Hoylman, Powers ask HCR why it approves all MCIs

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg, pictured at the podium, discusses MCIs at a Tenants Association meeting held in November, alongside local elected officials. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Fed up with the consistent approvals of major capital improvement (MCI) rent increases by the state’s housing agency, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg called on local elected officials last November to get the agency to stop what seemed to be a rubber stamping process. Or at least, Steinberg said, while hosting a meeting for neighbors, to explain the reasons for the approvals of every MCI ever applied for by the landlord, when the Tenants Association has challenged each and every one of them. She noted at the time that the agency, by its own regulations, was supposed to provide explanations for its decisions.

The two state elected officials sitting on the stage of the auditorium of MS 104, State Senator Brad Hoylman and then-Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, said they’d follow up.

Five months later, Hoylman, as well as new City Council Member Keith Powers, have penned a lengthy, legalese-filled letter to RuthAnne Visnauskas, the commissioner of the state housing agency, Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) that reiterates the TA’s arguments against the permanent rent increases.

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Budget funds golf tournament, but not tenant protections

State Senator Brad Hoylman voted no on numerous parts of the budget that were ultimately passed. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In the latest “Big Ugly,” the state budget released on Saturday morning yanked $4.5 million from tenant protections by completely de-funding the housing agency’s Tenant Protection Unit.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who voted no against that measure and numerous others included in the budget, blamed his own chamber for the move. However, he said he’s been assured the TPU will continue to be able to operate through emergency funding set aside by the governor, which was also done last year. Still, said Hoylman, “What kind of message does that send to New Yorkers? The budget is a real statement of our values.”

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled chamber saw fit to spend $3 million of taxpayer funds on an upstate golf tournament because, they said, it would create jobs and spur economic growth in the area.

In arguments that are now online on YouTube, Hoylman responded, “Four and half million dollars was cut from the budget. I’d like to see the Dick’s Sporting Goods money put into the Tenant Protection Unit.”

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Letter to the editor, Mar. 29

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Please, kind landlord, spare this art 

The following letter was written by State Senator Brad Hoylman last Tuesday to the owner of the slated-to-be-demolished building on 14th Street and Sixth Avenue where English street artist Banksy created a painting of a rat on a clock a few days earlier. That artwork was later removed by the developer, John Meehan of Gemini Rosemont Realty LLC with a plan to auction it.

I am writing regarding the Banksy artwork that you removed today from the façade of 532 Sixth Avenue.

First, I commend you for preserving the 1954 mural by Julien Binford, “A Memory of Life of 14th Street and Sixth Avenue,” in the interior of the building earlier this year. Now you have a very different kind of artwork on your hands by the graffiti artist Banksy and a corporate windfall of considerable value. Instead of selling the Banksy on the open market, I would urge you to celebrate your good fortune by finding a suitable location for the Banksy to be permanently displayed to the public. You might consider incorporating it into the façade of the new building or lending it to a local gallery or institution, for example.

As Banksy once said, “For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs, I’d encourage people not to buy anything by anybody, unless it was created for sale in the first place. Graffiti art like Banksy’s is public art, meant for all who want to enjoy it, not just those who can afford it. I hope you can find a way to continue to allow the public continued access to this brilliant artwork.

Sincerely,

Brad Hoylman,
State Senator, District 27

Corey Feldman supporting Hoylman’s Child Victims Act

State Senator Brad Hoylman, Corey Feldman and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal hold a sign showing how the Senate has yet to include the legislation in the state budget. (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Wednesday, actor Corey Feldman joined the chorus of activists in Albany calling for the passage of the Child Victims Act.

The legislation, sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, has been included in the budget proposed by the governor as well as the Assembly’s proposed budget but not the Senate’s. It aims to significantly stretch out the statute of limitations so people who were sexually abused as children have longer to file a claim in court.

In Albany, Feldman spoke at a press conference, where Hoylman said Feldman called out Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan personally for not supporting the CVA.

He also spoke about his own experience with pedophiles.

