The 411 from the Feline

Smokin’ report: Giving us the inside dope on the New York City edition of the Worldwide Marijuana March on May 5, Paul DeRienzo says, “It’s been interesting” trying to get the event squared away with the police. The event will originate, naturally, at “high noon” at Washington Square Park and march to Union Square for a rally with music and speakers until 6 p.m., DeRienzo reports. “The cops having been jerking the organizers on the route, but I think it’ll be either up University Place or Sixth Ave.,” he said. Occupy Wall Street is involved with the cannabis confab this year, in part, because the Yippie Cafe at 9 Bleecker St. — the New York marijuana march’s traditional H.Q. — “has become a major activist hangout,” according to DeRienzo. “They had a favorable decision in Housing Court and 9 Bleecker will probably not have to face any potential adverse real estate situations for at least a couple of years,” he said of the perennially embattled building. “The cops did express some concern about O.W.S. participation at this year’s rally,” he noted. “But a commander then admitted both the pot parade and O.W.S. are ‘largely nonviolent’ during a meeting I sat in at last month.”

[media-credit name="Photo by Jefferson Siegel " align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]
The “Yippie Pie Man,” Aron Kay, and his daughter, Rachel Kay-Platoni, at the Yippie Cafe.

Vegan out: Speaking of the Yippie Cafe, we briefly popped in there a couple of weeks ago for the 30th birthday party of Aron Kay’s daughter, Rachel Kay-Platoni. Like her dad, the “Yippie Pie Man,” food for Rachel is connected to a cause — but in this case it’s not pieing “Repukelicans” in the face, but championing veganism. Anyway, so it was a fun party and we were enjoying the bands. Then, after we’d been hanging out there a little while, it suddenly struck us: 9 Bleecker St. no longer smelled like cat funk! Somehow this seemed incredibly significant to us at the time, though maybe it was just the generic “flavored vodka.” As a glam band was blaring a cover of “I Love Rock and Roll,” Robert Gill the bartender/soundman, filled us in. “It took a month of constant scrubbing and mopping to get rid of the cat scent — but it worked,” he said. There used to be 10 fairly feral cats, but they “gave away a lot,” he said, adding a few of the critters are still upstairs. When concerned cat lover Dottie Wilsonreads this we’re sure she will laugh/shout with joy/relief since she likes to use slashes in her writing because she is brimming with double the normal amount of emotion/passion! Seriously, though, the Yippie Cafe is really a nice, cozy venue for a party now.

‘Signed, “Epstein’s mother”: As we noted three weeks ago, Soho activist Sean Sweeney publicly bristled at not being reappointed to Community Board 2 by Councilmember Margaret Chin. What’s really irking him, though, is her justification — that his attendance at board meetings was allegedly lacking. Sweeney is denying it, and said Bob Gormley, the board’s district manager, can vouch that his attendance has been around 75 percent, which is considered pretty good. But Chin’s office maintains that during a six-month period from July to December of last year, Sweeney’s attendance rate for 25 possible meetings was 52 percent -— the worst among C.B. 2. members. “His attendance was better than that,” Gormley maintained. However, Chin was using data supplied by Borough President Scott Stringer’s Office. The data examined Sweeney’s attendance for full board meetings, as well as meetings of C.B. 2’s Landmarks Committee — which he chairs — its Land Use and Business Development Committee and its Executive Committee. Basically, Sweeney was marked “excused” from a bunch of meetings and “absent” once. But the issue seems to be whether the excusals should, in fact, technically be counted as absences. Apparently, Chin — a former teacher — goes strictly by the book on this: C.B. 2’s stated bylaws say absences from board meetings may only be granted for illness, deaths in the family or military service. (If you’re starting to feel like “excusing” yourself from this item, we can understand.) Anyway, Sweeney readily admits he was on vacation in July, which affected his attendance. “I stand by my record — 20 years,” he said, referring to his board tenure. “Let’s go back 20 years and not by a narrow, six-month time frame. Do you want me to lie and say I’m sick? I didn’t take a vacation from 1998 until 2010 — my mother was sick. Am I not entitled after 12 years of taking care of a sick mother to take two or three vacations a year? I think ‘good cause’ is when you’re 2,500 miles away — I was in Arizona, I wasn’t sitting home watching the Mets.” Brad Hoylman, C.B. 2 chairperson, said the board doesn’t “micromanage” how committee chairpersons handle attendance. “It defies logic to say Sean Sweeney is a no-show member,” Hoylman told us. “He’s one of the most vocal and active members on the community board. Nobody from Councilmember Chin’s office contacted me about this.” Hoylman said if Chin’s office has issues with a board member’s attendance or C.B. 2’s attendance policy, he’d be very happy to discuss it with them. Sweeney says his attendance has nothing to do with Chin’s not reappointing him. (He’s still on the board since he was “picked up” by Borough President Stringer, who reappointed him after Chin passed on him.) “Attendance is a red herring,” Sweeney charged. “Ask her if my opposition to the Soho BID — which I think she supports, but she won’t say — was the reason.” However, Kelly Magee, Chin’s spokesperson, said, “The councilmember stands by the criteria she uses in making her recommendations [for board appointments] to the borough president. It is the responsibility of community board members to attend full board and committee meetings so that there is the necessary quorum to pass resolutions.” For his part, Sweeney said Chin ought to attend more C.B. 2 meetings herself — like her predecessor Kathryn Freed (who Sweeney coincidentally used to date) used to do. Magee replied that Chin has plenty on her own plate with attending Council meetings, noting, “As a member of the City Council, it is Margaret’s responsibility to attend the monthly hearings of the seven committees she sits on, as well as the meetings of three caucuses and two stated Council meetings every month. The councilmember has one of the strongest attendance records in the City Council.” In fact, Chin attends nearly 99 percent of her Council meetings, according to Magee. No wonder she’s such a stickler for attendance! “The councilmember’s staff is present at every community board full board and many of the committee meetings,” the spokesperson added. “The councilmember attends community board meetings when there is a major issue at hand, such as the N.Y.U. town hall, but we also respect the role and independence of the community board.” For the record, Magee said, no hearing date has been set for the contentious Broadway Soho Business Improvement District proposal. That’s one hearing we’re sure everyone will attend. Class dismissed!

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