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The Indianapolis allies and enemies of Stephen Goldsmith, below, predict his New York future (Page 3), the Progressive Caucus begins to assert itself (Page 6)

Vol. 4, No. 15

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May 31, 2010

and Charlie Rangel, above, sounds off about his many challengers (Page 23).

CAMPAIGN

TRIAL Dan Donovan presents his case

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daniel s. burnstein

NEW YORK CITYS

MOST EFFECTIVE

LABOR LEADERS PAGE 16


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MAY 31, 2010

CITY HALL

With County Party Under Fire, A Hotbed Of Primary Activity In The Bronx BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS hile most of the city has been relatively quiet this primary season, the Bronx is already a smoldering hotbed of activity. Eric Schneiderman’s open State Senate seat, a competitive race to knock off embattled Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr., and half a dozen competitive Assembly races and district leader races are already getting heated. And more are potentially in the works. Serving as a backdrop is another struggle over control of the Bronx County Democratic Party. Last time around, José Rivera was ousted as chair by his Assembly colleague Carl Heastie and the “Rainbow Rebels.” This time, Heastie is battling to keep the party reins from another Rivera, Assembly Member Peter Rivera—allied with José but not related. County loyalists claim that Peter Rivera is quietly supporting a group of political activists called Bronx For Change that has been trying to recruit candidates to run for district leader and county committee positions against county-backed incumbents. Rivera denied this. “I know the members,” Rivera said. “I don’t know their agenda. I don’t know their plans. I don’t know their goals.” Rivera said he was disappointed that his loyalty to the county organization is being called into question, which he then hinted might be part of its own machinations. “My name gets thrown around with them a lot,” he said. “It leads me to believe that people are trying to use me or send a message that I’m uncomfortable [with the party].” County insiders remain skeptical, though, saying Bronx For Change has held its meetings in Rivera’s political club and shares his unstated goal of destabilizing the party organization. Rivera supporters fire back that one of the group’s founders, Carlos “Charlie” Ramos, used to work for Ruben Diaz, Jr., the current Bronx borough president and Heastie’s Rainbow Rebel compatriot. Ramos recently launched a bid to unseat Heastie loyalist Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. Given the senator’s strong opposition to same-sex marriage, Ramos said he hopes to get support from pro-

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marriage equality political action groups for his uphill race. “I’ve met with those groups, I’m meeting with the Working Families Party,” said Ramos, who also previously worked for former City Comptroller William Thompson. “I’m meeting with as many groups as possible.” Ramos chalked the rumors about his connections to Peter Rivera up to tabloid gossip. “Peter has nothing to do with what I’m doing,” he said. “He’s a friend. But we don’t talk about this race.” Despite being recently hospitalized for stomach pains, Diaz, Sr. said he is fired up about the primary challenge, especially if it shines light on Ramos’ campaign. “Right now, whoever is behind Charlie Ramos, what they’re going to do, they’re going to make me stronger,” Diaz, Sr. said. “Charlie Ramos is just a patsy in the whole thing. Poor Charlie Ramos.” Upset by the implications that Peter Rivera is possibly backing a challenger against him, Diaz, Sr. is retaliating by backing Luis Sepulveda, an attorney and adjunct professor running against Rivera in his south central Bronx district. Sepulveda cited allegations of Rivera misusing campaign contributions for his own personal gain. “I know he’s vulnerable. He’s got problems with the county organization,” Sepulveda said. “I don’t know if the county leader is going to bring Peter back into the fold.” Party insiders say that Rivera is so unnerved by his primary challenge that he has been deep in discussions with

CHRISTOPHER DUFFY

Primary challenges galore as Dem boss Heastie tries to quash talk of takeover

Assembly Member Peter Rivera is seen as wanting to chip away at Carl Heastie’s hold on Bronx power—just some of the political turmoil in the borough this cycle. Hector Ramirez over Assembly Member Nelson Castro, another José Rivera and Peter Rivera loyalist. If the county does back Ramirez, then José Rivera, still influential in his home borough, could lean on Peter Rivera to end his negotiations with Heastie and the county party. But the marquee Bronx race this year remains the primary against Espada. While dollars have been flowing in from around the state, within the borough the main question is whether the county party will stick with the majority leader now at the center of multiple investigations. There are a handful of candidates looking at the race, though most of the attention has focused on Desiree Hunter, a community activist and co-op board president. Heastie’s organization is in a tight spot: despite his many troubles, Espada is not only an incumbent and the Senate majority leader, but has a strong independent political base of his own. There is speculation that the county party may stay neutral, though Hunter said she would be disappointed if it did. “There has to be a standard set for what makes a Democrat,” she said. “They have to figure that out.”

“I know the members,” Peter Rivera said of the group Bronx For Change. “I don’t know their agenda. I don’t know their plans. I don’t know their goals.” Heastie in recent weeks hoping for a rapprochement but, so far, to little avail. “What they need is to work it out,” said one party insider of Rivera and Heastie. “Carl wants to support those incumbents who want to be supported.” Meanwhile, the county appears to be leaning toward supporting district leader

Espada did not return a call for comment. Party members are concerned that the organization will have enough money to defend its loyal incumbents if they back a series of challenges. José Rivera notably left little in the party’s coffers after being overthrown by Heastie. “I think in any county party, nobody wants to see a huge number of primaries,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, chair of the county committee. “We don’t want to strain our own resources.” Heastie, for one, cast doubt on the idea that the high number of challengers will actually make it through the petition process to the primary election in September, saying he still has to do a district-by-district assessment. When asked how his discussions with Peter Rivera and his camp have progressed, Heastie said much is still up in the air. “One thing I have to determine is whether it’s a one-night stand just to get elected,” Heastie said, “or is it really about having a relationship with the organization.” He added, “And it has to be a two-way relationship.” ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

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CITY HALL

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As Goldsmith Arrives, Indianapolis Friends And Foes Predict Performance, Preferences New Bloomberg deputy praised for urban initiatives, but challenged on finances

BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS ow do you go from being the mayor of the 14th-largest city in the country to deputy mayor of the largest? Is it a step up or a step down? This is what friends, adversaries and colleagues of former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith are wondering as they watch him officially assume his new role as deputy mayor for operations in the Bloomberg administration on June 1. (Goldsmith himself was not made available for interviews ahead of his start date.) While some praise his appointment, saying Goldsmith’s data-driven, resultsoriented management style should mesh well with Bloomberg’s methods, others question how Goldsmith will fit into City Hall’s administrative hierarchy and, more importantly, how the ambitious former mayor will take to being an advisor after so many years spent as an executive. “Stephen has always been the final decision-maker,” said Steve Fantauzzo, former executive director of AFSCME Indiana Council 62, who tussled with Goldsmith over his efforts to privatize hundreds of public-sector jobs. “It’s always harder to be the recommender of a deci-

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sion rather than the decision-maker.” Bloomberg appointed Goldsmith in April to replace Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, whose expansive portfolio included overseeing the Police and Fire departments, directing labor negotiations and reforming construction codes in the wake of the Deutsch Bank fire. The Midwestern Republican mayor’s suprise appointment raised more than a few eyebrows. Back in Indianapolis, Goldsmith was known for not only his aggressive push to turn over government services to private companies, but also his efforts to empower community groups and faith-based organizations with tools and resources to improve inner city neighborhoods. Olgen Williams, a community activist who worked with Goldsmith on his inner city initiatives, said the efforts that paid off in Indianapolis could also pay off in New York. “He was willing to invest money in urban communities, blighted communities, contrary to traditional Republican conservative thinking,” said Williams, now himself a deputy mayor under Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard. “He went out the box and said, ‘These are important communities that have been neglected.’” But not everyone agrees that

MAY 31, 2010

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the rank-and-file members. This year, Bloomberg is proposing slashing the city payroll and shutting down dozens of senior centers, libraries and fire stations. Fantauzzo, who now works as regional director for AFSCME in Indiana, said Goldsmith’s reputation as a sometime union antagonist is likely known by New York labor groups, which could affect how he negotiates with labor in the future. “As deputy mayor vs. the elected official, I think a lot of this will evolve around how Steve approaches it,” Fantauzzo said, “and whether he reaches out to involve those local union leaders.” A self-described “compassionate conservative,” Goldsmith was the darling of the GOP in the early part of the decade, advising George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign and helping design much of the former president’s domestic agenda during his first term. But those who knew him in Indianapolis say Goldsmith was never ideological in his partisanship. “He comes from the old Republican tradition, which is very strong in New York more so than any other place,” said Joseph Andrew, former chairman of both the Indiana State Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee. “He’s someone who is about trying to do the best you can with a limited government.” Andrew, who ran several campaigns against Goldsmith, said that while he would prefer Bloomberg have appointed someone with more liberal tendencies, he believes Goldsmith’s intellectually grounded management style will serve him well in his new position. Other former opponents grudgingly agreed, saying Goldsmith was always a pro-business, pro-small government Republican. Unless, of course, it was politically advantageous to portray himself otherwise.

Goldsmith’s policies of urban renewal and privatization were a complete success. Former Marion County Democratic Chair Kipper Tew, who sparred with Goldsmith over the course of several campaigns, said that at the end of “The real legacy of the former mayor’s second term, the promise of savings from his Goldsmith’s mayoralty privatization initiatives never in Indianapolis is, he materialized. left it in a fiscal mess,” “The real legacy of Goldsmith’s former Marion County mayoralty in Indianapolis is, he left it in a fiscal mess,” Tew said. Democratic Chair “He played fast and loose with Kipper Tew said. “He finances.” played fast and loose He added, “More like Giuliani, with finances. More a lot less like Bloomberg, I’ll tell you that.” like Giuliani, a lot less During his tenure in Indialike Bloomberg, I’ll napolis, which ran from 1992 to tell you that.” 2000, Goldsmith sought to reduce the city workforce by 25 percent. Union leaders who ini“He used some of those family values tially resisted his efforts said they were eventually able to arrive at a working issues when he campaigned,” said Louis relationship with his administration, but Mahern, a former Indiana state senator only after Goldsmith saw the benefit of who lost to Goldsmith during his run for keeping some workers, like street clean- mayor in 1992. “He was much more interers and garbage men, on the payroll. He ested in privatization and advancing his ultimately earned kudos from several lo- own political career than abortions or gay cal unions for reducing the workforce at marriage or any of that other crap.” ahawkins@cityhallnews.com the managerial level, rather than among

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MAY 31, 2010

Nunes Aims To Unite LGBT And Charter Support In Huntley Challenge

Richmond Hill District

Huntley supporters peg 25-year-old almost-Council upset winner a political opportunist BY CHRIS BRAGG t a midtown Manhattan gay bar called Therapy, Lynn Nunes mingled with about 50 supporters at the kickoff fundraiser for his primary challenge against State Sen. Shirley Huntley. In a speech before the crowd, Nunes promised that with their support, Huntley would go the way of George Onorato and Hiram Monserrate, two other Queens senators who voted against the same-sex marriage bill last year and will not be back in 2011. (Onorato is retiring, Monserrate was expelled and lost his special election bid to return to the Senate). “We’re here to send Shirley Huntley home, and every other senator who won’t vote for marriage equality,” Nunes said.

