Monday, October 18, 2010

Going over things with a new coop buyer

It still amazes me that often buyers, even those who have worked with other brokers, come to me, with so little knowledge of buying a coop. It is not that complicated but buyers need to know certain things in order to go forward, for example that most coops want to see liquid assets after closing. I recently have had potential buyers with no knowledge of this information, that did not figure this into their costs for buying.

I have written a number of times before how I like working with new buyers. It is usually very fulfilling as a broker and I am glad to be able to explain the process thoroughly so the buyer knows how it works each step of the way. Again, buying in New York City is different than most other places and a buyer of a property, in particular a coop apartment needs to know the process so there is not much confusion as the deal progresses. There are enough stops and starts that it is helpful for the buyer to be as aware as possible of the usual steps in the process, so it is as easy experience as possible for the buyer.

Enjoy the fall weather-I love it!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Working with new first time buyers

After renting and selling real estate for about 10 years, I still enjoy working with first time buyers. The wife of a couple walked into my office with a moderate price range and I took she and her husband out this morning. We saw five apartments, three at the edge of Sunset Park, one in the South Slope in a high numbered street, and one on the border between Kensington, Ditmas and Prospect Lefferts. As usual, the apartments closer to Prospect Park, and Park Slope were less spacious. There are always trade-offs, space vs. location, subway travel time vs. space.

This very nice couple were working with a non-REBNY broker who had access to fewer listings. I am hopeful I can find them a good place to call home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not always knowing

I closed on a house this week in Bay Ridge, a beautiful property with a lovely front porch and deep back yard. I think the buyers will really enjoy living in this house as did the seller's family for about 55 years.

In the buying process, a number of buyers bid up to a certain amount, saying the house would never appraise for more that amount. These buyers insisted they knew this for sure. When I said I had comparable sales to support a higher price, they were dismissive.

I sold the house for over $70,000 above the price point the buyers insisted it would not appraise. And the house appraised. I am not always right but I knew the house had more value than these buyers insisted.

Realtors are not always correct. But those of us who have been in the business for a while, do have a great deal of expertise. And our opinions should be considered seriously. Sure, I am in the business of selling property. But we all live in an age of lots of information, thanks mostly to the internet. The information is there to consider when buying or selling.

In the end the right buyers bought the house. But I wanted to note this difference in opinion, and outcome of the sale.

Have a great weekend and stay cool!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Treating a buyer with respect

Yesterday I had a significant conversation with a buyer about a previous transaction he was part of. The bottom line was, the listing agent did not treat him with respect. Phone calls and e-mails went unanswered. He was forced to contact the sales manager of the office to get a response.

As a broker who is lucky to have a variety of listings, and whose job it is to represent the seller, it is good business to treat buyers with courtesy and openness and respect. Even if we represent the seller, we still have legal responsibilities toward the buyer.

I was disturbed to hear this story yesterday and no one is perfect. But even if a broker represents the seller, he or she still has legal and ethical responsibilities to the buyer. Each transaction involves a buyer and a seller, and both parties are crucial to that transaction. Again, it is good business and our responsibility to be responsive to both parties in the transaction.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why it's a great time to buy

The market is New York City is much stronger and Brooklyn remains a great place to buy and live. Interest rates are very low and as the weather has gotten warmer, there are more properties to choose from. Of course, I am happy to help buyers find the apartment or house of their dreams.

Feel free to browse through my listings and of course as a REBNY broker, I can show you a wide variety of possibilites. E-mail me or call me when have a moment. And let's start looking!

Friday, May 7, 2010


My colleague Joshua Liles and I closed on an apartment on Monday in the South Slope. I sold it to the owners as new construction and they had enjoyed living there. It was a beautiful two bedroom, two bath apartment, with very high ceilings and lots of nice touches-recessed lighting, handsome molding, a well-designed kitchen and I could go on. As their son was getting older, it was time for more space, nearer to parental child care.

I put in on the market in 2008 when I first joined Elliman. I had two offers which disappeared somewhat quickly and then had problems selling it. The sellers took it off the market and gave it to another broker. He could not sell it either.

Luckily the sellers came back to me when they wanted to sell. Josh and I worked on this together, priced the apartment competitively, and found excellent buyers through a co-broke situation and closed at a price which worked well for the buyers and the sellers.

