Published: December 12, 2013
Publication: The Villager
By Albert Amateau
When vendor Jerry Delakas arrived on Tuesday morning at the newsstand on Astor Place that he has been operating for 27 years, he found the padlock broken on the pavement and a new lock in its place.
“I thought it was a break-in and the police had put on another lock, but then I spotted the sticker,” he told The Villager.
“This establishment has been operating illegally without a license,” said the sticker posted by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs.
It appeared to be the end of a very long battle that Delakas has been waging for the last couple of years with D.C.A. But there remained one last hope: On Wed., Dec. 11, Delakas’s new lawyer, Arthur Schwartz, went to New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan to seek a temporary restraining order to allow time for another appeal. The issue was still pending at The Villager’s press time.
Delakas has been trying to hang on, with the support of countless regular customers and neighbors, especially Martin Tessler, a resident of Stewart House, a nearby co-op apartment building on E. 10th St.
Delakas began working at the stand nearly three decades ago as an assistant to the franchise holders, Abraham and Stella Schwartz. After they died, he ran the stand for the subsequent franchise holder, Katherine Ashley, who died in 2006. Jerry then ran it for Katherine’s husband, Sheldon, who died in 2009.
D.C.A. in 2010 ruled that Delakas’s operating the stand was illegal because the permit was not in his name. His lawyer, Gil Santamarino, took the case to State Supreme Court, the Appellate Division and finally to the Court of Appeals in Albany, the state’s highest court, but they all ruled in favor of D.C.A.
Arthur Schwartz, a Democratic district leader and Community Board 2 member, has now taken on the battle, taking over from Santamarino.
Another issue is that D.C.A. has imposed a $37,000 fine against Delakas for operating illegally — $100 a day from the time the Court of Appeals decision came down on Oct. 28, 2012.
Local City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick, the latter the chairperson of the Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee, have weighed in on Delakas’s behalf.
Schwartz said he hopes that Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio’s new D.C.A. commissioner, replacing Jonathan Mintz, would recognize Jerry Delakas’s right to continue running the newsstand.
In fact, for the last half year or so, the word had been that the Astor Place newsstand issue would be laid over for the next administration to deal with.