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JACKSON CHEN

A Times Square Vision for New Yorkers March 23 – April 5, 2017 | Vol. 03 No. 06

MANHATTANEXPRESSNEWS.NYC

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CB8 Opposes First Avenue Liquor License Renewal Avenue resident at the CB8 meeting. “If you had it in your neighborhood, you’d be as passionate as the people who live around it. It’s dangerous and has complete disregard for neighbors and residents.� According to testimony from several other neighbors at the CB8 full board meeting on March 15, La Nuit is a constant beacon drawing police activity. L o c a l resident s’ accou nt s ranged from seeing fights break out on the street in the middle of the night to witnessing seemingly intoxicated bar patrons leaving, getting in their cars, and driving away. On Februar y 25, police said, a 26-year-old man was stabbed i n t he side of his body w it h a knife after trying to break up a fight outside La Nuit. There have been no arrests, according to the NYPD.

BY JACKSON CHEN

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ommunity Board 8 has once again disapproved a liquor license renewal for a First Avenue bar widely thought of as a bad neighbor to nearby residents. L a Nuit Rest au ra nt at 1134 First Avenue, between East 62nd and 63rd Streets, defines itself on its website as a “tapas bar, restaurant, and hookah lounge in its swanky two story space.� But in discussion about t he establishment’s application for a renewal of its liquor license, due to expire on March 31, residents and CB8 members offered a starkly different view, with neighbors complaining of pools of vomit outside, frequent fights, and harassment from drunk patrons out on the street. The board unanimously voted against a license renewal. “This place is a real blight on the community,� said one First

 LA NUIT, continued on p.10

JACKSON CHEN

La Nuit, a bar on First Avenue between East 62nd and 63rd Streets, is scrambling to renew its liquor license amidst strong community opposition.

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Taking on Incumbent, Mel Wymore Again

Tosses Hat into District 6 Ring BY JACKSON CHEN

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el Wymore is taking a second shot at making histor y as the City Council’s first out transgender member, announcing his campaign for Council District 6 on March 16. But first, he would have to survive a second round against the seat’s incumbent, Helen Rosenthal. W y more, 55, f i r st face d of f against the councilmember in the 2013 Democratic primary, when the then-councilmember, Gale Brewer, was ter m limited a nd moved on to become the borough president. In the primary, Wymore lost, but was the runner-up in a multi-candidate race, earning 6,440 votes to Rosenthal’s 7,716 votes — a difference of four percent-plus out of more than 28,000 total votes cast, according to the city Board of Elections. The challenger has a long history of community activism as a current member of Community Board 7, where he previously served as chair for two years. Wymore’s community CV spans more than 30 organizations that have allowed him to work with youth, seniors, people w ith disabilities, small businesses, non-profits, LGBTQ groups, and low-income communities. Most recently, he served as the executive director of TransPAC, a political action committee working to achieve equal rights for transgender people. Wymore said he’s since resigned from his post and suspended his fundraising duties for the group so he could focus on his Council run and avoid any potential for conflicts of interest. His key concerns in running a Council race again this year are focused on how the city can address the radical shift in the nation’s political landscape and, at the neighborhood level, how best to protect affordable housing on the Upper West Side.

COURTESY: MEL WYMORE

Council hopeful Mel Wymore, who finished second in the 2013 primary, is taking on incumbent Helen Rosenthal.

“City Council is our last line of defense against Trump’s attacks on our most vulnerable citizens,” Wymore said in his announcement. “We must be vigilant, take initiative, and most of all, organize for action right here in New York.” With a wealth of community experience, Wymore said he’s particularly concerned with the large amount of high-end developments sprouting up that threaten the character and affordability of the residential neighborhood. Between a more expensive real estate market and tenants being harassed by landlords, he said, he feared for middle-class and low-income families. But the challenger isn’t just highlighting changes threatening the community, he’s also emphasizing how the job description for being a councilmember has shifted since he last ran in 2013. “There were several things that changed, the context, the different challenges now ahead of us,” Wymore told Manhattan Express. “Our state legislature is largely controlled by a conservative agenda, and Trump is attacking our community. City Council is where we can take care of our vulnerable citizens.” On the Upper West Side, among

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 – April 5, 2017

the most vulnerable groups are the students, parents, and school community that were caught up in the recent rezoning debacle arising out of a need to address racial and socioeconomic segregation in School District 3’s student makeup. Wymore charged that the incumbent failed to listen to many of the voices during the school rezoning debate. “Playing musical chairs among the parents and students in the community without really hearing their input is not the answer in my opinion,” he said. “On all sides of the equation, I’m not seeing a solution… There’s so many people left out of the conversation.” In his talks with district residents, Wymore said, he has heard a lot of dissatisfaction with Rosenthal’s term, leading him to believe the incumbent “lacks the responsiveness and inclusiveness to serve every member of our community and bring us together.” “I discovered a lot of discontent, people feeling angry, dismissed because of constituent services requests,” he said, adding that he knows of people have who called Rosenthal’s office up to 30 times without a response. “There is a sense of a lack of collaboration, a lack of inclusiveness. The people in

the most marginalized community are feeling undeserved, unheard, and unmet.” W hen asked about Wymore’s criticisms, Rosenthal said his statements were not backed up with evidence. “I think that’s a conclusionary statement that does not have much,” she s a id. “ T here’s no expression or indication of why he thinks that’s true.” The incumbent defended her positions and actions on several contentious issues in her district, including the school rezoning as well as the American Museum of Natural Histor y’s controversial expansion project, saying, “A leader has to lead, and sometimes that means making unpopular choices for some people.” Wy more a nd Rosent ha l a re joined by another contender in the District 6 race, with Cary Goodma n, a voca l opponent of t he museum’s project, which would encroach on t he sur roundi ng Theodore Roosevelt Park, having announced his Council run in January. However, Rosenthal is confident in her re-election bid, speaking of the “proven track record” she has. In her term, the councilmember said, she’s worked to integrate schools and ensure students get an excellent education, provided protections against rent increases for people w ith disabilities, and pushed legislation providing support for residents facing tenant harassment. Rosent ha l sa id she still has work to do — especially in the face of a Trump administration — like promoting equal pay for women, protecting LGBTQ students, and speaking out against Islamophobia. “If anyone gets on the ballot, then we’ll have an opponent to debate,” Rosenthal said. “For now, my focus is continuing to do the governing work I’ve done the past three years and three months.”

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Midtown Rezoning Wins Borough Nod —

Except from Community Boards BY JACKSON CHEN

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majority of the Manhattan Borough Board — composed of the borough president, its city councilmembers, and community board chairs — approved the Department of City Planning’s Midtown East rezoning plan on March 16, but noted the action comes while the plan is still in the middle of an evolving review process. Of the 10 board members present, eight voted in favor and there were two abstentions — from the chairs of Community Boards 5 and 6, which last week both passed resolutions conditionally withholding their support for the plan. On March 8 and 9, respectively, CB6 and CB5 disapproved the rezoning proposal at full board meetings, citing a lack of serious focus in the plan on incentives for public spaces to be created in tandem with the new development. T he M idtow n East rezon i ng would enable the area from East 39th to East 57th Streets, from Fifth Avenue to Third — with the district extending east to Second Avenue between East 42nd and East 43rd Streets — to operate under different zoning rules than would otherwise apply. The proposal is meant to spur modern office building construction by offering potential developers the chance at more density provided they either buy development rights from landmarked buildings throughout the district or contribute to a public realm improvement project. A f ter a fa i led 2013 at tempt at a re z on i ng pla n u nder t he Bloomberg administration, the effort officially restarted in October 2015 when the Department of City Planning released its second proposal. Community Boards 5 and 6 joined Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilmember Dan Garodnick, a variety of city agencies, local groups, and landmarked

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JACKSON CHEN

Park Avenue, looking north from East 51st Street, in the middle of the proposed Midtown East rezoning district.

institutions in months of work that tried to strike a balance among all affected parties. “We think that we are on a better path to be able to deliver new zoning rules and benefits to the public,” Garodnick said during the Borough Board meeting. “That said, we’re in the middle of ULURP, wh ich mea ns t hat not a l l t he issues are resolved.” ULURP is the Uniform Land Use Review Process, a months-long procedure for approving projects with successive oversight by local community boards, the borough president, the City Planning Commission, the City Council, and finally the mayor’s signature. Garodnick explained that there were still questions of how much of a cut the public realm improvement fund — established to finance transit and open spaces amenities in connection with new development — would receive through the transfer of landmarked building’s development rights, how a governing group would allocate those funds to specific projects, and if the city would deliver on public realm investments upfront, before the new developments are fully constructed.

