City Council supports Hoylman’s TRUMP Act

City Councilmember Andrew Cohen with State Senator Brad Hoylman and Councilmember Mark Levine (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Thursday, State Senator Brad Hoylman announced the introduction of City Councilmember Andrew Cohen’s resolution urging the state legislature to pass Hoylman’s bill requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in New York. Cohen, whose district is in the Bronx, joined Hoylman on the steps of City Hall for the announcement, along with Councilmember Mark Levine, whose district is in northern Manhattan.

Hoylman noted that it isn’t a coincidence the legislation, known as the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public (T.R.U.M.P.) Act, shares its name with the president, “but it did take a very long time to come up with it,” he admitted.

The senator argued that the legislation is important because President Trump broke a 40-year tradition in which presidential candidates make their sources of income and other financial information available to the public.

“Another reason it’s important is that presidents aren’t subject to conflict of interest laws,” Hoylman said. “What is he hiding? He could be getting money from Russian oligarchs. Voters need that information to vote intelligently.”

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Maloney warns seniors about possible repeal of ACA

Crowd at the Stein Center (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Crowd at the Stein Center (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is putting seniors on alert about how a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) would affect their drug prices.

“(The ACA) is helpful to seniors and it would be dangerous to repeal it,” Maloney told seniors at the Stein Center on Friday. “It would threaten the economy, children and seniors. Healthcare is better under the ACA and seniors have more protections.”

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Opinion: Big Plastic wins, environment loses

By State Senator Brad Hoylman

The winner in Albany’s repeal of the City’s “bring your own bag” law earlier this month wasn’t your average shopper who would have been charged 5 cents per plastic bag – although opponents of the law would like you to believe that.  No, the biggest beneficiary in the year-long showdown between the State Legislature and City Hall over plastic bags was Big Plastic — the plastics industry itself.

Big Plastic is represented by two shadowy groups that have spent millions nationwide to defeat bag laws just like New York City’s, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and American Chemistry Council. ALEC, a consortium of right-wing state legislators, works as a clearinghouse for model pro-business state legislation, ranging from weakening labor unions to loosening environmental regulations, like rolling back restrictions on plastic bags. ALEC is bankrolled by the American Chemistry Council, which also lobbies for Big Plastic on behalf of petroleum and plastics industry companies like Shell, Exxon Mobile and DuPont.

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T&V asks: Will you watch inauguration?

By Sabina Mollot

While some recent news stories have indicated tickets to the presidential inauguration, set to take place on Friday, have been getting scooped up rather slowly, the event is still sure to be what most Americans will be tuning into on television. For Republicans, it’s an opportunity go out to a local bar and celebrate with likeminded people, watching the president get sworn in on a big screen while raising big mugs. For Democrats too, drinking is likely to be involved, with voters drowning their sorrows any time the president says “huge” or accuses a news report of being fake.

This week, Town & Village asked around in the community to see who planned on watching the ceremony.

Asked if he’d be watching, Frank Scala, a Stuyvesant Town resident and president of the Albano Republican Club, said he would be.

He’d actually been invited to see the inauguration live, but won’t be able to make it. Reached at the Fifth Avenue barber shop he owns and operates, Scala explained he’ll be working that day and needs to stay open late.

So instead, he’ll be watching the event at home. Scala also admitted he’s a little concerned about how Trump will present himself as president on the big day. During the race, the Albano Club shifted from Manhattan GOP by not endorsing Trump or any other candidate.

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Editorial: Albany gets even less transparent

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State Senator Brad Hoylman is opposed to the new policy. (Photo courtesy of Senator Hoylman)

Last week, State Senator Brad Hoylman, a frequent critic of his own chamber in Albany, posted a photo of that very chamber on his Twitter feed. It would likely be the last photo he’d be posting of the place, he revealed, thanks to a new rule voted in by the Republican majority to ban photo-taking there by anyone except official Senate photographers. This means lawmakers, members of the press and members of the public will from now on be made to ask permission first any time they think it’s important to record a moment, whether it’s of a vote or debate or any other relevant thing happening.

The vote came shortly after Congress proposed a similar policy to fine members for taking photos or livestreaming from the House floor.

The reasoning for the Senate rule, according to its sponsor, is that photo-taking and other cell phone use is disruptive during proceedings.

Fortunately, Hoylman has recognized this weak argument for what it is, an excuse to further shroud the legislative process in secrecy, since apparently having all major decisions impacting the state made by three men in a room just isn’t enough. Asked what inspired his colleagues to start 2017 with even less transparency than in prior years, Hoylman guessed it has to do with the fact that sometimes, other than candid photos of hands in the air that end up on social media, there’s no publicly available record of who voted for what. And many would like to keep it that way.

