Monday, August 27, 2007


The Oread Daily will be taking a short time out. The OD will return to active duty on or about September 5th....

See y'all later...


It happens here, there and everywhere. Gentrification. It's been going down for decades. But this time, in East Harlem's El Barrio, residents have had enough.

"It is hard to believe, but the new owners are worse," said Juan Haro to the New York Daily News. Haro is a leader of the Movement for Justice in El Barrio, a community organization that for over two years has battled abusive landlords in East Harlem.

Last March, Dawnay, Day Group, a giant British corporation, bought from landlord Steve Kessner 47 rent-stabilized and rent-controlled buildings in East Harlem for some $250 million.

Kessner was a powerful landlord who the tenants battled through protests, street marches and court actions. He was forced to make hundreds of repairs and, finally, got out of East Harlem.

"Instead of the powerful landlord evicting the immigrants, the immigrants evicted the powerful landlord," Haro said at the time.

Ah, but it is then that things took yet another turn.

It seems the British corporation which bought the property had plans - gentrification plans. Phil Blakely, the company's director, told The Times of London in March a little about those plans.

In that interview Blakely made clear his intention to take advantage of lax tenant protection laws in New York to displace current tenants and raise rents tenfold.

The corporation isn't just looking at New York.

Mr Blakeley said recently: “Our intention is to build up. We are not just looking at New York — that is just a start. Our aim is to have in excess of $5 billion within a short period — within a few years.”

Anyway, as so many Americans from here, there and around the corner can tell you one way landlords, be they some lone jerk, or some international corporation go about clearing an area is by simply letting everything fall down on their tenants.

And that is exactly what has been going down in East Harlem.

Cristina Ortega will tell you that the landlord is trying hard to make life miserable for working-class tenants.

Her case, Ortega told the Daily News, is an example of the landlord's tactics. Her apartment's bathroom ceiling caved in more than a month ago - and has not been repaired yet.

Conditions are dangerous. While taking a shower, Ortega's 16-year-old daughter was hit on the head by a large piece of the ceiling. A few days later, her 15-year-old daughter was rushed to the hospital after another falling piece injured her eyes.

"I notified HPD," Ortega said. "They have done nothing."

Azucena Rodriguez, 29, who lives at 316 E. 117th St., said her landlord, Dean Realty, hasn't done much-needed repairs like fixing locks, creating a haven for drug dealers, prostitutes and alcoholics.

"They're tearing the community apart. They're destroying the culture. They're transforming it so that it can be a community for the wealthy, similar to midtown Manhattan," Juan Haro, who heads Movement for Justice in El Barrio in East Harlem, told Newsday.

Besides letting residences disintegrate, Movement for Justice says the corporations used other tactics to get rid of the people. These include:

Bribing tenants with money to get them to abandon their apartments.

Attempting to collect more money from tenants by making false charges for repairs and legal fees.

Sending threatening letters falsely accusing tenants of overcrowding.

Now, the residents of East Harlem are largely Latino and have a pretty militant organization working with them. But you don't have to be Latino or African-American to be gentrified right out of your home.

In Philadelphia, for example, the white working class neighborhoods of Fairmount, Fishtown and Kensington have been or now are dealing with ongoing development and displacement.

Working people and the poor have very little political or economic defense against developers who want to buy up their crumbling apartments and rehab them into luxury condos and lofts, and city and state governments are only too pleased to ease the way for this transition.

And, of course, another group often victimized is the elderly.

Take the case of Marie Tinghitella a 90 year old resident of Williamsburg neighborhood in New York.

One day out of the blue she received a Marshals Notice of Eviction to vacate the apartment that she called home for the past 50 years. With the Support of a community group, Saint Nicholas and Legal Aid for the Aging she was able to vacate the eviction notice for a couple months while she searched an affordable and decent place to leave. She was lucky, I suppose.

The conversions of old rental apartments to new condos significantly reduce the number of rental housing units needed for people who will never have the means to even consider owning a home. What happens to these people?

The Low Income Housing Coalition says while two-thirds of the nation's households now own their homes, the remaining portion goes underserved. Low-income citizens are referred to as "those people" and the government is not doing as much for them as it does for owners.

