100 Most Powerless New Yorkers

A 'power list' for the rest of us

12. The New York Public Library's homeless patrons

Spend some time in the city's public libraries (not the fancy main research building on Fifth Avenue with the lions, but its dumpy cousin across the street or any of the branch libraries), and you'll know what it's like to be in a mental asylum. It's here where legions of the city's homeless and mentally ill residents, with nowhere else to go, spend their days. They're sleep deprived, and if they nod off (or their eyes close for even a few moments), they are harassed by library security. The library is a warm place, but not especially comfortable, and there are few bathrooms. (Like anyone, homeless patrons are, however, allowed to look at porn, and we've even noticed some using the library's Wi-Fi to set up appointments to engage in sex work from time to time.)

13. The NYPL's librarians

Perhaps the only people less powerful in the library system than the homeless patrons are the librarians themselves. Gone are the days when a master's degree in library science and a job in the nation's largest public-library system meant that you would spend your days helping writers to research and mesmerizing people with your encyclopedic knowledge of the Dewey decimal system. Today's NYPL librarian needs to be a social worker, a specialist at dealing with the homeless and the severely mentally ill, a computer-tech wiz at solving people's Wi-Fi problems, and a job (and suicide-prevention) counselor helping people look for jobs that simply don't exist. Even those librarians at the flagship Fifth Avenue main branch (who have been inoculated to some degree from the shit storm of the branch libraries) are preparing for it. As a recent article in The Nation reported, the 3 million books beneath the Rose Reading Room will soon be shipped off to a storage facility in New Jersey and replaced by seven floors of computer terminals. As a former NYPL librarian said of the branch across the street and the main branch's future: "That place is utter chaos. And it will all come here—the noise, the teenage problems, the circulating DVDs."

14. Mary Lee Ward, an 82-year-old being evicted in Bed-Stuy

"Ms. Ward," as she's affectionately known in Bed-Stuy, received a predatory loan in 1996 of $10,000. Despite never receiving the money (and the broker losing his license and his firm being shut down by the state for predatory practices), Ward's loan was considered delinquent, was bundled and repackaged multiple times, and resulted in her home being sold at auction last year. She has only evaded being kicked out because of Organizing for Occupation's eviction blockades around her house, which started in August. Almost as powerless is Shameem Chowdury, who bought Ward's house at auction in 2008. Because Wells Fargo, who sold the home to him, couldn't provide the actual deed, he might not legally be the owner of the house he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for.

15. Building supers

Although they can come into your apartment and collect your rent, many times, building supers are just another powerless cog in the real estate machine. Often working off the books, their payment can be in the form of an apartment to live in, sometimes in the basement or an undesirable part of their building. At the whim of employers for their livelihood and their home, supers are very much at their mercy.

16. Mark Green, former Public Advocate/perennial candidate

Of the three people who have been Public Advocate, the most powerless is Mark Green, the perennial candidate whom no one likes. Green eked out a win over Freddy Ferrer for the Democratic nomination for mayor in 2001 (which probably wouldn't have happened save for the fact that the primary was on September 11 that year and had to be rescheduled), only to go on to lose to a Republican named Michael Bloomberg who'd never held public office before. Since leaving office, Green has had such powerless stints as being president of Air America, losing to Andrew Cuomo in the 2006 Democratic nomination for attorney general, and, most humiliating, losing a runoff to Bill de Blasio just to be nominated to run for the Public Advocate job he'd already inhabited. (Green craves publicity and public acceptance so much, we imagine he'll tweet with pride that he made this list. However, he's so powerless, he doesn't even have a Twitter, just a Facebook fan page with only 182 likes that hasn't been updated since 2009.)

17. Ruben Diaz Sr., state senator

"Papi" has been a one-trick pony throughout his career, basing his power largely on one thing: hatin' on the gays. When the Marriage Equality Act passed, making Diaz Sr. the sole Democrat and senator of color to vote against it, Diaz's bigotry-based power dissipated entirely on June 24, 2011, and rendered him irrelevant. His power was further tarnished when the Bronx's gay Community Pride Center moved into a building bearing his name.

18. Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx borough president

"Junior" has been wrapped up in an Oedipal political relationship with his father throughout his career. How much he's his dad's whipping boy became clear during Bronx Week, the kind of ceremonial shit that's the highlight of a powerless position like borough president. "Papi" decided to have an anti-gay marriage rally right on the steps of Junior's office, under his Bronx Week signs, during the Bronx Week parade (and at the same time as the AIDS Walk). Junior, who tries to swing both ways when it comes to gay rights, was so powerless in that situation that he ignored his father's rally, wouldn't renounce or endorse it, and was AWOL the first day same-sex marriages started happening in his office building a few months later.

19. Patrick Sullivan, Manhattan's Panel for Educational Policy appointee
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72 comments
Danielle Russell
Danielle Russell

So the bigger worry about smokers is a fire? So will they ban candles, stove tops, fryers, and a myriad of other household items that can cause fires? Lif is unpredictable.

Rustyn
Rustyn

Article seems to just reload page 6 for now. :/

Fran Levy
Fran Levy

How dare you buy into the lies of NYClass and put carriage horses on this list without actually investigating the facts? One carriage horse died, and the necropsy performed at Cornell showed absolutely no signs of abuse. Maybe the animal rights activists poisoned him, who knows what lengths these people will go to, after all PETA kills more animals per year than any other shelter. The other 2 tripped, and got up, completely uninjured. I am sick of the lies, the libel, and the gross exaggeration that has been going on lately without anyone actually investigating anything resembling facts, or doing any fact checking. And BTW< I am NOT a carriage driver. Just someone who takes the time to get facts straight, looks beneath the surface of any radical group,, and often finds all kinds of conflict of interest going on. Your reporters ought to visit the carriage barn.

The disgruntled NYer
The disgruntled NYer

Re. Bill Thompson being on the list, it's so sad any true democrat who fights for the working class and NYC's character would on this list and that the lying, cheating, and stealing will get their way in the "blue state". Anyone who still thinks New York is a democratic state is sadly deluding themselves.

Laura
Laura

Please add CUNY system adjuncts instructors to the list. The reasons are:1. Adjunct instructors can only get paid 10 credit hours (at around $65 per hour before income taxes) per week at one campus. They can work at most 15 credit hours per week in CUNY system, due to some rules and regulations. So it is very difficult for adjunct instructors to have a "middle-class"life.

2. The evaluation of NYC housing agency states that single adjunct instructors would have the low priority to get a city-owned rental apartment, because their income may be too high. (If working at one campus for 10 credit hours per week, the total income is about $2500 X 8 months = $20 000 before taxes for one-person household.)

3. There are many holders of advanced academic degrees (masters, doctorates) among CUNY adjuct instructors. However, if they can not get decent jobs with their education, it would be funny for these "professors" to tell students that good education would help them get out of proverty.

4. In order to attract good candidates for CUNY system and SUNY colleges in NYC, I hope that: a. NYC and NYS governments must re-consider some rules and regulation regarding the working conditions of adjunct instructors in CUNY and SUNY systems, in order to have sustained developement in the public higher education for the labor force in the city and the state.b. NYC government must consider a more favorable housing policy for professionals who work in the field of public higher education.

We would love to work more, but we just could not do anything to change the situation. Therefore, we are one of the most powerless professionals in NYC even in USA.

Laura
Laura

Please add CUNY system adjuncts instructors to the list. The reasons are:1. Adjunct instructors can only get paid 10 credit hours (at around $65 per hour before income taxes) per week at one campus. They can work at most 15 credit hours per week in CUNY system, due to some rules and regulations. So it is very difficult for adjunct instructors to have a "middle-class"life.

2. The evaluation of NYC housing agency states that single adjunct instructors would have the low priority to get a city-owned rental apartment, because their income may be too high. (If working at one campus for 10 credit hours per week, the total income is about $2500 X 8 months = $20 000 before taxes for one-person household.)

