Volume 75, Number 33 | January 4 - 10, 2006

Congratulations to Quinn and Mendez

Christine Quinn’s ascendancy to the City Council speakership is a stunning accomplishment of historic proportions. She is the first woman to occupy the post and perhaps even more significantly the first openly gay person to be speaker.

The rise to power of this 39-year-old councilmember who represents Greenwich Village and Chelsea speaks to her skills in building coalitions and working with others. Indeed, we’ve seen many examples of Quinn’s effectiveness and hard work, dating back to her days with Tom Duane as his chief of staff when he was in the City Council, as director of the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and as councilmember in her own right.

More recently, she helped push through a new rezoning for the far West Village and also helped champion new landmarking protections. She also was a key figure in the fight against the misguided West Side stadium. She’s always been a leader on tenants’ rights and housing and, of course, has always been out in front on gay civil rights.

We think Chris Quinn’s got the right stuff to be an extremely able City Council speaker and we eagerly look forward to how she will help this city to be its best and to improve in areas where it needs help. Congratulations Chris!

Rosie Mendez is also deserving of our congratulations for her own rise to the City Council, where she succeeds Margarita Lopez, who stepped down last Friday because of term limits after eight years serving the district. Mendez has a lot to offer, from her days as a top attorney with Brooklyn Legal Services to her years of community activism on behalf of tenants and others. Not only does she have the experience, but it’s clear that her heart is in the right place. We’re sure she will be a worthy successor to Lopez.

Vote on the square

On Mon. Jan. 9 the Art Commission is expected to vote on the plan to move Washington Square’s fountain 22 feet east and its two statues about 15 feet north. If the commission votes to move the fountain, then the Parks Department has the green light to go ahead with its renovation plan. The Fine Arts Federation, however, from which seven of the commission’s 11 members are selected, has expressed opposition to moving the fountain.

Yet, Councilmember Alan Gerson’s agreement with Parks assures that a form of the circular seating wall that currently rings the fountain plaza will be preserved in the new plan, providing hangout “nooks” musicians like. Also, Gerson notes, when the park was being used by folk singers in the 1960s, the central plaza was actually slightly raised.

The commission will have to consider history, the park’s quintessential funky character and its relation to the surrounding area. This decision may not be an easy one for them, and it certainly was not an easy one for Community Board 2, or the community. But we look forward to an independent determination based on the merits by this qualified body of professionals.

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