Ravitz Demands Apology for Press Release; Grannis Says No Way

by Peter Duffy
Resident, May 29, 1997

The enmity between two assemblymen — Pete Grannis, a Democrat, and John Ravitz, a Republican — over the continuation of rent regulations escalated a notch last week.

Grannis issued a press release on May 20 charging that Gov. George Pataki’s recently announced vacancy decontrol plan was part of the recommendations of a "secret transition team" which advised the governor after his November 1994 election. The team included landlords and developers. It also, Grannis charged, included Ravitz.

Outraged, Ravitz fired off a letter to Grannis two days later noting that he served on a transition committee that advised Pataki on governmental reform, not housing, issues. He said the press release was part of a "disturbing pattern of deceiving the residents of the East Side by spreading half-truths, inaccurate statements and distorting my strong pro-tenant record." In addition, Ravitz demanded an apology.

Will he get one?

"No," said Grannis on Tuesday.

Though he admitted that Ravitz may not have served on the transition team’s housing committee, Grannis noted that Ravitz served on the overall transition team and still didn’t speak out against any plan to end rent regulations. "This report went unchallenged by these stalwarts of rent regulations on the East Side," Grannis said, referring to Ravitz and state Sen. Roy Goodman.

Grannis first released the report on the secret transition team recommendations in January 1995.

"At that point I called on Ravitz and Goodman to disavow Pataki," Grannis said. "Either John didn’t do that because he is very close to Pataki, or he did and he was ignored."

Grannis called Ravitz’s howls of protest "posturing" and said that saving rent laws "is going to take more than press releases and demanding apologies from me."

Ravitz blasted Grannis for playing politics with the volatile issue of rent regulations and for leading partisan attacks instead of working toward a solution.

"I think that’s why he’s an assemblyman after 22 years," said Ravitz, who has been in the Assembly for six years.

Ravitz defended his ability to lobby his fellow Republicans on the issue.

"I think when push comes to shove it is because of the constant dialogue that I have had, and Roy is having, with the Republican leadership that is eventually going to save rent regulations," he said. "[I will have] much more influence than a guy who is throwing bombs – and misguided bombs."

Ravitz also blasted a Grannis mailing on rent regulations which featured the Los Angeles skyline rather than the Manhattan skyline.

"He can’t even do a pro-tenant mailing right without being stupid and irresponsible," he said.

As Republicans who support rent regulations – unlike the rest of the GOP – Ravitz and Goodman are in better position to argue for the continuation of the laws than Manhattan Democrats like Grannis, tenant advocates argue.

Two weeks ago, Ravitz and Goodman brought five East Side tenant leaders to meet with Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who supports the end of rent regulations. Goodman said that Bruno was impressed with the arguments of the tenants and indicated some softening in his position.

Grannis attacked the meeting as a failure, saying each time Ravitz and Goodman meet with powerful Republicans, the leadership’s rent regulations stance becomes more rigidly anti-tenant. "It’s like the kiss of death," said Grannis.

All of the bickering comes with less than a month before the laws expire on June 15. The Assembly has passed legislation that keeps the laws intact; the Senate has yet to take action. Both Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Bruno have voiced their opposition to Pataki’s vacancy decontrol plan.

And, you wouldn’t know it from the war of words, but Grannis and Ravitz are both on the same side of the issue. Both voted in favor of the Assembly legislation.

Grannis noted that Ravitz "is certainly good on rent control" in his votes and public positions, but that he "expects more of John [Ravitz] and Roy [Goodman] on behalf of the tenants of the East Side."

Ravitz said that his constituents are scared for the future and that "sniping" and "these types of games that Pete plays" only create confusion.

"You should respect your colleagues when you agree with them on the same issue," he said.

Two weeks ago, the two legislators traded charges after Grannis told the Resident that Ravitz and Goodman "have no leadership qualities whatsoever with the leaders of their party or their colleagues."