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January 30th, 2009


by Joelle Panisch

Thanks to Rob Hollander for the heads up.

Ever since the economy has tanked, downtown activists have been especially fierce regarding housing issues. The ramifications of displacement are unquestionably dire and activists are doing everything they can to keep families in their homes. Recently, despite adverse efforts, the residents of 81 Bowery were evicted for unsafe conditions— a shallow reason, protestors believe, because it should fall on the landlord to institute repairs.

The CAAAV (Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) has been seeking jurisprudence to allow displaced tenants back into their homes, and to enact legislation that will make it policy to have landlords remedy safety violations rather then to evict tenants in the first place. According to the CAAAV, the group has asked the Department of Buildings and Commissioner Robert LiMandr to meet with them, but they have repeatedly been refused. Continue Reading »

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January 29th, 2009


by John Wegorzewski and Edward Callaghan

Councilwoman Anna Throne Holst and Town Justice Andrea Schiavoni.

While much of America watched with pleasure as President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama swirled around the dance floor at one of the 10 parties they would attend that night, several hundred revelers at The Southampton Inn’s Inaugural Ball cheered with enthusiasm and rattled noisemakers. It could just as easily have been a New Year’s Eve party for all the joy this traditionally Republican town took in laying aside partisan politics and coming together in celebration of the dawning of a new era.

Gordon Herr, himself the newly elected Chairman of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee and Grania and Tip Brolin, organizers of the gala along with Dede Gotthelf Moan, owner of the Southampton Inn, warmly greeted the almost 300 black tie and begowned partiers who braved the ice and sub-freezing temperatures to be part of a historic celebration. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Community | News | Politics | the Hamptons

January 27th, 2009


by John Coakley

Council Member John C. Liu introduced three pieces of anti-idling legislation yesterday. Two of the pieces strengthened existing laws, while Intro. 631-A, for which Liu is the prime sponsor, will reduce the legal idle time in front of a school from three minutes to one minute. Since one minute is an unrealistic amount of time to finish whatever one intends to do while leaving the car unattended, people would be more inclined to simply turn the car off, thus keeping the air cleaner and the sidewalks safer for our children. Last week’s tragic accident, in which an idling van killed two children because the driver mistakenly put it in reverse rather than park, is clearly the inspiration for this much needed change in our ways. We aren’t the most patient of drivers in this town, but it is clear that taking a little extra time to consider the consequences of our automotive actions is a good idea.

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January 27th, 2009


by Joelle Panisch

Spreading the word.

Members of the Transport Workers Union manned Metro stops in Brooklyn today, handing out flyers protesting service cuts in the MTA’s 2009 budget, warning that the lack of service will have dire effects on both riders and the economy.

This comes after months of debate and dread over how to manage the 2009 MTA budget with a reported deficit of close to $1.2 billion—hundreds of millions higher than projected in July.

In November the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Chief Executive, Elliot G. Sander, called the authority’s proposed budget “draconian,” and few would accuse him of being hyperbolic. In December, the MTA passed its “doomsday budget” by a vote of 13 to 1, which included both drastic fair hikes and service cuts. Continue Reading »

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January 27th, 2009


by John Coakley

Not bad for a public school.

The problem: Overcrowding in lower Manhattan schools.
The solution: Create two new schools—PS 276 in Battery Park City and the Spruce Street/Beekman School.
New problem: Schools take a long time to build.
Temporary solution: Fall classes in a National Hisoric Landmark.

That’s right, folks. Your kindergartener could start school at the magnificent Tweed Courthouse; that’s where the two new schools will be holding classes until their own buildings are ready to go. Assemblymember Sheldon Silver will be on hand to introduce Pre-K parents to the principals of the new schools, take them on a tour of the classrooms at Tweed, and answer any questions they may have. This kind of access is rare, so anyone with a downtown toddler starting school next fall is strongly encouraged to attend.

Open House for PS 276 + Spruce Street/Beekman School
Thursday, 1/29/9 @ 4:30pm
250 Broadway, 23rd Floor

Filed Under: Community | Events | New York | News

January 27th, 2009


by D. Clark MacPherson

Photo courtesy of Ann Warner Arlen.

Doris Diether, Downtown activist, zoning expert and political luminary, had a special birthday celebration at the Judson Memorial Church on January 10th. Rumors abound that it wasn’t just Jack Benny who reached the ripe old age of 39 in excellent health.

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January 18th, 2009


by Ed Gold

Dark horse Tony Avella.

