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Peter Cooper Village woman who’d been running for the City Council seat to be vacated next year by Dan Garodnick, has withdrawn from the race.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

Rachel Honig, who at one time worked raising money for the arts under Governor George Pataki, is now a Democrat candidate for Dan Garodnick’s City Council seat. (Photo courtesy of candidate)

By Sabina Mollot

In a City Council race that now has 10 candidates, the latest one to attempt to replace a term-limited Dan Garodnick is Rachel Honig, a Democrat who developed her taste for politics when working for a Republican governor.

From 1996-1998, Honig worked under then-Governor George Pataki as special assistant to the chairman and director of special projects at the New York State Council on the Arts. The Council is the grant making body for the arts throughout the state and is based in the city.

Honig later moved on to form her own public relations firm, although since becoming a candidate, she’s severely limited her P.R. work to campaign full time.

Recently, at Madison Restaurant, a diner in her East Midtown neighborhood, Honig discussed her platform and the issues she would tackle if elected, in particular disappearing mom-and-pops, homelessness and quality of life protection.

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Peter Cooper Council candidate has 3 club endorsements, nearly $200G in war chest

Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

Keith Powers, a candidate for City Council in District 4, announced on Tuesday that he’d gotten support from three Democratic clubs on the East Side of Manhattan. The Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club, Four Freedoms Democratic Club and Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club (where Powers is a district leader), voted to endorse Powers, a resident of Peter Cooper Village, last week.

In addition, a spokesperson for the campaign said Powers has amassed close to $200,000 in campaign cash.

The rep said Powers has maxed out on his matching funds at $100,100 and has raised $98,000 in private funds. With the two amounts combined, Powers has hit the $182,000 City Council spending cap.

“With our endorsement, we see Keith as the most qualified candidate who has what it takes to protect our party’s values with new and innovative solutions for the unique needs of our community,” said Greg Martello, president of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club.

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Stuyvesant Town Associated is still waiting for answer on lease renewal

Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, following an op-ed being published in the newspaper The Villager in support of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, many Stuyvesant Town residents became alarmed after reading a sentence that mentioned the owner of the complex’s Associated supermarket was told he would not get a lease renewal.

Town & Village since reached out to Blackstone, and a spokesperson for the landlord, Paula Chirhart, said a final decision on whether to renew or not has not yet been made. Joseph Falzon, a co-owner of The Associated, confirmed this when we called although he added he wasn’t feeling confident that he’d get a renewal. He added that he was “99 percent sure” he wouldn’t.

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The rent is too damn high, says this Republican Council candidate

Jimmy McMillan, who hopes to replace Rosie Mendez in the City Council, has also run for governor and mayor. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The race for the City Council seat currently occupied by a term-limited Rosie Mendez is beginning to heat up, with the newest candidate being Jimmy McMillan, otherwise known as “The Rent is Too Damn High” guy.

McMillan, who has previously run for mayor of New York City and governor as well as having had a brief dalliance with the 2012 presidential election, said he was approached about running for Council by Manhattan GOP.

The organization, formerly known as the New York Republican County Committee, gave McMillan its blessing in an email blast to members last week.

On getting the local Republican nod to run, McMillan, who’s running as a Republican as well as on his own party, The Rent is Too Damn High, said, “I almost cried.”

And this is no small thing. As the 70-year-old, mutton chopped, Vietnam vet and martial arts aficionado, who claims he was once tied up and doused with gasoline when working as an investigator, also told us, “I’m not a baby. I don’t cry.”

He’s also here to say what he’s been saying all along, that the rent is unquestionably too damn high, and if this is fixed, specifically by halving rents across the board, many of the other problems facing this city — like struggles faced by small businesses — will solve themselves.

“If you raise rents and you go to the store, they have to raise their prices in the store,” he said. “There is no way around it. The rent is too damn high,” he said, before going on to blast economic experts who opine on such matters. “I don’t have a degree, but they (think they) know more than me because they call themselves professors or economic experts. I’m an economic master.”

