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Scoopy’s Notebook, March 28, 2013

Publication: The Villager

THIS TIME, IT’S NOT ABOUT FRIENDS: Arthur Schwartz has announced he’s running for male Democratic district leader for Greenwich Village, the West Village and South Chelsea, a position he held from 1995 to 2005. Saying his experience in politics left him cynical, Schwartz said he “had to take a break and step aside” in ’05 because state Senator Tom Duane, who he thought was his friend, and City Councilmember Christine Quinn “had chosen Brad Hoylman to be the next city councilperson for our community” — district leader being the first step on Hoylman’s climb up the ladder. Schwartz never ran for higher office himself, saying that his duties as a dad — he remarried and started a second family in 2003 — always kept him from doing so. Nevertheless, Schwartz said, “I was annoyed that I didn’t even receive a celebratory dinner for 10 years of hard work bringing the Duane/Quinn agenda to the local community and helping turn out huge numbers to vote in elections.” Meanwhile, Jon Geballe was recently voted in by the County Committee to fill Hoylman’s district leader seat, now that Hoylman has succeeded Duane in the state Senate. But Schwartz charged that Geballe won’t challenge local elected officials on the issues, but that he, Schwartz, will. For example, Schwartz said, “N.Y.U. has rolled over the Central Village, without much real resistance from elected officials. Yes, one elected led marches around Washington Square, but in the end, those in power were outmaneuvered by the university. A natural gas pipeline (the Spectra pipeline) will soon be running across Hudson River Park and West St. at 13th St. Local residents are horrified, but other than lip service, little has been done by electeds to stop it. I could go on and on. … The intractable deadlock over Hudson River Park and Pier 40. … I have no inhibition about challenging our elected leaders to be more responsive to their communities, and the position of district leader will give me more of a bully pulpit to do that. The status quo just isn’t good enough.”

“I JUST CAN’T SMILE WITHOUT BID”: As she continues her relentless drive to create a Christopher St. Partnership business improvement district, Jessica Berk reports the fledgling group recently got its first “celebrity like” — as in a “like” by a celebrity — on its Facebook page, by none other than Barry Manilow. The romantic, swoon-inducing crooner doesn’t even live in New York, but Berk is taking it. “We need a lot more support than Barry Manilow,” she said, adding, “If you really want to know, I’m waiting for calls back from David Geffen and Marc Jacobs, who I hope will do a T-shirt for us. Philip Seymour Hoffman, he lives in my building, he said, ‘Yes.’ Billy Joel supports the BID — I talked to him about it while I was walking my dog. He used to have a townhouse on Perry St. before he got divorced.” Hugh Jackman also, at some point, signed something saying he was in favor of the idea, Berk claims. Anyway, she’s planning a meeting about the proposed district, dubbed “Can Christopher St. Be Saved?” on Tues., April 9, at 7 p.m., at St. John’s Lutheran Church, at 81 Christopher St. “This is the first meeting, there are no rules for it,” she said. “We’ll see what happens.” Who knows? Maybe someday she’ll be able to say, “Looks like we maaade it!”

NOHO BACK IN THE FOLD: Thanks to Councilmember Margaret Chin, Noho has rejoined Soho in Council District 1. According to her communications director, Kelly Magee, Chin spoke to the Redistricting Commission and convinced them to reunite the adjacent enclaves, which share a joint live-work quarters zoning for artists. Jeanne Wilcke, president of Downtown Independent Democrats, said their lobbying the councilmember on the issue paid off. “Chin spoke to the commission — and voila! There we are,” she said. “I personally thanked Chin when I ran into her, as she immediately told me the news. As these two communities were founded together and have the same unique zoning, a future divided would have been precarious. The Noho Neighborhood Association in particular is relieved that Noho will not be divided from its sister district, Soho.” Said Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, “Truly it is said, ‘The squeaky wheel gets the oil.’ It is gratifying that the councilmember was able to preserve these two long-standing ‘communities of interest,’ basically the same neighborhood sharing a common history, demographic, architecture and zoning, simply intersected by a large thoroughfare, Houston St.”

MEATPACKING CHEDDAR: On Mon., March 18, the nonprofit Meatpacking District Improvement Association hosted its first annual fundraiser, OPEN MARKET, a shopping, dining and music extravaganza at Highline Stages. The confab featured the participation of nearly all the district’s retail, restaurant, hospitality and cultural businesses. Co-chaired by DVF’s Diane von Furstenberg  and Andrew Rosen, C.E.O. of Theory, together above, the event brought together hundreds of guests along with some of the most influential names in fashion, nightlife and real estate. All the proceeds went to M.P.I.A.’s continuing efforts to improve the neighborhood through public initiatives. Vintage Meatpacking District-style sample sale booths were hosted by DVF, Theory, Rag & Bone, Tory Burch, Helmut Lang and others. The Standard Highline, Tippler, Morimoto and Del Posto, among others, provided food and drink. A silent auction was held featuring a holiday getaway to Turks and Caicos from Ganservoort Hotel Group, JetBlue flight packages, a Rag & Bone shopping spree and more. “The Meatpacking District is New York’s epicenter of fashion, food, hospitality and nightlife and the only area where these industries converge, creating a truly unique commercial district that still continues to evolve,” said Lauren Danziger, M.P.I.A. executive director. “We are thrilled that so many of our friends gathered together to help host the first annual OPEN MARKET to support M.P.I.A.’s efforts.”

DE BLASIO BLAZING HIS OWN TRAIL: At a forum of the Democratic mayoral candidates at Baruch College on March 20 sponsored by Gay City News, The Villager’s sister publication, Bill de Blasio was the only one of the five candidates to say he supports a ban on horse-drawn carriages in New York City. Also, de Blasio was the only candidate to declare he backs Mayor Bloomberg’s idea of portion caps for fountain sodas and other sugary drinks. (Scoopy reported last week that de Blasio advocates portion caps.)

IRONCLAD ENDORSEMENT: City Council candidate Yetta Kurland has nailed down the support of the Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46 and also of the steely members of the McManus Midtown Democratic Club.

ANSHE ANGST: Sandy Ackerman, son of Rabbi Pesach Ackerman, called us to say that our recent article on the residential conversion plan for Anshe Mezritch Synagogue, at 415 E. Sixth St., incorrectly stated that the synagogue would be moved down to “the basement.” In fact, this area is “just two steps down” and is essentially the ground floor, he stressed. Also, we hear there is a bit of controversy about the apparent plan for the Mezritch congregation to use the community room at Village View for their Shabbos services. We’re told that the Village View board voted to approve this, though at least one board member — President Adam Silvera — was reportedly “so unhappy” that it was reported in The Villager, and says it actually won’t be happening. We tried reaching Silvera without success.

CORRECTION: An obituary in last week’s issue on editor/writer Gerald Barry, who died March 13 at 90, incorrectly stated that he lived at the Kateri Residence the past two years. In fact, he lived at home in the Village until Feb. 2, when he went to Beth Israel Hospital with heart failure, and then transferred to the Kateri Residence for his last two weeks. “We were especially  adamant about caring for him at home in these last few years of illness,” said his wife, Sugar Barry. Also, Sugar said, Jerry’s family asked that donations in his memory be sent to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which was important to him and was where he often did research for his books and articles.

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