This is a reference to Brian Loesch’s letter to the newspaper (“Enough from the squirrels’ PR people,” T&V, Oct. 26).
His letter is very full of nonsense. All over New York City, squirrels seek food in garbage cans. This does not only occur in Stuy Town. Where are the squirrels supposed to go – to McDonald’s? If Mr. Loesch does not like it here, he can move out of the complex and let some poor family move in. I hope that he does no harm to the squirrels.
Thanks for the wake-up call
Not sure what is going on but at this time of the night (3 a.m.). I am hearing intermittent back-up alarms. When I get up all I can see from my home is a flashing light on the backhoe in the construction site on Avenue C and East 13th street. Is the guard practicing operating it at this time of night?
Last night Con Ed had a delivery at 4 in the morning. With all of the structures they have built on the south side of the street, it is difficult for these tankers to maneuver and the back and forth of their trying to get into the docks is quite annoying at that time of the night.
Is it really necessary for such deliveries at that time?
Does this neighborhood need to be continuously subjected to this noise pollution?
Stuyvesant Town resident Joshua Thompson, formerly an employee of the Cory Booker administration in Newark, New Jersey, recently ditched a City Council campaign to run for mayor instead. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Back in February, Town & Village interviewed the first person to officially become a candidate for the City Council seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick. That individual was Joshua Thompson, a resident of Stuyvesant Town who previously worked for then-mayor Cory Booker in Newark, New Jersey as well as for the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. His platform, he admitted, was still in the works, but he considered education and affordable housing priorities. Then, in May, as T&V first reported, Thompson dropped out of the race, because he was running for mayor instead.
On a recent afternoon, Thompson met with a reporter to discuss his campaign and his surprising decision to run against an incumbent mayor (albeit an embattled one), as an unknown in the world of New York politics.
Asked if running for mayor was the plan from the beginning, Thompson said no. He’d been interested in running for the Council but later felt he wanted to help more under-served communities than those in the 4th District (which runs in a crooked, gerrymandered way from Stuyvesant Town to 96th Street along the East Side of Manhattan).
The list of possible contenders for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s seat just became a bit shorter. Council Member Dan Garodnick, whose name has been thrown around as a possible challenger for the position, denied that he was eyeing a run at the mayoral seat.
“No,” Garodnick said when asked at an event on Tuesday if he was going to run for mayor. The event was the B’nai B’rith luncheon, where he gave a presentation titled, “Midtown East Rezoning: What’s Next?”
Garodnick, a Democrat who is serving his third term as a council member, has remained vague about his future plans. Previously, he ran for comptroller, bowing out after Scott Stringer declared his candidacy. Stringer eventually defeated Eliot Spitzer for the position. In 2013, he conceded in his bid for the city council speaker seat, resulting in a unanimous vote for Melissa Mark-Viverito. Term limits prohibit him from seeking re-election next year.
Undecided republican voters Aaron and Dorothy Wilkinson Photo by Sabina Mollot
By Sabina Mollot
The primary for the mayoral election as well as other citywide positions is right around the corner, but in Peter Cooper Village (always an area with impressive voter turnout), residents are still saying they don’t know who they’ll be voting for.
A Town & Village reporter cornered people who were minding their own business, sitting out on the benches this week, to ask about who they think they’ll choose. In response, all those interviewed said they had no idea or were still on the fence about a couple of candidates. Most also seemed unimpressed by the current crop of candidates running for mayor.
One senior couple, Paul and Gerry Singer, said they’d been following news about the upcoming primary to some degree. However, due to their having just moved to PCV from Nassau County, were at this time ineligible to vote.
Still, Gerry said she was torn between current frontrunners Public Advocate Bill De Blasio and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
“I like what they have to say,” she said. “Whether it’s true or not I won’t find out unfortunately until after one of them is elected.”
“It’s very hard to choose,” said Paul. The candidates “will say, ‘We’re going to stop stop-and-frisk, but they don’t say how. They make a lot of statements and they expect you to trust them upfront.”
Frances Jivekian, who worked in catering until retiring recently, said, “I’d vote for Bloomberg if he was running again.” That said, she was not a big fan of the bike lanes he instituted, blasting the one on First Avenue as dangerous. As for the current candidates, “I’m still undecided, but I will probably vote for Quinn,” said Jivekian. “She’s my favorite. I like the woman and I’m a democrat. I don’t like that other guy, that big guy,” she said in reference to the towering de Blasio.
Pal Brenda Satzman, who until recently worked in floral design, said she isn’t going to be voting. She normally doesn’t vote in mayoral or gubernatorial races anyway, “unless there’s a character I’m interested in. I know the issues are very important but who’s going to be listening to those issues?”
