Sunday, January 31, 2010

Security Blanket for New York - with a few holes in it.

Not Know How!
Terror Trials’ Security Blanket Full of Holes, Thousands of ‘em!

If the terror trials take place in lower Manhattan as planned, there is absolutely no way Ray Kelly can guarantee our safety.  It’s impossible. Why?  Because there are currently thousands of false parking placards used everyday in our town, especially in lower Manhattan near the federal court buildings. In a recent meeting with Chinatown leaders Commissioner Kelly pointed that THERE WILL BE NO PRIVATE Cars allowed in the soft zone perimeter - "only government and NYPD vehicles" .

That suspicious white van at Times Square, ignored for two whole days because of a fake parking placard, exposed a gaping hole in the NYPD security blanket.  This hole would only get larger with the terror trials located in lower Manhattan.  Commissioner Kelly acknowledged: "There's no question, we should've known about it earlier."  Well, earlier would have been impossible because enforcement officers on the street are instructed to give placarded parked cars a pass.  

At this time the Feds have not taken lower Manhattan off the table as a location for the trials.  It also seems they have not taken the fake parking placard/car bomb threat seriously because this threat is not even mentioned in the media at large.  Excuse me, but shoving this placarded car bomb threat under the rug does not make it go away!   

For years post 9/11, a time of extreme heightened security, the number of placarded cars increased many times at great cost to the local communities’ economy and quality of life. Planning to locate the terror trials in lower Manhattan federal court portends a devastating repeat of the same – only this time with the additional threat of placarded terrorist car bombs exploding in and around our neighborhood!

Federal Courts unsecurable for terror trials in lower Manhattan - Just like post 9/11, securing the area entails a multitude of government employee vehicles using parking permits everyday (and let’s not forget the dozens of press vehicles that would also be present on a daily basis).  The federal court vicinity and bordering neighborhoods would become a magnet for a huge number of placarded vehicles - each one of which could be a car bomb.  

Obviously, the threat of placarded car bombs would not exist elsewhere on Governor's Island or any similar location where access to vehicle parking is exclusively controlled.  The sooner the Feds realize this car bomb threat isunsecurable, the safer we all will be.  Get the trials outta here to a place that can actually be secured!  

Geoff Lee
Lifelong Chinatown Resident
Lives 1-block from Federal Court Bldg

Coverage of the Struggle from the Tribeca Trib newspaper - They got it right !

Residents Win Uphill Campaign to Move Sept. 11 Terror Trial



n November, residents living near the Federal courthouse pose for a photo as they begin their fight to move the terrorist trials. Behind them, to the right, is the courthouse where the trial was to take place. On the left is Chatham Towers, where many of the residents live.
In November, residents living near the Federal courthouse pose for a photo as they begin their fight to move the terrorist trials. Behind them, to the right, is the courthouse where the trial was to take place. On the left is Chatham Towers, where many of the residents live. Jeanie Chin, a leading organizer of the protest, is at center, in sunglasses.
What started last November with a low rumble—little more than conversation around dinner tables and at small meetings held in community rooms in a pair of Chinatown apartment blocks—grew to a roar by late last month, so loud that the White House got the message: Move the Sept. 11 terror trials out of Lower Manhattan.

News that the Justice Department has abandoned New York City as a location for the trials of Khalid Sheik Muhammad and other suspected Sept. 11 terrorists seemed a quixotic dream when residents living near the intended venue, the Moynihan Federal Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street, took up the fight against overwhelming political odds.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement in November to hold the trial in Lower Manhattan came with the ringing endorsements of Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin. Local elected officials said they would work to mitigate the impact, but viewed the years-long trials Downtown as inevitable.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the city had to make sure that residents “don’t get trampled.” But he called changing the mind of the Justice Department “not realistic.” “It would cause an international uproar,” he told a gathering of residents from Chatham Towers and Chatham Green.

City Councilman Alan Gerson opposed the government plan but politically, he said, “It looks like the decision has been made.”

Only this angry band of residents on the edge of Chinatown was saying otherwise.

“I’m so glad that people have come to their senses and woken up to the fact that we would be living under lockdown if this plan went through,” said Jeanie Chin, a 25-year resident of Chatham Towers and a leader in the fight.

