A Sidewalk Mr. Fix-It, Now Missing a Few Parts

Tossing an empty soda cup between his hardened but unusually clean repairman’s hands, Natividad Zirate, the homeless bicycle doctor of Second Avenue, smiled darkly as he described how the parks department had shut down his bustling sidewalk repair shop this week.

“They came at yesterday at 12:30; I was down in Chinatown to buy some shoes,” he said Friday, standing in the sun on the northeast corner of Houston Street and Second Avenue, across the street from Sara Delano Roosevelt Park. He has operated an unofficial bike-repair business there off and on for several years.

He glanced down at his new brown boots. “They’re cheap: $20,” he said, before pulling from his pocket a single link from a broken chain lock, a golden letter C. “They cut it,” he said of the lock.

Until now, he seemed to be a steady symbol of the city’s expanding culture of cycling. His business was among a handful of similar ramshackle, improvised operations to appear in New York in recent years, the type of off-the-books bike businesses more commonly found in Beijing than on the Lower East Side or in Harlem.

An itinerant man with a knack for resuscitating old bicycles, Mr. Zirate rapidly acquired a following among delivery men and cyclists who regularly stop by to chat.

“This is Dr. Bikenstein: He brings dead bikes back to life!” exclaimed Gerald Howard, 62, a neighbor and loyal customer who rolled up on an aging Raleigh that Mr. Zirate had revived. “He’s my maintenance guy.”

Business boomed two summers ago and Mr. Zirate invested in a broader range of tools, expanding from a greasy black rollerboard suitcase stuffed with spare parts to a brushed metal delivery cart with rubber wheels that served as his mobile shop.

After working last summer, he stored the cart in the basement of a nearby building where he knows the superintendent and spent the winter in California. He returned to New York in late March, he said, but had trouble getting his cart out of the basement and returned to his usual corner spot, in front of a fenced-in neighborhood garden, only last week.

Almost immediately, he knew there would be trouble.

A pair of parks department enforcement officers came by and told him that he could not repair bikes on the street. “The very first day, they gave me a taste,” he said. “But they never mentioned any confiscation.”

Mr. Zirate ignored them, having enjoyed a relatively friendly relationship with police officers in the neighborhood, and began to work again.

On Thursday, before his trip to Chinatown, Mr. Zirate locked his cart with all of his tools to a no-standing sign on his corner. When he returned, he found the same two parks officers struggling to lift the cart, which had been removed from the pole, into the back of a garbage truck.

“The box was too heavy,” he said, referring to his cart, “so they threw tools into the truck, bike wrenches, spoke threader, a sledgehammer, hammers.”

“Finally, they lift the box,” he said, pausing. “And they crushed it.”

The parks department confirmed that the officers had disposed of his cart, which they said was filled with plastic bags of garbage.

“All New Yorkers agree that it’s important to have clean, safe parks and one of the ways we make that happen is through the work of our parks enforcement patrol officers,” said Vickie Karp, a department spokeswoman. “When they see hazardous conditions, in this case tools laid out on a byway, they address them.”

Though Mr. Zirate operated across from Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, enforcement officers often work in areas adjacent to parks department property as well as within the parks themselves, according to the department.

The department said that the officers did not give Mr. Zirate a ticket, a necessary step if they were to confiscate and hold the cart, rather than just get rid of it.

Mr. Zirate as the officers were throwing the tools into the garbage truck, they returned several items to him, including a sleeping bag and a backpack containing $1,000 in cash.

As for everything else, he added: “They said, ‘It’s garbage.’ That’s all they said.”

Dejected and without his tools, he vowed to continue repairing bikes on the corner. “I’m gonna buy a pump and probably a few tools and sit over here,” he said.

As he spoke, a man called out from a delivery van stopped at a red light.

“Paisano!” the man yelled and began joking with Mr. Zirate in Spanish before pulling away.

