Ebola doc goes home

Mayor de Blasio applauded the work of both Dr Spencer in Africa and the Bellevue medics (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Mayor de Blasio applauded the work of both Dr Spencer in Africa and the Bellevue medics (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mayor Bill de Blasio was at Bellevue Hospital as Dr. Craig Spencer, New York City’s first and only case of Ebola, was discharged on Tuesday morning.

“Dr. Spencer is Ebola free and New York is Ebola free,” the mayor announced at the news conference, attended by Spencer, his parents and the team of doctors and nurses who were responsible for his care.

Mayor de Blasio emphasized the importance of the work that Spencer had been doing in Guinea before he returned to New York. “It’s a good feeling to hug a hero, and he is a hero,” the mayor said.

Dr. Ram Raju, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), echoed this sentiment.

“I’m elated because we could treat and cure a hero and Dr. Spencer personified this,” he said. “Had he not contracted Ebola, few people would ever have known him and there are many more like him. They are the heroes of our time.”

Spencer, in turn, tried to bring the focus away from himself and back to the efforts in West Africa where doctors are still fighting the virus.

“My infection represents but a fraction of the more than 13,000 reported cases to date in West Africa,” he said, recounting the sadness he felt when holding infected children and the joy he felt when patients were cured. “I will not be commenting publicly beyond this and urge you to focus on the source of the outbreak.”

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TA: Yes, we’re still trying to go condo

Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg, pictured at a June rally (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Nearly four months after Stuyvesant Town tenants rallied on the steps of City Hall to demand a seat at the table and continued affordability in the event of a sale, the ST-PCV Tenants Association said on Monday that Mayor de Blasio has still not taken a position on the TA’s condo conversion plan. However, the TA said that it still believes its non-eviction plan is the best way to preserve affordability at ST/PCV and tenant protections and is still hoping to sway the mayor.

This was mentioned as one of several points in a notice the Tenants Association put online on its website on Monday. While there was nothing new regarding the ongoing talks with the mayor’s office, which are aimed at preserving affordability at roughly 6,000 apartments, Susan Steinberg, chair of the Tenants Association said the TA just wanted to let tenants know the effort is still ongoing.

“It takes so long for anything to happen,” said Steinberg, “and when things are slow we want to make sure people understand that it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.”

The notice follows many letters in this newspaper as well as countless comments made by tenants via blogs and social media speculating as to whether a conversion will ever take place and if it would even be able to pave the way for a return to stability in the community.
At this time, the TA admitted that there are still more questions than answers on the subject, and that its attorneys were also helping to explore alternative ideas.

Meanwhile, the TA noted its hope that CW and the city will “define the level and method of long-term affordability, including a potential conversion — before ST/PCV goes up for sale.”

“What we would define as affordable would depend to some degree on median income, what is considered middle class,” Steinberg said. “Three thousand for a one-bedroom, five thousand for a two bedroom is not affordable. I’m of the mind that affordable is not market rate, so a fireman could live here, a nurse could live here, a teacher could live here. Not five students crammed into a one-bedroom apartment.”

Reps for the mayor have previously said tax incentives or subsidies were a possible solution to keep affordable apartments affordable while also admitting there’s no turning back the clock for “Roberts” tenants and others paying the higher rents.

The TA also said in its release that it didn’t expect the recently filed litigation by Stuy Town’s lenders, represented by the hedge fund Centerbridge, to affect a sale other than possibly by slowing it down.

“We believe that Centerbridge is interested only in winning money damages from CW and not in owning the property,” the TA said. The TA also noted how in a recent report, CWCapital indicated that it would likely begin to “evaluate disposition alternatives toward the end of 2014/2015, subject to the ongoing litigation.”

Meanwhile, the TA realizes that in the event of a sale, Stuy Town will likely have other suitors besides the TA.

“I think that 80 acres in Manhattan is a magnet for probably all of the big name developers,” said Steinberg. “I’m sure all the big names in real estate are just eyeballing us.”

