"No I haven't and no, I won't," was Christine Quinn's response to a question posed in 1998 at a neighborhood debate when she was first running for the council seat she still holds. The question from a local tenant to the candidates was, "has anyone taken any campaign contributions from developers (corrected to include landlords and real estate organizations), and would you do so in the future?"
As most voters know now, Quinn broke that promise early on, and she has amassed one of the largest landlord-developer funded campaign war chests in the city's history. To say she is owned by landlords and developers is an understatement. She is their biggest cheerleader, and because of that Christine Quinn is the singular force in NYC, along with Mike Bloomberg, in large-scale evictions and displacement.
The money came in droves because she made it clear to landlords and developers she would do Bloomberg's bidding when it came to rezonings, large-scale developments and favors for developers.
Her friends include Extell, Two Trees, Vornado and Related Companies, and many others. Look at Hudson Yards, Atlantic Yards, the NYU and Columbia expansions, 125th Street, Willets Point and many, many other projects pushed by Bloomberg and Quinn. In each case, her landlord friends benefit enormously. Tenants and neighborhoods are hurt, and in some cases, irreparably.
When looking at dangers to tenants and their rights, the conventional wisdom is that the rent laws (rent stabilization and rent control) must be maintained, strengthened and enforced.
That's true to a degree. But the greater danger has to do with uncontrolled over-development, gentrification, secondary displacement, neighborhood destabilization, loss of local small-scale retail shops and so on. Indeed, all these forces work in conjunction with weakened rent laws. While the state legislature and Governor can control the rent laws, it's the city government -- the Mayor and City Council -- that create and exacerbate the real estate environment. The rent laws are essentially useless if not enforced and if the demand for building new office towers and luxury housing creates the political will to move people out of the way.
And for the most part Democrats are experts at creating the illusion of protecting tenants while doing everything in their power to push neighborhood-killing overdevelopment.
In our view, Christine Quinn must be denied the mayoralty and voted out of office. That has to be the number one priority. While recent polls are showing her slipping to third place, the electorate is volatile and a larger-than-normal percentage of voters are still undecided. Quinn could still end up number two with a runoff in three weeks if no candidate gets more than 40% in the September 10th primary. In that scenario, she could win the runoff and the general election in November (remember how Freddy Ferrer lost the 2001 election). So this is the one chance to send her packing.
Of the seven Democratic candidates for mayor, the also-rans include Anthony Weiner, John Liu, Sal Albanese and Erick Salgado. They are polling in the single digits and realistically have no chance of winning no matter what their merits. That leaves Bill de Blasio, Bill Thompson and Christine Quinn.
Although Quinn is down in the polls, she's not dead yet. At all costs, we recommend tenants should not vote for Quinn. She claims to be a tenant activist. It's simply not true.
Fifteen years ago, she did have tenant credibility, but she lost that when she started supporting landlords and developers. She points to the Harassment Law she helped to pass. Yet that law is watered-down and completely ineffective. Tenant activists know this and Tenant Lawyers avoid using it. The same can be said for Quinn's Underlying Conditions law, supposedly that would force landlords to make repairs. The law did nothing more than what the city already had on the books: a complete sham. Almost everything Quinn undertook in the last fifteen years had been pandering.
Having known Quinn for many years, we can say she has poor character, is a bully and an opportunist. We raised questions about her as far back as 2001 when we caught her taking money under the table from a developer who wanted to put up a 62-story luxury tower, while at the same time telling community residents she was fighting to reduce the size. See http://tenant.net/pipermail/hkonline/2001-November/000325.html. When denied she took the money, but later admitted to it as it was public record.
In 2004 we raised questions about her support for Bloomberg's West Side plans, which included the stadium for the New York Jets plus a 60-block area Bloomberg wanted to bulldoze so his developer friends could build luxury coops and condos. Quinn was in full support of that. See http://tenant.net/pipermail/nytenants-online/2004-November/000272.html
In 2006, after Quinn pushed through a new Yankee Stadium over local community opposition, a local blogger and author told us, "Every mean word you ever said about Chris Quinn, you were dead right."
