Op-Ed: Preserving ST/PCV housing legacy

By Brad Hoylman
Democratic Candidate for State Senate

One of the pleasures in running for the State Senate to succeed Tom Duane has been the richness and variety of the conversations I’ve had with hundreds of voters. Just the other day, I was at a senior center and struck up a conversation with a WWII veteran and his wife. He had flown bombers over the English Channel before making his way to New York and getting married. Over 65 years ago, he and his wife were among the first residents of Peter Cooper Village.

This couple is like so many other middle class New Yorkers who have made Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village their home. They’ve raised their kids here and sent them to local public schools. Many of them have been leaders in the community — whether on the PTA, Community Board 6, the 13th Precinct Community Council or the Tenants Association. In just over 65 years, they’ve built a strong, cohesive neighborhood that is both unique and admirable.

Indeed, the work of these pioneers made ST/PCV a model of affordable housing for New York and the entire country. But since the disastrous Tishman Speyer takeover in 2006, the status of the community and its 25,000+ tenants has been in severe jeopardy. The question facing candidates for public office like me is profound: How do we save Stuy Town and Peter Cooper for the middle class?
Last week, with the support of Council member Dan Garodnick, I released my ST/PCV agenda to help answer this question. In it, I laid out my vision for the future of ST/PCV, and what I will do as a State Senator to fight for that future.

Stuy Town/PCV must remain affordable, middle-class housing for every resident, whether through home ownership or permanent rent protections. We need to set aside adequate funds to properly maintain the property. And we must preserve the historical configuration of the property, including all of its open spaces.

The ST/PCV Tenants Association has been hard at work developing a solid plan with a reputable partner that respects these guiding principles, and as a State Senator I will lend my voice and influence to their cause. In the meantime, quality of life should not suffer even in the absence of a deal, so I will fight to ensure that CW Capital and Rose Associates fulfill their responsibilities to maintain the property, and that they stop block rentals to students.

We must fight to prevent exploitation by landlords all over the district.
Currently, “vacancy decontrol” provisions give perverse incentives for baseless evictions, and the “personal use” loophole allows landlords to clear out rent regulated apartments.

The Urstadt Law leaves New York City unable to put in place any tenant protections that are stronger than the state’s. As a result, our tenants are at the mercy of upstate Republicans. This must stop.
I will also fight to expand the tenant protections that are already in place. For example, Governor Cuomo has established a Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) to proactively enforce landlord obligations and impose strict penalties for failure to comply with HCR orders and New York’s rent laws. But the TPU is severely under funded, with a backlog of tenant complaints that is more than a year-long. I will fight to provide the TPU with the resources it needs to modernize the State’s housing database, making it easier to determine the rent history of apartments, detect fraud among landlords and shorten the waiting time to deal with tenant complaints.

We also need to fix SCRIE and DRIE. The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE) and the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption Program (DRIE) offer rent freezes to low- income seniors and differently-abled people, respectively. I will work tirelessly to expand these important housing programs.

The Democratic Primary is on Thursday, September 13h. I hope you’ll give me the chance to be your voice in Albany.

Letters to the Editor, Aug. 23

Time for the many to show they give a frack

To the Editor and Neighbors,
Our Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to various news reports, is expected to allow the gas companies to soon begin “fracking” in New York’s southern tier. Many more citizens of New York, through films like Josh Fox’s “Gasland,” have learned that when Halliburton and the other gas companies were successful in exempting this new technology from the Clean Water and Clean Air Act in 2005, the unnamed toxic chemicals mixed with sand, and millions of gallons of drinking water used to extract the gas was poisoning the people and animals that drank it.
Many scientists believe, through examining present conditions and the history of climate change, that we are now in danger of reaching a climate “tipping point” from which there is no going back, not only for our generation, but for generations to come.
As a non-governmental representative for an international women’s organization, I am working with other NGOs to urge the governments of the world to put into place policies for “sustainable development.” I think that by now, Republicans, Democrats and Independent voters realize that our political and economic system has been taken over by national and multi-national corporations who wield their influence for the few at the expense of the many. We are witnessing in our time the mindless destruction of the environment and extinction of species. Population is booming and earth’s resources of clean water are at crisis stage. What can we do as citizens who love our country and refuse to let it continue on its way of enriching the 1% in the short term and ignoring the needs of the poor and middle classes that include the elderly, children, the ill, and the disenfranchised?
What is needed is for local citizens like us to speak out, not only with our voices, but also with our actions. We need to tell Governor Cuomo right now that we don’t want to jeopardize the water for 9 million New Yorkers even though some landowners will lose out. We need to work for renewable energy in New York State and to train out-of-work men and women and struggling farmers in jobs that are needed and have a future.  It is up to our generation to pass on to our children and future generations a world where human needs are met without bankrupting the planet.  It’s a David and Goliath challenge right here in New York State.  I believe that New Yorkers are up to meeting the challenge.  If you agree, please call the governor at (518) 474-8390 and ask him to ban fracking in our state.  No names are asked for, only your zip code.  Go to Google and type in “fracking” to learn more about it and what groups are doing that you might want to participate in and support.  It’s helpful to remember the wisdom of Margaret Mead when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Joy Garland, ST

Little League investigation off pitch

Your August 16 article “Little League to be investigated” clearly indicates how ridiculous grown men can become.
For instance, a Riverdale press reporter “interviewed a few Kingsbridge players.”
Because of this “F.B.I.-type interrogation,” without legal written proof, Kingsbridge president Chris Navarro is charged with having “ringers” by the president of the Downtown Little League Bill Martino, who “was unaware of that rule” about “extra practice time for his players.”
Unaware, Martino apparently organized tournament activities before June 16, which is not allowed.
This investigation ain’t going nowhere.
When I was involved in Stuy Town Little League, the minor leagues, below 12 years old, pitched from 40 feet to home plate. Guess what? The pitching distance was 43 feet. The layout was in error. I demanded that this be corrected. And the Stuy Town Little League president at the time stated, “three extra feet is no big deal.”
I wrote a certified letter to the president of the Little League and, lo and behold, heads rolled!
Nolan Ryan would have gone bonkers if he had to pitch from 63 feet, 6 inches instead of 60 feet, 6 inches.
Louis Buffalano, ST