Walter Mosley, newly elected assemblyman for the 57th AD, has been in office for a mere six months. In that time, he has taken hard stances on issues ranging from affordable housing at Atlantic Yards, payday lending, human rights of the formerly incarcerated and tenants. “As a member of the Assembly, as a trustee, I was elected to make sure that people don’t take advantage of my constituents and I likewise advocate on their behalf,” said Assemblyman Mosley.
At the top of Mosley’s list is promised affordable housing at Atlantic Yards. Mosley sits on the Corporations and Authorities Committee. He and Committee Chairman Assemblyman Jim Brennan are in consultation with Ken Adams at Empire State Development Corp. “One of the main concerns that we have outstanding is whether or not the building affordable housing is necessary to extend to 25 years,” said Mosley, “as opposed to 10 years that was originally agreed to build the affordable housing component of this project.”
Mosley wants to know why the 15-year extension is needed given that the economy seems to be bouncing back — particularly Wall Street, the dire need for housing and the developer building module components at the Navy Yard which makes for faster building, expediting the entire process. “With all those factors in place, we don’t believe an added 15 years is necessary or will be conducive to the original demands that the community made in lieu of the agreement to build here,” said Mosley. “Clearly, the restraints that they had post-2008 when the market collapsed and the housing bubble burst are not there. That excuse is no longer afforded to them.”
Concerned that local taxpayers see a return on their subsidies for Atlantic Yards, Mosley said he doesn’t want to see people forced out due to attrition because either they are not going to be here, they’ll move or they might not be eligible because maybe their situation changed. “We want to be able to take advantage of affordable housing now,” said Mosley. “We do not want to lose sight of the purpose for why the site was even given the opportunity. It wasn’t about basketball. It wasn’t about the NBA. It wasn’t about the Nets. This is about survival for the middle class and people who want to still live in Brooklyn, who still want to raise their family here in Brooklyn. The world knows about Brooklyn. The borough president did a great job branding Brooklyn. Now it is time for the state to take care of Brooklyn.”
Mosley sits on the Banks Committee which has been subjected to intense lobbying from the payday lending industry and check cashing associations who want to be able to offer that service to poor working people and those on fixed incomes. “Fortunately, we have a chair – Annette Robinson – who knows all too well this issue. She dealt with Rent-a-Center and that whole industry which kind of parallels what [the pay day lending industry] wants to do in terms of exorbitant interest rates and fees and penalties for nonpayment,” said Mosley. “We see as a potential draining of resources and equity coming out of our community as opposed to staying in. As a member of the Banking Committee, we don’t see the benefit, particularly in our communities where there is a culture of people — a shark-type mentality — trying to take advantage of people who might not be fully aware of their rights. I was put in this position to protect the rights and liberties of my constituents and not allow them to be possibly taken advantage of.”
Mosley said he does worry about the online access, which is federally regulated. He is hoping to minimize the impact by keeping commercial outreach to late-night television.
As a member of the Codes Committee, which deals with anything that has a monetary or penal penalty, Mosley is sponsoring legislation suggested by Chief Judge Lippman that would give judges a little more sentencing discretion regarding Class D felonies which would save money for the state and taxpayers while at the same time minimizing someone’s need to be incarcerated. He is also working on a bill that would add the opportunity for the formerly incarcerated to file a discriminatory claim by a public entity with the Division of Human Rights, in addition to the current Article 78 proceeding in the Court of Claims. “If you’re part of a protected class – whether you are a woman, minority, mentally or physically disabled – you should be given the same opportunity to file a discriminatory claim,” said Mosley. “This one discrepancy, which sets aside formerly incarcerated, is another injustice that we are going to try to correct so that we don’t further punish individuals who have already paid their debt to society. We are going to continue to advocate for it. Hopefully, we will get it through the Assembly and the Senate, and then make it to the governor’s desk.”
Mosley is working on technical legislation to curb potential abuses from landlords who have outstanding building violations yet claim major capital improvements that increase rent in perpetuity. In the wake of natural disasters and weather patterns like last year’s earthquake that led to the collapse of a building on Myrtle Ave. and the Manhattan building façade that fell during Hurricane Sandy, Mosley wants to put an emphasis on safety that needs to be provided by building owners. He also wants the state to assist the city with increased personnel for building-by-building oversight and compliance.
Mosley is skeptical of a bill that would allow homeowners and apartment tenants to rent short-term stays online. “To me, it sets a poor precedent for public safety,” said Mosley. “It’s one thing to go to a hotel where there are amenities like video cameras, on-site security and personnel to ensure safety. But when you’re talking about the ability for a private dwelling to rent out for 30 days, 60 days or a week to someone you might not have properly vetted, you don’t know their criminal history, their propensities, why they are here and you don’t know what you are exposing the tenants living there full-time to – particularly our elderly, our young and those who may be physically or developmentally disabled – you don’t know what you’re exposing the general public to.”
Pointing to the growing hotel industry, particularly in downtown Brooklyn, Mosley said, “We want to be able to take advantage of the tax dollars that come in – particularly tourists from other countries. We want to be able to take advantage of that and raise revenue for a state which is cash-strapped. I think the fiscal implications, along with the public safety issues, are something that I have some serious reservations about.”