Yesterday Howard Wolfson slammed those politicians who are considering running for mayor in 2013 for not answering what he called–six times, in fact–the “central question” facing them and the city: ”Do you believe that the tenting and tarping should have continued in Zuccotti Park or do you think that it should have been stopped?”
Today, we reached out to Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio, Scott Stringer, John Liu and Tom Allon and asked them to respond to our post, especially to the question of whether or not tents and tarps should be allowed to remain in the park.
Only three of the potential candidates responded to our inquiry.
Audrey Gelman, spokeswoman for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer wrote to The Politicker in an email that the ruling yesterday should stand:
Justice Stallman found that the First Amendment does not protect the protesters’ right to have tents in the park. That decision may be appealed, but in the meantime, people must comply with his decision and the Police Department must enforce the rules equitably. The Borough President remains deeply troubled by the multiple arrests of reporters who were simply doing their job and reports of blocked media access during Tuesday morning’s events.
Bill de Blasio meanwhile suggested that the tents and tarps should have been allowed to stay in Zuccotti Park until a new arrangement could be made:
The Administration should have let the situation in Zuccotti Park play out. There were still opportunities to resolve outstanding issues, including finding an alternative site that would have proved less problematic. Ibelieve the current state of the protests and the increased City resources required to manage them represent a significant setback.
Christine Quinn said that the administration shouldn’t look backwards, but rather make sure that free speech remains protected going forward
Instead of looking backwards and relitigating a matter already settled by the courts, the Bloomberg Administration should be looking forward and working to ensure the protesters’ First Amendment rights are protected while balancing the community’s rights to a safe and secure neighborhood.
From a political messaging standpoint, it is worth noting how Mr. Wolfson is trying to shape the terms of the debate. While he says the question of tenting in Zuccotti is the critical issue of the week, those vying to replace his boss don’t agree, and so don’t really answer the question. For Mr. Stringer, the major issue is reporters’s rights; for Mr. de Blasio and Ms. Quinn, it’s how the administration’s brash actions created more trouble than was necessary.
For the record, a spokesman for Mr. Thompson declined to weigh in. We have not heard from Mr. Liu or Mr. Allon.
Mr. Allon wrote in with the following:
Deputy Mayor Wolfson’s attempt to spin the Administration’s dead of night, military-style raid on sleeping protesters into a health and safety issue simply doesn’t conform with reality. Rather than worrying about the 2013 mayoral race, Wolfson should be explaining to the public why over the last two days roughing up and arresting journalists for daring to report on Occupy Wall Street has appeared to become a matter of policy.
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