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January 6th, 2003, 06:22 PM
GOP Taps New York to Host '04 Convention

Mon Jan 6, 2:25 PM ET *Add Elections - AP to My Yahoo!

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Republican Party leaders on Monday chose New York as the site for their 2004 presidential nominating convention.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the decision "a tremendous boost for the city."

"New York is exactly the right place for the president and for the Republican Party," Bloomberg said. The convention will be held the week of Aug. 30. "The labor unions have been exceptionally helpful in assuring the Republican Party that the convention will go forward with all of the efficiencies" the party wanted, he said.

Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. and New Orleans had been among the finalists along with New York. But New York had been considered a favorite for several months.

Democrats announced earlier they would hold their convention in Boston during the week of July 26. The GOP convention will be held during the week of Aug. 30.

New York Gov. George Pataki said, "The Republican National Committee (news - web sites)'s selection of New York City to host the Republican National Convention in 2004 is yet another sign of the confidence people have in New York and sends a message to America and the world that New York is back."

New York had plenty of advantages because of Bloomberg, who is a Republican, its many hotel rooms and the attention it got as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But GOP officials had logistical questions, such as how the city would house large numbers of media representatives who would be covering the event.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, had pushed hard for Florida to get the convention, but Republican officials also worried about possible protests in the state because of the contested 2000 presidential elections.

New Orleans had many advantages as a convention city, but Republicans lost a close and bitterly contested Senate runoff election a month ago when Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu (news, bio, voting record) held off a determined challenge from Republican Suzanne Terrell.

Pat Brister, the Louisiana Republican Party chairman, said she did not believe Landrieu's victory had anything to do with it.

"I know New York put together a good package," she said. "They certainly can do a convention. They have the hotels and facilities and New Orleans also can do that. I just think it was a business decision.

The selection of New York was recommended by the RNC's Site Selection Committee. That move in practical terms resolved the issue of convention location, although the party must still reach a contract with the city and conduct a vote of the full 165-member RNC.

Marc Racicot, chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Ellen Williams, chairwoman of the party's site selection committee made the announcement following a conference call Monday.

The full RNC will act on the recommendation at its winter meeting from Jan. 29-Feb. 1.

"We believe New York will provide an outstanding backdrop to showcase our candidate and our party in 2004," according to a GOP release.

Tampa Mayor Dick Greco called it "a very difficult choice" and said "it was a business decision, strictly a business decision, and all the cities could have furnished everything they needed."

Greco said the city would bid again in 2008.

January 7th, 2003, 09:45 AM

January 7, 2003
Republicans Pick New York as Site of '04 Convention

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 — The Republican Party tentatively designated New York City today as the site of its 2004 national convention, selecting one of the most heavily Democratic cities in the nation as the place to renominate President Bush in about 18 months.

It would be the first time in the city's history that it played host to a Republican convention.

Republican officials said they chose New York over two competing cities, Tampa and New Orleans, in part because of what they described as the enormous political and emotional symbolism that has become attached to the city since the terror attack on Sept. 11, 2001. They also said New York had offered the best package of financial incentives, including a pledge to raise $53 million in private contributions to defray the estimated cost of $80 million for the gathering.

New York officials, led by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Gov. George E. Pataki, both Republicans, had lobbied urgently for the convention to be held at Madison Square Garden, arguing that it would be a psychological and financial lift to the city during difficult times.

The recommendation was made unanimously today by the Republican site selection committee in a telephone conference call.

It is expected to be ratified by the 165 members of the Republican National Committee at its annual meeting in Washington this month.

Mr. Bloomberg was called away from a news conference announcing the city's Winter Festival at Lasker Rink in Central Park this morning to take a call from Marc Racicot, the Republican national chairman. Mr. Racicot, a former governor of Montana, was relaying the results of the conference call approving what was, in reality, a White House decision. Mr. Bloomberg returned to his lectern, an ice sculpture chiseled for the occasion, to share a bit of news that his administration had been anticipating for more than a month.

"I just got a call from Gov. Marc Racicot, informing me that he recommended to the site selection committee a host city for the next Republican National Convention, and that the host committee unanimously endorsed his recommendation," Mr. Bloomberg said, with conscious understatement. "I am pleased to inform you that that is New York City."

The Republican Party's selection of New York, an event that would have seemed almost unfathomable just two years ago, was the result of a confluence of factors that has made the city an increasingly irresistible choice to the White House.

It started with the terror attack itself, which shaped Mr. Bush's presidency and now seems certain to provide a constant backdrop to his renomination, party officials said.

In addition, New York, a Democratic city and a symbol of ethnic diversity, offered itself as a stage for the Republican Party at the very time that the party has been seeking to portray itself as appealing to moderate and minority voters. That effort has been complicated over the past month by the remarks by Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi that even Republicans described as racially insensitive and forced him to step down as Senate majority leader.

While few Republicans believe that holding the convention in New York would improve Mr. Bush's chances of winning a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 million, several argued today that they achieved the admittedly mischievous result of forcing Democrats to pay attention to a state that they would prefer to take for granted.

Finally, New York now has a Republican governor and New York City a Republican mayor, which is helpful both logistically and symbolically.

The city is the home of the nation's best-known ex-mayor of either party, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is expected to figure prominently in the convention. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, is up for re-election in 2004, and the party presumably would use the convention platform to help the prospects of his Republican opponent.

In an initial display of support after the attack, both the Republican and Democratic Parties had said they would consider holding their conventions in Manhattan. The Democratic Party ultimately decided against holding what would have been its sixth convention in New York since 1868, choosing instead to go to Boston, after party leaders said they would consider coming back to New York only if the city abandoned efforts to recruit the Republicans.

Aides portrayed the decision as a major victory for Mayor Bloomberg, and disputed the suggestion that it was an emotional calculation driven by the Sept. 11 tragedy.

"9/11 was never part of our pitch," said Kevin Sheekey, a special adviser to Mr. Bloomberg. "Either they felt the emotional impact and wanted to be there for that reason or they didn't, and it wasn't something we could affect. What we could do is negotiate rates with hotel rooms."

Mr. Racicot said in an interview today that New York was chosen because it had offered the best package of benefits to the Republicans, and he also cited the "enthusiasm that they displayed and the opportunity to showcase our party and our candidates" to the nation. He said gathering in a city so closely identified with tragedy and patriotism was clearly a factor as well.

"I think the entire country has become more closely connected, or reconnected, with the city in a very intimate way," he said, "in a very important way, and being able to coincidentally further that relationship is a good thing."

The city held one of its pivotal negotiating sessions with the Republican site selection committee last month at the new Ritz-Carlton in Lower Manhattan, where the windows on one side of the hotel offer a view of the Statue of Liberty and the windows on the other side look out on the clearing amid what was once a dense wall of buildings where the twin towers had stood.

Roland W. Betts, a member of the committee of Republicans assembled by Mr. Bloomberg to lobby the White House, is a close friend of Mr. Bush. Mr. Betts said he directly pressed the events of Sept. 11 in lobbying for the convention with both Mr. Bush and Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser.

"What we focused on was that New York was the best background for the convention, growing out of the events of Sept. 11," Mr. Betts said in an interview. "The alternatives were inappropriate. Florida would have been all about the last election, and we would have to relive hanging chads."

New York officials said the convention, scheduled for the last week in August, would bring 50,000 people and $150 million into the city.

Republican and city officials said that the convention would cost about $80 million to put on, but that the city's only expense would be about $25 million for police overtime and other law enforcement costs.

The incentives package of $53 million from private sources would help defray convention expenses. City officials provided data to Republican officials to demonstrate that the city has been a prime source of political contributions to Republican candidates.

The city also provided Republican officials with signed promises from labor leaders that they would not conduct the kind of strikes or work slowdowns that have troubled other convention planners in New York, and that any disputes would be submitted to binding arbitration.

City officials guaranteed convention planners 22,000 hotel rooms, including 17,000 within a mile of Madison Square Garden, and promised that 9,000 would be available to delegates for $156 a night. In addition, an estimated 15,000 reporters, who in other cities have worked in tents, trailers and spare office space, would be placed across Eighth Avenue from the arena in the Farley Post Office Building, which is to be converted into the new Pennsylvania Station.

Republican officials said that Tampa was unable to match the offer on hotel rooms, and that in Florida delegates would have been scattered far from the convention site. The other major competing city, New Orleans, was unable to match New York City's promise of financial assistance.

"I was disappointed," said Pat Brister, the Republican chairwoman of Louisiana. "I would have loved to have it in New Orleans. We gave it our best shot."

A spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, Jennifer Palmieri, said Democrats were neither surprised nor concerned by the Republicans' decision. "We always thought the Republicans would go to New York, and that is one of the reasons we felt we couldn't go," she said. "We knew the Republicans would be the governor's and the mayor's first priority, and we would always be playing second fiddle."

January 7th, 2003, 09:50 AM

January 7, 2003
With Party Convention in Hand, City Scrambles for Big Spenders

This is really all about the parties. Big parties.

And the money. Big money.

New York has made its case for the former, enticing the Republican National Convention here on Aug. 30, 2004, and it is dangling its assets — the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rainbow Room, Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal — to attract the latter.

"I don't know if it is myth or not, but there is a sense that Republicans have more money," said David Adler, the chief executive of BiZBash .com, an online magazine covering the event-planning industry. "They have bigger parties. They appreciate parties and events, and like mingling and networking."

At any convention, the parties, social rather than political, tend to command as much attention, if not more, than the business of nominating candidates, which is usually a foregone conclusion.

But securing a ticket to the "in" soiree is another matter entirely.

Event planners say any restaurant in New York that has some theme vaguely connected to the other 49 states will probably get snapped up by state political organizations. And for those who are not invited, forget reservations at high-end restaurants for convention week.

The parties, the dinners, the entertainment choices that are all part of convention week, bring in the jobs, money and taxes that a city like New York covets. Philadelphia, which was home to the Republican convention in 2000, calculated a direct economic benefit of $170 million.

A report released by Philadelphia 2000, the host comittee for the event, said that of that money, in excess of $40 million was spent on the more than 1,000 receptions, parties and other events.

Philadelphia also got something else out of playing host that it had been desperately trying to attain. The Philadelphia 2000 report conceded that it was trying to put "the region on the map once and for all as one of the premier hospitality destinations in America."

New York already ranks among the nation's top three tourist destinations (No. 1 for foreign travelers, No. 3 for domestic, behind Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas) and, according to Tradeshow Week, it is second behind Las Vegas in big conventions.

Still, Cristyne L. Nicholas, president and chief executive of NYC & Company, the city's tourism and convention promoter, said that in light of 9/11, New York needed to boost its image as a safe place to visit, as well as one that can pull off big events without a hitch.

In 2000, many of the parties were underwritten by corporations and big donors, alarming government watchdogs who see such events as an opportunity to buy access.

A new campaign finance law prohibits the political parties from raising and spending the unregulated contributions from corporations known as soft money, but the Federal Election Commission has not yet put out a full set of rules on how the law applies to convention financing.

Few predict that any rules, short of banning sponsorships outright, will cut down on big corporate-sponsored events, especially in this town.

Expect a rush to book locations.

"It will start tomorrow," Mr. Adler said, "if it hasn't started already."

January 7th, 2003, 10:31 PM
We could certainly use the money, I just don't look forward to the inevitable political marketing they will be spewing in regards to ground zero. It would be the same if the Dems held their convention here, but the national Republican Party through the years has mostly trashed, insulted and ignored NYC from Congress and the White House. To see them suddenly roll into town to capitalize on our tragedy really pisses me off. I hope businesses in the city price gouge the hell out of them.

I'm already cringing.

January 7th, 2003, 11:03 PM
LOL! *But, then they would demand more personal tax cuts to offset their NY expenditure. *:)

March 9th, 2003, 12:45 PM
March 9, 2003
G.O.P. Meeting Offers Glimpse Far in Advance of Convention

More than a year before Republicans descend on New York for the 2004 presidential convention, they will get a taste of what is to come when they hold their regular summer meeting here in July.

Republican Party officials said Friday that for the first time since 1998, they would hold one of their twice-yearly gatherings in New York City. Both city and party officials say the summer meeting provides a chance to kick the tires before the 2004 national convention at Madison Square Garden, where President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are expected to be re-nominated.

A year before each national convention, the Republicans usually hold their summer meeting in the host city.

The dates and location of the summer meeting have not been set. Party members gather in the winter and summer every year to conduct routine business and strategize for elections. Typically, a guest from the White House speaks. Mr. Cheney spoke at the winter meeting this year in Washington, but Kevin Sheridan, a spokesman for the party, said no decision had been made on who would speak in the summer.

The 300 or so party officials who will attend this summer's meeting are expected to check out the various locations, including Madison Square Garden, that have been or will be used for convention-related events. Establishments like Radio City Music Hall, Tavern on the Green and the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center have set aside Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, 2004, for convention events.

"We're really excited they are coming and see this as an excellent chance to showcase the city a year before the convention," said Jennifer Falk, a spokeswoman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who had aggressively courted the convention as a sign of the city's post-9/11 revival.

Cristyne L. Nicholas, president of NYC & Company, the city's promotional arm, said such meetings hold incalculable word-of-mouth value.

About 50,000 people are expected at the 2004 convention, generating $150 million for the city economy.

March 9th, 2003, 12:57 PM
Judging from the shameless pandering of their last convention in Philly, "cringe" is the right word. *I'll say one thing, though: *If you're black, hispanic, or asian and you want to be on TV, just show up at MSG in Sept. 2004.

November 12th, 2003, 07:44 AM
November 12, 2003

G.O.P. Convention Has Police Alert and Protesters Planning


Police in New York City have been at work since June preparing for the Republican National Convention next summer, an event that could draw hundreds of thousands of protesters to the congested streets of Midtown while President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are in town.

At the same time, groups are busy planning protests, using the Internet and holding meetings to reach out to antiwar, anti-Bush and anti-Republican forces for the convention, scheduled Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. One group has even formed a committee to discuss details as specific as providing day care for protesters' children and pets.

The Republicans' decision to hold their nominating convention at Madison Square Garden presents the city with such a volatile mix of elements — an incumbent president, troops in Iraq, fear of terrorism, the existence of well-organized and active global protest groups — that the Police Department began preparations further in advance than it has for any event in a quarter-century, officials said.

Against this backdrop, the police are searching for a balance between the public's constitutional right to demonstrate and the need to keep the streets open, the trains running and the convention operating without interruption.

"We have the sense that there will be a lot of people coming in, not only from just in the United States but from outside the country, to voice their opinion," the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, said in an interview. "So we want to be prepared."

An Internet search reveals that demonstrators are making plans for the convention, some with the goal of delivering a peaceful political statement, others hoping to have their say by disrupting events. Web sites have been formed (with names like R.N.C. Not Welcome and Counter Convention) and e-mail lists are being circulated so that people can exchange ideas about such strategies as how to tie up city traffic.

One group, United for Peace and Justice, has already filed two permit requests, one for 250,000 protesters to march past the Garden the weekend before the convention begins. United for Peace and Justice organized the antiwar rally in February that attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters, erupting at points into clashes between protesters and the police. The group is planning a peaceful march, but says that the convention could attract others intent on disrupting events.

"The resistance that the Bush administration attracts takes many forms, from people who might call or write an elected official to those who might sit down in the street and those who might want to resist" in more aggressive ways, said the group's spokesman, Bill Dobbs.

Mr. Kelly, like others preparing for the event, said he could not provide a hard estimate of how many protesters are expected. But the police are monitoring the Internet and the organizing groups, the commissioner said. They want to know what groups are coming to New York, who their leaders are and what their plans are, long before anyone ever raises a billboard or turns on a bullhorn. The police have created 30 committees within the department to address the myriad security concerns, including transportation around the city, safeguarding the 49 hotels that will house officials, delegates and news media, safeguarding the restaurants, theaters and other entertainment sites and making sure that officers are adequately trained to handle it all.

Mr. Kelly attends a weekly convention preparation meeting and is already talking about details as minute as whether law enforcement officials will have enough cameras and vans to process individuals who are arrested. In addition, the police meet regularly with the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Coast Guard and the Fire Department. There are also planned meetings with the mayor's office, the governor's office and the convention's committee on arrangements.

But the core of the work now involves research and intelligence gathering. "We're gathering information about plans that people may have to come here," Mr. Kelly said. "And we understand, this is what America's all about, people to demonstrate peacefully, make their feelings known. And we want to facilitate that and keep it peaceful."

The nexus of free speech and what the law deems to be criminal activity is a sensitive area, police officials concede. The New York Civil Liberties Union has already contacted police officials to try to meet and find the balance between the department's desire for absolute calm and the protesters' desire to be within the vicinity of the convention so that delegates can hear the protesters' concerns.

In 1992, when the Democrats held their national convention at the Garden, police set up an area on Eighth Avenue, on the sidewalk outside the nearby general post office building. When the crowds swelled, police expanded the protest area into the street, yet managed to keep one lane of traffic open.

But there were never more than about 5,000 protesters, a fraction of what is expected this summer, according to former police officials who were involved in security for the 1992 convention.

"If you have to deal with more than that, and people are violent, at that location, you will have a problem," said a former police official involved in the 1992 event.

In 1992, authorities also permitted a small group of protesters to set up on Seventh Avenue, so they could be seen by delegates entering the arena, former police officials said. This time the post office will be the main base for thousands of news media personnel, so the police suggested it is unlikely they will allow thousands of protesters to congregate right outside the building.

"Our concern is that the New York Police Department and the Secret Service will try to push demonstrators away from the convention site," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "We will mount an aggressive campaign to make sure this doesn't happen. It's critical that New York City be as welcoming to the protesters as it is to those who come to participate in the convention."

The easiest way to keep the peace, some officials said, is to seal off large areas of Manhattan from protesters. City officials have said that they want to accommodate peaceful protesters but are not sure how or where. Coming almost three years after the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, there is also the fear that terrorists will try to strike during the event.

The federal government has designated the Republican convention, and the Democratic National Convention that will be held earlier in the summer in Boston, as national special security events. That puts the Secret Service in charge of coordinating security between agencies, gives the F.B.I. responsibility for collecting intelligence and providing crisis management, and gives the Federal Emergency Management Administration the job of dealing with the effects of any possible crisis.

But the New York Police Department, with its 37,000 officers, while working in conjunction with the federal agencies, will ultimately be responsible for controlling the streets.

As soon as it was clear the convention was coming to New York, police officials visited Los Angeles, which hosted the Democrats, and Philadelphia, which hosted the Republicans, in 2000. Philadelphia police had taken a very aggressive, what some have called pre-emptive, approach, and in some cases arrested people before they ever protested. In virtually all the cases, prosecutions were either dropped or the defendant was acquitted, said Stefan Presser, legal director for the A.C.L.U. of Pennsylvania.

"From the way the criminal justice process played out, it was transparently clear the city was far less interested in securing convictions than in clearing the streets," Mr. Presser said.

Last February, the city saw perhaps a preview of what the convention scene could become. The group United for Peace and Justice had applied for a permit to conduct an antiwar march in Manhattan. The permit was denied, though one was granted for a rally. Hundreds of thousands of people tried to get into the designated area on First Avenue near the United Nations. While the police tried to funnel the crowd through designated access points, tensions rose and flare-ups broke out. For a city known for its control of crowds during presidential visits, sporting events, parades and celebrations, it was a public relations setback. Mr. Kelly said his department will be prepared to make sure that does not happen again, though he did not say exactly how.

"I'm not going to go into the specifics now and put all our safeguards on the table here because some of this is a tactical game that we're engaged in," he said. "You know, the vast majority of demonstrators here will be peaceful. They'll want to make a statement. And we want to help them do that. We want to facilitate that. There will be some, we believe, that will be here to cause problems."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

November 12th, 2003, 07:56 AM
The political landscape has changed somewhat since the GOP decided to hold their convention in New York City. I wonder if they now regret that decision.

December 1st, 2003, 12:06 AM
December 1, 2003

G.O.P. Option at Convention: Luxury Liner


Representative Tom DeLay wants the Norwegian Dawn to be Republicans' home away from home in New York during the party's convention.

It is being billed as the perfect place for celebrations during the Republican National Convention next summer, with shows, fine works of art, health clubs, bars, cafes, amazing views, luxury staterooms and restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. And it is just a short walk to Midtown.

But before its visitors can cross a New York City street, they will have to pass over a gangplank. The Norwegian Dawn, a 2,240-passenger luxury cruise liner, has 15 decks, 14 bars and lounges and babbling brooks. But even docked at a pier on the Hudson River, it is not New York City. And, to many critics, that is the point.

The House majority leader, Tom DeLay, would like the ship to serve as a floating entertainment center for Republican members of Congress, and their guests, when the convention comes to New York City next Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

"Our floating hotel will provide members an opportunity to stay in one place, in a secure fashion," said a spokesman for Mr. DeLay, Jonathan Grella. He did not elaborate.

Perhaps Mr. Grella is reluctant to talk because Mr. DeLay's idea has infuriated a cross section of New Yorkers, much to the delight of Democrats and the embarrassment of some Republicans.

New York would lose money if Mr. DeLay decides to charter the ship because it would draw visitors — and dollars — away from city hotels, restaurants and shops.

As for the more ephemeral issue of perception, the proposal to remove visitors from the hubbub of city life has been broadly received as a slight — a suggestion that the city's hotels and restaurants, not to mention its people, are not quite good enough for Republicans from out of state.

Republicans are not necessarily happy, either. Many say the cruise ship could undermine one reason New York was chosen for the first time in the party's history as the site of its convention: to help advance the idea that Republicans are the new big-tent party, trying to embrace all voters.

Instead, Republican strategists say, being docked on the Hudson River would send out the message that they are a bunch of elitists who will not mingle with city residents — and just might be ducking New York's laws, including the one that prohibits smoking in public places (a cruise ship might be exempt, or at least unwelcome territory for a city health inspector).

"In an era of nonstop news and visuals, do you want the visual of the convention to be a group of people sequestered on a cruise ship?" said one Republican strategist, who added that there is a lot of hand-wringing among Republicans in New York and Washington over the plan.

Still, few Republicans are willing to publicly challenge Mr. DeLay, whose nickname in Congress is the Hammer.

Representative Vito J. Fossella of Staten Island, the only Republican in the New York City Congressional delegation, initially worked with Mr. DeLay to present the cruise ship idea to the other members. Now, all his spokesman will say is that the idea of the ship is not Mr. Fossella's, he is merely passing on the information to his fellow party members.

Gov. George E. Pataki, the three-term Republican who said in a statement that he would prefer to see conventiongoers use New York's hotels, has not publicly called for Mr. DeLay to abandon the idea.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a fellow Republican whose relations with Mr. DeLay have nonetheless been strained, has also been cautious with his remarks.

One Republican strategist said he imagined that New York tabloids would run headlines like "Ship of Fools" or "Titanic."

Representative Peter T. King, a Republican from Nassau County, said: "I won't be on the ship. If they want to have it, fine." But, he added, "I think it could send the wrong signal, that Republicans are isolated from the city, just wining and dining and drinking and not being part of city life."

That is exactly what has New York's Democrats chortling. "What is it? They don't want to be contaminated by us?" said Representative Charles B. Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem. He vowed to wage a campaign against the cruise ship and criticized Mr. Bloomberg for not speaking out more vociferously. "It is a very, very unfriendly thing to do," Mr. Rangel said.

But Mr. DeLay has indicated that he has no plan to back off.

Mr. DeLay has won power — and loyalty — from Republican members of Congress by making sure they were treated luxuriously. He saw to it that House ethics rules were changed so that members could accept free trips and lodging to attend charity events.

At the Republican convention in Philadelphia in 2000, he provided representatives with cars and drivers, and he set up a hospitality suite inside a luxury railroad car. This time, he would not be footing the bill for the ship, but is the driving force behind making it available during the convention, according to Republicans.

The idea of using the cruise ship, which operates out of New York City year-round for Norwegian Cruise Line, first came up when the company approached Republican leaders several weeks ago, a company spokeswoman said. The cruise line has also approached Democrats about their convention, which will be held in Boston in July, but those talks have not progressed as far as they have with the Republicans, said a spokeswoman, Susan Robison.

Ms. Robison and a DeLay aide also confirmed that Susan Hirschman, Mr. DeLay's former chief of staff, is a member of the lobbying firm hired by the ship's owners to pursue this kind of business.

Ms. Hirschman did not return a call for comment, and Ms. Robison said she did not know if Ms. Hirschman made the original pitch to the Republican leadership. But once the pitch was delivered, Mr. DeLay and Mr. Fossella presented the plan to Congressional Republicans.

Immediately, the proposal was viewed by many political insiders as another episode in the increasingly hostile relationship between Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. DeLay. In October, Mr. Bloomberg called on wealthy New Yorkers to avoid giving donations to any member of Congress who does not help New York. He singled out Mr. DeLay, saying, for example, that he had made a proposal to change federal financing formulas that would cost the city $300 million in federal transportation aid.

Mr. Bloomberg has reacted cautiously to the ship episode, making statements that are carefully worded to avoid antagonizing the majority leader. Nonetheless, he has made his feelings about the cruise ship proposal known.

"We have plenty of hotel rooms, it's a safe city, it's the safest place you can be almost with a lot of people around you, is right here in the streets of New York City, and why you'd want to be away from that, I don't know," the mayor said last week when reporters asked about the proposal.

People close to Mr. DeLay said that he was not too happy with the mayor's remarks to potential donors in New York, but that they did not think that Mr. DeLay proposed the cruise ship to spite Mr. Bloomberg.

"I think DeLay felt there was a benefit of being on a cruise ship," said one Congressional Republican who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. "He felt it was classy and upscale."

It is upscale. In fact, people who stay there will, on average, pay higher room prices than they would for the negotiated rates in New York hotels. The Republican National Committee has booked 22,000 hotel rooms for the convention at an average rate of about $196 per night; in comparison, the rate on the ship is about $240 to $430 a night, according to recent news reports. Ship guests would have to pay state and city sales taxes, but it is not clear if they would also have to pay the city's hotel taxes, according to the city and the cruise line.

The mayor's office said it was also unclear whether the city's law banning smoking in all restaurants and bars would apply to the cruise ship. That would have to be studied further, a spokesman said.

The Norwegian Dawn has 10 restaurants. It also has grand Garden Villa suites with a garden and babbling brooks. The ship has a children's park with a dinosaur theme, and it has a 1,000-seat theater. It is registered in the Bahamas, and its staff is multinational, Ms. Robison said.

Mr. DeLay's aides, as well as representatives for the cruise line, have tried to argue that Norwegian Cruise Line brings business to the city because the ship operates out of New York year round, and that this, too, would bring in revenue. Local people would be hired for jobs like baggage handling and passenger check-in, Ms. Robison said.

But those arguments did little to dampen the criticism, including charges that the Republicans misled New York businesses when they negotiated to bring the convention to the city.

"It is certainly not within the spirit of the convention, and the committee's pledge to help drive the economic engine of New York City," said Joseph E. Spinnato, president of the Hotel Association of New York City, in a statement. "It also does not conform to the negotiations conducted in good faith between the Republican National Committee and the hotels."

Cristyne L. Nicholas, the president of NYC & Company, the city's tourism bureau, also criticized the cruise ship plan. Ms. Nicholas, whose ex-boss, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, is an official host of the convention, said the ship sent the wrong message about New York and would deprive its passengers of enjoying what New York has to offer.

But, she said: "I'm an optimist. If Tom DeLay goes to the West Side, maybe he will see the need for the transportation money. Maybe he'll see how much help New York needs from the federal government."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

December 3rd, 2003, 07:12 AM
December 3, 2003

They'll Take Manhattan: Republicans Drop Ship Idea


The Norwegian Dawn was to be a G.O.P. hotel and recreation site.

Representative Tom DeLay of Texas will not go ahead with his plan to use a luxury cruise liner as a floating entertainment center for members of Congress, lobbyists and contributors during the Republican National Convention next summer, an aide said yesterday.

Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader, had insisted earlier this week that he was still planning to use the 2,224-passenger Norwegian Dawn in the Hudson to accommodate Republicans who will be in the city for the event, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

As criticism mounted, particularly from Republicans concerned that they would appear elitist if they stayed on a ship away from the heart of the city and its people, he backed off, saying it was not worth the fight.

A spokesman said, "Tom DeLay fights for what he believes in, but where we have an event at the convention is not something that he particularly cares about." The aide, Mr. DeLay's communications director, Stuart Roy, added: "He will stand and fight on principle for things he believes in, like Medicare, things that matter. Whether you have an event on a boat is irrelevant."

The decision may put to rest a conflict that had threatened to overshadow the very purpose of the convention, the renomination of President Bush. However, Democrats as well as Republicans also suggested that more troubles could lie ahead, since so many people said the dispute left them angry and distrustful.

A Republican strategist close to Mr. DeLay who spoke on the condition he not be identified said, "A lot of disingenuous people made a mountain out of a molehill, and DeLay just decided to let the moles win."

In New York, there was a sense of bewilderment among Democrats and Republicans that Mr. DeLay let the dispute go on as long as he did, and that he seemed not to understand how it would appear if the Republican delegation and their guests slept, dined and relaxed on a cruise ship instead of in a hotel.

There was such a gap in perception that late yesterday, some Republicans in Washington who supported the cruise liner idea were still saying that it would not have taken much money away from the city and that perhaps there are some Republican members of Congress who want to take their families to the convention but do not want them to stay in Manhattan, a point that offended many New Yorkers.

The cruise liner has 10 restaurants, 14 bars and lounges, and a 1,000-seat theater. Docked here, it would draw millions of dollars in business away from city shops, restaurants, hotels and theaters, critics said. Representatives of the hotel industry estimated that it would take $40 million in revenue away from hotels alone.

The economic arguments did not seem to persuade Mr. DeLay. The majority leader at first thought the criticism of the cruise ship plan was just the result of bad blood between him and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who had singled him out in October as a lawmaker who has been bad for New York and therefore not worthy of campaign contributors' checks, according to people familiar with the events that led to his decision to back down.

He was persuaded to change his mind, they said, as William D. Harris, the convention chairman, and other Republican strategists worked on Mr. DeLay's staff to press him to abandon the idea.

Gov. George E. Pataki, the three-term Republican who recently organized a fund-raiser for Mr. DeLay in Manhattan, did not ask him to drop the plan but instead asked Republicans in the state delegation to ask him to back off, according to the governor's office.

Mr. Bloomberg, too, had been careful in wording his responses to the DeLay plan. But on Monday, the mayor, who also was under increasing pressure from local labor unions and political leaders in New York, telephoned Mr. DeLay. He and Mr. DeLay then spoke by telephone about 4 p.m. yesterday, and shortly thereafter Mr. DeLay said through a spokesman that he would not go through with his plan.

Mr. Bloomberg then called Colin Veitch, the president and chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Lines, which owns the ship, to try to avoid hard feelings with a company that docks a cruise liner here year-round and brings a lot of business to the city.

The company issued a statement late yesterday saying that it was not going ahead with the convetion plan with the proposal because it no longer made economic sense, although the statement was prepared after Mr. DeLay had said he was ending the fight.

Mr. Harris, the convention chairman, did not return a call to his Washington office, and the Republican National Committee press office also did not return a call for comment.

Mr. DeLay, along with Representative Vito Fossella, Republican of Staten Island, first presented this idea to the Republican delegation in early November. Mr. DeLay would not pay for the ship but was the driving force behind making it available for Republican members of Congress and their guests, all of whom would pay their own bills.

As critics began to attack the proposal, Mr. Fossella began to move away from the plan, saying that he was merely passing along information. Mr. DeLay stuck with it, even as union leaders in New York were saying that they felt the Republicans negotiated terms of the convention in bad faith. Some of the union leaders said they would abandon an agreement not to strike during the convention, a deal they signed because they were eager to bring the business of the convention to the city.

With the decision last night, New York City businesses should receive the full benefit of the conventioneers, while the cruise ship will lose out on a high profile week docked in New York harbor. That, however, is not likely to mean a loss of business for the cruise ship, which remains popular.

In fact, there remains at least one well-known New Yorker planning to take a room on the ship: Rosie O'Donnell. A travel company run by her partner, Kelli Carpenter, has chartered the ship for a gay and lesbian family holiday cruise in July, and Ms. O'Donnell plans to be on board with her children, the company said.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

December 3rd, 2003, 10:12 AM
A spokesman said, "Tom DeLay fights for what he believes in, but where we have an event at the convention is not something that he particularly cares about." The aide, Mr. DeLay's communications director, Stuart Roy, added: "He will stand and fight on principle for things he believes in, like Medicare, things that matter. Whether you have an event on a boat is irrelevant."

Give me a break. I'm not surprised that Tom DeLay would be uncomfortable on NYC streets. What hypocracy in light of the RNC opening an office in Washington Heights, when their policies are in conflict with the people of the community.

December 3rd, 2003, 10:55 AM
The GOP can't see how ridiculous this is? Tom DeLay doesn't want to step out of his comfortable suburban bubble.

The silver lining here is that we won't have to walk around the inevitable 90% of these conventioners that are probably obese. Its great urban planning when you think about it.

December 3rd, 2003, 11:18 AM
It's obnoxious that they even considered a boat at a time when NYC's tourism, hotel & restaurant industry is struggling so badly. To essentially rip all those dollars out of suppliers hands and give them to Norwegian Cruise line is an insult to every New Yorker that has struggled so badly in the last 2 years. (And now who wants to place bets someone connected to Norwegian is a big Republican donar?).

TLOZ Link5
December 3rd, 2003, 11:34 AM
Maybe DeLay and company were afraid that some of the native rats of Manhattan would recognize them.

Wouldn't it have been great if they all got Legionnaire's disease, or something of that nature?

December 3rd, 2003, 11:34 AM
I thought that's why New York got the Republican convention in the first place. The decision was made soon after 9/11 in order to help the city regain lost business. Clearly all they really wanted was to use Ground Zero as a backdrop for patriotic ferver.

December 3rd, 2003, 02:51 PM
I hope this little incident is getting a minimum of national coverage and the GOP the bad publicity it deserves.

December 17th, 2003, 08:03 AM
December 17, 2003

Republicans Plan Convention Full of Sights and Symbols


Center stage at the Republican National Convention in New York next summer may be round, rotating and built on a platform high above the floor of Madison Square Garden, event organizers said yesterday.

While rock bands or performance artists have been known to use center-floor rotating stages, no presidential candidate has received his party's nomination from one at a national convention, organizers said.

Republicans, though, have signaled all along that they want their convention, which will run from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, to help redefine political conventions, which have become predictable, scripted affairs with little drama or surprise. Theirs will certainly be scripted, but convention officials are hinting that there could be a few more surprises.

At a presentation yesterday by event organizers to about 800 news media representatives, the Republicans said their plans were preliminary and suggested that nothing was a given — from the position of the stage to the location of President Bush when he gives his acceptance speech.

When asked if they can guarantee that Mr. Bush will give his speech in Madison Square Garden, Chuck Fuqua, director of media operations, said he could not.

William Harris, chief executive officer of the convention, said, "Since the president is a different kind of Republican, it makes sense that he be nominated by a different kind of convention."

The convention is expected to draw up to 50,000 people to the Garden, and the Republicans said they planned to hold events in public parks (Bryant Park and Central Park), the other boroughs and perhaps on Ellis Island or Liberty Island.

"We are aggressively pursuing all of our options," Mr. Harris said when asked about use of the highly symbolic locations.

Republicans clearly mean for the location itself to be a message. They selected New York City as their convention site for the first time in the party's history, despite the city's leanings toward Democrats — it voted for Al Gore in 2000 — and its 5-to-1 registration advantage for Democrats.

But Republicans have tried to co-opt what was once the Democrats' claim to be a big-tent party open to all people. New York gives them a multiethnic community. It gives them national symbols. And it gives them the backdrop of Sept. 11 — even if they follow their intention of not holding events at ground zero.

The match, so far, has not been perfect. Hard feelings spread across New York City when Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, suggested using a luxury cruise ship as a floating hotel and entertainment center for Republican members of Congress and their guests. Last week, under pressure from fellow Republicans, Mr. DeLay abandoned the idea, and yesterday Mr. Harris appeared to be trying to smooth some of the ruffled feathers.

He particularly thanked Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who had irritated Mr. DeLay when he suggested in October that political donors not give to the Texas congressman because he had supported measures that would hurt the city. Mr. Harris also praised local labor unions, many of which were furious with the cruise ship proposal, saying it would take money and jobs away from the city.

"I am absolutely convinced we made the right decision to come here," Mr. Harris said in his opening remarks.

The Republicans staged their briefing in the Theater at Madison Square Garden, providing a slick virtual tour of the site and their convention plans for journalists. The organizers handed out a glossy handbook, showed off models of the three convention floor plans under consideration and gave tours of the Garden and the Post Office building across Eighth Avenue, which will serve as a center for some of the 15,000 journalists and technicians who will cover the event.

But Mr. Harris and others also pointedly avoided talking about some of the more difficult realities of holding a convention in a city with a lot of people who did not vote for their candidate.

The security perimeter, and where protesters will be allowed to set up, remain two of the biggest unknowns.

Protesters are already organizing for the event and some groups have made it clear they want to be near the convention hall.

In 1992, when Democrats held their convention in New York City, protesters were allowed to set up on Eighth Avenue, just outside the Post Office. But officials said yesterday that they could not even guarantee that the Post Office building would be within the security perimeter.

Event organizers, however, had plenty of details about the round stage. Although they said that the idea had not yet been accepted at the highest levels, it was their favorite of three choices; the others called for more conventional stages set against one side of the arena.

The round stage would require raising the floor of the garden by nine and a half feet, the organizers said. That would allow people who were going to appear on stage to avoid walking down the aisles between delegates, which would be a security problem. They could come up a staircase near the stage, from the space below the raised floor.

The stage would be raised six feet off the floor, and would rotate so that every seat has a full view of the speaker — another symbol of the kinder, gentler, Grand Old Party.

"It makes sense if you want to give all parts of the house equal opportunity to have the speaker face them," said Mike Miller, director of operations for the convention.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

December 17th, 2003, 01:31 PM
The Republicans; redefining political spin tactics once again. :wink:

December 17th, 2003, 10:19 PM
Indeed, something the Democrats never do. :wink:

December 18th, 2003, 02:35 AM

January 19th, 2004, 08:42 AM
New York Newsday

Kelly Promises Access for Protesters During GOP Convention

By Glenn Thrush
Staff Writer

January 18, 2004, 5:11 PM EST

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says that his department will closely monitor protesters at this summer's Republican National Convention while allowing them "within sight and sound" of Madison Square Garden. Without saying what specific security measures will be taken, Kelly said he would give protesters as much access as he can "without compromising" security.

"We're going to do everything that we can do lawfully, legally, reasonably to protect this city and to make certain that this is a peaceful and safe convention," Kelly said in an interview broadcast yesterday on WNBC's "News Forum." Asked if members of the police department's intelligence unit planned to infiltrate protest groups, Kelly said, "I'm not going to get into the specific tactics."

At the convention, which will run from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, protesters will be allowed "within sight and sound of their objective" -- Madison Square Garden, Kelly added.

The commissioner described himself as "facilitator of those who are practicing free speech."

That's not an opinion shared by demonstrators at last February's anti-war protests, which resulted in about 300 arrests.

In November, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed three federal lawsuits against the police department for blocking access to protest sites, using horses to disperse protesters and confining demonstrators in metal pens. "Commissioner Kelly's statement does not reflect the reality of his tenure," said civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, who plans to represent some of the demonstrators. "I am not confident that the NYPD will allow demonstrators at the Republican convention to meaningfully protest without judicial intervention."

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

TLOZ Link5
January 19th, 2004, 10:59 AM
I'm pretty sure that the delegates would not want to stay in a hotel in Clinton :roll:

Or at the very least, insist it be referred to as Hell's Kitchen.

January 26th, 2004, 04:52 AM
Who Are NYC's Republicans? (http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/demographics/20040126/5/853)

January 26th, 2004, 11:04 AM
New York Newsday

GOP Conventioneers Adjust To The Big City


Associated Press Writer

January 24, 2004, 9:35 AM EST

NEW YORK -- It's "The Real World" meets "The West Wing."

In a city where Democrats enjoy a 5-1 advantage, a passel of young Bush-backers from the Deep South and the Great Plains has relocated to Manhattan to help prepare for an event no one has ever seen in these parts: this summer's Republican National Convention.

But this is not a reality show; it's reality.

"New York is a total 180," says Keith Hensley, a convention staffer who arrived here in September from Georgetown, Texas. Back home, there's a lot more open space and "the buildings aren't like this," he says, holding his hands an inch apart, as if he's about to clap.

There's a lot to absorb in a short period of time, from navigating a tangle of subway lines and strange neighborhoods, to Thai food and transvestites.

And then there's the local lingo: It's easy to stumble over the pronunciation of Houston Street, which divides the upscale SoHo neighborhood from the laid-back Village. The name is pronounced "HOW-stun," not like the city in the president's home state.

The staff of about 50 will triple by this summer, when thousands of volunteers will join it for the four-day convention that begins Aug. 30.

Some commute back to spouses and homes in Washington. Others are single and thrilled with the chance to soak up all that Gotham has to offer. In true city style, these transplants live stacked on top of one another, in two high-rise apartment buildings within walking distance of convention headquarters at Madison Square Garden.

"When I came here, I was like, 'If I'm going to do New York, I'm going to do New York," says Hensley, 23, who works as an assistant to the convention's chief operating officer.

That means hitting the art museums, getting lost in Central Park, browsing rare book stores in Greenwich Village, Broadway shows on a Wednesday night and Thai food three times a week _ delivered, of course.

Staffers are also encountering new experiences like miso soup and the occasional catcall from a man dressed as a woman on colorful Bleecker Street.

"Nothing shocks me as much as it did when I first got here," Hensley says. "Now it's just like, well, that's New York."

Living here also means entertaining out-of-town guests, finding a church to attend on Sundays and calming nervous relatives about the city's negative reputation.

"I definitely haven't been afraid walking around by myself or anything, and it seems like it's a lot cleaner than most people probably would initially think of New York," said Elizabeth Hogan, 27, of Shreveport, La.

Hensley says his father was stunned when he told him of his plans.

"The first thing he said to me? I don't think you can print that," Hensley said. Dad came around, though, when he learned that his middle child would be working for the Republicans.

Staffers usually work 12-hour days, sometimes longer. The staff, which also includes some New Yorkers, handles everything from hotel assignments to the event's program. Essentially their task is to put on a four-day meeting for 50,000 people, which also means planning a series of events and parties throughout the city, outside the official convention.

Denise Dick, 32, who commutes from her home in Washington, says she and her husband try to spend some weekends in New York.

"It's just such a unique opportunity to really get to know New York and to feel like you're a part of the lifestyle of New York, versus just coming here for a vacation," said Dick, who is from Hillsboro, Ohio.

Hensley has also found that New Yorkers' stereotypical gruff exterior can be chipped away, with prodding.

"People in New York love to talk _ as long as you instigate the talking," he says.

The city comes with its own cultural conundrums. One staffer was told that New Yorkers tip their apartment doormen, but missed the essential explanation that once a year at the holidays is sufficient. For weeks he slipped them a tip each time he entered or left the building, and couldn't figure out how city-dwellers afforded this custom.

The staffers' rent at two luxury executive buildings, with fitness centers and rooftop decks, is paid by the New York City Host Committee, the fund-raising arm for the event.

And what do New Yorkers say when staffers describe what they do for a living?

"So you must be rich," one woman growled at Hensley.

"And I said, 'No, no, you are sadly mistaken,"' he said, laughing. "And she gave me this look, like she didn't like me, and I was like, you know, I'm still the same guy, I just believe in something."

The convention workers say they get a wide range of reactions. A familiar one: "What a bold move to do it in the city," Hogan said. "But I haven't had any major snarls or glares."

One unmarried staffer described how a woman chatted him up at a bar, only to flounce away in a huff after he revealed that he was working for the president.

This is the first Republican Convention ever in New York, a state that has not backed a GOP presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984. But the city has elected two successive Republican mayors, Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

Convention CEO and Alabama native Bill Harris, a self-described "country boy in the big city," acknowledges that most of the convention plans and business deals are being made with Democrats.

"Maybe it hadn't happened in the past and maybe it won't happen in the future, but I do think that right now, the city and the party agendas coincide, for different reasons maybe," he said recently. "New York in my mind is desirous of a spectacular national event, on a grand scale, and obviously our party is desirous of a spectacular convention on a grand scale."

The Republican staffers are adapting well to their new habitat, and in some cases, have begun doing very "New York" things like dressing in black, grumbling at tourists and getting asked for directions.

"It feels like home," Hensley said.

Some are even threatening to stay.

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press

TLOZ Link5
January 26th, 2004, 12:42 PM
Maybe, just maybe, this could be good for the city's image...


January 26th, 2004, 02:04 PM
I am sensing an anti-Republican or perhaps anti-Bush sentiment on our forum. If so, see the two links below. I hope you'll get seek out the activist in youreselves and join...



January 29th, 2004, 03:30 AM
January 29, 2004

Mayor Says Role at Convention Is Not to Be a Bush Cheerleader


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has entertained President Bush at his home, and once made the optimistic claim that Mr. Bush could carry New York City in the next election. But that does not mean that Mr. Bloomberg plans to spend his time at the Republican National Convention this summer screaming his support for the president.

Yesterday, during a radio interview on WNYC, a listener who described himself as a Democratic supporter of the mayor who dislikes the president, asked if Mr. Bloomberg planned to endorse President Bush from the podium at the convention. Mr. Bloomberg did not back away from his support for the president. But he also did not choose the public radio program as a venue for praising Mr. Bush.

"I'm told the mayors traditionally give a welcome speech, and I would be thrilled to do that," he said. "After that, I'm not a particularly political guy. I'll be spending the convention outside with the police to make sure the protesters have the ability to protest but that they don't disrupt the lives of others. I'm going to do what I can to make this city the showcase for the world."

This was quite different from how Mr. Bloomberg, a Democrat turned Republican who supports nonpartisan elections, characterized his viewpoint of Mr. Bush when speaking to Republicans on Staten Island last April. "We're going to have in a year and a half the best convention anybody's ever had right here in New York City," he said then. "And we are going to get George W. Bush re-elected as president of the United States! We are going to carry New York City and New York State. Everybody thinks I'm crazy, but I think we can do it."

Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, said Mr. Bloomberg fully supports the president but was simply emphasizing that his will be the more minor role among speakers.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

January 31st, 2004, 12:55 AM
January 31, 2004

Republicans Designate Hotels for Convention Delegations


The Texas state Republican delegation will not have a luxury cruise ship to sleep on when it comes to New York this summer - the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, abandoned that idea - but it will have the Hilton New York.

After working with the urgency of a bride trying to come up with a seating chart that does not offend, the Republican National Convention announced yesterday where state delegations will be staying when they visit New York from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 for the convention. The results of the hotel sweepstakes, which was a closely guarded secret, were released by the convention's Committee on Arrangements..

Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, had raised a few eyebrows when he planned to compete with New York's hotels by docking a cruise ship on the Hudson River and offering conventiongoers an alternative place to eat, sleep and relax.

He later dropped that plan, under pressure from many people, including fellow Republicans who said it made party members look like they wanted to avoid mingling with real-life New Yorkers.

But mingle they will in at least 25 hotels concentrated around the Midtown and Battery Park areas. Texas will share the Hilton New York, on the Avenue of the Americas between 53rd and 54th Streets, with Pennsylvania and Florida, two other states important to President Bush's chances for re-election.

"I think it's great," said Sara Gear Boyd, national committeewoman for the Vermont Republican Party, about her delegation's assignment to the Hilton Times Square, on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. "It's clean, it's vivacious again. It's the New York experience."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 2nd, 2004, 01:51 AM
February 2, 2004

Republican Conventioneers Get Their Hotel List


Once every four years, Betsy Werronen is reminded what an afterthought she is. It's not personal, but as Republican Party chairwoman for the District of Columbia, where just about 8 percent of registered voters are Republican, she does not carry the clout of, say, a party leader from Texas.

So when it comes time for the party's national nominating convention, she and her fellow D.C. delegates are lucky if they get a clean room somewhere near the hall. Four years ago, in Philadelphia, the district's delegation got a decidedly middlebrow Best Western.

But when national party officials handed out hotel assignments on Friday, Ms. Werronen was given the Algonquin, a hotel that may not be among New York's most luxurious, but is certainly among its most historic.

"I think they are trying to make up for past sins," Ms. Werronen said of the convention planners, with a laugh. "D.C. has not in the past fared too well. Let me tell you, compared to the Best Western, it will really be a treat."

The Republican National Committee's annual winter meeting in Washington is a chance to rally the troops for the coming political year, update them on the party's plans for the convention and give out hotel assignments. The convention, scheduled for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden, is technically about nominating George W. Bush to seek a second term as president. Practically, though, it's about partying, and central to that are hotel assignments.

"It's always the most anticipated moment of the winter meeting,'' said Alan Novak, state chairman from Pennsylvania. "Every state wants to know where they are staying."

Mr. Novak and his delegation landed in the Hilton New York along with Florida and Texas. Convention organizers said accommodations were assigned based on criteria like the size of the delegation. But as Ms. Werronen's experiences suggest, the decision may well be based on even more practical matters, like which states are crucial come the general election.

Or maybe it's just about putting parties with similar culinary tastes together.

"It is going to be the best hotel to have a good time," Mr. Novak said of the Hilton near Rockefeller Center. "We'll find some way to get some good barbecue into the hotel."

It was actually the Committee on Arrangements that decided who got to stay where. And like other aspects of the convention planning, the list of hotels was treated as a closely guarded secret right until about 4:30 p.m. Friday, when everyone found out at once.

So who gets the prime locations?

California, and presumably its new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be staying at the New York Marriott Marquis, one of the largest hotels in the city, with nearly 2,000 rooms. It also has its lobby on the eighth floor, a throwback to a time when the hotel was doing whatever it could to keep its guests far away from the tawdriness of Times Square, according to a spokeswoman for the hotel. Mr. Schwarzenegger may like to know that the hotel recently spent $3.5 million to build a new physical fitness center (which is free to hotel guests).

Rhode Island, Puerto Rico, Utah and Delaware have been put in the Millenium Hilton, which may be a bit of a hike from the convention center at Madison Square Garden, but will offer its guests an unrivaled view of ground zero. The Republicans have gone to great lengths to insist they are not coming to New York for the first time in the party's history to exploit the tragedy of Sept. 11. And a party spokeswoman became nervous when it was pointed out that 90 percent of the rooms in the hotel offer a view of the site.

Then, of course, there is Washington, D.C., in the Algonquin. At 59 West 44th Street, "The Gonk," as it was once fondly called, was where writers and critics, or, as a plaque in the hotel says, "the century's literary luminaries," met for lunch from 1919 to 1929 in a group that became known as the Round Table. If ever there were the possibility of a culture clash between the host city and its guests, this quirky hotel once might have been the front line.

But the hotel, which has been long on business travelers and a bit short on luminaries in recent days, is as excited about the D.C. delegates as they are about the hotel. And there are aspects of the Algonquin that might actually make some of the visitors feel right at home. "A liberal is a man who leaves the room when a fight starts," said Dorothy Parker, the writer and poet, in a quotation that has been immortalized on a hotel room door.

But then on a second door, there is another snarky quotation from Mrs. Parker that Republicans might, perhaps, not feel too warmly about: "How can you tell?" she asked, on hearing that former President Calvin Coolidge, a Republican, was dead.

Jess Wisloski contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
February 2nd, 2004, 01:21 PM
And of course, Bush will get the Waldorf.

February 23rd, 2004, 05:42 AM
February 23, 2004

To Greet G.O.P., Protests of Varying Volume


Billionaires for Bush, using satire in their name and mission, which is anything but support for the president.

When the Republican National Convention comes to town, the Rev. Peter Laarman hopes to greet it with a quiet, reserved defiance. He wants religious leaders to hold discussion groups on concerns about politicizing Sept. 11. He wants to have seminars to discuss lost jobs. And he wants to bring experts to New York to discuss national security.

What he does not want to do is take to the streets with huge protests. Instead, through a campaign he calls the Accountability Project, he hopes to offer a thoughtful counterpoint when the Republicans stage their nominating convention in New York, scheduled for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

But Mr. Laarman may find his tempered voice drowned out in what may well be a tense and angry time on the streets of Manhattan.

Though the Police Department and many protest organizers have been reluctant to predict how many people will ultimately turn out for protests, estimates have ranged from 500,000 people to a million.

Six months before any delegate is to take a seat at Madison Square Garden, it is clear that many groups are already planning strategy and activities. Labor unions, environmentalists, self-declared anarchists and others who merely label themselves as anti-Bush or anti-Republican are making plans to turn out. Barely a week passes without several planning sessions in New York, focusing on everything from housing and tactics to legal strategy and what to expect in interactions with the police.

Organizers have gathered in a private loft in SoHo, in offices owned by the United Federation of Teachers near Wall Street, in a church in the East Village, and in offices around the city. The groups have names like United for Peace and Justice and Not in Our Name, and their intentions run the gamut from wanting to shut the convention down to holding the Labor Day parade on Thursday, Sept. 2, the day President Bush is scheduled to accept his party's nomination.

There are people planning tent cities to accommodate protesters from across the country, lawyers' committees to assist those who are arrested, legal observers to monitor the police, and baby sitters, dog walkers, translators, medics, even clergy members. All are working to help protesters overwhelm the positive message Republicans are hoping their convention generates.

At the same time, some organizers, like Mr. Laarman, do not want to risk clashing with the police and are looking at alternative means to make their point. The group Billionaires for Bush, for example, plans to use humor and satire, holding up signs like "Corporations are people, too" and "More Bush, Less Taxes."

"You see that people understand the stakes, and so there is much more of a judicious view about making sure we do something that is effective, and is heard, and that gets attention, and that doesn't backfire," said Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which, with other labor organizations, has begun to discuss counter-convention plans.

The problem of backfiring protests is much on the minds of many protest organizers, who say that any violence would serve only to marginalize their message and strengthen Mr. Bush's appeal.

"We all can see that it works very much to the advantage of the administration if the president strikes a heroic pose in New York, identifying with the tragedy of Sept. 11 yet again, and if the people who are registering displeasure are doing so in a violent and disruptive way," said Mr. Laarman, who left his post as senior minister at Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square in Greenwich Village to help plan anti-convention activities for the Accountability Project.

He added: "I am not in the business of predictions, but it is my guess a very significant number of people from New York and from around the world are going to take the position that the convention should be shut down or disrupted. There is a good likelihood of that."

Complicating things for protest organizers, the police, the Secret Service and convention planners have revealed little of their plans. The police have not said where they will allow protesters to demonstrate, though they have said that protest areas would be within "sight and sound" of the convention, a legal threshold. "We're working with protest organizers already,'' said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne, "and we will work with them throughout. We want to give them sight and sound proximity, while allowing R.N.C. participants uninterrupted access to and from the convention.''

He added later, "We're looking to save lives, not stifle dissent.''

Nonetheless, many people planning to protest are girding themselves for encounters with the police. Ann Shirazi, 59, a social worker who lives in Manhattan, said she thought the police - in New York and across the nation - were using their powers to silence critics of the government.

"It does frighten me this can happen in my country," Ms. Shirazi said. "It will not stop me from standing on a street corner. But it is terrifying."

Ms. Shirazi, who plans to protest against the convention, was so concerned she accepted the invitation of a group calling itself the Organization to attend a "Know Your Rights" seminar. At the seminar, in a loft at Broadway and Houston Street, about 25 people whose ages ranged from 17 to 59 sat and listened recently as three lawyers gave advice and social commentary on what one lawyer called "these dark times."

"Even if you are aware of your rights, it doesn't mean they will be respected," said Debbie Hrbek, a criminal lawyer who volunteered to address the gathering. "You need to go into every situation with a police officer anticipating they won't do the right thing."

The audience accepted that as a given and then asked questions.

"Is it legal during a protest when the cops swoop in and arrest people?''

"Can the police demand to look in your bag for no reason?"

"Once arrested, how long can they hold you?"

Audience members sat quietly, many taking notes as the lawyers encouraged them not to confront the police.

"The police can do anything they want," said Bruce Bentley, co-chairman of the Mass Defense Committee of the National Lawyers Guild in New York. "Is it lawful or not? That will be decided later. That's why we are saying it is better not to mix it up with the cops."

Others, however, like Mr. Laarman, of the Accountability Project, were focusing on staying off the streets. His goal, he said, is to provide a "third narrative" to the convention - the first being the convention itself and the second direct confrontation. He said he is aiming his approach at people like his mother, whom he described as an independent voter living in Wisconsin.

Mr. Laarman and Carl Lipscombe, operating out of an office on the 24th floor at 50 Broadway, are trying to raise money and enlist help. Their goal, Mr. Laarman said, is to try to counter the convention's message without staging protests.

They plan to start later next month, when his group is the co-host of a town hall forum called "Shock and Awe in New York" - playing off the name the military gave for its opening offensive against Iraq - at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

A university brochure says, in part, that notable New Yorkers will examine the question of "what communities can do when political leaders appropriate emotionally charged icons for their own purposes."

Groups like Anarchists World Fair, Radical Teachers, Time's Up, World War III Arts-in-Action, Campaign to Demilitarize the Police and Still We Rise, to name a few, have also been meeting together and sharing information for months, operating under an umbrella called the No RNC Clearinghouse. Their meetings are drawing more than 100 people, with an abundance of body piercing, tattoos, dreadlocks and army fatigues, and are organized with the precision and language of a business meeting, including flow charts and agendas.

Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, a coalition that organized an antiwar rally in Manhattan last February that attracted crowds estimated at 100,000 to 500,000 people, said that the size and intensity of the planning were not surprising.

"All signs point to the convention becoming a magnet for protest as so many New Yorkers and others want to speak their mind about Bush policies, foreign and domestic," Mr. Dobbs said after attending the most recent Clearinghouse meeting.

Many people are talking about coming in from around the country and other parts of the world. Using the Internet as an organizing tool, they are trying to set up housing, transportation and other logistical issues.

Jays Janney, 35, a doctoral student in sociology at Indiana University, said she and about seven other graduate students were preparing to come to protest and to document the interaction between the police and protesters. The students have organized reading groups to discuss works about social movements. Next will be direct action training, or the practical aspects of participating in a large and potentially volatile protest, she said.

"One of the students asked her mom for some cash, and the mom said, 'Only if I get to go, too,' " Ms. Janney said.

For all this, the Republicans said they were not much concerned.

"We are confident that the N.Y.P.D. and U.S. Secret Service will create a security plan that will allow the Republican National Convention to conduct its business in a safe and orderly manner, while ensuring that other individuals are allowed to voice their opinions at that time in New York City," said Leslie Beyer, deputy spokeswoman for the campaign.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 24th, 2004, 07:47 AM
February 24, 2004


How Do You Plan a Party for 50,000? Don't Ask


WILLIAM HARRIS isn't talking.

Don't be mistaken, he is not silent. He's running through his litany of talking points and prepared answers, but he's not giving anything away.

Mr. Harris likes a surprise.

For months now, Mr. Harris has been quietly developing plans to stage one of the biggest parties New York has seen in a long time. He is the chief executive of the Republican National Convention, which is coming to Madison Square Garden this summer, and as such is a sort of super concierge to the national Republican Party.

He must find a way to entertain 50,000 delegates, dignitaries and guests, as well as hold the attention of a national television audience. All while giving President Bush a running start in his re-election bid.

And he isn't talking. "I'm trying to figure out how not to tell you," Mr. Harris said as he sank into a black leather sofa in his office.

Here's some of what he's not telling: Where will President Bush give his acceptance speech? There has been speculation that he might do it outside the Garden, and while that is unlikely, Mr. Harris won't give so much as a wink or a nod. He isn't discussing the kind of events he plans to stage, the neighborhoods he'd like to visit, or really much of anything about what to expect.

It's always back to his talking points.

"A convention is a national event,'' he said. "And so what you want in terms of a national event is to create an infrastructure - a forum, if you will - that's the most stable forum possible so you can present a vision and an image to the American people."

Wherever did he learn to talk like that?

Mr. Harris is a veteran party operative, a Southern Republican who started rising through the ranks when Democrats still reigned supreme in the South. He grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and fell into politics when a roommate's sister married the executive director of the Alabama Republican Party. He did volunteer work for the party, helped run campaigns and eventually became chairman of the state party.

"I just sort of kept doing it," he said.

He's helped out in every convention since 1972, arranging transportation, aiding state delegations, serving as sergeant-at-arms. Now he is leading his party into enemy territory. The Republicans have never before held their nominating convention in New York City, where there are five registered Democrats for every registered Republican. There is talk of large protests and unprecedented security.

But Mr. Harris said he wasn't worried.

The Republicans insist that they are not coming to New York to capitalize on Sept. 11 and have said that they won't hold any convention-related events at ground zero. Not everyone believes them. When Mr. Harris was asked if they are still committed to staying away, he paused for a split second, then seemed to answer very carefully.

"I am committed to that, yes," he said.

So if not ground zero, then why New York? Mr. Harris says he would like to hold events in the neighborhoods, where his candidate could benefit by seeming to embrace the ethnic diversity that is New York. But he's not saying where or when. He says he'd like to employ some of the national icons here, but he won't say which ones. "How about the Brooklyn Bridge?" he was asked.

"That's a good suggestion," he said.

And so it's back to the talking points. "In my mind, this commitment that I made to myself and to all the people I've talked to about getting this job was: let's really see if we can redefine this convention," he said.

But how?

SELECTING New York was a start. Mr. Harris has an office high above Madison Square Garden. His aides asked that the exact floor not be published, for security reasons, which would suggest more concern than Mr. Harris is ready to concede. Before coming to New York, Mr. Harris said, he was concerned about the traffic, the strong labor unions and the high prices. The traffic is still a problem, he said, and the prices are high, but the labor unions are very cooperative. He said he understood that they wanted the work the convention would generate and weren't in this to promote the president.

But for Mr. Harris, motivation doesn't matter. "Some people who want it to be a successful experience aren't doing it because they want to help George Bush," he said. "They want to do it because they see it as a good thing for New York."

Considering all the time he is spending in New York, when he is not home in Virginia, Mr. Harris doesn't seem to be getting out much. He can't recall the restaurants he has dined in, and he hasn't been to a Broadway show this year.

Perhaps he has been way too busy with all those things he won't talk about. He became a tad playful when asked if California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, would play a prominent role at the convention. "Oh, I think people will be very excited to see the governor," he said.

Does that mean Mr. Schwarzenegger will be giving a prime-time speech?

"I mean he gets access to the floor of the convention as governor," Mr. Harris said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 24th, 2004, 01:18 PM
I rarely speak on the topic, but I'm concerned about terrorism here. MSG sits atop Penn Station, which would be basically indefensible to a ruthlessly creative and well-funded terrorist group. It's always concerned me. You can't control who or what's going to be on every train coming in and out of Penn Station. I imagine the people doing the security for this thing are really stressed out, if not they're really stupid.

February 24th, 2004, 02:05 PM
Can anybody suggest any websites for groups that are organizing protests during the convention?

February 28th, 2004, 12:31 PM
February 28, 2004

Penn Station Is to Stay Open During G.O.P. Convention


Federal officials helping to coordinate security for the Republican National Convention this summer are planning to keep Pennsylvania Station open during the four-day event, though there will be much more security in the station and perhaps on the trains as well.

Penn Station is the busiest commuter rail station in the country, serving about 600,000 passengers on any given work day, and the possibility of its closing during the four-day convention is a source of anxiety not only for commuters, but for political leaders not eager to disrupt the lives of so many people.

The United States Secret Service, the lead federal agency coordinating security for the convention, has been working on plans that it says seek to balance security at Madison Square Garden for President Bush and the 50,000 others at the convention with the need to keep Midtown running when the convention is held from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

Steven G. Hughes, Secret Service coordinator for the convention, said it is inevitable that New Yorkers will be inconvenienced. Stores within the area will have to arrange their pickups and deliveries at specified times. No truck will get into the area without first being screened. Garbage cans and mailboxes will be removed. Garbage pickups will have to be rearranged so that bags do not sit on the street.

But he said that the Secret Service wanted life to go on. So while plans can change if there is suddenly a perceived threat, plans call for the rail station to remain open, he said. There may, however, be security agents on every train that comes in and out of the station, which services Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit. In addition, the National Guard, which already patrols the station, may be asked to beef up its presence there.

It is a sensitive assignment for the Secret Service, which is working closely with the New York City Police Department and 39 other state, city and federal agencies to address the prospect of record numbers of protesters, the potential threat of terrorism and the promise of frayed nerves among residents and business people from the area.

"There will be ultimate security for this event,'' Mr. Hughes said in an interview in his office in Brooklyn. "We are leaving no stone unturned."

The Republican National Convention has been declared a national security event, which gives the Secret Service status as lead federal agency helping coordinate the activities of other agencies. Together the Secret Service, the city police and the other agencies have assembled 18 subcommittees to address everything from training to motorcade route safety to public information. The agencies plan to stage mock drills in June, for example.

This will be the first Republican National Convention in New York, a city with a history of liberal activism and with five enrolled Democrats for every enrolled Republican. Though it is impossible to say how many people will turn out, demonstrators are predicting large numbers of protesters. Mr. Hughes said that law enforcement began planning last year and would be "prepared for any number."

