Tenants lose bargaining power under new state budget

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday night, when the New York State budget was passed by the Senate, landlords won an extension of the 421 tax break for new developments while tenants lost some leverage in the ongoing effort to renew and strengthen the rent laws.

The combined budget bills had totaled nearly 2,000 pages, as noted by State Senator Brad Hoylman last week. He’d voted no as a protest to being expected to review a Bible-sized stack in a matter of hours.

However, with the voting now over in the Senate as well as the Assembly, Hoylman gave Town & Village a recap.

The 421a tax break for developers, which was included in the budget, will no longer sunset at the same time as the rent negotiations. The timeline had previously been seen by tenants as an opportunity to bargain for stronger rent laws.

“The fact that the 421a real estate tax exemption was negotiated behind closed doors is scandalous,” said Hoylman, “but what is also extremely scandalous is that it was not linked to renewal of the rent laws. Albany made a colossal mistake in de-coupling the renewal of 421a with rent laws. That was a major leverage point.”

Additionally, ethics reforms, including the closure of the LLC Loophole (which allows donors to give nearly limitless campaign cash to politicians through LLCs), were not included.

“There was no mention of ethics reform in any part of the budget,” said Hoylman, “which is extremely disappointing. Not an iota. They blocked the LLC Loophole (closure), they blocked measures to limit outside income. Once again the Senate majority refused to take action. The budget process itself was dysfunctional.”

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Mayor aims to create science jobs on East Side and in L.I. City

Mayor Bill de Blasio with other elected officials and speakers at an announcement at the Alexandria Science Research Center in Kips Bay. (Pictured) Dr. Vicki Sato, Dr. Harold Varmus, President of the Economic Development Corporation Maria Torres-Springer, Teeba Jihad, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

Mayor Bill de Blasio with other elected officials and speakers at an announcement at the Alexandria Science Research Center in Kips Bay. (Pictured) Dr. Vicki Sato, Dr. Harold Varmus, President of the Economic Development Corporation Maria Torres-Springer, Teeba Jihad, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

By Michelle Deal Winfield

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan that he says will create 16,000 new jobs in life sciences and bio-engineering in New York City.

He made the announcement at the Alexandria Science Research Center in Kips Bay, alongside local elected officials.

The mayor paid homage to former Mayor Bloomberg saying, “We are taking a page from the former mayor’s playbook. Mayor Bloomberg diversified investments to help set up the Cornell Tech Center on Roosevelt Island. It worked. The city will invest in emerging companies to create innovative approaches that will lead to improvements in the health industry. We decided to look for spaces on the East Side in Manhattan and in Long Island City.”

Maria Torres-Springer, president of NYC Economic Development Corporation said the project is expected to generate 9,000 jobs in the life sciences.

“Seven thousand new jobs will be created in related fields like marketing, advertising and training,” she said. “There will also be 7,500 jobs in construction to set up labs.”

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Local candidates spar at forum

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney speaks at last Tuesday’s candidate night event hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council. Other speakers included  Robert Ardini (right), Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and his opponent Frank Scala. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney speaks at last Tuesday’s candidate night event hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council. Other speakers included Robert Ardini (right), Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and his opponent Frank Scala. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local politicians and political hopefuls gathered at the Sutton Place Synagogue last Tuesday evening to discuss their platforms at an event for local candidates hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council. Democratic incumbents Brian Kavanagh, who represents the 74th Assembly District, and Carolyn Maloney, the U.S. Representative for New York’s 12th congressional district, made appearances at the event, along with their Republican challengers, Stuyvesant Town resident Frank Scala and Long Island City resident Robert Ardini, respectively.

Scala, who’s the president of the Vincent Albano Republican Club, is also the owner of a barber shop on Fifth Avenue. Ardini is a former marketing executive who is currently focusing full-time on the race.

When it was his turn at the podium, Ardini brought up the nearly quarter-century long stronghold Maloney has in the district.

“It doesn’t seem like intention of founders for politicians to serve indefinitely,” he said, arguing that there should be term limits. “Congresswoman Maloney, you are a national treasure but it’s time to give someone else a chance.”

