Democrats vying for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat


Harvey Epstein (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Following Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh’s easy victory at the polls last week for the downtown Senate seat he wanted, two Democrat candidates have expressed interest in filling the now vacant 74th District Assembly seat.

One of them is Harvey Epstein, a tenant representative on the Rent Guidelines Board and the project director of the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center. The other is Mike Corbett, an aide to Queens-based City Council Member Costa Constantinides and a former teamster. Marie Ternes, a communications consultant who previously worked for then-Congress Member Anthony Weiner, said she is considering running.

Recently, outgoing City Council Member Rosie Mendez told Town & Village she was mulling a run for Assembly, but then later told the local blog Lo Down that she’d decided against it. Council Member Dan Garodnick has also previously said he has no plan to run.

Corbett, Epstein and Ternes spoke with a Town & Village reporter this week, although Ternes declined to be interviewed at this time since she hasn’t yet made a decision on running.

It’s expected that there will be a County Committee vote held by each party to determine who will get onto the ballot for a special election. However, it’s still unclear when the vote will be or when the election will be, since a special election must be called by the governor. Another possible, though unlikely, scenario is that there will be a primary in June when there’s a Congressional primary, or even later.

Continue reading

Stringer’s Wall Street opponent — Burnett says he’d reform city’s pension plans

John Burnett

John Burnett

By Sabina Mollot

On Primary Day, Scott Stringer bested his opponent, former Governor Eliot Spitzer, following a contentious race for comptroller, but Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, isn’t completely out of the water just yet.

In November, he’ll face off against John Burnett, a Harlem-based Republican with a background in finance. Though Burnett has none of the name recognition Stringer’s been building up, via celebrity endorsements as well as a contentious primary race against a man who had his political career derailed over a hooker scandal, he insisted he’s up for the challenge.

During an interview following a recent morning campaign stop in Stuyvesant Town, Burnett told Town & Village he’s running because he wants to make sure “bureaucracy doesn’t stranglehold things.”

He added, “In corporate America, if a corporation doesn’t change in a way to shift and adapt, then they go out of business. So I’m used to change.”

Burnett doesn’t feel Stringer’s qualified for the job of comptroller, saying, “I don’t think Scott Stringer is going to change anything when he’s been inside for 25 years.” He also blasted Stringer’s past attempt at running two bars. He asked why voters should trust him to manage the city’s books when “he couldn’t sell wings and beer in a city of millions?”

The corporate candidate had even harsher words for former opponent Spitzer, blasting him more than once on his website for the former governor’s dalliances with prostitutes and use of taxpayer dollars to fund his travel expenses during those times.

Burnett said if elected to the position of comptroller, which oversees the city’s pensions, he would reform the pension plans by combining them. This, he said, would save its earners millions in administrative fees and costs.

“We have to get to pensions to where they’re self-sustaining” for retirees, he said.

Burnett’s other goal is job creation through economic incentives to help small businesses grow and tax abatements for developers.

“Tax abatements spur real estate growth in New York City,” he said. To help small businesses, he said he would fight the city’s “harassment” of its owners aimed at collecting fines and taxes.

While politicking at Stuy Town early in the morning, he said most of the questions he got were about jobs or housing. He noted that even with the unemployment rate dipping slightly, it’s still “double digit with blacks and Hispanics.”

As for housing, he knows the city needs more of it and is in favor of more “combination housing,” a mix of affordable and market rate development. “We have to do it in a way that is timely and doesn’t cost a lot of money.” In this case, he wasn’t sure that reducing real estate taxes was the answer, since a reduction in landlords’ own costs wouldn’t necessarily lead to them feeling the need to pass the discount on to tenants.

Burnett last worked at McGraw-Hill Financial in risk and compliance before leaving in March to focus on his campaign, and he’s worked Wall Street money management jobs throughout a 20-year career. Previous places of employment include Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney. In his official bio online, the candidate describes himself as a “natural entrepreneur” who started selling candy to classmates at age six. (He would later recruit his family to help him shill homemade cookies.) After graduating from high school, he got a job as a cashier at Pathmark, which was also his introduction to the world of unions. By the age of 20, he was working as a margin analyst for Dean Witter Reynolds, which later became Morgan Stanley. He later, while working, finished college at New York University and got an MBA at Cornell.

