Letter to the editor, Nov. 30

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

To-do list for next Assemblymember

To the editor:

This is a comment on Marie Ternes’ “Moving onto the next election,” T&V, Nov. 16, and in a way a comment about the campaign of Keith Powers. Ms. Ternes, like Mr. Powers, has been a member of PCVST for years — likely for longer than I, but her idea of issues (issues that were, I hope, known to Mr. Powers, but tactically absent in his campaign literature) provoke my asking “Is that it?!?!” Ms. Ternes says that she wants to “Preserve and support middle and low-income housing.” I wondered, “Doesn’t everyone these days say they want to preserve middle-class everything?” So, having gone that far, I anticipated that I would soon see the complement of “preserve,” namely “affordable.”

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MCIs, noise top tenant concerns at meeting

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg speaks at Sunday’s meeting. Also pictured: Council Member-elect Keith Powers, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Council Member Dan Garodnick and State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

At a Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association meeting that was held on Sunday afternoon, while those in attendance were briefed on numerous issues such as coastal resiliency, the looming L train shutdown and Beth Israel developments, it was the ongoing issues of noise from construction as well as major capital improvements (MCI) that residents seemed most concerned about.

At the meeting, held at the auditorium of Simon Baruch Middle School, Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg spoke about recent MCIs for exterior restoration work, hot water heaters and video intercoms in Peter Cooper Village.

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Democrats vying for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

epstein

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.

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Powers and Rivera win big in City Council race

 

Council Member-elect Keith Powers, pictured outside Peter Cooper Village on Tuesday morning with his mother Barbara and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

Council Member-elect Carlina Rivera (center) with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Gale Brewer)

By Sabina Mollot

After a citywide general election that proved to be hotly contested in local City Council races but somewhat lackluster in the mayoral department, the results were in on Tuesday night, with all sought after positions remaining solidly Democrat.

Based on unofficial results provided by the New York City Board of Elections, Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera will be the next City Council members, replacing the term-limited Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, respectively.

Democrat Rivera won with wide margins in District 2, receiving 82.86 percent of the vote. Republican and Rent is 2 Damn High Party’s Jimmy McMillan got 11.58 percent of the vote. Liberal Party’s Jasmin Sanchez got 2.02 percent. Libertarian Party’s Don Garrity got 1.73 percent. Green Party’s Manny Cavaco got 1.56 percent. There were also 59 write-ins (0.26 percent) out of 23,047 people voting in the race.

Democrat Powers also won easily with 57.09 percent of the vote in District 4. Republican Rebecca Harary came in second with 30.75 percent. The tally also includes votes for the candidate through the other lines she ran on, Women’s Equality, Reform and Stop de Blasio. Liberal Party’s Rachel Honig got 12.06 percent. There were also 26 write-ins (0.1 percent) out of 27,511 people voting.

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, as was widely predicted, got Daniel Squadron’s abandoned downtown Senate seat, receiving 84.86 percent of the vote. Republican candidate Analicia Alexander got 14.68 percent. This means Kavanagh’s District 74 Assembly seat, which includes Stuyvesant Town and Waterside, is now vacant. A few local Democrats have already expressed interest.

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Who’s on the ballot in Council race

By Sabina Mollot

Tuesday, November 7 is Election Day for citywide races that include mayor, comptroller, district attorney, public advocate and City Council as well as borough president. Local races of interest however are really limited to the Council due to the open seats in Districts 2 and 4.

Town & Village has previously interviewed all the candidates in those two Council races, except District 2 Libertarian Donald Garrity, who couldn’t be reached. But for those still on the fence about who to vote for, read on for a cheat sheet on who’s on the ballot.

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Mendez mulling a run for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

Councilmember Rosie Mendez (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh having recently secured the party support he needed to secure the Democratic nomination for Daniel Squadron’s downtown seat, term-limited Council Member Rosie Mendez said she’s looking into the possibility of running for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat.

Prior to the primary for City Council and other citywide races, Mendez said she hadn’t had time to focus on the race. But now, she said, she can.

“It’s something I will look into now that we are through with the primary,” she said on Sunday afternoon, after the unveiling of Children’s Court Way street co-naming in Gramercy.

In September, Kavanagh secured the nod to get on the ballot through support of Brooklyn and Manhattan party bosses, rather than individual county committee members having their votes counted — or even getting to vote at all in Brooklyn, which makes up part of the Senate district. This strong-arm tactic, while criticized by more than a few people, was the legal alternative to a primary, which Squadron’s hasty departure from the legislature left no time for.

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Mendez hosting town hall with the mayor on October 12

Council Member Dan Garodnick with Mayor Bill de Blasio at a recent town hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

If you missed the recent town hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, you can still share your thoughts with the mayor at another town hall on October 12 at 7 p.m. to be hosted by Council Member Rosie Mendez.

The event is intended for residents of the Council District 2, encompassing the neighborhoods of East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay, Lower East Side, Murray Hill and Rose Hill. Along with Mendez, co-sponsors are Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Community Boards 2, 3, 5 and 6, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement and the Loisaida Center. Along with the mayor, commissioners and NYPD representatives will be present.

