Opinion: Great American Pastime

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

On Saturday morning, a great community is tradition will be renewed. Led by President Seth Coren, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League baseball season kicks off its 62nd year. It will be preceded by the parade of players and their parents starting from First Avenue at 20th Street and finishing at the Con Ed baseball facility at Avenue C and 16th Street.

In the early 1960s I played in our Little League organization. But in those days, we were homeless. We did not have a field to call our own. We played on the West Side of Manhattan and on Randall’s Island in the middle of the East River. But thanks to the partnership with Con Edison, land adjacent to the East River was developed into ball fields and became home to our local teams which have grown to over 60 teams more than 700 youngsters and scores of adult volunteers coaching, umpiring and taking care of the grounds.

Baseball is the Great American Pastime. It connects families and generations to each other. To underscore that point, when World War II began in the dark days of 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt wrote to the baseball commissioner and asked him not to suspend Major League Baseball games while this country fought for the salvation of civilization. Roosevelt believed that baseball was that important to the American spirit.

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Opinion: Creating commercial waste zones in NYC would be a mistake

By Jessica Walker

A troubling situation taking place in Los Angeles should be setting off alarm bells across Manhattan, especially for small businesses. LA recently implemented a new system for handling trash pickup at businesses that, despite several years of planning, has resulted in skyrocketing bills and inefficient service.

This matters to Manhattan because the de Blasio administration is planning to implement a similar system right here in New York. You may not know that large businesses and commercial establishments in our city currently pay private carters to remove their garbage and recyclables and they rely on competitive bidding to get the best contracts. However, the mayor’s proposal would limit choice by allowing only one company to pick up commercial garbage and recyclables in each large geographic zone – with no input from the businesses themselves.

This plan would do away with the current competition that drives down prices and improves service from efficient and well-regulated private companies. What has happened in Los Angeles demonstrates just why this is so problematic.

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Opinion: Star Wars

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

The first Governor Cuomo (Mario) was fond of saying that “politicians campaign in poetry, but govern in prose.” What he meant was that political campaigns are filled with lofty sounding rhetoric, but leading a government takes practical and carefully detailed policies. The place to actually look for what public officials mean to do and their priorities is found in the budget each year. That is the vehicle to literally put your money where your mouth is.

Last week the legislature and the governor put the finishing touches on the state budget for the new Fiscal Year. It was passed during the Passover Seder and hours before Easter Sunday. One thing for sure: There was no candy for Mayor de Blasio in those Albany Easter eggs. Mostly just bitter herbs.

Andrew Cuomo, who has never been shy about reacting to real or perceived slights, is using his powers as governor to the fullest extent to belittle and damage Bill de Blasio. However, he is doing a disservice to the people of New York City. It does not matter how this rivalry began. It has morphed into full-scale war. To make things even more interesting, both men fancy themselves as the progressive champion and alternative to the policies of President Trump. And there is not enough space for two such gargantuan egos in the same room or from the same state.

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Opinion: Make the justice system work for all

By Harvey Epstein

For too long, the scales of justice in New York have been weighted in favor of the rich and powerful and the promise of equal justice has gone unfulfilled. Our courts and our laws consistently disadvantage low-income people, people of color, immigrants (especially those with limited English proficiency), the elderly and the disabled.

New York’s civil justice system handles the cases that affect our fundamental human needs – our homes, our family life, our economic concerns. Yet the system is pay-to-play. If you have the means and can afford a lawyer, you can get a fair shake in court. If you can’t afford a lawyer and can’t get legal help from New York’s underfunded legal services programs, you are left on your own to face dire consequences in courts that are impossible to navigate on your own. A recent state commission report found that each year, 1.8 million low-income New Yorkers are forced to appear in court without counsel in cases that involve life’s essential aspects.

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Editorial: Cuomo should be worried

After a brief period of gauging the public’s response to a Governor Miranda, award-winning actress Cynthia Nixon made her candidacy as a primary challenger to Governor Andrew Cuomo official.

On Monday, her slick campaign website with a logo touting Cynthia for New York was launched, followed by a press conference in Brooklyn the next day. What came next was that former mayoral candidate and fellow high-profile lesbian Christine Quinn criticized Nixon (who supported Quinn’s opponent, Bill de Blasio in 2013) as being unqualified. While it may have just come off as being a bitter taunt from a losing candidate, Quinn does have a point.

