Hudson Square Meets SoHo West

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

— Wm. Shakespeare

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

For more than 20 years I’ve been complaining, no, railing about the fact that the cars and trucks heading for New Jersey have been aiming at pedestrians Downtown. Then, after spending eight years on Community Board #2 trying to grab anyone who would listen — that there is no enforcement in SoHo/Hudson Square to stop vehicles from hitting people trying to cross the street, I left. Partly, because I was sent up the river for writing about Thomas Spota, the D. A. in the Hamptons — who has now been incarcerated.

I sent letters to D.O.T. and got a lot of bullshit responses claiming that they were working on it. And, they were. Only ENFORCEMENT was never part of the plans. Traffic flow, groins, patterns, routes, studies — were all part of the routine that has enabled D.O.T. to continue its lovefest with CB2. Letters to Downtown politicians, from Assemblymember Glick to Corey Johnson in the City Council as well as members of the Traffic & Transportation Committee on CB2 got residents nowhere.

Enter the Hudson Square BID and the Bigs who also have influence with the City Council. Why? Well, apparently, the fact that a new condo has been built at 565 Broome Street, a block away from where the real crime scene has been located for more than 20 years — Broome Street turning into Watts and the Holland Tunnel, West Broadway and Broome, Varick and Watts, Varick and Grand, and ALL of Canal Street — has awakened the local “leaders.” NOW that the condo corner has been impacted, pedestrians have become important. Suddenly, the fact that pedestrians have been hit or killed by cars matters.

As one local activist reported:

“Hudson Square BID, Cory Kunz and Sean Lewin appeared at the 1st Precinct Sector D meeting on Dec. 15; their plight was getting traffic management at the corner of Varick and Broome, where there was such “horrendous” traffic.
Dan Miller, “2nd” chair of CB’s Traffic and Transportation also commented about this particular corner at the CB2 Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting in December. Dan sits on the Hudson Square BID board (the sole “community”) member and also the HPRT (Hudson River Park Trust).
All these guys name-dropped they had been touring that corner with either Corey Johnson or someone from Corey’s office.”

So, there you have it. Nothing is in the works for the rest of us slobs in SoHo West who have been dealing with and getting hit by vehicles rushing to New Jersey — because there is zero enforcement. But, had we purchased a condo at 565 Broome Street and had “a couple of teeth in our heads and a few friends in town,” perhaps Shirley Secunda or the new Board Chair Ms. Kiely might try to help save pedestrians from being killed.

Crossing Canal
Crossing Watts

Traffic-Con in SoHo

“Truth is like the Sun. You can shut it out for a time but it ain’t goin’ away.”

— Elvis Presley

So, in my demented idealism, having fervently believed that the political process can make a difference I started out twenty years ago trying to do something about the dangerous traffic conditions in SoHo. I fully understand that getting to New Jersey is important. Especially, if you live there. And, I also understand that pedestrians are an interference for cars as well as bicycles. Further, I understand that West Broadway, Broome Street, Watts Street, Prince Street, Spring Street and parts of Houston Street are great places for tourists to be entertained and fed. But, there are people in SoHo who depend on their legs and feet to carry them, including tourists who luckily find parking spaces and then have the same problem trying not to be hit by a speeding Porche.

No one wants to get hit, hurt, or killed crossing the street — even if the Traffic guards ARE too busy directing vehicles to New Jersey and practically finding crosswalks irrelevant. Canal Street and Varick Street between Canal and Watts are just such a location. This has added to the extension of Chinatown so as to be renamed SoHo South or Chinatown North. We can thank the developers who have stacked the Planning Board for that. I won’t even attempt to defend the fact that Art and Artists for the success of SoHo because they’re long gone. What is left are condos, vacant stores and restaurants who have extended their rentals to what used to be parking spaces.

The point of this is that after being hit by several vehicles that have eliminated crosswalks and Traffic Agents who clearly are so overworked that pedestrians are their least concern, I’ve had to make the choice about HOW SERIOUS my wound was. Do I go to a hospital, a doctor, or a radiologist? Do I call the police? Or, do I forget it because everyone is going to be annoyed because I’m still walking. I’m not dead. So, how bad could it be? The car took off to New Jersey, the Traffic cop was busy with traffic and he doesn’t give out tickets or report accidents. What do I want from him? I’m annoying him. As I drag my left leg along hoping that the pain will subside I called the police but they can’t get through and the three cop cars with sirens were headed to dinner or mabe a murder. Calling in a report got me two guys showing up 5 hours later in my apartment. Apparently, I could walk, so what’s the problem? The fact that the car that hit me this time (since the previous time I was hit the car was from Georgia and presented insurmountable problems for NYPD and Georgia), did not leave me with crippling damage. The time before that I tapped on the rear of the car on line along Varick Street and the driver got out and started screaming at me for touching his car.

