TENSION RISES IN CITY COUNCIL RACE AS CHALLENGER BLOCKED FROM SPEAKING AT RALLY


City Council member Helen Rosenthal (right) said her challenger Mel Wymore (left) should not speak at a rally against a new development.

By Carol Tannenhauser

A rally to block the construction of a 668-foot building on Amsterdam Avenue and 69th street was about to start Tuesday morning, when City Council member Helen Rosenthal was heard saying, “No. He may not speak.”

She was referring to Mel Wymore, who is challenging Rosenthal for her District 6 City Council seat. (District 6 covers most of the Upper West Side, except for Manhattan Valley.) This is the second time the two will face off – and it could be a close race. Rosenthal squeaked by Wymore in the 2013 Democratic primary, with 27% of the vote to his 22%. But that was in a field of seven; this year, so far, there are only three candidates and the third – Dr. Cary Goodman – seems focused mainly on fighting the planned expansion of the Museum of Natural History.

“This is not a candidate event,” Rosenthal said, as she refused to allow Wymore to make a statement at the rally. “I’m the councilwoman, I put together this rally, I’m all over this, we’re gonna give facts today.” At one point she moved between Wymore and another speaker who was praising Wymore.

Wymore has criticized Rosenthal over this building proposal, saying she was slow to put resources behind fighting it.

The videos below were taken by someone who attended the rally.

Rosenthal and Wymore are on the same side of the fight to block the new building at 200 Amsterdam along with community leaders like Olive Freud and Kate Wood, of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development and Landmark West respectively. Freud, Wood and Wymore helped organize the rally, securing the “sound permits” and arranging for traffic police, according to a Wymore campaign spokesperson. Wymore “was on the original list of speakers,” he maintained.

“This was a community rally,” said Wood, president of Landmark West. “It didn’t belong to anyone. It was organized ‘on the fly’ by people who care about stopping this illegal building.” As for whether it was appropriate for Wymore to speak, she would only say, “Mel is a known community leader. He’s been out there on development issues for a long time.”

That wasn’t quite how Rosenthal saw things. “This event was planned by my office, along with the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development,” Rosenthal emailed, “to announce the filing of the zoning challenge to the proposed building at 200 Amsterdam. The list of speakers was discussed and decided by my office and the Committee the night before the event. It included those who had signed on to the challenge as well as the Public Advocate.”

“When we divide ourselves and exclude community voices for political reasons, we throw away our power as a community,” said Wymore, who ultimately did not speak.

We will be publishing more coverage of the rally and the attempt to stop the development.

NEWS | 62 comments | permalink
    1. Mike says:

      Helen Rosenthal – everything wrong w/ politics in our society.

    2. Howard Freeman says:

      I respect Mel Wymore greatly and may vote for him when the time comes. But clarity would help: did his “involvement” stem from his platform with CB7 and necessary committee work, or was it independent of that?

      • Jens says:

        I voted for Mel the first time around based on his CV. And I was right. Helen has been a disappointment. An viting for Mel again.

    3. Bob says:

      Even if Rosenthal organized the rally as long as Wymore did not use his opportunity to speak as a political front then I see nothing wrong with it. In the end, Wymore is just another UWS resident with as much right to express his opinions as Rosenthal. It also happens that he is in agreement with Rosenthal on the issue.
      All it would have taken was five minutes for Rosenthal and Wymore to sit down and agree to be united and on this front and for neither to use the opportunity to make political comments.

      • B.B. says:

        Leave us make one thing clear; unless am missing something Ms. Rosenthal did *NOT* organize that rally. That was done by others, then at very last minute the Rosenthal woman attached her name to the thing, and then put a link on her official website inviting people to sign up for the thing.

        Several years ago when plans were afoot to create this massive zoning lot, and or the building began the long and complicated process for review by the city was the time for Ms. Rosenthal to speak out. But she didn’t; now just four months before the election and facing a strong opponent (how often does that happen in NYC politics to an incumbent?), the good council woman has gotten religion and seen the light.

        Good riddance to bad rubbish. Even if the protests are unsuccessful one thing has been accomplished, Ms. Rosenthal has been shown as a typical political party hack.

