How Can New York Stop the City's Worst Landlords?

Photos by Jena Cumbo
90 Elizabeth Street, one of many NYC apartments with rent-controlled tenants.
When the trouble came to 90 Elizabeth Street, it arrived quietly, in a flurry of white papers. They blanketed the mailboxes and the front doors of many of the tenants in the modest Chinatown apartment building, a forbidding snowdrift of eggshell, piled with angry black type. When 43-year-old Betty Eng got home one spring afternoon last year, she found one waiting for her, too. It was a lawsuit, filed by her new landlords against her, her younger brother, her father, and her mother. Eng's mother, who is in her eighties, suffers from Alzheimer's disease and had recently moved into a nursing home. Eng's father had been dead since 2010.

The suit said that the Engs, who had lived in their apartment since 1970, a year before Betty's birth, weren't actually living there full-time, and thus were not legally entitled to the rent-stabilized unit. It warned that an eviction proceeding would be initiated against them. The suit also alleged that the Engs hadn't been paying the rent. But Betty had been paying, she says, sending the checks through certified mail. Each month, Marolda Properties refused to accept them. They piled up, uncashed.

"They were refusing them," Eng says. "The envelopes would just come back."

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Video: Why 'I Don't Want To Be the Hottest Chick at Comic Con'

Categories: Culture, Video

Ruby Taki and Cici James both competed in the cosplay contest at the recent New York Comic Con. One is a Japanese salesperson working in Manhattan; the other owns a sci-fi and fantasy bookstore in DUMBO. Although they come from different cultural backgrounds, the two shared a somewhat unpopular goal at Comic Con -- not being the hottest chick in the Javits Center.

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'Illiterate' Defendant Who Couldn't Understand the Word 'Attorney' Nonetheless Convicted

Categories: Courts

Photo Credit: .v1ctor Casale. via Compfight cc
A defendant in over his head gives a faulty confession.
When 18-year-old Willi Adames was held by police in connection with a fatal shooting in June of 2008, he ostensibly waived his right to an attorney before giving a detailed, recorded statement implicating himself in the crime.

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George Carlin Gets His 'Way,' Has Final Say With His Former Church

Categories: Bureaucracy

Via Wiki Commons
It took three years, two mayors, and, ultimately, two city blocks, but tomorrow New York City will finally rename part of one of its streets after George Carlin.

And the Catholic Church isn't even complaining. At least, not anymore.

Carlin, the comedian and iconoclast known for his profanity-laced rants skewering, among other things, religion and government, grew up on 121st Street and Broadway in Manhattan's Morningside Heights. A few years after his death in 2008, comedian Kevin Bartini -- who idolized, but did not know, Carlin -- learned that he lived only a few blocks from where Carlin grew up. When he walked over to Carlin's street and located his building, he was shocked to find nothing nearby commemorating the trailblazing comic.

See also: Seven Not-So-Dirty Facts About the Street Soon to be Known as George Carlin Way

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Pot Arrests Are on the Rise in de Blasio's New York

Categories: Drugs, Politics

When he was running for office last year, candidate Bill de Blasio warned of the "disastrous consequences" low-level marijuana arrests have for both the individuals caught with a small amount of pot, and their families. "These arrests limit one's ability to qualify for student financial aid, and undermine one's ability to stable housing and good jobs," the Public Advocate's campaign literature read. Even more troubling, it noted, was the fact that studies showed "a clear racial bias" in such arrests. As mayor, de Blasio swore he would order the NYPD to stop such arrests, but he hasn't. Low-level pot arrests are actually on the rise in de Blasio's New York.

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Skaters Bomb Broadway Despite Fear of NYPD Crackdown

Irene Nwoye
Broadway Bomb co-founder Ian Nichols (second from left), flanked by fellow longboarders
About 500 longboard skaters raced down Broadway from West 116th Street to the Charging Bull statue in the Financial District on Saturday, in the annual Broadway Bomb. Founded by two longboarding aficionados in the fall of 2002, the event sparked a media frenzy last year after the city imposed a ban, declaring it unlawful and dangerous. The boarders, however, defied the court order and showed up. The NYPD responded with arrests and summonses.

