Petitioning suspended for congressional race

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

Multiple candidates running for the Congressional seat in District 12, including incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, suspended petitioning last week in order to protect the public during the COVID-19 pandemic shortly before the governor suspended all petitioning on Saturday. 

Candidates Lauren Ashcraft and Peter Harrison also signed an online petition calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to suspend or reduce petitioning requirements in response to coronavirus fears and the governor signed an executive order suspending the candidate petitioning process on Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the June primaries for Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and Judicial races. The order also modified signature requirements for ballot access. Candidates will only need to collect 30% of the statutory threshold. For Congress, candidates would need 375 signatures instead of 1,250.

Maloney issued a statement on Thursday announcing that she would be suspending petitioning.

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City halts evictions due to coronavirus

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

City officials have indefinitely suspended eviction proceedings in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a memo from the state’s chief administrative judge on Sunday. 

The memo from the Unified Court System last weekend said that effective at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16, the courts would be postponing all non-essential functions until further notice, including pending trials, due to the ongoing public health emergency in New York State. 

Prior to the city’s decision to halt evictions, a group of 29 New York rental building owners and managers, including Blackstone, instituted a voluntary 90-day moratorium on evictions, which was announced shortly after the court system had issued a one-week moratorium. 

Various housing groups, including Right to Counsel NYC Coalition and Housing Justice for All, pushed a joint city and state strategy, calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo to implement an eviction moratorium and to close the courts. More than 15,000 tenants across the state also signed a petition to the governor calling for an eviction moratorium and immediate rent freeze. 

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Opinion: A changing of the guard?

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

I get a lot of political emails. It seems that I am on everybody’s mailing list. But none more than from 36-year-old Suraj Patel. If the name rings a bell it is because he ran against Carolyn Maloney in the Democratic Party Primary two years ago and did fairly well, winning about 40% of the vote. Undaunted by his defeat, he is challenging Maloney again. In truth, he never really stopped running.

This year the Primary is in June… just four months away. But who is Mr. Patel? And what makes him run? The trend in the Democratic Party starting with Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, now referred to as “AOC” by tabloid newspapers, is for young persons in a big hurry to run for high office. Two years ago, the then-unknown 20-something Alexandra Ocasio Cortez toppled Congressman Joe Crowley, who was an influential veteran of the House of Representatives for 20 years after having served in the State Assembly for over a decade. She has since gone on to become a progressive political rock star and is quoted in the press almost as much as President Trump.

But back to Patel. Like AOC, and actually like Trump, he runs for office having never served a day in his life in government. So clearly one can be elected to an important federal office without first having learned about government from the inside. Some people actually think that is a virtue. And like Donald Trump, Mr. Patel has a lot of experience operating hotels and has made a considerable amount of money. But why is he running against Carolyn Maloney, who is now a 28-year member of Congress and at the height of her influence, having been named Chair of the important Committee on Oversight? He says he has a lot of policy disagreements with Maloney but for the most part they seem to be nuanced and not notable.

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Maloney challenger Erica Vladimer ending campaign

Erica Vladimer (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

District 12 congressional candidate and Upper East Side resident Erica Vladimer is ending her bid to replace incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Vladimer announced the end of her campaign in an emailed statement to supporters last Friday.

Vladimer said that she made the decision after difficulties fundraising and also due to a struggle with health issues, partially due to a lack of insurance since she’s been campaigning.

“Knowing myself personally, and knowing that anything I chose to do, I want to do my best, I realized that I couldn’t do that and didn’t feel comfortable with that,” she said of the overall decision.

Vladimer said that for a newcomer like herself, it was difficult to get momentum against Maloney, who already has a fundraising base as an incumbent congresswoman.

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Maloney challenger proposes free public transit

District 12 Congressional candidate Peter Harrison (standing, center) announced his transit plan at East 14th Street and First Avenue this past Tuesday with (from left to right) Brooklyn City Council candidate Victoria Cambranes and activists Dustin Jones and Dannelly Rodriguez. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuy Town resident and Congressional candidate Peter Harrison announced his campaign to make public transit free and increase accessibility throughout the system on Tuesday morning at the corner of First Avenue and East 14th Street.

Harrison’s proposal, the “Freedom of Movement in America Plan,” calls on the federal government to spend $1.7 trillion on public transportation over the next 10 years. One component of the plan is to make transit completely fare-free and provide $17 billion in federal funding to cover fare revenue, in addition to providing $9 billion in funding for paratransit in order to achieve 100% accessibility for public transit.

Another aspect of the proposal would fund the Federal Railroad Administration in order to invest $150 billion in Amtrak, $150 billion into the development of high-speed rail and update rolling stock to decarbonized, emission-free systems within 12 years at a cost of $500 million a year.

