Comment Policy

All comments to posts have to await approval. Please be aware that, depending on when I'm logged onto the internet, it may take me hours, even longer, to moderate comments, so if they don't turn up in a speedy fashion, they are still in the queue. Comments that cross a line I'm not comfortable with will not get approved.

NOTE: Comments reflect the opinions of the person writing them and should not be assumed to reflect the opinion of the blog. Because of the anonymous nature of the commentary, specific agendas can be pushed by a sole individual and may not reflect a more popular belief by the residents of this community.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Case of the Missing Cabbages



There were thousands of them, all over Stuyvesant Town. Cabbages being planted either for their aesthetic value or for food for the Speyers when the economy really tanks and even the multi-millionaires will have to wait on the soup line.

A couple of weeks ago, Stuy Town workers were planting a nice cabbage patch covering the entire island area picture above, in front of the Community Center. One week they were there--all new plantings--and the next week they were gone!!!

Here today, gone tomorrow. But why?

There is no reasonable explanation for planting something one week and removing the plantings the next. Work hours, time, money, sweat wasted.

So, some "planner" screwed up, or else a new fact emerged about the cabbage patches. Perhaps it was found out that they are an excellent breeding ground and food source for vermin--like rats and mice. (I don't think we have any bunnies hopping around here in Stuy Town.)

There are still cabbage patches all around Stuy Town, but some have mysteriously disappeared after being newly planted. The people have a right to know why! At least for a good laugh at management and confirmation that these chumps have little idea what they are doing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tenants Association Problems

The Tenants Association message board has been down for maintenance (supposedly, that's the reason) for what seems three weeks. Initially there were promises of it being offline just for several days, but then the end day kept being progressively pushed back when the expectation never met the reality. It's still down, as of today.

I know some basics about message boards, but at this point I've no idea what is keeping that board offline for so long. It could very well be that one person is handling it all and doesn't have much time to spare to work on it. Or something else may be up.

Whatever the situation, the Tenants Association has been recently catching some flack from a small group of people over its perceived inactivity in the face of numerous concerns of the people who live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Knowing what I know about such matters, it is my educated guess that the persons doing the work at the Association are limited in their time to handle all the matters that are either placed before them or that they can see for themselves. Perhaps the Association needs something as simple as volunteers, so that the gears can move more quickly and expeditiously.

There are, however, some genuine communication and transparency problems that should be addressed. Though I belong to the Association, I don't have a grasp of how decisions in the organization are made and who makes them. When the Tenants Association has a meeting, it is usually with politicians, who listen and address tenants concerns. And nothing gets done. What the Tenants Association should have are periodic meetings (certainly once every three or four months) for just the tenants, in which problems are brought up and potential solutions and strategies discussed and some hopefully set in motion.

The idea of tenants picketing Stuy Town's leasing office is a good one, but there are no voices in a tenants group situation, or leaders, who can chart a course for something like that without there being some get-together of tenants as I've suggested above.

Some of the problems with the TA have to do with the transitory nature of a good number of tenants in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper. NYU students, for instance, could care less about what happens here in five years or in one year. I even wonder how many market rate tenants are sincere about living in this complex for its duration, or if they have a sense that they may be transitory, too, given how much they are at the mercy of the landlord regarding their rents.

TA meetings are chiefly attended by seniors, which is unfortunate. Not because these are seniors (seniors can give Tishman Speyer more fight and hell than the youngesters can), but because we need everyone at those meetings who can possibly make it. Perhaps many people don't come because they have surrendered to the feeling that nothing can be done and that no positive change can occur. Which is also unfortunate. Because I do believe that with numbers and with planning we can accomplish much to make Stuy Town and Peter Cooper a better community than it currently is and where Tishman Speyer wants to take it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tishman Speyer to Hit ST/PCV with Huge MCI for Plantings



No, I haven't heard anything official, but it is a certainty that Tishman Speyer will ask for a huge MCI for the plantings the company has been doing (and in many cases redoing) all year. This massive project involved at least 200,000 plants, 10,000 trees and more than 3,000 shrubs, and it is still continuing, with newer plants, trees and shrubs either replacing earlier plantings (some of which have died) or filling in areas that lack such greenery. According to MCI law, TS cannot ask for such a MCI unless it is combined with considerable repaving work--and, of course, we know that's been happening all summer, and now fall, long. While a MCI cannot raise rents of rent-stabilized tenants more by 6% per year, it can, if large enough, be spread over several years. So RS Stuy Town/Peter Cooper residents can look forward to an 18% increase in their rent, if this MCI is allowed to happen. Market-rate tenants are not safe from an increase, either, as surely Tishman Speyer will raise the rent on market-raters, justifying such an increase by the "renovations" it has done to the complex. Tishman Speyer will also use tales of property owner woe in these troubling economic times to try to rationalize even further that the huge MCI increase needs to happen to save their investment (actually, the investment of other people's money, but that's another issue).

