Sadly, there was no popcorn.
An Oscar worthy performance by Toby Stavisky, Tony Avella, Mark Weprin, Ed Braunstein, and Bob Friedrich.
Over eight hundred condo and co-op owners packed into the North Shore towers for a meeting concerning property tax evaluation but it wasn’t long before the scene broke into chaos and Tony Avella laid the smack down on his colleagues.
Civility went out the window.
“It was very intense, but quiet…till Tony got up to speak,” said a bystander.
“Everyone here is lying to you,” Tony told the crowd as an awkward silence swept the room.
Tony was shouting, “Nothing is going to happen here!”
The audience was stunned.
Each legislator represented a different version of a bill to help condo and co-op owners through reducing tax assessments.
The Co-op Council endorsed Tony’s legislation, while Toby Stavisky and Ed Braunstein co-signed a competing bill, and Mark Weprin’s brother, David, had a bill on the floor too.
The stage was set for an inevitable confrontation and Avella set off the fireworks.
On their merits, many members of the crowd favored Tony’s bill, as it was a better concept. Tony’s bill would establish a 1A designation for co-ops and condos capped at a 6% increase per year and no more than a 20% increase over five years.
The Mayor is also in favor of Tony’s Bill, but his colleagues didn’t care, they had their own bills to promote.
While most seemed to agree that Toby Stavisky and Ed Braunstein were first to respond to the issue, many owners seemed to favor Tony Avella’s proposal, however, each elect was trying to decide who had the bill that would serve the condo\co-op community best
Councilman Mark Weprin was furious with Mr. Avella’s tirade. “Tony, you’re the problem,” he said as Ed Braunstein lashed out over him, “We’ve never even see you anywhere, Tony!” and pointed his finger at Senator Avella.
The crowd began to boo and hiss while Ed Braunstein continued to slander Senator Avella.
Many attendees were disgusted with the lack of cooperation between their elected officials. After all, this wasn’t a campaign debate, this was a serious issue. Some people even walked out. And who could blame them? They just witnessed all of their elected officials fighting with one another like children and it was simulcast on a big screen projector.
Senator Toby Stavisky seemed the most composed. She had to because she’s up for a tough election- somewhere – and she needs her bill to pass to appeal to the hundreds of co-op and condo voters in either district 11 or 16. But the council endorsed Tony’s bill and Tony didn’t give Toby the opportunity to co-sign.
[UPDATE: as a matter of prestige, Toby, wishing to muscle her way into Tony's popular Bill, did in fact co-sign Tony's bill, but instead of coalescing with her colleague and finding common ground, she tried to steal the thunder as a glory hog.]
On background, Tony’s angry with Toby. Where’s Toby going to run? What’s she waiting for? You could see the frustration on Senator Avella’s face and it all came out in public.
People were somewhat surprised and taken back by Tony’s remarks and how aggressive he was. There were a lot of people who were in support of his legislation, but others felt that his conduct was no way to get anything accomplished. It was a somewhat mixed reaction but Toby and Ed were definitely upset.
The crowd began to heckle Braunstein, who was still pointing fingers.
After a while Ed relented and threw his hands up at the audience. A voice yelled from the back, “Ed, you’re not doing your job!” And another man shouted, “Maybe he’s not cut out for this!”
It must have been traumatic for Ed. The people were upset. Bob Friedrich took to the podium and began a spirited back and forth ‘dialogue’ with Braunstein.
Turning to the elected officials who were fighting like children, Friedrich pointed at them and told the audience, “This is the problem.”
Braunstein felt personally attacked by Friedrich, who insisted that the elected officials need less talk and more action. Friedrich also pointed out that the tax assessments occurred in the past two years while Braunstein was in office.
There was a deafening silence that halted the room and Braunstein abruptly stormed out of the theatre.
Eight hundred people were disappointed with the lack of cooperation between the elected officials.
They were all Democrats, all arguing, and going nowhere fast.
UPDATE April 13. 1:30pm:
City Councilmember Mark Weprin called to clarify his comments. Weprin felt Senator Avella’s comments at the meeting were innaccurate. “We’ve been working together for quite some time,” said Weprin, adding, “It wasn’t lip service - we’re going to get something done. Weprin explained that he did not understand why Tony would lump all of the legislators together. “It is incorrect to say we haven’t been working together, we’re going to come up with a solution not just press releases,” said Weprin.