Monthly Archives

March 2016

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Statement by the NYC Council LGBT Caucus on Sexual Assault at Stonewall Inn

March 29, 2016

“We are outraged by reports of a sexual assault that occurred at the Stonewall Inn late Saturday evening. We applaud the NYPD for its swift action in seeking the suspect and urge anyone with information about this crime to come forward immediately. New York City has zero tolerance for sexual assault, and this crime will not go unanswered. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.” – New York City Council’s LGBT Caucus

News

The Villager: Participate in participatory budgeting! Vote on local projects

March 25, 2016

If you could allocate the budget for Council District 3, what would your priorities be? Well, now you have a chance to weigh in on how you would spend at least a portion of that funding — in the district’s second annual round of participatory budgeting.

Between Sat., March 26, and Sun., April 3, residents of District 3 — which is represented by Councilmember Corey Johnson and covers the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen — can vote on a range of projects, from parks and education to arts and transit. Anyone who is at least 14 years old and a district resident can vote.

There are 15 projects in all, and individuals are allowed to select up to five.

People can vote, for example, for a green roof at the new 75 Morton St. middle school for $200,000.

Also on the “ballot” is the renovation of the historic field house at Downing St. Playground for $250,000.

Other choices include real-time bus-arrival information at five key bus stops around the district, or new street trees throughout District 3 — both for $100,000.

Voters can also back the renovation of the basketball court at Gertrude Kelly Playground, at W. 17thSt. between Eighth and Ninth Aves., for $350,000.

Other items include a range of park and school improvement projects north of W. 14th St.

Residents can vote at any one of seven “poll sites”; however, the sites are open on different days, so be sure to check the schedule first.

participate 2

There are seven different places residents can vote. This year, online voting is also an option.

 

 

This year, there will also be a pilot program for online voting. If you are unable to make it to the polls and want to vote online, call 212-564-7757 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., or send an e-maildistrict3@council.nyc.gov . Johnson’s office will register you, then send you a form for voting. You can also register in person at a poll site to vote online.

Johnson’s office will verify online voters’ residency in the district through their own office database of district constituents and other means.

“We’re not worried about widespread P.B. voter fraud,” said Erik Botcher, Johnson’s chief of staff. “Even when you vote in person, if you don’t have ID, you can sign an affidavit.”

News

ESPN: MLB: Violators of new tobacco laws face baseball penalties

March 25, 2016

William Weinbaum and Michele Steele

 

Fines from cities with new smokeless tobacco bans at ballparks won’t be the only penalties violators could face, according to a senior Major League Baseball official.

“Players or anybody in baseball found to have violated a law are subject to discipline from the commissioner,” MLB chief legal counsel Dan Halem told “Outside the Lines.” “Smokeless tobacco laws are no different.”

Halem said that, under Article XII of the five-year collective bargaining agreement that runs through this year, the commissioner could have “just cause” to discipline players for “conduct that is prejudicial or detrimental to Baseball” if they break the new tobacco laws.

 

An MLB Players Association official told “Outside the Lines,” on the condition of anonymity, “MLB would have a fight on their hands if they attempt to discipline players under the ‘Just Cause’ provision.” The union did not accept a league-wide smokeless tobacco ban that owners sought in collective bargaining in 2011 and is expected to again oppose a ban in this year’s negotiations for a new labor deal.

San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles each enacted laws that ban smokeless tobacco in the cities’ big-league ballparks and other sports venues beginning this season. The city councils of Chicago and New York recently approved similar prohibitions on smokeless tobacco for Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. The state of California approved a similar bill for 2017 that would enact bans at three more MLB stadiums. With legislators in Toronto and Washington, D.C., reportedly considering similar laws, more than one-third of MLB’s 30 ballparks could have smokeless tobacco bans in effect next year.

