Friends and Family,
Although the outcome of last night's election was disappointing, I am extremely proud of our campaign. We advocated for the many needs of our community - affordable housing, responsible development, a vastly improved and accessible public education system, and a strong and independent government - bringing them to the forefront of the race.
I am so grateful to each of you - especially to Lindsay and the kids - for your incredible support throughout this campaign; financial, volunteer, or otherwise. It has been far from easy, yet it has been one of the most incredible and humbling experiences of my life. It has also been a phenomenal learning experience and marks a beginning for me rather than a closing or end to the work.
I look forward to continue working with each of you - including the many wonderful new friends I have been so fortunate to make - to ensure that the voices of our community are heard loud and clear. I also look forward to speaking with you as I determine the form that work will take. Stay tuned!
Noah on Education
Noah talks about the need to help small businesses and gets an endorsement from Josh!
LaborPress Interviews Noah on School Closures
Excerpt Taken from The WestSideRag
I grew up in New York City and Westchester. My grandparents immigrated to the Lower East Side from Russia so my kids are 4th generation New Yorkers.
Where are you from?I grew up in New York City and Westchester. My grandparents immigrated to the Lower East Side from Russia so my kids are 4th generation New Yorkers.
When did you move to the UWS?I have lived on the Upper West Side on and off since 1979. Moved here permanently with my family in 2003 after living and working in Europe.
What do you and your spouse do for a living?I have worked primarily in international economic development, and green and technology consulting/investment. More recently I have been a full-time parent of 3 and involved in their schools/public education on the CEC and other citywide public school parent organizations. My fiancée Lindsay Marx is an independent film producer.
How old are you? 53
Do you have children? Yes: Ella 14, Nathaniel 12, Tobias 9
Did you go to public school? Yes. From K-12
Do/did your children go to public school? Yes. Including one in a city-designated special needs program.
What’s your favorite Upper West Side restaurant? Gray’s Papaya, Super Taco Truck @ 96th St., Celeste, Chirping Chicken (20 others tied for 2nd place).
Are you involved in the real estate business in any way, or are your clients real estate developers?No. Have been in the past but not for quite a long time. I am a renter who would like to own but…
In two or three sentences, why are you running/what spurred your decision?For the past 12 years too many seniors, children and families, working people, and neighborhood small businesses have been left behind or pushed to the edge by overdevelopment and cuts to public programs. I want to ensure that the Upper West Side remains a great and diverse community and that those who built this community – as well as new families that move here – are able to live, work and retire here in dignity. Our community needs a strong representative voice in the City Council to carry on Gale Brewer’s work, and take it forward. I would like to be that voice.
In 200 words or less, describe some of the ways you’ve already been politically active in the neighborhood.I checked developers’ power as the Chair of CB5 Development Committee, and conceived of and co-founded New York Cares which each week serves tens of thousands of New Yorkers and Upper West Siders in need in our senior centers, schools, parks, and homeless shelters. I have been an environmental leader as CEO of one of New York’s largest recycling companies, and as President of Community Education Council District 3 (CEC3) – and the only Council candidate who sends his children to public schools – I have rallied thousands of public school parents and community members to fight Eva Moskowitz’s destructive charter school co-locations and relieve overcrowding at PS 199 and PS 87 by forcing the DOE to create PS452 and build a new school at Riverside Center. And in the past few months alone I have led our community’s successful fight against the demolition of PS 199 and PS 191 and planned replacement with luxury high-rises, and worked behind the scenes with the Comptroller’s office and Neighborhood in the 90’s to nullify the corrupt and wasteful 95th street shelter contract. I would like to continue this work in the City Council.
Housing and Development
Be honest with us: Is there any chance for a new generation of middle class people to be able to make it on the Upper West Side? What specific things can be done to make the neighborhood more affordable for middle class people?Not only is there a chance to create an Upper West Side that includes middle class people, but the quality of our neighborhoods depends on supporting middle-income families. Preserving existing affordable housing – via stronger rent regulations, increased rental subsidies programs, and using and mobilizing the numbers in our community to fight for and redress the imbalance that has favored landlords versus tenants – is critical. As Council member I will retain a full-time staff member to support our at-risk tenants, and will personally fight to ensure that the Council is much more pro-tenant. And as below I will fight to increase affordable housing units. Quality public schools are another key to keeping our middle class in place. Without top quality public schools, the only other alternative – high private school tuition – will drive out increasing numbers of middle class families. As a public school parent with a special needs child, I understand the direct connection between an affordable Upper West Side and quality public schools. And I have fought for the “standards” that we public school parents care about: smaller class sizes, a broad-based curriculum and an end to high-stakes testing, supporting rather than marginalizing our teachers and parents, and ending the enrollment maze at all levels by creating an additional middle/high school in the Beacon building with local preference.
