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Rent Control

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Manhattan Rents Continue to Rise, Amaze, Defy Logic and Rationality

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If you hear fireworks overhead tonight, it's probably the city's many, many real-estate agents celebrating: There's news today that the average monthly rent on a Manhattan studio — a studio! — is closing in on $2,000. According to the latest data from Citi Habitats, in the last year the average studio apartment went for $1,995 a month, compared to $1,659 four years prior. This data flies in the face of the theory that, while the condo market is still incomparably hot, the rental field was supposed to have plateaued.

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Rent!

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• The Rent Guidelines Board last night split the difference between a tenants' proposal and one from landlords and settled on renewal increases of 3 and 5 percent for one- and two-year leases, respectively, in rent-stabilized apartments. Both sides, predictably enough, railed against the decision. [NYP]

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To Run or Not to Run

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• As Mayor Bloomberg continues to deny that he's running for president, the Times reports that his top aides have been testing that scenario for the last two years. Just a coincidence! [NYT] • With mere hours left until the legislative session ends, Governor Spitzer is leaning on Shelly Silver to consider congestion pricing. Spitzer's bold step: to "discuss creating a commission of experts." Ooh, effective! [NYS] • In Episode 4,387 of the McGreevey soap opera, the ex-gov filed new papers with a New Jersey family court — to dismiss Dina Matos's charge that his coming-out had traumatized their daughter. [NYP] • Despite some politicians' calls for a rent freeze, the Rent Guidelines Board has recommended increases "between 2 and 4.5 percent" (in other words, 4.5 percent) on New York's stabilized apartments. [amNY] • And a guy goes on the lam for violating probation, gets tracked down by U.S. marshals right here in Manhattan, fights the arrest, breaks his arm, and goes to jail. That the guy is a close friend of Bernard Kerik's shouldn't be much of a shock. [NYDN]

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Is This the End of Braunstein?

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Faux firefighter Peter Braunstein will be sentenced today at noon, and our short citywide nightmare shall be over. Oh, jeez, will he write a book in jail? Clemency! [amNY] • The Matos-vs.-McGreevey matter keeps getting more colorful. Now Dina Matos is claiming her ex-husband is sabotaging not just her book sales but her charity work as well. Fellow fund-raisers snip that she's "taken her eye off the ball." [NYP] • The New York State Restaurant Association is suing, mostly on behalf of fast-food franchises like McDonald's and Burger King, for the right not to disclose calorie count on the menus. They're crying Big Government. [Crain's NY] • City Comptroller William Thompson is about to become housing activists' darling: He thinks the recent property-tax cut should trigger a rent freeze in stabilized apartments. [NYDN] • And Eliot Spitzer is apparently ruining Albany's nightlife. Not through regulation, mind you; it's just that his staffers are more coffee-shop people than bar people. Figures. [NYT]

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Hands Across the East Village

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Proving that everything eighties is hot again, an estimated 7,000 New York City tenants and tenant activists formed a human chain around the massive, recently sold, increasingly rent-destabilized Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village apartment complex last night — it's Hands Across the East Village! — to protest rising rents and demand state laws to protect affordable housing. But did they really really ring that big old thing, which stretches from 14th to 23rd Streets and First Avenue to Avenue C?

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2,750

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• The city's medical examiner has, for the first time, directly tied a death to 9/11 dust, thus making Felicia Dunn-Jones the 2,750th victim of the attack. The decision's potential impact is, obviously, enormous. [NYDN] • Yesterday's human chain around Stuy Town, apart from serving up a mini-flashback to Hands Across America, had a specific purpose: to repeal the law that allows landlords to deregulate apartments once the rent hits $2,000. [Metro NY] • The city is closing its high schools for pregnant girls, sixties inventions now beset with "abysmal test scores [and] poor attendance" (in one hair-raising example, a quilting class was being passed off as geometry). [NYT] • After facing suits for a few knee-jerk post-9/11 arrests, the city reached a deal with the New York Civil Liberties Union to stop pestering photographers and filmmakers operating handheld cameras on the street. No permit is now needed. [amNY] • And an infamous distributor of pirated Web content has been sentenced to five years for a real-world crime of, well, blowing up a portable toilet. It's like when they got Al Capone on tax charges, except not. [NYP]

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Good Grief

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• Hundreds of people, not all of them Muslims, attended the Islamic funeral ceremony for the nine children and a mother who perished in the last week's fire. Mayor Bloomberg quoted the Koran; strangers offered to rebuild the house and pay for the funerals. [NYT] • The newly berserk Health Department shut down Union Square's Coffee Shop after finding 120 violation points. The department's management, meanwhile, denies a concerted crackdown, saying inspectors are told to "adhere to current policies." That's a crackdown. [WNBC] • The indefatigable Clipper Equity, whose $1.3 billion Starrett City bid was killed to the applause of every authority imaginable, is back with a new offer: same price plus ironclad "proof" it won't raise rents. How will it make money, then? Why, build more housing on the property. [NYP] • Here's a good moral-compass exercise: Try to work up some compassion for Jeannie Kraph, who says she's being muscled out of her Williamsburg rental. Kraph has been paying $150 a month in rent for the last 50 years. [amNY] • And Al Sharpton does nothing to disprove his supposed jealousy of Barack Obama (cited in the Post) by fuming to the usually Al-friendlier Daily News about senator's "nerve." "I want to know his position on police brutality!" He loves it, Rev. [NYDN]

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