Tuesday, July 08, 2008

OPEN LETTER TO THE TENANTS MOVEMENT. SUPPORT THE 47 EAST 3rd STREET TENANTS. CLOSE THE LEGISLATIVE LOOPHOLES AND EXILE MIKE McKEE.

UP FRONT News July 8, 2008
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
"The paper that can't be bought and can't be sold."
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http://www.tomsupfrontnews.blogspot.com/

OPEN LETTER TO THE TENANTS MOVEMENT. SUPPORT THE 47 EAST 3rd STREET
TENANTS. CLOSE THE LEGISLATIVE LOOPHOLES AND EXILE MIKE McKEE. "FLYNN-DEARIE" REDUX?

By Tom Weiss

I was among those who attended the April, 2007 rally in front of the Ekonomakis-owned 47 East 3rd St. in support of the eviction-threatened tenants of that Manhattan building.

As far as I am concerned, the Court of Appeals decision affirming the landlord's right to proceed with an "owner occupancy" eviction, in no way negates the reality that the Alistair and Katherine Ekonomakis are very greedy people. It is also a fact that the Ekonomakises are benefiting not from a bad court decision but rather from the continued existence of one of the many landlord-favoring loopholes in the rent stabilization laws. The law allows landlord's to displace rent protected tenants in the name of "owner occupancy." The courts cannot make law. Only the state legislature can do that.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the April, 2007 rally was that one of the speakers was self-appointed tenant "leader" Mike McKee. (In fact, the best speech that day was delivered by tenant activist Monte Schapiro, whose landlord on East 5th St. is the avaricious Ben Shaoul.) After his pseudo-populist talk, McKee shifted his baseball cap down over his eyes as he slunk to the rear of the rally to chat with his ally Julie Miles of "Housing Here and Now", after I used my First Amendment rights to expose him in front of all those people.

Other than some major landlord-developer lobbyists and their henchpeople in (s)elected office, such as tenants rights-spouting but real estate developer supporting and racially insensitive (Sonny Carson street name change in Bedford-Stuyvesant) City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, there may be no one who has been more inimical to tenants' interests than the de facto fifth columnist Mike ("The Knife") McKee.

The details of how McKee on multiple occasions helped to defeat what was perhaps the strongest piece of tenants rights legislation ever, known as the Flynn-Dearie Rent Protection Act, appear exclusively in UP FRONT News. In sum, Flynn-Dearie, introduced on multiple occasions late in the 20th century, would have required any landlord seeking a rent increase for any reason to prove need by opening his or her books for auditing by the state. Since the landlords had been cooking their books for several millennia, that provision was anathema to the landlord lobby. The landlords got a valuable ally in Mike McKee who announced his opposition to Flynn-Dearie, declaring the "open the books" requirement "too cumbersome." McKee split off from the Flynn-Dearie-supporting New York Metropolitan Council on Housing to form the New York State Tenants and Neighbors Coalition, thereby ending unity in the tenants movement in New York. In fact, unlike much other tenants rights legislation which dies in the Republican-controlled State Senate, Flynn-Dearie could have passed because its co-sponsor, Sen. John Flynn of Yonkers, was a high ranked Republican. John Dearie was a State Assemblyman from the Bronx. (Indeed I even traveled to Albany and to then Senate Majority Leader Warren Anderson's hometown of Binghamton to try to save Flynn-Dearie.)

McKee later worked with his fellow collaborator in the lofts, Lower Manhattan Loft Tenants dictator Chuck ("Ol' Loophole") Delaney, to delay and weaken loft tenant protection legislation, which explains the massive gentrification in loft districts such as Soho, Noho, Tribeca and DUMBO. In the lofts because of a rent increase pass-along provision inserted into the loft bill by McKee's and Delaney's friends in Albany, it has been possible to raise rents in the loft by 300% or more under rent stabilization.

Having been a victim if major landlord (Thomas Berger) and judicial (Christine Quinn pal Marilyn Shafer) abuse in my former loft home at 190-A Duane St. (where I lived for over 16 years, 5 1/2 of them without heat or water), I am very supportive of the tenants at 47 East 3rd St.

What is needed, however, is most certainly no speeches by frauds like McKee (or for that matter one his supporters in politics, the developer campaign contribution-financed mayoral wannabe Quinn).

We need a united (UNYTED?, i.e. the Union of New York Tenants, still on life support) tenant movement that will lobby for laws without loopholes.

And let infiltrators like Mike McKee go back to the right wing Manhattan Institute where he (no comment from McKee) belongs.
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