View Full Version : De Blasio doesn’t want city council supporting property tax racism suit

The Bobster
11-16-2017, 09:43 AM

De Blasio doesn’t want city council supporting property tax racism suit
By Jennifer Bain and Julia Marsh
November 15, 2017 | 4:20pm

The De Blasio administration is trying to block city council members from supporting a lawsuit that calls the property tax system racist.

“The case law is very clear,” said attorney Joshua Sivin, who represents the mayor. “City council members cannot appear in their official capacity, only if the city council appears as a whole,” Sivin said.

Democrats Fernando Cabrera and Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, Donovan Richards and Eric Ulrich of Queens, and Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn want to submit a brief on behalf of the suit filed Tax Equity Now NY.

The group, made up of the NAACP as well as unnamed landlords and homeowners, argues that multi-million dollar homes in majority white neighborhoods like tony Park Slope pay a small fraction of the tax rate shouldered by the largely black population of working class Jamaica, Queens.

If the judge denies their request they could still file as private citizens.

“You can’t have people pay the same property taxes to a $9 million house in Park Slope as a $300,000 house in Bed-Stuy.” said (((Jonathan Lippman))), who represents the group.

The parties argued about the council members at a Manhattan Supreme Court hearing Wednesday.

“The city was objecting that the legislating branch shouldn’t be heard in opposition to the executive branch,” Lippman said.

“The judge said he would take that in consideration, and our position is that the city council members should be heard,” Lippman added.

Lippman’s colleague, attorney James Brandt said that “it’s time for the mayor to hold true to his commitments during his reelection campaign and join us in our cause to reform a discriminatory and unlawful property tax system.”

A city Law Department spokesman said, “We are not opposed to the effort by these council members to be heard on this important issue to the extent that they represent their views as individuals and not as city officials representing the legal position of the City Of New York.”

One of the affected homeowners, Arthur Russell, was in court with his wife Eugenia Regester-Russel. They bought their brick, tudor style home on 227th Street in Jamaica, Queens in 1965.

“I’m paying all these taxes, what am I getting for my dollars?” Russell said, who is black.

“You’re not seeing any proportionate changes in the community. I don’t see any added services. Our intent is to level the playing field,” Russell said.