Garodnick’s water tower legislation would make building inspection results clear to all

Council Member Dan Garodnick said he was motivated by building owners ignoring the law he got passed calling for annual inspections.

By Sabina Mollot

Last Tuesday, the City Council voted to make the results of buildings’ water tank inspections more readily accessible after many years of those records being kept private.

The bill was sponsored by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who, in 2006, authored another piece of legislation that required annual inspections of water tanks. The bill also required landlords to make the results of those inspections available to the city upon request for the next five years. It was signed into law in 2009.

Under the new legislation however, the results of the inspections would have to be submitted to the Department of Health and entered into a searchable, publicly available online database on the DOH’s website. The data would also be submitted annually to the City Council.

Garodnick said the issue was first flagged to him by then-Assembly Member Steven Sanders, who left office in 2006.

“Back then members of the public were barred from seeing the results, even if they had a subpoena,” said Garodnick. “Those reports should not be treated like state secrets.”

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Democrats vying for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

epstein

Harvey Epstein (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Following Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh’s easy victory at the polls last week for the downtown Senate seat he wanted, two Democrat candidates have expressed interest in filling the now vacant 74th District Assembly seat.

One of them is Harvey Epstein, a tenant representative on the Rent Guidelines Board and the project director of the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center. The other is Mike Corbett, an aide to Queens-based City Council Member Costa Constantinides and a former teamster. Marie Ternes, a communications consultant who previously worked for then-Congress Member Anthony Weiner, said she is considering running.

Recently, outgoing City Council Member Rosie Mendez told Town & Village she was mulling a run for Assembly, but then later told the local blog Lo Down that she’d decided against it. Council Member Dan Garodnick has also previously said he has no plan to run.

Corbett, Epstein and Ternes spoke with a Town & Village reporter this week, although Ternes declined to be interviewed at this time since she hasn’t yet made a decision on running.

It’s expected that there will be a County Committee vote held by each party to determine who will get onto the ballot for a special election. However, it’s still unclear when the vote will be or when the election will be, since a special election must be called by the governor. Another possible, though unlikely, scenario is that there will be a primary in June when there’s a Congressional primary, or even later.

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Green, Libertarian candidates also on ballot in Council race

Manny Cavaco, Green Party candidate (Photos courtesy of candidates)

By Sabina Mollot

On Election Day, residents of District 2: the East Village, the Lower East Side, Gramercy and Kips Bay, will have five City Council candidates to choose from. They are Democratic nominee Carlina Rivera, Liberal Party candidate Jasmin Sanchez, who ran as a Democrat in the primary, and Republican Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan as well as two additional candidates running almost entirely inactive campaigns.

They are Libertarian Donald Garrity of Kips Bay and Green Party candidate Manny Cavaco of the Lower East Side.

Cavaco, who spoke with Town & Village this week, is a veteran candidate, having run for City Council the first time in 1991. However, the now 62-year-old truck driver and teamster with Local 917 admitted he doesn’t play to win.

“Green Party candidates don’t win,” he said. However, like many longshot candidates, he’s running based on his passion for a particular issue. In his case, it’s a desire to see a public bank developed in New York, similar to one that’s been proposed for Santa Fe.

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Mendez mulling a run for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

Councilmember Rosie Mendez (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

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

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

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

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

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Editorial: The registered Dems have spoken

Congratulations, Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera.

Following, for some candidates, what had been well over a year in campaigning, the primary race for two open City Council seats has come and gone with Peter Cooper resident Keith Powers and Lower East Sider Carlina Rivera winning in crowded fields. In Manhattan, winners of the Democratic primary are unofficially crowned winners of the election. However, there is still a general election where Powers and Rivera will be facing off against Republicans Rebecca Harary and Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan, respectively.

Still, we congratulate the two primary victors – and their opponents because it was a hard-fought race with only a few vanity candidates cluttering things and relatively little controversy. That said, if those who’ll be on the ballots in November are wise then they should understand that the work of Districts 2 and 4 are already on their shoulders and the time to get organized is now, still a few months before their predecessors are forced out of their offices due to term limits.

