|Photo: JD Urban|
COPYRIGHT 2019 CAROLE OSTERINK
|Photo: JD Urban|
Assemblymember Didi Barrett announced that she helped pass the strongest rent regulation legislation ever in New York State, known as the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (A.8281). The historic legislation will empower tenants and expand affordable housing options across the state.
Among the important reforms passed today are new safeguards for tenants in manufactured home parks. This legislation limits rent increases to 3% per year in most cases, constricts landlords' ability to impose exorbitant fees and other charges, requires park owners to provide two years' notice and a $15,000 stipend if they intend to evict residents to re-purpose the property, and creating regulations for rent-to-own contracts.
"For many Hudson Valley communities, manufactured housing is the main source of affordable housing," Barrett said. "But far too often, these tenants face rent hikes, fees and problematic landlord practices that put their housing stability in jeopardy. This legislation provides some long-awaited reforms and finally gives tenants peace of mind so they can plan for the future."
For the first time in history, there will be expansive protections to tenants statewide. The legislation also extends the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 (ETPA) to any municipality with a rental vacancy rate of 5% or less that chooses to opt in to the rent regulation system.
"Every New Yorker should have a safe, affordable place to call home," Barrett said. "Yet, too many seniors and others struggle every day to find and stay in housing they can afford, often enduring mistreatment from landlords. This groundbreaking legislation will give upstate New York renters long overdue protections."
To protect tenants from unfair landlord practices, the legislation prohibits retaliatory eviction against tenants in buildings with four units or more who make a good faith complaint alleging uninhabitable conditions. Further, the bill reforms the eviction process by giving tenants 14 days to pay their rent before an action is brought, 10 days' notice for a court hearing and, if a warrant is issued, 14 days to leave the unit. The measure also gives judges greater leeway to stay eviction proceedings in cases where such action would cause undue hardship.
"No one should be kicked out of their home because of a late paycheck," Barrett said. "And when families are forced to move because of this, they're left to not only find a new home, but often a new school for their kids, new child care and possibly even a new job. This measure will help families avoid this stress by giving them time to pay their rent if an unexpected hardship arises."
In addition, the statewide protections also:
In the roughly 6 weeks since the president of the City Council tried to push me down the stairs during a break in a Council meeting, I’ve pretty much kept mum about the incident. It was reported by Roger Gilson in his blog (www.theotherhudsonvalley.com) who actually witnessed the last few seconds of the incident and subsequently picked up by the Register-Star and Gossips of Rivertown. Once the surveillance video was released by HPD to the public a few weeks later, I thought I’d be done answering questions (except from the police – that’s ongoing). But this morning 2 people raised it with me, asking questions about what happened and why. Perhaps the video, without context, requires explication. So here it is.
First, the short version: The president of the City Council resorted to political violence in the face of dissent and an observational insult resulting from his inability to look someone in the eye and repeat an insult he is only comfortable hurling at someone’s back.