This week, Garodnick said he’s remained in frequent contact with de Blasio’s office as the financials of the property are examined.

“I am encouraged that the mayor is as engaged as he is,” said Garodnick. But, he added, “It is still very early in the process towards a resolution.”

De Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell, who confirmed the mayor hadn’t taken a position on a condo conversion, also said while the “good faith discussions” were ongoing, CW has said it wouldn’t take any action with regards to a sale.

A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment on the talks.

ST resident voters wanted change from Bloomberg era

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, pictured in Stuyvesant Town in August, was elected mayor. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, pictured in Stuyvesant Town in August, was elected mayor. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

New Yorkers elected a new mayor for the first time in 12 years this past Tuesday and for the first time in over 20 years, made a Democrat the city’s leader. The New York Times called the election for Democrat Bill de Blasio based only on exit poll data because the margin was so wide. According to the unofficial results from the Board of Elections, the city’s current public advocate received 73.34 percent of the vote and Republican Joe Lhota received 24.27 percent.

Current Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also enjoyed a landslide victory in the city comptroller race, getting about 80.53 percent of the vote. His Republican challenger, Wall Streeter John Burnett, got only 16.63 percent.

Locally, City Council Member Dan Garodnick was able to retain his seat with 70.25 percent of the vote over Republican newcomer Helene Jnane, who got 29.75 percent.

At the polls, some voters felt it was important to vote because of issues such as tenants’ rights.

“It’s always about that,” one Stuyvesant Town resident who didn’t want to be named said after voting at the community center. “Without tenants’ rights, we can’t live here. Your vote always comes down to where you live.”

A number of residents, however, were motivated to cast their ballots because of Bloomberg fatigue.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, shown with son Asher at his polling place in Peter Cooper, was reelected. (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

Council Member Dan Garodnick, shown with son Asher at his polling place in Peter Cooper, was reelected. (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

“I’m so done with 12 years of Bloomberg,” said Lisa Baum, a Stuyvesant Town resident. “He’s done a lot of damage to our city. This isn’t the city that we had before he came into office. I’m raising a child and there is more homelessness in the city now. She sees that, she sees the homelessness.”

Mary, a Peter Cooper Village resident who declined to give her last name, said she was hoping for a Democrat in the mayor’s office after more than a decade of Bloomberg. “He wants more tourists in the city,” she said. “He cares more about tourists than he does about citizens.”

Mary Garvey, a Stuyvesant Town resident and a teacher, said that she is hoping for changes in education as well as changes in general. “New York is a very wealthy city,” she said. “But we need to think about all the people, not just the wealthy.”

The Board of Elections approved a decision in mid-October to use six-point font on the ballots for this election and a number of elected officials have come out against this move because it makes the ballots more difficult for voters to read.

“Voters have a right to clear, readable ballots,” Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh said. “Shrinking the words to a minuscule six-point font is simply not acceptable. We have legislation that would make this impermissible — and would make it easier for boards of elections to design ballots that are clearer in a variety of ways — but it shouldn’t take an act of the legislature to make sure people with reasonably good eyesight can actually read the names of the people they’re voting for.”

One poll worker stationed in the site at 360 First Avenue said that voters were making complaints about how difficult the ballot was to read all morning. Garvey, who voted at the community center polling site, said that she didn’t have too much trouble reading the ballot, but she worried that seniors might. “The proposals are a very important part of voting and the font for those is so small,” she said.

As with elections in the past, redistricting in the neighborhood has shuffled polling sites around, sometimes leaving residents confused about where they were supposed to vote.

Madge Stager, a Stuyvesant Town resident who voted at the community center, said that it took her 20 minutes to figure out where she was supposed to go because she went to her regular polling place and only then discovered that the site had changed. She ultimately figured out that she was supposed to vote in the community center at 449 East 14th Street but said that she never received any notice about a change, and the site coordinator at the community center, Donna Canton, said that polling places have been changing frequently.

