Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 10:32:30 -0500
Subject: Tuesday's Elections


This year is important because we have the opportunity to elect Chuck
Schumer to the Senate and replace Al D'Amato. You know all the arguments.
If nothing else, vote for Schumer.

We also have the opportunity to replace Dennis Vacco who has been a horror
as Attorney General. He was directly responsible for preventing much of
DHCR's tenant abuse from becoming public. In 1995 the legislature passed
(and Pataki signed) a bill that required all state agencies, particularly
DHCR, to maintain an index of all its decisions and orders. Immediately
after that, Vacco issued and opinion stating DHCR did not have to comply
with the new law. Elliot Spitzer is not our dream candidate by any means,
but he represents a far better choice than Vacco.

We recommend a big "NO" vote on the ballot proposal by the Charter Revision
Commission. It's a sham meant to keep the Yankee Stadium proposal off the
ballot. Of course, Vallone's use of Yankee Stadium as an election tactic
was also a scam, but the measley proposals from the Charter Revision
Commmission could do more harm than good. Give Rudy the boot on this one.


Only one year ago, in the midst of the 1997 Rent Wars, NYC Council Speaker
Peter Vallone was compared to Joe Bruno... and with good reason. All major
NYC tenant organizations (including the discredited Tenants & Neighbors)
blamed Vallone for his refusal to repeal Vacancy Decontrol. After all, it
was Vallone (not Pataki) who brought back Vacancy Decontrol in 1994 (Local
Law 4 of 1994).

Vallone has long been in bed with landlords and developers, taking enormous
campaign contributions from the landlords' largest lobby group, the Rent
Stabilization Association. He even trained the RSA's chief, Joseph
Strasburg. Now a few of these 'Tenants & Neighbors' are portraying Vallone
as an angel, that he's an advocate for tenants, that's he's reformed--even
though he continues to take money from tenant enemies and continues to
destroy tenants and neighborhoods. What planet are they on, or... which
political party is paying them off?

Are they so blinded by their hate for Pataki to realize that Vallone and
Pataki are cut from the same cloth? Democrats will continue to run machine
hacks like Vallone as long as tenants reward them for simply not being


Many think George Pataki and Joe Bruno were, by themselves, the only ones
responsible for the threat to rent regulations in 1997 and for the
resulting loss in protections. Pataki and Bruno are not angels by any
means, but to blame them alone is wrong and not based on facts. That's an
impression created by Democrats who want tenants to think that all
Democrats are great lovers and saviors of tenants. In truth, the blame is
shared equally by both major parties and by leading politicians in both
major parties. Remember, it was the Democrats who claimed victory at last
years "Sell-Out '97." Here's why Peter Vallone is no friend of tenants.


Intro 108, a bill introduced by Ronnie Eldridge to stop the illegal
conversion of SRO (single room occupancy) housing to other uses. SRO's
house mainly poor and elderly people who cannot afford apartments. They are
prevalent on the West Side on land, which is prime for tourists, and real
estate has been in a feeding frenzy to convert SRO's into expensive hotels.
Landlords have harassed SRO tenants to move and done renovations while the
tenants are still in occupancy. Under this new bill, Landlords would not be
permitted to do illegal work by denying them work permits for three years
if the landlord fails to get a "certificate of no harassment". This bill is
bottled up in the Housing Committee under Archie Spigner. City Council
Speaker Peter Vallone could make Spigner hold hearings but has refused to
do so. SRO Tenants United had a letter writing campaign to Vallone to let
the City Council vote-so far to no avail.


Peter Vallone has not supported Stanley Michels' bill dealing with the
assignment of HPD to do the analysis of the 1999 census of vacant
apartments. The census is important because it is supposed to analyze the
apartment "vacancy rate" in New York and this rate is supposed to be at
least 5% in order to maintain rent regulations. The analysis of the report
is crucial because there are many ways to count vacant apartments. For
example, will all the vacant luxury apartments that no one can afford be
counted? Michels bill will investigate whether HPD is competent to analyze
the information. We know that HPD is a creature of the Mayor and will do
whatever Guiliani finds expedient, which we know will favor the real estate
lobby. Getting rid of rent regulations is their main goal and they will do
it by any means necessary! Vallone, paid for by real estate, continues to
do their bidding.


Peter Vallone for many years has taken large amounts of money from the
landlord/real estate lobby. This year is no different.


Vallone's former chief of staff, Joe Strasburg now heads up the landlord
group, Rent Stabilization Association. This shows the kind of people who
surround Peter Vallone.


Vallone brought permanent Vacancy Decontrol to NYC tenants-for apartments
renting over $2000.This was hard-fought by the Tenant Movement and
pro-tenant politicians. The only softening of the bill was due to their
efforts, and the decontrol now can only take place after the rent goes
above $2000 and if the tenant's income is more than $125,000. However, the
apartment is permanently deregulated regardless of the income of future


City Councilman Anthony Weiner, a major tenant enemy, introduced the
"self-certification" bill with Vallone's support. This bill, had it not
been stopped by the strong efforts of the Tenants' movement, would have
allowed landlords to certify themselves that all violations had been
removed from their buildings.


Vallone pushed the City Council to approve the Eighth Avenue Air Rights
Zoning Plan, in spite of Community board opposition. Campaign contributions
were received from theater owners and developers who want to develop the
Clinton area allowing skyscrapers in this area. This is a residential area
composed of families, small businesses and immigrants. The Air Rights
Zoning will make this a Special District which will destroy the
neighborhood. Vallone would not even meet with local residents.


NO, NO, NO! Some see Vallone as the "lesser of two evils." We see Vallone
as one of two "equal evils." Pataki was deservedly villified during the
Rent Wars in 1997. He's done irreversable damage to tenant protections. But
so has Peter Vallone.

Much of what tenants read and saw during the Rent Wars was a creation of
the Democratic Party for political gain. It was finger pointing, and
Vallone (as did Shel Silver and Vito Lopez) went out of his way to cast
blame on Pataki. Tenants might remember those countless Rent Forums where
the Democratic politicians stood up and pointed to Pataki and Bruno. It was
all positioning, covering up for their party's undermining tenant
protections during twelve years of Cuomo. Remember, even Giuliani was going
around pretending to love tenants, but we all know that was baloney.
Assembly Speaker Silver and Peter Vallone relied on their water-boy,
Michael McKee of Tenants & Neighbors, to deflect attention away from the
Democratic Party's culpability.

Our point is that Vallone and Pataki are two of a kind... there's no
difference. Pataki is bad for tenants and Vallone is bad for tenants. The
reality is that there is no pro-tenant candidate running for governor who
has a realistic chance of winning. (And now it's obvious that Vallone has
no chance of winning).

Democrats will continue to serve up machine hack candidates like Vallone
who sell out neighborhoods and damage tenants' rights if they are rewarded
for simply not being Republicans. Tenants should vote for good candidates.
Vallone is not one.

We suggest tenants consider voting for either Betsy Ross McCaughey or Al
"Grandpa" Lewis for Governor. 'No' to Pataki AND 'No' to Vallone.


Again, NO, NO, NO!!! Take a look at Vallone's record on tenants rights.

Nothing has changed. We know that some tenants met with the Vallone
campaign earlier this month. According to some that attended the meeting,
Vallone's representatives made only "vague language" about being supportive
of tenant interests. Nothing was promised. They would not sign on the
dotted line about any current tenant issue. They wouldn't remove Archie
Spigner from the Housing committee. They wouldn't sign on to or allow to be
moved the Eldridge bill (Intro. 108) to stop the illegal conversion of SRO
(single room occupancy) housing to other uses. They did nothing.

Those that think Vallone might be better disposed to help tenants after the
election, no matter where he lands, are fooling themselves. This man has
made a career of collecting landlord money and delivering for them. If he
was going to help tenants in any way, he would make specific commitments.
If he was going to consider the interests of neighborhoods, he would not
have pushed the Eighth Avenue Air Rights Zoning through City Council in
August, shortly after he took campaign contributions from those who would
directly benefit from the rezoning.


