Volume 22, Number 41 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | February 19 - 25, 2010
Return of Tequila
Our woman in Haiti, photographer Tequila Minsky, surprised us by strolling into our office on Tuesday; she had returned on Saturday, and she looked great, although a little tired. “I ran out of money,” the Soho lens woman said. A frequent visitor to Haiti, Minsky captured some of the first shots of the earthquake and had her photos published all over the world as well as in Downtown Express. She flew back on a U.S. Air Force cargo plane since commercial flights are still not running out of Port-au-Prince. She’s still catching her breath, downloading her last shots, and getting ready to write more about her experiences.
Criticism at the top
UnderCover is used to hearing parents complain about the city’s penchant for opening up smaller, boutique high schools, but we were surprised to hear that a Dept. of Education administrator has some of the same concerns.
Elizabeth Rose, director of portfolio planning for the D.O.E., responded sympathetically when parents told her recently that the new boutique high schools don’t offer the same variety of programs as larger high schools.
“I actually made the same point last night to one of my colleagues,” Rose said at a meeting of Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s school overcrowding taskforce last week. “One of the things that I find dismaying is that it’s going to be very hard for any school that isn’t a very large school to offer A.P. Latin, because just how many kids are you going to get that want to take that class?”
Jeff Simmons, who until recently was communications director for former Comptroller Bill Thompson, took a new job this week as vice president of communications for the Downtown Alliance.
The city’s largest business improvement district appeared to be searching for a new public relations direction over the past year, and also hired a new director of public affairs, James Yolles, last summer.
In addition to working for Thompson’s office, Simmons also helped with Thompson’s ’05 reelection campaign and David Paterson’s ’06 run for lieutenant governor. Before stepping into government, Simmons reported for many local news outlets, including NY1, the New York Post and The Record of Hackensack, N.J.
Another of Simmons’ alma maters, the Daily News, just featured Simmons this week in a story about people who create Facebook pages for their pets. Simmons and his partner Alfonso Quiroz, a Con Ed spokesperson, use their P.R. savvy to maintain the online presence of Bruno, their Brussels Griffon. Bruno the Brussels has 500 fans on Facebook. (The Downtown Alliance Facebook page, by comparison, has 455 fans.)
UnderCover has to admit that we at Downtown Express are a little jealous of these high fan numbers, as we’re still working at breaking the 100-fan mark on our page. To get our breaking news updates and join our discussions, search Facebook for “Downtown Express” and become a fan.
Too cheap for L.P.C.
The Down Town Association will need to spend more money on its planned addition at 60 Pine St. in order to get the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s approval.
The 150-year-old private club wants to put a three-story addition atop its landmarked six-story building, including new squash courts and bedrooms for members. The L.P.C. saw the plans for the first time this week at a public hearing and commissioners weren’t impressed with the green-painted roof the Down Town Association planned to use to approximate copper’s patina. Echoing Community Board 1’s advisory opinion from November, the L.P.C. requested a roof material that would weather naturally instead. Back then, Down Town Association President Mark Altherr said he would look at using copper but was concerned about the expense.
Nadezhda Williams, with the Historic Districts Council, said at Tuesday’s L.P.C. hearing that the addition was too visible and bulky on the Cedar St. side, but the L.P.C. commissioners didn’t share that concern, because 60 Pine sits between taller buildings. The commissioners did request a few other changes, involving materials and the shape of the roof.
New City Councilmember Margaret Chin chaired her first Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee meeting last week (well, co-chaired with Peter Vallone of the Public Safety Committee), and we hear she made quite an impression by making opening remarks in Cantonese in addition to English. Chin is the first Chinese Councilmember to represent Chinatown, and many of her constituents turned out to the hearing, which was on the 9/11 trials.
Downtown’s little drug store that grew into a corporate giant, Duane Reade, was acquired by Walgreens Wednesday in a $1 billion sale by Oak Hill Capital Partners. The Lower Manhattan pharmacy started in 1960 on Broadway between … but of course, Duane and Reade Sts. Walgreens plans to keep the Duane Reade name and don’t worry those, bonus card points will still be good for the “foreseeable future,” according to the Duane Reade Web site.