Volume 21, Number 17 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Sept. 5 - 11, 2008

Under Cover

Gerson on term limits
With a fight brewing over Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s musings about giving himself a third term, everyone is weighing in on term-limit extensions.

City Councilmember Alan Gerson told UnderCover he supports extending limits to a third term, but only through a referendum, since term limits were first established and then reaffirmed by two referendums in the 1990s. The referendum would have to go on this November’s ballot if the term-limit extension is going to take place before Bloomberg (and Gerson’s) eight years are up in 2009. The deadline for getting the referendum on the ballot is sometime after the Sept. 9 primary election, Gerson said.

If the term limits are extended, Gerson wants to see the Council put on a rotational schedule, where one-third of the members’ seats expire every two years. Under the current system, the Council tends to see massive turnover when many of the members’ terms are up at the same time.

From time to time, we’ve had fun with Gerson’s less than clear positions, but in this case he has stayed true to a stand he took at least as far back as 2001.

Calatrava crtics
When UnderCover reported recently that the stacked-box condo tower Santiago Calatrava designed for 80 South St. was still alive, we thought some people might be skeptical. But we didn’t think they’d be quite as skeptical as the posters on real estate blog Curbed.com, who responded when Curbed linked our item.

“Yeah, i heard the tooth fairy has put a deposit on two units, santa is in negotiations for the top penthouse unit, and bigfoot is considering too!” an anonymous commenter wrote.

Others criticized Calatrava’s design.

“I’m surprised Calatrava hasn’t tried to make it rotate or flap some wings,” a commenter wrote. “The man hasn’t had an original idea in two decades...”

Speaking of wing-flapping, Calatrava’s white winged PATH hub at the World Trade Center also isn’t getting any love from Curbed commenters. When Curbed posted our report last week that Calatrava’s hub may not open until 2016, readers responded with criticism aplenty.

“They should absolutely dump the Calatrava design,” one wrote. “A monumental waste of tax dollars for a tiny PATH train station serving a small amount of commuters relative to cost. Watch Silverstein bolt in a couple of years, when still nothing is decided for the station.”

Another asked, “So, we’ve completed two baseball stadiums since 9/11 but not much more than a scale model for this? What the heck are all those construction workers down there doing?”

A third poster advised, “Dump the fancy architecture and get the damn thing done.”

Political presser
Three possible candidates running for City Councilmember Alan Gerson’s seat next year turned up at a press conference Wednesday, but they were there to talk about the Civic Center Residents Coalition’s new lawsuit, not the race.

Margaret Chin, who just took a leave as deputy executive director for Asian Americans For Equality to run for Council full time, Jan Lee, a Chinatown business owner, and Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1, all spoke at the conference. Unlike Chin, Menin has stayed coy but is almost certainly planning a run but Lee, who was planning to decide early this year, still sounds uncertain. He told UnderCover this week that “Both in my career and my personal life, it’s still premature to make a decision.”

UnderCover didn’t sense any animosity between the candidates at the press conference, but there’s been plenty at other times between Menin and Pete Gleason, who is also running.

Wednesday’s press conference also drew Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Sen. Martin Connor, who both face challengers in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. On his way out of the conference, Silver told UnderCover he’s looking forward to “a resounding victory.”

Gathering Moss tidbits
Former Democratic State Committeemember Larry Moss tells us he had fun hanging out with “Dave” – the man we call “Gov. Paterson” – and had a hand in bringing together the forces behind Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He also had a kind word for the new World Trade Center’s first, almost-forgotten starchitect, Daniel Libeskind.

In an e-mail, Moss, who went to the Democratic National Convention in Denver as a guest, told us: “As I respected both Obama and Clinton, my primary interest there was in encouraging the reconciliation between their forces, for which New York was particularly important…. I was pleased to be able to spend some time with Dave Paterson at Tim Gill’s reception for gay Democratic leaders….

“It was a thrill to be in Invesco Field for Obama’s speech, but I later watched it again on TV to see it as the world did, for which I and 85,000 cheering others provided a marvelous backdrop, even as Obama appeared more intimately to viewers. Lastly, there were fun parties every night. I especially enjoyed the amazingly energetic performance by the Black Eyed Peas at the Creative Coalition party. Among the Villagers I saw during the week were Chris Quinn, Deborah Glick, Rachel Lavine, Tom Duane, Charles O’Byrne, Arthur Schwartz, filmmaker Sandi DuBowski (who lives three doors down from me on Bleecker St.), Alan Cumming, Susan Sarandon and Fred Hochberg. [Councilmember] Gale Brewer and I stayed at the home of my law school classmate Jill Nelson. As a bicycle activist, I especially liked Denver’s network of bikeways along streams, below grade and entirely away from traffic. I rode one on Friday to the Daniel Libeskind-designed Denver Art Museum. (New York misses his talent!) On Saturday, I was hiking at 10,000 feet and picked wildflowers. It was interesting, fun and exhausting, going from 8 every morning until 1 or 2 a.m.”

 




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