I contacted Shirley Secunda, the Chair of The Traffic and Transportation Committee on Board #2 and let her know what was going on downtown in my article and a letter — I mean further downtown below Greenwich Village where real damage is being done and where the developers are no longer satisfied with artists and condos. Now, they want to build the new election catchword for politicians — affordable housing. It doesn’t matter that the warehouses that artists managed to eke out an existence in, charged fixture fees and they got bought out by owner-developers who made a fortune on their backs. Now, the jealousy of REALLY big money is dangling the prospects of windfalls courtesy of the Planning Commission who is causing the developers to salivate by pushing the affordable housing button. Of course, no one ever tells the truth about real affordable housing. The most recent building in SoHo that pushed that concept, 111 Varick Street, finally has a waiting list that could put you on the street or living in your car before you got an apartment. And, then there’s the fiction that HPD comes running when rent-stabilized apartments have a problem. In my building, operated by criminals, not even 311 will accept a heat complaint because the HPD complaint system is so fucked up. When I finally sent a letter to HPD an inspector came around — two weeks later. There was heat by then because they called the landlord before heading over. No violation. Imagine how much time these new developers will devote to helping tenants in the affordable housing units once the condo units are sold in the SoHo-NoHo rezoning?

Secunda is a nice person. I knew her on Community Board #2. We were there together when Bob Rinaolo was arranging for his people to get liquor licenses and pushing members to vote in favor of his parcel for a local nursing home for $5 mil. I don’t know the new Chair of the Board Jeannine Kiely but I can say that the Board meets periodically with the DOT. The presentations and reports they review involved groins, curbs, traffic plans. The same ones that the DOT has been pushing down our throats for the last 20 years I’ve been writing about it.

Nothing about enforcement and the fact that people are being hurt and killed is in those reports. No one gives a shit. After twenty years of writing about it I can say that with certainty.

I sued the City to get their attention because the Community Board is nothing more than a repository of political bodies in return for campaign donations and fealty unless you still believe a politician is going to help you without campaign checks. (with a few notable exceptions like Schumer and Hoylman). And, you know what? I got to have a PRE deposition called a 50-H hearing that Mayor de Blasio arranged. Well, maybe not personally.

A pleasant woman got on the zoom call, told me that she occasionally shops at Gouret Garage and asked me about my latest unfortunate experience of being hit by a car that had no insurance, no registration and a phony license. You know, a Hit & Run in disguise. The 50-H hearing, conducted by Kathy Fata of Colón & Peguero LLP, was instructive. First of all, there were to be no notes, no recordings and no testifying. She questioned and I answered. She asked me why I crossed the street, did I go in front of the car or behind the car that hit me. I thought that the fact that I was in a crosswalk and the car rammed me was fairly obvious. She asked me how I was. Not like, how was I, but like what was damaged and did I go to a hospital and call the police. She didn’t really give a shit how I really was. But, then it got better. Did I owe any taxes? Do I have a tax bill with the City? Obviously, she was figuring that if I ever got a payoff for their fucking all of us over in SoHo they’d want to be able to claw it back before I ever saw a check.

Then she quickly moved on to whether I had a criminal history. Because you know when you’re a felon you deserve to be hit by a car. And, I was starting to get excited. About the fact that I wrote about corruption in the Town of Southampton where all of the Swells and Wall Streeters hide out — and the Hamptons D.A.s office where I was asked to accept 44 felonies as a result of my articles about racism and political payoffs by D.A. Thomas Spota (who was just incarcerated for witness tampering, essentially prosecuting opponents and journalists, obstruction of justice, and operating a pay-to-play legal system) — otherwise the D.A. would destroy my family.

Which he did anyway.

Fata didn’t want to hear about any of that. In fact the 50-H hearing was a fraud. It was a way of getting info to use against the plaintiff — a fishing expedition to be used so that the Truth never comes out.

Neither the City nor any of the elected officials give a shit.

Look for my first book coming out in 2022.

Stay Tuned.

