ABC NewsBy ALLIE YANG, ABC News(NEW YORK) — Mayor Joyce Warshaw of Dodge City, Kansas, resigned Tuesday after receiving an onslaught of harassment and threats following a mask mandate that she helped pass weeks ago.She told ABC News that stepping down “was a tough decision, but it was the right one,” because she didn’t “feel safe.”“I was afraid. I didn’t want to go to City Hall anymore,” Warshaw told ABC News. “[I was] just worrying about who was going to show up there or who’s going to meet me out in the parking lot.”Warshaw took part in passing the mask ordinance on Nov. 16. Unless the city’s commissioners vote to reverse it, the mandate will be in effect until Feb. 15.The mandate requires Dodge City residents to wear a mask indoors, if 6 feet of distance between people of different households cannot be maintained at all times. Mask wearing would also be enforced while residents are in line waiting to enter a public space, such as a grocery store, and while waiting for and using public transportation, ride-share or livery services.Warshaw said the decision came after a second wave hit the community at the end of October without a mandate from the county level.“It ultimately fell on our shoulders as the city [as] the largest entity in Ford County,” Warshaw said. “We knew that it was time for us to step up to the plate… It was quite a venture leading up to Nov. 16 when we passed the mandate.”She added that two doctors from the city spoke to the commission, and that the leaders also reviewed research from the University of Kansas before they made their decision.“When I looked at the science and I did my own scientific research, there was no doubt in my mind that we as a society have to step up to the plate and do what we could for our fellow citizens,” she said.In the coming weeks, she said she was bombarded with harassing and threatening messages from residents who opposed the ban. She said many were “aggressive” and called her a liar.“Even though it was just verbiage … the state of affairs where we’re at now with the pandemic, with the political unrest, so on and so forth, who’s to say that those words couldn’t ultimately become actions?” she said. “We’ve seen that happen across the nation.”In her resignation letter, she wrote, “[I] am hopeful in removing myself [from] this anger, accusations and abuse will not fall on anyone else and will calm down.”There are exemptions to the mask rule, including children under 5 years old and people with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.The city said that those who don’t comply could face a maximum fine of $25.In Warshaw’s letter, she wrote that she has “no regrets” about any of the decisions she made as mayor, and that she believes the mandate was passed in the “best interest of all of you and Dodge City.”The commissioners will have 60 days to pick a new mayor. If they miss the deadline, there may be a special election for the position.As part of the ordinance, the commissioners had agreed to meet at the end of each month to review the mandate. Their next one will be Monday.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Stuart ElliottSummer is that time of year when New York is the most unloved. Many flee the city for any nearby body of water or spend weeks abroad in far-flung capitals. Manhattan can feel deserted, and the asphalt and concrete can seem endless, baking under the hot sun with no breeze. Assuming you’re reading this reclining in a deck chair or sprawled out on a towel in the sand, I’ll start off with some lighter beach reading. This month we look at the former summer jobs of some of the biggest players in real estate. Turns out long before they were inking big deals, many were busy milking cows and selling knives door to door. ADVERTISEMENT Then there’s golf, one of summer’s great pastimes (or is that still baseball?) and a key driver of real estate networking this time of year. We took out our scorecards to note the most popular local golf clubs to join and which are the most — or least — snobby. The price of admission can be steep, reaching up to $1 million at several of the toniest clubs in the Hamptons, plus annual membership dues. There are also other ways to beat the heat this season. In a story on the latest amenities developers are adding to their projects, we uncover some of the more far-flung concepts, including cryo-chambers (cold-therapy rooms) and ice fountains. There’s also the allure of urban farming. The 570-unit Urby rental complex on Staten Island is trying to interest prospective residents with the ability to grow their own tomatoes, hot peppers and fresh herbs. You can find shade under a tree while tilling the outer borough soil. Some brokers say adding such features is just a gimmick to boost sales in a slower market. But maybe it’s worth it for buyers to stay cool during the dog days of summer. In “Tales from the front lines,” we sit down with six key residential brokers to get their off-the-cuff accounts of how they got started in the business. And finally, check out our Closing interview with Silverstein Properties CEO Marty Burger. When he’s not busy building out new lines of business for the iconic development firm, Burger likes to jump out of helicopters. Now back to reality. It isn’t possible to go a month without Amazon disrupting real estate or seemingly everything else. Even when it isn’t the lead story — like when Amazon abandoned plans for a massive campus in Long Island City (briefly sending New Yorkers to stare into the existential abyss) — the e-commerce giant is changing the face of real estate. Amazon threw Realogy, the brokerage conglomerate with a tanking market cap, a lifeline last month with a new partnership called TurnKey that will give homebuyers up to $5,000 in complimentary Amazon products and services upon move-in. Realogy, however, is footing the bill, paying off the cost of the program though sales commissions. To some analysts, TurnKey was a turnoff, but it also raises questions about Amazon moving into brokerage. Meanwhile, Amazon continues to stoke the demand for “last-mile” warehouse space. In a story by Eddie Small, we explore the latest trends in the industrial sector as Amazon prepares to open an 850,000-square-foot distribution center on Staten Island. The company is considering building another facility in Maspeth, Queens, and is reportedly in talks to lease 1 million square feet near Industry City as it seeks to move ever closer to its customers. Last, but not least, our cover story. The Bank of the Ozarks, now called Bank OZK, has always been a curious presence on the real estate scene. The obscure Arkansas bank became one of the biggest construction lenders in New York at a time when traditional banks have pulled back on risky new development loans. In a hard-hitting piece, we look at the behind-the-scenes machinations that helped the bank avoid regulatory oversight and how its lending activity relative to its assets exceeds federal guidelines. That, coupled with the departure of its key dealmaker and other issues, has raised questions about Bank OZK, which is the largest construction lender in Los Angeles County, the largest condo construction lender in Miami-Dade County and the third-largest construction lender in New York. Check out the story from David Jeans and Keith Larsen. Enjoy the issue, and the rest of summer. This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Now
