The Broadsheet – Lower Manhattan’s Local Newspaper
No Time for Sergeants
Police Union Boss Who Pushed Lie about Cops Being Poisoned at Downtown Shake Shack Charged
Above: The Shake Shack at Fulton Transit Center where police union officials falsely alleged that three officers were poisoned in June, 2020. Below: Mullins cultivated a reputation for right-wing extremism, appearing repeatedly on television with a QAnon mug (on shelf, at right) visible in the background.
A disgraced former police union official, who spread a false narrative about officers being deliberately poisoned at a Lower Manhattan Shake Shack restaurant during the height of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, was indicted Wednesday by federal prosecutors.
Ed Mullins, the former head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) was charged with wire fraud, in connection with a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the union, through the submission of fraudulent expense reports.
In June, 2020, as Lower Manhattan was convulsed by protests over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, three NYPD officers entered the Shake Shack restaurant at the Fulton Transit Center, on Broadway, for a meal break. Shortly after receiving their orders (which had been placed via a phone-based app, making it impossible for anyone in the store to know that the food was for law enforcement personnel), the officers noticed a strange taste and smell coming from the milk shakes they had ordered.
They quickly concluded that the source of the aroma and flavor was a strong (and potentially toxic) cleaning fluid. As a precaution, the officers radioed a request for assistance, which brought ambulances and investigators to the scene. All three officers were taken to Bellevue Hospital, where they were determined to be unharmed.
At the same time, NYPD detectives immediately launched an inquiry into whether anyone had deliberately attempted to poison the officers. While this investigation was ongoing, but before it had issued any formal conclusions, multiple police unions, including the SBA, issued formal statements, via Twitter, effectively accusing Shake Shack employees of attempting to murder the officers. Within hours, NYPD investigators determined that the contamination of the beverages had been both accidental and harmless.
The next day, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio responded, saying, “this example last night is a good one. I would think the unions would trust the NYPD to find the truth. But these union leaders don’t want the truth. They just want to sow division, and we have to figure out what the limits are on their right to do that.”
He singled out the Sergeants union, saying, “the SBA leadership has engaged in racist activities so many times I can’t even count it and anyone who is tweeting in favor of Confederate monuments is supporting the structural racist history of this country. I’m just sick of it. I’ve been sick of it for years. They try to undermine efforts to bond police and community. They try to undermine progress.” (This was a reference to a series of Tweets by Mr. Mullins criticizing the removal of monuments that glorified the southern cause in the Civil War.)
Former SBA president Ed Mullins: “I guess they are up for reelection and looking to keep the anti-police vote.”
In the weeks and months that followed, Mr. Mullins seemed to go out of his way to cultivate a public reputation as a right-wing extremist. He repeatedly appeared on Fox News with a QAnon mug mounted prominently on a shelf behind him. (This is a racist and anti-Semitic underground movement that alleges Democratic Party politicians, show business personalities, high-ranking government officials, business leaders, and medical experts are engaged in a global conspiracy to abduct, sexually abuse and murder young children, and then eat their corpses.)
Mr. Mullins also illegally posted online confidential documents related to the arrest of Mayor de Blasio’s daughter, Chiara, during Black Lives Matter protests, and wrote on Twitter about the City’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, “that bitch has blood on her hands.”
When several elected officials called for an investigation into the SBA, Mr. Mullins defiantly responded, “I guess they are up for reelection and looking to keep the anti-police vote.” He also called then-City Councilman (now U.S. Congressman) Ritchie Torres a “first-class whore.”
Throughout these controversial episodes, one thing Mr. Mullins was never accused of was being anything less than a zealous defender of the NYPD sergeants he represented. That changed on Wednesday, when the indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors charged that, over a period of multiple years, Mr. Mullins forged expense vouchers, totaling more than $1 million, to defraud a union account (funded with membership dues paid by police sergeants) so that he could bankroll a lavish lifestyle of fine dining and travel. He is also alleged to have squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in SBA funds on jewelry, appliances, groceries, clothing and college tuition for relatives. (All of this was in addition to his $133,195 salary from the NYPD, plus his $88,757 compensation from the union.)
