Editorial: Candidates get on the tenant soapbox

Last Wednesday night, candidates demonstrated their interest in the tenant vote by showing up at a forum held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association. Asked about issues such as a possible tenant-led purchase of the property, the Rent Guidelines Board and major capital improvements, the candidates were given the opportunity to shine in the eyes of renters. But in the end, the biggest statement of the evening seemed to be a fashion one — who could miss those bright orange pants worn by would-be comeback kid Anthony Weiner? Or his explanation about how they were actually intended for a gay audience he’d addressed earlier.

As for what the candidates would do, if elected, to help residents, all gave the expected lip service that they would be much more active in fighting those battles than the current mayor is. But unfortunately, statements like that don’t actually say that much. As noted by Council Member Dan Garodnick during the forum, Bloomberg had shied away from any involvement during the historic sale in 2006 of Stuy Town to Tishman Speyer. And then, over the next few years, when things went south for tenants as well as the owner, there was still no interference. So really, by just showing their faces to residents at a single forum, the candidates have already been more of a presence in the ST/PCV community than Bloomberg.

In a more promising note, a few of the candidates (Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio) seemed to understand the need for reform of the RGB.

Not everyone was impressed though.

As attendee Kay Vota later relayed to Town & Village, the candidates “just said what everyone wanted to hear.

“I’ve been to three mayoral forums, and at every one I went to they say what they think the people want to hear and I think that’s pandering to the audience,” said Vota. “The question is are we having any real discussion of the issues? There are some really serious issues in the city.”

While she declined to get into who she’s supporting at this point, Vota, a longtime Stuy Town resident, does know who she doesn’t want to see get elected.

Commenting on Weiner’s statement about his outfit choice, Vota said, “I thought it was a double slam. It was insulting to say he dressed for gay people but he wasn’t dressed appropriately for us. If that’s what he was wearing, he should’ve been comfortable anywhere. I don’t think it showed common sense, but I guess he thought it was cute. But of course he’s the guy who put a picture of his package on the internet.”

In other forum-related news, the TA also hosted the candidates running for public advocate, since someone in this position could end up as mayor if something happens that prevents the mayor from serving.

Noticeably absent from the event was public advocate hopeful and former Wall Streeter Reshma Saujani, who some residents may remember from a very heated campaign for Congress against Carolyn Maloney in 2010.

Letters to the editor, July 4

Weiner rewrites history

At the Tenants Association Mayoral Forum, Anthony Weiner was asked about his 1994 City Council vote in favor of gutting rent regulations. His answer was dishonest.

Weiner defended that vote by telling only half a story while, at the same time, presenting a distorted view of NY’s rent regulation system. He portrayed his vote as being about taking rich people out of rent-regulated apartments.

He should know that under NY’s rent regulation system, the tenant isn’t regulated, the apartment is. So his vote took the wealthy tenant’s rent-regulated apartment out of the system (forever), not the tenant.

More importantly, he neglected to address the other, more devastating, part of the bill that has allowed landlords to permanently remove apartments from rent regulation when they become vacant.

Mike McKee of Tenants PAC met with Weiner in 1994. McKee says Weiner was one of the few City Council members who actually understood the bill’s dire consequences. Despite that and the promise he made to McKee and other tenant advocates not to vote for the bill, Weiner voted for it anyway.

Since Weiner’s 1994 vote, about 5,000 apartments have been deregulated thanks to the “luxury decontrol,” part of the bill of which he’s so proud. “Vacancy decontrol,” the other part of the bill that Weiner neglected to address, is responsible for the permanent deregulation of approximately 400,000 apartments and has led directly to the lousy situation we endure today in ST-PCV.

Every single voting resident of ST and PCV should remember this about Weiner come November.

John Sicoransa, ST

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