‘I’ve been there’: Mendez is running on her own record

Rosie Mendez.

Rosie Mendez.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON and HEATHER DUBIN | Councilmember Rosie Mendez is campaigning for re-election based on her track record of service over the past eight years.

She’s facing a challenge that she appears to be taking seriously from Pastor Richard Del Rio, who she accuses of being “a Republican masquerading as a Democrat.”

In several recent interviews, Mendez defended her record against Del Rio’s claims against her. Meanwhile, she charged that while Del Rio is attacking her, he has never held political office, and thus has no record to speak of.

Mendez questioned Del Rio’s knowledge of the New York City Housing Authority’s “infill plan” and the process. She said she attended meetings weeks after NYCHA announced a request for proposals [R.F.P.] last year, and that then Hurricane Sandy happened months later, shifting everyone’s focus toward dealing with the storm’s disastrous and drawn-out impact. Some NYCHA buildings were hit pretty hard during the storm, Mendez said, noting that certain buildings in Red Hook, Brooklyn, are still without working boilers.

“That the infill isn’t moving forward means the three of us representing the districts [Councilmembers Margaret Chin, Melissa Mark-Viverito and herself] were successful,” she said.

However, Mendez also asserted that the federal government has given its blessing to the controversial plan, and that it could proceed if the city wanted it to. But, due to the vehement opposition, the Bloomberg administration recently slowed down on the infill plan, and is now only requesting “expressions of interest,” rather than actual proposals from developers.

As an alternative revenue-raising measure for the cash-strapped authority, Mendez said, she supports rescinding a memorandum of understanding between NYCHA and the Police Department under which NYCHA must pay $75 million annually for police to patrol its developments. On the other hand, the infill plan was only expected to bring in $35 million to $50 million a year for the city.

As for the problem of rats in the Baruch bathhouse — which Del Rio blames her for allowing to fester — Mendez said rats are a stubborn problem in the district, in general. She is working with the Department of Sanitation and its Rodent Task Force to combat the problem with tactics like mint-scented garbage bags, special garbage cans and rat traps. Mendez said the Baruch bathhouse is empty and owned by the city’s Parks Department.

“Now, I’m concerned about the rats that are in playgrounds where the children are in,” she said.

Additionally, Mendez spoke at length about her vote on New York University’s 2031 plan. She explained she votes with her constituents in mind, and not always the way she feels on a given issue. In fact, almost all councilmembers say they generally vote with the “lead negotiator” on issues, which in this case was Margaret Chin, whose district contains the N.Y.U. South Village superblocks.

Mendez said the university’s massive project was scaled back, and that, in separate but parallel negotiations with N.Y.U., 200 to 300 affordable housing units at 505 LaGuardia Place — a Mitchell-Lama co-op with many long-term and senior tenants, on the southern superblock — were preserved.

“Many of my constituents were upset, but I’m not going to be apologetic for ultimately voting for something that also helped save and make permanent affordable housing,” she said.

“Alan was unable to get this,” Mendez said of Chin’s predecessor in the City Council, Alan Gerson, who actually lives in 505 LaGuardia. “Margaret Chin could get it.”

Also, Mendez added, it is preferable for N.Y.U. to build on its own superblocks than haphazardly at other sites throughout the area, as they find them.

“There would be sites throughout our three districts [Council Districts 1, 2 and 3] where they would be able to build — and build higher. Here they were able to build [some of the project] underground,” she said of the superblocks.

In terms of her attendance at City Council meetings, Mendez said she was present at 80 to 90 percent of the meetings for most of the past eight years.

“There was one year when my attendance was 78 percent,” she said. “My mother was hospitalized, and the speaker [City Council Speaker Christine Quinn] knew I had to leave and go to Puerto Rico. I’m sure my community understands in that given year I was there for my parents.” Another year she had knee surgery, which also contributed to absences.

“And that only takes into account official hearings,” Mendez noted. “It doesn’t count tenant meetings, block association meetings, garden association meetings, park events, school meetings.