More city Democrats will be seeking the unglamorous positions of Comptroller and Public Advocate than Mayor this year. The reason is fairly obvious. Democrats will fill the two non-mayoral offices. But standing in front of City Hall this fall will be Daddy Warbucks and his $60 million bankroll, his candidacy due to the dispensation granted him by the City Council.

As of this writing, only three Democrats appear ready to take on Modest Mike: Anthony Weiner, the congressman from Brooklyn and Queens; Bill Thompson, the current comptroller, and Tony Avella, a Queens councilman and a very dark horse.

Six candidates have shown interest in the Comptroller post but one of them, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., is reportedly slated for a role in the Obama Administration.

Meanwhile, seven candidates have indicated interest in filling the seat being vacated by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

The surprising interest in the lesser citywide positions may be related to an increase in public matching funds this year. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | New York | News | Politics

January 16th, 2009


by Denise Civiletti

Marty Tankleff.

Thank you to Denise and Times/Review Newspapers Corp. for giving us permission to reprint this article.

The notorious criminal case of Martin Tankleff, the Belle Terre teenager convicted in 1990 of murdering his parents early in the morning on Sept. 7, 1988, ended without real resolution last December, when the state attorney general announced he would not seek a new trial of Mr. Tankleff.

His conviction had been tossed out in 2007 by a state appellate court after nearly 20 years of maneuvering by a team of believers who never gave up hope that justice would be served.

But the attorney general’s investigation and report did not exonerate Tankleff. It simply found that while there was “some evidence” that the youth committed the crimes, it was too old to form the basis of a new prosecution.

Marty Tankleff won his freedom. But justice was not served. The killer or killers of Seymour and Arlene Tankleff walked away.

A recently released book about the investigation and prosecution of the Tankleff case portrays the Suffolk County criminal justice system—police, prosecutors and judges alike—as a corrupt good ol’ boys network far more interested in protecting each other’s hides than pursuing truth and justice. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | New York | News | the Hamptons

January 15th, 2009


by John Coakley

We are going to miss The Cheyenne. The closing of its doors last April was made bearable by the hope that it would be relocated to a different part of the city—it being a diner and thus portable and all. And indeed, plans surfaced to move it to Red Hook. Perfect! The soon to be empty lot on 33rd and 9th would be filled with condos, true, but part of New York’s history, a place where everyone from Jerry Lewis to David Letterman sat down for a cheeseburger at some point in time, would live on.

Problem is, those plans fell through when the diner proved too large to haul over the Manhattan Bridge, and transporting it by ferry proved too expensive. Meanwhile, the building has been empty for a long time now and, as we all know, we don’t have nearly enough empty or half-constructed luxury apartments in this town. So the estimable restaurant had to get moving.

Fortunately Michael Perlman, Chairman of Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner, was able to broker a deal with property owner George Papas and Joel Owens of Birmingham, AL. That’s right. Just like a City employee with a fat pension, the Cheyenne is heading down south to take things easy. It’s going to be transported via flatbed in 2 sections to Birmingham with the help of Rigger Mel Brandt of M&M Rigging, who moved the Moondance Diner to LaBarge, WY in August of 2007.

So the Cheyenne is in good hands, and it will continue to feed the hungry and the drunk, just like it did here for 68 years. All well and good. But it is going to be missed. At least the Market Diner on 43rd and 11th has re-opened. Go there, people; give them your business so we can keep these beauties in New York where they truly belong.

Filed Under: Commentary | Community | New York | News

January 12th, 2009


by John Coakley

Jonathan Pollard has already served twenty years too many.

Twenty-four years ago Jonathan Pollard was indicted on one count of passing classified information to an ally (Israel), without intent to harm the United States. The usual sentence for such a crime is 2-4 years. Neither the American or Israeli governments wanted to get involved in a long trial, so a plea bargain was offered and accepted. The problem is that Pollard is still in jail; he was sentenced to life with no hope of parole. Everyone from Rabbis to former heads of the NAACP to Senators who were made aware of the content of the classified information have come out to support Pollard’s being freed, to no avail.

Now it’s up to you. The last weeks of a presidency are traditionally pardoning season, and as these last few days pass we’ll no doubt see a long list of greedy white collar criminals go free. To be fair, Clinton did the exact same thing, so we can’t blame Bush too harshly for that. Still, you would think that our soon-to-be-ex-president would appreciate the opportunity to strengthen his legacy before he goes. This would certainly be a good start. You can help by calling, writing or faxing the White House; you can also sign this petition. Telling all of your friends about this matter certainly wouldn’t hurt either. Opportunities to help correct travesties of justice are rare. We should all take advantage of them when they arise.

