Looking for a New State Legislator? Try Craigslist.

gottfried.jpgUpset about the way your State Assembly rep voted on congestion pricing? Here’s a novel approach to finding a new one: Craiglist. While Manhattan’s Richard Gottfried was one of the few state legislators who supported congestion pricing, at least one Chelsea resident appears to be in the market for a new Assemblyman. And why not? By Craiglist standards, Gottfried is a prized antique. He’s been in the Assembly since 1970.

Wanted: Real Reformer for NY’s 75th Assembly District (Chelsea)

New York’s 75th Assembly district has been represented by an out of touch party hack for over 35 years with little to show for his efforts. Colleagues describe him as indecisive and lacking the leadership qualities to get promoted to the next level. He has also failed to adapt to the shifting customer base.

Even the local newspaper (NY Times) has called him to task in a recent editorial: "New Yorkers deserve to be mad as hell about Albany, and their best revenge is at the ballot box. All they need now is to find decent candidates. In Manhattan, where the Democratic primary is the election, it is time to challenge even the most established members of the Legislature – like Assemblyman Richard Gottfried on the West Side or Assemblywoman Deborah Glick."

Even his website (http://www.richardgottfried.org) hasn’t been updated in over eight years. It still lists him as representing the 64th district – before the post-census redistricting.

Help Richard "Dick" Gottfried find a new job by putting in an application for his current one. Serious Reformers Only need apply.

  • Competitive primaries

    That’s a great ad – I hope someone responds to it.

    The old website is classic – pre-Bush, pre-9/11 oh the memories- is it the last time he was challenged in a primary maybe?

    Competition is a good thing – if he’s as good as mfs says, then he will continue to represent his district. If not, he deserves to be replaced

  • Larry Littlefield

    Thirty-eight years ago NY had one of the worst city governments in the country, but NY State was considered one of the best run states in the country. Things have reversed. The people who have been in Albany are responsible for the decay.

    One way to look at this is that Gottfried does not deserve to be singled out.

    A second way is that they all deserve to be singled out, because they are responsible for what they have failed to do as well as what they have done (or pretended to do).

    The secretive way they do things, followed by the 212 to 0 votes (or none at all), mean any and all are responsible for what has happened, and what is going to happen. If you think people are upset now, wait until 2010.

  • David L

    Gottfried is my Assemblyman and I e-mailed him in the spring of last year about CP. The first response I got from him on this issue was last month. Meanwhile I had a heart to heart with Richard Brodsky over his personal e-mail through May and June (not that it did much good, but at the time even Brodsky thought CP would probably happen). I didn’t even get a form letter from my Assemblyman. Sure, Gottfried might be a progressive pol, but the city is a progressive place and I don’t think someone deserves kudos simply because they have values in line with their constituents. We need effective leadership and advocacy. If CP was worth his support then he needed to morph into a vocal opponent to Brodsky. Progressiveness from a Westside Assemblyperson isn’t the issue…it’s effectiveness. Behind closed doors, he clearly is not an effective advocate for our interests and there is an almost 40-year track record of this.

  • Glenn

    Has Gottfried even released a statement of what his position on Congestion Pricing is/was?

    Most of the Manhattan Assembly delegation seems more focused with coming up with barriers, lists of questions and sharp personal attacks at the Mayor. There was no leadership on this issue, but rather a secret party meeting to decide to kill it to spite the Mayor.

    Richard Brodsky showed the most leadership of anyone in the Assembly. Too bad we had no one on our side from the Manhattan delegation to return fire and refute his misinformation.

  • David L

    This is the response I got from Gottfried:

    “Dear Mr. Levo:

    Thank you very much for writing to let me know of your support for congestion pricing.

    I have spoken out frequently and forcefully as a supporter of congestion pricing. I testified twice before the Commission on Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission; I have spoken on this issue to many reporters, and have been quoted in support of the idea in several newspapers; and I discussed it in several of my “community updates” that I distribute at community meetings. Alas, my efforts have not received the same news attention as Richard Brodsky’s.

    I appreciate your consideration in writing to me.

    Very truly yours,
    Richard N. Gottfried
    Assembly Member”

    It was in his community updates. I don’t recall it ever being a leader, but rather always buried if mentioned at all. I’ve spoken to friends in several of the Westside Democratic clubs and all seem paralyzed at the idea of running someone against him.

