The juror is in

Judge Paul Feinman, recently appointed to the New York Court of Appeals, and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney at a Pride Month breakfast reception hosted by the congresswoman last weekend. Photo courtesy of Maloney's office

east side observer


Pride, pomp, circumstance — Summer is sure off to a great start. Gov. Cuomo this month appointed Judge Paul Feinman to fill the seat of recently deceased jurist Sheila Abdus-Salaam on the New York Court of Appeals. Elected to the bench in 1996, Feinman is the first openly gay judge to sit on New York’s highest court. And his judicial roots are in Manhattan: He is an associate justice in the Appellate Division, First Department, in Manhattan after having served on the Supreme Court in New York County. He lives with his husband on Roosevelt Island, in U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s district, and she has been a staunch supporter as he progressed on the bench starting in the 1990s when the law of the land was “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and “Defense of Marriage Act.” Last weekend, in honor of Feinman’s appointment, Maloney hosted a Pride Month breakfast reception where she presented Feinman with a Congressional Record Proclamation highlighting his achievements. Several elected officials attended as did Judge Alex Tisch and Judge Tony Cannataro, both of whom sit on the Supreme Court’s Civil Branch in New York County. It was a proud day for the LGBT community and for all New Yorkers.

Wall of Dogs — Citibank seems to be rethinking its target audience. Just walk into the Citibank on Third Ave and 81st Street and you’ll find a wall filled with photos of pooches. Personal pooches belonging to those who bank at Citibank. As you enter the banking area, there’s a desk with a staffer who directs customers to the tellers, answers questions, AND takes pictures of pets — mostly doggies (cats and birds are stay-at-homes) — with an iPhone. The staffer will patiently take and retake the picture — I watched as, in one instance, he made three tries — until the pooch’s person is satisfied. Ellie, a Pomeranian mix, was primped and posed until her photo was ready for the wall. Sounds cutesy and fun, but the bank that once said it never sleeps may be onto something. After all, monied and not-so-monied folk set up trusts for their beloved pets or make provisions for them in their wills. So why not keep an account where the pet has a “relationship” with the bank? ... And who can say what counts as a relationship?

Lhota’s luck — No sooner did former Senator Al D’Amato get a commitment from former MTA Chairman and former mayoral candidate Joe Lohta on NY1’s Road to City Hall that he would be willing to return to his old job as MTA chairman than Cuomo appointed Lhota to replace the now gone Tom Prendergast as MTA chief. That’s all well and good — but I hope that Lhota remembers that Yorkville’s residents voted for him in his run for Gracie Mansion when he deals with the abominable bus service on the UES — First, Second, Third, Lexington and York Avenues. Not asking for quid pro quo, just mercy. Merci.

The corner of 86th and Lex — Kudos to Community Board 8 Chairman Jim Clynes for promising to appoint a task force to address community and other concerns relating to the mixed-use development being built above the train station on the northeast corner of 86th and Lexington. The more than $300 million, 230,000-square-foot mixed-use development is expected to be completed sometime next year. Located at what was formerly 147 and 151 East 86th St., the project includes relocation of subway entrances and exits on Lexington and on 86th St. The building’s design requires that the Lexington Ave side of the sidewalk be expanded and the subway station entrances rebuilt. It also calls for the addition of a subway elevator kiosk to comply with requirements for accommodations for those who are disabled. At this month’s meeting of CB8’s Transportation and Traffic Committee, the development team came to speak to and hear from the community about their concerns as the project develops and the pitfalls of the massive residential and commercial building. The community had questions about loading docks, street and pedestrian traffic, types of commercial tenants, where deliveries were going to be made for commercial tenants and for residents, and, why the New York Sports Club was no longer going to occupy the third and fourth floors of the building as originally promised, and on and on and on. Hopefully the task force, which will include elected officials, neighborhood residents, CB8 members, city agencies, the owner and developer, and the feneral contractor, will satisfactorily respond to and resolve community concerns.