Date: Sat, 05 Sep 1998 13:35:47 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 9/5/98: News from Chelsea

Tenants Online                                             9/5/98
News from Chelsea

* Chelsea Action Network addresses Deregulation
* Board 4 writes Cardinal O'Connor on Leo House
* Cardinal O'Connor calls for prayer for the homeless


From: "Adrian P. Dilollo" 
Subject: Chelsea Tenants Strike Back!

Supported by the Hudson Guild, the Chelsea Action Network (CAN) is calling
a public meeting on Tuesday October 6th to address the urgent issue of the
rapid deregulation of stabilized housing in the Chelsea neighborhood of

The Chelsea Housing Group estimates that 80% to 90% of all local apartments
vacated since the enactment of the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997 have
been deregulated. We believe that the vast majority of these have been
de-regulated illegally.

The public meeting will also address the issue of federal deregulation of
public housing in the form of H.R 2, a virulently anti-tenant bill
introduced by Long Island Congressman Vic Lazio.

Urgent grass roots action is needed to save what's left of affordable
housing in Chelsea!




The following letter was sent to Cardinal O'Conner from Community Board #4
in reference to Leo House Annex, a SRO Hotel on West 23rd St., which for
five years has been seeking to evict its remaining tenants. Both the Leo
House, and the adjacent tourist hotel, are owned by a not-for-profit
organization with ties to the Archdiocese of New York. Cardinal O'Connor
used to be on its board, but now it's the Cardinal's right hand man (if
that makes any difference). 

In the five years since the eviction notices were served, some tenants have
moved out in fear, some have died, some have become ill and been forced to
leave for the kind of care they need -- but three valient women continued
to hold out for the preservation of the annex as an affordable housing

Earlier this year, many on this mailing list called the Cardinal's office
urging him to meet with the tenants and stay the evictions (court orders
have already been issued). He agreed to the meeting, but now it seems they
will proceed with the final evictions, tear down Leo House and replace it
with an expanded tourist hotel. As the Cardinal washes his hands of these
evictions, it's ironic to see the news report (below) where he calls for
prayer for the homeless. 

We think it is important that the Cardinal know that his actions in this
case are being watched by many New Yorkers. His number is 371-1000.


September 3, 1998

His Eminence John Cardinal O'Connor
Archdiocese of New York 
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022-4134

Re: Leo House Annex, 332 West 23rd Street

Your Eminence:

Manhattan Community Board No. 4 writes to express our deep disappointment
in the fate of the Leo House Annex and the displacement of the Leo House
Annex tenants.

When you met with the Leo House Annex tenants on April 2nd and promised
them a review of the situation, we were encouraged.  After five years of
struggle, your intervention gave us reason to hope that the Annex could be
preserved as affordable housing for women and that the remaining tenants
would not be forced to move.

As you know, Msgr. Murray wrote the tenants on August 26th that "Leo House
has completed this further review and determined that it is necessary to
proceed to vacate the building."

It is important for you to understand that the community is skeptical of
any review undertaken by the board or management of Leo House, especially
since we have no information concerning the scope, content or thoroughness
of this review, nor any reason to believe that Leo House undertook such a
review in good faith. After five years of intransigence on their part, Leo
House does not have a great deal of credibility with the community. We
would like to know, from you, the particulars of this review.

In the final analysis, the outcome of this five-year struggle is what Leo
House has sought all along.  During this struggle, Leo House has never said
what their intentions are, and there is no specific information in Msgr.
Murray's letter of what Leo House intends to do with the building other
than vacate it. But we have learned that, as we anticipated all along, Leo
House intends to demolish the Annex and construct a new building to expand
their hotel operation.

This is a sad end to this struggle. The Chelsea community has suffered a
terrible loss of affordable housing in recent years. The closing of the Leo
House Annex is one more loss.

We would appreciate an opportunity to meet with Your Eminence soon to
discuss this situation, and we will call your office next week in the hope
of arranging such a meeting.


Pamela Frederick 
Community Board No. 4

cc:	Hon. Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor
	Hon. C. Virginia Fields, Manhattan Borough President
	Hon. Jerrold Nadler, United States Representative
	Hon. Catherine Abate, State Senator
	Hon. Richard Gottfried, State Assemblymember
	Hon. Tom Duane, City Councilmember
	Jane Wood, Chelsea Coalition on Housing
	Adrian DiLollo, Chelsea Housing Group 
	Elizabeth Kane, Esq., Westside SRO Law Project
	Msgr. James J. Murrary
	Rev. Kevin Sulllivan


NY Daily News, September 4, 1998

In the most sweeping moral challenge to city and state officials in his 14
years as New York's leading religious figure, Cardinal O'Connor has asked
Jewish, Muslim and Protestant leaders to join him in St. Patrick's
Cathedral to pray for decent housing for the poor and homeless.