Maloney, on the other hand, had a different perspective.

“We do have term limits in our country,” she said “They’re called elections. If you don’t like the job someone is doing, vote for someone else. I’m proud of my record and have ideas of more to do.”

Ardini noted that another issue he’s concerned with is the national debt and he said he felt that current politicians aren’t doing enough to address the issue but Maloney argued that Democrats have been able to deal with the deficit effectively.

“I’m concerned about national debt too but when Bill Clinton was president, we balanced the budget and had a surplus that was (later) spent on wars,” she said. “We were shedding 800,000 jobs a month but with hard work, we have grown our way out of that. Our economy, although not as good as we’d like, is leading the world even though we suffered that terrible financial crisis.”

While addressing a question about community policing, Assembly candidate Frank Scala said he felt stop and frisk was necessary, but only in specific circumstances.

“When the temperature outside is 95 and you see a guy with a big hood and glasses and he seems suspicious, that would be a case for stop and frisk,” he said. “If the guy is running that means something is wrong.”

Kavanagh, on the other hand, said that he thought the policy is unnecessary as well as unconstitutional, and that it didn’t have a noticeable impact in the reduction of crime throughout the city.

“The NYPD has been able to continue reduction of crime despite not using stop and frisk,” he said. “The policy made it difficult for police to work with communities and it doesn’t lead to good relationships.”

Scala, who is also president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, has had a close relationship with the NYPD and praised the work they do, specifically those at his local precinct.

“Police do a good job. Some police abuse the uniform but most of the time I believe they do a good job and should continue to do whatever they’re doing,” he said.

He added, however, that he felt local Democratic politicians have done less well by the community throughout the years.

“When Roy Goodman was our senator, Stuy Town and Peter Cooper were best places you could live but we’ve had nothing but problems since Democrats took over,” he said, then apologizing to his opponent for the slight.

While at the meeting, a Maloney supporter named Paige Judge shared that she is against term limits.

“You only learn about things in government by doing it,” she argued. “I wish you would forget about term limits. You’re going to lose a lot of good people that way.”

Letters to the Editor, Oct. 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The legacy of President Barack Obama

Firstly, it takes generations for historians to make decisions which demonstrate valid meanings and consensus – and who are doing the evaluations.

And, they can change with time. E.g., President Eisenhower was viewed unfavorably by most of the pundits but now during the past 60 years or so, his greatness is far more appreciated. In his final speech as president, he showed great prescience when he warned the nation of the growing danger of the “military industrial complex.”

Another example is Truman, who left office in 1953 with quite low appreciation and with years, he is recognized as having been in the upper tier.

Methinks as I have observed Obama during the past almost eight years… he may well be the greatest chief executive that I have encountered in my life. Brilliant, articulate and a real mensch, he has demonstrated the patience of a saint. On the very night of the day he was inaugurated, the top Congressional GOPers met and vowed complete obstruction so as to make him a one term president. Some patriotism!

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Mayor, pols ask for $1.9B in Zika funding

Aug18 Mayor Maloney Kavanagh

Mayor de Blasio holding a letter to the leaders of the Congress and U.S. Senate, with State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Health Commissioner Mary Travis Bassett at the city’s public health lab (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

As the threat of the Zika virus spreads, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials called on Congress on Tuesday to authorize $1.9 billion in funding for research and prevention efforts.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who was at the announcement with the mayor at the city’s public health lab in Bedpan Alley, said the problem was that Congress, specifically Republicans, were only willing to fund $1.1 billion. In February, President Obama had asked for Congress to allocate $1.9 billion.

Additionally, Maloney said, the debate in the house over funding has led to Republicans including a rider that would ban funding to Planned Parenthood, limiting access to abortions and contraceptives to women here and abroad. Meanwhile, Zika, Maloney argued, is known to cause serious birth defects so New York City’s health department has been actively advising safe sex for people traveling to Zika-impacting areas.

“They added a poison pill,” said Maloney, who argued that the immediate health threat posed by Zika shouldn’t be turned into “ideological crusades.”

