Under Cover, Week of March 27, 2014

Photo courtesy of Manhattan Borough President’s office Gale Brewer met with community newspapers last week.
Photo courtesy of Manhattan Borough President’s office
Gale Brewer met with community newspapers last week.

Brewer off-Script
Manhattan Beep Gale Brewer is pushing to allow community boards to “plug in” to more digital resources, but at a meeting last week with us and other community news folks, it was somewhat refreshing  to see she is still not afraid to go unplugged, as in off-script.

Here are two tidbits:

She met with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on St. Patrick’s Day whom she was told “has been in office as long as [Assemblymember] Dick Gottfried.” Impressed with Kenny’s charm she added, “Now I love Dick Gottfried, but ‘charming’ is not…” Perhaps she would have completed the sentence had Gottfried not endorsed her in last year’s primary.

Brewer also broke the classic advice from “The West Wing” to never accept the premise of a reporter’s question.

She told us that she anticipated reappointing almost all community board members who did not have attendance problems, but when Carl Glassman, editor of the Tribeca Trib, asked if she would consider whether or not a member is obnoxious, she said, “We are going to  look at it. Some of them in your area are very obnoxious.”

But a few seconds later, she added that board members who have taken the time to understand complicated land use issues deserve a little leeway.  “Maybe you can be obnoxious and know a lot about zoning.”

Before any Community Board 1 members go too up in arms (or did that already happen two paragraphs ago), we’re not at all sure Brewer was singling out Board 1, and the comments at the time sounded to us more like Brewer’s to-the-point charm.  We didn’t sense animus.

Decision Day Coming To Southbridge
After past false starts and years of back-and-forth discussions with the state, it’s starting to look like the long debate over the privatization of Southbridge Towers could come to a vote as early as June.

The 1,651-unit complex has been part of the state’s Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program for all of its 43 years. Leaving the program would allow residents to sell their apartments at market rate or use it as a borrowing asset, potentially yielding profits of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Going private would require a two-thirds majority vote — but before that can take place, the state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman must approve the printing of a “black book” that will be submitted to the residents, listing all of the elements of privatization.

Since 2009, Southbridge’s board of directors, which is the official sponsor of the current push to privatize, has been revising the plan based on the attorney general’s past decisions that various risks of privatization — including the possibility of city and state property transfer taxes totaling up to $30 million — were not being fully explained.

However, those kinks seem to have been worked out, and approval of the black book now seems to be imminent. The Southbridge board’s plan received an acceptance letter from the attorney general’s office on March 4, with only a few minor clarifications needed before the A.G. signs off on the printing of the book, according to a report sent to residents by Wally Dimson, the board president.

Dimson’s report stated that the board is “hopeful” that the plan will be put to vote on June 8, 9 and 10. And sources on the other side of privatization agree a June vote is likely.

Once the book is approved, the process requires an informational meeting at which residents can discuss it, after which a month must go by before a vote can take place.

Southbridge’s board is not allowed, by law, to discuss the plan publicly before it’s actually approved and printed.

A Good Kind of Music
If you happen to see Tom Goodkind around Battery Park City or at a community board meeting, we highly recommend asking him for a copy his band’s new album.

Along with being a C.B. 1 member and working one of those boring day jobs, Goodkind — an ex-punk rocker — still kindles the musical flame as conductor of the TriBattery Pops, an orchestra made up of Downtown residents. The B.P.C. resident passed out some free copies of his group’s new release, “Pops Art,” at C.B. 1’s March 25 full board meeting, and we were lucky enough to take one home.

The album features some great interpretations of quality pieces by the composers Philip Glass, Charles Ives and Karel Husa, along with two originals by Goodkind himself (one of which is rather interestingly avant-garde exploration called “Superstorm Sandy,” which recreates the chaos and confusion of the storm with the help of some spoken word by the maestro’s daughter and her friends). So check it out!

And if you’re really up for something fun, go on Youtube and search for a band called The Washington Squares. You might find within that group a young folk-punk musician, circa 1985, who just, um, happens to look like Tom Goodkind…