Tag Archives: New York

Voting on the Working Family Party Ballot Line

New Orleans      New Yorkers are lucky.  Not only do they get to vote with relatively little hassle, but they get to send important messages to politicians about where they stand by voting on unique ballot lines that identify their politics not in broad strokes, but along sharp edges.  Why? Because New York State remains one of the handful in the United States that allows multi-party fusion, even if the established party duopoly hates the practice.

This isn’t hard.  Multi-party fusion means that different political parties, with the concurrence of the candidates, can support the same candidates on their ballot line in an election.  The term “fusion” has become somewhat archaic, as the major parties have pulled their wagons in a circle over the last 125 years to exclude other parties, but simply put to fuse means they come together in agreement.  A dictionary perfectly explains that the synonyms of the verb “fuse” are “associate, coalesce, combine, conjoin, conjugate, connect, join, link, marry, unify, unite…” and so forth.  How wonderful for us to be able to fuse, and how frightening we have found it is for others.

Certainly, ACORN thought it was a great idea and along with the Communication Workers of America and New York Citizen Action joined with Dan Cantor as executive director to form the Working Families Party in New York in 1998.  The WFP has since then hewn to a progressive path in local races and in political positions with grit and conviction, meaning that the party has attracted steadfast friends and supporters and determined enemies, including Governor Andrew Cuomo.  They had the temerity to take a principled stand about the governor’s détente and tacit support for the Republicans controlling the legislature and endorsed his opponent in the last race.  He paid them back by winking and nodding to Democratic party officials and their friends in a hand-picked commission to make it harder to maintain a ballot line, hoping to knock them off the list, and be rid of this avenue for pesky progressives to pressure him to move his program forward.

The test they face this November is straightforward.  The WFP must get 2% or 130,000 votes, whichever is higher, polled on its ballot line for Biden and Harris or we lose our automatic ballot line for the next several years.  As I said, New Yorkers are lucky.  They can have their cake and eat it, too.  They can have their vote counted for Biden-Harris, and at the same time wave their progressive colors.  A lot of us will be pulling the Democratic lever this fall wishing we weren’t offering carte blanche to some uncomfortable positions, but not New Yorkers.

Sadly, the WFP is having to spend time and money and call in chits from Senator Chuck Schumer, Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, and other candidates where its line and energy has made a difference to make itself the issue, rather than its positions, so that the party can protect its line.  In this troubled time, New Yorkers are fortunate to have this chance to send a message on where they stand on the political spectrum.  It’s a contest, but I’m betting on the WFP once again to be able to take this threat and turn it into an opportunity to build its base and electorate.   Now is the time for New Yorkers, near and far, to run up the score for the Working Families Party!

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Please enjoy No Justice by Blake Havard.

Thanks to WAMF.

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New Housing Law in New York Having Huge Impact on Tenant Evictions

New Orleans       The Wall Street Journal and its reporters must get a special thrill when they can score an exclusive on the New York Times on New York’s own turf.  I bet they didn’t even care when they went out to celebrate last week at their local watering hole that their billionaire owner, Rupert Murdoch, and all the landlords who read their paper were probably seething as they went line by line reading about the huge benefits the new housing law in New York State was having for tenants.  Their tenants are not big readers of the Journal, but even though they may not have seen the article, they still celebrated.  The difference was that they stayed home, rather than going out, because the big news was that they were not being evicted.

One of the most profound results of the new law has been the almost 50% drop in evictions being filed in New York City’s housing court.   The new law instructed landlords to wait fourteen days rather than three days before evicting for nonpayment or late payment.  According to the Journal’s review of the statistics for the New York City boroughs, “New eviction cases against city tenants for nonpayment of rent are down by more than 35,000 since the law was signed on June 14, compared with the same period in 2018, a drop of 46%….”  The new law also gave tenants more time to respond, all of which has seems to have slowed down the eviction happy landlords who assumed they could threaten someone with housing court and be done with it, and then raise the rents to escape rent control restricts.  Holdover cases on minor lease infraction claims are also reportedly down by 11% as landlords try to figure out how to get the upper hand again under this new 74-page law that closed many of the loopholes they had enjoyed in the past.

Some of the impact is more New York City than universal.  There have been huge increases in legal protection for tenants in the housing court under Mayor DeBlasio.  Admittedly these changes were enacted before the new law, but it has to be a factor in slowing them down now while they figure the angles.  Additionally, there is a “look back” provision on previous repairs and rent increases that is peculiar to NYC rent control that wouldn’t exist in other cities, preventing us from comparing every orange city to the Big Apple.

Nonetheless, the point is impossible to miss.  Making the law fairer and giving tenants real rights and protections does in fact slow evictions and protect affordable housing.  Preventing landlords from playing gotcha on the least little things and perp walking them into courts keeps tenants in their units and lets them work things out with their landlords.

It’s pretty clear already that cities and states in the US and abroad as well need to study the new law and see what they can put in place locally.  For sure tenants and our organizations are now going over it with a fine-toothed comb.

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