Scoopy’s, Week of Jan. 10, 2013

NOHO DISTRICTING DONNYBROOK: The Districting Commission has announced that due to the outcry over the new lines it drew for City Council districts that it will now hold more public hearings. The announcement came as a bit of a surprise, but it was welcome to Sean Sweeney of the Downtown Independent Democrats club, who was angered that the reconfigured lines cut Noho out of Margaret Chin’s Council District 1 and shifted it into Rosie Mendez’s Council District 2, while keeping Soho in District 1. The two neighborhoods represent a “community of shared interest,” he noted, which is one of the criteria the redistricting process is supposed to recognize. “We were both founded by artists in the 1960s and ’70s,” Sweeney said of Soho and Noho. “Both neighborhoods have joint live-work quarters for artists — J.L.W.Q.A. We have large lofts. The demographics are similar. You have artists like Chuck Close living in Noho. You have radicals like Dana Beal [who is currently in prison on pot-trafficking charges]. We have similar architecture — cast-iron and generally 1880s architecture. It’s an identical community separated by a large boulevard. We always have had the same councilmember, and we’ve had the same political club, D.I.D., for 40 years. I have a lot more friends in Noho than in the Village,” noted Sweeney, who is also the director of the Soho Alliance. In fact, Sweeney charged that the reason Noho was proposed to be cut out of District 1 was because Chin wanted to neutralize a potential threat from Jeanne Wilcke, who was seen as a possible challenger to her in this year’s election. “She gerrymandered Jeanne Wilcke, D.I.D’s president, out of the district,” he charged. “It was a cynical gerrymandering ploy to eliminate a leading figure in the fight against N.Y.U. and the president of a Democratic club, D.I.D. Do you know how many voters there are in Noho? About 100,” he scoffed. “I think Margaret Chin thinks voters fell off the pumpkin truck.” As it turned out, Wilcke wasn’t actually interested in running anyway. “But no one knew that,” he said, “this was four months ago.” In fact, Sweeney admitted he personally asked Wilcke to run against Chin. “A lot of people asked her to run,” he said. But it didn’t stop there. “We asked Kathryn Freed!” Sweeney exclaimed. But the former councilmember turned judge “has zero interest in running” for her old seat and is set on running for State Supreme Court, he said. “We talked to Menin — that was like six months ago,” he said of Julie Menin, but she’s focused on becoming borough president. No one was interested, it seemed. “Madelyn Wils? Who else is strong?” Sweeney asked desperately — though apparently he hasn’t actually asked the Hudson River Park Trust C.E.O. if she wants to get into electoral politics. “Jessica Loeser — she didn’t want it,” he said of the Lower East Side district leader. “Newell doesn’t want to do it,” he added of District Leader Paul Newell, who has his sights set on state office, apparently, such as Dan Squadron’s state Senate seat should it become open. “We asked Jan Lee — he didn’t want to do it. He said he has his business, so doesn’t want to run,” Sweeney said of the Chinatown merchant and outspoken activist. Some are trying to enlist Terri Cude, co-director of Community Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031 (CAAN) to run. (We hear her campaign office would probably be at Le Souk.) But she didn’t respond to our query on whether she’ll be tossing her hat in the ring. Of course, as we reported last week, another former councilmember, Alan Gerson, is also thinking of launching a campaign. But Sweeney didn’t know how realistic that is. However, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar actually has filed with the Board of Elections and set up a campaign committee. “Jenifer’s running — Jenifer’s the one,” the D.I.D. honcho said. But Sweeney seems skeptical that anyone could actually beat Chin. Not even Wilcke? “Probably not,”  he conceded. The Irish national said, at this point, he might even become a citizen so he could take on Chin himself. At any rate, Sweeney is now demanding that the councilmember state publicly that she wants Noho reunited with Soho in District 1. “I challenge her to restore the Noho/Soho lines back to their historical and logical configuration,” he said. However, Chin spokesperson Kelly Magee said that, well, this is just Sweeney being Sweeney, and that Chin and her staff were as surprised as anyone that Noho was removed from the district by the Districting Commission. In fact, Chin has publicly testified that she didn’t want any changes to her district’s lines. Of the Districting Commission’s decision to hold further public hearings, she said, “It’s very strange. We were not aware that the Districting Commission had decided to rescind its map before the holidays. We thought it was moving forward in the process.” As for who exactly is upset besides Sweeney over Noho’s proposed removal from District 1, Magee said Chin’s office hasn’t received even one complaint about it. “I don’t have 100 e-mails from people in Soho and Noho saying they don’t want this,” she noted, adding, “We never advocated for Noho to be cut out. I really have no patience for Sean Sweeney — for his comments and his antics. I’m not even going to dignify that with a response.” Asked if Chin plans to publicly call for Noho to be reunited with Soho in District 1, Magee responded, “Not at this point.”

BILL LIKES YETTA: We hear from a well-placed source that mayoral candidate Bill Thompson will endorse Yetta Kurland for City Council in District 3, but that the announcement might not come for another week or two. … Meanwhile, the heterosexual mystery candidate we recently spoke to tells us he’s still deciding whether to jump into the race and doesn’t want to put his name out there until he’s ready.

