Morning Bulletin: Bill and Hillary in Town, Shakespeare in the Park Star, Homelessness Concerns

Photo by Jeff French Segall.

April 8, 2019 Weather: Sunny with a high of 77 degrees!

Free concerts, important meetings and discussions about housing, and many other local events are on our calendar.

Be ready for some gridlock: “On Thursday, Bill and Hillary Clinton will be at the Beacon Theater on Broadway at 74th, at 8 p.m. Thursday, bringing traffic turbulence to the Upper West Side.”

If you’re into birds, there are free tours of great bird-spotting locations in Central Park this month and next.

Orange is the New Black star Danielle Brooks will play Beatrice in Shakespeare in the Park’s Much Ado About Nothing, which starts May 21. The other show is Coriolanus. See more info here.

The erratic behavior of a homeless man named John Tucker who is usually in the 80’s on Broadway is upsetting some West Siders, who say the city isn’t doing enough to address homeless and mental health issues.

Sheep Meadow was a very happy place this weekend:

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Finally #SPRING in #NYC !! Everybody jump for joy! #nyc #centralpark #sheepmeadow #bff #girlpower #thisisten

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NEWS | 41 comments | permalink
    1. Juan says:

      I frequently walk past the Victoria’s Secret where John Tucker “resides,” often with my young children. I am shocked that they put up with him camping out in front of their store. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. But he needs some serious help, and having him wandering the neighborhood, growling at people and constantly exposing himself is not good for anybody.

      I am not sure why NYPD or others are so afraid of him. This article is sensationalistic but the point of it is accurate.

    2. Lisa says:

      My husband and I were out for a walk on Saturday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful springtime weather. There was a homeless person, pants dropped to his ankles, defecating on the sidewalk where the phone booths sit on the east side of Broadway between 71st and 72nd. In plain view of tourists, families, children walking by, and cars driving by. READING the paper as if he were at home on the toilet! I was horrified and disgusted. I’ve lived in NY for 20 years, most of the time on the UWS, and I have never seen anything like that before. I called 311 and made a quality of life complaint, and was told that the local precinct would respond “if they aren’t out on an emergency call”. I’m sure the public pooper was long gone, if and when they ever showed up. I wish I’d snapped a picture so the Post could have done a follow up article to the one with the picture of the homeless person urinating on the SUV, it would have been a perfect bookend to demonstrate the deterioration that is happening on the UWS and in the city in general. Disgusting. When will something be done?

    3. J.P. says:

      OMG~ The homeless guy who sleeps in front of the Victoria’s secret store 😡

      JOHN TUCKER… Can’t the police arrest him if they know he’s doing this???

    4. Pedestrian says:

      HOMELSSNESS? No worries. The mayor has done such a good job on NYC that he wants to do it to the US too. Too busy to take care of NYC he travels the Country seeking out donations from developers…don’t ask he wasn’t tell.

      Sadly now that it’s scaffolding season on the UWS, small homeless camps are developing under the scaffolding. See the one at the corner of 73 and Amsterdam. No worries the Mayor doesn’t walk that way and apparently none of the members of council do either or they might help or at leaset do something about the over flowing trash cans or the stench coming from the storm drains. No one seems to care.

    5. LesleyB says:

      In 2012, Victoria’s Secret had a sign in their window “gift with purchase” and homeless guy was camped out under it. Hilarious image but I know that he is extremely volatile so I kept walking and didn’t take a photo.

    6. Maria says:

      Check out the homeless/mentally ill encampment outside the Apple Bank (Amsterdam Avenue side). It is growing every day. One of the men has been on the streets in this area for years, screaming and yelling from time to time and acting menacing. No attempt has been made to find homes or treatment for these people. One of the shopkeepers has been told that the police can’t do anything. So, question is: What CAN be done?

      • B.B. says:

        No, LE cannot do anything, and this is not new.

        Ever since laws were changed and or new ones created in wake of deinstitutionalization movement that began in 1970’s, mentally ill have rights. More to the point such persons have same rights as anyone else which cannot be taken away without due process.

        It is no longer possible to “lock up” anyone just because they are acting in an anti-social or whatever manner. Indeed it has become very difficult to get anyone at various levels of mental illness confined.

        Doctors even at emergency rooms are fearful of any consequences and repercussions if they sign commitment papers, then the person (and or his/her family) turn around and bring legal action for malpractice.

