Tenant groups, pols rally for stronger rent laws

Mayor’s office pledges support but is short on details at Council hearing

Council Member Dan Garodnick and other city politicians called on Albany to repeal vacancy decontrol and further strengthen the laws governing rent stabilization. (Photo by William Alatriste)

Council Member Dan Garodnick and other city politicians called on Albany to repeal vacancy decontrol and further strengthen the laws governing rent stabilization. (Photo by William Alatriste)

By Sabina Mollot

With the Rent Stabilization Laws up for renewal in June, several city politicians and dozens of tenants gathered at City Hall on Monday to call on state lawmakers to strengthen the laws, most importantly by repealing vacancy decontrol.

Most of the comments were directed at Governor Cuomo, with speakers like Comptroller Scott Stringer putting the blame on Albany for “rewarding greedy speculators.”

He added that the city’s plan to build more affordable housing meant nothing if it kept hemorrhaging units at the same pace. “We’re losing affordable housing bastions like Stuyvesant Town,” he said.

The comptroller, who recently released a report saying that 400,000 apartments renting for $1,000 have disappeared from the radar, said at the podium that vacancy decontrol alone has cost the city 153,000 units of affordable housing. Currently, around 2.3 million New Yorkers live in 1.1 million rent stabilized units.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer voiced a suggestion that rent laws include a provision that every new development must include affordable housing, and, she added, “We need to get rid of MCIs (major capital improvements) that go on for 100 years.”

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The de-evolution of politics

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

One upsmanship, name calling, gotcha, the ends justify the means, winning at any cost, my way or the highway.

Pick any of the above, in fact pick all of the above. Sadly that is what American politics has become. This is true in Albany, City Hall and especially in our nation’s capital.

Witness in Washington D.C. the sorry spectacle right at this moment of our Homeland Security funding being held hostage because a faction in Congress does not like actions that the President took on immigration reform. So instead of dealing with that issue head on, they threaten to disable the government agency charged with keeping us safe from terror attacks, hoping that will force the President to yield on his immigration policies. Of course this is an attempt to slap down the President which plays well in some portions of the country. Threatening to shut down all or essential parts of the federal government to get their way seems to be a favored tactic. Politics before the national interest, not a pretty sight!

Compromise has become a dirty word, and it is harder to find a statesman among the ruling class than to have the winning lottery ticket.

In my 40 years in and around government I have never seen our political institutions at every level reduced and debased to such a self-serving and morally bankrupt condition.

The ultra conservatives in Washington D.C. would rather see President Obama fail than see the country (they loudly profess to love) succeed. And the myopic and partisan members of the political far left are too often mired in sanctimonious rhetoric to be able to reach compromise and govern in the best interest of the people. Politics seems more rife with corruption than ever before. Increasingly individuals seemingly enter government as a way to enrich themselves either through money or power or both advancing good public policies? Well that comes in at the bottom of the agenda.

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Police looking for 12-year-old boy last seen at Family Court

Alexander Luciano

Alexander Luciano

UPDATE: Police say Luciano has been found and is safe.

Police are looking for a 12-year-old boy who’s been staying at the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) facility at 492 First Avenue.

Alexander Luciano was last seen on Tuesday, March 3 at 2 p.m. leaving New York City Family Court, located at 60 Lafayette Street. He is described as Hispanic, approximately 5’1″ tall, weighing 140 lbs., with brown eyes, dark complexion and short close cut black hair. He was last seen wearing black work boots.

Anyone with information in regards to this missing person is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Letters to the Editor, Mar. 5

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

‘Local control,’ GOP-style

The GOP discovered that so-called “States’ Rights” was a good subterfuge to sabotage a more liberal federal government. We first saw this during the Civil Rights era where Southern governors stood in school house doors, wearing “never” buttons that said “no” to integrating public schools.

The States Rights pseudo-libertarian talking point was that local government was “closer to the people” than those snotty bureaucrats in far away Washington, DC. Sounds almost believable, right? There might even have been some truth in it.

Except that it turned out to be just another GOP lie. The NY Times recently had an article about so-called pre-emption laws. This is the latest ploy used by Republican statehouses to thwart leaders and voters in liberal municipalities. These pre-emption laws have barred cities from regulating landlords, building municipal broadband systems, raising the minimum wage, demanding background checks for would-be gun owners, legalizing marijuana, or raising taxes on the rich to support public education.

And it’s not just the Southern states. New York City couldn’t even lower its speed limit from 30 to 25 mph last fall without permission from Republican legislators in Albany!

And thanks to the Urstadt Law, New York City can’t pass stronger pro-tenant laws than the upstate landlord-owned Republicans would allow.

Now what could be more local than city speed limits, rent protection, and public schools for people living in New York City?

Pre-emption is as if someone in the state legislature representing my section of Manhattan, was able to eliminate deer hunting near the Canadian border!

I also wouldn’t blame an upstate farmer for getting angry either if Manhattan representatives tried to tell him how to farm.

Pre-emption, however, is never used to reduce the power of more right-wing areas. It is only used to prevent liberal municipalities, towns, and districts from voting on measures that best serve their local needs.

And you don’t have to be a Republican to support pre-exemption. Our so-called “Democratic” Governor Cuomo might as well be a Republican because he made sure the New York Senate went GOP in the last election.

Elliot Markson, ST

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