After months of reacting to nonstop crises, Barack Obama has reclaimed his foreign policy narrative this summer — at least for now.In the past week, he has sealed the nuclear deal with Iran he has sought since taking office. And on Monday, he officially restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since 1961.The two events were the product of a vision Obama first articulated as a candidate in 2008, when he vowed to challenge “conventional Washington thinking” about America’s role in the world and pledged a new era of diplomatic outreach. Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated the new Cuba policy by hosting Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez at the State Department on Monday, the first official visit by a top Cuban diplomat to Washington since 1958.“The United States welcomes the new beginning of its relations with the people of the government of Cuba,” Kerry said, speaking in polished Spanish. “We are determined to live as good neighbors on the basis of mutual respect.”The White House welcomed a sense that Obama is challenging old assumptions about U.S. foreign policy on multiple fronts. “This is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. (That past includes Kerry himself: In an October 2005 address at Georgetown University, Kerry named both Iran and Cuba as being among “regimes we rightfully despise.”)On a day when the United Nations Security Council approved a key component of the Iran nuclear deal, Republicans also drew a connection between Obama’s Iran and Cuba policies.“History will remember July 20, 2015, as Obama’s Capitulation Monday, the day two sworn enemies of the United States were able to outmaneuver President Obama to secure historic concessions,” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a 2016 presidential contender, said in a statement.Kerry, who will travel to Havana on Aug. 14 to raise the American flag over the U.S. Embassy there, did not suggest on Monday that Washington and Havana are now in perfect harmony. “This does not signify an end to the differences that separate our governments,” he said. “But it does reflect the reality that the Cold War ended long ago.” Though different in their particulars, Obama’s policies toward Cuba and Iran have some noteworthy parallels. In both cases, Republicans in Congress and on the 2016 presidential campaign trail are almost uniformly hostile. In both cases, Kerry and Obama are betting that dialogue will encourage political reform and progress on shared interests.“Both governments are better served by engagement than by estrangement,” Kerry said Monday.And in both Cuba and Iran, administration officials are warning that the new agreements will be tested. On Monday, Kerry cautioned that the emerging relationship with Cuba would face “bumps in the road.” Likewise, Kerry said last week that the Iran nuclear deal is likely to encounter glitches: “I’m not going to stand here and tell you that everything’s going to work without a bump, without a hitch in the road,” Kerry said.In each case, major ideological differences underlie the improved relationships. Iran’s supreme leader speaks about the U.S. with open hostility, for instance, while America and Iran compete for influence in Iraq.And even as he and Kerry exchanged sunny words about new beginnings Monday, Cuba’s Rodríguez reiterated his country’s demands for a total end to America’s economic embargo on Havana and insisted that the U.S. military base at Cuba’s Guantánamo Bay occupies “illegally occupied territory” and must be closed.The Guantánamo base’s closure is not under consideration, even if Obama is trying to shutter the famous detention camp on its grounds. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that will lift sanctions on Iran after Tehran has taken steps to limit its nuclear program in compliance with the deal. Some key members of Congress, including the top two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had urged the Obama administration to delay the vote.Kerry said he would have preferred that Congress act first but that America’s five other negotiating partners in Vienna — France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia and China — did not want to wait. A 90-day delay of the U.N. measure’s implementation included in the deal represents a “compromise” solution, Kerry said.“The rights of the Congress to make its evaluation have not changed,” he added. Republican control of Congress means that the U.S. embargo on Cuba isn’t about to end, meanwhile. Republicans have denounced Obama’s opening with Cuba, arguing that the communist regime there has made little progress on human rights and political freedom.But congressional opposition could not block the restoration of diplomatic ties, marked on Monday when Cuba raised its flag over its embassy building on Washington’s 16th Street NW, which had served as the country’s interests section since 1961. That became possible after the State Department removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism this spring.The State Department also raised a Cuban flag in its main atrium Monday morning.The U.S. Embassy in Havana also opened for full diplomatic business Monday, although the U.S. flag won’t fly there until Kerry hoists it next month.Though Kerry will enjoy a major ceremonial role in Havana when he visits the U.S. Embassy there next month, he has been less involved in Cuba policy than in the Middle East and Russia. Much of the diplomatic legwork on Cuba was conducted by top officials on Obama’s National Security Council.As if to underscore the point, Kerry was asked Monday about criticism from lawmakers angry that the United Nations acted on the nuclear agreement Monday morning, before Congress could cast a vote on the deal.