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July 17, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

Excerpts from the Working Families Mayoral Forum

Michael Rubens Bloomberg:

“The reason people are evicted is they don’t understand how to run their own budgets.”

William C.Thompson, Jr.:

“The reason so many working families have trouble managing their budgets and paying their rents is that wages have stagnated or declined and unemployment is at record levels, while rents have risen steadily.”

What More Do You Have to Know to Give The Arrogant Mega-Billionaire the Boot on November 3?

Via Kenny Schaeffer, Co-Chair of Manhattan Chapter WFP, and an active member with Met Council on housing.

Thompson: NYC Can’t Afford 4 More Years of Bloomberg!
by Kenny Schaeffer

“New York can’t afford four more years of Michael Bloomberg,” city Comptroller Bill Thompson declared at a rally to kick off his mayoral campaign, at Brooklyn Borough Hall on July 11. He said the billionaire mayor has been concerned only with rich people, real-estate developers, and Wall Street, while New York has become unaffordable for low, moderate, and middle-income New Yorkers.

Thompson won the Working Families Party’s endorsement July 9 and will face City Councilmember Tony Avella of Queens in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary. The winner will take on Bloomberg in the general election on Nov. 3. Polls show that a majority of New Yorkers want a different mayor next year. Bloomberg, who has already spent more $36 million on his campaign and may top $100 million by November, was only able to seek a third term by getting the Council to repeal term limits, which city voters had approved twice by referendum.

Thompson won the WFP endorsement by garnering just over the 2/3-majority vote needed from party affiliates, including most of the city’s major labor unions, ACORN, Citizen Action, and local clubs and chapters. Bloomberg fought a determined but unsuccessful battle to keep Thompson from winning the endorsement, something he had succeeded in doing when challenged in 2005 by Fernando Ferrer.

The vote came a week after the three candidates appeared at the WFP’s mayoral forum. Before a union hall audience of over 300, they answered questions from members of the party’s city coordinating council about economic justice, housing and homelessness, progressive taxation, green jobs, paid sick days, and campaign-finance reform. (The forum can be seen online here)

Bloomberg failed to impress the WFP members. New York Times reporter David Chen pointed out that the mayor “refused to [take] liberal positions on issues like higher income taxes on the wealthy or stronger laws to protect tenants He drew some jeers, too, on the subject of housing, when he said that he thought ‘it’s pretty hard getting evicted’.”

Bloomberg told the forum that anyone facing eviction should just “call 311 and we’ll get them a public defender.” In reality, about 90 percent of people who ask for help at the Legal Aid Society and other providers are turned away due to inadequate funding. He also said the reason people are evicted is “they don’t understand how to run their own budgets.”

Thompson responded that the reason so many working families have trouble managing their budgets and paying their rents is that wages have stagnated or declined and unemployment is at record levels, while rents have risen steadily. He had unsuccessfully urged Bloomberg’s Rent Guidelines Board to freeze rents.
The comptroller has made stronger rent and eviction protections a centerpiece of his campaign. He calls for repealing the Urstadt law, declaring “We need to have control of New York City in New York City. Not in Albany.” Bloomberg, on the other hand, has failed to speak up for return of home rule or for strengthening rent regulations.

Bankrupt Housing Policies

Thompson calls the increase in homelessness during Bloomberg’s administration – after promising to reduce it by 2/3 – “a huge indictment20of the mayor’s failed policies on homelessness.” In addition to stronger rent and eviction protections, Thompson calls for restoring priority for federal Section 8 vouchers to homeless families, and also for increased funding for civil legal services and emergency rent arrears grants to avoid evictions.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, said that the reason there are now more homeless families in city shelters was that his administration had made shelters “a lot more attractive.”

When Bloomberg announced recently that the city had received federal stimulus money and he was using it on homeless programs, Thompson observed that Washington was “bailing out the mayor’s bankrupt housing policies” as it has bailed out failing banks and businesses across the country.

Councilmember Avella impressed the audience at the WFP forum with his clear and direct answers. However, he has attracted far less support than Thompson has, and particularly with the WFP’s endorsement, Thompson seems to be the only candidate with a realistic chance to defeat Bloomberg.

Thompson has announced that he will focus his campaign on “Five Issues in Five Weeks,” with the week of August 3 devoted to housing.

“One million working families living in rent stabilized apartments have no reason to vote for Michael Bloomberg, and every reason to vote for Bill Thompson,” said Jeff Gold of the Manhattan WFP.

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