Volume 21, Number 37 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 23 - 29, 2009

Under Cover

When to fold
Mayor Mike Bloomberg repeated his desire to close the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. last week in his State of the City address.

“One layer of bureaucracy that should definitely be put out to pasture, incidentally, is the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation,” Bloomberg said. He added that work at the World Trade Center site must stay on schedule, “but we don’t need the L.M.D.C. to do it. The L.M.D.C. should be folded into our Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center so that work at the site can progress more smoothly and taxpayers can save money.”

Word is that Gov. David Paterson has no interest in shuttering the L.M.D.C., perhaps because Paterson does not want to cross Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose good friend Avi Schick chairs the agency. As long as Paterson supports the corporation, there’s not much Bloomberg can do to get rid of it.

Plus, a source familiar with L.M.D.C. and L.M.C.C.C. funding said it wouldn’t make sense to fold the L.M.D.C. into the L.M.C.C.C., because the Command Center is a subsidiary of the Development Corp.

“He wants to fold something into itself,” the source said, and then he added, “My thinking is, we should fold the mayor’s office into the governor’s office.”

King celebration
Cultural icons and politicians rubbed elbows at a Martin Luther King celebration Monday night hosted by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) — and a few Downtown activists joined in the fun at the Sheraton Hotel on 52nd St.

Pete Gleason, the former firefighter who’s challenging City Councilmember Alan Gerson for his seat this fall, introduced Sean Sweeney, president of the Soho Alliance, to ’50s singer and actor Pat Boone. Sweeney immediately broke into song, and Boone joined in without missing a beat.

Also in attendance was Democratic legend George McGovern, the evening’s honoree. Gleason told us he asked McGovern one question. Without going into detail on the battle over term limits, Gleason asked, “Do you think a legislative body should overturn a statute created by the people via a voter referendum?”

McGovern’s response was short and direct, Gleason recalled: “Of course not — that would be undemocratic.”
Last year, Gerson made himself eligible to run for election this year when he reversed his position on term limits voting with Mayor Bloomberg to overturn two voters’ referenda.

Why not Wal-mart?
Our exclusive interview last week with Port Authority honcho Chris Ward in which he said the economy may delay completion of the World Trade Center towers, triggered some posting action on curbed.com last week (BTW, commenters are also welcome at downtownexpress.com too).

“What a pathetic joke,” wrote one. “I live in BPC and just to see all the work and nothing getting accomplished. Even if they build these towers, who is going to occupy them. Just make the place a park.”

Another had an interesting variation on Daniel Libeskind’s idea for a symbolic W.T.C. tower honoring American history. “Well they can rebuild it the American way, put in a 1776 square foot Walmart that’s 911 feet tall,” this patriot wrote. “THESE COLORS DON’T RUN.”

A new group determined to follow President Barack Obama’s community organizing example is well on its way to getting off the ground.

ArtsPolicyNow, a group of about 60 Downtowners, wants to use culture to help rebuild the country. The group hosted a launch party and discussion last month — City Councilmember Alan Gerson footed the bill and spoke at the event — and the night before the inauguration they hosted five free arts-themed programs with local community organizations.

The duo behind ArtsPolicy now is made up of Paul Nagle, Gerson’s deputy chief of staff, and Kevin Cunningham, Executive Director of 3LD Art & Technology Center. They’ve hammered out a platform, visible at www.artspolicynow.com, and say they won’t quit until the U.S. has a national culture policy.

Townley in D.C.
Another local community organizer inspired by President Obama is Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth. Townley was in D.C. with his wife on Tuesday to celebrate the inauguration, but that meant he had to miss one of his favorite community activities back home: Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee meeting.

The committee, chaired by Rebecca Skinner, soldiered on without him, though it was a meeting Townley wouldn’t have wanted to miss — because of some scheduling confusion, the main topic of discussion was the Downtown Community Center Townley opened last spring. But Townley’s staff, including center director Alex Roche and campaign director Jim Hopkins, filled in just fine.

Fooling Koch
On the occasion of Obama’s inauguration, Ed Koch reflected on his first as mayor: “I recall how when I said I wanted to go to my inaugural from my home in Greenwich Village by getting on a public bus, I was told, ‘No, it’s too dangerous.’ I overruled the security forces and boarded a bus. I was surprised to see only one person on it, who appeared to be a homeless man. I later learned it was a special bus prepared for me to take and that the ‘homeless person’ was an N.Y.P.D. detective.” 




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