If you think Democrats are so bad, then you should love the idea of this
new "progressive" Working Families Party, right?

NO, NO, NO (OK, so it sounds like a broken record). It's many of the same
faces, the same people who have allowed the Democratic Party to become
ineffective and unfocused. Wouldn't it be better to fight for the ideals of
what was the Democratic Party than to pretend to nudge them?

If the Working Families Party expects to be principled, it's starting off
with lousy credibility by putting Vallone at the top of it's ticket.

That's because we don't think principle is high on this new party's list of
priorities. It all sounds nice, but it's a creation of certain unions (most
of whom forgot where they came from) and David Dinkins to attempt to push
aside the Liberal Party (which is also pretty rotten, having spawned the
likes of Ray Harding and Fran Reiter.

The WFP admits right upfront that it put Vallone on its ticket so they can
get the 50,000 votes needed to secure a place on future ballots. Third
parties do play a legitimate role in nudging the major parties, but you
don't do it with Peter Vallone.

We've been criticized for "undermining" the Democratic Party, but it's
interesting that much of that criticism is coming from quarters now allied
with Working Familes. Go Figure.


"This new decontrol bill, Intro 220, passed March 21 by a narrow margin
because the landlords had powerful allies, chief among them City Council
Speaker Vallone."
   — Mike McKee, NYSTNC, Spring 1994

"...City Council Speaker Peter Vallone blocked tenants attempts to repeal
the 1994 decontrol amendments... Vallone was the architect of the 1994
decontrol provisions, which had been written into state law for a
three-month window that expired on October 1, 1993. His resurrection of the
expired state provisions in the Council made them permanent." 
   — Jenny Laurie, Met Council, April 1997

"The RSA's new president, Joe Strasburg, a former top aide to City Council
Speaker Peter Vallone, flouted laws prohibiting lobbying by recent
government employees. The group's three most closely held assets in the
Council -- Vallone, Housing Comittee chair Archie Spigner and Antonio Pagan
-- proposed a resolution urging the state Legislature to pass a law
requiring rent deposits." 
   — Kenny Schaffer, Met Council, September 1997

"What's all the nonsense about?" 
   — Peter Vallone to tenants picketing his Astoria office in March 1997
when he refused to repeal vacancy decontrol

"...Peter Vallone has shown himself to be completely unfit for higher
office. Only two months ago he sponsored Intro 994-A, a law that would have
permitted landlords to “self-certify” that housing-code violations have
been corrected. No city inspectors... just landlord lies. Tenants who
successfully demonstrated against the bill carried this banner: "'Hey
Valloney, 994-A Is Baloney.'" 
   — Peter D. Moss, Queens tenant, March 1998, Tenant/Inquilino Letter to
the Editor

"How dare the City Council ignore us. Council Speaker Peter Vallone could
eliminate the 1994 vacancy-decontrol loophole by changing 'one sentence in
a bill,' but instead has chosen to keep its repeal bottled up in committee." 
   — Penny LaForest, Queens League of United Tenants, March 1997


Peter Vallone is crying foul. The papers reported on October 26 that
supporters of Governor Pataki "roughed up" supporters of Vallone at an
event in Harlem. Pataki was appearing at an arts center and Vallone
supporters were heckling Pataki.

Vallone immediately called Police Commissioner Howard Safir and told the
New York Post:

  "We can't have any of this continuing in the last week of the 
  election, where people go around pushing people... They think 
  they can be physically intimidating people who are exercising 
  their constitutional rights."

A Vallone supporter, Jordan Barawitz stated, that "beefy" guards started
shoving the Vallone contingent. "As far as I could tell, they were Pataki
supporters... They acted like Pataki supporters. They were with the
governor. They were standing with him. It was in his entourage."

Peter, Give us a break. We don't doubt for a moment that Pataki supporters
went after Vallone's people, but the crocodile tears shed by the Vallone
camp are sickening.

After all, it was Peter Vallone's own son, Peter Vallone, Jr., who led a
Vallone contingent that attacked and assaulted tenants and Clinton
residents who were protesting Vallone outside the Democratic Primary debate
held on September 5 at WABC-TV.

The September 6 edition of Newsday reported:

   "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."

Demonstrators reported that the Vallone people were also "beefy" and looked
like hired thugs. Maybe someone ought to tell Peter his goons are
moonlighting for George!

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, 03 Nov 1998 11:44:34 -0500
Subject: Vote Schumer Today! Plus Readers' comments

Our Picks -- See Readers' comments below

The next time you want to complain about your landlord, or DHCR, or Housing
Court, remember, these corrupt institutions exist because many tenants
allow people like Al D'Amato to stay in office. They also exist because of
corrupt machine politics in the Democratic Party, giving us the likes of
Peter Vallone and Virginia Fields. You should demand better.

* SCHUMER FOR SENATE -- It's a close race, but winnable. Call three
friends, email three more. Tell them to go vote for Chuck Schumer for US

* Dennis Vacco has hurt tenants enormously. Vote him out of office by
voting for Elliot Spitzer. Spitzer is not our dream, but there's a world of
difference between him and Vacco.

* Vote "NO" on the ballot proposal by the Charter Revision Commission. It's
a sham by Giuliani.

In our last email we presented our argument that Pataki and Vallone are the
equal of two evils. Pataki is expected to win, but if one votes on
principle, we strongly suggest that your principle not be wasted on Peter
Vallone, either on the Democratic line OR the Working Families Party line.

Last night we received a phone call from a Manhattan elected official (one
of those entrenched liberals), who asked us to vote for Peter Vallone on
the Working Families line... because it would help the Democratic Party.
Why in the world would I want to help the Democratic Party? Give us good
candidates and I'll vote for them.



Subject: Re: Tuesday's Elections

You tell it like it is.  My old loyalty has me as an old liberal, and it's
good to see someone taking the trouble to tell the truth.  Many thanks,
Esther Smoke


From: "Marcia H. Lemmon" 
Subject: Re: Tuesday's Elections

Peter Vallone also has taken campaign contributions from the New York
Nightlife Association, a gorup of bar and club owners who members
regularily degrade the quality of life in many, many New York
neighborhoods. Vallone is no friend to tenants, residents or anyone other
than special intertest fat-cat contributers.


From: (an anonymous elected official)

Thanks for your Election News. The [local Manhattan weekly] has an
endorsement editorial this week. They not only endorsed Vallone but they
praised him. It would be great if you wrote to them.  


Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 00:07:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: More Reasons Not To Vote for Vallone

Peter Vallone, Speaker of the City Council

* Voted against the Gay Rights Bill as City Council leader and attempted to
restore the right to discriminate in low-density housing after the bill

* Supported construction of the toxic Brooklyn Navy Yard garbage
incinerator and is failing to act to prevent Brooklyn's waterfront from
becoming New York's next massive garbage dump.

* Helped to secure placement of a nuclear "homeport" in New York Harbor and
celebrated the mass deaths and disease caused by the Persian Gulf War

* Forced the City Council to adopt almost all of Republican Mayor
Guiliani's budget cuts to hospitals, schools, transit, parks and youth
programs. and retaliated against the few Council Members who voted their
conscience and refused to accept his dictates by cutting funding to their
local districts.

* Has refused to bring legislation against genetic engineering of foods, or
to create a public jobs program, or to reduce the amount of waste generated
by City government, to a vote. and even refuses to pass a law to enable
workfare (WEP) workers to challenge abusive work conditions.

* Successfully eliminated rent protections for many middle-income tenants
through so-called "luxury decontrol." no wonder that the leader of the Rent
Stabilization Association, an influential landlord lobbying organization,
was previously his Counsel at the City Council.


* Same Friends Too.  Investigation of campaign contributions filings show
that both Pataki and Vallone receive most of their millions from real
estate, financial, banking and corporate interests (that's why, once
elected, they represent corporate interests and the rich instead of the
people who actually voted for them). Often the same firms or individuals
give to both!

