Change is needed for Downtown’s council seat

Jenifer Rajkumar

Jenifer Rajkumar

Four years ago Margaret Chin told us she would have said no to the deals to get beloved schools like P.S. 234 decades ago, and Spruce Street School more recently because the community was giving away too much to corporations and developers, and didn’t get enough affordable housing.

It raised our eyebrows, but we endorsed her for City Council in part because she made it clear that she was not against new schools, but she did want to use tough negotiating tactics to get the best deal for Downtown.  Now a councilmember, she has said yes to worse deals then the ones she criticized and we are disappointed that she has not lived up to her promise. She does not deserve to be reelected.

When it’s time to negotiate, Chin “goes into the room…closes the door, makes the deal and shuts the people out.”

Jenifer Rajkumar, Chin’s opponent in the First District City Council Democratic primary, said that when she announced her campaign a few months ago. Not all of her criticisms are valid, but that one is spot on.

It is true that Chin spends an extraordinary amount of time meeting with community groups and others to get their views on particular proposals, but she does not include leaders when the real talks start. This approach has alienated constituents in the Village and elsewhere over several projects including the New York University expansion.

In an op-ed published in The Villager, sister publication of Downtown Express, she promised not to back a business improvement district in Soho unless it had “substantial support” including from Community Board 2. She ended up supporting the BID saying the proposal was altered in response to neighbors’ concerns, but there was no clear indication that community opposition had changed.

Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader living in Battery Park City and a civil rights attorney, has been an active presence in Lower Manhattan. Her record is not as strong and long as we’d like, and she has not convinced us that she will definitely be a good councilmember, but her intelligence, her ability to quickly get to the heart of the issue and her diligence give us hope. We think she deserves a chance.

One of the most disturbing things about this campaign is that the real estate industry and others that make the Jobs for New York PAC have tilted the field for Chin with frequent mailings on her behalf. The city’s model campaign finance system has been compromised by the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

While Chin doesn’t control this independent real estate money, she is the clear beneficiary, and if she wins, she will have strong incentive to keep satisfying developers, particularly since she would be able to run for reelection one more time.

If Rajkumar wins, her incentive would be to provide good representation to the people of Lower Manhattan to insure her own reelection — the way democracy is supposed to work.

To be clear, we are not saying Chin does not work for her constituents. We recognize her many years of advocacy for affordable housing, immigrant rights and ballot access — and we hope that work continues win or lose. But the Real Estate Board of New York is clearly happy with her first term, and if Chin wins, she would be taking a political risk if she opposed it.

At the Seaport, she passively accepted a false city argument that two land use deals known as ULURPs couldn’t be discussed in tandem, when in fact the city did exactly that nine years ago in Tribeca in a deal that led to a new community center and more school space. She defended the city’s decision to redact a key section of an agreement in which the Seaport’s developer, Howard Hughes Corp., outlined its intention to build a large hotel and residences in the neighborhood. It’s hard to imagine that more community needs could not have been met had Chin been more forceful negotiating the Pier 17 deal at the Seaport.

She has not been an effective representative for the community. We have not just heard this from a few activists from a few neighborhoods, we’ve also heard the same thing privately from community leaders and others who have nothing against her.

The only way to get better representation is to vote people out when they fall short. If Rajkumar doesn’t do a good job she’s not likely to be able to stay in office for another term.

But we think she has what it takes to be a good councilmember. Downtown Express endorses Jenifer Rajkumar in the Sept. 10 primary.

Spread the word:

34 Responses to Change is needed for Downtown’s council seat

  1. Concerned Voter

    You have to wonder why REBNY would spend so much money on Chin's campaign. They want to support candidates that will vote in their favor on real estate matters. Plain and simple. We need someone that will fight for our neighborhoods and that is not Margaret Chin. I'm voting for Jenifer Rajkumar!

  2. My thoughts exactly! Jenifer Rajkumar will be the progressive change we need downtown! Vote Jenifer for City Council on September 10!

