1001, Brooklyn 11201 or call 718-260-4586. Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2016 Manhattan Express. Manhattan Express is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, C.E.O. | Fax: 212-229-2790 Subscriptions: 26 issues, $49.00 ©2016 Manhattan Express, All rights reserved. NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC | ONE METROTECH NORTH, SUITE 1001 | BROOKLYN, NY 11201 | 212-229-1890

16

BY LENORE SKENAZY

S

tephanie Loria would like to set the record straight: “If you get stung by a scorpion and you are a healthy adult, you won’t die.” She paused, then added, “You may wish you were dead. But they get such a bad rap.” Yes, pity the poor scorpions — so misunderstood. Fortunately, the species has Loria on its side — she is perhaps the city’s only scorpion apologist. She loves the creatures, researches them, and this fall she got her PhD in scorpion studies from the American Museum of Natural History’s Richard Gilder Graduate School. Other grads included a frog researcher, a bat specialist getting an honorary degree, and a guy who has identified 70 new species of wasps. Not sure I’d want to be at their Christmas party. But having never seen an actual scorpion — or scorpion researcher — I did want to meet Loria. So the other day I went to the museum and was escorted past dozens of dinosaur-demanding school groups, up to the restricted fifth floor, past hundreds of lockers housing insects specimens, and then through a hall lined with clear plastic boxes containing — OMG! — tarantulas. Live tarantulas, the size of chipmunks, waving their furry legs. How did “Night at the Museum” miss these guys? One floor up, I found Loria in her lab, scorpions at her side — dead. “We have some live stuff downstairs, but those are more like pets,” she said. “These I actually collected during my trips to Southeast Asia.” And how does one collect a scorpion? Well, said Loria, chipper as a flight attendant, you just have to go into the jungle at night. Scorpions are black, so you can’t see them except by using an ultra-violet flashlight, but then they phosphoresce like Jimi Hendrix posters. They also shed their exoskeletons. So you look for glowing bits of dead scorpion on the trail leading you to a live one and then, using footlong tweezers, you try to grab it as fast as you can before it scurries into its borrow. At that point, explained Loria, you often have “moths swarming around your face and you’re swallowing them, and sometimes you’re also near ants, and you’re covered with them, and some of them are pretty nasty.” Long story short, if you don’t manage to grab the scorpion with the tweezers, sometimes you just dig them out. That’s right: You stick your hands into a scorpion den hoping you’ll find some. One time, Loria recalled, she and her advisor were on a nighttime hunt in the Malaysian jungle when suddenly, a scorpion stung him. “Two of his fingers were paralyzed and he had a burning sensation moving up his arm and into his chest,” said Loria. “It was just me and him in the middle of nowhere.” Then what happened?

LENORE SKENAZY

Dr. Stephanie Loria shows us just how friendly scorpions can be.

“He took an antihistamine,” Loria said. By the morning, he was fine. After an agonizing night. Loria doesn’t want this story to prejudice you against scorpions. There are 2,200 species of them, she explained, and only 45 have poisonous venom. What’s more, they can live up to 25 years, and are members of the arachnid family, like spiders, but less popular. At arachnid conventions (I know, I know), “85 to 95 percent of the talks are about spiders,” said Loria, clearly a bit bummed. Scorpions get no respect. And yet, they have been around since before the dinosaurs. In her own pre-history, Loria grew up digging millipedes and centipedes out of her backyard and bringing them inside, to her parents’ non-delight. She had an ant farm, a moth farm, and a grammar school teacher who showed her rubber replicas of bugs and encouraged her curiosity. One time, Loria wore a dead cicada’s shell on her nose to freak out her schoolmates. It worked. But Loria wasn’t really trying to disgust anyone. She was just fascinated by the “behind the scenes” work that insects and arachnids do. “If you watch any nature shows on TV, it’s always about big cats, or other mammals we relate to.” But the real heroes, she insisted, are the smaller creatures we rely on. Bees pollinate. Millipedes play a role in decomposing. Spiders and scorpions keep the insect population down. By high school, she was taking after-school classes at the museum and did an internship studying flamingo behavior. Now that she has her PhD, she is heading to San Francisco to start studying the evolution of scorpion venom. Her future looks so bright, she has to pinch herself. Before anything else does. Lenore Skenazy is the author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids” and a contributor at Reason.com. December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | December 15 – 28, 2016

