See Dan run for mayor… maybe

sept29-garodnick-in-st

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For months now, Councilman Dan Garodnick would only say he’s exploring his options when asked what position he’s now fundraising for. But according to a Saturday item in the New York Post, Garodnick is “seriously considering” running for mayor. Citing unnamed sources, the paper said he is “50-50” about running. Garodnick didn’t return our call requesting comment, nor did Waterside Plaza owner/former lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch, who the Post said Garodnick had spoken to about his thoughts about running. In February, Politico also ran a story about how he’d been speaking with donors, consultants and others about possibly throwing his hat in the ring.

It’s been expected that Comptroller Scott Stringer will run for mayor at some point, when and if charges are brought against Mayor Bill de Blasio for his fundraising tactics. Former mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has also been a rumored candidate. However, at this time, de Blasio’s most serious opponent seems to be Republican developer Paul Massey.

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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.”

 

 

 

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

Tenants outraged as RGB votes to raise rents by 4 and 7.75 percent

Tenants sit, holding signs calling for a rent freeze, at the vote of the Rent Guidelines Board.
Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Thursday night, the city’s rent-stabilized tenants learned that their rents would be going up 4 percent on one-year leases and 7.75 percent on two-year leases.

The hikes are significantly higher than last year’s, 2 and 4 percent for one and two-year leases, respectively, though the Rent Guidelines Board Board’s preliminary votes could have allowed for increases as high as 9.5 percent for two-year leases.

As they do every year for the RGB vote, tenants came out to the meeting in full-force, often shouting over the two owner members on the board who wanted to implement the maximum increases.

Jimmy McMillan, of the “Rent is Too Damn High” party and mutton-chop fame, was one of the few people who stayed outside during the meeting, but that didn’t make him any less dedicated to the cause.

“I’m gonna do my next video butt naked. All my clothes money went to rent,” he said after learning about the results of the final vote.

One of the two tenant members, Harvey Epstein, offered the first proposal of the meeting, calling for a rent freeze. “Tenants are struggling. Unemployment and eviction continue to rise. It’s a direct contrast as the net operating income of landlords continues to grow,” he said. “Landlords can apply for hardship increases and not one landlord applied in 2012. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of tenants applied for DRIE and SCRIE benefits. Many tenants came and gave testimony saying that they have to make the decision between paying rent and paying expenses.”

As the board voted to reject the proposal, audience members yelled out in reference to the board’s public

Jimmy "The Rent is Too Damn High" McMillan says his next video will be done "butt naked" since his clothing budget will now need to be spent on rent. Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan says his next video will be done “butt naked” since his clothing budget will now need to be spent on rent.
Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

members, “You don’t represent us at all! This is a farce!”

Owner member Steven Schleider proposed a 6.25 percent increase for one-year leases and a 9.5 percent increase for two-year leases, as well as a 5 percent vacancy allowance and a 10 percent sublet allowance. Epstein voted a vehement “absolutely not.” In defense of the proposal, Schleider said that housing in the city is “generally affordable,” which was greeted by yelling and boos from the tenants.

“Tenant subsidies are available through SCRIE and DRIE,” Schleider continued, attempting to talk over the crowd’s jeering. “No board member denies that tenants are struggling (…) but we don’t have the power to address it. Operating costs are understated and buildings are more expensive to operate every year. The vast majority of landlords need the increases.”

Tenant member Brian Cheigh then submitted a second proposal, countering with a 3.25 percent increase for one-year leases and a five percent increase for two-year leases. All the members except Cheigh voted against this proposal and the owners didn’t submit a second proposal after this. RGB Chair Jonathan Kimmel then submitted the proposal that finally passed with a vote of five to four.

“This vote impacts diverse households and these decision affect large sections of the city,” Kimmel said before the vote amid supportive cheers from owners and shouts of “RGB has got to go!” from tenants. “Many people will feel that the board has failed them but there are new costs that directly impact owners’ wallets. The public members try to balance the needs of the owners and the tenants.”

Epstein made a last appeal to the other board members before the final vote, saying that the proposed increases were well beyond what most rent stabilized tenants could pay. “Unemployment is still at nine percent,” he said. “With rent increases like this, it might as well be our job to evict low income tenants. We had public hearings and heard testimony from (rent stabilized tenants) but what we’re saying is that even though tenants came, their voices weren’t heard. Please vote no.”

Although the vote did not swing in the tenants’ favor, local elected officials and advocates are continuing to work towards changes in the system. Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Daniel Squadron are co-sponsoring legislation that would change the way the RGB members are appointed.

The legislation was passed in the Assembly earlier this week and is now pending in the Senate. If passed, it would ensure more scrutiny of the board members’ qualifications by requiring the advice and consent of City Council for all the appointees, who are chosen by the mayor. It would also expand the range of individuals who could be considered for appointment to include those who have experience with urban planning, public service, philanthropy, social sciences, architecture and social services.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who supports the legislation, was disappointed in the vote’s results. “The Rent Guidelines Board had an opportunity to protect tenants, an opportunity the Board squandered when they chose to subject New Yorkers to disruptive rent hikes instead,” she said. “The board must schedule hearings in all five boroughs next year and offer all New Yorkers an opportunity to stand up for the future of rent stabilized housing in New York City.”

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.