RGB Boss Explodes Over Home-Rule Resolution

At the June 1 meeting of the city Rent Guidelines Board, Chair Marvin Markus exploded when tenant representatives tried to introduce a resolution on home rule. The meeting disintegrated when Markus, turning tomato-red, blurted, “Get the [expletive deleted] out of the room!” to Timothy Collins—the RGB’s former executive director and counsel—who had been prepared to give testimony on the resolution.
The resolution, read into the record by tenant representative David Pagan, was a non-binding “advisory” statement calling on the state legislature to repeal the Urstadt law and return power over rent and eviction regulations to the city of New York, so it could protect tenants from “abnormal rents, unnecessary evictions, [and] the loss of housing services.”
Markus had blocked earlier attempts by Adriene Holder, the other tenant representative, to get the resolution on the agenda. She had asked if it could be brought up during the discussion section of the meeting, and Markus told the room that she could add the resolution to the agenda, but that he would rule it out of order. Once Pagan read the resolution, and the tenant members tried to get a vote from RGB public and landlord members, Markus loudly voiced his objections, saying that the RGB had only one job, to vote increases for one- and two-year leases.
At that point, Collins, now a tenant lawyer, was preparing to explain the resolution. Markus was infuriated by the call for home rule, and ordered Collins to leave the testimony table and return to the audience chairs. When Markus demanded that RGB members vote on his motion to rule the home rule motion out of order, Collins commented that the activity was antidemocratic. Yelling that Collins was no expert on democracy, Markus ordered him out of the meeting, telling him to “get the [expletive deleted] out!”
The resolution that Collins and the tenant reps were pushing declared that the city was in a severe housing crisis and that the state government’s weakening of rent regulations had made it worse. Adding that upstate legi­sl­ators receive massive campaign contributions from city landlords and lack both “any real accountability to city residents” and “knowledge of and sensitivity to the City’s housing problems,” it concluded that “continued control of local housing programs by state legislators and officials is an affront to fundamental democratic principles and sound notions of good government.”
According to Collins, the RGB has done advisory resolutions in the past. In the 1980s, it passed a resolution that called on the state to change the Department of Housing and Community Renewal’s hardship formula to help landlords with rent rolls too low to support their buildings. Current landlord representative Harold Lubell was one of the members who voted for it.