Denial: Not Just a River in Egypt

“He said, ‘What makes a man a writer? Well,’ I said, ‘It’s simple. You either get it down on paper. or jump off a bridge.”

— Henry Bukowski

As we wend our way through the fog of democracy, Manhattan is starting to look like a shelter for liberals and conservatives who have not yet lost their minds. Eric Adams is the new mayor-elect, Vance will be replaced by Alvin Bragg, Letitia James remains as the Attorney General and the Public Advocate is once again Jumaane Williams.

Adams seems like a smart guy who, since he’s a former cop, may turn out to be more conservative than expected. Bragg seems competent and follows on the heels of Vance, who I helped during his first election. Neither seem like guys who will take a lot of bullshit. James is adored by Downtown but I found her office unresponsive and strangely disinterested — especially, when trying to get help with a criminal landlord. Williams, a former City Council Housing Committee Chair was useless in his former role. Multiple attempts to get assistance went nowhere.

Former D.A. Thomas Spota, in the Hamptons, and his assistant bag man Christopher McPartland, just turned themselves in to Federal prison for five years for operating a criminal enterprise out of the D.A.’s office. The Pay-to-Play operation involving judges and the court system, however, remain. Unfortunately, having done four years courtesy of New York State for having written about that cabal — left me with zero options, no job, and no money. Spota keeps a checking account with $17 million in it, plus a $9,000 dollar pension. It’s good to be a real crook — not some “schmuck-on-wheels” as Murray from Goodfellas said — who believed in 1st Amendment protections. Now there’s denial for you!

Here in America many waited for Trump to leave and anyone else to arrive. Of course, no one expected that after the Mueller report, the truncated whitewash of Russian-American cooperation, a Congressional investigation into January 6th, the failed Bugs Bunny coup and a now anticipated invasion in Ukraine — as those who support the current Constitution try to rewrite the script for “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” of current politics. There are a few commentators out there like James Carville who have been screaming and jumping up and down but, then, again, most of us continue to be in denial. Frankly, Putin seems to be a good bet for our next Vice Presidential candidate. We’re years behind in weapon systems, appallingly behind in internet security, and we are very nice to those who want to destroy our democracy and kill us. We just stand by as Racial cooperation, political activism, Truth, National Security and common sense are eviscerated.

Many of us have decided that, as Ronnie Reagan said when he quoted Larry Hardiman, politics is derived from “Poly” (as in many) and “ticks” (as in blood suckers). We are all seriously in Denial.

Stay Tuned and Happy Holidays!

Traffic and Transportation in SoHo

September 29, 2021

Re: Pedestrian safety in SoHo

Shirley Secunda, Jeannine Kielly, Bob Gormley — Community Board #2

Dear Board Members,

It’s been some time since Shirley and I have spoken. We go way back. I’m contacting you because I’ve been keeping track of the myriad pieces of information regarding traffic flow and safety which emanates from the Traffic & Transportation committee. 

Since I’ve lived and worked in SoHo since the late 1940’s I have a unique perspective. And, as former Vice Chair of CB2 I’ve watched the ebb and flow of information and disinformation. 

I’ve read the most recent Full Board minutes from CB2 and it reminds me of the numerous reports, studies, research, which I wrote about in the 1990’s in The SoHo Journal. In one regard, nothing has changed. There is nothing about enforcement or pedestrian safety.

I was recently hit by a car turning the corner from Avenue of the Americas into Watts Street. We have one traffic agent from 4 p.m. to about 6 or 7 p.m. directing vehicles. That’s it!

He doesn’t give out tickets, he doesn’t prevent vehicles from completely blocking crosswalks and he doesn’t EVER assist pedestrians. In fact, people with baby carriages cross the street at great risk. People are often hit by cars and keep going because they know that there is no enforcement. In fact, I’ve even tapped the fender of a car because there was not enough room to cross the street with the light in the crosswalk. As the traffic agent looked on, the driver got out of his car and threatened me for tapping on his fender. The traffic agent did nothing.

Recently, after having been hit by a car heading for the Holland Tunnel I reported this Hit & Run to the police. They did nothing after interviewing me. The vehicle sped away.

So, enforcement is non-existent in SoHo. Do not waste your time discussing ANY reports about how the CIty plans to change traffic flow until enforcement is addressed. Otherwise, DOT is perpetrating a fraud on CB2 and SoHo residents. And, until this issue is dealt with, your committee, from the point of view of the community and pedestrian safety, is a waste of time. This is an issue that Kavanaugh, Glick and Chin are all intimately familiar with and nothing has been done. Meanwhile pedestrians are killed, maimed and damaged by the inactivity. 