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

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17


c hate crimes, from p.6 out of the 15,000 departments that do participate have reported hate crime incidents. Even New York State underreported its bias crimes in past ye a r s due to i nc on si stenc ie s between the city and state hate crime reporting that were discovered after Hoylman successfully petitioned the state comptroller to audit the two systems in 2013. T he compt rol ler fou nd t hat between 2010 and 2012, there were errors in reporting when the NYPD communicated its statistics to the state, meaning the state counted fewer hate crimes in the city than the NYPD had, and subsequently reported fewer numbers to the federal government. For example, the audit found that the state reporting system only a llowed a single bias per incident filed, even if there were multiple at play. The comptroller pointed out in one case “an agency reported multiple biases on its hate crime incident report: both anti-male homosexual and antiArab. Because its system allows staff to only record one bias per incident, the division reported the case only as an anti-male homosexual incident.” But even with full reporting, Pezzella said that the national figure would likely still be lower than the actual number of bias incidents that happen nationwide. For one, small departments across t he cou nt r y m ig ht not have the resources to properly train their officers to identify a hate crime, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. An officer responding to a call typically has only a few minutes to assess if bias played a role in an incident, Pezzella said. Offenders, knowing that a hate crime is more seriously punished, often tr y to hide their bias, a nd the vast majority of incidents are not as cut a nd dr y as a n offender admitting to a deep-seated hatred of gays, Jews, or black people, for example, Pezzella said. “Just calling someone a name is not enough to do it, and often what happens is officers think, ‘Why take the chance to arrest for a hate crime when you can just arrest for an ordinar y crime? ’ There’s possibly a better chance of sticking, of getting a convic-

18

OFFICE OF STATE SENATOR BRAD HOYLMAN

A neighbor discovered these two swastikas etched into a service-elevator door at State Senator Brad Holyman’s Fifth Avenue apartment building.

t ion,” Pezzella sa id. “You a lso have to prove motivation.” The officer has to identify that a perpetrator had a “bias motivation” during the act of a crime such as a robbery, harassment, or assault to arrest a person for perpetrating a hate crime. Pol it ica l a f f i l iat ion is not grounds for a hate crime charge at the federal level or by New York st ate law, so ma ny pol it ica l ly motivated assaults in the news recently won’t pass muster. For example, the NYPD is not investigating as a hate crime the case at a Boerum Hill diner when a man punched a woman in the face a f ter a n a rgument about Trump’s election. Similarly, anti-immigrant comments recently made by visitors to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side aren’t serious enough in the eyes of the law to warrant hate crime status either. That type of incident is typical of what many have encountere d t h is ye a r, accord i n g to Shelby Chestnut of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which serves the LGBTQ community. “So much of what people are experiencing doesn’t necessarily f it into t he fra mework of a bias incident that police deem to investigate,” she said. “ There’s more of a general feeling of being u n s a fe i n ou r c o m mu n it ie s. There’s a sentiment that it’s suddenly okay to be anti-LGBT, antiimmigrant, anti-Muslim following this election.” Pointing out that victims of hate crimes are not always willing to

report incidents to police in the first place, Pezzella’s John Jay colleague Eric Piza noted that the federal Crime Victimization Survey last year found that 47 percent of victims of all types of crimes do not report them to police. “ There’s a whole host of reasons why people might not report a hate crime,” said Piza, an assistant professor at John Jay and for mer Newa rk Police Depa r tment crime analyst. “One is that for the victim, it’s a traumatic experience and people want that to be over as soon as possible. In a lot of cases, you have to wait for police, make a statement, and, especially if there’s a low likelihood of the person being caught, there’s a low chance they want to do that. And the other side of it is that some people think the police won’t take their side of the story.” Pezzella added that the NYPD has a “built-in problem” because many groups protected by hate crime statutes often have, or historically had, a strained relationship with the police — including L GB T Q indiv idua ls, Muslims, and people of color. The fear of or animosity toward police can discourage victims from dialing 911. Che st nut s a i d t h at fe a r of depor tation or lega l trouble is p a r t ic u l a r l y p a lp a ble i n t he immigrant LGBTQ community, even in so-called “sanctuary cities” such as New York, where the police department doesn’t work directly with federal immigration enforcement agencies. “It is ultimately dangerous to report an incident of violence to

