Monthly Archives

January 2015

News

CBS NY: Water Main Break Floods Streets, Cuts Service In Hell’s Kitchen

January 23, 2015

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A water main break left streets and sidewalks flooded, and cut off water service to some buildings, in Hell’s Kitchen late Friday.

The water main burst around 10:15 p.m. at Eleventh Avenue and 48th Street, officials told CBS2.

“It’s like a lake out here – water just flowing down the street coming up out of the manholes and the sewers,” City Councilman Corey Johnson (D-3rd) told 1010 WINS.

Water was cut off for several buildings and businesses Friday night, officials said.

The FDNY initially responded to the Ink48 Hotel, at 653 Eleventh Ave., for a report of water in the basement at the location. Johnson reported the hotel was left with about a foot of water in the basement.

The Office of Emergency Management told 1010 WINS that they also responded along with police, fire, Department of Environmental Protection crews in an effort to find and repair the break.

“There is a ton of water, it is just – it’s like a geyser coming up out of the sewers,” Johnson continued. “The streets look like they are overflowing rivers.”

Johnson told CBS2 that many buildings along the westerly edge of Manhattan from the West 20s to the West 50s was without water. The area is largely commercial.

OEM crews were trying to determine exactly what happened early Saturday.

News

EcoWatch: Paul McCartney, Mario Batali Urge NYC to Adopt ‘Meatless Monday’ Resolution

January 23, 2015

“Meatless Monday is a national and international campaign that encourages people to enjoymeat-free meals on Mondays to improve their personal and public health, animal welfare, wildlife protection and environmental and agricultural sustainability,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting Earth’s species and their habitats. Going meat-free even one day a week can significantly reduce your environmental impact and improve your overall health.

Paul McCartney encourages people all over the world to go meatless at least one day a week with his Meat-Free Mondays campaign.
Paul McCartney encourages people all over the world to go meatless at least one day a week with his Meat-Free Mondays campaign.

That’s why New York City Council members Helen Rosenthal and Corey Johnson have introduced a resolution to make meat-free options more widely available and encourage New Yorkers to skip meat on Mondays. About 40 schools in New York City already participate in Meatless Monday, including private, public and charter schools at all grade levels. Many New York City colleges and universities participate in Meatless Monday, as well. And even conscientious restaurant owners, such as Bill Telepan, Mario Batali, John Fraser and Marisa May, promote their meatless options to customers on Mondays. The measure would not force the city’s restaurants and schools to go meatless, but rather it would promote meat-free options.

Council Member Corey Johnson said, “We’re issuing a call to all New Yorkers: Let’s go meatless on Mondays. By doing so, we’re not only helping the planet, but ourselves.” He said, “Studies have shown that red meat in particular has a carbon footprint similar to automobiles. And if New Yorkers cut out meat just one day of the week, we could potentially make a dent in rates of obesity, cancer and diabetes.”

The resolution has a lot of support. The Center for Biological Diversity has been encouraging people to eat less meat with their campaign Take Extinction Off Your Plate, which raises awareness about the environmental impact of meat production. Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, founders of Meat Free Monday, are thrilled: “Great to hear that New York City officials are considering introducing Meatless Monday. It’s such an easy and enjoyable way to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health.” Erica Meier, executive director atCompassion Over Killing also supports the resolution. “By introducing this Meatless Mondayresolution, the New York City Council is sending a powerful message about the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, and of course, eating fewer animals,” she said.

New York City is not the first city in the U.S. to adopt a Meatless Monday Resolution—Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington DC and more than 30 other cities have already adopted resolutions. But if the city council approves the resolution, there could be millions more people in America’s largest city going meat-free on Mondays.

News

The Algemeiner: ‘What You Saw Here Today Was Naked, Blind Antisemitism:’ NYC Councilman Slams Palestine Activists Who Disrupted Auschwitz Commemoration Debate

January 22, 2015

New York City Councilman David Greenfield fiercely denounced a group of antisemitic pro-Palestinian demonstrators who disrupted a Council meeting today, at the exact time that a resolution commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was being discussed.

Moments after the demonstrators were escorted from the chamber by security guards, Greenfield, the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, began a speech that rapidly evolved into an impassioned discourse on the overlap between hatred of Israel and hatred of Jews.

“While we were discussing a resolution regarding the murder of 1.1 million human beings – I will point out that 90 percent of them were Jewish, but the other 10 percent, they were political dissidents, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, they were gays, those were the people who were being killed together at Auschwitz-Birkenau,” Greenfield declared, “while we were discussing that, they had the chutzpah, the nerve, the temerity, to unfurl a Palestinian flag and yell at us.”

