Saturday, January 28, 2006

Let the SunShine In

City government and especially Community Boards need as many sunny dispositions as possible, given the nature of politics. More to the point, the law requires that "sunlight" rules apply to the many details that are reviewed in these elemental bodies of Democracy.

While numerous matters seem to escape general scrutiny, it is hoped that the new administration in the Borough President's office will insist upon complete openness.

A recent application, for example, by the Village Nursing Home for necessary variances needed to build a new facility on West Houston Street -- a much needed community facility -- came before Community Board #2 on several occasions. It's repeated presentation involved much discussion among Committee and Board members, and there were a number of outreach consultations with the community. The process was handled well.

But, at no meeting that was held on this matter, was there mention of the fact that the multi-million dollar parcel in contract for this facility was owned by a Community Board #2 member. While there have been no unseemly questions about the transaction or the review process at the Board -- the fact that this item of information was not divulged publicly during the many hearings in this lengthy process -- creates questions about openness. In fact, some Board members did not, and still do not know, that such a relationship exists.

Recusing one's vote during the vote on an application in which a Board member has a financial interest is not always enough. A simple statement by any Board member prior to discussions and voting -- indicating to the Public and the Board that such a relationship exists -- should be required. Financial interest is one thing, the ability to exercise influence during the application process, is another.

Whether it be a multi-million dollar real estate transaction or a liquor license application -- there should be complete openness and transparency. Speaking up prior to discussions has a clarifying effect upon all involved. This protects the Board member involved and protects the community from the potential for indirect pressure tactics that may be illegal or unethical.

We hope Mr. Stringer, our new Borough President will review this as part of his reform of the Community Boards.

Speaking of Borough Presidents, we have learned that in an effort to stack Community Board #2 with bar owners, a predilection of C. Virginia Fields -- and part of the deal to pay back the Nightlife crew among her supporters and fundraisers -- several of the Borough President appointments to the Board were made as a lame duck. The most recent of these appointments were vetted by Fields' people for their pro-liquor license attitudes. And, you can take that to the bank.

Fields had blocked appointments by Christine Quinn (Tobi Bergman and Jo Hamilton) as well as Margarita Lopez, and held back new appointments during the election -- in an effort to swing the election of Maria Derr for Chair of that Board. Usually, in a transition period, a number of appointments are left for the incoming administration. This is considered to be a matter of professional graciousness and courtesy. Not here.

Fields appointed bar owners til the bitter end -- in a continuing payback for all of those who filled campaign coffers. To Hell with the community.

It is highly unusual for an elected official to so openly play politics with appointments to Community Boards because the power of the Boards is not particularly great -- the Boards are advisory in nature. The Borough President is not supposed to directly try to affect the outcome of any election -- since it is a Community body, not an extension of some group's little Business operation.

But, that's another story.

The application for 311 West Broadway, a new SoHo development which was approved at the Community Board level, will be a 9 story condo project located between Canal and Grand Streets on West Broadway. One of the reasons why this application is important is the fact that currently a 206 space parking lot exists on the site of the development. As has been discussed before in the SoHo Journal, the 74-712 Special text amendment, was specifically enacted to deal with development of the remaining 14 vacant lots in SoHo and NoHo. Unfortunately, while this regulation does deal with the issue of eating and drinking establishments (which have often turned into nightclubs in SoHo), it does not address the severe lack of parking arising out of the disappearance of these lots due to development. However, this particular project does provide for the return of a good portion of the parking that is being eliminated by the two new separate and distinct buildings -- one facing on West Broadway and the other facing Wooster Street. Between the buildings will be a planned open space and below grade there will be a 150 space public parking garage.

