Thursday, April 19, 2007


Several issues have been bubbling up to the surface in SoHo, as it has in America. Within the last few weeks Don Imus and his stupid "nappy-headed ho's" remark killed his career on CBS radio - causing Lenny Bruce to roll over in his grave and giving not just a few rappers reason to look over their shoulders -- to see whether Reverend Al was headed their way. Freedom of Speech is a delicate subject these days.

It was also the week after the Virginia Tech killing spree and the two-hour delay. Maybe gun control will now have new life. The shooter walked into a gun shop and walked out with a Glock in Virginia. Here's someone with a history of mental illness that a teacher begged the administration to remove from her class due to anger issues.

It was also a week that finally brought the Attorney General problem to a head -- as Gonzalez hopes to save his job for firing some prosecutors. The interesting thing about the whole firing of the U.S. Attorneys is that there is a general sense of shock and awe that such an office could be so politicized.

So, it would be shocking to think that prosecutors are not above the political fray and pick cases and individuals to target because of pressure from those who want favors - or that prosecutors are not highly moral people who move directly from the seminary to a position of practically unchallenged power? Why is it that people do not understand that prosecutors like former Suffolk County D.A. Catterson, for example, was so corrupt a power hungry politician that even the Republicans (his own party) had to get rid of him? Between the car leasing scandal that left one informer murdered and his son "Kitty-cat" tainted - now a judge in the Appellate Term of the First Department with a history (Pataki's reward for being loyal and his father not using his little black book) that actually makes Tom Spota look good. But Catterson never had a problem for all of his nasty prosecutorial vendettas and even forced his former buddy, the Sheriff to resign. The U.S. Attorney investigated but Catterson was never removed or sanctioned.

Prosecutors are political and able to exercise vendettas with nearly total immunity? Couldn't happen.

Meanwhile, back in SoHo, we expect the Trump situation to heat up again very soon. Rumors have it that the Building Department will soon issue a permit to Trump SoHo, exactly as the Bovis team explained to the Community Board Zoning Committee a few months back. It appears that counsel for the City is hard pressed to block the eye of the needle that The Donald has wended his way through with the Condo/Hotel ploy. The problem, of course, is a lack of definitiveness in the zoning laws in Hudson Square.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been seeking responses from activists and, it appears at this point that the betting is on a restrictive use agreement (declaration) to ensure that Trump SoHo will be primarily a transient hotel with strict control on extended stays so that it does not become a residence in disguise. Whether this dog and pony show will limit the use of what was clearly intended to be a residential condo building with 45 stories, as opposed to a hotel or a condo building with maybe 15 stories (with community approval required), remains to be seen. Almost no one is fooled by the cute move allowing a 45 story buid to be be built downtown.

The question is, will lawsuits follow. And, will this development spawn an all-out effort on the part of City Planning to redefine Hudson Square as a location where contextual zoning is the guiding principal. Or, is this just the parting shot of the Gold Rush for developers in Hudson Square and western SoHo.

Quinn appears to have become more concerned with Hudson Square. But, has City Planning?

Has the Department of Buildings begun to take its mission more seriously - in that it has become the endgame of City Planning Policy. To issue the permit, or not to issue the permit?

Of course, all are painfully aware that this 45-story behemoth should not be built. The game will play on.

It's Nominating Committee time at Community Board #2 again, folks.

The reign of Maria Derr is about to come to a close and all bets are on a curriculum vitea preparing for an Assembly run. The rumors and the p.r. machine, including the poisonous pen of infamous Alan Roskoff have been at work for several years attempting to clear a path for a challenge to Deborah Glick for her Assembly seat. This is the very seat that Derr's uncle Bill Passanante held, who left office rather than challange Glick. Having completed her two years at CB2, Derr can now move on to bigger and better Elysian Fields.

Brad Hoylman is the likely canddidate for Chair but the lesser posts are still up for grabs. These positions are usually a good predictor of who is hoping to fill the top slot in a couple of years. Keep your eyes on David Gruber, Jo Hamilton, Bo Riccobono and a few others who have not yet announced. Then, of course, there are the last minute nominations from the floor of the Full Board. This is where it could get interesting.
While the peculiarities of the balloting for those to be chosen for the Nominating Committee are unremarkable, it tells us two things.
First, the counting of the ballots for those who ARE on the nominating committee tells us who is NOT running. (You cannot be on the Nominating committee and run for office.) Second, it also tells us that there is a holdover group of indiviuals who
may still want to continue the power clique that controlled the former Board. This much is clear from the voting patterns for the Nominating Committee which is public information.

While Board reform has largely been accomplished, it is not yet a fait accompli on Community Board #2.