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Hefty tax bill for Tish

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Perhaps money from cash-strapped City Council member Letitia “Tish” James’ first political fundraiser of the primary season should go toward paying her city taxes.

According to city records at press time, James owes over $10,000 to the city relating to her four-family brownstone at 296 Lafayette Avenue.

This includes $7,684 in back property taxes, $2,153 in property taxes due April 1, and a $614 water bill.

James makes $122,500 as a City Councilmember, including $112,500 in base salary and a $10,000 stipend for chairing the Contracts Committee.

When questioned about the tax debt, James responded, “I’m going to start a not-for-profit and perhaps Ratner should fund it and I’ll pay my property tax out of that.”

James’ comment referred to her opponent, Delia (Dee) Hunley-Adossa, in the upcoming Democratic primary for the 35th District City Council seat and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner.

Ratner gave Hunley-Adossa seed money for her not-for-profit Brooklyn Endeavor Experience.

Hunley-Adossa is chair of the consortium of community organizations that signed a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with Ratner.

The seed money was negotiated as part of the CBA.

Hunley-Adossa refused comment on both James’ tax debt and her comments about them.

James’ tax problems come to light two weeks after Hunley-Adossa raised about $5,200 at her initial fundraiser and the endorsements of 23 construction unions.

According to the city’s campaign finance records, James has $52 to run her upcoming primary campaign.

However, James’ fortunes appear to be turning as she picked up the  politically potent endorsement of the female 57th Assembly District Democratic leader Olanike (Ola) Alabi.

Alabi works for the  health and hospital workers union 1199 SEIU, which contributed $2,750 to James’ 2005 re-election.

“I am endorsing Councilmember James for re-election based on her continued advocacy and leadership on the issues that matter most to the residents of the 35th district and beyond,” said Alabi.

“Whether it was for primary and preventive health care services, recreation, affordable housing and tenant rights, standing up to Mayor Bloomberg on the extension of term limits, landmark preservation, along with her strong support for senior centers, organized labor and public education, she deserves another chance to serve in the New York City Council,” she added.

Alabi said she also enjoys a good relationship with Hunley-Adossa and spoke with her before deciding to endorse James.

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