Under Cover

Hello Albany

When we spoke with State Sen. Dan Squadron Wednesday about the M.T.A.’s looming “doomsday” budget, he sounded like he might be a little annoyed that Gov. David Paterson had brought up gay marriage right at this moment.

“We need to solve this before we do anything else,” he said of preventing severe subway cuts and 25 percent fare increases. But then he said both important issues can be solved now.

“Bedrock values, as they say in ‘Spinal Tap,’ all go to 11,” Squadron said, meaning core principles are always the highest priorities. “Saving the M.T.A. and having marriage equality are two of the bedrocks. The clock is ticking on the M.T.A. There is also an urgency of now on equal rights.”

We’ve heard a taxi surcharge of about 50 cents, vehicle registration fee increases and a payroll tax are the most likely to be in the rescue package, although some form of bridge tolls or congestion pricing have not been entirely ruled out.

As for Squadron, we’re not in a good position to assess his assessment on priorities, but we are extremely reassured by his astute taste in film. Our young senator was merely 4 when the 1984 Christopher Guest-Rob Reiner instant film classic “This is Spinal Tap” was released, yet perhaps Squadron recognizes this early mockumentary set the platinum standard for the genre that may never be matched.

Locals on display

Many familiar faces will peer out of the drawings in “100 Days Downtown,” the exhibit Lower Manhattan artist Liz Williams is launching next week at Bob Townley’s Downtown Community Center.

Williams, a courtroom artist, captured many Lower Manhattan figures, from politicians and outspoken residents at meetings to criminals in court, in her series of drawings about the three months since President Obama’s inauguration. Among this bunch, we were surprised to learn that an even more familiar person will be featured: Williams is including a drawing of Downtown Express’s own Julie Shapiro in action. We may have protested a bit that a young reporter doesn’t quite rank among the other local figures Williams captured (hey, we’re camera shy), but Williams insisted that the drawing belonged in the show.

The first opportunity to see that drawing and many others — and to bid on them in a silent auction benefiting the Lower Manhattan Family Fund — will be at Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Community Awards April 23. The drawings will be on display and open for bidding at the community center until Obama’s official 100th day, April 30.

Rebuilding prayers

Many want the World Trade Center to be rebuilt in the next five or 10 years, but Rabbi Meyer Hager is just hoping it takes less than three decades.

On April 8, 1981, Hager conducted the Blessing of the Sun service on the World Trade Center’s observation deck, according to a 28-year-old Port Authority press release obtained by UnderCover (actually Hager sent it to us without a fuss). The blessing, according to the Jewish calendar, marks the date when the sun, moon and all of the planets align the way they did during the earth’s creation. The alignment, which occurs every 28 years, was celebrated all over the world this April 8 including on top of 69 Gold St. in a service performed once again by Hager, who was and is the rabbi of the Wall Street Synagogue.

He dedicated this century’s first sun blessing to the thousands killed on 9/11 as well as to the towers “that meant so much to the business life of this city.”

Rabbi Hager, 71, said he would be thrilled if he is able to perform the 2037 service at the new W.T.C., but acknowledged the two uncertainties. “If God gives us the life to live that long, that would be a great thing,” he told us. “That would complete the whole cycle,” but “the way they’re building it now I wonder if it’ll be finished then.”