Now a father of two daughters, Burnett was born in a public housing development in East New York and his family later moved to Queens Village, where he grew up. He’s lived in Harlem for the past nine years.

As a former NYCHA resident, Burnett weighed in the agency’s current plan to lease existing, open space on eight public housing projects to outside developers, to say he thought it was a good idea.

“I think we need to explore all options,” he said, in contrast to local elected officials who want to make sure current residents are okay with it and that the plan includes affordable housing.

Burnett however, again stressed he liked the idea of a mix of lower-income and market rate housing. “We have to be a city for all demographics,” he said.

He wasn’t initially interested in getting into politics, he said, but was encouraged by the Republican County leadership. He added that he feels that due to the recent sex and bribery scandals involving politicians and candidates such as Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, “it’s really given New York a black eye” and that it’s time for someone with “a higher level of integrity” to step up.

Like any other Republican running for office in New York City, Burnett knows he’s facing a steep, uphill battle in trying to convince democrats to vote for him ― or even not dismiss him on sight. However, he said he hopes to appeal to voters who are “getting sick of the same old thing. The definition of insanity is to do the same old thing over and over again and expect a different result.”

Letters to the Editor, Sept. 19

Why Quinn, Thompson, Liu and Weiner lost

The following letter was originally published as a comment on the Town & Village Blog in response to the story, “Residents choose de Blasio,” T&V, Sept. 12.

The lesson from this primary election is that our politicians need to take care of their constituents, because if they take their base for granted they will pay the price. Also, any narcissism will be severely punished on Election Day.

Chris Quinn lost Greenwich Village and Chelsea by 15 points to de Blasio because she assumed her own district would vote for her, in spite of St. Vincent’s closing, her crush on Bloomberg and many other quality of life issues she neglected to address. In the end even the gay vote wasn’t there for her because she wasn’t there for them. She narcissistically assumed she could do whatever she pleased and her base would follow. They followed de Blasio instead.

Bill Thompson lost Harlem by 10 points and the total black vote citywide to de Blasio because he spent the last four years between elections actually acting a lot like Bloomberg; becoming an investment banker, summering in the Hamptons and eating at his favorite sushi restaurant on Irving Place. Even though his daughter lives in Stuy Town he could no longer connect with middle class people, and he just assumed his base would be there for him. It is telling that his biggest support was in the white portions of Staten Island, so maybe it’s time for him to change parties.

John Liu won the Asian vote in Elmhurst and Chinatown and everywhere else, because he paid attention to his base and was always there for them. Hopefully he will use his skills to broaden his appeal in the future, if so he will be the one to watch next time around.

Anthony Weiner proved that narcissism is not an endearing quality, and being a lying, perverted, unhinged narcissist is even less attractive. He was the biggest loser as he went from the early frontrunner to the punchline of a joke no one is laughing about anymore. He didn’t need an election as much as he needed a marriage counselor. Like many, I was willing to forgive and support him at first, but his atrocious handling of his personal affairs and his arrogant treatment of the press reminded me more of a Tea Party candidate than the progressive he used to be.

In the end Bill de Blasio was the only one who got it, on stop and frisk, on affordable housing, on our Bloomberg fatigue and on taxing the rich to fund our schools. Bloomberg thinks the solution to all our problems is more Russian billionaires, and that higher taxes will just scare them away. As if the rich have ever been scared away by the high price of living that they themselves helped create.

Are the rich really going to leave NYC and the multi-million dollar condo they just bought over a few thousand dollars in extra taxes? Where are they going to go, back to Russia? Or New Jersey? How’s the view of Central Park from over there?

Bill de Blasio won because he gives us hope for a fairer city, with his smart interracial family, and with his progressive agenda, which is why he won big on his opponent’s turf.

But he also won because of his stark contrast with another narcissist named Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s last gasp insult of accusing de Blasio of racism for using his son Dante in the best campaign ad in decades reminded us all why we are tired of the billionaire who thinks he knows better than everyone just because he has more money. Democracy isn’t about telling people what to do, it’s about honest representation of the people, listening and caring about them and imposing their will on society and not your own. That’s why de Blasio won this round and will be the next Mayor of NYC.

