Published: January 9, 2014
Publication: The Villager
By Lincoln Anderson
The news could be looking much better for embattled Astor Place newsstand vendor Jerry Delakas under a new administration.
Arthur Schwartz, Delakas’s attorney, reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio was very sympathetic to Delakas’s plight when the vendor met him at a “public open house” the mayor recently held at Gracie Mansion.
According to Schwartz, Delakas and Kelly King, an East Village artist and journalist, waited patiently in line to see the mayor. They brought along with them a small-scale model of Delakas’s newsstand as a “housewarming gift.”
The actual newsstand was recently padlocked by the Department of Consumer Affairs in the waning days of former Mayor Bloomberg’s administration. D.C.A. charged that Delakas, though he had been operating the stand for decades, never formally held the license. But Delakas says the license’s last owner willed it to him.
“This is Jerry Delakas,” King reportedly told the mayor. “He had a newsstand on Astor Place for 27 years and was beloved of the neighborhood, and it’s been taken away from him by the Department of Consumer Affairs.”
De Blasio reportedly responded, “I know the stand, it’s great. And I know the issue well — it’s a great injustice.” He then shouted to an aide, “It’s most important. Get on this right away.”
Kelly presented the aide with the docket number and a press kit with an article on Delakas.
On Tuesday, The Villager reached out to de Blasio’s press office for comment on whether the popular senior vendor, 64, has a chance, under a new administration, to return to his longtime newsstand.
The answer sounded encouraging.
“We are working to reach a better outcome,” responded De Blasio’s press secretary Phil Walzak.
Delakas and Schwartz appeared in court Wednesday morning to request that Delakas be allowed to operate the newsstand once again while his appeal proceeds. But the court proceeding was delayed 15 days.
On Tuesday night, Schwartz and Marty Tessler, a former Community Board 2 member who lives near the newsstand and has championed Delakas’s cause, filed a new application at D.C.A.’s licensing bureau for Delakas for the newsstand — since Schwartz now thinks that may be the best way to proceed. Schwartz said, at first, the D.C.A. staffers refused to accept the materials, claiming they couldn’t.
“You would have thought we were handing them a radioactive packet,” he said.
Earlier, Schwartz spoke to two top D.C.A. attorneys who for the past four years have been fighting to evict Delakas from the Astor Place stand. Schwartz noted to them that de Blasio clearly seems supportive of the ousted vendor.
“I told them, ‘You know, he’s your boss,’” Schwartz said. “It’s hard for lawyers to switch positions in midstream. But they’re going to have to — these are career positions.”