The one-hour, multi-lingual service is planned for Wednesday, with O'Connor
delivering the sermon.

Scheduled to join him is a Who's Who of religious leaders, including the
Rev. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church, Bishop Richard Grein of the
Episcopal diocese of New York, Archbishop Spyridon (spiritual leader of all
Greek Orthodox worshipersin the United States) and Imam Pasha of Harlem's
Malcolm Shabazz mosque.

Other participants include Bishop Thomas Daily of the Brooklyn Diocese, the
leaders of several Orthodox churches, and several rabbis, including Ronald
Sobel of Temple Emanu-El.

"This is the first time in many years that the [city's] clergy has come
together on a single issue to pray," the Rev. John Duffell, a key
organizer, said yesterday.

He said that no public officials had been invited but that they were
welcome to attend "and to join us in prayer."

Neither City Hall nor Albany had any immediate reaction.

In his invitation to other religious leaders, O'Connor said the service was
intended to seek divine guidance for New York — "and especially for our
governmental leaders as they design and implement policies that have
substantial impact on the lives of the most vulnerable among us."

Duffell, pastor of Ascension Church on the upper West Side, and the head of
the organizing committee, said the idea for the service began early last
year and "grew out of the city's handling of the homeless."

Duffell declined to describe the service as a slap at politicians but said,
"What became important to the city was the bottom line. We need to remind
the city, the state and the federal government that we must not treat
people as things."

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Tue, 08 Sep 1998 13:07:10 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online: Clinton Community to Protest Peter Vallone tonight

Tenants Online                                             9/8/98
* Clinton Community to Protest Peter Vallone tonight
* Newsday article reports Vallone's son as alleged attacker
  of neighborhood residents (see bottom of article)


Press Advisory

Clinton Community to Protest Peter Vallone 
at NY1 News Gubernatorial Debate, Tuesday, September 8

Residents also Protest Peter Vallone’s son allegedly 
attacking Neighborhood Protesters at Sunday’s Debate

Members of the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood will protest the
gubernatorial candidacy of City Council Speaker Peter Vallone at the New
York 1 News Gubernatorial Debate to be held tonight, Tuesday September 8.
The broadcast is slated to begin at 7 PM and neighborhood residents will
assemble in front of NY1’s studios at 460 West 42nd Street about 6 PM in
order to be present at Mr. Vallone’s arrival at the studio.

Protesters are not supporting any particular candidate, nor are they
affiliated with any other candidate’s campaign, but are protesting Mr.
Vallone for his role in forcing City Council’s approval of the Eighth
Avenue/Theater Subdistrict Rezoning Plan on August 6th.

In June, Mr. Vallone held a fundraiser where he accepted campaign
contributions from theater owners and lobbyists for the Broadway Initiative
who directly benefit from the rezoning. Mr. Vallone has also accepted
contributions from the development community who also benefit from the
zoning change. 

Community residents note that while Mr. Vallone partied with his
contributors at the Waldorf-Astoria on June 19, he refused to even speak
with members of the Clinton neighborhood opposed to the plan and imposed
the final result that will violate the Special Clinton District established
in 1973 to protect the Clinton neighborhood. 

On Sunday, September 6, residents protested Mr. Vallone at the
gubernatorial debate held at WABC-TV Channel 7. At that protest, residents
were physically attacked by supporters of Mr. Vallone. New York Newsday
identified one such attacker who “charged at and cursed a man” as Peter
Vallone’s son, Peter Vallone, Jr.

It's a question of accountability. Politicians like Peter Vallone, who made
permanent defacto
Vacancy Decontrol in 1994, will continue to run roughshod over tenants and
neighborhoods unless there is accountability.

When:  Tuesday, September 8 at 6 p.m. (broadcast starts at 7 p.m.)
Where: New York 1 News
       460 West 42nd St. (southeast corner of 42nd St. and Tenth Avenue)

                                   # # #


Note: See bottom of article regarding Vallone supporters attacking
neighborhood residents.

COUNTDOWN TO THE PRIMARY SEPT. 15 / Rivals Focus on Finances /
Candidates in governor's race take shots in debate
By Dan Janison. STAFF WRITER
New York Newsday, September 7, 1998

Democratic candidates for governor exchanged a new series of verbal
shots over campaign tactics and financing during and after a one-hour
televised debate, even as they continued to agree on numerous other

Former state Transportation Commissioner James Larocca of Lloyd
Harbor, widely seen as an underdog in the primary a week from tomorrow,
branded it a "Wall Street bluff" that Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey Ross'
husband committed more than $2 million to her campaign - only to
withdraw it once her candidacy was perceived as serious.