Other than her activism for equality in education and LGBT rights, the Broadway veteran known best for her role on TV’s “Sex and the City,” is a political outsider. We know, we know, this wasn’t a problem for our president, whose reality TV history obviously helped him rather than hurt him. However, in New York, the races for local office can get pretty competitive and governor is a pretty high-reaching role for someone who’s never served in a public capacity.

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Opinion: Education reservations

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

How many people remember Dan Domenech? He was named New York City Schools chancellor by a vote of the Board of Education after Rudy Crew left that position in 1999. His tenure lasted literally a few days.

That record was eclipsed last week with the announcement by Mayor de Blasio of Miami Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho to become the next chancellor. Mr. Carvalho inexplicably rescinded that agreement in less than 24 hours.

In the case of Mr. Domenech, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who did not much like him, pressured one of the members of the Board of Education to switch his vote and ultimately Harold Levy was chosen.

In those days, the seven-member New York City Board of Education made the selection of schools chancellor.

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Editorial: Hold that hearing any day now

The recent statements made by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson about wanting to see the Small Business Jobs Survival Act get a hearing, after being blocked for many years, should be encouraging news to anyone who owns a small business or enjoys patronizing them.

In this column, we’ve shared our support for this piece of legislation, which is aimed at getting commercial tenants an automatic lease extension when it’s time to renew despite some unexplained claims that it’s unconstitutional.

What we are asking now though is that the SBJSA finally get that hearing.

If council members continue to just talk about it (or not) then we really don’t see how they aren’t willfully ignoring the systematic annihilation of mom-and-pop shops.

What we don’t need is another study on why storefronts are vacant. We know perfectly well why. Amazon, while a game changer for sure, isn’t solely responsible for murdering brick and mortar stores. Astronomical rents and warehousing of retail spaces by speculative owners are still the biggest problems.

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Opinion: A plea from a child of the 60s

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

I am reminded that in the 1960s when I was a teenager growing up in Stuyvesant Town and attending the local public schools, it was largely student agitation and protests that helped bring an end to the Vietnam War. In so doing they brought down a president. After all, most of the 58,000 American deaths were of kids barely out of high school.

Tragic events and fate now summons this generation of students and the millennials to do what their parents and grandparents have not been able to do, to stop the insane gun proliferation and resulting carnage funded by the NRA, and fueled by billion-dollar gun manufacturers who keep pumping out more and more lethal firearms. After all, it is so many students who are the victims of mass school shootings, the latest a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The thing about idealistic youth is that they know no limits and don’t know what they are not supposed to be able to achieve. And it is in this naïveté where success is realized. Won against all odds. Won in spite of the naysayers and pundits who say it cannot be done. The sports analogy would be a 22- year-old Cassius Clay boxing for the World’s Heavyweight Championship against Sonny Liston the toughest prizefighter on the planet. Or the 1980 upstart U.S. Olympic hockey team comprised of kids facing off against the awesome unbeatable Russian national team in Lake Placid.

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Opinion: Nassar case a call to action in Washington to protect children

By Congress Member Carolyn Maloney

This January, the entire country was stunned to watch and hear one young woman after another courageously step up to the microphone to detail their experiences of sexual abuse committed by Larry Nassar, and that they represented hundreds of other women around the country.  As each told their story, I was struck by how many people failed to protect these young girls and how many red flags were blatantly ignored, all allowing Nassar to continue his abuse over decades.

These girls and women turned to the adults they should have been able to trust – coaches, school administrators, the police – and each time they were dismissed and ignored, their stories covered up. Each and every organization tasked with their protection made decisions to defend themselves and not the innocent girls whose safety should have been their priority. A system that chooses prestige, power, and gold medals above the health and safety of its athletes has a lot to answer for.

That is why, on January 25, I asked the Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, on which I am a senior member, to immediately begin investigating how this could have happened. Chairman Gowdy agreed, and I joined him, Ranking Member Elijah Cummings and other members of our Committee in calling upon the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, Twistars USA, and Karolyi Ranch to explain how Nassar’s crimes were allowed to occur and persist for decades. In light of recent reporting, I have also asked Chairman Gowdy to expand this investigation to include the FBI, NCAA and U.S. Department of Education.

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Opinion: Some improvements in ST service

By Kenneth Chanko

Landlord stories superabound in our city. So do we really need another one?