With Congress deadlocked on the issue, money to fund Zika efforts has been taken from other existing health initiatives, including $589 million in Ebola funding. “They’re stealing from Peter to pay Paul and it’s not a good way to solve a crisis,” Maloney said.

De Blasio noted how the city had launched a $21 million Zika offensive effort in April that includes the spraying of larvacide in different areas and outreach to warn people, especially those who travel to impacted regions, about the disease which has at last official count infected 530 New York State residents. Of those, 438 are city residents. The latter figure includes 49 pregnant women, with all of the cases being travel related except four that were sexually transmitted. One baby in New York City has been born with microcephaly, a severe birth defect caused by Zika that causes the baby to be born with a small head, a sloped back forehead and mental challenges due to a smaller brain.

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Cuomo: It’s time to close LLC Loophole

Kavanagh

Assembly man Brian Kavanagh has been pushing to close the LLC Loophole.

By Sabina Mollot

 

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said it was time to close the infamous LLC Loophole.

It was while making his State of the State address that Cuomo said that as far as the LLC Loophole is concerned, “The time for debate has passed. I call on the legislature to close the LLC Loophole. Pass it and I will sign it the very same day.”

He went on to say how there was a time when legislators, at the end of the day at the Capitol, went home to work on their farms. But nowadays, the governor said, they leave for their law firms, which is a recipe for conflict. He then proposed adopting the Congressional system of limiting outside income for legislators. He also acknowledged that the current campaign finance system makes it impossible for a candidate without funds to get anywhere. “We should encourage new participation,” he said, and also went on to say taxpayer money should not be used to pay the pensions of legislators who’ve been convicted of crimes relating to their jobs.

“2015 was a tough year. It was an ugly year on many levels,” said Cuomo, no doubt in reference to the Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver corruption cases.

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TenantsPAC: Don’t expect Albany to change

 

Sheldon Silver

Sheldon Silver

By Sabina Mollot
On Monday, one of Albany’s former famed three men in a room, Sheldon Silver, was convicted on corruption charges, for a bribery and kickback scheme that netted him $4 million. Part of the scheme involved the Lower East Side pol using his influence to benefit two real estate developers, in particular Glenwood Management, while at the same time positioning himself as being tenant-friendly. He also directed taxpayer money to a cancer researcher while a doctor there steered patients suffering from asbestos exposure to a law firm that paid Silver referral fees.

However, his failure to sway a jury of his innocence won’t be enough to prompt Albany’s remaining power players to renounce their ways by pushing for campaign finance reform or the closure of the “LLC Loophole.”

Mike McKee, the outspoken treasurer of TenantsPAC, told Town & Village on Tuesday of this gloomy forecast, predicting things will be as they were before, with the onus on tenants to put pressure of their local elected leaders to make meaningful changes. Otherwise, forget it.

“I would hope,” McKee said, “that this would be a wakeup call to the public that something is fundamentally wrong with our system of government, and unless people start holding legislators accountable, the pay-to-play culture is not going to change ever. Why would it change?”

Following the conviction, Governor Cuomo promised some ethics reforms, according to news reports. (His office did not respond to a request for comment.) But when T&V asked McKee if he thought the embarrassment of an Albany ex-kingpin facing jail time might make the governor regret his decision to shut down his commission aimed at rooting out corruption, McKee laughed.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “Andrew Cuomo’s agenda is Andrew Cuomo. He has benefitted more than anyone from the system we have. He got more money from Glenwood than anyone else. When the Moreland Commission started investigating his fundraising, that’s when he shut it down. I really wish it’s going to change but it won’t unless constituents put on the pressure. Every time you see an elected official you have to ask, ‘What are you doing about campaign finance reform and the LLC Loophole and the election system so people can actually run against incumbents?’”

State Senator Brad Hoylman, however, disagreed with McKee, saying the Silver bombshell might be what it takes to get even his own house, where tenant-friendly legislation goes to die, to pass meaningful reforms.

“This is Albany’s Watergate moment,” said Hoylman. “I think this is a seismic event that has the potential to disrupt business as usual in Albany. The issue of outside income is key. The fact that Silver was able to take in $4 million in referral fees is on its face outrageous and is something we should consider ending.”

