Noted and Quoted

Students Help Tally Harbor Seals

Seals are making a comeback in the waters off Staten Island.

Earlier this spring, students from the Maritime Technology Program at Kingsborough Community College joined scientists and volunteers from the New York Aquarium for an annual count of harbor seals. This year the group counted 20 seals — up from eight in 2008.

The seals spend the winter on Swinbourne Island, an artificial island east of South Beach. According to officials at the New York Aquarium, they stay in New York for the winter but head north to the coast of Maine for the summer season.

This is the fourth seal count for the college.  The information gathered during the one-day outing helps biologists track their size and migration schedule.

Harbor seals had been missing from New York for decades until the 1970's, when the Marine Mammal Protection Act outlawed their killing.  Until then, they were often killed by fishermen who saw them as competition for fish.  The law and the ongoing clean-up of the waters off  Staten Island have contributed to the increase in the number of seals over the years, according to aquarium officials.

Law Clinic Wins Tenants' Case

Attorney Pedro Rivera helped win
compensation for tenants of unrepaired
apartments including this one with a collapsed

Residents of a Washington Heights building where the landlord has had numerous city violations filed against him have won a year's free rent thanks to an agreement brokered by a member of the Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN) at CUNY School of Law.

At the time of the settlement on Feb. 26, landlord Carmine Alessandro had more than 300 violations, according to attorney Pedro Rivera of the CLRN, a free legal clinic staffed by alums of CUNY Law.  Rivera says violations included rats and roaches, holes in a ceiling and walls, no heat or hot water and no garbage pickup for 60 days.

According to the Daily News, the building at 4441 Broadway has made the city's list as one of the worst elevator buildings in the five boroughs and has also been cited for loss of hot water and heat.

"With $100,000 in fines levied against the landlord by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, we pushed for two years of free rent for the building's tenants," Rivera says, "but got it down to one year and the promise that the landlord would compensate the tenants who made repairs on their own."  But so far, Rivera says that Alessandro hasn't paid up.

As part of the settlement, Alessandro is also supposed to complete all repairs within 45 days, but Rivera says that, as of late April, tenants have seen no signs of any repairs. Efforts to reach the landlord for comment were unsuccessful.

"We've been in court over 12 times already and we'll continue to seek civil penalties and perhaps try and take the building away from him," Rivera says. "If we get enough examples from tenants that show he cannot manage the building and show that he isn't complying with court orders, the building will be taken away from him."

CLRN, which was established in 1998 and is funded by CUNY Law, private foundations, and both the City and State of New York, assists CUNY Law graduates as they work to establish their own small practices.  The project, designed to further the Law School's mission of promoting "Law in the Service of Human Needs," focuses on increasing access to justice in legally-underserved communities throughout New York City.

Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat was instrumental in helping to secure CLRN's presence in the Washington Heights and Inwood sections of northern Manhattan.

Six College Leaders Awarded Honors

President Eduardo J. Marti of Queensborough Community College was elected in March to serve for a second time on the Board of the American Association of Community Colleges. The New York Post honored President Marti as a champion of human rights with its Liberty Medal Award last October. Baruch College President Kathleen Waldron is a winner of the 2009 Ellis Island Medal of Honor awarded by the National Ethnic Coalition. Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab was named one of New York City's 100 Most Influential Women in Business by Crain's New York Business Magazine. She was also honored in March by the United Way as a "Woman of Excellence and Achievement." In December she received both the Carter Burden Humanitarian Award, presented by the Carter Burden Center for the Aging, and the Excellence in Education Award, given by the 1199 SEIU Child Care Corporation. Borough of Manhattan Community College President Antonio Perez was one of five recipients of the annual Latino Heritage and Culture Award presented by New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson last fall. The event, held at SEIU Local 32BJ, was cosponsored by ASPIRA of New York, Hispanic Federation, and Latino Justice PRLDEF. Queens College President James Muyskens now serves as chair of the Distinguished Alumnus Search and Selection Committee and chair of the Policies and Purposes Committee for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Bronx Community College President Carolyn G. Williams was awarded the President's Round Table Foundation Members Award of the National Council on Black American Affairs, an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges, at the AACC Annual Convention.  She also received the Hispanic Educational Technology Services Membership Leaders Award.

Two CUNY Productions Get Emmys

The New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has awarded the University its first "Emmys," including an Emmy in "Advanced Media" to, the growing web-based information source with more than 750,000 unique visitors each month.

The Academy recognized the editing work of videographer Annette Calderon in "Preserving the Past, Building for the Future," an advanced media series that explores the University's rich architectural heritage and nationally recognized innovations in architectural design to enhance the higher educational learning experience.

CUNY TV also scored for its insightful half-hour Spanish-language magazine show, "Nueva York."

Jay Hershenson, senior vice chancellor for university relations and secretary to the Board of Trustees, who served as executive producer for both productions, accepted the statuettes before a crowd of media and technology industry dignitaries at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on March 29.

"Two Emmys in one night is an extraordinary CUNY success," Hershenson said after the event. Calderon's video explored the designers and educators who collaborated to create a traditional campus environment within a compact and congested city block. The result is known today as Newman Vertical Campus at Baruch College.

Watch on-demand "Preserving the Past, Building for the Future" on the CUNY Channel at Episodes of "Nueva York" are available at