Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our Crisis in Education

I've been asked what is my platform on education in our city. Indeed we have a crisis in education when it comes to public schools mainly populated by Black and Spanish speaking students. But before I go into that I want to put on record that I didn't just pop up out of nowhere talking about education and what can be done to improve it just because I am running for city council. I have been very involved not just in our city's public school education system, but primary school education period, before now.

Many years ago, when I was a much younger man (chuckle),when I was in the Army I got into an on the job training program in teaching. It was designed to let people have actual teaching experience and apply that experience toward a teaching degree. Kind of the cart before the horse if you will. But in the Army we do what we got to do, especially overseas. I was assigned as an assistant teacher and tutored 5th grade military dependents in Germany.

Although I didn't pursue teaching and stayed in the military a while longer I did take a job as a security officer at a high school in between, which was actually the first high school in the nation to have school security. I came on board a few years after the security program started. It was very different than how security operates now but it was partly coordinated by the local police department. So school security being under the police department now is not a new concept. It more than likely came from us.

This is probably the moment in my life that made me realize the importance of public school education. However, not in a way to replace a child's primary teachers, which should be his/her parents. But in tandem. As they say in Latin, "In loco parentis." Meaning, to take the place of a parent when such parent is not around. Remember the child is with his/her parent[s] first thing in the morning and last thing in the day, or that's how it should work. However, when the parent comes to school the role of parent reverts back to the custodial parent, whatever time of day that is. Well, that's how it has always been with me.

I won't go into every aspect of my education experience here because I did not pursue teaching as a career. However, because I did involve myself with children throughout my life and have a child of my own, you could say that because of certain circumstances, which I will go into shortly, I became partners with the public school education system. How could it be any other way? We do trust them with our children, don't we? So we better be partners. And it's better to get along with your partners than to not get along. Then again, we all know that having partnership doesn't necessarily mean that we always get along either. If everyone can see it like this a little maybe our approach to education would be more productive. Everyone certainly includes the DOE.


When I accepted an appointment to serve on Community Board 10's Education & Libraries Committee I jumped at the opportunity. I did so because I felt that having an official position pertaining to education would be beneficial to all parties in this public school arena: BOE/DOE, parents and the neighboring residents who may not have children going to public school.

Initially I fought against mayoral control because it was complicated and was more decentralized than the mayor was claiming. I also found the new DOE to be racist and acting like a dictatorship. My kind of fight.

I then became very involved in the charter school issue. I didn't like how charter schools were taking over public school buildings, in whole or in part, but the children who previously occupied such public school building spaces were pushed out and made to go elsewhere. Nowhere in our public school/charter school history prior to this current administration was the charter/public school question ever a big issue.

For those who have not followed the particulars of this subject and know about certain court decisions regarding same, this issue deserves its own editorial. But for the record, a charter school in New York State is deemed to be a public school. However, when it comes to land use regulations, such decisions being the prerogative of the City, a charter school is not a public school. This is in the Charter School Act for those who would like to look it up. I personally drafted proposed legislation for city council to consider, which would have adequately addressed this matter.

Although city council has yet to act on my proposal I will take time to commend Assemblyman Keith Wright for his willingness to listen to many of my suggestions on this issue and pushed to incorporate some of these ideas as well as other people's ideas into the recent revised Mayoral Control Law, which now makes it more transparent and involve more entities before the DOE can close down a public school. The legislation stops short of telling the city what it should do with its property should the school building no longer be used for a public school purpose.

In a nutshell the problem we have in education, which is equally a problem in our city and state government, is that our present administrations do not see education as a vital state interest. They certainly don't act like it, despite the language in our state constitution pertaining to the need of a free public educational system.

Further proof of its necessity and vital importance is the fact that it is free and compulsory. If that doesn't tell you something then maybe you're the problem.

But because the education in our city and state is not taken seriously you're going to have violence in schools, poor reading and math skills, more children dropping out of school and more unproductive youth. Forget what Bloomberg is trying to make you believe. If you only have 10 seniors total and only 5 graduate, you may have 50% of the senior class graduating however, at the end of the day you only have 5 seniors graduating. However, you may have had 5 years ago an aggregate senior class of 50 with 10 seniors graduating. You may have only had 20% of the senior class graduating but at the end of the day you had more seniors graduating from high school than you have now. Look at it from this angle. With the second example at least we had more seniors in the 12th grade. But to not have them even get that far five years later, well that sounds like regression to me.