police where you could be targeted for your immigration status, [and] if you’re an LGBTQ immigrant you are at a much greater risk — the fear for reporting is very real,” she said. Many LGBTQ immigrants who are deported face risk of further victimization in their home countries if their status becomes part of their official record. Pez z el la sug gested t hat t he N Y PD reach out and let people know they want to hear their stories, and said that assigning out LGBTQ or foreign-born officers to neighborhoods where those communities are experiencing ha r a ssment cou ld encou r a ge people to report crimes. The UK did that with LGBTQ officers and had success, he said. Chestnut noted that witnesses to hate crimes can help by refusing to remain silent and asked people to sign AVP’s “bystander pledge” to act if they witness hatemotivated violence. The pledge, promoted w it h t he ha sht a g #IWILLNOTSTANDBY, includes advice on safely inter vening to halt a bias attack. The man who targeted Hoylman may have been 3,000 miles away, but t he state senator believes that people who want to change the nation’s toxic political climate for the better should start in their neighborhoods. “As New Yorkers are frustrated by the national political climate, they should get involved — join the community board, go to precinct community [council] meetings, get involved with your block association, contribute money to your favorite advocacy group,” he said. “There’s the saying, ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,’ and I think there’s a lot of work to be done to restore the feeling of safety and respect in our national political dialogue, and I think starting locally is a good option.” Chestnut agreed with Holyman’s advice to think nationally and act locally, saying that New York should be an example for the rest of the country. “In New York City, we’re fortunate that there’s an organization for every reality that someone is facing,” she said. “We should ensure that resources and support go to regions of the country that don’t have as much wealth as we do — and think of how New York City can lead that.” n

December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c NY VALUES, from p.7 As Trump pursues his transition pla nning, Ga rodnick a nd likeminded elected officials along with advocacy groups are voicing concern about what problems the election upset is causing for Muslims, people of color, women, and the LGBT community and exploring what New Yorkers can do in response over the next four years. With campaign rhetoric now being translated into cabinet appointments, Make the Road New York, a group focused on social and economic justice issues in the Latino community, is worried about the threat of deportation immigrant families are facing. “Ultimately what Donald Trump has pledged to do in his ca mpaign and his transition is to tear apart immigrant families,” Daniel Altschuler, the group’s coordinator of civic engagement and research, said, referring to Trump’s team as a “cabinet of hate.” “ We a r e b r a c i n g o u r s e l v e s for t he ac t i on s w e a r e goi n g to ne e d to t a ke to f i g ht back t he on sl au g ht he’s pl a n n i n g for i m m i g r a nt com mu n it ies,” Altschuler added. With so many immigrants relying on the city’s IDNYC program to secure documents needed to go about their daily lives, some New Yorkers are apprehensive about what would happen if Trump got hold of that program’s database. Rashida Richardson, legislative counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the database provides a readily accessible treasure trove of basic information like names, addresses, and places of birth. She urged New Yorkers to call their elected representatives and have them support legislation to restrict law enforcement access to such information. Richardson also said the public must press Albany to codify the protections of the US Supreme Cou r t’s R oe v. Wade decision against the risk that a Trump court could reverse the landmark 1973 abortion rights ruling. Taking a sharp breath before speaking, Meg Barnette, the chief of staff at Planned Parenthood of New York City, said that the state’s abortion laws exist in the penal code rather than in the public health code, where she argued they belong.

She noted t hat Gover nor Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to spell out all the protections of Roe v. Wade in state law have hit a brick wall in the Republican-controlled State Senate. “While New York City has been a haven for reproductive rights and justice, it is not safe,” Barnette said. “We need at this time to not just be safe, but a sanctuary, we need to be a leader on t his issue... We have to t hi n k not on ly about protect i ng t he access we have cur rent ly, but our responsibility to provide care to a whole lot of other people who would have to come here to get that care.” W hile Ba r nette a nd her colleagues specialize in reproductive health, she urged everyone in attendance, who could be affected by Trump’s presidency in a variety of ways, to come together in unity. “We stand in solidarity with all of the other issues on this stage,” Barnette said. “There’s no singleissue struggles because we don’t have single-issue lives.” Yasmin Safdié, the senior manager of organizing and advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which serves the LGBTQ communit y, ta lked about how people should respond if faced with a bias attack and emphasized that it is important to understand there isn’t always one right answer. As a witness to such a crime, she said, one should assess the situation and their own personal safety first. The best thing to do, she added, was to check in with the person being harassed or attacked and to not escalate the situation. “In the moment it can be complicated,” Safdié said. “But, really, [let] the person getting harassed know you’re there and they’re not alone.” With speakers describing the dawn of the Trump era as a precarious time, they urged attendees to donate to organizations like the ones they represent – – but, most importantly, to be prepared to volunteer, organize, and speak up for what they believe in. “As people who love this country, we have an obligation to stand up and shape its future in this way,” Garodnick said. “Particularly at this critical moment when your va lues a re in da nger, we must stand up and fight back.” n