3. There are many holders of advanced academic degrees (masters, doctorates) among CUNY adjuct instructors. However, if they can not get decent jobs with their education, it would be funny for these "professors" to tell students that good education would help them get out of proverty.

4. In order to attract good candidates for CUNY system and SUNY colleges in NYC, I hope that: a. NYC and NYS governments must re-consider some rules and regulation regarding the working conditions of adjunct instructors in CUNY and SUNY systems, in order to have sustained developement in the public higher education for the labor force in the city and the state.b. NYC government must consider a more favorable housing policy for professionals who work in the field of public higher education.

We would love to work more, but we just could not do anything to change the situation. Therefore, we are one of the most powerless professionals in NYC even in USA.

David Casavis
David Casavis

Thank you for your blunt assessment of the uselessness of the City's Borough Presidencies.

Mercedes300d
Mercedes300d

Scratch my head over some of his 100 choices? More than that I'm in disbelief! Meter Maids around the UN. I've had a ticket and was able to take pictures of the meter with time left on it. My photos & documentation were ignored. They have a quota and fill it. It's like counting head and getting paid for it. What about people in NY who do not win their law suits because the opposition has a lot more money and able to pay (much less than a settlement might have been) until the court finally decides in their favor? The homeless, the elderly, people without health care insurance. By the way, any superintendent I've known takes a great deal of money on the side as bribes for opening doors for workmen, putting someone on the list for an apartment, answering for and providing service in a timely mannerm etc, etc, etc. Sometimes their "compensation" is in the tens-of-thousands. Mr. Thrasher, I think that you're a soft touch.

RENELL SHURN
RENELL SHURN

Thanks for rating my friends and Co-Workers #7. What?You had deadline issues for your "hipster snarkism" or something?This was very ignorant and condescending of you.And whether inadvertently or not, you just made us and some others on your "list" even more targeted for peoples' anger, stupidities, etc.

And why isn't The Village voice even on the top of the list?Because NATIVE New Yorkers know that you're paper hasn't meant SH*T since the late 80s.

Frank Frank Frank
Frank Frank Frank

The really most powerless new yorkers are the messengers who work for messenger services. They get minimum pay and only are allowed to work part time. Proof that they are the most powerless new yorkers is the fact that they have not even been mentioned here.

Guest
Guest

YO Back in the day the VOICE would be doing some investigative journalism & commentary regarding NDAA2012 and continuation of the Patriot Act with regards to the infringement and violation of human rights and civil liberties.

Miahman312
Miahman312

I qualify as not only a CUNY student, but also an Arab one. And who hasn't had to use the bathroom while out in the city?

I recently had over $150 of my food stamps cut and all of my cash assistance gone, even though I should have been getting much more since I was diagnosed with diabetes. Oh, and I'm autistic and on disability.

David Ruiz
David Ruiz

Why am I the most powerless New Yorker, yeah I earn far less than the chief distributor or trafficker but I haven't been assaulted, arrested, or robbed for the marijuana ever since I've been doing this for the last 4 years.

Fatty
Fatty

Is the writer familiar with the outer boros at all? The bodegas went away from the fashionable honkee areas because eating became a form of political expression there. The rest of us still eat heroes and crap like that. Even if a Walmart opened two blocks from me, I would still buy sammiches from the bodega guy, despite the fact that the bread ain't sprouted, gluten-free or any of that shit.

Joann Prinzivalli
Joann Prinzivalli

To the editor:

It's somewhat difficult to characterize Steven Thrasher's January 11, 2012 piece, //100 Most Powerless New Yorkers//. Some of the entries are humorous, some serious, some sad, and some just have factual errors.

I note that transgender (better without the "-ed") people, as individuals and in groups, occupy two of the slots (#53 and #65), and a homeless young lesbian another (#22 - she's symbolic of a group (homeless LGBT youth) that is reportedly more than half transgender-identified). As a group, transgender people are more powerless than most. So that's pretty true, and not humorous at all..

