2019年11月13日 星期三

N.Y. Today: Policing Churro Sales

What you need to know for Wednesday.

Policing Churro Sales in the Subway

It’s Wednesday. More than 5,000 public housing residents lost heat and hot water for about six hours yesterday. Services were restored by around 10 p.m., according to a spokesman for the mayor.

Weather: It’ll be cold in New York and across much of the country. By midafternoon, winds here will start slowing down and temperatures will reach the mid-30s.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving).

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Jose A. Alvarado Jr. for The New York Times

Generally in New York City, immigrants are welcomed, entrepreneurs are celebrated and food from around the world is savored.

All of that may help explain why there was a backlash when images surfaced of the police handcuffing two women in recent days for selling churros inside subway stations in Brooklyn.

[Handcuffed for selling churros: Inside the world of illegal food vendors.]

The details

In the first incident, last Friday, the police handcuffed a woman who they said had previous summonses for selling food without a license. Video of the incident was shared widely on social media.

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The police identified the woman as Elsa Morochoduchi, 43, of Brooklyn. At a news conference on Monday, Ms. Morochoduchi, a native of Ecuador, said she had sold churros for three years but had been too afraid to try to get a permit, citing what she perceives as anti-Hispanic bias among city officials.

Hours before that news conference, the second woman was arrested. The police said that woman had outstanding warrants for prior summonses for selling unlicensed food.

The context

To operate legally, food vendors in New York need two documents: a mobile food vending license for themselves, which costs $50, and a mobile food vending permit for each cart or truck, which costs $200.

According to my colleague Sharon Otterman, the city limits the number of mobile food vending permits to 2,900. That cap has remained unchanged since 1983.

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The market for permits

Because of the permits’ scarcity, the market for them operates a bit like the taxi medallion market, said Mohamed Attia, executive director of the Street Vendor Project, which supports lifting the cap.

Owners sometimes lease their permits to other vendors for upward of 125 times the price, which can drive the vendors into debt, he said. Kabir Ahmed, a halal cart vendor profiled by The New York Times in 2017, for example, said he had paid $25,000 to lease his license.

In 2007, the city capped its wait list for citywide permits when there were 2,500 names on it, Mr. Attia said. So vendors who have gone into business since then are likely leasing permits.

The Street Vendor Project estimates that about 20,000 vendors work on city streets, and that more than half of them sell food.

Who is penalized?

It’s hard to determine the exact number of unlicensed food vendors operating in the city. But the penalties for operating carts without a license seem to disproportionately affect women.

In 2018, 57 percent of the tickets for unlicensed mobile food vending were issued to women, according to data from the city.

Of the 46,000 people who received mobile food vending licenses from 2000 to 2018, only 22 percent were women, the Street Vendor Project found.

A plan for change

The City Council is considering legislation to gradually increase the number of mobile food vending permits. Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr. said on Monday that 29 Council members had signed on.

Opponents of issuing more permits, which include the restaurant industry and various business improvement district groups, say the changes would hurt brick-and-mortar storefronts and congest sidewalks. They want robust enforcement of the existing rules and more regulations dictating where vendors can operate.


Explore news from New York and around the region

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

Pennsylvania Station’s overhaul means Shake Shack and Magnolia Bakery will disappear from the terminal, at least for a couple of years. [Eater New York]

Prospective jurors in New York will soon be able to identify themselves as transgender, nonbinary or intersex. [CBS-2]

A $1,000 reward is being offered for the return of a dog that was stolen in Bushwick. [Daily News]

Coming up today

Attend an artist workshop on site-specific theater-making at Brooklyn Academy of Music. 2 p.m. [$25]

The Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation showcases abstract animation and unconventional character animation at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. 7 p.m. [$15]

Join Blythe Robeson, the author of “How to Date Men When You Hate Men,” for a talk at the Yorkville Library in Manhattan. 5:30 p.m. [Free]

— Melissa Guerrero

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.

And finally: Parkour on the big screen

There are young men living in the shadow of a wall. And somehow, they seem to fly.

They are Palestinians in the West Bank practicing parkour, an acrobatic style of moving over obstacles.

Remoy Philip, a Brooklyn writer who produced a documentary about the men, told The Times, “It’s a metaphorical representation of what it means to practice freedom in a place where there is no freedom.”

He added, “And they have hope in a world that is not too hopeful.”

The documentary is called “Hurdle,” and it has its New York premiere tonight at the IFC Center in Manhattan. The screening is part of DOC NYC, a documentary film festival that is in its 10th year.

Mr. Philip and a co-producer will take questions from the audience. If your first question might have been “What is parkour?” here is an answer, courtesy of The Times circa 2007: It is “a French discipline of urban gymnastics” that is “like skateboarding without the board.”

The Times article said movements were “designed to allow the practitioner to pass fluidly and often beautifully through an urban environment without hindrance from obstacles like railings, walls and even parking garages.”

Other documentaries in the festival, which ends tomorrow, include “Stay Close,” about a fencer from Brooklyn, and “The Apollo,” about the theater in Harlem.

“The Capote Tapes,” which is closing out the festival, focuses on Truman Capote’s unfinished novel, “Answered Prayers,” in which he “set out to expose Manhattan’s social aristocracy after he befriended them,” according to the event’s organizers.

It appears that Mr. Capote, who died in 1984, still has a story to tell. Because stories, like people, have a way of leaping forward unexpectedly.

It’s Wednesday — go see a documentary.

Metropolitan Diary: Upstate path

Dear Diary:

I was at an artists’ colony in upstate New York. It was so quiet, I had to run a white noise machine at night to block out the silence. At home, I run it to block out the rattle and hum of the subway train crossing the Manhattan Bridge.

I was walking on a country path one day while I was there when I saw a small snail with a big, brownish-orange shell. It seemed to be making its way from one side to the other

The path didn’t get much traffic, but I thought the snail might be in danger. I bent down close to encourage it to speed up, but it froze. Nothing I did — waving my hands, blowing in its direction — made the snail move.

I decided to pick it up and put it in the grass on the side of the path. Very slowly, I reached down to pick the snail up — I didn’t want to startle it — and gingerly picked up … an acorn.

Yes, an acorn. Not a snail.

I may need to get out of the city more often. Or maybe I’m just not cut out for all that nature.

— Christine Lavin

New York Today is published weekdays around 6 a.m. You can also find it at nytoday.com.

We’re experimenting with the format of New York Today. What would you like to see more (or less) of? Post a comment or email us: nytoday@nytimes.com.

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