Howard Beach

Backers of same-sex marriage may give the 25-year-old Nunes a legitimate chance in his battle to knock off an incumbent: he is a prime candidate to get financial support from the pro-same-sex marriage PAC Fight Back New York, although no final determinations on strategy for this year’s races have been made, according to a spokesman for the group. Nunes already demonstrated some political viability last year, running an entirely grassroots, volunteer-based campaign to come within four votes of knocking off 14-year New York City Council Member Tom White, who most observers say has higher name recognition than the two-term incumbent Huntley. Danny Dromm, an openly gay Council member from Queens and a prominent leader in the gay rights movement, said

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he became convinced Nunes would be viable during a February phone call in which Nunes described his strategy for unseating Huntley. “Lynn is a statistician in terms of numbers,” Dromm said. “That’s something he gets almost innately.” Huntley’s supporters, though, are already pegging Nunes as an opportunist backed by a pro-same-sex marriage lobby that is out of step with the majority of the district. “I think Lynn Nunes is going down the wrong road,” said Council Member Leroy Comrie, a Huntley ally. “He is taking advantage of a singular opportunity presented by something that is not a big deal in that district.” In the southeast Queens district where Nunes will spend his summer knocking on doors, the streets of Jamaica and Springfield Gardens are lined with socially conservative black churches. The samesex marriage bill was unpopular among the African-American churches and clergy, and Huntley cites this opposition as the reason she voted against the bill. Nunes says he would instead run on issues such as the district’s highest-inthe-country foreclosure rate, which he says Huntley has not done enough to address, and the district’s overcrowded classrooms. As for the charges of opportunism, Nunes notes that he has long been a supporter of same-sex marriage, even filling out a candidate survey expressing his support for the cause and seeking the endorsement of the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens during his Council campaign.

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“I was a supporter of gay marriage even when it wasn’t going to help me,” Nunes said. Charter-school advocates are also expected to provide funding to Nunes, one of a number of candidates running against anti-charter incumbents set to receive backing from the lobby. Nunes said he has been a committed and unabashed supporter of lifting the state’s charter school cap, though he did not discuss the issue much while running for the Council. He said he was silent on the issue because charter schools are more a state concern than a city one. Huntley, meanwhile, finds herself in a more precarious position when it comes to the education lobbies. A former local school board president, Huntley has been an ally of the United Federation of Teachers and, along with State Sen. Bill Perkins, was the catalyst behind an April hearing calling out charter schools for alleged abuses. She also opposed legislation to lift the state’s charter-school cap in January. But Huntley switched courses and voted in favor of lifting the cap in the bill that was passed by the Senate in early May. Leaders of the New York State United Teachers—the UFT’s parent union—have said they will have trouble supporting anyone who voted to raise the cap. Still, Huntley said she believes one vote will not endanger their longstanding relationship. “I have been generous in my support of the UFT’s issues over the years,” Huntley said.

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Spokesmen for the UFT and NYSUT declined comment on the union’s plans in the district. But speaking generally about his union’s involvement in this year’s races, UFT president Michael Mulgrew said a vote to raise the cap would not necessarily stand in the way of an endorsement by the teachers. “I’ll let the political process take its course,” Mulgrew said. “I like to talk to people first and find out what their reasons are. If they decide they don’t want to work with us anymore, then we’ll go from there.” As with her same-sex marriage vote, Huntley said she decided to support the charter cap bill after getting feedback from her constituents and learning about the success of charter schools in her district. Huntley is also counting on strong political support this year from Senate Democratic conference leader John Sampson, who championed lifting the charter-school cap. Huntley has represented the Senate district since a successful 2006 primary challenge to Ada Smith, who had a string of brushes with the law, including a misdemeanor conviction from throwing a cup of coffee on a staffer. Huntley retains the strong support of Senate President Malcolm Smith, Rep. Greg Meeks and other local African-American officials, though investigations into the Aqueduct Racino deal and member items given to the non-profit New Direction have created political unrest in the area, where

other primary challengers are emerging. As in the past, Huntley’s husband, Herbert, will be running her campaign. Huntley said she does not know much about Nunes or what involvement he has had in the community. “People have a right to run,” Huntley said. “This is America.” Red Horse Strategies, which ran a number of the Democratic campaigns in their successful 2008 push for the State Senate, is advising Nunes’ campaign. White’s entire Council district—in which Nunes placed first or second in 90 percent of the electoral districts—is in Huntley’s Senate district, providing an existing base from which to run. Nunes is expected to be strongest in Richmond Hill, where there is a sizable Guyanese and West Indian population. He will also try to tap into votes from the concentrated LGBT population in Forest Hills. White’s Council district was 70 percent African-American, while Huntley’s is only 58 percent. Nunes, though, said that he would focus his campaign on door-knocking and direct contact with voters all over the district, noting that he had performed well in a number of primarily AfricanAmerican districts in the race against White and two other black candidates. After coming up four votes short last year, Nunes said he would leave no stone unturned this time. “Winner takes all, loser takes nothing,” Nunes said. “I learned that the hard way.” cbragg@cityhallnews.com

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MAY 31, 2010

Our Perspective

Our City, Our Jobs, Our Future By Stuart Appelbaum President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW t really doesn’t seem like such a radical notion to say that public money, taxpayer money, should be used in a way that benefits the public. What could be simpler?

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That is the whole point of the new Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act introduced in the New York City Council by Council Members Oliver Koppell and Anabel Palma, both Democrats from the Bronx, at the behest of their borough's president, Ruben Diaz, Jr., on May 25. The bill, supported by a broad range of elected officials, unions and community groups, would require developers who receive public subsidies to ensure that a living wage of at least $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without be paid to all workers emThe bill establishes ployed at the development. In other words, the bill establishes that when public monies are used to help a developer, that developer should be required to return something of lasting value to the community. That something is good jobs.

Mayor Bloomberg has dismissed this as “a nice idea” but that the economics of developing in the city won't work if you pay people more. Nothing could be further from the truth. That argument is the same thing that was said by critics of the minimum wage and social security and just about every other social program instituted in this country and in this city. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

Without this bill, we will continue to be part of a race to the bottom. Employers will pay as little as they can get away with and working people and our communities will suffer the consequences. We need to do better. It’s more than a nice idea. It’s smart economically and politically—and it's the right thing to do. After all, it is Our City, Our Lives, Our Future.

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that when public monies are used to help a developer, that developer should be required to return something of lasting value to the community.

Visit us on the web at

www.rwdsu.org

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MAY 31, 2010

New WFP-Backed Members, Progressive Caucus, No Yank Left Yet In Council Votes on marquee legislation for prevailing wage, paid sick leave still far from clear BY CHRIS BRAGG t a Council Finance Committee hearing in early May, the chief of staff for Deputy Mayor Bob Lieber laid out the case for the Bloomberg administration’s opposition to the recently introduced prevailing wage bill. The moment Tokumbo Shobowale finished, several members of the Council’s newly-formed progressive caucus pounced. Council Member Brad Lander, cochair of the vocal new 12-member faction formed in early March to push the body left, questioned how the administration could oppose the bill without having studied it. His caucus co-chair and the bill’s sponsor, Melissa Mark-Viverito, said the administration had been unwilling to even meet with her. Another member, Jumaane Williams, said he was frustrated that the administration had been stonewalling all of their efforts. “It seems like the administration always comes from the opposite side of the issue,” said Williams, a Council freshman. Many of the members of the new caucus were supported by labor last fall precisely because they had a history of vocal activism and community organizing, and promised not to let the issues that mattered to working people get ignored. But although the progressives have certainly been vocal so far, it remains unclear what effect they are having in changing city policy. They held a rally in early May on the steps of City Hall calling for higher taxes on Wall Street fat cats to stave off budget cuts, but their concerns were immediately dismissed by the Bloomberg administration. At the recent Council hearing, when Council members were finally done grilling Shobowale, about 15 people from the Bloomberg administration got up to leave before hearing arguments from proponents of the bill. “Could you just leave somebody behind so they can hear what 32 BJ has to say?” asked Domenic Recchia, the Finance chair. A couple of people from the administration relented and stayed to listen. Some observers had expected more immediate progress on the union-backed agenda in the wake of 2009 election wins by Working Families Party-backed candidates, the number of which seemed to surprise the WFP itself. But even the paid sick leave bill, which many of the WFPbacked members campaigned on, is still being kicked around. Though the WFP throws a press conference each time the

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JERRY MILLER

bill gets reintroduced or reheard, actual legislative progress remains out of reach. A limited ability to pursue this agenda, combined with a desire to quickly make good on campaign pledges, has created some frustrations. “I feel like we’ve been here before,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, a member of the caucus, at one such rally before the bill was heard in the Civil Service and Labor Committee. “We’ve had this event before. Enough time for talking—we need action.” But the bill is likely to again be tabled until after budget negotiations. Council Speaker Christine Quinn, meanwhile, has not publicly taken a stance on the bill, waiting until it gets further amended through the committee process. One Council member supportive of the bill said the fact that Quinn was refusing to offer her public support—or an assurance that she would bring the bill to the floor—had allowed the business community to continue a full-court press assault in an effort to peel members off from a veto-proof majority. (According to sources in the business community, several of the 35 sponsors that constitute a veto-proof majority are expected to bolt if more concessions are not made.) “Her silence on this speaks volumes,” the Council member said. In a prospective 2013 mayoral race, he added, Quinn would be unlikely to get support from the WFP and their member unions anyway over other potential candidates in the field. This highlights her need to maintain positive relations with the business community, which since last

fall has been trembling over whether the new Council members would yank this and other legislation to the left. Council Member Dan Halloran, a Republican who has emerged as one of the strongest voices in opposition to the prounion agenda, said that initial fears about the Council’s rapid move leftward had not been realized. A number of Council members in the most important committee chair positions are more moderate. The new Council members are unschooled in the give-and-take of the legislative process. The tough economic situation has also played a role. “The economic times we’re in mean that the progressives who are trying to remake government have no money to do it,” Halloran said. Though the formation of a progressive caucus in March unified the backers of the liberal agenda into a more cohesive force, the business community has also unified in response to the paid sick leave bill, said Carl Hum, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Business leaders have held frequent meetings with lawmakers about the bill and have so far been able to delay a vote until more compromises are made. “It kind of keeps us on our toes in the business community,” Hum said. “People who haven’t seen eye-to-eye on things in the past have become more and more cohesive.” Even if legislative victories have not come yet for the progressive new members, though, some union leaders say that the very fact that these issues are getting serious hearing counts as a victory. The

prevailing wage bill was introduced with 34 co-sponsors and got its first hearing ever—after years of not even getting on the agenda. “It used to be that these things were swept under the rug,” said Pat Purcell, of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500. “Now these new members are pushing the issues, making people talk about it, and they’re seeing the light of day. Some of it might take a long time.” Union leaders say they will continue to press the argument that if workers are not paid a decent wage, they will instead rely on the city’s already strained social services. More so than in the past, union officials say, they will aggressively stay on members they helped elect to make good on campaign pledges. And the good news for the liberal members is that the best may be yet to come for the union-backed agenda. In 2013, there will be a new mayor, and a number of WFP-backed candidates, including Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, are seen as strong contenders. There will be a new speaker, and because of the term-limits extension, a number of the members newly elected last year will by then be senior Council members. Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr., one of the more conservative Democrats on the Council, cautioned against judging the impact of the progressive caucus just yet. “Getting these freshman Council members in there was a heck of a way to build for the future,” said Vallone. “It’s just a very unfortunate future.” cbragg@cityhallnews.com

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BUILDING WITH UNION CONTRACTORS IS BUILDING NYC’S MIDDLE CLASS

New Summer Session Courses and Certificates in International Relations and United Nations Studies Beginning in summer 2010, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and School of Continuing Education (SCE) will offer courses and certificates in two subject areas, Critical Issues in International Relations and United Nations Studies. Courses can be taken independently upon admission to SCE or as part of a four-course certificate program. This summer, seven courses will be mounted during two Summer Sessions.