  • fdr

    DOT was advertising its congestion pricing jobs on Craigs List.

  • anonymous

    its also cheap. gottfried has an official website (http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=075) he updates regularly, most recently April 3. clearly he abandoned the personal website, but only because he already has another one he uses instead.

    taking down Gottfried — a strong, on-the-record CP supporter — would certainly be a strange decision for the livable streets community to make, and would definitely send a counterpoductive message.

  • Wendi Paster

    Thanks for bringing our old, un-used, embarrassing, pre-dotcom crash campaign website to our attention—we’ll get it fixed.

    Meanwhile, try going to Dick’s page on the official Assembly site, where most Assembly issues are addressed: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=075.

    But to your main issue concern, Dick has been on record supporting congestion pricing since it was first proposed and our office has been putting out community update articles, public hearing testimony and press statements (see Liz Benjamin’s post http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2008/04/procongesting-pricing-gottfrie.html) and responding to constituent inquiries voicing that support. (I’m terribly sorry if David L. didn’t get a timely response.)

    Wendi Paster,
    Assembly Member Dick Gottfried’s NY Chief of Staff

  • Eric

    I’m sure Assemblyman Gottfried would support and participate in a reform of Albany, if given the chance. You’re really going after the assemblyman who is one of the few good politicians in Albany – although he has so many incompetent people around him that it is difficult for him to get anything done. You should go after the rest of the Manhattan delegation instead.

  • George Hilaby

    Funny, this post disappeared overnight and has now reappeared after I inquired about it on another thread (my comments on that other threat disappeared), but it’s changed. The original (now deleted) post said:

    “Whether or not it’s connected to congestion pricing, someone is recruiting on Craigslist for a candidate to take on Chelsea Assembly Member Richard Gottfried. Elected to the Assembly in 1970, Gottfried is described in the ad as “indecisive and lacking the leadership qualities to get promoted to the next level.” And the ad rightly points out that Gottfried’s web site has not been updated since 2000 — before post-census redistricting, when he represented the 64th District.

    “Think anything else has changed in Chelsea over the last eight years? Or the last 38?”

    (followed by the quote from Craigslist)

    … and two of the original comments also disappeared, perhaps to make the remaining comments appear to be in context with the new post.

    Something odd is going on. There was nothing wrong with the original post and it merely reported on what existed on Craigslist.

    Are Gottfried’s people leaning on this blog?

  • Brad Aaron

    There were no threats, Mr. Hilaby. I asked Aaron to do a rewrite, as he had a better handle on what we were going for in the first place. That’s why the original post went down. And yes, since the comments related to it were no longer relevant, they were deleted.

    I tried to tell you this via e-mail but the address you gave didn’t work.

    Would that we were so powerful as to be leaned on by a state legislator.

  • We edited this item because we wanted it to focus less on Gottfried and his record and more on the fact that someone in Chelsea is using Craiglist to try to off-load their Assembly member like an old sofa or lamp.

    The first version of this blog post was just oriented a bit too much as a critique of Gottfried. Aside from the fact that he was generally supportive of pricing and he’s been in the Assembly for as long as I’ve been alive, Streetsblog doesn’t really know enough about Gottfried to criticize him. We edited it to focus on the novel approach to recruiting a candidate — Craiglist rather than the old political club.

  • rhubarbpie

    At least Assembly Member Gottfried supported congestion pricing. My assembly member — O’Donnell — didn’t. Why Gottfried may not be the ball of fire you’d like, he’s hardly the villain in the piece.

    The response from Gottfried’s aide shows that this official can be responsive. I’m disappointed by the analysis so far on Streetsblog — there’s a basic denial that congestion pricing just didn’t capture the public’s attention in the way that we would have hoped, and also found tough going in the legislature, in part because of our allies.

    As I’ve said on different threads here, there’s no reason not to be annoyed a (mostly) know-nothing legislature. But it’s foolish to claim that a mayor who still thinks he’s running his own business didn’t have something to do with the failure of congestion pricing.

  • We actually haven’t done a post-pricing analysis yet.

    In general, I think these efforts to pin the blame on the mayor’s personality and style are, for the most part, a misdirection and baloney.

    Pricing was killed in a closed door Democratic party conference meeting in the State Assembly. If you’re looking to blame someone for its death, the killers are to be found in that room.

