Mental Illness

“The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.”

— Joseph Heller, Catch-22

For those of you who are having a bad day, don’t read this.

There are a lot of “experts” on mental health out there. Many of them are practicing psychotherapists who charge upwards of $100-200 per hour either in person or via video for a 45 minute session. They may have an MSW, Counseling degree, M.A. or Ph.D. in Psychology, a Master’s in nursing, or other educational degree plus a license from New York State. They may even be an M.D. and be a psychiatrist. Some have personal analysis, postgraduate training, and experience in hospitals, clinics, rehab centers, nursing homes and prisons.

But, consider this. Our prison system in New York offers virtually no psychiatric care. And, those therapists who I’ve mentioned above? Most of them have no idea what they’re doing. At most, their “patients” feel better for the time during their session. So, of course, they have to return for more sessions like a crack addict.

But, that’s just my opinion and the opinion of many of those who ran psychiatric clinics. Why? Because, it’s not only Donald Trump who suffers from narcissistic injury. For the most part, those who enter “the business” are working through their own problems at the expense of their patients — those who do not understand what actually fosters change. And, by this I’m referring to the therapists. The main business of that business is finding and keeping patients.

So what. Freud bumbled through the fog. Jung was a little more crazy. Werner Erhard should have stuck with selling cars instead of pushing EST.

But, it does matter in the prison system. None of the so-called professionals treat the rampant mental illness in people who — drum roll here — are going to be released into our neighborhoods! Drug dealers, addicts, pedophiles, rapists, and killers. After the prison has worked with them all to make them crazier and seeking revenge. They release them in another form like Soylent Green.

The only psychiatric treatment is “The Box” for bad behavior and drug programs that conduct Pin-the-Tail and Duck-Duck-Goose to help them with their “creativity” to seek minimum wage jobs when they are released — instead of the $20,000 per week they were making if they resume selling drugs.

The few therapists hired by New York State know nothing about treatment in prison, the consultants have never spent one night in prison while they and professors at Columbia, NYU, John Jay, or Harvard spout gibberish and pontificate and have no clue about how to treat the — ready — more than fifty percent of inmates who suffer from mental illness.

The Mexican Mafia, Trinitarios, Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, MS-13, and Hells Angels taught me a few things after D.A. Thomas Spota and the politicians in the Town of Southampton managed to force me into prison for four years. But few, if any, of those running the Hamptons, SoHo or New York State realize the mental illness calamity that they are creating.

And, the inmates, like zombies on The Walking Dead are already being released.

Stay Tuned.

Thoughts on Murder

“Some people like what you do, some people hate what you do, but most people simply don’t give a damn.”

— Charles Bukowski

According to Sheriff Joe Lombardo, as reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, investigative reporter Jeff German was stabbed seven times in front of his home and died. Apparently, a local politician, Robert Telles, the Clark County Administrator, is the lead suspect. German was a relentless critic of the corruption in the Telles administration. Of course, innocent until proven guilty, he’ll still have to explain the big straw hat, orange jacket, and sneakers worn by the perp and caught on video. Telles also happened to have cuts on his hands, drove a car that was seen perusing the neighborhood and then had a standoff with police. Plus the clothes in the video were ripped up and found in his house. The fact that Telles is a Democrat, of course, seals his fate.

It’s just another example of how we deal with Truth in this ‘Best of All Possible Worlds.’ At least German wasn’t chopped up like Khashoggi or shot like Politovskaya, who wrote “Is Journalism worth dying for.”

“Investigative journalists have long met with obstreperous and sometimes threatening subjects,” says the Los Angeles Times. Really? I guess with my four years in prison foisted upon me by former D.A. and now Federal convict Thomas Spota — I was lucky.

