Ratner's Rats, Lonely Yassky and Sober Marty... Observations from CBID's Annual Dinner
Last night was CBID's annual dinner at the Montauk Club. My wife (an officer of CBID) and I went, having gotten babysitting for our baby. For those scandalized by my rubbing shoulders with party bigwigs at Cipriani and enjoying the music and food, well tough. Personally I liked the Montauk Club better than Cipriani, though the creepy, ghost-like Native Americans portrayed in relief on the walls, and the half-statue of a Negro (word used intentionally with all its racist connotations) banjo player on the landing halfway up to the second floor were a bit disconcerting, but the building is from a different time. And it is a very striking building, both inside and outside. The Montauk club is one of the more beautiful buildings in Brooklyn.
And the food was quite good. Chicken breasts that were mass produced for a large crowd but still moist and flavorful, vegetables that were not overcooked, and potatoes that, if a bit salty, were still quite good. Only the cake and coffee were dreadful. Everything else was good. Not as good as Cipriani, of course, but quite good.
CBID puts on a good, fairly irreverent show. This year they honored Chip Grey, Ernest A. Logan, City Councilwoman Letisha James, district leader Jo Ann Simon, and long-time CBID member Jim O'Reilly. Their "Tarnished Fork" award honoring politicians with particularly tarnished reputations went to Vito Lopez, perhaps not surprisingly.
It was also a very interesting dinner just for the rumors heard and the sites seen. Jim Brennan dancing to a Supremes song (I think it was Supremes) was quite an interesting site! If I do say so myself, I think my wife, with her lovely shawl she knitted herself, was quite striking in the crowd and, in my shabby suit, I was described by CBID's president as looking just barely good enough to be seen with her...but I think he was being kind to me.
One of our electeds (I assume he wants this passed on but I also assume without his name attached) tells me that he personally witnessed rats at the Target store at Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Terminal mall and rumor has it that Ratner's recent demolitions have stirred up the rat population, leading to an infestation of his mall. Are residents of the area getting the same spillover of Ratner's rats? I suppose this kind of thing is typical of NYC and not a Ratner-specific problem...but there certainly is something quite appropriate in Ratner's new development stirring up a nest of rats.
Which leads me to Marty Markowitz. I recently wrote about what some have speculated is the declining stability of our Borough President's sanity. In that article I referred to what seemed to me as a particularly unpleasant performance Marty gave at the annual dinner of CBID's sometimes-ally/sometimes-rival IND. I described Marty's performance at the IND dinner as "like the family drunk who thinks he's funny but really is just a giant embarrassment to the whole family." Maybe Marty was more sober at CBID or he took recent criticisms to heart, or maybe he just knew CBID was a less friendly audience, but he was much calmer and restrained at last night's dinner than at IND. The audience received him politely enough, but there were many comments by the honorees and CBID board members that my wife took as thinly veiled criticisms of Marty. I think some of those criticisms were aimed at Bloomberg or Vito Lopez, but in a lot of ways one can lump all those people together for the benefit of criticism.
Many electeds were at CBID's dinner. Eric Adams was there and, though he kept a fairly low profile sitting off in a corner, when his presence was announced he got quite the loud applause. Tish James got a standing ovation. Yvette Clarke showed up, which was quite nice, and she took well some pretty harsh criticism of her choice of successor for the City Council, raising one finger and shouting a weak, "I object," saying it with a smile. Jerrold Nadler was there and, I hear, comes every year. Bill DeBlasio was there as were others who I am forgetting, no disrespect meant.
David Yassky showed up, which I thought was good on his part given the criticisms aimed at him by many at CBID. But his presence seemed sadly awkward and mostly I saw him stuck in length conversation with Ted Monell, a somewhat difficult personality who has the distinction of being one of the few people I have ever known to question my wife's honesty...hence my willingness to take a dig at him. Both my wife and I made an effort to rescue David from Monell's rant, but perhaps it is testament to Yassky's enduring disappointment in my wife and my failure to support him that he seemed much happier talking with Ted than saying hello to us. As an aside, several people at the dinner agreed with me that Brooklyn DA would be a good fit for Yassky in the future should he choose to run and many former Chris supporters expressed an openness to supporting Yassky for DA...depending on who else runs. So far the only other candidate I have heard is likely to run is the uber-corrupt Sampson, so in that match up I would eagerly support Yassky. Others agreed with my other suggestion for Yassky: get Marty Connor to retire and run for his State Senate seat. One person said that could help heal some splits that Yassky's candidacy for Congress opened up, and another person suggested he doesn't have to wait for Connor to retire. Personally I'd like to see Connor retire into elder statesman mode, something he may be well suited for because he has some good wisdom but has shown some difficulty in the kind of friendly interaction with voters that is needed to get re-elected. That would also open up a perfect spot for Yassky, combining just the right areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan that I think Yassky would represent well. So had we spoken last night, Councilman Yassky, I would have offered that advice that people are open to your run for DA and for State Senate, should you run and depending on who else runs.
And to IND I have this to say: I owe you a sight of me in a suit. At IND's dinner I came straight from work, so was dressed fairly casually...I think Alan Fleishman was the only other man there not wearing a tie and even he was dressed far more appropriately than I was! I wore my suit and tie to CBID's dinner. Well, they were easier to get to and, being on a weekend, I didn't have to coordinate work and dinner. But I owe IND!