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Disco Discord: NYPD and Nightlife Owners Clash Over Party-Crashing ‘Raids’

(photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

Brooklyn DIY staples Palisades and Silent Barn are just two of many nightlife spaces that have been subject to a Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots, or MARCH—a Giuliani-era creation that summons members of the NYPD, FDNY, State Liquor Authority, Department of Buildings, and more to an establishment that’s been deemed problematic, usually at peak weekend hours and usually without warning.

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Get Ready to Dance On the Grave of the Cabaret Law, Set to Be Repealed

Council Member Rafael Espinal and others at a hearing on the Office of Nightlife and cabaret law repeal in June (photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

Those attending bars and clubs in NYC can soon collectively shake their hips without fear, as a bill repealing the Prohibition-era cabaret law is slated to pass the City Council tomorrow. The repeal marks a win for the coalition of individuals and advocacy groups like the Dance Liberation Network and NYC Artist Coalition who have spent many months attending hearings, making calls, and staging town halls in their quest to make a ban on social dancing a thing of the past.

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What Can the Night Mayor Do? The DIY Scene Discusses

Great turnout to support small cultural spaces in New York City !

A post shared by MARKET HOTEL – 1140 Myrtle Ave (@market.hotel) on

There’s a new (Night) Mayor in town, or at least there will be soon. On August 24, City Council member Rafael Espinal’s bill to establish an Office of Nightlife and Nightlife Advisory Board was passed by the council, then signed into law on September 19, in a ceremony that included even Marky Ramone. In light of this, some wondered about what this “night mayor” would actually do. Last night, the soon-to-reopen venue Market Hotel was flooded with artists, partiers, community members, and politicians for a town hall on what the people want from the Office of Nightlife.

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Anti-Dance Law Repeal Supported By Everyone From de Blasio to Duke Ellington’s Family

the crowd on Thursday (photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

On August 24, the City Council passed Council Member Rafael Espinal’s Office of Nightlife bill, which would establish a “night mayor” and nightlife task force to mediate between residents, the government, and the nightlife industry. This was good news for the city’s nightlife operators, particularly smaller DIY spaces that currently have to wade through a web of complicated regulations with little to no assistance or funding. However, the Nightlife Office on its own would not solve everything. Not when dancing still remains largely illegal in New York City. Keep Reading »

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‘Office of Nightlife’ Bill Passes, Aims to Ease the Headache of Booze Pouring

Council Member Rafael Espinal and others at a hearing on the Office of Nightlife and cabaret law repeal in June (photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

Back in May, City Council member Rafael Espinal announced a plan to sponsor legislation that would create an “Office of Nightlife” and “Nightlife Advisory Board.” After a lengthy hearing and initial City Council approval, the latest version of the bill passed the council with a strong majority later today.

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City Council Passes Sweeping Tenant Protections

Credit: Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center.

Yesterday the City Council passed a sweeping package of pro-tenant legislation long advocated by tenants’ rights groups, activists, and sympathetic city officials. One of the key organizations that lobbied for the legislation, the “Stand for Tenant Safety” coalition, held a support rally outside City Hall.

The main target of the new legislation is the widespread practice of “construction as harassment,” whereby landlords use invasive, unsafe, and sometimes illegal construction to drive out tenants. Typically the landlords are trying to get rent-regulated tenants out so they can charge market rents.

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Pols Condemn Hit-and-Run Drivers After Weekend Deaths of Two Brooklynites

City councilman Stephen Levin speaks during press conference.

“There is a no more senseless or inhumane action than to leave a body in the street,” declared city councilman Ydanis Rodriguez at a news conference earlier today at the Greenpoint intersection where 27-year-old Neftaly Ramirez was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver early Saturday morning.

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Nightlife Advocates and Politicians Want to Dance on the Grave of NYC’s Cabaret Law

(photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

Yesterday, hundreds flocked to City Hall to discuss the future of nightlife in New York City at a consumer affairs oversight hearing. It was the first of its kind in over a decade to address the city’s oft-decried cabaret law, which has been in effect since 1926.