There’s a tree that’s in the way. Apparently, SoHo has reverted back to Hudson Square now that Trump SoHo has faded into the mist and its function as a Trojan Horse has now brought thirty story buildings downtown. The fact that Ivanka and Don Jr. managed to avoid being prosecuted for violating the Martin Act and Cy Vance had to return $60,000 to Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s attorney, was only in passing as the zoning was bumped up as a result of the 47 story hotel. Everyone was warned by people like Andrew Berman of GVSHP but with Bloomberg and Christine Quinn at the levers of power it was a done deal. The remaining power downtown, of course, rests with the King and Trinity Church. Not Charles III but William III.

So, of concern is the parcel bordered by Varick, Grand and Canal, a lot where for the past several years an outdoor party has been conducted by Gitano. Now that that particular party is over we get down to business — and where, ostensibly, a 27 story mixed-use building is going up at 76 Varick Street. Gitano’s Garden of Love is gone and permits have been filed.

But, what about that tree?

Apparently, a permit to remove that tree has been filed as well and was denied. A tree grows in SoHo? Or, is that Hudson Square? You know, where Occupy Wall Street protestors hung out for a few days. I followed them around down to Foley Square back when. That was before I was sent to prison for being a journalist and exposing corruption in the D.A.’s office and in Southampton. The Town’s economic racism is replete with fake liberals and white supremacists. Ordinary racism is just so passe’ and obvious these days, isn’t it?

Trees are people in SoHo. Tourists we have aplenty. Parks and Trees, not so much. But, if Trinity wants to build, at this point, they gotta go around that tree. Right?

We don’t need another murder.

Stay Tuned.

The Ubiquitous Comestible

  • “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. …
  • “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. .

Funny, right? How about a social media site called Truth Social? Inventive name, right?

A Geobbels used to say, “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”

Of course, the Ubiquitous Comestible was about margarine. It just sounds elegant. In fact, it was horrible stuff and was nothing but chemicals.

Actually, my personal feelings are that there is no point in telling the world what your personal views are about anything. Certainly not what the Truth is. But, as Don Ameche said, “Things change.” As those who disagree with Putin have found, you could find yourself jumping out of a window. Or, at least being asked to do so nicely — with a gun at your head.

Which is exactly how I was led to take a plea in this Best of All Possible criminal justice systems that we have in New York State. It didn’t matter that I was the subject of what’s called a vindictive prosecution for writing about corruption and a criminal who was part of the Hamptons power structure known loosely as the Southampton Sports club, or SS. While the D.A., head of that group, was subsequently imprisoned and now spends his time making license plates in Otisville, it did nothing for my financial, emotional and familial health. Truth is a very dangerous concept.

Keep your eyes peeled for my books about reality and truth. But, social media? I don’t think so.

VOTE!

A message from the SoHo Alliance about voting:

The local polling site reports no lines and a very light turnout. Consequently, your vote has great impact. 

Our neighbors in the Downtown Independent Democrats reform club have endorsed two great community activists, Vittoria Fariello for State Senate and Jo Anne Simon for Congress.  If you have not yet voted, please do so. 

Sunday is the last day of Early Voting. Polls are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at Saint Anthony’s church basement on Houston and Sullivan Streets. 

On election day, Tuesday, polls are open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm. Find your poll site here

Absentee ballots must be postmarked or brought to Board of Elections nearby at 200 Varick Street by Tuesday.

Sincerely,

Sean Sweeney

Director

SoHo Alliance

PO Box 429

New York, NY 10012

212-353-8466

info@sohoalliance.org

sohoalliance.org

That’s all folks!

SoHo Parks

Since it’s election season it might be a good idea to make a few suggestions to candidates. Maybe they could suggest that the Community Board even make an effort to:

  1. Protect pedestrians from vehicles that constantly hit them.
  2. Review construction sites and roadways where pedestrians are in danger.
  3. Think about a park — maybe even just one — that’s not only for dogs — that’s open.
Closed for 4 years for people
Open for dogs who pay

SoHo and The New Politics

”I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change.”

— Dan Quayle

Rather than pretend to understand the new political realities, here’s a missive from Sean Sweeney, the Godfather of SoHo politics. We rarely communicate. Sort of like the fact that I ate at the Broome Street Bar beginning in 1972 but only spoke to Ken or Bob once or twice in fifty years. I knew we got along because The Lofty Times, a magazine I published in 1977 was in “the book” kept behind the bar — allowing us to cash a check any time. Artist George Kokines poured drinks in those days. And Bob Bolles would knock a few down before heading over to work on his iron sculptures.