What largely went unanswered in the Borough Board meeting were concerns raised by CB5 and CB6 in lengthy, detailed resolutions adopted last week. CB6’s Land Use and Waterfront Committee chair Sandro Sherrod explained that his board’s fivepage resolution addressed the most salient points raised by community members, including the desire for more stringent and in-depth requirements on development and public realm improvement incentives that make clear to local residents what can be expected. The board’s resolution stated “there remain many unresolved issues in a number of major categories,” including open space, Metropolitan Transportation Authority improvements, above-ground public realm improvements, the zoning area’s boundaries, and the impact of sunlight reduction on the streets. According to CB6, the current rezoning proposal doesn’t treat the options for developers earning higher f loor-to-area ratios — or FARs, the total f loor space compared to the size of the area the building will be on — equally. The board’s resolution voiced opposi-

tion to the incentives for developers to first look to landmarks’ transferrable development rights and transit improvements as sources of a FAR increase before they consider incorporating public open space amenities into their projects. The resolution warned that “aboveground public realm improvements may never materialize” unless the city creates a way to ensure they do. Among a lengthy list of reservations, CB6 was particularly concerned about building shadows that would reduce access to light and fresh air, the unprecedented levels of traffic and congestion that would follow the rezoning, and the performance and sustainability requirements placed on new buildings. The board specifically sought to move the eastern border of the rezoning area from east of Third Avenue back to the middle of the avenue to curb the incursion of commercial construction into the Turtle Bay residential neighborhood. One day following CB6’s vote, CB5 also voted to reject the rezon-

 REZONING, continued on p.14

March 23 – April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Crafting a Times Square Vision for New Yorkers BY JACKSON CHEN

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ith Times Square’s recent debut of more than two acres of new pedestrian space, a group influential in setting policy for the Crossroads of the World is now moving on to shape a more sweeping vision for the area that will appeal to New Yorkers and visitors alike. B e g i n n i n g i n 2 013 , T i m e s Square underwent a $55 million renovation project to create pedestrian plazas from West 42nd to 47th Streets. For nearly four years, the construction bottlenecked the already heavily trafficked area, at times worsening pedestrian and auto congestion. But by the end of 2016, right before the masses flooded the streets for the Times Square ball drop, the city had completed work on more than 85,000 square feet of paved areas. And, in another move aimed at improving conditions and enhancing the experience of visiting the area, last June city agencies worked

JACKSON CHEN

The Times Square Alliance hopes to develop a future strategy for the area that appeals to everyday New Yorkers.

with the Times Square Alliance to create “designated activity zones” that limited commercial activities — from ticket sellers trying to rope in audience members to costumed characters and desnudas asking for tips — to teal-painted sections

measuring eight feet by 50 feet. With two new acres of open space plus some measure of order introduced to the area, the alliance and its president, Tim Tompkins, have now embarked on sketching out a vision of Times Square moving for-

ward. The organization’s main goal is to strike the right balance for an area known to attract tourists with its bright lights and high energy but which also aims to become a more welcoming space for everyday New Yorkers. “We’re going into this new phase where I think it’s really important that the plazas be viewed as an asset after years of being under constr uction a nd a big mess,” Tompkins said at a recent Community Board 5 meeting. “We want to get it right, and we’ll probably make some mistakes.” In tack ling this tr ick y task, Tompkins has reached out to the important players active in the Times Square community, including CB5, the city Department of Transportation, and the New York Police Department. The coalition is also looking to its own data, based on regular surveys it conducts in Times Square. In an August 2016 survey, when

 TIMES SQUARE VISION, continued on p.11

Midtown South Community Council Takes Aim at Sidewalk Clutter BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

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he Midtown South Community Council (MSCC) didn’t wait for spring to set their sights on removing a winter’s worth of clutter from the sidewalks of Hell’s K itchen. The group’s March 16 meeting, held four days prior to the calendar’s change of seasons, saw the council determined to clean up sidewalks by carting off derelict bikes, clipping off milk crates from signposts, and promoting the city’s “Adopt-a-Basket” program. The group is also studying the idea of establishing a modular news rack program similar to the one run in Midtown East by the Grand Central Partnership, in the hopes of eliminating the scattershot placement of news boxes that currently dot the neighborhood. “ W hat we’ve got a round t he neig hborhood is t hese plast ic maga zine holders, and they’re always beaten up and look atro-

COURTESY: JOHN A. MUDD

The Midtown South Community Council has been removing derelict bikes from the sidewalks.

cious,” John A. Mudd, the council’s president said at last week’s meeting. “Our plan is to get rid of them — put something out there that’s nice.” Recently, Mudd, Eugene Sinigalliano, the council’s beautification director, and Kathy Kahng of

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 – April 5, 2017

CityRax walked around Midtown and counted 128 individual news boxes. Kahng manages the Grand Central Partnership news rack program. Fifty publishers participate in that program, which she noted is voluntary. “We prov ide them w ith news

racks and they put their publications in,” Kahng explained to those gathered at the New Yorker Hotel on Eighth Avenue at 34th Street. There are five other programs like this in the city, she said, and some have received grants from city councilmembers. The grants have covered capital expenses, though there is still a need for funding for upkeep, she said. “The reason you don’t see too many of these programs is because it’s expensive,” Kahng said. “And to turn around and say, ‘Okay, well I’m going to make the publishers pay for that’ — there’s too many First Amendment concerns. So really unless you have a third party like yourselves or one of the [business improvement districts] to underwrite the program and manage it, it’s not going to happen.” T he council is sponsor i ng a design contest for the multi-box

 CLUTTER, continued on p.13 5


Councilmembers Endorse $25 Million for

Institutions Targeted by Hate BY JACKSON CHEN

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n response to the recent rise of hate crimes in New York City, two city councilmembers are proposing a $25 million fund for security grants to cultural institutions and community centers. Upper West Side Councilmember Mark Levine and Queens Councilmember Rory Lancman together announced the initiative outside City Hall on March 9. The fund would offer parts of its $25 million budget to cultural institutions and community centers that are at risk of being targeted for their ideology, beliefs, or mission. While there are currently funds from the state and federal levels to improve safety and security at schools and daycare centers in danger of being targeted in hate crime attacks, the councilmembers wanted to afford those same protections on a city level to other organizations, as well. “Our city’s community centers and cultural institutions, which have been repeatedly targeted in recent months, are left with nowhere to turn for help in meeting their security needs,” Levine said in a press release. The two councilmembers were joined by City Comptroller Scott Stringer and several Jewish organizations in their call for funding security measures. According to the statistics from New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force, incidents have more than doubled from January 1 to March 5, compared to the same time frame last year. This year, there have been 100 reported hate crimes in the new yea r, compa red to last yea r’s 43, representing a 113 percent increase, according to the NYPD. More specifically, its numbers also show there were 55 instances of anti-Semitic hate crimes so far in this year, a 189 percent increase over last year’s 19 reported incidents. While far less than anti-Semitic incidents, anti-Muslim hate

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FOURTH UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY

Vandalism at the Fourth Universalist Society refers to the notorious “race office” from Germany’s Nazi era.

JOHN MCCARTEN/ NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL

Councilmembers Rory Lancman (left) and Mark Levine (center) at a March 9 City Hall press conference calling for $25 million in security for cultural institutions targeted for hate crimes.

crimes also rose 150 percent from two cases last year to five cases this year, according to the statistics. With hate crimes outnumbering the amount of days to date, incidents have been reported throughout the boroughs, including backto-back bomb threats on March 10 and 11 in Brooklyn at the Jewish Children’s Museum and at a Midwood Jewish Center. In December,

West Side State Senator Brad Hoylman was informed of a swastika carved onto the door of his apartment building, and several days later he opened a letter containing an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel pamphlet. More recently, on February 28, the Fourth Universalist Society at 160 Central Park West at West 76th Street discovered two swastikas

and the words “race office” carved into its doors. Reverend Schuyler Vogel said the congregation had initially hoped it was some act of petty vandalism, but the reference to “race office” — a phrase he believes alludes to the Nazi Party unit that enforced racial purity — made him believe there was intent behind the act. “There was a lot of concern and surprise when it happened,” Vogel said. “No one expected it, and our congregation hasn’t been a target like this before. But I don’t think there is any feeling that we should stop what we’re doing. If anything, it’s a confirmation we’re doing something right.” Vogel added t hat just weeks prior, the church had signed onto the sanctuary movement where religious institutions offer refuge to undocumented city residents in light of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown. To repa ir t he ma r red doors, church staff tried to minimize the damage through sanding and varnishing, but will have the woodworker who designed the doors revisit and restore them to their original quality. In terms of preventative measures, Vogel said, the councilmembers’ proposal to fund security measures was a great idea. He said that sur veillance cameras and security are expenses often overlooked by churches. “Our congregation hasn’t had the resources historically to add security, to have cameras,” Vogel said. “We don’t have either of those things. A lot of congregations don’t have a tremendous amount to spare.” In the case of Fourth Universalist, Vogel said, cameras are tricky given the value his congregation places on privacy and anonymity due to its sanctuary status as well as the many Alcoholics Anonymous groups that meet there.

