Volume 22, Number 25 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 30 - November 6, 2009
Margaret Chin’s debut at Community Board 1 Tuesday night did not exactly go smoothly.
The Democratic nominee for the First City Council District started off on the right foot by speaking for only about a minute during the board’s public session — her brevity earned her several approving whispers. (Councilmember Alan Gerson, whom Chin is likely replacing, spoke at the meeting for about 10 minutes.)
But then, later in the meeting, C.B. 1 Chairperson Julie Menin mentioned that Chin requested the board move its monthly meeting to a different night of the week, since Community Board 3 also meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Elected officials and their representatives often have to scurry from one meeting to the other and can never stay for too long at either.
Community Board 1 — whose members have been known to say, “We’re No. 1 for a reason” — did not seem amenable to this suggestion. Several people called out that C.B. 3 ought to change its meeting time instead. Chin, who had been a member of both boards at different times, said C.B. 3 picked the time slot first.
Sensing a brewing crisis, Menin said the board would discuss the scheduling change another time.
Pride & Duane
Empire State Pride Agenda leader Alan Van Capelle challenged Tom Duane last week to deliver on his promises to get gay marriage passed in New York.
“Sen. Tom Duane, you have told us on multiple occasions you have the votes to pass this bill,” Van Capelle said at ESPA’s fundraising dinner attended by Duane. “Give us the dignity, the rights, and respect we deserve.”
Duane, who represents part of Downtown and is the State Senate’s first and only openly gay member, initially criticized Gov. David Paterson when he put the marriage bill on the front burner this year.
Van Capelle, who singled out other Democratic senators as well, said: “Some senators, even sponsors of the bill, in an attempt to slow us down, will say that we have not made our case. That is a lie.”
Duane later told our sister publication Gay City News, which first reported Van Capelle’s remarks, that “I am angry also. I don’t just gotta pray it’s going to happen. I know it’s going to happen. I have tremendous sympathy for the anger, the impatience, the fear that it might not happen.”
Paterson though had the crowd laughing when he joked that commitment-phobic gays were going to lose a good excuse.
“If you’ve been telling your loved ones, you know, ‘I’d marry you, but we have a legal problem,’” Paterson said. “Maybe like many straight people have done, you’ve led someone along …. You’d better leave now. Marriage equality is coming to New York State.”
Speaking of ESPA, Erin Drinkwater, community representative for U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, announced that her three years with the congressman are coming to a close. Drinkwater will soon start a new job at the Empire State Pride Agenda as director of downstate organizing.
Bill & Chris
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s blink-and-you-missed-it endorsement of mayoral candidate Bill Thompson just eight days before the election should be enough for Council Democrats to deliver her back to the top spot, sources said. According to one councilmember, Quinn’s re-election as speaker was all but guaranteed when she offered support for Thompson at an unrelated press conference at I.S. 89 in Battery Park City on Monday.
“The speaker’s leadership in the City Council is secure; it was never in jeopardy,” said Brooklyn Councilmember Letitia James, a strident voice against the legislative overturning of term limits that Quinn helped engineer last year. “An endorsement is an endorsement, despite its tepidity. At least [Quinn] mentioned his name, and even went further and added two additional sentences,” she quipped.
Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s press secretary, didn’t mention Thompson’s name a few weeks ago when he announced that the Big Man was endorsing the Democratic nominee.
“So we’ll accept it, and we’ll run with it,” James added, “and we look forward to the next four years with her as our leader.”
Quinn had apparently approached Thompson earlier about the endorsement, but due to tensions between the two — the speaker is seen as too close an ally of Mayor Mike Bloomberg — he put off an announcement. So Quinn slipped in the nod with little fanfare when speaking to reporters after the press conference, framing her position as an afterthought despite broad speculation over what she would ultimately do.
“I’ve spoken to Comptroller Thompson,” she said at the event. “I told him that I am supporting him and I’m ready to be helpful in any way.”
The back and forth between Quinn and Thompson helps explain why even her staff seemed confused as to the endorsement’s timing, with one Council employee intimating last week that the announcement would come before the weekend. Still, the last-minute tip of the cap should be enough to propel Quinn to another term as speaker, regardless of any lingering enmity between her, Thompson and some Council Democrats.
Salvatore Strazzullo thought he was giving his neighborhood a gift it wouldn’t refuse.
Strazzullo, a lawyer and recent Tribeca transplant, wants to sponsor a Christmas tree this year in Duane Park. He wants to collect toys to put under the tree and hold a ceremony in early December to give the gifts to underprivileged children.
But when Strazzullo presented his idea to Community Board 1 on Tuesday, board members were turned off by what they saw as Strazzullo’s attitude of self-promotion. Several board members said it would be a bad precedent to allow people to advertise their businesses (in this case, Strazzullo’s private law firm) in public parks.
“I have a problem with it,” said Pat Moore, a board member. She suggested that Strazzullo, who by then had left the meeting, instead make a quiet donation to the new Battery Park City library.
As opposition to the tree grew, board member Jeff Galloway finally used the “g” word.
“I don’t think we should be grinches,” Galloway said. “It’s nice that [Strazzullo] wants to do something nice for the community.”
But the majority of the board disagreed, voting 19-16 against the tree. The board’s vote is only advisory, and a Parks Dept. spokesperson said the city was still reviewing Strazzullo’s application and would likely make a decision next week. Strazzullo did not return a call for comment.