While a lot of the nuts and bolts of the security operation will be carried out by the Police Department, a lot of what the city police decides will depend on where the Secret Service sets up its so-called frozen zone, which has not yet been determined. The Police Department - which will decide where protesters will be permitted and how they will be allowed to assemble, whether behind barricades or in penned areas - must first wait for the Secret Service to makes its decision, law enforcement officials said.

Security for a convention is a mammoth task. Law enforcement officials, for example, will conduct an assessment of each of the 43 hotels that will house officials, delegates and guests. It takes one month to scrutinize a hotel, Mr. Hughes said, with investigators looking at all personnel as well as the accessibility of fire escapes, the reliability of backup generators and other details.

The Secret Service must also provide security inside the Garden. In 1992, when the Democrats held their convention in New York, no one but New York City police officers and Secret Service agents were allowed to carry guns in the arena, which angered state police security details working with governors from other states. This time, however, the Secret Service is trying to come up with some type of negotiated agreement in advance, so that there are no conflicts on conventions days.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 28th, 2004, 02:46 PM
I doubt the RNC really knew what they were getting into, holding their convention above the busiest train station in the country. Their fat suburban minds have no conception of the realities of urban density. I hope this convention is an absolute debacle, making them sorry they ever thought of using NYC as a backdrop to their sickening propaganda.

March 5th, 2004, 01:56 AM
March 5, 2004

For Bloomberg and the G.O.P., Pre-Party Jitters


On paper, the Republican National Convention should be the four most fabulous days in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's political career. He will be presiding over the largest gathering of fellow Republicans ever in New York, with the nation's eyes turned on his city and, presumably, the mayor himself.

But Mr. Bloomberg — a lifelong Democrat who became a Republican to run for office — finds himself in an uncomfortable political position, one that promises to get tougher as the convention nears. New York Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by a ratio of five to one, are complaining that their mayor is doing the bidding of the White House. At the same time, Republicans close to the White House say they view Mr. Bloomberg's Democratic background with suspicion and have clashed with his aides over logistical and financial details of the convention.

It is as if Mr. Bloomberg will be host of a dinner party where half the guests cannot stand the other half, and it is only the salad course.

At times, the White House and City Hall have gone head to head over who is ultimately in control of the event. The host committee (city officials in charge of raising the money) and the committee on arrangements (national Republicans in charge of spending it) have disagreed over everything from how much money should be spent on vendors to how security should be handled.

These disputes have been colored in part, several officials said, by lingering resentments from a nasty confrontation between the Bloomberg administration and Bush officials about ground zero security at the first anniversary of Sept. 11. But in choosing New York, national Republicans overcame any qualms, thanks to the irresistible ground zero backdrop and the more than $60 million Mr. Bloomberg pledged to raise for the convention, scheduled for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

"Like anything else in the commercial world, most of the disagreements are over money," said David A. Norcross, who represents the national party as chairman of the committee on arrangements. "When you've raised the money, it is hard to let go." A few weeks ago, Mr. Norcross was called in from Washington to the convention's Midtown headquarters to mediate the disputes.

The White House also dismisses any talk of conflicts. "This administration has an excellent working relationship with Mr. Bloomberg," said Ken Lisaius, a White House spokesman. "Mr. Bloomberg and the president have a good relationship as well."

Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, said, "There is nothing more than the usual tensions that exist when any two organizations work together," adding: "No matter what any New Yorker's political persuasion or beliefs are — and we have people from all over in the spectrum on this — there is little dispute that this is a great thing for the city."

There are many examples of mayors being involved with conventions for opposing political parties. For example, Mayor Edward G. Rendell of Philadelphia signed up the Republicans for 2000 and had gone on to become the general chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Bloomberg's situation is far more complex. He is a member of the party here to re-elect the president, but he needs the votes of a majority in the opposing party.

To wit, a recent caller to the mayor's radio program, a Democrat who said he had voted for Mr. Bloomberg in 2001, warned that if he made an enthusiastic speech for President Bush at the convention, he could expect this voter's wrath in the polling place next year.

"The mayor is starting to get the reality of how much people hate Bush in this city," said Sarah S. Kovner, a Manhattan Democrat who served in the Clinton administration. "People who have been strong supporters of him are not going to take too kindly to his support of the president. I think they will be sorry they asked for this convention."

Further, Mr. Bloomberg finds himself on the other side of the president or the national party on several divisive issues, like gay marriage, abortion rights and gun control. And the mayor's aides make it clear that their goal for the convention begins and ends with the economic benefit for the city and that they are not interested in the event's political objectives. "The mayor and his staff are not doing this for partisan reasons," said a Republican consultant involved in the convention. "If they were, there would be zero conflict."

And while Mr. Bloomberg has raised and donated millions of dollars for the party and its candidates, the consultant said, "The fact is that everyone who works with him and around him are Democrats. That makes us a little uneasy."

Six Republicans involved with the convention all drew a contrast with Gov. George E. Pataki, whom they cited for his open embrace of the president, his willingness to raise money and his desire to "literally do anything we want," one White House official said.

Still, at the end of the day, the national Republican Party, the White House and the Bloomberg administration all share the same goal, said William D. Harris, chief executive officer of the convention, in an e-mail message: "to create the best possible convention for the Republican Party and the city of New York."

But some of the bad feeling goes back to the first anniversary of Sept. 11 at ground zero. Among the issues were that invitations were sent out well in advance to the families of those killed, and the Secret Service announced less than a week before the event that each family member would have to come much earlier than planned to pass through a metal detector, according to three officials in the administration.

"Under ordinary circumstances," said one of the officials, "you do whatever the Secret Service wants. But in this case, this would have ruined the ceremony because family members would have waited on long lines to get in and many would have missed hearing their loved one's name being read." Bloomberg officials recalled how the president's visit to the World Series a year before had caused fans to miss half the game because of long security procedures.

City Hall balked again last September at a Secret Service request for metal detectors at ground zero before Vice President Dick Cheney's planned visit. Mr. Cheney canceled the visit and spent the day elsewhere in the city.

White House officials raised these incidents when the city bid on the convention, said three people involved on both sides, and it was an issue that had to be mitigated, largely through the city's tasty package.

The Bloomberg administration, citing its own antiterrorism task force, feels confident that it can secure the convention without outside help. The committee on arrangements wants an outside security firm. "There has always been a need for security," Mr. Norcross said. "And is it heightened now without a doubt."

But the host committee — Bloomberg appointees — did not want to have to pay for it, and insists that any outside security contracts be paid for with general fund money. The administration has pledged to raise more than $60 million for the event and say they have already surpassed their goal. Other contracts, relating to things like transportation and other infrastructure needed for the event to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, are also in dispute, although Mr. Norcross said these disagreements were not serious.

Yet Mr. Bloomberg must also keep an eye on the voters of New York. Democrats who plan to run against the mayor next year will almost certainly use any perceived coziness with the national Republican Party to woo swing voters who dislike the president.

The mayor has tried to find a balance. For example, he said yesterday that he thought it was fine for the president to use images from Sept. 11 in his campaign ads. But he has also opposed Mr. Bush on the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. And while he has expressed support for Mr. Bush's re-election, he has said he has no plans to speak at the convention.

"The mayor's role here is not to capture the center stage during the convention," said Mr. Skyler, his spokesman. "His job is to make sure the city is a good host. You're talking about filling hotels and Broadway shows at a traditionally slow time of the year. It's not about helping the mayor, it's about what is good for this city."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 20th, 2004, 05:25 PM
well, just to play the devil's advocate for a moment, how bad would a massive terrorist attack during the RNC really be? just look at all the positives:

- it would destroy the ugliest sports arena in america
- it would destroy the ugliest train station in america
- it would eliminate the entire fascist... er, republican party leadership

assuming no innocent people get killed, it doesn't sound like such a bad proposition.

March 20th, 2004, 09:17 PM
While I want Bush sent home as much as anyone, that kind of talk only makes progressives look radical. A terrorist attack should not be wished on anyone, including the GOP, and especially not in NYC.

April 2nd, 2004, 01:11 AM
April 2, 2004

Penn Station May Close Temporarily for Convention


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg raised the possibility yesterday that Pennsylvania Station might be shut down temporarily during the Republican National Convention.

Earlier this week, officials in Boston, where the Democratic National Convention is to be held in July, announced that a rail and subway hub, North Station, would be closed for an entire week, beginning three days before the convention. The station is in the same building as the FleetCenter, where the convention will take place, and security officials said they deemed the closing necessary, especially after the recent train bombings in Madrid.

But in New York, where the Republican convention will be held at Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, police and Secret Service officials had dismissed suggestions of a similar closing for Penn Station, although they cautioned that those plans could change. Earlier this week, the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, issued a statement saying that the city would remain "open for business'' during the convention, including the station and "all major thoroughfares."

But yesterday, after saying that the Secret Service had not asked the city to close the station, Mr. Bloomberg allowed for the possibility of shutting it down, if only for a few hours.

"If the Secret Service feels that it's necessary we'll certainly talk to them," Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference when asked if he thought the station should be shut. "If they came and said that, you know, for two hours or something they felt that there was a heightened security during the presidential speech above, that wouldn't be the world's worst thing."

Still, he said, any disruptions would be minor and would probably be limited to the areas immediately surrounding the garden. "Most people will go about their business and not even know that there is another event taking place," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 5th, 2004, 01:59 PM
Still, he said, any disruptions would be minor and would probably be limited to the areas immediately surrounding the garden. "Most people will go about their business and not even know that there is another event taking place," he said.

Does anyone here actually believe that? Aren't there 100,000+ commuters a day passing through Penn station?

Freedom Tower
April 5th, 2004, 04:25 PM
well, just to play the devil's advocate for a moment, how bad would a massive terrorist attack during the RNC really be? just look at all the positives:

- it would destroy the ugliest sports arena in america
- it would destroy the ugliest train station in america
- it would eliminate the entire fascist... er, republican party leadership

assuming no innocent people get killed, it doesn't sound like such a bad proposition.

And all this time I thought bleeding heart liberals didn't want to fight terrorism because they supported it. Now I've realized it! Communists, er i mean liberals don't want to fight terrorism because they are hoping it will destroy the Republican party! Thanks for clearing that up midnight rambler. Because I guess terrorist attacks are good when they kill the right people, huh?

This confirms everything I have ever thought about the liberal/terrorist connection. - this isnt a joke either. many liberals like to take the threat of terrorism as a joke. if family membors of 911 victims read the "pros" to a terrorist attack, I'm sure they'd be apalled.-

And I don't want to hear the "it was just a joke, don't take it seriously" responses. Republicans are scrutinized for everything they say, IE ME!!. Midnight rambler thinks he can get away with supporting the murder of groups of people that disagree with him. Hmmm, I guess we should all support the kiling of anyone that disagrees with us politically, that is facism the way the nazis used it! Congratulations on becoming a nazi/terrorist rambler!

April 5th, 2004, 05:06 PM
I pass through Penn station when I get off from the 2 or the 3 and then I walk on 33st or underground to get to work on 33st between 9th and 10th avenue...

:x I will called it a disruption.

April 5th, 2004, 06:02 PM
well, just to play the devil's advocate for a moment, how bad would a massive terrorist attack during the RNC really be? just look at all the positives:

- it would destroy the ugliest sports arena in america
- it would destroy the ugliest train station in america
- it would eliminate the entire fascist... er, republican party leadership

assuming no innocent people get killed, it doesn't sound like such a bad proposition.

And all this time I thought bleeding heart liberals didn't want to fight terrorism because they supported it. Now I've realized it! Communists, er i mean liberals don't want to fight terrorism because they are hoping it will destroy the Republican party! Thanks for clearing that up midnight rambler. Because I guess terrorist attacks are good when they kill the right people, huh?

This confirms everything I have ever thought about the liberal/terrorist connection. - this isnt a joke either. many liberals like to take the threat of terrorism as a joke. if family membors of 911 victims read the "pros" to a terrorist attack, I'm sure they'd be apalled.-

And I don't want to hear the "it was just a joke, don't take it seriously" responses. Republicans are scrutinized for everything they say, IE ME!!. Midnight rambler thinks he can get away with supporting the murder of groups of people that disagree with him. Hmmm, I guess we should all support the kiling of anyone that disagrees with us politically, that is facism the way the nazis used it! Congratulations on becoming a nazi/terrorist rambler!

You know, I could offer a rebuttal to just about everything you said, but I have neither the time nor the energy to do so, and I suspect that you probably wouldn't read it if I did. Therefore, since don't I want to dignify your post with a real response, I'll just stoop to your level of name-calling (nazi terrorist?) and say that you're a complete idiot.

And now back to the topic at hand...

April 5th, 2004, 06:53 PM

The young women in that picture- they look pretty cute if you ask me. The one on the far right with the elegant black gown and dress shoes is the hottest...yum. :wink:

Back to the RNC Convention, I predict Bush will be the least henious part of the big meeting. We all know what Pataki wants to do in Lower Manhattan during that convention. The city and state governments are proving every bit as out-of-touch with the voters as the federal government is. I despise Bloomberg and Pataki more than I despise Bush; at least he doesn't pretend to be politically correct. But since Bush has incurred the open hatred of virtually every staunch liberal in the country, I'll leave it to them to condemn everything about him and his policies.

Freedom Tower
April 5th, 2004, 08:49 PM
well, just to play the devil's advocate for a moment, how bad would a massive terrorist attack during the RNC really be? just look at all the positives:

- it would destroy the ugliest sports arena in america
- it would destroy the ugliest train station in america
- it would eliminate the entire fascist... er, republican party leadership

assuming no innocent people get killed, it doesn't sound like such a bad proposition.

And all this time I thought bleeding heart liberals didn't want to fight terrorism because they supported it. Now I've realized it! Communists, er i mean liberals don't want to fight terrorism because they are hoping it will destroy the Republican party! Thanks for clearing that up midnight rambler. Because I guess terrorist attacks are good when they kill the right people, huh?

This confirms everything I have ever thought about the liberal/terrorist connection. - this isnt a joke either. many liberals like to take the threat of terrorism as a joke. if family membors of 911 victims read the "pros" to a terrorist attack, I'm sure they'd be apalled.-

And I don't want to hear the "it was just a joke, don't take it seriously" responses. Republicans are scrutinized for everything they say, IE ME!!. Midnight rambler thinks he can get away with supporting the murder of groups of people that disagree with him. Hmmm, I guess we should all support the kiling of anyone that disagrees with us politically, that is facism the way the nazis used it! Congratulations on becoming a nazi/terrorist rambler!

You know, I could offer a rebuttal to just about everything you said, but I have neither the time nor the energy to do so, and I suspect that you probably wouldn't read it if I did. Therefore, since don't I want to dignify your post with a real response, I'll just stoop to your level of name-calling (nazi terrorist?) and say that you're a complete idiot.

And now back to the topic at hand...

My level of name calling? Did you not just call the republican party a group of fascists? I was simply following your level of name calling.

My name calling is no worse than yours, and more truthful because YOU, like terrorists, wish the death and murder of a large group of people because they disagree with your opinions!!!

Freedom Tower
April 5th, 2004, 08:54 PM
A terrorist attack should not be wished on anyone, including the GOP, and especially not in NYC.

Although I nearly always disagree with you politically, tonyo, I cannot agree more with your above statement. Despite my anti-liberal stance I would never wish something like that to occur to the DNC. I wish they'd be mocked but not attacked!! Free speech and the first amendment also have much to do with not killing people who express opinions contrary to yours!!

Midnight Rambler - even your fellow "progressives" disagree with your "Murder all republicans" idea. [/b]

April 5th, 2004, 09:02 PM
You must be the most irratatingly dense person that has ever lived.

April 9th, 2004, 07:16 PM
New York Post
April 9, 2004

'Rad' Alert at Convention


The NYPD will use specially trained arrest units at this summer's Republican National Convention to track radical groups and arrest protesters set on making mayhem in the streets, officials said yesterday.

The nine-member units will be on the lookout for small bands of anarchists who don masks and attempt to incite large groups of peaceful protesters to commit acts of vandalism.

"They're relatively small groups that try to turn a peaceful crowd toward violence," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.

When the World Economic Forum was held in New York City in early 2002, a similar NYPD unit broke up a group of demonstrators that Browne said was preparing to wreak havoc on The Plaza hotel with pipes, ball bearings and bottles of urine.

"We sent an arrest team in and took them out before anything could happen," Browne said.

A spokesman for United for Peace and Justice - an umbrella organization that's planning a massive convention-time march - said cops went overboard at the World Economic Forum.

"We're very concerned about the First Amendment and are outraged to hear that the NYPD would want to surveil and potentially infiltrate political groups, given the ugly history of police crackdowns on protests in this town," said Bill Dobbs.

While anti-convention Web sites are careful not to explicitly promote violence, many contain so-called "direct action" manuals.

Rncnotwelcome.org, for instance, contains a section titled "Fight the Man and Get Away Safely."

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

TLOZ Link5
April 9th, 2004, 08:07 PM
I'm all for the protests, but no one wants to see a peaceful demonstration used as an excuse to damage property or attack people. You cross that line and you ought to be disciplined. The last thing that anyone wants is what's happened in Seattle, Geneva and Miami, among others, in recent years.

April 9th, 2004, 11:22 PM
April 10, 2004

Second-Guessing of Bush Now Extends to Convention Site


When the Republican Party chose New York City as the site of its 2004 nominating convention, the symbolism was apparent: the G.O.P. would be rallying around its nominee in the city that had come to embody the nation's resolve in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, a place where President Bush once stood on a pile of debris at ground zero, rallying the nation to unite in the war on terror.

But then came Richard A. Clarke, the 9/11 commission and a rising insurgency in Iraq. Now, as the administration faces increasing scrutiny of its handling of pre-9/11 terror threats and the wisdom of extending the war on terrorism into Iraq, the question has emerged whether New York is the best place for the Republicans to be gathering this summer.

"I would assume that it has turned from a win-win to a maybe not," said a Republican political strategist who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. Like many others, the strategist was reluctant to contradict the party line. "I don't think that it is all negative at this point, but it has the potential to turn. It's eroding slowly, and that's a real problem for them."

For President Bush, choosing New York was a somewhat risky move, even when his connection to Sept. 11 invoked nothing but a strong image of leadership and resolve. Not only is New York an overwhelmingly Democratic state, with no chance that it will give its electoral votes to the Bush-Cheney ticket, but any perception that he was exploiting 9/11 for political gain could threaten to undermine their effort to emphasize the central theme of his re-election campaign.

But while some Republican leaders still express confidence about staging the convention in New York, a few very tough weeks in which the president's former counterterrorism adviser has questioned the administration's handling of the Qaeda threat and dozens of Americans have died in Iraq have made other strategists nervous. They say they fear it could underscore any second-guessing of the president on national security issues.

"The premise for coming to New York is no longer valid," said Roger Stone, a longtime Republican political strategist who supports President Bush but is also known as a maverick who at times has opposed Republican candidates. "Karl Rove's master stroke idea may turn out to be an unmitigated disaster. It has the potential to highlight an issue that may be a negative by the time he gets to the convention."

Democrats, who are holding their convention in Boston, may be grappling with a similar situation, as Massachusetts has become a focus in the debate over gay marriage.

From the moment the Republicans selected New York City to be host to their convention, they insisted that the choice had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks and that it was fundamentally a business deal. New York, Republican officials said, offered the best package, one that was enhanced by the city's cultural attractions and its host of national icons, like the Statue of Liberty.

That is a position party officials repeated yesterday, saying that there was no reason to be afraid to come to New York given recent events, because it was chosen for many reasons - none of which included Sept. 11.

"The president has done a tremendous job leading our country since the 9/11 attack on America," said Mark Pfeifle, director of communications for the convention. "But New York was chosen because the community represented the best overall financial, cultural, transportation venue and labor package."

But it is also clear that the president, at least initially, had intended to fashion his campaign around his leadership in the war on terrorism. His campaign commercials have employed images of ground zero, including a flag-draped corpse. Those commercials demonstrated the double-edged reality of employing 9/11 as a campaign theme.

While Mr. Bush's advisers said it was appropriate to highlight his stewardship of the nation after the attacks, the commercials also drew outcries from many people who said the campaign was exploiting a national tragedy for political gain.

But the convention is coming to New York, and while the rawness of 9/11 may have begun to fade, recent events seemed to rip open the wounds anew. And now some supporters of the president say that in very political terms they think he needs to come to New York - and indeed will benefit from coming to the city during the convention.

"This will be good for the president politically," said Representative Peter T. King, a Republican from Long Island. "It reminds us vividly how dangerous the world is."

He said having the convention in New York will drive home a point that seems to have been obscured by recent headlines: why American forces are in Iraq. "This all began on Sept. 11."

Lance Copsey, a Republican political consultant based in Washington, also thinks that having the convention in New York will be a net positive. "I think part of the challenge of the president in the campaign is to remind people that we can fight the war on terror in places like Iraq and Afghanistan or western Pakistan, or we can fight it in New York City," he said. "So I think coming here helps. It goes right into the message that the campaign wants to present."

But delivering that message could once again reveal the double edge of 9/11 as a political tool, opening the president to charges that he chose New York to exploit the tragedy. And some Democrats are already enjoying the president's New York predicament.

"That mantra of Republicans has been, 'So long as we are talking about national security, we are on our strongest footing,' '' said Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens. "But with the downturn in Iraq, with the impending 9/11 commission report, and with a lot of angry victims' groups, the mantra has turned into a murmur."

Mr. Stone, who worked to help Mr. Bush win the Florida ballot fight in 2000, had a similar observation. "I think the decision to go to New York was predicated on the fact that this war effort was as successful as the gulf war effort under President George H. W. Bush," he said. But, he added, "While the conduct of the war was probably a plus for the president, it now has the potential to be a negative and therefore the party's presence in New York becomes problematic."

Raymond Hernandez contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 10th, 2004, 05:50 PM
New York Newsday
April 10, 2004

Schumer: Terminal needs scanners

Associated Press

The failure to install high-tech "fingerscanners" at Manhattan's passenger ship terminal leaves a "gaping hole on the Hudson" for terrorists to exploit during the Republican National Convention, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Saturday.

Schumer, speaking at the Hudson River terminal 14 blocks north of Madison Square Garden, said an estimated 25,000 passengers will enter through the terminal during the week of the convention _ and none will be screened by the new technology.

"If there's one thing we've learned since 9/11, it's that the terrorists look for the places we aren't vigilant and try to exploit them," Schumer said. "We've left a gaping hole here on the Hudson."

The screening program, called US-VISIT, or U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, was implemented in January and was expected to check up to 24 million foreigners each year.

Travelers press their index fingers onto an inkless scanner and have digital head shots taken as they make their way through Customs. The photos and fingerprints are checked against terrorist watch lists and a national criminal database.

The security checks target foreigners entering the 115 U.S. airports and 14 major seaports _ but not at the New York waterfront, Schumer said. The senator sent a letter to Customs Commissioner Robert C. Bonner expressing his concerns.

"I would expect that the commissioner will give Sen. Schumer's request due consideration," responded Customs spokesman Jim Michie. The agency was "maintaining an appropriate level of security, and intends to continue to do so," Michie said.

Schumer was particularly upset by talk of a possible shutdown of Penn Station, the nation's busiest rail station, during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 convention while allowing access via cruise ships just blocks away.

"It's crazy that Washington wants to shut down Penn Station and inconvenience millions of New Yorkers, but won't lift a finger to give us the fingerprint scanners that we need," Schumer said.

The station could wind up closed for several hours during the convention if the Secret Service determines there is a security risk, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week.

Nine cruise ships were scheduled to arrive in Manhattan during convention week. The New York Terminal is the nation's second largest, and handled approximately 900,000 passengers last year.

Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.

April 15th, 2004, 01:37 AM
April 15, 2004

Still Agitating (Never Mind the Arthritis)


Mayer Vishner, Lynne Stewart, Ralph Poynter, Joseph Pena, John Penley, Aron Kay and Jerry Wade at Tompkins Square Park. The Yippies made national news with their violent clash with the Chicago police in 1968.

There is Aron Kay, alias Yippie Pieman, who infamously flung pies at political and public figures during the 70's and 80's - including Abe Beame, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Andy Warhol - but retired after smearing Randall Terry, the anti-abortion activist, with a creamy pineapple cheese in 1992.

There is Jerry Wade, better known as Jerry the Peddler, who said he would "bring the medical marijuana."

Joanie Freedom, a veteran protester of park and camping rules in the city and in national forests, would be in charge of infrastructure. Penny Arcade, the performance artist known for erotically avant-garde shows, would handle theatrical entertainment.

And providing legal aid is Lynne Stewart, a lawyer known for representing people accused of terrorism against the United States and who is awaiting trial in May on charges of providing material support to a man accused of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks.

They are a band of yippies and hipsters, a half-dozen or so, mostly in their 50's and agitating for action. Like so many on the left, they looked upon the coming Republican National Convention in the New York this summer and saw an opportunity.

With thousands of people expected in New York to protest the convention, but hotels and hostels booking fast, why not organize a campout, from, say, Aug. 27 to Sept. 12, for 20,000 people in East River Park, with a "welcoming center" in Tompkins Square Park? Why not call it the Abbie Hoffman-John Lennon Camporee? Why not have bongos, yoga, massages, weddings (gay and otherwise), street theater and the like?

"Reliably active people want to come to the convention, and we want to help them," said Mr. Kay, 54, a chief organizer of the campout, who swears he comes in peace. He admits he was angry, though, when the Parks Department rejected the group's application, which was filed in his name late last month.

Ms. Stewart said they were exploring taking their case to federal court, believing the city is motivated more by stifling free speech during the convention than maintaining the parks.

If the convention, which runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden, is predicted to be a financial and promotional boon to New York City and the Republican Party, it also seems poised to breathe life into all manner of groups seizing on what they see as a toxic combination: Republicans playing on a traditionally left-wing playground.

For groups like the Yippies - the Youth International Party founded by Abbie Hoffman and other radical liberals in the 1960's - the convention offers a way to reclaim the past, Mr. Kay and others said, noting that Yippies have demonstrated, held sleep-ins or made some form of appearance at nearly every national political convention since their violent confrontation with Chicago police at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

That debacle had begun, too, over the Yippies' desire to sleep in a large public park and ended with scores injured in a riot among police and demonstrators in full view of television cameras.

A spokeswoman for the New York City Parks Department said the rejection of the Yippies, however, had nothing to do with the convention.

"Our neighborhood parks are not campgrounds," said Megan Sheekey, a spokeswoman for the department, noting that most city parks close at 1 a.m., like East River, or earlier, like Tompkins Square, which closes at midnight and has been the scene of its share of mayhem over the years. She said the parks were ill equipped to accommodate campers, especially hordes of them, though the Parks and Police Departments are reviewing permits for other events in parks during the convention.

The Police Department is reviewing 13 applications for marches and rallies during the convention, and so far none have been approved or rejected.

City officials are negotiating with groups to have the largest such demonstrations on the weekend before the convention, an aide to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

The Yippies say the city is failing to take into account that many of the protesters expected in New York will lack affordable places to stay, possibly leading to people spending nights in Central Park and other places, which they say was commonplace during the 1980 and 1992 Democratic conventions in New York.

Internet chat groups and Web sites devoted to protest organizing are full of queries like this one from a protest organizer in Western New York: " I have lived in NYC before but would like to find shelter for others approx. 50-75 people. Any ideas would be stellar."

The rejection of the permit would seem to end the matter. But these are Yippies, so there must be a colorful retort.

John Penley, a camporee organizer, said last week that to protest the Parks Department rejection, the group now plans to stage a demonstration Aug. 22 in front of Mr. Bloomberg's East Side town house, conspiring with a street theater group, Billionaires for Bush, and drawing people from the annual Howl Festival of Arts taking place at the same time in the East Village.

Ms. Stewart said the group's application was intended as much to serve notice to the city to pay attention to the needs of protesters as actually winning permission for the event.

"They would love in the best possible world to do this and think it should be accomplished," she said. "But I don't think they are unrealistic politically in what they can accomplish."

Paul Krassner, who originated the term Yippie and was a key player in the 1968 demonstrations, described this group as "second-generation" Yippies; only a few of the camporee's half-dozen or so major organizers were at the 1968 convention. Though he endorsed their idea, Mr. Krassner said he is planning to spend the convention performing at the Knitting Factory.

He said the Yippie heyday has clearly passed, as the draft ended, members aged and the country seemed to move on. These days, he said, radicals get more bang organizing with Web sites and e-mail messages than holding prankish demonstrations.

"The Yippies were kind of tied to that particular time because we had to use guerrilla theater as a way of organizing, getting free publicity, because we had no advertising budget," Mr. Krassner, 71, said by telephone from his home in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. He added, "because of communication on the web and all the different causes, you don't have to resort to street theater to get the word out."

When they do protest, it is usually for legalizing marijuana and lately against the Iraq war. But they have not lost their sense of humor, a vital ingredient in Yippie appearances.

Mr. Kay, for one, always appreciated the value of stunts. He always made sure a photographer captured his pie antics.

He is evasive on why he gave up throwing pies or how he supports himself. He would only say he needed to tend to family and personal concerns.

But he said he could not tolerate the Republicans coming to town, though he insists public figures need not fear confectionary assaults, at least from him.

"Enough of the pieing," he said, adding, "We want to go in with the city in the spirit of keeping the peace. Nobody wants to see violence."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 18th, 2004, 10:50 PM
It's so appalling to hear of old drug-addicted hippies who cheered openly when North Vietnamese troops entered Saigon in 1975. When will they realize that it's 2004 and not 1974 :roll: ?

April 19th, 2004, 03:35 AM
April 19, 2004


What Awaits the G.O.P. in Convention


IT was inevitable, but still it is always instructive to be reminded of the adaptability of our public officials. The Republicans are coming to New York, holding their convention from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. Time for the Democrats to take a vacation? No way.

A few days ago, Representative Charles B. Rangel threatened to disrupt the convention if Washington Republicans did not modify a law requiring some public housing tenants to work in community service. "If they don't do it, they're going to have a hot time in the old town when they get here," Mr. Rangel said at a news conference at City Hall on Friday.

Yesterday, he elaborated over the phone: "My position is that this is once again the arrogance of the Republican Party, which the mayor is a member of. The mayor is so proud of his newly acquired Republican credentials that it would seem to me that since this provision by anyone's interpretation is strictly a political shot to show the poor should be working, he should be our messenger."

Since the law was actually signed six years ago by Mr. Rangel's fellow Democrat, Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg suggested that Mr. Rangel change the location of his protest. "If the congressman wants to take advantage of his constitutional right to peacefully protest, doing so outside Mr. Clinton's office would make more sense than outside Madison Square Garden," said the mayor's spokesman, Edward Skyler.

The measure would have been in effect already if not for Mr. Rangel's intervention, but he has run out of legislative room to maneuver. So - to the streets of New York to take advantage of the national platform of a national convention. "We are in the United States of America," said Mr. Rangel. "You cannot have a convention without a demonstration. Not in this country." Or this city.

New Yorkers have always raised their noisy political voice in lusty observation of their constitutional rights, and are not likely to mute themselves this summer, especially since the Republicans are gathering in a Democratic town, which New York still is. The planning is well under way.

In fact, one group organizing a march and rally in Central Park for the day before the convention applied last June to the Police and Parks Departments for their permits. William Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, which organized the antiwar protest last month and is planning the march and Central Park rally, said that he knew of two protests about issues of poverty and another by organized labor, and that he expected thousands of people to converge on New York to protest at the convention.

LAST month, in an appearance before the City Council Committee on Public Safety, District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau of Manhattan said the Police Department anticipated arrests of 1,000 people a day during the convention. That assertion itself drew protests from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which said the city was fostering an atmosphere of tension that could stifle protest. "Our aim is to accommodate peaceful protest, not stifle it," Paul J. Browne, the chief police spokesman, said yesterday.

Protesters remain wary. After the city's blunder last year, when antiwar demonstrators who wanted to conduct a march were limited to a "stationary rally," there was such an outcry that the city reversed tactics and has since been more flexible.

But how far that flexibility will go this summer, given the need to balance security concerns and First Amendment freedoms, has some people worried.

War critics are concerned about today's sentencing of 16 defendants arrested just over a year ago for lying down on Fifth Avenue to protest Israel's treatment of Palestinians. A sentence of two weeks in prison, which Mr. Morgenthau's office recommended, would be unusually harsh for a peaceful protest in New York City - "unprecedented in my experience," said Ron L. Kuby, the civil rights lawyer.

The prosecutor could be politically motivated and trying to intimidate convention protesters, say supporters of the defendants. A spokeswoman for Mr. Morgenthau declined to comment on the pending case.

If protest is squelched, at least the world will know about it. In a city where demonstrators are organizing four months in advance and a wily lawmaker is using the mere threat of a protest as a lobbying tool, whispering is not in style.

"There are just so many things, so many issues, so many people who intend to demonstrate," Mr. Rangel said. "People will know they came to New York."

No protest there.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 20th, 2004, 09:28 AM
Gotham Gazette - http://www.gothamgazette.com/article//20040419/202/953


by Joseph Mercurio

April 04, 2004

Several years before the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade gave women a right to legal abortions, New York State passed a model pro-choice law extending those protections to New Yorkers. Given the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city and the state, and that the national image of the Democrats is pro-choice and Republicans pro-life, this would seem logical.

However, New York's right-to-choose law did not come from a Democratic administration. When it passed in 1970, the Republican Party controlled both the State Assembly and Senate. Republican State Senator Roy Goodman from the East Side sponsored the bill, and Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed it into law.

New York Republicans - in both the state and city - have long been different from their national colleagues.

While many Democrats in the South opposed the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Republicans from the northeast gave President Lyndon Johnson the votes he needed to pass his Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation. In 1964, the national party selected conservative Barry Goldwater as its presidential nominee over New York Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Today, on many social issues, New York Republicans can be considered progressive, even liberal. New York's most recent prominent Republican officials - Governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani - are all pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun, and more pro-environment than the national party.

And although local Republicans often claim to be fiscal conservatives, in reality they have resorted to budget gimmicks, tax increases, excessive borrowing using state authorities, and just plain old-fashioned lavish spending. During the 1960s, Governor Rockefeller strayed so far from the small government ideology that his policies helped give birth to the Conservative Party.

Since taking office in 2002, Mayor Bloomberg has further blurred the definition of what it means to be a Republican in New York. A Democrat turned Republican, he governs at odds with both parties - taxing heavily, fighting unions, expanding government, and promoting large-scale development. On important social issues, he has the practical approach of a cranky bean counter leaving the impression with voters that he does not care about people like them.

As the national party becomes increasingly conservative, the gap between local and federal officials becomes wider and wider, and threatens the New York Republican Party.


The difference between New York and national Republicans is at least in part a result of the old adage "all politics are local."

New York is known as a liberal place with liberal voters. Republicans here make Democrats in other parts of the country look conservative. Only one Republican presidential candidate since McGovern — Ronald Reagan — has won New York.

In a recent Battleground Poll, 18 percent of voters say they are "very conservative" and 42 percent answered somewhat "conservative." In New York State, only about a quarter of voters describe themselves as conservatives. In New York City, the number of city voters who describe themselves as "conservative" has dropped an average of 9-points over the last four mayoral races.

Polling homogenizes politics as politicians follow voters. And so, over time, it has moved local Republicans to the left. For partly practical reasons, but also because of deeply held beliefs, New York Republicans are less conservative than their counterparts in other parts of the country. Local Republicans can see that being perceived as too conservative has been costly for some in the past.

Senator Alfonse D'Amato, who from the start was to the right of the electorate, did not keep up with the population change in the state, and former Attorney General Dennis Vacco served only one term for the same reason - too conservative. Both men were more like national Republicans than most of their colleagues in the state.

In fact, when the national Republican Party moved far to the right during the Newt Gingrich era of the 1990s local Republicans lost races. This was especially true in the city where that party failed to make gains in open seats and lost incumbents.

In 1992, on the East Side of Manhattan, which once had five local Republicans, Democrat Carolyn Maloney beat out incumbent Bill Green in a race for Congress. Since then, four East Side Republicans - Roy Goodman, Andrew Eristoff, John Ravitz and Charles Millard - who once held office, have not returned. The City Council Republican minority has similarly shrunk.


The divide between local Republicans and the national party can make it difficult for local officials to get federal aid for New York from a Republican president and a Republican controlled Congress.

However, in early 2003, local Republican leaders - especially Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki - convinced their national party to locate this year's national convention here in New York City. The pitch was that it would be good for New York City's economy, which was devastated after the terrorist attack of September 11, and that it would help build support for their ticket and improve the national party's image.

Now some in the party regret the choice.

President Bush, whose best issue was thought to be his resolve in fighting terrorism, has come under scrutiny by the 9/11 commission hearings. This summer, the president will also have to make his case that he did the right thing in going to war with Iraq in a city that hosted the largest anti-war demonstrations in the nation and that promises to be the scene of more protests during the convention.

Mayor Bloomberg, attentive to Democratic city voters, has distanced himself from the convention. He has not planned to host an event for the leadership and delegates, and he plans to spend more time outside the convention with the police than inside stumping for the candidates and their issues.

If local Republicans continue to move to the left to get votes, local candidates could reach a tipping point where they will no longer be in line with their base reducing turnout among "true believers," costing them additional losses in an increasing number of elections. Incumbency is protecting local Republicans against the mismatch between themselves and their base; and the fact that New York Republicans export very large amounts of campaign money to support more conservative party candidates nationally gives them leeway with their national party leaders.

But nothing can hide the fact that New York Republicans are increasingly different ideologically and in the way they govern from their national party counterparts. The more New York's electorate moves to the left the more this gap will increase - and at some point this disconnect will be too great to go unpunished by both national Republicans and local voters.

Joseph Mercurio has worked as a political consultant for more than 25 years.

April 22nd, 2004, 01:22 AM
April 22, 2004

The Best Man for the Job of Pitching to New York


Who could the Republican Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg turn to for help in selling his predominantly Democratic constituents on the notion that bringing his party's national convention to town should be viewed not as a partisan event, but as a pro-New York event?

The answer Mr. Bloomberg hit on was the former Mayor Edward I. Koch.

In the Blue Room at City Hall yesterday, where Mr. Koch often held court during his three terms in office, Mr. Bloomberg named his predecessor as chairman of a volunteer drive for the Republican National Convention. The goal, Mr. Bloomberg said, was to persuade 8,000 New Yorkers to volunteer to help out around the city during the convention. He said 2,500 people had already offered .

"This is going to be a lot of fun for people that want to volunteer, and it's not a partisan thing," Mr. Bloomberg said. "That's why we asked Ed to do this. This is for people who take pride in the city regardless of who you are going to vote for in the election. A successful convention means the future of this city."

While the theme was kicking off a volunteer drive, there was a not-too-subtle subtext to the comments of mayors past and present. Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican who has been cautious about appearing too close to President Bush, and Mr. Koch, a Democrat who has endorsed Mr. Bush for re-election, sounded as if they were trying to persuade New Yorkers to behave when the Republicans come to town.

"All of us love New York City and I think the rest of the country loves New York City, but that is an emotion that changes with the time," said Mr. Koch, who was endorsed by the Republicans as well as the Democrats in 1981. "My hope and expectation is that as a result of the way New Yorkers respond and react to the convention delegates, that those delegates and the others who are in attendance will go home and say they had the best time in their lives."

There are lots of reasons New Yorkers should welcome the convention, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Koch said. It will bring money, and jobs, to the city, but more important, it presents a chance to showcase New York to the nation and the world. But there also was the scent of a warning as they and other speakers said that with 15,000 media representatives in town, the world would be watching.

William Harris, the convention's chief executive officer, noted that "the scrutiny that you get domestically and internationally presents a vision you know, from our perspective for our party, but from New Yorkers' perspective of New York, and people will form an impression that will go over the country and all over the world."

The police are preparing for hundreds of thousands of protesters to take to the streets. While that has been a source of anxiety for convention planners and government officials alike, the organizers plan to use a poster with a picture of Mr. Koch and a caption that says: "The Republicans are coming. Be nice."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 23rd, 2004, 07:28 PM
New York Post
April 23, 2004

10,000 Cops To Guard Garden For GOP Gala


Nearly 10,000 of New York's Finest will be working to keep this summer's Republican convention safe - the largest force ever assigned to a national political gathering, NYPD sources told The Post.

The figure is more than triple the nearly 3,000 police assigned to the Democratic convention in 1992, the last time the city hosted a presidential party gala.

"For the first time, there will be an expansive counterterrorism overlay that is expected to increase the numbers significantly," said one police official.

City cops will also assist the Secret Service - the lead agency in charge of security - in dealing with huge numbers of protesters and protecting President Bush when he arrives at Madison Square Garden to accept the Republican nomination.

The anti-terror cops won't just be working the four days spanning the convention, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Already they are poring over records of people who have signed up to work during the convention, and they are studying unusual purchases - like large numbers of rental trucks - in and outside of New York City.

A group of detectives even headed south recently to attend a conference on crop-dusting. Terrorists have eyed using the small planes to release a biological or chemical weapon into the air.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne wouldn't comment on how many cops would work the four-day gala, but did say, "The NYPD formula for convention coverage is whatever it takes."

More than 3,000 cops were assigned to last month's protest against the Iraq war - a 50,000-person march that went off without major incident.

And reports had 7,000 cops monitoring Times Square last New Year's Eve, though a source inside the NYPD said that number "sounded high."

But while NYPD brass are confident they can assign the nearly 10,000 cops to the convention without sacrificing safety in other parts of the city, the situation in Boston - where the Democrats are holding their nomination party in July - is quite different.

The Secret Service is concerned that Beantown's 2,200-person police force won't be able to handle the security needs of the convention, and state troopers will likely be called in to help, according to The Boston Herald. The Secret Service has denied that report.

The security blanket wrapping the Big Apple comes as officials from top levels of government have warned that the GOP convention - as well as other large-scale events in upcoming months - could be a tempting target for terrorists.

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge earlier this week assigned a new task force to "coordinate government and private security" at such events because the country is entering a time "with symbolic opportunities for the terrorists to try to shake our will," according to Ridge.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

April 28th, 2004, 04:59 AM
April 28, 2004

G.O.P. Protesters Plan to Infiltrate Convention as Volunteers


It is accepted as an article of faith among protesters planning to demonstrate against the Republican National Convention this summer that agents seeking to undermine their efforts have infiltrated their ranks. But now the protesters are talking about infiltrating the convention to undermine the event itself.

"Really?" said Kevin Sheekey, president of the New York City Host Committee, when told that protesters were talking about flooding the ranks of volunteers to disrupt convention operations.

The city is obligated to find a total of 8,000 New Yorkers to volunteer to help things run smoothly, and would-be protesters are hoping that by signing up, they can work from the inside during the convention, scheduled Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

"A lot of people are talking about it in general," said William Etundi Jr., a founder of counterconvention.org, a Web site that serves as a bulletin board for anti-convention activities. "The Republicans are coming to New York City, so maybe the real New York should come to them."

Until now, the host and the guest have been treating each other with kid gloves, each insisting that it is a relationship of choice that benefits everyone. As the convention preparations quicken and the organizers reach out beyond the city leadership with the volunteer drive, that sense of mutual advantage may be revealed as more wishful than actual.

It is hard to know exactly how much traction the idea of protesters posing as volunteers will have.

Still, there is evidence that the idea of volunteering, then not showing up, or showing up and using anti-Republican language has interested many people.

The biggest public proponent of the idea is a 37-year-old computer consultant from Philadelphia, David A. Lynn, who has created a Web site called shadowprotest.org. It is calling on protesters to volunteer at both the Republican convention and the Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Boston earlier in the summer. Mr. Lynn has issued press releases, and tried to sell his idea across the Internet, where it has picked up some momentum.

Boston appears largely immune to the tactic since the host committee there had signed up 12,000 volunteers by the end of March, the host committee said.

But New York, which has a long way to go to reach its target, has so far registered only about 1,400 potential volunteers. Marilyn Shaw, director of volunteer services for the host committee, said all volunteers would be vetted by law enforcement before they are signed up. She also said volunteers would be expected to attend many meetings before getting their volunteer shirts.

"I'll be honest with you," she said. "We meet and greet them so many times they become our best friends."

Some people are thinking more Trojan horse than friend.

"I think they don't understand either just how much of New York City is not prepared to welcome them," said Amanda Hickman, who described herself as a community gardener from Brooklyn. "I don't think that has clicked."

Hard feelings or not, the city host committee is going ahead with its recruiting efforts. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called last week on a predecessor, Edward I. Koch, to help recruit volunteers. But officials said they never considered the prospect that the effort might be co-opted by protesters.

"Those sort of things would harm the city," Mr. Sheekey said. "Those wouldn't be anti-R.N.C. protests. Those would be people protesting New York City."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 28th, 2004, 10:52 AM
Don't these people have jobs?

April 28th, 2004, 02:06 PM
Well the cat's out of the bag now.

April 29th, 2004, 04:35 AM
April 29, 2004

Police to Check Arriving Trains During Republican Convention


New York City police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs will board trains during the Republican National Convention and search the cars as they approach Pennsylvania Station, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday.

The announcement comes as the police and the Secret Service continue discussions as to how to secure Penn Station, the busiest commuter rail station in the country, when the the convention is held at Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. The station serves about 600,000 passengers on a regular workday.

Mr. Kelly has said the city would remain "open for business" during the convention, including the train station and "all major thoroughfares." Yesterday, Mr. Kelly said police officers and dogs would board New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road trains at undisclosed stations outside New York City and reiterated that Penn Station would remain open.

"We're going to make certain there is absolutely no disruption of the train," Mr. Kelly said. He said there would not be "one standard approach" to the searches, but that they would be conducted while the trains are moving.. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Tom Kelly, said similar sweeps had been conducted during periods of heightened alert status since Sept. 11 and that they created minimal delays.

Likewise, a spokesman for the Long Island Rail Road Commuters' Council, Gerard Bringmann, said the police presence would be welcome and that the presence of the officers and dogs would be better than closing Penn Station.

City officials have said the station will remain open, but have left open the possibility of closing it during President Bush's address.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday, "Clearly, any big group coming to this city is a potential target for terrorists."

Mayor Opposes Convention Rally, and Officials Block Another


In two early disputes over demonstrations that are planned just before or during the Republican National Convention in August, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg objected yesterday to a plan for rallies by police officers and firefighters, and the city denied an application for a large antiwar protest on the Great Lawn in Central Park.

Mr. Bloomberg, who was asked at a public appearance in Brooklyn to comment on several rallies planned by the police and firefighters, said, "Going and protesting to the Republicans and saying that the city isn't paying as much as everybody would like is just theater."

"It doesn't go in the direction of getting a good contract," he said, adding that public demonstrations by municipal employees would undermine the city's efforts to attract visitors and new business.

"All you do is you make it more difficult for this city to have the revenues that go to pay for municipal workers," he said.

A labor coalition representing the police and firefighters has applied to the Police Department to hold rallies during the convention, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, including one outside the convention hall, Madison Square Garden.

Al O'Leary, a spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, one of the groups in the coalition, said yesterday that the applications were filed about three weeks ago. Police officials have not yet indicated whether the rallies will be allowed.

The focus of the protests, Mr. O'Leary said, is stalled contract negotiations. Members of his group, who have been working without a contract for 18 months, say they are severely underpaid compared with the police in most other big cities. The P.B.A., declaring an impasse in its negotiations with the city, has applied for binding arbitration.

"We understand why a Republican mayor is not anxious to see the city's emergency workers in the national spotlight of a Republican National Convention," Mr. O'Leary said.

The planned rallies would "point to the fact that he has failed to do the right thing for those workers," he said.

The application to stage a protest on the Great Lawn was filed by United for Peace and Justice, and was denied yesterday by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The rally had been planned for Aug. 29, the day before the convention begins, at the end of a march from Midtown Manhattan, and the organizers said the rally might attract 250,000 people. Parks officials said the capacity of the Great Lawn has been reduced to 80,000 since a recent renovation.

The organizers said they were considering an appeal.

"Renovated or not, it happens to be great public space," said William K. Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice. "It is the only space in Manhattan that can accommodate a large crowd and enable people to use their constitutional right to assemble."

The group has applied separately to the police for a permit for its march. No decision has been announced on that application.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 4th, 2004, 12:10 AM
May 4, 2004

Republicans Lure the Arts to Politics and Protests


Could it be that President Bush has made politics cool again for the arts in New York? Nothing in recent memory has stirred the far corners of this world like the prospect of the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 and of the crowds that will visit to record the event and to protest or support it.

This occasion has made unlikely partners of scruff and style, uniting old-time protesters, counterculture artists and mainstream producers as well as the "Sex and the City" crowd from the world of design, galleries, public relations and sleek magazines.

"Right now what's sexier than politics?" asked Heather Grayson, the actress and playwright who attracted strong notices for her solo show "After the Storm," based on her experiences as a soldier in the first American war against Saddam Hussein.

Dozens of arts organizations are making plans for at least four nights of political theater during the convention at East Village clubs, established theaters like Symphony Space, public libraries and of course the streets. The Internet is throbbing with information and strategies exchanged by people often identifying themselves by first name only or by acronym (FEVA, UFJP, THAW, WW3, NoRNC).

They want to make it clear that this is not the same old same old. In a recent e-mail discussion of who should speak for the various groups, Alexandra Tager, who rents art to the film industry when she is not organizing protests, said, "This presents a P.R. challenge to those of us who hope to tell our story to the world and to debunk the myths and stereotypes of violent-uninformed-crunchy-freaky-scattered protesters bent on wreaking havoc for the heck of it."

At the office of Downtown for Democracy, a political action committee, Erik Stowers, a founder, said, "Usually when reporters hear artists are doing something, they go, `Ha ha ha, they're going to dance around a building.' "

That is not what Christopher Wangro, a special events impresario, has in mind. "The Bush administration's ideas and policies have really ignited people," he said, adding that the convention "gives us a chance to respond."

Mr. Wangro has a long list of noncrunchy, nonfreaky credentials. Now a private operator, he is the former director of special events for New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation and has produced big public events like a parade of elephants for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey and Pope John Paul II's appearance in Central Park.

He began planning for the Republican convention about a year ago. He and some colleagues arranged a series of discussions with focus groups, advertising and marketing executives, and strategists who had worked in the Clinton and first Bush administrations. From those discussions came the Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues & Ideas, which is planning at least 50 events.

Fund-raising began in March, when Agnes Gund, emerita president of the Museum of Modern Art, held a cocktail party at her home on the Upper East Side. Details of the festival are to be announced on May 24.

"We're not partisan," said Boo Froebel, an Imagine Festival organizer, who is a curator for the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria on 42nd Street. Then she added: "But we don't want people to neuter themselves of political opinion. This is not the `boring' festival."

At Symphony Space the Thalia Follies, a cabaret show of political satire, will run every night of the convention. To help write the sketches, E. L. Doctorow, Roy Blount Jr. and Mary Gordon have already been recruited. After the show the audience can stay to watch television coverage of the convention on a big screen onstage. "You can get wine and beer and even popcorn to throw at the screen in congenial company," said Isaiah Sheffer, artistic director of Symphony Space, who organized similar shows during the Vietnam War and Watergate but not since.

The Asia Society will present Forgiveness Project, a multidisciplinary theater work based on a classic Chinese opera about a warrior's revenge, and there will be a staged reading of Sophocles' "Electra" at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library. Dance Theater Workshop will offer a Teen Poetry Slam with Danny Simmons (co-founder of Def Poetry Jam), and Joe's Pub will have something, not yet decided. The Bowery Poetry Club will remain open 24 hours a day with a roster of politically themed theater, music and poetry.

Deanna Zandt, creative administrator for the Poetry Club in the East Village, said her idea was "to give people a place to come together to have a good time, to burn off some energy, to have a safe outlet for their outrage at this."

Which doesn't mean there will not be plenty of street theater, perhaps still the easiest way to attract attention. "There's going to be 15,000 journalists of various kinds in New York City for those four days, and they're going to be bored a lot of the time," said Andrew Boyd, whose Billionaires for Bush troupe made its debut at the Republican convention in Philadelphia in 2000. "Our experience in Philadelphia was that the journalists were looking outside the convention for the pulse of the street, and in many cases it was more interesting to the public and the journalists than the proceedings at the convention."

The Billionaires pretend to be rich people — sort of updates on Thurston Howell III, the millionaire on "Gilligan's Island," carrying martinis and golf clubs — and mock Bush administration policies by pretending to praise them. (Saying things like "We're very happy George Bush is in town and happy 40 million people in this country don't have health care.")

Convention planners appear to be unperturbed. "We are confident that the N.Y.P.D. and the U.S. Secret Service will create a security plan that will allow the Republican National Convention to conduct its business in a safe and orderly manner, while ensuring that other individuals are allowed to voice their opinions at that time in New York City," Rori Patrise Smith, a convention spokeswoman, said.

During the convention in Philadelphia, Mr. Stowers of Downtown for Democracy handcuffed himself to other protesters in a human chain intended to block the route between the convention and delegates' hotels. Instead, Mr. Stowers and others in the chain were arrested and spent nine days in jail.

"I think street theater is great, but I decided after that if your intention is to defeat Bush and foil the Republican attempt to hijack our country, the most direct method is to directly engage in the political system," Mr. Stowers said. So he organized Downtown for Democracy, or D4D, registered it as a political action committee and has been raising money through events intended to attract cultural types more inclined to network and party than to protest. In March a reading featuring Jonathan Franzen, Paul Auster, Joyce Carol Oates and Michael Cunningham at Cooper Union raised $75,000; an art auction earlier netted $130,000

The money so far has gone to five Congressional candidates and to Moving America Forward, a political action committee in New Mexico, a swing state. "People can't quite grasp what we're doing at first," said Mr. Stowers, 25, who studied archaeology and anthropology at Brown University, dropped out of a Ph.D. program at Princeton and then began work on a novel.

Instead, Mr. Stowers is using e-mail. So much that he was wearing braces to protect inflamed nerves in his hands during an interview in his office in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as he worked to promote D4D's next event: a design auction, promoted on the organization's Web site as featuring furniture, lighting, flooring and tabletops, both new and vintage, by American designers.

New and vintage could also describe what is happening. While a smattering of plays, visual art and music emerged in reaction to United States involvement in Iraq, many people in the arts became disengaged from politics once the war began.

"There had been a lot of anxiety about taking a stand or being too political," said Valentina Fratti, a theater director and organizer for Theaters Against War, or THAW, a group of 200 theaters that formed about 18 months ago to organize protests against the invasion of Iraq. "That climate has completely changed. Now everyone seems to have a united goal, and the details of the politics don't matter. People want to get rid of Bush."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 5th, 2004, 06:38 AM
May 5, 2004

Playing Soon on Broadway: G.O.P. Conventioneers


Forget about "Assassins," the Broadway show that focuses on presidential killers. Don't even think about "I Am My Own Wife," the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about an East German transvestite. Even "Avenue Q," with its irreverent use of puppets, seems a bit too risqué. When the Republican delegates arrive in Manhattan this summer, the city wants to send them to wholesome Broadway musicals on their first evening.

And who gets to see "Wonderful Town"? The Ohio delegation, of course.

The New York City Host Committee is obligated to provide entertainment for the thousands of delegates and elected officials who are to arrive on Aug. 29, the day before the convention begins. Traditionally, host committees arrange for state delegations to have their own parties, but not this time. Instead, more than 13,000 conventiongoers will be sent to eight Broadway musicals on their first night in town. In fact, the performances are to be Sunday at 5 p.m., just for the delegates.

"The great thing about this is it is not only something that is different, but it is a wonderful promotion for Broadway," said Kevin Sheekey, president of the host committee and a moving force behind the Broadway outing.

But the Broadway that delegates will see will not include the sort of pointed, controversial plays and musicals that help define New York theater. No one will be sent to see Mark Medoff's play "Prymate," for example, a show that confronts racial sensitivities and has a black actor playing a gorilla. They will not be sent to Tony Kushner's "Caroline, or Change," a serious musical about civil rights. In fact, they will not be sent to anything that touches on contemporary issues.

They will, however, get a touch of philosophy in "The Lion King" when a meerkat and a wart hog sing "Hakuna Matata," the upbeat tune that advises the audience to live with "no worries." In "Wonderful Town," they will get the characters Ruth and Eileen Sherwood singing in "Ohio" of how they long for their home state after coming to Manhattan.

"This is awesome, you have no idea," said one Ohio delegate, Concepción Reyna, when told she would be seeing "Wonderful Town." "I live in a little town, West Chester, Ohio, between Cincinnati and Dayton, off Interstate 75."

In fact, Ms. Reyna is coming with her sister, Bea Lyons, but they will not be staying in a basement flat in Greenwich Village (like the sisters in the musical) but rather at the New York Marriott Marquis in Midtown.

New York City officials had used Broadway to help attract the convention to the city for the first time in the Republican Party's history. When the party's site selection committee visited, some Broadway players put on a performance in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's townhouse on the Upper East Side, said Jed Bernstein, president of the League of American Theaters and Producers.

"Almost immediately after the selection of New York City, we put together a number of suggested ideas and programs to integrate Broadway as part of hosting the convention, because Broadway is an iconic part of New York," Mr. Bernstein said.

The league presented Mr. Sheekey with about 16 shows that offered to participate in the convention events, Mr. Bernstein said. But some did not make the cut, including "Movin' Out," the Tony-winning show set to the music of Billy Joel that tells a Vietnam-era tale about a group of friends from Long Island.

Manny Azenberg, the show's producer, said he offered the committee seats at a discount, even though that week is usually sold out.

"They said no to 'Movin' Out,' " Mr. Azenberg said. "We said you could have us as a friendly gesture. It was offered and they rejected it. I didn't know we were a left-wing show."

Mr. Azenberg said that he was happy the delegates would be going to Broadway and that he expected some to choose to see shows like "Movin' Out" on their own. "It's just very unsurprising," he said of what shows the host committee left off the list.

Mr. Sheekey said that Mr. Bloomberg would be announcing the program for the event today, in Times Square, and that The New York Times, the chief corporate sponsor, would be helping to pay for the purchase of the tickets. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, said in a statement: "It brings together three things we love - theater, Times Square and politics. As the premier New York City newspaper, we are happy to welcome the Republican National Convention to our hometown."

Mr. Sheekey said the selections had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with economics and logistics. He said the committee selected the shows that were willing to provide a 25 percent discount and had the largest theaters. "Literally, that is how the process worked," he said. "It was just easier to take 8 theaters than 16."

On the other hand, he said geography did influence decisions about which delegation went to which show. Florida, for example, will be going to see "Fiddler on the Roof," he said.

"Every delegate, alternate, party official and elected official will receive a ticket based on where they are from to a show on Broadway," Mr. Sheekey said.

Delegates will also get to see "Phantom of the Opera," "Aida," "Bombay Dreams," "Beauty and the Beast" and "42nd Street." Before the performances, there will be welcoming speeches from people like Gov. George E. Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is chairman of the host committee, and others.

"It is the hope of the city and Broadway that these people go back and tell their friends and relatives what a great time they had on the Great White Way," Mr. Sheekey said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 6th, 2004, 02:36 AM
May 6, 2004


Masses Versus Grass Roots


TWENTY-TWO years ago, a city parks commissioner didn't want protesters to rally in Central Park, arguing that the Great Lawn was in such bad shape, it couldn't take the abuse. He was overruled and an estimated 700,000 protesters rallied peacefully against nuclear arms without further injuring the lawn.

Now, today's parks commissioner wants to stop an expected 250,000 protesters from demonstrating on the same Great Lawn, arguing that it's in such good shape since its restoration in 1996 that it can't take the abuse. Prospective demonstrators, who plan a march and rally against the policies of the Bush administration on the eve of the Republican Convention in August, are filing their appeal today contesting the decision to deny them a permit.

"It's a real urban dilemma," said Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side. "I'm worried about the grass and cost of reseeding, but those quarter of a million people have a right to protest, and in Manhattan. Where in the world can they go?"

Who knew that reclaiming the Great Lawn from its days as a dust bowl would cost the city its Hyde Park? If this decision is really about greenery and not politics, what an unusual trade-off in the media capital of the world - First Amendment rights for green grass, free speech for a drainage system.

The Parks Department contends that the protest "would cause enormous damage to the lawn," as it wrote last month to United for Peace and Justice, organizers of the demonstration. "The Great Lawn itself cannot hold more than 80,000 people, and the overflow would be forced onto the adjacent landscape, causing damage to those areas of the park as well."

So much for the Great Lawn that drew those 700,000 people in 1982, audiences of 600,000 to a Paul Simon concert in 1991, 250,000 to a Garth Brooks concert in 1997, and on and on.

"The park's historic purpose ought to continue, which is to host, in this great city, events of great magnitude," said William K. Dobbs, the media coordinator for the organizers, who range from being suspicious of the decision to being outright convinced it is political rather than horticultural.

Adrian Benepe, the commissioner of parks and recreation, declined to be interviewed. His predecessor, Henry J. Stern, and Douglas Blonsky, Central Park's administrator, called to say they agreed with the resolve to protect the lawn. Gordon Davis, the parks commissioner who resisted the 1982 rally, chose a different emphasis. "I cannot second-guess this decision," he said, "but I do know that is the function of the City of New York to provide not just grudgingly, but openly, and in a positive and affirmative way, ample opportunity for people to express their First Amendment views. That has been the historic function of parks in New York."

LAWN damage is a legitimate concern, said Edward I. Koch, who was mayor in 1982 and is a champion of the president and his convention. "So you can get a bond," he said of protecting the lawn. "Listen, it's going to be a mess; it's going to be uncomfortable; you'd wish it wouldn't happen. That demonstration isn't going to persuade a single delegate. But the fact is, it's what makes our democracy such a wonderful democracy."

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican and nominal convention host, whose administration has brushed up against First Amendment rights a few times, said through his spokesman that the issue was neither about politics nor free speech. "If the event was a 250,000-person demonstration in support of the president, the organizers would have gotten the same answer," said the spokesman, Edward Skyler.

The city is legally obligated to propose alternatives to the Great Lawn and the march route that organizers prefer, from Chelsea up Eighth Avenue, past Madison Square Garden, and on into the park. So far, the organizers say, police officials have mentioned two alternatives the group has rejected as unworkable - Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and a route starting in the West Village, going up the far West Side to 57th Street, then looping down 11th Avenue to a rally in the West Village.

Next? If the appeal to the parks department fails, there's always the courts or compromise - by either side. "There are no guarantees," Mr. Davis said.

Recalling the 1982 rally, he said, "Whenever you invite large numbers of people you will have collateral damage. I can't speak to this decision, but nothing following that rally wasn't easy repairable or easily managed. If I'd known it would have worked, I would have been for it."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 7th, 2004, 12:12 AM
"If the event was a 250,000-person demonstration in support of the president..."

... then pigs would necessarily be flying through the skies of New York City. It's easy to make a statement like that when you know the situation will never arise.

"... the organizers would have gotten the same answer,"

Bullshit. It's politics, plain and simple. How dumb do they think we are?

TLOZ Link5
May 7th, 2004, 01:23 AM
I can't help but agree with you, Midnightrambler. I'll sacrifice the pristine state of the Great Lawn for any damage suffered from a large, albeit relatively large, rally, any day of the week.

The suggested alternate sites are not nearly as well-known to most Americans as Central Park, and this is supposed to be the most democratic city in America. Has free speech truly been surpassed in importance by aesthetics?

Central Park is our town square, and the least that City officials can do is let it be used as such.

May 7th, 2004, 09:53 AM
Personally, the idea that one must get a permit to protest seems just ridiculous. I'd prefer subversive actions and spontaneous protest, tying up the streets, snarling bridge and tunnel traffic, and storming MSG. But, that's just me.

May 7th, 2004, 10:42 AM
I agree, plus a street march is better than a stationary rally. They should at least take over Eighth Avenue.

May 8th, 2004, 02:06 AM
May 8, 2004


A Collision of Security, Democracy and Daily Life


Will Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California give a prime-time speech during the convention? How about former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani? The answer these days seems to be, who cares? What many New Yorkers appear most concerned about, and what convention planners seem most reluctant to discuss, is which streets will be sealed off around Madison Square Garden when the Republican National Convention comes to town in August.

The evolving security plan has spawned tension, rumors and conspiracy theories, conflict between the mayor and the convention organizers, hostility between protest planners and city officials and some parrying between the New York Police Department and the United States Secret Service.

The issue of security has become a flashpoint in New York as event organizers try to balance three of the most sensitive and in some ways competing demands presented by the convention's presence in Midtown Manhattan: protecting against terrorism, allowing protesters the right to rally within sight and sound of the convention and ensuring that New Yorkers are not too badly inconvenienced by the whole affair, which will run from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

The sensitive nature of the topic was underscored this week when Mike Miller, the convention's director of operations, infuriated Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg by suggesting at a media briefing that portions of Eighth Avenue, and perhaps parts of Seventh Avenue, would be shut down for several blocks during the convention - a suggestion that no one has since denied.

Mr. Bloomberg did not leave it to his subordinates to rebuke Mr. Miller, but instead took on the Republican bureaucrat himself.

"Mr. Miller was speaking without knowledge," Mr. Bloomberg said. "The Police Department is the one that is deciding how we go about ensuring safety as well as minimizing the impact. Nobody else."

