Maloney opponent knocks other Dem off ballot

Congressional candidate Suraj Patel (second to left) has successfully sued two others who’d hoped to run in the primary against Carolyn Maloney, Sander Hicks and Peter Lindner. Both are now off the ballot although Lindner was already knocked off by the Board of Elections. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney will have only one challenger on the ballot during the June primary thanks to a lawsuit filed by one of her Democratic opponents, Suraj Patel, last month.

Patel had actually filed two lawsuits against two would-be candidates, Sander Hicks and Peter Lindner, alleging they didn’t have enough valid signatures on their petitions. As it turned out, the court agreed, with Judge Edgar G. Walker of the Kings Supreme Court in Brooklyn noting Hicks had only 1,140 valid signatures, which was 110 fewer than he needed. After the suit was filed last month, Hicks told Town & Village that he had gotten nearly 2,100 signatures and was confident this was more than enough.

Technically, the minimum for congressional candidates is only 1,250 but candidates know they have to get more if they expect to beat the inevitable challenges from opponents or their supporters. Signatures can be invalidated for a number of reasons, including if the person signing doesn’t live in the district or if that same person has previously signed another candidate’s petition.

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Hoylman taking on robo-call scammers

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Just call him Robo-call Cop.

Like any other New Yorker, State Senator Brad Hoylman has come to view his phone with a sense of dread each time it rings thanks to near-daily scam calls.

Popular ones to hit local communities lately include the Apple iCloud shutoff scam and another claiming money is owed to Con Ed.

In Hoylman’s case, the Greenwich Village resident said it’s recently been a steady mix of callers instructing him to call back about his credit card account, announcements that he’s won a free cruise (complete with a louder than necessary cruise ship horn blast) and messages in Chinese. The Chinese language calls come from numbers that appear to be local with 212, 917 and 646 area codes.

But, said Hoylman, “Those are spoofed calls made overseas.”

To combat the scam scourge, the senator has proposed legislation that would require phone companies to offer consumers tools, free of charge, on landlines as well as cell phones, to block or divert robocalls.

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Cynthia Nixon debates Hochul, not Cuomo, Schneiderman a no-show

Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon discusses her platform at an event hosted by local political clubs. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon made her case to East Side Democrats at a candidate event co-hosted by various local political clubs on Monday. Governor Andrew Cuomo did not make an appearance, instead sending Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul to speak for both herself and the current governor. The event was called a debate by organizers but was set up more like a forum, with candidates taking turns speaking,

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was also supposed to send a representative but a scandal that erupted in the middle of the event explained the absence of his office. Journalist Ronan Farrow broke a story in the New Yorker just before 7 p.m. that night with four women accusing Schneiderman of violent sexual assault. Village Independent Democrats President Erik Coler said that the AG’s office canceled the appearance 20 minutes before the event was supposed to start. Schneiderman ultimately announced his resignation from the office a few hours later.

Nixon, meanwhile, was greeted warmly at the event, with enthusiastic cheers, especially at mentions of the governor’s shortcomings although Hochul was greeted warmly as well when she came up to speak about her advocacy in women’s rights and healthcare.

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Opinion: Powers and Epstein

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

It sounds like a law firm. But in reality, this duo is now the political first responders for our Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village community.

Keith Powers became our new City Council member in January following the term-limited retirement of 12-year Councilman Dan Garodnick. Harvey Epstein was elected to the State Assembly last month in a Special Election occasioned by Brian Kavanagh vacating his Assembly seat for the State Senate in lower Manhattan.

Given the fact that most of our State Senate’s district represented by Brad Hoylman is west of Fifth Avenue, and our community is but a small part of Carolyn Maloney’s Manhattan-Queens Congressional District, the predominant burden of representing this community on a day to day basis falls to Powers and Epstein.

And there are no shortage of issues. Preserving affordability in our housing stock and repairing public housing projects, improving mass transit especially the subway system, keeping our streets safe and maintaining city services while the federal government retreats are but a few of the issues facing Manhattan’s East Side and the City.