    4. WALLY says:

      Helen Rosenthal must go! She has done nothing for the district….everybody knows she got elected on a fluke, because most people thought she was Linda Rosenthal

    5. UWSider2 says:

      Typical Helen – once again staying completely out of the picture until the very last minute and trying to swoop in like some hero. She pulled the same nonsense with the school rezoning.

    6. UWSHebrew says:

      Why do so many liberals refuse to allow others to speak? It’s so un-American.

    7. Alan Bettman says:

      Two years ago Helen Rosenthal said “Nothing can be done” and proceeded to sit on her hands during critical hearings and meetings that could have derailed the project. NOW in the 13th hour, after seeing the tremendous outcry, she tries to attach her useless office to a populist sentiment. I was there when Wymore, who DID secure the sound permit from cops, was blocked from speaking. He should have insisted but I guess he took the high road. The LandMark West people enabled the sham and allowed Rosenthal to lay claim to the role of “moderator’ for the event. Her campaign manager was on the fringe recording her speech which I’m sure will be used during her campaign. She crudely concluded by sending people at the rally to her website. All Rosenthal is interested in is getting re-elected to set herself up to become Public Advocate or Controller. The UWS is just a bus stop to her on her trip. She has got to go in Sept. Can we all rid ourselves of the public non-servant?

    8. UWS mom says:

      I am so disappointed in Helen Rosenthal. She did nothing to represent the local residents in the recent changes to traffic on 81st Street. I don’t understand what her priorities are, but they are certainly not those of the UWS.

    9. Utah Sullivan says:

      Clearly Mel Wymore is the best thing to hit Helen Rosenthal since she traded her last favors. I’ve been watching Wymore since Jimmy Breslin’s funeral. He wants the job because he wants to do the job that it appears Rosentgsl only sees as a stepping stone to the next one. She doesnt give a f$uck about the UWS. if she has any sense, political or common she’d get out of her Town Car and partner with Wymore, or at least take a page from his civic minded book.

    10. EGF says:

      Wood needs to exercise caution and restraint when using words like “this illegal building”. There has been no evidence of anything “illegal” presented thus far. Unethical and misleading?…maybe, but those are far from illegal.

    11. Sherman says:

      I don’t like that Helen Rosenthal but she has a point.

      Wymore is her opponent and it was chutzpah for Wymore to expect to speak at a rally Rosenthal organized.

      • Molly Fowler says:

        But I was part of an organizing group for this event…and it was NOT organized by people who identified themselves as working for Helen Rosenthal. Mel lives, like the rest of us, on the UWS. I don’t understand why Helen had to divide people on this matter and make Mel into a politician. If she cares about the issue, she should lead and unite. Instead she divided the people.

    12. John Creasy says:

      This is what happens when you don’t pay attention to local politics, and assume your vote doesn’t matter. I mistakenly voted for Helen, thinking she was Linda Rosenthal. I regret I wasn’t focused, but that’s now all changed. I can promise you I won’t make that mistake again when I vote in the Fall.

      Helen Rosenthal represents EVERYTHING that is wrong in politics. She needs to be voted out of office.

    13. Spence Halperin says:

      What a shameful display by Rosenthal. I have seen her treat constituents the same way.

    14. E Freeman says:

      Mel Wymore has been a great community leader on the UWS for 22 years. His work is well documented. Mel had already been meeting with community groups and individuals concerned about this project and others similar to this for several weeks. We wanted to hear what Mel had to say. To not allow Mel to speak at this community event showed our Council Person Rosenthal to be both petty and not having the best interests of the UWS in her heart.

    15. Francis says:

      Pleased to see so many community members and leaders focused on the key objective —
      a proportionate, legal building that fits into the area and does not place PS 199 in perpetual shadows.

    16. Sue Susman says:

      Helen Rosenthal has her office staff working non-stop on tenant issues both for individuals and for larger policy: She has been a very strong advocate for the right to counsel in housing court and for an end to harassment by construction – important bills that the City Council has passed.

      • Ian Alterman says:

        With respect, Sue, even if all you say is true, it would make her largely a one-issue candidate, as far as many of the people posting here are concerned. And that is simply not good enough for the upper West side.

