Powers and Rivera crush competition in primary

Unlike the sun, Council candidate Keith Powers was up bright and early, along with Council Member Dan Garodnick, to cast his vote in Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Chris Carroll)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Peter Cooper Village resident Keith Powers and Lower East Side resident Carlina Rivera each won their respective primary races for City Council on Tuesday, following major endorsements for the candidates in the days leading up to voting.

With about 93 percent of the votes counted on Wednesday morning, Powers was declared the winner in the District 4 race with 41.24 percent of the vote and Rivera won the primary for District 2 by a wide margin, receiving 60.76 percent of the vote.

Powers’ closest competitor, Upper East Sider Marti Speranza, received 22.78 percent of the vote. None of the other seven candidates received more than 10 percent of the vote but Rachel Honig and Bessie Schachter came the closest, receiving 8.59 and 8.26 respectively. Vanessa Aronson received 6.68 percent and Maria Castro got 4.74 percent of the vote. Peter Cooper Village resident Barry Shapiro received 2.10 percent and Alec Hartman got 1.04 percent.

Kips Bay resident Mary Silver was Rivera’s closest competitor but still only received 16.41 percent of the vote. Former Obama staffer Ronnie Cho received 8.5 percent of the vote, community organizer Jasmin Sanchez got 5 percent and attorney Jorge Vasquez received 7.58 percent. East Village resident Erin Hussein technically dropped out of the race prior to the election but still received 1.9 percent of the vote.

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Garodnick finally makes an endorsement for his Council seat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Town & Village endorsements for City Council, Districts 2, 4

Because of term limits, the City Council seats in Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez’s districts are now open for the first time in 12 years. In both cases, there will be big shoes to fill, and the competition has certainly reflected this.
For the editorial staff at Town & Village, to say coming to a decision on whom to endorse was difficult would be an understatement in the extreme. The choices were made after interviewing each candidate as well as asking them to answer a few additional questions this past week, and those answers are also running in this week’s issue so voters can learn more about how they stand on local issues.

District 2
For the District 2 race, Town & Village is endorsing Carlina Rivera. This wasn’t a simple conclusion to come to because the candidates in this race share so many of the same values and concerns. There is a universal understanding that the district is in immediate danger of losing its character, not to mention that it’s no longer a place too many would find affordable. Homelessness is getting worse. (District 4 is in the same boat on all these issues.) But all things being equal, we’re going with the individual who’s been, in our view, the most serious candidate. Additionally, her history of community activism and on the job training thanks to the work in the office she hopes to occupy, make her the natural fit. That said, to be clear, this is a democratic system, not a dynasty, so we’re not supporting Rivera because we believe whoever works for the current council member is automatically entitled to their seat next. But the experience is not a problem, either.

Before leaving Rosie Mendez’s office to become a full-time candidate, Rivera, then a legislative aide, helped work on the package of tenant safety and anti-harassment legislation that Mayor de Blasio just signed into law. These protections are a big game changer for renters. She is also a longtime member of Community Board 3, so it’s not like she even needs to be briefed on the issues of the community before rolling up her sleeves and getting to work.

Town & Village would also like to recognize Ronnie Cho, who we believe is a genuine and worthy candidate out of a field of seven would-be council members. Not only are his credentials impressive, having worked in public engagement for the Obama administration, we also like his creative thinking on affordable housing. He would like to tie new development to the funding of social and education programs.

District 4
For District 4, with 10 candidates to pick from, the choice was even harder, which is why in this case, even at this point in the race, we feel we can only help narrow down the field for voters. Our top two choices in this race are Marti Speranza and Keith Powers, with the theory here being that whoever voters choose, the district still wins. Here’s how we came to this conclusion.

Both candidates have similar experience giving them relevant knowledge as to how this job needs to be done. Along with having worked for former Assembly Member Jonathan Bing and State Senator Liz Krueger, Powers has also worked until recently as an executive in a consulting/lobbying firm owned by former Council Speaker Peter Vallone. Speranza’s no slouch either. She worked for the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs as well as the city’s Women Entrepreneurs (WE) NYC initiative, which helps women business owners in underserved communities, before becoming a full-time candidate. Both candidates have been presidents of local political clubs and both serve on a community board.

They both prioritize affordable housing and have plans on how to create more of it. They both want to keep small businesses open, with Speranza’s weapons of choice being the SBJSA and creating a legacy business registry and Powers’ plan being implementing a vacancy tax to de-incentivize warehousing and passing legislation to protect small businesses from steep rent increases.

This is simply an instance where we wish there were two jobs available instead of just one. Hopefully, whoever doesn’t win this primary will consider running for Brian Kavanagh’s Assembly seat if he’s successful in replacing Daniel Squadron in the Senate.

In other issues, they both want to push for more pre-K seats, reform the criminal justice system and focus on the environment.

The choice is yours. We hope we have at least helped a little.

T&V would also like to recognize these additional candidates running in the primary that have managed to stand out.

Rachel Honig got our attention when discussing the need for reform of how the City Council operates so hearings on legislation couldn’t be blocked by the speaker.

