Pataki commits to Downtown timeline
By Josh Rogers
Responding to criticisms that the Lower Manhattan rebuilding efforts are proceeding too slowly, Gov. George Pataki last week released an extensive timeline of short and long-term goals, such as a new Greenmarket, which will open across the street from the World Trade Center site this summer, and the last piece – a Downtown link to J.F.K. Airport and the Long Island Rail Road in 2013.

L.M.D.C. begins search for W.T.C. memorial ideas
By Josh Rogers
Any adult with $25 and an idea of how to remember the victims of the 2001 and 1993 terror attacks on America now has the chance to design the permanent memorial for the World Trade Center site.

Chinatown businesses battle SARS fears and rumors
By Elizabeth O’Brien
As rumor played tug-of-war with reality last week in Chinatown, community members voiced concern that an outbreak of the SARS virus—actual or perceived—could bring further economic damage to an area already struggling with fears of the illness.

Police clash with crowds rushing Chinatown banks
By Josh Rogers
Chinatown resembled Bedford Falls at its worst last week as an old-fashioned bank panic prompted over 1,000 immigrants to crowd two neighborhood banks in scenes reminiscent of the rush on the Bailey Building and Loan in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

12 new members join Community Board 1
By Elizabeth O’Brien
For the second year in a row, an unusually high number of new members will join Community Board 1. Retroactive as of April 1, 12 appointees began their two-year terms.

Fields finds a conflict of interest in Pier 40 vote
By Lincoln Anderson
Borough President C. Virginia Fields’ office has just ruled that one of the members of Community Board 2’s waterfront committee had a conflict of interest in voting on matters pertaining to the redevelopment of Pier 40 as part of the Hudson River Park.

Vesuvio, famed bread shop in Soho, is sold
By Albert Amateau
Vesuvio Bakery, at 160 Prince St., where Anthony Dapolito, unofficial Mayor of Greenwich Village, has presided for more than two generations, changed hands last month.

News Briefs
Downtown local

B.P.C. neighbors

Water St. deals

Tribeca teen discovered

Garden winner

Peking staying for now

Gill reappointed

Letters To The Editor

Editorials
Pataki timeline a welcome step
Gov. George Pataki last week began to do what we and others have been calling on him to do: start making decisions about Downtown’s future.

Downtown Notebooks
Krugman up close: ‘What went wrong?’
By John W. Sutter
Paul Krugman, one of the Bush administration’s most tenacious and effective critics arguing from no better perch than a bi-weekly column in the New York Times, addressed a New School University audience last week on the subject, “What went wrong?




Police clash with crowds rushing Chinatown banks

By Josh Rogers

Crowds outside the Canal branch of Abacus Bank last.
Photos by Lorenzo Ciniglio

Chinatown resembled Bedford Falls at its worst last week as an old-fashioned bank panic prompted over 1,000 immigrants to crowd two neighborhood banks in scenes reminiscent of the rush on the Bailey Building and Loan ain “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Crowds gathered outside the Chinatown branches of the Abacus Federal Savings Bank at 6 Bowery and 181 Canal St. April 22 in response to reports that a bank manager was fired for embezzling money and that their savings were in jeopardy even though the bank is federally insured.

The manager, Carol John Mee Lim, reportedly took about $1 million from the bank and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan announced that it had charged her with embezzlement April 25. Lim remains at large.

The day of the rush, police shoved individual members of the crowd in efforts to keep it manageable and at one point pressed barricades restraining the crowd into storefronts in an attempt to get more people to back away from the bank. A television reporter on the scene at the Bowery said he saw one officer push several women to the ground.

“I’m going to punch you in the mouth,” a police officer named Muldoon shouted at someone in the crowd at the Bowery. Officer Muldoon was not near the area where women were said to have been pushed to the ground. An officer Chin, who declined to give his first name, said someone in the crowd grabbed his tie and ran away.

There did not appear to be any serious injuries at the scene.

One officer shouted, “Listen, nobody’s getting in. Shut your mouth.” Another, who used profanity, said: “You want your money, you move back. You stay where you are, you don’t get [crap].”

As it turned out, most of the crowd was not allowed to enter the bank and was told to return the next day at 8:30 a.m. when the bank reopened. The crowd was orderly as it left the Bowery at about 3:45 p.m., 15 minutes after the bank normally closes. Customers reportedly withdrew $2 million last week.

