Gov slams Silver for using scare tactics

NY Post, May 14, 1997

ALBANY -- Gov. Pataki yesterday trained his guns on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, charging that he is scaring the wits out of tenants and jeopardizing their apartments.

A day after unveiling his rent plan, Pataki -- joined by state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer) and former Mayor Ed Koch -- ripped into Silver for refusing to budge from his position that rent laws cannot be changed.

Pataki, insisting his plan would protect 99 percent of tenants, chided Silver for claiming the proposal is an attack on the middle class.

"The speaker ... is simply trying to frighten tenants," Pataki said.

"The sad part is, when you're in a leadership position in government, it's very easy to frighten people. And it's particularly easy to frighten the vulnerable, like senior citizens or low-income people."

Pataki accused Silver, who wants rent laws to continue unchanged, of ignoring the interests of tenants to pursue his own anti-Pataki political agenda.

"What political benefit can they get by staking out a position?" Pataki asked. "Can they get tenants frightened at Joe Bruno or George Pataki?"

The governor's plan, which he portrayed as a middle ground between Silver and Bruno, would decontrol vacant apartments, lower the decontrol income limit to $175,000, and enact new penalties against landlords who harass tenants.

His aides also distributed a statement from Koch backing Pataki's rent plan and blasting Silver for refusing to compromise.

"Shelly Silver has put 99 percent of tenants and their families at risk," Koch said.

"He may just overplay his hand and see those who want to immediately, or by some set date, totally end rent stabilization get their way by sitting pat and doing nothing."

Rent laws automatically expire -- or "sunset" -- on June 15 if the Legislature does not act.

Silver has not indicated how he intends to prevent the laws from running out, as Bruno has threatened to let happen if there is no deal.

Meanwhile, tenant leaders blamed Pataki for the standoff.

"We will continue to focus all our efforts on "Gov. Eviction,' " said Billy Easton, executive director of the Tenants and Neighbors Coalition.

Bruno, who wants to abolish the rent-regulation system in two to four years, said for the first time that he would not pass Pataki's plan in the Republican-controlled Senate.

"I don't have 31 votes for the governor's plan," Bruno said, referring to the number needed to pass legislation in the 61-member Senate.

"I have 31 votes for what we will pass as an alternative to full expiration of the rent laws," added Bruno, who has yet to introduce actual legislation containing his rent plan.

Copyright ©1997, N.Y.P. Holdings Inc.