November 2006
Agenda for Action! Election Issue

Inside Albany - Time for a Change

District Assembly District State Senate Governor
22nd Ellen Young (D) 10th Shirley Huntley (D) Elliot Spitzer (D)
25th Rory Lancman (D) 11th Nora Marino (D)  
40th Diane Gordon (D) 13th John Sabini Attorney General
43rd Karem Camara (D) 15th Albert Baldeo (D) Andrew Cuomo (D)
46th Alex Brooks Krasny (D) 18th V. Montgomery (D)  
57th* Hakim Jeffries (D) 20th Eric Adams (D)  
58th Nick Perry (D) 21st Kevin Parker (D)  
59th Alan Maizel (D) 24th Matthew Titone (D)  
67th Linda Rosenthal (D) 25th K. Diamondstone (WF)  
74th Brian Kavanaugh (D) 26th Liz Krueger (D)  
79th Dan Benjamin (D)   Tom Duane  
84th Carmen Arroyo (D) 31st Ed Schneiderman (D)  

 Endorsement Highlights

Our government in Albany isn’t working!  It hasn’t worked for a long time!  In the Legislature and the Courts as well as in the Governor’s office, there is need for fundamental change. 

The three power brokers - Governor George Pataki, Assembly Majority Leader Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno - have presided over the nation’s “worst” Legislature, as termed by the now widely-read and accepted Brennan Report, The New York State Legislative process: An Evaluation and Blueprint for Reform.

Republican George Pataki has been Governor for 12 years. The conventional wisdom is that Democrat Eliot Spitzer will be elected on November 6, 2006.

Democrats have controlled the State Assembly and Republicans the State Senate for thirty years. Today Democrats control 105 of the 150 seats in the State Assembly. Republicans control 35 of the 62 seats in the State Senate.  Majority Leader Shelly Silver has ruled the Assembly with a tight fist since first elected leader in 1994. Joe Bruno has led the Republicans in the Senate in the same way.

Universally known as “the three men in a room,” they have presided over years of late budgets (until 2005), protected incumbency, coddled lobbyists, rejected rules/legislative reform, protected the excessive power of Authorities, failed to enact a CFE remedy for our schools, rejected real campaign finance reform and ignored Medicaid fraud.
Now, it’s time for a change! NYC ADA rejects newly elected Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith’s view that Democrats cannot win control in this election. We endorse Matthew Titone over Andrew Lanza to replace John Marchi in the 24th District (Staten Island). We endorse Nora Marino (D) over Frank Padavan in the 11th District (Queens) and we endorse Albert Baldeo to oust Serphin Maltese in the 15th District (Queens).  Simultaneously, we urge our members to replace Democrat Marty Conner with Ken Diamondstone (Working Families Party) in the 25th District.

Although Senate races outside NYC fall beyond our endorsement purview, we ask members to call friends in Westchester urging them to vote for Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) against Nick Spano ®.

Eliot Spitzer knows what he has to do – to deal effectively with long-standing abuses, to lead without fear or favor and to create an atmosphere which welcomes competency and caring.  Only time will tell the outcome.

Affordable Housing - Problems & Solutions

Twe housing advocates spoke recently before NYCADA Board members about the need for affordable housing! Here’s what Ken Diamondstone and Dan Garodnick had to say.

New York City is losing affordable housing at an incredible rate.  Manhattan is fast becoming the borough of the rich as middle income and low income families are uprooted and leave.  The effect on the tone and character of the City is disastrous and felt everywhere. 

Mitchell Lama rental apartments are fast disappearing as landlords buy out the underlying mortgages.  Cooperative apartment buildings are opting to privatize.

The Department of Housing and Community Renewal continues to receive  numerous applications from landlords to demolish existing housing. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is keeping vacant apartments from the market.   There is increased gentrification of unregulated units in Harlem and in Queens

Despite tax benefits to developers under 421A, new buildings are not affordable because they require incomes at 60% of the Average Median Income (AMI) rather than using 50% as a benchmark.  Private developers produce new buildings where 20% are reserved for low and  moderate income tenants in return for substantial tax breaks (the assessed value of the property before it was developed is maintained– for 10 to 25 years.)