McCaughey Ross dismissed the shot as "just one of those attacks
and distortions" made by Larocca. Both of their comments followed the
hourlong debate broadcast from WABC-TV studios in Manhattan, which
mostly consisted of a question-and-answer format.

During the debate, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes
criticized City Council Speaker Peter Vallone of Astoria, saying he
"cannot make the case credibly" for campaign-finance reform because he
accepts money from real-estate interests doing business with the city.
Larocca made a similar charge in a debate in Troy last week. Hynes
called Vallone "czar" of the council.

As Vallone's aides touted new polls showing him to be the
front-runner, Vallone responded in a news conference following the
debate that rejecting legal contributions would amount to surrendering
to the better-funded incumbent, Republican Gov. George Pataki.

As in three previous debates, the candidates aimed their broadest
attacks at Pataki, accusing him of grandstanding on crime while failing
to enforce health and environmental laws, or to improve education or
work well with the Legislature.

All four proposed new programs to create jobs, promote early
childhood education and ensure protection from abuses by
health-maintenance organizations. All four also condemned remarks at a
Harlem youth rally Saturday by organizer Khallid Abdul Muhammad and
mostly praised city police for their response. Vallone called for
Muhammad's arrest for inciting attacks on police.

On whether New York should honor out-of-state gay marriages,
Vallone and McCaughey Ross expressed opposition, Larocca called it
"inevitable" and Hynes said he'd sign the measure in the unlikely event
the Legislature approved it.

Answering a question about the related concerns of breast cancer
and pesticide use on Long Island, Vallone, Hynes and Larocca blasted
Pataki for allegedly failing to enforce environmental and health rules.
McCaughey Ross said the state should be keeping closer track of the
possible cancerous effects of pesticides.

McCaughey Ross complained it was an "unfair question" when asked by
a moderator how she reconciles running as a Democrat with having spoken
positively about House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

"I have never supported Newt Gingrich's right-wing agenda," she

Just after the debate, however, Vallone aides handed out a quotation
from a  1994 television appearance in which  McCaughey Ross said, "I do
support most of the provisions of [Gingrich's] Contract With America.'

Tempers in Vallone's camp flared more than 30 minutes before air
time. As Vallone arrived at the studio, his son, Peter Vallone Jr.,
charged at and cursed a man he later said  had pushed him.

The other man, Bill Strembek of Manhattan, was among several
demonstrators apparently jostled by other Vallone supporters. The
protesters were surrounding and heckling Vallone, they said, for
allowing changes in a zoning district that protected part of Manhattan's
West Side from high-rise development. The scuffle was broken up quickly
without police.

Copyright 1998, Newsday Inc.

COUNTDOWN TO THE PRIMARY SEPT. 15 / Rivals Focus on Finances / Candidates
in governor's race take shots in debate., pp

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Wed, 09 Sep 1998 22:58:09 -0400
Subject: Rudy's Epidemic of Demolitions: 1,500 Buildings in 18 Months

Colleen F. McGuire, Esq. (212) 571-4080
Daphna Zekaria, Esq. (212) 571-4080
Robert E. Sokolski, Esq. (212) 571-4090


On September 8, 1998, a small building owner, Denis McCarthy, filed a
federal lawsuit against the City of New York for unlawfully demolishing
his four-story building in Queens.  The complaint alleges that the City
denied Mr. McCarthy his constitutional due process rights and prevented
him from saving his building by deliberately withholding documents and
information justifying the demolition until months after his building had
been leveled to the ground.

A demolition frenzy prevails in the Guiliani Administration.  In the past
3 years, the City budget for demolitions has doubled.  According to the
Department of Buildings, since January, 1997, 1500 buildings have either
been demolished or are currently slated for demolition.

Mr. McCarthy's building, intended for residential usage, was located next
to a recently erected luxury high-rise development.  During the course of
his lawsuit, we (Mr. McCarthy, his supporters and his lawyers) intend to
discover how many other buildings owned by small property owners were
similarly demolished without judicial process in neighborhoods where
corporate developers are itching to expand.  We intend to discover how
many of these 1500 demolitions have already displaced or will displace
low and middle income tenants.

While the City appears to have absolute power to  demolish a building it
deems "unsafe," Mr. McCarthy maintains that his building was not
"unsafe."  Nevertheless, the Department of Buildings made a drastic and
sudden decision to demolish McCarthy's building based solely upon a
report by a City inspector who was neither a licensed architect or
engineer.  The inspector never made a structural inspection, never
entered the building, and later stated under oath that he observed only
"non-hazardous" conditions that were "not major."