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As students protest, gun safety legislation languishes

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney with student protesters in Washington (Photo courtesy of Congress Member Carolyn Maloney)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been pushing for stronger gun laws for years, was in Albany on Wednesday negotiating Republican-proposed budget measures as the walkouts were taking place. His own second-grade daughter Silvia Hoylman-Sigal was participating in one of them at her school.

However, when reached on the phone, Hoylman said that gun control bills, including his own, have recently been blocked by the Republican majority before they could even be heard on the floor.

This includes his own legislation, co-sponsored with State Senator Brian Kavanagh, which would allow families and law enforcement officials to intervene when a person known to be dangerous has a gun.

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Experts say no easy fix for transit woes

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger attempted to tackle the city’s current transportation crisis with a panel of experts at CUNY’s Graduate Center last Thursday, discussing the need for improvements to bus service in the city, proposals for congestion pricing and holding the MTA accountable.

Nick Sifuentes, executive director for Tri-State Transportation Campaign and a member of the Bus Turnaround Coalition, advocated for improvements to bus service as a means of improving transit in the city.

“Bus improvements are faster and cheaper to implement than subway improvements,” he said, pointing to a plan known as Transit Signal Priority, which would signal traffic lights to stay green longer so buses can get through intersections and speed up their routes.

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Letters to the editor, Mar. 8

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Albany Republicans blocking gun regs

Last week, the Senate Democratic Conference announced a legislative package to combat gun violence and protect New Yorkers. I am proud to be part of a group of Senate leaders standing up to the corporate gun lobby, and we have offered a series of common sense bills to address the repeated tragedies caused by gun violence. We brought four of these bills to the floor of the Senate as “hostile amendments” – and every Republican Senator voted no on each proposal.

To quote leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, “The madness must stop. We need to get serious about gun safety and we need to take real action.”

Studies have proven that states with stronger firearm safety laws, like New York, have fewer gun-caused deaths. Unfortunately, NY Republicans are taking their lead from their extremist Washington allies and for years have refused to move any common sense gun laws.

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 15

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Don’t deny ST girl her Boy Scout status

The following is an open letter from State Senator Brad Hoylman to Randall L. Stephenson, National President of Boy Scouts of America, asking that Sydney Ireland, a Stuy Town teenager and Boy Scout for 11 years, have her status as a Scout formally recognized by the BSA. In December, Town & Village reported on Ireland’s fight, alongside her family, to have female members’ contributions recognized. The BSA has said it would start allowing girls to be members, but not until 2019.

Dear Mr. Stephenson:

I write to you as an Eagle Scout (Troop 70, Lewisburg, WV) and New York State Senator on behalf of my constituent, Sydney Ireland. A lifelong Boy Scouts participant, Sydney successfully advocated for the official inclusion of girls in Boy Scouts of America programs this year. However, because your organization does not plan to implement the new membership policy for two years, Sydney, who is now 16, will age out before she can officially join a troop.

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Epstein secures Democratic nomination for Assembly

Harvey Epstein at Monday evening’s County Committee vote with a supporter, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (Photo courtesy of Harvey Epstein)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday night, the Manhattan Democratic Party County Committee unanimously nominated Urban Justice Center attorney Harvey Epstein for State Senator Brian Kavanagh’s vacated Assembly seat. However, the vote, held by about 200 county committee members at the Sirovich Senior Center, was technically already decided ahead of time when the two other Democrat candidates in the race, Sandro Sherrod and Mike Corbett, withdrew.

Corbett, a City Council aide and former president of New York Young Democrats, announced on Monday morning he was withdrawing and giving his support to Epstein.

In an email blast, he said it was clear Epstein had more backing from the party.

“I was especially honored to have the support of so many of you in this race,” wrote Corbett. “However, as we approach the County Committee vote tonight, I believe that the result is no longer in doubt. My friends, to paraphrase the musical Hamilton, I don’t have the votes.”

