As we anticipate those Dog Days of August, political junkies search for material in a summer that seems bereft of hot issues. Yet, there are a number of current, essentially New York, problems needing attention.
On the waterfront, the ILA (International Longshoremen Association) at Pier 92 fight for their lives amidst the onslaught from the Economic Development Corporation - with Kate Ascher out and Madelaine Wils in - which wants to support trade organizations instead of allowing passenger ships to arrive from abroad. In other words, the Princess Lines show Manhattan in their brochures as the point of arrival - when, in fact, they wind up in Red Hook where the City has decided to receive its international celebrities.
Can't you see it now? You're watching a news report of crowds awaiting a billion dollar Queen arriving in Manhattan but reality is that the Mayor diverts his limo to Brooklyn -- Red Hook no less -- to receive his visiting dignitaries. Of course, some go to New Jersey, where the EDC is trying to steer the ILA. They've spent millions in Red Hook but won't repair the peeling paint on Pier 92. Billy Cox, secretary of the ILA, thinks that the City is pushing them out so that the piers can be taken over for more trade shows.
The numbers show that passengers arriving spend upwards of $500,000 per day on their visits ashore and that local business suffers when ships are diverted. After all, what was the last Broadway show you attended in Red Hook; which used to be more famous for the "Canal" and some powerful odors, not to mention gang brawls?
There have been allegations that the trade shows and organizations who now employ Ascher, formerly Vice President of EDC, seem to be a little too cozy. EDC pushes the ILA out, the trade organizations pick up the piers. A little thought should fill in the blanks. Oh, did we say Doctoroff is on the Board as well. While the Longshoremen are hardly choirboys, it's ironic that Marlon Brando and a former union president, who was machine-gunned down, have been upstaged by politicians.
Brando and the union in "On the Waterfront" may have portrayed rubes by comparison the the trade show games now being played in trying to evict the union.
The current thinking about downtown politicians give us this scenario:
Borough President Scott Stringer, who has gotten high marks from Community Board members is clearly running. He is running in place and running for the future. His high energy translates into the realistic speculation that he makes a run for Public Advocate or Comptroller in '09 - for Bill Thompson's current job which is term-limited. While Stringer would undoubtedly win re-election, it is a dead end job for the next curtain. If he were to term limit out, there would be no slots with an upwardly mobile life in sight at the end of that run.
Thompson is widely expected to run for Mayor when Bloomberg is buying his way into a presidential race - which he is eyeing as a third party candidate. He is rumored to be cautiously studying Ross Perot's roadmap and subsequent faux pas.
While he could also make a detour towards Albany the year after, with all that money, he seems to be more interested in the gold ring. The Steeplechase Carousel in Coney Island always drew the biggest crowds.
Thompson has Weiner and Carrion to be concerned about - although some believe, (wishfully some say) that Quinn has a second-tier chance. Quinn has a following but has managed to alienate some Downtown voters who hoped for guidance and support on issues such as the Hudson Square re-zoning in her own Council seat area. Picking up Bloomberg's Staten Island supporters could be a pipe-dream.
While race and gender are never supposed to enter into politics, a New York Jew does not always play well for President in Peoria and Gay politics are not as popular in Queens as they may be in Manhattan. Spitzer bucked the trend when he managed to take Albany, but the heartland is more visceral than P.C. in the voting booths.
Melinda Katz, Queens Councilwoman, is also a popular candidate who is rumored to be angling for the Comptroller position and she is a strong and attractive candidate - politically and personally. The Hevesi furor was gone but has recently returned with what appears to be mostly prosecutorial heavy-handedness than an issue for the people. He was re-elected after all. Katz was irresponsibly associated with Hevesi simply because she was a friend. She is warm and personable and this was used against her.
She is a very successful fundraiser and has been a staunch supporter of SoHo when it came to land use.
Arthur Schwartz, the ultimate downtown political survivor has been "sharing" his Pier 40 statement with everyone. While the downtown electeds have demurred in signing on to the Advisory (HRPT) document that has been generated, he is still looking for a media outlet. Any day now a press conference should be held to discuss the findings and suggestions for the development of Pier 40. Any day, now.
