Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Political Scene

Too bad the only people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair.

-- George Burns (1896 - 1996)

The political future of Alan Gerson, Council Member for the SoHo area seems to be a question mark that may be answered by the contenders for his seat. Julie Menin, former Republican and current Community Board #1 Chair, Pete Gleason, attorney and former fireman, Margaret Chin, housing activist and Chinatown luminary are the major current challengers.
Gerson has been criticized for ignoring SoHo, while wasting at least 5 years on a vendor law and ignoring the billboard issue, barely recognizing the pollution and traffic problems and, most recently, pandering to the Bloomberg term-limits fiasco. He has also been silent on the butchering of SoHo streets pandered to by Community Board #2 and Transportation Alternatives -- through Bloomberg’s D.O.T. Commissioner Sadik-Kahn.

Billboard Behind Trump SoHo

Menin claims to not be running, although Jewish females have a high rate of voter turnout and success at the polls downtown. Her cunning and notoriety is due in part to lots of cash and a coterie of real estate professionals and dealmakers who benefit from her control of Board #1.
Gleason is running and takes every opportunity to point out that he is the only candidate that resembles Robin Hood, in a sea of people trying to buy political office downtown. His biggest support comes from Civil Service, Firemen and Police. Although, he has recently been soliciting the advice of activists. Persistence has paid off for many other underdogs.

Margaret Chin has yet to define her candidacy with respect to the other constituencies downtown, apart from Chinatown.

Many over recent years have coveted the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Clinton. Jerry Nadler is known to have wanted it – with Scott Stringer drooling over the opportunity to move up to Congress (Nadler is Stringer’s rabbi). With that unlikely scenario occurring, they’ll both stand pat – and term-limits has kept Stringer interested in remaining as Borough President. There are no challengers on the horizon just yet.

The Cuomo people have reportedly had dibs on the Senate seat even before the election. It remains to be seen whether the old boy (Cuomo senior) network and Cuomo family can press the right buttons. In fairness, however, while Andrew has not been described as warm and gregarious, his performance has been well received.

The Maloney people are waging a feverish campaign to make us all aware of her high-visibility and impeccable credentials – also a woman and an activist. This seems like a likely selection and is supported by savvy politicians like Adam Silvera of the D.I.D., a District Leader who seems to know where a lot of the bones are buried. Julie Nadel, a leading political activist downtown, has not yet made her opinion known.
Caroline Kennedy, the choice of many Democrats, is the darling of Obama's coterie and it will be interesting to see how Paterson plays this.

Nadel, incidentally, is being forced out of HRPT (Hudson River Park Trust) by Stringer for speaking out and it is one of those unseemly power plays directed against genuine progressives in politics. The HRPT is a closed club controlled by Bloomberg’s so-called girlfriend, Diana Taylor and it doesn’t play well with either transparency or criticism.

Eric Gioia & Julie Nadel

The Public Advocate race has had Eric Gioia of the City Council (Investigations Committee Chair) pushing hard – against at least Norman Siegel (Gottbaum is not running) – when out of nowhere Mark Green has reemerged. Green, supported in the past by some dubious characters like Allen Roskoff, who has now slipped quietly into Community Board #4 and is rumored to be working on Maria Derr’s campaign – where he ran her dirty tricks campaigns for her at Community Board #2. Green, as it has been reported, has the advantage of being well known – which is also his disadvantage.

Meanwhile, Maria Derr (former Board #2 Chair) has now adopted both the McManus Midtown Democratic Club and the welcoming arms of Jim McManus – and has emerged as a “progressive” Democrat according to the propaganda from her campaign. She had previously adopted V.R.D.C. when it suited her political needs, along with nightclub owner Bob Rinaolo. Apparently, after searching for the proper venue to assert herself and present her dubious bona fides – she has decided to challenge Christine Quinn for her City Council seat which is located in McManus’s turf. Quinn has been weakened by the Slushgate investigation and downtown residents, at least, have been critical of the D.S.N.Y garage, Trump SoHo and her support of Bloomberg’s term limits play.
Derr has joined with McManus and is attempting to associate her new “progressivism” with the Obama people in order to enlist more political juice. Clearly, the view of what is termed progressive has become a malleable concept.
Of course, claiming to benefit from supporting Obama in a completely Democratically controlled political town – is like asking a New York landlord for a thank you note for paying rent. It’s just a little too obvious.

None of the above politicians (with the exception of Margaret Chin) have yet to really have any affect on the housing crisis and landlord/developer abuse, affordable housing, elimination of illegal billboards, pollution and traffic problems in SoHo to make pedestrians safer; – and none have openly criticized wildcat City agencies like Department of Buildings or D.O.T. – which ride roughshod over our community. But, then, when have any of our politicians acted in our best interests once elected?

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