Scoopy’s notebook

Riding into sunset? Rumors are that Robert Balachandran will be stepping down as C.E.O. and president of the Hudson River Park Trust within “30 to 60 days.” Balachandran will reportedly be taking a job in the private sector with financial firm Bear Stearns. The rumor comes from “a high-up source in state government.” A former legal counsel to Governor Pataki, Balachandran has held the top position on the Trust’s staff for the last four years, but recently ran into trouble trying to push through Pataki’s plan for an ice-skating rink in the park’s new Greenwich Village segment. Connie Fishman, the Trust’s vice president and number-two staff person, will likely be appointed interim president, with a good chance of being named permanent president. Balachandran’s departure would mark the second high-level change at the Trust in just six months. In May, after being appointed head of the Manhattan County Republican Committee, James Ortenzio stepped down as chairperson of the Trust’s board of directors to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Ortenzio left the Trust as the Pier 40 development process was starting to unravel. Chris Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, told Scoopy: “Where do you come up with this stuff? Rob is not leaving the Trust.”

Koch’s call: Former Mayor Ed Koch told Scoopy it was “a very close call,” but that he planned to vote No on nonpartisan elections when we talked to him early last week. “I would do better in [nonpartisan] primaries,” Koch said, reflecting on the issue as if he were running as a candidate. Koch said the “ultras” — ultraliberals and ultraconservatives — always come out to vote in primaries, which made it tougher for him to win. But he said moderates vote in general elections, in which he always won by bigger margins.

Diether unwanted — again: Board 2 member Doris Diether said her landlord, Francis Greenberger, head of Time Equities Realty, is hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Wednesday at Diether’s Waverly Pl. building. Of course, Diether, who endured a four-and-a-half-year renovation, during which she was the only tenant in the building, didn’t receive an invitation. It wasn’t known if Clinton would appear at the fundraiser.

Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! On Sun., Nov. 30, at 1 p.m. an honorary street sign for Joey Ramone will be put up at the corner of Second St. and the Bowery, a half block away from CBGB and the former “Ramones Loft” on Second St. that Joey, DeeDee Ramone and Arturo Vega, their lighting director, shared in the 1970s. There will be a celebration at CBGB, but at this time there are no plans for any bands to perform. Instead there will be speakers and testimonials from Joey’s friends, family and fans.

Carumba! Chipotle Mexican Grill will be opening on Nov. 21 at 19 St. Mark’s Pl. in the new building where the All-Craft Center used to be. To celebrate, the day before, on Thurs., Nov. 20, there will be free burritos and tacos all day, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The limit will be one per customer, but as Katherine Newell Smith, Chipotle spokesperson, put it, “You can’t eat more than one. Trust me.” As opposed to fastfood (which implies frozen, Smith said), Chipotle bills itself as “quick service,” serving up free-range pork, all-natural beef and all-natural chicken, with fresh guacamole made daily. You start with an 18” flour tortilla and the Chipotle staff builds the burrito for you assembly-line style. Smith said they hope to get a liquor license for beer and margaritas.

Corrections: At the end of Meg Griffin’s letter in last week’s Villager, the paper incorrectly identified her as a former FM radio deejay. Griffin, a deejay for 27 years, is still on the air daily in New York City and (as The Villager noted) also programs two national Sirius Satellite Radio channels, Organic Rock and Folktown…. In last week’s article on Noah Feldman, he was inadvertently identified as a New York School of Law professor; Feldman is a professor at New York University School of Law.

Wait on Progress: The Villager’s First Annual Progress Report has been postponed and tentatively rescheduled for April.