"The picture that has been painted about home ownership has in a way demonized renters,'' Sheila Crowley president of the group said. "They are seen as the ones that have been unable to get there, despite the all the programs the government has pushed to get under way. There's an over desire to own, but there has not been the federal investment in rental housing that there should be.''

Development is, of course, not all bad. It's exciting to see dead urban center and old neighborhoods come back to life again. However, when the developers run roughshod over the long time residents who will be priced right out with little or no consideration, that is very bad. When low cost and affordable housing is eliminated with no thought for where the people who are in desperate need of such are to go, that is very bad.

According to the low income housing coalition, only 6.2 million homes are renting at prices affordable to the 9 million extremely low-income renter households a shortage of 2.8 million homes. Housing is considered affordable if it costs no more than 30 percent of household income.

Not everybody can own. It's critical to restore, produce and offer incentives for developers to construct affordable rental units - not just fancy new condos.

The following is from amNew York.

El Barrio residents protest gentrification
By Kristen V. Brown

Scared their neighborhood will be the next to succumb to gentrification and unaffordable rent increases, hundreds of protesters rallied in El Barrio Sunday against "greedy" landlords.

The protest, organized by the advocacy group Movement for Justice in El Barrio, called for a stop to the gentrification the group says is forcing out tenants of the East Harlem neighborhood and the "bad government" it claims has allowed landlords to treat tenants poorly.

Otoniel Santiago, who pays $1,100 a month for the two-bedroom apartment he lives in with his wife and two children, says his landlord has been piling extra charges on his bill -- up to $3,000 total one month -- with no explanation.

"They said I had to pay or they would take legal action," he said at the protest held at 116th Street and Lexington Avenue. "I think they want us to get tired and move out, then they will bring in people who will pay $1,700" a month.

Juan Haro, the group's director, said similar tactics have been used in buildings throughout East Harlem.

Prices per square foot in East Harlem skyrocketed 39.5 percent between 2005 and 2006, according to a recent study by the appraisal firm Miller Samuel -- the largest increase in housing costs anywhere in Manhattan.

The protesters, who yelled "Hell no we won't go," and the Spanish equivalent, "aqui estamos y no nos vamos," later moved their protest to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development's assistance center at on Seventh Avenue. There, the group set up tents and handed out awards to what it claims are the three worst landlords in the neighborhood: Dean Realty, Nasir Sasouness and the London-based Dawnay, Day Group. The grand prize of the day, however, went to the city housing agency.

"If HPD would enforce housing laws, landlords would not be able to take advantage of tenants," Haro said.

Calls to the landlords for comment were not returned by press time. A spokeswoman for the city's housing agency told Newsday that the agency has "spurred the preservation and reconstruction of neighborhoods throughout the city."

According to Anna Bragg, 49, an El Barrio resident her whole life, gentrification in El Barrio has been under way for 15 to 20 years, although it didn't become a prominent concern for neighborhood organizations until 2000.

The Movement for Justice in El Barrio plans to continue protesting until local government passes legislation to regulate housing costs and prevent gentrification from forcing El Barrio residents from their homes. They are presently raising suit against the Dawnay,m Day Group and planning a trip to London to protest in front of its headquarters.


While inside defense contractors peddled virtual simulators, combat-ready laptops and a variety of other wares of war, outside U.S. National Guard Association conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico thousands protested in the street.

"We're here protesting a war circus," said Enrique Romero, an actor who presided over Sunday's protest and quoted at Hispanic Business.

It was the first time in at least 25 years, the association's chairman said, that the National Guard's convention was met with protest.

Hispanic Business reports when the school year began this month, independence activists were posted at high schools around the island getting students to sign "opt-out" forms, which prohibit military recruiters from contacting them.

"We don't want our youth going to war, dying in war or coming back from war ill with post-traumatic stress disorder," said Ivan Broida, a volunteer with Live in Peace who helps circulate the forms.

Nearly 60 percent of Puerto Rican high school students have signed them, compared to the average of 10 percent elsewhere in the United States.