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | December 15 – 28, 2016

 





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Neither Here Nor There BY DAVID KENNERLEY

“I

n T ra nsit” bi l ls itsel f as “Broadway’s first a cappella musical,” destined to “make history.” Indeed, under the guidance of director/ choreographer Kathleen Marshall, the skillful cast delivers terrific renditions of jazzy pop tunes and power ballads with nary a woodwind, string, or drum. Instead, the ensemble, alternately led by beatbox masters Steven “HeaveN” Cantor and Chesney Snow (the role is so taxing they alternate shows), provides the musical accompaniment along with the singing. Not to mention all manner of w ild, percussive beats and sound effects. Ever y sound is produced by a human voice. A nd w h at b et t er s et t i n g t o showcase this art form than the New York subway system, where the polyrhythms of the city and its restless denizens often converge to create a glorious symphony. In this subterranean realm, a steady st rea m of yea r ning, a lienated humanity is bent on getting from point A to point B. But what about the journey? For skeptics wondering whether a Broadway tuner can float without the aid of an orchestra, “In Transit” firmly whisks any doubts aside. Deke Sharon (“Pitch Perfect”) is the vocal arranger. It may also be the first musica l in which t he book, music, and lyrics together are credited to four creators: Kristen AndersonLopez (Oscar winner for “Frozen”), James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth. Ye t t h i s t o o - m a n y - c o o k s approach may explain the disjointed book and awkward tone. Is this a savvy, gritty, slice-of-life urban drama or a frothy, Disneyesque comic fairy tale? Is it a love letter

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JOAN MARCUS

Margo Seibert in Broadway’s first a cappella musical, “”In Transit.”

to New Yorkers or an infomercial for the MTA? Like those frantic subway riders in transit, it’s neither here nor there. One moment, the sassy token boot h clerk ( or whatever t hey call them nowadays) inexplicably struts down a runway wearing a gown made of yellow MetroCards, and the audience squeals with delight. Later, a sketchy guy urinates on the subway platform, and the audience squirms. “In Transit” attempts to quash stereotypes but there’s just no avoiding them in such multi-character endeavors (a cast of 11 plays more than 40 roles, if you count train announcers). First we meet Jane (a highly appea l i ng Ma rgo Seiber t), a n aspiring actress hoping for her big break, marking time as an office temp. Then there’s the good-looking

former Wall Street whiz (James Snyder) now down on his luck, who becomes smitten with Jane. There’s also Ali (Erin Mackey), reeling from her breakup w ith Dave ( Dav id Abeles ), who has since moved on. Then there’s the stylish gay couple, recently engaged and working on communication issues. Trent (an exceptional Justin Guarini, of “American Idol” fame) is still closeted with respect to his family, while his partner, Steven (Telly Leung, from “Glee”), threatens to call off the wedding if he won’t come out to his Christian-right mom. Trent refers to Steven as his roommate. The show dutifully checks off t he a l l-too-fa m i l ia r t ropes of underground travel in New York: sardine-packed cars, unexplained delays, nasty smells, homeless people, ga rbled PA a nnounce-