John Small, EMP

Continue reading

Residents choose de Blasio

De Blasio, Lhota, Mendez, Brewer top in primary

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and staffer Anna Pycior campaign for Gale Brewer outside Stuy Town on Tuesday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and staffer Anna Pycior campaign for Gale Brewer outside Stuy Town on Tuesday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

After a long and contentious primary season and a race with more Democrats than can be counted on one hand, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio climbed to the top of the pack in the election on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, it was still unclear whether or not de Blasio, who at times during the campaign lagged in fourth place behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and former Congressman Anthony Weiner, would avoid a runoff with Thompson.

According to election results from the New York Times, de Blasio won all of the districts in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, as well as most of the surrounding districts except for some in the Flatiron area and Gramercy, which went to Quinn. The Republican primary was only slightly more split, with former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota winning all of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village districts except two.

The race was too close to call between de Blasio and Thompson on Tuesday night. While various news sources put de Blasio slightly over the requisite 40 percent at around midnight, Thompson said that he would continue his campaign until all of the ballots were counted, which could take days. As of Wednesday morning, the Board of Elections said that de Blasio had 40.13 percent of the vote with Thompson at 26.16 percent.

Quinn, the longtime frontrunner, conceded on Tuesday night with only 15 percent of the vote and disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner ducked out early in the vote-tallying with less than five percent.

Continue reading

TenantsPAC endorses de Blasio at ST

Meanwhile, residents less forgiving of Weiner this week

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and Mike McKee of TenantsPAC at Stuyvesant Town on Monday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and Mike McKee of TenantsPAC at Stuyvesant Town on Monday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
On Monday morning, mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio stopped by Stuyvesant Town, where the Tenants Political Action Committee (TenantsPAC) announced it was endorsing him.

The event was attended by over a dozen neighborhood residents carrying campaign signs as well as ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh. Though the Tenants Association doesn’t endorse candidates, Marsh is also a board member of TenantsPAC, a group aimed at getting tenant-friendly candidates elected.

At the podium, Marsh mentioned the candidate’s commitment to existing affordable housing as well as to getting new units built and mentioned his desire to see the Rent Guidelines Board reformed.

Mike McKee, treasurer for TenantsPAC as well as its spokesman, said that the group had considered five of the Democratic candidates who seemed the most sympathetic to tenant issues, but ultimately went with de Blasio for his promise to “unravel the Bloomberg years and to have a real progressive city government.”

Continue reading

Residents weigh in on Spitzer and Weiner

Many think candidates’ sex scandals don’t matter

Eliot Spitzer

Eliot Spitzer

Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner

By Sabina Mollot

In the 11 days since former Governor Eliot Spitzer announced his candidacy for comptroller, both he and fellow disgraced former politician, former Congress Member Anthony Weiner, have easily stolen the media thunder from their opponents, whose lack of sex scandals makes them and their campaigns, yesterday’s news.

Interestingly, while neither candidate has been able to score a single news story that doesn’t in some way mention their respective falls from grace, they still have, according to the polls, become the race’s frontrunners.

On Monday, Town & Village interviewed several residents of Stuyvesant Town to ask what they thought about Spitzer and Weiner’s attempts at comebacks and their promising poll numbers. Though opinions varied, most implied they didn’t care much about the sex scandals, and Spitzer was generally thought of as being a well-equipped leader.

Retired teacher Sam Bishop said he didn’t think Weiner and Spitzer’s post-scandal ambitions were surprising, “and,” he added, “they’re going to win.” The reason, said Bishop, is name recognition. “What’s sad is that the other people who are running for those respective offices are not known outside of their districts. They can’t break through the ceiling above that local level. Weiner is now a statewide celebrity for his improprieties. Somebody like Quinn is only known in her district. Stringer — no one knows who he is outside Manhattan and he needs to pull votes outside of Manhattan.”

Another factor, said Bishop, is that “baggage” aside, he believes “Spitzer is very well-qualified. Do I like him personally? That’s another question. Both of them are quite capable of a big comeback and they’re very shrewd because they sized up the competition. The public wants to elect leaders that are able to bring results.”

Another resident, Guadalupe Canton, seemed to agree, saying he believes in second chances. “Everyone should have a second act,” he said.

Canton was mixed on Spitzer and Weiner though saying he was more impressed with Spitzer’s record as attorney general and governor for investigating Wall Street than he was with Weiner.

