Joseph Strasburg, Landlords’ Super in Albany

Location: You deal mostly with Albany, right? Mr. Strasburg: The City Council has other responsibilities in terms of their policies,

Location: You deal mostly with Albany, right?

Mr. Strasburg: The City Council has other responsibilities in terms of their policies, but clearly, in terms of what’s more important, it is Albany.


How’s that been going this past session?

There is a level of dysfunctionality in Albany. At least at the City Council, they’ll notice a bill, they’ll have a public testimony, you’ll debate it, and it’s rare that any legislation will make it out the first time out. It’s a deliberative process.

Not in Albany?

Nobody wants to negotiate. Because the feeling was—it was like, ‘We don’t have to negotiate. We believe we have the votes, and we’re going to do what we want to do.’


It seemed like this spring, when tenant advocates seemed like they may repeal vacancy decontrol, they were either going to go all the way, or they weren’t.

Everybody was focused on vacancy decontrol, and I honestly will tell that I expected at least a discussion.


This past spring, you focused on a few key Democrats?

Five to six Democrats.

[Coup leader Pedro] Espada.

Historically, the energies of the industry were more focused on the Republican control [in the Senate], and nothing happened on the Assembly—it didn’t matter what the Assembly did. But we did have long-term relationships with Democratic senators, regardless.

This year, there was a greater emphasis in terms of … dealing with senators who we deemed to be reasonable. … I actually believe that had the issue been brought to the floor—vacancy decontrol—and people were left to vote the way they wanted to, I believe there were not enough votes to pass this.


Malcolm Smith—both sides suggested he had said he was on their side.

Not suggest—I’m telling you what he said, and the other side will tell you what he said. And the frustration was: Where was Malcolm? It was like Malcolm in the Middle. The question was, where was he really?


Does it come up again in 2011 when vacancy decontrol expires?

Once it expires, you have to deal with it.


So is 2011 going to be a big fight?

It’s possible that we may be fighting this issue at this time next year.


Do you think a major overhaul would happen in 2011?

Absolutely not. That requires some foresight, and planning. And so I believe that [legislators] go in terms of the direction that has the least pressure politically to them. So what will happen is that 2011, you’ll still have a Democratic governor, you may or may not have a Democratic Senate, but what will happen is that there will be some changes that have been advocated, but it’s the same cycle of ideas, instead of well-thought-out—how do you make these changes from a long-term perspective?


Joseph Strasburg, Landlords’ Super in Albany