    • Jennefer RAJKUMAR is one can bring change and will do what ever takes to get it one , she as a nice personality
      To represent and shw leadership, smart, very educated, a bright young energetic woman
      SNEH jain

  3. Thank you DE, for making the right choice. Im surprised this didn't come sooner since District 1 needs new leadership desperately. Jenifer Rajkumar, we support you all the way and can't wait to see you perform in the City Council. You inspire us, energize us, and are the right person for the job. Can't wait for September 10.

  4. This is wonderful! Jenifer Rajkumar is just the kind of fresh, young talent we need in the City Council, and to lead our community. She is on her way up, and our community is luck to have her.

    Already at such a young age, Rajkumar has accomplished so much. This is fresh change for our community in Lower Manhattan.

  5. Very Impressed

    Woo hoo! Go Jenifer!
    I have been very impressed with Jenifer's grassroots campaign. She has made it her responsibility to meet each and every voter in Lower Manhattan. She has the energy, intelligence, and most importantly the character that we need downtown.
    And Chin has not measured up. Jenifer 2013!

  6. Props to the Downtown Express and Villager for making the right choice. Jenifer gives us hope. Especially in this age of machine politicians, sex scandals, indictments, and the real estate industry trying to take over the neighborhood. Thank goodness the Downtown Express made the right choice.

  7. It's about time. Although it is overdue, Margaret's incessant apathy towards her constituents is being noticed. District One needs someone like Jenifer. As a civil rights attorney, she's fought for the "little guy" her whole professional career. Margaret claims she has experience, but what is experience good for if you sell out most of your community. REBNY and Jobs for New York's millions of dollars are essentially trying to buy the city council seat. We can not and will not let that happen. I'm voting for Rajkumar on September 10th.

  8. Congratulations to Jenifer Rajkumar. Anyone who has been an avid reader of the The Downtown Express understands that is endorsement is a hard-won victory. The disappointment expressed in this article over Chin's flip-flopping habits is echoed throughout the district by businesses, residents and advocates. As many have said, we not only need a change in councilmember , we need a change in the entire district one council office. Bravo Downtown Express !

  9. Talk about spin. The spin to seek revenge on Margaret Chin has been cutthroat and frankly, I'm surprised at The Villager and Downtown Express for falling, hook, line and sinker. Sure all people make mistakes. someone who considers herself a "civil rights" attorney, Jennifer, sure dishes out insults and accusations, most of which would not hold up in court. Pay some dues first – do SOMETHING – ANYTHING – and then ask to sit in such an important seat. I like new blood – but where's the grudge work? The street work? What communities have you knocked yourself out for? What sweat did you spill? What exactly is Ms. Rajkumar proud of? What the heck has she DONE????? Does anyone who feels like it get to represent lower Manhattan in City Council? Looks that way. Don't they have to have some kind of real track record? The hype and sometimes out and out lies are despicable. What kind of representative would we have? I don't trust people who have done nothing and exaggerate to suddenly turn around and do a job with integrity. Voting for a person who is not qualified just to prove a point is beyond foolish. And putting someone up for office to seek revenge is archaic. Give us a good candidate if you are serious about replacing someone you think is not doing the right job. Someone who deserves to run for City Council.

  10. Jenifer Rajkumar is an Ivy-league educated UPenn (phi beta kappa) and Stanford Law School (summa cum laude) graduate, a civil rights attorney and the elected Downtown District Leader. As a civil rights attorney, Jenifer has experience in negotiating with powerful corporations and government for regular and disenfranchised people.

    Margaret Chin held no elected office before becoming Councilmember. Her inexperience and lack of negotiating skills has caused her to do the bidding of Speaker Quinn and moneyed interests to the detriment of constituents.
    Chin has brazenly lied to constituents time and time again. Chin has demonstrated that she is in developers' pockets. Hence the startling $100,000+ PAC money from the Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY).