There is a buyer for every property. Proper marketing and pricing does the trick. As the Brooklyn and New York market recovers, more deals are being made every day. Work with a seasoned and reliable broker with a REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) firm who co-brokes with other brokers. Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Buying and Anxiety

A rather accomplished gym friend of mine and I were on the elliptical machines at the same time when he told me of his nervousness about buying an investment property near his current residence. I am not representing him as a buyer as he started this process before we really got to know each other better. He is a smart, capable guy, who has lived with a chronic disease most of his life very successfully. He also is very successful at his work.

However he confessed how anxious his is about his purchase, even though he bought it for an excellent price and the property will generate enough income to pay his expenses.

I remember when I worked at my old firm, I answered the phone one morning when I was the only one is the office. A distressed gentleman called and asked if anything was wrong was him as he was having sleepless nights. He told me he was purchasing an apartment closer to work in Upper Manhattan and selling his apartment through our firm. I responded that buying (and selling) real estate in New York City, can be very anxiety producing. I have written about this before, but I want to emphasize that it is a more complicated process here and cause for much anxiety. I calmed the buyer-seller somewhat and ended up selling his apartment to one of my buyers.

I think it is important to work with a good team of professionals: broker, mortgage broker or banker and lawyer-all these people can ease some of your fears. The other important thing to remember is that you are dealing with property. Though your home is an important part of your life, and important to your well-being, anxiety is never helpful and none of the issues that surface are life-threatening. It is important to keep a perspective about the process and your life. It is all part of the journey.

For first-time buyers, the process can be particularly daunting. Again, it is important that a first time buyer, in particular work with professionals he or she can communicate well with, feel confident about. As always, feel free to contact me for any advice or counsel, or to suggest professionals to work with.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Not Judging the Actions of the other party

When a deal is struck between a buyer and a seller, it often takes some concessions by each party. In a more level environment which we experience in New York City, the seller and buyer each have a certain amount of leverage. Buyers, for example, who have all cash, can try to get a favorable outcome. Sellers who have more desirable properties, whether the location, the quality of the building or its amenities if it is a coop or condo, or have access to private outdoor space for example can also have more leverage.

I try to advise my sellers in particular not to spend a lot of time figuring out the motives of buyers. It is not a good use of time. I don't want to give buyers or sellers unreal expectations either. If I represent a seller and a low bid is placed, it means the buyer has to "travel further" to meet the seller's needs. Often a deal is not made, but sometimes it is. Buyers can be testing the seller to see how flexible he or she is, but are willing to go considerably higher on a offer. As for buyers, I try to suggest bidding at a place that shows you are serious, but will still get you the best price.

In the fall, a buyer asked me to represent him and negotiate for him. I got a price lower than he was willing to pay and I suspect he was very pleased. Years of experience helps in this regard.

A deal is about bring parties together. If you have a qualified buyer involved with the transaction, spending a lot of time figuring out motivations is probably not a great use of time. We're all human and we all do it. Better time is spent engaging the parties to find a common ground and effect a sale.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Working With A New Buyer

Last night I showed an old friend an apartment to buy. He has lived in a rental apartment for a very long time. And he is excited to think about buying for the first time. As we have discussed, change is good and owning is better than renting.

It was wonderful to go through the apartment and see what he liked and didn't like, to observe his responses and hear his thoughts. I love working with both buyers and sellers and I am thankful I truly enjoy what I do.

After we left, we had a good discussion about what he would like to do to make the apartment more comfortable, how much it would cost. We crunched some numbers and he was going to sleep on it. We plan to talk soon. I pride myself on being a good negotiator and try to be a good listener, all important parts of the sales process.

A colleague commented that I had found my calling, that I am doing what I should be doing. I do truly enjoy what I do and for that I am grateful. It took a while, but here I am. A great weekend to all-enjoy the weather!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Passover

To everyone who celebrates Passover, good seders and let's celebrate the freedom in our lives. And work on creating more freedom for all the world. A sweet Passover to all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day and Spring is in the air

To all my friends of Irish background, a very Happy Saint Patrick's Day. And you could not ask for a nicer day.

