Liberal sum: This year’s recipient of the $100,000 Puffin/Nation Creative Citizenship Award is Michael Rattner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Rattner was selected, a Puffin/Nation press release stated, “because he has been a crucial advocate for the Guantanamo detainees who have so few voices advocating the rule of law.” The award takes its name from Soho’s Puffin Room Gallery on Broome St., operated by Carl Rosenstein, and was started by Perry Rosenstein, Carl’s father, eight years ago. Perry made his fortune at the Soho building selling hexagonal machine screws. Last year, WBAI’s Amy Goodman won the award, which is co-sponsored by The Nation, adding to its prestige. … Speaking of the Puffin Room, movie icon Harvey Keitel was one of only 21 people to vote there at the primary election on Nov. 6. Despite past clashes with the Board of Elections and Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler (who votes there) over prohibitions on displays of (anti-Bush) political art, the gallery is again a polling site. By the way, Keitel told our photographer Tequila Minsky, who is a Puffin poll worker it just so happens, that he felt the shot she got of him voting there last year with him wearing a big blue bandana around his head, which we ran, wasn’t his most flattering photo. C’mon, Harvey, you always look cool!
Working the core: The Washington Square News, New York University’s student newspaper, reported on Tuesday that John Sexton, N.Y.U.’s president reiterated that he’d like to see at least half of the university’s planned expansion built within N.Y.U.’s so-called campus core to create what he called an “academic apex” in the city. “Washington Square will always remain the core and essence of the university,” W.S.N. quoted Sexton as stating. While the university’s planning team still has not decided how much of the 6 million gross square feet that the university projects adding by 2031 will be created within the Washington Square area, Sexton has said he’d like to see as much as 3 million gross square feet added, W.S.N. says. Sexton also said the university would like to increase the number of beds for students from 12,000 to 16,000 in the next 25 years. The article goes on to say that the planners are looking at recommending adding more windows to N.Y.U.’s jumbo buildings on W. Third St. like Bobst Library, with its sheer, dark, monolithic exterior to create a semblance of openness and connectedness to the surrounding Village community. “I could see a lot of hope for Bobst,” Lori Mazor, N.Y.U. associate president for planning and design, told W.S.N. However, Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said Sexton’s comments are merely a repeat of what he told the New York Observer in an interview a couple of months ago and that G.V.S.H.P.’s response is the same. Berman previously wrote in a talking point column in The Villager that 3 million more square feet in the Village core would be the equivalent of “17 megadorms” along the lines of the one N.Y.U. currently is having built on E. 12th St., “which is still way, way too much,” he said. “We are long on record saying 3 million is not a tenable number and that N.Y.U. should look for sites outside the core area,” including the East Village and Union Square and other nearby neighborhoods, Berman said.
Super confusing: “Nicky and Nora’s Infinite Play List,” a new Sony movie about “a couple of shy twentysomethings in the Lower East Side music scene,” featuring Michael Cera of “Superbad” fame, actually recently was filming on the West Side, not the Lower East Side, inside Don Hill’s music club at Greenwich and Spring Sts.
Dr. Pepper and 9/11: Speaking of filming, we called Frank Morales, associate pastor of St. Mark’s Church, on Tuesday afternoon to see if he knew what was up with the massive movie shoot outside the East Village house of worship, but he didn’t know much about it, having not yet headed over to the church yet. The trailers were everywhere. But he did tell us about a ballot initiative that the 9/11 Truth organization is spearheading. “We’ve got people out getting petitions now,” Morales said. “We’re shooting for the 2008 New York City ballot. No investigation of 9/11 has taken place in this country. What we want is high-powered attorneys with subpoenas…indictments.” Morales said they are being supported by barrister Dr. William Pepper, who represented James Earl Ray, believeing he was framed for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder, and Bishop Desmond Tutu and have reached out to Bill Bradley and George McGovern. A launch event is planned at the church on Nov. 24. “Cynthia McKinney may be there,” Morales noted. But what about the federal 9/11 Commission’s effort? “That wasn’t an investigation,” Morales scoffed. “You can’t have an investigation orchestrated by Republicans.”
Pier powwow: With the clock ticking on the Pier 40 Partnership to produce an alternative plan for Pier 40 to present to the Hudson River Park Trust by Dec. 15, local elected officials have organized a last-minute brainstorming session with the community to throw around some ideas of what they’d like to see on the Brobdingnagian W. Houston St. pier. Bethany Jankunis, Assemblymember Deborah Glick’s chief of staff, said that the elected officials decided to contact block associations within a three-and-a-half-block radius of the pier, since they will be the most directly impacted by whatever happens at the site. Also attending the session will be representatives of the Pier 40 Working Group, the Greenwich Village Little League and Downtown United Soccer Club and West Village Houses. Said Jankunis, “We’re on a short timeline. This is to make sure they have some ideas from the community. I think the idea is just to have people spit out ideas from the top of their head like an informal brainstorming given that the study has to be done so quickly.” In addition to Glick, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, or their representatives, will be participating in the session.
Friendly bid: Guess who’s interested in being the Friends of Hudson River Park’s new executive director now that Al Butzel is set to leave the park’s leading advocacy group at the end of the year? A source forwarded us an e-mail from Arthur Schwartz to Douglas Durst, the Friends’ chairperson, that was also circulated to Friends board members, in which Schwartz submits his resignation from Friends’ board, since he is interested in the position. Schwartz is a founding member of the Friends and currently a board member, and in the e-mail admits that, if he were to win the position, it would be a “hard thing” to step down from Friends’ board, yet it would be “ethically improper” not to do so. If he doesn’t get the job heading the nonprofit organization, he said he’d request reappointment to the board. How Schwartz would be able to be the Friends’ director is beyond us, what with his responsibilities as a top union lawyer, chairperson of both Community Board 2’s Waterfront Committee and the Pier 40 Working Group and local Democratic state committeeman. Contacted on Tuesday, Schwartz paused for a few beats when we told him we had been forwarded the e-mail before he quickly noted that it wasn’t his actual application. Asked if he had, indeed, applied, he said yes. He said the job listing did not mention any set salary, yet it’s a full-time position. “I think it’s a great job. It would definitely be a change of direction in my life,” said Schwartz, former counsel to the Transport Workers Union. Schwartz currently represents 10 unions in the city, but said he’d farm out more of the work to the two other lawyers in his firm if he became Friends executive director.
Trump appeal: The floors continue to stack up and glass has started to glimmer from the Trump Soho condo-hotel, but that hasn’t stopped local residents from ringing the bell for another round versus Donald Trump. The Soho Alliance has filed an appeal with the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals to overturn a Department of Buildings’ ruling permitting operation of the 42-story building at the corner of Spring and Varick Sts. Calling it a “Trojan horse of a transient hotel,” the Alliance argued that a mixed-use residential building should have never been allowed by D.O.B. in a manufacturing zone. While a restrictive declaration has been issued stating that residents can live in the units no longer than 29 days consecutively for no more than a total of four months per year, residents fear this mandate will not be honored by the high-paying tenants. “In reality, many will probably live in them year-round,” said Andrew Berman, of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which supports the Soho Alliance but is prevented by its charter from joining in litigation. “It’s appalling that the city is now going to spend taxpayer dollars to defend Trump’s right to violate the law in court.” The Villager first reported in August that the Alliance had asked D.O.B. to pull the permit. If B.S.A. refuses to overturn D.O.B.’s ruling, then the Alliance has said it will sue in State Supreme Court.