One of the factual errors involves the Empire State Pride Agenda (#57), as having become irrelevant due to the passage of the marriage bill in 2011. But transkids living in cardboard boxes on the piers, who can't get consistent identity papers, trans people who are denied jobs, refused service at restaurants, beaten and murdered for being who we are, are still waiting for the legislature to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a bill that would put us on the statewide human rights map. Pride Agenda is one of the groups that is at the forefront of the fight to get GENDA passed. There is also still work to be done in other areas that affect LGBT people. ESPA is far from irrelevant. I should know - I collaborate with Pride Agenda On GENDA and other issues, and GENDA is a top priority.

What's also sad is that with all the hoopla about marriage, GENDA has passed in the Assembly 4 times, and came within one vote of making it to the Senate floor in 2010.

One other related factual error - I would only hope that the "Rev." State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. (#17) actually was powerless. But I think that one is premature. He still stands in the way of GENDA's passage. Maybe after state senate redistricting and the 2012 elections, Sen. Diaz will be irrelevant when he is one of 35 or 36 Democrats in the Senate. In the meantime, he still clings to the power to make transgender lives miserable.

Joann PrinzivalliState Director,New York Transgender Rights Organization (NYTRO)

Caryn Keppler
Caryn Keppler

Re: #57 in your list of the Most Powerless New Yorkers: By suggesting that EPSA's work is complete because full LGBT equality has been achieved and powerlessness for the LGBT New York community has been eradicated with the passage of the New York Marriage Equality Act, is, in fact, ludicrous. What about the "T" in LGBT? Featuring homeless lesbians (#22) and transgender prostitutes (#65) in the article merely proves that members of the LGBT community still have a long road ahead before they can call themselves powerful and equal and have fair access to justice. In addition, use of the term "transgendered" shows a complete lack of cultural competency on the part of the journalists who write for the Village Voice. By inferring that the Empire State Pride Agenda has nothing left to do is ridiculous. I'm an attorney, ally and a member of a statewide coalition working on trans equality and justice. The coalition is made up of more than 40 representatives from all over New York State. We are working with ESPA to ensure equality and justice for all LGB AND T New Yorkers by advocating for the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and other trans specific legislation, as well as to increase funding for shelters for homeless youth, 40% of which happen to be LGB and T! We all look forward to the day when organizations such as ESPA will be obsolete but unfortunately that day has not yet come!

qrt145
qrt145

41 gas stations in all of Manhattan seems like plenty to me. The island is not that big.

I'm actually happy that the number of gas stations is decreasing. This is a densely populated city, so it is best to use this space for people (or parks, or shops), and not for smelly and ugly gas stations.

felixthecat
felixthecat

those poor carriage horses. it is awful how they live and die such a miserable life in NYC. They are literally worked to death. awful how we permit this abuse in front of our end. Please check this link to help these horses.

http://www.ny-class.org/

Mike
Mike

I don't see what the problem is...really. I understand that most people want to live the life of the average New Yorker, stylish clothes, lavish apartments and being seen in all the hip places, but...Haven't it occurred to you as it did with me, that I can't have all of that, that I have to just live my life within my means, That even as an adult with the way things are with our country, we still have to learn to crawl first before we start to walk all over again. Sure I would love to have a 6 figured income, nice apartment and car, but it 'just ain't' happening for me no matter how hard I try. But I don't give up. My field, Food Service, there are so many jobs out there you wouldn't believe. In fact, I've started 4 jobs since last April, and quit those 4 jobs cause I was happy there, I wasn't having any fun. Present job I am, pay sucks, but it pays the bills so to speak.

Beated in the head with commercials...go back to school, further your education. Yeah but in the process, rent has to be paid, food on the table and the school loan will some day come in the mail. Face it, only people who are to live in NYC are the very rich and the extremely poor. I know where I stand...do you>

Katherine Zavartkay
Katherine Zavartkay

THANK YOU, Mr. Steven Thrasher and "The Village Voice" for acknowledging the plight of the carriage horses! I am grateful that you recognize that they are living breathing creatures, and NOT inanimate machines that are to be used and abused simply to turn a profit. The horses are treated horribly; they truly ARE helpless members of the New York City community!

