downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 | Issue 27 | November 17 - 23, 2006

Under Cover

Julie & Bernie
Americans around the country may have been surprised to see a socialist elected to the U.S. Senate last week, but not Tribeca political organizer Julie Nadel, who knew Bernie Sanders right before he went into politics 25 years ago.

“We knew Bernie because he was the wacky socialist,” said Nadel, who also leaned far to the left back in the day before joining the Democrats. She and her boyfriend at the time were living in Burlington, Vt. and she used to have Sanders over for Shabbos dinners (roasted chicken) on Friday night. “Bernie was like ‘I don’t do any of this stuff.’ He was in big Jewish denial.”

She worked with Sanders on his filmstrip company and though they never dated, to this day Nadel still has a tape of Sanders narrating text about his political hero, Eugene V. Debs, the socialist union leader who ran for president from prison. After Nadel moved away, she watched from afar as Sanders refined his message to become mayor of Burlington and later a member of the House.

“Now he’s a senator, which is the best job in town,” she said. One of the candidates Sanders beat was Peter Diamondstone, whose brother Ken lost to Downtown’s state Sen. Martin Connor in the September Democratic primary.

Don’t think Nadel only knows one of the two independents elected to the U.S. Senate. She used to visit Joe Lieberman and his first wife in New Haven for Rosh Hashanah.

Lower Left Side?
Battery Park City may be one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods (a typical indicator of conservatism), but the environmental mandates of the Battery Park City Authority have long put a liberal twist on local public policy.

Now, the B.P.C.A., still controlled by Republican Gov. George Pataki, is bringing in Mercy Corps to run a hunger education center in the new Riverhouse condo at One River Terrace. Unlike the state-conceived Irish Hunger Memorial next door, which it is meant to complement, the hunger center will be based on the knowledge of an active, working humanitarian group.

Mercy Corps, as it turns out, is primarily a disaster relief organization that also works to alleviate poverty in the developing world. Like many similar groups, including Save the Children (sponsors of the ONE Campaign), Mercy Corps does a heavy dose of advocacy to support its relief goals.

Though the group gets a significant chunk of funding from the U.S. government, it has been openly critical of both U.S. and Israeli policies in Palestine and Lebanon. Mercy Corps is also a strong proponent of fair trade and of Western involvement in resolving the conflict crises in Africa.

They said it
Community Board 1 World Trade Center chair Catherine McVay Hughes, on why Community Board 1 is discouraging a hilly Port Authority proposal for Liberty Park: “We don’t want hobbit mounds.”

C.B.1 Battery Park City chairperson Linda Belfer, on what should be done with the governor’s new “grand promenade” by Battery Park: “Modify it so there’s some usable space for the community rather than some Pataki pie-in-the-sky dream.”

Board member and B.P.C. south neighborhood resident Tom Goodkind, on why the Battery Park City Authority is installing a second hunger awareness facility in the north neighborhood: “Maybe it’s because we have two grocery stores in the south neighborhood and the north neighborhood has none. People in the north neighborhood are starving.”

State Assemblymember Deborah Glick, on the apparent confusion among state officials about why there are so many children living west of West St.: “They designed this as a residential neighborhood. What did they think, that only sterile people were going to move in down here?”

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