Ken Diamondstone Meets with NYCADA Board
(LtoR) Diamondstone, Rich, Melnick, Grossman, March

Most of these lower-priced apartments were built off-site rather than as part of the original, more luxurious complexes. Mayor Bloomberg has endorsed changes recommended by his recently-appointed Task Force.    

These changes would limit the tax breaks available to developers who do not provide some affordable housing. They would also extend the exclusion zones and require market-rate developers in any exclusion zone to pay  full taxes unless they build affordable housing on site.

There are also things we can do! Unions can return to the housing market and construct affordable housing as they once did for their members. So, too, can non-profit organizations. Affordable Bond (Funds) can provide cash for low and middle income families to purchase homes/cooperative apartments.  An action plan to fight the termination of Section 8 vouchers could be designed and implemented.  Legal clinics can teach tenants how to exercise their rights.

Tenants Fight Back!

Tenant residents in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper provide a good example!
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village – its 23 acre middle income housing complex – represents the largest sale for a single American property in real estate history and the greatest threat to affordable housing – in theory and practice. Roughly 75% of the 11,200 apartments fall under the state’s rent regulation guidelines and rent for as little as one half the open market rate.  Mayor Bloomberg remained neutral throughout the sale, refusing to be involved in any way. 

Initially rejected as a bidder by Met Life, City Councilman Garodnick mobilized the tenants to bid to purchase the property, motivated by the desire to protect its historic use as a middle income enclave and to permanently protect affordable housing.  Civic, union and other non-profit organizations joined in the bid of $4.5 billion.

The tenant group recognized that its bid had to be credible while understanding that it would probably not be the highest.  It also recognized that Met Life had received every conceivable public subsidy when the development was constructed immediately after World War II  for returning veterans including a 25 year tax exemption. It hoped that a sense of civic duty would motivate Met Life to accept a competitive bid.

Ultimately losing to Tishman Speyer in the second round, the tenants remain as part of the dialogue, determined to protect their rights to affordable housing in a City which now hosts dwindling numbers of middle income residents.

The crisis generated by the lack of affordable housing extends far beyond New York City to embrace the entire metropolitan region. Only time will tell how the crisis resolved - if at all!

Congressional Voting Records & Endorsements

U. S. Representatives
2005 Lifetime Senator 2005 Lifetime
Gary L. Ackerman (NY 5)
95 88 Hillary Rodham Clinton 100 96
Gregory W. Meeks (NY6)
90 88 Anthony D. Weiner (NY 9) 95 96
Joseph Crowley (NY 7)
95 91 Nydia M. Velazquez  (NY 12)   100 96
Jerrold Nadler (NY 8)
100 98 Carolyn B. Maloney (NY 14) 100 95
Nita M. Lowey (NY 18)
95 94 Charles B. Rangel (NY 15) 100 92
      Jose E. Serrano (NY 16)   100 94
      Eliot L. Engel (NY17) 95 94

New York City ADA endorsed all of the candidates listed above on the basis of their voting records.  They have voted consistently with the liberal position on almost all of the key bills that came before them such as the budget, minimum wage, trade policy, the Patriot Act, and the Employee Free Choice Act. And they voted! ADA considers an absence as a negative vote. 

In the 10th District the Democratic incumbent Edolphus Towns had a 70% liberal voting record this year and a lifetime average of 84%.  We made no endorsement.

In the 11th District the incumbent Major Owens retired.  We support the winner of the Democratic primary Yvette Clark
In the 13th District, the incumbent Vito Fossela (Rep) has a lifetime liberal voting quotient of 06%.  We support his Democratic challenger Stephen Harrison.

Paper Trail vs. Paper Ballot

The argument for a paper trail vs. a paper ballot in New York differs from that usually put forth for the nation.  We have a paper trail requirement for the electronic touch screen machine, but it’s only a placebo!

The audit receipt may not match the secret, legally cast vote inside the computer, or match what lights up on the touch screen.  The receipt may not get counted beyond the 3% spot check, or even looked at and verified, if the voter is rushed or the small receipt too difficult to read.  The trail may print blank, or not at all, if the printer jams.  Those are lost votes. 

Legally the trail doesn’t have to match, be counted or be accurate.

The true voters’ intent is the legal paper ballot, filled out by the voter and then optically scanned.  The ballot is fail safe, and available for recount. That’s what we want!

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Working Families Win Reports Meetings Newsletters Speaking Out Endorsements Legislative RatingsTestimony