SILVER HAS HUD CHIEF’S EAR: It’s clear that New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Sandy are starting to become a little impatient — rightfully so — with the fact that President Obama’s $60 billion federal relief package is still stalled in Congress. But one thing seems to be equally clear: When that money does come, it will include the grants that so many small businesses in Lower Manhattan have been calling for in the storm’s aftermath. We spoke to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last Thursday, who told us that he’d recently been on the phone with Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development — who was chosen by Obama to oversee the Sandy relief effort — and Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security. Silver said that he’d urged both officials to make sure that a portion of the federal package is devoted to small business grants, since many impacted business owners simply need more than loans in order to fully recover. Both Donovan and Napolitano were sympathetic to those concerns, Silver added, and Donovan explicitly told him grants will be included in the relief package — though declining to specify how much. The HUD honcho was probably already considering the grant money, but it seems like Silver’s call may have sealed the deal. Which makes sense, since the two powerhouses often worked side by side on legislation back when Donovan led the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The speaker even gave us a little more insight on just how tight the two are, saying that Donovan called him up immediately after Obama put him in charge of Sandy relief. “He told me that I could give him a call whenever I have suggestions or need something [related to hurricane recovery], so I did.” Silver said, adding, “I’ve known Shaun a long time, and we’re good friends.”
STRINGER CLEARS THE FIELD: If any upcoming race can be considered “a lock,” it’s the one for city comptroller. “As soon as Scott Stringer entered the race, it was over,” said Arthur Schwartz, Village Democratic state committeeman. “Garodnick had raised a million dollars, and Scott had three million. The handwriting was on the wall.” Both City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Domenic Recchia have dropped out of the running and endorsed the Manhattan borough president. Garodnick is reportedly running for re-election and Recchia may be considering a run for Brooklyn borough president.
DAP BACK OPEN? OH, SURE…: We hear from Rich Caccappolo, Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee co-chairperson, that the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, at Seventh Ave. South and Clarkson St., will soon reopen, after having been knocked out of commission by Sandy. The boiler issue has been addressed and other repair and improvement projects in the building that were started during the downtime since the storm are being completed. The Parks Department Web page says the center should open its doors again by this Fri., Dec. 21. As the late Tony Dapolito, “Mr. Parks,” would say, “Oh, sure.”
Photo by Scoopy Jr.
LEFTY FORUM SURVIVED THE STORM: We were digging some free jazz at The Brecht Forum, at West and Bank Sts., on Saturday night. There, we found renowned performer and educator Bill Cole — pictured above, playing a Chinese suona — who was jamming alongside bassist Shayna Dulberger and saxophonist/flautist Ras Moshe, who’s been a friend of ours ever since we first saw him improvising with serious soul at the University of the Streets, over in the East Village. The Brecht Forum is a part of Westbeth, the artists’ housing complex whose residents faced some serious problems because of Superstorm Sandy, which flooded their basement and left them without power, water or elevator service for more than a week. Many pieces of residents’ artwork that had been stored in Westbeth’s basement were damaged beyond repair, but at least we’re glad to see the Forum made it through all right.
JASA VANISHING ACT: We ran an article last week in The Villager about the senior housing at 200 E. Fifth St., which is owned and run by the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA). Even though the building is for independent living — not a nursing home or assisted-living facility — numerous residents felt that JASA and their building management had not prepared for or responded adequately to Sandy. Fast-forward to this week, and we get an e-mail from Lyn Lovinger, a resident of the place, who said she believes that management confiscated and threw out copies of The Villager that were in the building’s lobby, which gets a delivery of 50 of our newspapers each week. We checked in with other residents, and while no one was able to say for sure what happened, they also suspected that management may have tossed out the papers that included JASA’s not-so-good press. A JASA spokesperson said she and other sources at the organization didn’t know anything about the situation. Interesting… .
OH, NO! VEGAN OUT! Sadly, even Lucky Ant couldn’t help Whole Earth Bakery from succumbing to its new exorbitant rent at its longtime location at 130 St. Mark’s Place near Avenue A. The vegan mecca is set to close its doors imminently. However, Whole Earth super-fan Clarinda Kovar called us and left a voice message — she actually started crying at one point during the message — to tell us that there is hope for Whole Earth, and that they’re hoping to find a new location. In the meantime, she urged folks to stop in and wish proprietor Peter Silvestri well, and buy some healthy holiday goodies for the last time in the cherished old location, where Peter and his mom opened shop in the midst of the ongoing Tompkins Square riots in 1991. Kovar tells us Peter is looking at possibly baking at a commercial kitchen or sharing a pre-existing baking space during the transitional period, with the possibility of a relocated Whole Earth in the future. People can donate toward Whole Earth’s survival via Paypal at email@example.com, or by check made out to Peter Silvestri, and mailed to the office at 413 W. 47th St. #1A. Or contact Donna to discuss investing/partnering/donating/working with Whole Earth Bakery. Contact Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org and CC to email@example.com. Silvestri will be baking holiday cakes, pies and goodies at the St. Mark’s address through Sun., Dec. 23, and will be open for pickup on Mon., Dec. 24.