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United States

Jerry Dalakas Fights the Power and Wins

NEW YORK – The City loves a winner, but there is special joy when “the little guy” fights the powerful – including the supposedly invincible City Hall – and wins. 64 year-old Jerry Delakas, the Greek-American news stand owner from Cephalonia is Gotham’s latest everyman-hero.

When the TNH visited him the evening of January 14, he was selling lottery tickets and bantering with neighbors who were happy for him.

Ironically, help came ultimately from City Hall itself.

In December, a City agency finally put a padlock on the stand on Astor Place that Delakas has run for 26 years and which appeared in shows like “Sex and the City” and in TV ads.

Since 1987 he paid monthly rent to a series of people who held the license from the Department of Consumer Affairs, but agency told him the arrangement was illegal and in 2010 they rejected his application for his own license.

Delakas’ luck changed as the New Year turned, “apparently after Mr. Delakas attended an open house at Gracie Mansion on Jan. 5 and spoke briefly with Mayor Bill de Blasio, said Mr. Delakas’ lawyer, Arthur Z. Schwartz,” according to the New York Times.

Delakas told TNH: “This is a great victory and a great way to begin the New Year. The people showed strong support for me and I want to thank each one of them.” He also thanked the Greek-American community, including TNH for its support.

On top of having his license application rejected, NY1 reported that the agency also fined Delakas $37,000 for operating the newsstand without a license.

The neighborhood and others rallied to his defense but he was shut down for 11 months in 2013, and at the end of the year a judge allowed Consumer Affairs padlock the stand.

Now Delakas has license and he agreed to pay a $9000 fine.

“It wouldn’t have settled without Bill de Blasio,” Schwartz told the Times, adding, “I think we can say that this is the first of the callous Bloomberg actions toward the little guy in New York, toward the other New York, that have been reversed by Mayor de Blasio.”

Phil Walzak, de Blasio’s press secretary, said “We are glad we could reach an outcome that ensures Jerry’s will remain a part of this community for years to come.”

On January 13 “Mr. Delakas stood outside the stand, where he was joined by several well-wishers from the neighborhood. ‘It feels great,’ he said of the settlement. Without this I would stay home, lay down and want to die’” the Times reported.

His neighbors – and a sympathetic press – would not let that happen

Yvette, an East Village resident who was rushing to buy a lottery ticket before the system shut down for the day, was happy about her neighbor’s victory. “What they tried to do was wrong and I am glad he got the opportunity to return… He is like an institution in New York… the newsstand is iconic…this is a historic spot with Cooper Union in the background. He is a fine gentleman… it’s good to have him open and see him here. It’s beautiful.. and I wish him a happy New Year.”

A very happy Delakas told DNAinfo New York, “This is not about winners or losers — this is about emotional moments…Americans open their hearts for needs.”

 

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