Opinion: Star Wars

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

The first Governor Cuomo (Mario) was fond of saying that “politicians campaign in poetry, but govern in prose.” What he meant was that political campaigns are filled with lofty sounding rhetoric, but leading a government takes practical and carefully detailed policies. The place to actually look for what public officials mean to do and their priorities is found in the budget each year. That is the vehicle to literally put your money where your mouth is.

Last week the legislature and the governor put the finishing touches on the state budget for the new Fiscal Year. It was passed during the Passover Seder and hours before Easter Sunday. One thing for sure: There was no candy for Mayor de Blasio in those Albany Easter eggs. Mostly just bitter herbs.

Andrew Cuomo, who has never been shy about reacting to real or perceived slights, is using his powers as governor to the fullest extent to belittle and damage Bill de Blasio. However, he is doing a disservice to the people of New York City. It does not matter how this rivalry began. It has morphed into full-scale war. To make things even more interesting, both men fancy themselves as the progressive champion and alternative to the policies of President Trump. And there is not enough space for two such gargantuan egos in the same room or from the same state.

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What does the Democrats’ ‘unity’ deal mean for tenants?

Apr12 Cousins Cuomo Klein

Senate Democrat Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein (Photo courtesy of governor’s office)

Following what is being touted as Senate Democratic chamber reunification, Town & Village reached out to Michael McKee of TenantsPAC. He outlined the scenario as it is likely to play out in an op-ed while also sharing his thoughts on the reason for the governor’s sudden insistence on reunification.

“Everything comes down to two words. Cynthia Nixon,” said McKee. “Andrew’s scared to death and trying to hide it and he’s not fooling anyone.”

As for the Independent Democratic Conference’s sudden demise, read on, but, warned McKee, “We’ve been down this road before.”

 

By Michael McKee, treasurer, Tenants Political Action Committee

In a stunning development, Governor Andrew Cuomo has persuaded Jeff Klein and his fellow turncoat members of the Independent Democratic Conference not only to rejoin the mainstream Democratic conference but also to dissolve the IDC.

This is a huge political defeat for Jeff Klein, who up to now has insisted that while he was open to a reunification deal, the IDC would continue as a separate conference and he would be co-leader with Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Now he has agreed to disband the IDC, and accept a lower position as Andrea’s deputy.

Why? Because Andrew Cuomo, Jeff Klein, and the other turncoat senators are scared of losing their jobs this year. This is a perfect illustration of how grassroots political pressure can produce results. While Klein and Cuomo are desperate to lessen the pressure on them, we need to keep the pressure on – and increase it.

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Letters to the editor, Apr. 5

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Fight for rent regs important this year

The City Council renewed our NYC Rent Control and NYC Rent Stabilization laws on March 22. “Ho Hum,” you may say, “the City does that every three years.” True as the Council’s triennial renewal of these rent laws is, I put to you that this year is markedly different. How so?

This year the NYC laws’ renewal was led by our new Council Speaker, Corey Johnson. I attended Johnson’s inauguration on Jan. 28 and on the topic of tenant rent justice I found him electrifying.  He saw clearly that the fight is in Albany and he has committed to lead the vanguard from NYC to strengthen protections.

At his inauguration he pointedly said  “Furthermore, working with my partners in state government, I pledge to help lead the fight to press Albany to not only renew our rent laws, but to finally – once and for all – close the loopholes that are allowing landlords to deregulate thousands of affordable apartments every year.”

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Editorial: Cuomo should be worried

After a brief period of gauging the public’s response to a Governor Miranda, award-winning actress Cynthia Nixon made her candidacy as a primary challenger to Governor Andrew Cuomo official.

On Monday, her slick campaign website with a logo touting Cynthia for New York was launched, followed by a press conference in Brooklyn the next day. What came next was that former mayoral candidate and fellow high-profile lesbian Christine Quinn criticized Nixon (who supported Quinn’s opponent, Bill de Blasio in 2013) as being unqualified. While it may have just come off as being a bitter taunt from a losing candidate, Quinn does have a point.

Other than her activism for equality in education and LGBT rights, the Broadway veteran known best for her role on TV’s “Sex and the City,” is a political outsider. We know, we know, this wasn’t a problem for our president, whose reality TV history obviously helped him rather than hurt him. However, in New York, the races for local office can get pretty competitive and governor is a pretty high-reaching role for someone who’s never served in a public capacity.

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Gore and Cuomo get down and clean in energy talk

Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

By Michelle Deal Winfield

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both rolled out their vision of how to provide clean energy throughout New York State at a discussion hosted by New York University.

Hundreds attended the event on Friday, which was held at NYU’s Washington Square South Kimmel Center.

Gore, who received thundering applause upon stepping up to the podium, described how New York can help reclaim its environment by reducing fossil fuels. In 2011, 143 countries became involved in Gore’s Climate Reality Project which educates and advocates for climate change. He reiterated how scientifically, it’s known that the use of fossil fuels disrupts the water cycles. The North Pole and Artic regions are spilling out due to increased temperatures. The recent hurricanes are increasing every six months. Gore listed the following suggestions: 1) adding solar panels, 2) wind turbines and 3) the use of electric vehicles.

