By The City

Brooklyn Bistro Owner Says Far-Right Polish Pol Duped Her

More than 100 people packed into Greenpoint restaurant to hear a Polish nationalist politician speak on June 5th. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This story was originally published on 6/6/19 by THE CITY. (By: Claudia Irizarry Aponte)

A Brooklyn restaurant owner said her staff was blindsided when a Polish nationalist politician showed up with 100 followers Wednesday — spurring a backlash that may force her to permanently close.

“There was someone there who shouldn’t be and no one was expecting,” the woman, who asked not to be identified by name, told THE CITY through tears. “I don’t have nothing [to do] with this, I didn’t do anything… I don’t even agree with this.”

“We are not evil,” she added. “We didn’t do anything to bring this guy.”

Robert Winnicki, leader of the National Movement (Ruch Narodowy), a nationalist Polish political party, spoke at French Epi in Greenpoint after being barred from nearby St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

The restaurant’s manager, Jolanta Filip, said she received a reservation for 15 Wednesday night. Filip and her mother were the only two people working when a huge crowd rolled in to the small restaurant.

“In a matter of 15 minutes, we had a full house,” she said. “We weren’t prepared for this mass of people.”

More than 100 people packed into French Epi, overwhelming the staff.
More than 100 people packed into French Epi, overwhelming the staff. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Filip said she called the owner, who told her to eject Winnicki and his supporters. But the crowd — which threw out two journalists from THE CITY — wouldn’t leave.

“We are not a platform for anything,” added Filip, a single mother of three who was hoping to buy the restaurant from the recently widowed owner. Continue reading

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Far-Right Polish Politician Finds Brooklyn Perch After Church Ouster

More than 100 people packed into Greenpoint restaurant French Epi to hear Polish nationalist politician Robert Winnicki speak, June 5, 2019.
More than 100 people packed into Greenpoint restaurant French Epi to hear Polish nationalist politician Robert Winnicki speak, June 5, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

A far-right Polish nationalist whose planned appearance at a Brooklyn Catholic church was canceled amid protests took his act to a Greenpoint restaurant Wednesday night.

Robert Winnicki, the leader of the National Movement (Ruch Narodowy), a nationalist Polish political party, drew a crowd of about 100 that packed the French Epi restaurant, a little under a mile from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

Facebook posts had touted Winnicki’s appearance at the Humboldt Street church even after Brooklyn Diocese Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio canceled the speaking engagement Monday amid an uproar.

DiMarzio also nixed plans for speeches at St. Stanislaus Kostka and St. Frances de Chantal in Borough Park by Ewa Kurek, a Polish historian who has claimed some Jews collaborated with Nazis and enjoyed the German-occupied Polish ghettos of World War II.

The New York Archdiocese later canceled a stop at East Harlem’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Kurek, who gained kinder notices for a 1996 book she wrote about Polish nuns who saved Jewish children during the Holocaust. Continue reading

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Brooklyn Churches Cancel Speeches by Right-Wing Polish Figures

Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Greenpoint canceled an appearance by a controversial Polish author. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This story was originally published on 6/3/19 by THE CITY. (By: Claudia Irizarry Aponte)

Catholic officials on Monday abruptly canceled speeches by two right-wing Polish figures at Brooklyn churches after local leaders’s protest letter to Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and inquiries by THE CITY.

Historian Ewa Kurek, who has claimed some Jews collaborated with Nazis and enjoyed the German-occupied Polish ghettos of World War II, was supposed to speak this week at three churches: St. Stanislaus Kostka in Greenpoint, St. Frances de Chantal in Borough Park and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Harlem.

Meanwhile, Polish far-right politician Robert Winnicki was also set to appear at St. Stanislaus Kostka. He’s the leader of the “National Movement” (Ruch Narodowy), a nationalist Polish political party.

But as anger over the events spread over the weekend, local activists drafted a letter to DiMarzio, urging the Church to “stand up for the common good, working towards a more loving and cohesive society while remaining neutral within such mired politics.” Continue reading

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Besieged Brooklyn Loft Tenants Have High Hopes But Few Options

240 Broadway in Williamsburg, on May 8, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This story was originally published on 5/31/19 by THE CITY. (By: Claudia Irizarry Aponte and Josefa Velasquez)

For months, residents of a Williamsburg artists’ loft have been pleading with city agencies to help them gain protection under the state’s Loft Law.

Now the Department of Buildings is finally paying heed — just as the building’s management has begun asking tenants to leave 240 Broadway.

The residents called on the Department of Buildings in January to revoke the property’s certificate of occupancy as a mixed-use building, arguing the department overlooked dangerously shoddy construction 16 years ago.

If the certificate from 2003 is yanked, the tenants believe they will be able to apply for protection under the Loft Law, which would shelter them from arbitrary eviction, inordinate rent increases and subpar living conditions.

“You just assume your sprinkler system is up to code and there are no flags,” Britta Riley, a painter who has been living in the cast-iron building for 12 years, told THE CITY. “We didn’t even know to look into the Department of Buildings’ records.”

The building’s construction permits were obtained beginning in 2003 by Henry Radusky, an architect investigated in 2002 by the Department of Buildings for questionable paperwork on another project and sanctioned with a one-year curtailment of his filing rights. Radusky did not return calls for comment.

The Department of Buildings disregarded tenants’ pleas, for months, they say — only to inspect the building on May 17 and again on May 23, after THE CITY started asking questions.

Now, an audit of the original certificate of occupancy is underway.

“Following concerns raised by the tenants and local elected officials, DOB has initiated an audit of the 2003 alteration project at 240 Broadway and the resultant Certificate of Occupancy,” the department said in a statement to THE CITY last week. Continue reading

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Brooklyn Board Manager Defends SUV Splurge: ‘I’m Not Going to Parties’

Brooklyn Community Board 1’s vehicle parked in front of the office, May 29, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This story was originally published on 5/30/19 by THE CITY.

The manager of a community board under fire for buying a $26,000 SUV with public funds defended the purchase Wednesday night — insisting the vehicle was needed to get around Brooklyn for business.

“I’m not going to parties,” Gerald Esposito, Community Board 1’s district manager told THE CITY.

He broke his silence days after THE CITY reported the Williamsburg and Greenpoint board bought the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid with part of a one-time $42,500 budget-booster the City Council gave to all 59 community boards last year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an investigation Friday as the City Council promised to examine community board spending citywide and other public officials questioned the purchase.

The issue came up at an at times contentious CB1 session Wednesday night, where Dealice Fuller, the board chair, tried to clamp down on questions. When one member of the public asked about the SUV, Fuller slammed her hand on the table in front of her and said, “I don’t have to talk to you.”

Tempers frayed as the meeting wore on. “To have my name ruined over $26,000 is ludicrous,” Fuller said.

Esposito complained of getting “calls from random people asking me to use the car. It’s personal!”

‘I Don’t Need This Car’

Earlier, Esposito, the head of a local Democratic club and the board’s manager for four decades, told THE CITY the vehicle was needed to shuttle Fuller, CB1’s volunteer chair.

Brooklyn Community Board 1 District Manager Gerald Esposito said during a public meeting he felt unfairly blamed for the purchase of a vehicle for the board, May 29, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Continue reading

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