It’s unclear how the new measures, which carry penalties for first-time violators of up to $250, can and will be enforced for players, managers, umpires and fans. Jess Montejano, a legislative aide to San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, whose bill led to the city’s ban, said there are no plans to post extra police at the Giants’ AT&T Park, but that officers will write citations if they see violations.

Newly posted signs in the clubhouses and fan walkways at Boston’s Fenway Park provide a phone number that anyone who sees smokeless tobacco use can call to alert security.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said players realize they are role models, so enforcement “will take care of itself, that will police itself.”

Said Montejano: “We’re in a situation where no team awants to be caught chewing.” The Giants declined an interview request from Outside the Lines.

Advocates for the bans say the most recent data from the Center for Disease Control suggests young athletes are especially prone to imitate the players who chew or dip, even though tobacco use among big leaguers has declined over the years. According to the CDC, high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes and their rate of use increased from 10 percent to 11.1 percent between 2001 and 2013.

An estimated 25 to 30 percent of MLB players dip or chew, according to Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which is lobbying for the bans. Because ballparks are workplaces and public places, said Myers, “It’s entirely appropriate to restrict the use of a harmful substance in such a setting.”

Critics acknowledge that smokeless tobacco is addictive and dangerous, but say the activity is legal elsewhere and doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. They also question whether bans are an effective approach and whether government resources should be spent on such initiatives.

Dr. Alan Blum, a physician and founder of The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco, said, “If bans are so successful, why do major leaguers who’ve come from college or the minors — which both have bans — do it?”

“I probably have mixed emotions,” said Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, who is often seen in the dugout with a mouthful of chewing tobacco. “I wrap gum around it,” he said, “because I don’t want kids seeing me with it.

“I love it, but I know it’s a terrible habit and I don’t want somebody to see it and think, ‘Oh, man, that’s cool, I want to be like him, doing that.'”

Joe Garagiola, the legendary broadcaster and former player who died this week at age 90, championed the education and treatment of tobacco-using players for two decades. When Garagiola, a former tobacco chewer, appeared before Congress in 2010, he pleaded with baseball’s owners and players to rid the sport of the habit. But, he said, “Baseball can’t solve the problem by itself. We need help.”

While MLB and the MLBPA are diametrically opposed on the issue of bans, they are collaborating on treatment and cessation programs for players. In a joint memo sent to all teams last month to raise awareness of the local bans, players were offered access to a treatment expert and free supplies of nicotine replacement therapy products such as lozenges, gum and patches.

Said Halem: “Before you can ask people to quit addictive behavior, you have to put them in a good position to do so.”

As for how MLB commissioner Rob Manfred will decide on possible penalties for violators of ballpark bans, Halem said, “It will be case by case, considering the number of violations, how severe and whether they’re cooperative and engaged in cessation efforts — the objective is to help them kick the habit.”

ESPN content associate Christopher Caudle contributed to this report.

News

ESPN: ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – March 25, 2016

March 25, 2016

Several Major League Baseball cities have passed legislation banning the use of smokeless tobacco products in sports venues, with New York’s ban just being voted on this week. ESPN will examine the still-developing story across multiple platforms this weekend.

Sunday’s Outside the Lines (ESPN, 9 a.m. ET) will focus on the story with reporter Michele Steele, who conducted interviews with players and officials but found resistance in getting people to discuss the topic. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston were the first three cities to enact the ban.

“This has been one of the more challenging stories I think that I’ve ever worked on at ESPN,” said Steele, who joined the company in 2011. “It’s something that everyone to a man knows is a bad habit, but it’s something that some players feel strongly is a right that they have.

“It was tough to get people to go on camera and talk about it,” she said. “In fact, we had one ballplayer who said he wouldn’t go on camera because he didn’t want his mom to know that he was dipping.

”You’re putting a camera in someone’s face and you’re asking them to talk to you about what can be a serious addiction.”

While the San Francisco Giants declined to participate in the story, players David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox) and Chase Utley (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona were among those interviewed by Steele, as were Boston mayor Marty Walsh and Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Steele, who is based in Boston, got the idea for an OTLpiece last year after reading about the Boston city council’s discussions of a ban, following the one put in place first by San Francisco.

