The 411 from the Feline

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Julie Menin and Robert De Niro at Menin’s recent Soho fundraiser at Henry Buhl’s home.


Menin starts out strong:
Downtown leader Julie Menin is bursting out of the gate with an impressive showing in fundraising for her 2013 election campaign. The Community Board 1 chairperson — who is listed as “undeclared” on the Campaign Finance Board’s financial summary page (meaning she hasn’t said yet what office she’s running for) — has already raised about $480,000 in private contributions. Menin reportedly hopes to run for Manhattan borough president, but — like others who covet the seat — is waiting to see what Scott Stringer does. Stringer can still serve another term as B.P. if he wants to, but could instead declare his candidacy either for mayor or city comptroller. Other rumored hopefuls for Stringer’s seat are Manhattan City Councilmembers Jessica Lappin and Robert Jackson. Lappin has raised slightly less than Menin, about $400,000, while Jackson has only raised $10,000. Among other “undeclared” candidates, Yetta Kurland, expected to run for Christine Quinn’s District 3 Council seat, has raised $20,000; Councilmember Dan Garodnick, said to be eyeing the comptroller’s office, has raised a whopping $1 million; and Stringer has raised $2.3 million. Among other expected mayoral candidates, though still listed under “undeclared,” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu have each raised $2 million; Tom Allon has raised $123,000; and Quinn, leading the pack, has raised more than $5 million. Showing what a formidable candidate he would have been, fallen Congressmember Anthony Weiner, still listed as running for mayor, has $5 million collected (though, as far as we know, no one is talking about him making a comeback, at least not yet). Also listed under the candidates for mayor, former Comptroller Bill Thompson has raised about $1 million. Last Friday was a deadline for filing with the Campaign Finance Board, and Menin told us she wanted to show “strength” in the amount of her contributions during this period. To that end, she recently held a number of well-attended fundraisers, including a pair in Soho. The first was at the Greene St. loft of Sean Sweeney, a longtime power in Downtown Independent Democrats, co-hosted by Sweeney and David Gruber, a fellow Community Board 2 member. The event drew all four of D.I.D.’s district leaders, John Scott, Jean Grillo, Jenifer Rajkumar and Paul Newell, which Grillo noted, was significant, though the club has not yet endorsed Menin for any office. Looking around at the crowd, Scott noted, “There are so many community activists in this room.” Others included Tobi Berman and Rich Caccappolo, both of C.B. 2, and Jack Brown of the Coalition Against Rogue Riding. (We didn’t ask Menin her position on bike lanes.) Also making the scene was Dodge Landesman, who is planning a run against Arthur Schwartz for state committeeman. In her speech at Sweeney’s place, Menin, who has chaired C.B. 1 for the past half-dozen years, touted her accomplishments and her efforts in helping the post-9/11 rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, which has seen an influx of 30,000 new residents. At C.B. 1, she and her board members have played a leading role in debates on national issues, such as the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Menin personally raised the alarm about holding terror trials in Lower Manhattan, saying it would cause traffic and security nightmares for the still-recovering neighborhood. C.B. 1 also voted 33 to 1 in support of Occupy Wall Street’s use of Zuccotti Park, while at the same time working to curb the drum circles that were driving neighbors nuts. “We said we can stand up for the right to protest and also reduce the 24-hour drumming — we reached an agreement of four hours a day,” she said. On a personal note, Menin revealed her mother was a Holocaust survivor. Following the Sweeney-Gruber “community activist” confab, the next week the Soho Partnership’s Henry Buhl, actor Robert De Niroand other high-powered types held a fundraiser for Menin at Buhl’s Soho home, further filling Menin’s campaign coffers.

Rosie is running:
Not only can Scott Stringer run for a third term, if he so chooses, but so can Rosie Mendez — and she plans to. Because Stringer and Mendez were in office at the time that Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn pushed through the term-limits extension, they can opt for a third term. New York City voters subsequently repudiated the three-term modification at the polls, rolling it back to two terms, but it’s still in effect for those who were in office in 2008. Back then, prior to the vote on the City Council floor to extend term limits, Mendez had risen from her seat to give one of the most impassioned and righteous speeches against bypassing the voters to extend term limits legislatively. Quinn, speaking in favor of the extension, had noted that all the leading New York daily newspapers had backed it. But Mendez, in turn, defiantly rose to state that her own community newspaper, The Villager, strongly opposed extending term limits without the voters having their say on the issue, and that many of her constituents opposed it, too. This week, we asked Mendez if she plans to try for a third term in 2013 since, again, she does have the legal right to do so. “I plan to seek re-election,” Mendez told us. Explaining her decision, she said, “I made a principled stand against the process. I always have favored eliminating term limits except for the mayor and Council speaker because those are positions of power. The process was sidestepped — we sidestepped the voters by just bringing it to the Legislature [the City Council] and bringing it to a vote. It could have been brought to the voters as an issue to vote on at the voting booth. There was still time, but it would have been a lot of work — but it should have been done.”

 Poetic birthday:
Our friend the poet Sarah Zenis, who presides at the Greenwich House Poetry Project every other Tuesday, celebrated her 97th birthday on Tues., Jan. 10, at the settlement house on Barrow St. “I was born in Lynn, Mass., in 1915. Woodrow Wilson was president at the time — how about that!” she told Scoopy. Sarah said she remembered the boys going off — or coming back — from World War I when she was a child. “My father was a refugee from Russia and my mother was a refugee from Poland and they met in Lynn when a cousin introduced them,” Sarah said. She began writing poetry in high school, Lynn English High School. “I used to go to the library to read poetry in a special little room. A lot of poets came from New England. I loved Longfellow and Elizabeth Barrett Browning,” she said. Sarah came to New York around 1960. “I became associated with a prominent importer of textiles from China,” she recalled. Her boss valued her contribution so much that he took her on a trip through Asia — Tokyo, Taiwan, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong, circa 1969. “It was when ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ was a big new hit. When was that? I remember they sang it to us in Taiwan, ‘Wain Dwops Keep Falling on My Head.’” In addition to her poetry event at Greenwich House on alternate Tuesdays, Sarah spends an occasional Friday evening at the historic Lambs Club in Midtown where she is a longtime member. “I feel like I’m 27 going on 37,” she told Scoopy.

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