“He says, ‘Bring me a bike or a beer, but I’d rather have both,’” Mr. Zirate said. “He’s one of my customers.”

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Urban Forager | Dead Nettle, Where Is Thy Sting?

I was walking across the College of Staten Island campus recently when I spotted purple dead nettle creeping from out under a log. Then I saw several patches of the plant some yards away.

Unlike stinging nettle, which is harder to find in the city, purple dead nettle grows abundantly across the five boroughs. Last spring, I found it flourishing in vacant lots in Williamsburg and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, and even helped weed some out from a farm in East New York.

Purple dead nettle, a member of the mint family, has a characteristic square stem and cascading reddish-purple triangular top leaves — kind of reminiscent of shimmery mauve eye shadow — that are hairy and grow increasingly rounded and verdant at the base. (It’s easily confused with henbit dead nettle a k a Lamium aplexicaule, which grows in the same areas but has round leaves up and down the stem).

Known in Latin as Lamium purpureum and alternately in English as red dead nettle and purple archangel, the plant is native to Europe and Western Asia. It is closely related to the white dead nettle (Lamium album), which itself resembles the stinging nettle that proliferates throughout the United States and England, but without the prickly stingers (hence, “dead” nettle).

Purple dead nettle can be found across most of the United States, in sunny fields and parkland. It grows to about 6 inches, but reaches 16 inches in more crowded circumstances. It is a great favorite of the bees, and I often enjoy nibbling on its sweet purple flowers this time of year, though I do have regrets over stealing nectar from our local Apis mellifera.

According to “Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition: An Ethnobotany of Britain & Ireland” by David E. Allen and Gabrielle Hatfield, in England, purple dead nettle was traditionally used as an infusion in wine for constipation, while in parts of Ireland it’s used for headaches and the rash associated with measles. In old European medicine, purple archangel was associated with the spleen and applied as compresses to treat melancholy.

I did a recent taste test of purple dead nettle tea, and it does smell and taste like wild stinging nettle, though it’s a bit smokier in flavor. Because it’s abundant right now from the Bronx to Staten Island, I’m looking forward to trying Lamium purpureum in pancakes and frittatas.


Ava Chin is a professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at the College of Staten Island. The Urban Forager appears every other Saturday.

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‘Cuomo 2014’ Gifts Announce His Intentions

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Let it be known: New York’s 2014 gubernatorial race is officially under way.

Or at least that seemed to be the case this weekend at the annual convention for the Democratic Rural Conference, where attendees received gift bags from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo containing some rather forward-looking swag.

Perhaps a candidate cannot formally declare a re-election bid via ballpoint pen, notepad and mouse pad. But the freebies handed out Friday, emblazoned with the moniker “Cuomo 2014,” left little doubt about the governor’s plans.

The Cuomo-themed merchandise does not amount to the first harbinger of the governor’s political future. In a filing with the state Board of Elections in February, Mr. Cuomo renamed his campaign committee Andrew Cuomo 2014 — though voters are not known to spend their time reading the fine print of campaign finance records, so Friday’s giveaway probably counts for more.

Still, in a brief speech at the convention, which was held at a theater here, Mr. Cuomo hardly sounded like a politician making a case for re-election.

Rather, he sounded like exactly who he is: someone who took office months ago.

“We’re just getting this engine fired up,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We’re off to a good start. People have started to join on, people are starting to believe, and you’re going to see this government do great stuff.”

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All the Signs Indicate We’re in Manhattan

NYC Arithmetic from Adam Abada on Vimeo.

Maybe we’re permanently arrested in the Sesame Street stage of development, but this speed-parade of Manhattan street signs is pretty hypnotizing. Its creator, Adam Abada, shot it on Tuesday, a lovely spring day, as he skated up Broadway from Battery Park to the Bronx. Here’s to the grid.

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District Attorney Cuts Jobs; Law Firms’ Earnings Rise

There were renewed jitters in the Manhattan district attorney’s office recently after about 10 prosecutors were laid off, several people in the office said.