“They redistricted again after last year’s general election and they shouldn’t be doing that,” Canton said. “My polling site last year was 283 Avenue C and now it’s 10 Stuyvesant Oval, and even one of my neighbors in my building has a different poll site.”

Other than these few hiccups, poll workers said that everything was going relatively smoothly on Tuesday morning. They noted that voter turnout was heavy and the residents that came out were more than happy to do their civic duty.

“I’m glad to vote,” Garvey said. “It’s a moment of optimism. Voting always makes me very emotional.”

Editorial: Town & Village endorses de Blasio for mayor, Garodnick for Council

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio

In September, Town & Village endorsed Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for mayor, because we believed out of all the candidates in that cluttered ballot, he was the best hope for the middle class in this city, in particular the city’s tenant population, because he would be the most effective fighter. At this time, with de Blasio set to face off against Joe Lhota, we still believe that to be true.

We do not however believe the fear mongering arguments by Lhota that if de Blasio is elected, New York City will return to the bad old days of muggers and squeegee men ruling the streets. This is simply the kind of mud slinging that reads as desperate as Lhota’s numbers in the polls continue to show that the residents of this city are in deed ready for change after 12 years of the same Republican mayor. We also don’t buy Lhota’s blasting of de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” shtick as being divisive, because that kind of division doesn’t need to be manufactured; it’s long been felt by people who have for some time been living in fear of being priced out of this city as the mayor has taken a mostly hands-off approach to matters like disappearing rent regulated housing and salaries that just haven’t kept pace with rising housing costs, including the yearly increases approved by the Rent Guidelines Board.

While Lhota has said he was committed to building new housing by offering tax incentives, de Blasio has been a lot more specific in his promises to build more of the affordable kind of housing and in protecting the existing stock of it by having City Hall work with (or put pressure on) the governor to get results in Albany on local housing laws. In an op-ed in this newspaper, he discussed the community of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in particular, noting that, “It’s the responsibility of the city to ensure that these homes and other affordability housing are never beyond the reach of middle class New Yorkers.”

Lhota believes de Blasio to be an all-talk-and-no-action kind of candidate, but as with any election, all voters can do, whether they support de Blasio or Lhota, is decide whether their campaigns seem credible. In Lhota’s case, his platform is built around admittedly worthy goals of job creation in fields like bio-tech and science and also helping the economy by encouraging more tourism. However, when it comes to affordable housing, his only real plan is to review how taxes are charged to property owners. This won’t necessarily lead to lower costs for owners or tenants.

Interestingly, although de Blasio’s accepted plenty of real estate campaign cash (as Lhota’s been quick to correctly point out) the Democratic candidate still won the primary. This was in all likelihood based on the big promises he has made to the middle class and voters will be watching to see if and how he intends to make good on those promises if he can pull it off again and win the general election on November 5. That said, we hope he does. De Blasio has our endorsement for mayor.

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Oct. 24 Week In Review

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal introduced legislation last year that would protect rent-regulated tenants filing for bankruptcy protection and would prevent a landlord from buying a rent-regulated tenant’s lease at a discounted price to satisfy a portion of the tenant’s debt in bankruptcy. In a recent trend, bankruptcy courts have been allowing bankruptcy trustees to count the value of a rent-regulated lease as an asset when the tenant files for bankruptcy.
The state provides an exemption for homeowners filing for bankruptcy so that they will not lose their homes and the intent of bankruptcy is not to destabilize families by making them homeless and the same should be true for rent-regulated tenants, Rosenthal argued, because their apartments are just as much of a home as a house or other owned property.
“Filing for bankruptcy won’t land you in debtor’s prison anymore, but if you’re a rent-regulated tenant, it could make you homeless, and that’s simply unfair,” Rosenthal said. “That’s why I introduced legislation to ensure that rent-regulated tenants are afforded the same protections as homeowners when filing for bankruptcy.”