That largesse came to an end last October, when FBI agents raided Mr. Mullins’s home, as well as his SBA office, in Tribeca. He resigned from the union presidency the same day, and turned in his retirement papers to the Police Department 24 hours later. An NYPD administrative court subsequently determined that Mr. Mullins had violated multiple NYPD rules, and recommended that he be fired, which would have deprived him of a pension. Instead, the NYPD decided to dock Mr. Mullins for 70 days of unused vacation pay (around $30,000), which he otherwise would have been able to cash out upon retirement.
The charges unsealed on Wednesday (for which Mr. Mullins entered a plea of not guilty) carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. The good news for the former SBA chief is that he appears likely to collect an NYPD pension of approximately $65,000 per year for the rest of his life.
At Debt’s Door
Downtown Developers Go Belly Up on Two Marquee Properties
Two Lower Manhattan trophy properties have defaulted on their mortgages, according to multiple published accounts and public records.
China Oceanwide Holdings, the owners of the development lot at 80 South Street, in the South Street Seaport, failed to make a $1.3-million payment to creditors in January, which has spurred lenders to declare the entire $175-million note on the property in default, and to demand immediate payment of the full amount.
As the date for the payment approached, China Oceanwide scrambled to sell the property for $200 million, a fire-sale discount from the $390 million the firm spent to acquire the property from the Howard Hughes Corporation in 2016. But there were no takers, even at the asking price of 48 percent lower than the original purchase. To read more…
Lower Manhattan Is Fourth-Fastest Growing Community in NYC
Alliance Report Parses Census Data to Show Downtown’s Population Swelled by Five Figures in Ten Years
An analysis by the Downtown Alliance of preliminary results from the 2020 Census indicates that Lower Manhattan boomed in the decade between 2010 and 2020, with the local population rising by 33 percent to 60,803 residents.
This makes the combined catchment of Battery Park City and the Financial District the fourth-fastest growing community anywhere in the five boroughs of New York City, trailing only Long Island City/Hunters Point in Queens (which grew by 198 percent), Downtown Brooklyn/Dumbo-Boerum Hill (67 percent), and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn (41 percent).
Two census tracts in the Financial District (east of Broadway and north of Liberty Street) grew by 44 percent, adding a combined 5,700 people. At the same time, Battery Park City’s headcount jumped by 22 percent, adding slightly more than 2,800 residents.
During the same period, according to the Alliance, Lower Manhattan overall added 5,300 new households. This comes in addition to 14,100 new dwellings created between 2000 and 2010.
Black History Month: Lower Manhattan Taken for a Ride on Monument It Actually Needs
While the saga of Rosa Parks and the 1956 Montgomery bus boycott has become a canonical American parable, New York played out its own version of the same drama, more than a century earlier. In July, 1854, Lower Manhattan resident Elizabeth Jennings Graham was on her way to church, and boarded a horse-drawn street car at Chatham and Pearl Streets.
Like much else in mid-19th century New York, street car service was segregated, with most coaches reserved for white riders, but some bearing signs that read, “Negro Persons Allowed in This Car.”
China’s Qing court produced the largest group of surviving paintings of Chinese empresses, many of which were once used for ancestor worship in the private imperial collection. Join us as Daisy Yiyou Wang, who co-curated the 2019 Empresses exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum, explores an extraordinary portrait of Empress Xiaoxian, whose early death broke the heart of the Qianlong emperor. Wang will examine details of the portrait, discuss its remarkable conservation journey, and even share new discoveries about where it used to hang. Wang, who is Deputy Director of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, will also discuss how her institution will look at artifacts from Beijing’s Forbidden City through a modern lens when it opens later this year. Free; online.