Hoylman said he’s been pushing for an end to this practice since his first year in office.

“It’s not a coincidence Congress came to this conclusion after Watergate,” he added. “The other key fact in the Silver case is the exploitation by real estate companies of limited liability corporations. The LLC Loophole is the primary vehicle of the real estate industry to hold sway over the legislature.”

The so-called LLC Loophole is a regulation that allows companies to make political donations for every limited liability corporation they run and real estate developers often have LLCs for each property they own.

“I think this is something we learned in the Silver case and I believe this issue is going to pick up steam — even in my house,” said Hoylman. “I think the public is rightfully outraged by what they’ve been hearing from the courthouse in Lower Manhattan.”
Earlier this year, Hoylman authored legislation that would make it a class C felony or a public servant to steer grants towards organizations that benefit their families or people they have business relationships with.

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, who’s been pushing to close the LLC Loophole, did not respond to a request for comment on the Silver conviction.

As a result of the conviction, Silver must give up the Assembly seat he’s held onto for four decades. By Tuesday morning, Silver’s official Assembly web page was down. A spokesperson for the Assembly said she’d pass on a request for comment, but admitted she didn’t know who’d be handling Silver-related queries. One of Silver’s trial attorneys, Steven Molo, didn’t respond to a request for comment although he did tell Real Estate Weekly he’d be appealing.

“Weʼre obviously very disappointed and we had hoped the jury would see it our way,ˮ Molo said. “We are sorry that they didn’t but we believe that we’re on strong legal ground.ˮ

Residents not enrolling for SCRIE/DRIE benefits

State Senator Brad Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Local elected officials have started holding workshops to enroll residents in Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) programs since a report came out earlier this year noting that less than half of eligible tenants are receiving the benefits they are entitled to.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, along with State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, most recently hosted an event at 535 East Fifth Street on October 23 to encourage eligible seniors and disabled residents to sign up for the program that would freeze their rent, and the workshop was attended by about 30 tenants.

SCRIE and DRIE, collectively known as the New York City Rent Freeze Program, is available to seniors over age 62 and tenants with disabilities. Eligible tenants receive rent increase exemptions through a property tax credit and the income threshold increased to $50,000, from the previous limit of $29,000, earlier this year.

Attorneys from Legal Aid and legal firm Skadden Arps were available at the workshop to help residents complete their paperwork but Senator Hoylman noted that filing for the benefits doesn’t necessarily require a fine-tuned legal mind.

“A big part of it is education,” he said. “A number of people who are eligible just don’t know that it’s available, and because it’s pegged to income, you have to re-enroll every year.”

Senator Hoylman cited the low enrollment specifically in Stuyvesant Town as one of the motivating factors for holding the workshops. The report from the Department of Finance found that Stuy Town was one of the most underenrolled neighborhoods in the city, with only 1,317 out of 5,144 eligible residents enrolled in the program, meaning that only 25 percent of eligible seniors and tenants with disabilities are receiving benefits.

Liliana Vaamonde, Director of Training for the Civil Practice with Legal Aid, also noted that education is an important component for enrolling residents in the program, mainly because of the recent changes in the income limit.

“There was a big change that happened last year with the income level so a whole new, large group of people are now eligible,” she said. “The city has been making an effort to do outreach at senior centers and elsewhere so it’s going to take time to inform everyone about the increase.”

Vaamonde added that there are a few misconceptions about the program that residents have at the workshops as well, relating to eligibility and the income level. She clarified that some tenants are confused about why they are not eligible even though their own income is below the $50,000 threshold.

“It’s about the household and not their individual income, so even if a primary tenant has an income below $50,000, other members of the household might bump it up too high,” she said.

She also clarified that the program is only available to tenants who live in rent-regulated housing and they often get questions about eligibility from residents in public housing or privately owned buildings who do meet the income requirements.

“This is all contingent on the fact that they have rent stabilized housing,” Vaamonde said.