The following outline gives you a good idea about voting if you’re a Democrat. If you’re a Republican, my apologies. You’ll have to head out to the Hamptons.

Redistricting has placed SoHo/NoHo in brand-new Congressional and State Senate districts. 

Jerry Nadler will no longer represent SoHo and Carolyn Maloney will no longer represent parts of NoHo. Twelve candidates are vying to replace them. There is also a competitive race in the new State Senate district. 

Folk have been asking the SoHo Alliance for advice. We tell them the SoHo Alliance is non-partisan, but whoever wins the Democratic primary here invariably gets the office. Our politically-active neighbors in Downtown Independent Democrats (DID) have issued their analysis, a detailed two-page Voters Guide. Access and read it here

DID Endorses Jo Anne Simon for Congress & Vittoria Fariello for State Senate. 

Ms. Simon represents northwest Brooklyn in the State Assembly, where she has excelled in passing legislation on education, gun violence prevention, gender equity, paid family leave, equal pay for equal work, and voting reform, to list a few.

Assemblymember Simon is equally effective as a passionate community advocate for her district, having first-hand experience with rezoning — battling against displacement and for maximum affordable housing.

Jo Anne fought to save the Long Island College Hospital, demanded more affordable housing in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yard development, secured the city’s first traffic-calming study, and worked with her community to clean up the toxic Gowanus Canal.

There are other leading candidates. 

Yuh-Line Niou represents the Lower East Side and lower Manhattan in the State Assembly. She is a staunch progressive who listens to and works with the community and her constituents.

When redistricting saw suburban upstate first-term congressman Mondaire Jones in danger of losing his seat, he moved into our district in June. Jones has been a congressman for only one year and a neighbor for just one summer. There are more experienced candidates.

The lead lawyer in the Trump impeachment, Daniel Goldman, has Washington experience but little local. Although a TriBeCa resident for fifteen years, he has not been involved in local issues. Without a record, we have no idea how he would perform if elected.

City Councilmember Carlina Rivera:

– Led the fight to upzone SoHo/NoHo/Chinatown along with Margaret Chin — who has endorsed her.

– Pushed the $100 square-foot conversion fee to convert from JLWQA (artist housing) to straight residential use, a use-change fee imposed on no other neighborhood in the city.

– Voted to impose a Draconian recurring $25,000 fine on her own constituents who were not “certified” artists, which Mayor Adams fortunately vetoed.

– Supports the destruction of our beloved Elizabeth Street Garden.

DID endorses Jo Anne Simone for Congress.

********************************************************

DID Endorses Vittoria Fariello for State Senate.

Vittoria Fariello is challenging the incumbent, Brian Kavanagh. Mr. Kavanagh is a seasoned legislator but many say it is time for change: time for a representative who will engage and stand with our downtown community to find creative solutions to complex problems. Such a person is Vittoria Fariello.  

A downtown resident for 25 years, a public-service attorney and mother of four, Fariello serves as a local Democratic district leader. She is quick to challenge the maneuverings of the Manhattan political machine. Fariello changed party rules that allowed party bosses to abuse their power and she sued the party boss when he tried to disenfranchise grassroots activists. 

Vittoria began her public-service career as a community organizer, working with public-assistance recipients who had their benefits threatened by the Giuliani administration. She has worked with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and served in the Immigration Unit of the Legal Aid Society. 

Vittoria has been a leader of the Coalition for a 100% Affordable 5 World Trade Center, with preference for 9/11 survivors and first responders. She has pledged to fight for universal health care for all New Yorkers, full funding of the Environmental Bond Act, Green New Deal for New York, installation of offshore turbines, and a Green New Deal for New York. 

