State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou: “We must take this moment to fundamentally rethink government, and establish policies that prioritize the struggling many, not the wealthy few — while ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share, so we have the resources to make this happen.”
Yuh-Line Niou, who represents Lower Manhattan in the New York State Assembly, is pushing for a comprehensive package of legislation to address a broad range of needs that are expected to follow the ongoing crisis sparked by the pandemic coronavirus.
The 25 bills she is sponsoring include measures to help with joblessness, housing affordability, healthcare, childcare, and rising poverty rates, as well as tax reform that seeks to relieve the burden on low-income individuals and small businesses, while raising revenue from people and firms with the resources to pay more.
“In this moment, many are now realizing the critical role that government can and should play when faced with a crisis of this magnitude,” Ms. Niou says. “It must also be noted that many of these problems exist only because we have for too long followed a demonstrably flawed economic policy that sacrifices strong public institutions in exchange for endless tax breaks for the wealthiest among us.”
Ms. Niou’s plan includes relief for working families through a commercial and residential rent freeze, along with a ban on evictions for a full year. She also wants to suspend rent payments entirely (for the duration of the pandemic crisis) for a subset of residential and commercial tenants most affected by the outbreak. She further proposes to suspend residential mortgage payments for 90 days, in cases where the homeowner has lost his or her job due to the crisis. Conversely, the plan would offer relief to landlords through property tax and commercial rent tax rollbacks, and also give them access to a newly created Disaster Relief Fund.
On the jobs front, Ms. Niou wants the State to institute universal, paid sick leave and a guarantee that quarantined and laid off workers can return to their jobs once the crisis has passed. She is additionally pushing for a comprehensive worker retraining program. In the meantime, she proposes to eliminate the one-week wait before the start for unemployment benefits and the requirements to look for work during the quarantine period.
For small businesses Ms. Niou aims to launch a program of grants, zero-interest loans, and waived fees. Under this plan, fines against small businesses that were shuttered before the crisis would be suspended and fines issued during this period would be waived. Further, she wants the City to automatically renew all licenses and permits (including liquor licenses, health department permits, etc.) without payment of fees, for the next three months.
Restaurants would be specifically targeted for an incentive program eliminating sales taxes (on non-chain restaurants), for one year after the crisis ends. Eateries would also benefit from a law capping delivery platform fees (levied on restaurants by services such as Seamless and GrubHub) at 10 percent. More broadly, Ms. Niou is advocating for a limited-term sales tax holiday for all restaurants, hotels, and street-level retail stores. For the longer term, she wants to enact a vacancy tax on landlords of long-empty storefronts, with that revenue earmarked for small businesses, in the form of additional grants and loans.
For healthcare, Ms. Niou wants the State to provide free medical essentials and fund the elimination of co-pays on all treatment and medications.
The Assembly member also aims to expand childcare benefits, initially by providing free childcare for all workers on the frontlines — “not only health care personnel, but first responders, sanitation workers, and other essential service workers who will need access to free child care in safe, healthy facilities across our City,” she says.
Additionally, she wants to expand SNAP (“supplemental nutrition assistance program”) benefits for children living below the poverty line, whose nutritional security is often dependent on free breakfast and lunch programs provided by public schools. “We must expand SNAP benefits to these families to account for more meals that will be eaten at home,” Ms. Niou says.
For residents of all ages living in poverty, Ms. Niou is demanding a new commitment by the State to fully fund all New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartment complexes (which face a multi-billion-dollar shortfall each year). She also wants a crash program to disinfect all NYCHA facilities.
“The long-term underfunding of NYCHA by Albany, which had already created a public health crisis within New York’s public housing stock, leaves many of our City’s most vulnerable residents even more at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says.
To fund these measures, Ms. Niou says, Albany should lobby for federal funds, but also, “raise revenue on the State level.” Ms. Niou has already proposed a 0.5 percent corporate stock buyback tax that would bring in $3.2 billion annually. In addition, she supports a pied-a-terre tax on luxury, non-primary residences in New York City, with an assessed value of over $5 million, which would bring collect approximately $650 million more. Finally, Ms. Niou supports a Billionaire Wealth Tax, which would create a yearly assessment on the wealth of billionaires, and is projected to generate more than $10 billion in new revenue each year.”