The Tenants Association and tenants need to coalesce and fight this MCI request when it happens. These plantings were not necessary. In many cases, they were wrongly done and money was wasted (and still is) trying to correct mistakes. In other cases, older groundskeeping was purposefully let go to waste, so that an "improvement" would be mandated. (Case in point: the Oval area, which was beautiful when Met Life left, but deteriorated badly under TS management.) In many areas, pavings of roads and pathways also were not necessary, or if they were, they followed fairly recent previous pavings that were sloppily or inadequately done. Tenants should not have to pay for the bad work done by firms hired by the landlord.

The joke is that not long ago previous landlord Met Life decided to cut down trees in order to "open up the oval for a more expansive view." You can read about this project here. So continues the bizarre planning at Stuy Town/Peter Cooper. One project accomplishes one thing, the next project overrides that project, then a new project destroys that project, and on and on it goes. The only thing that is a constant is that the tenants suffer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Democrats to Control State Senate - What We Must Do


A face you can trust? State Senator Tom Duane (D).
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The election is over. Next year the Democrats will control the State Senate. According to the frequent pronouncements from State Senator Tom Duane (who at tenant meetings would repeatedly raise his index finger--1--to state what was needed for Dem control of the Senate and salvation), this will mean that pro-tenant legislation will get passed and that we will have a tenant friendly Senate representing us. Stuy Town Reporter will try to stay positive for now, and take Duane and other Democrats at their word. But in order for them to be reminded of their promises, it's good to call or e-mail them every once in a while, beginning with now.

This is what we have been promised:

1) The repeal the Urstadt Law (which would place rent decisions back in the hands of the city, rather than the state)
2) A reversal of vacancy decontrol laws
3) The abolishment of MCIs that result in perpetual rent increases

In a Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village tenants' meeting on October 19, this was part of the exchange between tenants and Duane and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh:

Speaker #1: Senator Duane, how quickly will we see a repeal of the Urstadt Act?

Senator Duane: If Democrats succeed in winning the State Senate, it should happen in the first term.

Speaker #2: The law regarding MCIs (Major Capital Improvements) is flawed. There is a reverse incentive for doing things economically, because the more you spend on a project the more you can charge back to tenants. You could let a property run down completely and get an MCI to improve it and benefit from it. Also, regarding the rent exceeding $2,000 with a household income of $175,000; there have been contradictions. Please explain.

Duane: Up until now it has been slow going working with the DHCR [the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which handles MCIs] but the Democratic Minority has been working with Senate Majority members on trying to reform the regulations on MCIs. Let me say that with Democrats in the majority, we would have more influence with the Governor’s agencies because the Majority would be controlling their budgets.

Assemblyman Kavanagh: The household income has to be $175,000 for two consecutive years. With a strong Democratic Majority in the Senate, we expect to be able to change that. The cut off rent would be increased and the household income would be raised to around $325,000. There would also be a very strong bill to change MCIs from permanent to temporary.

These are the contact e-mails:

duane@senate.state.ny.us
KavanaghB@ assembly.state.ny.us

Getting pro-tenant legislation passed is imperative. Otherwise, the middle-class will be completely driven out of the city (certainly Manhattan), neighborhoods will disappear, and all we will be left with are sliver condos dotted on the ground floors with Starbucks, banks, and mega drug stores. Don't let this happen to our city!

Next year it will be imperative to also get rid of Mayor Bloomberg. Not only did the Mayor spit with complete disregard on democracy (along with 29 city council members), but he is pals with real estate developers, including Jerry and Rob Speyer, who are running Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village (into the ground). In fact, the New York real estate website, THE REAL DEAL, reported that Jerry Speyer is a "frequent advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg." No wonder Bloomberg took a drop-dead Stuy Town/Peter Cooper hands-off approach to the sale of this complex. As long as Bloomberg is in office, we will continue to be screwed as middle-class tenants. Get this lying and manipulative Boston-born and bred bum out of office!