“I don’t think he did much as a Congress member. He was loud and bombastic, but didn’t do much,” said Canton. He had even less love for opponent Christine Quinn though, blasting the mayoral hopeful as “Miss Lackey” for the man who still holds the job. As for Spitzer, “I had wished that someone would look into Wall Street when this nonsense happened,” said Canton, referring to the then-governor’s career-derailing hooker scandal. “If you investigate (Wall Street) you will find something and we’re still in a mess. I think he could keep an eye on the books of the city.”

David Burstein, a recently published author (Fast Future, Beacon Press) and founder of Generation18, a campaign aimed at getting young people to vote, said he also didn’t think the men’s scandals would make them untouchable in the eyes of voters.

“People’s memories have been getting shorter and shorter and the fact that they’re willing to give these people a second chance is a symptom of that,” he said. He added, “People have forgotten that Bill Clinton was reelected at the height of his scandal and that he was impeached. People have erased that from the portrait of who he is.”

Burstein, who said he thought there was no doubt about Spitzer’s competence as a legislator, still thinks that people are more likely to be forgiving of Weiner’s infamous crotch tweet than Spitzer’s hiring of prostitutes.

“What Spitzer did in a lot of ways was worse; there was a level of hypocrisy,” he said. As for Weinergate, “People have experience with (Twitter), maybe not on that lewd level, but people realize it as an action that could have happened to them. People have experiences sending the wrong text message to someone. So they sympathize. It’s better than misappropriating $5 million in campaign funds.”

Less sympathetic though was documentary maker Doug Block who now finds that he can’t think of Weiner “without laughing.” It doesn’t help of course that “he has a very unfortunate last name. We’ll never stop associating him with his little picadillo.”

Block added that he thought the accidentally-made public tweet that brought Weiner down was “about the stupidest thing you could possibly do.” While in his opinion, most pols likely solicit prostitutes behind closed doors, most people also understand that there’s no such thing as privacy on the internet.

“That was pretty naïve,” said Block, although he added that he wasn’t necessarily opposed to either candidate for their actions. “Right now I’m just a bemused observer,” he said. “This is a democratic city and they’re name brands.”

Additionally, he said he believes New Yorkers would probably dismiss the scandals as long as they think the candidates support issues they care about.

“They just want people to be on their side who are fighters,” said Block. “These guys are fighters because they don’t care what people think of them except what’s enough to get people to vote for them.”

Jerry Alperstein, a former teacher who keeps politically active by serving on Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s advisory board, indicated he wasn’t too disturbed by the scandalous past of Weiner or Spitzer and didn’t think others were either.

“Had Bill Clinton been able to run for reelection in 2000, he would have been easily reelected,” he said, “whether or not he had the support of Monica Lewinsky.”

However, Alperstein added that the current lead in the polls for Spitzer and Weiner shouldn’t be read into too much.

 “You have to remember that the primary is in September and it won’t be until around August 15 that people start to focus on this thing. Polls are neither here nor there.”

Meanwhile, retiree Shirley Ehrlickman said she wouldn’t be voting for Weiner or Spitzer, dismissing them as men with “poor character.” She declined to discuss her reason for disliking Weiner, but said she already intends to support Spitzer’s rival, Borough President Stringer, for comptroller.

“I don’t have anything against Spitzer, but as far as voting is concerned, there’s another candidate and I’m a friend of his.”

Ehrickman added that she has served as a volunteer on a senior citizen board for Stringer. “He’s a straight arrow, very sincere and cares about the people,” she said.

Another retiree, who’s also a former longtime poll worker, said she’s also supporting Stringer, and Bill de Blasio for mayor. As for Spitzer and Weiner, “I call them the odd couple,” said Dolores Dolan. “I’m definitely not supporting either of them. It’s not because of their sexual exploits, but I support Stringer for comptroller because he’s more competent. I’m also supporting de Blasio because he’s a capable person. I don’t think Weiner has the temperament to be mayor.”

Dolan added that she thought the ST/PCV population’s vote would make a dent in the citywide results for the primary, which overall tends to have a dismal turnout. But ST/PCV residents, she’s learned, tend to be more committed voters. As for who’d come out on top after that, she could only guess.

“Spitzer’s got so much money from his family, so he might surprise, but I do think Stringer is more capable,” she said.