    17. Anonymous says:

      Suppression of speech by a government official. Maybe Ms. Rosenthal would consider reading the U.S. Constitution which guarantees the right to speak – IN EXACTLY THIS KIND OF FORUM – under the First Amendment?

    18. concerned Lincoln Sq resident says:

      The rally was needed, but both Gail Brewer and Helen Rosenthal could have raised these issues months ago when the plans for 200 Amsterdam Ave were 1st made public. To not allow others to speak, even if it’s someone who will run against her, doesn’t show an ability to work with others. Just like Trump, which is not something she should want!!

      • sg says:

        Don’t you mean Obama…he’s the guy who governed via diktat err EO…so glad that President Trump is rolling many back

    19. Bruce Bernstein says:

      I’m glad to see the competition between Helen Rosenthal and Mel Wymore to be the MOST opposed to this building. that can only be good for the community. the more each of them does to stop it, the better.

      So while they’re at it — how about opposing and trying to stop another over-the-top (in this case, literally) project by the very same developer. I’m talking about the building on 95th and West End (711 West End), which will cantelever 14 stories of upper income condos over an existing rent stabilized building.

      I am very skeptical about the plans and that this building is safe. it appears to be developer over-reach. Our Council Person and any and all opponents should look into this.

    20. Ian Alterman says:

      Rosenthal betrayed her constituents massively by not only accepting the AMNH expansion project into Roosevelt Park, but by providing funding for it – all with without ONCE reaching out to her constituency to see how they felt about it. (The majority are strongly opposed to it.)

      In this case, she was essentially nowhere when this project was announced, and did not become truly interested until she saw which way the political wind was blowing.

      Maybe Rosenthal HAS done some good things for her constituents. But overall she is simply another political hack.

      • Filatura says:

        Please provide documentation for your assertion that the majority are (sic)against the expansion of NMNH into Roosevelt Park. The majority of what? According to which vote or poll?

        • Filatura says:

          Sorry, AMNH.

        • Jay says:

          It’s with the poll that says the majority of UWS residents would like this project stopped, which is to say it doesn’t exist.

          NIMBYs only talk to other NIMBYs, so they have a perception issue.

      • Ian Alterman says:

        Perhaps I should have been more accurate and said that the majority of those who have voiced an opinion are opposed to it. In fact, the overwhelming majority of those who attended the first two meetings at AMNH (the second one was attended by almost 300), and the overwhelming majority of those who attended the recent Town Hall meeting all voiced opposition to the project as it was originally conceived. Indeed, so strong was the opposition that AMNH went back to the drawing board and revised its plan not once, but twice.

        If you don’t attend meetings or voice your opinion when and where it counts, you don’t get to make snarky comments like the one you made.

    21. NPK says:

      Helen Rosenthal is slow to respond to many things happening on the Upper West Side. I will have a closer look at Mel Wymore this time around. Helen leans towards politics as usual.

    22. West Side Neighbor says:

      As a neighbor residing close to 200 Amsterdam, I don’t feel opposing its “legality” this late in the game is a good use of our community’s human resources.

      It seems to me a far more rewarding use of energies would be to tackle for future the concerning practices and inequities in play now and before this new building was greenlighted —and possibly continuing even after the building is in use.

      These would be (1) the practices/ loopholes in place whereby the developer was able to could cobble together air rights from multiple locations to gain the height allowance they did in the first place. (Surely this will be/ may be already tried again.)
      And (2) the post new construction inequities which recently have occurred –and may continue to occur–allowing school zoning to be altered in this same area in a way favoring residents of new buildings and removing decades-long established school zoning of current residential buildings.

      Also, it might be good to keep in mind that even if the unlikely happens and enthusiastic West Siders eventually win the surely huge and daunting fight which will take place, this same energy would be better much spent stopping far more offensive and larger/ wider buildings in the neighborhood from getting their permits to start with.
      It may also be good to take note that 200 Amsterdam that has quite decent architecture –rare in our neighborhood’s new construction –and will house
      just 112 apartments in a narrow structure. (I for one don’t think I would want to see it replaced with a likely far uglier and a bit shorter building.)