Mr. Miller did not create a conflict, but instead stepped into the middle of one, or to be more precise, he stepped into the middle of many. The combustible atmosphere hinges on issues as perennial as who is in charge - the city or the federal government. (Mr. Bloomberg says the city police are in charge while the federal government says, however gingerly, that the Secret Service is the lead agency.) And it hinges on issues more convention-specific, like where the protesters will be allowed to march or rally. If streets are closed around Madison Square Garden, it would, in effect, mean the entire area has been declared a no-protest zone, protest organizers have concluded.

Mr. Miller's remarks exposed raw feelings on all sides.

Protesters "think they are the center of this and they are not," complained a high-ranking police official who spoke on the condition that he not be identified because of the increasingly volatile nature of the subject. "There is a whole counterterrorism overlay that is very important. There are other aspects of this."

On the other hand, protesters said that Mr. Miller's remarks suggesting that two avenues may be closed off around the convention center seemed to confirm their growing suspicion that the city was looking to keep demonstrators from the convention area and to limit their ability to organize rallies. United for Peace and Justice, one of the main groups organizing convention-related events, has already been denied a permit to hold a rally in Central Park. It has appealed that decision.

"The mayor and the police commissioner have made rhetorical statements about their interest in protecting the rights of protesters, but nothing that has happened so far has matched that rhetoric," said Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is representing six groups seeking permits to demonstrate. "There is all this talk out there. But they are not doing anything."

Law enforcement officials acknowledge that there is an information vacuum because nothing has been decided, though they also say that they started their planning a year ago. Protesters said they see the paucity of information as part of a strategy to undermine their efforts by making it impossible for them to organize in advance. Political observers said the dust-up appears in part to stem from a public relations strategy centered on the idea of selling the public on the benefits of the convention, before warning them of the inconveniences it will bring.

Whoever is right, there is growing recognition on all sides that the vacuum has fueled the rumor mill, which has heightened tensions, which has inspired the city to clamp down even harder on the flow of information, which has fueled more rumors, and on and on. The police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the cycle had become so troublesome that the agency was considering making some of its decisions public earlier than planned.

At the same time, it is clear that the mayor's tough approach with Mr. Miller was at least in part intended to make others think twice before speaking out.

"The mayor wants security planning and discussions to be the domain of the security professionals, so people aren't influenced by bad information," said Ed Skyler, the mayor's press secretary. "The fact that some people still believe Penn Station is going to be closed shows how disruptive rumors and speculation can be."

Indeed, even when the authorities do put out information, there is so much suspicion of duplicity that rumors abound anyway. The police and the Secret Service have said for weeks that Pennsylvania Station is expected to stay open during the convention, but that has not stopped speculation that it will be closed.

At one point Mr. Bloomberg fueled those rumors himself when he said that the station might be closed when the president is in the arena, a suggestion the Secret Service and the police said they had not discussed.

Concern about access to the areas around the Garden is so high that yesterday the mayor was asked during his radio program if he would advise people to stay home from work that week. "The answer, sorry to say, is no," Mr. Bloomberg replied.

Despite the assurances of city officials that everyone will be accommodated, be they protesters, security personnel or commuters, there will certainly be some surprises. City officials involved in convention plans have, for example, privately made a distinction between protests planned for the Sunday before the convention begins and protests outside the Garden during the convention.

That is a distinction that protesters are not likely to buy into.

"The convention, which the city of New York was very interested in bringing, comes along with protest," said William K. Dobbs, the spokesman for United for Peace and Justice. "That means sight and sound, not so far away that you need binoculars to see what is going on."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 9th, 2004, 03:08 PM
I'm not surprised that the city government is concerned about mass protests. Inevitably there will be some cop-hating anarchists (I despise them) during these protests, eager to trash any Starbucks, McDonalds, or police barricades they see. We all remember what we saw in Seattle, Genoa, and Quebec City.

May 10th, 2004, 02:49 AM
Convention Risks and Benefits (http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/issueoftheweek/20040510/200/972)

May 10th, 2004, 10:19 AM
I probably have more in common with the anarchists than the Republicans. Does anyone else fell the least bit alarmed over the city's estimate of 3,000 arrests per day? Also, they plan on building a temporary jail/detention center at the Javits Center. That facet isn't gtting much press.

May 11th, 2004, 01:10 AM
May 11, 2004

Lawn vs. Demonstrators

Mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbied hard to attract the Republican convention to New York this summer. Now it's coming, and with it swarms of protesters. The city is obliged to offer hospitality to both the conventioneers and the demonstrators. A group opposed to the Bush administration's policies has applied to hold a march and a rally in Central Park, but the city has turned down the request without offering a reasonable alternative site. The city's position shows a lack of respect for the First Amendment, and is an invitation to disorder.

The group, United for Peace and Justice, applied last June for permits for a march and a rally of 250,000 people on the Great Lawn in Central Park. The group says the Great Lawn is one of the few places in Manhattan that can accommodate a rally this big. In the past, it has been the site of numerous large protests, concerts and other events, including a 1982 antinuclear rally attended by 700,000 people.

But since then, the Parks Department has invested millions of dollars in replanting and landscaping the Great Lawn, including an elaborate underground irrigation system. The city claims that the area is no longer appropriate for very large events, and it is directing the protesters to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens instead of Central Park, or to a circuitous route through the streets of the far West Side.

Neither option is acceptable. City Hall may want to declare Manhattan to be a no-free-speech zone for convention week, but critics have a right to gather in the same borough as the conventioneers they are protesting. Making a parade route available in Manhattan is not enough. The demonstrators have a right to a central rallying place in which they can speak and be heard. Depriving them of that would also present a far greater threat of spontaneous protests the police might not be able to control.

The city has not allowed events with hundreds of thousands of people on the Great Lawn since it was rebuilt in 1996, though it has given permits for ticketed events sponsored by large corporations. The carefully protected lawn is now lush and beautifully landscaped, but at a cost. Allowing the exercise of free speech is just as much a key function of the city's parks as allowing softball or in-line skating.

The Parks Department's dismay at the possible destruction of the grass and shrubbery is understandable. But if the mayor wants to protect the greenery, he is obligated to find an equally good place for the demonstrations. In this era of highly scripted conventions, the protests outside the convention hall may offer the most authentic political discourse of the week. When the nation watches what happens in New York during the convention, we want everyone to fully appreciate the glories of the city, and the way it has come back from the disaster of 9/11. But viewers also need to see a New York that is and always has been a place in which political expression is valued and protected.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 11th, 2004, 02:36 AM
It's a nice editorial, but all you really need is this one sentence.

The city has not allowed events with hundreds of thousands of people on the Great Lawn since it was rebuilt in 1996, though it has given permits for ticketed events sponsored by large corporations.

May 15th, 2004, 11:44 PM
Here's a humorous outtake on the way left-wingers openly hate Bush. It's also how we got this little picture from the NY Times:

Billionaires for Bush: http://billionairesforbush.com/index.php

May 20th, 2004, 07:18 AM
May 20, 2004

Many State Republican Stars Are No-Shows at Convention


SYRACUSE, May 19 - Balloons dropped, music blared, and politicians talked tough about terrorism. There was praise for President Bush, scorn for the Democrats and the nomination of a candidate, Assemblyman Howard Mills, to challenge Senator Charles E. Schumer.

But while the state Republican party's convention here on Tuesday and Wednesday may have had all the fanfare meant to motivate partisans, it was notably lacking in star power.

Aside from Gov. George E. Pataki, who addressed the 175 delegates on Tuesday night, none of the state's leading Republicans showed up.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg spoke via a taped message and did not mention Mr. Mills, whose Assembly district includes parts of Orange and Rockland Counties.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was in New York City testifying before the 9/11 commission, did not attend.

President Bush, who also taped an address for the delegates, never mentioned the words New York, referring only to "your state," giving the distinct impression that the speech was not aimed at New York alone.

Even the state's top Republican in the Legislature, Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, could not make the trip from Albany because, an aide said, he had work to do.

In comparison, the Democratic state party convention in New York City just a few days earlier featured almost all of the leading Democrats in the state and then some. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was there, as was Mr. Schumer. Also there were Eliot Spitzer, the state attorney general; Speaker Gifford Miller of the New York City Council; City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. and State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi. Even Tom Daschle, the Senate minority leader, made the trip.

With Republicans currently holding only one out of five statewide elected offices, the governor's office, there was private grumbling even among the ranks of the party faithful here over the thinness of the party's bench.

New York Republicans have two bona fide stars widely regarded as having national ambitions: Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Pataki. But as neither man has decided his next political step, it is difficult for others in the party to guess what the landscape might look like in a couple of years.

"Sometimes it is difficult to be a Republican in this state," said Tim Green, a Syracuse native and former National Football League star who was the first speaker to address the convention Tuesday night.

Governor Pataki, in a brief interview before he spoke to the delegates, rejected the idea that the state party was somehow in trouble. And in his speech to the delegates, Mr. Pataki made a point of noting that the criticism of Howard Mills - that he is little-known and not well financed - had a familiar ring.

"That's what they were saying about a guy named George Pataki," the governor said, referring to his victory over Mario M. Cuomo in 1994.

But even Mr. Mills acknowledged that he has a tough fight ahead of him. Mr. Schumer has more than $20 million in the bank to finance his campaign, while Mr. Mills is just getting started raising money. Mr. Mills also failed to garner the support of the state's Conservative Party.

"I am behind in the money chase, but I am ahead on ideas," Mr. Mills said after accepting the nomination.

Mr. Mills already has television advertisements running in the state. As he has done repeatedly, Mr. Mills accused Mr. Schumer of wantonly killing trees by issuing frequent press releases, for no other purpose than "self-promotion."

When Mr. Mills handed reporters outlines of his attack on sheets of paper, he was reminded of this. Mr. Mills replied that his use of paper would be more judicious than Mr. Schumer's.

Charity Tied to DeLay Cancels New York Convention Events Citing Cost


A charity associated with Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, has canceled plans to stage a series of gala events around the Republican National Convention in New York this summer, saying the city is too expensive.

Aides also suggested that Mr. DeLay, a lightning rod for criticism, was trying to lower his profile. "We are very cognizant of the fact that the convention is about re-electing George Bush and not being a distraction to that goal is a large priority of the majority leader," said Stuart Roy, Mr. DeLay's director of communications.

The decision came two months after the state attorney general's office, which oversees charities, raised concerns that aspects of the group's solicitation failed to comply with New York law. A March letter from the attorney general's office to the group, Celebrations for Children Inc., said its brochure for the charity events did not include a clear description of the organization's program and did not say if the three organizers - Mr. DeLay's daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro, and two of his longtime political aides - would be paid.

Aides to Mr. DeLay, who is not an officer of the charity, said it had since provided state officials with all the information they requested.

Mr. DeLay's connection to the charity had also been criticized by watchdog groups that asserted that he was using the charity as a way to get around strict new campaign finance laws that prohibit federal officials from raising large corporate donations known as soft money. At the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000, for example, Mr. DeLay helped raise soft money to pay for perks like private cars and drivers for all Republican members of Congress.

The recently created charity was asking for donations of up to $500,000 to help pay for social events at the convention, like a dinner cruise and a golf tournament, at which Mr. DeLay would have been the attraction. The remaining money would have gone to charities for troubled children, the charity said.

"This is a setback from what he wanted to do," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington group that helped push through the recent overhaul of the campaign finance laws and pushed to stop Mr. DeLay's plans for the New York convention. "He wanted his role to be host of a weeklong set of parties and entertainment, and he can't do that now."

The state attorney general's office said the charity had met all state requirements to begin raising money but one - it had not yet provided proof of tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. Aides to Mr. DeLay said the I.R.S. had not yet granted that status, and as a result, New York officials said the charity could not yet operate in New York.

The I.R.S. does not comment on pending cases.

City officials questioned the charity's rationale for pulling out of New York.

"Expense is no excuse because there is no evidence,'' said Christyne L. Nicholas, president of NYC & Company, the convention and visitors' bureau. "The only evidence we have is because charities from all over the country and all over the world come to New York to host events."

Mr. DeLay has also abandoned plans to dock a luxury cruise ship on the West Side of Manhattan to serve as a hotel and entertainment center for Republican officials and their guests. Republicans had feared it would make them look elitist.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 21st, 2004, 01:24 AM
New York Times
May 21, 2004

Wall Street to Toast Its G.O.P. Overseers During Convention


Despite the talk about protesters overwhelming the Republican National Convention in New York City this summer, one sector of the city is rolling out the red carpet: Wall Street and its investment banks. They are showering the conventioneers with money for parties and other events to make the Republicans feel right at home.

Some of the main parties will be for Republican members of Congress who oversee the financial services industry. There will be brunches, dinners, dancing and late-night concerts for the conventioneers throughout the city.

One of the most celebrated guests will be Representative Michael G. Oxley of Ohio, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, which oversees Wall Street, banks and the insurance industry. Mr. Oxley will be toasted at a dinner party in the Rainbow Room, at a loft with sweeping views of the Hudson River and at a financial services round- table brunch, according to people who work in the financial industry, who say their firms plan to contribute to the three events.

But the partying does not stop there.

J. P. Morgan Chase & Company is planning a reception to honor convention delegates from the roughly 20 states where it does most of its business; Goldman Sachs has discussed sponsoring a party to honor Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of western New York, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee; Credit Suisse First Boston plans a reception to honor Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who serves on the Banking Committee.

Though the corporation-financed parties are legal, and commonplace at political conventions, they take on added significance this year because of new laws that prohibit corporations from giving large donations known as soft money to national political parties and also forbid federal officials to raise such contributions, government watchdog groups said.

"There is no other loophole for corporate soft money," said Steven Weissman, associate director for policy with the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan group in Washington. "This is normal politics. They want to maintain a relationship which emphasizes access in order to achieve more influence."

There are two ways Wall Street plans to roll out the welcome wagon. Firms will sponsor their own events, or they will contribute to events sponsored by other organizations. Companies in other industries are also staging events; The New York Times, for instance, is helping sponsor a night out for the delegates at Broadway shows.

But the financial sector is among the most active. Some of the top Wall Street firms have agreed to contribute money to a party honoring Senator Richard Shelby, chairman of the Banking Committee, and the rest of the Alabama delegation, said people who work in the industry and are involved in making convention plans.

Like many large American corporations, financial powerhouses tend to hedge their bets, giving to both Republicans and Democrats. Some of the Wall Street firms, like J. P. Morgan Chase, have similar plans for the Democratic National Convention in Boston. A study shows that the financial industry is one of the biggest political contributors, outspent only by lawyers and the real estate industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington.

But some of New York's top financiers have a record of giving large contributions to Republican causes.

Henry M. Paulson Jr., chief executive and chairman of Goldman Sachs, is a finance co-chairman of the New York City Host Committee and has called around to his colleagues asking them to contribute to the convention's operating budget. As a co-chairman, he personally agreed to help raise $5 million to help pay for the convention, according to the host committee.

Employees of Morgan Stanley and their immediate family members gave more to the Bush campaign than the employees and family members from any other company, contributing $518,225 since the president began raising money in May 2003, said Steven Weiss, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics.

"These are among the most generous donors in American business and among the most influential," Mr. Weiss said. "They are heavily regulated by the government and are seeking to minimize government involvement in their business. So they reach out to both parties and attract major attention from party leaders."

Representatives of the Wall Street firms almost universally declined to comment by name, though most confirmed their involvement in the convention-related activities.

Adam Levine, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs said, "The Republican National Convention will be a great opportunity to showcase the city of New York and the resiliency of its people. Goldman Sachs is a proud sponsor of that event."

The convention will be held from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, but organizers say they have already been planning their parties.

"There are so many parties going on you have to pick and choose the location and date rather early to try to lessen the competition," said Richard Hunt, a spokesman for the Securities Industry Association, a 600-member trade group. "Competition will be great every hour of every day."

Mr. Hunt said his organization, along with the Bond Market Association, another trade group, has planned a reception on Sept. 1 to honor Mr. Oxley and the other members of the Committee on Financial Services. He said they have booked "Penthouse 15," a large loft on the West Side of Manhattan, for a Wednesday night reception.

It will be a busy week for Mr. Oxley.

His press secretary, Tim Johnson, did not return five calls for comment. A receptionist in Mr. Oxley's office said that Mr. Johnson was the only one allowed to speak to reporters.

On the first day of the convention, Mr. Oxley and other members of the Financial Services Committee are to be "honored guests" at the Rainbow Room, said Pamela Sederholm, a Washington-area public relations consultant who said she is helping organize the party. An investment industry organizer said that the invitations called for sponsors to contribute $25,000 to $100,000 for the program, which will include dancing to midnight to big band music.

On Wall Street, the event is considered a must-attend party, according to several people who work there.

Unlike parties being organized by investment firms, this event is being thrown by a organization called the American Council for Excellence and Opportunity, of which Mr. Oxley is an honorary chairman, Ms. Sederholm said. She said the group will use the donations to pay for the event and then give what is left over to charities, a model similar to what Representative Tom DeLay, the house majority leader from Texas, abandoned this week after it received much criticism.

Not every event is intended for lawmakers involved with financial industry oversight. J. P. Morgan Chase, for example, has scheduled a luncheon to honor the women in Congress.

But the events tied to lawmakers with oversight of the financial services industry have drawn the most concern among government watchdog groups. Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a group that fought for the new campaign finance laws, said: "Members of Congress are throwing huge parties for themselves and having corporations or other interests pay for the event. The fundamental problem here is the interest gets to do a huge financial favor for a powerful member of Congress who they often have critical issues pending before."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 21st, 2004, 02:03 PM
GOP Convention Organizers Announce Plans To Construct Bridge To Garden

MAY 21ST, 2004 - NY1.com

With just 100 days to go before the Republican National Convention takes over Madison Square Garden, party officials are in town to outline their plans.
Organizers toured the Farley Post Office across the street from the Garden Friday which will be used as a media site.
They also announced the construction of a bridge that will connect the building to the Garden. Construction is set to begin June 7.

Officials say their goal is to have the convention run as smoothly as possible.
"I think it's going to be a great event which New Yorkers can be proud of and I know that everybody involved is doing the maximum they can to minimize any disruptions," said organizer Bill Harris.
"There is not an official plan now nor has there ever been official talk of ever closing Penn Station during this convention," said Kevin Sheekey of the New York City Host Committee. "You'll have presumably some minor road disturbances around. But, you know like the mayor said, the message is unfortunately, you'll have to come to work."

The Farley building will continue to be used as a Post Office, but on a smaller scale.

After the convention, it will be transformed into a new train station.
http://www.ny1.com/ny/TopStories/SubTopic/index.html?topicintid=1&subtopicintid=1&contentint id=40039

May 21st, 2004, 02:20 PM
I guess they're really afraid of NYC cabs.

After the convention, it will be transformed into a new train station.
Do they mean right after the convention? :P

I have changed my mind, and am now looking forward to the convention. With Bush's reelection hardly a lock, the RNC is going to have to be careful not to commit a political blunder.

It would be nice if NYC was the nail in Bush's political coffin.

May 21st, 2004, 02:38 PM
Turner will be in charge of building GOP bridge

May 21, 2004

Organizers for the Republican National Convention, which will be held in the city this summer, chose Turner Construction to be in charge of building a bridge connecting Madison Square Garden and the Farley Post Office building.

Turner agreed to oversee the $1 million project on a pro bono basis. Construction of the temporary bridge will start on June 7 and will be completed by July 16. The GOP convention, being held at Madison Square Garden, will start on Aug. 30, and journalists covering the event will use the post office as their main media station during the event.

The bridge will be used to carry heavy cable and give journalists easy access to the convention, said the host committee. The structure will span 140 feet, from the second floor of the Garden’s north end, across Eighth Avenue, to three entrance points on the north face of the post office.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

May 22nd, 2004, 06:31 AM
May 22, 2004

The G.O.P. to Strut and Fret, but on What Kind of Stage?


The raspy-voiced pop singer Rod Stewart gyrated his hips on one; the rock-and-roll band Yes hammered out tunes on one; and now, it appears, President George W. Bush will address the nation on one.

That is, a round stage in the center of Madison Square Garden.

Convention organizers are keeping mum about the configuration of the stage - and about most other details of the Republican National Convention - hoping to add a bit of drama to the otherwise predictable renomination of the president. But there are clues that have prompted at least one convention organizer to refer to the plans for a round stage as "the secret that everybody knows."

The prime clue is the floor. Convention officials have confirmed that they plan to raise it by nine feet - a plan that will allow speakers to approach from underneath rather than from behind as on a traditional stage.

But the convention organizers refuse to discuss the point, even though their own staff members have said that the floor would be raised if plans called for the use of the round stage.

The convention's chief executive officer, William D. Harris, and other officials held a news conference yesterday to mark the 100-day countdown. "We've been here about a year," he said. "Our planning process is about through."

So what has been accomplished? He said that 1,000 light bulbs had been changed in the post office building that will serve as the press center. He said that 500 gallons of paint had been used to refresh the inside of that future press center, and that plans called for 5,000 yards of carpeting. He also announced plans to move ahead with a previously disclosed plan to build a bridge connecting the press center and the Garden.

But when officials were asked what streets would be closed to traffic during the convention, the reply was that it's too soon to say. When they were asked if events would be held in other boroughs, the reply was that it's too soon to say. And when they were questioned about the configuration of the stage, the reply was, again, it's too soon to say.

"We have two tentative podium plans - one traditional side podium and one theater-in-the-round - and we haven't made any decisions on which ones will be used or on which nights," said Mark Pfeifl, the convention's director of communications.

One official involved in the preparations said that the working plan was to have a traditional stage set up for the first three days and the dramatic theater-in-the-round on the fourth night for President Bush.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has been a bit more forthcoming, saying yesterday that the city would not be issuing permits for most street fairs and block parties the weekend before the convention begins.

"The people have to understand, we only have so many resources," he said in explanation of the street fair cancellations. "We only have so many police, and we're going to keep it safe, and so sometimes we're going to have to say we just don't have the police to do more things."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 23rd, 2004, 08:51 PM
Arts festival to run against Republicans

by Miriam Kreinin Souccar, May 23, 2004

A group of New York City arts organizations is planning a citywide festival from Aug. 29 through Sept. 2 during the Republican Convention.

The Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues & Ideas will feature more than 100 new programs related to politics and current events at more than 30 venues around the city.

The organizers, who include Boo Froebel, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Christopher Wangro, an events producer, say the festival will be nonpartisan.

The arts institutions are funding their own programs.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

May 24th, 2004, 05:30 AM
May 24, 2004

Permit or Not, Protesters Prepare for Republicans in New York


He relishes the idea, and it is just an idea, he says, of linking arms on streets around Madison Square Garden to block delegates and bring the Republican convention to a halt. Getting arrested for civil disobedience, if it comes to that, does not faze him.

"I am not going to have a work schedule for two weeks after, just in case,'' says Jim Straub, 23, who is a part-time dishwasher and bookstore clerk and full-time radical in Richmond, Va.

For Jen Lawhorne, 24, who also plans to attend the convention from Richmond: "This is going to be one of the finer moments of the American left. The sheer numbers excite me.''

They are a band of like-minded activists, many in their 20's, leading a charge to direct protesters from Richmond to New York for the convention, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Linked by indignation over the war and economic and social issues, protesters from Chicago, Santa Barbara, Calif., Cleveland and scores of other places across the country are developing their plans to descend on New York City for the convention.

The protesters are not deterred by the barriers they face. New York City has yet to issue any protest permits. Housing is in short supply and prohibitively expensive. And just the logistics of getting to vehicle-unfriendly New York can be daunting. But convention protesters like the group in Richmond are pressing forward with plans, and developing ways around the hurdles.

An organizer on the West Coast is suggesting using airline discounts to New York. Another is arranging backpacking trips to raise money for airfare, while some groups in Los Angeles and San Francisco have discussed a car caravan. And in Richmond, organizers plan to pass the hat at parties and hold other fund-raisers for the $1,000 or so needed to charter a bus.

The fact that the New York police have not issued permits for any of the 15 groups that have applied for marches and rallies near the Garden matters little, especially to the more rebellious sorts.

The RNC Not Welcome Collective, an affiliation of radicals in New York, is encouraging prospective demonstrators to focus on other sites besides the Garden, like parties and other gatherings of delegates.

"If we are diffused throughout the city, we will have a much better advantage,'' read a recent handout at a strategy meeting. "After all, the real target is not Madison Square Garden, the stage of the spectacle, but the various events where deals are made - where the lobbyists wine, dine, and bribe Bush & Co.''

"If we are truly everywhere in this very big city,'' it goes on, "the police cannot be concentrated in one area, their communications will be hampered by their hierarchical processes, their steps will be slowed by their pounds of body armor and fatigue from forced overtime.''

Whether for organized demonstrations or not, people eager to protest the convention are strategizing.

A "consulta'' was held recently in Chicago among various groups to discuss plans to take at least 1,000 people to New York, said José Martín, an organizer in Chicago.

M. J. Musler, an antiwar activist in Cleveland, said groups across Ohio hoped to muster 15,000 people in New York, "little church ladies to the more radical end of the spectrum.'' Most, she said, plan to go for at least Aug. 29, when United for Peace and Justice has applied for a permit for an antiwar demonstration past the Garden for 250,000 people or more.

West Coast demonstrators may find it more difficult to get to New York, but they seem undeterred, with groups sprouting in Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Fresno and other places promising to bring carloads.

Tanya Mayo, an organizer with a national group called Not In Our Name who is in Oakland, Calif., said she had even advised prospective demonstrators who want to fly to take advantage of a Continental Airlines discount on air travel to New York during the convention period.

"It's a beautiful location for mobilizing people,'' she said of New York. "Three international airports, big bus terminals."

While established antiwar groups and labor unions are actively organizing, many grass-roots organizers, young, self-described radicals like Mr. Straub and his Richmond companions, are playing a role , too.

Nicholas DeGraff, a 23-year-old antiwar activist in Fresno, helped coordinate a group called Rancor (a play on the initials for the Republican National Convention), that is raising money through guided backpacking trips and other events to send at least a couple of dozen demonstrators to New York.

"A lot of people going are professionals, social workers, people who have the ability to save up and pay for a ticket and a place to stay,'' Mr. DeGraff said last week. "We are having fund-raisers for people who can't afford to fly out, like students and individuals whose voices are not heard.''

Mr. DeGraff himself does not have a place to stay yet, counting on the beneficence of churches or other organizations that may offer housing. But he said that would not hold him back and that he planned to take part in acts of civil disobedience, if it comes to that.

"Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. taught that civil disobedience is your duty if that's what it takes,'' Mr. DeGraff said. "The thinking is: Are we going to have to shut down your convention before you listen to average people?''

Organizers are discussing with several churches in New York the possibility of housing demonstrators, and people across the country are calling in favors with friends who live in the city. An anticonvention Web site includes a bulletin board for housing and transportation assistance.

Many activists are deciding to skip the Democratic convention in Boston July 26-29 - and other events like the Group of 8 summit meeting of presidents and prime ministers in Savannah, Ga., June 8-10 - to reserve resources for the Republicans. While many object to Senator John F. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee whose support of the Iraq war is anathema to the left, "he is the lesser of two evils,'' said June Grossholtz, a retired college professor organizing convention protesters in western Massachusetts.

The will may not be a problem but the means can be, especially in places like Richmond, which does not have a deep history of leftist mobilization.

"I am less concerned about getting people interested than where we are going to get the money for the buses,'' Mr. Straub said, adding that they rent for $1,000 per bus.

Muna Hijazi, another organizer, retorted, "People always find a way to pay for them.''

The organizers plan to pass the hat at parties and meetings. They will pass out leaflets at a planned July 3 antiwar demonstration in Richmond, and they are collaborating with organizers in Washington for at least the Aug. 29 demonstration.

The uncertainty over what permitted marches will materialize has caused some confusion and delays in planning.

"What are we going to, if there have been no permits issued?'' one woman asked at a meeting in Richmond the other night to plan the July 3 march, which Mr. Straub and his companions see as a way to fire people up for a descent on New York.

"You don't need a permit to go to New York and express free speech,'' replied Emily Harry, an anticonvention organizer.

This Richmond group began organizing eight months ago, after regular Sunday gatherings in a city park of the local chapter of an antipoverty group, Food not Bombs. Not all are agitated 20-somethings; Connie Moss, 45, who has a son in the Air Force stationed in Europe, said she wanted to show that not all military families support the war.

"The reason I am going to New York is I want the numbers there,'' she said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 25th, 2004, 01:39 AM
It's amazing how many left-wingers in this country want George W Bush's head on a platter a la John the Baptist :roll: .

May 25th, 2004, 10:45 AM
It's not just left wingers -- It's the mainstream. There are very few true "left-wingers" in the U.S. Think of the 2-3% of voters that chose Nader in 2000. One of the biggest successes of the conservative backlash of recent decades has been to re-define the moderate center of political thought as "left-wing."

TLOZ Link5
May 25th, 2004, 02:55 PM
I saw some "Billionaires for Bush" protesting outside the AMNH today, coinciding with the world premiere of "The Day After Tomorrow." They had a big crew that spray-snowed the grand staircase and facade of the main entrance.

May 25th, 2004, 06:28 PM
By left-wingers I mean loyal Democrats of virtually every stripe except the pro-life crowd. There are a million antiwar and other activist groups who want Bush out of office, and I'm expecting the D.P. convention in Boston in July to contain lots of these activists, as well as lots of direct anti-Dubya rhetoric. Generally I'm staying neutral politically, but the seething hatred of Bush I'm seeing amongst Democrats and their supports is nothing short of, well, interesting.

May 28th, 2004, 07:49 AM


May 28th, 2004, 11:49 PM
May 29, 2004

G.O.P. Convention to Feature Party's Big New York Names


ALBANY, May 28 (AP) - Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Gov. George E. Pataki will be prominently featured at the Republican National Convention this summer, partly because of their roles in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, a convention spokesman said on Friday.

"The role they played in New York, the strength, the resiliency that they demonstrated to the world is very much a part of what we're going to show the world at our convention," said the spokesman, Leonardo Alcivar. He said it had not been determined exactly what role each would play at the convention, being held Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 in New York City, but added, "The mayor, the governor and the former mayor are all stars, and they're going to play a prominent role."

Democrats have complained that Republicans, holding their convention in New York City for the first time, plan to capitalize on 9/11. Republican leaders have denied that.

Mr. Alcivar said Mr. Giuliani, who was mayor at the time of the terror attacks, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Pataki would be given prominent roles at the convention to highlight their overall performance in office, not just their work in the aftermath of the attacks.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 5th, 2004, 10:55 AM
June 5, 2004

Police and Protesters at Odds on Details for Convention


A top New York police officer defended plans yesterday to use four-sided barricades to control demonstrators at the Republican national convention, saying the police want to keep streets open to allow any emergency evacuation of the area.

Chief of Department Joseph J. Esposito, the highest-ranking uniformed officer, said the police wanted to keep all their tactical options open for a big demonstration on Aug. 29, the day before the convention is scheduled to begin. But he said the police were not planning to conduct general searches of backpacks and purses, because they did not have enough officers to search everyone in a crowd possibly numbering 250,000 people.

Chief Esposito testified in federal court in Manhattan in a civil suit against the Police Department by the New York Civil Liberties Union and three people who say they were treated roughly by the police in February 2003 at a protest against the Iraq war near the United Nations. The suit seeks a court order barring universal bag searches, requiring the police to broadly publicize any streets that will be closed near the march, and discouraging the use of metal barricades, called pens, that keep demonstrators within the length of each block.

Talks are under way between the police and United for Peace and Justice, the lead group organizing the August demonstration, about the march route. Leslie Cagan, the national coordinator, said the group had rejected a police offer of a route up 11th Avenue because it would not pass by Madison Square Garden, the convention site. In the next meeting, on June 11, they will press for an Eighth Avenue route, she said.

Chief Esposito said that preventing a terrorist attack and making plans to cope if one occurs were the overriding concerns for the police in organizing for the convention.

"We'd have to be out of our minds not to have that as the most paramount concern in approaching these events," he said. The police want the option of dividing up the rally by setting up the four-sided pens because they limit movement flow and help keep cross streets open for ambulances and police cars.

"A major, major consideration is a mass evacuation," Chief Esposito said. "In the event you had an explosion or a terrorist attack, if people were allowed to swarm, it's much harder to get them out."

The hearing recalled clashes between the police and protesters at the 2003 demonstration, when tens of thousands of people never made it to the First Avenue rally because of metal barricades that divide the crowd and closed side streets in an effort to move access northward as the avenue near the event filled up.

Ann Stauber, who went to that protest in a wheelchair she uses because of a hereditary disease, testified that she became "very uncomfortable" in one of the barricade pens and tried to leave. According to witnesses, Police Officer Marvina C. Lawrence seized the steering handle of Ms. Stauber's motorized chair and swung it around, breaking it, blocking her from leaving for an hour.

Ms. Stauber said she was trapped in her home for weeks after the rally while her chair was being repaired.

"I had no way to leave my home," she said. "I was stuck. I was emotionally devastated, I was shattered, I spent a lot of time crying." The civilian review board that monitors the police substantiated her complaint.

Ms. Stauber said she wanted to attend the Republican convention rally but was "very frightened" of encountering the same barricades. Another plaintiff, Jeremy Conrad, was trampled by a police horse at the protest, according to testimony.

The civil liberties group wants the court to order the police to provide special training on deployment of the mounted police to officials who will be in charge of the Aug. 29 operation. The suit does not seek to ban the use of four-sided barricades, only to ensure that people can get in and out easily.

Under questioning by Christopher Dunn, the lawyer for the Civil Liberties Union, Chief Esposito acknowledged that none of the measures the group was seeking with the suit would limit the Police Department's antiterrorism measures.

The police have set an informal deadline of June 15 for applications for convention march permits. Police officials are frustrated with what they call the slow pace of the discussions with United for Peace and Justice, said Paul J. Browne, a deputy commissioner. He said the group had declined several offers for meetings in the past 10 days, leaving the next one for June 11.

"We're the ones who want to nail it down," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 7th, 2004, 01:18 AM
Conventional gains of $265 million
RNC host committee tallies economic benefit; city revenue shift questioned

Published on June 07, 2004

An analysis of the economic benefit of the Republican National Convention by its host committee puts the total at $265 million, in agreement with Mayor Michael Bloomberg's estimate of "more than $260 million," and well above the $184 million recently published by a Boston think tank.

The chief disagreement between the estimates lies in how much New York City will spend on security, host committee costs and services to delegates. The Boston organization, the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, says the city will spend $187 million, while the RNC host committee's analysis puts those costs at $91 million. Of that, $47 million would be spent by the Police Department.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

June 7th, 2004, 01:20 AM
The Boston organization, the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, says the city will spend $187 million, while the RNC host committee's analysis puts those costs at $91 million. Of that, $47 million would be spent by the Police Department.

Ha...$187 million Vs. $91 million...What a difference. But who is right. :?

June 7th, 2004, 01:42 AM
The Republican Party's Diminishing Strength in New York (http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/feature-commentary/20040607/202/998)

The Short-Lived GOP Revival In NYC (http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/feature-commentary/20040607/202/999)

June 7th, 2004, 07:28 AM
We may pen in protesters, top cop says

Staff Writer

June 4, 2004, 7:54 PM EDT

The highest-ranking uniformed officer at the New York Police Department Friday defended the department's use of metal pens and mounted police units to control demonstrators at political rallies and said police officials had not ruled out these and other measures during protests at the upcoming Republican National Convention.

Chief of Department Joseph Esposito's comments came in testimony Friday at a nonjury hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet in Manhattan. The New York Civil Liberties Union and several protesters have sued the NYPD, contending their civil rights were violated during a protest March 20, an anti-war demonstration on Feb. 15, 2003, and a demonstration during the World Economic Forum in 2002.

The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction against the department so that disputed procedures that they charge violate demonstrators' civil rights will not be in place at the upcoming convention. These include keeping people in metal pens, controlling access to demonstrations and using mounted police units for crowd control.

After testifying for about two hours, Esposito told reporters that the NYPD had not ruled out using metal pens or mounted police officers during protests at the convention, which will be at Madison Square Garden Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. Outside court, he noted the recent railway bombing in Spain in which explosives were concealed in a backpack as a reason to consider searching all protesters.

"The threat of terrorism is just about paramount in all of our thinking for all of these events," he said. "If you look at what happened in Spain ... we'd have to be out of our minds not to have that as the most paramount concern when approaching these events."

On the stand, Esposito testified that the department did not expect to conduct so-called blanket searches of demonstrators' bags and backpacks, but had not ruled it out as a security measure.

Christopher Dunn, a NYCLU lawyer, showed Esposito excerpts of videotapes made at 3:59 p.m. at the Feb. 15, 2003, protest and questioned him about a segment that appears to show mounted police officers being directed by a superior officer to ride their horses into the crowd of demonstrators. Police appeared to be acting to disperse the crowd just as the rally's permit was slated to expire at 4 p.m.

Jeremy Conrad, a demonstrator, testified a horse trampled upon him during the rally.

On the tape, Dunn asserted that Bruce Smolka, chief of the Manhattan South Precinct, directed the mounted police officers to ride into the crowd, saying, "We want to open Third Avenue up," and adding minutes later, "Collar anybody that's left."

However, Esposito said he did not recognize the voice heard giving those directions.

"Did you see horses advancing on people sitting on the ground?" Dunn asked.

"I saw horses advancing," Esposito replied. He insisted the horses had not trod upon the demonstrators but had only made "contact" with the people.

During questioning by a city lawyer, Esposito said the situation had become "very hot."

"Barriers were being pushed over," he said. "I think it was very close to a major disturbance. I wouldn't say riot, but I would say a nasty situation."

The hearing is slated to resume Monday.

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

June 7th, 2004, 10:59 AM
"I saw horses advancing," Esposito replied. He insisted the horses had not trod upon the demonstrators but had only made "contact" with the people.

hmmm :?

June 7th, 2004, 11:01 AM

June 7, 2004

Elected officials and First Amendment advocates called on Mayor Bloomberg yesterday to allow protesters freedom to express themselves during the upcoming Republican Convention.

"I am concerned that my constituents will be prevented from expressing their First Amendment rights at the convention while demonstrating either in support or opposition to the administration's policies," said Rep. Major Owens (D-Brooklyn).

Owens said he would seek a memorandum of understanding with Bloomberg, intended to facilitate discussions between the city and protest groups, many of which have applied for march and rally permits and not received responses from the police.

The four-day convention begins Aug. 30 at Madison Square Garden. Police officials have said they will begin issuing permits after June 15.

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller said he would introduce a resolution today calling for action on permit applications, and minimal use of police barricades.

"The City Council is committed to working with the administration to ensure that demonstrators in New York City are allowed to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, association and expression," said Miller, who joined Owens and other elected leaders at a City Hall news conference.

The mayor's office did not immediately comment.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings

June 7th, 2004, 11:04 AM
"I am concerned that my constituents will be prevented from expressing their First Amendment rights at the convention while demonstrating either in support or opposition to the administration's policies," said Rep. Major Owens (D-Brooklyn).

I am also concern about this issue. I haven't heard anything about this yet. I want to be there but I don't want a clash with the law enforcement. :(

June 12th, 2004, 07:29 PM
June 13, 2004

'Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Those Old Protest Tactics Have to Go'


When protesters descend on the Republican convention this summer, Christian Herold will be there with bells on. Then, he will ring them.

Mr. Herold has ordered hundreds of one-inch, gold-plated bells - the kind that could easily adorn a Christmas tree - that he plans to distribute to any takers. He will call participants in his Ring Out project to surround ground zero - as close as they can - and raise a cacophony to "ring out the Republicans" shortly before the convention opens on Aug. 30.

"The bell stands for different emotions - anger, alarm - and it's emblematic of the Liberty Bell," Mr. Herold, 47, said the other night as he and three companions readied dozens of bells to show at a meeting of protest groups.

Mr. Herold is hardly alone in making somewhat unorthodox plans to greet the Republicans, who will hold their convention for the first time in New York, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden.

Luke Kuhn, 38, a self-described radical who lives near Washington, has sent out e-mail pleas seeking a suitable kiln to melt a brass ring, about the size of a large wedding band, inscribed with Bush Über Alles, at the start of the convention. Axis of Eve, a protest group formed in January to focus on women's rights, is selling underwear adorned with anti-Bush slogans and is organizing 100 women to flash them during the convention (The underwear will be worn over body suits or leotards to keep it legal.)

Zoe Strauss, a Philadelphia photographer, is urging people to wear red bandannas en masse as a symbol of protest and plans to bring 10,000 to the convention to hand out. Wendy Tremayne, a performance artist, is recruiting volunteers for a Vomitorium, a re-enactment of a Roman orgy that she plans to stage as a protest against imperialism, consumerism and gluttony.

Just what approach to take is debated among prospective demonstrators, in meetings and Internet chat groups, where calls to shut down the Republican gathering and confront the police are mixed with pleadings to march peacefully and in large numbers.

Some organizers favor something in between, maybe not as confrontational as the anarchists' approach but an alternative to mass marches in which large groups, typically kept behind metal barricades, hold signs and chant familiar refrains: "Hey hey, ho ho (insert objectionable entity here) has got to go" and the like. Some 15 organizations have applied to the Police Department for permits for large street demonstrations just before or during the convention.

"There is an element among protesters who feel that classical tactics are stale," said Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University who was a leader of antiwar protests in the 1960's and has studied protest movements. "I think it is built into the protest process that especially younger people come along and want to stake a claim to novelty."

That was part of the motivation for Axis of Eve, organized by a group of young women to get disaffected voters, particularly young women, excited about politics and the possibility of defeating President Bush.

"We wanted to think of some unique, creative way to engage people in a different way, to reach out to people who weren't politically engaged," said Zazel Loven, 33, a founder of the group, who is known as Eve Angel. "I had been to marches but I wanted to go beyond that."

Street theater has long been a part of demonstrations. But along with the drumming and mask-making - and there is a group, Theater Against War, ready to help with that - some see a growing role for humorous, irreverent, thought-provoking ways to draw attention to their messages.

In apartments, over the Internet and, in the case of the Ring Out project, the back room of a West Village cafe, they are plotting.

"This brings up memories of the 60's when you saw this kind of thing all the time," said Joshua Spahn, a 49-year-old software programmer who is part of the Ring Out project. "I think it's an exciting new way to energize people. It piques people's curiosity rather than hit them over the head with a political message."

The organizational sophistication varies.

Billionaires for Bush, one of the better known of the theatrical protest groups, whose members dress to the nines and picket Republican events shouting slogans like "Blood for oil" and "Corporations are people too," lists on its Web site more than 50 chapters in the United States and France, Korea , Australia and Germany. It sells T-shirts, CD's and "fashion kits" with top hats.

By contrast, Mr. Kuhn, an unemployed bike messenger who wants to melt the protest ring, seems long on ambition but short on resources.

Inspired by the "Lord of the Rings," the ring "makes a point that Bush is a dark lord," Mr. Kuhn said. Therefore, it must be destroyed, as in the book and movies, but Mr. Kuhn is not sure how to do it: maybe using a barbecue grill with coals fanned by a hair dryer.

"I can make a bellows, if nobody has a hair dryer, from salvaged wood that day, if necessary," he wrote on an electronic bulletin board for protest organizers. "I can easily rig the grill to be an improvised 'forge,' as a blacksmith would know it, and that will easily handle the destruction.''

Others have faith that the grass-roots spirit among protesters - and the wide reach of the Internet - will help their ideas catch on.

After posting her red bandanna idea on a protest group e-mail list, Ms. Strauss, 34, received a "deluge'' of support, she said, as well as messages from a few dissenters who objected to the idea because it smacked of a dress code.

She said she chose red bandannas after reading that striking coal miners in the 19th century wore them as a sign of solidarity. It should make a powerful, "all-American" unifying emblem, she said.

"It is very important to have a grass-roots symbol people can connect to and people can see," she said. "When Republicans come they can see a much bigger opposition."

Likewise, the organizers of the Ring Out project searched for a unifying symbol with patriotic overtones: the Liberty Bell.

Mr. Herold, an adjunct drama professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, has bought nearly 800 of the little bells - a packet of three is 99 cents - and is aiming to corral enough supporters to deploy 50,000 bell ringers.

The bells will be attached to ribbons and pinned to clothing, along with small cards of explanation. For more vigorous protesting, they can easily be taken off and rattled.

Last week Mr. Herold and Mr. Spahn sat with other supporters, a lawyer and a fund-raiser for nonprofit organizations.

Amid the jingle of the bells they discussed everything from the history of bells to their future: whether bell ringing would run afoul of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's campaign to reduce annoying noise in the city.

Mr. Spahn wondered aloud if people would understand the intent of the bells.

"How do we make the message real clear to people, to innocent bystanders?" he asked.

Mr. Herold replied that such symbols tend to catch on quickly.

"Look at the branding of the AIDS ribbons," he said, referring to the red ribbons worn to raise awareness of AIDS and to support research to fight it.

When the discussion turned to how far removed protesters would likely be from the convention site, Mr. Spahn sounded optimistic.

"Nice thing about a bell," he said, "is you have hundreds of people with a bell like that, even a half mile away they will be heard."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 14th, 2004, 01:44 AM
Find Your Inner Republican (http://www.gothamgazette.com/innerrepublican)

June 16th, 2004, 01:37 AM
June 16, 2004

Deadline Extended for Applying to Protest Convention


The New York City Police Department has extended the deadline for organizations that plan protests around the Republican National Convention to apply for permits.

The original deadline was yesterday, but the department will continue to take applications up to a month before the convention, which begins Aug. 30, said Paul J. Browne, the deputy police commissioner for public information. He said the city received applications from 12 groups.

"We're going to make a good-faith effort with all of the groups in front of us," said Mr. Browne.

But at a news conference across from Madison Square Garden, members of eight groups said they felt that city officials were stalling.

Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, said, "We are having serious difficulties with Mayor Bloomberg, police and others rolling out the red carpet for the Republicans but doing very little to accommodate the rights of those who wish to dissent."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 16th, 2004, 10:49 AM

June 16, 2004

The head of a group set to protest at this summer's Republican National Convention said yesterday that her organization would march to Madison Square Garden even if it is denied a permit from the NYPD.

At a gathering of eight protest groups to complain about the slow pace of the NYPD's permitting process, Cheri Honkala — director of The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign — said her group will march regardless of what the NYPD has to say.

"We have a right to freedom of speech . . . with or without a permit," said Honkala.

Honkala's group, which represents poor and homeless families, plans to march from the United Nations to Madison Square Garden on Aug. 30 — the opening day of the GOP gala.

None of the other seven groups on hand yesterday would commit to marching or rallying without a permit.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

June 16th, 2004, 11:14 PM
June 17, 2004

G.O.P. Nearing Money Record for Convention


The New York City Host Committee for the Republican National Convention is expecting to raise a record amount of money, and already has tens of millions of dollars in contributions and commitments from donors ranging from an Indian tribe that runs a casino in Connecticut to real estate agents, financiers and drug manufacturers.

The list of major contributors includes corporations like Pfizer and Citigroup but also individuals like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and David Rockefeller, who each gave $5 million of their own money toward the $64 million goal, the committee said.

The committee's aggressive fund-raising is expected to exceed the record $36.1 million collected by Los Angeles officials for the Democratic convention in 2000, and will effectively signal an end to the effort to make conventions publicly financed, campaign finance experts said.

After the Watergate scandal of the 1970's, Congress legislated that conventions were to be publicly financed to help avoid corruption and to limit the influence of corporate cash on politics, campaign finance experts said. The furious fund-raising pace illustrates how conventions have become the chief means for corporate donors to make large contributions to organizations benefiting political parties since the imposition of new restrictions on such donations, known as soft money, campaign finance experts said.

At first, the committee refused to divulge the names until later, saying that by law it did not have to make them public until after the convention, which is scheduled Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. After receiving inquires, the committee released a partial list of its major donors to The New York Times and said it would post that list today on its Web site, nyc2004.org.

The committee continues to withhold the amounts donated, saying only that the list includes contributors who gave from $2,500 to $5 million, and it has held back the names of 20 contributors who have asked not to be identified now, committee officials said. Some of the contributors donated services, like Disney, which contributed tickets to "The Lion King," officials said.

While the list of major donors is incomplete, it does give the first significant insight into who is bankrolling what is expected to be the most expensive convention in the nation's history. Of the 73 donors listed, 20 have also given to the Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Boston in July, according to a review of the list by the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan group in Washington that has tracked convention spending over the last two decades.

"Historically, double givers are often people seeking access to both parties, rather than civic patriots," said Steven Weissman, associate director for policy at the institute.

The corporations giving in New York include news organizations, like The Times, which said it gave a combined $1.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions. There also are financial institutions, like Deutsche Bank and communications giants like AT&T. Thirty-seven of the 73 individuals and organizations are based in New York City, according to the host committee. The committee had previously identified 15 people as major contributors and fund-raisers, including Roland W. Betts, a local businessman who is a close friend of President Bush, and Jonathan M. Tisch, the chief executive of Loews Hotels, who has had close ties to Democrats.

The committee sent fund-raising letters under the names of Gov. George E. Pataki and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to people across the nation and said it expected to raise $3 million in small contributions. The letters offer donors of $100 a lapel pin and a small plaque with their name on it at the entrance to the convention hall.

Congress never intended that host committees take in such large amounts, according to the Federal Election Commission and the Campaign Finance Institute. In fact, the practice of political parties requiring that host committees pick up more and more of the expense of running the convention is relatively new. In 1992, Republican and Democratic host committees together collected about $8.4 million, which was more than twice the $3.5 million collected four years earlier.

Private contributions to such committees began to skyrocket with the conventions of 1996, when $38 million was given for both parties, and 2000, when $56.2 million was donated, according to Campaign Finance Institute analysts.

This year the federal government will give Democrats and Republicans about $14.9 million each for their conventions, money that officials said would cover the cost of anything deemed political. The Boston host committee is expected to raise an additional $39.5 million in private money, and a committee spokeswoman, Karen Grant, said it had raised all but $2 million.

New York officials will not say how much they raised, but they are required, by contract, to pay the cost of everything from the rent on Madison Square Garden to the cost of installing a bridge over Eighth Avenue to the press center in the old post office building.

When Congress adopted the convention-related legislation, it was expected that local committees would collect small donations to help promote local business, said Mr. Weissman of the Campaign Finance Institute. That is why the committees remain tax-exempt organizations and donations are tax deductible, officials said.

"Basically, the assumption was that host committees were going to be local chambers-of-commerce sort of entities, whose job basically was to promote the city," said Robert Biersack, an election commission spokesman. "So I am not sure they anticipated a campaign-finance sort of issue."

The host committee's original refusal to disclose the names was criticized by groups that have pushed to tighten campaign finance laws.

"The best disinfectant is sunlight," said Rachel Leon, executive director of Common Cause New York, a nonpartisan government watchdog. "The more disclosure the better. How can these conventions be in the public interest if they are bankrolled by special interests?"

Committee officials said they had been complying with all relevant guidelines.

"We are in full compliance with the letter and the spirit of the federal campaign finance law," said Paul J. Elliott, spokesman for the host committee. "We will disclose our contributors and their contributions Oct. 13 when federal campaign finance laws mandate that we do so."



Paying Expenses of G.O.P. Convention

Following is a partial list of donors to the New York City Host Committee 2004 for the Republican National Convention:

Abbott Laboratories

Affiliated Computer Services Inc.

Altria Group Inc.

American Express

American International Group Inc.

Amgen Inc.

Dawn Arnall



Atlantic Development Group

Bank of America

Bank of New York

Blackstone Group

Michael R. Bloomberg

Brookfield Properties

Russell L. Carson

CB Richard Ellis

Cisco Systems Inc.


Coca-Cola Company


Credit Suisse First Boston

DaimlerChrysler Corporation

Delta Air Lines Inc.

Deutsche Bank

EMC Corporation

Ernst & Young

Fannie Mae

Federalist Group L.L.C.

Geller & Company

General Motors

GFI Group Inc.

Hearst Corporation

H.J. Kalikow L.L.C.

I.B.M. Corporation

IDT Corporation

International Paper

Sonia and Paul Tudor Jones II

J. P. Morgan Chase & Company

Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis

Carl H. Lindner

Lefrak Organization

Loews Hotels

Jennifer and Marc Lipschultz

Marriott International Inc.

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

Thomas E. McInerney

Merrill Lynch & Company

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

Microsoft Corporation

Monster Worldwide Inc.

MSD Capital L.P.

Balance Athletic Shoe Inc.

New York Life Insurance Company

New York Stock Exchange Inc.

The New York Times

Pfizer Inc.

Restaurant Associates

Robert Plan Corporation

David Rockefeller

Rudin Management Company

Schering-Plough Corporation

Serono Inc.

Paul E. Singer

Alex G. Spanos

State Street Foundation

Time Warner

Tishman Speyer Properties

UST Inc.

Verizon Communications

Walt Disney Company

Waste Management Inc.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 17th, 2004, 01:16 AM
June 17, 2004

Protesters' Morning Greeting for Mayor: Where's Our Permit?


When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg arrived at City Hall yesterday morning, he breezed by the usual array of police officers, lobbyists and government aides gathered outside. But one group was not so ready to let him pass by.

Several members of United for Peace and Justice, a protest group that has been battling the Bloomberg administration for the right to hold a rally in Central Park during the Republican National Convention, seized the opportunity to ask the mayor when they would receive a permit. The mayor said, "All you've got to do is apply."

But a few people called out that they had indeed already applied, about a year ago. The mayor then responded, "All you've got to do is wait."

The mayor added that the Police Department would now look at the applications and find a way to accommodate protesters. The city had asked groups to apply for permits by June 15, but is now saying they can submit applications until a month before the convention, which begins on Aug. 30; applications from a dozen groups have already been received, officials said.

"Until we get them all, we just can't do that," the mayor told the protesters, referring to when the permits would be issued. "You're asking something unreasonable. Now we have them, and we will give everybody a permit so that they can express themselves."

But the mayor's answer did not satisfy Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice. Her group's original application for a permit in Central Park was denied by city officials, and the group is fighting that decision.

As the mayor walked away, she continued to call after him. Afterward, she complained to reporters, "I guess that's the mayor's idea of a conversation: he talks to us, then he turns his back and walks away."

The exchange between the mayor and the protesters came just before the issue was taken up by the City Council's Governmental Operations Committee. More than 75 people filled the hearing room, and a sergeant-at-arms turned away latecomers at the door.

During the three-hour hearing, the committee voted to approve a resolution calling on Mayor Bloomberg and his administration to uphold civil liberties, expedite the permit process, ban the excessive use of police barricades and allow demonstrators to protest close to Madison Square Garden, the site of the convention.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 18th, 2004, 03:30 PM
City's hope rides on RNC

By Greg Davids
June 18, 2004

It isn't an exaggeration to say the city's economic future was at stake when the Democratic National Convention came to New York in 1992. Similarly, it's fair to say that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's political prospects and the city's bid to host the 2012 Olympics will be on the line when the Republicans sweep into town the last week in August.

When New York decided to compete for the right to host the 1992 convention, little was going well. The city was about to set a murder record and the economy was falling rapidly into a recession that eliminated one of every nine jobs. Companies were leaving for less costly locations, and residents were fleeing for the safety of the suburbs.

Mayor David Dinkins and Robert Rubin, then head of Goldman Sachs but little known outside financial circles, decided that hosting a convention would show that the city remained viable. Doubters were everywhere. Would a delegate or reporter be murdered? Would New York's dirt and ever-present homeless repel the attendees? Would the media, bored with Bill Clinton's coronation, focus on the city's flaws?

New York proved it remained a great city. Mayor Dinkins scraped together the money needed to fix up midtown--especially around Madison Square Garden. No one was killed. The visitors rediscovered Broadway and dining that exceeded anything back home. Yes, the delegates and media said, New York was alive and kicking.

The citizenry's depression began to lift and was replaced with a sense of accomplishment. The groundwork was laid for the good times of the later 1990s.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, Mayor Bloomberg came to the same conclusion as Mayor Dinkins: A political convention would provide an important boost. Playing on sympathy for the city and armed with an enormous amount of cash for the event, he won this year's convention. While many things are much better than in 1992--crime is low, the city is clean and the economy is improving nicely--the anxiety is as high.

It isn't just the fear of another attack. The trepidation is based on the more prosaic worry that security will be so intense that the city simply will not function.

The lack of communication concerning security means that companies with offices near the Garden don't know if their people will be able to get to work, or whether customers will be able to enter their shops. Many firms, more than are willing to say so publicly, expect to shut down--crippling an important business district. Those of us who are older also wonder if the poisonous political atmosphere could result in a repeat of Chicago in 1968.

If the convention goes badly, the mayor will get the blame. His popularity, which has been rising, will plunge, and his opponents won't let anyone forget what happened. Also, the doubts about how disruptive the 2012 Olympics might be will get wide attention, and the bid will be wounded, possible fatally.

Here we are again, with just as much at stake as in 1992.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

June 21st, 2004, 02:33 AM
Summer of Protest (http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/issueoftheweek/20040621/200/1012)

June 21st, 2004, 09:13 AM

June 21, 2004

A slew of amateur entrepreneurs are looking to cash in on this summer's Republican National Convention by offering up their apartments for big bucks during the four-day gala.

More than 100 apartments — ranging from a cramped single-room in Queens for $150 per night to a luxury Midtown spread costing $8,500 for the week — were for rent as of the weekend on the Web site craigslist.com.

"Why not rent my place out?" asked Raymond Baldwin, 26.

"I'm just going to stay at a buddy's place in the city and rake in some money at the same time," added the paralegal, who lives on 90th Street and Third Avenue and is looking to bring in $800 a night for his three-bedroom abode.

"I'm doing it for the financial opportunity," said Elizabeth O'Connor, a 31-year-old Web designer who's been out of work for the past year.

"If I rent the place, I'm going to move in with my friend who lives down the street," said the Woodside, Queens, resident who's asking $2,500 for a six-day stay at her three-bedroom apartment.

And Harvey Leibowitz, who runs a banking and lending operation and lives on 53rd Street and Seventh Avenue, just wants to "make a few bucks."

Leibowitz is charging $2,200 for a four-day stay in his junior one-bedroom and is heading to his son's Woodbury, L.I., home for the duration of the convention.

But while supply is high, demand may not be, and many of these would-be real-estate brokers may never end up leaving home during the convention.

Although the New York City Host Committee reserved 18,000 of the city's total 70,572 hotel rooms, there are still plenty of rooms available throughout Manhattan during the GOP fete.

Not all people looking to rent their pads are just out to line their own pockets.

"I'm trying to take some money off the Republicans and give half of it to John Kerry," said one renter from the Cloisters area who wished to remain anonymous.

"I don't think the Republicans love the things that make New York great," added the renter, who wants $2,500 for the entire week of Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.

Carolyn Zajano didn't get her $300 tax-cut check until a year after it was supposed to arrive, and she's looking for some financial revenge.

"They owe me," says the 28-year-old, whose Midtown studio is going for $1,200 over a five-day stint. Others are fleeing because of terrorism worries and the expected chaos that comes with such a massive event.

"My girlfriend doesn't want me here," said Nate Lewkowicz, 23.

"She thinks there's going to be some sort of attack in the city," added the claims adjuster.

"This is a way of being away from the impeding madness," said Rob Goldstone, who's trying to unload his apartment — located just four blocks from convention hub of Madison Square — while he heads to London for the week.

"There's no way I'd want to live in that neighborhood during that period of time," he added.

But even if their apartments aren't snapped up, some New Yorkers still plan to get away during the convention.

"I'm leaving regardless," the London-bound Goldstone said.

"And I'm not coming back until the minute it's over."

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

June 21st, 2004, 09:18 AM

June 21, 2004

Even with tens of thousands of delegates, media members and protestors flooding the Big Apple for this summer's Republican National Convention, the majority of city hotels still have their "vacancy" signs up.

While the New York Host Committee in early 2004 reserved 18,000 hotel rooms throughout Manhattan for delegates and the media, many of the unreserved hotels have plenty of space left.

Travel Web site Orbitz.com lists dozens of hotels — from the swanky SoHo Grand and Tribeca Grand to more modestly priced lodgings — that have plenty of rooms available from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.

Roughly 20 percent of the city's more than 70,500 hotel rooms were empty during the months of August and September last year.

And while the 18,000 rooms reserved by the Host Committee will fill some of the void, many tourists who would normally come to New York in late August will stay home only because the convention is in town, according to a hotel-industry expert.

Still, a spokesperson for the city's tourism bureau said hotel rooms will be hard to come by.

"We expect that hotel-room occupancy will be high," said Arleen Kropf, senior communications manager for NYC & Co.

Security concerns during the convention means that uniformed cops will be assigned to each of the 25 hotels hosting delegates, media or others associated with the event, Crain's New York Business reports.

Cops will pay special attention to hotel ventilation systems, which could be used to spread nerve agents like sarin and anthrax. "It would be simple to introduce an agent in the vents," Anthony Martone, director of security at the Warwick New York, told Crain's.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

June 22nd, 2004, 01:54 PM

June 22, 2004

A fund-raiser in Mayor Bloomberg's home for the National Republican Congressional Committee was abruptly dropped yesterday in a growing feud over the allocation of federal funds to fight terrorism.

Sources told The Associated Press that the luncheon event was canceled after the mayor objected to the attendance of Bob Ney, co-chair of the NRCC's incumbent retention committee.

Ney voted last week against an amendment sponsored by Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) that would have shifted nearly $450 million into a fund for cities at high risk of attacks.

The measure was defeated, leading Bloomberg to go on the attack against "pork barrel" politics.

"To say it's a disgrace is being too charitable," the mayor declared angrily after the vote.

He suggested residents here call Sweeney, who represents a largely rural and suburban district upstate, to offer their thanks for his support of the city.

NRCC spokesman Carl Forti insisted the fund-raiser had been postponed because of a scheduling conflict.

But Bloomberg had nothing on his public schedule until 6:30 p.m., when he attended the home opener of the Staten Island Yankees.

A mayoral spokesman declined comment.

The feud between the Republican mayor and congressional Republicans couldn't come at a more sensitive time with the GOP presidential convention coming to town in two months.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

June 22nd, 2004, 02:25 PM
Hotels fortify for RNC
Managers, police add technology and personnel to keep conventioneers, public safe; pricey preparations

By Lisa Fickenscher
Published on June 22, 2004

With the city bracing for as many as 1 million protestors and worrying about a terrorist attack during the Republican National Convention, the 25 hotels slated to host 4,853 delegates are being transformed into fortresses.

Hoteliers are installing extra surveillance cameras, doing intense background checks on new hires and beefing up their security staffs. Over the past several months, the New York Police Department has been conducting surveys of each property connected with the convention, studying floor plans, mechanical systems and staffers.

"The hotels are the quintessential soft targets," says Kyle Olson, a vice president at Community Research Associates, a security consulting firm based in Alexandria, Va. CRA, which is under contract with the Department of Homeland Security, is working with enforcement agencies that are preparing for the convention.

To protect the public, and to help promote New York as a safe destination for large events, the NYPD will deploy some 10,000 dedicated police officers each day during the convention, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. That compares with 1,800 in 1992, when the Democratic National Convention was held here.

There will be uniformed police in each hotel 24 hours a day, according to hotel security directors. These officers will have studied their colleagues' reports on the hotels' floor plans and emergency procedures. Among their chief responsibilities will be to protect the properties' ventilation systems from nerve agents such as anthrax and sarin gas.

"It would be simple to introduce an agent into the vents," says Anthony Martone, director of security for The Warwick New York. "The officers will be watching for that."

Enforcement agencies are hoping that their presence will also deter protestors who have threatened to disrupt the convention by preventing the delegates from traveling between Madison Square Garden and their hotels.

An NYPD spokesman confirms that police officers will be present at the properties where the delegates are staying, but he declines to elaborate on their duties.

The hotels, for their part, are spending thousands of dollars on security.
The New Yorker Hotel--which is not hosting a delegation but is located across the street from the Garden--is adding 20 cameras to its existing 50, placing them in elevators and certain areas of the lobby, as well as outside the hotel. It has also converted its surveillance cameras from analog to digital; images will be available in real time and stored on a computer hard drive.

Crisis management

The New Yorker is issuing new employee identification cards, on the back of which will be detailed emergency procedures. In addition, the hotel is working on technology that will centrally activate the televisions in guest rooms in case of a crisis to communicate important messages, such as instructions to evacuate the hotel or stay away from the windows.

All of these preparations have a financial impact. The Warwick will spend as much as $15,000 on added security measures, says Mr. Martone. The Hotel Pennsylvania, across the street from the Garden, will be rearranging its staffing to provide greater customer support during the convention. Steve Leonard, director of sales and marketing, is considering having his staff serve as information clerks in the lobby, which means they won't be selling rooms.

The city has already spent $17.5 million on equipment alone, including items such as radios and tools to combat biological weapons, says Jimmy Chin, chairman of the safety and security committee for the Hotel Association of New York City.

"The city and the hotel industry have been preparing on multiple levels for this event," says Mr. Chin. "We are probably the city most prepared for a political event."

