Volume 78 - Number 44 / April 8 - 14, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy's Notebook

Six months before the primary elections, City Council candidate Yetta Kurland is trying to become a household name in her run at Speaker Christine Quinn’s District 3 seat, covering the West Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. The civil rights attorney recently started gathering a hodgepodge of endorsements for her campaign, which is one of the few in the district that didn’t dissolve when the Council’s term-limits vote effectively flipped the race on its head. Once considered a far-left long shot — before the term-limits extension forced then-speculated frontrunners like Brad Holyman, Community Board 2’s chairperson; and Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation, to reconsider or withdraw — Kurland has charged ahead unfazed by touting the support she’s begun to amass well in advance of the September primary. Those endorsements — from the bimonthly L.G.B.T. newspaper the New York Blade, the lesbian glossy GO Magazine and the New York League of Humane Voters — championed the out lesbian’s positions on everything from education reform and tenant protection to her staunch advocacy for gay and animal rights. The Blade’s support comes amid the paper’s continued criticisms of Quinn, and GO cited Kurland’s departure from politics as usual as the reason for its endorsement. But as questions still abound about who will ultimately throw in their hat — or the towel — Kurland has taken the opportunity to rally support while also raising just under $63,000 for her campaign. (According to the candidate, who lives in Chelsea, that’s currently more than both Quinn and Maria Passannante Derr, the former Board 2 chairperson, also after the office, raised.) Although her chances of besting a two-term incumbent who also holds the speaker’s seat would appear slim, Kurland believes the public’s desire for new blood will ultimately propel her to the forefront. “There has been this backdrop nationally of change,” she said. “People are interested in seeing that on a local level.” Kurland maintained she would have welcomed challenges from Hoylman and Berman, who are both openly gay, but with the recent thinning out of the candidates pool, she stands to capitalize by securing early support from L.G.B.T. advocates. “I think that what it shows is that the L.G.B.T. community, as well as all progressive communities, are concerned with the process of government and the importance of empowering individuals,” she said of her recent endorsements. And as someone who’s made her living defending civil liberties, she hopes voters won’t forget Quinn’s successful efforts in overturning the term-limits law by bypassing a voter referendum. “I felt it was my responsibility when I was put in that position to rise to the challenge,” Kurland said of deciding to stay in the race after the term-limits extension. So while local groups like the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, Quinn’s home political club, continue to struggle with the speaker’s position on term limits, Kurland might be poised to snag votes from some of the speaker’s formerly steadfast allies. “If any of us elected officials lose our way, ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the voters to align themselves with good government,” she said. “I’m going to work hard to get [C.R.D.C.’s] endorsement.” Kurland is also currently working on the social networking aspect of her Web site, MyYetta.com, to strengthen her community of supporters as the primary moves closer. “I think that our community is a very informed, very intelligent and very connected community,” she said of her growing name recognition. “I think they’re aware of my work.”

The political journalists who recently staged the annual Inner Circle roast poked fun at plenty of local and national politicians, but we took particular notice of the digs at speaker Christine Quinn. During one skit, the journalists joked that the one big thing Quinn had succeeded in getting for her district was a garbage station, referring to the Gansevoort recycling and waste-transfer station that Quinn supported and her constituents reviled. The journalists also joked about Quinn’s loyalty to Mayor Mike Bloomberg in helping him ram term limits through the Council. In one sketch, a journalist acting as a coat checker reached into the pocket of a coat purportedly belonging to Bloomberg. She pulled out a Raggedy Ann doll and exclaimed, “It’s Christine Quinn!”

The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts on Norfolk St. will be opening a museum inside the restored synagogue this spring, at a date to be determined. The museum will exclusively display drawings and works on paper by the foundation’s namesake, Angel Orensanz, on the building’s third and fourth floors. Every two years, the foundation will grant an award to an installation artist to be included in the collection. The museum will also hold weekly lectures about the history and social matters of the Lower East Side. The museum will be free, but donations will be accepted. Angel and his brother Al took over the dilapidated former synagogue in the 1980s, initially with the idea of turning it into an art studio. But it quickly morphed into a popular local event space, as well as an arts center.

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