Two issues about this development are still unresolved. First, residents of the neighboring building which is a coop, are very concerned with the structural integrity of their homes during and after construction. Since the water level is only 14 feet below grade in this, the lowest spot in Manhattan, the 12 feet deep below grade construction for the foundation and parking facility -- is a troubling issue for the coop owners. Former Board member Tobi Bergman is dealing with just such a problem right now on Watts Street, due to the construction of a 17 story, "as of right" hotel next to him. One of the walls of his building appears to be suffering from partial collapse.
One of the reasons for the fairly speedy approval of the West Broadway project was the impressive array of professionals that were gathered by the owner Albert Laboz, in presenting this proposal through attorney Howard Zipser. If the owner and his consultants negotiate in good faith and do as they say they will do in protecting the integrity of the adjoining building -- it will be a benefit to SoHo.

The second issue involves the lounge, 323 as it is called, located on the parcel being developed. While the 74-712 Special Permit application does not allow eating or drinking establishments, the existing free-standing building (which will remain) that is part of the lot which is the subject of the the application -- has, and will continue to have, the lounge. At the Zoning Committee hearing where the variance for the building was being discussed, several residents complained about loud music emanating from 323 -- but unfortunately they did not bring up this problem during the committee discussions with the developer.
Howard Zipser, the applicant's attorney, and Sean Sweeney of the SoHo Alliance have stated that Laboz is a "good guy" and Zipser tells us that he will be responsive to the community on this issue.

Jim McManus of the powerful McManus Midtown Democratic Club has indicated that he has become interested in the candidacy of Tom Suozzi, the Nassau County Executive who has initiated the "Fix Albany" campaign. The chinks in Eliot Spitzer's teflon armor have developed partly as a result of Republican disinformation, but is also due to the perception by some Democrats that Spitzer is a little too squeaky-clean. Translated: a little too cranky or dismissive with those who disagree with him. The fact that McManus is friendly with the Attorney General, yet sees a more congenial talent in the attractive Mr. Suozzi, speaks volumes.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

SoHo Politics

One of the most visible and outspoken members of Community Board #2, Melissa Sklarz is now a star. Rumor has it, she is a supporting member of the cast of Transamerica, an Indy film. As the only announced transgender member of Community Board #2, she has been a highly visible champion of sexual-orientation rights on the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Bisexual Committee. She is reportedly moving to Queens and it is expected that she will be leaving this Board. While there are many who neither understand nor appreciate the problems and concerns of the transgender community, she has been their vocal and unwavering voice. See the film and wish her success.

Apparently Rick Panson, former owner of the Duplex and current partner of Ron Pasquale (both CB2 members) in their new restaurant venture Eat 4 Health, has had "words" with Sean Sweeney of the SoHo Alliance. The continuing flap is about the proposed Beer and Wine license for this new establishment at 76 Wooster Street. The SoHo community is strongly objecting to the possibility that this could ultimately turn into another nightclub/lounge. But, even just a restaurant in this tight mid-block location on a residential street poses problems, according to SoHo neighbors.

SoHo residents boarded a bus this past Wednesday to attend the S.L.A. hearing on 125th street for the Eat 4 Health Beer and Wine license but the applicants didn't show. Instead, two of their lawyers attended and informed everyone that a postponement had previously been requested and that the restaurant owners really wanted to "hear everyone's concerns." Caroline Keating, a SoHo resident and activist, joined the community group at the S.L.A. but called this display simply a brush off. It appeared as though the Commissioners and attorneys for the applicants had played a variation on the good cop, bad cop routine -- at the expense of the community. One of the lawyers claimed to have notified the S.L.A. that the applicants were not going to be able to attend, but the S.L.A. Commissioners apparently did not think it necessary to advise the residents about this inevitable postponement. The S.L.A. heard a few comments and then (surprise, surprise) decided that the only "fair" thing to do would be to postpone the hearing. "Fair" to whom, is the real question. It's doubtful that either the attorneys or Commissioners had spent the previous few weeks arranging for a bus full of people, who have other things to do with their lives, to appear at a hearing -- for one bar application.

This is an example of the contempt exhibited by the S.L.A. towards residents of our community. And, which applicants lawyers (many of whom are friends of Commissioners directly or indirectly), count on in this little chess game.

