Democrats retake State Senate, Maloney and Epstein win easily

A line snakes out of a Stuyvesant Town polling place, with turnout being similar to presidential election years. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local politicians were easily re-elected on Tuesday, with none of the state and federal candidates facing any serious challengers in this year’s midterms.

State Senator Brad Hoylman had the easiest path to victory, not having to face any challenger at all, although many of his fellow Democrats vying to flip seats in the State Senate had much closer races. But enough were successful in their campaigns that Democrats were able to regain a majority for only the third time in the last 50 years.

Some Senate races had still not been called as of Wednesday afternoon but by Tuesday night, at least 32 Senate Democrats had won their races, and Republicans won 21 seats. The win means that Democrats control the State Senate and Assembly as well as the offices of the governor, comptroller and attorney general.

Incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney won against Republican Eliot Rabin with 86.2 percent of the vote. Rabin received 12.3 percent of the vote, and Green Party candidate Scott Hutchins got 1.5 percent of the vote. Incumbent Assembly Member Harvey Epstein beat out Juan Pagan of the Reform Party and Republican Bryan Cooper with 87 percent of the vote.

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Editorial: Re-elect Maloney and Epstein

Today is Election Day, and along with the race for governor, United States senator and attorney general, locally, in the 74th Assembly District, voters will have the opportunity to choose their Assembly member and Congress member.

During the primaries, Town & Village endorsed the incumbents, Harvey Epstein and Carolyn Maloney, for these positions. (State Senator Brad Hoylman ran uncontested during the primary and will again face no opponent on November 6.)

As for the general election, we are sticking with the aforementioned candidates for their records of accomplishment and for platforms that are in line with the concerns and values of the vast majority of their constituents.

Eliot Rabin, an Upper East Side boutique owner and Republican, and Scott Hutchins, a homeless activist in the Green Party, both hope to unseat Maloney.

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L train, noise and MCIs will be addressed at Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village TA meeting

L train construction and other train related issues will be discussed on Saturday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As was announced earlier this month, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will be holding a meeting a number of issues on Saturday, September 29 at 2 p.m.

Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg says those who attend can expect to learn more about the following topics:

One will be the L train, specifically residents’ concerns surrounding construction, and, once the shutdown begins, transportation.

“The MTA and the DOT are being awfully vague about what their plans are,” Steinberg said. “As you reported about the L train, they talk about mitigation steps but they don’t say what they are. And I love how they said they’re not really going to be 24/7, but if they need to be, they will.”

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L train neighbors worried about noise, dust and diesel

The possibility of 24/7 construction on East 14th Street as the Avenue A subway entrance is being built was raised at a town hall meeting on Monday night. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Village residents and local politicians demanded detailed mitigation plans from transit officials about noise and air quality relating to the upcoming L train shutdown at a recent town hall.

Speakers at the meeting, held on Monday night, brought up the construction that has already taken over East 14th Street and Avenue A as part of the work for the new subway entrance for the L train, with multiple others commenting on the increase in diesel buses in neighborhoods throughout Lower Manhattan.

“I think many of my neighbors were still surprised to realize that this will be a 24/7 construction zone moving forward in the months and years ahead,” Council Member Keith Powers said at the meeting, noting that he has already been hearing from constituents living near the construction zone at Avenue A who are dealing with noise, dust and vibrations in their apartments.

“That is in addition to everything else that we’ve talked about, which is making sure that people will be able to get to work every single day and get around the city,” Powers said. “I would ask again that we have a real plan to address long-term construction area around 14th Street, that we have a dust mitigation and noise plan. We can still do better in addressing these issues.”

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 20

Sept20 Toon Cuomo deluge

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

More bikes than ever so why none left?

Re: “Two Citi Bike valet stations arrive in ST,” T&V, Aug. 30

You recently published an article about the Citi Bike racks at 20th and the FDR and First Avenue and 16th Street being made valet racks. This was great news except the rack at 20th and the FDR has been empty four of the last eight mornings I’ve gone out for a bike.

I joined Citi Bike when it first came into Manhattan. Over the last five plus years I’ve not had a bike about 95 percent of the time I’ve wanted one on weekday mornings. I’ve never understood why an area as big as PCV/ST is so underserved by Citi Bike. There are four racks now in the entire complex since the removal of the rack at 14th and B. Other areas in the city have racks every other street. Go across 13th Street and there are racks at almost every avenue.

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Local primary voters say they wanted change

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

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

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

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

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

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Editorial: Keep Epstein in the State Assembly, send Cuomo a message from tenants

On Thursday, September 13, Democrat voters in New York will have the opportunity to vote, at the primary level, for their governor, lieutenant governor and public advocate. In the 74th Assembly District, which runs along the East Side from the East Village to Tudor City, there will also be the chance to vote for their representative in the New York Assembly.

For this seat, we endorse Harvey Epstein.

Epstein received our endorsement prior to the special election in April and is getting it again now for the same reason, his record of getting results for tenants. His opponents have argued – and rightly so – that it’s nearly impossible to beat the “Democratic machine,” a candidate supported firmly by the party, which in this case is Epstein. However, we do believe he has rightfully earned the trust he’s gotten and look forward to seeing him implement not only tenant protections but reforms to the state’s voting system as he has already sponsored legislation to do.

As for governor, we support Cynthia Nixon.

