The State of SoHo: An open letter to Senator Kavanaugh

“We don’t even ask happiness, just a little less pain”

–Charles Bukowski

May 30, 2021

State Senator Brian Kavanaugh,

As a journalist who lives in SoHo a couple of problems have gone unaddressed.

First, the traffic rules on Avenue of the Americas from Canal Street headed North to Watts street where cars turn into the line-up for the Holland Tunnel is erratically and poorly enforced. Even when there are Traffic Agents directing traffic, there is never an effort to keep the crosswalks clear to protect pedestrians. This is true at Grand Street and Avenue of the Americas and at Watts Street and Avenue of the Americas. With too little enforcement and zero summonses it has become a dangerous free for all. As a result, with no enforcement whatsoever on a holiday weekend — I was hit by a car this past weekend and seriously injured. With no room to use the crosswalk and no enforcement and a green WALK sign, my only witness was the frankfurter cart vendor when I was hit. Funny? Not really. I’m 77 and have a heart condition and cancer. Not funny at all.  And, I often watch mothers with baby carriages trying to weave in and out of cars which could care less if they hit them, lest they miss a light heading to New Jersey.

Do something about enforcement, giving out steep summonses, and keeping crosswalks clear before any more residents are hurt or killed.

Second, do something about the laws regarding abuse and harassment in Housing. Otherwise Affordable Housing will remain a joke for all but greedy developers.

I’ve lived in a rent-stabilized apartment for over 35 years. It is a building operated by people whom I consider to be criminals. My own prosecution for writing the Truth will be accurately judged once former Hamptons D.A. Thomas Spota is sentenced next month. But, I was the subject of a landlord lawsuit — attempting to evict me and my family — as a result of complaining and suing over numerous habitability issues. Due to the excessive cost of paying rent AND paying legal fees — I was forced to remove improvements made with the permission of the prior owner and approved by a corrupt judge by the name of Braun. The well-developed abuse ploy is “litigate-to-evict,” which makes the cost of defending your home impossible to afford. The landlords in my case have honed this method of abuse and eviction and out of 60 originally rent-stabilized apartments only 5 rent-stabilized and at least 10 Loft Law apartments remain. The Loft Law units were commercial apartments whose tenants were subjected to incredible abuse but the tenants eventually forced the courts to designate them as Loft Law units. 

Kathryn Freed and Sean Sweeney, you may recall, originally got that Loft Law passed. Our Loft Law tenants got their approvals accomplished after nearly two decades of abuse, harassment and threats by our landlords. It’s a well-planned criminal operation known by various names since the late 1980’s. Even membership on Community Board #2 did not help. 

I barely have heat all winter, constant leaks and a judgment against me for $250,000 because I fought the attempt to evict me and my family which was brought to the Supreme Court for SEVEN years; a case that cost $500,000! That case alone warrants an investigation by Attorney General James, the Department of Investigation and the District Attorney — as do the details of how Mitch & Murray (as I call the landlord and their enforcers), came to own this building and many others.

From your perspective, penalties for abuse and harassment should rise to a minimum of $50,000 per incident PLUS prison time — and tenants should not be obligated to pay rent at all while paying an attorney to defend them. The current laws regarding abuse and harassment are absurdly easy to circumvent for landlords.

As I am writing this, I have no heat in 48 degree weather and apparently no one is managing the building. There is no superintendent. The building’s voicemail is full. Clearly, it is retaliation for utilizing the benefits of the pandemic rent moratorium. HPD is not open on weekends and agents do not arrive for days anyway. When a heat problem is reported they call the landlord before arriving so that the landlord can temporarily fix the problem — until the inspector leaves. And, due to the incompetence of HPD, for example, 311 does not respond to our heat complaints since we are a Rent-Stabilized tenant in this building. Ironically, Stabilized apartment tenants are erroneously designated now as Loft Law tenants by HPD through 311 — while the Loft Board does not recognize Rent-Stabilized tenants as being within their purview. Ergo, no one responds to us. I can’t call 311 to lodge a lack of heat complaint.

Reports from other constituents that your office is unresponsive may be unfounded: please demonstrate to me and my readers that you are our concerned State Senator.

Sincerely,

D. Clark MacPherson

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