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Mayor aims to create science jobs on East Side and in L.I. City

Mayor Bill de Blasio with other elected officials and speakers at an announcement at the Alexandria Science Research Center in Kips Bay. (Pictured) Dr. Vicki Sato, Dr. Harold Varmus, President of the Economic Development Corporation Maria Torres-Springer, Teeba Jihad, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

Mayor Bill de Blasio with other elected officials and speakers at an announcement at the Alexandria Science Research Center in Kips Bay. (Pictured) Dr. Vicki Sato, Dr. Harold Varmus, President of the Economic Development Corporation Maria Torres-Springer, Teeba Jihad, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

By Michelle Deal Winfield

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan that he says will create 16,000 new jobs in life sciences and bio-engineering in New York City.

He made the announcement at the Alexandria Science Research Center in Kips Bay, alongside local elected officials.

The mayor paid homage to former Mayor Bloomberg saying, “We are taking a page from the former mayor’s playbook. Mayor Bloomberg diversified investments to help set up the Cornell Tech Center on Roosevelt Island. It worked. The city will invest in emerging companies to create innovative approaches that will lead to improvements in the health industry. We decided to look for spaces on the East Side in Manhattan and in Long Island City.”

Maria Torres-Springer, president of NYC Economic Development Corporation said the project is expected to generate 9,000 jobs in the life sciences.

“Seven thousand new jobs will be created in related fields like marketing, advertising and training,” she said. “There will also be 7,500 jobs in construction to set up labs.”

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‘Jew man’ graffiti seen across from Stuy Town

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he's seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he’s seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

By Sabina Mollot

As local elected officials have pointed out, bias crimes are on the rise since the election nationwide.

The community has been seeing its fair share too. Yesterday, Council Member Dan Garodnick snapped a photo of anti-semitic graffiti across from Stuyvesant Town.

“Hate crimes spiking since the election,” Garodnick tweeted on Monday. “This graffiti now appears across from StuyTown & local synagogue (Town and Village). We can’t let this become the new normal.”

Garodnick later said he had never before seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community. He also said this was the only recent incident he was aware of.

The graffiti, above the Papaya hot dog storefront on First Avenue and 14th Street, depicts the spray painted words “Jew man” accompanied by crude drawings of smiley faces with side locks, which are worn by religious Jewish men. It was spray painted large enough to be easily seen from across the street.

The incident comes three weeks after State Senator Brad Hoylman saw two swastikas scratched into the door of the building where he lives in Greenwich Village.

Additionally, a Muslim Baruch College student was harassed on the train at 23rd Street last weekend by men who were trying to grab her hijab and yelling “Donald Trump” and anti-Muslim slurs, according to a Daily News report.

UPDATE: According to a Stuy Town resident, the graffiti didn’t happen post-election. The tipster told T&V she first spotted the spray-painted sentiment in the middle of October.

Hoylman warns Vision Zero could face some opposition from Albany

By Sabina Mollot

Vision Zero, the mayor’s traffic safety initiative, was the subject of a discussion between the mayor and local seniors at the Stein Center on Monday.

The mayor made a last minute appearance at the center, alongside State Senator Brad Hoylman.

Hoylman is also trying to push the agenda in Albany, where many of the city’s traffic regulations are ultimately decided.

However, prior to the discussion (which was closed to press) Hoylman noted there is the chance the mayor could face some political pushback in Albany on traffic safety from Senate Republicans. This would be keeping in tradition with some political payback for the mayor’s effort in 2014 to flip the Republican-controlled Senate.

“We shouldn’t have to go to Albany every time we want to change the speed limits,” said Hoylman. Meanwhile, he added, “More people are killed by (traffic accidents) than a gun.”

The senator said he is trying to get more speed cameras and lower speed limits in more areas, in particular in front of more schools. Another goal is to get large trucks to install side guards to protect pedestrians.

Op-Ed: The Election 2016: The fight we had and the battles to come

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Council Member Dan Garodnick, his wife Zoe Segal-Reichlin, and their sons Asher and Devin on the campaign trail

 

By City Council Member Dan Garodnick

Like most New Yorkers, I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the presidential election. Hillary Clinton won nearly 80 percent of the vote in Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, and the nationwide popular vote by more than 2 million votes.  Despite this result, she won’t be occupying the Oval Office in January.  

I am further disturbed and outraged by the uptick in hate crimes and bias incidents that have been taking place across the United States and in our own backyard. A swastika was recently carved into a door in the apartment building our own State Senator, Brad Hoylman. Hate crimes against Muslims in New York City have doubled from 2015 to 2016. A terrifying, homophobic death threat was sent to an openly gay colleague of mine, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens. This is shameful, unacceptable, and not the city I know.

It’s also not the country I saw as I campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

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Swastikas scratched into door at Hoylman’s building

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Photo taken by State Senator Brad Hoylman of a swastika found at his building

 

By Sabina Mollot

Only days after dorm rooms at the New School were defaced with swastikas, the Nazi symbol was carved into a door at a West Village building where State Senator Brad Hoylman lives.

Two swastikas were discovered by one of Hoylman’s neighbors on the second floor of the building on Tuesday.

Hoylman is gay and has a Jewish husband and daughter. He also has plans to convert to Judaism. However, he doesn’t believe the swastikas were directed at him, since they were on the elevator door on a floor he doesn’t live on. They’ve since been sanded down and removed.