This was the second round of staff cuts made by Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, since he took office at the start of last year.

While most of the people interviewed said it seemed that the recent round of layoffs was aimed at prosecutors who were underperforming, there was still uneasiness about the unexpectedness and lack of explanation regarding the cuts.

“The first round was like, the new administration was coming in and they were getting rid of people right away; I think everyone figured that would happen,” said one assistant district attorney, who like others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because the office does not allow them to speak to the press. “This round came out of the blue.”

One veteran assistant said: “Last time the cuts were made, there was an announcement that that was it, there weren’t going to be any more cuts. There hasn’t been that announcement. I think people are a little bit on edge.”

But another office veteran said that the executive staff had attempted to spread the message that while it was difficult to predict the future because of the uncertain budget situation, no further dismissals were planned.

The office’s current budget is expected to come in at about $88 million, a roughly 6 percent reduction from the previous fiscal year. Mr. Vance testified before the City Council in March that his office was expecting a nearly 8 percent cut for fiscal year 2012, which begins on July 1.

The office has about 500 prosecutors.

One of the veteran prosecutors insisted that the latest layoffs were not a broad sweep to save money. Rather, he said, the decisions came after a careful review of people “who had chronically underperformed for years.”

“I don’t think there’s that much fear and anxiety,” he said. “There’s probably some.”

Staff changes have been a sensitive issue since Mr. Vance took office.

One of the reasons Robert M. Morgenthau, the former district attorney, supported Mr. Vance two years ago was his belief that Mr. Vance would keep the staff largely intact. Although Mr. Vance has parted with relatively few staff members, Mr. Morgenthau has been shaken not only by some of the changes, but also by how Mr. Vance’s administration has gone about making them, several people close to Mr. Morgenthau have said.

But in several instances, Mr. Vance did offer some of Mr. Morgenthau’s longtime employees other roles in the office. Some accepted and stayed. Others left.

About four months into his term, Mr. Vance asked for the resignations of around 10 assistant district attorneys. Most of those assistants were veterans of the office who were earning high salaries and were said to be fading in production.

This time around, however, the cuts involved people with various levels of experience.

Erin M. Duggan, the chief spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, declined to comment because the office does not discuss personnel matters.

One longtime assistant district attorney said that people in the office may have been spoiled because layoffs were extremely rare under Mr. Morgenthau. Now, to have someone shake things up has been a shock, especially in a profession where prosecutors earn relatively little compared with lawyers working in private practice.

“When you’re a lawyer and you’re only making a third of what you could make, these little things — what’s that song? — little things mean a lot,” one assistant prosecutor said.

Another prosecutor insisted that he had barely given the layoffs a thought.

“To me, there’s no good conversation about it,” he said. “You could sit around and, on one hand, proclaim how unfair life can be. Or, on another hand, just sort of get to work and just realize you got to work hard.”

Revenue Increases at Top Law Firms

The American Lawyer this week released its annual list of the nation’s top 100 grossing law firms, and it showed significant economic growth last year compared with 2009.

Over all, there was a 4 percent increase in gross revenue among law firms, according to The American Lawyer. The profits per partner also shot up by 8.4 percent.

Baker & McKenzie retained its title as the top grossing firm with $2.1 billion in revenues in 2010. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom remained second.

The leader in profits per partner was Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz at more than $4.3 million per partner, while Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan was second at $3.6 million. Quinn Emanuel saw the largest increase in gross revenue, jumping 31 percent. The firm increased by 15.1 percent in profits per partner.


Court reporters for The New York Times take you inside the city’s halls of law every Friday. Have a tip? E-mail [email protected].

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Gifts for the Exhibition visitors

The concept of exhibitions is growing all over the world very fast. Earlier this concept was restricted to a few countries and regions but now it has spread widely. An exhibition or a trade show event is an ideal place where you can directly contact your existing clients and would be clients. At an exhibition you are sure that all the visitors are looking for your or similar product so you dont need to fish out for the prospects. This means the success rate will be very high.