Well, this particular tale might hit closer to home for T&V readers than most. As a Stuy Town resident for the past 31 years, having lived in a two-bedroom on Avenue C before moving to a three-bedroom on 20th Street — and having been born and raised through secondary school in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper, then raising my own two kids here (and a dog!) — I have a pretty expansive yet highly personal perspective on the succeeding iterations of Stuy Town management and how they’ve treated tenants throughout the decades.

After its Stuy Town experiment went belly-up, Tishman Speyer thankfully departed the premises. There followed too many years of receivership, which saw a further erosion of services and upkeep. A new landlord, Blackstone partnered with Ivanhoé Cambridge, purchased the development. Last month marked the two-year anniversary of the new management being fully in place, and that’s enough time to get a sense of what’s going on.

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Opinion: Living in NYC isn’t a privilege

By Harvey Epstein

Maria has lived in her apartment for more than 40 years. However, a few years ago, a new landlord purchased the building. The landlord started a lot of work in the building and filed for Major Capital Improvements (MCIs). The rent has gone up over 30 percent in the last 5 years. Maria is getting ready to retire and now really worries whether she will be able to afford to live in her rent stabilized apartment for the rest of her life. There are thousands of Marias living in our city today unsure what their future holds.

It all starts with a stable home. Opportunities for better employment, our children’s success in school, and the ability to lead healthier lives. But when being able to stay in our homes in New York City is a day-to-day struggle, so is everything else. Affordable housing is the cornerstone of a thriving society, but for far too long it has been under threat in our city.

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Opinion: A history of hostile divisions

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

After one year of the Trump presidency, the divide in America is wider and angrier. In truth, there have always been two Americas. One inhabited by mostly Caucasian persons who were born here with parents who were born here. And then there are those whose skin is not white, or newly arrived who speak with an accent, or who are poor and unwashed but ready to work to improve their lives or for their children’s better future.

The two segments of America were often separated by law or circumstances. There was always an underlying tension between the haves and the aspiring.

The American ethos can be found on the inscription of the Statute of Liberty. The promise of America is written into our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and the policies articulated by every president interested in making this nation more inclusive and more pluralistic. A place where refugees would be protected and immigrants were welcomed and given an opportunity to succeed no matter their race, religion, national or cultural background. Those principles are what made America
exceptional in the history of nations.

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Editorial: A pilot program in preservation

The city was quick to slam an independent report that said the affordability preserved in the property’s most recent sale was exaggerated (although this was without disputing the actual figures cited by the Independent Budget Office).

Measuring affordability through years rather than apartments, the IBO has calculated that the majority of apartments would have remained affordable even without a deal that cost the city $220 million.

Just whether or not the city got what it paid for remains to be seen, as is how stable the community will remain over the years with a combination of market rents, true stabilized rents and upper and lower lottery tier rents.

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Opinion: See no evil

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

As you drive into New York City across the George Washington Bridge and then south down the West Side Highway you can see huge cranes and glittering new buildings being built. You can be sure that these constructions are for the very well off and not middle income residents.

A tale of two cities indeed.

In part, Bill de Blasio was elected mayor because he promised to do better than his recent predecessors on the matter of decent affordable housing. During his 2013 campaign de Blasio vowed to create some 200,000 units during his two terms. He is way behind schedule. In fact when one calculates the loss of rent-regulated housing each year at about 10,000 units, NYC has made little progress during the mayor’s entire first term of office.

And then there is the New York City federally funded Housing Authority.

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Opinion: Priorities for the year ahead

By Council Member Keith Powers

Starting on January 1, I have the privilege to represent the community that I have called home throughout my life. Our district has been lucky to have been represented by Council Member Dan Garodnick for 12 years that were exciting, turbulent, and important to our future. As I take office, I look forward to building on Dan’s legacy and focusing on a few priority areas:

Creating and Preserving Affordable Housing
As I promised during my campaign, I’ll work to make housing laws fair and to provide residents an opportunity to stay in their homes for the long haul, especially right here in ST/PCV. The next few years will need to include addressing the long-term future of “Roberts” tenants in ST/PCV and assisting overburdened settling tenants in Waterside Plaza. The city and state also need to address the rising cost of housing through MCI reform, expanding SCRIE benefits, and continuing the push for zero or low rent increases for rent-regulated tenants.

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