 HATE, continued on p.7

March 23 – April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Our Perspective For Working People, Progress and Resistance By Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW JACKSON CHEN

Fourth Universalist Society Reverend Schuyler Vogel in his closing benediction at a March 10 interfaith service.

JACKSON CHEN

Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid from Harlem’s Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood speaks at the March 10 service.

 HATE, from p.6 However, better lighting around the church building, he said, could dissuade potential incidents in the future. If the Council’s funding proposal goes through, the Fourth Universalist could get a brighter entrance to match the outlook of its congregants and leader. Though the recent hate crime was disturbing, Vogel took it as an opportunity to unite leaders from different faiths

and communities against hate during a service on March 10. Politicians on the city, state, and federal levels joined leaders of synagogues and mosques in singing hymns and rededicating the space as someplace where all are welcome and offered refuge if needed. “All effective change movements will attract attention that is negative,” Vogel said. “We’re not going to stop being a sanctuary church, and we think the world needs a progressive liberal voice.”

You’re invited to join us in honoring

Jillian Weiss Executive Director Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund

Thursday, March 30 A portion of proceeds will be donated to not for profit local LGBT and community organizations

orkers at three Babeland stores in New York City a mission-driven, queer-owned sex toy boutique – have made history by ratifying their first union contract after organizing with the RWDSU last year. Workers will receive general wage increases and adjustments, We will fight any attempts to marginalize working people. as well as signing bonuses and post-probationary wage increases. Most significantly, it’s the first union contract that includes added safety and security trainings and protocols to protect Babeland’s predominately LGBTQ and women workforce in this highly emotionally intimate industry. It’s a contract that shows the value of unions, and how union contracts can help workers in any industry and any workplace. Babeland workers have unique, job-specific concerns, and by winning a voice and the power that comes with it they were able to win a contract that will significantly improve their jobs and their work lives. And, it will help protect them in the workplace, which was one of the driving reasons behind their desire to organize. In the era of Trump, it’s In the era of Trump, significant that these workers with those who have proved the power we can all win when we stand together. traditionally been marginalized by society facing uncertain times and an increasingly hostile environment, it’s significant that these workers proved the power we can all win when we stand together. It’s significant because we all deserve to be treated with dignity, justice and respect. Working men and women – regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status – refuse to recede back into the shadows, or succumb to the fear being stoked by our current presidential leadership. We will fight any attempts to marginalize working people. We see it in victories like those at Babeland, and we see it in the emphatic rejection of Andrew Puzder, who would have been the most anti-worker Labor Secretary we have ever known. Even in difficult times, there is power in unity. Across America, people are fighting back, and we in the labor movement are proud to be an integral part of it.

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www.rwdsu.org

Tickets: www.gaycitynews.nyc/impact ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 – April 5, 2017

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Neighborhood Bike Shop Adapts to Retail’s New Realities BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

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ear a helmet” and “Don’t go too cheap” are aphorisms Enoch Hooper dishes out like a Zen master doles out koans when customers enter Enoch’s Bike Shop. The longtime Hell’s Kitchen resident and business owner may be a fan of short statements, but his knowledge of bicycles is a well that runs deep. Hooper caught the bike bug after he moved to New York in 1970. Born in Panama, he lived in a variety of places, including Tampa, where he went to school. He moved here because he “just wanted to go someplace exciting.” A fter a stint as a cab driver, Hooper worked as a bike messenger, on and off, for the next 10 years. He was employed by several services, including what he termed “can carriers.” “ They used to deliver a lot of films, which in those days came w rapped in big sardine cans,” Hooper explained. “The good thing was a lot of freedom,” he said about his time as a messenger, during this reporter’s recent visit to his shop. “Nobody telling you what to do constantly. The body’s full of endorphins, feeling good most of the time. And I like to look around a lot — what a wonderful place to do that, this city.” T o k e e p h i s b i k e i n w o r king order, he learned how to do repairs. “Bicycles are fragile things, so you either pay somebody to fix them for you or you learn how to fix them,” he said. From there, he then started fixing other people’s bikes, including those belonging to friends. “I t u r ne d t h at i nto a sm a l l business where I would do the repairs at the messenger office,” he recalled. “Little by little, it just grew to where it became pretty clear that my next step should be at a storefront and open a shop.” Hooper moved to Hell’s Kitchen

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DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

Enoch Hooper, who has lived in Hell’s Kitchen since 1976 and owned his neighborhood bike shop since 1983.

— around West 48th Street and 10th Avenue — in 1976 because of “cheap, cheap rent.” In 1983, he opened up his bike shop in the neighborhood “right around the corner.” The store’s first location was 699 10th Avenue, between West 47th and 48th Streets, and business was good. “I catered to messengers mainly,” he explained. “There weren’t a lot of normal people — I use the word normal — but regular people that would ride bicycles. Nothing like it is nowadays. Very little competition; not that many bike shops. Whereas now, they’re all over the place.” After 13 years at that location, Hooper had to move. T he cit y owned the building and wanted to do renovations, and he would have had to shutter his business for a long time if he stayed. The store opened at its second spot, 756 10th Avenue, between West 51st and 52nd Streets, in 1996, and business “was not as good as the first location.” The landscape was starting to change. There was more competition from other stores and from a number of bicycle parts mail-order

houses that had started up in the early ‘90s. In 2009, Enoch’s moved south down 10th Avenue to the corner of West 37th Street. About four and a half years ago, the store moved to a different spot in the same building, Hooper said, with its current frontage between West 36th and 37th Streets. “It’s a struggle,” he said, saying there are not enough customers. “Middle of the road retail is pretty much dead nowadays. Places like this… [it’s] ver y difficult to sell mercha ndise nowadays ’cause the Internet will sell a bicycle for just about what I have to pay for it wholesale, I guess because of the volume that they buy in. So we’re mostly focusing now on repairs.” Hooper said the most common thing that people need fixing is flat tires or the replacement of a tire, as well as repairing brakes and gears. “We’re very good at repairs, and we’re fair pricing and we’re friendly,” he said. “I’ve got a guy here who people really like, Will — the guy who runs the place when I’m not around. I’m almost semi-retired at this point. So he’s here more than I

am lately.” William Gillespie, 52, has worked at Enoch’s Bike Shop on and off for about 20 years. “It’s fun. It’s independent. It’s a small business — you don’t have the same obligations as the corporate world,” Gillespie said by phone. “I get paid to ride a bicycle.” Gillespie was also a bike messenger and started volunteering at Enoch’s in the winter of 1996 to learn the trade. By the spring that year, he was working at the shop. Hooper, who had soot on his hands during our visit, also still does repairs, which he enjoys. “It’s like you’re helping people,” he said. Some customers have been coming to the store for 30 years, and Hooper has lived at the same place in Hell’s Kitchen since 1976. Hudson Yards — a stone’s throw away from the shop — has helped his business, he said, by turning commuters into customers. “Some of these office buildings are encouraging bicycle riding by having showers and bike rooms to

 BIKES, continued on p.9

March 23 – April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


 BIKES, from p.8 store their bikes,” Hooper said. “Most of that’s still in the future though, but there is one that’s already doing that.” Both he and Gillespie said Citi Bike — there is a stand catty-corner from the store — has affected rentals for the worse. “The rentals, there’s so much competition in that area that everybody’s dropped their prices to where now it’s a ridiculous rate of $6 an hour,” Hooper said. “Whereas 10 years ago, I was charging $10 an hour.” For his part, Hooper, 73, still rides. “Everywhere I go, I go on a bike if I can — it’s good for you,” he said. Having owned and run a small business for more than three decades, Hooper said the best part is, “You don’t have to take junk from somebody — that’s the main thing.” Enoch’s Bike Shop, located at 480 10th Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets, is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.–6:30 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Call 212-582-0620 or visit enochsbikes.com.

DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

To survive in an ever-more competitive retail market, Hooper puts a lot of energy into reliable bike repairs.

