Tag Archives: David Weprin

Pols argue over whose co-op/condo legislation is best

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A coalition of co-op and condo owners in northeast Queens had one message for its elected officials after arguments erupted over whose bill was best: no more lip service.

“What you see is the dysfunction in Albany. This isn’t a Republican-Democrat issue. It’s about homeowners who don’t want to be pushed out of their homes,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village Owners, Inc. and cofounder of the President’s Co-op Council.

The Council — which represents about 100,000 co-op shareholders — joined close to one dozen elected officials and more than 900 concerned Queens residents at North Shore Towers on April 12 to rally for action against the city for another year of property tax spikes.

While Friedrich said a solution could not be reached without the cooperation of state lawmakers, some electeds — with pointed fingers — turned the meeting into a heated political debate.

“There’s been a little too much lip service tonight. I sat here and got madder and madder as I listened to every speaker,” said Senator Tony Avella. “We had an opportunity last year, and we blew it because of politics on both sides of the aisle.”

Currently, there are three bills on the table in Albany on how to address the issue, which Avella said is a clear sign of disconnect between state leaders who he said may each be pushing for their own legislation to pass.

“It’s not that the Republicans don’t want to move the bill to address this — it’s which bill should they support? Which one gets passed? This has to stop. I don’t care if it’s my bill or somebody else’s bill, but this has got to stop. We’re not working together,” he said.

Avella’s own bill, which he called the “best solution,” would create a new property tax class — called Class 1A — for co-op and condo owners. He said the bill would provide the same protections that exist for Class 1 properties, capping any single yearly tax increase at 6 percent and 20 percent over a five year period.

An earlier law put forth by Assemblymember David Weprin would propose similar provisions, classifying co-ops as Class 1 and capping increases at the same percentage, while other legislation by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblymember Ed Braunstein would see co-ops paying only 75 percent of their legal fees in a successful certiorari suit. They said the law would also stabilize assessments for two years following a successful challenge, capping spikes at 3 percent to prevent the necessity of an additional proceeding.

Councilmember Mark Weprin fired back, saying each elected official was in fact “working hard” together to create a solution by this year.

“With all due respect, you’re the one who hasn’t been to most of the meetings,” Weprin said. “This is a very delicate situation, but to say that people here are just giving lip service is just nonsense. This is not about whose bill we’re going to sponsor. We’re all trying to solve a problem here, and I think we’re all open to whatever solution we can get adopted that will save co-op owners. That’s the goal here, and that’s why I took a lot of offense.”

Senate and Assembly officials have only until the end of June this year to agree on one single bill and have it passed by both Houses, Weprin said. While the City Council is not directly involved in the legislation process, Weprin said councilmembers have an upper hand in trying to get the mayor on board.

“I’ve seen bills drafted, signed and passed in 12 hours. We just have to work together,” Weprin said. “I thought [the meeting] was a good case of democracy in action.”

Afternoon Roundup

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

A drug mule who said she was three months pregnant gave birth at Kennedy Airport — to a stash of heroin, authorities said. Read more: DailyNews

Citi Field revenues have dropped more than 30 percent since the New York Mets ballpark opened in 2009, and premium ticket sales are down by nearly 50 percent, according to financial records. Read more: NYPost

A Queens man was killed early this morning when he rear-ended a commercial truck in Springfield Gardens. Read more: NYPost

These photos won’t make the wedding album. A Queens couple claim a twisted wedding photographer Photoshopped the groom’s grinning head onto the body of a curvy blonde and pasted the bride’s beaming face atop a nearly naked woman, in a bizarre online smear campaign. Read more: NYPost

As fuel prices across the country continue to rise, two state lawmakers want consumers to be protected from price spikes at the gas pump. State Senator Eric Adams and State Assemblyman David Weprin introduced a bill this week that would require all gas stations to post signs with contact information for the State Consumer Protection Board. Read more: NY1

Assemblymembers address 111th Precinct

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

“For the first time in five years, people think that New York is headed in the right direction.”

That’s the word from Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, who spoke at the 111th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, October 4. Both Braunstein and Assemblymember David Weprin discussed various hot-button policy issues as well as bills they have passed, and are pushing to pass, in Albany.

Braunstein, a lifelong Bayside resident, called his first year in Albany and the overall political year a success.