I recommend taking action before the lawsuits begin.

Oh, and by the way, you’ve been through many scandals at CB2 and I”m sure you’re aware that I’ve had my own. Even though I never heard a word of support from any of the members of CB2 or any other politician aside from Brad Hoylman, I wanted you to know that after being coerced into taking a plea for my writing about corruption — and spending four years in prison, the SoHo Journal is alive and well and publishing,

And, as a result of my writing, D.A. Thomas Spota, who prosecuted me for exposing corruption in his office and racism in the Hamptons, was recently sentenced to 5 years in prison.

D. Clark MacPherson

The State of SoHo and So Forth

“Things change.”

–Don Ameche

After complaining about traffic in SoHo and warning that pedestrians are being hit by vehicles rushing to New Jersey at an alarming speed — some character in a Jeep decided to accelerate as I was crossing IN the crosswalk, WITH the light, while being watched by a Traffic cop. It took 20 years. But, it was bound to happen because the City of New York, despite its many Traffic plans, doesn’t give a shit about pedestrians. Only lawsuits. So, I’m suing them. During all of this time, Sadik-Kahn from the DOT a biker who worked for Bloomberg, was able to get bike lanes installed all across the city. What did that dynamic duo do for pedestrians? Nothing. What does that tell you? Nothing. I have a bad back and too bad for me. As well as a lot of other people — some of whom are dead.

What I did learn was, that there are Traffic Agents and then there are Department of Transportation Agents. One gives out tickets and the other directs traffic. They don’t do the same thing or even talk to each other. So, you guessed it. The guy on the corner of Watts and Thompson who stands on the corner, occasionally hiding out with a SWAT team of ticket issuers, can’t walk a block over and ticket the vehicles trying to hit me or the woman pushing her baby carriage while in the crosswalk — with the light. But, the Traffic Agent does watch out for the bike riders. What a relief!

And, then we have Law & Order SVU. Those of you who have been reading the SoHo Journal blogs and magazine since the 1990’s know that film crews are favorites in SoHo. Not of the residents, though. They’re popular with the Police. They are so popular, in fact, that if you park legally the cops will still tow your car somewhere else. So, here’s a brief warning. As we exit the pandemic (in the minds of many, not in reality), the film crews are returning. Like the one which takes place this coming week. “SVU Season 23” begins shooting in SoHo. Naturally, Law & Order is not suffering since they have our neighborhood as a free back lot. Along with a Police escort that allows them to hobnob with the stars — well, maybe not real Stars. These Stars are starting to look a little rough around the edges and Dick Wolf doesn’t really need the money, especially with a net worth of $550 million. But, hey, who am I to complain about how he’s going to pay for his next cheeseburger? Except that WE won’t be able to walk down our streets, park a car or find a space in OUR neighborhood or avoid the line for our new Covid-19 test clinic now located in a residential building with kids who are unable to be vaccinated. The landlord decided to install a pop-up testing facility in one of our storefronts without any notice.

We’ll have lines of possibly Covid-19 infected people without masks lined up and mingling with the Law & Order stars at the film caterer tents. You know, it’ll be like the old days — another film shoot, where “Night of the Living Dead,” meets “Law and Order in SoHo.”

So, in anticipation of the party it is not-exactly SoHo, also known as SoHo West or Hudson Square, depending upon whether you’re a greedy landlord, Felix Sater or Ivanka Trump trying to sell another condo in the now-defunct Trump SoHo. It’s now The Dominick, of course — which has reopened. However, be forewarned. Stay away. The real SoHo attractions are no parking, the Holland Tunnel traffic whether you are driving or walking and, now, Law & Order “Stars”, lines of possible Covid-infected patients without masks, and building owners who would sell Dracula’s blood to a hospital ICU if they paid in cash. Fortunately, Fashion Week, which AOC got a free ticket to while others paid $35,000, is over and, yes, you missed the invite.

It’s starting to feel like the rich are all around us and WE are all being ignored by the politicians and screwed. Is this the new Gilded Age? Maybe. Is this a precursor to the Bradley-Martin Ball of 1897 and we haven’t been invited to the Waldorf?

Stay Tuned.

SoHo parking sign.