“But more importantly, like — what has he done?” Mendez fired back at Del Rio. “CHARAS, Stanton St. Shul, St. Brigid’s, Con Edison — the pollutants, the expansion, the [stray voltage] accident that killed Jodie Lane — I’ve been there. He’s not been there. … He showed up for Sandy because he wanted to run.”

Del Rio is an active proponent of religious organizations using public schools for worship services when the schools are not in session. He currently holds church services at a public school in the East Village. Mendez said she strongly supports the U.S. Constitution, which mandates a very clear separation of church and state.

“That’s the issue he’s running on — church in schools,” she declared of Del Rio. “I haven’t seen him involved in anything but that issue. I’ve only seen him at City Hall on that issue.

“I let the Constitution be my guide,” she asserted. “And, in addition, as an out lesbian, I have issues with some of the organizations. They’re allowed to preach whatever they want to preach — I just don’t think they should be able to do it in a public place.

“I don’t go to church,” she added. “They don’t accept me [as a lesbian]. I used to go to St. Brigid’s.”

Asked about her personal beliefs, she said, “I was raised Catholic. I think I’m spiritual. I don’t embrace a certain religion right now. Spirituality comes in a number of different ways. The greatest part of spirituality is our humanity, particularly how we treat people in need.”

Although Del Rio aided the community after Sandy through relief efforts working with his church, Mendez touts her own record working with the area’s other local elected officials to restore services and help get people vital supplies.

“The only thing he ever did was Sandy,” Mendez stated. “He was telling people I wasn’t here [during Sandy] — a lot of lies. He made it sound like he was the only one here. I was walking up and down Avenue D with a bullhorn telling people to evacuate [before the storm].”

As for term limits, Mendez said she opposed overturning them legislatively, but that, in general, she doesn’t believe in them, except for certain powerful offices like the mayor and City Council speaker. This is why she is now running for a third term, despite having spoken out on the floor of the City Council in 2008 to oppose overturning term limits legislatively — even citing The Villager’s editorial on the subject when she did so.

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10 Responses to ‘I’ve been there’: Mendez is running on her own record

  1. I hope to God we get rid of Rosie and her cronies at GOLES. It's time for a change.

  2. "They’re allowed to preach whatever they want to preach — I just don’t think they should be able to do it in a public place."

    So she's not in favor of free speech ? How would she feel if told she can be openly gay – just not in public ?

  3. Guest 14:33, you know she is talking about using public buildings for worship services, so why pretend you don’t understand? Your comment is ridiculous. I am very concerned about the use of our taxpayer supported buildings for religious purposes. I certainly don’t want it and that’s reason enough for me to reject Del Rio.

    • What exactly is your concern ? The article says he RENTS the space. That's a good solution to raise funds. They should do more of it. Rent to churchs, theatre groups if there is an auditorium etc. You'd rather they build buildings in the middle of NYCHA ?

  4. Rosie continues to run on her "record" as a housing advocate, even though her NYCHA record is clear, clearly atrocious. Despite initially running as a housing advocate eight years ago, and chairing the Council's housing committee for the last four years, on her watch:

    // “Dozens of repair projects funded up to five years ago are 'zero percent complete.'” – NY Daily News, 8/14/13
    // NYCHA “sat on money given over the past six years to fix up apartments and playgrounds, install fire alarms, and meet federal standards for the handicapped.” – NY Daily News, 8/14/13
    // NYCHA’s “new — and far more expensive — parking permit system … is a wreck.” – NY Daily News, 8/14/13
    // “Seniors' apartments … stuck with disgusting floods of raw sewage and NYCHA excuses.” – NY Daily News, 8/9/13
    // “NYCHA, with cash on hand, has not installed cameras … where woman shot dead” – NY Daily News, 7/23/13
    // “NYCHA tenants in a hell of a fix as 369K repair requests remain outstanding.” – NY Daily News, 7/16/13
    // “High and mighty NYCHA: Luxury towers on leased land would 'look down' on projects” – NY Daily News, 6/11/13
    // “NYCHA refuses to make repairs on apartments and is blackmailing tenants: lawsuit” – NY Daily News, 5/17/13
    // “NYCHA among worst for requests for information” – NY Daily News, 4/23/13

