Tenant organizations do not support boycott

Albany Times Union
Opinion, June 3, 1997

One of the most over-reported non-events is the supposed boycott of upstate farm products by New York City tenants. It all started with one lonely computer programmer with an overabundance of energy, an excess of spare time, a fax machine and a statewide directory of newspaper editors. With upstate papers seeking to make rent control relevant to their readers, this inept boycott effort has received a lot of ink.

Not a single tenant organization has endorsed the idea. The New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition, easily the state's largest tenant organization with over 20,000 households and 145 organizations as members, has denounced this misguided effort. No elected officials have endorsed the idea -- in fact, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has publicly rejected it.

Two out of 59 community boards in New York City did endorse the concept, before our organization sent letters to all 59 asking them not to.

Rent control is not an upstate-vs.-downstate issue. It is an issue of New York City landlords buying off politicians, including Governor Pataki and upstate senators. In fact, three landlord political action committees pumped $17,250 into the recent Senate race of Albany County's Mike Hoblock. Now these landlords are holding all the business of state government hostage in pursuit of their own greed. Rent control should be a home-rule issue for New York City and suburban counties.

Meanwhile, we are encouraging our members to eat all the New York state cheese and produce they can. It's healthy.

VINCENT WISHRAD Development Coordinator NYS Tenants & Neighbor

First published on Tuesday, June 3, 1997