NIMBYism or do 60 families with children deserve a break? Pop up residential Covid-19 testing?
West Broadway storefronts
Prince Street restaurant arcade
West Broadway redux
Crosswalks and Traffic Agent security in SoHo? Cross at your own risk.

The Reckoning for SoHo

“In politics stupidity is not a handicap.”

— Napoleon Bonaparte

Having written several articles about a newly popular political concept called Affordable Housing, I’d like to revisit the issue since it has become a cudgel for developers and politicians trying to justify the rewards they’ve received for having delivered the goods to their deep-pocketed business friends. I mean, where were these socially responsible City Planners when the 100,000 rent-regulated apartments were litigated off the table. Where were they when landlords were using the litigate to evict ploy like a couple of former dentists downtown? The newest case in point is the ongoing SoHo/NoHo Rezoning Plan. How many Affordable apartments are they going to provide compared to those losses?

The current state of this plan is that since May there have been meetings to move it along as quickly as possible. Currently, it has devolved into a mud-slinging contest apparently pitting the residents against the monied-interests being pushed by City Planning whose official role is:

“To be responsible for the conduct of planning relating to the orderly growth and development of the City, including adequate and appropriate resources for the housing, business, industry, transportation, distribution, recreation, culture, comfort, convenience, health and welfare of its population.”

Got that? Welfare of the population? Not the Welfare of the Mayor. So, who does he work for anyway? The residents who elected him as their servant? I don’t think so. Who do the Borough Presidents answer to who appoint the members of that commission? The voters?

So what we have here is a shell game. All of these characters are supposed to give fealty to us, the voters. But, it turns out that they don’t work for us at all. They work for the people who pay them — one way, or the other.

Supposedly, this is a plan that “the Mayor wants.” It reminds me of the Trump Soho project that “the Mayor,” Bloomberg at the time, wanted, and his City Council underling and Speaker Christine Quinn, who helped push through his third term as Mayor, fended off an investigation into the perks of office called Slushgate, and saved Trump SoHo. At the time, neither of them were antagonistic towards The Donald and his goonies from Kazakstan. It even saved The Villager publisher John Sutter from having to reverse the sale of some very profitable air rights to the likes of Felix Sater and his money-laundering friends. When I pointed this out to his editor Lincoln Anderson, he was instructed to produce a hit piece on me — as if Bob Clifford, the Joseph Goebbels of the now convicted D.A. Thomas Spota, who prosecuted me for writing about his corruption, wasn’t enough. After a number of media sales, the archives wound up with community leviathan Schneps Media.

But back to Afffordable Housing and SoHo. City Planning is now prosecuting this plan to add more commercial real estate, more gallery space (Art for the Masses?), more artist’s spaces, and, last but not least, more affordable housing. Okay, and just to add to the usual suspects, it’s not Edison or any of the other Masters of the Universe of Manhattan realty who have already spread around cash and are involved. It’s respected institutions like New York University that want this — for us and our children, mind you. Well, someone’s children, anyway — not anyone you know who resembles middle class lives in the neighborhood. That went out of style at NYU in the 1970’s unless you remained a cash-heavy Alumni. Even with corporate donations and a $4.4 Billion dollar endowment. Their current favorite rejection ploy is the “Wait List.” Believe me, I know, I earned three degrees at NYU. My children, however, have been wait listed numerous times along with multiple rejections for me for additional graduate degrees.

So, here’s how Affordable Housing really works. First comes approval for whatever the developer wants to build. Second, comes selling or renting new units to the public at market prices. Third, comes the lists of units that are earmarked as “Affordable.” No sales rep at the new buildings have any information about affordable units since they receive no commission for renting them. Like the development of 111 Varick Street which had “Affordable Housing” signs plastered all of the building, it wasn’t until I made a few phone calls did I discover that HPD — the very agency that is supposed to force landlords to comply with the rules regarding heat, hot water, deteriorating walls and ceilings — handled the affordable units on its very own website. They can’t get existing rent-regulated tenants heat and they cannot get you an affordable apartment.

I applied for an affordable apartment at HPD and never heard from anyone — not to mention the fact that no one at 111 Varick Street knew about or could even advise me about which apartments were affordable or how much they were. Oh, and there was no phone number to call at HPD. The 111 Varick Street rental office ($4000-6000 a month for market rate apartments), couldn’t get me off the phone fast enough.

