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Thread: 2004 Republican Convention in NYC

  1. #136
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    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.

  2. #137


    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

  3. #138


    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

  4. #139


    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'? ops:

  5. #140


    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

  6. #141


    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

  7. #142
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    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, 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.

  8. #143
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    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.

  9. #144
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    "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:

  10. #145
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    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 — — 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.

  11. #146
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Wieland
    RNC Temporary Bridge (under construction):

  12. #147


    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

  13. #148


    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

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    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.

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    Manhattan - UWS



    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.

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