A flood wall will soon be built to protect the VA Medical Center from future storms. (Rendering courtesy of VA Medical Center)

A flood wall will soon be built to protect the VA Medical Center from future storms. (Rendering courtesy of VA Medical Center)

There will soon be a temporary flood wall around the VA’s Manhattan Campus on East 23rd Street, the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System announced on Tuesday. The temporary wall will extend from Asser Levy Place, partially up East 23rd Street and to East 25th Street. The eight-foot flood wall, made of cellular structures filled with sand, is expected to take about six weeks to complete construction. Construction of a higher, more permanent wall to protect from future storms potentially stronger than Hurricane Sandy will be built over an 18-month period. The VA was closed for many months following Hurricane Sandy, opening partially in March and then fully over the summer.

Asser Levy Place will also be closed to traffic beginning October 28 in anticipation of a new park that will be in its place. The expansion of the park is due to funding from City Councilmember Dan Garodnick and the United Nations Development Corporation. Work is expected to be completed on the project within a year.
“Open space is sorely needed on the East Side of Manhattan, and this expansion will ultimately mean more open space not only at Asser Levy, but also for the whole East Side waterfront,” Garodnick said. “This is the first step in a plan that will increase the amount of active space East Siders get, and at no cost to the City.”

With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy coming up next week, Con Edison has made numerous improvements to its energy-delivery systems as part of its plan to strengthen critical infrastructure and protect residents from major storms. The overhead equipment is now more resilient, substations have new walls and raised equipment and gas and steam infrastructure is protected with water-proofing measures. The next steps for post-Hurricane Sandy plans throughout the next few years include burying 30 miles of overhead lines, installing stronger aerial cable, redesigning lower Manhattan networks to de-energize customers in flood zones and replacing cast iron and steel gas pipes in flood-prone areas.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a number of New York chefs and restaurants have taken the “Pride of New York Pledge” to support New York State’s agricultural products and local foods, increasing their usage by 10 percent or more. The program is designed to encourage the local culinary industry to take advantage of the food and beverage products that the state has to offer. A number of local restaurants will be participating, including Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe, Maialino and Blue Smoke.

The New York Daily News reported last Saturday that Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is a supporter of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on big sodas. “I’m not ever afraid to disagree with Mayor Bloomberg when I think he’s wrong. But I believe the mayor is right on this issue,” de Blasio said. “We are losing the war on obesity. It’s unacceptable. This is a case where we have to get aggressive.”

The Downtown Manhattan exit ramp will be closed for the weekend beginning on Friday at 7 p.m. Motorists are advised to use an alternate route into Manhattan and to expect delays. There will also be one tube closed for the weekend at the Queens Midtown Tunnel, beginning this Saturday at 1 a.m., through 5 a.m. next Monday, due to necessary construction.

Bill de Blasio failed to report the tens of thousands of dollars in income from renting out his second Brooklyn home in his Conflict of Interest Board filing, Crain’s New York Business reported on Monday. A campaign spokesperson told Crain’s that the rental proceeds didn’t need to be reported to the conflicts board because there was no net income, but the city’s administrative code says that lawmakers need to report any income of $1,000 or more from each source during the previous calendar year.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, chair of the Commission on Government Administration, co-hosted a roundtable discussion on cloud computing in government last Tuesday. Cloud computing technology creates opportunities to improve coordination and efficiency of government resources, as well as reshape the state government’s interactions with the general public, such as how the public can access important information. Kavanagh will also be hosting a roundtable discussion on open data next Tuesday.

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

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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.

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Residents unsure who to vote for

Undecided republican voters Aaron and Dorothy Wilkinson Photo by Sabina Mollot

Undecided republican voters Aaron and Dorothy Wilkinson
Photo by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

The primary for the mayoral election as well as other citywide positions is right around the corner, but in Peter Cooper Village (always an area with impressive voter turnout), residents are still saying they don’t know who they’ll be voting for.

A Town & Village reporter cornered people who were minding their own business, sitting out on the benches this week, to ask about who they think they’ll choose. In response, all those interviewed said they had no idea or were still on the fence about a couple of candidates. Most also seemed unimpressed by the current crop of candidates running for mayor.