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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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Education advocate running for City Council

Mary Silver is an attorney and resident of Kips Bay.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

City Council candidate, attorney and Kips Bay resident Mary Silver says that she got her political education in the schoolyard.

“When one of my daughters was in kindergarten (at PS 116), there were $250,000 in budget cuts and the moms and dads jumped in to help,” she said. “We put the school on the map to bring in funding through the PTA, school leadership and community board. We created a network that was beneficial for the community and for public schools. Once you learn how to build those relationships, you can use them to benefit schools. Those were community-based efforts.”

Silver, who has been an education advocate since her now-grown daughters were in local public schools, said that parents and teachers encouraged her run to replace term-limited Council Member Rosie Mendez for District 2.

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Accident leads to candidate’s effort to win City Council seat

Maria Castro

By Sabina Mollot

When Maria Castro, a political consultant who’d also served as a delegate for Bernie Sanders during the Democratic National Convention, decided to join the City Council race for District 4, it was shortly after ending up in the hospital.

Castro, a midtown resident on the west side of the district, said she was “holed up” following a fall down a malfunctioning escalator at the subway station near City Hall on January 4. During this time, with little else to do, she found herself watching the news surrounding President Donald Trump’s inauguration — and getting very upset.

“I was watching the rhetoric of the Trump administration, how he was affecting women, minorities, the working class,” said Castro.

She had a couple of friends over at the time, one of whom mentioned the seat for her City Council district was open. Castro didn’t need to think twice about what she would do about this, and got on the ballot on January 26.

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Attorney running to replace Mendez

Jorge Vasquez, a lifetime Lower East Sider and attorney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Lower East Side resident Jorge Vasquez has his lifelong neighborhood to thank for his aspiring City Council candidacy. Vasquez, an attorney who is running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez in District 2, said that it was the local Boys & Girls Republic, as well as his mother’s influence, that got him involved in community advocacy.

“It was a tradition with me and my mom on Election Day where we would wake up and I would go with her to the polls,” he said, recalling that he and his mother also canvassed for Antonio Pagan, the City Councilmember for District 2 in the 1990s prior to Mendez’s predecessor, Margarita Lopez.

Vasquez said that he started attending programming at the Boys & Girls Republic, which offer youth the opportunity to participate in self-government, at age six and was putting bills together by age 10. When Vasquez joined, the program was known as the Boys Brotherhood Republic but the program later became part of the Henry Street Settlement and was renamed the Boys & Girls Republic.

“Those programs give youth the opportunity to be active in the community,” he said. “Being part of democracy, and even to be familiar with the courtroom and jury rules, is so important. I wouldn’t be an attorney without access to these programs and the advocacy it instilled in me.”

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Candidate threatened with arrest while calling for reform of the city’s privately owned public spaces

Marti Speranza said she tried but was unable to get a permit to hold her press conference at the Trump Tower Atrium, which is supposed to be publicly accessible. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Marti Speranza, a Democrat running for City Council, risked but ultimately evaded arrest on Monday while calling for reform of Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS).

Ironically, the threat of arrest came because of the venue of her press conference, one of the city’s so-called POPS located in the atrium of Trump Tower.

As Speranza and supporters gathered at the space before the press conference, which was on a level below the ground floor, they were told they’d be arrested if they didn’t leave, her campaign staffers later said. However, Speranza and a couple of other speakers went on to make their arguments anyway, uninterrupted, as a few suit wearing men hovered at the room’s entrance. Afterwards, they stepped forward to ask the candidate and staffers if they’d be dispersing. Speranza’s campaign manager said the men later identified themselves as police from the NYPD’s Intelligence Unit. While no voices were raised, one of the men said he would normally turn the matter over to the legal department, but then added, “We don’t want to go that route.” He also asked if the campaign was planning any similar events in the future. When a staffer responded that doing so would be the campaign’s right, the man disagreed, but ultimately no one was kicked out.