The schools that always suffer the most when there is a lack of education concern or budget cuts are schools in predominently Black and Spanish speaking neighborhoods. If there is a cut in a certain area the pie is not divided based on who needs what, which is the appropriate way to distribute because everyone should have an equal opportunity. And I doubt it gets divided evenly. Rather the pie gets distributed to those who may not need it or unevenly. Schools having a white majority will continue to get close to their fair share or allocations that they don't need while the other schools get... well we should know how it works, and I still don't accept it nor understand it.

So one of the first things I am going to push for if I get elected is a law that will give the city council an opportunity to be benevolent. There is nothing to say that as a local legislative body we can't come up with our own education gift of some kind for our youth. Some of these monies budgeted for correctional facilities and other things that make you wonder will get cut back. But to always think about cutting funds for education first is putting the cart before the horse. Maybe if our government didn't cut so much in education we wouldn't need to build more jails and we would have the workforce necessary to sustain a city.

The second thing I would like to see happen right away when I take office (but even if I don't this idea needs to be pursued) is the creation of a joint committee consisting of state and city legislators on education. We would meet 4 times a year and come up with concrete plans on how to make our schools better.

Lastly, but by no means the end all, I would like to push for citywide legislation that involve parents and their children in their children's education curriculum. I don't know exactly what and how, although I do have a concept for school grading. Some grading in school should involve projects that are partnered with children and their parents. If we make this our goal we can come up with creative legislation that involve parents and their children in our city's education system. We have lost our sense of civic community. It's not even taught in schools anymore. How then do you expect our young to become productive citizens?

What I offer is a simple platform. But what I know works is that when you engage youth you get positive results. However, when we engage them we must be ready to hear them and see what they want out of this engagement. And we shouldn't be afraid to tell them pull up your pants or "shhhhhh," when they are too loud.

I was at a rally outside the 32nd Precinct October 26, 2009 and the rally was very important. There was press there. Children were coming through being loud and rowdy and I turned around and signaled for them to be quiet saying, "Shhhhh." They listened too. Had to do it several times even. Yeah it works.

Make sure you Vote

November 3, 2009

Polls open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Bill Thompson - Mayor
John Lui - Comptroller
Bill de Blasio - Public Advocate
and yours truly,

Julius Tajiddin,
New York City Council,
District 7

Line 15, Column K

(Also known as the candidates who were against
the extension of term limits.)

For more information contact

For more on Julius Tajiddin
read the other posts.

And yes, she finally came around.
Another Bill Thompson supporter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Record is Clear

Many people ask me what is the difference between me and Council Member Robert Jackson, the man I am challenging for the New York City Council seat of District 7.

There are a lot of differences in our politics. I am about less government intrusion when it comes to community determination and more government involvement when it comes to social services and infrastructure, which would include the public school system, and not leaving out a civic curriculum. But here are 7 things very different about us that question whether we are a [local] government of, for and by the people:

1.) Mayor Bloomberg and City Council’s extension of term limits

Robert Jackson - Voted for
Julius Tajiddin - on record disapproving

2.) Columbia’s Expansion Plan

Robert Jackson - Voted for
Julius Tajiddin - on record disapproving

3.) Columbia’s plan to build underground Level 3 Bio-tech laboratories in Manhattanville

Robert Jackson - Voted for
Julius Tajiddin - on record disapproving

4.) Columbia’s willingness for the use of eminent domain

Robert Jackson - Voted for
Julius Tajiddin - on record disapproving

5.) The development of luxury condominiums on 125th Street

Robert Jackson - Voted for
Julius Tajiddin - Voted Against

6.) Potential displacement of 71 small businesses on 125th Street

Robert Jackson - Voted for

Julius Tajiddin Voted Against

7.) Sky-scrapers on 125th Street…

Robert Jackson - Voted for
Julius Tajiddin - Voted against

Those are 7 Good Reasons to Vote for Democrat Julius Tajiddin for New York City Council - District 7

Vote Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The Party for Freedom Justice and Equality's Candidate (abbrev. Free Just and Equal, fJe)

Line 15, Column K

And don't forget to vote for

Bill Thompson - Mayor

John Lui - Comptroller

Bill de Blasio - Public Advocate

For more information contact

For more on Julius Tajiddin read the other blog posts.