At the same time, the hotels want to be careful not to alarm their guests. Concerned that having uniformed officers in the hotel will frighten rather than comfort the North Carolinian delegation assigned to the hotel, Mr. Martone will have a preconvention meeting with the delegation leaders to explain the hotel's security measures.

Kevin Smith, general manager of The New Yorker, adds, "It would take an extreme emergency" to remotely activate the room televisions.

Mr. Martone is trying to inject a lighter note into his security plans. The Warwick is issuing special commemorative room keys during the week of the convention. The delegates get a keepsake, while the hotel can ensure that access to the property is limited to guests who received a room key that week. The director also will issue new employee identification cards shortly before the convention begins, and he is vetting new hires more carefully to make sure that they are not simply trying to infiltrate the hotel before the convention begins.

Most hotels connected with the convention are bolstering their security staffs. The Roosevelt is recruiting personnel from its other properties.

"We will draw from our hotels located outside the city," says David Bird, general manager of The Roosevelt, which is owned by Interstate Hotels & Resorts.

Even hotels that don't have convention business will need extra security.

All hands on deck

"The convention truly encompasses all of Manhattan," says William McShane, director of loss prevention and life safety for Affinia Hospitality, which owns nine hotels in the city. The movement of the delegates between the hotels and the Garden will be a major production, he adds.

Mr. McShane expects guests at Affinia's Benjamin and Plaza Fifty hotels to be inconvenienced because of their proximity to The Waldorf-Astoria, where President George W. Bush will be staying during the convention.

During the World Economic Forum last year, bellhops from the Affinia properties met guests a block away from those sites to escort them to the hotels.

"We are planning a similar arrangement for the RNC," says Mr. McShane.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

June 22nd, 2004, 02:34 PM
the NYPD will deploy some 10,000 dedicated police officers each day during the convention, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. That compares with 1,800 in 1992, when the Democratic National Convention was held here.

Holy Guacamole!!! Do you think that will be effective? :roll:

June 22nd, 2004, 02:41 PM
The city has already spent $17.5 million on equipment alone, including items such as radios and tools to combat biological weapons, says Jimmy Chin, chairman of the safety and security committee for the Hotel Association of New York City.

I hope that in the end this is all worth ($$$) the trouble.

June 24th, 2004, 10:40 AM

June 24, 2004

With just 21/2 months remaining until the GOP swoops into town for its national convention, Mayor Bloomberg can't seem to stop feuding with Republicans in Congress.

Yesterday, it was Kansas Rep. Todd Tiahrt's turn to feel the mayor's wrath, as Bloomberg lashed out at the congressman for introducing an amendment to bar access to a federal gun database for use in civil lawsuits.

The day before, Bloomberg publicly ripped into Ohio Rep. Bob Ney for voting against giving high-risk cities more homeland-security dollars.

While Bloomberg has been more vocal in his criticisms of how homeland-security dollars are doled out, Tiahrt's amendment touched a nerve.

The mayor has pushed to get guns off the street as a way to further reduce the city's plunging crime rate. But the amendment — which passed a House Appropriations subcommittee yesterday — denies the public access to a gun database belonging to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for use in civil lawsuits.

"It is just an outrage," an obviously agitated Bloomberg said.

"The bill . . . would take away the city's ability to look at the list of who has guns that may very well be used to kill people."

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

June 24th, 2004, 01:33 PM
Firms shuffle schedules as RNC nears

Nearby offices send staff elsewhere

by Lisa Fickenscher

Some companies located in the office buildings closest to Madison Square Garden are making plans to have their employees work elsewhere during the Republican National Convention this summer.

These tenants, which include United HealthCare Corp. and accounting firm Buchbinder Tunick & Co., fear that tight security surrounding the Garden, where the convention is taking place, will make getting to work too difficult. Some employers are also concerned about the safety of their workers, who are expected to face a gantlet of protesters, numerous security checkpoints and the increased risk that the area will be a target for people who want to disrupt the convention.

These companies are located mostly in 1 Penn Plaza, across the street from the Garden, and 2 Penn Plaza, on top of the arena.

Other companies say they don't have enough information yet to decide what to do. They say they will wait until July, when the city and their landlord, Vornado Realty Trust, are expected to disclose details about their security plans.

A few companies, including Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services Corp., say they intend to have employees come to work. "We have made no plans to change our work patterns," says a spokesman for Siemens, which has 80 employees at 2 Penn Plaza.

But virtually all firms located in the Penn Station area share a growing anxiety over the lack of information on security arrangements and how their workers will be affected. For example, Robert Dahdah, vice president of sales for Automatic Data Processing Inc., says he has heard that Vornado plans to either partially or fully close 1 Penn Plaza for one or two days during the convention.

Vornado declined to comment for this story and Mayor Michael Bloomberg insists that no final security decisions have been made.

"I know the convention will be a disruption," says Mr. Dahdah, "but until I get more facts, it's difficult for me to create a plan."

Worries at Bailey House

Even executives working as many as eight blocks away from the Garden are anxious about the convention, having heard that there could be a so-called frozen zone that stretches well beyond the immediate Pennsylvania Station area.

Regina Quattrochi, executive director of Bailey House, which provides services to homeless people who are HIV positive, says that she needs to know now whether her offices at 275 Seventh Ave. will be affected, so that she can make plans to move her staff to other locations. She also needs to inform clients of the change and make other preparations. "There does not seem to be readily available information to allow businesses to appropriately plan," says Ms. Quattrochi.

A vanguard of tenants is acting already.

Buchbinder Tunick, with 65 employees at 2 Penn Plaza, is telling its staff to make arrangements to work at clients' offices. "We would try to have as few people in the office as we can," says Harry Wendroff, managing partner of the firm.

United HealthCare is planning to send an e-mail to its 300 employees at 2 Penn Plaza, encouraging most of them to work from home or from one of the company's satellite offices in the area.

Melvyn Weiss, a partner in 200-person law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, says, "We will be very sympathetic to the idea of people working from home during that week."

A number of staffers have requested vacation leave during the convention, says Gail Leibowitz, chief administrative officer of the firm, located at 1 Penn Plaza. Others are concerned that the convention could attract violence. "We have encouraged our employees to take time off if they are uncomfortable coming to work then," says Ms. Leibowitz.

Some must work

Not everyone has that option. Mr. Wendroff says summer is a busy time for his accounting firm. "It's not practical for us to tell people to take vacations," he explains. The same holds for Imagistics International Inc., which sells and services office equipment and has 100 employees, many of whom travel to and from 1 Penn Plaza throughout the day.

Other companies may have decided where their employees will work during that week, but either are not willing to disclose their plans or believe that preparations could change when more information becomes available.

"We are looking at options for things we can do to minimize any disruption in our employees' ability to get to and from work," says a spokesman for The McGraw-Hill Cos., located at 2 Penn Plaza. "The safety of our (200) employees is a paramount concern."

© Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc.

June 25th, 2004, 09:42 AM

June 25, 2004

The NYPD will likely begin issuing permits next week to protest groups planning to gather for this summer's Republican National Convention, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said yesterday.

A variety of protest groups have been loudly complaining about the slow speed with which cops have responded to their permit applications.

United for Peace and Justice — the umbrella protest group that is planning a 250,000-person march past Madison Square Garden the day before the convention begins on Aug. 30 — still hasn't applied for a permit.

Stefan C. Friedman

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

June 25th, 2004, 08:15 PM
GOP convention will cause major street closings

June 25, 2004

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday announced that the city will close off dozens of blocks in midtown Manhattan during the Republican National Convention, which will take place in Madison Square Garden from August 30 to September 2.

While the 13-hour convention is in session, Seventh Avenue will be closed from 42nd to 29th streets, and Eighth Avenue will be closed from 23rd to 34th streets. The city is also designating 31st Street at Eighth Avenue as a protest area, meaning that the streets south of that intersection may have to be closed off at additional times.

Beginning August 29, the city will bar vehicles from West 31st Street to West 33rd Street, between Sixth Avenue and Ninth Avenue. The area between Seventh and Ninth avenues will also be blocked off to pedestrians who do not have business-related reasons to enter it. People will be able to enter Penn Station through the entrance at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, but not from the Eighth Avenue entrance.

The convention is expected to attract some 50,000 conventioneers and more than 15,000 members of the media. The mayor said the city was negotiating with businesses in the area to minimize disruptions.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

June 25th, 2004, 08:19 PM
:evil: I work around the area...what a nightmare this will be! I can't wait.

June 25th, 2004, 11:17 PM
June 26, 2004

New York Streets to Be Blocked to Secure G.O.P. Convention


Much of Seventh Avenue will be closed during the Republican National Convention.

New York City announced ambitious security measures yesterday for the Republican National Convention, including shutting down Midtown thoroughfares for hours each day, putting a concrete barrier around Madison Square Garden, and letting protesters get only as close as one corner of the convention site.

Though city and convention officials said they would be working to reduce the inconvenience to people not involved with the convention, they acknowledged that disruptions would occur across large swaths of Manhattan.

They also say the first day of the convention — Aug. 30 — will be the most difficult because the convention will hold a morning and nighttime session, requiring traffic diversions during the morning and afternoon rushes.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, outlined for the first time a security plan that will essentially close the area around Madison Square Garden to the public.

It calls for channeling commuters coming out of Pennsylvania Station to a pedestrian corridor down 32nd Street, and setting up a barricaded lane in front of the convention site on Seventh Avenue.

Indeed the entire Garden will essentially be boxed in with concrete barriers. Vehicles that are permitted in front of the Garden will have to pass through a metal barrier, drive up onto a platform equipped with video cameras that will inspect the undercarriage, and then drive through a second metal gate.

Mayor Bloomberg, speaking on his weekly radio show, said his priority was to keep the city safe, but he maintained that the heightened security measures would not, for the most part, interfere with city life during the slow summer season.

In what has become a common refrain, the mayor even declared, "If you don't live or work in the garment district, you won't even know that there's a convention in town."

The disruptions will not be nearly as extensive as the ones planned in Boston for the Democratic convention in late July. In Boston, the rail hub at North Station near the FleetCenter, the site of the convention, will close starting three days before the convention. In addition, I-93 will be closed on the four nights of the convention, and many streets will be blocked off.

In Manhattan, large parts of Midtown will be closed to traffic. Police officials plan to shut off 13 blocks of Seventh Avenue, spanning the garment district to Times Square, and 11 blocks of Eighth Avenue south of 34th Street during the one morning and four evenings that the convention is in session. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will reroute buses on both avenues.

People who work within the sealed area will be given credentials to get to their workplaces, the police said. Those who do not have such credentials, but need to get inside, will be asked to show identification and then will be escorted to their destination.

Those details are being announced in advance, giving people time to make plans. Police and convention officials said that they would also be diverting traffic, as far south as Battery Park and possibly as far north as 72nd Street, when they set up the temporary routes needed to ferry delegates to and from the Garden.

The police will not be closing roads for the secure routes, but they will set up coned-off express lanes to allow about 200 buses, staffed by police officers, to shuttle the delegates and conventiongoers.

The lanes will be set up three hours before the convention starts, taken down during the convention, then reopened, perhaps in different locations, after the day's events. The routes will not be made public for security reasons, the police said.

"This worked quite well for the U.N. General Assembly and previous conventions," said Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne. "So we are planning to do it again. This has not caused any major disruptions in the past, and we don't anticipate any on Monday or at other convention days."

While convention delegates will be provided with MetroCards and urged to take mass transit or walk, other subway riders may find it far easier to use stations other than those at 34th Street, commuter groups said.

The people who use Penn Station, the nation's busiest rail station, will find the two exits on the Eighth Avenue side of the station sealed off. Commuters will be funneled out through the Seventh Avenue exit, and will be directed to a pedestrian mall down 32nd Street toward Sixth Avenue.

After describing the security measures, the mayor told radio listeners that the Republican convention would benefit the city as a whole, saying that it would generate an estimated $250 million for the local economy and create thousands of jobs. "So this is a good economic deal for the city," the mayor said. "The disruptions will be a little bit annoying, but minimal. There's no reason for businesses to close down."

But some city residents, commuters and business owners complained yesterday that the convention was more trouble than it was worth. They expressed concerns that they would encounter problems getting to their homes and offices, particularly in Midtown, and that they would be confused by the various street closings.

"Every person that I've spoken to about it, thinks it's going to be an absolute nightmare and people who work in that area are trying to take those days off," said Councilwoman Christine Quinn, whose district office is at West 30th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

The New York City Host Committee yesterday peppered stores, restaurants and offices with about 5,000 brochures urging them to carry out their normal business during the convention. As the brochure put it, "Reporters, TV trucks, extra police, construction workers, volunteers, and protesters will add to the numbers in the neighborhood and they all must eat!"

In addition, city officials are directing convention delegates to restaurants on closed streets to offset lost business, and people will be escorted in and out of restricted areas. "We want to do as much as we can to keep the business functioning, and we're going to have, in essence, an escort going down those streets," Mr. Kelly said.

Despite these efforts, however, the mayor and police commissioner said that the large-scale protests planned during the convention could lead to some traffic disruptions.

Mr. Kelly said that Eighth Avenue south of 31st Street would be available for protesters, adding that additional lanes or sections of the avenue will be closed if necessary to accommodate large crowds.

"That's where most of the demonstrations will be," Mr. Kelly said. "So Eighth Avenue is going to pretty much be closed, but it's still our goal to keep some flow of traffic there when the convention is not in session or demonstrations are not going on."

William K. Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, which is helping coordinate protests, said that his group was not interested in the site on Eighth Avenue. "We couldn't fit very many people in that corner," he said. "We've asked to march by Madison Square Garden, not be stuck in a pen."

Michael Luo and Mary Spicuzza contributed reporting for this article.


Hospitals Advise Their Staffs to Stay Put for Convention


The word is out, if only unofficially: if you are a trauma surgeon, an emergency-department nurse or a top hospital administrator, do not take vacation in late August, in the days up to and during the Republican National Convention Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

For those days, nearly 4,900 delegates and alternates, thousands of journalists and their support staff and thousands of protesters will converge on Manhattan, and hospitals are girding for trouble.

Problems could range from simple heat stroke to injuries during protests to the nightmare scenarios of terrorist attacks on the convention and the city.

"In some of the hospitals, and this is informal and anecdotal, people are already being told that anybody who can avoid taking a vacation during the time of the convention should do so," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

Officially, hospitals say there is no set no-vacation policy.

The municipally owned Health and Hospitals Corporation, which includes Bellevue and Harlem Hospital Centers, has asked each of its 11 hospitals to review August vacations. "We're taking steps to be adequately staffed," said Kathleen McGrath, a spokeswoman for H.H.C.

But, she said, "people have not been told that they absolutely cannot take vacation."

Similarly, the statewide Greater New York Hospital Association has urged its members, especially the 78 hospitals in the five boroughs, to make similar reviews.

It is important not to think of staffing simplistically, said Richard F. Daines, president of the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center. As medical director at the center, he had to cope with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In a normal month, St. Luke's Hospital and Roosevelt Hospital have 7 percent or more of their employees on vacation, he said.

"That percentage will be lower in August," said Dr. Daines. One reason is that senior staff members want to be there when the new interns arrive.

Yet, Dr. Daines said, a hospital should not overstaff during a time of alert like the convention because people could end up standing around, blocking hallways and congregating in the emergency department. "It literally gets too crowded," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 26th, 2004, 08:53 PM
June 27, 2004

Cloud of Dread Hovers Over Convention Street Closings


Eighth Avenue shopkeeper, Mario D'Aiuto of New York New York Cheesecake.

When Helen Woods first learned that the Republican National Convention would be held in Madison Square Garden, opposite the Eighth Avenue restaurant she manages, she was thrilled, thinking all those delegates, reporters and camera crews would be great for business.

Then, as she heard about security concerns and possible street closings, she began to get nervous.

By Friday, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced ambitious security measures that will essentially close the area around the convention site to the public, Ms. Woods was furious.

"They say the convention is going to bring millions and millions of dollars to the city," she said, standing next to the cash register at Tir Na Nog Irish Bar and Grill. "But it's costing millions and millions of dollars, too."

Ms. Woods and local shop owners, as well as commuters who work nearby, predicted that the road closings and restricted access would bring sheer chaos to the area.

"It's probably going to be a madhouse around here," said John Kearney, an investment banker who works at One Penn Plaza. Mr. Kearney, 24, who lives in Manhattan, said that he and several co-workers will work in Albany during the convention and that he plans to stay in an apartment there. Some commuters said they would not miss work, but would try not to travel to and from home, so they could avoid Penn Station and other places near the Garden.

Lee Kuperstein, who lives in Holland, Pa., and normally takes a New Jersey Transit train from Hamilton, N.J., near Trenton, to work, said he would stay in a corporate apartment near his Rockefeller Center importing business.

"I'm just going to avoid this area completely," Mr. Kuperstein, 50, said.

But city officials also drew praise from an unlikely source - transportation groups who said officials are clearly taking steps to minimize the convention's impact.

"Anyone who's had their bus rerouted by a street fair knows what a nightmare it is," said Gene Russianoff, a staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a transportation advocacy group run by the New York Public Interest Research Group. "This will be a serious inconvenience for people in the immediate area, but for the larger city, I believe that it's something to watch on TV, but it won't affect their daily lives."

Paul S. White, the executive director of another advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, said that the city's plan was smart because it would encourage people to walk and use mass transit, rather than drive, during the convention. He said he would even like to see similar measures at other times. "The conditions here have reached a point where it's a convention every day," he said.

For people like Ruben Normatovich, losing even a few days' pay is a hardship. Mr. Normatovich works at Good Morning, a breakfast stand that normally is parked just outside Madison Square Garden. He said that his parents, his new wife and her sick mother depend on his income.

"It's really hard for me to miss work because I have three families to support," said Mr. Normatovich, 23.

Even the businesses that plan to stay open during the convention expect to lose many customers. Ms. Woods, glancing at the blank pages in her restaurant's reservation book, said she expected revenue to drop 30 to 40 percent during the convention.

And Mario D'Aiuto, the president of New York New York Cheesecake on Eighth Avenue, said that he has no idea how his delivery trucks or his customers will be able to get in and out of the area.

"It's a dagger in the heart," said Mr. D'Aiuto, who has operated his bakery between 30th and 31st Streets for about 60 years.

Mr. D'Aiuto said he was also worried about his 45 employees who are "very concerned" about security and getting to work.

But some people said they were willing to do what they could to help. Chauphi Vo, who runs the Fruit Salad cart normally parked outside the Garden on 33rd Street, said he was willing to sacrifice the $500 a day he makes during the summer so the convention could be held safely.

"We have to stay home, so no business, no money," Mr. Vo said. "But people believe in this, the process, the voting. So we have to think about the important things and forget about ourselves."

Winnie Hu contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 26th, 2004, 09:33 PM
I know this would never ever happen, but it would be fun if it did.... Bloomberg could say to the RNC, republicans vote on taking away protection funds from NYC, so NYC wont protect them ! :) :twisted:

June 29th, 2004, 08:18 AM
June 29, 2004

Protest Group and City at Odds Over a March Past the Garden


Police officials and protest organizers met yesterday to discuss whether to let demonstrators march past Madison Square Garden the day before the Republican National Convention begins Aug. 30, protest organizers said.

A march down Seventh Avenue would be something of a victory for the protesters, who have sought to go directly past the Garden. Security measures during the convention will restrict demonstrators' movements because groups will then be confined to the corner of Eighth Avenue and 31st Street. A second meeting between the police and representatives of United for Peace and Justice, which is planning the march, is scheduled for Friday.

But protest organizers argued yesterday that after the march they should be allowed to hold a rally in Central Park, rather than at a blocked-off section of the West Side Highway in Midtown, a site offered by the city. The rally is expected to draw 250,000 people.

"The rally site is the centerpiece for solving this, and it's the mayor who needs to take action," said William K. Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice.

Yesterday's meeting came after the two sides traded accusations that the other was dragging out the permit approval process. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg accused United for Peace and Justice of stalling.

"Until they come to the table and tell us what they would like and negotiate something that is in the city's interest and their interest, we really have a lot of difficulty in giving out permits to other people," the mayor said. "It is potentially a very large protest. They are deliberately holding up everybody else's permits in the interest of getting some publicity for themselves."

A police spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of the march plan. "We've proposed a route that allows them to march by the Garden," said the spokesman, Paul J. Browne. "They're supposed to come back to us with an answer."

Protest leaders said that under the city's proposal, demonstrators would gather near 50th Street on the West Side Highway, march east to Seventh Avenue and south past Madison Square Garden to 14th Street, then return to the highway and the rally point in Midtown.

"This has got a host of problems," Mr. Dobbs said of the highway. "It really stretches out the crowd. It's hot."

The protesters' request for the Great Lawn in Central Park was rejected in May because, the Parks Department said, a large protest could damage the lawn's extensive renovation, and the protest would exceed the lawn's capacity of 80,000. The protesters have in turn proposed gathering on the North Meadow, Mr. Dobbs said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 29th, 2004, 09:05 AM
Mayor: UPJ holding up permits

Staff Writers

June 29, 2004

Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday accused the largest of the protest organizations gearing up for August's Republican National Convention of sabotaging the permitting process for smaller groups by refusing to work with the city.

"Look, there is one group that is keeping everybody else from getting permits," the mayor said at City Hall. "The name of that group is United for Peace and Justice. They say they want to put together a protest of 250,000 people. Until they come to the table and tell us what they'd like and negotiate something that's in their interest and the city's, we really have a lot of difficulty giving out permits to other people."

William K. Dobbs, spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, said the mayor is the one dodging his responsibility by refusing to meet with the group.

"We're very mindful that the buck stops with the mayor, that he's the one who can make the decision," Dobbs said. "But he continues to stall and say no, no, no."

The debate centers around whether the anti-war group can use Central Park as a rally point after a protest march that travels past Madison Square Garden, where the Republicans will be holding their nominating convention. Dobbs said his group was willing to use the North Lawn instead of the Great Lawn.

The Parks Department has denied a permit for use of the park, and the mayor has insisted that the Police Department is in charge of the permitting process. But the Police Department has no power over parks.

The latest controversy comes as Leslie Cagan, the group's executive director, met with the police to negotiate a route.

The mayor has shown little sign of relenting on the issue of the park and said the group is using the contentious issue as a cry for media attention.

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

June 30th, 2004, 08:51 AM
June 30, 2004


Mayor Shuns G.O.P.'s Glow While Pataki Basks in It


Two of New York State's most prominent Republicans, Gov. George E. Pataki and Rudolph W. Giuliani, spent last night in the owner's box at Yankee Stadium with the vice president of the United States. Another, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, begged off and instead went to a civic association meeting in Bayside, Queens.

Mr. Pataki also gets prime speaking time at the Republican National Convention, right before President Bush's speech accepting the nomination. Mr. Bloomberg will speak at the convention, too, but on the little-watched first day, when he will give welcoming remarks.

With the convention coming to town, the Bush administration is like an exhaust fan between Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg. While the governor keeps pulling closer and closer to it, Mr. Bloomberg appears to be blowing farther and farther away.

In just the last two weeks, as Mr. Pataki raced to California to campaign for Mr. Bush, Mr. Bloomberg picked fights with Republican lawmakers in Washington over issues like national security money and gun control. He even snatched an invitation for lunch away from Bob Ney, an Ohio congressman, after Mr. Ney failed to cast a vote in a way that pleased the mayor.

For his part, Mr. Bloomberg seems unperturbed about not having a starring role with the Republicans and their convention, and said he would try to catch his G.O.P. colleagues' speeches on the radio.

If he has time. Which, he strongly implied, he just might not.

Mr. Bloomberg's and Mr. Pataki's antithetical roles in the convention, and in the Bush re-election effort, reflect their history with the Republican Party, their personal styles and their political career goals. Mr. Pataki, a longtime Republican, campaigned vigorously for President Bush in 2000; he even went as far as to try and block John McCain from getting on the New York ballot in the Republican presidential primary.

Mr. Pataki, who shares an alma mater with the president, has continued to align himself closely with him. The governor is widely viewed as wanting a cabinet-level position if Mr. Bush is re-elected.

Mr. Bloomberg, by contrast, appears to have no career goals within the Republican Party, beyond getting re-elected mayor with the party's backing in 2005. He joined the party because he knew in 2001 that he had no chance at the Democratic nomination.

In New York City, where the film "Fahrenheit 9/11" plays to sold-out crowds every night, it may also be true that few local elected officials wish to align themselves too closely with Mr. Bush these days. (Mr. Pataki actually shows up in the anti-Bush documentary, standing over Vice President Cheney's shoulder as he delivers a speech.)

Mr. Bloomberg has even taken on the Republican National Committee over how to spend money and how to secure the city during the convention. He once called a party aide uninformed when the aide suggested that the city could close streets during convention sessions, which is, in fact, exactly what will come to pass.

Drawing such a strong line between himself and the national Republicans will likely work in the mayor's favor, said political experts in both parties. "I would advise him to be more obstreperous, not less." said one prominent Republican political consultant.

Indeed, the two men have opted for very different courses as the convention nears. Mr. Pataki has given roughly a dozen speeches on behalf of the president or the party since last fall.

"Gov. Pataki is one of our most effective and appreciated surrogates," said Terry Holt, a spokesman for Mr. Bush's re-election campaign. With regard to Mr. Bloomberg, he said: "The roles are very, very different. Mayor Bloomberg has been an extremely gracious host, and everyone on the campaign is very anxious to come to New York."

Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said Mr. Pataki was one of the "most requested" speakers among Republican leaders. There are calls for Mr. Bloomberg too, she said, but she would have to look at her records to see when the last one came in.

In a private meeting yesterday with Mr. Cheney, Mr. Bloomberg spent most of his time lobbying for security money for the city, he said. "He did not write out a check, if that's what you wanted to know," Mr. Bloomberg said to reporters after the meeting.

And Mr. Bloomberg has made a point of portraying himself as merely a host, almost suggesting that he would be personally directing traffic and corralling protesters.

Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, said yesterday that Mr. Bloomberg was pleased to stay in the background during the convention. "There are a lot of big names in the Republican Party who deserve prime-time slots, and the mayor wants to be a good host and did not complicate things by demanding a certain role for himself."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 30th, 2004, 10:34 PM
New York Post
June 30, 2004

Bush Will Skip Ground Zero

President Bush will make no visits to Ground Zero during this summer's Republican National Convention, his campaign manager said yesterday.

Speaking before the New York Press Club last night, Ken Mehlman said, "Given his schedule, given the movements around the city, given everything involved, we thought, as part of the nominating convention, that he probably wasn't going to go down and isn't going to go down and visit it."

But Mehlman was quick to note that the president's not making the trip does not indicate any lack of respect.

"The president has honored Ground Zero and every day works to honor Ground Zero," Mehlman said.

"There's no more important goal this president has than to prevent the next 9/11, and he works every single day to try to accomplish that."

Mehlman would not, however, not rule out Bush traveling to Ground Zero on the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, nine days after the convention comes to a close,

But he said he wouldn't announce Bush's official schedule for the fall.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 1st, 2004, 08:14 AM
July 1, 2004

Closings Expected to Jam Penn Station Exits


A study conducted by railroad officials on the flow of people in and out of Pennsylvania Station shows that New York City's plans to close six of the terminal's eight exits during the Republican National Convention could cause serious inconvenience for the more than 600,000 people who use the station every day.

For security reasons, the city plans to close both exits on the Amtrak level of the Eighth Avenue side of the station, and the two in the middle of the terminal that lead to the old taxiway between 31st and 33rd Streets. The two exits on 33rd Street and 8th Avenue for the A, C and E subway trains will be closed as well.

That will leave the already busy main entrance on Seventh Avenue under the Madison Square Garden marquee and, to a lesser extent, the Long Island Rail Road entryway on 34th Street, to bear the entire passenger flow into and out of the nation's busiest railroad station.

"There's no question that it's going to be disruptive and difficult," said Clifford Black, a spokesman for Amtrak, which owns the station. "But we'll muddle through."

Railroad officials said yesterday that they had known by early April, after discussions with law enforcement agencies and the Secret Service, that certain exits would probably have to be closed during the convention, from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

The station is used by riders of New Jersey Transit, the Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak, as well as those who use the subway lines that stop there. During several weeks in April and May, Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road officials counted the number of people who used each entryway during peak hours, from 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 8 p.m.

The railroad officials declined to provide exact figures yesterday on how many people used which exit but said that about two-thirds of the people they counted used either the Seventh Avenue or 34th Street exits - the two that will remain open during the convention - and the rest used the six that are to be closed. With the closings, those two entrances could see a 50 percent jump in the number of people using them. In another inconvenience, the main taxi stand on Seventh Avenue will move to 32nd Street between Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue.

"Honestly, I think it's going to be a horror show," said Gerard Bringmann, vice chairman of the Long Island Rail Road Commuters Council, a group that represents riders. "It's going to be sardine city."

The Seventh Avenue stairwell and escalators are already the busiest place in the entire station, railroad officials acknowledged, and are almost always extremely crowded during the morning and afternoon rush.

"It is at capacity right now, or nearly so," Mr. Black said.

The Long Island Rail Road entryway on 34th Street is almost as busy during the peak times. Railroad officials said yesterday they would do their best to keep things from getting chaotic. They plan to dispatch additional employees and police officers to direct traffic.

They may be helped by two factors. Usually, ridership for the three railroads dips about 10 percent in August, with people taking vacations. And railroad officials figure many workers will stay out of the city that week.

"It is expected that many people will take time off during the convention in anticipation of the disruption around the Madison Square Garden area," Mr. Black said.

Mr. Bringmann said he already knew of many who were planning to do just that. "A lot of commuters I've spoken to are planning their vacations around this," he said.

Even he is planning to take a different route from Long Island to his job in Manhattan, either getting off at Hunters Point Avenue in Long Island City to switch to the No. 7 train, or riding a different train to the Atlantic Avenue terminal in Brooklyn and switching to the subway there.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 1st, 2004, 09:26 AM
I still can't believe we live in an age where we need permission to rebel.

A permit to protest. How Ironic.

July 1st, 2004, 10:22 AM

July 1, 2004

Following weeks of public fighting, the NYPD last night announced a list of permits going out to 10 groups planning to protest or rally during the Republican National Convention.

Cops and Parks Department issued permits for Saturday, Aug. 28 to Wednesday, Sept 1. No permits were issued for the convention's final day, Sept. 2, when President Bush will make his acceptance speech inside Madison Square Garden.

Among the groups receiving permits were:

* Planned Parenthood, which will march across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall Park for a demonstration on Aug. 28.

* The New York Central Labor Council, which will rally at West 31st Street and Eighth Avenue on Sept. 1.

* Poor People's Economic Human Rights, which will hold a rally across from the United Nations on Aug. 30.

Others getting permits include the Christian Defense Coalition, the Middle East Peace Coalition, Code Pink Women for Peace, NARAL, and People for the American Way.

Absent from the list was United for Peace and Justice, an anti-war coalition planning a large march. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was hopeful that an agreement with the group could be reached tomorrow.

Additional reporting by Erika Martinez

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 1st, 2004, 05:31 PM
RNC sees surge in volunteer applications

by Lisa Fickenscher
July 1, 2004

The Republican National Convention host committee has seen its publicity efforts pay off, with a surge of interest from prospective volunteers in recent weeks bringing the number of applications it’s received to more than 10,000.

Just two weeks ago, the New York City host committee had just 6,000 volunteers lined up to help with the convention, which will take place here from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. To date, the committee, which promised to provide 8,000 bodies for the event, has received 10,434 applications. More than half of the people live outside the city, hailing from other parts of the state, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

A number of initiatives have helped boost the numbers, including a print, radio and TV campaign; e-mail blasts to New Yorkers from former mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani; letters from current Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and appeals to corporations by the Partnership for New York City.

Mr. Koch, chairman of the volunteer drive, says recruitment will continue through the second week in August. More volunteers are needed, the committee says, because applicants are still being vetted and not all of the helpers are expected to work each day of the convention. The volunteers will welcome delegates at the airports, assist them with getting around the city, and aid reporters in the media center at the James A. Farley Post Office.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

July 1st, 2004, 05:33 PM
Oh well I should had volunteer... :roll:


July 1st, 2004, 07:58 PM
All these protesters should have volunteered, and pretended to be hard-core republicans, until the last minute, and then..... Hehe. :twisted: :P

That'd serve Bush and Co. right.

July 2nd, 2004, 08:51 AM
All these protesters should have volunteered, and pretended to be hard-core republicans, until the last minute, and then..... Hehe. :twisted: :P

That'd serve Bush and Co. right.

Oh man! I guess I should it though about that. :wink:

July 2nd, 2004, 08:54 AM

July 1, 2004

Delegates will be officially tied before a vote is even taken at the Republican National Convention.

American designer Nicole Miller will be outfitting Republicans with a specially made convention tie.

"The National Republican Committee approached us and we agreed," said Mary Tilt, Miller's spokeswoman.

She added that Miller has designed prints for Democrats and Republicans in the past under the line's corporate silk tie program, which has designed specialty ties for charities, sports teams and corporations.

"The Republicans and Democrats both requested artwork from us, and the Republicans followed through," said Bud Konheim, CEO of Nicole Miller.

The navy silk tie will have a Republican National Convention badge, a U.S. flag, a cowboy hat, elephants and the Statue of Liberty.

Most of the 500 limited-edition ties have already been bought by the Republican National Committee. The rest will be sold for $65 at some of Nicole Miller's 22 boutiques across the country, Tilt said.

The Nicole Miller tie is "our only official merchandise," said Leonardo Alcivar, press secretary for the Republican National Committee. However, he added, other companies are coming up with merchandise to suit the convention.

Hermes, the French luxury goods store, may also be getting in on the act with specially designed ties, sources within the RNC say.

And Asprey, the British luxury goods company, is planning to host a high tea for delegates with British butlers and $18,000 sterling silver tea services at the company's new store at 725 Fifth Ave., said an Asprey spokesman.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 2nd, 2004, 08:58 AM
I guess the Elephants navy silk ties must be a sell.... :roll:

July 2nd, 2004, 11:19 PM
July 3, 2004

A Break for Drivers: Midtown Road Work Will Stop for the Convention


The Republican National Convention might be disruptive to commuters going in and out of Pennsylvania Station, but for drivers, there is one piece of good news: road construction will grind to a virtual standstill in much of Midtown Manhattan before and during the event, and will cease on most major highways in the city during the convention week.

The city will ban road construction in Midtown from Aug. 16 to Sept. 3. The area stretches from 23rd Street to 66th Street, from the Hudson to the East River. This is just one stage of a ban on road work that will begin in mid-July and continue expanding until late August. Most road work on the city's highways, expressways and bridges will have come to a halt by the time the convention takes place, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, at Madison Square Garden.

Thomas Cocola, a spokesman for the city's Department of Transportation, said security considerations and traffic concerns were among the factors his department used to decide on the timing and size of the ban.

The ban applies specifically to nonemergency work on streets and sidewalks, but it will probably affect building construction as well, as it limits the blocking of streets to accommodate construction-related vehicles.

"Difficulties may arise when construction companies can't get their deliveries done," said Ilyse Fink, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings. "For example, you may not be able to bring in a cement truck. You may not be able to erect a crane."

She added that building construction in New York would not stop because of the convention. "Forget the Republicans," she said. "I don't think you would want to tangle with the real estate industry."

Still, those in the building industry suspect that the convention will seriously hinder projects throughout the city. Paul Fernandes, the chief of staff for the Building and Construction Trades Council, an umbrella group representing construction and trade unions, said that construction is a time-sensitive business.

"I think it will affect construction significantly," Mr. Fernandes said. "A lot of our industry is dependent on getting things to and from the site."

He said that road closings make it difficult to do construction work. For example, he said, after concrete is mixed, workers have about 90 minutes to get it to their construction site before it begins to harden.

"We are not happy about it," Mr. Fernandes said. "But we're not angry, either. That's just the way it goes."

Inconvenienced by G.O.P.? 'Get a Life!' the Mayor Says


Feeling miffed that your commute may be disrupted by the Republican National Convention in late August? The mayor has some advice: "Get a life!"

That is what he told the people who may feel inconvenienced when they find themselves struck in traffic or hoofing their way around Pennsylvania Station amid all the security measures for the convention.

After months of insisting the convention would barely be noticed by ordinary New Yorkers, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced last week that 13 blocks of Seventh Avenue, including an area near Madison Square Garden, would be blocked off as the delegates meet. Further, two exits from Penn Station, on the Eighth Avenue side, will be sealed off, sending commuters through the Seventh Avenue exit and into the pedestrian mall on 32nd Street.

Yesterday, during the mayor's weekly radio program, the host, John Gambling, told Mr. Bloomberg that there had been some grumbling around these closings.

"Grumbling?" the mayor said, seeming surprised. When Mr. Gambling pressed the issue, Mr. Bloomberg snapped: "Come on! Get a life! If you have to go out one exit versus another exit for one day it's not a big deal." He added that New Yorkers should feel lucky that their subways are clean, affordable and functional.

Ditto on traffic jams. "Yes, it's annoying," said Mr. Bloomberg, whose cars are equipped with lights and sirens that can be used to skirt such urban nuisances. "You curse to yourself, like Mr. Cheney apparently did publicly," he added, elaborating: "It's not that big a deal! If we're going to have big events there will always be minor inconveniences."

Councilwoman Christine C. Quinn, a Democrat who represents the neighborhoods near Madison Square Garden, said the Republican mayor's remarks underscored her belief that he was "insensitive to the impact this is going to have on the average New Yorker."

Ms. Quinn said she had received hundreds of complaints and questions from businesses about how the city is preparing for the convention.

"People don't say, 'We don't want the Republican convention here' or 'don't close streets,' " she said. "But they have gotten no guidance from the Bloomberg administration."

Paul Elliott, a spokesman for the New York City Host Committee, said his group was working to inform businesses of the changes, including handing out brochures detailing information about garbage pickup, deliveries and street closings. "We understand what the operators view as their challenges and we have an ongoing effort," he said. Mr. Elliott added that a full plan was being formed.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 3rd, 2004, 10:34 AM

July 3, 2004

The city's police cadets are going to get some on-the-job training during the Republican National Convention, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said yesterday.

The Finest-in-training will be deployed around the city to help direct traffic during the convention, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

"This is not something we usually do, but this is an unusual situation," Kelly said at an induction ceremony for the new NYPD Police Academy class.

"It would be silly not to use 1,600 future officers as a resource."

Kelly said the cadets would not be wearing police uniforms. It's unclear how they will be dressed.

Kelly said two-thirds of the future officers will be assigned to Operation Impact — the program in which cops flood specific high-crime areas.

Crime has plunged 32 percent in Operation Impact areas in the past year, said Kelly. Justin Terranova

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 3rd, 2004, 11:59 PM
July 4, 2004


Yikes! The Republicans Are Coming


THE Republicans are coming to New York, and like many things that go on in Manhattan, this too will grate on New Jerseyans. In fact, it will undoubtedly force thousands of residents from the west bank of the Hudson to stay far, far away.

From the time the Republican National Convention takes center stage at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 30 until the final balloon bursts on Sept. 2, about 50,000 visitors are expected to descend on the city, along with 500,000 to a million protesters.

That is only the beginning. Tens of thousands of additional security workers are expected to be patrolling the streets, rooftops, trains, bridges and buses around the Garden, which sits atop the gateway to Manhattan for more than 100,000 New Jersey commuters every day: Pennsylvania Station.

So as the summer of '04 begins in earnest, the question on the minds of many people as they sketch out the tail end of their vacation plans is how badly the events leading up to the renomination of President Bush will affect their day-to-day lives. Will they get to work in time for lunch? Will they make it home in time for dinner or just a late-night snack? Should they even bother?

In New York, local officials are assuring all who will listen that the convention will be a mere blip on the radar screen. "If you don't live or work in the Garment District you won't even know that there's a convention in town," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said recently. "The disruptions will be a little bit annoying, but minimal."

How minimal - particularly for commuters who have to enter and exit Manhattan through Penn Station - remains to be seen. Security arrangements will essentially close the area around Madison Square Garden to the public. The plan announced by Mayor Bloomberg and the city police commissioner, Raymond J. Kelly, calls for channeling commuters coming out of Pennsylvania Station to a pedestrian corridor down 32nd Street and setting up a barricaded lane in front of the Garden on Seventh Avenue.

Of the eight entrances to the station, the nation's busiest railroad terminal, six will be closed. The two scheduled to stay open will be the main entrance on Seventh Avenue at 32nd Street and the Long Island Rail Road entrance on 34th Street just west of Seventh Avenue.

In more candid moments, other officials warn that life could be turned upside-down. "You're going to notice that something big is happening in the city," said Ray Martinez, the director of transportation for the convention.

Or as one Amtrak official commented, the plan will be disruptive and difficult, but "we'll muddle through."

People will be able to pass freely into and out of the station, officials say, but there will be what they call a heightened security presence. During certain hours of the day, stretches of road from Lower Manhattan to 72nd Street will have one lane sealed off for chartered buses taking conventioneers to Madison Square Garden. The bridges and tunnels that link New Jersey to the city will remain open but will be significantly patrolled, and inspections of trucks and cars are virtually certain to create significant delays.

"We're going to ask the traveling public to consider mass transportation as a viable solution," said Tony Ciavolella, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and the New Jersey police. "For those approaching the Lincoln Tunnel, they may expect some delays."

In fact, others in the agency who declined to be identified said that the Port Authority was considering a ban on trucks entering the city through the Lincoln Tunnel at certain times during the week.

"If I was working in Midtown Manhattan, and I had to pick my vacation, I'd take off," was how Joseph Morris put it, and he ought to know. Mr. Morris recently retired as police superintendent for the Port Authority and is working as a consultant for security at the convention.

Yet most commuters seemed more resigned than enraged at the four-day upheaval. Many of dozens of travelers interviewed said they had been lucky enough to work New York out of their plans for that part of the summer - either by taking vacation or working at home. The less fortunate are desperately trying to persuade their bosses to give them time off. In response, some companies have begun to make plans to disperse workers to points outside New York or house them in hotels in the city.

And then there are the truly unfortunate souls who will have to slog through the superheated streets of Manhattan and somehow make it to their jobs that week as they dodge barricades as well as sniffing dogs and snarling protesters.

"Lucky me," sighed Chris Donaldson, a transportation manager for Metro-North Railroad, "I have to come to work." On a recent evening he had planted himself in a stuffy sub-basement of Pennsylvania Station, and peered at a wall of television monitors along with about a dozen others, all waiting to learn which track their train would be on.

Mr. Donaldson, 50, commutes to his job to New York every day from Philadelphia, yet he said he would brave the crowds and heightened security and somehow get to work, regardless of the conventioneers. "I'm still coming through here," he said. "I don't see why things would change."

But things stand to change a lot if what officials are saying is true.

At least 500,000 passengers (about 120,000 of which are New Jersey Transit riders; the rest are passengers on Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road) will pass underneath Madison Square Garden each day that week. Before entering Penn Station, every one of them will be inspected by people on duty 24 hours a day for the four days of the convention, said Steven G. Hughes, the Secret Service coordinator for the convention.

Mr. Hughes and other officials declined to provide details of the inspections, but they insisted that the trains would neither be stopped nor delayed and that the inspections would be conducted as the trains were moving. Each train, the officials added, will have some sort of law-enforcement presence, and bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol many of the trains.

"We're not looking to disrupt service," Mr. Hughes said. "That's the good thing, that we're not looking to disrupt any of the timetables."

'Business as Usual'

As Mr. Hughes put it, commuters should "go about their business as usual."

But transportation experts said that despite such assurances, the inspections could create a logjam.

"I would think that they'd have to slow down everything so much that the slowdown in and of itself would be a problem," said Alan E. Pisarski, a transportation consultant.

To Mr. Pisarski, the inspections will create their own security problems in Penn Station. "You'd have thousands of people milling around," he said. "It sounds like it would be a good time not to be in New York."

Many companies have already come to the same conclusion. A man who described himself only as K.P., a network engineer of South Asian descent, was waiting for his train back to New Jersey one recent evening. He said that his company, situated downtown, planned to move him and about 25 others from their office in New York to a satellite campus in New Jersey. In addition, he said, arrangements had been made for "a couple hundred" other employees to move to other points outside of New York for the week.

Despite the "business as usual" mantra, an incalculable number of New Jersey commuters have tried to change their plans, and for many it is a question of safety rather than annoyance.

"I won't come in at all that week," said Penny Strakhov of Bedminster, an interior designer who meets clients in the city.

Ms. Strakhov said she had been following the situation. "First, I learned close the station," she said. "Then not close the station. Then check all bags."

Finally, she said, the real lesson she learned was that Penn Station would be a place to be avoided. And she said she knew of many other commuters making similar plans - not that she was put off by all of the precautions. "I don't mind what they do for security," Ms. Strakhov said. "I'd rather be a little backed up than be blown up."

Louise Butler's train home had just been canceled. Mechanical failure or something, it didn't really matter. She leaned up against a tiled wall in Pennsylvania Station, bleary-eyed, her handbag resting around her feet. She then waited about 40 more minutes in the thick air of the sub-basement at the station just for the chance to board an Amtrak train for her two-hour ride to Wilmington, Del. So when someone started questioning her about the Republican National Convention, her face sagged and she simply shook her head.

"It's already unreliable," she said, referring to her Amtrak train, "let alone if you have a terrorism situation. So I'd rather just bow out."

In the last few months, Ms. Butler, who works in global markets for the beauty industry, said she had made it her business to ask security and transit workers at the station what they anticipated during the convention. It has not been reassuring. They have told her to expect huge delays.

"They know I'll be sitting on the train for eight hours," she said, adding that she had been told by these same people that "it's best not to put yourself in a situation where you're stuck in the tunnel."

For her, these warnings were enough. "I'm choosing not to commute that week," she said, and her employer has agreed with her.

Some Won't Work

Erica Romany of New Providence is a Republican who has hopes of going to the convention, though she will probably try to avoid working in the city that week. Ms. Romany, 33, an account manager for Bloomberg L. P., said she was doing it "more for safety than annoyance."

"If there's going to be a target," she said, "this is it."

She then rolled her eyes upward to the fluorescent lighting at the station and spoke of the man the Republicans plan to nominate for president. "I don't want to be down here if he's up there," she said.

Others who can't avoid the city that week have begun thinking of alternate routes.

"Maybe I'll go into Hoboken and take the PATH train," said Easter Edwards, a health care employee from Maplewood who works on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan - referring to the route she took before Midtown Direct service to Penn Station was instituted in 1996.

The Alternatives

Port Authority officials realize that many rail commuters might take this alternate route, and the agency is considering tightening the schedule and adding trains, said Mr. Ciavolella, the Port Authority police spokesman. "I know they're looking at it," he said.

Al Miller, 55, of Somerset, an operations manager for a financial company, put it this way: "I'm not overly concerned, but I'm not overly blasé, because it's going to cause problems for any commuter for those days."

Mr. Miller said he had seriously considered getting up early and driving in, but dismissed the idea after he gave it more thought. "Parking is prohibitive," he said, "and then I realized it'll be just as bad."

Just as there are those who are undecided about the presidential contest, there are commuters who have not given very much thought to how to meet the challenge of entering and leaving Manhattan that week. "I haven't thought about it," acknowledged Ray Kogen, 51, of Red Bank, who betrayed a little embarrassment.

Mr. Kogen, a vice president for an insurance company, said he thought he might be able to take a ferry to his job at Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, though he was not clear on the specifics.

"I don't really have a choice," he said.

Eric Eschenauer, 27, of Northport, N.Y., and a co-worker, Anthony Rubino, both dressed in khakis and blue oxford shirts, discussed their plans on a recent weekday. Mr. Eschenauer said that he was going to Aruba that week, at least in part because of the convention. But then he said, "It wasn't a big factor."

"He's lying," said Mr. Rubino, 42, of Westfield. "We're partners. If he's not here I have to be."

Mr. Rubino, who conceded that he had grown weary of New Jersey Transit even in the best of times, said he was not sure how he would get into the city during convention week.

He has thought of a few different ways to get into town without the train. Maybe he'll drive to Jersey City, park and take a ferry. Or take the PATH.

"There's enough delays normally," he said.

For the convention, he said he anticipated the worst: "It'll be a nuthouse."


Court the Protest Economy


MAYOR BLOOMBERG clearly went to great lengths to lure the Republican National Convention to New York City, and now he's busy making sure the convention-goers have a great time once they arrive, offering them special performances of Broadway shows, fancy parties sponsored by Wall Street firms and more.

Mr. Bloomberg justifies the effort and expense he's dedicated to the convention - at least in part - by saying that New York will reap major economic and public relations benefits by playing host to the Republicans. But what about the economic benefits that will accrue thanks to the one million protesters who are expected to visit New York City to demonstrate?

Even if you add the 15,000 journalists who will be swarming around the Republican convention to the 13,000 convention-goers - and, for good measure, throw in 50,000 stray lobbyists and vendors selling talking Ann Coulter dolls - the protesters will outnumber and may well outspend the Republicans and their entourage.

Look at the numbers. Protest organizations are chartering buses and mobilizing people around the country to come to New York. If 500,000 out-of-staters visit for one night - a reasonable number in light of past demonstrations - they could easily drop a total of $150 million or more.

Wait a minute, you say, they are a ragtag bunch with no cash to pump into the local economy. Not so. Protesters increasingly fall into the aging boomer demographic. They have well-paying jobs, houses, 401(k)'s - and credit cards.

Even if half the protesters sleep on floors, that leaves more than 250,000 staying in area hotels, where they will spend more than $50 million.

And how do you thank someone if you stay on their floor? You take them out to dinner after a day of all-American protesting. And before dinner, why not a Broadway (or Off Broadway) show or a visit to the Met or even a poetry slam? Or, as a thank-you, you might buy a gift for your host and for loved ones back home. And you might buy a thing or two for yourself. The protesters - poor and wealthy ones combined - could spend $100 million on this stuff and other incidentals. Despite their spending potential, what do the protesters get in the way of wooing? They can't even get a permit to congregate in Central Park and exercise their First Amendment rights of free speech because City Hall is worried about the lawns!

Last month, Mr. Bloomberg made a good start by issuing some permits to protest groups. But if he truly had the interests of New Yorkers in mind, he would immediately start a major marketing campaign, encouraging protesters from across America to demonstrate at the Republican convention. This campaign would emphasize that protesters are welcome in New York - and that they'll have a good time and be kept safe. As a sign of his commitment, Mr. Bloomberg should ensure that the demonstrators be given access to a prime venue, like Central Park, for their big event.

If protesters were properly invited and assured of a safe place to protest, who knows how many would come? Two million? Three million? This could translate into a billion dollars or more for the city.

As a former businessman, the mayor should understand that cash-carrying people are cash-carrying people, even if they don't like President Bush. So, Mr. Bloomberg, roll out the red carpet to protesters.

Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's, is president of TrueMajorityACTION and author of "50 Ways You Can Show George the Door in 2004."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 5th, 2004, 07:39 PM
July 5, 2004

"I Love NY" Logo Creator Plans Protest At Republican Convention


The man who created the "I Love New York" logo is organizing a protest at this summer's Republican National Convention.

World-renowned designer Milton Glaser wants New Yorkers to "light up the sky" as a silent protest against George W. Bush. Glaser is telling people to use flashlights, candles and light sticks from dusk to dawn on the first night of the convention, August 30th.

On his website, Glaser says the protest is a way for New Yorkers to show dissatisfaction with current leadership in a non-confrontational way.

The GOP National Convention is being held from August 30th to September 2nd at Madison Square Garden.

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News

July 5th, 2004, 09:44 PM
After months of insisting the convention would barely be noticed by ordinary New Yorkers, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced last week that 13 blocks of Seventh Avenue, including an area near Madison Square Garden, would be blocked off as the delegates meet. Further, two exits from Penn Station, on the Eighth Avenue side, will be sealed off, sending commuters through the Seventh Avenue exit and into the pedestrian mall on 32nd Street.

Yesterday, during the mayor's weekly radio program, the host, John Gambling, told Mr. Bloomberg that there had been some grumbling around these closings.

"Grumbling?" the mayor said, seeming surprised. When Mr. Gambling pressed the issue, Mr. Bloomberg snapped: "Come on! Get a life! If you have to go out one exit versus another exit for one day it's not a big deal." He added that New Yorkers should feel lucky that their subways are clean, affordable and functional.

Ditto on traffic jams. "Yes, it's annoying," said Mr. Bloomberg, whose cars are equipped with lights and sirens that can be used to skirt such urban nuisances. "You curse to yourself, like Mr. Cheney apparently did publicly," he added, elaborating: "It's not that big a deal! If we're going to have big events there will always be minor inconveniences."

Councilwoman Christine C. Quinn, a Democrat who represents the neighborhoods near Madison Square Garden, said the Republican mayor's remarks underscored her belief that he was "insensitive to the impact this is going to have on the average New Yorker."
Warning: That Gloomberg would say such a thing doesn't surprise me. I really don't think that this $3.4 billionaire sitting in Gracie Mansion does care too much about the common folk. During these 3 or 4 days of the Convention the people (and especially commuters) of New York will have only two main entrances to use at Penn Station, and he tells people to 'get over it'? :oops:

July 6th, 2004, 01:26 AM
July 6, 2004

Accommodating the Protesters

It does not require extensive polling to predict that when the Republican convention comes to New York, there will be a lot of protesters. If the city wants to be the host of a convention — and Mayor Michael Bloomberg vigorously pursued this one — it has to give reasonable access to those with alternative views. The city has not been forthcoming in its offers of protest sites, and it has been unduly dismissive of the free-expression interests at stake. It should do a better job of coming up with an acceptable site for the protesters.

For well over a year, a group called United for Peace and Justice has been seeking a Central Park permit for a protest that it expects could draw 250,000 people. The city offered a park in Queens, hardly appropriate when the convention is in Manhattan. Now it is offering the West Side Highway, but the organizers are understandably unhappy. A highway is hardly a natural setting for a rally. Since the space is narrow, a "rally" there could end up being a three-mile string of people, many of them unable to see the stage or hear the speakers.

The mayor has acted as if demonstrators are an annoyance, to be shunted as far away as possible. Recently, he unfairly accused organizers of trying to gum up the negotiations in the interests of getting publicity. But New York City has a long and proud history of welcoming peaceful protests and political dissent. This tradition, and the First Amendment, cannot be tossed aside simply because a political convention has come to town.

Both sides should work harder to forge a compromise. When the city rejected a permit to use the Great Lawn in Central Park, saying that costly renovation had made the site too fragile to handle a protest, organizers said they would take the North Meadow, but the city rejected that location, too.

All of Central Park should not be off limits. The city should consider whether there are ways to make it accessible, while limiting damage. If the park isn't feasible, the city should do better than offering the highway. One alternative is Times Square, a central location with a history of accommodating crowds.

The city is already rolling out the red carpet for the Republicans, with an ad campaign urging New Yorkers to "make nice" to the delegates. People who want to take exception to Republican policies are also a legitimate part of convention week, and the city needs to make nice to them, too.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 7th, 2004, 01:32 AM
July 7, 2004

The War Over Central Park Is Turning Cultural


The battle over the right to stage protests in Central Park during the Republican National Convention racheted up a notch yesterday, as civil libertarians accused the city of favoring high culture over political expression and the parks commissioner countered that some events were just not horticulturally correct.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Christopher Dunn, its associate legal director, complained in a letter to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that the city appeared to be closing Central Park to political rallies, even beyond the end of the convention. The letter says that at a meeting with city officials on June 18, lawyers from the Civil Liberties Union, representing a group seeking to hold a 50,000-person rally on the Great Lawn, were told that both the Great Lawn and the North Meadow were now off limits to political rallies because of concerns over potential damage to the grass.

At the same meeting, the letter states, Parks and Recreation Department officials said the Metropolitan Opera had recently staged a performance of "Madame Butterfly" at the Great Lawn that was attended by 40,000 people.

"It is wrong and unlawful to single out protest activity for exclusion from Central Park," the letter reads. "Beyond the discriminatory treatment of political rallies, the suggestion that concerns about damage to the grass can justify the closing of Central Park to political rallies raises fundamental questions about the use of public space in New York."

But Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, sees the matter differently. Pointing out that the agency had so far granted eight permits for protests in city parks during the convention, including one at the band shell in Central Park, he argued that the use of the park as a gathering spot for large political activities was an anomaly in the park's long history.

"There's an idea being circulated that Central Park has been used as a gathering place for large political events," Mr. Benepe said. "But up until the 1960's, you couldn't even walk on the grass in the park." Events like the "be-ins" of the 1960's and the nuclear weapons protests of the 1980's "corresponded with a time when the park was in very bad shape," he added, and had helped turn the Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn into a great dust bowl.

Holding rallies on grassy lawns poses other risks, he said, like the chance of rain. Concerts either have rain dates or are canceled if the ground is wet for their planned performances, but crowds come to rallies rain or shine. A field trampled by a huge crowd on a rainy day would need resodding, which would close the field for a year. And, he added, at events like opera and classical music concerts, people arrive slowly and disperse over a large area, rather than concentrate in one spot.

For Mr. Dunn, however, the issue is one of numbers and fair access. "Fifty thousand people standing on the Great Lawn listening to people on a stage is the same whether they listen to political speeches or the Metropolitan Opera," he said. "A 175-pound person standing on the grass is a 175-person standing on the grass."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 7th, 2004, 11:34 AM

July 7, 2004

Like other New Yorkers, Rudy Giuliani has favorite restaurants — and he has restaurants where he sends out-of-towners to eat.

Republican convention organizers are offering thousands of delegates who will visit the city for the event next month a Web page listing the former mayor's "Top 10 Restaurants."

They're mostly popular, well-known places — like Le Cirque 2000 in Midtown, which Giuliani calls "a one-of-a-kind New York experience," and Peter Luger's Steakhouse in Brooklyn — "If you love steak, you'll love Peter [Luger's]."

But off the list, found at 2004nycgop.org, are some eateries well-known as favorite Giuliani haunts.

Like Café Nosidam, an Italian bistro on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, where the kitchen has been reported to whip up Giuliani's off-the-menu requests.

Sam Syed, manager at Café Nosidam, said he didn't know how Giuliani came up with his top 10 list — and was puzzled as to why his eatery wasn't on it.

Also missing is Osso Bucco, said to be a favorite of Giuliani's wife, Judi; and Tony's DiNapoli, a popular Italian restaurant on Second Avenue.

His list is heavy on Italian suggestions. One is Da Nico, which Giuliani's GOP list calls "the best of the best in Little Italy."

Giuliani also likes Goodfellas Brick Oven Pizza, a burgeoning chain which has three locations in Staten Island, one in Brooklyn and seven in other cities.

Fresco, a Midtown Italian restaurant, made the GOP list because its owners "make you feel like one of their own."

Gargiulo's, in Coney Island, offers "authentic Italian." And Frank's, in the Meatpacking District, is "a long time favorite."

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 7th, 2004, 11:37 AM

July 7, 2004

Angry cops, firefighters and teachers are planning a round-the-clock picket at Madison Square Garden — and plan to ask other union members not to cross the line — in a move that could massively disrupt preparations for the Republican National Convention.

Fuming over failed wage and benefit negotiations with City Hall, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Uniformed Firefighters Association and United Federation of Teachers are setting up an "informational picket" around the Garden indefinitely beginning July 19, when the city hands over the site to GOP organizers.

"Many Republicans who are coming to town have no idea that the heroes of Sept. 11 don't have a contract and have been working without one for two years," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "I think most Americans will find that outrageous."

They're asking other labor unions to join them.

"We certainly know many union members and many elected officials won't cross picket lines," said Al O'Leary of the PBA. "[But] we'll have our pickets there and ask people to consider what they should do."

Cassidy said organizers haven't yet decided whether to ask convention-goers to honor the picket.

Officials from several other unions said they weren't yet aware of the plan.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 7th, 2004, 11:40 AM
"Many Republicans who are coming to town have no idea that the heroes of Sept. 11 don't have a contract and have been working without one for two years," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association."

Yeah Yeah... So they have no idea. Sure and when they leave the city they still won't have any idea. :roll:

July 7th, 2004, 11:44 AM

July 7, 2004

Someone swiped an e-mail list of volunteers for the Republican National Convention, then advised them to contact Internet hate sites that disparage blacks, Jews and gays, The Post has learned.

Officials said that the e-mail addresses were stolen at the first training session for about 100 volunteers, in mid-June at Baruch College.

Since then, bogus "Dear RNC Volunteers" e-mails have been sent to at least 21 volunteers, saying the New York Host Committee was evaluating their applications and advising that they "update any changes in your availability at one of the following addresses."

The addresses included the genuine one of the host committee — nyc2004.org — and three others tied to white nationalists, gay bashers and a site describing itself as "Jew Watch."

Outraged officials said they consider the e-mails a serious crime.

"We're treating it as a hate crime," said Paul Elliott, a spokesman for the host committee.

"The host committee is in the process of apologizing to the New Yorkers who've been harassed."

"It's been turned over to the NYPD Computer Crimes Squad," said Paul Browne, the department's top spokesman.

Some recipients of the e-mails also complained to AOL and other Internet service providers and requested the address of the sender.

With former Mayor Ed Koch serving as chairman of the recruitment drive, the host committee has signed up more than 10,000 volunteers to work at the convention.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 7th, 2004, 02:07 PM


RNC Temporary Bridge (under construction):


July 7th, 2004, 10:34 PM
July 8, 2004

12 Times the Private Cash at Conventions, Data Say


WASHINGTON, July 7 - The host committees for the Republican and Democratic conventions this year will draw 12 times the private contributions - almost $104 million - than they did a dozen years ago, according to a study released Wednesday.

The report, compiled by the Campaign Finance Institute, argues that several decisions by the Federal Election Commission over the last decade have allowed private, unregulated money to dominate the financing of conventions.

The study shows that the New York City Host Committee is collecting at least $64 million in unrestricted cash from private donors for the Republican National Convention, and that in 1992 the comparable figure was $2.2 million.

Boston 2004, the Democratic host committee, is collecting at least $39.5 million in such money from private donors for the Democratic National Convention, and in 1992 the comparable figure was $6.2 million, according to the report.

This huge infusion of unregulated cash suggests that donors are finding ways around the restrictions in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which was passed in 2002 and largely upheld by the Supreme Court last year, the report says.

That law banned political parties and candidates from collecting so-called soft money, the unrestricted donations from companies, labor unions and wealthy donors that had become a source of controversy during the 1990's.

Many of the old soft-money donors to both parties are still here, said Steve Weissman, associate director for the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan group in Washington. "This has become a political A.T.M. machine for the parties," he said.

The report attributes the increase of private, unregulated donations to changes that the Federal Election Commission made in 1994 and 2003 that loosened and eventually eliminated restrictions on who can make donations to such committees.

Robert Biersack, an election commission spokesman, declined to comment on the report's findings.

The report goes on to say that the commission allowed the host committees to veer away from their original purpose as booster organizations to promote business and civic participation in the host cities.

Once financed by local companies, labor unions and individuals, the conventions are now a magnet for major corporations and other large donors from across the nation capable of contributing millions, the report says.

Officials representing the host committees in Boston and New York dismissed the contention that the committees had strayed from their original mission.

Kevin Sheekey, president of the New York City committee, noted that the committees were barred from engaging in partisan activities because of their status as tax-exempt organizations.

"There is a clear civic purpose in what host committees do," Mr. Sheekey said. "This convention is of great importance to New York City and is the anchor of our economic turnaround this summer."

After drawing information from various contracts the host committees signed with vendors, the report says the committees now spend much of their money to promote the political spectacle rather than the cities the conventions are held in.

The report says, for example, that the New York committee is spending $33.8 million on designing and constructing the convention set, as well as on other production costs associated with the political convention itself.

Mr. Weissman also noted that almost $10 million was set aside to pay for computer and telecommunication systems that he said were going to be operated by the Republican Party convention committee.

"The upsurging private contributions have been overwhelmingly devoted to financing convention expenses rather than to promote the host city," the report says.

The report also makes it clear that the conventions remain one of the last avenues for corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to inject unlimited soft money contributions into the system.

The result is that private money has grown to represent about 61 cents of every dollar raised for the conventions this year, up from 14 cents in 1992, and the number of major contributors has grown substantially.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 9th, 2004, 09:58 AM
July 9, 2004

Take New York's Party Scene. Add the Grand Old Party. Stir.


The name of the candidate the Republican Party will nominate at its convention this summer is no surprise. But many delegates are already placing bets on what will be more fun - taking in the skyline with the governor of California during a late-night party on Ellis Island or getting tipsy with the New York delegation next to a wax sculpture of Derek Jeter.

From the moment that the national news media arrive on Saturday, Aug. 28, until the convention closes on Thursday, Sept. 2, New York City will be teeming with parties large (a major shindig at Cipriani at the end of the convention) and small (a private dinner in the wine cellar at the "21" Club).

Some will be musically themed - like a luncheon celebrating the late Johnny Cash, to be held at Sotheby's. And others will have an ethnic slant, like Gov. George E. Pataki's "Los Amigos" party for 2,000 people at the Copacabana.

There will be events orchestrated by or for particular state delegations, donors or deep-pocketed corporations, including two that give invitation-holders a chance to schmooze with elected officials at the Temple of Dendur.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose corporate parties are the stuff of legend, rarely lets an chance to be the host of a party pass him by, and this convention will be no exception.

