Under Cover

No more staricase?

At the C.B. 1 BPC Committee meeting on Tuesday there was an agenda item calling for discussion regarding the removal of the giant spiral staircase from the Winter Garden. Chair Linda Belfer has heard that Brookfield Properties wishes to remove the staircase so visitors and employees can have better access to retail stores it hopes to place in the building’s plaza. Or because the staircase would be an impediment to the soon to be constructed East Entrance.

Whatever the reason, many people have come to look at the staircase a monument to 9/11. It was destroyed and then rebuilt. If Brookfield is planning on removing that staircase, they will no doubt be in for a fight.

Nowhere for the seniors to sit

There is a giant chain link fence surrounding the Burger King near Southbridge Towers. The impetus for the fence apparently was to keep teenagers from Murry Bergtram High from congregating after school and comes on the heels of concerned residents after a series of scuffles between students and locals.

The problem is that the tables were used more by senior citizens than the students. And with the nearby benches removed due to construction at Dellury Park, the benches in front of Southbridge were removed and now the seniors have nowhere to sit.

Rally anyone

The word on the street is that on June 16th there will be another rally at City Hall to protest the mayor’s budget cuts. On Wednesday the mayor announced his plan to eliminate a promised, whopping two percent raise for teachers and principals in order to avoid layoffs.

Does he think that will make them happy? Surely not.

Partying politically

The Downtown Independent Democrats’ annual fundraiser at Sean Sweeney’s Soho loft on May 23 was the place to be for local politicos — including a horde of grinning judicial candidates who were shaking every hand in sight. Among them was upstart candidate Reshma Saujani, who was making the rounds, hoping to win support for her primary race against longtime incumbent Congressmember Carolyn Maloney. Saujani, 34, has lived Downtown since coming to New York from Chicago about eight years ago, with stops in the West Village and on Mott St. before settling in the East Village. Her parents fled Idi Amin’s Uganda for the United States. While her hopes are high on becoming the first Indian-American woman in Congress, Saujani did note that although Obama lost his 2000 primary challenge against Chicago congressmember Bobby Rush, it was “the best race he ever lost.” Saujani added that she has been besting Maloney in fundraising lately.

Dodge Landesman, who was just graduating high school, showed he’s an astute scholar of politics, saying that as Obama did in his race versus Rush, Saujani — even if she loses — will be raising her name recognition, positioning herself for a future election. Many think of the 14th Congressional District as just the Upper East Side, but it also includes parts of the East Village — goes right through Tompkins Square — and Lower East Side, plus Roosevelt Island, Astoria and Long Island City.

As for the swarm of judicial candidates, we were most interested in Kathryn Freed, who, after putting in her dues as a Municipal Court judge, is aiming for a seat on the bench of State Supreme Court. Is it just all about the money? we asked her. Not at all, she answered, noting the pay is just a bit more. The reason, she said simply, is “more-interesting cases.” (P.S., and we don’t think this question will come up during the judicial screening panel, but Freed’s favorite TV show is “Stargate,” which we think is kind of cool.) … Meanwhile, Arthur Schwartz, who was wearing his hat as a member of the State Democratic Committee at the fundraiser, continued to stick by his idea of using Pier 40, at W. Houston St., as the site of a future Village hospital. (Did somebody say, “science fiction?” Just kidding… .)

Hats off to new skatepark

We went by the new Chelsea section of Hudson River Park over the weekend, and checked out the new skatepark. The skaters were having a great time — but most of them weren’t wearing protective helmets, including the guy on rollerblades with the long black hair doing huge backflips in the bowl. A sign by the door notes that helmets must be worn, and that skateboarding is inherently dangerous, but that the area is unsupervised. We would say, “Lawsuit waiting to happen,” but the sign basically says the skaters are taking their lives into their own hands, so… . We spoke to Armando, 46, a skateboarder and artist from Fort Lee, N.J., who grew up in Manhattan, who said the skatepark is incredible, not to mention free. He looked about 25, so “shredding” must keep you young.