Friday, October 23, 2009

The Flacks Report [24 Oct. '09]

A.C.P. IV to run for Rangel's Seat?---Stuy Town Victory---Globerman Retires---N.Y. County Surrogate Up-date---One Day in the Life in Court on Election Day

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A.C.P. IV to Run for Rangel's Seat?

Adam Clayton Powell IV To Open Exploratory Committee For Rangel’s Seat
City Hall News . . .Thursday, October 15, 2009

By Andrew Hawkins

Harlem Assembly Member Adam Clayton Powell IV is planning to open an exploratory committee “in a week or two” to test the waters for a possible run against embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, Powell told City Hall. “A lot of people have been talking to me for a few weeks,” Powell said. “It’s no secret that I’ve always been interested.”

Powell first ran against Rangel in 1994, hoping to reclaim the seat his father, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., had held for decades before losing to Rangel in 1970. The younger Powell, who launched his last bid while a member of the Council, raised money for a possible run against Rangel in 2004, but never pulled the trigger. The news that Powell is mulling a run against Rangel comes on the heels of bank manager Vince Morgan’s announcement of his own plans to run in next year’s primary for the Harlem seat.

Powell has had a checkered political career. The scion of one of New York’s most prominent political families, Powell was accused of rape by two women in 2004, but never formally charged. In 2008, after being pulled over for drunk driving on the West Side Highway, officers discovered a passed out woman in Powell’s backseat. His poor attendance record in the Assembly and meager legislative output has earned him derision from some of his colleagues, who accuse him of being an indifferent politician.

But Powell is well-loved in his district and, in a neighborhood where one of the main boulevards is named for his father, enjoys stratospheric name recognition. “I believe I would make a formidable candidate,” Powell said. “I’m only in my 40s. Forty-seven-years-old. Because you need someone who can stay there—assuming the voters will continue to re-elect them—that can stay there for 20 years to gain seniority, like my father, who was a congressman, and like Charlie Rangel has been able to do.”

Powell said he is more motivated by Rangel’s advancing age (he turned 79 in June), rather than the recent controversy surrounding the congressman’s personal finances. The House voted last week to allow Rangel to keep his powerful Ways and Means Committee chairmanship, despite heavy pressure from Republicans that he relinquish the leadership post. A wide-ranging ethics investigation is still ongoing. Whether Rangel succumbs to mounting scrutiny, or decides that he is ready to retire, Powell said that competition for his seat will be intense.

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Stuy Town Victory

The N.Y.S. Court of Appeals ruled on 22 Oct. '09 in favor of the Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town tenants that their landlord cannot deregulate their rent-stabilized rents if the landlord is accepting tax benefits.

The owners, Tishman Speyer and Met Life, had illegally raised rents by mis-interpreting D.H.C.R. regulations. The Court said that rent-regulated apartments couldn’t be subjected to luxury decontrol while at the same time the landlords benefited from public J-51 tax benefits from the City. The divided Court decided on interpretation of State rent regulations and the legislative intent, going back to a 1974 floor debate in the State Senate.

This could have a wide-ranging effect in that any landlord benefiting from J-51 who had decontrolled rent-regulated apartments under luxury decontrol may possibly have to reimburse over-charges to tenants paying market-rate rents.

It is important to read the entire decision, which you may link to here. It is expected that there will be further litigation.
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Globerman Retires

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Ira Globerman has retired before the expiration of his term, creating a County-wide vacancy for his N.Y.C. Manhattan Civil Court seat. His last day on the bench was Friday, 23 October 2009, and will be officially out of the State system on the 29th.

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N.Y. County Surrogate Up-date

Trial Judge Michael Obus adjourned for a week, until 30th October, his decision on Nora Anderson and Seth Rubenstein's motion to dismiss.

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One Day in the Life in Court on Election Day

Your correspondent spent Primary Election day (15 Sept. '09) and the Run-off Primary Election day (29 Sept. '09) observing the public proceedings at the State Supreme Court Special Term held in and for the County of New York at the Manhattan Borough office of the N.Y.C. Board of Elections, 200 Varick Street.

On Primary day, Justices Michael Stallman and Emily Jane Goodman had but three applications for a court order to be allowed to vote: one because of a machine malfunction, one because of a "voter malfunction," and one which was denied because the voter wasn't registered. On the run-off Primary day, no-one appeared before Justice Matthew Cooper.

Each election day saw a judge, his/her court clerk, court officers, a City police officer, special referee, and court stenographers present. That's the cost of democracy.

[There was also an auxiliary branch of Special Term at the Harlem State Office building on W. 125th Street, where Justice Milton Tingling sat both days. The day after each election I asked him how many voters appeared in his court, but he couldn't recall.]

Special Term at 200 Varick Street was held in a dingy room with peeling paint and broken furniture. The Board of Elections didn't provide the court personnel with a computer or a telephone. At one point a senior Board employee tried to "evict" the Justice from her table ("bench") because he wanted to use the table, but was stopped from doing so.

But what was all the more outrageous, voters who would come to Special Term there had to pass through building security which required the voter to sign in, show a "valid" picture identification card, and be photographed (which would be kept on file). No such indignity befalls people who go into State Supreme Court buildings at 60 Centre Street or elsewhere (although entrants are required to pass through magnetometers). This recalls South Africa during apartheid days.


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