Danielle Agrr
Danielle Agrr

Great job!! I'm so happy that the carriage horses are getting positive attention! They are definitely helpess and worthy of being on this list. Horses are abused on the streets of Manhattan. The fact that there have been this many accidents and deaths of horses THAT WE KNOW OF is reason enough to ban them. If these drivers really cared about their horses, they wouldn't put them in danger by having them in the street.

Avon
Avon

Most of these are great reminders as to real life. But as to "79. Anyone who wants to see the 9/11 Memorial" (without being "lucky" enough to be grieving a death), the Voice is as flat-out wrong in fact as it is wrong-hearted. First of all, the Museum isn't open to anyone yet; families are getting a quiet room adjoining the Medical Examiner's repository of yet-unidentified or -unreturned remains, but that ain't so much.Want to visit the plaza? Just drop in at the 9/11 Museum Preview Center on Vesey St and there are at least three times a day they hand out free tickets to enter the plaza. (Having to go online way in advance is "information" that's months out of date.) It's peaceful, powerful, beautiful and intimate - thanks to crowd limits. Sine it's also the final resting place of over 1,000 of us whose remains were never recovered, isn't that all as it should be?

Scott A Hutchins
Scott A Hutchins

I should be on this list. I came to New York in 2003 to get a master's degree at the College of Staten Island. I had long suffered from undiagnosed cases of plantar fasciitis and and got sciatica while I was in school. A week after commencement, I was in the emergency room with a severe slipped disc. Trying to find work with a master's degree and an imperative for a desk job has been an impossibility in this city, and I spent much of 2011 in housing court. I was laid off just before my case got dismissed, so I have no way to pay my current rent, and my body is still a mess, but not badly enough to qualify for disability (because I can work a desk job). I was averaging seven interviews for every thousand resumes I sent, and the temp services told me not to call until they responded to my resume, which they mostly didn't. I revamped it about 2 dozen times, including with CSI's career center, SIBL library, and many others. My 22nd job interview in 3 years (not counting scams that begged me for money) was with a grad school colleague, who has just given me a chance to work for him, but I have to put all my belongings in storage and move to Florida for a 3-month trial. If I don't succeed, I'll lose everything I own and have nowhere to go.

And no, I do not have wealthy family who can get me out of a jam.

Yourstruly
Yourstruly

Joel Klein? I thought money was power.

DylayHsieh
DylayHsieh

The supposed progressive Village Voice is censoring postings and deleting post.I posted that I spoke to the Chinese delivery man Jin Fu who works his ass off working 13hrs a day to support his family and brought the great HOWARD STERN and his wife BETH whose net worth is approx $500 Million dollars $78 worth of food at his Upper Westside apartment and HOWARD STERN THE DICK gave a $2 Tip in the freezing rain. There was no outcry for justice for this hard working man who is barely able to feed himself and family. New Yorkers are not kind.

Gepap
Gepap

Can't you guys do basic fact checking before printing something? Reagan won NY in the 1984 election. I assume Thrasher knows Reagan was a Republican, right?

citikid
citikid

You missed the largest group of all:

NY COOP SHAREHOLDERS

Coop shareholders are the most disenfranchised apartment dwellers in the world. They have all of he responsibilities of property owners yet NONE of the rights. All of the risks of homeownership with almost none of the benefits. You can't even pass your home on to your heirs after death without "approval".And if you view Coop ownership through the prism of being a "shareholder" you'll find yourself just as disenfranchised. A coop might be the only type of stock purchase which affords shareholders virtually no transparency or protection and where the sale of stocks can be rejected.

Although there have been some newly proposed legislation in the past few years Coop leaseholders essentially have no government or private agency who will enforce their rights.

Until Coop apartments are given the same protection as other forms of home ownership you will begin to see more and more crisis situations arise as the Coop boom of the 80s matures and conflicts between shareholder and landlord end in disaster for the shareholder.

