Volume 21, Number 41 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | February 20 - 26, 2009

Under Cover

Mike’s no Hugo
Mayor Mike Bloomberg did not take kindly to a reporter’s question Wednesday comparing his effort to extend term limits with a similar, but more democratic move by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

“My suspicion is he doesn’t have press conferences and let people ask questions, or if they ask questions he probably throws them — I don’t know what he does with them,” an annoyed Bloomberg told a rival of ours. “I fail to see the connection.”

Well, as the reporter pointed out, Chavez has just won a voters’ referendum allowing him to run for reelection, whereas Bloomberg chose to push his term limit extension through the City Council instead of taking the referendum option.

C.B. 1 battles itself
Members of Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee protested angrily about a proposed street fair at a meeting earlier this month.

The proposal, which would close Whitehall St. between Water and Beaver Sts. for an entire Friday in June, would cause major traffic problems, several board members said.

“It’s such a disruption for the community,” said Liz Williams, a board member who lives on Beaver St.

Who was the evil nonprofit who proposed such a disruptive street fair? As it turns out, it was none other than Community Board 1 itself.

C.B. 1 has long held street fairs to supplement its budget. The Whitehall fair would bring in $7,000 to $8,000, said Noah Pfefferblit, district manager of C.B. 1. Last year, receipts from the fairs totaled $25,000 and $30,000, which the board used for office expenses.

Conflict-of-interest concerns, particularly when the board staff used the fair revenue to supplement their own salaries, were raised in the past by former member Rick Landman. The lines are also fuzzy because the group that runs the board-sponsored fairs, Mardi Gras Festival Productions, also comes before the board requesting permits on behalf of other organizations.

The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board ruled that it was not illegal for the board to sponsor street fairs, as long as board members, not staff members like Pfefferblit, do all the negotiating.

Mardi Gras first proposed the Whitehall fair location last year, and the board approved it over residents’ objections. Pfefferblit hoped last year would be a trial, to see if the fair location would work, but construction forced it to be cancelled. This year, Mardi Gras hoped to try again, but more board members objected this time around.

At a Feb. 4 meeting, the Financial District Committee initially narrowly rejected the Whitehall fair, then decided to defer the decision to the full board meeting Feb. 24.

“I don’t think we should be disrupting the community to be making a couple thousand bucks,” Williams said. “This is the community coming before C.B. 1, and C.B. 1 made that decision.”

Robbing from Redford
The Tribeca Film Festival one-upped the older and better-known Sundance Film Festival by recently hiring Sundance’s Geoffrey Gilmore as chief creative officer.

Gilmore is coming to the Tribeca Film Festival with 19 years of experience at Sundance, most recently as its director. Gilmore will also join the board of Tribeca Enterprises, the festival’s parent company founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and her husband, Craig Hatkoff.

Among the hits Gilmore brought to Sundance, a festival Robert Redford founded, are “Little Miss Sunshine” and “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Pace University recently recognized Community Board 1 member Ann DeFalco for her work in the neighborhood.

DeFalco received Pace’s Jefferson Award for Public Service, which puts her in the running for a national award. A periodicals coordinator at Pace, DeFalco is co-chairperson of C.B. 1’s Youth and Education Committee and also co-chairs the Southbridge Towers Parent and Youth Association.




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