[Rushtalk] How Donald Trump Tried to Use the Homeless as a Weapon to Throw Obstinate Tenants on the Street | Nomadic Politics]

Carl Spitzer cwsiv at juno.com
Sun Jul 31 19:04:15 MDT 2016

Democrats are digging deep on this one trying to dish the dirt.   But
considering rent control creates a shortage which democrats can not
understand we can see his point about clearing out poor democrats for
rich democrats.   The best rent control is more housing but then with
NYC being socialist perhaps its time the productive join Rush in exile.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How Donald Trump Tried to Use the Homeless as a Weapon to Throw
Obstinate Tenants on the Street 

by Nomad

Back in the 1980s, property developer, Trump pulled out all stops to
evict tenants from their homes and out into the street. He was even
ready to use New York's homeless as a tool in his scheme.

Trump and the Tenants

In the early 1980s, Donald Trump had a dream of putting his personal
stamp on the Manhattan skyline. It meant a lot to him to establish
himself as something more than the son of Fred Trump.

He had been determined to show the world that he was far more crafty and
a lot more ambitious than his father. Fred Trump had worked his own
property magic in Brooklyn but son Donald wanted to show the world- and
himself- that he was bigger than that.   So, in a literal and figurative
sense, Trump was ready to cross the bridge between middle-class hum-drum
Brooklyn to the fabulous upper-class domains of Manhattan.

And in that regard, Trump had already made a name for himself with a
string of home runs in the late 1970s, such as the development of
property owned by the bankrupted Penn Central Railroad. As a
twenty-eight-year-old unknown, Donald had to reply on his father's
political connections to seal the deal.  The project offered to Trump
reportedly included a lot of sweeteners, like tax abatements.
That property would later become the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Then, after establishing his reputation as a deal-maker with his own
political connection, Trump was ready for his next golden opportunity.

Mr. Trump had paid just $13 million for 100 Central Park South and the
building adjoining it, the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, in 1981. It was prime
real estate overlooking Central Park. 
Indeed, it was considered to be one of the city’s most desirable blocks.

And Trump had audacious ideas in his head. His proposal included the
demolition of the building and its neighbor- which he also owned. He
then planned to construct a luxury high-rise condominium complex facing
Central Park. It must have seemed like money in the bank.

There was only one hitch. 
The residents of the a 15-story, 80 apartment building refused to budge.
They had no intention of being pushed out of their homes.

Nearly all of the tenants were paying well below market rates. To make
matters worse, there were laws that protected tenants and those
regulations stood in Trump's way of his dream. True they were sitting on
a gold mine, but the law was on their side. No bully could force them
out, or could he?

His first move was not to negotiate but, according to the lawyers for
the tenants, to intimidate. He reportedly spread the rumor that all
tenants were to be evicted from the premises immediately.
According to one tenant, one day Trump gathered them together and told

        "I am Donald Trump. Get out of our building." 

Whether those were his exact words, we can never know. However,
apparently, his attitude was that the tenants were little better than
obstacles, or squatters on his premises.
It was to be a disastrous and expensive miscalculation on his part.

Trump and the Law

As our source points out, rent control regulations were actually written
to guard tenants against the whims of landlords and the market. And that
was essentially the case in this issue. 
Even today, the state laws limit the owners rent increases. In addition,
they guarantee the renters the right to stay. For Donald Trump, that
amounted to a big headache. 

Normally, property developers would attempt to buy out the tenants. It's
a common tactic.
        A large cash offer to vacate might have proved irresistible to
        many of them- particularly if it had been made before the
        tenants' association was formed and lawyers were hired.
But Trump thought he and Citadel management, (the company he had hired
to manage the building) could save a fortune by a little DIY - Trump
style. By intimidation and by what most people would consider
underhanded tactics, Trump could force the tenants to submit. 
There were legal but cheap tricks, like ordering the window of all
vacant apartments be covered with aluminum foil. Tenants charged that
this was designed to make the building look like a wreck in order to
gain support for Trump's demolition plan. 
In his defense, Trump said there wasn't anything illegal about the
decision. Indeed, it was, he countered, a common thing to do with
abandoned apartments.. 