Seems that the level of hostility this Beer and Wine application has generated, which normally is rubber-stamped by a pro-Bar S.L.A., is rooted in the fact that several nightclub-styled establishments have already been a problem at 76 Wooster Street. The track record is not good. Attorney Barry Mallin is handling the matter for the SoHo Alliance and it seems likely that this application will wind up in court.

Pay attention to the fact that new liquor licenses morph quickly. It is zoning by S.L.A. fiat. What was once Pfiff, a restaurant on Grand Street, for example, is now Copper -- a bar/lounge that is usually closed for private events. The sushi bar and also the former Nameskaar on the corner of West Broadway and Grand Street are closed to SoHo residents as well. But, we have been informed that at least one of them opens late at night and operates as a lounge after hours. So, while we have a couple of dry cleaners, a few deli's, no shoe repair store, not one supermarket, no hardware stores, one pharmacy and NO schools in SoHo -- we have twenty to thirty bars in a two block area. What is wrong with this picture?

Zella Jones, a community leader and activist from the NoHo Neighborhood Association, contacted us and expressed her concern that NoHo seemed to be unfairly treated in their efforts in dealing with bars. NoHo is dealing with another 26 Bond Street application at CB2. She pointed out that in the recent issue of the SoHo Journal, it was suggested that NoHo had less of a problem than SoHo in this regard -- yet has been treated better by the Community Board. In fact, she reported, a bar application which was mentioned in the recent issue had serious safety problems (sprinkler systems) and that there is an ongoing problem with the saturation of bars in their community as well. She also suggested that NoHo and SoHo needs work together to bring this problem out front and center and downtown politicians should be lobbied even more aggressively to get the job done. Zella herself can be reached through her website.

Interestingly, Community Board #3 on the Lower East Side is also dealing with this issue. The "Town Hall Coalition" is a group of individuals for whom the problem has gotten way out of hand. Rob Hollander points out that his Board Chair owns nine bars, all lined up neatly in a row along 1st Avenue, to the detriment of any sensible community planning, at the very least. They are just getting organized. We'll keep you posted on their efforts.

Brad Hoylman, Chair of Community Board #2 Traffic and Transportation Committee has recently been making efforts at community outreach. Among those who are part of the existing power structure at CB2, he has been the most responsive to the needs of parents and SoHo residents. Recently, he made efforts to help parents and caregivers who drop off their children at the few schools near SoHo and who are routinely ticketed by the Traffic Department. His efforts paid off and representatives of D.O.T. joined the dialog. Unfortunately, the effort was hampered at the committee level by lower level representatives of D.O.T. (despite the fact that Commissioner Forgione was personally helpful) who appear to have no interest in finding a way to aid the parents wishing to safely bring their children to school.

Which brings us to the matter of Park space for our children. One of the most exciting developments downtown has been the transformation of the Hudson River Park. The Parks and Waterfront Committee (at Community Board #2) which deals with use of the Hudson River Park is Chaired by Arthur Schwartz. That committee enabled Pier 40 to be completed and there are playing fields for programmed activity and there still is affordable parking after a $5 million dollar infusion for development was allocated. In addition, the Tennis courts are now completed at the foot of Canal Street -- while further plans are in progress.
But, over all, easy access to the park, is not widely available to children. It is not an easy park to get to for little kids. And, they cannot just go whenever they want to play on the fields.

We hear that Arthur Schwartz will not be appointed to the Hudson River Park Trust Board despite the flattering reports which were published in The Villager, and Madeleine Wils, we understand, will not be reappointed to the HRPT Board. There are also unsubstantiated rumors that the Waterfront and Parks Committee may be divorced -- returning to two separate committees -- in the near future.
Since there are three slots for HRPT appointed by the Borough President (and we expect Judy Nadel to be reappointed) there are only two to be named by Scott Stringer. The two names being bandied about are Florent and Goldberg.

One of the most eligible candidates, and one whom we know is concerned with children and parents (he is a parent), is Larry Goldberg. He is former Chair of the Advisory to the Hudson River Park Trust and former member of the Waterfront Committee. His position, among others, is that parents of young children are not represented on Community Board #2 and that their voices are not heard on a number of issues that affect the community -- including the under-utilized resources at the Hudson River Park. Programmed space is fine, but open access and use of the Park is practically non-existent.

