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Volume 77 / Number 27 - December 05 - 11, 2007

Scoopy's Notebook

Fighting the good fight: An attempted meeting of the pro-tenant minds at an organization’s fledgling event to address Downtown’s “tenant crisis” erupted into a heated shouting match at a sparsely attended gathering Monday evening. In total, nine individuals — including one who was later thrown out — attended what was touted as a “citywide” tenants organizing meeting. The session, the first by the newly formed New York Tenants Alliance, sought to spark a dialogue between concerned Downtown residents representing groups from the Lower East Side, East Village and Chinatown. But before the meeting could begin, tenant activist Tom Weiss unleashed an obscenity-laced tirade against the Alliance’s Rob Hollander, whom Weiss accused of organizing the new group without informing him. Calling Hollander a “divider” and verbally sparring with the community activist, Weiss, who lives on Staten Island, loudly admonished him for what he perceived as a personal slight. “This is the way Stalin used to run things,” Weiss accused. In response, Alliance member and local activist Quinn Raymond made a motion to eject Weiss for his disruptions, which was seconded by Alliance member Mark Hatlak. “We all left and we started a new group so that we wouldn’t have to work with you,” Raymond told Weiss. “I don’t see any other viable alternative for the group to continue.” But before parting, Weiss continued his onslaught against Hollander, at which point Soho Journal publisher Don MacPherson walked out in frustration, declaring the conflict “had nothing to do with the tenants.” Despite the hoopla, the group did manage to reach out to the Chinatown tenants organization Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, whose representative shared with the new organization CAAAV’s thoughts on moving the activist fight forward. Hollander also announced that a candidate for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s seat, Luke Henry, would run on a pro-tenant platform, though Hollander admitted Henry stood little chance of winning. The attendees also discussed pursuing a possible lawsuit against the city and reaching out to other organizations across Manhattan to form a citywide tenants coalition. They’ll have to do it without Weiss, however, who added, “the landlords are going to love” the dispute.

Was gala ‘related’? It seems Pier 40 — yes, the same huge W. Houston St. pier the Hudson River Park Trust keeps saying is about ready to crumble into the river if millions of dollars aren’t soon found for its repair — has become one of the city’s swankest banquet halls. On Nov. 8, the allegedly rundown section of the pier shed in the pier’s northwest corner was home to the Guggenheim Museum’s International Gala, attended by 528 art world glitterati, equivalent to several dozen tons of weight. The event planner had to arrange for power, heating, electricity, catering (portable ovens, tables, etc.) labor, transportation — dozens of golf carts transported guests dressed to the nines 400 feet to and from the street — and install carpeting, portable walls, faux ceiling, coat room, flowers and stages. The Trust issued a set of orders for routing traffic, instructing that all cars exiting the pier turn south. Of course, the event was just a fraction of the size of what a typical Cirque du Soleil performance there would be if The Related Companies wins its bid for Pier 40. Among the Guggenheim event’s chairpersons were actors Laurence Fishburne and Jeremy Irons and — wait a second, did somebody mention The Related Companies? — Steve Ross, Related’s C.E.O., and his wife, Kara. Dinner was provided by — just a coincidence? — Le Cirque. Asked how much the Gugger put up for the event, Chris Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, said it was $50,000. As for MTV’s use earlier this year of another local park pier for a reality series with the band Cartel, Martin said, “The Band in a Bubble, held on Pier 54, was not a rental. It was the first concert in our RiverRocks Concert series and part of sponsorship of that series by Dr. Pepper.”

On life support? Death & Co., the embattled E. Sixth St. bar with the dimly lit, faux 1920s atmosphere and an extensive list of signature drinks, will pay $10,000 to the State Liquor Authority and also close for seven days because two of its owners were not listed on the liquor license. Bill Crowley, an S.L.A. spokesperson, deemed the violation “very serious.” The bar’s attorney submitted a “conditional no contest” plea to the S.L.A. offering the fine and temporary closure, and the authority accepted, Crowley said. It wasn’t immediately known which days the bar would close. And things could get even worse for the windowless watering hole. Its license is up for renewal and the place has been operating on a provisional basis since the summer. The S.L.A. will consider the renewal sometime in the near future, Crowley said.

Treemendous idea: Community Board 2 is launching a “Missing Tree Census” for the district. The board is attempting to identify tree pits that need new trees. Linda Myers, a local resident, has volunteered to conduct this census for the entire C.B. 2 area, after which the board will notify the Parks Department and local elected officials to replace the trees. Myers recently got some new trees on her block through C.B. 2, and it worked so well the board thought it should team up with her to make it a district-wide effort. C.B. 2 covers the area between 14th and Canal Sts. east of Fourth Ave./Bowery. If residents know of any tree pits without trees, they can contact the C.B. 2 office at 212-979-2272.

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