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January 8th, 2009


by John Coakley

Thanks to 9/11 Environmental Action for the heads up.

There will be a hearing tomorrow on the decontamination and deconstruction of the Deutsche Bank building. Anyone with an interest in the machinations of civic politics is encouraged to attend, particularly if you’re curious about whether or not we’ve learned anything from cleaning up the World Trade Center site. Call in sick and go.

Lower Manhattan Redevelopment, Alan J. Gerson, Chair
Friday, January 9, 10:00 AM
Council Chambers – City Hall

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January 2nd, 2009


by John Coakley

Jodie Lane: electrocuted by stray voltage in 2004.

It’s always a pleasure when readers make use of our search function and look over past articles. For example, Blair Sorrel, the founder of, recently wrote in to praise us for a 2007 piece on stray voltage and its effects on both people and dogs. She wanted to point out that dog booties can actually be more of a hazard than a form of protection if they become waterlogged; Blair has met with ConEdison’s Stray Voltage unit and was the first non-electrical representative to be invited to the Jodie Lane National Conference, so we think she knows what she’s talking about. New York City has over 94,000 miles of electrical cable pulsing beneath the surface, so take a look at her site and get informed.

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December 29th, 2008


by Ed Gold

Sen John Ensign: Not a fan of stronger unions.

A tough, highly partisan battle is shaping up in the new Congress to determine whether labor unions can make a real comeback following the 2008 elections.

The struggle will be over the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), backed by labor and considered the death knell of the Republic by those who hate the union movement.

During the recent Senate debate on the auto industry bailout, the anti-union sentiment among Republicans, particularly those from states with non-union foreign auto plants, became conspicuously pronounced. A majority of Republicans would not support the bailout unless UAW workers would agree to accept wage levels which exist at non-union auto plants.

Unions, which have been on the skids in the U.S since the mid-fifties, believe the Free Choice Act would go a long way towards helping unions organize and win bargaining rights. The Republicans feel the same way about EFCA, given their vehemence against it.

John McCain calls the act a “threat to democracy.”

The Wall Street Journal says it’s “unconstitutional.”

Sen John Ensign of Nebraska calls it “the most heinous piece of legislation in history.”

So what would the EFCA do? Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | New York | News | Politics

December 25th, 2008


by John Coakley

A stable economy wouldn’t hurt either.

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | Events | New York | News | Politics | Take Action | the Hamptons

December 23rd, 2008


by D. Clark MacPherson

Henry Paulson: A good man to know if you happen to own a bank.

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
— George Bernard Shaw

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
— Aesop

As the Hamptons economy burns, the Southampton Town Board fiddles, the real estate industry implodes, Suffolk County D.A., Tom Spota arrests people. It’s not bad enough that Henry Paulson is saving his buddies at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley—by dishing out billions from under the TARP to cover them for the losses that they created by handing out mortgages to anyone breathing—now Spota’s Economic Crimes unit is busy trying to criminalize the people who accepted the largesse. The bogus paper known facetiously as CDO’s and SVI’s—debts that were bundled into securities by thirty year olds pulling down $5 million dollar a year bonuses at Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns. One thirty year old from Merrill Lynch recently commented that he left the company with $20 million in cash and his only heartburn comes from trying to figure out how not to pay taxes on it.

You think he has a mortgage to worry about? Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | New York | News | Politics | the Hamptons

December 22nd, 2008


by Ed Gold

Rick Warren: Better than the average pro-life, creationist, homophobic Evangelist.

There are a substantial number of reasons why liberals as well as the entire LGBT community might be upset by the selection of Evangelist Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s Inaugural.

But those of us who cheered Obama’s victory had better get used to his nuanced concept of diversity, even when it proves exasperating at times.

Let’s not fudge the issue. Warren, who runs the fourth largest church in the nation, goes against the liberal grain in many ways:

*He of course opposes abortion, arguing that life begins at conception and that ending that life is unacceptable.

*He has compared gay marriage to incest and polygamy (although he has recently modified that comparison) and sees gayness as unnatural and not a human right.

*He favors creationism over evolution.

*He puts great limits on stem cell research.

So how could Obama give such a person a featured symbolic spot at his inauguration? Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | New York | News | Politics

December 19th, 2008


by Ed Gold

Caroline in her younger days.

The Kennedy dynasty continues to bewilder and dazzle. The three most famous, Jack, Bobby and Teddy, were all transformed by politics and all three emerged as inspirational leaders-unexpected, considering their early history.

