Under Cover


Volume 18 • Issue 48 | April 14 – 20, 2006

Ramping up Gerson

Rule number one for politicians: keep your constituents close. City Councilmember Alan Gerson apparently misplaced his rulebook last month.

Downtown residents have been grumbling that the city councilmember’s alliances are more with 9/11 victims family groups than the local residents in his district. The flap started after Gerson held a March 30 hearing on the World Trade Center and voiced support for keeping the Memorial Museum free and adding two more ramps to the memorial.

“Alan has to be reminded that the people that vote for him and put him into office are constituents who are represented by Community Board 1,” said one disgruntled community board member who requested anonymity. “You don’t know how many phone calls I’ve been getting — from the people who put him in office… I heard one resident say ‘I’m concerned about supporting Alan if he doesn’t come out on the side of residents.’”

C.B. 1 has long supported limiting access to the memorial to two ramps opposed to four so that pedestrians can easily traverse the Trade Center plaza without descending down into the memorial. But some family groups have urged the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to revisit the design and add ramps to all four sides of the memorial.

Sources close to the redevelopment told UnderCover that local residents were also angry that Gerson brought more attention to the museum fee when the Performing Arts Center, which the community has long supported, has yet to be funded at all.

But Gerson has no patience for critics who say he’s forsaken them for the 9/11 families. “That’s total nonsense and my record has spoken for itself and will speak for itself,” he told UnderCover, adding, “I don’t think we should view this as an ‘us vs. them.’”

Although he stands behind his support of a free Memorial Museum — the federal government should fund it, he said — he is reluctant to offer his position on the ramps, saying only, “Everyone will be very happy and very satisfied with the recommendations of the committee.”

But when it comes to the Trade Center, residents have little interest in hearing new recommendations. “We want to make sure that before Alan makes a public statement concerning the development of the Trade Center that he makes sure the statement represents the views of his constituents, particularly Community Board 1,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of the board’s World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee. Hughes also noted that Gerson’s committee was elevated to a full-fledged committee earlier this year with the help of the community board, which wrote a letter of support on his behalf. “We supported him when it was just a task force.”


Janeane Garofalo shopping incognito at Apollo Braun’s store on Orchard St. “The West Wing” star and “Air America” radio host shielded her celebrity self with big dark sunglasses, Adidas track pants and a coat. She paid cash (with exact change) for a pair of gold hoop earrings that matched her necklace, an UnderCover spy said… Beekman St. tower developer Bruce Ratner hosting Cholene Espinoza’s book party for her memoir, “Through the Eye of the Storm: A Book Dedicated to Rebuilding What Katrina Washed Away,” at the Puffin Room in Soho. Ratner’s sister, Ellen, just so happens to be Espinoza’s significant other… Good Charlotte rocker Benji Madden punching out a fellow clubgoer at Don Hill’s in Hudson Square, according to the New York Post, which thought the club was in Tribeca (Note to Post editors: The “b” stands for below Canal St.).

Rebecca Skinner and Arthur Lebowitz

Community Board 1’s Rebecca Skinner tied the knot last weekend. The 53-year-old assistant superintendent of the Hempstead Public School District married Dr. Arthur Lebowitz at their Lower Manhattan spread. Skinner, who is co-chairperson of C.B. 1’s Youth and Education Committee, is also studying for a Ph.D. in education policy at New York University. Lebowitz, 65, is an internist and an assistant professor of clinical medicine at N.Y.U. Mutual friends introduced the couple in 2000.

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