But Mr. Bloomberg's choice of cocktail parties reflects the role he plays in his political party, embracing the renegade corner of the tent. Of the three parties he plans to give, one will be for a gay Republican group that has yet to endorse President Bush, and another will be for Republicans who favor abortion rights.

Another reception, which will be held at Gracie Mansion in conjunction with Univision, will honor the Latino Congressional Caucus.

"Mayor Bloomberg has supported and worked with these groups in the past," said his press secretary, Edward Skyler, "and he's proud to be hosting these events during the convention."

In numerous cases, groups have booked parties under a contractual agreement that the sites not disclose that they are the chosen locations. Many groups fear demonstrations - indeed, protest groups have been divulging information about the partying habits of the biggest donors - or cite security concerns.

A spokeswoman for Madame Tussaud's, Melissa Horacek, said the wax museum was told by the convention officials that "all events were to be kept confidential" by the museum, even if others disclose information.

Leonardo Alcivar, the press secretary for the convention, would not comment on his discussions with party sites, but he did say that "security for all events is the convention's paramount concern."

Mayor Bloomberg's party for the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay Republican organization, will be held in Bryant Park on Sunday, Aug. 29, the day before the convention begins.

"The mayor's inclusive message regarding gay and lesbian Americans is perceived outside of New York as being a national role model," said Patrick C. Guerriero, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Governor Pataki, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and others will be honored at the party.

On Tuesday night, the mayor will be the host of a party at the Sky Club restaurant for the Republican Majority for Choice, a group that supports abortion rights, thus opposing President Bush. Guests should expect cocktails, a great view, and Bo Derek.

Gracie Mansion, which is often used to accommodate any number of groups, will also be the site of a barbecue for Hispanic members of Congress and other guests on Saturday.

Because it is New York, because it is a convention, because they can, every group sponsoring a party wants its event to be considered the hottest ticket in town. During any other night in New York, that would be an event with no sign on the door, with plenty of P's - Prada, pouters, possibly Paris - located inside.

But this particular week, the draw is real estate, like the new Time Warner building, which is the site of host committee's welcoming party for the news media on Saturday, or Ellis Island, where Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican hotshot, is the nominal host of a welcoming party for New Yorkers and Californians with Governor Pataki on Sunday night. (Will Mr. Schwarzenegger show up? His people are not talking.)

Convention officials expect hundreds of parties, ranging from small soirees to giant bashes. "There is no question that 100 times more money is spent on unofficial parties than on official events," said Kevin Sheekey, president of the convention's host committee. "I think the parties will be a great success."

Many groups will be sated by taking in New York's smaller pleasures, like its ethnic restaurants outside Manhattan, or its less-celebrated sights. "We're still trying to find some quirkies," said Jan Larimer, chairwoman of the Wyoming delegation. Her small group of roughly 100 guests will hit the "21" Club, but she also has her eye on Indian food in Jackson Heights.

"We are really trying to not just do the same thing every one else is doing," Ms. Larimer said. "We have quite a few who have never been to New York City, and we want them to get a real feel for it."

Nailing down the exact locations and times of many convention parties is akin to finding the latest underground rave.

"We have determined it is most appropriate to maintain a low profile within the convention out of consideration for our clients," said Dan Searby, senior vice president of Restaurant Associates, which runs several restaurants and will cater not-so-secret events at the Metropolitan Museum and other places.

The publisher of The New York Times refused to tell a Times reporter where its Monday night party would be. "We are hosting a cocktail party at an undisclosed location in Manhattan and inviting New Yorkers from all walks of life - business, government, entertainment, media, law," said the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., in an e-mail message. Someone outside the paper said the party would be held at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Many state branches of the Republican Party, including New York's, will have cocktail parties at Madame Tussaud's. According to the museum's voice mail system, partygoers can pretend to play baseball with Mr. Jeter or "do the weather" with Al Roker.

For those who are not inclined to party with wax statuary, or to attend any G.O.P. party, the city will still have a distinctly non-Republican nightlife.

"I'm certain my calendar will be filled every night with club events and house parties celebrating our joint derision of the convention," said Michael Musto, nightlife columnist at The Village Voice. "I'm deeply grateful to the Republicans for giving me a whole new social life."


Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 9th, 2004, 10:39 AM
Drilling for turmoil

July 9, 2004

The Republican National Convention will challenge the city's emergency procedures like no other event before it, and one company has been busy test-driving the city's preparedness.

Community Research Associates, which was hired by the Department of Homeland Security to work with local and federal enforcement agencies preparing for the convention, has gone through two emergency drills and is planning its third and largest for the week of Aug. 8.

"It won't be visible to the public," says Kyle Olson, a vice president at the Alexandria, Va.-based firm. But, he adds, the simulated events, which he would not elaborate on, will cause officials "to break into a sweat."

Mr. Olson expects several hundred police officers, firefighters, FBI and secret service agents, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey officials and others to participate in this final test before the convention begins on Aug. 30. The idea, he says, is to evaluate the agencies' ability to communicate with one another during an emergency.

© Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc.

July 9th, 2004, 10:43 AM

July 9, 2004

Thousands of commuters who take NJ Transit trains directly to Manhattan will be forced to go to Hoboken and transfer to PATH trains during the GOP convention, officials said yesterday.

The plan would be to divert NJ Transit's 11,000 daily commuters who usually take the Midtown Direct service into Penn Station and have them transfer at Hoboken.

Passengers would be able to take the PATH to the 33rd Street station on Sixth Avenue, a block away from Penn Station.

Manhattan-bound riders could also opt to take a ferry once they get off in Hoboken.

Six of eight entrances at Penn Station will be closed during the Republican National Convention because of security concerns.

More than half a million commuters use Penn Station daily.

A final plan is expected to be adopted over the next few weeks.

The convention will be held at Madison Square Garden, upstairs from Penn Station, between Aug. 30 and Sept. 2.

Riders said the diversion could tack an hour onto their commutes.

"Changing trains is going to be a huge inconvenience and the PATH is a lot slower," said Nicholas Barnes, 34, who commutes into the city each day from Kearny.

Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak riders can also expect some delays during the convention after the NYPD said it plans to search every train before it enters the sprawling station.

Police and bomb-sniffing dogs will do sweeps of all commuter trains entering Manhattan.

Boston, which will host the Democratic confab at the end of this month, plans to close North Station and a part of Interstate 93 that borders the Fleet Center convention site.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 12th, 2004, 01:01 AM
City's RNC losers deserve boost

July 12, 2004

Only Mayor Michael Bloomberg could put it so flippantly. Facing a barrage of criticism that the Republican National Convention will make getting around the city virtually impossible, he recently assured New Yorkers, "If you don't live or work in the garment district, you won't even know that there's a convention in town."

Even if that's true, it is time for someone to stand up for the people who do work in the garment district, who haven't been given the consideration they deserve. It's clear that businesses there will bear the burden, while not benefiting from the $250 million economic bonanza the city is supposed to receive.

Start with the companies that occupy the area's many office buildings. While few are making public announcements, many firms will simply close their offices and declare a vacation week. Others are arranging for employees to work from home or from clients' offices. Only a few brave souls intend to actually try to get to work.

Then consider the restaurants and retailers in the vicinity of Convention Central, Madison Square Garden. The owners of these establishments originally thought that the convention could be a big boost, assuming that delegates and others would be walking to and from the Garden or checking out the neighborhood between sessions.

Instead, delegates will be bused directly from their hotels to the Garden via special traffic lanes. The security hassles and fears of terrorism will keep the rest of New Yorkers away. The merchants will also lose the business they would normally get from neighborhood office workers. The convention could prove as financially burdensome as last summer's blackout.

Most at risk are the fashion concerns in the garment center. While the rest of New York may be in the doldrums in August , designers are preparing at a feverish pace for the important fall shows at Bryant Park. Goods are being delivered, models are arriving at showrooms to be fitted, and all hands are at work making last-minute arrangements. Information on how people can get to their offices and how deliveries can be made during the convention remains scant.

It is not too late for the city to help. The mayor could make a commitment to give retail businesses in the area special marketing and promotional help to boost business this fall, in an effort to offset losses. He needs to immediately order the Police Department and economic development officials to work with the Fashion Center Business Improvement District to ensure that companies in the neighborhood will be able to operate during the week of the convention.

The steps are small, but could make a big difference.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

July 12th, 2004, 01:08 AM
RNC transportation bucks steered to a lucky few
Local bus and limousine companies are picking up a portion of the largesse

By Lisa Fickenscher
July 12, 2004

The Republican National Convention is a windfall for a small group of local transportation companies that are among the primary beneficiaries of the $250 million that the RNC is expected to pump into the economy.

"These companies are going to gorge themselves on the event," says Kevin White, director of production for Empire Force Events Inc., an event-planning firm that is working on a number of convention-related projects.

Among the most fortunate are New Jersey-based Coach USA and Academy Bus Inc., which have contracts with the RNC to shuttle some 4,853 delegates from their hotels to Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. In addition, Coach and Academy are providing buses to many of the parties after the official events at the Garden are over.

Delegates get discounts

"This is the biggest thing that Coach has been a part of in a long time," says Jeff Ferreri, director of charters and tours for the Northeast region at Coach. The company also owns Gray Line, which operates red double-decker buses in the city. Mr. Ferreri expects Gray Line to get a boost from the convention as well, because Coach will offer the delegates discounts to tool around the city in their off time.

Neither Coach nor Academy would disclose the financial terms of their contracts.

What's more, limousines are being snapped up to ferry the hundreds of prominent executives, members of congress, governors and other VIPs in town for the convention.

"We have never been booked to capacity at the end of the summer," says Tishwan Merritt, director of sales and marketing at TriStar Limousine, which already has reserved 80% of its fleet of 75 sedans, vans and luxury buses for that week.

While the bus companies have signed contracts to provide the so-called "GOP Liberty Express" shuttle service, limousine firms are making their own arrangements with state delegations and others. The RNC hired a Vienna, Va., consulting firm, Transportation Management Services Inc., to coordinate a transportation plan. But it is not recommending or signing up particular limousine firms, says Ray Martinez, transportation liaison to the host committee.

The enormity of the convention and its timing at the end of the summer, when business usually slows down, is buoying bottom lines-but also stretching workforces thin. Academy, which declined to comment for this story, is leasing 20 buses from rival Peter Pan Bus Lines each day of the convention. The latter company, based in Massachusetts, is handling the transportation needs for the Democratic National Convention in Boston later this month.

Coach is committing some 100 buses to the RNC and is planning to get some equipment and drivers from its upstate New York operations.

Of course, not everyone is eager to get a piece of the convention business or to deal with the massive gridlock that's expected in midtown. Bob Verdi, chief executive of Manhattan-based Bermuda Limousine International, says his company was burned by previous political events that left town with unpaid bills.

Getting stars to work

Others are concerned about street closures affecting their abilities to serve regular clients. "We drive Broadway stars to and from their shows," says Jeff Rose, owner of Manhattan-based Attitude New York. "I'm looking to take care of my regulars."

Still, the convention is lifting a lot of companies out of the economic doldrums. TriStar's Ms. Merritt says, "The past couple of years, we have been struggling to get business."

"Compared with last year, this August will be much better," says Frank Gallo, director of sales at Hub Connection. Half of its 300 sedans are already spoken for during that week.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

July 12th, 2004, 01:14 AM
July 12, 2004

Antiwar Group Says Its Ad Is Rejected


The first ad that Project Billboard says a Clear Channel subsidiary rejected.

The version with a bomb was rejected, both sides say, but Clear Channel says that it accepted the later version, with a dove.

A group of antiwar advocates is accusing Clear Channel Communications, one of the nation's largest media companies, with close ties to national Republicans, of preventing the group from displaying a Times Square billboard critical of the war in Iraq.

The billboard - an image of a red, white and blue bomb with the words "Democracy Is Best Taught by Example, Not by War" - was supposed to go up next month, the antiwar group said, and it was to be in place when Republicans from across the country gathered in New York City to nominate President Bush for a second term.

But members of the group, Project Billboard, contend that Clear Channel backed out of a leasing agreement last month that the two had reached in December for the billboard site, on the Marriott Marquis Hotel at Broadway and 45th Street.

A Project Billboard spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said the group planned to file a lawsuit today in federal court in Manhattan charging Clear Channel with breach of contract and asking it to live up to what the group said were the terms of the deal.

Last night, the president and chief executive of Clear Channel, Paul Meyer, said the company had objected to the group's use of "the bomb imagery" in the proposed billboard. Mr. Meyer said Clear Channel had accepted a billboard that would replace the bomb with a dove. However, he said, any billboard at the site required the approval of the Marriott Marquis management, which he said also objected to the bomb.

"We have no political agenda," Mr. Meyer said. "It's the bomb imagery we objected to."

A spokeswoman for the hotel, Kathleen Duffy, said that the management considered the ad with the bomb "inappropriate," but that it had not seen the version with the dove.

Told of Mr. Meyer's comments, Mr. Wolfson said that earlier, Clear Channel had rejected the ad with the dove as well as the one with the bomb, demanding that the words be changed, too. "It's news to us, and not reflected in any prior communications between Clear Channel and Project Billboard," Mr. Wolfson said last night. "This contradicts Clear Channel's demand that the copy be changed."

The dispute had led members of the antiwar group to accuse Clear Channel of censorship.

"I think the idea that political advertising is banned from some part of New York City would be repellent to New Yorkers," Mr. Wolfson said. "I guess we can have a war, but we can't talk about it."

This is not the first time that Clear Channel, one of the nation's largest owners of radio stations, has found itself in the middle of a debate over free speech and censorship.

The company has been accused of using its radio stations to rally support for the war in Iraq, while trying to silence musicians who oppose it.

The company's critics point out, for instance, that some Clear Channel country music stations stopped playing the songs of the Dixie Chicks last year after the group's lead singer, Natalie Maines, told fans during a London concert, "We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

The company's critics also point out that the Federal Communications Commission is considering regulations that would make it easier for companies like Clear Channel to own more television and radio stations.

But even some of its fiercest critics agree that some claims against Clear Channel are overstated. As it turns out, for example, its stations were only sporadically involved in a boycott against the Dixie Chicks.

Part of what may be fueling speculation about the company's motives is the close relationship that its executives have with the Republican Party and the Bush administration. In the 2000 and 2002 election cycles, for instance, the company and its officials donated slightly more than $300,000 in unregulated money, almost all of it to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization in Washington that monitors political contributions.

In addition, Tom Hicks, the Texas Rangers' owner who has longtime ties to President Bush, is a top executive at Clear Channel.

Project Billboard's representatives said the contract they signed in December with Spectacolor, a division of Clear Channel, required the antiwar group to pay $368,000 to use the billboard space from Aug. 2 through Nov. 2, Election Day.

But they said Spectacolor began balking after company officials saw the ad that included the image of the bomb. The group then sent a second ad, which replaced the bomb with a red, white and blue dove accompanied by the same words, but Mr. Wolfson said that was also rejected.

A lawyer for Project Billboard, Doug Curtis, said that at one point Clear Channel suggested that the group use a less provocative billboard ad, one with the image of a little girl waving a flag accompanied by the words, "Democracy is best taught by example."

Mr. Curtis said that earlier this month, a vice president for marketing for Spectacolor and Clear Channel, Barry Kula, sent the group an e-mail message that said, in part, "We hope you will appreciate that New York City has endured a horrific attack and businesses in this area that serve a wide array of clientele are extremely sensitive to references to war."

Project Billboard's director, Deborah Rappaport, indicated that the reaction of Clear Channel executives was not a complete surprise given what she described as its poor record on free expression. "This is not the first time," she said. "They try to suppress speech with which they don't agree."

The dispute between Clear Channel and the antiwar group drew a mixed reaction yesterday from visitors in Times Square.

When shown a printed copy of the antiwar ads that Clear Channel is said to have rejected, Nene Ofuatey-Kodjoe, 36, of Stamford, Conn., became visibly upset. "Clear Channel should not have a position one way or another about what they put up there as long as it's not obscene," he said.

He also scoffed at the alternative billboard proposed by Clear Channel, with a little girl waving the flag. "All the fence-sitting is what has gotten us to where we are today," he said. "You have got to take a stand."

Terry and Jim Baugh, two Californians strolling north on Seventh Avenue, said the image of the bomb bordered on treason. "That looks like they're trying to blow up America," said Mrs. Baugh, 59, a retired dental hygienist.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 12th, 2004, 01:48 AM
July 12, 2004

Wanted: A Place to Protest

To the Editor:

Re "Accommodating the Protesters" (editorial, July 6):

On June 4, United for Peace and Justice requested a permit for a rally on the Great Lawn in Central Park. That was denied and we then suggested the park's North Meadow. That has been denied. We have suggested the possibility of using both the Great Lawn and the North Meadow, if the concern is that our numbers will be too large for either one of these sites.

We have also suggested Times Square and Third Avenue as possible rally locations. The Parks Department and the Police Department have rejected all of the five proposals we have made. In addition, our request for a meeting with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has been turned down.

We remain committed to the negotiations with city officials and are open to reasonable suggestions for the location of our Aug. 29 rally against the Bush agenda.

New York, July 6, 2004
The writer is national coordinator, United for Peace and Justice.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 12th, 2004, 03:05 AM
Gotham Gazette - http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/transportation/20040712/16/1032

How Disruptive Will The Convention Be?

by Bruce Schaller

July 07, 2004

How easily can New York absorb 50,000 delegates, dignitaries and press representatives for the Republican National Convention being held from August 30 to September 2 in Madison Square Garden?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Democrat-turned-Republican who enticed the Republicans to hold their national political convention in this Democratic stronghold, says, "The disruption will be a little bit annoying, but minimal." The mayor declared that, "If you don't live or work in the garment district, you won't even know that there's a convention in town."

Clearly, the mayor has a good point. My own experience during the 1992 Democratic National Convention was that from working on 42 Street, the only difference was the bright lights barely visible eight blocks to the south. Nevertheless, a lot of people do in fact work or live near Madison Square Garden, including 600,000 people who use Penn Station every day.

Perhaps the most visible disruption will occur for commuters exiting and entering Penn Station, which is buried under the Garden, during rush hour. Only two exits at the station, which serves Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and several subway lines, will remain open. These are the main entrance on Seventh Avenue and the LIRR entrance on 34 Street. Station and subway entrances that are midblock between Seventh and Eighth Avenues and on Eighth Avenue will be closed for security reasons.

Penn Station exit closures mean that commuters will have to squeeze into two exits that are already jam packed at rush hour. The New York Times reported that railroad officials counted current passenger flows and found that two-thirds of Penn Station users already use the Seventh Avenue and 34 Street exits and the rest used the six exits that will be closed. Since ridership is normally down 10 percent in August, this means that the two exits will have to accommodate about 33 percent more commuters than normal. Given the normal level of crowding, that will be a challenge.

New Yorkers are famously adaptable and perhaps there will be less of a problem than these numbers suggest. Already, some commuters are planning their vacations to coincide with the convention. Others may avoid Penn Station by deboarding the LIRR in Queens and taking the subway into Manhattan. NJ Transit passenger flows will be lessened since Midtown Direct rail lines will be diverted to Hoboken during the convention, affecting 11,000 weekday rush hour commuters.

Subway and bus riders will also be affected. Bus lines on Seventh and Eighth Avenues will be diverted for the 13 hours that the convention is in session, primarily in the evening. Effects on subway service remain to be seen. Preliminary plans call for police officers accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs and hand-held chemical detection devices to sweep subways and trains one stop before they reach Penn Station during the hours of the convention. The police will be checking for suspicious packages and terror suspects, according to Newsday (http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/nyc-gop0626,0,493248.story?coll=ny-nynews-headlines). Thorough checks could substantially delay train service on both the subway and commuter trains, which perform a delicate and carefully timed dance to get into and out of Penn Station as quickly as possible.

And finally, what about transportation for convention delegates and the press? They will have more choices than the typical New Yorker. The Republicans plan to use 200 buses to shuttle delegates, dignitaries and reporters to and from Manhattan hotels. Buses will be whisked into Penn Station on specially coned-off lanes. But the bus is not the only option. Corporate sponsors are donating MetroCards to be given to each delegate. In addition, most of the hotels are in Midtown, within walking distance of the convention. Delegates' choice of bus, subway and walking is much like the choice locals make every day. How Republicans choose will depend partly on how much of a New York experience they want to have during their stay in the city.

Bruce Schaller is head of Schaller Consulting, which provides research and analysis about transportation, and is also a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University.

July 12th, 2004, 05:39 PM
5,500 cops to flood commuter lines during GOP convention

By Thomas Frank
Staff Writer

July 11, 2004, 5:51 PM EDT

Security planners for the upcoming political conventions are highly concerned about a train bombing and are taking unprecedented steps to safeguard subway and commuter lines in host cities New York and Boston.

Lethal terrorist train bombings in Madrid and Moscow this year have prompted New York City to nearly double the number of police deployed for the Republican National Convention from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden.

"The recent bombings," city officials wrote in an internal memo, "have caused increased concern that during the Republican National Convention, New York City may become an even more attractive target for a similar attack."

Under revised plans, 5,500 police will flood the subway system, commuter trains and Penn Station, according to the memo, which gives the first precise description of police deployment. The NYPD originally planned to have 6,500 police patrol the Garden, hotels, bridges and tunnels, protest sites and points of interest for delegates, the memo states.

The 12,000 police to be deployed represent one-third of the department.

When Democrats convene in Boston's FleetCenter July 26-29, officials will close North Station, the city's largest subway and rail terminal, which abuts the center.

Passengers on subways running under the FleetCenter will be barred from carrying anything larger than a briefcase or pocketbook. On other subway lines, large items will be permitted during convention week but searched in all cases.

No plans have been announced to search New York subway riders' belongings, but a transit official said, "If you've got a big box, we'll check it out." Police also will board each Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit and Amtrak train at the stop immediately before Penn Station and search it with bomb-sniffing dogs.

The measures come as government officials warn that al-Qaida is planning an attack to disrupt the November election, possibly modeled after the March bombing by al-Qaida associates of four commuter trains in Madrid that killed 190 people. Three days later, Spanish voters ousted the party that had supported the Iraq war.

"There is intelligence that indicates that they are looking at various transportations systems," a senior intelligence official said of al-Qaida's plans for attacking in the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said, "Clearly, given the particular \[convention\] venues that have been selected and the proximity to railroad and mass transit, that is a concern. But we feel we can adequately address it."

Much of the security in New York and Boston is directed at protecting the convention sites -- a strategy that experts say should deter al-Qaida attackers, who prefer few barriers and big surprises, but may simply steer them elsewhere.

"I quite frankly am not as concerned about a terrorist incident during the [Republican] convention as I am about an incident in the weeks leading up to it," said Jerome Hauer, former director of New York City's emergency management office. "If terrorists do something before the convention, you could have a chilling effect on people coming into town."

Randall Larsen, CEO of Homeland Security Associates, a Virginia consulting firm, doubts terrorists would try to penetrate convention security.

"But the idea of doing something to a soft target at the same time that the conventions were going on would be much more lucrative," he said. "You'd have a much higher probability of success, and the success would have the same impact."

More restrictions in Boston

Security experts say New York is a more likely target than Boston because it features President George W. Bush, who is closely associated with the Iraq war.

New York is expecting to spend about $76 million on security, including $59 million in police overtime. Boston's costs will be $50 million. Both cities are to get $50 million from the federal government.

But Boston has announced far more restrictions and closures than New York because of the FleetCenter location.

North Station will be closed during the Democratic convention because subway and commuter trains stop there just below the FleetCenter. Passengers ordinarily exit through the center, to which access will be tightly controlled during the convention.

At Penn Station, which will be open through the convention but with six of eight exits closed, travelers can come and go without entering Madison Square Garden. And the Penn Station subway and rail lines are approximately five stories below the Garden, with several layers of concrete providing additional protection.

"If a guy's bringing a suitcase full of \[explosives\], you're not going to blow Madison Square Garden up," a New York official said. "They would need a really really big bomb to do any damage from Penn Station up into Madison Square Garden. You're probably talking two or three tractor-trailers."

The bombs in Moscow, where 41 people were killed on a subway car in February, and in Madrid were contained in backpacks and suitcases.

A truck-bomb attack also concerns intelligence officials. One noted "al-Qaida's long history of successful attacks overseas" using truck bombs.

The Secret Service, in charge of security at both conventions, is setting up a 600-foot "blast zone" around the convention sites where vehicles are restricted, said John Kennedy, a Boston traffic consultant who reviewed security plans there. In New York, about 30 blocks around Madison Square Garden will be closed when the convention is in session, mostly after 8:30 p.m.

But in Boston, the zone will force the partial closure of a six-mile stretch of Interstate 93, which runs through downtown Boston just 40 feet from the FleetCenter: The interstate, along with two drives, two bridges and a tunnel, will close to Boston-bound traffic in the late afternoon and evenings of convention week.

And one lane of the four-lane interstate will be closed at all times in both directions, reserved for emergency vehicles and shuttle buses.

With studies predicting 10- to 12-mile backups, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has urged employers to give workers vacation during convention week or allow them to work from home or on flexible shifts.

The Beacon Hill Institute, a Boston think tank, predicts local workers will spend 1.2 million more hours commuting during the convention.

"The whole mood of the city has changed," said David Tuerck, the institute's executive director. "The mayor's no longer talking about economic benefits to the city. He's talking about, let's get past it."

In a recent poll, 48 percent of Boston-area residents said holding the convention in the city was a bad idea.

Menino spokesman Seth Gitell said his boss "has attempted to be as up front, clear and direct with the people of Boston as possible and wants to make sure as much information gets out as possible."

By contrast, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says people who avoid the Garden area "won't even know the convention is in town."

But some security experts and commuters expect citywide congestion from the street closings and the presence of several hundred thousand protesters.

Secret Service spokeswoman Ann Roman said security in New York "is still a work in progress."

Sudden closings predicted

Harvey Kushner, chairman of the criminal justice department at Long Island University's C.W. Post campus and author of "The Encyclopedia of Terrorism," said there could be sudden closings of bridges, tunnels, drives and streets. "As a security technique, you have random sporadic shutdowns to throw people off," Kushner said.

Many people are planning to take the week off, said Gerry Bringmann, vice chairman of Long Island Rail Road Commuters' Council. "They really don't want to be in the city during convention week," he said.

Yet some experts question the likelihood of a convention-related attack, saying al-Qaida has shown less concern for striking events than for hitting high-profile, accessible targets. The commission investigating Sept. 11 recently reported that those attacks were timed based on when the hijacking teams were ready.

"They're going to go for a target rather than a date. They like physical targets like the World Trade Center. The symbolism of a convention may be a little more remote," said Martha Crenshaw, a terrorism expert at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Plus, "they don't have to attack the conventions because they've already gotten a lot of what they want without doing anything," Crenshaw said. "We're forced into this defensive mode where we have to spend large amounts of money and inconvenience people."

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

July 14th, 2004, 12:26 AM
July 14, 2004

Group's Antiwar Billboard Is Offered New Times Sq. Spot


The first ad that Project Billboard says a Clear Channel subsidiary rejected.

Accusing an advocacy group of a "rush to the courthouse," a lawyer for Clear Channel Communications offered an alternative billboard space in Times Square yesterday for a huge antiwar advertisement by the group.

But the lawyer, Robert H. Pees, said Clear Channel still has "concerns" about the image proposed by the group, Project Billboard, which shows a round bomb painted with the stars and stripes over the words "Democracy Is Best Taught by Example, Not by War."

Deborah Rappaport, a Project Billboard representative, said the group would insist on the bomb image and was withdrawing an earlier compromise offer to use an image of a red, white and blue dove instead.

While Clear Channel seemed to be seeking to resolve the dispute, a hearing on the matter, at the United States District Court for the Southern District, in Manhattan, only compounded the tangles. In a civil suit filed on Monday, Project Billboard accused Clear Channel of breach of contract, charging that the media conglomerate was trying to muzzle its political message.

Mr. Pees surprised the group's lawyers by handing the judge a rider to a lease on the original billboard, specifying that the building's owner had to approve the ad's content. The immense billboard, 69 feet high and 44 feet across, hangs on the Marriott Marquis hotel at 1535 Broadway.

Douglas F. Curtis, a lawyer for Project Billboard, jumped up to say that the group had never seen the rider. According to the suit, representatives of Clear Channel never mentioned the hotel's refusal to display the ad when they first rejected the bomb ad on June 29..

A spokeswoman for the Marriott Marquis, Kathleen Duffy, confirmed that the hotel's general manager, Mike Stengel, had rejected the ad in discussions with Clear Channel officials several weeks ago. The hotel's contract with Clear Channel for the outer wall space specifies that it can reject any advertisement with "political content," Ms. Duffy said.

"It's not because of the message, it's because it's a political ad,'' she said. "If there was an ad that was pornographic in nature, we have the right to refuse that, too."

On Monday, Clear Channel showed the hotel the dove ad, Ms. Duffy said, and Mr. Stengel rejected that, too. She said that it was the first case in which the hotel had been presented with advertising it deemed political.

Project Billboard, which describes itself in court papers as "a group of citizens" seeking to "rediscover the core values that have made the United States great," paid $368,000 to rent the billboard for three months starting in August, in time for the Republican National Convention.

In a statement, Clear Channel said that when it signed a contract last Dec. 5 with an agent for Project Billboard, it had not been aware that the ad's message was political but rather had understood that it would "promote a live-entertainment event."

Mr. Pees, the Clear Channel lawyer, said the company was ready to offer another "big and splashy billboard" in Times Square, and he chastised Project Billboard for suing prematurely. "Fairness and equity are best taught by example, not by litigation," he said.

But he said Clear Channel remained reluctant to display the bomb ad. "Those of us who have been in New York for a while understand the sensitivities that many New Yorkers have to bombs," he said.

Ms. Rappaport called the dove ad a "last-ditch effort" to avoid litigation but said it was no longer on the table. She rejected a Clear Channel request to drop the war reference. "Absolutely unacceptable," she said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 14th, 2004, 11:18 AM

July 14, 2004

The federal government has rushed chemical-weapon antidotes to New York City and Boston ahead of this summer's national conventions, an official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday.

The CDC began sending out so-called chem-packs — large containers of antibiotics and antidotes for a variety of chemical weapons including nerve agents and cyanide — to states four months ago, but expedited the shipments to the convention host cities.

Unlike most cities, New York already has the chem-packs in stock because the city was part of the pilot program started more than a year ago by CDC and the Department of Homeland Security.

But some of the drugs inside the packs can lose their potency over time and need to be replenished.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security was quick to downplay the significance of moving the chem-packs to convention sites early.

"There is no specific, credible intelligence about a chemical attack in New York or anywhere else," said Brian Roehrkasse.

Additional reporting by Niles Lathem

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 14th, 2004, 01:33 PM
Garmentos could be left hanging

By Lisa Fickenscher
July 14, 2004

The Fashion Center Business Improvement District, worried that many in the garment area don't understand the impact of the coming Republican National Convention, will begin a series of weekly mailings to tenants in the neighborhood this week.

The first postcard will alert office managers, retailers and restaurants to street closings and identification rules, and provide other tips for surviving the convention from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg maintains that the week is usually slow-paced, with many people on vacation, the BID notes that it is an intense period for the garment business, as designers prepare for the annual fall fashion shows in Bryant Park the following week. Many fashion companies fear disruptions in deliveries and believe that workers and models will face problems getting to showrooms for fittings in preparation for the shows.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

July 15th, 2004, 12:40 AM
NYPD Grants 14 Permits For Protests During Republican Convention

JULY 14TH, 2004

The Police Department on Wednesday issued 14 permits to protest groups looking to demonstrate during next month's Republican National Convention.

However, one of the biggest protest groups that applied for a permit still has not been given the go ahead for its planned rally. United for Peace and Justice wants to hold a 250,000-person demonstration in Central Park, but the city says that's not possible.

The NYPD is instead offering to let protestors march up Seventh Avenue, across 34th Street past Madison Square Garden, the site of the GOP convention, and then down the West Side Highway.

Organizers for United for Peace and Justice say that is the worst possible idea.

“This is our final offer,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “Obviously they have the ability to go to court to resolve it in some fashion that way, but we believe this is a reasonable alternative and we need closure on this issue now.”

The two sides will meet again Friday to discuss the issue.

The Christian Defense Coalition, Planned Parenthood, Vietnam Veterans of America and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network are among the groups that have received permits to hold demonstrations.

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

July 15th, 2004, 12:56 AM
July 15, 2004

Police Offer Convention Demonstrators a Rally Site Far From the Garden


Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, at lectern, made the city's final offer to a group planning an antiwar protest on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

Leslie Cagan, at left, the national coordinator for the group, United for Peace and Justice, criticized the offer.

The Police Department drew a line in the sand yesterday for the group planning the largest protest during the Republican National Convention next month, telling the protest organizers they can hold a giant rally only along the West Side Highway, four long blocks from the convention site. If the group disagrees with the site, police officials said, its leaders can sue the city.

"This is our final offer," said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, flanked by the city's parks and transportation commissioners, at a news conference at Police Headquarters. "Obviously they have the ability to go to court and resolve it in some fashion that way."

The group, United for Peace and Justice, sought a permit for 250,000 people to rally on the Great Lawn in Central Park for speeches against the war in Iraq and other Bush administration policies on Aug. 29, the day before the convention begins. But the Parks Department rejected that site, saying that the area cannot hold that many people and that a huge rally could damage the lawn. Instead, police officials have suggested that demonstrators march past Madison Square Garden, where the convention will be held, and then rally, stretched along 30-odd blocks, from West and Chambers Streets to possibly as far north as 12th Avenue and 34th Street.

"It is, we believe, a reasonable alternative, and we need closure on this issue now," Mr. Kelly said. "The ball is in their court."

Protest organizers said they were "blindsided" by the news conference and were never informed that the West Side Highway was a take-it-or-leave-it option. They said that the site would make it hard to construct a sound system that participants miles from the stage could hear, and that protesters would be excessively hot and marginalized at the edge of the city.

"We do not think this is the way this rally should be conducted," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, which plans to demonstrate today at City Hall in support of a Central Park site. "We will continue to work for what we believe is the best way to have our demonstration." Calling the protest site on the far West Side the worst alternative to the park, she asked city officials to remain "open to the range of possibilities that we have put on the table and not give us ultimatums."

But the city's decision, and its very public way of communicating it to the organizers, made it clear that the Bloomberg administration is placing a premium on preserving order during the convention in heavily used areas like Central Park and Times Square.

The Police and Parks Departments have approved permits for 14 organizations to stage protests during the convention, including a prayer vigil by the Christian Defense Coalition opposite Madison Square Garden, a reading of the Constitution by People for the American Way at the Central Park band shell and a 12-hour anti-gun-violence display at Union Square Park organized by Silent March.

In addition, the Police Department has reached an agreement with another antiwar group, Not in Our Name, for a rally on Eighth Avenue south of 31st Street on the evening of Sept. 2, when President Bush is scheduled to accept his party's nomination. The group originally applied for a permit for a march and rally leaving from Union Square, but the department rejected that and instead offered the stationary rally. Protest organizers had originally been reluctant to agree to the proposal because of concerns about searches and about the potential use of four-sided metal barricades, like those used in a February 2003 antiwar protest, that keep demonstrators within the length of each block

The use of such pens has been a sharp point of contention between the police and the protesters, and the department is involved in a civil lawsuit that is seeking a court order barring universal bag searches and discouraging the use of four-sided pens. The suit was brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union and three people who say they were treated roughly by the police at the February 2003 protest, organized by United for Peace and Justice.

But Not in Our Name, at least, was willing to agree to the Police Department's proposal because officials have said that they will not search people unless they have a specific reason to do so and that they plan to use three-sided enclosures with entrance and exit points, as they did at a rally in March.

"They'll be able to come and go, and we are going to search only if there is a reason," said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's deputy commissioner for public information.

For United for Peace and Justice, though, the negotiations have yielded little progress. An umbrella group formed in 2002 as the country moved toward war with Iraq, it has grown from a handful of local and national organizations to more than 800 across the country. Although some of its events have been marred by clashes with the police, many of them have gone smoothly, with few arrests and little or no disorder.

Indeed, city officials insist that the sticking point stems from the protest's size, not its politics. The Police Department approved the group's request to march directly past the Garden before the convention begins, but have rejected alternative rally proposals at Times Square and along Third Avenue from Midtown to the 60's. Mr. Kelly said yesterday that squeezing a quarter of a million people along a proposed route to Times Square from 59th Street was impractical, and Iris Weinshall, the transportation commissioner, said that a rally on Third Avenue would overwhelm residential side streets and clog access to Manhattan from East River crossings.

But organizers appeared to want to keep their options open, neither accepting nor rejecting the site outright, and deflecting for now Commissioner Kelly's challenge to sue.

"We are fully prepared to maintain the negotiations with the city," Ms. Cagan said, adding that they would attend a meeting with police officials set for tomorrow morning, in the hopes of reaching an agreement and obtaining the legal permits. "We are not on that day engaging in civil disobedience."

Protesters? Where?


By inviting the Republican Party to hold its convention in New York City this summer, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has by proxy invited those who want to protest it, too. On Tuesday, however, he made it clear just what his administration perceives to be the limits of free speech in the era of terror.

Finding the right balance between protecting the civil liberties of protesters and keeping the city safe and orderly has become perhaps the most difficult conundrum the mayor has grappled with in preparing for the convention.

Mr. Bloomberg cannot afford to create the impression that the city is stifling protest, nor does he want the considerable ire that many peaceful protesters feel toward President Bush to be turned onto him instead.

But against a background of terrorist threats, he cannot risk a situation like Seattle's during the World Economic Forum in 1999, when the city came close to shutting down in the midst of violent protests. His Republican guests do not care to take in the spectacle of protesters in Times Square as they make their way to the theater, and city shopkeepers and commuters have no interest in long detours around angry antiwar rallies.

And so yesterday his administration announced that it was the protesters who would be inconvenienced rather than tourists and citizens.

After listing a number of groups that have also been granted protest sites, complete with some discussion of what props those groups will bring (one group, in a comment on the state of the nation's economy, will brandish giant pink slips), Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly reiterated that protests do not belong in Times Square, one of the requested sites of the largest protest group, United for Peace and Justice.

Up next was the parks commissioner, who said once again that he would not brook the trampling of the grass on the Great Lawn of Central Park. Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall then stepped up to say that she wanted to keep traffic flowing on the East Side of Manhattan, which thereby knocked down another requested protest area. Instead, the group could hold its rally along the West Side Highway.

Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, said yesterday that Mr. Bloomberg was simply trying to "roll out the red carpet" for the Republicans, at the expense of dissenting voices.

Mr. Bloomberg has not denied that he is trying roll out the carpet for the G.O.P. But he also claims that he has a carpet - or at least a large area rug - that he wants to extend to the rest of the city.

"My first concern is to protect the civil rights of 8.1 million people who live here," Mr. Bloomberg said this week, explaining why he does not want protests to cause the same inconveniences that extensive security measures inevitably will. "Nobody is going to take away the rights of our citizens to go about their business, go to school, go to work," he said.

Organizers say those kinds of trade-offs are now the norm when holding huge political gatherings in the new age.

Holding a convention in the city is "tenfold more complicated than it would have been even four years ago," said Kevin Sheekey, president of the host committee. "The concerns before were simple mundane crowd control. And now you have to think about terrorism, and that means you are talking about political leaders, delegates and visitors, protesters, citizens, the media and organized labor. And it is always the case that the mayor is the final arbiter on these things."

Police officials say their overarching focus is on a possible terrorist attack, rather than the myriad protests or the small cadre of troublemakers they worry will mask themselves behind the mass of peaceful demonstrators. However, the department is concerned about possible disruptions emerging from a protest as large as the 250,000 people expected by United for Peace and Justice.

"Even if these were 300,000 little old ladies, we would still want to keep them towards West Street rather than to create a mass of gridlock in the midst of the city somewhere," said Paul J. Browne, the department's deputy commissioner for public information. "We like to have marches where we can allow a significant portion of the rest of the city to function."

Norman Adler, a political consultant in New York, said most New Yorkers would likely accept the notion of protesters' getting short shrift in the name of their safety, as long as the police do not emulate those in Chicago three decades ago.

"I can't see Gifford Miller saying, 'Don't vote for the mayor because he forced the protesters to the West Side,' " Mr. Adler said, referring to Mr. Bloomberg's most likely Democratic rival for re-election. "But he could say 'Don't vote for the mayor because the police engaged in unnecessary violence.' "

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 15th, 2004, 09:52 AM
Protest Groups & Affiliates (http://www.newsfollowup.com/protest.htm)

July 15th, 2004, 10:05 AM
Odd that a group is not allowed to protest because it has too much support.

July 16th, 2004, 12:28 AM
July 16, 2004

150 Picket Near City Hall in Favor of Central Park Rally


About 150 protesters picketed outside of City Hall Park yesterday to demand that the Bloomberg administration allow a giant rally in Central Park before the Republican National Convention next month.

The demonstration came a day after the city threw down the gauntlet to United for Peace and Justice, the group planning the largest convention protest, to accept a rally site along the West Side Highway or take the city to court.

Organizers stressed that they would prefer to negotiate with the city in the hope that officials would reconsider letting them use Central Park, Times Square or a stretch of Third Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, sites that the group had proposed for its Aug. 29 rally and that the city rejected. Bill Dobbs, spokesman for the group, said that it was considering a lawsuit, but that he was not sure how serious those considerations were.

"The protesters deserve a place to express themselves that is away from the edge of the island, a place that has some meaning for New Yorkers," he said.

The police and the group have estimated that 250,000 people could attend the rally.

Trying to pressure Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg into changing course, demonstrators chanted and carried signs with slogans like "Don't pen in free speech" and "Keep your knee-jerk reactionary politics off my Bill of Rights" under the watchful eyes of about 40 police officers who had apparently been expecting a larger turnout. The protest area, on Broadway south of Murray Street, was lined with barricades down to Barclay Street, near where three police dogs lay on the sidewalk, looking bored.

Mr. Bloomberg appeared unswayed about changing the protest site and the route of a march before the rally. "The route is up to the city, and after listening to what they wanted to do and then looking at what the city can do in terms of what venues we have, what resources we have, we've come up with something that I think should satisfy everybody," he told reporters, adding that if it "doesn't satisfy everybody perfectly, I'm sorry, we just we don't have places where for a crowd that size there's very many options."

Antiwar Group Settles Dispute With Company on Times Sq. Ad


An antiwar group reached a settlement yesterday with Clear Channel Communications over a billboard advertisement the group wanted to display in Times Square, agreeing to post an image of a red, white and blue dove instead of a bomb with a burning fuse. The media conglomerate said it would provide two alternative billboards, instead of the one on the Marriott Marquis hotel that it originally leased to the group.

In an amicable ending to a dispute that could have become an embarrassment for Clear Channel, the company agreed that the group, Project Billboard, could display its ad on a billboard that wraps around the Condé Nast building at 42nd Street and Broadway, a prime location. The ad will go up in early August, in time for the opening of the Republican National Convention, and will remain for three months. It will include the phrase "Democracy is best taught by example, not by war," which Clear Channel at one point tried to revise to eliminate the reference to the war in Iraq.

As part of the settlement, Project Billboard will also be able to use a second vertical billboard for four months, on the side of the W Hotel at Broadway and 47th Street. That ad will read "Total Cost of Iraq War," and will include a running electronic ticker displaying how much the United States is spending in Iraq.

Deborah Rappaport, a board member at Project Billboard, said the group would get the two billboards for $368,000, the price it originally paid to lease one.

After several weeks of confused discussion between the two sides, Clear Channel clarified this week that it could not post the ad on the billboard originally leased because the hotel refused to have any political advertising on its wall space.

Ms. Rappaport said the deal "satisfies our desire to get our message up." Clear Channel said that it was "happy to help Project Billboard get their message to the more than 1.5 million people who pass through Times Square each day."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 16th, 2004, 12:35 AM
July 16, 2004

A Convention Crackdown for New Jersey Rail Riders


Commuters on New Jersey trains face rerouting, additional police patrols, locked bathrooms and bans on the use of overhead luggage racks and garbage cans during the week of the Republican National Convention in Manhattan.

The security measures, announced yesterday by New Jersey Transit officials, could cause delays and inconveniences for the thousands of passengers from New Jersey who make trips into and out of Pennsylvania Station each day, officials warned.

"The world has changed, and security and the safety of our passengers and our employees is critical to us," said Jack Lettiere, New Jersey Transit board chairman and state transportation commissioner. "I know it's a little bit of an inconvenience, but during these times giving up just a little bit, I believe is well worth it. This is serious business."

The security plan affects train service from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, from the start of the convention until a day after it ends at Madison Square Garden, above Penn Station. It calls for rerouting all 100 daily Midtown Direct trains, which normally arrive at Penn Station, to Hoboken. From there, customers can take PATH trains or New York Waterway ferries to Manhattan at no additional cost, said George D. Warrington, New Jersey Transit's executive director.

All of the rerouted Midtown Direct trains will be on the Montclair-Boonton and the Morris and Essex lines, which typically carry about 13,000 customers daily. Two hundred New Jersey Transit trains will continue using Penn Station.

Mr. Warrington said the decision to reroute trains was based partly on a desire to reduce stress on customers and on Penn Station, which will be limited to two entrances during the convention. The other six entrances of the station, the nation's busiest railroad terminal, will be closed.

For the trains that come into Penn Station, there will be a temporary ban on the use of overhead luggage racks, and all onboard trash receptacles will be sealed. One or two bathrooms on each train will be open, but the others will be locked.

In addition, New Jersey Transit police and troopers from the state police will inspect all New York-bound trains in rail yards, and will perform onboard inspections of trains before they enter the tunnel entrance to Penn Station.

Joseph C. Bober, transit chief of police, said "people will see a lot more police and K-9 units," with bomb-sniffing dogs and officers on trains performing inspections.

New Jersey Transit officials said their bus and light rail services would operate on a regular schedule.

Mr. Warrington said officials will try to minimize the impact of the rail changes.

But he added, "I would also suggest this might be a good week for New Jerseyans to rediscover New Jersey, and perhaps the New Jersey Shore."

Some commuters said they were dreading the changes.

"It's going to be crowded and more unsafe," said Janine Bauer, a transportation lawyer who lives in South Orange. "New Jersey Transit is terrible at dealing with traffic on a normal day."

Ms. Bauer, 49, who used to commute through Hoboken to Midtown Manhattan, said the layovers there were long and inconvenient. She said she would instead take the No. 107 bus from South Orange to the Port Authority.

Several New Jersey Transit customers said they would avoid commuting that week. James Calhoun, a telecommunications project manager who commutes on the Northeast Corridor line from Woodbridge, said he was planning to talk to his boss about working from home.

"I think it's going to be a zoo," said Mr. Calhoun, 51. "As prepared as they say they are, all you have to have is one problem, and everything could shut down."

Others said they thought New Jersey Transit was doing the right thing.

"It's going to be a challenge, but I can't blame them for it," said Steven Stuart, 46, a venture capital professional who commutes on the Raritan Valley line. "We'll get through it."

The New Jersey Transit board of directors also approved a $1.3 billion budget, an increase of 2.9 percent. But, officials said, fares will not go up this year because of an increase in state funding.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 17th, 2004, 01:28 AM
July 17, 2004

Volunteers Are Coming for G.O.P., and for Party


Daryl Jones, above left, a New York City Host Committee staff member, checked the identification of prospective volunteers for the Republican National Convention. Those at the orientation, held at Baruch College, listened to a welcome presentation.

Even in a city of eight million, Republicans in New York can feel a little lonely sometimes. So the chance to be surrounded by Republicans for a week, without having to fly to, say, Texas, is treasured by many of the volunteers who will work at the Republican National Convention next month.

Cari Colclough, 39, said she was so eager to participate in the convention, which runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, that she decided to take the entire week off from work.

"People at work think I am crazy," said Ms. Colclough, a magazine art director in Manhattan. "They are all Democrats."

Ms. Colclough, a Republican who lives in South Amboy, N.J., said she could not think of a better use of her vacation time than trying to help President Bush get re-elected. She added that her father and brother were coming to New York, from Maryland and Washington, D.C., respectively, for the occasion.

Ms. Colclough is among roughly 15,000 people who have submitted online applications to the New York City Host Committee to serve as volunteers before and during the convention, according to Paul Elliott, a spokesman for the committee.

Although volunteers are welcome from all political parties, Republicans clearly dominated the group of about 350 attendees at a recent volunteer orientation held at Baruch College.

The diverse group of volunteers, some wearing Republican elephant pins, reinforced the message in advertisements placed by the host committee featuring former Mayor Edward I. Koch: "You don't have to be a Democrat to love New York!"

Some volunteers at the orientation already knew one another from local Republican clubs.

Debbie Leible, a volunteer who was interviewing other volunteers, and who started donating her time in December, called Mary Peck, a new volunteer and a friend from the Women's National Republican Club, over to her sign-up table. Both women said they hoped to work inside Madison Square Garden, the site of the convention.

Members of the New York Young Republican Club, the Columbia University Republican Club and the New York University College Republicans also have been active volunteers.

Kevin Sheekey, the president of the host committee, said that his group welcomed volunteers from all political parties and that the volunteer application did not ask for party affiliation.

Most volunteers were recruited by contacting political groups and companies, as well as through media advertisements, Mr. Sheekey said.

Applicants can register at www.nyc2004.org and must attend orientation and training sessions. More than 3,000 people had attended the orientations as of yesterday. The host committee said it needs about 8,000 volunteers to work just before and during the convention.

At the orientations, potential volunteers must show two forms of identification, a policy mandated by the Secret Service, said Daryl Jones, a host committee staff member. Applicants also are asked about special skills, such as fluency in languages other than English or experience helping people with disabilities, and they are told about training sessions, which start Aug. 7.

Volunteers will be given a wide range of responsibilities, including greeting delegates and participants at airports, helping them get to Broadway shows, staffing hospitality desks at hotels, assisting the media and helping with visitor transportation. They will help staff a special visitor hot line for 311, the New York City telephone number for government information and services.

Many volunteers said they would do whatever job the host committee assigned, but most said their dream assignment would be helping at Madison Square Garden.

"I hope to be volunteering there the day that Bush speaks," Jack Guinane, 43, said.

Mr. Guinane, a Republican who lives in Belle Harbor, Queens, said he had another motivation for volunteering. "I think it is part of my civic duty," he said. "The city has been through so much. I want to give back, and I'm trying to teach that to my daughters."

At the orientation at Baruch, on Tuesday night, Mr. Guinane and his daughters, Angela, 16, and Jaclyn, 14, signed up to help paint political signs for the event.

The Committee on Arrangements, a Republican group helping to plan the party's convention, is organizing the sign painting. It hopes to have 25,000 signs ready when the convention starts, said Evan Slepman, a committee worker.

"Everybody does their own thing, within limits," he said. "No Kerry signs."

Democrats may be more difficult to find, but they are part of the volunteer force.

Mike Millis, 47, a Democrat who lives in Brooklyn, said he has been involved with the host committee since April. He said he was not trying to encourage votes for President Bush.

Instead, he said, "It's about a vote for New York City. It's about the continuing recovery since Sept. 11."

Mr. Millis, who runs a company that coordinates special events, said he thinks the International Olympic Committee will be closely watching the convention because of the city's 2012 Olympic bid.

Aside from political parties, the volunteers represent various races, ethnicities and age groups. Volunteers from every state have signed up, including three each from North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

"The idea that there are people around the country who want to come to New York and volunteer and help us put the best face on the city is really a wonderful thing," Mr. Sheekey said.

More than 7,000 applicants are from New York State, host committee staff said.

When asked about possible anti-Republican activists infiltrating the ranks of volunteers, Mr. Sheekey said any such concerns are "overblown."

Most volunteers said they were not concerned about potential terror threats or conflicts with protesters during the convention.

"The G.O.P. already knows what can happen in New York City," said Alexander De Filippi, 42. "They already have plans B, C and D."

Mr. De Filippi, who has been a registered Republican since 2000, said he had "blind faith" in his party.

Other volunteers said they were doing their part to screen for suspicious behavior among volunteer applicants.

"You can tell in a minute or two if somebody is whacked or not," said Ms. Leible, the interviewer of volunteers. "We've had a few."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 17th, 2004, 01:31 AM
July 17, 2004

Unions Plan to Picket Site of Republican Convention


Three of New York City's most prominent unions - the police, the firefighters and the teachers - plan to begin round-the-clock picketing at Madison Square Garden on Monday to protest their lack of a contract.

The three unions have decided to picket the Garden, the site of the Republican National Convention next month, to pressure Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg into improving his wage offer and to bring attention to their cause.

"We're doing this to deliver our message to all New Yorkers," said Stephen J. Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "The Republicans are coming to bask in the glow of Sept. 11, and yet the firefighters and police officers who died in record numbers and continue to be the frontline defenders for this city haven't had a contract for more than two years."

Union officials said they had been planning to file a lawsuit yesterday because, in their view, the Police Department was violating their constitutional rights by saying that no more than 46 union members could picket on the block surrounding the Garden.

But the city avoided litigation when it lifted that limit after negotiations between the unions and the corporation counsel's office. The city agreed to let 150 to 200 people picket and distribute fliers outside the Garden so long as they stood at least 20 feet apart. In addition, the city agreed that several hundred more union members could picket near the corner of Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street.

Union officials said the picketing on Monday would coincide with the beginning of preparatory construction work for the convention. The picketing is scheduled to last 10 days, but union officials said it might continue until the convention ends on Sept. 2.

Labor leaders said the unions would engage in informational picketing and would not ask New Yorkers to honor the picket line. Union leaders acknowledged that if they asked other workers, most notably the construction workers responsible for convention preparations, to honor the picket line, that would violate a pledge that the city's Central Labor Council and construction unions had made to the city. To help lure the convention and its economic benefits, they promised there would be no work stoppages that disrupted the event.

"Right now, I don't anticipate any disruption," said Brian McLaughlin, president of the labor council, the umbrella group for the city's unions.

The police, firefighters and teachers are resisting Mr. Bloomberg's demand that they accept the same 5 percent raise over three years accepted by the largest municipal union, District Council 37. Leaders from the three unions assert that they deserve more than D.C. 37 received because of the difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers and police officers and because of the heroism that the police and firefighters displayed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Mr. Bloomberg has said that the city's budget problems mean that it cannot afford the larger raises sought by the teachers, police and firefighters.

Noting that the Republicans want to honor the heroes of Sept. 11, Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said, "The mayor is insulting the very people that the Republicans want to honor during their convention."

City Hall officials urged the unions to negotiate, rather than demonstrate. Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, said: "New York's firefighters and police officers will be better served by leaders who negotiate at the bargaining table. Unfortunately, the only thing these guys know how to do is blow hot air."

Officials with the Republican National Convention seemed unfazed by next week's picketing.

Leonardo Alcivar, a convention spokesman, said, "We have enjoyed from Day 1 a terrific relationship with labor in New York."

He added, "It would be disappointing for anyone to use 9/11 as a bargaining tool for the purposes of labor negotiations."

In Boston, the main police union briefly disrupted preparations for the Democratic National Convention, to be held there later this month, by demonstrating outside the Fleet Center, the site of the event. That union has threatened to picket wherever Boston's mayor, Thomas M. Menino, goes during the Democrats' convention.

The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association has rejected his offer of an 11.9 percent raise over four years. It is seeking a raise of 16 to 18 percent.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 18th, 2004, 01:00 AM
July 18, 2004


Renting to G.O.P.? Hide the Mother Jones


Lisa Haney

LET'S say you're a delegate to the Republican National Convention from the District of Columbia. Your room assignment is a plum: the venerable Algonquin on West 44th Street, where you can imagine yourself sparring wittily with the ghost of Dorothy Parker. If you're from Maine, you'll be staying at the W, where you can enjoy the joke of a hotel pronounced "Dubya" being the designated site, after litigation, of a huge antiwar billboard.

But what if your state has been unlucky enough to be assigned to one of the city's more generic hotels, say Iowa at the Sheraton Manhattan? In that case, you might want to consider a place that could be called Hotel Daniel, a 375-square-foot studio on West 172nd Street near Broadway in Washington Heights, decked out with a low-maintenance snake plant, a comfy leather couch and a Japanese tatami bed.

The usual occupant, a 28-year-old city worker named Daniel Krieger, is among hundreds of New Yorkers who have posted their apartments on Craig's List under the category "sublets & temporary," key words, "Republican Convention." Many listings range from $1,200 to as high as $6,000 for the week, fairly steep even in a city like New York, where the average hotel room goes for $209.96 a night. You almost expect them to throw in the Brooklyn Bridge.

For instance, George Waters, who does technical support for an investment house, is offering his one-bedroom in Battery Park, with partial views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty, for $1,200 a week, while his company flees the city for Charlotte and San Francisco. Lizzie envisions renting the master bedroom in her West Side apartment to a conventioneer for $800 a week, while she sleeps in the guest room.

Mr. Krieger's expectations are more modest: He is offering to sublet his place for $600 ($200 less than his monthly rent) for six days and seven nights, while he crashes in his father's pied-à-terre in the West Village. "I'm not really doing this for the money," he says. Or for love, either. "I don't like Republicans," he confides, his voice dropping to a whisper. "As long as I don't have to be here with them, and I can wash the sheets when I return." He just wants to participate in this unique expression of our democratic process in his own small, vicarious way. He may even blog about his role on his blog (www.approachingmidnight.blogspot.com), alongside such existential declarations as "I like pizza and not working."

Mr. Krieger is a typical 20-something single guy. ("I like to think I'm not typical," he demurs, confirming how typical he is.) He has a teddy bear physique and a few days' growth of whiskers. He wears rubber slides around the apartment, and listens to turntable music. He has a cat named Mingus, reflecting his interest in jazz, and a fish named Morimoto, after the "Iron Chef" television star, reflecting his interest in cooking. His friends call him "Marshall Stewart," because he keeps a neat, domesticated place, the bed always made, a striped fabric shower curtain in the bathroom.

As your host, Mr. Krieger is in a good position to ensure your safety from biological weapons attacks. That is because he works in the Bureau of Communicable Diseases of the city's Health Department, the office that handles West Nile virus and anthrax scares, although as Mr. Krieger points out: "I do the administrative stuff. I don't come into contact with germs. I come into contact with timecards."

Any delegate savvy enough to choose Mr. Krieger's apartment will be given the run of the bookshelves: "Death in Venice," "Walden 2," Michael Chabon - intellectual stuff, very New York. Last week, a copy of the lefty magazine Mother Jones lay beside his bed, but he promised to put that away. "I don't think Republicans would like it," he explains considerately.

Politically, Mr. Krieger identifies himself as independent, and voted for Ralph Nader in the last election. He is thinking of volunteering for the Kerry-Edwards ticket this fall, then voting for Nader again in November. Isn't that counterproductive? "Maybe if I can get a lot of other people to vote for them" - John Kerry and John Edwards - "that would more than offset my vote for Nader."

He estimates that the commuting time to Madison Square Garden is just 20 minutes, better yet, from a jazz-buff's point of view, you can take the A train. And he'd reassure anxious visitors that the neighborhood's reputation as a drug haven is outdated. There's a wine bar. "I walk home from the subway at 2 in the morning," he said.

Despite the charms of his digs, response in the week since he listed his apartment has been nonexistent. Ditto for a dozen other listings contacted at random on Craig's List, though Shari Goldhagen got a call from a couple planning a wedding that week. "Out of the goodness of my heart, I told them not to do it," she said. On balance, it seems, Republicans are willing to visit New York, but they wouldn't want to live here.

E-mail: amh@nytimes.com

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 18th, 2004, 01:08 AM
July 18, 2004


Contents Under Pressure

Think of the Long Island Rail Road as one long garden hose stretching to Pennsylvania Station. Now imagine a thumb on the end of that hose: that would be New York City's plan to close six of the station's eight exits during the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden.

A hose. A thumb. The Garden. What does that make you, if you are one of the more than 600,000 people who stream through the station - from the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and the subways - every single day? A highly pressurized individual, hissing and spitting and ready to blow, would be our guess.

The convention is six weeks away, so it is not too soon for Long Island Rail Road riders to start thinking about how to cope from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, or to berate the railroad for not yet announcing a plan, any plan, to keep the chaos of that week to a minimum.

This is not to carp about tight security. The conventions in New York and Boston are high-risk terrorist targets, and it is right to put safety before convenience, no matter how much one wishes that the Republicans and Democrats would stage their theatrics in another time zone. If this means having security teams with dogs boarding trains to look for bombs and lethal chemicals, fine. We can also accept inconvenient detours. If experts say that the smartest, safest thing is to cram the entire passenger flow of the nation's busiest train station - the population of Milwaukee, basically - through just two exits where Seventh Avenue meets 34th Street, we will try to suspend our disbelief.

But even without rethinking the security plan, officials should find ways to take the pressure off riders who will suffer through the Grand Old Party's party. They deserve better advice than that voiced recently by a spokesman for Amtrak, the station's owner, and by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"We'll muddle through," the spokesman, Clifford Black, said.

"Get a life!" Mr. Bloomberg said.

But what if you don't have a life yet, and worry that you won't be able to get one by Aug. 30?

You could take vacation time. The people Mr. Black speaks for are really, really hoping that you do. If ridership drops 10 percent in August, as expected, then it will only be the city of Charlotte, N.C., elbowing on and off that Midtown street corner every day, and every little bit extra will help.

Barring that, you could keep listening for onboard announcements and checking the Web, on the off chance that the railroad will get around to doing something helpful. Here is what we hope to see:

First, at the very least, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could warn people about what is coming. When we last checked, the "Service Advisories" section of the railroad's Web site told us how to save $1 on grandstand admission to Belmont Park, but not a thing about the Republican convention. (Boston commuters, by contrast, can go to www.mbta.com and click on "DNC Travel Info" for a wealth of information.)

The authority should ease the strain on Penn Station by increasing service to other stations connecting with the subway - including Woodside, Hunters Point Avenue, Long Island City and Flatbush Avenue - and directing passengers toward those options. The authority could help people avoid the exit bottlenecks altogether, by offering free transfers from the railroad to subway lines at the station, and by letting railroad-bound ticketholders into the subway free at, say, 42nd and 23rd Streets. It could reimburse commuters for their troubles with a discount on monthly passes, the way it sometimes does after blizzards.

And finally, as long as we're dreaming aloud, the railroad could take little steps to ease the everyday miseries of the ride, which only become worse in the steam heat of late August.

As a modest start, maybe the railroad could - just for the convention - stop telling riders what to do. It could suspend the Clean Train Campaign, for example, which badgers riders to take trash off trains that have no trash cans. In fact, why not just give the screeching lectures and crew chatter a rest? Imagine a ride with no more Please Keep Your Feet Off the Seats; Be Courteous to Your Fellow Riders When Using Cellphones; Remember to Take Your Personal Belongings With You as You Leave the Train; and Conductor, Go to Channel 4.

Here's an idea: Conductor, tell us how the train searches will work, where station exits will be, what kinds of delays to expect, and how to avoid police barricades and protesters. And when you're done talking, stop. For the gift of silence as we roll into the maw of Penn Station - with all the security-induced indignities awaiting there - we will thank and bless you.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 19th, 2004, 01:05 AM
July 19, 2004


Pop Quiz: What Do New York 2004 and Chicago 1968 Have in Common?


If trouble breaks out between police and demonstrators at next month's Republican convention, the media will be quick to draw comparisons to the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Mayor Richard J. Daley's rampaging police — who injured hundreds of unarmed protesters and bystanders — provided one of the great cautionary tales in American politics, and one that is already on the mind of the Bloomberg administration. In a recent interview, the mayor's communications director rushed to say, before I could even raise the subject, that his boss was no Mayor Daley, and that this was not Chicago in 1968.

As the co-author of a lengthy Daley biography, "American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation," I can attest that the two mayors are not much alike. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made $5 billion at the intersection of finance and technology, is a world away from Mayor Daley — the father of Chicago's current mayor — who plodded his way up an old-line Democratic machine, and lived his whole life in the working-class neighborhood of Bridgeport. And given the probity and professionalism Mayor Bloomberg has shown in office, a Chicago-style debacle seems unlikely here. Still, these two men seem to have a remarkably similar distaste for demonstrators — and for somewhat similar reasons.

Mayor Daley's dislike of protests was largely rooted in his view of politics. The Chicago machine was built on the principle that the way to have a voice in government was to pay one's dues at the precinct level by turning out the vote. Mayor Daley shared the machine's hierarchical, pragmatic values, and was offended by anyone who made demands on elected officials without helping to elect them.

When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought the civil rights movement to Chicago in 1966, his idealistic words about equal opportunity and fair housing were lost on the mayor. Mayor Daley could not believe that Dr. King expected to dictate policy to city hall when he did not control a single precinct captain.

Mayor Daley viewed the 1968 protesters in much the same way. When I started work on the Daley book, I shared the common misconception that Mayor Daley hated antiwar protesters because he supported the Vietnam War. But I soon learned that he opposed the war, and had quietly tried to persuade President Lyndon Johnson to withdraw the troops. The mayor's objection was in a way procedural. If the demonstrators wanted to end the war, it seemed to him, they should have done the hard political work to be where he was that week: inside the convention hall.