Now, take the the history of the 100 Varick Street building which sought and received approval for an eight story rental building through Community Board #2. The developer proposed affordable units for the community and was approved — and then sold the entire project to a developer who explained that he was going to build a hotel and had “as of right” ability to build thirty or forty floors if he did not get approval for 20 floors of condo units — affordable units were not mentioned any longer. It made everyone crazy but before this developer could even get that approval he sold the project again to the current developer who bought it — and built Twin thirty story towers. (The zoning had changed while the deals took place) A few Community Board members made out well on that deal and we now have mega condo towers known as Renzo Piano two blocks from The Dominick, where Trump once was. None of the units in its last iteration claimed to be affordable. Games were played upon us with Trump Tower, 111 Varick, Renzo Piano — because that is how developers treat the community. And, City Planning plays ball along with the politicians. The idea that new studio space, affordable housing, the arts in SoHo, making it more attractive to tourists and enabling the educational interests of the community with the SoHo/NoHo Partnership — is pure bullshit. It is nothing but a real estate play.

As one resident confided about City Planning said, “Look no further than former DCP Director Carl Weisbrod. He’s in a perpetual revolving door, private – public – private -public – private…The DCP is in bed with big real estate and the organizations that support big real estate. Google the DCP team leader of Soho/Noho rezoning, Sylvia Li, she’s on boards of real estate ‘non-profits.’ It’s really incredible, they don’t even hide the corruption.”

Its a money play using one of the most convenient agencies in New York — City Planning. The members have been chosen by elected politicians who owe someone — from the developer’s ranks. Politicians like Margaret Chin, who sold out SoHo long ago, in order to sell out the community. SoHo does not need more tourists, more art galleries, or more condos and certainly does not need any more commercial space. The artists have been gone for thirty years. Where was the City then? Oh, I forgot, the artists brought the developers so it didn’t matter when they were forced to leave. You think they’ll come back to more tourists and traffic?

The tourists overwhelm our streets so that pedestrians are routinely hit or killed, stores are vacant and boarded up in SoHo and the Village. And we need more commercial space for whom?

Yes, for the developers. Who’ve paid for it.

Stay Tuned.

The Rise of the Professional Tenant

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”

— Rodney Dangerfield

Among the problems that tenants and landlords face in this brutal on again off again pandemic, is the one that is surging just outside of expected norms. The abuses that landlords have used to evict people were based in part on “vacancy decontrol,” which allowed owners to raise rent-regulated rents to whatever the market would bear once an apartment was vacated. By whatever means necessary, it made sense for landlords to litigate the shit out of tenants in order to gain back certain apartments. In fact, in my own case the two Dentists that took over our building racked up nearly a half a million dollars in legal fees just to evict one family. While I know I’m popular, that’s pushing it.

No more. Vacancy decontrol has been scrapped, in part, owing to people like State Senator Brad Hoylman, a hard worker in the Legislature that got that killed. There’s now little advantage in evicting a paying tenant.

However, there is a subclass of people, not homeless or unhoused as they are now called in places like Venice Beach, who move in to apartments, hotels, motels, sublets and shared living situations — who have no intention of paying rent. These are people who are “on the grift” and who claim everything from mental illness to poverty. In fact, many of them have learned how to game the system at the expense of others, not just landlord-property owners. They also prey upon other tenants who pay their rent and have shared their apartments. Subletters or apartment shares can now simply stop paying any rent and refuse to leave like the krockers in Amsterdam. A city where — if anyone manages to get into your property — it’s your problem in getting them out. Meaning, you have to pay them to leave. Basically, it’s an extortion racket. With no law enforcement and no courts it will only get worse.

You would think that the City would assist someone with a rental apartment attempting to sublet space to others as some in my building do. Some tenants pay their rent from that income and essentially live rent-free. However, if you let someone into your apartment in Manhattan or elsewhere in New York City, don’t expect anyone to escort them out — like the Police or the Sheriff. Not going to happen. Of course, they may leave upon request. But, anything more than that, like pushing them out or changing the locks after putting their possessions in the hallway can earn you an arrest AND a lawsuit. In fact, it’s not just in New York City these days. A family in the Hamptons has recently been in the news for refusing to move out of a rental. A Cantor Fitzgerald executive recently refused to leave their Water Mill rental. In Hampton Bays, a hoarder has refused to leave the house she was renting. And, tenants like Nancy Strebel in the Hamptons have basically extorted money out of one motel owner because she’d rented a room and stayed for more than 30 days and then refused to leave. The same is true for hotels.

