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Albany dysfunction hurts co-op and condo owners

TimesLedger Newspapers

The co-op and condo community were abandoned this past week as the legislative season drew to a close in Albany. Three vital bills affecting the lives of every co-op and condo owner were left on the scrap heap of an adjourned state Legislature. The working class residents and seniors living on fixed incomes who mostly live in these communities struck out by a Legislature and governor that threw them nothing but curve balls:

• Strike 1 was the failure to renew the decades-old J51 program that provides millions of dollars to co-ops to help build and maintain their aging residential infrastructure.

• Strike 2 was the failure to renew the city co-op tax abatement program that provided co-ops with millions of dollars of tax relief as a way to partially correct the inherent unfairness of a tax system that taxes co-ops at significantly higher rates than single-family homes.

• Strike 3 was the failure to resolve the property tax valuation debacle of the past two years that led to double- and triple-digit increases in valuations on co-ops and condos throughout Queens.

While Team Cuomo extolls the success of this legislative session and politicians embark on summer-long vacations, we will soon begin to hear self-aggrandizing stories of their legislative accomplishments via press releases and taxpayer-funded newsletters. When their failures are exposed, they will point fingers at others to blame.

The blame for this colossal failure must be shared by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Senate and state Assembly leaders Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver — the proverbial “three men in a room” — and our elected officials whose “tireless efforts” produced zero results.

In business, you accept responsibility for failure and work even harder to produce better results next time. In politics, you never accept responsibility for failures and simply point fingers at others or blame partisan politics.

Where was the political leadership among our Assembly members to corral the Queens delegation to march into Silver’s office and demand action on these bills on behalf of hundreds of thousands of their constituents?

These are not politically sensitive issues like abortion or same-sex marriage. They are simply extenders of existing laws which already have a wide range of support for their renewal. I can assure you that if the legislation had passed, every elected official would have issued a press release and taken credit for it. If they can take credit for success, they must assume some responsibility for failure.

Until we begin to hold legislators accountable and not allow them to redirect blame to others, the dysfunction of Albany will continue. Co-op and condo owners will be paying a steep price over the next few years when their monthly maintenance assessments are forced to rise as a result of Albany’s dysfunction.

Bob Friedrich

President

Glen Oaks Village

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