A quick update on the campaign for a Chinatown Business Improvement District. Last night, Community Boards 1 and 2 gave their respective blessings to the proposal. The CB1 vote was unanimous, but the board was one short of a quorum (according to BID backers a quorum is not required). As expected, one member of CB2 (Soho activist Sean Sweeney) abstained. The resolution included language asking the BID steering committee to consider excluding the west side of Lafayette, between Grand and Broome, from the proposed business district.
Jeanne Wilcke. Photo from Soho Politics
One of Lower Manhattan’s most influential political clubs elected new officers last night. Jeanne Wilcke is the new president of the Downtown Independent Democrats. She replaces Sean Sweeney, who becomes treasurer. Adam Silvera and Jim Stratton were chosen as vice presidents. Alex Li, who was tweeting from the event, will serve as secretary. The meeting was apparently a rather civilized affair.
We've received an email from the president of the Downtown Independent Democrats, clarifying one of several bizarre incidents that occurred at the political club's June 2nd endorsement meeting. We previously reported that challenger Pete Gleason won the endorsement over City Councilman Alan Gerson. In the press release wrapping up the dramatic evening (more on that in a moment), Sweeney (a Gerson detractor) wrote:
Tensions ran very high throughout the evening. In one
instance, Luke Henry, a ringer from Gerson's VRDC Executive Board,
attempted to vote, only to be discovered and have his ballot shredded
as he attempted to place it in the ballot box.
In his email to us late last week, Sweeney explained there had been a misunderstanding:
some 124 voters there was a lot of confusion, and one of our members,
Luke Henry, asked if he could vote and I said, amidst all the turmoil:
"Certainly." Someone then noted that Luke had voted at VRDC. When we
brought this up to him, he readily admitted it and surrendered the
ballot when I informed him that DID has a rule that an individual can
only vote in one club. I also made the erroneous assumption that Luke
was sent in by VRDC to vote for Gerson. I later discovered that I was
incorrect in that assumption, an assumption made in haste and released
to the press in the wake of a tumultuous meeting.
The Lo-Down did not refer to the press release in our recounting of the meeting, but several days later, we mentioned an article in Tenant Planet.org that linked to it. Got that? Now on to the really surreal stuff.
For the past week, local political reporters have been trying to sort out a quote "physical showdown" between Councilman Gerson and Gil Horowitz, a 72-year old member of the club. According to the reports (City Hall News, Downtown Express), Gerson rushed over to defend his 84-year old mother Sophie, who was having an argument with Horowitz.
Horowitz said Gerson "grabbed me and hurled me about 20 feet away." Gerson has told reporters that there may have been some contact with Horowitz as he attempted to separate him from his mother, but there was certain;y no "physical altercation." At any rate, Horowitz threatened to call the cops – Gerson said something like "go ahead," and even handed Horowitz his cell phone. Horowitz was unamused: he threw the phone against a wall, with "all the force I could muster," he says. Amazingly, a lot of people at the meeting didn't even hear the incident. Just another routine night in the First District Council race, I guess.
The Downtown Independent Democrats (DID) voted last night to endorse challenger Pete Gleason in the First District City Council primary against incumbent Alan Gerson. We received a late night email from the club's president, Sean Sweeney, saying the vote was 64-52. In some ways, the result was not a surprise. Some political insiders were taken aback two weeks ago when Gerson barely squeaked out a win at the endorsement meeting of his home club, the Village Reform Democratic Club. But Gleason, a former cop and firefighter (now an attorney), is a favorite son of the DID. Sweeney has been openly critical of Gerson, saying he does not serve his constituents effectively. Other members were upset that Gerson supported Mayor Bloomberg's bid to extend term limits. But in the last few weeks, Gerson had been packing the club with his supporters. We'll have more details later.