In some cases the only solution for exasperated owners or tenants sharing their apartments for a few weeks or months is to buy off the grifters because law enforcement will do nothing and the courts, when they reopen, carefully avoid assuming any responsibility. The rent laws need to be re-written to address this loophole caused by professional tenants.

So, keep in mind that if you rent a room to someone in your apartment whether you are there yourself or not, no one is going to come to your aid and move the offending party out for you. You’ll have to go to court for assistance. When they reopen, that is.

Stay Tuned, folks.

Turning a New Page on Justice.

“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

― Martin Luther King, Jr.

The recent election cycle was difficult and in some cases was contentious. Having known some of the candidates and having personally known a few of those who held the office of Manhattan District Attorney, this was an election that had added meaning. Morgy, or “The Boss,” as Robert Morgenthau was known among his employees was widely respected and served for decades. I remember interviewing him in his Hogan-era conference room after having been introduced to him by one of his trusted assistants, Julie Nadel, as he went on to describe his John Doe DNA concept — which protected victims from statute of limitations problems inherent in rape cases. It was a novel concept and it worked. I took some heat from his adversary but he won re-election. Even though Jim McManus, arguably one of the last of the powerful club leaders, supported a former judge by the name of Leslie Crocker-Snyder.

Cy Vance, Jr. ran for Morgenthau’s seat when, at age 90, Morgy decided to retire. Snyder ran against Vance and was defeated and Vance took over as District Attorney. Of course, while The SoHo Journal promoted the candidacy of both Morgenthau and Vance, I never expected the Spanish Inquisition. The issues in those Manhattan races were less explosive than the rampant corruption I was writing about in the Hamptons, which unfortunately destroyed my life and that of my family. Freedom of Speech, of course, does not guarantee Freedom from Retaliation. It was a classic case of prosecutorial malfeasance and the use of legal extortion to obtain convictions and D.A. Thomas Spota was well-versed in corruption and extortion. I took a plea to barely survive and was imprisoned for four years. Even my landlord joined the party and offered to help the criminal enterprise in order to get me out of my rent-stabilized apartment. How many poor, disadvantaged, minorities have been forced to choose between truth, innocence and prison by taking a plea in our society?

The issues of prosecutorial malfeasance and abuse, racial discrimination, criminal justice abuses and landlord harassment have all come out into the open now. Those elements have percolated to the top of the extortion racket used by District Attorneys like former Suffolk County D.A. Thomas Spota and his Assistant D.A.’s, who currently await sentencing for their convictions.

But, the success of Alvin Bragg as Manhattan District Attorney will now be able to address many of these issues for the benefit of all, not just SoHo residents. Hopefully, we can look forward to a new era of healing and appropriate criminal justice reform. Bragg has addressed this in his statement:

“I applaud all the candidates for their passion and ideas to transform the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, thank them for making me a better candidate and better prepared to lead the office, and look forward to working with them to bring the change that New York’s criminal justice system so desperately needs.”

“This has been a long journey that started in Harlem. And today, that 15-year old boy who was stopped numerous times at gunpoint by the police is the Democratic nominee to be Manhattan District Attorney.
We are one step closer to making history and transforming the District Attorney’s office to deliver safety and justice for all. One that ends racial disparities and mass incarceration. One that delivers justice for sexual assault survivors and holds police accountable. One that prosecutes landlords who harass tenants, employers who cheat their workers, and stands up to hate crimes. And one that stops the flow of guns onto our streets.
The road to reform will not be easy, but I promise that I will never stop working to deliver safety and justice for all.”

SoHo Alive!

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.”

— Hunter Thompson

Keeping in mind that most of what you read by journalists online or in newspapers these days is an alternate reality — whether from conspiracy-theory-addled conservatives or hypocritical liberals fleeing to the Hamptons. So here are some photos of the real current state of affairs in SoHo. The hotels have reopened, although several like The James are under different names and ownership. The Hampton Inn is now SoHo 54 on Watts Street and offers rooms with nothing — even WiFi and water costs extra. The restaurants and bars are serving again and the traffic is back with a vengeance. So here’s a look see so you can make up your own mind whether or not to visit.

Felix Restaurant
Broome Street Bar.
Crossing Broome Street.
West Broadway. Maybe leave the baby home.
Alain. Felix Restaurant owner.
SoHo developer Jay Schwimmer in his offshore hat making deals.