Downtown Express, Feb. 26, 2015

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Downtown Express, Feb. 26, 2015

Transcript of Downtown Express, Feb. 26, 2015

  • VOLUME 27, NUMBER 19 FEBUARY 26-MARCH 11, 2015


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    Assemblymember Sheldon Silver has been mostly quiet since he was arrested last month for illegally raking in $4 million

    according to the U.S. Attorney, but he continues to send one message to the people of Lower Manhattan: I still represent you.

    Thats essentially what he said in two prepared statements to this paper, the first two weeks ago, and then again Monday.

    The second one was a response that came only about an hour after Downtown Express posted an article about his appearance at Chinatowns Lunar New Year parade Sunday.

    Right after he lost his speakers position four weeks ago, it was unclear how he would continue to represent the district. He did not send a representative to Community Board 1s meeting Feb. 5, but soon after he began making it clear that he planned to continue his work.

    A week later, he said his Lower Manhattan School Overcrowding Task Force would keep going.

    School overcrowding and ensur-ing children are able to thrive in our schools remains a top priority, and the Task Force will contin-ue its work under my leadership, Silver, said in a Feb. 12 statement. I and my staff will continue to

    Continued on page 3

    Downtown Express photo by Milo Hess

    Ram, sheep or goat? Whatever, Lunar New Year rolls in with styleMany thousands came to celebrate the start of Lunar New Year 4713 in Chinatown with lion dragon dancers and at least one vintage car. Its the Year of the Ram, Sheep or Goat, depending on the how the Chinese word yang is interpreted. F.Y.I., Margaret Chin, Chinatowns councilmember, is in the ram camp. More photos, P. 8.

  • 2 February 26-March 11, 2015 February 26-March 11, 2015

    SILVER SPECULATIONWith Shelly Silver out as Assembly

    speaker and under indictment, there natu-rally has been some scuttlebutt as to who might run for his Assembly seat if it opens up, but not nearly as much as we would have guessed.

    Even if Silver beats the rap, he could very well decide not to run for reelection next year, and if he pleads or is convicted he would have no choice.

    Were not surprised Democratic dis-trict leader Paul Newell told the New York Post he is considering a run. In addi-tion to challenging Silver in 2008, Newell told UnderCover two years ago he was ready to run for state senate if Sen. Daniel Squadron was successful in his run for public advocate. He also told us then that rather than a run for the City Council, Albany was the place he wanted to be.

    Jenifer Rajkumar, the Democratic district leader who did run for the afore-mentioned City Council seat in 2013, has also been talked about as a Silver replace-ment, but were far less certain.

    She didnt comment, and Newell didnt return our call Paul, were wondering if it was something we said.

    Lastly, theres Julie Menin, the former Community Board 1 chairperson, but thats another one were doubtful about.

    As it turns out, Menin swung by our offices last week to talk about what shes up to as the new commissioner of Consumer Affairs.

    We felt sure she wouldnt want to talk about the Silver seat although we appreci-ated our friend for asking anyway you never know. We thought the old job interview question where do you see yourself in 10 years might get us some-thing since she wouldnt have to undercut her boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and could assume his reelection, but alas, she told us she was focused on her current job.

    To be continued, perhaps.

    SEAPORT TALKThe City Council confirmed

    Wellington Chen to the Landmarks Preservation Commission two weeks ago, although its still not clear if he will be able

    to deliberate on the South Street Seaport development application when it reaches the commission.

    Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp., has taken a strong interest in the Seaport, and is friendly with some of the plans opponents, although it does not appear he has taken a position on the project.

    Chen told us hell let lawyers with L.P.C. and the Conflict of Interest board determine what he should do.

    Were not sure when the Howard Hughes Corp. plan will get to Landmarks. The main reason for the holdup now appears to be that Hughes doesnt know what the Pier 16 building for the South Street Seaport Museum will look like because the museum hasnt told the firm what it wants.

