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

Tom Matiska tom.matiska at att.net
Sun Jul 31 22:02:59 MDT 2016

Interesting twist on events of 35 years ago.... not one word of which makes me want to vote for Hillary.    Tom
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Carl Spitzer <cwsiv at juno.com> wrote:

>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
>        tenants." 
>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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