The Whirlwind Life of a Borough President

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (left) speaking with a constituent at a recent reception at Avery Fisher Hall (Photo via Our Town)

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (left) speaking with a constituent at a recent reception at Avery Fisher Hall (Photo via Our Town Downtown)

Checking in at seven events in an evening is a typical “after work” schedule for Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, reports Megan Finnegan Bungeroth of Our Town Downtown. Bungeroth tagged along with Brewer one evening in late March to get a sense of Brewer’s lifestyle – and her commitment to her job and constituents.

“I try to go to as many events as humanly possible,” Brewer says in the elevator. Her staff sifts through hundreds of requests each week to put together her packed schedules. She has two schedulers and a committee that helps decide which events she’ll attend. The only reason for turning down an invitation is that it conflicts with another scheduled event. Nothing is too minor, no one too marginal.

Brewer is accustomed to the demanding nature of constituents; prior to becoming Manhattan borough president, she served on the City Council representing the Upper West Side.

The politically engaged Upper West Side, home to 2,500 non-profits and one of the highest voter-turnout rates in the country, trained her well for the current gig. In Manhattan, people expect a lot from their elected officials. “You can’t be lackluster, you better be sharp,” she says. “You gotta be on your toes.”

The nimble Brewer is able to move with ease from a high-powered cocktail reception at Avery Fisher Hall to a discussion in a private home to a fundraiser for victims of the recent gas explosion on East 116th Street, all the while managing to touch on a wide range of topics with the people she meets. What’s more, she’s forthright in her comments.

“I know I get in trouble [saying this] – I cannot stand Eva Moskowitz [head of Success Academy],” Brewer says. “In the city council, she was very smart and very obnoxious. She was a good chair [of the education committee] because she asked lots of questions, but she didn’t involve anybody else.” Brewer has levied this criticism before; she sued Moskowitz and Success Academy when they moved into an Upper West Side high school, and she doesn’t think that charter schools belong in the districts with good public school options.

A few other perennial Upper East Side issues come up – how to stop the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (Brewer voted against it); when will de Blasio make good on his promise to rid Central Park of the carriage horses (she doesn’t think that one will be as easy as it sounds). She also, finally, has a moment to eat a small plate of bread, cheese and grapes proffered by the hostess, in between taking questions.

For more on the Manhattan Borough president’s busy schedule, go to the original article.

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