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Maloney opponent suing 2 other Dems

By Sabina Mollot

The congressional seat representing New York’s 12th District that’s been held by Carolyn Maloney for a quarter century now has truly proven to be the hot seat. In a June primary, she is facing two candidates: Suraj Patel, a former employee of the Obama administration who owns a dozen motels with his family and other partners, and Sander Hicks, a small business owner and former independent publisher. Then there’s Peter Lindner, a computer programmer who ran against Maloney in 2016 and was hoping to do so again.

However, on April 24, Patel filed lawsuits against Lindner and Hicks, which according to a spokesperson for Patel, is charging insufficient and invalid petitions.

In the case of Lindner, Patel’s rep, Lis Smith, added, “The Lindner campaign failed to file the required number of signatures to be on the ballot this June 26. Unfortunately, the Board of Elections won’t enforce its own rules unless another candidate demands it, which we have. We look forward to a spirited election where Democrats have a real choice for Congress for the first time in a decade.”

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Epstein elected to Assembly

Harvey Epstein (right) with an aide at the Stuyvesant Town flea market (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, residents of the 74th Assembly District trickled into polling places, almost exclusively to make Harvey Epstein the next Assembly Member.

Epstein, the Democrat nominee who was also running on the Working Families line, obliterated three other candidates with 90.59 percent of the vote, according to unofficial poll results released by the New York City Board of Elections.

Republican Bryan Cooper got 4.69 percent, the Green Party’s Adrienne Craig-Williams got 2.16 percent and Juan Pagan, a Democrat running on the Reform Party line, got 2.25 percent. Thirteen people (.3 percent of the voters) opted for write-in candidates.

All the now-former candidates are residents of the East Village and had run on platforms that included affordable housing and tenant protections. Pagan is a retired entrepreneur and former corrections employee who’s run for office several times. Cooper is an event planner and the vice president of the Albano Republican Club who’s also run for office before. Craig-Williams is a graduate student and longtime Green Party activist who was running for the first time.

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Maloney opponents square off at forum

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Democratic congressional candidates hoping to replace incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney squared off in a debate at the end of March sans the Congresswoman herself, who was originally confirmed for the event but ultimately told the organizers there was a conflict in her schedule.

The two candidates who did appear, Sander Hicks and Suraj Patel, debated at a monthly meeting for the Progressive Action of Lower Manhattan at the Seafarer’s International House at the end of March. Arthur Schwartz, chair of the organization, moderated the discussion and geared some of the talking points to broader, national issues for a change of pace because the group generally only has a chance to discuss local politics, with the candidates discussing the direction of the Democratic Party as well as healthcare, voter participation and advocating for the disabled.

Supporters of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are a substantial contingent of the members of NYPAN, with one debate attendee pointing out her tattoo of the Vermont Senator, and Schwartz put emphasis on this early in the debate, asking if the candidates had considered how these progressive voters would be represented in the Democratic National Committee.

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Maybe next year for participatory budgeting

By Sabina Mollot

Over the past week, many City Council members, including Speaker Corey Johnson, have been cheering the fact that this past week, April 7-15, was a window of community voting on how to spend $1 million.

The money, part of allocated funds for different districts, was included in a program called “participatory budgeting,” in which constituents, including children, get a say in how the money gets spent, like improvements to parks, libraries or senior centers.

However, not all districts were included in the program and District 4, spanning from Stuyvesant Town to 98th Street, had no participatory budgeting. Note: This isn’t extra money, just funding set aside from a council member’s budget.

We reached out to City Council Keith Powers’ office to ask why his constituents didn’t get a say, and according to a spokesperson, Liz Peters, the reason is that he would have had to enroll in the program last year, and at that time Powers wasn’t in office yet. However, she said, Powers would look into the process for next year, because he thinks it’s an “innovative idea,” one that was started by the Progressive Caucus, of which he is the vice co-chair.