Of course many of you are familiar with what Quinn did to give herself and Bloomberg a third term. And we know how she colluded with the Rudin Family developers to close and tear down St. Vincent's hospital in the West Village, leaving the lower West Side without a hospital.
Not so many know how Quinn allowed Bloomberg to dump poorly managed homeless shelters in residential neighborhoods and left the communities to rot. See http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/crime-sq-hell-hotel-article-1.252553 In that case, Quinn went so far as to create a fake Block Association to hide her support of Bloomberg's agenda.
And if you have been a constituent of Quinn's in the last fifteen years, prepare to be ignored. Calls to her office for help on almost any subject are routinely ignored. She's too busy having her office staff work on her campaign. See http://www.christinequinn.com/content/quinn-uses-city-employees-her-camp...
Yes, Christine Quinn knows how to get things done ... she gets things done for landlords.
Voters need to make sure Quinn comes in third, or less. With the recent polls, many think that Bill de Blasio has the Primary in the bag and that Quinn has been virtually eliminated. Don't believe the hype. She still has a lot of money, she has strong union support with a strong "Get-Out-The-Vote" (GOTV) effort, and a lot of deluded interns.
Who are we recommending? That's the hard part. In the last week a lot has come out about Bill de Blasio's connections to landlords and developers. Some of those news articles came from the Quinn campaign's push-back to de Blasio having taking the lead in polling. But a fair number of those reports have enough truth in them that we are concerned about his candidacy. See http://bill-de-blasio-sold-out.blogspot.com/ as a blog just beginning to expose de Blasio.
Here are some other articles:
While this seems a lot, consider that this all comes at once after the polls switched in his favor. Even with all this, Quinn is the larger criminal in our view. She has taken more landlord money, pushed through more bad development and helped more landlords. De Blasio should not get a pass, but Quinn is by far worse.
Finally, de Blasio is a big supporter of Inclusionary Zoning (IZ). While sounding nice, warm and cuddly, IZ is a zoning device that has similar impact to 80/20 towers, which result in only a small number of real affordable units and gives large rewards to developers. It's a scam to make the voters think these Democrats are really in favor of "affordable housing."
And although not vetted as much, Bill Thompson has supporters we would not relish (former Senator Alphonse D'Amato) and has his own ties to real estate.
The deal is that in the Democratic Primary, you have seven choices. Do not pick Quinn by any means. The also-rans have no chance in hell. So that leaves de Blasio or Thompson. We can't make an endorsement per se, but we would suggest a vote for one of them would help to keep Quinn out. And if Bill or Bill becomes Mayor, then tenants will have to fight hard to make sure they do something to stop Bloomberg's policies, not just talk about it.
We had hoped to write about other races as well, but time is short. Here's the short versions:
Comptroller: Spitzer over Stringer. Stringer is too much like Quinn and is just waiting until he can run for mayor in eight years. As Borough President he corrupted the Community Boards even more than Virginia Fields ever did, and he - like Quinn - pushed through almost every bad development. For the real Stringer, see this: http://www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/parkhouse.html
Public Advocate: no endorsement. We're still not impressed with Dan Squadron, and Letitia James, while a strong opponent of Atlantic Yards, went along with the Bloomberg agenda elsewhere. More so, she comes out of the Working Families Party, which itself gives cover to bad Democrats.
Manhattan Borough President: all four candidates are disappointments. Of the four, Gale Brewer is the less objectionable, but even her office has been poorly run.
Queens Borough President: Anyone except Melinda Katz. As chair of the Land Use Committee in City Council, Katz was too much like Quinn and Bloomberg. Bad news for Queens.
Third District (Lower West Side Manhattan): Yetta Kurland over Corey Johnson. We have many concerns over Kurland. But Johnson was part of a team trying to evict tenants from an entire building and has repeatedly lied about that history. See http://therealcoreyjohnson.blogspot.com/ for more information about the real Corey Johnson. He's Christine Quinn's mini-me.
Sixth District (Upper West Side): Six candidates. Stay away from Marc Landis. See http://citycouncilwatch.net/blog/2013/8/29/a-fierce-battle-on-the-uws-wh...
We don't have a strong opinion on the other candidates. Either Mel Wymore or Helen Rosenthal would be good choices (the latter because Bruno forced our arm).