Volume 76, Number 5 | June 21 - 27 2006

Scoopy's Notebook

From spanker to spankee: Apparently William Stricklin’s comments last week in The Villager about the club’s renegade state committee members, Larry Moss and Rachel Lavine, didn’t go over too well with the Village Independent Democrat powers that be. Stricklin, V.I.D.’s president, had assured us that Moss and Lavine were in for “a public spanking” and that there would be “repercussions” after the pair didn’t hide their support for hawkish Hillary Clinton at the Democratic State Convention, despite the club’s overwhelming endorsement of antiwar candidate Jonathan Tasini. But at the end of last week we received a letter with Stricklin’s signature (see letters, Page 14) in which he claims the club is allegedly “extremely proud” of Moss and Lavine for helping pass a “bold and true” antiwar resolution (one which Tasini, on the other hand, complains was “watered down.”) The e-mail was sent — not by Stricklin — but by District Leader Keen Berger, and cc’d were District Leader Brad Hoylman (a major Hillary supporter) and Assemblymember Deborah Glick (a major Moss and Lavine supporter). We asked Stricklin if he indeed wrote the letter. “I worked on it,” he said. So did that mean others worked on it too? “Nothing — I wrote it, I wrote it,” Stricklin corrected himself. He added something about his “butt getting kicked” big time by multiple individuals after The Villager article, and sounded none too happy about it, and tried to tell us his comments about Moss and Lavine had been “off the record.” Meanwhile, Lavine says she wasn’t really even at the convention, but in Albany to follow the gay marriage court trial. But she told us that, yes, she thinks Hillary’s terrific.

‘Survivor Stanton St.’: Rebecca Moore of L.O.C.O. (Ludlow-Orchard Community Organization) fought in vain to keep Epstein’s bar from getting a sidewalk café at Stanton and Allen Sts. Now she’s concerned about four kerosene tiki torches that Epstein’s is firing up at night in its sidewalk café. “These ‘Survivor’ torches are at hair height,” Moore warns, noting that the bar is always packed and that women passing near the torches could easily back right into one, sparking a Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial-like disaster. “What if one of the torches fell?” Moore asks. “All the beer on the ground would ignite.” Moore said she has called 311 to complain, which shunted her to a Department of Consumer Affairs phone number. Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3 district manager, said after being contacted by Moore she called the Seventh Police Precinct community affairs officer, who said they would send some officers to reconnoiter the tiki torches. But Stetzer said she hasn’t received an update. Clearly, this was a job for Scoopy. We called the Fire Department and were directed to Inspector Mike Murray of the Fire Prevention Department. “Tiki torches? The bamboo things? This is not allowed,” Murray said without hesitation. He advised that anyone seeing the torches should immediately call the Fire Department dispatcher at 212-628-2900. “You got to catch ’em in the act. Report it. Say they’re using an illegal open flame on the pavement,” Murray explained. “Tell ’em how many torches they’re using. So, they’ll send a fire truck, they’re gonna seize it and they’re gonna give a summons.” Asked if the firefighters will blast the tiki torches with their hoses, Murray just said they will “douse” them. Told of Scoopy’s obtaining the right Fire Department complaint phone number, Stetzer said it just shows that the 311 system is “overwhelmed” and not working, since Moore’s call had been routed to the wrong agency and didn’t succeed in putting out the torches.