    Chin represents moneyed interests and Rajkumar represents people. We need a City Councilmember who will represent, we, the people.

  11. I must say that I think that Ms. Rajkumar, although ambitious and perhaps well-intentioned is far too inexperienced to sit on the City Council and has no idea of what it takes. She is full of fire and brimstone but there is little behind it except negativity. I would rather stick with Margaret Chin who may have her faults, who doesn't?, but is a sensible and reasonable individual who has done much good for the area.

    • Margaret Chin has far less experience that Jenifer Rajkumar and Chin's destructive City Council record shows it.

      • So we keep someone who is proven ineffective rather than vote for a young strong candidate because she has yet to prove whether she can be effective. That type of rationalization will get Lower Manhattan in a worse position than it already is in.

  12. You’re certainly right about Electing Jenifer Rajkumar. Mrs. Chin has not only disappointed but given away parts of our community to vested real estate interests and NYU’s gigantic claws. Turning our residential area into a commercial zone is only one of her horrendous deals. Yes, we shall VOTE FOR JENIFER RAJKUMAR who will definitely bring change to District One.

    However, your choice of Christine Quinn is mistaken. She, like Mrs. Chin, is beholden to the real estate interests and certainly not community minded. When we begged her to help save St. Vincent’s Hospital she preferred to have Rudin build condos despite her district being in need of the hospital’s services. Down with Quinn.
    I’m voting for DiBlasio

  13. Jennifer is the hope of the people of the LES. We can’t continue to sell out to developers. Commuting, schools, parking and over crowding has been overwhelming not to mention air space and zoning have been changed to suit these developments. We must stop it now or the LES will be just a giant depot as it has turned into. I see Jenifer as someone who has been paying attention to the people and is listening to the concerns of the community. So far Margaret Chin hears Absolutely nothing about what the concerns of the community really are and how she proposes to resolve them. No real estate developer will give thousands of their dollars unless they are going to get something in return. Sorry Margaret the LES is not for sale!

  14. Love it. Jenifer is a breath of fresh air.

  15. Please don't believe the hype about Jennifer Rajkumar. No experience, negativity, lies on her resume, and charity…

    • Wow, you Chin folks are more desperate than I ever realized. The only liar in this race is Chin. It is a shame that Chin has taken to attacking and spreading lies about a bright young woman instead of discussing the issues important to our community.

  16. Margaret Chin might want to check out the article endorsing Quinn. Quinn throws Chin under the bus for the NYU 2031 Expansion Plan.

  17. MenachemAbromowitz

    Very beautiful!

  18. Between August 20 – August 28 the REBNY Real Estate PAC "Jobs for NY" has spent over $39,000 on negative mass mailings sliming Jenifer Rajkumar (those nasty things many of us have found in our mail boxes).

    This is clearly a desperate act for a failing candidate, Margaret Chin.

    At the same time Chin continues to say, "There's nothing I can do" when Chin could have easily have publicly told REBNY to STOP THIS SLIME. Instead Chin sits back and hopes to gain an advantage by this dirty play.

    This is just one more reason that we need Change in Council District 1: Vote for Jenifer Rajkumar on September 10

    Here's the link to REBNY opposition info at the NYC CFB:
    http://www.nyccfb.info/searchabledb/IndependentEx

  19. Vote No to Lies

    Before you vote for Rajkumar, pls read this NY Post article about her falsification of her credentials as the founder of a do-nothing nonprofit and impressive-sounding, but non-existent experiences is gave her.

    If a candidate lies extensively in her campaign, how can you trust her in office?

    It's very sad that we have a potential political leader who has such a slim resume that she has to invent one and relies on a nasty, inaccurate mudslinging campaign rather than running on real achievements. Her campaign is like the worst of our divisive national political scene.

    Ms. Chin has been fighting for Lower Manhattan for more than 30 years: her achievements are many, transparent — and excellent.