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TenantsPAC, on Cynthia Nixon for governor, says: Anyone but Cuomo

Cynthia Nixon

Update: Cynthia Nixon has announced that she is officially a candidate for governor.

By Sabina Mollot

Recently, actress Cynthia Nixon spoke with experts about a possible run for governor, according to numerous published reports. It’s also been reported that Governor Andrew Cuomo has since slammed the potential candidate as not being serious, figuring the move must have been orchestrated by his old adversary, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who Nixon has been a supporter of.

We reached out to TenantsPAC to see how the organization would feel about a Governor Nixon, and the response, from spokesperson and treasurer Mike McKee was not a surprise.

“I’m ABC,” said McKee, the acronym for which naturally stands for “anyone but Cuomo.”

“He’s been a complete failure on tenants’ rights and has failed to pass fundamental protections even though he gives lip service,” said McKee. “Actions speak louder than words.”

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Child Victims bill gets boost from governor and Me Too founder

Me Too founder Tarana Burke

By Sabina Mollot

It’s been a good week for the Child Victims Act, legislation sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman that would significantly expand the statue of limitations survivors of sex abuse have to file charges. Currently, they have until the age of 23. Under the legislation, they’d have until 50 for civil cases, 28 for criminal ones.

On Monday, the founder of the Me Too movement, Tarana Burke, said the bill had her support as a survivor of sexual abuse herself.

She told The Daily News that “The origins of the Me Too movement are rooted in the protection of children.”

While actually a decade old, the Me Too movement became a household hashtag last October during the Harvey Weinstein scandal when celebrities encouraged other victims to come forward.

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Opinion: Divide and conquer

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

When a vacancy in a state legislative office occurs just before the start of a new session in January, it is customary for the governor to set a special election as early in the new year as possible. Otherwise, constituents from that district are deprived of representation in Albany.

Given the fact that the critical work on the state budget occurs in the months before April, it is even more imperative that vacancies in the State Assembly or State Senate be filled ASAP.

I was elected to the Assembly in a special election on February 14, 1978 when my predecessor left his Assembly seat in the middle of his term on December 31, 1977. Similarly, when I retired from the Assembly at the end of 2005, my successor was also elected to fill my vacant seat in February.

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Letters to the editor, July 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cluttered ballot? It could be worse

Re: “Not everyone should have a shot,” letter by Billy Sternberg, T&V, June 29

In the dark days of NYC politics, there were a select few making back-room deals to further their personal goals and enrich themselves over the people. Corruption and cronyism were rampant. Reformers lifted the veil on these political fixes and enabled candidates from all backgrounds to successfully run grass-roots campaigns to allow voters to decide who gets to represent us.

Volunteers from the Samuel J. Tilden club have been carrying nominating petitions in ST/PCV and the neighborhood for the past six weeks. These petitions allow for candidates to appear on the ballot, and to ultimately present themselves before the voters who will be able to make a choice of who among those running will be our next representative.

While there are several people who have announced their candidacy to replace the term-limited Mr. Garodnick, it is this diversity of choice that keeps the process transparent and free from corruption. It is now the difficult task of these candidates to earn our votes.

We encourage everyone to participate in the process and become informed citizens by participating in the political discourse. Go to a forum, ask questions of the candidates and understand their individual experiences and capabilities.

This is how we should elect our next political leaders: out in the open.

Sandro Sherrod and Louise Dankberg,
District Leaders 74th AD

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T&V asks teens about governor’s free CUNY tuition proposal

Interviews by Maya Rader

Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed making tuition free at CUNY and SUNY colleges for students with households earning under $125,000. Town & Village asked students at Clinton High School for Writers and Artists if this would impact where they choose to go to school.

feb9-clinton-george

George Weathers III
“I feel that I would probably want to stay in the city or the state rather than go outside and spend more money. My parent does not make over 125 thousand dollars, so I would want to get the free education.”

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Opinion: The hubris of Andrew Cuomo

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Andrew Cuomo will not be outdone or outmaneuvered, that is for sure. As Governor of the State of New York, Cuomo has stood astride State government in a manner not seen since Nelson Rockefeller back in the 1960s. He has dominated every policy at the state level and has even tried to influence the political landscape in localities, especially New York City. For him politics is a win at any cost game. He does not take kindly to defeat nor to criticism of any kind. Humility is not part of his DNA although he tries mightily to conceal an arrogance that traces back to his father’s campaigns for Governor over 30 years ago.

In 1982 he was the hard edged and hard charging manager of Mario Cuomo’s political operations. Although he never admitted to it, he is credited with having been the inspiration behind the slanderous attacks on his father’s rival for governor, namely Ed Koch. “Vote for Cuomo not the Homo” signs appeared throughout the conservative boroughs of Queens and Staten Island days before the Democratic Primary for Governor. Mario Cuomo won that campaign and went on to distinguish himself as a progressive governor for twelve years. Ed Koch continued as mayor until he was defeated in 1989 by David Dinkins.