Polls Open 6:00 am
Polls close 9:00 pm

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Survey of Candidates for Public Office

Tenants & Neighbors
New York State Tenants & Neighbors
Coalition Survey of Candidates for Public Office

Tenants & Neighbors is a grassroots organization that harnesses tenant power to preserve at-risk affordable housing in neighborhoods throughout New York, and to strengthen tenants’ rights and the local, state, and federal level. Their members compiled a list of questions about housing and tenants’ rights that they want [city council] candidates for public office to answer.

The following are the questions and my answers. This is as good a time as any to let the voters know where I stand on housing issues and how I can best solve housing problems.

Q - In many developments constructed throughout the city, the "affordable" housing is not actually affordable for many poor and working class residents. At the same time, we are losing a great deal of Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 housing, which is more affordable to a lower income population. What should be done about this?

A - Diane Richards, Dr. Kathy Samuels and I were working on a concept that would address the lack of true affordable housing in the Harlem community. We came up with the term Income Targeted Housing. This term means that the housing development coming into a specific community must target the income brackets that are within such community. In Harlem the AMI is less than 25K. That median does incorporate families with a higher income, but certainly lower. Thus, the housing development that we want to see first in our community should primarily target such range rather than building housing that's affordable to just anybody, which could be families of high income and not indigenous to such community.

If you are only having development that caters to high income then eventually you are going to have displacement and gentrification. Gentrification by its meaning is illegal. You cannot build housing that will cause displacement of the underlying group of such district and bring in a different class or ethnic group replacing such group. Summing this portion up, we need legislators that know what the Fair Housing Act is all about and making laws (resolutions included) that are not repugnant to the Constitution.

The laws controlling Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 housing have been misunderstood. These laws or court rulings settling many of the problems associated with ML and S8 need to be disseminated much better than how they are currently being circulated. Most people don't know that if a ML building was built before 1974 when it leaves the ML program it falls under the Rent Stabilization laws. The last ML rent a tenant was paying now becomes the base rent regulated by the Rent Stabilization laws. Regarding Section 8, if a landlord accepts Section 8 and that apartment is under Rent Stabilization the landlord must continue accepting Section 8 when a lease expires for as long as that person receives Section 8 or the apartment is under Rent Stabilization. In a nutshell the community has to be better informed and our elected officials, especially in the legislative department, must have this information to give people when they seek them for help.

Q - What is your opinion about vacancy decontrol and what would you do on this issue?

A - We have had vacancy decontrol in the past. It becomes a necessary tool to bringing housing chaos under control and to rope in affordable housing stock. Right now the power to enact some type of vancancy control lies with the state. I don't oppose the state keeping control. We have some city control pertaining to housing now and look what happens. Our rents go up every year when they shouldn't be. If I get into office I will try to be on a housing committee that takes a proactive role and try to bring into creation a decontrol law that doesn't offend any state law.

There is housing stock that doesn't fall under rent stabilization and could be controlled by the city. We could even create such housing. It can happen. The city just has to want it to happen.

Q - Do you believe that all buildings leaving the Mitchell Lama and Section 8 programs should be protected by rent stabilization? If so, what would you do on this issue?

A - Well some of them are already, as I explained above. But the answer is yes. It is hard to believe that someone entered into a Mitchell- Lama lease agreement knowing that after so many years the rent could go market rent. I believe that the laws controling ML are not being properly interpreted. The city council would be within its right to study such laws and search for a solution on its end. Pushing for such study is where I would start if I get elected.

Q - What is the best way to solve the funding crisis that NYCHA is facing?

A - I would explore co-oping city and state owned NYCHA properties. If not fully co-oping them I would come up with a system that puts more caretaking power with the tenants. In exchange for such service the tenant would get a discount on rent or some worthy benefit. But the people must have more stake in these properties than what they have now.

Q - Do you believe the RGB needs to be reformed? If so, how?