One senior couple, Paul and Gerry Singer, said they’d been following news about the upcoming primary to some degree. However, due to their having just moved to PCV from Nassau County, were at this time ineligible to vote.

Still, Gerry said she was torn between current frontrunners Public Advocate Bill De Blasio and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“I like what they have to say,” she said. “Whether it’s true or not I won’t find out unfortunately until after one of them is elected.”

“It’s very hard to choose,” said Paul. The candidates “will say, ‘We’re going to stop stop-and-frisk, but they don’t say how. They make a lot of statements and they expect you to trust them upfront.”

Frances Jivekian, who worked in catering until retiring recently, said, “I’d vote for Bloomberg if he was running again.” That said, she was not a big fan of the bike lanes he instituted, blasting the one on First Avenue as dangerous. As for the current candidates, “I’m still undecided, but I will probably vote for Quinn,” said Jivekian. “She’s my favorite. I like the woman and I’m a democrat. I don’t like that other guy, that big guy,” she said in reference to the towering de Blasio.

Pal Brenda Satzman, who until recently worked in floral design, said she isn’t going to be voting. She normally doesn’t vote in mayoral or gubernatorial races anyway, “unless there’s a character I’m interested in. I know the issues are very important but who’s going to be listening to those issues?”

She, too, said she likes the current mayor but said none of the current candidates stands out for her.

Heidi Clever, who works in the fashion industry, said education is a deciding issue for her when voting. At this time, she’s torn between de Blasio and Quinn.

Quinn, who has recently proposed opening five new technology/science schools for girls, has, through the Council, expanded pre-K by 10,000 seats and made kindergarten mandatory.

De Blasio wants to create universal pre-k, create after school programs for middle schoolers and also supports the expansion of tech education.

“I’m not sure how they’re going to deliver though so I want to do more research and I haven’t had a chance to do that yet,” said Clever. “I have a son in school so school (is the issue) for me.”

Clever’s friend Jacqueline Farmer said she was also considering de Blasio or Quinn, and that she too has school aged kids, 10 and 18.

“So that’s big for me,” said Farmer, also a full-time student herself at CUNY Hunter, studying English and political science. Farmer said she likes that De Blasio wants to put more money into CUNY (financed by taking tax subsidies away from big companies). She also likes the candidate because of his interracial marriage and family. “I’m mixed and I think he would be understanding about minorities,” she said.

However, Farmer is also still leaning towards Quinn, because, “I’m a part-time feminist and I like that she’s a woman and she exposes her flaws. She doesn’t hide anything.”

Married couple Aaron and Dorothy Wilkinson said they were die-hard voters and voted whenever they could in a primary, being republicans. Both said they thought Bloomberg had done a good job but didn’t seem to have anything to say about the Republicans currently on the ballot.

“I’ll probably go for the one the Times endorsed, but I don’t remember his name,” Aaron, an engineer, admitted.

Dorothy, a retired teacher who taught at School “47”, agreed, saying she and Aaron always vote the same way. (For reference, the Times endorsed former MTA head Joe Lhota for the Republican side.)

Aaron also indicated he doesn’t care for de Blasio, due to his plan to fund pre-k seats by taxing the wealthy.

“He says he’s going to tax the rich, but he doesn’t define rich,” Aaron said, adding, “You betcha” when asked if he was concerned personally about a possible tax hike. (Reports have said this would mean New Yorkers earning over $500,000.)

Karl Guerie, a photographer who also does administrative work at the V.A. Medical Center, said, “I’m still debating.

“To be honest no one really stands out for me, so that’s why I’ll be waiting until the last minute to decide,” he said. “There’s nothing fresh, nothing new. There are different things they’re talking about but not enough to define the individuals. One person may be talking about stop-and-frisk. Someone else will say where they stand on housing. I believe it should be a complete package, but if that’s what you want, you may not end up voting at all. Sometimes it’s the lesser of the evils.”

