By Elizabeth Kim
Two years following the passage of a landmark law which gave low-income tenants facing eviction the right to a free attorney, a new bill has been introduced in the City Council to mandate city funding to tenant organizing groups so they can educate people on their legal rights.
In 2017, New York became the first city in the nation to adopt the right-to-counsel law. But advocates say that most low-income tenants still do not know that they are entitled to a lawyer during eviction cases.
“It’s about making them aware and having them exercise this right,” said Lauren Springer, a tenant organizer in Queens who works with Catholic Migration Services, a nonprofit legal services provider.
The right-to-counsel law is currently being rolled out by zipcode. To date, 345,000 households in the city are covered. Citywide implementation is expected by 2022.
For more than 10 years, the West Side Spirit has recognized the exceptional contributions of Upper West Siders with the WESTY (The West Side Spirit Thanks You) Awards. On Tuesday, April 16th, 12 WESTY's were presented to a dynamic mix of individuals representing the best of the UWS: a U.S. Congressman, a police commander, a minister, two family-owned local businesses, a health-care professional, a city council member, the directors of three local cultural organizations, and the leaders of a business improvement district and a preservation non-profit.
A happy crowd of friends and family gathered at the W83 event space and joined the honorees for a reception and the presentation of the awards, which was emceed by NY1's Kristen Shaughnessy.
The awardees and their guests were also joined by elected officials from the Upper West Side. In addition to City Council Member Mark Levine and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler — who were honored at the event — the West Side Spirit welcomed NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, NY State Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, NY State Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell, NY State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
By Sarina Trangle
A building management team in East New York told tenants keys would not be an option once a biometric facial scanning security system is installed, their attorneys said.
Residents of a Hell's Kitchen loft are in court seeking mechanical keys to the main lobby, their sole path to the elevator. And on the Upper West Side, a tenant said she and her neighbors feared the landlord would transition away from the traditional lock system.
Residence buildings are considering technology that promises quick, convenient entry for tenants and their guests with biometrics, facial recognition, phone apps and personalized codes, but their traditional counterparts are still required by city rules.
By Natalie Duddridge
Keeping children away from flavored e-cigarettes is the goal of a new campaign launched today at city hall.
Sixth-grader Yael Mintz may look small, but her voice is big, reports CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.
She’s adding to the growing chorus calling for a ban on menthol and flavored e-cigarettes.
“I want to keep Juul and other e-cigarettes away from me my friends and other kids our age,” she said. “The flavors are like ‘Oh, hey, it’s for kids it’s like candy for us. I’m not saying that vapes or Juul should be banned entirely, I just think that flavors are what’s really getting kids.”
Gummy bears and cotton candy are just some of the flavors advocates worry entice kids.
Local leaders joined with parents and medical professionals to launch the “Flavors Hook Kids” awareness campaign on the steps of City Hall.
By Ivan Pereira
A proposed City Council bill would make it more expensive for construction companies to turn their noise up to 11 after hours.
City Councilman Mark Levine introduced legislation last week that would increase by more than $400 the daily fees construction companies must pay to do work outside typical business hours. Levine said last year there were roughly 29,000 complaints made to 311 about noisy construction taking place on weekdays between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. — a 20% increase from the nearly 25,000 complaints in 2014.
"As we fight for responsible development that preserves the character of our neighborhoods, we need to make sure developers are being mindful of the effect their work has on local communities," Levine said in a statement.
By Suzy Weiss
Weight-loss laxatives peddled by Cardi B and the Kardashians are a “dangerous scam” that pose a serious health risk to New York’s self-conscious teens, according to a local lawmaker proposing a ban on their sale to minors.
“The fact that kids can stroll into bodega, grocery and health food stores and buy these products without input from a medical professional is not good public health policy,” said City Councilman and bill sponsor Mark Levine (D-Manhattan).
“It’s being pumped up by a social media campaign, led by celebrity endorsers no less prominent than the Kardashians,” added Levine who called the slim-waisted, gapped-thigh ideal propagated endlessly on Instagram a “tyranny of body image.”
By Ana B. Nieto
Con acordes de música latina que llega de la radio como fondo, Carlos Ventura apura el recorte de la barba de su cliente con detalle y cuidado. Concentrado. Es miércoles, en su negocio La Magia Barbershop y hay una cierta calma a primeras horas de la tarde. “Los fines de semana, a partir del viernes es cuando más gente hay. Trabajamos 12 horas”, explica este dominicano de 31 años cuando ya se ha despedido del meticulosamente rasurado cliente.
A la hora de hablar de su experiencia como inmigrante, dueño de un peqeño negocio en Cypress Hills (Brooklyn) Ventura explica que tuvo que cambiar el toldo y ponerlo más pequeño hace seis meses porque vió las multas que estaban llegando a quienes no lo tenían en regla.
By Caroline Splvack
City Council members are pushing to revert a contested zoning amendment that seeks to shrink mechanical voids used to beef up building heights back to the city’s initial, slightly stricter proposal.
The Department of City Planning (DCP) originally set out to cap voids, which have been exploited by developers to dramatically boost mostly residential towers, at 25 feet before those spaces are counted toward a building’s overall footprint and mandate that the voids be 75 feet apart from one another. But after a slew of concerned engineers and architects argued for more space, the City Planning Commission tweaked the amendment to allow for a maximum height of 30 feet—despite a chorus of elected officials and advocates urging for greater restrictions.
City Council members slammed the limited scope of the amendment at a Tuesday zoning and franchises subcommittee hearing, arguing that the city has zeroed in on capping void heights while not doing enough to address other areas that builders can exploit.
“I feel that we have gotten lost in technicality and are losing sight of the big picture here,” said Council member Mark Levine, who represents a stretch of Manhattan’s west side. “This is a battle over height and if you close one technical route to excessive height while leaving several more open, developers are certainly going to divert to the other avenues.”
By Brianne Tracy
Jameela Jamil isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
Over the past several months, the outspoken Good Place actress, 33, has become known for calling out celebrities — including Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian and Cardi B — for promoting weight loss teas and appetite-suppressing lollipops to their millions of followers.
“I think people are just scared and greedy. I think girls, in particular, are scared because we’re always told to not be unlikable, and not to be difficult, and to be perfect. I would like to, hopefully, be a force of change in that [and] show people that sometimes you have to be scary, and you have to be intimidating, and you have to be bold, and you have to be unlikable in order to protect yourself and to protect other people.”
By Brendan Krisel
A City Councilman representing parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem and Washington Heights is pushing the city to create a secular dual-language Yiddish-English public school program in his district, according to reports.
Mark Levine told the Jewish publication Forward that the dual-language program could be launched at a school in his district by the 2020-2021 school year. The program would be the first of its kind in New York City, Forward reported.
Levine told the publication that meeting with young Jewish activists spurred him to support the program.
"I've been inspired by young activists who are looking to keep this language alive, and keep its literature and theater and culture alive by passing it on to the next generation," Levine told Forward.