The New York Daily News isn’t just a Manhattan daily; it has lots of love for Brooklyn, too. Just ask them.
At least that was the tabloid’s message to Bay Ridge as the News’s top brass showed up at the Bridgeview Diner, which is at 9011 Third Ave., to make their case to anyone willing to fork over $10 for a $3 breakfast and a mug that the News is connected to our community’s concerns.
“We want you to know that we understand [that] we have an intimate trust with the people of Bay Ridge,” said Editor-in-Chief Martin Dunn, his British accent clashing with the diner waitresses’ Kings (County) English. “We believe this trust is sacred and that is why we are Brooklyn’s paper.”
But it wasn’t an easy sell. This was, after all, Bay Ridge, where Community Board 10 meetings sometimes last well past “24” (and that’s just the public comment portion!), and where discussions over the placement of a traffic light can lead to several hours of heated debate.
The News brass got an earful.
“I want to know why your reporters can’t figure out where Dyker Heights ends and Bay Ridge begins,” said one woman. “I would appreciate it if you could work on that.”
Other complaints included the font size of the crossword puzzle, the dumbing-down of the news (“If people want to see Paris Hilton, our coverage will have to reflect that,” replied Dunn), and the firm belief that the News has a Yankees bias.
“Why can’t you split the coverage?” asked one man, to audible cheers of approval from the audience. “Give the Mets equal time and make it half Yankees and half Mets?”
One man went off about coverage of a proposed Gowanus Expressway tunnel, but an editor quickly put him in his place. “That is a conversation to have at a community board meeting,” the editor replied. “I don’t think this is the appropriate venue.”
Yeah, that went over well. If these Manhattan-based Daily News people want to be Bay Ridge’s hometown paper, they better learn quickly that every resident has an issue and every resident wants to be heard.
The brass gave few answers — it was, as Hillary Clinton once called it, a “listening tour,” after all. Boroughs Editor Steve McFarland, who works out of the Manhattan office, and Brooklyn Bureau Chief Paul Shin listened along with columnist Denis Hamill and reporters Joyce Shelby and Jotham Sederstrom, a Brooklyn Paper alum who was interrupted mid-waffle when Dunn tapped him to brief the audience on the Atlantic Yards project — which the News has endorsed, despite, apparently, its editor’s lack of knowledge of the project. Sederstrom exchanged his salt shaker for a microphone (yes, he salts his waffles!) and gave a well-thought-out off-the-cuff presentation (maybe he, not some guy from England, should be running “Brooklyn’s daily paper.”)
Bay Ridgites know they already have a local paper (you’re holding it in your hands), but the News did have one secret weapon with which even The Brooklyn Paper can’t compete: Hall of Fame cartoonist Bill Gallo.
Gallo, who landed a job as a copyboy at the News in 1941 (taking a break to serve in World War II), was hounded by autograph seekers throughout his breakfast and even chimed in on the Yankees/Mets controversy. “Sometimes with A-Rod it can be difficult to fit anything but Yankees into the paper,” said Gallo. “The man hits 20 home runs in a month and then scores again with the blondes over breakfast.”
Ah, Gallo. That’s a newspaperman.
It was a great night at the Bay Ridge Community Council’s 56th annual dinner dance at El Caribe in Mill Basin. The wine flowed like whisky at the open bar, where we chatted with the Bay Ridge Jewish Center’s rabbi, Micah Kelber, about God and eminent domain (He — God, that is — apparently opposes it). Later, Kelber gave a great benediction that asked the Lord to “banish all hate.” Not bad. Lawyer Michael Connors and Hinsch’s owner John Logue won this year’s Civic Awards (Connors for his advocacy for the elderly and Logue for a career of service that included forever banishing three-hour no-parking during alternate-side days — his greatest legacy. Not even Logue’s work on child abuse prevention got as big an applause!). Judge Matt D’Emic swore in the new officers (Robert Cassara replaces Barbara Vellucci as president) and later chatted with former congressional hopeful Steve Harrison, who looked in fine shape for another run (and we don’t mean the Marathon!). Michael Arenella and the Dreamland Orchestra provided the wonderful, 1930s-style entertainment. And the filet mignon was outstanding. The waittress even hugged us when we told her we didn’t need a glass for our Corona — we could just swig it out of the bottle. It was that kind of night! …
In other Sink developments, the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District is having a party and everyone is invited. Just show up on June 16 at 11:30 am at 75th Street and Fifth Avenue. …
Community Board 10 voted unanimously this week to support efforts to save the emergency room at Victory Memorial Hospital from its scheduled closure.