The arbitrary power of the Guiliani Administration to target by unchecked
fiat which buildings get destroyed is leading to a dramatic
reconfiguration of the City's neighborhoods.  We believe the McCarthy
lawsuit will show that affordable housing is being eradicated for the
benefit of avaricious real estate interestsþand we call this a pernicious
scheme of class cleansing.

We urge the media to investigate the circumstances of these 1500

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 11:02:12 -0400
Subject: Saturday, Say 'Phooey' on Vallone



Demonstrate against Peter Vallone at the Labor Day Parade, held
Saturday, September 12.

WE WILL MEET --- at 45th St. and Fifth Ave. at 10:45 a.m.
(Northwest corner) to get posters and flyers. The politicians
will lead off the parade (which starts at 11 a.m. at 44th and 5th), 
so as soon as Vallone walks by, we will follow him with posters 
and flyering the public watching the parade.

If you miss us at 10:45, you can catch up with us around 51st St.

WHEN:  Saturday, September 12. We meet at 10:45 AM
WHERE: NorthWest Corner of 45th Street and Fifth Avenue

The parade will stop at two points, one at St. Patricks to say hello
to the Cardinal, and again at 68th St. where there's a grandstand.
(We hear that Rudy G. will be speaking there). The parade will then
continue of Fifth Avenue to 72nd St., turn east over to Madison. We
may stop at 68th St. depending on Vallone.

WHY? Some have asked this, especially as the zoning proposal has
already been voted by City Council. It's called accountability.
Politicians like Vallone will continue to walk over neighborhoods
and tenants, catering to developers and landlords unless there's a 
measure of accountability.

Vallone is also no friend of tenants. His former Chief of Staff is
Joe Strasburg, who now heads of the Rent Stabilization Association, the
largest Landlord group in NYC. Vallone introduced Local Law 4 in 1994
that effectively brought Vacancy Decontrol to NYC.

It's also a bit of fun. Last week we protested Vallone at WABC-TV and
again at NY1. The demonstrations were spirited and the word got out
that Vallone is accepting 'bribes' from theater owners, developers
and professional bundlers in order to deliver city council votes.

At the NY1 Gubernatorial Debate, Vallone was asked by the moderator,
Domonic Carter, how he could defend his taking money from developers
in order to secure zoning changes. Vallone lied and said, "I don't
know who the developers are -- they're nonexistent." But Brooklyn
District Attorney Charles Hynes charged back... "it's a matter of
public record." Indeed, it is. A recent front page of Crains Business
reported Vallone's big bucks are coming from any number of
developers who will benefit by redeveloping Clinton/Hell's Kitchen.

Newsday also reported that Vallone's son, Peter Vallone, Jr.
"charged at and cursed" one of our demonstrators. Looks like he's
just taking after the old man.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 14:18:36 -0400
Subject: Election Primary Recommendations

We were hoping to have more analysis in our recommendations 
for tomorrow's Democratic Primary, and we still might send
out something later today, but just to get something out,
we recommend:

GOVERNOR: Anyone but Peter Vallone. Seriously, all candidates
have strengths and weaknesses, but the one thing we are
sure is that Vallone is, has been, and always will be
an enemy of tenants and neighborhoods. He took what
we consider a bribe to push through the Eighth Avenue
Air Rights rezoning plan, undermined the Clinton
Special District that protects tenants and he
instituted defacto Vacancy Decontrol in City Council
in 1994. Vote for Hynes, LaRocca or Ross-McCaughey,
but not Vallone.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: We're leaning for Oliver Koppel. Spitzer
is a nightmare and is buying his way to the election. It
came out yesterday that Spitzer bought Virginia Fields
endorsement (doesn't surprise us) and he gets tons of
money from Real Estate. Dennis Vacco must be defeated and
Katherine Abate and Evan Davis have been unable to jump
start their campaigns. Koppel has the best chance when
you combine electability and reasonableness. Stay away from 
Elliot Spitzer.

US. SENATOR: At this point Charles Schumer probably has the 
best chance of defeating Al D'Amato. There are things we
like about Mark Green, but electability (never a sole
consideration) is imporant here.

We are not aware of any City Council or State Assembly


In Queens, we recommend Ed Sederbaum over the incumbant Onorato.

On Manhattan's West Side, both Eric Schneiderman and
Dan O'Donnell are credible candidates. It's a difficult
decision and we're still wrestling whether or not
to make a recommendation (if we do, we'll send it
out later).

Get out and vote!