Back inside the convention hall the Governor of Puerto Rico received loud applause and a standing ovation from the gathered guardsmen when he called for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

The following arrived in my e-mail box this AM.

Protest for peace and against “tourism of death” promoted by National Guard Asssociation in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN. 8/26/07 – An alliance of thousands of Puerto Ricans from dozens of religious, labor, environmental and cultural groups; representatives of political parties, anti war and youth organizations, pro- Vieques and pro – independence activists held today a peaceful massive demonstration for peace and against the American National Guard Association’s 129th Annual Convention, being held in San Juan during this week end.

The protesters also called for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than seventy Puerto Rican soldiers have died so far, and demanded that local soldiers be brought from overseas.

Coordinators of the event criticized the military Convention that brought to Puerto Rico more than five thousand members of the Association, as well as U.S. Congressmen, armed forces generals and Republican presidential candidate John McCain. With them came the eight most important weapons and battle equipment moguls to exhibit and sell their wares: Lockeed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, EADS and L-3 Communications.

The local Government was also criticized for sponsoring the convention, and for hosting an organization that “promotes violence and a new kind of tourism that focuses on death and destruction”, and letting the military and their suppliers use Puerto Rico’s national territory as an “open market” for selling state of the art battle equipment and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that are being used against innocent people in Asia, Africa and the rest of the World.

Activists also said the same Government that claims having financial problems is sponsoring the National Guard Convention and organizing special activities and receptions, labeled it as “shameful” and called for an investigation on how much the Government will spend in honoring death and war when our country faces a financial crisis.

Local newscasters covering the convention informed this evening that while outside people condemned the war in Iraq, inside the Conventions Center, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, was addressing the Convention. He said the war in Iraq will continue for several more decades and that eventually the United States will prevail for ideological reasons.

Today’s activity was part of a series of events that were held during this weekend to protest war, promote peace and condemn the National Guard Association’s presence in Puerto Rico and its military series of events.

Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano
Comisión Nacional de Comunicaciones


I thought I might brighten up your day with these comments which were made on the web site Keep and Bear Arms in response to last weeks OD article "Left Wing Wackos for Guns."

Please note, on their web site, first they post the opening paragraph from the OD article (from that their zany readers can then read the whole thing) and then the fun begins...

If you haven't read the original OD post, you might want to check it out before browsing the comments below.

Remember, whether you support or oppose gun control, whether you have or do not have a gun, the fine folks below are armed. Just something to keep in mind.

The following comments are from Keep And Bear Arms .com.

Comment by: Pat (8/25/2007)
Funny, I'm a "right wing nut" with a gun, and I'm "sitting behind locked doors hoping no knocks come in the night." I guess he doesn't have a category for me.


Comment by: mitch (8/25/2007)
I'm not dreading the knock at night. I know that if they come, they won't bother knocking.


Comment by: AvgJoe (8/25/2007)
What an idiot. The writing of a sick mind that lives in a sick make believe world.


Comment by: Harbinger (8/25/2007)
He compiles his list of what we "need" a little differently than I do. Beware of people who decide what other people need.
I don't know how he reckons "right-wing nuts" will still have their guns with impunity. Maybe he belives the government is too conservative, like the media.
I don't know what his felony conviction was for, and I don't need to. If it was nonviolent (or even not) he should be able to legally own a gun if he's not in a cell due to being a presistent danger to others. I guess he'd be amazed that a gun nut would say such a thing.
Even a libertarian one.
Either way, he's still trying to stir up the existing fear of people who already see the vital importance of an armed populace.


Comment by: Harbinger (8/25/2007)
And THAT, I think, is an effective tactic. By portraying the unorganized militia as reincarnated Nazis who want to dominate everyone, unless it's a leftist unorganized militia with duly registered (meaning "to be held until called for") guns.
At least it's better than saying all the guns should be taken away (except his wife's and his friends' etc.) He understands the balance of power if not the mind of the patriot.


Comment by: madashell (8/25/2007)
At one time in this country both democrats and republicans for the most part rejected gun control that is until the summer of 1965.