MAX

DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

Enoch’s Bike Shop on 10th Avenue between West 36th and 37th Streets.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 – April 5, 2017

9


East River Esplanade Repair Costs Now Put at $200MM BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he cost estimate for repairs to the East River Esplanade has ballooned to roughly $210 million, up from the initial $115 million, according to recent numbers from the Department of Parks and Recreation. The portion of the esplanade that stretches from East 60th Street to East 125th is in dire need of repairs, according to a study done by the parks department back i n 2012 a nd 2013. That study found chunks of the retaining wall displaced, eroded, or cracked and the esplanade’s platform structure with deteriorated timber supports. The agency has also taken note of the chronic sink holes that appea r a round East 90th Street and the partial collapse of the East 117th Street pier. Following the study, Parks initia lly put t he cost estimate at either $115 million for emergency repairs or $430 million to completely reconstruct the seawall. With solid numbers in front of them, Councilmember Ben Kallos and Community Board 8, in 2014, responded with a request for city funding to pursue the more modest repair option. CB8 at that time passed a resolution requesting $120 million, intentionally overshooting the department’s number based on

 LA NUIT, from p.2 At the CB8 meeting, a resident of 405 East 63rd Street testified that on March 12 when she was on her way home police who were stationed nearby offered to walk her past a large crowd gathered outside La Nuit. Others mentioned that local businesses have also escorted neighbors on their way home past bar patrons gathered outside on weekends. March 15 was not the first time a bar operating out of 1134 First Avenue has been in front of CB8 for renewal of the current State Liquor Authority (SLA) license. La Nuit, owned by “S and M Lounge Corp,” was represented by attorney Charles Wertman at CB8’s

10

the assumption that costs would rise over time. During a March 15 full board meeting, CB8 updated the threeyea r-old resolut ion by ca lli ng for $169 million, beyond the $41 million in publc funding already identified. In a March 6 presentation to the East River Esplanade Task Force, which is co-chaired by Kallos and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Parks presented an updated estimate showing that this additional money will be needed over the next 10 years to complete the repair work that is currently envisioned. “We k new that we needed to ask for more money,” Peggy Price, CB8’s Parks and Recreation cochair, said. “We also learned at this task force meeting that $169 million may not be what’s ultimately needed. The prices rise and are continuing to rise, apparently.” According to parks department spokesperson Meghan Lalor, the need for an additional $169 million over the next 10 years reflects “annual inf lation and ongoing increases in construction costs,” adding that the project’s scope has increased since the original engineering study was carried out in 2012 and 2013. “Both figures a re estimates, and actual project costs will differ depending on their scope and

phasing,” Lalor said in an email. “$169 [million] is the additional amount, beyond existing funding, needed to bring the remainder of the facility up to a state of good repair.” As funding for the repairs comes together, public dollars are not the only sources that have been identified. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget has, to date, allocated $35 million, with an additional $6 million coming from the City Council, providing the $41 millon already set. Kallos, however, pointed to separate commitments of $43 million from the city’s Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Design and Construction — and from private institutions including Rockefeller University and Memorial Sloan Kettering. The councilmember said the costs are “ever-increasing” and he intended to continue his advocacy of funding for the full $169 million, especially in the upcoming City Council budget hearings. Given the nature of a major project unfolding over a decade, however, he explained that incremental increases ranging from $30 million to $60 million are likely going to be what bring the project up to full funding. Asked how receptive the city is about making sure the repairs get the money needed, Kallos said, “We’ve had a strong commitment

from the mayor, we have a strong commitment from the governor for funding infrastructure projects, and this is part of that commitment.” He added, “The city must fund infrastructure, otherwise it will just fall apart and get worse. This mayor gets that.”

Street Life Committee meeting on March 7. But in December, an establishment named Lava NYC a nd ow ned by “EL NA SR USA Group LLC,” was before the committee for liquor license renewal, and was also denied. “La Nuit or Lava or whatever it’s calling itself these days... this restaurant is not a service to the community,” said Judy Schneider, co-president of the East Sixties Neighborhood A ssociat ion. “It brings in people by promoters, not people from the neighborhood.” Schneider added that while the representative of La Nuit said the bar was willing to offer concessions, like only being open from Friday to Sunday, the application to the SLA would allow for the sale

of liquor seven days a week. On March 20, after CB8’s vote, State Senator Liz Krueger penned a let ter to SL A cha i r Vi ncent Bradley voicing “serious concerns about the impacts of this establ ish ment on t he su r rou nd i ng area.” K rueger also w rote, “La Nuit has significantly diminished the safety and quality of life of residents in the surrounding area. My office, Manhattan Community Board 8, and the 19th Police Precinct have all received numerous complaints from local residents about problems caused by the establishment.” In her letter, the senator noted t hat ba r pat rons have been arrested for two assault felonies

involving knives, reckless endangerment, a robbery, and a radio being thrown at a moving police vehicle. She added that there have been 15 4 compla i nt s rega rd i n g L a Nuit, according to the city’s 311 data. Wit h t he L a Nuit license set to expire w ithin days, the SL A has yet not made a decision on its renewal. William Crowley, a spokesperson for the SLA, said that most renewals are simple adm i n ist rat ive f unct ions a nd unless there’s something serious, like arrests or pending violations, most businesses get their renewals. Represent at ives for L a Nuit couldn’t be reached for comment.

JACKSON CHEN

Stretches of the East River Esplanade from East 60th Street north are currently undergoing repair.

March 23 – April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


 TIMES SQUARE VISION, from p.5 the construction work was still around, 81 percent of visitors coming from throughout the country were pleased with their experience. However, those respondents who identified themselves as part as the tri-state area were less enthusiastic — with only 68 percent of them saying they enjoyed their visit. As might be expected, New York City residents rated Times Square the most critically. A bare majority of them — 52 percent — voiced satisfaction. “The New York residents are still the toughest folks to please, which is not surprising and that’s frankly the standard we hold ourselves to,” Tompkins said. Kaitlyn Kelly, an Upper East Sider who works in Midtown, said the only reasons she visits the area are for Broadway shows or to shepherd visiting relatives around. “I tr y to avoid T imes Square because of the insane crowds,” Kelly said. “I admit that for visitors it is a really cool spot... but as a local it’s just a huge tourist spot — therefore, it’s always crowded.” To appease those New Yorkers who have the greatest reason to frequent Times Square, Tompkins and his team have scoured the surveys and figured out some common themes that would please them — and perhaps encourage others to visit more often. While Times Square will always have its major commercial elements, CB5 and survey respondents offered feedback that they’d like the area to offer civic space for free community events and simply hanging out. Tompkins said the alliance is considering ways to create small-scale live entertainment events and public art installations that would entice New Yorkers.

Something that has won the most positive feedback has been the food kiosk offerings, and Tompkins believes on that score quality improvements can be made. He said the food stalls would be slimmer and more attractive and offer a selection curated more toward what New Yorkers may enjoy. “Of course a tourist from Kentucky or Rome is still going to be razzle-dazzled by the energy of Times Square,” Tompkins said. “The key thing is when one finds a place is legitimately occupied by locals then that validates it in the eyes of tourists.” When informed that a New Yorkerfriendly vision for Times Square is in the offing, Kelly said she would be more encouraged to visit the hectic area if there were art installations or live events, even if she felt they would attract more tourism. In terms of welcoming more residents, the Upper East Sider suggested fewer chain restaurants and more local restaurants doing their own unique events. CB5’s Parks and Public Spaces Committee offered initial notes to Tompkins advising him to keep in mind the bicycle traffic that goes through the area and also consider carefully the layout of where the food kiosks would be. “It’s rare we get to indulge in just being constructive and visionary,” Clayton Smith, CB5’s parks committee chair said. “It’s nice to be able to just talk about the vision for the spaces.” The alliance’s ideas are still rough and are expected to take on a more specific form after its April 24 annual public meeting (for details visit timessquarenyc.org). The group is currently in continuing conversations with CB5, the DOT, and the NYPD to better flesh out its vision of Times Square’s future.

