Attorney and former Councilman Ken Fisher grabbed a drink and scanned the room of City & State’s “Rising Stars” at Sprig on Monday night.
“The problem is the older I get, the fewer people I recognize – I came here to start recruiting,” he said, before adding his unprintable thoughts about next year’s primary.
So went the night.
City & State recognized its 40 under 40 honorees who brought their colleagues, bosses, and parents to the Midtown Manhattan restaurant.
“It’s nice to have the recognition,” said Sheepshead Bites publisher Ned Berke. “And the free alcohol doesn’t hurt.”
“This is fantastic, beyond words,” said Donovan Richards, chief of staff to Councilman James Sanders, who added he checks First Read every morning while he’s still in bed.
“I’ve been married a year, my wife says, ‘Get off the phone!’ ” he said.
Brooklyn power brokers Carlo Scissura, head of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, John Paul Lupo, chief of staff to Marty Markowitz, and Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s Tucker Reed staked out the bar snacks, which included slabs of blue cheese and marinated anchovies on toast, and discussed launching a poker club.
Scissura said he would host it, but only if it were in Bay Ridge because it is closer to his “muscle.”
Reed knows a thing or two about muscle. He was a former football player at Wesleyan University, the same team that produced New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
“I love Belichick, but I’m a Giants fan,” he said.
And Lupo, whose name means wolf in Latin, was hungry like his surname, though he mostly stuck to the cheese.
“[Wolves and I] share a ferociousness … to improve the lives of Brooklyners,” he said.
At the other end of the bar, we ran into rookie Assemblyman Rafael Espinal, who offered to give us a ride to Albany once in a while. As long as his car is nicer than City Councilman Steve Levin’s.
“Oh yeah, of course it is,” Espinal said. “It has style.”
Two press secretaries, Stefan Ringel and Justin Brannan, brought their bosses to the party.
Ringel’s boss, Councilman Jumaane Williams, was a prior City & State honoree. He said he would make sure the award doesn’t get to Ringel’s head.
“The way you do that is to keep smacking him down – but whatever accolades he gets he deserves,” Williams said.
Brannan, who led a hardcore punk rock band for over a decade, brought his boss, Councilman Vincent Gentile. Was the lawmaker familiar with Brannan’s discography?
“I don’t think I’ve heard the music,” Gentile said.
What if Brannan could compose a song about his work experience and share it with us?
“Eight days a week,” Brannan said. “I’d just sing that over and over again.”
At a table near the door, Bloomberg spokeswomen Julie Wood and Lauren Passalacqua, an honoree, were chatting with other government workers.
Wood got to accompany Mayor Bloomberg on his brief trip to the United Kingdom last week. Did she do anything touristy?
“I did not,” she said.
Radio host and council candidate Yetta Kurland found City & State editor-in-chief Morgan Pehme for an embrace.
“What an amazing group of 40 under 40 honorees,” she said. “Last year, Morgan was a 40 under 40 winner and this year he’s the editor.”
It’s a little known fact that the honorees get entered into a contest in which one of them will become editor of the paper next year. The year prior to Pehme’s selection, his predecessor, Adam Lisberg, was also a 40 under 40 when still a reporter at the New York Daily News.
“Wow, that’s like Miss America isn’t it,” Kurland said. “She puts the crown on someone else.”
State Committeewoman Jenifer Rajkumar was one of the attendees who brought her parents to the event. Both of them were adorable.
“They just have that gene,” she said.
Republican consultant Steve Stites did not bring his parents but he brought his fiancé, who is not a Republican. He had difficulty finding other Republicans.
“I think Bob Bishop is here, he’s a lawyer for the Queens GOP,” he said.
Public officials made their way through the crowd throughout the night, including former Mayor Ed Koch – whose niece Joey Kara Koch was among the honorees – Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, and Councilman Dan Garodnick.
City Council candidate Ken Biberaj was also among this year’s Rising Stars on hand for the event.
“It’s Bib-er-I, like Justin Bieber but with an I,” he said. “When I tell seniors that it sounds like Justin Bieber, they say, ‘Who?’ ”
Many of the other attendees are also surely pondering a stab at higher office, including political consultant Jake Dilemani, who boasted he would be running for Manhattan Borough President.
“In 2055,” he said.
Does Borough President Scott Stringer know this?
Tags: Bill Belichick, Bob Bishop, Brian Kavanagh, Carlo Scissura, City & State, Cy Vance, dan-garodnick, donovan richards, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Ed Koch, Jake Diemani, James Sanders, Jenifer Rajkumar, Joey Kara Koch, John Paul Lupo, Julie Wood, Jumaane Williams, Justin Brannan, Ken Biberaj, Ken Fischer, Lauren Passalacqua, Marty Markowitz, Michael Bloomberg, Morgan Pehme, Ned Berke, Rafael Espinal, Scott Stringer, Sheepshead Bites, Stefan Ringel, Steve Stites, steve-levin, Tucker Reed, Vincent Gentile, yetta kurland