Former opponent of Maloney loses lawsuit against Board of Elections

Sander Hicks

By Sabina Mollot

Sander Hicks, a Brooklyn Democrat who’d been knocked off the ballot — twice — in an attempt to dethrone Congress Member Carolyn Maloney this election season, has now lost a lawsuit he’d filed against the Board of Elections.

Last month, Hicks filed a suit against the BOE after he was removed from the ballot over issues with his petitions. Hicks said he got well over the necessary number of signatures at around 5,500, with 3,500 being required for candidacy, but his petition was rejected because he’d included two addresses on the cover, one his residence and the other his work. The board then sent him a letter informing him he’d have to correct it, although, according to Hicks, he had to guess the problem because he was never told what it was.

A spokesperson for the Board of Elections did not respond to requests for comment.

The letter, Hicks said, was dated August 3, but he only received it a week later, and when he resubmitted the petitions on August 13, he was told he was too late. In response, he filed his lawsuit in the New York City Supreme Court and attended a hearing on August 30.

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Local primary voters say they wanted change

Voting signs at 360 First Avenue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Governor Andrew Cuomo defeated activist and challenger Cynthia Nixon by a significant margin in the Democratic primary election on Thursday evening, with the election called for the current governor less than an hour after the polls closed at 9 p.m., although the victory was much narrower among Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents than it was for all five boroughs.

Citywide, Cuomo received 66.45 percent of the vote and Nixon got 33.24 percent, but of the almost 4,000 Democratic voters in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper, the governor only received 51.1 percent to Nixon’s 48.9 percent.

Incumbent Assemblymember Harvey Epstein also won his race by a large margin in the 74th District, getting 62.4 percent of the vote over newcomer Akshay Vaishampayan, who received 19.2 percent and multiple-time candidate Juan Pagan, who got 17.9 percent.

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Public can weigh in on how district dollars get spent this year

Council Member Keith Powers

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents of City Council District 2 and 4 will be getting a say on how to spend $1 million that’s being allotted to each district, starting this summer.

The opportunity to weigh in on which projects are most important for the community, through a program called participatory budgeting, started citywide in 2011. This year’s cycle is currently underway and the City Council is soliciting suggestions from New Yorkers for “capital” projects, which means proposals that make improvements to physical infrastructure in spaces like city parks, public schools or any other city-owned property. “Expense” projects, which includes ideas like expanded bus service and afterschool programs, are not eligible for participatory budgeting.

City Councilmember Keith Powers is launching participatory budgeting in District 4 (covering Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, Waterside, Midtown East, Central Park South, and the Upper East Side), for the first time, as is Councilmember Carlina Rivera for District 2 (Gramercy, the East Village, Alphabet City and Kips Bay). Neither of their predecessors, Councilmember Dan Garodnick and Councilmember Rosie Mendez, participated in the program previously.

“The process for the last cycle started the year before (I was elected) and if the district didn’t start then, we needed to wait, so this is the first year we could implement it,” Powers said. “There was big growth for it in the last City Council and additional growth in it this year, in districts like this one. All the new members that didn’t have it in their district, Carlina Rivera, other new members in districts where it wasn’t previously offered, are able to take part now.”

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Assembly candidate Juan Pagan stays in race, despite cancer

Juan Pagan has been running for local office since 2006. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Despite an ongoing battle with prostate cancer and some intensive surgery he is now recovering from, an East Village resident who’s running in the primary against Assembly Member Harvey Epstein says he is staying in the race.

That candidate is Juan Pagan, a former corrections employee who later worked as a contractor and is now retired.

In a campaign interview with Town & Village this week, Pagan shared that he’d had a radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland) on August 14 at Memorial Sloan Kettering in this latest bout with cancer. This is after a recent full recovery from stage 4 lymphoma, Pagan told Town & Village previously, and now Pagan is saying his doctors are optimistic this time around as well. Still, the 62-year-old candidate is taking it easy, and while he agreed to an interview with Town & Village over the phone he also canceled his participation in a debate earlier in the day.

“I have a high threshold of pain, but I’d be squirming in my chair,” he explained.

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Epstein hopes to make Albany more organized

Harvey Epstein

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, pictured in Stuyvesant Town in April prior to the special election (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, who sailed to victory at the polls in the special election in April, just two months after getting the support of the county committee in February, will be facing primary challengers in September.

Those challengers are Democrats Akshay Vaishampayan, a former finance compliance consultant who lives in Kips Bay (profiled by Town & Village last week) and Juan Pagan, an East Village resident who ran against Epstein in the special election on the Reform Party line.

This week, Town & Village spoke with Epstein about his legislative and district efforts since taking office four months ago as well as goals for the next legislative session in Albany.

