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Volume 20, Number 37 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 8 - 14 , 2008

Under cover

Bathroom humor
So we happened to be in the men’s room outside the auditorium for the Hudson River Park Trust’s board of directors meeting last Thursday, at which Pier 40 was the main issue. We were, ahem, in a stall, just minding our own business, when we overheard what distinctly sounded like the voices of two youngish Trust board members who had just entered the loo. “Save our fields! Save our fields!” one said in mock protest. “What have they gotten us into?” groaned the other.

We’re sure it wasn’t Franz Leichter or Henry Stern, whose grandfatherly voices we know well. Theodore Roosevelt IV, the man with the oh-so-famous great grandfather, didn’t attend the meeting. And another new Trust board member, Paul Ullman — whose wife was until recently a member of the Pier 40 Partnership, the parents group trying to save the pier from megadevelopment — we’re certain would never make light of the pier’s predicament. Which narrows down the possibilities to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, former City Planning Commissioner Joe Rose and another freshly appointed Trust member at his first board meeting, Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber, a.k.a. “the new Doctoroff.” Somehow, though, we doubt Lieber was one of the men’s room mockers — since he’s too new to all this to be that cynical.


Oh Obama
One might think Barack Obama and his staff don’t ever want to think about New Hampshire, where Hillary Clinton edged him out after all the pollsters predicted a comfortable Obama win. But a Downtown Obama supporter tells us she got an email directing her to the campaign’s Fulton St. office between Broadway and “Nashua.” She and we assume they meant Nassau St. and not the New Hampshire town.

Obama has portrayed Clinton as the Washington insider, but the Downtown office numbers all had 202 Washington D.C. area codes, our tipster says.

Despite the Downtown staffer missteps and Clinton’s home field advantage, Obama seems to have made a respectable showing anyway in Lower Manhattan in the New York primary.


Domain master
Pete Gleason’s dogged pursuit of Julie Menin continues on the Internet. Gleason, a declared underdog candidate in next year’s City Council race, is likely to face Menin, who is making preparations for a run. “I just learned that he registered my name — juliemenin.com, juliemenin.org, juliemenin.net — all three variations,” she told us.

Menin said she’s had to hire an expert attorney on Internet law to get control over her domain names, which she says Gleason only snatched up to block her from using them. Her attorney wrote Gleason two weeks ago, ordering him to “cease and desist,” but Gleason hasn’t replied. Right now, when Menin’s domain names are typed in, a “Julie movie film rental” site pops up, complete with Fandango and a photo of a sexy blonde college student; Menin is a mother of three, brunette and the chairperson of Community Board 1. While a parody Web site would be allowable under the First Amendment, Menin said, it’s illegal to filch someone else’s domain name, then do nothing with it.

“I can’t imagine anyone voting for someone who does something like this,” she said in exasperation, adding of Gleason, “I think the facts speak to his character and integrity.” Menin has also learned that her potential campaign rival has bought up the domain names for Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city’s Department of Investigation, and at least one for Thomas Van Essen, the city’s former Fire Department commissioner. One of Hearn’s appropriated addresses links to flower retailers — a sardonic comment perhaps by Gleason? “The city knows about this,” Menin said. “They’re looking into the Rose Gill Hearn site — and I would expect they’d take some action. This is a pattern of taking names.”

But Gleason, who like Menin is an attorney, counters that Menin has only herself to blame. “Julie Menin is a public figure, and if I want to put up a Web site on a public figure, I’m allowed to,” he retorted. He noted his attorney is determining whether he should respond to Menin’s cease-and-desist letter. “Julie Menin is remiss not to have purchased her own domain name,” Gleason scolded, adding, “I think it’s a reflection of Julie’s competence that she didn’t purchase it.”


Expel Bergtraum?
If a student misbehaves, you send him out of the room. But if a whole school misbehaves, then Community Board 1 has a novel suggestion: Close down the school.

David Feiner, director of youth and education for Councilmember Alan Gerson’s office, raised this idea at a C.B. 1 meeting last month, after discussions about increasing violence at Murry Bergtraum High School.

Ann DeFalco, a board member, said she’d heard from the administration that the school saw more gang fights in January compared to before Christmas break.

That’s when Feiner jumped in: “If the school closes, it could be a great opportunity,” he said, picturing a new high school in its place.

Board members quickly jumped on board, envisioning a school that serves the local community, unlike Murry Bergtraum, which draws students from the outer boroughs.

Barbara Esmilla, the school’s principal, has been at odds with the community board before. This time, she had nothing to say to UnderCover on the record.

The board is unlikely to get help from Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who gave Murry a “C” report card grade. The chancellor is only looking to close F’s and D’s.





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