Under Cover, week of Dec. 17, 2015

No Segarra Cigar

Ninfa Segarra has come out as one of the first boosters of Jennifer Rajkumar’s not-yet-declared Assembly candidacy to replace the ousted Shelly Silver, but she was bashing the district leader just two years ago.

Segarra, Rajkumar’s Gateway Plaza neighbor and a former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani, told us this week there was “no cigar smoking” to clear the air, or any big sit-down. Politics is a learning process, Segarra said, and Rajkumar has just gotten better with time.

“I do admire how she stuck it out through the ups and downs,” Segarra said.

When Rajkumar ran against Councilmember Margaret Chin in the 2013 Democratic primary, Segarra encouraged Downtown Express to “expose [Rajkumar’s] misdeeds in your paper as a public service.” Rajkumar had committed a “violation of the public trust,” Segarra wrote in an email, by exaggerating the accomplishments of a little-known non-profit the candidate had set up.

Segarra even stood up and shouted at Rajkumar during a Downtown Express-sponsored debate with Chin two years ago.

This week Segarra said she thought Rajkumar’s anti-Chin campaign literature was unfair, and she also did not like the attacks against Robin Forst, who unsuccessfully challenged Rajkumar for district leader in the same primary.

“I’m very loyal,” Segarra told Under Cover. “Robin was a very close friend.”

The clincher for Segarra’s turnaround was when Rajkumar came to Puerto Rico last month to Somos el Futuro, a conference where New York pols meet with Hispanic leaders.

“I was pleasantly surprised she was there,” Segarra said. “It showed me she was thinking big-picture.”

She added that Rajkumar has loyalists on the Democratic County Committee, which will effectively decide Silver’s replacement. But another probable candidate for the seat, fellow district leader Paul Newell, said the same thing two years ago, when he was vying to fill a potential state Senate seat vacancy that never materialized because Dan Squadron lost his bid to become Public Advocate.


Wanted: FiDi Grocery Store

There’s something about grocery stores that the Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee can’t resist — perhaps because the neighborhood has been called “Fresh Direct territory” before.

Earlier this year, the possibility that a Trader Joe’s may come to the nabe at 28 Liberty Plaza — formerly known as One Chase Manhattan Plaza — set the CB1 committee aglow. That rumor, BTW, persists.

So it’s no surprise that the two words many committee members latched onto in a presentation by a Westfield exec were, “grocery store.”

Westfield is handling the retail leasing for the Fulton Center and much of the World Trade Center site, including the Oculus.

Westfield’s Michael McNaughton let those two magic words slip, but when pressed which store it was, he said he couldn’t divulge.

“Jones the Grocer,” speculated Luis Vazquez, who sells real estate and has a finger on the pulse of local development — but McNaughton remained coyly mum.

But when any of these stores will actually open remains to be seen.

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