After the weekend monsoon, and a pretty difficult winter, it is great to feel the warmth of the sun, and to feel the coming of Spring. It's a great time of year, a time for new beginnings. And a great time to find a new place to live, or to sell your house or apartment.

Enjoy the weather and call me or e-mail me if you need assistance selling or buying.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I thought I should share my thoughts and tell the story of Bob, my beloved beagle, who left this earth on February 19, 2010. My heart still throbs for him-he lives there forever.

In the summer of 1996, I lost three friends to AIDS in four months. I was still recovering from the loss of my best friend George who had died a year and a half before. I moved to an apartment on Garfield Place in Park Slope so I could have a dog.

A couple who lived on Eighth Avenue called to me to see if I could board their dog while they were at a wedding in San Diego. They had just taken in Bob, and had another dog as well. Bob had been badly abused-they were his third owners. The second owner, a woman who lived in Carroll Gardens brought him to Prospect Park for adoption. She could not handle him. From what I could ascertain, the first family did not know to handle him, and he was beaten. After the second owner had him, she lost control of the leash and he ended being caught in a bush near the entrance to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and lived there for a week. Emaciated, friends of the first owners recognized him. (I was told he was called PJ) and returned him to first family who re-united him with the second owner. She nursed him back to health and found a new home for him.

I had to make a few visits to meet Bob to see if I could board him as he was particularly frightened of men. By the second visit, he seemed comfortable enough, though when he walked he would keep turning his head, as if someone was going to beat him. It was painful to watch.

He showed up at my apartment on Garfield Place and I began taking care of him. He was not completely housebroken and it was a bit of a task. On the second day I had him, he came into the bathroom and licked my feet while I was shaving. The next day I dropped off laundry at the laundromat on the corner, carrying the laundry and holding Bob's lease in the other hand. After I put down the bag of laundry, I lost control of the leash and he darted out of the laundromat.

It was beginning to rain and I panicked, running up the street, calling him name. What was I to tell the owners? That I lost their dog? As I approached my house, there he was, waiting for me. He had always been waiting for me.

I knew we were meant to be together. When I walked him, neighbors and friends said, "that's your dog." When the couple returned from the wedding a week later, they called me in the evening. "How is Bob?" they asked. I told them he was very good and that I wanted to keep him. We slept on it that night and spoke in the morning. It was one of the hardest nights of my life. They asked me the next morning if I still felt the same way and I said I did. We agreed that he would be mine.

It was hard at first-he was peeing in the house and it often took forever to get him to do all his business. But I did what needed to be done. Most mornings were spent in Prospect Park where he loved to run off leash and run he could. Like no dog you have ever seen. He had his friends whom he loved, many of whom he is with now as they left as well. Bailey, Fred, Tricky, Daisy, Barney and the list goes on and on.

Although he did not like riding in the car, he loved running on the beach in Provincetown. I would split the trip into two legs, finding a dog friendly motel in Connecticut and getting up early the next day to drive into Provincetown. The back cottage at the Clarendon House was our second home. Dale, the proprietor loved Bob and defended his howling when I would leave him in the cottage alone. Though he was not supposed to be in the main house, Dale would let him join the other guests for breakfast, which I might add, remain some of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten.

The summer I dated Leonard, he was also a hit on Fire Island, where he was awarded prizes at the post summer get-together. Bob was a lovable dog who loved people and other dogs, despite his troubled beginnings. He remains an inspiration for me and always will.

He lived with arthritis most of his life-beagles are susceptible and I believe he came from a puppy mill. I had many scares, once bringing him to the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan for treatment. But he persevered and loved running in Owl's Head Park near my apartment in Bay Ridge.

The last three plus weeks of his life were hard. I woke on a Tuesday morning to discover he was breathing very heavily and could not walk. I carried him to the car and the vet and he was very distressed. My vet, Julie Morris, brought him back to life and we had a few good weeks. For that I am grateful. It was hard to let go but he was not eating and could not walk and it was time. I miss him so much-he was the kindest being I have ever known.

I sit here in my home office, writing and crying-he is no longer sitting on my bed with me. He was such a joy to have here-he slept next to me for nearly fourteen years. He leaves many friends, especially his Aunts Jeannie and Sofia, who took good care of him in my absence. My heart aches and I know he is in a better place. I will miss him forever.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Be Honored

Last night was the annual Prudential Douglas Elliman Awards ceremony at Cipriani's on 42nd Street. It is usually a lovely event and last night was no exception.

