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WILL GERSON RUN? Although devastated by the loss of his mom, Sophie, former City Councilmember Alan Gerson is deciding whether to dive back into politics. Over the past few years — after being unseated in his bid for a third term by Margaret Chin — Gerson spent time caring for his elderly parents. His dad, Herman, is 100. After Sophie’s funeral on Monday, Marvin Greisman, a friend of the Gersons from the Lower East Side who now splits his time between the city and Florida, said Alan recently told him he’s definitely thinking about a political return. “Alan might be running again,” Greisman told us. “He’s seriously thinking about it. He’s a committed guy and people love him.” When we queried Gerson later, he acknowledged he has absolutely been considering it, but that he’s not exclusively looking at his former District 1 Council seat, but also at other local seats that might open up. He noted that, for example, if state Senator Dan Squadron wins the race for public advocate or possibly Brooklyn borough president, then he might run for Squadron’s former office. But it’s clear that political players are watching whether Gerson will run against Chin. He told us that District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar recently called him, obviously eager to sound him out on his plans, but that he hasn’t returned her call yet. Rajkumar is reportedly seriously looking at running against Chin. As for the state of the district during his absence from office, Gerson sighed and said simply, “Things could have been done differently.” He said that comment applied both to the rezoning for the N.Y.U. 2031 megadevelopment plan for the South Village superblocks and also the demise of St. Vincent’s Hospital. Gerson lives in 505 LaGuardia Place, on the southern N.Y.U. superblock. But he indicated he was even more distressed about what happened with St. Vincent’s Hospital.
POLITICAL PASSING: Councilmember Chin was among the many local officials and community leaders paying their respects at Sophie Gerson’s funeral. The overflow crowd filled the Beth Abraham Funeral Home, at 199 Bleecker St., to capacity, and people unable to get into the main room watched the service on two flat-screen TVs. Also attending were City Councilmembers Gale Brewer and Letitia James, new state Senator Brad Hoylman, State Committeeman Arthur Schwartz, Community Board 2 members Anne Hearn, Lois Rakoff and Terri Cude and district manager Bob Gormley, Ray Cline and Connie Masullo of 505 LaGuardia Place, Sam Jacob and Marcus Andrews of Le Souk, Arthur Harris of Village Reform Democratic Club, Maureen Remacle of the Sixth Precinct Community Council, Judith Callet of Bleecker Area Residents’ and Merchants’ Association, District Leader Paul Newell, City Council candidate Yetta Kurland, former Assembly candidate Luke Henry, former Gerson arts liaison Paul Nagle and Friends of Petrosino founder Georgette Fleischer. Also at the service were the Village Independent Democrats’ Katharine Wolpe and Tony Hoffman, the club’s new president. James told us that C. Virginia Fields, the former Manhattan borough president, was unable to make the funeral, but Gerson later told us Fields was planning to sit shiva for Sophie later on Wednesday evening. Among those sitting shiva on Monday evening, the first night, were former N.Y.U. Vice Chancellor Arnold Goren and his wife, Rhoda, parents of Susan, who they said was in Vietnam again. Also there were political strategist Jerry Skurnik, former Gerson chief of staff Tammy To, leading N.Y.U. 2031 critics Paul and Sylvia Rakow and Noho activist Zella Jones. The food was provided by Jack Lebewohl of the 2nd Ave. Deli, a good friend of Sophie’s.
FORMER L.E.S. SYNAGOGUE SITE: Among the “three sets of rabbis” at Sophie Gerson’s funeral were two of the three rabbinical Spiegel brothers. Sophie’s background was Romanian, so she sometimes worshiped at the former First Roumanian-American Synagogue on Rivington St., whose roof collapsed in January 2006 and was subsequently demolished. We asked Rabbi Shmuel Spiegel what’s the latest on the vacant lot. “We’re still working on the plan, what to do,” he told us. “I’m not a prophet,” he added. “It fell down in one second. It could go back up in a second — but we don’t want to rush into it.” The key is that they want to do it with “sechel,” he said, which he explained as “the right state of mind.” Overhearing the conversation, Trudy Mason, Democratic state committeewoman from the Upper East Side, chimed in, “Sechel means sense — common sense.” “Sophie not only had sechel, but she was a mensch,” added Mason, who was always Alan Gerson’s “Aunt Trudy.”
CONCEDING SOHO BID BATTLE? During a recent conversation, Soho Alliance Director Sean Sweeney told us that opponents and proponents of the proposed Broadway Soho business improvement district have been in talks since the City Council’s Finance Committee hearing on Nov. 20. The next Council hearing on the matter has yet to be scheduled. In the meantime, according to Sweeney, members of the two factions have recently held a few behind-the-scenes meetings to work out some “compromises” on the BID proposal. Why? It seems like he and his crew have come to terms with the notion that, since Councilmember Chin strongly supports the plan, the antis will probably end up on the losing side of this battle. “Chin wants [the BID] to happen, so it’s going to happen,” Sweeney said, although he didn’t seem overly dejected by the admission. When we asked for some specifics on these “compromises,” he directed us to fellow BID opponent Pete Davies, who’s apparently been closer to the front lines of the closed-door discussions. Davies, on the other hand, told us in an e-mail that it’s “too premature” to share any details, since those talks are still in their initial stages. But he added that, now that the holidays are over, both sides are planning to meet again soon. We’ll get back to you about this one.
DISTRICT LEADER DOINGS: We hear that Jonathan Geballe, former V.I.D. president, is thinking of running for Democratic district leader. The unsalaried office is currently held by Hoylman, who, after being elected state senator, is expected to shed the lower-level post. State Committeeman Arthur Schwartz had previously told us he’d try to reclaim the district leadership if Hoylman won election to the state Senate, but now it sounds like Schwartz isn’t so sure it’s worth all the effort and might just stick with State Committee. Plus, he’s very busy with his new progressive law office. He still plans to hold a big 60th birthday bash/political fundraiser, though, and told us that if he doesn’t run for district leader, he’ll use the funds to help finance other local races.
IS IT O.K. TO DUMP DRIED-OUT CHRISTIMAS TREES ON THE CURB? Absolutely. From Wed., Jan. 2, to Sat., Jan. 12, the Department of Sanitation will be collecting the tired tannenbaums for recycling. The trees should be unbagged, and all tree stands, tinsel, lights and ornaments should be removed before the trees are put out. The brittle boughs will be chipped and made into compost, which will spread on parks, ball fields and community gardens throughout the city. Typically, the city collects more than 140,000 discarded Christmas trees each year for “tree-cycling.”