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July 6th, 2004

Election Decisions

by D. Clark MacPherson

While the Presidential campaign is an overriding event for many in Manhattan, the business of representing the constituencies in SoHo, NoHo, Greenwich Village and surrounding communities in lower Manhattan proceeds undaunted regardless of who wins the Presidency. Jerry Nadler (Congressman, NY) faces a challenge from a Republican but there is zero chance of anyone unseating someone of his stature. Between his unstinting support of lower Manhattan in the face of White House and EPA lies regarding air quality after 9-11 and Bush’s empty promises to us regarding financial support, Nadler deserves to be re-elected by a landslide.

As a word of caution, we must all work very hard to ensure that the Kerry/Edwards team has our financial and political support. Despite the fact that New York is expected to vote for the Kerry ticket with a 2 to 1 margin we must be diligent. Barring a stunt by the newly created U.S. Election Assistance Commission whose Chair DeForest Soaries is a Bush appointee (Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Somerset in New Jersey) ?ɬ who has “asked Tom Ridge of Homeland Security to seek legislation permitting them to postpone Election Day” ?ɬ we believe Kerry will win. But do not underestimate the “terrorist card” in this election, with the recently engineered extension of the Patriot Act under their belts the Republicans desperately want to win at all costs. Since suspending the Constitution might disrupt Wall Street (and Republican investments), they may seek other means of dangling threats in front of us that get miraculously solved. An artfully constructed “mistake,” a little “Al Qaeda hoax,” or a national security threat, could change the election if it were postponed because the polls looked risky. And we would never know the truth. Our Civil Liberties are seriously at risk.

District Attorney Bob Morgenthau will be facing a strong candidate opposing him in November 2005. There is no question that the challenge is being taken seriously and there have been a number of fundraisers and events to get out the vote to support his candidacy. His record speaks for itself and he has had a long successful history. Legendary political insider Jim McManus assured us that “his friend of many years” is a powerful politician who will be re-elected “by a landslide.” And, Julie Nadel, a member of the Board of the Hudson River Park Trust not only agrees with McManus but also has worked tirelessly on his fundraisers.

Many of the political clubs downtown have endorsed Deborah Glick (NY Assembly) and Jerry Nadler, but some have refused to endorse Charles Schumer (Senate). This refusal to endorse a sitting Democratic Senator is an obvious repudiation. Many lower Manhattan residents vigorously supported him and helped him win a difficult race to unseat Republican Senator Alphonse D’Amato. They also realize that he has a huge campaign war chest with which to ensure his election (he is unopposed) to retain his seat. However, as ecstatic as this constituency once was in having two Democratic U.S. Senators representing New York (Schumer and Clinton), that feeling has subsided and is now replaced with the opinion that we have been sold out. Why? In a word-pollution. Lower Manhattan has been a “Black Spot” on the environmental map for more than a decade. The Canal Street/Varick Street/Broome Street/Avenue of the Americas corridor has the worst air quality in the country. It is a direct result of the free ride afforded by the one way toll on the Verrazano Bridge that completes a vicious circle — traffic in through lower Manhattan and out through the Holland Tunnel. It is a toll-free ride taken by all of the buses, trucks and passenger cars up the Eastern seaboard and out through New Jersey, courtesy of the Guy Molinari Republican Machine on Staten Island — which requires an Act of Congress to reverse. Schumer promised to work to change that pollution-making situation and he won our community’s votes — and then reneged on his promise once in office. He rebuffed political insiders AFTER being elected. Breathe deeply folks, and give a cough of support for our New York Senator.

On the horizon are other important political races. Borough President C. Virginia Fields is beginning to discuss her plans to run for Mayor of New York. Although Gifford Miller has expressed his interest in running, Miller is a weak alternative, damaged by a sexual scandal at City Council that he has not handled well. Fields is clearly a formidable adversary to Bloomberg, a Mayor who has a great deal of money but zero personality. While it is still early, it’s important to start supporting her. She has the intelligence and experience to get the job done and she is clearly prescient. She was the earliest of the Downtown politicians to recognize the strength and breadth of Kerry’s presidential candidacy and got out the supporters. (In our last issue we covered one of those events.) She has been a strong supporter of the Arts, Women’s Issues, and Civil Rights and has had a staff of Community Liaisons, who have worked closely with the Community Boards. To contact her staff you can e-mail her office at: bp@manhattanbp.org. The field is filling up for candidates running for Borough President. At last count there were nine candidates and growing. Among them are Eva Moskowitz, Scott Stringer, Maria Lopez, Bill Perkins, Bill Thompson and Carlos Manzano. Of these, Perkins, Moskowitz and Manzano are the most attractive for downtown. In November, we will be delving more deeply into the issues and will begin exploring some of the salient points in their campaigns.

The Political Clubs are like the gardeners that cultivate the growing constituencies in our community and therefore it is important to know some of the leaders. Of the four or five Democratic Clubs, the Downtown Independent Democrats is the most influential and powerful in developing new members and exploring political talent. The President of D.I.D. is Sean Sweeney, who is also the Executive Director of the SoHo Alliance, an important community organization.

The District Leaders in our area are individuals who help formulate policy, search for political talent and consult with County, State and National leaders on support for local candidates. Among those leaders are David Reck, Adam Silvera Jean Grillo and Linda Belfer.?Ǭ Not coincidentally, they are members of D.I.D. as well as other smaller Democratic Clubs.

David Reck, an architect by profession, is Chair of the Zoning & Housing Committee of Community Board #2 and is a member of Village Independent Democrats as well as the Village Reform Democratic Club. He has been active in local politics for many years and has also been instrumental in the success of The Hudson Square B.I.D.

Jean Grillo is a well-respected writer and playwright who has been a TV critic for the Daily News for over 15 years. She lives in Tribeca and serves on the Tribeca Partnership and the SoHo/Tribeca First Precinct Community Council. She is now one of the District Leaders for the Downtown Independent Democrats.

Adam Silvera is an attorney with Weitz, Kleinick and Weitz and he specializes in liability and medical malpractice litigation. He has served on the Board of Directors of Community Planning Board #3 as well as on several other non-profit organizations. He has worked for Governor Mario Cuomo and is currently a Democratic District Leader. He has been described by some insiders as one of the most prescient observers currently involved in politics and one to whom we should pay close attention. While he claims not to have any political aspirations for elected office, we hope that he changes his mind.?Ǭ Last, but not least, Linda Belfer is a longtime lower Manhattan resident who has the respect of many political activists. She has worked tirelessly for our social rights. Currently she is ill and it is time for us to rally support for her as she has done for us.

D. Clark MacPherson

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