Dem Ads Rip Pataki, D'Amato on Rents

By MICHAEL FINNEGAN
Daily News Staff Writer

The state Democratic Party will turn up the heat on Gov. Pataki and Sen. Alfonse D'Amato today with an ad laying the possible death of rent regulations at their feet.

Pataki and D'Amato have tried to stay above the fray over whether to scrap laws restricting rent hikes and evictions for more than 2 million tenants in New York City and its suburbs.

Nonetheless, Democrats are using the radio and television ads to drag them into the middle of the fight.

"Who's really behind the threat to end the rent protections for 2 million New York tenants?" a narrator asks. "It's the Republican team of Gov. Pataki and Sen. D'Amato."

The ads go on to say that if Pataki and D'Amato join Democrats in renewing the rent laws before they expire on June 15, the crisis will be over. But if they don't act now, rents could double for middle-class New Yorkers, it continues.

The state Democratic Committee, an official said, has budgeted $100,000 to run the ads on city television and radio stations a relatively small sum for the nation's largest media market.

The Democrats hope to use the rent issue against Pataki and D'Amato next year, when they are up for reelection.

Michael McKeon, a Pataki spokesman, called the ads "pathetic."

"Democrats are doing what they do best: scaring people," he said. "For a party that is deep in debt, they're resorting to desperation tactics to raise a few dollars."

Pataki has said he backs an "orderly transition" to a free-market rent system that limits rent hikes only for the elderly, poor and disabled.

He also supports lifting limits on rent hikes when apartments become vacant, a position that has drawn attacks from tenant advocates.

D'Amato said Democratic leaders "ought to be ashamed of themselves" for running the new ads.

"For the Democratic Party to engage in this kind of business shows a kind of desperation and a public-be-damned attitude by just attempting to provoke people and to scare people," he said.

D'Amato has no legal role in the dispute over the rent laws. But as the Republican kingmakerbehind Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer), D'Amato can influence the outcome.

Bruno has threatened to let the rent laws lapse on June 15 unless Pataki and the Democrats who control the state Assembly agree to phase them out within two years. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) is fighting to preserve the laws.

Original Story Date: 042897
Original Story Section: Beyond the City