When I arrived to check in, I was told to sit in the "Reserved" section, which meant I was getting an award. This was all news to me and I really did not know what I would be awarded for.

The program began with a summation of 2009 and a look ahead by the two principals of PDE, Howard Lorber and Dotty Herman. They do a good job playing off each other, I think. They were upbeat, talking about changes coming down the pike, how we are positioning ourselves as a company to provide even better service to buyers and sellers.

Then the Awards portion began, and I was called to the stage as I was one of the top ten individuals in the company for number of transactions, number eight in fact, in all of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It was a great honor to be so recognized, to be on stage with the leading agents and teams at Prudential Douglas Elliman.

I am so thankful I chose to work at Prudential Douglas Elliman, to work with my colleagues in the Park Slope office and with Michael Guerra, my manager. Thanks to Justine Sealey, my incredible office manager and Hadit Sanchez, who is the office manager in Brooklyn Heights.

Who knows? Maybe number 5 next year?

Is that a "White" neighborhood?

Last time I looked at the calendar it was 2010. We have an African-American President and I live in New York City. So I was astonished to have a potential buyer ask me if a listing I had, was in a "White" neighborhood?

I first asked the buyer to repeat the question as I thought I maybe misunderstood. But he repeated the question again as asked.

I responded that I could not answer that question and that he should not ask it. I found it a bit jarring, to say the least. When I did rentals almost a decade ago, I did have landlords ask me the ethnic background of a potential lessee on some occasions. I responded that I could not answer that question. I would inform my broker and we would not show the apartment (to her credit.)

I think we continue to grow as a City and a nation, learning more about each other as years pass. We are an amazingly diverse City and one of things that I cherish about New York and Brooklyn. Let's hope this process continues for most of us.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Art of Negotiation

The key to buying a property is often the negotiating process. Whether you are the seller or the buyer, it is helpful to have realistic expectations and know how to be thoughtful about the process. Every buyer and seller is different. It is considered a given that the buyer wants to get the lowest price possible and the seller, the highest, but the process is never as simple as that.

The seller should be interested in the "best" offer, that may or may not be the highest price. Many factors are involved: whether the buyer needs to sell something to buy, how much the buyer can put down, and in a coop situation, what are the buyer's assets after the downpayment. A smart seller goes through this process carefully with their broker. Many years ago I sold an apartment in Park Slope, where the previous broker had failed to go over the financials of his buyer. It was a relatively tough coop board and the buyer was turned down and the sellers lost a downpayment on a house. A very costly proposition. I vetted the next buyer carefully, coached him for the interview and the sale went well. Given a somewhat more difficult financing environment, these issues have become more important. A good broker advises his seller well and does his or her homework on the prospective buyer.

My advice for buyers is don't be too rigid. Yes, you want the best price, but with interest rates very low a small difference in the purchase price will not affect your wallet that adversely. If you find the home you want, be it a coop, condo or house, be willing to step up and do what you need to, as long it makes financial sense.

A good broker will guide the buyer and the seller through the process carefully, providing as much information as possible. Getting the best information possible makes the buyer and seller able to make good decisions. Make sure you work with a broker who is responsive and thoughtful.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Know your relationships

I showed new construction yesterday, a listing I have with my colleague Bill Hendrickson in Prospect Heights. I received communication from a Broker from another REBNY firm, (Real Estate Board of New York) that his buyer wanted to see apartments at this property.

His buyer, was a very nice smart woman who liked the building. I showed them both a number of apartments. There are signs in this building and the property across the street, built by the same developer, which feature my firm, Prudential Douglas Elliman. The buyer asked me with the Broker present, whether Prudential Douglas Elliman built the buildings. I responded we did not. Then she asked if we managed the buildings, and I answered that we did not. The Broker then explained that Prudential Douglas Elliman was the exclusive agent to sell the apartments in both buildings.

As I was leaving the building, I heard the buyer questioning the Broker if he would get paid if he sold the apartment to her.