Powers wants to make it easier for candidates to run

Council Member Keith Powers has introduced a package of campaign finance legislation that would ease paperwork burdens on smaller campaigns. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Wednesday, freshman Council Member Keith Powers turned some of the more frustrating experiences of being a candidate into a package of campaign finance bills aimed at making it easier for candidates to run for office.

The council member said he expects that tweaking the current regulations will lead to less burdensome paperwork, specifically for first-time candidates who don’t expect to rake in big bucks.

“I discovered while running that you had to jump over a number of hurdles to run for office,” said Powers. “(The legislation) can make it easier without undermining any safeguarding around public dollars. So they don’t have to commit all their rime to fundraising, but actually talking about issues.”

The first bill, which lists Diana Ayala as a co-sponsor, would allow candidates to get matching funds for smaller contributions. Currently, a candidate needs a minimum of 75 donations from donors within the district that are at least $10 each. The bill would change the minimum donation needed to qualify for matching funds to $5.

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Rivera talks SBJSA, homelessness, L train shutdown and 14th St. tech hub

Council Member Carlina Rivera speaks about a “21st century” version of the SBJSA as well as other issues at an event at Almond in Flatiron, hosted by the Union Square and Flatiron BIDs. (Pictured) Rivera with NY1 reporter Michael Scotto (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

New Councilmember Carlina Rivera spoke with NY1 reporter Michael Scotto in an event at Almond Restaurant in Flatiron at the end of March, focusing on small businesses, the upcoming L train shutdown, homelessness and the planned tech hub for Union Square.

The event was a community breakfast hosted by two neighborhood BIDs, the Union Square Partnership and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.

As she previously mentioned in a roundtable with Town & Village, Rivera said that she supports a “21st-century version” of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, clarifying further at the recent breakfast that she partially meant taking online shopping into consideration.

“We need to consider how we shop, but we also need to consider that the piece of legislation we introduce, as of last term, was 20 years old,” she said. “The way we’ve shopped has changed dramatically in 20 years so I think giving the small business owner the ability to negotiate is important. (The 21st-century version) is taking into consideration mixed-use buildings, and making sure that Small Business Services does a better job at marketing the resources they have available, along with the Department of Consumer Affairs.”

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Assembly candidate’s rage against the Democratic machine

Reform Party candidate Juan Pagan has run for local office a handful of times. (Photo courtesy of candidate)

By Sabina Mollot

The special election for the seat representing the 74th Assembly District is less than two weeks away, but one of the four candidates on the ballot is still hoping to get his name out there.

That candidate is Juan Pagan, a resident of Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village, who is running against three others from his own neighborhood. Also running are Democrat and Working Families nominee Harvey Epstein, Republican Bryan Cooper and Green Party candidate Adrienne Craig-Williams.

Pagan, 62, who worked in corrections at two points in the 1980s and 1990s, has run for office a handful of times before. Then, as well as now, he did it in part to protest “the machine,” or more specifically, the Democratic Party, which, he is arguing, chooses its favorites while edging out perceived interlopers. He first ran in 2006 against Brian Kavanagh for the Assembly seat he’s running for now, that Kavanagh ended up winning and holding onto easily for the next 11 years, before switching to the State Senate. Pagan ran again in 2010, 2012 and 2016. He also ran against then-Council Member Rosie Mendez in 2009 and for the seat again in 2017 once it opened up, though it was handily won by Carlina Rivera.

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Hoylman, Powers ask HCR why it approves all MCIs

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg, pictured at the podium, discusses MCIs at a Tenants Association meeting held in November, alongside local elected officials. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Fed up with the consistent approvals of major capital improvement (MCI) rent increases by the state’s housing agency, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg called on local elected officials last November to get the agency to stop what seemed to be a rubber stamping process. Or at least, Steinberg said, while hosting a meeting for neighbors, to explain the reasons for the approvals of every MCI ever applied for by the landlord, when the Tenants Association has challenged each and every one of them. She noted at the time that the agency, by its own regulations, was supposed to provide explanations for its decisions.

