Volume 22, Number 20 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 25 - October 1, 2009

Under Cover

Surprise endorsement
As the New York Times recently pointed out, Mayor Mike Bloomberg has solicited endorsements from almost everyone imaginable in his bid for reelection, from celebrities to little-known cultural groups.

One person he didn’t think to ask was renowned architect Maya Lin, who showed up to the opening of her new Museum of Chinese in America space with a large Bloomberg sticker adhered to her sweater. She said she got the sticker at one of Bloomberg’s campaign events and was not prodded by the mayor’s staff to wear it. While introducing the mayor at the event, Lin praised Bloomberg’s commitment to culture and his leadership of the city.

Bloomberg, who walked in just after Lin’s introduction, later said he was pleased to have her endorsement. He had equally glowing praise for Lin and added that he had always been a little bit in love with her. To that revelation, the married Lin just ducked her head and laughed.

‘Not particularly’ tense
Newly elected district leader Paul Newell recently got what we can only imagine must have been an awkward phone call from Judy Rapfogel, longtime chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Newell challenged Silver in the Democratic primary last year and accused the speaker, among other things, of being an obstacle to transparent government.

Despite that history, Newell said his talk with Rapfogel last week was “not particularly” tense.

“We had a very cordial conversation,” Newell said. “She congratulated me and said she and the speaker are looking forward to working with me, and I said the same. We wished each other a Shana Tova,” the greeting for the Jewish New Year.

Newell said he still has concerns about some of Silver’s positions, but the speaker has also “done a lot of good things,” Newell said, “and I’m happy to work with him on those.”

As for whether the past will be an obstacle to that work, “We shall see,” Newell said.

In limbo
Charlie Urstadt, vice chairperson of the Battery Park City Authority, recently pointed out an uncomfortable fact about the authority’s chairperson, James Gill.

Speaking at the September authority board meeting, Urstadt wondered why Gill’s term on the board had expired nearly a year ago, on Dec. 31, 2008, and Gov. David Paterson had not reappointed him.

Gill was originally appointed by former Gov. George Pataki and was a strong Pataki supporter, so Paterson could be weighing bouncing Gill in favor of someone whose loyalty lies with the new administration. (Gill’s predecessor survived about a year of Pataki administration.)

Gill, though, thinks something different is at play.

“I assume [Paterson] is waiting for the investigation to be completed,” Gill said, referring to the state inspector general’s probe into whether the authority misused funds and private apartments.

Urstadt said the authority ought to urge Paterson to reappoint Gill immediately.

Islamic Liberty
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has been shacking up this week in the penthouse loft of Russell Simmons overlooking the World Trade Center. Neighbors have not seen much of the minister, but they have not been too pleased with all of the extra security in the Liberty St. building.

One speculated that Farrakhan might be speaking with many world leaders at the United Nations. “I don’t know why, although they do let hateful people speak there,” he said.

Alliance Change
Valerie Lewis, until recently a vice president at the Downtown Alliance and one of the key people who helped start the River to River festival, has just crossed the river to become executive director of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy. Many of Downtown’s mover and shakers bid Lewis farewell at a party thrown by Alliance president Liz Berger last week at Church & Dey in the Millenium Hotel. Lewis, who worked at the Alliance for 11 years, ran the largest business improvement district’s marketing department.

Stereo kitchen
We caught up with one of those movers, J & R’s general manager Abe Brown, at Val Lewis’s farewell last week. We pride ourselves on knowing most of what is going on Downtown, so we were a little surprised and embarrassed not to know about some of J & R’s newer merchandise. Even “Sex and the City” fans know that it’s a good place to find electronics (and jazz CD’s for the iPod-resistant), but we were unaware that the store now also sells housewares, appliances and musical instruments. Brown told us with more people living Downtown, they’ve expanded the offerings to meet the demand.

C.B. 1 newbie
In what is likely a sign of the dire labor market, more than 250 people applied for the community liaison position at Community Board 1 this summer. From that pool, the board selected Yume Kitasei, 21, a Battery Park City resident who graduated from Princeton University in the spring. In addition to having a background in planning and experience with city government, Kitasei is very familiar with her new workplace — her parents have lived in Lower Manhattan for the past six years, and she attended Stuyvesant High School.

Party boat aftermath
In the wake of the fatal early morning shooting at South Street Seaport last month, Community Board 1’s John Fratta met with Seaport officials and toured the Atlantica, the party boat on which the feud leading to the shooting erupted. Fratta reported on the meeting to his Seaport/Civic Center Committee earlier this month, describing new safety measures that are now in place, including that no boats will be allowed to dock on Pier 17 after midnight.

Fratta also got a tour of the Atlantica, owned by Mark Philips, and described it as a plush catering hall.

“Maybe we should have our Christmas party there,” joked Paul Hovitz, another board member.

As it turned out, it wasn’t such a joke — Fratta said Philips had offered, and the community board may take him up on it.

On a more serious note, Fratta said Philips expressed regret for allowing too many people to board the Atlantica on Aug. 22, the night Omar Trent, 31, was killed. Janell Vaughan, Seaport manager, said boat owners and the First Precinct would take additional steps to make sure a similar incident did not recur.






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