Then there’s Barry Shapiro, who isn’t afraid to call out his own party when dissecting the reasons tenants are routinely short-changed.

We were also impressed by Vanessa Aronson’s recognition of ST/PCV as a community with unique needs and Jeffrey Mailman’s knowledge of the issues through a legal lens.

Letters to the editor, Aug. 17

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Playgrounds should be monitored

Re: Editorial, “That’s some key (card),” T&V, Aug. 10

Dear Editor:

I agree with you that “more boots on the ground” are needed in Stuy Town/Cooper Village, but that should be a 24-hour a day situation. The playgrounds are not open in inclement weather, and in fair weather they are only open from 9:15 a.m. to dusk.

Let us not forget that this was the first and (perhaps) still only “private, gated community” in Manhattan. We have no lobby concierges, and the fact is that there are many “outsiders” walking into this supposedly private community from north, south, east and west of the development. Not all are here to see our beautiful gardens and fountains! Many residents bring guests in, and that is just fine, as long as they are guests and not intruders. In my opinion, those guard posts at all entrances that cost thousands of dollars to build and stand empty year after year, should be manned, especially between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

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Council committees support East Midtown Rezoning plan

Council Member Dan Garodnick discusses how current zoning egulations have stunted commercial growth in East Midtown. (Pictured) Assembly Member Dan Quart, Garodnick, Council Member David Greenfield, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, Council Member Dan Garodnick and a few other elected officials celebrated another step in bringing East Midtown rezoning closer to reality. Earlier in the day, a revised plan for rezoning, a project that’s been in the works since the Bloomberg administration, was approved by the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Sub-Committee. Later, the Land Use Committee would also give the plan its blessing as would the mayor. The full Council is expected to vote on the plan in August.

Takeaways of the plan include mandating that any developer looking to take advantage of building bigger and higher than what is currently allowed have 75 feet of building frontage. Any building that has more than 30,000 square feet must have open space accessible to the public, also known as POPS (privately owns public spaces). Additionally, before a building can even be occupied, the developer will have to first make an assigned infrastructural transit improvement in the district.

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Possible upgrades for 30th St. shelter

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks at a meeting aimed at coming up with ways to improve the men’s shelter. (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

By Sabina Mollot

The Department of Homeless Services is planning to make some upgrades to the dilapidated 30th Street men’s homeless shelter, possibly even turning an unused theater into a space for public use.

On Monday, July 17, representatives of the department met with a few representatives of Community Board 6 as well as a few elected officials to discuss ideas, including to create a co-working space where shelter residents can get job placement assistance and work on resumes. As for the theater, a possible plan would be to renovate it or even repurpose it and have it used by the shelter’s residents or the community. Outside the shelter, which is located inside the Bellevue Old Psych building on First Avenue, another idea was to create green spaces like a small park that could also be open to the public.

Following the brainstorming session, Council Member Dan Garodnick said ideas were based on what the shelter’s residents want as well as what the surrounding community wants.

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Sinkhole growing on bike lane at E. 23rd St.

Cyclists have been stopping short in front of this sinkhole, which was first reported to the city by Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal over two weeks ago. (Photos by Janet Handal)

By Sabina Mollot

Cyclists, beware.

A sinkhole that appeared earlier in the month has grown even larger as the ground continues to ripple on the bike lane at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive.

The sinkhole was reported to 311 on July 5 by Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, when she spotted it. But as of Wednesday, July 19 in the morning, it was still there, and, from what she’s observed, stretched into a yawning concrete chasm.

“A rapidly progressing collapse of the pedestrian-bike path in front of the 23rd Street Marina is happening and urgently needs to be attended to,” Handal said in an email.

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Quik Park to refund customers $60 for no-notice increases

Quik Park operates garages in Stuyvesant Town.  (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town garage customers who were given a rent increase earlier this year without any notice can expect to see their money refunded.

The refunds of $60 will be paid in the form of credits to customer accounts in September, following the garages’ parent company, Citizens Icon Holdings, agreeing to pay a $1.2 million settlement. The settlement was announced by the Department of Consumer Affairs last Wednesday.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who’d alerted the DCA to the increases after becoming concerned they were invalid due to the lack of notice, said he felt it was necessary to go through the enforcement authorities in order to get results from Citizens Icon, which runs Icon and Quik Park garages.

The $1.2 million is to be spread around its customer base in various garages around the city, since, according to Garodnick, “They were doing different sorts of things in different garages.”

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Town & Village co-hosts City Council debate at Waterside Plaza

Attendees at the debate Thursday evening (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

All eleven candidates in the District 4 City Council race gathered at Waterside Plaza on Thursday evening for a debate co-sponsored by Town & Village, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management, covering issues important to the neighborhood.

Democrats Alec Hartman, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson, Maria Castro, Bessie Schachter and Barry Shapiro and Republicans Melissa Jane (MJ) Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary discussed affordable housing, concerns for seniors, the fate of small businesses and the sanitation garage planned for the neighborhood over the course of the two-hour debate. WTA President Janet Handal and T&V editor Sabina Mollot moderated the event, each asking two questions of the nine Democrats and two Republicans on the stage, who are running to replace term-limited Councilmember Dan Garodnick.

