Volume 20, Number 30 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 7 - 13, 2007

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Under Cover

How low can he go?
While telling UnderCover about the dangers of breathing 9/11 dust, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver put a personal spin on the effects.

“Sometimes I think my voice is lower,” the distinctively deep-voiced politician said. And when Silver catches a cold, “it lingers as a result of my own personal exposure [on 9/11].”

Challenging challenge
And speaking of Shelly Silver, he may face a challenge from an upstart Lower East Side Democrat who promises to put the focus on affordable housing, education and health care.

The new candidate, 33-year-old attorney Luke Henry, reluctantly admitted to UnderCover on Wednesday that he would be looking to unseat Silver in 2008 to inject “some new blood in the district.”

“We need ideas and we need new energy, and there’s an opportunity to bring that,” Henry said, adding that issues of the environment, marriage equality, universal health care and 9/11 benefits would highlight his platform. “We need to get the big money out of local politics.” But Silver has taken stands on all four issues.

“They want an assemblyman who’s dedicated to getting things done on affordable housing, and not merely serving as an obstacle to much-needed change in order to preserve the status quo,” Henry said.

Henry seemed hesitant to announce his candidacy to UnderCover for strategic purposes, but his plan to run had already been outed by Rob Hollander, a tenant activist, Monday. Hollander said he’ll support Henry, but he gave the candidate no chance to unseat Silver.

“Of course it’s going to be difficult to beat an incumbent, especially a powerful one, but for a long time people in this district haven’t had a choice,” Henry said.

Silver spokesperson Jim Quent did not seem at all worried and had not even heard of Henry.

Related gala?
It seems Pier 40 — yes, the same huge W. Houston St. pier the Hudson River Park Trust keeps saying is about ready to crumble into the river if millions of dollars aren’t soon found for its repair — has become one of the city’s swankest banquet halls.

On Nov. 8, the allegedly rundown section of the pier shed in the pier’s northwest corner was home to the Guggenheim Museum’s International Gala, attended by 528 art world glitterati, equivalent to several dozen tons of weight. The event planner had to arrange for power, heating, electricity, catering (portable ovens, tables, etc.) labor, transportation — dozens of golf carts transported guests dressed to the nines 400 feet to and from the street — and install carpeting, portable walls, faux ceiling, coat room, flowers and stages. The Trust issued a set of orders for routing traffic, instructing that all cars exiting the pier turn south. Of course, the event was just a fraction of the size of what a typical Cirque du Soleil performance there would be if The Related Companies wins its bid for Pier 40.

Among the Guggenheim event’s chairpersons were actors Laurence Fishburne and Jeremy Irons and — wait a second, did somebody mention The Related Companies? — Steve Ross, Related’s C.E.O., and his wife, Kara. Dinner was provided by — just a coincidence? — Le Cirque. Asked how much the Gugger put up for the event, Chris Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, said it was $50,000. As for MTV’s use earlier this year of another local park pier for a reality series with the band Cartel, Martin said, “The Band in a Bubble, held on Pier 54, was not a rental. It was the first concert in our RiverRocks Concert series and part of sponsorship of that series by Dr. Pepper.”

Arthur Gregory is reopening A & M Roadhouse on Murray St. for the third time in eight years this Friday. This Roadhouse will be at 6 Murray, site of Gregory’s soon-to-be-defunct Murray Street Grill, which is about to close now that Gregory is taking the road back to his first love.

Gregory left the original Roadhouse at 57 Murray two years ago after a nasty fight with his former partners – who traded accusations with Gregory. Those partners closed the Roadhouse and new owners have opened Uncle Mike’s at 57 Murray, freeing Gregory to take back the old name. He tells us business is up 16 percent this week since old-time customers have heard the Roadhouse is back on track. The bar also had to close for a short time after 9/11.

VH1 cameras will also be in Gregory’s new/old (?) bar this week to film a tribute to the late Rory Gallagher, the Irish blues man.

Speeding admissions
Barry Skolnick, a steady critic of the chaotic middle school admissions, told UnderCover about a potential twist: The district might combine the first two rounds of the five-round selection process.

Skolnick heard about the change from a Department of Education employee, who said there was a 90 percent chance it would happen.

“It’s actually a plus,” Skolnick said, because “it doesn’t let schools discriminate” between students who put the school as their first choice and those who put it as their second.

The combined rounds would speed up the admissions process, which the D.O.E. delayed this year by pushing deadlines back several months. The D.O.E. repeatedly insisted that there would be plenty of time for five rounds of admissions, but now they seem to be looking to speed things up.

Andy Jacob, a D.O.E. spokesperson, said no decision has been made yet. He added that some Brooklyn schools have consolidated admissions rounds, so the district is taking a look at their results as an example.

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