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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 6

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Back when no one hated squirrels

Re: “To feed or not to feed the squirrels,” T&V, Aug. 16

My response to the squirrel dilemma would probably exceed, in length, your article.

I am appalled. The squirrels are part of our community and I would be horrified if a decision was made that they be evicted. I have never been made aware of any instances of aggression. We lived, and do, in harmony.

However, as a pediatric nurse practitioner, and even if I weren’t, I am very concerned about the current parenting of children; not commenting on all parents.

Cell phone/social media obsession, failure to interact with the child/monitor the activities/safety of the child.

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Epstein hopes to make Albany more organized

Harvey Epstein

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

By Sabina Mollot

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

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

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

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

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Kips Bay resident running for Assembly in primary

Akshay Vaishampayan

By Sabina Mollot

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

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

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

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

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National Night Out Against Crime

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT AGAINST CRIME was held by the 13th Precinct Community Council at Peter’s Field playground last Thursday evening, providing the neighborhood with an annual barbecue and block party, though this year’s ended early due to a storm. (Pictured) Some of the event’s organizers: Carol Schachter, Pat Sallin, Frank Scala, president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, NYC Department for the Aging Assistant Commissioner Eileen Mullarkey, who presented a proclamation, and the precinct’s Executive Officer Ernesto Castro

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

National Night Out Against Crime, an annual block party aimed at bringing members of law enforcement agencies and community members together, was cut short this year due to a thunderstorm. However, before the blackening sky shut things down last Tuesday evening, the event held by the 13th Precinct Community Council in the Peter’s Field playground on Second Avenue in Gramercy managed to draw a steady stream of neighbors.

As always, participants got to speak with NYPD officials and representatives from other agencies and local businesses and nonprofits at informational tables over plates of free food. There were also free activities for children.

The storm was no joke, though, as Gothamist reported last Wednesday that three people had been struck by lightning.

But prior to the event shutting down after two hours instead of the usual three, in keeping with tradition, a representative from the mayor’s office brought a proclamation.

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Blueprint for affordable housing

WatersidePlaza

By Council Member Keith Powers and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein

As rents continue to climb, the city is working to create, preserve, and secure affordable housing for New Yorkers. Last week, we announced a breakthrough.

In each of our first years in office, we have had the honor of working on a deal that achieves something many dream of but too rarely comes true: a rent reduction for tenants. Over the past several months, we have been involved in negotiations with Waterside Plaza ownership, the Waterside Tenants Association (WTA), led by President Janet Handal, and the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) on an affordable housing preservation deal that does just that.

The proposed deal provides substantial relief for rent-burdened tenants, permanently freezes the rent in dozens of apartments, and preserves affordable housing on a generational scale through 2098. The guaranteed 75 years of rent protections for hundreds of apartments combined with the immediate relief to tenants whose rent has been steadily increasing demonstrate a groundbreaking model for affordable housing in New York City.

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July 4th celebrated at Waterside

yellow bursts

Waterside residents gather outside for a closeup view of the fireworks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Last week’s holiday came at the end of a heatwave that threatened a downpour, but the occasional raindrops didn’t dampen the lively party at Waterside Plaza for the July 4th holiday last Wednesday.

As always, after the sunset, hundreds if not thousands of people headed outside for a front-row seat to the Macy’s fireworks display.

In the hours leading up to the show, residents as well as local elected officials shared hot dogs and hamburgers on the plaza. Local politicians in attendance were reflective on the American experience, particularly of immigrants, because of the recent changes in immigration policy that resulted in children being separated from their parents at the country’s southern border.

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Rents will go up by 1.5, 2.5 percent

Tenants protest the dearth and death of affordable housing at the final vote of the Rent Guidelines Board. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Rent Guidelines Board approved 1.5 and 2.5 percent increases for rent-stabilized tenants in the board’s final vote at Cooper Union’s Great Hall last Tuesday evening. The event attracted the usual crowd of chanting tenants, most calling for a rent freeze at the vote and pre-event rally and some even hoping for a rollback, but the increases proposed by RGB chair Kathleen Roberts passed in a narrow 5 to 4 vote.

While the annual vote usually ends with a proposal that is a compromise between high increases from the board’s landlord representatives and low increases, or often a rent freeze, from the tenant representatives, a public member voted differently than members in the same position have in the past.

Rodrigo Camarena, who Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed this year, voted with the tenant representatives for a rent freeze while the other public members, as well as the owner members and the chair, voted against the measure.

“For the vulnerable, for the displaced, for fairness, I vote yes,” Camarena said when casting his vote.

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Hoylman and Epstein call for more transparency in real estate lending

State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein at a rally on Sunday, held in front of a Jared Kushner-owned property on East 12th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein hosted a rally in the East Village on Sunday to slam local predatory landlords and to announce a bill calling for more transparency in real estate lending.

The rally was held in front of a building owned by presidential son-in-law and accused slumlord Jared Kushner, Westminster City Living at 504 East 12th Street.

At the event, the elected officials announced the joint legislation that will direct the New York State Department of Financial Services to collect data on financial institutions lending to landlords acquiring property that include rent-stabilized tenants and investigate the role financial institutions play in encouraging anti-tenant practices.

The legislation argues that predatory equity has destabilized rent regulation and the affordable housing market in the city. The practice of predatory equity involves landlords acquiring rent-regulated properties with low to moderate-income tenants through highly speculative loans and then attempting to harass those tenants out to replace them with those who’ll pay market rent.

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