Volume 22, Number 11 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 31 - August 6, 2009
City Councilmember Alan Gerson isn’t the only candidate for his seat who’s facing potential petition problems.
None of Gerson’s four opponents has been disqualified like Gerson, but two of them received challenges to their petitions. Arthur Gregory was challenged by John Ross, a Tribeca resident, and PJ Kim was challenged by Joseph Viso, of Battery Park City, and Julie Blitzer, of the Financial District.
PJ Kim’s two challengers are acquaintances of Margaret Chin’s campaign manager, but they have since dropped their complaint.
But Ross is going forward against Gregory.
He said he distrusts Gregory because the candidate has owned bars. Ross initially shied away from telling us who he was supporting in the race, saying “I’m an ignoramus. I don’t know anything,” but he eventually said he was in candidate Pete Gleason’s camp.
Gregory said all of the other candidates, including Gleason, promised that they had nothing to do with the signature challenge. Gleason did not respond to a request for comment.
Gregory didn’t sound too worried about the possibility of being being booted from the ballot, but he called the whole system “stupid.”
“I don’t think anyone should have the right to tell voters they don’t have the right to vote for someone,” Gregory said.
Speaking of the First District campaign, allegations have been swirling over the party loyalty of PJ Kim, who made a late splash in the race with strong fundraising returns.
As it turns out, the rumors of Kim’s Republican roots had some fact and some falsehood. He grew up in Tennessee and at the age of 17 interned for Bill Frist, the U.S. Senator in his home state who later became Republican majority leader.
In 2001, Kim, now 30, registered as a Republican in New York City, but he almost immediately began volunteering on campaigns for Democrats, including John Liu’s ’01 Council campaign. When he moved to Massachusetts in 2003 to start a graduate program at Harvard, Kim registered as a Democrat, and when he moved back to New York City a couple years later, he changed his registration here.
Kim said he quickly got disillusioned with the Republican Party once he was “out of the little bubble of Tennessee.”
“Living in New York City was a formative experience for me,” Kim said.
Since 2001, he has volunteered for many big-name Democrats, including Howard Dean, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
City Councilmember Alan Gerson can’t seem to catch a break this week. In the midst of his ballot snafu, he also had to contend with yet another delay to his hearing on the status of the World Trade Center site.
Gerson first called the hearing for June 3, hoping to bring the warring Port Authority and Silverstein Properties to the table to hold them accountable. But at the request of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other politicians, the hearing has been delayed again, and again, and again. This week, the hearing was scheduled for July 27, but Silver requested the delay to give Gov. David Paterson, who just waded into the mess last week, a chance to sort it out.
Rather than postponing the entire hearing, Gerson held the less controversial pieces of it this week and set a new date for the Port vs. Silverstein showdown: Aug. 17 at 1 p.m.
“There will be no postponement, under any circumstances,” Gerson promised.
Funny, but that sounds a bit familiar.
Last minute invite
Talk about a potentially fortuitous meeting — community activist Ann DeFalco bumped into Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott last week as DeFalco was on her way to the Community Board 1 Youth and Education Committee across the street from City Hall and the Dept. of Ed headquarters.
Education is Walcott’s specialty, so DeFalco invited Walcott along to the meeting, which was going to focus on school overcrowding and zoning. Walcott did not accept.
“He rolled his eyes at me and got in the car,” DeFalco said.
We’d be the last ones to ever call Community Board 1 meetings boring, but they can occasionally be a tad…uneventful. So we can understand that board member Tiffany Winbush was tweeting — that means posting a short message on the Web site Twitter.com, for all you Luddites out there — during the full board meeting Tuesday night.
And Winbush’s tweet was even relevant to the meeting. “It’s refreshing to see state senators attend local Community Board meetings,” she wrote under the name TiffanyPR. “Kudos to Daniel Squadron.”
Shelly Silver, the Assembly speaker, also turned up to the meeting to address the board, but Squadron got the most laughs, especially when he described the dysfunctional State Senate’s escapades over the past month.
“When I ran for office I said Albany was…really broken,” Squadron said, “and I hate to be wrong.”