Building Trades Employers Association www.bteany.com

A Message from Louis J. Coletti, President & CEO, Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA)

CRITICAL ISSUES IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

International Relations: Theory and Concepts • Intelligence and Special Operations US Foreign Policy • Terrorism and Counterterrorism UNITED NATIONS STUDIES

The United Nations: History and Practice of Security Council Sanctions The Security Council and Peacekeeping Operations in Africa in the 21st Century The UN and Development Summer Session One: May 24–July 2 Summer Session Two: July 6–August 13

A study done in 1998 by the NY City Council entitled, “Hollow in the Middle: The Rise and Fall of NYC’s Middle Class” reported that the middle class was shrinking in NYC. That report concluded “that fewer New Yorkers were members of the middle class in 1966 than was the case in 1997”. Sound familiar? When owners hire union contractors they are growing the middle class of NYC. Union contractors employ only building trade union members. Today: • 75% of building trade union members live in NYC according to the U.S. Census data • 75% of the 8,000 building trade apprentices live in NYC • 60% of the 8,000 building trade apprentices are minority and women

ce.columbia.edu/SIPA8 That is why hiring union contractors strengthens NYC’s middle class. Building trade unions provide jobs that pay good wages, health benefits, a good pension and also provides the highest skilled and safest construction sites in NYC. Construction Skills is a labor-management non-profit organization whose purpose is to recruit NYC high school graduates into the building trade apprentice programs. It is a nationally recognized model. From January 2001 to March 31, 2010: • A total of 1137 NYC high school graduates have been placed in apprenticeship programs; 933 youths and 204 adults. • 79% of the youths and 84% of the adults are currently working as apprentices and journeymen on NYC Construction Sites. • 87% of those placed in the apprenticeship programs are African American, Hispanic, Asian and women: • 51% are African American, • 36% are Hispanic, • 11% are Caucasian and • 3% are Asian and other Here is where they live: • 37% - Brooklyn • 28% - Bronx • 20% - Queens • 11% - Manhattan • 4% - Staten Island

The conclusion is clear and simple: When NYC builds NYC grows. When NYC builds union NYC builds its middle class.


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CITY HALL

www.cityhallnews.com

MAY 31, 2010

ISSUE

AFFORDABLE HOUSING Affordable Housing Is Lynchpin In State’s Economic Recovery FORUM

BY ASSEMBLY MEMBER VITO LOPEZ n Albany, we continue to face challenges on many fronts. In this economic crisis, we are forced to decide which essential programs to cut and which to try to save. As an Assemblyman and Chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee, I have dedicated my career to providing social services and creating quality affordable housing. I have a firm belief that investment in affordable housing is the lynchpin in ushering New York into economic recovery—enabling neighborhood stabilization, stimulating jobs and truly improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers, neighborhood by neighborhood. This “investment” means we must simultaneously preserve affordable housing, protect tenants residing there and facilitate the creation of new affordable housing. Each year, I lead the passage of a package of Rent Regulation Bills protecting tenants’ rights through rent regulation, combating luxury decontrol and fighting against tenant harassment, unreasonable rent increases and eviction. These laws serve to maintain affordable housing in our neighborhoods. To create and finance new affordable housing, I seek to develop innovative models to be widely replicated throughout New York.

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For instance, I spearheaded the New York State Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, providing funding for housing for households whose income is below the average median income. Also, I am responsible for reforming the 421a Tax Exemption Program to mandate a minimum of 20 percent on site affordability in any new development reaping these tax benefits. For the last quarter century, I have proudly seen communities entirely transformed by the creation of affordable

housing as a result of legislation I have passed. Bushwick is a prime example of such transformation. One by one, hundreds of vacant lots have been developed into affordable housing with my support and guidance. I continue to be an advocate for more affordable housing throughout New York State. As new developments are proposed, I stand firm in calling for maximum affordability in those projects. For instance, on the Williamsburg waterfront, there is a proposal to rezone and develop the Domino Sugar refinery site. Though proposed generally as a market-rate project, I have called for at least 40 percent of those units to be designated as affordable to serve residents well below the area median income. In doing so, this would create more than 800 new units of affordable housing. As Housing Chairman and a social worker by trade, I have many goals for the future. We must create new models of affordable housing. For example, currently the only model for affordable housing for seniors is a federal one. We must create similar state and city models to address the growing needs of New York’s older adults. We must harness state and local funding to develop not only an affordable housing model, but one with assisted living for low-income, at-risk seniors. In

Bushwick, I assisted in developing such a model with state and federal funds. All levels of government must make commitments to such initiatives. Another goal is protecting the rights of all loft dwellers throughout New York by creating progressive legislation now. It was I who led loft-law reform in the 1990s, allowing artists living in illegally converted buildings tenant protections. It is time to extend these protections to all loft dwellers. The Assembly, under my leadership, recently passed expanded loft laws to extend certain protections. I am now drafting more legislation to provide substantial relief to all loft tenants. I have and will continue to stand up against cuts to our housing programs. If we are to climb out of our economic crisis, I believe we do so with a creative vision for the future of affordable housing. I applaud efforts such as the Mayor’s New Housing Marketplace Plan and I encourage more programs of its kind with similarly inventive solutions. Investment in affordable housing is imperative and it is important to work together to meet the needs of all New Yorkers.

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Vito Lopez, a Democrat representing parts of Brooklyn, is chair of the Assembly Housing Committee.

Community Development Can Reverse City’s Affordable Housing Crisis BY COUNCIL MEMBER ERIK MARTIN DILAN e are in an “affordable” housing crisis. What used to be a code word for poor people’s housing is now seen by its more literal translation. Housing for most New Yorkers is 45 percent to 65 percent of their monthly income, and in many lowincome communities that percentage is even greater. Government must act or there will come a time when those who run our city, clean our streets and work the administrative jobs in our offices will no longer be able to afford to live in our city. Government needs to help put people back to work. For years, construction jobs for many of our building trades were at capacity. New York City was a bastion of activity, growth and economic resurgence. With the crisis on Wall Street and the economic downturn, the credit crunch has caused much of that work to slow or cease. Working with HPD, we can utilize the city’s capital plan to build low-income

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More Access

rental units for families who make 40 percent of AMI ($23,860) and below. According to HPD Commissioner Rafael Cestero, despite the credit crunch, banks are willing to invest in low-income rentals because the demand is so great. The Housing Vacancy Survey shows that there is a less than 1-percent vacancy rate for apartments $600 and below. These conditions create unique opportunities for government and labor to work together to address these issues. Our city pension funds are capped in the amount of money they can invest in community projects. We should begin discussions on how to raise this cap on community investment while maintaining our fiduciary responsibility to the pensions we are safeguarding. Pension investments in affordable housing stock will allow union members to go back to work and provide a pool of affordable housing for working families in New York City. Creating a lottery system that includes point credits specifically for union members will give those members a chance to acquire the housing they

fire code specifications. This legislation creates no cost to the city, helps struggling homeowners facing foreclosure generate additional revenue and reduces the amount of illegal conversions, which plague most residential neighborhoods. We are also in the early stages of a proposal to make permanent the affordability levels in city- or statesubsidized projects. Working with HPD and housing advocates, we are working on creative ways through legislation or better financing methods to maximize public investment in affordable housing. Seven other states have adopted similar legislation and it is time for New York to get on board. These are difficult times for our City, but in these times we must be bold and different. We can do something to help get us out of this crisis—the time to act is now, before it’s too late.

helped build. In this time of housing scarcity, creative ideas are needed. We need to bring new units online that already exist. My office will soon be introducing legislation to allow basement apartments to come online in certain residential areas, provided they’re up to building and

More News More

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Erik Martin Dilan, a Democrat representing parts of Brooklyn, is chair of the City Council Affordable Housing Committee. Eva Moskowitz, right, mulls a 2013 comeback (Page 8), new Council Member

Liz Crowley braves the harsh weather for her first day on the job

(Page 18)

and Richard Ravitch, left, explains

Vol. 3, No. 8

www.cityhallnews.com

January 2009

why everyone should get on board his plan to save the MTA (Page 23).

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IT’S TIME TO ASK SOME QUESTIONS:

LOCAL 46 METALLIC LATHERS UNION 1322 3RD AVE. NEW YORK, NY 10021 (212) 737 0500 BUSINESS MANAGER, FS/TREAS.: ROBERT A. LEDWITH BUSINESS AGENTS: TERRENCE MOORE RONNIE RICHARDSON FRED LE MOINE KEVIN KELLY PRESIDENT: JOHN COFFEY


10

MAY 31, 2010

ISSUE FORUM

www.cityhallnews.com

CITY HALL

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Government Obligated To Provide Lifeline To Tenants, Homeowners BY STATE SEN. PEDRO ESPADA, JR. he economic crisis has placed an extraordinary financial burden on families across the state. Tenants are struggling to pay their rent and homeowners can’t afford their mortgage and property taxes. While my legislative objectives for 2010 are wide-ranging—protections for farm workers and domestic workers; job creation; small-businesses development; property-tax relief; ethics reform; government consolidation; increased education, health care and transportation services—affordable housing is central among these priorities. It is the government’s obligation to provide a lifeline to tenants, which is why I have introduced an unprecedented rentassistance program that would freeze the rents of low- and middle-income and working families of rent-stabilized households in New York City’s five boroughs. Rent-stabilized households with a total annual income of $45,000 or less, and paying one-third or more of their income toward rent, would be eligible for a rent freeze. This would provide real and immediate rent relief to 600,000 rent-stabilized tenants, keeping money in their pockets to buy food, clothes and other necessities.

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The rent-freeze bill, S.6811, would allow landlords to pay back the J-51 tax benefits they received from the city and waive future benefits from this abatement program. The funds generated by a J-51 take-back—between $800 million and $1 billion—would fund the rent-freeze subsidy for hundreds of thousands of tenants. This rent-freeze program would be funded entirely by landlords and would not require any city, state or federal taxpayer dollars. In conjunction with members of the Senate Democratic Majority Conference, I have been working to secure millions

of dollars in additional funding for the rehabilitation and new construction of affordable housing throughout the state. It is important for state government, even during fiscal crisis, to aggressively fund capital projects, particularly affordable housing initiatives. While addressing housing needs, these projects also provide the impetus for economic recovery by revitalizing communities, creating good-paying jobs for local residents, and stimulating business for local contracting companies. I supported legislation recently signed into law that allowed 20,000 state-operated New York City Housing Authority apartments to receive $400 million in federal aid for capital projects, including modernization of kitchens and bathrooms and repairs and upgrades to elevators, boilers, roofs and lobbies. They also received millions of dollars in operational funding. There are a number of other affordable-housing initiatives, programs and legislation that I am advocating: • legislation that would limit a landlord’s ability to take possession of rent-stabilized apartments for their own personal use by permitting recovery of only one unit and restricting such recovery if a tenant has occupied the unit 20 or more years

• legislation that would prohibit landlords from abandoning preferential rent in rent-stabilized units upon lease renewal • legislation that would create a Housing Investment Fund with a dedicated revenue stream for capital projects involving construction of new affordable housing units and preservation of existing affordable housing • restoration of cuts to funding levels in last year’s enacted budget for neighborhood and rural preservation companies—non-profits whose free foreclosure prevention and other services are vital to the affordable housing infrastructure At a time of economic crisis, we should be seeking creative ways to increase the supply of affordable housing and additional rent-subsidy programs for low-income and working families—a population that traditionally has been ignored—which is why I have been successfully securing bipartisan support for my historic rent-freeze initiative.

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Pedro Espada, Jr., a Democrat representing parts of the Bronx, is the Majority Leader of the State Senate and chair of the Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee.