Mayor Bloomberg's roots lie in a social organization that's very different from the clubhouse, but equally intolerant of spontaneous outbursts. Until he ran for mayor he had spent his life in the corporate world, where — as in a political machine — people pursue a common goal by working through the system. Employees who try to harangue leaders into changing corporate policy are not engaging in free speech. They are being insubordinate.

In his handling of demonstrators, Mayor Bloomberg has acted like a corporate leader dealing with unruly subordinates. His police have confined them in metal "pens," and treated them with a roughness that makes protesting the government a grueling experience. The New York Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of a diabetic, wheelchair-bound New Yorker who says she was kept in a pen at a protest last year despite a medical need to leave.

In the negotiations over next month's anti-Republican protests, the city initially tried to force the 250,000 demonstrators who want to gather in Central Park into Queens. Its final offer is a site on the West Side Highway, an uncomfortable, out-of-the-way, narrow venue that will make it impossible to gather as a group to hear speakers. Mayor Bloomberg delegated the negotiations to the police, stepping in only occasionally to belittle the protesters' concerns.

It's easy to understand how Mr. Bloomberg's background, like Mayor Daley's, gave him a distaste for unruly protesters. But that doesn't excuse his failure to speak out forcefully about the importance of free speech. He is mayor of New York now, and one of the New York's proudest attributes has always been its openness to robust political debate. When he rolls out the red carpet for the Republicans, he should make clear that as long as protesters obey the law, they will be just as welcome as the delegates.

These are hard times for protesters. Sept. 11 provided an excuse for tossing out the Founding Fathers' broad notions of freedom of speech, petition and assembly, and for imposing "time, place and manner" restrictions that push protests completely out of view. When President Bush appears in public, the Secret Service now routinely forces demonstrators to move to far-off "free speech zones." When the president attended a gathering of world leaders last month on Sea Island, Ga., protesters were kept 10 miles away.

As mayor of New York, Mr. Bloomberg has a special duty to resist this trend. Because if political dissent can't make it here, it can't make it anywhere.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 19th, 2004, 11:20 PM
NYPD must aid access to protests, judge rules

July 19, 2004

Responding to a lawsuit by the New York Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge ruled that the city Police Department cannot conduct blanket searches of bags at demonstrations unless it has reason to suspect a specific threat, and must make it easier for people to gain access to demonstration sites.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet said that the department must notify people about how to access demonstration sites if it plans on closing streets and sidewalks, and must make reasonable efforts to allow entry and exit to “pens”—four-sided enclosures created with interlocking metal barricades. The plaintiffs said protesters’ free speech rights were limited in the pre-Iraq-war march of February 2003, when the NYPD implemented strict access policies for “pens” and did not share information about street closings.

The judge also forbade blanket searches of bags at demonstrations unless the police have shown reason to suspect a specific threat. The interdiction does not affect bag searches from the outside with magnetometers.

The police have argued that the threat of terrorism will require tight security at the Republican National Convention, slated to take place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

July 20th, 2004, 04:46 AM
July 20, 2004

Searches of Convention Protesters Limited


A federal judge has barred general searches of protesters' bags at the Republican National Convention and ruled out the use of closed four-sided pens to contain the protesters.

But in a ruling issued Friday and released yesterday, the judge, Robert W. Sweet, did not entirely ban the controversial pens, requiring only that demonstrators be able to move freely in and out of them.

He also ruled that police officials could initiate general searches of bags of convention demonstrators if they receive information of a specific security threat.

In the ruling, which both sides claimed as a victory, Judge Sweet wrote that he intended to strike a "delicate balance'' that would "encourage free expression in a secure society."

The judge found that the New York City police had used excessive tactics to control political demonstrations in the past. His ruling came in a suit filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which had hoped to prevent the police at the convention from using tactics that led to scuffles and some injuries to demonstrators at a protest against the war in Iraq near the United Nations in February 2003.

Lawyers for the police battled to stave off any court orders that would tie their hands as they prepare for the convention, which F.B.I. officials have named as a possible target for a new attack they say Al Qaeda is planning in the United States.

Christopher Dunn, the civil liberties union's lead lawyer in the case, called the ruling a "historic victory for the right to protest" and said the judge had knocked down police tactics that "severely restricted demonstrations."

But Paul J. Browne, the senior spokesman for the Police Department, said the decision only upheld policies the police had already adopted, and did not cause any change in the department's planning for the convention, which will be at Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

The civil liberties group had tried to force the police to abandon the use of the pens, which are set up with metal barriers that are hard to climb over and impossible to crawl under. At the February 2003 demonstration, police used the barriers to create block-long four-sided enclosures and, once they were full, barred demonstrators from leaving.

Ann Stauber, 61, a plaintiff in the suit, went to that protest in a mechanized wheelchair she has used since 1991 because of a debilitating genetic disease. A police officer, Marvina C. Lawrence, broke the wheelchair's controls while blocking Ms. Stauber from leaving a pen to find a bathroom, a civilian review board investigation confirmed.

Judge Sweet found that the pens as they were configured that day had caused "irreparable harm" to the demonstrators' First Amendment rights. He ordered no action, only suggesting "creating a larger number of openings which may be monitored by police."

Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, which organized the rally, called the ruling a step in the right direction, but questioned the need to use pens at all.

Three-sided barricades can be ""reconfigured at a moment's notice" to trap demonstrators inside, she said, adding that the police have from time to time picked up the barricades and used them to push people back.

The issue of the searches arose because of a construction workers' demonstration on April 10, 2003, in favor of the Iraq war, where police were ordered to search the bags of all demonstrators and bar anyone who refused to allow a search.

At the convention, the police will not be able to search bags without showing "both a specific threat to public safety and an indication of how blanket searches could reduce that threat," Judge Sweet wrote. He imposed no restrictions on the use of metal detectors.

"We're not planning to search everybody," Mr. Browne said. "But if we get information that somebody is carrying a bomb and we have a description, we're going to go look for it."

The judge also ordered the police to provide extensive public information in advance about any streets it plans to close for the demonstrations. He rejected as legally inappropriate the civil liberties union's challenge to the deployment of mounted police to disperse demonstrators.

Gail Donoghue, a lawyer for the city, said officials were relieved that the judge did not require them to write a raft of new rules before the convention, or to negotiate with protesters over security plans.

"We're just not going there," she said. "The Police Department is not willing to abdicate its responsibility for public safety and make it a matter of negotiation.'

The use of the pens has been but one sticking point in the tense negotiations between the city and United for Peace and Justice over where protest organizers can hold a rally, which could attract 250,000 people, the day before the convention.

Organizers say that they are now considering acquiescing to a Bloomberg administration proposal to rally along the West Side Highway from Chambers Street as far north as 34th Street. But they are looking to the city to help provide water, shuttle buses to subways and the more expensive sound system they say is necessary to reach protesters who may be miles from the stage.

"We are prepared to figure out how to make the West Side Highway work but we can't say yes until we have more conversations with them to make sure it will work," Ms. Cagan said.

Mr. Browne of the Police Department responded: "They came in with a list of demands for us to pay for the amenities associated with the convention protest, and we don't work that way." He added: "Whether it's a picnic in Central Park or a demonstration, they're expected to carry their own water - literally."

Diane Cardwell contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 20th, 2004, 04:54 AM
July 20, 2004

For Press at the Convention, Pens, Pads and a Concierge


Frederick Bigler, chief concierge at the Ritz-Carlton New York, and Melody R. Williamson, his counterpart at the New York Palace.

Work spaces have been assigned and wireless Internet access has been arranged. Phone lines, electric outlets, parking spots for satellite trucks: all are details being worked out for the massive media center that will be created in Midtown Manhattan for the Republican National Convention at the end of August.

Oh, and there will be concierge and spa services, too.

If the delegates thought this convention was about their work (and their party's), they were only half right. There will be roughly 15,000 news media representatives in New York, more than three times the number of delegates, and if the Republican hosts are looking to wine and dine their party colleagues, the city's host committee is also eager to pamper the visiting press corps. For reporters not sufficiently groomed, for example, Barneys New York will be on hand to offer free shoeshines and shaves for men and, perhaps, makeovers for women.

And in a rare collaboration, the city's top concierges have gotten together to help arrange for anything ranging from clean clothing, new shoes, computer repairs or replacement camera parts to a helicopter hop to the airports.

This touch of five-star extravagance, which organizers say has never been offered during a national political convention, is as much about the rivalry between Boston and New York as it is about hoping that a well-fed, well-manicured news media will make for positive news coverage. Some New York honchos are still peeved that the Democrats picked Boston over Manhattan for their nominating convention.

"We wanted to make sure that when the media came to New York after going to Boston, that they would see New York as a place you want to do business, a place that has a level of professionalism you couldn't find anywhere else in the world," said Kevin Sheekey, the president of the New York Host Committee and the driving force behind creating the concierge desk.

The press center at the convention, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, is being set up in the general post office in Midtown, an imposing fortress of a building that sprawls across two city blocks. The center has been connected to the convention site at Madison Square Garden by a $1 million temporary covered bridge over Eighth Avenue. Organizers are already comparing the complex to the Olympic village for the athletes competing in Athens this summer.

The press center, of course, is not much like an Olympic village, especially the menu, which features bagels, lox and whitefish, summer corn, peaches and croque monsieur (that's a fancy way of making ham and cheese sandwiches.)

"We want the press to leave knowing they have been in New York, they have eaten New York," said Mitchel London, whose company Mitchel London Foods will provide catering at the media center along with Fairway, the Upper West Side food emporium. "That means corned beef, hot dogs, cupcakes, all that is delicious."

The food will not be free but, Mr. London said, it will be reasonably priced. He promised not to take advantage of his captive clientele.

But for all the talk of food, the emphasis is going to be on service - the kind of service that is usually associated with a hefty hotel bill. Though the concierges are working as volunteers, anything they arrange, whether tickets or a replacement white shirt, will have to be paid for by the person who made the request. Most news organizations, including The New York Times, have policies that prohibit their employees from taking gifts that exceed a certain dollar value.

Still, Mr. Sheekey takes press pampering very seriously, at least in the context of the convention, and so this will not be some service desk with inexperienced volunteers trying to serve as concierges. Though Barneys New York, the pricey Madison Avenue men's and women's fashion shop, has not yet completed its plans, a spokeswoman said that it would be offering free spa services to men and women. (Pedicures, however, may not be offered, the spokeswoman said.)

And the concierge desk will be staffed by volunteers from some of New York's most luxurious hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton, the New York Palace and the St. Regis. These concierges will likely stand out among other New Yorkers, never appearing to get annoyed even when asked to help dewrinkle a skirt (while it is being worn ) or arrange a last-minute reservation at one of the city's hottest restaurants.

"As long as it is ethical and legal, we'll do it," said Melody R. Williamson, chief concierge at the New York Palace, who has worked with Frederick Bigler, the chief concierge at the Ritz-Carlton New York, to organize the concierge volunteer effort. "We are representing the city. We are talking about making this huge convention a success on a personal level so that any person who comes here says, 'Wow.' "

For those who have not stayed in an opulent or even a semi-opulent hotel, a concierge might be better described as a super-fixer, a kind of personal butler who at his or her best can do anything from helping pick the shoes that go with a particular outfit to getting tickets for a sold-out show. Mr. Bigler and Ms. Williamson take their work seriously. Both wear golden key symbols on their lapel indicating their membership in Les Clefs d'Or, the international association of concierges, and both subscribe to a code of ethics that, for example, prohibits them from taking gratuities from restaurants they refer people to. (Mr. Bigler said they do get a fee from some sales, including theater tickets and car services.)

"The media are real people too, with family and friends," said Mr. Bigler, offering some comfort to a frequently maligned profession. "We want them to feel the warmth of New York City."

Some members of the news media say the doting could prove a big help.

"To be completely serious, at past conventions there would be times when I have had to go out and buy things," said Cokie Roberts, a veteran television and radio commentator who said she has attended 16 conventions. "It started with shoes. I had no notion of how much my feet would be killing me. I'm not willing to wear ugly running shoes."

There are details that still need to be worked out. Security will be extremely tight around Madison Square Garden - indeed, around much of Midtown - and so it may prove as difficult to get shoes delivered to the press center as it is to find a pair that fits properly. Mr. Sheekey said such details will be resolved.

If so, the concierge desk may set a new standard for catering to the press corps - helping lift New York's image, while, some critics say, not doing much for the media's. "The fact that they think we need to be pampered like that does not speak well for us," Ms. Roberts said.

Tucker Carlson, one of the hosts of CNN's "Crossfire,'' was not very concerned about any negative backlash. He said that the concierge desk may help offset some of the unpleasantness the news media will have to contend with as a result of tough security measures. Besides, he seemed to like the idea of being pampered.

"It think it's a marvelous idea," Mr. Carlson said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 21st, 2004, 01:06 AM
July 21, 2004

New York to Appeal Ruling Limiting Searches of Protesters


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that the city would appeal a federal court ruling restricting searches and other police tactics during protests at the Republican National Convention next month .

City officials could not say if they would seek an expedited appeal to ensure a decision before the convention, or which elements of the ruling would be appealed. The ruling, by Judge Robert W. Sweet of Federal District Court in Manhattan, bars general searches of protesters' bags at the convention and the use of closed four-sided pens to contain the demonstrators, but Mr. Bloomberg's comments indicated that it was the Police Department's ability to conduct general searches that was most at issue.

He told reporters at a news conference that he objected to limiting "the ability to search backpacks, not just for this event but for New Year's Eve and other times," and faulted the prohibition of searches "at big gatherings where common sense says if somebody wanted to be a terrorist they might very well show up."

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who said he pressed for the appeal, echoed the mayor's remarks. The prohibition on searches without showing what Judge Sweet labeled a specific threat to public safety is out of line with "the reality of our post-9/11-world" and takes "a valuable tool away from police officers," Mr. Kelly said.

Christopher Dunn, the lead lawyer on the case for the New York Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit in an effort to prevent the police from using tactics that led to injuries to demonstrators during a February 2003 demonstration against the war in Iraq, said he would defend the judge's decision. He expressed surprise at the appeal, given the Police Department's generally positive reaction when the ruling was released.

News of the planned appeal came as a poll indicated that the vast majority of New Yorkers believe that protesters should be permitted to demonstrate in Central Park during the convention, in contrast to the stance taken by Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Kelly.

Convention to Delay Some Cases in City Courts


Moving to free up more police officers during the Republican National Convention, the state's Office of Court Administration said yesterday that it would avoid scheduling trials and hearings in New York City courts that require the presence of officers from Aug. 23 through Sept. 3.

The plan also involves doubling the number of criminal courtrooms open for arraignments in Manhattan during the week of the convention, which begins Aug. 30. Court officials said they feared a flood of arraignments because of the huge scale of protests that are expected on Manhattan streets.

"We never suspend operations, because it is critical that criminal courts are open to the public, but these are challenging times," said Jonathan Lippman, the state's chief administrative judge.

Court officials said the plan would apply to the entire New York City court system, and would affect 600 judges presiding over cases in Housing Court, Family Court and other legal venues. But they said the moves would primarily affect criminal cases, which often require the testimony of police officers.

About 2,000 criminal cases are brought before the city's courts each day in trials, or, more frequently, in other proceedings like pretrial hearings, court officials said. Those cases involve a range of crimes, from such quality-of-life offenses as drinking in public, writing graffiti and committing other misdemeanors handled by the city's 71 criminal court judges, to more serious felony cases, like assault, burglary and murder, that are the province of 125 Supreme Court judges.

David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, said that starting the week before the convention, officials would try to avoid scheduling most trials or hearings that require officers in court. The exceptions, he said, will be cases involving jailed defendants.

He said court officials had decided against postponing proceedings involving jailed defendants during the week of Aug. 23, because they were entitled to have their arguments for release heard as quickly as possible.

But during the week of the convention, he said, even jailed defendants will have to wait. From Aug. 30 through Sept. 3, he said, the intent is to avoid pulling any police officers off the street to testify in a city court proceeding.

Mr. Bookstaver said that the capacity for arraignments in Manhattan would be expanded only during the week of the convention, when large protests are expected. Normally, two courtrooms are set aside during the day and another two at night for the arraignments, all at 100 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan. But during the convention week, he said, that capacity will be doubled, with four courtrooms available during the day and four at night.

If there are an unusually high number of arrests and arraignments during the convention, he said, the police presence on the streets should not be reduced, since police officers are not normally required to attend arraignments.

Mr. Bookstaver said that arraignment capacity would be expanded only in Manhattan because that is where most protests are expected. But, he added, contingency plans have been made to open more courtrooms in other boroughs if needed.

In addition to its plans for courtroom proceedings, Mr. Bookstaver said, the Office of Court Administration will assign its own court officers and security personnel to various security command centers, including one in Madison Square Garden, during the convention to alert the court system should mass arrests take place.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 21st, 2004, 09:06 AM

July 21, 2004

Three out of every four New Yorkers believe protesters should be allowed to use Central Park to demonstrate during the Republican National Convention, according to a new poll.

The results of the Quinnipiac University survey come after the Parks Department rejected a permit application from United for Peace and Justice to stage a 250,000-person rally on the Great Lawn, arguing it would cause significant damage to the grounds.

While 75 percent said the park should be used, 21 percent were against it and 4 percent were undecided.

More Democrats than Republicans favored allowing protesters to use Central Park.

Eighty-one percent of Democrats said it's a good idea, with only 16 percent opposing it. Among Republicans, 57 percent backed Central Park as a protest site, while 39 percent were opposed.

"Whether it's a First Amendment issue or just a convenience question of putting protesters in the park instead of in the street, New York City voters say . . . that protestors should keep on the grass," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.

Both Mayor Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe noted that the city had already granted three permits to protest groups using Central Park for smaller demonstrations.

"We've given permits for protests in the park. We have no problem in letting people protest in the park," Bloomberg said. "But the park cannot handle a protest of about 250,000 people."

Benepe said, "We simply will not approve an event that is dramatically larger than what can safely and comfortably fit in a proposed space and that would do significant damage."

The poll of the 1,119 registered voters was conducted from July 12-18 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 21st, 2004, 09:49 AM
I think it should be recognized that the reason millions of New Yorkers and visitors are enjoying the Central Park is that Central Park Conservancy takes such a good care of it.

Since 1980, the Conservancy does not easily allow large-scale projects or gatherings. How long did it took Christo to get an approval for his Central Park Gates project? 10 years? 20 years? And Christo's installation will not damage the park!

Is United for Peace going to pay to restore the Great Lawn? And it's all for the purpose of having a protest in pleasant surroundings? Mixing business with pleasure? A little protest - a little picnic, pleasant day overall.

They are not going to hear Central Park protesters in Madison Square Garden – it might be Van Cortland Park as well.


From the official website of Central Park:
The Right to Rally and the Great Lawn

Dear Friends of Central Park:

You may have heard of the ongoing debate regarding the request by United for Peace and Justice for a permit to hold a protest rally on the Great Lawn during the Republican National Convention. The Central Park Conservancy fully supports the First Amendment right to congregate in large groups for demonstrations. Our concern is that an event of this magnitude, with 250,000 people expected to attend, would severely damage not only the Great Lawn but also other areas of the Park.

Many of us can remember Central Park when it was an uninviting place with large expanses of dirt and eroded landscapes. In 1980, public-spirited New Yorkers, determined to restore the Park they loved, formed the Central Park Conservancy, a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to restoring, managing, and preserving Central Park for present and future generations. Thousands of New Yorkers who contributed both time and money to the restoration of the Park have, together with the Central Park Conservancy and the Department of Parks & Recreation, transformed it from its abysmal condition during the mid-1960s to the late 1970s to the splendor envisioned by the Park’s designers. As New Yorkers, our investment in Central Park is enormous and one well worth protecting.

If this large public demonstration were to take place on the Great Lawn, it would set a precedent, initiating once again a costly cycle of “restore and destroy,” which is dangerous and not one that a natural environment can endure for very long. The issue goes far beyond maintaining the grass; after demonstrations of this size, large sections of the Park must be closed for several months or as much as a year to allow them to recover. During that time, millions of people who rely on Central Park as a backyard and green oasis would be unable to use it — joggers, soccer players, baseball teams, dog walkers, picnickers, birdwatchers, sunbathers, etc.

We agree that it is important for this rally to be held, but we do not think that the Great Lawn, which was restored in 1997 at a cost of $18.2 million, is the place to do it. The damage that would be done, not just to the Lawn but also to the surrounding landscapes, would be incalculable. Central Park has offered to host other, smaller demonstrations in the Park as long as they are of an appropriate size for the space requested.

We believe that if the public fully understood the consequences of what a large demonstration could do to the landscapes of the Park they would agree that Central Park is not an appropriate location. We are proud of our civil liberties. We enjoy the unusual beauty and delicacy of Central Park. With good judgment, we can have both, without damage to either.

July 21st, 2004, 11:39 AM
Why not use Times Square for the rally? I know it's a traffic tie-up, but other events occur there throughout the year that close it down: parades, New Years, the Cancer Walk......surely the city knows what to do with a rowdy crowd that size in Times Square. Besides, Central Park seems as far removed as the West Side Highway.

July 21st, 2004, 12:11 PM
Great Lawn Battle is over: Anti-war gang to hit highway

Originally published on July 21, 2004

Anti-war activists have agreed to use the West Side Highway for their rally before the GOP convention, ending a tug of war with city officials that began last year, the group was to announce Wednesday.

Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, told The Associated Press that the group felt “forced” by police officials to compromise “because of time pressure.” Group leaders were to announce the decision at a City Hall news conference.

The Aug. 29 march, called “The World Says No to the Bush Agenda,” will begin at 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue, head uptown past convention headquarters at Madison Square Garden, turn west on 34th Street and rally along the West Side Highway.

United for Peace and Justice, which applied for a permit over a year ago, has been engaged in a public struggle with the city for months.

The Parks Department denied their original request to rally on Central Park’s Great Lawn, citing damage caused by the potentially hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that organizers say they expect. Following that setback, the group and city officials spent weeks in meetings aimed at keeping the matter out of court.

Both sides at times have accused the other of stalling negotiations. The anti-war group has staged protests at City Hall, and one morning sent some of its members to meet Mayor Bloomberg as he arrived for work.

Bloomberg at one point claimed the group’s stubborn refusal to compromise was stalling the permit process for other organizations planning to protest the four-day convention, which begins Aug. 30.

His spokesman, Ed Skyler, said Wednesday the city was pleased about the decision.

“We look forward to working out the various logistical details,” Skyler said.

Dobbs said that while the anti-war group agreed to the city’s offer to use the West Side Highway, they still have several concerns about the space, and hope the compromise allows for further discussion and planning.

They are worried about access to drinking water along the highway, which has no shade and will likely be sweltering. Organizers also want to know which of the highway’s lanes will be kept open for emergency vehicles.

A stage at Chambers Street will face north, and the rally could extend for miles along the Hudson river thoroughfare.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday showed that 75 percent of voters said the anti-war group should have been allowed to protest in Central Park.

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 22nd, 2004, 01:39 AM
July 22, 2004

Protesters Accept a Stage Distant From G.O.P. Ears


The group planning the largest protest during the Republican National Convention agreed yesterday to hold a giant rally along the West Side Highway, acceding to the demands of the Bloomberg administration, which opposed the group's effort to demonstrate in Central Park.

"We are not happy about this," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, an antiwar umbrella group. "The clock is ticking; we need to move on," she added. "So, we decided to take the high road here."

More than a year ago, the group began seeking a permit for 250,000 people to rally on the Great Lawn in Central Park on Aug. 29, the day before the convention begins. But the Parks Department rejected that site, saying that the area could not hold that many people and that a huge rally would damage the lawn.

Instead, police officials suggested that demonstrators mass somewhere between 14th and 23rd Streets on Seventh Avenue. From there, they could march north past Madison Square Garden, where the convention will be held, head west on 34th Street to 12th Avenue and then south along the highway to around Chambers Street, where a soundstage for the rally would be set up. Protest organizers and police officials estimate the crowd could stretch as far north as 34th Street.

Protest organizers originally balked at that plan. But in accepting the city's offer yesterday after failed attempts to sway the administration, they conceded that they had been outflanked by officials, who delivered a public ultimatum last week to accept the Hudson River site or take the city to court, which could have led to a long battle with an uncertain outcome.

"In terms of the rally location, we got nothing," Ms. Cagan said, adding that she hoped the raft of public support for a rally in the park would somehow benefit the group in gaining other concessions from the city. "We have a body of experience, we actually know what we're talking about when we go into these meetings," she said. "That should help."

But the acceptance of the highway proposal now brings to the forefront a host of details officials and organizers must hash out.

Chief among them is where officials would place an emergency vehicle lane, how barricades will be configured and how people will be able to join or leave the protest. In addition, organizers say they are concerned about the use of surveillance video cameras and police helicopters, which can make it difficult for demonstrators to hear.

Organizers have asked that the city consider helping to defray the cost of equipment, which Ms. Cagan said would run at least $150,000 more than it would have in Central Park. In addition, organizers are asking the city to help provide access to things like water and transportation, since the new location is far from mass transit and lacks the shade of Central Park.

"If the weather on August 29th is anything like what it was like today, then water is actually a public health issue and a public safety issue," Ms. Cagan said, adding that her group would like to discuss these questions directly with the mayor's office, which has thus far delegated the negotiations to the Police Department.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said the police were "proceeding now with the details to accommodate a safe and peaceful demonstration, including the deployment of barriers as appropriate." He added, "The amenities cited by the organizers are customarily supplied by the demonstrators or organizers themselves."

And there was little indication from the mayor's office that the custom was likely to change. "We're not in the business of providing lunches or sound systems or transportation for permitted events," said Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary. "I think they see some sort of political value in having the city tell them no, so they keep coming up with preposterous demands."

Organizers have argued that the city is providing amenities like free MetroCards to the Republican delegates, but Mr. Skyler said they were being paid for with private donations.

If the protesters "want to find corporate sponsors for their protests, let them go ahead," he said. "New Yorkers shouldn't have to see their tax dollars spent on subsidizing protests."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 22nd, 2004, 01:43 AM
July 22, 2004

Republicans Will Feed the Hungry (While Offering a Few Sound Bites)


Here is a television image that organizers of the Republican National Convention are fantasizing about: Protesters clog the area around Madison Square Garden, inconveniencing commuters and being arrested. Cameras pan to Republican delegates feeding the homeless in the Bronx, packing up supplies for Iraqi schoolchildren, passing time with poor children in a Staten Island day camp.

Starting on Saturday, convention officials will begin a highly organized nationwide campaign to get volunteers to donate blood, feed the hungry and operate community health fairs. Initially, it will be part of a broader effort to draw attention away from the Democratic National Convention. But the campaign - known as Compassion Across America - will continue at the Republican National Convention in New York in August.

"The central theme is to respond to the president's call to provide service in our own communities," said Brian Noyes, the director of delegate and caucus for the Republican convention. "We want to highlight that challenge."

In New York on Sunday, as Democratic delegates gather in Boston, Republican convention volunteers will staff the Lower East Side Food Pantry, and on Monday, the chairman of the New York State Republican Party, Sandy Treadwell, will join delegates on the Upper East Side to pack up supply kits for Iraqi schoolchildren.

Beginning a volunteer drive during the Democratic convention is a small piece of a broader strategy that President Bush's campaign will employ next week in an effort to counter the news coming out of Boston. The drive will pause after the Democratic convention, then heat up again in August when the Republicans hit New York. On Aug. 31, in the middle of the Republican convention, the delegates and their friends will be encouraged to feed the homeless at the Bowery Mission and in the Bronx, pick up litter in Prospect Park and do landscaping in Harlem with Habitat for Humanity.

"Personal politics aside, I hope it is an educational experience," said Roland Lewis, executive director for Habitat for Humanity New York City, who is a Democrat. "These are folks who might not get to Harlem ever in their lives and this gives them a chance to see what a Section 8 house looks like."

The Democrats are less than amused by these Republican efforts. "Volunteerism is the spirit of a compassionate America," said David Wade, a spokesman for Senator John Kerry's campaign. "The problem is that this administration has only been compassionate toward Enron and Halliburton."


Can G.O.P. Bear to See Naked City?


TO the city's host committee for the Republican convention:

STOP! Please.

It's bad enough that delegates will get free MetroCards for subway rides that most will probably not take; help from 10,000 volunteers; and advice from hotel "hospitality concierges," participants in a program "powered by nearly 600 highly trained volunteers," in the words of the NYC Host Committee.

It is bad enough that most delegates will be spirited to Madison Square Garden in express buses, riding in designated lanes. It is bad enough that they have been invited to a night out to see performances of only the most cheery, uncomplicated shows on Broadway. (Full disclosure: The New York Times is helping to sponsor the evening.) But now we learn that reporters will be treated to goodies. Facials and shoeshines. Shaves and spa services from Barney's. Catered food from Mitchel London and Fairway at discount prices. What? Not only is it unethical for journalists to accept freebies or favors, but also, since when do journalists on assignment and facing deadlines have the time for self-indulgence? Maybe the hangers-on, but not the working press corps.

"Give me a break!" said Gina Lubrano, ombudsman for The San Diego Union-Tribune. "Reporters are working, not playing. And we don't take something for nothing."

The idea of a political reporter taking a pause for pampering fights the imagination. As does the image of a smiling, friendly New York, the bother-free city that the host committee seems intent on creating for its Republican guests. New York may be a real nice place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. But will it be New York?

All cities, understandably, primp for big events. But other places clean their streets and scrub their statues. New York seems intent on sanitizing its soul. All sensible New Yorkers want conventioneers to admire the city. But their city, the real one, not an unrecognizable parallel version.

New York's approach to holding the convention in late summer seems as out of kilter as Edward I. Koch's exhortations in a TV commercial urging New Yorkers to "make nice" to visiting Republicans. It was not being nice that accounted for Mr. Koch's popularity in his heyday as mayor. It was his candor and frequent explosions of public crankiness - prized New York qualities.

New Yorkers can be as kind and sympathetic as anyone else, as their response to Sept. 11 demonstrated. But mostly, New Yorkers are direct, no-frills types.

THE question we pose here is this: Will the delegates glimpse that city, or will they be so protected with comforts and lavished with courtesies that they might as well be on the luxury cruise liner in the Hudson River, the cocoonlike ship that a Republican leader once proposed as a floating hotel and entertainment center for thousands of convention delegates?

"I think once you step outside from the hotel you are outside the cocoon," said Kevin Sheekey, president of the host committee, confident that delegates will take the subway and walk the city.

But will they if they can take a bus, or get a special tour with one another, or take their every need to their accommodating concierge? "We want to wow them," said Frederick Bigler, chef concierge at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South "We will have a desk in every hotel lobby and are going to stock them as much as we can, thinking of last-minute emergencies like wrinkle removers, collar stays, underwear, a new white shirt, things like that. We want to anticipate their needs, take care of their requests and go beyond."

Fine. Luxury is lovely. But if the conventioneers don't see the real New York they will be missing something. It's one tough city, where getting through the day can feel like a victory. Every New Yorker knows this feeling: one more jostle, one more nasty remark and that's it. Out of here.

But there is always a reward that makes the struggle worthwhile, and we are not talking about a thing, but about a sense of the city's special nature. It can happen walking down a street and seeing the contrasts of continents. Finding oneself in a compelling conversation with a stranger. Sitting in a subway car reading the faces and imagining the lives behind them. Hearing a talented subway musician, lump in throat. Wandering through Central Park and trying, with no success, to envision the city without it.

None of that will happen in a hotel lobby or on a chartered bus. And so, a bit of advice from one New Yorker to convention delegates: get out of the cocoon and see the city for what it is. It is awful and it is great - and never, thank you, is it ever nice.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 22nd, 2004, 10:54 AM
Vendors fret they'll be carted off

Jobed Ali (r.) helps lead fellow vendors in protest outside Madison Square Garden yesterday.


Hot dog vendor Sikdar Khair fears politics could soon drive him away from his prime location in front of Madison Square Garden.

With the Republican National Convention starting in little more than a month, Khair and other vendors who work the lucrative sidewalks around the Garden suspect they will be squeezed out for at least a week.

"What will happen to us when we have to move?" Khair asked at a rally yesterday organized by the newly formed Madison Square Street Vendors Association. "We are very poor, and we earn very little. Our families will be without any food."

Khair, who said he makes as much as $150 a day from his post at 32nd St. and Eighth Ave., joined about 20 other vendors outside Madison Square Garden. They appealed to Mayor Bloomberg for answers about when they will have to relocate before the convention.

"The city has a plan for the stores, the community," said Sean Basinski, the director of the Street Vendor Project. "They even have a plan for the homeless but they have no plan for the vendors."

Basinski figures as many as 100 vendors could be forced to move during the convention.

A statement from NYPD officials confirmed the vendors' suspicions that they could be sent on an unwelcome vacation.

"It is anticipated that the vendors in the immediate vicinity of Madison Square Garden will be restricted during the week of the convention and a day or two prior to the event," the statement said.

Originally published on July 22, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 22nd, 2004, 10:59 AM
Khair, who said he makes as much as $150 a day from his post at 32nd St. and Eighth Ave.

$150 a day? So that is how much they make on average... Is not that bad for hot dogs and other stuff that doesnt required too much preparation. But I wonder how many hours though.

But seriously the city should be thinking of somehow to finding other spots for them while the GOP takes over the area.

July 22nd, 2004, 12:29 PM
NYPD Floats A Prison Ferry At Convention

by Ben Smith

When Tom DeLay and the Republicans proposed spending the week of the Republican National Convention on a cruise liner in New York Harbor, they were laughed off the water.

A few months later, however, the New York Police Department was mulling its own harbor cruise—a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry for unruly convention protesters.

The NYPD considered turning the troubled commuter ferry into a prison barge for some of the thousands of activists who could be arrested during the convention. A police official approached the city’s Department of Transportation in May with the ferry plan, one city official said. And Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne confirmed that converting the ferry into a floating prison "was discussed as an option."

But after stiff resistance from the Department of Transportation, the notion was apparently dropped.

"A very cursory inquiry was made by the Police Department, but our ferry division told them that all of the boats would be needed for use," said Tom Cocola, the agency’s spokesman.

Instead, city officials are readying unused space in regular jails, which are conveniently empty in this low-crime era. In an extreme case, the vacant Brooklyn House of Detention in downtown Brooklyn and the Queens House of Detention in Kew Gardens could be reopened, said the spokesman for the Department of Corrections, John Mohan.

"Even without two facilities that are offline, there’s still our regular capacity we have available … for a political convention or whatever else may happen to cause a spike in our population," Mr. Mohan said. And in a crunch, "we have literally thousands of beds that we could use," he said.

That the ferry plan was even considered attests to the sheer volume of arrests anticipated during the four days of the convention, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in Madison Square Garden. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and other law-enforcement officials have said that they will be ready to process as many as 1,000 arrests each day. That worst-case scenario would mark the largest set of mass arrests in America since May Day, 1971, when the last major protest of the Vietnam War ended with police and National Guardsmen herding 13,000 demonstrators onto the playing field at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

"There is the potential for mass arrests this time," said Miami Police Chief John Timoney, a former top official in the New York Police Department who was responsible for security at the Democratic National Convention here in 1992.

The behind-the-scenes scramble for prison space underlines the massive security challenges that face political conventions and other major American events, and it offers a glimpse at the sprawling set of preparations concealed behind those friendly ads starring Ed Koch and an elephant. Even as they scramble for jail space, officials are collecting antidotes to various poisons and studying the effects of a bomb blast on Madison Square Garden. They’re also setting up barriers in city streets and bringing in detectors for biological and chemical toxins.

Morbid Plans

Most of those preparations remained veiled in secrecy. But a glance back at the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York—set in a time of less controversy and a less obvious terror threat—suggests the morbid plans being laid.

Mr. Timoney, then the police inspector responsible for convention security, recalls that his department had no reason to expect mass arrests and didn’t make very many. (In Philadelphia in 2000, where Mr. Timoney was also police chief, more than 400 demonstrators were arrested.) But even back in 1992, city officials did prepare for a catastrophic terror attack.

"We created a temporary morgue with enough body bags for a couple thousand people—just in case, God forbid," Mr. Timoney said. The morgue occupied the huge loading docks at the Farley Post Office, which will be used as the media center for this year’s convention.

Protest leaders say they’re worried that the intense security preparations—and the focus on jails—will lead to unnecessary arrests.

"We’re concerned that the Police Department is spending too much time worrying about where to put arrestees and not enough making sure that the constitutional rights of protesters are respected," said the spokesman for a leading anti-war group, United for Peace and Justice. The group is battling the city for a chance to protest on Central Park’s Great Lawn, rather than the police’s preferred strip of the West Side Highway. "With the West Side Highway rally site, perhaps the Police Department is hoping to push us directly from the rally site onto the boat," he said.

Protesters are making their own plans to respond to mass arrests.

Simone Levine, a member of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, said 120 legal-aid lawyers would be staffing the eight courtrooms—twice the usual number—that are expected to be open for arraignments during the convention week. (By law, arrestees must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest.) The National Lawyers Guild will also staff each courtroom, offering representation to demonstrators too well-off to qualify for Legal Aid.

Ms. Levine said she didn’t expect many protesters to stage civil disobedience with the intent of being arrested.

"We haven’t heard of a lot of people attempting to get arrested. We’ve heard quite the opposite," Ms. Levine said. "A lot of people are scared that they’re getting arrested while they engage in peaceful protest."

You may reach Ben Smith via email at: bensmith@observer.com.

This column ran on page 1 in the 7/26/2004 edition of The New York Observer.

July 23rd, 2004, 02:25 AM
July 23, 2004


A Green Light on the Road to Protest


IT may be only July, with late December looking far away, but curiosity breeds a question about the traditional New Year's Eve celebrations in New York:

Will City Hall move them from Times Square to the West Side Highway?

The question is not as weird as it may sound. The reason for asking it is that the Bloomberg administration has declared Times Square off limits for a large antiwar and anti-Bush demonstration planned for Aug. 29, a day before the Republicans open their national convention at Madison Square Garden.

Central Park is off limits, too. So is Third Avenue. In short, so is every place proposed by the protesters, who will rally - 250,000 of them, by present estimate - under the banner of a coalition called United for Peace and Justice. They have been relegated instead to the West Side Highway, with a speakers platform set up at Chambers Street, roughly three miles from the Garden as the pigeon flies.

As you may already know, the group's first choice for a rally was the Great Lawn in the park. No way, the Parks Department said. Bad for the grass. It's one thing to have tens of thousands of Mendelssohn lovers spread across the lawn for an outdoor performance by the New York Philharmonic. But tens of thousands gathered in the same place to express a political opinion? That won't do.

Not everyone accepts the department's reasoning. But O.K., Central Park is a jewel that arguably deserves kid-gloves treatment. How about Third Avenue, or better yet, Times Square?

"Times Square is the symbolic and real heart of Manhattan," said William K. Dobbs, a spokesman for the coalition. Quite so. Not only that but there is also no grass to worry about in Times Square (unless you count the occasional whiff of cannabis that floats through the not fully sanitized neighborhood). Besides, 250,000 people amount to a walk in the park, if you'll pardon the expression, compared with the million or more who fill the square on New Year's Eve.

What's wrong with that location? As it happens, it is less than half a mile from the Garden and right by Broadway theaters that will throw their doors open to convention delegates that same day.

"It would be disruptive in terms of traffic to have the rally there," Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said yesterday. "Our planners came up with what they thought would be the best solution."

But that brings us back to the question posed at the outset. Wouldn't a million people disrupt a public square far more than 250,000? In the name of consistency, do the police plan to move New Year's Eve celebrators to the highway, too?

You may not be shocked that Mr. Browne's answer was no.

The leaders of United for Peace and Justice were not surprised, either. On Wednesday, they bowed to reality and agreed to take to the highway, unappealing as that alternative was to them. They could, however, claim one victory. The city acknowledged the legitimacy of their desire to protest near the convention site by giving them permission to march past the Garden on the way to the rally.

IN an age when the police in some cities have set up "free speech zones" for dissenters, often well beyond their targets' hearing range, location is central to interpreting the First Amendment's guarantee of the people's right "peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Nor is this the first time that protesters have clashed with City Hall on this score, under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg or his predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani. In 1998, you may recall, Mr. Giuliani wanted to exile the wildly misnamed Million Youth March to Randalls Island instead of allowing its hundreds of participants, led by the anti-white and anti-Semitic Khallid Abdul Muhammad, to gather in Harlem. A judge ruled that the mayor was out of line.

The issue is not going away.

"Because location can be central to a protest's effectiveness, the First Amendment allows the government only narrow discretion to move a demonstration away from the spot picked by the organizers," said Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

This time, the protesters had to settle for a spot picked by the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly. His attitude was "my way or the highway," lamented Leslie Cagan, the national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice.

She was off by a tad. In this case, Mr. Kelly's way was the highway.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 23rd, 2004, 02:27 AM
July 23, 2004

Convention Visitors to See More Than Just the Garden


Delegates to the Republican National Convention are going to be everywhere. They will be barbecuing in center field at Shea Stadium, watching an Olympic athletic exhibition at Chelsea Piers, touring museums in Harlem and Queens, shopping in SoHo and Greenwich Village, and strolling through the Bronx Zoo .

While the Republicans organizing the actual convention have been reluctant to divulge their plans, the New York City Host Committee has been eager to lay out every way it hopes to coddle the 50,000 delegates, media representatives and other guests who will be attending the event, to be held Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

With its latest announcement, the host committee, which represents the city and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, laid out an ambitious schedule that would take the delegates and the press to virtually every corner of the city. While that means some added inconvenience for residents who will have to deal with the added security, even some Democrats acknowledged it could be a net plus for the city's image and for neighborhood merchants.

"From a local point of view, unless it was humongous, I think they would be happy to get people into the neighborhood," said Councilman Bill de Blasio, a Democrat from Brooklyn and an early backer of Senator John Edwards.

Among the events planned is a concert in Central Park by the New York Pops with the Gatlin Brothers, country music performers; it is expected to draw 5,000 people. Mayor Bloomberg has made the park off limits to protesters who wanted to gather, in admittedly much larger numbers, on the Great Lawn.

The convention organizers took control of Madison Square Garden this week and quickly went to work transforming the space into what will ultimately become an elaborate set for the four-day convention. William Harris, the convention's chief executive officer, opened the Garden doors yesterday for a peak at the early preparations.

As Mr. Harris spoke, the Freeman Companies, a general contractor based in Dallas, oversaw construction of an intricate steel platform that will raise the floor of the Garden by nine and a half feet. Those attending will actually enter the arena from the sixth floor, organizers said. In what has become a trademark, Mr. Harris tossed out details - like the total amount of steel that will be used in raising the floor (more than 350,000 pounds.)

But when asked a question about what would be happening where during the convention, Mr. Harris gave another trademark response: "No, I know exactly where it is, I'm just not telling you."

Kevin Sheekey, the president of the host committee, however, announced that the city would have theme days during the convention. To kick off convention week, the host committee has organized "Fashion and Retail Day,'' with fashion shows and shopping tours, for Monday, Aug. 30. On history day, Sept. 2, the Department of Records and Information Services will hold a seminar, "Trace Your Genealogy," on Ellis Island.

The list of city-sponsored perks has produced some grumbling, particularly among those who plan to come to the convention not to celebrate - but to protest. Bill Dobbs, the spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, which sought to hold the rally in the park, was particularly acerbic.

"It's another glaring example of kid glove treatment for the convention while a huge antiwar protest is relegated to miles of pavement," he said referring to the site along the West Side where the protesters will be permitted to gather.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 23rd, 2004, 09:43 AM
RNC gives us
Liberty at Radio City

Radio City Music Hall is playing host to the New York Liberty, which plays the Detroit Shock tomorrow night.


The last time New York Liberty star Crystal Robinson was at Radio City Music Hall, she watched a hip-hop concert from the plush seats in the audience.

Yesterday, she stood on the stage-turned-basketball-court, looking forward to tomorrow night, when the Liberty will become the first pro basketball team to play at the famed venue.

"This is a great setting," Robinson said after a practice. "When I think about people who've performed onstage and how we're here, that's big."

Forced out of Madison Square Garden to allow for the Republican convention preparations, the Liberty will play six games at Radio City - two in July and four in September. The WNBA will take an August hiatus to allow its top players to compete in the Olympics.

Liberty Guard Becky Hammon said her parents are flying in from South Dakota for the historic 7:30 p.m. game against the Detroit Shock, which will feature the Rockettes at halftime.

"When everyone walks in, I think it'll give them a little bit of goose bumps," said Hammon, a favorite of fans for her killer three-pointers.

The yellow stage curtains have been drawn as part of the transformation and the stage is now covered with the wood-planked floor of the Garden. Five scoreboards and three jumbo screens give it more of a sports-arena feel.

Radio City seats almost 6,000 people in theater-style seats, compared with the nearly 20,000 who fit in the Garden.

"I think it's pretty unbelievable," said coach Pat Coyle. "It's intimate and cozy. When you get fans screaming and yelling, it'll be an unbelievable home-team advantage."

Originally published on July 23, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 23rd, 2004, 03:56 PM
Mayor urges normalcy during GOP convention

July 23, 2004

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that New Yorkers should not avoid Pennsylvania Station during the Republican convention and criticized the Long Island Rail Road for advising it.

The LIRR posted an advisory this week on its Web site, suggesting alternatives to using Penn Station, which is under Madison Square Garden, where the GOP gathering will be held. The railroad suggested that passengers switch to subway trains at its Brooklyn and Queens stations, for instance.

But on his WABC radio show Friday, Mr. Bloomberg advised New Yorkers to "go about your business," saying that the city is equipped to handle major events.

The railroad is not planning any changes to its service, but all but two street exits to Penn Station will be closed, and a number of streets around the station will be barred to vehicle and/or pedestrian traffic during the convention.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

July 24th, 2004, 02:08 AM
July 24, 2004

New York Police and Fire Unions to Picket G.O.P. Events


Stephen J. Cassidy, center, and Patrick J. Lynch, president of the firefighters and police officers' unions, respectively, announced plans yesterday to picket some side events of the Republican National Convention.

The presidents of New York City's police and firefighter unions sought to turn up the heat on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in their contract battle by threatening yesterday to picket various subsidiary events during the Republican National Convention next month.

Borrowing a tactic from Boston's police union, New York's police and firefighters warned that if the unions do not reach a contract before the convention begins, they might picket parties and receptions for Republican state delegations.

Stephen J. Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said, "We intend to make our case and to highlight the lack of respect that the mayor has for the firefighters and cops, and if we have to picket the parties that the mayor holds to do that, we will."

The police and firefighters denied that their threat to picket various Republican parties would violate a pledge by the city's Central Labor Council not to disrupt the convention, a pledge aimed at attracting the convention and its economic benefits.

Al O'Leary, a spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said, "Picketing a party at the Marriott Marquis has nothing to do with Madison Square Garden," which will house the Republican convention.

Unions leaders said they would engage in informational picketing over the next few weeks, without urging people not to cross the lines. But they said their effort might escalate into full-fledged picket lines that they ask others to honor.

The unions hope that pressuring Mr. Bloomberg before the convention will cause him to increase his wage offer. Explaining the picketing plans, Patrick J. Lynch, the P.B.A.'s president, said, "We have a Republican administration in the White House, Statehouse and City Hall, and we need the White House and Statehouse to know that the mayor is not treating us fairly."

Mr. Bloomberg, on his weekly radio program on WABC with John Gambling, ridiculed the union leaders yesterday morning. "I love it - they're yelling and screaming they're going to pressure the Republican Party to give us more money so they'll get raises," he said. "No. 1, the administration doesn't give money, it's Congress. No. 2, there isn't a chance in a zillion that Congress is going to vote monies for New York City unions. Let's get serious here."

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention, which begins in Boston on Monday, have been thrown off balance by the plans of Boston's police union to picket the welcoming parties being held this Sunday for 30 state delegations. With many Democrats unwilling to cross picket lines, the Michigan and Ohio delegations have canceled their welcoming parties.

Typically less sympathetic to labor, Republicans are generally more willing to cross picket lines. But labor leaders said it would be awkward for Republican delegates to cross picket lines set up by New York's firefighters and police - the workers hailed for their heroism after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Mr. Bloomberg has urged the police, firefighters and teachers to accept the same amount accepted by the largest municipal union, District Council 37: a 5 percent raise over three years. But they have picketed and distributed fliers this week outside Madison Square Garden, insisting that a 5 percent raise is inadequate.

Mr. Bloomberg restated his position that if the unions want more than the 5 percent, they should agree to money-saving measures to finance larger raises.

"Let's change leadership of these unions, and put in people who care about the union members, and sit down and try to find a way to generate productivity savings so that we can pay our municipal workers more," Mr. Bloomberg said.

The police and fire unions - both without a contract for two years - held a news conference yesterday outside the Garden, announcing that they have rented two trucks to crisscross the city, carrying mobile billboards that criticize the mayor.

One billboard reads: "Billionaire Bloomberg says pay for your own raises. Police and Firefighters pay every day . . . in blood." Both billboards urge New Yorkers to call 311 to urge the mayor to give the police and firefighters "a real raise."

Mr. Bloomberg lambasted the union leaders for organizing the protests. "You've got to remember that a lot of this is not driven by what the union members want," he said on his radio program. "It's driven by the union leaders who are running for re-election all the time, and they've got to show that they're stronger than everybody else. And so they go out there and yell and scream." Saying the city could not afford the raises the police, firefighters and teachers sought, Mr. Bloomberg said, "We have enormous deficits staring us in the face."

Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, who won re-election in April with 88 percent of the vote, criticized Mr. Bloomberg's remarks. "I find it puzzling that when we exercise some of the limited rights we have, such as the right to protest, the mayor becomes very nasty and vituperative," she said. "There is an easy way to cure this, and that is get to the bargaining table and to bargain in good faith, instead of sounding like a broken record to accept the same contract as D.C. 37."

Several officials with the police and firefighters noted that the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, after threatening for weeks to picket various events during the Democratic convention, received a 14.5 percent raise over four years through an arbitrator's decision on Thursday.

"We're green with envy," said Mr. O'Leary, the P.B.A. spokesman. His union wants an arbitrator to render a decision to resolve its contract dispute.

With pay levels higher in several suburbs, the union insists that the mayor's offer is far too low to resolve the problems the city faces in retaining and recruiting police officers.

Responding to the unions' threats to picket various convention activities, Jordan Barowitz, a City Hall spokesman, said: "The hard-working members of the Police and Fire Departments would be better served by union leaders who had the guts to negotiate a contract at the bargaining table instead of engaging in lame theatrics."

Paul Elliott, a spokesman for the New York City Host Committee, said: "The Republican convention is creating jobs and boosting wages for working people at what is a usually slow time in the city's economy. Labor was and remains the city's partner in planning for the Republican convention."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 24th, 2004, 02:09 AM
July 24, 2004

For a Republican Everyman, a Five-Star Accommodation


When William D. Harris finishes up a long day of work planning the Republican National Convention, he has a driver take him to his home away from home in New York City - the Ritz-Carlton New York.

Mr. Harris, the chief executive officer of the convention, has tried since arriving in New York months ago to present himself as an Everyman, the point person in a Republican effort aimed at getting to know New York City and its people. But his choice of accommodations has rankled some people working to organize the convention, who say it undermines any populist image he has tried to promote.

"Some people are saying it just doesn't look right for the head of the committee to be staying at the Ritz-Carlton," said a person who works with the planners of the convention and who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. "It feeds into negative perceptions people have of the Republican Party."

The convention operation is, effectively, a multimillion-dollar business with Mr. Harris at the top of the food chain. He is paid an annual salary of $180,000, similar to what the C.E.O. of the Democratic convention is paid, and is provided with a driver and a car to take him around the city.

Mr. Harris, like much of his staff, comes from outside New York. In his case, he calls Virginia home. But unlike his staff members, most of whom are living in temporary corporate apartments in Manhattan, Mr. Harris selected his own five-star accommodations. The person who works with the convention planners said that Mr. Harris received a reduced rate for the room of $9,500 a month - or $57,000 for a six-month period from April through September.

Mark Pfeifle, the director of communications for the convention, said that for security reasons he could not discuss where any staff members were living. Regarding Mr. Harris's compensation, he said: "This is Bill's ninth convention. He is running an operation that will invest tens of millions of dollars in one of the largest and most important events that happens every four years. He is paid accordingly."

Former Mayor Edward I. Koch said he did not see any problem with Mr. Harris's living in the Ritz-Carlton, noting that most major donors who had contributed to the convention have probably stayed in similar hotels. "I think it's much ado about nothing," said Mr. Koch, who is helping to promote the convention for the city. "The Ritz is a nice hotel. It's not the most luxurious in this town."

But the very image of a Republican political official living at the Ritz-Carlton provided an easy target for those already suspicious of Mr. Harris's outreach efforts, which include volunteer projects around New York City. "If he wants to experience real New Yorkers, he better make sure he is talking to the staffers at the Ritz, because most regular New Yorkers don't stay there," said Rachel Leon, executive director of Common Cause New York, a nonpartisan government watchdog group.

A room at the Ritz may also not be the best way to spend nearly $10,000 a month on temporary housing in New York, said Tory Baker Masters, of the Intrepid New Yorker, a relocation consulting company in Manhattan. For that money, she said, "You could get a fabulous two-bedroom and a wraparound terrace with great views."

And she said that with extra maid service and a few takeout menus, services would be nearly comparable to those of a hotel, but would mean living more "like a New Yorker as opposed to a tourist."

The operation for planning the convention, which is scheduled for Aug. 29 through Sept. 2, is split into two wings. The Committee on Arrangements, which Mr. Harris works with, is the political wing and is responsible for planning all the events inside Madison Square Garden, where the convention will be held. The New York City Host Committee is the finance arm, responsible for raising tens of millions of dollars to help pay for events to promote the city. However, the host committee has agreed in a contract with the arrangements committee to finance everything from rent for offices for the convention staff (about $2 million) to long-term housing for staff members (budgeted at $2.3 million). The contract will also pay for a car service for executives, officials said.

Lewis M. Eisenberg, one of the chairmen of the host committee, said he had not heard any complaints about Mr. Harris's decision to stay at the Ritz-Carlton. "He's a guy who works 18 to 24 hours a day, so no matter where he stays, he's not there much," Mr. Eisenberg said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 25th, 2004, 10:23 AM
RNC-ya later: N.Y.ers
Many plan to flee city during GOP gathering


While the Republicans are taking New York, New Yorkers may be taking a collective vacation.

"I don't want to be around here for that week - not even for the security issues so much, but because of the hassles," said Paul Mrockowski, 26, who has planned his vacation to coincide with the convention.

He is not alone.

Thousands of New Yorkers are looking to split the last week of August, hoping to get as far as possible from the terrorism threats, the oppressive heat and the aggravation of having to navigate past conventioneers, police barricades and masses of protesters.

"It's going to be crazy," said Kassandra Duran, 29, an office manager from Fort Washington, who is in search of a travel pal for a Caribbean cruise.

Many are making plans to at least work from their vacation homes in Long Island, the Jersey Shore or upstate while President Bush takes in his party's applause from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 5-to-1, many didn't hide their desire to avoid the pro-Bush crowds.

Mrockowski, who works for a midtown financial firm, is part of a growing number of residents trying to make a buck by subletting their apartments while they are away. Hundreds have posted offers on the craigslist.org Web site.

"You want to be here during Republican Convention, I do not," read one posting for a rental last week.

One upper West Side apartment owner who feared a terrorist attack during the GOP powwow is trying to fund his trip to the Jersey Shore by renting out his place.

He declined to give his real name, however, because he feared his co-op board in the heavily Democratic neighborhood would be furious if he allowed any Bush supporters into the building. "My co-op board has standards," he quipped.

Possible terrorist attacks are on the minds of many people booking their tickets out of town.

"I'm listening to the news right now and they are talking about bombs and terrorism and all that," said Teyah Swindle, 29, of Brooklyn, who will visit her brother in Detroit.

On UrbanBaby.com, an Internet message board for the stroller set, nervous moms wondered whether it was safe to keep kids in the city that week.

Some wrote that they were stocking up on potassium iodide, a pill that prevents a person's thyroid from absorbing radiation in the event of a nuclear attack.

New Yorkers aren't alone in their worries. A Marist College poll this month found 66% of Americans feared there would be a terrorist attack during the Republican convention.

Some businesses are even banking on the desire to bolt.

Zipcar, the service that rents cars, is reminding its customers that as crazy a place as New York tends to be, "it's going to be even crazier once the GOP takes over the town," the company said on its Web site.

Some businesses reported that there are so many employees requesting vacations that they plan to operate with skeleton crews, if at all.

Charlie Franchino, a chiropractor in Greenwich Village, quipped, "It's going to be stressful for New Yorkers with all these Republicans walking around."

Originally published on July 25, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 25th, 2004, 10:28 AM
He declined to give his real name, however, because he feared his co-op board in the heavily Democratic neighborhood would be furious if he allowed any Bush supporters into the building. "My co-op board has standards," he quipped.

Oh I don't blame him. But those are really big standards. The thing is, if some republican moves to the apartment then the neighbors will ask questions of the tenant origins. Co-ops like to do that. I think he is in trouble already.

July 25th, 2004, 10:32 AM

July 25, 2004

Cops will descend this week on Times Square, Central Park, the World Trade Center site, and other popular destinations for Republican National Convention delegates, to clear out hookers, drug dealers, pickpockets, illegal peddlers and scam artists.

They'll also round up homeless people — and encourage them to head to shelters instead of staying on the streets, according to police.

"These delegates, whenever they visit any spot in New York, they're going to think that except for the bright lights they're back home in Iowa or Kansas," said one police official involved in the sweep.

Police, who did a similar scrubbing in 1992 when the Democrats held their convention here, will use cops from the narcotics, vice, fraud and warrant units, along with the peddler squad.

The big difference from 12 years ago is that there's much less crime for them to combat these days.

"Cleaning up spots in '92 was like shooting fish in a barrel," said one top cop. "Today it's like finding a needle in a haystack."

One new area of attention will be high-end call girls who set up shop at fancy hotels.

Cops plan to reach out to hotel security executives in a bid to uproot the prostitutes.

But they'll also alert fellow officers in Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx to be prepared for a possible influx of working girls.

Police performed an anti-terrorism drill yesterday in Brooklyn. At one point, 70 patrol cars convened at Atlantic Avenue and Fort Greene Place between the Atlantic Center Mall and the LIRR yards.

In addition, police will strictly enforce quality-of-life laws, ticketing people who drink in the streets or commit other infractions.

The get-tough approach, beginning Wednesday, will be mixed with a kinder, gentler attitude toward the homeless.

One police official said cops will do their best to convince people sleeping on the streets that shelters have improved — and are cleaner and safer than in the past.

All told, the NYPD will deploy some 10,000 cops during the convention to keep things calm through the end of the event.

"We have this image of being the safest big city in the country," said one senior police supervisor.

"And we want to make sure it stays that way after the convention."

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 26th, 2004, 03:05 AM
July 26, 2004

Contest Between Liberties and Security at Convention


When city officials recently denied a permit for use of the Great Lawn in Central Park for what could become the largest protest of the Republican National Convention, they cited potential damage to the grass as their chief concern.

But according to a horticultural expert who worked on refurbishing the lawn, it was designed to withstand the abuse of large crowds since the grass was planted in a special soil mix so that it could take the weight and traffic without reverting to the great dust bowl it had once been.

In rejecting the notion of political protest on the Great Lawn, officials clearly had something more on their minds than just the health of the bluegrass, ryegrass and fescue planted there. In fact, the decision to move the expected 250,000 demonstrators of United for Peace and Justice away from the park to the far West Side of Manhattan has become the clearest illustration yet of the Bloomberg administration's fundamental feelings about civil protest, an often-tense relationship that has been deeply affected by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's distaste for disorder.

In an interview on Friday, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly cited the terror attacks as the principal reason why the protesters, no less than any other Americans, must face new limits on their liberties, as much for their own safety as the city's.

"The danger is that people think that we're doing it somehow to intimidate a demonstration, so that's kind of the dilemma we find ourselves in," Mr. Kelly said, adding that any congregation of significant numbers of people constitutes a terrorist target because of the potential for mass casualties.

"When we bring these issues up, it's: 'Why are you hiding behind the terrorist threat? You're looking to restrict demonstrations just because you don't want demonstrations,' " he said. "I think demonstrators have to recognize that everybody's lives have changed, and they need some accommodation and some acceptance of the fact that it's a different environment that we're all living in now." He added that he has seen few signs the demonstrators recognize that.

Many free-speech advocates and protest organizers are bitter about the administration's decision to declare vast swaths of Central Park, like the Great Lawn and the North Meadow, off-limits to protest for fear of damage to the turf.

"The parks are not too precious for protests that don't have a libretto," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, noting that the city regularly allows audiences for classical music and opera on the grass. "The city can't take a time-honored public space out of circulation. I think putting the park off-limits to protest is a serious problem, and it's one that is not going to go away and will ultimately end up in the courts if it doesn't change."

Indeed, the fight over Central Park reflects the degree to which the city's constant refurbishing appears to be about to collide with its traditional role as a hub for free speech. As the city's public spaces have become ever-more welcome gathering spots for residents, workers and tourists, they have become more complicated for those wishing to organize large protests.

"There has been a closing up of public space where you can have a demonstration," said Leslie Cagan, a veteran organizer who is coordinating the huge protest by United for Peace and Justice on Aug. 29, the day before the convention begins. "Some of that has good intentions, parks that get renovated where they put in sculptures and benches," she said, adding that some city plazas had been improved in similar ways. "It's all very nice if you're going for lunch, but it means that there really isn't any place where you can assemble a large crowd. You can still demonstrate, but you don't get the same sense of a whole."

Parks Department officials counter that they are not closing the park to protesting, and cite permits they have issued for smaller rallies, including one granted Friday to the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women, which had originally sought the Great Lawn, for about 50,000 people to protest on the East Meadow. The parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said in a recent interview that it was a more appropriate location for protest activities and would remain so even if renovated, because its surface, largely bare dirt, is not susceptible to the same kind of damage.

The standoff between the city and United for Peace and Justice has left each side angry and mistrustful of the other. City officials argue that they are letting the protesters have their say while minimizing the disruption to the rest of the city, a Bloomberg administration priority, but the protesters, who ultimately settled on a rally site along the West Side Highway, feel they are being forced like barely tolerated stepchildren into a marginal location with no meaning for average New Yorkers.

"Protesters think about having a peaceful demonstration," said Robert J. McGuire, a security consultant who was police commissioner in the early 1980's when demonstrators held a huge Central Park rally against nuclear weapons. "But the Police Department is always doing the worst-case planning exercise: What if a bomb goes off in the middle of a demonstration? It's just a very different perspective."

That perspective was profoundly altered by the attacks on the World Trade Center. Since then, law enforcement officials in the city, like their counterparts across the country, have grappled with balancing the hovering terror threat and ordinary crowd-control issues with the right to demonstrate.

Commissioner Kelly said many police tactics considered intimidating or chilling by protest organizers - the whirring helicopters, the long stretches of metal barricades, the bag searches, the heavily armed Hercules teams - are simply the needed security elements in these times at any large gathering, whether to protest the war in Iraq or to celebrate the opening of the professional football season.

Still, even the worst street protests in recent years, like the rampage through Seattle during the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999, produced mostly vandalism and looting, not terrorism. The tendency of the Bloomberg administration to invoke the fear of terrorism when speaking of protest has led many to wonder whether the mayor is simply placing too high a premium on order at the expense of civil liberties.

"Giving people the right to direct-petition for the redress of grievances is sloppy, but that's the way that democracy works," said Douglas Muzzio, a professor at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, acknowledging that the city faces legitimate security issues. "But there's a difference between civic breakdown - between high crime rates, dirty streets and subways that don't work - and a structured, organized demonstration. I don't know if this administration fears that, or the perception of it, but there's just a dislike of disorder."

The distinction between terror and anarchy, however, is often too narrow for police officials, who are obliged to prepare for and to quell disruption in whatever form it takes.

"In terms of policing it, in terms of trying to prevent these acts, they kind of morph to a certain extent," Mr. Kelly said. "They come together in a way and make it very difficult for the authorities, for the police to distinguish one from the other." Then too, it is always possible, he said, for terrorists to infiltrate a protest.

Still, protest organizers and civil libertarians point to what they consider missteps by the Bloomberg administration that have led to the suspicion that officials want to restrict freedom of speech and assembly. While they prefer this administration to that of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, they still say there have been some questionable tactics.

"Giuliani was ruthless in his attacks on the First Amendment, and the Bloomberg administration is on a totally different plane and has at least shown a certain amount of flexibility in certain important regards," said Ms. Lieberman, whose group, the New York Civil Liberties Union, has been negotiating with the city for protests during the convention on behalf of several organizations.

Still, she said, officials have made "terrible mistakes," including refusing to allow marching during the Feb. 15, 2003, war protest, and using a "demonstration debriefing form" that asked people who had been arrested at a political event for their educational and protest history. (The form has since been abandoned.)

For now, the struggle between the city and protest groups will enter a new and unscripted phase, hammering out arrangements for sound systems, portable toilets and drinking water as well as the highly charged issues of searches and barriers configuration. What emerges from August's clamor could set the tone for future demonstrations in a new age.