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 03:53:33 -0400
Subject: Break the Peter Vallone Cycle of Corruption

In tomorrow's Democratic Primary, remember that City Council Speaker Peter

* took campaign bribes to sell out the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen neighborhood
to developers,

* has taken large amounts of money from the landlord/real estate lobby, 

* his former chief of staff Joe Strasburg now heads up the landlord group
Rent Stabilization Association, 

* brought permanent defacto Vacancy Decontrol to New York City tenants (no,
it wasn't Pataki, it was Vallone in 1994), 

* his son, Peter Vallone, Jr. was reported to have attacked a Vallone
protester at the WABC-TV gubernatorial debate on September 6 (Newsday,
September 7, 1998. Several Vallone supporters, who looked like hired thugs,
participated in the attack, but Vallone's son was the only one identified
by Newsday) 

* on September 14, a Vallone supporter, who was caught tearing down
anti-Vallone flyers, attacked and shoved two Clinton residents. He was
followed to the McManus Democratic Club that supports Vallone. 

Vote for any gubernatorial candidate other than Peter Vallone.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 04:21:33 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online: 9/24/98

Tenants Online                                            9/24/98
* Housekeeping and Note to AOL users
* Meeting Notice
* Demolitions Followup
* On Peter Vallone
* Charas Community Center, 3 Gardens, Sold At Auction (Met Council)
* Rent Guidelines Board Confirms 2 and 4 Percent Hikes (Met Council)

Met Council's monthly paper, Tenant/Inquilino, is available on TenantNet.
Listen to Met Council's Housing Notebook, Thursdays at 7 p.m., on WBAI,
99.5 FM
TenantNet is not affiliated with Met Council.

IF YOU'RE SERIOUS, SEE... (the ugly side of Peter Vallone)

BUT IF YOU'RE BORED SILLY? Play "Peter Vallone Concentration" at:

BETTER THAN SOAPS... "Peter Vallone Morph" at:


Morphs of Shel Silver, Vito Lopez and their buddy, Mike McKee!



It seems like an eternity, but the Web has been with us only since around
1993. We would guess that most users weren't online until 1995 or
thereabouts. TenantNet quietly passed its fourth anniversary, making
TenantNet one of the "older" sites on the Web.

What you see now is actually the fourth edition of TenantNet. In the late
1980's we had a little-known Bulletin Board System (BBS) that catered to a
few tenant activists. In 1994, Brooklyn Health Services gave us space on
their Gopher (remember Gopher?). Later in 94 and early 95 we opened the web
site, first with a particularly awful leftist group called Blyth
masquerading as activists. (It's loonies like them that allow politicians
to dismiss and ignore the needs of regular people.) And in 1995 we took up
residence at

Particular thanks goes to Ron and Dimitri at The Internet Connection
( who help to make TenantNet possible. If you're looking
for a dial-up connection, email or web site, please consider their services.


And we can't always respond. There's an expression... "RTFM" which
translates to "Read the F____ Manual." We ask users to please use the web
site before sending us a long litany of complaints and ending with the
innocuous, "What are my rights?"

We also try not to answer that many questions on the web-based message
board. It's not a Q&A board, but a discussion forum. Occasionally we'll pop
in, but we encourage tenants talking to tenants.

And occasionaly we get comments that we might (as below) reproduce on the
mailing list. If you want a comment kept private, then say so. We use our
judgement whether or not to identify the sender.


We have had to turn off access to the web-based message forum to AOL users
due to one disruptive AOL user. This is unfortunate and we hope it's

We have written to AOL, but only received a form response. If you are an
AOL customer, you might wish to complain to them and ask them to work with
us in solving this problem.

Although we try to keep the forum as open as possible, we can (and do)
occasionally remove messages from disruptive users, or messages that are
repetitive without adding any substance. Even messages from landlords (or
sympathizers) are OK as long as they add to the discussion in a substantive



Please join the Housing Task Force of Manhattan Community Board 7 for a
discussion with the Department of Buildings on Wednesday, September 23,
1998, at 7 PM at Community Board 7 office, 250 West 87 Street off Broadway.

Corrine Lindo of DOB will discuss how the department conducts inspections,
follows up on Board and community complaints, issues violations (and how
these violations are adjudicated). She will respond to questions about the
department and update the task force on new initiatives and proposed

Gale A. Brewer and Hector Santana Jr., co-chairs, 212-362-4008



>From Jackie Bukowski, a tenant attorney, responding to the article on

You're right about the demolitions. it started with squats, east 5th Street
and the like, proceeded to city owned buildings with 'inconvenient tenants"
second avenue and east first street, and now is rampant. In the testimony
elicited in East 5th Street, the City proceeded against two court orders to
demolish the buildings. At the hearing we elicited the information from
Vito Muscheiola, who was the then head of HPD demolitions that DOB does not
order buildings to come down. They issue an unsafe or hazardous building
order -a vacate order- which simply requires a vacate until the condition
can be abated. Yes the presumption of expertise is with the agency, even
though the inspectors may have scant experience - the inspector in our case
had several months working for a contractor and passed a civil service test
with the help of ARCO civil service books. 