“I told OTL this is something that could become a national trend and it has,” she said. “It’s been amazing, just in the last few weeks as we’ve tried to put this story to bed, how many more cities have come onboard, including Chicago and New York.”

Shorter versions of the OTL story will air on SportsCenterand Baseball Tonight, and a print version written by Steele and producer Willie Weinbaum is on ESPN.com. Spanish versions will appear on ESPN Deportes One Nacion.

“I hope that people see this piece and at least contemplate the huge influence that athletes have and continue to have on younger athletes and people who want to emulate them,” said Steele. “Charles Barkley famously said ‘I’m not a role model’ and everything that we have learned about this proves just the opposite – that baseball players are some of the best non-paid endorsers for this product. It’s a serious thing and something that I hope people won’t take lightly after watching this story.”

News

Chelsea Now: Calling All Voters – Participatory Budgeting is Back

March 23, 2016

BY SEAN EGAN 

For the second year running, it’s time for the residents of Council District 3 to vote for their favorite Participatory Budgeting ballot items. Adopted in 2015, the Participatory Budgeting process allows members of the community, ages 14 and up, to propose projects that would improve the community — and then vote on the top five they would like to see accomplished. Winning Participatory Budgeting items are paid for with capital funds allocated by Councilmember Corey Johnson (the top vote-getter is fully paid for, with projects greenlit until the allocated amount of $1 million has been distributed).

The 15 projects on this year’s ballot are divided into six categories: Education, Environment, Park & Recreation, Transit, Youth, and Arts, Culture & Community Facilities. Voting takes place Mar. 26–Apr. 3, at six area facilities (early voting was available to those who attended a Mar. 22 Community Expo, held at PS340, where various project sponsors made the case for their particular ballot item).

There’s no shortage of efforts and initiatives worth your vote. One such project is Item 12 — a proposal to replace the dysfunctional HVAC cooling system in the NYPL’s Muhlenberg Library (209 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.).

“At the moment, the system that we’re using is not really adequate to cover the entire branch. We’re a three-floor branch,” explained the Muhlenberg manager, Lateshe Lee, who describes issues with keeping a consistent temperature throughout the building. This is particularly troubling, as the branch functions as an official NYC Cooling Center.

“We let people sit all day if they need to, or just come in briefly and take a rest from the heat,” she elaborated, noting that it provides relief to the homeless population, as well as making the many programs for adults and kids more enjoyable.

Other public spaces being put to a vote include renovations to two basketball courts, as well as improvements to DeWitt Clinton and Chelsea Parks.

School improvements are also well-represented this year. Lab MS, Lab HS, and Museum High are seeking both gym and bathroom renovations, while the new 75 Morton Street middle school is looking to build a green roof.

As reported in Chelsea Now last year, the recently opened City Knoll Middle School (425 W. 33rd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) is in desperate need of a library for its students, and is looking to the Participatory Budgeting process for help.

“There’s lots of empty shelves,” said Principal Victoria Armas. “We’re looking to renovate the space with updated bookcases, furniture, lighting. and technology. We’d like some desktop computers, definitely, with some digital libraries on them for us to use, as well as opportunities for kids to do research, which is an important part of our curriculum.”

PS11 (320 W. 21st St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) is also looking to Participatory Budgeting, in order to secure a new Audio/Visual (A/V) system.

“It just doesn’t properly function on a regular basis,” said Michael Walsh, who is on the board of the PTA. “We’re an arts-based elementary school, so the kids do a lot of performing and a lot of music, theater, and dance.” Walsh also noted that the school’s current programming happens only because of parents who lend out their own personal equipment.

“As an institution, we can’t always rely on the fact that we’re going to have a parent who has that kind of stuff,” said Walsh. “This is an attempt to make ourselves self-sustaining.”

