We at YWN asked a key askan from the community, who is staying neutral in the race for city council, to sum up the details of the debate last night from the two front-runners: retired civil servant Joe Lazar and education advocate David Greenfield. The debate which was sponsored by the Jewish Press and moderated by Nachum Segal, was held at the Boro Park Y. The candidates debated a long list of issues important to the community for over two hours in front of hundreds of community residents. Here is our askan’s report from the debate on some of the important topics.
Why Their Experience Is Better:
Joe Lazar spoke about his experience as a financial director of the NYC Department of Buildings and a regional director of the NYS Office of Mental Health as reasons why he is a budget expert. He also went over his history at the department of buildings were he helped yeshivas, housing projects, and mental health institutions.
David Greenfield went over his history as an education advocate, partnering the parents of Catholic, Jewish and Independent students to create an umbrella group TEACH NYS. Through the advocacy of TEACH NYS, Greenfield was able to secure $600 million in tax credits for parents of school age children in New York, millions for computers in yeshivas, and most recently, free tutoring for thousands of yeshiva students throughout the city.
How They Will Approach The City Budget and Secure New Services:
Joe Lazar cited his experience in government as an example for how he would address the budget and secure services. Because he has a 40 year history of being in government, Lazar said he understands budgets and knows where to look in budgets. He said he would be able to look through budgets to find ways to reallocate money for the programs the community needs. Lazar doesn’t believe in starting new programs, but instead to look at the current programs we have to find new funding streams to fulfill the needs of the community. Finally, he believes there is money in the Federal stimulus that can be put to work.
David Greenfield believes he could use what he did at TEACH NYS and apply it to the city budget to find money that doesn’t exist and use innovative ways to deliver services for the community. One example, that he has already discussed with the Deputy Mayor, involves giving parents a $2,000 student transportation voucher instead of relying on the city’s varsity transportation that is both much more expensive and fails to meet the needs of many yeshiva parents. This would save yeshivas money, parents money, and the city money. He also believes in the philosophy that his primary mission if elected is to deliver for the people of this community and bring back funding, and he will fight for any and all programs, revenue streams, or funds that can help our neighborhood organizations and reduce the cost of living for our community.
How They Will Deal With Parking tickets:
Joe Lazar believes the city has gotten away from issuing tickets based on public safety or health safety and are now issued solely for revenue. He believes traffic agents should stop hiding behind cars or around corners and should instead be directing traffic.
David Greenfield went over a parking problem on erev shabbos when people park at meters on the major avenues. The one hour meters are in effect until 7pm, but shabbos starts at 5pm. This means even if a driver fed the meter at the latest time possible, they would still be parked at an expired meter from 6pm-7pm, and unfortunately, many drivers have gotten a ticket. Greenfield proposed a solution to the DOT Commissioner to install muni-meters that would allow drivers to pay the full amount on shabbos, a reasonable solution that doesn’t ask for special treatment. He also said he would propose legislation that would ask for equal traffic enforcement agents in each neighborhood, because our neighborhood is tired of being blitzed by more ticket agents than other neighborhoods every time the City needs money.
How They Will Create More Affordable Housing:
Joe Lazar cited his experience many years ago with the 15th Avenue gardens as an example of how he’s worked to build affordable housing in the community. He believes affordable housing is an extremely difficult issue because it spans so many different agencies. Lazar’s experience in government would allow him to cut through bureaucratic red tape and make sure agencies work together in order to get more affordable housing built.
David Greenfield proposed a targeted rezoning that would allow property owners of warehouses and commercial areas in the 60’s streets of Boro Park to build affordable housing units. His rezoning plan would allow that property owner to develop a warehouse or commercial property into a more profitable housing unit on the condition that the owner split the profits with the community by using the profit to lower the cost of those apartments for community residents. Greenfield also proposed moving the Sanitation Depot on 19th Avenue out of the neighborhood and building affordable housing there. Finally, Greenfield proposed lowering the property tax rates of condos to recognize many people in condos live on 14th Avenue, not Madison Avenue.
Votes on Controversial Issues Like Same-Gender Marriage:
Joe Lazar believes an elected official should take into account a little bit of both their personal views and the views of their constituents, when determining how to vote. Lazar said the public is the one that puts people into office and their wishes need to be met.
David Greenfield said he is a religious Jew, and very proud of his beliefs. He thinks people shouldn’t sell out their personal views for political expediency. Greenfield said he will take his values to City Hall, and not apologize for being religious.
(YWN Desk – NYC)