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De Blasio, His Commissioners Queried Across the Board by West Siders BY DENNIS LYNCH

M

ayor Bill de Blasio answered dozens of questions from New Yorkers during two hours of Q&A at a West Side town hall on March 15. Anyone could ask the mayor whatever they wished, and the crowd who turned out at the Lab School for Collaborative Studies on West 17th Street pressed de Blasio on topics ranging from excessive honking to how the city will push back on President Donald Trump’s policies. Appearing with West Side City Councilmember Corey Johnson — with a brief appearance by Borough President Gale Brewer, as well — de Blasio also had commissioners and deputy commissioners from many of the city’s agencies on hand to answer specific questions. He often chose to defer to them. A nswer ing a question about “underfunding” at the city’s public schools, de Blasio said, “We need to fight harder” for state funding — though he voiced confidence that “we will hit 100 percent fair funding for every school by 2021.” Johnson followed him and said that “we have to turn the State Senate Democratic” if the city wants to better secure school funding, among other things. Cont rol of t he State Senate, which nominally has a one-vote Democratic majority even though defections continue to leave the chamber under Republican control, was an issue that Johnson and de Blasio returned to repeatedly. When asked broadly about the city “getting out from under the yoke of A lbany,” the mayor said the first thing he would do is “strengthen rent regulation.” Education issues came up several times during the town hall. A public schoolteacher asked de Blasio about ensuring that immigrant children feel safe in school. The mayor said that he and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have told parents and students “that they are respected

12

DENNIS LYNCH

Mayor Bill de Blasio fields a question while City Councilmember Corey Johnson (right), Borough President Gale Brewer (to right of mayor), and former State Senator Tom Duane (next to Brewer) look on.

and protected regardless of their origins, regardless of their immigration status, and that when they come to their school they are in someplace safe and that no information will ever be shared with the federal authorities.” On a broader question regarding New York’s sanctuary policies, the mayor said the city would provide legal assistance to individuals who are wrongly threatened with deportation. One school parent asked de Blasio if he was doing anything to decrease school size and to counter policies hurting public schools that many expect out of Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos. “We’re never going to go to vouchers,” de Blasio said, speaking of publicly funded grants for students to attend private schools. He added that budget issues, a growing population, and severe overcrowding elsewhere in the city “does not allow us to do as much as we want to on class size.” One woman in the crowd asked about helping small businesses stay alive in the face of skyrocketing rents. Johnson said com-

mercial rent regulation, which has been proposed in the city for years via the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, can’t happen without Albany’s support. “It’s never goi ng to happen, because of Albany,” he said. “Let’s turn the State Senate Democratic and then talk about all the wonderful things we want to do in the world.” Manhattanites may be dismayed to learn de Blasio “is not there yet” on congestion pricing, a scheme that would impose costs on drivers entering Midtown and Downtown. He’s not convinced it’s the right approach to tackling traffic congestion; nor is he confident it could be approved in Albany. Miguel Acevedo, a tenant leader, charged the city had failed to carry out a city-community agreement to help minority and women-owned business enterprises open in Hudson Yards. The mayor responded by speaking broadly about the city’s efforts on that front, saying, “We are constantly pushing the private sector to commit resources to women- and minority-owned businesses.”

He then handed the issue off to Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services, who said his agency is working to organize job fairs for jobs at Hudson Yards and is making sure that Related Companies, which developed the area, is “aware of the companies certified with us for future opportunities” there. Many locals pushed de Blasio about land use. Community Board 4 Clinton / Hell’s Kitchen Land Use chair Jean-Daniel Noland asked the mayor for help in bringing affordable housing to the district and got some good news about two sites in the district. The city has worked out “ver y close” to 100 percent affordable housing at the Slaughterhouse Site on 11th Avenue at West 39th Street and will soon designate a developer. Molly Park, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, added that her department would issue a request for proposals regard-

 DE BLASIO TOWN HALL, continued on p.13

March 23 – April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


 CLUTTER, from p.5 units, with details to be released soon. The council has also been at work cleaning up sidewalks in Midtown. “We’re just going to clear the trash in the streets — the excess trash,” Mudd said. “The derelict bikes, the bikes that have been chained to either the fence or the signposts for a long time. Try to make the neighborhood look a little bit nicer.” Sinigalliano, however, noted, “Some of the stuff has been there a long time, but we can’t truly

call it derelict. If it has value we can’t just throw it out, it has to be vouchered.” At the last cleanup operation on February 24, the council put up signs warning people not to attach things to city property, Mudd said. The council is also promoting the Department of Sanitation’s “Adopt-a-Basket” program, Sinigalliano said. “It’s a very simple program and ver y ingenious,” he explained. “Basically, Sanitation can’t empty the baskets as fast as some baskets in very busy areas fill up. So rather than overf lowing all over

our streets and creating a hazard, businesses agree to adopt a basket.” Sanitation provides bags to the businesses, so they can take care of changing out the bag when the basket is at capacity. NYPD Midtown South Inspector Russell Green also appeared before the council and said that 85 percent of the crimes his precinct deals with are grand larcenies and robberies. Theft often occurs when property is left unattended, he said, and the Manhattan district attorney’s office will soon launch a ca mpa ign to remind people to “Watch Your Stuff.”

“The inspector mentioned it earlier in his report that grand larceny is a huge problem and he’s absolutely right,” said Edgar Yu of the DA’s office. “It’s not a problem just in Midtown South but, in fact, accounts for 70 percent of the indexed crimes south of 59th. All 10 precincts south of 59th Street, grand larceny continues to be a huge problem.” Yu said the office has designed a “multi-faceted campaign and socia l media st rateg y” to help address the issue. “ T he rea l it y is, t h is c a n be prevented,” he said, touting the “Watch Your Stuff” initiative.

 DE BLASIO TOWN HALL, from p.12 ing two affordable sites at Hudson Yards in the late spring or early summer. R ick Cha ndler, the commissioner of the Department of Buildings, was put on the hot seat late in the town hall when asked about bad actor landlords who misrepresent the status of their buildings to obtain demolition permits to scare off rent-regulated tenants — action that in some cases can be a felony. Many West Siders believe the DOB has failed to properly enforce its own rules. Chandler said he would “love nothing more than to get an owner on a felony if I could,” and that he was working to remedy loopholes in DOB permit applications that allow landlords to misrepresent their buildings. De Blasio added that his administration was hiring more inspectors to help enforce the rules that exist. The new president’s budget proposal also came up during the town hall, though de Blasio and others were quick to point out that what Trump has so far laid out is lacking in specifics. One woman — noting that Trump wants to slash the $ 8.1 billion budget of t he Env ironmenta l P rotect ion Agency by $2.4 billion, or more than 25 percent — asked whether the city’s Department of Environmental Protection could step up in the absence of necessary federal action. “We cannot do everything the EPA does, I think that’s the sad truth,” de Blasio responded. “We

 DE BLASIO TOWN HALL, continued on p.18 ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 – April 5, 2017

13


 REZONING, from p.4 ing, voicing similar concerns about shadows a nd t he uncer t a i nt y about open space amenities. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Community Board Fiveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s core objective throughout the process was to ensure that the Greater East Midtow n pla n ning effor t resulted in an improvement to the public realm,â&#x20AC;? the boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resolution read. CB5 rejected the proposal unless the DCP can ensure that there there will be a public space created for each development that uses landmarksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; rights to increase its density. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re quite disappointed with the proposal that has come out, and while there are some positive aspects to what has been put forward, there are really no tangible improvements to the public realm,â&#x20AC;? said CB5â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Land Use, Housing, and Zoning Committee Chair Eric Stern before the vote. CB5 also recommended that the Public Realm Improvement Fund â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which is currently slated to yield a portion of all landmark rights sales, calculated by whichever is the greater of 20 percent of a total

MICHAEL SHIREY

The Central Synagogue on Lexington Avenue is one of the landmarked buildings that would be eligible to sell unused development rights under the proposed Midtown East rezoning.

