MORNING BULLETIN: TENANTS SAY THEY’RE USED AS ‘HUMAN BAIT’, MILLIONS IN IVORY DESTROYED


Photo by Judy Marcovitch on Sunday.

August 7, 2017 Weather: Thunderstorms, with a high of 71 degrees.

Notices:
See concerts and more local events on our calendar.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for NYC today, 8/7, from 12:00 PM until tomorrow, 8/8 at 6 a.m.

News:
Three residents are suing Stellar Management because of a particularly bizarre situation in their building at 50 West 97th Street. “A trio of Upper West Side residents are out of patience with a doctor [Lisa Aptaker] they claim has been stalking and tormenting them thanks to their landlord’s attempts at evicting the physician, according to a lawsuit filed Friday against the landlord… The women are seeking $221,400 in damages from Stellar for using them as ‘human bait’ to build a case against Aptaker and evict her and her mother.” Aptaker says the harassment charges are false and motivated by financial gain.

New York state officials destroyed almost two tons of ivory in Central Park last week to protest the illegal ivory trade. “Nearly two tons of ivory — from tiny, ornamental items to elaborate, engraved tusks — were loaded onto a conveyor belt and pulverized in Central Park Thursday as part of a public protest staged by New York state officials against poaching… The ceremony came three years after New York effectively banned the sale of elephant and mammoth ivory. The street value of the items destroyed, all of them seized in the state since the ban went into effect, was estimated at $8.5 million.”

A fruit stand on 96th and Broadway sometimes sells as many as 1,500 bananas a day, according to vendor Oktay Suleyman in a story about how bananas get to NYC. “This is the best spot in the city for street selling.”

Sasha Matthews, the talented local 12-year-old who draws comics to help benefit the ACLU, gets harassed by people who don’t agree with her politics. She’s able to brush it off and continue with her project to raise $10,000 for the ACLU.

Some businesses, including Town Shop on Broadway, are calling on the city to get rid of a tax on commercial rents that exceed $250,000 annually. “[T]he taxes have been onerous, and he can’t foresee a situation in which his own children would be able to afford to take over the store, as the fifth generation in line. ‘We have 38 employees,’ he said. ‘We make money to spend money.'” The mayor has been reticent to get rid of the tax.

There’s a long examination of New York’s affordable housing crunch in the New York Review of Books. And a shorter summary in Curbed.

NEWS | 13 comments | permalink
    1. dj says:

      The ACLU recently helped defeat a bill in Maine to criminalize female genital mutilation. I for one will not be buying any comic books to support such an organization. What’s next for the ACLU, bringing back suttee?

      http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/26/aclu-opposes-maine-bill-criminalizing-female-genital-mutilation/

      https://www.circa.com/story/2017/07/05/world/fgm-is-happening-in-maine-and-the-state-legislature-shot-down-the-bill-that-was-trying-to-stop-it

      • LOL, Daily Caller and Circa. What, nothing from Infowars?

        https://www.aclumaine.org/en/press-releases/statement-fgm-bill

        June 23, 2017

        The ACLU of Maine supports an amended version of LD 745 as passed by the House, Amendment B, “Resolve, To Establish a Community-based Education and Outreach Program to Prevent Female Genital Mutilation of a Minor.” We believe results-based solutions that prioritize education and prevention over criminalization are the most effective way to curb dangerous behaviors.

        The original version of LD 745, which would create multiple new felony penalties for FGM, is redundant; there are already severe penalties under both Maine and federal law that cover FGM. This bill is nothing more than an attempt to single out behavior that is commonly attributed to certain religious and ethnic communities as different from other forms of abuse. Were also concerned that the bill was crafted without the input of policy experts or affected communities. After hearing from women in Maine who were directly affected by female genital mutilation as well as advocates against domestic violence, we opposed the original version of LD 745.

        We do not support the practice of FGM, and we are not calling for the legalization of this practice. We do not oppose existing laws outlawing FGM. For nearly a decade, the ACLU has supported laws aimed at protecting the rights and safety of women and girls. This includes laws condemning the practice of FGM. We remain committed to working with our partners who advocate for the rights of women and girls, and those in Maine’s immigrant communities, to find evidence-based solutions that will truly protect these vulnerable populations.