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All candidates set to attend T&V/Waterside Council debate

Democrats Alec Hartman, Bessie Schachter, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson and Barry Shapiro and Republicans Melissa Jane Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary (Not pictured) Maria Castro

Town & Village has partnered with the Waterside Tenants Association and the management of Waterside Plaza to present an evening of debate between the candidates running for the City Council, District 4. The event will be held on Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m. for mingling with the candidates, with the debate beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. This has become a hotly contested race with 11 candidates hoping to win the seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick. All known registered candidates of both parties have been invited and have confirmed they’ll attend.

The candidates are Democrats Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Jeffrey Mailman, Bessie Schachter, Vanessa Aronson, Rachel Honig, Alec Hartman, Barry Shapiro and Maria Castro as well as Republicans Rebecca Harary and Melissa Jane Kronfeld.

The event will take place outdoors on the Plaza level with Janet Handal, the president of the Waterside Tenants Association, and Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot asking the candidates questions. Due to the number of candidates expected to participate, there will not likely be any time for additional questions from the audience.

If it rains, the event will take place inside 15 Waterside Plaza located on the Plaza. Waterside Plaza is east of the FDR Drive on the East River between 25th and 29th Streets. For directions, visit Waterside Plaza’s website. For more information about the event, contact Sabina Mollot at (212) 777-6611 x104 or editor@townvillage.net.

PCV woman abandons bid for City Council

Diane Grayson (Photo by Emmanuel Moline)

By Sabina Mollot

Diane Grayson, a Peter Cooper Village woman who’d been running for the City Council seat to be vacated next year by Dan Garodnick, has withdrawn from the race.

Reached recently by Town & Village, Grayson explained that she dropped out because she felt the current crop of candidates “represents the interests of the district.”

Grayson, 27, had been running as an Independent who’d promised to spend $50,000 of her own salary, if elected, on some sort of community program or service. Her platform focused on affordable housing and help for small businesses.

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Pols urging left-leaning NYers to become activists

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman with State Senator Liz Krueger (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local elected officials are urging left-leaning New Yorkers to become political activists, saying there’s been a surge in citizen activism around the country since President Trump took office.

The push was made at an event last Wednesday evening, hosted by State Senator Liz Krueger and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman with an introduction by City Councilmember Dan Garodnick. Garodnick has previously hosted other so-called “State of the Resistance” forums, which offer information about how to get involved in local politics and with non-profit organizations around the city. More than 300 residents attended last week’s event, hosted at the Porshansky Auditorium in the CUNY Graduate Center.

“The state of the resistance is really seen in the burst of local activism since the election,” Garodnick said. “New Yorkers are holding their elected officials accountable. (Constituents) are breaking the all-time record for the number of calls to elected representatives.”

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Brewer: Retail blight ‘worse than I thought’

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (pictured at a recent press conference on the Commercial Rent Tax reform bill) conducted a foot patrol study of vacant storefronts along Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Two Sundays ago, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, with the help of nearly three dozen volunteers, walked along the length of Broadway in Manhattan, taking note of every vacant storefront they passed. The exercise was for a study on retail blight conducted by Brewer’s office, the results of which were not pretty.

In fact, said Brewer, who strolled a strip from the 60s to the 70s, “It was worse than I thought.”

Along her way, she observed five empty storefronts in a two block radius. “I don’t know how long they’ve been empty,” she said.

She chose Broadway as the street to monitor due to it being a part of so many different neighborhoods. Additionally, from what she’s seen the problem doesn’t appear to be more prolific in some neighborhoods than others.

“In Manhattan, it’s everywhere,” she said.

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Letters to the editor, May 25

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Bad old days are back on E. 14th St.

The following is an open letter to City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez whose districts share a border along East 14th Street.

I would like to point out the present poor condition of street crossing on 14th Street and First Avenue.

A homeless man sleeps at a street corner.

Please note:
Southeast corner:
Homeless people on the corner in front of T-Mobile and McDonald’s
Garbage cans overflowing, papers spread out from First Avenue to half of the block
Grease and dirt underneath the garbage cans
Streetlight missing in bus station, stump is still there, but light was removed 20 years ago
Nonfunctioning emergency pole – an eyesore
Bus station not long enough, stopped buses block pedestrian walk

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CB6 will meet on poll site confusion

Bill by Garodnick would mean signs get posted at former poll site buildings

Apr7 vote here sign colorBy Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6’s budget and governmental affairs committee will be discussing legislation regarding signage for former poll sites at its upcoming meeting next Monday. The timing of the meeting is somewhat serendipitous considering the presidential primary election that will take place the following Tuesday on April 19, but City Council Member Dan Garodnick, the prime sponsor of the legislation, said that this is a coincidence since the legislation was proposed back in 2014.

The upcoming committee meeting will be the first time that the community board is addressing the legislation. Garodnick noted that the issue may have pinged on their radar because there was a City Council hearing on legislation on February 29.

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