ments, Dr. Zizmor posters, manspreading, and so on. It helps that the production is staged in the relatively small, proscenium-free Circle in the Square Theatre, increasing the intimacy that matches the a cappella sensibility. Donyale Werle’s set is a dead ringer for an MTA subway station and features an ingenious conveyor belt running down the length of the stage, replicating the forward motion of a subway train. The wispy story threads don’t carry much weight, and you can see major plot resolutions from severa l t ra i n stops away. T he “together but alone” theme is driven home with a sledgehammer, while the message of learning to be “happy in the moment” is nothing we haven’t heard before. Despite the bumps, “In Transit” is a fun ride if you focus on the wonders of the a cappella sound effects, music, and lyrics. Jane’s song about temping until landing a plum acting gig is particularly catchy: “I do what I don’t really do, so I can do what I do,” she croons, with a dash of self-deprecation. Also a hoot is the number “Four Days Home,” sung while Trent and Steven are visiting Trent’s hometown, deep in the red state of Texas. “We’re in separate rooms. The frustration starts to pile up. All our porn is on the cloud and it won’t come through on dial-up!” n

IN TRANSIT Circle in the Square Theatre 235 W. 50th St. Performance schedule varies $89-$159 InTransitBroadway.com One hr., 40 mins. with no intermission

December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c bus stops, from p.10 Scott Falk, CB8’s Transportation Committee’s co-chair, however, said that the bus map the MTA provided was incomplete and board members had requested information on several bus stops that were excluded. Falk said he emailed Marcus Book, the MTA’s assistant director of government a nd com mu n it y relat ions, on November 3 noting that the East 63rd St reet a nd T hird Avenue stops for the M101, M102, and M103 routes were missing from the map, as were several M15 local stops on Second Avenue. Falk said he never received a reply. “We’ve certainly urged them to restore these as quickly as possible,� Falk said of the bus stops. “We’re very aware and also affected by how inconvenient it is, and how for many people it’s not merely the standard inconvenience of walking a block.� Falk said the MTA had previously assured board members that each of the bus stops would be restored within four to six weeks of the completion of nearby subway construction, though the agency had explained that the return of HOUSE HOUSE CALLS CALLS

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December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


DOE Backs Off Plan for Speedy District 3 North Rezoning BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he Department of Education has withdrawn its rezoning proposal for the northern portion of District 3 amidst concerns from parents and Community Education Council 3 members that the process was being rushed.The DOE’s withdrawal was first reported by The New York Times. The DOE’s rezoning proposal covered an area that stretches from Central Park North to West 124th Street and from Morningside Avenue east to Fifth Avenue and includes P.S 241, P.S. 76, P.S. 180, P.S. 242, P.S. 149, P.S. 208, and P.S. 185. The Harlem rezoning map was

released in November, while debate continued to rage over a controversial larger rezoning of the southern portion of the district. That plan was recently approved by CEC3 after well over a year of debate. T he proposa l for t he nor t hern portion of District 3 aimed to merge P.S. 241 at 240 West 113th Street with P.S. 76 at 220 West 121st Street and would have the closed school’s zone swallowed up by neighboring zones for P.S. 76, P.S. 180 at 370 West 120th Street, and the combined P.S. 185 at 20 West 112th Street and P.S. 208 at 21 West 111th Street. According to the DOE, the rationale behind the merger included budgetary and

programmatic challenges due to low enrollment at P.S. 241. Compared to the southern rezoning, which sparked protracted debate and repeated revisions over many public meetings going back more than a year, the proposal for the district’s northern portion was expected to move quickly, with a CEC3 vote scheduled for December 14, just a month after its introduction. But at the first public hearing for the rezoning on December 8, parents and CEC3 members alike commented on the need for more time for review and discussion. Following the DOE’s withdrawal on Monday, the CEC3 will now put off its December 14 vote but — as

Manhattan Express was going to press — still planned a public hearing on the rezoning. According to CEC3, previously scheduled joint DOE and CEC3 public hearings on January 9 and 11 have also been cancelled, and the rezoning will no longer be on the agenda of the DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy meeting on January 18. That meeting, however, will include a discussion and vote on the relocation of P.S. 452, now at 100 West 77th Street, to the 210 West 61st Street school building being vacated by P.S. 191, which is moving to a new building at Riverside Center. Those changes were part of the district’s southern rezoning. n

Police Blotter Midtown North Precinct 306 West 54th Street 212-767-8400 Midtown South Precinct 357 West 35th Street 212-239-9811 17th Precinct 167 East 51st Street 212-826-3211 19th Precinct 153 East 67th Street 212-452-0600 20th Precinct 120 West 82nd Street 212-580-6411 23rd Precinct 162 East 102nd Street 212-860-6411 24th Precinct 151 West 100th Street 212-678-1811

Visit ManhattanExpressNews.nyc for full area precinct listing.

