Street Artists Protest Gerson-sponsored Vending Bills Friday, November 14th at City Hall

The “Gerson-Quinn Agreement” that NY City Council Member Alan Gerson (Washington Square Park is in his district) and Speaker Christine Quinn (Quinn covers the neighboring Village district) brokered was weak and gained little for the community they both represent.

At City Hall, a few weeks ago during the term limits hearings, Alan Gerson would never state his position on the matter. Yet, it came as no surprise to anyone that the day of the crucial vote he fell in line with Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, and voted for the legislation which would extend his own term.

So now Alan Gerson is on the attack of New York City’s street artists.

Info from Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T.:

400 Street Artists Will Protest at City Council Hearing on Vending

Press Conference and Protest: Friday, November 14, 9 AM City Hall (East Gate)

On Friday, November 14th, the NY City Council Committee on Consumer Affairs will hold a hearing on 8 of 21 pending laws concerning vending and street artists pushed for by City Council Member Alan Gerson.

If passed, these laws will make it virtually impossible for anyone to legally sell art on the street. More than 400 street artists will protest outside at 9 AM and then testify inside at the hearing at 10 AM.

Other City Council members to contact to register your opposition to these bills:

* Lacey Clarke, Legislative Counsel Committee on Consumer Affairs New York City Council Phone #: 212.788.7006

* Leroy Comrie, Consumer Affairs Committee Chairman
District Office Phone 718-776-3700
Legislative Office Phone 212-788-7084

Contact: Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T.: artistpres -at- gmail.com

You can get detailed info on all of the newly proposed vending laws at the ARTIST website.

Note: It was impossible to find a good photo of Alan Gerson on Flickr so I resorted to this one. No disrespect meant to Council Member Gerson.

Brooklyn journalist challenges NYC Parks Commissioner Benepe at Red Hook Park food vendors “return” ceremony

The Red Hook Park Latin food vendors were operating their food carts for over 30 years in that location when the NYC Parks Department threatened to remove them and replace them with more corporate, shiny entities (think Shake Shack-like). Local and political uproar (Senator Chuck Schumer, included) caused the Parks Department (which has oversight over the Park and vendors) to reverse course, a rare and welcome occurrence.

However, the City insisted they get new trucks (costing up to $50,000) and meet other regulations while moving them out of their original location. The vendors had to bid on the location of the spots they’d occupied for three decades when they were “under the radar.” Before Ikea and Fairway were moving into the neighborhood.

Gersh Kuntzman of the Brooklyn Paper, who has been covering the issue, challenged Parks Commissioner Benepe recently at the ceremony commemorating the return of the vendors to Red Hook Park.

Kuntzman writes:

…When I went to the “Welcome Back” press conference, I was ready to listen to the speeches, get a few benign quotes, and chow down.

But Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe treated the vendors — and the media — like such children that I lost my appetite. First, Benepe laughed about all the red tape he and his agency forced the vendors’ main organizer, Cesar Fuentes, to cut through.

“We really put him through the ringer,” Benepe joked. “When bureaucrats get together, they can make almost anything impossible. I’m surprised he didn’t give up.”

Many did. Only six of the original 13 vendors were back — now consigned to the street outside the park, rather than inside the fence next to the soccer fields where they belong. And those vendors complained bitterly — though certainly not to Benepe — about their added expenses and the needless three-month delay in getting their final approval from the city bureaucrats who hold too much power over their right to earn a fair day’s pay.

Read the full story and see video (of the event) from the Brooklyn Paper.