Christopher Marte has also endorsed Fariello, declaring “Vittoria Fariello unequivocally stands with the working people of Lower Manhattan. I’ve been with Vittoria on picket lines and at protests. Vittoria doesn’t waver from a fight and has impressed me with her commitment to the urgent needs of her future constituents.” 

**************************************

Early voting begins next Saturday, August 13 through Sunday, August 21 at St. Anthony’s church basement on Houston Street. Find precise days and times here.  

Election day is Tuesday, August 23. Find your poll site here

If you cannot vote in person, get your absentee ballot here

Turnout will be very low. Your vote is tremendously important.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS GUIDE TO FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.

Sincerely, Sean Sweeney, Director, SoHo Alliance, PO Box 429, New York, NY 10012

212-353-8466

info@sohoalliance.org, sohoalliance.org

Politics

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

–John F. Kennedy

For those of you who care at all about politics, you know, the business that Ronnie Reagan called the second oldest profession, the most interesting race in Manhattan is the upcoming brawl between Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney — two behemoths of the Democratic Party establishment. The recent court decision which identified the new boundaries of the 12th Congressional District pits Maloney against Nadler, two decades-long stars. The third leg of this ugly little imbroglio is a newcomer by the name of Patel. Apparently, no one knows much about him except that he’s likely to fuck up the election and might win if everyone gets pissed off enough about the situation.

Observers who witnessed the debate say that Nadler and Maloney looked tired. Well, who wouldn’t look tired after thirty years in politics? I mean, after living downtown for fifty years, being hit by cars and drivers who don’t give a shit about pedestrians, prosecuted by a criminal District Attorney in the Hamptons for exposing corruption, dealing with landlords who operated a sex-trafficking operation, and dealing with an apparently overwhelmed NYPD — I’m tired too. And, I’m not even getting paid!

But, this is a big deal. Just imagine the hostility and angst. The voters have to choose between two giants in the business. I’m not going to help you choose here because I don’t have a preference and don’t know enough. But, as Dan Quayle said, “A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.” So, vote. Here’s an ad that I received.

Hi,

UES Progressives is hosting a candidate forum TONIGHT, August 4th, at 7:00pm for the exciting Congressional race in NY 12. RSVP HERE to get the zoom link!

All three main candidates will be there:

So sign up and join us at 7:00pm TONIGHT and see what they have to say!

And remember that for this one election only, any registered voter can vote in any party primary. This is a great opportunity to involve your non-Dem friends, so let them know!

See you later!

Brian and Ting

The State of SoHo and Artist Lofts

Dear Resident —

Last week Governor Hochul signed a bill into law that now permits non-artist residents of SoHo and NoHo residing in units zoned for Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists (JLWQA) prior to December 15, 2021 to continue their non-conforming residency without any fear of penalties or fines.

This legislation, enshrined in the state’s Multiple Dwelling Law, legalizes the thousands of SoHo/NoHo non-artist residents who had been living in fear of eviction or governmental penalties, some of them for decades. You can read the law here.

The law, first proposed by the Coaltion for Fairness in SoHo and NoHo, was sponsored by Deborah Glick in the Assembly and by Brian Kavanagh in the State Senate. We applaud their efforts at removing this outdated zoning provision.

It remains to be seen how the city will handle new residents who move in after December 15. 

So far we have heard of no talk of the city suddenly enforcing the artist requirement on newcomers. However, the forces behind the rezoning, like the Department of City Planning, will likely still attempt to implement some of the onerous provisions of the upzoning, like the punitive $100 per square-foot filing fee for those residents who may want to convert from JLWQA to straight residential. Stay tuned.

*************************************

Absentee Ballots

You may recall that the political district lines initially drawn up this spring in Albany were thrown out by a court-appointed arbitrator and new lines had to be drawn. That took time. 

Hence a Democratic Party primary election for these two offices is now scheduled for August 23, mid-summer. This election will determine who will represent you in Congress and the State Senate in the years ahead. 