If you are working with a Broker as a buyer, he or she has certain responsibilities to you, though it also depends on whether his or her firm has the listing. These relationships can be complicated and a good Broker will guide you through the process. Again, if you are a buyer, try to be clear what relationship you have to your Broker and what responsibilities he or she has to you as a buyer.

Buying real estate in New York City is more complicated than most other places in the United States. Try to be clear if you are working with a Broker as a buyer, what that relationship is.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Knowing your properties and your buyers

Having been in the real estate business for nearly ten years, I think I have gotten pretty good at knowing what buyers are right for each individual property. Each property is different and has a different buyer sub-set. Today I showed a listing in Bay Ridge and I could see this couple in the property-they liked what the property had to offer and what the building had to offer.

My colleagues, Josh and John and I closed on a house in Windsor Terrace in late December. At the open house in September where the buyers viewed the house, one of the family members was present. It was a lovely sunny day and each of the three agents took turns showing prospective buyers the property. A young couple arrived with a baby, with a sister of one of the spouses. They spent forty five minutes with one of the agents in the house while I was outside with the family member. I said to her, "those are your buyers." And sure enough within days we had an offer. They seemed like people willing to a little work, who were not scared of an older house that needed some renovation. If you know your properties well, you generally know who your buyers are.

Each property is unique. And each property has a more likely group of buyers. Although it seems somewhat obvious, a couple with a wife whom is pregnant is less than likely to buy a one bedroom apartment. You can often tell what sort of person, family or couple is more likely to purchase a property if you have years of experience under your belt and know your properties and neighborhoods. Choose a broker with that sort of experience to sell and market your property.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting through the day

I woke up this morning like any other day. I took my probably fifteen year old or plus beagle Bob down for a walk. He has arthritis and the last few weeks have not been easy on him-though yesterday he did very well.

I could see he did not want to walk that far so he did his business and I brought him back. I fed him as usual and he did not want to eat and I could tell he was in a lot of pain. I took him to the Vet, had to carry him to the car and to the Vet's office and I could barely witness his discomfort. He threw up on the way over and he was anxious and wriggling in pain.

Julie Morris, my amazing Veterinarian in Carroll Gardens took x-rays and said there might some issues with his discs. I left him there with IV fluids and IV steroids and hoped for the best. I just brought him home and he is much much better. I am very grateful.

Bob has been in my life since October of 1996. He sort of showed up on Garfield Place in Park Slope, as I was boarding him for a neighbor. He had three prior owners, was badly abused. But he and I knew we were meant for each other and I am thankful for every day we have had together. I pray that we can some more quality time. He is an amazing dog, loving and caring and rather stubborn like his father.

Thank God I work with great people who helped me get through the day, helped me with work, were there for me. And I still managed to get what needed to be done. Keep Bob in your prayers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Park Slope Food Coop

Yesterday I worked my shift at the Park Slope Food Coop, where I have been a member since 1983 with a brief rest during the time I lived in Chelsea in the late 1980's through early 90's. It has been a part of my life for half my life, one of the longest relationships I have. It remains an important part of my Brooklyn life, and it is something I truly believe in.

The food is amazing and the variety of food is incredible. I had mostly gone to local groceries in recent weeks and I bit into an apple I bought there Tuesday and thought this is amazing, a totally different experience. It is a cooperative venture that works, where people work together toward a common goal and succeed. I generally do "checkout" which means I scan people's groceries and now with the new technology they can pay me with a debit card, rather going to a cashier. It has speeded up shopping and has made the coop experience that much better. It's also a great way to see what other people are buying, items I may not know of.

While I was working yesterday, a woman told me she lives in a small one bedroom in the South Slope, which she bought when she was single. She is now married and her husband will not move further into Brooklyn, because it is important that they live nearer to the Coop. I thought that was amazing.

I need to be more involved in efforts to create a coop in Bay Ridge, however, there are so many hours in a day.

If you live or work near the Slope, come by for a visit. It is located at 782 Union Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. It's worth a trip for a far as well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Importance of Pricing Correctly

For this weekend of open houses, I got two of my sellers to do some price adjusting. I am getting few phone calls or e-mails for these properties and I felt it was needed to push buyers a bit, to show buyers that the sellers are negotiable.