(Some liberals, while acknowledging the problems with Vallone's record,
urge a vote for Vallone on the Working Family line to create a new
political party. However, state election law gives Vallone, Schumer and
McCall the right to write the rules for the new party and to control its


From: anonymous
Re: Tuesday's Elections

Thanks for the true story on Vallone. Its shameful the assault on tenants'
rights. Can you tell us more about Ross and Lewis, and why they are better
tenant advocates?

I'm a NYC attorney and I read your newsletter all the time. Perhaps you can
say something about the Housing Court judges and how beholden many of them
are to the powerful landlords and their law firms. Some of these judges
(who will remain nameless for now) are literally INSANE. You may want to
say more about how some of these landlords are using the
Courts as their ally to evict tenants, particularly in SRO's. I've been
fighting _______ Management, who owns over 90 buildings in the City.  Their
modus operandi is to acquire SRO Hotels and then bring litigation against
all of the tenants in the building.  The tenants can not afford $1,500 a
day for an L&T attorney to protect their rights in Civil Court, and wind up
settling for peanuts (moving out). Plus, the courts are so hostile in
general, woe be the poor tenant that has to appear in an angry Court
without an attorney to sort through the legal technicalities and judge's
general impatience with tenants. Its a shameful slaughter -- like shooting
fish in a barrel. Tenants are on the ropes and are losing the battle. Its a
sad, sad state of affairs.

Please keep up the good work.



Seen on the newsgroups
Subject: Vote Al Lewis for Governor - Make the Greens Official

I am writing to urge you to vote for Al Lewis as the Green Party candidate
for Governor on Tuesday, Nov. 3. If Al and his running mate Alice Green get
at least 50,000 votes, the Greens become an official party in NYS, making
it easier for us to run candidates for office. More importantly, we become
an official alternative to the failed policies of the two major (corporate)
parties. I hope you will pass this message on to your own friends.

When I first met Al six months ago, I just knew him from his television
role as Grandpa on the Munsters. I didn't know that he had been a life long
champion for the underdog. Al organized workers in the Jim Crow south
during the thirties. Throughout his life he has organized support for
people he felt had been unfairly imprisoned, from union activists to Black
Panthers to low-level drug users sentenced to 20 years under New York's
draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. He was one of those people who during the
Great Depression would carry people's belongings back from the streets into
their apartments after they were evicted.

I have come to think of Al as my own "Grandpa" I never knew: someone who
makes you smile when you see him but tends to talk too loud. Al likes to
shock people, especially reporters - he says he needs to make people think,
something they don't tend to do when you recite a laundry list of
statistics. He says that he is not worried about reaching the 76,000 New
Yorkers who voted for Ralph Nader as the Green Party's Presidential
candidate two years ago: "they already believe in what the Green Party
stands for".

Al Lewis wants to reach those people who think the Green Party is something
that happens when Kermit the Frog gets together with his friends. He wants
to reach that sixty percent of the people who don't bother to vote because
they believe that all politicians are crooks that just look out for their
rich and powerful campaign contributors. He believes in bluntly speaking
the truth in a way that people will hear.

Al Lewis opposes the death penalty. He believes that things such as a
decent-paying job, child care, health care, housing, food should be a basic
human right guaranteed to everyone. He believes that the rich should pay
their fair share of taxes and that the extra income should be given to
local communities to rebuild and put people back to work. He believes that
government needs to stand up to corporations that maximize their profits by
dumping their toxic wastes into our water and air. He wants to stop the
legalized bribery politicians call campaign contributions. He believes that
we need to confront racism and homophobia.

Don't vote for the lesser of two evils this November. With the Democrats
unable to mount a credible challenge to Governor Pataki, invest your vote
in making a difference for the future.

Even if you still believe there is any difference between the two major
parties, you should still want the Greens to become an established party.
The Assembly is the only place at the State level where the Democrats are
still viable. They have moved sharply to the right in the last four years,
and without a progressive third party to keep them honest, this trend will
accelerate following Pataki's election. As Pataki moves further to the
right to position himself to run for President, (and to compete with Mayor
Giuliani), he will pull the Assembly Democrats with him - unless the
Assembly leadership believes that the Greens will run candidates against
conservative Democrats and draw 3 to 5% of the vote, allowing Republicans
to win.  The Working Families party won't risk such a fundamental challenge
to the Democrat Party; they just want to lobby them, not build a new party.

Vote for Al Lewis and Alice Green on the Green Party line and create a
party for the rest of us. Vote the bottom line on Nov. 3.



From: ippn 
Subject: Re: Tuesday's Elections]

As an alternative to Peter Vallone, what happened to Mary Alice France on
the Unity Party line? Here is the Unity Party's platform on housing: "We
oppose selling public housing to private developers, support maintenance of
the 30% income cap and call for the construction of publicly-subsidized new
housing for the homeless and low- and moderate-income people. We will work
to strengthen and extend rent stabilization, rent control and eviction
protections, as well as to provide sufficient funding to localities for
adequate housing code enforcement in both private and public housing. Local
non-profit, community-based housing development and management groups must
be actively supported and encouraged."

In addition to the platform (which can certainly be expanded and
strengthened but which is clearly on the right side), there is the fact
that the Unity Party's strength is its roots in and leadership from the
African American community, while being openly, explicitly and actively
multi-racial. For those who remember the best days of the 1980's Rainbow
movement, before Jesse Jackson demobilized the Rainbow and became a staunch
Democrat, there are a lot of similarities, and this effort is very clear
and forthright and strong about its political independence.

Finally, Mary Alice France has an impressive background as a community
activist, educator and fighter for what is right, including but not limited
to tenants rights and pro-people housing policies. She stands head and
shoulders above Betsy McCaughey Ross and Al Lewis when it comes to
political credentials.

The Unity Party will shake up N.Y. state if we get over 50,000 votes on
Tuesday. We think we have a definite shot; there's a lot going on and some
major movement towards the Unity Party, particulary in the African American
community. The tenant movement should vote for a positive, practical
candidate for Governor, Mary Alice France and work with the Unity Party



Also seen on the newsgroups
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 20:25:48 GMT

Pardon an inquiry from the void north of White Plains/south of Albany.
Whatever happened to that Vallone fellow - once was the Democratic
candidate for NYS Governor?

Is he stuck in traffic on the BQE, or what? Exactly "once" there was a
report that he had made a visit to Upstate, NY, but had left in a hurry on
accounta bad weather {or maybe it was an allergy to the odor of cow dung?}

Here, in the Binghamton, NY area [a.k.a., the Souther Tier] I haven't even
seen a TV ad for Vallone in over a week; there is virtually NO mention of
him in the local press or TV or radio ...

Did he concede the election already? Well... I guess there's still Golisano
[sp] to vote for -- given what appears to me to be a truly *pathetic*
effort on the part of Vallone, I suppose that's the very thing to do.

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, 11 Nov 1998 13:06:55 -0500
Subject: Tenants Online 11/11/98

Tenants Online                                           11/11/98
In this issue...

* Tom Duane goes to the Senate
* Book this date: City Council Candidate Forum 12/7/98
* Future of Leo House
* On last week's election...
* City Gardens Being Bulldozed


MR. DUANE GOES TO ALBANY; Challengers line up

Longtime City Councilmember Tom Duane was elected last week to the New York
State Senate and will replace Catherine Abate who relinquished her seat to
run for Attorney General. Tom will become the first openly gay Senator in
NYS. He will face challenges, as Abate did, as a freshman Senator in a
minority party. We congratulate Tom and we hope he will show courage in
exerting independence from the Senate Democratic machine (even if its costs
a few perks along the way).

Eric Schneiderman was elected from the Upper West Side (and parts of
Chelsea, Clinton and the Bronx) to replace retiring longtime Senator Franz
Leichter. We find Eric to be very personable and approachable, and he
supported Clinton residents in the recent Eighth Avenue Zoning debacle, but
during the primary there were those that raised questions about his being
too "slick" and too "connected." Some of that (like the Saudi Prince
connection) was just headline stuff and identity politics, but there were
legitimate questions raised over various real estate connections. We share
that concern. Being "connected" can sometimes be valuable, but it can also
be harmful to the community. It depends on one's agenda. We hope Eric will
continue to reach out to his various consituencies, become a peoples
Senator, and earn the shoes of his predecessor.