    2. Sherman says:

      I read this article about NYC rents in the NY Review of Books over the weekend.

      It’s very long winded and complex but it is clearly written by someone with a very liberal bias who repeatedly praises how “progressive” NYC’s tenant protection laws are.

      Despite the ramblings of his article he misses the big picture – the more the city tries to make NYC housing “affordable” the less affordable it actually becomes.

      This can be demonstrated by the NY Daily News article referenced above in which a doctor moved into a $477 a month apartment she inherited from her mother in a nice building in a nice part of the UWS.

      I’m not sure how this is an efficient or fair way of providing affordable housing.

      The absurdities of NYC rent laws are mind boggling.

      • Jen says:

        Sherman and his sore point of affordable housing. Will you ever stop your complaints we all are sick of?
        Also, please stick to the facts when quoting other articles – the doctor that you mentioned is unemployed, has apparent health issues and would probably be on the street with her kids if it weren’t for this rent-stabilized apartment. Facts you failed to mention because you can’t think past someone mentioning “rent-stabilized” in any context.
        Seriously, get over it.

      • Phase Out Rent Control says:

        A strong appreciation for Sherman’s repeated hammering of the absurd and unjust rent laws, and of his breaking down of the face that “rent control” is really “rent reallocation”, from the undeserving to the unfortunate.

        NO WAY that a rent-controlled apartment should be “inheritable” by successive generations as if it were a family heirloom.

        NO WAY that an apartment on the UWS that can accommodate 3 persons should be limited to $477/month.

        NO WAY that rent stabilization shouldn’t be subject to stringent income and means testing.

        Keep right on preachin’, Sherm.

      • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

        The NYC rent regulations are in dire need of reform. Or better yet repeal.

      • anon says:

        Please never stop preaching this truth Sherman.

    3. Catherine says:

      I agree with the owner of the Town Shop a long time retail store serving the Upper West Side for generations. Not everyone can fit into Victoria’s Secret underwear & clothing, but besides that, the mayor should seriously consider banishing that ridiculously high tax on commercial rents which is driving “mom & pops” out of business all over the city. Mayor DeBlasio, let’s take care of the people in our city and forget about those trips to Europe to further personal exposure – stick to the business of running the city for all the people.

    4. nycityny says:

      A tax on commercial rents? Who knew? As if doing business in this city isn’t difficult enough. What’s next – a tax on breathing?

    5. B.B. says:

      For those who have never heard of nor understand NYC’s CRT, here is as good a primer as any:

      http://www.friedmanllp.com/insights/commercial-rent-tax-did-you-know

      NYC currently takes in about $800 million per year from CRT, thus making elimination or even changes difficult.

      This is a generous city in an equally so state; thus revenue must come from somewhere. Loss of several hundred million would leave a pretty large hole in NYC budget that would have to be filled somehow.

      • Sherman says:

        The CRT is a big source of revenue for the city but I believe it is an unfair burden on small businesses.

        However, NYC could easily eliminate the CRT and more than make up the lost revenue if it eliminated the 421-A exemption given to developers for allegedly creating “affordable” apartments.

        As the article referenced above in the NY Review if Books states the 421-A exemption costs the city about $1.4 billion a year in lost revenue and only creates a few thousand “affordable” apartments a year. This is clearly a very expensive and wasteful program.

        Maybe if we got rid of the CRT there might be fewer empty storefronts in the UWS.

      • Cato says:

        “CRT”? I thought everyone was using flat-screen televisions and monitors by now. How many Cathode Ray Tube models can still be out there?

    6. Independent says:

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has an extensive record of vociferously opposing freedom of association as well as opposing any number of other civil liberties.

      The ACLU’s Betrayal of Civil Liberties

      Freedom of Association Is Burned at the Stake in Indiana

      The ACLU’s Hypocritical Defense of Laws That Violate Religious Liberty