Monday, June 02, 2008


Never believe anything until it has been officially denied
--Claud Cockburn

Last week at Downtown Independent Democrats, the new guy on the block became a contender for the Senate seat currently held by Martin Connor.
In a close race, by a margin of five votes, a former staffer for Chuck Schumer, Daniel Squadron, succeeded in gaining the endorsement from a club that is itself in flux. Connor had been endorsed by this club for many prior years, including during his last run against Ken Diamondstone.
Several of those who were asked their opinion as to why Squadron’s challenge appears to be gaining momentum had less to do with Connor and his nearly 40 years in office and more to do with campaigning style. His eagerness in seeking out community activists seems to have helped Squadron learn about what the current frustrations are and gain support. The connection to Schumer is a double-edged sword since some are not enamored with his former boss and Squadron does not seem to want to be elected based upon that association.

The D.I.D. saga continues with the two slates about to bring the attempted coup by the Julie Menin contingent – among those including Ian Dutton and David Reck of Community Board #2 – to the floor for a vote this Wednesday (June 4th). While Sean Sweeney faces Dutton for the Presidency, additional new candidates including Marc Ameruso for Vice President and Julie Nadel for Treasurer are supporting the Sweeney slate. Change is in the air, regardless of who wins the election.
The heat will rise as it always does and depending upon the results old wounds will heal or new heels will be wounded. Aside from the bad pun, the dubiousness of Club politics will either result in a broader platform under Menin’s run for City Council or set the stage for a change in the future make-up of D.I.D.

The most recent crane collapse, with a crash that actually was heard by residents downtown – loudly – is not unexpected by those who have been criticizing the Department of Buildings and the Mayor for years.
What no one seems to want to simply say is that the Department of Buildings is a corrupt city agency. It is not simply incompetence.
Not only do we have regulations for billboards and no enforcement to remove illegal signs; not only are tenants all too familiar with being ignored when making complaints over construction without permits; and, not only have D.O.B. inspectors been observed reviewing serious building violations in apartment dwellings with no effect – but, construction sites have been notoriously unsafe in several downtown communities.

The Mayor has completely ignored complaints about the Film Office and how communities have been turned into back lots. He has ignored the proliferation of illegal billboards. And, he has ignored the damage that residents have had to experience through the out of control development which seeks to morph Downtown into the vision that the “Boys from Harvard” have for SoHo and The Village. A more disconnected politician with great PR and lots of money is difficult to find.
"Self-certification,” has been the ticket for this abused process which allows architects and other company employees who are applying for permits, to fast-track their applications through the City bureaucracy. That particular idea started with Giuliani, however. And, is continued by the current Republican in sheeps clothing.

The results: huge, illegal billboards, unsafe buildings, and rampant landlord abuse. Lots of media including in taxis & video billboards - can you say Bloomberg?

When the Mayor said the situation was “unacceptable,” the response by downtown residents has been – “Are you kidding?”
How many construction workers have to die, how many billboards have to be plastered over Downtown, how many film shoots that disrupt our lives have to be permitted, and how many “Inspectors” have to slap the backs of landlords before he sees the real problem – or, having known about it for a long time – will he do anything about it? Don't hold your breath.

The current field of candidates running for Quinn’s seat in the “09 City Council is becoming almost as interesting as the Menin/Gleason/Freed? run when Gerson bites the dust.
Berman is well respected as Director of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation, Hoylman is Chair of Community Board #2 and Vice President of the Partnership for New York, and Derr is heir to the Passanante name and a stint as Chair of Community Board #2. Brian Ellner has also been mentioned.
No one is giving odds yet but they’re making the rounds.
Not only have they been attending the right fundraisers and parties (checks in hand) but they have also been seeking endorsements.

One major political power, Jim McManus of the Midtown Democratic Club, whose district encompasses Quinn’s Council seat, has already been contacted by both Hoylman and Derr – Berman, apparently, has yet to call.
Among the theories being bandied about by local political junkies is that Hoylman and Berman eat up each other’s constituencies and Derr takes the seat by default.
So much for theories.
Jim McManus and that club’s President, Carlos Manzano, who is a major Bloomberg EDC Executive in Latin Media, are both playing their cards close to the vest on any endorsement which would carry a great deal of weight in this election.
Since McManus owns a funeral home, there’s apparently a limit on what one can offer him in terms of new business incentives.

Note: Be sure to visit to view the police sketch of the SoHo rapist – and keep your eyes peeled for the perpetrator. And, a thanks to the prompt, late-night notification by Grey Elam of the Speaker’s Office in getting this information out quickly to the community.

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