As 2001 draws closer, many City Council members face term limits and are
expected to seek other positions either in the public or private sector.
It's an opportunity to put fresh tenant-friendly faces in city government,
but also presents dangers from real estate interests who will push their
own candidates.

Tom Duane will leave open the 3rd Councilmanic District comprised of the
West Village, Chelsea and Clinton neighborhoods, all with high tenant
populations. Those that remember the six-year run of Antonio Pagan in the
East Village know the potential dangers. We're lucky that Pagan is gone and
that seat is now filled by Margarita Lopez. The westisde race is expected
to be hard-fought.

So far, four candidates have emerged to run for Tom's seat: (in
alphabetical order)

  Aubrey Lees:
  District Leader in the Village

  Christopher Lynn
  former Giuliani Transportation Commissioner

  Carlos Manzano
  President of the McManus Democratic Club

  Christine Quinn
  Director of Lesbian/Gay Anti-Violence Project, former Chief of Staff to
Councilmember Tom Duane

When Tom resigns from his City Council seat (probably on Dec. 31), the
Mayor will call a nonpartisan Special Election to be held either in late
February or early March. A number of debates have already been held in the
Village and in Chelsea. 


The Clinton/Hell's Kitchen neighborhood will hold a Candidates Forum,
sponsored by the Clinton Special District Coalition on Monday, December
7th. The public is invited to attend.

  Monday, December 7th at 8:00 P.M.
  Hartley House, 413 West 46th St.

(The room will hold about 125, so get there early.)


[we apologize for not getting this out sooner, but there's still time]

Date: Thu, 05 Nov 1998 09:29:14 -0500
From: Alice Olson 
Subject: The Future of Leo House

The three women remaining in the Leo House Annex will be moving out soon,
having lost their six year struggle to remain in their homes. It was a
valiant fight and we hope all who support tenants' rights will take the
opportunity to honor and thank these women on the day they leave the
building. That date hasn't been set, but we will notify everyone when it is
finalized and hope to raise the largest crowd ever for a Leo House


Representatives of tenants' organizations, the Community Board, and elected
officials will meet with the Director of Catholic Charities and a
representative of Cardinal O'Connor on November 12 to press the
neighborhood's demand that a significant portion of the Leo House Annex be
preserved as affordable housing for women. You can help strengthen the hand
of the neighborhood's representatives at that meeting by sending a letter
TODAY to the Cardinal. Here's a text you are free to use and/or to modify
for your own letter -- and get others to sign it too!

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

Your Eminence,

We urge you to ensure that affordable housing for women be included in full
or in part in the plans of the Board of Directors of the Leo House Annex at
332 West 23rd Street. It is tragic to destroy twenty eight rooms of low
rent housing for women, especially in a church related residence.

We hope you can change the Board's plan to devote the entire annex to hotel
expansion. Move them in the direction of humanity and justice.


[your name]



We're glad to see Chuck Schumer knock Al D'Amato out of the US Senate. The
Governor's race called for some soul searching. As much as Pataki, along
with Joe Bruno, hurt tenants tremendously during last year's Rent Wars, we
felt strongly that Peter Vallone has, is and will be cut from the same mold
as Pataki. We disagree with some other tenant advocates, some of whom
grudgingly supported Vallone and who felt he had some last-minute
conversion or that we might get some crumbs from his table. That he even
refused to sign onto pending pro-tenant legislation during the campaign is
more than telling about this man. As long as tenants (and tenant leaders)
are willing to support people like Peter Vallone for the sole reason they
are not Republican, then we will get more of such candidates from the
Democratic party.

>From a local resident who [we hope] is being facetious...

"It appears that democratic voters in New York think that Vallone sucks
more than the rest of the country thinks Monica does. I think you should
take personal responsibility for preventing the democratic sweep in New
York. Your power is mighty."

and from another who thinks we're [ugh!] liberal...

"Get me off this list. Your blatant promotion of that scum bag Schumer is
pathetic. Elect a guy to
that office due to his position on a single issue? How narrow-minded can
you be? Focus on what you had claimed you focus on not liberal politics!"


"great work guys; i emailed your last newsletter all over the place!! what
bugs me so much about Vallone, other than his record, is the complete blind
eye the establishment--including the press--had turned about his appalling
track record in the council. if Spitzer really pulls this thing off, will
you guys engage in a real fight to get corrupt landlords punished through
the AG's office?"


From: Tami J Friedman 
Subject: my two cents

Thank you very, very much for your eminently reasonable Election Day
recommendations. Based on them, I may actually go to the polls! I thought
I'd share with you a message I sent to the Working Families Party recently.
I'm glad to know I've got lots of company out on the limb.

Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 10:50:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Tami J Friedman 
To: Working Families Party 

To whom it may concern,

Well, I was going to let this whole thing slide, but since I'm now
compelled to request removal from your mailing list, I might as well
express my concerns about my recent experience with the Working Families

Just recently, I was contacted by e-mail by Daniel Cantor. He was referred
to me by several people connected with Scholars, Artists and Writers for
Social Justice (SAWSJ), an organization for whom I served as staffperson
earlier this year. He expressed interest in hiring me to promote the Party.

A few days ago, I called to tell Mr. Cantor that I was not available,
largely because of lack of time (I'm writing a dissertation and already
have a 20-hour-per-week job) and, incidentally, lack of interest (I don't
support the Party's strategy).

I expected to simply offer to pass the word along to others who might be
interested, and then get off the phone.  Instead, Mr. Cantor asked why I
didn't support the Party. I replied that I didn't think fusion is what's
needed at this point, and that I felt a third party ought to be a third
party. As a former resident of Madison, WI, I'm familiar with the New
Party, and I'm frustrated that it still has not moved beyond fusion and
severed its Democratic Party ties.

What followed was a nasty exchange in which Mr. Cantor expressed
astonishment and, indeed, outrage at my position. While the quotes that
follow are not precise, they accurately reflect what I was told.  Cantor's
mode of attack was to call me ignorant (I "haven't been around the labor
movement very long," "don't know much about New York politics," etc.) and
to suggest that I must be part of some tiny, flaky fringe element (since
"everyone who's ever been around socialism or the left is with us").  At
the same time, Cantor stressed how rewarding it was to work with trade
unionists, specifically the Laborers, who "have never been around anything
radical in their lives." Cantor consistently addressed me in a hostile,
angry and condescending tone.

Shaken by the ferocity of this attack--during which I tried to defend my
point of view--I told Mr. Cantor that I didn't think telling people their
politics were stupid was the way to convince them of one's perspective.
Cantor responded that, obviously, if he didn't "respect" me, he wouldn't be
trying to convince me. Obviously, he lamented, it wasn't working.

I wasn't a particular fan of the Party before calling Mr. Cantor. Now, I
plan to steer clear of the organization altogether. But I do have a few

1. Know who you're talking to.

Since I gather that Mr. Cantor knew little or nothing about me, let me fill
you in. I'm a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. history, studying 20th-century labor
history. I've done extensive research on the garment industry in New York.
My dissertation covers industrial migration from the North (specifically
New York State) to the South after World War II. I serve on the executive
board of the New York Labor History Association.

I have also spent about a decade in clerical jobs. During part of that
time, I served as an officer and shop steward of an AFSCME local. More
recently, I have worked actively to support the clerical union at the
university I attend--a union to which I now belong.

I was raised in a staunch and active Democratic Party household, with a
family member who held state-level political office for many years and
enjoys close relations with Party leadership. As a feminist and independent
socialist, I have been politically active on a whole range of progressive
issues for approximately 20 years.

This background ought to make clear that I am capable of formulating
viewpoints on questions involving labor, politics, the left, and New York.