“The City licenses bars, clubs, taverns, and discos that allow dancing,” states the City of New York’s official website. “A place that is open to the public and sells food or drinks must have a Cabaret License to allow customers to dance.”

And yet, there currently are only 97 of these licenses in effect. Considering there are thousands of bar and nightclub establishments in New York City where one might feel compelled to shake their hips, there is little wonder that City Council members Rafael Espinal and Antonio Reynoso called themselves both “young Dominicans representing north Brooklyn” and “dance outlaws.” Keep Reading »

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Bushwick City Council Rep Denounces Trump’s Latest Series of Executive Orders

City Council Member Antonio Reynoso speaks at a rally in support of the Right to Know Act in April 2016 (Photo: Kavitha Surana)

City Council Member Antonio Reynoso speaks at a rally in support of the Right to Know Act in April 2016 (Photo: Kavitha Surana)

On the heels of President Trump signing three executive orders “designed to restore safety in America,” City Council Member Antonio Reynoso is condemning the actions as “deeply concerning.” In a statement, he says it was “only fitting” that Trump signed the orders “while swearing in noted racist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.”

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Newly Signed Law Will Help Keep OId Folks Homes From Becoming Rich Folks Homes

(Photo: Kavitha Surana)

(Photo: Kavitha Surana)

It’s too late to save Rivington House, the former HIV treatment facility that a non-profit nursing home operator unexpectedly flipped to a luxury developer after the city quietly lifted a deed restriction. But a bill signed into law today should do something to prevent buildings designated for community use from becoming luxury condos.

The new law requires the city to maintain a searchable online database of properties with deed restrictions, and forces developers who want to have them lifted to inform their local City Council member, community board, and borough president. The law requires the mayor, a specially formed committee, and the Department of City Planning to review any such requests, and approve them with the mayor’s personal sign-off only if they’re deemed to be in the city’s best interest. While there had been talk of requiring the city’s stringent Uniform Land Use Review Procedure in such scenarios, the new law stops short of that.

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5 Ways New Yorkers Can Fight the ‘Shocking Turn’ Our Country Has Taken

(Flyer via office of CM Stephen Levin)

(Flyer via office of CM Stephen Levin)

You might have noticed that since the election, stories of hate crimes and swastika sightings have been everywhere. But the increase isn’t simply due to a greater public interest in issues like police brutality and racially-motivated violence– hate crimes themselves have actually been on the rise. And quantifiably so: in the first 10 days after Trump’s victory, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 867 “bias-related incidents” across the country. (And yet, the government itself has no reliable way of tracking hate crime. “That’s because reporting of hate crimes is voluntary, not mandatory,” CNN reported yesterday.)

As New Yorkers, we live in one of the most progressive and diverse cities in the nation, so we might think that hate crimes only happen in rural America, and are therefore not our problem. Unfortunately, that’s just patently false. Back in November, Governor Cuomo said that the “ugly political discourse” of the campaign trail has only gotten worse, having transformed into an all-out “social crisis” of hate crime and intolerance. “This fear and this anger, misdirected, seeks an enemy,” he said. “It seeks a target and that target has become people who we see as different than ourselves.” Recently, Cuomo launched a Statewide hotline for reporting “incidents of bias and discrimination.” According to the NYPD, hate crimes have been on the rise in the last year right here in New York City– as of November 13, 328 had been reported since the start of 2016. (As Gothamist noted, that’s a 31.5 percent increase since 2015.)

Ok, that’s a little overwhelming. So how can we even begin to respond to awful garbage like this?

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The Future of ’80/20′ Affordable Housing Hangs in the Balance: Can 421-A Be Fixed?

(Photo: C Ceres Merry)

(Photo: C Ceres Merry)

You may not have realized it, but the city has been in the midst of a “developocalypse” since January, when the state’s 421-a program expired. For decades, the program had fueled development by excusing building owners of property taxes for up to 25 years so long as they devoted at least 20 percent of their units to affordable housing. Earlier this month, it was announced that the stalemate that brought on the developocalpyse, or at least that’s how developers understood it, was over. As the state legislature now mulls over whether to approve the reauthorization of 421-a, City Council members are seeking ways to fix it, and make sure the program fulfills its original mission of creating affordable housing.

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