Volume 76, Number 46 | April 11 - 17, 2007

Scoopy’s notebook

Word on the street: Tony Hiss has always maintained the innocence of his father, Alger Hiss, a top State Department official famously accused of spying for the Soviet Union in the 1940s. However, the case continues to be shrouded in mystery and probably always will be. One thing Tony feels is absolutely clear, though, is that W. Eighth St. is on the rebound. Although some observers say there are, incredibly, even more empty storefronts on the street now than there were a year ago, Hiss, who lives on the block, begs to differ. Plus, he feels the new stores now coming in are a cut above. He particularly likes Le Pain Quotidien and IS Wines…. Meanwhile, others are not thrilled at reports that BBQ plans to move from its University Pl. location to a spot further west on W. Eighth St.

Sensible vendor plan: Councilmember Alan Gerson reports he’ll be introducing his new bill on street vendors in the “next few weeks.” Gerson said the proposals he’ll be recommending come out of a committee he created of stakeholders from Community Boards 1, 2 and 3. The legislation will be citywide, though. Asked to describe the bill’s contents, Gerson said it will advocate “sensible spacing” of vendors. “It will recognize the special protections given to vendors and First Amendment items,” Gerson added. “It’ll recognize the special needs of the very narrow [sidewalks] — and close loopholes.” Gerson said he’s not afraid of a legal challenge by Robert Lederman of A.R.T.I.S.T., who has successfully defended challenges to sidewalk vendors’ rights in four lawsuits. “Anything we propose will stand up to legal muster,” Gerson guaranteed, reminding us his background is in constitutional law. “I’m not going to have my name associated with a First Amendment challenge,” he vowed. On other hotly debated recent legislation, Gerson said he supports a ban on using metal bats for organized high school baseball: “At the end of the day, I decided to err on the side of caution; there was evidence that the velocity of the ball coming off the bat had inflicted serious injury,” he said. But he opposes the pedicab regulations. In particular, he feels pedicab drivers should be allowed to use electric-assist motors. Otherwise, he said, “They can get cramps. It’s dangerous.”

Idle talk: We got a call last week from an aide to Councilmember Dan Garodnick asking if we “had any buses idling” around Stuyvesant Town at 18th St. and Avenue C early in the morning. A resident on the eighth floor had been complaining, the staffer said. (It’s illegal for trucks and buses to idle more than three minutes.) Well, the answer is no. We are not branching out into transit — at least not right now — though some of us are known to ride bicycles. This appears to be a new service by a concierge company, bizarrely also called The Villager, located in Stuy Town. Their logo even copies ours, adding to the confusion. Apparently, following MetLife’s recent record-breaking sale of the mega-complex, Tishman Speyer, the new owner, has encouraged The Villager — not us! — to offer a trolley to Wall St. and the No. 6 subway station on 23rd St.

Piecing it together: Things are really looking up for Jim “Mosaic Man” Power, creator of the East Village’s funky tile-covered lampposts. This Friday and Saturday, Power will work with students at P.S. 40 on E. 20th St. to create 50 1-square-foot mosaic tiles to decorate the doorway to their garden. “I’ve got my foot possibly in the door with the education system,” Power said hopefully. Also, artist Ros Sterling is still putting Power up in her art studio on E. 15th St. near Union Square and plans to help him find permanent housing. Apart from his painful bum hip, which keeps popping out on him, he couldn’t be better.
Correction: In our March 28 issue, the article on Reverend Lyndon Harris, of St. John’s Lutheran Church, misstated where he is working on his doctoral degree. It is General Theological Seminary, where he has completed the work except for his dissertation. The article also misspelled his hometown, Gaffney, S.C.

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