Volume 22, Number 12 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 7 - 13, 2009

Under Cover

What’s cooking at L.M.D.C.?
The brand-new film “Julie & Julia” has a surprising Lower Manhattan connection. Starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, the movie chronicles the true story of Julie Powell, a burnt-out New York City secretary who decided to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in one year and blog about it.

So what exactly was this dead-end job that so bored Powell that she was driven to the cooking project that made her famous?

As it turns out, it was a gig at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Powell worked as a secretary there while she was doing her cooking-and-blogging project in 2002 and 2003. She frequently vented about her “government drone” job on her blog.

In November 2003, shortly before she quit the L.M.D.C., she described being overwhelmed by likely having to work straight through the weekend, shortly before eight potential designs for the 9/11 memorial were unveiled.

“It is absolutely [expletive] D-Day at the LMDC,” she wrote on Nov. 11, “and if I have to reschedule one more Very Important [expletive] Person I will kill someone, and let me just warn any VIFPs who might be out there reading, it’s not gonna be me.”

Several months earlier, she complained about the very detailed procedures she was required to follow and said, “I’m just distressed that there’s no procedure for getting a [expletive] liquor cabinet in the staff kitchen, where it’s really needed.”

L.M.D.C. spokesperson John De Libero declined to comment on Powell’s remarks.

A Reuters review of “Julie & Julia” draws a connection between Powell’s job and the malaise that compelled her to take on the cooking project: “She works in a federal government office overlooking the World Trade Center crater and laments that she has never finished anything in her life.”

Upon reading that quote, Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Community Board 1’s W.T.C. Redevelopment Committee, was filled with sympathy.

“Sometimes the community feels like that, too,” Hughes told us.

Obama shine on B.P.C.
President Obama last week tapped Battery Park City resident Benjamin B. Tucker to be deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Tucker, 58, is a criminal law professor at Pace University in Lower Manhattan and has also worked at Columbia University’s national center on addiction. A former beat cop who grew up in Bed-Stuy, he will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before taking office.

Tribeca unrest
Neil Fabricant, a leader in the fight a few years ago to keep Independence Plaza North apartments affordable for existing residents when the landlord withdrew from the Mitchell-Lama program, has entered a new battle with Mayor Bloomberg. He has organized FUNY, Fed Up New Yorkers, an anti-Bloomberg group also opposed to all City Council candidates who supported the end run around term limits. There is a four-page FUNY paper and there was a FUNY meeting last month.

“Voters went twice to the polls and said ‘No third term.’ This is about Mike Bloomberg against the people of New York,” Fabricant told UnderCover.

Public Advocate Candidate Mark Green dropped in to the meeting and representatives of Margaret Chin’s council campaign were in attendance. Another I.P.N. resident and FUNY man, John Scott, said he was against Councilmember Alan Gerson and for Chin in the council race. Scott, an outgoing member of the District 2 Community Education Council, also denounced Bloomberg for ignoring parents on education. “It’s not about mayoral control, it’s about mayoral dictatorship,” said Scott regarding the city school system.

Vote of confidence
Pete Gleason’s campaign for City Council got a boost this week from Fernando Ferrer, the Democratic nominee for mayor in 2005.

Ferrer, former Bronx Borough President, endorsed Gleason Monday at a rally on the steps of City Hall. Afterward, the Gleason campaign released a statement from Ferrer that praised Gleason’s background as a lawyer and police officer and noted their shared Bronx heritage.

“I know [Gleason] won’t be one of those go-along-to-get-along faces in the crowd,” Ferrer said at the press conference. “He served in the trenches long enough to know this is about people.”

Board addition
The L.M.D.C. is getting a new board member to replace Martha Stark, the former city finance commissioner who resigned amid a nepotism scandal in April.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is appointing Kate Levin, commissioner of the Cultural Affairs Dept., to take Stark’s place. That could signal that the mayor wants to push forward the plans for the performing arts center at the World Trade Center site, a project that has languished as a low priority since it can’t be built for years under the current plan.

The L.M.D.C. recently floated moving the PAC to the Tower 5 site once the Deutsche Bank building comes down, which would allow the PAC to rise sooner. Levin’s appointment could be another signal of progress in that direction.




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