Last Thursday, state Republican party boss William Powers spoke before hundreds of landlords at the annual fundraiser for the Neighborhood Preservation Political Action Fund, a PAC whose membership is virtually the same as that of from the main landlord lobbying group, the Rent Stabilization Association. Although journalists were barred from the lunch at the East Side's swanky Water Club, Powers reportedly pledged that state Republicans will maintain their attacks on the city's rent regulations--and called for the landlords to keep coughing up the contributions.
In a letter sent to landlord-benefactors on NPPAF letterhead announcing the fundraiser, RSA director Joe Strasburg asked his flock to focus on city politicians--not just state reps like Senate chief Joe Bruno, who has vowed to kill the rent laws.
"We all know that whatever the outcome this June, the battle will not be over," Strasburg wrote in a March letter obtained by City Limits. "There are many fronts. The NPPAF will continue to fight for your goals. The Mayor, the entire City Council and all Borough Presidents will be elected this Fall (sic). Do what you can to make sure these elected officials, be they new or old, are supportive of your goals...You never give up--we never do either!"
Earlier this year, City Limits reported that Strasburg, a former aide to City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, had quietly funelled tens of thousands in contributions to many city Democrats who are publicly opposed to any change I the rent laws--including Bronx Borough President and mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer.
The next rent-war battle will be fought today when landlords and tenants file into a lower Manhattan auditorium to debate the Rent Guidelines Board's annual calculation of the rent increases on stabilized apartments. On Wednesday, the board will hash out a compromise increase and vote on it. A final vote is scheduled for June 23, a week after rent laws are due to expire.
Last year, the RGB set increases at 5 percent for one-year leases and 7 percent for two-year leases. This year, the board's central staff citing low landlord costs, recommended that rents rise between 1 percent and 3 percent for one-year leases; and between 2 percent and 5 percent for two-year leases.