Chin and her neighbors predicted that their western edge of Chinatown would turn into a military stronghold. Those fears were confirmed Jan. 19, as Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly laid out key elements of his department’s extensive, $200-million-a-year plan to safeguard Lower Manhattan against the threat of a terrorist attack during the trials.

“It would be the end of Chinatown as we know it,” Chin said. “Implementing that kind of security would have choked the life out of our residents and our businesses.”

Community Board 1 Chair Jullie Menin speaks to the board's executive committee earlier this month as they prepare to pass a resolution calling on the Justice Department to move the terror trial to Governors Island. From left, Marc Ameruso, John Fratta, Menin and Ro Sheffe.
Community Board 1 Chair Jullie Menin speaks to the board's executive committee earlier this month as they prepare to pass a resolution calling on the Justice Department to move the terror trial to Governors Island. From left, Marc Ameruso, John Fratta, Menin and Ro Sheffe.
The Police Department’s plan called for both Chatham Towers and Chatham Green to be located with a “hard zone” bounded by Worth, Madison, Pearl and Centre Streets, where security would be extraordinarily tight. The area would be surrounded on all sides by more than 2,000 metal barriers, restricting pedestrian and vehicle access. Sharpshooters would be placed on rooftops to guard against enemy snipers, while assault and canine teams would patrol the ground. Anyone entering what Kelly called the frozen zone would have to pass police inspection. Police helicopters would hover overhead.

“I think the government thought they could just throw us under the bus in Chinatown, that we were just a bunch of immigrants and no one would care,” Chin said, recounting the dozens of letters written to elected officials, and the protests and press conferences her group organized in the early days of their resistance, all of it receiving little if any city-wide coverage.

The group finally got the attention of Community Board 1 on Dec. 15, when more than two dozen residents attended the board’s monthly meeting to protest the trials at their doorsteps. Chin credits Marc Ameruso as one of the only members to embrace her group prior to the December meeting. Ameruso introduced a resolution, which was not voted on, asking that the President and Attorney General put the trials someplace “that will not affect the safety or quality of life of New Yorkers."

Julie Menin had already penned a column in the Huffington Post a month prior to the meeting supporting the decision to hold the trials Downtown, and wrote a second column in support of the plan two days after hearing from the Chinatown residents. The board would wait until January, she said, to discuss a position on the trials.

“I can’t understand [your] approving of having these trials here when they will devastate this community,” Chatham Towers resident Toby Turkel said at the December meeting, speaking directly to Menin. “It’s like a train wreck about to happen and the train is coming at us.”

Police officials had devised a security plan for the terror trials that would have placed the apartment complexes of Chatham Towers and Chatham Green within a highly restricted zone.
Police officials had devised a security plan for the terror trials that would have placed the apartment complexes of Chatham Towers and Chatham Green within a highly restricted zone.
In interviews with the Trib, Menin said she had a change of heart after police officials released preliminary cost estimates for its security plan. She said the price tag—an estimated $216 million for the first year of the trials and $200 million each subsequent year—was a clear sign that the lives of residents, workers and business owners near the courthouse would be put at too great a risk.

“I still think a civilian, federal trial is the most appropriate thing to do. I haven’t changed on that,” Menin said. “But when the cost estimate comes out to more than $1 billion over the course of a few years, that changes the dynamic. It suggests that the site may not be safe at all. Hearing that, who in their right mind could say that makes sense?”

Menin began vigorously lobbying officials for a change of venue and wrote a Jan. 17 New York Times op-ed piece calling for the trials to be moved to the former military outpost on nearby Governors Island. A CB1 committee unanimously supported the idea in a resolution later that week, but Commissioner Kelly rejected the plan as impractical, “principally because of risks related to transporting the prisoners to and from the island, as well as the general lack of modern infrastructure there.”

A week later, the full membership of the board passed a second resolution asking the Justice Department to consider one of three more alternate New York locations: Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh; the US Military Academy at West Point or the Bureau of Prisons jail complex in Orange County.

“It’s a real vindication,” Menin said following news that Justice officials appeared to be considering the board’s suggestions. “We made a real public stance on this issue, and rather than just throwing up our hands and saying ‘not in our backyard,’ we gave the Justice Department some very viable options for moving these trials.”