“We must take this moment to fundamentally rethink government,” she says, “and establish policies that prioritize the struggling many, not the wealthy few — while ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share, so we have the resources to make this happen.”
Rate of Confirmed Infections Among Lower Manhattan Residents Rises Slightly
A total of 660 residents of Lower Manhattan have tested positive for the pandemic coronavirus, which translates into 75 new local cases, or a jump of approximately 12.8 percent, in the last seven days.
A total of 660 residents of Lower Manhattan (among 1,946 who have been tested) are confirmed to have been infected by the pandemic coronavirus, according to statistics released by the City’s Department of Health (DOH). These numbers are current as of Thursday afternoon (April 30). Given the current City-wide mortality rate for COVID-19 (the disease caused by coronavirus) of approximately 7.7 percent, roughly 45 of these patients appear likely to die.
This updated tally for confirmed cases of coronavirus indicates that the total number of local residents known to be infected has jumped by 75 new cases, or approximately 12.8 percent, since April 24 (the date of the Broadsheet’s previous update of these statistics), when the total number of Lower Manhattan cases was 585 patients. This does not necessarily mean that the local rate of infection is growing at 12.8 percent per week, but may be a reflection more patients being tested.
But it does offer a glimpse of somewhat reassuring news: In the interval between two the Broadsheet’s earlier updates (on April 9 and April 17), the rate of increase in confirmed cases among Lower Manhattan residents had been 31 percent.
Alliance Throws a Lifeline to Lower Manhattan Small Businesses
Jessica Lappin, Downtown Alliance president: “There is not one storefront business in New York City that has been spared by COVID-19. Every one of them is struggling. We are stepping up to do what we can to help stores keep their lights on.”
The Downtown Alliance is launching a new program to help storefront businesses in Lower Manhattan, via which it plans to give away $800,000 in grants.
The Small Business Rental Assistance Grant program aims to offer immediate help to shops currently providing vital services to residents and essential workers in Lower Manhattan during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and is funded with contributions from Brookfield Properties, Silverstein Properties and the Howard Hughes Corporation, as well as $250,000 from the Alliance itself.
LMHQ, the collaborative workspace operated by the Downtown Alliance for companies in the technology, advertising, media, and information industries, will offer an online workshop, “Cultivating Your Career in a Time of Uncertainty,” on Tuesday, May 5, at 12 noon.
Hosted by Rose Chan Siow (founder and principal of SCOUT, a talent acquisition and recruitment firm that specialized in women and non-profits), this virtual session is free to attend.
Russel Albert Daniels was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and specialized in photography at the University of Montana School of Journalism. After a brief stint with the Associated Press, Daniels focused on documentary work relating to Native American identity and resilience, including projects on missing and murdered indigenous women as well as the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in coordination with the nearby Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
Daniels’ essay, The Genízaro Pueblo of Abiquiú, delves into the history and development of the Genízaro people. Starting in the mid 17th century, Spanish conquistadors attempted to “detribalize” various native communities through violence, abduction and forced assimilation into European communities. The Spanish went as far as renaming the captured indigenous individuals as Genízaro, which is Turkish for “slaves trained as soldiers”. The history of their plight and persecution is forever encapsulated in their built and natural environment, be it crumbling, such as 18th-century church structures like the Santa Rosa de Lima Church.
Taiylr Irvine was born in the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. She has worked on assignments for a variety of news organizations such as the New York Times, CNN and Washington Post. Being from Salish and Kootenai descent, Irvine focuses her independent journalism on matters such as in-depth exposes and research on the diverse Native American communities in contemporary America.
In Irvine’s Reservation Mathematics:Navigating Love in Native America, she stresses the interconnectedness of government regulations and dating life for indigenous communities that seek to maintain their sense of identity. The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act establishes certain criteria for who can apply to settle on particular reservations; consequently, if you have lineage from multiple tribes then it can limit your chance at eligibility for a reservation. This photo-essay–which highlights inidigenous couples and individuals from the LGBTQ community, high schoolers, a council member, among others– demonstrates the impact that arbitrary “eligibility” standards have on one’s sense of identity and worth, as being a member of a tribe comes with a sense of honor.
The exhibition “Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field” is a series of photographs and essays by indigenous photojournalists Russel Albert Daniels and Taiylr Irvine.