BRAD’S BIG DAY: On Wed., Jan. 9, Brad Hoylman was in Albany for the start of the state legislative session. On Sun., Jan. 13, the former Community Board 2 chairperson and newly elected state senator will be back on the West Side for a swearing-in ceremony from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Haft Auditorium, 227 W. 27th St., between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Refreshments will be served at a reception immediately following the ceremony.

CO-LEADER WANTED! Speaking of Hoylman, District Leader Keen Berger tells us she’ll be calling a meeting of the Democratic County Committee to choose her temporary district co-leader, since Hoylman “is a reform Democrat, and he’ll step down — and I need a co-leader.” She said the meeting will probably be before the end of this month, and somewhere accessible to everyone in the 66th Assembly District, Part A.

NEW SCHOOL BRAINSTORMING: Community Board 2 and the District 2 Community Education Council are co-hosting an information session on 75 Morton St. on Thurs., Jan. 17, at P.S. 41, 116 W. 11th St., starting at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will consider the 75 Morton St. building and surrounding area; ideas from local schools for the type of school or schools to have there; updates from elected officials; and “next steps” and how people can voice their opinion on the subject.

AIN’T NO SUNSHINE AT C.B. 3: Just before the New Year rolled around, we reported that Sunshine Cinema, the indie movie house at 143 E. Houston St., is planning a million-dollar renovation that will include comfier seats, an expanded dining menu and a second-floor bar. Michael Fant, a rep for Landmark Theatres (which owns Sunshine Cinema) told us then that the overhaul wouldn’t take place until the establishment receives a full liquor license. The problem was, Fant and company had to withdraw their application from C.B. 3’s S.L.A. Committee in December because they didn’t bring a petition signed by local residents who support the proposal. So Fant confidently told us that they’d be back at the committee’s January meeting with a petition and a successful proposal. But when we showed up to the meeting on Monday night, the Sunshine Cinema crew was nowhere to be found! We wondered, what gives? That query, however, also went unanswered, as multiple calls to Landmark’s press office received no response. Seems like the need for a liquor license might not have been so urgent after all.

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8 Responses to Scoopy’s, Week of Jan. 10, 2013

  1. Political Realist

    "“I don’t have 100 e-mails from people in Soho and Noho saying they don’t want this,” she noted, "

    However, Chin received that many emails – and more – on the NYU boondoggle, the SoHo BID, the Chinatown BID, 135 Bowery and she ignored them all. Who is Mouthpiece Magee thinks she's kidding?.

  2. The information in Scoopy's that Council Member Chin's office did not receive "even one complaint" about NoHo being severed from SoHo and moved out of Council District 1 as part of redistricting is incorrect. A letter was sent by the NoHo Neighborhood Association on October 23, 2012 addressed to the NYC Districting Commission and copied to Council Members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez and the SoHo Alliance.
    The NoHo Neighborhood Association requested that NoHo not be removed, citing that NoHo and SoHo are "communities of interest" as defined by the NYC Charter, Section 52 (C), particularly in their M1-5B zoning, demographics, history, cast-iron architecture, and special Joint Living Work Quarters for Artists designation. Fourteen of the NoHo Neighborhood Association Steering Committee members were listed on this letter.

    • The SoHo Alliance also wrote a letter in October, 2012 to the Districting Commission requesting that both communities not be divided.

      But for Councilmember Chin and her spokesperson Magee to know that fact would require them to spend more time doing their homework and less time spinning the news reports.

  3. To clarify, Lincoln’s question was if Council Member Chin’s office had received any correspondence or emails from

    Noho residents AFTER the districting commission released the new proposed district-1, with the changes.

    I was not referencing previously submitted testimony prior to the maps being issued.

    - Mouthpiece Magee

    • lincolnanderson

      Kelly, actually, what happened was I said "people" were not happy about the Noho/Soho districting split. Then you said, "Who is people?" or something to that effect. I said, well, Sean Sweeney, for one. And then you basically said something to the effect of, "Look, I haven't received hundreds of e-mails from people in Noho and Soho complaining about this. We haven't received one complaint." And I either quoted you or paraphrased that. (I'm not looking at the Scoopy's item right now.) So, it wasn't really that I was asking IF M. Chin's office had received complaints. Rather, you asked me WHO actually I was referring to when I said "people" were complaining. Then I said, Sean. Then you said, something to the effect, of M. Chin's office had not received hundreds of e-mail complaints on this, and in fact, had not even received one complaint. I didn't mention any before, after, during, etc. And I feel the Scoopy's item accurately reflected our conversation. — Lincoln

  4. In October 2012, nothing had been severed from the district. You are both just referencing testimony that said exactly what your Council Member said, which was to keep the district intact!

  5. This important issue is rapidly devolving into he-said/she-said confusion.

    What is crucial is to determine whether Councilmember Chin made any effort on her constituents' behalf in response to their concerns, which she has known for almost three months.

    Consequently, will Councilmember Chin stand up now to preserve the integrity of our neighborhoods at the Districting Commission and City Council, or will she not?

    Jointly,
    Jeanne Wilcke (NoHo Neighborhood Association) & Sean Sweeney (SoHo Alliance)

  6. Holden Caulfield alert! Haven’t Chin & Co. demonstrated through the NYU 2031 debacle that their assets-in-chief are word-parsing, poofed promises, and general phoniness?

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