Harrison, a Democratic Socialist who is challenging incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in District 12, said that his plan isn’t intended to punish car-owners, but aims to make transportation more accessible for everyone, especially residents who can’t afford cars.

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Local Democratic club endorses Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney at forum

The Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club endorsed Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in her re-election bid over her four Democratic challengers. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club voted to endorse Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for re-election after a forum featuring the current representative and four of her Democratic opponents on Tuesday evening at the New York New Church on East 35th Street.

Stuy Town resident Peter Harrison, Upper East Side resident Erica Vladimer, Long Island City resident Lauren Ashcraft and Lower East Side resident Suraj Patel made their case in their campaigns against the longtime incumbent at the event co-organized by the Tilden Democrats, Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats, Four Freedoms, Coalition of a District Alternative (CODA), East River Democratic Club and Lexington Democrats. Tilden previously endorsed Maloney for re-election in November.

Members of the various Democratic clubs that were in attendance submitted questions for each of the candidates, focusing on topics such as housing, transportation, education and infrastructure. ERDC District Leader Mike Corbett lead the forum last Tuesday.

All of the candidates said that they are supportive of protecting and expanding affordable housing as well as protecting public housing, although Congresswoman Maloney was the only candidate who specified where she believes the district needs more affordable housing.

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Maloney elected to be Oversight Committee’s first female chair

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, joined by US Senator Charles Schumer (left) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (right), at an event earlier this year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been elected chair of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday after she was nominated by the House Democratic steering committee earlier this week.

The New York Post reported that Maloney got the nomination after a vote from the steering committee in a meeting on Tuesday.

“I am deeply humbled and grateful to my colleagues for entrusting me with the chairmanship,” Maloney said after she was elected to the permanent position. “I’m honored by this opportunity to do more for the American people and will do my best to follow the honorable example that Chairman Cummings left for us all. There’s much work to be done, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Maloney became the acting chair of the Oversight Committee in October following the sudden death of Representative Elijah Cummings, who was previously the chair. Prior to her nomination, she faced three other challengers in a run for the permanent position.

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Nadler, Engel and Maloney

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

They sound like partners of a law firm… but in truth they are the firmament of law.

New York has taken center stage in the rapidly expanding impeachment inquiry of President Donald J. Trump.

Three of the key players in Congress are New Yorkers and one is our very own.

I am speaking of Manhattan Congressman Jerry Nadler who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and our very own Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who just last week assumed the post of interim chair of the House Committee on Oversight following the sudden passing of Elijah Cummings.

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Maloney named interim chair of House Oversight and Reform Committee

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, seen here celebrating the passage of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund earlier this year with US Senator Charles Schumer (left) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (right), has been named interim chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Democrats have named Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as the interim chair for the House Oversight and Reform Committee last Thursday following the death of Representative Elijah Cummings, who played an active role in the impeachment inquiry as the committee’s chair.

Maloney is a senior Democrat on the panel and the New York Times noted last week that her appointment as acting chairwoman is in line with House rules. A permanent leader of the committee is expected to be elected at a later time, a senior Democratic leadership aide said.

Local elected officials lauded the news of Maloney’s appointment while paying tribute to Cummings.

“While we all mourn the loss of Congressmember Cummings, I am reassured by Congressmember Maloney’s appointment as interim Chair,” Assemblymember Harvey Epstein said. “Congresswoman Maloney is dedicated to protecting our democracy and I am confident that she will carry out what is necessary to move forward with impeachment inquiries.”

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Week in Review: Oct. 17

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Carlina Rivera last week announced the publication of the final report on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) by independent consultant Deltares, hired for the review of the project last month. In her Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) recommendation, Brewer requested an independent environmental expert to review the ESCR Project and prepare comments regarding the City’s Preferred Alternative 4 proposal and the other three alternative designs. The independent review by Deltares was led by Dr. Hans Gehrels.

Among the findings in the report, which studied resiliency in the Alternative 3 and Alternative 4 designs, are: the need for improving transparency and stakeholder engagement; ongoing monitoring for air quality impacts to be made available publicly; release of city documents that provide evidence for the analysis underlying the Final Environmental Impact Statement; further investigation of Interim Flood Protection Measures (IFPM) during the construction period; phased construction for continued use of of portions of the park with additional open space mitigation; and additional clean fill for future flood protection against sea-level rise. The full report can be viewed online.

Parents at PS 116 expressed concern on Monday about the school at 210 East 33rd Street being opened as a voting site by the Board of Elections for early voting for 10 days starting at the end of this month. Parents said that there was no warning about the school being chosen, since the mayor’s office initially proposed high schools and universities but PS 116, an elementary school, was not included on the initial lists. One parent noted that identification is usually required to enter the school building but while it is open for early voting, an unknown number of people will be allowed to enter the school without being checked. 