The defendants testified that the actual demolition is ordered by HPD- Dept
of  Demolitions. At the time Fifith street went down Vito M. was the head,
his only expertise was a business degree from Pace. No construction
experience at all. His helper did drywall work for 6 months, and had no
degree from anywhere.

In the East 13th Street hearing on the vacate order, we had John Walsh, the
construction engineer for the GM building testify that he had toured 545
E13th street and that the building was sound. Judge Wilk believed our side,
especially after DOB BC Ron Livian stated that any action was discretionary
on the part of HPD, and that the vacate was simply a simple way to get the
squatters out. The App Div disagreed, and went with DOB's uneducated
experts, over the internationally recognized engineeer John Walsh.



One tenant writes...

"I am so glad you defined my own distrust of Vallone. I went to protest the
10% increase in my rent, at the City Council hearing. What a fix-up. Why do
they bother having hearings when the decision has been made way in advance,
and they just humiliate anyone who differs. Many thanks."

And another...

"I totally agree with your view on Vallone and the WFP (Working Families
Party). If you start with
opportunism, no one will ever have faith in you. If they do get on the
ballot, they will mean nothing because they don't stand for anything..."

And a third...

"Am very glad to see not-so-nice comments about the not-so-nice Peter
Vallone. Having lost my job due to disability, about a year ago, I noted a
position available in his then-Astoria law firm. I stopped by with a
resume, and was not only appalled at the shabbiness of the office, but to
find out that there were "NO BENEFITS". Can a man who will not even give
his own employees health insurance possibly be concerned about people in


>From Met Council's Tenant/Inquilino

Charas Community Center, 3 Gardens, Sold At Auction
Protest Organizers Call For Land-Sale Moratorium
By Noel Prince

"Ladies & Gentlemen, though we really shouldn’t be here playing for you
today, because, let’s face it, you’re here to sell us out, we want you to
know you don’t have to bid on Charas," Jenny Romaine of the Ninth Street
Theater lectured outside One Police Plaza on July 20. "What you do comes
back to you, don’t you dare bid on Charas. Don’t bid on Charas, don’t bid
on the gardens." The Bread & Puppet Theater performed, Circus Amok’s brass
band played, a stilt walker danced, and the Ninth Street Theater’s dragon
roared at nervous cutouts of buildings & gardens. Two laurel trees roamed
the crowd waiting to get in.

In the auditorium inside, the Giuliani administration was auctioning off
hundreds of parcels of city-owned land, including the Lower East Side’s
Charas/El Bohio Community and Cultural Center and several community
gardens. Approximately 300 protesters, including Met Council, the NYC
Garden Coalition, the Lower East Side Collective, Coalition for a District
Alternative, Queens League of United Tenants, the Green Party, the Living
Theater, Guerrilla Repertory, Chinese Staff Workers, International Wow
Theater Company, Eviction Watch, and Time’s Up lined up in their best
urban-developer wear to fill seats and raise hell at the latest and
reportedly most successful auction of public land so far this year; 254
parcels sold for a total of $19 million.

Protesters demanded that communities be put before the interests of private
developers. They are calling for a moratorium on the sale of public land
until there is a plan which addresses its current uses and the best
interests of the community.

After two heartfelt warnings by a police chief on the scene that all false
bidders would be arrested, 10,000 crickets were released within the
auditorium to a theatrical response. Audience members stood on chairs and
screamed as the auctioneer tried to reassure the crowd that the bidding
would continue. Three audience members were arrested and later released. A
group calling themselves Jiminy Cricket took responsibility for the action.
The Lower East Side parcels are currently some of the most sought-after in
the city, as the lack of any real affordable housing has inflated rents of
$1,400 to $4,000 a month and climbing.

When the bidding resumed, a dapper Seth Tobocman was nearly successful in
buying the L.E.S. Hispanic Committee Garden—until he was asked to show his
cash and quickly thrown out. The garden was then bid on by Caoimhe, who was
also thrown out for lacking the approximately $60,000 on-the-spot cash
payment required. Neither was arrested. The auctioneer then asked that all
bidders come to the front of the stage and show their cash before bidding
could continue.

Before Charas/El Bohio was auctioned, a statement was read advising the
bidders that the property was in litigation, but that all monies would be
returned if the court ruled in Charas’ favor.

Charas, located in a former public school at East Ninth Street and Avenue
B, was first squatted in 1980 by six Latino activists, whose group, The
Real Great Society, began as housing advocates in the mid-’60s. An
invaluable part of the community, it provides performance and rehearsal
space for art, dance and theater companies, studio space for visual
artists, community workshops like a bike-recycling program for kids and
young adults, and training programs, as well as a meeting place for dozens
of local groups and organizations.