Andrew Cuomo pursued his own political career by joining the Bill Clinton administration. In 2002 he took a premature shot at running for governor but flamed out. He made a comeback four years later and was elected attorney general, and then governor in 2010 after the Eliot Spitzer debacle.

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Opinion: The late great Andrew Cuomo

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

After decades of late state budgets and years of sleepy gubernatorial ineptitude, including one governor who was forced to resign following a prostitution scandal, Andrew Cuomo came roaring into the Albany State House vowing to change things. Almost six years later one must wonder what has happened to that guy?

His first term was punctuated with bold and aggressive action. It was “I won’t take no for an answer” style of leadership. Cuomo negotiated six consecutive on time budgets saving local governments millions of dollars. He reigned in Medicaid overspending costs which was threatening to bankrupt the state treasury with its yearly double digit increases. He limited property tax hikes, saving homeowners a bundle. He pushed a recalcitrant Republican State Senate to pass a marriage equality law legalizing gay unions and new restrictions on the sale of guns and ammunition just days following the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

But faced with the greatest crisis of public confidence in state government history, Governor Cuomo seems to have lost his nerve and his edge. The last number of years have seen a parade of public officials, mostly from the state legislature, indicted or convicted of felonies and abuse of their official positions. It culminated with the conviction and ouster of the leaders of the State Assembly and the State Senate, one a Democrat and one a Republican. Each now faces years in prison.

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How a Stuy Town veteran helped get pension buyback law signed

July14 Alperstein

Jerry Alperstein, of the Jewish War Veterans Post 1, had sent out a memo to legislators urging them to expand opportunities for veteran pension buybacks over a decade ago and has since seen a bill signed into law. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

New York’s veterans who will soon be eligible for a new pension buyback, through legislation recently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, can thank a Stuyvesant Town veteran for the opportunity.

Jerry Alperstein, a Vietnam War Navy veteran, 72, and original Stuyvesant Town resident, had been pushing the legislation since 2005. This is when he, then serving as the legislative chair of the Jewish War Veterans of New York Post 1, sent a proposal memo to members of the state Assembly. A year later, Assembly Member Amy Paulin, of Scarsdale, signed on as a sponsor of a bill and in 2007, then-State Senator Vincent Leibel became a sponsor in that chamber.

During a recent interview, Alperstein explained that this bill will allow all veterans who served honorably and are employed by the State of New York, its municipalities or its school districts in perpetuity to buy back up to three years of military time toward their pension while still employed.

According to Alperstein, the law brings New York State more in line with most other states in their consideration for veterans who are public employees. Prior to its signing, which happened on May 31, there were other pension buyback opportunities, but they were time-limited to the point that many people they were intended for found themselves unable to collect.

A 1976 law gave the buyback only to World War II veterans; but those who were public employees on 20-year retirement had already retired and were no longer eligible to buy back. A 2000 law only applied to those who served during specified periods of armed conflict.  This meant that virtually all Korean War veterans had already retired as were the Vietnam War veterans on 20-year retirements.

“That’s a reprehensible history of buybacks,” said Alperstein. “They called the Korean War the forgotten war and that’s exactly what it was.”

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Albany does little on ethics reforms

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Senator Hoylman)

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Senator Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

In a recent interview with State Senator Brad Hoylman, Town & Village reported on Albany’s refusal to pass any LGBT protections or stronger gun control legislation this past legislative session.

But those aren’t the only bills left collecting dust on the floor of the State Senate. There are also ethics reforms.

On those proposed reforms, just one major measure did pass, Hoylman reported, which would strip any elected official convicted of corruption of his or pension. However, he said, this will have to be approved again next session and then sent to voters for their approval, as well as “some disclosure provisions for groups engaging in independent expenditures.”

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Opinion: Talking the talk

By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Bill de Blasio is in double trouble. I have always liked him as a decent person. But his administration faces allegations of corruption, cronyism and election finance violations with possible criminal referrals. Those legal issues would be enough to deal with. But the mayor and his administration face an equally damning political charge of hypocrisy. The latter could prove to be fatal for his mayoralty.

The voters are used to a bit of skulduggery on the part of the ruling class. Politics is not missionary work and politicians are not saints. That has been true since the beginning of time. However, voters do expect at a minimum a level of competence and a modicum of trust that when a politician says something he or she will follow through. When officials hold themselves out to be paragons of virtue and then do the opposite they can rightfully expect the wrath of their constituents.

Bill Clinton was a case in point. Voters knew that he was a bit of a rogue and that he practiced politics without pretending that he was an exemplar of ethical behavior. So they forgave him his lapses. But Bill de Blasio promised that he was above all that. A different kind of politician who eschewed political deal-making and promised to reform the political process and its campaign finance practices, and to have an administration that was totally transparent and accountable. Uh-oh.

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