But Just Who Is This Guy?

But Just Who Is This Guy?

Correction “Corrupt Slumlord?” The Resident Regrets the Error —
But Just Who Is This Guy?
by Corey Kilgannon
Westside Resident, April 10-16, 1997

In a recent article about a March 13 forum of Democratic candidates for Manhattan borough president, the “Resident” described how a questioner challenged Lower East Side Councilman Antonio Pagan.

The unnamed questioner was incorrectly paraphrased as calling another unnamed person a corrupt slumlord. The “Resident” regrets the error. But since errors are, as James Joyce once wrote, “portals of discovery,” both of the alleged misrepresented person’s claims warranted some investigation.

The questioner, Ira Manhoff, membership secretary for the Three Parks Independent Democrats Club, asked the councilman why he recommended for membership on Midtown’s Community Board 5 one Raymond Cline, whom Manhoff said was accused of illegally locking out a tenant from the Longacre Hotel, a Clinton single-room- occupancy hotel at 317 W. 45th St.

Manhoff later explained to the “Resident” that he was merely repeating charges stated in an article published in the “Tenant”, the newsletter for the Metropolitan Council on Housing, a tenant advocacy group.

“I was simply looking for a tough question for Pagan on tenant- landlord issues,” explained Manhoff, who said Cline has subsequently threatened to sue him for slander. “This was not a forum on Ray Cline,” scolded Lower East Side councilman Antonio Pagan.

Cline is also considering suing the Met Council for running the article, saying much of it was untrue. Cline, a Pagan supporter, said he is a freelance consultant, who works to “clean up” SROs in receivership.

He sought to clarify the “illegal eviction” in question. Cline claimed to have been hired as the managing agent for the receiver of the Longacre SRO Hotel. His primary duty was to offer $3,000 buyouts to mostly Senegalese tenants to vacate their rent regulated rooms. “My job was to clean up the drugs and prostitution,” said Cline, a Clinton resident who was trounced when he ran for City Council in 1989. His opponents were Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge and current Assemblyman Scott Stringer.

The incident, he said, occurred last September when a tenant, known as Uzman, was allegedly trying to extort money from landlords by telling tourists not to patronize the hotel. He also allegedly terrorized tenants. “This guy was beating up seniors in the hotel,” said Cline.

Cline said the landlord had paid Uzman $3,000 and agreed to drop charges against him on four previous arrests if he moved out. When Uzman returned and demanded entrance, despite a court order against it, the Police called Cline at his mother-in-law’s house and ordered him to admit the tenant. When Cline refused and showed the court order, the police arrested Cline.

The officer told me, “I make the law,” and arrested me, said Cline, who was released and had his charges dropped when the Manhattan District Attorney was notified. He said he is suing the police for false arrest for “a million, 2 million, my lawyer knows the figures.”

Cline, who at age 11, met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Albany, Ga., in 1961, said his only jail time was a 1968 arrest in Selden, Ala., during a civil rights demonstration. He was stabbed and spent a night in jail without medical attention.

He is a member of the Land Use and Zoning and Arts Culture and Tourism/Times Square committees of CB5. He was appointed to the board despite living and working outside of its boundaries.

Cline was described as a “political creature,” by Bob Kalin, a tenant advocate, who said Cline uses his political connections to work the system. “Ray is a person who found his particular niche in a field that is incredible political,” said Kalin. “Judges appoint friends as receivers.”

“Ray can be cordial, but when you look at what he does he’s a slimeball,” said John Fisher, a website designer and tenant advocate who published the soathing “Tenant” article on his website. Fisher lives next door to the Longacre and is co-chair of the block association there.

He said one of Cline’s blunders was to get bouncers from Private Eyes, a topless bar across the street from the Longacre, to beat up problem teenage tenants, who then took to rooftops, throwing objects like frying pans at the bouncers in retaliation.

“Bringing bouncers into a volatile situation, was like adding gasoline to the fire,” said Fisher. “We were on the verge of having a riot going on.”

“He’s a bit of a joke. You mention his name and people kind of roll their eyes. I don’t think he can clear his name because he doesn’t have a name. That’s the reputation he has earned,” Fisher claimed.

“I’m proud of my reputation,” maintained Cline.