News Links – Special Thursday PM Edition

Residents of 128 Hester are still furious with their landlord and the city, a day after their building was declared unsafe. New York 1 was on the scene this morning when the people who lived in the six-floor walk-up were allowed to retrieve their belongings. City Councilman Alan Gerson blames the city for failing to follow up on more than 30 violations the building has received in recent years.

A State Supreme Court judge has upheld NYC's Tenant Protection Act. The law allows tenants to "sue their landlords in Housing Court for using threats or other disruptive tactics to try to force them out." As reported in the Times: "Tenant advocates said that as neighborhoods had gentrified in recent
years, landlords were being more aggressive in pushing out low-rent
tenants, often cutting off services or using threats to get their way.
The landlord group, the Rent Stabilization Association, opposed the law and disputed any claims that tenant harassment was a widespread problem in the city."

Now that our series of interviews with the District 1 City Council candidates is complete, Streetsblog.org makes an assessment of their views on transportation issues: "…Gerson has been one of the council's most vocal critics
of recent safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists. But after
reading up on the views of his competitors, it's doubtful that dumping
Gerson in the September 15 primary… would put a more progressive voice in City Hall."

Downtown Express is the latest newspaper to rail against New York's byzantine election laws – and according to an editorial – the First District Council race provides ample evidence that reform is sorely needed. A few excerpts:

It is up to the people to decide whether (Alan) Gerson deserves four more
years, not partisan hacks or judges. Does anyone really believe that on
those many pages of 7,000 signatures, there are not at least 900
registered Democrats living in the First District who signed up to put
Gerson on the ballot? It’s hard to blame the other candidates for trying to knock people off
the ballot. They are just playing by the warped rules that they were
given… The state should look around the country to see the systems that work
well in order to reform the election laws. The rules should be simple
enough so candidates don’t have to waste time with election lawyers and
can focus on the issues.

Incidentally, the Downtown Express is hosting a candidate forum August 17th at Pace University.

NY1 ran a brief item on the groundbreaking of the Hester Street Playground (we mentioned this one early today).

National media darling, Russ & Daughters, is part of the Food Network's latest creation, Chefs vs. City, debuting tomorrow night. From R&D's Lox Populi blog: "…chefs Aaron Sanchez and Chris Cosentino run around various cities to
challenge local foodies to tasks. We can’t talk too much yet about the
Russ & Daughters challenge, so you’ll have to tune in on Friday
night to see the action yourself."

LES hot spot Allen & Delancey has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – but the owners say there's nothing to fear: they're not closing.