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on the same formula approach. The boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resolution also recommended that the governing group being established to manage the public realm improvement fund â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to include five mayoral appointees among its nine members â&#x20AC;&#x201D; require si x affirmative votes to approve projects, so that it wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t become a channel for the mayor to have their improvement ideas rubberstamped. As part of their resolutions, both boards indicated that should either the DCP or the mayorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office guarantee that every redevelopment site would be required to include an outdoor public space or a covered pedestrian walkway, their conditional denials would become conditional approvals, subject to other concerns. Just before the March 16 Borough Board meeting, the two community boards were presented with at least one commitment from city officials aimed at alleviating their concerns. According to Jim Caras, the borough presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s general counsel and director of land use, the city agreed to include in the environmental impact statement a requirement for indoor and outdoor privately-owned public spaces, or POPS, for projects built on lots that are 40,000 square feet or larger. For a square lot, that would mean

dimensions of 200 by 200 feet. Vi k k i Ba rbero, CB5â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cha i r, said that addition to the Borough Boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resolution would make a â&#x20AC;&#x153;difference in a vote, but not necessarily a yes vote because we still have some real problems and issues we brought to the forefront.â&#x20AC;? Barberoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s neighboring districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chair, R icha rd Eggers of CB6, of fered si m i la r t houg hts t hat acknowledged the concession, but he added he felt â&#x20AC;&#x153;rushedâ&#x20AC;? and was still not fully on board with the plan. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This resolution has captured many of the concerns CB6 has raised, takes the whole discussion further, and makes a more cogent presentation for the purposes of future conversations at the various levels throughout the ULURP procedure,â&#x20AC;? Eggers said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We expect all the issues raised in our resolution [and] the CB5 resolution to be fully addressed as the proposal goes forward.â&#x20AC;? Eggers added that in abstaining he â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and his board â&#x20AC;&#x201D; didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to get in the way of the proposalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s progress, though he couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t bring himself to vote yes at this time. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was hell-bent on voting no,â&#x20AC;? Ba rbero sa id at t he B oroug h Board. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The reason Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m abstaining, both [Eggers] and I recognize that there has been movement on thisâ&#x20AC;Ś I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to sound that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re being ungrateful. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re feeling so pressured by this, we really would love to vote yes, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got full boards behind us with unanimous votes.â&#x20AC;? With the community board and Borough Board votes, the proposal moves one step closer to being realized, with the matter now going before Brewer for review, and then on to the City Planning Commission and ultimately the City Council. Joe Marvilli, a spokesperson for the DCP, stressed, though, that the plan is still early in the review process and that the City Planning Commission would carefully weigh the recommendations from the community boards, the Borough Board, Brewer, and public testimony in its deliberations. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In response to the communityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clearly stated priorities, the rezoning will deliver transit upgrades and public realm improvements concurrent with new development,â&#x20AC;? Marvilli said in a statement. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We appreciate and welcome the additional input.â&#x20AC;?

March 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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information?’ ” the doctor said. But younger people, he believes, are more comfortable handling and assessing information. And frankly, they’re the ones doing the reproducing. So his company is developing a rubric of when and what information to share. The questions that must be answered before passing on any info are:

BY LENORE SKENAZY

JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

C

ongratulations, you’re going to have a baby! Would you like to know if, 50 years or so down the line, he or she might develop colon cancer? And by the way, the baby may also have a slightly increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Would you like to know about that, too? Oh, and how about the odds of acne? Aieee! These are not the questions any of us have ever had to answer — ‘til now. Thanks to an ever-expanding arsenal of genetic testing, sometimes at birth, sometimes in utero, and sometimes even before the baby is conceived (that is, by testing the potential parents for genetic abnormalities), new dilemmas are headed to a pregnancy near you. The genetic tests being developed today are “revolutionizing what we can know about babies, and how we perceive and treat and prevent disease,” said Bonnie Rochman, a former health reporter at Time magazine and author of the new book “The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids — and the Kids We Have.” Back in 1971, when Bonnie was an embryo, all her mom knew was that a baby was going to appear in about nine months. No one could test the gender, much less any genetic anomalies. But today, I have two sons who were tested back when they were eight-cell embryos for a genetic mutation they had a 50 percent chance of inheriting: Marfan syndrome. It is a disease my husband has, which can cause things like blindness and heart trouble. Thanks to Yale geneticist Dr. Petros Tsipouras, who located the gene and then figured out how to test for it even while our kids were still in test tubes, we “engineered” the Marfan syndrome out of them. This was not an easy or cheap process, but we are very grateful for the results — our Marfan’s-free sons. But today, 20 years later, genetic testing is even more widely available, for far more issues, and it is this expanding universe that Rochman dives into.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN / FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX

“How much information do we want to know?” asked Rochman. That’s the heart of the matter. We already routinely test babies for certain diseases, “some of which may quickly prove fatal if not detected,” she said. Early detection leads to early intervention, and “there’s little question that newborn screening has saved countless lives.” But now, if a new test shows that a baby has a slightly elevated chance of developing, say, schizophrenia, is that something parents would want to be aware of? Or would it simply make them worried? One mom Rochman interviewed in her book had a prenatal test where the doctor announced he’d found something abnormal, but added, “We don’t know what it’s going to mean.” So the woman had new information — something was “off” — but no clue how seriously it would affect her child’s life. “This is going to happen more and more,” explained Rochman, as science develops tests “so sensitive they can uncover information no one fully understands.” That is precisely the issue Tsipouras, our geneticist, is working on now, as the head of a new company called Plumcare. The company will be sequencing newborns’ genomes, but he realizes a full-blown report is not something everyone is ready for. “My mother would say, ‘Don’t interfere with God’s plan.’ My wife would say, ‘What can I do with this

• Is this information relevant to you, specifically? For instance, if a baby has a genetic variation, but it is one shared by his completely healthy dad, uncle, and grandpa, it probably won’t have any ill effects. • What are the odds? If seven out of 10 people with this genetic variation get seriously ill by age five, that’s quite different from nine out of 10 living to a ripe old age. The odds must be taken into account. • When and how will this change affect the child? Is it in 10 years — or 70? Will it pack a wallop or is it often mild? The idea is not to freak parents out. It is to alert them to problems before they occur rather than only being able to react to them once they appear. Medically, it means we’re moving from curing diseases to prevention via prediction. “When we talk about the info tech revolution, this is the next stage,” Rochman said, using deep data to understand and change our DNA destiny. “And,’ she added, “we’re only at the beginning.” Lenore Skenazy is the author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids” and a contributor at Reason.com.

THE GENE MACHINE: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids — and the Kids We Have By Bonnie Rochman Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux $26; 288 pages

March 23 – April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Police Blotter HOMICIDE: STABBED STEPS AWAY FROM POLICE (Midtown South Precinct) Police announced James Jackson, a 28-yearold Baltimore man, surrendered on March 22 in the fatal stabbing of a 66-year-old man at around 11:30 p.m. on March 20. WCBS News quoted William Aubry, the chief of Manhattan detectives saying, â&#x20AC;&#x153;His intentions were to come here to harm male blacks.â&#x20AC;? According to police, the victim was stabbed multiple times following a dispute outside of 462 Ninth Avenue, between West 35th and 36th Streets. The victim then walked around the corner to the Midtown South Precinct at 357 West 35th Street, where police found him with stab wounds on his chest and back. The man was taken by EMS to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

ASSAULT: BRAZEN YOUNG TURK (19th Precinct) On March 8, police arrested Breonna Turk, a 24-year-old Upper East Side woman, for assaulting a 71-year-old woman inside the 86th Street station for the Q train (manhattanexpressnews. nyc/police-blotter-march-8-2017). Police said that on March 6, Turk and the victim got into an argument before the suspect pushed and then punched the victim in the stationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s elevator.

PETIT LARCENY: THE FINAL HOTEL HEIST (Midtown North Precinct) Police arrested Brian Kromer, a 27-year-old resident of Stuyvesant Town, on March 9 for nabbing a dedication plaque from the Waldorf Astoria Clock in the hotel at 301 Park Avenue, between East 49th and 50th Streets. Police said that on February 28 at around 1 a.m., Kromer was able to lift the personal souvenir, just hours before the famed hotel was due to close for renovation. After Kromer grabbed the plaque from the hotel lobby, he escaped and joined two women he was with in hailing a yellow taxi as their getaway vehicle, police said. Kromer is charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

BANK ROBBERY: A BOLD BANK ROBBER (Midtown South Precinct) A man is wanted for a brash bank robbery of a Chase Bank where he demanded money by banging on the teller window, police said. On March 11 at around 2:30 p.m., the man stepped into the Chase Bank at 615 Fifth Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets, according to police. The suspect was able to make off with an undetermined amount of money as the teller complied, police said. Police released a photo of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male in his 40s with curly hair, weighing around 150 pounds, and last seen wearing a dark jacket and a knitted hat.

WONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T YOU JOIN US?

DOA: TEEN TRAGEDY (19th Precinct) Takashi Tamiguchi, a 15-year-old boy, was found dead in his apartment at 164 East 85th Street on March 14 at around 9:15 p.m., police said. According to police, his mother discovered Tamiguchi in his room face down in a sleeping bag underneath an air mattress. Police said there were no signs of trauma. The medical examiner is working to determine the cause of the death and police said the investigation is ongoing.

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FORGERY: SOLO SKIMMER (19th Precinct) Police are looking for a man who put a credit card skimming device onto an ATM inside a Capital One Bank at 991 Third Avenue, between East 59th and 60th Streets. According to police, the device was installed on February 23 at around 8:15 p.m. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a white male, between 20 and 30 years old, and last seen wearing a dark hat and dark jacket.