PS 116 will be the early voting site for Peter Cooper Village residents, where early voting will be available starting on Saturday, October 26 through Sunday, November 3. Early voting for Stuy Town residents will be at the Clinton School for Writers and Artists at 10 East 15th Street.

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Maloney recovering after brief hospitalization

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, pictured here at a press conference this summer, nearly fainted during a vigil on Monday for the four homeless men who were killed in Chinatown over the weekend. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is recovering after a brief hospitalization on Monday following an incident during a vigil on Monday, later clarifying that she has been recovering from bronchitis.

The New York Post reported that Maloney nearly fainted while attending the vigil, which was held for the four homeless men who were killed in Chinatown over the weekend.

Maloney, 73, was escorted to a nearby bench, where a staffer pressed a bottle of Coke to the back of her neck. The Daily News reported that the Congresswoman was on the verge of blacking out and told a staffer that she felt pain and couldn’t see. A staffer from City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office called 911 and Maloney was transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

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Stuyvesant Town resident challenging Maloney

Stuy Town resident Peter Harrison (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town resident Peter Harrison is the latest candidate to challenge Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for her seat in the 12th District, with a campaign centered on the housing crisis.

“I’m a housing person, both as an activist and as a policy person,” he said. “And there’s a moment right now in this district to talk about housing as this lens for other major, major issues. The narrative of the campaign really is centered on housing as this focal point for talking about economic justice, climate justice and racial justice.”

Harrison moved in Stuy Town as a market-rate tenant in 2009 with some friends and less than a year later, they received a letter saying that they were members of the Roberts class-action lawsuit. That prompted him to get involved with the STPCV Tenants Association.

“There was an amazing opportunity to learn how to organize tenants because it was a ton of effort, and a huge capacity left for the TA,” he said. “So I really got thrown in, became a building captain and was knocking on hundreds and hundreds of doors, learning a lot about it.”

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Attorney running to unseat Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Erica Vladimer (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Attorney Erica Vladimer still has a long way to go before the Congressional Primary next June, but she’s ready to challenge longtime Congressmember Carolyn Maloney in the election for the District 12 seat after announcing her candidacy this past June. The district covers the East Side of Manhattan, including the East Village, parts of Midtown and the Upper East Side, as well as Long Island City and Astoria in Queens and Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

“I never fully intended to run for office, especially at this age, but if there’s ever been a time where a new generation needs to bring a new voice to all levels of government, this is it,” Vladimer said of her campaign. “And it gutturally feels right.”

Vladimer, 32, filed her paperwork to run on June 3 but was also in the news at the beginning of last year after she accused State Senator Jeff Klein of forcibly kissing her outside a bar in Albany while she was a member of his staff. She left his office in 2015 and said that she thought she had put it behind her, but felt differently when she started hearing about the accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

“I will forever carry that with me,” she said of the incident. “Other people who were harassed, I feel that I played some role in it because I didn’t speak out.”

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Senate passes 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, joined by US Senator Charles Schumer (left) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (right), cheered the passage of the legislation in the House earlier this month.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The bill to make the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund permanent passed in the Senate by a vote of 97 to 2 on Tuesday, following its passage by an overwhelming majority in the House earlier this month.

Following the bill’s passage in the House on July 12, lead sponsor Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call for a vote in the Senate before the August recess during a press conference across from the World Trade Center memorial last Monday. During the event, Maloney donned an FDNY jacket gifted to her by the Fire Department, which she had pledged to wear at all events to raise awareness until this particular bill had passed.

“The true Twin Towers of New York are the FDNY and the NYPD, and fully funding and permanently authorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is the least we can do to honor their sacrifices,” Maloney said following the vote in the Senate. “I will not rest until the September 11th Victim Compensation Program is made permanent and we finally turn our promise to Never Forget into law. I hope the President signs this legislation quickly, so we can finally give these heroes the peace of mind they deserve.”

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Opinion: We will not lose the war on women

By Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney

In the nearly half a century since the Supreme Court affirmed in the historic Roe v. Wade decision that a woman’s right to an abortion was protected by the Constitution, we have seen countless attempts by abortion opponents to strip millions of women of this right. But this year has been especially shocking.

Since January, more than 300 anti-choice, anti-women bills have been introduced across the country. In numerous recent cases, states have passed legislation that would effectively be statewide abortion bans.

This is a war on women. And we will not go back.

One by one, these draconian laws are being struck down in the courts. But the threats to women’s healthcare persist. The legislators spearheading this legislative strategy are aiming to control women. They want to take away women’s right to make decisions about our own bodies. They want to shame women who make choices they don’t agree with or even imprison them and their doctors.

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