And here it is in detail:
I attended a special meeting of the City Council on April 24 of this year at the library. I went and listened to the proceedings but didn’t attempt to participate. It was fractious and noisy, called to enable a second vote on a toothless resolution the earlier, identical iteration of which had previously been approved by the Council and then vetoed by the mayor. The meeting seemed to be spiraling out of control after about an hour when the president called a recess. I decided to take advantage of the break to leave and, as I did, I passed by a group of aldermen just outside the door of the meeting room. As I passed, I said something to the effect that “you should be ashamed of wasting time on such bullshit.” I may have said “fucking bullshit” – that sounds like me. I didn’t slow down, I didn’t think much of it, frankly; I didn’t say it angrily, just in passing. As I approached the top of the stairs and prepared to descend to the ground floor exit, I heard someone say “you should be ashamed of being a foul-mouthed motherfucker.” An elected official just cursed at me, a private citizen, for disagreeing with them?! I turned around and asked the aldermen, “did one of you just call me a motherfucker?” At that point, Tom DiPietro, the Council president, came forward and in a sort of soft-shoe-aw-shucks kind of way said, “I didn’t.” I asked him directly “Tom, did you just call me a motherfucker?” And he said “no, not in a public meeting,” as he sort of continued his weird shambling around the hall. I was thoroughly taken aback in a half amused, half freaked out way. All I could say, laughing in the face of such school-boy mendacity, was “you are a fucking pussy.” I might not have said “fucking” but I recall that I did – it sounds like me. And at that, I turned around and continued walking towards the top of the staircase. Now, from when I initially left the meeting room until I turned and walked away from Tom in the wake of his boorishness, my arms were folded across my chest under my jacket (it was warm in that meeting room). And it was at this precise moment, as I was about to step on the rubber runner that tops the stairs, that Tom chose to prove my observation correct: without saying a word, he ran at me, grabbed me by my shirt back with both his fists and proceeded to give me the bum’s rush towards the stairs. I was, of course, taken completely aback while deciding that going down the stairs like that – fast, headfirst and encumbered by my jacket – was likely to result in significant injury to my new glasses and probably me, too. Luckily, I was wearing my rubber-soled boots that day and they, combined with the rubber stairway runner, enabled me to stop moving forward. Tom then pulled me to my right and pushed me against the doorway in the wall that was now behind me. With his fists now grabbing the front of my shirt, Tom proceeded to snort and breath very heavily in my face (not pleasant) while forcing my back to the door. At this point, here’s what was going through my head: “don’t raise your hands, don’t raise your hands.” This took effort. But I did it. Frankly, by this time (5 seconds since he initially grabbed me?) he seemed to be loosing steam. Still making animal noises and still breathing on me (still unpleasant), but his enthusiasm was clearly waning. I asked him, “are you going to hit me now, Tom?” He didn’t cogently respond or hit me and, at that moment, his assembled colleagues, including Tiffany Garriga hopping on her 1 good leg, rushed over and pulled him off me. Free of Tom’s clutches and his miasmic cloud, I again headed to the stairs and this time successfully began descending though I did turn briefly to say “Tom, that’s not leadership and you’re still a pussy.” At that point, Alderman Mizan began hugging me around the waist though I think he believed he was holding me back from advancing on Tom which is silly on so many levels. (NB: Mr. Mizan is about half a foot shorter and maybe 75 pounds lighter than me and I, not a physically violent person to begin with, was half way down the stairs and walking away).
As Kurt Vonnegut might have said, there you have it. That’s what happened at the library.
I’ve read some commentators write nonsense such as “boys will be boys” regarding what Tom did. That may be true. It certainly was when I was a boy. But Tom’s not a boy, and neither am I. I used (and use) words to express ideas. That’s what adults do. Violence is atavistic and unacceptable, and political violence is independently and doubly unacceptable. Especially from a self-proclaimed “leader.” Perhaps some are ok with such behavior. I guess those are the folks who support Tom even in light of his behavior which, to me, disqualifies him from holding office. That’s because where I come from (i.e. America), it’s never OK to do what he did – in any context but especially in the political.
Here are some additional details that might provide richer context.
First, Tom and I are next-door neighbors. We don’t live down the street from each other. Not a few doors apart. Next. Door. For over 11 years. And for 11 years, 1 month and I guess a few days, I thought we were friends, or at least friendly. We’ve been to each other’s homes many times, shared meals, holiday meals, drinks, drunks, barbeques, the typical neighborly stuff. Yes, I’m aware he was never a fan of my grammar, especially when I was an alderman myself. Fair enough, to each his own. I’ll stake my record as an alderman against Tom’s any day.
Second, Tom’s mad at me because I wouldn’t sign his nominating petition to run for re-election this year. While I supported Tom in his maiden (unsuccessful) and second (successful) run for Council president, I did so because he was the best choice at the time. I no longer believe this is the case and, for that reason, declined to sign his petition. I could go in to his leadership track record (or lack thereof), or the fact that this Council is perhaps the least productive and most destructive in a decade, or how he has a tendency to stifle dissent while allowing those who agree with him to prattle on at meetings. But I won’t. I could observe that he takes his politics very, very personally. But I’m not doing that, either. Rather, I’m endorsing his opponent (whose petition I did sign the same day Tom asked me to sign his).