A line forms, in anticipation of the Muhlenberg Library opening its doors. If funded, a new HVAC unit will cool off the crowds. Photo by Scott Stiffler.

Still, while everyone has their own project they are most invested in, all can agree the Participatory Budgeting is a worthwhile and useful program, no matter how voting turns out. Armas described the process as a “wonderful experience” and “true democracy,” while Walsh called it “an amazing thing.”

“I think it’s great, honestly. It gives people an opportunity to see what’s needed throughout the community,” asserted Lee. “There [are] just a lot of projects that are on [the ballot] that you wouldn’t know about if it wasn’t for Participatory Budgeting. And it gives us a voice, you know, a vote on the things that we think are important.”

For more info, text PB03 to 212-676-8384, call 212-564-7757, send an email to pbnyc@council.nyc.gov, or visit council.nyc.gov/pb.

PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING BALLOT ITEMS

PARK & RECREATION

ITEM 1: Grounds Renovation at Elliott-Chelsea Houses ($500,000) | Add new playground fencing, renovate walkways, and revitalize garden and grassy areas. Project would be designed to budget, and priority areas would be determined in conjunction with the RA leadership. (425 W. 25th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.)

ITEM 2: Repair/Reopen Staircase at DeWitt Clinton Park ($500,000) | The southwest entrance staircase is crumbling and has been closed for years. Repairing this entrance will make the park accessible to visitors and easier for children to enter on 12th Ave. (W. 52nd St. & 11th Ave.)

ITEM 3: Renovation of Historic Field House at Downing Street Playground ($250,000) | Restoration towards the Downing St. playground’s historic field house and bathrooms to make them wheelchair accessible. (1 Downing St., at Sixth Ave.)

ITEM 4: New Fitness Equipment for Chelsea Park ($180,000) | New fitness units, including safety surfacing, seating and drinking fountain replacement. (W. 27th St. & 10th Ave.)

EDUCATION

ITEM 5: New Audio/Visual System for PS11 ($75,000) | A new Audio/Visual System in the auditorium of PS11. The school needs a working A/V system to fulfill its curriculum requirements for students. (320 W. 21st St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.)

ITEM 6: Bathroom Renovation Phase 2 — Lab MS, Lab HS, and Museum High ($560,000) | Phase 2 renovations will make needed repairs to bathrooms on upper floors, addressing health and hygiene concerns for the school community. (333 W. 17th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.)

ITEM 7: Gym Renovation — Lab MS, Lab HS and Museum High ($300,000) | Gym improvements with exploration to build more communal space will address broken bleachers, difficult to operate scoreboard, flooring to support aerobic activity, and create more educational space. (333 W. 17th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.)

ITEM 8: A New Library for City Knoll School ($300,000) | Technological and construction updates to create a library space at City Knoll School. This project will help engage students and prepare them for the skills needed in the 21st century. (425 W. 33rd St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.)

ITEM 9: A Green Roof for 75 Morton Street School ($200,000) | Build a green roof on the new middle school coming to 75 Morton St. This would provide new physical and educational opportunities for students. (75 Morton St., btw. Greenwich & Hudson Sts.)

TRANSIT

ITEM 10: Real Time Rider Information at Bus Stops ($100,000) | Electronic boards to display real time bus arrival information at five key bus stops, offering convenience for riders. The proposed locations will be subject to feasibility analysis by the Department of Transportation. (District-wide)

ITEM 11: More Turnstiles at C/E 50th St. Station ($135,000) | Install two additional turnstiles at the entrance/exit of the C/E 50th St. uptown platform. More turnstiles will ease congestion and reduce wait times for passengers at this entrance/exit. (C/E Subway Station at W. 50th St. & Eighth Ave.)

ARTS CULTURE & COMMUNITY FACILITIES

ITEM 12: Cool Muhlenberg Library. Renovate HVAC System ($500,000) | Replace the building’s HVAC cooling unit to ensure that the branch can continue to serve as a cool space in the summer months, which includes serving as an official NYC Cooling Center. (209 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.)

