The Lease Rudy Can Do

Daily News City Hall Bureau Chief

Mayor Giuliani rarely gives much advance notice when he heads out of town, but he's made sure it's well known where he'll be today: in Albany, lobbying to preserve rent regulations in New York City.

With some political challengers suggesting he's not fighting hard enough to save rent control, the reelection-minded mayor is stepping up his visibility on a pocketbook issue that affects hundreds of thousands of city voters.

He's set to join City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Queens) (pictured at left) for a four-hour blitz to lobby lawmakers in the state capitol, a trip that got unusual advance billing by the mayor's office last week.

The mayor is expected to return to Albany as a main speaker at Tenant Lobby Day on May 20. A third lobbying trip is also possible before the threatened June 15 expiration of the rent laws.

The impact of Giuliani's visit is uncertain. But New Yorkers have come to expect such pilgrimages by their mayors, especially in election years.

"I think it's wrong, but the political judgment is that it's political suicide not to do this," said Dan Margulies, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, a group of 2,000 landlords.

The stakes are high for Giuliani, a Republican seeking reelection in a heavily Democratic city.

Fellow Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer), are fighting to scrap rent controls in the city and surrounding suburbs. Giuliani could be held accountable by apartment-dwelling voters if he doesn't work hard to stop them.

"If rent laws are weakened in any way, it will have been on his watch, by members of his own party," said one tenant advocate.

Some tenant leaders believe Giuliani can affect the rent war by isolating several local GOP senators who have been reluctant to break ranks with Bruno.

"With the mayor out there, it makes it significantly more difficult for the Republican senators to take the positions they are taking," said Martin Brennan, a campaign coordinator for the New York Metropolitan Council on Housing.

Original Story Date: 041497
Original Story Section: City Central