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A Search for Comity in the Intellectual Property Wars: symposium at The New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, April 28-30, 2006 [slides, audio, transcripts]
download the report [PDF]
Carriage House, Islip Art Museum (Built in 1910, the Carriage House is one of the few remaining examples of Edwardian shingle architecture at the turn of the century.)
via Artnet News, Aug 14:
ISLIP ART MUSEUM ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK
The Islip Art Museum in Islip, N.Y., long a home for experimental art on Long Island, is facing probable closure as the town looks to grapple with a $10-million budget hole by laying off city workers. After what Newsday called "a rowdy and emotionally charged" meeting on Tuesday, the Islip Town Board voted to let go of 97 city workers -- including, it seems, the entire museum staff.
Islip Museum director Mary Lou Cohalan told Artnet Magazine that the Town of Islip was in negotiation with the nonprofit Islip Arts Council about taking over the museum, but that negotiations would take at least four months, while layoffs will come much sooner. "Closing for any length of time will have a negative impact on our audience, on our schedule (we will have to cancel exhibits) and on our reputation with our grantors," said Cohalan.
At emotional meeting, Islip approves worker layoffs
August 11, 2009 By JENNIFER MALONEY email@example.com
At a rowdy and emotionally charged meeting Tuesday, the Islip Town Board adopted a resolution to lay off 97 workers - but also approved an amendment that calls for reducing that number next month if the union offers money-saving concessions.
Town officials said the workforce reduction will help fill a projected $10-million budget hole in 2010 caused by falling mortgage tax and interest revenues. Without it, residents would face a 25 percent increase in their town taxes, they said.
The 4-1 vote was preceded by an hour of public comments in which town employees, union representatives, residents and political candidates pleaded with the board to avoid layoffs.
"I have a family, a house; I'm about to send my daughter to college in two weeks," said Martin Lubliner, 48, a 28-year town security guard. "I hope that in your heart, you can find some compassion for myself and the many fine employees of the town."
The town will now forward a list of 86 full-time and 11 part-time positions slated for elimination to the Suffolk County Civil Service Department for review, town officials said. The amendment calls for the town board to revisit the list at its Sept. 15 meeting and, if union negotiations have produced savings, reduce the number of layoffs.
Speakers criticized the cuts to public safety, the town's animal shelter and the Islip Art Museum, which is slated to lose its entire staff. The town is seeking to transfer stewardship of the museum to a nonprofit arts organization.
Tempers ran hot as Supervisor Phil Nolan, a Democrat, and Councilman Steven Flotteron, the board's only Republican, verbally sparred during the public comment period and in the debate preceding the vote - each accusing the other's party of fiscal mismanagement.
The nearly 200 people who packed Town Hall jeered and whistled in response. Flotteron made a motion to table the layoff resolution. It was not seconded.
Flotteron also attempted to introduce an unscheduled resolution that would cut salaries, revoke take-home cars and require health insurance contributions for elected, appointed and management positions with salaries over certain thresholds.
Nolan declined to entertain the motion because it was not on the agenda and the board members had not had time to consider it.
As the board prepared to vote, Richard Hendershot, vice president of the town workers' union, Teamsters Local 237, stood and shouted: "We have an opportunity here to save jobs. Don't send these people out the door!"
Councilman Christopher Bodkin responded, "All of us in every way feel for you, and understand the tragedy of being laid off. We also see our responsibility to the taxpayers."
Please consider writing an email or letter today in support of the Islip Art Museum.
For updates and more info see my Facebook thread;
For more details and a really good sample letter see Art Fag City;
Article in Newsday: Islip Town to vote on layoffs to close $10M budget gap. (August 10, 2009).
received Friday Aug 7, via email:
Among the marks of Manhattan’s prosperity in recent years were the thousands of restaurants and shops that opened to meet an ever-growing demand. Confident in the appetite for spending — on expensive shampoo at 24-hour drugstores, cheese plates at sleek wine bars and clothes at minimalist boutiques — store owners signed high-rent leases with little haggling.
But as New Yorkers have drastically cut back, the shops that line the streets, from chain outlets to family-run shops, have started to disappear.
The storefront vacancy rate in Manhattan is now at its highest point since the early 1990s — an estimated 6.5 percent — and is expected to exceed 10 percent by the middle of next year, according to data gathered by Marcus & Millichap Research Services, a national real estate investment brokerage based in Encino, Calif.
And those numbers do not capture the full story. Some of the more desirable shopping districts are littered with empty storefronts. For example, Fifth Avenue between 42nd Street and 49th Street, the stretch just south of Saks Fifth Avenue, has a vacancy rate of 15.3 percent, according to the brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.