To attend, RSVP by October 10 at 5 p.m. via email at manhattantownhall@cityhall.nyc.gov or by calling (212) 788-2781. Space is limited. Doors open at 6 p.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. at P.S. 188 The Island School, 442 East Houston Street. (Enter on corner of East Houston Street and Baruch Drive.)

Mendez, in an email to constituents, has also mentioned the following rules: Each constituent who is called on to ask a question will be able to ask one question. No signs will be permitted into the event. Chanting is not allowed.

 

Editorial: Rage against the Democratic machine

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, who recently announced his intention to run for a downtown State Senate seat, just got a big boost this week with the support of the Brooklyn Democratic Party and the Manhattan Party bosses, the mayor, the governor and other elected officials. This was all in lieu of a primary since State Senator Daniel Squadron’s sudden withdrawal from public office ensured there would be no opportunity for one.

Naturally, this process has been widely blasted as being a shady “backroom” deal, for giving too much power to party bosses and allowing Squadron to handpick a successor. We have to say; we couldn’t agree more. Such blatant cronyism reeks of Tammany politics. Along with cheating voters and Kavanagh’s opponent, District Leader Paul Newell, it has also got to sting a little to the dozens of candidates who just went through the grueling process of campaigning for open and vulnerable City Council seats.

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Kavanagh gets Dems’ nod for Senate in back room deal

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Democratic leaders in the Brooklyn and Manhattan on Sunday chose Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh as the nominee for the State Senate seat Daniel Squadron resigned from in August. The contentious nominating process pitted Kavanagh against district leader Paul Newell, who received the majority of the votes from county committee members in Manhattan but was not nominated because the block of votes from Brooklyn went to Kavanagh.

Since State Senate District 26 spans two boroughs, Manhattan and Brooklyn, party bosses in each were allowed to determine how to nominate a candidate, either by a convention, vote from committee members or a block vote.

The process in Manhattan included a convention on Sunday in which 100 county committee members took a vote, Gothamist reported. The vote was only advisory but members hoped that Keith Wright, the leader in Manhattan, would heed the results, in which members voted overwhelmingly for Newell.

According to official rules, Brooklyn did not have to hold a convention, although Democrats encouraged party boss Frank Seddio to do so. Seddio ultimately announced on Sunday that he would be backing Kavanagh without a convention or vote from committee members, which he said was because Kavanagh had the most support from elected officials in Brooklyn as well as the Working Families Party.

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Garodnick finally makes an endorsement for his Council seat

Keith Powers with Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo via Dan Garodnick’s Twitter account)

A day before the primary, outgoing Council Member Dan Garodnick announced an endorsement for his Peter Cooper Village neighbor, Keith Powers, for his council seat.

“I am enthusiastically endorsing Keith Powers to continue my work in the City Council,” said Garodnick. “As a third generation East Sider, Keith will be a fighter to protect and expand affordable housing. He also has strong experience in government – working for State Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Jonathan Bing, where we worked together to address school overcrowding, to assist small businesses affected by the Second Avenue Subway, and to prevent overdevelopment.”

Powers also recently received the endorsement of other local elected officials (Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Comptroller Scott Stringer).

In response to Garodnick’s support, Powers said, “I’m honored to receive the endorsement of Council Member Dan Garodnick. For the past twelve years he’s been a champion for our community. I look forward to continuing his leadership in the district on good government, affordable housing, and public education.”

Council Member Dan Garodnick has served the 4th Council District since 2006. The 4th Council District includes Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Waterside Plaza, Tudor City, East Midtown, Midtown West and the Upper East Side.

Kavanagh, Hoylman, Stringer all endorsing Powers

Keith Powers

Keith Powers

By Sabina Mollot

 

With the primary less than a week away, Council candidate Keith Powers got a major boost with the endorsements of the people he hopes to soon be working with: State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Comptroller Scott Stringer. (So far Council Member Dan Garodnick has not announced an endorsement.)

“I am honored to have the support of four great leaders in the city,” said Powers. “All of them have well-earned reputations as strong reformers. They will be key partners in implementing our shared agenda of building affordable housing, improving city government, and strengthening our public schools.”

Stringer praised Powers for his progressive values, while Hoylman said he’d be a strong advocate for tenants. Kavanagh added that Powers has ideas for combating climate change and government reform.

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No one yet vying for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh is a candidate Daniel Squadron’s Senate seat. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh having expressed his interest in taking over the State Senate seat occupied by Daniel Squadron, who announced his resignation last week, it is unclear who would fill Kavanagh’s spot in Albany if he’s successful.

Two obvious choices would be City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, since they both live in the area covered by Assembly District 74 and are both getting term-limited out of the Council. However, neither of them has given any hint that they’re interested in the job, which involves taking a substantial pay cut and regularly commuting to the state capital.

Reached on the phone a day after Kavanagh made his announcement of his intention to seek the Senate seat, Mendez said she hadn’t had a chance to give it much thought.

“It’s absolutely too soon to say,” she told us. Instead, Mendez said, she’s been focusing on all the things she wants to get done before leaving office. “It’s a busy time. My plan was to start looking for a job after the primary.”

She did, however, get a call from Kavanagh ahead of his announcement to share his intentions and she also heard from others she didn’t name who were interested in running for the vacant Senate seat.

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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.”