2. Support your position with arguments, not attacks.

That Cantor felt comfortable attacking a leftist (as I identified myself),
while expressing pleasure about the Party's inroads among normally
conservative (and white male?) unionists, suggests that the Party is
primarily interested in attracting mainstream elements. Assuming that the
Party is not itself mainstream, but is simply tailoring its image to fit
mainstream expectations, then it seems legitimate to ask: In what ways does
the Party represent a progressive alternative? How and when will its
progressive aspects be revealed? How will it explain the revelation to its
mainstream constituents?  And why is it now alienating members of a
potential progressive base? Defensiveness and ad hominem attacks are no
substitute for answers.

But perhaps, fundamentally, the Party still envisions the Democratic Party
as the principal site for political work. This, too, raises legitimate
questions, for surely, at this stage in our political history, it is
continued alliance with a bankrupt Democratic Party--more so than promotion
of an alternative to it--that requires thoughtful explanation. Even before
speaking to Cantor, I had been dismayed to read that, once the Party has a
ballot line in New York, it hopes to "act as a check on the Democrats'
rightward drift by endorsing progressives, withholding support from
conservatives and occasionally punishing them by running independent
candidates." ("Pull That WFP Lever," The Nation, Nov. 2, 1998)  Yet Cantor
raged at me that "it's not about Peter Vallone!" Okay. So prove it.  But
please:  Keep your voice down.

In solidarity,
Tami J. Friedman



Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 11:19:08 -0500

Yesterday morning, the Garden of Love on 121st Street was bulldozed without
notice, as children from P.S. 76 were heading out to it to play. Below is
the text of a generally very sympathetic NY Times story that ran today on B3.

The story does, however, unquestioningly repeat the Giuliani
Administration's bogus claim that gardens are being destroyed for
"affordable housing" -- I encourage the housing folks on this list to write
letters to the editor ( correcting them on this score.
(For the benefit of newcomers, I've reproduced the "gardens aren't standing
in the way of affordable housing" statement put together this spring at the
end of this message.)

Not satisfied with demolishing the Children's Garden of Love in Harlem last
week, the City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)
intends to bulldoze EIGHT MORE Harlem gardens this week.

    The citywide NYC Community Garden Coalition will meet from
    7-9 PM this Wednesday, Nov. 11 to plan responses to this attack.
    All are invited. Location: CHARAS/El Bohio, 605 E. 9th, betw B&C.

This action is despicable in itself, but it's even more alarming as a
precedent, for the City is destroying these gardens WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC

Last spring, the City made an "emergency transfer" of all the community
gardens on City-owned land to HPD. This undemocratic decree was protested
vigorously at the time, for it was clearly a move to make the gardens more
readily available for development. It was followed by another disturbing
step: The City refused to renew any of the gardens' Green Thumb leases.

The Harlem bulldozing is a signal that the City now believes it can
bulldoze gardens without going through any of the standard public review
procedures (for those of you familiar with the alphabet-soup bureaucratic
lingo, the emergency transfer to HPD circumvents ULURP).

It is also a signal that the City intends to bulldoze gardens BEFORE there
are even any concrete plans to develop them -- so that it can offer up the
land to developers already vacant, and thus spare real-estate profiteers
the delay, trouble, and expense of evicting an existing garden.

For more timely updates on garden issues, email

NY Times 11/3/98
Bulldozers Raze a Student Garden in Harlem

Tom Goodridge, a special education teacher, arrived at work as usual Monday
morning, dropped his compost in the community garden across the street,
picked up a few candy wrappers left over from Halloween and was at his post
at Public School 76 in Harlem by 7:40.

Two hours later, the living classroom Goodridge had helped build for six
years was flattened by bulldozers. The sign explaining what should be put
in the pentagonal compost hung lonely on the abandoned brick building next
to what had been the garden, but was now just a pile of dirt.

Goodridge and others involved in the student-named Garden of Love in Harlem
had known for a year that their space was in jeopardy, as part of the
Giuliani administration's plan to convert city-owned lots -- some merely
vacant, many blossoming community gardens, of which there are 750 -- into
new housing developments. But they thought the city would notify them
before the bulldozers came, so they could move the trove of trees, the
curving brick path and the storytelling circle to a plot behind the school
where a new garden was planned.

"This was a symbol of hope for me, for the school," Goodridge said. "It's
devastating. This is an incredible insult. How do you answer a child's why?
Why'd they go and do that?"

In their quest to create affordable housing in urban neighborhoods, city
officials have often had to decide what to do with community gardens that
sprang up in abandoned lots. A policy statement from the city's Department
of Housing Preservation and Development indicates the Giuliani
Administration is striving for balance. "Our goal is to create a policy
that recognizes the need for more affordable housing and more permanent
open space," it says.

As for the garden across from P.S. 76, the agency released a statement
Monday saying the lot would be part of a new development of about 100 two-
and three-family homes for low- and moderate-income residents. Gardeners
"were advised to relocate and recycle their plants and building materials"
as their lease on the lot expired last fall, the statement said. Officials
declined to explain why there was no specific warning when the bulldozers
would arrive.

The balancing act between affordable housing and garden oases amid urban
blight held little interest for Pilar Johnson-Scott, the P.T.A. president
at P.S. 76. She was in a meeting at school when she heard about the
bulldozers, and ran across the street in time to save the crab apple tree
that had been the favorite of her 7-year-old son, Andre.

Then she cried for the other plants.

"The city comes in and just takes their dreams," Ms. Johnson-Scott said
Monday afternoon, her tears replaced by anger. "This is something that they
made, that they created. What is the city trying to do? Are they trying to
build up the community or tear it down?"

Goodridge and Mary Emma Harris, a horticulturist, were hoping to build a
bit of community when they began the Garden of Love six years ago. Since
then, the garden has received $27,000 in grants and other donations.

"This becomes a part of people's lives, it becomes a part of children's
lives," said Cynthia Worley, a founder of Project Harmony, a Harlem
neighborhood group. "A part of them has been destroyed by having this
living, growing thing they've worked on for years and years and years
destroyed in front of their eyes."

When he was growing up in Greenwich, Conn., Goodridge said, he would climb
a tree whenever he had a problem. His students had none to climb. On a
field trip to Central Park, they marveled at "all the trees together"
rather than marching in a line, he recalled. Gazing at another community
garden down the block, he said, they asked what the apples were doing on a
tree, rather than in the market.

"It was thrilling to be able to do something in a green way," said
Goodridge, 47, who lives just a few blocks from the school. "To me that's
as important as the A B C's. I think a child learns more by planting in a
garden, doing something real, feeling their own impact on something, rather
than just talking about something abstract in a book."

In the 25-by-75-foot garden across from P.S. 76, each season brought new
lessons. Fifth graders planted the grass. Science classes started warm
compost. Third graders studied the bees buzzing around the flowers. Second
graders made two large dream catchers, an American Indian folk tradition,
for the back fence.

In between, teachers found sanity and serenity eating lunch under the shade
of the mulberry tree, while children turned over logs to uncover worms and
munched on the peppermint, strawberries and blueberries. There were tulips
to pick, potatoes and greens to eat and, once, a monarch butterfly to gaze at.

"I didn't come to play, I came to work," Andre Johnson said of the garden.
"Plant flowers and eat pumpkin and eat crab apples, crab berries. The worms
and stuff. I almost took one home, but somebody killed it."

On Monday, huge tire tracks remained in the freshly turned dirt, a few
bricks from the path sticking up. The trees, some eight feet tall, had all
been taken to the Dumpster, but a few broken flowerpots and garden labels
remained in the rubble.

Andre picked up a half-crushed white plastic pot, took it to the stoop of
the neighboring building and stuck a few leaves inside. "I want to make a
new garden," he said.


But Housing Advocates Say:

Statement endorsed by: Metropolitan Council on Housing; Harlem Tenants
Council; Queens League of United Tenants; People’s Firehouse Housing &
Community Development; Riverside and Edgecombe Neighborhood Association;
West Harlem Coalition; East Side Tenants Coalition; Chelsea Coalition on
Housing; TenantNet; Make the Road by Walking, Inc.; Lower East Side

The Giuliani Administration’s claim that community gardens must be
destroyed to make way for affordable housing is a cruel lie. As housing
advocates, we fully support the preservation of community gardens. They are
an integral part of the character and culture of our neighborhoods.

