Volume 17 • Issue 30 | Dec. 17 - 23, 2004


Under Cover

Bah Humbug
New York parents can tighten their purse strings this holiday giving season when it comes to tokens for teachers. Joel Klein, Grinch of the Whoville that is the New York City Department of Education, replied to an email to P.S. 89 co-president Angela Benfield this week confirming that yes, parents are free to lavish their kids’ teachers with $5 presents. In a moment of trigger-happy bliss, apparently forgetting his past life as Microsoft’s grim reaper, he hit “reply all” and, to UnderCover’s delight, included us in the terse exchange.

“Parents want to show their appreciation during the ‘season of giving’ for all the hard work that teachers do (for little pay)….  Instead of spending time deciding gift limits, why doesn’t the [Dept. Of Education] spend time working out a better contract for the teachers,” wrote Benfield.

“The policy is required by law, which prevents gifts to public employees,” responded Klein. Apparently, a group of grumbling parents, on holiday gifting overload, delivered the matter to the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board last year and the board cracked the whip. “Best to you for the holidays. Joel Klein.”

But isn’t $5 still a gift? Inquired nimble-minded Benfield. Not according to the Conflicts of Interest Board, who asked for a specific limit that Klein set at a whopping $5, Klein wrote back. It’s apples for everyone!


Turkey Babies
Laura Stevens, co-founder and executive director of Manhattan Children’s Theatre in Tribeca pulled her own turkey out of the oven on Thanksgiving. Oscar Baderic Master, weighing in at 6 lbs, showed up three weeks early and in time for dinner. “He said ‘That’s it, I’m out of there,” said Stevens, 35. Husband Danny Masters, 41 and also dad to 11-year-old Honour, rushed back to the couple’s Franklin St. apartment to chow down with guests at the party they intended to host. Oscar, a New Yorker from the start, is already sporting the urban look. “He has spikey hair just like a rock star!” said Stevens. “Boys all over the city want to look like him.”


Commissioner Park City
Homeland Security nominee-for-a-week Bernard Kerik wasn’t the only commissioner slumming in Battery Park City enjoying his illicit two lady love nest. The current N.Y.P.D. Commish, Ray Kelly, also has a B.P.C. pad of his own, sans the dueling mistresses, of course.


Ratner’s Blowout Bombs
If everyone else jumped off a bridge, Ratner’s Restaurant would too. Going the way of other “New York City institutions” ala Teddy’s, the restaurant said bye-bye to make room for hipster yuppies’ two favorite things: a swanky bar and a condo. Ratner’s celebrated its 100th anniversary last Tuesday. How a place can celebrate its anniversary two years after it closed is beyond us, but we decided to get into the Ratner’s spirit and ring up an old ex so we could break up all over again. Maybe Ratner’s thought they could lure us back into their arms for an afternoon soiree of kosher knishes—frozen kosher knishes, that is.


No Margarita.com
UnderCover hears that City Councilmember Margarita Lopez can’t use the Internet. The loquacious Lower East Sider does not even have an email address to chat with her constituents. She prefers to campaign the old fashioned way: on the phone.



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