Under Cover

Turning a corner

July 4, 2004 may be a day that will live in infamy in World Trade Center rebuilding history but it also represents the pride and honor of Hauppauge, Long Island.

On Independence Day five years ago, officials unveiled a 20-ton ceremonial cornerstone where the Freedom Tower was supposed to be built. Then-Gov. George Pataki led the ceremony along with his New Jersey counterpart, James McGreevey, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, W.T.C. developer Larry Silverstein and Port Authority leaders. President George W. Bush was due to arrive in the city the next month to be nominated for reelection and there was speculation at the time of the ceremony’s ties to the Republican National Convention. But Freedom Tower construction did not really begin then and the tower was later redesigned for security reasons. In 2006, the cornerstone was in the way of the new design and it had to hauled back to Hauppauge to be stored by Innovative Stone, which built it.

Karen Pearse, the Innovative C.E.O., tells UnderCover that at first she thought she’d be storing the stone until 2012 when the tower had been expected to be complete, but she says the Port Authority later told the firm that they may not ever want it back. Pearse decided to use the firm’s front lawn to display the stone in a memorial garden, which will be unveiled this Friday, Sept. 11.

The cornerstone was often mocked as a symbol of false rebuilding promises, but to Pearse it represents the unified spirit immediately after 9/11 and “absolute reverence for the people who were lost.” It’s not “all about negativity and politics,” she added. Pearse was amazed how easy it was to get three dozen or so Long Island businesses to donate services and materials for the garden and ceremony.

She said it’s possible island native Billy Joel will perform at the 8 a.m. public unveiling although the singer had not confirmed by press time. For those who can’t make the ceremony, she said a nighttime drive by the stone at 130 Motor Parkway is worth a trip because of all of the lights. “It’s a real showstopper,” Pearse said.

Pataki and Bloomberg declined her invitations, but Gov. David Paterson is sending a representative to the ceremony.

Don’t vote for yourself

If you ever get endorsed by Councilmember Jessica Lappin, you can count on her to fight for every vote. Lappin came to Tribeca last week to endorse her colleague, Alan Gerson, and she also met another candidate in the race, Arthur Gregory. Gregory happened by because he was playing with his daughter in Washington Market Park. Gregory thinks he and Gerson are the best two candidates in the race and when Lappin saw how friendly the two opponents were getting along, she reminded Gregory that no one would ever know what Gregory did “in the privacy of the voting booth.” Gregory assured her he was a solid Gregory vote.

Video dustup

A video clip beginning to circulate on YouTube shows Democratic District Leader David Reck — a big supporter of Councilmember Alan Gerson — ripping down campaign posters belonging to Gerson challenger Pete Gleason. Reck says he took them down because they were illegal.

A Gleason volunteer used his cell phone to capture Reck tearing down the signs. In the 27-second video, Reck realizes he’s being taped and strides angrily over to the Gleason volunteer and shouts insults about Gleason.

Reck said Wednesday that he had not seen the video (curious UnderCover readers can go to YouTube.com and search “David Reck” to find the clip). Reck said campaign signs are not allowed to be on lampposts. He is particularly angry at Gleason because Gleason subpoenaed him during a legal battle earlier this summer over Gerson’s petition signatures.

Gleason said candidates throughout the city put flyers on lampposts. He did not deny that it was illegal, but he said Reck does not work for the city and should not be enforcing the law.

Campaign promises

Speaking of the Council race, this week we asked each of the candidates a hypothetical question that could become very real for the winner.

Among the councilmember’s duties will be recommending community board members, and many of those board members have been strong advocates for a Council candidate. What we asked is: Should the future councilmember decide not to reappoint someone who supported a different candidate, would the councilmember disclose the reason?

As long as the un-reappointed community board member was okay with the reason being disclosed, all five candidates said yes, they would make the reason public. Don’t worry, we’ll hold them to their word.