Council approves bill for predatory equity watch list

Council Member Dan Garodnick at a rally against predatory lending in 2016 (Photo by William Alatriste)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Thursday, the City Council passed legislation aimed at making it more difficult for speculative landlords to price or harass tenants out of the buildings they’ve just bought.

City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Ritchie Torres are the authors of what’s been dubbed the “Predatory Equity Bill,” which calls for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to establish a list of recently sold, rent-regulated buildings owned by potentially predatory investors.

Garodnick, who’s been working on the legislation for over a year, said it was inspired by the disastrous sale of Stuyvesant Town in 2006.As has been well documented, then owner Tishman Speyer tried to make up for its over-leveraged $5.4 billion purchase by issuing primary residence challenges to over 1,000 rent-regulated residents, before finally defaulting and walking away in 2010.

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Stuy Town gets new temporary bus stop shelter

The new shelter at the northeast corner of East 14th Street and Avenue B (Photo by Lawrence Scheyer)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, a temporary bus stop shelter was installed on the northeast corner of East 14th Street and Avenue B as preliminary work continues along 14th Street for the looming L train reconstruction.

A rep for City Council Member Dan Garodnick told Town & Village the shelter’s installation is unusual for a couple of reasons. First, because the city had initially said that temporary shelters aren’t normally installed at stops that get relocated due to construction. However, Garodnick was able to convince the city to install this one as well as another at a different stop on Avenue A over the summer.

The new shelter is also unusual because it had to fit alongside the L train construction site and still have an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk.

“With winter rapidly approaching, it became even more important that Stuyvesant Town residents have shelters on 14th Street as they wait for the crosstown bus,” Garodnick told us in an email. “Just in time for the holidays, we have delivered this temporary shelter, which will serve the community during the ongoing L train construction.”

Stuy Town resident and Citi Bike rider Lawrence Scheyer noted that this corner was previously occupied by a very popular “valet” Citi Bike station. The bike share program announced in July that valet service was moving to East 13th Street.

At the Avenue B and 14th Street intersection, a new electrical substation and circuit breaker room are being constructed. Scheyer, who’s also a Community 6 board member, noted that this will allow MTA NYC Transit to run a couple of more trains per hour on the L line. This is being done in preparation for the repairs and shutdown of subway service from Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn to 8th Avenue in Manhattan commonly referred to as the “L-Pocalypse.”

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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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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Confusing parking sign changed outside Peter Cooper Village

Cailin Krogman’s car parked by the sign last November (Photo by Cailin Krogman)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this month, a parking regulation sign located outside Peter Cooper Village on East 20th Street that had been confusing drivers was replaced with a new one. The problem with it previously, as one Peter Cooper driver who got socked with a $115 ticket told us, was that an arrow indicating where one couldn’t park appeared to contradict what the paint lines on the street indicated.

“It’s in conflict with the sign; it doesn’t match up,” said the driver Cailin Krogman. Last November 13, Krogman had parked where she thought it would be okay to do so, over a car’s length away from the sign, only to get slapped with the ticket anyway that evening.

So, while the sign having been changed is good news for drivers (a result of Krogman complaining numerous times to Council Member Dan Garodnick’s office), naturally, Krogman said she would still like her ticket dismissed. Especially since, she pointed out, she’s been paying attention to the spot since her ticket was given and seen that others have not been ticketed. Adding insult to injury, said Krogman, her car has a visible tag indicating she’s a disabled driver.

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The Soapbox: Many questions remain on East Midtown Rezoning

Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood in each one. All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 650 words, to editor@townvillage.net.

By Barry Shapiro

For those not aware, East Midtown Rezoning is a city initiative to rezone roughly from 39th Street to 57th Street from Fifth Avenue to Third Avenue.
The proposed changes in the area will allow real estate developers to build higher and increase overall free space for development by about 6.5 percent. There will also be development of some public spaces and improvements to subway stations.

This along with the LIRR terminal at Grand Central planned to open in 2022 will significantly add to the area’s population density.

Major rezoning has to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which requires pertinent community boards to have their say. Negative votes by community board reps on the project’s Borough Council would have a somewhat damaging effect.

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Stuyvesant Town golfer turns 100

Bernie Rothenberg at his birthday party (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Life-long Stuyvesant Town resident Bernie Rothenberg’s advice for living to be 100 is not to stress the little things.