She, too, said she likes the current mayor but said none of the current candidates stands out for her.
Heidi Clever, who works in the fashion industry, said education is a deciding issue for her when voting. At this time, she’s torn between de Blasio and Quinn.
Quinn, who has recently proposed opening five new technology/science schools for girls, has, through the Council, expanded pre-K by 10,000 seats and made kindergarten mandatory.
De Blasio wants to create universal pre-k, create after school programs for middle schoolers and also supports the expansion of tech education.
“I’m not sure how they’re going to deliver though so I want to do more research and I haven’t had a chance to do that yet,” said Clever. “I have a son in school so school (is the issue) for me.”
Clever’s friend Jacqueline Farmer said she was also considering de Blasio or Quinn, and that she too has school aged kids, 10 and 18.
“So that’s big for me,” said Farmer, also a full-time student herself at CUNY Hunter, studying English and political science. Farmer said she likes that De Blasio wants to put more money into CUNY (financed by taking tax subsidies away from big companies). She also likes the candidate because of his interracial marriage and family. “I’m mixed and I think he would be understanding about minorities,” she said.
However, Farmer is also still leaning towards Quinn, because, “I’m a part-time feminist and I like that she’s a woman and she exposes her flaws. She doesn’t hide anything.”
Married couple Aaron and Dorothy Wilkinson said they were die-hard voters and voted whenever they could in a primary, being republicans. Both said they thought Bloomberg had done a good job but didn’t seem to have anything to say about the Republicans currently on the ballot.
“I’ll probably go for the one the Times endorsed, but I don’t remember his name,” Aaron, an engineer, admitted.
Dorothy, a retired teacher who taught at School “47”, agreed, saying she and Aaron always vote the same way. (For reference, the Times endorsed former MTA head Joe Lhota for the Republican side.)
Aaron also indicated he doesn’t care for de Blasio, due to his plan to fund pre-k seats by taxing the wealthy.
“He says he’s going to tax the rich, but he doesn’t define rich,” Aaron said, adding, “You betcha” when asked if he was concerned personally about a possible tax hike. (Reports have said this would mean New Yorkers earning over $500,000.)
Karl Guerie, a photographer who also does administrative work at the V.A. Medical Center, said, “I’m still debating.
“To be honest no one really stands out for me, so that’s why I’ll be waiting until the last minute to decide,” he said. “There’s nothing fresh, nothing new. There are different things they’re talking about but not enough to define the individuals. One person may be talking about stop-and-frisk. Someone else will say where they stand on housing. I believe it should be a complete package, but if that’s what you want, you may not end up voting at all. Sometimes it’s the lesser of the evils.”
Guerie added he will try to consider the city’s population at large when choosing. “When people say, ‘Who’s good for me?,’ it makes things difficult. I’d like to believe it’s bigger than me, the individual. Because what happens to all the people whose voices aren’t heard?”
Helen Sanders, a retiree and mom to former Assembly Member Steven Sanders, a Democrat who represented Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town for 28 years, said she too doesn’t know yet who she’ll be voting for.
“Right now no, I’m still deciding,” she said, adding that her son, now a lobbyist in Albany, doesn’t try to nudge her towards one candidate or another. But she said she will be voting. “Oh yes,” said Sanders. “I always vote.”
Last Wednesday, the candidates for mayor attempted to appeal to residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village by discussing the property’s and other tenant issues at the first-ever mayoral forum to be held by the Tenants Association.
All nine candidates were invited to participate at the event, which was held at Simon Baruch Middle School.
TA board Chair Susan Steinberg moderated the forum, attended by over 200 people, and posed questions to the eight candidates who attended, which included former New York City Council Member Sal Albanese (D), City Comptroller John Liu (D), former City Comptroller Bill Thompson (D), former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion (I), former US Representative Anthony Weiner (D), City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D), Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D) and businessman John Catsimatidis (R). Republican candidate and former MTA chairman Joe Lhota was invited but did not attend.
“The fact that this forum is so well attended by both residents and candidates shows that it’s an important time,” City Councilmember Dan Garodnick said at the outset of the event. “In January, we’ll have a new mayor so it’s important that we hear from all the candidates now.”
Garodnick set the tone of the event, noting that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had not wanted to get in
volved with the conflict between the tenants and Tishman Speyer in 2006 because it was a “private real estate transaction” and many of the candidates addressed this issue, as well as focusing on general affordable housing concerns.
A number of the candidates insisted that they would take a much more active stance than Mayor Bloomberg has in his decade in office, most specifically in terms of housing.