We expect turnout to be very low, especially since the election is during the vacation season. It is essential your vote be counted. Do not disenfranchise yourself. If you think you will not be in the city that day, please request an absentee ballot now. Click here https://nycabsentee.com/absentee

Sean Sweeney, Director, SoHo Alliance

PO Box 429 New York NY 10012 212-353-8466

info@sohoalliance.org — sohoalliance.org

NOTE: Currently, the Jackie Robinson Museum festivities are finally up and running. Due to this we will have a reprieve from the endless construction and debris around Grand Street until at least July 27th, at which time you’d have to assume that the temporary building will be removed and the gas line construction will continue.

The Candidates: Early Voting has Arrived!

Here’s your chance to show your Civic Pride in a world of confusion and danger to Democracy. So vote and “keep the faith baby” as Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. used to say — because this is the essence of what we are trying to protect. No matter what your take is on the obvious corruption and even criminality exhibited by those who would destroy our system — its full steam ahead. Vote, as if your life depended on it! Here are the suggestions from a reputable organization that I once was a member of — The SoHo Alliance — before the criminals in the Hamptons got their hands on me:

“Early Voting begins today and continues through Primary day, Tuesday, June 28. To find your polling site for Primary day, click here. To find the days and hours for early voting or for absentee ballot information, click here.

  *   *   *

Although the SoHo Alliance is non-partisan, the fact is that lower Manhattan has a 6-1 Democratic majority. It is inevitable that whoever win the Democratic primaries will be our next elected representatives. 

Below are the recommendations of the Downtown Independent Democrats, DID, our friends and neighborhood political activists. Voters may know whom they want for president or governor, but some “down-ballot” races are overlooked in the press. Thus these following recommendations:

66th Assembly  District – Deborah Glick

65th Assembly District – Grace Lee

State Committee Member – 65th Assembly District – Kathryn Freed

State Committee Member – 66th Assembly District – Rachel Lavine

Civil Court, 2nd District – David Fraiden

Manhattan Surrogate Court – Hilary Gingold

  *   *   *

66th Assembly District – covers the lower West Side, including SoHo, NoHo, Greenwich Village and TriBeCa.

Deborah Glick for Assembly 

This year we have a classic contest between an incumbent who supports residents and reasonable land development versus a novice candidate who is in the back pocket of the real estate lobby.

Deborah Glick is one of our strongest advocates in Albany for tenants’ rights. Glick sponsored and won renewal of the Loft Law. She was the most outspoken elected official in opposing the upzoning of SoHo/NoHo/Chinatown.

Famously championing women’s and LGBTQ rights, Glick’s leadership in passing the Reproductive Health Act has ensured protection of abortion rights in our state. She was the lead sponsor of the Women’s Health and Wellness Act that promotes early detection and prevention of certain medical conditions affecting women. 

In contrast to Glick’s support of residents over developers, her opponent, Ryder Kessler, is a well-funded shill for the real estate industry. Tellingly, 95% of his campaign contributions have come from special interests located outside our community.

Kessler won the endorsement of Open NY, a lobbying outfit founded by a wealthy landlord and heir to a steel fortune. Like Open NY, Kessler strongly supports the upzoning of SoHo/NoHo/Chinatown and the destruction of our beloved Elizabeth Street Garden. It is unclear what he actually does for a living. Yet he was able to loan his campaign $70,000. 

Go with Glick.

  *   *   *

65th Assembly District – covers the Lower East Side and southern Manhattan, including SoHo from the east side of Crosby Street to Lafayette/Centre Streets eastward

Grace Lee for Assembly

The district’s current assemblymember, Yuh-Line Niou, is stepping down to run for Congress in the August Congressional primaries.Several candidates are running for the empty seat. 

The D.I.D. has wholeheartedly endorsed Grace Lee, a passionate community organizer. 

Ms. Lee co-founded Children First, a parent-led grassroots coalition fighting for the safe cleanup of a toxic mercury site in the South Street Seaport. Her steadfast organizing in the face of intense opposition from the developer, the Howard Hughes Corporation, has secured strong oversight rules and an independent monitor for the site cleanup.

