2002-05-01 / Political Page

By John Toscano

By John Toscano

Rent control deregulation is more than a year away—June 15, 2003, to be exact—but supporters of extending controls have already started their campaign.

In Albany, Democrats who control the Assembly and traditionally favor continuation of controls are already talking about putting in a bill right now to extend controls.

Locally, City Councilmember Melinda Katz (D–Forest Hills) introduced a resolution last week calling on the Assembly, state Senate and Governor George Pataki to act now to extend controls.

Katz declared: "New York City is facing a time of great uncertainty, an almost $5 billion budget gap and cuts to city services, and folks that live in this city deserve reassurances from their elected officials.

"People need to know that their elected officials understand that unless there are affordable places to live, unless there is a support system, unless there is stability in the housing market, the city’s residents will not have the confidence nor the ability to stay."

As Katz was preparing to file the resolution, several major tenant groups were rallying outside City Hall in support of her action. Among the organizations present were the Queens League of United Tenants (QLOUT) and the Metropolitan Council On Housing.

Katz recalled the rent regulation fight of 1997, when she was an Assemblymember.

"I remember the fear, the feeling of almost helplessness of some of the thousands of tenants that came to Albany by the busload to support the Assembly’s position," she recalled.

"The pressure to pass the renewal with only one month to go inherently forced the parties to the table at an unfair advantage. The state must allay fears and send a clear message that the state is supportive of stabilizing the city anyKatz Says Extend Rent Controls Now, Don’t Wait Until June 2003 way it can. This is fair, it is equitable and it is the right thing to do."

If the existing law dies and regulations are removed, apartments renting for $2,000 per month would be decontrolled, Katz said. Others would be placed under rent stabilization. Katz said by reenacting laws to preserve rent and eviction protections, more than 2.5 million renters would be shielded from unaffordable rents and arbitrary eviction, and the affordability of the city’s rental stock would be maintained for the future.

MALONEY: FEMA SHORTCHANGES SCHOOLS: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney charged last week that the federal government is balking at paying the New York City Board of Education $110 million to cover classroom time lost after the September 11 attack. She’s going to file legislation shortly requesting the funds.

Maloney (D–Queens/ Manhattan) said there’s a precedent for the school aid attributed to lost time caused by a disaster. She cited the closing of Los Angeles schools for a week following the 1994 earthquake, at which time the United States Department of Education gave Los Angeles $45 million to cover the lost classroom time. She said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is in charge of paying for New York City’s recovery effort, should take a history refresher course to get the right reading on what it should be doing for New York City schools.

Maloney is being supported in her request by Republican upstate Congressmember John Sweeney, an ally of Governor Pataki. An aide to Sweeney said the lawmaker was supporting Maloney because "the facts are on our side...other communities have gotten this kind of federal aid in the past."

Schools Chancellor Harold Levy has said if the funds come through, three weeks of extra classes will be held after the school day ends or on Saturdays for three weeks.

PROBLEM FOR PATAKI? Pataki has raised tons of cash for his reelection campaign and he’s campaigning harder than ever to win a third term.

He seems to have worked out a deal to get the Independence Party line on the ballot to supplement his Republican and Conservative Party endorsements, but the Independence deal could run into problems if that party’s founder, Rochester millionaire Tom Golisano, decides to run for its nomination and forces Pataki into a primary.

Golisano, who’s reportedly set to announce any day now that he’s running, may have lost some support among Independence Party members, but he’s got about $20 million ready to use in his campaign and that could revive his popularity and give Pataki a fight in a primary.

Golisano founded the Independence Party eight years ago and in the 1998 gubernatorial election he drew 8 percent of the vote. If he can resurrect his popularity, and if he has the prospect of beating Pataki in a primary, the governor might have to think twice about accepting the Independence Party’s nomination, as expected, when the organization’s state committee meets shortly. A Golisano victory over Pataki would shatter the aura of invincibility the governor would like to carry in his campaign against either Carl McCall or Andrew Cuomo, his Democratic pursuers.

NOLAN CALLS FOR PAY EQUITY: Joining with other advocates of pay equity between men and women in New York state, Assembly Labor Committee Chair Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) declared:

"American women today still earn just 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, and over the course of a lifetime this discrepency can amount to hundreds to thousands of dollars in lost wages and reduced pensions.

"In communities all across New York state, hard-working women are struggling to make ends meet—many as the soul breadwinner in a single-parent household."

Nolan and the others, including state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, urged passage of the New York State Fair Pay Act, under which employers would be specifically prohibited from paying women of any racial or ethnic background less money than men for work of equal or comparable worth.

Last week, the assembly approved a package of pay equity legislation, including Nolan’s bill requiring private employers to pay comparable wages for comparable work.

WEINER RIPS SAUDIS: As President George W. Bush met with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah last week to discuss the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) lashed out at the prince and his people.

"The Crown Prince wants to be taken seriously as a partner in the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, even as Middle East terror networks are saturated with Saudi blood money and despite the fact that Saudi Arabia was homeland to 15 September 11 hijackers. He can’t have it both ways. Saudi double dealing must end before Bush meets Abdullah."

Weiner said that while Americans continue to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Israel is fighting "for its very survival," the Saudis sponsor terrorists, support Palestinian terrorism and hold telethons to raise funds for "homicide bombers."

MARSHALL AT GIRL SCOUTS DINNER: Queens Borough President Helen Marshall was hailed at the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York annual Adult Recognition Dinner last Thursday evening as the first African-American borough president of Queens and held up as an inspiration to all girls by Susan M. Greenbaum, council executive director.

Some 350 people received honors at the first gathering of volunteers from the five boroughs at the dinner at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Flushing.

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