Sunday, September 23, 2007

This Week in SoHo

The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
--Oscar Levant

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.
--Ronald Reagan

The demonstration this week occurred as Ivanka and guests were filing into the new Trump SoHo building among jeers from residents who found the experience distasteful and maddening.

From across Spring Street, Sean Sweeney and members of the SoHo Alliance, supporters of Andrew Berman and the GVSHP, David Reck of the Friends of Hudson Square and even Tony Avella of the City Council - watched as the glitterati were ushered into the speedily constructed condo-hotel.

The police, commanded by Chief Paragallo and Officer Turco, aided by a suit from the Intelligence Unit who would not identify himself, were abrupt and threatening towards the demonstrators - who followed the law and moved away. The hundred or so residents with placards were there to emphasize the sell-out by the City in permitting an illegal building for "The Donald" who apparently allows his daughter to be used as bait for the selling of the condos. And, the police basically told the residents to move across Varick Street so as to be out of sight for the "opening" of the building to viewers. As if to replay the Republican Convention, anyone not moving back and forth like the clay ducks in the Coney Island shooting gallery or background walkers on a sidewalk movie set was threatened with arrest.

When asked questions, Chief Paragallo simply said, "I'm busy, get moving."

So much for Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Expression - or, dare we say, Freedom of the Press.

The Police were there - just as the City has been there - to support developers like Trump. The sell-out has been accomplished. And, to add insult to injury, Dan Doctoroff, Deputy Mayor, and the Robin to Batman Bloomberg - is rumored to be stepping down from his current post in order to run for Mayor.

Now, the question is this.

How does this affect the well-known intentions of Christine Quinn? She has been known to covet the position of heir-apparent to Bloomberg. And, we have all been groomed to accept the fact that Mr. Mike and she enjoy a very cozy relationship - even bordering on affection for each other.

Given the fact that Quinn has been saving her nickels and enjoying campaign contributions from developers (according to Crain's) in order to pursue these election plans - what does Doctoroff's plans do to this agenda?

One would suspect that Mr. Mike has more interest in Robin than Ms. Speaker.

Speaker Quinn is known as a politician who keeps a black book and does not like criticism but all politicians have the same blind eye when it comes to political aspirations. The more complex the political spin, the further from the truth the observer becomes.

When you shun the voters who rely upon your position in office, you run the real risk of being rejected.

It was no surprise then that the demonstrators were heard chanting, among other things, on Varick and Spring Streets, "Who's out, who's in, where the hell is Christine Quinn." - even though they were pushed a block away.

While Quinn may be no more responsible for the failure of the City and its agencies - in allowing big developers to destroy our urban landscape - it is still her district and the voters wanted to know why was she not on the picket lines with Toney Avella?

Community Board #2
entertained its audience this week as a liquor license bit the dust on the floor of the Full Board.

A good segment of Chinatown came out for a liquor license application that has seen more twists than the old Peppermint Lounge.

Forty Deuce
, was a bar/restaurant/burlesque application for Kenmare Street that Business Committee Chair Ray Lee allowed to slip through, despite the initial opposition from the community.

Hoylman had allowed Lee to remain Chair of this committee and has slowly allowed former members like Roscia Sanz return, to the annoyance of others on the newly configured Board.

Apparently, there are some, like former Board member and Business Committee Chair Bob Rinaolo, who never saw a bar that he didn't like. Or, at least those in SoHo and NoHo felt that this was the M.O. of that committee.

At this week's Full Board, not only did Rinaolo appear for a cameo performance - kissing and shaking the hands of his friends still on the Board - but also the voting was faintly familiar.

Almost in a block, those members who had been part of the Board #2 "self-interest" cabal - those who never saw a liquor license submitted by friends and Chamber of Commerce associates and cronies alike that they didn't like - seem to have returned.

Phil Mouquinho, who is now Vice Chair of Zoning, Roscio Sanz, former Youth Committee Chair Shirley Smith, Carol Yankay, former Chair of the Board Maria Derr, and Ray Lee - greeted Bob Rinaolo with smiles and salutes of comrades. Those new members on the Board who do not know their agenda and those on the Board who do remember the games and political treachery - must all understand that reform is a continuous process. This was a well-understood principle of the political game in Tammany Hall. It's still true today. Reform must be ongoing to be successful.

Meanwhile, in a telling performance -- it took a tremendous effort to block a bar on one NoHo street and Herculean effort to stop one bar on the periphery of Chinatown at Kenmare Street.

The community still must exert tremendous effort to protect itself from special interests, which never rest.

Mr. Hoylman still has a lot of work to do if he is to gain the respect of the community, not just the Community Board - and, as smart as he is, he must never underestimate the intelligence of the voters - not just the fundraisers.