He gave much of the credit to Governor Andrew Cuomo “who was very impressive in his performance” in his timely balancing of New York’s 10 billion dollar budget, although Braunstein did express disappointment that the millionaire’s tax will expire at the end of year.The tax, which he and other Democrats fought to renew, was blocked by both Governor Cuomo and Senate Republicans.

“Sometimes it takes courage to recognize you’re not in the majority and you have to compromise,” he said. “We acted like adults and passed Governor Cuomo’s budget.

Braunstein said we should see another heated battle next year in Albany over the tax

Another showdown which may soon occur involves the controversial drilling method called hydrofracking which uses water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas from rock.While both the governor and state legislators expect the hydrofracking plan to revive upstate New York’s struggling economy, many environmentalists are worried about its safety.

Braunstein believes the hydrofracking plan will pass and will include rules that “they don’t drill anywhere near New York City’s water supply.”

Some of the year’s successes cited by Braunstein include an ethics reform package and a ban on the sale of the Meth-like drug known as “bath salts.” He is also pushing legislation which would require state colleges to immediately notify authorities of on-campus felonies anda bill to cap property taxeson co-ops at six percent.

Weprin also declared his support of the millionaires’ tax noting that “anyone making over a million a year can afford to pay that extra 1 percent.”

Weprin discussed his bill which seeks to curb water rate hikes by restructuring New York City’s Water Board. The bill, if passed, would end mayoral control of the board.

“As you can imagine, the mayor opposes the bill,” he said.

Weprin also discussed his new proposal to outlaw smoking in cars occupied by passengers under the age of 16 and an “adoptee bill of rights” which would grant adoptees access to their birth certificates when they reach 18.

He concluded his talk by thanking the community for their support during his campaign for the 9th District’s Congressional seat which he lost to Republican Bob Turner by a narrow margin.“I just wanna thank everybody that wished me well,” Weprin said.

“It was about seven weeks, but it felt like seven years, he chuckled.

Both Braunstein and Weprin gave hearty thanks to the 111th Precinct for its responsiveness and active partnership building.

Turner ready to tackle the tough issues

| jlane@queenscourier.com


Newly-elected Congressmember Bob Turner beat the odds when he defeated David Weprin in the Special Election for Congressional District 9. Now the former businessman is getting to work in Washington, representing the people of Queens and Brooklyn.

During a brief respite from meetings and votes in the nation’s capital, Turner spoke with The Queens Courier about his new position and the hard work that stands ahead of him. He said he has dozens of pieces of legislation to examine, but most importantly he wants the people of his district represented competently.

“Among everything else, I’m busy putting together a staff and offices here in Washington. I also want to have a good constituent services operation in Brooklyn and Queens,” said the Republican who won the usually Democrat-heavy CD9. “It’s important to have people who can communicate with community leaders.”

Communication with the constituents is what got Turner into office in the first place. After former Congressmember Anthony Weiner’s public debacle, Turner dove into the race against a heavily-favored David Weprin – who was handpicked by Queens Democratic Chairman Joseph Crowley.

In an election stunner, Turner triumphed over Weprin by about 5,000 votes – enough to steal away a district that hasn’t seen a Republican representative since 1923. He did it with a mix of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, all turning out and voting in favor of the businessman. Turner attributes his improbable victory to the general public’s distaste with what he calls “politics as usual.”

“My message was largely that on jobs and the economy we are stalled, we are leaderless and the solutions continue to be political rhetoric and not concrete programs,” he said. “Everyone has had it with Congress and the [Obama] administration – they are getting most of the blame and rightly so.”

Turner’s condemnation of the Obama administration’s handling of everything from jobs to health care to Israel-Palestine relations has been well-documented. The representative-elect has even gone so far to say that the country is “on the wrong course.”

“Some of the things the president proposes in his jobs bill have the potential to stimulate employment, but it really just scraps the surface,” he said. “My approach is let’s get less government, less regulation and look to the private sector to help us out of this. The administration seems to be all about greater government involvement and greater spending – I don’t think people are buying that anymore.”

What he is offering, and what the people of CD9 voted in, is a different voice with an entirely different background.

“My approach is that of practical business solutions,” he said. “The voters were receptive to my message and I plan on carrying that out throughout my term.”