Now that downtown has addressed the myriad issues of special interest groups, minorities, and those who have previously been discriminated against in our society -- it is time to bring the hard-working, tax-paying, child-rearing residents -- who vote -- back into the mainstream of downtown politics. We need parents with young children brought back into the downtown political process and that is a mission that has NOT been accomplished. Our politicians needs to pay attention to this.

In last week's political commentary there were comments about the NSA wiretaps of private citizens. This week many of you have learned about the subpoenas issued to Google by Attorney General Gonzales, ostensibly to gain information that would lead to prosecutions for child pornography. Each week, it seems, there are new attempts by the Bush White House to chisel away at our privacy rights.

Deborah Glick in association with Richard Brodsky has crafted legislation to protect our personal information at the State level. This Personal Privacy Amendment to the State Constitution is an attempt to protect our communications and personal information to keep it out of the governments hands. As Brodsky and Glick point out in their release, "The Bush Administration has whittled away at personal privacy rights, through the increasing power of the unitary executive -- the theory that the executive may exercise unlimited power."
We applaud this action by Assemblymembers Glick and Brodsky as a early response to the packing of the Supreme Court with Conservatives who view the Presidency in Imperial terms.

Friday, January 13, 2006

National and SoHo Perspectives January 13, 2006

Many of you are old enough to remember the Kennedy and Nixon years. Jack Anderson was alive and well and was a good follow-up act to Drew Pearson who seemed offer almost daily revelations about how the government had abused its powers in spying on protest groups or political rivals. Watergate was just one example. J. Edgar Hoover had obviously been busy prancing around in drag at home with his boyfriend, but back at the office everyone worth knowing had a file. Abby Hoffman, Martin Luther King, even Elvis had a personal dossier and was being overheard or watched. Hoffman was pursued, King was compromised about his affairs and eventually murdered, and Elvis got a special badge from Nixon. He even flew in to Washington one night to personally pick it up.
The latest revelation that the NSA has been tapping phone lines involving international calls originating in suspect countries like Afghanistan and being received in this country, is a tempest in a teapot. There are Civil Libertarians and there are pragmatists. Even ignoring the fact that we are engaged in a war, of nerves if not terror, who among us does not expect that we might want to know if someone calling from Afghanistan has something up their sleeve that could be interesting or dangerous. It's not a bizarre possibility. The fact hat someone who was up to no good would make a phone call to America with compromising information is actually a good sign. It attests to their stupidity.
With a secret court to approve wiretaps, how would we know if or when a request to tap our phones had even been requested? Even if Bush or his managers approved a wiretap, how would we know? It's like Alice through the looking glass trying to figure out if she can see everything. No way to know. Or, for the most part, why would we even want to know? Why would we care?

What we all really do know is this. Anyone who expects to be completely private in conversations on the phone, e-mails on the computer, or correspondence that is mailed, faxed or handed out to others -- is either doing drugs or needs psychiatric attention. Phone calls made on a cell phone or telephones (as most of us use) that operate off of a wireless base, are excluded from laws requiring wire taps anyway. Devices which operate on "radio frequencies" can be recovered with electronics without any court approval. E-mails as most of know are basically "out there" and can be retrieved in a number of ways, not to mention a simple subpoena issued to the service provider. Practically nothing you do on a computer is ever really private, even without a hacker working to get at you for personal information. The NSA scans billions of bits of data daily through various means to scan for words or particles of words that indicate the need for review.

Which brings us to this conclusion. The Democrats in Congress, including some Republicans like Arlen specter, are miffed about this for another reason. When Nixon and other former Presidents were operating like cowboys in conjunction with their friends at various Intelligence agencies, their prime targets then were not terrorists. And, the fear is that that fact is still true. The real targets that were most worrisome were political adversaries. The complaints by fringe groups, Yippies, black Panthers, Gray Panthers, SNCC and other protest groups that they were being wire-tapped and surveilled were routinely denied by government spokesman -- and most Americans believed the government. As it turned out, they clearly were being watched (as they should have been), but along with the dissidents who were capable of planting bombs and kidnapping people were political rivals and activists working within the system.