ASSAULT: BIGOT ON BLAST (Midtown South Precinct) A man is wanted by police after hurling anti-Muslim statements at a Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker wearing a hijab and then pushing her down a flight of stairs at Grand Central Terminal on December 5. Police said that at around 6:30 p.m., the man began making hateful remarks toward the 45-year-old female victim when they were aboard a 7 train, saying things like “terrorist” and “go back to your country.” The woman left the train at the Grand Central stop and the suspect followed her and continued to make anti-Muslim comments, police said. The man then pushed the victim down a staircase and injured her right knee and ankle, according to police, who said the woman was taken to NYU Langone Medical Center for treatment. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as an Hispanic male, 25 to 35 years old, 5’9” to 6’, 150 to 180 pounds, and last seen wearing a dark-colored jacket and a black winter hat.

ROBBERY: LOSING STREAK (19th & Midtown South Precincts) Police are looking for 38-year-old Alex Garcia for his connection to a string of mostly failed bank robbery attempts on December 1 and 5. According to police, the suspect’s first robbery, on December 1 at around noon at the Apple Bank at 371 Seventh Avenue between West 30th and 31st Streets, allowed him to make off with an undetermined amount of cash after passing the teller a note demanding money. However, the following five incidents on December 5, three in Midtown and two on the Upper East Side, proved unsuccessful as the tellers refused to hand over any money, police said. Police released photos of the suspect (avail-

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | December 15 – 28, 2016

able at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as an Hispanic male, approximately 5’7”, 160 pounds, bald, and with hazel eyes.

to New York Presbyterian for her injuries, police said. Copeland was arrested December 9 and was charged with robbery, according to police.

HOMICIDE: WASTED YOUTH (23rd Precinct)

ROBBERY: NOT AN EASY TARGET (23rd Precinct)

Police arrested Paul Gilbert, a 26-year-old Bronx man, and charged him with a murder that took place in September. According to police, Cody Dubose, a 24-year-old man, was found unconscious and unresponsive with a gunshot wound to his chest outside his home at 1734 Madison Avenue near East 115th Street on September 27 at around 7:45 a.m. Dubose was pronounced dead after being transported to St. Luke’s Hospital, police said.

HOMICIDE: ASSASSINATED (28th Precinct) A 24-year-old woman was found shot in the head outside King Tower Houses at 1370 Fifth Avenue, between 112th and 115th Streets, police said. According to the police, the victim was found on December 9 at around 2 a.m. with a gunshot wound to her head and EMS pronounced her dead at the scene. Police said there are currently no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY: BRONX BRUTE BUSTED (19th Precinct) Police arrested Clarence Copeland, a 54-yearold Bronx man, for punching a 54-year-old woman in the face and stealing her bag on December 2 at around 11 p.m. According to police, Copeland followed the woman into her building in the vicinity of East 67th Street and demanded her bag before assaulting her. The victim suffered a cut to her left eye, with bruising around her face, and was brought

A man is wanted for attempting to steal a 73-yearold woman’s purse on December 2 at around 7:30 p.m. at the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and East 103rd Street, police said. According to police, the victim was about to enter her parked SUV, when the suspect tried to remove her purse by force, but ultimately failed to. In the tussle, the victim was knocked to the ground, scraping her wrists, hands, and knees in the process, police said. The woman was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital by EMS, while the police said the victim was seen fleeing into the 103rd Street subway station. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a 6’ to 6’2” man wearing a dark-colored hooded jacket, scarf, dark pants, and black sneakers with white soles.

BURGLARY: AFTER ME LUCKY CHARMS (Midtown North Precinct) A man made off with a pail of gold flakes valued at $1.6 million dollars from the back of an armored truck on September 29 at around 4:30 p.m., police said. According to police, the armored truck was parked in front of 48 West 48th Street and the suspect grabbed the five-gallon pail, weighing around 86 pounds, from the back. Police said the man fled eastbound on West 48th Street toward Third Avenue and no injuries resulted from the incident. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as an Hispanic male, 5’6”, 150 pounds, 50 to 60 years old, wearing a black vest, green shirt, and blue jeans, and carrying a black messenger bag.

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December 15 – 28, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc

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