Say No to Drugstore: Residents, Elected Officials to Protest Duane Reade Sign

duane reade 1  Say No to Drugstore: Residents, Elected Officials to Protest Duane Reade SignCity residents and elected officials are coming together this Sunday to rally against a flashing neon sign at an Upper West Side Duane Reade.

The flashing billboard, affixed to the second story of a Duane Reade at 72nd and Broadway, has generated complaints from neighborhood residents who say that the sign is disruptively bright. The Department of Buildings ordered the pharmacy chain to take the billboard down last month after ruling that the illuminated sign did not comply with the neighborhood’s regulations, and slapped the store with eight violations and over $6000 in fines.

“Duane Reade’s $250,000 jumbotron is a constant reminder of the store’s blatant disregard for the comfort and safety of the neighborhood,” said Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, who is spearheading Sunday’s protest. “Despite being issued eight notices of violation by the Department of Buildings for violating city zoning regulations and appeals by the community to take down the sign, the store refuses to remove it.”

Store representatives plan to contest the violations, and seem to be leaving the sign up in the meantime.

“I think the sign should come down,” said Councilmember Gale Brewer, who said she received a deluge of complaints from neighborhood residents when the sign first went up. “It’s a quality of life issue.

On the street level, opinions differ about the new addition to neighborhood. Most people The Observer talked to felt indifferent towards the sign. Some hardly noticed it in the daylight until it was pointed out.

A marketer who declined to give his name thought that the people in the neighborhood were “ridiculous” for wanting to stage a protest.  “I mean, if it interfered with your sleep, sure, but it’s still ridiculous,” he said. “It’s New York. People should be more bothered by the subway noise.”

Yet some took the opportunity to voice their unhappiness with the sign.

“It’s absolutely horrifying. It’s out of character with the neighborhood. It’s intrusive and it’s extremely distracting at one of the most, where it’s placed, at one of the most dangerous pedestrian intersections of New York,” said an attorney who has lived in the neighborhood since 2001. “I will not shop at the Duane Reade on account of that sign.”

Kasm Abu works at a kiosk directly across from the jumbotron. Glancing up at it, he says he hardly ever notices it. “Every day it’s the same thing,” he said with a shrug.

New Yorker Writer Responds to Rep. Grimm

grimm illo  New Yorker Writer Responds to Rep. GrimmNew Yorker writer Evan Ratliff defends his story about Rep. Michael Grimm, after the congressman gave his account to the Staten Island Advance editorial board.

Grimm also made some puzzling new assertions to the Advance. He said that Williams “instituted a lawsuit claiming damages of a million dollars.” The amount claimed, according to court documents (below), was $25,000. Grimm further said that he would not have suggested that “all the white people” could leave, because “to the best of my recollection … I was the only white person there.” I interviewed an employee of the club who is white and is quoted in the story, saying that Grimm specifically told him and other employees to leave.

In the Advance article Grimm also says that Williams was “on the hot seat” for moonlighting at the club and for not calling 911 when Grimm asked him to. The first part is true, as detailed in “The Mark.” Williams was later suspended for working off-duty at Caribbean Tropics without permission, a fact I learned from Williams himself. The second part may be true, too. But Williams does point out that he was never prosecuted or disciplined for failing to assist another law-enforcement officer or interfering with an F.B.I. investigation. “I wasn’t arrested,” Williams told me Tuesday. “I had no criminal charge against me. I retired in good standing.” Of Grimm’s response, he said, “he’s lying.”

And this gem:

There is one assertion of Congressman Grimm’s that I can confirm outright: I was, as he says, working on the story “for over a year.” I first heard about the main case described in the article, against a lawyer named Albert Santoro, in 2006, and began reporting in earnest at the beginning of 2010. In fourteen months I pored over thousands of pages of court documents, interviewed well over a hundred people, and obtained audiotapes of then-agent Grimm discussing both the Santoro case and other matters. But my original story pitch to editors at The New Yorker in January of 2010 contains no mention of Michael Grimm. At the time, I’d never heard of him.

The President, The Governor and the Poll Numbers

cuomo obama  The President, The Governor and the Poll NumbersKen Lovett noted Andrew Cuomo hasn’t made time to see President Obama during the president’s three trips to New York this month.

Cuomo’s people say he is busy running the state and is not actively trying to avoid the president.

Today’s Siena poll of Western New York’s 26th Congressional District shows that whatever the reason might be, it’s also good politics for Cuomo.

Here are the favorable / unfavorable numbers for the two Democratic executives in the relatively-conservative 26th district.

39-57 Obama
72-20 Cuomo

Guy Molinari: Trump Is ‘A Son of a Bitch’

large 01 23 staten island guy  Guy Molinari: Trump Is A Son of a BitchDonald Trump may run into trouble in his own backyard if he does decide to run for president.

Guy Molinari, the former congressman, borough president and longtime Staten Island political powerbroker called the real estate magnate turned reality television star “a son of a bitch–and you can quote me on that” during a brief interview earlier this week. The Politicker caught up with Molinari before a town hall hosted by Michael Grimm, a Molinari protege who was elected to Congress last fall.

“He is creating so many problems for us and for the legitimate candidates,” Molinari said. “He is not qualified.”

Molinari said he was holding out hope that his friend Rudy Giuliani would run again.

Of Trump, he said, “It becomes a game to him. He is enjoying the game.”