The concern is that there could be the possibility that a Democratic opponent (or a Republican dissident) to the existing party in control could qualify for wiretaps under the laws covering terrorism. It would seem much less likely, if the rules governing terrorism wiretaps were properly observed, that even a secret court would approve tapping, say, Hillary Clinton's phone. The possibility that protection against cowboy decisions made by underlings who provide the President with deniability is what upsets members of Congress. And, that is why it is important to find out whether the powers that be are allowing themselves (or their underlings) to go astray in their ability to listen in on everything we have to say.

The ceremony for swearing in Scott Stringer as Borough President was quite an affair. Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past week, there was an overwhelming turnout at the Temple of Dendur. You can access his speech and some photos of the event. The importance of Stringer's election cannot be overemphasized when you consider the horrendous shape that a few of the Community Boards are in currently.

C. Virginia Fields, Stringer's predecessor, managed to interfere with in several of the previous Community Board elections and in her zealousness and in Community Board #2 managed to appoint bar owners as a reward for substantial campaign donations. She worked hard for the nightlife people right up to the bitter end. Even as a lame duck Borough President, another bar owner friend of the current Chair of Community Board #2 Maria Derr, was recently appointed to the Board. The plan of the nightlife people, which has come to fruition, has been to stack the Board with Bar/Restaurant owners and/or their sympathizers, many of whom are also members of the Chamber of Commerce --in an effort to thwart the will of community activists and residents concerned about quality of life issues. Despite the obvious conflict of interest which exists in several committees on Board #2, not the least of which is the Business Committee, the effort is well underway to relegate true Community-oriented members of the Board to ineffectiveness, without a voice or the ability to vote its interests.
Former Board members like Jo Hamilton, Honi Klein, Tobi Bergman and Ann Arlen have been discarded in favor of bar owners. Quality of life issues are clearly in danger. Community-oriented members of the Boards are in jeopardy. And, the interests of parents with young children are essentially relegated to obscurity. The fact that most parents with young children cannot attend evening meetings of the Community Boards is a glaring issue that has never been addressed. And, that includes many of the elected officials that represent Downtown. The exceptions to this are Alan Gerson, Jerry Nadler, Deborah Glick and Martin Connor. These political representatives have been especially considerate of the full spectrum of their constituency and highly receptive to community-oriented activists.

For those of you community activists on the Downtown political stage, be aware of the fact that the most recent method used in attempting to discredit criticism (especially if you are instrumental in thwarting unwanted businesses, developments or conflicts of interest) is to use the D word against your views -- Discrimination. All of you should be aware that when in doubt, the current political ploy has been to make accusations against political adversaries or opponents by attacking motivation based upon theories of equality. One becomes Un-PC. It's not that noisy bar you are against, it's the person running it that you are against. (This attack was used against activists/residents recently in the case of Besito at 357 West Broadway and Lola on Watts Street).
Criticism leveled against those who speak their mind based upon Sexual-orientation is so basically over as a serious issue Downtown (many Downtown politicians are openly Gay) that it hardly qualifies as a source of legitimate discrimination complaints any more. They persist, but only half-heartedly.
But gender, ethnicity, religion, race, age, nationality, or even hair color -- is currently being rummaged up out of the grab bag of complaints, however, in an effort to discredit Community activists and deflect them from the truth about what is said. This has become the new Nightlife policy and agenda and it has infected Community Board #2. Be aware of this last chance, last round-up type of attempt to discredit your voice.
Don't buy it and don't back off from a thinly disguised attempt to extort political advantage from this vengeful anger at not having complete control over your actions or words. Silence is not golden.

