Saturday, June 07, 2008


UP FRONT News June 5, 2008
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
"The paper that can't be bought and can't be sold."

By Tom Weiss (This is a reply to the e-mail below)
The decision of the NYS Court of Appeals in the "owner occupancy" case was inevitable. It is a fact that one of the many Mike McKee-style loopholes in the loophole-riddled euphemism known as rent "stabilization" allows landlords to displace rent "protected" tenants for the purposes of "owner occupancy. Indeed, a lower court made it clear that this loophole can only be closed by an act of the New York State legislature, a body that has properly been rated as "the worst state legislature in the country."

And, with the possible exception of the at least outwardly progressive Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer, my home borough of Staten Island, with State Assemblyman Matthew Titone and State Senator Diane Savino, may well have the worst legislators of all. The fact is that the ethnically diverse North Shore of Staten Island is run by a Staten Island Advance-protected lily-white autocratic and corrupt Democratic Party machine that gives jobs to negligent drains on taxpayer money such as (former?) Titone Chief of Staff Keith Parascandola and the recurrently abusive and violent Robert Cataldo, the dishonest and seriously anger-management-challenged Chief of Staff for Savino. As one well known African-American Staten Island civil rights leader once said to me about the Hillary Clinton-style populism-spouting Savino, "She only comes around when she wants something." It's a good thing Savino controlled her Hillary-style ambition and decided not to run for the Congress seat being very involuntarily vacated by the local "family values" Lothario and Big Dick Cheney's man in New York Vito ("Cheato") Fossella.

What does all this have to do with tenants rights? Titone and Savino, who in a stretch of the political imagination, "represent" me, are two of the politicians who have promised me to my face that they would look into legislation closing such loopholes and write to me. They lied. These two are so willfully negligent that they are now directly involved in an increasingly high-level coverup of a major miscarriage of justice against me involving a violent neo-fascist named Geoffrey Blank and the corrupt and negligent Office of New York County District Attorney led by the apparently doddering Robert Morgenthau.

The biggest loophole of all, one that was literally put into the rent stabilization laws by the landlord lobby colluding with the likes of self-purported tenants rights leader (and slush fund Queens Christine Quinn pal) Mike ("The Knife") McKee, allows landlords to raise rents (as approved by the owner-biased NYC Rent Guidelines Board) without opening their books to prove need.

That problem could have been eliminated decades ago with the enactment of the oft-intro- duced Flynn-Dearie Rent Protection Act. That bill, which contained the critical "open the books" requirement, was repeatedly introduced in the last millenium by State Asssembly- man John Dearie (D.-Bx.) and State Senator John Flynn (R.-Yonkers). The fact that a sponsor was a high ranking Republican meant that it could have passed. The bill was repeatedly aborted before ever coming to a vote by the combination of the landlord lobby and Mike McKee. McKee pulled out of the Flynn-Dearie-supporting New York Metropolitan Council on Housing to set up his so-called New York State Tenants and Neighbors Coalition (NYSTNC) and declared the "open the books" provision "too cumbersome." In fact Mike McKee (who has refused to discuss his reported ties to the right wing Manhattan Institute) is as responsible for "rent-flation", gentrification and economic displacement as the worst developers.

As many people are aware, the phony fifth columnist McKee tried to give a militant Geoffrey Blank-style speech over a year ago at a rally in support of the 47 East 3rd St tenants, who have in fact been victimized as a result of McKee's toxic influence in Albany and City Hall. As those present, including rally speaker Lower East Side tenant activist Monte Schapiro, recall, McKee (like Blank) had to face some rather withering heckling from me before he pulled his baseball cap ove his shifty eyes and retired to the back of the rally to chat with his colleague (another tenants rights fraud) Julie Miles.

Mr. Schapiro, who has his hands full as a tenant of the rather avaricious Ben Shaoul on East 5th Street in Manhattan, is among those who, along with Rob Hollander (to whom this letter is a reply) started the Union of New York Tenants (UNYTE), as a hopefully New York- wide organizing group necessitated by the reality that a tenants movement "led" by the likes of Mike McKee can only make things worse for renters who are not rich.

As far as I am aware, UNYTE, which has held several public meetings, remains in a state of de facto suspended animation as a result of largely internal organizational problems.
Any time Mr. Schapiro, who has written a solid statement of principles (to which I added some proposed additions), is ready to work with me, I am ready to meet with him at a mutually convenient time and place.

At this point, presumably to McKee's satisfaction (he sent his poorly camouflaged spies
into UNYTE meetings) we remain dis-UNYTE'd.

I am also awaiting the promised followup correspondence from the progressive State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D.-Manh.) who did send me an e-mail in response to mine, expressing interest in perhaps introducing a Flynn-Dearie style bill, which would require land- lords seeking rent increases to open their books and would close the "owner occupancy" loophole.

And also, since given the fact of the loophole, there was no way that the 47 East 3rd Street tenants were going to win in the courts, I think their lawyers should return any monies paid them by the tenants. It's only fair.
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rob hollander wrote:
Friends and neighbors,The NY State Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a landlord may evict all the rent-stabilized tenants of a tenement to convert the building into a private mansion. The ruling leaves tenants unprotected and will lead to a decrease in the number of stabilized apartments.

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