It was sold for $3.15 million to a buyer decidedly unwilling to reveal his
name or any plans for use of the property. The Giuliani administration
would not release his name.

The Lower East Side Hispanic Committee Garden was sold for $160,000, the
Fourth Street Casita Garden went for $170,000, and the Sam and Sadie Koenig
Andencksgarten Garden for $63,000. Community Board 3 Chair Susan Vaughn and
a group of her neighbors bought a private garden at 251 E. 7th St. for
$150,000 for private use, after having squatted it for years.


Rent Guidelines Board Confirms 2 and 4 Percent Hikes
By William Rowen, Met Council Tenant/Inquilino

Meeting under the order of New York State Supreme Court Justice Louis York,
on August 18 the Rent Guidelines Board let stand the rates they had voted
on June 24: 2 and 4 percent increases for one- and two-year lease renewals,
plus a “poor tax” of $15 a month extra if the rent is below $450 at renewal
time. These rates go into effect on Oct. 1 and last until Sept. 30, 1999.

The RGB’s two tenant representatives, Ken Rosenfeld and David Pagan, sued
board chair Edward Hochman for suppressing a report scheduled to be
released in May. The report, called the “Recent Movers Study,” analyzed the
effects of the Pataki 20 percent vacancy allowance enacted as part of the
Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997, comparing what people who had recently
moved into vacant apartments paid against the rent for the same apartments
in 1996. It was widely believed that Hochman refused to release the report
because it showed large rent hikes, and would negatively reflect on
Governor Pataki in the few months before he must face the voters in November.

Justice York forced Hochman to release the report just before the Aug. 18
board meeting. Hochman was under the threat of being found in contempt of
an earlier order to release the report. As it was, Hochman released both
the suppressed June 2 version, and a later, sanitized Aug. 6 version using
some less egregious data.

Hochman and the city's attorneys failed to appear before Justice York on
Aug. 26 for a hearing on compliance with the court's directive to release
the study. York fined them $375 in legal fees to the tenants’ lawyer, Jerry
Goldfeder, for failing to appear. The hearing was rescheduled for Sept. 3.
During the dispute over the court’s directive to release the reports,
Chairman Hochman publicly characterized Justice York as “Legal Aid Louie,”
a pejorative reference to the judge's roots as an attorney for the poor
with the Legal Aid Society. A document containing Hochman’s insult was
submitted to the judge on Sept. 3.

Tenant/Inquilino will publish a detailed fact sheet on the new guidelines
in the October issue. We are also preparing an analysis of the two reports
and hope to publish it next month too.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Sat, 26 Sep 1998 07:29:07 -0400
Subject: Chelsea tenant meeting postponed

The Chelsea Action Network meeting, dealing with the loss of rent regulated
apartments and other issues, as previously announced for October 6, has been 
postponed until further notice.

When the organizers notify us of a new date, we'll announce it via email.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 21:27:08 -0400
Subject: Landlords Trade Tenants for Tourists at SROs (Voice article)

Down in the Old Hotel
Tower & Tenements
Landlords Trade Tenants for Tourists at SROs
Village Voice, September 30, 1998
by J.A. Lobbia

On the Upper West Side, landlords converting an old rooming house into a
tourist hotel are doing so much demolition work, the remaining tenants wear
hardhats to the bathroom. In another building, on Amsterdam Avenue, tenants
in a single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel say their landlord has offered them
cash, hoping they will make way for a higher-paying clientele. And on West
94th Street, prosecutors are investigating the April death of a disabled
man who succumbed to burns after workers turned off sprinklers while
illegally converting the SRO to a tourist-class hotel.

Throughout Manhattan, SRO tenants face an onslaught of pressure from
landlords who want them to move and be replaced with more lucrative
renters, usually students or tourists happy to pay $100 a night for a room.
Along with demolition and co-op and condo conversions, budget hotels are
slicing into the already-diminished stock of SROs, the city's most
affordable private housing. Fewer than 45,000 rooms remain, down from
53,000 in 1985. That depletion threatens SRO renters, many of whom are
elderly or disabled, and most of whom have incomes under $10,000 a year.
Astonishingly, nearly athird pay 80 percent of their income for rent.

"These tenants basically have no options because landlords aren't renting
at those levels any more," says Betsy Kane of the West Side SRO Law
Project. "They can move to the outer boroughs, or with relatives, or become

Fifteen years ago, the city passed laws to preserve SRO housing. But now,
some owners find the lure of a bustling economy and record tourism so
irresistible, they break that law. Worse, the city itself often ignores it.

"It's the market that's destroying SRO housing," says Terry Poe, an
organizer in Kane's office. "All you have to do to ensure that that happens
is to simply not interfere. That's exactly what the city has done."

