Scoopy’s Notebook, Sept. 29, 2016

Here’s lookin at you, Blaz. Scott Stringer has staked out a position in favor of saving the Elizabeth St. Garden, in opposition to the mayor’s plan to develop housing on it.
Here’s lookin at you, Blaz. Scott Stringer has staked out a position in favor of saving the Elizabeth St. Garden, in opposition to the mayor’s plan to develop housing on it.

Stringer (garden) theory: We were surprised at last week’s big rally to save the Elizabeth St. Garden when Tobi Bergman, chairperson of Community Board 2, was rattling off the names of all the local politicians who support the garden and mentioned City Comptroller Scott Stringer. We had asked Stringer a year ago what his position was on the issue. However, at that time, he basically took a pass, saying we should check with Borough President Gale Brewer and get her view on it. Of course, Brewer has said she supports a so-called “compromise” under which an affordable housing project would be built there while somehow — beyond flat-out opposing it, many are skeptical it could even work — also retaining a sliver of open space for the garden. This happens to be exactly the position of Councilmember Margaret Chin — an ally of Brewer’s from the Beep’s days on the City Council — and Mayor Bill de Blasio as spelled out in the request for proposals, or R.F.P., the Department of Housing Preservation and Development recently issued for the garden. Talking to people after last week’s rally, most thought the community would prevail in saving the beloved green oasis. However, Ray Cline, of the Village Reform Democratic Club, said it’s going to take some folks to step up and challenge de Blasio on the issue — as in, possible challengers for mayor. “It will take blood,” Cline predicted. We asked Stringer this week for his position on the garden, and he now feels it is “critical” to preserve it. In a statement to us, he said, “Elizabeth St. Garden has been part of the fabric of Soho and Little Italy for over 25 years. It is a center for the community that offers a variety of educational, health, arts and cultural opportunities for the public. In a neighborhood sorely lacking in green space, it is critical that the city keep this garden open for the community to enjoy for years to come.” Hmm, so to quote that movie title, maybe this be a sign that “there will be blood.” Chin’s monomaniacal push for the housing project has only further eroded any semblance of support she had in the northern part of her district. In backing the highly unpopular plan, de Blasio — already looking horrible in the ongoing Rivington House scandal on the Lower East Side — risks losing a wide swath of voter support in Soho, Little Italy and the Village…votes that a potential challenger could surely scoop up.

Yuh-Line Niou, smiling after her primary election victory, probably isn’t losing any sleep about Alice Cancel’s running on the Women’s Equality Party line against her November. Cancel fended off Niou in the April special election when the tables were turned and Cancel had the Democratic Party line and Niou was running as the Working Families Party candidate. This time, though, Niou will have the coveted Democratic line, having earned it by winning a hard-fought six-way primary. File photo by Tequila Minsky

Yuh did it! The Democratic nominee for the 65th Assembly District — i.e. the shoo-in to win Sheldon Silver’s former Lower Manhattan seat on Election Day this Tues., Nov. 8 — Yuh-Line Niou called us last week to catch up. For starters — since some people are still asking us how to say it — her name is pronounced “Yoo-lean Nee-yoo.” Hey, better get used to that name! Niou thanked The Villager for the article we did on her back in December, before any other local media had heard of her. “You were the first to introduce me to the district,” she thanked us. She said she was extremely proud of the campaign she ran for the primary election. “I think I talked to over 4,000 people myself,” she said. “I won almost every single part of the district.” While Paul Newell won Masaryk Towers, where he lives, Niou noted she ran only two points behind him there. Similarly, she did very well on Grand St., as well, even in the East River Houses, where Newell was backed by Lee Berman, who won the State Committee race. Niou admitted, though, that she was a bit miffed by a comment in our election coverage two weeks ago by Sean Sweeney, whose Downtown Independent Democrats club backed Newell. Basically, Sweeney surmised it must have been former Comptroller John Liu’s support of Niou that explains why she did so well in Chinatown versus two other Asian-American candidates, Don Lee and Gigi Li, who have deeper roots in the community. Niou implied that Sweeney’s comment seemed sexist to her. “Why is it that anytime a woman does something, a man has to be backing her up?” she asked, with an incredulous laugh. Plus, she added, Liu actually “stayed out” of that race since he was participating in another one — namely, an Ironman triathlon in Canada! We also were surprised to learn from Niou that Alice Cancel, who came in fourth in the six-person primary, and is now finishing her cup of coffee in Albany, plans to run in the general election on the Women’s Equality Party line. Cancel of course won the seat in a special election in April, running against Niou on the Working Families Party line and Lester Chang running on the Republican and two other ballot lines. But in September’s crowded open Democratic primary, Niou romped. It seems an odd twist, since back in February, as reported by the Daily News, Silver’s backers tried to get Cancel the W.E.P. line, but Governor Cuomo put the kibosh on it. As the News reported back then, “Someone inside the Cuomo operation completely shot it down, for obvious reasons.” That is, Cancel never threw Silver under the bus. Former State Committeeman John Quinn, Cancel’s wife, confirmed to us in a text message that she will indeed be on the ballot in November. We asked him exactly why Cancel is running again — if maybe she thinks she can do better in a smaller field of candidates — but Quinn declined to elaborate, saying he was under the weather. “She has the W.E.P. line,” he texted. “Let’s talk soon. Have bonkitis [sic].” We couldn’t reach him on the phone. Oh well, feel better soon! Niou will also again be on the Working Families Party ballot line. A Republican will also be running on Nov. 8 — not Lester Chang this time, but Bryan Jung, who will also be on the Reform Party line. Jung won the Republican primary. As for why Chang didn’t give it another go, apparently Niou won him over, too. “Lester likes me!” she said.

Triangulation: The Remember the Triangle Coalition will hold a follow-up meeting on a proposed Triangle Fire Memorial on Thurs., Oct. 13, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at The Cooper Union, at 7 E. Seventh St., in the second-floor auditorium, Room 215. (It’s in the same building as the Great Hall.) The meeting is open to the public. Details about design modifications for the proposed memorial will be discussed. The memorial has been dubbed “Reframing the Sky.” But as neighbors complained at a special C.B. 2 hearing this past February, they worry that its reflecting steel panels would “reframe” their windows with blinding glare! Governor Andrew Cuomo has already pledged his support for the design and has committed $1.5 million in state funding toward the estimated $2.4 million needed to construct and maintain the memorial.