Remembering Henry — It’s hard to remember — or imagine — our town without Henry Stern. He was truly a New Yorker and a New York legend. Caring, compassionate, curmudgeonly. They didn’t/don’t come smarter or more savvy, no matter where you fit on the political spectrum. My memories of Henry go back to the early days of his career as a City Council member in the 1970s. It was in those same years that Our Town began publishing. Henry was a Councilman-at-Large for Manhattan, elected on the Liberal (capital L) line. Henry regularly stopped by the Our Town office to exchange political commentary, espouse causes, or just plain gossip with Ed (the publisher) and Kalev Pehme (the editor). Kalev and Henry were generally allied, Ed not so much.
My favorite memory of Henry from those years was on a Sunday morning when the paper was being readied to go to press. No computers in those days, just paste boards, reporters dropping off copy and artwork, a few staffers, locals dropping off classified ads. Air filled with some smoking and lots of loud talk. And of course, the paper’s resident cats and dogs. Pre-Boomer for Henry in those years. Mid-morning, Henry walked down the ramp from East 82nd Street, through the door, and paced quietly through the office, looking at everyone but not responding to call-outs from staff or anyone else. Just a quiet and intense walk-and-look through. After about 15 minutes, I asked who or what he was looking for. “Is there a Sadie Socol here?” he asked. He said wanted to meet her and introduce himself because she had recently registered as a Liberal. OOOkay. Now the word was out, the cover blown. The paper was doing a story about “how-anyone-could-register-to-vote,” including one Sadie Socol, the paper’s beloved brindle-colored mixed breed dog, who had registered as a Liberal. There were a lot of red Our Town faces. Henry’s face darkened, realizing that there was one less Liberal voter residing in Manhattan. Through the years Henry was always a beacon and the embodiment of a New York public servant. He will be missed.
Reader readback — Community Board 8’s communications committee co-chair David Rosenstein emailed about CB8’s website, which includes links to articles in other publications relevant to the board’s catchment area. He explains how the disappearance of local news coverage has hit the community boards particularly hard. Despite coverage by Our Town and other local media, he notes, residents still miss out on much information that’s relevant to the CB8 community. He also outlines the many issues and matters the CB8 website is bringing to the public under the leadership of CB8 chair Alida Camp. The list includes basically everything the board might have to deal with — development, zoning, transportation — with the exception of politics and crime. (Though the website does address pattern crimes or those that might inform the board’s work.)
Over the past few months the board’s district manager Will Brightbill has been posting board-related headlines and internet links on the website. The communication committee does most of the daily news searches and Brightbill adds items he identifies.
The articles generally go up on the website Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to go to the general News Roundup page cb8m.com/what’s-new/weekly-news-roundup/ where they can find CB8-centric articles. Included in the March 29th roundup were UES articles from the national/global section of the NY Times (How Do You Build a Giant Glass Box? Very Carefully), from the citywide real estate publication, The Real Deal (Naftali in Contract to Buy Large UES Development Site), and from hyperlocal Our Town (“Condo on Stilts” Paused). Always good to hear about good local news resources.