I remember setting in church listening to the whispers about how Blacks were going to rape all the white women and burn down all the white owned stores. Old women with quivering lips gossiping about something happen 200 miles away as if it were next door.

I also remember the Town Hall meetings put on by the ISRA/NRA and how they browbeat Illinois gun owners into accepting the FOID card compromise.

I even remember police telling gun owners not to worry about the FOID card; it was just a temporary measure to control Blacks.


Comment by: madashell (8/25/2007)
The Feds used an adulterated version of the Black Panther coloring book that was created by the FBI to heighten the fear of black violence among whites. You see they sent a copy of the little book to county level government people knowing it would be shared with the local people. I still have a copy of that little book today.

It’s funny as hell now looking at the pictures of Blacks wearing Afro’s hold 2 ft long knives saying things like “Oft the Piggs” but in the middle 1960’s it scared the Hell out of people.

We have been lead down a garden path of reasonable gun control in the name of fear by the people we trusted, the church, NRA and our elected government officials.


Comment by: mike1911 (8/25/2007)
Most people that are a leftist, progressive, or liberal are in reality socialist. What this guy doesn’t want to admit is that for a socialist form of government to survive the general population must be disarmed.


Comment by: "Free"InPA (8/25/2007)
"Most people assume that if you are a leftist, or a progressive, or just a plain old liberal you must be anti-gun."

We dont have to assume it, you have a long history of being just that. Even in this story to try to sway peoples attitudes it mentions "needs" when referring to rights. No one knows better what I need than I do. Hell, I believe everyone who wants to should have as many full auto weapons as they wish to own, it is their bussiness and unless they abuse the right they should be left alone. I also do not care if someone has a "felony" conviction, if they are free then they have been deemed safe and have as many rights as you or I do, period.


Comment by: "Free"InPA (8/25/2007)
I agree with many of the things stated in the article about freedom to be left alone to choose what is best for ones self in life.
(If that is what the "Left Wing Whackos" really believed in, I believe we would not be where we are now in this country. If their true intent were to abide by the Constitution and not subvert it, we would not be where we are now. What the "social liberal" wants is to change this Republic of ours into a socialist/Marxist State. They may try to change tactics when it comes to the 2nd amendment because they lose politically on the issue, but I believe their goals are still the same, destroy this country.


Comment by: "Free"InPA (8/25/2007)
The second amendment is not about overthrowing our constitution, it is to make sure we have the means to rid ourselves of the people who would pervert it, such as a socialist/liberal.

Molon Labe!!


Comment by: (8/25/2007)
madashell--PLEASE contact me.


Comment by: (8/26/2007)
This clown says he is not anti-gun, then he proceeds to show that he is exactly that. All that was missing was the standard line of 'I support the 2nd Amendment but...'


Comment by: Asc (8/26/2007)
The FOID is meant to be temporary, because they intend there to be no FOs to ID eventually.

The liberals who claim to not be anti-gun seem to think that "anti gun" means only "I support an utter and total ban on all firearms right now." Anything short of that is not "anti gun" to them.


Comment by: Asc (8/26/2007)
The FOID is meant to be temporary, because they intend there to be no FOs to ID eventually.

The liberals who claim to not be anti-gun seem to think that "anti gun" means only "I support an utter and total ban on all firearms right now." Anything short of that is not "anti gun" to them.


Comment by: . (8/26/2007)
interesting about Reagan, the Black Panthers..definitely didn't know that, a bit before my time. The more one knows of Ron, the less appealing.

""Early gun control laws were directed at oppressed peoples, such as slaves and freedmen, and the politically powerless, such as immigrants and religious minorities"

Late gun control laws are directed at everyone...EOE-equal opportunity enslavement.

"Polls..clear that ordinary Americans are not the ones clamoring for strict gun control. It comes from ..academics, Hollywood stars, Wash. insiders and multibillion-$ media conglomerates. I don't belong to any of those groups."

but like them, you vote Dem., continuing the cycle.


Comment by: (8/26/2007)
Even the Communist Party USA advocates buying firearms to be used in what they refer to as the inevitable "Workers' Revolution".