Preservation, New Construction To Meet Affordable Housing Challenges Head On BY RAFAEL CESTERO hy does affordable housing matter? To answer this question, read the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity’s (CEO) recent report that examined our city’s poverty rate. It found in part that, “access to the affordable housing provided by public programs appears to be a more important determinant of whether working families with low earnings can make it over the poverty line.” Additionally, U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in 2008, even with increases in the housing stock, half of all families with an annual income under $36,000 still put at least 52 percent of their paycheck toward rent costs. Recognizing the affordability crisis facing our city’s working families, Mayor Bloomberg launched the New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP) in 2003. Having just reached the milestone of financing more than 100,000 units of affordable housing, we are on pace to meet our goal to build and preserve 165,000 units for half a million New Yorkers by 2014. Today, a shrinking credit market and a mortgage foreclosure crisis have created a host of new economic challenges for our neighborhoods and families. At HPD we are meeting these challenges head-on—using preservation and new

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construction initiatives to expand the supply of affordable and sustainable housing, keeping families in their homes and strengthening neighborhoods. During the real estate boom, the city lost thousands of affordable housing units to hard-to-resist financing schemes that have proven to be unsustainable. This was the case in 2006 when the Ocelot Capital Group (OCG) purchased an already troubled portfolio of properties in the South Bronx. When the real estate bubble burst, OCG essentially walked out, leaving hundreds of families in severely physically and financially distressed buildings. We worked with our partners to set up a bidding pool and ensured that only companies with a history of responsible ownership could bid on the portfolio. And using tools like low-interest refinancing and rehabilitation loans, we assisted Omni New York LLC, the winning bidder, in bringing these overleveraged units back into the fold. We are now using the lessons learned here as a model for working with lenders to transfer troubled properties throughout the city to new, responsible owners. Redeveloping vacant city land is vital to reducing blight and stabilizing neighborhoods. The Melrose Commons North section of the Bronx, a

neighborhood once stigmatized by the phrase “the Bronx is burning,” is being reborn as a thriving community. When development is complete, this area will add approximately 770 affordable homes to the 2,743 already built or in construction within the larger Melrose Urban Renewal Area, and will join other success stories such as the recently completed Orion and Aurora condos. Helping the individual homeowner before foreclosure hits can also have a dramatic effect in keeping our neighborhoods stable and strong. We recently announced a $10 million dollar fund designed to keep families at risk of foreclosure in their homes. The Mortgage Assistance Program will provide loans to homeowners in neighborhoods most at risk for foreclosure, and will help borrowers obtain, or return to, sustainable, affordable loans. And we continue to work with our partners such as the Center for New York City Neighborhoods who, through a network of organizations, provides legal and homeownership counseling to those in need. All of the initiatives created through the NHMP have combined to make a difference in New York City. As the CEO’s poverty report points out, 480,000 more people would be living in poverty but for the investment this city makes in housing.

These people are the teachers, nurses, clerks, veterans and first-responders who are the irreplaceable backbone of our city. Staying on track to meet the goals of the NHMP is crucial to spurring our shortand long-term economic recovery and ensuring that this city remains vibrant, affordable and sustainable for all New Yorkers.

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Rafael Cestero is commissioner of the city Department of Housing Preservation & Development.


G N I D L I BU WHAT ISN’T THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY TALKING ABOUT? • • • • •

POOR WORKING CONDITIONS FLY-BY-NIGHT CONTRACTORS WORKERS PAID “OFF THE BOOKS” DANGEROUS WORKING CONDITIONS POOR QUALITY CONSTRUCTION

IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT BUILT IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD? AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN OUR CITY HAS BEEN BUILT BY NON-UNION CONTRACTORS AND WORKERS WHO ARE PAID “OFF THE BOOKS” AND SUBJECT TO UNSAFE WORKING CONDITIONS.

TELL NEW YORK CITY THAT WE DEMAND BETTER FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN OUR COMMUNITIES.

NEW YORK CITY & BOROUGHS (DC9 MAIN OFFICE) 45 WEST 14TH STREET | PHONE: 212-255-2950 | FAX: 212-255-1151 | WWW. DC9.NET


12

MAY 31, 2010

CITY HALL

www.cityhallnews.com

CAMPAIGN

TRIAL

Dan Donovan presents his case

By David Freedlander win?” That was what the half-handful of reporters who had come to cover what had become one of the most long-awaited and eagerly anticipated political announcements of the year wanted to know. And not only them: a Republican has not been elected to an open seat in New York state in 16 years. Popular or incumbent Democrats are running for governor and both Senate seats against largely token opposition. The Democrats have had five attorney general candidates with various strengths battling it out for a year, and with Donovan’s long deliberation about whether to jump in, anything but the primary had started to seem like an afterthought. Standing on the steps of the Manhattan Supreme Court House framed by his two biggest boosters—Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his 86-year-old mother, Kathy— Donovan and the dozen supporters holding “Had Enough” signs tried to turn the question: the voters would now choose a Republican, precisely because they had elected so many Democrats in so many elections in the last decade and a half. “I think the people of our state realize that one-party rule doesn’t work,” he said. “It’s failed us. I think the people of New York realize we need a balanced government, and that’s what they are going to show in November.” Republicans—most vocally former Sen. Al D’Amato—tried to lure Donovan into the attorney general’s race in 2006. But he never pulled the trigger. Then in 2008, after Vito Fossella’s spontaneous combustion, Republicans tried to get him to run for Congress. Again he declined. The refusals did nothing to stop the courting, and this time around, he routinely got calls from county chairs all over the state, many of whom he had never met. For the past six months, a campaign kickoff announcement seemed imminent. But it did not come, and some began to worry that he lacked the heart or the interest or the ambition to go through with the race. Donovan is especially cautious, even for a politician. Weighing his decision this year, he turned to just about every mentor he could find, from his old boss Guy Molinari, the former Staten Island borough president, to former Giuliani aides Denny Young and Tony Carbonetti. He seemed genuinely undecided, those who spoke to him said. The attorney general’s job had always been a Donovan goal, but he was worried that the timing was not right, and he was concerned about raising the necessary money. And he was worried that if he lost, he would become vulnerable to a challenge on Staten Island in 2011, when his current term as DA ends. There was good reason to skip running, Molinari said, just like he told Donovan. “I was advising him that he shouldn’t do it,” Molinari said. “I looked at it and I thought it was a tough race. I didn’t want to see my guy lose. But he was waiting for the right people to express confidence in his ability to win and to show him how.” Those people were Bradley Tusk and Mike Bloomberg. Tusk, the architect of Bloomberg’s 2009 victory, had been quietly lining up the pieces for Donovan for months. He wanted Donovan to run, was convinced that he could carry a message that would put the campaign over the top in November. For those looking for what finally pulled him into the race, Donovan said, the answer is simple. “Bradley Tusk I fell in love with,” Donovan said. “The energy he has, he is brilliant. I don’t know how many thoughts he can have in his head at one time.”

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

HE FIRST QUESTION posed to Dan Donovan after he officially became a candidate for attorney general boiled down, simply, to this: “Do you really think you can


CITY HALL Tusk commissioned a poll at the beginning of the year and Donovan was impressed enough by the results to begin assembling a campaign team. “The poll was encouraging,” Donovan said. “Bradley said, ‘Let’s do this, we can win.’ And I said, ‘Bradley, I believe you.’” But still Donovan waited, searching people out for advice. He gave himself a self-imposed deadline of Easter Weekend to make up his mind. “I don’t know if it was a spiritual thing, being Easter and everything, but I said, I am going to take a couple of days and don’t talk to anybody about it any longer. I would think about it, and I would come to a decision. And let me tell you something, all the ups and downs of whether you are running or not running, the ebbs and tides—I tell you, when I made the decision to run, there was a calmness, a steadiness. And I made a decision. I said, ‘I got to do this.’”

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fter the kick-off speech, Donovan rode the Staten Island Ferry back home, where another crowd was gathering to cheer him on in his first day out on the trail. “I think we heard a [fundraising] commitment from the mayor back there,” he joked. “Did anyone else catch that? That was on the record, right?” As the water whipped by, Donovan huddled with a small group of aides and reporters accompanying him, joking, answering questions, joking some more. On breaks from going over his rationale for running, he checked to see who among them had made it to Mass in the morning. Then he turned back to the argument he is trying to make: he wants to restore the public’s faith in politicians. “My mom will tell you, when she grew up they didn’t know there was another president. There was only Roosevelt.” He pronounced it “Rooce-velt” and turned to his mother.

www.cityhallnews.com stick of mint chewing gum. “Thanks, ma,” he said. Donovan has the backslappy manner of a George W. Bush-style political personality, combined with the warmth of an old-school Irish candidate. Scott becomes Scotty around Donovan, William goes from Bill to Billy. He is as amiable as politicians who make it through two borough-wide races get and, as evidenced by the crew members and fellow travelers who came up to him on the ferry to congratulate him and wish him well, popular. This likeability will be a key component of Donovan’s campaign going forward. Even Democrats concede that the more Donovan can get out in front of voters, the more they will like him. With a field of Democrats who are either largely unknown or not known for the warmth, this could be a tremendous asset. “There is no one who has met him that does not like Dan Donovan,” said Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr., a Democrat who toyed with running for attorney general himself and might have been another contender for Bloomberg’s support. That likeability has always been an asset. Molinari, a longtime powerbroker in Staten Island Republican Party circles, brought Donovan back to Staten Island after only having met him once. This was a return to Staten Island, where Donovan had grown up in a three-bedroom apartment in workingclass Tompkinsville. His father was a union longshoreman, who Donovan said struggled with alcoholism, and his mother worked in a uniform factory. They were Democrats, as he was until the 1980s, when he made the fast progression from Reagan Democrat right over to the GOP. He frames the affiliation switch in simple political terms, as if he is reading from a Republican recruitment brochure. “Growing up, they said the Democrats were for the poor and the working class and Republicans were for the rich,” he said. “And then as I got older I found out that wasn’t true. There were just different political philosophies—should we have a large government that controls people’s lives or should there be a government that provides people for things they can’t do individually, that have to be done collectively, like protect them.” Asked what prompted him, he thought for a moment about when he had made the switch. “It might have been the Reagan years. I said, ‘Yeah, that’s right. We have to pick up people’s garbage, we have to remove the snow, we have to put out their fires, but they have to choose where they want to live and things like that,’” he said. “We have to allow people to go out and

When asked about the discrepancy between what he says he wants to do and his experience doing it, Donovan explained, “We’ve really had limited cases.” “Right, ma? But people believed in their leaders. They didn’t always agree with them, but they believed in them, and I think people have to believe again that their elected officials are telling them the truth.” As Donovan spoke, his mother, who had accompanied him on the journey, reached into her purse and handed him a