Letters to the Editor, July 18

You gotta have a scandal

To the Editor:
Well, now that Eliot Spitzer has joined Anthony Weiner in running, or rather dancing with the stars, in the elections this November, the other candidates for office will have to do something to make the Mad Men who create the virtual reality that is our world sit up and take notes. After all, name and face recognition is more important than qualifications when running for office.
Bill de Blasio might make a great mayor but he doesn’t have the Kardashian kitsch so essential for success, much more important than competence.  But if Mr. de Blasio wore hot pink short shorts and high heels to the next photo op, admittedly no match for the orange pants worn by the internet star Weiner at a recent gay event, he might give the former Congressman a tussle for the gay vote. But what about the straight vote?
Candidate Quinn could enlist her buddy Bloomberg to take her on a bicycle-built-for-two to the beach at Coney Island where they could perform the steamy Burt Lancaster/ Deborah Kerr scene in “From Here to Eternity.” Since all publicity is good, this would make great headlines, not to mention hot photos: The Mayor and Speaker Quinn, both wearing a bikini, though not necessarily the same one, making out on a bright red blanket! Wow! And how about Bill Thompson, smelling smoke and a photo op, showing up in a fireman’s uniform with a long hose to put out the fire. Why, the paparazzi would be so overjoyed they’d all have heart attacks. But, not to worry, the firemen’s union would be on hand to administer CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Double wow! This scene would be so hot that maybe even Sarah Palin would show up for a photo op and pitch in, her pitch, that is, for the presidential nomination with the headline: For Whom the Belle Toils!
For the office of comptroller, the very capable Scott Stringer will have to run against former Governor Eliot Spitzer. He will need the best shoes Nike makes because Spitzer is a tough campaigner with remarkable name and face recognition. (Weiner has the name recognition, but it’s not his face that people think of when they think of Weiner.)
Spitzer dodged criminal charges when he hired working girls, but these “employees” became damsels in distress when they were found guilty of working for Spitzer and dragged off to prison. It not only created buzz for the former governor but an opportunity for him to repent and beg forgiveness from voters who are ready to believe anything, including a talking snake named Satan and an ambitious boat builder named Noah.
Perhaps Stringer should create a scandal, preferably of a sexual nature so he’s in the same ballpark with Spitzer, which could bring him to his knees as well as the TV cameras where he could apologize and beg forgiveness for his alleged sin. And by simply omitting the word “not,” he could put a unique spin on that famous line “I did have sex with that woman.”  That’s sure to get him elected.
We just love born-again politicians, but not boring-again ones. So, come on, candidates, make your campaign sexy with a little scandal and then sit down to a healthy serving of humble pie. You have nothing to lose and much to gain, especially if you’re from New Jersey. But let’s not go there. Why would anyone want to go to New Jersey? We New Yorkers have our own fat cats here at home. And they can buy elections.
John Cappelletti, ST

Security keeps residents safe without guns

I live in Manhattan’s Stuyesant Town, a middle class project. We have uniformed security guards who carry handcuffs, clubs, and walkie-talkies – but no guns.
I’ve called them about loud college kids’ parties and they respond promptly.
A few times, the same security guards told me to dismount my bicycle in pedestrian areas, and I was the one who had to comply.
They’ve warned dog owners to clean up after their pets. They’ve been called to local stores renting from Stuyvesant Town to handle unruly shoppers and sometimes deal with shoplifters.
But what about real crime? These unarmed security guards have apprehended burglars and rapists in my 110-building community. They’ve received awards from the local NYPD precinct commander for doing so.
Are these guards “wannabe cops?” Maybe some of them are. But they’ve proven their effectiveness in keeping my community safe – all without guns!
The NRA is wrong! Guns DO kill people. Had Zimmerman not been armed, Trayvon Martin would still be alive today.
Had Zimmerman not been armed, he probably wouldn’t have ever left the safety of his car. He would have merely phoned in a report to the real cops, as he was advised to do.
Knowing he was armed emboldened Zimmerman to leave his car, even after being told by the police “You don’t need to do that.”
It was the gun that gave Zimmerman the “courage” to physically confront Trayvon Martin. When Mr. Martin defended himself, Zimmerman killed him.
Apparently, Florida law only gives armed people the right to self-defense. Unarmed people, such as Mr. Martin, do not have the right to defend themselves against armed attackers.
Elliot Markson, ST


Mayoral candidates: We’ll be more pro-tenant than Bloomberg

Christine Quinn

Christine Quinn
Photos by Maria Rocha-Buchel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Last Wednesday, the candidates for mayor attempted to appeal to residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village by discussing the property’s and other tenant issues at the first-ever mayoral forum to be held by the Tenants Association.