    23. Concerned constituent says:

      There are a lot of taxpaying residents who depend on the public schools living in 165 and 185 West End Ave who, right or wrong, will remember how wealthy private school parent Helen Rosenthal dispensed with their concerns during the school redistricting fiasco.

    24. Bob says:

      The anti-NIMBY voices never tell us exactly where they live. I think they might actually be OKIYBY proponents – OK In Your Back Yard.

    25. ernie von Simson says:

      This shows Helen to be unfit for office.

    26. Think Again says:

      Despite overwhelming opposition to moving PS 452, Helen Rosenthal failed to stand up for her constituents. Instead, she sided with bureaucrats who were desperate to pass any re-zoning proposal after years of coming up short. She cannot be trusted.

    27. S Braxton says:

      Rosenthal clearly represents Rosenthal and not our neighborhood. I have heard Mel Wymore speak courageously and convincingly for what is best about our UPW neighborhoods. Given all the empty storefronts and impersonal skyscrapers that benefit Rosenthal’s big bucks donors, my vote will go to Mel Wymore on September 12.

    28. Dr. Cary Goodman says:

      I am the ONLY candidate in the race with a fully-developed platform.

      My campaign includes defending Roosevelt Park, eliminating school segregation, supporting small businesses and combating cutbacks in senior services.

      I’ll be at the Amsterdam Street Fair on Sunday between 83 & 84 Street.

      Please stop by,introduce yourself and tell me what you think about these and other neighborhood issues.

      • Sherman says:

        “Ending school segregation”

        Ha! Best laugh I’ve had all day!

        With all the commotion over the PS 199/PS 191 rezoning I highly doubt “ending school segregation” is going to be a popular platform to run on.

        • Dr. Cary Goodman says:

          Ending school segregation isn’t, “something to run on.” It is a social, educational and moral imperative for all of us.

          As a former public school teacher and public school parent I recognize the catastrophe of segregation and its impact on our oommunities.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            it’s truly astounding that anyone could enter a comment in support of school segregation. and claim at the same time that this is popular.

            but i guess i shouldn’t be astounded.

            • Ben Daivd says:

              When you say segregation, please clarify: White, black, Asian, Jew, Justin Bieber fans, etc.?

    29. david says:

      it is a political mistake to not let Mel speak
      This local politics and Mel, current CB member past CB Chair is a voice and leader and this is an important issue that needs a unified front… Helen is making it a political rally bad decision

    30. Hully Gully says:

      We should all start doing the Helen Dance! First you move in between two partners to separate them, forcing the partner to your right to move to where you originally were, and then you quickly grab for the mike. It’s the dance craze that’s sweeping the nation!

    31. cy a adler says:

      She should have let him speak.

      Cy A

    32. Pedestrian says:

      I just read that you interfered with Mel Wymore when he tried to speak at the rally regarding 200 Amsterdam. I find your behavior appalling and inappropriate. Mel Wymore has been active on land use issues for years. In fact, I think it is fair to say that while you have be absent from this fight or on the other side, Mel Wymore has been consistently working on the community’s behalf.

      You owe Mel Wymore and the rest of the community a public apology. You should take a few classes on how a public official should behave. Shutting down opponents is a Trumpian move. It doesn’t not reflect well on you or the Democratic Party.

    33. Dr. Sandy Kahn says:

      sounds like two babies having a will struggle over who owns the ball. It’s disgraceful on both sides since neither was mature enough to back down. It certainly takes away from the fact that they are both on the same side.

    34. Maria Fernandez says:

      The proposed expansion of the Museum (AMNH) into public parkland is an example of using public funds for a private institutions enrichment, at the same time that the museum will receive 100 million dollars, services for seniors are being cut. This hundred million dollars would serve a better purpose in our schools, fixing our streets and sidewalks and combating homeless.

    35. West70thSt says:

      Add it to the long list of things that Helen Rosenthal owes our community an apology for. Mel, let me know where to send my campaign contribution.

