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Following Tuesday’s events surrounding the Occupy Wall Street demonstration at Zuccotti Park, one thing is certain: the movement and the message is bigger than the square block it first occupied eight weeks ago.
It is now clear that the O.W.S. response in the coming days and weeks will be paramount in terms of making sure the original message, that corporate greed should not influence government, continues to resonate amongst the ’99 percent.’
As of press time, certain legal issues are still up for debate, such as whether or not a park, even a privately-owned park, can promulgate new rules directly associated with, and in reaction to, protesters’ First Amendment rights. We are however proud that these issues will play out where they should: in our courts.
New York City has always occupied the spotlight that shines on and illuminates the diversity and freedoms that so many people across the world have come to associate with this country. But it is clear that O.W.S. will not be able to continue in the manner it has. There will be no tents, no sleeping bags and no tarps allowed in Liberty Square. But the voices, the ideas and the cause can and should continue to exist if for only one reason: Dialogue is critical and essential when it comes to democracy. The chant, “This is what democracy looks like” gives us goose bumps and gives us hope.
We hope the next chapter in the O.W.S. movement, one that does not include tents and health and safety hazards, one that can exist in the open and can accommodate everyone in the community, progresses beyond Zuccotti Park, beyond Lower Manhattan and truly becomes a movement.
B.P.C.A. – right direction, wrong move
Last Friday the Battery Park City Authority laid off 19 employees. Reports indicated the employees had no prior knowledge of the impending pink slips they found on their desks, no prior knowledge that the Authority was even considering a scaling down of the agency and no previous indication that their jobs were in jeopardy. To our dismay, these reports proved factual.
Six months ago, we called for this city-state agency to implement a sunset plan. We did so in the wake of a report released by the Inspector General that showed the agency had “overspent” in regard to a corporate party. However, we pointed out that the overspending paled in comparison to the overspending by private sector corporations on the same type of events.
Nonetheless we noted that the B.P.C.A. had fulfilled its role, citing the development of 99 percent of the land it was created to oversee. We said, six months ago, that the Authority should sunset and praised it as an example of urban planning that the rest of the country could aspire to.
But, a sun sets slowly and carefully. It doesn’t simply disappear without warning.
We cannot ignore the obvious link between the Authority’s Board Chair, William Thompson, his mayoral ambitions, and how this downsizing is meant to burnish his credentials come campaign season. That said, we ask Mr. Thompson to explain why this move was carried out in such a callous manner. We also ask B.P.C.A. President Gayle Horwitz to explain why, after less than a year on the job, this restructuring of operations had to occur without some basic decencies due to departing employees.
The B.P.C.A. needs to wind down after a successful run, but we are sad to see it done without respect for the people who helped build the foundation on which it will be remembered.