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, has been doing her part to increase education about the program, with legislation that requires landlords to notify tenants about programs that would freeze their rents. Assemblymember Rosenthal announced this past Monday that the bill had been signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Pols ask Blackstone’s intentions on ST air rights

Comptroller Scott Stringer Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Comptroller Scott Stringer (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local elected officials, while generally enthusiastic about the deal that the city has struck with Blackstone for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, still have some concerns about the details of the agreement, specifically regarding air rights.

Those four officials — Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney — addressed some of these issues in a letter to Jonathan Gray, the global head of real estate for the company, on Monday.

According to the Department of City Planning, “air rights” refers to the difference between the maximum amount of floor area that is allowed on a zoning lot and the actual built floor area. A transfer of air rights, sometimes known as unused development rights, allows that space to be transferred from one zoning lot to another, usually used to preserve historic buildings or open space. Air rights can usually be shifted from one adjacent lot to another but in the cases where historic buildings or open spaces are at stake, a transfer to a different location farther away is sometimes permitted.

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Legal clinic to be held on nonrenewal notices, succession

Council Member Dan Garodnick (pictured at a meeting in July)

Council Member Dan Garodnick (pictured at a meeting in July)

By Sabina Mollot

Following a spate of residents being faced with primary residence challenges while some others have recently been denied succession, local elected officials and the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association have announced they would be hosting a legal clinic on both issues.

The event will take place on Wednesday, August 19 from 6-7:30 p.m. at MS 104 at 330 East 21st Street and will be co-hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. Attorneys from the Urban Justice Center will also be present.

As Town & Village reported in late July, the Tenants Association had noticed an uptick in Golub notices or notices of nonrenewal being issued due to primary residence challenges. As of July 30, TA President Susan Steinberg said she knew of seven new Golubs being issued.

However, she noted, this was nowhere near as many as had been sent out at one time during the Tishman Speyer era of Stuyvesant Town. The former owner eventually managed to serve over 1,000 tenants with Golub notices.

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Neighbors stand firm on hatred of sanitation garage

Garodnick, Mendez echo residents’ concerns at meeting

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of buildings located near the planned sanitation garage on East 25th Street took turns ripping into city officials last Wednesday at a raucous meeting that was aimed at getting public feedback.

Over 150 people attended the scoping session, which was at the garage site, the current CUNY Brookdale campus. Many of them were leaders of local tenants associations and co-op boards who’ve joined the recently formed Brookdale Neighborhood Coalition, which opposes the garage. The garage plan has been deeply unpopular since it was announced in 2013, and, just like at previous meetings, tenants voiced their concerns about potential impacts on air quality from truck fumes, odors, vermin and added traffic congestion that could delay ambulances at local hospitals. Many also argued that a garage for 180 sanitation trucks just seemed out of place on First Avenue’s science/medical corridor.

This time, however, a few elected officials also showed up to the meeting, and two City Council members, Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, called on the city to be more responsive to residents’ concerns.

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Lawsuit to close election loophole

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (pictured at a rally in May) is one of the plaintiffs. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, three Democratic state legislators filed a lawsuit against the Board of Elections aimed at closing the “LLC Loophole.”

The so-called loophole, created by the board in 1996, came under scrutiny this year due to all the campaign cash that had been legally funneled to legislators through limited liability companies. Many of the LLCs were controlled by real estate interests, most infamously Leonard Litwin of Glenwood Management. The loophole has allowed them to give nearly limitless contributions — up to $60,800 in a single election year by allowing them to be considered individuals.

“It’s not just (Litwin),” said Brent Ferguson, an attorney with New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which helped prepare the lawsuit. “In the real estate industry, they can operate a separate LLC for every building they own.”

He added, “We think it’s an incorrect reading of the law.”

The Brennan Center got involved with a suit on the loophole, said Ferguson, because it’s “become very popular” in recent years. “The amount has skyrocketed.”

Since 2011, $54 million has been donated by LLCs through the loophole, and while those doing the giving are usually traceable, they aren’t always.

“We think it’s one of the biggest problems in New York’s campaign finance system and democracy in general,” said Ferguson.

The legislators who are plaintiffs in the suit include Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Senators Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron who are all Democrats as well as

Republicans John R. Dunne, a former senator and former U.S. attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, and Maureen Koetz, who ran a campaign against Assembly Member Sheldon Silver last year.

