Under Cover, Week Feb. 12, 2015

Silver fallout
After new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was named to replace Shelly Silver,  Downtown Assemblymember Deborah Glick last week criticized the “backroom negotiation” that led to his selection, but she also noted that the new speaker reappointed her to be chairperson of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee.

It got us wondering if things were changing in Albany now that Silver stands accused of illegally pocketing nearly $4 million — did members now feel free to oppose their leader? We asked Glick about it, immediately after she made the remarks at Community Board 1.

She challenged our premise. “I never felt in the past that I would be punished or penalized for doing what I thought was right,” she told us, saying she differed with Silver on judicial appointments and other matters.

Glick said when Silver spoke to the conference, “he did say to the members that he thought his focus and his attention was going to be elsewhere. So he opened the door early on for him to step aside.”

The fallout was definitely in the air at the meeting. Silver did not send a rep to update the board as he usually does.  We tried to suss out whether Heastie would allow the Lower Manhattan Schools Overcrowding Task Force, formed by Silver, to continue to meet at 250 Broadway, and find out any changes he planned to make at the N.Y.C. office but Heastie’s spokesperson didn’t comment. We don’t wonder why.

But two days after asking Heastie, Silver responded to us saying he remains committed to “providing high level constituent services.”

Lap dance to yoga?
What’s in a name, Shakespeare once asked. Sure, he was talking about love and a rose, but does a “gentlemen’s club” differ from a strip club or from a place where “sex-oriented” events occur?

In late 2013, when the owner of Remix went before Community Board’s FiDi Committee for a cabaret license, residents suspected that it really was a strip club and rallied against it — but it was never confirmed or denied by Panagiotis Kotsonis, who goes by Peter.

He was denied the cabaret license. Fast forward to last Wednesday’s committee meeting and the Kotsonis wants to renew his liquor license. Remix is an unusual establishment in that it has two entrances: one at 27 Park Place and one on Murray St.

Kotsonis didn’t do a lot of talking, but he when he did, he said he wanted to give up the second liquor license and maybe use the former bar space for yoga, kickboxing or meetings.

The committee passed a resolution about a year ago that stipulated that the Murray St. door was to have an alarm and would be used only for emergencies.

“There’s been some evidence that these terms are not being adhered to,” said Ro Sheffe, chairperson.

Howard Leader, the lawyer representing Kotsonis, reiterated several times that the owner wanted to work for the community and the community board but admitted that there were three incidents that involved using the Murray St. as an entrance, and residents in the back said there were a few more.

Leader then asked if they could use the Murray St. door as an entrance on a limited basis.

Linda Gerstman, committee member, told him that after “bad behavior” the club only now is offering to follow the guidelines as a way to loosen the restrictions. 

“I take your point,” said Leader.

Richard Dorado, a Murray St.  resident on Murray St. said,  the “sex-oriented events” cause the problems. “When they had security there, there were still large groups of men coming to these events, congregating in the street, making comments to women passing in the street, including daughters and wives and residents of the street. So security isn’t going to resolve it.”

Another resident Suellen Epstein said she saw “scantily-clad…women with clipboards signing people in” at the Murray St. entrance.

“We do know that there have been in the past these sex club events,” she said.

The committee decided to send a letter to the State Liquor Authority that they recommend provisional approval of the renewal provided that the Murray St. door is only used in emergencies and has an alarm.

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