downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 45 | March 23 - 29, 2007

Under Cover

Baseball bracket
Did your March Madness bracket strike out in the first two rounds? Can’t wait for the Mets and Yankees to return home from Florida? Then the Tribeca Film Festival may have just the distraction for you — for the next five minutes anyways.

To promote the festival’s new ESPN-sponsored sports film component, T.F.F. is running a bracket competition to select the greatest baseball film of all time. Fans of baseball flicks will actually have two opportunities to vote for their favorites. From now until March 26 is the “regular season,” in which fans can vote for any of a long list of baseball films. The 16 films that get the most votes will be seeded in the “post-season” tournament and face off head to head starting on March 28.

Will festival founder Robert DeNiro vote for one of his own: “Bang the Drum Slowly”?

The bracket can be found on www.tribecaespn.com. The film fest itself will take place from April 25 to May 6.


Aide bust
Chris Coffey, who was about to take a job with the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, was arrested for drunk driving last week while his city-owned car was running near Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel, the Daily News reports. Coffey, 27, had recently resigned as Mayor Bloomberg’s deputy commissioner of community assistance to join him at the foundation — the mayor doubles as its chairperson. In a statement to UnderCover Wednesday, the foundation said Coffey may not be hired after all: “Chris Coffey’s status at the foundation has not been decided.” Bloomberg’s spokesperson told the News that they were “saddened” by the judgment lapse, and the city would not take any disciplinary action since Coffey had resigned.


Lithuanian Protest
Fifty congregants and supporters of Our Lady of Vilnius, the Lithuanian church on Broome St., gathered across from St. Patrick’s on Fifth Ave. last week to protest the Catholic Archdiocese’s closing their church. Joseph Pantuliano, a Vilnius lay trustee, said an archdiocese representative that he recognized — a particularly tall man — just watched them from the cathedral’s steps but wouldn’t engage them. Pantuliano also was annoyed at spokesperson Joseph Zwilling’s previous statement that Father Eugene Sawicki doesn’t speak Lithuanian. Pantuliano said Sawicki gave readings in English and Lithuanian.


Shame game
The research and advocacy group Transportation Alternatives is taking its battle against illegally parked placard cars to the next level — cyber shaming.

The cyber-shaming concept has taken off in recent months as residents in various construction-ridden neighborhoods have begun using YouTube to post videos of illegal or dangerous site work. Now, TransAlt is asking the public to post photos of placarded cars abusing their permit privileges: commuter vehicles claiming to be on official business; cars blocking sidewalks and fire hydrants; and the like.

A Transportation Alternatives study, published Sept. 28, 2006, showed that illegal placard parking was rampant citywide and especially bad in areas with high concentrations of government workers, like Lower Manhattan. The placard cars, even those with counterfeit or expired permits, were seldom ticketed by traffic agents, perhaps because the study revealed the N.Y.P.D. as the top permit-abusing agency.

Although Chinatown residents are getting some permit relief from their new precinct commander, frustrated residents and business owners in other precincts can now post tow-worthy photos, along with information on the type of permit and violation, to www.uncivilservants.org. The site gives visitors a guide to which permits are legal in what zones and uses the data that citizens provide to create an interactive map of illegal parking across the five boroughs.

Transportation Alternatives announced on March 15 that the UncivilServants site is just one part of a new three-pronged approach to tackling the parking problem. The group, which promotes traffic safety and alternative transportation, also plans to use the Freedom of Information Law to keep its information on permit legality up to date. The third prong of the strategy is to support a pending City Council bill that would require the Mayor’s Office to keep tabs on the number of permits issued by each agency.

TransAlt says the permit counts would allow the city, at the very least, to crack down on the counterfeit and expired permits that have proliferated in recent years. But for those Web surfers more interested in entertainment than advocacy, the site offers many sets of snarky comment threads with residents and police supporters sniping back and forth at one another.

UnderCover also enjoyed the site’s YouTube video, which intersperses the TransAlt study’s statistics with shots of illegally parked cars and shame-on-you quotes from local politicians, including Councilmember Alan Gerson.


Columbus gets Parks honor
In honor of its history and ongoing renovations, Chinatown’s Columbus Park was named Park of the Month for March by the city Parks Department.

The park, bounded by Bayard, Baxter, Mulberry and Worth Sts., has provided a spot of green space to generations of New York City immigrants and jurors. After putting in a new playing field, the Parks Department is currently working to restore the park’s northern pavilion.





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