CB1’s efforts got a big boost from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another early advocate of holding the trials Downtown. As late as Jan. 22, the day Bloomberg called moving the trials to Governors Island “one of the dumber ideas” he had heard, the Mayor had not wavered from his early espousal of the Justice Department’s plan. But at a press conference six days later, a Trib reporter asked Bloomberg whether Lower Manhattan was still the most appropriate place for the trials, and for the first time he said he would support moving them.

“There are other places where it would be a lot less expensive and less inconvenient for people,” Bloomberg said, offering no specific suggestions. “Hopefully [the federal government] will look at that.”

That sentiment, which he echoed the next day to a New York Times reporter, prompted a number of other prominent politicians who had initially supported the idea—or thought it a fait accompli—to fall in line. Within hours of Bloomberg’s comments, elected officials, including Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Sen. Charles Schumer, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, all had released statements or were quoted in news reports urging the Justice Department to move the trials.

“The Lower Manhattan neighborhoods in which this courthouse is located are only now recovering from the physical, emotional and financial devastation caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and therefore the impacts of this trial site choice are likely to be extremely burdensome,” Nadler, Stringer and Silver said in a joint statement with several other elected officials.

Finally, on Jan. 28, Bloomberg said he had called the White House and the Justice Department, asking both to reconsider holding the trials in Lower Manhattan.

“I just pointed out again yesterday that it’s very expensive, and it's very disruptive to people who live in the area,” Bloomberg said in a radio interview the following morning. “I can tell you that I would prefer if it were elsewhere.”

Even as moving the trial appeared certain, Chin continued to stand her ground, taking nothing for granted. “We have to make sure it’s a done deal, because it’s the dumbest idea ever,” she said in a telephone interview. “If [Holder] needs to hear that even louder, we’d be glad to oblige him.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

Moving the terrorist trials to an island away from residents in Chinatown considered "dumb" - according to Mayor Bloomberg - why did he get elected again?

Mayor calls island trial move 'dumb'

Mayor Bloomberg this morning called moving the 9/11 terror trials to Governors Island “one of the dumber ideas” he’s ever heard, but the idea picked up steam Thursday anyway.

The mayor made the explosive comment Thursday morning at a Gracie Mansion meeting with about two dozen newspaper publishers including John W. Sutter, publisher of Downtown Express and other Community Media newspapers. The mayor’s comment was not immediately reported, and Thursday’s momentum probably proceeded without knowledge of his views.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Community Board 1 passes a resolution to explore moving the terrorist trials to Governor's island

A major hurdle was overcome in moving the terrorist trials out of Chinatown last evening.
CB1 Chair Julie Menin urged her Board to vote in favor of a resolution to move the terrorist trials away from Chinatown and over to Governor's Island, a secure sight with no residents and 127 acres of park land.

From  :  " At the end of the night, the board, led by chair by Julie Menin, passed a strongly-worded resolution addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder specifically requesting that the trial be moved to Governors Island, if not out of Manhattan entirely.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, speaking at a New York Press Club event on Tuesday, said the security measures are necessary during the trials, which are expected to last several years.

"We are very much aware of and sensitive to … the challenges that present itself for the Chinatown community," Kelly told DNAinfo.  "We simply have no other choice."

Read more:

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bloomberg is adamant about bringing back CONGESTION TAXING of NYC cars and trucks

Congestion taxing to rear its ugly head once more - if Bloomberg is not stopped - Here's what we're in for

As if trampling New York citizens' right to chose by referendum (re: term limits) isn't enough, this out-of-touch billionaire's pet congestion pricing tax is again looming now that the Bloomberg is Mayor once again.  

The below is extracted from Bloomberg's own news website.  Bloomberg will ensure that New York will be a mirror of London and the divide between the middle-class and rich will widen due to congestion pricing. How many more small businesses will Bloomberg kiss goodbye to? Congestion taxing is COSTING London businesses almost $500-million dollars a year, and we can bet it's the small businesses that are most affected. 

