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Real Estate Thought It Was Invincible in New York. It Wasn’t.



“I’m last on their list,” he said.

“I think they’re trying to find their way in a new environment where grass-roots advocacy is more powerful and important than it’s ever been. The old way of doing business for them is no longer applicable in the new Senate.”

While the industry was shoring up its public image, it also took to the courts. In July, the Rent Stabilization Association, Community Housing Improvement Program and seven building owners sued the city’s Rent Guidelines Board to block the new rent regulations as unconstitutional. The RSA hired a data research firm to make its case that the regulations have slowed construction, reducing tax revenues and jobs.

REBNY is hiring an organizer and has crunched data to warn that tax revenues from real estate sales are down. The Community Housing Improvement Program changed lobbyists and tactics.

“The lobbying strategy is different,” said Mr. Martin of CHIP. “It has to be different. This presumption that you just call up, you sit down with an elected official, you say, ‘This is what I need,’ and that’s it — that doesn’t work anymore. Everything needs a campaign behind it, it needs different voices, it needs tenants, it needs contractors who have been laid off.”

Mr. Strasburg of the Rent Stabilization Association said that Democratic lawmakers who used to work with him were now afraid to stand up against their ascendant progressive wing. “There are those that said to me, ‘I can’t take your money now, but after January 15 I can take your money.’ Why after January 15? Because it’s too late for anyone to make it an issue” in the 2020 elections, he said.

Mr. Strasburg said he refused to support lawmakers who did not stand up for the industry, even if they had in the past. One state senator who voted for the rent regulations asked for support against a primary challenge from the left, and Mr. Strasburg was flummoxed. “I said, ‘Why would we help you?’ He said, ‘Because they’re worse than I am.’ I said, ‘But at the end of the day you voted the way that they would vote. So what separates you from them in terms of bad?’”

REBNY has tried to cultivate more centrist Democrats — or at least those that haven’t sworn off real estate money — giving $84,500 to 14 Democratic state senators since the start of the year, compared to just $2,000 to Republican senators.

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Opinion | Forget the Scarf. These Gifts Change Lives.



Almost all Somali girls are subjected to an extreme form of genital mutilation: All the genitals are cut away, and the raw flesh is sewn shut with wild thorns, leaving a tiny opening for urine and menstruation. After marriage, the flesh is cut open.

Edna herself was held down and cut when she was 8 years old, and she has been campaigning against the practice since 1976; initially, this got her arrested. But she has made progress, and this year the Somaliland Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a fatwa condemning this extreme form of genital cutting.

So, readers, consider a gift to the Edna Adan University Hospital — and help save a woman’s life.

With the $100,000 prize money that comes with this column, along with what more readers contribute, the hospital plans to buy a machine to produce oxygen — an essential that every hospital needs for babies and adults struggling to breathe. Edna also hopes to start a lab to examine biopsies and Pap smears for cervical cancer, and to train staff members to operate it. There is now no place in the country to read Paps, and biopsies are given to someone flying to Ethiopia to hand-carry to a hospital there.

If your holiday giving preferences run elsewhere, the three runners-up will also make excellent use of your contributions. So consider these causes:

FIGHT CERVICAL CANCER. This is a disease that kills more women worldwide than childbirth yet gets much less attention. Cervical cancer is also a painful and humiliating way to die: It is sometimes diagnosed partly by the stench from rotting flesh. What’s more, cervical cancer is relatively cheap and easy to prevent with HPV vaccination (less than $5 a shot in developing countries) or a screen-and-treat protocol for precancerous lesions.

I suggest the Maya Health Alliance in Guatemala, also known as Wuqu’ Kawoq, which works with indigenous Maya villagers. As individuals, we can’t change America’s harsh policy toward Guatemalan migrants, but we can help save the lives of Guatemalan women from cervical cancer. An American doctor, Kirsten Austad, donates her time at the Maya Health Alliance, making the organization’s work particularly cost-effective. Nobody need die in the 21st century of cervical cancer.

FIGHT WORMS AND BLINDNESS. If cervical cancer is a horrific and easily preventable disease for women, a counterpart that strikes men is a parasite-caused disease called elephantiasis. It swells up the scrotum to such huge proportions that men must use wheelbarrows to carry their private parts. It also causes monstrous swelling of the feet of men and women alike so that they look like elephant legs, hence its name.

This disease survives only because the people who suffer these horrors are impoverished. The End Fund is working mightily to eradicate elephantiasis and other “neglected tropical diseases,” including river blindness and trachoma, both excruciatingly painful causes of blindness. They, too, have cheap and simple solutions.

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