Friday, April 19, 2013

New York City Councilman Dan Garodnik doesn’t seem to care. Not for an unfair glitch in tax laws that screws middle class homeowners. Not for non-profits. Not for anything of consequence.

I’ve made it a practice since I began writing this blog not to bother with political smallfry. I’ve had my say about a president or two. I’ve taken on the Mayor of New York several times. But an inconsequential member of the New York City Council?

Well this time, yeah. And maybe more like this in the future now that I’ve started. Because ultimately, a certain number of crummy councilmen become crummy congressmen, crummy senators, or crummy mayoral candidates. Best to try nipping them in the bud. So first off, a note to Garodnik’s colleagues. If I come after you, it’s because Dan Garodnik inspired it.

What started this all, more than a month ago, was a three-part e-mail to Gorodnik. The most important part had to do with a messed up revision of the city’s real estate tax laws, which left the middle class holding the bag for the very rich. I wrote:

I was surprised and annoyed to learn that tax abatements will be discontinued for New York cooperative apartment shareholders who are not using their apartments as their primary residences. 

While my own apartment is my primary (and only) residence, the building I live in is full of small studio apartments. Since studios are not appropriate for families or most couples, the only way to create a market for these apartments is to allow parents to purchase them for occupancy by their children, or for "grownups" to use these as pied-a-terres. 

The problem is, like most New York co-ops, our middle-class building takes the rebates and applies them to our operating budget. When you exclude parent owners and pied-a-terres, you in effect reduce the rebate that all of us are enjoying in the form of lower maintenance, through application of the rebates to our building's operating budget. 

I've previously lived in Park Avenue co-ops where there were no pied-a-terres or parent purchasers. Those far wealthier buildings will continue to enjoy full rebates while buildings like mine, with smaller, less-expensive apartments will not. 

So congratulations – the City Council has just joined the far right wing screw-the-middle-class movement. I wonder whether you can tell me if any member of the city council even considered this possibility when you were re-engineering the tax rebate program?

As I’ve already suggested, Gorodnik is very small potatoes. The heroic-looking photograph above, pirated from his website, shows him fearlessly daring to stand up and challenge one of the world’s most powerful and dangerous threats to western civilization, if not to all humanity: confusing parking signs in New York.

To be fair, he has also mounted a challenge to something that actually matters – the nasty habit employers have of running credit checks on job applicants. But from the floor of the City Council chamber here, his effort to ban credit checks on job applicants stands about as much chance of having a real impact on corporate hiring practices as a pea shooter aimed at Mars has at kicking up a dust storm.

As for the real concerns of Dan Garodnik’s constituents? Well don’t count on him caring. The other day, I sent an e-mail to his press aide. Or at least to person listed on his website as “press secretary,” one David Kimball-Stanley. I said in an e-mail: 

Dear Mr. Kimball-Stanley,

A month and a day ago, I wrote to Councilman Garodnik via his website about three matters:

• Why he doesn't publish his own e-mail address on his website (although he publishes a link to yours), forcing people who wish to write to him to use a website form, creating more complexity than necessary.

• A complaint on how the elimination of tax rebates for co-op apartments used as pieds-a-terre or bought by parents for their children penalized not only those tenant-shareholders, but also others in the same building.

• An appeal on behalf of a nonprofit, volunteer organization, Big Apple Greeter, detailing what the release of $5,000 in discretionary funding to this organization could do economically for the city and for Councilman Garodnik's own district. 

Again, that was a month and a day ago. I have received no response. I saved the text of my note to Councilman Garodnik… And as you can see, I wrote, "I would be very much interested in your response to each of the matters mentioned above, and would consider publishing your responses (or lack of them) on my blog,, which  has had, as of this writing, 166,799 readers since I began publishing it."

I'm on the verge of doing just what I said I'd do. If you, as the councilman's press officer, or the councilman himself, can get back to me by noon tomorrow with either Councilman Garodnik's response or an explanation as to why he hasn't responded in the past month, I would appreciate that. Otherwise I will feel free to write an article featuring Councilman Garodnik's unresponsiveness in the unabashedly blunt manner that befits a blog called The New York Crank.

Not that I need to remind you, but the Internet is forever.

I had hoped that a press secretary, accustomed to responding on a dime to people covering breaking news, or at least accustomed to doing so when he feels like it, would get back to his boss’s constituent, who hadn’t received a reply in a month and a day.

Silly me. If the Councilman doesn’t give enough of a damn about an economic injustice, or about a nonprofit organization that’s doing good for his city, or about the difficulty his constituents have sending him an e-mail, why should the man’s press secretary give a damn either?

From where I sit, it looks to me like the Councilman rises only to those occasions that might generate some favorable publicity for him, such as girding his loins and wading into pitched battle against those confusing parking signs.

But if one of the eighty-year old widows in my building is overpaying on her rent because a revision in the tax law takes money away from her and in effect hands it over to a Park Avenue hedge fund billionaire, she can go rot. And if you want to write to him about it, lotsa luck finding his e-mail address.

This guy needs to get voted out of office and sent back to a law firm where he can go chase some ambulances.

1 comment:

Suzan said...

Go get 'em!

Drive the swine out before they become huge porkers.