GREENWICH VILLAGE — Former congressman Anthony Weiner took it on the chin from his mayoral rivals at a forum Thursday — and not about his past sexting escapades.
At a Thursday morning candidate forum on senior citizens issues at New York University, Weiner was chided by his former City Council colleague and current Democratic mayoral rival Sal Albanese over a vote Weiner took to eliminate vacant apartment rent controls back in 1994. The law that passed with Weiner’s help allowed vacant apartments that could be rented for $2,000 or more to be released from rent control.
“He promised tenants and neighbors he was going to vote against vacancy decontrol, and at the last minute he turned around and voted for vacancy decontrol,” Albanese said, drawing moans from the audience.
Weiner shot back, calling Albanese a “demagogue” before defending his vote, saying that Republicans in Albany would have ended rent regulations entirely if compromises weren’t made at the city level.
“If I had my druthers between no one getting any coverage, and having some wealthier people not getting some coverage, that choice was clear,” he said. Weiner then compared his vote to deregulate rent control on vacant apartments with his decision to vote for President Obama's health care plan.
“I believed in a single-payer system for our national healthcare. I didn’t get it. But I got Obamacare, which made life better for a lot of people,” he said. “The demagogues of the world were saying you should have just taken your ball and gone home. I don't roll like that.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a day after being arrested during a protest over hospital closures, took issue with the former congressman’s health care characterization.
“Anthony, you didn't get Obamacare. President Obama got Obamacare,” de Blasio said to a round of applause. “I know you have a tendency to think the world revolves around you, but it was President Obama.”
De Blasio then shot back at Weiner over his rent deregulation defense.
“You can't defend a vote on vacancy decontrol by saying you had no choice and there was nothing else we could do. It has been a huge error for this city that you and others brought us vacancy decontrol,” said de Blasio. “It's absolutely bull that you said you had no choice. You could have stood up and said, 'No, we're not going to let these units go out of affordability, not on your watch.' So just own it.”