Coops need to be reformed so they are legislated and governed for what they are: "HOUSING"! A persons most personal and valuable asset.

Kwende Idrissa Madu
Kwende Idrissa Madu

As always the Voice is never afraid to take it to the streets! Great article.

J E
J E

The 8 milllion powerless non-Chosen people in NYC.Interfaith center? Anti-semiticFreedom of speech for disgusting gay sex pornography is ok in NYC but freedom of speech for Palestine is also anti-semitic.Want a quality public school education for your community? Anti-semitic except if you want your children to learn hebrew history at the taxpayer funded jewi$h school, then the city government is a powerful friend.

DataNiagara
DataNiagara

RE:100 Most Powerless New Yorkers. #EveryGuyShould Experience the DIVINE RITE of powerlessness experienced by successfully completing Step 1 of the 12 steps of Recovery laid down by Bill Wilson himself, founder of AA. It is the most powerless powerlessness anyone can achieve. Eventually I failed at it, though. Cocktail?

Amy Farley
Amy Farley

The Voice's 100 Most Powerless New Yorkers. Brilliant. Additions: Women (not named Beyonce) giving birth at Lennox Hill; Time Warner Cable customers.

Donny Moss
Donny Moss

Hundreds of local activists are trying to help the carriage horses, but we too are powerless because Christine Quinn has killed all legislative efforts to take these horses out of harm's way. As Speaker of the City Council, she has way TOO MUCH power: http://archive.constantcontact...

Laura Kolnick
Laura Kolnick

So, by saying People's Library is "powerless", you reinforce to idea that people are impotent products of their environment. Is this the message you want to send to your readers, Village Voice? The People's Library has a different notion.

Sincerely,a People's Librarian

MA_Benjamin
MA_Benjamin

State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., comes in at #17. His son, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., follows at #18. Apparently, their differing positions on same-sex marriage renders them both "powerless" New Yorkers. The writer's contoured and biased logic seems to confirm the belief by some Americans that the media is controlled by an LGBT mafia.

Rob
Rob

101. Me, Rob who never received his free Village Voice T-shirt as promised and has his emails regarding the whereabouts of his free T-shirt ignored.

Guess2
Guess2

The Voice is no longer relevant.I was hoping the decline would be addressed.Sadly I am mistaken

angryqueer
angryqueer

"In the meantime, he still clings to the power to make transgender lives miserable."

No offense, sir, but you guys manage to do that to your own selves just fine without needing to pin the responsibility on others.

Vern871
Vern871

The average New Yorker is powerless against the tyranny of the U.S government itself with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act combined with the Patriot Act on the eve of Martin Luther King Day and the disappearance of Civil Liberties and Human Rights in America.

reader
reader

The default sort for these comments is newest first. If you change it to oldest first, your original comment is right there at the top.

truth101
truth101

DylayHsieh, thank you! I tought it was just me that was being censored and having my posts deleted. Well so much for our gay progressive Village Voice being open minded. Well isn't this a real rats ass.

J Roberts
J Roberts

It's the nature of Capitalism. If the man doesn't like it go back to China. There are too many Chinese in the US already. They stole American jobs.

Cas_eindhoven
Cas_eindhoven

I hope they put some "special sauce" in the Sterns' food, as Howie might have put it in one of his numerous anti-Asian rants!

GeltMan
GeltMan

anything you say will be considered anti-semiticanything you say will be held against you.remember this is america.

Myriam Breitman
Myriam Breitman

So you think that gays are disgusting and that Jews control New York? The Tea Party is calling.

Cas_eindhoven
Cas_eindhoven

The problem with the Jews is that their fellow (closet) Jew, Hitler, gave them the Holocaust, which no forever seals their special status as untouchables.

Cas_eindhoven
Cas_eindhoven

Was there any pornography on the tables? I mean, of course, straight male ones. 'Cause that really all the (male) folks want!

truth101
truth101

No they did not take American's jobs. They were given to them by communist associates called the 1%ers. Who only care about the bottom line of profits.

 
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