Marvin Markus Resigns as Rent Guidelines Board Chair
By Eliot Brown January 13, 2010 3:21 pmreprints
Now vacant in the Bloomberg administration: a job that requires being yelled at for hours on end, hosting countless public meetings, making decisions that will leave everyone mad at you. The pay: $125 a day.
Late last year, Marvin Markus sent the city a letter of resignation from his post as chairman of the Rent Guidelines Board, the agency that sets rent increases for the city’s 1 million rent-regulated units. Now, with the post open, the folks at City Hall have the trying task of finding someone new to act as a sponge for vituperation from landlords and tenants, absorbing the insults and then setting a reasonable rent hike each year.
“Why anybody wants to do this is nuts,” said Joe Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents landlords. “It’s a thankless position.”
Mr. Markus, a managing director at Goldman Sachs who didn’t shy from fighting back at those who would scream at him at RGB meetings, is leaving the post after eight years on the job under Mayor Bloomberg, along with another five under Ed Koch.
He is no fan of the existing rent-regulation structure, and is one of few to actually propose a major overhaul of the system, which has a large share of critics on both sides. His plan would better factor in income, exempting the poor from paying more than they could afford while removing the responsibility from landlords of effectively subsidizing the regulated units.
Tenant advocates are most certainly not crying about the departure.
“Marvin Markus is leaving? Glory hallelujah,” said Mike McKee, executive director of the tenant group Housing Here and Now.
Mr. McKee and other housing advocates have never been fans of Mr. Markus-they’ve labeled him Marvin Markup-characterizing him as pro-landlord, allowing major rent increases at times when tenants could not afford them.
The Rent Guidelines Board is a mishmash of members, with those who are to represent landlords, two who represent tenants, and five who represent the public at large. More than any else, the chair can expect to be the public face, and perhaps even earn a derisive nickname.