        Judges also now are far more reluctant than say prior to 1960’s to put someone away, even on a temporary basis.

        Long story short unless a homeless/mentally ill person is breaking a known law, and or is clearly a threat to themselves or public, LE simply won’t get involved.

        Other nail in coffin came when courts including SCOTUS invalidated various anti loitering statues. Thus the old days when a beat cop (remember them?) would tell a homeless or whatever person to move along are effectively over. Unless the loitering is suspected and or actually part of committing a crime (drug sales, prostitution, etc…), LE can’t touch anyone standing around these days.

        If the homeless or someone is camping out on private property (building lobby, vestibule, enterance/exit); that is when LE can get involved. But only if property owner and or someone who resides/has business makes a complaint.

        In such instances you can call 911 or local precinct and they will dispatch a car/patrolman. Usually they will tell the person to move along. However if they suspect medical attention is needed an ambulance will be summoned.

        However again while NYPD can make homeless or anyone else move from private property (trespassing), they cannot compel them to get into an ambulance. Have seen on more than a few occasions EMTs asking, begging, pleading, offering to take a homeless/mentally ill person to hospital. Only to be told off firmly there is “nothing wrong” with them, and they aren’t getting into (insert various curse words) ambulance and going anywhere, so just leave them alone.

        There are two failures here; one is with NYC’s homeless policies. The other results from deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970’s where promises made were and have not been kept.

        Part of the deal when releasing mentally ill into society was local communities would create adequate supportive care housing. That by and large never happened. This was largely due to expense (state and local governments blanched at the costs), and other to local community reactions to siting such places in their street.

        Best New York and most places did was put people into SROs. That replaced one sort of heck for another as often owners of such places committed same or worse abuses of the mentally ill.

        The two became intertwined tragically even further beginning during the Koch administration when vast numbers of SROs were emptied out and converted into market rate housing. Worse NYS passed laws banning any new construction of single room occupancy housing.

        • Leon says:

          Thank you for the helpful explanation. But to boil it down, if he is seen with his pants down going to the bathroom in public, isn’t that breaking the law and something he can be put away for? I assume the penalty for one occurrence of this is minimal but if the law were actually enforced and he were repeatedly put away for the same offense, eventually there would be a consequential penalty.

          I hate to sound harsh but I am a strong believer in the broken windows theory and this polar shift to not enforcing anything really is not a good move.

          • B.B. says:

            Yes, indecent exposure is against the law in NYS. Good luck though in getting NYPD to arrest, and or DA to prosecute.

            Maybe under Rudy G’s time or before you’d arrest and throw someone into jail for dropping his pants in public; it likely will take far more today.

            Farebeating on MTA subway and buses is rampant. So is pot smoking every where you turn, none of which seem to bother NYPD or various borough district attorneys.

            As for urinating or whatever in public; city long instructed NYPD that such offenses were not going to be prosecuted by arrest, but suspects merely issued a bench ticket requiring them to appear in court. There if found guilty there is a small fine.

            As one stated, NYPD responds to calls about the homeless all day/night long. Much of it is busy work; that is telling them to move along out of a doorway or something. Unless they are committing a *crime*(and we mean just that, something more than going to the bathroom in public), and or a serious threat to themselves or others, they usually are left alone.

            Jails and prisons have become the new de facto mental hospitals in the United States. Scores of those suffering from mental illness do things that bring them into contact with the legal/criminal justice system. Questions now being asked is if this is the proper use of funds/resources.

        • Jen says:

          Very sad. Very helpless situation. We want these people off the streets but we don’t have a place for them to go.

        • carol says:

          In short what B.B. is saying is the liberals have made our bed,now we have to lie in it.

          • EricaC says:

            Carol, it is a combination – liberals stood up for Constitutional rights without making sure they could follow through. Conservatives made sure we did not spend the money to follow through.

        • Old Judge says:

          Much of the logic behind deinstitutionalization was that the severely mentally ill could be treated more humanely and cheaply with anti-psychotic medicines. Perhaps they could, but the drugs (haldol etc.) had terrible side effects and the releasees stopped taking them. And there was no way to compel the ex-patients to take them.

          Getting rid of the large mental hospitals saved money but made it impossible to readmit large numbers or psychotic former patients.

          So here we are.