The City is providing free “Grab and Go” meals for anybody (not just students) who needs or wants them, at 435 public schools throughout the five boroughs.
Two facilities in Battery Park City—Stuyvesant High School (345 Chambers Street, near North End Avenue, and P.S./I.S. 276 (55 Battery Place, near First Place)—have been designated to serve Lower Manhattan as “Meal Hubs, each weekday, from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm.
Children and families are welcome from 7:30 to 11:30 am, and adults will be given food from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. All adults and children can pick up multiple meals at once. Parents and guardians may pick up meals for their children.
No registration, identification, or documentation is required. Vegetarian and halal are available at all locations. No one will be turned away at any time, but no dining space is available at these facilities, so meals must be eaten off premises.
HOUSE FOR SALE
3/4 BD + 2 FULL BATH Colonial on .23 acres (50×202) in desirable Livingston NJ. Quiet street close to NYC bus stop, shopping and restaurants. CHARMING OPEN flow from Kitchen to Dining to Living Room. Main Level Bedroom #4 (can also be used as a den) has an EN-SUITE perfect for guests. DEEP Level backyard, 2 CAR Garage, Finished Basement. Excellent school system
More than 30 Lower Manhattan restaurants and bars have set up GoFundMe pages to raise money that will help them pay employees and otherwise remain viable during the economic downturn induced by the pandemic coronavirus.
Each of these campaigns is an opportunity not only to help your favorite eatery, but also to make less likely the very real prospect that—come the next recovery—our streetscape will be populated entirely by corporate chains and denuded of locally owned small businesses.
The Downtown Alliance has set up a page with links to each, click here.
Remembering a Fallen Healer
A Local Leader Recalls Tribeca’s Nisar Quraishi
Nisar A. Quraishi, MD (1947 – 2020)
Russ Schulman, a longtime resident of Tribeca and the associate executive director at Manhattan Youth, says of Dr. Nisar A. Quraishi, “he was my primary care physician for decades, and a trusted friend.”
Dr. Quraishi, who died from COVID-19 (the disease caused by the pandemic coronavirus) in April, at age 73, was a Tribeca pioneer, hanging out a shingle in 1976 at the then-new Independence Plaza, just a few years after earning a degree in medicine in his native Pakistan.
“I loved him from the first moment,” Mr. Schulman recalls. “He was always very thoughtful, very kind and reassuring. A great doctor, in every sense.”
I am finding it impossible to walk on the esplanade with all the speeding bicyclists and runners (most not wearing face masks).
After the bike path was built on West Street, I believe biking on the esplanade where elderly and children walk is far too dangerous – even pre-pandemic.
Where the Sidewalk Forfends
Data Scientist Finds That Downtown Footpaths Impede Social Distancing
This online data visualization map shows the prevalence of streets in Lower Manhattan deemed too narrow for effective distancing from passersby.
Although Lower Manhattan is among the communities least affected by the pandemic coronavirus anywhere in the five boroughs, it faces one increased risk that most other neighborhoods do not. A new analysis shows that narrow sidewalk widths in the square mile below Chambers Street make it especially difficult to practice social distancing here.
Meli Harvey, a senior computational designer at Sidewalk Labs — an urban innovation organization owned by Google, which aims to improve civic infrastructure through technological solutions — has completed an inventory of sidewalk widths throughout the five boroughs.
“It started a few weeks ago, when I was walking around Boreum Hill, where I live,” Ms. Harvey recalls, “and noticed that it was tough to walk while avoiding people. The width of the sidewalks make it necessary to move into the street. And suddenly, I made the connection between sidewalk widths and social distancing. I have also worked in the Financial District, so I immediately thought of that area and its narrow sidewalks, too.” To read more…
An April Intervention
The Hunter and the Hunted, Along with a Haunted Onlooker
Isaiah Berlin famously observed that, “the fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” A Lower Manhattan resident thought of this on a Saturday afternoon in mid-April, when Downtown was locked down, but he ventured outside — desperate for fresh air, seeking signs of life — and was confronted by this tableaux in the Battery. The raptor perched on the park bench knew one big thing: that he was too large to get beneath the seat, where his lunch awaited. And the squirrel below knew one little thing: that he was safe as long as he stayed where he was.