      • UWSonevoice says:

        Strength is in numbers. We need a unified voice to defeat this building. Helen should have put politics aside and let Mel speak. SHAME on Helen Rosenthal. Not to mention, she had years to take a stand and oppose this building. But Helen never did take a stand. Only when it’s a contested election year and she has a formidable candidate such as Mel. Mel, I’m sorry Helen, a government official, shut down your right to speak. (How ironic, and sad.) You have my vote, and I’ll talk you up to others in the community as well. District 6 needs real change now. Good luck, Mel.

    36. Manny M says:

      Mel, this to shall pass as I I return 5/14,& would like to get together ASAP as Rosenthal can and will be defeated.

    37. Steve says:

      And I thought my councilman was bad!

    38. Nikki B. says:

      Helen, is a disaster and needs to go.

      • ChangePlease says:

        I could not have said it better myself. I had heard stories that Helen can be a bit of bully against those who stand in her way but never believed it. Now that I saw this video, I believe it. Is she the Democratic UWS Trump? She does need to go. Those who want change should tell 2 of their neighbors to vote Mel. And ask them to tell 2 of their friends to do the same. I feel very deceived since I voted for Helen last time. I won’t make that mistake again!

    39. robert says:

      “Mel Wymore has been active for years…”
      Seems to be the main stream of thought here.
      She would be a disaster for the UWS and the city as a whole. The positions she has and is pushing are so far out there as to be ridiculous.
      We don’t need more regulations on retail on the UWS. The vast majority of “mom & pops” left in the 70’s & 80’s. Now with these faux reg.’s to help them we have tracts of vacant stores on all of the Avenues on the UWS. There have been repeated “fix’s” the same intersections in regards to transport/traffic on the UWS. For ex. all the work on 96 & B’way has just moved the same problem to Amsterdam and West End. With the traffic calming measures put in on B’way from 103 to 93 street have caused havoc on West End. Large trucks etc now use WEA causing massive traffic jams that block the intersections and add pollution, noise etc. And before some here bash’s the lack of enforcement, the 24 is doing all it can but remember this is the result that our local elected and self appointed community leaders keep telling ever body that his is what everybody wants. And violent crime in the area is expanding in the area so they have more calls. This will be a long hot summer as the “war” between the Douglas House’s (100 st) & the Wise Tower(92&94 st). They have been having regular shooting, assaults etc on each other. These have been at all times of day, usually with innocent people caught in between or nearby.

    40. No, I'm not a Trump Supporter says:

      Regardless of your vote I find this whole thread disappointing and disgusted. I don’t read UWS Rag to get my news so set your facts straight about the event. Most whining without stating facts. Discuss *actual* results and actions instead of whining. Instead of complaining here on a platform hardly read, get out and do something more for your community outside of whining. I do. I’ve educated myself on what Helen has actually done for the community which ties to matters that are important to her constituents in comparison to other council members. She may not be at the top of *your* personal focus list for the UWS, it take a moment and do the research on what she’s done before berating her like a child on an Internet forum. It’s mostly you that looks foolish.

    41. Jared Goldstein says:

      I can’t decide who I agree with on this, but let’s not deceive ourselves — there was political motivation by both candidates not just HR. I can support HR on this since there is no doubt that the reason Wymore wanted to be heard is political and for his own self-interest. So, HR responding in her own self-interest is not shocking.

      That said, I am going to review HR’s record and compare it with Wymore’s aspirations to see who I will vote for. For me, protecting vulnerable populations (including animals, seniors, children in domestic violence situations) is most important. I will vote for the person with the balls to get things done that are right and that benefit those who need the most help, as well as our community generally.

    42. CIvic Minded says:

      What’s up with likeness McCarthyism of attacking NYCC HELEN so viciously?
      Clearly,the Museum new parking is a hot issue.
      There was NEVER any mistake in name recognition HELEN was endorsed by many – she care about people.
      Her office is professional,fair and a fact she works hard in City Hall with others.
      She is steadfastly representing her diverse constituents out and about doing her job!
      Accessible HELEN Rosenthal is a formidable incumbent let’s show a little respect.

    43. Murray Schwartz says:

      And did you ever notice Ms Rosenthal’s signature? When she signs her first name one letter “e” is script and the other “e” is printed. It’s extremely bizarre.