Kennedy got new club’s nod;,Lee was doing the D.M.’s job

A Jan. 3, 1980, Villager article headlined “A Master Chef in a Bureaucratic Kitchen” profiled Rita Lee, Community Board 2’s district manager. Lee received calls on a daily basis from residents and businesspersons alike that consisted of complaints, questions and comments — but sometimes people just called to chat.

Lee asserted that sanitation was the major problem facing the Village at the time, and that the figures didn’t always match the facts.

“There are 20 trucks and 101 men assigned to the Village. But 15 to 30 of them are permanently detached to Queens, some are out sick, some are on leave, and others have time coming to them,” said Lee. “Besides that, many trucks are broken at any one time.”

Lee felt that a study of sanitation habits could solve the problem, and that they could, “come up with things that they [the Sanitation Dept.] have never thought of.”

Environmental issues, such as noise pollution, sewer backups, broken hydrants and air pollution, were at the top of the list of complaints fielded by the District Manager’s Office, along with problems regarding transportation.

Reporter Beth Knobel wrote that the hard-working “48-year-old Libran” could not even find a Village apartment for herself, her two cats and her two daughters on the salary that her position paid, and resided in Washington Heights at the time.

A news item in the same issue reported that the New Village Democrats were the first Downtown club to endorse Ted Kennedy for president, and launched a volunteer drive to help his candidacy. The Village Reform Democratic Club endorsed President Carter the week before, and the Village Independent Democrats voted “no endorsement,” but a 25-signature petition to repeal that vote requested that V.I.D. reopen the issue.

(Speaking to The Villager this week, Ed Gold, a founding member of V.I.D., said he had a vague recollection that New Village Democrats was just a club formed to give more support to Kennedy at the time, and soon after went out of existence.)

Helaina N. Hovitz