Under Cover, May 1, 2013

Occupy Return
We thought a few attendees were ready to shout “may day” at last week’s Community Board 1 meeting when two members of Occupy Wall Street said they would be back in Zuccotti Park May 1.

Pat Moore, and other residents wanted to make sure there would not be drumming again, and that the 2-hour gathering would really end at 10 p.m.

Occupy’s Sumumba Sobobukwe tried to assure them and he also had a message to 100 percent of the audience.

He invited the 99 percenters to come and added, “if you make over $300,000 we’re open to donations.”

Menin Hall
There were a couple of other good UnderCover items at the April 23 Community Board 1 meeting.

Former chairperson and current candidate for borough president, Julie Menin, returned to the board to support Verizon communication workers, who are fighting to stay in Lower Manhattan.

The cheers for her sounded like a union hall meeting. Menin, a former board member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., said when the L.M.D.C. “gave the money to Verizon it was to keep the jobs Downtown.”

The community board also passed a resolution in support of the workers.

Détente
It’s been months since C.B. 1 chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes axed the Housing and Waterfront committees, and the storm has seemed to settle.

Hughes presented former Housing chairperson Tom Goodkind with a certificate for his hard work on the committee, and Goodkind has agreed to continue his housing focus on the Planning Committee.

While many of the other committee issues remain under discussion, the vitriol appears to have passed. At the risk of UnderConver blowing our reputation for reveling in drama, we’d like to say we’re happy to report that.

No Charter Member
The sponsor of three new Chinese language charter schools in Chinatown backed down after reports of controversial practices before the April 15 preliminary proposal deadline.

The SUNY preliminary proposal for Confucius Teachings Charter School, was put together by Dr. Lotus King Weiss, formerly Tongwen Wang, a practitioner of the Falun Dafa meditation practice — formerly Falun Gong — who founded the Whole Elephant Institute which seeks to bolster Chinese culture and community.

“It is for all people,” Weiss said about the proposed schools before she backed out of Chinatown. “The study of psychology and life sciences now say that through reincarnation, through inheritance, the Chinese culture belongs to all people…. It is why everyone loves Chinese arts and Chinese food.”

The application was reduced to a single elementary school in Flushing.

A previous charter school proposal by Weiss was blocked by the state Education Department last year due to an “incomplete application.” This proposal may bear the same fate. The letter of intent had two co-sponsors for community outreach who responded via telephone that they had no idea that they were listed. One of them said he was Weiss’s ex-husband and had not spoken to her for two years.

Holy Landing Gear
A piece of landing gear, apparently from one of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, was found in an alley a few blocks from the World Trade Center near the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” which of course is not at “ground zero” (a term we dislike as much as some of our neighbors), nor is it the first mosque near the W.T.C. But we’ll stop digressing.

The hunk of metal was found by two surveyors on April 24, who spotted it amid debris in a narrow space between the Park51 mosque and community center and 50 Murray St., police confirmed. The surveyors were taking measurements for Sharif El-Gamal, the president of Soho Properties.

According to a Daily News interview with one of the surveyors, Frank VanBrunt, they continued to take measurements and then alerted the N.Y.P.D.

Boeing later confirmed that the part did once belong to a Boeing 767 aircraft.

Officials expect to be able to move the landing gear from the site as soon as the surrounding debris has been sifted through, a process that began April 30.

Bergtraum Downsizing
Changes are coming to Murry Bergtraum High School, and not just a shiny new logo and website as part of their “rebranding” process.

At a little noticed hearing (save for Gotham Schools) in the school’s auditorium in March, a Department of Education proposal was presented to open a new high school in the 411 Pearl St. location.

While Bergtraum will not close, as many other large high schools have during Mayor Bloomberg’s education reform, the struggling school will undergo “enrollment reduction”.

The new school would open in September 2013 with a ninth grade of 105-115 students only, but could expand to 460 students over three years. Murry Bergtraum would be gradually downsized at the same time by 400-500 students.

The new school will work with the National Parks Service to train students in carpentry, masonry, landscaping and restoration.

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