The main point is how you present yourself and draw the attention of the visitors. A very good exhibition display design is definitely very important factor to draw the attention of visitors. Display of huge LCD screens can also be a loud mode of attraction. Lot of exhibition design companies are offering consultancy these days.


The other good way to step ahead of your competitors is to offer free gifts to your prospect clients. Distributing free gifts is a very good way to attract target customers and would be clients. People always have an inclination towards free gifts and then it is your marketing skill how to convert a visit into a successful deal. The free gifts will surely help in increasing the foot fall at your exhibition booth. You can contact a good exhibition companies in India for latest gift ideas.


There is a wide variety if we talk about the exhibition gifts. The gifts can be pens, coffee mugs, t-shirts, coasters, folders, caps, bags, etc. Remember if you are offering free gifts it is often a head ache because it is also a possibility that you distribute the gifts and the return on investment is practically zero.


Every time you think about distributing a free gift in an exhibition or a trade show event, just spend some time on deciding one. Your gift should always be theme based and should be useful for the visitors. The gift should reflect the quality and class of services or products you provide.


For example if you are an IT based company it is better to gift a well designed mouse pad rather than a beer mug. Whatever gift you are offering, it should be designed and customized according to your company that is your company name, logo and color scheme should be a part of that gift.


You can also give the gift order as a part of your turnkey project to your exhibition design company. You will not be the only one to offer free gifts in an exhibition but all your competitors or most of your competitors will be doing so thats why your gift should not be such that it gets mix up in the crowd and neither it should be too much in show off that the visitors hesitate in carrying it. The gifts should not carry the name of event because in case you are left with a few gifts you can use them in the next event.

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Family Trust Law | Business and Estate Lawyers | Utah Attorneys

1.Look for experienced attorneys who specialize in the area of your particular need.


This seems obvious, but true. The law is too broad to be practiced well by a generalist. All attorneys specialize to some degree. Make sure that those specialties line up with your needs. Parsons Kinghorn Harris specializes in small businesses, litigation, alternative dispute resolution, bankruptcy, water resource issues, health care law, taxation, trust and estate issues, domestic relations, employment, and local government law. For each shareholders and associates particular areas of emphasis, please see the attorney profiles.


2. Make sure you need an attorney.


Why isnt this tip first? Because sometimes you need to talk to an attorney to find out if you actually need legal counsel. A good attorney will listen to your needs and then recommend the best solution to your problem. Sometimes, the best solution wont be hiring an attorneyor at least not yet. Many legal resources and services exist that can be accessed attorney-free. At Parsons Kinghorn Harris, our top priority is solving your problems. If those problems require our services, well happily take your business. If they dont, well just as happily point you in the right direction to get them solved.


3. Responsiveness matters.


You wouldnt be looking to hire legal counsel if you didnt have a pressing need or concern. Make sure the attorneys you contact respond to your phone calls and correspondence in a timely manner. Sometimes the legal process can be maddeningly slow. However, having an attorney who keeps you regularly updated on progress (even if just to say there isnt any at the moment) can provide tremendous peace of mind. Our attorneys pride themselves on their responsiveness and customer service. Our clients sometimes say it almost feels like our offices are just down the hall.


4. Billing matters.


Legal services can be expensive, but when it comes to hiring counsel, you often get what you pay for. That being said, all billing should be fair and clearly explained. If you have questions, they should be answered candidly and promptly. The attorneys at Parsons Kinghorn Harris are neither the least nor the most expensive on the market. However, we earn what we bill, and were happy to show you why.


5. Personality matters.


Finding and hiring legal counsel isnt easy. Ideally, youll feel comfortable working with the attorney you hire for years. Some attorneys are unapproachable. Those attorneys dont work at Parsons Kinghorn Harris.

For more information and advice, please feel free to contact us at 801-363-4300 or [email protected] Well do what we can to help.