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Young People Still Long to Move to New York. They're Just Going to Buffalo Now

Categories: Politics

Photo credit: Doug Kerr via Flickr
Buffalo: Your new hipster paradise.

Looking for the young, fabulous people ready to make their mark on the big city?

Forget Brooklyn. It's all about Buffalo now.

At least, that's what this City Observatory report, picked up by the New York Times, suggests. Since 2000, Buffalo has seen a 34 percent spike in the number of recent college grads moving to the Queen City. Buffalo's growth rate for 25- to 34-year-olds came in seventh, after cities like Houston, Nashville, and Portland. Sister cool cities Baltimore and Pittsburgh have seen 32 percent and 29 percent increases, respectively.

And New York? The capital of the hip, the creative, the hungry?

This city's college-educated 25- to 34-year-old population has increased by just 25 percent over the same amount of time.

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Schneiderman Reminds the Voice, 'I Have Not Done Cocaine in 30 Years'

Categories: Drugs, Politics

Eric Schneiderman via
Updated at bottom, Monday, October 20, 3:15 p.m. In some bizarro-world, Donald Trump and Randy Credico might have been rivals in an election for New York State governor. (Credico lost the Democratic primary in September; Trump abandoned his bid for the Republican nomination in March.) Instead, the proud pothead (Credico, who campaigned as "the only politician in America who smokes pot...and will admit it") and the avowed teetotaler (Trump) are teaming up to accuse Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of being a total cokehead.

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What Happens If an Ebola Case Lands at JFK?

Last Saturday, New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport started conducting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's enhanced Ebola screening. JFK became the first out of five U.S. airports, including Washington-Dulles, Newark Liberty, Chicago-O'Hare, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta international airports, to begin the special screening exercise. The discovery that Amber Vinson -- the second Texas nurse who contracted Ebola -- was allowed to board a commercial airliner from Ohio to Texas while running a fever begs an obvious question for New Yorkers: What happens if an infected passenger arrives at JFK?More »

Campaign Against Violent Muslim Extremism Produces Longest Hashtag Ever

Categories: Religion

Courtesy Talib Abdur-Rashid
Muslim leaders denounced religious extremism Tuesday. Today, simultaneous sermons will speak out against violence.

Muslim leaders across NYC are preaching simultaneously today against religious violence. The move was announced earlier this week by the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.

"There are violent extremists who are Muslims, but their acts of terrorism are not Islamic," said council president Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, at a press conference Tuesday. "Our ultimate goal is to raise the level of awareness in a way that helps to inoculate the Muslim community against cries and appeals from elsewhere calling Muslims to violent extremism."

They'll be doing that not only with their sermons, but also with an...erm, unique social-media presence, noted Huffington Post religion reporter Jaweed Kaleem:

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Grieving Mother on Charges Against Cab Driver: 'It's a Traffic Violation for Killing a Child'

By now, 10 months on, the details of Cooper Stock's death are well-known: The nine-year-old was in the crosswalk, under the signal, holding his father's hand when he was run down by a cab driver a little after 8:45 p.m. on Friday, January 10, 2014.

Partly because of the heartbreaking circumstances and partly because of the timing -- shortly before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious new initiative to combat pedestrian deaths in New York City -- the story has been repeated in countless articles since.

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East Army Gang Tied to Most of the Shootings in the 23rd Precinct, Manhattan D.A.'s Office Says

Last week, the Manhattan district attorney indicted 19 suspected members of East Harlem's East Army gang. The indictment, D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. said on Friday, "will help combat the increasingly violent criminal activity occurring at the East River Houses," the housing project where the gang is based. On Monday we challenged that statement because the East River Houses have not, in fact, been increasingly violent.

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Bogus University? Meh. Trump's Done Worse

"Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore 2" by Gage Skidmore - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
This week, a judge found Donald Trump liable for operating a get-rich-quick school, the erstwhile Trump University, without a license. The case was originally brought against Trump by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, which, according to the Daily News, alleged that Trump University had "ripped off 5,000 students nationwide by promising to make them rich when instead they were steered into costly and mostly useless seminars."

While he's already been held liable for the university's operation, Trump will now go to trial to see if he's also liable for defrauding the students.