  • Competitive primaries

    I would expect there would be many vocal opponents to congestion pricing from Westchester and Long Island, but I thought our powerful city delegation, particularly Manhattan would have more than matched them. At the end of the day, IMO our allies failed us more than our opponents defeated us. Just being “for” something, doesn’t mean you are willing to be an advocate.

    How about Gottfried send our a transcript of what he said in the secret/behind closed doors meeting? How can we just his pursuasiveness if we don’t really even know what he said to his colleagues.

  • rhubarbpie

    While Streetsblog itself may not have done a formal post-mortem, Aaron, many of the contributors here have voiced their opinions. And the comments above show where you are on this.

    Few contributors have been willing to criticize the mayor’s leadership. But those colleagues I’ve talked to who were deep in the battle suggest that, aside from the fact that he proposed congestion pricing in the first place, Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership was severely flawed, if not a disaster.

    Is the mayor the reason congestion pricing failed? Let’s put it this way: a leader who didn’t so dramatically misread the legislature might have done far better. I think we’re putting blinders on if we don’t acknowledge that the general in this battle didn’t understand the battlefield. (I guess it’s a bit It turned out that dealing with the legislature was a bit harder when it wasn’t the City Council.

    Is he the only reason it didn’t move forward? No way: many of the legislators were pre-disposed to believe the crap that the anti-congestion pricing spinners were putting out. Of course they are to blame.

    And others played a role: an unhelpful MTA, for instance.

    But to suggest that folks like my legislator, Danny O’Donnell, couldn’t have been swayed by a little smarter politics at City Hall is a mistake. And if we don’t realize that, we’ll just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

    Another mistake would be to devote a huge amount of time to trying to pick off legislators because we don’t think they were persuasive enough in a closed conference (and I’m no fan of the particular legislator in question, by the way). That doesn’t mean that there aren’t legislators worth running against, just that it’s hardly the kind of battle I think should be a focus.

    It’s possible, by the way, that the argument about who deserves blame is, for the moment, irrelevant. While there is a dramatic need for more transit funding, it won’t be coming in this round, at least, from congestion pricing.

  • Auditor

    If New York’s legislature is dysfunctional, it is because the electorate is dysfunctional. The Democratic Party has been screwing New York City for almost 100 years. Keep voting for the felons, Quinn, Hevesi, Spitzer, et al and keep getting screwed. We all hate Giuliani now, and some hate Bloomy, too, but Chelsea would still be a dangerous hellhole without them.

  • Auditor, you’re right that in many cases people are responsible for what their governments do, and get the government they deserve.

    This line of thinking is limited when democracy is limited. And in the case of the State Legislature, democracy is indeed limited. In the five NYC elections I’ve voted in, I don’t remember ever having a meaningful choice for either Senate or Assembly – even when the incumbent senator was a Republican.

    Elections are there for a reason. If there’s no primary or general election challenger for a candidate, and the choice of candidate is made in the clubhouses, then everyone who’s not involved in clubhouse politics is disenfranchised.

    I would happily have voted for an alternative to the candidates on the ballot, and I think a lot of my neighbors would have as well – given the choice. But we weren’t given the choice, so we don’t deserve the blame. Certainly not all of it.

  • True-Story

    Waaaaaaaa…congestion pricing failed.

    How about eliminting Rent Control & Rent Stabilization so people who are not working and cannot afford Manhattan will move out to permit those with JOBS live close to WORK.

    There will be less commuting and less traffic if the retirees move to Dutchess and Orange County so middle-class people that WORK in Manhattan can move close to their JOB.

    The Rent Control & Rent Stbilization chickens have come home to roost. Sty Town & Peter Cooper Village (aka Century Village-Manhattan)

  • Mark

    Your approach is a little less than graceful, True-Story, but your point is reasonable.

  • @True-Story: Without wishing to open a long back-and-forth about rent regulation (which IMO should also be determined by NYC govt not NYS), I just want to mention that rent stabilization is precisely what permits THIS middle-class person to live in Manhattan (somewhat) close to my job (in turn permitting me to bicycle commute, use mass transit, and live car-free).

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    My parents and in-laws live beyond Orange County, and there are many times I’ve wished they lived as close as Stuy Town. I would be a more productive worker if they did.