One of the goals is making the state capital a more organized place since currently, there could be any number of similar bills floating around, authored by different lawmakers.

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Cuomo says he’d end vacancy decontrol

Mar15 Cuomo at podium

Governor Andrew Cuomo

By Sabina Mollot

Call it the Cynthia Nixon effect.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has frustrated housing advocates in recent years for not pushing harder for strengthened rent regulations, has recently stated, in writing, that he would be coming up with a plan to bolster them, including by eliminating vacancy decontrol.

Earlier this month, the Met Council on Housing published a questionnaire for all the gubernatorial candidates along with answers provided by all the candidates who responded, on its website.

Answering a question about how he would strengthen the rent laws in 2019, Cuomo said he would “advance a comprehensive plan — eliminating vacancy decontrol, limiting or eliminating vacancy bonuses, combating artificial rent inflation, making preferential rent the rent for the life of the tenancy, and securing new TPU (Tenant Protection Unit) enforcement tools.”

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Former Maloney opponent suing BOE to get name back on ballot

Sander Hicks, pictured at a candidate forum in March (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Sander Hicks, a Brooklyn Democrat who tried to run against Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in the June primary — only to be knocked off the ballot after a challenge from another opponent — is hoping to run again as an independent candidate.

But first he’s suing the Board of Elections.

According to Hicks, he had nearly 5,500 signatures, which is far more than what he needed — 3,500 to run in the general election. However, he said after he submitted his petitions last month, the BOE responded in a letter to reject his petitions over the fact that he’d put two addresses on his cover sheet (one his residence, the other his office for mailing purposes.) The letter, Hicks said, was dated August 3, but he only received it a week later, and when he resubmitted the petitions on August 13, he was told he was too late. He filed his lawsuit on Friday in the New York City Supreme Court and served the board with papers on Tuesday.

“The legal department wouldn’t even meet with me,” Hicks said, calling the issue a “clerical error.”

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Kips Bay resident running for Assembly in primary

Akshay Vaishampayan

By Sabina Mollot

On September 13, a primary will be held in the 74th Assembly District for the seat won by Assembly Member Harvey Epstein in the special election in April.

The 74th Assembly District covers the East Village, Alphabet City, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Murray Hill and Tudor City.

The candidates are, along with Epstein, Juan Pagan, an East Village Democrat who ran on the Reform Party line in the special election, and Akshay Vaishampayan, a 29-year-old resident of Kips Bay, who, prior to running, worked in the field of financial compliance.

In an interview this week, Vaishampayan told Town & Village he was running because he doesn’t think enough is being done to improve the subway system and because he felt Epstein’s victory as the Democratic County Committee nominee in February smacked of party politics. Epstein had bested two other candidates who withdrew from the race prior to the County Committee vote, when it was clear he had garnered the most support. Epstein then went on to beat three challengers in the special election.

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Pols, Bellevue doctors push for speed camera legislation

Aug9 speed cameras Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman blamed his own chamber for the camera shutoffs. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Surgeons and local elected officials gathered at Bellevue Hospital last Thursday, urging the State Senate to pass legislation that would preserve speed cameras around schools.

Speed cameras in 120 school zones lost their ability to issue speeding violations last month because the State Senate did not extend the program by the July 25th deadline. Advocates at Bellevue were pushing Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to call a special session so Senators could vote on legislation that has already passed in the Assembly, where it was sponsored by Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

Glick’s bill in the Assembly allows for speed cameras in 50 additional school zones a year for the next three years and extends the program through 2022. Democrats had originally proposed expanding the program to 750 school zones but said they reduced the number to appease Republicans.

“We reduced the number of cameras and reduced the radius the cameras cover,” Glick said. “We added signage so people know that there are cameras. We’ve given so much deference to speeders. We could give at least a modicum of the same concern for school children.”

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Teachout: More tenant protection needed against predatory equity

July19 teachout cropped

Zephyr Teachout discusses her platform in front of a Jared-Kushner-owned building. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout has announced specific tenant-friendly objectives she would implement in the office if elected in response to reports that 19 tenants are suing Jared Kushner’s real estate company for pushing them out of their rent stabilized apartments.

Teachout’s agenda, which she announced on Monday in front of the Kushner-owned building in Williamsburg whose tenants have filed the lawsuit, includes creating an ombudsman position that would be responsible for engagement with tenant groups and organizers to respond to complaints and increasing criminal prosecutions in the Real Estate Enforcement Unit, a division of the AG’s office that investigates and prosecutes cases involving bank fraud, deceptive lending practices, tenant harassment and other real estate-related crimes.

