Meanwhile, residents less forgiving of Weiner this week
By Sabina Mollot
On Monday morning, mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio stopped by Stuyvesant Town, where the Tenants Political Action Committee (TenantsPAC) announced it was endorsing him.
The event was attended by over a dozen neighborhood residents carrying campaign signs as well as ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh. Though the Tenants Association doesn’t endorse candidates, Marsh is also a board member of TenantsPAC, a group aimed at getting tenant-friendly candidates elected.
At the podium, Marsh mentioned the candidate’s commitment to existing affordable housing as well as to getting new units built and mentioned his desire to see the Rent Guidelines Board reformed.
Mike McKee, treasurer for TenantsPAC as well as its spokesman, said that the group had considered five of the Democratic candidates who seemed the most sympathetic to tenant issues, but ultimately went with de Blasio for his promise to “unravel the Bloomberg years and to have a real progressive city government.”
As for the five Democrats, headline hog Anthony Weiner wasn’t one of them. Apparently he wasn’t interested when sent the same questionnaire the other candidates received.
“Carlos Danger did not submit a questionnaire,” said McKee, in reference to the former congressman’s alias when contacting sexting partner Sydney Leathers. “We did send him one.” McKee said he suspected it had to do with the fact that while in the City Council, Weiner voted against rent regulations in 1994. “Carlos Danger,” he added, “has sold out to the real estate industry. How could Carlos Danger even think anyone in Stuyvesant Town or anyone in this city would vote for him?”
Meanwhile, de Blasio, at the event, which was one of three campaign stops for him that day, discussed his plan, if elected, to have all new residential development in the city include some affordable housing. When asked about tenant concerns specific to Stuyvesant Town, such as completely legal ways the owner has raised rents, including the mid-lease increases after the “Roberts” settlement and vacancy bonuses, de Blasio said he thought City Hall should be able to influence these matters. He also blasted Mayor Bloomberg for choosing not to get involved, other than his “aiding and abetting” the historic sale to Tishman Speyer in 2006.
He also said he knew the place was still in danger of being completely privatized, but promised, “Over my dead body will this place be privatized” and that a real mayor wouldn’t allow ST/PCV, which he called “such a precious asset to the city,” to disappear “so that the real estate market can do its thing.”
As for the tenant-friendly laws now idling away in Albany, specifically in the State Senate, de Blasio said the mayor could work with the governor “or put pressure on the governor” and State Senate members to change things like repealing the Urstadt Law.
Bloomberg, he noted, “could go to his good friends in the State Senate, who he financed for years and say, ‘I’d really like mayoral control (over affordable housing.) We need to repeal the Urstadt Law. He wanted mayoral control over education. He wants mayoral control over everything except affordable housing.”
De Blasio also discussed his goal of seeing the city go back to being “inclusive and open to all, a place everyone can live. That’s our history and I believe it’s our destiny to return to that model.” To do this, he said the plan is to build 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years.
On issues besides housing, de Blasio talked for a bit about CUNY and how he wants to fund programming for the educational institution by taking away some tax subsidies given to big corporations “and give it to CUNY.” The closing of hospitals in the city like St. Vincent’s to pave way for luxury condos was also of concern to him.
Meanwhile, residents who were at the corner of 16th Street and First Avenue to support de Blasio as well as those just passing by during the press conference shared their views with Town & Village about who they’ll be voting for. They also shared their feelings (disgust mainly) about last week’s revelations about Weiner’s continued sexting habits. Just two weeks ago, residents interviewed in T&V about Weiner and fellow disgraced former pol Eliot Spitzer mostly seemed to think Weiner’s actions, while lewd, weren’t unforgivable. However, this week, following the news that Weiner continued to practice the behavior that led to his having to resign a year after leaving Congress, the general consensus seemed to be that he should quit while he’s not ahead.
One resident, Susan Martin said, “Weiner should withdraw. He has a psychological problem. Even out of the spotlight, he still kept doing it. He needs more therapy.” Martin also went on to echo a sentiment by other T&V readers interviewed about Weiner previously to say she didn’t think he was an especially effective legislator.
“Weiner had one bill passed when he was in Congress. He’s not qualified to be mayor.”
She also wasn’t impressed by him when he recently addressed tenants at a mayoral forum sponsored by the Tenants Association. As for her choice for mayor, it’s de Blasio. “I’ve always liked Bill,” saying she’s appreciated his support for Stuy Town tenants in the past. “I think he’ll support us.”
As a social worker, she said she’s also appreciative that he seemed interested when she spoke to him about educators’ concerns about special ed reform. The newly introduced city policy, she said, puts a strain on schools that don’t necessarily have the resources to educate special ed students.
With her was Bob Martin, also a social worker, who said he, too, liked de Blasio, though he said he didn’t think any of the candidates, including him, seemed to have a real policy on keeping crime down. Additionally, all the candidates, in his opinion, have had a habit of promising New Yorkers the world without necessarily having the means to deliver the goods. “They’re like Santa Claus; I’ll give you everything,” he said. “The fact is that this city is broke.”
He agreed with Susan about Weiner, though he had kinder words for comptroller hopeful Spitzer, saying the city needed “a tough guy” like him to keep an eye on the books.
Waterside resident Miriam Applebaum also was at the event to support de Blasio. An adjunct professor at CUNY, she said she appreciated his support for her employer.
“I think he’s progressive,” she said. “I think he cares about the average person, the people like me who are middle income.” She added that she was “anti-Weiner and Christine Quinn and I was never impressed by Bill Thompson.”
She also said she wanted to see the back of Weiner, having already seen more of him than she wanted to. “It was weird when Eliot Spitzer did it, but this is beyond weird,” she said, referring to some well publicized photos of the candidate’s crotch. Applebaum added,“It’s too much information. That’s how I feel. It’s gotten more blatant. First he was in his underwear and now — I’m not a prude, but it’s too much.” She added, “If he did this in Congress, can you imagine the power he would feel as mayor? There’s too many issues. He needs to drop out.”
Judith Swearingen, a Stuy Town resident strolling by after de Blasio’s visit, agreed with that plan although as far as her candidate of choice, she said she’s planning to support Quinn.
Saying the Council speaker had the best record, working well with Bloomberg, Swearingen said she wasn’t “100 percent” certain about voting for her, adding she was also considering Bill Thompson. But Quinn she liked because of her support for the LGBT community and “she really does get things done and I think she will get things done as mayor.” On her view of Weiner, Swearingen said, I think he’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt he’s unqualified for public office and he was a lousy congressman.”