Feb 08, 2012 Walt Shepperd Uncategorized
At 3:44 p.m. the Mayor called for a vote on the Tuesday, January 31, one-item agenda before the board of the Syracuse Urban Renewal Agency, Resolution 3182, “authorizing the contracting officer to execute documents allowing for or denying access to SURA property.” Notice of the special 3 p.m. meeting had gone out the day before from Common Council Majority Leader Lane Denno, noting that the agenda item, “according to administration officials is a resolution to change SURA regulations to make it illegal for a person to loiter on SURA property between dusk and dawn,” adding that “those in violation could be arrested on a ‘trespass affidavit,’” and “the new rule would impact the Occupy Syracuse movement camped out at Perseverance Park on Salina Street.”
About two dozen Occupiers waited quietly in the hall outside the entrance to the Mayor’s office while four television news cameras we setting up in the Mayor’s second floor conference room and city officials and staffers found seats or standing room along the side wall. At 3:01 the Occupiers filed in filling the seats as the Mayor, who is also chair of the three-person SURA board, opened the meeting, saying she had asked the Police Chief to answer questions and have a discussion. “We had no issue with their being there,” the Police Chief clarified the SPD position on the Occupiers presence in Perseverance Park. He explained their concern that the protesters “not return to the encampment that it was, not overnight.”
The Mayor asked the Chief if sleeping was allowed in any city park overnight, to which the Chief cited his department’s relations with the city’s Homeless Task Force and several area shelters. The mayor asked if it were safe to sleep overnight in city parks. Not, the Chief replied, in urban America. The mayor said that while she didn’t have to, she would open the floor for questions. The first question asked whether the resolution under consideration was in retaliation for the Occupiers mock ball outside the Mayor’s Landmark Theater fund-raiser. The question enabled articulation of the probably unprecedented deal the Mayor had made with the Occupation Force.
No, the Mayor said, the proposed resolution was the result of that agreement being violated for the fourth time, each related to an element of propane banned by the agreement, and reported after inspections by the Syracuse Fire Department. “As a community we have decided that from dusk ‘til dawn people should not be sleeping in our public parks,” the Mayor summed up, although she and the Chief asserted that people could protest on public sidewalks 24 hours a day, again if they weren’t sleeping.
A reference by a Mohawk woman activist to the obscene amounts of money raised for political campaigns gave the Mayor pause for reflection. “If I didn’t raise money I couldn’t be mayor,” she said. “And I like very much being mayor. In a perfect world I would not want to be raising money.”
Back in the imperfect world, the Mayor closed the floor for questions after making sure anyone with one had a chance to ask it. “Each gets one bite at the apple,” she noted, and called for a vote from the SURA board. Resolution 3182 passed unanimously.