But history has shown you can't keep The Donald down. After all, this is a man who has recovered from self-inflicted injury again and again:

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Your Commute Sucked Because You Missed the Harlem Globetrotters on the Subway

Categories: Subways

Credit: Screenshot, Globetrotters video
It was much better than whatever you were doing. (Unless you were reading the Voice, in which case carry on.)
Subway performers have to rank high on the list of perks that come with living in New York City.

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Here are 6 Movies Opening This Weekend You Don't Know About But Should

Categories: Film and TV

Each week new movies open in New York (and online) by the dozen. The Voice reviews all of 'em. Here's some you might not have heard about that got our critics excited, for better or worse:

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Ten Things to Do for $10 or Less This Weekend, Oct. 17-19, 2014

Categories: Culture

Credit: Ethan Ries
Dill-y-dally around Orchard Street on Lower East Side Pickle Day.
If you just want to kick back and watch TV, but can't shake off the FOMO, this weekend features tributes to The X-Files, Lost, and Modern Family. Also: Party like it's 1999, hear poetry like it's 1925, and eat pickles like it's Lower East Side Pickle Day, any year.

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New York Health Commissioner's Ebola Plan? Purell

Photo credit: johnwilliamsphd via Compfight cc

New York State's acting health commissioner has a couple easy tips for people afraid of Ebola: Clean your hands and get a flu shot.

"The symptoms of many viral illnesses, they always begin the same," said Dr. Howard Zucker, at a press conference convened today by Governor Andrew Cuomo to discuss how the state was dealing with Ebola.

Ebola, just like the flu, starts with a fever, sore throat, headache, and muscle weakness. If a patient came in to his office with those starting symptoms, Zucker said, "I would ask, 'Have you had the flu shot?' and if you say yes, I'd say, 'OK, you probably don't have the flu.' "

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Papa John's Franchisee Shafted Delivery Workers, AG Alleges

Categories: Food

Thumbnail image for Supreme_pizza.JPG
By Scott Bauer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Would you like shame with that?

How's this for a reason to tip the delivery guy: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has just filed a lawsuit against a Papa John's franchisee, Ronald Johnson, for allegedly treating his workers even worse than the way we feel about ourselves after a massive pepperoni slice.

Investigators say Johnson's company made workers pay for and maintain their own delivery bikes. Those bikes probably cost a hefty chunk of change for the workers, who were getting only $5 an hour. That's less than the $7.25 minimum wage in New York State for much of the time period covered by the lawsuit, but it's even less than the $5.65 "tipped wage" that bosses can pay certain employees if they're making enough in tips.

"Nobody who works 40 hours a week should have to live in poverty," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Like every other business in New York, fast-food employers must follow the law."

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How Chuck Schumer's New Legislation Equates Climbing a Bridge to These Violent Crimes

Categories: NYPD

Photo Credit: Compfight
Don't try to get any closer to this stunning view.

This week, Senator Charles Schumer proposed making trespassing on "critical infrastructure" -- bridges, buildings, and the like -- a federal offense, punishable by up to five years in prison.

He pointed to the pair of German artists who this summer allegedly scaled the Brooklyn Bridge and replaced its American flags with white flags; a Russian tourist who climbed a bridge to take a selfie; and a teen who somehow made it to the top of 1 World Trade Center.

"We cannot allow New York City infrastructure to be turned into playgrounds -- or worse," Schumer said.

Absolutely not! When you let the city become a wholesome nexus of childhood fun, the terrorists win!

It was a move Kumar Rao, an attorney with legal-services nonprofit Bronx Defenders, called excessive. "If the purpose is to deter pranksters and protesters that have made a splash recently, then the law is clearly unduly harsh for the behavior at issue, and absolutely triggers First Amendment concerns," he writes in an email. "Five years(!) for hanging a banner or flag on a bridge puts it on par with many violent felonies."

Just how violent are we talking? Take a look at some heinous crimes that have taken place around the country that have netted the perpetrators five years in prison:

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There Have Now Been 10 Overturned Murder Convictions in Brooklyn This Year

Categories: Justice

Wikimedia Commons
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter wrote a letter asking Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson to review McCallum's case.
On Wednesday, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson asked a judge to overturn the 1986 murder convictions of David McCallum and Willie Stuckey. The judge overturned the convictions. That makes 10 murder convictions reversed in Brooklyn this year.

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