Essentially, this compilation of Trust information, Board #1 resolutions, Little League suggestions and former Board #2 discussions - augmented by input by the electeds and the members of the Advisory - the document suggests how Pier 40 should be allowed to develop in great detail. In other words, the ball fields should be left alone, the parking should be left alone, and money should be generated by the Legislature or private funds to develop it in a community friendly way. That part we all got.
But it should be lost on any of us that the elected officials refused to sign on to it. Although, this may simply have been because they did not want to be responsible for having to come up with the money to support the new "plan."
After by-pass surgery, removal as District Leader by Duane and Quinn in favor of Brad Hoylman (current Chair of Board #2), and fired by Aubrey Lees from the Board #2 Waterfront Committee four years ago - he has risen from the ashes of defeat and has arrived as Waterfront Chair of Board #2, Chaired the HRPT Advisory, and become a State Committeeman. The press conference will be center stage with a spotlight. The question is, does it matter?
The Advisory of the HRPT has become a suspect entity - not because of its membership but because the Trust Board is led by a lame duck Chair (Trip Dorkey) while the real control is reportedly in the hands of Dan Doctoroff - Bloomberg's Robert Moses wannabee. Spitzer is too busy being a prosecutor and trying to bring down Bruno in Albany to appoint many of the positions needing leadership. Bruno, in a characteristic power play, pissed off at being the target of our prosecutor-Governor has been instrumental in holding up many of these appointments. So, the HRPT goes adrift and current history shows us that the real political and financial decisions are made behind closed doors while community people spend their time believing that their opinions will matter in all of this "decision-making."
There is speculation that the Trump SoHo project may run into trouble soon. Apparently, the I's and T's were not handled properly and some activists are saying that the project groundwork is not fully legal. You didn't hear that here.
Investigations are continuing downtown. There are several focusing on the waterfront.
Some are ongoing and making not a few people nervous.
The D.A.'s office refuses to comment but there are rumors that there may a few frowns out there that are not just the result of wedgies.
Oh, and just to keep it light. The Mayor of Quogue, George Motz, who was investigated by the S.E.C. for "ticket-switching" is currently dealing with a possible U.S. Attorney's office consideration of a criminal investigation.
It seems that Georgie, big with the Quoguedelytes where his wife Kitrick Motz is also the Judge (keeping it in the family) avoided being written about in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal as well as local papers for this cute little maneuver. The SoHo Journal, however, did cover the delectable matter a few months ago.
Finally, Brad Hoylman, the new Chair of Community Board #1 seems to have configured the new Board without alienating most of the members.
He has elevated several new members, such as Phil Mouquinho, who is now a committee Chair as well as a Vice Chair, he has allowed people like Ray Lee (a Rinaolo holdover) to remain Chair of Business, where years of community opposition to the self-serving Chamber of Commerce/Bar owner crowd saturated downtown with new bars and nightclubs. The committee, so far, seems to be balanced, however. A few of the Board's dowagers are also relegated to the background - something that no one has had the guts to do. Committees have been folded into others in a deft move that relegates problem members to a position of lesser importance with smaller mouthpieces.
Mouquinho may turn out not to be a die-hard Rinaolo holdover, although he was close to the bar owner cabal, but he clearly is also a community activist - putting his time in on the DSNY issue in Hudson Square and the redesign thrust headed by David Reck and the Friends of Hudson Square. Part of his ascendance is due to Hoylman's desire to have avoided competition for the race for Chair to which Mouquinho is known to be aspiring.
However, he has Jo Hamilton and a sleeper, David Gruber, to be concerned with over the next two years. After that, Hoylman exits and runs for City Council.
Considering the fact that Stringer may only be BP for another two and a half years, it will be interesting to see who's behind Curtain number three for those political slots on Board #2.
Meanwhile, the race is already shaping up for Alan Gerson's seat -- who is term-limited out in another two years. The names so far seem to be Julie Menin of Board #1, David McWaters of Board #3, Madelaine Wils (currently of EDC and former Chair of Board #1), and Pete Gleason, an activist-attorney.
That's not the end of the list but it is the end of this week's diatribe.
As Joe Kane, one of Joseph P. Kennedy's trusted sidekicks, once said: "There are no friends in politics, only co-conspirators."