Voice rising, Greenfield contrasted Israel’s open society with the repressive regimes across the Middle East, before asserting, “What you saw here today was naked, blind antisemitism.”

Greenfield said that the demonstrators had unfurled the Palestinian flag out of anger that “Hitler had not finished the job. He only wiped out half of my family.”

He concluded: “Shame on them for disrespecting the most diverse democratically elected body in the United States of America, and that’s why we go to Israel.”

The demonstrators immediate target was the trip to Israel which Councilman Greenfield referred to, planned for next year, and involving City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and 14 other Council members. Footage of the demonstrators showed them in a state of collective hysteria, showering abuse and hatred upon the council’s members.

Other councillors joined Greenfield in condemning the antisemitic disruption, which included the fringe group “Jewish Voice for Peace” among the participants. “City Council protesters today were so hate-filled and venomous that they strengthened our support for Israel, ONLY democracy in Middle east,” tweeted Councilman Mark D. Levine. Councilman Cory Johnson called the demonstration “incredibly disrespectful and offensive. Simply awful.”

Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich told the meeting that “to be pro Israel you don’t have to be Jewish. Israel is a vibrant democracy and I’m proud to go back to Israel again. I will not be intimidated by the hecklers. I will not sit here and allow people to attack the Jews.”

News

DNAinfo: City Council Caps Building Heights On Chelsea Block Near High Line

January 22, 2015

By Rosa Goldensohn

CHELSEA — The City Council voted to keep high-rises away from part of the High Line on Thursday.

The council expanded the Special West Chelsea District by one more block, according to City Councilman Corey Johnson, who advocated for the change. The district will now include the south side of West 15th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, Johnson said. The new zoning change caps building heights there at 135 feet.

Johnson told DNAinfo that expanding the district would “help protect the low-rise character of the blocks south of Chelsea Market.”

“Before today, there were no height restrictions,” he said of the West 15th Street block.

The Department of City Planning recommended the change after a 2013 study, saying on its website that “inclusion in the special district would establish height and street wall controls consistent with surrounding streets.”

The special district was created in 2005 to guide development around the High Line,according to an October letter from Manhattan’s Community Board 4.

The Council did not go so far as to include other blocks that the community board recommended be added to the district, such as Eleventh and Twelfth avenues between West 27th and West 30th Streets.

News

NY Daily News: Councilman proposes overhaul of Rent Guidelines Board rules

January 22, 2015
rentERIN DURKIN

Councilman Corey Johnson and tenant advocates spoke outside City Hall.

A City Councilman is looking to ease the rent hikes charged on rent stabilized apartments by eliminating a price index that measures landlords’ costs from the decision.

Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) introduced a resolution pushing the Rent Guidelines Board to drop the Price Index of Operating Costs, which it uses to estimate how much it costs to operate buildings, and therefore how much rents should increase.

He said the index overestimates how much it really costs to maintain the city’s one million rent stabilized apartments.

“It’s one-sided. It benefits landlords and owners at the expense of tenants without real accurate data,” he said.

The push for reform comes after tenants were disappointed that the Rent Guidelines Board did not offer the first-ever rent freeze last year, despite Mayor de Blasio’s urging. Instead, they allowed rent to rise 1% for one-year leases and 2.75% for two-year leases.

Frank Ricci of the Rent Stabilization Association says he doesn’t like the price index for the opposite reason – he thinks it lowballs landlords’ costs.

“We think it underestimates owners’ costs of running a building,” he said. “Everyone knows that property taxes, water and sewer rates…all those costs go up.”

“It makes no sense,” he said of Johnson’s proposal. “He wants the formula to match the politics.”

News

Western Queens Gazette: First Korean American Day

January 21, 2015

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Councilmember Peter Koo was joined by co-sponsors Councilmembers Paul Vallone and Corey Johnson, Mark Weprin, other elected officials and leaders of the Korean community on the steps of City Hall to celebrate Korean American Day. In December, the City Council passed a resolution which commemorates January 13 as Korean American Day in New York City.

Councilmember Peter Koo was joined by co-sponsors Councilmembers Paul Vallone and Corey Johnson, Mark Weprin, other elected officials and leaders of the Korean community on the steps of City Hall to celebrate Korean American Day. In December, the City Council passed a resolution which commemorates January 13 as Korean American Day in New York City.Councilmember Peter Koo, Commissioner Nisha Agarwal and the City Council declared January 13 Korean American Day inNew York City.

