Tenants Protest At Pataki Dinner

by Doreen C. Bowens
Newsday, June 20, 1997
About 60 tenants-rights advocates protested the new rent law outside a Forest Hills Jewish center as Gov. George Pataki was being honored at a Democratic dinner party last night.

Tenant organizers staged a protest outside Young Israel of Forest Hills. The dinner party was held by the Forest Hills-based First New York Conservative Democratic Club.

"Pataki has not protected the tenants," said Robert Katz, counsel to the Queens League of the United Tenants Association. "It's a lie. There is no language that protects the tenants. They're going to send goon squads to beat us up. Harassment is something that is difficult to prove in court."

Pataki's executive assistant, Jeff Wiesenfeld, said the demonstrators were out of line. "This is nonsense. People will be living in their apartments forever. The governor stood for the protection of tenants . . . As far as the governor is concerned, there is no issue here."

One demonstrator said he plans to move to Arizona next month because of the cost of living here. "Between high rents and downsizing, the people's backs are really up against the wall these days," said Thomas Moran, 52, of Woodside, a retired Con Edison employee who pays $450 for a one-bedroom apartment.

"If they take a look at the laws that are going to pass, they're all protected," Pataki said after the dinner.