YOUTH

ITEM 13: Renovate the Basketball Court at Chelsea Park ($350,000) | The basketball court needs to be improved for the safety and enjoyment of the community. This project would repave the court and install new rims. (W. 27th St. & 10th Ave.)

ITEM 14: Renovate the Basketball Court at Gertrude Kelly Playground ($350,000) | Renovate the basketball court and adjacent sidewalk at Gertrude Kelly Playground. (W. 17th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.)

ENVIRONMENT

ITEM 15: New Trees for Council District 3 ($100,000) | Plant new trees and install tree guards on blocks with few or no trees throughout District 3. (District-wide)

VOTING LOCATIONS AND TIMES

Councilmember Corey Johnson’s District Office (224 W. 30th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves. Suite 1206). Mar. 28– Apr. 1, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Columbus Library (742 10th Ave., btw. W. 50th & W. 51st Sts.). Mar. 26 & Apr. 2, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Greenwich House Music School (46 Barrow St., btw. Bedford & Bleecker Sts.). Mar. 26– 27 & Apr. 2–3, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Hudson Guild Elliott-Chelsea Community Center (441 W. 26th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). Mar. 26–27 & Apr. 2–3, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Hudson Guild Fulton Senior Center (119 Ninth Ave., btw. W. 17th & W. 18th Sts.). Apr. 2–3, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

The LGBT Center (208 W. 13th St., btw. Seventh & Greenwich Aves.). Mar. 26–27 (in Room 101) & Apr. 2–3 (in Room 110), 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

News

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: NYC’s mental health programs expanded by first lady

March 22, 2016

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Fourteen community organizations – with eight serving Brooklyn – have received grants in an innovative program spearheaded by First Lady Chirlane McCray to provide mental health care in existing neighborhood facilities.

In Brooklyn, the Arab American Association of New York, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, CAMBA, CASES, Comunilife, Red Hook Initiative, Safe Horizon and The HOPE Program will partner with local mental health providers to improve care in communities including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park and Red Hook.

As part of the Connections to Care program, social service staff at the organizations will receive basic training to support three main groups of people: expectant parents and parents of children up to the age of four; out of school and out of work young adults ages 16 to 24; and unemployed or underemployed adults.

Mental health is a priority of First Lady Chirlane McCray, chair of The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The Mayor’s Fund selected the organizations to receive a total of $30 million in funding, in collaboration with the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity and the Health Department.

At Red Hook Initiative on Friday, McCray told reporters that a bedrock of the funding was a $10 million social-innovation grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

McCray said that for her, “the groundbreaking potential of Connections to Care can be summed up with one big number – 40,000. That is how many New Yorkers will receive mental health care over the next five years with this initiative. That means 40,000 New Yorkers who will be able to talk about their issues and challenges in a place they trust, with people they trust.”

“By partnering with local organizations that have strong community ties, we can ensure more New Yorkers can access these invaluable services,” Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez said in a release.

Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) said that mental health counseling for young people ages 16 – 24 “is a need that we’ve waited over a decade to address and can now properly fund.”

In his district, the Red Hook Initiative will partner with Sunset Park-based NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers to provide counseling.

Councilmember Corey Johnson, chair of the Committee on Health, said that integrating mental health services into existing programs was a smart approach. “For too long, mental health care has been out of reach for many New Yorkers, particularly those who are low income,” he said.

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Red Hook) called the integration approach “brilliant.”

Jill Eisenhard, founder and executive director of the Red Hook Initiative, said that over the 14 years that the organization has been serving youth and families in Red Hook, “there has always been an unmet need for high-quality, culturally competent mental health care.”

The majority of Red Hook Initiative’s staff are Red Hook residents, and they will be receiving the training, she said.

Over the next five years, mental health providers are expected to train nearly 1,000 staff members at the organizations.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is funded through donations from foundations, corporations and individuals. The Ford Foundation has committed $2 million to the Connections to Care program.

