Things almost got ugly when housing advocates protested in front of state Sen. Marty Golden’s Bay Ridge office on June 19.
Members of Make the Road New York and New Yorkers for Change clashed with Golden staffers when the protesters tried to edge their way into the longtime senator’s Fifth Avenue digs.
Demonstrators were demanding to meet with Golden (R–Bay Ridge) — who ducked into the office minutes before marchers arrived — about his vote on a controversial extension of the state’s expired rent-stabilization laws.
Staffers called the cops and began closing the office security gate just after 3 pm — well before the office’s 6 pm closing time — but a demonstrator literally got his foot in the door, forcing the senator’s communications director to address the shouting crowd.
“The senate passed an eight-year extension,” staffer John Quaglione shouted to the group. “That’s more than the Assembly did for you. Go talk to [Assembly housing committee chair] Keith Wright.”
State regulations protecting tenants in rent-stabilized apartments lapsed on June 15 after the Assembly and state Senate could not agree on a bill to renew the legislation earlier this week.
The Assembly passed a so-called “tenant-friendly” version of the regulations that would have made it tougher for landlords to hike rents on stabilized units by ending a practice called “vacancy decontrol.” But the Senate wrote its own version of the bill that extends the law pretty much as-is for eight years while adding in the requirement that tenants in stabilized units to prove their income doesn’t exceed the cap for living in such apartments.
The senate narrowly passed its version of the bill 32–30, with Brooklyn lawmakers Golden and state Sen. Simcha Felder (D–Borough Park) providing two votes that could have tipped the scales toward adopting the Assembly bill.
Protestors accused Golden of prioritizing his campaign contributors over constituents.
“It’s a money issue,” said Carlos Martinez. “He has connections with real estate corporations.
The senator has received tens of thousands of dollars from real estate interests, according to campaign filings. And U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating the pol’s use of campaign cash, though it is not clear whether Bharara is investigating Golden’s ties to real estate or some other facet of his fund-raising.
Golden did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story. But he has said he supports protections for renters and defended his position in the Daily News in 2011 — the last time lawmakers sparred over rent laws.
“I don’t think anybody should be getting rent stabilization who’s making $300,000 a year,” he told the tabloid. “I don’t think anybody in a $3,000 apartment should be on rent control. It’s ridiculous … There’s room for negotiation.”
There are 36,000 rent-stabilized units in Golden’s district.
Lawmakers recently agreed on a five-day extension of the current regulations while they hammer out a renewal bill in Albany. State politicians returned to the capitol on June 23 to continue negotiations. The Senate and Assembly have to rectify their disparate versions of the bill before sending it to the governor for adoption.