There is no shortage of land on which the City could build desperately
needed housing—there are 14,000 vacant lots in the City’s inventory, plus
hundreds of vacant buildings that could be renovated.

Instead of creating low-income housing on these sites, the Giuliani
Administration has been in a fevered rush to sell off City land. The small
amounts of subsidized housing that the City has developed have been
condominiums priced out of reach of low- and middle-income families.

We reject the Giuliani Administration’s attempt to justify bulldozing
gardens by appealing to the City’s affordable housing crisis. The
Administration is doing nothing to address this crisis and has in fact
exacerbated it, by transferring City-owned buildings to speculators;
failing to enforce housing codes; drastically cutting enforcement attorneys
and code inspectors; imposing unjustifiably high rent increases; supporting
the real-estate industry’s campaign to weaken rent and eviction
protections; and privatizing public housing.

The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
  NYtenants(tm) 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: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 11:00:23 -0500
Subject: Tenants Online 11/15/98

Tenants Online                                           11/15/98
In this issue...

* Leo House Holiday Vigil on December 5th
* So you want to keep a pet, but your Landlord says No?
* How Pataki’s DHCR Rips Off Overcharged Tenants (Met Council)
* From the Garden Coalition
* Destruction of the Dome Garden



Every year since the eviction notices were served on the 28 women living in
the Leo House Annex at 323 West 23rd Street, neighbors, friends, and
housing advocates have gathered for a holiday demonstration in front of the
building. This year, the demonstration takes on special meaning because it
will mark the moving-out of the last three women housed in this SRO
operated by an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

We will gather at 12 Noon on December 5 in front of the building. We will
honor the valiant struggle these women have waged to keep their homes and
to preserve safe, affordable housing for women;  we will protest the Leo
House decision to demolish the Annex and replace it with an expansion of
the tourist hotel they operate next door; we will demand that the new
building dedicate 50% of its units to long-term, affordable housing for women.

We want this year's "vigil" to be the biggest ever. Please take an hour out
of your day to come by and help make a crowd and make our voices heard.


By Karen Copeland, Esq.

Two types of laws give an individual tenant, renter or cooperative
shareholder the right to keep a pet, even if there is a "no pet" provision
in the proprietary lease, occupancy agreement, house rules, or lease.

The first, and most widely known types of laws are municipal or local "Pet
Laws" which deem that any such "no pet" provision is waived for the
duration of the tenancy if the landlord fails to enforce the provision by
commencing an action or proceeding within three months of the tenant's open
and notorious harboring of the pet.

The second category of laws which would enable a tenant to keep a pet in
spite of a "no pet" rule are the federal state, and local laws which
prohibit discrimination against the disabled. Such laws mandate that a
housing provider grant a "reasonable accommodation" necessary for a
disabled person to "use and enjoy" his or her home.

Recent developments in each type of law have enabled many individuals to
keep pets, even in the face of considerable opposition by Boards and
neighbors. While individual co-op boards and landlords may be within their
rights to enact and enforce a "no pet" clause, such prohibitions fail in
the face of superseding laws which give tenants the right to keep pets in
their homes under certain circumstances, which are discussed here.

The "Pet Law"

In New York City (Administrative Code of the City of New York Section
27-2009.1) and Westchester County (Laws of Westchester County Section 694),
statutes commonly known as the "Pet Law" give tenants in all multiple
dwellings, including cooperatives and most condominiums, as well as rental
housing, and government subsidized housing, the right to keep a pet, even
if there is an applicable "no pet" clause in the lease.

Under the "Pet Law", if a landlord fails, within three months of his
knowledge of a tenant's open and notorious harboring of a pet, to enforce
any applicable "no pet" provision, then any such provision is deemed void.
The law applies to unit owners, as well as renters, in co-ops and condos,
whether private or government subsidized.

When is the proceeding "commenced" for purposes of the Pet Law?

Appellate Division case law has confirmed that the proceeding is commenced
by the service of the Petition and Notice of Petition. (RPAPL Section 731;
CPLR Section 401) The case is not commenced by letters, or service of the
predicate Notice to Cure or Notice of Termination. Thus, if the landlord
fails to serve the Petition and Notice of Petition within three months of
has actual or constructive knowledge of the pet, any "no pet" clause is
deemed void pursuant to the Pet Law.

The exception to this rule is if the tenant lies about the pet, says he
will settle the case, says the dog is only temporary, or makes any
representation about the removal of the pet that the landlord relies upon
that representation in refraining from proceeding to enforce the "no pet"
clause. In such a case the Court may look to the date of the service of the
Notice to Cure for the date of commencement of the proceeding. So, if the
landlord asks about the dog the recommended response is: "It's my dog. I'm
keeping it."

What happens if a tenant has had a pet for many years, but the pet dies?
Can the tenant get a new pet to replace the old one under the "Pet Law"?

For years, case law had confirmed that any "no pet" clause was waived years
ago by the keeping of a first pet. Once the "no pet" clause has been waived
for the duration of the tenancy, it is not revived by the introduction of
any new pet, whether it be a replacement for a deceased pet, a second pet,
or possibly even one of a different species than the first. Recently
appellate case law has limited the New York City Pet Law waiver to a "per
pet" basis. In other words, the reintroduction of each new pet revives the
three month waiver "Pet Law" period in which the landlord may enforce a "no
pet" clause. Legislation is currently pending before the City Council to
codify the "per tenancy" waiver interpretation.

In addition, recent decisions suggest that if a pet is kept for a period in
excess of six years, the landlord may be barred from enforcement of a
no-pet clause by the six year statue of limitations which applies to
actions based upon contracts. That pet and any subsequent replacements may
have the benefit of the defense of the statute of limitations if pets were
kept for a period in excess of six years with no significant hiatus between
pets. The landlord may be barred from enforcing the no pet provision due to
the six year Statute of Limitations which applies to contracts, even if the
landlord acts immediately, within the three month Pet Law waiver period to
enforce a no pet clause against the second dog,

There is no requirement under the Pet Law that the permission of the
landlord be sought prior to introducing a pet into the home. As long as the
Board's employees and agents are aware of the dog by your "open and
notorious" behavior, constructive knowledge of the pet will be attributed
to the Board, or landlord, in a court of law, for purposes of determining
when the three month period commences.

It's important to prove when the tenant got the pet, and when the landlord,
by way of its agents and employees, became aware of the pet, and that the
keeping of the pet was "open and notorious".

The following suggestions may help to prove in court when a pet first
entered the building and when the landlord became aware of it.

1. The best proof is any communication from the landlord which shows that
he knew of the dog or dogs for more than three months. Sometimes the
landlord will even let three months pass between the time of service of the
Notice to Cure and the service of the Petition and Notice of Petition
commencing the holdover proceeding.

2. Another form of proof is the testimony of any neighbors who are willing
to come into court to testify. the neighbors should be able to testify how
long you had the dog, and if the pet were seen by the landlord's employees.
(Sorry, letters and petitions from neighbors generally are not admissible
in a trial.)

3. Create a paper trail of dated government documents and medical bills to
indicate duration of pet ownership. Save the adoption certificate, license,
bill of sale, or American Kennel Club papers you receive.

4. Bring the dog to the veterinarian immediately. Save all bills and
records of inoculations, rabies tags, spaying or neutering certificates.

5. Take pictures of the pet in the apartment and in the building, and date
them when you get them from developing. Every picture is worth a thousand
words, so be creative. A photo of you, the dog, and the doorman next to the
building Christmas display would show that the building's agents were aware
of the dog at a certain point in time, for example. Every cat sits in the
window: how about a photo, from the outside of the building, of your cat
sitting in the window of your apartment, to prove "open and notorious"
harboring of the cat? At least one case has been proven by the tenant's
keeping careful photographic records of her dog's growth, from tiny puppy
to full grown dog, in the apartment and around the neighborhood.

6. Save any letters or complaints from the Board or management pertaining
to the pet.

7. Keep a log in a notebook, used exclusively for this purpose, in which
you record any date that workers were in your apartment and saw the dog, or
if the super or doorman saw the dog. Make sure that all entries are made on
or near the time of the occurrence.

