Volume 79, Number 26 | December 2 - 8 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


2Scoopy's Notebook

New club are ‘DO’ers: The new political club splintering from Downtown Independent Democrats had its first meeting Monday night and just over two-dozen potential members showed up. The meeting at Independence Plaza in Tribeca was run by David Reck, a Democratic district leader from Hudson Square, and Bill Love, a Battery Park City resident and Community Board 1 member. They and almost everyone in the faction that is looking to leave D.I.D. supported Councilmember Alan Gerson in his unsuccessful re-election campaign this year. They also have criticized the club’s leadership, and say there has been too much infighting at D.I.D., which endorsed one of Gerson’s opponents. The new group does not have a name yet and will likely send around an internal e-mail vote of possible names. Love said he wants something that includes “Lower Manhattan,” possibly Lower Manhattan Democrats or Lower Manhattan Progressive Democrats. Bruce Ehrmann, a Tribeca resident and C.B. 1 member, said he thinks “Democratic Organization” should be in the name to make it clear the club is living in the present. “I want us to be ‘DO’ — let them be ‘DID,’” he said. He asked if they could leave out a reference to geography, but the consensus was no. L.M.DO was then floated. “Five Points” was also suggested, although Reck pointed out that this historical neighborhood name refers to the area around present-day Chinatown, east of where most of the attendees live. Someone said the name’s meaning could be updated to mean five neighborhoods, although the club’s area covers more neighborhoods than that. Like D.I.D., the new club will include the 64th and 66th Assembly Districts, covering Battery Park City, Tribeca, Soho, Noho, Hudson Square, parts of the Village, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, the South St. Seaport and the Financial District. Love said since the area is so big and has a growing population, there is enough room for two clubs. He said he hoped to move forward and end much of the negativity involved with endorsements and other disputes. Attendees did try and focus on the future but some also criticized their old club. Ehrmann said D.I.D. reminded him of a “cult of personality, like Maoism…. It’s run like an ultra-left, late-’60s organization.” He later said he was, in fact, a former member of Students for a Democratic Society, but thought the radical ’60s group got bad at the end. District Leader Linda Belfer, also chairperson of C.B. 1’s B.P.C. Committee, pointedly noted that everyone in the room was an American citizen, a clear jab at D.I.D. club president Sean Sweeney, who is not. When told of the comment, Sweeney said it harkened back to the nativist Know Nothing Party of 150 years ago. “It’s sad that sentiment is still around in Lower Manhattan,” he said. He said the “cult of personality” accusation is also ridiculous since he has already said he will step down as D.I.D. president next year after a five-year run. Gerson promised not to overturn term limits in the City Council, and then reversed himself and ran for re-election. “I keep my word, not like their hero,” Sweeney said in a telephone interview. D.I.D. has about 200 members, and Sweeney thinks things will settle down now that the people unhappy with the club are leaving. “These are the ones who are causing the fighting,” he said. “Now they’re gone… . You think Bill Love and David Reck are going to get along?” Sweeney asked before starting to chuckle. Several former Gerson staffers, neighborhood leaders and officers of C.B. 1 and 2 came to the first meeting, including much of C.B. 1’s Executive Committee. Some of the other notable attendees included Noho leader Zella Jones; Ian Dutton of C.B. 2; Catherine McVay Hughes, vice chairperson of C.B. 1; Pat Moore, a C.B. 1 leader who challenged Sweeney for club president last year; and Avi Turkel, a Chinatown activist who ran for district leader this year. The new group is starting to write its bylaws and hopes to have them approved with its new name at its next meeting sometime in January. It’s not clear who the first president will be. Love plans to eventually move to Virginia to take care of his elderly mother and thinks someone younger should be the first leader. Reck said as a district leader, he will already be on the Executive Committee and he did not sound interested in running for any club positions.


Told Brian ’bout Bowery: Village zoning maven Doris Diether was heard on WNYC on Tuesday morning, when she provided an insightful perspective on the current state of the Bowery. Brian Lehrer was hosting a segment at the station’s Varick St. Greene Performance Space on commercial streets. One street was highlighted in each of the five boroughs, with one panelist from each borough. For Manhattan, it was the Bowery. Though someone else was the panelist for our fair borough, at the beginning of the show, Lehrer prominently noted that Diether was sitting in the audience. At one point, someone came around with a microphone to get her comments. “I brought up the fact that the zoning was different on the two sides of the Bowery, and how it was affecting the area,” she said. “On the east side of Bowery, we don’t have protected zoning, and they’re putting up new buildings. And on the west side, we have the Little Italy Special District with the Bowery Protective Corridor. Lehrer said, ‘They’ve got different zoning on the two sides of the street?’ I said, ‘Yes, we’ve been complaining about it for years.’” But there is hope in sight, said the zoning specialist, who has proposed simply rezoning the boulevard’s east side like its west side, and is lending her expertise to the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, or BAN. “I think we’re going to be meeting with Chin next week,” Diether said of a planned BAN sit-down with Councilmember-elect Margaret Chin. “She’s already endorsed our plan, but I think she wants to learn more about it as an elected official. Apparently, City Planning is aware of our plan.”


The Dirt on ACORN: Politico reported on Nov. 29 that ACORN recently considered changing its name, the story based on “an internal memo obtained by Politico.” The said document was found in a dumpster outside of an ACORN office in San Diego. “Derrick Roach, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for statehouse in California, took thousands of documents last week from the trash outside the office. An ACORN spokesman confirmed the veracity of the document,” Politico reported. The memo also stated ACORN leaders’ belief that the organization’s currently tarnished image would “blow over” in a year or two. It wasn’t really necessary for Roach to go crawling around in the trash: In October, The Villager reported — based on an interview with Arthur Schwartz, the embattled grassroots group’s general counsel — that ACORN was looking into “rebranding.”


Corrections: An article in last week’s issue on a West Side bus forum misspelled Judy Magida’s name as Judy Makida. Also, due to an editing error, the article misidentified Judith Chazen Walsh’s organization as Buses Off Bleecker. Though BOB was pretty catchy, it no longer exists; Walsh’s group is now known as Our Streets Our Lives. … A Scoopy’s Notebook item last week wrongly reported that a ground-floor space in the new Trump Soho tower at Dominick and Spring Sts. is slated to be a tiki bar. Eve McGrath, a P.R. spokesperson for the project, set us straight. “First, the property is Trump SoHo™ Hotel Condominium New York,” she said, regarding the edifice complex’s proper name. Second, she said, “There is no tiki bar planned for Trump SoHo.” In fact, according to an explanatory press release McGrath sent us, the spot will be home to a lounge named Bazaar, “created by the team behind South Beach’s hottest nightspots, Miami-based restaurant and hospitality group, KNR… . Bazaar will be the place to see and be seen while enjoying impeccable cocktails and playlists by renowned DJs. Luxuriously textured wood walls have a split-face finish, with a simple polished dark charcoal concrete floor continuing the raw and rich design elements in this posh lounge designed by Rockwell.” Maybe the construction worker who gave us the wrong information was basing his opinion on the “textured wood walls” with their “split-face finish,” which probably look — we’re just taking a wild guess here — tiki bar-ish. On the other hand, maybe he was just an “apprentice.” Ka-ching!

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