Published: January 14, 2014
Publication: The New York Times
By Colin Moynihan
A month after closing a newsstand on Astor Place that had been operated for 26 years without the proper license, New York City officials have reversed course, agreeing to let the stand reopen and to grant the longtime operator the necessary license.
The operator, Jerry Delakas, had run the stand since 1987, paying a monthly fee to a succession of people who had received operator licenses from the Department of Consumer Affairs. Mr. Delakas said that he saw nothing wrong with the arrangement, but the agency said it was illegal. In 2010 his request for a license of his own was rejected.
Many in the neighborhood rallied to support Mr. Delakas, saying that his long tenure on Astor Place, in the East Village, should have earned him amnesty. But a judge allowed Consumer Affairs to padlock the newsstand in December, and city officials said that Mr. Delakas had no valid claim to the stand.
That changed, apparently after Mr. Delakas attended an open house at Gracie Mansion on Jan. 5 and spoke briefly with Mayor Bill de Blasio, said Mr. Delakas’s lawyer, Arthur Z. Schwartz.
“It wouldn’t have settled without Bill de Blasio,” Mr. Schwartz said, adding, “I think we can say that this is the first of the callous Bloomberg actions toward the little guy in New York, toward the other New York, that have been reversed by Mayor de Blasio.”
“We are glad we could reach an outcome that ensures Jerry’s will remain a part of this community for years to come,” the mayor’s press secretary, Phil Walzak, said in a statement.
Mr. Schwartz said that lawyers for the city last Tuesday filed court papers opposing a request that Mr. Delakas be permitted to reopen the stand but then agreed to begin negotiating a settlement. The city on Friday agreed to issue a license to Mr. Delakas and allow him to reopen the stand, he said. In return, Mr. Delakas agreed to pay $9,000 in fines, spread over almost a year.
The newsstand is expected to reopen on Tuesday, Mr. Schwartz said.
On Monday afternoon, Mr. Delakas stood outside the stand, where he was joined by several well-wishers from the neighborhood. “It feels great,” he said of the settlement. “Without this I would stay home, lay down and want to die.”