NOVOGRATZ TO CHAIR FRIENDS: We hear from a well-placed source that Michael Novogratz has been picked to be the new chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park. Novogratz will step down from the board of directors of the Hudson River Park Trust, of which he’s been a member the past several years after being appointed by former Governor David Paterson. A hedge-fund “master of the universe,” Novogratz is president of Fortress Investment Group. A Tribeca resident, he’s also a wrestling enthusiast and helicopter pilot. Following Douglas Durst’s recent very public falling out with the Trust and his resignation as Friends’ chairperson to promote his own development idea for Pier 40, Novogratz’s taking over the chairpersonship of the Friends — the park’s chief private fundraising arm — will “unify” the Trust and the Friends, the source said. “These two groups will continue to work together,” he said. It wasn’t immediately known if Governor Cuomo has picked someone to fill Novogratz’s seat on the Trust board.
DISTRICT LEADER DOINGS: District leader Keen Berger has called for the Democratic County Committee to convene to elect her new co-district leader on Thurs., Jan. 31, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the Judson Church assembly room, 239 Thompson St. Each district has two leaders, one male and one female. It’s an unpaid position whose duties include getting voters out to the polls on elections and weighing in on selective issues. One of a district leader’s primary duties, however, is to call meetings of the County Committee to fill open seats. In this case, New state Senator Brad Hoylman — following reform Democratic club rules — will be stepping down as the 66th Assembly District, Part A (Greenwich Village, South Chelsea and parts of the East Village), male district leader since he has been elected to a second office. (A notable example of a politician who is not a reform Democrat simultaneously holding onto the lower-level office is Congressmember Charlie Rangel, who is also Harlem’s district leader.) Berger said she expects possibly up to 120 people to turn out for the vote later this month. The candidates will each get just three minutes to speak, after which they’ll be asked to respond to questions. County Committee elections can be fraught with controversy. Famously, in a vote some people still mutter and shake their heads about to this day, the County Committee elected Jerrold Nadler to fill the congressional seat of the late Ted Weiss, and — though some said Nadler “leapfrogged” over other worthy candidates who were ahead in line of him for the seat — he went on to hold the seat in the primary election. More recently, the County Committee elected Sylvia Friedman to fill the seat of retiring Assemblymember Steve Sanders, but Brian Kavanagh then went on to defeat Friedman in the primary. The stakes are obviously lower for Village male district leader, but it sounds like there will still be a competitive race. We know of at least three men who currently say they’re in the running: Jonathan Geballe, Arthur Schwartz and Deley Gazinelli. It sounds like she’s pulling for Geballe, the former head of Village Independent Democrats, Berger’s home political club. “Personally, I know Jonathan. He’s been president of the V.I.D., and I like him a lot,” she told us. Meanwhile, Schwartz, who is currently state committeeman, and is a member of Village Reform Democratic Club, is hoping to recapture the district leader seat that he held until seven years ago, when then state Senator Tom Duane, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Assemblymember Deborah Glick pulled their support away from him and threw it over to Hoylman, a rising political star. In a letter to V.I.D. announcing his candidacy, Schwartz wrote, “I want to keep a fire lit under the feet of our new councilmember, our rookie state senator and even our longtime assemblymember. I have no problem making waves.” For his part, Geballe tells us he already has the endorsements of Glick, Berger and Hoylman. Meanwhile, anticipating blowback from Glick over his candidacy, Schwartz said he’s been Googling to try to find times when she wasn’t actually criticizing him. “I actually did a little search to see the nice things Deborah said about me over the years,” he said. Geballe told us he’s raring to go. “I’ve been talking to people, and they’re excited about this, I’m excited about this,” he said. As for why Schwartz wants to give up state committee, which covers a bigger geographic area, and go back to being district leader, he said that, in the Village, it’s considered the more prominent, impactful position. “If there was some new blood, I wouldn’t run,” he added. “It’s important to get new blood, new people involved.” In that, umm, vein, Schwartz said that, if he won, he’d support his new political ally, Dodge Landesman, 22, to succeed him as state committeeman. Galzinelli, a V.I.D. member, is the founder of Chelsea Sculpture Park, was a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and is currently completing his Ph.D. dissertation at N.Y.U. on the Minimalism art movement in America. But his enthusiasm about being district leader isn’t minimal by any means. Schwartz said, if he loses the County Committee election, he would definitely run in the primary, whether it be in June or September, no one knows for sure at this point. “I don’t even think County Committee should be the end-all,” he said. Geballe said, if necessary, he’d make that decision after Jan. 31. … Separately, Landesman recently told us that his dad, Rocco, won’t be serving another term as chairperson of the National Endowment of the Arts under President Obama. Reportedly, he just felt it was a lot of work, and one term was enough for him!
KURLAND FUNDRAISES — AND DUCKS: City Council candidate Yetta Kurland filed on Tuesday with $124,986.26 — all the funds necessary to spend the maximum for the 2013 primary. Kurland hyped her feat as coming just a month after announcing she would run to replace Christine Quinn for the Council seat representing the West Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Not to diminish Kurland’s accomplishment, but Corey Johnson already reached that benchmark in August of last year, after announcing his campaign three months before that. “In this difficult economy, hundreds of people dug into their pockets to invest in this campaign, because they believe a better city is possible and that together we can change the way politics happen in New York,” Kurland said. Some critics accuse Kurland of unrealistically playing upon residents’ hopes of getting back a full-service hospital after St. Vincent’s closure, but this remains a firm part of her political platform. “As the next city councilmember for the Lower West Side, I will restore a hospital for our community,” she declared, “and I will continue to be a strong progressive voice, using my experience and convictions to stand up to moneyed interests to ensure my community, all of my community, has access to the best New York City can offer.” … Meanwhile, amid the current national focus on guns, Kurland continues to duck our questions about when and how she gave away her own handgun. Kurland has given various reasons for why she needed the gun in the first place, from being a “court officer” to being chosen to pack heat by her former English language school as part of its post-9/11 security plan. Last month, The Villager broke the news that Kurland — who has led a number of gun control vigils over the past several years — now says she has, in fact, given away her firearm. But Kurland refuses to tell us if, for example, she gave the gun to a law enforcement-sponsored, gun-buyback program, turned it in at her local police precinct or just tossed it into the Hudson River or perhaps even gave it to someone else. Instead, her campaign consultant, Jonathan Yedin, in a statement, lashed out at The Villager’s Lincoln Anderson, who last year reported that Kurland said she needed the gun for her Hello World Language Center, then last month broke the story that she says she now has given away the gun. Kurland also fired blanks in that last article when she claimed that Senator Chuck Schumer formerly had a gun license, too, just like her — which Schumer’s office assured us was a flat-out, false, Republican rumor. “Lincoln Anderson either profoundly misunderstands the basic concepts of gun control and gun safety or, even worse, he is willing to exploit and distort the issue because of personal issues and political ambitions,” Yedin said. “We are not interested in engaging in this way on such an important issue, and The Villager shouldn’t be either. We believe the people of the Lower West Side of Manhattan deserve better.” No, actually, we believe what our readers deserve is an ANSWER. Where’s the gun, Yetta?