What’s the best affordable housing program being used in the neighborhood (or the entire city) right now? How would you expand or change the program? Do you have any ideas for creating affordable housing that are realistic and aren’t currently being attempted?Section 8 rental assistance is the most critical program for preserving affordable housing. I will push the City Council to lobby for this key program, which is under constant attack from conservatives in Washington.
On the supply side, the preservation of affordable housing is key. Developers are causing too many units to exit affordable rent requirements. I will provide leadership in the City Council to slow down this exiting, and provide a package of incentives to maintain existing affordable housing.
The housing innovations we need are programs supporting the middle class. I will push for a range of experiments to subsidize middle class housing, from direct subsidies to set asides of a minimum number of apartment units in new developments.
In your view is the Upper West Side overdeveloped, underdeveloped or just right?Overdeveloped and getting worse. For example, just look at the Lincoln Towers area which is now being surrounded on 3 sides by a massive set of new developments which our public infrastructure – schools, transport, sewage and waste removal – simply can’t support.
Should developers have to contribute to a fund to support infrastructure and neighborhood improvements made necessary by their developments? If not why not. If yes, how would you make that happen?Absolutely. Just like the housing trust fund, developments over a certain number of units should as of right provide funding for schools and other local infrastructure. Realistic increased demand projections for this infrastructure must be built in and mandated by the Council as part of the development process.
Is inclusionary zoning (asking developers to set aside 20% of housing as affordable) working? Should inclusionary zoning be mandatory, or only in the event that a developer is seeking tax breaks or a zoning variance? Or should it be eliminated altogether? If so, what would you replace it with?Inclusionary zoning as currently practiced on a voluntary basis hasn’t worked as developers in upzoned areas have opted not to provide the affordable housing. In large part because they haven’t need additional bonuses which have already been given as part of the upzoning. Inclusionary zoning should be mandatory with an associated set aside for affordable housing on an as of right basis – not simply when seeking tax breaks and variances.
UWSers are upset about the proliferation of homeless shelters, particularly in the mid-90′s. What can be done about the shelters? How far would you go to fight new shelters like the one on West 95th street?City “fair share” guidelines to prevent communities from being unfairly overburdened, already exist to protect our neighborhoods. But they’ve been flouted by this administration. I fully support and assisted the law suit brought by Neighborhood in the 90’s to enforce these guidelines. Additionally I worked directly with Neighborhood in the 90’s to provide Comptroller Liu with the information he needed to reject the $48 million Aguila contract. This rejection – on the basis that services weren’t being provided as promised and that in fact the DHS contractor was using the shelter to push out long term SRO tenants, are sufficient grounds not only to reject the contract but to stop payment and remove the shelter which hasn’t happened. Hence the lawsuit.
We as a community should put pressure on the City to remove the shelter and reject future contracts with Aguila. Perhaps most important, homeless policy must change and more funding should be put into cost effective rent subsidy programs rather than bloated contracts with shady shelter operators which end up pushing more people into homelessness. We also need to release some of the NYCHA vacant stock for the short-term homeless, and do much better long term planning overall so that “emergency” contracts for shelters jammed last minute into our already overburdened neighborhoods no longer happen. This isn’t NIMBY – this is protecting our most vulnerable: preventing existing SRO tenants from being pushed, ensuring that homeless shelter tenants are housed in reasonable accommodation a fair price for the City, while ensuring these homeless receive the services promised.
What would you do to ease overcrowding in the public schools?