A - Maybe we don't need an RGB. I would entertain the idea that maybe rents shouldn't increase, maintain or decrease across the board. Yearly increases should be on an individual basis. Rent increases based on rising maintenance costs or cost of living should be done the way Major Capital Improvements increases are done. The books are opened and the tenants in a building can challenge their landlord in a more fair fashion.

Q - In 2009, many rent stabilized tenants throughout the city called for a rent freeze. Would you have joined tenants in their call for a rent freeze? Why or why not?

A - Well I don't know if I would've pushed for not paying rent. If rent freeze just meant not paying the increase from the RGB then yes. But keeping the total rent money from the landlord just outright would cause a rippling effect that would be negative.

Q - Predatory equity investing, the practice of private equity groups buying subsidized housing for an unsupportable purchase price, has put many multi-family affordable rental properties at risk of financial failure. What should be done about this issue?

A - The financial failure of a property doesn't change the status of a building or certain laws that control real property. The predatory equity investor is not who we should be focused on. Whoever whinds up taking over the building is still responsible for certain things. If that entity or person cannot meet the upkeep demands of that property or deliver required services then someone has to do it. It could be the tenants. The more they put in the property the more interest they aquire in the property. In other words they are buying interest in the property. Local laws could be enacted that legislatively creates this power or right.

Q - How would you ensure that rent-controlled tenants are protected from unfair rent increases?

A - Rent Control is under state jurisdiction but it doesn't mean that local government can't have some type of oversight. City Council's housing committee must become more proactive. As an elected official I would be more involved with my district's community boards' housing committees or their equivalent and work on solutions that can solve any abuse of rent increases inflicted on rent-controlled apartments.

Q - How would you work to protect Single Room Occupancy (SRO) housing?

A - I didn't know it was in jeopardy. But now that I'm presented with the question I would imagine that the same way illegal SROs are created you have the illegal elimination of SROs. This falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Buildings. City council needs to explore more innovative ways to eliminate or greatly reduce illegal construction. This is a start.

One idea I have is to create an illegal construction task force that is community based. These agents would be compensated from a commission of the fines that violators would receive. They would inspect properties that look suspicious. They wouldn't do sophisticated inspections. It would be more paper work oriented and clear cut violations. And they wouldn't necessarily go out of their way.

Q - Do you support the Asthma Free Housing Act introduced by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Council member Rosie Mendez to create fines, best practices, and educational materials to deal with rats, mold, mice, and cockroaches and asthma? If so, what would you do to help ensure this bill becomes law?

A - I haven't read it. But in principle I support it. I would definitely circulate the proposed bill to all the community boards in my council district and seek their endorsements. I would encourage my peers to do likewise. I would still do this even if i weren't a councilman.

Q - Are there any development or land-use proposals where you would support eminent domain? If so, what land-use restrictions would you attach to the use of eminent domain, if any?

A - There are none presently that I would support. I certainly wouldn't support a proposal based on the argument that the area is blighted and the entity desiring the use of eminent domain is responsible for the blighted condition, e.g., Columbia University.

But there is a condition that I would support ED aside from a public use. If the area is economically deprived and is causing other economic problems that are devastating to a wider community, then those public benefits appropriately replace the public use. The property couldn't be conveyed to a new owner unless all of the benefits to the public continue the same way that a public use purpose continues.

Q - How would you pressure the Department of Buildings to force landlords to cure illegal living situations without evicting tenants?

A - A landlord can't benefit on a scam. In other words, if a landlord won't do necessary work unless the tenant leaves after tons of violations and somehow the original tenant doesn't return after the work is completed if that tenant later found out that s/he was tricked out of the apartment then there would have to be some kind of consequences for the landlord's unscrupulous actions. As a councilman I would work on creating laws that would protect tenants' property interests from such scams. There are other ways to get laws enforced without the use of the DOB. This practice would be explored.

For more information and donations contact

and don't forget to VOTE on TUESDAY, November 3, 2009

Bill Thompson - Mayor

John Lui - Comptroller

Bill de Blasio - Public Advocate

Julius Tajiddin - City Council, 7th District

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Voice That Is Heard...

...A Voice That is Needed
A Voice That is Now

Bio (Short)

Julius Tajiddin has been a major Voice for Harlem where he's lived for the last several years. His active work as a community advocate, while raising a daughter no less, can be said to be nothing less than phenomenal.