“These crimes are committed every day by real estate companies in New York,” she said. “If we really want to change their behavior, we have to go after them criminally and not just civilly.”

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Maloney: SCOTUS pick an attack on Roe v. Wade

July12 kavanagh rally maloney

Congress Member Maloney with pro-choice advocates protests the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, despite a small counter-protest. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney joined other local elected officials and pro-choice advocates on Tuesday to oppose the nomination of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The politicians and advocates gathered in Foley Square across from the New York State Supreme Court and the focus of the rally was the possibility that Roe vs. Wade could be overturned when a new justice is confirmed, which drew two counter-protesters responding to advocates’ call to keep abortion legal.

The small but vocal group didn’t noticeably identify with any particular group but the pair, a man and woman, delayed the start of Maloney’s rally with calls of “Keep abortion legal? No!” and “Put them up for adoption!”

The protesters also made it clear that they vehemently dislike President Trump, although they agree with him on this point. Anti-choice group Created Equal had sent out a call to lobby senators to confirm Kavanaugh at rallies to be held in Washington next week, although the protesters at Maloney’s rally did not specify if they affiliated with that or any other group.

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Bill aims to help city’s smallest businesses

July5 small biz rally gjonaj

Council Member Mark Gjonaj, the bill’s sponsor, with small business advocates, including one in a carrot costume (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The City Council’s Small Business Committee chair introduced legislation aiming to protect the smallest small businesses in the city during a rally at City Hall last Thursday.

Council Member Mark Gjonaj, a representative from the Bronx, said that his legislation is seeking to get the city to do more to support businesses with fewer than 10 employees by identifying those businesses and developing programs to help them stay in business.

The legislation would also require the city’s Department of Small Business Services to conduct an annual survey to identify those micro-businesses and help them stay open.

According to data from Gjonaj’s office, businesses with fewer than 10 employees account for 80 percent of all jobs created in the city.

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Flats Fix manager cheers former bartender’s primary win

July5 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

By Sabina Mollot

Last Tuesday night, it was the headline read around the world. A 28-year-old woman from the Bronx, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, bested a veteran Congress member and Queens Democratic Party boss Joe Crowley, in the Democratic Primary.

The primary victor has remained immersed in the news cycle since — in this case because before running for office, Ocasio-Cortez served drinks at a Union Square taco bar called Flats Fix.

On Monday afternoon, we called the business to ask employees for their thoughts on their former coworker. When reached on the phone, manager Ralph Milite couldn’t say enough good things about her.

“She’s a great person. I’m so happy for her,” said Milite. “She’s very deserving.”

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Maloney wins primary

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, pictured outside her home on the Upper East Side (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney defeated her first serious challenger in close to a decade in a primary against NYU ethics professor and former Obama campaign staffer Suraj Patel.

Maloney, 72 and a house representative for the past 25 years, got 58.52 percent of the vote, (24,223 votes) according to unofficial results with 96.28 percent of scanners reported. Patel, 34, meanwhile, got 41.06 percent of the vote (16,995 votes). The rest (173 votes or 0.42 percent) were write-ins.

Interestingly, Patel did better than Maloney in parts of the tri-borough district, getting 2,864 votes from Brooklyn voters, while Maloney got 1,468. In Queens, he came close with 2,856 votes while Maloney got 2,919. It was in Manhattan where Maloney got the most support with 19,836 votes to Patel’s 11,275.

Patel, an East Villager with parents who emigrated from India, had managed to out-raise Maloney in recent months. He ran a pro-immigrant platform that aimed to recruit support from younger people who don’t normally vote while trying to portray the incumbent, an Upper East Side resident, as an “establishment” Democrat.

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LGBT protection bills collecting dust in Albany

State Senator Hoylman, pictured with his baby Lucy and husband David Sigal, had to work with a surrogate in California since surrogacy isn’t legal in New York. (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Two years ago, State Senator Brad Hoylman told Town & Village that any LGBT-related legislation seemed to be blacklisted in Albany to the point where any bill with the term “LGBT” in it would be “dead on arrival.”

Since then, basically nothing has changed with the most recent significant LGBT-related legislation being the marriage equality act in 2011 that was championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In 2016, Hoylman did a study on the lack of action taken in the state capital since then, titled “Stranded at the Altar.” The fact that the Independent Democratic Conference has dissolved hasn’t changed anything, voting dynamic-wise, and Hoylman, as he has before, is laying the blame solely on his chamber’s Republican majority. Hoylman is the only openly gay state senator.

Additionally, while Cuomo is fighting a high-profile battle against a lesbian primary challenger, Hoylman said he wasn’t sure the governor could strong-arm the bills into law through executive order.

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