Under Cover

Club fight

The Downtown Independent Democrats’ club election meeting Wednesday night turned into a screaming match when Pat Moore challenged Sean Sweeney for leader, two sources told UnderCover. The vote was put over until May.

Both sources said the fight boiled down to a rift between Community Board 1 and 2 factions.

One said the challenge was a move by C.B. 1 Chairperson Julie Menin to secure the club’s endorsement for when she runs for City Council next year. Moore, active on Board 1 and on World Trade Center community issues, has not been much of a player in local politics until now. This vote-counting source, who is unfriendly to Menin, said Menin packed the meeting, but it was unclear who would have won if it had come to a vote. Sweeney and Menin now have plenty of time to rally supporters to next month’s meeting.

Club members criticized the Soho-based Sweeney for being too disorganized.

The anti-Menin source said Sweeney wasn’t leaning in any direction in the Council race, but now Menin has no shot at his endorsement: “At this point she would be very low on his list — after Idi Amin.”

Early endorsement

Speaking of Julie Menin, even though she hasn’t officially announced whether she’s running for City Council, her admirers are lining up. The Community Board 1 chairperson received what amounted to a preemptive endorsement last Thursday from Borough President Scott Stringer.

Stringer enthusiastically introduced Menin at the ribbon-cutting for Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Community Center.

“She’s somebody who suggests a great future for Downtown,” Stringer said. “She’s going to do a lot of great work for the city in the future.”

Hey Shelly

Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver can’t catch a break on congestion pricing.

While mingling with his constituents at the opening of the Downtown Community Center last week, Silver had to field questions from several Downtowners who were disappointed that he didn’t bring congestion pricing to the Assembly floor. Silver defended his choice, saying he was in favor of the plan but was outnumbered.

On the flip side, we’re hearing that people from the outer boroughs are calling Silver’s office nonstop to thank him for killing the pricing plan.

Don’t say bye, Danny

Virtually all of Daniel Libeskind’s World Trade Center master plan has been changed by other architects, but the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. is not yet ready to cut the umbilical chord on the architect. The agency’s board last week voted to extend his contract for anotheryear.

Avi Schick, the L.M.D.C.’s chairperson, said the corporation will not have to pay Libeskind any more millions or even pennies by extending the contract. “You don’t want to be stuck wanting to change the master plan and no longer have the master planner under contract,”Schick said.

He said even if Libeskind has to do more work, it won’t cost the L.M.D.C. another dime. We’ll just have to wait and see if the starchitect goes along if it ever comes to that.

For those keeping score at home, Libeskind’s Freedom Tower was changed a few times by David Childs — though it is still going to be a symbolic 1,776 feet and have an antennae on top, the sunken memorial was moved up to street level, Libeskind’s waterfall was scrapped, his cultural buildings were bounced and his “Wedge of Light” plaza never was going to do what he said it would — shine without shadow on Sept. 11 mornings at the key times — because oh yeah, it’ll be across the street from the Millenium hotel tower that, get this, casts shadows even on Sept. 11.

Losing a year a week

At this rate, the new K-8 school on Beekman St. may never open.

A month ago, Forest City Ratner was saying the Beekman St. school would open in 2009. Two weeks ago, the developer pushed the opening to 2010. And now this week, it sounds like the school might not open until 2011.

At a private meeting in Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s office, Bruce Ratner reps said the school will definitely be ready in 2010, but it could be too unsafe to let kids inside or near the building until 2011.

That’s because Ratner is also building a Frank Gehry-designed 76-story apartment tower above the school, and they’ll likely still be working on it come September 2010. It doesn’t take a star pupil to figure out that school children and high-rise construction sites aren’t a good mix.

Hardhats, anyone?

Seaport Report

UnderCover this week welcomes a bold new partner, Janel Bladow and her Seaport Report — with juicy tidbits about the Seaport nabe and its nearby blocks. Bladow, a freelance writer, Downtown Express contributor and longtime Seaport resident, will be writing her monthly column the third Friday of every month, so don’t forget to check her out in the May 16 issue.

This week hard copy readers can find the Seaport Report on page 14. Email our good friend Janel at seaportreport@downtownexpress.com.


The incumbents have it

It’s election season again in Community Board 1, which means that board members will get the chance to choose between — not Barack and Hillary — but, well, Julie Menin and Julie Menin.

The Nominating Committee had its first meeting this week and announced that the only people who have declared candidacy so far are the incumbents.

Not surprisingly, Menin is seeking reelection as chairperson and Catherine McVay Hughes, a likely candidate for chairperson whenever Menin steps down, wants to remain vice chairperson. Marc Ameruso, a previous candidate for chairperson, is running for reelection as assistant secretary.

This is Menin’s third time up for election, but she is only completing her first full term, because she took over for past chairperson Madelyn Wils in June 2005, midway through Wils’s term. Term limits dictate that Menin can only serve three consecutive terms, but the board decided that her first half-term didn’t count toward the limit. That means that if Menin wins, she could technically run for another term in 2010.

But all of that is very hypothetical, because Menin is also weighing a run for City Council when Alan Gerson’s term expires at the end of 2009.

“I am seriously considering it,” Menin said of a Council run. She promised to have a final decision for a very curious UnderCover by this fall.

“The Council race is quite a long time from now,” Menin said. “There’s quite a lot of important work going on at the community board.”

Senate race

Daniel Squadron, who is trying to unseat State Sen. Marty Connor in this year’s Democratic primary, got two big boosts this week. The Daily News reported over the weekend that Sen. Chuck Schumer, who engineered the Dems’ 2006 takeover of the U.S. Senate, told Connor point black that he was going to support Squadron. The challenger is a former Schumer staffer who co-wrote a book with New York’s senior senator. It also appears that Ken Diamondstone, who ran against Connor two years ago, is not running.

Dan Cantor, the head of the Working Families Party, which endorsed Diamondstone in 2006 but is now backing Squadron, said it looks like Diamondstone is not running. Diamondstone, who is gay, was blistered by Daniel Tietz, a gay political leader in Brooklyn, in a widely circulated email last week. Diamondstone’s slim chances would drop closer to none without gay support in the district, which covers Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.

But even without Dimaondstone, there definitely will be a gay person in the race as John Chromczak, a 38-year-old medical technologist, announced Wednesday he was running on the Republican line. Chromczak lives in the Financial District and is the only Manhattan resident in the race.

Youtube saved the video star

For anyone who lies awake at night wondering what Community Board 1 member Tom Goodkind looked like 20 years ago, the answer is on YouTube. To find him, go to YouTube.com and search “Washington Squares” and “Tom Goodkind.”

The videos show Goodkind rocking with his ’80s electric folk group, The Washington Squares. They appeared on MTV, released several albums and toured the country.

Goodkind may have had longer hair back then, but we’d recognize our favorite singing, guitar-wielding C.B. 1 member anywhere.

Erotic reading

Those who generally find book groups and poetry readings a little dull might be more turned on by In The Flesh, an erotic reading series at the appropriately named Happy Ending Lounge.

This month’s reading celebrates the release of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s newest book, “Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women,” which will be available for sale and signing. Readers include Honey B. — author of “Sexcapades” — and Sarah Thyre and Suzanne Portnoy, who use their own experiences as inspiration.

“From erotic poetry to down-and-dirty smut, these authors get naked on the page and will make you lust after them and their words,” says the promotional flyer, which lists Dr. Ruth as one of the series supporters.

To check out the readings (or the readers), head to the Happy Ending Lounge on Broome St. at Forsyth St. Thurs., April 17 at 8 p.m. The reading is free, as are the candy and cupcakes — but UnderCover should warn you that happy endings are not included.