Scoopy’s Notebook


Opening date T.B.D: A reader, in a letter to the editor, recently basically blamed The Villager for the fact that Washington Square Park’s renovated section hasn’t been reopened yet, saying it was the paper’s fault. So, we asked the Parks Department exactly when the park’s spruced-up section will be open to the public. Cristina deLuca, a department spokesperson, said, “The first phase of the renovation is not yet complete. The renovated section is still on schedule to open this spring.” Asked if Parks could be a bit more precise, deLuca said, “No, unfortunately, we don’t have an exact opening date. I can assure you that I will let you know as soon as we have one, since you have been following this story from the beginning.”

Oliva extravaganza: New York University recently feted its president emeritus L. Jay Oliva on the 50th anniversary of his association with the school. The bash started with a gala performance in the theater at the Kimmel Center, complete with a performance by another famous N.Y.U. alum, Neil Diamond. Lucy Cecere, local seniors super-advocate, said the entire affair and Diamond’s show were simply terrific. “He came up and down the aisle, and we clapped and clapped,” she said of the “Sweet Caroline” crooner. Oliva was N.Y.U.’s president from 1991 to 2002, after previously having spent more than three decades in academic and administrative positions at the university…. On another note, Cecere said she is so glad that the city final put up a tall plywood fence around the Village’s No. 1 eyesore, the vacant 43 MacDougal St., down the block from Something Special, her husband Lenny’s store. “Did you do that?” she asked us. No, it wasn’t us, but we’re glad too to see the bright blue fence in place. However, the Ceceres said they recently spied a man throw a garbage bag full of stuff onto the building’s roof, then scramble up after it, so it seems there’s still at least one homeless person living there.

Hey, I’m running too! The Villager’s article on the April 2 Village Independent Democrats club’s political candidates forum stated that City Councilmember Rosie Mendez seemed pretty “relaxed” because she doesn’t have an opponent in the Democratic primary election. After reading the article, however, Dodge Landesman, subsequently notified us that Mendez does have an opponent — him. “For some reason, I wasn’t invited or even informed of the debate, though I would’ve gone if I knew about it. (I’m debating Mendez this Wednesday at the G.L.I.D. forum),” Landesman e-mailed us. Landesman is certainly a unique candidate. Only 18 and still in high school, his campaign Web site notes he might be the youngest candidate ever to run for the New York City Council. He says he was inspired by Barack Obama to aspire to public office.

Mayoral mega-forum: Former District Leader Aubrey Lees gave us the heads up on another hotly anticipated candidates forum: A virtual gathering of the tribes of local gay Democratic political clubs is sponsoring a mayoral candidates forum Thurs., April 16, at N.Y.U.’s Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Confirmed participants are Anthony Weiner, Bill Thompson and Tony Avella. Hey, will somebody — we don’t care from which club or even if it’s Lees’s dachshund Harry — please ask Weiner whether he is or isn’t running already?

Political intrigue is D.I.D.: Sean Sweeney clarified what those “Gleason campaign materials” were that we noticed him so openly displaying on a clipboard about four months ago. The Downtown Independent Democrats Club president said he was merely trying to get people to make $10 campaign contributions to Pete Gleason’s City Council campaign to help him reach a total of 75 contributors — which would qualify Gleason for public matching funds under the city’s campaign finance program. Sweeney, who said he only got six people to ante up, believes Gleason has reached that magic number anyway by now. He conceded those forms could be dubbed “campaign materials.” “At the time, I felt that Alan Gerson needed an opponent with some serious money from C.F.B. — a 6-to-1 match — to present a challenge,” Sweeney explained. “Actually, I was opposing Gerson, rather than supporting Gleason,” he added. Sweeney also noted, in disbelief, that Gerson does not have a campaign Web site yet. (Déjà vu: Will Gleason try to acquire all of Gerson’s top-level domain names, as he did to onetime anticipated opponent Julie Menin? We shall see… .) Indeed, alangerson.com belongs to an artist whose specialty appears to be extremely childlike, stick-figure paintings. “You couldn’t make this up if you tried!” chortled Sweeney. (Even though it was only an e-mail, we could definitely tell he was chortling.) Steven Stites, Gerson’s freshly hired campaign spokesperson, acknowledged that the councilmember doesn’t have his own site yet, but will soon. “It will be launching in the next few weeks,” Stites confirmed. “It could be worse — he’s not infamous, an ax murderer,” Stites said of Alan Gerson, the artist, whose site pops up for alangerson.com. Stites also confirmed that Avi Turkel, a former Gerson aide, is poised to mount a challenge against District Leader Adam Silvera. Silvera recently told us he was definitely “leaning against” endorsing Gerson, while Gleason told us Silvera recently gave him a $100 check. “I know that he’s testing the water,” Stites said of Turkel. Asked if Gerson would back Turkel against Silvera, Stites said, “I believe the councilmember would be supportive of Avi’s run — but he hasn’t endorsed yet.” As for D.I.D.’s all-important endorsement in the Council race, that will occur shortly after Memorial Day. Meanwhile, the first club endorsement in the contest was recently made by the Lower East Side Democratic Club, which went for Gerson. Showing he could be a good weapon for Gerson — Stites, who is part of State Committeeman Arthur Schwartz’s political campaign consulting group — took a pop at Gleason, calling his campaign “gimmicky.” Whoa, was he talking about Gleason’s pen and nail-file tchotchkes? “I’m referring to all the things that Gleason talks about that aren’t about the issues,” Stites said.

‘Elvis has left the building’: Lower East Side Slacktivist leader John Penley has left the East Village. … Penley recently called us from, not Newark, but Erie, Pa., where he has moved after all, returning to his original escape-from-New York plan. “Hey man, I’m in Erie,” he said in a voice mail. “The day before I got up here, there were 96 or 97 underage drinkers in the bar and the place got raided. Inspectors came in and the whole building got condemned. It was like squatting — for two weeks we worked like dogs to get the building back up to code. Anyway, I’m here. I’m staying, and I’ll see what happens.”