Volume 74, Number 36 | January 12 - 18, 2005

Scoopy’s notebook

Barkeep keeps helping: East Village watering hole Sophie’s on E. Fifth St. hasn’t seen Shane O’Sullivan for six months. That’s because the popular bartender, who’s worked at Sophie’s for 15 years, has been in Phuket, Thailand, where he spends time every year. While there on vacation, O’Sullivan suffered through the recent tsunami disaster and has stayed to help out his friends there. He called Sophie’s recently to check in and tell everyone he’s O.K., but his spirits weren’t too high. The bar doesn’t have any contact information for O’Sullivan, and he told them that finding a working phone has been difficult.

What a trip(pi): He turned a long-shot candidate into a frontrunner in Howard Dean. Now, cutting-edge campaign manager Joe Trippi is taking on another dark horse, as general consultant for Brian Ellner’s Manhattan borough president race. Trippi said Ellner will bring a “new and open approach” to the office, as opposed to established candidates’ top-down way of doing business. The Dean campaign revolutionized the use of the Internet for fundraising, but Trippi said the Web won’t be as important in the low-turnout Manhattan race. Trippi lives in Maryland, but said he’ll be in the area several times a week for his gig in Secaucus, N.J., as an MSNBC analyst. It was Trippi’s old pal P.R. guru Ethan Geto who hooked him up with Ellner. Trippi, in turn, had put Geto in touch with Dean — with Geto, of course, becoming Dean’s New York State campaign manager. As for his former boss’s quest to be Democratic National Committee chairperson, Trippi said he thinks Dean is too “ideological.” “I think Dean would make a great U.S. senator, but I think there are better candidates for party chair,” he said. “It’s hard for someone as ideological as he is to hold everything together.” Trippi said he’ll be putting out a press release in “24 to 48 hours” announcing who he supports for the post. Of course, Dean forced Trippi out of his campaign by hiring a second campaign manager. Trippi said he wasn’t technically fired, but that from experience he knew two campaign managers can’t steer the same ship…. So was it Dean’s Iowa yelp that did his campaign in? “No, no, no,” Trippi said. “We were done way before that — that was the finishing blow.”

Excuses, excuses: We hear The Villager’s recent report on the Conflicts of Interest Board’s advisory opinion on Bob Rinaolo’s chairing of Community Board 2’s Business Committee — and his subsequent resignation as committee chairperson — has created quite a buzz among board members. One board member privately said he is aghast that Jim Smith, the board’s chairperson, has granted Rinaolo a three-month leave to go to Florida. Four unexcused absences in a year constitute grounds for removal from the board. However, Smith stressed to The Villager that Rinaolo’s absences are excused. “‘Unexcused’ is the key word,” Smith wrote in an e-mail. “It has been my policy (and the policy of all my predecessors that I’ve known) to mark members ‘excused’ when there is reason for the member to be away and he so advises me or the office. The reason may be health or family responsibilities or other personal concerns. Without such considerations by me and other board chairpersons over the years there would have been moves to sever such past and present luminaries as Keith Crandell, the late Tony Dapolito, Ed Gold, Arthur Schwartz, the revered Verna Small and many, many others…. Whatever absences [of Rinaolo’s] occur will be excused absences,” Smith said. Asked specifically why Rinaolo was being excused, Smith said, “I don’t discuss members’ personal business in the press, not in public, nor at board meetings and not even in private unless the other party is the one with the personal business and he or she wants to discuss it with me. Suffice it to say, I may excuse a member for what I consider good cause.” Rinaolo previously told The Villager his reason for going to Florida, but requested it remain off the record. He did not return calls at his Garage restaurant or his home on Monday and Tuesday asking him to state publicly the reason for his three-month hiatus…. Smith says the decision for Rinaolo to step down as Business Committee chairperson “was taken on Dec. 10 and recorded by e-mail.” However, when The Villager spoke to Rinaolo on Dec. 17, he didn’t give the impression he was officially stepping down — only stating the following Monday, Dec. 20, that he had done so. “He can be a bit slow at opening his e-mail,” noted Smith…. Meanwhile, Brad Hoylman, the only board member who could conceivably challenge Rinaolo in his planned bid for chairperson of the board, which is heavily pro-Rinaolo, said: “I’m sure the board will be fully briefed as to the details of this matter — but I haven’t heard anything yet.”…. At orientations for new community board members, Borough President C. Virginia Fields’ office advises that members shouldn’t chair committees in their industry; for instance — in an example Rinaolo himself noted was given at a recent orientation — architects shouldn’t chair zoning committees. Asked about David Reck, an architect, chairing C.B. 2’s zoning committee, Smith said Reck doesn’t really work as an architect anymore and that his income is mainly rent from his Hudson Sq. building. As a result, Smith said, it’s “not likely” Reck would have potential clients coming before the board. The Villager finally tracked down Reck — who hadn’t responded to phone calls — at District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s campaign bash at the Ear Inn on Spring St. Tuesday evening. “I have no comment for The Villager,” he said…. Asked his take on the conflict mishegoss, District Leader Arthur Schwartz noted it was he who originally suggested Rinaolo seek appointment to Board 2. “I liked how he revived the Chamber of Commerce when he was its chairperson. There was good energy there,” said Schwartz, noting that as a local attorney he’s a Chamber member…. Sean Sweeney, president of Downtown Independent Democrats and a Board 2 member, also at the Morgy soiree, was more blunt about The Villager’s recent exposé. “They were trying to hide it,” he said.

One ringy dingy: Rocio Sanz of Community Board 2 and Tio Pepe restaurant on W. Fourth St. is doing fundraising for Borough President Fields’ mayoral campaign.

More trouble in BAMRAlot: Lois Rakoff, former district leader candidate and current resident co-chairperson of Bleecker Area Residents and Merchants Association, who was also — you guessed it — at the Morgenthau party, said Charlie Wolf is suing BAMRA to collect $5,000 to $6,000 from the expense account he ran up as her predecessor. BAMRA only agreed to pay him $2,900 of the sum, she said. Rakoff said The Post had called her for comment earlier that day but she blew them off, wanting to give us the scoop. “I don’t know how they found out about it — but you come first,” she told The Villager. “You’re us.”

Gettin’ loco: We hear the Lower East Side Squatter Homesteader Archives Project show closing party at Sixth St. Community Center was packed and that Gringo Loco was burning up the turntables. Crowd favorites that got everyone dancing were two antiwar tunes — Moby and Public Enemy’s “Make Love, F—k War” and Green Day’s “American Idiot.” We hear Father Frank Morales told Loco he’s got to D.J. sometime soon at an event at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery.

Can you write? The Villager is seeking regular columnists as well as occasional column submissions. Columnists preferably should live in the area and write about concerns and issues of local importance and/or interest. Ideally, the writer would submit a column up to twice a month or at least once a month. Contact Lincoln@thevillager.com, including writing samples, with a resume/brief bio. Or send by regular mail to The Villager, Attn: Lincoln Anderson, 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A, New York City, NY 10013.

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