The power of our community, when mobilized, is substantial as we already have proven by forcing the DOE to address overcrowding at PS 199 and PS 87, create a new zoned school at PS 452, and build new seats at Riverside Center – albeit in inadequate numbers. We public school parents forced such changes on the DOE and the City, and we can do so again as follows: 1) Ensure that the DOE undertakes adequate, transparent and realistic long-term planning; 2) Demand additional seats in the capital budget shifting funding from no-bid technology projects like OSIS and others that simply waste billions; 3) Require that developers provide as of right funding for additional school seats when they build new market rate housing; 4) Negotiate much more strongly with entities like Extel when they seek additional floor space and other bonuses or reject those plans; 5) Aggressively seek to rent or buy vacant parochial school and other space; 6) Provide magnet funding to attract and integrate all our local schools.
Articles and columns have criticized Upper West Side public schools for being too segregated. Gifted and talented classes are predominantly white, for instance. Can anything be done about this?
Absolutely. The $11 million magnet grant that I helped the district win while as President of CEC3 is a terrific tool to integrate our schools, but requires much better planning and marketing to parents. Additionally, early childhood learning programs, increased funding and supports for low-income students early on, and less reliance on segregated high-stakes testing will help to lower the gap in achievement early on, and thus diminish segregation. Greater support and funding for dual language and other innovative public school programs, can help to attract non-minority parents to predominantly minority schools. Great principals help to create great schools and attract parents, regardless of race. Additionally, G&T admissions – which are all test based –should consider other factors besides the test scores as the current policy only creates more segregation.
Should the Upper West Side have more charter schools?
No. Charter schools – especially co-located charters – create haves and have nots, divert resources from the mainstream task of educating the 96% in public schools, and undermine our public schools by overburdening them with the special needs and ELL students that the charter either don’t accept or push back into the system. They also increase segregation in our public schools by setting themselves apart within our public school buildings and by recruiting non-minority parents from our newly integrated public schools, while telling parents that most public schools aren’t worth attending. And even with the millions spent on marketing of the charters, especially Upper West Success, there simply isn’t demand for these schools on the Upper West Side as parents are generally satisfied with our choices and simply want increased resources put into our public schools. As such Upper West Success – despite claims of an enormous waiting list and demand – hasn’t been able to fill its seats even by recruiting Citywide, much less from Upper West side-based students or even District 3 students including in Harlem.
Should PTA funds be divided amongst schools in the district, or should they all be used at the school where they were raised?
I believe that a small percentage of PTA funds should be used to promote and support cooperation among all the PTA’s in the District. That said, our schools need to be adequately funded from the base DOE budget and not have to rely on parents to provide for baseline services like substitute teachers, arts funding, and basic materials.
Should the UWS have a high school where local kids get preference? If so, how would you push for that? Is it even realistic?
I absolutely believe that our district should have a number of preference high schools based in the community. The current local high school options for students are limited both in terms of geography and performance levels as measured by tests. Thus students are forced into DOE’s Citywide enrollment process – which is confusing for our parents and destructive for our kids who end up spending a good part of the energy and effort in 8th grade simply trying to get into a high school. There should be good local alternatives for all students. Is this realistic? Everything will be possible, and realistic once we have a new mayor.
Is there anything the Upper West Side should do to prepare for future hurricanes like Sandy?
At minimum, we need much better community emergency training and planning. This can be led by our schools.
What specifically can be done to help Upper West Side small businesses?
Reign in the red tape and multiple inspections that many small businesses face. A modified tax credit plan for locally based businesses would help. Additionally I would propose that smaller retail tenants be offered the right of first refusal to match valid offers provided to the landlord, and be allowed to stay at an agreed upon rent if during the time that the landlord is seeking other tenants.
Bike Lanes/Street Safety
Do you support installing a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue?No I would not support a bike lane for Amsterdam avenue unless and until the lanes can be made safer for our community – especially children and seniors. Currently they are confusing and dangerous. And I am an avid biker.
Is there more that can be done to protect pedestrians in the neighborhood?Systems can be put in with timing lights and signs drawing attention to the bike lanes and their operation. Systems like this exist for pedestrian crossings at tourist spots in England. Similarly, Goddard Riverside has a large flashing sign by its bikeway to clarify the system and warn pedestrians.
Do you support stop-and-frisk? Not as currently practiced with quotas and without any oversight.
Should the city legalize marijuana use? I support the Governor’s plan to legalize.
