Volume 75, Number 9 | July 20- 26, 2005

Scoopy's Notebook

Mother of all clients: Activist John Penley will be busy walking Stanley Cohen’s dogs at his Upstate country house the next few weeks. Cohen, East Village radical attorney, is reportedly heading to Baghdad, where he hopes to meet with deposed Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein to possibly become part of his legal defense team. Cohen is part of a five-member legal team representing the richest man in Rumania, who is accused of a plot to kidnap journalists in Baghdad — Cohen’s original reason for going to Baghdad was to do research for that case. Cohen probably doesn’t have to worry much about being kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq; if he is, he can just call his client Musa Abu Marzook, head of Hamas’s political wing, in Syria to get him off the hook. “He’s probably the only Jew that’s kidnap-proof in the Middle East,” Penley said. Speaking Monday, Cohen said his trip had been postponed, but didn’t admit if he was on his way to see Saddam. “I really can’t comment on where I’m going or what I’m doing,” he told The Villager.

Bikes are cool…really: Bike activists are accusing Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum of “getting on the bike late.” Gotbaum planned to meet on Wednesday with representatives of Transportation Alternatives to discuss bicycle issues in the city. However, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, her opponent in her reelection bid, has been championing the monthly Critical Mass rides since the Republican National Convention and representing the bikers’ in court against the city’s attempts to force the freewheeling ride to get a permit. Meanwhile, some bike groups like Time’s Up! aren’t too happy that they were locked out of the meeting with Gotbaum.... Siegel also recently snagged the endorsement of NOW, the National Organization for Women, over, a woman, Gotbaum.

Dorm doings: Michael Rosen of the East Village Community Coalition informs us that, about a month ago, developer Gregg Singer appealed the Department of Buildings’s rejection of his megadorm on E. Ninth St. to the Board of Standards and Appeals. Singer did not reply to phone or e-mail messages for comment. Jennifer Givner, a D.O.B. spokesperson, said, “Basically, our final decision was they didn’t meet the requirements. They needed to have a lease in place with an educational institution. They proposed several different options, none of which met the requirements.” Givner said Singer does have a right to appeal to the B.S.A. We had a hard time tracking down anyone at the B.S.A. by deadline for comment, because they don’t seem to have a phone number listed other than a recording in directory information saying, “311…311.”

Rumors were whack: Reports of plans for a triple-story hip-hop club owned by a major rap star at the site of the current Pink Elephant nightspot on Eighth Ave. between 13th and 14th Sts. were apparently unfounded, we’re now told. A neighbor, Kevin McKiernan, originally said the Elephant’s operators told him a group named T Madison L.L.C. was planning the hip-hop club; but now he says he recently met the new operator and that he’s more J. Crew than Jay-Z. “I met the guy. Seemed like a nice guy, Brooks Brothers kind of fellow,” McKiernan said. “Said he’s the victim of a smear campaign. He said he wishes to make a classy Soho-style supper club that will be 1,000 percent classier than what the space is currently being used for. Claims to have no partners other than his wife and dog. Is a Wall St. guy. Claims to have no connection to hip-hop, rap or any other kind of negatively impacting associations.” About 20 neighbors showed up at last week’s Community Board 2 Business Committee meeting to protest the application, but the applicant requested a layover till next month, according to John Diaz, the committee’s chairperson. Diaz said, at this point, he has no hard information on what the applicant is like or is planning.

Corrections: An obituary on Sing-Si Schwartz listed his age as 40. He was 50…. In a recent article on the West Chelsea Plan, there was a misstatement concerning the 80-foot height limit on the west side of Tenth Ave. This height cap only covers the area from midblock between 19th and 20th Sts. north to midblock between 22nd and 23rd Sts. — the blocks across the street from the Chelsea Historic District. The community lobbied City Planning to lower the height on this section of Tenth Ave.

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