eye in the sky
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he has concerns about controversial drones watching the city’s population, but he simply sees them as an inevitability.
“We’re just going into a different world, uncharted,” he said during his weekly WOR radio program, pointing to ubiquitous cameras on the outside of buildings. “Like it or not, what people can do–or governments can do–is different and you can to some extent control [it], but you can’t keep the tides from coming in. We’re going to have more visibility and less privacy. I don’t see how you stop that. It’s not a question whether I think it’s good or bad, I just don’t see how you can stop that because we’re going to have them.”
City Council Republicans and mayoral candidate Joe Lhota were mostly in sync with Mayor Michael Bloomberg today, denouncing a bill that would create an inspector general’s office for the NYPD.
“There’s no reason to have an inspector general office for the NYPD,” Mr. Lhota said at City Hall this morning. “It already has oversight by the five district attorneys, by the two U.S. attorneys, by various other organizations. Its just another level of bureaucracy that is being put upon the City of New York and it’s absolutely unnecessary.”
In his final State of the City address this afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a number of new policies he’ll implement in the last of his twelve years in office. In addition to banning Styrofoam in restaurants and an expansion of electric car parking space, among other initiatives, Mr. Bloomberg notably announced the city will simply ticket and release New Yorkers caught with misdemeanor amounts of marijuana, rather than holding them in custody.
“There’s more we can do to keep New Yorkers, particularly young men, from ending up with a criminal record,” Mr. Bloomberg declared. “Commissioner Kelly and I support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation, rather than a misdemeanor. And we’ll work to help him pass it this year. But I’ll tell you, we won’t wait for that to happen.”
Law & Order
Occupy Wall Street doesn’t want to be associated with the young West Village couple who were allegedly busted over the weekend with a houseful of explosives, weapons and a bomb-making guide. Morgan Gliedman, 27, and Aaron Greene, 31, were arrested Saturday after police reportedly found seven grams of highly explosive HMTD powder, a flare launcher, a shotgun, ammo, rifle magazines and instructions on making bombs, including a printout entitled “The Terrorist Encyclopedia,” at their home. An early report from the New York Post identified Mr. Greene as an “Occupy Wall Street activist,” but this afternoon the movement’s public relations arm said there is no evidence to support links between Mr. Greene and Occupy.
“There is nothing in the news stories to support a link between OWS and the individual arrested; his name is unfamiliar to many OWS activists,” the statement posted on the Occupy Wall Street Press Relations Working Group page said. “A very large number of people came through Zuccotti Park, and there are countless Occupy-related groups nationwide, so it is very difficult to ascertain if one person participated in anything related to OWS.”
Ray Kelly tends to stay out of politics, much to the dismay of some, but the city’s police commissioner fired a rhetorical shot at President Barack Obama while discussing gun violence with the Daily News yesterday.
“Maybe the city most affected (by guns) is Chicago,” Mr. Kelly said. “The President’s hometown. But barely a peep out of him.”
Running on Empty
Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced new regulations to ration gasoline in New York City. Based on the last digit of their licence plate number, drivers will be able to fill up their tanks exclusively on odd or even numbered days, starting at 6 a.m. this morning. And, on his weekly radio interview with John Gambling today, Mr. Bloomberg made it clear that there wouldn’t be a lot of options to get around the policy.
“What we have done is put a police officer at every gas station that’s open, and are committed to doing that to any gas station that is not open but will open, to make sure that there’s security and that people don’t get pushy in the line and that sort of thing,” he said. “But hopefully this will help. The real answer, all the experts believe, is just with time.”
From PD To PA
The field of candidates contemplating a run for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s job continues to grow. Over the weekend, Politicker reported Councilman Charles Barron was seriously considering a campaign, and today, Sidique Wai, an NYPD official involved in African and Muslim outreach, told us he was “seriously thinking” about mounting a campaign for the job himself. Mr. Wai, who’s also the President of the United African Congress, described the possibility as “really of interest to me.”
Earlier today, Talib Kweli spoke before a raucous police reform rally just outside City Hall, and he let the crowd know what he really thinks of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the way he encourages the NYPD to treat some New Yorkers as “second-class” citizens.
“I wrote some things down but I just want start by telling y’all that I came here today because I love this city,” Mr. Kweli said to begin his speech. “This is the greatest city in the world, that’s why I’m here today. But I’m here today because this city could be greater.”
Over the weekend, cement bricks were thrown through the windows of Congressman Michael Grimm’s campaign headquarters on Staten Island in an attack Mr. Grimm initially said he believed the attack was “politically motivated” and that it also left computers in the office with mysteriously erased hard drives. Today, an eighth grader confessed to smashing the windows with a friend, leading Mr. Grimm to admit “it is possible that a volunteer could have inadvertently compromised the computer and failed to report it.”
However, in spite of a New York Times report published Monday that cited an unnamed “law enforcement official” as saying, “police experts had examined the campaign’s computer systems and concluded that nothing had been erased or tampered with,” a spokesman for the NYPD said the investigation into the situation with Mr. Grimm’s computers is just beginning.
Congressman Michael Grimm and his campaign made a big deal about an alleged break-in at his headquarters last weekend, calling the incident “politically motivated” and “an assault on democracy,” claiming hard drives in the office were erased and comparing the situation to the deadly shooting that left former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords critically wounded last year.
According to the Associated Press, the explanation for the smashes windows at Mr. Grimm’s office is actually something far more innocent.
“Police say a teenager has admitted vandalizing the campaign office of New York Congressman Michael Grimm,” the AP report said. “NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says the eighth grader told a school counselor that he and a friend had broken a window over the weekend at the office on Staten Island.”