Governor Cuomo has issued an executive order requiring all people in New York to wear masks or face coverings in public, including when taking public or private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles.
More information: coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home or call 1-888-364-3065.All non-essential workers must continue to work from home and schools will be closed through May 15th, and everyone is required to maintain a 6-foot distance from others in public photo courtesy: BPCA
History of Quarantine
in New York
By Matthew McDonnell Connor
Educational Coordinator National Lighthouse Museum
The current COVID-19 pandemic has brought life as we know it in New York City to a grinding halt with the onset of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “New York State on PAUSE” executive order of March 22nd, 2020.
With schools and non-essential businesses closed, New Yorkers find themselves in a quasi-quarantine state, as they are encouraged by public officials to stay home, maintain social distance, avoid using public transportation, and venture outside only for short trips of absolute necessity.
1493 – Pope Alexander VI divides the New World between Spain and Portugal along the Line of Demarcation.
1626 – Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrives in New Netherland (present day Manhattan Island) aboard the See Meeuw.
1776 – Rhode Island becomes the first American colony to renounce allegianceto King George III.
1886 – Haymarket affair: A bomb is thrown at policemen trying to break up a labor rally in Chicago, United States, killing eight and wounding 60. The police fire into the crowd.
1904 – The United States begins construction of the Panama Canal.
1919 – May Fourth Movement: Student demonstrations take place in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, protesting the Treaty of Versailles, which transferred Chinese territory to Japan.
1932 – In Atlanta, mobster Al Capone begins serving an eleven-year prison sentence for tax evasion.
1953 – Ernest Hemingway wins the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.
1970 – Vietnam War: Kent State shootings: The Ohio National Guard, sent to Kent State University after disturbances in the city of Kent the weekend before, opens fire killing four unarmed students and wounding nine others. The students were protesting the Cambodian Campaign of the United States and South Vietnam.
1979 – Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
1989 – Iran–Contra affair: Former White House aide Oliver North is convicted of three crimes and acquitted of nine other charges. The convictions, however, are later overturned on appeal.
1998 – A federal judge in Sacramento, California, gives “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski four life sentences plus 30 years after Kaczynski accepts a plea agreement sparing him from the death penalty. Click here to read his manifesto
1655 – Bartolomeo Cristofori, Italian instrument maker, invented the piano (d. 1731)
1820 – Julia Gardiner Tyler, American wife of John Tyler, 11th First Lady of the United States (d. 1889)
1916 – Jane Jacobs, American-Canadian journalist, author, and activist (d. 2006)
1928 – Wolfgang von Trips, German race car driver (d. 1961)
1929 – Audrey Hepburn, British actress and humanitarian (d. 1993)
1566 – Luca Ghini, Italian physician and botanist (b. 1490)
1970 – Victims of the Kent State shootings
Allison Krause, American student (b. 1951)
Jeffrey Miller, American student (b. 1950)
Sandra Scheuer, American student (b. 1949)
William Knox Schroeder, American student (b. 1950)
1975 – Moe Howard, American actor, singer, and screenwriter (b. 1897)
1980 – Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav field marshal and president of Yugoslavia (b. 1892)
The Curve Flattens
Rate of Increase for Confirmed Infections Among Downtown Residents Tapers Off
Lower Manhattan’s eight zip codes are the site of 585 confirmed cases of coronavirus, up from 529 cases on April 17, which represents an increase of approximately 10.5 percent in one week.
A total of 585 residents of Lower Manhattan (among 1,530 who have been tested) are confirmed to have been infected by the pandemic coronavirus, according to statistics released by the City’s Department of Health. According to the DOH data, the local infection rates (outlined out by zip code) break down as follows: To read more…
Downtown Hotel Business May Be an Enduring Casualty of Pandemic
The Conrad Hotel is being used to house healthcare workers battling the pandemic coronavirus.
As local travel and tourism have ground to a halt in the wake of the pandemic coronavirus, one Downtown business sector is undergoing what may be a permanent transformation. By any reasonable yardstick, the hotel business in Lower Manhattan has been drastically overbuilt — the result of nearly two decades of giddy speculation, by developers.