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Ex-Consultant Accused of Stealing Millions From Schools

A former consultant for the Department of Education surrendered to federal authorities on Thursday to face charges that he stole $3.6 million in the six years he worked managing projects that were meant to provide Internet access to city schools.

Verizon and I.B.M., the largest of the vendors involved in the projects, played a role in the scheme and profited from it, according to the city’s special commissioner of investigation, Richard J. Condon.

The allegations emerged just as the department is gearing up to increase its technology spending by roughly $550 million in the next year alone, even as it contends with sharp drops in state aid that could force teacher layoffs.

According to the federal complaint, the former consultant, William Lanham, coaxed subcontractors into billing the department for work performed by people he had hired at rates higher than they were actually paid.

Mr. Lanham then pocketed the difference, according to the complaint, using the money to finance a lavish lifestyle that included luxury cars and a large plot of land on Long Island, where he built three high-end homes.

Mr. Condon’s office began unveiling the scheme in 2006, after receiving two anonymous complaints that Mr. Lanham was getting kickbacks from vendors.

While investigating the accusations, investigators discovered that I.B.M. had been billing the Education Department for work performed by consultants hired by Mr. Lanham without proper authorization, the complaint says.

In November 2008, the office received yet another complaint, from a senior director at the Department of Education’s Division of Instructional and Information Technology, Sheila Raskob.

In a report released on Thursday, Mr. Condon said that Ms. Raskob accused Mr. Lanham of hiring other consultants whose work was billed by Verizon through its separate contract with the department.

Mr. Lanham hired a brother as one of the consultants, according to the federal complaint. The brother was paid $40 per hour, though the invoices received by the Department of Education showed an hourly rate of $175, the complaint said.

“We are entrusted with the public’s money, and should have been more vigilant in our oversight of this project,” Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said in a statement. “Since we severed ties with this contractor and reported his criminal activity in 2008, the Department of Education has established new safeguards to ensure that no contractor has oversight over his own projects.”

Mr. Lanham is to be arraigned Thursday afternoon at Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The criminal complaint:

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British Are Coming to Fight Cancer; an Officer Is Cleared

Once, in 2006, Mark Edwards, an officer with the Metropolitan Police in New Scotland Yard, London, read about a 6-year-old boy’s battle with cancer. The boy, Jack Brown, the son of his colleagues Yvonne and Richard Brown, needed to go to New York for treatment.

Officer Edwards donated a small amount of money. But then he decided to run the New York City Marathon with a colleague as a way to raise even more money. After finishing 26 miles, they bought Jack a small bottle of medication for $1,000.

He immediately realized “that we needed to do more — a lot more,” Officer Edwards wrote in a memo for a senior officer in outlining the fund-raising effort.

Now that effort has turned into an annual visit.

Some involved with the effort said it has developed into something like an international 10-13, referring to the type of party, or “racket,” officers in New York hold to raise money for colleagues in need.

In September 2007, 16 officers from London, including Assistant Commissioner John Yates, the most senior detective in the United Kingdom and currently second in command of the Metropolitan Police, completed a 220-mile bicycle ride — in full uniform — from New York City to Rhode Island. They raised tens of thousands of dollars toward Jack’s medical bills.

Jack had neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that typically forms in the nerve tissue of the adrenal glands in the neck, chest or spinal cord.

In May 2008, 48 British officers ran 26 miles in Central park to raise more money for research. In 2009, 80 of the officers from Britain came to the park and ran and raised more money, enough to hire a cancer researcher.

The officers came to New York a few weeks after the boy had died from his illness.

“Jack lost his fight in 2009, a few weeks before our departure,” Officer Edwards wrote in his memo. “This had a huge impact on the team, who were now more determined to raise money than ever.”

