'Big Three' aren't talking as clock keeps on ticking

New York Post, June 7, 1997

Negotiations to reach a compromise on rent control have broken down with a week remaining before laws covering 2.5 million city tenants expire,

There were no talks yesterday or Thursday. Gov. Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer) last met for a half hour on Wednesday.

"It's frustrating because the clock is ticking," said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Stabilization Association, a landlord group.

Rent laws expire June 15 unless the Legislature votes to renew or revise them.

Pataki, Bruno and Silver likely won't pow-wow again until Monday, when all three will be in Albany.

Top aides of the three had been meeting periodically but have made no progress.

The governor yesterday lashed out at Silver for his refusal to compromise. The assembly speaker says he won't agree to vacancy decontrol.

Pataki, during a taping for the "Sunday Edition" program on WCBS-TV, said: "For six months now, has said, "I will not compromise. I will not move. My position is my position.'

"That's not the way to govern."

Silver insisted he will not budge on decontrol, which is favored by both Pataki and Bruno. He predicted the GOP would suffer for its assault on rent protections.

"I think that the true colors of the various parties are showing in this debate," Silver said during a separate appearance for the TV program.

"I do say it will hurt the governor and Senator D'Amato and every elected Republican officeholder in the Congress, the state Senate and in the state Assembly who was affected by the regulations," Silver added, including Mayor Giuliani.

Meanwhile, Bruno hammered district attorneys Charles Hynes of Brooklyn, Robert Morgenthau of Manhattan and Richard Brown of Queens.

The DAs warned last week that the death of rent laws could result in increased harassment of tenants by landlords. Hynes questioned the usefulness of Pataki's proposal to stiffen penalties against landlords.

"I would remind them that it is their sworn duty to uphold the law," Bruno said. "From their comments, it looks like they are putting politics ahead of law enforcement."