    7. James says:

      The police department have been directed by the Attorney General’s office not to bother with quality of life arrests. he has stated that he will not prosecute so fare beaters public intoxication public urination defecation the police have no choice they cannot make an arrest it’s that simple I have lived in this city my entire life and and the streets are heading back to the good old days of the 70s where drug dealing was done openly and people did anything they wanted and the police were directed to look the other way by our proud Mayor Dinkins. The answer is fairly simple let the police do their jobs and have the courts back them up there have been some of the uses of this in the past but the solution that they have come up with is beyond absurd. the progressives I’ve come up with all this without any consideration of the impact it has on people who have to live with this day in and day out Mayor de Blasio has done absolutely nothing while he’s in office except take hundreds of millions of dollars from the city for worthless programs that nobody knows anything about

      • Maria says:

        Well, then, let’s forget about being progressive and too-too PC and vote for a better candidate next time! De Blasio is term-limited (right?) so let’s not replace him with a similar type. (Not saying I know who that would be, but simply going for the maximum anti-Trump candidate won’t help to solve our problems.)

      • Cato says:

        — “The police department have been directed by the Attorney General’s office not to bother with quality of life arrests.”

        Neither the New York Attorney General nor the United States (federal) Attorney General has the authority to direct local law enforcement what kind of arrests may be made.

        You were likely thinking of the New York District Attorney, who has said that he will not prosecute many “quality of life” violations. (Still, even the DA lacks the authority to direct the police whom they may or may not arrest — but when the DA says he won’t prosecute, that sends the message that any such arrest would be a waste of time, so the police don’t waste their time.)

        I don’t mean to quibble, but we get to speak our minds when each of those people stands for re-election — so please know who it is with whom you are unhappy.

      • Beth says:

        There were people selling drugs and smoking crack in public outside my building during the Bloomberg Administration, so the reality is that these quality of life issues have never gone away.

    8. Daniella says:

      The public lawlessness in Manhattan has elevated to new heights recently. In the past few months alone, I’ve seen someone openly snorting cocaine on the subway (in front of young children), people physically assaulted on the subway, homeless people publicly exposing themselves, and more.

    9. Scott says:

      It would seem John Tucker would be a good candidate for Thrive’s intervention. But that would assume Thrive is dedicated to addressing mental illness rather than patronage for Bill and Chirlane’s friends and cronies.

    10. B.B. says:

      None of this is really news.

      Walk down any street or avenue in Manhattan and chances are night/overnight you’ll find homeless camped out in retail/commercial doorways. If the property is vacant often they just set up permanent housekeeping.

      This is especially true of retail/commercial properties that have awning, and or those sidewalk enclosures meant to protect customers from weather.

      Banks have placed security guards at indoor ATM locations to stop homeless from camping out overnight. That isn’t just about a cleanliness or whatever issue, but potentially one of security as well.

      Someone trespassing in an enclosed supposedly secure location while customers deposit or withdraw funds opens up a huge security and thus liability issues.

      Manager of my bank branch said the decision was made to have security overnight came after complaints of homeless panhandling.

      All this from a mayor and city that spends three (three) billon USD of taxpayer money on the homeless.

      I for one have seen very little evidence of all that money being well spent. Subways, streets, parks, etc… are filled with homeless.

    11. Leon says:

      We have gone from one extreme (stop and frisk, etc.) to the opposite extreme where there is virtually no policing. Basic quality of life enforcement is critical to this city. We are allegedly investing a fortune in social services, so let’s use them to help these people out, rather than having them living on the streets. They have rights but so do we – in our efforts to protect civil rights we have gone way too far.

      • Maria says:

        Leon, yes, I think yours is a good assessment of the problem. It seems that someone has to get hurt badly in order for the police to act — and I realize that they are constrained against acting on quality of life violations. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but just wait until warmer weather and the spread of disease and vermin. Then what can be done?

        • Jen says:

          Back in 2000 I was almost stubbed by a homeless woman on my way to work, around 86 st. No provocation whatsoever, I didn’t even see her. Someone upset her and she lashed out at the first person which happened to be me. The police came and arrested her. They didn’t take mine or witnesses statement and there were 4-5 willing people. They said it is useless, she is going to spend a night at the psych ward and then get released back in the street. Overnight only because she missed when she was trying to stub me with a huge knife. If she were luckier, they said she would have gone to the hospital for a few weeks and then again back on the streets.

          So no, even when something happens, there are no consequences or meaniningful actions.

    12. j says:

      I have heard that John Tucker grew up on the West Side and started spiraling down in his 20s. Tragic and terrifying.

