Content posted by D. Clark Macpherson

Elections come and go and the results sometimes actually change things. We now have bike lanes in SoHo and almost everyone from out of town is now happy. The billboard people are happy despite years of complaints and lobbying the politicians in office, we have more of them. And, real estate people are also happy. Original art, affordable housing, including rent control stabilization and development rights, have all inured to their best interests. The art and artists are nearly gone; stabilization and affordable housing and controlling 45 story buildings, is an ephemeral dream; and the fight to protect SoHo from even further debasement in the form of the SoHo BID, is all but over.

We are on the precipice as the Primary is about to take place.

There are a few races that are meaningful for those of us in SoHo—the two City Council races for District 1 and District 3 affect us directly. And, of course, the Mayoral selection affects us indirectly. In a microcosm, the phrase “all politics is local” takes on new meaning.


It looks like it will be a difficult choice for the general population to choose among the many candidates vying for office this election.  But, while it may be tough for a larger audience, the decision shouldn’t be that hard for SoHo residents.


Let’s start with the strong points. Scott Stringer has been a hands on guy downtown and made the round of the clubs and, as Borough President, has had the ability to pick and choose members of the Community Boards.


 
Downtown is Democratic. And, SoHo has nearly always been a Democratic Arts Village. From guerilla art to condo decorations, from Frosty Myers to Bob Bolles, SoHo has nearly always followed the left of center, piggy-backing on its more liberal and progressive neighbor, Greenwich Village.

John Davis, recently retired from Army Intelligence, provides us with the conundrum of America in the current world of terrorism and hidden wars. How do we maintain our freedoms as we change and adapt to the new realities of engagement? While he gives us some answers, he describes the choices that we must make through analogies that clearly make the decision much easier. 


While Bill Thompson seems like an underdog in the mayoral race at this point, there are some important similarities to his last run four years ago. The fact that he did not have access to something like $120 million in personal funds to edge out a billionaire definitely played out against him, and had the Democratic Party supported him wholeheartedly we’d now be discussing his re-election.


Jenifer Rajkumar is a lawyer, a District Leader, a Democrat who espouses early, direct, personal involvement in the community’s political decisions for her district, District 1 in SoHo. While Jenifer, who is also a member of the Downtown Independent Democrats, realizes that unseating an incumbent is an uphill battle, she is a determined and politically attractive candidate who is in this race for the right reasons. Not for power, not for self-aggrandizement, and not for provincial attempts to make small changes. Her desire is to fundamentally alter the way politics is managed. That is, by involving the community at the very outset in dealing with any changes that affect it. For changes that affect SoHo.


While affordable housing is a hot-button issue in many communities, nowhere is it more critical than downtown Manhattan. The numbers are frightening unless you’re a landlord.

Councilmember Margaret Chin was elected, in part, for her housing activism – as she had demonstrated in her primary constituency of Chinatown– to protect rent-regulated tenants.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s work has benefitted the community with her advocacy - supporting tenant rights in the face of landlord abuse and harassment.


There was more than one Joe Gallo in Brooklyn. There was, of course Crazy Joe Gallo, and, there was just Joe Gallo. Not the same guy. Yet, he died the same way. A bullet. In this case a bullet to the back of the head, found leaning back in his Buick where a headrest might be found in today’s cars. GM didn’t offer headrests in those days—or seat belts. Everyone drove at their own risk, until too many people went through the windshield. It was a pre-Ralph Nader world.