Friday, January 16, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg Loves Freelancers, Hates the Marx Brothers?

This post mixes two concerns. First, yesterday I received an email from the Freelancers Union:

Dear Members,

Today in his State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg echoed our call to exempt independent workers from the Unincorporated Business Tax (UBT)—an unfair double tax that requires 17,000 NYC freelancers to pay twice as much as traditional employees.

And while the announcement is an important first step towards a fairer tax system for freelancers, we’ve still got our work cut out for us.

Even though we’ve got the support of the Mayor, the City Council Speaker, and the NYC Comptroller, the fate of the freelancer tax cut will be determined by the state legislature.

That means that if we truly want relief where it counts—in our wallets—we need to
stick together and convince the politicians in Albany.

We believe: more people, more pull. Please take a minute to thank Mayor Bloomberg for taking a stand for freelancers, and ask him to be our advocate by taking the fight to Albany.
As a full-time (for now) freelancer (and I'll still freelance, I guess, once I have another position), I naturally support the Mayor's proposal and I certainly endorse the idea of everyone jumping on this bandwagon and lobbying the state legislature for its support. It's especially crucial at a moment in time when every bit of revenue, of course, is precious.

Second -- and in the meantime -- my friend Susan Hefti is continuing to rattle cages where Marx Brothers Place is concerned. As this blog's followers know, Susan leads the 93rd Street Beautification Association and has been pressuring the Mayor and his associates to lend their support simply to the idea of honoring the block where the Marx Brothers grew up. But so far, her efforts have been falling on deaf ears. So I ask you: Does the Mayor love freelancers but hate monumental comedy?

Anyway, Susan put out an email tonight containing a form letter than can be sent to the chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commisison, Robert B. Tierney. (I've often said my piece about him -- click here.) The letter asks Tierney to consider the Beautification Association's request to extend the Carnegie Hill Historic District one block -- just one block -- so that it will encompass Marx Brothers Place. I think everyone should copy this letter and email it to the address as requested. Developers are salivating -- even in this nonsense economy -- for the opportunity to demolish the historic sites on this block, and on the LPC, and maybe Mayor Bloomberg's voice and conscience, can stop it. Or else our hands and fists will. Here's the letter. Please send it.
Please cut, paste and send to:
(with cc to

Dear Chairman Tierney,

We respectfully request that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) calendar the 93rd Street Beautification Association's Request for Evaluation (RFE), asking the city to extend the Carnegie Hill Historic District one block east so as to include historic Marx Brothers Place, for a public hearing.

The beloved childhood block of the Marx Brothers not only includes their extant childhood home, but also includes brownstones that are older than any of the brownstones already in the Carnegie Hill Historic District (a row of townhouses vital to any credible understanding of the development history of Carnegie Hill). The unique stepped-down roofscape that runs on both the north and south sides of the block evokes the city's Native American history, giving meaning to its original name, Manatus, which translated from the Lenape means “island of hills.” It's a fact that is still evident on East 93rd Street, one of the steepest hills left in all of Manhattan, with two houses built and owned by the famous Loew brothers and, inter alia, a house owned by the well-known New Yorker, William Orth.

It is imperative that the city act with all due speed to protect this incomparable collection of historic homes and gardens so rich in our nation's cultural and architectural history.

Thank you for your kind attention to this request.

Respectfully submitted,

(please add your name and address)
So, Mr. Mayor? Bloomie? Mr. B-Bear? You already subverted democracy by ramming through that term-limits overturning. How about you compensate not only by supporting freelancers (thank you), but by honoring the Marx Brothers? Not that I'd harp on that, of course.

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