MAY 31, 2010

13

With Cuomo On Ballot Line, Donovan-Rice Decision Next Trial For IP The Republican candidate for attorney general is all but settled. The Democrats all got on the ballot. But the Independence Party line is still up for grabs, and whoever gets it could have a major leg up in the race to become the state’s next top cop. Sources within the Independence Party say that the battle for Row C is locked between Republican Dan Donovan and Democrat Kathleen Rice as the party heads into its June 5 convention in Albany. Both candidates are making major plays for the line. “Albany is controlled by a narrow handful of special interests that have led to a dysfunctional government,” said Bradley Tusk, an adviser for Donovan. “What you need is somebody who is independent of that system to be effective, and Dan is the only truly independent candidate in this race.” Advisers to Rice say that she is waiting until a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into an Independence Party operative is finished, but that she expects to make a strong push for the Party’s line as well. “District Attorney Rice has a long history of independent and reform-minded leadership that we believe will garner her significant support with this party’s members,” said campaign spokesman Eric Phillips in a statement. “There’s no doubt that the line is a valuable avenue to a great deal of general election support.” Rice is believed to have the tacit support of Andrew Cuomo, whom the IP rushed to endorse two days before he was formally nominated by the Democratic Party. And at the Democratic Party convention, Rice received a nominating vote by Steve Pigeon, who has served as a close aide to billionaire Tom Golisano, a founding Independence Party member who ran for governor three times on its line. But Donovan has his own rabbis in the Independence Party. He was introduced at his campaign kickoff by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was described by Independence Party chairman Frank Mackay as “the man we would most like to see become President of the United States. Needless to say, when he speaks, we listen.” Especially with Cuomo potentially influencing the IP toward Rice, this could become the first political proxy battle between two men who are getting ready to lock horns through budget battles and other showdowns for the next three years. Tusk has deep relationships of his own with the party, and was one of the people helping craft the strategy for its collaborative work with REBNY and other real estate interests. While Cuomo may help, Golisano’s involvement has waned. Bloomberg’s influence on the Independence Party has increased. He sent over $1 million the party’s way before the November election (including the money that is now under scrutiny by the Manhattan district attorney’s office), and he scored nearly 150,000 votes—his margin of victory—on that line. And the party made big gains elsewhere in the state as dissatisfaction with the other two parties has grown. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino received 14,000 votes on the IP line in his upset win. Party sources say that they expect to garner 300,000 to 400,000 votes in the attorney general’s race in 2010. “Starting in 2008 and in 2009, in this climate, we have seen the interest in our line skyrocket,” MacKay said. Those votes could be crucial for Donovan’s electoral prospects, considering the vast registration advantage that Democrats have over Republicans in the state. Political observers say that his steep climb to the AG’s office as a down-ballot GOPer gets exponentially steeper if he fails to make it onto Row C. But Rice is geographically close to the Long Island-based MacKay. She won her first race against Denis Dilon, a 30-year incumbent, in part by beating him in an Independence Party primary before beating Dilon in the general election. She may be boxed in, though, by the five-way Democratic Primary underway. The Independence Party has become anathema to many hard-core Democrats, some of whom are already skeptical of Rice’s relatively recent switch in party affiliation from lowercase-“i” independent to Democrat, which came in the years before her first run for district attorney. “A Republican turned Democrat who wants the Independence line is different from someone who has been a Democrat for a long time,” said Assembly Member Richard Brodsky, who is also vying for the Democratic nomination. And, according to one source in the Independence Party, the recent decision to allow all the Democrats onto the ballot means that it will be harder for Rice to receive the Independence nod, since party members cannot be certain that she will still be running come November. “Of course we consider electability,” said the source. “Nobody who endorses a candidate does it because they expect them to lose.” -David Freedlander work and choose their own lives. I was fortunate to choose what I want to do, and everybody ought to have that freedom.” Donovan went to law school at night

at Fordham, stopped briefly afterward for a job at a white-shoe law firm, then landed at Manhattan DA’s office under Bob Morgenthau. A few years later, when


he was preparing to become an aide to Bernie Kerik, Molinari made him chief of staff. In Molinari’s office, and later when he served as deputy borough president to Molinari’s chosen successor, Jim Molinaro, Donovan was the guy people went to in order to get things done, much like deputy mayor Ed Skyler was in the Bloomberg administration. While at Borough Hall, Donovan helped close the Fresh Kills landfill and build a minor league baseball stadium on the North Shore of Staten Island and met political powerbrokers up and down the state. In 2003, Donovan was Molinari’s handpicked choice to take back the district attorney’s office, which had been in Democratic hands for half a century, even though Donovan had not tried a case in years. In office, Donovan cleared out a bunch of patronage employees and got high marks for bringing in more AfricanAmerican, Hispanic and female lawyers. Donovan himself has acknowledged to people that he is not a legal scholar, but legal experts on Staten Island credit him for adding a witness protection program to the Island’s justice system, for taking on drunk drivers and for becoming the first prosecutor there to use DNA to successfully prosecute a rape case. Like Bloomberg, Donovan is obsessed with statistics, and he proudly touts the fact that under his leadership, Staten Island went from having the lowest conviction rate in the five boroughs to boasting the highest, even though defense attorneys there say he has done so at the cost of giving too many minor offenders a record and of clogging up the court system. Ever Mr. Nice Guy, he shoves off the credit. “We have done a great job in Staten Island,” Donovan said. “I am not egotistical. I have no ego. I am just proud of what we did. And I didn’t try a case in the last six and a half years. I didn’t put a case in from of a grand jury, I didn’t interview a witness. My staff did. They put this record together. But hopefully people will recognize that [our success] happened under my leadership, under the priorities I’ve put in place and the emphasis I’ve put on things in the office.” If Donovan does win the AG’s race, his office will likely look much different than the district attorney’s office, or, for that matter, how the AG’s office looked under Andrew Cuomo or Eliot Spitzer, both of whom sought a national profile while they bided their time for higher office. Already Donovan is almost the extent of the GOP statewide bench, and were he to win this race, he would no doubt automatically be on the very short list of GOP hopefuls for higher office. But though that would give him good reason to antagonize Andrew Cuomo, should Cuomo perform half as well as his poll numbers and win, Donovan says he is looking for the attorney general’s office

CITY HALL

www.cityhallnews.com

MAY 31, 2010

Bloomberg 2010: The Dan Donovan Project

DANIEL S. BURNSTEIN

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Perhaps the largest of the pieces Bradley Tusk helped put together for Dan Donovan was Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor has endorsed and pumped up various candidates over the years, but no one has received the full-Bloomberg quite like Donovan, with the campaign kickoff appearance and a clear indication of his coming endorsement days before even a formal announcement was made. The two have been political allies since Bloomberg’s 2001 race, with Donovan lending the Democrat-turned-Republican some red-state cred when the would-be mayor was out stumping on Staten Island. They have also developed a deeper friendship, often going for a round of golf after finishing parade routes together. So maybe the mayor was there that Sunday out of his deep sense of loyalty to those who were loyal to him when he was a lonely billionaire searching for political office. Donovan is likable, one of the most amiable guys in politics, as just about everyone agrees—maybe the mayor just wants to help out a guy like him. Or there are the more Machiavellian theories: he wants an ally against Andrew Cuomo and Shelly Silver in Albany next year, or a sheriff who does not come loaded for bear against the mayor’s Wall Street allies. Whatever it is, the mayor made clear where his priorities are this year. Forget about the State Senate Republicans, apparently. The mayor has picked a new priority. “I am going to do everything I can to help him become New York’s next attorney general,” Bloomberg said.“ Because I truly believe this state needs change and this guy will help effect that change.” When asked what he meant by “everything I can,” the mayor responded, “I would be happy to ask my friends to give him money. There is a limit to what he can take and I will certainly give him that money personally.” To start, the mayor will be hosting a fundraiser for Donovan later this month at his Upper East Side townhouse. —DF

to have, in effect, a smaller role. Most importantly, he said, he would shrink its footprint from de facto regulator in chief in areas where the federal government has stepped back. “My goal is not to destroy people’s lives and disrupt entire businesses or industries because there are a few people in there that are corrupt,” Donovan said. “You can extract the weeds out of a business or an industry without pulling out the entire industry. There are ways to do that without putting tens of thousands of people out of work.”

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about how the Staten Island GOP just endorsed Fossella for Congress, but then makes the argument that, since he is a district attorney, he cannot speak on the record about it. The legal logic there might be a stretch, but Donovan uses it to cover his policy

was refusing his phone calls are greeted with a joke and polite duck. “Those reports weren’t accurate—I hope you didn’t write those,” he said. “I don’t want to speak for the man, but Ed has a lot on his plate right now. He has been very good to me.” New Yorkers, though, have gone more for steely-eyed crusaders than the affable, genial buddy in picking attorneys general in recent years, and Donovan has been trying to attach himself to tougher rhetoric than has been his style so far in his career. At his kickoff speech, Donovan ran through the names of the Capitol officials from both parties that have come to symbolize a broken system—Spitzer, Hevesi, Bruno, Espada, Seminerio—but he has been vague on what he would do to clean up the mess. He wants more disclosure of conflict of interest, particularly as it relates to member items. Donovan’s campaign is banking on his reputation as a straight shooter more than any particular record to sell him as someone who can police State Street. His supporters point to an instance in 2007 as a crucial element of the Donovanas-political-reformer pitch. Borough President Jim Molinaro’s grandson was arrested for violating an order of protection and pummeling a 14-yearold delivery boy for the Staten Island Advance. Because Donovan worked for Molinaro before becoming district attorney, he took himself off the case and sent it to the Manhattan D.A. Molinaro’s grandson was sentenced to five years in prison, and the borough president became apoplectic, taking out a full-page ad in The Advance accusing Donovan of a gross miscarriage of justice. All smack in the middle of his re-election race, which he went on to win by a huge margin, albeit in an ultra-low, off-year race. The resulting press was so favorable that observers joked that Donovan might be secretly paying Molinaro for the declaration of war. That incident, though, is about the extent of Donovan’s experience with public corruption. An air of corruption has surrounded Molinaro since he took office, and news accounts have connected him to a mob-linked union snitch. Donovan has not made any overt moves to look into him. Nor did he go after the other end of the political spectrum, leaving action, if only to score a few political points, on the Working Families Party’s role in Debi Rose’s Council campaign to Randy Mastro’s civil lawsuit. Even the treasurer testifying that he had not written and was not familiar with the information in sworn affidavits did not stir Donovan to act. The judge himself halted the testimony and instructed the treasurer to get a lawyer—but no perjury charge came out of Donovan’s office. When asked about the discrepancy between what he says he wants to do and his experience doing it, Donovan

“There is no one who has met him that does not like Dan Donovan,” said Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr.

few days after his campaign kickoff, Donovan shows up for an interview at City Hall Restaurant in Lower Manhattan. He maneuvers his way into the back bar, careful to avoid the noonday beer drinkers. He is buzzing

of not talking negatively about other campaigns and other people. Even when knocking Cuomo’s record, he is careful to preface it with, “I’m not necessarily saying, but other people have said this…” Even the news reports that Ed Cox


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explained, “We’ve really had limited cases. We’ve had some—not public officials so much as city employees. … We haven’t something like the Alan Hevesi case or the Guy Velella case, thank God.” Focusing on Albany instead of Wall Street sends a signal to financial industry voters who feel besieged by 12 years of Spitzer/Cuomo that they now have a supporter in one statewide office. Donovan has always been knocked as an anemic fundraiser. His supporters say this is unfair, since he never had to fundraise much, and the restrictions placed on DAs make dialing for dollars harder than for most candidates. This year, they promise, will be different. And anyway, with Donovan on the ballot, those Goldman and JP Morgan dollars have a place to go again. Plus, though Bloomberg may be limited in the amount of money that he personally can give Donovan, he can still send money to the Independence Party, whose Row C is crucial to Donovan’s election prospects, the campaign acknowledges, with most political observers expecting the Democrats to prevail in the races for governor and Senate by at least 10 points. The Donovan campaign is planning to focus on areas of the state where there are competitive congressional races, hoping that extra turnout in those races is enough to put Donovan over the top. Among them will be the race for the seat he passed on seeking in 2008 and Fossella passed on seeking again this year, where having Donovan at the effective top of the ticket could help Republicans swing a seat back to them. It remains, even his supporters concede, a long shot. Their best hope, they say, is for a long, drawn-out Democratic primary that leaves the eventual nominee bloodied, broke and all the way on the left side of the political spectrum. They want one of the legislators in the race, or one of the largely unknown candidates. They do not want Kathleen Rice, who gives him a fight for nearly every demographic, geographic and biographic element of his campaign. Both Donovan and Rice can run as tough-oncrime DAs, and both have similar bases among Catholic and suburban voters. But Rice is a woman, pro-choice and, most importantly, a Democrat in a state where there are three million less Republicans. But Donovan says he is unconcerned. He thinks voters will see through his personal beliefs on abortion, understanding that he will enforce the law as it’s written. He says he needs Democrats to vote for him, independents too, just like they did on Staten Island. “I had to decide I wanted to do this. Look, my life is very good right now. This is a $40,000 cut in pay for me, I live ten minutes from my job, I am real proud of what we are doing in the office. If you add all of those things up, it just makes sense for me to stay where I am. But I am just as frustrated as everybody else.” dfreedlander@cityhallnews.com

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Amid More Bureaucratic Shuffling At DOE, A Deputy’s Star Rises Eric Nadelstern, chief schools officer, is seen as possible Klein successor BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS he Department of Education has reorganized the school system yet again. But one thing has remained consistent: the Department does not like to use the word “reorganization” to describe the reshufflings and restructurings that have, on an almost annual basis, changed the way students, teachers and principals interact with each other, their schools and the central office.