      The young homeless people are mostly from out of town. (Sometimes referred to as “crusties”) They are in other cities such as Austin, LA, SF.

      NYC’s homeless situation is terrible, no question.
      But things are even worse in SF.

    13. B.B. says:

      Does anyone know the deal with the tall gentleman who occupies Broadway and 79th?

      He’s always out there walking in traffic, ranting, raving, talking to himself, singing, dancing and so forth in the center islands. Either there or on either of the four corners.

    14. Anne Buckley says:

      I recently moved to Riverdale and I’m not saying there are not homeless people but few and far between. The last time I was in the city I was at the 96th St. station and Broadway. There was a very disturbed man who was watching me. I was nervous about him.
      I love the UWS but feel like the homelessness is out of control.

    15. PM says:

      Don’t let NY become LA or Seattle which have miles and miles of homeless encampments, people crapping, addicts shooting up in plain sight, and extreme crime.

    16. Jan says:

      Ruining our real estate values
      Could be the ruination of our great city
      Clearly something must be done a plan
      Created and immediately

      • dannyboy says:

        So it’s “ruining real estate values” that “could be the ruination of our great city” that creates urgency that “Clearly something must be done a plan Created and immediately”.

        Are these the New Upper West Side values?

    17. JS says:

      A possible reason for the increase is the food programs in the area – including Rutgers Church, Blessed Sacrament, Stephen Wise, NCJW and others

      • B.B. says:

        Many, many, *many* houses of worship in NYC have not only various soup kitchens, clothing distribution and other services for the homeless, they also explicitly allow them to set up camp/sleep on their stairs/property overnight.

        IIRC Rudy G. tried to put a stop to this when he launched his crackdown on the homeless, and religious leaders told him to go and pound salt. It was their property and if they wanted to let anyone sleep on their steps or whatever city could do nothing.

        Was walking up Park Avenue a few nights ago at about 62nd street when came upon an “encampment” of homeless setting up their cardboard shacks or otherwise getting ready camp out for the night. Was thinking “oh the neighbors around here must be loving this….”.

    18. Dan says:

      Weird, I’ve lived on 73rd for almost a year but I don’t think I’ve met John Tucker. Must be very lucky, or very unobservant.

    19. Bill Williams says:

      Welcome to the UWS. I love the outrage of all the newcomers. John Tucker is no Larry Hogue. Am I right?

    20. B.B. says:

      It is important in this discussion to point out that not all homeless are mentally ill. You have no small number of persons who simply by choice and or circumstances do not have housing, but otherwise are perfectly sane.

      Other thing worth noting is that not all homeless (mentally ill or otherwise) are indigent. Many *do* have some sort of income, they just cannot find housing at affordable rents. Again the loss of SRO housing has been a blow all sorts of homeless.

      Have stood in lines at banks with “homeless” persons who went up to tellers and transacted business. Since most banks these days long have stopped making change or whatever for those who do not have accounts, these people must have.

      If disabled (including mental illness) the homeless at least get Medicaid. Then you have veterans, those with small pensions (private and or otherwise), even savings or trusts. You also have a good number of employed persons who are homeless. All have same thing in common, they cannot afford housing.

      Sort of homeless seen in areas does seem to vary. Union Square, Astor Place, East Village, “down town” areas then to skew with younger demographics (teens, young adults) who range from runaways, those suffering mental illness, crusties, substance abusers, etc.

      Further downtown the old Bowery area long was known as skid row.

      Finally should point out that while not often nor soon as many would like; homeless persons causing a public nuisance and or other issues are dealt with by the NYPD.

      To wit the famous “Spitting Lady Of The UES”:

    21. anonymous says:

      I have lived on the UWS for 26 years and JT has been around, primarily in that VS spot, as long as I can remember. He is obviously quite disturbed but I have never seen him be menacing or threatening. I’m not saying it has never happened – just saying I’ve seen him 100+ times, mostly just muttering to himself.

    22. B.B. says:

      In case anyone is wondering no, the issue with mental illness with our without the mitigating circumstances of homelessness is not just a NYC thing. It is happening all over the USA.

      To wit:

      Mentally ill just cycle in and out of the criminal justice system. Once they’ve “paid their debt to society” for whatever offense or criminal charges it isn’t the job of LE or justice system to monitor or whatever. So these people do not get services they require and we all suffer in the end.