    I’m glad that rent stabilization allowed my dad to live the rest of his life in the community he chose as his home, above a supermarket and near two subway stations, instead of being shipped off to the boonies where he would have been marooned without a car. That allowed him to be closer to me and to his grandson than would have been possible any other way, and it allowed me to take care of him in his old age, in a way that I won’t be able to do with my mom.

    I don’t want to live in a frathouse, and I don’t want to live in a neighborhood where everyone has young children. I like having older people around. Many of my older neighbors keep an eye on the street and take an interest in civic affairs. Sure, sometimes they can be cranky about parking, but the neighborhood would be greatly diminished without them – and their lives would be greatly diminished if they were stuck in some “retirement community” in Wappingers Falls or Boca Raton.

  • Mark Walker (formerly Mark)

    I agree with Urbanis — without rent stabilization, many middle income people, myself included, would be driven out of Manhattan. #19 is being deliberately offensive.

    Comment #20 brings up another problem. There are too many people posting here as Mark. So from now on I’m Mark Walker — Mark because it’s my real name, and Walker because walking is what makes me interested in Streetsblog. That and public transit. But Mark Public Transit doesn’t have such a nice ring.

    I wish the other Mark(s) well and would never question their right to air their views. I just need to present a consistent persona.

  • J. Mork

    Here’s an article which explains why pissy old True Story is right:

    Let our rent rates go: why rent control should stop
    Real Estate Weekly, June 2, 2004 by Adelaide Ponsinelli

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Here’s an article which explains why pissy old True Story is right

    Except it doesn’t. It’s not enough to show bad consequences of a policy; you need to show that eliminating that policy would create more benefit than detriment.

  • Mark Walker (formerly Mark)

    #19, above: “There will be less commuting and less traffic if the retirees move to Dutchess and Orange County so middle-class people that WORK in Manhattan can move close to their JOB.”

    Speaking as a rent-stabilized tenant: I don’t a car, and my writing job has me working at home. So forcing me out of the city won’t remove any cars. And my proximity to my job couldn’t be any smaller — I commute from my bedroom to my livingroom. And I’m not rich. My income is 45k.

    I read the linked article, which states in part: “Any artificial control tightens supply and increases rents.” The facts suggest otherwise. Vacancy decontrol turns more and more rent-stabilized units into market-rate units every year — and still rents continue to rise.

  • These attacks on Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, one of the BEST AND MOST PROGRESSIVE, RESPONSIVE AND THOUGHTFUL LEGISLATORS IN THE U.S. are ridiculous. Dick Gottfried offered supportive and constructive comments in favor of the congestion road pricing initiatives in multiple settings/hearings, and, as a national leader in the fight for universal health coverage in NYS, carries additional gravitas as a tribune of the public health benefits of congestion road pricing. Rather than idiotically recruiting opposition to Mr. Gottfried, we should try to clone him!

    –Jeffrey Gold, VP/Director
    Institute for Rational Urban Mobility

  • True-Story

    After 37 years, its time for a change. No one person is that important in our country that they are not replacable.


    I am glad my comment on rent laws drew such interesting responses. I believe that there is a high percentage of apartments occupied by non-workers that are not available to Manhatan-based workers. There are around 200,000 rent regulated apartments in Manhattan and if 25% are occupied by retirees, then you can see the impact on prices on the non-regulated apartments and how many less commuters there would be if the non-workers relocated.

    50,000 apartments is a lot of housing close to work that is off the market.

  • mfs

    I have done an analysis of 1999 and 2005 NYC Housing Vacancy Survey looking at the differences between tenants of Rent Controlled, Rent Stablized and market-rate housing.

    I’m working on writing up my findings, hopefully for publication, but the initial finding is that there is no difference on a percent of income basis between Rent Stabilized and market-rate. Translation: Rent Stabilized apartments are just as available to people (when looked at in NYC as a whole) as market-rate apartments, it’s just that poorer people are more likely to live in Rent Stabilized apartments.

    Rent Control, on the other hand is shrinking fast. There are only 40,000 some apartments left in the program (down from 52,000 in 1999). There seem to be only about 10,000-20,000 people in Rent Controlled apartments that are getting a much better deal that the rest of the market. It’s really not much to worry about in a market with 2 million rental units and another 1 million owner-occupied units.

  • Here is your answer


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