“We need a mayor who will stand with you and make sure affordable housing is part of what New York City is,” Thompson said. “Using the bully pulpit that I have, I would stand side by side as you purchase your homes. The sale (in 2006) was national news. It was an opportunity for the mayor to make a statement about affordable housing and he didn’t.”
Liu expressed similar concerns about the current mayor’s lax approach. “How can it have nothing to do with the mayor’s office when tens of thousands of New Yorkers are involved? It makes no sense,” he said. “It shows neglect and a dereliction of duty. I’m willing to engage actively. If companies want to take over where tens of thousands of tenants live, City Hall has to pay attention.”
Steinberg asked most of the candidates if and how they would help ST/PCV tenants in their efforts to purchase the property and all said that they supported the plan while taking a more active role than Bloomberg has in the past.
“The mayor has the responsibility to intervene on behalf of the tenants,” Carrion said. “We can’t watch the market crush the middle class. It’s a shame that we’re in this situation, this bidding war. I support your efforts to buy the property but in a much shorter time frame than CW Capital is asking.”
Quinn said that as mayor, she would use a more hands-on approach as well when dealing with CW Capital.
“All the efforts so far haven’t worked yet but there is no bigger bully pulpit than the mayor’s office, save for the US President,” she said. “I will use that to bring CW Capital to the table. We would do it publicly.”
Weiner, like most of his opponents, said that he would be more involved in tenant issues than the current administration and would also support the tenant bid.
“There is too much at stake so I would take an active, not passive role, not just watching it play out. We need to make sure that someone is looking over the shoulder (of real estate developers),” he said. “There is a role for ownership but tenants should be able to continue to rent.” And while Weiner said that he would take a more active role in tenants’ issues, when asked about what he would have done during the Tishman Speyer deal, he said that he wouldn’t necessarily be the one calling the shots. “I would have had a presence at the table but would have left it to the residents,” he said.
Liu, Quinn, de Blasio and Thompson all noted that there are disparities between the tenants and the rent increases voted on by the Rent Guidelines Board in recent years and Albanese expressed support for the recent bill sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh that would give City Council more oversight when appointing members of the board.
“I would lead the tenant lobby and get the Urstadt Law repealed,” Quinn said. “There has been an erosion of tenant protection. We need to have power back here.”
Both Thompson and de Blasio called for more tenant representatives on the board.
“City Hall is supposed to think of the people who live here, not about the landlords,” de Blasio said.
Thompson added that there is a more urgent need for tenant representatives on the board due to the seeming disparities between the rent increases and landlord increases.
“The Rent Reform Campaign report said that the price index used by the Rent Guidelines Board is less accurate than what increases actually were,” he said. “We need more tenant-friendly people on the board.”
Weiner was one of the later candidates to speak and when he got to the stage, attracted a bit of attention due to his bright orange pants. His explanation for his fashion choice was that he’d worn them for a “West Village” audience. “I don’t normally dress like this but I just came from a rally in the West Village celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling against DOMA,” he said.
In his time at the podium, Catsimatidis made an attempt to appeal to a broad spectrum of residents, branding himself as a Republican Liberal. “I’m pro-business but I’m not going to give the streets back to the hoodlums,” he explained.
Public advocate candidates Daniel Squadron, Cathy Guerriero and Letitia James were also at the event.
At the Tenants Association Mayoral Forum, Anthony Weiner was asked about his 1994 City Council vote in favor of gutting rent regulations. His answer was dishonest.
Weiner defended that vote by telling only half a story while, at the same time, presenting a distorted view of NY’s rent regulation system. He portrayed his vote as being about taking rich people out of rent-regulated apartments.
He should know that under NY’s rent regulation system, the tenant isn’t regulated, the apartment is. So his vote took the wealthy tenant’s rent-regulated apartment out of the system (forever), not the tenant.
More importantly, he neglected to address the other, more devastating, part of the bill that has allowed landlords to permanently remove apartments from rent regulation when they become vacant.
Mike McKee of Tenants PAC met with Weiner in 1994. McKee says Weiner was one of the few City Council members who actually understood the bill’s dire consequences. Despite that and the promise he made to McKee and other tenant advocates not to vote for the bill, Weiner voted for it anyway.
Since Weiner’s 1994 vote, about 5,000 apartments have been deregulated thanks to the “luxury decontrol,” part of the bill of which he’s so proud. “Vacancy decontrol,” the other part of the bill that Weiner neglected to address, is responsible for the permanent deregulation of approximately 400,000 apartments and has led directly to the lousy situation we endure today in ST-PCV.
Every single voting resident of ST and PCV should remember this about Weiner come November.