Public school teacher running for Duane’s seat

Tanika Inlaw

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on July 12

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By Sabina Mollot

For potential candidates for the State Senate seat now occupied by Tom Duane, it may be hard to believe that it was only just over a month ago when the longtime lawmaker announced his intentions not to seek reelection. After all, for them, there’s been something of a mad dash to collect enough petition signatures to ensure their names on the ballot for the September primary. The deadline is this Thursday.

As of Monday, no candidates had yet submitted their petitions to the Board of Elections. However, there are now at least three Democratic candidates who’ve said they definitely plan to run in the September primary:

The first is Brad Hoylman, a nonprofit attorney and friend of Duane who received his support the day Duane made his announcement. The others are Hell’s Kitchen bar owner Thomas Greco and Upper West Sider Tanika Inlaw, a public school teacher.

Town & Village previously interviewed Hoylman and Greco, and this week, Inlaw spoke with this newspaper about her campaign and her agenda, which focuses on affordable housing, education and job creation.

Already, Inlaw said she’s been pounding the pavement throughout the district and recently learned firsthand from residents of Stuyvesant Town about their top issues of concern, from classroom overcrowding to the stuffing of students into divided apartments.

In response, she said she thought CWCapital should be made to stop the practice of putting up pressurized walls and renting to students.

Tenants, she learned, “are upset that a lot of families are being displaced and that now all these students are coming in and making noise. We can’t have dormitories. We need to stop that.”

Inlaw also said she considers herself an advocate for LGBT rights as a result of being raised by her uncle, who’s gay, and her grandmother. She called Duane an “amazing” senator. “He’ll be a tough act to follow.”

Though her background is in journalism (she worked for several years for ABC News Radio and for the network’s TV show, “The View”), Inlaw said she “got the bug” for politics from her husband, Evan Inlaw. He had run for a City Court judge position in Yonkers in 2005, and won at the primary level, but lost the general election. Meanwhile, Inlaw was active in the campaign, talking to district residents about their problems and finding that she wanted to do more than she could do at the time. This was just to steer those individuals to the right city agency or public official.

Inlaw around that time also got involved in advocacy work, becoming president of her local chapter of the NAACP. She held that position until a few years ago, and said when she heard about the Senate seat for what will soon become the 27th District, she just decided to go for it.

“I’m a teacher at a Bronx elementary school, and I feel I’m the best candidate because I have no special interests behind me,” said Inlaw.

Though Inlaw knew Hoylman was all but officially endorsed by Duane on that first day, she said she wasn’t going to be deterred by any political “machine.”

“I’ve seen that before with just one candidate, but how can you call that democracy?” she said.

She added that as a senator, she would be an advocate for the middle class, which she feels is now shut out of the political process.

“Barack Obama is a black president, so color is not the shut-out anymore; it’s class,” she said.

“Middle income people don’t have opportunities anymore. It used to be that as long as you had a good education, you could buy a house. Now you could have a good education and have to live with your parents. And I don’t want my daughter living with me when she’s 40.”

Inlaw, who’s 38, began her career in education not long after having children. She now has a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. The idea originally was to be a stay-at-home mom, but that didn’t last too long.  “I needed a break,” she admitted, “and you don’t get any break as a stay-at-home mom.” She also noted she she’s “about to be a single mom,” since she’s in the midst of a divorce from Evan.

On matters related to education, Inlaw said if elected, she would fight to create smaller classrooms and have additional support via assistant teachers for special education classes. She also said she wanted to “bring back extra curricular and arts programs,” which are the first things cut from any school budget. “Every child should have the opportunity for a well-rounded education,” she said.

Bullying is also a focus, with Inlaw saying one way to help stop it would be to demand accountability of the schools where it happens. However, she stressed it should be done in a way that doesn’t shame the schools or administrators, since that approach too often leads to incidents of violence or other problems being swept under the rug. She also thinks it’s important to create a classroom environment that’s rigorous. “That’s what we need — to make kids more competitive.”

And Inlaw says she’s the voice of experience on that topic, being the first person in her family to graduate from college. She got her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Purchase and later her master’s in education from Hunter. She also attended a specialized high school, La Guardia, studying drama.

She also wants to see hydrofracking completely banned and focus on repairs needed to the city’s infrastructure, including bridges and tunnels. The work would create jobs and not the minimum wage sort. (She also supports raising the minimum wage.)

On issues of housing, Inlaw, who grew up in a Mitchell-Lama building, said fighting for affordable housing is a top priority.

Repealing the Urstadt Law is also a goal. Obviously, Inlaw said she knows what she’s up against in Albany with the Republican majority frequently blocking any tenant legislation. However, she said if elected, she would try to plow through the bipartisan divide by being willing to give and take at the negotiating table.

“(Right now) everything is landlocked because everyone is holding fast to their own opinions and not seeing how it is through someone else’s eyes,” she said. “We have to come together. Even if someone’s attacking me, I’ll agree with them, and that disarms them. They’ll hear me, because I hear them. People want to be heard.”

Another challenger steps up for Duane’s Senate seat

Primary Day is Thursday, September 13. Town & Village is running bios of Democrat candidates for the positions of Manhattan Surrogate’s Court judge and the State Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Duane.

This article was originally published on June 28.

 

Thomas Greco

By Sabina Mollot

Not long after State Senator Tom Duane announced he wasn’t seeking reelection ― and that he thought a friend, attorney Brad Hoylman, would make a good replacement ― another challenger for the Senate seat announced he too would be running. That candidate was 36-year-old Thomas Greco, owner of Hell’s Kitchen gay bar/lounge, The Ritz. Though not gay himself (he’ll be married to fiancée Tia in a week) Greco said he is a big LGBT advocate and also said if elected, his top priorities for the 27th senatorial district would be affordable housing and education.

