Volume 21, Number 16 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Aug. 29 - Sept. 4, 2008

Under Cover

Gateway to the party
When Gateway Plaza residents tuned in to the Democratic National Convention Monday night, they saw one of their own lighting up the screen.

Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers and also a Gateway Plaza resident, gave a speech at the convention.

Wearing a yellow suit and gesturing firmly, Weingarten had only a few minutes in the spotlight, but she appeared to capture the room’s attention. A teleprompter scrolled out her words, and a clock above it counted down the time she had left.

“Barack Obama knows that teachers must be partners, not pawns in federal education policy,” Weingarten told the crowd. “And federal education policy must be about a lot more than testing.”

Endorsement jewels
Some might argue Dan Squadron’s most important endorsement to date was Mayor Mike Bloomberg, others would say Downtown Independent Democrats, while others would say perhaps the New York Times or dare we say it, Downtown Express, but there’s at least one person who thinks the “pivotal” one came from Ken Diamondstone, who ran unsuccessfully against Squadron’s opponent two years ago, State Sen. Martin Connor.

Who thinks that? Why, Ken Diamondstone.

In an unusual move, Diamondstone put out his own press release Tuesday to announce his support of Squadron. The release said the nod “ends months of speculation as to who he would support in … [the] hotly contested race.” We don’t know who lives more for speculation than UnderCover, but we hadn’t given it much thought until now.

The Squadron campaign release was more subdued listing a few other endorsements with Diamondstone.

Diamondstone, in his prepared remarks, did not mention the 11-point platform he asked both Squadron and Connor to adopt back in April, when he laid out his bottom line for an endorsement. Sounds like both candidates took the gamble and risked losing out on the “pivotal” nod by ignoring the platform ultimatum.

Anti-Silver bells
And speaking of endorsements, it’s been a good week for Paul Newell, the community activist who’s challenging Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his Lower Manhattan seat in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary.

Newell recently netted two endorsements: The New York Times and the New York Post.

The Times has made no secret of their criticisms of Silver in the past. They decided to back Newell over fellow challenger Luke Henry because Newell did a better job identifying Silver’s weaknesses. The Times also liked Newell’s support of congestion pricing and the fact that he wants a nonpartisan commission to redraw district lines.

The Post’s endorsement of Newell was a little less straightforward. The editorial did not even mention Henry, and it called Newell “an unapologetic liberal of the sort that Manhattan grows like mushrooms after midnight.”

That doesn’t sound like a good thing, but, as the Post continues, “So what? The point is to break Silver’s grip on power; one more liberal in Albany will make no difference whatsoever.”

Endorsement or no endorsement, that isn’t exactly a line Newell will rush to put on his campaign literature.

9/11’s draw
Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain never got that series of town hall meetings off the ground, but they will both be appearing at a forum in New York City on Sept. 11 to speak about national and community service.

The catch is that they won’t be onstage at the same time. Obama and McCain will answer questions from audience members, but they won’t be able to question each other. The forum’s focus is the importance of service and civic engagement in a post-9/11 world.

ServiceNation, a coalition of 110 volunteer and civic organizations with a total of 100 million members, is staging the primetime forum, which TIME managing editor Richard Stengel will moderate.

ServiceNation has not released the time or location of the forum. The audience will include 9/11 family members, students and military veterans. Anyone can submit questions for the candidates to answer at tinyurl.com/6jmhd5.




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