[Bloomberg News] The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it all - as they have said in the past (accents are mine): 

London's Mayor to Increase Underground, Bus Fares
The city's traffic-congestion charge also increases next year, to as much as 10 pounds a day from 8 pounds, the mayor said. “We are in desperate need of ... ]
London will introduce a new automated direct-debit system for collecting the congestion charge, and the fee will increase to 10 pounds [ that's $15.97 U.S. dollars!! ] by December 2010 for drivers who don’t use the system, and 9 pounds for those who do, he said.
The higher congestion charge “will mean less money in businesses’ bank accounts and fewer customers in the capital’s shops,” Helen Hill, director of policy at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in an e-mailed statement. The higher fares will place “even more financial pressure on London’s businesses and their employees as we try and make the jump from recession to recovery.”
Cost of Decline
The economic decline will cost Transport for London, the city’s transportation agency, a total of 300 million pounds this year [ that's $ 479,171,235 U.S. dollars!! ], mostly through lost ticket and advertising revenue, an aide to the mayor said. Passenger traffic is expected to fall by as much 6 percent in 2010 and won’t pick up before 2012, said Peter Hendy, London transport commissioner.

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2005.

Bloomberg touts London as fine example of the benefits of congestion pricing. (New Yorkers, you have to be crazy to go for this, please read the numbers below - And, I've not news for you, it does not get better in 2006)

[Impact of the scheme on business

Our Findings

The LCCI firmly believes that any system to address congestion within London should
not have an adverse effect on London's businesses.

In order to ascertain the impact of the scheme on the capital’s key retail sector, we carried out three surveys of retailers, after
six, twelve and eighteen months of the scheme’s operation. Our results have shown that
congestion charging has created many problems for businesses.

The findings of our most(12)
recent survey show that:

• 84.2% of retail businesses have reported that their takings are down year on year
• 62.7% of retailers recorded a fall in customer numbers since the introduction of the charge

• 37% of respondents stated they had laid off staff specifically because of the
effects of the charge

• 33% of retail businesses within the zone say they are planning to re-locate because of reduced takings while 28% said they were considering closing their business

 92% of retail businesses do not believe the congestion charge has benefited their business

The London Chamber is very concerned that the current congestion charging scheme is
damaging businesses, and is, therefore, extremely worried that to increase the charge by
60% will only serve to increase the difficulties encountered by business. - From the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry - "Response to the Consultation on the Proposed Cost Increase to the Congestion Charging Scheme"Campaigns Team

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another reason why dashboard placards are DANGEROUS ...

This story is posted by GOTHAMIST

Senator Espada Uses Placard to Block Hydrant Days After Bronx Fire

Two days after a second devastating fire destroyed several businesses in the Norwood section of The Bronx, a Mercedes Benz registered to controversial State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. was observed illegally parked in front of a fire hydrant with a Police Vehicle Identification placard in the window. The Benz was noticed by Boogie Downer, whose photos were then picked up by the permanently galled Uncivil Servants blog (which specializes in photos of parking placard abuse). Police parking permits are not typically issued to legislators, and parking at a hydrant is illegal at all times, even for those with official permits.
Last night Espada issued this statement to a local tabloid, which posted it on the Internet: "While I cannot check at the moment because I am in conference at the Senate retreat in upstate New York, I am certain that the police placard was issued at the request of a member of my staff." (It would be a shame if this flap ruins the big Senate retreat; today they're doing trust falls!)
Of course, in his defense, Espada's vehicle wasn't there overnight—probably because his actual full-time residence is (allegedly) not in his district, but is in Westchester, which is something the Bronx DA has supposedly been investigating

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The history of the color purple

Purple was the color worn by senators in Ancient Rome. It became the color of Royalty when Octavian became the first Emperor of Rome and named himself Augustus Caesar. That was around 40 BC, but I don't know the exact date. Purple was always the color of Roman Emperors, and then the Byzantine Emperors. It went from there to the courts of Medieval Europe. In medieval Europe, blue dyes were rare and expensive, so only the most wealthy or the aristocracy could afford to wear them. (The working class wore mainly green and brown.) Because of this (and also because Tyrian purple had gone out of use in western Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476), Europeans' idea of purple shifted towards this more bluish purple known as royal purple because of its similarity to the royal blue worn by the aristocracyViagra Products
This was the purple worn by kings in medieval Europe.

Me thinks his majesty is trying to make a point.......on this, his inauguration day.

