Some of the attendees at Monday’s workshop go over literature on the rent freeze program. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Despite increased eligibility for the rent freeze program for seniors and the disabled, many tenants in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village who could qualify for the break are not signing up for it.
“Only 25 percent of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents who are eligible are enrolled,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “It’s owed to these residents that we help them register.”
In order to spread the word about the program, which seniors and disabled people with up to $50,000 in household income could qualify for if one third of their incomes go to rent, Hoylman and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh held a workshop on Monday in Stuyvesant Town.
The workshop on Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) took place at the complex’s Community Center.
Dog walkers bring their charges out for a stroll in Stuyvesant Town, in this photo taken in August of 2014. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Following a steady stream of complaints from residents with regards to dogs — from the lack of rule enforcement to the lack of a dog run — The Blackstone Group said it will be responding to at least one of those issues. Specifically, that of nonresident dogs as well as breeds banned from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village regularly being walked onsite.
To do this, management will be issuing a new kind of ID tag that hangs from a strap on a hook from the leash handle in order to make the pooch immediately identifiable as one that’s been registered. The color will be the same shade of blue as the one used in the Stuy Town logo.
While residents’ dogs have already been given tags when registered with management, Public Safety officers have to get up close to the pets in order to see them.
Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of B’Nai B’rith)
By Sabina Mollot
Earlier this month, members of the City Council voted to give themselves $36,000 raises, and last Friday, it became official when Mayor de Blasio authorized the massive boosts in pay. He was also a beneficiary, though he won’t accept the raise for the remainder of his term. Most Council members defended the move, pointing out that that the money was contingent upon enacting a package of ethics reforms, like restricting certain kinds of outside income. It also put an end to the stipends, also known as lulus, that get doled out by the Council speaker to various members for chairing committees, a practice that has been linked to crony-ism.
Council Member Dan Garodnick, who authored the bill restricting outside income and changing the status of the Council to be considered full-time employment, along with fellow East Side Council Member Ben Kallos, was among those defending the raises.
However, he pointed out the next time the Council’s up for a raise, members will only be allowed vote to authorize raises for upcoming and not current terms. This will be ensured by having the Quadrennial Commission, which recommends the raises, be appointed later in the legislative session. (This could of course mean the same elected officials will get the raise they voted on if reelected.) The raises authorized last week, which boost legislators’ pay from $112,500 to $148,500, are retroactive to January 1.
On the raises and reforms, Garodnick said he’s long been against lulus (which can be as high as $25,000), and for the past 10 years he’s been in the Council, he hasn’t taken any. He currently chairs the Economic Development Committee and has previously chaired the Committee on Technology, the Consumer Affairs Committee and the Planning Committee. Had he accepted lulus, he said, they would have been for $10,000 each year up until the last two years when they would have been $15,000.
“I asked that the stipends be done away with altogether,” said Garodnick. “I felt very strongly that they should be eliminated.”
However, the main inspiration for the reforms was Albany, where last year’s sordid corruption scandals against both legislative chamber leaders led to long-called for ethics reforms actually seeing the light of day.
For the city’s elected officials, there will be more transparency regarding personal income, with disclosure reports being put online.
“Today it is too difficult more members of the public to see financial disclosure,” Garodnick said.
Still, not everyone within the legislative body supported the latest round of pay hikes.
A Post article noted that three Republican members who were opposed to the raises found them to be “an obvious conflict of interest.” They recommended an independent body rather than the Council be given the task of issuing raises.
The Council hasn’t gotten a raise since 2006. As for the reason for the 10-year delay, normally the Quadrennial Commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, convenes every four years to recommend raises, which the Council votes on. However, Mayor Bloomberg never called a Quadrennial Commission after 2006, so it hadn’t met since then. Garodnick noted that the Commission will meet again in 2020, which is when the new regulation about prospective raises will come into play. Garodnick is a co-sponsor of that legislation, which was authored by James Van Bramer.
The no lulu policy was a rule change, and required a vote in the Council, but didn’t require legislation.
In other news, Garodnick, who’s running for higher office, seems to be enjoying the fact that half a dozen people have already expressed interest in his District 4 Council seat, with one already on the ballot.
“I wish them well,” said Garodnick. “I’m happy to be a resource to whoever lines up for the seat. This is an important district and deserves top notch representation.”