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In the most recent reorganization, in which one division was downsized and several offices were consolidated and shuffled around, Eric Nadelstern came out on top. He now oversees the newly created Division of School Support and Instruction, where he makes decisions about how schools receive administrative aid and wields authority over a key aspect of the department’s agenda. Where some people see chaos and confusion in the Department of Education’s frequent bureaucratic reorganizations, Nadelstern, chief schools officer and one of Chancellor Joel Klein’s closest advisors, sees millions in cost savings. “We anticipated the need to extract as much savings from central [DOE headquarters] as we possibly could,” Nadelstern said, seated in the vast rotunda at Tweed Courthouse. “Saving millions of dollars was just compelling in a bad budget year.” Klein has often been criticized for cultivating a central staff that included more lawyers than teachers. Nadelstern is the latter, a mustachioed, 40-year veteran of Bronx schools (including several he founded) who has followed a different path than many of the city’s old guard of teachers. A little over a decade ago, Nadelstern was advocating for smaller class sizes and speaking out against standardized testing. Today, he proudly espouses Klein’s and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education philosophy, which prioritizes charter schools and reformed teacher evaluations over smaller class sizes. “I reserve the right to be smarter today than I was yesterday,” said Nadelstern, quoting a West German chancellor from the 1960s. Since joining the department’s central office, Nadelstern has been seen by many as a possible next-in-line for the top spot. Nadelstern is not lacking in ambition—in 2006, he applied to be superintendant of

the Las Vegas school system. He said he former administrator who has worked was offered the job, but opted to stay in closely with Nadelstern and was discourNew York City after Klein called to offer aged by his rise in prominence at Tweed. him a job at Tweed. Like Klein, Nadel- “They just ended up with the wrong peostern is something of a controversial fig- ple.” But James Liebman, former chief ure, most recently rankling a number of teachers at a forum in early May by as- accountability officer for the departserting that those in the audience would ment, said Nadelstern understands what probably not want at least two-thirds of schools need to succeed. “He has a vast historical perspective,” the city’s teachers to teach their own chilLiebman said. “He was long an insurgent dren. Nadelstern is spearheading the de- voice for kids and for schools, saying, ‘We partment’s Children First Network, a really know how to move kids forward, pilot program that seeks to personalize the way schools receive non-academic logistical support. Last year, Nadelstern said 20 networks of schools, each consisting of about 20 schools, voluntarily joined the pilot. This year, he said he anticipates a total of 60 networks will be included in the program. The support organizations help with budgeting, training and curriculum development, which were once provided by school districts and superintendants. “The feedback has been very supportive,” Nadelstern said. “Principals rate Children First Networks more highly than they rate other networks.” A report from the DOE Since joining the department’s central office, last year, though, showed Chief Schools Officer Eric Nadelstern has most city schools pre- been seen by many as a possible next-in-line ferred to stay in their cur- for the top spot. rent support networks rather than switch to the pilot structure. just give us the responsibility and get out And the Children First Networks and oth- of the way and let us do that.’” Even though he has not led a classroom er previous bureaucratic reorganizations have been criticized by parent groups and in many years, he still considers himself a teacher. He agrees with the notion unions for being too confusing. Ernest Logan, president of the Council that Bloomberg has transformed the of School Supervisors and Administra- city school system more than any other tors, said the Department seems to be dis- previous mayor, but says there is still tancing itself from providing direct sup- much work to be done. “We still have a system of schools that port to schools through these constant by and large are built on a 19th-century reshufflings. “More and more, they’ve removed agrarian, assembly-line model,” he said. themselves from direct assistance to “We’ve got to rethink hiring practices, schools,” Logan said. “None of this has we’ve got to rethink the way we worked. I’ve yet to see an evaluation of compensate people, we’ve got to rethink the way we structure schools.” any of this.” He added, “I don’t think there are very Nadelstern has also been criticized many people, including myself, who are personally. “Had there been a few people down prepared to fully engage with how to there [in the central office] who under- prepare students for a world we’ve never stood children and learning and teachers, known.” this could have been fantastic,” said one ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

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ew York may have the highest labor enrollment of any state in the nation, but that does not make being a labor leader any easier these days. The movement is on the decline nationally. The economy still has not fully recovered and the city faces a multibillion-dollar deficit. But with the strong leadership of people in the city’s labor movement, New York remains a union town. For the May Power Matrix, City Hall, with the input of political consultants and longtime observers of the movement, compiled a list of 12 of the most effective

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labor leaders in the city, a tough task given the slew of qualified candidates. Some come from the city’s largest unions, while others have a small membership but have had an outsized impact. Some are known for negotiating contracts with the city, while others are known for their political skills. Only heads of unions (not political directors or other staff positions) were considered. The common theme: these are the leaders who deliver the most for their members in city government and politics.

By Chris Bragg

Photos by Andrew Schwartz

GARY LABARBERA JACK AHERN

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30 Central Labor Council Number of members: 4,000 Represent: Mechanical and engineering workers Time on job: Business manager and financial secretary of Engineers since 1996, president of CLC since 2008 Notable accomplishment: As president of the CLC, Ahern was instrumental in hashing out living-wage agreements for workers at city-subsidized projects in Greenpoint/Williamsburg, Coney Island and Willets Point. During his tenure running the 400-member CLC umbrella union organization, Ahern has helped broker deals with the city to ensure living wages would be paid in several major city-subsidized construction projects, a fight he continues with the recent introduction in the City Council of a bill requiring the pay of prevailing wages at taxpayer-funded projects. He is also frequently on the phone with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, working behind the scenes as the central voice of the labor movement. Observers say Ahern’s position as head of the CLC, meanwhile, has also given increased clout to the Operating Engineers, the union of equipment mechanics that he heads, despite its relatively small size. Now, Ahern is leading the charge to make Wall Street pay back taxpayers for the money it lost through alleged financial misdeeds, including proposals for a bonus tax and a stock-transfer tax—ideas, he said, that would serve all working men and women. “One of the abilities you have to have in this job is to be able to see beyond your own personal gain, to see what issues are for the good of the city,” Ahern said.

Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York Number of members: 100,000 Represent: Construction workers Time on job: President since 2009 Notable accomplishment: Negotiated a project labor agreement with both the Bloomberg administration and private contractors that saved tens of thousands of his members’ jobs. When Gary LaBarbera assumed duties as the new head of the Building Trades Council in early 2009, the construction industry was in the midst of a collapse. Lending had halted. Funds for city projects had dried up. LaBarbera first set about reaching a new project labor agreement with the Building Trades’ Employers Association, an alliance of 17,000 city contractors. After six months, they reached a deal revising normal work rules that saved some 20,000 of his members’ jobs. At the same time, LaBarbera was also negotiating a first-ever such agreement with the city that took about 10 months to hash out and involved five different city agencies. (He recalls that the deal was so far-reaching and complex that 40 or 50 people from the union and city would be huddled in a room trying to hammer out the details.) In the end, the city saved some $340 million, while 35,000 jobs in LaBarbera’s union were spared. “This if the first time anything like this has ever been done with the city of New York,” he said. “We’re very, very proud. It’s a win-win for everybody.” LaBarbera is also known for being the first full-time head of the Central Labor Council following Brian McLaughlin’s 2006 arrest on charges of embezzling more that $2 million. LaBarbera said his focus had been to clean up the BCTC’s operations and make it more transparent and democratic. “In my mind, I was able to execute those things,” he said. “I think I was able to bring stability and create a stable environment.”


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WILFREDO LARANCUENT

Laundry, Dry Cleaning and Allied Workers Joint Board Number of members: 5,000 Represent: Laundry workers Time on job: Manager since 2000 Notable accomplishment: As a member of the executive board of the Working Families Party, Larancuent was a key player in the party’s electoral success in 2009. Though the laundry workers’ union is fairly small, observers say that Wilfredo Larancuent’s influence in the city’s labor movement has been outsized in recent years. He has been very active within the Working Families Party as an executive board member, pushing an agenda focusing on increased affordable housing and affordable transportation. He is also leading the reorganization of ACORN into New York Community For Change, as the organization looks to refashion itself following a period of upheaval. And on the national level, Larancurent has also been a major player. In 2009, as vice-president of UNITE HERE, Larancurent helped lead the charge to

MIKE FISHMAN SEIU Local 32 BJ

Number of members: 70,000 in New York City (120,000 nationwide) Represent: Property service workers Time on job: President since 1999 Notable accomplishment: Recently avoided a strike and struck a last-minute deal with the Realty Advisory Board on a new contract giving city doormen a 10-percent raise over the next four years while increasing employer contributions toward health benefits and pensions by nearly 20 percent.

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In the decade that Mike Fishman has been president of 32 BJ, the union has become a multi-state powerhouse, growing from 45,000 members to 120,000 through aggressive organizing campaigns and consolidations with other unions in the city. As the union’s power has grown, Fishman said, he has been careful to keep the agenda member-focused. For instance, among the 30,000 doormen who recently got a new contract with the Realty Advisory Board, some 2,000 member representatives were actively engaged in determining the top five issues they wanted negotiated before going to the bargaining table. Fishman said going through this process gives both his members and business interests at the other side of the table a clear idea of where they stand. “I believe at the very least we need to be completely united behind those most important issues,” he said. “Or else, we’re going to be united in being on strike.” Fishman is also seen as taking a less ideologically driven approach than some union leaders, pragmatically reaching out to the Bloomberg administration and property owners to find common ground. Though he is wrestling with the administration on a bill that would require a living wage to be paid to his workers on city-subsidized development, for instance, the union has also worked closely on the administration’s goal of creating green buildings in the city. An increasingly powerful player within the Working Families Party, the union still sometimes goes its own way, as when it backed Bloomberg for re-election last year.

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split off 100,000 workers from the union into a new group, WORKERS UNITED, that he said would focus more on the needs of low-income workers. Larancuent, whose own union consists of about 80-percent recent immigrants, said he had a unique perspective on the needs of his workers as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic himself. Larancuent said the key to his organizing approach was empowering workers to do the same job he does. “The way you apply pressure is train people to organize,” he said. “You want people going out and doing these things themselves.”

PETER WARD

New York Hotel Trades Council Number of members: 30,000 Represent: Hotel Workers Time on job: President since 1996 Notable accomplishment: The union’s political operation has backed the winning candidate for all three citywide offices and in nine out of 10 Council race in 2009.

Five years ago, Peter Ward said he had a revelation. The union had long had an active membership, and had given a lot of money to political candidates. But he realized that in order to secure the futures of his mostly low-income membership, they needed to be the union directly

responsible for getting politicians elected. Now, under the watch of political director Neil Kwatra, the union’s political operation trains members on issues and in political organizing, so that when they knock on doors or phone-bank, they can speak credibly on behalf of the candidates they are supporting. “Our members don’t just show up and wear a T-shirt,” Ward said. “They’re there 100 days before an election.” Ward said that this is all necessary because of changes in the hotel industry in the past decade: a new wave of non-unionized hotels that sprung up during the development boom. In recent years, though, the union’s political power has helped ensure that new hotels at Willets Point, Aqueduct Racetrack and Coney Island are unionized. On the state level, Gov. David Paterson signed an executive order last year easing unionizing at state-funded developments. Ward said these developments were a result of the new political strategy paying off. “Our members have extraordinary needs,” Ward said. “What I came to understand over the past five years is that giving money alone was not enough.”