Letters warfare: Community Board 2 will hold its annual election of officers at its meeting this Thursday night. The race for board chairperson between Maria Passannante Derr and David Reck is too close to call, according to insiders. Meanwhile, acerbic letters have been flying fast and furious. Larry Goldberg, one of Reck’s main supporters, recently wrote Derr in a huff demanding to see all the board’s financial records, accusing her of trying to prevent transparency. But the records were subsequently produced. Councilmember Alan Gerson really set things off, though, when he recently sent a letter to Derr in which he reprimanded her for not denouncing the anonymous attack letter earlier this year against board members Don MacPherson and Sean Sweeney. “Anonymous attack letters of the kind recently sent to the board need to be denounced — especially by the board chairperson,” Gerson chided. “Any board member involved — and I have no idea who was involved — should be censured,” Gerson stated. The councilmember also scolded Derr for sending out invitations for her private meet and greet for new board members in which she identified herself as C.B. 2’s chairperson, and he additionally said the board chairperson should strive to be “inclusive.” Derr’s not having invited certain board members — i.e., Reck, Goldberg, MacPherson and Sweeney — “creates an atmosphere of antagonism and mistrust,” Gerson said. Rick Panson, a Derr ally, promptly fired off a four-page screed, excoriating Gerson. “…[H]ow disgusting of you to criticize Maria Derr openly at this particular time when she has been working so hard to keep the board functioning after Arty’s unexpected passing,” Panson fumed, referring to late District Manager Arty Strickler. Panson also slammed Gerson for not speaking up when MacPherson, in his Soho Journal magazine, referred to former Borough President C. Virginia Fields’s new board appointees as “slugs.” “I find it outrageous that all you can do is condemn and criticize Maria in your recent letter after all she has done to serve our community... ABSOLUTELY SHAMEFUL!” Panson fumed at Gerson, demanding he make “a public apology” to Derr before the C.B. 2 election. Speaking of borough presidents, we asked Scott Stringer what he makes of all this letter madness. “I peruse them on occasion,” Stringer said, adding, “I’m not a fan of anonymous letters…. We’ve appointed some good new members. We’re concentrating on land use and other issues.” As for the new C.B. 2 members, nine of them have been meeting for the past few months and recently sent out a letter of their own — amazingly, attacking no one! They are calling for greater “civility, openness and transparency,” in general, and “balance” in the makeup of board committees. Maybe there’s hope yet.

Another stop-work: The Department of Buildings last week issued a stop-work order at 515 E. Fifth St., a building being put through major interior renovations — with tenants in place — by Benjamin Shaoul of Magnum Management. B.P. Stringer called us with the news, noting Shaoul failed to answer nine of 19 objections on a Department of Buildings audit of the work. In May, Stringer joined Councilmember Rosie Mendez in a tour of the building conditions and had then called for D.O.B. to be tough on Shaoul, whom tenants accuse of trying to harass them out of the building with the disruptive work. Previously, Shaoul had filed for a demolition-eviction application to evict the rent-regulated tenants. “He’s doing this all over the Village, and this should be a signal to him that we’re not going to tolerate this kind of nonsense,” Stringer said. Said Mendez of the stop-work order, “It’s about time.” D.O.B. also had stopped renovations at 120 St. Mark’s Pl., another Shaoul project, but recently lifted the order.

Lockdown furor: We bumped into Mendez at the “Bard’s for St. Brigid’s” benefit and asked her thoughts on the traffic lockdown in the East Village on Puerto Rican Day weekend, done to prevent “caravanning.” “I think it’s inappropriate,” she said. “It’s the first time that I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen the caravan in the past, mainly on the Saturday [before the parade]…. It’s now a caravan of yellow taxis,” she quipped of the changing neighborhood. Meanwhile, East Village activist John Penley is still outraged over the street closures. “They won’t do that in Chelsea during the Gay Pride March,” he said.

Load o’ CoDA news: After endorsing Ken Diamondstone by one vote over Martin Connor for state senator, Coalition for a District Alternative decided to revisit their endorsement and last week chose to vote “no endorsement” in this race. Connor, who is an election lawyer, had of course knocked several opponents off the ballot before last year’s City Council District 2 primary election, helping CoDA’s favorite daughter, Rosie Mendez, succeed Councilmember Margarita Lopez. Mendez had already endorsed Connor before the club’s first vote backing Diamondstone…. In other CoDA news, Harvey Epstein is denying persistent rumors that he’s contemplating a future race against Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver. “People said to me, ‘Sure, run for office,’” Epstein told us. “Would I run against Shelly, the most powerful Democrat in the state? That’s probably a pretty stupid thing to do,” he said. Epstein, who is P.T.A. president of the Neighborhood School, said he’s focusing on his kids’ schools right now.

Don’t believe the hype: Arthur Schwartz quashed rumors that his Democratic State Senate Committee running mate, Lisa Canistracci, had dropped out of the race. In fact, he said, she has two fundraisers coming up.

Credit where due: The photos in last week’s Villager of Council Speaker Chris Quinn and former Senator George McGovern visiting P.S. 33 in Chelsea to promote school breakfasts and summer meals were taken by William Alatriste, City Council photographer.

Correction: Milo Printers isn’t closing for good as reported by Scoopy last week, it’s just moving a half-block to 199 Avenue A between 12th and 13th Sts. Our sincere apologies to Milo Printers.

Where’s the beef? Also moving is Western Beef supermarket, from W. 14th St. to 431 W. 16th St. late this summer, according to a banner on the Meat Market mainstay, reports Curbed Web site.

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