Councilmember Alan Gerson has reached out to us and asked that we make Downtown aware of his artistic commitment to the rebuilding effort at the World Trade Center site. Partly in response to an op-ed piece appearing in the Daily News seeking to argue for removal of the cultural prong to the World Trade Center site planning, his office has prepared a Cultural Imperative which can be found on the SoHo Journal website. It states the case that not only a Memorial and commercial development should proceed, but that a cultural component is vital to the regeneration of the Downtown Community. It is certainly essential to move forward on the Artistic element that Alan has championed so forcefully. Be sure to review it and contact his office to support him by contacting Paul Nagle, his influential aide in these matters.(

Finally, contrary to reports in The Villager, there are a number of candidates being considered for appointment to the Hudson River Park Trust that were not discussed several weeks ago in one of their articles. While Arthur Schwartz, attorney and Chair of the Community Board #2 Parks and Waterfront Committee, was mentioned as a candidate for this position which is appointed by the Borough President -- Scott Stringer's office seemed to be unaware of the fact that he was being considered.
In fact, we have learned that a number of key political insiders believe that Julie Nadel is front and center for reappointment and are hoping that one of the two additional slots may go to attorney/activist Larry Goldberg. The other may go to a yet undisclosed candidate. Madelaine Wils doe not appear to be up for reappointment.
Goldberg, of course, has experience as the Chair of the HRPT Advisory, is a member of Community Board #2, and is a driving force behind the Friends of LaGuardia. He is very knowledgeable regarding waterfront issues and has a good relationship with the Trust Board and executives. He's also a terrific lawyer and has helped SoHo regain some of the Bob Bolles sculpture due to his influential relationships with City agencies. We hope Larry gets the nod.

For those of you who follow the development of the Hudson River Park, you will be happy to know that the AIDS Monument committee has finally completed its design. Any of you who are interested in their work for a permanent symbol of those who died from that disease, you can contact them at:

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

SoHo Perspectives

The air is thick with intrigue in SoHo politics. As former Borough President Virginia Fields' legacy is evaluated, the vote is still out who or what will be left standing on the Community Board battleground. What is clear is that the damage done by the Nightlife crew in supporting Maria Derr as Chair of the Board, utilizing the skills and power wielded by Fields in ensuring her election, will be felt for some time to come.

Aside from marginalizing SoHo as a financial, social and political entity among the mostly Greenwich Village members on the Board (90%), the more concerning split is between Nightlife Business members and The Community -- and, which is, or should be, more empowered. Right now, with the support of Chamber of Commerce members and Bar/Restaurant owners calling all of the shots, residents of the Board #2's communities take a back seat in quality of life issues. So, it's booze first and Quality of Life last.

Former members of the Board like Honi Klein and Anne Arlen, controversial people in their own right -- as well as Greenwich Village residents, were emphatically concerned with the Community FIRST. Klein, in fact, is the Executive Director of the Village Alliance, which is not exactly anti-Business. But, she has her priorities straight. People like Klein and Arlen are off the Board because they were controversial and outspoken and belong back on. Ditto for former activist members like Tobi Bergman and Jo Hamilton whose appointments were blocked by Fields in her all out effort to help elect Derr as Chair of Community Board #2.

A recent example of this Nightlife v. Community conflict has been the recent Lola application. As we have reported previously, this was a controversial liquor license. With all of the twists and turns, the bottom line is that the community (SoHo in this case) had to lay out a tremendous amount of money and put great physical effort into thwarting what was going to be the next best thing to a nightclub -- a restaurant/bar/cabaret. Residents were offered fixed-pane windows to shield their coop bedrooms from the noise of an outside bar which would have been open until 4 a.m. Every trick in the book was used to push this through -- including gratuitous claims of discrimination -- which has become a favorite tool of the nightlife crowd when it is clear that the Community is against it. Roscio Sanz, a wealthy Latino member of Community Board #2, with several bars under her and her family's belt, has used that same card numerous times to help push through Besito Restaurant in SoHo. A more Progressive community would be hard to find, but if all else fails, Discrimination accusations is a fall-back ploy that has worked.