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HARRY NESPOLI

Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association Municipal Labor Committee Number of members: 6,100 Represent: Sanitation workers Time on job: President since 2003 Notable accomplishment: In 2007, struck a 54month contract with the city, including a nearly 20-percent increase in wages and benefits. As head of the Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella organization for the city’s public-sector unions, Harry Nespoli has a front-and-center view as member unions hash out contracts with the Bloomberg administration, and has led negotiations with the city on wage increases. (Other aspects of contracts, such as benefits, are negotiated separately.) For all of the wrangling back-and-forth with the city, though, Nespoli said he believes Bloomberg’s fiscal prudence has kept the city in better shape than anyone else could have. “He’s one of the best mayors we’ve ever had at managing the city and its money,” said Nespoli, whose own union endorsed Bloomberg for re-election.

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Nespoli said that Bloomberg has also had a creative attitude in dealing with his union, allowing its members to take Martin Luther King Day off, for instance, in exchange for other concessions. Nespoli said the administration, meanwhile, had plenty of reasons to feel thankful toward his members: efficiency improvements implemented by his members in recent years have saved the city some $2.5 billion, he said. As for his job leading the Municipal Labor Committee, Nespoli said it is all about juggling competing priorities. “It’s very difficult being the chair,” he said. “You try to reach a resolution with everyone and sit down with everyone, but everyone has a different opinion.”

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MIKE MULGREW

United Federation of Teachers Number of members: 163,000 Represent: Public- (and some charter-) school teachers Time on job: President since July 2009. Notable accomplishment: Only months after his appointment as president, Mulgrew won election with 91 percent of the vote. Mike Mulgrew kept a low profile for his first few months after being appointed to succeed Randi Weingarten. Then, he was seemingly everywhere, taking a more confrontational tact than had Weingarten on a range of issues, including filing a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to stop a slew of school closures. “The first two months, people were saying, ‘You’re being too quiet,’” Mulgrew said. “The second two months, they said, ‘You’re being too loud.’” Whatever the perception, the approach appears to have worked: Mulgrew recently won election by a historically huge margin. He attributes the big win in part to the outspoken opposition to his performance by

a certain anti-teachers-union tabloid newspaper. “The New York Post certainly hasn’t hurt,” Mulgrew said. Since his re-election, Mulgrew has reached accords with the Bloomberg administration on eliminating rubber rooms and using test data to determine teacher tenure, which could bolster the state’s efforts to win federal Race to the Top money. Mulgrew’s influence was tested, though, as the UFT-friendly Assembly Democrats tried to hash out a compromise with a State Senate bill to lift the charter- school cap. Another major issue facing the union is the city’s cuts of thousands of teaching jobs in this year’s budget. Mulgrew said he would continue to compromise when it made sense, but not to back down when compromise would hurt the interests of his members—or their students. “My job is to represent the people of the union and all of the people in our communities to make sure they have good lives,” he said. “If someone is doing something that hurts the schools, I will stand up to that.”


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STUART APPELBAUM

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Number of members: 40,000 (100,000 in the United States and Canada) Represent: Retail, supermarket and other service-industry workers Time on job: President since 1998 Notable accomplishment: Appelbaum led the fight to oppose the Kingsbridge Armory project in the Bronx—the first major Bloomberg administration land-use initiative scuttled by the City Council—with a veto override of 48 to 1.

NORMAN SEABROOK

Correction Officers Benevolent Association Number of members: 9,000 Represent: City jail guards Time on job: President since 1995 Notable accomplishment: Led a successful effort for the city and state to pass an anti-privatization bill, which prevented the city from eliminating thousands of jobs for correction officers.

Stuart Appelbaum was in Gov. David Paterson’s close circle of advisors through last year. And then he was one of the first prominent people to say publicly that Paterson should drop out. Not long after, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo paid him a visit, complete with a photo later circulated of the two together. Appelbaum has had a long relationship with Cuomo: the union endorsed him a year and a half before he ran for attorney general in 2006. Even when

People in the labor movement say Norman Seabrook is sort of like the Chuck Schumer of union leaders: never get between him and a television NEW YORK CITY’S camera. But Seabrook said the results he has achieved speak even more forcefully than he does. “A number of people are critical of the way I talk, are critical of my swagger,” Seabrook said. “But they can’t make me change what I do, because I’m doing what’s best for my members.” Unlike cops or firefighters, jail guards are not visible to the public, so Seabrook has to keep a high profile in order to get his members their due, he said. Seabrook has achieved a number of legislative successes, he said, by working across the aisle with both Democrats and Republicans. Seabrook was appointed by former President George W. Bush to a task force looking into how to make the postal service more efficient, and was appointed to the MTA board by Republican former Gov. George Pataki, where he has emphasized national security issues. And yet, Seabrook’s union was the first outside Illinois to endorse Barack Obama for president. “People said I was out of my fucking mind,” he said. “But I don’t endorse based on what I hope to receive. I support the person.”

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Republicans controlled the State Senate, the union supported Democrats, including in districts that were heavily Republican. “I think it’s important to speak up for the things that are right. The union has to stand for something,” Appelbaum explained. “It makes it possible for others to stand up as well.” That is one reason why Appelbaum has built such a strong relationship both with the Democratic establishment in the city and with the state Democratic Party. Though Appelbaum’s fight with the Bloomberg administration over the Kingsbridge Armory and his strong advocacy for Bill Thompson have led to a somewhat chilly relationship with the mayor, Appelbaum said that his members were better served if the union stayed true to its principles rather than merely cozying up to power. “We don’t need to exist off the relationships between individuals and elected officials,” he said. “What’s important is that elected officials do things for the members of the union.”

GREG FLOYD Teamsters Local 237

Number of members: 24,000 Represent: A diverse pool of municipal employees in city agencies, such as school safety agents. Their largest group of workers is in the New York City Housing Authority. Time on job: President since 2007 Notable accomplishment: Struck an on-time, two-year contract with the city as the economy was collapsing in 2008, which included 4-percent annual wage increases, without any major givebacks.

In the rare instance when Greg Floyd does call out the Bloomberg administration—such as rallies his members held to protest the underfunding of NYCHA several years ago—he does so in a way that is not meant to personally offend, he said. “I tell them in advance what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it,” Floyd said. “There’s always a purpose to achieve a specific goal and outcome.” Floyd also exerts influence as a key board member of the New York City Employee Retirement System, which oversees a major section of the city’s pension funds. As for the union’s recent political action, Local 237 was especially influential in the DA’s race last year, becoming the first union to support Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance in his successful election bid. Floyd is seen as someone with a legitimate shot of being the next head of the Central Labor Committee, the city’s umbrella labor organization. But in response to questions about whether he would be interested in the job, Floyd was characteristically circumspect. “I’m always very careful and very minding of my position in the pecking order,” he said.


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FAYE MOORE

Social Service Employees Union 371 Number of members: 17,000 Represent: Social service and juvenile justice workers Time on job: President since 2008 Notable accomplishment: The union has won more grievance claims for its members than any other DC 37 local. These are tough times to lead a publicsector union in New York City. And the job is especially tough for Faye Moore, whose members work in social services that are often on the frontline of cuts, including 109 layoffs slated to occur June 25. Still, those who work with Moore say she has been building strong relations with members of the City Council and other interest groups that have helped the union stave off the worst reductions proposed by the Bloomberg administration. “We don’t just come around when we have problems,” Moore said, explaining her approach. “We’re there to help advocacy groups when they have problems and we help people get access.”

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Notably, the union chose to back Council Speaker Christine Quinn in her re-election campaign last year, splitting from its parent union, District Council 37, which chose to stay neutral in the race. Afterwards, Moore said, Quinn called to personally thank her. Moore said that her workers are often exploited because, by their very nature, they are in altruistic industries and are willing to work overtime without pay. Moore considers it her job to make sure they get compensated for their work and has been successful in winning a number of grievance cases on behalf of her members. Moore is rumored as a potential successor to DC 37 executive director Lillian Roberts in 2013. But for now, she shrugs off such speculation. “People say that, but that doesn’t register with me,” Moore said. “That’s 2013. I’m more focused on June 25.”

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PAT LYNCH

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Number of members: 23,000 Represent: Police officers Time on job: President since 1999 Notable accomplishment: During his tenure, police officer salaries have increased by 55 percent. When Pat Lynch took over as head of the world’s largest police union, the first thing he did was tear down the plexiglass at the entrance of union headquarters and unlock its doors. Following a period of strife and scandal in the union, Lynch said, he wanted his members to feel welcome and involved with the new regime, able to drop by and speak with him or anyone else in union leadership. “It keeps us dialed in to go back and forth with the members, so that we know what we need to do,” Lynch said. Lynch has also raised the profile of the union substantially during his tenure, often appearing in the local media and, in 2002, holding a 50,000-strong rally in Times Square—the largest in the union’s history.

The workload has been higher too: since the Sept. 11 attacks, Lynch’s union has been faced with the challenge of highlighting the plight of members who became sick because of exposure to toxins during the cleanup of the World Trade Center site. During his first three negotiations with the Bloomberg administration, Lynch was forced into arbitration, winning large salary increases each time. In their last negotiation in 2006, though, the PBA struck a deal with the city for a 17-percent salary increase, which Lynch said was part of a long process of building up relations with the Bloomberg administration. After endorsing Bloomberg’s opponents in his first two mayoral campaigns, the PBA backed Bloomberg in 2009. Though there has always been—and continues to be—a natural friction with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Lynch said that relationship has also remained civil. “Do we fight? Yes,” Lynch said. “But we get along as professionals.”


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New York’s Health Exchanges Prepare For Obamacare Housecall BY SELENA ROSS hen President Bill Clinton was trying to carry out health reform in the mid-’90s, he stumbled across an idea thought up by some academics at a meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo. They believed health care costs could be brought down by starting a regulated marketplace in which a certain pool of consumers would shop for pre-approved private health plans. Clinton adopted the idea, then called “managed competition,” as the lynchpin of his proposal. A decade and a half later, President Barack Obama’s successful health care overhaul depends on the idea. For most states, and for bureaucrats in Washington, these “health insurance exchanges,” as they are now called, exist only on paper, and officials have little clue how they will work once implemented. But not in New York, where officials can study the example of two of the country’s only up-and-running health insurance exchanges similar to what is set out in the health care bill. This early expertise will be invaluable, but it comes with strings. The managers of the existing exchanges are jockeying to run the future system, while some people think the state should start from scratch. One exchange, called HealthPass, is based in lower Manhattan. It was created with seed money from the city in 1999 but was a self-sufficient non-profit by 2004. Working only with small businesses of up to 50 employees, HealthPass helps cover some of the working uninsured by offering flexibility: employers set their monthly contribution to employees’ insurance and employees choose from a range of plans to spend that money on, topping it off with their own cash for better coverage. About half of HealthPass’ 4,100 enrolled groups—mostly businesses with up to nine employees—had no coverage before signing up. Its executives eagerly point to these successes and the fact that their infrastructure could be scaled up quickly (within about four months, they say). If HealthPass does not win a role in the new system, it will likely be put out of business. “That’s a nice tale to be able to tell to state legislators, to the congressmen, to the Department of Insurance, where we were able to make inroads with this flexibility to help people who previously didn’t have insurance,” said HealthPass CEO Vince Ashton. “We have the backend capabilities to do all this stuff.” Meanwhile, a 16-year-old private health

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exchange in Long Island, the L.I.A. Health Alliance, is trade-marking its tagline, “New York’s Health Insurance Exchange,” and looking at expanding upstate. Insurance Department superintendant James Wrynn has met twice recently with its CEO. As a for-profit company, L.I.A. Health Alliance is not eligible to lead the state exchange, but its CEO, Fred Barba, says the wording of the federal bill will not allow a non-profit to run it either. Deadlines are coming up quickly for such a sweeping change. The new exchanges must be in place by January 2014 and self-sustaining by 2015. But New York’s first broad proposal is due at the end of this year. Gov. David Paterson has assembled an inter-agency task force to begin looking at health reform in general. The task force includes Wendy Saunders, deputy secretary for health, and Troy Oeschner, Insurance Department deputy superintendant. But despite the fact that the companies have released their talking points, the state has many options, and few people agree yet on what direction to take. There are decisions over whether to combine the individual, small business and larger business markets, for example, and to decide whether exchanges will be statewide, regional, or even cross state lines. Health and Human Services will not finish drafting its own guidelines until next year. Mark Jaffe, director of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, says he is concerned that HealthPass offers too many health plans to be a streamlined system. He wants New York to cast a wide net, picking the best ideas and filtering out the rest. But Margaret Moree, director of federal affairs at the Business Council of New York State, said one of her organization’s main hopes is to keep the exchange out of public hands. The only other option under the federal bill is to give control to a non-profit. Despite the ongoing meetings and politicking around the issue, insurance department officials are firm that the perceived activity over the exchange policies is in contrast to a reality of slow, careful steps that will involve the federal government, the governor, stakeholders and the public. “We’re hard at work on all aspects of health care reform, but it’s much too early to have a useful discussion about the health insurance exchange,” said David Neustadt, a Health department spokesman. Direct letters to the editor to editors@cityhallnews.com.