    Captain Jonathan Boulware, the museums interim president, told us the museum is close to finalizing a conceptual design for the building, but he wasnt sure when that would be.


    UNDERGROUNDIf youve been wishing for an end to the

    constant reminders from subway conduc-tors to move to the front of Downtown 1

    trains, file this one under be careful what you wish for.

    You see relief is in sight this year, but not the sort you probably were hoping for. You see the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to begin shutting down the 1 south of Chambers St. in 2015 so it can finally begin renovating the Cortlandt St. station under the World Trade Center.

    This work is not connected to reopen-ing the newer, South Ferry station plat-form which is long enough to allow all subway cars to open. That one was dam-aged almost three years ago as a result of Hurricane Sandy. It could reopen in 2017.

    Cortlandt St., severely damaged on 9/11 14 years ago has been held up by W.T.C. construction and a fund-ing dispute between the M.T.A. and Port Authority.

    This week the dispute was resolved and the M.T.A. tells us the 1 will have intermittent closures starting this year, but the exact schedule is still to be deter-mined. The closures could last until 2018, when Cortlandt is expected to open.

    We snark because we love itd be nice if something like the Move NY tolling plan by Gridlock Sam Schwartz, a.k.a. our own Transit Sam, moved across the finish line so the M.T.A. would have money to do even better projects faster.

    serve our community, providing high level constituent services and making sure we have the resources we need in order for our neighborhoods to remain vibrant.

    Silvers task force, which includes principals and Downtown school advo-cates generated citywide headlines four years ago as the setting of Schools Chancellor Cathie Blacks infamous joke about birth control, which led to her resignation soon after her hiring, but it is better known to Downtown school advocates and parents as the place to get timely information about kindergarten waiting lists and to press the case to the Dept. of Education to build more schools.

    The advocates and Silver played a leading role in finding the sites for the three Lower Manhattan ele-mentary schools that have opened in the last six years P.S./I.S. 276, Spruce Street and Peck Slip schools and got the D.O.E. to open them early in incubator space in its Tweed headquarters.

    So at least by appearances, not a lot has changed yet in Lower Manhattan, but in Albany, where Silver was one of the powerful three men in a room for two decades, the difference has appar-ently been more obvious.

    Silver is now relegated to a desk in the back of the Assembly cham-

    bers, like a freshman Democrat in a new class of lawmakers, Bob Hardt, NY1s political director, wrote in a post calling for Silver to resign. He remains a living object lesson to his colleagues about flying too close to a sun if the sun was made of a big ball of money.

    For his part, Silvers district office director, Paul Goldstein, stayed on message Tuesday night, telling C.B. 1 members, he is still your Assemblyman

    Our office is open and opera-tional and anyone who has any issues, anyone who has any personal

    concerns, do not hesitate to contact me, to contact our office.

    At the New Year parade Sunday, Silver said, Im thrilled to be here with you here today to celebrate this occasion, according to The Lo-Down, a Lower East Side blog. I am honored to continue to represent this Chinatown community.

    Two parade attendees told Downtown Express that they did not hear any heckles or criticism directed at Silver. One said he heard a few calls of good luck.

    The former speaker walked with other politicians waving to the crowd,

    as he does most years for Chinatowns biggest event.

    This year, the list marching with him included Letitia James, the citys public advocate, as well as two Downtown pols State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Councilmember Margaret Chin.

    Silver, who was indicted last week and pleaded not guilty this, main-tains he will be vindicated.

    One staff member has left, but there appear to be no other departures so far.

    Jason Fink, who was Silvers com-munications coordinator, started a new job as deputy press secretary with the citys Dept. of Education this week.

    Fink will focus on some of the same education issues he had been handling under Silver.

    One source said the assumption is that Silver will be asked to downsize his office and move, but its not clear when that will be. Another source not connected to Silver said not sur-prisingly, at least a few other Silver staffers are looking for new jobs.

    The parade was Silvers second public event in his Lower Manhattan district since he lost his leadership post. The first was last Thursday to celebrate the actual start of the Lunar