Now we have a new family surprise with Caroline. Considered bookish and shy, she stayed conspicuously out of the limelight for almost all of her adult life. This daughter of Jack, niece of Bobby and Teddy, is emerging from the shadows of a mostly private life, seeking to replace a political icon, Hillary Clinton.

We have never had a family like the Kennedys and it is difficult to imagine another American family with similar impact.

Like all the Kennedy achievers, Caroline begins with a very thin resume, considering that she seeks the seat occupied most successfully by a superior political animal who now moves on as Secretary of State. Very big shoes to fill. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | New York | News | Politics

December 17th, 2008


by Sean Jaeger

The Great Wall Street Panic of 2008 should have taught us all some very valuable lessons. Lesson number one should be to forget about all those people on Wall Street and in Washington, on television, and in the newspapers telling us everything is going to be all right and we should just hold on tight.

Just who do you think was selling all those stocks flushing the Dow Jones average down the toilet to levels not seen in years? That’s right, the very same people telling us not to panic. The rats don’t want us to panic because they want to get off the sinking ship first.

The lesson is, don’t just stand there; panic. Panic first, panic fast and panic often.

Simply put, the guy who panics first gets a lot of cash to put in the mattress where he or she can save it until the storm passes over so he can buy a lot of bargains. In other words he sells near the top so he can buy near the bottom. Call this guy your broker, your hedge fund manager, or your financial advisor. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | News | Politics | the Hamptons

December 17th, 2008


by Jack Torrance

Andrea Schiavoni and Sally Pope.

By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell — and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.
–Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

What most people don’t realize about the Hamptons is that it was one of the few locations that voted for Herbert Hoover. Residents of Villages and Towns, which are now Republican bastions, were busy wringing their hands over the incursion made by candidates who they perceived as riding Obama’s coattails to victory. Stealing the Obama signs apparently didn’t work. Of course, the faulty logic in that mind game is that African- Americans or Latinos are not supposed to win anywhere. But, Sally Pope, a Democratic candidate for Town Board in Southampton Town, edged out a hand-picked Republican. Linda Kabot selected Dan Russo, on the instructions of the Republican Party after a real Primary, which ejected Skip Heaney as Supervisor last year.

Although Anna Throne-Holst is a Democrat, holding hands with Russo was more than a romantic problem. The supposed changes after Throne-Holst became the lone Democrat amounted to little more than misinformed press pieces given to that stellar media source and a misguided attempt at a “Green Law,” which was just another route for the Code Enforcement Police to get into your bedroom to check for illegal immigrants. Most of what Code Enforcement does is geared towards investigating people rather than correcting problems. If that were not the case, there would be a system in place to notify owners of problems needing to be corrected. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | News | Politics | the Hamptons

December 16th, 2008


by Joelle Panisch

The Specific (And Shameful) Subprime Loan Crisis in NYC Housing and the Looming Inevitability That Buildings Will Default.

Before 2006, ‘tenant harassment’ was not part of the common vernacular. Maybe landlord A disliked tenant B. The landlord gave the tenant a hard time; the tenant felt harassed, drank a few beers and moved. But since 2006 there has been a massive pervasion of physical, legal, and psychological harassment amongst low-income and rent stabilized households. How odd. Did landlords A, B, and C all get together, grease their mustaches and come up with a devious plan to oust their tenants, or is the shift indicative of a larger presiding force?

In May of 2008 the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) released a study about the surge in tenant harassment and the subsequent loss of rent stabilized apartments. The report found that the spike coincided directly with an increase in developers backed by private equity investors. These investors were banking on the uncertain prospect that they could illegally evict tenants to convert buildings to market rate, and high mortgages reflected this hope. Sound familiar? Perhaps like a certain economic crisis fueled by greed, the despicable exploitation of average citizens and disregard for the laws of accounting that resulted in poisonous securitization? In a follow up report released in October the ANHD found that the investment in subsidized housing made by these “predatory equity” firms (as they were dubbed) is just New York’s version of “ninja lending” and 60% will probably result in likewise defaults. It turns out New Yorkers and Joe Plumber-Six-Pack have more in common than they realized. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Community | New York | News | Politics

December 14th, 2008


by Ed Gold

Yes, we did!

We changed the face of America on Nov. 4th, both literally and figuratively. When they play “Hail to the Chief” on Jan. 20th a tall, lanky black man will take center stage for all the world to see.

Ridiculed by the Republicans as a “community organizer,” Barack Obama put together the most expensive, technically advanced, best organized campaign for the Presidency in the nation’s his- tory.