While the Community Board did deny Lola a liquor license, it took a great deal of effort to overcome the wishes of those Nightlife members on the Board who now control it.

Many are hopeful that Scott Stringer, the new Borough President, will do what is necessary to reconfigure Community Board #2 so that it is truly representative of the Community and will hopefully bring back some of the members that need, not just deserve, to be back on Board #2.

So far, Stringer has enunciated the correct position: That everyone will be considered and re-considered and will be properly evaluated. He is mindful of the fact, as well as appearance, of Conflict of Interest.

While we like Melinda Katz who has been a friend of SoHo and hope that she takes a strong position in the new City Council, we wish Christine Quinn best wishes in ascending to her new role as Speaker. She is a strong personality and knows Downtown issues. Her long time alliance with Senator Tom Duane and her familiarity with our problems -- pollution due to the Verrazano Bridge toll reversal, unpatrolled traffic crosswalks, illegal billboards, oversaturation of liquor licenses -- just to name a few -- is a good basis for knowing the job that faces her. Her tough attitude could be a plus for SoHo, Hudson Square and Downtown in general in getting a better deal in this City, if she wishes to help us. By the big hug she gave David Gruber of the Carmine Street Neighborhood Association, it appears that the Village will do well during her tenure. Perhaps she will help David and his people get the signage removed at Abatino Pizza which is driving the natives crazy. They should live in SoHo if signs make them nuts -- our area is festooned with illegal and just plain obnoxious billboards 30 or 40 feet high, lit up 24 hours a day and shining into people's apartments -- courtesy of VanWagner Communications or ClearChannel. No City official seems to have had the ability or will to do anything about it. Now those video screens are popping up on our subway entrances as well. Does the name Bloomberg sound familiar with regard to media?

That the Mayor has not shown any interest in SoHo and the proliferation of illegal billboards and repeated invasions of film crews on our streets in what is supposed to be a "Hot Zone" demeans the quality of life of our residents. His Commissioner of Buildings, Lancaster, has all but cut off any discourse with the community and no action has been taken against these offensive eyesores. Not one sign has come down in SoHo, despite the years of complaints and press coverage. The owner of 366 West Broadway/505 Broome Street complained one day that if he gave up the $15,000 monthly lease for each of two signs, he would have trouble paying for his child's schooling. So, fuck the community.

Let's hope Chris Quinn remembers the community.

Keep your eyes on the support of Assembly Member Deborah Glick for re-election. Tougher than Christine Quinn when she disagrees with you, she is clearly a Community supporter. In fact, she has been criticized by the Nightlife people for being anti-bar (which she is not). The bottom line is that she is not afraid to take on monied interests in supporting the residents rather than large contribution organizations. She is independent and tough. To contact "Friends of Deborah Glick" regarding contributions to her campaign, call 212-684-3191.

The powerful Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation has finally weighed in on SoHo developments -- and this is an important development for those who are wary of multi-level condominium projects that threaten to destroy the character of our community. Andrew Berman, one Downtown's political assets, appeared recently at a demonstration to emphasize the importance of protecting our historical architectural heritage. As he "manned the barricades" at the Tunnel Garage on Thompson and Broome Street with other demonstrators carrying placards, he gave new life and meaning to efforts by activists in the SoHo community. We hope this is a portent of new activism to come.

Finally, Carlos Manzano, president of the McManus Midtown Democratic Club and former candidate for Borough President advises us that he is gearing up for his next political move and has moved his constituent office to 321 West 44th Street (2nd floor). During the period in which he assess his next candidacy for office, he let us know that he has taken on some additional assignments. He is now member of the Board of Directors of En Foco, a non-profit organization dedicated to photography representative of African, Asian, Latino, and Native American artist. The website is He also informed us that he is now associated with ARDOR Realty, a company that handles rental, co-op and condo sales, and commercial leasing. So that if any of you want any help with your real estate needs, Carlos would be delighted to help you find what you need. His e-mail address at the company is, or by phone, at (917)751-0186.