Guerie added he will try to consider the city’s population at large when choosing. “When people say, ‘Who’s good for me?,’ it makes things difficult. I’d like to believe it’s bigger than me, the individual. Because what happens to all the people whose voices aren’t heard?”

Helen Sanders, a retiree and mom to former Assembly Member Steven Sanders, a Democrat who represented Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town for 28 years, said she too doesn’t know yet who she’ll be voting for.

“Right now no, I’m still deciding,” she said, adding that her son, now a lobbyist in Albany, doesn’t try to nudge her towards one candidate or another. But she said she will be voting. “Oh yes,” said Sanders. “I always vote.”

 

 

 

Our choice: De Blasio for mayor

Bill de Blasio (center) in Stuy Town with TenantsPAC Board Member Anderson Fils-Aime, Treasurer Mike McKee, Board Member (and ST-PCV Tenants Association President) John Marsh and Tenants Association Board Member Margaret Salacan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bill de Blasio (center) in Stuy Town with TenantsPAC Board Member Anderson Fils-Aime, Treasurer Mike McKee, Board Member (and ST-PCV Tenants Association President) John Marsh and Tenants Association Board Member Margaret Salacan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

With Mike Bloomberg soon to end a 12-year reign as mayor, New Yorkers will have an incredibly important decision to make in the general election in November, but perhaps even more so in the September 10 primary.

This particular mayoral race is so cluttered it’s become hard to decipher one candidate’s rhetoric from the next at times, and following the candidacy of Anthony Weiner, it’s been hard to take much of it seriously. Still, we hope that voters won’t be so turned off that they won’t show up at the polls, especially if they care about issues like affordable housing. And if they do, we believe that the best choice for mayor, on the Democrat side, is Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

A month ago, de Blasio, making a campaign stop in Stuyvesant Town, was endorsed by TenantsPAC, and with good reason. While his “tale of two cities” tagline is getting mocked at this point, Manhattanites living in luxury housing simply because they didn’t have the option of moving into regular working joe housing, know that there is absolute truth to de Blasio’s (and a few other candidates’ talk) about the disappearing middle class.

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Op-Ed: De Blasio: City has an obligation to ST/PCV

In a press conference proudly accepting the Tenants PAC endorsement last week, I expressed my deeply-held belief that, while Peter Cooper Village-Stuyvesant Town is privately owned, the city has an obligation to keep its homes affordable for hardworking New Yorkers and their families.

PCV/ST was created through the power of the city and its use of eminent domain – therefore, it’s the responsibility of the city to ensure that these homes and other affordability housing are never beyond the reach of middle class New Yorkers.

This community and others like it are precious and rare assets in New York.

That is why I believe the next mayor should play a key role in helping to foster the next generation of affordable housing — in PCV/ST and around the city — while also tackling concerns of current residents.
Tenants at Stuy Town have lived in limbo for too long and deserve a say in the future of their community.

Residents need stability in their lives again, not endless speculation by real estate developers who are only concerned about their bottom line.  PCV/ ST needs to be preserved as a community where middle class New Yorkers can afford to live and raise their families, and as mayor I will work to make sure that this community and other affordable housing units are protected and preserved.

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.”

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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.

Reminder: Tenants Association hosting mayoral forum tonight

May30 signThe major candidates for mayor have accepted the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association’s invitation to be part of a forum on the evening of June 26th at Simon Baruch IS 104, East 20th between First and Second Avenues. The audience will have an opportunity to learn first hand the candidates’ positions on a variety of issues, not the least of which is the matter of affordable housing.
All of the major mayoral candidates were invited and those who confirmed were Sal Albanese, Adolfo Carrion, John Catsimitidis, Bill de Blasio, Joe Lhota, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thopmson and Anthony Weiner.
The four candidates for public advocate were also invited to the event. The public advocate candidates are: Cathy Guerrero, Letitia James, Reshma Saujani and Daniel Squadron.
The meeting will be held from 7-9 pm. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6 p.m

Effort to protest mid-lease rent increases continues

May30 sign

The ST-PCV Tenants Association’s signs, like the one pictured, have been popping up at local stores.