We remain pretty lucky in New York City, and in Brooklyn, in particular. The market has remained relatively active and properties sell in reasonable time frames if they are priced appropriately. One of my colleagues told me she sold a studio in a week in Park Slope-I was not surprised as the pricing was thoughtful and there is not much in the lower price range in the Slope. I heard a story at my gym that a friend of one of the regulars is buying a house on the Gulf Coast of Florida for $270,000 that had been valued in the $700,000's at its peak. New York City and Brooklyn has had some minor price adjustments but that is all.

Selling real estate is not rocket-science. If you have a good broker, with a good firm and a big web presence, someone who is willing to share listings, you will sell the property. Good photographs are key as well. But pricing is key. Buyers must want to feel there is value and they will respond. Brooklyn, in particular is a place where there is a lot of value-more space compared to Manhattan, great neighborhood amenities and many neighborhoods with excellent public transportation. Wish me luck this weekend.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Working with a Broker

I showed a couple a property I have listed yesterday and they called me last evening to return. In the conversation, the wife mentioned she was working with a broker. I was rather surprised as usually if someone is working with a broker, the broker contacts me directly. I explained to the buyer that if they are working with a broker that person needs to contact me and be present at the showing.

A few months back, I showed a house I had listed in Bay Ridge and a broker contacted me to make the appointment. I arrived at the house at the arranged time and the prospective buyers soon followed. When they arrived, I asked if their broker was on the way. They replied that she never accompanies them to showings. I explained to this couple that a broker must accompany buyers unless other arrangements have been made prior to the showing.

I love working with buyers and sellers. If I represent a buyer, I make the appoinments. I act as their broker. A broker who does not accompany buyers to showings is not getting the feedback he or she needs. Much of the process of working with buyers is observing their experience at the property, what they like and dislike. Sometimes scheduling precludes my attending open houses with buyers if I am already committed to being at an open house for one of my listings. That being said, it is important for the relationship between buyers and a broker to be interractive in order for me to do my best work.

Of course, I am happy to represent buyers in the purchase process. Whomever you work with, make sure they are working for you, doing the work that needs to be done.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The New Year and the Brooklyn Market

My impression of the Brooklyn market as we start the New Year is that interest in purchasing remains strong. My colleague, Ryan Roberts and I did an open house today at 475/476 Sterling Place in Prospect Heights and interest was clearly there. On a cold Saturday, right after the new year, about 16 buyer groups passed through the doors of each building, probably the highest number is a number of months.

Interest rates remain low and Brooklyn remains a very desirable place to live with great neighborhoods, and good values for the purchaser. I think we will continue to see strong activity in the market, especially as the weather gets warmer. New York City has suffered during the downturn, but not like many other places and it remains a desirable place to live for many. I will keep reporting on the state of the market as the year goes on.

We also received our Temporary Certificate of Occupancy at 476 Sterling yesterday. There are only two units left-a two bedroom two bath duplex on the top floor and a one bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor. Contact me if you are interested and stay warm!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year

Living in New York City and being Jewish, I get to observe a number of New Years. The Jewish New Year in the fall is probably the most significant for me, as I go to synagogue and think about ways I could live my life better. We also get to experience the lunar New Year that the Chinese observe each winter as well. But a year has passed on the calendar, and the last one presented many challenges to many of us.

Many still look for work. Business is just reviving and we work and hope to keep that revival on-going. Many are still left out of the revival, which threatens the long-term health of our economy and our city and nation. I was honored to attend the inauguration of the new City Comptroller and Public Advocate yesterday and the swearing-in of the Mayor for his third term. Each pledged to fight for all New Yorkers.

We live in a City of haves and have-nots and sometimes the distinction is extreme. Certainly people are responsible for their lives but often as a City and a nation, we fail to give those with less the chance to do more. And so many in the World suffer. I read yesterday in the New York Times about the closing of a dialysis unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where many illegal immigrants were receiving care, now forced to sever family ties and receive substandard treatment, already resulting in some deaths. As a new year begins, we must renew our efforts to make this City, Nation and the World a place where people have to struggle less to enjoy the basics of life. Whether it means volunteering as a soup kitchen, donating money, doing political work to change the system. We are all responsible for each other. And in the New Year, let's renew our commitment to help each other. And be truthful and honest in our dealings.

Let's work to keep our world and City safe and peaceful and to prosper together. A good 2010.