LAURELS & DARTS
Opinion from the Editors
DART to New York City’s LAW DEPARTMENT, which, fifteen years after passing legislation designed to put a stop to lead poisoning in children, has issued $2 million in fines to landlords who violate the city’s lead-safe rules, but has collected only a tiny fraction of that amount. Local Law 1 was passed in 2004 to force landlords to stop using dangerous work practices when renovating residential buildings built before 1960, the year lead paint was banned. According to an analysis by renter advocacy groups, the city has since collected just $10,190 — or .5 percent of the fines issued. Lead exposure in children can lead to lifelong health consequences, including stunted brain development.
LAUREL to the LEGAL AID SOCIETY, which for years pushed NYPD brass to delete an illegal database of juvenile fingerprints, finally claiming victory this week. According to the nonprofit, the NYPD maintained a catalogue with tens of thousands of underage fingerprints, despite a state law forbidding agencies from keeping those records on minors. The Legal Aid Society first threatened to sue the department in 2015 to end the practice, but the NYPD maintained it was not breaking the law, as the records were only internally available. The department reversed course and informed the Legal Aid Society this week that it would dismantle the database.
LAUREL to the FORMER WORKERS of Sally Hershberger, an elite Upper East Side salon where a haircut costs as much as $1,000, who won a landmark discrimination lawsuit against their former employer this week. The stylists alleged that their own hairstyles — like afros and box-braids — were banned by a discriminatory dress code the salon implemented in 2015. Sally Hershberger told employees that the traditionally black styles “did not reflect the upscale image of the neighborhood,” the Times reported. The workers filed four complaints between 2016 and 2018 with the city’s Human Rights Commission, and the ensuing investigation eventually led to the city explicitly banning discrimination based on hair. The plaintiffs were awarded $70,000 in the civil suit.
DART to YOGITA PERSAUD, who has allegedly placed 24,000 bogus 911 calls since this summer. The 38-year-old was arrested Friday after she called the emergency hotline and claimed there was a fire coming from the basement of a Bronx building. Police are now investigating whether she’s responsible for a deluge of fake calls operators have fielded since June, including reports of fires, robberies and other crimes. Persaud is so far only charged with making one false call, but police believe she made over 200 on Friday alone.
LAUREL to LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA and several other “Hamilton” alums for saving the century-old Drama Book Shop, a landmark of the Broadway community that has struggled to pay the rent at its West 39th Street shop in recent years. The theater buffs purchased the business after the owners announced earlier this year they would have to close due to rising rents. The new owners have moved the inventory into storage and are now searching for a new space, with a planned re-opening in March. Miranda and “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail are particularly attached to the Drama Book Shop, since they wrote “In the Heights,” their first musical together, in the shop’s basement. “If I was ever stuck, I was surrounded by the greatest plays and musicals of all time,” Miranda told the Times.