Pat Singer's Sad Chapter to Her Brighton Beach Memoir: Activist's Office Flooded Out, Her Tchotchkes Washed Away

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Brighton Beach memoir: Pat Singer with Ed Koch
The Brighton Neighborhood Association's administrative office used to be known as a colorful Brooklyn spot awash with all sorts of memorabilia and historic photos collected by founder Pat Singer. Now the office, at 1121 Brighton Beach Avenue, is just awash. The sad details in Sheepshead Bites, whose Ned Berke captures the frustration of veteran neighborhood tenant activist Singer, who founded the organization three decades ago.

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Most New Yorkers Like Bike Lanes, But Does Anyone Use Them?

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Despite some very bitter and ugly public battles, a majority of New Yorkers approve of bike lanes, according to a poll released this week. The Quinnipiac University poll found that 56 percent of city voters say bike lanes "are good because it's greener and healthier for people to ride." The biggest bike lane supporters are in Manhattan, with approval ranging from 62 to 35 percent. Only in Staten Island do voters demonize bikers, with up to 54 percent of voters agreeing that "the lanes are bad because it leaves less room for cars which increases traffic."

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Dan Garodnick Q&A: The Senate Bill That Would Bail Out Landlords and Gut Court Ruling on Stuy Town Rents

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David Shankbone
In 2009, a landmark state appeals court ruling found that the owners of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village had illegally deregulated 4,400 apartments while enjoying special tax breaks from the city. Its impact wasn't quite clear; no one was sure what the legal rents of those apartments should be or how much the wronged tenants should receive in rebates.

Now, a bill is making its way through the state Senate that, as the Times succinctly puts it, "would allow landlords to buy their way out of the problem."

Tenant advocates and Dan Garodnick, the councilman who represents Stuy Town, hotly oppose the bill. Garodnick — who was also born and raised and still lives there — gives Runnin' Scared his take.

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1 in 4 Parking Permits Are Phony, Says Report

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Transportation Alternatives
More than half of those thousands of precious parking permits in the city are either legal permits used illegally or simply illegitimate permits in the first place. And nearly one in four official parking permits are "illicitly photocopied, fraudulent or otherwise invalid." Those are the conclusions of a Transportation Alternatives study just released.

It's a "citywide epidemic of parking permit abuse," the group says.

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Bronx Buildings — Symbols of Market Crash — Sold, May Actually Be Repaired

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More than a thousand Bronx tenants in 10 of the city's most rundown apartment buildings got some hopeful news yesterday in the form of a new landlord who looks likely to make desperately needed repairs. In an unusual move, the city helped broker the deal.

This is at last a favorable development in the gloomy history of these buildings, which had been purchased by high-profile Los Angeles-based company Milbank (one of the Voice's 10 Worst Landlords last year) at the height of the real estate boom. When the market crashed, the buildings fell into foreclosure and further disrepair.

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Bed Bug Complaints Hint at a Hellacious Summer Infestation

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DNAInfo.com
We're into a map that DNAinfo has up today, showing which parts of Manhattan have had the largest numbers of bed bug complaints over the first three months of this year. 

According to the news site, Manhattan residents made 455 complaints to 311 about bed bugs for the first three months of 2011. Since bed bug infestations tend to spike in the summer, this high number of winter complaints means that exterminators and residents are expecting another bed-bug ridden Summer From Hell.

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NYC Foreclosures Drop, But Don't Get Giddy

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​The good news? The overall number of foreclosures in New York City dropped dramatically in 2010 after a spike in woeful 2009. The bad news? The number of foreclosed buildings is still staggering, and the city's overall rate of foreclosures is high.

Those are part of the mixed bag of conclusions in the 2010 version of The State of New York City's Housing and Neighborhoods, an annual report issued by NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy. This year's report zooms in on the impact of foreclosures on the 55,000 multi-family rental properties that are home to four in 10 New York households.

The flood of information may help you understand why your apartment building and those of your friends are deteriorating.

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Ruckus in Bahrain: Activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja Beaten and Dragged From His Home

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Alkhawaja: Beaten in Bahrain
Leading Bahraini human-rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was beaten bloody and dragged out of his house by government police over the weekend in Manama, his daughter (and former Fulbright Fellow at Brown University) Maryam Alkhawaja tells the Voice.

Abdulhadi Alkhawaja was dragged down the stairs of the house by the neck and severely beaten by five officers. Pummeled to unconsciousness, he was taken away to an unknown location. His daughter Zainab was reportedly assaulted when she attempted to intervene, says 23-year-old Maryam. The women present in the house were then locked in a room and prevented from leaving.

"I'm just doing everything I can," says Maryam, who is now in Providence, Rhode Island, and in close touch with her family. "Contacting the media, and everyone I know. I don't know what else I can do but I'm trying."

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"Who's My Landlord?" App Loses, But Still Useful!

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Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced the winners of the second-annual NYC BigApps 2.0 Competition on Thursday night. This cool city-run competition gives out cash prizes to software developers who use city data sets to build apps that make it easier for people to navigate the city.

Unfortunately, the app inspired by a Voice story about missing landlords didn't seem to curry too much favor among the panel of tech-entrepreneur judges (The app helps you useful find info about your landlord that currently is only available in a bunch of different places).

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Today in El Diario: Miss DR Calls Miss Universe Pageant Corrupt

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Former beauty queen speaks out

A finalist of the Miss Dominican Republic beauty pageant is demanding an investigation of the contest, after rumors began circulating that the winner paid $100,000 for the crown, the Spanish-language daily reports. 

"I want to know the truth. I want justice," said 22-year-old Evi Siksos. "I have sacrificed a lot of time and money for this. And I'm not just speaking on my behalf or that of my colleagues, but also for my country." 

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