Molinari said he clashed with the developer when he served as Staten Island BP. Molinari however seemed to be unconcerned about the prospects of a President Trump. Or even a candidate Trump, for that matter.

“He will not run,” Molinari said. “He will absolutely not run.”

Club for Growth Labels Schumer ‘Job-Killing Protectionist’ [Update]

schumerviahisoffice  Club for Growth Labels Schumer Job Killing Protectionist [Update]Club for Growth president Chris Chocola is denouncing Chuck Schumer, calling the senator a “job-killing protectionist” in response to Schumer’s recent criticism of China’s economic policies.

“Americans benefit from free trade,” said Chocola in a press release this morning. “It forces companies to innovate and compete leading to greater variety, lower prices, and better quality goods and services.”

Club for Growth, which advocates and promotes free-market principles, has a long history of denouncing politicians who the group believes are not fiscally conservative enough. (The Club recently declared Donald Trump the “King of Protectionism” in response to his call for a 25 percent tax on Chinese imports.)

Schumer has been outspoken lately in his criticism of China’s economic policies following a trip to Beijing earlier this month; and yesterday he declared his intention to unveil “a bunch of legislation” that would encourage the country to play nice with the U.S. by accelerating the appreciation of the yuan.

In the past, Schumer tried to take similar legislative action when he sought to impose a tariff on Chinese imports, which the Club for Growth calls “protectionist.”

“Chuck Schumer likes to talk about how he’s looking out for the middle class,” said Chocola. “But he wants to hit Americans in all income brackets with a massive new sales tax on the goods they buy every day.”

UPDATE: A Schumer spokesman emailed a response from the senator. “It is a betrayal of free-trade principles to let China continue taking unfair advantage of the rest of the world’s economies. Every major American company that I met with in China told me that China does not trade fairly and their protectionism against foreign firms is getting worse. There is no bigger step we can take to promote U.S. job creation, particularly in the manufacturing sector, than to confront China’s currency manipulation and I intend to do just that.”

DCCC Raises Off Trump’s Antics

trump hands  DCCC Raises Off Trumps AnticsThe Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee emailed its supporters this morning, asking for donations to help fight back against Donald Trump.

The email — which came with the obligatory “You’re fired” subject line — opens with a question about why Trump has been so focused on the president’s birthplace.

“It’s simple,” explains Robby Mook, the DCCC executive director. “Trump knows he can appeal to the worst elements of the right-wing fringe and become the next Sarah Palin by unleashing vicious attacks on our President.”

Trump is — oddly — the most high-profile Republican target at the moment, as the more serious presidential candidates continue to lay low.

Note: Trump is the father in-law of the Observer‘s publisher, Jared Kushner.

Here’s the full email:

Reid —

Why has Donald Trump spent weeks perpetrating malicious lies about President Obama’s citizenship to fuel the long-discredited “birther” conspiracy?

It’s simple. Trump knows he can appeal to the worst elements of the right-wing fringe and become the next Sarah Palin by unleashing vicious attacks on our President.

With House Republicans set to end Medicare and give more tax breaks to the ultra rich, there is too much at stake to let carnival barkers like Trump take control of our national conversation.

Midnight Tomorrow marks the first FEC fundraising deadline since Trump began his media circus against President Obama. The pundits will use our totals to judge whether grassroots Democrats have President Obama’s back and are willing to fight for the issues that really matter or whether Donald Trump continues to rule the day.

Contribute $3 or more today so we can surpass our $250,000 grassroots goal for our Rapid Response Fund by the critical FEC deadline Midnight Tomorrow.

There’s nothing Donald Trump wants more than for grassroots Democrats to stay silent and let the media keep cheerleading his ridiculous sideshow.

That’s why this FEC deadline is so critical. It’s our chance to show the world that we have our President’s back. Most of all, it’s our chance to expose the GOP’s real extremist agenda — ending Medicare, defunding Planned Parenthood, destroying NPR, and giving huge tax breaks for billionaires and Big Oil companies.

Contribute $3 or more today so we can surpass our $250,000 grassroots goal for our Rapid Response Fund by the critical FEC deadline Midnight Tomorrow.

They can have Donald Trump. We have you.

Robby Mook
DCCC Executive Director

P.S. Midnight Tomorrow marks a critical FEC fundraising deadline. The media will use our totals to judge whether grassroots Democrats have President Obama’s back or whether Donald Trump’s sideshow continues to rule the day. Help us raise just $56,941 more for our grassroots Rapid Response fund by Midnight Tomorrow so we can tell Donald Trump that he’s fired!

Remembering Hope Reichbach

hopereichbach222  Remembering Hope ReichbachBrooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is mourning the death of 22-year-old City Council aide Hope Reichbach, who was found dead in her apartment yesterday afternoon.

“All of Brooklyn’s thoughts and prayers are with Hope’s parents, Judge Gustin Reichbach and Ellen Meyers, her friends, and of course, my condolences to Councilman Levin and his staff. Here at Borough Hall we had the good fortune of working with Hope, who was a committed and passionate public servant. She truly will be missed.”

One reader emailed me and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so freaked about the death of someone I knew so casually” describing Reichbach as “smart, vivacious, full of life.”

Update: Rep. Nydia Velazquez:

“Today Brooklyn lost not only a rising star but a dedicated civic servant. A natural for public service, Hope Reichbach was a young woman with many dreams and so much promise. My thoughts are with her parents Ellen and Gus and with all those whose lives she touched.”