Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Aug. 2, 2018

Phil Boucher a.k.a. the Village Ripper in action in Washington Square Park.

Blew it on farter: Wow, did the Post’s Page Six get caught with its pants down on the Villager Serial Farter story, or what? This Wednesday the famous celebrity gossip page finally got wind of the story — which The Villager broke (at least, in print), months ago back in April in an article by Gabe Herman. And an article by Villager reporter Sydney Pereira then revealed the identity of the Serial Farter the very next month. He’s none other than Phil Boucher, a thirtysomething drummer in a “dormant” rock band who makes food deliveries to pay the bills. During down times on his day job, he likes to hang around Washington Square Park and prank people with his “Pooter,” technically known as “The Artificial Flatulence Maker,” a simple-yet-startling rubber squeeze toy that sells for $12.95. He’s been doing it for years in cities all over the country. But cutting the cheese locally in Washington Square is his fave. He came up and introduced himself to Pereira when she was standing by the arch reporting on the plight of Johan Figueroa González, the park’s former “Living Statue.” Heck, Boucher subsequently even “outed” himself with a video of himself in action. Hey, Page Six, what we’re trying to say is, this story is already, as they say, in the can! We totally flushed it out, er…fleshed it out. Of

Simple but effective, and gets ’em every time: the Village Serial Farte ’s “Pooter” device.

course, it was — who else? — Erik Bottcher, Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s intrepid chief of staff, who first tipped us off to the elusive seeming gas-passer. Bottcher, who clearly has a nose for news, had spied reports about the mysterious Village (Fart) Ripper on the Nextdoor neighborhood messaging app. Asked for comment on Page Six’s bringing up the rear — and how! — on this one, Bottcher told us, in an official statement, “Smells rotten. They’ve really ‘blown’ it! Villagers know who really ‘broke’ the story!” Frankly, all we can say about this whole thing is — Pfffff! Butt there’s more: The next day, Page Six ran a second item about the Village Serial Farter in which it credited The Villager’s reporting. Thank you, Page Six!

L of a meeting: Putting all that behind us, as it were…in much more serious news, let’s turn to the L shutdown chaos. So far, the community lawsuit filed over the L subway shutdown scheme’s so-called “alternate service plan” — i.e., the “mitigation plan” — has already resulted in the M.T.A.’s pledge to add a handicap-accessible elevator at Sixth Ave. and 14th St., and the Department of Transportation’s seemingly backing away from a two-way crosstown bike lane on 13th St. But the biggest result, of course, as attorney Arthur Schwartz will say, is that the two agencies finally agreed to do an environmental assessment, or E.A., for the project. That study could lead to an even-lengthier environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., being required. The two agencies are downplaying the E.A. as a “supplemental” study, but, as Schwartz notes, they basically did hardly anything on this front prior to the lawsuit. Anyway, along with doing the E.A., a public hearing is also a must. That hearing will be held Mon., Aug. 6, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2 Broadway, 20th floor. Members of the public wishing to comment must register on the M.T.A. Web site in advance by 7 p.m. on Aug. 6. Written comments may also be presented and submitted at the meeting. The official comment period for the E.A. is from July 20 to Aug. 19. In an e-mailed statement urging a big turnout Monday, Paul Groncki, of the 100 W. 16th St. Block Association, said, “At issue is the M.T.A.’s woefully inadequate environmental assessment that they claim is sufficient for them to proceed with their redesign of 14th St. We claim their [E.A.] does NOT even come close to addressing our impacted neighborhood’s environmental concerns. Our lawsuit demands a much more thorough environmental impact study — an E.I.S. — that is required by federal and state law.” Also, in some significant news, Schwartz claimed that the federal funding for the repair of the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel tubes under the East River is “on hold” now that a genuine environmental study for the whole project is being done. When we asked spokespersons for D.O.T. and the M.T.A. about that, they dismissed it outright, saying it’s just not true. But Schwartz sent us the relevant court document filed by the Federal Transportation Administration that notes that the money cannot be released until the M.T.A. and F.T.A. sign off on a “construction agreement,” which has not happened yet. In another letter submitted to the court, provided to us by Schwartz, a top M.T.A. official states that if it turns out the federal funding ultimately is not available, the city would seek it elsewhere and forge on with the project.

Traveling de Blasio band: It turns out the reason we couldn’t get through to a live person at City Hall last week to ask someone about why Mayor Bill de Blasio hasn’t followed up on his pledge to buy back the old P.S. 64 — or hasn’t even spoken with any of the stakeholders — we now find out was because everyone from the Mayor’s Office was in Staten Island last week. It was “City Hall in Your Borough” last week, and Staten Island was it, a spokesperson told us. So they were only reachable by e-mail, we were told — though they didn’t answer us that way anyway, either.

News about the news: We hear the beleaguered Daily News will start jacking up its price to $1.50 as of next week. We’ll see if that really happens. But we’re told that would possibly be Tronc’s strategy to intentionally doom the paper, by driving down circulation, which would somehow get Tronc off the hook financially for slashing even more jobs, if they do eventually shut down the print edition. However, on Thursday, the Post reported: “Tronc…put the brakes on a 50-cent price hike that was originally going to go into effect on Aug. 6. The buzz is that it will be instituted after Labor Day, but retailers and newsstand operators have not been told anything beyond canceling the earlier hike.”

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