News

Daily News: NYC hospitals, faced with $1.2B budget gap, plea for help as they struggle to survive

March 21, 2016

BY

The city’s public hospital system faces “unprecedented threats to our survival,” its president said Monday.

“I am not saying we are too big to fail. I am saying we are too important to fail,” Health and Hospitals president Ram Raju told the City Council.

He said Obamacare, despite “all its positive impact,” has dealt a financial blow to the already cash-strapped system, which runs 11 hospitals.

Cuts to federal aid for hospitals that care for uninsured patients could cost $300 million next year, and grow to $460 million a year after that. Health and Hospitals is also losing Medicaid funds. It faces a $1.2 billion budget gap next fiscal year.

“We cannot simply cut our way out of this dilemma,” Raju said.

In addition to lobbying the feds and state to change course, HHC’s turnaround plan depends on attracting more paying patients and signing more people up for its health insurance plan, MetroPlus.

But Raju acknowledged the changes are “not yet sufficient to assure our long term financial sustainability.”

Councilman Corey Johnson, chair of the health committee, said he likes the ideas but doesn’t think they’ll be enough.

“It’s hard for me … to have confidence our public hospital system is going to be able to continue to exist in New York City,” he said. “It’s hard for me to see how we are going to be able to dig our way out of this hole. … I must tell you I don’t feel optimistic, and I’m a pretty optimistic guy, but the challenges just seem so steep. They seem so overwhelming.”

Health and Hospitals also recently took over health care at Rikers Island, the violence-plagued jail where the previous health provider, Corizon, had been widely criticized.

Johnson pressed Raju on whether he considered the practice of solitary confinement there to be “cruel and unusual.” It’s being ended for young inmates, but is still used for adults.

“I probably think it is,” Raju said.

News

CBS New York: Proposal Banning Chewing Tobacco From NYC Ballparks Advances

March 21, 2016

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A ban on chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products at ballparks and stadiums in New York City is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The City Council’s Health Committee approved the measure 6-0 on Monday.

The legislation now moves on to the full City Council.

Both the Yankees and Mets support the idea, and the bill’s sponsor, Councilmember Corey Johnson of Chelsea, hopes the ban will be in place for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

“The teams are on board, which means that they’re going to ensure that their players don’t use it on the field, spectators  are also not going to be allowed to use it,” Johnson said. “We want it in place and enforced by the time Opening Day comes around.”

Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer and mouth disease. It’s estimated that the number of children using it doubled from 2007 to 2013.

“Smokeless tobacco among  young people has remained at a steady rate, and hasn’t declined,” Johnson said. “So we’re hoping that this proposal will actually make a difference in getting more young people to not use smokeless tobacco.”

Johnson said pro-athletes’ use of dip makes chewing tobacco socially acceptable, especially among young male athletes.

“When athletes who are role models to children are regularly shown on TV with a wad of chewing tobacco in their cheek, that sends a harmful message that smokeless tobacco is fun and socially acceptable,” Johnson said.

At a hearing last month, the health department’s senior legal counsel Kevin Schroth said every year roughly 415,000 kids nationwide try smokeless tobacco. He said young people repeatedly see professional athletes, especially baseball players, use chewing tobacco and that makes it socially acceptable.

The ban is opposed by the players union, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.

The death of Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn from cancer of the salivary glands spurred Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles to enact bans on chewing tobacco in their ballparks.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

News

Gothamist: Chelsea Residents Ramp Up Protest Against Greedy Supermarket Landlords

March 19, 2016

BY MIRANDA KATZ IN

The Associated Supermarket on West 14th Street and 8th Avenue is one of the lone surviving low-cost grocery stores in its area, as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and other pricier markets have popped up in recent years. But the supermarket’s landlord recently upped the rent from $32,000 a month to over $100,000 a month, which would force the market to close in May when its lease is up. Chelsea and Greenwich Village locals don’t want to see that happen, and yesterday, they protested with elected officials outside the offices of of Pan Am Equities, Inc., the store’s landlords.

