Praying for Hillary: Following her stunning primary loss to Barack Obama in Iowa, Hillary Clinton's campaign is in a tailspin. But former Mayor Ed Koch is sticking by Clinton in tough times. "Her expected loss to both Obama and Edwards in Iowa scared the hell out of many of her supporters, including me," Koch wrote in his Jan. 7 commentary column, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. "Ultimately, the Super Tuesday primary scheduled for Feb. 5 will determine the final outcome," Koch continued. "That primary will involve a huge number of states. I'll confess now that I will be silently praying to God that Hillary wins tomorrow and thereafter, even though I know it is foolish to think the Almighty in whom I believe intervenes in elections. Ridiculous, but who knows?" In the Republican primary, Koch is supporting John McCain.
Pataki Park pandemonium: The reaction to Governor Eliot Spitzer's proposal to rename the Hudson River Park as George Pataki Park in his State of the State speech on Wednesday (see editorial on Page 12) has been generally negative among local park activists, although there also has been some tepid support. Former city Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, who is a member of the Hudson River Park Trust's board of directors, strongly opposes the idea. Writing in his Jan. 8 column (who doesn't have a column these days!), Stern indignantly noted that the local legislators who represent the park, as well as the Trust's 13 board members five of whom are appointed by the governor were not consulted about the move by Spitzer, only finding out about it through Monday's article in The New York Sun that was being e-mailed around. Spitzer's proposal to rename the park, Stern said, "would be the first blunder of the governor's second year. … The awkwardness of naming a place for a living person is shown at 42nd St. and Second Ave.," Stern noted, "which was named by the City Council [as] Nelson and Winnie Mandela Square. Nelson Mandela fully deserves the honor, but Winnie was convicted for the murder of a 14-year-old African boy on her soccer team. Although she received the honor before she committed the crime, does she now still deserve this honor?… Parks names are and should be geographic or natural, not bestowed to honor living or dead officeholders," Stern said. In the exception that a park is to be named for someone, the person should be dead at least five years, stated Stern, who reckons he renamed more than 100 city parks in his 15 years as Parks commissioner. Likewise, Assemblymember Deborah Glick was wholeheartedly against the idea. "I think the Hudson River Park is appropriately named now for an enduring natural feature," she said. Glick wondered if the renaming would be ceremonial, like the Joe DiMaggio Highway, but figured it would require a formal name change and an amendment to the Hudson River Park Act. And she said she would not support such legislation. "I just am uncomfortable with the notion of naming significant parks after people and specifically living people," Glick said. "The Erie Canal it's an incredible thing it's called the Erie Canal and not the DeWitt Clinton Canal," she noted. Asked if she had anything good to say about Pataki's efforts on behalf of the park, die-hard Democrat Glick said, "No!" On first thought, Arthur Schwartz, chairperson of Community Board 2's Waterfront Committee, said Pataki "probably deserves it" for all the work he did helping get the park's legislation written, plus creating the first sports field on Pier 40, the one on the rooftop. "He kicked out the first soccer ball on Pier 40," said Schwartz. But Schwartz later called us back to say he thinks the renaming is a bad idea because it would require an amendment to the park act. "Once you open up a law for amendment, you open up a Pandora's box," he warned. Schwartz said he feared other amendments that would be "destructive to the park," such as for a marine waste transfer station on Gansevoort Peninsula or for a 50-year lease for Pier 40 which is what Related Companies covets for its Cirque du Soleil plan might be slipped into the legislation, too. Julie Nadel, another Trust board member, said, "One should wait to honor people until after they're dead." But Robert Trentlyon, vice president of Chelsea Waterside Park, was a bit more accepting. "I don't know why it can't be Pataki Park," he said. "If it's going to be named after a politician, the politician who did the most for the park is Pataki." But he added, "I would prefer it remaining Hudson River Park." Added Ed Gold, a veteran C.B. 2 member, of the renaming idea, "I thought they usually do that after a guy dies he's still kickin'. I'm not thrilled about them naming it after Pataki. I think they could have picked a better name but are they going to finance it so we get a park down there on Gansevoort and Pier 40?" Said Stu Waldman, head of the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront, "My first thought is: Why not? After all, the two largest areas in the park, Chelsea Piers and Pier 40, will be controlled by corporations, as was our former governor. And the board of the Hudson River Park Trust under Pataki was, except for a few notable exceptions like Julie Nadel, a retirement home for political hacks. I hadn't heard a club of which George Pataki has been a lifelong member, so we might as well finish the job and name the park after him." But the whole discussion may now be moot. On Tuesday, Jennifer Givner, a Spitzer spokesperson, would not confirm if he would propose renaming the park after Pataki on Wednesday. Perhaps the governor is feeling the heat following the fallout from Monday's Sun article. "No comment," Givner said. "The speech is still evolving."
Back from the grave: It turns out our report on Death & Co that we posted earlier this week erred in saying that the place can no longer serve alcohol. It's true, as we accurately reported, that on Dec. 21 the State Liquor Authority rejected the trendy E. Sixth St. cocktail bar and restaurant's liquor license renewal application meaning that Death & Co does not currently have a liquor license. Nevertheless, Death & Co still can serve alcohol. In fact, under the State Administrative Procedures Act, known as SAPA, the operators can continue serving alcohol for four months while appealing to the S.L.A. in an attempt to get back their liquor license. David Kaplan, one of Death & Co's two partners, said if they lose their appeal at the S.L.A., they will take their battle to court and file what is known as an Article 78 lawsuit a challenge to a ruling by a state or city agency. "We've always operated by what were the approved hours by the community board" 1 a.m. closing time, except for 2 a.m. on Friday to Saturday, he said. Kaplan added that they can't help that Death & Co is known more as a bar than a restaurant because their three bartenders are just so talented at making delicious cocktails with all-fresh ingredients that it outshines their food. He said he has two chefs and would like to hire even more but chefs simply cost a lot more than bartenders. Kaplan said they're in for the long haul, and feel confident they will win their liquor license back. (We don't want to cast blame or point fingers, but the reason we said Death & Co couldn't serve alcohol was because the authority itself told us so. On Friday, an S.L.A. spokesperson said not renewing liquor licenses for premises the S.L.A. feels are a problem is actually something new for the authority; he admitted he hadn't realized, when he spoke to us earlier in the week, that SAPA would be in effect, allowing the bar to continue serving during its pending appeal.)