Koo was joined by his Council colleagues, Commissioner Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and jubilant Korean Americans from across the city to mark the First Annual Korean American Day in New York. January 13 is significant in the Korean American community because it marks the date the first Korean immigrants came to America in 1903.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 417-2014, recognizing and commemorating January 13 as Korean American Day in the City of New York.

“With the passage of my resolution, we formally acknowledge the many contributions made by Korean Americans to our society, and celebrate their achievements,” said Koo. “It was an honor to lead the effort to have this day officially recognized by the City of New York. And it was a privilege to work with the many Korean American organizations and my colleagues, particularly Speaker Mark-Viverito, Majority Leader Van Bramer and Councilmembers Vallone and Johnson, to get this done. The community truly deserved this recognition.

This is a day to recognize and celebrate all the contributions that the Korean-American community has made to New York City,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I’d like to thank Councilmember Koo for his leadership on this resolution and wish all New Yorkers a happy Korean American Day.”

“I was proud to work with Councilmember Peter Koo and my colleagues in passing Resolution 417 which officially recognizes January 13 as Korean American Day in the City of New York,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “On this commemorative date we forever establish a time for us all to come together to honor the many contributions Koreans Americans have made toward strengthening the fabric of our city and our nation.”

Councilmember Paul Vallone said, “Today we recognize all Korean Americans for their hard work and cultural contributions. I am so proud to stand here with leaders and advocates for the Korean community as we declare today a day that celebrates them. Now all New York City residents will recognize their accomplishments, and I thank Councilmember Koo for spearheading today’s celebration.”

Councilmember Corey Johnson said, “Today we celebrate Korean American Day in New York. We celebrate Korean American culture and recognize the contributions they have made to our city. My grandmother was Korean, and it is a part of my heritage of which I am very proud. As someone who identifies as an Irish-Korean-American, I am thankful to Councilmember Peter Koo for sponsoring the legislation that made this day possible.”

Others who spoke on the occasion include Councilmember Mark Weprin, Grace Yoon, executive director of the Korean American Family Services Center, Jim Wohn, president of the Korean American Community Foundation, Paul Yoo, president of the Korean American Association of Queens, and EJ Thorsen, vice president of communications for the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York.

According to the 2010 United States Census, there are now over 1.4 million Korean Americans living in the United States, including an estimated 97,000 living in New York City. There are 24,000 Korean-owned businesses in New York State, the second largest number in the United States, which generates an estimated revenue of $7.7 billion annually. In addition to business, Korean Americans have made tremendous contributions to all sectors of our society, such as law, government, the visual and performing arts, academia, medicine and science.

News

NY Post: Neighbors’ complaints to 311 over Airbnb are on the rise

January 21, 2015

Complaints about short-term apartment-rental services such as Airbnb soared in the past year — but there were only 12 inspectors to act on them, a city official said Tuesday.

There were 1,150 complaints about “illegal hotels” to the city’s 311 hot line in 2014 — a 62 percent jump over the 712 calls operators fielded in 2013, said Elizabeth Glazer, who heads the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.

“I think that we’re doing a pretty efficient job right now,” Glazer testified Tuesday at a hearing of the City Council Housing Committee. “We’re becoming more efficient by the day.”

But Several lawmakers blasted the city for not doing enough to stem the tide of illegal rentals.
“I would publicly take issue with what you’re saying,” said Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).

“That’s part of the problem. It’s more of a reactive group — your office — than a proactive group.”

Founded more than six years ago in San Francisco, Airbnb boasts 800,000 listings in more than 30,000 cities in 192 countries.

In recent years, it’s courted controversy from critics in New York, who say the site depletes the city’s affordable-housing stock and encourages rapacious entrepreneurs to convert long-term housing into more profitable short-term rentals.

The company counters it’s a boon to the local economy, with one representative estimating it brought $768 million into the city last year.

Tenants who use Airbnb to supplement their incomes turned out in droves for a demonstration at the City Hall steps to support the Web site. A counter demonstration of critics attracted about 100 people.

Councilman Corey Johnson, who represents Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and Soho, said the site has about 2,000 listings posted in those neighborhoods right now.

“This is a mess,” Johnson said. “For a hardworking New Yorker that pays their rent, no one should have to live in a building or next to someone whose apartment is being used as an illegal hotel.”

But homeowners who rent out space through Airbnb defended it as a legitimate way to make money . For Nan Doyle of Fort Greene, the Web site has helped her family make ends meet after her husband lost his job.

“Economically, it’s been fantastic,” she said.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) urged Airbnb to provide statistics on which of its listings fall into the legal category.

But David Hantman, Airbnb’s head of global public policy, said he couldn’t provide the numbers.