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Eva Moskowitz, right, mulls a 2013 comeback (Page 8), new Council Member

Liz Crowley braves the harsh weather for her first day on the job

(Page 18)

and Richard Ravitch, left, explains

Vol. 3, No. 8

www.cityhallnews.com

January 2009

why everyone should get on board his plan to save the MTA (Page 23).

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MAY 31, 2010

A Compassionate and Innovative Surgeon

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CITY HALL

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MAY 31, 2010

As City Approves Stimulus-Funded Bonds, Communities Question Long-Term Job Creation

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

Critics say new program does not do enough to maximize tax-free cash given to developers

For the past three years, development at City Point in downtown Brooklyn has stalled. BY CHRIS BRAGG n 2007, the Albee Square Mall, a rundown collection of mom-and-pop shops in downtown Brooklyn, was demolished to make room for a new luxury mall called City Point. A developer— Albee Development LLC—was selected, and excited plans were laid. But since the economic downturn, the company has been unable to secure private financing for the project. Where there was supposed to be a bustling mall, there is now a giant hole in the ground. So for the developers there—and for a number of others across the city—a new type of bond created by the federal economic stimulus bill has been a godsend. In the case of the City Point project, a $20

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million cash infusion that was approved by the city’s Capital Resource Corporation in February has given new life to the project, where construction is now expected to begin in the coming weeks. “This project is really important to downtown Brooklyn,” said Joe Chan, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “These bonds really helped kick-start stalled economic development.” In June 2009, New York City was given $120 million in federal triple-tax exempt Recovery Zone bonds to give to developments in areas of the city hit hardest by the economic downturn. The city was required to line up funding for all the projects by the end of this year or risk losing the money. It has done so,

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splitting all the cash between six different projects. The main criteria used by the Capital Resource Corporation—a local development corporation created by the Economic Development Corporation to streamline the dispersal of such money— was to find projects that could restart quickly because of the cash infusion. “We needed to get it done fast,” said David Lombino, the spokesman for the Economic Development Corporation. “There was a need to create construction jobs as well as permanent jobs.” The criteria for getting out the money was loosely defined, and controversy has

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arisen over two of the projects, where concerns were voiced about the lack of permanent jobs created by the development and whether the Capital Resources Corporation could have driven a harder bargain with developers getting tax-exempt money. Critics say an opportunity to create as many jobs as possible with the stimulus funds has been lost. In the case of the City Point project, former business owners displaced to make way for the new development have pushed for a portion to be reserved for low-rent retail space for former business owners. They say that 200 full-time and 200 part-time jobs existed at Albee Square, but that far fewer jobs will be created by the big-box stores at City Point. “At the worst possible time, New York City is just giving away money for these development projects,” said John Tyus, a member of the community group Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), which is advocating on behalf of the former business owners at Albee Square. “That just doesn’t make sense.” The project appears ready to restart without space being reserved for the former business owners at Albee Square. Controversy has also arisen at St. Barnibus Hospital in the Bronx, which is getting $19.8 million in tax-free bonds to replace a rundown parking lot with a brand new parking garage. The development will both create construction jobs and make the hospital a much more attractive place to work because there is currently a dearth of parking there, according to proponents of the project. But the new parking facility will only employ six people while the current lot employs 26, a net loss of 20 permanent jobs. The group leading the fight against the development is a SEIU local called the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR), which has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop it. “Especially in a recession, the city should make sure it is getting everything it can get,” said Justin Wood, a spokesman for the CIR. The situation is complicated, though, by the fact that CIR is in a labor dispute with the hospital, whose residents it is trying to unionize. Steven Clark, a spokesman for the hospital, said the controversy over the parking facility was merely an instance of the union trying to stir up trouble. The parking lot workers are not members of the union. And the owner of the parking lot has written a letter to the city promising to find new jobs for any of the displaced workers in his company’s 600some parking lots around the city. Clark noted that local elected officials and the community generally were on board with the project. “They’ve been waging a PR campaign against us,” Clark said. “But this project is a win-win for everyone involved.” cbragg@cityhallnews.com

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CITY HALL

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MAY 31, 2010

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a real classy lady. Most of the time we were talking about her. CH: No talk about the race? CR: Not at all, and if you don’t ask him, he’s going to tell you what a good swimmer his son is. I’m always prepared to listen to that.

Wrangling Charlie uch has been said about Charlie Rangel’s problems: an ethics investigation, revelations of unpaid income taxes, a resignation of the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, unflattering news stories and a loss of confidence by some in his Harlem district. Soon after, a flood of challengers emerged to announce they were running against the embattled pol. While in past years Rangel coasted to easy re-elections, this year he faces no less than five Democrats in a primary, and even one Republican. With his 80th birthday fast approaching, many in Harlem are beginning to wonder about what life will be like after Charlie. But Rangel has yet to throw in the towel. Speaking from his Washington, D.C., office, he ruminated on his small army of challengers, his recent shared car ride with one opponent, Adam Clayton Powell, and his hopes for the post-political life of David Paterson. What follows is an edited transcript.

CH: Do you think Sen. Bill Perkins is being challenged this year because he spoke so openly about wanting to run for your seat? CR: No, the only thing I know about this is what I read in the papers. It’s been clear to me that his feelings about charter schools have caused a lot of people to question his judgment. The campaign will be on that issue. I don’t know the person very well that announced against him, but I walked away from this thinking the whole issue deals with public charter schools.

City Hall: How are you feeling about your run for reelection this year? Charlie Rangel: Let me try to give you the best answers that I’ve given to other people who’ve asked me, “Why are you running for re-election?” I’ve been running for re-election for 39 years. The question would be why I’m not running for re-election. Of course, I’m proud of the productivity I’ve had. Especially the last two years, in being able to work with the speaker and the president of the United States, and will continue to do that. And quite frankly the mayor and the governor have both gone out of their way to say how helpful I’ve been to the city and state. And if I thought I couldn’t be that positive in terms of productivity or that there was somebody that wanted to succeed me that could more effectively serve, then I think I would have an obligation to reconsider and see what the options would be. I don’t think anyone is saying that they want to run against me because they think they can do a better job. I really don’t think any of the candidates have said that. So if they can’t do a better job, maybe what they’re saying is, if I don’t run they want to be considered. But I don’t think the proper way to do that is to challenge somebody. CH: Then why are there so many candidates running against you? CR: I know I’m good, but I’m not good enough to know what other people are thinking. We’ve got so many different people, they obviously aren’t thinking the same thing. They’re saying, “If Rangel’s not going to be there for any reason, I want to be considered.” But you don’t do that by saying that you’re going to defeat him, because that would have nothing to do with my intentions. Like this theory that Assemblyman Powell has come up with—I’m going to be re-elected and then step aside and someone’s going to be selected. Well, that’s bizarre thinking, but even if it was true, that’s no way for him to get the seat. So I don’t know. But that’s one of the reasons he says he’s running. And you know the guy that worked for me…

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

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CH: Vince Morgan? CR: Yeah, I saw him. And he never was campaign manager. And I saw him and he told me I was doing a great job. And I don’t think he challenged that in his statements. And let’s see who else… CH: Joyce Johnson. CR: Yeah, I can’t believe that. Quite frankly, all the answers that I’ve given you, I haven’t the slightest clue what my answers are, because the real question has to be asked when a person is circulating petitions. If somebody is coming and saying, “I’m running against him too,” I can’t give too much of a comment because to me running means you’re out there circulating petitions, and really running means you’ve filed them. CH: So this is just smoke and mirrors at this point? CR: Well, I’m taking it more serious than that. CH: Are you surprised or disappointed there are so many candidates running? CR: You know, I’m surprised that there were not so many people thinking about running for so many years. I like to believe it’s because they thought I was doing a good job. No, I don’t want to say anything derogatory about the candidates because they damn sure haven’t said anything derogatory about me. People are expressing themselves. I know one guy, and I don’t have to name him, says, “If Rangel didn’t run, would you want to become a congressman?” He said you’d have to be braindead not to want to. And I agree with him. The same thing happens on the committee. They say, “When you come back, if you’re exonerated, do you think X, Y and Z would want to be chairman?” And I say there’s something wrong with him if you get on this committee and don’t aspire to become the chair. CH: What is the story with you giving Adam Clayton Powell a ride recently? CR: I told him when he got out of the car that people would make an issue out of that. We were going to the same place, I offered him a lift, he took it. We talked about family affairs. I’m very fond of his mother, she’s

CH: With all due respect, you’re not a young man any more. Is this your last re-election campaign? CR: I don’t remember anyone saying Rangel is not a young man. I was talking to someone today and a woman came to me and said how much her grandmother admired me. And I told the guy next to me that it doesn’t seem that long ago that they would say they admired me, or that their mother admired me. I guess if you’re lucky enough they’ll tell you their grandmother admires you. I have not seen my age being an impediment to my job at all, as a matter of fact. Since seniority is based on a number of years, my experience does more for me than just being a young guy. There are advantages to being young, but I don’t think it deals with legislative abilities. CH: What should David Paterson do after his term in office ends? CR: That’s a real rough question. It really is. I wish he could have something to maintain his dignity and, because he’s relatively young, that he would find something to really be excited about, and not that he took it because he needed a job. I have thought so often as to what I would do. I figured I could end up in a classroom, because I don’t even know when to leave a classroom. The thing is that you have to find something that you don’t consider a job and something that’s exciting to do. CH: Do you think Andrew Cuomo will be a good governor? CR: I have every reason to believe that he has gained the experience and maturity to actually become a good governor in his own right. I say that because no one knows better than Andrew that he has had rough edges. I think he has done a great job in smoothing them out. I am concerned as to what his relationship is going to be with the State Legislature, because he may have the ability, and I would wish he would do a good job, but the same is true of the president of the United States. Sometimes your ability to do a good job is supported or handicapped by the legislative body. I don’t know what he’s going to be up against, because if he’s running as a reformer, he is running against the wind. CH: Any final thoughts on your own race? CR: I don’t have one yet! —Andrew J. Hawkins ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

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CONSTANCE NUGENT-MILLER. I STRUGGLE LIKE MANY OF MY NEIGHBORS – AS A SINGLE MOM, WORKING TWO JOBS TO PAY THE BILLS. I PROVIDE AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING TO SIX FAMILIES IN CROWN HEIGHTS IN A BUILDING THAT’S BEEN IN MY FAMILY FOR 50 YEARS. THAT’S A HARD JOB, WORKING UNDER THE TOUGHEST RENT LAWS IN THE COUNTRY. BUT I MANAGE – BECAUSE MY TENANTS ARE COUNTING ON ME.”

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STRUGGLING LIKE MANY OF MY NEIGHBORS TO MAKE ENDS MEET .

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PROVIDE AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING TO

LIES IN TWO SMALL BUILDINGS IN ILY HAS OWNED FOR

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City Hall - May 31, 2010