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Maloney’s tips for women candidates

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, pictured at center campaigning last June in Stuyvesant Town, said candidates need to be prepared for constant battle. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, pictured at center campaigning last June in Stuyvesant Town, said candidates need to be prepared for constant battle. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With the presidential election still a recent memory and New York City races for mayor and the City Council now heating up, Town & Village turned to Carolyn Maloney, who’s represented Manhattan’s East Side in Congress for nearly a quarter century, for some advice for would-be elected officials.

Note: While this article was actually supposed to be a guide for women seeking office, all the tips that were shared by Maloney would work just as well for male candidates. For some background, prior to first getting elected in Washington in 1992, the Upper East Side Democrat served for 10 years as a member of the City Council.

Read on for her guide to success at the voting booth and upon getting elected, success as a lawmaker.

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Former Mendez aide running to replace her in City Council

Former Rosie Mendez aide Carlina Rivera in Madison Square Park (Photo courtesy of Carlina Rivera)

Former Rosie Mendez aide Carlina Rivera in Madison Square Park (Photo courtesy of Carlina Rivera)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Life-long Lower East Side resident Carlina Rivera has been involved in local politics since as young as age 12, so it should come as no surprise that her next move is running for City Council. Until recently, Rivera was the legislative director for Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and she left the position to focus on running to fill the seat in District 2 that Mendez will vacate this year due to term limits.

Rivera’s introduction to politics at such a young age was thanks to tenant advocate Marie Christopher, who lived on the first floor of her building on Stanton Street when she was growing up.

“She was an amazing tenant advocate, always pushing issues of public safety and preservation of NYCHA,” Rivera said of Christopher, who died in 2013. “She brought me to my first community council meeting. She knew that the community was an ecosystem, and she knew the importance of working with elected officials but also holding them accountable.”

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Opinion: A case against term limits

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

It has been said that the profession of politics is the second oldest one and regarded on about par with the oldest. Politicians are often times reviled beyond any logical reason. If you are unhappy in life, blame a politician. If you feel overburdened, blame a politician.

But too frequently some public officials give good reason for this antipathy by doing corrupt things. While all professions have their bad players, when a politician is caught with his/her hand in the cookie jar, the rest are tarnished and brought down in the eyes of the public.

It is little wonder that the proposition to impose strict term limits is so popular. Of course, it is also entirely undemocratic and occasionally destructive. Dan Garodnick is a case in point.

Dan has been our City Councilman for 11 years. He has effectively represented our community with intelligence, passion and unquestioned integrity. We sorely need those traits in our government leaders today. But he is in his last year as our local representative. You will not be able to vote for him again and our community will be deprived of an exemplary public official and advocate, because of arbitrary term limits.

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Garodnick recommends Trump Tower police unit

Council Member Dan Garodnick

Council Member Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

Since the presidential election, traffic in the midtown streets surrounding Trump Tower has been consistently snarled, with local stores reporting a yuuuuge amount of lost business as a result.

While it did help that shortly before the New Year, the block of 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues was once again opened to traffic, the area still feels somewhat militarized. The reopening had been pushed by City Council Member Dan Garodnick, whose district includes Trump Tower, and this week, Garodnick spoke with Town & Village about how the neighborhood has been inconvenienced since Donald Trump was elected president.

“It’s an ongoing headache that gets worse when he’s around and we hope he does not choose to use Trump Tower as a pied-a-terre,” said Garodnick.

Incidentally, First Lady Melania Trump has recently reiterated plans to remain at Trump Tower with her son Barron until the school semester ends before moving to the White House.

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Help for mom and pop lies in pending legislation

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Robert Cornegy, pictured last year while introducing a bill that a rep for Cornegy recently insisted isn’t dead (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Robert Cornegy, pictured last year while introducing a bill that a rep for Cornegy recently insisted isn’t dead (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Recently, a couple of City Council members proposed ideas on ways to combat “high rent blight” and promote retail diversity, or at least, keep the city from completely getting overtaken by chains.

