Under Cover, May 29, 2013

UPDATED MAY 30, 2013
D.I.D. endorsements
Downtown Independent Democrats endorsed John Liu for mayor Wednesday night over Bill de Blasio in a runoff. In the hotly contested City Council races, the club not surprisingly went with its district leader, Jenifer Rajkumar over Councilmember Margaret Chin, but surprisingly went for Corey Johnson over Yetta Kurland, even though Kurland is backed by Rajkumar and D.I.D. district leader Paul Newell.
Club endorsements don’t have the same weight they had a generation or two ago, but they clearly still matter as both Liu and de Blasio, knowing they had a shot, showed up at the beginning to sway members before the meeting was closed to candidates. De Blasio got the most votes in the first round, 26, to Liu’s 19, but it was not a majority. The race’s apparent frontrunner, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is seen as “too establishment” by the progressive club, tied the no endorsement vote with 3. Anthony Weiner got 4 votes. In the second vote after many members had left, Liu and DeBlasio were tied. Liu won the third vote.
The club overwhelmingly back the two other candidates with strong connections Downtown, State Sen. Daniel Squadron for public advocate and Julie Menin for borough president.

Shelly Stonewalled
Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s office tells us that the city’s Dept. of Education has not yet responded to his request to find out where the city is thinking of sending waitlisted 5-year-olds to school in September. At a tense meeting three weeks ago in which D.O.E. officials were even chastised by one of their own principals, Silver asked them to come tell him by May 24 whether the city has looked at suggested temporary locations in Lower Manhattan, and what other alternate sites are under consideration.

A Silver aide said the speaker is continuing to pursue the matter, and we’re guessing he’ll have some answers by the next meeting, now scheduled for the end of next week.

Seaport Silence
City Comptroller and mayoral candidate  John Liu has seldom been accused of being cautious with his words, but his staff is another matter.

Tina Kim, Liu’s deputy comptroller for audits, came before a Community Board 1 committee last week to talk about her audits by the Seaport. She has completed one finding on Seaport Associates, which controls a few neighborhood properties, but the board really wanted to know about any possible shenanigans with the big fish, Howard Hughes Corp., which leases Pier 17 and most of the other city-owned properties nearby.

Kim said she and her staff have completed their investigation, but are waiting to hear back from the city and Hughes before completing the final report.

C.B. 1’s John Fratta and some of his colleagues were hoping to hear something before the firm demolishes Pier 17 at the end of the summer.

“We understand your concerns,” was about as far as the “just the facts Kim” would go. “We want to be fair to them….We want an accurate report.”

Seaport resident and Hughes critic Michael Kramer , who attended the Downtown Independent Democrats meeting May 29, said Liu told him the audit would be out sometime in mid-June.

Stormy Plans
We’ve heard Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s plan to protect the city from future storms is likely to be released the first or second week in June. One source confirmed a New York 1 report that installing temporary steel plates around Lower Manhattan prior to heavy storms is possible, but said the idea is not the only option being considered.

Adding wetlands to other parts of the city may also be proposed, but it sounds as if Bloomberg is not likely to suggest them at the beach near the Brooklyn Bridge, as Borough President Scott Stringer has suggested.

No surprise that the mayor remains down on storm surge barriers, which drew many other supporters after Hurricane Sandy.  In addition to concerns about costs and the effects to parts of the region not protected by the barriers, there is also worry about when and if these barriers would ever get all of the necessary environmental approvals.

“It would make Westway look like a cakewalk,” our source said of a different river project that was killed mostly from exhaustion a generation ago.

Corporate Hipster
To keep your eye on the bottom line, take your eye off the bottom line.

That was the seemingly paradoxical message from Edward Hogan, national retail director for Brookfield Properties, which has been signing tenants to the new World Financial Center, now known as Brookfield Place.

Hogan told Real Estate Weekly that even though he has a “love” for a national chain like Chipotle, he nevertheless signed a deal with a restaurant with a lower credit rating, Dos Toros, because it “talks about New York.”

When it comes to clothing stores, he said “there might be a brand that is all across the nation that is a safer bet. But I might pick the hipper, more New York brand.”

Hogan’s no communist, though.

“If we create this amazing neighborhood, it’s only going to lift the rents upstairs,” he added, “and we have 8 million square feet upstairs.”

Wedding Bells
Probably no one chronicled the long fight to legalize same-sex marriage in New York more closely than Paul Schindler, editor and co-founder of Gay City News, a sister publication of Downtown Express. Almost two years later, Paul and his longtime companion, Bert Vaccari, tied the knot May 24 in a small Lower Manhattan ceremony at the city’s marriage bureau. Congratulations, newlyweds!

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