“Take everything one day at a time,” he said. “Laugh when you can. All you have to worry about is your health, your family, eating properly. Don’t get aggravated at the unimportant things. And keep the weight off.”

Keeping the weight off is easier for the newly-minted centenarian since he can usually be found knocking golf balls around Playground 3 whenever it’s not snowing. He’s become locally famous for his almost-daily habit, which he’s been practicing in the neighborhood since the turn of the millennium.

Aside from keeping a level head, Rothenberg also partially attributed his longevity to pure luck. A combat engineer who served in the Philippines and Okinawa during World War II, he was a lawyer when he was drafted and he joined the family stationery business when he returned to civilian life.

“They were bombing where I was and a shell landed by us and the guy right next to me was killed but I wasn’t touched,” he said. “Number 158 was the first draft number picked, and mine was the second. I could’ve ended up in the European theater and gotten killed. Sometimes you gotta be lucky.”

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Garodnick asks city to investigate Quik Park rate increases in ST

Garage customers began complaining about the increases last September. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Garage customers began complaining about the increases last September. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Several months ago, drivers who parked their cars at any of the garages located in Stuyvesant Town found themselves socked with a $20 monthly increase in rent, without prior warning.

Now, Council Member Dan Garodnick is looking to the Department of Consumer Affairs to see if those increases, issued by garage operator Icon/Quik Park, are actually legit. In a letter to the DCA commissioner, Lorelai Salas, late last month, Garodnick wrote about the increases, which he started hearing about from garage customers last September.

“These increases have come without any notice,” he said. “The increases have been unaccompanied by any explanation; garage customers have simply received monthly bills higher than what they have paid previously. Since local law requires a 60 day prior notice of rate changes, it would appear that all of these increases are invalid, and should be reversed.”

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Attorney for Planned Parenthood discusses the de-funding threat

Zoe Segal-Reichlin, senior associate general counsel/director of advocacy and political law for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, pictured in November with her husband, Council Member Dan Garodnick, and their two sons, Devin and Asher, as they door-knocked for Hillary Clinton (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

Zoe Segal-Reichlin, senior associate general counsel/director of advocacy and political law for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, pictured in November with her husband, Council Member Dan Garodnick, and their two sons, Devin and Asher, as they door-knocked for Hillary Clinton (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

By Sabina Mollot

Inauguration Day for President-Elect Donald Trump hasn’t happened yet, but already Planned Parenthood is preparing for a major battle ahead to protect its federal funding.

Earlier in the month, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced a push by Republicans in Congress to defund the now century-old organization. While Planned Parenthood has always faced opposition from the GOP, soon there will be a Republican in the White House as well as a majority in the Senate and House.

Meanwhile, the women’s healthcare giant has vowed it won’t be going down without a fight.

Locally, Planned Parenthood has a weapon in Peter Cooper Village resident Zoe Segal-Reichlin, the senior associate general counsel and director of advocacy and political law for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Segal-Reichlin, also a mother of two and wife to City Council Member Dan Garodnick, provides advice and guidance on matters of law and regulation.

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City Council speaker and Garodnick say feds should foot the bill for Trump’s protection

Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue

Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue (Photo via Change.org petition) 

By Sabina Mollot

With the cost to protect President-elect Donald Trump and his family in New York City reported to be $1 million a day, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Dan Garodnick are calling on Trump to get the federal government to reimburse the city.

Garodnick, whose Council district includes Trump Tower, where the president-elect lives and works, and Mark-Viverito have also launched a change.org petition, which already has about 1,500 signatures.

As the petition notes: “At an estimated $1 million per day, protecting you, your family and your home at Trump Tower will total over one billion dollars during your four-year term. This represents an extraordinary financial burden for New York City taxpayers.”

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Four new MCIs pending for ST/PCV

Blackstone representative Nadeem Meghji, pictured at a meeting last October, tells ST-PCV tenants the owner will not use MCIs as a tool to inflate rents. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Blackstone representative Nadeem Meghji, pictured at a meeting last October, tells ST-PCV tenants the owner will not use MCIs as a tool to inflate rents. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Requests are for facade waterproofing, water heaters, video intercoms and ADA ramps, but Blackstone says it will walk away from $10M in potential fees

By Sabina Mollot

Blackstone’s management company for Stuyvesant Town, StuyTown Property Services, announced on Wednesday that it will be filing for four MCIs for work done in the complex starting two years ago.