Third, I’m 55 years old. Tom is about 65 or so (+/- a couple of years). I’m middle aged. Tom’s a senior citizen. Fists? Attacking from the rear? Who does that at our ages? This entire event could be featured in the AARP monthly magazine under a headline like “Never Too Old for Childish Behavior.” Frankly, realizing it was Tom attacking me – in light of our mutual, relatively advanced years – was what probably kept me from instinctively trying to defend myself. Well, that and how freaked out and unprepared I was to be attacked from behind in such cowardly fashion by a physically grown man.
Fourth, and finally, through a mutual acquaintance, I offered Tom the opportunity to apologize to me with the promise that if he did I would accept his apology and not press charges. He declined.Update: Three hours after I published the statement above from John Friedman, recounting what occurred on April 24, Tom DePietro sent me this statement and asked that I publish it. I am obliging. DePietro's statement follows.
John Friedman is disappointed that the incident between us has gotten little traction. If anything, it has made him appear foolish, and worse—a bold-faced liar. Go back to his original claims in April that 1.) I was unprovoked; 2.) that I tried to push him down the stairs; and 3.) that his hands were always in his pockets (all asserted by him in the original news story). Two of these claims are disproved by the video—I pull him away from the steps, and his hands are never in his pockets. And now, in this new narrative, he admits that he provoked my reaction in an extraordinarily offensive manner; the soundless video does not capture the actual words exchanged. He admits that he repeatedly used the word "pussy."
What's left to say beyond that? He attributes my anger to his not signing my petition, which is not the case. Rather, his racist, sexist and anti-democratic attitudes have long been apparent to those who follow city politics. I don't expect him to approve of my tenure on the Council, though I wonder what he thinks he accomplished in his over six years of well-documented childish antics as an alderman.
I was hoping to wait until after the upcoming primary to comment publicly on this event—of which I am not at all proud—but Friedman has been keeping this alive, apparently for political purposes. He pressured the HPD, who found no serious crime. His only injury appears to be his wounded ego.
Finally, in an attempt to appear magnanimous, Friedman introduces yet another lie in this affair--no one has reached out to me with an offer by Friedman to not file charges if I apologized. Friedman was asked who that was today and has still not responded.
In any event, I am happy to apologize here: I apologize John, my anger was out of place, and I shouldn't have touched you.
|Photo: Matthew Fredericks|
|Photo: Elizabeth Floyd Mari|Altamont Enterprise|
|Photo: Ian Stewart|
|Evelyn & Robert Monthie Slide Collection, Columbia County Historical Society|
|Photo: Jonathan Simons|
[T]he keeper would have to keep the light shining. Every night he would have to light the lamps and make sure that they burned brightly and did not run out of oil. This usually meant several trips a night up and down the stairs. During the hours of darkness, the "light" was never to go out and if the Lighthouse Service received complaints that the light was not lit or that it was poorly lit, the lightkeeper would be in danger of losing his job. In the morning he would have to clean the soot from the lantern room, clean the lens, polish the brass, and make the lamps ready for the following night. This had to be done every day.The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse was automated on November 10, 1949. Today, the light is solar powered and turned on at night by means of a light sensor.
|Photo: Jonathan Simons|
The minimum bid shall be $300,000.00. The conveyance of the subject premises shall be subject to the terms and conditions of a Penalty Note and Mortgage in the amount of $100,000.00 in the event the property: (a) is not developed for a commercial use, as evidenced by a certificate of occupancy, within three (3) years of the conveyance of title, or; (b) all or a portion of the property is sold within three (3) years of the conveyance of title. A copy of the Terms of Sale and the terms and conditions of the Penalty Note and Mortgage may be reviewed at the Office of the Mayor, Hudson City Hall, 520 Warren Street, Hudson, New York 12534.All the documents mentioned are also available online, and Gossips has provided a hyperlink to each one. The auction takes places at 3:00 p.m., on Monday, June 10, in the Council Chamber at City Hall. For more information, click here.