Today, there are 37 hotels operating in the square mile below Chambers Street, offering more than 7,900 rooms, according to the 2019 Lower Manhattan Real Estate Year in Review, a report from the Downtown Alliance.
how to care for your pet during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Taste of Tribeca Community Fund
To the community,
Three weeks ago, we launched the Taste of Tribeca Community Fund.
Since then you have given us over $60,000 and with this we have purchased over 4,800 meals from 10 Taste of Tribeca restaurants for delivery to 11 New York City hospitals, plus FDNY Ladder 8, FDNY Engine 7, the NYPD 1st Precinct, and NYC Department of Sanitation Manhattan District 1.
You have helped to keep these restaurants in business, and in turn the restaurant teams have been doing some of the most important cooking and meal service of their careers, for the healthcare workers on the front lines against Covid-19.
The importance of your contribution cannot be emphasized enough. As another organization doing similar work has put it, we are not merely sending care packages as a thank you to the healthcare workers. We are providing them with basic nourishment, which they have no time to buy on their own, and in some areas no one even from whom to buy them.
And in our little corner of the city, we have restaurants willing and able to serve and for whom our large orders are essential to the continued operation of their business.
We are now down to our last few thousand dollars, which, at our current pace, will last us another few days to a week. We would love to keep going until at least May 15, so please consider donating again if you can, and share our mission with your families, friends and colleagues. Your continued generosity and support will directly benefit our restaurants, our neighborhood, and the healthcare heroes in our great city.
Thank you from all of us at Taste of Tribeca!
If you can help us, we would appreciate it.
Here is our most recent campaign update sent to donors, plus our GoFundMe and Instagram feed. Our current meal count is over 5,000.
Who remembers Iggy, the 40-foot iguana formerly of the Lone Star Cafe on Lower 5th Avenue and subsequently perched atop Pier 25 by Bob Wade and Bob Townley in the 1980s? For some years now, Iggy has resided at the Fort Worth Texas Zoo reptile exhibit. The charismatic iguana was recently seen practicing social distancing.
‘As Sick as I’ve Ever Been in My Life’
One Survivor’s First-Person Account of Grappling with the Coronavirus
(Editor’s Note: This narrative was supplied to the Broadsheet by a Battery Park City resident who has asked to remain anonymous.)
When I first heard about this, back in late January or early February, I wasn’t sure how it was different from a more serious version of seasonal flu, because the narrative was familiar — starting in Asia, and coming from some kind of animal population. The one difference I remember noting was that this sounded much more contagious.
After that, I didn’t think much more about it for several weeks, other than to frame it as a kind of “second” flu season. But near the end of February, the beginning of March, my perception changed, along with everybody else’s. This was clearly different, because of how it had jumped to humans, and how aggressively it was spreading.
As business activity ground to a halt in March due to the pandemic coronavirus, the market for apartments in Lower Manhattan experienced something akin to a heart attack during the first quarter on this year, according to analyses from two real estate data firms.
A pair of reports from Platinum Properties, a brokerage firm headquartered in the Financial District, documents the carnage in Battery Park City and the Financial District. The first notes that the median price for condominiums sold in Battery Park City dropped from $1.515 million in the first quarter of 2019 to $1.005 million in the same period this year. That represents a 33.7 percent decline in 12 months, and a 14 percent decline just since the last quarter of 2019, when the median price was $1.168 million. To read more…
Doing Good, Even When Not Doing Well
A Local Business Struggles to Survive, By Helping Those Less Fortunate
In happier times: Karen Barwick (right) and her staff, at Tribeca’s Boomerang Toys
Karen Barwick, the proprietress of Boomerang Toys in Tribeca, which has been a fixture in the lives of generations of Lower Manhattan kids, is leading a push to bring a smile to the faces of homeless children, who are quarantined in shelters, while also helping small businesses.
“We have teamed up with several other neighborhood toy stores that are struggling, because of being locked down,” she explains, “and partnered with Homeless Services United” (HSU) — a coalition of nearly sixty non-profit agencies serving homeless families. By browsing www.BoomerangToys.com, and clicking on the Donate button, users can purchase a toy that will be delivered to a shelter by the HSU’S existing distribution network, which already parcels out clothing and food. To read more…
New Amsterdam Market returns in virtual format, as a service to the growing community of purveyors, distributors, producers and other small businesses who are creating regional, sustainable, regenerative, healthful, and equitable food systems.