The two state elected officials sitting on the stage of the auditorium of MS 104, State Senator Brad Hoylman and then-Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, said they’d follow up.

Five months later, Hoylman, as well as new City Council Member Keith Powers, have penned a lengthy, legalese-filled letter to RuthAnne Visnauskas, the commissioner of the state housing agency, Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) that reiterates the TA’s arguments against the permanent rent increases.

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Green Party candidate running for now vacant Assembly seat

Adrienne Craig-Williams hopes to make rent more affordable for stabilized as well as market-rate tenants. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On April 24, four candidates will be on the ballot in the hope of winning the now-vacant Assembly seat previously occupied by State Senator Brian Kavanagh.

Out of those four, two are Third Party candidates, Juan Pagan of the Reform Party and Adrienne Craig-Williams of the Green Party. They will face off against Democrat Harvey Epstein and Republican Bryan Cooper.

Craig-Williams, a resident of the East Village (formerly Peter Cooper Village), is running on a platform of justice system reform and affordable housing.

Prior to the holiday weekend, she discussed her campaign with Town & Village over coffee at Ninth Street Espresso (which is actually on East 10th Street).

Craig-Williams, 37, officially launched her campaign at the beginning of March. She would have started sooner, but didn’t know she was running until February when an expected party candidate decided to back out.

However, Craig-Williams, who’s been active in her party since 2004, usually to help champion its candidates, insisted she’s in it to win it.

Responses to her candidacy have been encouraging, she said, and no one has attempted to talk her out of it. “I don’t think people consider the Green Party a threat,” she admitted, “unless they want to blame the party for something.”

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What does the Democrats’ ‘unity’ deal mean for tenants?

Apr12 Cousins Cuomo Klein

Senate Democrat Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein (Photo courtesy of governor’s office)

Following what is being touted as Senate Democratic chamber reunification, Town & Village reached out to Michael McKee of TenantsPAC. He outlined the scenario as it is likely to play out in an op-ed while also sharing his thoughts on the reason for the governor’s sudden insistence on reunification.

“Everything comes down to two words. Cynthia Nixon,” said McKee. “Andrew’s scared to death and trying to hide it and he’s not fooling anyone.”

As for the Independent Democratic Conference’s sudden demise, read on, but, warned McKee, “We’ve been down this road before.”

 

By Michael McKee, treasurer, Tenants Political Action Committee

In a stunning development, Governor Andrew Cuomo has persuaded Jeff Klein and his fellow turncoat members of the Independent Democratic Conference not only to rejoin the mainstream Democratic conference but also to dissolve the IDC.

This is a huge political defeat for Jeff Klein, who up to now has insisted that while he was open to a reunification deal, the IDC would continue as a separate conference and he would be co-leader with Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Now he has agreed to disband the IDC, and accept a lower position as Andrea’s deputy.

Why? Because Andrew Cuomo, Jeff Klein, and the other turncoat senators are scared of losing their jobs this year. This is a perfect illustration of how grassroots political pressure can produce results. While Klein and Cuomo are desperate to lessen the pressure on them, we need to keep the pressure on – and increase it.

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Budget funds golf tournament, but not tenant protections

State Senator Brad Hoylman voted no on numerous parts of the budget that were ultimately passed. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In the latest “Big Ugly,” the state budget released on Saturday morning yanked $4.5 million from tenant protections by completely de-funding the housing agency’s Tenant Protection Unit.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who voted no against that measure and numerous others included in the budget, blamed his own chamber for the move. However, he said he’s been assured the TPU will continue to be able to operate through emergency funding set aside by the governor, which was also done last year. Still, said Hoylman, “What kind of message does that send to New Yorkers? The budget is a real statement of our values.”

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled chamber saw fit to spend $3 million of taxpayer funds on an upstate golf tournament because, they said, it would create jobs and spur economic growth in the area.

In arguments that are now online on YouTube, Hoylman responded, “Four and half million dollars was cut from the budget. I’d like to see the Dick’s Sporting Goods money put into the Tenant Protection Unit.”

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