Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New York City Mayor McScrooge?

As you all know, I've spent much of this year attempting to help Susan Hefti of the 93rd Street Beautification Association to bring two projects to fruition: having her block renamed Marx Brothers Place (honoring where the extraordinary comedians grew up -- and where the building, despite developers wanting to fool with it, still stands), and having her stretch of the Carnegie Hill Historic District extended by precisely this block in order to equally honor the comics (she lives in the building).

Susan, who is even more of a tenacious if tender pitbull than I am, has been fighting the good fight all year and run up against what seems like good and bad -- or shall we say at this time of year, naughty and nice -- politicians. Were this Chicago, for heaven's sake, maybe we could just cough up some money to the Governor of Illinois, who I understand now goes by "Do not Blago, do not collect $250,000." But, indeed, we're not in Chicago, we're in New York City, where the Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has shown the most remarkable aptitude to use his leverage, even if he doesn't have power, to achieve ends that he deems important. Like, for example, shoving the legally enacted term limits aside and ramrodding it through the City Council like a virgin at a VHI1 video gangbang.

But when Hefti and the rest of her 93rd Street crew look for Bloomberg to spread a little holiday cheer their way -- to simply endorse the idea of a Marx Brothers Place -- this famously anti-preservationist billionaire mayor simply raises his prominent nose and extends a metaphorical middle finger.

The irony is that yesterday, two prominent politicians endorsed Susan's ideas.

The first was Scott Stringer, borough president of Manhattan, who no doubt would like to have the mayor's job one day and might even care to ask Mayor Bloomberg to take all his billions and shove them where the Bloomberg terminals don't shine. Here's Susan email blast on the subject:

We have just received a copy of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's wonderful letter requesting that the Chairman of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission CALENDAR our RFE which asks that the city extend the CHHD one block east to include historic Marx Brothers Place!

Wow ! What a great holiday gift for our block to receive the full support of Borough President Scott Stringer ! This really means a lot to us all !

As you know, our block has been under siege for quite some time now, and most residents feel as though our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. As support for this preservation campaign continues to grow, it helps us feel that, at least, some folks are listening....
Following that was a second email blast from Susan because State Senator Jose Serrano, whose district includes this area, has endorsed the idea of extending the Carnegie Hill Historic District as well, in a letter to Robert B. Tierney, chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Let's remember that Tierney is a man, appointed by Bloomberg, who, as the Gotham Gazette noted in its summary of a recent series of exposes by Robin Pogrebin of the Times (quoting The Clyde Fitch Report), may or may not be suitable for his position. (In my coverage, indeed, I suggested he may be corrupt.) Still, how nice to get Serrano on board:

December 23, 2008

Hon. Robert B. Tierney, Chair
Landmarks Preservation Commission
Municipal Building
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

I respectfully ask the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to reconsider a
Request for Evaluation (RFE) submitted by the 93rd Street Beautification Association on September 5, 2008.

This RFE seeks to extend the Carnegie Hill Historic District one block east to include a collection of houses and gardens known as Marx Brothers Place, located on East 93rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues.

At a time of great development in our city, I believe that preservation is a key to protecting our historical, cultural, and architectural treasures. This is not to mention the environmental benefits that come with less demolition and construction.

Marx Brothers Place, which falls within the confines of my State Senate District, is worthy of our attention, and worth of the protective umbrella of city government. I urge you to revisit the proposal, and calendar the item as soon as possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.

But here's the reason I'm writing this. Susan Hefti has had some less than nice correspondence of late with representatives of Mayor Bloomberg's office, and they have, I think, unduly, needlessly and shamelessly chastised her for daring to enlist the mayor's support of any of the 93rd Street Beautification Association's goals. That's just disgusting. The tone of the woman who wrote to Susan was just awful, unprofessional. The correspondence, which I am not at liberty to quote but may refer to, argues that the mayor has no jurisdiction in this matter and to leave him alone. As the Gotham Gazette wrote, "This administration is so excited about the new that it overlooks its obligation to protect the old."

But why protect Bloomberg?

Anyway, here is a final email blast on this that Susan sent out. I urge you all to follow through. It's amazing that when it serves the mayor's interest to subvert democracy in the crassest way, in a bitter betrayal of the public trust that makes him not a much better man than the double-dealing Blago, he'll do it. But when it comes to something so clearly, unquestionably toward the public good, Mayor McScrooge says "Bah, humbug" and hides in his East 79th Street mansion. And to think that Bloomberg's elderly mother is alive to see what a monster her son has become.

Please consider lending your support.
With 8 days of Chanukah and 12 days of Christmas, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has oceans of time to grant our holiday wish for Marx Brothers Place!

Why, it didn't even take him that long to get NYC's term limits law changed !!!

Please help us inspire the Mayor to use his considerable influence over the City Council - to honor the legacy of the world's greatest comic geniuses & NYC's cultural history by clicking on this link and cutting & pasting & sending a message to: (with a copy to: and

Please make sure the Subject Line of your email reads: Marx Brothers Place!

Or just call the Mayor @ 212.788.2958 or 212.788.3245 and ask him to grant this simple holiday wish for Marx Brothers Place!

And while we're at it, please don't forget to click on this link so that YOU can sign the petition to co-name the block Marx Brothers Place!

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