All nine candidates were invited to participate at the event, which was held at Simon Baruch Middle School.

TA board Chair Susan Steinberg moderated the forum, attended by over 200 people, and posed questions to the eight candidates who attended, which included former New York City Council Member Sal Albanese (D), City Comptroller John Liu (D), former City Comptroller Bill Thompson (D), former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion (I), former US Representative Anthony Weiner (D), City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D), Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D) and businessman John Catsimatidis (R). Republican candidate and former MTA chairman Joe Lhota was invited but did not attend.

“The fact that this forum is so well attended by both residents and candidates shows that it’s an important time,” City Councilmember Dan Garodnick said at the outset of the event. “In January, we’ll have a new mayor so it’s important that we hear from all the candidates now.”

Garodnick set the tone of the event, noting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had not wanted to get in

Bill DeBlasio

Bill DeBlasio

volved with the conflict between the tenants and Tishman Speyer in 2006 because it was a “private real estate transaction” and many of the candidates addressed this issue, as well as focusing on general affordable housing concerns.

A number of the candidates insisted that they would take a much more active stance than Mayor Bloomberg has in his decade in office, most specifically in terms of housing.

“We need a mayor who will stand with you and make sure affordable housing is part of what New York City is,” Thompson said. “Using the bully pulpit that I have, I would stand side by side as you purchase your homes. The sale (in 2006) was national news. It was an opportunity for the mayor to make a statement about affordable housing and he didn’t.”

John Catsimatidis

John Catsimatidis

Liu expressed similar concerns about the current mayor’s lax approach. “How can it have nothing to do with the mayor’s office when tens of thousands of New Yorkers are involved? It makes no sense,” he said. “It shows neglect and a dereliction of duty. I’m willing to engage actively. If companies want to take over where tens of thousands of tenants live, City Hall has to pay attention.”

Steinberg asked most of the candidates if and how they would help ST/PCV tenants in their efforts to purchase the property and all said that they supported the plan while taking a more active role than Bloomberg has in the past.

“The mayor has the responsibility to intervene on behalf of the tenants,” Carrion said. “We can’t watch the market crush the middle class. It’s a shame that we’re in this situation, this bidding war. I support your efforts to buy the property but in a much shorter time frame than CW Capital is asking.”

Quinn said that as mayor, she would use a more hands-on approach as well when dealing with CW Capital.

Sal Albanese

Sal Albanese

“All the efforts so far haven’t worked yet but there is no bigger bully pulpit than the mayor’s office, save for the US President,” she said. “I will use that to bring CW Capital to the table. We would do it publicly.”

Weiner, like most of his opponents, said that he would be more involved in tenant issues than the current administration and would also support the tenant bid.

“There is too much at stake so I would take an active, not passive role, not just watching it play out. We need to make sure that someone is looking over the shoulder (of real estate developers),” he said. “There is a role for ownership but tenants should be able to continue to rent.” And while Weiner said that he would take a more active role in tenants’ issues, when asked about what he would have done during the Tishman Speyer deal, he said that he wouldn’t necessarily be the one calling the shots. “I would have had a presence at the table but would have left it to the residents,” he said.

John Liu

John Liu

Liu, Quinn, de Blasio and Thompson all noted that there are disparities between the tenants and the rent increases voted on by the Rent Guidelines Board in recent years and Albanese expressed support for the recent bill sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh that would give City Council more oversight when appointing members of the board.

“I would lead the tenant lobby and get the Urstadt Law repealed,” Quinn said. “There has been an erosion of tenant protection. We need to have power back here.”

Both Thompson and de Blasio called for more tenant representatives on the board.

“City Hall is supposed to think of the people who live here, not about the landlords,” de Blasio said.

Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner

Thompson added that there is a more urgent need for tenant representatives on the board due to the seeming disparities between the rent increases and landlord increases.

“The Rent Reform Campaign report said that the price index used by the Rent Guidelines Board is less accurate than what increases actually were,” he said. “We need more tenant-friendly people on the board.”