"We value constitutional freedoms that have always been very fundamental to us, but there is also this very real danger lurking in the background," said Joseph P. Viteritti, a public policy professor at Hunter College. "I'm not sure we really have a full understanding of how we balance these things, and we work our way through it every time."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 26th, 2004, 10:49 AM
RNC inspires comedy festival

July 26, 2004

Chicago City Limits, a Manhattan-based improvisational theater company, is staging a comedy festival during the Republican National Convention.

The Unconventional Humor Festival will feature a different program each night of the convention.

The festival will be held at the Chicago City Limits Theater on First Avenue and East 61st Street.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

July 26th, 2004, 01:11 PM
"In terms of policing it, in terms of trying to prevent these acts, they kind of morph to a certain extent," Mr. Kelly said. "They come together in a way and make it very difficult for the authorities, for the police to distinguish one from the other." Then too, it is always possible, he said, for terrorists to infiltrate a protest.

I don't want to generalize too much, but a sketchy America-hating-backpacked-suicidal-bomber would fit right in. :?

July 27th, 2004, 03:21 AM
July 27, 2004

Amtrak Issues Service Rules for Convention


During the week of the Republican National Convention, Amtrak riders will not be able to simply walk up to the ticket window and buy a seat. Except for passengers on specific trains, most will need to make reservations by telephone or through the Internet for most trains passing through New York City.

From Aug. 28 through Sept. 2, the last day of the convention, Amtrak riders must have reservations before buying tickets to most destinations within the Washington-to-Boston Northeast Corridor, as well as the upstate Empire Service trains.

Only the weekday Keystone and Clocker trains between New York City and Pennsylvania will be exempt, because most passengers on those trains use commuter passes.

Amtrak officials say the reservations will help them know how many people are traveling and who they are during a time of unusually high ridership and security concerns, said a spokeswoman for the railway system, Marcie Golgoski. Amtrak, which has a total of 138 trains that move through Pennsylvania Station every day, has enforced such a reservation policy during major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Ms. Golgoski also cautioned passengers to allow more time for possible delays.

Travelers are advised to make reservations at least a day in advance, although they will be accepted until departure as long as seating is available. As always, photo identification will be required to buy tickets.

Besides the reservation requirement, Amtrak plans to conduct security sweeps of all trains before their departures. Riders can also expect police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs on trains at Penn Station. Additionally, all bags that are checked in or carried on board must have identification tags.

Security concerns have also prompted officials to limit access to the station to points at Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street and at 34th Street just west of Seventh Avenue.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 27th, 2004, 03:24 AM
July 27, 2004

Co-op's Warning on Convention Raises Alarm, and Scorn


The management of a large Chelsea co-op that is home to many retired union activists is warning them to stock up on extra food and water and stay inside during the Republican National Convention, advice that some residents find disturbing and inappropriate.

Memos placed at the doors of the 2,820 apartments in Penn South, 10 buildings that span 23rd to 29th Streets between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, suggest that residents, most of whom are elderly, carry identification at all times and skip deliveries during the convention, which runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. The memos also give advice on how best to exit the co-op, "if you must," with such tips as heading toward Ninth Avenue instead of Eighth.

"If at all possible, stay inside during the times the convention is in session," said the memos, which are dated July 1. "Be sure to shop for extra food and water (as well as necessary medicines) before the convention begins."

Brendan Keany, the general manager of Penn South, said the notices were meant to prepare the co-op's residents for the crowds expected near the convention site, Madison Square Garden, which is just a few blocks north of Penn South's northern border. Sixty percent to 70 percent of the more than 5,000 residents of the co-op are elderly, according to Mr. Keany, and concern for them was a major reason for sending the memos, which he said were developed with the help of the Police Department.

"We just don't know what to expect," said Mr. Keany, who works for the building's management company, Mutual Redevelopment Houses. "We were hoping to be cautious, and encourage our cooperators to be cautious, too."

But the memos angered some residents. "I think it's an unnecessary scare," said Graziella Heins, whose apartment is near Eighth Avenue and 28th Street. "I resent it."

Ms. Heins, 55, said she was "fed up" with what she called scare tactics meant to manipulate people. On the reverse of the memos is an official city notice of traffic plans for the convention. Ms. Heins said it seemed that the city was trying to scare people to dissuade them from going out to protest, and added that the co-op management should not be circulating such "rubbish."

The residents of Penn South, a 21-story middle-income housing cooperative, will certainly be affected by the convention. During convention hours - 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday - Eighth Avenue will be closed from 34th Street to 23rd Street. The designated protest area at Eighth Avenue and 31st Street will probably extend south toward the co-op, according to the police.

Larry O'Neill, the security chief for the co-op, added that he was especially worried that residents would become tangled up with the throngs of protesters expected in the area.

"With the crowds, someone is going to get bumped, fall and hurt themselves," Mr. O'Neill said.

But one resident, Anna Lebowitz, 83, said she planned to join the protesters instead of hiding from them, and called the recommendation to stay inside "nonsense."

"You can't live in fear," she said. Ms. Lebowitz, who worked as an Army nurse in World War II, said she and other local elderly residents would join protests against President Bush the weekend before the convention.

"We want to make the point that this has been an awful four years for veterans and old people," she said, citing problems with prescription drug costs and shortages of funds for veterans' hospitals.

Ms. Lebowitz said that many residents of Penn South, a co-op built in the early 1960's with financing from the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the United Housing Foundation, were longtime union activists.

Other residents said they thought the co-op management was doing the right thing by sending memos encouraging people to prepare for the unexpected.

"I guess it was good they informed people what's going on," said one resident, Audrey Zeidman.

Ms. Zeidman, 48, said she was taking a week off from her job gardening at a Manhattan park to avoid convention traffic and delays. She also plans to order a case of food for her two cats, in case she ends up "locked in the apartment," she said.

Some residents said Penn South management was doing its best, but said they had made plans to avoid the area anyway.

"I think they are trying very hard," said one elderly resident, Betty Stiner. "But they can only do so much." She signed up for a late August cruise from the Netherlands to different Scandinavian capitals after learning of convention plans, she said, adding that it will not be a "pleasant situation" for her neighbors, especially for the elderly in wheelchairs.

Because of limited access and traffic during the convention, the management has also warned residents not to order any deliveries. Mr. Keany said he was most concerned about large deliveries that would require trucks.

One of the co-op buildings might be directly affected by convention security measures. Mr. Keany said that law enforcement officials had told him that a sharpshooter might be located atop the roof of a Penn South building He said that decision would be made by the United States Secret Service and the police.

A police spokesman, Paul J. Browne, declined to comment on any specific convention security measures.

Despite all of the guidelines and stepped-up security, some residents said that following the management's convention-preparedness advice would be easy.

"I'm a senior," said one resident, Ruth Fuhrer, 86. "I stock up on groceries anyway."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 28th, 2004, 05:43 AM
July 28, 2004

Of Grass Roots and Protests

With the Republican convention about one month away, the city has so far kept protesters off the Great Lawn in Central Park. Organizers of a large protest planned for Aug. 29 were denied its use. Park officials said the 250,000 people organizers expect would do too much damage to the grass and surrounding foliage. Then the National Organization for Women wanted the 13-acre lawn for a rally of 50,000 - far fewer than the 85,000 people who went to the Dave Matthews concert last year. Again, the city said no. It made us wonder why the city was so intent on keeping free speech off the grass.

City officials seem to have two sets of rules- one for approved music lovers, who attend warm-weather events by the tens of thousands - and another for political activity. The latter, of course, is protected by the Constitution. Yet city officials lack compelling reasons for denying protesters' requests to use parts of the park, especially the Great Lawn.

Granted, millions were spent to bring back the lawn from its scraggly days. But much of that money was spent to ensure exceptional durability. Resilient Kentucky bluegrass sod was planted in a soil mix with coarse sand mined in eastern Long Island - a proven base for sturdy golf courses. It also drains quickly, which makes officials' complaints that the protests lack rain dates seem curious.

The largest of the planned protests will be allowed to march past Madison Square Garden the day before the convention opens there. The marchers will then stretch along the West Side Highway at the city's edge. The site lacks an open area to see and hear speakers but is certainly better than the awfully named "free speech zone" at the Democratic convention in Boston - a dirt field under a highway overpass surrounded by barbed wire and chain-link fencing.

NOW will be able to use the East Meadow, on the northeast edge of Central Park. According to Rita Haley, president of NOW's New York chapter, the organization agreed to the East Meadow after park officials committed to repairing holes and gaps on its grounds. There's no such hazard on the Great Lawn, but the chief concern of city officials seems to be aesthetics, not ankles.

It is understandable that those who labored - and those who gave large contributions - to make the park more beautiful would feel a sense of ownership. But the park, no matter how elegant the private residences that line it, is a public space, not a gated community's playground.

The protesters have a right to have their say in a proper venue. In a recent poll, three-quarters of New Yorkers believed that venue to be Central Park. The 50,000 or so Republicans and others attending the G.O.P.'s own political demonstration next month don't have such worries. City officials are worrying about their every need, even concierge and spa services. They'll also be treated to a concert, in Central Park.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 28th, 2004, 10:33 AM
Judge rummages, amends bag-search ruling


A judge gave cops more wiggle room yesterday to search demonstrators' bags at the Republican National Convention - then stayed his controversial ruling.

Manhattan Federal Court Judge Robert Sweet had barred cops last week from conducting blanket bag searches in the absence of a "specific threat."

In his new order, Sweet wrote cops could search protesters' bags in the presence of simply "a threat" - explaining they would need to have probable cause.

On Friday, the NYPD's point man on terrorism, David Cohen, said in an affidavit that police needed to have discretion to conduct blanket bag searches in the face of credible information that Al Qaeda was planning to attack the United States in the coming months.

"While it may not be possible to check bags at every event, given the logistics of the event itself, or even to check all bags at a single large event ... it is my professional opinion that the ability to conduct blanket bag inspections would greatly reduce the risk to the public at that event and would be prudent given the credible risk to public safety supported by present intelligence," Cohen said.

City attorneys and cops were busy poring over the reworded decision last night and reserved comment.

A call to the New York Civil Liberties Union was not immediately returned. The civil rights group had challenged the idea of blanket searches at protests.

Mayor Bloomberg had vowed to appeal Sweet's restrictions on the searches, saying the judge "could not be more wrong."

As part of his order, Sweet granted the city a 10-day stay of the bag search policy to permit the appeal.

Originally published on July 28, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 28th, 2004, 10:36 AM
Cop docs on call for RNC


The NYPD will be deploying a secret weapon against rambunctious protesters at the Republican National Convention - a squad of police doctors.

Fearing a plot by rabble-rousers to overwhelm city emergency rooms, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is planning an unprecedented deployment of NYPD-employed physicians for triage duties outside Madison Square Garden, the Daily News has learned.

The doctors will assist Fire Department medics in performing battlefield evaluations of prisoners who are claiming illness or injury to determine whether they need medical attention or are fakers, sources said.

The quickie exams will be performed "prior to transfer to hospitals or police facilities," according to a memo written by Dr. Eli Kleinman, the NYPD's supervising chief surgeon.

The medical corps will comprise about 30 full-time police surgeons who treat injured and sick cops, and more than 100 doctors designated "honorary" police surgeons by the NYPD.

"Anything the chief surgeon asks us to do, we will do it," Dr. Ira Rothfeld, president of the Society of Honorary Police Surgeons of the City of New York, said yesterday.

But some of the doctors are concerned that they will be under pressure to keep hospital referrals to a minimum, which could expose them to malpractice lawsuits.

"If you make a mistake and send someone to central booking and they die, we get sued," the doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The News. "If I see someone complaining of chest pains, I will have no option but to send them to the hospital."

According to the plan, the triage duties call for 24-hour coverage by the doctors from Aug. 26 to Sept. 2.

Police doctors were sent into the field in large numbers twice before - during a recent Operation Sail and during Millennium New Year's Eve celebration. But on those occasions, the doctors were assigned to treat cops, not civilians.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the plan sounds "alarmist and unrealistic," adding that she hoped the "doctors would adhere to their Hippocratic oath and not a political agenda."

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne did not return a call for comment.

Originally published on July 28, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 28th, 2004, 10:52 AM
LIRR Riders Urged To Avoid Penn Station During Convention

http://www.ny1.com/Content/images/live/65/129969.JPG (http://real.ny1.com:8080/ramgen/real3/000C27AA_040728_60511hi.rm)

JULY 28TH, 2004

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is urging Long Island Railroad riders to avoid Penn Station during the Republican National Convention by taking the subway into Manhattan instead.
Penn Station, which is directly beneath the convention site, Madison Square Garden, will be open during the convention next month, but security will be tight and six of the eight entrances will be closed. In pamphlets now being distributed to commuters, the MTA suggests getting off in Queens and transferring to the subway.

Riders can access the No. 7 train to Grand Central and Times Square from Woodside, Hunterspoint Avenue or the Long Island City stations. The Jamaica hub offers an easy transfer to the E, J, Z and F trains. The Flatbush Avenue terminal is close to several subway lines that run to Manhattan, including the 2, 3, 4, 5, B and D trains.

For those that do ride all the way to Penn Station, the MTA suggests taking as little bags and luggage as possible to avoid being delayed for searches. The agency also suggests monitoring news reports for transit info before leaving home during the convention.

The Republican National Convention runs from August 30 to September 2.

For more information, go to mta.info (http://mta.info/).

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News. All rights reserved.

July 29th, 2004, 12:23 AM
July 29, 2004

National Guard Adds Units for Convention in New York


Members of the New York National Guard have been put on alert for possible deployment during the Republican National Convention in Manhattan, and the state plans to use three military teams trained to deal with chemical, biological and radiological weapons when the delegates are in town, state officials said yesterday.

The alert order, and the decision to employ the three specialized teams, are part of an emergency plan that will also include increasing the number of National Guard troops on active duty. The Guard will patrol bridges, tunnels and train stations during the convention, state officials said.

"While for operations security reasons we can not discuss specific numbers, it is fair to say there will be an additional Guard presence," said Scott Sandman, spokesman for the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, which administers the state's National Guard units.

Officials are planning extremely high security for the Republicans' national nominating convention, which is scheduled for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden. Early in the planning, the state office offered to make additional Guard forces and state police officers available, but the New York Police Department declined the offer, state and city officials said.

Instead, the police asked for the state to deploy a team trained in detecting and responding to large-scale weapons. The unit, called a Civil Support Team, is made up of New York National Guard personnel but is federally supervised. Three such teams will work in the city during the convention, with the two others coming from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, state officials said.

"The nature and scope of the mission will depend on the needs as expressed by the city," Mr. Sandman said of any role the Guard will play. "We have made the entire gamut of National Guard capabilities available, should they be needed."

With the political parties holding their first nominating conventions since the Sept. 11 attacks, and with the military still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials called for unprecedented security to safeguard the two conventions.

Both conventions have been declared National Security Events. This designation gives the Secret Service status as the lead federal agency helping to coordinate the activities of other federal and local agencies.

In Boston, where the Democrats are holding their convention this week, there are military police, SWAT teams, Secret Service agents, uniformed officers on foot and on motorcycles, helicopters, concrete barriers and heavy-duty fencing, all being employed to safeguard conventiongoers.

Each day this week has felt like a Sunday in Boston, with streets largely empty as people stay away from the city's center, both to avoid the inconveniences of the security and because the security measures have limited where they can go.

And while New York officials, both Democrats and Republicans, have said that they expect New York to better absorb the convention and all that entails, they said that New Yorkers could also expect even greater attention to security, if for no other reason than that the Republicans will be hosting the incumbent president.

Still, the Police Department has said it does not need to have troops assist in crowd control. The Department of Defense may provide the city with equipment for communications and command operations, state officials said. If there is an emergency, officials said, the National Guard could be activated quickly, officials said.

As part of the contingency plan, drawn up by Gov. George E. Pataki's office in conjunction with the police and other security agencies, state officials have identified which troops will be activated and how they will be transported to the city in case there is an emergency, officials said.

Since 2001, National Guard troops have patrolled at key transportation areas, and the Secret Service has said it expected a significant increase in National Guard troops at Pennsylvania Station. The station, which serves Long Island and New Jersey commuters, as well as Amtrak riders, is adjacent to and beneath the convention site.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 29th, 2004, 12:24 AM
July 29, 2004

Giuliani Choice Is Too Spicy for G.O.P. Delegates' Tastes


When word surfaced this week that a top 10 list of New York restaurants recommended to Republican delegates included a reputed Mafia hangout, it threatened to embarrass organizers of the convention, scheduled to begin Aug. 30.

But as it turned out, convention officials had already taken the kind of decisive action that would have made Don Corleone proud: they made the list disappear.

The roster of favorite restaurants of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor, was first posted on the Republican National Convention's Web site early this month, along with top 10 lists submitted by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Gov. George E. Pataki and former Mayor Edward I. Koch. More lists were to be added in coming weeks, said the site (www.2004nycgop.org).

They were presented, the site said, as a helpful guide for "delegates, media, members of Congress, volunteers and other visitors, many of them in town for the first time."

Topping Mr. Giuliani's list was Da Nico, a restaurant on Mulberry Street that the former mayor praised as "the best of the best in Little Italy."

On Monday, there were the first news reports that witnesses in the trial of the reputed mob boss Joseph C. Massino had testified in June that Da Nico was a regular hangout for organized crime figures, and that the family who runs it has ties to the Mafia.

But although Da Nico had figured prominently for weeks on the section of the convention Web site that serves as a guide for delegates, visitors to the site on Monday would not have been able to find it. That is because the top 10 lists had been removed a couple of days earlier, according to Leonardo Alcivar, a convention spokesman.

Mr. Alcivar insisted that the decision to remove the lists had nothing to do with the trial testimony about Da Nico. He said that they were removed for space reasons, and that there were no plans to put them back up.

"They got taken down to make room for updated content on the site," he said.

Sunny Mindel, a spokeswoman for Mr. Giuliani, declined to comment.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 29th, 2004, 10:20 AM
Soup's not on during GOP fete

W. 31st St. church is in shadow of the Garden,
site of Republican convention.


A soup kitchen that has fed New York City's poorest for 15 years has become a temporary casualty of next month's Republican National Convention.

The feeding station at the Church of St. John the Baptist, on W. 31st St., will close for a week as security in the surrounding area is tightened for the GOP event. The church itself will be commandeered by cops working the convention for use as a base.

Charity workers are desperately stocking nearby kitchens to pick up the church's clients - but warn many could be left hungry.

"Extra supplies elsewhere will help, but it's unlikely they will pick up all folks," said Dan Tietz of the Coalition for the Homeless. "Some are going to go without. Of course we are concerned."

Officials at the church, which is in the shadow of Madison Square Garden, made the decision not to provide food after hearing that security would make ID checks and searches mandatory. Regular services will continue at the church during the convention week, from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

It usually serves about 500 people every Wednesday.

Pastor Bernard Maloney said, "I know that a lot of the people just wouldn't be able to get through the security.

"We made the decision that it would serve them better if we gave them twice the amount of food the week before, which will hopefully last them until after the convention. It is unfortunate."

"People will have to manage," said Willie Collins, who eats at the soup kitchen. "There's a terrorism threat, and I know why the security is needed."

But Heidi Siegfried of Partnership for the Homeless said, "Our concern is that it takes a long time to gradually build up trust with some of the most vulnerable people."

A spokesman for the city's Homeless Services Department said meetings had been held in an effort to maintain all essential services.

"There is a coordinated strategy to ensure vulnerable New Yorkers have continued access to services," he said. "We have been working extremely hard at this."

Originally published on July 29, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 30th, 2004, 09:16 AM
Letter urges Blue Flu on GOPers' first night


A letter circulating among New York's Finest asks all cops to stage a sickout on the first day of the Republican National Convention.

The anonymous typed letter calls for any officer not on probation to get the Blue Flu on Aug. 30, if contract talks are not settled.

The letter - with an NYPD shield at the top - went out among rank-and-file members Wednesday, the same day cops and firefighters rallied at City Hall to demand pay raises and raise the specter of an illegal strike.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association declined to comment on the document last night.

One NYPD cop, who did not want his name used, said a sickout is intriguing.

"We like the idea," the officer told the Daily News. "We can't strike because of the Taylor Law. But nothing can stop you from calling in sick."

Mayor Bloomberg's office referred calls for comment to NYPD officials.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said it's not clear if an officer even wrote the letter. "There's no way of gauging its authenticity," he said.

Cops, firefighters and teachers have been staging protests to put pressure on Bloomberg as the GOP convention at Madison Square Garden approaches.

The unions have fought with Bloomberg since he said the cash-strapped city could afford only what other municipal unions accepted: a 5% raise over three years with a $1,000 signing bonus.

With Austin Fenner
Originally published on July 30, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 30th, 2004, 11:24 PM
July 31, 2004

Dear New York, Here's What One Convention Taught Us. Love, Boston.


Many protesters at the Democratic convention ignored the area designated for them.

BOSTON, July 30 - Greetings from Boston, where the Democratic Party has partied, its nominee has been nominated and the balloons have cascaded (sort of). Now that we are done here, and you are preparing to welcome an alien species known as the Republican Party, we thought you might want to consider some dos and don'ts of holding a convention in a crowded Northeast city in the age of terrorism.

Lesson No. 1: Don't expect a business bonanza.

Fear of gridlock and efforts to tighten security led Boston's mayor, Thomas M. Menino, to urge Bostonians to go on vacation or work from home during the convention, a notion that might seem alien in mercantile New York. The Secret Service even shut down a large section of a main highway.

It worked, almost to a fault. While the Boston convention went extremely smoothly, the city's great shopping streets and restaurant rows were eerily quiet.

Bostonians could suddenly park on streets that are usually choked with traffic, and they could land reservations to the hottest restaurants in town. But the city's merchants, who had been promised a convention-fueled boom, howled as shops stayed empty and store owners found themselves footing the bill for extra workers they had hired to handle the promised crowds.

Which brings us to lesson No. 2: Don't feed the delegates.

Although the convergence of thousands of delegates, reporters, contributors and hangers-on was great for the city's hotel and catering industry, it was not so great for its restaurants. That's because delegates were fed huge buffet breakfasts at their hotels, then sent to other hotels for lunches and then attended a series of meetings that resembled nothing so much as a weeklong smorgasbord, with enough hors d'oeuvres and satay to feed the Russian Army.

Of course, New York has Le Bernardin and the new Time Warner Center restaurants like Per Se. Add rich Republicans, and the city has a potentially combustible mix.

Lesson No. 3? Free speech can't be caged.

Boston officials put up what they called a Free Speech Zone near the FleetCenter. It more accurately could have been called a cage, complete with cyclone fencing and razor wire. The few protesters here roundly shunned it, deriding it as Gitmo North (a reference to Guantánamo Bay), and took their small demonstrations elsewhere.

New York City officials be warned: efforts to constrain the tens of thousands of protesters expected next month could backfire if the protesters balk and try to take their demonstrations elsewhere.

Perhaps Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has been criticized for refusing to allow the largest planned protest to be held in Central Park, could have avoided the heat by simply putting some razor wire around the park and calling it a Free-Speech Zone.

The fourth lesson is a bit more delicate to discuss: It is that sometimes reporters, er, have to go.

The giant two-story Erector set-like contraption built next door to the FleetCenter as a workspace for journalists, who outnumbered delegates by at least three to one, lacked plumbing. The portable toilets put outside the center for their comfort were less than popular (or sweet smelling). And no candidate wants to be covered by a crankier-than-usual press.

The Note, a daily political Web site run by ABC News that is often a first read for political types, helpfully posted an open letter on its site to the organizers of New York's convention. "Here's what you can make happen in the Big Apple to cause us all to love you," the letter said. "1. Lots of hot, accessible, delicious coffee - available all the time. 2. Lots of hot, accessible, delicious, and healthy food - available all the time."

New York's organizers, not surprisingly given the rivalry with Boston, say they are ahead of the curve. To begin with, Mayor Bloomberg has urged New Yorkers to enjoy the convention, not to shun it.

"Their plan was to shut down Boston, and they did," said Kevin Sheekey, the president of the New York Host Committee. "Our plan is to keep New York City open."

New York officials said they also have a strategy for making out-of-towners forage for themselves the night before the convention starts. Rather then sending them to catered parties, as Boston did, New York plans to send the delegates to Broadway shows.

"We're not providing them with food or drink the first night," Mr. Sheekey said. "We are providing them with theater and telling them to go out and eat in restaurants. That was a conscious effort to drive them into the streets."

And as for coddling the press, New York has already announced plans to pamper out-of-town reporters with a five-star concierge service, spa services in the press center for a modest fee, even a pool table and couches. Reporters will be based at the historic James A. Farley post office building, which puts Boston's Erector set to shame.

And perhaps most significant, the New York press center will have flush toilets.

As for the food, well, Fairway got the account to cater it. Instead of microwave hamburgers, they are promising fresh peaches, summer corns, bagels and - cupcakes.

New York officials who spent the week in Boston said that New York City, with its eight million people and too-cool-to-stare attitude, should be able to absorb its convention much more seamlessly than Boston, with its 600,000 people. (The Boston Herald welcomed Bostonians back to normalcy Friday with a headline that read, "You Are Now Free to Move About the City: Refugees to return home as invaders retreat.")

"I have a feeling that life will go on a little bit more normally in New York," said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. "I hope that in New York that not only the visitors, the Republicans who come to the city, but New Yorkers will be out and around, eating out, and watching the Republicans walk by. We've never had so many Republicans in Manhattan, so I would urge all New Yorkers to come from everywhere, and enjoy the scene. They'll get to see a Republican."

And Republican operatives who watched a botched balloon drop said that they are not sweating their own.

"We've got veteran balloon guys that have been doing this for five or six conventions," said Charles Black, a political adviser to President Bush. "I'm not going to hold my breath."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 31st, 2004, 01:47 PM
Police sickout plot ker-fluey - Mike


There will be no police sickout during the Republican National Convention, Mayor Bloomberg vowed yesterday.

"We're not going to have a Blue Flu as the convention approaches," Bloomberg said yesterday on his weekly WABC-AM radio program.

The Daily News reported yesterday that a letter was circulating among New York's Finest urging cops to stage a sickout on Aug. 30, the first day of the GOP gathering at Madison Square Garden, if contract talks are not settled by then.

Cops are not allowed to strike under the state's Taylor Law.

"There will be a lot of overtime for cops. But also cops understand their duty," Bloomberg said. "They didn't take this job to get rich. They took it because they wanted to make a difference."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday that the NYPD does not know who wrote the letter or whether it came from inside or outside the NYPD.

"We'll have more-than-adequate resources in place for the convention," Kelly said. "Our cops are the best in the world. They're doing a great job, and I expect them to live up to their oath of office."

A spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association declined to comment yesterday on the Blue Flu letter or the mayor's response to it. In recent weeks, the union has stepped up pressure on the mayor to reach a new labor agreement and increase cops' salaries.

Police have been working without a contract since the summer of 2002.

With Jonathan Lemire
Originally published on July 31, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

August 1st, 2004, 06:10 AM
August 1, 2004

Art Imitates Political Life, Anti-G.O.P. Posters Show


Leah Montange and Canek Pena, members of the No RNC Poster Collective, with some of the 100 silk-screened prints they plan on selling to pay for posters challenging the Republican National Convention.

In mid-June, posters promoting the Republican National Convention began appearing on phone booths and bus shelters around New York City. Featuring a photograph of former Mayor Edward I. Koch, they solicited volunteers to help at the convention and urge New Yorkers to "Be a part of it."

Over the past several weeks, other posters that also advocate involvement during the convention have shown up on the sides of buildings and other places. They are, though, less official and less welcoming.

Some bear an image of a Godzilla-size George W. Bush rampaging through Midtown skyscrapers above the directive "Fight Back!" Others use scraps of newspaper text and headlines to spell out the word "Lies" on a black background.

The ads with Mr. Koch were commissioned by the New York City Host Committee 2004, a nonprofit organization created by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and were designed by the advertising firm Grey Global. The other posters were made by the No RNC Poster Collective, a loose-knit coalition of artists and designers, and were bought with about $1,500 in donations.

The 490 Koch posters, which succeeded in attracting several thousand volunteers, at first outnumbered No RNC's, but recently the collective printed 38,000 posters featuring 19 designs, and they said similar runs were in the works. Visitors to its Web site (www.norncposters.org) can also download and print 36 free poster designs.

"We don't have many resources, but we're resourceful," said Canek Pena, 19, one of the collective's seven founders.

Another member, Leah Montange, 21, said, "We want to make it known that folks in New York are against the R.N.C." She added that collective members were opposed to the Bush administration's environmental and economic policies and to war in Iraq.

Certainly not everyone supports the ideas expressed by No RNC's posters. They have been discussed on conservative Web sites and a recent comment on one, www.slantpoint .com, referring to a secret plan to tear the posters down wherever they appear.

Ms. Montange said her group's project was conceived four months ago, after a meeting at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, where several dozen people had gathered to discuss plans to protest the convention. She and others who had some experience putting out an underground newspaper, N.Y.U. Ink, eventually decided to put out a publication consisting solely of visual messages. Part of the goal, they said, was to respond to the tens of millions of dollars that the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney campaign have spent on ads.

Posters criticizing the convention are not limited to the host city. A contributor to the collective project, Eric Drooker, whose paintings have appeared on the cover of The New Yorker, said he had seen posters voicing dissent on walls and lampposts in San Francisco and Lawrence, Kan.

"I've never seen such an outpouring of art based on one event," said Mr. Drooker.

On Norfolk Street, for instance, a row of posters that feature helicopters hovering over Midtown with the legend "Resume All Major Protest Operations" are pasted to the wall of a storefront church.

Liz McQuiston, the author of "Graphic Agitation 2: Social and Political Graphics in the Digital Age," (Phaidon Press) said that using Web sites to disseminate political posters was a relatively new phenomenon.

"Before the posters were always in printed form," she said. "But now you can get droves of posters produced electronically, and you see large groups of people producing comment on one issue."

In early May the members of the collective called artists and dropped off descriptions of the project at bookstores and theaters. One member, Ryan Nuckel, 23, created a Web site inviting people to submit art.

By the end of May, about 150 pieces of work had been collected from artists, some of them obscure, others known. Group members say they sought posters for the Web site that expressed a clear message that would stand out visually, mostly simple black and white images with an iconographic aspect.

"We were looking for boldness," said Frank Reynoso, 27. "We looked for images that would catch your eye from 30 or 40 feet away."

Mr. Reynoso said that some designs, like one that included swastikas, were rejected, because the group wanted to avoid antagonizing people by appearing overly radical. Others though, like a poster that portrays Mr. Bush as a cheerleader for the Republican Party, were welcomed because they included some humor.

The collective also wanted posters that would stand out from the myriad advertisements that appear on walls and signs throughout New York City.

Toward the end of June, members selected 19 images. Two thousand copies of each were printed on 22-by-15-inch newsprint sheets, and then made into tabloids. The title page reads "Our City - Our Walls," and the back page bears a message saying that it is unlawful to paste flyers on public or private property without permission. Copies of the tabloids are sent to people request them from the Web site.

On a recent night, Ms. Montange and Mr. Pena met at ABC No Rio, a community center on Rivington Street, where they have been using a silk screen workshop to print poster designs on 90-pound watercolor paper. They said that they planned to sell 100 silk-screened prints for $20 each to pay for the next round of posters.

Ms. Montange said she hoped the posters would provoke discussion about political issues, but that the project's main goal was to encourage demonstrations against the convention.

"In the end, there will be one way to show that people are angry and upset with the Republicans," Mr. Pena said. "That'll be the numbers in the streets."


Protesting in Verse, Not Shouts



THEY could be called the New York Muses Against Bush-Cheney. They are about 30 poets, who will be reading their poetry during the Republican National Convention week in New York, as a protest against four more years of the Bush administration.

But despite their concern with hot-button issues - the war in Iraq, tax cuts - they are hoping that in a week of passionate and perhaps angry demonstrations, theirs will be the gentlest demonstration of all.

These are poets, whose weapons are made of words, not steel, so nonviolence becomes them. One is Marie Ponsot, an 83-year-old great-grandmother who came of age with the Beat poets. Another is Vijay Seshadri, an Indian-born poet from the heartlands of Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, who now lives in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, with his wife and 11-year-old son, despairing over the Mets and writing personal, narrative verse. And there is Katha Pollitt, the poet, feminist, leftist and columnist for The Nation. And what better place to express their displeasure than St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, where William Carlos Williams and Edna St. Vincent Millay once read, and where the Muses will be reading on Sept. 1.

It seems unlikely that the police, confronted with the Muses, will need to conduct the drive-fast-and-park maneuvers they have been practicing as the convention nears. The reading may be anti-Bush and antiwar, but it will also be, the Muses say, antifear. They want to show there is no need for the strange fear of demonstrations that seems to have gripped New York, normally a pretty resilient town.

"I think it's a really great idea to put out some positive energy to counteract that mushroom cloud of negative energy that is the Republican National Convention," Ms. Pollitt said last week.

"The wonderful thing about poetry is it gives words their true weight,'' she said. "It's not about manipulating, it's not about getting people to like them for the five minutes it takes to get people to do what they want."

But what kind of poetry is the right poetry to read while protesting the Republican convention? There is a long tradition of protest poetry to draw from in the city, from Walt Whitman to W. H. Auden to Allen Ginsberg. Ms. Pollitt is tempted to read Auden's "The Shield of Achilles," which she considers "perhaps one of the greatest antiwar poems ever written," building bleakly to the lines: "That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,/Were axioms to him, who'd never heard/ Of any world where promises were kept,/Or one could weep because another wept." But she knows from experience that reading these words will make her break down and cry in front of strangers.

Auden's ghost might be listening. Auden and Ginsberg frequented St. Mark's, and a plaque on the side of the church quotes a line from Auden that sounds bracing in these days of compassionate conservatism: "Thousands have lived without love, not one without water." Or Ms. Pollitt may read her own antiwar poem, speckled with allusions to Auden, which begins: "My daughter, who's as beautiful as the day,/ hates politics: Face it, Ma,/they don't care what you think! . . ."

Over bagels and tea at the Second Avenue Deli, across the street from the church, the poets reflected on the flickers of political poetry at last week's Democratic convention. Jen Benka, an organizer of the Muses, thought Bill Clinton came close to poetry with his refrain about John Kerry, "Send me."

Does Mr. Kerry have the poetry to be a great leader? "At this point, I would settle for prose," Ms. Pollitt said.

President Bush dipped into what might be called the spaghetti Western school of poetry with his line about Iraqi insurgents, "Bring 'em on," but Ms. Pollitt found that a bit over the top.

Mr. Seshadri was not sure what poem he would read, only that he felt morally compelled to read one. Sometimes he finds the news so depressing he wants to go straight to bed.

Few muses could be gentler yet more emphatic than Ms. Ponsot. She lives in Republican country, on the Upper East Side, but not out of political affinity. She moved there from Greenwich Village because she couldn't stand being around 26-year-olds anymore. She has a foreign, unconventional history, shades of Teresa Heinz Kerry. She married, then divorced, a French painter on the Left Bank, and raised seven children.

She is finishing a poem on language, and plans to read it as a retort to the way Republicans have, in her view, distorted certain words. "Who can say robust anymore?" she said. "It's over. Bush is robust, and Kerry is flip-flop. They're using it up the way they did liberal. Who can say family?"

Her poem begins: "I like to drink my language in/straight up, no ice no twist no spin. . . ."

What better topic for a muse?

E-mail: amh@nytimes.com

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 1st, 2004, 07:20 AM
August 1, 2004


Penn Station and the Convention

To the Editor:

Re the July 18 editorial "Contents Under Pressure":

Let me assure you that a tremendous amount of planning has gone into safety and security issues concerning the Republican National Convention coming to Madison Square Garden.

The Long Island Rail Road plans to operate our normal service into and out of Penn Station during the convention, and we will do everything possible to minimize inconvenience. Our Web site offers alternate routes and travel tips for customers who normally use Penn Station.

We have developed a comprehensive customer information campaign so that our customers can plan their travel. During the convention, Metropolitan Transportation Authority police and additional railroad staff will be available in Penn Station to assist customers and answer questions.

With regard to our regular announcements made on trains concerning our clean train campaign, cellphone courtesy and feet on seats, customers are constantly telling me that they appreciate the positive effect these announcements have on the quality-of-life issue on the trains. So, even suspending them during the convention, as you suggest, would surely prove counterproductive to the advances we have made on these issues.

James J. Dermody
President, Long Island Rail Road
Jamaica, Queens

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 2nd, 2004, 07:22 AM
August 2, 2004

The Park, the Grass and the Protest (4 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re "Of Grass Roots and Protests" (editorial, July 28):

I was part of the team of consultants and scientists who designed the restoration and renovation of the Great Lawn in Central Park in the 1990's. The soils and grasses of the Great Lawn were designed to accommodate the extremely heavy use of the approximately 3,000 organized softball games per year (500 games per field, usually three per day), as well as the passive recreational uses of the park, including unscheduled pickup games and general lawn activities. It was anticipated that several larger events (up to 50,000 people) might occur each summer.

It was never designed to handle large events of 80,000, let alone 250,000, especially in late August, without receiving extensive damage. Grasses in late August are least likely to handle and recuperate from the trampling that will occur. The repairs are costly in terms of money, but the Great Lawn could also be out of use for months for repairs.

In this case, it may be wise to "keep off the grass" - or at least this grass.

A. Martin Petrovic

Ithaca, N.Y., July 28, 2004

The writer is a professor of turfgrass science at Cornell University.

To the Editor:

I have watched in dismay the heavy restrictions being placed on protesters since President Bush took office. My realized fear is that under the current system of the stagnant, often cage-like environment of a "protest zone," protest itself becomes irrelevant. The targets never see or hear it, and the participants in any protest are simply marginalized and further disenfranchised.

The whole concept of protest zones has a chilling effect on dissent and opposition of any kind. With such a system, our leaders live in a bubble. This, surely, is not the American way.

The question about the use of the Great Lawn by protesters during the Republican convention should not be whether it should be allowed, but how to facilitate it with as little damage as possible. No other location is appropriate for this particular protest. Frankly, it should have been assumed when New York made the bid for the convention.

Gary E. Kaminski

Buena Vista, Pa., July 28, 2004

To the Editor:

I was gratified to see you support the public's right to use the Great Lawn in Central Park as a protest site. The many protest demonstrations on the Mall in Washington in recent years, with the same or even greater numbers of participants, weren't considered detrimental to the grass in that beautiful location.

Ann Nelson

New York, July 28, 2004

To the Editor:

Though the city won't allow a planned protest on the Great Lawn, it can hardly deny people the pleasure of a stroll in Central Park. If 100,000 people happened to stroll onto the Great Lawn at about the same time, wouldn't that be a grand coincidence?

Kathee Rebernak

Wilton, Conn., July 28, 2004

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 3rd, 2004, 04:25 AM
August 3, 2004

Labor Chiefs Plan Rally Against Bush Near Garden


Adding to the stew of protests planned during the Republican National Convention, New York labor leaders announced yesterday that they would hold a rally on Sept. 1 at which tens of thousands of union members would demonstrate against President Bush.

Labor leaders said the rally would be held near Madison Square Garden, the site of the convention scheduled from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, to send a strong message to Republicans about what the labor officials said were Mr. Bush's antiworker and antiunion policies.

"George Bush is the working person's worst nightmare,'' said Brian M. McLaughlin, the president of the New York City Central Labor Council. "He has attempted to roll back labor laws and workers' rights as far as he can."

Mr. McLaughlin, who is also a Democratic state assemblyman from Queens, said labor unions had originally planned to hold several marches from various union headquarters that would feed into the rally. But he said that because of security concerns and the huge pressures the city and its Police Department would face at the convention, labor leaders decided to forgo the marches and just hold the rally.

The rally, which has received a permit from the city, is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. at 30th Street and Eighth Avenue. Demonstrators will be asked to enter a planned security zone at 23rd Street. Mr. McLaughlin announced the rally at a news conference outside the Garden, where he was joined by leaders of more than a dozen unions, including 1199/SEIU, District Council 37, the United Federation of Teachers, the United Automobile Workers, the Transport Workers Union and Unite Here, the textile, hotel and restaurant workers union.

At the news conference, the leaders said Mr. Bush had stripped many workers of overtime coverage, weakened the rights of workers to form unions, done little to stop jobs from moving overseas and done nothing to hold down health care costs.

"We believe that George Bush has been a disaster for our country, a disaster for health care and a disaster for working people,'' said Dennis Rivera, president of 1199/S.E.I.U., New York's largest health care union, which represents 260,000 workers.

Leonard Alcivar, a spokesman for the Republican National Convention, said the convention would help labor by creating jobs and improving the city's economy. "We look forward to a convention that looks to the president's successes over the past four years and to his vision for the next four years,'' he said.

Mr. Bush's aides say he has helped workers by reducing their taxes and by taking many steps to stimulate the economy.

Mr. McLaughlin said that on the evening of Sept. 2, when Mr. Bush is expected to deliver his speech accepting the Republican Party's nomination, many New York union members would participate in a plan to have an estimated 25,000 union members across the nation knock on a million doors to spread an anti-Bush message.

Two unions that are in a bitter contract dispute with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg - the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association - will not participate in the rally, officials with both unions said. Neither union has endorsed a presidential candidate, and officials from the two unions said they wanted to focus their energies on protesting Mr. Bloomberg and not Mr. Bush.

Officials from the police and firefighters' unions said they would hold some informational picketing during the convention.

"We will make our presence known at certain delegate events to make sure they know that the Republican mayor has refused to negotiate honorably and fairly with the police and firefighters of New York,'' said Tom Butler, a spokesman for the firefighters' union.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 3rd, 2004, 10:48 AM
Anti-War Billboard Unveiled Over Times Square

http://www.ny1.com/Content/images/live/66/130649.JPG (http://real.ny1.com:8080/ramgen/real3/000C3F83_040802_213928hi.rm)

AUGUST 03RD, 2004

After a legal battle ends in compromise, an anti-war billboard was finally unveiled in Times Square Monday.

Next to a 105-foot dove painted with the stars and stripes, the ad on the Conde Nast building says: “Democracy Is Best Taught By Example, Not War.” The anti-war group had originally wanted to use the image of a bomb, but it was forced to change to a dove after the billboard owner clear channel refused to put up the ad.

New Yorkers seemed to be happy about the change.

“I didn’t think the bomb was appropriate; the dove is fine,” one city resident said. “Everyone has a right to say what they say. They paid for it, so they have a right. It’s not obscene or anything like that, so you have a right to say it.”

“I think a dove stands for peace, and that’s what the U.S. is about, and it’s a great anthem to use,” another passer-by said.

The billboard will stay in place through the Republican Convention, until October. A separate ticker displaying the cost of the war in Iraq will hang on the W Hotel until December.

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

August 3rd, 2004, 12:57 PM
The background should be sky blue, it looks like crap graphically.

August 4th, 2004, 12:06 AM
Anxiety runs higher in days before RNC
Boston fails to calm city's nerves

By Lisa Fickenscher and Miriam Kreinin Souccar
August 02, 2004

There was no terrorist attack last week in Boston. Protests were on the tame side. And Bostonians who did drive into the city sailed down I-93, because most people had left town.

But Boston's experience has done little to calm the anxiety of most New Yorkers. This city is developing a siege mentality, with companies sending employees to out-of-town offices, social services organizations finding alternate plans for the homeless and food suppliers questioning their ability to get around Manhattan. New Yorkers can't wait until the Republican National Convention is behind them.

For a city about to mark the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, daily reports on security drills for worst-case scenarios are simply too much for even jaded New Yorkers. Add to that the latest rumors of what the hundreds of thousands of protesters might be planning.

"I want to be out of the city, but I don't have the vacation accrued," says Alexis Lipshultz, a senior account executive with Euro RSCG Magnet, who just started a new job. Instead, Ms. Lipshultz says she's already plotting several escape routes from Manhattan in the event of an emergency, and plans to wear comfortable shoes to work that week.

Many businesses throughout the city--and not only those near Madison Square Garden--are allaying fears by giving their employees the option to work from home or from offices outside Manhattan. Wall Street Access, an institutional brokerage firm in lower Manhattan, is moving most of its 90 downtown employees to a facility in Edison, N.J., that the company set up after Sept. 11. The New York Law School is closing its campus on Worth Street for three days.

An informal survey by CoreNet Global, an Atlanta-based professional association of corporate real estate executives, found that 28% of New York businesses are giving their employees the option to work from home, while 23% are providing liberal time-off policies on Thursday, when President Bush is scheduled to speak.

A ghost town

Many small businesses are still grappling with what to do. Joan Whalen, who owns a fine art gallery on West 57th Street, says she can't decide whether to close for the week or try to drum up business from conventioneers. "Even if nothing happens in terms of a terrorist incident, the city is going to be a ghost town," Ms. Whalen says.

Last week, restaurants and shops in Boston complained that their sales were half of what they had expected, and the news has businesses as far away from midtown as Harlem bracing for a lackluster week. "We are going to have a reduction in the number of general tourists, which will not be made up by those coming to the convention," says Lloyd Williams, president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.

Indeed, tourists and business travelers have gotten the message to stay away. Business travel for the week of the convention is down about 50% from last year, says Peter Klebanow, president of Ultramar Travel Management.

Even conventioneers are jittery. Security firms are in great demand, and their owners are surprised by the level of service they are being asked to provide, such as ferrying people--not just VIPs--from the convention to the parties afterward.

"It's unusual to get transportation protection," says Anthony Poveromo, president of 21st Century Security. Even more unusual, he says, is customers' carte blanche attitude toward security. "They are not letting money dictate what they should be doing."

The city's business improvement districts have spared no expense, either, for security during the convention. For the past couple of months, the Times Square Alliance has been footing the bill for a security company to patrol the area with bomb-sniffing dogs several times a week. The Fifth Avenue BID is asking its security staff to work overtime during the convention week, so that there are 30% more of them along Fifth Avenue.

To ensure their own safety and convenience, many executives who commute into town from the suburbs have decided to take up residence in area hotels for the week. The Alex, the 70 Park Avenue hotel and others are reserving a number of rooms for local attorneys, investment bankers and insurance executives. "As the commuting issues have hit the media over the past several weeks, we have been booking reservations," says Lisa Grossberg, general manager of the Buckingham Hotel.

Homeless credentials

Social service organizations across the city also are making contingency plans. Urban Pathways, for one, is issuing identification cards to its homeless clients. "We have clients who are transported every night to shelters," says Steven Hornsby, program director of the Olivieri Center for Homeless Women, an Urban Pathways facility. "We want to make sure those buses can come and go easily."

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging residents and corporations to go about their normal business during the convention, at least one group knows that's impossible. Companies that make deliveries are preparing for the worst.

"It will take more resources and money to deliver less stuff," says Jason Ackerman, chief financial officer of FreshDirect, a Long Island City-based food delivery company. Mr. Ackerman's plan for dealing with street closures calls for his drivers to park their trucks blocks away from apartment buildings and to be met at predetermined locations by eight other employees, who will then take the groceries to customers.

Similarly, Tom Cat Bakery, which supplies restaurants and hotels with bread, is so concerned about how it will make deliveries that it has asked some customers to place their orders two days in advance. The New York Blood Center, which is already suffering from a severe shortage, is voicing concern about the physical logistics of collecting blood during the convention.

Though many New Yorkers say that they are mainly worried about the inconvenience the convention will bring, the threat of a terror attack isn't far from anyone's mind. A full 31% of companies surveyed by CoreNet say their greatest concern about the convention is terrorism.

"It's on everybody's mind; it just doesn't go away," says Ms. Whalen, the art dealer. "We're all wondering if there could be an attack during the convention."

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

August 4th, 2004, 12:13 AM
Arts groups make a statement

By Miriam Kreinin Souccar
Published on August 02, 2004

Some New Yorkers aren't fleeing the city and instead are using the convention to make a broad statement. More than 40 arts institutions throughout the city will present nearly 175 events featuring marquee names from every corner of the arts world, from Kathleen Turner and Richard Gere to Margaret Cho and Phillip Glass.

Called the Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues and Ideas, the festival will use the arts to explore issues facing the country today. The festival is nonaligned--Republicans for Choice is helping Planned Parenthood organize a major concert--but it is clearly anti-Bush.

"People are so deeply concerned with where we are right now," says Chris Wangro, a live events producer and the founder of the festival. "At a time when the politicians and the media have failed us looking at the issues, it's the role of the arts to do so."

Mr. Wangro began work on the festival more than a year ago. Participating arts organizations, such as the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, are funding their own programming, most of it created especially for the festival.

The events range from a nightly political cabaret at Symphony Space to a piece of performance art in which 5,000 people holding pink slips over their heads form an "unemployment line" from Wall Street up Broadway to Madison Square Garden.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

August 4th, 2004, 04:25 AM
August 4, 2004

G.O.P. Delegates Get List of Banned Items


A warning to delegates planning to attend the Republican National Convention: No guns, knives or explosives will be allowed inside Madison Square Garden. And if you are thinking about bringing strollers, spray cans or umbrellas, think again.

Guns and knives seem an easy call, but umbrellas? Sure, they can be used to whack and poke, but in sinister hands they can also hide a syringe filled with poison, according to the cloak-and-dagger set.

"Years ago there was a Soviet spy who managed to stab someone in London with an umbrella, pull a trigger and release poison," said Paul Rees, a former member of the Royal Marines who now works as director of Centurion Risk Assessment Services, based in London.

When the Republican convention rolls into New York City at the end of this month, thousands of state, city and federal law enforcement officers will be working to guard against truck bombs and other threats. But the last line of defense will be the Secret Service agents at the metal detectors at the entrance to the arena.

Those agents will be searching guests for the no-brainers, like fireworks, but they will also be on the lookout for some staples of past conventions, like banners, noisemakers and horns, which will be available inside but may not be carried in by delegates. No one could say exactly why these items were considered a threat to public safety.

The list of banned items was drawn up by the Secret Service, the New York Police Department and convention organizers, and was mailed to every delegate as part of an orientation package, officials said. A similar list was sent to people attending the Democratic National Convention in Boston last week.

If history repeats itself when the convention takes place, from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, a lot of the conventiongoers will not pay attention, or if they do, they will think they can finesse security.

"I had given a cursory glance to the list of things I wasn't supposed to bring in," said Jen Bluestein, who was at the convention, working with the New York State Democratic Committee. How could a tiny bottle of French hair spray, in a pump bottle no less, hurt anyone, she thought? Well, they took it away.

What Ms. Bluestein did not do was think like a terrorist, Mr. Rees said. The hair spray bottle could have easily been filled with something other than hair spray. So rather than have agents open and smell every bottle, no liquid was permitted to be carried inside by delegates and visitors, not even water (food and beverages were sold inside). The same rule will apply to the Republican convention.

Explaining the concern about bottled liquids, Ann Roman, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, said, "We don't know if somebody, maybe, injected something without breaking the seal. Maybe they pulled back the label."

Although he did not want to give out how-to advice to would-be terrorists, Mr. Rees said that many of the items on the list appear to have been banned for good reasons. Aerosol cans can be converted into small bombs. Computers and video cameras, he said, can easily be packed with plastic explosives, and walking sticks can be fitted with swords or knives. Baby strollers and coolers, which may not be easily transformed into weapons, can still crowd aisles and walkways, a hazard if an evacuation is necessary.

If the Boston experience is any measure, a fair amount of confusion is inevitable.

Ms. Roman said that one conventiongoer phoned the Secret Service to ask if it was permissible to bring a banana into the arena (no problem). Plus, she said, it rained so much, and so many umbrellas were being forfeited, that officials decided to allow folding umbrellas into the arena, while maintaining a ban on the larger golf-style umbrellas.

That will not become a problem in New York - even if it rains a lot. Convention organizers have purchased thousands of umbrellas that they will give out free, which raises the specter of a very different security breach: "Opening an umbrella in a building means bad luck," Mr. Rees said with a chuckle.

As Convention Nears, State Clarifies Rule on Gifts


ALBANY, Aug. 3 - The state's Temporary Commission on Lobbying signaled on Tuesday that any gifts given to delegates or other officials attending the Republican National Convention could come under scrutiny.

In a unanimous advisory opinion, the commissioners made it clear that the state's ban on accepting gifts worth more than $75 from lobbyists applies to the parties and events around the convention, which is being held from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in New York City.

The ruling comes less than a week after the lobbying commission began looking into free convention-week goodies lavished by corporations on New York politicians who attended the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The commission has already sent out letters to three companies - Eastman Kodak, KeySpan and Citigroup Inc. - seeking information about events they sponsored in Boston, a state official has said.

When questioned about that, David M. Grandeau, the lobbying commission's executive director, said, "As you are aware, I have been asked by the commissioners not to comment on any matters that are investigatory in nature."

What prompted the commissioners' action was a July 21 inquiry from Jeffrey T. Buley, the state counsel to the Bush re-election campaign and the general counsel to the Republican State Committee, who was seeking to head off any potential problems before the parties planned for the Republican convention got under way.

"I'm just trying to protect my clients' interest. I want to be careful," Mr. Buley said Tuesday as the commissioners met in closed session. "We spot it as a potential issue." After the commissioners issued their opinion, Mr. Buley said he was not fully satisfied with it. He declined to comment further.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 4th, 2004, 05:39 PM
Frozen Zone" To Surround MSG During GOP Convention

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AUGUST 04TH, 2004

When Republicans descend on Madison Square Garden later this month, the NYPD plans to cordon off the surrounding blocks, banning traffic, limiting pedestrians and deploying hundreds of police officers in the “frozen zone.”

During the GOP National Convention, which runs from August 30 to September 2, no cars or buses will be allowed on streets from Sixth to Ninth Avenue, between 31st and 33rd streets. In addition, people on foot will have to show identification to get anywhere from 33rd to 31st Street between Seventh and Ninth avenues, and police will escort them to their destination.

“That’s not going to be good,” said one woman who works in the restricted area. “That’s going to be an inconvenience. But I have to do it, because I have to go to work.”

The NYPD says it will try to limit inconveniences while providing as much security as possible.

“We expect to accommodate folks who want to get to a business in the area, whether it’s on the perimeter of our frozen zone or actually within the frozen zone,” NYPD Assistant Chief John McManus said in an exclusive interview with NY1.

McManus said about 900 officers will be stationed around the Garden, though the exact number could go up or down. The same officers will be at the same posts every day.

“It affords us an opportunity to have the officer familiar with the posts they’re covering and familiar with the businesses and folks that are coming and going each day,” McManus said.

Most New Yorkers don’t want to put up with the hassles, but they understand that the heavy security is necessary.

“I think they have to put in the tough security zone,” one city resident said. "I think keeping vehicles out of here and controlling pedestrian traffic is something, I’m afraid, needs to be done this time.”

Many are planning just to avoid the convention entirely: “I’m leaving town,” said one man.

McManus said the recent terror alert that singled out financial institutions in New York for possible attack will not affect the NYPD’s overall security plan for the convention. Police are already providing as much protection as possible, he said.

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

August 4th, 2004, 05:42 PM
Some Midtown Businesses Still In The Dark About Convention Plans

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AUGUST 03RD, 2004

Businesses near Madison Square Garden already know they'll feel some effects of the security clampdown for the Republican Convention. But as NY1's Milanee Kapadia reports, how much they know seems to depend on what block they're on.

Beverage manager Robin Hughes expects the Republican Convention will fuel the best business in seven years.

His restaurant, Tupelo, is smack dab next to Madison Square Garden on 33rd Street.

But with the location comes ramped up security and that means hassles for employees getting to work and delivery delays.

But Hughes says he's prepared because the city and the 34th Street Partnership has kept the staff on track.

"They've given us telephone numbers to call if we can't get employees through," said Hughes. "The same sergeant is going to be on each checkpoint everyday. We are hopeful after the first day there won't be any glitches after that."

"They've let us know what exits are from Penn Station, what streets have been closed off, and when we can get deliveries," said Tir Na Nog manager Helen Woods.

Both say they have attended meetings on a regular basis in the past month, with convention organizers, the Midtown South police precinct and the Partnership, one of the city's privately run Business Improvement Districts.

Yet just a couple of blocks south, business owners on Eighth Avenue between 30th and 31st Street say they are completely out of the loop.

"We've been very --not well informed, the officials have kept us in the dark about what's going to happen," said bartender Remy Liggio.

When it comes to planning for the convention, the owner of one bakery isn't happy. He says he has not idea what to expect for the trucks delivering hundreds of pounds of perishables used in his cheesecakes.

"I haven't been told how my trucks can get in and out properly," said Mario Daiuto.

The reason is that those businesses are right outside the borders of the 34th Street Partnership and they ended up falling through the cracks. Store owners and employees say they have no idea what they need to get to work.

If you're someone who works around the convention site, the quickest way to get around is to show two forms of identification, one of them is a photo ID and the other is proof of where you work.

"If you don't have a company ID then carry, a business card from your company or get a letter from your boss that says this person is a waiter at my restaurant, these are his usual hours of operation," said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra.

Dykstra says the city also working on setting up meetings with restaurants and stores that are not located in the Business Improvement District.

No word on when that will happen, but with a less than a month left before the Republican National Convention, time's running out.

– Milanee Kapadia

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

August 4th, 2004, 05:45 PM
Out Of Town Commuters Brace Themselves For Delays During Convention

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AUGUST 03RD, 2004

How much of an effect will the Republican Convention have on city subways and buses? Transit reporter Bobby Cuza says not much, as of now, but pity the poor out-of-town commuters.

What do you get when you bring the Republican National Convention, with its extraordinary level of security, into the same building as the world's busiest train station?

"It's gonna be a hassle with commuting," said one commuter in Penn Station.

"It's gonna be chaos," said another.

"It's gonna be brutal," said another.

"It's gonna be totally crowded, it's gonna be miserable, it's gonna be an hour late, you're gonna have to come early, and it's gonna be terrible, and everybody's gonna hate life, and hate the Republicans," said another.

Unlike Boston, which closed the North Station rail terminal, just below the Fleet Center, during last month's Democratic Convention, Penn Station will be open for business during convention week.

And its 600,000 daily riders are already bracing for the disruption. Amtrak is requiring people to make reservations for nearly all its New York City trains. New Jersey Transit has announced overhead luggage racks and most restrooms will be off-limits, and their midtown direct trains will be diverted to Hoboken, where passengers will have to catch the PATH train into the city.

Meanwhile, the Long Island Rail Road says it will operate normal service, but is reminding riders they can avoid Penn Station by switching to the subway in Queens or Brooklyn.

"I think people need to give themselves extra time," said Beverly Dolinsky of the NYC Transit Riders Council. I think that if your trip normally takes 35 minutes, you better give yourself 45 minutes. Maybe that's optimistic."

Police will also be inspecting every train approaching Penn Station, with the help of bomb-sniffing dogs.

And everyone will be forced to squeeze through just two exits, instead of the usual six – the one on 34th Street, and the main Amtrak entrance on Seventh Avenue.

All the delegates attending the convention will get free MetroCards, paid for by the host committee. But how easy will it be to get around by subway? So far no changes have been announced, but some subway stairways may be closed, and it remains a possibility that trains will by pass Penn Station at certain times, like during the president's speech.

"If the Secret Service says you have to close this, transit doesn't have a choice," said Dolinsky.

Meanwhile, above ground, a number of streets will be closed to traffic and sometimes to pedestrians. Several bus routes will have to be redirected.

All of which has many commuters saying they're going to avoid Penn Station one way or another, leaving others convinced commuting will be a breeze.

"I think it will be less traffic than normal," said one man.

"It's gonna be really easy for me because nobody's gonna come to work. I think it's gonna be a ghost town."

– Bobby Cuza

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

August 5th, 2004, 04:50 AM
August 5, 2004

Group Plans Illegal Protests on 2nd Day of Convention


Members of a group opposed to the Republican National Convention, many describing themselves as anarchists, said yesterday that they would carry out illegal protest activities on the convention's second day.

Organizers in the group, the A31 Action Coalition, said they were calling for a nationwide day of nonviolent civil disobedience on Aug. 31 aimed at using parts of Midtown to stage demonstrations, without permits, against the Bush administration. The organizers said they were looking to break free of government intervention to have their say; they called the process for issuing permits broken and criticized the city's practice of using metal barriers to create rally areas or march routes.

"It is here, at the end of the barricades, that we will create free-speech zones, where we can create the kind of world we want to see through music and free food and dancing and debate," said Tim Doody, an organizer, at a news conference at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, in the East Village. He added that that if asked to move, participants planned to sit down and refuse. "Freedom of assembly isn't so free if you have to ask the government where, when or if."

Throughout the day, organizers said, participants plan to demonstrate outside a variety of institutions, including a Bank of America finance round table planned the morning of Aug. 31 at Tavern on the Green and several corporations they see as contributing to the Bush administration's foreign policies or profiting from them. That evening, the protesters plan to converge around the convention site, Madison Square Garden, outside the official security zone. The coalition, still being formed, represents a broad array of interests, including education, welfare and opposition to the war.

The notion of anarchists organizing a news conference announced well in advance and held before a gaggle of reporters might seem a little odd, given the popular image of anarchists as shadowy, brick-throwing rabble-rousers bent on wreaking havoc and spreading mayhem. But the group, although anti-authoritarian, said that it is opposed to any actions that hurt people and that the tradition of civil disobedience calls for open communication of its plans rather than disguise.

Although organizers did not disavow property damage, they said they were not calling for it. They said they expect many of the planned actions to stay within legal limits. For example, demonstrating on sidewalks without blocking pedestrians or access to buildings and without using amplified sound is legal and does not require a permit.

Police officials warned the demonstrators against any lawbreaking activities. "We're principally concerned about protecting the city against terrorists or violent acts," said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman. "At the same time we expect everyone to obey the law - even protesters."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 5th, 2004, 10:17 AM
Although I'm exercising my option of leaving the country during the Fascist convention in NYC, I am looking forward to reports of disruption and mayhem from South Ferry to Washington Heights. Anarchists rarely let us down.

August 5th, 2004, 11:54 AM
I'm gearing up for the protests and will provide you with all the juicy details, BrooklynRider. The only thing I'll have to miss is the unofficial protest on the Great Lawn the opening day of the convention.

I just can't bring myself to join in anything sponsored by the Libertarian party.

Ron Newman
August 5th, 2004, 02:21 PM
If you'd like to hear what the DNC was like in Boston, check out this forum:

Wicked Good Forum: Boston (http://www.wickedgood.info/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?forum=1;)

Some, but not all, of the relevant threads have "DNC" in their titles.

Also see:

Universal Hub: Convention (http://www.universalhub.com/convention)

Boston IndyMedia (http://boston.indymedia.org)

August 6th, 2004, 02:35 AM
August 6, 2004

Alaskan Delegate to New York: Don't Fence Us In


Doug Isaacson, at an airstrip near the Arctic Circle, says New York City residents do not understand Alaska.

NORTH POLE, Alaska, Aug. 1 - Doug Isaacson has a few ideas about city folks. First of all, they do not understand Alaska. Second of all, they do not understand Alaska.

He was flying in a six-seat Piper Navajo the other day above the tundra, grousing that he could not build on all that empty land because the city slickers wanted to preserve it. They needed some place to dream of in their cramped apartments, he was saying.

It drives a man like Mr. Isaacson insane.

"It's a fantasy they're trying to preserve," he said as the plane flew bumpily above a wilderness that stretched away for miles in shades of greenish gray. "It's in their minds. It's only when you're living in the rat race of a claustrophobic city that you start with all those claustrophobic thoughts."

At the end of the month, Mr. Isaacson, a delegate to the Republican National Convention, will be traveling to New York - perhaps the most claustrophobic city in the nation. The natives are planning to welcome him with cocktail parties, catered galas and a river cruise or two to showcase their town. But for Mr. Isaacson, the sojourn in Manhattan is more about the politics than about the fun.

"Why am I going to New York?" he said the other day. "To preach that people should stay out of the sovereign issues of Alaska."

Mr. Isaacson has never been to New York City, and his journey will take him over more than four time zones and across 4,438 miles. It will take him from the town of North Pole - population 1,646 - where butchered moose meat sits in the freezer and the sign proclaims, "It's always Christmas." It will take him across the Continental Divide and the cultural divide - not that he particularly cares.

"He hasn't really talked about it much - I'm surprised," said Mabel Generous, who works for Mr. Isaacson at Gold Coast Mortgage in Fairbanks. "I know I'd be talking about it if I was going to New York."

New York officials view the convention as a way to sell the city to the heartland and they are hoping to raise at least $65 million to pamper delegates and the thousands of journalists who will be watching them.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has repeatedly urged New Yorkers, an overwhelmingly Democratic lot, to be nice to the delegates. But Mr. Isaacson seems little concerned about his reception in New York, and is instead intent on making his voice heard on issues dear to him.

He is suspicious of people who think Alaska should remain a wilderness, undeveloped and pristine. While this position may seem logical, even admirable, on the overcrowded island of Manhattan, it is a luxury up north, he says, where the oil and mining industries can mean a paycheck for a worker who needs a job.

"New Yorkers tend to think of Alaska in terms of Central Park," he said one day, leaning back so that his tie with the Republican elephant was on display. "They think it's a beautiful place that has to be preserved.