Last year, another child of police officers, Robyn Higgins, was found to have the same kind of cancer as Jack. Her father is the detective constable on the Homicide Command at Hendon. To raise money, 86 officers flew back to New York and ran a half-marathon in Central Park and then competed against the New York State Police in an airplane pulling contest. They raised more money for Robyn’s treatment.

Now, 94 officers and staff from various police commands in Britain are planning the 2011 trip: They will fly to New York to take part in another half-marathon and other athletic fund-raisers.

“Our N.Y.P.D. hosts are simply fantastic, and nothing is too much trouble for them,” Officer Edwards wrote.

They are coming next month.

There are a bunch of New York City officers who are looking forward to seeing them again.

A Man With a Chair; a Shooting; Retraining

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the fatal shooting of a day laborer by Officer Dawn Ortiz of the New York City police more than two years ago endured some of its final public moments in a quiet courtroom at Police Headquarters.

There, in a fourth-floor administrative trial room, a departmental lawyer stepped to a lectern and explained how the department’s training for encounters with emotionally disturbed people had changed between the time Officer Ortiz had been trained and when she shot the man, Gilberto Blanco, in a church parking lot in Brooklyn in October 2008.

Mr. Blanco was alone in the parking lot of the church in Coney Island, swinging a folding chair made of metal and wood, when he charged at Officer Ortiz, refused her orders, and kept running at her before she fired a single bullet that pierced his chest, killing him.

Now, the departmental lawyer said the circumstances had been reviewed. And she said she was moving to dismiss the internal charges against Officer Ortiz, recommending instead that she receive retraining on the nature of such encounters.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly is the final arbiter in such matters.

Michael A. Martinez, a lawyer for the officer, stood up next. He said the case was never about disciplining his client. But he allowed that the Police Department could always train its officers whenever and however it saw fit.

Mr. Martinez noted that the office of the Brooklyn district attorney never presented the case to a grand jury. Indeed, a police panel reviewing the shooting had decided that Officer Ortiz’s use of deadly force had fallen within the department’s guidelines. He even noted that Officer Ortiz, and her partner, India Archie, had received some recognition from a fraternal organization for how they handled the episode with Mr. Blanco.

As Mr. Martinez spoke, two men dressed in blue windbreakers with logos for the police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, were sitting in the first row of the courtroom, watching with rapt attention.

Finally, the deputy commissioner for trials, Martin G. Karopkin, spoke from the bench. He said he agreed.

Within minutes, the case was dismissed.

With it went any duality that might have been seen in the department’s view of the matter, because while it found Officer Ortiz justified in the shooting, she had been charged internally with failing to use the proper tactics in the run-up to the shooting. Officer Archie, too, was hit with internal disciplinary charges that pointed out a bevy of less lethal options.

Afterward, Officer Ortiz left the courtroom and stood in a hallway. The men in the windbreakers surrounded her. Her lawyer was there.

The department lawyer walked by and said she was going to retrieve some paperwork and would be back.

It was 10:09 a.m.

“It’s all behind you now,” one man said to Officer Ortiz.

Those in the hallway could almost hear her breathe out.

Mr. Martinez said his client was very happy. He said Officer Ortiz at one point was offered a plea negotiation to lose a series of vacation days for pleading guilty to internal charges, though the penalty might have varied.

Eric Sanders, a lawyer for Officer Archie, said that in the internal trial against her, a conference had been scheduled for Friday.

“They are talking about dismissing, but I won’t know until Friday what they really want to do because it seems that they are changing their position,” Mr. Sanders said. “The policy was on the officers’ side the entire time, as is the law, and this is a waste of time and money.”

A civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Blanco’s estate has been settled, he said, and that case did not affect Officer Ortiz, who was indemnified by the city.

Officer Ortiz is on full duty and working at 1 Police Plaza, Mr. Martinez said.


Al Baker, police bureau chief for The New York Times — and the son of a police lieutenant — brings you inside the nation’s largest police force every Thursday. Joseph Goldstein and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting this week. Mr. Baker can be reached at [email protected]

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