FORGERY: DEPLORABLE DUO (17th Precinct) Two men are wanted for installing a credit card skimmer and camera unit onto an ATM inside 833 Second Avenue between East 44th and 45th Streets on February 6 at around 10 a.m. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as both white males, between 20 and 30 years old, and both wearing a dark hat and dark jacket, with one wearing blue jeans and the other, dark pants.

LOCAL POLICE CONTACTS Midtown North Precinct 306 West 54th Street 212-767-8400

This yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s honorees include: Governor David Paterson

Anthony Nicodemo

Ana MarĂ­a Archila & Andrea Batista Schlesinger

Eunic Ortiz Leo Preziosi, Jr.

Christopher Bram

Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Lisa Cannistraci

Manny Rivera

Staceyann Chin

Doug Robinson

JD Davids

Therese Rodriguez

AndrĂŠs Duque

Allen Roskoff

Bryan John Ellicott

Robyn Streisand

Ashley C. Ford Suzanne Goldberg

Christopher Tepper & Paul Kelterborn

Oriol R. Gutierrez

Jennifer Flynn Walker

Bishop Zachary Glenn Jones

Jillian Weiss

Howie Katz

Edie Windsor

Terrance Knox

Mel Wymore

Donna Lieberman

Emanuel Xavier

Carmen Neely >`SaS\bSRPg(

List in formation

Midtown South Precinct 357 West 35th Street 212-239-9811

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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 Complete list at manhattanexpressnews.nyc.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; April 5, 2017

Post your congratulations message in the special keepsake issue proďŹ ling the honorees on March 30, 2017 A portion of proceeds will be donated to not for proďŹ t local LGBT and community organizations

Contact Amanda Tarley For More Information: 718-260-8340 | amanda@gaycitynews.com

gaycitynews.nyc 17


Lacking Local Funding, Doe Fund Suspends UWS, UES Service BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he Doe Fund, known for its men in royal blue uniforms that keep streets clean, launched a fundraising campaign last week in hopes of restoring street sweeping service to the Upper East and Upper West Sides. Doe Fund employees typically patrol a route where they sweep streets, pick up litter, and perform general upkeep. Many areas ser ved by the non-profit organization’s employees — most of whom come from a background of homelessness, drug use, or former incarceration — are funded by partnerships with area elected officials and neighborhood organizations to offer the workers minimum wage. Those who worked on the Upper East and Upper West Sides had their salaries covered by the Doe Fund directly. Due to rising costs a nd ex pected wage increases, however, the organization had to cut the street sweeping services offered in those areas. There are still Doe Fund-labeled trash cans that are looked after, but t he men i n blue “pushi ng the buckets” are no longer present in the routes that fall roughly between West End Avenue and First Avenue from the 50s to the 90s. According to the Doe Fund’s chief of staff, Alexander Horwitz, the service cutbacks were phased in beginning this year. The roughly 70 full-time positions have been displaced to areas where local funding is available. The DOE is looking at a significant rise in expenses when the minimum wage, which rose to $11 as of the new year, increases again to $13 by the end of 2017 and to $15 by the end of 2018.

 DE BLASIO TOWN HALL, from p.13 can use all our powers and work with the state… If we see there is some gap, we can legally act on.” De Blasio said he would fight federal cuts at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to stave off devastating reductions in the budget of the New York City

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SHAHAR AZRAN/ DOE FUND

A Doe Fund worker on Park Avenue.

“Those costs for us are incredibly enormous, so what we’ve been forced to do is suspend our free services and focus on the paying work we get and placing trainees in those more funded routes,” Hor w it z sa id. “ T hat’s why we launched this fundraising campaign, so that we can restore service in these areas we’ve been in for 25 years.” He explained there is no exact funding goal, as the group will continue to add back service one job at a time as donations come in. If the group is able to restore all 70 full-time positions staffed, a ny ex t ra money would go toward hiring more employees. An organization or local elected official could step up to provide the funding, but Hor w itz said, “We haven’t been able to identify a large-scale person to make this happen.” Noting that East 86th Street was one of the Doe Fund’s first routes, Horwitz said, “For the guys

who have been a part of this from almost the very beginning, going w ithout ser v ices on the Upper East Side is pretty sad.” Craig Trotta, who’s been with the organization since November 1997, said the program was a win-win for the community and those looking for an opportunity to turn their lives around. Trotta, a Queens resident, began using drugs at 17, wandered in and out of jails, and landed as a homeless person in East New York. But a chance encounter with a former counselor at a support group made him aware of the Doe Fund’s work. Trotta, like everyone else, started as a street sweeper for several months with an assigned route of Lexington Avenue between East 66th and 77th Streets. “At f i rst, I wasn’t too happy about it, but then I got used to it,” he recalled. “While pushing the bucket, it gave me some selfesteem back, letting somebody

who never really worked before work. I was able to be responsible and it gave me back some peace of mind.” He’s since moved on to become the Doe Fund’s senior director of community improvement projects, where he spends 12-hour days overseeing operations and serving as a role model for other trainees. “November, I’ll be working here 20 years, and I didn’t forget where I came from, who I was, and where I could’ve been if the Doe Fund didn’t take me when they did,” Trotta said. When asked about the impact of losing Doe Fund ser vices in a broad swath of Ma nhatta n, he said it would be two-fold: “It impacts helping a lot more men like myself to become productive members of society. And I think it hurts the residents and businesses in the neighborhood, not having the men in blue out there sweeping their streets and being ambassadors.”

Housing Authority, which maintains the nation’s largest public housing program. Early in the town hall, the mayor plugged his plan to consolidate homeless shelter beds from hundreds of hotels and apartments into 90 city-designated shelters, but no one asked him about that plan. Johnson is a co-sponsor of

legislation that seems at odds with the de Blasio plan that would site shelters in the communities from which people enter the shelter system. Proponents of the Council alternative argue their proposal would spread shelters more “equitably” across the city. De Blasio also advocated for his

“mansion tax” — a 2.5 percent tax on the sale of homes $2 million or higher. The city’s Office of Management and Budget estimates it could net $336 million in the fiscal years 2018, according to the New York Post. That tax would come on top of a 1 percent tax levied by the state since the late 1980s on home sales of $1 million or more.

March 23 – April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


ADVERTORIAL

TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 – April 5, 2017

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

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.

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Away With Escapism:

Whitney Biennial 2017 BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN

M

arking its first installment in the museum’s new home in the Meatpacking District, the Whitney Biennial is as comprehensive as it is eclectic. Curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, both in their mid-30s, it ref lects the result of several months of research and studio visits. There are 63 participants in total and many more works on display, spanning two entire floors and reaching into several others. Although the Whitney Biennials have always aimed to present a cross-section of current American art — and trends — this year’s 78th edition certainly counts among its darkest. You will find little art about art, or purely conceptual positions. We live in a world filled with explosive issues. Coming at a time rife with racial tensions, economic inequities, and extremist politics, this Biennia l was not conceived to divert our gaze or offer any sense of escapism. Instead, it aims to address vital issues at hand and, as a result, serves as a stunning reminder that visual art can count among the most poignant reflections of our era’s pulse. In fact, art thrives when times are challenging. A good way to tour t he vast assemblage of objects, installations, and thoughts is from the top down. As soon as visitors step off the elevator on the sixth floor, they will be facing Henry Taylor’s almost mural-sized canvas “Ancestors of Genghis Khan with Black Man on Horse” (2015-2017). Painting large comfortably, Los Angeles-based Taylor is known for his innovative exploration of portraiture. He is an avid chronicler of the world he observes, primarily his immedi-

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ARTIST’S COLLECTION, COURTESY OF GALERIE BARBARA THUMM, BERLIN/ PHOTO BY GERT JAN VAN ROOIJ

Jo Baer’s “Dusk (Bands and End-Points)” (2012), oil on canvas, 86 5/8 x 118 1/8 ins.

