Scoopy’s Notebook


Stop the madness:

Led by local activist Yetta Kurland, a group of about 40 people gathered at Union Square in the frigid cold Tuesday evening for a vigil after the horrifying shooting in Tucson on Sat., Jan. 8. They called for restrictions on high-capacity ammunition clips and also for greater vigilance by caregivers, so that mentally ill individuals that also are dangerous don’t have access to weapons, and especially not such high-powered ones. Colin Weaver, deputy executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, spoke in support of Congressmember Carolyn McCarthy’s bill, which she planned to introduce this week, to ban clips with more than 10 bullets. Saturday’s deranged shooter, Jared Loughner, had a clip with 30 bullets — which was “hanging out 12 inches,” noted antigun activist Deanna Tilley — and there was another bullet loaded, as well, allowing him to shoot 31 times in a minute. District Leader Paul Newell spoke to the need for better mental health services to assure that mentally ill, potentially violent individuals don’t “fall through the cracks.” Dodge Landesman, a youth advocate and member of Community Board 6, said that, to him, it was most tragic that Christina Green, a 9-year-old girl who had come to meet Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords at her constituents event, was among the fatalities. “This little girl was so excited about getting into politics,” Landesman said. “We’re not speaking out against the Tea Party,” he added, “we’re speaking out against the heated rhetoric.” Kurland said it was natural to want to respond to hate with hate, but she said that impulse must be resisted, after which they held a moment of silence. Other speakers included Councilmember Rosie Mendez; Jeanne Wilcke, president of Downtown Independent Democrats; and Natasha Dillon of Queer Rising. … On a side note, this “candlelight vigil” had no candles. Kurland said when she applied for the permit, she was informed that the Parks Department has banned burning candles in the parks at such events. So, instead, Tuesday’s vigilers used purple, pink, green or orange glow sticks. We asked Parks if the department really is snuffing out candlelight vigils. Spokesperson Philip Abramson replied, “The concern about using actual candles stems from safety hazards involving dripping wax and open flames, to permanent damages that can result from candles, including burnt bench slats and char marks on statues. I wouldn’t characterize it as a new policy, but it’s something we’ve been advising event organizers during the past few years — to employ other lighting devices, such as glow sticks.”

M.T.A.-signs hostage crisis:

Billy Leroy told us last week that his Billy’s Antiques and Props tent is at its 11th hour. He was doing a brisk business in old subway signs at his tent on E. Houston St. and Bowery until the Metropolitan Transportation Authority filed a claim on more than 100 signs and had the police seize them last year. The M.T.A. said that 19 of the signs were definitely stolen — but the agency claimed all of them. Billy said he bought them all from a contractor that the agency hired to dispose of them. The criminal case was dismissed last year because prosecutors said they couldn’t prepare the cases within the legal deadline — but the M.T.A. still has the signs. Under state law, dismissal of criminal charges doesn’t automatically entitle a defendant to get property back unless the district attorney grants a waiver. The office of D.A. Cy Vance Jr. has declined to sign off, saying that ownership of the signs is still unclear. “I’ve tried to contact the D.A. because they won’t even give me back the 95 signs that the M.T.A. has said are not stolen,” Billy said. “They claimed only 19 were stolen.” His only recourse is to file an Article 78 civil suit charging the agency with overstepping its authority. But the cost of the lawsuit could exceed the value of the signs. Criminal Court Judge Rita Mella was sympathetic in her decision last week denying a motion to return the signs. She said the state Legislature ought to change the law. Requiring a civil action is “a measure that places a substantial financial burden on [Leroy] and contravenes the due process rights the courts and the Legislature have sought to protect,” Mella said.

Cyclists beware:

Bikers pedaling in the Sixth Precinct — between 14th and Houston Sts., west of Broadway — better keep on their toes. Sixth Precinct police are issuing warnings to bicycle riders to obey the rules, such as the ones that say, except for riders under the age of 12 on bikes with wheels less than 26 inches in diameter, cyclists must ride on the street, in the direction of vehicular traffic, and not on sidewalks. Yielding to pedestrians is also the rule. Cyclists must also obey all traffic signals, pavement markings and must use marked bicycle lanes or bike paths when available.