Visit the exhibitions and the ships of the South Street Seaport Museum for free. At 12 Fulton Street, see South Street and the Rise of New York and Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners, 1900-1914, and at Pier 16, explore the tall ship Wavertree and lightship Ambrose.
2022 marks the 530th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. Sponsored and dispatched by the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Columbus led a fleet of three ships on August 3, 1492 to sail west to search for a direct sea route to reach Asia as an alternative to the overland trade routes.
On October 12 of that year, the ships made landfall—not in Asia, as Columbus assumed, but on San Salvador in the Bahamas. Subsequently he made three more voyages to the New World in 1493, 1498 and 1502, reaching the Caribbeans, and Central and South Americas. Although Columbus always maintained that he had reached the Far East, he never set foot in Asia.
Columbus’s interest in traveling to the East was sparked by the famed Travels of Marco Polo, an account of the author’s travels to China in the 13th century that held Columbus spellbound in his childhood. Columbus treasured the book so much that he brought along a copy on his first cross-Atlantic journey. Travels of Marco Polo fascinated not only Columbus, not also a host of other famous European navigators in the Age of Exploration, including Amerigo Vespucci, from whose name the term “America” is derived, Ferdinand Magellan, who led the first recorded circumnavigation of the earth in 1519, Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India by way of Cape of Good Hope, and the 15th century cosmographer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, who was the first to create a map showing a westward sea route to China and subsequently passed it to Columbus to carry on his first voyage. Marco Polo’s travelogue generated in the West an immense interest in and yearning for Asia in general and China in particular. To learn about Marco Polo’s travels to China and the impact he made, the Renwen Society presents a lecture on February 26 by Prof. Jia Hongyan, an expert on tourism who will discuss Marco Polo’s storied journey to the East, what he saw and experienced in China, and how the legendary book was brought back to China. Online in Chinese. Free.
Join the Museum and Our Travel Circle for a virtual walking tour of Kazimierz, the historic Jewish quarter in Krakow, Poland. Kazimierz was originally an independent city set up outside of Krakow by the King of Poland. As the neighborhood grew, its Jewish residents thrived and established synagogues and businesses. In the 1930s, before the onset of the Holocaust, a quarter of Krakow’s population was Jewish. Our tour guide, Anna, will show us the Tempel Synagogue, the oldest in Krakow; the Krakow Jewish Community Center, which is a hub of the city’s resurgent Jewish community today; and interesting Jewish sites including Helena Rubinstein’s family home. $36.
EYES TO THE SKY
February 22 – March 7, 2022
Leading the Sun at dawn: eye-popping Venus, our solar system’s hottest planet
Planet Venus, an orb of white fire gleaming in darkness, rises above the southeastern horizon in early dawn. Venus is the third brightest object in Earth’s sky, next to the Sun and moon. Similar in size to Earth and our closest planetary neighbor, its brilliance is not to be attributed to its proximity. As described by scientists at EarthSky.org, “Venus is bright … because it’s blanketed by highly reflective clouds. The clouds in the atmosphere of Venus contain droplets of sulfuric acid, as well as acidic crystals suspended in a mixture of gases. Light bounces easily off the smooth surfaces of these spheres and crystals. Sunlight bouncing from these clouds is a big part of the reason that Venus is so bright.”
CB1 Pushes for Expansion in Use of Monitoring Devices
Community Board 1 (CB1) is pushing for the expanded use of traffic enforcement cameras, the automated monitoring devices that can detect violations of the speed limit and other rules (such as stopping at red lights) on public roads.
The use of such equipment began in New York nearly a decade ago, when then-Governor Andrew Cuomo allowed New York City to launch a pilot program to deter speeding in 20 school zones. The success of that initial deployment in 2013 has expanded to 950 cameras in 750 school zones, where the devices logged more than four million violations in 2020, an increase of almost 100 percent from 2019.
