In Their Own Words: Pataki Vs. Silver on Rent Control

New York Times, June 7, 1996
NEW YORK -- In dueling appearances on WCBS-TV's "Sunday Edition," which was taped Friday, Gov. George Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver both warned that state rent laws regulating 1.1 million apartments were in danger of expiring June 15 because of the other side's intransigence.

Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who wants to maintain the rent laws unchanged, repeatedly charged that Pataki and other state Republicans were pawns of landlords who want nothing more than to drive up rents.

Pataki accused Silver of having politicized the issue, and urged Democrats in the Legislature to accept by June 15 his plan to end the rent laws gradually by allowing landlords to increase rents to market rates on vacated units.

GOV. GEORGE E. PATAKI: "You have to look back with some realism and recognize that, in six months, there has been zero movement on the part of the Assembly. None. And I think it's pretty plain the laws are not going to continue in their present form completely unchanged. I don't think most New Yorkers want that. I think they understand we can work to make the law better.

"I think certainly on the part of some political leaders, their goal has been to frighten tenants. We have had mailers going out from the State Assembly to tenants and to senior citizens, saying, 'June 15, you're going to be out on the street,' including a picture of the Los Angeles skyline. Because they had the wrong city and facts.

"There are landlords out there who are going to try to take advantage of the system regardless of what the system is, which is one of the reasons I think it is important we act by June 15. There will be a great many responsible landlords who say we will take no action and wait to see if something happens after the expiration. But there will be those out there who on June 16 try to take advantage in any lapse of the law. Which is why it is so important that we try to act by that date."


ASSEMBLY SPEAKER SHELDON SILVER: "I think that the weight of the people of the cities of New York, and the downstate region, its suburbs around it, are going to be such that Governor Pataki is going to have to change his position and change his edict of vacancy decontrol.

"This Republican Party is taking the side of money. There are 2.7 million people whose homes are being threatened. For what? For $3 million in campaign contributions, we're ready to jeopardize the living spaces of families of hard-working New Yorkers? That's incredible.

"They are putting a pot of gold behind landlords. And what they are saying to the landlords? You can go get that pot of gold. All you have to do is knock the tenant in the apartment over on the way to the pot of gold. Throw them out.

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