Police supervisors estimated that the crowd outside of the Bowery branch peaked at 500, although the number appeared to be closer to 1,000. Several hundred people gathered outside the Canal branch.

Captain James McCarthy, commander of the Fifth Precinct, said he thought it was “one of the more orderly crowds.”

Inspector Joseph Riley said, “Anytime you’re talking about people’s life savings, people are concerned.”

A woman whose first name is Tsang waited on the line for hours and said she was worried her savings, which was well over $1,000, wouldn’t be there. “They said ‘no money,’ ” she said bank employees told her early in the day. “ ‘You come back tomorrow.’ ”

She said she worked in a garment shop in Midtown and lived in Brooklyn, but she used Abacus because they speak Chinese. She was one of the few people in the crowd who spoke English.

Philip Lam of the Fujianese-American Association came to help with crowd management and reassure people that their money was safe. “A rumor will kill the bank,” Lam said. “This will do bad damage to their reputation.” He estimated that 90 percent of the crowd was from the Fujian Province of China.

Vera Sung, Abacus’ attorney and the daughter of the bank’s founder, Thomas Sung, made a statement to reporters after the crowd dispersed, but did not answer questions. “We are a big bank. We are federally insured….We are honoring all accounts.”

Sung, formerly a prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, said most people who got into the bank had not closed their accounts. Those who entered with their red bankbooks stood on a short line and withdrew at least some of their money. Others came to check on their security boxes. Some were seen counting stacks of bills they received from a teller. Police allowed about 20 people at a time into the Bowery branch even though there was enough space to accommodate at least three times that many.

The bank, founded in 1984, also has branches in the city’s other two Chinese neighborhoods, Flushing and Sunset Park, as well as the Chinese section of Philadelphia.

Lam, translating a Chinese notice issued by the bank, said the employee was “‘laid off’ ” on April 13. The notice reportedly said the bank had accumulated over $23 million in profits. “ ‘Most of the employees are law-abiding people,’ ” Lam translated. “ ‘You don’t have to worry about your accounts.’ ”

Josh@DowntownExpress.com

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IS. 89 film festival ahead of that Tribeca one
By Laura S. Greene
When you grow up in artsy Downtown, maybe you’re never too young to start making documentary and narrative shorts. In fact, you can take an afterschool class to teach you how.

Family Life

Well-played scrimmage
Many of the Downtown Little League games were canceled last weekend because of Saturday’s rain, but the Royals and Diamondbacks played a hard-fought scrimmage on Sunday in East River Park.

High school to open
Millennium High School will occupy its Downtown digs for the start of the school year this September, thanks in part to government funds earmarked for post-Sept. 11 revitalization.

Some parents concerned over new ferry terminal
By Jane Flanagan
A new, temporary ferry terminal, with diesel engine boats shuttling in and out, is set to open in May, across from Rockefeller Playground and Park. Its opening will coincide with the start of the summer season, the busiest time at the park and some neighborhood parents say they are worried.

Children

Resourceful babysitter is quite an icebreaker
By Jane Flanagan
At a preschool event some weeks ago, a woman I’d never met introduced herself and told me that my son Rusty, 41/2, was over at her place having dinner. She knew Rusty well, she said, and he and her 2-year-old daughter were good friends.

Children’s Activities
Everything you will need to plan play with your kid

Arts & Entertainment

Before the M.T.A., I remember Kalikow at The Post
By JERRY TALLMER
In late February or early March of 1988, I stood on the floor of the city room of the New York Post — then on South St., just north of the Brooklyn Bridge — and, with maybe a hundred other ink-stained (okay, computer-stained) wretches, survivors of close to a dozen near-death experiences of our beloved rag throughout the previous 10 years, listened to the new owner introduce himself.

Koch on film
Mayor Koch reviews Raising Victor Vargas and Lilya 4-Ever

Home

Room for Improvement
The best places to let there be light
By Beth Lee Segal
Whenever we turn the clocks ahead to signal spring’s arrival, I ask myself, “how did I live without the clear, pure light of this season?”

The Penny Post
Eulogy for a certain someone
By Andrei Codrescu
One day, a child who had been daydreaming under the big tree, was intercepted by an angry adult who looked at him with one hand on her hip and a ruler in her hand. “What, what?” mumbled the dreamer, who had just driven back an army of intruders and was about to make his victory speech before men in tophats who represented the best minds of all times in the fields of the sciences, arts, and diplomacy.\

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