A man of true reform, Tajiddin has helped to empower his community, some would say, in the same way that President Barack Obama has inspired a nation. Ironically, it was Tajiddin who orchestrated President Obama's historical visit to Harlem at the World Famous Apollo Theater on November 29, 2007.

In local government Tajiddin served on Community Board 10’s Land Use, Housing, Education and Libraries and Land Marks Committees and the 125th Street Rezoning Resolution Sub-Committee. He also served on Community Board 9’s Community Benefits Agreement Steering Committee dealing with the Columbia Expansion Plan. Tajiddin also serves on the Borough President’s Historic Preservation Task Force, representing the historic interests of the Harlem Community.
But make no mistake about it. Tajiddin's efforts go even beyond Harlem's boundaries.
Examples of Tajiddin's reach:
  • Largely responsible for preventing Ebay from auctioning off important Malcolm X documents that are now back in The Shabazz family's possession and are presently on display at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
  • Influenced the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to change its policy on preferential rents, which previously allowed landlords to break preferrential lease agreements that held landlords to continue charging such tenants less than the legal rent. The policy is now congruous to the Constitution and preferrential rents that were set for the life of a tenancy or any agreed upon term between the landlord and tenant shall remain in full force and effect.
  • Advocated for and was successful for getting each public school in NYC the right to determine its own cell phone ban regulation instead of a uniformed Department of Education ban on cell phones.
  • Believing that Inclusionary Housing did not adequately address the housing needs of an individual community, Tajiddin and two other Harlemites created the term Income Targeted Housing - the push for development of housing in a community that targets the income brackets of households that are living within such community. The concept of Income Targeted Housing is now used nationwide.
  • Wrote an addendum tonew York City Council's Stimulus Package and contributed to the Upper Manhattan Economic Summit white paper - a report to follow up and set guidelines to realize the summit’s ideas for recharging local economies through their own stimulus innovations.

When one thinks of prominent role players in the opposition of the 125th Street Rezoning and Columbia Expansion Plan, Tajiddin is one of the first names that come to mind. Community Board 10's resolution opposing the rezoning bears his handprint. In fact there is not one area of importance in New York City that hasn't been influenced by Tajiddin.

On November 3rd 2009 - put Julius Tajiddin in City Hall and SEE what happens.

The Tajiddin Handprint of the Future

Will bring about through Legislation and his influence

  1. will produce jobs in City Council District 7 and support the growth of small businesses;

  2. Protect street vendors' rights;

  3. Stop illegal construction in our community;

  4. Foster better community and police relations;

  5. Support arts and cultures;

  6. Make public schools better and bring back music, arts, childcare and after school programs;

  7. Reverse the 125th Rezoning to a zoning acceptable to the Harlem Community and federal law;

  8. See to it that Harlem, Washington Heights and other District 7 Communities' Historic Resources get Landmark status;

  9. Protect and create new recreational resources throughout Harlem and the 7th District;

  10. Protect senior citizens' rights, properties and aggressively fight to reclaim properties fraudulently taken away;

  11. Create more and better low income housing;

  12. Support and push for community self determination;

  13. Bring in new ideas that will reduce crime and gang violence.

The Tajiddin Platform

One might think that these are a bunch of promises that will never be fulfilled by a politician. Think again. The Tajiddin Handprint of the present shows that some of these promises have already been accomplished and will be maintained or are now in progress.

See The Tajiddin Handprint page

The record is clear. Tajiddin has created hope and already empowered community.
And that's what Tajiddin's main platform is all about - Empowering the people.

By empowering the people joblessness, homelessness and crimes, as an example can be greatly reduced. When people become empowered jobs can be created, criminal behavior does not thrive and homelessness would barely exist if at all.

Vote November 3rd to continue Preserving the Legacy of Community.

Elect Julius Tajiddin for New York City Council - District 7 - 2009
On The Party line Freedom, Justice and Equality (abbrev. Free, Just and Equal)

For more information or donations Contact

Videos of City Council Candidate in Action

( Julius at internet radio interview)

(Click back arrow to return to page after reviewing videos)

(Julius discussing Section 8 and NYCHA)

(Education credentials and personal background on The Tajiddin Handprint page)

(page constantly under construction)