    Here is a quote from the Post. The link to this article follows:

    “I now am the Founder and President/CEO of the start-up non-profit W-Spin Inc., which aims to catapult women into leadership positions in governments worldwide, increasing the number of women in decision-making bodies across the globe,” Rajkumar says on her official district Web site.

    “All of these opportunities gave me a wealth of valuable experience in advocating for vulnerable individuals, formulating policy, fund raising and grassroots organizing — all valuable tools that have prepared me to be your District Leader.”

    W-Spin was registered as a domestic nonprofit with the state in 2010, records show.

    On its Web site, W-Spin claims to have a mentoring program that “educate[s] 8 to 12 year old girls all over the world on political leadership,” as well as a program that teaches “young women from Abu Dhabi to Cairo” the story of “forgotten heroines all over the world.”

    “She brought some people together to try and launch it and talked about her goals, but it never got off the ground,” said a source close to Rajkumar.
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/hype

    • Voting No to Lies means Voting NO on Chin. Chin lied to our community on NYU, on the Seaport, on the 135 Bowery, etc. etc. etc.

  20. Vote No to Lies

    Before you vote for Rajkumar, pls read this NY Post article about her falsification of her credentials as the founder of a do-nothing nonprofit and impressive-sounding, but non-existent experiences is gave her.

    If a candidate lies extensively in her campaign, how can you trust her in office?

    It's very sad that we have a potential political leader who has such a slim resume that she has to invent one and relies on a nasty, inaccurate mudslinging campaign rather than running on real achievements. Her campaign is like the worst of our divisive national political scene.

    Ms. Chin has been fighting for Lower Manhattan for more than 30 years: her achievements are many, transparent — and excellent.

    Here is a quote from the Post. The link to this article follows:

    “I now am the Founder and President/CEO of the start-up non-profit W-Spin Inc., which aims to catapult women into leadership positions in governments worldwide, increasing the number of women in decision-making bodies across the globe,” Rajkumar says on her official district Web site.

    “All of these opportunities gave me a wealth of valuable experience in advocating for vulnerable individuals, formulating policy, fund raising and grassroots organizing — all valuable tools that have prepared me to be your District Leader.”

    W-Spin was registered as a domestic nonprofit with the state in 2010, records show.

    On its Web site, W-Spin claims to have a mentoring program that “educate[s] 8 to 12 year old girls all over the world on political leadership,” as well as a program that teaches “young women from Abu Dhabi to Cairo” the story of “forgotten heroines all over the world.”

    “She brought some people together to try and launch it and talked about her goals, but it never got off the ground,” said a source close to Rajkumar.
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/hype

  21. Everyone! Are you sick of Chin's smear campaign against Rajkumar, and of the big real estate industry constantly flooding our mailboxes with attacks against this young woman? If so, come volunteer with the Jenifer Rajkumar campaign TODAY. It's time to take the neighborhood back into the hands of the people and OUT of the hands of Chin's big real estate honchos! And that begins by supporting Jenifer.

    Sign up for the Jenifer Rajkumar campaign today! Help us make the final push to victory on September 10th! Sign up here: http://www.JeniferForCouncil.com

  22. You believe the piece that Chin’s campaign planted in my pro-developers right-wing rag?

    No wonder you believe the BS Chin feeds you.

    Sincerely,

    Rupert

  23. MenachemGoldstein

    Saucy shiksa!

  24. Good luck, gorgeous!

  25. MordechaiGrossbaum

    Hello!!!

  26. ProudtobeChinian!

    I stood in a room with Councilwoman Chin as she berated the Superintendent of Schools for desiring to re-site a beloved downtown school, PS 150. She was as tough as nails and stayed with the parent lobby throughout the entire process. It is this type of leadership that obtains results. The exit polls are revealing that most of us feel the same way. I was shocked to see DE endorse a candidate who obfuscated her "experience" in a npo, certainly not an erudite way of beginning a political career. It is certainly not what would be expected of a civil rights attorney regardless of what her degrees say.

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