The dynasty continues.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Government dashboard placards = terrorist tools - Mayor Bloomberg "Dump those placards"

The point has been made in front of our own eyes recently that dashboard placards are downright dangerous in the post 9/11 world we live in. If there was one single tool that is useful to terrorist, it's not a van with explosives, it's a van with explosives AND A PLACARD.   The placard gives the terrorist unhindered access to sensitive areas, allows him to park for hours,and puts US all in jeopardy. What good is a police barricade when all it takes is a piece of laminated paper (bought for $20.00) to gain access?

The Civic Center Residents Coalition has been saying for years that using an illegal placard amounts to impersonating an officer, this is what happened at Times Sq. We are all lucky that this unattended van was not used for terrorist purposes. Lucky, that is , this time.  The word is out now that there are simply too many bogus placards out there, combined with the intimidation the placard represents, that enforcement of parking rules is virtually impossible. This makes us unsafe Mr. Mayor.

The use of placards , so long as there is a single bogus placard in existence, confuses ticket agents and makes enforcement virtually impossible. This is the reason why NYC must do away with placards completely !  Three years ago we said this, and now our case has been made very clear.

If the Mayor and his bogus DOT commissioner Sadik "Con" refuse to completely revoke all placards and enact fast fleet technology for all government associated vehicles, both government fleet and privately owned, then we will be in constant danger . Fast Fleet technology, already in use in other cities in America, negates the use of placards and relies on 21st technology which is already in place in the rental car industry ; satellite tracking.

The reluctance of a full transition from plastic laminated paper placards (easily forged and confusing to ticket agents) to tracking all government employees by satellite is no longer a choice that needs to be debated, tested, ,and bartered, it is a necessity. The current system wastes tens of millions of dollars (all of which can be used for the subway infrastructure) AND thanks to this recent NY Times article we now know the DANGER of this system can kill thousands of NY'ers.

What's your excuse now Mayor Bloomberg?

The threat is real, the placards must be replaced by fast fleet. There is no longer a choice.

Here is the NY Times article:

Police Say Placard Misled Them Into Overlooking a Suspect Van in Times Square

Published: December 31, 2009
A bogus placard on the windshield of a suspicious-looking van played a role in why the Police Department did not investigate the vehicle for two days while it was parked in Times Square, a police spokesman said Thursday.
The vehicle’s owner, meanwhile, was arrested and charged with a felony.
The van was reported to the police Wednesday morning by a security officer at Condé Nast, which has offices in Times Square. The authorities closed nearby streets for two hours and evacuated part of the Condé Nast and Nasdaq buildings as bomb squad officers arrived with a robot to search the vehicle.
The windows on the vehicle, a white 1997 Dodge Ram Van, had been blacked out, and it had no license plates. It had been parked on Broadway between 41 and 42nd Streets since Monday, and it should have aroused police suspicions before officers were called to investigate, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.
“We certainly would have preferred to have found it earlier; we think we should have,” Mr. Browne said. “But we appreciate the fact that an alert security person from Condé Nast did.”
The episode put a spotlight on the department’s security strategies just before the annualNew Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.
Mr. Browne said that the windshield placard made the van appear to be an official law enforcement vehicle. He said it “may have misled traffic enforcement agents who would otherwise have paid closer attention to it.”
The placard was produced by a group that charges $20 a piece for such items, and it was “clearly designed to try to avoid parking summonses,” Mr. Browne said.
The van’s owner, George Freyer, 36, of New Jersey, was arrested about 6 p.m. Thursday after arriving with his lawyer at the Midtown South station house. He was charged with possession of a forged instrument, a felony, and a lesser charge that was not immediately clear. The felony charge, the police said, was related to an expired out-of-state vehicle registration document on which a new expiration date had been written by hand.
The police said the van was loaded with folding tables and scarves, and they did not believe that Mr. Freyer intended any harm.
Mr. Browne said traffic enforcement agents, who are Police Department employees, were educated about the proper use of official parking placards and dashboard-mounted permits. He said the placard discovered in the van would be added to a list of “photographs of bogus placards” to help the traffic agents perform their jobs.

Just try to pick out the "bogus" placard among these, apparently a NYPD traffic agent can do it either.
As Michael Bloomberg claims NYC is a safer City than it was in 2001, we have our doubts so long as
his employees are allowed to hide terrorists in our own neighborhoods by using placards on dashboards.