Greco said his decision to run was made recently, pretty much right after Duane’s announcement that he wouldn’t be running. Part of the reason, he explained, was the way that particular bombshell was dropped, including the endorsement for Hoylman it led to.

“He did it at the 11th hour,” said Greco of Duane. “He did it in a way where no career politician could have the option of getting a campaign together.”

Greco, however, said he wasn’t deterred by all the publicity for Hoylman, noting that as the owner of a business, he has some startup cash for a campaign.

He opened The Ritz in 2006, though he’s also been the part-owner of a restaurant with his brother, Philip Marie, since 2001 and he also owns an LGBT bar called Posh. Prior to those ventures, the Park Ridge, New Jersey native worked as a financial consultant for A.G. Edwards.

As for his latest endeavor, already, Greco’s gotten started collecting signatures, saying he hopes to get quadruple the amount he needs to avoid any potential ballot challenges.

What’s also helped him beyond the immediate need to fundraise is that he’s active in two political clubs, as the executive vice president of the McManus Midtown Democratic Club and director of fundraising for the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club. Otherwise, Greco said he considers himself a political outsider, and it’s this that he feels makes him the right person for the job.

“Because I don’t have an alliance with this politician and I’m not worried about making that one mad,” he said. “I just care about what the district needs and I don’t care how many eggs I have to crack to get it done. I’m the kind of guy who just keeps running into walls until the walls start falling down.”

On issues facing the district, Greco said affordable housing was something he’d fight for, because he’s tired of seeing longtime residents of his own neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, being priced out.

“I see all these massive buildings under construction and they’re all luxury high-rise,” he said. “We have to come up with a better plan, because now it’s becoming a gated neighborhood.”

Specifically, Greco said he thought there should be more tax breaks given as incentive to develop more affordable housing than the current 80/20 structure provides for. And not just dumpy-looking projects, either, but, he added, “a nice building where you give people some dignity.”

Another aspect of affordable housing would be the protection of what’s already in existence, including Stuyvesant Town.

“I feel what went on there was horrible,” he said, referring to the years of tenants being pushed out through residency challenges. “But I’m pro tenant.”

Education is another priority, with Greco saying he’s seriously been considering private school for his own children when he has them. “And why should I cough up the money for private school when I’m already paying all these taxes?” he said.

In his view, the quality of education offered would be improved through better communication between schools and parents, including allowing interested parents to know details like what’s in the lesson plans and what children are expected to know by the end of the year.

Another issue of concern, affecting the west side of the district, is the lack of a full-service hospital following the closure of St. Vincent’s.

This was one of the issues that prompted Greco’s run, because he said he wasn’t satisfied with the way the area’s elected officials responded to news of the closure.

“They kind of just let it happen,” he said. “They made speeches, but no one threw themselves in front of a bulldozer.”

Along with the area’s residents’ loss of access to healthcare, the closure caused a nosedive in business at nearby restaurants that relied on the patronage of physicians. “It was like a bomb went off,” said Greco, noting that one of the affected restaurants is Philip Marie. The Village’s restaurants, he said, have soldiered on, but one newsstand owner told him he’d lost 90 percent of his customers before ultimately deciding to close.

“It’s like they looked at the first ripple, but not the other ripples,” Greco said.

Being a restaurant owner himself, Greco said even if he does end up in Albany, he would still identify as a businessman rather than a career politician.

“At the end of the day, I’m doing this as a public service,” he said. “I’m not making a career move. I have a career. I have my business. I’m not going to make deals so someone can benefit me.”

 

* In related senatorial race news, a recent published report alluded to the fact that Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh could also run for Duane’s Senate seat. However, an employee at Kavanagh’s office said last week he definitely won’t be running.

Letters to the Editor, June 21

Adopt a dog from a shelter, not a store

As a resident of Peter Cooper Village and dog lover, I’m hoping that the following information will encourage anyone looking for a dog to at least consider adopting from one of the many animal shelters in our area.

When you purchase a puppy from a pet store or over the internet, it has most likely come from a large-scale, substandard breeding facility where parent dogs are caged, bred as often as possible and live in filthy conditions.  Adopting from a shelter ensures that your money is not going to support a puppy mill.

When you adopt from a shelter you’re getting a dog who’s had both a medical and behavioral evaluation. has been neutered or spayed and has had the necessary shots.

Please visit the websites of these shelters for hours of operation and much more information about the services they offer.  All shelters are located in Manhattan except where noted. Many shelters have medical facilities, training classes, bereavement support and other programs to help you care for you pet.

ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
212-876-7700 x4120
424 East 92nd Street (between First and York)

Bide-A-Wee
212-532-4455
410 East 38th Street (between 1st Ave and FDR)

Humane Society of NY
212-752-4840
309 East 59th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

Animal Haven
212-274-8511
251 Centre Street (between Broome & Grand)

Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals – a listing of NYC rescue groups
Petfinder – adoptable animals listed on the Internet
If you’re interested in a specific breed you haven’t been able to find at a shelter, you can try breed rescue groups at the Mayor’s Alliance website.

A few laws concerning dogs:

  • All dogs must have a current license.
  • All dogs must be vaccinated regularly against rabies.
  • All dogs must be on a six-foot (or shorter) leash when in public.
  • Dog owners must clean up their pets’ waste.
  • It is illegal to abandon a companion animal. To relinquish your pet, contact a local shelter.

Neglecting an animal’s care or harming an animal is a crime. Intentionally harming a companion animal is a felony in New York State.  Report   animal cruelty to ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement at (212) 876-7700 x4450. For 24 Hour Veterinary Care:  Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, (212) 838-8100.

What could be better than giving a loving and safe home to a homeless, neglected and scared dog? Thank you for considering adoption. Good luck!

Susan Huegel, PCV

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