This was at a hearing where the council members’ ideas, such as putting legislative restrictions on chain stores and imposing penalties on landlords who warehouse storefronts, were shot down by city planners.

According to the planners, as Town & Village previously reported, many stores that appear to be chains are actually individually owned franchises and as for lengthy retail vacancies, sometimes, the planners argued, they are not necessarily intentional on the part of property owners.

Meanwhile, a few legislators, including Council Member Robert Cornegy, the small business committee chair who’d chaired the aforementioned hearing on September 30, have come up with some legislative ideas to deal with the problem already.

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PCV’s Keith Powers a top candidate in city elections for small contributions

Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

By Sabina Mollot

Peter Cooper Village resident Keith Powers, who’s running for the City Council seat currently occupied by Dan Garodnick, is currently one of the top five city candidates for small contributions. Small, according to the Campaign Finance Board, which has released the stats for the latest filing period, means a contribution of $175 or less.

Other candidates to make the list include Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James. De Blasio had the highest number at 691 small donors. Powers was fourth on the list with 170. James followed him at 162. Number two on the list is Carlina Rivera, who’s running for the City Council seat now occupied by Rosie Mendez with 226 and three is Queens Borough President Melinda Katz with 187.

Small donations are eligible for matching funds if they’re from New York City residents, and therefore the program encourages candidates to seek the financial support of constituents and potential constituents.

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Opinion: Time to nix these six

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Before you know it, the 2016 presidential election campaign will be (mercifully) over and then the political focus in New York City will almost immediately shift to the mayoral and other city elections in 2017. Aside from the mayor, there are elections including those for comptroller, public advocate, five borough presidents, district attorneys and all 51 members of the City Council. Each will be elected for four year terms of office. At least six of them are unnecessary.

But first a little recent history: Prior to 1989 this city was governed essentially by a body known as the Board of Estimate. It consisted of the three citywide elected officials: the mayor, the president of the City Council, the comptroller and each borough president.

The citywide officials had two votes on the board and each borough president had one vote.

The City Council was virtually powerless since most of the real decision making occurred at the Board of Estimate, including virtually all fiscal matters. After a lawsuit and changes to the New York City Charter much of that changed. The Board of Estimate was abolished and the City Council was empowered to make all legislative decisions. The office of the president of the City Council was also abolished and instead a speaker of the council was created, elected by the other members of the council.

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Another Council candidate enters race, raising $170G

Marti Speranza, City Council candidate and co-president of the Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats Club, pictured at Madison Square Park Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Marti Speranza, City Council candidate and co-president of the Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats Club, pictured at Madison Square Park (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The most recent person to enter the City Council race for the seat currently occupied by Dan Garodnick is Marti Speranza, a former city employee and the co-president of the Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats Club.

Speranza, a 40-year-old NoMad neighborhood resident, is so far the only woman Democrat in the race. Another female candidate, Peter Cooper Village’s Diane Grayson, is running as an Independent.

Other candidates are Democrats Keith Powers and Jeff Mailman. As T&V first reported, former candidate Joshua Thompson dropped out of the Council race in May and is now running for mayor.

For Speranza, fundraising for the Council campaign has been in the works since April and just last week, she stepped down from her job as director at Women Entrepreneurs (WE) NYC, a new city initiative, to focus on the race.

So far things seem to be going well for Speranza, who announced that she raised $169,706 by the filing date last week, a fundraising record for the first filing of a Council race. She now has over $170,000. The record was previously held by Council Member Corey Johnson, who’d raised $166,000. Speranza also said this was the first time a woman candidate got $100,000 in contributions in the first filing. Of that campaign cash, 52 percent of those donating it are women and 72 percent gave $250 or less, she said. None were real estate developers or lobbyists.

On being the only female Democrat in the race, Speranza pointed out that at this time, because of term limits faced by members of the City Council, the number of female representatives out of over 50 could potentially drop to just nine.

“I do feel that more women need to step up to the plate and run for these seats,” she said.

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