Anti-Discrimination Statutes

Cooperative and condo owners with a physical or mental disability are also
protected by the federal Fair Housing Act and the City of New York Civil
Rights Act. These laws provide that disabled individuals be given a
"reasonable accommodation" to 'use and enjoy' their homes by "housing
providers", including co-ops and condos. The failure of a landlord,
cooperative or condo board to grant such a "reasonable accommodation" might
be found to be an act of discrimination against a disabled person in
violation of the aforementioned statutes.

Federal and local case law has recognized that the keeping of a pet can be
such a "reasonable accommodation" under the statutes. If a tenant can prove
that he has any physical or mental impairment, (and, additionally, which
interferes with a major life activity, under the federal law) and has a
medical need to keep the pet, which must be proven with the testimony and
support of a medical professional then the landlord must permit him to keep

Failure of the landlord to grant such a reasonable accommodation to keep a
pet is an "unlawful discriminatory practice" under the law, equivalent to
refusing to put in a ramp for a wheelchair bound tenant.

The co-op board, or individual unit owner who rents his unit could be
liable for compensatory and punitive damages in state or federal court, as
well as hefty fines which may be levied by such regulatory agencies as the
federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the City of New
York Commission on Human Rights for failure to grant such an accommodation
to a disabled tenant.

The federal Fair Housing Act, and the New York City Civil Rights Law
require that a housing provider give a "reasonable accommodation" to a
disabled individual to use and enjoy his or her home by keeping a medically
necessary companion animal.

The term "disabled" pertains to all kinds of mental and physical
disabilities, not just such obvious disabilities as blindness or paralysis.
The laws also cover people with conditions such as mental illness, chronic
depression, diabetes, hearing loss, AIDs, arthritis. If the tenant can
prove disability, (being on Social Security Disability is probably
dispositive proof of disability in itself) and prove a medical need for a
pet, then the landlord must permit the tenant to keep the pet, or face
punitive damages under the statutes preventing discrimination against the
disabled. The medical necessity of keeping a pet may be demonstrated, for
purposes of filing a complaint with HUD or the City of New York Human
Rights Commission, by a doctor's note attesting to the benefits provided by
the pet. Your doctor must also be willing to testify at a hearing, although
such cases usually settle quickly due to the serious "down-side potential"
faced by a landlord.

The law includes, but is not limited to, "seeing eye" dogs, and "hearing"
dogs, but also companion animals who provide the service of emotional
support to their disabled owners. For example, a key case recently before
HUD fined a co-op board several thousands of dollars for refusing to grant
the reasonable accommodation of non-enforcement of an applicable "no pet"
clause to a tenant with chronic depression to keep her pet Yorkshire
terrier, for the unconditional love the dog provides, which her
psychiatrist attested that the tenant needed.

If the Board or landlord refuses permission to keep an emotional support
assistance pet, or refuses to rent to a disabled person who has shown a
medical need to keep an animal, the aggrieved person may file a complaint
against the Board with the City Civil Rights Commission or the State
Attorney General Civil Rights Office, or file a complaint in federal and
state courts for punitive damages for an unlawful discriminatory practice.
The statutes may also be used as a defense to an eviction proceeding.

These laws apply equally to the cooperator who rents his unit. The Board
may scoff at being asked to refrain from enforcing their "no pet" rules for
the benefit of a tenant with a disability such as chronic depression.
Nevertheless, such a denial may cost thousands of dollars in fines and
punitive damages if the tenant can prove her case to HUD, or in a federal

This article is intended to be of general information and is not a
substitute for legal advice. If you are being sued, see an attorney at once
to help you to defend yourself and assert your rights under the law.

Copyright Karen Copeland 1998; reproduced on TenantNet by permission, all
other rights reserved. Karen Copeland is an attorney in private practice
focusing on issues pertaining to companion animals in housing. Formerly,
she was a staff attorney for the Housing Litigation Bureau of the
Department of Housing Preservation and Development of the City of New York.
She may be reached at (212) 560-7154.


How Pataki’s DHCR Rips Off Overcharged Tenants
By William Rowen, Tenant/Inquilino October 1998

Under the Pataki administration, the state Division of Housing and
Community Renewal, which is responsible for handling tenants’ overcharge
complaints, has routinely miscalculated how much interest overcharged
tenants are owed. Because of this, overcharged tenants are cheated out of
hundreds, and often thousands, of dollars.

One of the reasons the state took over administration of rent regulations
in 1983 was that overcharging rent-stabilized tenants had become common.
The 1983 law adopted two new requirements intended to stop overcharging:
universal initial and annual rent registration, and the award of treble
damages and/or interest on overcharges to victimized tenants. Landlords
have to pay three times the amount of the overcharge as a penalty for
“willful” overcharges, and interest on non-willful overcharges. The rate of
interest was set at 9%.

Calculating the amount of interest owed was complicated. For example, if a
$100 a month overcharge lasted for four years, the landlord would owe four
years of interest on the first month’s $100, and one month of interest on
the last month’s. In a review of dozens of overcharge determinations, it
became evident that the DHCR was calculating the interest rate in a way
that resulted in overcharged tenants being substantially underpaid.

First, DHCR was using the wrong factor to determine the interest on a
one-month overcharge, resulting in tenants only being awarded the dollar
amount of the overcharge, not that amount plus one month’s interest. Each
successive monthly factor thereafter was off similarly, based upon the
initial error.

Second, DHCR rent administrators restarted the interest table from month
one each time they calculated a new lease or overcharge period in an
overcharge order. For example, in DHCR’s method, the factor for 24 months
in a 48-month overcharge involving two consecutive two-year leases, where
the overcharge is $150 for the first lease and $156 for the second, is
applied twice, once for each period. The correct way would be to use the
48-month factor for the entire $150 portion of the overcharge, and then
adding the result of $6 times the 24-month factor to pick up the interest
on the increase in the overcharge. DHCR’s method in this example deprived
the tenant of over $750 between two lease periods. If these calculations
are used for a six-year overcharge, the tenant’s loss jumps to almost $2,500.

Met Council asked DHCR to correct this practice immediately and recalculate
all pending orders. The letter further demanded that DHCR respond
positively to tenants’ requests for reconsideration of existing final
orders, on the grounds that the method used to calculate the interest in
their orders was both illegal and irregular.


Turning rent stabilization on its head, DHCR recently issued an overcharge
determination that disregarded overwhelming evidence that the landlord was
not entitled to any rent increase.

The DHCR order concerned a West Side apartment that a new tenant moved into
last year at $1,750 a month. The previous tenant’s rent had been $860. DHCR
said they let the landlord double the rent because he had proved he spent
over $30,000 in improvements in the apartment’s kitchen.

The new tenant complained of an overcharge and showed that the landlord was
not entitled to any increase for improvements because the kitchen had been
entirely renovated for the prior tenant in 1991. He submitted pictures
taken before he moved in, affidavits from the previous tenant and a
neighbor, an evaluation of the landlord’s claims by an outside contractor,
and extensive argument that the landlord’s claims and evidence were
inconsistent, contradictory, and inadequate.

The tenant argued that the law and the code both prohibit landlords from
increasing the rent based on further improvements made during the “useful
life” of the prior improvements. DHCR has adopted a “useful life” schedule
that assigns specific years to dozens of improvements and replacements. The
schedule is intended to be applied to both major capital improvements and
individual apartment improvements, but is largely ignored.

The purpose of the “useful life” schedule is to prevent landlords from
replacing recently installed equipment just to hike the rent. Many
landlords routinely install new appliances like refrigerators every time an
apartment becomes vacant, and store the barely-used ones in the basement to
give to long-term tenants when their appliances break down. That practice
guarantees that the landlord can get multiple rent increases on the items
he buys without regard to any “useful life” standard. (And the city Rent
Guidelines Board often uses the increased costs of appliances to justify
increasing the rent guidelines.)