Is there too much curbside parking on the Upper West Side, too little, or about the right amount?Right amount.
City workers have gone without contracts for years. Do you think they should get retroactive raises in their new contracts?
Pensions and health benefit costs for city workers have jumped under Mayor Bloomberg (city pension costs have risen from $1.3 billion in 2002 to $8 billion in 2013), even as funding for things like parks have decreased. Is it time to get these costs under control? How should the city do that? Should city workers have to pay more into their pensions and health benefits, for instance?The City’s budget has increased in the same period by almost 3x so pension costs are not so out of whack nor to blame. That said, I believe the mayor and the unions should be able to work from a range of issues when in negotiations.
Gale Brewer was known for reaching out to older people in the neighborhood and creating programs that got them fresh farm vegetables, for instance. In what area(s) do you feel our older citizens’ needs and concerns are still under-served, and what are your ideas to address this?Senior centers and senior-related social services including meal plans and visitations need to be baselined in the budget rather than up for cuts every year. The NORC concept of creating senior communities with services in place and building and tying together local communities is terrific and needs to be invested in for our D6 residents. SCRIE income levels must be raised and rental supports and regulations strengthened so our seniors are not being pushed out or feel that they are living on the edge. The OATs program should be fortified to provide and train seniors in technology programs. And I would seek to build programs ala New York Cares where the great resources and knowledge base of our seniors can be better tapped for the benefit of our community.
Gale Brewer’s Legacy
Name two things that Gale Brewer did that you agreed with.
1) Paid sick leave legislation.
2) Provided the most incredible constituent services imaginable in representing the entire district.
Name two things that Gale Brewer did that you disagreed with.
1) Columbus Avenue bike lanes: I would not have approved these as they are currently configured. They are unsafe for pedestrians and problematic for our local businesses.
2) Riverside Center: I would not have approved the plan without increased benefits to the community based on a solid valuation of the value of the increased floor area to Extell. A much larger school should have been demanded – not just one which serves the complex. Additionally, the affordable housing plans with a separate entrance, and possible “double dip” benefits to the developer is simply wrong.
Describe one time you have broken with your party
I break with my party daily on Education policy, which currently is being driven by a high-stakes testing, competitive business model which narrows our curriculum and our kids’ educations, rather than by a collaborative model in which educators lead, stakeholders are involved, and critical thinking and creativity are valued.
I also broke with the party on the Millionaire’s Tax which should have been reinstated as was, not diminished.
Thanks! Let us know the address of your campaign website (or your twitter or facebook account if you don’t have a website)
Gotbaum Endorsed by Two Unions
I want to share with you the exciting news that the New York Metro Area Postal Workers Union and Local 94 Operating Engineers have endorsed my candidacy for City Council!
The New York Metro Area Postal Workers Union is a division of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) that represents more than 220,000 USPS employees and retirees and nearly 2,000 private-sector mail workers.
"The New York Metro Area Postal Union, APWU, is proud to endorse Noah Gotbaum in the 6th District City Council race to replace Gale Brewer," Jonathan Smith, President of the New York Metro Area Postal Workers Union said. "Noah grew up in the labor movement and progressive politics, and has demonstrated time and again that he is not afraid to stand up for working people, minorities, and against the privatization of our Postal Service, just as he has led the fight against the privatization of our public schools. We are confident that as a leading member of the City Council, Noah not only will support continuing the Postal Service, and our members' right to a living wage, but will be a strong, progressive and independent leader for all working men and women in this City."
Local 194 Operating Engineers is a division of the 10th largest union in the AFL-CIO.
Kuba Brown, Business Manager and President of Local 194 Operating Engineers said,
“Noah Gotbaum clearly understands the challenges working people are currently facing. We have every confidence that he will advocate for the interests of our members and their families, from supporting fair contracts and wages to ensuring good benefits. We are thrilled to announce our endorsement of a strong leader who is prepared to fight for our rights.”
The members of these unions are undeniable representations of New York City’s dedicated and hardworking citizens. Being raised in the labor movement, I fully understand that every member of our community deserves to have his or her voice heard. I am so honored to have received these unions’ endorsements, and I look forward to working closely with each of them to push through legislation to ensure that their rights are protected.