Madame Chair

The Commercial Observer: Congratulations on becoming chairwoman for the Real Estate Board of New York. What will be your first order of business as chairwoman?
Ms. Tighe: Last week, I met with the executive committee of REBNY. In the last quarter of 2009, I joked that I went on a listening tour, where I met with as many members as I could of the board of governors and the executive committee and as many of the past chairmen as were able to find time to meet. [REBNY president] Steve Spinola, his staff and myself put together priorities for REBNY to focus on in 2010. We talked to the executive committee and got their sign-off on those priorities, and we’ve begun to organize ourselves around those priorities.

And what are those priorities?
We put together a collection of priorities that really are aimed not only at real estate but also at things we believe are critical for the well-being of the city. The first priority is to advocate for programs that incentivize job creation and retention in New York City, and we’re actually making a specific proposal, which our economic development committee has put together for the [Economic Development Corporation], for tax credits related to people who are bringing new employees to the city. The second priority is to advocate for fiscal discipline at the city and state level. The third priority is to work with all relevant parties to encourage the development of affordable housing. The fourth is to advocate for a better and stronger Buildings Department.
We think they’ve done a great job on dealing with security at construction sites, but, meanwhile, there are a number of hurdles that need to be overcome in terms of making the management side of the operation flow better so we can be ready for the next construction cycle. Also, we’re concerned because the unemployment rate among the construction trades is 25 percent in the city right now, and there are over 500 projects that are stopped; so we want to work, in general, with the city to try to deal with unemployment in the trades as well as some of the jobs that are troubled.
Another priority is that we want to seek more federal infrastructure dollars because New York City has not gotten its fair share.
We want to support immigration reform, and, finally, we want to encourage everyone to participate in the 2010 census.

Looking inward, do you have a cohesive vision for REBNY?
REBNY’s structure is a strong and very healthy structure. I think if there was any area of focus, it’s that we want to continue to expand the membership. We’re 12,000 strong now, but we want to bring in more young members.

You mentioned the Buildings Department. With REBNY being such a powerful lobby, I’d love to hear your opinion of Mayor Bloomberg.
There’s no official REBNY stance on the mayor, except to say that the city has flourished under his leadership and that in this very difficult economic time for the city, we all feel blessed that such a skilled businessman and manager is at the helm. So I think we can only feel very positive that he’s leading us these next four years.

Take off your REBNY hat. What’s your personal opinion about Bloomberg?
I personally believe everything I just said. This is a case where there’s just a period of stress on a lot of the different systems in the city, and it is a very happy thing to wake up in the morning and know crime is down in New York. It’s a wonderful thing to realize that there are fewer deaths in the Fire Department. And it’s wonderful to know he’s continuing to fight the good fight for the schools of the city, and our role at REBNY is to make sure the physical environment keeps up with his grand vision.

Madame Chair