"But people live here. They have to earn a living. Don't tell me the environment's so fragile we'll destroy it. We're not going to spoil the land. We're not going to bite the hand that feeds us."

Mr. Isaacson is a Republican of the Calvin Coolidge school, a man for whom the business of America is business.

"We're old school," said Jim Whitaker, the mayor of Fairbanks, whom Mr. Isaacson is proud to count among his friends. "We're Republican because Abraham Lincoln was Republican. Because Teddy Roosevelt was Republican. Because Dwight David Eisenhower - the fellow who said 'Beware the military-industrial complex' - was Republican."

They were sitting on the patio of the Princess Riverside Hotel, enjoying an after-breakfast beer. It was 11 a.m. As they talked, a slender man with snow-white hair came by to gaze at the sparkling Chena River. He was tall and frail and had a pastel sweater draped across his back.

He asked them if they were from Alaska. They were. And he?

"I'm from outside Philadelphia," he said with a sigh. "Don't screw this place up, all right? Back East, it's all a mess."

Easterners. Mr. Isaacson could only shake his head. He bears no malice for the Easterner, though he is wary, searching constantly for hidden agendas and the dagger in the smile. For example, he found it difficult to trust the big-city news reporter sent to interview him, worried he would come off as a hick.

Doug Isaacson is not a hick. He is a mortgage broker, a city councilman, a father, an American. He lives in a rural town where local people answer Christmas letters mailed to Santa. He is a former seminarian who once worked for the Air Force translating intercepted Soviet communications from a plane's belly.

What the Easterner does not understand, he says, is that Alaska is vast enough to handle even decades of development. Whether this is true or not, he put this Easterner on a plane and flew him out 100 miles beyond the Arctic Circle to prove how huge and empty Alaska is.

From the air, there was a single road that cut between the rolling hills that stretched away so far into the distance that the concept of distance seemed to disappear. Then the road disappeared. Then the hills. Then the trees. Eventually there was nothing but the mountains and the tundra - nothing artificial to be seen.

"It's called the last frontier, but it's a zoo," he said above the humming of the engines. "Our movement is restricted. Our commerce is restricted. They've taken away our right to do anything by taking away the land."

When Mr. Isaacson says they, he means that conglomeration of environmentalists, liberal money and politicians - often Democrats - who, over the years, have set aside some 300 million of Alaska's 365 million acres as untouchable public land. It drives him crazy that "environmental evangelists," as he will call them, have made it so you cannot build a factory, a shopping mall or even a house on all that empty land.

"We've got land for literally millions of acres up here, and yet we don't have title," he went on, as the plane flew well above the Brooks Range. "That's immoral. It's absolutely wrong."

It is telling that when Mr. Isaacson discusses the environment he uses terms like "missionaries, evangelists, proselytizers, animists" and the like. He says he is a Christian, as well as the son of a Christian and the father of five good Christian children. The earth, to him, is to be used because the earth is "God's bounty."

"Why am I going to New York?" he asked again, this time cooking chicken on his grill. "Values," he said.

Mr. Isaacson's voyage to New York will not be entirely political, of course. His 19-year-old daughter, Rachelle, is joining him. If he is somewhat ambivalent about the trip, his eldest child is not. "I'm really, really excited," Ms. Isaacson said the other day by cellphone from a summer camp in Indiana. "I love city life and New York is the ultimate city. It's a happening place.''

She wants to see the Statue of Liberty, and yeah, Times Square should be pretty cool. She would like to walk around and soak it in. "And a Broadway show would be really fun," she said.

It was explained to her that her father had procured a pair of tickets. He did not know which day or show.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 6th, 2004, 10:01 AM
Bronx Leaders Seek Assurances Security Won't Be Neglected During GOP Convention

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AUGUST 04TH, 2004

There's no question Manhattan residents have a beefed-up police presence because of terrorist threats, but Bronx leaders want to make sure their communities are not forgotten. NY1's Dean Meminger has that story.

Yankee Stadium, Jerome Park Reservoir and the Hunts Point markets are just a few sites Bronx officials fear may be terrorist targets in the borough. But police say they have it covered.

“Every location in the Bronx has been looked at and evaluated for possible terrorist attacks,” says NYPD Bronx Borough Command Inspector Kevin Unick.

Borough President Adolfo Carrion and community board leaders met with Police Department and the Office of Emergency Management representatives on Wednesday. They discussed how new, heightened security measures will protect the Bronx.

The Hunts Point area is a big concern for Bronx leaders. Thousands of trucks come in and out of here every day, dropping off and picking up meat and produce.

“I'm still concerned about the food supply, what agency is monitoring food supply inside the market,” says Carrion.

Twenty-four hours a day, trucks drive into the produce and meat markets; who's stopping and searching those vehicles? Police say they do spot checks of trucks outside, and the food distribution centers have their own security inside.

Other leaders want to know about school safety and evacuations if necessary.

“If we need to move students to other schools, be it by school bus, or, if need be, we’ll call city transit buses to have them moved,” says the OEM’s Jeffrey Armstrong. “The procedure for having the children dismissed, who is going to accept them because of custody, all that we have worked on. Principals have a plan and we have the plan.”

With extra police guarding the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden later this month, questions are swirling about; will the other boroughs be left under-protected against not just terrorists, but your everyday criminals.

The borough president says he has been given assurances that won't happen.

“The police said they will not reduce police details during the convention,” says Carrion. ”We are going to 12-hour shifts, and there will be the same number of police officers in every precinct.”

Carrion says that's a positive for the Bronx.

- Dean Meminger

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

August 8th, 2004, 05:08 AM
August 7, 2004

City to Appeal Ban on Blanket Police Searches


New York City gave formal notice yesterday that it would appeal a ruling by a federal judge that barred the police from conducting blanket searches of bags and backpacks of protesters at the Republican National Convention.

But even though the city "strongly disagrees" with the ruling, by Judge Robert W. Sweet, it will not seek an emergency stay before the convention, said Michael A. Cardozo, the city's top lawyer. He said the ruling gave the police "the necessary flexibility" to move to general bag searches if they received any information pointing to "the probability of a threat to public safety."

The July 16 ruling, in Federal District Court in Manhattan, came in a suit filed against the city by the New York Civil Liberties Union. The Police Department objected vehemently to any constraints on its security tactics for the convention, a possible target for terrorist attack.

Judge Sweet wrote that he was seeking to balance the requirements of the police against the rights of the protesters not to be searched without a specific suspicion.

"Particularly at this dangerous time, it is wrong to subject the N.Y.P.D. to contempt proceedings when it must make difficult decisions about how to secure public safety," Mr. Cardozo said, explaining why the city was proceeding with the appeal.

City officials noted that a federal judge in Boston had allowed the police there to conduct blanket searches of passengers on trains passing under the FleetCenter, where the Democratic National Convention was held last week. The Republican convention will be held in Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 8th, 2004, 05:20 AM
August 7, 2004

Convention Safety Memo Unnerves Transit Workers


Xavier D. Williams, a conductors' union official, says workers are worried about security procedures for the Republican National Convention.

New Jersey Transit conductors say they are being rattled by small packages the agency has been sending to their homes as the Republican National Convention nears and security measures in New York widen.

The conductors have been receiving a company-issued DVD titled "Warning Signs," a 15-minute video provided by the Federal Transit Administration and intended to heighten awareness of potential terrorist activities on their trains.

"This is scaring us," said Xavier D. Williams, the general chairman of Local 60 of the United Transportation Union, which represents the conductors. "My guys and their families are concerned about security issues here."

The conductors said that the DVD, which is meant to be helpful, was proving to be equally intimidating. It offers tips in recognizing suspicious passengers and steers crew members toward possible areas on trains and platforms where explosive devices might be hidden.

The DVD contains images of bus and train explosions, several varieties of bombs and dramatizations of transit workers confronting suspicious loiterers and evacuating a bus after a chemical agent is unleashed.

At one point in the video, the conductors are told, "As transit employees, we are the first line of defense against those who wish to disrupt and disable America's public transportation system, so it is imperative that we know what to do if and when we encounter the warning signs of transit terrorism."

The video was mailed with a memorandum from Chief Joseph C. Bober of the New Jersey Transit Police and William Duggan, vice president and general manager of rail operations. "Enclosed is a video in a DVD format that could save your life, as well as the lives of your co-workers and customers," the memo reads.

Such statements are irritating and unnerving, a number of conductors said. They added that they felt they were being asked to play a law enforcement role they never signed up for.

They declined to be named because under their contract only their union representatives can speak for them to the public.

"I'm a conductor, not a commando," one trainman said as he collected tickets in Newark on Thursday. "For $24.11 an hour, I have no problem doing my job, but don't ask me to play Superman."

Dan Stessel, a spokesman for New Jersey Transit, said that was simply not the case. "We are absolutely not asking our employees to be police officers," he said. "We believe that being informed, aware and vigilant are safety and security tools in the times we live in.

"The purpose of the tools and training is not to scare our employees but to empower them."

Speaking for the union's 1,030 active members, Mr. Williams said he was disappointed with New Jersey Transit management for what he called a lack of communication and for failing to properly relay security plans for the convention, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden.

In addition to the DVD, New Jersey Transit is providing three-hour safety classes to help its crews better identify potential threats, but Mr. Williams said that those classes began on Aug. 3 and that there was not enough time for every conductor to take the class before the convention started.

"We've been given a video and offered a class, but other than that, we're in the dark right now," Mr. Williams said. "We need to know what security measures they will take, and they haven't told us."

Mr. Stessel disputed Mr. Williams's claim. "Since May, there have been four meetings between New Jersey Transit officials and union leadership on the topics of safety and security," he said.

"In addition, we've conducted two employee forums with our general manager of rail operations and the New Jersey Transit chief of police, one in New York and one in Hoboken, to give our employees a chance to ask questions regarding security."

Nevertheless, a number of conductors said that they were growing increasingly nervous as the convention neared and that their spouses and children, who watched the DVD with them, were also worried about their safety, even asking them to stay home from work during that time.

"Not so long ago, when I kissed my husband goodbye as he left for work, I knew he was coming home," one conductor's wife said. "These days, I'm not so sure."

The New Jersey Transit office has issued a news release detailing some of the actions being taken by the agency to create a safer railway environment in the coming days.

Police patrols, a temporary ban on the use of overhead luggage racks, and sealed onboard trash receptacles are among the security measures customers will experience on New York-bound trains during the convention.

As for anything that Mr. Williams, his union and the riding public have not been told, Mr. Stessel offered an explanation. "Security for the Republican National Convention is entirely under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service," he said. "There are several elements of the security plan that are considered law enforcement sensitive."

Mr. Stessel said that the Secret Service had been working with New Jersey Transit and the New York and New Jersey police for months on a security plan for the convention.

"Have they released all the details to our conductors? No," he said.

"Should we be expecting those details? No," he said again.

"You can't divulge the contents of a security plan and expect it to be as effective as it otherwise would be."

Still, Mr. Williams said his union had a right to know more.

"We realize that this is a difficult situation for everybody,'' he said, "but if anything should happen during that week, I don't think a DVD and a three-hour class will have prepared us."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 8th, 2004, 05:23 AM
August 7, 2004

As Convention Week Nears, Many Plot Escapes


Security has already been tightened near the convention site.

When the Republican National Convention arrives in Manhattan on Aug. 30, tens of thousands of visitors will swarm the city, eating, protesting and hatching political strategies. But many New Yorkers plan to be well out of earshot.

Fearing everything from terrorism to Republicans to congested streets and subways, many residents and commuters are planning an exodus.

"It's going to be a mess," said Tanya Simmons, 24, a paralegal from Harlem who will be in Rhode Island when the crowds surface near her office on Seventh Avenue. "They picked the busiest city in the world for this, and I just don't know why. I wish they weren't coming."

It is too early to tell, of course, how many New Yorkers will actually flee. A Quinnipiac University poll released on July 20 gave one indication, finding that 12 percent of New York City registered voters who were questioned said they would be leaving town because of the convention. And Boston's experience with the Democratic convention may be a harbinger: many people heeded Mayor Thomas M. Menino's advice that people leave town or work from home during the event.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is taking a different tack, saying few New Yorkers will be bothered by "minor annoyances" like the 24-hour security checks at Pennsylvania Station during the four-day convention, and the crowds of protesters, predicted to number as many as 500,000, which could shut down several city blocks.

But after this week's terror alert, some residents are clearly rattled. Doormen at several buildings near Madison Square Garden, where the convention is to be held, described their tenants as anxious and scared. Employees at many companies have asked their bosses if they could take time off or work at home, and several businesses have complied.

McGraw-Hill, which has offices directly above Penn Station, is granting nearly all its employees the right to telecommute. Wilens & Baker, a law firm at 450 Seventh Avenue, between West 34th and West 35th Streets, is setting up a satellite office near the courthouse downtown that will include videoconferencing equipment. AR, an advertising agency in the meatpacking district, is giving its 38 employees the week off.

More than 50 other companies throughout the city are also making plans to shut down or let employees leave early or work out of suburban offices, according to a survey by the Human Resources Association of New York.

And in a city that snickers when presidents clog traffic for brief visits to the United Nations, it is not hard to find local residents and workers making plans to skip town. This is especially true around Madison Square Garden.

People who live within five blocks of the site are already irritated by the disappearance of half a dozen mailboxes, which the United States Postal Service removed in early July. The police have announced that 13 blocks of Seventh Avenue - from the garment district to Times Square - and 11 blocks of Eighth Avenue (south of 34th Street) will be closed to traffic when the delegates meet.

Many New Jersey Transit trains will be rerouted from Penn Station to Hoboken, lengthening the travel time of tens of thousands of people. Add the random identification checks that the police have warned residents and workers to expect, and many people figure it will be easier to stay away from the city.

"I have to walk within a block of Madison Square Garden just to get to the subway, and I know that they're going to stop me," said Ryan Young, 24, a real estate broker who lives on West 34th Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues. The extra security, he said, could vastly complicate his commute to Midtown. "I have a California driver's license, and it's going to be hard to prove that I live where I live," he said.

It is not just the bother and fears of terrorism, though, that seem to be pushing New Yorkers from their homes. There is also the matter of politics. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about five to one in the city, and for many people, fleeing the scene amounts to a mild protest.

Some people in today's partisan times, like Julia Cosgrove, 23, of Manhattan even admit that they are leaving to avoid shouting matches with conservative visitors.

"The thought of Republicans storming Eighth and Ninth Aves - my walk to work - is enough to make me want to get as far out of town as possible," Ms. Cosgrove, an editorial assistant at Time Out New York Kids, wrote in an e-mail message. She plans to spend the week on Martha's Vineyard. "My blood started to boil last weekend when I saw a couple having brunch decked out in Bush-Cheney hats and pins, so I'm not sure how I would fare if I saw my neighborhood taken over by supporters."

Nikki Lopez, 26, a real estate broker who lives in TriBeCa, is leaving and telling her friends to escape, too. "I'm very anti-Republican," she said, noting that about half a dozen people are taking her advice. "I don't want to be here when those people are in town."

At the Latino Hip-Hop Summit, a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote rally in the Bronx in July, the actress Rosie Perez said she would be staying home in Brooklyn on the convention's first day "to make a statement that I don't support their candidate."

There are, of course, thousands of New Yorkers who are excited enough about the convention to have volunteered to help welcome the Republicans. Others are staying because, they say, it is still their city. Ms. Perez, for example, much like the tough characters she has played on-screen, said that after her first day at home, "it will be 'Move out of the way, I have to do my thing.' "

And yet for some New Yorkers, the thought of the convention raises old memories of 9/11 and new concerns about safety. David Silberman, 35, a glass importer in Chelsea, will be vacationing with his pregnant wife during the week of the convention because he fears that she could be injured by the crowds.

Phyllis Woods, a jewelry designer who is heading for Vermont with her 34-year-old son, says that the recent terror alert has only made her more convinced of the need to escape. "I'm concerned about safety," Mrs. Woods said. "We also don't want to be stuck with some mass exodus if something happens."

Rob Goldstone, 42, the president of Oui 2 Public Relations in Manhattan, says he is most frightened by the prospect of violent protests and a harsh government response.

"The sheer chaos and madness of the convention will be enough," said Mr. Goldstone, who will be in London when President Bush arrives, far from his apartment at Sixth Avenue and West 38th Street. "But with the timing, with the security concerns that we have today - and with the threat of international and domestic threats - it will be ridiculous. I think it will be unbelievable, on a scale that's never been seen before."

Mayor Bloomberg said it was important for New Yorkers to accept the convention with open arms. "We need the tourism business, and we want to send a message to the rest of the country that even if we don't agree with your politics, we welcome you to our city," he said in a telephone interview. "I think most New Yorkers will feel that way."

But for every pack of urbanites with plans to party for the Republicans, there seems to be someone like Jody King, 28, a graduate student at Yeshiva University who is convinced the Republican influx will make New Yorkers second-class citizens.

"When the convention comes to town, they'll cater to the convention," he said, explaining why he is traveling upstate. "But what about those of us who live here?"

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 8th, 2004, 09:37 AM
August 8, 2004


For Red-State Visitors, a Touch of Kerry Blue


On a Boerum Hill roof, Ben Sturges finished a straightforward message. Another of his slogans: "Drop balms.''

Even crouched on the roof of her brownstone with a dripping paintbrush in her hand, Genevieve Christy retains much of the Southern gentility of her New Orleans upbringing. When a visitor wanders too close to the giant "K" she is working on, she pleasantly declares to no one in particular, "The key issue is not to step in the yellow paint."

Aware that even bigger issues are at stake in this election year, Ms. Christy, who has bright blue eyes and is in her mid-50's, has begun a campaign to adorn Brooklyn rooftops with blue construction tarpaulins in support of the Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry. With the Republican National Convention descending on New York from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, the blue tarps will be painted with Democratic slogans that will be visible to conventioneers flying in from those "red" Republican states around the country.

Ms. Christy, who has lived on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill for 18 years, has so far recruited 30 brownstones and other buildings from Park Slope to Brooklyn Heights to carry the tarps, each of which is 20 feet wide, and at least 40 more buildings are considering the project. The slogans, composed mostly by one of her neighbors, Ben Sturges, urge people to Vote Kerry, Re-Defeat Bush or Drop Balms, among other things.

"We can't control the media,'' Ms. Christy declared, "but we have our rooftops."

Having bought out several local hardware stores of their supply of blue tarps and Sunburst Yellow Rust-Oleum paint, the two plan to paint and install all the tarps by Aug. 28, two days before the convention begins.

"Why is it that New Yorkers, who are the people in our country most at risk for terrorism, overwhelmingly support Kerry?" Ms. Christy asked. "That ought to be a question that all these people flying into New York ask themselves."

Overwhelming support is not total support, however. Stewart Johnson, a portfolio manager at a Manhattan financial services firm and another neighbor, has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1972. Mr. Johnson, too, will have a banner on his roof come the convention, but it won't be one of Ms. Christy's. His tarp will be red, to display his support of the Bush administration.

Mr. Johnson wants to show those passing overhead that the neighborhood is not uniformly liberal, he said, and has recruited "a small handful" of supporters so far. "You have such a contrarian view, particularly in New York, particularly in this neighborhood, if you think that Bush isn't Satan incarnate," he said. "I've had a bunch of very positive responses from disenfranchised Democrats like myself, some of whom are afraid to say it. I'm going to try to get people to come out of the closet on this."

"The change for me started post-9/11," Mr. Johnson said of his political shift. "The Democratic Party has just totally changed. They've gone from icons like F.D.R. to Michael Moore. How far can you fall?"

Ms. Christy, who grew up in an "extremely conservative" household but became a Democrat in college, described herself as unperturbed by the counterprotest. "I don't think they make red construction tarp," she said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 8th, 2004, 10:37 AM
August 8, 2004

Republican Donors Are Paying to Play at the Convention


WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 - Lunch at the Plaza Hotel. Dinner at Le Cirque. Cocktails at the New York Stock Exchange. That's the least the Republican Party could do to welcome its top fund-raisers to the convention in New York this month. Right?

Yes, but there's just one catch. They have to pay for it.

These supporters - some of whom have raised $200,000 or more for President Bush or the party - are being charged a "convention fee'' this year of up to $4,500 per person for themselves and each guest, according to a Web page run by LogiCom Project Management, the company handling the events and travel arrangements.

That's just for starters. The fund-raisers will also pay for airfare, several nights in a hotel and optional events they might choose - like a fashion show at Barneys or the U.S. Open tennis tournament. The result is that a couple could easily run up a tab of well over $10,000.

"A lot of us looked at that thing and said, whoa!'' said Bruce Bialosky of California, who raised $100,000 to become a Pioneer fund-raiser. He estimates that the convention will cost him and his family $15,000. "A lot of people just can't afford that.''

Republican officials say the fees have risen this year - they topped out at $1,750 in 2000 - because of the new McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which eliminated the unlimited so-called soft money contributions that used to make up a large part of the party's finances and were traditionally used to pay for convention events. Now operating on a leaner budget, the Republican Party chose to pass the costs on to those attending the convention rather than spend cash that could be used to support President Bush in the election.

"We want to use our hard money resources in the smartest way possible,'' said Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. "When we win, everyone will appreciate that we marshaled our resources to support a victory.''

The fees might have been considered a contribution if collected by the national committee, so officials instead hired LogiCom to collect the money and run the events.

While Democratic fund-raisers got into parties free during their national convention in Boston, some Republicans - even the most well off - are experiencing sticker shock. A few said they called campaign officials to complain. Others are looking into leaving their spouses behind, sharing hotel rooms or taking other measures to cut costs. Almost all said they have heard grumbling from their friends in fund-raising circles.

"The price of playing the game has risen dramatically,'' said Fred Zeidman, a Texas fund-raiser who has brought in at least $200,000. "I don't think anybody is happy about writing the check. But it's a cost of doing business.''

The Bush campaign is famously frugal, sometimes serving hot dogs and other plain fare at fund-raising events. As Shawn Steel, a California fund-raiser who has brought in $200,000 together with his wife, joked, "These are about the stingiest bunch of guys I've ever seen.''

At the same time, Mr. Steel and many other fund-raisers, including Mr. Bialosky and Mr. Zeidman, said they understood the need for the charges. "I don't blame them," Mr. Bialosky said. "They didn't have a choice. They are not trying to stick it to us, there are costs to these things."

Political conventions are often seen as a way to thank fund-raisers for months of collecting large checks - and to get them to raise more before Election Day in November.

To some, the pricing structure itself may seem unfair because the biggest fund-raisers, instead of being rewarded for their success, are expected to fork over even more money to attend the events.

Mr. Bush's Rangers, who each raised at least $200,000 for the campaign, are being asked to pay $4,500; Pioneers, who raised at least $100,000, are being asked for $4,000; Mavericks, the under-40 fund-raisers who gathered at least $50,000, are being asked to pay $3,650. Several other packages cost less, according to the LogiCom site.

Fund-raisers at all three levels are being invited to a concert at Lincoln Center featuring the singer Linda Eder, a finance committee lunch at the Plaza Hotel (complete with breakout sessions afterward), receptions at Tavern on the Green and the New York Stock Exchange, and a farewell party at Cipriani's on the last day of the convention.

There are also some special perks.

Rangers, for example, get a lunch at Sotheby's and the opportunity to stay at the Ritz-Carlton, but rooms costing $475 to $700 a night are already sold out, according to the site. What is left in a block of rooms reserved for donors starts at $850, with suites beginning at $2,000 - and there is a five-night minimum.

Officials at LogiCom declined to comment on the events or the costs, referring calls to the Republican National Committee. Ms. Iverson, the committee spokeswoman, declined to say how much the events cost to organize in total or the terms of the LogiCom contract.

Of course, fund-raisers do not have to attend special parties, nor do they have to stay at fancy hotels. There are more than enough events that cost little or nothing.

But some Republicans say the fun of a convention is mixing with fellow fund-raisers, many of whom are friends from other states they have been working with for months, whether it is in the convention hall, in hotel hospitality suites or at parties given especially for them.

So it was for Mr. Bialosky, who found economical airfares, opted for cheaper accommodations and chose a cheaper package of events in order to trim costs so he could attend with his wife and his two teenage children.

"I really wanted to be a Pioneer or a Ranger; that's what I worked my butt off to do,'' Mr. Bialosky said. "I don't have an endless pot of money to commit to political events. But I didn't want to go there and not participate in the Pioneer and Ranger stuff. That felt horrible.''

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 8th, 2004, 06:48 PM

Treats for delegates attending the Garden
(above) include a BBQ with Mike Piazza.

August 8, 2004

When he flies to New York in two weeks for the Republican National Convention, Montana delegate John Rabenberg won't worry about terrorism, but the cost of the Big Apple terrifies him.
"You're too expensive for an old country boy," said Rabenberg, 67, a grain farmer from Fort Peck, who will lead his state's delegation when he arrives for a 10-day stay Aug. 25.

"I hope I can get by with $4,000."

Unless he splurges at Tiffany's, he won't need nearly that much.

Thanks to a feast of freebies and special deals, Rabenberg and the other 13,373 delegates will barely have to touch their wallets while in town for the convention, which runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Delegates must pay for their airfare and hotel rooms, but almost everything else — food, travel, shopping, entertainment — is either on the house or deeply discounted.

"The idea is to encourage the delegates to come out and see things," said Paul Elliott, spokesman for the RNC host committee, which helped to line up the goodies by raising $7.7 million for shindigs.

Delegates will snag free tickets to one of eight Broadway shows, take batting practice at Shea Stadium, then chomp barbecue with star players like Mike Piazza, and clink glasses with ex-NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik at a cocktail party at Barneys.

And don't forget all the no-expense eating and drinking at private parties, including a bash hosted by Rudy Giuliani at Le Cirque 2000 on Sept. 1.

Or the amazing shopping deals not available to mere mortals, such as 20 percent discounts on designer products like Kenneth Cole shoes, Nicole Miller duds and Tourneau watches.
And getting around town won't set the delegates back a dime, thanks to free MetroCards and shuttle buses.

Not that the out-of-towners plan to cash in on all the deals.

Maressa Seat, 22, a part-time student from Oklahoma, wants to concentrate on convention duties — and spend at least one day volunteering to help underprivileged kids.

Number-crunchers at the city's Economic Development Corporation are predicting a major boom for the convention — saying the event will pump $265 million into the city's economy.

But one economist said that figure was much too high — particularly after Boston turned into a ghost town during the Democratic convention.

"If the thinking is that delegates are going to be spending like crazy, the Boston experience says that's not the case," said Paul Bachman, of the Beacon Hill Institute in Massachusetts.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

August 8th, 2004, 06:50 PM

August 8, 2004

Despite predictions of a sellout, reservations can still be made at the city's top hotels and restaurants during the Republican National Convention.

A Post audit of the 26 upscale hotels reserved for delegates showed rooms still available at 16 — including the Hilton on Sixth Avenue, the Intercontinental on Central Park South and the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Times Square — for about $400 a night.

A sales assistant at the Hilton — where delegates from Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas will stay — said they reduced their charge of $329 a night to their rack rate of $279 after several cancellations this past week.

Twenty upmarket restaurants, including Alain Ducasse at Essex House and Aix on Broadway, said they are still taking lunch and dinner bookings for the four days of the convention.

"With the convention mostly on at night, dinner reservations should not be too hard to get, especially as it's summer and it's a little slower anyway," said a source close to Café Boulud on East 76th Street.

Other restaurant sources said the Blue Fin on Broadway, Maison on Seventh Avenue and Fiamma on Spring Street are also booked by delegates.

Only the hotels housing the largest number of delegates are sold out, such as the Marriott Marquis on Broadway — soon to be home to the California, Ohio and Tennessee delegations.

A reservation operator said that for the past two months the hotel has been fully booked for the duration of the convention.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

August 9th, 2004, 05:48 AM
August 9, 2004

A Guide to the Convention, but Not Just for Republicans


Eight months ago, Paul Chan, a 31-year-old artist, began thinking about the tens of thousands of people from across the United States who are expected to arrive in New York at the end of this month to protest during the Republican National Convention.

For many of them, he realized, a foray into a large city might be a confusing and daunting experience. So, with two friends, Joshua Breitbart and Nadxieli Mannello, he began designing a reference guide called "The People's Guide to the Republican National Convention."

The cover of the glossy guide, which folds out into nine panels with illustrations and writing on both sides, shows an elephant clambering King Kong-like atop the Empire State Building.

Included is information of the sort that could be of use to any traveler: a street map of Manhattan south of 59th Street and addresses of restaurants, bookstores, libraries and places to rent bicycles.

Other elements are specific to the convention: hotels where various state delegations will be staying, sites of official convention events, and times and locations of planned demonstrations. There are also the words of the First Amendment, phone numbers for the New York Civil Liberties Union and information about bail bondsmen.

The three creators said they spent $6,000 of their own money to print the guides, but are distributing them free.

"The main reason we made the guide is so that people have enough information to get in the way or out of the way," Mr. Chan said.

On Thursday, he and his friends began distributing 25,000 copies to bookstores, community groups, churches and other places.

Yesterday, a few dozen guides sat on a round wooden table in a storefront on East Houston Street used by the environmental advocacy group Time's Up!, which is planning to take part in demonstrations during the convention.

Nikki Crook, 23, a first-grade teacher who lives on the Upper East Side, unfolded one of the guides and examined it. "I think it's really great," she said as she gazed at a panel that listed the Broadway plays that delegates will attend. "This,'' she said, "is a resource with a lot of valuable information."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 9th, 2004, 05:50 AM
August 9, 2004

Permit Denial for Big Park Rally Adds to Push for Protests There


To officials of both New York City and the largest coalition of protest groups expected at the Republican National Convention, negotiations over the use of Central Park for a huge protest rally during the convention had ended more than two weeks ago with an agreement to hold the rally at an alternative site, along the West Side Highway.

However, to many protesters from all across the political spectrum - from self-described Clinton Democrats to Libertarians - losing the battle for Central Park was a galvanizing moment, a new cause for protest and all the more reason to gather in the park, although individually or in much smaller groups than originally planned by the coalition, United for Peace and Justice.

"I think they can expect a lot of people are going to end up congregating in Central Park during the convention," said Christopher Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "There's widespread unhappiness with the city's decision. Many people will go there simply to protest that closure."

The Parks Department has granted eight permits for Central Park events that it describes as convention-related, including rallies, races and readings that range in size from groups of 80 people to more than 32,000. Several are scheduled for the week leading up to the convention, which opens on Aug. 30. All are in parts of the park officials describe as less susceptible to damage than the Great Lawn, the site for which United for Peace and Justice had sought a permit for 250,000 people to gather on Sunday, Aug. 29.

City officials said their response to protesters gathering without permits would depend on how they behave.

"They can carry signs, they can stand up on benches and declaim to their hearts' content," said the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe. "They just have to respect the rights of others."

"Anybody's welcome to go to Central Park," Mr. Benepe said. "On a busy summer weekend, you'll get 200,000 people in Central Park. It'd be hard to notice a few more."

The Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said that small groups of protesters who are not using amplified sound would probably draw no response from officers. "You can think of permits as sometimes allowing things that would not otherwise be permitted, such as blocking a street," Mr. Browne said. "Free speech is allowed at any time, but if you're going to use amplified noise or speakers, we would react accordingly."

United for Peace and Justice spent more than a year seeking the permit for the Great Lawn demonstration. The Parks Department rejected the request on the ground that a group that size would severely damage the grass. The coalition ultimately agreed to accept the West Side Highway location rather than sue the city.

"At this point, the park has become symbolic of the First Amendment," said Jim Lesczynski, chairman of the Manhattan Libertarian Party, which has publicly called for what it describes as an unauthorized protest in the park on Aug. 29. "Just because of the fact that there were negotiations, there's outrage that they could be told when and where they can protest."

At the Democratic National Convention in Boston last month, protesters largely ignored so-called free speech zones set up outside the convention center, deriding them as cages and choosing instead to hold impromptu gatherings in other parts of the city. In doing so, they established something of a precedent for protesters at the Republican gathering in New York, among them Erik Henriksen, 29, a graduate student who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Mr. Henriksen said he plans some kind of personal protest in the park, but he is not sure what form it will take. "It's just to be there, just to claim my couple square feet to stand on," he said. "I'm not killing the grass, I'm not part of any organization, and I'm not seeking a permit."

Last Tuesday, the Not In Our Name Project, the group that organized a Central Park gathering that drew thousands of people to the East Meadow in October 2002 to protest the planned invasion of Iraq, issued a statement calling for a reopening of the permit application for Central Park.

"There are things circulating around the country, people have put out things saying, 'Do not go to the West Side Highway, go to Central Park,' " said AiMara Lin, an organizer of the group. "We're trying to tap into that popular sentiment."

These calls for a convergence on Central Park have won support not just from the fringes of anarchists, Maoists and assorted malcontents, but also from mainstream opponents of the convention.

"Some people have decided they're going to go there anyway," said Bill Perkins, a city councilman from Upper Manhattan. "It reminds me of the Boston Tea Party. It's as American as apple pie."

Edward I. Koch, who was mayor during a huge June 1982 protest in Central Park against the buildup of nuclear weapons and who is chairman of the convention volunteers' committee, said that demonstrators who intend to break the law to protest the denial of a permit should remember the definition of civil disobedience.

"I believe in civil disobedience, so long as it's nonviolent, and so long as you're willing to pay the penalty," Mr. Koch said. "When you're arrested, you can't go before the court and say, 'Don't punish me.' "

For all their anger, some demonstrators may find the whole exercise little more than a tense but ultimately uneventful day in the park.

"I don't plan to make any signs and parade in the park," said Drew Olewnick, 44, a protester who lives in New York and works in the finance industry. "I'll try to time my biweekly bike ride for that day, then meet people on the Great Lawn, like I normally do. But I'm picking this particular time on this day for a reason."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 9th, 2004, 12:43 PM
Garmentos, galleries brace for the RNC

Aaugust 9, 2004

Garment center tenants are scrambling to determine how they will be affected by the Republican National Convention, while gallery owners plan anti-Bush showings.

The Fashion Industry BID was forced to schedule two meetings this week with local police precinct officials and members of the NYC 2004 Host Committee after about 400 people said that they planned to attend the one session that was planned.

The meetings, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Parsons School of Design, will discuss identification for employees, deliveries and sanitation pickup. Meanwhile, a number of New York City art galleries are staging their own form of protest against the RNC this month with exhibitions that are largely anti-Bush.

The most blatant is called “AmBush!” which will feature newly created works by close to 30 artists at the Van Brunt Gallery from Aug. 24 to Sept. 18.

Other shows include “Watch What We Say,” an exhibition of 21 artists at Schroeder Romero in Brooklyn, and “The Forbidden Pictures, A Political Tableau,” a satire of the Bush administration by photographer Larry Fink, which opened at PowerHouse Gallery in SoHo six weeks ago.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

August 9th, 2004, 02:51 PM
Poll: Many New Yorkers Not Favoring Arrival of Republican National Convention

By Lucy Yang

(New York-WABC, August 8, 2004) — With the Republican National Convention just three weeks away, a whole of New Yorkers are apparently wishing it would go away. A new poll suggests that heightened concerns about security may be stoking some of the anti-convention sentiments.

The Mayor promises it will be a boost to the city's economy. The Police Commissioner describes it as exciting event for the city. Still, most New Yorkers according to a new poll are saying no thanks to the upcoming Republican Convention.

As Republicans get excited about converging on Madison Square Garden to bask in the political limelight this month, many New Yorkers apparently are not amused. A recent survey by a Manhattan public relations firm found 83 percent of those polled do not want the Republican convention in town. When asked why, more than half, 53 percent, were worried about traffic, street closures, and security hassles. All of this, prompting the city's biggest cheerleaders to soothe and reassure New Yorkers that it will all be worth it.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City(R): "It is not going to cost the city anything other than the $25 million in security and it'll generate hundreds of millions in economic activity. It's really going to be great for the whole city. And I think everybody is really looking forward it."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly adding the city can handle large-scale events without a hiccup, and that it won't be as bad as many fear.

Ray Kelly, NYC Police Commissioner : "I think there will be a lot less disruption than people seem to think or the media has been talking about...certainly in the vicinity of Madison Square Garden."

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York City (R): "The fact is, you are in the hands of the New York Police Department, they have done a masterful job of making the city safer than it was before September 11th, 2001."

While city leaders past and present put the best spin on the convention, the same poll found 70 percent are afraid to go to work the week of August 30th because of security concerns. Tapping into the fear factor, other states are now trying to lure New Yorkers away for the week.

Amanda Smart, Manhattan Resident: "I feel like it is going to be a mad house. We have a hard time getting to work. It is going to be terrible to be in the city that week."

Whether you are planning on leaving New York that week, not showing up for work, or looking forward to the convention, all of the thousands upon thousands of delegates and protesters will all be here in three short weeks.

August 9th, 2004, 10:34 PM
GOP gives delivery guidelines

August 9, 2004

The Republican convention host committee announced Monday a schedule for commercial deliveries in the garment center during the convention.

In the “safety zone” from Sixth to Ninth avenues, from 29th to 35th streets—around Penn Station, where the convention will take place, deliveries will be allowed from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 30, and 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday. The committee said the police will establish protocols for deliveries at other times, which might include parking outside the zone, and advised businesses in the area to “stock up, if possible, before Sunday.”

Tom Cat Bakery, whose mainstay is restaurants and sandwich shops in Manhattan, has been busy planning for the convention by hiring extra trucks and drivers who will make one delivery a day versus the usual two.

Chief Operating Officer Michael Reich said that based on what he’s heard about the recent Boston convention, he expects GOP-related business in restaurants and hotels to be “way up, but expects his other business—in midtown corporate dining rooms, for instance—will suffer.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

August 10th, 2004, 07:18 AM
August 10, 2004

Truck Checkpoints to Surround G.O.P. Convention in Midtown


The police will use a series of checkpoints in the area surrounding the Republican National Convention to screen trucks for hazardous or destructive materials, Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced yesterday.

The convention will run from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden. With just under three weeks remaining, the city seems to have addressed several of the loose ends for people who live and work around the Garden. Mr. Kelly's remarks came during a presentation to a convention of private security workers.

The checkpoints will use barriers strong enough to mangle a large truck trying to break through, Mr. Kelly said, calling the security against truck bombs "extremely robust."

The checkpoints will be at West 31st, 32nd and 33rd Streets on the west side of the Avenue of the Americas, West 31st and 33rd Streets on the east side of Ninth Avenue, Seventh Avenue at West 34th Street and West 30th Street, and Eighth Avenue at West 34th Street and West 30th Street.

After stopping, the trucks will be checked underneath with video cameras, the police said.

The NYC 2004 Host Committee said yesterday that it had contacted the more than 1,500 businesses in the area to address their concerns through mailings, telephone calls and more than 800 visits. Newsstand vendors may remain open during the convention, the host committee said in a statement yesterday.

The New York City Department of Sanitation will remove trash from the "safety zone" during the convention, with the only exception being private haulers that handle trash compactors.

Other matters addressed include assisting the large number of elderly residents in the Penn South Properties buildings on Eighth Avenue and attempts to direct homeless people inside the zone to shelters.

"The picture of life around the Garden seems to have been painted," said Edward Skyler, a spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Mr. Kelly said the city had not significantly altered its security plan since the recent terrorism warnings and the intelligence gathered from captured members of Al Qaeda.

"We're using, in essence, the same plan that we had in place," Mr. Kelly said. "We worked on it for a long time, obviously. I see no need for major revisions."

A New Weapon in the Battle to Make a Convention Secure



The United States has a new weapon in its effort to prevent terrorist attacks in New York City during the Republican National Convention: a piece of sonar equipment that will scan underwater piers, hulls and seawalls in New York Harbor for suspicious activity.

Since the device uses sonar, which is based on sound waves, it should be effective in the sometimes murky waters around the city. This week, researchers are testing the device in New Orleans, in Lake Pontchartrain and the muddy Mississippi River harbor, to see if it is ready to be used in New York during convention week, which runs from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

The most important feature of the device is the three-dimensional image it returns. A ship's hull, or the chain of an anchor, or the pilings below a pier are rendered in an image of colored lines, much easier for the untrained eye to decipher than the ping of traditional sonar.

"It becomes sort of intuitive, what you're looking at," said Scot T. Tripp, a Coast Guard project manager for research and development. "The software allows you to walk around it and see it on any side."

The equipment, called the Mobile Inspection Package, was developed at the Center for Ocean Technology in the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida. New York is to be its first real mission.

The device is expected to cut down the need for divers. "They can scan in a few minutes in zero-visibility water what it would take a team of divers hours to do," said Larry Langebrake, director of the center.

The device beams live images to computers on a boat and on shore, and records them, so that any change will be detected, Mr. Tripp said. "The basic application for this is to go into an area you want to secure, know what's down there, know it's safe, then you can go back," he said. "It takes the drudgery of searching an area off the divers and allows them to search the area if something is found."

The tool is being tested on a 41-foot patrol boat in New Orleans, small enough to get around New York Harbor quickly during the convention. Scientists hope to test the device on a moving target this week in New Orleans's downtown harbor.

The polluted lake, where years ago fish were said to leap into the air for a gulp of oxygen, is similar to the waters of New York Harbor. "This will give us a capability we don't have now," Mr. Tripp said. "With acoustic imaging, you're not worried about water clarity."

Mark DuPont, a chief warrant officer with the Coast Guard's northeastern district, approved of testing the device for the convention. "A lot of our ports are dark ports, dark waters," he said. "As long as the tests yield the results they want it to, it will be sent to New York."

Eventually, the device will be part of a fully automatic underwater robot that will explore the lower depths, Mr. Tripp said. In its current form, it will be able to create images of objects on the harbor's floor, he said. The scientists are curious about what they will see in New Orleans, and beyond.

"Especially," he said, "when we get to New York."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 10th, 2004, 07:27 AM
August 10, 2004

G.O.P. Plans Spectacle to Jazz Up Convention


Frank Breeden

When the curtain goes up on the Republican National Convention on Aug. 30, the supporting cast will include gospel- and country-music performers, elaborate videos, and celebrities doing what they can to help market President Bush's ideas and vision for America, one of the convention's organizers said yesterday.

But the convention will present not only politicians and celebrities on each of its four days. People from around the country have been invited to offer an invocation or benediction or to make some other short statement, said Frank Breeden, the convention's director of entertainment, who called this aspect of the program "Preachers and Patriots."

The Republicans are hoping that their convention, in New York, can help give their candidate the significant bounce in the polls that eluded the Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry, after the convention in Boston. And so the party hired Mr. Breeden, a former president of the Gospel Music Association renowned in the Christian music industry, to help produce a show that carefully weaves the party's political message with a mix of music, star power and patriotic symbolism.

Republicans have generally been tight-lipped about convention details, but in an interview, Mr. Breeden gave some clues about what to expect. He said he has worked since November to help recruit celebrities to perform, give press interviews, attend parties or be otherwise visible at Madison Square Garden.

The goal, Mr. Breeden said, is to help market the party's political ideas.

"Entertainment plays more of a prominent role in marketing messages today than ever before," Mr. Breeden said in a telephone interview. And he said that the convention organizers wanted to employ those tools in selling their political philosophy: "Just like Cadillac uses Led Zeppelin to market its ideas."

From the very moment Republican officials chose New York City as the site of their convention for the first time in the party's history, convention organizers said they were trying to create a singular event. Some of the highlights are expected to be speeches from California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and from former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York.

Mr. Breeden said that the list of entertainers was complete and would be released soon by the public relations arm of the Committee on Arrangements, which is actually organizing the event. But he said that in addition to employing celebrities, the convention would rely heavily on videos to help makes its case.

"We have taken several different story points and used media to enhance them and communicate the message," Mr. Breeden said, using the language of convention organizers.

With networks cutting back on their coverage, Mr. Breeden said that organizers had their work cut out for them.

"Television is very competitive; convention television is even more competitive,'' Mr. Breeden said. "It is diminished coverage and even harder to get viewers to tune in. We have to think like television, use a large pallet of creative ideas to convey the message."

Mr. Breeden, who lives in Tennessee, has been spending weekdays in Manhattan helping pull together the convention, which is scheduled to run from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. During his tenure at the head of the Christian music industry trade group, Mr. Breeden was credited with helping to expand the reach and sales of Christian music.

He said yesterday that he expected the convention to be heavy with gospel, country and Broadway music, and with patriotic music. He said there would be several renditions of the national anthem as well. And he said there would be a stage band made up entirely of some of the most sought-after studio musicians in New York City. Everyone is being paid union wages, he said.

Mr. Breeden said that during his months of work on the convention, he had run up against some obstacles that were surprising and others that he had expected.

After a career in the entertainment industry, Mr. Breeden said he knew well that many of the most outspoken performers do not support the Bush administration. "For whatever reason, on the Democratic side of things, the celebrities who have an affinity with that party tend to be more activist-oriented and tend to get headlines," he said.

Recently Bruce Springsteen and some other high-profile musicians announced a national tour to help defeat President Bush.

Mr. Breeden described some challenges in trying to find celebrities for the G.O.P. event. He said that on many occasions he found there were entertainers who supported the president, or Republican ideas, but who felt their careers would be hurt if they made that support public. Mr. Breeden identified the actor Ron Silver as someone who expressed that opinion to him, although Mr. Silver said that was not exactly the case.

"I have no direct evidence that my position on the war or my political leanings have hurt me in any way,'' Mr. Silver said, expressing support for the intervention in Iraq and saying, "Certainly the expression of my political viewpoint is unpopular."

He said that Mr. Breeden had informally asked him if he would be interested in some role at the convention, but that while he supported the president for re-election because of his foreign-policy position, he did not support his "social agenda."

"It depends on the nature of the involvement," Mr. Silver said. "If they said, 'We'd like you to talk about 9/11, from the lofty perch of history,' I'd be happy to do that."

Finally, Mr. Breeden said he found himself competing with the many parties that are being held by politicians, elected officials, lobbyists and corporations. Many have booked performers who might otherwise have appeared at the convention. He said he heard there were as many as 400 parties organized for convention week.

"This is a fascinating job," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 10th, 2004, 08:43 AM
Poster Campaign Calls For Protest During GOP Convention

http://www.ny1.com/Content/images/live/66/131262.JPG (http://real.ny1.com:8080/ramgen/real3/000C57F3_040808_170702hi.rm)

AUGUST 09TH, 2004

Volunteers are plotting out strategy and drawing battle lines across the city, as the group "Not In Our Name" gets ready to send a message to Republicans gathering in New York at the end of the month. They are spreading posters and flyers across the city with the words, “I Say No.”

It “basically means I say no to the Bush agenda, I say no to the war, I say no to the Bush regime,” explained Vanessa Weber, a member of the anti-war group.

Volunteers were on the Lower East Side Sunday, going from store to store, staying on message and convincing business owners to let them display the posters in their windows.

The owner of a clothing store was game, but his focus is not the war on Iraq. “The economy is weak, the economy is soft,” said the owner, Ziggy Spitzer. “I'd like to get the economy growing, and hopefully the new president is going to make a better economy.”

Organizers say the “I Say No” posters will soon be in storefronts across the city.

“We need to create a situation where people wake up in the morning and there's a poster outside their house saying no to the Bush agenda,” said group member Ana Gordon-Loebl. “And they go to work and there's a poster there. And they go to lunch and there's another poster. And then they come home at night and there's that same poster.”

The group's goal is to get New Yorkers to come out and protest the administration's policies regarding the war in Iraq and the handling of immigrants.

Reaction from businesses is mixed. Some say yes, some no and some say to come back later.

“If they say no, they probably want to protect their business, which is more than understandable,” Weber said. “They are probably against what we stand for, which is fine as well. It's a little disheartening, but you just have to understand."

But the girls pushed ahead, telling store owners they are battling a government campaign that they say is causing the people of New York City to fear protesting the Republican National Convention.

“Maybe they were scared to have this hanging in their window, because at this point the climate in this country is that dissent is not OK and opposition isn't welcome,” says Gordon-Loebl.

Using the posters as way to end that fear is something they all say “yes” to.

- Milanee Kapadia

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

August 10th, 2004, 08:45 AM
Private Citizens Release Guide To Republican National Convention

http://www.ny1.com/Content/images/live/66/131322.jpg (http://real.ny1.com:8080/ramgen/real3/000C5C4F_040809_174027hi.rm)

AUGUST 09TH, 2004

A new guide to help New Yorkers and visitors during the Republican National Convention is now available.

New Yorker Paul Chan and two of his friends spent $6,000 of their own money to create "The People's Guide to the Republican National Convention." The GOP convention runs from August 30 to September 2 at Madison Square Garden.

The guide includes a map of the city south of 59th Street. It also includes 600 pieces of information, including convention event locations, protest sites, restaurants, lodging, hospital locations, and even legal aid.

"We designed the map so that anyone and everyone who picks up the map can use it to get in the way or get out of the way," said Chan.

The guides are free, and can be found in area bookstores and through community groups and churches.

For more information on the guide you can also visit www.rncguide.com.

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

August 10th, 2004, 08:52 AM
Renew fight for Central Pk. rally

Organizers of the biggest protest planned for the Republican National Convention are expected to try today to reopen the fight for a Central Park rally, sources said yesterday.

United for Peace and Justice spokesman Bill Dobbs declined to comment, other than saying the group has scheduled a news conference for today.

But the group is expected to announce it's unhappy with the rally route the NYPD proposed - and it agreed to - along the West Side Highway last month, and likely will make a new push for the Great Lawn, sources said.

It was unclear what means the group could use to reopen the issue, which appeared closed last month when United for Peace and Justice grudgingly agreed to the West Side Highway route.
The fight for the Great Lawn started last year, when the group applied for a permit for a massive, 250,000-person rally there. But the Parks Department nixed the request, saying it was more people than the grass could handle.

Maggie Haberman
Originally published on August 10, 2004

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

August 10th, 2004, 08:56 AM


August 10, 2004 -- Security concerns at the Republican National Convention will be felt from the sky above to the earth below, officials said yesterday.

In a briefing for several hundred private security directors at Police Headquarters, officials revealed that the all helicopter flights over the city would be grounded on the last day of the convention, when President Bush delivers his acceptance speech.

Underground blasting for the city's new water tunnel, now under construction just blocks from Madison Square Garden, also will be halted for the week of the convention, Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

"We didn't want anyone to get nervous," explained one official.

Security will be so tight in the immediate area around the Garden that even private garbage haulers are being banned, except for those who pick up trash compactors.

Businesses are being instructed to place their refuse in plastic bags "since the Department of Sanitation does not have equipment to pick up Dumpsters" which they usually use.

As The Post previously reported, officials said they will establish checkpoints around the Garden where all trucks and buses must stop so their undercarriages can be examined for suspicious devices.

Mayor Bloomberg told the security chiefs that the convention provides the city with a unique opportunity to showcase itself, perhaps even influencing the International Olympic Committee in its selection of the 2012 Summer Games host.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

Ron Newman
August 10th, 2004, 01:41 PM
Some RNC-related web sites I've found:

RNC Not Welcome (http://www.rncnotwelcome.org/)

Visual Resistance (http://www.visualresistance.org/)

Counter Convention (http://www.counterconvention.org/)

People's Guide to the RNC (http://www.rncguide.com/)

RNC Watch (http://rncwatch.typepad.com/), a blog associated with NYC IndyMedia (http://www.nyc.indymedia.org/)

August 10th, 2004, 08:10 PM
Anti-war group makes new push for park

August 10, 2004

Anti-war group United for Peace and Justice is pulling out of an agreement to hold its anti-GOP rally on the West Side Highway, saying the site will pose health hazards to protesters, and plans to reapply to hold the demonstration in Central Park. The event is scheduled for Aug. 29, the day before the Republican National Convention opens in midtown.

The announcement was the latest salvo in the group's battle with the city over where to hold the demonstration, which UPJ estimates will draw some 250,000 people. UPJ has been pushing to hold it on the Great Lawn of Central Park, but the city demurred, citing the potential for damage to the grass. Last month, UPJ agreed to hold the rally on the highway.

In a letter to supporters released Monday, UPJ said it decided that the highway on the far West Side of Manhattan, shadeless and removed as it is from public transportation, is an unacceptable location. The group said the city had not met its demands for free drinking water and shuttle transportation. In addition, the group estimates that installing a sound system and Jumbotron screens along the highway will cost twice as much as installing them in the park.

In other convention news, the police and fire unions ratcheted up the pressure on their two-year-long contract talks with the city, which have reached an impasse. Both unions said that members would confront the mayor in public until he agrees to arbitration, and that they are not ruling out a strike or sick-out during the convention.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

August 11th, 2004, 05:56 AM
August 11, 2004

Tensions With Unions and Protesters Build as Convention Approaches


Members of the police and firefighters' unions and a construction union protested on Wall Street on Tuesday as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had lunch with the chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange and as he went to his sport utility vehicle. Groups have trailed him at news conferences and near his Upper East Side town house.

Union officials representing firefighters and police officers said yesterday that they would not rule out strikes or other work stoppages during the Republican National Convention, raising the stakes in their battle to get new labor contracts with the city.

The unions have been trailing the mayor at his public events and heckling him relentlessly in recent days. Clearly buoyed by the increased attention that these demonstrations have attracted, several dozen firefighters, police officers and their union officials gathered briefly on the steps of City Hall yesterday to denounce both the mayor and their stalled contract negotiations, and to make veiled threats about the convention.

"The level of frustration is so high," said Stephen J. Cassidy, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, "I can't account for what might happen" during the convention.

When asked repeatedly if the two groups would consider striking or taking other labor actions, Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said, "We will not rule out anything."

The unions are barred by law from staging strikes or work stoppages, and under state law, their leaders cannot even call for such activity. But their remarks yesterday raised the specter of such labor actions during the convention, even if the unions do not officially sanction strikes or work stoppages.

Labor unrest during the convention - particularly involving groups lauded for their roles responding to the Sept. 11 attack - would be an embarrassment to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; he reached a deal with the Central Labor Council, an umbrella group of city labor organizations, in which unions agreed not to disrupt the convention, which runs from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, said the administration was not concerned about work stoppages during the convention and added, "I can't imagine they would pass up such a great opportunity to get overtime."

The police and firefighters have been working without a contract for two years. The Bloomberg administration has offered the unions essentially the same contract accepted by the largest municipal union, District Council 37, with a 5 percent raise over three years in exchange for some concessions. Mr. Skyler said yesterday that the raises could go as high as 8 percent, but only with changes in the police officers' and firefighters' work schedules.

Fire and police union officials have scoffed at the idea that they should be treated the same way as clerical and other city workers covered under the District Council 37 contract. "Mike Bloomberg says we're no different than people who push paper," Mr. Cassidy said. "That's a joke. It's a disgrace. It's an insult to the firefighters and police officers who risk their lives every day."

In adopting a more militant stance, the unions may be emboldened by what happened in Boston, where the police threatened to picket parties and events during the Democratic National Convention, but won a 14.5 percent raise over four years through a state arbitrator just before that convention began.

On Monday night, as the mayor met with a group of community leaders on West 10th Street, about 200 firefighters and police officers stood outside, screaming loudly throughout the event. When the mayor left, the uniformed workers, aided by some scaffolding that created excellent acoustics, screamed loudly at him, "Shame on you!"

Mr. Bloomberg, looking chagrined at having to be handled like Jessica Simpson emerging from Madison Square Garden, was all but pushed into his sport utility vehicle by his security detail, which had driven it onto the curb to avoid the protesters in the street. The group also heckled Mr. Skyler, saying, "Eddie, we know where you live," said some of the police officers assigned to patrol outside the meeting.

A small group also gathered yesterday outside a restaurant in Lower Manhattan, where the mayor had lunch with John A. Thain, chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange. Groups have trailed the mayor at news conferences at the Queens Museum of Art, near his town house on the Upper East Side and at other scattered events over the last month.

The number of protesters has increased. Sometimes the mayor stops and tries to talk, as he did at the museum. At other times, his security detail rushes him away. "We will continue to wake the mayor up in the morning and put him to bed at night," Mr. Lynch said yesterday.

The awkward situation between the mayor's security detail, as well as other police officers assigned to protect him, and protesting firefighters and police officers is one of several unusual factors that separate this labor conflict from others. The police and firefighters are strongly connected to the events of Sept. 11, and this association makes them more sympathetic figures, especially to a national audience. As Mr. Cassidy said bluntly yesterday, "Ultimately, this is about media attention."

Mr. Skyler said yesterday that the mayor remains undaunted. "No matter what tactics they use,'' he said, "the mayor isn't going to be intimidated into making a bad deal for the city."

Convention Protesters Drop Deal for Rally, Pushing Anew for Park


Organizers of the largest protest planned for the Republican National Convention yesterday backed out of an agreement with the city to rally along the West Side Highway, and said they would push to hold the event in Central Park despite the city's opposition.

The city's Parks Department immediately rejected the request by the group, United for Peace and Justice, raising the possibility of 250,000 people marching up Seventh Avenue from a staging area south of 23rd Street toward the convention site with no set destination.

The group said it still planned to march past Madison Square Garden on Aug. 29 - the day before the convention begins - but said it could no longer agree to rally along the highway, in part because so many of its constituents had objected to it, threatening to dilute the strength of the assembly.

Organizers said they rejected the West Side site after failing to secure amenities from the city like shuttle buses and water, and learning that many of their member organizations and individuals simply would not attend.

"We believe there is still time to turn this thing around," Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, said at a late-morning news conference at the group's Midtown offices. Even given the short notice, "It would be very easy for us to communicate to people that we're going to Central Park," she continued. "When there is the political will to get something done, then the practical pieces fall into place."

But the Bloomberg administration said it would oppose any attempt to hold the rally in Central Park.

"The city has worked hard to accommodate a rally for 250,000 people, which, unlike other events that we have given permits for in Central Park, won't fit in the park," Edward Skyler, press secretary to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, said in a statement.

The group, the statement continued, "has already agreed to a route which will take them right by Madison Square Garden. With less than three weeks to go, the organizers need to concentrate their efforts on making the necessary arrangements and working with the city to ensure a safe event and stop the theatrics."

Organizers said that they had submitted the new application to rally on the Great Lawn, North Meadow and East Meadow in the hopes that city officials would change their minds, after rejecting their original request for the Great Lawn, in part because of crowd size. But park officials deemed the request as being for "essentially the same event" and denied it.

Where the group goes from here is up in the air, organizers said. "We're not going to allow this infringement on basic civil liberties," said Bill Dobbs, the group's media coordinator, adding that it was considering suing over the park. "The way you hang on to rights is you exercise them, and it is very important to hang on to the right to assemble."

Still, Ms. Cagan said, the group did not have plans to encourage people to simply show up in the park if it is not permitted to rally.

And the group is not alone in its conflict over the prime swath of city green space. Lawyers from the Partnership for Civil Justice and the National Lawyers Guild plan to file a suit in Federal District Court in Manhattan later this week on behalf of the National Council of Arab Americans and the Answer Coalition, an antiwar and civil rights group. That suit stems from the denial of a permit to the council for a rally of 75,000 people on the Great Lawn, below its official capacity of 80,000, on Aug. 28.

But momentum appears to be building among other groups and individuals who are seeking to descend on the park, permit or not, on Aug. 29, as the Republicans arrive in the city. At the same time, another group, the A31 Action Coalition, is purposely not asking for permits for any of its demonstrations, some illegal, in part because of what they see as United for Peace and Justice's difficulties with the city.Indeed, the dispute over the protest site has become a central part of the message of some of the protest groups.

"The city's denial of Central Park must be called for what it is: the chilling move of an emerging police state," said Tanya Mayo, an organizer for Not in Our Name, an antiwar group that pressed for reopening the fight for the park. "Everyone who cares about the future of our humanity: Central Park, Aug. 29, is the place to be."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 11th, 2004, 05:58 AM
August 11, 2004

Parties Plan to Capitalize on New York as Symbol, Depending on Their Point of View


When the Republicans chose New York City as the site of their national nominating convention, the symbolism seemed to play to the president's strength. But Democrats are hoping to turn the convention's location to their advantage.

The Democratic National Committee announced yesterday that it was sending a team to Manhattan to try to be a counterpoint during the convention, hoping to highlight what the party is calling President Bush's failures in New York.

"New York City is emblematic of Bush's failed leadership and broken promises around the country," said Jay Carson, spokesman for the new Democratic operation.

The Democratic operation will seek to draw on high-profile names - like retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the former presidential candidate, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton - to be surrogates for Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee. While none of the specifics have been completed, people working with the operation said the goal is to enlist national leaders and city officials.

Still, it will be hard for the Democrats to get their message out while vying for the attention of the 15,000 journalists and news media workers who will be accredited for the Republican National Convention, which runs from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. Generally the party that is playing host to the event controls the message, just as the Democrats did during their convention in Boston.

And in an era of politics as blood sports, the Republicans are planning a response for every response.

"The president's record of success is clear, and it marks a clear contrast to the junior senator's 20-year Senate voting record that includes cuts in intelligence, important weapons systems and votes against the death penalty for terrorists," said Leonardo Alcivar, a spokesman for the convention, who, like Mr. Carson, stuck with the party line.

The Democrats are faced not only with the task of trying to be heard over the din of the convention, but also with other obstacles. Many said they were surprised that the national party was only now - three weeks before the convention - actually pulling together this team, though Democratic officials said plans had long been in the works.

At the same time, while the Democrats can expect wide support in a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic, they have also run up against the infighting and weak institutions that have characterized the state party, which has been out of power in the state capital and in City Hall for many years, Democratic political operatives and others said.

New York Democrats have already complained, privately, that the Kerry camp has ignored the political needs of some local officials who may not benefit from political attacks on the administration, said several officials who spoke on the condition that they not be identified.

Others have stepped up, including the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, who hopes to challenge the Republican mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, next year. While Mr. Bloomberg's popularity has increased, the convention promises to test his ability to satisfy an electorate that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Mr. Miller, hoping to exploit that, has been sending letters to Democrats around the nation asking them to join the counterpoint effort.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Ron Newman
August 11th, 2004, 09:25 AM
From Salon.com:

New York lockdown (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/08/11/rnc_protest/index.html): Cops plan zero tolerance for violent protests at the GOP Convention. Militant groups plan to disrupt the city like never before. Welcome, delegates!

August 11th, 2004, 07:06 PM
With GOP Convention Just Weeks Away, New Yorkers Are Getting Restless

http://www.ny1.com/Content/images/live/66/131560.jpg (http://real.ny1.com:8080/ramgen/real3/000C634F_040811_142407hi.rm)

AUGUST 11TH, 2004

It’s now less than three weeks to go until the Republican National Convention hits Madison Square Garden, and city natives are getting restless. NY1's Monica Brown has the story.

In their 150-year history as an organization, the Republicans have never brought their national convention to Democratic New York City. The fact that they're breaking with tradition this year is not welcome news to some.

“The president is using New York as a platform for his convention, because he's just trying to exploit what happened at the Trade Towers, exploit all the suffering that people experienced, and I don't think that's he's sincere about very much,” says one New Yorker.

“I am leaving town. I'm not interested in being here,” says another. “I feel really frustrated that Republicans chose to come to New York, knowing that it’s a wholly Democratic city, and knowing that so many people are going to leave. I know that a lot of people are renting out their apartments and trying to gouge Republicans - I don't want a Republican staying in my apartment!”

Democratic New Yorkers were a lot more congenial back in 1992, the last time the city played host to a national convention, for their own party. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New Yorkers have to focus on the big picture; with 50,000 delegates, alternates, family members and journalists descending on the Big Apple, the mayor estimates a financial boost of about $265 million.

Not everyone will make money. Some sidewalk vendors will be forced out of the area that week when the streets get closed.

“I've been here so long already, how am I going to go somewhere else? Look for a new business?” says a vendor.”

The bottom line is, hard core Democrats aren't all that thrilled about the GOP having its Grand Old Party here in town. But talk to some average New Yorkers, and you'll see their concerns are anything but political.

“Get out of town - that's your best bet,” says one. “Don't do anything here - that's your best bet.”

“How am I going to get from A to B, and how is going to be that week?” says another. “I kind of wanted to get away, but it didn't work out that way, so I'll be here.”

“They could have done it elsewhere easily. I wish they would have,” says a third.

Of course, there is such a thing as laid-back New Yorker, though, those who say the Big Apple has always been the place to roll out the welcome mat.

“I think New York is a great city,” said one such New Yorker. “It's a great city, and clearly it's the best city in the United States for keeping things under control and for letting the process happen as it should.”

“New York has big, broad shoulders, although Chicago has that too!” says another. “But we welcome people, so it'll be fun. It'll be good that people from all over the country come to New York and see what a great place this is.”

- Monica Brown

Copyright © 2004 NY1 News.

August 11th, 2004, 07:10 PM
City Launches Campaign To Sell Itself To Convention Delegates

AUGUST 11TH, 2004

The city is trying to promote itself to Republicans town for the GOP National Convention at the end of the month.

More than 1,000 banners are being hung around town spotlighting New York City's thousands of restaurants, museums, pizza shops and nightclubs.

The banners contain clever messages such as, "Central Park has 200 species of birds - wear a hat,” or "190 places to see live theater, not counting every street corner."

The city says the program is aimed at communicating with delegates, guests and everyday New Yorkers the richness of the Big Apple’s diversity.

The campaign is being co-sponsored by Citibank.

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