Data from the City’s Department of Transportation document the difference that speed cameras make, with a 71.5 percent reduction in speeding and a 16.9 percent drop in injuries at times when and in locations where they are in use. To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Ethical and respectable gentleman, an IT Wizard, seeks a living/work space in BPC. Can be a Computer help to you and your business, or will guarantee $1,500 for rental. Reciprocal would be great!
Please contact: 914-588-5284
20+ years experience
Providing Companion and Home Health Aide Care to clients with dementia.Help with grooming, dressing and wheelchair assistance. Able to escort client to parks and engage in conversations of desired topics and interests of client. Reliable & Honest
78 year old refined intellectual gentleman having a passion for cruises and travel seeking a male or female caregiver/companion in exchange for all expense paid venture on the ocean. Only requirement is relationship comfort between us and ability to help with physical care regarding the limitations and restrictions of COPD.
Analysis By Housing Group Cites Declining Affordability in Lower Manhattan
A leading housing advocacy organization has completed an exhaustive look at threats to affordability in every community in the five boroughs, and has found that Lower Manhattan ranks among the ten most at-risk neighborhoods by one key metric, while also placing in the 20 most-endangered by another.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.
Fulton Street cobblestones between South and Front Sts. across from McNally Jackson Bookstore.
Locally grown produce from Rogowski Farm, Breezy Hill Orchard, and other farmers and small-batch specialty food products, sold directly by their producers. Producers vary from week to week.
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted at all farmers markets.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Winslow Homer’s (1836 – 19100 ‘Snap the Whip’ painting
1303 – Battle of Roslin, of the First War of Scottish Independence.
1582 – With the papal bull Inter gravissimas, Pope Gregory XIII announces the Gregorian calendar.
1803 – In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court of the United States establishes the principle of judicial review.
1831 – The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, the first removal treaty in accordance with the Indian Removal Act, is proclaimed. The Choctaws in Mississippi cede land east of the river in exchange for payment and land in the West.
1854 – A Penny Red with perforations was the first perforated postage stamp to be officially issued for distribution.
1868 – Andrew Johnson becomes the first President of the United States to be impeached by the United States House of Representatives. He is later acquitted in the Senate.
1875 – The SS Gothenburg hits the Great Barrier Reef and sinks off the Australian east coast, killing approximately 100, including a number of high-profile civil servants and dignitaries.
1917 – World War I: The U.S. ambassador Walter Hines Page to the United Kingdom is given the Zimmermann Telegram, in which Germany pledges to ensure the return of New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona to Mexico if Mexico declares war on the United States.
1920 – The Nazi Party was founded by Adolf Hitler in the Hofbräuhaus beer hall in Munich, Germany
1942 – The Battle of Los Angeles: A false alarm led to an anti-aircraft barrage that lasted into the early hours of February 25.
1942 – An order-in-council passed under the Defence of Canada Regulations of the War Measures Act gives the Canadian federal government the power to intern all “persons of Japanese racial origin”.
1983 – A special commission of the United States Congress condemns the Japanese American internment during World War II.
1989 – United Airlines Flight 811, bound for New Zealand from Honolulu, rips open during flight, blowing nine passengers out of the business-class section.
1103 – Emperor Toba of Japan (d. 1156)
1553 – Cherubino Alberti, Italian engraver and painter (d. 1615)
1743 – Joseph Banks, English botanist and explorer (d. 1820)
1836 – Winslow Homer, American painter and illustrator (d. 1910)
1922 – Richard Hamilton, English painter and academic (d. 2011)
1933 – David “Fathead” Newman, American saxophonist and composer (d. 2009)
1934 – Bettino Craxi, Italian lawyer and politician, 45th Prime Minister of Italy (d. 2000)
1955 – Steve Jobs, American businessman, co-founded Apple Inc. and Pixar (d. 2011)
1910 – Osman Hamdi Bey, Greek archaeologist and painter (b. 1842)
1990 – Malcolm Forbes, American publisher (b. 1917)
1998 – Henny Youngman, English-American comedian and violinist (b. 1906)
Credit: Wikipedia and other internet and non-internet sources