Volume 74, Number 47 | March 30 - April 05, 2005

MacPherson says he’s running for C.B. 2 chairperson

By Lincoln Anderson

Don MacPherson, chairperson of Community Board 2’s Waterfront Committee, told The Villager this week he plans to seeks the chairpersonship of the Greenwich Village board.

Asked on Monday if the talk that he was going to run for chairperson were true, MacPherson said, “Yes, it is. I’ve been thinking about it. I think the time has come for me to present my position on the issues. I intend to run for chairperson of the board.”

A Soho resident, MacPherson is a photographer and publishes Soho Journal, a news and cultural magazine. He attended New York University from which he has three degrees. He grew up in the Hudson Sq. and Soho area, where his family’s roots stretch back to the start of the 20th century and where his father was a printer.

“I’m not a newcomer,” he said. He’s been on Board 2 four years.

As for some of the main issues he intends to campaign on for the June election, MacPherson listed four he feels have not been dealt with adequately by the board under its current chairperson, Jim Smith.

“There are several issues that I think have not been addressed,” MacPherson said, “Air quality in Lower Manhattan, pollution; billboards and the proliferation of signs; the inability to cross a street with a baby carriage without being run over by a truck or an 18-wheeler; and liquor licenses, being ignored by the S.L.A., the saturation of Soho.”

On the last point, MacPherson said, it costs too much, $20,000 each time, for community groups to wage legal battles against liquor license applications by bars and nightclubs all the way through, “from the community board to the Court of Appeals.”

“I seem to be alone in wanting to bring these issues out and do something about it,” MacPherson said. “Our current chairperson doesn’t seem concerned about it, but I want to do something about it.”

As for the talk of him heading a “unity slate,” he said, “I like to try to bring people together rather than split them up into factions. I think there could be more cohesiveness on the board.”

On his style, MacPherson said he sticks to the actual issues at hand and avoids “personality issues” when dealing with board matters.

“That’s something I stay away from,” he said.

Asked his opinion on a contentious item at the recent full board meeting — the placing of an anonymous letter criticizing the Village Alliance business improvement district in board members’ packets by the board’s district manager — MacPherson said he felt it was the chairperson’s duty to do something about it.

“I didn’t even read the letter and I can understand why people were concerned about that,” MacPherson said. “That should be dealt with by the chairperson of the board at a moment that’s propitious.”

In December, Bob Rinaolo, the board’s former Business Committee chairperson, told The Villager he planned to run for board chairperson. However, since news broke of his conflict of interest that forced him to step down as Business Committee chairperson, there’s been no update on whether he still plans to run. Rinaolo owns two Village restaurants and lives in the Central Village.

Brad Hoylman, the board’s Traffic and Transportation Committee chairperson, said he’s thinking about running, but hasn’t decided. But he sounded more inclined to run than when The Villager spoke to him in December.

“Yes, I’m thinking of running, but I still haven’t determined it,” Hoylman said. “It’s still a few months away. I’m actively considering it. I haven’t spoken to Don and Bob about it. I’d like to speak to both of them before I make a decision.”

Hoylman is general counsel for the New York City Partnership, a former president of Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats club and lives in the Central Village. He’s been on the board six years.

Of Smith’s performance, Hoylman said, “I think we have a current chairperson who is effective at building constituencies, but dealing with city agencies is important too.” Hoylman said he thinks Smith has handled liquor license issues well with a case-by-case approach. The board’s advocating a blanket moratorium on new liquor licenses in certain areas would not be a good idea, Hoylman said.

“The neighborhood is looking for insurance [on liquor license issues],” Hoylman said, “and the board should play that role as mediator.”

Art Strickler, the board’s district manager, said he’s heard three names mentioned for board chairperson: Hoylman, Rinaolo and MacPherson. Handicapping the race, Strickler said, it’s anybody’s guess.

“Under the circumstances, one could drop out and give his votes to the other,” he opined.

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