This follows last week’s rally outside the market itself at 255 West 14th Street, during which Assembly Member Richard Gottfried argued that “Manhattan residents can’t stand idly by while our neighborhoods become the urban equivalent of gated communities.”

Elected officials say that they’ve repeatedly asked the Manocherian family, which owns Pan Am and controls at least 85 buildings in Manhattan, to participate in a conversation about the store’s future. While the Manocherians are under no legal obligation to charge a more reasonable rent, the electeds would like to see them negotiate a new lease “in good faith.”

“Pan Am Equities is demanding a truly unreasonable rent increase, leaving the store owners no choice but to close,” Council Member Corey Johnson said. “We’re asking the Manocherian family to consider the effect that this closure will have on their fellow New Yorkers. We are asking them to come to the table and negotiate a new lease with the store owner in good faith. No one should be forced to travel long distances to buy food, particularly seniors who are living on fixed incomes.”

Dozens of concerned residents marched outside of Pan Am’s offices at 18 East 50th Street, chanting, “save our supermarket,” “feed not greed,” and “negotiate the real estate.” DNAinfo reports that West 30th Street resident Miguelina Figueroa carried an orange poster that read, “We Need Food Access,” and said that if the supermarket closes, she’d have to take the bus or train to buy food, as the Gristedes and Whole Foods near her home are out of her price range. And Nancy Bogen, 83, said that both she and her 92-year-old husband were crushed by the news that the market might close.

“My husband walks there—he carries things back in both hands,” she told DNAinfo. “There’s nothing [else] within walking distance of our house.”

Pan Am Equities reportedly refused to speak with Johnson, who attempted to talk with the property managers yesterday. They similarly did not return our request for comment. In addition to Johnson, Public Advocate Letitia James, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assembly Member Deborah Glick were present at yesterday’s protest.

As one resident wrote to the Daily News, Associated provides phone-in services and delivers groceries to customers’ doors at a low price: “If this store closes, we will be forced to pay high prices and most of our folks are low income. I am low income and disabled and it will hit me really hard in the wallet.”

“This city is not for poor people, it’s for rich people,” Chelsea resident Cesar Castillo told CBS2.

Advocates for the supermarket have launched a petition, which had 539 supporters as of Saturday. Community efforts like this have worked in the past: in February, Washington Heights locals convinced the landlord of an Associated supermarket there to renegotiate a rent increaseand prevent a Walgreens from moving into the store.

News

NewNowNext: Man Suffers Broken Nose In Possible Gay-Bashing In Hell’s Kitchen Gayborhood

March 17, 2016

by

Police are searching for two men who reportedly jumped and beat a man in a possible hate crime outside a straight sports bar in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen gayborhood in the early morning hours of last Tuesday.

Police say the 36-year-old victim was trying to hail a cab for a friend in front of the bar around 5am when he became involved in an argument with two other men, who wound up punching him in the face while yelling “fuck you faggot.”

Screen shot 2016-03-17 at 10.43.00 AM

The victim reportedly suffered a broken nose and bruising to the face. Two witnesses who came forward to police said the assailants fled in a cab down Ninth Avenue.

Council member Corey Johnson of Hell’s Kitchen called the assault a “cowardly act,” according to PIX 11. He added: “No one should have to walk down the street in fear of being attacked because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The attack follows a steady uptick of assaults against members of the LGBT community in New York City since 2012, when Hate Crime Task Force Chief Michael Osgood reported an alarming increase in hate crimes throughout the city.

Last February, a gay couple jumped and assaulted by a homophobic mob outside Madison Square Garden was featured on the TV documentary Hate In America. In May, another gay couple was at the receiving end of a vicious assault, which left them bruised and bloodied, in nearby Chelsea.

Police released surveillance video of the suspected attackers (below), and urge anyone with additional information to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).