By Sabina Mollot

Two weeks after CWCapital announced that mid-lease rent hikes would be issued to around 1,300 residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, the Tenants Association and local elected officials are still hoping to get the special servicer to change its mind.

On Tuesday, several East Side elected officials asked Andrew MacArthur, vice president of CWCapital Asset Management, for a sit-down aimed at “holding off on any increases until leases expire.” The request was made via letter signed by State Senator Charles Schumer, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, Council Member Dan Garodnick, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Borough President Scott Stringer.

In the letter, the pols noted that leasing agents had been telling renters that it was highly unlikely CW would raise rents mid-lease.

“Since there is regular sharing of information within the community, it is very likely that many more residents believed they would be free of rent hikes mid-term,” they wrote.

The Tenants Association also continued to encourage neighbors to picket outside the leasing office. Though initially the intent was to have “sustained” protesting outside, the association was unable to have a continued presence mid-week, and has instead, since early this week, been focused on a flyer door dropoff campaign. Additionally, John Marsh, the president of the TA, said another plan has been to approach local businesses to ask if they’d agree to keep protest signs and flyers on sight. That way residents could drop by, pick up flyers, protest and then return the sign.

“Even if they can only give a half hour, if we can get 500 people to do a half hour, we’d be fully covered,” said Marsh. “To make it meaningful, you have to have a sustained effort, so now we have self-service protests.”

One volunteer, who didn’t want his name used, mentioned that he and his wife had already gotten a bunch of local retailers to participate. Those include Adam’s Deli and the Associated supermarket on East 14th Street and Duane Reade, CVS, Zeichner’s, Ess-A-Bagel and Nature’s First Pharmacy, Frank’s Trattoria, Duro Carpet and Johnny Mozzarella on First Avenue. The volunteer added that he was one of a handful of tenants who’d picketed over Memorial Day weekend, scaring off a few potential renters with tales of bedbugs and mid-lease rent hikes.

CWCapital increased the rents following the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” settlement. Fine print in the leases had mentioned the rents could be raised, even mid-lease.

As reported by T&V last week, tenants had protested in front of the leasing office to tell prospective renters about the mid-lease increases as well as other problems such as continued lack of basic services in Sandy-battered buildings. Management responded by having leasing agents meet clients in the back of the leasing office or at the model apartments.

Additionally, in a newsletter emailed to residents last Wednesday, CWCapital said,

“In accordance with certain residents’ leases and in accordance with the court order approving the settlement agreement, some residents have received a rent adjustment. Some rents have gone down and some rents have gone up. If your rent has been adjusted, you already received a notice on May 14th.  

“We respect the fact that adjusting rents mid-lease term is disruptive and can be confusing… We look forward to resolving these last uncertainties and restoring stability to our community.”

In related news, since Tuesday, the Tenants Association has also been hearing from residents who received unusually high June rent bills. Those were not the same tenants who received the mid-lease increases, who’ve all been members of the “Roberts” class action, but tenants living in “Roberts” affected apartments, said Marsh.

However, according to a CW spokesperson, this turned out to be a clerical error. There was no comment on the continued effort to overturn the mid-lease increases.

In other news, residents have also been concerned about CW’s recently begun campaign to inspect all apartments for “unsafe conditions, unregistered dogs and compliance with the 80 percent carpet rule.” Tenants have told Town & Village via Facebook that in some instances, inspectors have looked inside their closets and Marsh said he’s heard the same, “which is disconcerting.”

In light of the recent spate of no-forced-entry burglaries, the TA has advised residents to comply with the inspections but make sure they can be present.

Marsh said the TA was successful in getting management to agree to take requests for appointments for an inspection via email. Previously it had only been by phone, which Marsh said concerned some tenants who weren’t sure there would be follow-through after leaving a message. The notice period may also be getting extended to 7-10 days.

This article was updated from the print version to include a response from CWCapital on the June rent bills.