The building does have surveillance cameras, which Hoylman said he hopes will help catch the perpetrator. The incident is being investigated by police and Mayor Bill de Blasio has also taken notice. After seeing Hoylman post on Twitter about the incident, de Blasio responded to say the city had no tolerance for anti-Semitic acts.

“@bradhoylman, millions of New Yorkers stand with you tonight against anti-Semitism. Hate has no place in our city #notinourcity,” he tweeted.

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800 ST/PCV residents who qualify for SCRIE/DRIE haven’t enrolled

City pushing rent freeze programs on East Side

Last Thursday, Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha and Council Member Dan Garodnick announced that citywide, eligible seniors and disabled tenants aren’t taking advantage of an available rent freeze, especially in Stuyvesant Town and along the East Side of Manhattan. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Last Thursday, Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha and Council Member Dan Garodnick announced that citywide, eligible seniors and disabled tenants aren’t taking advantage of an available rent freeze, especially in Stuyvesant Town and along the East Side of Manhattan. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Thursday, the city rolled out what’s it’s calling East Side Rent Freeze Month, a series of events in October aimed at getting eligible New Yorkers signed up for programs that would exempt them from rent hikes, including MCIs (major capital improvements).

The reason for the push was that in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village alone, 800 eligible tenants have yet to sign up for the programs. According to Jacques Jiha, the city’s finance commissioner, the number of eligible people citywide is 80,000, and many of them are East Siders.

“The East Side of Manhattan has the highest number of eligible participants,” said Jiha, as he stood outside Stuyvesant Town’s Community Center with local elected officials and tenants for a press conference. “During the month we’ll sign up as many eligible seniors and people with disabilities as possible.”

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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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Tenants and owners blast Airbnb at RGB hearing

Joanne Joemelti

An East Village resident, Joanne Joemelti, argues that tenants shouldn’t be punished because of the ones that use Airbnb. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With just a week to go before the mayor’s Rent Guidelines Board votes on the year’s increases for roughly one million people, the city’s stabilized renters, both tenants and landlords went before the board to argue why they needed a break — in rent rollbacks or rent increases high enough to cover operating costs, respectively. The usual reasons for both were mentioned: desperate tenants citing stagnant wages while rent increases have steadily been granted until last year’s historic freeze, and owners blaming soaring real estate taxes and other factors like water/sewer fees and building maintenance.

But one thing both sides had in common was a mutual loathing for the increasingly common practice of short-term rentals.

Tenants brought up owners who flout the law to rent vacant units to tourists since it’s more lucrative than monthly rent and doubles as a form of harassment to longtime renters who’ve lost a sense of safety and community. Meanwhile, equally frustrated owners lamented how tenants live elsewhere, while paying under market rent and earning a windfall through Airbnb.

The arguments were made at the auditorium of the Cooper Union building on Monday afternoon. Tenants and landlords lined up to speak along with several elected officials at an RGB hearing.

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Hoylman takes aim at building demolitions as tool to oust tenants

State Senator Brad Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By Sabina Mollot

Under current law, landlords can oust tenants from a building by claiming they’re going to be demolishing it.

However, the owner wouldn’t necessarily face any penalties if that demolition never ended up happening, and State Senator Brad Hoylman has said he is looking into changing this.

The topic of ousting tenants, particularly lower rent paying ones under this scheme was recently covered in an article in The Real Deal. The article focused on a talk given by landlord attorney Michelle Maratto Itkowitz in which she discussed the practice, saying that as far as she knew, building owners have not faced penalties for not making good on a demolition plan following the evictions. That said, she warned an owner might be sued “by a nasty person with a grudge,” yet also stressed that landlords who try to harass tenants out of their homes were looking for trouble, like the recently arrested Steven Croman.

After seeing the article, Hoylman, told Town & Village he was “researching the issue” and noted that in his district, on the East Side as well as the West Side, he’d seen demolitions and questioned their legality due to their having been done “without appropriate permits.”

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No ethics reforms for Albany

The Senate Democrats vote on closure of the LLC Loophole, which failed to make it into the budget. State Senator Brad Hoylman called the budget process unchanged since the Silver and Skelos scandals.  (Photo by State Senator Brad Hoylman)

The Senate Democrats vote on closure of the LLC Loophole, which failed to make it into the budget. State Senator Brad Hoylman called the budget process unchanged since the Silver and Skelos scandals. (Photo by State Senator Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

After an all-nighter in the Capitol, Governor Cuomo signed off on a budget that included none of the ethics reforms he claimed he’d be willing to pass during his state of the state address in January.

Those reforms included closure of the LLC Loophole, which currently allows nearly limitless donations from limited liability corporations, limiting legislators’ outside income and stripping pensions from any legislator who’s found guilty of corruption.

Following the 17-hour session that led to the budget’s signing on Friday morning, a groggy State Senator Brad Hoylman told Town & Village that even after two major scandals last year, nothing’s changed in Albany when it’s time for negotiations.

“The budget process doesn’t lend itself to transparency,” said Hoylman. “It’s still the same three men in a room.”

He then blamed the Republican majority in his own house for not allowing the proposed reforms to reach the floor.

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