When Marc Landis, a leading candidate to represent the Upper West Side in the City Council next year, talks about himself, he often boasts of his long record of fighting for affordable housing in New York City. The attorney and Democratic district leader, praised by his many endorsers for his tenant advocacy, also works closely with Tahl Propp Equities, a large real estate developer that has been sued by Manhattan tenants and accused of “predatory” financial practices in rapidly gentrifying Harlem.
“Tahl Propp was one of the early companies that we and other organizers spotted coming in and buying up large amounts of affordable housing and they weren’t a known actor in the affordable housing or real estate world,” said Emily Goldstein, coordinator of preservation and policy at Tenants and Neighbors, a statewide tenant advocacy group. “In more recent years, I know that they’ve said they care about affordable housing. They’ve said they care about the Harlem community. And yet their actual practices in many of these buildings have been detrimental to low and moderate income tenants, to the physical housing stock and arguably to the community.”
Over the weekend, Thomas Lopez-Pierre, an uptown activist who has been running a Council campaign characterized by a series of angry, racially charged emails sent another missive endorsing Robert Jackson, the man he’s trying to replace. Mr. Jackson is prevented by term limits from running for re-election to his council seat and is instead pursuing the Manhattan borough presidency. However, Mr. Jackson is clearly not eager to have Mr. Lopez-Pierre’s endorsement.
“We totally reject Thomas Lopez-Pierre. Throughout his life, Robert Jackson has been a leader fighting for justice and understanding and against bigotry and intolerance,” Richard Fife, Mr. Jackson’s spokesman, said in a statement. “He has condemned the racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic rants of Lopez-Pierre in the strongest way possible.”
You've Got Mail
Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a candidate for an Uptown City Council seat who has been making a series of racially-charged arguments against one of his rivals in the race, Mark Levine, has taken things to a whole other level. In an email filled with racial slurs, expletives and violent rhetoric, Mr. Lopez-Pierre blasted Brian Benjamin, a real estate developer, for deciding “to pick Mark Levine the only White/Jewish guy in the race to raise money for.”
Mr. Lopez-Pierre went on to call Mr. Benjamin an “Uncle Tom” who by joining Mr. Levine’s campaign, “sold out the Black people of Harlem.”
The email was addressed to Mr. Benjamin and over 30 Uptown political figures, including Mr. Levine. Politicker has confirmed the email was sent from Mr. Lopez-Pierre’s address.
Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a Harlem activist with a controversial past who is running for term-limited Councilman Robert Jackson’s seat, circulated an email late last night in an attempt to plan a “private meeting” to “discuss the potential damage to the political empowerment of the Black and Hispanic community if Mark Levine, a White/Jewish candidate was elected to the 7th Council District in 2013.” This morning, Mr. Lopez-Pierre told Politicker he isn’t organizing the meeting himself and is working on behalf of a larger group who became concerned when they read a report on the political blog The Perez Notes that the Upper Manhattan political machine headed by State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez has been working to “clear” the crowded field of candidates running for the seat to help Mr. Levine win.
“Now that he actually has a chance to win it’s scaring people,” said Mr. Lopez-Pierre. “So, what started first as a discussion of the blog post has now mushroomed among candidates and community leaders into basically a ‘Stop Levine’ campaign.”
Harlem restaurateur Sylvia Woods was a legendary chef, but she was also a key figure in the Uptown political scene. At her funeral service at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon today, many of the high-powered regulars from Woods’ eponymous restaurant showed up to share their remembrances and pay tribute to Woods as a pioneering African-American businesswoman, an ally in the civil rights struggle and, of course, a superb chef.
“Every protest, every movement, every plan, every law started with a breakfast, or lunch or a dinner at Sylvia’s,” former Governor David Paterson explained.
After 41 years in the House of Representatives, Congressman Charlie Rangel faced the fight of his political life last night and came away with a victory. Mr. Rangel’s 22nd term in Congress was threatened by the changing boundaries and demographics of his district, lingering fallout from a tax and fundraising scandal that saw him censured for ethics violations by his House colleagues in 2010 and health issues that sent the 82-year-old in and out of the hospital for two months earlier this year. In a victory speech made from a makeshift stage set up in front of Sylvia’s restaurant in the heart of his longtime base in Harlem, Mr. Rangel praised his supporters, political allies and family for sticking with him through the difficult campaign. He also had harsh words for the press and the rivals who attempted to end his political career.
The network of Democratic clubs in Harlem that gave Congressman Charlie Rangel his start hope they can secure him a 22nd term. Harlem’s political clubs have spawned several other notable New York politicians including former Mayor David Dinkins, ex-governor David Paterson and Mr. Rangel’s predecessor in the House of Representatives, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. The political landscape in Upper Manhattan has changed quite a bit over the years and the district Mr. Rangel is vying to represent now includes the predominantly Latino areas of Washington Heights and Inwood, which his main opponent, Adriano Espaillat, represents in the State Senate. In a race that’s expected to have low turnout, the members of Harlem’s democratic clubs are working hard to ensure their neighborhood comes out in full force for Mr. Rangel.
President Barack Obama didn’t give Rep. Charlie Rangel an endorsement in today’s election, but that didn’t stop supporters of the longtime congressman’s re-election bid from peppering Harlem with flyers featuring a huge picture of the president embracing Mr. Rangel as voters headed to the polls. The flyer describes Mr. Rangel as “a key leader in passing Obama’s healthcare law.”
Charlie In Charge
Charlie Rangel went to vote at P.S. 175 in Harlem this morning and, in a brief press conference afterward, the longtime congressman was dismissive of his opponents, the media and the entire possibility he might lose. Today’s race is seen as potentially the toughest of the congressman’s over forty years in office thanks to the changing demographics of his district. However, Mr. Rangel first replied with a joke when a reporter asked what he’d do if he loses.
“Well, if I lose tonight, I will sleep just like a baby and cry myself to sleep,” he said with a smile.
After a few laughs, the Congressman followed up to say he doesn’t think about losing at all.
“No, no,” said Mr. Rangel. “If you have the spirit that’s necessary to overcome these political obstacles and if you’re fortunate enough to know that they’re not obstacles that you can’t overcome, than the whole attitude, ‘What do I do if I lose?’ never reaches that mental level. It really doesn’t. I would find some way to tell you if I thought it did.”
Despite strong fundraising numbers, a well-organized campaign and his experience working in national politics, former DNC political director Clyde Williams is generally seen by insiders as a likely third place finisher behind State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Rep. Charlie Rangel in the race for Upper Manhattan’s newly redrawn 13th congressional district. However, Mr. Williams told The Politicker he’s confident about his chances when we caught up with him last night as he met with voters in rapper Doug E. Fresh’s Harlem restaurant, Doug E.’s Chicken & Waffles.
“I feel very good,” Mr. Williams said. “I don’t particularly say I know exactly what the breakdown is going to be, but based on what we’ve done, our own analysis, we feel good about where we are. We know where our voters are, we plan on getting them to the polls.”