Another plaintiff is SUNY New Paltz Professor Gerald Benjamin, an upstate Republican Party leader. The suit was filed with the Albany County Supreme Court with the help of the Brennan Center and the firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP.

In April the Brennan Center and Emery Celli asked the BOE to close the loophole, but the board, after a 2-2 vote, didn’t reverse its decision.

Prior to the rent laws being renewed last month, Kavanagh had introduced legislation that would cap contributions from corporations at $5,000 per calendar year. The bill made it through the Assembly but not the Senate.

In an official statement, Kavanagh said, “The individuals and businesses who give large contributions through LLCs have much more power than those who have not contributed or have contributed under the lower limits that apply to other entities and individuals. The result is that government does not adequately represent those New Yorkers who do not have the ability or desire to exploit the LLC Loophole.”

Krueger said that she’s encountered would-be candidates for public office who got turned off from running because they didn’t think they’d be able to compete with candidates raising more money.

“The prominence of LLC contributions has a significant effect on the willingness and ability of people to run for office,” she said.

Ferguson said the plaintiffs are hoping the litigation will be resolved before the 2016 elections. The fight is not a new one though, he said, noting that in 2007, some good government groups raised some of the points to the BOE raised in the suit.

The lawsuit argues that an LLC is not individual because: “An LLC cannot vote. It holds no political view separate of its members.” It also noted how LLCs had been looked at by the governor’s now disbanded anti-corruption panel, who believed they contributed to Albany’s “pay-to-play culture.”

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

Kayaking at the Cove on July 12

Kayakers with STPCV and Waterside Plaza in 2013 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Kayakers at a Stuy Cove kayaking event in 2013 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A Stuyvesant Cove walkup paddling event will be held on Sunday, July 12 from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Participants must be 18 or older or accompanied by a parent or guardian and know how to swim. For more information on this free event, visit Stuy Cove Kayaking’s website or Solar 1’s website.

The event is co-sponsored by Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Council Member Dan Garodnick.

Letters to the Editor, July 9

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why the sanitation garage plan stinks!

Dear Editor,

I was at the Monday, June 22 sanitation garage meeting, where I felt that the forum was chosen because it was not very accessible. I think that the community was not told about it with enough lead time. There were not as many people as I would have expected. And sadly, neither Mr. Garodnick nor Mr. Kavanagh were there.

Because my husband had to go out of town unexpectedly, I had not planned to attend. But neighbors convinced me to, especially because I used to live near the old sanitation garage on East 73rd Street. I lived there for close to three years.

Like the proposal here, they did not keep the garbage there, but there was a stench all year round, which was particularly bad in the summer. There were plenty of flies, but worse, in my opinion, were the rats. They were enormous and I stopped walking to the FDR access road to run to the river overpass by there. I was afraid of the rats.

The traffic was constant and unrelenting. Like 25th Street, 73rd was a two way road that had access to the FDR. Those truck are huge and often blocked the way. The trucks left every two hours during the night, so there was constant noise. I understand the plan here would not allow that, but really, how do we know?

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On the rent laws’ limited improvements

By Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh

With the rent laws that protect more than 2 million tenants set to expire on June 15 this year, and the inadequacies and loopholes in the current laws all too apparent, the Assembly’s Democratic Majority, led by Speaker Heastie, fought resolutely to renew and strengthen these vital protections, in negotiations with Senate Republicans and Governor Cuomo.

In taking up this cause, we were joined by a diverse coalition, including thousands of my constituents and other New Yorkers who took the time to call and write their elected officials, attend rallies, and travel to Albany to make sure their voices were heard; advocacy organizations like the Alliance for Tenant Power, the Real Rent Reform Campaign, Tenants and Neighbors, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, Good Old Lower East Side, and the Cooper Square Committee; and many elected officials, including Senators Squadron, Hoylman, and Krueger whose districts overlap with my Assembly district.

While it was critical that the laws be extended, and there are minor improvements in the extension passed last night, I am profoundly disappointed that notwithstanding all of our efforts, the bill fails to provide anything close to the protections we need to maintain stable, affordable communities. I voted against it.

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