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MEDIA SHAKEUPS: The New York Times is ending its three-year partnership with New York University under which they collaborated to produce The Local East Village community news site. The Times is also backing out of its other “hyperlocal” operation with CUNY in Brooklyn. Oh well, there goes all that free student labor! Meanwhile, the Village Voice’s parent company is selling the flagship alternative weekly along with its other papers, and — bowing to political pressure — is spinning off the raunchy Backpage.com classified site as a separate entity.
THE CASE OF THE 9/11 TILES: This could be one of his toughest assignments yet, but as usual, Detective Jimmy Alberici, Sixth Precinct community affairs officer, was cool and collected as he spoke with us this week about the Tiles for America situation. Alberici is attempting to mediate the dispute. Dusty Berke and Andretti Mullens recently removed the tiles from the Greenwich Ave. chain-link fence on which they hung, and are reportedly storing them in Berke’s apartment. However, Alberici said he can’t say for certain exactly where the tiles are. The other side, which includes the Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association and another local who recently broke with Berke, is fighting to regain possession of the iconic tiles. Alberici has been speaking with Berke and Dena Pearlman, C.C.S.A.’s executive director. He said Berke came to the precinct Monday asking to see the criminal complaint that she believed had been filed against her by the other side — but there was none. “Nobody’s stolen anything,” Alberici said. “There’s really no crime. It’s more of a civil case.” He noted that Berke has a letter from C.C.S.A. saying they were giving her ownership of the tiles. However, C.C.S.A. subsequently sent Berke another letter saying they wanted the tiles back. But Alberici said the second letter is a bit iffy, given that Berke was already given ownership. At any rate, he said, he’s hoping for a resolution by this Friday, adding, “I think I’m two-thirds of the way there.” A suitable storage facility — Crown Relocation — has been found for the tiles, and “they both agree that’s a good place for them,” Alberici said. The plan, at least for now, the detective said, is to park the patriotic painted squares there for six months, “and then I guess we’ll pick it up then.” For more on the tiles tumult, see the talking point by C.C.S.A.’s Pearlman on Page 21.
HOPING FOR HOLIDAY SALES: We were buying a couple of books at St. Mark’s Bookshop the other day — helping the cause and also because we needed some good stuff to put in our head — and got the latest word from a staffer there. The bookstore’s owners are reportedly hashing out a deal with some new investors that will allow them to restock the place’s shelves to last at least through the end of the year. That will let the bookstore make it through the lucrative holiday season, after which the owners still plan to relocate, hopefully somewhere nearby in the East Village.
TASTY HARVEST HAUL: The Union Square Partnership’s 17th annual Harvest in the Square raked in more than $347,000 last Thursday evening, making it the most successful Harvest in history. Nearly 1,200 people attended the food-and-wine-tasting event. More than 50 restaurants and nearly 20 wineries participated. In the last 16 years, Harvest in the Square has raised a total of nearly $2.5 million. The funds pay for a range of park initiatives, including plantings and programming for all ages, plus a full-time playground associate for the park’s new playground.
INSPECTOR DIETHER, WE PRESUME: When will scammers learn that Doris Diether simply cannot be conned? The long-serving member of Community Board 2, now in her 80s, said she recently discovered in her checking statement that a check was made out from her to a company called Alliance for $29.50. It didn’t even have her signature but was cashed. She reported it to the Sixth Precinct, but it turns out police don’t investigate check fraud under $30. There was a phone number on the check with an untraceable 877 area code. Diether called it and demanded her money back, and apparently put a scare into “Alliance.” “They decided I was going to be trouble,” she said, “so they decided to refund the money.” She has previously caught someone who stole $650 from her on her credit card, and also outfoxed an attempted postal fraud — “They closed his postal box in Arizona” — and even busted an international hoaxer. “That was fun,” she recalled with a chortle. “A guy in the Netherlands said I had inherited some money, but he needed cash to transfer it. I caught him on tape. They closed him down, too.” When will these losers give up? “You would think by now I’d be on an ‘A’ list,” Diether said, “like a ‘Don’t Call’ list.”
ROSIE’S CRUSTY CRACKDOWN: Councilmember Rosie Mendez is getting tough on the crusties. The East Village councilmember’s handout report to C.B. 2 last week said she’s aware of the complaints about the transient youths over the past summer. There were several high-profile incidents. First, crusties graffitied obscenities on St. Mark’s Church’s portico with white latex paint. Next, a crusty threatened and then stomped on the sunglasses of a senior citizen who complained after the drifter’s dog peed in the Washington Square fountain. Soon after that, a crusty was cuffed in Washington Square after he spat in the face of a Park Enforcement Patrol officer who was responding because the crusties’ canines were off leash. “Rosie’s office is working with outreach teams that provide services to homeless people to reach out to these youth in an effort to get them off the street,” Mendez’s report said. “The challenge in removing them is that people have the right to refuse services and to live in the street. Rosie is researching the laws that protect such transients with the intent of tightening up loopholes, so that in the future, these individuals will not have the opportunity to take over the sidewalks in the East Village and Lower East Side and thereby reduce the quality of life of residents.” The reported noted, “Adjusting the law will take some time. However it will soon get cold, too cold to live in the street, and the crusties will leave.”