The MCI (major capital improvement) projects are for: building façade waterproofing (which the owner said was mandated by law), upgrading the hot water heaters, video intercoms for Peter Cooper Village buildings and the installation of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant ramps.

If approved, the cost that would be passed onto residents in the form of a permanent rent increase that a spokesperson for SPS expects will be on average around $8 per month per apartment. While applications don’t guarantee an MCI will be approved, based on community history, the state housing agency, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, has never met an MCI it didn’t like.

MCIs will be filed for 54 building addresses, a few with multiple filings, according to SPS spokesperson Paula Chirhart. The intercom MCI will be for all Peter Cooper buildings, while the ADA ramp one will be for just two buildings, 400-410 East 20th Street and 430-440 East 20th Street, with a shared ramp at each building. As for the intercoms, the new system will have its own wiring instead of using tenants’ land lines. The water heaters are being replaced, because, according to Chirhart, at this point, the cost of repairing them would be higher than buying new. The waterproofing work is the result of inspections which take place every five years, with work being done if the inspection shows it’s necessary. That work is being done at 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Peter Cooper Road, 511 and 531 East 20th Street and 510 and 530 East 23rd Street.

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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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PCV Council candidate raises $50G

Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

City Council candidate and Peter Cooper Village resident Keith Powers announced on Wednesday that he surpassed the qualifications required for New York City’s campaign finance program, which measures local support for a candidate.

Since announcing his campaign on June 2, Powers has raised $50,077. The contributions came from 258 individuals and far surpasses the in-district contributions required by the New York City Campaign Finance Board. The average in-district contribution is $145.85.

Powers is now eligible to receive $100,100 in campaign funds from the Campaign Finance Board, which will bring his total raised to $150,177.

“My campaign will always be about our local community and I am proud to have the overwhelming support of East Siders,” Powers said. “This is a grassroots effort that is supported by average New Yorkers and small contributions.”

Powers is running to replace Dan Garodnick in the 4th City Council District.

The candidate, 32, is the vice president of lobbying/consulting firm Constantinople & Vallone. He is also a community activist, filling volunteer roles at Community Board Six, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, the Kips Bay Neighborhood Association and the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club.

Pols rally for stronger gun laws

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Dan Garodnick at City Hall (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Dan Garodnick at City Hall (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, along with other elected officials, rallied at City Hall last Friday to demand that Congress take action on gun safety reforms, in light of the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando.

LGBT and gun safety advocates were also there, pushing for the renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban, which previously banned the use of semiautomatic assault weapons, but the law expired in 2004, as well as pushing for legislation that would require universal background checks and a bill that would prohibit those on a terrorist watchlist and those convicted of a hate crime from buying a gun.

Maloney has also pushed for legislation that would lift the prohibition on federal public health research on gun violence.

“No other bill relating to gun violence has been passed except for the study of gun safety,” she said at City Hall.

“The refusal to prevent future violence is unacceptable and the ban on public health research is totally insane.”

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Letters to the Editor, June 16

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

In defense of Bernie’s attacks on Hillary

To the Editor:

Helter Skelter Bernie Indeed! Reading Steven Sanders’ “Helter Skelter Bernie” (T&V, May 25) was absolutely galling.

Mr. Sanders posed a number of hypotheses concerning the senator’s motivation for contesting the former first lady, nominee contender, secretary of state, and nominee contender (again) at this late date in the nomination fight. Of course none of Mr. Sanders’ musings are really hypotheses. I mean, how the devil does one go about demonstrating that Bernie Sanders continues to battle Mrs. Clinton because he wants The Donald as president because that, according to Mr. Steven Sanders, is what Senator Sanders believes will bring about so much hurt as to cause the very revolution that he, the senator, now wants but cannot secure with his own talents?

Nowhere in his voyage of fantasy does Mr. Sanders entertain the notion that Senator Sanders, though well-behind Mrs. Clinton, is in the race because of ethical differences between the two. So let’s bring out one difference that has been there all along. It is one that Mr. Trump is right about and will likely use; quote, “They lied!”

Indeed, they did, and they still do. They lied when they claimed that “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction!” Mrs. Clinton now tells the rest of us, “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have voted to invade Iraq.” She was, I gather, just a bit short on information.

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