Letters to the Editor

Renew and reform rent laws!

To The Editor:

While Republicans in the New York State Senate are dragging their feet, more than a million tenants living in rent-regulated housing throughout our city and state are sweating the approach of June 15 — the day when our rent protections expire, when landlords will jack up rents, and when middle- and low-income New Yorkers will be forced to leave their homes and communities. When hardworking, taxpaying families who maintain our great neighborhoods are squeezed out, communities fall apart.

The reality is that every day the Senate delays action, the affordable housing crisis in our city worsens. A recent study conducted by the Community Service Society of New York reveals that at least 10,000 rent-stabilized apartments are lost in the city each year. Through loopholes like vacancy decontrol — and absent oversight or verification — landlords are permanently removing units from rent regulation.

On April 11, the Assembly passed legislation to extend the rent laws, and to return to the rolls of rent-regulated housing, those apartments which were improperly removed. Our legislation would end vacancy decontrol, limit the rent increases landlords can impose after making capital improvements, and cut in half the percentage increase a landlord can charge after vacancy.

Last week, I stood with Governor Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Skelos to announce a historic agreement to cap property taxes. And now, just as important, we must stand together to expand and strengthen our rent laws, because at their core both of these issues are the same — keeping people in their homes and keeping rents affordable.

Governor Cuomo has publicly called upon the Legislature to extend and to enhance the rent laws. The clock is ticking, so I urge all New Yorkers to contact their state senators and demand that they take action to strengthen rent protections in New York State. There is simply no good reason to delay.

Sheldon Silver

Silver, the New York State Assembly speaker, represents the 64th Assembly District

Preservation priorities

To The Editor:

Re “Down and out on the Bowery” (Scoopy’s Notebook, May 26):

Picking up a copy of your newspaper today, I realized 35 Cooper Square was no more! How could this have been allowed to happen? Couldn’t the elegant 1825 building have been jacked up and moved? How about the two lots next to the Merchant’s House?

We have lost way too much in the East Village! The “Poe House,” two of the three All-Craft buildings on St. Mark’s, McGurk’s Saloon at 295 Bowery — which still doesn’t even have a plaque on the site! No one would even know that it had once stood there!

We were so busy “saving” the Meat Market District — and I still can’t figure out why. There’s no prominent architecture or historically important buildings there! In the meantime we lost much in the East Village! Let’s make 35 Cooper Square be a wake-up call!

John Heliker

The cost of wars

To The Editor:

I am the mother of a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the wake of Memorial Day, I wanted to tell you of hundreds of thousands of casualties from the wars, invisible wounds from post-traumatic stress disorder. At Fort Hood (a major feeder of troops cycled in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq) the staff predicts the problem will worsen with the continued wars.

At Fort Hood psychological counselors meet with 4,000 patients every month. The base counseling services are overwhelmed and many soldiers are referred off base.

In 2009, more than 7,000 Fort Hood soldiers were on antidepressant or antipsychotic medications.

As of last fall, there was only one social worker available at all of Fort Hood to handle cases of military sexual trauma.

When will we stop funding these wars, choosing instead to feed the 13 million American kids going to bed hungry?

Lionelle Hamanaka

Stop provoking smokers

To The Editor:

Re “Smokin’ Memorial Day” (Scoopy’s Notebook, June 2):

I was sitting off to the side with the other subversives and not bothering anyone. I’m usually very conscientious of other people’s feelings and concerns, overly polite, in fact.

It’s just so gross that every media outlet and newspaper has reporters going out and literally blowing smoke in people’s faces to get a story. What’s next? Stories where writers just start stabbing random people with a kitchen knife?

Some people do things in public parks and on beaches that cause me severe headaches. Let’s outlaw that first, O.K.? People don’t need another thing to fight about. Walk away. Stop stirring up trouble. Or else.

Dottie Wilson

It’s petition time again

To The Editor:

In order for a candidate to appear on the ballot for the September primary and/or November general election, such candidate must file designating party petitions containing signatures of voters with the New York City Board of Elections.

The petitioning period starts this week and continues until after July 4. The green-colored petitions signify Democratic candidates.

If a person stops you and asks you if you are a registered Democrat, and if so, to please sign the petition, that person is not prying — this is the election law in New York State. Your signature allows the candidate to run — it does not mean that you are supporting or voting for the individual or individuals at the election. Petitioning is a slow, tedious process and provides a way for the candidate to initially connect with you, the voter.

Please join in and help the electoral process. It just takes a moment to sign and is a first step for the candidates to qualify for a place on the ballot.

This year you will see petitions for Civil Court judges, district leaders, County Committee and judicial delegates and alternates. We look forward to seeing many of you during the next several weeks. Please stop and sign our petitions.

Louise Dankberg and Steven Smollens

Dankberg and Smollens are Democratic district leaders, 74th Assembly District, Part C, and members, Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club

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