Other actions were less defensible. Building maintenance was neglected,
with leaks and broken appliances left unrepaired. Tenants claimed that
elevators were disconnected, water was shut off. 
One of Trump's managers who handled the day-to-day building maintenance
supposedly put it this way:
        What quality of service do you give to tenants that you're
        trying to get rid of?

Intimidation and Fear

As bad as that was, the tactics went beyond simple neglect. 
There was also legal intimidation, tenants claimed to the newspapers and
media. They claimed that Citadel was attempting to use the law as a
weapon and a tool to harass the tenants. 
For example, unjustified eviction notices from Mr. Trump’s lawyers were
delivered to the building tenants. In one case, the tenant was told that
he was late in his rental payment, when in fact, he was not. He proved
it with a canceled check. In another case:
        Others who had done construction on their apartments, with the
        approval of prior landlords, were told that they had 10 days to
        restore them to their original conditions.
It was clearly taking a more sinister turn. Some tenants claimed that
the management company had hired detectives to investigate their private
lives to find some reason to force them out.
Said the president of the tenants' committee,

        "We were told by the superintendent that they were going to
        looking into our sex lives, our drinking.. is anyone a
        homosexual or lesbian.. where were all the weak spots of the
The intimidation proved to be ineffective and tenants and their lawyers
simply dug their heels in.

Another bit more subtle approach Trump took was to try to convince to
sell out in a panic, convincing them they would never get the kind of
money they were asking.
They would eventually be forced out, they were told, and they had better
take the offer while it last or they could very well be on the street
with nothing at all. The attempt to create a stampede of fear had the
opposite effect and forced the people of 100 Central Park South to come
together in their mutual defense. In order words, they began
interviewing lawyers.

Had they been slightly less affluent and less savvy, that option of
fighting back would have been unlikely. As naive as they might have
been, they were prepared to stick to the guns even in the face of the
sophisticated PR campaign Trump launched against them. 

The Very Generous Offer

The battle between the mogul and the tenants turned out to be an epic

Neither side in the war was afraid to use publicity and public pressure
to get their side across.  The apartment dwellers claimed that Trump
would stop at nothing to get them out and they in turn they fought tooth
and nail to save their homes, clinging with white knuckles to their

One particular tactic certainly reveals Trump's darker side. 
        In July 1982, Trump came up with an idea of his own for 100
        Central Park South. Several tenants had died and more than a
        dozen apartments in the building were empty. Trump decided to
        offer the apartments to the city for use by homeless. Trump says
        that he was just being altruistic. ... At the same time, he
        acknowledged that installing homeless people at 100 Central Park
        South wasn't likely to make tenants happy and might even prompt
        some of them to move out. 
Whatever Trump's motivation, no one was likely to view his offer as pure
altruism. Sure enough, the city said no thanks. 
        Robert Trobe, an H.R.A. deputy administrator, ... refused the
        offer, a spokesman says, because ''it did not seem appropriate
        to house clients in a building slated for demolition.''
In effect, Trump would have utilized the homeless as a weapon in his war
against the tenants, and then, after winning the battle, he (or more
likely, a few hired thugs/management security guards) would have
promptly returned them to the less dreamlike New York City sidewalks.

After the city's polite refusal, Trump told reporters:
        ''The apartments are there; they're heated; they've got hot and
        cold water; they have the most beautiful views."
He also added that city official should have taken him up on his offer
because he was "totally serious."  

When he was recently asked about the offer to house the homeless, Trump
        “I actually thought it was a very generous offer. I don’t want
        to see people out on the streets.”
Like many things Trump has said, there is a prevailing unintentional
irony. After all, here was a super-rich property developer supposedly
offering shelter to the homeless while at the same time, desperately
trying to turn obstinate tenants into.. well, homeless. All in order to
build an apartment complex exclusively for the super rich. 

Unsurprisingly, not everybody was convinced of Trump's sincerity. In
fact, the offer sparked the interest of New York columnist Sydney
Schanberg who decided to put Trump's sense of philanthropy to the test.
Schanberg was doubtful that Trump's offer had been made from a sense of

According to the 1985 article, Schanberg received a letter from one
Charles Sternberg, who was the head of the International Rescue
Committee. The letter sought a little advice from Schanberg about
whether Trump makes might those vacant apartments available to Polish
refugees who were in need of temporary housing. 