In SoHo, from West Houston Street to Grand Street and Broadway to West Broadway, among the high-end boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, 1 in 10 retail spaces are now empty or about to be.
“I’ve never seen such an across-the-board problem,” said Lorraine Nadel, a lawyer who has represented tenants and landlords for 18 years. “Store owners can’t pay their rent, and they can’t keep their businesses going.”
It has long been difficult to run a small business in Manhattan, but a number of struggling store owners cite high rents and their landlords’ unwillingness to negotiate as the leading obstacles to their survival.
“It’s a crisis,” said Stephen Null, director of the Coalition for Fair Business Rents, which has been promoting legislation to protect small businesses in lease negotiations since 1984. “Lease renewals are the single biggest killer of small businesses in New York City.”
Manhattan, with its high density, high incomes and near-constant foot traffic, has maintained a strong storefront culture while other urban areas have seen their downtowns empty out and lose customers to suburban malls.
Stores and restaurants in New York are open longer hours, increasing the potential for revenue, and residents tend to shop near where they live, if just by necessity.
But because stores are such a part of their neighborhoods, the closings can have more of an emotional impact on residents.
“New York is different than the rest of America because it is the last bastion of storefronts,” said Kenneth T. Jackson, a historian at Columbia University. “You don’t live in a city of eight and a half million people. You live in a city of neighborhoods.”
“We feel a loss when the store is gone,” he added.
In one block alone, on the west side of Lexington Avenue between 74th and 75th Streets, three stores have closed in the past few months: a women’s clothing shop called Cantaloup, a luggage shop and a design store — places that the locals say had thrived for years. Those closings followed that of a sandwich shop across the street.
“The fabric of the neighborhood is up for grabs right now,” said Elaine Abelson, a professor of history at the New School who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years.
The outlook is even worse in other boroughs. Hessam Nadji, managing director of research services at Marcus & Millichap, estimates that vacancy rates in Brooklyn and Queens, currently at 7 to 10 percent, will rise to 12 to 15 percent by year’s end. He said some neighborhoods have been ravaged by vacancy rates of 25 to 40 percent.
The problem is so bad that the city has become involved. It has offered grants for worker training, and it held a session last Wednesday on how to negotiate leases. Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, held a conference called “Rescue and Recovery for Small Businesses” on July 13 that drew 320 people, among them owners of an organic grocery store, a wine bar, and a coffeehouse and bookstore who swapped advice on how to keep their businesses afloat.
High rents in the recession are the “last straw for small business in New York City,” Mr. Stringer said, “and I hear it everywhere I go.”
Without these storefronts, he said, the city loses “our special sauce that gives us our panache.”
The City Council is weighing in, too, considering a Small Business Survival Act that would require businesses to have the option of 10-year leases, renewals and the right to mediation if they cannot reach an agreement.
The legislation does not have the support of the Bloomberg administration, which argues that tracking lease negotiations would be too costly because of expenses like hiring staff, and that the need for such a law has “greatly dissipated” because rents have declined.
But as jobs disappear and neighborhoods suffer, the tide of opinion is growing that the government may need to step in. While data on the challenges of small business owners is limited, a survey of 937 Hispanic small business owners conducted by the U.S.A. Latin Chamber of Commerce between November 2008 and January 2009 found that most of them said they would not stay in the city because their rents had become so high.
The closing of stores has started to chip away at the city’s tax collections. Sales tax revenues have declined by 3 percent through May, to $4.15 billion from $4.3 billion the year before, according to the city’s Office of Management and Budget.
Some neighborhoods seem better positioned to hold on to their storefronts. Times Square has had relatively fewer closings because more people have been staying in town for vacations and attending Broadway shows, said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance. Doug Griebel, president of the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District and an owner of the Rosa Mexicano restaurants, said there were only two vacant storefronts on Columbus between 67th and 82nd Streets.
Gary Schwartzman, broker with Grubb & Ellis, a commercial real estate firm, said many landlords were trying to find ways to keep retail businesses open.
“The risk of losing a good tenant is something that landlords don’t want,” Mr. Schwartzman said. “Right now, it’s all about tenant retention.”
Ms. Nadel, the lawyer, says that if a landlord tells her that he or she will not negotiate with tenants, she points to a stack of eviction files and says the chances of finding a new tenant are slim.
“You can’t maintain the rents,” she says she tells them. “People have run through their savings. They’ve run through everything.”