ate surroundings. His figures, set against simplified backgrounds, point at increasingly visible racial tensions, especially between law enforcement and communities they serve. They are both poetic and to the point. Nearby, several more of Taylor’s works can be viewed, counting among the best this Biennial has to offer. Turning 180 degrees, one will find three small sculptural works by New Mexico-based artist Puppies Puppies. Upon closer inspection, one can recognize each as a gun trigger, albeit stripped of most of its context. These works belong to the artist’s “Triggers” series, wh ich focuses on t he mechanism that prompts a gun’s firing sequence. Here, each piece marks the leftover remains of a Glock 22 destroyed at the artist’s request. While drawing attention to the ongoing misery of gun violence in America, these works also come

from a personal place. Wall text informs the viewer that the artist’s mother was held at gunpoint in a school parking lot when he was 11 years old. Throughout the museum, sculptures by Jessi Reaves can be discovered. Merging found objects such as baskets, electrical wiring, and a vinyl purse with natural materials like driftwood, she creates unusual concoctions that hint at the former functionality of their ingredients. Her sculptures range from complex to rather simplistic. An example of the latter is “Herman’s Dress” (2017), for which she sheathed an Eames Herman Miller sofa in a translucent pink silk slipcover. The modernist piece of furniture takes on an unexpected disguise, as well as an air of both eroticism and kitsch. Also drawing on found objects, yet with an eye on abstraction, Kaari Upson turns stained paper

2017 WHITNEY BIENNIAL Whitney Museum of American Art 99 Gansevoort St., btwn. 10th Ave. & Washington St. Through Jun.11 (sixth fl. exhibit to Jul. 16) Sun.-Mon., Wed.-Thu., 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. $22 at whitney.org; $25 at the door $17/ $18 for students & seniors

towel rolls and upholstered furniture into lush sculptures. In the past, she has used a weathered sectional sofa that she left exposed in the driveway behind her Los A ngeles studio for a year. It is through the reorientation of such objects and the painting of their soft surfaces that Upson succeeds

 WHITNEY BIENNIAL, continued on p.21

March 23 – April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


 WHITNEY BIENNIAL, from p.20 in obscuring her source. In fact, her pigment-covered sculptures faintly evoke the work of some artists not exhibited here, such as the Glasgow-based Karla Black and the American John Chamberlain. Chamberlain’s sculptures, made of compressed automobile parts, seem like hard-edged and highly saturated counterparts to Upson’s gentler biomorphic forms. Like Black, Upson finds a way to bestow an air of the extraordinary on the ordinary. One of the largest installations by a single artist — or in this case, artist collective — comes in the form of KAYA’s “Serene” (2017). The sprawling display is made of 13 large works, both installed on walls and hanging freely from the ceiling. It is a number sparked by the artists’ muse, collaborator, and name-giver, Kaya Serene, a friend’s daughter, who was 13 when the collective started working together in 2010. As K AYA, Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers explore the intersection among sculpture, painting, installation, and performance. Involving an array of components such as hardware, synthetic leather, translucent supports, suede, tiles, and cast resin fragments, the works are as faceted as they are theatrical. While there are plenty of paintings to discover, most of them are figurative and some even illustrative in nature. Among these are a group of six un-stretched canvases by the formidable American artist Jo Baer, who has been based in Amsterdam for years. Born in 1929, Baer might be looking back at more than six decades of painting, and yet her work couldn’t look timelier. Begun in 2009, her series “In the Land of the Giants” is rooted in her research of the Hurlstone (Holed Stone), a prehistoric megalith in Count y L outh, Irela nd. Baer’s imagery, which spans from human and animal figures to references to paintings, was sourced from the Internet and composed with the help of digital media. The results are strange amalgams of visual information that confuse our traditional perception of space and time. Despite their far-reaching content, Baer’s paintings are far from cluttered; they are sparse, soft in palette, and elegantly conceived. Ot her exa mples of resona nt paintings are five large abstract

ARTIST’S COLLECTION, COURTESY OF COMPANY GALLERY, NEW YORK/ PHOTO BY MATTHEW CARASELLA

Raúl De Nieves’ “stained glass” “beginning & the end neither & the otherwise betwixt & between the end is the beginning & the end” (2016).

canvases by Carrie Moyer and six compositions by Shara Hughes, highlights in an otherwise disjointed fifth floor. Moyer’s compositions are abstract — and since the early 2000s, they have involved the use of small collages as a starting point. Meanwhile, Hughes’ exuberant landscapes stem from the imagination. In contrast to Moyer’s larger paintings, which envelop the viewer, Hughes’ works are of a medium scale and appear as windows or even portals into otherworldly landscapes. Their almost hallucinatory quality evokes the late watercolor landscapes of Charles Burchfield, which the Whitney featured in its old Breuer building in 2010. Hughes frequently begins a composition by altering the canvas’ surface by covering it in a glue-like substance or spray-painting its back. These first steps serve as a self-imposed challenge, to which the artist then has to respond. Overall, Hughes’ scenes are far from harmonious. Underneath these saturated colors remains the suggestion of something unhinged, if not post-apocalyptic. Hughes’ landscapes in particular make for an interesting segue to “A Very Long Line” (2016), a fourchannel digital video installation by Postcommodity. Filling an entire self-contained space, it focuses on the border between the US and Mexico, an emotionally and politically charged site for years, but even more so since the 2016 election. Filmed from a car window, the footage is projected along with an out-of-sync audio component. The result succeeds in disorienting the viewer, reflecting its premise that

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 – April 5, 2017

the border, which was predated by important indigenous trade and migration routes, is not fully known or truly understood. One of the most brutal experiences is offered by Jordan Wolfson’s “Real Violence” (2017). Employing virtual reality headsets, his high-definition video lasts no more than two and a half minutes, yet one will not leave quite the same. During that brief time period, we witness an act of unexplained and incredible violence as it unfolds on a sunny day in a Western city. A recording of Chanukah blessings, city traffic, and violence form the tangled soundtrack to the visuals. Due to the virtual reality headset, one can easily turn away from the scene and focus on trees or disengaged passersby instead. However, one can never escape the sound, which is as prominent as if one were to stand right in the middle of the event. In Wolfson’s film, we might be able to turn our back on the deadly assault of another human being, but we aren’t permitted to stop listening to it. It is a sickening exper ience, which leaves a lingering feeling that will get triggered — though less overtly — several more times. On the fifth f loor, the intimate Dana Schutz painting “Open Casket” (2016) depicts Emmett Till in his coffin (her monumental work “Elevator” from 2017 faces the fifth-f loor elevator). In 1955, the 14-year-old African American boy was accused of having flirted with a white woman and beaten and shot to death. When Till’s mother decided to have an open casket at his funeral, traces of the brutal

assault were made visible to all. Schutz’s work captures Till in his casket, reinterpreting his mutilations through thick layers of paint and a deep gash. This is hardly a graphic depiction of the subject, and yet Schutz succeeds in finding a form for a layered feeling. Even without reading the title and wall text, we sense there is something completely wrong, dark, and senseless before us. The abstract, geometric enamels by Ulrike Müller, focused on feminist and genderqueer concerns, serve as a reprieve. A member of the feminist genderqueer collective LT TR, she has used text, sculpture, weaving, video, performance, painting, and drawing in her work. Müller continuously explores the relationship between abstraction and the body. Employing geometrical figures and color surfaces, the compositions on display here exude an erotic and sexual quality. Certainly, the Biennial is filled with many more works to explore. Raúl De Nieves’ impressive sitespecific installation on the fifth f loor and John Divola’s photography series are among them. De Nieves covered six floor-to-ceiling windows with 18 “stained glass” panels, which he created w ith paper, wood, tape, beads, and acetate sheets. Divola captured discarded student paintings on the walls of abandoned buildings in Southern California. This most elaborate installment of the Whitney Biennial is impossible to take in during a single visit. And, the Whitney has given the online presentation much thought, as well, its website, perhaps for the first time, serving as a valuable resource for those who have seen the works in person and those who have not. This Biennial provides less of an overview of what is currently being made in American art than a compilation of excerpts of voices that deserve to be heard. This year there will be a less lively debate about the exhibition’s overall quality — usually a given as much anticipated as the event itself. Who will argue against a show that gives a forum to valuable criticisms? But if you are looking for a feel-good distraction in a time of anguish, contain yourself to the permanent collection on the Whitney’s upper floors.

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March 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


ON MARCH 17, EVERYBODY’S IRISH

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

J

ust a few days after late winter snow hobbled New York, a bright sunny day greeted the marchers and enthusiastic crowds that turned out for the March 17 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In a route that runs up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street, Emerald Society Pipes and Drums corps from both the police and fire departments, elected officials including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, countless high school and college marching bands, groups

representing each of Ireland’s counties, labor and fraternal groups, and equestrian teams celebrated Irish pride. For the second year in a row, an Irish LGBTQ group, the Lavender & Green Alliance, was able to participate. And in a sign of how quickly things can change — even after a protracted battle that lasted a quarter of a century — Tarlach MacNiallais, a longtime member of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization that began the fight to get into the parade, was part of this year’s formation committee. MacNiallais marched with his husband, Juan Nepomuceno.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 23 – April 5, 2017

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March 23 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; April 5, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc

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