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Hoylman talks ‘resistance’ with Obama adviser

State Senator Brad Hoylman with Neera Tanden, former policy director for President Obama and policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

State Senator Brad Hoylman spoke with domestic policy expert Neera Tanden about the state of the Democratic Resistance movement and how New Yorkers can “fight back” in a town hall at CUNY’s Graduate Center last Thursday. Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, previously served as Hillary Clinton’s policy director when she ran for president in 2008 and also served as policy director for President Obama.

Hoylman and Tanden discussed ways in which New Yorkers can get involved, but also covered the Russia investigation and the memo from Congressmember Devin Nunes, which had not been released at the time of the event. The memo, ultimately released on Friday, alleges that FBI officials abused their surveillance powers in investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

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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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Hoylman pushing bill to help victims of childhood sex abuse seek justice

State Senator Brad Hoylman speaks about his legislation by the Fearless Girl statue on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of State Senator Brad Hoylman)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Survivors of child sex abuse joined local elected officials, religious leaders and advocates at the Fearless Girl statue on Tuesday to push Governor Andrew Cuomo to include legislation reforming the statute of limitations for childhood sex abuse in the 2018 budget, prior to the governor’s State of the State address Wednesday afternoon.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, a sponsor of the Child Victims Act, said that the legislation hasn’t been passed because of pressure from “powerful institutional forces” like yeshivas and churches.

“These institutions have covered up these crimes for decades and have lobbied against it but the pressure has been building and we felt it could be different this year,” Hoylman said.

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Garodnick bill for ‘potty parity’ passed by City Council

The legislation would affect new and newly renovated buildings.

By Sabina Mollot

A “potty parity” bill, pushing for new and renovated buildings to offer changing tables in bathrooms accessible to men as well as women, was passed in the City Council on December 11.

The mayor held a hearing on the bill on Monday and is expected to sign it soon, according to one of the legislation’s co-sponsors, Dan Garodnick. The other sponsor is Brooklyn Council Member Rafael Espinal, who said he got to work on the bill after witnessing a man change his daughter’s diaper on the sink of a public bathroom.

“Moms and dads should have equal access to sanitary and safe spaces when changing their baby’s diapers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Garodnick, who has two young sons, can certainly relate.

“As a dad who has changed my fair share of diapers I can say from personal experience that there are very few restrooms with diaper changing stations and it shouldn’t be that way,” he said.

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What Senate Dems’ unification proposal means for tenants

Mike McKee of TenantsPAC called the proposal a bad idea (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, Democrat leaders in Albany laid out their hopes for a reunified Democrat body in the Senate, which is currently made up of Democrats, Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference, eight breakaway Democrats who are aligned with Republicans. The IDC members were warned that if they didn’t start playing nice with their own party that the mainline Democrats would actively support their opponents in upcoming primaries. The warning came by way of a letter from the party that was sent to mainline Democrats as well as IDC members.

Because the State Senate is the legislative body chamber where tenant-friendly legislation goes only to flatline, Town & Village turned to TenantsPAC spokesperson and treasurer Mike McKee to ask what this attempt at a deal means for New York City’s renters.

According to him, it does have some impact despite no deal being hammered out yet.

“It’s fallen apart as it should,” said McKee. The deal would have allowed the mainline Democrats and the IDC to keep their chairs (Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Jeff Klein, respectively) as co-chairs to more effectively pass a progressive agenda. In response, the IDC said it would want to make sure progressive issues important to its own members were passed.

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Hoylman to push for lower MTA fares and congestion pricing

State Senator Brad Hoylman (pictured at right) spoke about the need for transit improvements at a recent meeting of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been an outspoken critic of the bus used by many of his constituents, the M23 a.k.a. the turtle, is now setting his sights on the MTA as a whole, saying he’s sick of seeing funds intended for mass transit get steered elsewhere.

Hoylman brought up the subject on Sunday, November 19 at a public meeting held by the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association during a Q&A period.

The topic was first brought up by a woman who, during a Q&A period, said she didn’t like that a fleet of 200 diesel buses have been announced as a solution to the looming L-Pocalypse in 2019, rather than hybrid buses.

At this, Hoylman said he agreed and wanted to help “wean Albany off of Diesel,” despite the pollution-spewing option being cheaper.

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