Adolfo Carrion

Adolfo Carrion

Weiner was one of the later candidates to speak and when he got to the stage, attracted a bit of attention due to his bright orange pants. His explanation for his fashion choice was that he’d worn them for a “West Village” audience. “I don’t normally dress like this but I just came from a rally in the West Village celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling against DOMA,” he said.

In his time at the podium, Catsimatidis made an attempt to appeal to a broad spectrum of residents, branding himself as a Republican Liberal. “I’m pro-business but I’m not going to give the streets back to the hoodlums,” he explained.

Public advocate candidates Daniel Squadron, Cathy Guerriero and Letitia James were also at the event.

Editorial: Candidates get on the tenant soapbox

Last Wednesday night, candidates demonstrated their interest in the tenant vote by showing up at a forum held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association. Asked about issues such as a possible tenant-led purchase of the property, the Rent Guidelines Board and major capital improvements, the candidates were given the opportunity to shine in the eyes of renters. But in the end, the biggest statement of the evening seemed to be a fashion one — who could miss those bright orange pants worn by would-be comeback kid Anthony Weiner? Or his explanation about how they were actually intended for a gay audience he’d addressed earlier.

As for what the candidates would do, if elected, to help residents, all gave the expected lip service that they would be much more active in fighting those battles than the current mayor is. But unfortunately, statements like that don’t actually say that much. As noted by Council Member Dan Garodnick during the forum, Bloomberg had shied away from any involvement during the historic sale in 2006 of Stuy Town to Tishman Speyer. And then, over the next few years, when things went south for tenants as well as the owner, there was still no interference. So really, by just showing their faces to residents at a single forum, the candidates have already been more of a presence in the ST/PCV community than Bloomberg.

In a more promising note, a few of the candidates (Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio) seemed to understand the need for reform of the RGB.

Not everyone was impressed though.

As attendee Kay Vota later relayed to Town & Village, the candidates “just said what everyone wanted to hear.

“I’ve been to three mayoral forums, and at every one I went to they say what they think the people want to hear and I think that’s pandering to the audience,” said Vota. “The question is are we having any real discussion of the issues? There are some really serious issues in the city.”

While she declined to get into who she’s supporting at this point, Vota, a longtime Stuy Town resident, does know who she doesn’t want to see get elected.

Commenting on Weiner’s statement about his outfit choice, Vota said, “I thought it was a double slam. It was insulting to say he dressed for gay people but he wasn’t dressed appropriately for us. If that’s what he was wearing, he should’ve been comfortable anywhere. I don’t think it showed common sense, but I guess he thought it was cute. But of course he’s the guy who put a picture of his package on the internet.”

In other forum-related news, the TA also hosted the candidates running for public advocate, since someone in this position could end up as mayor if something happens that prevents the mayor from serving.

Noticeably absent from the event was public advocate hopeful and former Wall Streeter Reshma Saujani, who some residents may remember from a very heated campaign for Congress against Carolyn Maloney in 2010.

Letters to the editor, July 4

Weiner rewrites history

At the Tenants Association Mayoral Forum, Anthony Weiner was asked about his 1994 City Council vote in favor of gutting rent regulations. His answer was dishonest.

Weiner defended that vote by telling only half a story while, at the same time, presenting a distorted view of NY’s rent regulation system. He portrayed his vote as being about taking rich people out of rent-regulated apartments.

He should know that under NY’s rent regulation system, the tenant isn’t regulated, the apartment is. So his vote took the wealthy tenant’s rent-regulated apartment out of the system (forever), not the tenant.

More importantly, he neglected to address the other, more devastating, part of the bill that has allowed landlords to permanently remove apartments from rent regulation when they become vacant.

Mike McKee of Tenants PAC met with Weiner in 1994. McKee says Weiner was one of the few City Council members who actually understood the bill’s dire consequences. Despite that and the promise he made to McKee and other tenant advocates not to vote for the bill, Weiner voted for it anyway.

Since Weiner’s 1994 vote, about 5,000 apartments have been deregulated thanks to the “luxury decontrol,” part of the bill of which he’s so proud. “Vacancy decontrol,” the other part of the bill that Weiner neglected to address, is responsible for the permanent deregulation of approximately 400,000 apartments and has led directly to the lousy situation we endure today in ST-PCV.

Every single voting resident of ST and PCV should remember this about Weiner come November.

John Sicoransa, ST

Continue reading