Members of the Broadway Democrats, one of the Upper West Side’s most influential political clubs, are at odds over their endorsement of John Liu for mayor.
The club’s endorsements process spun into minor chaos late last night when members were forced to complete their counting in the club’s president’s home. Then, early this morning, a member realized the club had miscounted the ballots because of a misinterpretation of the club’s run-off procedures–forcing a re-count that gave the city’s comptroller a victory.
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.”
In one of its first endorsements this year, the influential 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers union has backed District Leader Marc Landis to replace outgoing Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer. The race to replace Ms. Brewer is one of the most hotly contested in the city, so the backing from one of the state’s labor powerhouses is undoubtedly a nice boost for Mr. Landis’ campaign.
“Marc Landis has a proven record as a progressive activist dedicated to improving our public schools, creating good jobs, advocating for affordable health care and protecting affordable housing for the working families of New York City,” George Gresham, the union’s president, said in a statement.
Ken Biberaj, a vice president at the iconic Russian Tea Room restaurant, has hired a big name to work on his City Council campaign: veteran political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. Mr. Biberaj is running to replace term-limited incumbent Councilwoman Gale Brewer.
“As an Upper West Sider myself, I’m thrilled to work with a candidate who has such a compelling vision for the neighborhood’s future,” Mr. Sheinkopf said in a statement this morning. “It is important that we help protect small businesses and young families on the West Side, and I look forward to representing such a strong and motivated candidate as Mr. Biberaj.”
a campaign brewing
Veteran Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer is jumping into the race for Manhattan Borough President.
“I’m going to definitely do it I. haven’t gotten myself organized, because I’m working on so many different issues, but I will,” Ms. Brewer told The Politicker last night at a public forum hosted by Police Reform Organizing Project at the LGBT Community Center.
Ms. Brewer is entering a crowded field. With current Borough President Scott Stringer gearing up to run for mayor next year, Councilman Robert Jackson, Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin and Councilwoman Jessica Lappin have all already begun campaigning for the position.
Ken Biberaj, who works as Vice President at the Russian Tea Room restaurant in Manhattan, looks like he might be throwing his hat in the ring to succeed term-limited Councilwoman Gale Brewer. This afternoon, he registered a committee for the seat, allowing him to fundraise and campaign for the City Council position in 2013.
Mr. Biberaj came to his executive position at the iconic restaurant through his family’s real estate business. The Russian Tea Room has often been featured in pop culture, making appearances in shows ranging from When Harry Met Sally to Gossip Girl.
At his first meeting after being elected chair of Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side, Mel Wymore had quite an announcement to make: he was no longer a woman.
Prior to declaring his new gender in April 2010, Mr. Wymore spent more than a decade serving on the community board. He realized he wanted to become a man about a month before taking the chairmanship.
“I’ve held many roles on the community board, however always in the role of a woman,” Mr. Wymore told The Observer. “I knew that I was going to be changing very overtly in front of everybody when I was elected, so on my very first meeting as chair, I announced to the community board that I would be transitioning and that they could expect changes. At the time, I said I would maintain the female pronoun until I announced otherwise and that if anyone had questions please don’t be afraid to ask me directly.”