Incidentally, Sternberg was himself a war refugee who fled his native
Czechoslovakia in 1938, prior to the Nazi takeover. This was a man who,
unlike the Trump, clearly had a passion for humanitarian causes.
Furthermore, Sternberg knew what a bully looked like.

Journalist Schanberg was skeptical but replied that Sternberg should
definitely write directly to Trump. Whether Trump read the letters or
not is not certain. We do know that Sternberg's two letters went
(Years later when he was asked, Trump said he didn't recall ever getting
any of Sternberg's letters and knew nothing about the offer.)

For Schanberg, it was proof positive that Trump was never serious about
helping the city's homeless. It had all been a PR stunt and a means of
driving the tenants out.
 For a later expose/documentary (which Trump successfully suppressed),
Schanberg stated his verdict on the matter:

        "Trump doesn't give a rat's hoot about poor people who might be
        living on sidewalks outside his building. He talks a good game,
        but he lacks character."
It had all simply been a tactic and an extraordinarily hypocritical one
at that.

Redefining Defeat

In March 1986, after a five-year battle, Mr. Trump officially abandoned
his plans to demolish the building at 100 Central Park South.  

Characteristically Trump found a way to paint his defeat into a victory.
He told reporters that he had changed his plan because the knocking down
the old building and constructing the new one would have taken several

By renovating the existing building, he said, he could "take advantage
of the strong real-estate market now." As if the Manhattan property
values for land overlooking Central Park would collapse at any time.

In fact, a few months before the announcement, Trump had withdrawn his
application for eviction and demolition. for more than a year, Trump had
been fighting charges of tenant harassment. Witnesses told the
authorities of "deteriorating conditions in the building, including
faulty elevators and bare light bulbs in hallways, and he showed a
picture of mushrooms growing under a rug." 

Meanwhile, an aide to Trump, Thomas Macari, was telling reporters that
the tenants were simply engaging in "blackmail" and wouldn't have
launched such an action if it hadn't been a man of as high a stature as
Donald Trump.
After ten and a half months of hearings, the state of New York had
decided that the tenants had probable cause of harassment.

If harassment had been proved in court, his petitions for eviction and
demolition would have been voided. He was also facing a fine of as much
as $50,000. Not to mention the damage to his image- which is also
important to a man like Trump.
To prevent that, Trump pulled out of the project altogether.

After Trump's announcement, New York State Division of Housing and
Community Renewal had, in turn, ordered him to offer tenants in
rent-stabilized apartments an option choosing one- or two-year lease
renewals. The tenants in rent-controlled apartments were not required to
sign leases. In other words, the tenants had won and were allowed to
remain, paying their existing rents.

When the news of the property developer's change of heart was announced,
the tenants weren't fooled by Trump's posturing. They knew that he had
dropped efforts to evict them because he knew he could not win.

As David Rozenholc, an attorney for the 60 tenants, said:

        ''It means that we have won. He tried to throw the tenants into
        the streets and he can't do that.''
Trump then and Trump now doesn't like to hear those kinds of curbs on
his exorbitant ambition. Laws, regulations, and protections must be
demolished to satisfy his self-centered desires.   

Eventually, Trump converted the building into condominiums and even
today, decades later, the renters who fought Trump and won, still live
in their apartments.

They must be watching this year's presidential election with a mixture
of concern and amazement as the bully mogul appears poised to claim the
nomination as his personal trophy.
As one recent article noted:
        One can see Mr. Trump waging a much different sort of campaign,
        but with many of the same tactics — the threats, the theatrics,
        the penchant for hyperbole- that he has deployed in his quest
        for the Republican presidential nomination.
Early in the campaign, the tenants could have given some advice to the
Republican party,

 Either you stand up to Trump using whatever tools you have or you will
               find yourself evicted from your own home. 

Of course, now that option has passed. The GOP is learning the hard way
what happens when you let Trump do as he likes.

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