He eradicated the red state myth, capturing the heart of the Confederacy, key pieces of the hard conservative Midwest and chunks of the rugged frontier Far West.

Virginia and North Carolina fell, along with Ohio, Indiana and Iowa, followed by New Mex- ico, Colorado and Nevada. And, of course, he took Florida, despite the robocalls that told Floridians he was Castro’s pal. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | New York | News | Politics

December 11th, 2008


by Delbert Grady

Vertigo n. A disorder in which a person or his surroundings seem to whirl about in such a way as to make the person dizzy and usually sick.

Investment banks blowing up. Banks failing. Stock markets melting down. Millions (M) become billions (B) become trillions (T). Almost makes me feel like I was a cockeyed optimist in my previous economic articles (GUNS, BUTTER AND PIZZA – Spring 2006 issue, reprinted Fall 2008 and THE GREAT BOOMER BUST – Spring 2008 issue).

Trying to get a better handle on the diverse components of this Byzantine disaster, I’ve culled a pile of interesting facts from a wide variety of sources over the last few years, herewith submitted for your approval as Rod Serling used to say. (All figures approximate).

There is about $4.5T deposited in 8500 U.S. banks. The number of “troubled” banks jumped from 90 to 117 in the second quarter of 2008 and Bloomberg Markets estimates that 100 regional banks may fall next year costing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) $150B more than it actually has, and that doesn’t include potential losses on an additional $1.9T of deposits now covered due to the recent increase in coverage to $250K per account, up from $100K. The FDIC had only $45.2B on hand as of June after shelling out almost $9B for the IndyMac collapse.

Now to the subprime bailout: Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | New York | News | Politics

December 11th, 2008


by D. Clark MacPherson

The problem with political jokes is they get elected.
—Henry Cate VII

Now that the main political season is over we begin again with the rounds of phone calls—from aides and politicians as well as hopefuls. Once an office has been secured, longevity becomes the order of the day. And, that, my friends, means money. Few people understand the dirty business of complying with or circumnavigating the election laws in order to raise enough money to either hold on to an office just won, or move on to a better position. It almost doesn’t seem to matter what the job pays. Bloomberg is a good example of that. In fact he’s reported to have spent nearly $100 million to become Mayor, a position that pays approximately $200,000.

Influence, power, quid pro quos and hubris seem to be the coin of the political realm.

The pecking order, once you move out of neighborhood block associations and political activism, starts with the Community Board. City Council members or the Borough President recommends people for membership. The Chair of the Community Board can also recommend someone but he does not have the power to appoint a regular member. He can appoint what is called a Public Member, however, someone whose vote is limited. Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Community | New York | News | Politics

December 10th, 2008


by Trip Plunkitt

Due to the possibly illegal City Council vote last October to repeal term limits, Plunkitt is disgusted with the following individuals (who all represent us locally): Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Bloomberg’s “Mini Me” Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Council member Alan Gerson (who even went so far to say he “had no choice” but to vote for it – puleeze!); Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (who strangely supported it even though he can already run for another wonderful four years).

And don’t forget all the council members who voted their self-interest in repealing the term limits law that was voted on not once but twice by the people of the City of New York by public referendum. Billionaire Bloomberg appears to have bought this vote with calls by his commissioners to everyone, threatening removal of Bloomberg-controlled public and private funding for their vital projects. And sources tell us most of the “undecided” council members were onboard to vote yes weeks before the actual vote and Mayor Bloomberg knew it. Shame on all of you! Continue Reading »

Filed Under: Articles | Commentary | Community | New York | News | Politics

December 9th, 2008


by John Coakley

Thanks to Earthworks for the heads up.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking (insert Battlestar Galactica joke here), is a technique used by Big Oil to stimulate the production of oil and natural gas wells. It sends toxic, extremely high-pressure fluids into underground formations. Those fluids are never fully recovered. Why does this matter? Well, the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation rests beneath much of the Appalachian mountains in the mid-Atlantic states—including much of New York and the NYC drinking watershed. It used to be too expensive to drill there but now the oil companies want to give it a shot—drinking water quality be damned. Sure, they’ll tell you that it’s safe and pollution is unlikely, but that’s what they said when they wanted to frack in Colorado and New Mexico, and that mess has yet to be cleaned up.

So what can you do? Click here before the deadline of December 15th to send a letter to the powers that be in our state, telling them that you’d rather they didn’t pollute our drinking water, if you please. I mean, for frack’s sake!

Filed Under: Community | New York | News | Politics | Take Action





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