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Embattled Newsstand Operator Gets Two Weeks to Strike Deal with City

By Serena Solomon | January 8, 2014 3:09pm
 The city evicted Jerry Delakas from his Astor Place newsstand in December.
Jerry Delakas' Newsstand
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EAST VILLAGE — A newsstand operator ousted from his longtime East Village kiosk after more than two decades has been given a two-week lifeline to reach an agreement with the city as he pins his hopes on an intervention from the new mayor. 

After being padlocked out of his newsstand in December after 26 years by officials because he doesn't have a license to operate, Jerry Delakas and a band of local supporters have been fighting a legal battle to reopen the Astor Place location. He was granted a two-week adjournment by the city's law department Tuesday, giving Delekas time to appeal to Mayor Bill de Blasio for permission to reopen and help ward off any new operators moving in.

"This will give us two weeks to work things out," said Arthur Schwartz, an attorney from Advocate for Justice, which is representing Delakas. "If someone else gets in that would be a big mess."

Mark Muschenheim from the city's law department signed off on Schwartz's request for the two-week adjournment just before midnight on Tuesday, according to emails shared with DNAinfo. 

Schwartz also filed a petition Wednesday in an ongoing effort to get the 64-year-old Delakas temporary approval to operate the newsstand — his only source of income — while the city makes its decision.

Schwartz said the fight for Delakas to be granted his own license by the Department of Consumer Affairs will be "an uphill battle," because he had been operating under the umbrella of a former owner and never had the license transferred into his name.

"He will only get his license back if the mayor intervenes," Schwartz said.

Delakas has already had some luck with the mayor. Over the weekend, during an open house tour at Gracie Mansion, he brought up their plight with de Blasio.

The mayor said he was aware of Delakas's case, and called it "a great injustice," Delekas said.

De Blasio's press secretary Phil Walzak said this week, "We are working to reach a better outcome."

Delakas began operating the newsstand in 1987 on behalf of its license holder and never held the license in his own name.  The city blocked numerous attempts by the family who held the license to transfer it to Delakas's name, according to Schwartz.

"I never thought it was a problem," said Delakas, who emigrated from Greece and lives on the Upper West Side. "I didn't know it would turn into something like this."

In 2010, the city temporarily locked Delakas out, calling the shared license arrangement illegal, according to a Daily News article.

He was locked out again last month, enraging many of his customers who have held protest rallies and even donated money to help him through weeks of no income. 

Judy Rosenblatt, an East Village resident of 40 years, manages a Facebook page to keep Delakas’ supporters up to date with the fight.

Rosenblatt said 10 years ago, when she turned up at the newsstand and realized she had no cash, Delakas insisted on giving her $20 for subway fare so she didn't miss an audition.

"He is always generous," Rosenblatt said, "He is like the deli guy or the newspaper guy you give your keys to. You can trust him."