Scoopy’s Notebook


Bam at Cooper:

President Obama will be at The Cooper Union this Thursday morning to deliver remarks on Wall Street reform. The school didn’t provide the exact time of the speech by press time.

Leaving with flying colors:

Speaking of Cooper Union, Dr. George Campbell Jr., the school’s 11th president, will retire in June 2011, after 10 years at the helm. The announcement was made Tuesday by Mark Epstein, chairman of the elite East Village school’s board of trustees. “It has been an honor and a privilege to lead The Cooper Union, one of the most distinguished colleges in the country and one that provides every accepted student with a full-tuition scholarship,” Campbell said. “Together, we’ve strengthened the educational, technological and financial infrastructure of the college to create a framework to deliver 21st-century education in architecture, art and engineering.  We have met our strategic goals, while preserving the legacy of Peter Cooper, who founded this amazing institution 150 years ago.” Epstein noted that, under Campbell, Cooper Union now has the most competitive admissions in the college’s history, and is now among the most selective institutions of higher education in the world. “Under Dr. Campbell’s leadership, in partnership with the board,” Epstein said, “we have made capital investments of approximately $200 million recently, replacing almost 40 percent of what were aging facilities and renovating much of the remaining space. Our internationally acclaimed new building at 41 Cooper Square has been widely cited for its breathtaking design, advanced academic facilities and unprecedented sustainability features. In 2001, President Campbell led the institution in launching the Campaign for Cooper Union, which has yielded $190 million to date, nearly quadrupling the outcome of a previous campaign. The college, which gets no income from tuition, achieved a balanced operating budget for the first time in decades in 2008, and also rebuilt its endowment from a low of less than $100 million in 2001 to a high of $600 million.” 


Green day for Ray:

It took 26 years, but Ray Alvarez of Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A finally got his green card. When we stopped by his store on Friday night, he proudly pulled it out of his pocket to show us; the freshly ripped-open government envelope lay on the counter top behind him. “I am American. I feel born again!” Ray said. “Like born-again Christian!” he added jokingly. Getting the card, though, is no joke for Ray, since now, at age 77, he can at last qualify for Social Security payments, and hopefully start getting them soon. The card bears his given name, Asghar Ghahraman, and another interesting twist, that he was born, not in Turkey, but Iran. Ray admitted to us that he grew up, not in Izmir, on Turkey’s western coast, as he had always said, but actually 1,000 miles east of there in Tabriz, in a Turkish-speaking section of the Eastern Azerbaijan province in western Iran, near Turkey’s eastern border. Ray explained to us the tangled history of this area, how the Azerbaijanis and Armenians were fighting, so the Iranians called in the Turks to settle things down. “I always said I was Turkish, because since that hostage crisis in 1984, I didn’t want to be a part of that,” he explained. Actually, Ray was supposed to get his green card in the mail back in 1984 when former President Reagan offered illegal immigrants amnesty. “It went to the wrong address,” he said. “I gave them 133 E. Seventh St., because I was always looking at that when I went in. But really I live at 131 E. Seventh St.” Anyway, Ray is the best ambassador from the ethnically Turkish, Eastern Azerbaijan province of western Iran on the eastern border of Turkey that we know of — and we’re happy that after all this time, he finally got his green card.

Trump in two stages:

There’s a good reason why Sean Sweeney, the Soho Alliance’s director, observed that about “one-third” of the Trump Soho condo hotel’s lights were off when he looked at it one evening last week as we were talking to him on the phone: Only the lower half of the 46-story building was open. As of last week, above the 25th floor, workers were still doing their final “punch list” checks to make sure everything was in order. Meanwhile, last Wednesday afternoon, a group of about 25, mostly women, were lined up outside the building, waiting for job interviews. A hotel employee who was managing the line, said the hotel is still staffing up as it nears completion, and that it will fully open within two months. The building will employ a total of 350 people.

C.B. 2 meeting moves:

For years, Community Board 2 has held its monthly full board meetings in St. Vincent’s Hospital’s comfortable and spacious, 10th-floor Cronin Auditorium on W. 12th St. But with the hospital’s closing, the Thurs., April 22, C.B. 2 full board meeting has been moved to P.S. 41, at 116 W. 11th St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves., in the auditorium, starting at 6 p.m.