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Volume 78 – Number 40 / March 11 -17, 2009

West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy’s Notebook

From left, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Catherine Abate at Sheridan Square in September 2007. The photo-op seemed to be expressly set up to promote Abate as Morgy’s natural heir as D.A.

Abate D.A. bid D.O.A.? Among the handful of names being mentioned as contenders to succeed Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, one name is conspicuously absent. Four years ago, former State Senator Catherine Abate had indicated that, at some point, she might be interested in being the borough’s chief law woman. When Scoopy bumped into Abate back then at Village Independent Democrats’ Annual Dinner in May 2005, we had asked her if she was going to run for D.A. that year. “Not this time,” she said, quickly adding with a smile, “Next time.” Julie Nadel, who managed Morgenthau’s ’05 re-election campaign, had been one of Abate’s biggest backers then, saying she thought the former Downtown state senator would make an excellent district attorney in four years. Some photo opportunities were even promoted to raise the profile of Abate, who had been out of politics for a bit, having moved on to head Community Healthcare Network after losing her bid to be state attorney general. Well, four years has come and gone, believe it or not, and now that Morgy, who will turn 90 at the end of July, has announced this will be his last term in office, none of the media has been mentioning Abate. The former darling of Downtown Democrats, Abate told us she would make up her mind this week on whether to run. “I’ve talked to a lot of people, my family, advisers, supporters — I can’t put this off much longer,” she said. “Obviously, every time someone makes a decision to run, it’s personal and political.” It sounded like Abate has some personal or family matters to consider, but she declined to get into details. There’s no question that she’s eminently qualified. Before we knew it, she was rattling off her impressive résumé. “I have a strong record working in the community, I’ve run offices, run the New York City Correction Department — the biggest jail system in the country, maybe the world,” she said. “I have a broad, broad experience as a criminal lawyer for more than 13 years. I ran statewide for attorney general.” She’s on the board of several state agencies and commissions, she added. “And I was a state senator for four years,” she said, “I almost forgot that!” But did Abate’s political career, in fact, come to an end when she lost to Eliot Spitzer in the A.G. race? “They used to say one of us would be governor, and one wouldn’t, when Eliot and I were running for attorney general,” Abate mused. Just think about it: If only she had won that election, we never would have had to learn about Ashley Dupré, Client No. 9 and his thing for keeping his socks on in the sack… . Well, we certainly hope Abate does run for D.A. If anyone does, she certainly deserves a shot at it. But Arthur Schwartz, Greenwich Village Democratic state committeeman, said he thinks it’s unlikely Abate will go for it. “If you haven’t heard her name mentioned, that would indicate to me that she hasn’t thrown her hat in the ring,” he said. “It looks like she was outnumbered. Cyrus Vance and Richard Aborn both have half a million dollars. I’m sure Leslie Crocker Snyder has a lot. They have machines up. Aborn and Vance had put together a fundraising team and had been interviewing. Catherine hadn’t done that. It’s March, if she was thinking of doing it — but it’s probably too late.” State Senator Eric Schneiderman might be able to mount a challenge, too, Schwartz noted. “My guess is Eric has a lot of money,” he said. “I’m always getting invitations to his fundraisers. He would be supported by the Working Families Party.” It’s widely believed that Morgy is backing Vance. For her part, Nadel, the biggest booster of the “Abate for district attorney” push, didn’t return calls for comment.


State of the ‘state of’ addresses: It started with the borough presidents giving their State of the Borough reports and the City Council speaker giving a State of the City report, and now everyone, it seems, is following suit. Later this month, East Village City Councilmember Rosie Mendez will be giving her State of the District report Sun., March 29, at 4 p.m. at The Cooper Union’s Great Hall. The event is free and there will be refreshments. Elevating the “state of” address idea to an entirely new participatory plain, however, on Sun., March 15, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., at Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St., new State Senator Dan Squadron will hold the first-ever 25th Senate District Community Convention. Squadron will start by discussing pressing legislative issues, including the state budget, and lay out his vision for community and citizen involvement in government. Then, the attendees — “hundreds” are expected — will divide into moderator-led discussion groups that will gather input on more than two-dozen community issues, including housing, transportation, education and others. Squadron’s office will later produce a document outlining community priorities and advice, based on the constituent discussions on each issue, to be distributed in the district. “Government cannot happen separately from people’s everyday lives,” said Squadron. “The laws we make in Albany affect every resident of my district, and so I want to invite everyone to participate in the process. State government must be more open, more transparent and more accessible to the people of New York than ever before. I want to begin that era of openness at home in the 25th Senate District.” 


Corrections: The Villager’s article last week on the efforts to save Our Lady of Vilna Church on Broome St. in Soho from the wrecking ball incorrectly stated that attorney Harry Kresky did not represent the plaintiffs in a State Supreme Court case they lost in November 2008. He did represent them in that case, but there was a case a year earlier in which Kresky did not represent them. Also, one of the plaintiffs said we mischaracterized as “macrobiotic” the food that they enjoy during Sunday afternoon services outside the padlocked church. The food is organic, though not macrobiotic, and, most important, “It is hearty, East European fare!” she stressed. “And we don’t want people to stay away from our service because they think we’re serving macrobiotic.” An article in last week’s issue on East Village activist John Penley leaving his photo archives to N.Y.U.’s Tamiment Library stated that “Yippie Pie Man” Aron Kay threw a fire extinguisher because he doesn’t want to leave the Yippie Cafe and move to Newark. Kay replied on our Web site: “john this is baloney, i tossed my cane not a fire extinguisher on tuesdau [sic] nite at the yippie museum during a heavy argument which sparked off an overeaction which shouldnt have happened.”