That Hole in the Ground at 415 Madison Will Someday House Entrance to LIRR

| 17 Jul 2023 | 01:30

    415 Madison Ave redux In May of this year I rued the razing of the 24-story tower that was 415 Madison Avenue, a Rudin Management and JP Chase owned building built in the 1950s that is now a gaping hole on Madison between 48th and 49th Streets awaiting the new tower that will include pedestrian access to the LIRR concourse under Grand Central Terminal.

    I remembered the days I had an office in the building in the early aughts and that Rudy Giuliani’s non-starter presidential campaign headquarters was there, too. After the column was in print, I heard from forever West Side politico and faithful Our Town reader–he doesn’t read online–that WMCA radio had offices at 415 Madison Avenue in the 1960s where he volunteered for the station’s Call for Action, a non-profit organization founded by Ellen Sulzberger Straus. WMCA was then owned by Ellen Sulzberger Straus and her husband R. Peter Straus, who are the parents of Our Town’s publisher, Jeanne Straus.

    Call for Action was the first telephone help line in the United States and its purpose was to put the power of the media to work to assist people who had problems with government agencies, landlords, and businesses. Calls coming into WMCA’s Call for Action were primarily about housing problems. Alan Flacks took calls from 5 PM to midnight when city agencies were closed, and he and other volunteers followed up with the callers and the city agencies to make sure that problems were being attended to. If, after investigation, Call for Action couldn’t get the problem resolved, WMCA would bring the issue to the air waves. Within 10 years, Call for Action was operating in 50 states.

    On a personal note, thanks to Alan Flacks for another 415 Madison memory.

    Judge picking time–There will be three open judicial seats on the New York State Supreme Court after the retirement of Judges Roland Acosta and Barbara Kapnick, both sitting in the Appellate Division, First Dept, and Judge Debra James who is sitting on the NY County Supreme Court. As this column goes online and to press, there are six contenders for the three seats. All candidates are Acting Supreme Court Judges and have been reported out twice by Independent Judicial Screening panels. The six candidates are Judge Suzanne Adams, Judge Lyle Frank, Judge Judy H. Kim, Judge Gerald Lebovits, Judge Phaedra F. Perry, Judge Leslie A. Stroth. Candidate Meets and Greets with the Judicial Delegates and Alternate Delegates, who decide which judges will be nominated for the November ballot, are winding down, and on July 20th, the Independent Judicial Screening Panel will report out the additional names of those who will be in the running for the three open seats. After that, there may be more Meets and Greets by the new candidates before the Judicial Convention which will be some time between August 10 and 16. At the convention, the three candidates who will be on the November ballot will be selected by the Judicial Delegates. Between now and the convention and as time and space allows, I will give some background on the candidates.

    Since January 2016, Judge Lyle Frank has presided over several thousand cases as both a Criminal Court and Civil Court judge. Since 2018 he has been an Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court where he has resolved a variety of cases, including personal injury, employment discrimination, civil rights, property disputes, and other matters. Most recently, Judge Frank has made decisions in special proceedings, including one here he ruled that the City of New York could not charge its retirees for health insurance. In another case, he decided that the NYPD was improperly using sealed records. During his time on the bench, Judge Frank has conducted approximately 70 trials to verdict.

    As a participant in the Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program for College Students, Judge Frank is a mentor to the next generation of lawyers and judges and currently participates in a special masters program through the New York County Lawyers Association where judges act as mentors to attorneys of color who hope to be judges.

    Prior to taking the bench, Judge Frank served as a legislative attorney for the New York City Council, was an Assistant District Attorney, a civil litigator, and was Chair of Community Board 6 in Manhattan.