    As lousy as her advocacy record is, her judgment is worse: “Mendez Stands by NYCHA” and defends its chairman: “I have to say, he’s done a good job.” – NY Times, 9/5/12

    Worst of all, her benefactors are privileged in the employment by NYCHA. Of her predecessor District 2 Council Member, Margarita Lopez — for whom Mendez worked and who hand-picked Mendez as successor — the NY Daily News reported just last month: “Margarita Lopez, who lost her $187,000-a-year job at NYCHA last month when the state cut back on unnecessary expenses, has a new gig at the same agency” (8/3/13).

    Indeed Rosie's record is clear. She's wrong on NYCHA, and wrong for District 2.

  5. Rosie talks a good game but does very little. Almost all accomplishments in our community were lead by residents. She's happy to take credit for the re-zoning but the East Village Community Coalition was responsible for that. She's on the Committee on Public Housing and good friends with Margarita Lopez who has done a poor job in getting repairs done at NYCHA. If it were a key issue for her then she has the means to help solve the problems. The money is waiting to be spent. Margarita lives in her building. She should just meet with her & say that you're making me look bad. DO something.

  6. If, "The only thing he ever did was Sandy,” as Mendez claims, then how could Rick Del Rio spearhead the largest Sandy relief site in lower Manhattan? When the Mayor's office came to Avenue D thinking they were going to create a relief site, they found hundreds of people who had been in line for days, receiving hot meals, water, blankets, flash lights, and more without a single violent incident or complaint: http://www.richarddelrio.com/sandyrelief. When the Mayor's office tried to co-opt the site as their own, the NYPD insisted that City Hall work with Rick and his team.

    That level of capacity and trust doesn't materialize overnight. It certainly doesn't come from drive by politicians and electioneers. When Rick invited Mendez to partner at the site and collaborate to insure the most good for the District, she sent a staffer. Rumor has it she made an appearance; but a Mendez sighting could not confirmed. Eight days after Sandy, she was on a flight to Puerto Rico. Rick was on his motorcycle supporting Sandy efforts in Staten Island, Coney Island, and Rockaway Island.

    Yes, Rick Del Rio was a Hurricane Hero after Sandy. But no more so than when he arrived at Ground Zero on 9/11, ten minutes after the second tower collapsed. No more so then when he came to the District in 1982 when it was the epicenter of NY's drug trade, or served as an NYPD police clergy liaison since the 1990s, a period of drug and gang violence. Or when he and his wife provided foster parenting for seven kids from the community.

  7. Con Ed ? Seriously ? What has ROSIE done with Con Ed ? They dig up the same whole in my street at least once a month. What exactly did she do for Jodie Lane ? The poor woman was killed by stray voltage. Anyone with half a brain would speak to them afterwards & tell them to be more careful. How about doing something to prevent the dangerous conditions that exist before someone gets hurt ? "Being there" is not good enough. How about being there and doing something ?

  8. Just like her complicity with the NYU 2031 Expansion Plan, constituents should watch Rosie Mendez and the NYCHA "infill plan."

  9. Anyone responsible for the following quote can kiss my vote goodbye: “I am unbelievably proud to call Margaret Chin my sister, my colleague and my friend.” — Rosie Mendez

    Indeed, anyone — yes, again, that would be you, Rosie — who utterly lacks the courage of her own convictions to vote against NYU 2031 when it mattered, instead electing to fall in line like a bleating sheep to Chin and Quinn’s roll call, shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near City Hall.

    http://thevillager.com/2012/07/19/n-y-u-2031-plan-wins-key-vote-by-council-committee/

    Let’s put the two sorry “sisters” out to pasture on Sept. 10th!

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