By George Capsis
Attorney Arthur Schwartz sent me an e-mail offering an interview with Jumaane Williams who is running, along with 22 others, for the post of Public Advocate. With election day fast approaching (Tuesday February 26th), I ask Arthur “does he have a chance,” and Arthur replied back “sure, he is number one.”
Public Advocate is a curious and at times controversial post—he or she supposedly speaks for all of us to make sure the city government does what we really want it to do. Obviously he or she has to single out the big issues like affordable housing, and when I asked Arthur to send me his platform—I received “My Platform For Housing Justice.” He has several other issues, but as he said, “this is the big one.”
Before I sat down to write I took a look at a video of Jumaane addressing an African American crowd in Brooklyn, which is his political turf and home, and was bemused to see him do a Martin Luther King response chant and wondered, how biased would his housing plans be?
He came in from the icy cold with his nice young lady handler, peeled off two layers and sat in my “reading the New York Times” chair. We began with his bio—his father came from Grenada to study medicine and become a doctor. Jumaane went to Brooklyn Tech HS, then Brooklyn College, and studied Political Science. “Is politics a science?” I challenged. He hesitated before he offered “yes” and added, (I think) “and acting” (he had planned to be an actor and is very good at leading a crowd).
The written platform offered “I would stand up for low income renters across New York City for real, scalable policies that preserve affordability, and protect families from predatory landlords right now.”
As I keyed this I thought about his phrase “protect families from predatory landlords.” Here in the West Village we don’t have families who are threatened by landlords, but only single aged men and women in rent stabilized apartments, like Mitch Donian, whose article appears in this issue and was in the other room waiting for dinner as I conducted the interview.
I asked about “gentrification” which his platform document warned “was sweeping through every corner of the city” and Jumaane quickly came back with “yes, it was causing reverse migration.”
His platform offers that “2.5 million New Yorkers are rent stabilized—and these rights will expire altogether in 2019” (oh wow, this must have been written last year—I gotta ask Arthur about this, but no way is rent control going to end—the streets would be flooded with protesters and landlords and the mayor would be hung in effigy).
Jumaane does a job on NYCHA and ends with “they should be put on the Worst Landlords List.”
This morning I heard on the radio that Corey Johnson wants to tear NYCHA down. I like that…