Under a 1983 city law, SRO owners cannot do major alterations until they
win a "certificate of no harassment" from the department of Housing
Preservation and Development (HPD); with no certificate, landlords cannot
get necessary permits from the Department of Buildings (DOB). The law often
fails, partly because DOB relies on landlords to report if a building is an
SRO--a fact permit applicants sometimes falsify. That provision would be
scrapped under a City Council bill introduced last year by Councilwoman
Ronnie Eldridge. Her measure would require--rather than allow--DOB to issue
stop-work orders when permits are not in place and to revoke improperly
granted permits.

For most of last year, Eldridge's bill languished in the council's housing
committee. But earlier this month, SRO advocates were encouraged when
committee chair Archie Spigner scheduled a hearing on the bill for
September 18. But at the last minute, the hearing was canceled.

Spigner's staff says the hearing was "deferred" because their boss was out
of town. But sources wonder if two calls to Spigner opposing the bill--one
from DOB and one from the city's largest landlord group--influenced the
hearing's fate.

"I know Archie heard from DOB and the RSA," the Rent Stabilization
Association, a powerful landlord lobby, says one council source. "But we
always knew they were opposed. So I'm confused why we went through this
little exercise."

Frank Ricci, the RSA's governmental-affairs director,told the Voice he
doubted Spigner canned the hearing--which has not been rescheduled--because
of a call from the RSA. Says Ricci, "What they choose to do with our
comments is their business." The RSA opposes the bill because it could hurt
owners of small buildings with SRO units. "Everything in this bill, the DOB
commissioner already had in his power to do," Ricci adds. "I think this is
just squashing a fly with a cannonball."

Last October, DOB commissioner Gaston Silva testified that the measure was
"draconian" in limiting DOB's discretion, though sources complain that the
agency rarely exercises its options. "DOB is very prodevelopment," says one
SRO attorney. "It wants to give away the store."

Indeed, even HPD appears frustrated by DOB. An internal HPD memo says the
Eldridge bill would help overcome "DOB's resistance" to enforcing the
current law. But the bill does nothing to prevent DOB from granting permits
based on wrong information, including false claims by owners that buildings
are not SROs. And sometimes DOB records say owners have won a certificate
of no harassment when HPD has not granted one.

A five-story building at 340 Amsterdam is such an example. This summer,
workers began tearing up the 35-unit SRO, combining rooms and adding new
plumbing for private bathrooms, without any DOB permit. On June 5, HPD
issued a stop-work order. But 20 days later, DOB granted an alteration
permit. DOB spokesman Ted Birkhahn says a preliminary check of agency
records indicates that owners had a no-harassment certificate; HPD sources
say they have never received an application for the certificate. Birkhahn
says DOB is investigating whether the certificate is valid.

Pedro Ruiz, a retired restaurant worker, is one of only seven tenants who
remain in the building. Through an interpreter, Ruiz, 77, said he has lived
in the same tiny room with no kitchen and a shared bathroom since 1977, and
would like to stay since the $119.60 rent is affordable on his pension. In
the past few months, however, his landlord has offered him $14,000 to leave.

So far, Ruiz said, his landlord treats him "fine. But I'm afraid that
sooner or later, he will put pressure on me if all the other rooms are nice
and I'm the only one left."

The building was bought earlier this year by Jack Avid and managed by Ron
Oved. Oved is involved with SROs throughout Manhattan and is charged in one
lawsuit with harassing tenants out of a 14th Street SRO. Neither Avid nor
Oved responded to calls for this story.

Ironically, the city not only seems uninterested in enforcing its own laws;
in some cases, it goes out of its way to reward the very landlords who
break them. On its list of low-rate Manhattan hotels, the Convention and
Visitors Bureau names 20 SROs, including at least seven that have undergone
illegal conversions. Amazingly, some have even been the targets of city
lawsuits alleging illegal conversions.

Perhaps the most tragic consequence of the city's lack of enforcement came
on April 6, when 55-year-old James Downey was fatally burned in a fire that
broke out in his room in the St. Louis Hotel on West 94th Street. (See
Voice, April 21.) Workers had turned off the sprinkler system--without
required permission--to accommodate what DOB later called "completely
illegal" construction. Tenants say the landlord, Rubin Margules, is turning
the SRO into a tourist hotel.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney's office are investigating
Downey's death. SRO tenants and advocates dubbed Eldridge's bill the James
Downey Bill.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.


External links are for convenience and informational purposes, and in some cases, might be sponsored
content. TenantNet does not necessarily endorse or approve of any content on any external site.

TenantNet Home | TenantNet Forum | New York Tenant Information
DHCR Information | DHCR Decisions | Housing Court Decisions | New York Rent Laws
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

Subscribe to our Mailing List!
Your Email      Full Name