Lee ha­­s also worked closely with deaf tenants living in deplorable conditions at a Federal housing complex for the hearing and speech impaired on the Lower East Side, helping them stand up to their building’s management. Grace helped organize the largest Thanksgiving food drive in lower Manhattan, donating and delivering thousands of turkeys to families in NYCHA housing. 

Her opponents’ efforts to improve our neighborhood pale in comparison, if they exist at all. It is for these reasons D.I.D. endorsed Grace Lee in the 65th Assembly District

  *   *   *

Democratic State Committee — The most  important election you never heard of.

Kathryn Freed for State Committee in the 65th Assembly District

Members of the Democratic State Committee serve as the local representatives within the statewide Democratic Party organization. The State Committee sets party policy and endorses candidates for statewide office.

Two candidates are squaring off: Jenny Lam Low and Kathryn Freed. 

Ms. Low has been current State Committee member for the past fourteen years but has not once engaged with voters on party policy. She is employed as an advisor to the City Council Speaker and is a Board of Elections commissioner, a party-appointed patronage position. Ms. Low is part and parcel of the Democratic Party Establishment. 

On the other hand, Kathryn Freed is independent. 

Kathryn was a co-founder of the SoHo Alliance. We elected her three times as our City Councilmember in the 1990s. She owed her job to the voters and fought hard for us, not the bosses. Term-limited, she was then elected first to the Civil Court and then to State Supreme Court, retiring last year.

Freed has pledged to make the state party more transparent, less involved with insider politics, and more concerned with the needs of everyday New Yorkers. 

  *   *   *

Rachel Lavine for State Committee in the 65th Assembly District

Two candidates are competing for State Committee in the 66th Assembly District, Rachel Lavine and Erin Hussein. Hussein has run for City Council and we agree with many of her positions. However, incumbent Rachel Lavine has served us so magnificently that it would be folly to replace her.

For example, Lavine is co-founder and chair of the State Committee’s Progressive Caucus. Just one of Lavine’s accomplishments there was writing and passing a State Committee resolution calling for the banning of hydrofracking in our state, which in turn led to Governor Cuomo’s moratorium on the practice. Rachel currently serves on the board of Eleanor’s Legacy, which works to elect pro-choice women. She first worked as a litigator and then public-interest attorney at Safe Horizon, the city’s largest victims-service agency, advocating for survivors of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. Lavine is the one to go with.

  *   *   *

Judicial:

Civil Court, 2nd Municipal District – covers SoHo and parts of Greenwich Village, the East Village, Lower East Side and Chinatown

David Fraiden for Civil Court

Civil Court judges handle family issues, property damage, back rent, and landlord/tenant disputes. Two candidates are vying for this Civil Court seat. 

Carmen Pacheco lives in Brooklyn but is opportunistically running for the bench here in Manhattan. Worse, Pacheco has earned the dubious honor of being placed on the Public Advocate’s annual list of “Worst Landlords.” Do we want one of the city’s worst landlords adjudicating landlord/tenant disputes? She also has been accused of hurling racial slurs at a Black neighbor. 

On the other hand, David Fraiden, a Lower East Side lawyer and, until recently, a Federal immigration judge, has solid progressive and ethical credentials, has judicial experience — unlike his opponent — and has been endorsed by most of the local Democratic Party district leaders. 

  *   *   *

Manhattan Surrogate Court 

Surrogate Court judges hear cases involving wills, guardianships, adoptions, and the administration of estates. Two good candidates are contending, Elba Galvan and Hilary Gingold. After interviewing both at D.I.D.’s open public meeting, Downtown Independent Democrats endorsed Hilary Gingold for Surrogate Court.

For more endorsement information from Downtown Independent Democrats or how to get involved, visit their website here.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.

Sean Sweeney

Director

SoHo Alliance

PO Box 429

New York, NY 10012

212-353-8466

info@sohoalliance.org

sohoalliance.org

Stay Tuned folks.

And, keep your eyes open for my upcoming novels: Up & Away, Murder in SoHo, The Gulag, The Bonfire of the Hamptons, and The Snake Pit.