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Countdown clocks coming to East Side bus stops

Council Member Dan Garodnick (right) stands by a new countdown clock at a bus stop for the M66. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In an effort to help straphangers get a more reliable idea of when their next bus is coming, the city is installing 48 new countdown clocks at bus stops around Council District 4. The project is being funded with nearly $1 million allocated by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who admitted that there’s still plenty of work to be done in making buses more reliable.

Similar countdown displays are already in place in local routes where Select Bus Service is offered, like the M23, although other SBS routes, including the M15, will be getting new countdown clocks in stops that don’t have them already.

The announcement was made last Tuesday at a bus stop at 68th Street and Lexington, which is one of four where a new countdown clock has already been installed. The other three are in midtown and the other 44 will be installed by the end of the year.

Garodnick, who was joined by Manhattan Borough Department of Transportation Commissioner Luis Sanchez and John Raskin of the Riders Alliance, discussed how unlike other methods of mass transit, bus usage is actually on the decline.

While noting that it’s sometimes the only option for the mobility impaired or New Yorkers who don’t live close to a subway, the speed or rather lack of it at which buses travel, has made above ground mass transit too slow and unreliable for a growing number of people.

“Bus service has declined by 16 percent in the last decade,” said Raskin. “People are voting with their MetroCards. People are starting to abandon the bus.”

Garodnick gave the bus stopping on that block, the M66, as an example of why.

“It’s the 17th busiest out of 40 routes, but it moves at 4.1 miles per hour,” he said. “I can jog backwards carrying my six-year-old son faster than the M66 goes to the West Side.”

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Garodnick says he’d work with NYPD on surveillance bill

Councilmember Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

In March, Council Member Dan Garodnick, along with Council Member Vanessa Gibson of the Bronx, introduced a police oversight bill that’s aimed at making the technology the NYPD uses for its anti-terror efforts and the policies under which they are used more transparent.

But it was last Wednesday, when the Council members held a rally and hearing to push the bill, dubbed the POST Act, when the NYPD as well as the mayor responded to slam it, arguing that it would put too much sensitive information in the hands of terrorists.

Garodnick has since reiterated an earlier claim that he was willing the work with police to tweak the bill, adding that police’s bashing of the act as “a blueprint for harm” has amounted to fear-mongering.

Other opinions have already varied just as widely. A Wall Street Journal editorial with the headline “A Terrorist’s Guide to New York City” cited last year’s bombing in Chelsea while calling Garodnick and the bill’s supporters “anti-anti-terror stalwarts.” Meanwhile, an opinion piece in the Daily News called the legislation a much needed step considering previously reported incidents of NYPD surveillance incidents of students and activists.

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

On Thursday night, an evening of debate among the candidates running to replace Dan Garodnick in the City Council was held at Waterside Plaza. The event’s hosts were Town & Village newspaper, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management with the event taking place outdoors. A story covering the views of the various candidates on affordable housing, small businesses, issues affecting seniors, and the sanitation garage the city plans to build at the Brookdale campus, is forthcoming. Scroll down to see some photos from the debate, where all seats on the plaza were filled with a mixed crowd of community residents and candidates’ supporters.

Richard Ravitch, owner of Waterside Plaza and former lieutenant governor, makes opening remarks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Crowd at the debate

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal, event co-host

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Letters to the editor, June 22

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

From ShopRite to shopper shuttles

Dear Editor,

I would like to add to the conversation regarding a supermarket on East 14th Street off First Avenue.

First let me say how pleased I am with the service, responsiveness, attitude and tone provided by our new owners and management. Kudos to them for taking into consideration tenants’ needs and interests. I am fortunate to have a car and therefore shop in Brooklyn. However, I “fill in” with items purchased at our local grocers. I understand why many people no longer purchase some items because of the exaggerated prices, sometime double what I pay in Brooklyn. Double.

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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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