TA, others to CWCapital: Show tenants the money

By Sabina Mollot

Following news that residents who are affected by “Roberts” won’t be getting their damages as soon as expected, the general response has been one of frustration.

This week, the Tenants Association, in an official statement, called on CWCapital ― and the Berdon Claims Administration, which is handling the paperwork ― to get cracking.

“The Tenants Association deplores the delay on the part of CW in distributing settlement funds to tenants who have been waiting for months,” the TA said. “The $173 million has been sitting in escrow for years and the court approved the settlement back in April. Tenants have been waiting long enough. We urge CW to take whatever steps it needs to expedite the payments.”

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Our choices: Lhota for mayor, Lappin for boro prez, Mendez for Council

With the primary just days away, the residents of Peter Cooper Village (always a strong voter base) have remained unsure about who it is they want to make their next mayor. And based on the very cluttered ballot, we can’t say we blame them.

Republican candidate Joe Lhota

Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota

In the last issue of Town & Village, we made an endorsement for the candidate on the Democrat side, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, because we believe he is genuinely interested in fighting for the preservation of the middle class and the rights of renters in this city. However, finding a Republican candidate with similar interests has proven to be a wee bit tougher. Last week, Town & Village reached out to the three Republican mayoral hopefuls to ask for their thoughts on how they would help middle class New Yorkers, including tenants, which we hoped to share with readers here. But unfortunately, none of the candidates responded to the question. Not one.

So what we did here was pick a candidate that we believe wouldn’t have a hands-off approach to matters like tenant rights and housing costs. It is after all that way of thinking that allowed a culture of predatory equity to go unchecked and result in real estate disasters like the Stuy Town sale to Tishman Speyer and the frivolous primary residence challenges of tenants and eventually, the default that followed.

Of the three Republican candidates, we think former MTA head Joe Lhota has the most potential to tackle the housing crisis New Yorkers now face. Though he isn’t committed to building or preserving a particular number of units of affordable housing as a few of the Democratic candidates are, he has acknowledged the need for more housing and for the government to step in to make it a reality.
In June, at a candidate forum held by CUNY covered by Town & Village, Lhota said,  “The city government should give tax incentives for housing. We have a million more people; where are we going to house them? Where is the property? We need to renovate existing housing and bring more onto the system. We need to evaluate property that’s not being used. Post offices aren’t as needed as they used to be. The government should grab them and use them through a building incentive program.”

Lhota is also an old hand at the workings of city government, having been the city’s budget director in Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s first term and deputy mayor for operations during the second term. Education is another important issue to him; he’s said he’s not in favor of a system that punishes teachers (as educators believe Bloomberg does in failing schools) and he has promised not to be “anti-teacher.”

Though we were somewhat tempted to go with Lhota’s Republican rival George McDonald, here’s why we didn’t. McDonald, founder of the Doe Fund, believes that everyone who “wants a job should have one.” This sounds great, but in order to make this a real positive for New York, there needs to be a clear plan that provides for the creation of jobs at all income levels, not just low income jobs that would be an improvement for the people the Doe Fund helps, who were at one point homeless or incarcerated. The idea is for those who work in the city to be able to pay rent or a mortgage there, too. To be fair, no one else has come up with a way to create jobs at all levels, but… we’re still not even sure what else McDonald’s campaign is about. Billionaire Gristedes chain owner John Catsimatidis has also not shown his platform to be a unique one, beyond an admittedly worthy goal of trying to reduce fines and other nuisances for small business owners.

So, though we disagree strongly with his position on kittens, for the Republican side, we endorse Joe Lhota.

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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 5

Mendez is a fighter for tenants and the poor

Re: “Mendez, hoping to improve housing crisis, running again,” and “Opponent, East Side pastor, says poor have been ignored,” T&V, Aug. 29

To the Editor:

I was interested to read your profile on both of the candidates in the Democratic Primary in the Second District, which immediately abuts my own.

Since your piece took pains to be balanced, I thought it worth pointing out to your readers that this is not really a close call – Rosie Mendez deserves to win this one decisively.

I have served in the City Council now for a number of years, and have had the great pleasure of calling Rosie Mendez a colleague and a friend.  She is an impressive advocate for tenants, for seniors, and for the poor.  She has stood with me every time I needed her – and even played a critical role in our efforts to protect tenants’ interests in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper.

As Chair of the Committee on Public Housing, Rosie also has been a tremendous advocate for residents of those communities. She has secured $10 million for security enhancements and disability access, and in 2008, she restored $38 million to prevent the closing of community centers.

In the days immediately after Superstorm Sandy, Rosie and her staff were among the first responders on the Lower East Side, where they coordinated with local nonprofits to ensure that stranded residents received the necessities they needed. Since the storm, she has has diligently worked on an emergency plan to make sure that the city is better prepared for our next storm.

I have also enjoyed partnering with Rosie in supporting our local public schools – many of which, like PS 40 and PS 116, physically sit in her district, but serve both of our constituents.  I look forward to continuing that high level of collaboration on all issues.

Rosie is one of the toughest leaders I know, and I encourage the residents of the Second Council District to send her back to City Hall to fight for all of us, even those of us who live next door.

Dan Garodnick,
City Council Member,
District 4

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