In denying the tenant’s complaint, DHCR found that the “useful life” of
prior improvements could not be considered “due to the four-year
limitation.” The 1997 rent law bars DHCR from looking at rent history from
more than four years before the filing of a complaint.

This decision represents an addition to the DHCR’s longstanding practice of
rubber-stamping any claims landlords submit of improvements justifying rent
increases, without regard to how flimsy the evidence. It simply abrogated
the “useful life” standard. Like Alice in Wonderland, it said that a
“useful life” schedule no longer exists because they can’t look back more
than four years. It applied the four-year rule even though there was no
need to look at the rent history prior to four years.

The tenant has filed an extensively detailed appeal.



Note: While not a tenant issue, we are supportive of the efforts of garden
activists to maintain and promote NYC green spaces. What ties gardens to
housing is the Giuliani's continuing efforts, and the media's continuing
reporting, that the destruction on gardens is "necessary" for affordable
housing (most of the land sales go to cronies of the Mayor).

>From the Garden Coalition:

The planned destruction of 129th street garden this past thursday (HPD
Press Release stated "the property will be cleaned and graded") has kept
things hopping. Interestingly enough, with a garden funeral rites attended
by over 30 people at 7am, the bulldozers did not arrive at their appointed
hour.  However, HPD has informed us that almost 30 garden in harlem will be
bulldozed ("cleaned & graded")
in the short term future. Things here have been extremely busy.

The 750 Community Gardens constitute a "third" community managed and
maintained Botanical Garden, at almost no cost to NY City. All across the
United States, community gardens are nourished by municipal
governments who recognize the numerous benefits of community volunteer
designed and maintained Gardens provide: Fresh Air, Educational
opportunities, Safety, Community Cohesion, Recreation, Crime Prevention, A
healthier environment for all, Increased property values (and tax
receipts). Now is our chance to rethink our urban environment for the 21st

The following resolution was passed by the Manhattan Neighborhood Council.
Readers are urged to take this to their local Community Boards, tenant,
block, neighborhood and civic groups and ask them to pass this or a similar
resolution. Please send them to the Mayor, City Council, specifically City
Council Speaker Peter Vallone, June Eisland, and Wendell Foster. On the
statewide level, downstate Senators and Assemblymembers:


We call on New York City to preserve and protect for future generations,
through the creation of the Community Garden (Land) Trust, the over 200
acres of open space in over 750 community gardens. These gardens are less
than 10% of the City’s inventory of over 11,000 vacant city-owned lots and
hundreds of abandoned buildings.  Community Gardens are created by the
community volunteers who donate thousands of hours to make their
neighborhoods a cleaner, safer, more beautiful space.

We urge the City to refer to the community gardens by name, rather than by
block and lot number, as is currently the case.

We call on the City Council Parks Committee and City Council to pass
Resolution 377, which currently is in front of the Parks Committee. This
Resolution call for "the appropriate committee of the City Council of New
York to hold hearings on the transfer of the Greenthumb community gardens
from the Parks Dept. to HPD's Assets and Sales Unit, and further, calling
upon the City to maintain and expand the community garden program based on
its significant contribution to the revitalization and quality of life of
New York City"

We oppose any transfer of any City-owned gardens to NYC Economic
Development Corporation for an accelerated sale.

We urge the creation of new, permanent community gardens (to also be
included under the Community Garden Trust) in response to the nation’s
highest asthma rates and the City’s perennial failure to meet Federal Air
Quality regulations.

We urge the City to analyze existing infrastructure including open space,
before the decision is made to build additional housing on any currently
open space or "vacant" land which currently houses a garden.


From: "Jackie Bukowski" , Attorney for Dome Garden

The Dome garden was razed in May of 1994 in full bloom. HPD and NYCHA City
officials came in City cars, cheering and applauding as Irises, Cherry
trees, Peonies and other late spring flowers were mowed down by bulldozers.
Hundreds of children who had used the garden for school projects watched,
crying. In our lawsuit, an article 78 we had several causes of action, the
best: that the City cannot take "dedicated park land" for low income
housing, was specifically enacted under state law. The bypass of ULURP is
provided under the City Charter. The then Boro President Ruth Messinger,
indicated 13 other sites where the facility could have been placed, but the
City rejected them all, preferring to rip out a Garden.   Hon. Beverly
Cohen, J.S.C. found that affordable housing is more important than Gardens.
The garden was destroyed when a TRO from the App. Div. First Dept was
dissolved. Was it worth it? Well, we did win a substitute garden at 85th
and Amsterdam Ave. A sad reflection of the original, it preserves tiny
space for a garden designed by unimaginative City HPD employees, at the
cost of part of Brandeis HS's playground. Maybe with a different judge this
kind of case could have won. 

The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
  NYtenants(tm) 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, 17 Nov 1998 13:45:38 -0500
Subject: Judge Backs Law Requiring Rent Deposits in Evictions

Judge Backs Law Requiring Rent Deposits in Evictions
New York Times, November 17, 1998

In a decision prompting both landlords and tenants to claim at least
partial victory, a state judge has upheld a New York State law requiring
rent deposits from tenants fighting eviction, but he ruled that the law
could be challenged case by case.

The statute requires tenants to deposit their rent into an escrow account
while they are contesting eviction proceedings. It was one of the most
bitterly contested provisions passed by the Legislature in June 1997 when
it voted to retain the state's rent-regulation system.

The rent-deposit statute had been challenged by tenants' groups that
contended that it violated the principle of separation of powers because,
they argued, in passing it, the Legislature was dictating to the judicial

In his decision, filed last Thursday, Justice Edward H. Lehner of State
Supreme Court in Manhattan, wrote, "The statutes challenged are not
unconstitutional on their face, although they may under certain
circumstances be applied so as to deprive a tenant of constitutional
rights, the determination with respect to which will be made on an
individual case basis."

The rent-deposit statute altered procedures in Housing Court that landlords
had long contended allowed deadbeat tenants to use the system to avoid
paying rent, but that tenants' lawyers said were necessary to give poor
people the chance to fight abusive landlords. About 300,000 tenants in New
York City receive eviction papers each year and 25,000 are eventually evicted.

Two provisions of the law were challenged by the tenants in a case called
Lang v. Pataki. One provision prohibits judges from granting an adjournment
in an eviction case without requiring a rent deposit. The second prohibits
judges from staying an eviction five days after a judgment has been entered
unless a rent deposit is made, a practice that judges formerly could
exercise at their discretion.

One of the most frequent reasons for such action arose when a tenant on
welfare had not received funds from the Department of Social Services with
which to pay rent.

Under the rent-deposit law, once an eviction proceeding is filed, the
tenant must pay the rent into an escrow account from that point until there
is a ruling.

While finding the statute constitutional, Justice Lehner also wrote that he
agreed, for example, that it "could not constitutionally be applied so as
to require a tenant to proceed at trial when he or she makes a showing that
it is reasonable for him or her not to be physically present in court due
to illness or other emergency such as a death or serious illness in the

"Therefore," he said, "since I find no other constitutional infirmity, I
find that the statute is constitutional on its face."

The tenants' groups were represented by South Brooklyn Legal Services, the
Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation and the Legal Aid Society. Scott
Rosenberg, director of litigation for Legal Aid, said that in his view
"tenants consider the decision an important victory because the court held
that the statute is unconstitutional in most of the situations that are
important to tenants, for example if the tenant is ill and unable to attend
court, or if a judgment has been entered against a tenant who is on
welfare, and there was a delay in obtaining money from the Department of
Social Services."

But Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, the
city's largest landlord group, said: "I think the decision is a clear
victory to our position that requiring tenants to deposit disputed rents is
constitutional and enforceable."

"Our attorneys acknowledged," Strasburg continued, "that there may be very
limited circumstances where the statute should not apply -- for example,
when the tenant is unavailable for health reasons or other exigent
circumstances -- but those are narrow in application, and anything that
does not fall within that small box is not a defense against depositing
their rent money into court."

Rosenberg, asked if the tenants would appeal, said no decision had been
made, "because in some ways we have gotten what we want."

The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
  NYtenants(tm) 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.


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