The Downtown Independent Democrats’ annual fundraiser at Sean Sweeney’s Soho loft on May 23 was the place to be for local politicos — including a horde of grinning judicial candidates who were shaking every hand in sight. Among them was upstart candidate Reshma Saujani, who was making the rounds, hoping to win support for her primary race against longtime incumbent Congressmember Carolyn Maloney. Saujani, 34, has lived Downtown since coming to New York from Chicago about eight years ago, with stops in the West Village and on Mott St. before settling in the East Village. Her parents fled Idi Amin’s Uganda for the United States. While her hopes are high on becoming the first Indian-American woman in Congress, Saujani did note that although Obama lost his 2000 primary challenge against Chicago congressmember Bobby Rush, it was “the best race he ever lost.” Saujani added that she has been besting Maloney in fundraising lately. Dodge Landesman, who was just graduating high school, showed he’s an astute scholar of politics, saying that as Obama did in his race versus Rush, Saujani — even if she loses — will be raising her name recognition, positioning herself for a future election. Many think of the 14th Congressional District as just the Upper East Side, but it also includes parts of the East Village — goes right through Tompkins Square — and Lower East Side, plus Roosevelt Island, Astoria and Long Island City. ... As for the swarm of judicial candidates, we were most interested in Kathryn Freed, who, after putting in her dues as a Municipal Court judge, is aiming for a seat on the bench of State Supreme Court. Is it just all about the money? we asked her. Not at all, she answered, noting the pay is just a bit more. The reason, she said simply, is “more-interesting cases.” (P.S., and we don’t think this question will come up during the judicial screening panel, but Freed’s favorite TV show is “Stargate,” which we think is kind of cool.) ... Meanwhile, Arthur Schwartz, who was wearing his hat as a member of the State Democratic Committee at the fundraiser, continued to stick by his idea of using Pier 40, at W. Houston St., as the site of a future Village hospital. (Did somebody say, “science fiction?” Just kidding... .) Schwartz, of course, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the tenants association of the Robert Fulton Houses in Chelsea and ACORN, seeking to block the state’s funding for an urgent-care center in the West Village in the wake of St. Vincent’s Hospital’s closing on April 30. “I’m getting a lot of good response to the Pier 40 idea,” Schwartz maintained. Like many, Schwartz had his own St. Vincent’s story, highlighting the benefits of having a community hospital, but also St. Vincent’s shortcomings compared to other Manhattan hospitals. On Halloween night ’06, Schwartz went to St. Vincent’s with chest pains. He was admitted, and after resting there two days, felt better and left. After subsequently getting checked out, he was told he needed heart surgery, but chose to have it done, not at St. Vincent’s, but Cornell Medical Center on the Upper East Side, which, he raved, is an incredible, state-of-the-art health facility. ... We were glad to see the new presidents of D.I.D. and Village Reform Democratic Club — Jeanne Wilcke and Luke Henry, respectively — getting along grandly at the fundraiser. Henry, who lives on the Lower East Side, is pretty progressive — especially for V.R.D.C. — we noted. Actually, he said, he’s even farther left than that. ... Last but not least, Sweeney gave us a tour of his loft — and he wasn’t kidding about having to view “Donald Trump’s erection” every day from his balcony; The Donald’s new Spring St. hotel really sticks up on the vista like a sore...thumb. Former City Council candidate Pete Gleason noticed some high school and college yearbooks on a shelf and cajoled Sweeney to pull them out. Sweeney had to show us the photo of Rudy Giuliani in a yearbook from Bishop Loughlin High School, where the former mayor was in the Class of ’61, two years ahead of Sweeney. Sweeney scoffed that Giuliani listed “weightlifting” as one of his activities, the Soho activist noting that no one pumped iron back then.
He can do Schumer:
After Saturday’s “Hands Around St. Vincent’s” event, we asked comic-turned-candidate Randy Credico if he had his Chuck Schumer impression down yet. He promptly whipped out and donned a pair of black half-eyeglasses (unfortunately, he had recently broken the arm off on one side of them), and launched into a monologue about how great Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was. As he spoke, he bent over a bit, and started pumping his fist sort of half-heartedly. “He’s got such terrible body language,” he said of Schumer. Well, he can poke fun at the senator, but Credico has a tough task ahead of him — collecting 15,000 petition signatures in order to run against him in the September Democratic primary. “I will definitely get on the ballot,” he vowed.
Issues with alcohol:
In an update on the New York City Motorcycle Federation — which has been the target of 10 Downing St. neighbors’ noise complaints — Community Board 2 last month strongly recommended denying a renewal of the place’s beer-and-wine license. The board’s resolution said the license must have been issued “in error.” First, the motorcycle couture shop/cafe doesn’t offer any food, which is a requirement for a beer-and-wine license, according to C.B. 2. In addition, N.Y.C.M.F. exceeded its agreed-to seating arrangement of eight outdoor chairs, the board charged. Also, the place advertised a live music event, which it shouldn’t have been holding in the first place, the resolution continued. To top it all off, the premises doesn’t have a “contiguous bathroom” available for customers; customers — and those attending the cafe’s Friday night moto-minglers — must walk down the block to the entrance of 10 Downing St., where they leave their ID with the doorman, then are escorted to an elevator, which takes them to a bathroom in the basement. ... In another contentious alcohol-related issue, Donna Karan is seeking a liquor license for her Stephan Weiss Studio, at Greenwich and Charles Sts. Named for her late sculptor husband, who used it as his personal studio, the space now hosts Karan’s Urban Zen yoga affairs, but also the occasional major media-event-type bash, which drive neighbors to distraction. Last May, as reported in The Villager, a Def Jam launch party with Rihanna and a band fittingly called The Noisettes had one enervated neighbor reportedly threatening to come over and start shooting — although he later denied it. Anyway, apparently getting cold feet, fearing C.B. 2 might nix the application, Karan’s people withdrew it last month, but reportedly will make another try.
Hats off to new skatepark:
We went by the new Chelsea section of Hudson River Park over the weekend, and checked out the new skatepark. The skaters were having a great time — but most of them weren’t wearing protective helmets, including the guy on rollerblades with the long black hair doing huge backflips in the bowl. A sign by the door notes that helmets must be worn, and that skateboarding is inherently dangerous, but that the area is unsupervised. We would say, “Lawsuit waiting to happen,” but the sign basically says the skaters are taking their lives into their own hands, so… . We spoke to Armando, 46, a skateboarder and artist from Fort Lee, N.J., who grew up in Manhattan, who said the skatepark is incredible, not to mention free. He looked about 25, so “shredding” must keep you young.
Bakery’s heating up:
Jenny Klion tells us business is really starting to boom at her Bakery 44, especially after her column about it in last week’s issue of The Villager. But she wanted to let readers know that the bakery, at the stoop of 44 Jane St., will be closed Sun., June 6, and Sun., June 20, “due to end-of-school-year celebrations — Judy is an amazing dancer!” Otherwise, it will be open as usual, Sundays 10 a.m. to noon — donations only.